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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017

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AT OR BELOW FREEZING TEMPS prevailed over most of Mendocino County Saturday night. Cold overnight temps will continue for the next few rain-free days into next week when another chance of a light showers next Sunday will be accompanied by somewhat warmer overnight temps.

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THE SCRAPPY ANDERSON VALLEY PANTHERS lost a tough one in Fremont Saturday night to the California School for the Deaf (CSD), 56-49. The game was part of the North Coast Section’s Les Schwab Tires Boys Basketball championship series that the Panthers did well to get into. All-in-all a creditable season for the well-coached Panthers who began the year with a mostly inexperienced squad.

UPDATE: THE GIRL PANTHERS also lost their quarterfinal basketball championship game Saturday night to Emery High School (Emeryville, CA), 60-34. Congratulations to the team, and Coach Sanchez, for making it that far.

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THE FOLLOWING exchange between a Fort Bragg woman and Supervisor Gjerde may herald the beginning of a long overdue discussion on the realities of transients as they impact Fort Bragg and Ukiah:

Dear Supervisor Gjerde:

"Heartfelt thanks for your time and efforts regarding this important issue. My own feelings on how to deal with the homeless problem are deeply influenced by growing up hearing my father's stories of his years riding the rails during the Great Depression. His travels, beginning in North Dakota and leading him to settle permanently in Oregon, had one goal---finding work, and going in search of work. There were no handouts, nor did he want them. He was young and fit, willing and able to harvest wheat, or do construction, work as a short order cook, whatever he could find. He became a very successful businessman in Portland, and taught his kids to be independent and always do their best work.

"I don't see that now. Every day I see young able-bodied folks, mostly men, loitering, getting high or drunk in public, and expecting three free meals, free dogs and dog food, clothing, tents and sleeping bags. No wonder our county has a disproportionate number of what my dad would call lazy bums. We have created a culture of dependence, without motivation or consequences. This needs to change. One program that helped during the Depression was the WPA, which fed and sheltered people while they learned practical job skills. Many outstanding landmarks, like Timberline Lodge in Oregon, to name one, were built and furnished by WPA workers. This was a federal program, but see no reason why it couldn't be emulated on the state, county, or municipal level.

"I was going to add that the only Emergency Weather Shelter available to men like dad on his travels were local jails. And in winter from the Dakotas to the coast, it was sub zero weather, and a cell seemed pretty cosy. Being a hobo was a crime, ditto riding in a boxcar. They got beat up by the railroad's 'bulls' too, but he was a good boxer. I got pretty tired of his tales sometimes because it always ended up with how cushy we kids had it in comparison.

"A few other ideas:

Work for food. No work, no food, for the able-bodied.

Stricter enforcement by police of municipal regulations.

Criminal background checks of anyone seeking financial aid, and/or services like food and shelter. This would not violate anyone's rights, if enforced consistently, and without exception, as done by CHP.

The transients coming to Fort Bragg are drawn by the free meals, etc mentioned previously, not for work. Job opportunities here are very very limited now.

I have raised two sons to be independent men, and trained many dogs, using motivations and consequences. I think these old-fashioned ethics should be respected and revived by our County and City governments; they are the best way to turn this serious situation around, beginning at the local level. We came to the Coast 43 years ago, this is our home, but I no longer feel secure living near Fort Bragg, and find trips to town depressing, sometimes disgusting, and often, at age 70, I feel vulnerable to this influx of strangers. Problems began in Fort Bragg with the grant-getting machine encouraged by many years under Dave Turner, his cronies, and paid staff. Millions of dollars for homeless programs have been wasted while attracting an ever-growing number of takers.

We need a change.

Sorry to run on at length, and

Thanks again for your hard work on our behalf."


"Thank you for taking the time to meet this morning to discuss a wide range of concerns about homeless services here on the Coast, and in other areas of Mendocino County.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm using this email as part of my follow-up on the issues we discussed, as well as to begin a follow-up on the issues raised by other coast residents who are receiving copies of this.

As discussed this morning, I share the concern that the Mendocino Coast and Mendocino County has the second-highest per capita population of homeless residents of any community in our country, at least as estimated by the national time and place count. By any measure, this large population is placing great stress on the year-round residents of Fort Bragg, our businesses, and community services, as well as some of the other communities in Mendocino County.

As promised, here is the information about the homeless housing in Ukiah:

18 bunk beds for men, at the Ford Street Project's emergency shelter:

Rooms accommodating 3-4 families, at the Ford Street Project's emergency shelter

40 bunk beds for men and women enrolled in Ford Street Project's substance abuse treatment program:

20 bunk beds for men and women who have graduated from Ford Street Project's substance abuse treatment program

15 apartments for men and women, also operated by Ford Street Project:

44 beds at the extreme weather emergency shelter, filled to capacity 7 days a week and managed for the last two Winters by MCAVHN:

On the concern that someone is purchasing one-way bus tickets to send homeless people to the Coast, I don't yet have a definitive answer on this, and tracking this down could take some time. After our meeting this morning, however, I was able to talk with a deputy director with County government, and she should be in a position to know what County departments are doing. She reported that the County does purchase MTA tickets, but tickets are purchased for specific clients who have very specific travel needs, like cross-town travel to attend appointments. She did not see how inland clients could use County-issued MTA tickets for local rides and apply them for more expensive MTA trips to the Coast. On very rare occasions, she has signed off on a round-trip bus ticket for a client who had an inland appointment, but she said such a ticket was very rare. I have also left a message with the manager of MTA. When we talk, I will ask her if anyone other than the County is purchasing tickets that could be handed out in an effort to send people to the Coast. I will also talk to any MTA driver who believes he/she has carried passengers who were given free passage to the Coast.

On the accounting of funds: County staff agrees the County should be provided audits for each organization that is running the inland and coast winter shelters. While they have no doubt the County's contribution only covers a portion of the cost of operating these seasonal shelters, the County needs to be sure the County's limited funds are leveraged as effectively as possible. The County fully expects it will receive this information for review, but it may not occur until after this winter's shelters cease operation in mid-April.

Moving forward, we discussed several tools that the County and the City could use together to alter services in Fort Bragg, as well as create consequences for people who violate codes of conduct in Fort Bragg. In the next week or two I hope to talk with each of the city council members (without violating the open meeting law) to explore ideas that could help.

Thank you for contacting me. I hope we can bring about some changes. Please stay in contact.

Dan Gjerde

THE FOLLOWING was posted to the MCNlistserv this morning:

"My neighbor a block away on the same street in north Fort Bragg called and mentioned that his neighbor came across someone in their back yard several weeks ago and chased the man off without filing a report and that his own home on the corner of Bush and McPherson Street was broken into between 10AM and noon when the occupants were at work.

A crow bar was used and electronic equipment and jewelry was taken; it appeared that access was via the alley. Please be watchful and report suspicious activity.

There is a great deal of foot traffic in this end of town with the destination appearing to be the food bank, as evidenced by persons walking past with boxes and bags of food items.

There is also loitering and camping (in a shed in the backyard of the house in back of the car wash at the corner of Pine Street Street and N.Main.)

I have business in that area and often see people sacking in the vans at sundown or exiting in the morning, dogs in tow. In fact, recently one dog approached me aggressively as I was exiting a building next door.

The shed in the yard contains some type of stove--evidenced by smoke pouring from the openings along the rafters. The smell of burning diesel is what first alerted us.

Several weeks ago there was a large bon fire in the back yard, noise from breaking boards and boisterous calling out between participants after 7 p.m. Not a moderate respectful "warming" fire. There were popping explosions coming from the fire that sounded like gunshots, or exploding cans.

In general the property is an eyesore and nuisance. I called the fire department regarding acrid smoke billowing forth, and was told that a warming fire in order to heat food is acceptable. It was promised that a department representative would be out to check on the situation.

After 45 minutes, no one had shown up to perform an inspection. I was in the vicinity in the evening yesterday and watched an individual stagger down the alley to the property and disappear amid the trailers, vans, shed and junk.

It seems that the owner of that property has created a transient / homeless shelter with substandard housing and inadequate health and safety measures in place. This post is meant as a status check on the state of the streets of north Fort Bragg."

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by K.C. Meadows

Law enforcement officials in Mendocino County are reassuring the Hispanic community that they do not intend to cooperate with any federal sweeps for undocumented immigrants if they come to town.

But at least one law enforcement official thinks moving publicly to declare Safe Havens or Sanctuaries may be a mistake.

Sheriff Tom Allman said Friday he agrees with the sentiments of a number of county sheriffs that “sheriffs are not inclined, nor do they have the resources or personnel, to conduct front-line immigration enforcement duties” and they don’t want local people to be afraid to ask for help from law enforcement if they need it.

“In other words, if the federal government comes in, we are not going to be on the front line at all,” Allman said.

However, Allman said he wants to be notified that federal agents are in town and he wants one of his own deputies to accompany them wherever they go so that if something goes wrong, he has a department witness to what happened.

“I want to make it clear that the sheriff will not participate in any sweeps.” Allman pointed out that anyone who gets arrested, immigrant or not, has his or her fingerprints sent to the federal Department of Justice. That won’t change, Allman said.

But he added, “We will only hold someone on immigration charges if we have a signed warrant from a federal magistrate. A phone call will not hold an illegal immigrant.”

Allman noted that this is not a new policy.

“Our policy is no different. Public safety is our job. Whether someone is a violent citizen or a violent non-citizen we will arrest them.”

City of Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey says he worries about possible federal action in our community since 30 to 40 percent of local residents are Hispanic.

“I understand the Hispanic population is a large part of our community. I have instructed my officers to contact me immediately if they have any contact with a federal agency,” Dewey said Friday.

“We’ve always taken a stance that only in the most serious of felony cases, like murder or sexual assault, involving undocumented immigrants, we have utilized federal resources to assist us. On a day-to-day basis we have not, and will not, be working with federal authorities on investigations of undocumented immigrants,” Dewey said.

There is some discussion in town and among city officials as to whether the city should declare itself a “Sanctuary City,” something that is broadly defined as a place where undocumented immigrants would be safe from law enforcement. The term appears to have no concrete definition, and cities considering it are also wondering if making a declaration means putting a neon sign in front of federal enforcement officials.

The Ukiah Unified School District last week declared its schools Safe Havens for children of undocumented local residents.

Most state schools, including Mendocino County schools, do not ask for or record immigration status of students. UUSD Superintendent Debra Kubin said that while the district would have to obey any signed orders or warrants to see files, she thinks the message should be that local children should not have to worry that they or their parents are going to be deported.

“I have heard instances, and personally as well, that kids are afraid their parents are going to be detained and their parents are going to be deported. Or that they themselves are going to be returned to Mexico. They’ve said to friends, ‘You may not see me; I may have to go back to Mexico.’ They’re really scared.”

Allman, however, thinks the school district may have made a mistake.

“I personally believe that the community can accomplish a lot more when they have not become a lightning rod,” he said. Allman believes that the schools and local governments could quietly communicate with the Hispanic community that they plan to follow the laws — which require signed warrants and prohibit schools from disclosing information anyway — rather than take loud public stands.

“I think the school board should have at least talked to the Sheriff’s Office, because we are the ones who enforce the laws here. The fact is, they can’t legally keep a federal agent off campus. What they’re doing is rattling their saber and becoming a lightning rod, when all we have to do is respect the laws that are already on the books and accomplish the exact same thing.”

“Emotions can scare people and emotions can calm people,” Allman continued. “By declaring a school district a Safe Haven they’re creating emotions on all sides, and there are 20 sides to this conversation. The very people the school people are trying to protect become more scared.”

Allman said it’s important to remember that historically, federal agents do not come to town and do not bother with undocumented immigrants unless they have committed a violent crime. He said he has been told that there are only three federal immigration agents posted between Pleasanton, Calif. and the Oregon border. He said there have been no visits to the county by federal immigration teams recently, despite some panicked Facebook posts.

“One of the things we’ve received from federal agents is requests to hold an individual after their time of incarceration (at the county jail). We didn’t, we aren’t, nor will we, hold any individual unless we have a signed warrant from a federal magistrate. If federal agents want to be there when they’re released from jail OK, but I have never seen that happen,” he said.

“We could use our rural county status to our advantage. Just do our business, and if someone breaks the law, they get arrested.” Allman said federal agents, even with fingerprints in hand, have only ever come after violent offenders.

“With all the illegal immigrants we have had in custody on marijuana charges, I’m not aware of a single one picked up by immigration,” he said.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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(Current status the Jeffrey Settler Murder Case: So far suspects Zachary Ryan Wuester, Gary Fitzgerald, Abdirahman “Richie” Mohamed, Michael Andrew Kane, Frederick Gaestel, and now Jesse Wells have been arrested. Only Gary Blank remains at large.)

Wuester, Fitzgerald, Mohamed, Kane

On 11-11-2016 at 3:39 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were summoned to a reported man who had been murdered on a remote property located in the 49000 block of North Highway 101 in Laytonville, California. The property was a rural parcel approximately 5 miles from Highway 101, on a dirt road that traveled in a westerly direction. Deputies responded to the scene confirming there was a male adult who was obviously deceased as a result of what appeared to be a violent assault. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives were summoned to the scene, along with Investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office and Criminalists from the California Department of Justice. During the investigation it was determined the deceased male adult, Jeffrey Quinn Settler, was operating a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property. In the early morning hours of 11-11-2016 (Thursday), multiple subjects who had been recently employed by Settler as marijuana trimmers returned to the property in the middle of the night with the intent to commit robbery of processed marijuana. The investigation has revealed the subjects knew the marijuana was stored in the same structure where Settler slept and the subjects violently assaulted him during the robbery, causing his death. The subjects were believed to have fled the property in at least two vehicles and were believed to have stolen over 100 pounds of processed marijuana. The suspects were believed to have fled to Southern California or out of state. In all seven suspects were identified and subsequent felony arrest warrants were sought. Prior to 02-10-2017, four of the suspects were in custody and being prosecuted for homicide.

On 02-10-2017, at approximately 10:00 PM (PST), the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was contacted by a representative of York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office in Williamsburg, Virginia and notified that they had taken suspect Frederick Gaestel into custody on the Mendocino County arrest warrant. Initially Gaestel attempted to challenge extradition to California, however on 02-22-2017, the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office was notified that Gaestel had elected to waive extradition and he was ready to be transported to California for prosecution in a Mendocino County Superior Court for homicide.


In late 2016, Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office traveled to the Lake Tahoe area to investigate tips that suspect Jesse Cole Wells (33 year old male from Laytonville) had been frequenting local casinos. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives were assisted by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Douglas County Nevada Sheriff's Office. Evidence was discovered that Wells had indeed been in Lake Tahoe casinos, however Wells was not located at that time. Between November of 2016 and February 2017, there have been additional tips and reports to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the South Lake Tahoe Police Department regarding Wells' whereabouts.

On 02-23-2017, Wells' location was identified by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives sought a search warrant from the Mendocino County Superior Court for a residence in South Lake Tahoe (California). Sheriff's Detectives traveled to South Lake Tahoe and met with Investigators from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. Due to the violent offense for which Wells was wanted, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department served the search warrant with the assistance of their S.W.A.T. unit. Wells was taken into custody without incident at 4:00 PM on 02-24-2017 and was to be booked into the El Dorado County Jail on the Mendocino County Superior Court arrest warrant alleging homicide and robbery, in lieu of $650,000.00 bail. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives remained on scene to continue the investigation. Wells will be extradited to Mendocino County at some point where he will be prosecuted along with the five additional suspects in custody on this case at this time. This arrest was made as a result of the cooperative effort of law enforcement agencies working with concerned citizens who came forward with the information about Wells' whereabouts. Currently one suspect who is identified as Gary Blank III (34 year-old male from Garberville, California) is still at large and is believed to have fled the state of California. Any persons with information about the location of Gary Blank III is encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Investigative Services Unit at 707-463-4421, the Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100 or the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office via their Facebook page.

Gaestel (pre-arrest), Gaestel (after arrest), Blank, Wells

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PREDICTABLY, the Democrats have installed More of the Same at the top of the party: "I know that Tom Perez will unite us under that banner of opportunity," Obama said, "and lay the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leadership for this big, bold, inclusive, dynamic America we love so much."

A PARTY HACK and big Hillary backer, Perez has worked in the Justice Department and ultimately as an Obama Cabinet officer. Biden endorsed him as did Valerie Jarrett.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I got this note this morning:

‘Please don't stop posing for the AVA, L.D. You are the only fun news in the morning.’

Soooooooo… If I amuse only this one person, Arf! Arf!”

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ORANGE MAN has announced that he will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner this year, while The New Yorker and Vanity Fair had previously said they wouldn't host their usual parties for the usual collection of awful celebrities.

THIS COZY EVENT is, as most of us know, hosted by millionaire "journalists" who listen to an alleged comedian insult the president. The alleged comedian is easy on liberal presidents. Obama always got a pass, as did Bill Clinton. The alleged comedian teed off on W, the most destructive president yet — Trump squared — but the "roast" was painfully unfunny, especially given that it was a series of insults the craven media wouldn't dare say themselves, so they pay the alleged comedian a hundred grand to do it for them. The thing is televised because, apparently, lots of people think it's interesting, funny even. You can hardly blame Orange Man, universally despised by these people who are themselves gloriously despicable, for not showing up.

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DEPUTY MASSEY'S account of Marine Corps boot camp brought back my memories of the same experience. Massey's account is the first I've read, other than my own, of what's really involved. Or was involved. I've asked kids coming out of boot camp if the Marines are still beating recruits as part of the training; they say No. Thing of the past.


"Boot Camp was tough. Almost a third of my platoon didn't even make it through. You are kicked and beaten and set to ridiculous tasks and you really had to perform. Some of the guys in my platoon were in the Marines because otherwise they would have gone to jail. I've always been a physical person, born and raised in the woods, ran around a lot. So it wasn't as difficult for me as some of the others. But there were certainly times when I said to myself, this is the most tired I have ever been in my life, on the verge of collapsing. But then you find that one little breath to keep going. The obstacle course. The confidence course. The mud, the ropes, the crawling under the boards and the wires, up and down, people shouting ‘Move! Move! Move!’ We also had to fight other guys with pugil sticks and in hand-to-hand combat. Basically how to kill people…"

YEP. It was a monstrous experience, like suddenly being plunged into 15 weeks of physical torture you had no idea was part of the program. You expected to be constantly insulted and pushed to the limits physically, but you weren't prepared to be beaten up most days, and we all were. (The insults were funny, but it was dangerous to laugh. Californians were routinely "California queers," and one day staff sergeant Wells called us "a bunch of syphilitic misfucks sent to sabotage my Marine Corps.") Waterboarding is worse, to name a popular modern torture, but imagine having to stand at attention while a psychopath beats on you and assaults you in ways you'd never heard of, let alone experienced.

For me, and the other tall guys in the platoon, the worst was being knocked unconscious by a drill instructor twisting our collars until we couldn't breathe and dropped at his feet. And knowledge knocks. They were applied by repeated knuckles to the forehead until your head swelled out like a goose egg. It was twice as bad for the tough guys in the platoon. They had to fight tough guys from other recruit platoons at night while the DI's bet on them. The lack of sleep, the constant running long distances in all your gear, push-ups all day were exhausting, but it was the beatings that put murder in your heart, and it wasn't the murder of the enemy we dreamed of. The point, as it has been explained, is to instill instant, robotic obedience to orders. Like Massey's experience, we started with 77 guys, at the end of the process there were 33 of us who'd started out together. The 44 dropouts had sense to quit, one way or the other.

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ATTENTIVE READERS will remember Darwin Bond-Graham’s work for the AVA. On April 7th, in New York, Darwin and his co-writer, Ali Winston, will be honored as recipients of this year's Polk Award. Popularly regarded as second only to receiving a Pulitzer, the Polk goes back to 1948 in honor of a journalist who was killed in the Greek Civil War. Past recipients, to name a few, include Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Eric Servereid, Woodward and Bernstein, New York Times, Washington Post. The Pulitzer, in our opinion, goes too often to the undeserving, the Polk Award goes to genuinely good work. Bond-Graham has roots in the Anderson Valley where he spends many weekends with his family at Rancho Navarro.

PS. Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston have also been selected as 2017 recipients for the above award, to be presented at The City Club, San Francisco on March 22nd. Specifically for Investigative Reporting:

"Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston overcame numerous obstacles to publish one of the biggest stories of 2016, an expose of the Oakland Police Department's sexual exploitation of a minor and related misconduct, which made national headlines. Bond-Graham and Winston used public records, social media research and persistence to illustrate how OPD brass ignored the abuse. The journalists also weathered a leak investigation into possible sources of their reporting, and scrupulously protected the privacy of the victim even when other outlets published her name."

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 25, 2017

Britton, Diaz, Donahe, Hannah

LEONARD BRITTON JR., Covelo. Probation violatioin.

JESSICA DIAZ, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, under influence, paraphernalia, suspended license.

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

PAUL HANNAH, Nice/Ukiah. Meth for sale, controlled substance, offenses while on bail.

Hughes, Janes, Maynard, Mitchell


JEFFERY JANES, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.

ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

RILEY MITCHELL, Fort Bragg. Embezzlement.

Ritter, Saavedra, Sherman

GEOFFREY RITTER, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

MARC SAAVEDRA, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, child endangerment.

ASHLEY SHERMAN, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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Dear Mr. Jonathan Middlebrook,

I'm writing to you in your capacity as the Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (MCPB) Board of Directors, Elections Coordinator.

I'm also writing as a candidate for the Board of Directors. My donation of $37 in 2016 ($25 is the "simple living" threshold) along with my previous Board experience (my term expired in March, and qualifies as an in-kind donation) both qualified me as a candidate. Additionally, I submitted my application and candidate statement before the deadline.

That said, in years past, it was the practice for MCPB to post candidates' statements on its website, then to subsequently host a candidates debate, live and on-air, from our Philo studio. The debate allowed members to call or email questions to candidates.

For non-profits like MCPB, that are are also member-driven, I believe these practices fall squarely in the realm of "best business practices". Our governance model is strengthened by disclosure, transparency, and member engagement and participation.

This year, I've heard nothing about either the website posting or the debate.

So my question is the following: Do you plan on continuing these practices during this 2017 Board elections cycle?

Finally, one issue I hope candidates bring up in a debate is an issue of accountability-- specifically, the station's IRS Form 990s. You should be aware that there are wide variations in assets reported as equipment valued under 'Land, Buildings and Equipment' on Schedule D.

The values reported in this line item on Schedule D on our Form 990s vary greatly for several tax years without explanation. This would imply a diversion of assets. Any diversion greater than 5% of MCPB's assets could signal embezzlement, fraud, or an unauthorized use of MCPB's assets. In cases where a diversion of assets is the result of the activities of a person who can substantially influence the organization, like the General Manager, there could also be an adverse impact on the organization's tax-exempt status or penalty taxes.

I can emphatically tell you that oversight procedures should be in place for everyone, including those who manage and govern the association -- and this was not the case during the three years I served as an MCPB Board Director from 2013-2016 and Board Treasurer in 2014. In fact, MCPB's financials were never shared with me before they were filed.

I will be asking the Center for Association Leadership at the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) for guidance in this matter, regardless of the outcome of the election.

Ultimately, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has the authority to investigate CPB initiatives and operations for issues of fraud, waste, and abuse. OIG criminal investigations can include false statements, audit obstruction, destruction of records -- all of which I believe may be issues at MCPB. Note that most of our financials and other public documents have disappeared in MCPB's new website.

The above should be issues raised not only in the candidates debate but also at Board meetings.

I am copying our GM and Board Chair on this email.

Thank you.

Yours very truly,

John Sakowicz

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by Robert Becker & Katy Pye

We didn’t install a home solar system because it was a brilliant, money-saving investment.

True, federal tax credits ease the pain of buying solar outright, and yes, we greatly reduced monthly PG&E costs. We are delighted to escape inevitable per kilowatt rate hikes for decades to come. Increasingly, alternative energy provides tens of thousands of jobs nationally. And the professional, responsive folks at Mendocino Solar made transitioning to solar a breeze.

However, two more significant frames, both personal and ecological, drove our decision. They address nothing less than the past, the present, and everyone's future:

to offset accumulated, individual carbon footprints.

to confirm that individuals can stand for sustainability under siege.

In short, the marvel of home solar perfectly serves our self-interest while supporting communal, even planetary interests. We all know one life draws significant, carbon-based energy from the planet’s stores. How many born into an affluent country didn’t blithely accept an inalienable right to the world's highest-energy life-style? Everything tangible that advances our comfort, growth, education and opportunity draws from what’s been a badly reimbursed energy pool.

Wouldn’t it be grand (and fair-minded) to repay a fraction of the consumption we take for granted? Symbolic yet measurable, going solar offered us the best alternative for a practical energy source for this delayed repayment goal. We admit getting positively giddy watching our meter tick off tens of thousands of pounds of CO2 saved each year.

Further, in an age plagued by ideological, anti-science climate denial, millions of people are needed to counteract this crude, dangerous propaganda. Every home or business that commits to solar (or wind or clean alternatives, plus conservation/efficiency) helps “offset” 200 years of underpaid industrial debts. Today the war that pits dirty fossil fuel (especially coal) against reason and sustainability is ramping up. Home solar represents a powerful “vote,” a huge No against reliance on fossil fuels. Solar says Yes to sustainability and No to the great oil and gas boomerang.

Certainly solar is a sensible family investment that saves money. But each solar installation makes an even more powerful statement about moral and humanistic values that support our grandchildren’s children. More than anything else we’ve found, home solar reinforces that individuals matter. All these positive values grow exponentially when millions join the brigade, adding to the constructive clamor benefiting generations to come.


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A special deal for Mendocino coast theatre-goers! See a preview performance of the Mendocino Theatre Company's production of Morning's at Seven on March 2nd or March 3rd for just $7.50! That's the same price we charged in 1987, when we first performed this heart-warming comedy! This price is available online only. To purchase your ticket, go to our website, choose your seat, and enter the code "1987" at checkout.

Find out more about Morning's at Seven, directed by Bob Cohen,

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District Teens Leadership Council

Saturday, March 18th

3 - 4 pm

Teens are invited to join the library’s Teen Leadership Council (TLC). Teen leaders can volunteer & apply for credit toward community service hours while building their résumés. Teens will have a chance to be heard & make a difference in the community.

District Teens Leaders will gain valued skills & experience:

  • Collaborating to design our new teen space
  • Planning & organizing events
  • Recommending books & other materials for library purchase
  • Developing leadership & conflict-resolution skills
  • Contributing to the Ukiah community by expanding teen resources

Come and find out if this is the group for you!

Pizza will be provided.

For more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434

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St. Patrick’s Day Stories

On Thursday, March 16th from 6pm to 7pm the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch is hosting St. Patrick’s Day Stories.

Come listen to some Celtic folktales just before bed on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day! Kids are invited to wear their pajamas and participate in a craft while Barbara Last tells stories about leprechauns and other Celtic lore. This event is free and family-friendly.

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Wendy Dewitt returns to Ukiah Library on Thursday, March 9th

Wendy DeWitt, accompanied by Kirk Harwood, is returning to Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch, on Thursday, March 9th at 6 pm, to present “Blues and Boogies Gals: Celebrating Women with 88 Keys.”

Wendy, the Queen of Boogie Woogie, is helping Ukiah Library celebrate Women’s History Month by presenting a dynamic history of the women of boogie woogie.

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Kate Marianchild reading from her book, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands, at Ukiah Library, Wednesday, March 8th at 6 pm

Ukiah author and naturalist Kate Marianchild will conduct a free reading and discussion group centered on her popular book, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California's Oaks, at the Ukiah Library on Wednesday, March 8th, at 6 pm. She will read from the book's first chapter, "Acorn Woodpecker," pausing every few paragraphs for discussion with the audience. She will have copies of her book to sign, and will also have close-focusing binoculars and oak identification cards for sale. If successful, this event may be the first of a series that would focus on a different chapter each month.

* * *

Secrets of the Oak Woodlands was published by Heyday in 2014 and has remained on Heyday's best-seller list ever since. Marianchild attributes her book's success to three factors: it conveys fascinating information in a fun, story-telling style; it reveals previously unknown marvels about the ecosystem type inhabited by the majority of Californians; and it is full of beautiful illustrations by Ann Meyer Maglinte. Secrets recently won an award as a finalist in the Science, Nature, and Environment category of the Indie First Generation Book Awards program.

Since the book's publication, Marianchild has been inundated with requests for talks and interpretive walks from around the state––from museum and park docent groups, birding festivals, California Native Plant Society chapters, garden clubs, land trusts, REI, and other organizations. She is looking forward to engaging with her local friends and community for a change of pace.

* * *


by Ben Weaver

You could rake leaves while the glaciers melt
and horses stand somewhere in a field
with the sound of wind blowing rain into their manes
you could go to a job you don’t love
and live in a house you don’t want
and sit in traffic and feel trapped watching
the eagles dive above the light posts and power lines
or you could stop raking and lay down in the dirt
with the leaves scattering around you
smelling like the coming snow
and the rattling ghosts of summer lightning
you could pick up a river and hold it to your eye
watch a turtle crawl through it
the light turbulent out of the sky beyond the bluffs.

Instead of serving these mad corporations and lawmakers
oblivious to the dew on the pigs hindquarters at morning
or the effort it takes ducks to find food after such a wet summer
you could sit round a fire next to the lake and
listen as the water carries voices from a canoe
out somewhere near the middle
back to your camp along the stony shore
and as the fire licks at the red pines
you could uncover a memory that
smells like moose hooves and orchids
wild rice hulls and trumpeter swans
and helps you to remember the millions
of invisible miracles which must occur within the sky
so that a blizzard can become a blizzard.

This memory is what the mad kings and architects
of the anthropomorphic rivers want you to forget
because if you do not remember the smell or feel of the land
then you will believe anything they tell you about it
including that it is just another body to exploit.

But if you remember the sound of waves
pulling back through the hair of beaches
or the ring of wind among icicles and sparrow caves
you have not forfeited all of your freedom and power
to the ruthlessness of modern convenience
and if you remember otters sliding across the lake at dusk
or a bear rushing back into the alder
then you also remember
that you are among the millions of tiny miracles within the sky
that allow a blizzard to become a blizzard
and if you can remember this
then you can speak sing and dream loud as thunder
for every quiet piece of land and water on this earth
because you have not forgotten
that you
not the mad kings
are the one with power.

(Ben Weaver is a songwriter and poet who travels by bicycle using relationships of all kinds to help awaken greater reciprocity between people and the land. Recent human-powered expeditions have taken him down the Mississippi River, around Lake Superior, across the Kenai Watershed in Alaska and throughout the Netherlands. Given the choice he will side with the animals, lakes, rivers and the trees. For more info please visit

* * *


My first day on the new job (as a financial analyst with a defense contractor in north Jersey) was Oct 15, 1979. I was shown to my spare gray Steelcase desk on which there were two objects, a desk pad and an Adler 121PD adding machine (calculator). This machine remained in my continuous use until I retired Feb 6, 2006 having NEVER failed and never been serviced in any way.

As I gathered my few remaining possessions that glorious Monday morning and scooped them into my black leather shoulder bag I hesitated for a brief moment and said “what the hell” and slipped the Adler into my bag as well, then headed down the GS Pkwy for that final commute into the sunset.

This amazing machine is still in daily use at my right hand to this day, some 37+ years later.

* * *

Another commenter added:

Took me awhile to source, I can top that.

When my grandmother died we were cleaning up her house and she still had that same old Electrolux canister vacuum that I remembered her having from childhood.

I have a hair brush that is almost 35 years old.

I used the same Minolta camera for about 20 years, until 2008, when film became scarce.

I sold a great table that I had for 25 years, in some ways I regret that.

I have had the same laptop for 6 years.

The same mattress for almost 15 years–a really old mattress.

* * *


Dear Friends,

In late January 2017, our KSTT colleague and Kent State FOIA lawsuit plaintiff Mike Kuzma received a CD chock full of Kent State FBI documents.

To my delight, just today, I received a link to a brand new web site that Mike has organized for all the materials amassed in his endeavor to learn more about Kent State FBI snitch Terry Norman. Here’s a link

Appreciating the simple elegance of the website, the graphics and of course the treasure trove of incredible documents, never fully available before.

On a personal note, in November 2016 I underwent amazingly successful surgery on my left eye. In early March I’ll be going for my right eye and convalescing for a couple of weeks … then ready to hit the ground running.

Looking forward to finalizing, organizing and publishing our Kent State Truth Tribunal archive online in 2017. Stay tuned ;-)

Sending love and peace,

Laurel Krause

"What's the matter with PEACE? Flowers are better than bullets." ~ Allison Krause, May 3, 1970

* * *


Dear Editor:

Football is a multi-billion dollar business both at the professional and college level. Plus at many high schools it is very important. Boys frequently begin their football career at around eight years old in Pee Wee football games. In recent years it has become painfully aware to the NFL that concussions can lead to diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or C.T.E. However, in an article published in the New York Times it reported on a study that begin several years ago with a player wearing a mouthpiece with motion sensors when hit with a blow to the head, the sensors furnished detailed information about to the brain in the milliseconds after the hit. Contrary to the assumption that after a hit the brain bounces around and bruises the outer surface, or gray matter. The scientists now say the helmet can move independently of the skull. The scientists point out the wiring in the brain runs from left to right, not front to back and they speculate the real damage occurs deeper in the brain to the white matter as a result of fibers pulling and twisting after impact. Clearly helmets as now designed do not protect the players. Scientists also think brain damage can come from minor blows. Data from a single game showed a lineman took 62 blows to the head. From just 10 of these 62 hits the G-force was an average of 25.8 which is equivalent to you crashing your car into a wall going about 30 miles an hour, It should be noted that during practice sessions these concerns also apply.

As a sidebar, I should note there was no discussion about high school football. Many of the linemen weigh 250-300 pounds and the above comments would generally apply to these players. Of concern would be small high schools like in Mendocino County where players play both offensive and defense — 124 hits. Given this information should parents concerned about the health of their sons give permission to pay football beginning with Pee Wee football and on to high school football?

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff


* * *


Several community groups are working together on a crowdfunding effort to cover the rent for the Willits Hub for year to create a space for community organizing. Willits Economic Localization (WELL), the Willits Environmental Center (WEC), and the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) are cooperating in the effort, but other groups wishing to organize at the Willits Hub would also be welcome.

The crowdfunding effort took shape when environmental writer Will Parrish offered to help secure a year’s rent at the Willits Hub during the period from March 1 through April 15. The building in question has been traditionally recognized as the Willits Environmental Center but is being re-branded to reflect the diverse activities that will now go on there. The WEC will still occupy part of the space, but the level of activity by the group no longer justifies it being the sole occupant of the building, which is near the junction of Highway 20 at 630 South Main Street.

WELL is a grassroots group that is trying to make Willits and Mendocino County truly sustainable by supporting local food production and consumption, wise transportation planning and non-destructive environmental practices. The group recently moved into the Willits Hub and looks forward to expanding its role in the community by utilizing the space and inviting new members to contribute energy there.

ERRP is an Eel River basinwide group that recently participated in and held organizing events in Willits, including their January 14 meeting to formulate a 2017 Action Plan. Local residents attending asked ERRP to consider becoming one of the occupants of the Willits Hub and to offer at least some elements of their programs there. ERRP assists citizens with aquatic monitoring and publishes reports on findings, works to protect and expand Wilderness, offers public school environmental education programs, and conducts extensive public education about sustainable farming practices.

Many events will be hosted during the course of the crowdfunding period to generate excitement and support for the crowdfunding, but also to reflect the type of activities that might go on at the location on an on-going basis. The WELL has invited Patricia Hickey of the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District to give a presentation on the evening of Thursday, March 30 on management of the mitigation lands for the Willits bypass.

Several presentations related to the ERRP mission will also be hosted. Watershed scientists from Pacific Watershed Associates will explain how to control watershed erosion and prevent water pollution. Evan Engber of BioEngineering Associates in Laytonville is one of the foremost authorities on the use of living willow to repair stream banks and he will talk about the benefit of restoring Eel River riparian zones.

On Saturday, March 17 there will an ERRP field trip to the upper Eel River within the Potter Valley Project to see steelhead guided by ERRP Managing Director and fish biologist Pat Higgins. The trip will start at the Van Arsdale Fish Station to see steelhead captured, marked and passed upstream by California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff. The group will then travel up-river to Soda Creek to possibly see steelhead spawning in the wild and visit the grassy plain above Lake Pillsbury to see hundreds of Tule Elk. On Sunday, March 18 there will be a series of presentations on fish of the Eel River basin followed by a fish feed. An event is also planned on citizen participation in water quality monitoring and about Eel River flow and water quality trends.

Another weekend during the crowdfunding period will be devoted to Wilderness with a day of presentations at the Willits Hub and another day devoted to a field trip or possibly a trail work day. An additional highlight will be a sustainable agricultural practices event that targets cannabis growers and will provide information on how to conserve water, develop living soils, and prevent erosion and pollution. Presenters will include watershed experts from Village Ecosystems and others from the sustainable cannabis movement.

For more details, including time and place of events see the WELL ( or ERRP ( websites or call (707) 459-0155.

PS. The website address for crowdfunding is a website dedicated to helping non-profits fundraise.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Salmon fishermen joined environmentalists and other public trust advocates in praising the introduction of SB 49, the California Environmental Defense Act, in the California State Senate on February 23.

The Senate leadership unveiled SB 49 as part of the Preserve California legislative package “to insulate the state from dangerous rollbacks in federal environmental regulations and public health protections” proposed by the Donald Trump administration and Congress.

SB 49, authored by Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Henry Stern (D-Agoura Hills, does the following:

  • Makes current federal clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety, and endangered species standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back and weakens those standards.
  • Directs state environmental, public health, and worker safety agencies to take all actions within their authorities to ensure standards in effect and being enforced today continue to remain in effect.
  • Federal laws in these areas set “baselines,” but allow states to adopt more stringent standards. This bill simply ensures CA does not backslide as a result of rollbacks and damage done by the new regime in Washington DC.
  • In 2003, when the Bush Administration attempted to enact similar rollbacks of federal clean air standards, the Legislature passed SB 288 (Chapter 476 statutes of 2003), the Protect CA Air Act. This measure builds on that platform.

"Salmon fishermen and women are breathing a little easier with the introduction of SB 49, the California Environmental Defense Act,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). “This bill will protect California salmon fishing jobs.”

”Mr. Trump last year declared there was no drought and promised to eliminate salmon protections,” he explained. “The former chief lobbyist for the western San Joaquin Valley Westlands Water District is the leading candidate to take over the number two spot in the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior. He's certain to push a bill in the House demanding diversion of even more northern California water needed by salmon to agribusiness in the arid western San Joaquin Valley."

“The California Environmental Defense Act protects the salmon industry and is just in time to stop the loss of anymore salmon fishing jobs. It will also go a long way towards protecting the Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast,” McManus said.

The Preserve California legislative package also includes SB 50, the Public Lands Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica), and SB 51, the Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

“The bill package establishes strong and legally enforceable baseline protections for the environment, public health, worker safety, and other areas of federal regulatory law that could be dramatically and recklessly weakened by the Trump Administration,” according to a news release from Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León. “Measures would also protect federal lands within the State of California from sale to private developers for the purpose of resource extraction; ensure federal employees are not penalized under California law for whistleblowing; and shield public information and data resources from federal censorship or destruction.”

“The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress are racing to weaken decades-old environmental and public health protections,” California Senate Leader Kevin de León said. “SB 49 makes existing federal laws – like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts – enforceable under California law, so we can preserve the state we know and love, regardless of what happens in Washington.”

“This is pretty straightforward - just common sense measures to preserve minimum safeguards for clean air and water,” Senator Henry Stern said. “We still have a ways to go to clean up our environment, but at the very least we should not be backsliding.”

For more on SB 49 see

For more information on the Preserve California legislative package, go to:

* * *


1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

—Wendell Berry, Leavings

* * *


"It's time we show the Fire Nation that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs." -Princess Yue

The recording of last night's (2017-02-24) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and enjoy via

At the beginning of the recording you'll hear the very tail end of a propaganda film about what a great favor the U.S. government did for hundreds of thousands of slanty-eyed American citizens by spiriting them away to prison camps. Also it's about how, though some of them were undoubtedly loyal to foreign powers, evidenced by their being resentful of being plucked out of their lives, most of them understood the necessity and were delighted to help out the war effort by living and working and raising their children in the desert surrounded by guard towers and machine guns and razor wire. Just the very end of that, where the announcer tells that all this was carried out kindly and humanely for a reason: that /American/ soldiers captured and imprisoned by the Axis powers might be treated well in return, and we can all go back to normal once the traitors among us have been driven out forever. Then part of an interview with George Takei (Mister Sulu in Star Trek, and Hiro Nakamura's father in Heroes, among other roles he played), who was four when he and his family were kidnapped, and who stood with other little children in a prison schoolroom and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation, with liberty and justice for all. That's just the first three minutes.

Then there's the show, of course. I did the best I could, and I even dredged up all your favorite yodels for the musical breaks. I hope you like it. There'll be another one next week, and the week after that, and so on until I get it right.

Also at you'll find directions to many non-radio though worthwhile goods that I found while putting radio shows together. Items such as:

Hands-down the most impressive music video you have ever seen, or I will eat a hat of my choosing.

A moving film of hundreds of still photos of Otto Lilienthal, the first man to really fly, really flying.

And zombie accommodation (relocation, assimilation, whatever), the reality.

— Marco McClean

* * *


by Tom Cahill

Close to my fiftieth birthday in February 1987 in a phone booth at the Safeway supermarket in the Marina of San Francisco, I made two phone calls that would change my life for the better for the next quarter century. The first was to Fay Olson who then owned Ten Mile Ranch on the Mendocino Coast of northern California.

"Can I park my truck and live in my camper on the Ranch until a place becomes available," I asked the woman who was close to my age and who I had come to know in the previous couple years through visits there while volunteering work restoring the big, old, white Victorian in "downtown" Ten Mile.

"Sure, you can park by Piggy's place," referring to a spot by the Ten Mile River where Oscar Pagart had lived for years in a former school bus. "I'll have to charge you sixty dollars or ten hours work a month," Fay added.

All along I was hoping to move to the Ranch while waiting for a Social Security disability pension for PTSD and because I was obviously blacklisted from industrial journalism. But now I was giving up waiting for the SSI to kick in and determined to wait no longer to move to a place I considered a paradise for a small boat freak like myself. The Ranch was 330 acres of gently rolling hills with a forested area sloping down to the Ten Mile Estuary.

The Ranch was/is ten miles north of the Noyo River in Fort Bragg. To this day, whenever I listen to my well-worn Anne Byrne tape "Come by the Hills," my mind's eye pictures the Ranch.

Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free

And stand where the peaks meet the sky and the loughs meet the sea

Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun

And cares of tomorrow must wait till this day is done


Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free

And sing where the birds fill the air with their joy all day long

Where the trees sway in time and even the wind sings in tune

And cares of tomorrow must wait till this day is done.


Come by the hills where legends remain

Where glories of old still the heart and may yet come again

Where the past has been lost and the future has yet to be won

But cares of tomorrow must wait till this day is done.

— Lyrics by W. Gordon Smith, 1968, best sung by Anne Byrne

* * *

In the Sixties, Joe Foresti owned the Ranch and Fay Olson and Judy Vidaver were among the first Hippy "back-to-the-landers" from San Francisco to seek refuge on the Ranch. One moved into an old unused dairy barn and the other moved into a duck hunter's cabin. Over time the word spread and other Hippies arrived at Joe's door.

The Ranch had been in Joe's family for decades but he was the last of his line. The Ranch had become too much for him to handle. All that was left was some sheep for which the Hippies and especially Fay dutifully took over care as well as of Joe himself since he was not in good health. Over time and with trust, Joe and the Hippies became a family. Joe could no longer do any physical work but he could supervise the younger Hippies remodeling barns, garages, chicken coops and whatever into living spaces. With lots of love and imagination and salvaged lumber, windows and hardware, they made comfortable and even artistic homes for themselves as in the title of Boericke and Shapiro's book "Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher's Art," 1973.

They were also known as "bootleg buildings" as Amy Katz wrote in the June 19, 2001 issue of the "Fort Bragg Advocate," "Northern California (in the 1970s) was a leader in breaking the mold and seeking alternative forms of construction," she wrote. But there was resistance from older more conservative members of the area who resented dirty, young parasites from taking over their precious domain.

"The dollar is not a reasonable measure of the quality of life or the quality of place," Boericke and Shapiro wrote in the foreword of their book. "Yet most of us are still children of the dollar, and of the institutions we grew up in--we are conditioned to their ways," they wrote. "We are trying to find our way back into the earth family and there are few guides to show the way."

The Ranch was never a commune. It was a community in which everyone had their source of income. Some worked on the Ranch, some worked off. Some were on SSI like me. Some were craftspersons.

Most of the homes could not be used as collateral for a bank loan nor would an insurance company insure them. When our business began to fail in the mid Seventies, Sedonia and I could not get a loan or refinance our woodbutcher complex of buildings designed and built by Bill Gilkerson, well known as a maritime artist and scrimshaw engraver who has had shows in museums. Our home off Gurley Lane was to our eyes beautiful beyond belief and Sedonia and I snuggled right in with our "shit" as the late George Carlin called household and personal goods other than his own which he in turn called his "stuff."

A friend of a friend of ours who visited in the mid-Seventies was an interior decorator from Texas. She told our friend our place reminded her of "Grapes of Wrath" and got a room at a hotel in town instead of staying in our guest house. But obviously not everyone thought the same way.

In "Jack's Corner" a weekly column in the "Mendocino Beacon" on July 9, 1976, Jack wrote "The Spring '76 edition of the slick Japanese publication 'Do Catalogue' is of some interest to Mendocino residents and boosters. This issue contains a two-page article in full color on Tom and Sedonia Cahill's 'Victorian Vignettes' photography studio at the west end of Main Street. Yet another two-page spread features Tom's and Sedonia's unusual house in the forest at the end of Gurley Lane which was incidentally built by Bill Gilkerson."

Included in out "Hippy estate" was a bathhouse with a large hot tub in one large room and a conventional bathroom in another smaller room. Then there was an A-frame guest house and a workshop in which I built a darkroom.

Once again, priceless advertising did us absolutely no good. The business failed and the house was sold for less than we paid for it just before foreclosure. But no one can take away the photos and memories of our time in Mendoland from 1974 to 1977.

Oooopppp, the Grim Reaper just poked me in the ribs again. An ambulance with flashing blue lights and that dee-doo siren sound in European war movies just pulled up to the entrance to my old folks home here in Cluny. I better hurry with this memoir. I could be next.

My second phone call that morning in February 1987 in San Francisco was to the man assigned to me by Social Security. "I've been trying to reach you," he said. "You have been awarded the pension. Come by and sign some papers," he urged. My head spinning with disbelief, I drove to his office downtown and even found a parking space in front of the building. This is too good to be true the Doubting Thomas in me kept bugging me.

"Now, because you are a veteran, you'll have to apply to the VA for a non-service connected disability pension," he told me. "But if they turn you down, we'll keep paying you. If they grant you the pension, you'll have to pay us back some."

Six hundred dollars a month from the government and a place to live on a beautiful Ranch in the most beautiful part of California. Whooaaaa, I can still feel the euphoria. And within a month, I had a choice of two places in which to live, my first real home in ten years. I chose the large loft in a barn near the Victorian and right on the river. It had electricity but no running water and thus no indoor toilet. A privy, one of the few left on the Ranch, was within easy walking distance. And not far beyond that was a wood-fueled sauna with shower.

Soon I received a check for several thousand dollars "back pay" from the time I first applied for SSI. With this money, I paid back some loans and also bought a used 1984 Kaypro IV computer with an equally vintage and loud printer that I think was made by Sears Roebuck. And I bought a photocopy machine, all of which advanced my work on prison reform. The left coast office of Stop Prisoner Rape had a new office above its old office that was parked below in the barn. SPR eventually morphed into "Just Detention International" with a suite of offices in Los Angeles and a paid staff.

My loft was about 15x15 feet with a smaller sleeping loft above. A two-burner stove fed by propane was for cooking while a woodstove in one corner of the room was for heat. The main loft was about eight feet off the ground so when the river flooded, I could remain high and dry until it receded which was usually overnight. My friend and neighbor Jon Eric Taylor, a long-time environmentalist, helped me plumb a sink with running water from a line nearby. For the wastewater, we buried a fifty-gallon drum pierced with holes at the bottom and partly filled with rocks.

The following Spring, around the barn, I began clearing blackberry bushes and nettles and debris such as old car parts and ancient farm implements and by 1992, we had a community park with flower garden, benches, driftwood, sculptures, and memorials among which was one to Joe Forest for which we named the park. He had died about 1985 and left the Ranch to Fay.

One day Barbara Booth, a friend from town, and I were playing with a copy of "House & Garden" magazine and wrote this bit about my home that was later published in a book titled "Little House on a Small Planet: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities," by Shay Salomon, 2006.

"Tom Cahill describes his home, 'Cozy and charming riverfront home; serene and rustic retreat in parklike setting, soaring cathedral-like ceiling over a wood-paneled great room with media, library, office, and entertainment areas; 3,600 square-inch flowing floor plan, picturesque outbuildings; fabulous views include elk and other wildlife; strikingly simple furnishings available. This home makes a unique statement'."

"What he means is that he lives in a one-room, 300 square-foot apartment over a barn, sharing an old farm with a number of other renters. It's meticulously furnished with a mind-dazzling array of collected items," Ms. Salomon wrote. And there is a photo of me holding Mr. Teddy, my teddy bear named by Bruce Anderson twenty or more years earlier.

One of my first jobs on the Ranch was that of Garbage and Recycling Czar. It lasted five years until I got disgusted with some of the Rancheros pleading poverty in not affording a dollar or two for their can of trash to be taken to the dump even though Fay subsidized the trash run. Organizing and hauling away trash had been fun for a Virgo-rising neatness freak.

Getting money out of low income Hippies was NOT fun. I felt both Fay and I were being dissed and took up mowing instead, another perfect job for a Virgo-rising neatness freak such as I. Other volunteer jobs I had early on was Commodore of the Ten Mile Yacht Club caring for all the boats on the Ranch. I also became Ranch Historian and collected photos of people who lived on the Ranch before my time as well as photographing current Rancheros and events such as sit-down picnics in Foresti Park. When I left the Ranch in May 2013, I left behind two albums bulging with photos, articles, print-outs of e-mails, poems, etc.

Over the years of her reign as Duchess (my title) of the community, Fay had put together quite a collection of people. People of color, LGBTs, eccentrics like me, and two survivors of the Holocaust.

One was a teenager in Auschwitz with the rest of his family. He and his brother survived the camp because they could still work and were transported to Dachau close to the end of the war. I visited Dachau in 1956, eleven years after it was liberated and saw sights that still haunt me. It was a cold, overcast day and I was totally alone. I didn't see another living soul all the hours I roamed the camp. No custodians, no maintenance people, no guides, no one was there as I inspected the dormitories where the prisoners slept, the "showers" where the prisoners were gassed, the ovens where the bodies were cremated. I still get a sensation in my stomach to think that only little over a decade earlier, this spot was one of the hells on earth where my friend worked and was finally liberated.

Today he lives part of the year in California and part of the year in the town of Auschwitz where he is a guide at the former death camp retelling and thus reliving his experience under Nazi rule. I visited Auschwitz in 2001 but failed to link up with him. It was a sunny day and the camp had been sanitized over the past half century but it was still easy to imagine the horrors that went on there back then.

With the hundreds of FEMA prison camps spread across the USA, the biggest one being in Alaska, it's not hard for me to imagine the US government doing to its own citizens what it has been doing to people of other nationalities since the National Security Act of 1947. When some folks sing "God bless America," I sing "God heal America" from galloping fascism.

Back at the Ranch, the irony always amused me of living with one foot in the 19th Century and one foot in the late 20th or early 21st Century. Here I was staying warm with a wood stove and using a one-hole outdoor privy at the same time I had a telephone AND a personal computer. This suited me to the "T" since I enjoy history as well as technology although I am a technophobe. I love technology but it's an unrequited love.

Example--I had my 1984 Kaypro IV for six months without turning it on. Yeah, I was terrified I'd blow a fuse or worse somewhere on the planet.

"How ya doin' with your Kaypro?" my friend and neighbor Barbara Harwood ("Barhar" to intimates on line") would ask me. After six months of the same reply, Barhar blew a fuse and charged over to my place. First she made sure the Kaypro was properly plugged in to a power outlet. Then she sat down in front of the computer with which she was well-familiar since she had the identical model which in turn was the reason I bought one like hers hoping she would help me learn the rudiments. She had been telling me how to turn on the machine but never realized I was a total technophobe. Barhar then showed me a button or switch, pressed or flipped it and voila--the screen turned green like that of a radar scope with which I was familiar. Then she proceeded to show me how to write a letter and check spelling and move around words, sentences, and entire paragraphs. Then she printed the letter. This was 1987, before the Internet and e-mail.

Then she had me sit down and repeat what I showed her. When the Sears Roebuck printer began loudly clattering away, I was amazed.

But that wasn't the end of my misadventure with my first computer. Barbara told another neighbor of ours about my inability to catch on to my computer in decent time. Back then, Deborah Jones was head of the special education department at the College of the Redwoods campus in nearby Fort Bragg. She invited me to be tested for a learning disability. I took the test and passed or flunked--whichever way you look at it. I had indeed a learning disability. Nice to learn after two tech schools in the Air Force and about five years of college. It was like the day when I got the results of a test for dyslexia and while waiting for a bus, the tears rolled down my cheeks in relief to know that it was my high IQ and determination that got me through school all those years earlier

Then Deborah did her stuff. She arranged for one of her staff instructors, Frank Howard, who also lived on the Ranch, to teach me on my own computer one morning a week. The first lesson, Frank had me playing a game which I remembered the next day and the day after that. I was on my way to becoming a more serious threat to National Security or at least to the Prison Industrial Complex.

But Barhar, soon to become my very best friend after Tom Flower, wasn't finished with me yet. Not satisfied with turning me on to the world of computers, she wanted to introduce me to DVDs on TV. Barhar was more than one of the Damon Runyon-like characters in my life, she was a major teacher and guide and is presently one of my guardian angels since she died in 2008*.

The Grim Reaper is nudging me again, wanting me to mention other deaths here to remind me of my own mortality. Nice guy, the Grim Reaper, and appropriately-named.

Okay, Barbara Booth (Barboo) died in 2003 while I was in Iraq, followed by Barhar in 2008, then Deborah Jones in 2012 and Fay Olson in 2014. As I've written before, I have more friends and family on the other side than in this life.

Anyway, it was through Barhar that I discovered the Ranch and was able to get on the list to live there. A Gay friend in San Francisco who helped me survive my early homeless years by sharing cleaning and painting jobs, Ben Allred grew up in Utah where he knew Barhar through the LGBT community in Salt Lake City the mecca of Mormon fundamentalists who still look upon LGBTs as "persecutors." (Yes, pretzel logic.) One day in the Summer of 1985, Ben arranged with Barhar for he and I to camp on the Ranch and it was then I heard Barhar's story. She grew up in a strict and dysfunctional Mormon family, ran away so many times since about age five that she eventually earned a bunk in a reform school but despite this rocky start, she made it through college with good grades to eventually become a playwright.

As lesbians go, Barhar was a bit militant, as I'm sure she herself would admit. In her early twenties, she would go into straight bars, pick a fight with the baddest looking guy and she never lost a fight, by her own account which I have no trouble believing. Later after moving to San Francisco, she joined Dykes on Bikes with her big Harley Hog. She herself was rather large, 300 pounds when I knew her on the Ranch.

It was Barhar who paid me the greatest honor of my life. One evening she invited me up into her sleeping loft to watch a movie on DVD. There I was lying side-by-side with a lesbian, feminist, separatist almost twice my size. I've been honored by a number of human rights and peace organizations but being trusted into the inner sanctum of a lesbian feminist separatist topped them all. Thanks again, Barhar.

When Barhar first moved onto the Ranch, she lived in a teepee, then in the Horsebarn where I spent 26 years. She then lived in the Gate House and eventually Kitchen House from where she moved to town to be closer to health care facilities. Each dwelling on the Ranch was named according to what it was or what it became. "Kitchen House was once attached to the big white Victorian on which one can still see the outline of where it had been attached and of course had been the kitchen at a time when the Victorian was a stage coach stop and some say a brothel.

When I first saw the Victorian, I thought it was beyond repair. It was all torn up inside with whole sections of floors and walls missing along with windows broken or missing. But over time, we restored it into good enough shape to contain three living spaces, two offices, and a community room. While living there, Tom Difiori put a new roof on the building but included a gigantic peace sign with off color tiles. Fay liked it but felt it brought heat to the community and had Tom retile the peace sign.

Barhar herself was multi-talented and could fix a car motor or add a porch on a house. By the time I knew her, she was so big she could no longer do much physical work but she could supervise. While she sat comfortably, she directed me in building a new stairway to my loft with a storage area alongside. And it was built to last, Well-tested under her weight.

Under Barhar's direction, Susan Charles and I built her a writing studio that might have withstood a nuclear bomb even thought it was made of wood. I exaggerate. of course, but not by much.

That August 1987, Jon Eric Taylor organized a bunch of us on the Ranch and elsewhere to go to White Mountain in Southern California to observe the Harmonic Convergence. Coinciding with an exceptional alignment of planets in the Solar System, the Harmonic Convergence of August 16-17 was the world's first globally-synchronized meditation proposed by a man named Jose Arguelles. According to Arguelles, the event was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of a new age of peace. As Sedonia explained it to me, the next few decades would see everything false swept away. Then there would be a long period of peace with justice. Hey, call it "woo-woo," but I like this scenario. It beats the Rapture. The atmosphere at White Mountain and elsewhere in the world that I read about, was reminiscent of the Hippy Nation of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Like Alan Ginsburg once said a group of meditators surrounding the White House could do more for world peace than almost anything else. Well it was never tried at the White House, was it? And Christian fundamentalists would just as soon see the Earth ignite from global warming so they can all be raptured up into heaven while all us nonbelievers roast. At least we Hippies want peace for EVERYone, even the Christian Dominionists.

Throughout August 1987 there were also demonstrations at the Concord Naval Weapons Station near San Francisco to stop shipments of arms and ammunition to Pres. Reagan's pals, the Contras in Nicaragua. On September 1st, I was preparing to leave for the Ranch from my sister's home in Napa where I stopped off for a visit upon leaving White Mountain. After starting my pick-up, I turned on the radio. What I heard made me head straight for Concord. Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson had lost both legs when he refused to move out of the way of a locomotive hauling Reagan's aid to the Contras.

Photos taken of me by a Napa friend, Al Ventimiglia, show me in my dress white uniform of a Seaman/No Class of the Royal Grand Fenwick Navy playing Sixties peace songs on my harmonica standing in line with uniformed East Bay policemen who didn't seem to appreciate my serenading them. But at least they weren't hostile. Clearly seen in the photos is the light blue pom pom (for peace) on my hat.

I slept in my camper that night and the next day, I was arrested when I handcuffed myself to a barricade, was attacked by a self-styled "Patriot's" Doberman and fell down an embankment dragging the damn barricade on top of me. I'm not sure if I was arrested for trying to steal a police barricade or for attacking the dog. Needless-to-say not only my uniform got muddied but also my dignity.

"I'm sorry for what happened to Brian," the arresting cop said. I held out my hand and he shook it before placing his handcuffs on me.

But knowing about another bigger demo for Brian, the sympathetic police released me at which time I was arrested again. This time I can't recall why. I arrived along with a group of other demonstrators as we moved up to a wide yellow line on which Marines with rifles at "port arms" were walking toward. I arrived at the line as a young Marine did and stood in front of him, his rifle pressed against my chest, him looking over my right shoulder and me looking over his right shoulder. Mind you, I was still wearing my slightly muddied white uniform of an obvious foreign navy. I immediately went to "parade rest" with my hands clasped behind my back. I truthfully don't know whose knees were shaking, my guess both of us. We stood there many minutes while everyone went quiet.

How in hell do I get out of this situation with my dignity intact, I thought. Forget the dignity, how do I retreat from this ridiculous situation? And it came to me…

I brought my arms down while bringing my feet together to attention, did a smart step or two backward, saluted the Marine with the palm of my right hand facing him and walked off. And lived to tell the tale.

* * *

(*Barbara Harwood died at Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport, May 14, 2008. A long-time activist and resident of the Mendocino Coast, she was 71. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov, 2, 1936, Barbara had a master's degree in counseling from the University of Utah. In 1968, she moved to San Francisco where she was one of the founding members of the San Francisco Women's Center Foundation and served as president for a number of years. Drawn to the beauty of the Mendocino Coast, she moved to Ten Mile Ranch in 1981. Early on, she became involved in the Mendocino Theater Company in which she acted and directed. She also wrote a number of murder mystery events for inns and hotels. Barbara could "think around corners" and come up with often humorous and unique solutions to controversial problems. She was a frequent writer of letters-to-the-editor of the local papers. Barbara supported local and national organizations helping animals and the environment. In lieu of flowers or donations, it was Barbara's wish that friends give volunteer hours to worthy causes of their own choosing. She is survived by her brother, Paul, who lives in Utah. (May 22, 2008))



  1. Marco McClean February 26, 2017

    Web editor:

    Often something I’ve sent you appears on your site and lines are pushed together or spread apart seemingly at random. Links that should go with their description almost always show up instead separated by blank lines that don’t need to be there. Last week the whole last part was mashed together. Today the whole first part was, and there are mistakes in the middle. I’ve been wondering about this for some time.

    I think the problem might be that your computer isn’t showing you the same thing my computer shows me. Or maybe my email program’s way of sending body text is introducing hard returns at the end of every line’s wordwrap and you have to take them out and it becomes an annoying chore.

    Please recommend how to send what I write next time to make it more automatic to break the lines where they should. For example, should I attach a plain text (.txt) file to my radio show notices? And/or should I include a code character string to indicate a paragraph break?

    Thank you.

    Marco McClean,

  2. Harvey Reading February 26, 2017

    Re: Democrapic leadership shuffle

    This pleases me, because it hastens the final demise of that wicked bunch, indistinguishable as it is from other right wing of the wealth party. Now, if the Greens would actually do something other than having circle jerks with other yuppies. Your chance has come. Take it!

  3. Harvey Reading February 26, 2017

    Re: ” I have had the same laptop for 6 years”

    I have had the same one since 2004 as well as the desktop, both running XP. Earlier this month I had a new power supply installed ($100) in the latter and keep my fingers crossed every time I start it up (as I have been doing for years). I dread getting new computers, because all my software is late-90s or early-2000s, and it works for me.

    I mean how much better can “updated” spreadsheet or word processing programs be? For me, a word processor is simply a way of typing. A spreadsheet simply a way to keep track of my checking account–simple arithmetic. My old graphics programs have no problem processing digital photo RAW files from a 24-megapixel APS-C camera (who needs “full” frame? A 35mm negative is still tiny. They used to be considered miniature). That’s all I need.

    Down with Microsoft! Down with no backward compatibility!

    • Stephen Rosenthal February 26, 2017

      Oh boy, don’t get me started. Five short years ago I bought an iPad, state of the art, blah, blah. With the release of IOS 10, Apple will no longer issue software updates for it, thus making it for all practical purposes obsolete. But I won’t be suckered into buying a new one until mine flames out. Just wondering how long it will be before my iPhone suffers the same fate.

      I have my mom’s Hamilton Beach Mixmaster from the 40s, no whistles, bells or unnecessary gadgets but strong motor and works flawlessly, even with cookie dough. Same for a lot of my dad’s hand and power tools – heavy cast iron, steel and wood throughout, well-used but never abused and all Made in the U.S.A. Not a speck of plastic or sheet metal anywhere. While there are still some North American and European-based producers of excellent products, most stuff is Made in China (or elsewhere) junk. If something is in need of repair, I go to great lengths to fix it rather than buy any of the vastly inferior crap that is currently available.

      • Bruce McEwen February 26, 2017

        I have a Clovis hand ax, handed down (literally) from my great-grandpa, who got it from his, ad infinitum exponentially to the third power, and it’s considerably more dependable than yo’ mamma’s == and I mean no disrespect to your gracious and divine mother, sir == Hamilton Beach for chopping things up, and has seen even more service pounding out explanations than your computer, and has crunched more numbers than the venerable ancient adding machine in the article. In fact it could render each of these tools useless at a stroke, whereas there’s nothing any or all of ’em could to even so much as scratch my ax.

  4. John Fremont February 26, 2017

    I appreciated Tom Cahill’s piece. I recognized many of the names and wondered how the folks had slipped from my consciousness over time until Tom resurrected fond memories. Thank you.

  5. Judy Valadao February 26, 2017

    Just to be clear. The letter written by Dan Gjerde was not a reply to the letter written but left unsigned. Dan Gjerde’s letter was written after meeting with me and was written to answer some questions I had asked. We discussed what Ukiah was doing regarding the homeless when Fort Bragg has the only Homeless Shelter in the county. The links Dan sent along are some of the programs Ukiah offers.
    I asked him if Ukiah was giving vouchers to the homeless to come to Fort Bragg (because I had been told they were and wanted it clarified if it were true or not)
    On the accounting of funds:I asked if the homeless organization in Fort Bragg is monitored as to what the funds received from the county are spent for or if anyone has seen any financial reports from the organization.
    The rest of Dan’s letter is about solutions to the issues happening in Fort Bragg.
    Supervisor Gjerde listened and answered the questions asked and like most is looking for solutions.
    Others had sent letters to Supervisor Gjerde so when he sent the follow up letter to our meeting he also sent it to those who had contacted him.
    I don’t think he knew the email would be in the news when he wrote it but there is a lot of info about programs that seem to work in the Ukiah area so be sure to visit the links.
    I left the meeting with the feeling that if you have any questions Supervisor Gjerde will contact those who have the answers (if he doesn’t have them) and will share them with you.

  6. Eric Sunswheat February 27, 2017

    Only at Van Arsdale Fish Station in Potter Valley, will Saturday be March 17th. Another time, another world, brought to you by the AVA. Send money for the Willits Hub.

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