- FB Voting
- Beer Fest
- Truck Overturned
- Hum Kana
- Metrics Hard
- Kingman Trilogy
- Little Dog
- Guv Newsom
- Ed Notes
- New Life
- Blank Thoughts
- Corporate Green
- Yesterday's Catch
- Idiot Dems
- Wild Iris
- Progressive Gayle
- Clown Brand
- Book Festival
- Hendy Invasives
- Hearing Postponed
- Bridge Stories
- Oil Corruption
- The Death of Journalism
The City of Fort Bragg currently elects its five City Council Members at-large. Under this voting system, each Fort Bragg registered voter has the right and opportunity to vote for all open City Council seats in a City Council election. For example, under the current voting system, voters will have the opportunity to vote for three candidates for the three open City Council Member seats in November, 2018. Under a district-based election system, voters within a district have the opportunity to vote for only one candidate running for City Council within their district.
On April 17, 2018 the City received a letter from a local attorney. The letter states that based on a thorough investigation and analysis of demographic and electoral information concerning past Fort Bragg elections, the represented Committee believes the City’s current at-large election system may violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA). The CVRA expands on the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and makes it easier for minority groups to successfully sue and eliminate at-large election systems. Under the CVRA, minimal evidence of racially polarized voting can result in a court order requiring a city to change from an at-large to district-based voting. “Racially polarized voting” occurs when there is a difference between the choice of candidates preferred by voters in a protected class and the choice of candidates preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate.
The local attorney’s letter points out that none of the California jurisdictions with at-large voting systems that have been charged with alleged violations of the CVRA have prevailed in court action. Under the CVRA, the prevailing plaintiff is allowed attorney’s fees, which have, in some cases, reached into the millions of dollars.
More recent legislation created a “safe harbor provision” to protect jurisdictions from CVRA litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. Under Elections Code Section 10010, a prospective plaintiff must send the clerk of the city a written notice asserting that the City’s election process may violate the CVRA. If, within 45 days of the city receiving this notice, the city adopts a resolution outlining its intention to transition from an at-large to a district-based election system, the potential plaintiff is barred from suing the city for 90 days after the resolution is passed. So long as the City implements district-based elections within those 90 days, the legal fees that a prospective plaintiff can recover are capped at $30,000.
If Fort Bragg does not declare its intent to change the election system within 45 days (or by June 1st) and fails to adopt the change within 90 days of declaring its intent, it is subject to litigation and the prospect of paying the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs that may reach well into the six and seven figures.
Setting up small electoral districts in Fort Bragg may not actually serve the purposes set forth under the CVRA - to ensure there is more opportunity for minority group representation. On the other hand, defending a challenge to this action could likely cost the City a substantial amount of money. The City Council is faced with a very difficult decision. It is critical that they get as much public input on this issue as possible. Your civic participation is greatly appreciated.
A special City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at Town Hall to discuss this matter, receive public comment and for City Council to provide staff direction. To submit your comments in advance of the special City Council meeting, email the City Clerk, June Lemos, at firstname.lastname@example.org
SATURDAY MORNING RAIN, damp pavement, cool temps and overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of the thousands of mostly youngish dudes and dudettes who attended the Boonville Beer Festival Saturday afternoon. The beer fans gave the impression of a flash mob as they descended on Boonville and lined up for their $50 tasting cups at the Boonville Fairgrounds, with cars parked up and down the Boonville stretch of Highway 128. Then they disappeared just about as fast after 5pm without any reports of problems — judging from the scanner traffic.
PETS OF THE WEEK
Rick is a handsome, 2 year old, neutered male. He's unique looking with different colored eyes. Rick knows some commands and is eager to please, so we think he'll learn the rules of his new home quickly. Rick needs a patient guardian who will shower him with love and help him gain confidence. Rick has been on play dates and outings around Ukiah with a shelter volunteer who told us Rick has great indoor manners, is gentle and an “all around good egg.” You can find out more about Rick on his personal webpage: http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/dogblog/rick.
Gertrude is a lovely senior cat. She’s a 13 year old, spayed, long hair Manx. In the morning while her accommodations are being cleaned, she enjoys wandering the cat rooms and finding little nooks and cranny's to explore. We love how one ear is down and one stands straight up!
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah, and adoption hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday from 10 am to 6:30 pm. To see photos and bios of the shelter's adoptable animals, please visit online at: www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Join us the second Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
A READER WRITES: Sometime between 4 & 5 PM Friday, a loaded log truck overturned on 128 near Mile Marker 10, spilling the logs across the highway. Traffic in both directions was stopped until CalTrans could bring in heavy equipment to move the logs. The driver was transported to a hospital.
AV FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila clarifies: A logging truck heading east bound on Hwy 128 tipped over its tractor and loaded trailer while rounding the curve at MM 9.75. Fortunately the truck did not collide with any oncoming vehicles and managed to avoid a head-on impact with any of the many redwood trees in that area. The driver was transported to Mendocino Coast hospital with minor injuries. The vehicle and load remained, blocking the west bound lane until a heavy tow was able to remove the wreck. AVFD and a Boonville Calfire engine assisted CalTrans cleanup of the fluid spilled on the highway creating a slip hazard. CalTrans was able to use a loader to remove the logs from the highway. The roadway was finally cleared and fire units were released four hours after time of dispatch.
COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO, on Flow Kana, the big pot processing and distribution conglomerate that bought the old Fetzer vineyard property and has converted it into a marijuana procurement and distribution factory:
“In talking with the leadership of Flow Kana [at their big gala ribbon cutting ceremony in Redwood Valley which many locals pols and officials were invited to], what I learned was that a lot of their product that they are processing and manufacturing is actually from southern Humboldt County. The reason is, honestly, they could grow more and so they have cannabis coming — whether the cannabis from here in Mendocino County can actually support Flow Kana or not I don't know. But it was interesting to hear that a lot of their product is coming from Humboldt County.”
Supervisor/Board Chair Dan Hamburg:
“I was a little bit disappointed that I did not recognize more of our farmers at the event. I saw Casey O'Neil [Emerald Growers Association president] and a lot of other people, but yes, it was clear that Humboldt was well represented. They bussed in maybe 100 or so people from San Francisco Bay area who are involved in the business. There's a lot going on out there.”
CEO ANGELO ON Why It’s So Gol-Darn Hard to provide ordinary monthly departmental reports to the Board of Supervisors:
“We are working on identifying and measuring departmental metrics. This is an area we are lacking. It takes time. It takes resources. What we have done with the leadership initiative and the work groups that have developed is we have a work group that's dealing with metrics. And it's probably the slowest and the most difficult process to actually do when you have an organization of 1200 people and multiple different services that we provide.”
BRUCE McEWEN WRITES:
Local author Peg Kingman has finished her third novel, the crown to her Scotch Trilogy, as it were. And while it is not quite as intoxicating as single malt whisky to women, not so much for our drunk and dirty Scotchmen as used to being in charge, in a Sir Walter Scott sort of way, as it were, and yet but still. If you haven’t read the first two, visit the library and check ’em like out, dude.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag says the kids aren't his. Now what? I'm a liberal and all so I don't have anything against cross-species adoptions, but I'm too old to raise children!”
GAVIN NEWSOM SAYS CALIFORNIA OFFICIALS LET HOMELESS PROBLEM GET ‘OUT OF CONTROL’ AND ‘WE OWN IT’
by J.D. Morris
California’s homeless problem has “never been worse,” and state officials aren’t doing enough to reduce the number of people living without shelter, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday in Santa Rosa.
Newsom, who is running to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, said if elected he will make homelessness a top priority of his administration, just as it was when he served as mayor of San Francisco for seven years starting in 2004. But local governments cannot address homelessness alone, and the state government needs to play a larger role in marshaling resources and setting aggressive goals, Newsom said in an hourlong interview with The Press Democrat’s editorial board.
Homelessness is “out of control,” he said. “The state’s nowhere to be found on it, hasn’t been focused on this for decades. It’s happened on our watch. We own it.”
Newsom, now in his second term as lieutenant governor, is the current front-runner in a gubernatorial field that includes three other Democrats: former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin. Republican contenders include businessman John Cox, and Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach.
In the interview Friday, Newsom outlined his campaign platform and addressed questions on a range of topics, including the state’s housing crunch, his support for the embattled high-speed rail project and creation of a state bank to serve cannabis commerce and worthy public projects.
When he was San Francisco mayor 14 years ago, Newsom set a moonshot goal of ending chronic homelessness in the city over a decade. That didn’t happen, he admitted, but he defended his track record nonetheless, saying the city under his watch got some 12,000 people off the street and created thousands of new supportive housing units.
“I’m always going to be a guy to advance audacious goals,” Newsom said. “I think the worst thing you can do is have small-ball goals and actually meet them. I’d rather miss audacious goals, because in the process you discover what’s possible.”
Newsom has been pushing an ambitious target to address the state’s dire housing shortage — an issue closely related to the large homeless population in Sonoma County and other parts of the state. He said he wants California to aim for building 3.5 million new homes by 2025, which would require the state to go from constructing roughly 100,000 homes per year to about 378,000 annually.
California hasn’t built that many homes in one year since 1954, Newsom said, drawing on an analysis from the McKinsey Global Institute.
“In order to do that, you have to have a different relationship with local government, because localism is determinative,” Newsom said. “And the perversity of this is not lost on me as a former mayor. Mayors are not incentivized for good behavior on housing.”
To confront the housing shortfall, Newsom said state and local government officials must have a “very, very different conversation” about how tax revenues are raised and allocated. That may require an overhaul of Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 ballot measure that restricts property tax increases, he said.
Newsom also suggested local jurisdictions should be punished in some form if they don’t meet housing goals, perhaps through withholding of state transportation funding. He called state Sen. Scott Wiener’s recently failed legislation to override local zoning rules and allow taller residential buildings near transit hubs “imperfect” in its most recent iteration, but he said it might need to be revived in some fashion.
“You’re not gonna get the kind of housing in this state unless you’re focused on density around transit,” Newsom said. “And if you’re not willing to do that? Give me a break. Never will you accomplish the goals.”
Polls have consistently found Newsom, 50, leading the field of gubernatorial contenders. The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary, regardless of political affiliation, will proceed to the November election.
Whoever ultimately succeeds Brown will be tasked with steering a state government whose policies have frequently clashed with the administration of President Donald Trump, particularly on immigration and environmental issues.
“We don’t try to pick fights, but when you attack our values, you attack our diverse communities ... you gotta push back,” Newsom said. “I remember bullies in school. You don’t do well just being subservient.”
Much of the criticism from Republican federal officials has centered around California’s Senate Bill 54. The so-called sanctuary state bill is one of three laws challenged in a recent lawsuit led by Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. Newsom lamented that the law has been widely misunderstood — by supporters and detractors alike.
“Everyone I talk to about SB 54 leaves me wondering if they’ve ever read it ... and I literally mean that,” Newsom said. “It doesn’t say what people say it says. It’s not a shield for criminal activity, but nor is it perfect in terms of shielding criminal activity.”
Asked whether he supports the call by billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer of San Francisco to impeach Trump, Newsom said it’s “pretty damn clear” to him the president obstructed investigations into whether his campaign or administration officials colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election. But he deferred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who is investigating the matter.
“Let Mueller finish his work,” Newsom said. “Then make the determination.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
GAVIN NEWSOM is likely our next Governor. Newsom is way ahead in the polls and he has the Serious Money behind him. He told the Press Democrat's Prufrockian "editorial board" that he'll make homelessness his first priority, pointing out the obvious that homelessness is inexorably rising and that local jurisdictions don't have the means to address it. ("Homelessness" is the chaste term for the gamut of aberrant behavior conducted in public.)
THE PD's comment line is a dependably seething mass of barely literate bile on all subjects, but it takes "liberals" to get the shut-ins outdoing themselves in vile denunciations and crude insults. Of course the shut-ins, ignoring Trump's technicolor sex life, brought up the candidate's sociopathic sexual adventure with his "best friend's" wife, who has since changed her name to avoid having her life totally ruined. I've always pegged the guy as an empty suit myself, but do candidates really have any choice but a ruthless superficiality? Not that I or anybody else has ever lost sleep wondering, "Gosh, I wonder what Huffman, McGuire and Wood are really like? Seriously, what are the possibilities? The mere mention of their names is instant chloroform.
WHEN NEWSOM was mayor of San Francisco he looked the libs in the eye and cancelled the city's insane cash dole. The libs pretended to be surprised that the free money went straight to drug dealers and liquor stores. But ending the policy madness took some nerve of the type mostly absent among professional officeholders. Newsom called it, "Care Not Cash." Of course as we've seen the Care was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of damaged people wandering around the city, whose numbers have grown so rapidly the city has been seriously damaged by them every which way.
CANDIDATE NEWSOM is short on the specifics of what he'd do about homelessness, but he's the first politician of any prominence to at least bring it up, at least recognize the damage it's doing, at least understand that lots of us are seriously outraged by it. How to pay for it. Maybe Newsom will abandon the ruinously expensive Train to Nowhere that Governor Brown has going from Modesto to Turlock or equivalently pointless destinations. He could also tap the political donor class, but that'll be the day.
* * *
"THIS ROOM OF INCREDIBLY talented journalists…" This improbable phrase jumped out of the picture box at me Saturday afternoon. A "journalist" with big white teeth and prominent breasts was describing the White House Correspondent's Dinner, and damned if the hackettes weren't stepping onto a stage like movie stars for their photographs. Really, does it even need saying that the White House reporters are… well, score one for Trump. He was in Michigan talking to one of his unanimous mobs, having decided to avoid this particular journalo-seraglio.
* * *
OLD TIMERS will remember when Arbor Day was celebrated in the schools. I remember a druidic ceremony in honor of trees, at the end of which we were each handed a seedling to take home and plant. Arbor Day came and went Friday with no mention that I saw.
* * *
WILLIT'S GUY LAZ comments on the psych center meeting, rocking the assumptions of many of us that it would be located in the now abandoned Willits hospital:
"It appears the poop has hit the proverbial fan for the Measure B Advisory Board. The video of the April 25th meeting is the best evidence of local community activism I’ve seen in a long time. It was calm, measured, and thoughtful for the most part. Residents and others spoke with facts and conviction against the obvious rush job to make the old Willits Hospital a mental health lockdown unit. The rush job was perpetrated by the board then denied by the board when confronted by the speakers. Quite a show, red faces all around.
The latest movie shows the Measure B Board caught flat footed, they had no idea that the City Manager of Willits would show up and speak, they had no idea the Police Chief would speak, and they had no idea a City Councilman and X-Police Chief would speak. None of them where complementary or flattering, in fact the City Manager called out a hired hand for the Howard Foundation (who owns the thing) for attempting to con the City Building Inspector into doing sort of semi-illegal things…City Manager also said the lawyers are talking…oops…
The Chairman, Sheriff Tom Allman did lectured the first speaker in a futile attempt to turn back the wave coming at him. He said the words would be better spent on the BOS, etc, etc…that was kind of opening shot and a wink wink that the fix was in, but unfortunately for the Chair and the Board it got worse from there on, much worse…and this appears to be only the beginning of the opposition… Oh yea, Willits News and the Ukiah paper has the story too, fun stuff… Check out the movie at https://youtu.be/bEJcG4vJHwk"
FROM THE FLAMES…
Orange poppies springing forth from the scorched earth. Trees bringing new lime green growth, standing proudly next to former centurions that now resemble blackened artistic sculptures. Friends and strangers rebuilding their homes and their lives.
Driving over Fountain Grove Parkway one recent morning, observing small elements of grace emerging from the loss, pain and devastation of six-plus long months ago, I was reminded that not only do these tangible mementos survive, but perhaps more importantly, the human spirit does as well … rising to the challenges it encounters along life’s path.
QUITE THE FANDANGO
Crime and punishment?
My name is Gary Blank. I am a single father of a little five-year-old girl, Eve, a veteran from the Navy and a Christian. I am currently incarcerated in Mendocino County for second-degree murder, Penal Code 187. A couple of days ago I asked my attorney that proves my innocence and my attorney "Albert Kubanis," replied that the judge and the District Attorney, David Eyster know you did not kill the victim. This is why he is willing to give you second-degree homicide with 22 years to life. I thought about this and said, So I have three choices — you are telling me that if I go to trial I get life without parole. If I don't do anything you'll give me 26 years to life which is the low end for first-degree homicide. But the district attorney is willing to give me 22 years to life to testify?
So I then said, "No deal!" I may not be a lawyer or a judge or even the district attorney, but I do know when something is wrong. And I am also good at asking loaded questions. I even asked my attorney why he took on my case. His basic reply was, "I am expected to." Hearing this and more I realized that I am dealing with people who are abusive with power. An inner circle. And people with absolutely no empathy. But they all know I am not a killer!
On the verge of feeling sick and pissed I went back to my cell to read the Anderson Valley Advertiser. While reading the paper I came across a note to the editor and I was reading about Tai Abreu in High Desert State Prison in Susanville, another Mendocino boondock botch of a case! So this is when I got curious.
Later I had a friend Google Mendocino County courts and from my understanding at one point Mendocino was on the top 10 list for being corrupt. Tai Abreu! I feel for you! This is the worst example of justice in America. In fact I feel ashamed of being an American! I feel ashamed of serving our country! I look upon this country with disgust from our bumbling president to the very sheriff who wouldn't save those kids in Florida!
It seems that our price for freedom is concrete walls and razor wire. All of these buffoons in the courts are criminals just like the judge in New York who was drunk driving and ran over a kid and fled the scene! He should have known better!
Wake up everyone because the next thing you know you could be just like me, just like Tai Abreu. These courts do not care. It is like the “Obsolete Man” from the Twilight Zone. We small people need help and we need to work together. Why is Mendocino going to tell me I am guilty no matter the physical evidence! They are not just hurting me but they are tearing apart the life of a family and a five-year-old girl. Yes! God bless America!
PS. SOS. It's sad what happened to Tai Abreu.
But also I want to bring to Mendocino County’s attention something that's very wrong and very disturbing going on in the court system here. I would know because I am crying for help also. Here is a short version of what I am experiencing.
Last week I tried to fire my attorney, Albert Kubanis, due to the fact that I have only seen him nine times in over a year. One of those times was for all of five seconds so he could hand me some paperwork that I have been begging for for the whole year! Also, he claims that me and my father did not have a close relationship which is BULL! Me and my father are very very close! When I told my attorney he did not give me all the paperwork I needed, he argued that he did and that I must have done something with it. "Come on, my cell is 9' x 9'. I can't lose anything.” Well, to make a long story short, my attorney likes to say that he always right and I am forever wrong! So when I tried to fire him Judge John Behnke asked why? My answer was all of these things above and more!
Needless to say my attorney is still being a "Dump Truck." The District Attorney, David Eyster, is still being the "Iceman" and the judge is a joker.
I need help or advice on who to contact that can fix this issue. I am not only being misrepresented but my rights are being infringed upon. I am from Humboldt County but my new house is in Costa Rica where I sell coffee. I am a Navy veteran and a single father with a God-fearing family and I want to see them again. But unlike most court system I have been to this one is putting on quite a fandango.
Mendocino County Jail
ED NOTE: Gary Blank is one of the four remaining suspects who have not taken plea bargains in the case against the seven pot trimmers who were jointly charged with the murder of Laytonville pot grower Jeffrey Settler in November of 2016. Blank was the last of the seven to be arrested.
According to a Sheriff’s press release in March of 2017:
"In late February and early March of 2017, Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were in communication with numerous state, local and federal law enforcement agencies in multiple states in efforts to try and locate and arrest Gary Louis Blank III (AKA Cricket). This included agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey as information had been provided by anonymous sources that Blank had been provided a ride from Southern California towards the northeast.
On March 10th, 2017, at approximately 9:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time), Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives were notified by Detectives from the New Jersey State Police that they had good information about Blank’s whereabouts. At 9:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time) the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the New Jersey State Police that they had located and arrested Gary Blank III at a residence in the Borough of Red Bank, New Jersey. Blank was arrested without incident and subsequently booked into the Mercer County (NJ) Jail on the Mendocino County Superior Court NO BAIL arrest warrant, for murder.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office detectives traveled to New Jersey to follow up on the arrest. This arrest concludes a 4 month apprehension effort to locate and arrest the seven suspects.”
According to a September 13, 2017 report by AVA Court Reporter Bruce McEwen:
“The preliminary hearing for the four remaining defendants in the murder of Jeffrey Settler ended Thursday morning with holding orders handed down for Gary Blank, Michael Kane, Frederick Gaestel and Jesse Wells. Among the counts they were held on were murder in the commission of a robbery and burglary of an inhabited dwelling, with several special allegations that add severity to the punishment of the crimes if the defendants are found guilty at trial. Mr. Blank’s was the simplest case, as he had confessed to stabbing the victim when he was interviewed by homicide detectives early on…”
DEBRA KEIPP REPORTS: "So I sat on city council in Point Arena when we signed a resolution to abolish corporate personhood back on April 25, 2000, almost exactly 18 years ago. Did you hear that the first business to sell out to a corporation in PA was the marijuana dispensary? The former owner of The Green Room marijuana dispensary in Point Arena has sold out to an international corporation named Green Spirit! Nate, a student of statistics, a sharp mind, and a fairly decent business person watching the trends which dominate the family business, saw the writing on the wall when it came to marijuana laws and the gutting of an already crumbling marijuana economy. Evaluating the risk, Nate said, ‘It was at about the highest risk imaginable, a money loser.’ Sorry he had to sell to a corporation, he will continue to manage The Green Room and serve as a bud tender. Here's their site."
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 28, 2018
DOUGLAS ANNIS, Talmage. Failure to appear.
JERIMIE BURGER, Healdsburg/Willits. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
BILLY DOAK JR., Navarro. Paraphernalia, large capacity magazine, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
LEE FERRELL, Fort Bragg. Santa Rosa/Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
EDUARDO GARZA, Ukiah. Contempt of court.
ELIZABETH JOHNSON-COSGROVE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
GABRIEL MARTIN, Mendocino. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance.
MARIO PONTELLO, Lucerne/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
TOMMY RHODES, Ukiah. DUI.
DEBBIE ROGERS, Nice. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KARLIE SEDER, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen property, ammo possession by prohibited person, suspended license, probation revocation.
NATHANIEL SIMERSON, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
GREGORY THOMPKINS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The Democratic Party is author to an impressive collection of idiocies, not least this preposterous law-suit. I wonder if they’ve taken leave of their senses, if they’ve forgotten that in 2020 there’s another run at the presidency.
Democratic Party supporters spare no effort in hurling invective at Republicans and especially Trumpistas. But I wonder about the mental capacity of Democratic Party loyalists and their talent for self-deception and their willingness to suspend dis-belief.
Do Blacks and Hispanics seriously believe that the Democratic Party – as personified by Globalist Bill and his coat-tail riding wife are for them? Seriously?
CITIZEN-MAYOR GAYLE ROARS THROUGH RICHMOND
by Ralph Nader
Richmond, California — a city of 110,000 people, most of whom are minorities — is located on beautiful bays and coves next to San Francisco. Hovering over Richmond is the giant Chevron oil refinery. For decades, the city’s residents had to breathe air polluted by Chevron, endure the costs of Chevron’s careless spills, and surrender to Chevron’s gross underpayment of local taxes.
Chevron’s political muscle — even though few of its employees lived in Richmond — made Richmond into an oppressive company town.
Until, that is, Chicago-born Gayle McLaughlin decided, after years of Midwestern activism, to set down roots in Richmond. There, McLaughlin found a few like-minded progressives and started the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA). (Gayle had volunteered in the Green Party’s 2000 Presidential Campaign)
With very little money, but many long overdue proposals for the betterment of the city, the RPA went to work. They had three public assets — a set of progressive policy changes, support of a large silent majority of residents, and a dedicated core of thirty no-nonsense local champions for a just community.
RPA ran a slate of candidates for City Council in 2004, with some success. This was followed by a victory in 2006 that made McLaughlin mayor — a post she held until 2014 when she was termed out and then successfully ran for city council. RPA now controls five of the seven seats — overcoming the Chevron Company’s longtime political boosters.
The majority population knew which side the RPA was on and many would regularly join marches, demonstrations, and pickets to bolster their city council champions.
Gayle McLaughlin recently published her new, compelling book on Richmond, Winning Richmond: How a Progressive Alliance Won City Hall. Union organizer and activist, Steve Early, said,
“Blue-collar Richmond was once notorious for its street crime, gun violence, poverty, and pollution. During McLaughlin’s two terms as mayor, that city acquired a far different reputation — for battling Big Oil, Big Soda, Big Banks, and the landlord lobby…”
Because of McLaughlin and the RPA, Richmond has a higher minimum wage of $15 an hour, a police department that has curbed police misconduct, a major drop in serious street crime, an increase in Chevron’s tax payments, a decrease in toxic pollution by Chevron, and Solar Richmond, a program demonstrating a greener local economy, more energy self-reliance and jobs.
Chevron and their indentured political allies fought the RPA all the way. But when you run a door-to door, campaign for the city government — linked to protests demanding change from the outside — people can win.
RPA also moderated some of the horrible foreclosure actions by the banks after the 2008 Wall Street financial collapse of the economy on the backs of workers and taxpayers. The Alliance did lose the struggle to implement a small tax on obesity-generating sugary soda pop to a multi-million dollar campaign by that industry. In her new book — a must, must victory read for community activists who may be puffing on treadmills of continual defeat — Ms. McLaughlin declares: “If we could win a progressive agenda in Richmond under the money might of Chevron’s major oil refinery, it can be done anywhere!”
Gayle is now running for Lt. Governor of California as an independent to spread the RPA model of strategy and energy throughout the Golden State. Her agenda is similar to the Bernie Sanders agenda: full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital (much more efficient with better health outcomes); tuition free public colleges and universities; more progressive taxes on the pampered, coddled super-rich; a ban on corporations bankrolling their candidates; an oil severance tax; a major drive to solarize California and ban fracking; more affordable housing and many ways to give voice and power to the people to redress the power imbalance of the few deciding for the many.
She is standing up to a harshly rigged electoral barrier that prevents the chance for success of independent and third party candidates in California. But if she can get in the debates (as Green Party candidate Peter Camejo running for governor did in 2003), she can, at the least, get the peoples’ message across as a step toward future elections being less “selections” by the political oligarchy/plutocracy.
Gayle is not hesitant to take positions on foreign and military practices that form the American Empire and its boomerang on our political economy and public necessities.
The takeaway is it took only 30 committed members of the RPA to rouse the people into action and take over the City Council. This makes my point that less than one percent of committed citizens with majority public opinion support for their agenda can overcome the vested interests of the ruling classes (See my Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think).
If you’re still doubtful, convince yourself by obtaining Gayle McLaughlin’s Winning Richmond (Hardball Press) for your neighborhood library and book circle.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
ANNOUNCING THE MENDOCINO COUNTY NEW BOOK FESTIVAL AT THE UKIAH LIBRARY!
On Sunday May 6th, 2018 1:00 – 4:00 PM the Ukiah Branch of the Mendocino County Library will be hosting The New Book Festival!
Have you been waiting for the latest hot new book to be available for check out? Here is your chance to pick up the newest must read books from the library. Mendocino County Library is proud to announce The New Book Festival at the Ukiah Library. Over 1,000 new and popular books for all ages will be available for check out with your library card. We will have the latest adult fiction and non-fiction along with popular young adult and children’s books, DVDs, and Audiobooks available for your enjoyment.
Along with the many new books The New Book Festival will feature live entertainment by The Back Porch Project, Origami paper folding taught by Louise Yale, other crafts, tasty snacks, and fun prizes. There will be a table set up for creating new library cards – just bring your ID and a piece of mail to get started. A fabulous book bag will be available for every library patron who checks out library items with their card.
Have you ever been inside the Mendocino County Bookmobile? If not this is a perfect opportunity to see what’s inside. The bookmobile will be at the Ukiah Library and available for visiting and checking out items for the duration of the New Book Festival.
Mark your calendar and join our celebration of new books at the Ukiah Library, Sunday May 6th, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM for The Mendocino County Library New Book Festival. Lots of fun and tons of books for everyone!!
Other “Library” events at: www.mendolibrary.org
INVASIVE PLANT REMOVAL VOLUNTEER WORK DAY
Hendy Woods State Park
Sunday May, 6th 10 AM to 12 PM
For Invasive Plant Removal
- Meet at Day Use Picnic Area
- Enjoy FREE Park entrance for the day
- Bring some gardening gloves, hand trowels/loppers & a picnic lunch
- Meet new people & catch up with old friends
- Ages 5 & up
ALBION BRIDGE COASTAL COMMISSION HEARING POSTPONED
Re: CDP 1-16-899, Caltrans geotechnical investigation coastal permit: postponement of May 9 meeting, from CCC agenda
The Coastal Commission hearing about the Caltrans geotechnical and seismic investigation coastal permit originally scheduled to take place May 9 in Santa Rosa got postponed.
Annemarie Weibel for Albion Bridge Stewards, Albion
THE HISTORIC ALBION BRIDGE IN THE NEWS
The May 2018 Mendocino Real Estate magazine printed the following story: realestatemendocino.com/images/REM%20709.pdf
Annemarie Weibel, Albion
OIL CAN JERRY
Peter Warner writes: "The linked article provides much detail about how 'marine protected areas' are a corrupted ruse, and how Jerry Brown has compromised any resemblance of political integrity. He’s a crooked, lying, charlatan. I support a recall and a criminal indictment of him and Reheis-Boyd."
THE DEATH OF JOURNALISM (No R.I.P. Here)
by Warren Hinckle (1997)
What bothered Herb Caen was that he was still alone and had to see journalism in Frisco die before him, under his nose.
We'd be having lunch, playing Caen's favorite match game for the check, and discussing the plaintive state of the news game, as Caen called it, and how the tone of San Francisco journalism had gone from a signature roar to a constant whine.
Caen's complaint was there for all to see in the shrill, lumpen behavior of the press at last Monday's press conference about the financing of the new 49er stadium and sports theme park, where KCBS' Barbara Taylor, the Leona Helmsley of radio journalism, and other journos tried Willie Brown's patience with their ignorance of accounting.
Caen called me Warnie and I called him Herbie and we've had our differences, some of them personal, and not infrequently we would spat with one another in print, which is how that news game is played. But mostly, over lunch, we'd share memories of great newspaper tales past and arcane appreciations of typographical eccentricities such as the Frisco papers reversing the rules (by turning the old metal column dividers upside down on the stone and running funeral black bars between the columns on the front page when Lincoln was assassinated or the pope died or such — a tradition that none of the newspapers had the grace to invoke for Caen.
The small-minded demeanor of local journos — this is a dismissive Brit term for newspaper hacks that Caen knew and used derisively — at Monday's 49er press thing exasperated the mayor as he spelled out a bold civic vision of a half-billion-dollar stadium, 49er theme park, and retail complex that will resuscitate the financially depressed Bayview district bordering on the Peninsula.
The answer to the riddle of how Caen's three-dotter became so beloved to San Francisco is in part the reciprocity of Caen to loving the city, from the contours of its hills to the warts of its beasts. Frisco loved Caen because his column constantly reminded them of the greatness of its quirky, visionary, expansionist, bohemian past — which was so often in unspoken contrast to the mediocrities of the present.
Caen was liked because he was upbeat and optimistic about the city. (His concerns about the increasing wimpiness of the local press were made in private conversations with others in the news game, rarely in print.) He was forever upbeat and never met a good idea for Frisco that he didn't promote. Caen would have leveled a few three-dot barrels at the negativity of the press at Monday's 49er show-and-tell.
Here was Caen's best friend, the unstoppable Willie Brown, dressed like a savoy tailor's best day, as Caen likewise dressed, presenting a brilliant money package of public-private visionary partnership that is a slam-dunk sure financial thing for the city, explaining over and over, and with a lessening patience borne of grief for his writer friend who died Saturday, how the real world of stadium financing works to a badly dressed press corps displaying the sophistication of a rookie from downtown Petaluma, who helped rather thoughtlessly on how San Francisco could finance a football package when Oakland had made such a mess of it.
Brown was almost beside himself with incredulity. San Francisco is to be judged by the performance of…Oakland?
Excuse me, but Oakland was stupid and made a bad deal; we aren't and we didn't, okay?
Then Ms. Taylor/Helmsley kept interrupting the mayor to ask what would happen if the $100 million of revenue bonds (paid off not from the city coffers, but from revenues produced by the vast project) the city is asking voters to approve for its part of what will become a half-billion-dollar development don't earn sufficient revenues over the next decades.
Willie was incredulous. What was she thinking of, an earthquake? The city had never fallen short on its bonds, and the bonds for the original Candlestick were just about now being paid off, on schedule. The city gets a huge economic boost, thousands of jobs in the Bayview, and most certainly a Super Bowl down the line in the new stadium. What's the problem?
Caen didn't write his Tuesday column because of an unavoidable appointment with the gatekeeper to the narrow door, but from knowing the man for so long I know what would have been in it.
Three dot one: …Caen would plug the historic ceremonies in North Beach honoring Sts. Peter and Paul Church and the centennial of the Salesian fathers in the United States, and push for San Francisco's Alessandro Baccari getting a medal from the pope for his devoted work for the North Beach church.
…Caen would have savaged the owner of John's Grill, who just bought the venerable Jack's restaurant and has stealth plans to replace all the old waiters, who are the only reason Jack's regulars like George Christopher and Joe Alioto go to the joint.
…Caen would praise 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo for remaining loyal to San Francisco by turning away from far more lucrative stadium financial deals for the 49ers, which could have been had simply by locating a new stadium on the Peninsula, and finding a way to make the stadium theme park development work financially at Candlestick Park so the jobs and money from the huge sporting retail complex would stay in the city.
Caen concerned himself to the point of sometimes fretting over the intellectual downsizing of San Francisco journalism and the know-nothing, try-nothing attitude that has infected the press in a city where roaring journalistic feuds were once settled by the code duello.
Until something comes along that takes the wimpiness and small-mindedness out of San Francisco journalism that Caen so loved, he will never rest in peace.