- Upcoming Rain
- Necessary Ruffing
- Life Support
- Fiscal Boobery
- Fiasco Annotatated
- Recommended Viewing
- Gomes Appreciation
- Little Dog
- Ukiah Co-op
- Bomb Threat
- Armed Stoners
- Yesterday's Catch
- Stroshane Book
- Trickle Up
- Poetry Event
- Janssen Book
- Imperiled Rivers
- Revolutionary Moment
- Hate Speech
- Help Wanted
- Oil Lobby
THE EXPECTED RAIN OVERNIGHT WEDNESDAY into Thursday arrived on schedule in central Mendo. Based on the Navarro River level forecast, this Thursday rain should be the biggest for the week, tapering off over the next few days into next week.
BUT ACCORDING TO WeatherUnderground, Oroville is going to get drenched starting Wednesday with the biggest rain day on Friday. Wednesday’s initial showers begin a continuous band of rain around Oroville all the way through next Friday the 24th. So Oroville could get in the neighborhood of eight inches or so over the next ten days. Meaning it will be touch and go for the newly un-evacuated residents as they watch and wait to see whether the maximum releases over the badly damaged concrete spillway can keep Lake Oroville from overflowing, flooding — or worse.
JUST IN FROM FORT BRAGG
Before the Wednesday night special meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council, City Manager Linda Ruffing issued a memorandum on the Hospitality Center. If anyone does not know, that is the building that was our Old Coast Hotel. The property achieved local notoriety when the operators at city hall gave it to homeless helpers for free in the teeth of considerable opposition. That was last year.
Lately our City Manager walked the streets of Fort Bragg's downtown area asking business owners what they thought about the job the social workers were doing in their new million-dollar hotel. Her conclusions were stilted, manifestly dishonest, and were couched in a subtle arrogance that we in Fort Bragg have come to recognize as her peculiar style. She wrote them up in a memorandum.
This memorandum is the kind of document that is issued from time to time by the City. It's intended to be seen almost exclusively by insiders. Employees of the City read it, department heads certainly do, the city council reads it.
The public largely does not. It is accessible on the city site. It should be news, but in the no news world of the Fort Bragg Advocate’s media monopoly it would not be. The AVA will print this list of conclusions that Linda has deduced from her exploration among the business owners of the downtown area. You can read it after my review of the meeting tonight which I will post tomorrow.
Ruffing's main idea is that people don’t know what to do about homelessness. People don’t dislike the homeless, but they don’t know how they can help them. Ms. R also discovered, according to her memorandum, that the storefront owners have sort of given up on the homeless doings at the Old Coast Hotel. Yeah, they gave up after they tried everything else.
I would call the responses by local business owners a kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Linda interprets it as a lowering of the temperature of rebellion. A confession of acquiescence.
There was community reaction. Plenty of it. A ballot initiative was floated to stop the Old Coast project. The initiative was written by local lawyer Rod Jones and was so hopelessly flawed and badly reasoned that the ballot initiative failed. Barely. But the community outrage over the whole scheme, the City Manager's arrogant duplicity, the railroading past the city council of a project that simply for economic reasons would not have been approved by any city council in California — all of it got the people’s attention, that is for sure.
Centrally located hotels are widely understood to push business, Homeless shelters do not enhance enterprise. The Hospitality Center does not rise to the level of a shelter, it is just a joint. The grant-funded doers of good give the homeless a cup of coffee. But you can be totally sure that it does not push business or bring people here. Any other city council in California worth its salt would have raised hell.
That this city council would address itself to this issue at all is direct defiance of the smooth running money machine that the city manager runs to fund her social services-dependent constituency. Bernie Norvell is courageously behind it. He told me before the election he was not afraid, deeply annoyed and ready to rumble. Now he is walking the walk.
The many, many families who have come to the city of Fort Bragg to find help for developmentally disabled kids (who we all love) and to take advantage of the kindness and generosity of the city social services industry (which we all support) is a voting constituency understandably loyal to Linda Ruffing. She funnels them money and works diligently to hide from public observation the tens of millions of dollars of unfunded liabilities that we have secretly stacked up here in town. Those clearly decent parents and friends of the disabled and their supporters were so numerous that they were a voting majority in Fort Bragg before City Hall pulled the Old Coast Hotel stunt. Now they are not.
Fort Bragg folks have instead elected a new city council. The old one departed in fear and embarrassment over their cowardly capitulation to the City Manager's overreach and contempt for the welfare of the city in the Old Coast Hotel deal. Everyone knows, including them, that they violated the Brown Act in spirit and very possibly in fact. What is not in question is that they were afraid to run again. No shit. In their place the people of the city elected the best men that we could find to address the issue, the problem, the obstruction to progress that the city manager has made herself. Tonight they are going to do that.
More tomorrow after the meeting
There has been a little controversy, some discussion and some confusion over one of the most basic functions of the city council. Can and how does a city councilperson put an item on the agenda. If a subject is to be discussed by the city council in open meetings, it has to be on the agenda for that meeting. The agenda is put together by the city manager. It is available to the council and the public on the Thursday before the Monday evening meeting. To say that the city manager controls and writes the agenda is beyond dispute. The city council agenda is how the city manager gets things lined up and organized for the council to consider. She writes it. With it she sets the terms of the discussion. It is her most powerful implement for controlling the city’s business. All of that is given. The question was whether or not a councilman even could put something on the agenda.
The question came up first during the Old Coast Hotel controversy. Clearly the council did not know then that it was an option they had. It came up again when I asked them straight up at the City Council meeting. Of course Linda Ruffing puffed up and expressed with exquisite condescension and slightly veiled pity for my ignorance that it was obvious and evident and beyond doubt that of course any councilman can put anything on the agenda. Samantha Zuttler, the city’s SF-based attorney, jumped in and told me she would explain it all in a way that even I could understand if I would come around some time. I told all of this to an unnamed source familiar with the city council, in fact he is on it. He pointed out to me that in the manual that they prepare for city council newbies there was nothing on this problematic question. The City clerk who is delightfully honest and scrupulous in a wicked city hall, told me that councilmen do put things on the agenda when they have an issue with something at a meeting. This is a putting on by default. I kind of meant could they put an item on the agenda in advance of a meeting. I was thinking of something a little more considered, policy oriented and independent of the city manager. Why ain’t it in the manual?, I asked humbly. Because saith she they are going to review this at the next finance committee meeting. Can’t argue with that.
They did discuss it at the next finance meeting and all was made clear in some detail. Why it had to be made clear if it was so obvious is a question that will never be answered.
— Rex Gressett
AKIVA DEMARINIS, 28, of Great Falls, Virginia, is on life support in Santa Rosa after his westbound Ford Mustang careened off Highway 128 Sunday afternoon about five miles from Highway One and into a tree. Demarinis was alone in the vehicle and, according to the CHP, "was traveling at a high rate of speed." Drugs or alcohol were not suspected to be involved in the accident.
REPEATING SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE'S comment on the state of Mendo County finances because it explains why the County is broke: "Students of Mendocino history are well aware of what has prompted the fiscal crisis Mendocino County has faced since 2008. A series of 'popular' but financially unsustainable votes, many in the 1990s and early 2000s have given us a County pension system that is underfunded by roughly $200 million and a County road system that is underfunded by roughly $600 million."
SUPERVISOR GJERDE did not name names, but the chief culprits are easily identifiable based on the timing of some of the more egregious decisions that make up the history he refers to. Former Supervisor John Pinches has told the story many times, that when he left the Board of Supervisors after his first term in the 1990s, the County had a balanced budget and no long term debt. Conservative Supervisors Mike Delbar (1st District-Potter Valley) and Patty Campbell (4th District-Fort Bragg) were elected in 1996, just in time to issue the first Pension Obligation Bonds. Willits mortician Tom Lucier was elected 3rd District Supervisor in 1998 and helped drive the decision to fund the Willits Justice Center, the ugliest building in the North County which has been sitting vacant for years. Lucier also gets credit for the Willits Integrated Service Center an unmanaged Social Services satellite operation, and another expensive boondoggle. Both were paid for by a questionable rope-a-dope financial scheme that evaded a requirement for a public vote on taxpayer funded bonds.
THIS TRIO OF SELF-ALLEGED CONSERVATIVES then jumped on board the Slavin Study bandwagon that dramatically increased employee salary and benefits without anyone bothering to ask how to pay for it or the accompanying future pension increases. Lucier stuck around just long enough to join his "conservative" colleagues in voting for the second round of Pension Obligation Bonds. All were on board for mismanagement of the Teeter Plan (which was supposed to make a little money for the county via past due property tax fees and penalties), which saw an initial "investment" of $5 million balloon to more than $11 million in debt.
WHEN THE SLAVIN STUDY pay raises were approved, Pinches, who was still out of office at the time, was quoted telling the Supes "There's an acorn for every pig." Pinches often noted that it was three conservative Republicans (Delbar, Campbell, and Lucier) who buried the County in debt.
PINCHES got back on the Board of Supes just a couple of years before the economic collapse; Supervisors Brown and McCowen were elected during the crash. Starting from the brink of bankruptcy they slashed operating costs, balanced the budget, paid off the Teeter Plan, and restored the County's credit rating, which had plunged to junk bond status. And they were able to do this despite the petty thievery of disgraced Supervisors Kendall Smith and David Colfax who never missed an opportunity to line their own pockets with public money.
HAMBURG, when the fiscal boobery was underway, was way off the Board and had drifted off to Congress, China, the Adi Da cult… He has since been re-elected to the Supe's board. The late Seiji Sugawara and Norman de Vall had gone off the board dominated by the free-spending "conservatives." Shoemaker was on the Board for most of the chicanery, and wasn't what you might call opposed, but it was the trio of "conservatives" who led the way.
IF YOU MISSED that little item in the latest CEO report giving an update on the Little River Timber Harvest, you didn’t miss anything. The “update” only makes things worse and more confusing, as we have noted with annotations in [brackets] below.
According to CEO Angelo, “In January 2017, the Board referred the matter of the County’s Little River Airport Land Management to the Board of Supervisors Public Health, Safety and Resources Committee. … The Board's previous Ad Hoc Committee formed in 2014 [oh, but it goes back much farther than that!] and the Department of Transportation (MCDoT) have been working with various conservation groups to come to an agreement regarding the land. [So that’s almost three years and no “agreement.”] CalFire was awaiting confirmation from the County that we were interested in proceeding with the NTMP [Non-industrial timber management plan for those of you not in the know] amendment [Suspiciously, Ms. Angelo fails to described the NTMP “amendment.”] In October 2015, the Ad Hoc Committee recommended holding off any action regarding the NTMP amendment and/or any harvest until the FAA responded. [See, everybody’s supposed to already know what the amendment would have done; obviously it’s not for “harvest.”] To date, no agreement has been reached to sell a conservation easement or trade land with the interested parties. [Remember, that the coast enviros who wanted to save the few remaining large trees near the Little River Airport assured the Board in 2014 that there was plenty of interest. Now three years later, no agreement.] The Ad Hoc Committee also indicated that more discussion [“more discussion”? what? Three more years?], including with community stakeholders, would be necessary before proceeding with a timber harvest [now they’re back to considering a timber harvest?] and advised that the County hold off on the NTMP/timber harvest for another year. [Another “year”!]
IN CASE THAT WASN’T MUDDY ENOUGH, Ms. Angelo continued, “On January 18, 2017, the County received notice from CalFire that ‘The major deviation [whatever that is] shall be found not in conformance per 14CCR 898.2(c). [whatever that is]. There is evidence that the information contained in the plan [presumbably the NTMP or the amendment, but who knows?] is incorrect, incomplete in a material way. [The County has spent over $100k for an otherwise unemployed forester named Sternberg to prepare this newly “incorrect, incomplete” plan. So far.] Per 14CCR 1090.2 [also unexplained], it is CalFire’s professional judgment that due to the lapse in time between the submitted inventory and any required remodeling [remodeling?] of the data, the information provided cannot be brought into conformance. [I.e., the $100k is down the drain because too much time has elapsed and the “plan,” whatever that is, is now out of date.] New information submitted through the deviation process is required to meet the intent of the approved NTMP.” (That’s what Calfire apparently actually said.)
“Based upon this information,” Ms. Angelo continues, “staff will present the Public Health, Safety and Resources Committee with an additional update at their March 2017 meeting.” [One might hope it would be clearer than this one and would explain why the County continues to waste money on this doomed project.]
IT’S VERY LITTLE CONSOLATION that “MCDoT,” the County’s Transportation Department which manages county-operated-owned airports, “cut the trees that the FAA had wanted cut since 2005 [2005! 12 years ago!] (small diameter trees on high ground very close to those that were under the ‘Utility Exemption’ in the summer of 2015. MCDoT is now in compliance with regards to redwood to the east of the runway (the main issue from 2014). MCDoT continues to address FAA annual inspection findings [and] will continue to cut by ‘Utility Exemption’ [i.e., no need for Timber Harvest Plan or Calfire approval] as has been the operational practice for approximately 50 years before the 1997 NTMP.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN from this now decades-long fiasco? One: Do not let the County have anything to do with logging. Two: Preparing a genuinely satisfactory Timber Harvest Plan (or related documents) is so onerous anymore that it’s nearly impossible to get the paperwork in order before you do any logging at all in California, especially for small jobs. Three: Supervisor John Pinches’s original idea more than ten years ago to sell the property to Mendocino Redwoods (which owns adjoining parcels) should have been done long back then.
CONVENIENTLY, Ms. Angelo gives no information about how much it will cost to re-do (and “remodel”) the Calfire paperwork which is now apparently out of date. Suffice it to say, that the County’s dithering on the issue has cost way more than the value of any of the trees or the value of any kind of conservation easement they might sell.
NEVERTHELESS, unless Supervisor Pinches gets back on the Board to replace Woodhouse for the rest of his term, nobody in the current County administration will have a single critical word about this wasteful mess or how much it’s costing the County. The failure to deliver on previous promises alone is ground for everyone involved to be fired.
BACKGROUND (a sampler):
- 2015: https://www.theava.com/archives/41337#4
- 2014: https://www.theava.com/archives/34693
- 2014: https://www.theava.com/archives/34450#8
- 2013: https://www.theava.com/archives/34693
- 2013: https://www.theava.com/archives/23094
- 2011: https://www.theava.com/archives/11590
RECOMMENDED VIEWING, the new NetFlicks series called, "Nobel," an ironic title about a Norwegian special forces unit assigned to Afghanistan and related intrigue as involving the Norwegian government, Norway being the home of the famous (and famously corrupted) peace prize annually doled out in the name of the inventor of dynamite.
REALISTICALLY WRITTEN and finely acted, the on-screen Norwegian commandos are depicted as operating under strict rules. They aren't supposed to shoot unless they see a weapon. This stricture prompts some funny comments from the Norge special forces: "We should be like the Americans. They blast away and ask questions later." There's a non-saccharine love story grafted on to the war and politics narrative with the combat scenes so well done they could be documentary footage. All this and you get a little window into the land of fjords and kippers.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is a strong documentary film starring the late James Baldwin himself in numerous film clips and his prose as it describes America's perpetually combustible black-white relations. I saw Baldwin speak at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco back in another life, maybe circa '62. He was the best speaker I'd seen and, of course, the fire he'd predicted "next time" has often since flamed up in our dependably racially tense country.
THE FILM makes for painful viewing. It consists largely of Baldwin's words against a backdrop of blithely racist clips from American movies, and random docu-footage and stills of atrocities. For a lifelong lib lab like yours truly, nothing new here, but accompanied by Baldwin's passion and words, one more powerful reminder that as race relations get better with millions of people, they grow worse with millions more. Overall, "I Am Not Your Negro" should be required viewing in the schools as a lesson on how we got to where we are.
PATRICK GOMES has become my favorite KZYX personality. By default because he's the one I hear every Wednesday as I peddle my papers the length of the Anderson Valley. I really, really like Gomes's selections of classical music, much of which I haven't heard, and I appreciate his knowledgeable comment on the music, which I can play full blast, the way a lot of it should be heard to get full import, as I drive along without someone yelling, "Turn that down!"
QUICK CAVEAT, Mr. Gomes. On today's show, during which I got to hear, among other treasures, a stirring rendition of "God Save the Queen," not that I've ever been inclined to save either her or the Brit monarchy. Anyway, at one point this morning, (Wednesday), you said that Mendocino "is a crazy county. We had a DA who cheated on his income taxes."
MENDOCINO COUNTY isn't any wackier than any other place in a country wackier by the day. And DA Vroman didn't "cheat" on his income taxes, he fought the federal government out front from the quixotic (or cockamamie) stance that he simply couldn't see any place in the Constitution where it said he had to pay income taxes. Norm parlayed his singular failure to decode the sacred document all the way into the federal pen for a couple of years. He was a principled guy, even when he was the only guy who could see the principle.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I hope all my canine friends — and their owners and emergency responders — in Oroville are staying dry and out of the spray while they wait under the threat of a giant dam collapse.”
I am a farmer in Potter Valley, and I’m running for the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op board of directors. Our certified organic farm grows grass hay, fresh produce under the name Strong Roots, and vegetable seed as Open Circle Seeds. I made the decision to run along with two other candidates, Halle Brady and Julia Dakin, who also have valuable experience in our local food economy. The three of us shared our ideas and wrote our platform statements in cooperation, so that we each expressed different aspects of the perspective we offer to bring to the Co-op board. Our bottom line: we want to help the Co-op become even more effective as a catalyst in growing our local food economy.
Both Halle and Julia fully believed they were Co-op members, Halle for more than thirty years. This was confirmed every time they shopped at the Co-op, when the cashier asked if they were members and tallied their purchases to their member accounts. But when Halle and Julia submitted their applications to run for the Board, they were told otherwise -- that because their husbands’ names appeared first on their accounts, only their husbands were members of the Co-op. How many Co-op “members” are in this same boat, and would find, if they tried to participate more fully in the Co-op’s governance, that their contributions would be rebuffed? This restrictive interpretation of membership runs counter to the Co-op’s values and goals. Not to mention sounds like something out of the 1950s, not the 21st century. I am certain the Co-op board and management do not intend to discriminate -- but discrimination is nevertheless the result of this interpretation of the membership regulations. If elected to the Board, this is another issue I will address.
Since it is unclear at this point whether the candidacies of Halle Brady or Julia Dakin will be allowed to proceed, I’d like to tell you what we all want to offer to Co-op members. Here is a combination of the points presented in each of our three candidate statements, points we all agreed to. If I have to run without them, this is what I bring. If they are allowed to run, this is what we bring:
First of all, we deeply appreciate what the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op has achieved for our community, and will work to preserve and expand what has been accomplished. The Co-op has been well run for many years. It’s financially solid, with considerable accumulated reserves. It is a hub of healthy commerce and social connectivity. And, in these uncertain times, with the need for community connection greater than ever, we believe the Co-op can further leverage its strengths and expand its influence in our community to the greater benefit of us all. No business institution is better positioned to be a continuing force for positive transformation in the greater Ukiah area than the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op.
A study done several years ago found that Mendocino County residents spent $137 million each year on food. Less than 2% of that food was produced in our county. Bringing that percentage up to just 15% would add $20 million to our local economy! One of the Co-op’s strategic goals is to be a driving force in our local food economy. A recent Co-op member survey identified “more local goods” as a #1 priority for members. As farmers and advocates for a local food economy, we understand the challenges local farmers face and see opportunities for the Co-op to play a pivotal role in growing our region’s local food economy. If elected we will work to realize the Co-op’s goals to strengthen customer connections with local food producers and foster the success of local farms. Here are some of the ways we see to accomplish these goals:
-- implement an educational campaign to highlight the many advantages of locally produced food
-- expand marketing strategies to clearly identify local goods
-- advocate for a stronger local purchasing preference policy
-- expand kitchen facilities as needed to provide more fresh prepared meal options, thereby gaining another outlet for locally produced goods
-- look for additional ways to make the Co-op’s local products more accessible to low income community members
-- work to bring the principles of “B” or Benefit Corporations into the business practices of the Co-op, so that improving the physical and social environment becomes explicitly as important as fiscal profits, creating a triple bottom line.
We understand that current Co-op board members also identify with these aims -- after all, they created the current strategic goals that emphasize encouraging our local food economy. What we want to bring to the table is fresh energy toward these goals informed by our perspectives as local food producers. May we all three be given a chance!
You can show your support for Halle and Julia’s candidacies by signing this Change.org petition:
For even more impact, come to the next Co-op Board of Directors meeting: February 20th at 6pm in the annex (same parking lot as the Co-op, at the south end of the social services building). Thank you for your support.
LOOK UNDER THE RESTAURANT
On Feb. 14, 2017 at approximately 9:35 AM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a possible bomb threat at the Calpella Elementary School. As Deputies were responding to the scene they were notified that a school employee had evacuated the school. Deputies then requested assistance from the Calpella Fire Department to assist in securing the school. When Deputies arrived on scene they were contacted by school employees and advised that an unknown male caller had left a voice mail on the school cafeteria answering machine at 11:30 PM on Feb. 13, 2017, advising of a bomb threat. The Deputies listened to the voice message which appeared to be a disguised male voice, The caller said there would be a "Bomb placed under the restaurant." Deputies along with school employees searched the interior and exterior of the Calpella School and the surrounding grounds and no suspicious devices or bombs were located. The Calpella Elementary School was cleared and deemed safe for all students and faculty to return to normal business. The case is still under investigation and anyone with information or any knowledge is encouraged to contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office tip line at 707-234-2100 or the business line 707-463-4411.
A READER WRITES: Re: Wilson v Lynch MJ Gun restriction
Just came across this law after seeing an ATF posting at a gun store.
To me the court ruling can potentially be broadened under Trump’s Attorney General to further suppress the actions of MJ cardholders wherever an "illegal" substance can be used to prohibit a felon: voting, CA driver’s license, etc. Courts say law restricts purchase but not ownership of firearms — but the assumption is that an MJ card user is an active "felon" under the influence and a danger. Funny how going out and drinking while using guns is an honored pastime — guess a bunch of alcoholics isn't a problem.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 15, 2017
RICARDO CONTRERAS, Calpella. Domestic battery.
ELIZABETH DOCKINS, Ukiah. ID theft for credit, acquiring and use of someone else’s access card without consent, receiving stolen property, controlled substance, conspiracy.
JIMMIE ISENHART, Ukiah. Drinking in public.
CHRISTOPHER LELOUP, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER OROZCO, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Domestic battery, swap meet vendor receiving stolen property, shoplifting, no license, revoked license, conspiracy.
AMY VELEZ, Laytonville. Unspecified misdemeanor.
RICHARD WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
KYNDRA WOZNIACK, Ukiah. Possession of burglary tools.
DAN BACHER & THE AVA highly recommend attending this book signing by Tim Stroshane at Time Tested Books in Sacramento on Thursday, February 23, at 7pm. Stroshane will read from his new book "Drought, Water Law, and the Origins of California's Central Valley Project."
LITERARY EVENTS: BOOK SIGNING
Drought and Water Law in California
Tim Stroshane will read from his new book “Drought, Water Law, and the Origins of California’s Central Valley Project.”
Stroshane explains how drought and legal conflict shaped statewide economic development and how the grand bargain of a San Joaquin River water exchange was struck from this monopoly legacy, setting the stage for future water wars.
When: Thursday, 2/23, 7pm
Ages: All ages
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The public would never accept an admission or counseling from the government about how to wind down modern life. You can’t ask 10 million people in LA to give up their cars. They will revolt. You can’t even plan for the contingency. People simply will not cooperate. Happy motoring is too ingrained in our psyche.
That, in and of itself, is the reason why no one, including Obama and now Trump, was or is willing to give that counsel. If you tell people they can’t drive anymore there will be more road rage. If you tell people to grow their own vegetables they will empty the store shelves. There is no upside to the downside. Whenever it comes there will be widespread panic, violence and suffering.
We have to each individually plan and hope that planning will spread to neighborhoods, municipalities and regions. Trickle up … but only after it starts. There is no trickle down.
JOIN CALIFORNIA POET LAUREATE Dana Gioia at Ukiah Library on Saturday, February 18th at 5 pm for a special poetry event. This free event will feature poetry readings from Gioia, Theresa Whitehill, Linda Noel, Armand Brint, and the winner of the Mendocino County Poetry Out Loud championship. Gioia's appearance in Mendocino County is part of his ambitious 58-county California Poet Laureate Tour. Presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, the California Center for the Book & the California State Library. Hosted by the Ukiah Branch of Mendocino County Library. Artists of all ages can explore the relationship between meditation and art by creating hand-painted mandala stones. Young children will need help with this craft from a parent or guardian. This free event is sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.
BOOK TALK, Sale and Signing at the local Library, 105 N. Main, Ukiah, February 22, 6:30-7:30
This will be my last Ukiah event before my book and I hit the road in March. Thank you to my community for your warm and enthusiastic welcome to Wordstruck! the Fun and Fascination of Language. The three local launch events have been attended by over 250 people!
As I head for Gualala, Healdsburg, Mendocino, Marin, Sacramento and beyond, I will call on you to share my far flung events with your friends and connections in those areas. Do forward this message to anyone you think might be interested in coming to our local library on the 22nd.
Thank you from my heart. I so appreciate your support!
WILL PARRISH on bad logging’s impact on north coast rivers and communities:
THE REVOLUTIONARY MOMENT
(by Paul Kingsnorth, on the eve of the last U.S. election):
‘FREE’ SPEECH, FEAR & THE PRIMITIVE HUMAN BRAIN—
The intrinsic dangers of social hierarchy.
It is illegal to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. The idea of fire creates intense fear deep in the primitive human brain known as the Limbic System, or emotional center. The “Fight or Flight” reaction is activated causing a stampede, resulting in injury and death. Similarly “Hate Speech” can activate the emotional centers of the primitive human brain. “Hate speech” can be understood to be as intrinsically dangerous as shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater.
Neuroscience studies have shown that both in brain activity and behavior, people place higher importance on social status than money. When concerned about social status the brain’s emotional center, in the limbic system is most active. Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with a person’s commitment to social status, for example, strong belief in racial superiority and economic inequalities.
In the US, social status and race are often intertwined. African Americans are often assumed to be less worthy and White individuals are often assumed to be more worthy. This greater status attached to white skin is learned at a young age and continually reinforced by US culture. Furthermore, research has shown that those who believe in white supremacy and the negative stereotypes of blacks, view a rise in the social status of blacks as threatening, activating their limbic–emotional center. Those who are committed to racist ideas of social superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest and instability, again activating emotional arousal in their primitive brain. This is particularly important in today’s neo-fascist politics tied to white supremacy.
Many countries have passed laws against “Hate Speech” because they recognize that such speech incites violence or prejudicial actions: Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia and many others. One needs only to look at the hate speech of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan or the German Nazi party to see this obvious reality.
Ask yourself why we cannot shout fire in a crowded theater but we can shout out hate speech anywhere? Millions of working people of all colors and nationalities are seeing corporations move their jobs oversees or out of existence through automation. Vast numbers of people are insecure about their lives and the future for their children. Hate, fear and anger are a primitive brain response which clouds the mind’s ability to see how much more we are alike than different.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon
(Dr. Nayvin Gordon is a Family Physician who has written many articles on Health and Politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Hiring PT Nursery Assistant, Fort Bragg. Nursery on the Plaza at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is currently seeking a Nursery Assistant! Seasonal (Mar-Oct) Part-time: 2-3 days per week, including either Saturday or Sunday Reports to: Nursery Manager. The Nursery Assistant position involves a broad range of retail, nursery and office tasks including selling plants, creating attractive displays, providing customer service, plant/nursery maintenance, basic point-of-sale system use, and unloading/receiving plants. For a full job description and information on how to apply please visit
CALIFORNIA OIL LOBBY TOPS SPENDING IN 2015-16 SESSION WITH $36.1 MILLION
by Dan Bacher
In spite of California's reputation as a "green leader," Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor's Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.
As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.
The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to a report by the American Lung Association in California. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session.
Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.
In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer's Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.
The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.
Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.
To read the complete report, go to: http://www.lung.org/local-content/california/documents/Oil-Industry-Lobbying-2016-update-4_1-31-17.pdf
WSPA: Sacramento's most powerful corporate lobbying group
Although the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in the West and California, its enormous influence appears to be one of our state’s best-kept secrets. It has spent more than other lobbying organization in Sacramento in recent years to exert control over the Governor’s Office, regulatory agencies and the State Legislature.
Big Oil, along with Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Timber and other corporate interests, dominate politics in California, as well as in Washington, D.C., as evidenced by President's Donald Trump’s nomination of EXXON CEO Rex Tilleson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and other oil and energy corporation shills to his cabinet. The appointment of oil industry officials and their allies to California regulatory panels has been standard practice in California for many years.
The Western States Petroleum Association is a “non-profit trade association” that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.
WSPA’s membership includes a who’s who oil, energy and pipeline corporations including Aera Energy LLC, Chevron, Californian Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Noble Energy, Inc., Phillips 66, Plains All American, Inc. Shell Oil Products US, Tesoro Refining and Marketing and Valero.
From January 1, 2009 to November 8, 2016 alone, the oil industry spent $112,371,214 on lobbying expenses in California, according to a report, “The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy.” The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Sydney Office produced the report, in collaboration with a coalition of conservation, consumer and environmental justice groups.
The Western States Petroleum Association led the oil industry lobbying expenses with $49,491,104 during this period, followed by Chevron with $24,035,901 and Phillips 66 with $4,821,144. For more information, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/wspa-the-wests-most-powerful-corporate-lobbying-group/
The five way Big Oil exerts its influence
WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: and (5) working in collaboration with media.
Big Oil and other corporate advocates have dominated appointments to Commissions and regulatory panels in California under Governors Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, ranging from the Department of Conservation, to the California Public Utilities Commission, to the California Energy Commission, to the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force.
In a classic case of the “fox guarding the hen house, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 at the same the oil industry was fracking South Coast ocean waters. Reheis-Boyd, appointed by Schwarzenegger, also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast, and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.
It gets worse. Reheis-Boyd’s husband, James D. Boyd, first appointed by Governor Davis, sat on on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2/2007 to 1/2012.
In September 2016, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) opened an investigation into the California Democratic Party in response to a report by a prominent consumer group, Consumer Watchdog, claiming that the party acted as a “laundry machine” to funnel donations from oil, energy and utility companies to Brown’s 2014 election campaign. For more information, go to: http://redgreenandblue.org/2016/09/29/jerry-browns-campaign-launder-dirty-money-big-oil/
In the "Brown's Dirty Hands" report, Consumer Watchdog revealed that that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor for his third term. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million
"Occidental’s attorney, former Governor Gray Davis, successfully pressured Brown to fire two oil and gas regulators who wouldn’t grant oil waste injection permits without proof that aquifers would not be contaminated," according to the group. "Two months later, when Brown’s new interim oil and gas supervisor granted Occidental a permit without an environmental review, Occidental contributed $250,000 to Prop 30, Brown’s ballot measure to raise taxes, then another $100,000 two weeks later to his favored Oakland Military Institute. Seven months later, Occidental made a second $250,000 donation to Prop 30."
You can download "Brown's Dirty Hands" at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands
More recently on February 6, twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, unveiled a comprehensive report card on the Brown Administration’s environmental record revealing that he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including fossil fuel generated electricity, oil drilling, and coastal protection. Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/isbrowngreen
There is no doubt that Big Oil and other corporate interests dominate politics in California and Washington — and that we must relentlessly work to get Big Oil out of politics by supporting efforts like the Move to Amend, movetoamend.org, and the California Clean Money Campaign, www.caclean.org.