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ROADS & RIVER UPDATE, Tuesday, Feb. 21
Caltrans has just opened State Route 128.
And to clarify the following roads are still closed:
- State Route 1 at the Garcia River due to flooding and south of Leggett due to landslides.
- State Route 175 at Hopland due to flooding.
- Orr Springs Rd at MM 39.20 (just east of the Wonder Ranch).
- Peachland Road in Anderson Valley at mile-post 0.95
The following roads are open but under one-way traffic control:
- State Route 101 6 miles north of Laytonville.
- Mountain View Road
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Quick update on roads:
- State Route 101 north of Laytonville is now open to one-way traffic control per Caltrans. Delays should be expected.
- Mountain View Road is open one lane.
- Peachland Road in Anderson Valley is closed at mile-post 0.95. Per County DOT there is no estimated time of reopening.
- State Routes 1, 128, and 175 still remain closed due to flooding.
Also to clarify, State Route 1 South of Leggett still remains closed until further notice. Caltrans does not have an estimate time of reopening at this time and additional landslide debris may have fallen last night.
PS. Here are some additional road closures in Mendocino County:
- Per Ukiah CHP Orr Springs Rd is closed at MM 39.20 (just east of the Wonder Ranch).
- Caltrans is reporting that State Route 101 is closed in all directions 6 miles North of Laytonville due to a slide.
* * *
As of Monday morning the following roads were reported closed to OES:
- State Route 1 at the Garcia River
- State Route 128 at Navarro
- State Route 175 at Hopland
- Mountain View Road between Boonville and Point Arena is closed due to a slide at mile-post 18.5
There was some minor localized flooding Sunday night in Talmage in the Talmage Road/Talmage Court area, but roads are open this morning.
Thank you and please let OES know if there are any issues or concerns.
Emergency Services Coordinator
Office of Emergency Services
County of Mendocino
KELISHA ALVAREZ came to court today, under double guard, and dressed in the day-glow chartreuse coveralls that the jail uses for violent, unpredictable inmates. Her lawyer, Patricia Littlefield of the Alternate Public Defender’s Office was on hand and Deputy DA Elizabeth Norman said the charges of first degree robbery were being amended to second degree robbery. Her bail was set at $100,000 and the judge signed a stay-away order naming one Alisha Tuttle, with whom Kelisha is to have no contact. A preliminary hearing for the robbery was set for two weeks ahead and Ms. Alvarez was also being held on other charges, namely that she violated the terms of her probation by returning to Ukiah from Oklahoma. The bail in that case was set at No Bail. (Bruce McEwen)
* * *
JOSEPHA BASURTO, of Covelo, was sentenced to a term of probation and 180 days in jail for attacking a game warden, Lieutenant White, with a fire extinguisher. Her lawyer, Patricia Littlefield argued for probation and a reduction in the jail time, saying that Ms. Basurto’s drug use was a mitigating factor in the crime. The 180 days means she’ll get out in about a month before her baby is due.
Deputy DA Scott McMenomey said, “In my view this is a prison case. Virtually every rule does not favor putting her on probation. The aggravating factors greatly outweigh the mitigating. Just before this incident she’d pled to a 10851 [car theft] and here we are. She’s a public safety danger, and I just can’t go along with a grant of probation in a case that cries out for the mid-term of three years in prison. I’ll submit it on that.”
Ms. Littlefield said, “Well, she’s never been on probation before.”
Judge Moorman said, “She was supposed to be, but she didn’t show up!”
Littlefield said, “Yes, but she might respond well to it and her goal of moving to Utah where there’s a little more structure will be helpful.”
McMenomey countered, “Actions speak louder than words. She’s had plenty of opportunities to go to Utah and benefit from the structure – if she really wanted to.”
Moorman concluded, “I’m really surprised by this report. Have you read it, Ms. Basurto?”
Moorman: “What would you say to the warden if he were here today?”
Basurto: “I’m sorry.”
Moorman: “You know, if it weren’t for your age I’d give you the three years – but that doesn’t mean I’m cutting you loose, not at all. The first time you screw up it’s coming down [the suspended three year sentence]. Do you understand?”
Moorman: “So, over the objection of the prosecutor and with some reluctance I’m suspending the prison term. Is the warden here?”
McMenomey: “No, your honor.”
Moorman: “Okay, as soon as you are released from custody you are to report to probation. Oh, yes, and Term 10 of the conditions of probation will be changed to read No Marijuana. You are pregnant. You shouldn’t be using marijuana. Restitution will be reserved for the warden. And you are ordered to acquire your high school diploma or a G.E.D. You have 60 days to appeal.” (Bruce McEwen)
NBA BASKETBALL is closing in on pro wrestling. We're way past the days when the game was the thing. The All-Star game the other day was run at less than half-speed with a lot of Globe Trotter-like stunts, as the best athletes in the world managed to be boring.
I know — we all know — there has been major cultural slippage, that the under-60's have had their brains re-wired to where they are undisturbed by the frenetic din of sound and motion of half-naked hoochie-koochie girls, idiot tunes at full blast, a sea of debauched faces looking on — but I miss the game when there was only the game.
BASEBALL fans are more sensible, but just barely. Giants fans drove out Crazy Crab, throwing stuff at him and otherwise abusing the thoroughly unamusing cartoon construct. The Giants had to make a fiberglas reinforced suit to protect the guy inside from flying objects and drunken punches. They abandoned the infantile project because (1) people hated the thing and physically attacked it every game, and (2) the guy inside was getting hurt.
THAT was at Candlestick where baseball fans tended heavily to booze and anarchy, as anybody who watched a game from the left field bleachers can tell you.
BUT WHEN the Giants moved to 3rd and Townsend and a new ballpark, they introduced a new cutesy-wootsy figure, Lou Seal, along with a very strict code of fan conduct, right down to No Swearing, a good thing in my opinion because fan behavior was so bad at Candlestick — often menacing, in fact, you didn't want to bring the wife and kids to the x-rated affairs. At the new park, Lou Seal seems popular, although you'll hear a heartening boo out of a sensible fan occasionally.
STILL AND ALL, I like my ball games straight. No choreographed pole dancing, no jumbo-thron or whatever they call the gargantuan scoreboards, no music at all, and no kiss cameras for god's sake.
OVER THE HILL Tuesday morning to Ukiah to get my truck smogged, a biannual ripoff, I learned from the accommodating young man at the DFM Garage. You don't need to smog vehicles registered in the clean air-ed northern counties like this one. (DFM is opposite the Ukiah Theater and highly recommended for fast, competent car work at reasonable prices.) On freshly rotated tires I drove to the seldom visited Ukiah Visitor's Center, the tomb-like catacombs on School Street, to use the men's facilities, striding past the always vacant offices of our hard-hitting elected reps, Assemblyman Wood and State Senator McGuire. who are out when they're in, in when they're out. And then on to my first ever In 'N Out Burger on North State. The kid at the register — one of four raking in the cash — greeted me with, "I see you've got your Hemingway look going today." Literary greetings being as rare in Ukiah as literary discussions, I replied that the only resemblance was a shared partiality for strong drink. The kid took my order as he simultaneously recited some of the major facts of Hemingway's life. He was called away to the bustling hamburger assembly line just as I started to quiz him on his life outside fast food, but In 'N Out is all business. I said a silent prayer for the lad, that he would somehow escape the psychic desolation of Ukiah where he'd find people he could talk to about Hemingway. The burger was quite good, but the fries, which the place boasts as "fresh cut on the premises," tasted exactly like the fast food fries at every other neg food value place, that kinda thawed-out frozen taste.
THE UKIAH ROAD is a mess. Slides all the way to Ukiah, and many more, some of them right at the edge of the pavement, poised to slip. The road needs major rehab, but with disasters like major dams about to crack, we're not even at the bottom of the priority list here in Mendocino County.
NO WALLS NOW – POETRY READING BY JONAH RASKIN
"Thanks for planning to come to Jonah’s reading from his new collection, No Walls Now: New Poems for The Trump Era. This is a benefit event for the the North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP). If you haven’t yet, you can get tickets for this event, and more details, at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-walls-now-new-poems-for-the-trump-era-a-reading-by-jonah-raskin-a-benefit-for-the-north-bay-tickets-31985171509 The North Bay Organizing Project is a local power organization. In collaboration with working people, congregations, environmentalists, neighborhood organizations, young Latino professionals, youth who are eager to lead, but lack venues, progressive organizations, immigrant rights organizations and unions — NBOP seeks effective ways to address the divide. They know that no matter how hard poor people work without organizing for structural change the conditions that keep them poor will continue. Please share the link with friends.
Cheers, Jonah & Zeno"
WHITMAN'S LOST NOVEL The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle Found https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/21/walt-whitmans-lost-novel-the-life-and-adventures-of-jack-engle-found
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “We lost power last night. First time for Boonville this winter. I had to watch tv in the dark!”
LAWYERS WINNING BIG
To the Editor:
Ruminating over the recent report that the Sanitation District has to date paid its attorney over $3 million in connection with the lawsuit against the city of Ukiah, I calculate that at an attorney’s pay of say $400/hour, that amount of money would cover 187 weeks, full time work, 40 hours per week. Is there really that much work involved in this case? And apparently the work is not progressed far enough for a meeting with the city for mediation for yet another several months? Geese laying golden eggs come to mind. It strikes me that a grand jury investigation of the issues — and perhaps of the sanitation district in general — would be much less costly to the ratepayers and taxpayers and possibly even lead to a faster resolution.
Stephanie T. Hoppe, Ukiah
UKIAH’S NEW POT STORE ORDINANCE
by Justine Frederiksen
Despite a last-ditch effort by a local doctor to delay the process, the Ukiah City Council officially adopted an ordinance last week that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city limits.
“This is the final adoption and it will go into effect March 20, provided no one challenges the ordinance,” Kevin Thompsen, the city’s interim Planning Director, told the City Council at its Feb. 15 meeting.
When Mayor Jim Brown asked for public comment, local physician Robert Werra presented a petition he circulated that called for a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
“It is signed by more than 40 physicians, the vast majority of practicing physicians in Ukiah,” said Werra, adding that he felt it wasn’t necessary to offer dispensaries within the city limits because there are some already operating outside of the city. “People who truly need (medical marijuana) have managed to get it for the last 20 years. It’s unfortunate this ordinance has advanced so rapidly.”
Council member Maureen Mulheren said she explored the idea of allowing dispensaries within the city again with fellow ad-hoc committee member Brown for “over a year and a half,” and that the Ukiah Planning Commission held at least two public hearings on the ordinance before it reached the City Council, which has held even more public hearings.
Since there are dispensaries operating just outside of the city limits, Mulheren asked Werra why he was opposed to having them inside the city’s boundaries.
“We don’t need a mess of them within our city limits,” said Werra, adding that he thought many of those who buy medical marijuana are not using it for “true medical problems. And the ones that really need it, they can get it outside of our city limits.”
Another resident said she was concerned that passing the ordinance would prove to be a mistake that the city could not reverse.
Council member Steve Scalmanini said he wasn’t “necessarily opposed” to delaying a vote on the ordinance, but he wanted to know how the ad-hoc committee members Brown and Mulheren felt about the matter.
“I truly want this thing to go through today,” said Brown. “Holding this up any further would not benefit anyone, and we need to move on to the issue of adult use of recreation marijuana, which will be a much more tedious process.”
“We have spent a considerable amount of time focusing on medicinal marijuana – to me, this is not jumping the gun,” said Mulheren, adding that she felt the city’s ordinance would in no way open the floodgates for dispensaries. “There are quite a few hoops and very strict rules, and some operators have said, ‘Why would I even bother trying to open in the city? I’ll just stay in the county.’”
Council member Doug Crane asked what the City Council could do if, “in a year or two, this has been determined to be out of date, or not working as anticipated?”
“You have the right to modify or remove the ordinance at any time,” said City Attorney David Rapport, adding, however, that someone with an existing permit likely would have the right to continue operating until their permit expired even if the council repealed the ordinance.
The council then voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
DEPORT THIS GUY, TRUMP!
On 02-19-2017 at 12:30 AM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a domestic disturbance at a residence in the 6800 block of North Street in Ukiah, California. Upon arrival Deputies knocked on the door and contacted Raul Arriola Bojorquez, 25, of Ukiah. Deputies advised they had been dispatched to the residence because of a reported disturbance. A few minutes later Deputies observed an adult female exiting the bathroom indicating that all was fine and nothing had happened even though she had a swollen lip and blood on her shirt. Deputies conducted an investigation and learned the adult female was married to Arriola Bojorquez. Prior to the Deputies arrival, Arriola Bojorquez without warning punched the adult female in the face with a closed fist which caused the bloody swollen lip. Arriola Bojorquez was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on a charge of domestic violence battery and he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
* * *
AND ANOTHER THING, MR. MAN. I'M GONNA DRIVE MY CAR THROUGH YOUR BEDROOM
On February 18, 2017 Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to an unwanted person at a residence located in the 45000 block of Ukiah Street in Mendocino, California. Upon arrival Deputies contacted a 51 year-old male who advised his ex-girlfriend, Justine Battersby, 38, of Albion, refused to leave his residence when she was asked to leave. Further investigation revealed that on 02-14-2017 the male and Battersby were involved in a verbal altercation which turned into a physical altercation where Battersby kicked the male in the leg. It was further learned that Battersby had also been sending the male threats via the Facebook Messenger and by text messaging. These threats communicated she was going to drive her vehicle into his bedroom knowing his bedroom was at the front of his residence. Battersby continued to threaten the male by communicating she would have him physically assaulted by herself and others. Deputies subsequently arrested Battersby's on charges of 422 PC (Criminal Threats) and 243(e)(1) PC (Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Battery). Battersby was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $20,000.00 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 21, 2017
STEPHANIE ALBAN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ERIK ELDER, Ukiah. Disobeying a court order, probation revocation.
SCOTT FABER, Ukiah. Under influence, county parole violation.
GREGORY FINNEY, Willits. Probation revocation.
AUGUSTINE FREASE, Covelo. DUI, prohibited person with ammo.
JARED HAWKINS, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KATHERINE KINNEY, Ukiah. Embezzlement.
DEBORAH LAWRENCE, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
WILLIAM POWELL II, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
IN SEARCH OF HAMBONE, CALIFORNIA
by Katy Tahja
Why, you might ask, would anyone try to get to Hambone, California? Where the heck is it anyway? And what’s there when you get there? If you are married to a railroad fanatic who loves abandoned railroad grades you might find yourself just about anyplace in California…like rural eastern Siskiyou County.
The combination for me of five consecutive days off work and decent weather put hubby and I on the road looking for railroad archaeology, but first we made a stop at an inn we’d been driving by for 45 years. If you drive up Highway 101 just after you cross the Klamath River there is a turn off for Requa and the historic Requa Inn at the mouth of the river.
The inn is a century old and is being lovingly restored by a family of Yurok native descent. There are 10 cozy rooms, no TV or phones, a restaurant and a lobby and library with fireplaces and picture windows overlooking the river. It’s the kind of place that surrounds you with history. Native populations have inhabited Requa for centuries and there is a wealth of myth and legend about the area.
When you look out the inn’s windows facing south all you see is river and forest. That’s the same view a native fisherman would have seen 200 years ago. The hand of modern man is all over the north shore since Requa is a popular fishing destination. No roads link Requa with the next Yurok town a dozen miles upriver at Pecwan, but a tribal transit system takes members by boat up and down the river. Jet boat cruises are available for people looking to view wildlife from the water.
After Requa we traveled north and east through Oregon. We highly recommend the beer and food at Klamath Basin Brewing in Klamath Falls, and then our travels took us back south into California in search of elusive Hambone.
A mini-history lesson is offered here. When small logging railroads were built the owners had to decide which big mainline railroad they would hook on to. These bigger railroads would allow lumber mills to distribute their products around the USA and send their lumber to shipping ports. The McCloud River Railroad, on the south side of Mt. Shasta, began in 1901 with 18 miles of track between Mt. Shasta City and McCloud. The railroad owners made the decision to build east and hook up with the Great Northern tracks, later owned by Burlington Northern-Santa Fe. These rails ran from Klamath Falls, Oregon to Bieber on Highway 299 and from there south the lines belonged to Western Pacific reaching to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The McCloud River Railroad eventually had 95 miles of track. To reach from Bartle, east of McCloud, to Lookout Junction on the Great Northern tracks you passed through Hambone, California. Photos on the Internet show there was a section shed for storing tools and parts in Hambone today (if it hasn’t fallen down) along the abandoned railroad grade.
When times were prosperous railroad lines expanded and built branch lines like the one from Bartle through Hambone to Lookout Junction. When times were bad you abandoned the branches, pulled up the rails and railroad ties and concentrated on keeping some part of your rail operation alive. The railroad line from Bartle to Lookout Junction became history when it was torn out in 2005. The McCloud River Railroad ran out of lumber resources to ship and became an excursion and dinner train ride. In the 1990’s we took the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train and enjoyed a delightful trip and meal, but tourism could not sustain even limited rail service and it ceased operation in 2009.
Would you believe railroads practice recycling? Actually they always have. If your railroad built a branch line into new timber and you cut it all down and shipped it to the sawmill you then tore up the iron rails and railroad ties and re-laid them to go on into your next logging site. As a historian, this practice makes it danged hard to state “The railroad tracks were right here.” Yes, they might have been for a while, until they were moved someplace else. Knowing where the “somewhere’s else” places are, and when this happened, is the sign of a good historian. Luckily, the old railroad grades and roadbeds leave good clues. When McCloud River Railroad abandoned the tracks east of Hambone to Lookout Junction in 2005, A&K Railroad Materials recycled the rails. Ever wondered where those used railroad ties you see in retail garden centers for making raised beds came from? Now you know — abandoned train lines.
On our little winter road trip we first drove down from Klamath Falls to Adin on Highway 299 and took county roads and gravel roads west to Lookout Junction. There was snow on the ground but you could see the junction and the snow covered dirt roadway that was the old McCloud railroad grade. However, bad luck struck when we tried to get from Bartle to Hambone. Snowfall gets serious around the base of Mount Shasta; we would have needed snowmobiles to get to Hambone. We realize we’ll have to come back in summer to drive the dirt road into Hambone and on to Lookout Junction. Disappointing, but that’s what happens when you go exploring in mucky weather.
After staring at atlas and national forests maps for so long I was again delighted by place names. (I amuse easily). Siskiyou County is home to many native groups so you get names like Ukonome, Ogaromtoc, Billbokka and Nawtawckt. Critters figure into place names like Kangaroo Lake, Caribou Road, Yellow Jacket Ridge, Bug Gulch, Golden Hoof Road, Toad Mountain, Horse Pocket, 10 Bear Mountain, Bunny Flat, the town of Gazelle, Elk Lick Ridge, and Chirpchatter Mountain (noisy insects there)?
Sentiments gave location names like Hopeless Pass, Hell Hole Ridge, Paradise Lake, Damnation Pass and Hello Canyon. Discoveries at a site, I believe, gave names like Six-Shooter Butte, Coffee Can Creek, and Tombstone Mountain. Then there were just fun place names. Did Emigrant Road have lots of newcomers traveling it? Applesauce Gulch perhaps had apple trees growing there, but Five & Ten Divide, Ulcer Point and Pickle Camp? What caused their naming? Nowadays on-line gazetteers and place name reference sites could answer my questions, if I had the time to sit in front of a computer for hours, which I refuse to do because I hope to be out exploring old railroad grades with my hubby and someday getting to Hambone.
FUMBLING TOWARDS COLLAPSE
by James Kunstler
In all the smoke and fog emitted by Trump and his adversaries, it must be hard to make out the actual issues dogging this society, and even when you can, to find a coherent position on them. This was nicely illustrated in Paul Krugman’s fatuous column in Monday’s New York Times, “On Economic Arrogance” — the title describes Krugman’s own attitude to a T.
In it, Krugman attempts to account for the no-growth economy by marshaling the stock-in-trade legerdemain of academic economics: productivity, demographics, and labor metrics. Krugman actually knows zip about what afflicts us in the present disposition of things, namely the falling energy-return-on-energy-investment in the oil industry, which is approaching the point where the immense activity of getting oil out of the ground won’t be worth the cost and trouble of doing it. And since most of the things we do and produce in this economy are based on cheap oil — with no reality-based prospect of replacing it with so-called “renewables” or as yet undiscovered energy rescue remedies — we can’t generate enough wealth to maintain anything close to our assumed standard of living. We can’t even generate enough wealth to pay the interest on the debt we’ve racked up in order to hide our growing energy predicament. And that, in a nutshell, is what will blow up the financial system. And when that department of the economy goes, the rest will follow.
So, the real issue hidden in plain sight is how America — indeed all the so-called “developed” nations — are going to navigate to a stepped-down mode of living, without slip-sliding all the way into a dark age, or something worse. By the way, the Ole Maestro, Alan Greenspan, also chimed in on the “productivity” question last week to equally specious effect in this Business Insider article. None of these celebrated Grand Viziers knows what the fuck he’s talking about, and a nation depending on their guidance will find itself lost in a hall of mirrors with the lights off.
So, on one side you have Trump and his trumpets and trumpistas heralding the return of “greatness” (i.e. a booming industrial economy of happy men with lunchboxes) which is not going to happen; and on the other side you have a claque of clueless technocrats who actually believe they can “solve” the productivity problem with measures that really only boil down to different kinds of accounting fraud.
You also have an American public, and a mass media, who do not question the premise of a massive “infrastructure” spending project to re-boot the foundering economy. If you ask what they mean by that, you will learn that they uniformly see rebuilding our highways, bridges, tunnels, and airports. Some rightly suspect that the money for that is not there — or can only be summoned with more accounting fraud (borrowing from our future). But on the whole, most adults of all political stripes in this country think we can and should do this, that it would be a good thing.
And what is this infrastructure re-boot in the service of? A living arrangement with no future. A matrix of extreme car dependency that has zero chance of continuing another decade. More WalMarts, Target stores, Taco Bells, muffler shops, McHousing subdivisions, and other accoutrement of our fast-zombifying mode of existence? Isn’t it obvious, even if you never heard of, or don’t understand, the oil quandary, that we have shot our wad with all this? That we have to start down a different path if we intend to remain human?
It’s not hard to describe that waiting world, which I’ve done in a bunch of recent books. We’re going there whether we like it or not. But we can make the journey to it easier or harsher depending on how much we drag our heels getting on with the job.
History is pretty unforgiving. Right now, the dynamic I describe is propelling us toward a difficult reckoning, which is very likely to manifest this spring as the political ineptitude of Trump, and the antipathy of his enemies, leaves us in a constitutional maelstrom at the very moment when the financial system comes unglued. Look for the debt ceiling debate and another Federal Reserve interest rate hike to set off the latter. There may be yet another converging layer of tribulation when we start blaming all our problems on Russia, China, Mexico, or some other patsy nation. It’s already obvious that we can depend on the Deep State to rev that up.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
STEINBECK’S ROADMAP FOR RESISTING TRUMP
by Stephen Cooper
A recent blog post of the National Book Critics Circle asked members “at this time of cultural shift” in the dawning era of Donald Trump to identify their “favorite work of resistance literature.” The writer Paul Wilner identified John Steinbeck’s “quietly furious” strike novel In Dubious Battle as his personal choice.
“We may not see the future lying before us,” Wilner explained, “but Steinbeck has provided a valuable road map to the lessons of the past. He may have fought kicking and screaming against the label of ‘engaged’ writer–he’ll never be confused with Sartre, to his credit–but he understood the power, as well as the perils, of resistance.”
True enough, but my choice of road map for resisting Donald Trump would be The Moon Is Down, the play-novella John Steinbeck wrote during the early, dark days of World War II about anti-fascist resistance by the citizens of a Nazi-occupied country in northern Europe. Steinbeck’s little book inspired citizen resistance in Nazi-occupied territories from the Baltic to the Black Sea. It contains practical advice for Americans opposed to Donald Trump’s attitudes and actions as president, 75 years after it was written.
Set in a fictionalized version of Norway, The Moon Is Down tells the story of what residents do when alien soldiers—never named as Nazis, but unmistakable nonetheless—invade their peaceful coastal mining town by air, land, and sea. Hitler’s forces tried hard to suppress The Moon Is Down in Nazi-occupied lands (possession was punishable by death in Mussolini’s Italy), but contraband copies, printed and passed on by hand, were widely credited with sustaining anti-fascist resistance until Nazi occupation ended in 1945. Once World War II was over, John Steinbeck was awarded the Freedom Cross by King Haakon VII of Norway, that nation’s highest civilian honor.
Magnified by an unforgiving winter, the passive bitterness of an occupied people morphs into active rebellion that begins quietly when the town’s mayor refuses to drink with the army officer who—unlike Donald Trump—is a moral man following orders from others. The refusal to cooperate eventually costs the mayor his life, but not before his example inspires numerous acts of rebellion, some violent, by residents of the town.
Sanctuary-city mayors around the United Stats are setting a similar example by signaling their refusal to cooperate with federal orders to round up undocumented residents for deportation. Demonstrations at legislative town hall meetings, by citizens concerned about health care, are following a similar pattern. People are standing up to power.
When U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis was interviewed on Meet the Press not long ago, he prepared the stage for official resistance by explaining to Chuck Todd why he felt Donald Trump was “not legitimate” and why he refused to attend Trump’s inauguration. “You cannot be at home with something that is wrong,” Lewis told Todd, citing the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.”
John Steinbeck understood this principle but professed to be surprised that The Moon Is Down proved so popular, explaining that he wrote the book “as a kind of celebration of the durability of democracy.” When the mayor in Steinbeck’s story says that he feels the will of the people and acts accordingly, he gives unspoken permission for their resistance, the ultimate result of which is left—in typical Steinbeck fashion—for readers to decide. As Steinbeck makes clear, however, the occupiers are flummoxed because they fail to understand the psychology of people brought together by crisis. Products of a top-down, authoritarian culture familiar to students of Donald Trump, they are unprepared for popular resistance and cannot cope when confronted with democratic dissent.
As Steinbeck’s mayor explains to the puzzled commandant who is trying to keep order, “Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.” John Steinbeck’s advice couldn’t be clearer: Once a bully picks a fight, resist. You may lose the battle, but you’ll eventually win the war.
(Stephen Cooper is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California. Follow him on Twitter @SteveCooperEsq. This piece was written for Steinbeck Now. It is being published here with the author’s permission. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
There is something wrong with the food. Whenever I happen to see news reports from the heartland, focused on some disaster or other usually, I can’t help but notice how fat the young adults are. Young women, good hair, good teeth, not evidently suffering from the malnutrition that can cause overweight as well as underweight, but blown up like balloons. It simply cannot be, that they all decided to drink too much soda. There is something wrong with the food.
GROOMING AMERICA FOR VIOLENCE
by Thomas Henry Pope
A striking scene in the demise of our experiment with democracy took place Thursday in the White House Press Briefing Room: a president declared the media to be “enemies of the people” and a corps of seasoned journalists dutifully scribed his words. Their crime? Reporting fake news. And by recording his falsehoods they were guilty as charged.
George Orwell couldn’t have captured the insanity better.
On the surface this attack on the Press appears to be Mr. Trump bullying yet another group. But his choice of words here says, “They are a threat to our existence and must be stopped.” His followers are schooled to hear his subtext and some will respond. In short, Trump has crossed over to inciting violence against the people he is sworn to protect.
After the first wave of beatings and (I pray not) killings, he will say that he was speaking metaphorically, that some passionate Americans took him out of context. But it won’t matter to those injured or murdered journalists and many among the rest will already be self-censuring the way they do in other totalitarian regimes. The news will have had its wings clipped.
Preposterous, you say. But recall that during the campaign, how he said reporters were “dishonest, disgusting and corrupt.” He said he’d open libel laws to make the media easier to sue. He encouraged his fans to rough up protesters and said he’d pay their legal expenses. Over the months, he induced them ever closer to outrageous behavior. Then on January 23rd, 2016, he said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” And his followers cheered. The campaign was testing them and they came through for him.
This unsavory period calls to mind the way a pimp grooms someone into the sex trade. He scouts and befriends an unstable girl, confuses her with a blinding mix of charm, gifts, aloofness, fatherly advice and solidarity with things she naturally resents. He isolates her, honors her natural sexuality, hurts her a little, blames someone else and saves her. Then he asks that she do just one little thing for him in return. Then another, and another, only this time for money with a friend of his. Later, it is with a stranger. Soon she is not aware that she performs acts she would not normally do.
Like the pimp, Trump can speak to people hurting from society’s inequities. He promises to save them, jokes with them, says he understands them like no one else ever can. He isolates them from opposing points of view. Over time he sours them on simple moral reflection and critical thinking. Now he needs his people to do things they have never considered.
And I submit his ploy to incite violence will be without consequence to himself because, just as sexuality is indigenous to a young woman, so is aggression at the heart of our patriotism. Our culture is steeped in it.
Consider that our history books extol in glowing terms the theft of a settled continent through genocide and slavery. We are fed phrases like Manifest Destiny, bravery, liberation and bringing the word of God to savages. Our long-worked disconnect between violence and Exceptionalism obscures our little escapades such as invading other countries to “protect our values” when the real reasons are political and economic. We were conceived in violence and its echoes linger just under the surface of our motives. It is a foundational element of our cultural schizophrenia.
Conservative administrations from Nixon to G W Bush have encouraged us to normalize hate. They brought us the Southern Strategy, Welfare Queens, Willie Horton, the Contract with America’s attack on immigrants, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, the 49 percent and now the conflation of ISIS and Muslims.
Enter Trump, with his viper’s sense of how to stir unrest with his every utterance. His strategy of calling out an enemy in our midst seems designed to turn this violence on our system of checks and balances in the name of Patriotism. And when the violence comes he will say the press deserved it, while his true agenda is to remove the threat it poses to his river of lies. We are at a turning point. Every aspect of free press that we lose inches us closer to tyranny. Will our near future be forged by emasculated reporters taking notes from Trump on what to say?
Important Knowledge (?) — The Velveeta Cheese Company was incorporated in Monroe, New York in 1923. Velveeta Cheese was packaged using a tinfoil lining inside a wooden box and had special cooking properties that quickly caught on. When melted it was as smooth as velvet (therefore its name). And it would never curdle when heated. Velveeta was acquired by Kraft in 1927.
Speaking of Velveeta, it is Valentine’s Day as I write this. Emperor Claudius II of Rome was involved in several bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius found it was tough to get soldiers and felt that the reason was that men did not join the army because they did not wish to leave their wives and families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. A priest in Rome called Valentine defied Claudius’s executive order. Soon to be St. Valentine went on and secretly married couples. When his defiance was discovered, Valentine was put to death on February 14, about 270 AD, turning him into a Saint.
During the Middle Ages people in England and France held a belief that birds started to look for their mate from February 14. In 1907 Hershey's introduced their chocolate kisses. It wasn’t until 1913 that Hallmark started selling their first Valentine’s Day cards, slowing down Velveeta Sales, but they recovered until the 60s when they were not considered real enough.
Blackshirts instead of Brown.
Der jungen are rioting ein Berkenlund just like in ze old days mit dem fires und der beatings und der smashing of vindows.
Ach! Doze ver ze days! Now clearly zumzing is in ze air. Zere is ein sound in ze distance. Can you hear it? It is ze zound of a distant drum coming closer. Ja! Das ist gut!
Soon vie vill rise up togezzer und join zem! Vie vill crush ze enemy under ze heels of our bütz as vie march forward to victory in defense of ze Homeland! Yah, it’s all coming togezzer now.
General Poul Andersen
Ess Eff Schadenfreude Brigade
WHAT? NO FLOOD HANDBOOK?
AVA readers may appreciate this article: “Oroville Dam’s Flood-Control Manual Hasn’t Been Updated for Half a Century.” (http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/Oroville-Dams-flood-control-manual-hasnt-been-updated-for-half-a-century.html).
Readers who want current official reports on the situation in Butte County can visit the California Department of Water Resources Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/CADWR/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED, and the California Office of Emergency Services newsroom website: http://www.oesnews.com/.
Over here in Lake County, our concerns are for public health and safety related to contact with lake water and stormwater runoff that may be contaminated by bloated septic systems and dysfunctional leach fields along the shoreline of Clear Lake [https://local.nixle.com/alert/5855193/] and the earthen dams that contain treated effluent in North Lakeport and in the City of Clearlake. Fortunately, these dams are managed by the Lake County Sanitation District with strict compliance to state regulations. A question that remains unanswered is what — if any — plans there are for evacuating and subsequently restoring domesticated sites in the flood path of either facility.
The following item is excerpted from the California Office of Emergency Services “Crosswalk for Plan Review” currently being employed by the Lake County Office of Emergency Services for updating (i.e., completely redoing) the County’s Emergency Operations Plan, with regard to dams:
“47. If there are dams in the area, the plan should have, or reference [sic] inundation maps that indicate what areas could flood, the time the flood wave arrives at specific locations and when the water will recede. Operational information necessary to carry-out [sic] an evacuation of all potentially flooded areas should be indicated for each dam. This information required for each dam should include shelter locations, location of critical facilities such as government center hospitals, [sic] nursing homes, schools, day care centers, etc. Each dam evacuation plan should also indicate other facilities with large concentrations of disabled persons or persons that lack their own transportation, or requiring special assistance (SEMS EOP Element).”
The Lake County Sanitation District (LACOSAN) facility known as the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant lies upstream of the Burns Valley Creek watershed, which flows through the low-lying rural parcels northeast of a community/senior center, several low-income subsidized housing complexes, an assisted living facility, a known homeless encampment, and eventually leads to the very city hall where local government’s base of operations is conducted.
Note that flooding in the Burns Valley Creek watershed is notorious for repeated damage and destruction (not all of which has been created by rising lake levels) and the City of Clearlake never completed its 1994 “Storm Drainage System Master Plan.” Commonly anticipated storm damage and long-prohibited stormwater pollution of the “receiving water body” (also the source of drinking water) are described in the 2015 City of Clearlake Municipal Service Review
The City of Clearlake relies heavily on the city-based “Lake County Fire Protection District" (one of five in the County of Lake) for emergency management within the City, working closely with city and county emergency response services, but neither entity is noticeably involved in the County of Lake’s most recent efforts to update the Lake County EOP — using a publicly funded grant from Cal OES. The County’s EOP “update” will ostensibly comply with the Cal OES “Crosswalk” requirements, but in the meantime Burns Valley residents — many of them elderly and disabled — are up shit creek without a paddle if this dam fails.
The Essential Public Information Center
Wordstruck! The Fun and Fascination of Language: a Book Talk by Susanna Janssen
Can one book speak to the brain, the heart, and the funny bone? it defies categorization, but it delivers on all three.
Here’s a sampling of what just a dozen of the sixty short chapters of Wordstruck! contain and a hint at what Susanna will talk about at our event on 2/22:
- Which are the most treacherous two letter words in our language.
- How over 100 people have awakened from head trauma into a whole new linguistic life.
- Why hello and goodbye were once very controversial words.
- What are the seven things Americans do differently than the rest of the world (Metric is only one).
- What are London cab drivers and Swedish military recruits doing to grow bigger brains.
- Why Shakespeare is a superstar of the English language and how he learned to do the Hokey-Pokey.
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Location Change For Wines & Spines
Adults 21 & over are invited to join our monthly book club Wines & Spines.
This month we are meeting at Saucy, 108 W. Standley St.
Studies show reading for pleasure reduces anxiety & increases our capacity for compassion. Join us in February for Lucky Us by Amy Bloom: February 22nd at 6:30 pm. For a list of our titles & more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or email@example.com
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Join us for the second in a series of three kid-friendly workshops exploring Ooey Gooey STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) projects. This month we will make Heat-Sensitive Color-Changing Slime. Participants will learn about measuring, mixing, and thermochromism. This event is suitable for kids ages 7-11, is family-friendly, free to the public and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.
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Storytime's never been so tasty!
This Saturday, February 25th at 11am, Family Storytime morphs into Snacktime Storytime with special guest Tarney Sheldon!
Come listen to funny and interesting stories about vegetables and learn about what kinds of tasty veggies grow in winter. Kids will have a chance to see and examine fresh produce, make a craft to take home and try a delicious snack! Tarney will also talk about the Farmers Market Match program and CalFresh. This event is free and family-friendly.
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OROVILLE SPILLWAY FIASCO EXPOSES ABSURDITY OF JERRY BROWN’S PUSH FOR DELTA TUNNELS
Delta legislators respond to ‘alarming’ Oroville Dam emergency
by Dan Bacher
A day after state officials ordered the evacuation of over 188,000 people from Butte, Yuba and Sutter Counties, members of the newly-formed Delta Caucus of the California Legislature on February 13 issued a statement regarding the “hazardous situation” at Oroville Dam after The Mercury News and other news outlets reported that previous complaints about the safety of the dam’s current infrastructure were ignored.
They said they have a “duty to ensure California’s existing infrastructure is maintained and upgraded, and not sacrificed in favor of conveyance projects,” referring to Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
The bipartisan group of legislators endorsing this statement included Senator Bill Dodd (Co-Chair), D-Napa; Senator Richard Pan, D-Sacramento; Assemblymember Jim Frazier (Co-Chair), D-Oakley; Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton; Assemblymember Catharine Baker, R-Dublin; Assemblymember Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove; Assemblymember Tim Grayson, D-Concord:
“We are concerned that a clear alarm raised 12 years ago about the state of the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was discounted. There has been more than enough time since then for upgrades and maintenance to the structure. Instead, nearly 185,000 people have been displaced, and there are still people in harm’s way.
A catastrophic failure at Oroville would result in uncontrolled releases that do considerably more harm to the surrounding communities, and threaten those further downstream, including levee-protected communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. For now, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that people are safe and that necessary steps are taken to prevent further compromise of the entire Oroville facility.
When the immediate threats have subsided, we need to clearly assess this disaster and its causes. We have a duty to ensure California’s existing infrastructure is maintained and upgraded, and not sacrificed in favor of conveyance projects.”
On October 17, 2005, Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League filed a motion to intervene to the Federal Regulatory Commssion: http://yubariver.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/10172005_FOR-Sierra-Club-SYRCL_Oroville-Dam-Joint-Intervention.pdf
This motion, filed in the “Matter of the State of California Department of Water Resources for a New License for the Oroville Facilities before a federal agency, FERC,” concerns the licensing of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) for its contract with a federal agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, pursuant to the Flood Control Act of 1944, with federal financing authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1958.
Relicensing is supposed to be done on the basis that the dam is safe. On page 13 of 29, the motion complains that the emergency spillway is not armored (concrete reinforced) and extensive erosion would take place if the emergency spillway were used. This is exactly what has happened since the current Oroville Dam crisis began after a giant hole opened in the primary spillway, forcing DWR to open the emergency spillway.
The groups cited an August 2002 Memorandum from the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) that discusses the damage that could occur to project land and facilities from use of the ungated spillway. The YCWA memo stated:
“The discharge area below the emergency spillway is not armored and extensive erosion would take place if the emergency spillway were used. The spillway road and possibly high voltage transmission towers would be impacted. (p. II-1) Because the area downstream from the emergency spillway crest is an unlined hillside, significant erosion of the hillside would occur. (p. II-5)...”
Evacuation order issued, then reduced to warning
The Delta legislators released their statement just prior to Governor Jerry Brown’s meeting with emergency response officials at the State Operations Center in Mather regarding the ongoing response to the situation at the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway and subsequent local evacuations.
On February 12, Brown declared a state of emergency to help mobilize disaster response resources and support the local evacuations. “The Governor's Office of Emergency Services has activated the State Operations Center in Mather, California to its highest level and is coordinating with personnel at the Incident Command Post in Oroville, California and with other local, state and federal emergency response officials to address all emergency management, evacuation and mutual aid needs,” according to a statement from the Governor’s Office.
On February 14, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office reduced the immediate evacuation order of Oroville residents to an evacuation warning, allowing residents in the region impacted by the order to return to their homes and businesses.
On the same day, President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved both of Governor Jerry Brown’s requests for federal assistance for federal assistance – one to support the response to the situation at Oroville Dam and the other to help with the impacts of January storms.
Meanwhile, the California Department of Water Resources reached its goal of lowering the water level at Lake Oroville by 50 feet on the morning of February 20 as the agency continued to release 60,000 cfs over the primary spillway into the Feather River. (www.chicoer.com/...)
Oroville Dam crisis should be a wake up call
Two organizations opposed to Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels also responded to the breach in the Oroville auxiliary spillway and the evacuation of over 188,000 people, joining the Delta legislators in criticizing the Brown administration’s failure to properly maintain Oroville Dam and other water infrastructure while promoting the construction of controversial new conveyance.
Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch, said the current crisis should serve as a “wake up call” to state officials.
“The crisis at the Oroville Dam should be a wake up call to State leaders that we should fix existing water infrastructure before spending billions on questionable projects like the proposed Delta tunnels and Sites Reservoir,” Scow said. “Repairing Oroville Dam will likely cost between $100 and $200 million and could force higher water rates throughout California.”
“California has more than one thousand dams, many of which are older than the Oroville Dam. Rising temperatures mean more rain and less snow, increasing the likelihood of future spillovers and similar crises. It is time for Governor Brown to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on new projects that will benefit California’s largest corporate agribusiness and for him to fix California’s crumbling water systems,” said Scow.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), commented on the current situation, Oroville Dam, how the crisis was preventable, what should be done next, and the California WaterFix.
On the current situation, Barrigan-Parrilla said, “We are grateful for all the courageous and hardworking people working day and night to keep the region safe – from DWR employees to public safety officials. The evacuations seem to have been successfully executed.
Regarding Oroville Dam, she said, “This dam is the primary reservoir for the State Water Project. One-third of Southern California’s water is State Water Project water. Oroville Dam also is the source for a portion of Bay Area water deliveries. Making Oroville safe is essential and must take priority over any other water project in the state.”
Barrigan-Parrilla emphasized that the crisis was entirely preventable. “ The Mercury News is reporting that Federal and State officials ignored warnings 12 years ago."
"Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside. They warned that the spillway could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe," she stated.
“FERC rejected that request, however, after the state Department of Water Resources, and the State Water Contractors argued that they would likely have had to pay the bill for the upgrades. They said the upgrades were unnecessary. The State Water Contractors & Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s outsized influenced on DWR to NOT upgrade the emergency spillway is a story that must be thoroughly investigated once the emergency has passed,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
“Because of this penny pinching, residents of these water districts will lose a significant portion of their water supply for this year. And almost 200,000 lives in the region downstream from the Oroville Dam have been disrupted, physically and economically,” she stated.
She also noted that millions of Chinook salmon have had to be relocated from the hatchery, with outcomes of disruption to their life cycle to be seen. “Swollen rivers filled with debris can have negative impacts on public safety downstream and on wildlife, as levees will experience extreme pressure from emergency flows,” she added.
For the full report on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's rescue of 8 million Chinook salmon and 1 million from the Feather River Fish Hatchery, please read: www.dailykos.com/...
What Should Be Done? “Safety comes first,” she said. “Before spending a dime on any gold-plated, taxpayer-backed, water delivery service to agricultural interests, we need to upgrade our 678 high hazard dams in California. Making those facilities safe is now the priority over projects such as the Delta Tunnels that will largely serve industrial agricultural interests in the southern San Joaquin Valley. We need to remind our state water resources agency that they really work for the people of California, not the water districts.”
What about the Delta Tunnels? “The Delta Tunnels are only 10% designed, with no seismic analysis, and no full soil samples, yet DWR is leading the charge for state and federal permits for the project. Are they going to repeat history with the Delta Tunnels and ignore the warnings that the design is flawed, and the impacts to health and human safety, and the environment are serious?” concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.
Twelve public interest groups challenge Governor Brown’s “green” credentials
Governor Jerry Brown and administration officials, now under scrutiny by local, state, national and international media 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 Jerry Brown Administration’s environmental record showing he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including fossil fuel generated electricity, oil drilling, and coastal protection.
The report calls for a moratorium on the building of natural gas powered electricity plants, given what they described as “the glut of electric capacity” and calls for an outside audit of state’s energy needs. The 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 www.consumerwatchdog.org/…
THE MARCH 2, 2017 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING AGENDA has been posted to the department website at: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/planning/meetings.htm Please contact staff if you have any questions. Thank you.
Danielle Fitts, (707) 234-6650, www.buildingmendocino.org
THE SOUND OF ONE FOOT SENNIN’
Into the Daoist Mystical We Go for Our Instructions
Sennin Poem by the Chinese Daoist mystic and "Father of Fengshui", Guo Pu (276-324 ce), who authored The Zangshu, or "Book of Burial". This poem is a translation by Ezra Pound. For more information:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guo_Pu
The red and green kingfishers flash between the orchids and clover, One bird casts its gleam on another. Green vines hang through the high forest, They weave a whole roof to the mountain, The lone man sits with shut speech, He purrs and pats the clear strings. He throws his heart up through the sky, He bites through the flower pistiland brings up a fine fountain. The red-pine-tree god looks at him and wonders. He rides through the purple smoke to visit the sennin, He takes 'Floating Hill' by the sleeve, He claps his hand on the back of the great water sennin. But you, you dam'd crowd of gnats, Can you even tell the age of a turtle?
Craig Stehr, San Francisco
INGRATES, TAKE 2
"A small group of ingrates are about to sue Mendocino County on a bogus claim essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them." — Editor, AVA
As one of the "ingrates," I take issue with everything you said to wrongly characterize our challenge to the county.
First, last week you refused to print my article that explained our thinking and what led up to our decision to challenge the county's unconstitutional claim that the Cannabis Tax Act (AI) passed.
May I ask that you reconsider and print it now, perhaps on the website, so that readers can have more information to judge whether your biased characterization is correct? It was a very unfair act of censorship unworthy of AVA, which generally engages in debate rather than censoring points of view you disagree with.
Second, your incorrect comments (AVA 2-8-17) about our lawsuit against the county's pretense that AI passed biased the reader off the bat. You distorted the meaning of our challenge with the comment, "A small group of ingrates are...essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them."
We are arguing no such thing. Our lawsuit has nothing to do with paying taxes. By now, that is an accepted part of the 'new era', which we are a part of, for better and for worse.
We are stepping up to say something wrong is happening here. We're asking the Court: Is Cannabis Tax Act a special tax, requiring a super-majority of 66 2/3% for voter approval, or a general tax requiring a bare majority? We need a court ruling.
If it's a special tax, it failed. We should all be concerned about this and get it right the first time. It will eventually go to the ballot in virtually every city and county in the state with similar tax guidelines as ones determined here
California Constitution Article XIIIC outlines the distinction between specific and general funding purposes and defines "special tax" as "any tax imposed for specific purposes which is placed into a general fund." That nails it on AI.
We believe it is clear that AI is a special tax containing specific funding purposes, as outlined in the Voter Handbook by author and Supervisor John McCowen, Sup Gjerde, as well as County Counsel: road repairs, mental health services, fire and emergency medical services, marijuana enforcement (criminal/illegal activity).
In the words of Sup McCowen: "A YES vote on AJ will tell the BOS you want a majority of proceeds of the 'Marijuana Tax' to be spent for marijuana enforcement, mental health services, county road repair, fire and emergency medical services."
It is clear in the ballot arguments that AI and AJ are paired by design with intent to use AJ as the funding mechanism for AI, with specifics listed. Four supervisors who submitting separate ballot arguments coupled them as intended.
We are not against cannabis businesses being taxed. We are against the County claiming the Cannabis Tax Act passed when it actually failed. AI got 63.62% of the vote, roughly 3% short of the needed 66 2/3% for a special tax to pass. The County's claim that it is a general tax and only needs a majority is belied by the measure's author in his own words in the most authoritative source, the 2016 Mendocino County Voter Handbook.
There is a genuine controversy here -- Whether the Cannabis Tax Act is a special tax or a general tax will determine whether it passed or not. So we're asking the Court to determine which it is.
The Complaint for Declaratory Relief asks the Court for a Declaration on definitions based on California Constitutional principles. If Injunctive Relief is also needed, that can be handled in a separate complaint. Lawrence Rosen has agreed to represent the plaintiffs, as needed, including on appeal.
Plaintiffs: Michael Johnson, Pebbles Trippet, Teri Johnson, Paula Deeter, Ron Edwards, Ralf Laguna, Noel Manners
Defendant: Mendocino County
Attorney for Plaintiffs: Lawrence Rosen firstname.lastname@example.org 707-478-8932
Pebbles Trippet, co-plaintiff, Johnson v Mendocino County, email@example.com
ED REPLY: I did not refuse to print your letter. We posted it, and it appears here a week late because you missed the print deadline, Pebs. Deadlines! Punctuality! Structure! Order! That's our world, not laundry in the cat box, the cats in the refrigerator, kids in their pj's at 3pm! The print deadline is Monday noon. Wake up calls avail on a case-by-case basis.
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THE MAJOR weighs in. Excuse us, Pebs, for finding your position on Measure AI to be contradictory, inconsistent, and wrong-headed.
Listen to yourself:
“… the county's unconstitutional claim that the Cannabis Tax Act (AI) passed.”
It is “a special tax containing specific funding purposes, as outlined in the Voter Handbook by author and Supervisor John McCowen, Sup Gjerde…”
McCowen says that a vote for the tax will “tell the BOS you want a majority of proceeds…”
“…AJ as the funding mechanism for AI.”
“We are not against cannabis businesses being taxed.”
But, “AI got 63.62% of the vote, roughly 3% short of the needed 66 2/3%…”
“So we're asking the Court to determine which it is.”
Whoa, old girl.
You have aligned yourself with the Howard Jarvis tax-haters who invented the state's special tax rules which, among other wonderful things, gives a huge corporate tax break to big business through the “corporate loophole” in Prop 13 which, you surely recall, was sold as a way to keep the old folks from being taxed out of their homes (which it kinda does) but which allows businesses to escape re-assessments by selling themselves to each other in pieces, rather than all at once. Yet you claim “we are not against cannabis businesses being taxed.” In other words, you want the County to spend lots more money going through the motions again with a special two-thirds tax measure which will be opposed by everyone in the pot business, giving the pot brigades an effective veto over all pot taxes. But you’re not against pot “businesses” being taxed?
Pot growers have gone untaxed for — what? — four decades now? Pot growers frequently argue that there’s economic benefit from the pot money that rotates through local hands. Ok, but so do the taxed businesses, so why should newly legalized profit-making pot “businesses” go tax free? (It would be a different argument if we were talking about private transactions between individuals.)
Here you are for the first time in years taking Supervisors McCowen and Gjerde at their word for what the money will be spent on. The Supervisors probably meant what they said, speaking for themselves as individuals. But everybody knows that CEO Angelo decides where the money will be spent and the Board simply rubberstamps the budget. Supervisors break promises all the time. Supervisors come and go but senior staff stay on for (nearly) ever. This advisory measure you have misinterpreted carries no legal obligation to spend the money on the things it mentions. The first blip on the budgetary radar, you can be sure that the Board will quickly re-allocate money to wherever they think it should go. You failed to read your own quote from McCowen that the advisory measure would “tell the BOS” what to spend it on. Since when has telling the BOS anything produced the desired result?
Again, we are talking about “businesses” here, businesses which probably will make a nice profit. I.e., organizations or individuals who can come up with something like $100k just to walk in the County door to apply for a permit to be a legal pot business. You’re asking the public to support your idea that these $100k minimum businesses should go untaxed?
Then there's the Hamburg angle. The pot brigades have their own personal Supervisor in Hamburg. Surely, if you don't like the way the pot taxes are spent, you can get him to use his considerable authority to steer the pot tax revenues into more pot-friendly ways and means.
Finally, there’s this whole court-process legalistic approach. If you think the tax measure is so bad, why don’t you circulate your own initiative to undo it? (Oh, wait, that’s right, you already tried that and it didn’t go over so well…) Why turn pot policy over to the courts? You’d save a lot of money on lawyers and you’d be using a more legitimate democratic process.
And we haven't even mentioned the prospect that if the two-thirds requirement for advisory measures becomes a precedent it might be retroactively applied to other more desirable existing taxes. Further, the two-thirds requirement for advisory measures might make it even harder to propose legitimate new taxes in the future. All because one special interest suddenly thinks that a tax on them is "unconstitutional."