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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Feb. 10, 2017

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The big event that everyone waited for was the DTSC (department of toxic substances control) meeting on toxicity at the old Fort Bragg lumber mill.

The almost four hundred acre mill site which is smack on spectacular ocean front could with imagination transform our city and bring us prosperity. Instead it has lain dormant for 15 years, polluted, neglected and alienated from the life of the city. A discussion of real progress by DTSC was welcome but suspect. The crowd that night was subdued when they came in and disgusted when they went out. We are past being angry.

That was Thursday. The following Monday there was a special meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council also about the mill site. This was also a surprise. Was something in the works? Was this meeting somehow mysteriously linked to the DTSC proposals that the city suck it up and accept a few acres of carcinogens, and dioxins? Officially they called it a meeting to receive report and discuss the Georgia Pacific mill site specific plan and reuse process. 

A lot of folks came to this second meeting although not as many, all of them wondering. What they got was a tour de force of local government obfuscation, in-transparency and manipulation. The facts were obscurely there. The smokescreen was unmistakable.

Mayor Lindy started us out with a disclaimer. Nothing was going to be decided at this meeting, he informed us. Nothing will be voted on. This was an informational meeting only. I wondered if he meant that he was there to get information or to provide it. He implied the former but it turned out to be the later. After we said the pledge of alliance and had some of the cheese and crackers and even olives (very unusual) the information came in torrents. Reality bobbed around in it like flotsam.

Marie Jones (the exact opposite of everything you would want in a public servant) was center stage. The failure of DTSC to clean up the mill site, the failure of the specific plan, the failure of the city to get to first base at all, may not all be her fault but she is the person who was the city official officially in charge of all the processes that failed.

Monday was her night of redemption. She was there to explain the mill site and what had not happened there. Actually she was there to exonerate herself and by association the city hall management that tolerates her. She spoke at great length making her most important point that everything in public service was almost incomprehensibly difficult and that time scales were inevitably geologic when it came to dealing with it all. She summed it by saying that the Fourteen years in which she has had the ball to run with were about what was needed to achieve the almost nothing that she has achieved.

Her failures have been impressively extensive but they have had a silver lining, which she wears like a medal. She was able (barely) to extract the Coastal Trail out of the wreckage of the proposal to use the site the way that people thought it should be used. Her claim to competency is the trail. But the wreckage still exists.

Alas though we have a trail around the toxic dump we still have a toxic dump. We still have no path forward. We have still wasted 14 years. We are still an officially economically disadvantaged community. We still can not walk out on the property that still separates our town from the ocean. But thank Marie we can walk around it and see the surf. It is not safe, but it according to them safe enough.

Marie Jones has been the official negotiating Fort Bragg's interests in now failed toxic cleanup for many years (I think it is 14). It is passing strange that she does not seem concerned or interested that DTSC has now proposed to call it a day and leave the dioxins where they are, and the polluted areas as they are. The DTSC and Marie Jones are asking the people of the city to help out by limiting our personal exposure. I guess she is ok with their position that no harm can come to anyone if they just don't go out there too much. She has an easygoing disposition (I guess).

Marie Jones should be by the nature of her job our fighter for a clean site. Instead we have sneering mediocrity who is principally concerned to avoid comment, and collect her check. She has made no statements to the public asking for support for the cleanup and shown little concern or interest in its progress over the decades. We should recall that she gets paid (effectively) by the hour.

She did produce a specific plan which is their technical term for a legal permission and blueprint for development. It was distinguised by its lack of imagination, and it was so flawed that Georgia Pacific who paid 2.5 million dollars for it dropped it in disgust when it was close enough to completion that they were able to get some idea how unworkable and just plain boring it was .

The development director claims that the Koch brothers flushed 2.5 million dollars down the toilet so they could concentrate on cleanup. But that does not make sense. The specific plan came out of a long costly negotiation. It constituted a legal right and a plan for development expensively acquired. The specific plan might reasonably have been delayed by the toxic cleanup but would have value in its own right if it had been written intelligibly. It wasn't so they paid their money and threw the plan away.

I really think that if Marie Jones' specific plan had been workable and not a botched mass of falsehoods and pretensions, the Koch brothers would have at least kept it on the back burner. Maybe they don't care about money.

At the meeting Monday night Ms Jones read her now abandoned specific plan at enormous length. The point of doing it was obscure. It did bore everyone and some to the point that they left the meeting so it did some good. After that exhausting exercise, in the hopeful expectation that everyone had been numbed into insensibility they let us know the reason for the meeting. Our town leaders had determined that they were going to forget about doing something about the site that would involve so much work. They had a better idea.

They were going back to making an application for an LCP (local coastal plan). This was another strategy that had also in years gone by failed to cut the mustard. We learned at the meeting that the old LCP back when they launched it had provoked the coastal commission to innumerate eight hundred and eighty eight flaws unacceptable to the commission. But heck, the city said, only eleven were important, and four were resolved in negotiation. The development director declined (or has declined so far) to tell the AVA what those little hangups were. More on that when I find out.

But we learned that the possibility exists (this was the point of the the meeting and the surprise) that by reverting to an LCP the local brewery (North Coast Brewing) might be permitted to move their operations out onto the mill site. That way visitors to our Trail could, by the grace of the city and the development director, get to experience the smells and sights of an industrial brewery and the waste treatment plant all in one visit. Just what the hopeful people of the city had in mind when they expressed their ideas for a world class property. Actually the city hall folks admitted there were five businesses that were interested to move their commercial operations on to the mill site. What an idea. So very much easier than all the problems of creating a user friendly monument to imagination and creative planning. That had turned out to be nothing but a problem to them.

In the high and far off times when the city started out to do something with the GP site they had a lot of public meetings at which they solicited ideas about what could be done there. The people of the city came and participated with excitement. Those meetings generated many interesting and innovative concepts and ideas for the use of this world class property. That it should be sold off piecemeal to friends of city hall was nowhere on that list. But now the city council working hand in glove with the development director have worked out a new plan all by themselves. They did not need us after all. They will be presenting this new concept to the people in a series of dog and pony shows soon to be announced. But this time they are not looking for ideas they are pitching a sad compromise.

–Rex Gressett

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RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS for Thursday ranged from about an inch to upward of three inches (in Point Arena) for Mendocino County. Boonville and Westport both got over two inches before the rain lessened later in the day. Rain is expected to taper off over the next few days clearing for the weekend and into next week.


Navarro River
Issued: 3:55 PM, Feb 9, 2017 – National Weather Service

The Flood Warning continues for the Navarro river at Navarro until Friday afternoon, or until the warning is cancelled.

* At 3:15 PM Thursday the stage was 25.4 feet.
* Minor flooding is occurring and major flooding is forecast.
* Flood stage is 23.0 feet.
* Forecast: this river is forecast to crest near 35.0 ft late this evening, then forecast to fall below flood stage of 23.0 ft tomorrow morning, then forecast to recede to near 9.5 ft Sunday afternoon.
* Impacts: at 34.0 feet, significant flooding over the South Bank approximately 1 mile east of Highway 1 will occur. Property damage of the six homes along the river is possible. Expect closure of Highway 128. Motorists should use alternate routes.

Russian River
Issued: 3:36 PM, Feb 9 2017

The National Weather Service in Eureka has issued a Flood Warning for the Russian River near Hopland until Friday morning, or until the warning is cancelled.

* At 3:00 PM Thursday the stage was 17.9 feet.
* Minor flooding is forecast.
* Flood stage is 21.0 feet.
* Forecast: this river is forecast to rise above flood stage of 21.0 ft this afternoon, then forecast to crest near 22.5 ft this evening, then forecast to fall below flood stage of 21.0 ft late this evening, then forecast to fall below monitor stage of 18.0 ft early tomorrow morning.
* Impacts: at 23.0 feet, flooding of farmland is likely. Highway 175 near the Russian River is closed due to flooding. Flooding of buildings and homes in low lying areas is expected in Hopland, as well as the Ukiah and Talmage area.
* Flood history: this crest compares to a previous crest of 22.4 feet on Jan 9, 1995.

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A large fir tree fell across the North Fork of the Navarro River a few weeks ago. Here's how it looked on Wednesday, Feb 8:

and the following day (Thursday, Feb 9):

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KC MEADOWS writes to the County’s Public Records Act Site:

Hi there,

On the county PRA site, there are several typos in the content of my letter to the county which reflect on my ability to write a coherent sentence. Please replace what is up there with the actual content of my letter which is as follows:

Under the California Public Records Act I am requesting copies of any and all correspondence in any form, or records of any communications between the County of Mendocino or any of its representatives and Tom Woodhouse or any of his family or representatives concerning the topic of Mr. Woodhouse's absence from his elected job in the fall of 2016 and his return to work or his resignation.

We are interested to know if there was ever any discussion or negotiation between the county and Mr. Woodhouse or his representatives over his return to work or his resignation and what the results of those negotiations were. If there were no negotiations we would like to see any record of communications suggesting negotiation or suggesting conditions under which Mr. Woodhouse would return to work or resign from his elected position. I ask for any or all agreements reached between the county and Mr. Woodhouse pertaining to his departure from county government and/or waiver of any and all claims against the county. Separately, I also ask for all communications between the county and Mr. Woodhouse (or those made on his behalf by third parties such as his wife or representative) relating to any agreement reached regarding the terms of his resignation, including but not limited to any undertaking by the County to continue providing benefits whether consistent with county rules for such benefits or not, and county’s claimed liability, if any, for Mr. Woodhouse's mental illness.

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WILD HYPERBOLE. I was startled the other day to hear a woman compare the Fort Bragg mill site contamination to Fukushima. She was speaking on a local news show. Whenever tech-talk strays from the professionals qualified and involved in the actual work of remediation, I mentally ask, "Can we have a show of hands of all those people who passed high school chemistry, including the speaker's bona fides?"

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “From my house out in the yard, I can hear the County and the CalTrans trucks going up and down the highway all night, clearing slides from the roads  These guys deserve a ten-woof salute. Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof! … (How many is that?)”

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THE WORK OF YORKVILLE'S talented artist, Paula Gray, is on exhibit at Mendocino College. Her show is called “eXplorations: taking the X out of anxiety and other stories.” Ms. Gray is freshly retired from the college where she taught for many years. She is a graduate of the Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles, and UCLA.

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HERE COMES BIG POT: This is the link to the company that's in escrow to purchase the Fetzer home ranch and turn it into a cannabis processing center:

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AT THE TUESDAY SUPERVISORS BOARD MEETING when the Board considered something like the last draft of the County’s new medical marijuana cultivation regs, one speaker said the Farm Bureau had participated in the drafting of a Letter from a coalition group supporting the new regs at prior meetings but decided to send a separate letter. David Drell, co-founder of the Willits Environmenal Center, said "I have lived in Mendocino County for over forty years. I never thought I would say this. I agree with the Farm Bureau."

MCFB Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance Comments 2 7 2017 BOS Mtg

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SWEENEY IN NEW ZEALAND. Mendocino County's most interesting person, Mike Sweeney, is presently living in New Zealand. The former director of Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority is a former revolutionary communist involved  in a series of violent episodes back to the late 1960s, and remains the primary suspect in the 1990 car bombing of his former wife, Judi Bari. Sweeney had lived in Mendocino County since the 1980s where, having cast off his previous incarnation as a Maoist, Sweeney soon reinvented himself as a recycling bureaucrat, with one of his first acts being an attempt to recycle his inconvenient ex-wife. Prior to his departure for unsuspecting New Zealand, Sweeney had lived on Ukiah's Westside with Glenda Anderson, a reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. It is not known if Ms. Anderson will join Sweeney in his New Zealand exile.

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RECOMMENDED WALKS, Frisco Division: Specifically, turn right at the city end of the Golden Gate Bridge, park any old place in the abundant free lots for the next quarter mile and walk on! You'll soon be treading the bluffs above the ocean, but the more adventurous (and fit) will enjoy the fairly well-maintained trails running parallel to the pavement down below, just above the breakers which, at this time of year, are spectacular. I like to make a big loop from the Bridge and down on to Baker Beach, up the sand stairway from the Beach, on up another set of stairs and sea cypress leading to the overlook on Washington Boulevard.

Baker Beach

To me, and not to go all woo-woo on you here, this area inspires kaleidoscopic images of the entire history of the state, from the centuries of expeditionary sailors, beginning with the Spaniards, who were oblivious of the great bay hidden by its tiny mouth, as they sailed on by out to sea, sometimes only a few miles offshore. If you take a good long look at the Golden Gate you understand why it remained unexplored for so long even after Sir Francis Drake had lingered just a few miles up the coast at Tomales, where he marveled at both the hospitality and the physical beauty of the Indians. He especially marveled at the strength of the males, noting that one Indian easily carried a sea chest that it took two of his sailors to tote. Fairly early in the twentieth century, after too many ship wrecks, the Marin side of Gate was dynamited to enlarge the passage to the bay. It remains a visible gash. I always feel like a character in one of those corny old movies where a character wakes up from a coma and says, "It all comes back to me now," but it really does, everything from the Russians at Fort Ross to John Sutter, to the Gold Rush, to the waves of immigrants, to the outbound troop ships, many of whose troops never came back. In the summer months, especially at Baker Beach, this walk can be X-Rated. The beach is a gay trysting zone where, ah, outdoor consummations of sudden friendships are not an unusual sight, as is the occasional outdoor hetero boff. Mid-winter is the best time to explore the acres beneath the west side of the Bridge to enjoy the full force of the Pacific as it batters at Frisco's door.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb. 9, 2017

Donate, Finger, Fitch

MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

GEOFF FINGER, Willits. Probation revocation.

FREDRICK FITCH, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

Ginger, Guyette, Halvorsen

MICHAEL GINGER, Gardena/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

THOMAS GUYETTE, Willits. Possession of meth, paraphernalia, controlled substance, billy club or equivalent, suspended license, meth for sale, receiving stolen property, possession of counterfeiting materials.

NICHOLAS HALVORSEN, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, criminal threats. (Frequent flyer.)

Harrison, Herrera, Seale

DONALD HARRISON, St. Helena/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

RUBEN HERRERA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ERIC SEALE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Sheets, Shively, Williams

RONALD SHEETS, Stockton/Willits. Meth for sale, controlled substance.

TYLER SHIVELY, Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, first degree robbery, failure to appear, resisting.

BRYAN WILLIAMS, Hopland/Ukiah. Suspended license, probation revocation.

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You know that uncomfortable feeling at the end of the tour as the Tour Guide waits in trepidation for a Tip and everyone in the tour group quickly exits in order to avoid tipping the Tour Guide?

A rising number of “euthanasia tourists” are flocking to Belgium to end their lives, according to doctors in the country. Last year 2023 people were medically killed in Belgium, more than double the figure of five years earlier.

Of these, many appear to be foreign nationals seeking assisted dying. Doctors at clinics and hospitals in Belgium’s capital say that French patients often arrive with suitcases, thinking that their request to be helped to die will be carried out within a week.

“It’s a phenomenon that did not exist five or six years ago,” Olivier Vermylen, an emergency doctor at a Brussels hospital, told Belgium’s Sudpresse newspaper. “Nowadays I get phone calls about French people who arrive in the emergency room announcing that they want euthanasia.”

At the Brugmann University hospital, where Dr. Vermylen works, seven out of 15 euthanasia cases last year involved French people. At the Jules Bordet institute, also in the Belgian capital, French people account for almost a third of euthanasia consultations – 40 out of 130 cases.

In Britain, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor from the University of Hull is arguing for legalization of euthanasia as a solution to “death-tourism.” He told the Daily Mail that this phenomenon occurs because sick people do not have access to a law that will help them pass away peacefully at their own homes.

“There is an increasing realization that the time has come for change. It is time to consider legislating physician-assisted suicide in Britain and in other parts of the liberal world,” he said.

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GIRL SCOUTS will be hosting their 8th Annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner; Saturday, March 11, from 5-8pm at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse. Tickets include Corned Beef and Cabbage, Salad, Homemade Irish Soda Bread, Dessert and 1 drink. Tickets are $15/age 13+, $10/age 12-5, children 4 and under eat free, there will be a slight price increase at the door so get your tickets in advance from your Local Girl Scout, or Mendocino Book Company.

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by Bruce Patterson

I can’t remember when my dad moved out the house for good. Must’ve been sometime between my 12th and 14th birthdays. I can’t remember when my parents filed their divorce papers or when they were finalized in court. Getting a divorce was no easy task back in the days of Jackie Kennedy. Can’t have these gold-digging, goldbricking women left unsupervised; can’t have their children living off the honest, decent, hard-working taxpayers. Lots of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed before the judge decreed your divorce justified; lots questions to answer, Holy Men and Legal Clauses to satisfy, papers to shuffle and wheels to grease.

But, no matter when it was that my dad finally walked out once and for all, I was relieved at first. It’d been all my dad could do to keep me in school, off the streets and out of JuVee—my poor mom stood no chance.

I was also looking forward to some domestic tranquility. Seemed my whole life my mom and dad had been battling every now and again. Typically, once he’d had enough, my dad retreated to Dusty’s Bar down on Ave. 64 and York Blvd. Since the two story, 1880s-era brick building was built on the old stagecoach road (“dusty,” right?) up the Arroyo Seco to the Hoosier Colony of Pasadena, it’s now a Nationally Registered Historical Landmark and a Real Estate office). If, when my dad came back from Dusty’s, my mom was still unwilling to welcome him home, off he’d go to the Pasadena YWCA.

The YWCA offered clean, quiet and cheap rooms, and the net profits generated by the gymnasium, weight room, swimming pool, steam bath, cafeteria, hotel and boarding house went to performing Good Deeds, that last more than what my dad was willing to settle for. Still, once the dust settled and he returned from the YWCA, they both assured me that every marriage has its “ups and downs.” I wasn’t to take their battles too seriously and, of course, each fight was the last one. They still loved each other. Then they had me to think about.

My sister is six years older than me, and she got married and left the house shortly after her 18th Birthday. No, she wasn’t pregnant, though my niece arrived a year or two later (she’d get killed when she was fifteen). When my niece was born, I was living with my sister and brother-in-law down on Ave. 49 on the leeside of downtown’s Mt. Washington.

My new brother-in-law was a veteran of the foster home circuit and a multi-sport jock playing football for Cal State LA, and my dad wasn’t too impressed with him at first. A child of the Chicago’s Depression Era immigrant slums, my dad knew talk was cheap and ends ain’t shit without the means of getting there. When you’re young and full of appetites and plans, you’ve got no family and no money—not exactly a blueprint for success.

When my future brother-in-law sat down alone with my dad and tried to convince him that him being a general laborer on construction sites was just his way of working himself through college, and how he had three brothers, and how they pulled together, and how he was going to get himself a Teaching Credential in Physical Education and then become a gym teacher (while playing halfback, he’d fractured his skull and—one lucky puppy—he showed no lasting ill effects. Unless you count being banned for life from playing contact sports an ill effect). My dad, while admiring the young man’s grit, spunk and ambition, remarked that, as a practical matter and in light of his admirable intentions, him taking responsibility for his daughter sure wasn’t going to lighten his load any. Marrying his daughter could, in fact, turn into a real liability if she gets hurt in any way. Besides, the longer they waited, the better off they’d be: nothing risked, nothing lost. Ah, but theirs was a true love and my dad was forced to keep his little girl happy.

When, some years later but right on schedule, my brother-in-law went to work as a gym teacher (he’d eventually also become a coach, student councilor, driving instructor, union rep and PTA activist) and seeing how my sister had grown into a beaming young mother, my dad was, as he’d put it, “as happy as a clam.” (Look carefully and you’ll notice how a happy calm is one that’s always grinning while keeping its mouth shut.)

But I’m the only person my dad ever took to the YWCA Cafeteria, I’d wager. The first time he and I walked in, I was just tall enough to see the offerings as I was sliding my giant tray down the tracks. What I remember the most was getting to choose what I wanted to eat. That wasn’t true in regular restaurants seeing how my eyes were bigger than my stomach and my dad was picking up the tab. Since by then I’d grown up enough to enjoy polishing off my plates, the cafeteria was gastronomical paradise: meatloaf and pot roast, mashed potatoes and mac’n cheese, cinnamon apple sauce and gentleman’s corn, pudding and Jell-O topped with glops of real whipping cream served with authority and upon my request. And so it went now and again over the years.

The last time I remember us eating at the YWCA, I was a gangly six-foot teenager and we sat out on the shaded patio. He’d remarried, had two step kids, had regained legal custody of me and we were at the Y for old times’ sake and to have a heart-to-heart. There isn’t much profit in lodging the down and out, or in feeding the hungry, and the facilities were starting to show their age (Like my dad and a Free Ireland, the Pasadena YWCA was born in 1921). I remember because we argued some about me wanting to quit high school when I turned sixteen and start making some money, and him thinking I was talking silly.

While my dad thoroughly enjoyed arguing over ideas and principles, politics, business, strategies and tactics, he couldn’t abide silliness, especially silliness coming out of his own son. Knowing full well that the wise can act foolishly, and the fool wisely, still he was absolutely convinced that, as a practical matter in this nickel-and-diming world, there were Wise Men and then there were Fools. At the very least, he stressed, the wise ones get through this life with a lot fewer bumps and bruises and hurt feelings than the fools do. The wise also do a whole lot better job of keeping ahold of their money, which ain’t easy in a racket designed to keep your labor dirt cheap while separating you from your wages.

Just because I was born with nothing, my dad stressed, that didn’t mean I’ve got to die with nothing. If, in my old age, I wind up eating out of trashcans and dumpsters like that old hobo that hangs out behind Gil’s Market, my dad icily predicted, people will think it’s my own damned fault. Nobody loves you when you’re broke, son, don’t you ever forget it. Me and your mom, we know. Sooner or later, you’ll know, too. One way or the other.

And what, pray tell, must a foolish boy like me do to grow up into a wise man like my dad? First I must find something I really enjoy doing that benefits society in some way. I need a job that pays me at least enough to keep me and mine well fed, healthy, comfortable and, preferably, out of the slums. Once I’m working, I’ll have rent and bills to pay. I’ll also hafta save money for when my car breaks down and for when I get sick and miss work. Eventually—and the sooner, the better—I’ll want to save money for my kid’s educations and for me and my wife’s retirement. Again, living wisely means finding out what I’m seriously good at—and good for—and then doing it and getting better at it until I’ve “mastered” it. It means getting better over time at everything I do in life. Most importantly, it means not squandering my inborn talents. As individuals striving with others toward the good life, we’re obligated to use our talents and to use them well.

With my inborn abilities and his backing, my dad guaranteed me, I could breeze through college and, after graduation, pick whatever career that fits my bill. If ever I decide I’m in the wrong job or line of work, I can quit and do something else. So for me to turn my back on education just for some skinny little ditch-digger’s paychecks to piss away on girls and to show off for my sidekicks would be worse than silly. Because it’d be over a year before I’d turn sixteen, my dad didn’t want to hear about it till then and if then.

After returning our trays inside, and while heading for the front exit, we passed a threadbare woman sitting alone at a table who looked about half past beautiful and pulling up to nowhere. She reminded me of my mom in the loony bin and, conceivably, a future version of myself.

My dad seemed to like getting me starting all over, and there I was back to Square #1. Which is worse: the frying pan or the fire?

* * *

Who knew we’d now find ourselves living The Good Life in the World’s Greatest Country on Earth by watching endless reruns of a demented Captain Kangaroo doing magic tricks for grateful children having excellent hygiene, sealed lips and impeccable manners? Who knew our American Way of Life would dissolve into everybody watching the same endless re-reruns of advertisements for ourselves? Who could’ve guessed we’d wind up sequestered in isolation booths where even World News Tonight is re-reruns delivered by fashion model kindergarten teachers with nice tits and backed with finger-painted chalkboards equipped with automatic erasers? Ours a universe of mercantile offerings squeezed into spitballs shot out of bean-shooters squeezed between Napoleonic artillery barrages of Orwellian spectacles: “Spaghetti? You wanna real spaghetti? Lookie here: no need to boil water; no mess to clean up.”

Back at the Dawn of the Information Age and the World Wide Web, I saw a magician answering random questions from a live studio audience by looking into his computer monitor, tapping some typewriter keys and—voila!—reciting the correct answer in ten seconds or less.

“What year was Marco Polo born in?”

“In 1254, ma’am, in the Republic of Venice.” The audience erupts into cheers and applause.

I, too, fell for it and, of course, it was a con. If there’s one thing I’ve learned these last couple of decades, it’s that I’ll hardly ever get a straight answer out of my search engine. For instance, before I started writing the above little ditty, I wanted to include a sketch of the facility and the bare bones of its history and institutional culture. So I cranked up my search engine, punched in “THE Pasadena YWCA” and pushed my “sic it” button. If old Dusty’s Bar is now a NRHL, and whole damned books get written about Hollywood’s extinct Brown Derby and Rudolf Valentino’s Love Nest down in Beverly Hills, there must be some stories about to the Pasadena YWCA. The now vacant building takes up a whole city block and it’s right off The Old Plaza in the Old Town Pasadena Historical District, for Christ’s sake. Seemed like a no-brainer that some things happened there that made headlines. But I got nothing but a kaleidoscope of ads for the YWCA, the YMCA, Health Clubs, Exercise Clubs, Athletic Clubs, Golf Clubs, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Woodcraft Rangers. I also got the position papers of “community groups” made up of lobbyists and shills for or against this development or that there development across the street. My search engine was so mum about the Pasadena YWCA it made me suspect some unspeakable scandal had exploded inside the place and, for the sake of generations yet unborn, all mention of it has been banished from the public record.

As disheartening as it was to learn that the story I wanted was of no interest to my search engine, I did happen upon one interesting tidbit: the first licensed female architect in the State of California, one Julia Morgan, designed the Spanish-style building. She also designed Hearst Castle and was a prominent member of the Cities Beautiful Movement. Punch in “Julia Morgan” and you’ll get plenty on her and hers. Swinging between the links like Tarzan the Ape Man, you can spend a whole day admiring all things Real Estate if you wish.

Science tells us that the more sales pitches, commercial jingles, blips, teases, lies, myths, repetitions and trivialities that get thrown at us, the less we can focus our minds on any one thing and the stupider we get. If you wish to hide a needle, stick it in a haystack. But if you want to find a needle, forget about searching haystacks. Read a newspaper or a news magazine; read a book, read all three.

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Cellist Burke Schuchmann

THE PEREGRINE TRIO AT PRESTON HALL, Mendocino on Sunday, February 19, at 3 p.m. Violinist George Hayes, cellist Burke Schuchmann and pianist Miles Graber, will perform the "Gypsy Rondo Trio" by Haydn, the "Arensky Trio No.1" and the "Sonata for Cello and Piano" by Samuel Barber.

This is a change from the announced program as French soprano Paula Wilder-Gaubert had to cancel due to illness.  Advance tickets at Harvest Market, Fort Bragg, and Out of This World, Mendocino are $22. Tickets at the door are $25,

The Coast Chamber Concert Series of the Fort Bragg Center for the Arts

When: Sunday February 19, 3 PM

Where: Preston Hall, next to the historic Presbyterian Church, Mendocino.

For additional Information call 937-1018

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by Dan Bacher

Twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, on February 6 challenged Governor Jerry Brown’s green credentials at a press conference in Santa Monica.

The groups unveiled a comprehensive report card on Jerry Brown Administration’s environmental record showing he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including fossil fuel generated electricity, oil drilling, and coastal protection.

The report calls for a moratorium on the building of natural gas powered electricity plants, given what they described as “the glut of electric capacity” and calls for an outside audit of state’s energy needs. The group showed how California can improve its environmental protections to meet standards set in other states.

The report, noting that Brown’s infrastructure projects, led by the California WaterFix, “deplete water resources and threaten wildlife,” also urges the Governor to abandon the Twin Tunnels project.

Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at

The groups released the report as Governor Jerry Brown’s regulators race to reopen Aliso Canyon without knowing what caused the biggest methane leak in U.S. history — and as the Governor continues to push for the construction of the Delta Tunnels, considered by opponents to be potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California.

“The comprehensive review of Governor Jerry Brown’s environmental record published by Consumer Watchdog concludes that, despite Brown’s national profile for fighting climate change, and even as he serves as a foil to Trump’s anti-environmental policies, Brown is not as green as he could be,” according to a news release from the groups. “His record is ‘Murky’ at best on a scale of ‘Clean’ to ‘Dirty.’

The public interest groups concurring in the report’s analysis, assessments, and recommendations include:  Food & Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Restore The Delta, Rootskeeper, Powers Engineering, Basin and Range Watch, Aguirre & Severson LLP, Public Watchdogs, Southern California Watershed Alliance, The Desal Response Group, Committee to Bridge the Gap, and Consumer Watchdog.

“In the wake of a major Los Angeles Times investigation Sunday finding California spends billions extra on electricity it doesn’t need, much of it fossil fuel generated, the report lays blame at Brown’s door. It explains his role approving plants and appeasing the state’s utilities to which he has close political and family ties,” the organizations explained.

 “Far from the environmentalist that Brown claims to be, Brown has expanded the burning of heat-trapping natural gas and nurtured oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing while stifling efforts to protect the public from harm,” the report says. “The Public Utilities Commission has approved a slew of unnecessary new fossil-fuel power plants when the state's three major investor-owned utilities have overbuilt their generating capacity by nearly triple the minimum extra capacity that the state requires. Under Brown, the number of active onshore oil and gas wells jumped by 23 percent since the year before he was elected Governor in a bid to produce more oil.”

Other high-profile examples of Brown’s murky environmental record cited include his push for fracking, which was banned by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo via executive order, and his continuation of offshore drilling in state waters even as he solicited a federal waters ban in California from President Obama.

“Brown has run into the arms of polluting industries, hurting the environment and vulnerable communities,” said Liza Tucker, the author of the report. “Despite continuing the climate change work begun by his predecessors, on a wide array of environmental issues Brown has allowed or encouraged regulators to fail.”

The report’s main conclusions include the following:


  • Under Brown, major investor-owned utilities have nearly tripled the amount of extra generating capacity that the state requires to meet unexpected demand or emergencies. On Brown’s watch, the state’s share of electricity generated from carbon-emitting natural gas has risen to 60 percent from 53 percent in 2010. Fifteen natural gas power plants have been approved or built since Brown’s election. The Brown administration is also fighting to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility that suffered a well blowout and the biggest methane leak in US history when evidence shows it is not needed for power reliability.

The report recommends: Reject new natural gas power plants, reverse approvals for those in development, and permanently shutter Aliso Canyon.


  • Brown is backing a plan to merge California’s electric power system into a sprawling Western regional grid that would initially include PacifiCorp. A Warren Buffett affiliate, PacifiCorp operates plants in six Western states and owns more coal-fired plants than any other electric company. Brown’s position risks putting California in the crosshairs of hostile federal regulators and courts that could force the state to buy dirty coal power from companies like PacifiCorp, and derail its renewable energy requirements.

The report recommends: Scrap integration of California into a regional Western grid.


  • Brown asked President Obama to ban new oil leases in federal waters—while expanding drilling in existing leases in state waters. Since 2012, regulators permitted 238 offshore wells. Companies fracked offshore wells at least 19 times between 2011 and 2013, and in 2015 regulators greenlighted fracking 13 wells off of Long Beach. Kathon, an industrial biocide lethal to marine life, would have been used but the permits expired before the Coastal Commission could act.

Despite a state ban on new leases, regulators are considering oil company Venoco’s application to tap new offshore acres in the California Coastal Sanctuary. Active onshore oil and gas wells now total more than 66,000, up from nearly 54,000 in 2009, with 20 percent of the state’s oil produced via fracking. Brown has ignored a commissioned report on fracking recommending that unknown and very hazardous chemicals be banned.

The report recommends: Use executive authority to ban fracking as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did, reject any drilling in protected coastal sanctuaries, and phase out oil drilling.


  • Under Brown, the Coastal Commission tried to weaken protections for environmentally sensitive habitats such as those located on one of the last private parcels of land left on the Southern California coast near Newport Beach where developers proposed to build a 400-acre complex of homes and businesses. The commission also gave Southern California Edison a permit to build a nuclear waste dump for spent fuel from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear generating plant right on a San Diego Beach, threatening millions of residents.



  1. LouisBedrock February 10, 2017

    Re euthanasia. Steve Helig has written, I believe, at least one article about the need for it.

    Assisted dying or euthanasia, whatever one calls it, I want access to it. My younger sibling and I cared for our mother during her death throes. In her final days, even the morphine didn’t work anymore and she was in constant agony. I would have killed her myself to end her suffering, but there were others involved.

    I hope other states, including New Jersey, will legalize physician assisted death. I resent religious cults interfering in decisions that should be the prerogative of the individual.

  2. Alice Chouteau February 10, 2017

    Thanks Rex, for this report. Jones has represented the Turner mindset consistently, and the environment is not a consideration. Except for her bogus and biased reports.
    I guess she figures if we become a Bee Friendly City, that will compensate for the toxic mill site, and the degradation of the local watershed..

  3. james marmon February 10, 2017


    1st District Supervisor Brown reprimands 3rd District Supervisor Woodhouse

    “Woodhouse says he is uncomfortable talking about the critical letter but that he would find it difficult to turn away county employees who come to him to tell him about problems they see within the county. He says he isn’t trying to interfere with relations between the county and employees.

    Problems within Mendocino County government between workers and supervisors in many departments, especially Health and Human Services, has been well documented by the Mendocino County Grand Jury, union officials and many former employees. Concerns over retaliation against whistle blowers has made it difficult for current county employees to speak about workplace issues on the record.

    The county’s recent response to the Mendocino County Grand Jury’s report on Family and Children’s Services illustrates the role of HHSA supervisors and managers who seem to be rewarded for painting the most advantageous picture of their department’s performance rather than providing the board with a realistic view of conditions on the ground. This rosy portrait prompted First 5 Mendocino to issue a white paper supporting the grand jury findings out of concern for children being handled by FCS, including two tragic examples of failure.”

  4. Lazarus February 10, 2017

    Why all the interest in poor ole Tom Woodhouse…? There’s no story, from all reports he had a garden variety”nervous break down”, end of story…right?
    As always,

    • Bruce Anderson February 10, 2017

      Because he, like a lot of people, especially cops, is trying to hustle benefits he’s not entitled to. Best to him, but…..

      • Lazarus February 10, 2017

        I wonder what the odds are he’ll get money? I suspect with Neary not so good…
        As always,

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