Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY IN WHITEOPIA

by Rex Gressett

It rained in Fort Bragg on Martin Luther King day. In celebration of our newest national holiday, roughly 200 Fort Bragg Progressives marched up Highway One and swung through the city to the Lutheran Trinity Church. They carried rainbow banners and Bernie for President signs. Quotations from Martin Luther King bounced along on placards. The ancient sounds of an authentic conch shell blower and drummers filled the misty Fort Bragg air. The kids and the dogs wondered what the adults were up to in the rain. It was a great little parade.

The marchers filled the main room at Lutheran Trinity to standing room only. Everyone was having a good time. For many people this was a chance to express their most dearly held political convictions. They were committed; I don't doubt it, but it was a little hard to imagine this almost totally white crowd having that much personal understanding of racial issues. Maybe they did. Certainly they had a genuine if somewhat abstract sympathy. Still the vast distance between the realities of race-rooted police violence, massive urban poverty and the daily lives of the deeply homogenous, generally elderly crowd of Bernie voters, was inescapable.

I do not for a moment believe that the ugliness of race prejudice in our polite little village is anyone’s planned policy or desire. Alas, the nearly total whiteness of our community would gratify the most virulent segregationist. I do indeed think that there are many in Fort Bragg who have moved to the remote coast specifically to protect their kids or their retirement from the tragic abrasive dysfunction of race relations in America. It’s not that we don't like black people. Anyone will tell you that.

The Monday celebration at Lutheran Trinity was rescued from irony by the panel of experts convened for the discussion that came before lunch. The kids saved the day. A special panel of high school students, including "Youth," as they self-identified, from Hawaii and Vallejo, as well as Mendocino and Fort Bragg, were given the platform and asked to express their understanding of the Holiday through a series of questions pertaining to the tough issue of race in America.

They did very well. The desperate fear and bitter betrayal of legalized police murder would have gratified the audience, but the kids did not go there. The accelerating slippage of the planet into irreversible climate change was their primary concern. These smart, articulate kids sort of took for granted the importance of mutual toleration. They understood clearly that the administration and much of the nation were not on the same page but the rawness of brutality had not touched them. They ran through the questions with wit and strong common sense. Every one of them was a bright possibility and a fearless advocate for good. The old folks applauded at every opportunity and took refuge and comfort from the decency and gentle commonsense of a new generation.

As I watched the kids think on their feet, I thought of the Mayor of our town with his relentless behind the scenes pressure to harass and and arrest the homeless. I wondered if on this rainy holiday the cops were out busting up the camps. Most days they are. I paused to think of the out of control distribution of opioids that no city official has ever mentioned. I wondered at the merciless cruelty, bigotry and prejudice of Fort Bragg officialdom when they take aim at our poorest citizens. Is that ongoing campaign of violence and police oppression really that different from the suppression of a great people? In scale it is, but the rationalizations are the same.

I mused a little on the sellout of the homeless by many of this same crowd of kindly and concerned folk who fought so hard to allow millions of dollars to flow into the pockets of a social services elite concerned only with exploiting the natural resource of the indigent vagabonds who are also our kids. Did any one of the advocates for the Old Coast Hotel notice after these few years that not one, not a single solitary one, of the homeless in our town has derived any shelter from what is now the fanciest office building in the city? Did they ever blow the conch shell to protest the arbitrary violence of our own police against the only real minority we have to deal with? With all of their sincerity with their undoubted good intentions were they remotely willing to take a step back and ask Anna Shaw, What the hell is going on?

The deep wound of injustice is rightly remembered on the 15th day of January.

In Fort Bragg the practice of injustice is alive and well.

* * *

LEE HOWARD, the outspoken Ukiah Valley contractor who has been keeping an eye on the Redwood Complex fire clean-up project wants to know why he was arrested for simply photographing the debris cleanup work being done by the Army Corps of Engineers’ contractors.

In a letter to County Counsel Kit Elliott, Howard writes:

Innocent until proven guilty. This comes after my arrest by Mendocino County finest (five Deputy Sheriffs) who threatened to charge me with a felony and take me to jail. Then I was given a citation for a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving, and released. Approximate hold time at arrest point, one hour.

INTIMIDATION! I understood’s Mr. Hill’s threat completely, if I didn't back off, the Corps would take the advice of the local Sheriff Office to request a restraining order next week, and that if the Corps has to do that, the Corp will also have to involve Federal authorities. (See below e-mail.)

My only interaction with the Corps people at the site on 1-10-2018 lasted no more than 5 minutes, after that all my observations and picture taking were from inside my vehicle and totally on the County road and having NO verbal exchange with anyone on Road J after 1-10-2018.

It was very clear to me that the contractor and the Corps didn't like the pictures that were being taken and the fact that some one was watching the Corps’ operations.

Observing the operations, it was clear that some of the subcontractors lacked the required credentials to be working at the sites.

I have not seen the Sheriff’s officers report! After I review it and if what I have been told to date is true, I will be filing a complaint for false police report. I will be filing a "LITIGATION HOLD COMMUNICATION" Notice to preserve information and to prevent deletion or destruction of Email, video and audio tapes as of 1-16-2018, with regards to citation No. 63524 dated 1-12-2018, 1315hr. Mendocino County Sheriff Office.

It is the people right to know what our government is doing.

Lee Howard

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Subject: Thank You

Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2018 06:46:13 +0000

From: Hill, M A (Tony) CIV USARMY CESWL (US) <Tony.Hill@usace.army.mil>

To: <angeloc@mendocinocounty.org>, <lohoward@sonic.net>

CC: McFadden, Eric M COL USARMY CESPD (US)<Eric.M.Mcfadden@usace.army.mil>

Ms. Angelo/Mr. Howard:

I wanted to send a quick note to say thank you for taking the time to visit with me this afternoon. I am glad that we were able to sit down and talk about the events of the past week.

Our conversation helped me better understand where you are coming from Mr. Howard, and I really appreciate your knowledge of this industry, your concern that the contractors are abiding by the law, and more importantly your passion for the people of your community. I really hope that we can find some way to work together. Honestly, I hope that you are monitoring the contractors that are rebuilding the homes as much as your are the contractors that are removing the debris. If so, Mendocino County will not have to worry about unethical contractors working in the area, taking advantage of the survivors. Mr. Howard, if I can find time, I may try to take you up on your offer to tour the area (if the offer still stands).

Just to recap some of the conversation, I feel that we left with the understanding that we all have the same objectives in mind, and those are: to support the survivors, ensure that the debris removal work is done safely and appropriately, and that we want to see that tax payer money is spent appropriately. I did mention that our leadership is highly concerned with the events of the last week and how Mr. Howard's presence on the job site last week caused our employees to feel unsafe. I also explained that our employees have a heightened sense of safety due to examples from other recent disasters where Federal employees have been threatened and/or physically harmed. I also mentioned that we were advised by the local Sheriff's Office to request a restraining order next week; and that if we have to do that, we will also have to involve Federal authorities. I emphasized that we do NOT want to pursue that as a course of action.

We came to the understanding that Mr. Howard is within his right to photograph and document any issues that he observes on our completeley and that he will remain in his vehicle, in the right-of-way and not approach our employees or contractors.

After the meeting, I visited with our local staff and passed along basically the same information that I mentioned above and informed them that they should expect to see Mr. Howard near our jobsites. They did express concern that depending on where his car is parked or where he drives, he will need to ensure that his vehicle does not disrupt traffic flow to and from the work sites, cause a safety concern, or a distraction. Our folks relayed to me how much of a pleasure that it has been working with the survivors in Mendocino County and really regret that this interaction with Mr. Howard has become so negative.

One thing that I briefly mentioned but failed to elaborate on, was our process for resolving issues that are identified by property owners or the public. Tomorrow, I will send you a document that shows the steps that we have developed to address property owner issues. We have a formal process in place and will be using our Call Center Team to capture those issues and we will then have folks from our technical team look into the concern and make contact with the property owner. I hope that this is something that you will find useful as each of you visit with the survivors in the community.

Thank you again for your time today. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Tony Hill, ESF #3 Team Lead, CA Wildfires - DR 4334, 501-773-1493

* * *

ED NOTES


BACK WHEN words had meaning, 'curator' was a person trained to care for collections of stuff, often valuable stuff like the collection of stuff at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits. The stuff at the County Museum is not likely to get tweakers breaking in for its re-sale value, but it's important to the collective memory of the County, especially this County where history tends to start all over again every morning.

KAREN MATTSON is a young Laytonville woman who has worked in the County as a library assistant. She has just been appointed curator of the County Museum.

THE WAY the County works these days is that our formidable CEO, Carmel Angelo, appoints as many people as she can to County positions. That way, much of the unelected County apparatus is beholden to her. The entire apparatus, whether beholden or not, fears the old girl, especially the Supervisors who don't supervise her but are supervised by Angelo.

MS. MATTSON is probably a perfectly capable person, although her youth and prior experience would be unlikely to land her a curator's position anywhere but in Mendocino County.

RUSS AND SYLVIA BARTLEY have done an excellent job as the Museum's informal curators. The collections are well-ordered and coherently organized. If it weren't for them, well, the CEO lives in Marin and will retreat there when she finally leaves her job here, so it's unlikely that the efficient functioning of our Museum is high on her list of concerns. The Bartleys live in Fort Bragg where they've been instrumental in the organization of Fort Bragg Museum.

BUT THE BARTLEYS, in a typically heavy-handed Angleo move, have been locked out of the County Museum in a bizarre raid on the facility ordered by Angelo, a raid that terrorized the other employees who happened to be there. (Alan Flora, an Angelo assistant, came to work on a Friday and was ordered out of the building about 15 minutes after he got there, and has dropped from sight. A young guy recently married but now jobless, he's emblematic of the Angelo management style.)

THE BARTLEYS worked for relative peanuts. They were a boon to the Museum. It's not an exaggeration to say that they saved it, that without them there would be nothing to see there. And their academic training and hands-on archival experience makes them two highly qualified curators for the price of one. If the Supervisors were at all committed to a functioning Mendocino County Museum, they'd get the Bartleys back on board.


Joens-Poulton

SPEAKING of disappeared local officials, what happened to Paul Joens-Poulton, Assistant Superintendent at the County Office of Education, known around our office as "the hyphenated guy"? He's apparently been sent packing, and we're looking for someone to tell us why.


OTHER LOCAL MYSTERIES include the odd case of Rachel Seivertson, a young Hopland woman arrested Sunday for taking an aluminum baseball bat to fire vehicles at the Hopland Fire Department and proceeding to knock them out of commission. On her way off the premises, she broke a couple of office windows for emphasis.

Sievertson

Rachel may also have vandalized the CalFire station at Hopland. The otherwise temperate former firefighter's flip-out is believed to have been inspired by thwarted love. Her rampages, incidentally, were caught by surveillance videos, leaving no doubt about who did it. When a posse of fire personnel and cops appeared at her home on Feliz Creek Road, Rachel, a Joan of Arc look alike, scurried up a steep hill, quickly winding her pursuers. Finally cornered in the attic of her home, the fiery vandal was booked into the County Jail where she is being held without bail.


Binah, Skyhawk

AN AGGRESSIVELY rude caller, anon of course, demanded: "You guys should look into this one; Chris Skyhawk is Rachel Binah's love child."

RACHEL BINAH is the well-known Mendocino innkeeper, now retired, and Democratic Party super-delegate. Chris Skyhawk is a candidate for 5th District Supervisor.

WE just had to put the question to the candidate, who promptly replied, "That is the best chuckle I’ve had yet today. I will hold a séance and ask my dead mother what she thinks."

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I just read a very disturbing article that said dogs are a lot dumber now than they used to be because they don't work anymore, just kinda parade around on the pavement end of some decadent's leash. I work, I’m on patrol, and I'm smart, and don't let anybody say different!”

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RE-BUILD SMARTER

Editor:

A few years ago, I bought a home in Willits. There were problems getting home insurance. This area is considered a forested, at-risk fire area, I was told.

Understanding this, I am puzzled by the conversation of and the mass effort for rebuilding in what is clearly a flash-fire zone around Santa Rosa. This recent fire devastation isn’t the first burn out in this area. I have heard no insurance company saying there will be new requirements to protect the redevelopment of these areas. I have heard no building code improvements coming that would require a hold on rebuilding until improved safe code construction and area development designs are in place to protect the rebuild effort and guarantee insurance for home owners.

The wind clearly blew cinders a long way. Surely a development needs a fire-halting green zone protection of some sort. Water sprinklers? Fire-resistant roofing and building materials? Roof top sprinklers?

Life cannot just move on the same as it was the last two times this area has burned.

David Pollin

Willits

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TIMBERRRRRRR! BYRON FALLS AGAIN

On January 7, 2018 at about 6:20 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were investigating a domestic violence incident in Covelo. While looking for the suspect in the domestic violence incident one of the Deputies contacted Byron Peters, 39, of Covelo, in the area of Airport Road and South Airport Road.

Peters

The Deputy knew Peters to have an outstanding Felony arrest warrant. The Deputy had Sheriff's Office dispatch run a records check for other warrants, probation and parole. Dispatch advised Peters was currently on active Post Community Supervision (PRCS) in Mendocino County. The terms of PRCS were that Peters shall not be a gang member, shall not associate with other gang members and shall not possess gang indicia. Deputies believed Peters was in possession of gang indicia at the time of the contact. Peters Probation Officer was contacted and a probation hold was placed on him for Violation of Post Release Community Supervision PRCS/County Parole. Peters was placed under arrest and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held without bail.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, January 16, 2018

Case, Lundburg, Parker, Phillips

LUCAS CASE, Covelo. Trespassing, Under influence, offenses while on bail, probation revocation.

KAWIKA LUNDBURG, Santa Rosa/Willits. Possession of stolen vehicle, burglary tools.

MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

KEVIN PHILLIPS, Antioch/Willits. Narcotics possession, sale of organic drug, under influence, resisting.

Reynolds, Ryan, Warner

LINDA REYNOLDS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

WILLIAM RYAN, Ukiah. Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation.

ROBERT WARNER, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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THE TAIL OF THE TATTOO

by Hunter S. Thompson

I dropped Maria off in front of the tattoo parlor just before midnight. There was no place to park on the street, so I sent her inside and found a place on the sidewalk, in front of a house with no lights.

Why not? I figured. Black car, dark sidewalk, nothing but cranked Chinese teenagers on the street — and we did, in fact, need the story. The week had been too long and fast for wise and considered reflection. I had lectured for something like 166 straight hours on morals and manners and politics, in addition to drugs and violence. I had been awake for too long.

We had located the Picture Machine Tattoo Parlor in the yellow pages only an hour before it closed. It was time to get the story.

Fortunately, it was only a few blocks away from the hotel, on the corner of Third and Geary, in the same lonely doorway as Suicide Prevention, Inc. The whole front of the building was surrounded by thick steel accordion screens, like the ones they have in Beirut.

The suicide clinic was closed but Maria rang the bell to the tattoo parlor and then disappeared inside.

By the time I got there she was already staring dolefully at a small white card from the Key and Cohn Dermatology Clinic. It said, "Tattoo removals by laser surgery," prices and fees upon request. Another card which the tattoo man had given her said, "Do not pick scab. I will not therefore be held responsible for any tattoo after you leave my premises. Thank you."

The proprietor was a giant Swiss named Mark, whose arms and shoulders looked something like something out of a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers cartoon. He had knives and snakes and scorpions and skulls full of Hell’s Angels slogans: Live fast, die hard … Live to ride, Ride to kill … I should have killed you yesterday … I'd rather see my sister in a whorehouse than see my brother on a Jap Bike.

There were many other options displayed all over the walls and ranging from dainty four-color florals to monster full-bodied murals depicting scenes like the Rape of Nanking and six-legged gorgon's eating fire and gnawing the skulls of their enemies.

"Eagles and Panthers," he said. "Those are still the most popular. But, you see, ladies get more flowers and stuff. The guys get the eagles and panthers." The man seemed nervous. He had wanted to close by midnight, but now he saw shadows in his life. It is not good business on the dark end of Geary Boulevard at two minutes to midnight on Saturday to entertain two strangers with glittering eyes and no apparent motive.

“We need something fast," I told him. "I have a deadline at noon tomorrow. How long will it take to put a tattoo on this woman?"

He eyed me warily then took another long look at Maria. "Where do you want it?” he asked.

"Never mind that," I shouted. "We’ll put it on her back." I scanned the walls for suitable design but most of the good ones required too much time. Some took two or three minutes, but others needed 8-10 hours.

"What about the panther?" I said finally, pointing to a raging black beast about the size of a volleyball. It was large, but the lines were not complex. It was mainly a matter of black ink and blood, from the sting of the hideous needle.

Maria stretched out on the gurney and I pulled her sweater up to expose both shoulder blades. The unhappy Swiss took a long time cleaning his high-powered electric needle in a pan full of alcohol and ether. It hummed and whined like a huge dentist drill and then he plunged it into her flesh.

Sunday morning is calm along Geary Boulevard. A huge orange sign that says “Storage” is the only living thing on the horizon. After that it is only The Avenues, a bleakness of fogbound haze stretching all the way out to the beach. Strange vans in the driveways and huge motorcycles chained to the fireplugs.

I understand The Avenues. I know them like the veins in my neck. I can drive at top speed all the way to the Beach Boy Café in fog so thick that even the streetcars can't operate. There were nights in the old days when we drove big bikes in tight packs through the park like a thundering herd of wild pigs. We would scream and drink whiskey and light our joints with Zippos as we zoomed through the darkness like rats, leaning crazily into the long curves around the lakes and the Polo Field — just a gang of nice guys and athletes out for a ride in the weather.

But things are different now. I am living in a penthouse suite in the Miyako with wraparound balconies and a deep ginzu bathtub looking down through long black binoculars on the alleys and rooftops Japantown. I have egg rolls from room service and a new black Camaro in the hotel parking lot.

They know me here. When I came back last night I saw the hotel bell captain standing out in the middle of Post Street in a sleazy black kimono, jabbering blankly at oncoming traffic. So I stomped on the gas and swerved left at him just to test his basic reflexes. He leaped back and cursed me as I veered off into the hotel parking lot. Maria ran quickly inside, taking the satchel of otter furs along with the records and evidence from our recent burglary trial.

"Did you have fun?" asked the bell captain as he opened the driver side door for me.

"Are you crazy?" I said. "I have a serious deadline to meet. We've been at the tattoo parlor all night. It was the only way to do it.”

"What?" he said. "You got yourself tattooed?"

"Oh no," I told him. "Not me." I pointed to Maria who was already far into the lobby. "She's the one who got the tattoo," I said. "A huge black and red panther between her shoulder blades."

He nodded slowly but I could see that his face was tense. "What do you mean?" he said. "You made that poor girl get tattooed? Just for a newspaper story?"

"It was the right thing to do," I said. "We had no choice. We are, after all, professionals."

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Being from a street cop family, I warned the people here in Hunterdon County 20 years ago as the president of the County PTA that we had a serious heroin problem. I was dismissed and derided as a doomsayer, a glass half empty loser. No one would admit it much less address it and it was ignored until today, when it can no longer be ignored. But today we have Narcan and the LE and EMT people administer it every day. I was told recently by an ER RN that the local hospital sees (3) OD’s per day. The county lost (11) deaths to OD this last Summer alone. There are no proposed solutions and the only effort is in fund raising, taxation, and “education”. In the 60’s junkies died off which in a sad kind of way limited the problem. Today they cannot even do that. We are all screwed.

* * *

A REALLY SHORT STORY BY RICHARD BRAUTIGAN

"It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin." That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

* * *

I HAVE SPENT HALF MY LIFE trying to get away from journalism, but I am still mired in it — a low trade and habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world of misfits and drunkards and failures. A group photo of the top ten journalists in America on any given day would be a monument to human ugliness.

— Hunter S. Thompson

* * *

"WHAT A LITTLE ROTATION AND SOME DUST CAN PRODUCE"

(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

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FREE DULCIMER CONCERT FRIDAY, JANUARY 19 @ STANFORD INN 6PM-8PM

Songs for Shelter

Friday, January 19, 2018, and every 3rd Friday of the month, 6-8pm

Ravens Restaurant, Stanford Inn by the Sea, Mendocino

Brenda Hall will be playing Songs for Shelter on the hammered dulcimer at the Ravens restaurant in beautiful Stanford Inn by the Sea (44850 Comptche Ukiah Road, Mendocino, CA 95460, 707-937-5615) this Friday, January 19, 2018, from 6:00-8:00pm. The Ravens restaurant serves wonderful, tasty food in a beautiful setting. Or if you just want to come by for a drink, there is a cozy bar and friendly folks to serve you. Celebrate the new year and the end of a busy week by dropping by for an evening of relaxing music and great views. This is a free concert but Songs for Shelter is also a benefit for the non-profit, S.O.S.-Networking for Mendocino Coast Companion Animals. All tip jar donations for the evening go to S.O.S. to help lost, injured and abandoned animals on the coast. So not only will you be serenaded, but you can help coast animals as well. Please come and enjoy the melodic tones of the hammered dulcimer. Relax as the music surrounds you and releases all the tensions from a long work week. Bring your friends and family and make this a fun night of music while helping animals on the coast.

* * *

AMERICANA NIGHT: THE REAL SARAHS ON JANUARY 18!

At the Cloverdale Arts Alliance

Thursday, January 18, 204 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, CA

Doors open at 7:00 PM, music from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM

The Real Sarahs

* * *

COVELO RANGER DISTRICT OFFICE CLOSING

WILLOWS, Calif. - The Covelo Ranger District office will be closed to the public beginning Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 until further notice. District Ranger, Frank Aebly says, "This temporary closure is being implemented due to limited staffing at this location. We are working to remedy the situation and reopen the office as quickly as possible." Aebly advises visitors to check for information about the forest before traveling to the area. Forest maps may be found at the National Forest Map Store: http://www.nationalforestmapstore.com/ and campfire permits may be obtained at http://www.preventwildfireca.org. Forest product permits, maps and recreation passes may be purchased at the Mendocino National Forest Supervisor's office, 825 N. Humboldt Ave. in Willows, at the Upper Lake Ranger District office, 10025 Elk Mountain Road in Upper Lake and the Stonyford Work Center in Stonyford, California.

* * *

UDJ, WILLITS NEWS, ADVOCATE/BEACON TAKE ANOTHER BLOW

OC Register and other Digital First Media newspapers face 'significant' layoffs

beta.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-ocr-layoffs-20180115-story.html

* * *

IN RIO VISTA, a small riverside town about an hour's drive east of San Francisco, I met an elderly Chinese woman who claimed to be the former mistress of Richard Nixon. She lived on a houseboat that was moored in a slough near Antioch, she said, and the ex-president had often visited her there when he came to California. "Sometimes he came in a helicopter," she said, "with a bunch of Secret Service agents. They would sit on the dock and drink long-neck Budwiesers while we went below decks and played cards. That's all he wanted to do. People said he drank too much gin, but I never saw him that way. We did it for 13 years and nobody ever found out."

— Hunter S. Thompson

* * *

DELTA TUNNELS OPPONENTS FILE MOTION TO STAY CALIFORNIA WATERFIX HEARING

by Dan Bacher

In the latest battle in the struggle to stop Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project, project opponents today filed motions to stay the hearing for the project, based on what they alleged were “unlawful ex parte communications” between water board staff and Department of Water Resources personnel that would taint the hearing.

San Joaquin County, Sacramento County, City of Stockton, City of Antioch, and Local Agencies of the North Delta jointly prepared and filed one motion today asking the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to stay the hearing on the controversial project at least 90 days.

Osha Meserve, one of the attorneys for the protestants, explained, ”We’re asking the water board to look at the scope of the exparte communications and the implications of those communications for the water rights hearing. We don’t think part 2 of the hearing should proceed until this critical investigation has been completed, since the entire hearing may have been compromised.”

According to a joint statement from the protestants. “The stay request is based on recent revelations of unlawful ex parte communications between members of the State Board’s WaterFix Hearing Team, on the one hand, and DWR personnel promoting the twin tunnels in the WaterFix Hearing, on the other,”

The project opponents said the “ex parte communications” in this context are communications between members of the Hearing Team and advocates for one side, without the knowledge of the other side, the project opponents.

“An analogy would be a substantive discussion between a judge and plaintiff’s counsel in a civil lawsuit concerning the lawsuit itself, without the defendants and their counsel ever being informed that such a discussion took place,” the protestants stated. “The unlawful ex parte communications in this case are substantive and concern issues at the heart of the ongoing evidentiary proceeding.”

They alleged these ex parte communications “violate Constitutional due process requirements, California law, rules of the Board itself, and other ethical guidelines that apply in such proceedings” and “irrevocably taint” the WaterFix Hearing

“The requested stay is necessary to allow further investigation into the extent of the ex parte communications and to determine how best to address the ethical misconduct that has occurred,” the protestants concluded.

The Save the California Delta Alliance has also filed a request for continuance of the California Water Fix proceedings at the State Water Board, Maven’s Notebook reported: mavensnotebook.com/...

The alliance, represented by lawyer Micheal Brodsky, alleges ex-parte communications between DWR and State Water Board staff, and requests that steps be taken to correct the problem, such as “disqualification of hearing team members and replacement with administrative law judge; removal of flow criteria from evidentiary hearing and including it with the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan update, or dismissal of the petition.”

Read the request for continuance here: req for continue tofile (002)

Sources reveal that additional joinders to the motions are expected. Also, if the stay isn't granted by the water board, the next step would be file to file a petition with the Superior Court for a stay until the investigation is completed.

The most critical approval needed for Governor Brown’s twin tunnel legacy project is that of the State Water Resources Control Board. The approval process was initiated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in August 2015, by their filing of a Petition for Change in water diversions. The State Board’s approval of that Petition is essential for construction of the proposed project. The WaterFix Hearing is an evidentiary hearing.

The motions were filed at a time when the California Department of Water Resources is going through a major shake-up as opposition to the project builds throughout the state.

On January 11, the agency announced the appointment of Karla Nemeth, a longtime leader in the campaign to build the Delta Tunnels at DWR, as DWR Director at the same time that her husband works as a senior strategist for the Metropolitan Water District, a key promoter of the WaterFix. More information: fishsniffer.com/...

Last December, I broke the story on the first major staff changes taking place in a major shake-up at DWR, beginning with the retirement of the Director and Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/12/6/1608051/-Two-top-CA-DWR-officials-are-retiring-at-end-of-year

In other Delta Tunnels news, Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press reporter, this afternoon released a story with updates to the breaking news from last Friday about the Brown Administration’s plan to scale back the Delta Tunnels (CA WaterFix) project.

Her report confirms what many environmental groups suspected when the San Jose Mercury New’s story was published last Friday—“that the state would build one tunnel now, and eventually build the second tunnel at a much later date,” according to Restore the Delta.

The revised state proposal talks of building the tunnels in stages, with one of the four-story-high tunnels built now, and another at some indefinite date,” said Knickmeyer. “Water contractors have previously talked of the possibility of permanently paring the project from two tunnels to one, in hopes of winning support for a smaller project.”

State water officials are reportedly working on a statement for release - and have not released a new cost estimate for the revised project proposal. Delta Tunnels proponents charactered the plan to scale back the tunnels as a “desperate maneuver” to keep the project alive when it it makes no scientific, economic or financial sense.

The Department of Water Resources is functioning at the direction of Metropolitan Water District to begin contracting for construction on a single tunnel project with two intakes, and then to later phase in an additional tunnel as funding becomes available,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

“This is a desperate maneuver to keep CA WaterFix alive. This is not the project described in the Environmental Impact Report for CA WaterFix, or in the permit application presented by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation for the hearings at the State Water Resources Control Board,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.

She also said Californians “have a right to know how long construction would take, what the impacts would be on Delta communities, fish, and wildlife under an even longer construction period, how much water would be delivered and when, and what the costs of a phased in project would be.”

“A cost-benefit analysis still needs to be completed. Any attempt to move forward with the project without new environmental documents and project applications is an attempted end-run around California voters and water users. It is bad planning, and bad politics,” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

* * *

KLAMATH RIVER PROJECT VIDEO UPDATE

According to a report by California Department of Fish & Wildlife on Chinook and Coho Salmon returns to the Upper Klamath, Shasta and Scott Rivers, the numbers confirm that Klamath River Chinook are not doing well and that Klamath River Coho are on the brink of extinction. So why is it that so many millions have been spent "restoring" salmon in the Shasta, Scott and Klamath since the 1980s and still Chinook are not recovering and Coho are slipping toward extinction? These are the sort of hard questions that federal and state agencies responsible for stewardship of our salmon do not want to ask and do not want asked. These questions are also inconvenient for federal tribes and restoration organizations which have become too dependent on "restoration" funding; you hear from them when there are good returns but mums the word when the news is not good. Therefore, please do not wait for a press release; please inform the people of the reality and ask the hard questions about why all that restoration spending is not restoring our salmon.

Felice Pace, Klamath, CA 95548, 707-954-6588

 

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