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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, July 13, 2017

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anderson Valley Unified School District Special Board Meeting 7:00PM Anderson Valley

Main Substance of Agenda:

  1. Public comment regarding closed session
  2. 7:05 P.M Closed Session - Discussion/Action
  3. Conference on Negotiations (Gov Code 54956.9) Unit: CSEA Negotiator/Representative for District: Margaret M. Merchat, Atty, School & College Legal Services

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Thursday, July 13, 2017 features Margaret Merchat functioning as our district's attorney.

MERCHAT. Ah yes. We remember her well, especially her role in…

(AVA, May 26, 2010) —

SO WE'VE got the small claims case of Mr. Dennis Boaz against Mendocino County's lead educators. They said Boaz, a teacher's union rep, is a racist because he used the word 'niggardly' to describe Ukiah Unified's negotiating stance. Paul Tichinin, superintendent of all Mendocino County's schools, hustled out a public letter defaming Boaz as a racist, right up there with James Earl Ray and Senator Bilbo. Not content with solidifying his own widespread reputation as a boob of the first magnitude, Tichinin had no trouble getting the rest of the county's school administrators to sign on to his flagrantly defamatory communiqué.


“This memo is formal notice to UTA that Mr. Boaz's communication is insulting and unacceptable and undermines his credibility as a spokesperson for UTA. Racism or suggested racism has absolutely no place in this district, in relationships between the district and the union, and in negotiations… As you may know, several teachers have personally apologized and we have to question whether Mr. Boaz can continue as a spokesperson for teachers and for the negotiating team. His credibility and integrity are certainly at issue.”

LOTS OF PEOPLE, me included, simply assumed that Tichinin and the other school honchos simply didn't know what the word meant. Which is what I still suspect. But the plot thickened last Friday when Boaz finally got the first of the boobs, Bryan Barrett, into court. Barrett works as an administrator for Ukiah Unified. He testified that he knew what the word meant but thought it was offensive anyway or, in feeb-think, inappropriate, so inappropriate that he had no prob publicly denouncing Boaz as a racist for using it. Niggardly was inappropriate, Barrett testified Friday, because his boss, Lois Nash, is black. “To me, it's not what the word means. It's how people take it,” Barrett said. Think about that stance as you send your kid off to the classrooms supervised by this guy.

BUT THE TRULY STARTLING testimony from Barrett revealed that his and Tichinin's public letter denouncing Boaz as a racist had been pre-approved by a school attorney named Margaret Merchat. And by Lois Nash, alleged victim. And signed by Tichinin and the school superintendents of Anderson Valley, Round Valley, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Laytonville, Manchester and Point Arena (of course!), Willits, and Potter Valley. Which is every school superintendent save one in the County. Tichinin probably forgot to call Leggett or he would have had himself a dumbkopf's grand slam.

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The third of three co-defendants was finally sentenced to state prison this morning by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke. Mario Alberto Godinez Gonzalez, age 28, of Sonoma County, was sentenced to 30 years to life in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The defendant was the leader of a group of men back in 2015 who, under the cover of night, snuck into what law enforcement authorities sometimes refer to as a "guerilla grow," meaning an illegal marijuana garden occurring on the lands of others, in the Yorkville area of Mendocino County.

Edgar 'Bad Boy/Del Diablo' Contreras; Isidro 'Blackie/El Negro' Lopez-Bernal; Mario 'Shorty/Chipparo' Godinez-Gonzalez

The men, all armed with firearms provided by Godinez Gonzalez, were cutting and bundling the marijuana when they heard a man's voice tell them to stop. A gunfight ensued and it was later discovered by law enforcement that Maclovio Bautista, age 45, of Cloverdale, perhaps a laborer for the garden, had been shot multiple times and had died from his injuries.

The other two defendants, Isidro Lopez Bernal and Edgar Fidel Contreras, were also sentenced to life terms in state prison back on March 28, 2017.

The attorney who prosecuted all three men for murder is District Attorney David Eyster. Special thanks goes out to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The patrol deputies and investigators did a tremendous job at the time in quickly solving this senseless, greed-driven murder and, in relatively short order, had the Sonoma County three booked into the Low Gap jail.


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HITTING THE JACKPOT (not in a good way)

[click to enlarge]
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Anderson Township—

This township is located in the Coast Range, almost all in and embracing the whole of the watershed of the Navarro River, and a small portion of the headwaters of Dry Creek. It is 30 miles in length, and a breadth varying from eight to twenty miles. The arable land at present under cultivation nowhere exceeds more than a mile and for the most part, only a half mile in width. Much more could be cultivated, but so far has been deemed more valuable for pasture than for the plow. The southern part of the township is detached from the northern part by the main branch of the Navarro River. Rancheria Creek, has no bottomland to speak of for some miles of its course opposite Bconville, but further south on its extreme headwaters, it again affords some tillable land.

The valley soil is a rich wash loam immediately along the creek bottoms. The bench lands are either black clover land or gravelly loam, while the pasture lands proper, on the hills, partake of the nature of both the last mentioned soils, while the chemissal and brush lands are generally rocky and sterile. Exceptions in these latter may be found where the soil is a rich red volcanic debris, that makes the best of orchard and vineyard land. The climate of Anderson is a compromise between the hot torrid inner valleys and the cold, foggy coast section. It usually has a nice sea breeze in the afternoon, and often foggy mornings, which revive the vegetation in the dry summer months and restrain the frosts in the winter. The various grains luxuriate here, except corn, which is not especially successful, probably from the coolness induced by the fog. Hops succeed well and give a good yield on the best bottom land. Fruit grows remarkably well on much of the bench land and lower hills.

Early Settlement

So far as the dim past can be explored, Walter Anderson seems to be the first white man who really settled in Anderson intending to make it his home, and that as early as 1851. He came from Sonoma County, as most of the interior early settlers seem to have done, and located what was afterwards known as the Rawles place, on the west side of the valley, about one mile northwest of Boonville. He sold the place to Joseph Rawles in 1858 and moved away. J.D. Bell and family arrived in 1852, and settled on the opposite side of the valley, on plateau land, and was the first to put out an extensive orchard, which is still bearing profusely.

In 1855-6-7 closely following each other came William Prather, John Gschwend, J.S. Smalley, Oscar Carey, Joseph Gschwend, James Burgess, Henry Wade, Frank Buster, A. Guntley, John Gossman, John Conrad, A. Braden, J. Shields, W.W. Boone, A. Elliott and H. Stevens. In the following few years R.H. Rawles, J. A. Jamison, J. O. McSpadden, J. McGimsey, Alex McDonald, J.W. McAbee, C. Prather and R.H. York.

The first attempt at town building was about a mile from the present town of Boonville, John Burgot building a hotel, Sam Stevens a blacksmith shop and Levi V. Harrison a store. Quite a large stock of goods was also placed in a two-story building (where Robert Rawles has lived for some years) by Wintzer & Welle, but all of these died out in a short time. In 1864 Alonzo Kendall built a hotel at what is now Boonville and called the place Kendall's City. Levi & Straus moved their store here, soon selling out to W.W. Boone, who succeeded in giving his name to the town…

(From Chapter II of “History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, by Aurelius O. Carpenter and Percy H. Millberry, 1914)

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DOUBT they’d ever admit it, but Jim Shields’ series on the county's de facto non-enforcement of the pot ordinance spurred the Supes into action. In the morning session this week, Sheriff Allman reassured folks he's not out of the eradication game (see below), and in the afternoon the Supes (primarily McCowen and Brown) went after the mega-growers, Brown calling them "bandits" and McCowen deploying Shields’ exact phrasing in "proliferation of greenhouses" to point out how pot-related matters are out of control. Our leadership then decided to re-open discussion of the ordinance at next week's meeting to tighten up some of the ambiguous provisions, adding others, and also consider creating a local pot czar to run the licensing program, since Ag and P&B are proving not up to the task. Of course, if the Supes create the position, Emperor or Empress Pot won’t have an easy time of it.

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County cannabis ordinance could wipe out small farmers

BOS to discuss changes Tuesday

by Jane Futcher

The Mendocino Board of Supervisors will consider changes to the county’s new Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance at the Tuesday, July 18 Board of Supervisors meeting at 1:30 p.m. in the supervisors’ Ukiah chambers.

The board decision came after public comment July 11 on a report from the Department of Agriculture on the cannabis cultivation application process and code enforcement program.

The most eloquent critique of the county’s cannabis cultivation ordinance came to the board in writing from Laytonville farmer Casey O’Neill.

“In speaking with many of the smallest farmers in the county, the current program runs a serious risk of wiping out the traditional, 25-plant farmer,” wrote O’Neill, vice president of the California Growers Association. “The numbers do not pencil to cover all of the various costs, especially when attempting to factor the continuing price drop and potential Building and Planning upgrades. The cottage industry within the county desperately needs a restructuring of the program that would allow the Mom and Pop operations leniency in some of the requirements, and reductions in the fees and inspection requirements.”

Among the changes requested by O’Neill and the nine farmers who spoke at the meeting were:

—Elimination of the costly requirement that farms provide fully plumbed, wheel-chair accessible bathrooms and paved parking lots;

—Removal of the requirement that existing drying sheds must have commercial building permits; owner-operators would sign an affidavit stating they will not allow employees in the sheds;

—Changes in how greenhouses and hoop houses are classified so they don’t have to be “commercial” grade;

—Extension of the permit window beyond Dec. 31 of this year.

“The community is trying to come to grips with the vast changes that are occurring,” O’Neill wrote. “A hard deadline of Dec. 31 means that many parcels must be permitted this year or never (Rangeland, TPZ, FL). This is creating havoc and threatens the bedrock of property values within the county. Many elders are struggling with trying to figure out the permitting requirements and are still trying to overcome the fear and stigma that has been created by Prohibition. These folks need more time.”

Residents of the Woodyglen Lane neighborhood south of Robinson Creek and west of Ukiah criticized the county’s cannabis ordinance for different reasons. They said they are frustrated by the fact that a new owner in their community is growing 10,000 square feet of cannabis before he has a permit.

There’s a reason why so many growers had to plant before they had their permits. Time ran out. Planting season had started bhe time the board approved its cultivation ordinance and the Ag Department was ready to start processing applications in early May. With the county’s blessings, farmers applying for permits were allowed to plant before receiving county approval.

Frustrated Woodyglen resident Marcia Morgan Lazaro argued that no farmer should be allowed to grow anything before getting a permit.

Lazaro said she hoped the county would deny her neighbor’s permit because “the amount of non-resident traffic entering our private neighborhood would increase exponentially, seriously changing its character.”

The cannabis cultivator Woodyglen neighbors excoriated also spoke, telling the board he was upset by the slow pace of the permitting process. Having applied for a permit the day after the program opened in May, he had still not been approved — this despite being told, he said, by an Ag Department inspector that he is a “model grower” and the “poster child” for a good applicant.

The Ag Department reported that it is processing 580 applications, has rejected about 15, mostly because of Fish and Wildlife issues, and has granted one permit. Most of the farmers who spoke praised the helpfulness and encouraging approach of the Ag Department staff.

Following public comment, the supervisors agreed unanimously to revisit the cultivation ordinance on Tuesday.

Among the changes Chair John McCowen and the board said they would consider are:

—approving non-commercial drying sheds;

—allowing wheelchair-accessible portable toilets instead of fully plumbed toilets;

—permitting neighborhoods such as Woodyglen to “opt out” of cannabis cultivation just as the smallest, Rural Residential-zoned neighborhoods where cultivation is now prohibited, may eventually “opt in” — via the “overlay” process.

—creating an independent, stand-alone cannabis manager position to coordinate the application process, which he said appears to be “overhwelming” the Ag Department.

(Jane Futcher is host of The Cannabis Hour, every other Thursday on KZYX.)

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SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN (at the Board of Supervisors meeting, July 11, 2017): A lot of people have wondered where Mendocino County is going with the marijuana transition that the we are experiencing statewide after Proposition 64 and so forth. The Sheriff's office continues to have four very strong enforcement objectives. Trespass grows, environmental degradation, illegal water theft, and public land grows. With the transfer of marijuana responsibility to Planning and Building and the Ag department I have actually had some citizens say that the Sheriff Office certainly has more time on their hands. But last week there were six gardens in this county with 32,000 plants growing there. There were three arrests. There was some severe illegal water diversion and some environmental damage. These were trespass grows. We didn't get onto public lands but these met the other criteria. As the county continues down this marijuana transition I would encourage the Board of Supervisors to ask questions. Ask questions as to why certain things are happening. The free rein of marijuana has to be reeled in. Especially the environmental problems that are happening countywide.

Changing subjects, I also want to give a shout out to former Sheriff Jim Tuso who is now working with the Sheriff's office by taking inmates to Lake Mendocino to clean up the absolute mess we have there. The littering, the vandalism, the damaged bathrooms, the weed-eating. Jim Tuso has stepped back into the public arena to work with inmates and improve the quality of life for our county and I want to give a big shout out to him.

SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN: I believe he is doing that at your initiative.

ALLMAN: I did buy him a cup of coffee and ask him to do it. But he gets all the credit. He's doing what he likes to do.

MCCOWEN: Thank you also for the for your commitment to eradicating the completely out of control, never possibly in any realm of imagination eligible for becoming legal. There are all these trespass grows. And the rest of it. That's what we have to eliminate.

ALLMAN: The First District is certainly receiving the majority of our services at this point. There's no secret to this. Some of the grows that we are seeing on federal land and tribal land are out of control. There's no secret and I'm not keeping this close to my vest, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be working with the Sheriff's office this summer on some out-of-control grows on some of the eleven Indian reservations and rancherias we have in the county. The fact that other people are approaching the Native Americans for purposes of leasing land and thinking they can get away with it under the guise of it being grown on federal land is not going to work in this county. In another counties it might work, but it's not going to work here. I am quite happy that BIA said they are going to step up and get involved, especially with environmental problems and water diversions. Those are things that we have to focus on and we are focusing on. So for the smaller grows let’s allow Planning and Building and Ag department to handle those. Let's continue with the complaint generated process that we have. But the out-of-control people, the people who have no ownership in Mendocino County, and I'm not talking about property ownership, I'm talking about people who are not stakeholders here. They don't care what they do to our land or water. They don't care if they are next to a school or so forth. Those are the people that we in government continue to focus on. Because if marijuana growers want to continue to talk about and compare to the end of Prohibition when whiskey was made, and I've heard a few of those analogies, I am saying you cannot make whiskey right next to a school, you can't trespass on someone else's land to make whiskey. So this is going to be a very productive year for the sheriff's office. People are not aware of the Sheriff's office’s continued enforcement. Well, we will continue that enforcement because our deputy sheriffs love Mendocino County and we do not want it to continue to be downgraded to where ten years from now people will say why wasn't something done?

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NOW YOU SEE IT, now you don’t. An item on the Supes consent calendar boosted the pay of the outside legal team the Supes hired to conduct negotiations with their own employees. Rather than the previously agreed upon $165,000 the outside attorneys will take in $225,000. As we know, Mendocino County also employs a whole office of lawyers called the County Counsel. One or another of them ought to be able to handle simple pay negotiations with County employees, who are not exactly a gang of armed Bolsheviks.

BOARD CHAIR McCOWEN then asked if any of his fellow Board members would like any consent items pulled for discussion. None did, although I daresay if their money were in play there would have been screams of dissent.

McCOWEN then asked if anyone from the public would like any items pulled?

THE REDOUBTABLE LEE HOWARD walked to the podium and asked that the pay raise Item 4ab be removed from the consent calendar as it, by definition, was not appropriate for the consent calendar.

McCOWEN honored Howard’s request, and stated the raise Item would be discussed later in the meeting.

AFTER a break in the proceedings, McCowen had a note at his desk informing him that “staff” was pulling Item 4ab from the meeting! It had done disappeared!

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ODD OCCURRENCE in the Village of Mendocino. Not clear who the uniformed person was or who he represented, but a man allegedly appeared in the justly renowned Mendocino Cafe and ordered the owners to paint over the mural gracing an outside wall. Assuming it originated somewhere in local officialdom, the order to destroy the mural came without any kind of notice or instruction on how to appeal. The Village is rightly angered, and this one isn’t over by a long shot.

BETH BOSK, a villager of long standing, neatly expressed the history of attempts in Mendocino at censorship:

“We’ve been through this controversy re. free speech and the Mendocino Historical Review Board ‘rules’ before. When the County passed an ordinance prohibiting street vendors in the District (fishermen and firewood for sale from pick-ups excluded at specific sites, but buskers (street musicians) prohibited as well, because one merchant was trying to attract the ‘cashmere sweater’ crowd). John Bear set up a table in front of her Clock Shop at the corner of Main and Kasten, and put his old Hustler magazines out for sale—to make the point Freedom of the Press includes the opportunity to distribute and cannot be abridged by the County for a preferential class of consumer. A few years later, the issue was political signs for candidates running for office tacked on the fences of private residences during election seasons. MHRB rules re. signage did not apply. The signs were given a grace period because they were ‘symbolic speech’ pertaining to an important civic duty. The MHRB District's rules re. what colors you can paint your building are based on the hues that existed during Mendocino City's early days. I'm sure in the Kelly House files exists photos that include the side of a barn or two decorated with wall size murals advertising wares. But that's not the point: the Mendocino Cafe is not advertising it's wares. Meredith has established a new and very beloved contemporary custom: every year a blazon expression of symbolic speech pertinent to governance is painted on the side of her building, the week of the 4th of July. The MHRB rules have been tweaked for solar panels, for the cement sidewalks that over the last four decades, storefront-by-storefront have replaced the groovy but rotting wooden planks; the historic old spiderwebs of cable lacing together the rooftops of the town was torn down en mass and replaced with underground wiring. The berry bushes, an element of the feral landscape of the headlands (protected in the original contract with the State) callously mowed down State Parks. Meredith's annual murals are symbolic speech. And she gets to decide what message is appropriate for the time, and needed for how long.”

Laurie York agreed: "I think there are many who support your mural statement, Merry - many who haven’t had a chance to thank you yet. The photo of the mural on my Facebook page got a lot of positive feedback. Even my out of town friends thought it was a beautiful gesture in these troubled times. Michelle Obama’s quote, 'When they go low - we go high' is exactly what the majority of us appreciate about the Mendocino Coast. We take care of this place and this community. We take the high road here. We set an example to protect this land, air, water and our minority groups. We work to create a peaceful, loving community and we educate our friends, neighbors and children so that we can all be a positive influence on this beautiful piece of the planet. I think you are an AMAZING woman, Meredith Smith. You walk your talk and that’s what I love about the Mendo Cafe and Flow. Your high standards - just in the organic food you serve - are a gift to our community and to those who visit this place. Thank you for all you do and please know you have many, many supporters here. I’m certainly one of them.”

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IT SEEMS that a deranged man flipped out on his own vehicle this afternoon near Navarro, set it on fire and shoved it off the road.


Anderson Valley Fire Department & CalFire ground, air & inmate units are responding to a reported "vehicle fire on Highway 128 near Masonite Road."

(Click to enlarge)

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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Starr Automotive cleaning up the mess.

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A reader writes: I think this report includes some very good, practical steps FB should consider. I hope this will be read and discussed by City gov and FBPD.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I told you this was an intra-species neighborhood. We all get along — dogs, cats, pigs, foxes, crows, deer. Even pitbulls. Why just today Joe the Pit from next door came over to say hello with his pal, Porky.”

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by Ariel Carmona Jr.

The road to June Ruckman and Jerry Albright’s property off Hearst Willits Road is a twisting and sometimes rocky road past the north end of town and past Foster Mountain Road, but the destination is well worth it for visitors and residents who want to experience the idyllic life downstream of the Eel River. That quality of life may be threatened however, in the event of a catastrophic emergency or dam failure similar to the Oroville Dam crisis in February.

Albright and Ruckman have been at their current property for the past eight years and the couple said they share the same dam safety concerns along with their neighbors. An informational meeting hosted by “The Friends of the Eel River” environmental non-profit last month, spotlighted some of the concerns and issues regarding the system of Eel River dams and reservoirs known as the Potter Valley Project. They include Scott Dam (Lake Pillsbury), Cape Horn Dam (Van Arsdale) and the diversion tunnel into the PG&E power generation facilities in Potter Valley.

Ruckman and Albright are both members of the organization and said they are in favor of a more equitable release of retained water as part of a relicensing approval of the two dams along the primary downstream segments of the Eel River.

“We’ve seen the damage done due to low water releases,” Albright said.

Approximately 25 people attended the presentation held at the Willits Center for the Arts including Board of Supervisors Carre Brown, John McCowen and newly appointed Third District Supervisor Georgeanne Croskey. Also in attendance in addition to members of the Arcata-based environmental non-profit was Janet Pauli, Potter Valley Irrigation District secretary and treasurer. Members of the public in attendance were encouraged to submit comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency tasked with licensing and inspecting private, municipal and state hydroelectric projects and overseeing environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity.

American Whitewater’s California Stewardship Director Theresa Simsiman told stakeholders at the June meeting that the relicensing process is lengthy and complex, sometimes taking more than 10 years. She said the current license for the Potter Valley Project is set to expire in 2022. She urged residents to align themselves with a state or federal agency because they are influential in telling PG&E how to proceed in these types of projects and act as a go-between for people’s concerns to be heard and taken into consideration.

The Friends of the Eel River are calling for decommissioning and removing the dams. According to informational material distributed at the meeting by the environmentally conscious non-profit, although “dam removal alone won’t secure the future of salmon and steelhead in the Eel,” the document called it “the single most important step we can take in that direction today.”

The document points out removing Scott Dam would allow access to more than 250 stream miles of prime spawn habitat. It goes on to note “While Cape Horn dam does have a fish ladder, it’s increasingly clear that the interdam reach functions as an ecological trap for young salmon and steelhead.”

Friends of the Eel River noted in their written analysis that although the dams and tunnel are licensed as a hydroelectric project, its maximum output of 9.4 megawatts is extremely small, and almost never achieved.

According to their document, five acres of solar will more than replace the small amount of hydro energy generated.

Executive Director Scott Greacen spoke about the shortcomings of the Potter Valley Project and said the decommissioning and removal of the two dams would go a long way towards revitalizing the health of the river.

According to the non-profit’s written information made public at the stakeholder meeting, currently up to 80 to 90 percent of the water arriving at Cape Horn dam can be and often is diverted into the Potter Valley Project. Most of the water then ends up in the hands of Potter Valley Irrigation District, Russian River vineyards, Sonoma County Water Agency and Marin county.

The documentation goes on to state that inequitable low releases downstream of Cape Horn Dam serve to create unhealthy conditions for the native aquatic life. They are also considered deadly to the native trout, steelhead and salmonid populations. Diverted water flows into Potter Valley out of the Eel River drainage as of June 2017 equaled 130 cubic feet per second.

According to the Potter Valley Irrigation District’s official website, the value of the Potter Valley Project for power production “is not insignificant.” Irrigation officials state via the site, nine megawatts is enough to power the nearby city of Ukiah with locally, sustainably produced electricity.

Elaborating further on the project, irrigation officials via the website state the quality of life for more than 500,000 people who live in the communities and cities downriver from Potter Valley has evolved and improved with the existence of the water from the Project for more than 100 years.

Emergency Response

Greacen said as a result of the Potter Valley Project’s designation as CEII (critical energy infrastructure information) members of the public are kept in the dark about the project specifically when it comes to emergency planning and response, a concern echoed by residents like Ruckman and Albright who worry their property has been in the path of potential destruction along with the Emandal family camp for years. As a result of information forbidden to the public in the wake of the project’s designation, residents are kept form learning the specifics of emergency plans designed by PG&E.

Residents also have concerns about the region’s natural geography.

“Scott Dam is built on an active fault,” Albright said. “And it is adjacent to other faults.”

Ruckman added there is no emergency notification process and residents find that to be disconcerting. In the event of dam failure, Albright and Ruckman worry the portion of Emerald that would be hit by the lead wave has the potential to wipe out their property and others along the path in about an hour.

“There is no cell coverage out here,” Ruckman said. She added if utilities go out, there is no way to notify downstream residents. “Reverse 911 only works if you have telephone service,” she said.

Resident Chuck Ream, a former agriculture instructor at Willits High School and former postmaster in Potter Valley said he has lived in the area for 46 years and is mainly concerned with the health of the river.

He said he has seen a huge decrease in the salmon run since the days he used to take students on field trips.

“It’s distressing that the fish habitat has been destroyed,” he said. “I would like to see the flow of the river maintained. I know there’s a lot of water wasted in Potter Valley, there’s an enormous amount of flood irrigation. Last year we were scraping for water, it’s sad to see water being wasted.”

FERC held two public meetings on the project’s scoping document in Ukiah on June 28. Concerned residents can still submit comments and concerns to the agency by the August 4 deadline at or by writing to Secretary Kimberly Bose at 888 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20426.

(Courtesy, the Willits News)

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On July 11, 2017 around 3:43 PM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a call from the 23700 Block of Hopper Lane in Covelo related to an assault with a deadly weapon. Deputies responded to that location and contacted the reporting party, an adult female who said she was a care taker of the property. The caretaker related that the property was owned by Monelle Riley, who was out of state caring for a sick relative.

Weston Riley

The reporting party said around 2:00 AM that morning Weston Riley, Monelle's 22 year old son, arrived at the property demanding the caretaker turn over a vehicle he felt belonged to him. The caretaker refused to give him the keys to the vehicle and after a brief argument Weston left the property. Between 3:00 and 3:30 PM Weston returned to the property and again demanded the caretaker turn over the keys to the vehicle. She again refused and Weston began cursing at her while banging a fist on the door to the residence. The caretaker became concerned for her safety and telephoned two adult male friends, ages 65 and 53 years of age. These two men came to the caretaker's assistance and attempted to convince Weston he needed to leave the property. The two men later told Deputies that Weston became angry with them and produced a small handgun and fired two shots at them. He then ran into a nearby shed on the property and came out carrying a long rifle. The two men informed deputies that as they were running to their vehicle to leave, Weston fired two rounds from the rifle at them before the gun malfunctioned. They were able to leave the property, as was the caretaker, with no one being injured. They told Deputies they thought Weston was still at the property.

The Mendocino County SWAT Team responded to the location as Weston was believed to still be on the property, perhaps barricaded in one of the structures there. Numerous attempts to contact Weston at the property met with negative results. After a search warrant was obtained the residence and outbuildings were searched but Weston was not located. It is believed he must have left the property just before the first responding Deputies arrived. Weston is currently wanted for felony assault with a deadly weapon (firearm). He is described as a white male adult, 5'05" tall, weighing approximately 110 pounds. He was last seen with no shirt, a red hat, and wearing "cut off" blue jean shorts. His whereabouts are currently unknown. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone who might know where Weston is to contact the Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center at (707)463-4086 or the Sheriff's Tip Line at (707)234-2100.

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Warrant Wednesday!


Gilberto Chan Is Wanted For

Assault With A Deadly Weapon

Street Terrorism

Participation In Criminal Street Gang

Bail: $55,000

Age: 18 years old

Height: 5' 6"

Weight: 160 lbs

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown

If you recognize this individual or have information which could lead to his arrest, please contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at (707) 463-4086.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 12, 2017

Bermudez, Hoyt, Johnson

LAURA BERMUDEZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.

RICHARD HOYT, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear.

EDWARD JOHNSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, vandalism. (Frequent Flyer)

Jones, McLain, Mora

SHERRIE JONES, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

CINDY MCLAIN, Fort Bragg. Battery.

EFREN MORA JR., Hopland. Stockton/Ukiah. Domestic abuse, failure to appear.

Rogers, Romero, Schimka

SHAWN ROGERS, Willits. Controlled substance possession, transport, prior, probation revocation.

RONALD ROMERO, Willits. Probation revocation.


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Being a rather simple man myself, I like to sum it all up in the idea that today, in our ruling system, just as in every cesspool, the scum rises to the top. In times gone by, the qualities required to rise to leadership were more often than not accompanied by enough decency and saving graces to afford this nation a relatively decent body of leadership. In its current form, our system that installs leaders with absolutely NO minimum job requirements, strictly on the results of a popularity contest with votes tallied from a distracted, uncaring, self-centered population can only lead to bad things. Far too many of the people in this country are no longer capable of being involved in governing themselves, either inside the arena or outside of it, simply voting. A nation that is addicted to happy, happy, happy can never choose any course of action that will lead to discomfort and discomfort will certainly result sooner or later. It is the Discomfort Bubble and its arrival is already way, way overdue.

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(Photo by Ben Anderson)

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by Nancy Burton

A mischievous campaign afoot in rural Africa presents a cautionary tale which bears being spoken of this July 12, 2017, the 200thanniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau.

African women in remote villages are being told to put down their hand-held hoes.

Working the soil by hand, nurturing nature to feed their families, as did their ancestors from time immemorial, is “a technology long obsolete.”

So they are being told by a Bill Gates-led NGO, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (“AGRA”)(

The call is being taken up by elite Africans, who want to banish the hand-held hoes to the museum.

Women’s lives preparing the soil, planting tribal heirloom seeds, nurturing seedlings to harvest is nothing but a meaningless “solitary struggle” that rapid mechanization and industrialization can cure.

“Low rates of mechanization . . . reduce the welfare and quality of life for farmers,” says AGRA. Leasing a gas-guzzling Western-made tractor “can free up more time [for women to be] with their family, or doing additional off-farm work.”

But has AGRA bothered to ask the rural women of Africa if they wish to give up their hand-held hoes?

I do not pretend to speak for the rural women of Africa but I have witnessed a good many of them in their fields working their hoes. I have seen great geometric terraces created by a dozen women working their hand-held hoes together in communal activity.

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions, published to acclaim in 1988, imparts a timeless wisdom.

“My grandmother . . . had been an inexorable cultivator of land, sower of seeds and reaper of rich harvests until, literally until, her very last moment,” says Dangarembga’s protagonist.

“When I was too small to be anything more than a hindrance in the family fields, I used to spend many productive hours working with my grandmother on the plot of land she called her garden.

“We hoed side by side strips of land defined by the row of maize plants each carried, I obstinately insisting I could keep pace with her, she weeding three strips to my one so that I could.

“Praising my predisposition towards working, she consolidated it in me as a desirable habit.”

Working together with their hand-held hoes provided opportunities for forging family bonds and cultivating the impressionable mind of a young girl.

“She gave me history lessons as well,” the narrator recalls. History that could not be found in the textbooks, a stint in the field and a rest, the beginning of the story, a pause.

“’What happened after, Mbuya, what happened?’ ‘More work, my child, before you hear more story.’

“Slowly, methodically, throughout the day the field would be cultivated, the episodes of my grandmother’s own portion of history strung together from beginning to end.”

Has Bill Gates spent a planting season kneeling in the soil next to his grandmother, absorbing her stories of the past as they hand-hoed in synchronicity?

Has he had the pleasure of harvesting food for his family through his toil with a hand-held hoe?

Thoreau famously cultivated a bean field with a hand-held hoe by Walden Pond, his Concord, Massachusetts retreat. While doing so, he pondered nature and how to live a meaningful life.

Thoreau proposed to determine what was basic to human survival and then to live as simply as possible.

In mechanization and industrialism, Thoreau foresaw the potential for destruction of nature for commercial and illusory gain.

“Our inventions . . .are but improved means to an unimproved end, . . .We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas, but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

If the ends were to achieve ownership of material possessions beyond the basic necessities of life, to Thoreau that presented an obstacle rather than an advantage.

“My greatest skill has been to want but little.” Thoreau eventually wrote in Walden. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

By resisting materialism, reveling in nature’s wildness, savoring the novelty of each day, Thoreau believed that people might avoid “lives of quiet desperation.”

Hand-hoeing beans, Thoreau mastered the art of self-cultivation.

(Nancy Burton is a former reporter for The Associated Press in New York City. She frequently writes on environmental topics. Courtesy,

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EVER CLOSER…Broadband Alliance meeting on Friday

This Friday is our next Broadband Alliance meeting, and we can talk broadband and provide all sorts of updates (including that the Board of Supervisors approved the County Broadband Goals and Strategies document on Monday). Hope to see everyone there. Agenda is attached. Also info is posted online at

Trish Steel

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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Art in the Gardens Featured Art Unveiling

This Saturday, July 15, 3 - 4:30pm

Enjoy $5 admission to the Gardens!

Featured artwork unveiling at 4pm in the Perennial Garden

Witness the unveiling of a masterpiece at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. The 2017 featured artwork for the 25th anniversary of Art in the Gardens will be revealed this Saturday! Stroll the Gardens at a special reduced admission, just $5 per person from 3PM to 4:30PM. Gather in the Perennial Garden at 4PM for the unveiling of the featured artwork. This year's featured artist is internationally acclaimed sculptor John Fisher. After 20 years in Italy, he has established his studio in Northern California with his wife and past AIG featured artist Sandy Oppenheimer. For Fisher, creating is a profoundly philosophical and spiritual act of faith. “My marble sculptures are carved spontaneously and intuitively, relying upon observation and the discipline of drawing,” remarks the artist. Mingle with local creatives and fellow Gardens-enthusiasts. Gain insight into 2017 AIG Featured Artist John Fisher's process and inspirations amidst the summer glory of our garden by the sea.


Get your tickets to the main event – Art In The Gardens - Sat, August 5 - in advance and save! General admission tickets $20 in advance or $30 at the door ($5 children ages 6 to 16; Free for children under 5)

$25 additional for wine or beer tastingAdvance tickets available on the Gardens’ website -, at The Garden Store, Harvest Market, and Out of This World.



  1. LouisBedrock July 13, 2017

    The last stage of Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development is labeled “Maturity”.

    “The most important event at this stage is coming to accept one’s whole life and reflecting on that life in a positive manner. According to Erikson, achieving a sense of integrity means fully accepting oneself and coming to terms with the death. Accepting responsibility for your life and being able to undo the past and achieve satisfaction with self is essential. The inability to do this results in a feeling of despair.”

    At 72, I feel neither complete satisfaction with my life nor despair; however, I’m closer to the former.

    In June, I attended the 54th reunion of my high school class. There were more names were on the final page—the list of people who have died, than on the list of attendees.

    Among old friends who have survived, I found that my ambiguous position in Erikson’s last stage of life was shared by many. Even among the most successful, there were regrets. A professor at USC rued several failed marriages; a successful attorney who had advocated for many progressive causes had recently lost an adopted daughter and wished he had had more children; a psychiatrist questioned the worth of his work and of his profession.

    I’ve been more lucky than wise. I wound up at a job that was not the one I really wanted. Nevertheless, I persisted at it for twenty years, earned some recognition and success, and retired in 2010 with a decent pension and an insurance policy that, along with Medicare, has helped me through a couple of serious illnesses without leaving me bankrupt.

    I have modest savings and own a small house around the corner from a lovely park where I can walk, jog, ride my bike, or watch soccer games and fast pitch softball.

    I’m not clinging to a dead end job and living in a run down trailer in a run down part of town. I’m not an overweight drunk whose only recreation is drinking my self into a stupor then going home and typing and posting snarky remarks like a common troll. I’m not barred from seeing my grandchildren by my own children who know me for what I am.

    I don’t badmouth my employer at every opportunity, blaming him for stifling my boundless talent.

    “He has potential,” is a great thing for people to say about you when you’re 20. At 65, it’s pathetic.

    At the end of Sophocles’ play, OEDIPUS REX, the Chorus reminds us,

    —Therefore, while our eyes wait to see the destined final day, we must call no one happy who is of the mortal race, until he has crossed life’s border, free from pain.

    My life is not over yet. It’s a good idea to keep in mind this admonition. Life seldom ends well.

    But this morning, I’m not drunk, do not have a hangover, and I feel good. It’s a little warm for a bike ride, but I’m going for a walk in the park. For now, I’m alive, I’m healthy, and I’m grateful.

    • Harvey Reading July 13, 2017

      For a number of reasons, none of them of any real validity, I hesitated to say anything about your excellent assessment, but what the hell.

      What you wrote above is the best description of the ageing process that I have ever read. Thank you for posting it. And, hang in there, Louis.

      • Bruce Anderson July 13, 2017

        Ditto. As an old person who has rocketed through a life I feel very fortunate to suffer only steroid knees. Beautiful piece, Mr. B.

    • mr. wendal July 13, 2017

      I enjoy reading the pieces you translate and your writing is lovely, too. Your attitude about aging is inspiring to this senior. I hope to see more from you for years to come.

  2. james marmon July 13, 2017


    If Ukiah and Fort Bragg took these actions it would be devastating to RQMC, a loss of “unduplicated client’s served”. That’s the only number the ASO is concerned about in order justify their 15 million dollar a year gift from the Board of Supervisors.

    I’m not talking about RCS, I’m talking about RQMC, supposedly there is a difference. One is a for-profit, the other a non-profit.

    James Marmon

    It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.
    -Muhammad Ali-

    • james marmon July 13, 2017

      We’re still the only county in the nation doing this ASO thing, makes a man wonder.

  3. BB Grace July 13, 2017

    re: Mural in Mendocino Town: Barf!

    I vote it gets the ugliest mural award of Mendocino Town history.

    • Harvey Reading July 13, 2017

      But what would you say if it was a mural depicting Trump?

      • BB Grace July 13, 2017

        The mere thought = barf Mr. Reading.

  4. Craig Stehr July 13, 2017

    This dharma is such that
    It cannot be attained by groping
    Or searching about.
    In the realm of seeing,
    Knowledge perishes.
    At the moment of attaining,
    Mind is surpassed.

    ~Dogen (1200-1253)

  5. Harvey Reading July 13, 2017


    Maybe it conked out on him once too often???

  6. Alice Chouteau July 13, 2017

    To my knowledge, Mendocino is still unincorporated, run by the County supes, with the historical (hysterical?) review board that keeps the village picture perfect. If you own a structure there and want to paint it, the review board must approve your color choice first.
    When I lived there, decades ago, I tried to start an incorporation effort, but the old timers lin town were adamantly against incorportion based on the fear of increased taxes. Most residents were on very limited incomes.
    Fort Bragg and Eureka have gone mad for outdoor murals now..public art? But one person’s ‘art’ might be an eyesore for others, who are forced to look at it forever…

  7. Harvey Reading July 13, 2017


    Black-headed grosbeak???

  8. Bruce Anderson July 13, 2017


    • Jeff Costello July 13, 2017

      Bird photographer- your son?

  9. Jim Updegraff July 13, 2017

    El Trump the Village Idiot did it again and let go with some of his misogynistic comments when he was meeting with the French President. He said stupid comments about the wife of the French President which he no doubt thought would be complimentary. The man is a pig and why would any self respecting woman support him?

    • BB Grace July 13, 2017

      Macron’s wife is “ great shape”, and “beautiful”. Nice compliments the way I see it. On second thought.. it’s the truth.

  10. chuck dunbar July 13, 2017

    Thanks, Louis, for your nicely done comments today on moving into the latter stage of life. I’m nearly as old as you, and I share many of your musings about life. “I’ve been more lucky than wise” fits for me also, and it’s a humbling thing,and good to keep in mind. I’ve had work as a gardener/nurseryman, a pre-school teacher, and a social worker, and I feel some comfort in having done work, in my small way, that has made this world a better place. I’ve also made my share of mistakes and wrong moves, small and large. I’m glad, Louis, that you have a decent, good life and that you are doing well.

  11. james marmon July 13, 2017


    Eureka has a 16 Bed PHF Unit, it does nothing to solve the homeless problem. You can’t lock up the mild to moderate mentally ill, only the severe.

    The sheriff wants a mental health jail where he can treat criminals who are mild to moderate mentally ill and/or malingerers and/or persons who should be diagnosed as having an antisocial personality disorder (APD) which would include all of the above.

    Not a bad idea at all, but we would need to get a few million dollars from the Schraeders to make it financially sustainable, as we would be treating RQMC’s clients unless the sheriff plans on handing operations of the facility over to RQMC, which may be in the works.(hopefully a RFP will go out, I would prefer someone with experience).

    The whole thing may be moot if my friend Rand Paul is successful in putting a stop to Health Care Medicaid insanity.

    The mild to moderate, malingerers, and those with APD who break the laws may just have to sit it out in regular jail and be accountable for their actions. Millions and Millions of American’s suffer from mild to moderate mental illness symptoms and never break any laws or become homeless. Talk about Stigma.

    Ms. BB Grace’s “stepping up” imitative should get another look.

    James Marmon MSW, BSW, AS (Alcohol and other Drugs Studies)

  12. Alice Chouteau July 13, 2017

    Thanks to Mr B, for well told observations…as a fellow senior citizen, I think anyone with an unambiguous life missed out on what makes a life interesting.

  13. Jim Updegraff July 13, 2017

    I’m 87 yeara old and of course muse about my life and when I made moves that really were not the right moves but I really do not get too work up – That one thing that hurts of all my friends all are gone except myself and one friend is now lives on a galaxy far, far away. I did make some right moves. Friends were trying to get me to join the Marine Corp reserve unit in our town. I said no and the Korean War started and the unit was called to active duty.. They went to Korea and PeeWee, who was 15, was killed. A number of them were in high school plus some underage. The Marine corp, unlike the Army reserve units, didn’t care if they were underage or in high school, they needed bodies. Many were in the Chosin Reservior retreat – some got wounded.

  14. LouisBedrock July 13, 2017

    Thank you Mr. Reading, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Wendal, Mr. Dunbar, Ms. Chouteau, and Mr. Updegraff for your comments.

    I’m touched by them and grateful for them.

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