Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan. 12, 2018

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DEBRIS REMOVAL of the remains of last fall’s devastating fires has been suspended in Sonoma, Lake, Napa and Mendocino counties after a formal contract award protest was filed earlier this week. The Army Corps of Engineers had awarded a $160 million contract for the second big phase of debris removal work for Mendocino, Napa and Lake counties to a Minnesota-based construction company named “Ceres Environmental Services.” (Sonoma County had a separate $475 million contract with a Burglingame outfit called “ECC.”) Both awards were challeged by a Florida company named “AshBritt Inc.” (which is owned by an attorney) which had had one of the contracts for the first phase of debris removal. According to the Press Democrat reporting primarily on work in Sonoma County, the dispute has put over 150 trained operating engineers on hold who are “extremely frustrated,” after being laid off while the contract dispute is attended to. Making matters worse, the work is reportedly on hold in the middle of the rainy season, threatening various run-off and mudslide scenarios that could turn bad quickly. It also means that homeowners who were expecting to start to rebuild soon may have their plans delayed further while the Army Corps deals with the protest. You’d think that since emergencies have been declared in all the counties affected to the fire disaster that work could proceed under those emergency orders while the protest is processed. Or at least the Corps could require the protesting outfit to convince a judge to issue an injunction before they just up and stopped work. But for now, it’s not clear how long the protest will take to get cleared up. “We realize this mission is critically important,” said Corps spokeswoman Nancy Allen. “We are working with our state and federal partners to do everything we can to resolve this as quickly as possible, and we really want to enable the communities to recover.” Which is cold comfort to the people waiting for debris to be removed. Up to this point, the Army Corps and their contractors had been mostly praised by officials in all four counties, but now the expected February 1 completion date is going to be much harder to meet. (The Feb. 1 target date was set by the Army Corps, not the counties, because the Corps said they had other disasters to assign the contractors to as soon as they were finished in Northern California.)

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KIRK THOMSEN has been unceremoniously put on administrative leave from his job as Interim Ukiah Valley Fire Chief following an abrupt dismissal involving the formal taking of the keys to the firehouse a few days ago. Sources in the local fire service tell us that an investigation is underway into unspecified allegations and for the time being two subordinates, a division chief named Kevin Jennings and a fire inspector in the Ukiah Fire Department have assumed the Chief’s duties pending the outcome of the investigation. Informally, Ukiah area firefighters say that Thomsen has been a pretty good chief and were surprised by the developments. The circumstances of Thomsen’s dismissal by Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo have spurred some speculation in Ukiah area firefighting circles that there may be allegations of sexual harassment, but that is pure speculation at this point. No announcement has been made by City officials and all the officials involved are keeping conspicuously quiet about the sitation, so there’s no timeline and no further information.

THE REORGANIZATION of the newly formed “Ukiah Valley Fire Authority” which merged the Ukiah City Fire Department with the Ukiah Valley Fire District under the authority of the City Manager last year was met with optimism early on when Sangiacomo told Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Justine Frederiksen, “There is significant work we need to do that we cannot lose ground on with the merged operations, and this interim chief [Thomsen] is very capable of being able to provide those services to the city, and has the full faith of the Ukiah Valley Fire District board as well.” Sangiacomo appointed Thomsen, formerly a Division Chief for both the City of Ukiah Fire Department and the UVFA, to serve as interim fire chief after the fire district board recommended him for the position. Why after all these months Thomsen was still considered “interim” was not explained. Thomsen was appointed after former CDF fire captain John Bartlett abruptly resigned at the end of 2016. Bartlett was the originator and driving force behind the consolidation of the City’s fire department with the Ukiah Valley District fire service. Thomsen himself was enthusiastic about the merger and was expected to pick up the ball. At the time of the merger the Ukiah Valley District was facing financial shortfalls that both organizations hoped would be mitigated by the merger and consolidation of some overhead functions. But it has been a work in progress, especially as Sangiacomo’s city staff took over the finances of the newly merged “authority.” If the problem with Thomsen that lead to his being put on admin leave had been an ordinary dispute over policy or expenditures or staffing there probably would be no need for an “investigation.” And it is that unspecified “investigation” status that is fueling speculation among the rather close-knit firefighting “community” in Ukiah.

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WARREN GALLETTI, fog belt Socrates, resigned his no show job as County Superintendent of Schools with a non-explanation because, it seems, he knew that the four-person majority on Point Arena's perennially defective school board wired their top job for him at a little more money than he made as County School chief. A reader put it this way: "Heard it got pretty hot and heavy last night at the Point Arena School Board meeting. Apparently, four board members hired Warren Galetti for superintendent of the PA schools absent of prior notification or due public process. The salary was reported as $145,000/year, with a set $1,200/year raise guaranteed. When asked how the salary got so high, the answer was that this is what you pay for ‘exceptional people.’ I understand the contract for last year's superintendent has not been finalized."

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CORRECTION, JOHNNY SCHMITT has written us to say much as he'd liked to have bought the property next door, it has in fact been purchased by a couple associated with the Hotel by the name of Casey "who bought it to protect affordable housing in the valley and hope to expand it from the current two residences into more if the county finally allows some creative density here in town. The two houses are currently rented out to Lucia Flores, our housekeeper and another local family, who will remain as long as they would like at their fair rents. There is no plan or discussion for an expansion of the hotel at this point, other than the two story unit (2 rooms) we are currently trying to obtain a permit to build on the hotel property, right between the laundry room and the studio/bungalow structure. That is a whole other boondoggle, having spent over $20k on paper already trying to get a permit and the end is nowhere in sight. We are VERY concerned about affordable housing in the valley and luckily so are our investors; we would be remiss to take any more rentals off the market to expand the hotel."

I'LL TAKE this opportunity to also be annoyed with the County's inflexibility re the Boonville Hotel. Everything the Schmitts have done there has been a major plus for central Boonville. They are more than entitled to an automatic check-off.

ONE MAJOR PROBLEM with the County, or any other public bureaucracy, especially the local ones, you're always dealing with, uh, the unimaginative. Aesthetic arguments are in vain. Any plan that departs from a three bedroom, two bath reinforced bunker causes furrowed brows at P&B. Planning and Building would reject the Acropolis. Sorry, no handrails. The Grand Mosque of Istanbul? Oh no. Not enough setback. The Lincoln Memorial? Too tall. Look at State Street, Ukiah. All up to code. Ditto for West Perkins. Civic planning seems to have peaked with Napoleon.

IT TOOK US repeated trips to Ukiah to get our place set up, and we're talking simplicity itself. A glance at our plan should have gotten us an immediate green light, and then a final sign-off when we were finished. Noooooo. Because of contradictory directions from B&P we were forced to spend a lot of money we didn't have. Then we have the weekly fiscal insult presented by the Supes themselves. If they aren't busy feathering their own nests, and the nests of their top bureaucrats, they're squandering thousands of public dollars on stuff they shouldn't.

CASE IN RECENT POINT: (AVA, Sep. 20, 2017)

BOONDOGGLE ALERT! That’s what we posted last night after reading Agenda Item 4w on Tuesday’s Supe’s agenda:

“Approval of Agreement with Mendocino County Office of Education in the Amount of $175,000 to Provide CalFresh Outreach Services to School Children in Mendocino County for Fiscal Year 2017-18 …”

On Tuesday the boondoggle was unanimously approved.

IF THE SUPERVISORS, none of whom are known to be profligate with their own funds but indeed jealously guard their lush pay and perks down to the penny, were asked to pay $175,000 of their own money for the simple task of placing telephone calls to the admin offices of Mendo school districts for the purposes of getting eligible people to sign up for Cal Fresh, would they spend $175,000 of their own money to do it?

NO, they wouldn’t. But today, they agreed with Welfare chief-tess, Anne Molgaard, that if Mendo didn’t spend the money some other county would, so by all means let’s route it through the County Office of Education to do what our schools already do as a matter of routine.

TO BE CLEARER than clear, the Supes are squandering $175,000 to duplicate what’s already being done by the individual school districts of Mendocino County via the sign-up forms in the packets sent home with all children at the beginning of the school year.

EVEN IF MOLGAARD’S hard-hitting team at Health and Human Services, formerly the Welfare Office, had to place the phone calls themselves to make sure that Mendo families were aware they could get food help, it’s a task that could be done in a couple of hours. Instead, the Supes and Molgaard are routing the $175,000 through MCOE, itself a redundant agency that does not perform a single task that the individual school districts of Mendocino County could not do better and cheaper.

THE LITTLE SCAM that played out to today with the Supervisors can serve as metaphor for government at all levels.

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THE MAN KILLED when his pickup truck landed in a creek off Highway 101 in northern Mendocino County last week has been identified as a resident of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

According to the California Highway Patrol, William Gilbert of Woonsocket was found dead in his 1997 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup that landed on its roof near Laytonville.

CHP investigators determined that Gilbert, driving alone, was headed north on Highway 101 near Black Oak Ranch when he allowed the truck to drift off the right shoulder, lost control of the vehicle when he steered abruptly to the left.

Gilbert's truck then crossed the highway and rolled down the embankment before landing on its roof in a creek. He sustained fatal injuries.

The cause of the collision, and whether alcohol or drugs were involved, is still under investigation.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I'm pretty sure Skrag is a drug addict. For a young cat he's suspiciously lethargic, like he's on some kinda downers. I'm gonna rat him out. They told me a long time ago to keep this place a drug-free zone, and I'm gonna do my job!”

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AT LAST. The northern California Dungeness crab fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties will open 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The opener will be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. Jan. 12, 2018. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham had delayed the season a total of three times after crab quality test results in November and December indicated that crab were not ready for harvesting. Jan. 15 is the latest the Director can delay the season due to quality testing.

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The amount of trash along our roads and highways disgusts me. We have so many serious problems without easy solutions. However, the solution to trash is literally in our hands.

I don’t know why so many people think it’s fine to throw their trash down on paths and roads. We shouldn’t have to pay city/county/state employees to pick up that trash. I traveled the roads of Michigan this past year and was amazed at how trash-free the roads were.

Are their people cleaner than Californians, or do they spend money to clean up trash deposited by their citizens? Maybe we need another “do not litter” campaign starting in the grade schools so that kids are raised to respect their environment.

Ann Possinger

Santa Rosa

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Americans are warned not to travel to five Mexican states which are as dangerous as Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea, according to the State Department.

Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas states have been placed under a level 4 warning by the State Department, the same level shared by war-torn Syria and Afghanistan.

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Oakland. Thursday, January 11, 2018 — A federal grand jury indicted Adam Thatcher Lawrence today with importing wildlife contrary to law and mislabeling wildlife intended for importation, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Region 8 Assistant Special Agent in Charge Daniel Crum.

According to the indictment, Lawrence, 38, of Willits, Calif., traveled to the Republic of South Africa in August 2011, where he hunted and killed a leopard. Leopards are a protected species under both the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to which the United States, South Africa, and Mozambique are signatories.

The indictment alleges Lawrence did not have the required permits to kill the leopard in South Africa, or to bring the leopard back into the United States. Lawrence allegedly secretly transported the leopard’s skin and skull into the Republic of Mozambique in May 2012 and thereafter falsely claimed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that he had hunted and killed the leopard in Mozambique in 2012. Lawrence then allegedly applied for permit paperwork from Mozambique, South Africa, and the United States in order to import the leopard skin and skull into the United States; each document falsely stated that the leopard was killed in Mozambique. The indictment alleges that in April 2013, Lawrence imported the leopard parts into the United States based on his false statements. In sum, Lawrence was charged with one count of importing wildlife contrary to law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545 and 18 U.S.C. § 2(b), and one count of mislabeling wildlife intended for importation, in violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d) and 18 U.S.C. § 2(b).

Lawrence is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Oakland on January 18, 2018.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Lawrence faces a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545 and a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for a violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d). However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lloyd-Lovett is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Quant. The prosecution is the result of a three-year investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

(Press Release, Department of Justice; U.S. Attorney’s Office; Northern District of California)

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That last AVA was another great one! Keep it up guys!

Ishvi Aum's (what a name! Spell check didn't like it one bit!) letter to the editor, I whole heartedly support, every word of it. And bravo to Sherri Glaser for making the time and effort to speak in front of the BOS.

The final greatness belongs to Mr. Scaramella's recounting of an actual verbal exchange between the people who are supposedly in charge. You should consider printing it again, for all the readers who skipped it.

While advocating for the animals at the Ukiah shelter I was witness to too many of these nonsensical exchanges.

BTW, I have not stopped advocating for our homeless pets, I'm just doing my work away from the headlines, trying to save one life at a time.

Monika Fuchs



IN TYPICAL STUMBLING fashion, our overpaid Supervisors and their overpaid administrators were unable to word their new salary ordinance without again larding the discussion with what bold decision-makers they are and how raising salaries attracts Mendo's best and brightest.

AFTER CONFIRMING that the ordinance would connect future Supervisors pay raises to both elected and appointed Department heads with Human Resources Department Head Heidi Dunham:

Supervisor John McCowen: I think that the phrase, and I'm looking at the actual ordinance section 30471b, the phrase, In the salary provisions agreed upon, is pretty vague in my mind so I have some alternate language if the board is willing to consider it.

Board Chair Dan Hamburg: And again, this is under b? Were you saying? I'm sorry.

McCowen: Section b of Section 30471b.

Hamburg: (Reading) The Board of Supervisors compensation shall be [unintelligible, mumbling], as provided for [mumbling]…

Board Clerk: Would you speak louder please?

Hamburg: I'm just looking at section 30407b which was referred to by Supervisor McCowen which reads, The Board of Supervisors compensation for services shall be increased or decreased as provided for in a salary provision agreed upon in any future department heads association memorandum of of understanding. Supervisor McCowen, if you could, would you suggest the wording change that you prefer?

McCowen: Yes. And I would strike out the phrase, In the salary provisions agreed upon, and for discussion I would suggest inserting after Compensation for services shall be increased or decreased, and then I would suggest new language, Commensurate with the applicable terms and conditions as provided for, because it's more than just the base salary statement, I believe.

Hamburg: And I just want to ask Director Dunham, can you copy that? I mean, did you get that?

Dunham: I did not prepare the ordinance.

Hamburg. Okay.

Dunham: County Counsel…

Hamburg: County Counsel, I'm sorry. County Counsel?

County Counsel Kit Elliott: So if you could just repeat where it says, In the salary provision, so we are taking out, In the salary provision?

Hamburg: We're not taking out, we are just suggesting.

McCowen: Just a suggestion. And then the new language, if we, after we say, compensation for service shall be increased or decreased, the suggestion is, commensurate with the applicable terms and conditions as provided for in any future department heads association memorandum of understanding. And I would also strike the apostrophe because I don't think that's part of the title of the MOU.

Elliott: So yes, I've got that.

McCowen: So between the —

Hamburg: Yes, go ahead, repeat it back. If you would. How would 30471 now read in its entirety?

Elliott: So — I'm looking at section b. The Board of Supervisors, without the apostrophe, compensation for services shall be increased or decreased, um, as provided for —

McCowen: No.

Elliott: Sorry.

McCowen: Commensurate with the applicable terms and conditions…

Elliott: Sorry. Commensurate with the applicable terms and conditions as provided for in the salary provisions agreed on — No? I'm sorry. I can't do changes on this machine. So if you want to read it back.

CEO Carmel Angelo: Yeah, I think I can do it, I can take a stab at this. I have paper in front of me which our chief counsel does not, so that's a little bit of a difference. The Board of Supervisors compensation for services shall be increased or decreased commensurate with the applicable terms and conditions as provided for in any future department head association memorandum of understanding. Did I capture that?

McCowen: Very well.

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At this moment I am grateful for the AVA. All the years of a great read with a maximum diversity of viewpoint and opinion, even some of mine.

So I'm putting my money where my mouth is and taking out a two year subscription which I should have done long ago. With two old geezers like you at the helm certainty is high that the mighty AVA will still be heaving ho, holding the world accountable perhaps long after I'm gone, although I tend to last so long I may outlast you.

I appreciate your help in transcribing the recent NBC cannabis special Bay Area Revelations. You probably had to hold your nose while doing it. We needed this positive portrayal as the negativity surrounding legalization surrounds us as they are bum rushing us out of town and preventing us from growing on our own property. Total bans on cultivation if you live in one of the three districts affected is extreme. This includes me on the coast. It is a cultural cleansing. Something's got to give. It's 80% of the total county acreage. That's a lot.

So this cannabis special came out of nowhere and set it on track! An independent viewpoint at NBC prevailed. Also the producer and I hit it off and that didn't hurt.

The main thing is a shift in the culture at this fork in the road necessitating an honest assessment of the past if we ever even hope to have a livable future as small growers, aka, the little people.

As a hands-on printed word type of person the transcript means almost as much as the video and could stand alone. In my eyes the AVA has risen a notch.

Keep at it!

Pebbles Trippet


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Boonville Winter Market

The Boonville Winter Market will take place Saturday from 9:30-noon, in front of Seebass, across from the Boonville Hotel.

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From our vendors...

JD Varietals is hoping to be there.

Yorkville Olive Ranch will be at the Saturday market if it is not raining, with 375 ml and 750 ml bottles of 2016 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tuscan Field Blend.

Participate in our Farmers' Market Survey

As many of you know, the fate of our local, certified Boonville Farmers' Market is uncertain. Concerned farmers, vendors and community members have met to discuss the future of the market. At this point it is unclear if the market will continue in its current state at all or if it will be reinvented in some form. We have put together a short survey so that we may have community feedback on these questions. Please take a moment to click on the blue link above, or simply click on the "Survey" button, so that we may have your valuable feedback on our market. Thank you!

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Local Beef for Sale

Grass Fed Murray Grey/Angus cross Beef,

1/4’s For December-January delivery

4 Bar K Ranch in Boonville, CA is offering premium grass fed beef for sale. This is local grass fed beef, raised in rural Anderson Valley, in Mendocino County, with no shots or hormones, just excellent, lean, grass finished beef. We raise our beef free range, organically, in a humane, safe, and stress free way. This insures your beef is the best quality and safest meat, that is raised and sold in the right way.

Please contact me and I will send our information flyer in a PDF format. It should answer most of your questions, but feel free to call me anytime if you're interested.

If interested please contact Dave Kooyers at (707) 895-2325.

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Fringe, Flowers & Goats!

Last year, the Mendocino County Tourism Commission started a new festival call the Almost Fringe Festival. This festival celebrates creativity from artsy to agrarian throughout our county, highlighting visual, performing, spoken word and culinary arts, as well as springtime pastimes such as nature and farm activities. The second Almost Fringe Festival will take place in April 2018. Please click on the button or link below to learn more about the festival and you can become involved.

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Local Food Pledge Brainstorming Brunch

(Letter from Sara & Michael of Green Uprising Farm)

We are writing to share an idea for the new year that has been bouncing around our heads for awhile -- Local Food Pledge 2018-2019. Michael and I would like to organize a local food pledge drive in 2018 that would create a group of 25 to 50 people (or more!) committed to eating only local food from June 2018 to June 2019. And, we would like to help connect the local food pledge group to local farmers, ranchers, and food producers. The goal would be to add new energy and momentum to our local food movement. Here is some of the background thinking.

In the context of the overall population of Mendocino county, 25-50 people may seem like a small number. But, this number of people eating only local food could create many thousands of dollars of demand monthly, a hearty block of buying power flowing directly toward the support of our local farmers and ranchers. Many of the farmers markets are in decline in our county and small farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet. We need to get more serious about supporting and growing our local food economy.

A local food pledge campaign could be really fun! The pledgers will become a support group for each other. We will challenge ourselves to build and hone an essential set of practical skills and knowledge to increase local resilience, to network with local farmers and hopefully to enlarge the land-base of locally grown food. With pledgers and farmers working together (and some of us will be both pledgers and farmers/gardeners) we will need to focus special attention on honing our skills to grow high caloric crops such as potatoes, beans, squash, corn, and other grains. We will need to hone our wildcrafting skills learning to collect, process and cook with acorns, collect other wild plants, roots and mushrooms. We will need to support our local livestock farmers, and build our own skills in raising chickens, ducks, lamb, pigs, cattle and, of course (my favorite) expand the practice of goat dairying on small acreage. The vegetable and fruit side of it may be a little easier, especially during the warmer growing months. We will need to expand and develop our skills processing, preserving, fermenting, canning, drying. Yes, it will be a lot of work. But, many hands make light work….. and more fun.

A local food pledge will build new bridges in the community, helping to connect eaters and growers in the collaborative project of feeding ourselves. It has the potential to open up solutions to some stubborn problems facing the local food movement such as the lack of demand for local food, the higher cost of local food, and the need for a lot more labor power to get all the work done. The local food pledge could create a large block of new demand and bring new attention and awareness to the issues. The possibility of work-trade arrangements could provide labor power to help with the work of growing the food in exchange for reduced prices making the food more affordable.

To discuss these ideas and to hear yours, we would like to invite you to a:

Local Food Pledge 2018-2019 Brainstorming Brunch
Saturday January 13, 2018
11:00am to 1:00pm
Little Lake Grange
291 School Street, Willits

With best wishes for the new year,

Sara & Michael
Green Uprising Farm

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Are Northern California pot farms poisoning threatened owls?

Rat poison is contaminating threatened northern spotted owls in California forests and marijuana farms appear to be to blame, according to a study published Thursday.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 11, 2018

Aguilar, Alvarez, Bodwin


JOHN ALVAREZ JR., Willits. Probation revocation.

IVY BODWIN, Willits. Vandalism, interference with police communications.

Clemons, Cooper, DeWolf, Hawkins

ARTHUR CLEMONS, Mendocino. Probation revocation.

TIMMY COOPER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

HEATHER DEWOLF, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, public nuisance, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

CANDICE HAWKINS, Covelo. Probation revocation.

Hensley, Johnson, Schwindt

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

MATTHEW JOHNSON, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

KIM SCHWINDT, Willits. Domestic battery.

Sevy, Tan, Whitacre

RON SEVY, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.


ANISSA WHITACRE, Santa Rosa. Failure to appear.

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MANDATORY MEANS MANDATORY: An emergency alert was not sent to people in Santa Barbara County—who were under voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders—until destructive flooding had already hit Montecito, California officials say. The cellphone alert was sent to those registered in the area at about 3:50 a.m. Tuesday, but it is not yet clear how many people actually received it. Santa Barbara County Emergency Manager Jeff Gater said the push alert was sent after conditions began to deteriorate. Many warnings had been circulated by the county on social media and on its website and email systems. But by the time the push alert was sent, mud was pouring quickly downhill with boulders and debris, killing people and destroying homes. Officials have said at least 17 people died and more than 100 homes were ruined by the devastation. Several reports note that many of those who knew they were under mandatory evacuation did not heed the warnings. One man told the Los Angeles Times: “I think all of us have learned our lessons on this one. We were all bad children and ignored the warning.” He added, “Mother Nature came back and dealt us a big blow.”

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[1] It just shows you how desperate people are for some kind of sane leadership when everybody seizes on the Oprah speech to make her a candidate for the presidency. Somewhat similar to the way that Obama was thrust into the national spotlight by virtue of a speech. Has it really come down to this? Desperately grasping at straws in an attempt to avoid being sucked down into the whirlpool of dysfunction that is Washington DC? I guess if you are counting on the intelligence of the public to restore sanity, you are in for a big surprise. It’s one thing to read about this kind of shit in the history books, and another thing to be living it as it happens.

[2] Yeah, it has come to this. 
For his vaunted “intelligence”, Obamya didn’t bloody learn. He created yet another failed state in Libya. He didn’t prosecute Wall Street. He appointed Mary Jo to police Wall Street banks. Which is like getting a mafia consigliere to be police commissioner. For anyone not born yesterday, getting Mary Jo pretty much guaranteed that Wall Street would cruise on unmolested. 
And Hillary’s emails. And the Clinton Uranium One deal. 
I could go on but what’s the point. Hope? Nope. Change? Forget it. 
Yes we can? No we can’t.

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MONTHS AGO, we'd discovered a large shed in the back of someone's house, the door chained and padlocked. We were sure it was a cache. But inside, instead of HME or Dragunovs, we found an antique dentist's chair, wood-framed, with velvet upholstery and a porcelain cuspidor. Shelves held pill bottles whose labels were too faded to read, dusty instruments, and several glass jars containing organic specimens of ambiguous provenance suspended in formaldehyde. Arrayed on a workbench were rusty scalpels and forceps, unsheathed hypodermic needles the size of bellows and turkey basters. Old blood on it all.

After facilitating an interrogation of the property owner -- a "doctor," he explained, whose training had consisted of a monthlong veterinary course in Pakistan some decades ago -- I passed by the shed a second time and glimpsed something odd. A soldier, one of ours, was sitting in the chair. I knew him. He was a recovering crank addict from Georgia, or Alabama, or somewhere, and he suffered from such horrific meth-mouth it looked as if he'd downed a shot of nitric acid and chased it with a pint of ink: all that remained were black nubs and splintery fangs clinging like a cancer to his gray, corroded gums. This soldier -- I forget his name -- was famous in the unit. He'd enlisted for the dental plan, so that he could get a set of teeth.

I stood there in the doorway watching him -- he gripped the armrests of the chair, as if braced against the vision of his orthodontic future -- and I was overcome with envy. Here was another one who knew what he was fighting for.

— Luke Mogelson, 2016; from "New Guidance; These Heroic, Happy Dead"

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Notice of Informational Open House
Proposed Project on State Route 1 in Mendocino County
Gualala Downtown Enhancements Project

What Is Being Planned

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is proposing a project on State Route 1 in Mendocino County. The proposed project is the Gualala Downtown Enhancements Project.

The current design of the downtown area of Gualala has several deficiencies that exacerbate conflicts between motorized users, cyclists, and pedestrians. The purpose of the proposed project is to improve traffic flow and create safe and comfortable facilities for pedestrian and bicycle travel in downtown Gualala. The project is intended to improve Gualala’s visual character by incorporating landscape and hardscape features.

An open house and informational meeting is scheduled for the public to learn more about this project.

When And Where

The open house/informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Gualala Community Center, 47950 Center Street, in Gualala.

Why This Notice

The purpose of the open house/informational meeting is to provide information about the project and give the public the opportunity to ask questions and share information about issues, ideas, or concerns.

Contact Information

For more information about this project, please contact Liza Walker, Senior Environmental Planner, at (707) 441-5602 or Frank Demling, Project Manager, at (707) 445-6554.

Special Accommodations

Individuals who require special accommodations (American Sign Language interpreter, real-time captioning, accessible seating, note takers, and documentation in alternative formats) should contact Cori Reed, Public Information Officer, at (707) 441-4678, or TTY 711.

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Here’s how the exchange went:

Men’s Health: We’re asking a lot of men, in light of the #MeToo movement, how men can grow in 2018.

Mayweather: The who?

MH: The #MeToo movement. Women speaking out about sexual assault.

Mayweather: Oh. ‘Coz when you say “me too,” my thing was this, when somebody be like, “I got a Rolls Royce,” I be like “me too.” When somebody say they got a private jet, I say, “Me too. I got two. Me too.”

MH: This is a very different...

Mayweather: Well, I didn’t know! I didn’t know. My “Me Too” movement from the beginning was whenever somebody said what they have I’m like, “me too.” Somebody say they got a billion dollars, I say, “I made a billion dollars, me too.”

MH: I know you have a sensitive side. You’ve talked about your sensitive side before.

Mayweather: Of course. I mean, you live and you learn. I think everyone, if you’re in an uncomfortable position, you have to pray about it, you know, talk about it, and I think that, you know, sexual harassment, I don’t think it’s cool at all.

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Bluesman James Armstrong - Arena Theater - February 3

Bluesman, James Armstrong is playing at Arena Theater in Point Arena on Saturday February 3. James is touring in support of his new CD, Blues Been Good To Me, which came out on October 20 on Catfood Records.

We would appreciate being included in calendar and event listings. James is available for interviews and I can set that up for you, if you want to talk with him.

I have attached a press release for more information on James and his new album and a high res photo. If you would like to hear Blues Been Good To Me, I can provide a download link or mail a CD to you. Show details are listed below.

James Armstrong-Blues Been Good To Me Snippet video:

Watch James and band perform "Blues Been Good To Me" on Don Odells Legends, Oct. 2017:

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Karin Johnson, Mark Pucci Media

Show Details:
James Armstrong
Saturday Feb. 3, 2018, 8pm
Arena Theater
214 Main St, Point Arena, CA 95468

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Join the Mendocino Art Center for our Second Saturday Gallery Reception & Open Art Studios

January 13, Reception: 5pm-8pm; Open Studios: 5pm-9pm

Free admission

The Mendocino Art Center hosts a free Second Saturday Gallery Reception each month. Meet and mingle with the exhibiting artists and enjoy snacks and wine, and visit MAC's Artists in Residence as they open up their studios.

Members' Juried Exhibit

All-Media Artwork

Every January the Members' Juried Exhibit features the finest works created by the Mendocino Art Center's contributing members. A highly competitive juried selection process leads to an exceptionally creative, high quality, and much anticipated gallery showing with a wide spectrum of artwork, including paintings, sculpture, collage, photography, jewelry, mixed media works and more. Artist Craig Gilliland juried the show.

The exhibit continues through February 4, 11am to 4pm daily.  More information at

Open Artist Studios

Artists in Residence

Join us during the gallery reception as we open up the art studios. Meet the 2017/18 Artists in Residence, watch them work and view and buy new works created in the Mendocino Art Center studios. Refreshments will be available. The studios will be open from 5pm to 9pm.

Mendocino Art Center, 45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street, Mendocino, 707.937.5818 x14

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(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

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An Interview with Underground Press Maven John Campbell McMillan

by Jonah Raskin

An associate professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, with degrees from Harvard and Columbia, John Campbell McMillan is the author of the best book about the underground press. Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press) looks at the past though the lens of the present and the present though the lens of the past.

Written with real elegance and a keen appreciation of rebel journalists and reporters, McMillan’s book has appealed to both students and teachers and has elicited praise from Tom Hayden, Susan Brownmiller — the author of a distinguished memoir about The Sixties — and Todd Gitlin, the author of the classic, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.

This spring, Columbia University hosts a series of events to commemorate, memorialize and perhaps even abuse 1968. Fittingly, Professor McMillan kicked off the series with a talk titled “The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America.” The festivities at Columbia culminate April 27-28 with the return to campus of former student rebels including Mark Rudd. The following interview with McMillan was conducted by email just as he was preparing his talk.

Q: Has it struck you that the phrase “the underground press” was a misnomer since the newspapers weren’t produced, published and distributed clandestinely?

A: Yes, the "underground press" was a bit of a misnomer. The overwhelming majority of "underground newspapers" sold openly, at bookstores, newsstands and on the street. Some publications better deserve the underground label. GI publications during the Vietnam War were often published and distributed clandestinely. Fuck You! (A Magazine of the Arts), was a crudely mimeographed, poetry-centered magazine that Ed Sanders published and distributed secretly, in NYC's East Village, from 1962-1965. You could get it from behind the counter at just a handful of stores.

Q: What do you think the phrase “underground press” initially meant to those who worked for it and those who relied on it for information?

A: The first underground papers — the Los Angeles Free Press, the Berkeley Barb, and the East Village Other — appealed to self-styled cultural outlaws, radical intellectuals, beatniks, eccentrics and artists. Underground papers could seem genuinely subversive, openly flouting society's conventions and, by the late 1960s, they championed the revolutionary overthrow of the U.S. government.

Q: Some papers, such as The Oracle, seemed to care as much if not more about the look than the content. The design and the artwork made them a challenge to read and understand. Perhaps that was intentional since the papers were aimed at the cognoscenti.

A: Yes, many of the papers associated with the counterculture produced very creatively designed layouts. Prose could be fitted around swirling drawings, and photo collages. And some of the papers used split-fountain printing techniques, which allowed them to blend colorful inks and create beautiful rainbow effects on their pages (no two of which were ever exactly alike). It was rumored that The Oracle received funding from Owsley Stanley, the infamous LSD chemist.

Q: I enjoyed The Seed and The Great Speckled Bird, for example, more than The Rat. Do you think it helpful to say that some papers where aimed at “freaks” rather than “hippies”?

I found the The Rat very interesting, when I was exploring radicalism on NYC's Lower East Side, which is where The Rat was produced. But it often had an ugly, angry, macho energy.

By the late 1960s, it became harder to distinguish between hippies and politicos. It was even harder to draw precise distinctions between "freaks" and "hippies," though hippies were supposed to be gentle and loving, whereas "freaks" were more hard-edged and violent. Some of street kids who contributed to The Rat, took speed and clashed with cops. They didn't have much in common with the flower-power types from the Haight-Ashbury.

Q: Looking back, do you think that some papers were better than others? Better written, better designed?

A: There was a huge difference between the best and the worst papers. I like Atlanta's Great Speckled Bird, the (Chicago) Seed, The Rag (from Austin, Texas), the Berkeley Barb (before it got too radical), the Los Angeles Free Press and The Willamette Bridge. Also, Liberation News Service (LNS) — which functioned like a radical alternative to the Associated Press (AP) — did consistently good work.

Still, we shouldn't judge underground newspapers by conventional standards. Almost all of them styled themselves as "community" papers. They were open to whoever wanted to contribute and they were democratically structured.

The writings and perspectives of the most talented, and the most experienced underground journalists, didn’t necessarily prevail over the work of those who were less talented, or more amateurish. Most underground press "editors" tended not to do much editing! All this gave the papers an anarchic, freewheeling quality that some people found charming. But that wasn't for everyone.

Q: The first writers to describe the history of the underground press, such as Abe Peck, belonged to the Sixties. You and Blake Slonecker belong to a second wave. Do you think that you and Slonecker saw aspects that the Abe Pecks didn’t see because they were too close and personally involved?

A: It was more the case that Slonecker and myself, and a handful of others, have done huge amounts of archival research that Peck, and others, simply did not to. So, in some respects, we had more and better material to work with.

Q: You were the first person whose work I read who distinguished between the 1960s as a chronological decade and “The Sixties” as a state of mind and as a cultural and political phenomenon. What do we gain by seeing the “Long Sixties” as it has come to be known?

A: Historians always have to define periods and place parameters on whatever it is they study. We're always asking, "Where to begin, and where to end?" When I teach courses on the 1960s, I begin in 1955, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, because that seems to signify the beginning of the modern civil rights movement, which catalyzed the New Left. And I end in 1975, with the fall of Saigon, which seems a fitting end of the era we call "The Sixties."

Q: Do you think The Sixties would have happened even if there were no underground newspapers?

A: I suspect that a lot of what we associate with The Sixties would have happened even without the underground press. The Civil Rights Movement and the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley were already underway when the underground press started in 1965-1966.

But the main argument in Smoking Typewriters is that the underground papers helped the movement grow. They would arise in their communities, often in response to local issues or as a product of regional subcultures. The underground papers brought a lot of like-minded people together, and gave them a sense of connection to a larger movement and a cause greater than themselves. They raised democratic expectations and socialized people to become radicals.

Q: Were underground newspapers different than the pamphlets and broadsides of previous eras?

A: Underground journalists of the 1960s sometimes drew self-serving comparisons between themselves and the pamphleteers of the American Revolution. Pamphlets had the virtue of flexibility; George Orwell once quipped that they need only be "topical, polemical, and short." After the Port Huron Statement, many more New Left pamphlets, manifestos and broadsides found their way into print. Individuals usually wrote them. They were not the preferred form among young people who wanted to build a movement based on cooperation and democratic participation. The fact that underground newspapers were made collectively was a huge part of their appeal.

Q: Historians such as Eric Foner have said that tens of thousands of people going online and registering their displeasure with and rejection of government policies is not as effective in terms of protest as tens of thousands of people actually going into the streets.

A: Eric is correct, and I'm surprised we haven't seen many more mass mobilizations against the Trump Administration. After the great Women's March last year, I thought they'd become a regular thing. If they were done correctly, I suspect that anti-Trump mass marches could be very effective.

Q: How do you feel about social media?

A: I'm not a fan. I don't use Twitter, and my Facebook account is deactivated (mostly for mental health reasons). President Trump seems to get good mileage out of his Twitter account, though I know his tweeting has caused problems. On the other hand, his core supporters seem unshakably loyal. I hate to say it, but maybe his tweets have something to do with that. It's astonishing to me that his base hasn't started growing tired of his antics.

Q: You’re speaking about the underground press at Columbia on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the student protests on campus in 1968. What do you want today’s generation of undergraduates to take away from your talk?

A: It's not a talk meant to offer lessons to activist undergrads. Nowadays, I think we have far too much amateurishly produced radical and alternative journalism! If any students come to my talk — I hope they do — I'll try to persuade them to make a habit of reading daily newspapers and prestige magazines, where professionally trained editors and reporters are trying their best to get the news out accurately, and to give the right shape and proportion to the stories they put out.

(Jonah Raskin wrote for Liberation News Service in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Along with more than 700 protestors he was arrested at Columbia in April 1968 and jailed at “the Tombs” in New York City.)

* * *


Churchill was no hero — he was a vile racist fanatical about violence and fiercely supportive of imperialism.

* * *


President Donald Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

"Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?" Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday.

The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and then prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.

A White House spokesman declined to offer an immediate comment on Trump's remarks.

Outlining a potential bipartisan deal, the lawmakers discussed restoring protections for countries that have been removed from the temporary protected status program while adding $1.5 billion for a border wall and making changes to the visa lottery system.

The administration announced earlier this week that it was removing the protection for El Salvador.

Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls, aides said, but shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested.

Graham and Durbin thought they would be meeting with Trump alone and were surprised to find immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., at the meeting. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls this morning, Capitol Hill aides said.

After the meeting, Marc Short, Trump's legislative aide, said the White House was nowhere near a bipartisan deal on immigration.

"We still think we can get there," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the White House press briefing.

* * *

“The media is fake news, sad, failing, and unfair — O.K., let the cameras in.”

* * *


Opens January 12

Medicine on the Mendocino Coast: "Say Ah..."

Kelley House Museum opens 2018 with a new exhibit on the history of medical practice, doctors, disease, and hospitals of the Mendocino Coast, circa 1870-1950. The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, January 12, and will run through Monday, March 12, 2018.

"Medicine on the Mendocino Coast: Say Ahh..." includes photographs and artifacts, like an early X-ray (then called radiograph) of Augie Heeser's foot, a chair from Dr. Preston's waiting room, early microscopes, stethoscopes, a blood pressure cuff and doctors' bags.

Exhibit hours are Friday through Monday, 11AM-3PM, with admission by suggested donation of $5. A special Second Saturday event, with complimentary beer and wine, will be held January 13 from 5-7PM.

For more information, please call 937-5791 or visit

Kelley House Museum
45007 Albion Street

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Cycling lanes consume more space than they free up, add to pollution and drain the public purse

by Lawrence Solomon

The bicycle has come a long way since the 1980s when bicycle advocacy groups (my group, Energy Probe, among them) lobbied against policies that discriminated against cyclists. In the language of the day, the bicycle epitomized “appropriate technology”: It was a right-sized machine that blessed cities with economic and environmental benefits. At no expense to taxpayers, the bicycle took cars off the road, easing traffic; it saved wear and tear on the roads, easing municipal budgets; it reduced auto emissions, easing air pollution; it reduced the need for automobile parking, increasing the efficiency of land use; and it helped keep people fit, too.

Today the bicycle is a mixed bag, usually with more negatives than positives. In many cities, bike lanes now consume more road space than they free up, they add to pollution as well as reducing it, they hurt neighbourhoods and business districts alike, and they have become a drain on the public purse. The bicycle today — or rather the infrastructure that now supports it — exemplifies “inappropriate technology,” a good idea gone wrong through unsustainable, willy-nilly top-down planning.

London, where former mayor Boris Johnston began a “cycling revolution,” shows where the road to ruin can lead. Although criticism of biking remains largely taboo among the city’s elite, a bike backlash is underway, with many blaming the city’s worsening congestion on the proliferation of bike lanes.

While bikes have the luxury of zipping through traffic using dedicated lanes that are vastly underused most of the day — these include what Transport for London (TfL) calls “cycle superhighways” — cars have been squeezed into narrowed spaces that slow traffic to a crawl.

As a City of London report acknowledged last year, “The most significant impact on the City’s road network in the last 12 months has been the construction and subsequent operation of TfL’s cycle super highway...areas of traffic congestion can frequently be found on those roads.” As Lord Nigel Lawson put it in a parliamentary debate on bicycles, cycle lanes have done more damage to London than “almost anything since the Blitz.”

As a consequence of the idling traffic, pollution levels have risen, contributing to what is now deemed a toxic stew. Ironically, cyclists are especially harmed, and not just because the bike lanes they speed upon are adjacent to tailpipes. According to a study by the London School of Medicine, cyclists have 2.3 times more inhaled soot than walkers because “cyclists breathe more deeply and at a quicker rate than pedestrians while in closer proximity to exhaust fumes...Our data strongly suggest that personal exposure to black carbon should be considered when planning cycling routes.”

Cyclists have begun wearing facemasks as a consequence. A recent headline in The Independent helpfully featured “5 best anti-pollution masks for cycling.” Neighbourhoods endure extra pollution, too, with frustrated autos cutting through residential districts to avoid bike-bred congestion.

Health and safety costs aside — per kilometre travelled, cyclist fatalities are eight times that of motorists — the direct economic burden associated with cycling megaprojects is staggering. Paris, which boasts of its plan to become the “cycling capital of the world,” is in the midst of a 150-million-euro cycling scheme. Melbourne has a $100-million plan. Amsterdam — a flat, compact city well suited to cycling — is spending 120 million euros on 9,000 new bicycle parking spots alone. Where cold weather reigns for much of the year, as is the case in many of Canada’s cities, the cost-benefit case for cycling infrastructure is eviscerated further.

The indirect costs of cycling also loom large because cycling lanes typically displace lanes that formerly accommodated street parking, especially outside rush-hour periods. Businesses that rely on street parking for their customers are often bitter at seeing their sales gutted. Cities not only lose revenue from street parking, they also lose revenue from public transit because — anecdotally, at least — people are switching to bikes more from public transit than from cars.

And because the demand for parking hasn’t vanished, cities now find themselves levelling buildings on main streets and side streets in favour of parking lots. In effect, the varied uses to which the lanes adjacent to the sidewalk were once put — for car and bike traffic during rush hour and for parking benefitting delivery vehicles, local businesses and their patrons at other times — has devolved into a single-function piece of under-used pavement.

In a user-pay or market economy, where users pay for the services they consume, bicycle lanes would be non-starters outside college campuses and other niche settings. If roads were tolled to recover the cost of asphalt and maintenance, no cyclist could bear the burden he foists on society. The cyclist has been put on the dole, made a taker rather than a giver to society.

Some of the bike backlash — resentment at the privileged position of cyclists, who are notorious for flouting the rules of the road without contributing their fair share — manifests itself as economic penalty. Oregon, which has a high proportion of cyclists, recently became the first state to levy a sales tax on new bicycles, even though Oregon has no general sales tax. Legislators “felt that bicycles ought to contribute to the system,” explained a state senator who co-wrote the bill, expressing a sentiment widely held across the continent.

The most telling opposition to cyclists, though, may be cultural. They are often seen as an entitled, smug and affected minority. In the U.K., cyclists are mocked as “mamils” (middle-aged men in Lycra); in U.S. inner cities they’re seen as the preserve of “white men with white-collar jobs” furthering gentrification. Almost everywhere they’re seen as discourteous, and as threats to the safety of pedestrians.

At least two cities in the U.K. have banned cyclists from their city centres and just this month the government of New South Wales in Australia decided to ban bikes (but not automobiles, motorcycles, trucks or trams) on a popular Sydney street that had been a bike commuter route. The government explained it wants the street to become conducive to pedestrians. Other street bans important to Sydney’s downtown are in the works.

City politicians around the world are in a race to make their cities “bike-friendly.” The more they succeed, the nastier things will get.

(Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute, a division of Energy Probe Research Foundation. Financial Post.)

* * *


by Ralph Nader

Dear President Trump,

Let us all wish and work for a peaceful and just New Year.

The American people are spending a significant amount of time observing and thinking about your presidency and its robust tweeting operation as President. Three areas of interest and concern comprise this letter’s purpose:

With news of the forthcoming medical examination by your physicians there will be renewed interest in your medical records and medical condition. This is true of all Presidents, but more so with you, because you have not been as forthcoming or anywhere near as complete in your disclosures about the state of your health during the campaign and since you became President last January.

The other concern relates to your diets and habits. You have what some nutritionists colloquially call a “cardiac diet” – full of foods containing fat, salt and sugar. A recent report said you drink about 12 cans of artificially sweetened diet coke a day! With artificial sweeteners. You have said you sleep less than normal people. You are overweight. Not a good combination, say physicians and health scientists, that is conductive to good health. And then there is the added stress of just being President and constantly being viscerally angry at critics here and abroad. People just doing things with their constitutional freedom, to which you strenuously object, seems to aggravate you.

Please release your full medical records with the necessary technical details and explanations to give the public confidence in your health.

There is much writing and litigation about how you are enriching yourself from many private and public sources. The emoluments clause of the Constitution is much in the news as recurrent reports bring to public attention all the spenders going to your properties and those of your family hoping to ingratiate themselves with your favors, including diplomatic officials of foreign countries in Washington, DC and New York City, and other public officials patronizing your properties abroad.

Since you have not fully divested from your properties, there is all the more reason for you to release several years of your tax returns, including the most recent return. Even your supporters have wondered, “Why not, what has he got to hide?” Or more benignly, “Why not, he’s got nothing to hide, everyone knows he is rich and has done lots of deals with lots of businesses and partnerships.”

Will you recognize that you are a public official and owe the people the full tax information, most importantly, your assets, debts and other business dealings and partnerships?

There has been a vast conflict between your public statements assuring the people that “we want to protect our workers, their safety our health and we want to protect our air and our country’s natural beauty.” Moreover, last year you asserted that no one would go without healthcare.

By contrast, you have selected men and women to run your health and safety regulatory agencies and departments who were and are openly hostile to these agencies’ official statutory missions. Like you, those you have appointed are boastful about their intention to dismantle limits on lethal or injurious impacts and actions that have been saving the lives, health and safety of the American people and protecting consumer dollars. You are aware of their sworn oath of office to uphold the laws under their jurisdiction – an oath preceded by similar assurances in their sworn congressional testimony at their Senate confirmation hearings.

The destruction of these federal agencies’ missions, the degrading and marginalizing of their scientists, engineers, ecologists, economists and other professional public servants are without precedent. What is also unique is that your heads of EPA, the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Education, Labor and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are contemptuous of the missions of their agencies. The neglect, reversals or replacements are letting more Americans, including children, die, get sick or be injured – on your Presidential watch! And the enablers of unprosecuted corporate crime and wrongdoing that are just getting underway – revoking or suspending rules and even brazenly pulling back on enforcement actions which are nearing settlements, sanctions or prohibitions. This abdication also creates a climate than can increase corporate abuses of workers and consumers.

Of course, there is prosecutorial or enforcement discretion, with priorities for action. That is not the situation here. This is a wholesale wrecking crew of non-enforcement of laws, taking the federal cops off the corporate crime, fraud and abuse beat. This is a demolition death dance cutting enforcement budgets, pushing conscientious enforcement officials out the door or leaving them with nothing to do, thereby wasting taxpayer money. Such zealotry keeps pushing the envelope until preventable disasters occur or serious scandals emerge. That’s when it reaches your desk.

Pay attention to what those you have appointed are undoing, if only because they will be doing in your congressional supporters in November. You should start with the Rogue’s gallery of Mick Mulvaney, grinding down the CFPB, Alex Acosta, the Secretary Against Labor, Scott Pruitt, Chief Toxifier at the EPA, Ryan Zinke, Oil-Driller-in-Chief on the federal lands and offshore, Sonny Perdue, the anti-nutritionist at USDA, Scott Gottlieb, the drug industry’s man at the FDA, and Betsy DeVos, the corporatist, jeopardizing students at the Department of Education.

It would help if you are seen working on your empathy for the tens of millions of deprived and innocent people, including children, exposed to various forms of risk and exploitation in their daily lives here and abroad whom you are adversely affecting.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

* * *


by Dan Bacher

The embattled California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Wednesday the appointment of a new director, Karla Nemeth, who has worked in key management positions at DWR since 2009, and the “restructuring” of key positions at the agency.

Nemeth’s appointment comes in the wake of the release of a scathing independent report of the agency's handling of the Oroville Dam spillway disaster. The report said a flawed safety culture and "long-term and systemic failures” contributed to the disaster that resulted in the evacuation of 188,000 people on an hour's notice from Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties in February 2017.

It also comes at a time when the Delta Tunnels project that the DWR is the lead agency for faces mounting opposition by fishing groups, Tribes, conservation organizations, environmental justice advocates, family farmers, water agencies, cities and counties and the public.

Nemeth has been the deputy secretary and senior advisor for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) since 2014 and was the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan project manager at the agency from 2009 to 2014, overseeing the planning of the controversial Delta Tunnels proposal.

“In the past year alone, the most severe drought in California’s recorded history was interrupted by one of the wettest seasons on record, putting extreme pressure on our flood control infrastructure and exposing vulnerabilities,” Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said in a statement. “This new team will help the state better prepare for ever-greater challenges to our infrastructure and flood management systems, and ensure that California is doing everything possible to ensure dam and flood safety.”

In a potential conflict of interest, Nemeth is married to Tom Philp, a former Sacramento Bee editorial writer who now works as a senior strategist for the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. MWD is the largest member agency of the State Water Project that DWR oversees and is a key promoter of the Delta Tunnels.

"She brings extensive knowledge of the state’s water system, California Water Action Plan and California WaterFix to the position," according to Laird.

Nemeth replaces Grant Davis, who is returning to his position as General Manager at the Sonoma County Water Agency. Governor Brown appointed Davis to become DWR director on August 1, 2017 after the Acting DWR Director William R. Croyle retired on July 1, 2017.

“I want to thank Grant Davis for his service to California,” said Secretary Laird. “I also welcome Karla Nemeth to this important role and am confident she will do a great job at this critical time for the Department."

For his part, Davis praised Governor Jerry Brown's leadership in a news release issued by the Sonoma County Water Agency,

"Working with Governor Brown and his Administration as the Director of the California Department of Water Resources was a tremendous experience," said Davis. "I am thankful for the opportunity to serve Governor Brown. It was a true honor and privilege. This is going to be a very important year in California for water. I am confident that the Governor and the state are on a solid pathway forward."

Nemeth will be the fourth person to serve as DWR director over the past years. The current shake-up as DWR began when Mark Cowin, former DWR and Carl Torgersen, the DWR Chief Deputy Director, announced they would be retiring from their positions at the embattled agency at the end of 2016.

News of those two officials' retirement, common knowledge in DWR for some time, was confirmed on December 6, 2016, by Nancy Vogel, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, in response to my email:

Vogel is no longer at the agency either.

DWR also announced the restructuring and elevation of a number of positions on its executive team to "help improve long-term planning and day-to-day management of key water programs, dam safety and flood control ­– functions that are increasingly critical in the face of climate change."

This includes replacing an existing executive position – Deputy Director for Integrated Water Management – with two positions tightly focused on priority areas.

"The first of these positions, Deputy Director for Flood Management and Dam Safety, will focus specifically on flood management, dam safety and the operation of DWR’s dams, consistent with recommendations from the Independent Forensic Team tasked with examining the Oroville Dam spillways incident," according to Laird’s news release.

Eric Koch, who has served in numerous leadership roles at DWR over the past decade, will serve in this new role effective today and will oversee the Division of Flood Management and the Division of Safety of Dams.

The second position, Deputy Director for Integrated Water Management and Multi-Benefit Programs, will focus on long-range planning and integrated water management, as well as local water supply sustainability and DWR’s EcoRestore Program. This person also will oversee programs that "achieve multiple benefits in the areas of flood control, surface water, groundwater and ecosystem health.”

Finally, DWR is consolidating responsibilities for management of the newly established Executive Sustainable Groundwater Management Program with Deputy Director for Special Initiatives Taryn Ravazzini. The move will help with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, a key priority of the Brown administration. Ravazzini has served as Deputy Director since 2014.

"Together these changes will help make California more safe and resilient in the face of future droughts and floods," Laird claimed.

However, critics of DWR's handling of the Oroville Dam crisis and its fast-tracking of the Delta Tunnels project are less than confident than the reshuffling of positions in the agency will change the agency's entrenched culture of service to the state water contractors at the expense of public safety, salmon and other fisheries and environmental justice - and the agency's lack of accountability to the public.

"True to form, no one is ever held responsible for anything in the John Laird Natural Resources Agency," said Bill Wells, Executive Director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitor's Bureau.

To read the Independent Forensic Report on the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident, go here:

* * *



In these dark times, we are coming together to shine a light on the good projects people are doing in Mendocino County. This can range from the wonderful groups working to build the local food movement to the valiant and persistent community efforts that so many people are undertaking in the wake of the fires in Redwood Valley and Willits.

To do this, we will be holding collaborative workshops on building an economy for our common good in Mendocino County at the North County Center/Willits Campus of Mendocino College. Please join us for this seven-class series of workshops where we identify the entities in Mendocino County that are creating a sustainable, vibrant, empowering and just future for our communities. This effort is inspired and advised by the national effort of the US Solidarity Economy Network to map solidarity economy enterprises across the country. You can see their map at We are creating a separate map that we plan to merge with the national map once the project is completed. Workshops will be held Saturday mornings 10 AM to Noon, every two weeks starting January 27.

We will network all of these entities and enterprises together to strengthen all of their efforts. United we stand to make life in Mendocino County better for all. We need your help to make it happen. Please join us.

We call this process “building the bicycle while we are riding it.” We began with a series of workshops in the Fall on the Coast. Now we are excited for you to join us to continue the process in the New Year. It has been an exhilarating project identifying, interviewing and mapping entities that are working to make life in Mendocino County ecologically, economically and socially beneficial for all.

Let us know if you have any questions. You can register by calling Patti Gulyas at Mendocino College, 707-468-3236 or go to

Jim Tarbell


PS. Poster Attached

Spring 2018 Class Flyer

* * *


With You in Peace on All Levels

Beloved friends,

It is delightful to be with you in 2018 being in the world of peace, love and nonviolence with each other, reforming the society as best we can. With Barbara's help, I'm actively writing what I think are "urgent action" messages focused on avoiding nuclear war. Inviting your participation and criticism. Can we write a "People's Nuclear Posture Review," to see if we can change basic U.S. strategy from escalating first-strike threat to "deterrence only"?

John Lewallen,



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