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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017

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HEAVIER RAIN now predicted for Sunday night and Monday: Upwards of two inches possible over night Sunday. Combined with rainy days preceding Sunday, the Navarro could flood to the point of closure on Monday.

RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS FOR THURSDAY in Mendocino County ranged were between one to two inches for most areas.

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FORT BRAGG'S previous City Council seemed oblivious to the increasing complaints about Hospitality House's burgeoning transient services in the middle of town. In the face of rising complaints Mayor Turner, backed by two auto-votes (mercifully retired), and city manager Ruffing, made Fort Bragg more and more hospitable to an ever larger population of drop-fall drunks, drug addicts, petty criminals, and what you might call full-time practitioners of aberrant public behavior. The City of Fort Bragg went so far as to hustle up grant money so Hospitality House could expand into the graceful but long-vacant Old Coast Hotel.

THE NEW CITY COUNCIL is at last questioning the wisdom of an ever-larger homeless operation in the center of Fort Bragg's business district.

AT MONDAY NIGHT'S meeting, a resident commented that homelessness was on the rise everywhere. Which is true, and makes it even more obvious that a small town with limited resources like Fort Bragg can't possibly withstand the rising tide. But because FB offers a temperate climate and a range of attractive freebies, enough of them to attract more and more dependent persons to Fort Bragg, some of them perhaps steered to town by a couple of websites directing deadbeats to "the best places in America to be homeless," Fort Bragg has clearly become a target destination for the permanently unmoored.

FOUNDED IN 1986 by local people out of local donations of goods and labor, HH now operates on a $1.1 million budget, with the County of Mendocino chipping in thousands of dollars by making Hospitality House a kind of public/private social services center for the upper Mendocino Coast.

THE ORIGINAL HH was at 237 N. McPherson where the destitute could find 24 cots and daily hots (meals). There's now a second house on N. Harrison. It's called "transitional housing" specifically aimed at the mild end of the mental health spectrum. HH claims to have moved more than 80% of the people in their transition program into permanent housing. And HH, in cooperation with local churches coordinates "Emergency Weather Shelter" on some nights in the bad weather months.

HOSPITALITY HOUSE CENTRAL gets paid to offer all these services, and more and more difficult people are showing up to take advantage of them while downtown merchants and ordinary citizens are bearing the brunt, hence the growing anger at HH and its city-paid expediters. But the diff is that the old city council majority for dubious services for transients was all for whatever scheme HH and its city gofers came up with. The new council is at last asking the right questions.

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Councilman Norvell ran for Council for the same reason others did. He like many others want what is best for Fort Bragg. Councilman Norvell and Will Lee are no nonsense guys. Had this same meeting happened a year ago the Council would have accepted the City Manager’s report as gospel and gone on to the next issue. Painting pretty pictures is fine but if those pictures and flowery reports cover up the truth in order to achieve an outcome that will fit your own agenda, something is terribly wrong. I believe there is now a Council seated that will speak up when they see things like this happening. Why should any of our Council member be afraid to speak the truth?

All the unanswered emails were finally given to the Council just in time for the agenda to come out. By the way all the emails sent to the City Manager pointing out issues were not posted for the agenda, there were others from other people. All the dates are on the emails sent to the PD and Paul Davis of the Hospitality Center starting on October 29, 2016. There was no response to the business owner until much later. Paul Davis stood up and said he had discussed issues and has an ongoing dialog with the business owner. If he did/has it must have been very recently according to the emails dated into February of this year.

I don’t think it’s asking to much of City Staff to be honest in their reports. And I appreciate the fact that our new Mayor isn’t constantly looking to the City Manager for guidance.

Her report should be given and then the issue turned over to the Council. If they need or want more info they can ask her. It seems anytime things are not going the way she wants she chimes in and seems go on forever in an attempt to change minds. This always worked in the past. Past practice has changed with the change in the Council. We now have a Council who will listen, be respectful to speakers, point out when flowery pictures are painted and above all else take the Community’s safety and welfare into consideration when discussing issues.

I don’t think anyone is on a mission. I believe everyone just wants the truth reported and the BS to stop. It seems we are headed in that direction with the new Council and Mayor.

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Deputy Orell Massey, Mendocino County’s first and only black deputy looks back.

(Interviewed by Mark Scaramella)


I was on patrol one night and saw a car going about 80 miles an hour. Per normal procedure, I pulled him over, ran the license. I recognized the name on the ID. It was County Counsel Doug Losak. I smelled a strong odor of marijuana. I asked whether he was smoking marijuana or if he had marijuana. He admitted that he had it in the car and he had been smoking it. I told him I had to take a look for other illegal substances. Since it was the County Counsel, I needed a second person on the scene since I'm prone get complaints for almost anything, especially in a high-profile case like this with a guy who happened to be an attorney. I had my recorder on but I did not want to be alone with him. The supervisor on duty came out to the scene. Mr. Losak mentioned he had a firearm in his vehicle under the seat. I asked him for permission to search the vehicle. He was reluctant. But I explained that I didn't need his permission under the circumstances. There was a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle and the firearm under the seat which I confiscated. I don't think it was loaded but there was a loaded magazine within his reach. He did not appear to be impaired to the extent he could not operate the motor vehicle. So we issued him a citation, submitted a report to the district attorney, and put the weapon in the Sheriff's evidence room. That was about it. I get along well with Mr. Losak.  He later told me he was sorry for putting me in that position. I told him it was part of the job, according to the law. He later said he intended to get a concealed weapons permit. But, it's like a marijuana card: you either have it or you don't. He didn't have it. Either your license is expired or it's valid.  Planning to do something doesn't count.

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DOCTOR FEEL GOOD. I remember stopping a doctor on his way to Lakeport a few years ago. He had lots of marijuana. He did not want to tell me who he was. He said he was in charge of all the nurses and the emergency room at Ukiah Valley Medical Center. He said he had purchased some marijuana and was returning to Lakeport. He did not appear to be under the influence. I gave him a citation and confiscated his marijuana. There was a similar incident involving a doctor from Sacramento with lots of marijuana. They were both driving expensive cars in the very early morning. There were several vehicle violations which caused me to stop those vehicles. In the first one there was a young female with the doctor. I later learned that his wife was on vacation in Europe and he was driving around with a young female in his car. She was under the influence of methamphetamine. So she was also cited. The doctor did not have a valid driver’s license because of a previous cocaine violation. He had a meth pipe in his car and his passenger was under the influence. I took them to jail.  I was later called to a federal court hearing in San Francisco because he had a history of drug problems in several states. His medical license had been revoked in two or three states. They wanted me to testify about the incident to determine if his medical license should be revoked. I don't know what the outcome was. But I never saw him again at the Ukiah hospital.

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THE RUBBER TREE — I do a lot of Lake Mendocino patrol. When I first got here I didn't know what that term meant. [The rubber tree] But it didn't take long. You can be up there and you hear voices and you walk around. And you walk in a certain area out there and you understand — Well, I have come across people in embarrassing situations.

AVA: Illegal activity?

Mostly embarrassing. I usually point out that there are women and children in the area and it would be better if you took your activity to a more secluded place and leave it at that. You catch people in cars doing things all the time they should not be doing.

AVA: So you tap your flashlight on the window…?

Sometimes. Yes. It can be cold up there. One or two in the morning. A single car, fogged up windows, pretty obvious. So you park and you walk over and you listen, sometimes the car is moving…

AVA: Any actual crimes?

Mostly drugs. I came up to a parked car with a young woman who had passed out with a meth pipe in her hand. I knocked on the window, she was startled, tried to hide the pipe. She denied she had it, but I had been looking at it for several minutes. People never fail to amaze you with the excuses they come up with. It’s part of the job. So many unusual things.

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AVA: Why is meth so prevalent in the county?

I think a lot of meth is still manufactured right here in Mendocino County. Absolutely. Methamphetamine is second only to marijuana. You don't see that much cocaine. Meth is certainly transported into the county, but I think the majority is made right here.

AVA: The love drug can be the source of a lot of crime and danger.

Marijuana is at the root of a lot of serious crime in this area. The murder rate is up, home invasion robberies are up. People come here to commit robberies. People get killed during the transactions. Bodies are found in marijuana fields. Gunfights.  Frequently they involve foreign nationals who are under strict orders to guard the marijuana with their life. The drug cartels will tell the guards that if they don't do the job, they or their family will be killed. I've arrested people with maps in their car and burglary equipment and guns. They are on their way to rob somebody and they have a map to the location. It's becoming more common. Criminals from out of the County find out somehow where the marijuana is and they will try to steal the valuable marijuana crop. Marijuana's value has dropped in Mendocino County, but there are still states where people pay top dollar. You can legalize it. But sometimes all that does is shift the problem somewhere else. Instead of being better, it's just different. We will see.

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AVA: Who is more likely to use the N-word to your face? Mexicans or whites?

Whites, probably. But Mexicans are a close second. It's amazing. You can just be talking to someone and things are going okay and then the person starts to get upset and it ALL comes to the surface. Especially when they realize they are going to be arrested and go to jail. That definitely makes it worse. I can walk into the jail on any given day and if I can walk back out of that facility without anyone calling me the N-word, that's a good day. People just start shouting awful things. Some of the jailers try to keep a lid on them but it's sometimes hard to tell where it's coming from in that echo chamber. I can't even recall the last time I went in there and I didn't hear somebody shouting a racist remark. You just have to roll with it. But you don't get over it.

AVA: I assume it's worse in the jail than with the general public.

Yes, but I also hear it a lot when I'm transporting people from the scene of a crime to jail. They can be in the back of the car and go completely off. They tell me I'm not a real policeman. Leave the white women alone. Unbelievable! Even if I'm not the arresting officer. Doesn't matter. If you ask a lot of people who arrested them, they will say they don't remember — but they remember me! I usually note the bad behavior in my report and the judge frequently requires them to write a letter of apology. Some people have actually apologized on their own, saying they didn't really mean it. But once you say it is out there. You can't unring that bell.

It's very strange, how many people seem to actually hate me. They don't know me. But I just have some kind of reputation. Not everyone, of course. But I sure get a disproportionate share. People complain about things that you know are not true. I don't think you can come up with anything I have not been accused of.  I've seen it all, heard it all. At first I did not understand why there were all these frivolous complaints. I thought maybe it had something to do with me. I just didn't want to believe that racism was at the bottom of it. I tried to be extra courteous. I would go back over my recordings and see how I sounded. Seems to me I sound a lot more courteous than a number of other deputies. So why do I get all this negative feedback? They even sent me to a communications school. Okay, if that will help. By that time I knew what the problem was, but no one else seemed to know. I thought it was obvious. None of that stuff worked. Same old frivolous complaints. Every complaint has to be investigated. It's an obligation of the Sheriff's office. It's supposed to be for my own protection and the public's protection so they can say later that it was investigated if it comes up and nothing came of it. Everybody has to cover their rear. But of course since I'm the only black deputy in this very white community, many locals I contact on the job have made it clear they do not want me here so they accuse me of trying to get back at the white guy. I hear that a lot. People get offended just because I pulled them over saying I don't have a right to do it. Sometimes the complaints make it sound worse than it is. One woman wrote a letter to the Ukiah paper saying I “whored” her out of the car or I “drug” her out of the car and made her stand in front of the headlights and she had never been so embarrassed. Nothing like that had happened.

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There was an incident in Potter Valley where a woman said she had been sexually assaulted by some men in a dark colored truck. She didn't have many details. Very little information to go on. We started to wonder what really happened. If you've been a cop for a while you can sort of tell when people are giving accurate information. All she knew was it was a dark vehicle and there was more than one man, maybe three. She said she could recognize them again if she saw them. A volunteer firefighter heard the call on the scanner and came to the scene apparently thinking he could be of assistance. I saw him standing there. I didn't know who he was. The victim suddenly saw this guy and said that he was one of her attackers. She said this in earshot of two other deputies and a sergeant. So I said to this man who I didn't know and had never seen before that the lady over there claimed you were one of the individuals who assaulted her at the bridge earlier that morning; can you explain your whereabouts? That's all I asked. He got all defensive and angry. I told him it was the lady over there who mentioned him and I had to ask these questions. He said I could call his parents, how dare I?, etc. On and on. Okay, okay; no big deal. I later found out that the lady had an outstanding warrant from another county. So she ended up getting arrested on that warrant. To this day I don't think she was telling the truth. We took her to jail and we put out a BOLO on the dark truck which is all we really had to go on at that point.

Next thing I know, someone's at the Sheriff's office wanting to file a complaint against me. Oh boy. Here we go. He wanted to see the Captain. He told the supervising sergeant that I had accused him of all these awful things and he was very embarrassed and I was way out of line. Remember, this all happened in the presence of two other deputies and a sergeant. The sergeant told the captain he was there and nothing was out of line. That seemed to calm the guy down. So after the sergeant said that, the complainer started backing off. He said he was just curious about what had happened, he toned it way down. As we were leaving he wanted to apologize in the sergeant's office. That's when we found out he had applied to be an officer for the CHP. I told him, Let me see if I understand this: you want to be a cop, yet if I ask you a question like I did out there and you get upset about it, how do you expect to maintain your control when you are called everything in the book as a cop? How will you deal with that if you can't even deal with being asked a simple question? He said he didn't really mean it that way. I just walked out. I don't know what his motivation was. But I certainly am singled out a lot. Many times the racism stuff is not blatant name-calling. But I doubt if a white cop had asked him that same question that he would have overreacted the same way. I've been around incidents where officers have been quite abrupt and pointed and yet I am the one who gets the complaints. Some of my fellow deputies don't understand either. I was in the office one day at the computer and the Sheriff walked by and said, Orell, you are the hardest working deputy I've ever seen. And another deputy in the room said, ‘That's because of all the complaints he gets.’ That guy obviously doesn't get it.

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HUFF PROMISES he’s pushing for changes at Lake Mendocino

by Justine Frederiksen

With another storm looming, water was being released Wednesday from Lake Mendocino.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D - San Rafael) said he's working on ways to increase the amount of storage at the reservoir.

The storage pool at Lake Mendocino is full now, but Huffman said more water could be saved, and the water released could be cleaner, if the Coyote Valley dam were raised.

After years of drought, Mendocino County is finally getting its fair share (and then some) of rainfall this winter.

And since so much water is falling from the sky, many in the Ukiah Valley are wondering when, if ever, more of it might be stored in Lake Mendocino?

The reservoir is owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency, and for most of the past few years that agency has been in charge of the water releases, given that the water level was so low. But now that the water level is above the storage pool and into the “flood control pool,” the US Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the Coyote Valley Dam, decides when and how much water will be released.

Typically, the Corps deems the water supply pool full at 68,400 acre-feet (each acre foot is just shy of 386,000 gallons), but in December, the SCWA requested that it allow 74,225 acre-feet be stored.

During a recent visit to Ukiah, Rep. Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael), said he appreciated that the Corps has granted requests for more storage the last couple of years, but said he hopes to permanently update the science the Corps relies on to determine water releases, which currently is a Water Control Manual created in 1959.

“Instead of looking down at a binder of backward-looking hydrology, we want them to look up, at the satellites we have that can tell us when the atmospheric rivers are coming our way,” said Huffman, who has introduced and recently updated HR5595, the Reservoir Operations Improvement Act, addressing the crowd gathered at a recent Town Hall meeting in Ukiah with state Assemblyman Jim Wood.

If the bill, which has yet to pass the House of Representatives, becomes law, Huffman said it will require the Corps to incorporate updated forecasting science “into their ongoing decisions, rather than on a temporary, storm-to-storm basis.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re making some headway,” Huffman continued. “We’ve definitely gotten this issue onto the radar, and I think it’s just a manner of time before we get the operations of dams like Lake Mendocino modernized so we don’t waste water.”

Data relevant to the operations of Lake Mendocino was collected in Ukiah last March for a scientific study called Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations, or FIRO, which came largely out of a partnership between the Scripps Research Institute and the SCWA.

The group hopes that the forecasting model they are creating can eventually be used by the Corps, and Lake Mendocino was chosen as the pilot project for the forecasting model they are perfecting at an Atmospheric River Observatory in Bodega Bay.

Jay Jasperse, chief engineer and director of groundwater management for the SCWA, said at the time that the group is focusing on atmospheric rivers because they are the events that fill reservoirs. If you get them, Jasperse said, you’re likely to get flooding, and the flooding such events can create has definitely been apparent so far this winter.

Another lingering question related to Lake Mendocino that Huffman addressed at the meeting last month was the possibility of raising the dam to allow more water to be stored at the facility.

“Just know that it is a huge priority, but that it has been a hard project to pencil out in the past,” Huffman said, explaining that if the Corps continues to view the facility’s main purpose as protecting the surrounding area from floods rather than as a water-storage facility, it will be difficult to convince it to spend the money needed to raise the dam.

“Ordinarily, when the Corps looks at surface storage projects, it can only consider the economic benefit of flood protection, but we want them to consider what a vital water resources project Lake Mendocino is,” said Huffman, adding that “in the last cost-benefit analysis (of raising the dam) we were able to get them to incorporate some of those (water storage) benefits, and hopefully that makes raising this dam look good economically.”

Because not only do “agricultural communities up and down the Russian River” depend on the water released from Lake Mendocino, but Huffman said the quality of that water is crucial to the wildlife dependent on the river.

“Because of the way the release valve has been constructed, we get muddy water released from Lake Mendocino,” said Huffman. “We think if we raise the dam, we can also put in a new release valve” that will lead to clearer water being released.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Blackbird Farm’s owners are as untrustworthy as ever.

Simply put, the organization is stealing public money.

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On Feb 14, 2017 (Valentine’s Day) at approximately 11:00 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to investigate an incident of domestic violence that occurred at a residence in 23000 block of Dehaven Creek Road in Westport, California.  Deputies contacted a 40 year old adult female at a location called “Blues Beach” near Westport.


Deputies learned she and Christopher Korhummel, 32, of Westport, had been in a dating relationship. Both individuals were in the bedroom of Korhummel's residence when they became involved in a verbal argument. The argument escalated into a physical altercation with Korhummel choking the adult female to where she nearly lost consciousness. The adult female sustained minor visible injuries as a result of the assault. Korhummel was located at his residence and arrested for the listed charge. Korhummel was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I read an article today called '36 Smartest Dogs.' I'm as smart as the next mutt, but us mixed breeds weren't even considered! Anyway, so long as I'm smarter than the You Know Who's next door, I'm happy.”

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RE: JOB OPENING AT THE COMMUNITY CENTER Cecilia Townsend wrote: $12 an hour to be responsible for children. $30 an hour to prune a fruit tree. What’s wrong with this picture?

Marco McClean replied: How much to prune the children?

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Mendocino County Road Status, Feb 15, 2017 (Caltrans)

Route 1 (40.3) - Log jam removal at the Navarro River Bridge will continue.  Intermittent full road closures will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 30-minute delays. LC#C1WA

Route 1 (59.1) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility repairs near Ocean Drive on Tuesday, February 21.  One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#P1AA

Route 1 (104.4) - Emergency slide removal near Leggett will continue. A full road closure is in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should seek an alternate route. LC#C1VA

Route 20 (0.6/7.0) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for tree trimming from Old Willits Road to 1.2 miles east of Road 350.  One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.  Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#P20AA

Route 101 (4.5/5.0) - Routine maintenance near Frog Woman Rock will continue. Northbound traffic will be restricted to one lane 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should anticipate minor traffic slowdowns. LC#M101GA

Route 101 (11.7) - Caltrans will perform routine maintenance near Hewlitt and Sturtevant Road on Monday and Tuesday, February 21 and 22. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays. LC#S101GA

Route 101 (42.3) - Emergency slide repairs on the westbound Route 20 to southbound Route 101 connector ramp will continue. Intermittent ramp closures will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays. LC#C101CD

Route 101 (103.8/105.4) - Emergency slide removal near Piercy will continue. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Motorists should anticipate minor traffic slowdowns. LC#C101AD

Caltrans wishes to advise motorists to drive with caution when approaching work areas and to be prepared to stop at traffic control stations.

The Caltrans Traffic Operations Office has reviewed each project and determined that individual project delays are expected to be less than the statewide policy maximum of 30 minutes, unless noted otherwise above.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 16, 2017

Barry, Dalkin, Doak

WILLIAM BARRY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent Flyer)

JOHN DALKIN, Eureka/Ukiah. Parole violation.


Frazier, Hoffman, Lanzit

CHAYNI FRAZIER, Covelo. Harboring/aiding a person wanted for a felony.

JESSICA HOFFMAN, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

NICHOLAS LANZIT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Lopez, Neeley, Rodriguez, Whipple

JOSE LOPEZ IV, DUI, suspended license, resisting.

GREGORY NEELY, Willits. Domestic battery.

LOLETA RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. DUI-drugs.

ITURI SHIVALIA, Willits. Battery of peace officer. (Booking photo not available.)

LEONARD WHIPPLE, Covelo. Community supervision violation.

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Around 60 people attended last night's Coast Democratic Club meeting (see top item below) which voted unanimously to urge selection of progressive, Bernie-supporter, Keith Ellison to be the next DNC chair, who will be chosen next week by 440 top Dems. We will soon see who will direct the Party and it's future direction, re the first article below that includes, I see it as a battle right now between one camp that recognizes that there are big, systemic problems in the American economy and in our democracy and wants to put forth a vision for fixing it, vs. a camp that believes the Democratic Party (and America) is basically okay and all the Democrats need to do is fix their messaging problem. Stay tuned...

Tom Wodetski, Albion

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VEGETABLE GARDENING CLASS - GETTING STARTED WITH SEEDS Getting Started with Seeds SAT, February 25 10:00am to 3:30pm (Lecture 10:00am-1:00pm; hands-on 1:30pm-3:30pm)

Each year as the days grow longer the garden offers opportunity for renewal. We start fresh with new seeds and all of the observations from years past to help guide us to success. In this class, we will discuss planning strategies for a successful home vegetable garden, and how to propagate and care for vegetable seedlings.  This is the first class in a four part learning series offering hands-on, brains-on training with MCBG Lead Gardener Jaime Jensen. These classes will teach you the essential skills to develop a strong vegetable garden for years to come. Course workshops will demonstrate starting with seeds, composting, creating a thriving ecosystem in your own back yard, and fall vegetable gardening. Each class will have a reading and lecture component as well as hands-on training - be prepared to get dirty! Classes cost $35 each (non-refundable). For more details visit or call 707-964-4352 ext 16 to sign up!

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Poetry Reading by Jonah Raskin
New Poems for the Trump Era

This is a benefit event for the North Bay Organizing Project. Light refreshments will be served. Cash Bar. Included is a personal copy of No Walls Now signed by Jonah.

Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 PM

Swain Woods Salon
7403 Palm Avenue
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Invitation & RSVP

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Order From Chaos

On 2/16/2017 1:40 PM, Harvey Chess wrote:

Is there anyone on the coast who is adept at taking a pile of strewn email addresses and building them into an email list for my use to market my book on pursuing resources for nonprofits? Thanks for any notions. H.

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Marco McClean replies: I do that sort of thing all the time, and it's easy for you to do it yourself.


  1. Type (or cut-and-paste) the email addresses into a text-only file, never pressing Enter (it should be all one continous line of addresses separated by a comma and a space (I use Notepad, that comes with all versions of Windows). Compose an email, paste the comma-separated addresses into the To: field all at once and choose bcc: (blind copies; no-one sees the addresses but you) and save the composition as an email template (Save As, Template). Then whenever you need to send an email to everyone on the list, open that template, type your subject line and message and press send. Edit the template's bcc: list as needed. My radio show newsletter list has plateaued at just under 200 people. Once in a while (once every three or four months) something goes wonky in sending or posting the newsletter and MCN's robot decides I've sent too much email that day and I either wait till midnight, when it resets automatically, and go again, or move over and send it with gmail. (I normally use Thunderbird and MCN.)
  2. Sign up for a free WordPress web page, choose an attractive, appropriate template, fill in the information about your book or project, add photographs and background images or not. WordPress provides help every step of the way. --

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(A fan’s note) Because I still have friends from back East who think only NY--specifically NYT and New Yorker--and DC's WP have a lock on good newspaper writing I am sending with my thoughts two or three articles from the AVA and asking why they are not every bit the equal of the above.  Especially David Yearlsley's "Super Bowl Hits & Histrionics," Steve Heilig's "Vaccines & Trumpism,"  and Flynn Washburn's "Partners in Crime."

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” — Albert Einstein

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by Ralph Nader

The current troubling news reports from China are describing a major Avian Flu epidemic among huge flocks of chickens. Such epidemics have been worrisome to public health specialists because they could be the precursor of transmission to humans and a possible global pandemic. Since President Trump is developing his policy against “terrorism,” I’m reproducing below a fictional letter from E.coli 0104:H4 to his predecessor that highlights the big leagues of terrorism against innocents by deadly bacteria and viruses. I re-submit this letter to President Trump.

Dear President Trump:

My name is E.coli 0104:H4. I am being detained in a German Laboratory in Bavaria, charged with being “a highly virulent strain of bacteria.” Together with many others like me, the police have accused us of causing about 20 deaths and nearly five hundred cases of kidney failure–so far. Massive publicity and panic all around.

You can’t see me, but your scientists can. They are examining me and I know my days are numbered. I hear them calling me a “biological terrorist,” an unusual combination of two different E.coli bacteria cells. One even referred to me as a “conspiracy of mutants.”

It is not my fault, I want you to know. I cannot help but harm innocent humans, and I am very sad about this. I want to redeem myself, so I am sending this life-saving message straight from my petri dish to you.

This outbreak in Germany has been traced to food–location unknown. What is known to you is that invisible terrorism from bacterium and viruses take massively greater lives than the terrorism you are spending billions of dollars and armaments to stop in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Malaria, caused by infection with one of four species of Plasmodium, a parasite transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes destroys a million lives a year. Many of the victims are children and pregnant women. Mycobacterium tuberculosis takes over one million lives each year. The human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) causes over a million deaths each year as well. Many other microorganisms in the water, soil, air, and food are daily weapons of mass destruction. Very little in your defense budget goes for operational armed forces against this kind of violence. Your agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conduct some research but again nothing compared to the research for your missiles, drones, aircraft, and satellites.

Your associates are obsessed with possible bacteriological warfare by your human enemies. Yet you are hardly doing anything on the ongoing silent violence of my indiscriminate brethren.

You and your predecessor Barack Obama made many speeches about fighting terrorism by humans. Have you made a major speech about us?

You speak regularly about crushing the resistance of your enemies. But you splash around so many antibiotics (obviously I don’t like this word and consider it genocidal) in cows, bulls, chickens, pigs, and fish that your species is creating massive antibiotic resistance, provoking our mutations, so that we can breed even stronger progeny. You are regarded as the smartest beings on Earth, yet you seem to have too many neurons backfiring.

In the past two days of detention, scientists have subjected me to “enhanced interrogation,” as if I have any will to give up my secrets. It doesn’t work. What they will find out will be from their insights about me under their microscopes. I am lethal, I guess, but I’m not very complicated.

The United States, together with other countries, needs more laboratories where scientists can detain samples of us and subject us to extraordinary rendition to infectious disease research centers. Many infectious disease scientists need to be trained, especially in the southern hemisphere, to staff these labs.

You are hung up on certain kinds of preventable violence without any risk/benefit analysis. This, you should agree, is utterly irrational. You should not care where the preventable violence comes from except to focus on its range of devastation and its susceptibility to prevention or cure!

Well, here they come to my petri dish for some more waterboarding. One last item: You may wonder how tiny bacterial me, probably not even harboring a virus, can send you such a letter. My oozing sense is that I’m just a carrier, being used by oodles of scientists taking advantage of a high-profile infectious outbreak in Europe to catch your attention.

Whatever the how—does it really matter to the need to act Now?

E-cologically yours,

E.coli 0104:H4 (for the time being)

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and the author of “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”)

* * *


by Dan Bacher

As soon as I heard on election night that Donald Trump was going to be the next President, I predicted on Twitter, Facebook and in conversations with friends that Governor Jerry Brown, in spite of his “green” image, would try to make a deal with Trump to build his legacy project, the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels, and expand fracking and other oil drilling in California.

Sure enough, Jerry Brown has been working hard since the election to pressure Trump to support the Delta Tunnels, going so far as to praise Trump’s infrastructure plans in his state of the state. Departing from his prepared remarks, Brown remarked, “I say, ‘Amen to that, Brother!’” in reference to Trump’s focus on new infrastructure. (

Then this week, we discovered that the administration of Brown’s so-called “Brother,” Donald Trump, has granted requests from Brown’s regulators to exempt three aquifers near the Fruitvale, Round Mountain and Tejon oilfields in California’s Kern County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

According to Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, approval of these “aquifer exemption” applications by Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “gives oil companies permission to dump contaminated waste fluid into these underground water supplies.”

“Gov. Brown’s legacy will be deeply tarnished by this deplorable decision to let the most anti-environmental administration in history decide the future of California aquifers,” said Siegel. “Trump’s EPA is clearly eager to help state oil regulators give California’s water away to the petroleum industry. In the dry decades to come, we’re going to bitterly regret the governor’s willingness to sacrifice this water to oil companies.”  

The oil companies, led by the most powerful corporate lobbying group in the state, the Western State Petroleum Association (WSPA), drafted the regulations and the California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources submitted them to the EPA.

“California officials plan to submit dozens of additional exemption applications for other aquifers across the state, including underground water sources in Alameda, Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties,” said Siegel. (see interactive map:

“If the EPA approves the state’s applications, oil companies would be allowed to operate injection wells and dump waste fluid into these underground sources of drinking water. Oil waste fluid commonly contains cancer-causing benzene and other pollutants,” she explained.

“The aquifer exemption process also shrugs off the risk that oil industry injections could trigger manmade earthquakes. Scientists recently linked oilfield injections in the Tejon area to an earthquake swarm. Even minor tremors could endanger other nearby water supplies by opening up pathways to contamination,” Siegel said.

Brown administration fails to meet deadline for shutting down illegal oil injection wells

Then on February 15, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), the same agency that submitted the aquifer exemptions to the Trump administration, failed to meet their own deadline for shutting down 1,650 oil industry injection wells that are violating water-protection laws by dumping toxic fluid into protected California aquifers.

“Governor Brown’s administration has decided not to protect our water from illegal contamination by the oil industry,” said Hollin Kretzmann, also from the Center for Biological Diversity. “By failing to meet their own lax deadline for shutting down these polluting wells, state oil regulators have given Californians another reason not to trust a word they say.”

According to a promise that DOGGR made two years ago, all illegal oil-industry injection activities were supposed to be halted by Feb. 15, 2017. Kretzmann said the state could be imposing fines of up to $25,000 a day for every well that continues to operate in a protected aquifer.

“But as of today, the state has shut just a portion of wells operating in aquifers that should be protected by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. State officials quietly announced the indefinite delay in enforcing the law in mid-January,” said Kretzmann.

In March of 2015, state officials testifying before the California Senate pledged to adhere to the February deadline and other aspects of a schedule approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

John Laird, the California Secretary of Natural Resources and one of the key cheerleaders of the Delta Tunnels and other controversial Brown administration environmental policies, told senators that the Brown administration was “fully committed to meeting these deadlines.”

Kretzmann said the promises came in the wake of admissions by the Brown administration that state regulators had let oil companies operate thousands of injection wells that have been dumping wastewater into “scores of protected underground water supplies in Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties.”

“But instead of halting most of the illegal injections, state officials have moved forward with plans to exempt as many as 40 of these aquifers from water-protection laws. If these ‘aquifer exemption’ applications are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the oil industry would be allowed to make permanent use of these water supplies for the disposal of contaminated waste fluid,” he said.

“The Brown administration will go down in history for this failure to enforce the law and safeguard our water from oil industry pollution,” Kretzmann concluded. “It’s a shocking abdication of the governor’s most fundamental duty to the people and environment of this state.”

Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus

Why is the Brown administration siding with the oil industry and teaming up with President Donald Trump to fail to enforce the law and safeguard our water from oil industry contamination?

Well, 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.

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, as usual.

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.

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.

To read the complete report, go to:…

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.

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.

The Brown administration, in spite of numerous complaints of conflicts of interest, tainted “science,” and violations of tribal gathering rights made by grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders, recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, “completed” the network of so-called “marine protected areas” in California in December 2012. These “marine protected areas,” created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist and other corporate operatives, fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

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.

Public interest groups issue report card challenging Brown’s green record

The abdication by Jerry Brown of his duty to safeguard California’s water supplies from oil industry pollution occurs in the larger context of his questionable record on many key environmental issues.  Brown and administration officials, now under scrutiny by local, state, national and international media for their handling of the Oroville Dam crisis, have continually portrayed their environmental policies as “green.”

However, twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, challenged Governor Brown’s “green” credentials at a press conference in Santa Monica on February 4.

The groups unveiled a comprehensive report card on theBrown 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 groups 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.

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.

“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.”

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




  1. John Sakowicz February 17, 2017

    The Delta Tunnels project is insanely big — it’s as big or bigger than the English Channel Tunnel and Boston’s Big Dig.

    And it’s insanely expensive — $15-20 billion.

    And the financing for the project is insanely deceptive. I’ll explain.

    The State of California was planning to fund the project using bonds issued by the water agencies, not the state, which, if successful, would not have required approval by the state legislature or a public vote.

    An annual payment plan was required to sell revenue bonds at reasonable rates…but!

    Herein lies the “but”…but several of the agencies who would have been required to pay for the construction project had stated they could’t justify the costs if had been a chance they would have ended up with less water.

    Fortunately, everything is on hold for now. After the Westlands Water District — one of the six water district backing the Delta Tunnels project — was fined for its questionable spending and accounting practices, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in August 2016 requested an audit of the Delta Tunnels project by the California State Auditor. The audit will be started in April 2017 and take about seven months to complete.

    The powerful Westlands Water District is the largest member of San Luis Authority. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a Westlands contractor and one of the largest players in California water politics, serving 19 million urban residents. It is one of the tunnels’ strongest supports.

    In March, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) assessed a rare fine on Westlands in a settlement for misleading bond investors about the impact that the drought and water cuts had on its revenues. Their action raised concern about their ability to finance the Delta Tunnels project.

    Thank God that SEC Commissioner, Mary Jo White, was paying attention.

    We’ll miss Ms. White. She resigned rather than kowtow to Trump.

  2. Betsy Cawn February 17, 2017

    “RE THE AVA” — don’t forget the inimitable Will Parrish, relentless Dan Bacher, and exquisite Louis Bedrock! Plus the earnest and dedicated citizen reporters keeping it real on the Left Coast — long live the AVA!

  3. Rick Weddle February 17, 2017

    re: The Democrats’ messaging problems…
    Messaging problems. Right. The GOP in all their ‘winning’ finery are this moment having similar difficulties. You’ll notice after about 15 seconds of casual observation that both of the famous ‘Two Parties’ we look to, spend dunes of our dollars on shooting off their MOUTHS in the pursuit of ‘messaging,’ (with consistent, infamously poor results) and right next to Zero on using their EARS for any purpose whatever other than collecting dust. Poor hygeine. Bad politics. Bad timing. Worse performances, all of ya there, perpe-traitors, and inert bystanders alike.

    • Harvey Reading February 17, 2017

      The democraps have more than a messaging problem. Their problem is that, as a party, they’re finished. The con-artist-in-chief for the last 8 years saw to that. Running that Clinton woman over the objections of their base ensured their final demise. Too many promises unfulfilled, meaning they were lies from the start. I give the ‘thugs about 6 months to a year before they, too, are flushed down the toilet.

      • Lazarus February 17, 2017

        I don’t know if their finished or not but, if Trump can deliver anything that helps the great unwashed out there he’s got 4 more for sure. The Dems for two terms have over promised and under delivered. Generational poverty throughout the Midwest has moved people to anyone who gives them a shot.
        Hillary Clinton was no help, she was the worst possible choice the brass could have made. They got what they deserved, a historical/hysterical loss across the board. Maybe in 2024 after the liars and thieves die off…
        As always,

        • George Hollister February 17, 2017

          Hillary was not the worst. At least she could be bought by anyone who had enough money. Of course anyone who reads this paper, by definition, did/does not have enough money. So the explanation for the prejudice evident in this paper.

  4. Bill Pilgrim February 17, 2017

    RE: Brown’s EPA request. Yet another example of why mainstream Democrats are increasingly loathed and rejected.
    They talk the talk but rarely walk the walk.
    They shout pseudo-populist soliloquies publicly, then privately and cravenly genuflect at the altar of corporate patronage.
    Most condemning is their apparent inability to recognize that the people are fed up with this two-faced sham of representation.

  5. Kathy February 17, 2017

    Any opinions on the new BOS Retirement board appointments?

    • Mark Scaramella February 17, 2017

      The only “new” member of the retirement board we are aware of is Patrick Sullivan, a fairly young man who is listed on the County employment rolls as a “revenue recovery specialist” who works for Treasurer-Tax Collector Schari Schapmire who is also on the retirement board. So we have no opinion of the youthful Mr. Sullivan personally, but we do not like the arrangement that he 1. works in the Treasurer’s office, and 2. that he is on the same board as his boss which would tend to compromise his independence, especially considering his relative youth. If there are other members of the Board whom you think are “new,” let us know. Let’s just say that the Retirement Board overall is the usual mixed bag of official Mendolanders. The only person on the Board who is genuinely independent is Mr. Ted Stevens, a serious fellow with real big-time finance credentials, but who is prone to the Dickersonian view of the pension system which believes that pensions of any kind are a wasteful government perk without focusing on the senior officials who abuse the system for their own benefit. Most low-end pensioners really do deserve their modest pensions, whereas the pensions-are-a-wasteful-drain-on-government people like Dickerson demand that pensions be funded at rates that would bankrupt the County and lead to the end of pensions themselves. You can certainly argue that putting all the pension money in Wall Street is a bad idea, which we do, but nobody in or near the pension system at present would dare consider safer local investments.

  6. BB Grace February 17, 2017

    Trump isn’t going to do anything for CA without a request from Brown. Brown is closer friend to Jingping than Trump.

    Appears numerous fish hatcheries and ladders were wiped out by Oroville Dam shenanigans.

    Houses for sale cheap in Oroville!!!

    Oroville Dam experienced a 2.1 shallow earthquake at Dunstone Rock Quarry 2 miles West of the dam when the hole in the spillway was discovered. There have been more shallow Earthquakes showing the quarry is being used.

    Dunstone Rock Quarry is listed to a deceased Mr. Robert Hammett 2012. He was 65.

    The property, Hammett Ranch, was listed for sale in 2012 and went into foreclosure in 2014. It is listed for 1/10 the original asking price, below $7M, but not active listing.

    The CA SOS shows no active business named Dunstone Rock Quarry in Oroville. Online web yellow and white pages list the business as active, owned by a bank.

    From a satellite perspective, it appears what was a quarry was never intended to be a quarry but rather a key stone for the dam’s earthen structure.

    The dam’s failure began when a log jam stopped the turbines and was reported by the power company which started immediate dismantle from the grid.

    The CDW&P began releasing water from the annex spillway in massive amounts despite the discovery of the hole eroding 1/3 the earthen portion South of the dam. The State told residents they could return. The federal engineers (who pays attention to them?) said they wouldn’t return.

    2010 tax payers agreed to be taxed to sustain the Williamson Act, which applies to the Hammett Ranch that didn’t begin mining operations until that time.

    How come on Feb 08 the day that the Oroville spillway suffered a failure, just a couple of miles away Dunstone Rock Quarry conducted a blast registering 2.1m with the USGS?

    Recall Brown. about 1K signatures needed.

    Peak oil was fake news.

  7. BB Grace February 17, 2017

    I hope Mr. Updegraff is ok as I’m reading there’s much anxiety going around over the Senate approval of Scott Pruitt for the EPA being Pruitt isn’t on the climate change bandwagon.

    It would be good to see deep pit back on the menu in CA and I hope Pruitt is the man to help CA get her cuisine back. People think Mexican is Californian food but truth is Pacific Islanders, Basque, Italians and Asia had a bigger influence before Hollywood and drive thru fast food destroyed real California Cuisine. Now we may have an opportunity to do better than In and Out Burger.

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