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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017

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RAIN RETURNS THURSDAY for at least another week. Mendo can expect another four or five inches of rain starting Thursday and continuing for at least five more days. Windy conditions will prevail over most of that time while temps remain chilly ranging from the mid-40s to the mid-50s.

THE NAVARRO RIVER will ramp up reflecting the downpours but is not expected to flood.

JANUARY'S TWO WET FEET — Yorkville recorded an astounding 24.92 inches of rain during the month of January, elevating their season total to 51.96 inches. High Roller precipitation totals over the past four months:

  • 24.92" January
  • 9.92" December
  • 6.76" November
  • 10.36" October

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HERE’S THE LINK to a story called “Survival of the Richest — Why some of America’s wealthiest people are prepping for disaster” by Evan Osnos.

IT SURPRISED ME that a large number of tycoons, many of them having amassed tech fortunes, have zero confidence in the basic structures of our frazzled country. One billionaire puts the whole article into this sentence: “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now." Forty percent of the mega-rich seem to think that “stockpiling beans and rice is a better investment than a 401k.” Hell, I believe that, but I don’t believe that unregulated capitalism is a rational way to build a society on. I think Uncle Whiskers was right. The rich get richer, most of us get hungrier until we explode. I’d say we’re at the beginning of that continuum, not that it can happen, or will happen, any time soon, although Trump has certainly expedited mass dissent on a range of issues.

BUT THE BILLIONAIRE survivalists are thinking in apocalyptic terms. They fear mass attacks by mobs if/when the economy collapses, social dissolution after natural calamities like earthquakes, killer disease outbreaks… One guy drags out the truly hysterical fear that a huge hunk of California will break off into the Pacific.

ONCE YOU SET out on the Possibilities Path you will live with a constant case of the heebie jeebies. Stay with Probabilities, and stay off the internet, transmitter of fear and irrationality.

LET’S say it all happens at once, the same month, say. A massive earthquake cripples north and south California, the national economy collapses to Great Depression levels, on-line pornography begins to transmit STD’s along with its images, roving bands of desperate thugs mass frontal attacks on wealthy neighborhoods. Etc.

FIRST OFF, the apocalypse assumes an absence of authority — police, emergency services apparatuses, even the military, all of the people who roll for catastrophes. Even at unemployment levels of 30 to 40 percent as occurred in The Depression, when there was no government safety net of any kind, there was very little disorder, nobody starved. Of course we’re not the same people we were then; the Depression-era generations were tougher, much more resilient, and there were still, millions of them, rural, meaning they could live out of their backyards. Today’s population will be more unruly in a context of civic collapse, and they’ll be wholly dependent for everything for a relatively brief period while the Big Mac economy boots back up. The economy that collapsed during the Depression was the speculative part of the economy, the swindling bankers and investment brokers. It will collapse again. Its collapse causes a lot of people a lot of pain, but much of the economy simply will go on making and selling stuff although long-term, oil dependence is not sustainable.

ONE of more sensible and humane billionaires interviewed thinks his rich pals investing in golf course estates in New Zealand to escape to are not only wrong in their apocalyptic assumptions, but they could avoid them altogether via a fair system of taxation and government investment in the basic amenities of life — jobs, housing, effective education, single payer, and so on. The tension we all feel is really, at bottom, caused by the growing economic injustice that will be hastened and deepened by Trump.

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Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): “…we are nine meals away from a revolution…”

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Yeah, I like a beer or two at the end of the day, and Boonville Beer is the beer I drink. Exclusively. Know why? I know the people who make it, and I've toured the place. The whole show started right down the street with a chiropractor and a contractor, and now you can get it all over the world!”

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ANYONE with an existing internet connection and a wireless router but with an office outside the optimal range of the router might want to consider the Linksys 4-port RE6500 Wi-Fi range extender. They’re on significant markdown at Amazon (and other outlets) at the moment. For about $70 bucks you can get much improved connection speeds at a significantly wider connection radius range. We recently installed one for the office and so far it’s just the ticket. Easy to install and set-up with a handy and helpful website/app. They’re made in Taiwan, but we’re pretty sure Trump will bring the manufacture of these neat little devices back to “America” real, real soon.

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To: Caltrans, P.O. Box 942873, Sacramento, CA 94273

Re: Caltrans proposed speed zone change in the Philo area of State Route Highway 128.

On January 24, 2017, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Caltrans held a noticed public hearing regarding a proposed speed zone change in the Philo area of State Route Highway 128. Several members of the Philo community expressed concerns during the public hearing regarding public safety along State Route Highway 128.

A primary issue of concern was the lack of notice regarding the public hearing provided by Caltrans. Members of the public, the Anderson Valley Community Services District, and the Board of Supervisors expressed concern that the public hearing was noticed in the Ukiah Daily Journal and on the Caltrans Facebook page but not in the local newspaper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which is the primary news source for the Philo area. Additionally, the Anderson Valley Community Services District was not formally notified of the public hearing. It is the recommendation of the Board of Supervisors that future public noticing for the Anderson Valley area include notice in the local newspaper and formal notice to the Anderson Valley Community Services District.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, in recognition of the concerns of the Philo community, requests Caltrans perform the following actions to preserve public safety along state Route Highway 128:

While the board and the public support lowering the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph for the half-mile stretches on either side of the town, neither support increasing the speed limit to 35 mph through the town. The board formally requests that Caltrans retain the 30 mph speed limit in the town of Philo.

The board further requests the Caltrans work with the California Highway Patrol to increase enforcement on State Route Highway 128, particularly in the highway corridors approaching Philo.

Finally, the Board of Supervisors requests that Caltrans implement context-sensitive design in the Philo area to create visual speed reduction cues for drivers.

Thank you for your consideration of this issue.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors strongly urges the measures outlined in his letter to be taken to preserve the safety of Philo residents and visitors.


John McCowen, Chair, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, January 24, 2017

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CARL SHAPIRO, the ultimate public defender, has died at his home in Fairfax. Carl was 100, and lucid to the very end, lucid enough to laugh at being sent home from Kaiser Hospital because “We’re not a terminal care facility.” Tony Serra, a famed criminal defense attorney himself, told me once, “I want to be Carl Shapiro when I grow up.” Nobody is likely to be the kind of people's lawyer that Carl was. Born on Bastille Day appropriately enough, Carl could have parlayed his brains into piles of money but instead spent his life defending the otherwise undefended and, some would say, the indefensible. A veteran of World War Two’s little known Alaska Front, Carl, a Harvard graduate at the time that institution maintained quotas for Jews, landed in Marin when persons of ordinary means could still afford to buy in. An associate of the Hallinan law firm in his youth, Carl has never been able to say no to a defendant, and he's had some doozies, including yours truly, and the guy who burglarized Daniel Ellsberg's house in Mill Valley and was still wearing Ellsberg's shoes when the cops picked him up. And a rapist who was caught running down a highway with his pants down, to name the kind of defendants Carl was likely to be seen with at the defense table with. Without Carl and his late wife Helen, both of whom always went all-out for defendants even public defenders tried to run from, the truly hopeless would be that much more hopeless. When Carl appeared in Mendocino County’s Superior Court, lawyers packed the room to watch him work and, in his late 80s, he worked without a net, admitting to me, “I’m so old judges are afraid to crack down on me.” (Local connection: Carl is step-grandfather to Kevin Davenport, prosecutor at Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg.)

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by Jeff Costello

Houseboat War 1.5  1974-5

Carl Shapiro vs. the City of Sausalito

A yellow dredge sat scuttled in Richardson Bay. less than 100 yards south of the Napa St. pier, and about the same distance from the shoreline and the Sausalito Cruising Club.  It was a barge with huge steel tanks for flotation, a wooden deck and 2-story superstructure.

For anyone who might not know, a dredge is a very large piece of marine equipment, more or less a waterborne earth mover.  Its purpose is to remove large amounts of sea, bay or river bed for the purpose of creating channels in relatively shallow water to accommodate deep-draft vessels.  Think Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel, way bigger, on a barge.  The lower part of the superstructure still contained most of the machinery that operated the 120-ft. boom, which still hung out over the bay supported by its steel cables.  The upper part, formerly a pilot house and living quarters, was empty.

Joe Tate had lived on the dredge for a short period, and so had Greg Myers, who came away with the nickname “Dredge,” which stuck.  Captain Dredge became a notorious waterfront character.

After the first houseboat war, it became clear that our free ride at the Gate 5 & 6 waterfront  - thanks to the magnanimity of Don Arques, the freethinking owner of the Marinship property - was ending.  Our little utopian anarchy, besides being a thorn in the side of established law and order, was situated on prime Marin County waterfront.  A lot of perfectly good and very expensive real estate was going to waste.

When Joe acquired the Richmond, a 65-ft. tugboat and began converting it to sail, he needed a place to tie it up in deeper water than at Gate 6, where the ebbing tides left everything sitting on the mud at least once a day.  He moved it to the Dredge.  Thus began a mini-exodus from Gate 6.  Some of the crew of the intended future voyage of the Richmond were the first to relocate.  I acquired a vintage wood cabin cruiser, more appropriate for the less-sheltered open water at the dredge than the little plywood houseboat I had been living in, and named the boat Turkey of the Sea.  Jeremy and Marcia brought the H&R Block, a reasonably seaworthy craft, the origin of whose name I can't quite recall.

Not long after came Dean Puchalski and his family, and Salty and Marla, each bringing in big barges.   We were beginning to take up space on the bay, which did not go unnoticed by the powers-that-were in Sausalito. Joe rigged an underwater power cord, connected it somewhere on shore and the Dredge had pirated electricity.  We were now living “for free” and creating an “eyesore” not under the protection of a beneficent shipbuilder and cattle rancher, but in open water close to downtown.  As if that weren't enough, Salty brought in a crane barge and began lifting boats out of the water to do bottom and structural repairs.

Meanwhile life went on at the Dredge.  The population increased.  At least two babies were home-delivered there, and we had big communal dinners in the upstairs space on the main structure.  That is, until Michael Woodstock moved his family into it.

At some point, the City of Sausalito took action, making it illegal to “moor a vessel in the waters of Dunphy Park” (newly created behind the Cruising Club on property that had been a vacant lot).  It was a vague designation that although aimed at us, by necessity included any vessel at all, even visiting yachts.  The new ordinance required a permit.

So Dean went to City Hall looking to get himself a permit.  Right around then we received a summons, en masse, to appear in court and face charges of violating the new law.  Joe Tate engaged Carl Shapiro, the brilliant lawyer from San Anselmo to represent us.  Shapiro was known as a “public interest” attorney, experienced in battling corporate and bureaucratic powers.

When our day in court arrived, a rare storm was blowing from the south, and large swells building up from Oakland and beyond were playing havoc with some of our boats.  We had to scramble to secure several of them exposed to this weather, and we arrived at the Marin County Civic Center late for our inquisition.

Our explanation of being delayed by the storm conditions was met with denials from the Sausalito city attorney, who reported “mild” rain and wind ashore, where no one had to deal with four and five-ft. swells coming up the bay. On land it just seemed like a windy, rainy day.  This general ignorance of life on the water was common but was now working directly against us. With the judge already suspecting us of being liars, the city attorney began his questioning.

Sausalito's attorney was a weasel-like little fellow, ill-suited to his job.  He used an intimidation technique that was likely taught at  second- and third-rate law schools and almost embarrassingly transparent.  The idea was to knock the defendant off balance with an attempt to make him doubt his own identity.

“Mr., uh, Costello, is it?”

The hoped-for reaction was something like, Hmm, let me think about that for a minute, maybe I'm really someone else and don't even know it. He did the same with every single one of the Dredge people.

When Dean Puchalski took the stand and the city attorney opened his questioning with, “Mr. umm, Puchalski, is it?”  He badly mispronounced  “Puchalski” and Dean interrupted to correct him (“Poo-hall-ski”).  At this point the judge interrupted to say,

“Well now, I grew up in a Polish neighborhood and never heard such a pronunciation,” suggesting that Dean didn't know how to say his own name.  Things were not looking so good. But it was Dean's testimony, led by Carl Shapiro, that turned the tide in our favor.

Carl Shapiro: ”Did you apply for a permit to moor a vessel in the waters of Dunphy Park, Mr. Puchalski?”

Dean Puchalski: “I went to city hall and asked for an application.”

Shapiro: “And did you get one?”

Puchalski:  “No, they didn't have any.”

Shapiro: “Had they run out of copies?”

Puchalski: “I don't know.  The clerk didn't seem to know what I was talking about.”

Shapiro called one or another bureaucrat from city hall and asked to see a copy of the permit to moor a vessel in the waters of Dunphy Park.  Nobody could produce one, and it quickly came to light that such a permit did not actually exist.  Under oath, the flustered, red-faced city attorney was forced to admit this.

Given no other choice, the judge dismissed the case.   The war was far from over, but we had won this battle and bought some time.

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Retired Superior Court Judge Timothy W. O'Brien passed away on January 22, 2017 at the age of 95. He was born in San Francisco, California, in August of 1921, to Timothy Vincent O'Brien and Clara Walsh O'Brien.

He worked for the US Army Air Corp. Port Air Office (Stockton, San Francisco and Oakland), January 1942 to February 1945. He entered the Army Air Corp on September 11, 1943. He was honorably discharged March of 1946. He married Frances Bentzinger, January 1, 1945 at the San Francisco Presidio Chapel. They were together until her death in 2003.

He entered the School of Law at University of San Francisco, in 1946. After he graduated and passed the bar, he was hired by the Attorney General and moved to Sacramento. He worked for the AG's Office until 1951. He worked for California State Employees Association until 1956. He moved to Ukiah, California in 1956. He was in private practice until 1971, when then Governor Regan appointed him to the Superior Court Dept. 2 of Mendocino County. He retired in 1986.

He was a historian. His family dates back to the 1860's, when Thomas Walsh settled on the coast near Elk, in Mendocino County. He endowed his love of history to his daughters.

He enjoyed riding horseback, hunting and fishing throughout the county.

He is survived by his daughters Louise O'Brien-Gannon (Steven Gannon) and Annette O'Brien-Fashauer, his grand-daughters Jeanne Fashauer and Kathryn Gannon, his long-time friend Laura Cook.

Predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Frances B. O'Brien and infant son Timothy William O'Brien, Jr.

Friends and family are invited to a Memorial Mass at 11 AM, Friday, February 3, 2017 at St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church, 900 S. Oak St., Ukiah, California. A private internment service will be held in spring at Cuffy's Cove near Elk, California. He was a member of the Mendocino County Historical Society, The Loyal Order of Elk, Mendocino County Farm Bureau and many other organizations.

Donation to hospices or a charity of your choice are preferred. Arrangements under the direction of the Eversole Mortuary. 707-462-2206

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On January 30, 2017 at approximately 10:15am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to investigate an incident of domestic violence that occurred in the 45000 block of Pacific Woods Road in Gualala. Deputies contacted an adult male and Monica Cabral, 30 of Gualala.  Deputies determined the couple were married and were involved in a verbal dispute that escalated when Cabral struck the adult male with a cooking utensil. Cabral then proceeded to damage the adult male's vehicle causing damage amounting to felony vandalism (amount of damage was $400 or more). The adult male sustained minor visible injury as a result of the assault and Cabral was arrested for the listed charges. Cabral was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail. (Ed note: No information provided on what set Ms. Cabral off in the first place.)

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On January 30, 2017 at about 2:14pm a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was patrolling the area of Della Avenue and Viola Street in Willits. The Deputy saw Jason Bartolomei, 44, of Willits, who was known from prior contacts. The Deputy conducted a records check on Bartolomei for probation/warrants and was advised by Sheriff's Office dispatch that he had a felony arrest warrant out of Mendocino County for vandalism. Bartolomei was contacted and placed under arrest without incident. Bartolomei was booked to the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $165,000 bail.

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by Andrew Scully, AVA Special Correspondent

High School Hoops
Calistoga, January 27
Mendocino Cardinals vs. Calistoga Wildcats

Boys Mendo 58, Calistoga 20
Girls Mendo 39, Calistoga 31

The Mendocino Cardinals basketball teams rolled into Calistoga on Friday evening, and the Cardinal boys proceeded to roll over the Wildcats 58-20, while the girls team had a tougher time with their game, in what may have been their closet match of the year, before winning 39-31


The opening boys game was close through the fist quarter, which ended with the Cards up 13-10. But each of the other periods were lopsided affairs which Mendo won on the way to the crushing final score.

Mendocino was led once again by their dynamic duo of junior guards Nakai Baker and Evan Cole, Baker with 18 points and 6 rebounds, and Cole with 16 points

Cody Call was a dominant force at center for the Cardinals with 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven rejected Wildcat shots. Sean Symonds continued his steady progression back from an ankle injury at forward, clocking in with 8 points, 11 rebounds and a team-leading 6 assists.

The Wildcats were led by Alexis Cortez, Daniel Montenez, and Ivan Sanchez, each with 4 points. Calistoga coach Cesar Cruz said afterwards that his team “did not play our game” and that Mendocino had played well. That would seem a fair summary.


The Girls game proved to be the main event on this night, which Mendocino won 39-31. These girls burned a lot of rubber back and forth in fast-breaking transitional game that was very physical inside as well.

Calistoga led at the end of the first quarter 14-10, and going int halftime 20-14. The Wildcats are a physically much shorter team, but made up for this deficit with high-energy, grit and hustle. Wildcat junior guard Gilda Rojas played like greased lightning, streaking up and down the court while generally making life miserable for the Cardinals.

Mendocino coach Vincent Lee may have had a persuasive halftime chat with his team, because a very different crew came out and played the second half. The Cardinals dominated, scoring 24 while holding the Wildcats to just 11 second-half points.

Calistoga was able to close the gap to 24-26 with 30 seconds to go in the third as Mendocino missed a couple of key shots.

But the Cardinals pulled away on the strength a dominant performance by Taylor Kolby-Kishbaugh, Mendocino's impressive sophomore center. She led her team and overpowered her Wildcat opponents with 14 points, 22 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Kolby-Kishbaugh stood at least a head taller than each of the several Wildcats that were assigned to guard her at various points in the evening.

Emily Miller had a strong game for the Cardinals with 8 points and 7 rebounds. Jaycee Hendricks was perfect on three-pointers, hitting both of her attempts and clocking in with 6 points.

Although Mendocino pulled away to a strong point advantage as the fourth quarter began, the Wildcats stayed true to their namesake and never gave up. Calistoga's Rojas in particular was a force to be reckoned with – all 5'2” of her – as she battled hammer and tong with Mendo's Emily Symonds. Vanessa Queipo also played well for the Wildcats, making life difficult all night for Aimee Gordon, typically one of the Cardinal's top guns.

At the end of the game, as if to underscore the dominance of the larger girls, it was Kolby-Kishbaugh who followed a teammates missed free throw with an offensive board, and a strong move to the hoop, which she cashed in by hitting the inside shot, getting fouled in the process and then converting the free-throw to boot. But true to form, the Wildcat girls fought down to the wire, with Gilda Rojas hustling down ahead of pursuing Cardinals, and launching a trey at the closing buzzer that missed the mark.

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by Pebbles Trippett

Something strange in Mendocino pot annals occurred at the 2016 County ballot. Neither of the two competing cannabis initiatives -- Mendocino Heritage Act (AF) and Cannabis Tax Act (AI) -- won 2/3 of the vote required for approval of new taxes. Despite the wide disparity in the % of votes for and against AI - 7038 to 4024 -- the only thing that matters is achieving 66 2/3% of the total number of votes cast to pass a new tax law. 7038 Yes votes for AI only reached 63.62% and thus failed.

The identical thing happened with the other closely watched ballot measure AG/AH for Mental Health taxes, which also failed with 65.19% and 62.68% (just short of the required 66 2/3%). It was heavily promoted by Sheriff Tom Allman for a compelling law enforcement reason -- to relieve his office of the burden of handling non-criminal mental health cases. It appeared to be a shoe-in with little opposition. But AG lacked 2/3 of the vote to trigger AH, the funding mechanism. Sheriff Allman has been quoted as being discouraged by the public's lack of understanding of the wrong-headedness of sheriff's deputies dealing with the mentally ill. No one is disputing Measure AG's defeat.

Measures AI and AG met the same fate. Both cannabis taxes and mental health taxes were rejected by the voters.

So why are the Supervisors, Treasurer, Voter Registrar and County Counsel acting as though the Cannabis Tax Act passed? Are they hoping no one will notice? Will there be a penalty for businesses that mistakenly pay the cannabis tax that never passed?

Last month, the Treasurer contacted impacted businesses, such as dispensaries, to inform them of the new cannabis tax they are now expected to pay quarterly -- 5% tax on total sales in addition to the existing 7.5% sales tax -- 12.5% total.

Paula Deeter, proprietor of Herban Legend, Ft Bragg, commented. "I got a call from Treasurer Shari Shrapmire. She said they'd forgotten about me but that I am now responsible for compliance with the new cannabis tax law -- 5% of total sales on top of 7.5% we already pay, due quarterly. My practice all along has been to help out the patients, who are already struggling, by paying the 7.5% sales tax myself. But 12.5% would be so onerous I could no longer afford to absorb the cost of both taxes. I'd have to begin to charge the patients."

After 10 years in business, Herban Legend remains small and close to the patient community. Taxes should not be so burdensome that many small businesses find they cannot afford to pay them and all the subsequent taxes and fees and survive.

Paula also asked the Treasurer for clarification on the 2/3 voter requirement to pass a special tax and what was the difference between AG and AI, since both were rejected by the voters due to failing to win 2/3 of the total vote?

Shari said, "AG and AI are not the same. The cannabis tax is not for a specific purpose but goes into the General Fund which only requires a simple majority, not 2/3. With AG, there was some direction where the funds were supposed to go."

Why then did administrators ask the public - If it does pass, do you want funds to go to roads, schools, etc? Some of the cannabis funds would specifically have gone to mental health services if passed. Isn't that specific enough?

Lawrence Rosen was helpful in creating a flow chart entitled: How to Determine the Voter-Approval Threshold for a Proposed Local Government Charge. He outlined the questions he asked to determine the cannabis tax is a special tax and requires approval from 2/3 of voters. 1) Will the tax be dedicated to a specific purpose? 2) Will the tax be levied on parcels of property? 3) Will a special district, school district, or community college district levy the tax?

The voter handbook may provide a clue. Supervisors Gjerde and McCowen wrote and signed the ballot argument statement for AI: "Measure AI relieves the strain on the County budget and requires marijuana businesses to pay for the costs created by their industry."

Rosen asks, "Which costs?"

Gjerde and McCowen describe costs in the official AI ballot argument as "community and environmental impacts, criminal backgrounds of operators, security plans, comprehensive operational plans...regular inspections". The special tax "require(s) marijuana businesses to pay long overdue funding to support general County services.'"

Compare Mendocino and Monterey Counties which fielded comparable tax measures. Monterey's Commercial Cannabis Tax passed by 74.36%; the town of Del Rey Oaks in Monterey County got 79.93%, both well above the 2/3 tax threshold. But Mendo County's Cannabis Tax Act only got 63.62%, falling short.

Perhaps grassroots opposition to the "deemed Misdemeanor" buried in the text of the tax code made a difference. This new cannabis crime for 'any' violation is far more egregious than overtaxation.

Violation Deemed Misdemeanor.

Cannabis Tax Act. Chapter 6.32.270 Any person violating any of the provisions of this Chapter shall be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanor and shall be punishable therefore.

The Misdemeanor clause is what Supervisor/author John McCowen called the "teeth" of enforcement, which he criticized the Heritage Initiative for lacking.

Mendocino's Board of Supervisors created the Tax Act with a new cannabis crime to keep the cannabis community stuck in criminality, even as we emerge from it. To 'deem' a new misdemeanor for 'any' violation with punishment up to 6 months jail or fine or both is to take a step backward into an obscure toxic regulatory stew with many growers not grasping the financial/criminal quagmire they are entering. Lateness or other minor violations trigger punishment for criminal misdemeanors instead of civil infractions for minor tax mistakes. It's not like being late for choir practice.

Atty Richard Rosen (unrelated) states, "This recriminalizes what the state has decriminalized. It's bad public policy and I hope we can find it unconstitutional."

The misdemeanor prong was a surprise to the Heritage Campaign which was naively working toward a compromise agreement on a single regulatory measure, putting differences aside, finding points of agreement. But BOS had no intention of joining forces and proved it by fielding a measure written by status quo prohibitionists embedding criminal misdemeanors in tax law for the forseeable future.

So growers and supervisors went their separate ways with rival initiatives and opposite purposes. The cannabis community wanted a multi-faceted regulatory model -- that's why it ran 60+pages --  to apply to all aspects of the commercial cannabis industry: cultivation, distribution, transportation, manufacturing, testing, labeling, dispensaries, nurseries, etc.

This approach was widely criticized as "the cannabis industry's bid to write its own rules". Those who prefer the status quo resist acknowledging thousands of growers over 40 years cultivating, breeding, perfecting their craft in the shadows, in nooks and crannies across the county and throughout the Emerald Triangle under conditions of prohibition, creating a multi-million dollar industry the county relies on economically. Growers who will be the most impacted by new rules of farming should be welcomed into the fold, not shunned, marginalized, criminalized and separated off from the rest. We are needed to help write the rules.

The BOS on the other hand wants a spigot of tax revenue and a legally crippled cannabis community, burdened with criminal misdemeanors for 'any' violation of the tax code. Law enforcement has been in charge of medical cannabis regulation under nuisance ordinance 9.31 since 2010. The Sheriff's Office oversees inspections of medicine, determines compliance, dispenses punishments for violations. Why is the Sheriff in charge of medicine?

The County's aim is to decapitate growers' economic base by raking in cannabis revenue, applying criminal misdemeanors and over-taxation as punitive weapons.

The cannabis community has become an industry in the shadows of prohibition and is ready to come out into the light, guided by reasonable regulations approved by the voters. We anticipate a regulatory structure that allows space for small and medium sized commercial farms with affordable fees and tiers of taxation, starting with micro farms of 2000 sq ft under the local authority of Dept of Agriculture instead of law enforcement.

We reject the county's adversarial attitude; it is time to collaborate and cooperate. We reject any new misdemeanor crimes rather than civil fines for petty tax errors. We reject the insinuation that we defiantly don't contribute to the tax base and are only in it for ourselves.

The cannabis community didn't prohibit or criminalize ourselves; that was done to us, based on our association with a plant the world increasingly needs for health and wealth.

Cannabis farmers have made a large contribution to society while being outlawed by cultivating and breeding a beneficial plant over decades, conscious of the extended ecosystems we inhabit in the shadows of society where we've been relegated as criminals, for better and for worse. 700,000 marijuana arrests still occur annually, most for simple possession, yet Mendocino County wants to etch cannabis criminality into tax law for the forseeable future. More punishment is the wrong direction, unworkable, unconscionable and probably unconstitutional.

Sup Gjerde was asked during a KZYX debate with Pebbles Trippet about the misdemeanor added to cannabis tax law, Measure AI. His explanation made little sense; they needed an enforcement mechanism the Hotel Bed Tax provided.

He was full of assurances: "But we don't intend to use it." Is there anyone who believes that, even GJerde himself?

We believe it will be used again and again to keep the cannabis community criminalized under tax codes as well as criminal codes, allowing for civil and criminal records side by side. This is progress?

Once society accepts the positive role played by two generations of small mom-&-pop cannabis farmers who've familiarized themselves with cultivation of the illegal plant as a source of good, we can conceivably get beyond the impasse we experienced at the 2016 ballot where both sides couldn't agree, appeared to cancel each other out in the end and nothing whatsoever was gained or learned.

If the Cannabis Tax Act didn't pass, this throws a monkey wrench in the BOS plan to pass their own multi-purpose regulatory ordinance, perhaps as early as Feb 7. It would be incomplete without a tax section for revenue purposes. But if the Initiative failed, taxes cannot be applied.

The options are to wait for 2018, the next general election, or schedule a special election. It is important that Mendo voters slapped the County for over-reaching with criminal misdemeanors for tax trifles. This is not just happening in Mendocino County. Adding misdemeanors to tax measures seeking voter approval is an emerging statewide strategy in other locales. It easily passed in Monterey County (74.36%) as well as several cities like Del Rey Oaks (79.93%). All the texts have the identical "Violation Deemed Misdemeanor" section, word for word, which suggests it is being orchestrated. Potentially this is the plum politicians are looking for: something popular with voters and strict with growers.

Is this a challenge for the courts? Is deeming a criminal misdemeanor with punishment in tax law an illegal end run around criminal courts where you can't just deem it -- you have to prove it!

Voters passed Prop 64 at the state ballot, following on the heels of the CA Legislature's MCRSA (2015) re: medical cannabis. Regulations at the state level are shifting from criminality to equality -- equal access/equal rights -- and from law enforcement to agriculture, while leaving cities and counties to decide their own laws, including total outdoor bans. Does this also include 'deemed' misdemeanors without probable cause?

Pebbles Trippet

MMMAB/Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

Skunk Magazine contributing editor

* * *


To call what you people do an “industry” is absurd. Here is a picture of what a commercial pot growing operation will soon be:

In the first place, there will be laborers. These folks will probably not be white. Although many backwoods, illiterate and uneducated speed-balling weed farmers can expound on the minutiae of genetic drift in cannabis, this type of stoned employee will not be used in commercial cannabis. These new farm workers will likely manufacture clean, organic grow-soils on-site, which will end the trucking of mass quantity amounts of bagged grow-soil all over Northern CA. The disgusting process of using millions of gallons of diesel and gasoline to transport potting soil for the purposes of growing pot, will come to it’s natural end. We hope that the strains of weed that the new grows will produce, will grow well on valley farmland, and not require the augmentation present in potting soils. Plant scientists are implementing this plan now. Since the growing cycle will be less rushed, like in a biker grow, we hope it will take less water, fertilizer, rodent poison. More specialized strains will most likely be grown in huge greenhouses, but pedestrian strains for mass consumption will be grown like row crops, tended to by regular farm labor, and sold cheaply, like tobacco.

For you folks currently insisting on destroying the forests, degrading the environment, and growing stupidity weed far from your market, there is little hope. Since you are all too stoned to organize, centralize processing and supply, and assemble distribution and advertising and branding, and in fact, too fucked up to do anything at all except take drugs and roar around in giant pickups, while attracting crowds of ridiculous neo-hippie trimmers every summer, and zombie train wreck druggie homeless in the forests the rest of the time, you will all hopefully find out that your time is up.

As for the women in weed: I know you just want sustenance and a way to make a living in place. I know that women have great strength and abilities. It is possible that women will build something that will last, but I hope you see that you can achieve something beyond
 subsistence farming as a way to pay for the costs of raising your family, and that you could aspire to a regular sort of living in some other industry. Women, grow and evolve beyond the drug culture, start a real business, get an education, be someone. You are a good person, and you deserve to be happy.

* * *

I’ve been in the industry for a decade and in my experience about 5% of grows are owned and operated by a single woman. More are owned by a married couple who split the work. But primarily the properties are owned by men with a man hired to manage the grow and woman are hired for trimming or hourly jobs like leafing. I’d love to stop seeing lazy, alcoholic men hired to manage grows over hard working woman based on ill conceived notions that all men are stronger than woman. Women can’t afford property here (these days) without getting married or managing a grow so for independent women who get passed up for well deserved promotions on farms, there is little hope of buying property.

* * *

For every reply like yours, “J”, I wish I could refer you to a lot of my own experiences with women (i’d call many of them girls) basically slutting themselves around grow scenes to get off easy. Yes, lots of hard workers all around. Yes, lots of alcoholics (more now than ever). But both genders are proving themselves equally fallible in “the industry”. It’s just not true to say women this, men that about the scene. Everybody’s playing.

* * *

I agree. I wish both genders treated this industry with more professionalism. I’m also aware of how much grow hoes give women workers a bad name, they are looking for a come up by snagging a grower while I’m just trying to come up by working 7 days a week, year round. But overall when a property owner has a choice between two equally qualified candidates he will choose the male over the female. I guarantee and I’d love for there to be data on this topic for our counties.

* * *


A group discussion of life and end-of-life

Please join us on Sunday, February 12th at 4:00 p.m. at Lauren’s Restaurant, 14211 Highway 128, Boonville

Group discussion of “The Village Movement” whose principles are simple: instead of leaving their homes for senior housing or assisted living, a group of senior residents in a community form a non-profit membership organization to provide access to services which allow seniors to age in place in their own homes. Can we bring this to Anderson Valley? Please join other members of our community to talk about it. This is our first meeting of the New Year and your input is welcomed.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, January 31, 2017

Bartolomei, Cimonetti, Dunluck

JASON BARTOLOMEI, Ukiah. Vandalism, outstanding warrants.


CASEY DUNLUCK, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

Emery, Fischer, Hedman

BRAD EMERY, Ukiah. Parole violation, prior strike conviction.

TIMOTHY FISCHER, Roseville/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ROBERT HEDMAN, Albion. DUI, probation revocation.

Hluchy, Honer, Keys

DENISE HLUCHY, Laytonville. Failure to appear.

RICHARD HONER, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

RONALD KEYS, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Kistler, Lincoln, Neeley

ANGELA KISTLER, Ukiah. Child endangerment.

LOREN LINCOLN, Covelo. Failure to appear.

SHERRI NEELEY, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

Ochoa, Richardson, Shealor

JOSE OCHOA, Willits. Domestic battery.

BRISA RICHARDSON, Eureka/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

AUSTIN SHEALOR, Ukiah. Domestic battery, court order violation.

Spencer, Tupper, Viscencio


KRISTINE TUPPER, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

VICTOR VISCENCIO, Fort Bragg. DUI causing injury.

* * *


by Lee Ballinger

On January 31, longtime sports broadcaster Brent Musburger will call his last game, an SEC basketball tilt between Kentucky and Georgia. On January 25, on the ESPN show Pardon The Interruption, co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon took turns praising Brent Musburger, with Wilbon saying that the man was “his idol,” fondly recalling reading him when Musberger was a newspaper columnist in Wilbon’s native Chicago.

Would this include the infamous column Musburger wrote for the Chicago American during the 1968 Olympics in which he described American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who has raised black-gloved fists on the medal stand in protest of the denial of human rights, as “a pair of black-gloved stormtroopers”? Musburger was part of a chorus of outrage which saw Smith and Carlos suspended from the Olympic team and banished from the Olympic Village.

Musburger’s column’s worth of vile commentary wasn’t just racist, it reflected the divisive idea that the interests of blacks are separate from those of everyone else.

At the 1968 medal ceremony, second-place finisher Peter Norman, a white Australian, wore a solidarity badge. As a result, he was expelled from the Australian Olympic team and not allowed to compete in the 1972 Games. When Norman died in 2006, Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral.

Tommie Smith once wrote that while their gesture was always described as a “black power salute,” their focus was “human rights, not civil rights, nothing to do with the Panthers or Black Power – all humanity, even those who denied us ours.”

Brent Musburger, who has never apologized for what he wrote, not even after ESPN honored Smith and Carlos in 2008, will now finally fade into the sunset. The vision of universal human rights will not leave with him.


* * *


Witches & wizards of all ages are invited to attend Harry Potter Book Night! Step onto Platform 9¾ , just through the brick wall, & enter A Night of Spells. Cosplay is encouraged!  Please reply by owl or call us at 463-4490 to sign up. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

This month we will collaborate to make a heartfelt community mural. Participants will be able to make small works of art that, when joined together, will create a mural that will stay on display at the library for the entire month. Also enjoy our monthly Book Sale, which continues on Saturday Feb. 4th from 10am-3:30pm. This event is family friendly, free to the public and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

Hear ye, hear ye! The magnanimous teachers from River Oak Charter School are making a royal return, and you're invited! This family-friendly event is free and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library and River Oak Charter School.

PoetryMusic is a world-class chamber jazz duo dedicated to performing poetry that has been set to music and the poetry is sung. This multi-media performance includes an accompanying slide presentation with each poem projected on the screen along with photographic images so that the audience can follow the written word with the poem being sung. Following the program, we open the floor up to questions, comments and discussion.

The Sweet Life: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch — Book Reading & Signing with Local Authors: Dot Brovarney, Mary Buckley, Yvonne Kramer, Phyllis Mervine, Yoli Rose, Jill Scott, & Amy Wachspress

The Sweet Life (edited, with additions, by Dot Brovarney) offers a rich bounty of tales with a common thread: our community's deep respect, gratitude, and love for a pair of Ukiah ranchers and their cherry orchard. Storytellers recount the joys of picking cherries at Butler Ranch and remember the warmth and openheartedness that characterized George and Ella Butler. The legacy of the Butlers' commitment to land and community continues, holding a place at the Butler Community Orchard and in our hearts always. The book, including seventy-five photographs, also features ranch history, family biographies, and poetry. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

* * *


* * *



I went to the Hospitality House Sept. 2 2013 and received a bed and was told to check in at the Hospitality Center on Franklin St. in the alley to sign up for “services” with in 5 days and to go to the clinic for a TB test (did). I went to the Hospitality Center to sign up for “services”. As they were just opening and I believe people need assistance sometimes (you too are eligible).

I started 'being of assistance” as in supporting their programs, sharing Green and Sober Inc. morning check in, I ran the emergency winter shelter December 2013 to April 2014, volunteered for various “public service” activities. I moved out of the house February 2014 to re-start Green and Sober Inc.

Having a lot of troubles, I still needed services and have been denied housing because I will not lie about Cannabis use as my only medication, I still tried to turn to the Hospitality Center for assistance and to complain about the fact they where allowing other people to lie and cheat making what I am doing look wrong when in fact they are the ones who are wrong. A few of us that openly use Cannabis as a medication started having Green and Sober meetings (peer to peer support) at Dragonfly wellness center. At our first meeting a client of the Hospitality Center thought it would be funny to go to Dragonfly Wellness Center to get his Cannabis and wait for the meeting to end to rub my nose in the fact that he is allowed to use Cannabis and he is housed, “how's that honesty working for you?” As this became an on going pattern, I reported this behavior to the Hospitality Center staff including Anna Shaw and asked them to tell their client not to stalk and harass me at the Cannabis club. They told me they can't tell their clients what to do, as a matter of fact they leave what they believe clients can do up to the clients. As what I see as a slap in the face, this client that I have been making formal complaints about was used as a hospitality center success story on the front page of the Advocate News, (July 24 2014). Finally after talking with a local police officer about what was going on, the harassment stopped. I started re-filing formal complaints with patient’s rights which at first seemed to be disregarded.

When my formal complaints where finally responded to I was blown away at their response which stated: “Dear Mr. Mack, “This letter is to follow-up on the grievance you submitted on June 15, and 17, 2015,regarding your report that you were denied services and you concerns about your medication. Mendocino County Mental Health Improvement did investigate your grievance.

“Per conversations with the Patients Rights Advocate and Connie Drago, compliance manager from Ortner Management Group (OMG), who spoke with your case manager at MCHC as well as yourself, we learned more about your concerns. Your case manager corroborated your statements, and you won’t compromise your ethics. You are not being denied services. Your case manager, ***** ******, will continue to work with you on overcoming your housing barriers. OMG and Mendocino County will also continue to support you in your efforts”.

This letter was dated June 25th 2015 and I still have the things to deal with that I have been asking for help on for over 2 years. I even put in an application for employment on 2 occasions which must get buried also.

So I just want to let the people and agencies that refuse to help me know that since I can not get help to get housing from Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, Patients Rights, Disability Rights, ACLU, local Board of Supervisor, Fort Bragg, Ca. City council, various attorneys and the ones I do not want to mention due to fear of retaliation.

I am being forced lie & cheat (as many do), quit Cannabis (risk seizures) or get back on prescription medication to get housing. All of this is completely wrong!, Cannabis is my ONLY medication.

This is what I have been sending and saying to the various agencies. I am missing part of my frontal lobe and was on many prescription drugs (2 being anti-seizure).

I have been able to successfully replace ALL of the prescription drugs with Cannabis (no seizures). Using Cannabis and not prescription medication has kept me locked out of many mental health services such as housing (Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center). In order to receive the most important component of homeless services, housing, I have to lie & cheat, quit Cannabis (risk seizures) or get back on prescription medications, (seems wrong to me).

This is a blatant violation of my civil rights! All of this is completely hypocritical considering the Department of Health and Human Services holds the patent on Cannabinoids (6630507). I am really disturbed by all of this.

The mental health system on the coast has given me more mental health issues then I have ever had.

The saga continues it has taken over six months to get me my progress notes from MCHC (in writing- requested Jan 2016 received July 2016).

In the notes they have me saying things I did not say, sitting down with people I did not sit down with, not putting down what I did say or the person I really sat down with. Keep trying to get me to “find the grey area”, which means lie and cheat.

I will not sign up for “services” for a third time.

I have exhausted every formal local means, as in I have filed many, many formal grievances; have been through several patients rights “advocates” to no avail. On Oct. 31 2016 I met with******** (my so called pathways worker) to talk about getting the emergency weather shelter job back if I signed back up for “services” and how badly I would like to get back on my feet. I received the job doing the emergency weather shelter on November 14th 2017 under the impression I would be running it with a second person for if I got sick, burned out, etc. I was given an appointment to meet with ********, Went through the assessment and on December14th I met with ******** again to sign the “client plan”. I did not agree with the “client plan”, medication management and questioning “groups”(as I have jumped through every hoop they have x2), I did not sign it, asked ******** if I don’t sign it will I still be working that night?, would I still have a job?, I did not work that night even though they let me believe I was.

I went to the MCHC board meeting the next day December 15th and stated my case, was working that night. On December 29thI spoke with ****** about being told by a house resident I could not make coffee before a 16hr shift and how the kitchen crew has taken over the house and how completely disrespectful he was. I was told that administration would now back staff, too late, damage done. Through the course of the job I have had more problems with administration than I have had with EWS clients, no requirement to be sober and some not +, I was left without any support through the holiday season, not treated like staff and have had to remain homeless. On January 3rd2017 I met with ****** to go over the “client plan” as medication management was still in it and the hours for “groups” that I have already completed are not acceptable to me, did not sign, needless to say, I have not been working. On January 10th2017 I almost had a complete melt down over the lack of support for clients or staff, was asked to leave. On January 11th2017 I met with Jessica and informed her how very unhappy and unstable I am and have been in for 3+ years. On January 12thand January 13thI 2017spoke with *** ******** with redwood community services and also patients rights and told them of the things I am having problems with.

I find it extremely frustrating to have to go through all of the things I have had to go through just to try to get some assistance getting back on my feet.


To whom it may concern. I started as emergency winter shelter supervisor on November 14th 2016 under the impression I would be running it with a second in case I got sick, overwhelmed or whatever. After I ran it for a few days I was informed one of the house managers was going to be given Thursday, Friday and Sunday I would work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, if open. I would like to let concerned parties know that the actions that administration keeps taking concerning the emergency winter shelter undermines the functionality of the program. Getting things back under control after clients, residents and staff have seen administration does nonsupport the emergency winter shelter supervisor has been quite the task. So, in turn, some clients and some HH residents have demonstrated they have very little regard for staff directions. On 12/14/2016 @ 10:00am I had a meeting with ******* to discuss my assessment and to go over my client plan. I did not like the limited time or the medication management in the “plan”. I asked if I don't sign it will I still be working tonight?, will I still have a job? No work that night after walking around with my stuff thinking I was working just to find out They were hiring another person, the on again off again cook for HH. When I went to the MCHC board meeting to let them know what was happening they thanked me, I left and I worked that night (12/15/2016). After having a client be able to get me suspended for sticking up for myself has made it even more difficult/ dangerous then it already is. Please be advised that I am still homeless on the streets with and am one of those people, When administration does not support me in EWS it puts me in danger both in EWS and on the streets.

Not treated like staff

To date, I have been notified if I was working a total of 4 times if I was working or not.

Administration does not support EWS staff, has allowed Some clients and some residents to do what they want including getting me suspended for saying we can deal with it back at the house

Meal serving time change keeps causing major disruptions

Giving a house manager part of the hours even though he already has a job there and a place to live.

Giving the house cook part of the hours the day after he stayed in EWS on his way back into house.

Making my job and life on the streets dangerous

Making my whole life revolve around EWS, HH & MCHC

The most adversarial relationship I have ever had with an employer and I have been self employed x2.

I was fired as the emergency weather shelter supervisor 1/13/17 for having a mental break down at the Mendocino coast hospitality center after calling the crisis line over them making my life on the streets and in my job dangerous, not backing me, incubating lies, trying to get me to sign a plan with medication management on it, still being homeless even though I am on the payroll and for not showing up for work, I called and left a message at the house that I was not going to make it. Thank you for your time and attention.

Richard E. Mack, Fort Bragg

* * *


The only two guys without ties -- among the hundreds of attendees in dark suits, white shirts, with ties -- at last week's Callan Conference

From: "Barbara Gerraty" <>

Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:04:58 PM
Subject: Callan National Conference

Hi John,

It was so nice meeting you the other night at the National MOMA dinner!  It was a pleasure sitting next to you and comparing many stories.

I thought you may enjoy this photo of you with former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President, Larry Summers!

Hope all is well and you enjoyed the rest of our conference.

Kind regards,

Barb Gerraty

* * *


The next meeting will be held on March 2, 2017.



  1. Eric Sunswheat February 1, 2017

    Essentially, the EPA is engaged in fake science to obscure the evidence that glyphosate causes harm to humans and the environment.

    This is largely because former EPA top brass Jess Rowland has been fighting on behalf of Monsanto…

    “The EPA’s stamp of approval for the safety of glyphosate over the last few decades has … been key to the success of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, glyphosate-tolerant crops, which have been popular with farmers,” explains

  2. Lazarus February 1, 2017

    Thanks for the tip on the wifi extender, I’ve been thinking that might be a good idea as of late.
    As always,

  3. George Hollister February 1, 2017

    “Hell, I believe that, but I don’t believe that unregulated capitalism is a rational way to build a society on.”

    Bruce, I have read this line before, and by many. What I am trying to figure out is when or where was there unregulated capitalism? Not in my life time. Not in my parents life time either. Not in California, not in America.

    There are misunderstandings of government regulation. The banking/housing crisis is an excellent example of the unintended consequences of government regulation, not an example of unregulated capitalism. Without government regulation, and a government bank, that crisis would not have happened, and could not have happened.

    The unaddressed problem with large central government regulation, and programs to do good things, is the lack of accountability in large central governments. Our’s, like all others, is a profit driven organization. Our’s is the largest commercial enterprise in the world, and for all time. The result is, government looks out for itself first. I do not believe this is something that can be fixed. In history it never has been.

    So we don’t like large corporations because they are greedy, and we engage the largest for profit organization, that has absolute power, to regulate greedy corporations. It is disheartening when we see the result. It really shouldn’t be. And we should expect the same, the more we keep doing the same.

    • Kathleen Gagnon February 1, 2017

      George is correct in that we have never lived in a fully laissez faire capitalist society, and that regulation is essential to the proper functioning of a capitalist economy. However, the example of the Housing crash as an example of the unintended consequences of government regulation is hideously inappropriate. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 in a bipartisan finding placed significant blame for the crisis on deregulation, reporting: “We conclude widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets. The sentries were not at their posts, in no small part due to the widely accepted faith in the self-correcting nature of the markets and the ability of financial institutions to effectively police themselves. More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions, championed by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, supported by successive administrations and Congresses, and actively pushed by the powerful financial industry at every turn, had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe. This approach had opened up gaps in oversight of critical areas with trillions of dollars at risk, such as the shadow banking system and over-the-counter derivatives markets. In addition, the government permitted financial firms to pick their preferred regulators in what became a race to the weakest supervisor.”

      The Bush II administration was quite fond of defunding and marginalizing the government organs in charge of industry regulation. That, and a series of bipartisan regulatory mistakes dating back to the Reagan administration are the root causes of the housing crisis. To lay the blame of the 00’s housing bubble at the feet of government regulation is a gross mischaracterization of what happened, and if widely believed will cause us to experience more and greater financial crashes in the future.

      Given the greed and fragility present in our current economic system, I must also agree with George’s conclusion that similar crashes are inevitable, though we disagree on our means of reaching that conclusion and I’m sure we disagree on how to solve the problem. It is clear that the kleptocracy currently running the country has neither the skills nor the temperament to do so, so I’m afraid that all of us will be in for another rough ride these next few years.


      PS: An excellent and unbiased autopsy of the housing bubble can be found in Wikipedia at:

      • George Hollister February 1, 2017

        The best book to read on the subject is “Reckless Endangerment” by Gretchen Morgenson. Gretchen is no friend of banks, and has a long history of writing critical columns on the subject of banks and Washington. She was writing for the NY Times during the crisis. She also does not have a partisan axe to grind.

        The key figure in the bank crisis, was James Johnson, president of Fannie Mae, beginning in 1992. He is an ambitious Democratic Party political operative. George Bush 2, was a bystander, who had no understanding of what was going on, but knew something was wrong with Fannie Mae’s books.

        Market forces in the housing market were driven by government policy, regulation, and a government safety net that meant anything goes. The fundamental problem was the mortgage backed security that had the “implied backing of the federal government”. The government called the hogs to the trough to take advantage of it, starting with Fannie Mae. Banks made huge profits selling mortgage backed securities by collecting fees, and not holding these securities on their books. More often than not, these securities were Fannie Mae securities. Fannie Mae introduced the no down payment loan, and the interest only payment. No qualifications were required to buy a home, other than a heart beat.

        Making loans is not my business, but I smelled a rat when a house keeper I was acquainted with, who was a high school dropout, was starting a career as a mortgage broker. That would have been some time in the mid 1990s. I also was wondering, going back into the 1980s, how people made so much money as mortgage brokers, and they were not bankers. Easy, get someone to take out a mortgage, collect the fee, sell the mortgage to Fannie Mae and be done with it. New York banks “underwrote” the securitization of these bundled loans, and sold these securities with the “implied backing of the federal government.” No risk, easy money.

        Remember, all this was done to make housing affordable. Of course exactly the opposite happened, and many got very monied in the process. Robert Reich is a notable one, because he has been so shameless about telling Bernie Sanders supporters they should now support Hillary Clinton. Really? How dumb does he think voters are? I guess pretty dumb. And where is James Johnson these days? He was for a short time on Obama’s transition team and got the boot for another reason, not for his pivotal involvement with the banking/housing crisis. Of course James has no need to work, $100 million in bonuses from Fannie Mae removes the worry.

        The Banks, and mostly Fannie Mae, were the hogs. The government was the farmer calling them to feed at the public trough. Of course the government had rules to encourage banks to feed, too. Do we blame hogs for being hogs, or do we blame the farmer who called them in in the first place? And there were hogs, like Robert Reich, and James Johnson, who paid farmers to keep the trough full.

        Read the book, it is a good read.

        • Kathleen Gagnon February 1, 2017

          Think I’ll pass, George. Forbes has this to say about Reckless Endangerment: “The story they tell is surely revolting, but not very well reasoned. Worst of all, the authors mostly missed the real story behind the most recent rush to housing.

          The book will appeal to extremes. The hard right will love Reckless given their belief – despite basic evidence – that the recessionary rush to housing was caused by Fannie, Freddie, and Democrats in thrall to both. The hard left will be cheered by Reckless owing to their equally dim view that Wall Street, deregulation and greed drove the housing boom. Both sides will finish the book bursting with facts and quotes that will merely confirm views already held deeply. As for those still searching for answers to explain what just happened, they still won’t know.”

          The change in regulations that made the housing bubble (and future bubbles) inevitable was the end of Glass-Steagal. By allowing banks to engage in speculatory investment activity we removed the last firewall between homes and the sharks. That, combined with the world’s reckless derivatives markets and the Bush administration’s lax enforcement is what caused the bubble to pop when it did.

          We’ll see more bubbles, as the world’s investment class understands it’s the only high growth path left for big money. My money is on Trump engineering an oil bubble of some kind; that’s why he’s assembling the cabinet his is and why he’s buddy-buddy with Putin (that and the 19% of Rosneft that Putin slipped him).

          • George Hollister February 1, 2017

            I have heard the Glass-Steagal argument, and don’t argue against it’s need. But what did that have to do with the bank/housing crisis? Glass-Steagal or no Glass-Steagal, the system was set up to fail because of the mortgage backed security with the “implied backing of the federal government.” The housing market was headed off the cliff, as was the securities market. James Johnson actively involved himself, using Fannie Mae money to campaign against anyone who was questioning what was going on.

            As far as I know, what Gretchen Morganson stated are facts. I have not heard anyone say, hey wait Gretchen, you were wrong here. Robert Reich became president of Citi Bank for one reason, his connections to Washington. On paper Reich was unqualified to head a bank, even Savings Bank of Mendocino County. He did not have the knowledge beyond that of an academic and bureaucrat. Reich did well, though.

    • Bruce Anderson February 1, 2017

      INVESTMENT CAPITAL. cf the stock market, hedge funding etc. unregulated. And Mendocino County’s wine industry, to take a local example, is also unregulated. Try suing a rich person or entity to prevent them from doing bad things, and watch the courts either roll over for them or allow them to keep YOU, private citizen, in court until you can no longer afford to be there. If you have money you are de facto unregulated. PS. Who regulates water use in Mendocino County? PPS. Big government programs like Social Security and MediCare are models of efficiency, George, as I can attest from my personal experience as about 75% dependent on themk.

      • George Hollister February 1, 2017

        Ask anyone in the wine/grape industry about not being regulated.

        “Big government programs like Social Security and MediCare are models of efficiency, George, as I can attest from my personal experience as about 75% dependent on them”.

        Generally people who get check are happy. Keep in mind, the system is on the way to more broke than broke. Other interfaces with our “federal” government generally are poor. It is why there is so much unhappiness. The Post Office is relatively good. Don’t you think? Though not as good as it used to be.

        Extension Service is good. They are there to help you.

        • Mark Scaramella February 1, 2017

          “Extension Service is good”?
          Giusti: Yes. Harper: Doubt it. McGourty: May as well be on Roederer’s payroll, but they’d pay him a lot less.

          • George Hollister February 2, 2017

            They are not perfect, but they are there to help, not hinder. John Harper is the go to guy, if you need help with range and range animals.

            Also, remember the county 4-H program.

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