- Candidate Williams
- Nudging GP
- Ventura Burning
- Courthouse Hardships
- Judicial Pageantry
- Gibbons Appearance
- Supes Comments
- Homeless Everywhere
- Little Dog
- River Plan
- Eggink Found
- County Sued
- Abalone Collapse
- Yesterday's Catch
- Robert McNamara
- Empty Houses
- Bennett Show
- College Degrees
- Bipartisan Impeachment
- Keillor Allegations
- SNAP Myths
- Far Right
- Ben Shoutouts
- Prison Healthcare
- Farming Origins
- Tax Attack
- MCBG News
- Jerry Aragon
- Student Fare
Albion-Little River Fire Chief Ted Williams to run for 5th District Supervisor:
I want to serve as the Supervisor for the 5th District of Mendocino because I believe my experience, accomplishments and imagination can help find solutions to the many problems that currently confront our county.
We face a shortage of affordable housing, inadequate access to broadband and severe strains on our county’s long-term financial viability. We need to strengthen our coastal protections, especially against oil extraction. We need to bolster equipment and training for our public safety personnel and first responders. Mendocino County must do whatever it can to ensure health care availability and a functioning hospital on the coast.
I was born in the Coast Hospital, raised in Comptche and graduated Mendocino Community High School. My wife, Mary, and I celebrate our 20th anniversary next year and we are blessed with our daughter Alice, 15, and son Bjorn, 11 and I have served as Chief of the Albion-Little River Fire Protection District since 2011.
In 2014, I worked with concerned citizens to pass Measure M, the passage (82%) of which enabled us to modernize our equipment. In 2015, I served on the committee that authored and passed Measure V, the enforcement of which will enhance public safety countywide.
As 5th District Supervisor I will listen. I will answer every call. The best way to learn about my vision is direct exchange: TED@TED.NET, Cell: 707 937-3600
GIANT EATS JACK
by Rex Gressett
Last week’s marathon City Council meeting was Georgia-Pacific's best effort to settle the fate of the Fort Bragg mill site. The loyal foot-soldiers of the second largest holding company in the United States went home triumphant.
But there might be a backlash.
At least some City Councilmembers who voted for the GP friendly Local Coastal Plan amendment (LCP-A, the city’s submission to the Coastal Commission about what to do with the mill site that next needs approval by the Coastal Commission) say now that they could easily reverse or modify their support for the amendment. One councilman expressed remorse. I have a tenacious confidence that the will of the people of the city is sovereign in the authority of the City Council. The Mayor and the Council were recently revealed to have been the object of massive implicitly legal GP lobbying pressure.
The council can only deal with so much at one time and there is no doubt that this Council is overtaxed. There is no likely candidate emerging for the office of City Manager. After dealing with the one we have had for 17 years, the very title conjures immediate suspicion and distrust. The city collectively has Linda Ruffing related PTSD. Everyone is wondering who is going to walk into that? The Public Works Director keeps losing huge amounts of city money and nobody seems to know what to do about him. If he gets fired he will be the first city administrator not to be pensioned off with honors in a very long time. One councilman told me it would be the first time ever. They are thinking about it.
Funding Disasters, overcharges, surprise deficits and the grim portending ESOP (employee pension) contributions indicating imminent city bankruptcy possibly within a couple of years have left the city with a formidable minefield to navigate after the author of our miseries leaves for her gilded retirement. Explosions of red ink are distracting the council's composure. The reaction is naturally retrenchment and self-protection.
Former City Manager Linda Ruffing has dug us a hole so deep that proactive imaginative action on the mill site is not thinkable let alone practicable. The City Council is suspended in a power vacuum and absent Linda's solicitous fairy tales it looked pretty grim.
Then in the darkness, there were little sparks of hope. Into the vacuum of suspended council initiative, activist opportunists interjected rational pressure, which could be the very fuel of council empowerment and imagination in the darkest hour.
But before there was community initiative there was City Council capitulation. In what would be the City Council’s Monday night cascading cave in to GP, the reform majority on the council — Mike Cimilino, Bernie Norvell and Will Lee — gave GP the green light for the next step in the Dry Shed 4 demolitions. Then with barely a pause, the reform council majority completed GP victory night by giving them wide latitude to subdivide the property. There was almost no discussion and one suspects very little consideration with the majority agreeing to a plan from which we can not back down, that does nothing for city infrastructure and ignores toxic liability.
I am frequently discouraged by public comments at City Council meetings. Very rarely does the council give any consideration to the three-minute remarks of the general public. Broad city policy is necessarily determined, refined and concluded far in advance of the bi-weekly public meetings. The frequently ill-considered off the cuff comments (including my own) are often reactions of surprise, dismay, and indignation. It has very little effect. Neither the line up of regulars nor the occasional wave of interested commenters is very disaccommodating to the designs of the insiders.
On Monday night, community advocates and outsiders hit the council hard. They made waves that went very far beyond tame public comment. Power, more than nature, abhors a vacuum. Focused informed citizen participation is rife in the city of Fort Bragg. For a decade local citizens raise their objections, disapproving incumbents and throwing light on the ever retreating shadows of calculating civic obfuscation.
George Reinhardt and his NUDGE organization have been trying to affect planning at the mill site for decades. Over the years the City Council has listened and the public has applauded. GP not so much. NUDGE was instrumental in the very bad plan which was the now-discarded the Specific Plan. Water under the bridge of experience.
Lately, Reinhardt has garnered wide public support for his popular proposal to daylight the creeks and preserve the wetlands. Reinhardt obtained a leaked letter to Mayor Lindy Peters that expressed explicitly GP’s intention to withdraw from the cleanup. In rational alarm he brought to the council a carefully crafted resolution demanding a complete cleanup. The council passed the resolution but earlier in the evening they had thrown the game on mandatory thorough cleanup. The LCP Amendment approach makes cleanup much less likely. Although the Reinhardt resolution for full cleanup tempted one to cheer anyway, it is a very fragile instrument, It only drew a line in the sand over which the battalions of GP lawyers conveniently march to victory.
George was trying, in spite of everything, to support his council in their insistence on behalf of red-hot community outrage that GP is held responsible and liable for the wetlands cleanup. The Reinhardt resolution was useful but sadly ironic. But win or lose it is also a model for all community interests to bring before the working council resolutions not originating from across the desk of the City Manager.
But initiative and direction were for once not limited to George Reinhardt. Jacob Patterson applied unsuccessfully to be our City Attorney. He is a charming, smart, savvy attorney, bringing with him with an earned reputation in municipal advocacy. He arrived in Fort Bragg just in time to witness with objective bemusement the maelstrom of city scandal. Going to the heart of the matter councilor Patterson conducted an elaborate personal study of the deeply mysterious heart of Linda Ruffing’s possibly extra-legal manipulation of city finances, fees and salaries. In two election cycles, the fee and salary structure at Town Hall has been thought extremely suspect. After election temperatures settled down newbies found the accounting so dark and convoluted that no one could figure it out. I know Cueball Cimolino tried. Into the reputed heart of the swamp of municipal financial obscurity, councilor Patterson waded without thanks. He charged Town Hall with a bushel basket of public information request notices. This information was compiled with considerable difficulty by the long-suffering City Clerk, Ms. Lemos. The information was refined, evaluated and expressed in exquisite legal terms by attorney Patterson in a letter to the City Council just in time for the November 27th meeting. His 18 questions did what I have seen almost no one else do: it stopped them dead in their tracks.
The no-lookie part of the meeting they call the consent calendar concealed an item that addressed fees charged by the city. This small crucial item was pulled with dispatch as the city administration went racing back to their desks to answer Mr. Patterson’s 18 questions with serious concentration. It was a reaction utterly out of character for a city administration that normally will look you right in the eye when it stomps on the public interest. Mr. Patterson's initiative was a demonstration of community activism consistent with the high standards that Fort Bragg has established over the last decade for community political participation. Between Maryanne and Jacob Patterson, the City Council has at their back a force of reason and a way to get down to brass tacks. The council can not do it on their own.
In the aftermath of suspended disappointment and present perplexity that hung over the evening, Skunk Train manager Robert Pinoli got up to the podium and mentioned with humility that he was by all appearances the default winner in the mill site dismemberment.
The Development Department Director has given this reporter two letters from GP that deny with force any impending deal between the Skunk. The development director takes herself very seriously and will not allow that GP might keep her in the same closet in which she habitually keeps us. However, there is nothing in the corporate character or recent behavior of the GP boys to suggest that they place any value on gratuitous candor.
The role of the aptly named Skunk, has been to toss all infinitely tedious and uncertain deliberations about zoning out Town Hall’s window. If the Skunk Train is technically a railroad (a dubious stretch) it may be immune from most zoning restrictions under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995. They think they don’t need the city. They may be right. The inherent city administration irrationality of zoning a property in elaborate and restrictive terms far in advance of anybody expressing a rational use for it was made comically clear in the discarded Specific Plan. That ate up ten years folks.
The newly proposed LCP Amendment zoning is equally a shot in the dark. The Skunk came at the Development Department from left field out of total darkness. The first time anybody but Town Hall insiders heard of the Skunk Train negotiation was very recently when the owner of the Skunk showed up at the phony survey workshop to shake hands with the Development Director and announce himself. It was like Bruce Wayne coming out as Batman.
The pending and actual collapse of Skunk Train infrastructure is hypothetically no impediment to their acquisition of the northern quarter of the site, but it makes you wonder. The caved-in tunnel that separates the two halves of the Skunk Train enterprise is being worked on quietly. Mike Hart himself told me wistfully he would love to leave the tunnel collapsed. He says people like short rides because it helps with the kids. I have it on good authority that the tunnel project continues, although hampered by winter rains. The brave little railroad is decomposing before our eyes. The Willits half of the railroad looks even worse. It has become a cartoon of archaic deteriorating industrialism. Exterior design by R. Crumb. Who at GP remotely cares? The sale of the Skunk would leave the city sucking grapes.
If the partial cleanup slides under the wire lubricated by the LCP and GP gets to walk away, selling the northern half of the site to the Skunk Train would very likely mean a toxic future for Fort Bragg. But a quickie sale could also hurt GP badly; it makes the community angry and hardens the demand for a legal cleanup. The wildcard, if there is one, will be pissed off people in a struggle to stop an $800 billion giant from decreeing that the City of Fort Bragg live forevermore with impaired health and compromised wealth. A famously toxic Fort Bragg affects our prosperity as well. Surely the failure to utterly purge our wetlands of an incomparably dangerous molecule will stigmatize us as a waste dump forever. The power of the City Council to negotiate will come from the kind of informed, incredulous and determined citizen activists who made themselves felt on that grim night at town hall. It seemed like distant thunder, coming nearer.
MORE THAN 400 STRUCTURES DESTROYED IN 115,000-ACRE VENTURA COUNTY WILDFIRE
Gusty Santa Ana winds and bone-dry conditions continued to stoke major wildfires in Southern California on Thursday as Ventura County fire officials said the battle there could last well over a week.
By Thursday evening, the Thomas fire had consumed 115,000 acres, destroyed 427 structures in Ventura and damaged at least 85 more, authorities said. An additional 12 structures were destroyed in unincorporated areas of Ventura County.
As the blaze intruded on Santa Barbara County, residents living in Carpinteria, Summerland and other coastal communities nearby were told to prepare to evacuate, even in areas under voluntary evacuation orders.
The Thomas fire has been burning fast, at one point moving nine miles in 12 hours, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
Authorities said the fight could last a couple of weeks.
“Until the wind stops blowing, there’s really not a lot we can do as far as controlling the perimeter,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said as crews battled flames for the third day.
In Ojai, 40 mph winds pushed flames to within a mile of the city.
“We are mounting an aggressive aerial assault,” Ventura County Fire Capt. Robert Welsbie said as he observed the flames from Ojai. “The fire is suddenly widespread due to the velocity of erratic winds.”
The Thomas fire was one of a half-dozen wildfires burning in Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties Thursday.
WE’RE RE-POSTING THE BELOW audio clip from now retired Superior Court Judge Dave Nelson who offered it at the Board of Supervisors meeting back in November of 2015. Judge Nelson has been an ardent advocate for the unnecessary new courthouse for years since it first came up. In this clip Judge Nelson accurately assesses the problems that will occur when the new courthouse is built at the old Ukiah Train Depot site. After that assessment, Nelson suggests that the solution to the problem would be for the County to acquire a parcel next door to the Depot site and build a collection of new support facilities for the various offices who support their Royal Majesties in the courthouse. At the time of Nelson’s suggestion there was no response from the Board other than the usual “Thank you.” And there has been no activity since then to address the obvious problem of what to do about the District Attorney, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender and Probation departments. We’re not surprised that the Public Defender and Probation departments have been silent on the subject, they’ve never paid much attention to county business. But DA David Eyster does and so far not a peep out of him — which is surprising because his office will probably feel the affects of the much further away courthouse more than any other department.
JUDGE DOLAN’S GALA DEBUT!
This is Ensign McEwen reporting live from the courthouse in Ukiah for the swearing in of the new judge. I must say it’s pretty exciting – wait, strike that! Exciting is too puny a term for the breathtaking exhilaration at the Courthouse this Thursday evening – and, yes, technically, it’s only afternoon, but the sun is setting behind the western hills and it certainly feels like evening.
The sense of anticipation has become positively electric around the courthouse as all the lawyers arrive and bustle around in their exquisite new fashions, beaming with aloof pride to be part of the pageantry that attends a ceremony of this kind.
This reporter was not issued an invitation and my press pass expired back in ’09, but I’m going to gate crash, if the bailiffs don’t lay me by the heels, and try to give the readers a glimpse, at least, of all the glamour, glitz, and glory everyone seems to be snapping and sparking with as the crowds gather, wondering what on Earth could be going on – “Isn’t the Emerald Cup in Sonoma County,” one passerby asked? “What’s all the fuss?”
“A judge s about to be sworn in,” I answered.
* * * (Later) * * *
Back to report the seats were all taken in Department E, the largest courtroom, the one with the 30-foot ceilings, and sound-deadening suspended tiles, the grandeur of lost dignity, it seems, when Justice was perhaps more egalitarian, but nowadays, Department E is used pretty much exclusively for the financial concerns of the well to do – Civil Court, under the auspices and direction of The Honorable Jeanine Nadel, these past few years and aye, look! There she comes, her platinum helmet-hairstyle, the tres au-naturael in a “neutral” color, and I heard what I took to be her nylons snapping with what is called kinetic electricity, as she strode in wearing a flouncy houndstooth kilt, riding boots and her black robe over her arm.
Then in came Judge John Behnke. Yes, that’s a sentence. He’s the highest judge and – modest though he is – we all bow to his calm sapience in our wee, woebegotten community. For the past year he has presided in a special capacity, recently vacated by the retiring Judge Richard Henderson. Hot on the retirement tracks of Judge David Nelson, in this seemingly mad rush to get out before the… What?
Well, anyone who’s been in Mendo long enough to sober up and have a look around, knows all the players, the few owners and, correct me if I’m mistaken, the score.
Judge Behnke is nothing, nothing at all, if not modest. His humble manner would make Socrates look like a drunken braggart escaped from some pirate’s ship brig. The clothes make the man, true enough, but a man may choose, to some limited extent, how he presents himself in the role as a judge. Or, if the old-fashioned male neuter English form offends you, dear reader, it was actually The Right Honorable Ann Moorman, presiding over this ceremony.
She wore a white silk peasant’s blouse under her black robe, which, since everybody knew where she was going afterwards (The Saturday Afternoon Club), a block away, the sun gone over the hill, she walked in just before I got there. Itching to ask some safely guarded questions, I was greeted with a “Hale! Well met! Mr. McEwen — let’s have a drink!”
Unfortunately, the bartender was building a nest in a judge’s ear, and soon I glided over to the buffet tables, where the chaffing dishes and trepanning saws were laid out. There were some poisonously delicious things which were snapped-up wholesale – what, with all the underpaid courthouse flunkies who haven’t been able to afford a downtown lunch since 2013? – being turned loose on a, dare we say frugal layout? Keep in mind that the last few judge gigs have been at the pleasure and expense of their Honors, Keith Faulder (rumor has it he took a pay cut to wear the robe) and Ann Moorman (who had her reception at the Starr Center, an extravaganza we haven’t enjoyed since, or before?)
Hold your breath everybody: Here she comes! It's Her Honor, Carly Dolan. Wrapped in a thrifty yard of silk, the color a slapdash mix of royal blue and purple. An artful travesty of a uniform on top, with the bands from the shoulders slanting across her chest like chevrons, it was really quite martial in effect and at the same time, something out of a Bogart-Hepburn movie.
There was no microphone, and as I complained earlier, nobody outside of the inner circle could hear what-all… But they all knew how to play their parts and when the ripple of a giggle came from the center of the elect, it spread like a yawn, but in the opposite context, and everyone at once stopped chatting to join in the laughter they hadn’t heard the fountain of…
So. I have to sign off just now and go follow up on some other leads, having to do with clothing labels, etc. &c.
(Bruce McEwen in Ukiah)
JIM GIBBONS will appear at the Willits library on Saturday, December 16th at 2 pm. to talk about and read from his essential book “Flashbacks: A Memoir.”
TOWARD THE END of Tuesday’s Board meeting, First District Supervisor Carre Brown interrupted supervisor Dan Hamburg's Supervisors Report about the County’s Solid Waste Management Authority formerly run by Master (Wife) Recycler Mike Sweeney, now being run by a younger, more energetic new hire — Hamburg just called him "Robert" — from the State’s giant Sacramento trash bureaucracy. Ms. Brown made the following rather disjointed observation:
“Question: When Mr. Sweeney was with MSWMA — one year — I haven't seen it since — artificial Christmas trees? They had a collection? For them? Recycling? For giving to people? I haven't seen it since he left. So could you find out about it? Because ’tis the season!”
Hamburg said he would, but immediately went back to his irrelevant recycling report, so he probably won’t.
OFFSETTING THAT odd remark somewhat, Supervisor and Board Chair John McCowen commented about the recent passage of Measure B which is supposed to fund new mental health treatment facilities and training:
“There is no question in my mind that the County will benefit tremendously by having local mental health facilities because when we have people sitting in jail or sitting in the emergency room waiting for placement in a facility where they can get appropriate treatment, those other facilities can pick and choose who they will accept and who they will not. Because they have a difficult history sometimes, we are not able to place some of the sickest people, and they wind up back out on the street. I'm aware of a very mentally disturbed young person that that just happened to. If we have a local facility the odds will be a lot better that those folks will actually get treatment.”
HEATHER KNIGHT is a columnist for the Chron's business section. A couple of weeks ago she nicely summed up the neo-Zola street scene in San Francisco and, by extension, the streets of bucolic Mendocino County at Ukiah and Fort Bragg:
"MANY SAN FRANCISCANS wonder whether our political leaders truly see what we see: the filth, the garbage, the dirty needles, the drug use, the homeless people who sit at the same corner day after day needing help. Do the city's top dogs really see this embarrassing underbelly of our glorious city, or are they safely tucked away behind their big wooden desks, able to ignore the muck as they're whisked from one meeting to another in a private car…?"
NOBODY IS "WHISKED" anywhere on Frisco's congested, Mumbai-like streets, even the insulated limo class ultimately responsible for the growing numbers of the damned who make their homes on the sidewalks, beneath the underpasses, on the banks of the Russian River, along the Skunk tracks not far from central Fort Bragg. Everywhere in the land shuffling shoals of Thanatoids drift up and down the public streets like a lost army of some terrible battle. The money people and their elected gofers like SF's bumbling mayor, Ed Lee, are fully aware of the growing numbers of damaged people out there and also know, at some level of their defective consciences, that if the rich paid their fair share of the social load the walking wounded would be properly cared for, a few of them maybe even set right again.
BUT SAN FRANCISCO, like Ukiah and Fort Bragg, has privatized and out-sourced the homeless to a large class of "helping professionals" who in turn faithfully vote for people like Ed Lee, and what we have is a large apparatus of well paid people who are also an obstacle to actually getting the homeless off the street.
HERE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, and everywhere else on the sinking ship, SS America, and despite spending literal millions, with millions for themselves of course, an array of comfortably compensated people preside over an inexorable increase of hopelessly damaged people wandering around unattended, further damaging themselves and public space via drink and drugs. The homeless everywhere, once the responsibility of the genuinely committed at this country's charities, have now become funding units for an essentially parasitic apparatus who not only resist all reform but elect "liberals" certain to continue their funding, increase it even. And they all congratulate themselves as they make things steadily worse.
SO, MR. SMARTY BOOTS, what would you do? I'd begin by at least trying to elect people who have a basic understanding of this economy and the social structure it supports. Even the soft socialist, Bernie, briefly gave millions of people hope that the rich could be forced to pay their fair share, not that Bernie threatened the limo people with his soft-shoe proposal to bump taxes on the mega-wealthy by relative pennies. Trump, of course, has just gifted the One Percent with another round of windfall dollars at the expense of the rest of us, as the entire political drift of things, from the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to the White House ensures that our cities and towns continue as outdoor asylums.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “As we've seen, my progressive credentials are in order — Dan! Lynda! Meg! But Skrag just snickers and says, “You're one desperate little mutt’.” Here's a credential!
NAVARRO RIVER BASIN INSTREAM FLOW NEEDS ASSESSMENT STUDY PLAN (STUDY)
Joint Agency/Stakeholder Kick-Off Meeting
October 26, 2017; 4:30-7:00 pm
14400 CA-128, Boonville, CA 95415
MISSING REDWOOD VALLEY MAN FOUND
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help locating a voluntary missing person possibly experiencing a mental health crisis in the Redwood Valley Area.
Robert Eggink, 39, was last seen on Dec. 5, 2017 on Chezem Rd. sitting on a rocky ledge overlooking Redwood Creek.
Eggink is described as a white male adult, approximately 5’11” tall, 150 lbs, with strawberry blonde hair and a beard. He was last seen wearing a military-green parka and gray sweatpants.
Anyone with information on Eggink’s location is asked to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.
* * *
Update Thursday afternoon: @HumCoSO
#happeningnow Missing person Robert Eggink has been located unharmed.
MORALES VS. MENDOCINO COUNTY
Linda Morales sues Mendocino County in federal court for governmental child abduction.
FROSTY ON HWY 20
2018 ABALONE SEASON CLOSED
by Mary Callahan
The North Coast’s iconic abalone fishery will be closed next year by a unanimous vote of the California Fish and Game Commission.
Commissioners made their decision Thursday during a discussion in San Diego that was at times emotional and consistently sobering, given evidence of mass starvation and mortality among red abalone over the past several years.
But despite obvious desires to keep the fishery open at some minimum level in an effort to support longtime traditions and the coastal economy, the four commissioners present for the meeting determined that the risks of continuing to harvest the delectable mollusks were too great, given continuing decline in the stock.
“This is really tough,” said commission President Eric Sklar, a Napa County vintner who recently took up abalone diving, in part to lay eyes on conditions under water. “I know that I’m disappointing some people who have become great friends in the past year or so.”
The commission has been chipping away at opportunities for hunting abalone over several years because of environmental factors that have decimated the North Coast’s kelp forest and set off a series of ecological shifts that have killed off a large percentage of the region’s abalone and reduced reproductive fitness.
Two months were lopped off the seven-month season this year and bag limits were reduced from already restricted levels. But the densities of the shellfish have continued to decline, falling well below the level that would trigger a closure under the Abalone Recovery Management Plan approved by the commission in 2005, according to Sonke Mastrup, environmental program manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Given the state of their food supply and overall health, the numbers are not done falling, he said.
“We are off the scale on this thing,” Mastrup said, “and when we have seen these densities in this state and in other countries, we have seen a collapse. And frankly, we don’t know if we’re already there.”
Density is considered key to reproductive success because abalone are broadcast spawners and must be in close proximity to one another in order for eggs and sperm released into the water result in fertilization. It then takes about 12 years for juvenile abalone to grow to the size which it’s legal to hunt them.
Commissioner Anthony Williams of Huntington Beach made the motion to close the fishery, inserting a sunset of April 1, 2019 that will allow the governor-appointed panel to revisit the situation.
“I want to err on the side of protection,” Williams said.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 7, 2017
KEVIN BAILEY, Ukiah. Criminal threats.
LAKE CARRIGG, Willits. Failure to appear.
ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Parole violation.
JAMIL HARRELL, Willits. Criminal threats, disobeying court order.
OSCAR MALDONADO, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
DAVID NICKS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
CASEY RAY, Covelo. Honey oil extraction, recklessly causing a fire of inhabited structure, failure to appear.
JACOB SANDERSON, Laytonville. Petty theft, false personation of another, probation revocation.
RUSSELL VILLALPANDO, Fort Bragg. Interfering with business.
DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MCNAMARA: FROM THE TOKYO FIRESTORM TO THE WORLD BANK — MAY HE REST IN DARKNESS
by Alexander Cockburn (July, 2009)
Robert McNamara, who died last week, on July 6, served as Kennedy’s, then as Johnson’s Defense secretary. He contributed more than most to the slaughter of 3.4 million Vietnamese (his own estimate). He went on to run the World Bank, where he presided over the impoverishment, eviction from their lands and death of many millions more round the world.
Just as George Kennan, one of the architects of the Cold War, helped bolt together the ramshackle scaffolding of bogus claims that provided the rationalization for Harry Truman’s great “arms scare” in 1948, launching the postwar arms race, McNamara tugged his forelock and said “Aye, aye, Sir” when Kennedy, campaigning against Nxon in the late 1950s attacked the Eisenhower/Nixon administration for having allowed a “missile gap” to develop that had now delivered America naked and helpless into the grip of the Soviet Union.
This was the biggest lie in the history of threat inflation and remains so to this day. At the moment when Kennedy, McNamara at his elbow, was flaying the Eisenhower administration for the infamous “gap,” the US government from its spy planes that the Soviet Union had precisely one missile silo with an untested missile in it. The Russians knew that the US knew this, because they were fully primed about the U-2 spy-plane overflights, most dramatically when U-2 pilot Gary Powers crashed near Sverdlovsk and told all to his captors.
When President Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara took power in 1961, became privy to all intelligence from the spy flights, and announced that the US was going to build 1000 ICBMs the Russians concluded that the US planned to wipe out the Soviet Union and immediately began a missile-building program of their own. So McNamara played a crucial, enabling role in the arms race in nuclear missiles. Before the “missile gap” it had been a “bomber race.”
It was entirely appropriate and logical that he began his services to the military working in Japan as a civilian analyst for Curt LeMay, the psychopathic Air Force general who ordered the raid that produced the Tokyo firestorm and who went on to become head of the Strategic Air Command and who boasted to Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis that his missiles and B-52s were ready, willing and able to reduce the Soviet Union to a “smoldering, irradiated ruin in three hours,” a deed he was eager to accomplish.
LeMay was expert in guiding bright young systems analysts like McNamara into giving him the ex post facto intellectual rationales for enterprises on which he had long since set his mind. McNamara was an early member of the “defense intellectuals,” including Roberta and Albert Wohlstetter and Herman Kahn, who developed the whole argot of “controlled escalation,” “nuclear exchanges” and “mutual assured destruction” that kept the nuclear weapons plants, aerospace factories and nuclear labs at Los Alamos and Livermore and Oak Ridge humming along, decade after decade.
McNamara liked to claim later, as he did to Errol Morris in his documentary “The Fog Of War,” that it was he who advised LeMay to send in his planes at lower altitude, the better to incinerate Japanese cities, but the historical record does not give him this dignity. He was a small player in LeMay’s murderous game.
He faded comfortably away. The last time we saw him vividly was in 2004 as the star of Morris's wildly over-praised, documentary The Fog of War, talking comfortably about the millions of people he'd helped to kill.
Time and again, McNamara got away with it in that film, cowering in the shadow of baroque monsters like LeMay or LBJ, choking up about his choice of Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington, sniffling at the memory of Johnson giving him the Medal of Freedom, spouting nonsense about how Kennedy would have pulled out of Vietnam, muffling himself in the ever-useful camouflage of the “fog of war.”
Now, the “fog of war” is a tag usually attributed to von Clausewitz, though the great German philosopher and theorist of war never actually used the phrase. Eugenia Kiesling argued a couple of years ago in Military Review that the idea of fog — unreliable information — wasn't a central preoccupation of Clausewitz. “Eliminating fog,” Kiesling wrote, “gives us a clearer and more useful understanding of Clausewitz's friction. It restores uncertainty and the intangible stresses of military command to their rightful centrality in 'On War.' It allows us to replace the simplistic message that war intelligence is important with the reminder that Clausewitz constantly emphasizes moral forces in war.”
As presented by McNamara, through Morris, “the fog of war” usefully deflects attention from clear and unpleasant facts entirely unobscured by fog. Roberta Wohlstetter was a pioneer in this fogging technique back in the 1950s with her heavily subsidized Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision, which deployed the idea of distracting “noise” as the phenomenon that prevented US commanders, ultimately Roosevelt, from comprehending the information that the Japanese were about to launch a surprise attack. Wohlstetterian “noise” thus obscured the fact that FDR wanted a Japanese provocation, knew the attack was coming, though probably not its scale and destructiveness.
When McNamara looked back down memory lane there were no real shadows, just the sunlight of moral self-satisfaction: “I don't fault Truman for dropping the bomb”; “I never saw Kennedy more shocked” (after the murder of Ngo Dinh Diem); “never would I have authorized an illegal action” (after the Tonkin Gulf fakery); “I'm very proud of my accomplishments and I'm very sorry I made errors” (his life).
Slabs of instructive history, like “the missile gap,” were entirely missing from Morris's film. In his later years he offered homilies about the menace of nuclear Armageddon, just like Kennan. It was cost-free for both men to say to say such things, grazing peacefully on the tranquil mountain pastures of their senior years. Why did they not encourage weapons designers in Los Alamos to mutiny, to resign? Or say that the atom spies in Los Alamos in the 1940s were right to try to level nuclear terror to some sort of balance? Why did they not extol the Berrigans and their comrades who served or are serving decades in prison for physically attacking nuclear missiles, beating the decks of the Sea Wolf nuclear submarine with their hammers?
It’s true that when he was head of the Ford Division of the Ford Motor Company in the mid-1950s, McNamara did push for safety options — seat belts and padded instrument panels. Ford dealer brochures for the '56 models featured photos of how Ford and GM models fared in actual crashes, to GM's disadvantage. But as Ralph Nader describes it, in December 1955, a top GM executive called Ford's vice president for sales and said Ford's safety campaign had to stop. These Ford executives, many of them formerly from GM, had a saying, Chevy could drop its price $25 to bankrupt Chrysler, $50 to bankrupt Ford. Ford ran up the white flag. The safety sales campaign stopped. McNamara took a long vacation in Florida, his career in Detroit in the balance, and came back a team player. Safety went through the windscreen and lay in a coma for years.
McNamara had very dirty hands, however hard he and admirers like Morris scrubbed them. Why did Defense Secretary McNamara overrule all expert review and procurement recommendations and insist that General Dynamics rather than Boeing make the disastrous F-111, at that time one of the largest procurement contracts in the Pentagon's history? Could it be that Henry Crown of Chicago was calling in some chits for his role in fixing the 1960 JFK vote in Cook County, Illinois? Crown, of Chicago Sand and Gravel, had $300 million of the mob's money in GD debentures, and after the disaster of the Convair, GD needed the F-111 to avoid going belly-up, taking the mob's $300 million with it. McNamara misled Congressional investigators about this for years afterward.
To interviewers McNamara paid great stress on JFK's “shock,” just a few weeks before he himself was killed, at the assassination of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother. He also promoted the view that Kennedy was planning to withdraw from Vietnam. He oversaw the fakery of the Gulf of Tonkin “attack” that prompted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, whereby Congress gave LBJ legal authority to prosecute and escalate the war in Vietnam. He was a career “front man” for the Kennedys, called even to Chappaquiddick to help Ted Kennedy figure out what to say about it.
The Six Day War? Just before this '67 war the Israelis were ready to attack and knew they were going to win but couldn't get a clear go-ahead from the Johnson Administration. As the BBC documentary “The 50 Years War” narrates, Meir Amit, head of Israel's Mossad, flew to Washington. The crucial OK came from McNamara, thus launching Israel's long-planned, aggressive war on Egypt, Jordan and Syria, which led to present disasters. It was McNamara, after Israel's deliberate attack on the US ship Liberty during that war (with 34 US sailors dead and 174 wounded), who supervised the cover-up.
McNamara had a 13-year stint running the World Bank, whither he was dispatched by LBJ, Medal of Freedom in hand. McNamara liked to brandish his Bank years as his moral redemption and all too often his claim is accepted by those who have no knowledge of the actual, ghastly record. In fact, the McNamara of the World Bank evolved naturally, organically, from the McNamara of Vietnam. The one was prolegomenon to the other, the McNamara-sponsored horrors in Vietnam perhaps on a narrower and more vivid scale, but ultimately lesser in dimension and consequence. No worthwhile portrayal of McNamara could possibly avoid McNamara's performance at the World Bank because there, within the overall constraints of the capitalist system he served, he was his own man. There was no LeMay, no LBJ issuing orders. And as his own man, McNamara amplified the ghastly blunders, corruptions and lethal cruelties of American power as inflicted upon Vietnam to a planetary scale. The best terse account of the McNamara years is in Bruce Rich's excellent history of the Bank, “Mortgaging the Earth,” published in 1994.
When McNamara took over the Bank, “development” loans (which were already outstripped by repayments) stood at $953 million and when he left, at $12.4 billion, which, discounting inflation, amounted to slightly more than a 6-fold increase. Just as he multiplied the troops in Vietnam, he ballooned the Bank's staff from 1,574 to 5,201. The Bank's shadow lengthened steadily over the Third World. Forests, in the Amazon, in Cameroon, in Malaysia, in Thailand, fell under the axe of “modernization.” Peasants were forced from their lands. Dictators like Pinochet and Ceausescu were nourished with loans.
From Vietnam to the planet: The language of American idealism and high purpose was just the same. McNamara blared his mission of high purpose in 1973 in Nairobi, initiating the World Bank's crusade on poverty. “The powerful have a moral obligation to assist the poor and the weak.” The result was disaster, draped, as in Vietnam with obsessive secrecy, empty claims of success and mostly successful efforts to extinguish internal dissent. And as with Vietnam, McNamara's obsession with statistics produced a situation (according to S. Shaheed Husain, then the Bank's vice president in charge of Operations) where, “without knowing it, McNamara manufactured data. If there was a gap in the numbers, he would ask staff to fill it, and others made it up for him.”
At McNamara's direction the Bank would prepare five year “master country lending plans,” set forth in “country programming papers.” “In some cases,” Rich writes, “even ministers of a nation's cabinet could not obtain access to these documents, which in smaller, poor countries, were viewed as international decrees on their economic fate.”
These same “decrees” were drawn up by technocrats (in Vietnam they were the “advisers”) often on the basis of a few short weeks in the target country. Corruption seethed. Most aid vanished into the hands of local elites who very often used the money to steal the resources — pasture, forest, water, of the very poor whom the Bank was professedly seeking to help. In Vietnam, Agent Orange and napalm.
Across the third world, the Bank underwrote “Green Revolution” technologies that the poorest peasants couldn't afford and that drenched land in pesticides and fertilizer. Vast infrastructural projects such as dams and kindred irrigation projects once again drove the poor from their lands, from Brazil to India. It was the malign parable of “modernization” written across the face of the third world, with one catatrophe after another, catastrophes prompted by the destruction of traditional subsistence rural economies.
The appropriation of smaller farms and common areas, Rich aptly comments, “resembled in some respects the enclosure of open lands in Britain prior to the Industrial Revolution — only this time on a global scale, intensified by Green Revolution agricultural technology.” As an agent of methodical planetary destruction, McNamara should be ranked in the top tier of earth-wreckers of all time.
"Management,” McNamara declared in 1967 “is the gate through which social and economic and political change, indeed change in every direction, is diffused through society.” The managerial ideal for McNamara was managerial dictatorship. World Bank loans surged to Pinochet's Chile after Allende's overthrow, to Uruguay, to Argentina, to Brazil after the military coup, to the Philippines, to Suharto after the '65 coup in Indonesia.
And to the Romania of Ceausescu. McNamara poured money — $2.36 billion between 1974 and 1982 — into the tyrant's hands. In 1980 Romania was the Bank's eighth biggest borrower. As McNamara crowed delightedly about his “faith in the financial morality of socialist countries” Ceausescu razed whole villages, turned hundreds of square miles of prime farm land into open-pit mines, polluted the air with coal and lignite, turned Romania into one vast prison, applauded by the Bank in an amazing 1979 economic study as being a fine advertisement for the “Importance of Centralized Economic Control.” Another section of that same 1979 report, titled “Development of Human Resources,” featured these chilling words: “To improve the standards of living of the population as a beneficiary of the development process, the government has pursued policies to make better use of the population as a factor of production… An essential feature of the overall manpower policy has been … to stimulate an increase in birth rates.” Ceausescu forbade abortions, and cut off disrtribution of contraceptives. Result: tens of thousands of abandoned children, dumped in orphanages, another sacrificial hecatomb in McNamara's lethal hubris.
In his later years, McNamara never offered any reflection on the social system that produced and promoted him, a perfectly nice, well-spoken war criminal. As his inflation of his role in the fire-bombing of Japan showed, he could go so far as to falsely though complacently indict himself, while still shirking bigger, more terrifying and certainly more useful reflections on the system that blessed him and mercilessly killed millions upon millions under FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon.
Like Speer, he got away with it, never having to hang his head or drop through a trap door with a rope around his neck, as he so richly deserved.
COULD MENDO GET MORE HOUSING THIS WAY?
Vancouver, BC, crackdown on empty homes carries $7,450 daily fine for cheating. The city announced the details of a new tax aimed at prodding absentee landlords into making their properties available for lease.
HEART DIDN'T MAKE IT OUT OF THE CITY
I attended the Tony Bennett show at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts on Tuesday and was thoroughly disappointed — too much time wasted in repeatedly introducing his band members, not one Christmas song, overly priced tickets (for what we got) and, for conclusion, he didn’t even sing his signature song, “I Left my Heart in San Francisco,” while performing here in the Bay Area.
It may be time for him to put the microphone down and just continue his passion for painting.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Do you remember that scene in the Godfather where Santino asked Michael if he went to college to get stupid? The more distance I put between me and my university years, the more I think the script-writer was onto something.
Seems that in many fields of study the straight-forward and common-place gets over-laid with incomprehensible and meaningless jargon and gets twisted into mazes and warrens of nonsense. Kids go in with the ability to think in rational and reasonable ways and get it beaten out of them.
A quarter million bucks of “education” and the Intellectual-Yet-Idiot is the result. Too bad really because it has real-life consequences and not just for the mis-educated. It’s been said many times, that there’s no idea so full of shit that an intellectual can’t be convinced of its truth.
I think that if we want to make a start, it would be to concentrate on K-12, making sure that kids come out literate and numerate and with knowledge of geography and history and science. You can pack a lot into thirteen years. And do what we used to do, industrial arts and home ec. Remember those? Not everyone is cut out to be an app developer.
As for those mind-destroying bastions of idiocy and un-reason, tear down the ivy-covered buildings and toss them brick-by-brick into the nearest lake.
In too many instances that college degree that people wave around confers no special knowledge or ability, it’s a signifier of social class, nothing more.
HUFF GETS TUFF
“Impeachment is an extraordinary measure, but it should be clear to anyone who examines the facts that President Trump’s actions justify his impeachment, including his efforts to obstruct justice, his self-enrichment and serial violations of the Emoluments Clause, and his involvement in a cover-up stemming from his campaign’s very likely collusion with Russian interests to undermine the 2016 presidential election.
The magnitude and breadth of President Trump’s actions to undermine his office and the public trust – those that have been illegal, corrupt, or have caused deep damage to our country — is stunning and most of the facts are indisputable.
For these reasons, I’ve stated for months that I believe President Trump should be, and eventually will be, impeached. And for the same reasons, if I am presented with a vote on this subject, I’ll vote my conscience and support impeachment.
It is vital, however, that we distinguish impeachable offenses from offensive behavior, divisive political instincts, ineptitude, and poor judgment. These are all frustrating but in my view do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. I understand why many of my Democratic colleagues, including many who believe President Trump should ultimately be impeached, voted no on today’s resolution.
We are a long way from having the votes in Congress to impeach, a vote that must happen on a bipartisan basis. We need to work in a bipartisan way to bring accountability and transparency to a White House that is doing great damage, including through ongoing Congressional oversight, a new independent commission on Russian election interference, and the ongoing work of Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller.”
GARRISON KEILLOR’S RECENT OUSTER from Minnesota Public Radio was the result of “multiple allegations” of misconduct over an extended period of time, the president of MPR’s parent company told employees Wednesday. Jon McTaggart, chief executive of American Public Media Group, told employees he was the only member of the company’s staff who was aware of the allegations against the smarmy Keillor and that only lawyers and a committee of APMG board members have been made aware of the specifics. McTaggart said he alone made the decision to cut ties with Keillor, the longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion. The company cited “allegations of inappropriate behavior” when it announced last week it was terminating all contracts with Keillor, who had retired from A Prairie Home Companion last year but was still producing The Writer’s Almanac. Keillor downplayed the allegations amid the scandal, saying he was fired for the single trespass of putting his hand on a woman’s bare back in an attempt to "console" her.
(The Daily Beast)
HOW BIG IS THE FAR RIGHT?
First, the American appetite for right-wing extremism has always been relatively small. Citing survey data gathered in 2013 by the highly respected Pew Research Center, Devin Burghart reports that only 0.14 percent of Americans (i.e., 14 for every 1000 citizens) admitted to being dues-paying members of the tea party, the most newsworthy radical-right grouping of our era. He estimates the number of “sympathizers” varies anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of the public depending on the crisis of the moment, and that active supporters (as indicated by Facebook “likes”) compose just 2 percent.
Continuing a pattern that goes back at least six decades, the large majority of tea-partiers are white males from the sparsely populated states of Alaska (No. 1 in terms of per-capita membership), Montana (No. 2), Wyoming (No. 3), and Idaho (No. 4). This comports exactly with data gathered in the 1980s on the per-capita number of right-wing extremist headquarters by state.
Second, whatever its reputed size, American right-wing extremism is a cyclical phenomenon. In other words, while there has never been a time without government-bashing bigots and racists, there are definite moments when this sentiment captures the popular imagination. But just as quickly, it dissipates like morning fog. Without being overly mechanical about it, these upsurges seem to occur about once every 30 years or so…
STARS & STRIPES
Dear AVA Editor,
Hello. My name is Ben Keator, aka Benny. I truly enjoy reading your newspaper. I'm currently locked up in Lake County Jail awaiting sentencing on January 2, 2018 to be sent to San Quentin for reception. I have spent the last seven months in Mendocino County Jail where I enjoyed your newspaper weekly. I currently have no money on my books. I would be grateful if you could send me copies of the AVA. I can keep up with local news that way.
Also since I'm not allowed to correspond between jails I would love to give my big brothers some much love during these lonely holidays. I keep all of you in my prayers and daily thoughts: Trevor Jackson, Love you Big Bro, Gabe Shotamicker [sp?-illegible], Jesse "One Eye" Wolf. Come on. Big Troy "Too Hung" Woods. (LOL). Adam, aka “Donk” Kessler. And my big twin brother Austin Dalbalcon. Man, I love you guys and wish we could all be free for the holidays. Just remember like we all know uncle Dave Lowe would say, Keep smiling. Billy The Kid, love your life big brother. And to everyone else spending the holidays away from their loved ones. Wolf, I would love to see some pictures of Lil Frankie. Please try to figure out how to get me some. I would like to end with thanking the AVA for such a wonderful paper. Send me the weekly AVA. God Bless, keep smiling and Come on.
PAIN MEDS, NOT PSYCH MEDS
I hope all is well and AVA-land area and I would like to do three things at this time. First, thank you for keeping this broke ass old Irish guy from Southern Boston (Southie) on your newspaper’s mailing list for free.
Second, the CDC gives out psychotropic medications instead of pain medication. I kid you not. I know because they're trying it with me as well as many others.
I have chronic nerve root irritation as well as degenerative disc disease and lumbar arthritis. Also two bulging discs. So instead of giving me the right medication after taking me off the right medications they tried to give me Elevil, an an old psychiatric medication that is on a par with Thorazine or Zimbalta or Celebrex, which are for depression.
The only thing I'm depressed about is that I can't get the right damn pain meds, i.e., Lyrica or Gabapintin, the latter I had been on since 2007 even on the street.
I can't say I understand this system, but I thought pain meds were for pain and psychiatric meds were for — well you get it.
WHY DID WE START FARMING?
by Steven Mithin
When our ancestors began to control fire, most likely somewhere in Africa around 400,000 years ago, the planet was set on a new course. We have little idea and even less evidence of how early humans made fire; perhaps they carried around smouldering bundles of leaves from forest fires, or captured the sparks thrown off when chipping stone or rubbing sticks together. However it happened, the human control of fire made an indelible mark on the earth’s ecosystems, and marked the beginning of the Anthropocene – the epoch in which humans have had a significant impact on the planet.
In Against the Grain James Scott describes these early stages as a ‘“thin” Anthropocene’, but ever since, the Anthropocene has been getting thicker. New layers of human impact were added by the adoption of farming about ten thousand years ago, the invention of the steam engine around 1780, and the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945. Today the Anthropocene is so dense that we have virtually lost sight of anything that could be called ‘the natural world’.
Fire changed humans as well as the world. Eating cooked food transformed our bodies; we developed a much shorter digestive tract, meaning that more metabolic energy was available to grow our brains. At the same time, Homo sapiens became domesticated by its dependence on fire for warmth, protection and fuel. If this was the start of human progress towards ‘civilisation’, then – according to the conventional narrative – the next step was the invention of agriculture around ten thousand years ago. Farming, it is said, saved us from a dreary nomadic Stone Age hunter-gatherer existence by allowing us to settle down, build towns and develop the city-states that were the centres of early civilisations. People flocked to them for the security, leisure and economic opportunities gained from living within thick city walls. The story continues with the collapse of the city-states and barbarian insurgency, plunging civilised worlds – ancient Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica – into their dark ages. Thus civilisations rise and fall. Or so we are told.
THE REPUBLICANS DEVIOUS TAX ATTACK ON THE PEOPLE
by Ralph Nader
Have the Republican greed-hound toadies gone too far? How much are the American people going to take before they replace the reckless Republicans in the next election? Low and middle-income Americans are bracing for the likely passage of a Trump-supported tax bill that deviously redistributes even more of the people’s income to the richest one percent (including a big tax cut for Trump) and the unpatriotic giant corporations.
Greased through Congress with the support of Republican mega-donors, over the inept opposition of the Democrats who astonishingly offered no tax plan of their own, this tax legislation does exactly the opposite of what House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their prevaricator-in-chief, Donald Trump, are declaring.
Namely, this utterly complex brew of greed and handouts for the super-rich gives a gut punch to the masses, including people making below $30,000. Far from a tax cut the Republicans are trying to Peddle to the people, the Senate bill is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over ten years to pay for the huge tax cuts enriching the corporate plutocrats who are laughing all the way to the bank. Such unsustainable losses in revenue sets the stage for cutting Medicare, Medicaid and other critical services to vulnerable Americans, with Republicans using the ballooning deficit they created as their excuse.
Slashing and burning in every direction, this legislation endangers the financial security of regular Americans of every age, every occupation and, by ending many deductions for local sales and income taxes, hurting state and local budgets.
Ryan and McConnell undermined the integrity of the legislative process by banning public hearings on this tax legislation in the House and Senate. In doing so, they denied the American people, including honest tax experts, the opportunity to adequately examine these dangerous proposals, especially the huge giveaways to multinational corporations at the expense of working class families. No Congress has ever gone this far. If this shameless lack of transparency proves successful, Congressional Republicans will succeed in driving Capitol Hill further under the dictatorship of the oligarchs, using the people’s delegated power against them.
To make matters worse, Senate Republicans prevented their Democratic colleagues from even seeing clean portions of the bill until just before the final vote at 1:25 am on Saturday, December 2. When faced with such hyper-partisan foul play, the Democrats should have shut the Senate down with a sit-in until they were given a reasonable amount of time to read this raid on the regular taxpayers, before the final vote.
Here are some malicious items from the House and Senate bills:
- The Senate bill widens the double standard of favoring corporations over individuals, with a top corporate tax rate of 20% compared to a highest tax rate of 38% for individuals. Such blatant corporate favoritism shows which “people” the Republican Congress truly represents. Chalk one up for corporate supremacy for further inequality.
- The House bill retains business entertainment deductions for hard liquor but takes away deductions from teachers who use their own money to buy needed classroom materials for their students, along with taxing fellowships for graduate students.
- The Senate bill repeals the individual mandate for buying health insurance, setting the stage for higher health insurance premiums and 13 million more people going without health insurance over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
- The House bill repeals the medical expense deduction used by millions of ailing citizens. The Senate bill does not.
- The House phases out the estate tax, while the Senate bill exempts more rich people from that tax, which only applied to less than 5000 estates a year, according to the Tax Policy Center. These measures were vigorously opposed by 400 very rich Americans, in a public letter to Congress and by another responsible organization called Patriotic Millionaires.
- There is a new tax on university and college endowments and tax breaks for parents to send their elementary students to private schools. And this massive piece of legislation is full of escape hatches, such as credits, for preferred vested interests in commercial arenas. Cash register politics.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that beginning in 2021 taxpayers with incomes of only $10,000 to $30,000 will be worse off, paying nearly $6 billion more in taxes. The Committee also concluded that by 2027, taxes will go up for taxpayers with income below $75,000 by over $27 billion.
Increase a standard deduction here, get rid of an exemption there, cause the increase in deductibles for health insurance policies here, but decrease deductibles used by consumers there – this cruel deception produces a mind shattering complexity and bonanza for accountants and lawyers.
The last minute gifts to monied interests emerged as usual from the darkness at the last minute – what the New York Times called “Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry” plus tax breaks for offshore profits by the likes of Pfizer, Google and Apple, lower taxes for the top one percent, benefits for car dealers and other goodies for people dealing with speculative security derivatives on Wall Street.
The Republican leadership justifies everything they are doing to the powerless people back home by claiming the tax bill will increase wages, investment and economic growth. This trickery could spark the voters to say “enough” and send the Republican scoundrels packing.
Dozens of impartial experts laugh at the fanciful Republican predictions about the “benefits” of the tax bill, citing historical evidence, and the existing economic growth, enabled by low inflation and low interest rates.
Nothing was more embarrassing for Donald Trump and the Republicans than when Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, asked a business audience how many of them would increase jobs and wages due to what he called this “tax reform.” Almost nobody raised a hand.
The corporate bosses in the audience knew what the Republicans don’t want us to know. These big companies are already neck-deep in massive uninvested capital, so they’re wasting trillions of dollars on stock buybacks which don’t produced any jobs. They don’t need more tax breaks for any more capital.
It is time for a voter’s revolt!
Tell your members of Congress there is still time to reject the Republican attack on the working class. A shift of just two more votes in the senate (e.g. Senators McCain, Collins and Flake) will defeat the existing legislation.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
BLOOM BLAST & C AT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
RE: JERRY ARAGON WHO DIED IN THE POTTER VALLEY RV FIRE LAST WEEK.
Jerry ‘The King’ Aragon
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – On Nov. 27, 2017, we lost a loving Father and Grandfather. He was a well known custom painter and Lake County resident for over 25 years. Jerry is survived by his children, Jeris and Katie, and four grandchildren. Memorial service will be held at Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary in Lakeport on Friday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. Arrangements by Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary, 707-263-0357 or 707-994-5611, or visit http://www.chapelofthelakes.com.
FREE BUS FARE FOR MENDO COLLEGE STUDENTS
MTA Extends Free Bus Ride Program for Spring Semester Mendocino College Students
The GI Bill and free transportation on Mendocino Transit Authority (MTA) buses enable Justin Todd, of Willits, to attend Mendocino College. He’s enrolled full-time as a second semester math major after spending nine years in the Army.
The GI Bill pays his tuition at the college as part of a monthly educational benefit earned by members of the active duty armed forces. He has a car but prefers to take the MTA bus to school.
“I want to study and be at school, but I couldn’t do it without the student bus benefit,” said the father of two young children. “If I had to drive, it would really affect me financially.” He rides the 9:30 a.m. Route 20 bus from Willits to Mendocino College and usually takes the 5:50 p.m. bus back home.
Enrolled students at Mendocino College are eligible for a sticker on their student ID that allows them free passage on any MTA bus throughout Mendocino County, and to the college’s campuses in Fort Bragg and Willits.
The program is available to spring semester 2018 students. Once enrolled, they can ask for a sticker at the front desk of the college library to affix to the back of their student ID.
“MTA is dedicated to serving our communities in Mendocino County, and when we learned that funding was available to help us provide free transportation to students, we immediately applied,” said MTA General Manager Carla Meyer. “College education is an important factor in lifetime success, and this program helps make college more affordable. As funding allows, we will continue to partner with Mendocino College and offer free transportation for their students.”
MTA received $41,878 for the college free ridership program in 2016/17 as one of 125 transit projects totaling $34.5 million that were funded through California’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP). LCTOP is one of several state programs that awards auction proceeds from California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, and it focuses upon transit projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout California.
In its request for funding, MTA proposed to reduce emissions by attracting more students to ride the bus rather than drive to campus. In the 13 months since its inception in fall semester 2016, MTA buses gave 31,268 free rides to college students, saved 10,539 vehicle miles traveled and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.5 metric tons of particulates, as calculated using California Air Resources Board methodology. With money from an additional 2015/16 LCTOP grant, MTA has provided a total $73,000 in transportation support for the county’s college students.
“Free bus fare provides an important benefit to Mendocino College students and we applaud Mendocino Transit Authority for spearheading this program,” said J. Arturo Reyes, Mendocino College president. “There are other benefits too, including reduced auto emissions on campus and reduced demand for parking. Perhaps even more importantly, this partnership is changing the lives of our students. We hear stories daily from students who are eternally grateful to MTA for providing them the opportunity to attend Mendocino College!”
Mendocino Transit Authority provides safe, low-cost and convenient public bus service throughout Mendocino County. For more information, visit mendocinotransit.org.
Once enrolled for a semester of classes, Mendocino College students can get a sticker allowing them free rides on all MTA buses. Stickers are at the college library front desk.