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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, July 7, 2018

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When the smoke cleared Friday morning, the “Peach” fire had run up Octopus Mountain (or Tarwater Hill) to burn some 90 acres of scrub oak and brush, singeing two Wasson Ranch barns as it burned. It was seen from the air to be much bigger than previously reported. According to AV Fire Chief Andres Avila crews were still mopping up and inspecting every foot of ground for hotspots Friday morning. The work was tough and tiring because the terrain is rough and steep going up Octopus Mountain where the fire was eventually stopped.

Avila said Calfire had not yet made an official statement about the cause, but the blaze did not seem suspicious; two points of origin are being looked at. There were no injuries, no structures lost. About two dozen local firefighters with 12 units fought the fire in addition to six full Calfire crews of three each, plus a water tender, a CalFire dozer, a private dozer from Hiatt Construction, plus one more water tender from Elk, plus two Calfire helicopters and one fire-bomber aircraft.

Additional coast crews came over to backfill stations in the Valley while AV crews were putting the fire out. “Everyone did a great job,” said an audibly exhausted Avila. “That steep uphill terrain was a lot of work.” Much of that inch by inch mop up, it should be said, was accomplished by inmate crews from Parlin Fork and Chamberlain Creek.

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Cal Fire: Peach Fire Near Boonville 90 Percent Contained

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HOSPITAL RECOUNT ENDS (and Hardin v. Coast Hospital et al)

by Malcolm Macdonald

Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) has survived a recount of its narrow victory margin (2/3 vote requirement) for a parcel tax. The revenue from that tax should bring in an additional $1.5 – $1.7 million annually. However, as detailed in the July 4th AVA, the hospital still faces a $3.5 million dollar deficit in its net income. If you want to look at the situation differently, MCDH's current operating loss is approximately $4.5 million.

On top of the financial woes, the hospital, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bob Edwards, the president of its board of directors, Steve Lund, and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Wade Sturgeon, are still defendants in an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by MCDH's former Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), Ellen Hardin. Her lawsuit alleges fourteen causes of action against the defendants. The allegations are: (1) violations of California Labor Code sections 98.6 and 1102.5; (2) violation of the California False Claims Act, Cal. Gov’t Code §12653; (3) violation of the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §3170; (4) violation of the right to free speech under the First Amendment, cognizable through 42 U.S.C. §1983; (5) discrimination based on age and gender, Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(a); (6) associational discrimination, Cal. Gov’t Code §§12940(a), 12926(o); (7)harassment/hostile work environment, Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(j); (8) retaliation (Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(h); (9) failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(k); (10) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (11) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (12) negligent hiring, supervision, and retention; (13) defamation; and (14) a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act, Cal. Labor Code §§ seq.

The fourth, tenth, eleventh, and thirteenth causes of action are asserted against all of the defendants. The seventh is asserted against all Defendants except Lund. All other causes of action are brought only against MCDH.

In court documents released in June, Judge Jon Tigar of the Northern District of California ruled on the defendants' motion to dismiss eight of the causes of action, the second, third, fourth, seventh, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth. One way to read this motion is that, for the time being, the hospital did not contest Ms. Hardin's allegations regarding violations of the state labor code, age and gender discrimination, workplace retaliation, and failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

In short, the defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted in part and denied in part. The motion was granted, with leave to amend for Ms. Hardin, as to the fourth cause of action for violation of the First Amendment as it related to speech on alleged FEHA (Fair Employment Housing Act) violations; the seventh cause of action for violation of California Government Code section 12940(j); the tenth cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, dismissed for Defendants Lund and Sturgeon only; the eleventh cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress; the twelfth cause of action for negligent supervision, hiring, and retention; and the thirteenth cause of action for defamation, as to Defendants Lund and Sturgeon only. The Defendants motion was denied in all other respects.

Relating to the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the judge denied Mr. Edwards' attempt to dismiss. Hardin was also allowed a chance to amend her claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defamation allegations were dismissed against Lund and Sturgeon, but will continue against CEO Edwards. In every cause that Defendants won a dismissal, Plaintiff (Ms. Hardin) was granted a chance to amend the allegation. That means that some or all of the original allegations could eventually be reinstated

As with many questions of legality, a close reading of Judge Tigar's ruling is required to fully comprehend its diverse repercussions. For instance, the attempt to dismiss the United States Code 1983 allegation against Mr. Lund was denied because of his personal involvement in her termination.

Judge Tigar denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the causes of action relating to both federal and state false claims law. The core of these two causes revolves around Hardin alleging that she complained to Edwards about possible Medicare fraud and that she was retaliated against because of raising such questions.

Depositions for the defendants are scheduled to take place during the second week of July, though recent filings have their attorneys fighting this with new motions filed before Judge Tigar. Don't expect any kind of quick resolution here.

Ms. Hardin's attorney is Twila S. White. The Defendants are represented by the law firm of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP. Gordon Rees, for brevity's sake, appears to have three attorneys on the MCDH case. Gordon Rees is among the sixty largest law firms in the nation. It employs 135 attorneys in its San Francisco office alone and has offices in most of the major cities throughout the United States. Ms. White appears to be flying solo on behalf of Ms. Hardin. Fifty percent of MCDH's legal fees are paid via their liability insurance.

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by Mike A’Dair, Willits Weekly

(Ed note: Back in late April and early May Willits Weekly reporter Mike A’Dair covered all eight candidates for Third District Supervisor, first from comments at a candidates’ forum, followed up by Q&A. Now that John Haschak and John Pinches have been declared winners for the run-off election in November with nearly identical vote totals, we’re reprinting the relevant portions of A’Dair’s reports, courtesy, the Willits Weekly)

Intro/Forum coverage: John Pinches distinguished himself from the pack by being the odd-man-out on two important questions. First, whereas seven of the candidates said they did not support the 40% raise the board of supervisors voted for themselves in December 2017 and would not accept it, Pinches said he would take it. “My years of experience have taught me one thing: a supervisor’s job is not a part-time job. It’s more than a full-time job. It’s a seven-day-a-week job. You’re one of five people looking over a just under $300 million budget. I don’t think you could find chief executives to work for that kind of money and to work with that kind of allocations. But I will say the reason I am gonna accept that salary increase is, I’ll be worth every damn bit of it.”

While seven of the eight candidates said they did not approve of the board of supervisors’ handling of the Grist Creek asphalt plant project, Pinches defended the board’s approach on that issue. While Pinches did not specifically say he would have voted for it, he appeared to be building toward that answer when he was cut off by gracious yet commanding forum moderator Rachel Britton before he could conclude his statement.

“Presently, in Mendocino County we have one location, that’s in the Ukiah Valley – North State Street – where we manufacture pavement for all our roads,” Pinches said. “We have over 1,014 county roads in Mendocino County. The Grist Creek project, which was just about seven miles downstream from Longvale, is a temporary asphalt plant. The reason it was placed there is, that’s where the rock is, folks.”

John Haschak left no doubts about where he stood on the Grist Creek asphalt plant issue. “I would not have voted for the Grist Creek asphalt plant. What the county did was – they bypassed the CEQA review of that whole project, and so, by doing that, they didn’t do their proper due diligence for protecting the neighbors of that area, or the environment that we live in. It was a misguided decision from the get-go.”

The candidates were asked: Would you prefer to work under the chief executive officer model or a chief administrative officer model? The question refers to a change made to the structure of county government in 2006. Prior to that date, the county operated under a CAO model, and the board of supervisors was more involved in the day-to-day management of the county. In 2006, supervisors voted to switch to the CEO model, and the board hired an executive officer, a CEO, who is charged with day-to-day county management. The board sets policy, and the CEO implements it.

The candidates were divided on the question of support for using the old Howard Hospital in Willits as the site for a high-security, “lock-down” mental health facility. Haschak said he supported it. Pinches had reservations.


Please tell readers about an important issue or issues in your hometown.

Pinches: Housing and road repair are extremely important. Affordability in housing must be acted upon. With the decline in the cannabis industry, more and more families are having a hard time. The roads are in desperate need of repair. Our timber industry is on the rebound and will continue to grow. Tourism will increase if we improve our infrastructure to accommodate tourists. Motels, parks and better advertisement are just a few areas we can improve upon.

Haschak: Three critical issues are:

  1. Providing new sustainable jobs for a changing economy. Career and technical education, broadband, and finding opportunities for more affordable housing will help our economy.
  2. Pass common-sense cannabis regulations that will actually benefit all in the community as well as enhance our economy. We need to streamline the rules and fees so that the small farmers are not kept in the black market but rather brought into compliance.
  3. Upgrade our disaster plans, including early warning and safe evacuation routes, and create a second access for Brooktrails that will be critical in case of emergencies.

Do you support the county using the old Howard Hospital in Willits as a mental health facility?

Haschak: Voters approved Measure B to provide funding for mental health facilities and services. Instead of centralizing everything in Ukiah, it makes sense to utilize the old Howard Hospital. It will be half the cost and a much quicker way to get what we need. It will also provide employment and services in Willits and the Third District. The Mendocino County Behavioral Health Advisory Board has studied this option. We don’t need to pay for more studies.

Pinches: The county mental health budget exceeds $30 million annually. Voters approved the funding for a new mental health facility. Willits is centrally located in the county. There is a committee headed by our Sheriff Tom Allman looking at all of the possibilities and sites. It is a good group of people, and I trust they will come up with the best location. One of my concerns is that this new facility doesn’t take away from the mental health services that we now provide even in the rural areas of the county.

Do you think that County CEO Carmel Angelo is doing a good job, and would you say the executive officer model for the county government is working?

Haschak: First and foremost, we have a democracy and the supervisors represent us at the county level. They set the policies. The CEO’s role is to implement the policies set forth by the supervisors. The supervisors should answer to their constituents, not to the CEO. If the CEO or structure does not allow this, then there must be change. Yet there have been problems where one supervisor wants one thing from a department and another wants the opposite. Board policy must prevail and the CEO must implement that policy.

Pinches: Yes. When you propose change it always brings an opposition, but ultimately it is the board that is responsible. I was on the board when we changed the model from a CAO model to a CEO model. I voted for this change and I still support it.

With the legalization of marijuana, Mendocino County is changing. What is your vision for the future of Mendocino County, and what will you do as supervisor to make that vision a reality?

Haschak: Mendocino County has a history of being innovative and individualistic, embracing a rural way of life, and respecting the contributions of all residents. We are at a turning point in our county. We need a sustainable economy with living-wage jobs that respect our environment. Career training and job skill programs should be provided to all who want it. Let’s work on getting broadband and affordable housing. My commitment to the people of the Third District is that I will work hard on each issue, that I will listen to all constituents, and be fair and transparent in my decision-making.

Pinches: With the decrease in the prices received for their product from the increased supply and competition from other states and counties, it is certainly a more competitive industry. In order for our growers to compete, they will need to strive to have the best product on the market. As supervisor I will work closely with the state and county to make cannabis regulations user-friendly and simple for our producers. Whether it’s cannabis, timber, manufacturing, or tourism we must work on infrastructure (roads and water) to be competitive.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “That fire Thursday was just down the road from here. I suited up and was ready to help out but our noble firefighters told me, ‘Stand down, Little Dog. We got it under control’."

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The USGS reported (3:53 am) a 2.6 magnitude earthquake that had an epicenter on “Hulber Road” in Yorkville - 15.5 miles south of Ukiah.

The temblor was two miles deep and generated three responses of “feeling it” - a doubtful report from Windsor (34 miles from the epicenter) and two outright liars from Dixon, CA (86 miles away) and Myers Flat (96 miles away). (That would be Hulbert Road) — MSP

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FORMER AV FIRE CHIEF Colin Wilson writes: We just had our second earthquake today (Friday). The first was at about 0455 (a.m.) and was strong enough (2.4) to wake my dog and me up. It was centered in the headwaters of Dry Creek on the Hulbert Ranch Subdivision according to the USGS site. The second felt about the same strength and I suspect was located at about the same place. It just happened at about 1555 this afternoon.

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Lake and Mendocino Counties’ emergency management systems include the FCC-regulated “Emergency Alert System” that produces programming interruptions (“ticker-tape” type streams across the bottom of televised images and approved/designated official radio barks) triggered and transmitted by the regional authorities, which — until this year — were used solely by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Lake County deployed this service for the first time in memorable history during the “Pawnee” Fire in the eastern rural enclave and outback of Spring Valley (and Long Valley) settlements and ranches on the southwestern flank of Indian Valley Reservoir. The fire rapidly devoured the area around the southern end of the reservoir, where the dam releases water to the North Fork of Cache Creek — owned and controlled by the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District — and the “subdivision” of Spring Valley, which was heavily defended by Lake County’s Northshore Fire Protection District in cooperation with CalFire as the incident’s “unified command” operation, with support from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (executing rapid evacuation from the imperiled ~600 dwellings).

Southern spread of the uncontrollable (then) wildland conflagration caused the evacuation of an enclave known as the Double Eagle Ranch (another Lake County “subdivision” of off-the-gridders and social hermits) twice; once early in the week, lifted quickly, and then again on the next weekend. Highway closures off and on left the “repopulated” Spring Valley residents virtually trapped by the Yolo County “County” fire off Highway 16, even though the western wildfire was by then at least 75% contained and residents in Lake County were being served by a multi-agency “local assistance center” (on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

Vicious winds and intense smoke (accompanied by high-90s temperatures and depleted humidity levels) surrounded the firefighters day and night, as initial efforts to drive through otherwise impenetrable brush succeeded in creating solid fire lines, while continuous bombardment from the air squelched the fire’s avaricious appetite. The whole effort was a marvelous demonstration of coordination and dedication of state resources, spearheaded by our 22-man local Fire Protection District.

12 Spring Valley homes were incinerated quickly in the first day of the Pawnee, before the massive onslaught of air and ground forces penetrated the canyonside homesteads along Wolf Creek, with towering trees lining narrow homely roadways where, on Saturday, PG&E, AT&T, and multiple vegetation management crews were already replacing power poles and stripping hazardous limbs before dismantling the denuded trunks 40-50 feet in the murky sky.

Those who chose not to evacuate were without means of replenishing supplies for most of the week, even though the lone provider of mercantile and nutriments (“The Pantry”) was open as soon as the power was restored to it; venturers headed in its direction, from besieged surrounding neighborhoods, were told that they were not permitted to be “out” and if they were caught again they could be arrested. We never got confirmation from the Sheriff’s Office of the intention or criminal penalty of this infraction, but of course local law enforcement also had the task of busting advantitious human vultures — one of which was nailed and jailed with alacrity, so their edict (as reported by distressed non-evacuees) is understandable if crude.

Much like Mendocino County, local resident LE and FPD personnel are in short supply. Remember that only five deputies were on duty the afternoon of the Valley Fire, in 2015, at the beginning of a mass evacuation that sent somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 refugees out of Lake County in the course of a few horrific hours.

Sparse public information was released/issued by the Lake County officials — in spite of three years’ effort by the bureaucratically deaf and dumb official agency (Lake County’s Office of Emergency Services, funded by Homeland Security grants to produce massive catch-up documents like the recent update of our then approved 1996 Emergency Operations Plan); nearly all the minute-to-minute useful information came from Facebook pages, most of them “administered” by professional dispatch operator friends.

KPFZ, Lake County’s Community (Volunteer) Radio Station, hosted the next best thing throughout the week, with ample contributions from CalFire’s Public Information Officer, Guy Anderson, and “open source” audio reports from friends and local residents throughout the week. We’ll be discussing the recently published Lake County Grand Jury Report, which devotes considerable space (the bulk of the tome) to the state of our Emergency Operations Management services and the County’s ineptitude following the Valley Fire in 2015, on Sunday, July 8, from 2 to 4 pm (streaming live from and looking forward to the contributions from eye witnesses and deep readers alike. This ain’t over by a long shot.

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A MENDOCINO COUNTY MAN who hunted a protected South African leopard and smuggled it into the U.S. was ordered this week to pay a $10,000 fine and serve three years probation.


January 11, 2018

Oakland, State of California, United States of America

Adam Thatcher Lawrence, 38, admits to hunting and killing a leopard in South Africa in 2011 without the trophy’s export permit, returning to South Africa in 2012, smuggling the leopard’s skin and skull to Mozambique and importing the trophies into the United States with forged and backdated certificates. Lawrence agrees to dispose of the two trophies, the rifle with which he killed the leopard and the puma skull, the carved hippopotamus tooth, the whale bones and seal skin seized at his home in Mendocino County by US Fish and Wildlife agents, for the benefit of the federal State.

The PD’s facebook comments on Mr. Lawrence are pretty harsh:

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Reflecting on the Northern California wildfires, Rex Grady argues that PG&E should be held financially accountable if we were negligent in our safety and maintenance practices (“Is immunity for PG&E a good idea?” Close to Home, Monday). We agree, and the state’s laws provide for this. Anyone who was harmed has the ability to take us to court to be compensated if we were negligent. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission has the ability to penalize us.

We don’t seek a free pass for wrongdoing. To the contrary, we are asking only that we not be held financially accountable where we weren’t negligent. That seems obvious, but California courts have enforced strict financial liability on utilities under the doctrine of inverse condemnation. This flawed doctrine demands that we pay damages and guaranteed fees for lawyers even if we meet the state’s safety standards and regardless of fault. With billions of dollars of damages on the line, this isn’t sustainable. Imagine trying to operate your business or your household if you were financially liable for harm under these conditions.

Failure to reform inverse condemnation will severely harm our ability to provide customers with energy that is affordable, reliable and safe and will dramatically undermine our ability to meet the state’s clean-energy goals. We must work together to protect customers and overcome the challenges that extreme weather and wildfires present our state, or we will fail together.

Tim Fitzpatrick

Chief communications officer, PG&E

San Francisco

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 6, 2018

Anderson, Annis, Bernal-Jimenez

JASON ANDERSON, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia.

DOUGLAS ANNIS, Talmage. Failure to appear.

GENARO BERNAL-JIMENEZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Clausen, Fine, Johnson

JAMES CLAUSEN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

EMMA FINE, Fort Bragg. Battery, resisting, competency status.

MADISON JOHNSON, Potter Valley. DUI, renting vehicle to person with ignition interlock device restriction, probation revocation.

Lambert, Murray, Otwell

KENNETH LAMBERT, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

JEFFREY MURRAY, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, protective order violation.

JONAH OTWELL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

Peters, Reyes-Campos, Ringler

BYRON PETERS, Covelo. DUI, county parole violation.

LATOYA REYES-CAMPOS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

CODY RINGLER, Laytonville. Disobeying court order, probation revocation.

Sanchez, Stock, Thornhill

SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

MORGAN STOCK, Trout, Louisiana/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ROBBINS THORNHILL, Petaluma/Ukiah. Criminal threats.

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I REMAIN ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS as disheartened by the real listlessness of the Democrats as I do the truly zealous pursuit of cruelty of Trump and co. It is from the humdrum of the modern liberal society that the spectacular barbarity of Donald Trump arises. How helpless one feels under a Republican, how hopeless one feels under a Democrat. Their lack on enthusiasm for life is a real bummer. And for what reason? Corporate culture demands the submission of the soul and it eliminates all emotions of uplift.

Such a world drives people insane and eventually to suicide. Suicide is something that has been in the news lately. And I couldn’t help thinking of Anthony Bourdain, who I really do like (his politics seem to be near perfect). But with his passing I am reminded of all the sad and empty Americans (myself not too long ago) who must fill themselves up with some distant, mysterious and lovely place outside our borders. Our lives are so empty, so artificial, so material, filled with such high expectations and such despair, that we must, we simply must look elsewhere for our meaning and our purpose. And this is a violence to people outside our borders. It is a violence when we send in troops with guns. It is a violence when we send in tourists with cameras. Both extract. Some take oil, some take life lessons. It should also be noted that if liberals want a sexy story about colonialism and exploitation, they need not buy a plane ticket. If you need a story about the tyranny of foreigners, ask a Native American.

The question is not whether the colonialism of tourism heals the soul (it obviously doesn’t) but why it is necessary for us to engage in at all? Why must we look outside of America for any meaning, purpose or truth? One can see on the flip side the ignorance and incuriosity of Trump (who Bourdain made fun of for going to the same restaurant every day). Yet, one might ask, isn’t this what we all should be doing? Returning to our own roots. Our local businesses. Our local communities. Our local politics. The failure of globalization is what the nativist Donald Trump exposed. Of course when it comes to corrupt global capitalists, he is worse than any President yet. But his statements about the misery for the working class under globalization is accurate. The problem is that Mr. Trump could care less about working people. That being said, liberals would be wrong to embrace globalization just because Trump pretends to hate it.

— Nick Pemberton

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A TOUR GUIDE was showing a group of tourists Beethoven’s grave. Coming up close, they heard faint notes emanating from the grave going. dah di di dit, dah di di dit, dah di di dit. The curious tourists asked, “What is that? The tour guide said, “No worry, that is just Beethoven decomposing."

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CorPirate Insurrection Moves In

By the 1880s the Party financing was beginning to loom as the increasingly critical factor in electoral campaigns. In 1872, for instance, both Parties spent a total of only $300,000 in the Presidential campaign of that year; but by 1880, the Republicans had initiated the canvass of businesses and industries which stood to benefit from tariff protection [in this case, “Legislated” to enrich the Sugar Trust], and campaign financing was suddenly on a new footing. By tapping manufacturers, the Republicans were able to raise over $1.8 million in 1880, outspending the Democrats by a factor of more than three to one. In 1884 William C. Whitney was appointed Grover Cleveland’s campaign manager and assigned the task of ensuring that the Democrats were not again outspent.

A wealthy socialite with good connections in Wall Street, Whitney personally raised more than $500,000 from corporations during the 1884 campaign. Henry Havemeyer [Lord of Sugar], according to one high Democratic official, contributed heavily to the Party coffers.

Havemeyer had no political views save those which served his own fortune or the sugar refining industry, and no strong commitment to either party. Years later, he created something of a scandal by admitting that he generally gave substantial sums to both parties at the same time, a practice which to him seemed eminently reasonable. Although raised in a family prominent in New York Democratic circles, Havemeyer moved in the upper echelons of one party as easily as the other.

(“Conspiracy for Empire; Big Business, Corruption, and the Politics of Imperialism in America, 1876-1907” by Luzviminda Bartolome Francisco and Jonathan Shepard)

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TRUMP HAD BIG PLANS To Repair Our Crumbling Infrastructure.

Here’s What America Got Instead.

"There is, however, one area of federal investment on which Trump and the Congress have worked overtime with remarkable unanimity to increase spending: the Pentagon, which is slated to receive more than $6 trillion over the next decade. This year alone increases will bring total spending on the Pentagon and related agencies (like the Department of Energy where work on nuclear warheads takes place) to $716 billion. That $6-trillion, 10-year figure represents more than 30 times as much direct spending as the president’s $200 billion infrastructure plan."

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Did you know that although he is best known today for telling diabetics to “check your blood sugar and check it often,” Wilford Brimley was one of the best no-nonsense tough guys in the movies. Back in the day, no one played gruff and plainspoken as well as Wilford Brimley. Whether he was playing a senior citizen in Cocoon, a U.S. attorney in Absence of Malice, or a stern father figure in countless movies and TV shows, Wilford Brimley was the epitome of an honest, upright, no bullshit authority figure. It has been a while since Brimley appeared onscreen but anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s can remember hearing his distinctive voice and fearing that, somehow, Wilford Brimley knew everything that he had ever done wrong.

Wilford Brimley played many roles but, for me, he will always be Postmaster General Henry Adkins in The Junk Mail episode of Seinfeld. In this episode, Kramer announces that he is no longer going to accept any more junk mail and dares to suggest that we might not need a postal service at all. Who better to set Kramer straight than the U.S. Postmaster General, Henry Adkins? Even if it means having to put off his golf game, Henry is not going to let anyone make a joke out of the U.S. Postal Service.

As Henry himself explains, “I’m a postmaster but I’m also a general and it’s the job of a general to, by God, gets things DONE!”

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by James Kunstler

The golden Colossus of Trump looms over the national scene this summer like one of Jeff Koons’s giant, shiny, balloon-puppy sculptures — a monumental expression of semiotic vacancy.

AFTER POPULAR UPROAR, 20-Foot-Tall Angry Trump Baby Blimp Gets Okay to Fly Over London During President's UK Visit

At the apogee of Trumpdom, everything’s coming up covfefe. The stock market is 5000 points ahead since 1/20/17. Little Rocket Man is America’s bitch. We’re showing those gibbering Asian hordes and European café layabouts a thing or two about fair trade. Electric cars are almost here to save the day. And soon, American youth will be time-warping around the solar system in the new US Space Corps!

Enjoy it while you can. Events are converging ominously this summer in the direction of unwinding expectations and serial train wrecks of finance and politics. Mr. Trump has made hubris simple by bragging on the supposed triumphs of “his” economy. When it blows up, he’ll own that, too, and the second half of 2018 is liable to be a debris-field of shattered national economies, zombie corporations, and floundering institutions.

A new supreme court justice will be the very apex of Trump triumphalism, but whoever the pick is will goad the Democratic “progressives” to new depths of antagonism, so expect more street-fighting by the black-masked Antifa forces during the senate confirmation debate. Some sort of martial law will be invoked by a governor, or perhaps even the president himself. Initially that would amount to little more than curfews, but they’ll be ignored, and then the fun will really begin. Think: national guard troops and angry clashes. The tone will be low, and sinking fast.

If Antifa acts up the way I anticipate, it will drag the Democratic Party closer to extinction. The party celebrated a week ago over the rise of Evita Peron wannabe, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her youth and glamour intersect with her socialism, a doctrine that caused more human deaths in the 20th century than all the religious wars of the previous centuries. What’s not to like about it?

The blowup of the bond and stock markets later this year will put to a gloomy rest the ludicrous notion that America has been enjoying a great economic boom. It’s actually been an engineered hallucination, thanks to the global monetary authorities applying the magic of limitless credit to a bad habit of credulous speculation. The central banks have launched a program of so-called “quantitative tightening (QT)” — an idiotic phrase meant to counterpoise the equally fatuous “quantitative easing (QE),” PhD economist-speak for grotesque interference in the bond markets — that will choke down the credit supply at exactly the moment that governments and giant corporations need new loans to pay the interest on old loans. The trajectory there is obvious.

The big question, of course — hardly ever asked in the public arena — is what that will do to currencies, i.e., money. It can really only go two ways: either make money very scarce, in which case a lot of people and enterprises go broke, or, if the monetary authorities respond to the predicament by enabling a return to bottomless credit issuance, the money will become worthless — they’ll be plenty of it, but it won’t buy much. Such a turn of events will make an already-unhinged nation fly apart.

Lurking in the background of all this are several other consequential movements, trends, and troubles. One is the fate of the European Union. The quarrel over migrants from the Middle East and Africa will not be resolved happily. Germany and France will not succeed in bullying countries like Austria, Hungary, and Poland into absorbing more of these strangers. The more the EU pushes, the more they will feed nationalist sentiment in these places. And of course all the Big Dawgs of the EU are already stuck with millions of newcomers they foolishly invited the past several years, and all the problems they brought with them.

Another plot-line deep in this summer’s story is the movement of oil markets. Recently, the trend has been for rapidly rising oil prices. As they approach the “magic” $75-a-barrel mark, you can be sure they will squash economic activity — which is already being hammered by the uncertainty unleashed by trade-and-tariff shenanigans. If the oil price heads back over $100/barrel you can just forget about maintaining the business status quo — and even at that price the shale oil companies won’t make a red cent. Of course, they’ll also have a tough time getting new loans, which is the only thing that kept their operations going for the past ten years.

Oh, yes, there is also that Hieronymus Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights known as the Mueller Investigation, with its dreary outposts in the executive suite of the FBI, and all the tangled mysteries entailed there. Mr. Mueller will come up with someone to indict on something, even if it’s ninety-seven ham sandwiches. I suspect Mr. Trump will manage to dump Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. And then the pardons will fly, like so many winged demons flapping from the mouth of Hades. Constitutional crisis may be too mild a word for what ensues.

By holiday time in early winter, much will be clarified about the actual direction of the country. By then, the “Walk Away” movement may even include the obdurate shills at CNN and The New York Times, and the Intellectual-Yet-Idiots on the college campuses. And the Golden Golem of Greatness will lie upended in the swamp that he just didn’t try hard enough to drain.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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(Photo by Susie de Castro)

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I took notice of Kay Oppenheimer of Santa Rosa's letter to the editor in the July 4 AVA ("Basic School Reform") in which she talked about the three levels of high school in England which give students who aren't academically inclined the opportunity to develop skills such as carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, etc.

I went to a public high school in an affluent community, and for me this school was essentially a publicly funded college prep school in which a large percentage of the students wanted (or felt pressured to) attend prestigious universities (primarily UC schools).

I had a male friend I had known since the third grade who, although not unintelligent, was not academically inclined. He was good with his hands: he did crafts, auto mechanics, etc., but he had the misfortune of being raised in an environment where the pressure to succeed academically was shoved down the students' throats and where working with one's hands didn't have much prestige.

After graduating from high school my friend started at the local community college before eventually transferring to UC Davis, which he was totally unsuited for and where he flunked out from after two or three quarters.

I was with my friend outside his house one day after he'd left UC Davis, and his white collar professional father came outside holding a tuition bill in his hand and proceeded to shame my friend about flunking out of UC Davis, right in front of me.

I believe the wealthy and affluent classes, who after all are running our society, try to impose their myopic values onto the entire society and as a result students who have an inclination toward non-white collar occupations are often excluded or marginalized. My friend should have been at some kind of trade school instead of UC Davis but his parents and the affluent community he was raised in shamed him away from his true path.

Keith Bramstedt, San Anselmo

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Richard Cohen’s Tuesday column in the Press Democrat (“Socialism talk could bring Democrats another defeat”) really got me going with his talk about “democratic socialism.” Why would anybody call themselves that here in the United States? Especially since democratic socialism isn’t socialism.

Rather, democratic socialism attempts to address the valid criticisms that socialists have regarding the capitalist system within the system itself. It is highly regulated capitalism. And it is working quite well in Scandinavia, thank you very much.

Communism/socialism (Marx and Engels used the terms interchangeably) require the abolition of the production of goods and services for sale and the dissolution of the market and the national government.

Anybody who actually reads up on socialism will find it to be a wonderful, utopian pipe dream well suited to a planet (it can only exist worldwide and not in individual countries) with low population levels.

Don’t get me started on the Soviet and Chinese authoritarian swindles. Nothing could be farther from socialism than those two frauds. I could write a book.

Edward Meisse

Santa Rosa



  1. Arthur Juhl July 7, 2018

    Looking at the 3rd district contest I can see that the candidates are not paying attention to what the CEO is doing! The Supervisors must take control of the county and not pass on their responsibilities to the CEO.
    Being a Supervisor is a full time job and letting the CEO do the thinking makes it a part time job!
    So voters ask the questions, and maybe you will get the right person to represent you. Again I ask the question, where is accountibilty?
    Arthur E. Juhl

    • james marmon July 7, 2018

      Pinches is a local establishment republican swamp creature along with the likes of Angelo, Handley, and Ross Liberty to name a few. Pinches supported his long time friend Marge Handley’s portable Asphalt Plant “Hot Rocks” back in the day and will support her getting gifted millions of dollars of Measure B money for her mold infested shack known as the Old Howard Memorial Hospital.

      Haschak needs to send his wife out to do some expanded research on the issues he commented on, he doesn’t have a clue as to what’s really going on.

      The 3rd. District is doomed. The best we can hope for is another Governor appointee.

      James Marmon MSW

      • james marmon July 7, 2018

        Prominent Willits Executive Margie Handley Carries on Family Legacy….

        “As one who has never shied away from fulfilling her civic duty, Mrs. Handley has played an active role in local elections and campaigns for the Republican Party, serving as a committee member, delegate, district chairman and committee member over the years. She is also a member of the Mental Health Advisory Board of Mendocino County and the California Small Business Roundtable.”

        “She also served as vice president of Microphor, Inc., for just under a decade and as president of Hot Rocks, Inc., a manufacturer of asphalt and aggregates.”

      • Lazarus July 7, 2018

        I agree, Pinches is typical in his double speak, never really addressing the issue with a simple yes or no. The other one seems to be willing to sell his whatever to whoever to get elected, once in who knows. He was for MH at Howard, then he was against it, now he’s for it, likely to attract the bleeding heart socialist who seem to be the latest pop celebs…If he’s elected the CEO is willing a capable of eliminating him…perhaps another Woodhouse? who knows…
        As always,

        • james marmon July 7, 2018

          Maybe some day Mr. Woodhouse will be in a position to tell us what they (Angelo and Brown) were doing to him behind closed doors. That letter threatening him with a sexual harassment charge was probably just the beginning of many things to come. For meantime, he should continue to just lay low and out of Camille Schraeder’s gun sights unless he wants to get locked up somewhere and lose all his rights again.

          “Fear the Mental-cino County Mental Health Rabbit Hole”

          James Marmon MSW
          Former LPS Conservatorship Case Manager
          Lake County

  2. Paul McCarthy July 7, 2018

    Fantastic photo of a retardant drop at the Peach fire – wonder who took it ? Lol

  3. Bruce McEwen July 7, 2018

    Atty. Al Kubanis, just back from his annual holiday in Moab, Utah, reports that his old friend, a retired, United Press International reporter, has been forced to close up his free-lance photography business, which contained thousands of file photos, due to the way camera phone photos have taken over the market. Apparently, the proliferation of cell phone cameras have just about ruined a once-viable career path for photojournalists. Now almost everybody has a camera in their hand at all times and can catch on-the-scene shots of breaking news, anywhere and everywhere. In short, the time-honored process of attribution and payment for professional photography in on-line publications is changing as we speak, and if the AVA is a little slow on the uptake it should be remembered that the only photos in the old print editions were few (mostly mugshots) and done by amateurs, as the editor has never been very enthusiastic over pictures and cut-lines anyway. I only mention it because it was obvious to me that the photo of the fire bomber was from MSP (none of us at the AVA have cell phones, or any other cameras) and therefore not a very apt target for your lampoon – if that’s what “Lol” means. Nobody was trying to steal your photo, sir.

  4. Bruce McEwen July 7, 2018

    What an intrepid journalist. Reminds me of my most dangerous assignment, a fashion shoot in La Jolla circa 1983, where a model, the Princess Lawrencia Poniatowska, nearly ripped my face off for misspelling her name in a previous photo caption. Gimmme a wildfire any day!

    • Bruce McEwen July 7, 2018

      The exiled Polish princess was wearing a gown of her own design, a sort of feathered cape affair which her grace called, “Gossamer Wings.” It was in this photo caption that I botched her royal spelling, although the photo credits went to her publicity people, and was sent to Ranch & Coast in a press release from them.

      Steve Marshke, my ever-diligent editor, sorted the pressers he liked into my inbox, and I was expected to reduce them to radio copy (six-to-10 declarative sentences, and give it a twist of phrase; it’s what’s called in the trade a shopping column, and Marshke entitled mine, “A Cut Above” to swell the egos of the readership, I suppose, and yet I was at liberty to put this piece either with the local gossip scene at Rancho Santa Fe, or in the much more pedestrian shopping copy, as I had to field both areas of interest.

      I tried both, and Steve chose the haute couture scene which makes a person more class-conscience, I suppose, and why he didn’t proof-read my spelling — which he knew it was my weak point — went unasked as a jewel-encrusted claw with scarlet talons whipped back for the fatal swipe and “a cut above” is how I ducked while stuffing my mouth with a Dagwood-sized sandwitch from the buffet table as she walked up and took what I took to be a lethal swat at my ears, which I barely saved by my trusty photojournalist partner, John Dickinson, who stepped into the fray, focusing his camera and asking very politely, “Can you hold that pose, M’am’zelle?” Click.

      Giving me time to duck.

  5. Bruce McEwen July 7, 2018

    A further point on photo attribution and the like essentials of what is rapidly becoming a bygone era: Newspapers use cutlines; magazines use captions. Your dictionary will tell you the terms are synonymous, but they’re not. A cutline in a newspaper photo must identify the subject (usually persons) depicted and the action, if any, involved.

    Caption writing, however, like magazine writing in general, tends to be more literary, and often allusions or metaphors are not only permissible, but preferred. Whereas a photo of a US senator in a newspaper will have his full face and bust in the frame, with the name printed underneath, and the photo credits in parenthesis or italics (depending on which stylebook your newspaper uses); but a photo of a celebrity (usually) in a magazine will zoom in tight on the face only, focusing on the character lines around the mouth and eyes, and the caption will only hint as to the person’s name and occupation. Also in magazines, the photo credits will be printed in tiny little 4-point typeface running vertically along the side of the photo.

    Next week, class, we’ll lecture on old-school headlines. Have a great weekend, and do be careful with matches – oops! I mean Bic lighters.

  6. Randy Burke July 7, 2018

    Photos are really only a “snapshot in time” with all of the verbiage going on, it seems a lot like a shot of time is not enough to quelllll the common beast. Get over it. Doesn’t matter who took the shot that our eyelids were not able to capture, but what matters is the shot was taken. I enjoyed it relentlessly regardless of the photographer…It gave me joy.

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