- 101 Open
- Settler Case
- Beer Fest
- Little Dog
- Bragg Not
- PG&E Alternatives
- Creek Restoration
- Limping Justice
- Bewildered Pig
- School Board Meeting
- Modern Romance
- Yesterday's Catch
- Fur Festival
- Animal Party
- Criminalizing Madness
- Science March
- Plant Sale
- Gas Tax
- French Election
- Moribund Dems
- Muhammad & Malcolm
- Garden Tours
- MCHC Board
LEGGETT/101 SLIDE UPDATES from Caltrans, Monday, April 24:
"Traffic is flowing on U.S. 101 north of Leggett! Please follow flagger instructions. Spotters will be watching the hillside 24/7 for rockfall and will alert the flaggers to briefly stop traffic as needed."
* * *
Our contractors have continued to make tremendous headway towards restoring U.S. Highway 101 north of Leggett in Mendocino County to one-way controlled traffic.
While the past few days had been dry and the slide had remained inactive all weekend, last night’s rains (which carried over into this morning) saturated the hillside and caused minor slide activity to resume.
Crews have been working to install a catchment fence atop the K-rail at the bottom of the slide today, which will catch any small debris that falls down the hillside.
Furthermore, a spider excavator was airlifted to a point above the slope escarpment this afternoon and will work to remove sediment and other debris from the top of the slide. Spider excavators are used to tackle jobs on remarkably difficult terrain, and the subcontractor we’re working with specializes in this kind of work.
Trucks have been standing by to remove fill material and take it to our disposal sites on either end of the slide.
It still appears that we’re on track for an opening later this evening; however, we’re still a few hours out and anything could happen. So long as there are no surprises from the slide, we’ll post to let you know when the highway reopens to one-way controlled traffic later tonight.
LAYTONVILLE POT SLAYING SUSPECTS PLEAD NOT GUILTY.
The seven men are charged with murder and robbery in connection with the death of a Laytonville pot grower.
HERE COME the beer drinkers this weekend at the Boonville Fairgrounds, the 21st annual pound ‘em down fast-fest. An estimated 8,000 beer lovers showed up last year, and at least that many are expected this year. Warm weather is predicted for Saturday, which is good news for the visitors, many of whom camp out for the weekend.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Beerfest this weekend, and I'll be there, count on it. Here I am last year chillin' with the dudes, soaking up the suds. Nobody stops this dawg from having a good time!”
A READER straightens us out on local history:
Braxton Bragg was never in Mendocino. A little history: "In the summer of 1857, 1st Lt. Horatio G. Gibson, then serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, established a military post on the Reservation, approximately a mile and a half north of the Noyo River, and named it for his former commanding officer Capt. Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy. The official date of the establishment of the fort was June 11, 1857; and its purpose was to maintain order on the reservation.”
There seems to be a some confusion about Sonoma Clean Power's offer to include Mendocino County. Maybe this will clear things up a bit: A CCA or “Community Choice Energy” gives customers a choice in their energy provider. With Community Choice Energy, cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase greener energy in bulk and charge less in some cases, help local business to build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at the best rates. This is how we should be able to purchase energy. It is local control. From a local company that doesn't need to have a huge profit to make shareholders happy and overpay it’s executives.
But PG&E doesn’t like competition. We saw that when they spent 45 million dollars to change the California constitution to eliminate the competition to stop Marin County and other Community Choice Energy projects. And lost, because they were wrong.
More PG&E facts from the San Jose Mercury News: “At 6:11:12 pm PDT on September 9, 2010, a huge explosion occurred in the Crestmoor residential neighborhood of San Bruno, near Skyline Boulevard and San Bruno Avenue. This caused a fire, which quickly engulfed nearby houses. The explosion and resulting fire leveled 35 houses and damaged many more. Three of the damaged houses, deemed uninhabitable, were torn down in December, bringing the total to 38. As of September 29, 2010, the death toll was eight people. In January 13, 2012, an independent audit from the State of California issued a report stating that PG&E had illegally diverted over $100 million from a fund used for safety operations, and instead used it for executive compensation and bonuses. In August, 2016, PG&E was convicted of six felony counts for crimes the company committed before and after the 2010 San Bruno explosion, which killed those eight people and destroyed the residential area.”
Oddly, PG&E bestowed pay raises on several executives during that year in which the company was convicted of crimes related to the fatal San Bruno explosion and amid spikes in monthly bills for customers, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. I guess the fines will mean the energy rates will have to go up to pay for this. “Geisha Williams, who was president of the utility’s electricity operations during the company’s 2016 conviction, harvested $4.2 million in total direct compensation, PG&E disclosed in an official filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That was 11.8 percent higher than 2015. Last month, Williams became PG&E’s new CEO. Nickolas Stavropoulos, the president of the utility’s gas operations in 2016, captured $3.9 million in total pay, a jump of 9.2 percent from the year before, the SEC documents shows.” Is this the company that should have a monopoly on our energy?
I became interested in The Community Aggregate (Choice) idea and called up the bill’s author, Paul Fenn. He gave me the history of the CCA bill, written in 2001. Community Choice: Better than a greedy corporation. I followed the Marin Supervisors when they pushed their Marin Clean Energy concept through. I visited them with Supervisor Hamburg and learned more. Thanks to some very bright people, Marin County residents can now purchase greener energy at somewhat lower rates and 100% green is available. Marin has now backed local county businesses that create energy to work towards a County produced energy. Marin Clean Energy has committed nearly $516 million to 195 megawatts of new California local renewable energy projects. Those include a 10.5-megawatt solar project in Richmond, a 4-megawatt landfill waste-to-energy project in Novato, a 1.5-megawatt solar project in Novato’s Cooley Quarry, a 1-megawatt solar project at San Rafael Airport and a 1-megawatt project at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato. PG&E does not like this.
Sonoma County saw the success of Marin Clean Energy and created their own Community Choice Energy — Sonoma Clean Power and yes, it works too. Lower rates, cleaner energy and local control.
Shawn Marshall was a main force for Marin Clean Energy and who spoke to many in Mendocino County recently, brought here by Supervisor Hamburg. As she has said; “The accomplishments of cheaper cleaner energy proves MCE is a sound business model.” She is correct. I watched it happen from the start. Both in Marin and Sonoma County and It is successful.
I don’t think Mendocino County has the money to create its own public power agency. Sonoma County has offered to let Mendocino County energy users a chance to buy into this setup. Supervisor Hamburg brought it to a vote by the Mendocino County Supes and I wrote a letter to each Supervisor. It passed unanimously. I am happy to go with Sonoma County Clean Power. After seeing these non profit companies make this work, this should be a no brainer.
ON THURSDAY, MAY 4TH AT 5:00 PM, there will be a tour of the Denmark Creek Fish Barrier Removal & Riparian Enhancement Project led by the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District. This project was implemented in October 2015 and consisted of removing the legacy/old highway crossing, including about 100 feet of metal/cement culvert(s), to open up fish passage and remove a chronic sediment source to the creek. We will walk and talk through the restoration project with before and after photos and tell the story of how this part of the creek now serves as great habitat for yellow legged frogs and as a corridor for river otters and one day, hopefully soon, steelhead trout!
Denmark Creek is located half way between Boonville and Philo. Directions: take the frontage road off of Hwy 128, where Lichen Estate Winery is located, we will meet in the cul-de-sac at the base of Vista Ranch Estates road at 5pm. This project was funded through Prop 84/Department of Water Resources and the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program/California Department of Natural Resources. For more information call 895-3230.
MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES: “On my drive to and from Anderson Valley yesterday, I noticed the barn just north of Mountain House has begun to fall down; the roof gone and the back wall falling outward. The barn is certainly old, though it is hard to know if it was built by Alexander McDonald between 1859 and 1880, his son Richard McDonald (between 1880 and at least the 1920s) or – though unlikely – someone more recent. Since Mountain House was the midway stop on the way to the Cloverdale railhead in 19th and early 20th centuries, many Anderson Valley ranchers spent the night there while bringing their sheep to market, probably stabling their horses in that barn. Sad to see it go after all these years.”
THE COUNTY’S limping justice system, a daily process only tangentially related to justice, managed to put our hardworking genius of the stitchery, Suzan Topales, on trial last week. Although Suzan was the victim of repeat threats and embarrassing public bullying from Kelli Adams, a mentally ill Boonville woman, Suzan’s testimony was met with sarcasm and idiot skepticism by the officers of the court. Kelli, you could say, is also a victim of the court system where she definitely does not belong. So you have a good two full days of expensive lawyering and court time to hold a mentally ill woman responsible for acts she commits when she is removed from reality, and an honest woman has to spend a day away from her work to convince this apparatus of wildly overpaid lawyers that she’s telling the truth!
AT THE MENTION of restaurants, everyone I know who’s eaten at Navarro’s Bewildered Pig comes away raving about the place. Some locals of the food-as-fuel type, me included, have assumed that prices excluded us. They don’t. Every Thursday night there’s a weekly special for $17 or less, and on Fridays there are three course dinners for $30 which, for food of this quality, is a very big bargain. The culinary excitement this tiny place has inspired has already spilled out of the Anderson Valley and into the national media, reminding me of the early days of the New Boonville Hotel under Vernon and Charlene Rollins, circa middle 1980s. Gastro-fanatics were flying in to Boonville from all over the country to eat at the New Boonville. Same phenomena with the Bewildered Pig.
LAST TUESDAY’S school board meeting promptly commenced at the advertised time of 7pm. The school board is attentive and on-task, the most conscientious board in some time. Students are represented by Hugo Chavez who looks like he’d much prefer being elsewhere, as what young person wouldn’t. Four of the five trustees have children enrolled locally and seem to keep close tabs on what happens on both campuses. School board meetings are held in the excruciatingly uncomfortable, sterile confines of the high school cafeteria, a kind of sensory deprivation tank cleared of all signs of life for these monthly meetings. The evening’s business included a discussion of the new structures proposed for the Elementary School grounds. Tiny house structures are one possibility but someone has dismissed them as “chicken coops,” not that that characterization necessarily will exclude them from consideration by the committee of parents and teachers who will make recommendations to the board. There was a report out of closed session about a disciplinary hearing for a high school student who’d brought marijuana brownies to school to sell. The student was put on tight probationary status rather than expelled. Don Almeida, the smart and personable man steering bond-funded construction at both school sites, reported that all was proceeding according to plan, a summation echoed by bond man Michael Riemenschneider of Eastshore Consulting and son of Mendo Superior Court judge, David Riemenschneider. Long-time district teacher, Leslie Hubbert, complained of the process by which she’d been moved from one teaching assignment to another. The board looked impassively back at her without comment. We’ve learned that Bill Sterling is raising money to expand and enhance the science program at the high school while Robert Anderson has donated a series of books to the school library and is in discussions with Superintendent Hutchins to make the library more user friendly.
THE FAMOUS TENNESSEE runaways who were finally run to ground in Siskiyou County after passing through the legendary Black Bear Commune, got me a-thinkin' about the communes of Mendocino County that flourished in the early 1970s. If the portly Tennessee teacher and his underage Lolita had landed in Mendo circa 1972, they would have been welcomed as exemplars of Do Your Own Thing-ism. Mendo communes were teeming with hippie-sanctioned sexual predators, but in 2017 the Tennessee teacher is simply assumed to be a chomo, the girl a kidnap victim. But isn't it at least conceivable there was great mutual affection between them? Are teenage girls incapable of choice? Yeah, yeah. Of course a teacher blah blah blah, and we’ll cut here to standard statements of righteous indignation from professional viewers with alarm.
NOT EXACTLY a case in point, but given the electronic porn swamp, a teenage girl of 2017 is not the teenage girl of 1955, and the babes of yesteryear, in my faded memory, wouldn't be confused with vestal virgins either.
TAKE CHRIS ANDERSEN, the famous basketball player. Because the vocabulary of a whole generation of young people has devolved into a kind of grunting shorthand and cyber-symbols, a Canadian shut-in created an entire on-line romance between the millionaire athlete and an under-age Kim Kardashian look-alike named Paris Dunn.
“MY GAWD! SHE’S JUST A CHILD!”
THE SHUT-IN, a very odd Native American 30-something female from a Canadian rez deep in the middle of literal nowhere, arranged a weekend boff-a-thon between Mr. Slam Dunk and Young Kim, both of whom all along thought they were talking to each other LOL. Young Kim, with full permission of her mother (!) flies from LA to Denver to, as the young people say, "hook-up" with Slam Dunk. The Canadian shut-in then posts shots of the couple’s boff-a-thon for the world to see. Slam Dunk is immediately globally denounced as a cho-mo and all-round degenerate before he realizes he and Kim had been had by the Canadian e-puppeteer. It's an astounding story but a primo example of how millions of young people communicate that's so primitive the young are literally interchangeable, so interchangeable that a Canadian weirdo can create their entire relationship by remote control.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 24, 2017
SHAWN BIAS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, resisting.
ANGELA GUTIERREZ, Hopland. DUI.
MEGAN SHANNON, Willits. Battery.
DANIEL YOUNG, Fort Bragg. DUI.
FRIENDS FUR FUN FESTIVAL Friday 4/28 - Saturday 4/29
Five Animal organizations on the coast have come together to create “Friends Fur Fun Festival.” This festival will help support animals in need on the Mendocino Coast. Hope you can join us!
'FRIENDS FUR FUN FESTIVAL'
PET ADOPTION, SILENT AUCTION, YARDSALE & MORE!
Friday, 4/28 11:am - 3:pm
Saturday, 4/29 11:am - 7:pm
18180 B North Hwy 1, Just South of the Botanical Gardens
The Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County is hosting its annual Animal Party on Saturday, June 10th at the Little Lake Grange is Willits. This year’s dance party features Mystic Soul, Pick N Pull and The Flaming O’s. Tickets are $20 at the door. Doors open at 6 pm and music goes until 11 pm. There will be a raffle and silent auction, beer and wine, and food by Ramirez Taco Truck. Come kick off the summer music season while donating to a great cause! All proceeds go directly to the animals.
Mystic Soul: Local women’s AfroCuban conga drum ensemble. 7 people, been playing together for 4 years
Pick N Pull: Local guys playing old time acoustic hillbilly dance music and original sing alongs. Very fun guys, great to dance to.
Flaming O’s: Rockers featuring Willit’s own hometown girl Mona Gnader. Dance and rock classics made for grooving.
Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County details:
A non profit (501c3) animal rescue in Redwood Valley. This organization is completely funded by donations and fund raisers such as the Animal Party. Last year, over 600 animals (roughly 400 cats and 225 dogs) came through the shelter and the majority of those found forever homes. HSIMC is always looking for volunteers, especially dog walkers and foster homes. You can become an HSIMC member by visiting their website at www.mendohumanesociety.com or calling 485-0123.
TREATING MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS AS CRIMINALS
by Patrick Cockburn
The criminalization of the mentally ill is one of the cruelest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. In the next few days, the state of Arkansas is intending to execute by lethal injection a 60-year-old man called Bruce Ward who showed signs of insanity at the time of his conviction for murder and was diagnosed by a court-recognized psychiatrist in 2006 as being a paranoid schizophrenic.
Ward is one of seven men facing execution in Arkansas after the first death sentence in the state since 2005 was carried out on Thursday. “He appears not to understand that he is about to die, believing instead that he is preparing for a ‘special mission’ as an evangelist,” says a report by the Harvard University Fair Punishment Project. A second man scheduled for execution is Jason McGehee who suffers from bipolar disorder and possible brain damage.
The prison systems in the US and UK have replaced psychiatric hospitals as the place where people suffering from severe mental illness are most likely to find themselves. It is a process that has been going on since the 1960s, fueled by a desire to save money, a belief that medication would replace hospitalization, and a liberal reaction against what was seen as unnecessary incarceration. Between 1955 and 2016, the number of state hospital beds in the US available to psychiatric patients fell by over 97 per cent from 559,000 to just 38,000. An expert noted despairingly that the biggest de facto psychiatric institutions in the US today are Los Angeles County jail, Chicago’s Cook County jail and New York’s Riker’s Island. Those who are not in prison or hospital “become violent or, more often, the victims of violence. They grow sicker and die. The personal and public costs are incalculable,” says a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center in Virginia. Mentally ill people, usually poor and unemployable because of their condition, are sometimes advised that the only way they will get even the crudest treatment is by being sent to prison.
The same process is happening in Britain. One of the justifications for closing down the old asylum system was that they were too much like prisons, but the paradoxical result has been that psychiatric patients are now ending up in real prisons. The number of beds available for mental health patients in the UK has dropped by three quarters since 1986/87 to about 17,000, while the Centre for Mental Health says that 21,000 mentally ill people are imprisoned, making up a quarter of the prison population.
For many mentally ill people, the prospect of incarceration is becoming probable in an unexpected reversion to eighteenth century practice. Some are left to wander the streets but most are looked after by their families who may not have the resources to do so. Deceptively progressive sounding words, like ‘deinstitutionalization’ in the US and ‘care in the community’ in the UK, are used to describe the ending of the vast system that once catered for psychiatric patients.
Some of these institutions were hellholes, and others became unnecessary because medication was available from the 1950s that controlled some of the worst symptoms of mental illness. But the old system did at least provide an asylum in the sense of a place of safety where people who could not look after themselves were cared for. Supposing ‘care in the community’ had been more than an attractive slogan, it might have provided something of a replacement for the old asylums, but the care it provided was always inadequate.
The reality of the new system was best described by the detective-story writer P.D. James, an administrator in the NHS in London whose husband was a long-term patient in a mental hospital. She wrote that since the 1970s community care “could be described more accurately as the absence of care in a community still largely resentful or frightened of mental illness.”
Not much has changed for the better since P.D.James was writing, as was made plain this week by the report of the Sir Thomas Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who complained that the police are increasingly being used as the “first resort” for people with mental health problems. He said that sometimes they ended up spending the night in police cells even though they had committed no crime because no hospital beds were available. He added that the “inadequacy” of mental health provision should “disturb everyone”.
Marjorie Wallace, the founder and chief executive of SANE, a mental health charity, explains that governments have every incentive to keep mental patients out of hospital, since “providing a single bed costs the same as ‘treating’ 44 people in the community.” She welcomed Theresa May’s intention expressed in a speech earlier this year to do something about “the burning injustice of mental health and inadequate treatment”, but says that this will remain a Utopian vision unless there is more ring-fenced money for psychiatric services which are already close to breakdown.
There is more open discussion than there used to be about mental illness, with a campaign against stigmatization and exhortations for people to seek counseling or simply speak up about their mental troubles before they become chronic and irreversible. Prince Harry spoke movingly about the negative consequences for himself of repressing his grief over the death of his mother when he was twelve years old. Celebrities reveal their anxieties and breakdowns. Such openness is important because it reduces personal isolation and makes people feel that they will not be treated as pariahs if they speak up.
When I first began to write about schizophrenia in 2002, I found that my friends and relatives divided into those who knew nothing about mental illness and those who knew all too much about it. But the latter had often never mentioned previously that they were looking after a sister with schizophrenia or a brother who could not leave his flat without having a breakdown. One friend disclosed a terrible story of a sister-in-law who had poured petrol over herself and set it alight, suffering burns over three quarters of her body from which she took weeks to die in agony.
Openness and discussion are important, but they skirt the heart of the problem, which is that a proportion of people who are mentally ill cannot look after themselves. The severity and incurability of a mental illnesses are often underestimated and there may be exaggerated expectations of preventing their onset by early intervention. The precise causes and nature of mental illness remains very much a mystery so a large number of people are always going to become desperately ill. Schizophrenia, for instance, is to mental illness what cancer is to physical illness. When Prince Harry talked about psychological troubles, debilitating though these may be, they are still not the same as full blown psychosis or, in other words, madness.
The present system has failed and the result is the creeping criminalization of madness. The only way to reverse this is to build a core of dedicated hospitals that will care for and protect psychiatric patients who cannot do this for themselves and are a potential danger to themselves and others.
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of The Rise of the Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution, and Henry’s Demons: A Father and Son’s Journey Out of Madness, co-written with his son Henry about his son’s struggles with pot-induced mental illness. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
MARCH FOR SCIENCE FORT BRAGG
Linked below is video from the March for Science that took place on Saturday in Fort Bragg. I had a great time meeting and talking with so many wonderful people. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who marched and especially those people who spoke up for Science! It’s not always easy answering questions on the fly when some guy walks up to you with a camera. Folks did GREAT. Sadly, several interviews had audio problems and I was not able to use the footage. If I spoke with you and your interview is not here, that is why. Several that are included here are audio challenged to say the least, but are listen-able. Everyone I spoke to had good things to say. If I mis-spelled you name, please forgive me, but be sure to correct me and I will post the correct spelling as required. MANY THANKS to the organizers and everyone who came out to celebrate Science! The video runs just under 32 minutes. Enjoy!
In order of appearance:
- Dr. John
- AnneMarie and David
- Caroline and William
- John (CERN)
- Mr. E=MC2 (I forgot to ask his name so I dubbed him Mr. E=MC2 :)
- Tyler (audio challenged but in the acceptable range, barely, roll with it)
- Tim Bray
JERRY CALLS MIKE
by Mike Koepf
Second District, State Senator, smiling Mike McGuire, sits in his San Rafael office flossing his teeth. Phone rings. Office aide number 99 picks up the phone.
“Mike. It’s Jerry.”
“Jesus, Jerry!” McGuire grabs the phone. “Mr. Governor!”
“Mike, call me Jerry. I’m calling to thank you for your vote on my added gas tax. By the way, love your headshot. Great teeth!”
“Look, Mike, I know there are a lot of people in the more rural parts of your district who have to drive long distances to work and eat, but screw ‘em. We’ve Jerrymandered your district so that rural folks don’t count any more. You’ve got nothing to worry about. Mike, focus on wine and the rubes in Marin and Santa Rosa. Jerrymandering, Mike, and that’s a pun. Get it? There’s a hell of lot more rich-lib, share the road pedal asses with Teslas and Priuses in their garages down in Marin County than there are cross-eyed hicks from Mendocino driving gas-guzzling, beater pickups. If they can’t bicycle to their logging sites, grow stores or Walmart, then I say you can honestly forget about them. Mike, it’s all adding up. 12 cents more per gallon, added to the 30 cent excise tax, plus the 2.5% gas sales tax, plus the 10 cents per gallon we take for from the oil companies for global warming, which is passed on to consumers, plus those California added fees for designer gas additives. What’s that so far, Mike—25, 30 cents? Mike, it’s hard to keep track. What else? We’ve got local, sales taxes. That’s another 6 to 10 cents. Mike, we’ve topping 70 cents a gallon in gas taxes. Add 19 cents for the Feds, and it’s pushing a buck a gallon. Fabulous!”
“Congrats, Jerry, but what do those greedy, oil companies make?”
“7 cents a gallon. 24 cents if they own the refineries. Mike, government makes more in taxes on one gallon of gas than the oil companies. Think of that, Mike, but keep it to yourself.”
“Will do, Jerry.”
“Mike, 12 cents a gallon more will rake in 52 billion in ten years. Cha-ching! Caltrans already gets 50 billion a year to fix the roads. Some of that is siphoned off legislative perks. But, Mike, between you and me, I told Caltrans to rest on their shovels for a while to help me with this tax—the old wink-wink. Mike, the only way to fill a pothole is with cash. Of course, we’re forking out $25 billion a year to illegals for law enforcement, incarceration, social services, and education. With that money we could have repaved every road in the state several times over in the past 20 years. But, Mike, we’re compassionate taxers, at least when it come to people from other countries. Mike, a sanctuary state is far more important than wrecked front ends, broken wheels or flat tires. Damaged cars soften the public up. It induces them to spend more in addition to their existing repair and gasoline bills. Besides, when it came to the 12 cents added, the public had no vote. That’s the way we like it. California’s a one party, progressive system, Mike. The enlightened minority knows what’s best for the dumb majority. Anyhow, Mike, thanks for your help and keep smiling. You know, I don’t like that Huffman’s smile at all. Too forced. He looks like a rabbit with a punched-in face. Thompson’s got a chip in his teeth and that assemblyman over there, what’s his name: Wood? He hardly smiles at all, and he’s a dentist for God’s sake. Mike, a smile is where it’s at when it’s time to increase a tax.”
READY, SET, SPLAT
by James Kunstler
As I write, the French stock market (the CAC 40), is doing a grand jeté (up 4.5 percent!) in celebration of Emmanuel Macron’s assumed slaying of the dragon Le Pen. But that was just the first round under the interesting French election system. Consider that two other candidates who were eliminated, Monsieurs Fillon and Mélenchon, got nearly 40 percent of the vote. Are we so sure about where their voters go in the second and final round two weeks from now?
I suspect that most Americans — even the ones who follow Rachel Maddow — are about as interested in French politics as differential calculus. Macron, 36, is a blank slate. He was finance minister under current president François Hollande, of the Socialist Party, but declared during the election campaign that he’s not a socialist, he only wanted to be of service to his country, and this time he ran under his own party, En Marche! He appears to represent the continuation of business-as-usual with the European Union, which seems to put him on the wrong side of history at this crucial moment — if you suppose, as I do, that the EU is so riddled with hopeless financial contradictions and centrifugal political tensions that it is unlikely to persist.
Yet, understandably, people are reluctant to change the system they’re living under. Le Pen wants to blow the EU up, especially the bureaucracy lodged in Brussels that has become a self-serving and self perpetuating monster. Blowing up the EU would necessarily, it seems, mean the end of the European Central Bank, and with it the scams and Ponzi schemes that have provided an appearance of normality, despite an official 10.5 percent unemployment rate in France and a constant chain of public massacres by resident Jihadistas of one sort or another, some of them perpetrated by radical refugees allowed in under EU policy.
Macron might serve the interests of the American Deep State, which is determined to drive a wedge between Europe and the Chinese-Russian-Iranian “silk road” economic bloc that would consolidate trade in the Eastern Hemisphere. The US wants “the West” to remain what it had been for seventy years: the dominant posse. Even if the underlying conditions remained the same, this might not be possible.
But those underlying conditions are changing, and in ways that much of the political maneuvering across the West cannot alter, or even comprehend, for instance, the inability of these mature industrial economies to grow anymore. That is largely a function of the end of affordable energy. Unfortunately, the absence of growth portends not stagnation but collapse as society fails to generate enough new wealth to pay its debts.
Now, we’ve seen a pretty impressive demonstration of advanced nations playing financial games to cover up this corrosive condition. But the dishonesty at work is pretty obvious, and the problem with dishonesty in financial affairs is that it represents unreality. The accrued momentum in colossal sums of money flowing this way and that way has allowed unreality to reign in international finance for a while. But that is now flying apart. The ultimate reality, politicians and economists will soon discover, is that you can’t create your own reality.
So whatever you think now about the French election, or the fate of the EU, is liable to change as the great debt crack-up our time finally gets underway and suddenly every nation has to scramble desperately to keep its shit together. That magic moment may be at hand this week as the US congress returns from Easter recess to face its budget and debt ceiling dilemmas. If the credit-worthiness of this country takes a wrong turn, it will upset the global currency system. In fact, it will rip a hole in financial time-and-space into which the presumed value of all sorts of things represented on paper and computer drives will disappear, never to be seen again.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
DEMS DELIVER ONE THING IN LAST 100 DAYS: DISAPPOINTMENT.
The time has come to bid farewell to a moribund party that lacks imagination, courage and gusto.
by Cornel West
The distinctive feature of these bleak times is the lack of institutional capacity on the left – the absence of a political party that swings free of Wall Street and speaks to the dire circumstances of poor and working people. As the first 100 days of the plutocratic and militaristic Trump administration draw to a close, one truth has been crystal clear: the Democratic party lacks the vision, discipline and leadership to guide progressives in these turbulent times.
The neoliberal vision of the Democratic party has run its course. The corporate wing has made it clear that the populist wing has little power or place in its future. The discipline of the party is strong on self-preservation and weak on embracing new voices. And party leaders too often revel in self-righteousness and self-pity rather than self-criticism and self-enhancement. The time has come to bid farewell to a moribund party that lacks imagination, courage and gusto.
The 2016 election – which Democrats lost more than Republicans won – was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The unfair treatment of Bernie Sanders was but the peak of the iceberg. In the face of a cardboard Republican candidate equipped with pseudo-populist rhetoric and ugly xenophobic plans, the Democratic party put forward a Wall Street-connected and openly militaristic candidate with little charisma.
The crucial issues of a $15 minimum wage and saying no to fracking, no to TPP, no to Israeli occupation and yes to single-payer healthcare were pushed aside by the corporate wing and the populist wing was told to quit whining or take responsibility for the improbable loss.
The monumental collapse of the Democratic party – on the federal, state and local levels – has not yielded any serious soul-wrestling or substantive visionary shifts among its leadership. Only the ubiquitous and virtuous Bernie remains true to the idea of fundamental transformation of the party – and even he admits that seeking first-class seats on the Titanic is self-deceptive and self-destructive.
We progressives need new leadership and institutional capacity that provides strong resistance to Trump’s vicious policies, concrete alternatives that matter to ordinary citizens and credible visions that go beyond Wall Street priorities and militaristic policies. And appealing to young people is a good testing ground.
Even as we forge a united front against Trump’s neofascist efforts, we must admit the Democratic party has failed us and we have to move on. Where? To what? When brother Nick Brana, a former Bernie campaign staffer, told me about the emerging progressive populist or social democratic party – the People’s party – that builds on the ruins of a dying Democratic party and creates new constituencies in this moment of transition and liquidation, I said count me in.
And if a class-conscious multi-racial party attuned to anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-militaristic issues and grounded in ecological commitments can reconfigure our citizenship, maybe our decaying democracy has a chance. And if brother Bernie Sanders decides to join us – with many others, including sister Jill Stein and activists from Black Lives Matter and brown immigrant groups and Standing Rock freedom fighters and betrayed working people – we may build something for the near future after Trump implodes.
WARNING TO EPILEPSY PATIENTS & OTHERS
by Fred Gardner
New York Times science writer Benedict Carey is a longtime shill for the drug companies and medical device manufacturers. His story hedded “‘Pacemaker’ for Brain May be Aid to Memory,” based on a very small study involving people with epilepsy, was played very big in the Times April 21.
Carey is touting implanted devices that can supposedly “deliver pulses only in the very microseconds when they’re helpful,” and thus improve memory formation and retention.
Epilepsy patients at UCSF, Emory University, the University of Washington and the Mayo Clinic (n = 150) were the test subjects in a just-published study. The bigger market for these “sensitive, timed implants” are dementia patients. Better memory, not seizure reduction is the alleged benefit.
The Defense Department spent $77 million on the research “to develop novel treatments for people with traumatic brain injuries, a signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.” Which means patients at VA Hospitals will be front-line guinea pigs for the new technology.
Here are some phrases gushing from Carey’s reportage: “Breakthrough… can enhance memory… the result of decades of work… ‘The cool thing about this paper’… The new paper resolves the confusion… The clinical placement of the electrodes… the field seems to have turned a corner, experts said. Experts said the new report gives scientists a needed blue-print for moving forward… sensitive, timed implants could bolster thinking and memory in a range of conditions… one of the breakthrough moments… boost performance… has become the leading edge of research into the biology of human memory… the precise settings for each patient’s high- and low-functioning states.”
Whoever is behind Carey’s PR push —the device makers, we assume, while the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency gets thanked by name — is using Dr. Doris Greenblatt as a poster child. Carey notes that Greenblatt has been seizure-free since she had “the surgery for her epilepsy a year ago.” This fact will surely make some people with epilepsy want to get implants, although seizure reduction is not the goal of the procedure, and Greenblatt’s good fortune may be coincidental.
Circa 1990 a friend with epilepsy allowed the implant of a vagus nerve stimulator by a UC neurosurgeon. The operation turned out to be the opposite of helpful. “The new approach,” Benedict Carey now assures us by quoting an assistant professor at UC San Diego, “is a clear demarcation that the era of dumb stimulators is over.” So my unfortunate friend got a dumb stimulator! Unsuccessful outcomes must have been very common if the device makers are so keen to disassociate themselves from their old approach.
Smart bombs… smart stimulators…What else is DARPA developing with our taxpayer dollars? A brain scan that can detect and eradicate subversive thoughts? The Holy Grail!
There ought to be a Sunday morning TV show — it could air right after Meet the Press — called “Who Planted It?” in which savvy journalists discuss and reveal which corporations and government agencies generated the major stories of the week. Andrew and Leslie Cockburn would be the perfect hosts.
Before Marijuana Became a Separate 'Issue'
Just arrived from Amazon is a book called Dangerous Grounds by David Parsons, a young historian, who recounts how coffeehouses set up near Army bases became hangouts for soldiers during the Vietnam War era. The first such enterprise, the UFO coffeehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, was started in the fall of 1967 by your correspondent and Donna Mickleson and Devorah Rossman (your neighbor, who went on to start the Mendocino Mustard company).
Parsons interviewed me for the book, which I'm uneasy about opening. What if he got it wrong? What if he got it right?
On the front cover, prominent among the posters on the coffeehouse wall, is a blow-up of a classic botanical drawing of the Cannabis Sativa plant. I can also make out John Lennon in "How I Won the War," a Fillmore poster, a mushroom cloud, WC Fields, and Lyndon Johnson picking up a beagle by the ears. Back then, ending marijuana prohibition was intertwined as a goal of our movement with ending the war and ending discrimination of all kinds. The underlying cause, really, was freedom
The extent to which pro-marijuana and anti-war sentiment overlapped comes through in Oliver Stone's movie "Platoon," which is set in '67.
In 1969 some soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado, produced an underground paper called "Aboveground" that included an article on "The Pot Culture" signed "By THIS Reporter." (Another piece was signed "By THAT Reporter"). It made some points worth recalling as we get ready for the 50-years-ago barrage:
“The American community in Vietnam is divided into two major sub-cultures which are closely related in their activities. One culture is seeking pot and the other is seeking the Pot Seekers. This gives everybody a chance to play. The 'Wet' Culture is comprised of the officers, senior NCOs and a small number of lower-ranking enlisted men, The Pot Culture on the other hand, encompasses as high as 85 percent of all troops 18-26 years aof age, including a number of Officers (mostly Company grade). Mary Jane has won the hearts of and minds of our troops.
"Did pot come from the jungle to the campus or did it travel to the jungle with the student turned soldier? Conjecture would have it that certainly there is more pot growing in the jungles than on the campuses… even of the Agricultural Institutions.
"A study called 'Marijuana Use in Vietnam: A Preliminary Report' stated that 35 percent of the troops turn on. (This would be over 160,000). The study was conducted by captain Wilfred Postal and appeared in the official Medical Bulletin in Vietnam. The drug rate is highest in units where men hail from metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco and the high rate in Intelligence and Mechanized units suggests that education may be a factor.
Young men, who in no other environment than Vietnam would have even considered smoking Pot, are being turned on everyday. When they return from the war many of them place their new influence where it had not hitherto been, which could try well be the cause of the snowball effect in the States. If one already understands the ways of 'Mary Jane,' chances are he will find a suitable source in less than a week from his day of arrival from Vietnam. If one is not yet familiar with this young Lady, it may take a month before he sees the Pot culture all around him.
‘SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’ GETS EVERYTHING ABOUT MUHAMMAD ALI AND MALCOLM X WRONG
by Dave Zirin
The “what if” discussions are some of the most fun in sports. What if the Chicago Bulls in 1987 hadn’t traded Olden Polynice on draft day for an unknown rookie named Scottie Pippen? What if Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t fire head coach Jimmy Johnson after two straight Super Bowl victories? These discussions are perfect for a sports column or a debate in a bar: fun and airy with no stakes beyond the joy of speculative debate.
But if you are going to have these discussions about the places where the sports world and the real world collide, you had better know your history—not only of the athletes but the era—or you will fail your subject and your readers.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard O’Brien performed such a disservice with a “what if” piece about how history would have been altered if a young fighter named Cassius Clay Jr. had never met Malcolm X. The supposition is that Ali would have still flirted with Malcolm’s black nationalist, separatist organization the Nation of Islam, but would never have joined. He therefore would have never stood up to the war in Vietnam, never would have stayed in the ring too long, never would have gotten Parkinson’s Disease, and in this parallel universe, would have retired undefeated, dying at age 100, rich, healthy, happy, and the best of all time.
What is so wrong about this? Well, everything. Like a circle of stupid, you don’t know where to begin.
First on the history, O’Brien acknowledges that Cassius Clay first came into contact with the Nation of Islam before he ever met Malcolm, but undersells its influence upon him dramatically. He writes, “Raised in the still-segregated South, taught by his father to fear and distrust white people but imbued with a natural curiosity about the world, Cassius Clay attended his first Nation of Islam meeting in 1960. He was soon a member of the relatively new organization, a controversial offshoot of established Islam. (This was kept quiet, to protect his blossoming boxing career). It was Malcolm, though, who gave the young fighter a grounding in the true faith, and a sense of where it could lead him, after the two met in ’62.”
This is misleading. First, Ali’s father taught him more than just to “fear and distrust white people.” Cassius Clay Sr. read the works of Marcus Garvey and his gospel of racial separation and nationalism; teachings that that greatly influenced Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. O’Brien makes it sound like Cassius Clay Sr. was just muttering “Don’t trust whitey.” In reality he was a political actor who had an influence on his son. Secondly, Ali did a lot more than just attend meetings before meeting Malcolm. He was recruited and trained politically by Nation of Islam member Capt. Sam X of Miami, later known known as Minister Abdul Rahman. His relationship with Capt. Sam lasted for years and involved debate, discussion and political training.
Yes, Ali’s friendship with Malcolm was sincere, deep, and influential. Malcolm undoubtedly shaped Ali in a profound way, and the ending of their friendship was something that Ali described as perhaps his deepest regret. But keep in mind that Ali announced publicly that he was joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, at a time when Malcolm was on his way out of the organization. If Malcolm truly held the sway over Ali that O’Brien surmises, then he would have left with him.
Yet let’s suppose for a minute that Ali had joined the NOI directly because of Malcolm’s recruitment efforts. To say it happened only because of Malcolm’s charisma, gives short-shrift to why the 22 year old heavyweight champion found a home in this organization. Ali joined the Nation — and was interested in what Malcolm, Capt. Sam and Elijah Muhammad had to say — because he was disgusted by racism, frustrated by the pace of the Civil Rights Movement, and believed that the society in which he lived was defined by an intractable white supremacy.
When first asked why he joined, he did not speak about Malcolm. He said, “I ain’t no Christian. I can’t be when I see all the colored people fighting for forced integration get blown up. They get hit by the stones and chewed by dogs and then these crackers blow up a Negro Church… People are always telling me what a good example I would be if I just wasn’t Muslim. I’ve heard over and over why couldn’t I just be more like Joe Louis and Sugar Ray. Well they are gone and the Black man’s condition is just the same ain’t it? We’re still catching hell.”
O’Brien writes that without Malcolm, Ali would never have said “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.” Instead, he would have said, “I ain’t got nothin’ for them Black Muslims.” Yes, he really wrote that.
But what moves the piece from being historically sketchy to something loathsome is when O’Brien writes his obituary for this “alternative life Ali.” It’s an obituary that has him entering the draft and doing USO tours with Bob Hope for the troops, living a long healthy life and then dying at age 100 in 2042. The implication is that it is only because of the Nation of Islam that Ali opposed the draft and therefore only because of the Nation of Islam that he was stripped of his title, became bankrupt by 1970, fought past his prime and suffered the brain damage that morphed into Parkinson’s.
Where to begin? First, on the war, Muhammad Ali did not oppose the draft because he was with the Nation of Islam. He opposed the draft because, as he said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”
These ideas in 1968 were hardly confined to the NOI. They were the ideological currency of black revolutionaries and draft resisters—white and black—across the United States. Ali was shaped by Malcolm and he was shaped by the Nation of Islam. But he was also shaped by the reality of the carnage in Vietnam, the movement against the war, and his own principles. (We also know from declassified FBI surveillance files that there were those in the Nation of Islam unhappy with his very public opposition to the draft, but he held firm).
Moreover, to blame Malcolm or the Nation for the brain disease that imprisoned Ali’s beautiful mind and voice for the last thirty years of his life borders on cruelty. It is also politically obscene, like saying “If only there hadn’t been this loud Black Lives Matter movement, then Donald Trump never would have been elected.” It was the US government and the FBI that chose to hound Muhammad Ali for his opposition to their genocidal war in Southeast Asia. It was the mobbed up world of boxing that stripped him of his title and drove him to bankruptcy, forcing him to stay in the ring and take an ungodly amount of punishment. They are the culprits. Instead of this twaddle, Sports Illustrated should have published a “what if” piece on Ali called, “What if the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t so racist and vindictive?”
Also, it must be said that while Muhammad Ali fought for too long to make up for lost earnings, he also loved the cheering crowds, the limelight, and the ring. This idea that he would have left our most brutal of sports with his brain intact, is a slap in the face to every fighter who thought they were leaving on time and still found themselves with a crippling brain disease.
Muhammad Ali—for all of his pain and sacrifice—deserves better than this article. So does Malcolm X. And anyone who cares about how resistance heroes are made deserves a better methodology than what Sports Illustrated has decided to publish.
Here’s my what if: if Muhammad Ali had never met Malcolm X, Ali still joins the Nation of Islam, still opposes the war in Vietnam, and is still made to suffer for the sin of being a person of principle in the dirty world of sports. That’s because the struggles of the 1960s were a far greater motor force in the development of Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. than any one individual. Even Malcolm X.
In a speech to college students, Muhammad Ali once said, “Everybody knows I’m the champion. My ghost will haunt all the arenas. I’ll be there, wearing a sheet and whispering, ‘Ali-e-e-e! Ali-e-e-e!'” His ghost—the actuality of his legacy and memory—also haunts the decision by Sports Illustrated to publish this piece.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
(1) Apparently, Boston is now one of the leaders in urban farming. I always thought urban farming was gardening in empty lots, say like in Detroit, but this isn’t so. It appears that a couple of local entrepreneurs came up with the idea of using shipping-sized containers to hydroponically grow food. The insides have layers of vegetables. The two businessmen were concerned that Boston depends too much on non-local food sources shipped into the city. The containers fit almost anywhere there's extra space, like between to adjacent buildings. Is this the start of a self-sufficiency movement?
(2) I would say Trump is making America less safe. But to your point: Obama took a break for a couple of hours to play basketball and then went back to work. Obama did not fly to Florida for days, at a cost of millions of dollars. When Obama played basketball it did not cost the country millions of dollars; Obama playing basketball did not involve the Coast Guard. Obama and Michelle lived together as a married couple in love. Michelle was not off living somewhere else costing additional millions of dollars in security.
(3) The cable news channels began changing the dynamic. The Internet finished the job. Demagoguery, half-truths and lies are the order of the day…Unfiltered, un-alloyed bullshit is rampant on the internet, and is offered in prodigious volume, without restraint nor responsibility. Fifty years ago, the unwashed could not readily vent their spleen, nor display their ignorance…there were gate-keepers…letters to the editor were censored. The “Internets” have made opinions powerful…right or wrong. It panders to the lowest common denominator. Cat is out of the bag…die has been cast, Genie out of the bottle…. Yes, the ten pounds of shit in a nine pound bag is flaming at our doorstep…stomping on it will provide perhaps a bit of satisfaction, but will not change the vile train wreck that is the information media.
(4) “I just, y’know it was just time to part ways and, and, y’know, get out there, in a, I guess, a more diverse arena to express views and to speak for the public, and that’s what I’ve been to do now.” (Sarah Palin)
(5) Speaking of phones and attention, I’d like to share with you a charming vignette of American family life, which I observed on Easter Sunday. It was a warm morning, so I went out for a stroll. I passed a house where there was a dad visiting, with two little boys. They were out on the lawn, with small kites, which they probably received as Easter gifts, attempting to learn how to use them. They made a few passes to and fro, trailing the kites behind them, a few inches off the ground, as little boys are wont to do, before they lose interest. The bigger of the two, however, started changing his technique, running at different speeds, shortening the string, and so forth, until he caught a breeze, and the kite rose straight up in the air. As he looked at it in astonishment, I glanced over at the dad, wanting to see his reaction to this special moment. Dad had no reaction at all, unless you want to count his poking his thumb at a phone he was staring down at. He didn’t even notice what was happening with his child, until the boy called out to him. Did he put the phone away, after realizing what he just missed? Nah. He didn’t even lower it.
(6) Was just hiking a mountain in northern WA state with a girl. Reached a number of beautiful vistas. Each time, she’d pull out the phone to shoot “selfies”. But she did say once, “Excuse me, I’m being vain.” So I’d want this narcissist to raise my children? I’d put my kids through that? People can’t sit still and enjoy silence or beauty, immerse themselves. They pull themselves out of it, like you said. A second example on the most northern spot in New Zealand, a lighthouse where the Pacific and Tasman seas meet. Am sitting watching and listening to the wind. Up come 5 Germans in their 20’s. Selfie sticks in hand for each one of them. They spend 15 minutes goofing around, photo after photo of themselves, being loud, and then leaving. I couldn’t believe the morons. There was one girl who came with them, and she looked slightly embarrassed. What the hell do you do with all these selfies? Before the selfie thing I had noticed long ago that being on TV, somehow, even in the most passing way as in a crowd or a disaster, provided many people with supreme pride and joy. As if only when ones image was on the screen were you made real. I think the selfie thing is akin to this. If your image is out there in the ether, often against some widely recognizable background then you are made real, or a real someone. Perhaps because it provides the illusion of some small bit of fame. This extends to Facebook as well I think. Images and records of you, the virtual you, are more important to many than the real you.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When I was 11 years old my old-man worked at Trumble Asphalt CO. In OKC, loading 80 lb cylinders of asphalt in a flat bed truck. We rented a three bedroom home at the East edge of town for 45 dollars a month. He drove a 5 year old 59 Chevy wagon with two seats at the back facing the rear. My brother and I had a room with a white line down the middle. Three girls had a room and the littlest a cradle in mom and dad’s room. We had 5 acres to roam tree houses and forts to build, we kept rabbits, chickens and calves. Right after this my life went to hell.
THE GARDEN CONSERVANCY'S OPEN DAYS PROGRAM
Explore four private gardens in Gualala, Hopland, Philo and Point Arena, open for self-guided tours to benefit the Garden Conservancy. Highlights include extensive stone, rock, and tile work, greenhouses, a maze, a potager garden and other edible plantings, and California natives. No reservations required; rain or shine. When: Saturday, April 29; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: Visitors may begin at any of the following locations: Mullins' Mendocino St; onezone, 44600 Fish Rock Road, Gualala; Mullins' Mendocino Stonezone, 44600 Fish Rock Road, Gualala; Wildwood, 7990 Highway 128, Philo; or Frog Song Farm, 40811 Eureka Hill Road, Point Arena.
Cost: $7 per garden; children 12 and under are freeFor More Information: See www.opendaysprogram.org or call The GardenConservancy toll-free weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, 1-888-842-2442
PATIENT ADVOCATE JACQUE WILLIAMS RETURNS TO MCHC HEALTH CENTERS BOARD
MCHC Health Centers (MCHC) is happy to announce the return of Jacque Williams to its governing board. Williams is the executive director of the Ukiah Community Center and Ford Street Project (which includes the Ukiah Recovery Center)—organizations that serve many of the same people cared for by MCHC Health Centers.
“MCHC’s board already includes many people with healthcare experience, which is as it should be,” she said. “My role is to be an advocate for clinic patients, because I see MCHC through the eyes of those in the shelter and transitional housing, and those in recovery. MCHC is a critical resource for them.”
She continued, “There are a lot of organizations that care for the same population as that served by the Ukiah Recovery Center, but very few are as responsive and proactive as MCHC. The health care offered to our clients is supportive, sensitive and professional, and our partnership has expanded the possibility for wellness.”
MCHC and Ford Street Project have a long history of collaboration, most recently augmented by MCHC’s medical director Dr. Jerry Douglas agreeing to serve as the recovery center’s medical director, too.
“With Dr. Douglas serving as the medical director, we will be eligible to offer drug Medi-Cal supportive services, which will mean people that have never had insurance coverage for addiction services will now have the opportunity to access residential or outpatient treatment,” Williams said.
The Ukiah Recovery Center mostly cares for veterans, whose care is covered by the Veterans Administration, and those on probation or parole. There’s also some funding for pregnant women and new mothers struggling with addiction but otherwise, Williams says, it can be difficult to find coverage.
“I believe people often relapse because they don’t get enough help to really be successful. Drug Medi-Cal will help change that,” Williams said.
She noted that many clients in recovery also have behavioral health issues, and praised MCHC’s behavioral health services. “As we help clients address addiction, MCHC’s behavioral health providers are important partners. They help our clients when they’re struggling with depression or anxiety during the recovery process. In the past, we used to say, ‘Let’s deal with one problem at a time,’ but life’s not linear. People often need help with several things at the same time,” Williams said.
People in recovery also receive medical care from MCHC Health Centers. For the better part of a decade, physician assistant Tom Feiertag has traveled to the Ukiah Recovery Center twice a week, helping patients recognize and manage health problems that come to light as the patients become more aware of their physical needs, after they are no longer under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. MCHC’s Care-a-Van also makes daily trips between its Ukiah site, Hillside Health Center, and the Recovery Center to transport people from the center or from any of Ford Street Project’s other housing and shelter programs.
Williams says she is happy to be back on MCHC’s board, to support the health centers’ work and support her clients’ needs. She said, “MCHC offers a safe place where people can say, ‘I was addicted or I am an addicted’ and they will get the health care they need.”
Located in Ukiah, Willits and Lakeport, MCHC Health Centers provides comprehensive health services including primary medical care, pediatrics, dentistry, women’s health, obstetrical care, counseling, psychiatry, chiropractic and specialty care. The organization is dedicated to continuing to meet the ever-expanding needs of the communities it serves. Learn more at www.mchcinc.org.