Mendocino County Today: Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

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AUTHORITIES RAISE ALARM ON ABALONE POACHERS AS STATE BRACES FOR FISHERY CLOSURE

State Fish and Wildlife officials say investigations and arrests will continue amid the abalone closure and an expected rise in black market prices.

pressdemocrat.com/news/7936384-181/jail-sentences-for-north-coast

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COYOTE VALLEY POMO FILE LAWSUIT IN SAN FRANCISCO COURT OVER OPIOIDS

On Jan. 26, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians filed suit in San Francisco against prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies for their role in the opioid epidemic that has become a national crisis and devastated tribes.

For Coyote Valley, prescription opioids are deadlier and more devastating than any prescription drug or non-prescription drug, including heroin. In the lawsuit, Coyote Valley argues that it has suffered economic loss arising from the costs of providing medical care, counseling and rehabilitative services, welfare and foster care services, and the law enforcement and public safety needs that inevitably accompany the opioid epidemic.

Indian tribes throughout the country are also seeing an alarming increase in their youth being impacted by opioid abuse, including infants born addicted to opioids and children removed from addicted parents.

“So far only six tribes have stepped up to take on Big Pharma and they are very large population tribes far off from California. I want every tribe and tribal health provider in the United States, big or small, to show Big Pharma that all tribal governments have been harmed and deserve to be compensated for their losses,” said Michael Hunter, chairman of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. He went on to say, “enough is enough, I am proud to say we are the first tribe in the West to sue.”

In addition to holding major drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic, the tribe hopes to be able to provide more resources for education, treatment, preventative services, and the tribe’s public safety needs.

“As soon as I learned that counties, cities and states were filing suit I tasked my legal counsel, Ceiba Legal, to evaluate our options. We decided to retain Beggs & Lane, Frazer, PLC and the Kuykendall Group to file suit on our behalf. Now I want to raise awareness among tribal leaders that there is a way to hold Big Pharma accountable. We can’t let others decide our fate for us,” said Hunter.

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PRESIDENT AUTHORIZES DECLASSIFICATION

House Intelligence Committee Report On FISA Abuses

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag showed up, ate breakfast and took off again for his girlfriend's house. Prediction: We'll be feeding a whole new generation of Skrags in about a month!”

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(DRAFT OF PROCLAMATION for consideration at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting)

Proclamation of The Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors Recognizing Tribal Members of the Little River Band of Pomo Indians for their Heroic Efforts Fighting the Redwood Complex Fire

Whereas, A wind-whipped fire storm starting in the middle of the night on Sunday, October 8, 2017, furiously traveled at a high speed from the neighboring valley of Potter west into Redwood Valley; and

Whereas, the glow of the fire storm was visible in the hills at midnight by tribal members and by 12:30 am on Monday people were being notified door to door to prepare to leave their homes followed by a full evacuation as the fire was quickly approaching; and

Whereas, the community went into full action with some turning off gas at residences while others of the tribe ran for the newly purchased water truck to hose down houses, a tractor to grade fire lines around the community, the ATV and a close by neighbor who was alerted showed up with a Bobcat; and

Whereas, a crew of tribal men fought the fire through the night saving all but three homes even though the raging fire came within inches of most houses on the Rancheria. The work they did, even though untrained as fire fighters, diverted further disaster away from their nearby neighbors.

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Mendocino, hereby recognizes Ryan Hoel, Anthony Nevarez, Matt Smith, Matthew Espinoza, Rodney Espinoza, Steven Espinoza, Rudy Flores, Donny Nevarez, Mark Ray, Eddie Nevarez and Joseph Gutierrez for their great heroism during the most horrific disaster Mendocino County has faced.

Thank You.

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HERE’S THE KIND of after the fact move Mendo makes all too often, compounded by a lack of even a basic description of the work to be done, the amount of money involved or a reason for the nearly five months of services not contractually approved. (Recall that as far as official Mendo is concerned, Assistant CEO Alan Flora was unceremoniously dismissed without notice because official Mendo said he approved a couple of routine contract amendments without asking the Board of Supervisors or CEO Angelo (“Mommy may I”) first. We hear rumors that Flora is about to sue the County for his precipitous firing.)

AGENDA ITEM 5a. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, Feb. 6, 2018: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Retroactive Amendment to Purchasing Agent Agreement 17-149 with Allvest Information Services Inc., dba Assessments.com, dba Vant4ge.com, Extending the Termination Date from September 30, 2017 to September 30, 2018. (Sponsor: Probation)”

THAT'S IT, the entire item.

THIS UTAH-BASED COMPANY, Allvest Information Services Inc, aka Assessments.com, aka Van4ge.com, is “one of the nation’s leading providers of software and other services to help state and county probation agencies more effectively and efficiently manage their day-to-day activities. Juvenile justice departments in states like Washington, Florida, Wyoming and Montana, and counties like Los Angeles, San Diego and many others find the features and benefits of Assessments.com juvenile justice software to be the ideal solution for their intake, risk and needs assessment, case management and reporting requirements.” The software allegedly performs “scientifically validated risk and needs assessments.”

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, Mendo hired a very expensive retired Sonoma County Probation honcho as a consultant who came with reams of professional credentials. Yet here we are several months later and his Probation Department is asking the Board of Supervisors to approve a blank check for mystery “services” without explanation or amount. The fact that this item even made it onto the consent agenda in this vague form is a good indicator of the attitude of the CEO and her staff: “Hell, just throw it up there. They'll approve it. They’ve approved worse. They approve everything. No problem.” And, sorry to say, she’s probably right.

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HUMMINGBIRD

(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Judy Valadao)

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ED NOTES

AS A CANDIDATE for the KZYX board of trustees, and as a paid-up member off and on for many years of that secret society, I've been tuning in more lately. This morning I heard about half a program on the County's foster home system, now mostly privatized under the Camille Schraeder's local social services conglomerate.

MY WIFE AND I functioned as foster parents for many years, an experience that rendered me especially a lifelong enemy of the system. For starters, social workers and the kindred professions, most of them anyway, are persons of limited ability and less sophistication, and I don't mean Noel Coward-like sophistication, I mean simply what might be called "life experience," an ability to understand and sympathize. And most of them that I dealt with over the years had never had children and didn't seem to particularly like children. (Yes, I know I'm generalizing, but I'm generalizing from my experience.)

THE OVERALL PROBLEM with the non-system of foster care is that it provides exactly the opposite of what a child needs, especially a child of chaos, which is stability in the form of order, predictability, stability, which most middleclass children get because their parents can afford to provide even if the parents themselves are batshit crazy. Most children who wind up in the foster non-system are typically bounced from home to home until they're 18 and tossed out on to the street. They arrive in the system already so screwed up that most people aren't going to be able to deal with them. The un-screwed up little kids are often adopted by their foster parents. Most dependent children should have been removed from unfit homes, at the latest, when they were pre-schoolers. By the time they are finally removed, most are very difficult indeed and often have to be placed in severe group homes or lock-up facilities.

"PROGRESSIVE" Mendocino County, according to the nice lady I listened to this morning, sends about 30% of dependent children to institutions or homes outside of Mendocino County. (She also had the annoying habit, to me anyway, of referring to foster children as "kiddos," as if they were Jack and Jill going up the hill with their faithful dog Spot to water the family dope garden, er, fetch a pail of water.)

AS OUR SOCIETY CRUMBLES, more and more children are raised in conditions of in-home chaos and severe fiscal shortfall, so short mom, and occasionally mom and pop, don't have the money to properly care for the new life they've created. Our society, dominated by free enterprise buccaneers, monetizes the children of the growing underclass, providing a raft of good-paying jobs for people with social work diplomas.

DURING the halcyon days of yesteryear, unwanted, un-provided for children were placed permanently in orphanages which, by the way, were not the snakepits of abuse they are latterly assumed to have been. There are any number of affectionate memoirs by orphanage grads. The abuse really kicked in when children were privatized beginning in the early 1960s.

GIVEN THE GIVENS of the present system, especially given the big money involved, there's no way to reform the dependent child business, and make no mistake it is a business. And just try to find out how effective Mendo's dispatch of dependent children is. We'll never know; contrary to the collabo propaganda coming out of the Superior Court about how private citizens oversee this or that kid. It's a bad system resistant to change, and has now damaged about four generations of poor people.

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THE LATE Christopher Hitchens once did a funny riff on the "ASA people," professional whiners from this or that interest group who always begin their comments with, "As a single mother… As a long-time activist…" Etc. An infamous deadbeat of a local "activist" always began her endless presentations with, "As a mother of two children...." As if she were the first woman to manage the feat. Of course here in Mendo only a thin line separates "activism" from exhibitionism.

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HOW ABOUT MENDO?

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has announced it will expunge thousands of misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession dating back to 1975. The move comes after recreational marijuana use was legalized in California this year. That paved the way to have previous low-level offenses dropped, but it required a costly petition process that San Francisco authorities have decided to bypass. George Gascón, the city’s district attorney, said his office will automatically erase about 3,000 convictions, while an additional 4,900 felony convictions will be reviewed to determine if they can be downgraded to misdemeanor charges. “A lot of people don’t even know they qualify, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to make people pay lawyers’ fees and jump through a bunch of hoops to get something they should be getting anyway,” Gascón told The New York Times. San Diego has also said it will forgive previous convictions, having identified about 4,700 that will either be wiped out or downgraded.

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ANY CHANCE ICE MIGHT DO THIS HERE?

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has formalized a policy allowing deportation agents to make arrests at federal, state, and local courthouses, a move that has been widely panned by advocacy groups. In a two-page directive issued Wednesday, the agency said courthouse arrests will target only specific threats, including convicted criminals, gang members, public safety threats, and immigrants who’ve previously been deported. The directive says family and friends accompanying “the target alien” for courthouse appearances will not face arrest unless “special circumstances” arise. Judges and advocacy groups have warned that courthouse arrests in deportation cases instill fear among crime victims and witnesses, but ICE on Wednesday appeared to blame sanctuary cities for the new policy. The directive, signed by acting ICE director Thomas Homan, said the “increasing unwillingness of some jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the safe and orderly transfer of targeted aliens inside their prisons and jails has necessitated additional at-large arrests.”

FEDERAL IMMIGRATION AGENTS raided 77 businesses in Northern California this week, demanding proof that their employees are legally allowed to work in the United States, officials said Thursday.

The businesses were given three working days to comply with the order, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said.

It was believed to be the largest such localized sweep of workplaces since President Trump took office. Thomas Homan, the agency’s interim director, has called for a large increase in such raids in recent months.

ICE did not identify any of the businesses its agents raided in the Bay Area and Sacramento region Monday through Wednesday. Agents made no immediate arrests, ICE said.

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NO BAIL JOE

On 01-21-2018 at approximately 9:33 AM a Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy made contact with Joseph Hoaglen, 34, of Covelo in the 76000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo.

The Deputy conducted a warrants/probation check of Hoaglen and learned he was on felony probation in Mendocino County. The Deputy also learned Hoaglen had an active probation order of arrest for violation of mandatory supervision [1170(h)(5)(b) PC]. The Deputy confirmed the active probation order of arrest with Hoaglen's probation officer. Hoaglen was subsequently placed under arrest for Felony Violation of Mandatory Supervision and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no bail status.

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TAKE THIS, HARV

AVA,

Happy New Year greetings!

You may recall last year I informed AVA online readers that I had experienced corruption of a republican campaign by the Democratic Party of California by the USPS in San Francisco on a package of Ron Paul for President 2012 campaign materials I had paid $82 to ship to Humboldt County on 27 April was not fouind until 03 August. The USPS claimed the package was lost due to a missing label, but in truth, it was received heavily damaged, as if someone had repeatedly kicked it until it busted open. Mr. Harvey Reading asked to see the USPS statement which I enclose for you to publish on line. I’ve only crossed out the name and address of the addressed party and my phone number.

Respectfully,

B.B. Grace

Fort Bragg

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FOOD SHED NEWS

This Friday – Community Soup Night - Friday February 2, 2018

Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Crème Fraiche and fresh baked bread

Come enjoy a bowl of fresh, homemade soup, made with local, organic ingredients, served with our freshly baked breads and, of course, great wines to pair! Served from 5-7pm, just $10 for a hearty soup bowl and bread, and wine specials for $5 or $6 per glass. Usually live music, always great food and wine and the best company!

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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.

From our vendors...

Anderson Valley Community Farm will be at the Boonville Winter Market again this Saturday selling our frozen spring lamb and pork, ground beef, lard, hot sauce, pepper jelly, olive oil, and olive oil soap varieties.

JD Varietals should make an appearance at the Winter Market on Saturday. The weather promises to be quite nice.

Natural Products of Boonville (Naturalproductsofboonville.com) plans on being there with lion's manes and hopefully a few shiitakes.

Petit Teton plans to be at market with meats, veggies, and VAPs (value added products!)...aka canned goodies.

The Yorkville Olive Ranch will be at the Winter Market on Saturday.

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Local Pork for Sale

Mendocino Heritage Pork Co. has a few more shares available for our upcoming harvest. Whole , half , and quarter shares of our locally raised, gmo free pork. Custom butchered just the way you like it. Contact John by phone 707-376-5563 or by email jbemesderfer@gmail.com.

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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 dkooyers@gmail.com(707) 895-2325.

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Onion & Leek Starts

Bunny Bill will be at the Winter Abundance Workshop with Onion and Leek starts. Onion varieties are Red River, Copra, Walla Walla, and a few Cippolini and Silver Star (white). $5 per bundle. Advance orders welcome 895-2609.

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Botany & Plant Identification Class

Jade Paget-Seekins is going to be teaching an 8 session basic botany and plant identification class in Boonville through the Adult School on Tuesday afternoons (2:30 - 5:30) from Feb. 20th to April 10th. This class is open to all levels and will feature recently picked plant specimens for students to learn from, study, and dissect. The class will focus on native and food plants, learning plant families, and some genera and species, as well as some basics of how plants work and how to use keys to identify plants. Please contact her for more information at sagejade@gmail.com or 895-3354.

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MORE PERIL FOR BEACON/ADVOCATE, UDJ, THE WILLITS NEWS

Layoffs Across DFM Newspaper Chain Are Part Of Hedge Fund's Profit-Extraction Strategy

Recent company-wide layoffs at Digital First Media newspapers are part of a calculated strategy to extract maximum profits in the next two to three years…

dfmworkers.org/layoffs-across-dfm-newspaper-chain-are-part-of-hedge-funds-profit-extraction-strategy

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DROUGHT BACK?

A US. agency says more of California is rapidly plunging back into drought, with severe conditions now existing in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties - home to one-fourth of the state's population.

The weekly report released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor also shows 44 percent of the state is now considered to be in a moderate drought.

It's a dramatic jump from just last week, when the figure was 13 percent.

At the peak of California's recently ended five-year drought, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered 25 percent water conservation in cities and towns and declared a drought emergency.

Heavy rains in Northern California last year finally snapped the drought, and Brown declared the emergency over in April.

But the drought never really seemed to end in some Southern California areas, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles received only one significant rain in almost the last 12 months.

In Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which are about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, the lack of rain and dry vegetation were perfect fuel for a December wildfire that grew to be the largest recorded in state history. When it finally rained, the scorched earth turned into deadly mudslides.

The most recent weekly U.S. drought monitor, a product of the federal government and others, shows only small patches of the state, in Southern California, in the mildest form of drought. That compares to 2014 and 2015, some of the driest years in history in California, when much of the state was rated as in the most severe categories of drought.

In the middle of the state's winter rain and snow season, no rain is in the forecast. In Southern California, "it really is pretty grim," said Swain, who has tracked the stubborn weather patterns blocking rain from the state's south for years.

Doug Carlson, spokesman for the state's Department of Water Resources, which carries out the snowpack surveys, said the dry weather is a growing concern, although reservoirs are still fuller than usual thanks to last year's rain in Northern California.

Considerations of what constitutes a drought vary, and include: rainfall, the state of waterways, soil dryness, and other measures. Any decision to declare a new drought emergency if the winter remains dry, or later, would be up to Brown.

(Associated Press)

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Lewis

THIS KID, identified as Shalom Lewis, was arrested Wednesday for a school break-in in Fort Bragg. His photo is among the most despairing I've seen recently. Maybe he's assessing what drugs have done to him and vowing to himself to get straight and stay that way. There's at least a regiment of young people similar to this guy wandering around the Northcoast with no work, no hope.

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WITH CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT HEADING TO BOARD, Mercer-Fraser President Flew Humboldt County Supervisor and Staff to Sacramento Event in a Private Plane

by Ryan Burns

Two weeks ago, at a festive reception and awards ceremony in downtown Sacramento, First District Supervisor Rex Bohn was installed as chair of the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC). The organization is an influential lobbying group that represents 35 California counties, and until two weeks ago no Humboldt County supervisor had ever served as the group’s chair. So Bohn’s ascension to the position was cause for celebration, and indeed, a good-sized entourage made the trip to Sacramento to commemorate the occasion.

Four of the county’s five supervisors were in attendance, along with several prominent local business leaders, some members of county staff, State Senator Mike McGuire and others. Below are some photos posted to Facebook by Tracy D’Amico, deputy clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

Some of these folks drove down to the state Capitol. Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass, who was already heading to Sacramento for a meeting of the California State Association of Counties, said she managed to keep up with the lead-footed Bohn until Willits, where she lost sight of him.

But others traveled in private planes on flights donated by two local business leaders. One plane, a 2004 Pilatus PC-12 (pictured here), is owned by ACV Group LLC, a corporation whose CEO, Justin Zabel, is president of local construction firm Mercer-Fraser — a company with a controversial project currently pending before the Board of Supervisors.

Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was on that flight, though he opted to pay for his seat (more on that in a minute). Two county staffers — Chief Administrative Officer Amy Nilsen and Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Kathy Hayes — were also on the flight.

A second plane, belonging to Shafer’s Ace Hardware owner Jack Rieke, carried Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell, D’Amico and Sheriff William Honsal — this according to the county’s public information officer, Sean Quincey, who said the staffers were on the clock.

“Nobody took overtime as everyone is a management & confidential employee,” Quincey said in an email. “Honsal took 2 hours of vacation (he was in plain clothes for the trip).”

All but Sundberg rode for free, and Quincey said those who had the flight donated to them will be required to report the gift to the state’s Fair Political Practices Association through a Statement of Economic Interest — Form 700.

In an email Fennell said Rieke had been invited to the event and had room on his plane. “It was a great way to get to the meeting and Rex’s swearing in all in a half a day.”

Sundberg told the Outpost he paid $217 for his seat on the Zabel-run corporation’s plane because as a governor’s appointee to the California Coastal Commission he has to do everything by the book. “There are strict rules,” he said. “They could kick you off if you took something for free from a transportation company.” He said he wrote a personal check for the $217 “so I had proof.”

This fare, according to Zabel, was calculated by taking the total operating costs and dividing them by the number of passengers.

Photos from the RCRC event posted on social media show the four supervisors — Sundberg, Bohn, Bass and Fennell — celebrating Bohn’s new position with a variety of local guests. Zabel was there along with Rob McBeth of Arcata’s O&M Industries, Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson (who was also in Sacramento on other county business), former Eureka City Manager and current Humboldt Community Services District board member David Tyson, Sheriff Honsal, Rieke, D’Amico, and Terra Carver, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, a marijuana industry group.

Bohn’s son Trevor also posted photos from the event, including this one, which shows Zabel in the background:

Mercer-Fraser, as you may recall, is currently petitioning the county with a controversial re-zone request for property it owns along the Mad River near Glendale. The Eureka construction firm wants the zoning on its 13.5-acre parcel changed to heavy industrial so it can build a 5,000-square-foot commercial cannabis extraction manufacturing facility (a hash lab, effectively) onsite.

A recommendation to approve the rezone request — along with a special permit for the manufacturing facility — was narrowly approved by the Humboldt County Planning Commission earlier this month despite vociferous objections from some local residents and dire warnings from staff and board members of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, who turned out in force to argue that allowing heavy industrial activity on the property, which lies entirely within the Mad River’s 100-year floodplain, would jeopardize the water supply for roughly two-thirds of Humboldt County residents.

Project proponents, meanwhile, noted that Mercer-Fraser has had a gravel mining operation at that location for years, and the underlying land use designation was already changed during the county’s General Plan Update process, along with other properties upstream. Therefore, they argue, the zoning needs to be changed for the sake of consistency with the established land use. And they say that since the cannabis extraction facility would operate on a closed-loop system it poses no risk the the nearby water supply.

The rezone and special permit request is now being appealed to the Board of Supervisors, meaning Sundberg will play a key role in deciding whether to approve or deny the Mercer-Fraser request. And some say the Fifth District supervisor opened himself to criticism by accepting a ride on Zabel’s plane, whether he paid for the seat or not.

“I would think this would raise a lot of concerns for people in the community,” said Ryan Emenaker, a professor of political science at College of the Redwoods.

Emenaker said there are two ways to look at the ethical requirements of elected officials. One is by the letter of the law, and Emenaker said he’d be surprised if Sundberg’s actions violated any legal statutes. “But the higher-level requirement is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” he said. Sundberg’s plane ride, he believes, crossed that line.

“I would like to get that flight, too, [but] nobody’s going to offer it to me,” Emenaker said. He noted that there are no commercial flights between Humboldt County and Sacramento, and regarding Sundberg he said, “You’re getting this additional perk purely because of the position you’re in. I think it would at least appear to the broader public that the reason this benefit was extended was to influence or sway the vote in some way.”

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Zabel seemed to find that suggestion absurd. He said the flight was his idea and had been planned for weeks. “I was already going that way,” he said. Told that some might consider it inappropriate for a CEO with a controversial project before the county to donate private plane rides to county staff and an elected official, Zabel insisted that’s not how things work.

“Wouldn’t you agree that any project that comes before the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors, it’s not a matter of whether you know or don’t know [the applicant]; it’s based on the merits of the project?” Zabel said. He added that the plane is available for anyone to lease.

The Outpost asked Sundberg whether hitching a ride on Zabel’s plane creates at least the appearance of impropriety.

“I hope not,” he said. “I mean, I had to pay the full amount.”

Sundberg went on to say that if not for the ride on Zabel’s plane he wouldn’t have been able to attend the RCRC event because he needed to be at a “State of McKinleyville” meeting the following morning. He also said he planned to meet with both the Humboldt Municipal Water District and Mercer-Fraser personnel in an effort to “work something out”

Zabel, it should be noted, is Sundberg’s appointee to the county’s Aviation Advisory Committee. Is Sundberg’s relationship with Zabel too cozy? Kathleen Lee, a lecturer in the politics department at Humboldt State University, said such distinctions can be tough to draw in the realm of local politics.

“When you look at the way local government operates, there’s a lot of cronyism behind the scenes, just because it involves so many personal relationships,” Lee said, speaking about local governments generally and not Humboldt County in particular. “People get elected not so much because of their ideological or political positions but because they have more contacts in the community.”

Lee agreed with Emenaker that elected officials should consider both the letter of the law and appearances. “But when you come down to appearances, bad appearances is something that needs to be addressed at the ballot box,” Lee said.

Asked to comment specifically on Sundberg’s decision to fly on Zabel’s plane, Lee said, “It seems very cozy, especially seeing as you have a pending controversial upcoming decision.” But she also noted that county supervisors aren’t like judges; they’re not required to be impartial.

“They have a perspective,” she said. “I think you see this with the entirety of the burgeoning cannabis economy. There’s been this interesting ideological flip.” Liberal local elected officials, she said, “tend to want more restrictions than [the officials] who tend to be more conservative, more pro-business.”

Now that cannabis operations are legitimate business in California, established business leaders like Zabel are getting in on the game. And they have friends in high places. Supervisors, Lee said, come into office with “a whole set of relationships in the community. It’s generally why they get elected.”

Bass made a similar point. “We all know each other in this community; we’re all friends,” she said. “A lot of us have been friends way prior to our political world.”

But Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper and a critic of Mercer-Fraser’s Glendale project, said personal relationships shouldn’t be allowed to influence public policy.

“I’m constantly shocked how people just shrug and act like the oligarchy of developers around here is just the way it is, like there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said. As for Sundberg’s flight to Sacramento, Kalt said, “I think it’s outrageous.”

People contacted for this story seem to fall into one of two categories — those who see accepting a ride on Zabel’s plane as a clear breach of political protocol, a decision that calls into question the validity of the pending Mercer-Fraser decision, and those who are taken aback by that perspective, unable to see any cause for concern.

Humboldt County Planning and Building Department Director John H. Ford said via email that Mercer-Fraser’s Glendale project won’t come to the board before late February and more likely early March.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 1, 2018

Anderson, Fuentes, Hensley

AUSTIN ANDERSON, Ukiah. Under influence, sale and transport of controlled substance.

LLUAN FUENTES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, county parole violation.

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

Moore, Silvey, Spring

TRAVIS MOORE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

HEATHER SILVEY, San Jose/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ERIC SPRING, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Let me be completely honest: I don’t give a flying fig about Russia, Russia hacking, Russia meddling, Russia collusion or any other screwball thing related to Russia. What I do care about is what’s going on in this country. I do care that the man who ran on a campaign of “non-intervention” is currently building military bases in East Syria, stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, supporting counterinsurgency operations across Africa, facing off with Turkey, providing bombs for the ongoing genocide in Yemen, threatening North Korea with total annihilation, and pledging to build a new regime of “usable” nuclear weapons. That’s what worries me, not Russia. But what worries me even more is that, just when we need a strong, highly-principled, credible opposition party to fight the good fight for wages, the environment, social services, education, infrastructure, civil liberties, and peace – the Democrats have turned into jello, a wobbly, gelatinous mass of ingratiating losers. What’s that all about?

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HOW ABOUT US?

Editor:

In the State of the Union speech, President Donald Trump said: “To everyone still recovering (from the natural disasters) in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, everywhere, we are with you. We love you, and we always will pull through together. Always.”

We love you? Always? Well, apparently except for California. Where was our state in that pouring out of love, compassion and support? Where was the president during the most devastating series of fires in the history of California? Or the mudslides resulting from the fires? Did he even come to our state to assess damage or comfort the people who lost everything? Where’s the caring brotherhood he alludes to in his speech?

Trump is famous for going off-script during his speeches. It’s a shame he couldn’t have had the human decency to do it this time and include our state in his apparent concern.

Oh, wait. Of course. Trump won Texas, Florida and Louisiana in the election. He lost California. One shudders to think that this might be the reason he, the president of all of the country, ignored an important member of the American family. Petty, sad and frightening.

Martina Lewis

Santa Rosa

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"SOUTHERN BIGHORN FOOTHILLS, N. of Point of Mt. Road"

(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Harvey Reading

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THE CONSCIOUS and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

—Edward Bernays

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THE GOOD NEWS

A Croatian big game hunter was preparing to shoot a lion during a hunting expedition in South Africa when he himself was shot and killed.

Pero Jelinic, whose friends say had "hunted everything that could be hunted in Europe," had already killed one lion and was sighting in a second Saturday at a remote lodge near Setiagole, according to Total Croatia News.

Initially, the bullet that hit Jelinic was described as "stray," but police are now investigating the incident as a possible homicide.

The lions were captive-bred. They had been farm-raised to be hunted in a legal yet controversial sport often called "canned hunting."

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MY TEACHER

by Rosa Montero, translated by Louis S. Bedrock

She was my literary teacher and a teacher is that person that shows you the path toward the sublime; an unreachable plateau; a lantern in the night.

I have not been her only disciple. Ursula K. Le Guin has had an enormous influence upon several generations although this has never been acknowledged. Harry Potter draws upon her wonderful books about Earthsea and Avatar is indebted to her novel The Word for World Is Forest.

She is considered one of the most important science fiction writers of all time along Asimov and Bradbury (she’s won five Hugo Awards and six Nebulas); however, that very fact, the bias against that literary genre along with her being a woman and having an independent character not disposed to social appearances, has kept her from the acclaimed position that for me she truly occupies—which is that of one of the best writers of the twentieth century.

The major part of her novels, including those two masterpieces, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, takes place on Ekumen, a world composed of a series of humanoid societies which, after having the same origin, have spread to other planets developing some very different cultures through which Ursula has dissected the human condition.

She is the daughter of two famous anthropologists and in her work throbs the passion to understand the strange creatures we are. Entering her books is an extraordinary experience; it is learning something about yourself that you did not know; it is feeling that you are at the point of discovering your place in the world.

There are authors who are good at analyzing the psychology of their characters; in contrast, social structure is the strong point of other writers. But only the geniuses like Le Guin are capable of dealing with the infinitesimal and the cosmic at the same time: the simmering of microscopic creatures in a drop of water and the breathtaking rotation of balls of fire in space.

She herself was like that—a union of opposites: small and fragile but with an indomitable personality; humble and generous, but with the pride of someone who is conscious of her talent; poetic and light like a breath of air but with a devastating intellectual capacity.

She sought serenity; she lit up the darkness with her keen sense of humor. She died, I’m told, gently. With the marvelous elegance she always had.

The North American writer Ursula Le Guin in her house in Portland, Oregon. (Dan Tuffs, Getty Images)

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CALTRANS DISTRICT 1 ROAD INFORMATION BULLETIN, MENDOCINO COUNTY

Route 1 (104) - Emergency slide repairs at 1 mile South Mill Bank Resort will continue. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 24 hours a day. Motorist should anticipate 5-minute delays. LC#T1VA

Route 20 (20) -- Routine Maintenance at James Creek Bridge to Three Chop Road will begin on Monday, February 5. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays. LC#W20BA

Route 20 (36.8) -- Guardrail work at Lake Mendocino Park East Entrance will occur on Friday, February 2. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 15-minute delays. LC#M20AA

Route 101 (3.1/5.94) - Slide repairs from Commisky Station Road to the Pieta Creek Bridge will continue. Northbound traffic will be reduced to one lane 24 hours a day. Motorists should anticipate minor traffic slowdowns.

Route 101 (4.5/5.0) - Routine maintenance near Frog Woman Rock will continue. Northbound traffic will be restricted to one lane 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should anticipate minor traffic slowdowns.

Route 101 (33/42) - Emergency wildfire repairs at Ridgewood Ranch Road will continue. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 24 hours a day weekdays. Motorist should anticipate 15-minute delays.

Route 101 (96/96.3) - Utility Work at .50 miles south of Dora Creek Bridge will occur on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 6 and 7. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days. Motorist should anticipate 15-minute delays.

Route 101 (104/107) - Emergency slide repairs at Piercy will continue. Lane restrictions will be in effect 24 hours a day. Motorist should minor traffic slowdowns.

Route 162 (16.5) - Wall work at The Middle Way will continue. One-way traffic control with a temporary stop signs will be in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays.

Route 175 (5.6/9.1) - Emergency storm damage repairs at various locations from 1.7 miles east of Buckman Drive to the Lake/Mendocino County line will continue. One-way traffic control with a temporary traffic signal will be in effect 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays.

Route 271 (3.5/5.2) - PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for tree work from Grizzley Creek Culvert to Cedar Creek Bridge on Monday, February 5. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays.

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