- Skateboarder Run Over
- Legalization Challenges
- Fugitive Nabbed
- little dog
- School-board Meetings
- KZYX Regimes
- FB Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Lou Duva
- Eat Grass
- Jackass President
- Biz Events
- Reaganomic Destruction
- New-book Festival
- Dark Swans
- Clueless Dems
- Feather River
- F&G Meeting
- Albion School Survey
- Piano Concert
PICKUP V. SKATEBOARDER: COLLISION IN POTTER VALLEY
On Friday, March 10, at about 12:52pm, 19 year old Garret Pierachini of Potter Valley was driving a 1987 Chevy pickup eastbound on Main Street. At the same time James Derr, 17, of Nice, was traveling westbound on Main Street on a skateboard while holding on to the bed of another Chevy pickup which was moving at a slow speed. Derr lost his balance and fell into the path of and underneath Pierachini’s pickup. Pierachini’s pickup then struck Derr as he lay on the ground. Derr sustained major injuries and was air-evac’ed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hosital for treatment. No drugs or alcohol were suspected to have been involved.
WE RECENTLY RAN an odd County press release — odd to us anyway — from the CEO’s office announcing “Leadership changes within the Executive Office and Department of Planning and Building.”
THE ANNOUNCEMENT said that Steve Dunnicliff was leaving Planning and Building for the CEO’s office and a three-person team of planning and building staffers was taking over Planning and Building. Period. No further explanation. But it had a kind of deck chair rearrangement flavor.
OF COURSE, those of us down here in steerage will never know the reason for the “changes.” Which is all the more reason to engage in some idle — but not necessarily unfounded — speculation.
THE COUNTY is about to implement its new pot rules — rules which most of the attempting-to-be-legal pot growers don’t like. The rules re-write is occurring against a backdrop of resistance to expanded legalized pot from non-pot growers and a looming crackdown from the totally retro Sessions Justice Department.
THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT is one of the keys to implementation of the neo-pot laws, including zoning verifications and enforcement. A smart person will be needed to drive the regs bus. Dunnicliffe is a very smart person.
ADDITIONALLY, the Planning Department will have to pick up whatever pieces of background they can get from whatever Undersheriff Randy Johnson was doing back when he was in charge of pot permits. And live with them as best they can.
FINDING an experienced senior planner with knowledge of both planning and building who is willing to take a high ranking position in Mendocino County under these circumstances is problematic at best. The planning department has had great difficulty hiring qualified employees even as its workload has increased and it is currently both short-staffed and inexperienced, except for Mary Lynn Hunt, an unsung hero of the department and one of the three persons on the newly created management team. Of course she can hardly be expected to do it all.
SEVERAL CONTROVERSIAL AND HIGH-PROFILE MATTERS are in the planning pipeline, beginning with the artificially complicated pot regs. But there's also the inflammatory Grist Creek asphalt plant south of Willits (which so far refuses to comply with County code or permit terms) and the Blackbird Ranch permit application, which is opposed by nearly everyone in Anderson Valley. (If there's an AV person for the preposterous Blackbird application (outside of their paid staff) to build hotel accommodations for 292 persons deep in the west hills of Philo, that person has held his applause.)
DUNNICLIFF is as capable a person as there is in local government. He did a creditable job at Planning and Building when he was plunged into responsibility for it. (Alan 'The Kid' Flora is another up and comer in local government whom we like.)
MAYBE DUNNICLIFF can handle it all. Maybe we’re exaggerating the challenges that the three person team (and the Ag Department in the case of the pot regs) will face. We'll see.
BAD HOMBRE CAPTURED IN FORT BRAGG
by Julie Johnson
A Bodega fugitive has been apprehended, three weeks after authorities suspect he tried to strangle a woman, a report that spurred a large SWAT response to the tiny west county hamlet, Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said.
A tip led detectives to Sean Cameron, 33, at a Fort Bragg hotel Thursday morning, Sgt. Spencer Crum said. Cameron was arrested on a $250,000 warrant on suspicion of domestic violence and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. He was booked into the Fort Bragg Police Department jail, records show.
Crum said he didn’t know where Cameron had been, other than Fort Bragg, since Feb. 19 when a woman accused Cameron of trying to rekindle a relationship then attacking her when she declined.
She sent an email to a deputy that morning, reporting that Cameron had showed up at her Salmon Creek Road residence about 3 a.m. and assaulted her, Crum said. When the deputy called her about 8:30 a.m., he could hear yelling in the background, Crum said.
The woman told deputies who came to her house that Cameron had left and was possibly armed with a handgun and rifle. Crum said her injuries didn’t require medical treatment and included visible marks on her body and a small cut to one cheek.
Deputies went to Cameron’s apartment above the Bodega Country Store in town, and someone who knows him said he was inside. Investigators spent hours trying to contact him inside the apartment, bringing in negotiation and SWAT teams and closing Bodega Highway for more than three hours.
Eventually, two people came out of the apartment and declined to cooperate or give information about Cameron’s whereabouts, according to Crum. About 2:30 p.m., the SWAT team deployed several flash-bang grenades and entered the apartment.
Cameron was not there, and investigators suspect he had already left before they arrived.
He will be transferred to the Sonoma County Jail. Sonoma County District Attorney officials said they don’t yet have a scheduled court date.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Spring day like this one, I go straight to my e.e. cummings”:
HELP SHAPE THE VISION
Dear AV Community,
There is a strategic planning process being undertaken at the Anderson Valley School District that is open to the public. The meeting that is open to the public takes place Wednesday March 15th at 6pm at the Grange.
I am not affiliated with the board. I have two children at the school and am interested in how I can help to create a robust education for my children in this valley.
Board meetings for the past year as a parent observer, trying to get a sense of how our public education system works. Two things that I have learned are that the state loves acronyms and that a school board cannot truly serve the needs of their community without the participation of that community.
It is the job of the board to listen to teachers, parents, community members, administrators, and advisors and to make decisions based on their input. When groups show up to present their concerns, I have seen the board listen respectfully, engage in dialogue, and make decisions balancing the needs presented.
It is a massive undertaking to be on the school board and I am grateful that we have such a committed group of board members - many of whom have children in the schools currently.
I am writing to encourage community members, parents in particular, to attend board meetings. It is actually quite an interesting process to observe. It is one way to advocate for the youth of Anderson Valley. The decisions made directly affect the students now and in the future. I am often the only parent in attendance. Granted the meetings can be up to three hours long. You don't have to stay for the whole thing and there is a lot of hand sewing, knitting, crocheting or the like that you can get done in three hours.
If you are going to go to a board meeting I would suggest bringing a thermos of tea, a small lap blanket should you get cold, and some sort of handwork to pass the time, open ears, and an open heart. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinions on the issues raised and by keeping my hands busy I find that I listen more patiently and indeed look forward to the monthly meetings. Anyone want to join me?
Now is quite an exciting time to participate in board meetings. TONIGHT (March 15) the board is hosting a strategic planning process that is open to the community in order to help shape the vision and direction of our schools. How can we best give our students a foundation for an interesting and engaged life? What inspires you about other schools whether they are in California or throughout the world? How can our Anderson Valley schools lead the way in education that inspires families? These are a few of the questions that I have. I urge everyone to consider sharing your ideas tonight at the Grange at six o'clock.
COATE AND AIG — JUST A COUPLE OF CHARMERS
The Public Trial of John Sakowicz
Dr Richard Louis Miller wrote:
Dear KZYX Friends and Neighbors:
Some of you have been asking me for an explanation of my effusive expression of gratitude to KZYX Board President Meg Courtney during the recent Board meeting at the Senior Center, on March 6, 2017.
Some years ago I was one of the 15 people* terminated from KZYX. This number of persons terminated, at KZYX, is greater than the total number of people I have witnessed terminated during my entire 66 year working career.
To put this in perspective: I have scraped dishes, washed toilets, cleaned rat cages, cleaned sewers, waited on tables, taught at the University of Michigan and Stanford University, made testimony to the California State Assembly and the President's Commission on Mental Health, served as Senior Vice President, and President of my division, of a chemical dependence treatment program employing 2000 people, and much more. Again, the total number of people terminated, in my entire 66 career, for all reasons, was not close to the 15 terminated at KZYX.
KZYX General Manager, John Coate, and KZYX Program Director, Mary Aigner, refused to meet with me to discuss any of their actions. Instead, Coate sent me a letter saying that I would not be allowed to return to my job until I sent a letter to all 100 KZYX programmers admitting "my mistake." My lawyer said Coate's demand of a public mea culpa was illegal. When I called Coate he refused to take my calls. This was the most egregious example, amongst many, during a 10 year work period, which were, by far, the most painful in my entire work history.
During their tenure, I was regularly met, by GM Coate and PD Aigner, with derision, contempt, sarcasm and a level of disrespect which was palpable. It was painful to call the station for any reason, whatsoever, for at bare minimum I was met with a sarcastic "why are you calling and bothering us?"
Coate/Aigner made me grovel for 2 solid years in order to provide me with a key to the Mendo studio. Finally after they terminated Norm de Vall, he gave me his key. Another time they refused to give me an answer, for 6 months, to my request that I be allowed, at my own expense, to buy a head set with mic built in.
My dedicated studio engineer, Mike Dell'Ara, was witness to both of these incidents as well as to the tones with which I was chronically treated for many years.
In addition, during my entire 10 years, there was no building of espirit de corp or ever a real working Program Advisory Committee (which, to this day, despite the promises of Board member, Stuart Campbell, 8 months ago, still does not exist.) Thus, in a community radio station there is no channel for community input to programming.
It was only because of my love of our community and my program, and my belief that my program adds to our community, which I cherish, that I continued to work under such unusually painful adverse circumstances. Instead of quitting I chose to out wait them. Staying the course, and staying alive, are winning tactics.
From the moment Coate and Aigner departed, the atmosphere at KZYX changed and my work life improved markedly...in fact, it became normal. Now I both enjoy my job and the people I work with.
Acting PD Angela de Witt was a pleasure to work with and so is PD Alice Woefle-Erskine. We work cooperatively, as a team, for the station and for the community. We treat one another with respect and good cheer.
So why did I express so much gratitude to Meg Courtney? Because 8 months after my "suspension" she persuaded John Coate to meet with me at her home for dinner. If was only because of Meg's intervention that Coate actually deigned to speak with me. It's almost impossible to dine with someone without talking to them. Subsequent to the dinner Coate invited me to resume my program which I did after a full year off the air. Because Meg did cause Coate to do his job I am eternally grateful.
Presently the list of those KZYX programmers terminated is at least 14*. Perhaps some of these programmers deserved to be terminated. Perhaps some of these programmers deserve to be reinstated. Perhaps apologies to some are proper. For certain, until there is a review of these 14 terminations they will fester in our community. We heard expressions of the festering at the Board meeting on March 6.
With our new, and very experienced, GM, Jeff Parker, it is a new day at KZYX and I hopefully KZYX will finally take its place as a model station. Unfortunately Jeff has inherited some old baggage which needs attending to. Such is life. Most of us have old baggage that benefits from healing.
Let’s get with Jeff and support his leading us to the greater community contribution hundreds of us have been working for, voluntarily, without pay, these past many years. If the Trump government takes away our federal funding (about $140,000/year) let us raise it here in our community. We can do it!
If ever there was a time for us all to put our disagreements aside and pull together, in the same direction, this is it!
Wishing you all excellent health,
Richard Louis Miller, Host, Mind Body Health & Politics
*KZYX Programmers Terminated (not in chronological order of termination)
11-Norm du Vall
FORT BRAGG NOTES
by Rex Gressett
The mill site is the future of the city of Fort Bragg. The people of the city know it. Long landlocked Fort Bragg, possessed of the most beautiful coastal property in California, has restarted the laborate negotiations that aim (eventually) to bring the fences down. No local issue gets more attention. No public meetings are as packed as mill site meetings.
City hall has made crucial decisions about the future of the Mill site. You were not consulted. City Hall is breaking their plan to us gently, carefully obscured in complicated memorandums. You can figure it out if you know how to read between the lines. City hall is not considering options, they are not listening, they are not gathering information. They know what they want and they are moving fast. Chop it up, sell it off, and leave the toxins where they can rest peacefully.
Two public workshops are planned, at unspecified dates. Fifty thousand bucks has come to the city from a CDBG (community development block grant) that these meetings might be made possible. They better have coffee. Postie notes will be provided so that the city management has something specific to ignore. The fix is in. The plan is to sell off sections of the mill site to local interests. Mouths are watering. Will the city council stand up, or sit down?
The dam across Pudding Creek that eroded so spectacularly in the winter’s rains has been determined by the California Office of Emergency Services to qualify for disaster relief. City Hall management is waiting with trepidation to see if their insurance will chip in. The insurance guys are counting their pennies and talking with their lawyers. GP has the dam stabilized. The city council is perplexed and cagey. No one is making any connection between Pudding Creek, the Patton project and George Reinhardt’s ambitions for wetlands at the mill site. The connecting thread is water. Pudding Creek and Hare Creek are salmon runs or could be if we would work at it. A vision for the future of water is totally absent in the complicated discussions around water issues.
Water in the city of Fort Bragg has always been a strained compromise. Fish and Wildlife is institutionally concerned with the degrading of the environment that our lack of a coherent city water policy has wrought. They are acting. No reaction from the city council. They are thinking about it.
There are workshops planned by city hall insider George Reinhardt to address his long unrequited desire for creek daylighting. Workshops are planned for Thursday, March 23, at 6:oo pm at Town Hall. Without saying a word, George stole the show at the February presentation the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), by giving everyone his funky and charmingly simple little maps showing the place that the wetlands would be if we daylighted (opened to the sky) his two creeks. These little waterways feed into the pond system where in the good old days of mill operation they dumped dioxins. The ponds are the most polluted part of the mill site. George has made a powerful case that wetlands are good. He has not remotely addressed the stated intention of DTSC to leave the dioxins where they are. Knowing George he will have it figured out before the March 23 workshop. Perhaps the long love affair between NHUDG (i.e., George) and the city management is headed for rough waters. Probably not; they have never quarreled before, but I don't see how it can be avoided. A big part of the city sell off is to give DTSC the no further action letter that they crave. Is George’s plan for wetlands connected?
* * *
THE HOSPITALITY HOUSE (I am no longer calling it Hostility House, the case is too sad) is in massive disarray. Success killed them. There is (or was) a gas leak that prevented them cooking for the inmates. They turn it on anyway at dinner time. They are out of everything. They have abandoned as unworkable the long-standing policy of kicking out anyone caught drinking. Inmates tell me they drink now with impunity. The coffers are empty. Thanks to the million dollars that they got from the city they have a really groovy old hotel that no one can stay in or use, except for the after-hours parties given by staff. (Of course). Oh yeah, and coffee in the am. My bad.
The public safety committee — our mayor Lindy Peters and our newbie councilman Will Lee — put as much pressure as was polite on the chief of police to hassle the homeless into submission and eventual retreat from the city limits. Who says they don't have a policy? The chief did not really dig it. He was heard muttering something about due process and the First Amendment. But overall they seemed to understand each other.
In other homeless news, the city continues to remove any object from public access that anyone can sit on. The bench at the corner of Redwood and Main has come out. Bainbridge Park of course was ravaged for benches, our beloved community BBQ was extracted when it was observed being used by undesirables and for a time the whole park was left a happy and empty grassy expanse without accommodation of any kind should any homeless folk unwisely appear. The rascals continued to sit on the grass for a time but that has ended as well. Nowadays no homeless dare come to our central city park. Judy Valadeo must be ecstatic. I am told that McLaughlin of the Fort Bragg police unselfishly made it his habit to eat his lunch sitting in his cruiser at the park. The bus stops have been pasted with no loitering notices. I sit at bus stops routinely and smoke my wicked cigars. No one messes with me. The cops wave. Smart profiling is the key to their plan.
* * *
ELECTRIC CHARGING STATIONS are coming to Fort Bragg.
In major Fort Bragg news, the city hall staff will get four new bang-up electric charging stations at public expense. Their arrival will be announced at the March 13 City Council meeting. They should be available for use as soon as Memorial Day. As the memorandum reads: Upon the direction of the old city council...
But pause for a moment. Let us remember with solemnity and repentance when it was that the council had no more will or energy to resist the power of the city manager than a pig can fly.
Anyway, upon the direction of the old city council, four new electric charging stations will be built in Fort Bragg through what the city somewhat cryptically says is money from a grant acquired by the Mendocino Land Trust. They are however doing the work fast and clean. Done by Memorial Day. Wow.
The power of the City Manager in Fort Bragg is not a hidden power. It is power that is flaunted in your face. It is intended for you to see. Most people do not like her but they often don't know exactly why. I do like her in a circumspect sort of way, but I oppose her very explicitly. This is not the reason but consider that for a longtime Linda had the best alley in town.
In a town that had no alleys to a ludicrous extent for a laughably long time. Everybody had stopped laughing. The super nice Linda Alley runs the length of her block, right by her hedge which hedge (not to nitpick) exceeds in height any other hedge in town and explicitly by municipal law is not a legal hedge. Although as a rule, I don't care personally about the height of hedges, I note that it is a fact that if your hedge gets too tall the law will come and make you trim it. Look at the hedge next to hers. She flaunts it.
She dosen’t have the best alley anymore though because — and I will try and not exaggerate here or spin it — but the reason is that the mayor of the city got one of two $600,000 super duper alleys from the Water Control board. The mayor’s alley is now the best. The cost of paving an alley in our town is about $15,000 in the free market. So the mayor actually got 50 alleys worth of alley. I doubt if Linda had numbers like that when her alley was the best.
Now cometh electric cars. It is nice to charge them when one is at work. So city hall got with it. They understand the importance to the climate of electric cars and also to the general progress of enlightened technological excellence. Electric cars have many arguments. They are a bit elitist in my world but shit: You have to charge them.
So the city is putting in four stations. Two in the parking lot of city hall and two across the street from city hall where there is actually better parking. Everyone at city hall is thrilled. And the people of the city are gratified to know that our concerns about climate change and our interest in a responsive and fair and impartial city government have helped you to decide to get that money and put in stations where you can get at them easily. Thank you.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 10, 2017
PAUL BITTNER, Fresno/Ukiah. Parole violation.
KATHRYN CUMMINGS, Clearlake/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL EROSTICO, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license.
DALE KLEINSORGE, Ukiah. Burglary, receiving stolen property, vandalism, meth possession.
NATHAN NORTON, Fort Bragg. DUI, suspended license, failure to appear.
ARYLIS PETERS JR., Covelo. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
PEDRO REYNAGA, Calpella. Drunk in public.
EDWARD STIVERSON, Antioch/Fort Bragg. Vehicle theft.
CHRISTOPHER SWITZER, Ukiah. DUI.
FRANCISCO VALENICA, Fort Bragg. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
ASHLEE WALSH, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I see in today’s NYT Obits that boxing legend, Lou Duva has died at age 94.
I am a bit of a boxing aficionado and so some years ago (15-20 perhaps) I took my eldest son to a match at the historic Blue Horizon on north Broad Street in Philly. Google it. It was once voted the greatest boxing venue in the world. It held 1500 people. If you were seated at the front railing of the second level you could have literally jumped into the ring. That’s how intimate this place was. If memory serves, the feature fight that evening involved one Terrance Cauthen whom no one has seen before or since. I still possess the T-shirt that I got as a freebie that has pictured on it a pair of boxing gloves and the words “Terrance Cauthen, Bringin’ the Heat.”
I went to the crowded lobby to buy a Beer and who do I see emerging from a hallway leading from the boxers dressing room but Lou Duva, followed by Cauthen who was throwing jabs at the air in front of him.
I walked straight up to Duva, reached out and said, “I must shake the hand of the great Lou Duva so I can tell my friends.”
ONE AFTERNOON, a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass.
Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and got out to investigate.
He asked one man, “Why are you eating grass?”
“We don’t have any money for food,” the poor man replied. “We have to eat grass.”
“Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you,” the lawyer said.
“But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.”
“Bring them along,” the lawyer replied.
Turning to the other poor man he stated, “You may come with us, also.”
The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, “But sir, I also have a wife and six children with me!”
“Bring them all as well,” the lawyer answered.
They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine.
Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, ”Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.”
The lawyer replied, “Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high.”
BEYOND THE REMOVAL OF A JACKASS PRESIDENT: IMPEACHMENT NOT REQUIRED
by Paul Street
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed February 19, 1967, gives the U.S. Vice President, the presidential Cabinet, and Congress the power to remove the President of the United States from office without impeachment. One provision in the Amendment allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to send a letter to Congress stating that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This letter would immediately initiate a transfer of power to the Vice President, subject to Congressional review.
A different provision in the Amendment empowers Congress to form its own body to evaluate the President’s fitness for office, eliminating the need for the Cabinet’s involvement in the process (emphasis ours):
“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
The amendment does not specify any specific form of disability. It permits Congress to determine and enforce its own criteria for presidential fitness. Congress could deem the President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” if they conclude that he cannot be trusted with classified information from intelligence agencies. Congress can use the threat of removal to enhance it leverage over the President’s actions. There’s no medical diagnosis required. Truth be told, the Amendment leaves the door open for the president to be kicked out of the White House for being too stupid, too vicious, or just too much of a jackass – for being someone like Donald Trump.
Do not misunderstand me. I am no fan of the U.S. Constitution, an archaic and openly anti-democratic document introduced in the 1780s explicitly to keep the wealthy propertied Few in controlling power over and against the property-less and property-poor Many. I do not wish to defend “the power and duties” of the U.S. presidency, an office whose occupants have committed war crimes and other crimes against humanity on a vast scale for many decades. Let the imperial presidency collapse. I hold both major capitalist U.S. political organizations in total contempt. I agree with the American expat playwright John Steppling when he writes that “The strange sight of liberal America participating in a neo-McCarthyite assault on Trump appointees, not on the grounds of their inherent racism and stupidity, but because they have contacts with Russia, is among the more surreal spectacles of modern political history… the result of this new Russophobic hysteria is to create a precedent for the CIA and even more shady and shadowy forces to unseat an elected President…common cause is being made with the worst actors in American politics.” And I am no fan of the lethal white Christian nationalist Mike Pence, who would become president if Trump were removed.
At the same time, it strikes me that a national ruling class with any reasonable sense of duty to the entity called the United States – or with any serious concern at least for the public relations image of the United States – would push now for the permanent 25th Amendment, sec. 4 removal of the noxious racist idiot Donald J. Trump from the White House.
The Open Madness of Candidate Donald
Of course, candidate Trump gave numerous glaring indications that he was unfit for the job, which includes putting at least a veneer of decency and sophistication on the highly indecent, brutal, and exploitative system of American Empire and Inequality at home and abroad. The unabashed madness of candidate Trump was epic. Herr Donito the presidential contender:
+ said that immigrants from Mexico are rapists and murderers and went on bizarre rants claiming that “criminal aliens” are wreaking havoc in the United States.
+ first rose to political notoriety as a leader of the insane “birther movement,” which claimed that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
+ accused fellow contender Ted Cruz’s father of being linked to the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
+ suggested (against all evidence) that Blacks and Latinos would commit massive voter fraud.
+ attacked a Mexican-American federal judge for ruling against the scam “Trump University,” attributing the magistrate’s decision to his ethnicity.
+ advocated banning adherents of an entire world religion (Islam) from the United States.
+ offered to pay the legal bills of a white man who viciously sucker-punched a Black protester at a Trump rally.
+ failed to properly distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan.
+ responded to the racial turbulence sparked by repeated video-captured police killings of Black Americans by calling for “a national stop and frisk law” – that is, for a declaration of national racist martial law.
+ continued to defend the railroading of the “Central Park Five” – five young Black men who were wrongfully convicted (with Trump leading the charge) of raping a white woman in New York City in 1989. (The subsequently exonerated five spent years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit).
+ engaged in the ugly racist imitation of an Asian accent in front of a hot microphone.
+ mocked a disabled reporter in a chillingly juvenile way in front of a hot microphone.
+ called climate change “weather,” saying that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by Chinese to harm U.S. manufacturing.
+ promised to honor the results of the presidential election only if he won, egging his more extreme backers to engage in violence if the count didn’t go his way.
+ called his political opponents “losers” and gives them nasty, juvenile nicknames and
+ insulted the looks of a fellow Republican presidential candidate and those of other candidates’ wives.
+ behaved like a lazy and boorish adolescent during his “presidential” “debates” with Hillary Clinton – events for which he openly failed to prepare.
+ followed his first hideous “debate” performance by going on a bizarre Twitter tirade the next the morning against a former Miss Universe he once labelled “Miss Piggy.”
+ wondered aloud why the U.S. couldn’t use nuclear weapons and says it might be good for Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Japan to be equipped with nuclear weapons.
+ advocated the use of torture and even the killing of terrorists’ families and relatives in the U.S. war on (of) terror.
+ boasted that he’d “shoot” Iranian naval ships if they ever again interdicted “our beautiful destroyers with their little boats.”
+ questioned John McCain’s status as a war hero, saying that he preferred military personnel “who don’t get captured.”
+ claimed that he too had “sacrificed” by employing “thousands and thousands of people” while feuding with the parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq,
+ said this to a military veteran who give Trump his Purple Heart medal, given to those injured in “battle”: “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier” – a remarkable statement for a Vietnam era draft-dodger like Donald.
I could go on.
Insane Clown President
Perhaps you thought it was all some crazy comedy act, calculated to win the election with the moron vote, and that Trump would become presidential when he became president.
Wrong. Since taking the oath, Insane Clown President (ICP) Donald Trump’s presidency has been a great homage to the American reality television series “Jackass.” The witless Big Brother -in-Chief:
+ spent his first full day in office claiming like a petulant grade-schooler that the media underestimated the size of his Inauguration crowd.
+ complained about the above alleged media slight in a weird, rambling Day 1 speech to the Central Intelligence Agency – a speech in which he told stone-faced intelligence officials that the U.S. might get “another chance” to go into Iraq and “get its oil.”
+ replaced the White House website’s climate change page with a pledge to drill for oil on federal lands.
+ has repeatedly claimed, against all evidence, to have won the popular vote in the presidential election (by as many as 5 million votes, he ludicrously purports) and to have been cheated of a popular vote victory by voter fraud.
+ created an absurd diplomatic crisis with Australia by complaining publicly over a private phone call with that nation’s Prime Minister.
+ has brandished openly bogus crime data in making authoritarian, not-so subtly racist calls for “law and order.”
+ farcically threatened to send the U.S. military down to Mexico to “deal with some bad hombres.”
+ went on Twitter to complain about how a major U.S. retail firm dropped his daughter’s losing perfume brand.
+ ordered an ill-prepared, un-vetted, discriminatory and unconstitutional travel ban on Muslims, eliciting mass protests and judicial veto.
+ referred to a distinguished federal jurist who blocked his travel ban as a “a so-called judge,” something that even Trump’s own Supreme Court nominee called “discouraging” (Trump then denied that this nominee opposed his attack on the courts).
+ chillingly framed judicial review of presidential actions as a threat to national security and as a sign of national decline.
+ violated court orders against his moronic travel ban.
+ conducted a nuclear strategy session with Japan’s prime minster not in the White House but in the public dining room of Trump’s Florida resort.
+ allowed one of his super-wealthy resort guests to post a picture to Facebook of the Army officer tasked with carrying America’s “nuclear football.”
+ trashed a key nuclear arms treaty (New START) during a call with Vladimir Putin — this after putting the phone down to ask his advisers what that treaty was.
+ allowed his press secretary Sean Spicer to claim that Iran had committed an “act of war” against the United States.
+ upbraided Spicer for being impersonated by a woman (Melissa McCarthy) on Saturday Night Live.
+ appointed blithering morons with no serious knowledge of relevant policy subject matter to Cabinet positions (examples include Betsy DeVos [Education], Ben Carson [Housing and Urban Development], and Rick Perry [Energy]).
+ barred CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, and other mainstream media from a White House briefing – this because these media outlets were considered too unfriendly to the White House.
+ referred to the nation’s mainstream media as “enemies of the people” (an accurate enough description from a democratic left perspective though that’s not Trump’s perspective, to say the least).
+ approved a poorly planned, mass-murderous, and child-killing commando raid in Yemen over dinner.
+ distanced himself from the Yemen operation after it went bad (even while claiming it as a great success at his opening de facto State of the Union Address).
+ said this to an assembly of the nation’s fifty state governors in support of his preposterous call for a 10 percent increase in the hyper-bloated Pentagon budget: “We have to start winning wars again…We never win…When I was young, in high school and in college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. America never lost. Now, we never win a war.”
+ said this about the great 19th century Black abolitionist and social critic Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) in comments on Black History Month: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed… And he’s continuing to do an amazing job, I noticed. Good” (It sounded like the president thought Douglass (a) is still alive and (b) might do well on “Celebrity Apprentice.”)
Saturday Morning Meltdown: Bad Grandpa Launches PhoneTapGate
Dunce Cap Donald has continued with his malignantly childish and narcissistic habit of serial Tweeting in pouty and undignified ways that help make a joke out of the U.S. presidency. In his creepy quest for constant attention, he persists in making outlandish claims like a teenage “mean girl” going after her enemies online.
The president’s latest Tweet storm is the wackiest yet. It’s like something out of the Bad Grandpa movies. Without evidence, Trump accused his predecessor Barack Obama of having wiretapped his telephones prior to the 2016 election. Trump made no effort to offer any proof to support the allegation. He said that “bad” and “sick” Obama’s alleged bugging of him was a scandal on the scale of Richard Nixon’s Watergate.
The next day, the White House wheeled out a junior spokesperson to walk back the orange-haired beast’s latest online meltdown. The spokesperson could only say that the raging Twitter Twit in the Oval Office “believes” the bugging occurred and that Congress should investigate. FBI Director James Comey (who helped elect the Trumpkin last October) James Comey has asked the Justice Department to repudiate the fantastic allegation made against Obomber44 by Trumpenstein45.
Bad Grandpa says he doesn’t believe Comey’s denial of any knowledge that a FISA judge permitted the executive branch to tap Trump’s phones.
Even if Trump has some hint of evidence consistent with his charge (unlikely), it is ridiculously inappropriate for him to have a teenage Twitter Tantrum over such a – one would think- grave matter of high state conduct.
If it came out that the Obama administration did have a FISA wiretap on Trump, that would show that a high-level federal judge agreed (speaking of McCarthyism) that the campaign had suspicious links to “foreign agents.” Either way, proof or no proof, Trump shows that he’s a certifiable dumb-ass.
It’s like having your demented old uncle who watches FOX News and listens to raving right- wing talk radio lunatics like Mark Levin all day in the Oval Office.
For what it’s worth, Trump followed his remarkable Twitter-launched charges against Obama (who I have also long loathed for different and evidence-based reasons from the left) claims with the following Tweet the very same morning: “Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show.”
Insane. Clownish. Unreal. Dystopian. The world’s and history’s top Superpower has “commander-in-chief” who goes on Twitter to make wild accusations against the previous White House occupant and takes a Tweet swipe at a reality television personality in the same online breath. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell could have an interesting email exchange over that.
As Joseph Welch, chief counsel for the U.S. Army, said to said to the drunken, power-mad Joe McCarthy in 1954: “at long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
A Great Regressive Opportunity
So when does the wise, benevolent, and far-seeing American ruling class, gravely and properly concerned for the legitimacy and outward decency of the American System, make use of the Constitutional Amendment that Lyndon Johnson gave them to get rid of the outrageous, knuckle-dragging atrocity – the abject national embarrassment – currently occupying the White House? Three things stand in the way of rapid removal. First, the remarkably unpopular and indeed widely loathed party in Cabinet and Congressional power cannot resist its current opportunity to ram through a right-wing regulation- and tax-cutting, pro-business agenda in the name of the “free market.” It doesn’t want to blow the current shining moment in its longstanding battle to smite the common good and the hapless Many yet further in service to the nastiest among the wealthy Few.
The short-term, bottom-line benefits of the current deregulatory, tax-cutting and diversionary, populace-dividing and public -degrading promises on offer from the unexpected TrumPence-Paul Ryan-Mitch McConnell moment are very attractive indeed for much of the business class.
It’s got nothing to do with decency. Quite the opposite. Decency went out the door a long time go in this nasty neoliberal age.
Bad and Distant Entertainment
Second, it’s not clear that an adequate mass of the U.S. populace is sufficiently agitated or equipped to wade through all the bizarre nonsense and force the matter from below. It’s all just a blur to most ordinary Americans, who are too busy trying to keep their heads above water in the current “long depression” to try to figure out what in Hell the ICP and the rest of political and chattering classes are going on about. “What’s a FISA court? He said what? What’s that she said? Oh well.” Life goes on. It all seems pretty removed from relevant daily experience and struggles – kind of like, well, like some stupid reality television show. It’s bad entertainment and background noise for millions.
One of Trump’s greatest assets has always been the (ex-?) citizenry’s systematically encouraged disdain for – and inability to understand and engage with – the purposefully noxious idiocy of U.S. politics. The right has long been working with often unwitting allies in the corporate media to turn the reigning political culture into an endless senseless freak show that threatens the mental health of anyone who focuses on it to more than a passing extent. Untangling the cobwebs of madness behind the constant “ThisWeekInTrump” (Ted Rall’s clever phrase) spectacle takes time and energy few Americans possess, preoccupied as they are by absurdly long working and commuting hours and often by multiple low-wage jobs. The Latest Trump Abomination Report is just another soul- and brain-deadening energy suck. Call it the banalization of dystopia. Brave New Shrug.
What Benevolent American Elite?
Third, it’s not clear that the ruling class I posited three paragraphs above exists anymore if it ever really did. A “business elite” that truly cared about the United States of America and its future would never have let the nation become mired in many years of mindless ideological debate promoted by religious and social conservatives over things like creationism versus evolution. It would not have allowed U.S high school math and science capabilities fall through the floor. It would not have let the nation’s public investment in social and technical infrastructure decline to the current breaking points.
It would not have permitted religious fundamentalists to mount serious political challenges to stem cell research. It would not have let Big Oil wage a disastrous propaganda war on climate science. It would not have let the county be plagued by endemic illiteracy and innumeracy. It would not have permitted levels of historical ignorance so extreme that most Americans can no longer tell you who fought on what side during World War II or when or why the American Civil War was fought. It would not have allowed millions to become addicted to violent video games and attached to terrible pre-fascist television spectacles like “The Jerry Springer Show,” Maury Povich (the inner-city-shaming paternity test king), and pussy-grabber Donald’s “The Apprentice.” It would not permit elections to fall to the level of beer and car commercials and, come to think of it, the Springer Show.
It would not have permitted the nation to become saturated with assault weapons even as it throws millions out of work and shreds mental health care services. It would not permit the nation’s waterways to become hopelessly polluted with industrial and agricultural run-off. It would not make health care unavailable and un-affordable to millions of its citizens. It would not have let the so-called land of liberty become history’s greatest monument to mass incarceration and home to a giant, still burgeoning militarized police state. It would not have presided over the destruction of basic living and working standards for millions upon millions of ordinary Americans as wealth and power concentrated upward to the absurd point where the top tenth of the upper U.S. 1 Percent owns more wealth than the nation’s bottom 90 percent.
It would not let the “world’s richest country” rank absurdly low in basic measures of social and physical health, including life expectancy, infant mortality, drug addiction, violence, suicide, inequality, social mobility, and poverty. It would not have let the nation’s political and policy systems be turned into an openly plutocratic oligarchytransparently beyond the influence of citizens (regardless of which party or party configurations holds nominal power). It not have turned the Democratic Party into a pathetic junior partner in the full Wall Street-led corporate takeover of politics and policy.
As Noam Chomsky told Occupy Boston five and a half years ago, the financial elite atop the corporate sector and the political system has been de-developing and dismantling the United States since the 1970s. The harsh reality in the neoliberal era is that the economic elite that rules America is global and transnational and feels much more in common with fellow opulent masters of capital in other nations than it does with ordinary folks in “the homeland.” It is all too willing to let much of the ever more poisoned and used-up national territory that is the United States sink in the mire.
Perhaps He’s Gone Too Far?
Still, even this neoliberal and transnational ruling class can’t have the United States – still very much the world’s most powerful and governing, system-underwriting capitalist state – become an openly Kardashian farce. Along with real policy concerns over his promises to normalize relations with Russia and launch an economic nationalist agenda, that’s why it overwhelmingly supported the far more boring but Establishment-vetted and reliably ruling class, Yale Law-trained, and Council of Foreign Relations- and Brookings-approved arch-neoliberal candidate Hillary Clinton over the Orange-Tinted Twitter- Addicted Circus Freak in the election.
There were, perhaps, some hopes that the Madness of King Don could be contained after he seemed to have calmly read a seemingly ruling class-approved, NATO-backing teleprompter speech to Congress on the first Tuesday in March. The 70-year-old Toddler-in-Chief even won praise for seeming “presidential” from silly liberal pundits like Van “Man Ho” Jones on the Trump-demonized network CNN. Maybe, it seemed, the beast had been drugged and tamed, brought to heel.
But then came the wild, recklessly un-and anti-presidential Saturday morning Towergate assault, followed by the weird further attack on poor steroid-poisoned Arnold. It was perhaps the craziest Trumpenstein moment yet – and that’s saying quite a bit.
Thus, I am not surprised to hear well-placed rumors that “a bloc is forming between Republicans and Democrats to remove Trump because he is viewed as incompetent and mentally unstable” (Louis Proyect via “social media”). Or to read a March 7th Time Magazinepiece by two Yale Law students telling readers about Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, arguing that “it is important to understand the constitutional mechanisms that would allow removal of a president if a broad bipartisan consensus emerges that he or she is unable to lead our nation.”
President Jackass has gone too far, perhaps, even for an American wealth and power elite that has been giving American and world citizens the double-fisted middle finger(s) for as long as we can remember (From the beginning really, but with special viciousness since we so ungratefully rose up in many-sided democratic rebellion during the 1960s, that scary decade of democratic protest that the top corporate attorney and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote a famous ruling class memo about [and against] and that presidential candidate and current Richard Branson kite-surfing pal Obama [recently rewarded for his dedicated service to the nation’s unelected dictatorship of money with a $65 million contract to write his third book – his third book about himself – along with Michelle Obama doing a book about herself and Barack] made sure to distance himself from while praising Ronald Reagan.)
We shall see. I’m not holding my breath.
A Ruling Class That Deserves to Die
What about us, we the people, the working and ever more lower-class majority in whose name the U.S. government acts? What do we need. If the oligarchy’s masters won’t remove the nation’s eco-exterminist president, the orange-faced Ignoramus-in-Chief, then we’d have to do that ourselves, through mass rebellion. But if we developed the capacity and willpower to unseat this nauseating petro-plutocratic/ jackal, what would the point and purpose be? To install Mike Pence and a new coalition of Christian white-nationalist neocons allied with neoliberal imperialists to ramp up the New Cold War with Russia, flirting with catastrophic consequences? To bring back the same old warmongering, Russia-hating dismal dollar Democrats, who serve capital and empire with a different, more politically correct and multi-cultural and bi-coastal and metropolitan mask – and whose right-leaning failures recurrently return visible state power back to the evermore wacky rightmost party after one or two presidential terms?
No, our goal should be something far more meaningful, radical, and democratic. A system that posits the choice between outwardly liberal corporate-imperialist populace-betrayers like the Clintons and Obama on one hand and wicked Republican thugs like George W. Bush and Donald Trump on the other hand is a system that deserve to be overthrown in the name of (imagine) popular sovereignty (the U.S. Founders’ ultimate nightmare). A ruling class that degrades political discourse to the current new Springer-Trump low and grants us either the “lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton or the malignant pre-fascist and geocidal narcissist Donald Trump as our “choices” for president is a ruling class that deserves to die. A ruling class that is willing to let the Earth be pushed past irrevocable tipping points of environmental destruction is a ruling class long past it moral expiration date. We need to organize not just to bring down anadministration and a government but to bring down the government and the broader domestic and global profit and empire system the U.S. government both reflects and serves.
(Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
To the editor,
We have a couple of County Wide Exciting events coming up and have included the information below.
Valuing Yourself, Valuing Your Business
Keynote speaker Mary O'Connor presents:
The 3 Biggest Leaks in Your Business and How to Fix Them: Undercharging, Over-Delivering, and Undervaluing. Following the keynote, three local entrepreneurs will share their stories of struggle and success in their own
When: Friday, March 24th
Location: Harbor Lite Lodge, 120 N Harbor Dr.
Price: $15 (Suggested Donation, call West Company at 964-7571 for more information)
* * *
Generation Start-up Screening
Join us for an exclusive screening of GENERATION STARTUP, a powerful documentary film about six recent college grads as they undergo the triumphs and struggles of the startup journey.
When: Wednesday, March 29th
Location: Mendocino College Little Theatre, 1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
Like ALL of the dysfunctions we suffer from, NPR’s downfall came at the hands of Reaganomics. NPR and PBS began losing their integrity when Reagan and his successors pimped them out. It didn’t happen all at once but, the disease crept through and now, the pollution of corporate sponsorship is all too obvious.
The damage is done and the whore is wallered out and covered in shame.
One has to be an old fart (like me) to remember when NPR and PBS were the dependable, untainted, sober, and trustworthy media outlets for intellectuals, academics, and like-minded people. The utter lack of glitz, glam, and fakery gave it value!
The original PBS children’s programming of the 1970’s was top notch. It, too, became pimped out by Reaganomics and was soiled as well.
ADHD Amerika couldn’t handle a return to the original PBS/NPR media presence. NPR-PBS is like a family dog that came down with rabies and is a menace to everyone. The warm fuzzy memories of the old media dog are hard to let go of but, it needs to be put out of its misery. And Daddy Trump is the one who has to do it.
THE NEW BOOK FESTIVAL
On Sunday April 2, 2017 from 1-4pm at the Mendocino County Library
Have you been waiting forever for the latest book to be available for check-out? Well here is your chance to pick up the newest must read book from the library. Mendocino County Library is proud to announce our first ever New Book Festival. The New Book Festival will be held at the Willits Library, Sunday April 2nd from 1-4pm. Over 1,000 new and popular books will be available for check out with your library card. We will have the latest adult fiction and non-fiction along with some popular young adult and children’s books, DVDs and audiobooks available for check out.
Along with the hottest titles, the New Book Festival will have entertainment, crafts, snacks, a library card sign-up table, and fun giveaways. A fabulous book bag will be available for every library patron who checks out library items with their card.
Have you ever been inside the Mendocino County Bookmobile? If not this is a perfect opportunity to see what’s inside. The bookmobile will be making a special stop at the Willits Library Branch on Sunday and will be parked for the duration of the New Book Festival.
Mark it on your calendar and plan to visit the Willits Library Branch, Sunday April 2nd 1-4pm, for the first ever Mendocino County Library New Book Festival.
Lots of fun and tons of books for everyone!!
THE BAG HOLDER & HIS BAG
by James Kunstler
Can you see those swans coming in for a landing on Pond USA? They’re not exactly black swans, because you knew they were out there circling, but they’re dark enough against the twilight’s last gleaming to give you the heebie jeebies.
Troubles and portents of more trouble are stacking up as we approach the Ides of March zone of financial turmoil. You must surely surmise that a debt ceiling impact, a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, and the election of a Dutch anti-EU leader all scheduled for that one day are a good start on the greater unravel to follow. Glowering in the spotlight at center stage will be President Donald Trump, designated bag-holder of the Deep State and its myrmidons. And what’s in that bag he’s holding? Just a couple of shit sandwiches and a hair shirt for his journey down the lonely road to exile. But getting rid of Trump would only leave the Deep State with a bigger problem: itself. That is, an economy and a society that can’t be governed by any means.
I think many professional observers-of-the-scene are missing something in this unspooling story: the Deep State is actually becoming more impotent and ineffectual, not omnipotent. Case in point: RussiaGate — come on, let’s finally call it that — the popular idea that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election. It’s popular because it’s such a convenient excuse for the failure of a corrupt, exhausted, and brain-dead Democratic establishment. But all the exertions of the Deep State to put over this story since last summer were negated this week by two events.
First, there was former NSA Director James Clapper’s appearance on NBC’s Sunday Meet the Press show with Chuck Todd featuring the following interchange:
CHUCK TODD: Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?
JAMES CLAPPER: We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, “our,” that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.
CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But does it exist?
JAMES CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.
And so what to make of the RussiaGate histrionics served up by CNN, The New York Times, the WashPo, NPR, and sundry tools as Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY)? What I make of it is a growing civil war in the government itself, and perhaps something arguably like sedition.
Second matter: this week’s release of Wikileaks’ Vault-7 trove of purloined government documents. These seem to suggest that US Intel agencies have acquired the ability to spoof any activity on any sort of computer or program that makes it impossible to track the identity of any hacker and, what’s more, gives US Intel a tool to make any party appear culpable for any given case of hacking — meaning that if so called computer hacking “footprints” had been discovered linking Russia to the Hillary-DNC-Podesta emails, those footprints could have been engineered by US Intel itself… meaning further that any so-called “evidence” of Russian election hacking could not be proven one way or the other.
Now, this might be too fine a point for the RussiaGate partisans, but I don’t see how it fails to moot the issue. The partisans are still finding other ways to propagandize. On Thursday evening, NPR ran a story about Russia breaking a missile agreement with this wrap-up from correspondent David Welna:
WELNA: Still unclear is how President Trump, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, might respond to Moscow’s defiance. David Welna, NPR News, Washington.
That lapse of newsmanship is the kind of thing that makes me (a still-registered Democrat) want to support the defunding of NPR.
All this hugger-mugger may be further mooted by the financial disorders of Spring 2017. Don’t underestimate the Federal Reserve’s eagerness in sending Trump on the road to political perdition with his shit sandwiches and hair shirt. The Fed’s board of governors knows full well that their interest rate hike could sink even the carefully fabricated Potemkin appearance of a healthy economy. It would also create more dire debt-servicing problems for the US Treasury when and if the debt ceiling problem ever gets resolved. They’re holding a hand grenade in the old USA bunker and they’re getting ready to pull the pin. Just watch.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
THE FEATHER BELOW OROVILLE DAM: A TALE OF TWO RIVERS
by Dan Bacher
There couldn’t be more of a contrast between the Feather River last fall during the salmon season and the same river this winter since the Oroville Dam emergency.
In October, the Feather from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet to the mouth at Verona was the idyllic scene of the best salmon action of the season, with many anglers catching limits of the hard-fighting fish, in spite of the tough fishing for most on the Sacramento and American rivers.
On a beautiful day in early October, I fished the clear, rushing waters of the river below the Thermalito Afterbay outlet with Robert Weese of Northern California Guide Service and a family of four, including Jeff Bosshard, his wife Regina, 12-year-old Greyson and 10-year-old Vivica, for one of the top salmon fishing trips I’ve been on anywhere in recent years.
The four clients, Robert and I put our full limits – 12 fish ranging from 7 to over 25 pounds - in the fish box by 9:37 am. We also lost another half dozen fish.
Then there’s the Feather River of this winter, a focus of national and international media attention when nearly 200,000 people in Oroville, Marysville, Yuba City and other communities received orders from the Department of Water Resources and local law enforcement agencies to evacuate the region after state officials said a failure of the emergency spillway was “imminent.”
Fortunately, officials two days later changed the evacuation order to an evacuation warning and people were allowed to return to their homes and businesses.
The giant hole caused by erosion in the primary spillway and then the erosion and damage to the emergency spillway that spurred the evacuation, followed by the release of 100,000 cfs down the primary spillway, also created the need for two rescue operations of salmon and steelhead by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).
First, CDFW staff completed a successful relocation of 6.5 million young Chinook salmon imperiled by raging, muddy flows of 65,000 cfs below Oroville Dam a couple of days before the Department of Water Resources and law enforcement agencies issued the evacuation order.
Hatchery staff from throughout the state teamed up with Feather River Fish Hatchery to relocate the 6.5 million fall-run and spring run Chinooks to the hatchery annex near the Thermalito Afterbay, according to Andrew Hughan, CDFW spokesman.
These fish, approximately 1 inch long each, would have died from suffocation in the turbid, sediment-laden water if left in the raceways of the hatchery.
Approximately 1.5 million juvenile salmon remain in the hatchery where they will be benefit from sediment ponds set up to cleanse the water. Engineering staff also set up a a charcoal filtration system utilizing a fire hydrant pump for the 1 million eyed steelhead eggs remaining in the hatchery.
Second, the salmon and steelhead in the river faced another emergency at the end of February when DWR cut off spillway releases to work on the devastatated spillway, where the spillway cavity had grown into a giant hole encompassing much of the spillway as 100,000 cfs of water went into the Feather.
The agency dropped combined releases down to 2400 cfs, leaving many steelhead, Chinook salmon fry and other fish stranded in the suddenly created ponds.
“The formerly inundated landscape downstream is now pockmarked with numerous ponds, puddles and mini lakes as river flows drop, many with baby salmon stranded in them,” a Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) press release explained. “As these ponds shrink over the next few days, the stranded fish will become more and more concentrated, making them targets for birds and other wildlife in search of an easy meal.”
The CDFW and DWR staff then began the second rescue effort, removing the stranded salmon and steelhead from the ponded areas and then putting them back in the river’s main channel, Jason Kindopp, DWR senior environmental scientist, reported on March 2.
Crews first flew over the river by helicopter for two days to survey areas where fish were likely stranded in ponds created by the drop in flows. From these surveys, they developed maps showing the ponded areas.
The crews of DWR and CDFW staff then targeted 150 ponds, rescuing adult steelhead and yearlings spring run and fall run Chinook fry.
“We rescued over 1,000 fall fun fry and between 10 and 15 adult steelhead and returned them to the main river channel,” he said. “We also rescued a dozen hatchery yearling steelhead in the 10 to 12 inch range, along with two inland chinooks swept over from Lake Oroville.”
In addition, they also rescued a lot of Sacramento pike minnows, pond smelt, bluegill, green sunfish and other fish species. The effort took place on a large stretch of river from Oroville Dam to the Highway 99 Bridge at Nicolaus.
The operation started with five boats staffed by 20 biologists and staff. At its peak, 50 people in 12 boats participated in the effort.
Kindopp believes that the high flows of up to 100,000 cfs down the Oroville Dam spillway will have both positive and negative results, depending on the fish species, although the impact of the Oroville Dam crisis won’t be fully known for years.
“With flows of 100,000 cfs for over a week, a lot of salmon fry rode the wave of water down to the bypasses,” said Kindopp. “By and large, the salmon fry were already out of the gravel. They avoided predation while going down the bypass. Also, they show grow great growth while feeding on all of the food in the flood plains. Although there is stranding, the impact is largely beneficial.”
Steelhead are another story. The sudden drop in flows also dewatered large numbers of federally protected steelhead trout nests, leaving incubating eggs high and dry.
“The steehead had just finished spawning,” Kindopp explained. “My feeling is that most of the steelhead got wiped out, although some redds were intact. There was a lot of gravel movement and the eggs took it pretty hard.”
The Golden Gate Salmon Association called on DWR to exercise caution to preserve what’s left of the 2016 wild Feather River baby salmon run.
“Protecting public safety, in response to the failure of the Oroville spillway is absolutely critical,” said GGSA board member Mike Aughney. “But California’s salmon and salmon fishermen are also being harmed by this crisis.
“We’re grateful to the CDFW and other state workers who are out now trying to save our future by rescuing these stranded baby salmon. These folks have been worked to exhaustion and we acknowledge the great work they’re doing,” he explained.
GGSA executive director John McManus called on DWR to conduct its repair and response operations in ways that minimize loss of wild baby salmon downstream. “Those small two inch salmon will be two to three feet long in 2019 and 2020 and represent our future income,” said McManus.
McManus noted that dam operators are required to follow strict protocols governing how fast water releases from dams can be turned down in order to avoid stranding fish downstream. In this case, he said problems with the failure of the spillway forced hard choices leading to the sudden shutoff of releases.
“After the immediate emergencies are dealt with, the state needs to also address long term structural problems caused by the poor design of the 50 year old Thermalito complex downstream of the dam that often makes the Feather River lethally hot for spawning salmon. Fixing this design flaw is a requirement to renew the dam’s operating license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” McManus concluded.
The Feather River has been the greatest single contributor to Central Valley salmon runs in recent years. In 2016, 61,671 (59%) of the total estimated 104,229 combined hatchery and natural fall Chinook salmon that returned to the Sacramento River system came from the Feather River.
FISH AND GAME COMMISSION MEETING
March 14, 2017 Regular Meeting at the Fort Bragg library, beginning at 6:00pm.
The Commission welcomes and encourages public participation. Please feel free to share and post this agenda in your community.
SAVING THE ALBION SCHOOL
Albion School Survey
From: Jason Morse <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, March 10, 2017 11:25 am
This survey was created by the Albion School Ad Hoc Committee to gather input in order to make the most informed decisions going forward regarding the future of the Albion School. Due to an extremely low projected enrollment for the 2017-18 school year, conversations have started between the Mendocino Unified School District and the Albion community. As a result, many new ideas have been proposed. One idea could be an early primary program consisting of same-age students or any combination of state preschool/child development program PreK, K, first, second, or third grade students, based on an integrated, experiential, and developmentally appropriate educational program. Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play/work. Please respond to this survey by Friday, April 7th. If you need a paper copy, please contact Jason Morse at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-5868. Paper surveys can be turned in at any MUSD school site. This survey is open to all families. We appreciate your participation!
The survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5NHKY8V
Mendocino Unified School District
GREAT PIANO CONCERT COMING
What: Coast Chamber Concert Series
When: Sunday, March 19, 3 p.m.
Where: Preston Hall, on Main Street in Mendocino
Tickets: (Advance) $22 at Harvest Market, Fort Bragg, and Out Of This World, Mendocino.
Tickets are also available at the door for $25.
Pianist Huiping (Who-Ping) Cai makes her California debut on Sunday, March 19 at 3 PM in Preston Hall, Mendocino. Presented by FBCA Coast Chamber Performances, this young, talented pianist from China agreed to substitute for the previous announced pianist, Ching-Yun Hu. The nineteen-year old is one of the most exciting young talents coming from China today. Her performances have been highly praised for their lyricism, and musicality. She made her orchestral soloist debut at the age of 16 with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and went on to perform with Kazakhstan National Symphony Orchestra. She has represented the China National Culture Committee in numerous cultural exchange concerts in Russia and Kazakhstan. Ms. Cai has already won many competitions, and was selected to represent China in performances in Moscow and elsewhere in Europe. She made her U.S. debut last year at the festival at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Huiping's program includes will perform works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. The concert takes place on Sunday March 19 at 3 p.m. in Preston Hall, Mendocino. Advance tickets ($22) are available at Harvest market and Out of This World, tickets at the door are $25. For more information call 937-1018.