Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Monday, April 3, 2017

* * *


by Malcolm Macdonald

The leadership at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) has circled the wagons. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Edwards has moved out of the traditional CEO office because the room was not sound proof enough for his liking. At about the same time he fired the administrative assistant to the Chief Human Resources Officer, who in turn has been placed on a months-long administrative leave. The reason for the firing appears to be that Edwards suspects the Human Resources (HR) assistant of leaking inside information of some sort. Just in case CEO Edwards thinks that HR assistant has contacted this writer, he has another think coming. I have never spoken to or otherwise communicated with said HR assistant; wouldn't know the MCDH Human Resources assistant if I met her on the street.

The administrative leave of the Chief Human Resources Officer is connected to a recent personnel review of the hospital's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Wade Sturgeon. That review is ongoing with the Board of Directors promising to conduct more interviews with fellow staff members.

Then there’s the obstetrics (OB) department which has been close to a million dollar a year money loser for quite some time. At the end of 2016 the MCDH Board commissioned an ad hoc committee to look into the matter. The committee, chaired by new board member, Dr. Kevin Miller, submitted its report at the March 30, 2017 Board of Directors meeting. When he finished a summary of the committee's report, which did not take a position for or against closing the OB department, Dr. Miller publicly announced he was in favor of closing obstetrics. At that point an emotionally charged voice from among the standing room only crowd uttered, “Your child was born here!” The voice apparently belonged to a current OB nurse. Since the March 30 Board meeting Dr. Miller has made it clear that he wants a vote on closing the OB Department placed on the April MCDH Board agenda.

Miller's OB report was part of the monthly Planning Committee report. Though an ultimate vote on closing or keeping open OB was not part of accepting the Planning Committee report, nevertheless when Board chair Steve Lund called for a vote concerning that report only Dr. Peter Glusker voted, “No.” Glusker stated his vote was based on his understanding that the OB ad hoc committee had also been tasked with finding potential solutions to the monetary losses incurred.

Three members of that ad hoc committee (Carole White, Tanya Smart, and Lucresha Renteria) penned dissents to the report submitted to the full MCDH Board. Perhaps it is ironic that the three dissents were authored by three female members of the committee. Ms. Renteria, executive director of Mendocino Coast Clinics, made this case regarding the possible closure of the coastal OB, “[T]here are women who cannot afford or who will be unable to arrange for a delivery over the hill. Since the Ad Hoc Committee's report was unable to highlight that we do in fact have a vulnerable population that will be affected by this discussion. I felt the need to advise you that 56% of our prenatal patients are on Medi-Cal. These women and/or families are living below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level; which we know is much lower than a living wage for the Mendocino Coast.”

Renteria also criticized the direction in which Dr. Miller took the OB committee, “I believe that the Ad Hoc committee function was hampered by an overly aggressive agenda to quickly submit a very narrowly scoped report. Discussions regarding possible solutions, approaches, and non-data-driven discussions about how this department's closure would affect our community were swept away by Chair Miller under the remonstration that the topic(s) were 'out of scope of this committee'.”

Having been a first hand witness of these meetings, this writer concurs with Ms. Renteria. There were meetings when it was obvious to any observer that Dr. Miller had a pre-set internal clock in his mind. He displayed extremely limited patience with anyone's discussion beyond his own ideas. At the first OB ad hoc gathering Miller allowed retired Dr. Keevan Abramson to go on at great lengths in what appeared to be a sour grapes whine about how he and his OB/GYN partner had lost business near the end of their careers to Ms. Renteria's Mendocino Coast Clinics. Renteria displayed uncommon restraint, at that meeting, by remaining silent throughout Abramson's rant.

Several times at these meetings, Dr. Miller cut off Ms. White and Ms. Smart when their comments or questions went on too long for his own purposes. Full disclosure: Dr. Miller performed two cataract surgeries for me last year. He did a good job. There are aspects of his personality that are very likable, but it might serve him well to personally observe a Fort Bragg City Council meeting so that he might understand how a meeting can be run effectively and to understand that public meetings are a bit like baseball games, there is no pre-set time limit.

What Dr. Miller, and perhaps a majority of the MCDH Board, doesn't seem to understand is the OB question is a no-win situation as currently presented. Sure, closing OB might cut off nearly a million dollar money drain, but the public relations backlash of closing OB will be far more costly in the long run. First, a closure of OB makes passage of any kind of district-wide parcel tax nothing less than a pipedream. Who in their right mind would vote in favor of taxing themselves more for a hospital that can't deliver an OB department to its public? Second, in all likelihood, an OB closure will bring about something akin to an unspoken boycott of most MCDH services. Combine that with a hospital only two years out of a prolonged bankruptcy and the picture being painted fades to black pretty quickly.

The concept of time appears to be a problem for MCDH's current Board of Directors. They scheduled an 8:30 a.m., Saturday, April 1 (no kidding) special board meeting. Only problem: the public notice for it didn't get out until 9:31am Friday on March 31st. The Brown Act, the law regarding public meetings, requires 24-hour notice to media outlets. Just getting sorta-kinda-close at slighly less than twenty-three hours doesn't cut it. In addition, the meeting was held at the Harbor Lite Lodge in a room without any identification on it about being a meeting venue. One might get the idea the public wasn't really wanted at this meeting.

Further irony abounded at this April Fool's Day meeting. Dr. Glusker did not attend. At the meeting other Board members made snide references about Glusker, essentially because he doesn't follow their lead blindly. I will say that MCDH Board legal counsel John Ruprecht made a valid point about board members inundating him with legal opinion requests in the last days before board meetings. This, too, appeared to be addressed at Glusker. However, the snide comments made by fellow board members was obviously unprofessional and counterintuitive to the main agenda item at the meeting, an educational presentation, much of which centered around how board members can get along and be mutually supportive. These are the same four MCDH Board members who censured Dr. Glusker for violating the Brown Act in “leaking” an email concerning closed session, confidential matters. It is doubtful that any of them will make a motion to censure themselves for violating the notice requirements of the Brown Act. They were apprised of the violation as the meeting started by one of the two members of the public who figured out which unmarked room at the Harbor Lite Lodge they were hiding/meeting in.

At that faultily noticed meeting the Board, by a 4-0 vote, authorized management to submit a Help II loan application in the amount of $3,500,000 through California Health Facilities Final Authority (CHFFA). According to CFO Wade Sturgeon $2 million of the loan will be paid back at 2% interest over twenty years. The other $1.5 million will have a 3% interest payment attached to it over a five year term. That million and a half is slated toward part of the purchase price for new electronic health records (EHR) equipment (full, actual cost of the EHR upgrade equals approximately $2.4 million). Two million dollars of the CHFFA loan will be spent on facility remodeling and other construction projects.

This brings us to Project Manager Steve Kobert's report at the March 30 board meeting. The five main issues regarding capital maintenance are the nurse call system, telemetry, the automated transfer switch (ATS), HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment, and the central sterile system. The nurse call system is essentially completed at an estimated budget cost of $525,000. The wireless telemetry systems that allow patients to wear small battery powered devices that signal monitors has an estimated budget of $295,000. The expected time to completion is thirty-six weeks after a formal notice to proceed from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). The ATS system's estimated budget cost: $573,487 (which is an estimate based on prior MCDH Board approval); expected completion: 42 weeks after notice to proceed from OSHPD. Readers should keep in mind that OSHPD approval is far from a “rubber stamp” occurrence. The estimated budget, from 2015 numbers, for the HVAC equipment is $373,021. On March 7, OSHPD granted MCDH a six month extension to start this project. The new deadline to start (yes, that sounds inherently contradictory): August 31, 2017. The central sterile system also has an out of date estimate at $663,000. Once an up to date budget is approved it would take a year to complete the project.

Lest we forget, readers who pay taxes and vote within the Mendocino Healthcare District may want to remember the annual payments still owed by our local hospital as part of its exit from bankruptcy: In 2017: $1,638,595; in 2018: $1,547,177; 2019: $1,635,794; 2020: $1,420,742; 2021: $1,118,864; 2022: $1,113,921; 2023: $861,216; and in 2024: $857,654.

That adds up to $10,193,961. Keep in mind that the hospital district is required to have a new hospital facility in place before the start of the year 2030. At that well kept secret of a meeting on April Fool's Day, MCDH Board counsel John Ruprecht said, in regard to a topic centered around strategic planning, “There's no way this district can afford to build a new hospital at this time. It's not going to happen.”

That might be conclusion enough, but let's add former MCDH Board member Patricia Jauregui-Darland's observations concerning CFO Sturgeon's March Finance Report to the mix. “This Report should be labeled 'Eight Months (YTD) [Year To Date] February 28, 2017.' This far into the fiscal year it is important to make year-over-year actual comparisons and not to compare to budget-only real numbers.”

Ms. Jauregui-Darland questioned Sturgeon's line item “Total Services Revenues,” noting, “Total patient service revenues has increased $6,182,563 or $6.2M for FY [fiscal year] [20]17. That is a very large increase. How much was related to charge increases vs. volume increases?”

Going on she cites, “The net patient service revenues have decreased $364,282 for FY17. This means all of the $6.2M of additional bill gross patient service revenue for FY17 was written off and even an additional $364, 282. Where did the 6.2M go? Was it all written off and if so why? I can see the $1,386,217 or $1.4M negative swing in the Bad Debts (from Page 6 of the Finance Report if readers have obtained copies of the voluminous March 30th MCDH Board meeting agenda packet).”

Jauregui-Darland asks two more questions: “What was the justification for the additional $4.8M write-off? Has there been a significant change in the payor mix?”

Jauregui-Darland had more queries about operating expenses. Her notes about the entirety of the Finance Report include these terse comments: “It appears that not $1 has dropped to Net Rev [enue]. I haven't seen anything like this in years! This is shocking and alarming.”

Her final thought, after questions concerning the hospital's potential large cash outflows in the current final quarter of the fiscal year, “Where is the money going to come from?”

By May we should be able to delve further into why Sturgeon's numbers are unconvincing and whether or not the Help II loan application actually gets approved.

* * *


Dear Friends and followers,

I'm saddened that I have to write this in a public forum. But, I and others, have been accused of some pretty serious acts in the Facebook world by Marrila Freitas Peeler, so I am compelled to set the record straight.

This is in regards to the escalating turmoil at The historic Fort Bragg Grange in Inglenook.

On Monday, March 27th, one of our members was attempting to deliver the grocery order to the historic grange hall. He attempted to unlock the front door with his key and found that the door was unable to move. He went to the north side of the building and found Mr. Donald Peeler and two non member associates changing the locks on the North coffee room door. When Mr. Donald Peeler, known on Facebook as Donald Ducky, was asked what was going on, our member was told that the building was being taken over and our members were no longer welcome. Our member was in a bit of a bind because of the large amount of perishable groceries, enough to feed 400 or so people at our monthly breakfast, that he had in his van.

Our member told Mr. Donald Peeler the the groceries needed to get into the refrigerators. Mr. Donald Peeler's non member associates aided our member in putting the groceries away in our memberships refrigerators and then told our member to vacate the premises, which he immediately did. Our board member's were notified of the situation and an emergency meeting was called by one member/attorney. (Our member/attorney had also driven by the building and noticed what was going on. He took several pictures of the attempted takeover.)

12 of our membership agreed to go to the building and claim the premises back for the membership. Before going to the building the Sheriff was called and informed of our intent.

Upon arrival at around 7:00pm on March 27 we found that the building was barricaded from the inside with slide bolts the doors so our keys wouldn’t work.

Mr. Donald Peeler arrived on site shortly after our arrival and presented our member attorney with a document stating that our charter and membership was revoked from and organization that we didn't belong to.

We politely asked Mr. Donald Peeler for his key to open the north side coffee room door. He refused. We asked again and he refused again.

We told Mr. Donald Peeler we were going to open the lower south west emergency exit door to regain legal access for the paying membership. He said he was going to call the sheriff if we attempted access and we, the membership, invited him to do so.

We, the membership, proceeded to regain access to the building. Mr. Donald Peeler took my picture and the picture of another member during that process.

Upon gaining access to the building we started undoing the damage as best we could to the doors by Mr. Donald Peeler's and his associates actions.

The commercial steel door that Mr. Peeler gained access to had about $1,200.00 worth of damage to the door itself from his forced entry. The casing and the commercial lock was also damaged by Mr. Peeler while removing it without the proper tools. We have pictures of all of the damage.

The new front entry door was also damaged by the hurried installation of a slide bolt on the inside of the door.

When the Mendocino County Sheriff arrived, Mr. Peeler attempted to have the sheriff side with him by showing him the unofficial, though threatening revocation document. Fortunately there was an attorney on site and a dozen of the legitimate membership to explain the truth.

In the end Mr. Donald Peeler promised not to attempt such a thing again as he didn't want a restraining order against him which would mean that he would have to forfeit his guns for the duration of the restraining order, and we didn't press charges. He shook hands with our side and the Sheriff left the premises.

Mr. Donald Peeler and Marilla Freitas Peeler stayed in the parking lot for several hours calling others on the phone for reasons only they know.

The attached image shows the conversation going on with the sheriff that was taken by my wife Eileen while I and other members were busy repairing damage done by Mr. Donald Peeler and his associates.

So no matter what is being said about me and other members of the former Fort Bragg Grange, now The Fort Bragg Guild, we are the same organization we have been since 1938. Only the name has change due to a bad decision made by National Grange by revoking the California State Grange Charter that is essential to our existence because they are the umbrella corporation for our non profit status. National Grange revoked the charter in 2012 and started this whole mess.


Bruce Broderick

Member, Fort Bragg Guild

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

* * *

(Photo by Susie de Castro)

* * *


Please join us Sunday April 9th

4:00 - 5:30p.m. Lauren’s Restaurant

This month:
 We will begin taking the first steps in creating an Anderson Valley Village, so we can chart our way forward to Aging in Place. Come be a founder!

(Gwen Smith, Boonville)

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “It's a beautiful day in Boonville — 75 degrees, birds singing, trees budding out, green life everywhere — and what are these nuts doing? They're inside watching the Giants opener!”

* * *

UNRELIABLE MOVIE REVIEW: "Sense of an Ending" held my feeble attention as it descended more and more into pure mawk after promising beginnings, an interesting middle, and then into a giant vat of happy endings. Since most lives don't end particularly well, unless you think spending your last hours hooked up to medical machinery for the purpose of running up your last tab while your family divvies up your stuff — well, only the mentally challenged think in terms of 'happy deaths.' This movie is about some low-intensity trauma experienced at a young age as it rebounds forty or so years later into What the heck really happened? Charlotte Rampling, as she always does, steals this Brit show, which may have been dumbed down for American audiences.

* * *

A WILITS READER WRITES: Willits is kind of like the republicans (health care) wink, wink…, they had years to prepare for “after the bypass”, but most leaders and others yelled down anyone who dared mention things were going to get weird once Willits got bypassed. Laytonville’s entrepreneur types bought up everything with 101 frontage as soon as CalTrans broke ground, and that turned out pretty good I hear. Yet Willits merchants and others fought with each other over the style of flower boxes, parking and other meaningless bullshit while the years dribbled away…Seems they should have been getting them big signs in the ready. Them signs to put out on The 101. Them signs to get folks to come in to Willits for a 6er and a pack of smokes, but no… they waited till folks business’s tanked and then squalled like kids for money. That politician down south ain’t going to give the Willits money, Trumps revenge will seal that deal. Sorry Willits, like a politico from Mendo once said, “If you think government is here to save you, forget about it, you are on your own.”

* * *


Our pal Derek over at Fotomendo called our attention to this plane flying grid patterns over Anderson Valley Sunday.

It was doing the same thing by Point Arena. The plane comes back registered to GCA Air LLC out of Danbury, Connecticut — a long way from home. We have no idea what it's mapping (or looking for). But if you're paranoid - they're watching YOU!

(Courtesy MendocinoSportsPlus)

(A commenter suggested the plane may be chartered by an on-line mapping software company for Microsoft or Google.)

* * *


Route 1 (103.4/105.0) – Emergency slide removal near Leggett will continue. A full road closure is in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should seek an alternate route. LC#C1VA

Route 20 (4.1) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility repairs about 0.7 mile east of Wildwood Campground on Monday, April 3. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#P20AA

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

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

Route 101 (85.9/86.1) – Emergency slide removal near Hermitage Vista Point will continue. Northbound traffic will be reduced to one lane 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate minor traffic slowdowns. LC#C101LD

Route 101 (97.1) – Emergency slide removal near the Dora Creek Bridge will continue. One-way traffic control will be in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should anticipate 20-minute delays. LC#C101KD

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

Route 128 (36.6/41.3) – Roadway repairs from Fish Rock Road to Yorkville will begin Monday, April 3. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#C128KA

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

Route 222 (2.0/2.2) PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility repairs near West Street on Tuesday, April 4. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#P222AA

* * *


(From UPD weekly summaries):

On March 27, at approximately 2:34pm, UPD officers were patrolling the area of 300 Talmage Rd. UPD officers noticed a male subject sitting on the railroad tracks with alcohol. The UPD officers contacted the male subject, who was identified as Jeremiah Luna, a 34-year-old transient. A records check revealed Luna was on county probation and must abstain from alcohol. It was determined that Luna was in violation of probation. The UPD officer took Luna into custody without incident. Luna was booked into Mendocino county jail. Ukiah Police Report #17-0878

* * *

On March 9th at about 11:05 am, UPD officers were dispatched to New Beginnings in the 500 block of Low Gap Road, regarding an 8th grade student who had tied a hairband around her neck, attempting suicide. Upon arrival, officers contacted and detained the student. After evaluating the student, she was detained for a mental health evaluation and transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center ER. A mental health professional was contacted and responded, taking custody of the juvenile. 17-0697

* * *

On March 10th at about 10:58 pm, UPD officers were dispatched to the 1100 block of Mulberry Street, regarding a male subject screaming outside of the location. Upon arrival, officers located a male subject who they recognized as Jared Kidd, a 25-year-old local transient and known habitual drunkard. Kidd was found to be belligerent and intoxicated. Kidd was placed under arrest for public intoxication and booked into county jail. 17-0711

* * *



Since Mark “Devious” Davis gets to take the “Traitors” to Vegas, let’s be sure that part of the deal is for him to pay off immediately all the remaining debt and the cost of demolishing that horror we agreed to in order to get the Oakland Raiders back after their 12-year affair with LA. I wish we could keep the name Raiders and create a community-owned franchise like the Green Bay Packers.

David Gill, Oakland

* * *


(These days Stan is the proprietor of Down Home Foods in Fort Bragg and a competitive bike rider.)

1967, April 6: The Gray Line added a new attraction to its tours of San Francisco — the Haight-Ashbury district, hippie capital of America. They billed it as “the only foreign tour within the continental United States,” and the new scene drew more stares than the Mint, Mission Dolores and Twin Peaks combined. When word spread about the “safari through psychedelphia,” as driver-guide Dee Briggs put it, interest in San Francisco’s other wonders seemed suddenly desultory. Most of the bus passengers had never before seen a live hippie.

“Free love — just living together?” inquired Mrs. James Costanzo of Chicago, aghast. ‘Their parents send money for LSD? Great God!”

“Now, now,” said her husband, a plant superintendent. “Would you want our son to be a hippie?”

“A hippie?! Better he be dead!”

And then, at the fringe of hippieville, the bus stopped and a hush fell over the sightseers as a television crew came aboard with a live hippie — Stan Miklose, in his mid 20s with shoulder length hair, turtleneck black sweater, dark car coat, jeans, western boots. In a well-modulated voice Miklose compared hippies with the college youths who turn Easter week at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., into a nightmare. “The very worst the hippies do is to sit down on the street — not in protest, because that is negative, but in a positive statement of purpose. I could try all day to explain this, but unless you were a hippie you wouldn’t understand.” Miklose was later asked if hippies didn’t resent being sightseen like zoo animals. “It was bound to happen. When someone creates a thing of beauty — an Eiffel Tower, a great painting — the public comes to it. We hippies have created something beautiful.”

(San Francisco Chronicle)

* * *

LONELY? OKCupid Declares Humboldt to Be One of the Most Stoned, Promiscuous, Vulgar Dating Pools in the Country

* * *


* * *


From the U.S. Coast Guard, 11th District Headquarters on behalf of Sector Humboldt Bay:

The Coast Guard rescued two hikers who were stranded along the Eel River near Island Mountain, Wednesday morning.

Local responders contacted Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay watchstanders around 10 p.m., Tuesday requesting assistance locating two hikers who had become stranded.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay hoisted two men into the helicopter and transferred them to local response personnel waiting in a nearby field at approximately 12:20 a.m.

The hikers were reportedly sightseeing along the Eel River when they became disoriented and lost after sunset. One man was reportedly experiencing symptoms of dehydration at the time of the rescue.

A ground party consisting of local responders attempted to reach the hikers but were unable due to river flow and rapids.

Weather at the time of the rescue consisted of clear skies with temperatures in the 40s.

There were no reports of injuries.

* * *


While we would have preferred the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to stick to its original goal of giving two years leeway to pot growers who are operating now in residential areas to quit, we are glad that at least the provision is still in the new ordinance. As it stands now, after three years, all commercial pot growing in residential neighborhoods below certain lot sizes must stop.

It is exactly that residential growing that soured so many local folks on marijuana cultivation in Mendocino County and that is where the impact of the smells and crime are most keenly felt.

During the last debate on the ordinance as it was finally introduced officially, Supervisor Dan Gjerde talked his colleagues into extending the two-year grace period to three years, which we think is way too long. What is going to happen in that last year that growers can’t plan for right now and still have two years to get done?

Gjerde said he convinced his constituents in his Fort Bragg district to vote against Measure AF (the failed growers’ giveaway measure on the November ballot) by telling them that the supervisors would be fair in their ordinance and not disturb their apple carts.

We think people voted against Measure AF – by a large margin – because they wanted to make sure the growers had strict rules and got out of their neighborhoods.

Even today, we believe most Mendocino County residents do not care that someone is growing lots of commercial marijuana in the hills of the north county (except that they don’t pay taxes on it and we now know many of them are destroying the environment to do it).

But you cannot take a drive through places like Redwood Valley or Deerwood subdivision without the persistent smell of marijuana floating everywhere.

That’s what voters are hoping this new county ordinance will stop. And giving growers three more years is simply too much.

(K.C. Meadows. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

* * *


by Mary Callahan

In a normal year, veteran diver Matt Mattison would likely have started this weekend clad in neoprene, plying the waves off the Sonoma Coast, eager to bag his first red abalone of the season.

Instead, the Monte Rio resident was among a group of volunteers who fanned out Saturday along the North Coast’s most popular abalone hunting grounds to head off any divers or rock pickers who mistakenly turned up and to inform them the traditional season start has been delayed.

A jubilant occasion that typically draws hundreds, perhaps thousands, of restless abalone hunters to coastal waters each year, the April 1 opener is a little like Christmas for those who pursue the succulent sea snails. It’s a rite of spring.

But after four decades of time-honored ritual — cause for reunions of family and friends on the Sonoma and Mendocino coast every year — the California Fish and Game Commission has taken emergency action curtailing this year’s season, axing both April and November from the calendar and sharply reducing the allowable annual catch, from 18 abalones to 12.

It will be the first April since 1921 — a time when the season began in mid-March — that red abalone cannot legally be harvested, according to Jerry Kashiwada, an environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The tighter limits will likely deliver a blow to coastal businesses, particularly those that cater directly to abalone fishers and their companions — places such as campgrounds, dive and tackle shops, motels and service stations.

“It takes our April away,” said Lisa McCulloch, assistant manager at Albion River Campground, south of Mendocino, which has 106 campsites in need of campers each day.

“April 1 of 2016, I was full for April 1 of 2017,” McCulloch said. But once the Fish and Game Commission’s emergency action was announced in December, “everybody changed their dates.”

April, said Blake Tallman, owner of Sub-surface Progression Dive Shop in Fort Bragg, “is usually when we’re kind of crawling out of the winter and the town gets more busy. I don’t think it’s going to be like that this year.”

Wildlife managers hope lessening pressure on the imperiled mollusks will help the fishery rebound from a catastrophic mix of ocean conditions that have prompted extensive starvation in abalone stocks.

The suite of emergency measures is projected to shave about a quarter of this year’s harvest, offsetting reductions in population and reproduction caused by high mortality and physical attrition.

Instituting changes

Though the waters off the California coast once supported five popular sport and commercial abalone fisheries, most of them were closed down during the latter half of the last century due largely to overfishing and severe depletion of the species.

Only the red abalone recreational fishery remains open, and then, only north of San Francisco under tight regulations designed to adapt to shifting ocean conditions and to maintain a thriving fishery.

It’s still unclear how big a hit local businesses will take because of losing April, which accounted for about 12 percent of the 2015 abalone harvest, or whether the losses might be offset by extra visitors come May and June.

Still, the reduced seasonal catch limit likely means many divers, who are allowed to harvest a maximum three shellfish a day, will take two or three fewer trips to the coast this year, and thus spend less on gas, groceries, meals and lodging, several said.

Tallman said he thinks it likely the injury to businesses may be more dramatic than the benefit to abalone stocks.

“It’s a really hard pill to swallow,” said Cotati diver Owen Mitchell, who is typically among those headed coastside in early April to look for abs. “On the one hand, you can see what’s going on under the water, with the (abalone) population. But there’s also going to be the human impact of shortening the season.”

Managers have made numerous changes in the past six years in response to ecological setbacks that include a toxic algal bloom or “red tide” off the Sonoma Coast that decimated thousands of red abalone in 2011 and resulted in the indefinite closure of popular abalone hunting grounds off Fort Ross State Park.

Subsequent changes in the fishery rules, most adopted in 2013, included a reduction in the annual limit from 24 to 18 abalone, only nine of which could be taken from waters south of Mendocino County. The current season total of 12 is half of the pre-2013 catch limit.

The early morning hours also have been closed to fishing over the past four years under a new, daily start time of 8 a.m. that precludes the harvest of red abalone during several very low spring tides, or “minus tides,” affecting largely rock pickers. A withdrawing tide can reveal a bounty of accessible abalone to anyone wading along the shoreline, and losing the early morning hours cuts into those opportunities.

But the April 1 start date, first adopted in 1976, has stood firm for 40 years, allowing generations of sport enthusiasts to establish opening-weekend traditions, some renowned for a certain level of irrational exuberance and risk. That’s obvious when ocean conditions are really too rough for fishing, but some people, particularly those who may have driven several hours to reach the coast, brave the water anyway.

Those circumstances and the rescues and fatalities they have produced gave rise to short-hand descriptors among ab aficionados — “Sacramento syndrome” and “April fools,” for those who ignore warnings about perilous surf.

Rescue personnel know to be braced for the abalone season start. And some fear abalone hunters will take even more chances, now that the season is shorter.

“On the North Coast, we’re constantly hit with rough weather, so the opportunity to get into the water is usually regulated by Mother Nature,” said state Fish and Wildlife warden Joel Hendricks, supervising lieutenant for the Mendocino Coast. “With the shortened season, our chances of getting out on a nice calm weekend are cut short.”

Diving ‘is my life’

More than 25,000 people participate in the season each year.

Among them, Mattison, 40, is well known. A dive instructor, guide and founder of the Nor Cal Underwater Hunters online forum, he said he has “been going every year opening day, if the conditions were divable, for the last 30 years.”

He said the huge swells forecast this weekend would have kept him home even if the season had opened as usual. But other rites of passage haven’t kept him out of the water.

He said years ago, he coaxed his pregnant wife into letting him go diving even though their baby already was a day overdue.

Mattison was out in Ocean Cove, north of Fort Ross, when the Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter, Henry 1, stopped overhead and a voice announced, “Matt Mattison! You need to get to shore!”

He made it to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa in time to see his boy join the world, but at the cost of some serious grumbling from family, not to mention the stink eye from the Kaiser staff.

“People laugh at it now,” Mattison said. “During the time, they all weren’t every happy with me.”

But diving, he said, “is my life.” He added, “Even my son understood and waited for me.”

Chaos for commercial outfits

Northern California’s fisheries, though already troubled, have been thrown into chaos during the past few years from fallout linked to the state’s historic drought and a period of unusually high ocean temperatures on the West Coast.

The lucrative commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed each of the past two years, while declining king salmon runs threaten both commercial and sport seasons this year, though dates won’t be adopted until later this month.

The recreational salmon season did open Saturday as usual, but whether it will stay open for long is in doubt. Under the strictest alternative being considered by fishery managers, it could close down altogether after April.

The decision to cut the abalone season short and delay the opening until May 1 was not entirely out of the blue, given months of concern about the state of the North Coast’s iconic kelp forest, which supports a vast food web.

Scientists say the 2011 red tide was just the first in a string of large-scale ecological disruptions that have dramatically diminished the bull kelp that traditionally grows along the Sonoma and Mendocino coast. In 2013, the arrival of sea star wasting disease killed off several species that were key predators of sea urchins, allowing for an explosion among voracious purple urchins recently measured at more than 60 times their historic densities.

The tiny urchins have consumed vast quantities of kelp that struggle in warm water conditions, eliminating a key source of nutrition for abalone. In some spots last year, nearly the entire underwater forest had disappeared.

Avid divers adapting

What those conditions have meant for the abalone fishery is up for debate among hunters.

Regular divers vary in their assessment of the species’ health, population status and general ocean conditions.

Many, including Mattison, are critical of the state’s use of the eight most popular dive spots for official counts and contend the Fish and Wildlife Department’s mandate to preserve a “Cadillac fishery” is unreasonable and unrealistic.

Still, most avid divers have learned to adapt to restrictions on abalone, many by taking up spearfishing for rock fish, an increasingly popular sport that fills time which otherwise would be spent hunting for abs.

“When you’re hunting something that can run away, it’s much more of a challenge,” said Mitchell, 37, the Cotati diver.

Others just look for larger, more spectacular sea snails.

“You would still come home with the same amount of take,” said Tom Stone, owner of Sonoma Coast Divers in Rohnert Park. “It just would be in two abalone, instead of three. You would just look a little bit longer for it.”

Spreading the word

State officials and fishery advocates, many of whom participated in last winter’s debate on emergency actions, say they think word about the April closure has been widely disseminated. But there have been reports from various sources of abalone hunters inquiring about gearing up, enough to spread worry that too many may be unaware the fishery remains closed.

Among the challenges in spreading the word: A contract dispute has delayed printing of the state’s annual ocean fishing guide that is usually distributed at the time abalone hunters purchase fishing licenses and abalone report cards.

Josh Russo, president of the Waterman’s Alliance and a representative to the state’s Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee, joined with Kashiwada and others to mobilize a dozen or more volunteers who patrolled the coast during a negative tide Saturday morning to make sure anyone who came out to hunt knew they couldn’t legally do so.

“We dread changing regulations, because it often takes a year or two for people to catch up with the change,” said Sonke Mastrup, environmental program manager for Fish and Game’s Marine Region invertebrate program.

The agency already is doing advance work on next season, however, intent on avoiding the shortened emergency process used last winter.

But Mastrup said evidence so far suggests minimal recovery of the kelp forest, continued withering among abalone and poor conditions for reproduction.

“We don’t have any information that would suggest any different approach (to the 2018 season) is warranted at this point,” Mastrup said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the kelp comes back, but a lot of what we saw in terms of impact to abalone, it’s going to take years to recover from.

“It won’t be an overnight ‘Well, everything’s good now, good to go,’ ” Mastrup said. “It’s going to take awhile.”

2017 Recreational Abalone Season at a Glance

  • April and November now closed to the harvest of red abalone
  • Season open May 1 - June 30, Aug. 1 - Oct. 31
  • Fishing permitted 8 a.m. to half-hour after sunset daily
  • Season limit is 12 per calendar year, reduced from 18 last year
  • Only 9 abalone may be taken from waters south of Mendocino County
  • Daily limit is 3 abalone
  • Minimum size is 7 inches or more measured at the longest shell diameter

SOURCE: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, April 2, 2017

Brint, Britton, Cleveland, Deloera-Carillo

ZACHARY BRINT, Ukiah. Controlled substance, court order violation.

TALON BRITTON, Willits. Drunk in public.

SCOTT CLEVELAND, Cloverdale/Ukiah. DUI.

MANUEL DELOERA-CARILLO, Covelo. DUI, controlled substance.

Durazo, Frease, Gensaw

MONALISA DURAZO, Covelo. Probation revocation.

MANUEL FREASE, Covelo. Community supervision violation.

RANDALL GENSAW, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.

Haas, Krull, Ludi

ISABELLE HAAS, Westport. Maintenance of drug selling/dispensing place, armed with assault weapon/firearm, possession of drugs while armed, possession of assault weapon, controlled substance.

LOUIS KRULL, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

CHLOE LUDI, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.

Page, Pigford, Reyes

MARTIN PAGE, Santa Rosa/Wilits. Drunk in public, resisting.

URSALA PIGFORD, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

TOMAS REYES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Shealor, Wright, Yeomans

DANIEL SHEALOR, Fort Bragg. Ex-felon with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, possession of drugs while armed, paraphernalia, controlled substance.


DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

* * *


I know healthcare will not be fixed, not because I am psychic, not because I am some sort of perceptive genius, I am neither.

I need to see, and know, only one thing;

Whenever the subject comes up, at least half the commentary amounts to pious platitudes about cheeseburgers and cigarettes, and narratives built on the highly dubious proposition that living to be 150 is the norm. As if this were an Episode of The People’s Court, or worse, The Jerry Sprenger Show.

The petty, pointless, vindictiveness of Americans, directed at their own, is staggering.

Whatever American nationalism is, it certainly is not love of people.

* * *

* * *


by Jake Rohrer

I suppose two dollars is a reasonable assessment of value for a 20-year old plastic duck decoy, a fair price to pay, I think, at a yard sale. I got it from my brother years ago, a hen mallard, and mounted her on top of my mailbox. I liked her presence there, spreading her charm and her (de)coy duck-smile to passersby. Now and then I am sure she evoked a smile in return. There's something about ducks that can do that. I think, too, that she represented a small piece of our personality. One day, about two years ago, I came to collect the mail and discovered that someone had ripped her from her perch and left her lying on the ground. Why would someone do that? It seemed a personal affront and stirred in me an anger for the perpetrator.

I restored her to her perch and all's been fine until last week when I picked up the mail and immediately noticed that my duck was gone. !!@#** was all I could say. This time, however, the perpetrator had also turned thief and carted her off. I searched up and down the roadway, through nearby vegetation and other likely places without success. The anger at my duck being ripped off returned; not only ripped from her perch, but stolen as well. She was my duck, dammit, and I liked having her there. I felt a certain void at her absence and again wondered, who the hell would do something like that? Who the f**k would steal my duck? An appropriate rhyme for the occasion. I could write a whole Dr. Suess book on that theme, R-rated for language.

But here we go: quirky timing and fate combined to bring about her return. It was only a couple of days following the theft when Lolly and I, along with our pooch, Mo`o (pronounced moe-oh, Hawaiian for lizard or gecko; water spirit) returning from a seaside walk along the pasture-lands east of Ho`okipa and a stop at Mana Foods in Pa`ia, pulled into our driveway. Lolly got out to open the gate and then it happened—the time sequence was uncanny. Had we stopped for a pedestrian, taken a different route, extended our hike, had a longer or shorter check-out line at Mana, driven either faster or slower, or for any number of possibilities not arrived home exactly when we did, the three or four-second window to spot our duck as it passed by our driveway on the back of a bicycle would have been lost. But Lolly spotted it and called out, “Hey! Where did you get that duck?” Then she came around to my window and said, “Our duck's on the back of that bicycle!”

I turned in time to see it disappear up the roadway and thought, yeah, sure looks like our duck. I left Lolly at the gate and drove around the driveway turn-around in pursuit of the duck, Mo`o still in the back seat.

The idea never occurred to me that this relatively simple and straight-forward rescue of our stolen duck would result in cops, charges of assault and one of the most unpleasant and frustrating encounters I've ever had with another human, all over a two-dollar duck. I easily overtook the bicycle and noted that, yes, that's our duck, strapped to a bicycle luggage carrier mounted over the rear wheel. I recognized the lichens that had grown on her as I passed the cyclist who was still working hard to get up the grade.

Places to park or pull off the road are a hard go on Kaupakalua, the two-lane country road on which we live. That county maps identify it as a state highway is sort of a joke. But I thought this would be a brief encounter. So when I reached the top of the grade on level road, I borrowed a neighbor's driveway, got out of the car and crossed the road to face the oncoming traffic lane in which the cyclist, a woman, was traveling. As she approached, I held one hand aloft and gestured to her to pull over. Fat chance. As she reached my position, she swerved out into the oncoming lane and tried to go around me.

“Hey! I just need to talk to you. That's my duck on the back of your bike!” But she kept going.

I managed to get in front of her and grabbed her handlebars, stopping her progress, saying again, “Hey, hold on. That duck was stolen from me. I can prove it to you.” Then all hell started to break loose.

“You're crazy,” she yelled. “Get away from me!”

“Give me my duck and I'll go,” I said, nonplussed. And things soon escalated to personal insults and charges of assault.

“You're assaulting me!”

“No, I am not. I just want my duck back.” She claimed she found it on the road, about 3 miles back.

“Fine. I'm not accusing you of stealing it. I'm just telling you that it was stolen from me, and if you doubt that I can prove it to you.” But she's not having any.

Now she's yelling to neighboring houses, “He's assaulting me! Call the police!” Traffic is starting to pile up behind us but soon passes us by, one by one. Then she starts screaming that I tried to push her into oncoming traffic.

“Bullshit,” I tell her.

A neighbor lady comes from her house, set back about 100 feet from the roadway across a field with a few horses. Her dogs are excited by the ruckus and she yells at me, “You're disturbing my dogs. You better leave her alone or I'll call the police!”

“Please do, call them! I'm only trying to recover my stolen property.”

She gets 911 on the line. They want to know my name and where I live. I tell her and she relays that information to the 911 operator. Then a horn starts honking from the driveway where I parked my car. I go over and apologize to the man exiting the driveway in his car. I briefly explain what's going on and who I am.

“Hey, you Peter's braddah, yeah? I meet you when we pave Peter's driveway.” He says no sweat, leave the car where it is. “Good luck with the lady, brah. Hope you get your duck.”

Throughout all of this I am keeping an eye on the cyclist who I imagine is over 30 and under 50. I am determined that she is not going to pedal off with my duck. Her face is contorted with a mean-spirited hatefulness that seems to radiate from her, her forehead lined with trenches that speak to rage and appear to be permanent.

Then she starts in on me again, “Look at you, you weak old man.” Her contempt is palpable. “I bet you live in one of these crappy old houses around here.” I am too stunned to reply. Old man? Weak? Crappy house?

Nonetheless, she seems to know that this weak old man is not going to let her leave with his duck. She has no response to my claim of ownership, only that she found it on the road, which should have been enough for her to return it to me. It wasn't her duck. I probably told her what I think of her, but I don't remember exactly what that may have been, other than to remark that I've encountered many a nasty and unreasonable person in my day, and that she occupies a rung at the very top of that ladder.

Now she's got her cell phone out and she's calling 911. I hear her tell the operator that she's being assaulted by a crazy man. She describes our Honda to the operator and goes over to read the license plate number to the phone, but she's stymied by our plate, one of those custom plates that I got for Lolly more than a decade ago that cites the name of our home: ULULOA. She can't pronounce it, has a hard time spelling it.

Now there's more honking from the driveway and the wife of the fellow who I apologized to wants to know who the hell is in her driveway. I explained again and tell her I am there with permission, but she wants me to move and points to a spot that will almost get me out of the traffic lane. And, of course, our pooch Mo`o is still in the back seat. We're only a couple hundred yards or so up the hill from our driveway and I decide I should get Mo`o home and Lolly is doubtless concerned about what might be going on. I've been gone for about 15 minutes on what should have been a 2-minute errand.

I tell the cyclist—I called her “sweetheart” for some strange reason that probably has something to do with cynicism and Humphrey Bogart—and told her I am going to take my dog home and to tell the cop I'll be right back if he arrives in my absence, but most of what I said was lost in a petulant response you might expect from a spoiled child: she starts chanting or singing some nonsensical gobbledegook-gibberish, intended not to communicate anything but to drown me out, to keep my words from entering her personal space; I am not worthy of her attention.

At that moment I have to admit that the thought of assault was appealing, but I knew full well, without question, that I must deny myself any such satisfaction if I wish to continue my membership in a civil society. Additionally, the thought of going to jail doesn't sit well with me. Been there, done that.

I drop off our pooch and tell Lolly that I have encountered the Queen Bitch of Maui and may be facing a charge of assault, but was confident that I would return.

I wasn't gone more than a minute or two and, sure enough, the cop arrived in my absence and now his car is in the driveway where mine used to be. I pull off the roadway as best I can into the spot the lady pointed out to me. The cop has his notebook out and is taking down Queen Bitch's description of the Great Assault. I stand off by my car, patiently awaiting my turn. I can't hear what she is telling the cop. Her bike is laid down by the side of the road, the duck still strapped to the carrier. She empties her backpack, searching for her ID which she finally comes up with. My turn with the cop.

I was telling the cop the story of discovering the theft and seeing our duck go by on the back of this woman's bicycle. I told him that I never touched her, I only grabbed the handlebars to keep her from fleeing with my stolen property, that she refused to talk with me or have a conversation other than hurl false accusations and call me names. Queen Bitch has inched forward to hear my conversation with the cop and attempts to interrupt.

“Be quiet!” I tell her, vehemently, right in front of the cop, “This is my turn; you've had yours.” She shut up and the cop doesn't say a word.

He asks if I have ID which I hand him. He says, “I suppose you have a receipt or something that will prove this is your duck?” I could hardly wait for this.

“You see the lichens, that fungus -like stuff, on one side of the duck? It will match, identically, the lichens on my mailbox where the duck was mounted. It's just down the road. Take the duck off the bike and look at the underside. You will find 3 screw-holes where it was attached to the top of the mailbox.”

At this point the Queen Bitch just couldn't hold it in. “They all have that,” she sneered, trying to somehow disprove my claim of ownership and that she possesses some kind of duck decoy expertise.

“No, they do not,” I said. “The holes are random and will match, perfectly, the three screws that are still upright up on the top of my mailbox where the duck was mounted. Let's go have a look, shall we?”

Just then another cop arrived. Backup. But the first cop was already satisfied that it was my duck. He is reporting the incident to Cop Control Central through something like a cell phone mounted on his shoulder. He gives my name wrong, using my middle name as first, and I correct him. He gives me back my ID and I tell him if there is an assault allegation against me, then it's only fair that a charge of theft is alleged against her; she's certainly behaving like a thief. Queen Bitch is unable to present any witnesses or wounds, and now seems to accept a quiet defeat. She removed the duck from her bike and put it down on the side of the road where the cop and I were talking.

The cop tells me that the allegation in his report will be harassment, not assault, and that there's no proof that she stole the duck. You could say that I harassed her in the same sense that a stranger might take offense at the suggestion, “Hey, it looks like you've found my volley ball.” I'd do it again because I am a stubborn fool when I think I am right.

“You got your duck back,” said the cop. Damn right I did, officer.

Back home I am relating the two-dollar duck massacre to Lolly. When I come to the part about Queen Bitch calling me a weak old man, she can sense that I found that bothersome. “Look at me,” she says, surveying my face. “Why don't you shave off your beard? It's as white as the hair on your head.”

Later, after the deed is done, Lolly says, “You've taken 10 years off of your appearance! It's the silver lining.” Well, as long as she thinks so. So far no one else has noticed. Other than me. After wearing that beard for at least the last decade, I'm wondering who that guy in the mirror might be.

* * *


In the MCN Announce listserv Connie Dreahn wrote: “It would be so awesome to have a 24 hour span of just positive, loving, kind, refreshing, uplifting announcements on the announcement page!! Have a Blessed Day, Connie”

Marco McClean replied: Challenge accepted. It's on the chalkboard by the door to the planet's office in, um, Svalbard, just across the ice quad from the Dust laboratory: "We've gone 24106500000* (24 billion) days without a worldwide extinction level event! So we've broken even on catering the safety training and we're in the black now. But don't get cocky. Proper ladder discipline, people! Never clock in impaired! And one hand over the stop switch at all times. Don't be Christian Bale in The Machinist."

1. End of the Ordovician period, 162171000000 days ago, bang, 86% of species lost. 2. Late Devonian, 136968750000 days ago, whoosh, 75% of species lost. 3. Last of the Permian, 91677750000 days ago, oof, 96% of species lost. 4. End of the Triassic, 73050000000 days ago, biff, 80% of species lost. *5. End of the Cretaceous period, 24106500000 days ago, pow, 76% of all species lost. But after all those terrible black eyes for management, millions and millions of new species developed, and ate each other and progressed and declined and left their bones and byproducts and layers of minerals to show that they had lives and danced and laid eggs (or sporified, or parasitized the nuclei of available other creatures' cells) and experienced heat and cold and turmoil and pleasure and triumph and puzzlement and so on, to varying degrees of sophistication. So that's good, right? I think it's good.

And, thank you, I did have a blessed day. Juanita had Saturday off, and she decided not to go to a historical dress-up dance in Oakland, so we hung around the house together and read and wrote and worked on our projects, and I looked up some anime series that came highly recommended, and I washed our clothes and the bedsheets and went to Safeway and got cheap root beer and ice cream and we had root beer floats until we were stuffed and there's still half the ice cream and root beer left. I'll give it to Michael downstairs when I pack the car to go back to the coast.

Ten minutes of work pays for twelve root beer floats. Truly this is a golden age. Successor species will look back on us with wonder and envy and gentle chitinous humor even as they squabble and rattle their dicks at each other over what day of the nine-day week to pray on and which multiple-headed polka-dotted insectoid goddess to pray to.

Marco McClean

* * *


Wanda's dishwasher quit working so she called in a repairman.

Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman, "I'll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I'll mail you a check. Oh, by the way don't worry about my dog Spike. He won't bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to my parrot! I MUST STRESS TO YOU: DO NOT TALK TO MY PARROT!!!"

When the repairman arrived at Wanda's apartment the following day, he discovered the biggest, meanest looking dog he has ever seen. But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet watching the repairman go about his work.

The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing and name calling. Finally the repairman couldn't contain himself any longer and yelled, "Shut up, you stupid, ugly bird!"

To which the parrot replied, “Sic him Spike…”

* * *


On Monday, April 3, at 1 pm, Pacific Time, John Sakowicz and Sid Cooperrider interview anthropologist Janne Wedel about the "swamp creatures" in Trump's White House.

Wedel, an anthropologist, is a University Professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. She just wrote the piece “A Field Guide to Trump’s Swamp.” Her books include Unaccountable: How The Establishment Corrupted our Finances, Freedom, and Politics and Created an Outsider Class and Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.

Listen at 105.1 FM in Ukiah. We also stream live from the web at


  1. BB Grace April 3, 2017

    re: Fort Bragg Grange, now The Fort Bragg Guild, we are the same organization we have been since 1938.

    Yeah? What’s the secret password?

  2. Jim Updegraff April 3, 2017

    Not the best start for the Giants – hope this is not the start of a trend for the bullpen.

    • George Hollister April 3, 2017

      Yep. Good game though.

  3. Eric Sunswheat April 3, 2017

    When CalTrans changed the northbound 101 pavement stripping in the left hand lane at Willits, to left turn only onto westbound 20, the traffic jam was created and intensified. The City of Willits, without stipulating first for CalTrans to revise the travel lane modifications to accommodate traffic, then agreed with the Mendocino Council of Governments, and the Board of Supervisors, to make the Willits Bypass a priority to reduce traffic congestion, and funnel county wide road improvement dollars to that project. City of Willits gained short term economic benefit due to Bypass construction, and what else it did to itself, is history. The County managed to preserve its rural roads character, to reduce commuter sprawl, and keep automobile repair shops fully staffed. Mission accomplished.

    • Lazarus April 3, 2017

      Thanks for the spin but I live there. That lane change you’re talking about was directly connected politically to two things…At the time it was changed the northern festivals coupled with seasonal traveler increases were raising hell with thru traffic during peak periods of the year, i.e. summer time. Rest of the year traffic was pretty easy. CalTrans ran some bogus study and funded the change. And then rumor was, the WEC (Willits Enviro Center) in their elitist, self-serving ways lobbied certain dumb city officials and others, to go along with it, but all along the WEC were really dealing for a roundabout at the intersection…why you ask…who the hell knows…Problem with that was, nobody took the time or effort to measure it out or do some research, seems there wasn’t enough room for such a thing, and “oh by the way”, Safeway was doing their own deal… for a gas station, (which surprise… is currently there).
      The whole exercise was insane and a waste of money, but once done that was it. Everyone knew, but CalTrans would never cop to the fact they were wrong…Sure they fiddled with the striping, length of lanes, and light timers, after the fact. They even did several studies to prove they were right, spoke at city council meetings and everything, but the fix was in, and the damage was done.
      Which brings time to the bypass. What ever short money gain there was for the Willits during the build is minimal at best. The batch plant made money, but as soon as CalTrans left they did too. Motels got a bump, but are now tanking, and the fast food joints were like thieves in the night, but economic benefit… really…?
      The BOS had little to do with the thing in reality, everybody knows CalTrans does what CalTrans wants…that fix was in too.
      For most folks who live in the town the bypass has been a good thing, less traffic and silence… but if you want to do a startup business dependent at all on the passersby, in the area, go to Laytonville. Their gas station got them lined up down the road waiting for a fill up. Gieger’s is doing so good they even recovered from that thief they had handling their money, she went to jail I think.
      In a year, maybe sooner, we’ll know a lot more, but in my opinion it don’t look good for business as usual, but, there is the dope….
      As always,

      • Bruce McEwen April 3, 2017

        You said more in that huge boilermaker than you did all winter in your regular posts — and you know how we detest wordiness on the comment page — and spare me the red-ink bibliography of where you found your sources on the web. If you can’t quote the pertinent parts, let it go.

        This is not a criticism of you, Laz. In fact your piece is the real schiznack, the up-front personal experience, what us journalistic cads and hacks call a ‘primary source.”

        Laz, you rock.

        • Lazarus April 3, 2017

          So Bruce, what is a schiznack? I looked it up and found nothing that made any sense, to me anyway.
          And as a “primary source”, you’re correct.
          And, not a word came from any internet search, not a word.
          I witness from the street…
          Thanks, I think…
          As always,

  4. Judy Valadao April 3, 2017

    Thank you Malcolm for another excellent report on the situation at Mendocino Coast District Hospital.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *