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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Feb. 24, 2017

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by K.C. Meadows

Getting Orr Springs Road reopened is a priority for Mendocino County Transportation Director Howard Dashiell, but he warns that making sure the solution will be safe is paramount.

Orr Springs Road, oddly enough, is part of the Federal Highway System, as it connects major thoroughfares in the county. That means Dashiell can appeal for special federal funds for repairs. But that doesn’t mean the process will be any faster.

While Dashiell could not predict when the road might reopen, he estimates the cost of fixing it will be in the $1.5 million range, based on work done in 2006 in a similar situation on Eel River Road which cost around $1 million.

The solution will likely be a temporary bridge of some kind (you could Google “Bailey Bridge” for an idea). Dashiell said the trick will be assessing the stability of what’s underneath the pavement.

“I can’t see under the ground any farther than you can,” Dashiell said. Once the ground under the Orr Springs Road pavement stabilizes somewhat, (and the washout hole got even bigger overnight, encompassing all of one lane and most of the other) crews will need to poke around, “sneak up on it,” and drill into the soil to see what’s underneath and if it can hold heavy equipment.

He said he is working “as fast as I can,” not only on coming up with engineering for a solution, but also crossing all the t’s and dotting all the ‘i’s on emergency and environmental documents needed. And that’s not even all the paperwork that goes with trying to get funding for it.

“The money is the least of my worries right now,” he said.

He said he knows people who live on the other side of the washout are terribly inconvenienced but he can’t do anything that won’t be safe.

“I’m not going to open that road until I feel safe to let my wife and daughter go across,” he said.

Dashiell said other federal system county roads with severe damage are Mountain View Road and the Branscomb Road. Other county roads closed right now due to storm damage include Peachland Road at milepost .95 in Boonville, the Laytonville-Dos Rios Road at milepost 4.19 and Mallard Street between Hawk Road and Poppy Drive in Brooktrails. There are no estimates for reopening for any of those either.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration and Caltrans staff were in the county Tuesday and Wednesday looking at damage. They are assessing damage for January storms, much of which got worse with more storms this month, including the latest weekend storms.

Among the damage they’re looking at is severe damage at the Point Arena Cove, where the parking lot washed out and one-ton boulders washed up.

Dashiell estimates road damages just in the month of January are between $5 million and $7 million. The Orr Springs problem is a separate February event. The way funding works, usually about 75% of funds are provided through federal monies and the local jurisdiction pays 25%, although sometimes the state will help with that portion.

The vast majority of the damage thus far in January and February is to County roads. There’s also some debris removal costs, and the city of Ukiah has asked for emergency funds for some equipment damage and damage to sports fields.

The basic idea of how the process works is the local government sends its damage information to the state, then the state sends it on to federal agencies. Disaster declarations must be made at each level.

Part of the complication of getting things assessed and paid for, is that each storm is a new event with new paperwork.

Rick Ehlert, county Emergency Services Coordinator, explained that often a storm will damage a road, but then the next storm makes it worse and the next worse still. But as you get funding for the first storm, you need to figure out how to get paid for all the subsequent damage as well.

He said FEMA is usually pretty good at allowing the funding stream to continue as estimates change over time with subsequent storms. FEMA funding has been announced for the storms of Jan. 3-12. FEMA is now in the county looking at damage from storms between Jan. 18-23, and more emergency declarations are likely for February storms as well.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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CALTRANS Road Information Bulletin

Mendocino County

Route 1 (6.2/7.3) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility repairs from Haven Neck Drive to Old Stageroad Drive beginning Thursday, March 2.  One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.  Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#P1AA

Route 1 (43.7) – Repairs at the Albion River Bridge will continue Tuesday, February 28.  One-way traffic control will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#C1UA

Route 1 (57.9/58.5) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility repairs from Boice Lane to Pearl Drive on Wednesday, March 1.  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 (103.4/105.0) – 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 through Friday, February 24.  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 (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

Route 162 (16.2) – Emergency storm damage repairs near The Middle Way will continue. One-way traffic control will be in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays.  LC#C162JA

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Grace Pinoli of Ukiah, CA passed peacefully at her home on February 19, 2017.

Grace was born October 11, 1928 in Duchesne, Utah, the fourth of five children. She grew up on their grandfather’s homestead farm near the Ute Reservation, on the Strawberry River in western Utah. After her marriage July 13, 1947 to Norris Lyfford Pinoli they lived in Philo (Anderson Valley), CA for many years on the Pinoli family farm and later on the Philo Foothills Vineyard.  She also lived in Ukiah and Santa Rosa.

Grace is survived by son, Burt, four grandchildren, Nicolo Renato,  Mario Luca, Alicia Veronica and Lucas SU-yang, daughters-in-law Gayle and Suzanna, seven beloved great grandchildren as well as several nieces, nephews and extended family.

She is preceded in death by her parents, mother, Gertrude Ivy Baum, father, William Williams, her husband, Norris Lyfford, son, Glen Joseph and siblings, William Richard (Bill), Gabriella (Rella) Wardle, Ivy Catherine Thorn, and Wilma Mary Morrison.

Grace was a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as well as active in Sonoma County 4-H clubs (founding Rancho Cabeza 4-H Club in Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa) and a life-long supporter of Boy Scouts of America.

Services will be held Saturday, March 4, 2017 at: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chapel from 1:00pm-2:00pm,1337 S Dora St, Ukiah, CA.  For details call Empire Mortuary (707) 462-6711.

Following the services a luncheon will follow from 2:00pm-3:30pm at the LDS Church.

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DAVID SEVERN WRITES: I talked with Adele Phillips, the County’s lead planner for the Blackbird permit application, yesterday at the Planning Department. She said please no more input before March 10 as that is her deadline to release a revised assessment and mitigation recommendations that (now retired planner) Fred Tarr had originally put together and that we all felt was woefully lacking. In other words, finally our comments and sentiments from the very beginning might be addressed. She said she thinks we will be happy with the new packet. After March 10 (starting now?) new comments will go directly to Planning Commission without being included in Adele's assessment. The target date for the next Planning Commission meeting is April 20 and it is still assumed to be an on-site walk through of the Blackbird Farm and environs. She said that Calfire has stated that the 2016 fire road guidelines are to be required which call for a 20 foot wide, hard surface road — the grandfather clause does not apply. On the yurt situation for those of you who haven't seen it in the AVA, Blackbird project manager Danielle French-Jun told me that the children were still being housed in the yurts because a Building Inspector (Swearington?) said "Organized Camps" qualify for Building and Labor Code exemptions. I'm working on challenging that and seem to have the Building Department head Michael Lockett on my side. An anonymous tipster pointed out that Blackbird is advertising on Airbnb for $200 a night stays in the same yurts they house the kids in. The irony at play is that the County might disallow the paying adults during the safer summer months yet allow young children to reside in these things during these past stormy, tree falling winter days and nights.

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THE IDIOT'S GUIDE to Blackbird Farm, Philo. It may seem to distant readers a purely Anderson Valley matter. But given Trump's appointment of Mrs. DeVos as Secretary of Education, and the slo-mo privatization of public education that has preceded her, Blackbird Farm is an example of how one guy took public ed money, fuzzied it up behind non-profits and LLC's and is about to milk it for even more money for himself. Without public ed money, the scheme would not be possible.

JOHN HALL of Los Angeles has become very wealthy off charter school vouchers. He gets paid lots and lots to school "at risk youth," the student-age young people who don't or won't attend public schools. Or have been given the heave-ho for disciplinary reasons.

ENTER HALL. "No such thing as a bad boy." Or girl. Especially if the bad boy comes with an $8 grand voucher (and up) in his pocket. Put 30 of these bad boys in a storefront classroom with a cheapo, bulk-buy computer at each desk for the kid to fool around on, an underpaid college grad up front pretending to be a teacher, and multiply that classroom by several hundred and, voila! you might soon be flying first class to Florida to have dinner with Orange Man at Mar a Lago.

John & Joan Hall

HALL has established charter schools in Southern California and a couple of other states for these lucrative "at risk" kids. And, to be fair, maybe a few of them even learn to read a little, but instruction is hardly the point. Hall has found a niche for himself that is likely to become a chasm when Ms. De Vos takes over. She wants to voucher-ize the whole public ed system. Hell, Hall might wind up owning Anderson Valley Unified!

TRYING TO BE OBJECTIVE here, a lot of the educational system is rotten to the core and should be bulldozed, but these voucherized charter school people aren't really interested in building something better. They want to hustle public ed for profit while, you can be sure, their own children are cosseted in the finest private schools. (Wealthy people in the Bay Area mostly abandoned the public schools years ago except for a few selective public high schools like Lowell in San Francisco.)

SO, here in the Anderson Valley, this Hall character has bought himself a high end dude ranch deep in the hills above Philo, accessible only by single lane dirt roads, which are frequently impassable in the winter months. Hall calls the property Blackbird Farm. He hauls in busloads of "at riskers" to experience "wilderness." Or farming. The stated intent of the enterprise depends on the required local legal designations. If it needs to be a farm for Hall's legal convenience, it's a farm. If it needs to be a wilderness experience for Hall's convenience, it's a wilderness experience. If it needs to be a camp, it’s a camp.

THE "at riskers" sleep in a couple of risky warm weather only yurts placed in risky redwood groves where a big tree recently fell and took out a yurt. Fortunately for them, the "at riskers" weren't in it at the time. But the at riskers have been housed in the yurts this winter, the riskiest in years. Local authorities see nothing wrong here with kids sleeping in an unpermitted yurt with uncorrected code violations.

OK. So bunches of kids from LA and other distant places where Hall operates his for-profit charter schools are hauled deep into the hills of Anderson Valley at all times of the year for a couple of weeks at a time to do whatever they do, farm or walk around in the woods for a wilderness experience.

BUT HALL, in Hall-Think, needs to make more money off his Philo property, to max-monetize his coupla hundred remote acres. So he applies to the Mendocino County Planning and Building Department to build accommodations for 292 transient hotel-like visitors apart from the at risk youth who would probably no longer be welcome if Blackbird Farm is teeming with the $200-a-night-chocolate-on-their-pillows crowd. ($200 a night by the way is just for the yurt. He’s building much more expensive B&B type accommodations for the yups.)

INCREDIBLY (any place except Mendocino County), our Planning and Building Department has so far declared they see no prob in granting Hall a use permit for this nearly Philo-sized mob of would-be visitors who would transform already precarious one-lane entry roads to rural highways.

HALL'S preposterous scheme is unanimously opposed by everyone in the Anderson Valley.

BUT while that disaster is pending the outcome of local processes, Hall and Blackbird are advertising their yurts for $200 a night on Airbnb — the unpermitted, code-violating yurts which go for $200 a night.

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On February 21, 2017 at about 10:49 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies were on patrol and in the area of MPM 21 on Highway 162 in Covelo, California.  Deputies contacted a subject on the side of the road identified as Augustine Frease, 45, of Covelo.


Deputies conducted a records check on Frease and were advised that he had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. One of the warrants was a Misdemeanor bench warrant for DUI and the other a Felony bench warrant for prohibited person in possession of ammunition.  Frease was placed under arrest without incident and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $125,000 bail.

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ATTENTION BAY AREA PANTHERS! Show up for these two games in the Bay Area this weekend. (Our grads are everywhere, and powerful out of all proportion to our annual graduating classes who number an average of thirty per year!)

HAVING cruised past Covelo, 65-47 in the first round of small school playoffs, the male Panthers travel to the California School for the Deaf, Fremont, for a second-round playoff game Saturday evening

THE LADY PANTHERS, in a big upset win over Drew, 47-42 will play Emeryville this Saturday at Emeryville.

HOPEFULLY some of our Bay Area Panthers will come see one of the games.

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THE CASE OF JOSEPHA BASURTO was discussed on the AVA comment line the other day. A young Covelo woman, Ms. Basurto doesn't seem prepared to properly raise a child. Used to be there were viable options for children other than young lives twisted and doomed by formative years in the chaos of drug houses. Coincidentally. Lytton Springs was just in the news. It's the grand structure you see west of Highway 101 not far from Healdsburg. It was designed as an orphanage and functioned as one for many years. Like St. Vincent's in Marin, and the Albertinum in Ukiah, people incapable of raising children could place their children with religious orders who raised them up in safe and healthy conditions. These days, the orphanage option is gone, replaced by a haphazard and extremely unstable foster home system or adoption, and the latter typically preceded by a ricochet early childhood in the foster chaos. The present American "system" couldn't be better designed to create criminals and adult dependency:

Comment (1) "The tragedy here is that Josepha is an indigent substance abuser that will be paid by the state to parent a child. Am I wrong? I certainly hope so, but doubt it. What chance does the child have? Like no chance? But we regularly do this.

This is a case where adoption at birth, or an orphanage would serve the child best. And doing what is in the best interest of the child, in this case, is all that really matters.

— George Hollister

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The California State Sheriffs Association is a group of all 58 elected Sheriff's who strive to deliver quality public safety throughout our great state. The following is our statement regarding the emotional topic of immigration. Many of my friends, who have many mixed feelings about this topic, have inquired as to my position. I'm not going to allow any arguments on my personal facebook page. The following is the CSSA Statement, which I strongly agree with.

“Immigration policy is a complex and sensitive matter and this has been highlighted in recent days and weeks. The Sheriffs of California serve to protect the public safety above all else. Sheriffs are not inclined, nor do they have the resources or personnel, to conduct front-line immigration enforcement duties. Sheriffs do not wish to discourage members of their communities from seeking protection and assistance from law enforcement. While Sheriffs see the necessity in communicating with federal law enforcement regarding dangerous criminals or persons alleged to have committed serious and/or violent offenses that are housed in county jails, this comes from a desire to protect ALL members of our communities from those who pose a threat, not to enforce immigration law on a day-to-day basis.”

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“A significant point is the paucity of even semi-objective news available today. Eighty to ninety percent of the news is so hysterically, rabidly anti-Trump, that he could come out with the formula for clean cold fusion, and unlimited cheap, ecologically friendly energy tomorrow, and still be regarded as an insane troglodyte, while the extreme right wing news regards him as the Second Coming, who can do no wrong. The Chris Christie meatloaf story last week epitomized this. I gave up after finding twelve mainstream media stories relating in breathless earnestness the absolute, conclusive proof that President Trump was a ruthless psychopath because he ordered meatloaf for Christie (which Christie apparently isn’t overly fond of). I don’t recall even the kookiest “Obama is going to take all true patriots guns, put them in FEMA camps, and make them wear rouge and eye shadow” kooks going quite so far in the previous eight years. If anyone can suggest a reasonably fair news source, I sure would like to know!”

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ED NOTE: There aren't any. For the big stuff, try the BBC and the Brit newspaper, The Guardian. Anyway, objectivity is in the eye of the reader, and usually means opinion that agrees with his. Truth to tell, for breaking news the Daily Mail, the on-line Brit tabloid, is quite good, and always a fun read, although as a whole it translates as confirmation that these are indeed, The Last Days. Television news is a bad joke. No argument there. For intelligent discussion of current events, Michael Krasny's morning show on KQED out of San Francisco is the smartest and the least biased. He presents all perspectives on the issues of the day presented by thoughtful people. My political biases are dependably confirmed at CounterPunch, and a couple of programs at KPFA, especially Doug Henwood's. I think the smartest, most objective print is found at the London Review of Books and among American magazine journalism at Harper's, The New York Review of Books, the Atlantic. No, I don't pay any attention to Democracy Now. It's like already being dead and eternally forced to listen to verbatim piety as read through the nasal passages, unleavened by even so much as a hint of irony or humor. I think it's also obvious that Amy Goodman, now a millionaire several times over, has wrecked the Pacifica Network, which is about to go under from a combination of infighting and financial drains, especially the one funneled to Democracy Now. Local news seems a perennial work in progress at KZYX but the new boss, a print news guy, may be able to strengthen it. Jeff Blankfort's program is usually a learning experience, as is Jane Futcher's, but I don't hear the other talk programming often enough to judge it, but the station has always needed a regular, at least weekly, discussion of LOCAL events if it's ever to break out of its hippie-thumbsucker rep among conventional Mendo people. If I want BIG THINK I head for the quality mags, not outback global affairs experts. Local, incidentally, is covered quite well by the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Willits Weekly, the AVA (of course), and on-line by Mendocino Sports Plus, Lost Coast Outpost, Red-Headed Blackbelt, and Mendocino View, the newest on-line publication, and the AVA on-line. The ICO out of Gualala has its moments, as does the Advocate-Beacon when it goes long with Chris Calder, Frank Hartzell and other experienced reporters.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 23, 2017

Armas, Hernandez, Mizner, Mora

JULIAN ARMAS JR., Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JOSE HERNANDEZ, Downey/Ukiah. Failure to appear, marijuana possession for sale, illegal entry.

HAROLD MIZNER JR., Ukiah. Domestic battery, smuggling drugs or alcohol into jail.

PABLO MORA, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Nelson, Rodriguez, Sandage

JARRETT NELSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

REBECCA RODRIGUEZ, Willits. Failure to appear.

VICKI SANDAGE, Willits. Probation revocation.

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by Ralph Nader

In not so merry old medieval England, wrongful injuries between people either were suffered in silence or provoked revenge. Cooler heads began to prevail and courts of law were opened so such disputes over compensation and other remedies could be adjudicated under trial by jury.

Taken across the Atlantic to the colonies, this system – called tort law or the law of wrongful injuries – evolved steadily to open the courtroom door until the nineteen seventies. It was then that the insurance industry and other corporate lobbies began pushing one restriction after another through state legislatures– not restrictions on corporations’ rights to sue, but restrictions on the rights of ordinary people to have their day in court.

Lawmakers, whose campaign coffers were stuffed by corporate lobbyists, were not concerned about advancing their passing rules that arbitrarily tied the hands of judges and jurors—the same judges and jurors who were the only people to see, hear and evaluate individual cases in their courtrooms. Legislation imposing caps on damages – as with California’s $250,000 lifetime cap on pain and suffering – was especially cruel for those victims of medical malpractice who were young, unemployed or elderly and thus do not have significant enough wage losses to receive sufficient damages.

In recent decades, the nonsense about our society being too litigious (except for business vs business lawsuits) has become even more extreme. Not only do we file far fewer civil lawsuits per capita than in the 1840s, according to studies by University of Wisconsin law professors, but jury trials have been declining in both federal and state courts, with trials down by 60% since the mid-1980s.

My father used say that “if people do not use their rights, they will over time lose their rights.”  This truism brings us to a new book by University of Connecticut Law Professor Alexander Lahav, with the title In Praise of Litigation (Oxford University Press). The title invokes the necessity of legal recourse in a society whose ordinary people are being squeezed out of their day in court, being denied justice, and are becoming cynical enough to want to get out of jury duty—a right for which our forebears demanded from King George III.

Professor Lahav makes the point we should have learned in high school, or at least college. The right to litigate is critical to any democratic society. Imagine living in a country where no one can sue powerful wrongdoers or the government. We have names for countries like that. They’re called dictatorships or tyrannies.

Here is author Lahav’s summary: “Litigation is a civilized response to the difficult disagreements that often crop up in a pluralist society. The process of litigation does more than resolve disputes: it contributes to democratic deliberation. This is the key to understanding what this process is supposed to be about and what should be done to improve it. By appreciating the democratic values people protect and promote when they sue – enforcement of the law, transparency, participation and social equality – reformers can work toward a court system that is truly democracy promoting.”

It would be more reassuring if more judges reflected those words. Were that the case, they would be fighting harder to expand the shrinking court budgets (about two percent of state budgets) that are increasingly causing civil trials to be deferred or courtrooms to be temporarily closed. Tighter budgets lead judges to excessively pressure lawyers to settle or go to arbitration. The latter is a malicious inequity between consumers, workers and other people unequal in power vis-a-vis big corporations like Wells Fargo, Exxon/Mobil, Pfizer and Aetna, who force consumers to sign fine print contracts that limit people’s rights to use the courts.

The usual sally against praising civil litigation is the claim of too many frivolous suits. Whenever Richard Newman, the Executive Director of the American Museum of Tort Law, hears that asserted, he asks for examples. They are not forthcoming. For good reason. Litigation is expensive; lawyers have to guard their reputations and judges, who largely lean to the conservative side, are in charge of their courtrooms. They are quite ready to approve motions to dismiss a case or summary judgments.

We have to take a greater interest in our courts. They are open to the public for a reason. Students need to visit them and understand what the burdens are on courts, and how our civil justice system can be improved. When I ask assemblies of students if they have ever visited a court as a spectator, hardly one in ten raise a hand.

Courts should not be places of case overloads and long delays. They should be welcoming temples of justice where judge and jurors engage in reasoned deliberation for the advancement of justice as part of a functioning democracy. The demands for justice are such in our country that courts should have more judges, more juries and more trials.

As the great judge, Learned Hand, wisely wrote “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.”

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

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To: Governors of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington & Wyoming

Fr: Rod Jones, Coordinator
Re: Conceptual Proposal for Secession & Creation of Allied States of Western America Da: February 17, 2017

Secession is often considered a silly or fringe idea. We hope this proposal will not appear that way and perhaps the idea may surface, if not earlier, at the next session of the Western Governors’ Association.

The proposal is spearheaded by one member of our PAC with the consent of six others (who may or may not ultimately favor this concept). PAC is a successor of the Coast Folks for Bernie Sanders that organized in October 2015 and was active with 60+ local volunteers from that time to the Democratic convention. Coast Folks operated a storefront headquarters in Fort Bragg and a smaller one in the village of Mendocino during that period. Coast Folks had a range of volunteers, most with a progressive and/or libertarian bent. None had tinfoil hats. Many were senior citizens.

It is important to underscore that the effort to float this concept and gain enough traction to merit extended conversations does not especially target President Trump. It has been evident for much of the history of our union that coherent management is often impossible from an eastern capitol and a country containing a range of regional challenges, some of which are geographically unique. His election, however, has certainly helped to underscore some of these crucial distinctions.

Such a secession might be favorably considered as a natural evolution of a nation that has done pretty well by itself but could enhance the role of government and participatory democracy by reassembly. We hope that a handful of the eleven identified states might have an interest in pushing the envelope just a bit by engaging citizens in a spirited discussion.

Progressive Alliance Center Mendocino
Democracy for All
P.O. Box 189
Mendocino, CA 95460

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RHODODENDRON PROPAGATION Saturday, March 18, 10:00am to 12:00pm

Learn how to grow rhododendrons from seed and cuttings with hands-on demonstrations from 10:00am to 12:00pm in the Gardens Meeting Room with Dennis McKiver, President of the American Rhododendron Society’s Noyo Chapter. Since rhododendrons are relatively difficult to propagate the techniques you learn in class can be applied to the propagation of many other plants. Plus take one or more rhody cuttings to root at home!  Class costs $20 for members of the Gardens and Master Gardeners; $30 for non-members. Please note, all workshop fees are non-refundable unless the workshop has been canceled or rescheduled by the Gardens.

Class size is limited; sign up by phoning in your payment at 707-964-4352 ext. 16 or reserve your spot in person at The Garden Store at MCBG.

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There are some interesting broadband-related things happening that I wanted to update you on.

Here's a quick update on the California Public Utilities Commission proceeding to which Mendocino County is party to.

Very quick background on our involvement:

We had major outages in 2014 and 2015; Supervisors wanted to do something about outages and joined this proceeding; PUC Commissioner Sandoval held a public participation hearing in Ukiah in July where we had great participation and input; the Commission passed a favorable decision (despite outcry and strong opposition from the carriers) to our county in December 2016 with requirements for incumbents (AT&T, Frontier, Comcast etc to follow); 2 commissioner's terms ended on the PUC (including Commissioner Sandoval) despite our efforts to get them another term; 2 new commissioners assigned by the Governor.


The carriers submitted a request for a 6-month delay in the implementation of the requirements to the PUC; Mendocino submitted a letter of opposition to the delay; PUC granted the delay.

Carriers submitted a request for a "stay" of the requirements of the decision (while they file for a rehearing on the decision) - no response from PUC yet.

Carrier's submitted a request for a "rehearing" of the decision on Feb 3; Mendocino responds to this "rehearing" request on Feb 22 by signing onto TURNs very excellent response; no PUC decision yet.

So, we hope that our "victory" will stand and the proceeding can move into a Phase 2, but we'll see.  You can find all the relevant documents on our website (scroll down)

4  "gut and amend" bills to re-authorize the state broadband infrastructure program were introduced into the most recent legislative session. The hope is that one of these bills might be crafted into legislation that makes for a solid program and can also get the 2/3 vote needed to pass.  Here's some info on these these bills -

Our next Alliance meeting is coming up on Friday March 3rd at the Community Foundation in Ukiah.  Watch for the agenda next week, but one topic for discussion might be e-rate.  I hope you can join us! And remember that call-in participation is also welcome.


Trish Steel
Find us on Facebook!

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by Dan Bacher

In all of the intense media coverage of Oroville Dam spillway fiasco over the past couple of weeks, the mainstream media haven’t yet discussed the real issue behind the disaster: corporate control of California water politics.

The reason why state officials and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ignored a previous warning by Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba River Citizens League that the emergency spillway is not armored (concrete reinforced) and extensive erosion would take place if the emergency spillway was used is not just because of incompetence or negligence.

I believe it is because Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown spent all of their energy and money over the past decade into promoting the water bond and Delta Tunnels, rather than repairing and fixing existing infrastructure such as the Oroville Dam spillway, at the behest of corporate agribusiness interests and the Metropolitan Water District.

During and after the Proposition 1 water bond campaign in the fall of 2014, the mainstream media and so-called “alternative” media refused to report on corporate and billionaire funding for the water bond, Prop. 1. As far as I know, I was one of the few, if not the only one, who reported on this huge story about Big Money domination of the water bond campaign.

Why is this? My belief is that most mainstream media outlets are scared about opening a window into who really controls California and its water, the same type of 1 percenters and corporate interests who own the establishment media.

These are the same media outlets that steadfastly refused to accurately report on the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s creation of questionable “marine protected areas” in California under the helm of a big oil lobbyist.

November 4, 2017, a key day in recent California water history, will be the third anniversary of the passage of Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown’s controversial $7.12 billion water bond. This is the measure that fishing groups, California Indian Tribes, grassroots conservation groups and environmental justice advocates strongly opposed  because they considered it to be a water grab for corporate agribusiness and Big Money interests.

Throughout the campaign, Proposition 1 opponents warned voters that the water bond would do little to address California’s water problems, including maintaining and upgrading infrastructure such as the spillways at Oroville.

As Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, said in the fall of 2014,  Prop. 1 "is a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Now that the Oroville Dam spillway crisis is in the media spotlight, I believe it is crucial to once again review the massive amount of money dumped by billionaires and corporate interests on Proposition 1 and 2 because it provides a quick and necessary snapshot of the Big Money interests behind the questionable environmental policies of Brown and his predecessors that have inevitably led to the neglect of the Oroville Dam facilities and other water infrastructure.

Proponents of Proposition 1 contributed a total of $21,820,691 and spent a total of $19,538,153 on the successful campaign. The contributors were a who’s who of Big Money interests in California, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry and the California Chamber of Commerce.

Guess who was one of the major contributors to the Prop. 1 campaign? Yes, Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of The Wonderful Company and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000.

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, contributed $850,000 to the campaign, including the $150,000 donated by Resnick. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000, the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000 and California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing Delta Tunnels – and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign was Sean Parker, who contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the controversial Gap stores, collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. They also own the Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company, formerly the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO), more than half a million acres of redwood forest lands in total.

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. The Gap become notorious among labor and human rights advocates for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World to produce its clothes.

In a major conflict of interest, Robert Fisher profits by logging North Coast forests while he serves as co-chair of a little-known cabinet-level body in Sacramento called the “California Strategic Growth Council (SGC),” according to reporter Will Parrish in the East Bay Express.


“Enacted by the state legislature in 2008, the SGC is a cornerstone of Governor Jerry Brown’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” Parrish wrote. “The panel has the broad and unprecedented mandate of coordinating implementation of California’s climate change prescriptions across all levels of state government, while also preparing the state to accommodate a projected population of 50 million by the year 2050.”

“As such, Robert Fisher, whose close relationship with Brown is well-known within the corridors of the state Capitol, is not only in charge of helping set California climate change policy, but he also profits handsomely from harvesting living species that are increasingly being recognized as one of our last best hopes for forestalling the catastrophic impacts of global warming,” said Parrish.

Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Aera Energy LLC is one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state’s production, according to the company’s website.


Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown’s ballot measure committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money.

A total of eleven ballot measure campaign committees registered in support of Proposition 1 and 2, according to Ballotpedia (…_(2014)

In contrast with the $21,820,691 contributed and the $19,538,153 spent by backers of Prop. 1, opponents of the measure raised only $101,149 and spent $86,347 during the campaign.

To put that in perspective, note that just one big grower, Stewart Resnick, contributed $150,000 to the Prop. 1 campaign, more than all of the opponents combined. And Resnick wasn’t even one of the top 23 donors, with Sean Parker being the largest individual donor at $1,000,000!

In spite of Jerry Brown’s cynical rhetoric about “green energy” at climate conferences and his proclamations about being “the Resistance” to Donald Trump, the money spent by corporate, big money interests on the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign in 2014 reveals who really is behind the Governor’s anti-environmental policies.

Brown administration admitted it could use water bond money for Delta Tunnels

Many people voted for the proposition only because Brown said no bond funds would be used for the widely-unpopular Delta Tunnels. However, after the election, as Proposition 1 opponents expected, the Brown administration did indeed admit that it could use water bond funds for the massive tunnels project.

For example, April 2015, an administration official admitted that the state could use money from Proposition 1, the water bond, to pay for “habitat mitigation” linked to the construction and operation of the massive Delta Tunnels.

Richard Stapler, spokesman for the California Department of Natural Resources, “acknowledged that the money [for delta habitat restoration] could conceivably come from Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond that California passed last year,” according to Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle. (…)

Restore the Delta and other public trust advocates at the time slammed Governor Brown for breaking his campaign promise that bond money wouldn’t be used to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the tunnels, a $67 billion project designed to export Sacramento River water to agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations. (…)

Then on August 10, 2016, the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to conduct an audit into funding for the tunnels, as requested by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman and state Senator Lois Wolk. It will be interesting to see what this audit turns out, including possible use of Prop. 1 money to fund planning for the Delta Tunnels, now called the “California WaterFix.”

The vote for the audit was spurred by the  U.S. Department of Interior’s Inspector General’s opening of  an investigation into the possible illegal use of millions of dollars by the California Department of Water Resources in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Delta tunnels Plan. The investigation resulted from a complaint that the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed on the behalf of a U. S. Bureau of Reclamation employee on February 19, 2016.

The complaint, made public in a statement from PEER on  April 11, details how a funding agreement with DWR is “illegally siphoning off funds that are supposed to benefit fish and wildlife to a project that will principally benefit irrigators” under the California Water Fix, the newest name for the Delta Tunnels Plan.

While mainstream media covered both the audit and the federal investigation into the tunnels funding, they and most “alternative” media outlets completely failed to report on the much bigger issue of the Big Money, $21,820,691, behind the passage of Proposition 1. The same thing is now occurring in the current mainstream media coverage of the Oroville Dam crisis.

Governor Jerry Brown and administration officials, now under scrutiny 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 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. Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?”


Donations to Yes on Prop. 1 & 2 Campaign:

The committees and money raised for the Yes on 1 and 2 campaign are as follows: 

California Business Political Action Committee, Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce: $1,169,500 

Wetlands Conservation Committee, Sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and The Nature Conservancy, Yes on Prop. 1: $265,000  

Conservation Action Fund – Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 – Sponsored by Conservation Organizations: $1,042,526   

Sac. Valley Water & Rice for Prop 1: $72,356 

Brown; Yes on Props 1 and 2 A Bipartisan Coalition of Business, Labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor: $17,690,658     

Think Long Committee, Inc., Sponsored by Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 & 2 (Non-Profit 501(C)(4)): $250,000  

Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2 (Non-Profit 501 (C) (6)): $100,000 

NRDC Action Fund California Ballot Measures Committee – Yes on Prop. 1: $12,653

Southern California District Council of Laborers Issues PAC $203,662     

Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coaltion Issues PAC – Yes on Props 1 and 2: $842,896 

The California Conservation Campaign: $171,440

These committees raised a total of $21,820,691 and spent a total of $19,538,153.     

Top 23 Contributors to Prop. 1 and 2 Campaign:

Brown for Governor 2014    $5,196,529

Sean Parker    $1,000,000

John Doerr    $875,000

California Alliance for Jobs – Rebuild California Committee    $533,750

The Nature Conservancy    $518,624

California Hospitals Committee    $500,000

Doris F. Fisher    $499,000

Health Net    $445,600

Robert Fisher    $400,000

John Fisher      $351,000

Aera Energy LLC    $250,000

California American Council of Engineering Companies    $250,000

California Farm Bureau Federation    $250,000

California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems    $250,000

Dignity Health    $250,000

Kaiser Permamente    $250,000

Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC    $250,000

Reed Hastings    $250,000

SW Regional Council Of Carpenters    $250,000

Think Long Committee, Inc.    $250,000

Western Growers Service Corporation $250,000

William Fisher    $250,000



  1. Lazarus February 24, 2017

    Get ready California, Oregon, Washington and other states that have legal MaryJane. Trump allegedly takes names and kicks ass. He blames the West Coast for his lack of a popular vote victory…He is going to get even, and if the dope can expedite things, so be it. The party could be over, Hell, when I moved in you got 10 years and lost your property…
    As always,

  2. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    First page headline in today’s Sacramento Bee – ‘Trump officials plan crackdown on pot for recreational use’.

  3. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    Guardian today: “Israel denies visa to staff from ‘hostile’ Human Rights Watch”. Not a surprise, apartheid countries do not like outsiders reporting on the human abuse that occurs in in their country.

  4. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    When I start my read of the news in the morning I usually start with the Guardian. Always update news on climate change as well as other news not reported elsewhere. Such as the 650 mile trench dug by the Kurds.

  5. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    Had my laugh for the day: I was surfing the morning TV news and a reporter was talking to farmers in the Central Valley who voted for Trump. They suddenly realized they may not have any migrant workers to harvest their crops (1/4 of the food in the U. S. comes from California). Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

    • Betsy Cawn February 24, 2017

      Uh, duh.

    • Harvey Reading February 24, 2017

      One quarter of what? How much wheat is CA growing these days? Or other cereal grains? The Midwest still feeds the country. CA grows some fruits and nuts, mainly, along with some meat. Don’t worry, though, CA ag will get its slave labor. Money talks, even to Donald Trump.

  6. Betsy Cawn February 24, 2017

    Dan Bacher’s detailed indictment of heavy-weight political perversion illustrates handily explicates the misuse of public funds for environmental exploitation at our expense. Long live the Fish Sniffer!

  7. Laurel Davies February 24, 2017

    Blackbird can not be as terrible as the article suggests. I looked them up online. It claims they have nine horses for the kids to ride, a working organic farm, goat and sheep cheeses.

    • Bruce Anderson February 24, 2017

      It’s the owner who’s the problem, and last summer the kids painted one of the horses, which might be considered animal abuse some places. The point of the place is money for Mr. Hall.

  8. Bill Pilgrim February 24, 2017

    RE: Objective news. The center hasn’t held. The Guardian is perhaps the slowest slipping into an unspoken editorial bias toward the neoliberal, globalist status quo. The BBC (“the beeb”) is hopelessly compromised…simply a mouthpiece for Fleet Street, NATO, and the dying shades of western imperialism.

    • sohumlily February 24, 2017

      The NYRB has awful writers of propaganda like Tim Snyder and Masha Gessen.
      I cancelled my sub when the coup in the Ukraine was going on.

      Amy Goodman is, indeed, terrible.

      Agree about the Guardian above (new management in the last year).

      I like the Intercept. Glenn Greenwald drops the ball occasionally, but overall, pretty insightful.

      Also a recent addiction for me is Naked Capitalism. A lot of finance, which I’m ignorant about, but the 2 daily features are “Links” in the am then “Water Cooler” in the afternoon have lots of links to outside ‘news’ sites. The commentariat is excellent, and I’ve learned a bunch.

    • Russ Rasmussen February 24, 2017

      I gave up when I.F. Stone died…

    • George Hollister February 24, 2017

      There is no objective news. Nada, none. All news is someone’s, or some group’s version of alternative facts. The best that can be expected, is some degree of balance, an attempt to give more than one view point. Being sincere is important, as well. The AVA is full of left wing BS, but they are sincere about it. On the other hand, RT television has a lot of made up programing that, I have to assume, Russia knows is BS, but they are putting it out there for cynical reasons.

      What is good today, is there are a bunch of view points, overtly expressed in media. Not like the old days, when all the MSM was one view, that was sold and bought, as being impartial. Which of course it wasn’t, and couldn’t be.

      Personally, I like Bret Baier, Special Report. Good discussion there, and at times some insightful interviews. The AVA is good for local stuff. The best. Though I have friends who detest the paper, and let me know about it, too.

  9. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    In regards to the comments about the sheriff participating with ICE on undocumented persons held in the county jail I gather there is no sanctuary activity in Mendocino County. Not so in Sacramento County. I attended a couple of weeks ago the Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT) Clergy Caucus meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to become a sanctuary congregation.
    At the meeting there was probably about 50 attenders – clergy and friends of various religious groups. In addition also discussed was solidarity congregations – a religious group whose facilities are inadequate to care for an undocumented person. They will “adopt” a sanctuary congregation and provide food, money and person support.
    Since the meeting the City of Sacramento which is a sanctuary city and stated they will not provide any police support to ICE. A different situation with the sheriff who is an elected official and a Trump supported. However the Board of supervisors (SOB) approves his budget and appear to supportive of the sanctuary movement. Also, they are not happy with him due to multi-million suits resulting from his ‘relationships’ with female employees.

  10. Jim Updegraff February 24, 2017

    Harvey: “CA just grows some fruits and nuts” – give me a break – we also grow corn. wheat, alfalfa, grapes, lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, celery artichokes, carrots, etc. etc. Harvey – you ever been to Salinas County, Monterey County, the Central Valley? Do you know the total value of the crops in CA? The value of the annual exports?

    • Harvey Reading February 24, 2017

      Look up the figures at USDA for CA and compare them against total production in the U.S. CA grows almost no cereal crops. The state–Dept. of Finance–has always inflated CA ag figures, and I never trusted them, always going to USDA or Commerce.

      The actual figure for crops is probably $25 to $30 billion annually, which is a pittance compared to a GNP of around $1.3 trillion. The total ag production figures, which is somewhat larger, include livestock, timber and commercial fishing, by the way. When I left in 2002, crops were still about $14 billion, so I truly question any figure for crops that is much more than the one I chose at the beginning of this paragraph. The federal numbers used to be broken down into the components, like crops, that make up the the gross figure in state domestic product breakdowns at Dept. of Commerce.

      I’ll grant that CA grows a fair amount of truck crops, but, for instance, the carrots I buy come from Colorado, the apples, which I don’t buy, come from Washington, etc., but I’d have to be presented with evidence to believe the Bee assertions.

      When a newspaper makes a broad statement, such as the one you quoted from the Bee–noted for carrying water for big ag–one needs to ask just what the statement means. Is it based on some real measure that includes all ag commodities, such as tons of production? Is that measure uniform across the crops, that is to ask, are some crops still measured in other terms, like bushels? If so, what adjustments or conversions were applied that allows one reach a broad conclusion such as the paper reached? In short, is it true or is it propaganda?

      Considering cereal grains for example, CA production is not even a drop in the bucket compared to national production. And those commodities are the basis for much of our food supply, including meat.

      Another element that deserves consideration are subsidies, especially water storage and conveyance subsidies–welfare paid by the general taxpayer at both state (State Water Project) and federal (Central Valley Project) levels. Those subsidies mean that people who may chose not to consume foods from corporate ag pay for them anyway, and those who do are paying more for them than the price at grocery stores would suggest.

      • Harvey Reading February 24, 2017

        GNP in second paragraph should be “state domestic product” or whatever the economists call it these days.

      • Harvey Reading February 24, 2017

        Crops were up to about $22 billion about 6 years ago.

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