- James Gimblett
- MCDH Crackdown
- Handley Letter
- Open Fire
- Alexandra's Death
- Adanac Ranch
- Foot Surgery
- Shakedown Bros
- Park Volunteers
- Weed Twins
- Little Dog
- County Roads
- Yesterday's Catch
- HHSA Budget
- Independent Party
- AVBC Hiring
- Emergency Radio
- 128 Years
- Big Truck
- Lions Carnival
- Cruel Measures
- Papertowel Diplomacy
- Malevolent Nature
- Disney Paupers
- One-legged Car
- Password Problem
- Terence Talk
- Trump Pardons
- Opium Raids
- Overlay Zones
- Marco Radio
JAMES E. GIMBLETT
14 December 1931 — 23 May 2018
Even though we had different last names we all called him Dad or Grandpa.
He will be greatly missed by us, and all who knew him. Rest easy Daddy.
COAST HOSPITAL MEDIA CRACKDOWN
by Malcolm Macdonald
Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) held a Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, the last day of May. The agenda contained some of the usual, such as a closed session item about the federal lawsuit Hardin v. Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The defendants also include the hospital's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Board President Steve Lund.
Further down in the agenda one can find the usual lists of appointments to medical staff (full time, provisional, and temporary). The “Consent Calendar” contains the usual minutes of the most recent board meeting as well as adjustments to the Board of Directors' Policies and Procedures. Ah, but there's the rub. The policies being added or adjusted include bereavement leave, a public records request form, time cards for non-bargaining unit employees, and a money purchase pension plan. The list does not include two other policies that CEO Bob Edwards sent out to board members for their perusal a couple weeks back.
Those two additional policies were titled “Video Policy” and “Media Relations Policy.” The Video Policy contains the following wording:
“The public is allowed to use audio or video tape recorders or still or motion picture cameras at an open meeting, absent a reasonable finding by the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District Board of Directors that such recording, if continued, would persistently disrupt the proceedings due to noise, illumination, or obstruction of view.
“Only open and public meetings with a quorum will be recorded or filmed.
“Anyone interested in taking video of facilities, staff, contractors, patients, or patients’ families must request and receive permission from a representative of the MCDH Public Relations and Marketing Department, and must follow our Media Relations policy.”
Those three short bullet point paragraphs might seem innocuous to some readers, but it's the second, shortest of the statements that's intended as payback. The payback from CEO Edwards is directed at Mendocino TV for possessing the temerity to record, for the public to see and hear, interim CFO John Parigi at his last public appearance at MCDH in late March. The occasion was a Finance Committee meeting that did not possess enough committee members to constitute a quorum. There has been speculation that Edwards discouraged some members from attending, believing that without a quorum Parigi would not be able to speak, but who knows, could be the case, could be simple coincidence.
Board member and then acting finance committee chair, Dr. Peter Glusker, allowed Mr. Parigi to give his CFO report. Further, Glusker invited any members of the public already present to stay and listen to Parigi's comments. At this point Edwards excused himself. With Mendocino TV recording, Parigi verbally listed the greatest needs for MCDH: Putting in place a coordinated EHR (electronic health records) system. That and at least five more staffers in the business office would help stop coding and billing errors. Parigi estimated that implementing a new EHR system would pay for itself within a year, simply by tracking down the money MCDH is currently missing/losing from its own legitimate bills.
Mr. Parigi's most damning comment came at a different point in his presentation. “The hospital is lacking intellectual capital at its highest level.” As this writer stated in a March 31st piece for the AVA, “A more direct hit on Edwards couldn't have been delivered by a body slam on the fifty yard line.”
So CEO Edwards included that little nugget in the midst of his proposed “Video Policy” that there will be no more videotaping of meetings lacking a quorum.
Edwards' language in his proposed “Media Relations Policy”:
“Members of the media interested in conducting interviews, taking video or taking photographs of facilities, staff, contractors, patients, or patients’ families must request and receive permission from a representative of the MCDH Public Relations and Marketing Department.
“Employees are not permitted to serve as spokespersons for the organization or to solicit media coverage without the approval of the Public Relations and Marketing Department.
“All media representatives must sign a Confidentiality Agreement, regarding appropriate and agreed upon use of photos and video.
“All patients must sign a consent form before the media will be allowed to interview, photograph, or videotape. Patients are not permitted to invite media representatives to their rooms for interviews or photos without consent from the Public Relations and Marketing Department.
“Media representatives must remain outside of the main entrance until a member of the MCDH Public Relations and Marketing Department or Security Team can escort them into the facility. A member of the Public Relations and Marketing Department and/or Security Team will accompany members of the media at all times while they are on MCDH property.
“The Public Relations and Marketing Department will participate in all interviews arranged via telephone, video or conference call.
“A Public Records Request Form must be submitted for all information requests.”
Reading the last line shows the connection to the piece of the puzzle that remains in the May Board of Directors agenda, the seemingly basic public records request form (though the hospital's own legal counsel has stated that public records requests must be complied with regardless of any form). Originally all three policies regarding videoing, media relations and the public records request form came out of Edwards' office together.
Regular readers may recall the May 16th AVA article about Edwards and Board President Lund's “strategic initiatives” for the hospital. As it turned out those so-called initiatives were far less about public input and much more about Edwards having paperwork to show to bureaucratic auditors, inspectors, and regulatory review teams. Assuredly these Video, Media Relations, and Public Records Request Form policies started out as something to display to the Joint Commission (the entity that accredits over 21,000 health care organizations) and other regulatory folk.
Reading the restrictive language in the Media Relations Policy makes me wonder whether Edwards is aware that he is an administrator at a publicly owned hospital. Anyone reading this policy proposal should wonder if Edwards is aware of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee regarding freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Edwards would like to impose something akin to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) on all patients, patient's families, and hospital employees.
I could go on listing the extreme restrictions inherent in Edwards' concept of a Medis Relations Policy, but readers undoubtedly can think for themselves and already get the point.
At the MCDH Finance Committee meeting of May 29th, Edwards confirmed that the Video and Media Relations policies did emanate from his office. As of this writing, apparently enough wiser minds on the MCDH Board have squelched the Video and Media Relations policies from reaching the board's public agenda.
At the May 31st meeting the Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Dr. Lucas Campos. Those interested in filling his seat until the November election can send a letter of interest and a resume to MCDH, 700 River St. Fort Bragg, CA 95437. Interviews of those applying will be conducted July 16th. The public may attend the interview session, but only board members will be asking questions. Two members of the public will be enlisted to help count the ballots cast by the board members near the conclusion of the process.
Potential candidates and readers alike will want to note that three employees have recently been added to assist new CFO Mike Ellis, a fourth position may well be filled in the near future. Also of note, MCDH ended April, 2018 with a net deficit for the fiscal year (to date) of $3.3 million.
MARGE HANDLEY UNRAVELS WHY And How The Old Howard Hospital Became First Choice For The Measure B Mental Health Unit
HALFWAY TO COVELO
Wildland Fire Breaks Out On Mendocino National Forest
Willows, Calif. — Fire crews are actively engaged on the Open Fire, approximately 25 miles west of Willows on the Grindstone district of the Mendocino National Forest. It is burning in grass, oak and mixed timber on Open Ridge. It was reported at 2 p.m. Friday. The fire is estimated at 60 acres with zero percent contained. There are 100 federal and state resources assigned to the incident including three engines, three water tenders, four crews, two helicopters and two single engine airtankers or SEATs. There are no structures immediately threatened. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Please check Facebook, Twitter or Inciweb for updates.
(Forest Service Press Release)
A FRIEND WONDERS: "I was wondering if there was any more information about the drowning death of Alexandra Hunter Russell in the Noyo Harbor? Your paper reported that it was suspicious and I agree. We were good friends back in college and I last spoke with her on the phone a few weeks before she died."
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(AVA, Feb 10, 2018) — SOME NOYO HARBOR RESIDENTS are wondering about the recent drowning death of Alexandra Hunter Russell, found dead floating in Noyo Harbor on January 24, 2018. According to an initial Sheriff’s press release, a missing person’s report for Ms. Russell was filed about 8am that Wednesday morning by her boyfriend, Garrett Fenrich. Ms. Russell's body was found by Fenrich and a friend that same afternoon around 3pm. Sheriff’s Coroner, Lt. Shannon Barney, announced that Ms. Russell “may have had a medical issue.” Her neighbors say the "medical issue" was a reference to speculation by Fenrich that it may have been a seizure that caused Ms. Russell to fall into the harbor.
Fenrich told deputies and neighbors that Russell left their harbor side home — its deck is directly over the water — at 3am after the couple had argued. Fenrich said that was the last time he saw her until some seven hours later when he saw her lifeless body in the water.
It's not known if Fenrich began looking for Russell when she allegedly went missing at 3am.
According to Ms. Russell’s Facebook page, she was an accomplished competitive swimmer, making her an unlikely drowning victim.
Persons close to Ms. Russell are highly skeptical of the accidental drowning version of Ms. Russell's death. They assume the police and the DA are pursuing a fuller investigation.
Fenrich was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on domestic abuse charges on March 21, 2017, although charges were later dropped when Ms. Russell decided not to pursue the case against him.
On January 25, 2018 Sheriff’s Captain Gregory Van Patten told the media, “At this time her death is suspected to be accidental, but an official determination is pending an autopsy with blood alcohol and toxicology analysis."
No obituary has been filed beyond this death notice in the Advocate-Beacon: “Alexandra Hunter Russell of Fort Bragg, California died January 24, 2018 in Fort Bragg. Born October 7, 1971 in California to Sheila and Richard Hunter, she was 47 years old.”
Ms. Russell left behind three teenage children in the Bay Area where she'd lived much of her life.
THE WAY MENDOCINO COUNTY WORKS
by Will Parrish (February 8, 2017)
Chris Brennan first learned about the proliferation of marijuana cultivation sites on Stuart Bewley's 14,000-acre Adanac Ranch this past July when he fielded a phone call from then-Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse. The erstwhile real estate agent-turned-elected representative informed Brennan of complaints he had received concerning Bewley's violations of a newly-adopted county “urgency ordinance” which offers permits to cannabis growers, albeit with numerous stipulations. Brennan, a north county resident going back nearly four decades, says he has hunted and cowboyed on Bewley's land "more times than I can count,” he tells me.
Woodhouse wanted to know what Brennan could tell him concerning multiple reports of new greenhouses, ponds, roads, and building pads on Bewley's sprawling rangeland, as well as its previous land-use history.
Soon after, Brennan took a gander at Bewley's property from the vantage point of his horse corral and noticed grows in excess of 100 plants. None had existed the previous year. He further confirmed the grows' existence, as well as the fact that they were of 2016 vintage, through an examination via Google Earth. He became further concerned upon hearing rumors concerning Bewley's intentions to expand his Adanac cannabis operation even further. Brennan was worried the land next to him — some of the county's richest and most intact wildlife habitat — was about to become a Love Drug-induced ecological sacrifice zone. “I've seen an incredible amount of wildlife on Adanac: black-tailed dear, Roosevelt elk, bears, Humboldt Martens, and more Pacific fishers than you can count on Adanac,” he says. “There are also three fish-bearing waterways on that property, and salmon and trout spawn at the bottom of all of 'em. … I don't want to see it broken up, and I don't want to see it destroyed."
The county's urgency ordinance, adopted in June 2016, directs the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office not to issue permits for grows not already in place prior to January 1, 2016. It also forbids the establishment of cannabis patches in excess of 25 plants on multiple parcels under common ownership. Yet, as Brennan soon learned, Mendocino County Sheriff's Captain Randy Johnson – the administrator of the county's legal weed program — had issued Bewley and associates permits for brand-new 99-plant grows on five separate parcels within Bewley's sprawling 102-parcel landholding.
Brennan says he phoned Johnson numerous times to complain, but he never heard back. Johnson's assistant did inform him in an August 12th conversation, he says, that no inspections of Bewley's property had yet taken place. Brennan next wrote a letter to all five county supervisors and CC'd it to Sheriff Tom Allman and County Counsel Kit Elliott.
Meanwhile, Second District Supervisor John McCowen had received a complaint back in July from another Bewley neighbor about the violations of the Urgency Ordinance, prompting him to approach County Counsel Kit Elliott about having the issue promptly addressed. McCowen was adamant, he says, about preserving the credibility of the Urgency Ordinance, which he worked hard to help craft.
Yet, despite all these protestations, the Sheriff's Department never rescinded any of the Bewley grow permits. For its part, County Counsel only offered a legal opinion concerning Bewley's grows after the cultivation season was over.
In an interview, Johnson acknowledged that Adanac Ranch's grows had “issues.” But he says his department was overwhelmed by the volume of permit applications it received – including 342 on a single day in June – and also hamstrung by a lack of personnel to process the permits and conduct site inspections. Johnson also says the Sheriff's Office chose to maintain “flexibility” in its application of the urgency ordinance rules, so that growers feel safe to come out of the shadows of illicit cultivation and into the light of a work-in-progress legal cultivation framework. “You don't take something that's been illegal, ask the people growing it now to be regulated, and expect that they're going to be 100 percent compliant,” Johnson says. “I have to use discretion to determine what's legal, [and also] what's logical.”
But critics note that Stuart Bewley, far from having operated in the shadows of the cannabis industry previously, was an entirely new grower in 2016. They say that county authorities' collective failure to act on clear violations of the urgency ordinance, documented in a complaint by a well-known and credible local resident, severely undermine the effort to create a workable ordinance that protects both existing growers and the ecological integrity of the county's land and water. “Based on this experience," Supervisor McCowen says, "the County has a long way to go in showing that it is actually capable of enforcing its own ordinances."
McCowen says the flimsy enforcement of the Urgency Ordinance is an especially sharp concern as the county gears up to adopt a new Medical Cannabis Ordinance, which they will (did) discuss at their February 7th meeting, just after this issue of the AVA goes to press. If adopted, this new legislation would govern the county's legal cultivation program for the foreseeable future, making it perhaps one of the most significant land-use decisions the Board of Supervisors has ever made.
The Urgency Ordinance allowed cultivators to grow up to 99 plants on a 10-acre parcel with a permit from the Sheriff’s Office. Up to 50 plants can be grown on 5 acres with a permit.
On January 19th, the County Planning Commission voted 5-2 to issue recommendations concerning the new Cannabis Ordinance to the Supervisors, upholding these plant number and parcel size rules and creating several new restrictions on the size and location of grows.
Environmentalists are particularly enthusiastic about the planning commissioners' recommendation to exclude the county's 714,000-plus acres of rangelands from new cannabis cultivation, as well as an Oak Woodlands Protection Ordinance and a future Grading Ordinance (both to be adopted by 2020). The draft Oak Woodlands Protection Ordinance requires that not a single oak tree be cut down for new cannabis cultivation. McCowen supports these proposals, though the other supervisors' positions are currently unknown.
“Part of my bottom-line in our new ordinance is that I want to protect areas like Adanac Ranch that haven't already been taken over by cannabis cultivation,” McCowen says. “My goal is to bring existing cultivators into a regulated framework before we start carving up the rest of the county.”
The Ukiah-based supervisor takes issue with the argument that county authorities lacked the manpower to deal with the Adanac violations. “It's disappointing that it took over two months for the county to make a decision on Chris Brennan's complaint,” he says. “It's not difficult to review the criteria for what is a legal parcel, what is proof of prior cultivation, what are the AP numbers of the Adanac Ranch, and what are the AP numbers of the applications.”
Johnson says that he opted to seek a legal opinion from County Counsel Kathryn Elliott to determine whether Bewley was actually violating the rules. He says he also met with Bewley and Bewley's business associates to hear their side of the story before taking action. During the meeting, he says, Bewley brought up an interesting point about one of the Urgency Ordinance's findings. According to Johnson, Finding “O” leaves the “multiple grows on multiple parcels” issues open to interpretation.
It states: “With the elimination of the exemption from the 25 plant per parcel limit, the County also revised the definition of legal parcel from defining an unlimited number of contiguous parcels under common ownership or control as one parcel eligible for a single exemption, to defining any portion of a parcel with a separate Assessor’s Parcel number as a parcel, resulting in an individual owner of multiple contiguous parcels being able to cultivate 25 marijuana plants times the number of Assessor’s Parcel numbers, instead of being limited to no more than 99 plants with an exemption.”
Ultimately, Johnson says, County Counsel Elliott determined that Bewley's multiple grow sites did, in fact, violate the Urgency Ordinance. By that point, however, the cultivation season was over; Bewley's associates presumably had already harvested all the plants.
In an interview, Elliott echoed Johnson's point about the lack of clear language in the Urgency Ordinance. “For the people enforcing these things, the language is not always easy to understand,” she says.
Chris Brennan has positive things to say about Elliott, whom he describes as “very helpful.” She convened a meeting with him and Undersheriff Johnson on October 5th, he says, in which Brennan and Elliott provided Google Earth maps of Bewley's property. Elliott confirmed several details of the meeting, and she says she arranged it so that “Randy Johnson could hear Chris Brennan's concerns.”
But Brennan, like McCowen, questions why it took Elliott until after the cultivation season to determine that Bewley's cannabis grows violated the Urgency Ordinance, even though the complaints about them started pouring in in July. He especially wonders why Johnson, in particular, waited to act on his complaint. “I keep asking these people, 'Why did Johnson take so long? Why did he protect the Adanac?'” McCowen says. “It's pretty sad when a citizen makes a complaint about something as important as this and gets stone-cold silence from the official responsible.”
In December, Brennan obtained copies of the five permit applications that Bewley and associates filed with the Sheriff's Office. Oddly, he notes, some of the paperwork is dated in September, even though the application deadline for the cultivation permits was in June. He also notes that some of the names on the applications were amended in some of these post-deadline filings.
The businesses listed on the applications include medical cannabis businesses in Napa and Marin counties.
Elliott declined to provide the AVA a copy of the official legal opinion concerning the Adanac Ranch grows. She also declined to answer several questions about the contents of the opinion, citing her obligation to protect confidential information. “We have to be very cautious because we are legal advisers,” she says. “We're behind the scenes; we're not out in front.”
I asked Johnson whether Bewley would be allowed to continue cultivating in the same areas next year, provided that the county adopts rules identical to those in the Urgency Ordinance. “If everything stayed the way it is now, No,” he says. “Say this program they're in now went forward. No, they would not be able to grow in the same locations based on the parcel issue.”
Johnson also took issue with Brennan's personal style of raising complaints, questioned why he singled out Adanac Ranch for criticism, and acknowledged that violations of the Urgency Ordinance were not limited to Adanac. “Chris Brennan deals with stuff a little bit abrasively. He was focused on the Adanac Ranch. But there were people in other places who had the same issues as the people at Adanac Ranch had.” He also claimed that Brennan has “an ax to grind” with marijuana cultivation.
But Brennan says his main concern, in addition to protecting wildlife, is the integrity of the county's cannabis ordinance. His concerns are similar to those expressed by McCowen. “I know people who went through the process of getting a permit to grow 99 plants who are good people,” Brennan says. “They jumped through all the hoops. They paid the money. They hired the consultants, did the studies. They did all this, but then Stuart Bewley and his people get to do whatever they want?”
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On Line Comments:
“Daryl”: “They have been illegally growing thousands of pounds on the Adanac for years. Give me a break. A guy just got cracked up there recently, and he had meth. But Bewley’s big bucks got him off. It’s not the first time either.”
“Bell Springs Family”: Pretty Sad Will to forget to Mention the fact that Chris “Dog Killer” Brennan is a State trapper who has killed thousands of animals including bears, mountain lions, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and family pets in his capacity as Mendo County “State Trapper.” We last saw him out a dirt road in Northern Mendo towing behind him a “bear trap trailer”, rather than relocate the bears caught in the trap, “Dog Killer Brennan” as he is known in Laytonville usualy disposes of the bears and other critters unfortunate enough to meet “dog killer” with a rifle! Too bad you failed to mention these facts in this little piece here you put together, although it is great that you let Mendocino folks know that Chris Brennan is a player in the little game called “Rat and Snitch your Neighbor Out,” and for that I thank you! Seems very few people in Bell Springs or Laytonville like or trust Old Dog Killer, especially knowing he is a un-confidential informant! Hell, Even Sheriff Johnson claims Dog Killer has an ax to grind with cannabis farmers! Thanks for informing the community of the actions of this informant known as “Dog Killer Chris Brennan,” haven’t liked this guy since he shot and killed one of our 10 year old dogs back in the 1990s. Hopefully he will get stuck in one of his own traps one day!”
ED NOTE: Mr. Brennan’s alleged shortcomings are not relevant to the complaints about Bewley et al.
THE WAY MENDO WORKS II
(AVA May 4, 2016) — WELL, THAT WAS FAST! Supervisor Dan Hamburg is getting divorced from Lauren Sinnott, former mayor of Point Arena. The version of the Supervisor's bubbling love life that we have says Hamburg suggested last October that Ms. Sinnott return to Point Arena and stay there. They'd been married about a year, if that. Sinnott begged Hamburg not to divorce her until she could have County-paid surgery on both her feet, which she is in the process of doing. Gentleman Dan agreed. But when the surgery is complete, it's splitsville. Meanwhile, Hamburg has been seeing a married Ukiah woman named Sarah Stark.
WE SENT THE ABOVE to our regal supervisor for comment prior to our publishing it. He replied, “It's Sara not Sarah.”
HAMBURG’S PRIVATE LIFE is nobody’s biz but his. It becomes public business when he uses public money to fix his estranged wife’s feet. On the other hand, who can begrudge the abandoned Ms. Sinnott, a nice lady fallen into narcissism's very cynosure? We hope she lands on her new feet.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Ed Note: Here Jake Patterson scolds the Fort Bragg City Council for exposing River Watch Attorney Jack Silver as what Silver is and Patterson aspires to be — a professional shakedown artist:
Council-members [via BCC],
The following is merely my personal opinion but it reflects an important consideration that at least some of you appear to dismiss or overlook based on the comments I have heard. Perhaps this is because you may be defensive rather than reflective or possibly because you might not appreciate the important role of the legal system correcting wrongs and serving as a deterrent to potential future harm. I obviously cannot know for sure but I can share my observations and inferences as a member of the public.
Although I am cognizant of the political nature of the speech, particularly at city council meetings, I am disturbed by the (perceived) dismissive comments at last night's City Council meeting. Specifically, I find the comments about River Watch and their attorney troubling. In my opinion, River Watch is an important environmental organization looking out for the public interest and is merely seeking to enforce existing legal obligations to remedy and hopefully avoid unpermitted discharge events. It is standing up for the people and the environment against callous polluters who are shirking responsibilities to the communities in which they operate. This includes government organizations who frequently neglect the duty to properly maintain infrastructure. (Just because the City is finally taking care of one portion of the City's wastewater infrastructure, doesn't mean the other components don't also merit attention when they are causing problems.)
In my opinion, River Watch and their attorneys are not "trolling" the data to shake down polluters based on self-reported information; they are seeking to enforce existing legal obligations and sometimes rely on public information to help identify bad actors who might need to be reminded of their responsibilities through citizen enforcement actions. That is precisely how public interest law is structured and is part-and-parcel to local governance. I understand why you might not like this, but the City is always free to lobby Sacramento and Washington to change or refine the citizen enforcement mechanisms that have been established to discourage local legislative bodies like you from stepping out of line. (Congress is exploring limiting ADA enforcement mechanisms so legislative refinements can and do occur when there may be justification to do so.)
Some of your individual comments about River Watch convey disdain about public interest law that comes across as demeaning to our system of government, which has an important third branch: the judicial system. City councils and appointed public officials are not always free to make whatever decisions they want irrespective of their cities' responsibilities to follow applicable law, even when balancing competing priorities. The courts are there to potentially serve as an important check and balance on governmental overreach and abuses of discretion by the legislative or administrative branches of government. (The issue is government accountability to the people, from whom governmental bodies ultimately derive their authority.) From where I stand, River Watch is admirably advancing this role in a specific area of environmental law.
Just because River Watch's attorneys have developed expertise in a specific field doesn't make them parasitic or predatory, it demonstrates that they have developed knowledge and competence in a particular area of public interest law and have focused their practices where they can be most effective and probably feel they can do the most good. The fact that attorneys fee awards are part of the equation for public interest law doesn't make the system wrong or misguided. As I understand it, the underlying philosophy is that plaintiffs who are not seeking personal grievances or monetary damages but who are representing the interests of the public at large shouldn't have to solely rely on their own private financial resources to do so (as they usually would if seeking personal benefits or monetary damages through the courts). To balance the burden on public coffers and discourage frivolous actions, these awards are only permitted when particular challenges have merit and are successful.
In my opinion, the fact that the same governmental organizations are subject to successive enforcement actions from the same plaintiff organization doesn't demonstrate that River Watch or their attorneys are shake-down artists; rather, it shows that legislative bodies like you are not learning lessons from past violations and enforcement actions. Potentially treating fines by regulatory agencies and the compliance costs of court orders resulting from citizen enforcement actions as an annoying cost of doing business rather than a reminder of the importance of doing better in the future (i.e., avoiding the pollution in the first place) highlights a problem with governmental decision-making not a problem with the legal system or with public interest groups like River Watch.
Public interest groups exist to remind governmental bodies of their responsibilities and do what the term suggests, serve the public interest. Sometimes that is simply to flag an issue that may have been overlooked by the legislative body or regulatory agencies but other times it is to identify a troubling pattern that might justify a different approach because the same issues keep happening despite past reported incidents. That is how I view River Watch's mission and enforcement approach, not a trolling exercise merely shaking the trees of local government. You may disagree but I hope that is a matter or differing perspectives rather than fundamental disagreement. Of course, I could be wrong but we are all entitled to our opinions either way.
Please consider my observations and different perspective as you evaluate the allegations presented by River Watch and as you consider the funding priorities established in the City's proposed budget concerning the City's investment in infrastructure.
Jacob Patterson, Fort Bragg
AV COMMUNITY PARK CLEAN-UP DAY
Saturday, June 16, 9am - 1pm
Join your community in volunteering to help revitalize our local park! From litter clean up and landscaping to picnic and play area restoration, we have projects for every member of the family. Come for an hour or stay for the morning. Bring work gloves and any helpful gardening tools: shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, buckets, and see what a difference a day makes!
Can't make the event but have resources that may help, whether tools, materials or fundraising? Please contact Elizabeth Jensen, (415) 713-3833, firstname.lastname@example.org
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VOLUNTEER TEAMS With all the projects we hope to accomplish, we’ve broken the work down it into different teams. Let us know ahead of time what team you’d like to help out with and what hour(s) you may be available so we can best strategize for the day! Are you especially gifted at any of the projects? Volunteer as a Team Leader and help us achieve our goals for the day (see more info below)!
1) Welcome Tent 2) First Aid 3) Litter Clean-Up (9-10am only) 4) Kids Play 5) Weeding & Trimming 6) Picnic Areas 7) Boat 8) Play Area Borders 9) Fences/Gates 10) Slide Play Area 11) Setup/Breakdown (8:30am-9:30am/12:30pm-1:30pm only)
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TEAM LEADERS NEEDED! Share your expertise with our volunteers as the point person for a specific task. You can show arriving volunteers any tricks of the trade to make the work easier and help keep everyone motivated and having fun while we get the job done! Can’t come the whole day? Volunteer to lead for an hour and pass the baton to the next leader when they arrive! For more info on each task, see below.
1) WELCOME TENT - Help welcome volunteers, direct them to team leaders, collect park ideas/feedback/donations - Provide painters tape/pens for volunteers to mark any personal tools brought to share in work - Refresh water/sunscreen/snacks supply as needed for volunteers. [ ] - 1 volunteer per hour, 4 hours, no team leader
2) FIRST AID - Be onsite to assist with any first aid needed. [ ] - 1 volunteer per hour, 4 hours, no team leader
3) LITTER CLEAN-UP (*9am-10am only) - Pick up litter from park area and sort into trash/recycling bins. [ ] - Up to 8 volunteers, 1 hour only, no team leader
4) KIDS PLAY (*Option for kids too young to help with other tasks) - Lead children in parachute play, songs, dance, bubble fun, arts/crafts, face painting, or other activities throughout the day that could be fun. [ ] - 1 volunteer per hour, 4 hours, no team leader
5) WEEDING & TRIMMING - Remove weeds from Swing Play Area (we hear these buggars are tough to get out) - Remove or trim back climbing vines on fence [ ] - Up to 8 volunteers per hour, up to 4 hours
6) PICNIC AREAS - remove old pea gravel, weeds & old landscape fabric - remove weed roots, etc. - restore smooth level ground base - install new landscape fabric - add new pea gravel & integrate any reclaimed original gravel - restore/replace landscape fabric shading securely to top of pergolas [ ] - Up to 4 volunteers per hour, up to 4 hours
7) BOAT - Repair & renew boat for improved safety & fun! [ ] - Up to 4 volunteers per hour, up to 4 hours
8) PLAY AREA BORDERS - Repair broken border wall of Slide Play Area - Repair broken border walls of Swing Play Area [ ] - Up to 4 volunteers per hour, 2 hours
9) FENCES & GATES - Repair/replace fence line with AV Health Center - Repair/replace gate from AV Health Center - Repair/replace gate/fence at sculptural arch entry. *The original artist, Rebecca, is going to see if there is something she can do to help repair her sculptural arch gate but ideas/resources are welcome. [ ] - Up to 8 volunteers per hour, up to 4 hours
10) SLIDE PLAY AREA - Dig up & remove old wood chips & old geotextile cloth - Repair broken border wall to fully enclose play area - Add 3” base layer of drainage gravel - Install geotextile cloth - Add wood chips [ ] - Up to 8 volunteers per hour, up to 4 hours
11) SET UP & BREAKDOWN [ ] - 8:30am-9:30am, Set up welcome table & tent with volunteer check-in, water, sunscreen, snacks [ ] - 12:30-1:30pm, Start collecting any lost & found items, organize any left over disposal items to bring to AV High School dumpster/recycling/compost.
Thank you again for all your support! We look forward to seeing you at our AV Community Park soon!
Elizabeth Martha Jensen 415.713.3833
NEAR-80-YEAR OLD MENDOCINO COUNTY IDENTICAL TWIN MARIJUANA GROWERS OPPOSE LEGALIZATION
by Robin Abcarian
COVELO – You don’t end up in Round Valley, one of Mendocino County’s finest cannabis-growing micro climates, by accident. It is well northeast of Highway 101, along a winding mountain road that follows the curves of Outlet Creek and the Middle Fork of the Eel River.
After 45 minutes, the valley comes into view. From a lookout called Inspiration Point, even in a light drizzle, Round Valley is a picture of bucolic grace, with wheat-colored fields, black cows and green orchards spreading out below.
Many of those groves conceal marijuana plants — or trees as they call them around here — which flourish in the rich alluvial soil of the valley’s fertile bottomland.
The highway through the valley is dead straight, punctuated by one town, Covelo, population about 1,200. Just past town, I pulled onto a farm owned by Robert and John Cunnan, identical 76-year-old twins who were born in Glendale and left Southern California more than 40 years ago seeking a better life.
“We came here with the back-to-the-land movement,” Robert told me as we stood in front of a shed where dozens of fragrant cannabis stalks were hanging to dry.
For $6,500, the brothers bought 10 acres with a creek down the middle. They built craftsman-style homes for themselves and raised families on food they grew in their gardens and money earned as cabinet makers for what they call “mom-and-pop” businesses — restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. They got by, but barely.
“A friend of mine came up here in 1985, grew marijuana and sold it for $2,000 a pound,” Robert said. “And that’s when I thought, ‘You know, you might be able to make a little money doing this.’ ”
This, pretty much, is the very thought that has crossed the minds of untold thousands of Mendocino County residents, beleaguered by the crashing logging and fishing industries and willing to flout the law to support their families.
“At one time, I sold stuff for $5,000 a pound,” Robert said. “It was worth more than gold. Now, it’s down to $1,200 to $1,500. But cannabis allowed me to finish my house and get comfortable.” (Yields vary wildly, but in these parts, each tree can produce two to four pounds or more.)
“I consider myself a teacher and a woodworker,” said John, who commutes to Ukiah once a week to teach woodworking in two schools. “The cannabis is just to fill in where the teaching and woodworking don’t pay the bills.”
I assumed the Cunnans would be strong proponents of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. As it turns out, they oppose Proposition 64, which would regulate and tax cannabis for the adult market.
And they are not alone.
Many small marijuana farmers, as it happens, see Proposition 64 as a threat to their way of life.
They believe that a legal, regulated cannabis market could open the floodgates to corporatization of the industry, pushing taxes up and prices down, perhaps forcing them out of business altogether.
“The thing you need to realize is that this is a movement that is becoming an industry,” Robert said. “The movement was organic gardening, the back-to-the-land, alternative lifestyle. We were the original generation that came out here and set up our pot gardens.”
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Just because I've got me a pro bone-o mouthpiece doesn't mean I'm going to go around provoking lawsuits. I'm no kid, and all I got is my igloo. I lose that and I'm out in the cold, cold world. And just as I'm thinking that thought along comes the feline provocateur, Skrag. ‘Suck it up, wimpo,’ he says, like he can read my mind. ‘All I need in this world is someone to open the cat food, and I can hunt if I have to’.”
SHOULDN'T TAKE FIVE MONTHS
Should County Counsel run DOT? It appears CC only took a single day to get the troops out to give the public a safe road to drive on.
DOT had the job on the books for five months. Was in the making for 5 months. A travesty of good government.
I believe this was in your face! We will show you! We will do it our way. Many others had called this problem in, with no results.
This was not about a sink hole or a ditch that needed cleaning! It is all about the public right to expect a safe road to drive on — and being taken care of in a timely manner for the public safety. The primary goal of DOT should be prevention and protection of the public on our County Roads!
Does the County have consequences for DOT not living up to goal?
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 1, 2018
KENTON COLBERG JR., Fort Bragg. Controlled substance for sale, probation revocation.
RICHARD FELIZ JR., Redwood Valley. Controlled substance, protective order violation, probation revocation.
SHAWNDELL GARRISON, Santa Rosa/Covelo. Domestic abuse, disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CLAYTON GARROUTTE, Ukiah. Ukiah. Burglary, probation revocation.
DANIEL GRIGGS, Rosamund/Laytonville. DUI.
TAMMY HALE, Covelo. Failure to appear.
CRAIG HILDEBRAND, Ukiah. DUI.
LAWRENCE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
AARON KULES, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
JOSHUA MOORE, Willits. County Parole violation.
DANIEL NICHOLAS, Ukiah. Ukiah. Battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
DANIEL PANKS JR., Redding/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOSHUA SHUGRUE, Willits. Possession of firearm (prohibted by probation conduction).
TIFFANY WHITE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol,
NOTES FROM THE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES BUDGET PRESENTATION to be provided to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday
by Mark Scaramella
HHSA funds five (!) attorneys in the County Counsel’s office plus a “Share”
* * *
HHSA’s “Contracting Out” Total is $37,647,120
“CBOs in Mendocino $21,572,939
Non-CBOs in Mendocino $2,763,604
All contracts out of county $13,310,577”
(CBO is not explained in the presentation, probably “community based organization”)
In other words HHSA spends over $13 mil a year on undefined out of County services. How much is mental health? Why isn’t this number part of the Measure B discussion? And how much of the $21.5 million that goes to CBOs (mostly Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services) also goes to out of county services as subcontracts to RQMC?
* * *
Under Major Accomplishments in 2017-18 we find this:
“Increased funding through fiscal leveraging
Reduced internal processing time to hire/promote staff
Improved services to the community
Provided appropriate equipment and improved morale thereby decreasing Work Comp claims”
* * *
Under “2018-19 Agency Goals” we find: “Strengthen HHSA service agreements with other County Departments.”
Comment: This is probably a reference to the still-incomplete memorandums of understanding with various county and external organizations that were recommended two years ago by Mental Health consultant Lee Kemper and were described as “nearly complete” a couple of weeks ago. Now, here we are going on three years later and they’re listed as “goals.”
And this “goal” — “Implement Homelessness Management Plan”
Comment: What plan? There is no plan, just a series of recommendations from consultant Marbut which are still being worked on.
And this “goal”: “Progress toward High Performing Org’n”
POP QUIZ: How many employees does Behavioral Health (Mental Health and Substance Abuse) now have?
Answer: 83.5! (52 mental health/31.5 behavioral health)
Under “Budget Changes for 2018-19” we find: “Salaries and Benefits $7,168,163” (but nothing about a “change” from anything prior). And: “Increased revenue FFP + $ 758,693.”
And this depressing statistic:
“[Family and Children’s Services (formerly CPS)] Investigated an average of 270 suspected child abuse and neglect referrals per month countywide.”
They also reported about 1150 “reports of adults possibly neglected or abused.”
Comment: Who reported these? What were the outcomes of all those investigations and reports? How many of the adult neglect or abuse reports were investigated? How many of both categories were confirmed? What happened to the confirmed cases?
Finally, while there are several slides in the presentation for each HHSA Branch (Social Services, Public Health, Animal Care&Control), there are none for Mental Health/Substance Abuse. No accomplishments, no goals, no info other than the number of employees.
This is the kind of meaningless “reporting” that is accepted year after year without comment or complain, which is why non-reporting reporting continues — the departments are allowed to submit any kind of nonsense, calling it a “report” which then becomes the baseline for more nonsense.
PS. Each of these departments (“branches”) has a $100k-plus-benefits-per-year “Assistant Director” with Anne Molgaard as overall “Department Director” and CEO Angelo as their CEO.
GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS
Republicans now are the third largest “party” in California, with the fast-growing number of independent voters eclipsing the sinking GOP membership figures in a report released Friday by the secretary of state.
Democrats now make up 44.4 percent of California’s 19 million registered voters, with no-party-preference voters at 25.5 percent and Republicans at 25.1 percent. The GOP has 83,518 fewer members than the group of voters who reject party labels altogether.
“This is a real hit to the image of the California Republican Party,” said Tony Quinn, a former GOP consultant who now is senior editor of the California Target Book, a nonpartisan outfit that analyzes state political races. “This was a Republican state from the Civil War all the way to 1958,” when Democrat Pat Brown was elected governor.
The shift comes after a decades-long registration slide for Republicans, who have seen their piece of the California electorate shrink from 5.2 million registered voters and 35.8 percent of the total in 1998 to the current 4.7 million party members.
ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING IS HIRING - inquire at the front office please
RADIOS WORK BEST
The most reliable means of communication is battery-powered radio. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a system in place that broadcasts official weather service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week (nws.noaa.gov/nwr). It should be relatively easy to bring this system into service in the case of things like firestorms. The radios cost in the order of $30-$40, so they’re affordable by most people and could be subsidized for those who cannot afford them.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Some folks are saying that we may be able to extend human life. But that old Russian woman, who they claim is 128 yrs old, said that it was a punishment & she’d never lived a single happy day in her life. I’m skeptical of that. Her memory at this point is probably only good through last week.
But leaving that aside, if you could revert to a youthful condition at that age and then continue living, would you do it? At 67, I feel out-of-place & out-of-time already and I don’t think it’s just because of my declining physical condition. The only thing that keeps me going is I have a few people who still depend on me.
THE BIG RED TRUCK (part 1)
by Jeff Costello
The Big Red pickup truck. Bright red with huge wheels that lift it high off the road. Guy moves in next door with this monster, parks it on the street with a "club" on the steering wheel to prevent theft. Someone tries to steal it anyway, here in the land of the big macho truck. The owner, obviously ex-military with a haircut to prove it, freaks out. Gets the guy across the street to help him put a camera and light up on the phone pole. It doesn't work, so he built a little tower in his front yard with a light to illuminate the monster truck. And if that isn't enough, he puts a light on the front bumper, with a motion sensor. I know this because sometimes I park in front of him and if I go to my car when it's dark, it sets off the flashing light.
If somebody did manage to steal the Big Red Truck, what would they do with it? Cops would see it a mile away. Stripped for parts? Wouldn't be worth the bother. The value is in the image, which screams for attention.
It's pretty difficult to not want to analyze this guy and his obsession.
It's not like he uses the truck to carry things. In the words of "Leave it to Beaver" Cleaver, it makes him feel like a big-shot. Of course there's a lot of competition in that arena. Denver is teeming with men driving big show-off pickups. When this was still the Old Wild West, they had to be content with horses, which are pretty much all the same size, give or take a few inches. So I guess it was the guns that fed the big-shot macho ego.
This big red truck is driving the man nuts. Is it worth it? Is this a case of You Are What You Have? Or in pre-PC speak, "Is a man his stuff?"
He has a garage, which of course is too small to fit the Big Truck. A professional job of modifying the garage might cost nearly or as much as another truck, and even if his carpentry skills were up to the task of doing it himself, it would be an all-consuming project. So what next?
THE CARNIVAL IS COMING
After three years of not having the Carnival, the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Lions and Leos Clubs are THRILLED to announce the California Carnival Company will be coming to town! Opening day is Thursday, July 26th through Sunday, July 29th! Discount Advance tickets (for one day, unlimited rides) are $25. At the door, $30. You can also purchase tickets online at http://www.fortbragglionsclub.org/Events.html Proceeds benefit the programs of The Fort Bragg-Mendocino Lions and Leos Clubs.
— Susie de Castro
UN: US INEQUALITY REACHING A DANGEROUS LEVEL DUE TO TRUMP'S 'CRUEL' MEASURES
Donald Trump is deliberately forcing millions of Americans into financial ruin, cruelly depriving them of food and other basic protections while lavishing vast riches on the super-wealthy, the United Nations monitor on poverty has warned.
NOTES ON HEARTACHE & CHAOS
by James Kunstler
I was interviewing a couple of homesteaders on an island north of Seattle at twilight last night when they noticed that the twelve-year-old family dog, name of Lacy, had not come home for dinner as ever and always at that hour. A search ensued and they soon found her dead in the meadow a hundred feet behind the house with two big puncture wounds in her body. Nobody had heard a gunshot. We’d just been talking inside and a nearby window was open. They suspect the dog met up with a black-tailed deer buck out there and was gored to death. We hadn’t heard a yelp, or anything. A week ago, an eagle got one of their geese, and some land-based monster got its companion just the other day.
Nature is what it is, of course, and it’s natural for human beings to think of its random operations as malevolent. That aspersion probably inclines us to think of ourselves as beings apart from nature (some of us, anyway). We at least recognize the tragic side of this condition we’re immersed in, and would wish that encounters between its denizens might end differently — like maybe that two sovereign creatures meeting up by sheer chance on a mild spring evening would exchange pleasantries, ask what each was up to, and go on their ways.
Malevolent nature visited me the night before, back home in upstate New York. Something slit the screened window of my henhouse, got inside, and slaughtered two of my birds. Big Red was missing altogether except for a drift of orange feathers. I found Little Blue just outside in a drift of her own feathers, half-eaten. I suspect a raccoon got them, slitting the window screen cleverly with its dexterous hand-like paws — yes, so much like our own clever hands. (In classic after-the-fact human style, I fortified the window with steel hardware cloth the next day.)
It’s the time of year when the wild critters of field and woodland are birthing their young and anxious to procure food for them. Who can blame them for that. Chicken is an excellent dish. I eat it myself, though never my own hens. I actually rescued Little Blue from the clutches of a red-tailed hawk last year as the hawk struggled to get airborne with her and let go as I screeched at it. Blue recovered from the talon punctures and had a good year — one good year on this earth with all its menace, when it is not busy being beautiful.
I worry about my chickens inordinately, though my friends who’ve been immersed in country doings much longer than me find this ludicrous. Despite our yearnings and pretenses to bethink ourselves specially holy beings, we’re specialists at carnage when we’re not composing string quartets or carrying out God’s work on Wall Street.
The next morning, I motored down Interstate 5 to the Seattle airport to board a giant aluminum and plastic simulacrum of a bird for a rapid journey to Oakland, California. The fantastic violence of an interstate highway is hard to detect when A) you’re hermetically sealed in the capsule of your rent-a-car, and B) you’ve been driving on interstate highways so many years that it seems like a normal human environment. And the fury of a jet airplane rending the fabric of the sky is hardly noticeable when you’re in seat 21-D being served iced drinks and pretzels. Somewhere in this universe — maybe everywhere in it — a skeptical intelligence may be wondering at our doings here.
Something lethal is waiting out there to get you and me, too — some carnivore perhaps, a one-celled demon, a venture capitalist with a snootful of Cabo Wabo “thick cut” tequila behind the wheel of a Chevy Tahoe. It’s not so hard to meet heartache and chaos in this world, and yet love and beauty still abide. Treasure them when you find them. They explain everything.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
A TALE OF TWO STATES
Gavin today: “In so many ways, the world is looking to us. This is California. I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else. Eat your heart out, Texas. California is a special place: a majority-minority state; 27 percent of this state foreign born. The state has brought in 112,000 refugees in the last 15 years: 1,454 Syrian refugees. No other state has taken more Syrian refugees, Mr. Trump. It’s a point of pride.”
THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY is an enormously profitable corporation worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 billion. At the same time employees at the company’s theme park in Anaheim, California are paid so poorly that many of them are living in a tent city not far from the park.
According to one recent study, nearly 1 in 10 workers employed at the park reported being homeless in the past two years, more than 2 in 3 say they are food insecure, and 3 out of 4 employees say they do not make enough money for their basic needs.
— Bernie Sanders
WANTED: AUTOMATIC VEHICLE IN GOOD WORKING ORDER: Looking for a safe, fairly fuel-efficient, automatic automobile for a one-legged driver. Color, make and model, unimportant, but hoping for a car that drives well, is easy to use, and doesn't need tons of work. If you have a used car that is still in working order, registerable, smogable, etc., and you no longer have a regular use for it, please consider passing it on to my pops. (Please, no clutch/standard transmission.) He’s currently using mass transit to get around, and still suffers much phantom pain from his missing ped. It’s painful for him to walk to catch a bus. Can pay a small amount, if necessary. Please contact Steph at 707/671-3927 if you know of a vehicle you’d feel comfy driving yourself. Thank you!
AUTHOR MALCOLM TERENCE will appear at the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino at 6pm June 9 to discuss his new book “Beginner’s Luck: Dispatches from the Klamath Mountains."
Malcolm Terence left his job as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times in the late 1960s and helped found a large hippie commune in the Klamath Mountains. He followed that with logging (and reforestation) work, setting up (and opposing) timber sales, and fighting wildfires. Along the way, he married a local schoolteacher, and raised a family. He still writes for regional papers, teaches school, and cultivates a large garden. Beginner’s Luck is his first book.
In the late 1960s, Malcolm Terence left his job at as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times to look for adventure and may have found more than he bargained for. The era had triggered unprecedented social and political changes in America, tectonic shifts that challenged war and the social order that oppressed people along lines of class, gender, and race. One branch was a back-to-the-land movement, and Terence, who had just traveled for a year managing a rock band, strayed into Black Bear Ranch, a commune just starting in a remote corner of the Klamath Mountains near the California-Oregon border.
Black Bear Ranch still exists, but many of its early residents eventually returned to urban civilization. A few, Terence among them, stayed on in neighboring river towns. Some tried logging, others gold mining, and some tried growing marijuana, all with mixed success. The local mining and timber communities had a checkered opinion of their new hippie neighbors, as did the Native tribes, but it was the kind of place where people helped each other out, even if they didn’t always agree.
When wildfires grew large, Terence and other veterans of the commune joined the fire crews run by the US Forest Service. In between, the Black Bear expats built homesteads, planted gardens, delivered babies, and raised their children. They gradually overcame the skepticism of the locals and joined them in political battles against the use of herbicides in the forest and the Forest Service’s campaign to close all the mining claims. As in the best of organizing efforts, the organizers learned as much as they led.
’Beginner’s Luck’ will appeal to anyone who experienced life on a commune in the 1960s–1970s or who wants to learn about this chapter in modern American history. Terence offers insight into environmental activism and the long history of conflict between resource exploitation and Native American rights without lecturing or pontification. With wit, humor, and humility, his anecdotal essays chronicle a time and place where disparate people came together to form an unlikely community.
* * *
Ch. 2-The Recipe For Chimichangas
or How I Saved the Commune
by Malcolm Terence
I promised more about the commune. First thing to understand: As a crowd of people intent on building a utopian community in the wilderness, we didn’t bring much baggage. I mean physical baggage, like tools and working trucks. There was no shortage of what we call psychic baggage and some fraction of it was useful. For instance, Michael Tierra, the same guy who was singing in that jail cell, had seemed crazy in LA, but he brought incredible music to the Black Bear commune. Myeba Mindlin and Susan Keese, had both lived in the Willard Street Victorian awash in patchouli and tie-dye. They brought links to the San Francisco Diggers with all their Byzantine and poetic grace. Calvin Donely and the other Black militants brought Chairman Mao. Most all of us brought great notions of freedom and fantasy. I personally never brought much, but I brought the recipe for chimichangas.
Some people look back and say those early commune years were about art or style, about politics or spiritual growth, but I was there the winters of ‘68, ‘69 and more. We all knew that Black Bear was about food. We would sit there in the wintry evenings fingering a copy of Julia Childs’ first French cookbook, lusting over dishes that took ingredients we knew we would never see. “Divide ten eggs and set aside the whites,” they’d all begin. “Add a gill of thick cream,” we’d continue, reading to our companions, with the breathy hushed voices of people reading good pornography aloud.
I admit I was tricked. At first I thought the food was good, but maybe because I spent my first two weeks at Black Bear in that jail cell in Yreka, an overgrown truck stop in Northern California. Even lentils tasted good for a while when I got out. That’s a whole other story, but let me brush on it. I’d met Roselee Solow Patron at the Digger base camp in Dunsmuir. Still years ahead of the women’s movement, Rose was tall, confident and assertive—a regal woman. I was especially impressed that she had a huge, warm flannel sleeping bag, big enough for two by contemporary standards.
Anyway, Roselee and I were hitch-hiking up to Black Bear along what is now Interstate 5 when a young, well-scrubbed hippie couple picked us up in a new model van, the perfect ride. They were easy to talk into a side trip to Black Bear, where we’d never been yet. On the way, we stopped for gas in Etna. (In the sound track, ominous foreshadowing music should swell at this point.) While the kid was pumping gas, I went exploring in an old Victorian house that was getting demolished next door to Corrigan’s Bar. The place had been stripped but good. All that was left was an old kitchen sink tossed in the corner and some broken pipes. I remembered that John Albion had sent word that the main house plumbing wasn’t too good so I asked the gas pump kid if I could do some salvage. “Why not?” he said. “Everyone else does.”
We threw the sink in the truck and headed up to Black Bear where only a few people were living so far. They were delighted to see us. “We brought groceries,” we boasted.
“Did you bring any weed?”
We trudged up to the house with barely a hug when they heard we were herb-free and Martín dredged out an old box of stems and seeds, to try one more time to winnow out enough green for a welcome-to-the-commune smoke. (Martín was originally called “Marty”, as befit his New York roots, but he switched to “Martín”, pronounced Spanish style as “Mar-Teen.” It may have sounded more California cosmopolitan.) Just then one of the women said, “Jeez, here comes a cop car! How did they know?”
Martín told me to stall out front while he slipped out the back with the shoebox. I confidently walked out to distract these simple rural constables. “How are you fellows?” I said. Big smiles all around.
“Doing fine.” they said in unison. These guys are really dumb, I thought to myself.
“Were you in Etna today?” one of them asked.
“Did you do anything while you were there?” he asked.
“What’s there to do in Etna?” I said. They didn’t get the joke. “No, I didn’t do anything.”
“Didn’t you do anything?” he tried again. “You know, like take anything?”
“You mean the sink? You want it back?” These cops had to be the biggest hicks I’d ever met.
One of the hicks pulled a card out of his pocket and read in monotone, ”I’d like to advise you of your right to counsel, your right to remain silent and your right not to be questioned without an attorney.”
Maybe they weren’t the jerks I’d thought. While I was revising my opinion, my hands were behind my back in hick handcuffs and I was being ushered into a hick squad car. I spent the night (and the next 14 nights) in Yreka jail. “Whatchya in for?” asked the inmates, who’d never seen a hippie up close. “Possession of hair,” I grumbled.
But this is the story of how I saved the commune with the recipe for chimichangas and I’m getting lost in self-pity. I hardly heard from the Ranch in lockup. One night the jailor we called Turkeyneck yelled back to us, “Hey, Terence. Your friend Michael called and said his girlfriend had a baby girl. He also said he can’t make your bail.” Everybody in the cell block laughed for a while. That was the daughter they named Shasta Free. Welcome to this world, Shasta.
It was a lousy time to have long hair. I’d already been in jail twice that year on trumped up this or that and it wasn’t even September. I was starting to compare the cuisine of the different jails. Yreka was way better than either San Francisco’s Hall of Justice or L.A. But two weeks of corn meal mush and peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches on white bread took their toll. Every morning, just before I woke, I’d have a dream that I was in jail. They’d wake us by clicking on very bright lights. As I woke, I’d think, it was all just a dream. Then I’d wake some more and be in jail. Suffice it to say that the days in jail flew by like years. The public defender couldn’t remember my name. The trial got put off until the following spring.
I finally got released on O.R., short hand for “Own Recognizance” which is itself jailhouse lingo for “No Bail Required.” After all that, I decided the ranch was the safest place to wait for my trial. Fresh air, Roselee’s sleeping bag and no more white bread. I thought I was in heaven. That was early September. By mid-October there were 30 of us living together out in the middle of nowhere and some of the romance was disappearing. So was the food. One afternoon a handful of us came in for lunch and it was brown rice served on white rice. And winter had barely started. This was a crisis. We decided to take the Coors truck, all I had left to show for that year in show business, and head out shopping in Eureka. (I know you want to hear more about the year in show business, but this is really a short instructional chapter on making chimichangas so it isn’t the place. It is true, though, that story that I once danced with Tina Turner.)
“We,” in this case anyway, was John Albion, Richard Marley and me. We had the truck. We had the need. We didn’t have any money. I kept asking John and Richard how we were gonna fill the truck with food or even the gas tank with fuel to get home when we didn’t have a cent. I guess they couldn’t hear me very good over the roar of the truck. We spent the night at the house of Mike Mullen, a longshoreman friend of Richard’s. The next day we ran around meeting local bohemian artists who wanted all the stories about the new Black Bear adventure. And then that afternoon we met a man named Merlin. Merlin had done well in the chemistry business—psychedelic chemistry—and was impressed by our plans. He sized us up, to see if urban hippies could survive in the woods, and I think we passed the test when we crawled under the truck in the Humboldt County mud to readjust the baling wire that held up the muffler. He passed more than a $1,000 to Richard, a huge sum at that time, and asked if we were interested in a backhoe. I didn’t know what one was and thought he said “some tobacco” so I couldn’t understand why Richard and John got so excited.
We hit every food wholesaler in town and two days later returned to the ranch with a full load of provisions. That was the first food run, a theatrical event that was eventually elevated to a fine art. This is important because the ingredients for chimichangas for a commune winter are the following:
4,000 lbs Tule Lake Wheat.
1,000 lbs pinto beans.
55 gal. Vegetable oil.
300 lbs onions.
20 pounds garlic.
5 pounds chili powder.
1 pound cheddar cheese. (Optional)
This also happened to be the contents of the larder.
Start by dividing the wheat. Feed half to the chickens. Grind the rest into flour.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Not much happened at Black Bear for those first couple of years. It was not until 1970 or so that I remembered chimichangas. The food had gotten better than brown and white rice but only a little. Sometimes Glenn Lyons and John Salter got a deer but that would be gone in two days. Glenn and John were both university academics who came to the commune as researchers, and, like researchers the world over, had “gone native,” as they say. Willis Conrad, one of our first friends on the river, was one of the traditional Karuk fishermen and he’d sometimes bring up sacks of fresh-caught salmon. But mostly it was beans and rice. For variety, some nights the beans would be undercooked. We tried cooking things by substitution. Maybe corn starch would substitute for eggs? So Zoë Leader tried baking brownies with a recipe from the nutritionist Adelle Davis, but without eggs, an ingredient we only dreamed of. They came out of the oven smoking, black, with a texture like some roofing material. She’d just used up the last chocolate and took off for the woods in disgust. Redwood Kardon came by and tried one. “Not bad. Tastes like really good burnt chocolate.” Efrem Korngold tried some too and nodded with approval. Not bad at all. Word spread. By the time Zoe returned, the burnt pan was licked clean.
So it was, anyway, our day to cook. Doug Hamilton. Mark Gabriel. Me. We reviewed our choices. White beans and brown rice. Brown beans and white rice. We were artists in our souls, but without much palette. Then I remembered chimichangas. They were in those days only found in Sonora and in southern Arizona where I’d grown up. Now days you find them in the frozen grease section of every 7-11 in the world. Right next to the microwave. They were just deep-fried burritos, really, but in those days they were a well-kept secret.
So we hauled 20 pounds of wheat up to the Corona Mill hand-grinder in the attic and Doug started grinding. Mark started a long painstaking round of guitar tuning. I started telling a story about when Linda Ronstadt was my house guest. After about a pound of wheat, Doug rebelled. “Howkum you azzholes are just standing around and I’m getting stuck with all the work?” So I started trading off with him and also held the small table steady, which made it go faster. In guilt, Mark started actually playing guitar and also took turns at the mill.
At that point, Gail Ericson came through, looking for her daughter Shasta. She gave us an uncharitable look and asked how many grown men it took to grind wheat. We all tried to look as busy as possible. Gail could be awfully ungenerous in those days. I remembered months earlier, when there was some wine and everybody was in a frisky mood, I came over to Gail and quietly asked if she wanted to slip off and make love. “Oh, you mean fuck?” she said in a voice that carried across the room, and walked away laughing. People turned to me with smirks and then turned away.
When the flour was done, we fired the great US Army stove, started the beans and started making flour tortillas for 60 hungry communards. The beans were already soaked and we started early. I hated them undercooked. Cover them barely with water. Add onions, garlic and chili powder. Are you writing this down? When the skins of the beans wrinkle, pour in some oil. Never add salt until they’re done. Don’t add too much water and don’t cover the pot. As the stack of tortillas grew, a sense of excitement spread through the main house and then across the ranch. Something new for dinner. We began rolling the beans into the tortillas and dipping them into the hot oil where they sizzled the same way I remembered at the little place across from the Greyhound station in Tucson. Carol Hamilton and Geba Greenberg began helping us. Michael Tierra slipped away to get elderberry wine that he’d already aged for a week. Then he started playing music with Kenoli Oleari and John Cedar, who were visiting from the Free Bakery collective in Oakland.
Some nights there just wasn’t enough food cooked. On nights like that, the big eaters like Redwood or Martín would sit near the children in case one of them fell asleep with their food unfinished. Every one of us would have starved before we shorted the food to a child. But it’s also a sin to waste food and they wanted to be first in line to head off any sinful moment. Everybody in those days was so thin it was a little scary. We’re much less scary now.
It was a culinary triumph. We’d cooked way too much and every morsel was eaten. Some were a little burnt, most were perfect and not one was undercooked. They made a crunchy, resistant noise as you bit them: hot and dry on the outside; spicy and juicy in the center. “These chingyjamas are great,” Elsa Marley said and she gave me an affectionate kiss. More music. More wine. Tommy Drury, best of the Black Bear cooks, praised my invention. Praise from Tom was praise indeed. Smokers slipped outside to light up and tell much better stories than the non-smokers ever told. I watched Catherine Thompson Guerra whisper something to Danny Guyer and they slipped away. Another couple left, arm in arm. Buoyed by my new celebrity, I edged over next to Rhoda Bagno, a beautiful friend of Elsa Marley’s, and in my most suave voice asked her if she wanted to fuck. She turned and stared at me. “I don’t fuck. I make love,” she said, and so there could be no doubt, she turned and walked away.
IT CAN HAPPEN HERE (and probably is)
From Pot To Poppies
Deputies raid, destroy 17 tons of opium poppy plants
Northern California officials say they destroyed 17 tons of poppy plants in what they’re calling the largest opium seizure in the state’s history. The Monterey County Herald reported Thursday that sheriff’s deputies raided seven locations last week where the poppies were growing and being processed into opium, an active ingredient in heroin and other narcotics. An eighth location was raided earlier in the month. Monterey County Sheriff Commander John Thornburg said the seizure and destruction of the plants is the largest opium raid in state history. He said no arrests have been made and the investigation continues. Thornburg said all the sites are on private property and investigators have been in contact with the owners.
—Press Democrat news services
AS IF POT RULES AREN'T COMPLICATED ENOUGH…
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to Discuss Frameworks for Cannabis Overlay Zones and Cannabis Zoning Exceptions
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors contracted with Michael Baker International to prepare amendments to the County’s current cannabis regulations to establish two types of overlay zones: areas with modified cannabis cultivation regulations to allow for operators to enjoy more flexible cannabis regulations and development standards (Opt-In Zones), and areas where new commercial cannabis cultivation would be prohibited and existing permitted commercial cultivation would sunset (Opt-Out Zones). The Board also asked Michael Baker to identify specific exceptions to the current cannabis cultivation regulations that promote increased participation in the County’s current cannabis permitting process (Exceptions).
A public discussion will be held with the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on June 12, 2018. The meeting will be held at 9:00 a.m. in the Board Chambers, 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1070, Ukiah. The public discussion will include a presentation by Michael Baker that will outline a draft frameworks for proposed changes to the Mendocino County Code that would allow for the incorporation of the Exceptions components, and the creation of the Opt-In and Opt-Out zoning overlays. Following the public discussion with the Board of Supervisors, members of the public will have the opportunity to provide additional input and feedback. On dates to be determined, draft ordinances that reflect the input of members of the Cannabis Overlay Working Group, the public, and the Board of Supervisors, will be presented at public hearings to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for consideration and adoption.
The proposed frameworks are available for public review at www.mendocinocounty.org/cannabis. Public comments can be submitted electronically in advance of the meeting by emailing email@example.com. For more information regarding the meeting, please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio tonight!
I'll be in Fort Bragg for tonight's show. It's 325 N. Franklin, next door to the Tip Top bar. Just stop by any time after 9pm, negotiate your way between and around the various elements of the entryway diorama, head for the lighted room at the back and get my attention. I'll be reading stories on the radio all night long; you're not interrupting, just barge in with your musical instrument or show-and-tell item or alien abduction dream or fluency in a foreign language to swear colorfully in and we'll take it from there.
The deadline to email your writing for me to read it on MOTA is always about 5 or 6pm the night of the show. So you've got a fair while to get that together for tonight, and even more time for next week. Paste your poem or essay or kvetch or sale item or event notice into the body of an email, check that it's going to firstname.lastname@example.org and not also to the whole group, unless that's what you want, and press send. See that? I have taken all the deadliness out of deadlines. Who put the deadliness /in/ deadlines? It's a mystery, but it doesn't sing like bomp she-bomp she-bomp, and thank Christ it doesn't have to. They don't write 'em like that anymore.
Besides all that, you can have /your very own whole regular real radio show of your own style and devising/ on KNYO. Contact Bob Young: email@example.com and introduce yourself; he'll get you started. Or just visit my show; you can see what it feels like to be on the air, and it might give you an idea.
Memo of the Air, Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to 4 or 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or http://kmecradio.org and if none of that works for you try http://TuneIn.com and look up KNYO-LP. (TuneIn sometimes starts your connection with a 30-second ad for something, I dunno, beer, car insurance, condoms; don't be discouraged.)
PS. Also, re: the discussion in the MCN Discussion listserv about ancient aliens, somehow involving racism —the dirty racist aliens, darn them— reminds me of years ago when Alan Haack and some others accused me of racism for favoring modern proven evidence-based scientific medicine over prehistoric hoodoo and claptrappian prayer to the Spirit Turtle. I can see now where they might have had a point buried somewhere in there. I guess it depends on whose Spirit Turtle is being painted, and if homeopathic doses of paint are involved, which is no paint at all but just waving a brush over the poor bewildered thing and thinking happy thoughts. Further, if it's the wrong kind of turtle it will just bite you, and it's better if it's the brush than your fingers.