- Deputy Candidate
- Care-a-Van Willits
- Malcolm's Reports
- Vulture Service
- Little Dog
- Pinoli Appointment
- Inconvenient Sequel
- Naked Ladies
- Democratic Socialism
- Jail Violence
- Pixie Dust
- Yesterday's Catch
- Rent Gouging
- Fire Fee
- Cryptocurrency Bull
- Soylent Greening
- Threat Assessment
- Anthony Blunt
ANDERSON VALLEY'S resident deputy, Craig Walker, has signed up to run for the Anderson Valley School Board, an announcement inspiring loud cheers in the offices of the Boonville weekly.
AN EGO TOO BIG FOR UKIAH
We have to add our voice this week to the screams of the hundreds of local residents who are outraged that City Councilman Steve Scalmanini had the nerve to appeal the Costco project at the last moment, just before it was due to get going — finally! — and reopening the window for others to file new lawsuits against it.
Scalmanini has never been shy about his opposition to the Costco project. He is an elitist who can’t stand anything outside his shallow view of the world, and, like many elitists, will do whatever it takes to force his own standards and values upon those around him. People like Scalmanini are why environmentalism has had to fight a reputation for obstinacy in the face of reasonable compromise, and excessive self-regard against the consensus.
In other words, Scalmanini is a jerk.
His appeal not only opens the door to more lawsuits against Costco, it sends the message out to all potential employers that even Ukiah’s own local representatives will screw with you if you try to do business here.
Scalmanini is willing to plunge the city back into a pointless and expensive waiting game simply so he can demand solar panels on a Costco store somewhere in the Central Valley. Unreal.
Scalmanini should be ashamed of himself. He has never been elected by the voters. He was appointed to his seat and kept it because no one ran against him in the last City Council election. We suspect that will not be the case in the next one.
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We would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful for and impressed we are once again at the generosity of local businesses at the Junior Livestock Auction at the Redwood Empire Fair last weekend.
The almost $800,000 spent by these local concerns not only gives many of our local kids some well-earned college funding, but reminds the community of another good reason to shop locally.
If you’ve never been to the livestock auction, it is something to see. Young 4-H and FFA members have worked for weeks and months to raise and perfect the look of their chosen animal. They spent lots of time after school and on weekends dedicated to this one task and the livestock auction is the moment when it all pays off.
The lively auctioneers give the audience a show, while the kids bring their animals forward, some of the livestock walking proudly like they’ve been trained to, and some misbehaving and giving their handlers a real time of it. Meanwhile the bidding begins and the sometimes astounding prices go up and up and up. Then occasionally a buyer will not only pay a huge per pound price, but will give the animal back to be auctioned off again!
This year, the buyers spent $794,472.78 for a net total of $718,265.46 to the youngsters. It’s a fine show, so mark your calendar for next year and don’t miss it.
We’d also like to take this time to thank the local farm store retailers who help fund the animal projects for local 4-H and FFA members by allowing them to buy their feed and supplies on credit to be paid after the auction. That important service is the difference for a lot of these youngsters in participating or not in a livestock project.
We are just delighted at the results this year and we know there are lots of young ranchers out there whose pockets are jingling and whose college funds have taken a turn for the better.
(K.C. Meadows. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
A READER WRITES: Now that your print edition has shrunk, I hope you will still print Malcolm Macdonald’s reports on Coast Hospital and their Board meetings. Nothing ever appears in our Coastal chain fishwraps, so the AVA is the only way for us to stay abreast of the hospital’s business. It’s clear to me we need a new administration. Debt is accumulating under their watch; they are not forthcoming with financial information… Perhaps CalMortgage could do a better job at keeping the Hospital afloat, if for no other reason than to get their loan paid off.
REMEMBER REACH? REMEMBER CALSTAR? CALSTAR was a not-for-profit helio-medical service. REACH was a for-profit helio-medical service. Their rates were sky-high for non-members. Then Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, vulture capitalists, swooped in about a year ago and, ever since, emergency services people throughout the county are complaining that service to our vast outback is a lot slower than when REACH and CALSTAR got the ill and the injured up, up and outtahere. Rates are higher than ever, of course. (The local angle: Kohlberg once owned the Toll House, a tourist spa in the hills east of Boonville.)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag's starting to annoy me. Look at him, sprawled out in front of the gate like he owns the place I'm the four-footer here, but this deadbeat shows up a month ago and acts like he's the Lion King!”
ROBERT PINOLI JR. has been appointed to the Mendo College Board of Trustrees. He represents the people of the Fifth Supe's District, with some boundary adjustments to accommodate the college district. Robert Pinoli Sr. is athletic director at Anderson Valley High School, and if you're wondering why tiny school districts require athletic directors you wonder not alone.
AT THE RISK of groans and catcalls, I recommend Al Gore's new movie called "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." It's largely a tribute to Al himself focused on his truly impressive work in alerting the world to global warming, an irrefutable fact of contemporary life denied by President Bluster. Gore, since his pathetic cave-in to Bush as Bush rigged the Florida vote in the 2000 election, has devoted himself to trying to convince the world to go solar and wind. He brokered an amazing deal between American solar wizards and the Indian government that has brought at least a solar sliver, a solar foot in the door, to a reluctant India, reluctant, as we know because India argues that the West got to pollute everyone's skies on the way to industrial prosperity, and now the West is telling India to slow down development of its coal plants. India was a very hard sell, but Gore brought it off, and good on him. I was oddly touched by this film and Gore's efforts on behalf of sane energy policies, not to mention life on the planet.
IN THE WAKE of the Charlottesville riots, and you have to wonder why the cops let the two groups get anywhere near each other, just how influential is the neo-fascist movement in this country? Beats me, Mendo fascisti are so few and far between, we don't hear from them because, I suppose, they are radically out-numbered on the NorCal Coast. The mainstream media gives them almost zero television face time, but "white nationalism" as cover-all for lots of, ah, unpleasant political sentiment is obviously on the rise because, and we'll cut here to the Sage of Boonville, for his hardhitting analysis of root cause. "Thank you, Wolf. It's nice to be here with you today in the Situation Room."
FASCISM is on the rise because ordinary people are economically squeezed — economically doomed, if things continue as they are. And the country is generally falling apart in many other ways, which are not necessary to list because they're so obvious. What isn't obvious is what we'll call the blanket solution — confiscatory levels of taxation on incomes over, say, half a mil a year, which would affect almost no one in Mendocino County except a few people with vacation properties here. Taxation under Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower was 90 percent on incomes over a hundred thou, but that was then. The money raised would be used for a federal employment program; medicare for everyone; free education through college like the GI Bill only for everyone; a crash housing program run by the federal government to keep rents within the incomes of working people; federal, low interest loan mortgages like we had post World War Two; a national re-build of state hospital programs (thus solving the homeless problem because most of them belong in lock-up wards while they recover themselves); and so on. Bernie hinted at all this stuff, hence the enthusiasm for him, but soon backed off to rejoin the Democrats, few of whom agree with him except for Elizabeth Warren and the Black Political Caucus. Democratic socialism is the only way out, Wolf, which is why nobody heard of it before Bernie, and everyone who does hear about it says, "Yep, that's it. The way out."
* * *
WHY THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA IS EXPERIENCING A BOOM
HUMCO SHERIFF: JAIL ASSAULT REFLECTS ‘NEW REALITY’
by Daniel Mintz
The attack of a corrections deputy by inmates has led Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal to call attention to the impacts of the state’s public safety realignment and increasing crime and gang activity.
Honsal held a press conference in a Sheriff’s Office conference room on August 11 following what was described as the assault of Corrections Deputy Dillon Huffman two days prior. The attack took place at about 7:20 p.m. when Huffman was doing routine cell checks in the county jail’s maximum security unit.
Huffman, who has been working as a correctional deputy for almost a year, was checking cells when he was “lured over to a cell” that housed inmates Lorence Bailey and Jonah Little, said Honsal.
“Bailey and Little asked Huffman to come inside, to check out some things that they had, some art,” he continued. “There was no kind of confrontation and there were no prior acts of violence between Huffman and these inmates – there was no reason for alarm.”
Huffman opened the cell door and was “pulled into the cell” when the assault was launched. Huffman managed to radio for aid as the assault continued outside the cell and “fought for his life” in the 34 seconds it took for other deputies to respond, Honsal said.
He believes the inmates were “prepared to fight” and “knew exactly what they were going to do – it was calculated, they drew him in and punched him numerous times.”
When correctional deputies responded, “The inmates immediately fell to the ground and surrendered.” They were restrained and transported to the jail’s secured housing area.
Huffman was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released for facial injuries.
The inmates will be charged with several felonies, including assault on a peace officer and violation of probation with a gang enhancement, said Honsal.
Video of the incident was taken on a jail security camera and was shown to reporters during the press conference.
Honsal described the assault as being indicative of the “new reality of our correctional facility” since the state’s 2011 passage of the AB 109 public safety realignment law. The law redirects non-violent, non-sexual felony offenders from the state prison system to county jails and provides funding for rehabilitation services.
Honsal said the law’s immediate impact is a change in the county jail’s atmosphere. “It has become more and more violent since AB 109,” he said, adding that “the stats speak for themselves.”
He said that in 2013, five correctional deputies were assaulted. There were two assaults on jail deputies in 2014.
In 2015, when AB 109’s implementation was in swing, there were 36 assaults and there were 27 in 2016. So far this year, there have been 22 assaults, including four attacks requiring some level of hospitalization.
“This is the reality,” Honsal said. “On a good day, we have 20 correctional deputies that are assigned to 400 inmates,” he added, saying that about 20 percent of inmates show “unpredictable behavior on a daily basis and it is becoming an increasingly difficult job to do.”
Honsal offered a blunt assessment of the accused attackers. “These guys are straight-up thugs – that’s the only way to describe them,” he said. “It’s thugs that do this kind of stuff.”
During a question and answer session, Honsal said the Sheriff’s Office believes that Bailey and Little are “part of a gang” and he thinks the motive for the assault is “furtherance of their gang.”
Bailey is in jail on a murder charge, Honsal continued. “He is likely going to prison and a lot of times, these guys like to set the tone before they go to prison – ‘Hey, this is the kind of badass I am, I took on a correctional deputy so don’t mess with me when I go to prison.’”
Honsal said Little is in jail for a probation violation and would have probably been sent to prison for it in the times preceding AB 109.
In response to the escalating assaults on deputies, training will “focus more on defensive tactics,” said Honsal.
The county’s forthcoming jail expansion project, which is funded through AB 109, will help reduce the facility’s overcrowding impacts by adding 44 beds, he said in response to a question.
A full video of the press conference was taken by Oliver Cory and is posted on the Redheaded Blackbelt blog, which is administrated by Southern Humboldt resident Kym Kemp.
ORDINARILY, the file of prisoners in the dock, the “in custodies,” have precedence and their cases are called first as it costs a lot of money to stall and delay the timely shuttling of prisoners to and fro from the jail to the courthouse, and then, after the in-custodies have gone through, the at-liberties — those defendants on the calendar who are not in custody, are generally called alphabetically — all of that standard operating procedure was put aside for the Good Doctor, whose eminence seemed to have infected the court with some kind of pixie dust; indeed, the judge appeared visibly to glow and sparkle, as though she’d been touched with a magic wand, sort of like an Englishwoman in the presence of Her Majesty, The Queen!
Mr. Stoen, too, was infected, highly aware of his self-importance in such a high-profile case. After the case was over, and as he was hobnobbing with Mr. Andrian and some other attorneys, Deputy DA Beth Norman, who usually handles crimes against women, interrupted to shove — yes, shove — the Keegan files and miscellany (which Stoen had left in a scatter on the prosecution’s table), and she, Ms. Norman, had had to gather up — shove it all into Mr. Stoen’s arms, causing him to chuckle garrulously in his (Stoen’s) own signature way, as a means of deprecating Ms. Norman’s impatience with him.
All in all, it was quite a spectacle, and despite the advance notice, no other local media organs bothered to field a reporter — now, isn’t that curious! (Bruce McEwen)
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 13, 2017
LACEY FREEMAN, Covelo. Grant theft.
VLAS GOLOMYS*, (Kovel, northwestern Ukraine)/ Branscomb. Pot cultivation.
ANTHONY GONZALES, Ukiah. Criminal threats, witness intimidation, offenses while on bail.
DANIEL HOFFMAN, Manteca/Leggett. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
PAVEL KOLOSOV*, Santa Monica/Branscomb. DUI.
ELLE MARTEENY, Ukiah. ID theft, conspiracy, probation revocation.
FILOBERTO MARTINEZ, Santa Rosa/Leggett. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, battery on peace officer, vandalism, resisting.
TRACY MASSEY, Ukiah. Petty theft, failure to appear, probation revocation.
PHILLIP MCELMURRY, San Ysidro/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DENA MORRIS, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
CONSUELA OCHOA, Santa Rosa/Leggett. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
MARCOS RODRIGUEZ-TURNER, Ukiah. Resisting.
ERIC SPRING, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JENNIFER SUTHERLAND, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ROBERT VALADEZ, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
FES VALERI*, Santa Monica/Branscomb. Pot Cultivation.
*BIG DAY FOR BRANSCOMB!
Branscomb Goes International.
Ukrainians In Branscomb?
VLAS? Did you do this?
You gave up this in Ukraine to grow pot in Branscomb?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I used to live in the SF Bay Area and had to move because I was being rent-gouged right out of town. They raised the rent on my 440 square foot studio to $3,430. No, that’s not a typo. In Palo Alto, a 1 BR apartment starts at $4,000.
The US economy is now being driven by the rentier class and their insatiable demand for passive income. Takers, not makers, are what dominate the “success” stories.
And it’s not just residential real estate that’s gone nuts. I used to live in Palo Alto, CA which was once a bohemian paradise full of cafes, music stores, music venues, and bookstores. Now it’s a mecca for realtors. The average home in Palo Alto is $2.6 MILLION dollars. And let me tell you, it’s a modest home.
To some degree this scenario is playing out all across America, just not to that extreme. We’re rewarding people who take money from small businessmen and renters. Though many on this site appear to be of a Libertarian bent, I hate to break it to you but the private sector is not working anymore.
I believe taxation rates for rental income should be the highest bracket. Period. This will discourage wealthy people from buying up properties hand-over-fist and then just waiting for the rent checks to come.
BITCOIN UP over 20% since last Wednesday; up 14.1% today, August 13, in Middle East trading
KMEC Radio 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA, will be doing a show in the near future about the insane bull market in cryptocurrencies.
by Scott M. Peterson
THERE’S A MOVIE worth looking up called Soylent Green. Charlton Heston stars in it along with Edward G. Robinson in 1973. It’s all about dwindling resources on a dying planet sometime in the future — like today. As food becomes harder to find, a delicious new product from the Soylent Corporation hits the market — Soylent Green. Right about then, people started disappearing. Leaving fewer and fewer mouths to feed. Which — oddly enough — coincided with a Soylent Green shortage.
RIVERSIDE GRANGE NO. 861 is located in California. That’s according to the California State Grange — CSG — website anyway. But exactly where is another question. A search at the Registry of Charitable Trusts shows no such entity. Ditto for the Secretary of State and National Center for Charitable Statistics. Poof. It’s nowhere to be found. There’s another grange in Riverside County according to the CSG website. That’s Rubidoux Grange No. 611. Okay. According to the IRS, it’s located at P.O. Box 1112 in San Jacinto along with Grange No. 31 — which isn’t listed on the CSG website. Since both granges have websites with email addresses, I sent them each an email to find out more.
I PICKED Riverside Grange No. 861 for a reason. According to my information, California State Granges are numbered sequentially. So there should be at minimum 861 of them — at least historically. Members have died off over time, but what about the Grange Hall properties? What happened to them?
FORTUNATELY the CSG keeps good records — sort of. The website dates the organization back to 1873. Sets of annual meeting minutes are available from 1955 through 2015. The first time Riverside No. 861 got mentioned was in 2015. And heck, it didn’t even have a number yet. Leaving it wet behind the ears, so to speak. But the number of chapters in attendance at that meeting was only eighteen. That told me that 843 Grange Halls were missing in action. So when did they all start disappearing?
IN 1955, NEARLY three hundred chapters attended the annual convention — the exact number was 291. According to the meeting minutes, it was held in Sacramento. By 1980, that number had dropped to 201. And by 2010, only 51 chapters showed up. Which was kind of a bummer for attendees. All of which wound up paying for the once-a-year convention. Not to mention the 24/7 overhead. In the early days, it was no big deal. The expenses for 1955 amounted to less than $10 grand. At an average of ten members per chapter, it cost about three dollars a head. Then things changed.
IN 2015 the California State Grange was running hot. Expenses — declared under penalty of perjury on the Form 990 — ran $298,650. Now divide that by two hundred members and see what you get. I don’t know about your abacus, but mine came up with nearly $1,500 a year — per Grange member. And since dues ran only $35 a year, you can see the problem. But where was the California State Grange getting all that money?
UKIAH GRANGE NO. 419 couldn’t attend the 2015 convention because it’d been dissolved ten years earlier. Its property on South State Street in Ukiah had been sold to Jim Mayfield and family for $250,000 in 2000. $100,000 of that was a kickback to the State Grange, laundered through a fake construction project in Sacramento. Fort Bragg Grange No. 672 didn’t show up either. Nor did any Grange with property — because they’d all gotten wind of what happened in Ukiah.
STATE GRANGE OFFICIALS had been depositing the proceeds from Grange Hall sales into something called ‘Restricted Accounts’ before 2005. Including those of Gridley Grange No. 457. That was dissolved in 2002. CSG definitely needed the money, but they couldn’t just take it. So they passed a motion at the 2005 State Convention to borrow it. You get the picture. From that point on the super sized cookie jar got renamed the ‘Asset Management Account’ and was raided at will. Of course, that’s when lawyers got involved.
BEFORE 2005, legal fees had never exceeded $1,000. But afterward they fucking skyrocketed. By 2014, lawyers cost a whopping $293,037 for one California State Grange and $36,901 for another. That’s right. In 2014, there were two CSGs. And those costs were only for the State level. At the National Grange it ran two-thirds of it’s income — $743,490. Now where do you think all that money came from? Uh-huh. All of it was borrowed from the newly minted ‘Asset Management Account’ — which in turn had come from the sale of Grange Halls. The California State Grange was eating itself alive.
WORTHY MASTER Ed Komski acknowledged that issue in his address to the 2015 convention — in a roundabout way. Stating, ‘Masters of Granges attempted to sell Grange halls and assets. Some actually succeeded in doing so, taking property and assets that were not theirs to take.’ Duh. What Komski didn’t say was who did it — and who wound up with the money. In the same address, he promised that all would be resolved with a set of brand new bylaws up for adoption at that very convention.
THE 2011 CONVENTION hadn’t gone so well for State Grange officials. Try as they might, only 49 chapters attended — leaving them without a quorum. Yet — miraculously — in 2015 when only 18 chapters attended, there was a quorum. How? By downsizing the total number of chapters to the eligible number of chapters. Meaning whoever showed up.
‘I AM NOT YOUR KING,’ Komski wrote. ‘But the one you elected to lead the efforts in fulfilling your directives.’ Some Grange members didn’t see it that way. That includes Bruce Broderick of the former Fort Bragg Grange No. 672. According to Broderick, Komski formed a second California State Grange to create ‘Super Granges’ — vehicles that could enable sale of surrounding Grange Halls. Komski portrays himself as a victim of the legal squabbles. Broderick disagrees. ‘The truth of the matter is that this conflict was conceived and orchestrated entirely by Ed Komski over a period of many years.’ he said.
GROUND ZERO in that conflict today is Bennett Valley in Sonoma County. Where State and National Grange officials filed a lawsuit over possession of the Grange Hall there. On December 13, 2016, Bennett Valley Grange No. 16 officials changed the name of their organization to Bennett Valley Guild — thereby preventing the sale of its property. The lawsuit — dated June 27, 2017 — relies on an earlier court ruling demanding that all Grange property be returned to the California State Grange. Guild officials don’t contest that ruling and insist the California State Grange never owned it in the first place. That claim is supported by CSG’s Form 990s — for both organizations — where the Bennett Valley property isn’t listed.
IF THAT LAWSUIT succeeds, it’s sure to trigger a costly appeal — something that’ll cost both the State and National Granges more cash than they’ve got on hand. Broderick has an idea where that’ll come from. ‘Ukiah Autumn Leaves was quietly mortgaged for $750,000 last year,’ Broderick told me. ‘That’s what’s floating their lawsuit.’ He turned out to be correct. The Ukiah HUD complex was mortgaged for that amount last year by Grange officials. And they won’t say what it was for.
GETTING ANGELS to dance on the head of a pin is one thing. But Komski’s lawsuit is a horse of a different color. It greases the wheels of justice by contending ‘The majority of the chapters remained members of the Grange’ — when in fact, they didn’t. That’s evident in minutes of the 2011 convention where 49 chapters didn’t constitute a majority. The purpose of new chapters — like Riverside No. 861 — is to create the appearance of a majority.
THAT EXPLAINS why Mr. Komski created an entirely new chapter in Fort Bragg — Fort Bragg No. 572 — for the gullible Peeler family. Don Peeler accepted his framed certificate at the 2017 convention without reading it. Meaning he and his compliant wife could be relied on to vote with Komski no matter what. And that certificate wasn’t the only swindle for Komski’s flock. The biggest one is on the website.
GRANGE MEMBERS rely on the State Grange website for updates on their various lawsuits. But — as can be seen on the latest lawsuit — they left something important out. That’s a December 5, 2016 ruling that the California State Guild is recognized as a viable, stand-alone corporation — and has been since 1946. Something that Komski has no authority over. Nonetheless, he never stops trying. Mostly by keeping his soldiers in the dark. Swearing that the Guild is ‘an entity of unknown form’ — and doing it under oath. Not personally, but by proxy. Through another compliant individual named Nancy Cadigan of Sebastopol Grange No. 306. Thus supporting Broderick’s contention about ‘Super Granges’ taking over smaller ones.
THE ODD THING about Sebastopol Grange No. 306 is the fact that it never attended the 2015 convention. Meaning that it had no input whatsoever into Mr. Komski’s new bylaws. The delegates who did had no skin in the game. Only one was from Mendocino County. That’s Whitesboro Grange No. 766, represented by husband-and-wife ‘alternates’ Bob and Marialice Canclini. According to Grange records, Whitesboro was hanging by a thread in Y2K with only three members. Yet somehow the Canclini household managed to show up and vote for the newfangled rules. Oblivious to the impact on their Grange Hall.
UNDER those new rules, Whitesboro Grange No. 766 would be absorbed into Komski’s Mendocino ‘Super Grange’ No. 572. The one run by those nice people with the Confederate flag flying from their front porch, Don & Marilla Peeler. Right along with fifteen other Mendocino County Granges. To be sold off — one-by-one — by the Worthy Master himself, Ed Komski. No quorum will be called for that session. And no votes will be taken. It’ll all be done under the new bylaws, by decree, and for the good of the order. Along with every other Grange Hall in the Golden State.
AS KOMSKI SAID in his 2015 convention address, it’s no big deal. ‘Use asset for asset. Sell a hall. Then build a hall. Live and operate efficiently.’ In other words — ‘We need to downsize, people. But that’s painful. So let me take care of it.’ And that’s where we are today. Letting Ed Komski deal the cards. But look at this in poker parlance. Years ago somebody started dealing blackjack at a table with a six-deck shoe. Over time, cards started disappearing. Now we’re down to eighteen cards and a dealer who pulls them out of his sleeve. The house has lost three million dollars — and counting — with a fifty-fifty chance of losing the entire casino on one bad hand. Put yourself in the pit boss’s position. What would you do?
THE JUDGES in this case will be immortalized no matter how they decide. United States District Judge William B. Shubb will be remembered for his decisions against the casino long after he’s gone. Ditto for the Appeals Court Justices who review this matter. And possibly all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Do members of a democratic society have the right of self-determination? Or are they subject to foreign rule? Does a duly elected representative answer to the people? Or is it the other way around? Like it was before the U.S. Constitution? Or after?
BRUCE BRODERICK of the Fort Bragg Guild answered my questions in a heartbeat. ‘The New State Grange is an extension of a corrupt governing body that has lost its way and is only interested in continuing its way of doing business that serves big Ag and other corporate entities.’ I never got a response to my email inquiry to Riverside Grange No. 861. It was the same for Rubidoux Grange No. 611. Crickets. So whatever they’re doing — they aren’t very proud of it.
IN THE CLOSING MOMENTS of ‘Soylent Green’ the hero — Thorn — discovers the truth. That the Soylent Corporation profited by turning human beings into groceries. Kind of like Mr. Komski does with chapters at the California State Grange today. In the final scene Thorn shouts, ‘Soylent Green is people.’ That’s pretty much what Broderick is saying about the California State Grange now.
IN THE COURSE of writing this article, I got a second hand complaint about my reporting from a fellow I’ve never met — George Reinhardt. According to Mendocino County records, he’s registered to vote here so he can’t be all bad. Apparently he’s detail oriented too. Leading a thirteen-year old effort to turn somebody else’s land — the Fort Bragg mill site — into something useful. For that, Mr. Reinhardt adheres to something called the Hannover Principles. They’re a set of nine guidelines about not just planning — but co-existence. The last of which — according to Wikipedia — is to ‘Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.’ With that in mind, I emailed Mr. Reinhardt a link to this article. Inviting him to share his complaint with all my readers.
I ALSO expect Mr. Reinhardt to elaborate on the sixth Hannover Principle — ‘Eliminate the concept of waste.’ And precisely how that applies to the millpond full of dioxin that’s been flowing into the Pacific Ocean for — oh, say — thirteen years. Along with the fifth Hannover Principle — ‘Create safe objects of long-term value.’ To give him a chance to identify who poisoning the food chain creates long-term value for. Until Mr. Reinhardt can respond, I’ll expect him to abide the first Hannover Principle — ‘Insist on the right of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.’ Translation; backstabbing is bullshit, George.
PS: The illustrated version of this article with snarky photo captions and hyperlinks is here: https://tinyurl.com/grangebreakfast
ANTHONY BLUNT: THE MOST ELEGANT TRAITOR
by Manuel Vicent
Translated by Louis S. Bedrock
No one ever carried the fascinating game of imposture so far. Anthony Blunt was born on September 26, 1907, in Bournemouth on the southern coast of England. He was the son of an Anglican vicar and a graduate of Trinity College.
In his youth, he formed part of the Bloomsbury Group, a stable of exquisite creatures dressed in wafer-colored clothes: diletantes, skeptics, collectors of butterflies who wore soft hats and who, in the 1930s, established their existence somewhere between intelligence and neurosis, beyond good and evil. Anthony Blunt was the most daring among them when it came to leading a double or triple life, without which no one in this milieu could consider himself an interesting person.
Philosophers Bertrand Russell and Ludvig Wittgenstein, economist John Maynard Keynes, writer Gerald Brenan, novelist E.M. Forster, writer Katherine Mansfield, painters Dora Carrington and Duncan Grant, and other golden people would meet for the Thursday tertulias in the house of Virginia Woolf at 46 Gordon Square in London in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury. They talked about art, philosophy, the new economics, psychoanalysis, quantum theory, and the Fabian Society; of Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Picasso. They got high on peyote and threw parties dressed up as Sultans.
Who would not want to have an evangelistic vicar in one’s family tree and have inherited money that’s been “purified” for several generations in order to be a rich and entertaining, aesthetically wicked snob, and be accepted into the aristocracy after passing through Trinity College?
Anthony Blunt also possessed a physical elegance: He had a bone structure the gods only awarded to their chosen. He was a professor of art at Cambridge and was a specialist in the baroque painter Nicolas Poussin and in the sculptor Barromini. He was a successful critic in the newspaper The Spectator. He was a member of the Warburg Institute—a center that specialized in Renaissance iconography.
He was a homosexual and a crypto-communist—two reasons to feel oneself at the margin of the Victorian order. Other members of the Bloomsbury Group and Blunt’s companions from Cambridge traveled to Greece and Constantinople at that time, with a myriad of canvas-lined trunks, in order to combine the sight of the Parthenon or the Blue Mosque with the contemplation of children clothed in rags—which allowed them to be at once elegant and compassionate,
However, in 1933, Blunt preferred to visit Russia, which was in full revolutionary turmoil, and there, after being enchanted by the avant-garde of the Russian Constructivist movement, by the new techniques of the image, and by the spirit of universal brotherhood that appeared to be germinating, the NKVD—The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the predecessor of the KGB, took advantage of his emotions in order to recruit him into their network.
The game began because of the secret fascination of being a leftist, of being cultured and anti-patriotic—qualities that led him to the vertigo of the abyss. But Blunt further complicated the game of cards when he joined the British army in 1939 as a spy in service of the British crown.
Although it might appear incomprehensible to us today, there was a time when the Soviet revolution stirred the noblest part of the hearts of many aesthetes, who had developed a natural rebelliousness in the elite schools of England. They believed that art too was to be liberated from the chains of the bourgeoise and began to ride the same horse toward the equality of all men beyond social class and national borders. The greatest snobs experienced this ideal with a thrill of a hidden, shameful passion.
This historian of English art was one of the Cambridge Five along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, John Cairncross, and Kim Philby—a group of spies at the service of the Soviet Union since the 1930s and during the Cold War. But all of his companions had been exposed and Blunt, who had worked for the Soviet secret service for four decades, was the fourth man—a mysterious creature who remained in the darkness.
Kim Philby, who only wanted to be a spy and had no other possibilities, surfaced as a defector in Moscow; in contrast, Blunt protected his existence as an art historian.
Spy, cryptic communist, double agent: to stretch his excitement to the limit of his evanescent decadence what Blunt needed was to go even further—to receive more honors, responsibilities, medals from the Crown, at the same time that he was betraying his country. In 1945, he was designated Curator of the royal collection of paintings; later he became the Queen’s personal consultant and was named a Knight of the Royal Crown.
This was the visible part of his personality along with his inevitable presence in Buckingham Palace, where he walked around with a cat in his arms as if he were in his own house.
The honors continued until November 15, 1979, when Margaret Thatcher, in response to an insidious prepared question, unmasked him publicly in Parlament. By then, Blunt was already an old man.
From that moment on, rats began to emerge from behind the facade—as always occurs when beauty flirts with evil. How is it possible that such an elegant being had committed such heinous acts? This is one of those unfathomable mysteries of the human soul.
On the other hand, the ensuing hunt that this personage suffered followed the script of the ritual of the old deer that offers its flank to a pack of dogs:
It turned out that this sodomite professor had seduced some students in the university; was responsible for the death of 49 Dutch agents; had a fortune hidden outside the country; had provoked the suicide of one of his students, Virginia Lee; had practiced pedophilia in the Kincora Orphanage in Northern Ireland; and he had blackmailed the Duke of Windsor by accusing him of being a Nazi collaborator.
He issued a report authenticating counterfeit paintings; he conspired with the salesman Wildenstein in order to sell a counterfeit painting of Georges de la Tour to The Metropolitan Museum of New York; he stole the authorship of a book about Picasso from his student Phoebe Pool; he had borrowed money from Baron Von Rothschild to buy a Poussin and had not paid back the money; and he had obtained a Poussin for a pittance from his friend Duncan Grant—an old companion from Bloomsbury who was by then old and helpless, and he resold it to a Canadian gallery for an astronomical price.
This string of charges began to sound like mantras in all the tabloids and has been picked up by many historians.
Anthony Blunt refused to defend himself. He elevated hypocrisy to an aesthetic level. He limited himself to enduring the abandonment by his friends and the public disgrace with the greatest impudence as if it were merely another game or another fiction. In 1979, when he was seated before a tribunal, the public prosecutor asked him,
—Are you aware that you have been a traitor to your country?
The elegant, elderly Anthony Blunt cleared his throat and answered with his finest Cambridge accent,
—I’m afraid so.
It’s impossible to conceive of a more arrogant response. And nothing changed until his death in 1983 amidst the ashes of oblivion.