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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, July 12, 2018

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by Rex Gressett

Monday night, July 9, on a breezy summer evening the terminally endangered Fort Bragg City Council met again in regular session to conduct a public hearing on their own extinction under the pending California Voting Rights Act districting plan.

It is traditional that the City Council's expression of urgency is inversely proportional to the seriousness of the crisis. Monday night the principle was again demonstrated. The Council was calm to the point of being catatonic. If you watched the meeting with the sound off you would never have suspected anything was up. The laid-back City Council had that bland after dinner look that indicates to the American sensibility all capacity for thought has fled.

While the City Council relaxed, the first item under discussion, after they rubberstamped the consent calendar, was the California Voting Rights Act districting plan.

The California Voting Rights Act is a 18-wheel semi truck in the community's rear view mirror coming at us fast. The takeaway from Town Hall Monday night was that the Council does not intend to fight and are doing their best not to look too weak while they don’t fight it.

What's at stake for Fort Bragg is the end of general elections, which would further inhibit the already moderate power of the City Council. The deliberate hobbling of local self-government is hurtling right at us like a guided missile. Meanwhile, the City Council dodges any responsibility of leadership.

The City Manager was tasked with conducting the hearing. Ms. Tabatha Miller gave the Council the latest update on the Safe Harbor option that will allow the city to cave in gracefully (cheaply). This get-out-of-jail-free card ensures districting for alleged ethnic balance will happen, but damage to the City will be limited to $35k. Its only condition is that nobody goes to court.

This seductive poison mitigates against any suicidal impulse to fight for fair elections and stand up for representative local government. Getting to the “Safe Harbor” has plainly been the Council's preferred option and clear intention. The City Council has confined their remarks to the whimsical hope that Jacob Patterson — the opportunistic, unemployed lawyer taking advantage of a destructive state law to make a few bucks for himself, will grow a sense of decency, and let them off the hook.

The City Manager took the meeting through the now familiar process. She explained the California Voting Rights Act once again, and released once more the information that the demographer had finished its work, but declined once more to release that information, and confirmed repeatedly to the worried City Council that under the Safe Harbor rules the California Voting Rights Act might only cost us $30k in attorney fees to Jacob Patterson.

The Council had heard it all before and strived mightily to make no remarks of significance. Councilman Will Lee broke ranks a tiny bit to declare his overriding concern with “protecting the assets of the city,” interpreted as sacrificing the City Council in its present form to concern for fiscal responsibility.

Monday night's City Council meeting counts as one of the four public hearings that they are required to conduct before they pull the rug out from under local democracy. One down. Three to go.

The formal point man for the impending dissolution of representative local government, the aforementioned Patterson Esq., spoke briefly indicating his honest willingness to negotiate if some sort of proportional voting could be discussed. He almost woke the Council up but he was just kidding. When Mayor Peters shook himself briefly out of his somnolence and asked Mr. Patterson to elaborate on his suggestion, Patterson blithely declined all negotiation, turned his nose skyward and departed in a cloud of community opprobrium and self-righteous sanctimony. Also par for the course.

Next, on the Council agenda: the Skunk Train. The famous tourist attraction has announced their application for a $15 million grant to repair the historically unstable Fort Bragg to Willits tunnel and replace 30,000 toxic copper and arsenic railroad ties. Fort Bragg Development Director, Marie Jones leapt onto the grant-getting bandwagon, telling the City Council that another permanent staff person would be required at City Hall — indeed in her department — first to assist the Skunk in the application and then to administer allocations. A permanent Skunk person at City Hall rounded out the advantages for everybody of a $15 million shot in the civic fiscal arm. Everybody on the Council was in favor.

The meeting was sparsely attended, 12 lonely souls were quietly present while the City Council deadpanned, and slouched.

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Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday declared a state of emergency around homelessness, escalating government focus on a crisis that has become more dire in the wake of catastrophic wildfires that destroyed nearly 5,300 homes across the county last year.

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Don't miss our annual fundraiser BBQ for the Housing Assn. It's this Sunday, July 15, 4 to 7 with starters by Pennyroyal Farms, BBQ by the Lions Club, dessert by Julie Winchester, music by Bob Day and friends, all in a beautiful setting at Navarro Ranch. Tickets available at the event.

(Click to enlarge)

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QUIZ TONIGHT: Thursday, July 12th being the 2nd Thursday of the month means that there will be a General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz beginning at 7pm at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville hosted again by Assistant Quizmaster Mark Scaramella. Keep calm and warm-up your grey matter…

Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quizmaster

PS. Come on, England!!… Come on, England!!!!!… COME ON, ENGLAND!!!!!!

PPS. DRAT: England lost to Croatia.

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THE CHANGING FACE of marijuana farming, an on-line comment:

Growers need to get on the other side of this! Whining like a bunch of little girls is what stoners do, but if you must grow in Humboldt, follow the goddamn rules and nobody from the government will jack your plants!

Growing in Humboldt is crazy, anyway! It’s too far from anything, the cost of everything you need is ridiculous, and there’s 30,000 other guys doing the same thing!

In Oregon and Washington and Canada, they are ramping up to BURY everyone in Bud! So, be ready to sit on a lot of product, especially that Black Market shit you love to produce in your “Rape and Run Grow”…

And, here is another thing: Even if you do manage to make a bit of money, the market for weed may not respond to the presence of massive amounts of legal flower in the manner you would expect. Regular people might buy an ounce a year, but few end-users are gonna sit in the streets and toke all day, like you do…

The average growers, even legal ones, face incredible competition, massive tomes of regulatory problems, increased costs for testing, packaging, delivery, and processing, and labor issues and taxation!

Got a headache yet?

The few of you left, in a couple of years, will still have plenty to whine about, but the point is you may not want to continue to play your game in Humboldt County, or even in California!

May want to lay off that shit for a month or two and consider the future!

I predict many will change the way they do “business”…

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Headline this morning: ‘World's Ugliest Dog Dies.’ On behalf of canines everywhere I am taking offense. How come we never see ‘Ugliest Man In Mendo Turns Up His Toes’?"

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SHALL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN! Rummaging through a street box of giveaway books in Fairfax the other day, I picked up an old paperback copy of Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49," and whose name do I find inscribed in pencil on the very first page? None other than Ann Moorman, Judge of the Superior Court, Mendocino County. Better yet, Her Honor has informally annotated the text! I got a hoot outta her first note above Pynchon's first sentence — "Tupperware parties symbolizes meaningless."

THAT'S A PRETTY BIG surmise, your honor, off the very first sentence on page one but, yeah I'd also suppose Tupperware gatherings aren't of much interest to non-Tupper people, but not all the way into meaninglessness either. For pure existential pointlessness unto dread you'd have to attend a school board meeting or watch the Supervisors on YouTube. (24 of us tuned in on Tuesday.)

THAT SENTENCE Ms. Moorman construes as a condemnation of the Tupperware battalions? "One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedina Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary…"

PYNCHON'S NOVEL — his shortest but best imo — is funny as hell, and it's somehow encouraging that an officer of the court read it all the way through however many years ago and seems to have gotten it. I've always appreciated Barry Vogel's concluding question of his I Am Curious interviews for KZYX when the Ukiah attorney asks his guests, "What are you reading?" By their books ye shall know them!

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DEPENDING on your weather report, it was between 99 and 102 in Boonville by 3pm Wednesday. A brisk, gusting breeze was blowing and you could almost hear a collective prayer go up, "No fire today, please Lord."

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GIVEN SKYHAWK'S DISABLING stroke, it's obvious that Ted Williams will be the new 5th District Supervisor. Maybe Williams and either Hashack or Pinches will be the intelligent, independent energy the board needs to function as it should as the County's civic leadership. As is there's no one at the helm, and every time the five present bumblers meet they only add to policy confusion. Hamburg is merely the latest in a succession of nuts and incompetents to represent the 5th District, and his departure and Williams' arrival is a glimmer of hope that the seat will at last be reputably occupied. We prefer Pinches over Hashack because we think Pinches, during his prior tenures, was a voice for sensible spending and was refreshingly free of the smarmy obeisance to upper management we see now every week. Hashack is so far lost in Platitude Land, putting out soporific pressers about how he's listening to people. He might be a good supervisor, he might be another 4th District seat warmer as we've seen with the appointed temp, Ms. Croskey. We think McCowen occasionally stirs himself to ask an impertinent question while we wonder if Gjerde will finally emerge from his cryonic silence to again become the leader he was as a city councilman during Fort Bragg's darkest civic days when he took on people who were a lot more formidable than Mommy Angelo. Williams, McCowen, Gjerde, Pinches, and Brown could be the strongest board of supervisors we've seen in years, although that bar couldn't be lower. Or if Haschak noses out Pinches in November, there's still the potential of a three-vote majority for an effective board.

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PUDDING CREEK BEACH Tuesday afternoon

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(Photo by Dick Whetstone)

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The Ultimate Anderson Valley Winery Bucket List

by Esther Mobley

“Are you on your way to the coast?” Winery staff will ask you this again and again as they fill your glass at Anderson Valley wineries. They’re used to seeing Pacific Coast pilgrims here, who stop at a tasting room for a quick splash of Pinot Noir on their way to the ocean. The implication being: Anderson Valley Wine Country is a waystation, a scenic spot for repose on the way to California’s ultimate destination.

[Take a tour through Anderson Valley Pinot Noir]

But more and more, Anderson Valley wineries are the destinations themselves, offering world-class wines and awe-inspiring vistas — and with the sorts of tranquil settings and modest prices that haven’t been seen in Napa Valley since the 1980s. No winery here requires a reservation, and many tastings are complimentary. The fact that the major artery, Highway 128, will take you to the Pacific Ocean is just a bonus.

Our lineup here represents our bucket list — the Anderson Valley wineries that, whether because of quality, history or setting, we consider essential destinations. The itinerary moves south to north, along Highway 128 from Boonville to Philo, a compact area: The drive from beginning to end should only take you 15 minutes. If you’re more interested in geeking out, check out our guides to Anderson Valley’s distinctive Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines.

You could easily spend an entire day snacking, sipping wine and staring at baby goats at Pennyroyal.

The charming town of Boonville is Anderson Valley’s entry point. It doesn’t look like much, but you could happily spend a whole weekend here, especially if you stay at the outrageously tasteful Boonville Hotel. Here, Pennyroyal Farm is one of the brightest new additions to the local wine tasting scene. Not only a winery, Pennyroyal is a dairy too, and its cheeses are the pride of the valley. Stop in for a wine and cheese tasting — maybe the only wine and cheese tasting at a winery I’ve ever thought was worth doing — or call ahead to schedule a tour, where you’ll get to meet the 100 goats and 40 sheep who live here.

Drive 10 minutes north to Philo and park at the Madrones complex, where a hotel, a spa, a wood-fired pizza restaurant and some excellent tasting rooms reside. Visit Drew to taste the best Syrah in Mendocino County, then wander over to Smith Story, where you can taste a diverse range of wines that includes Sonoma Semillon and German Riesling. You may walk away from Smith Story with an antique curio; co-owner Ali Smith Story collects and re-sells them here.

Is it lunchtime? Head to the modest Lemon’s Market in Philo, where the deli counter in the back makes a mean sandwich. (Yes, the oysters in the seafood counter are fresh — and bargain-priced.) Take your provisions into Hendy Woods, a state park that’s a 5 minute drive away. Or feel free to haul it to any of the wineries nearby; all welcome picnics.

Toulouse is your next stop heading north on Highway 128. This laid-back winery treats you to table service, and if it’s not too windy it’s worth taking a seat on the back patio to take in what may be the best view in the valley. Get a taste of the Gewurtztraminer, and consider its distinctive fragrance: This aromatic white variety, a specialty of Anderson Valley, is often said to smell like lychee.

Keep that fragrance in mind at your next stop, Navarro, a veritable shrine to Gewurtztraminer. This Anderson Valley mainstay offers several versions of the aromatic white wine (we recommend focusing on the dry estate version, but by all means, try them all) as part of a long, diverse lineup of dry and sweet wines. Tastings are free and pours are generous. If you’re regretting that you didn’t buy any cheese at Pennyroyal this morning, now’s your chance; the farm is owned by the daughter of Navarro’s proprietors.

If you’re looking for a primer in aromatic white wines, make your first stop at Navarro.

You’ll notice, the farther into Philo you get, that a signature architectural style emerges — rugged log cabins. Greenwood Ridge, adjacent to Navarro, is a beautiful example of the “deep end” aesthetic, with a domed geometric building that was formed entirely from a single redwood log. Just as lovely, a few strides north, is Phillips Hill, whose 1880s-era apple drying barn is a jolt of Anderson Valley’s agricultural past. Its owner Toby Hill is an artist, and his designs adorn the wine labels.

The small, no-frills barn that contains the tasting room at Husch is a piece of Anderson Valley history. The Husch family was the first to plant grapes in this region, and their winery still exudes an old-fashioned form of hospitality. You can choose six wines to taste from the long list of options; if you’ve been missing Cabernet Sauvignon, this is one of your few chances to taste it in Anderson Valley. Take a minute to relax at the picnic tables outdoors.

You’ve saved Handley, the northernmost point on our journey, for last. By now your palate is probably tired, and you can make this a quick stop at the standing tasting bar. (Collapsing in the elephant-shaped chairs next to the bar is also an option.) Or you can call ahead to reserve a private tasting or tour for your group, to spread out your final stop of the day.

As you depart Anderson Valley, you’ll pass one last gastronomic temptation: the Bewildered Pig, a posh farm-to-table restaurant. After that, though, it’s you and the California coastline. Stay on 128 and the road narrows; soon you’ll find yourself ensconced in a redwood grove, which gives way to the coastal shrub of Highway 1. That was quite a way to head to the coast.

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(Photo by Judy Valadao)

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GOVERNOR BROWN has cut funding to fight trespass grows from the proposed fiscal year state budge. Since the Northcoast suffers more environmentally destructive grows than anywhere else in the state, Brown's move is downright mystifying, and deeply disappointing to most of us.

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Our new rainwater catchment tank is at the top of the field

Leeks, Walla Walla Onions
Lettuce, Kale & *Strawberries
Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Marjoram, Mint
Zucchini & Patty Pan Squash
Corno di Toro, Gypsy, Padron & Jalapeno Peppers
Cherry & Early Girl Tomatoes
Sunflowers & Eggplant….

(limited quantities, summer crops are just coming in….)

Blue Meadow Farm
3301 Holmes Ranch Rd., Philo
(707) 895-2071

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Thursday’s Cannabis Hour at 9 a.m., on KZYX, my guest will be ethnopsychopharmacologist Del Potter of Gualala. If the interview is as colorful as Del’s bio, it should be a fun show! Here’s part of Del’s story: “I did graduate work at U.C. Berkeley, where my speciality was ethnopsychopharmacology, including cross-cultural approaches to psychiatric illness and cross-cultural psychiatric and psychological intervention. While studying at Berkeley, I studied indigenous ritual...

See More:

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KZYX board meeting in Anderson Valley this coming week. On 7/11/2018 3:22 AM, Mark Slafkes wrote (of Daniel Leombruno and Associates bookkeeping and tax preparation firm's job notice):

Why do so few ads describe the range of pay? My guess is that for some reason the people listing the jobs think they are god's gift to humanity and thus don't have to pay a living wage. I find this embarrassing that so many people claiming to be socially and environmentally conscious and so supportive of "the earth" are unwilling to pay a living wage and certainly unwilling to list a starting wage and the maximum wage they are willing to pay for work. Doesn't anyone else in our community find it a difficult pill to swallow that so many people who want the world to be a beautiful place and all the living things the be cherished are also unwilling to pay people a living wage?

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Marco here. It interests me that you feel this way, Mark, when at the same time you think nothing of the handful of bosses at KZYX paying themselves near $300,000 a year to pretend to run a radio station and they pay the local airpeople nothing at all, not even minimum wage to prepare for and show up and do the shows at that so-called community radio station, when the manager, for example, Jeffrey Parker, has slurped over $100,000 (!) out of the station just for himself in the slightly over year-and-a-half he's been there doing nothing but managing to avoid tripping over the plug. He doesn't even answer the phone when you call; he has people to do that for him, including people to direct the programs, manage operations, engineer, keep the books, and "coordinate business underwriting." What's left for him to do there that's worth $60,000 a year more than all the airpeople actually doing radio all year long all put together? It's not as though he has some special knowledge or skill or experience regarding radio. He has none. He's a $60,000 a year somewhat rotund hood ornament. Also he has rather a potty mouth, but that's just the way alpha dogs talk now, I guess; no harm in that.

As I recall, you called my objections to their not paying the real workers a "difference in opinion over nonprofit management style."

Marco McClean

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 11, 2018

Devine, Engle, Flowers

ELYASHIYB DEVINE, Willits. Under influence, probation revocation.

JOHN ENGLE, Potter Valley. Pot possession for sale.

JESSICA FLOWERS, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

Johnson, Lowe, McCallum

ANDREW JOHNSON, Tulare/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ANTHONY LOWE, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

CHAD MCCALLUM, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.

Nelson-Dean, Pontello, Wiliams

JOSHUA NELSON-DEAN, Ukiah. Under influence, parole violation.

MARIO PONTELLO, Lucerne/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

DANNY WILLIAMS, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

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by Alexander Cockburn (July 1997)

Ardmore, Ireland — In the old days of not-so-long ago, there was no mistaking about the transition from poor to rich when you traveled from Cork to London. The roads around Cork were full of Ford Escorts and low-end Toyotas. A BMW in the smaller towns was a rarity. These days the square in my old home town of Youghal, 30 miles east of Cork, is chock-a-block with Beemers, Audis and Mercedes. There’s money around. In 1996 the Irish Republic produced more wealth per head of population than the U.K. Only a quarter of a century ago, by the same measure, gross domestic product in Ireland was half that of England.

The money’s not making Ireland a lovelier place, and to judge by events in Ulster in the marching season that’s now upon us, it’s not persuading the Protestants that if federation ever comes they won’t have to face forced marriage to a pauper. The natural instinct of an Irish person with title to a field and $50,000 spare in the pocket is to build a bungalow, preferably faced off with pebble dash or concrete or raw, liverish sandstone. Something, in fact, whose prime esthetic function is that of not — at any price — resembling an old Irish thatched cottage.

The result, particularly in the west of Ireland, has been the imposition of ribbons of these ugly buildings along the coast and inland rural roads, while simultaneously the country towns are being abandoned by those with the money to build and the patience to commute, usually at lethal speeds. An averagely-skilled Irish driver is someone who overtakes you on a blind bend at 60 mph, while at the same time waggling a finger in greeting to the driver of the car hurtling the other way, commenting to the passenger in his own vehicle on features of interest in the surrounding countryside and throwing his candy wrapper out the window.

In another decade or so, Irish countryside will no longer exist and the place will have transmuted into a sort of suburbia in rure.

Complain about this, as The Irish Times environmental correspondent did a couple weeks ago, and you are deluged with furious letters accusing you of wanting the place to revert to 19th-Century pauperism, forced emigration or subsistence in hovels where humans and livestock commingled in clouds of peatsmoke.

Concrete is the outward and visible manifestation of affluence. My village of Ardmore, at the west end of county Waterford, has its Business Development Council busy devising ways of showing that the place is on the cutting edge of progress. The beautiful cliffs now sport dreary guideposts, benches, concrete steps. A public convenience and then perhaps a heritage center will soon finish off one of the loveliest vistas in Europe.

Down on the strand, the Business Council (unelected, accountable to no one) has reared up a mini-tower like Breughel’s Babel, some 40 feet high, whose supposed function is to afford shelter to a lifeguard. Since the strand is long and wide, the lifesaving function is dubious, as is the future of the structure, since it is sinking into the sand and may soon keel over sideways, offering a local rival to Pisa.

Meanwhile the little boat cove is now protected by another wall of concrete, with the tidal pools once filled with prawns smashed flat for a concrete walkway.

The cover story here is supposedly protection of human life. If there were no concrete walkway, children might somehow gash themselves on the rocks. If the cliffs are unfenced, people might throw themselves over the edge. So concrete walkways get wider and the cliff fences get higher, till every vista is so unpleasing, no one wants to visit them anyway. The end logic is to deny access to the cove and the cliffs altogether, on the grounds that they present an unacceptable threat to human life as well as to the profit margins of insurance companies.

Having now placed itself on the prow of proud modernity, Ireland was boasting during my visit of a slap-up political funding scandal involving truly magisterial sums. In the week that an English member of Parliament, Neil Hamilton, plunged to ruin after pocketing a $40,000 bribe from the owner of Harrods, a former Irish prime minister turned out to have taken around $3.5 billion from an heir to Ireland’s premier department-store fortune.

The prime minister in question was Charlie Haughey, sometime leader of Fianna Fail and greatly admired by the populace for a certain raffish effrontery in all his dealings, a trait of which the Irish — probably because they have had to put up with so much hypocrisy from Britain and the Catholic Church — are particularly fond.

My father Claude, writing columns for The Irish Times, once called up Haughey — then riding high — and asked him what he had to say about the rumors of money-under-the-table. “I say, balls to that, Claud!” Haughey shouted genially down the phone.

It now turns out, through investigations of a tribunal not originally aimed at Haughey, that his main patron was Ben Dunne, of the family owning Dunne’s stores, a major retail chain in the Irish Republic. Ben once distinguished himself by taking too much cocaine in Florida, attempting to throw himself from his hotel balcony.

Haughey, desperate for money amidst the construction or upkeep of various princely homes, let it be known he was in need and the money flowed in. “Thank you, big fella,” he said on one occasion to Dunne as he shoved the checks into his back pocket. Most of the money simply went into a general fund, maintained by his accountants, servicing major Irish political figures. Two accountants alone knew how the $60 million in the overall fund was to be divided between the individual accounts, code-numbers S-1 through S-9.

Last week Haughey — in political retirement — admitted he’d taken money down the years. Now he faces ruin: repayment of the money to the Dunne’s, plus a huge tax bill, adorned with the usual interest and penalties.

In America there are so many dispensers like Dunne, and such a vast political class on the take, that everything gets flattened out to a kind of perspectiveless blur of overall corruption.

There aren’t that many really rich people in Ireland. Only a dozen houses in Dublin in 1996 sold for more than one million Irish pounds, about $1,500,000. So political bribe scandals and influence peddling have a sort of vibrancy long gone herein the US. The day that Haughey was exposed, the newspapers had column upon column showing how the money traveled from one account to another, through the Caymans, then into the appropriate numbered slot.

The moral arbiters of Ireland certainly aren’t in the political arena, nor in the Catholic hierarchy, bypassed by history and scarred by revelations of sex crimes by its priests. As Fintan O’Toole, one of Ireland’s best essayists and journalists, remarks in his collection The Ex-Isle of Erin, published in the spring of this year, “the new prosperity created by Ireland’s post-industrial revolution also saw an ambivalent kind of mass conversion to Protestantism. An MBRI poll for The Irish Times indicated that the most important tenet of Protestantism — the right of individual conscience — is now accepted by the majority of Irish Catholics. Just a fifth of the Catholics said that they followed the teaching of their church when making ‘serious moral decisions,’ compared to 78% who said they would follow their own conscience.”

This is a vertiginous change from the might of the Catholic hierarchy amidst which I grew up in the 1950s. O’Toole cites the recent publication of state documents showing that in 1947 the Church of Ireland felt powerful enough to recommend to the government that young women be banned from leaving Ireland at all, so they might be protected from “moral, national and social perils.” Eventually the idea was rejected, but the proposal, by the archbishop of Tuam, was taken very seriously.

In fact, the perils were in-house. O’Toole thinks one of the big turning points was the conviction of a Catholic priest in 1994 in Northern Ireland. Fr. Brendan Smyth went down for serious sexual offenses against children, and an investigation by Ulster tv showed the Church had known Smyth to be a dangerous pedophile since the early 1960s, but had done nothing about it, and had covered for him.

People are better off than they used to be, but in many ways the place has gone downhill. In the late 1950s you could walk clear across Dublin in the middle of the night and be reasonably confident nothing untoward would occur. I did so many times.

Not anymore.

Dublin is in the midst of a heroin plague, and desperate addicts hold up shopkeepers, brandishing syringes of blood they claim to be AIDS-infected, threatening a lethal jab at the slightest sign of resistance. There are plenty of thieves in the countryside, too, many of them very violent.

I can remember my friend Gareth Browne developed an appetite for traditional Irish music that led him to found Claddagh Records, which first showcased the Chieftains. In the late 50s he’d come to stay and drag round his vast reel-to-reel tape recorder to one cottage after another, while old ladies droned their way through 60 verses of “The Walls of Limerick.”

These days much of this tradition of music has degenerated into an awful kitsch, a new-age O’Muzak stew. There was an old kind of Oirish-ness back then that was fake. The problem is that what O’Toole hails as the big change — the end of Irish exceptionalism, the end of a national self-definition in opposition to Britain, a dwindling of nationalist idealism — hasn’t produced any exciting new political culture. The “global” Irishman of modern times turns out to be that utterly null figure, the CEO of Heinz and Ireland’s premiere news magnate, Tony O’Reilly.

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Why are there built-in bumps on the new Highway 101 roadway between Windsor and Cloverdale? Is it to inform every driver that he has passed over a bridge? Does Caltrans need new rulers and transits? Why does Caltrans make half-mile stretches of flat roadway and then make two significant bumps at every bridge, one getting on the bridge and another getting off?

Ray Smith


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I think the loss of America’s soul, as opposed to her money, began in the 50’s with Bubble Gum music. The cynical business move to get the new boomer demographic paying up, led in time to the death of American Popular Music. Remember “Your Hit Parade”, well most of the modern world tuned in to Tin Pan Alley and loved it. No more. TV seems to have died aborning and shows little quality of life. National Public Radio got itchy palms along the way and sold out. Movies struggled along valiantly but the grim reaper lurks now along Sunset Blvd. Don’t even mention the web which is home to more Click Bait than there are land mines in Egypt.

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WE ARE IN OUR CURRENT PREDICAMENT, not solely because of Trump and the Republicans, but in large part, because so many continue to put their faith in the Democrats.

Remember, this is the same party that demonized Bernie Sanders’ supporters and believed the movement he sparked and the issues he raised were unworthy of recognition.

This is the same party that rubber-stamped the endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the slaughters in Libya, Yemen, and more. This is the same party that overwhelmingly backed the PATRIOT Act and the ongoing evisceration of our civil liberties. This is the same party that dismantled the welfare system while increasing corporate welfare. This is the same party that claims to believe in climate change but hasn’t done a damn thing to stop Big Oil. This is the same party that supports the death penalty, mass incarceration and a militarized Police State. This is the same party that supports women’s rights in the US but outright ignores the horrible working conditions of women who toil away in sweatshops around the globe in the name of profit.

They will whine that they’ve been steamrolled by Trump and the Republicans, but shed no tears for the Democrats. You can’t be steamrolled if you aren’t even standing in front of the machine that’s about to crush us.

— Joshua Frank

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Zeke Krahlin wrote: Science does /not/ always pay can take us down some very dangerous roads, even fatal ones. I am certainly /not/ anti-science (nor even anti-outer-space research), but good grief, Marco, if we ignore the dark side of science, we keep the door open to allow that dark side to expand and run amok.

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Marco McClean: Well, stay alert by the door, then. When astrology and prayer and above-the-body massage and transmission meditation and homeopathic patent bullshit show better promise than science to cure disease, defend against space rocks, communicate long distance, feed the world, amplify guitars, light up the night, heat water, or accomplish anything at all, let me know so I can switch allegiance to one of those other things and claim I knew it all along. Just let it ring; I might have headphones on. I'm glad you're paying attention, Zeke, because I don't have the patience.

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Zeke: You are ignoring my point, and writing me off as a new-age flake.

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Marco: No, you misunderstand. I don't mean any malice toward you, and I don't think you're a flake of any stripe. I just wish you'd spend a little more time doing your real work and a lot less time flailing to no purpose at people who couldn't care less about you. You let them tie you in knots. I recognize this because I often see it in myself.

I'll be in Fort Bragg for MOTA this Friday night. Call if you want to, and we can talk about whatever. Let it ring; I might have headphones on. That's all I meant.

* * *


Dear editors,

Thought this might interest you... It's a project I've been working on with The Nation... You'd be welcome to re-post this open letter -- being released today -- with a mention of The Nation as the original source and a link to the webpage:

Thanks --

Norman Solomon

* * *

Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security

An open letter by Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, John Dean, Governor Bill Richardson, Walter Mosley, Valerie Plame, and others.

Many Americans remain deeply concerned about reports of Russian interference with the 2016 election. Meanwhile, relations between the United States and Russia are at their lowest and most dangerous point in several decades. For the sake of democracy at home and true national security, we must reach common ground to safeguard common interests — taking steps to protect the nation’s elections and to prevent war between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

Whatever the truth of varied charges that Russia interfered with the election, there should be no doubt that America’s digital-age infrastructure for the electoral process is in urgent need of protection. The overarching fact remains that the system is vulnerable to would-be hackers based anywhere. Solutions will require a much higher level of security for everything from voter-registration records to tabulation of ballots with verifiable paper trails. As a nation, we must fortify our election system against unlawful intrusions as well as official policies of voter suppression.

At the same time, the U.S. and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course. Diplomacy has given way to hostility and reciprocal consular expulsions, along with dozens of near-miss military encounters in Syria and in skies above Europe. Both sides are plunging ahead with major new weapons development programs. In contrast to prior eras, there is now an alarming lack of standard procedures to keep the armed forces of both countries in sufficient communication to prevent an escalation that could lead to conventional or even nuclear attack. These tensions are festering between two nations with large quantities of nuclear weapons on virtual hair-trigger alert; yet the current partisan fixations in Washington are ignoring the dangers to global stability and, ultimately, human survival.

The United States should implement a pronounced shift in approach toward Russia. No political advantage, real or imagined, could possibly compensate for the consequences if even a fraction of U.S. and Russian arsenals were to be utilized in a thermonuclear exchange. The tacit pretense that the worsening of U.S.-Russian relations does not worsen the odds of survival for the next generations is profoundly false. Concrete steps can and must be taken to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers.

Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus, Boston University; Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies; Noam Chomsky, Professor, Author, and Activist; Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics, NYU and Princeton University, and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord; John Dean, Former Nixon White House Counsel; Phil Donahue, Journalist and Talk-Show Pioneer; Thomas Drake, Former NSA Senior Executive and Whistle-blower; Daniel Ellsberg, Activist, “Pentagon Papers” Whistle-blower, and Author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner; Jack Matlock, Former US Ambassador to the USSR and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord; Walter Mosley, Writer and Screenwriter; Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist; Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, CUNY Graduate School; Valerie Plame, Former Covert CIA Operations Officer and Author; Adolph Reed Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania; Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico; Patricia Schroeder, Former Congresswoman; Norman Solomon, National Coordinator,; Gloria Steinem, Writer and Feminist Organizer; Adlai Stevenson III, Former US Senator and Chairman, Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy; Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation; Alice Walker, Writer, Poet, and Activist; Jody Williams, Professor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

(Signers have endorsed this Open Letter as individuals and not on behalf of any organization.)

* * *

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Following numerous violations of the Brown Act that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California Board of Directors was forced today to retake their April vote to finance $10.8 billion of the $17 billion Delta Tunnels project. The vote was 59.5 percent yes and 39.17 percent no.

The yes vote was no surprise, since the Board was under intense pressure from Governor Jerry Brown and corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley to finance the majority of the California WaterFix project’s cost.

The Board approved the funding despite the opposition of every individual water ratepayer who spoke during the public comment period today. Delta Tunnels opponents urging the Board to vote no included Los Angeles ratepayers, a representative of the Tonga Tribe, Food & Water Watch, Social-Economic-Justice Network (SEE), Consumer Watchdog, Los Angeles Ministers Forum, SEIU Local 721, Restore the Delta, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Sierra Club California and Los Angeles neighborhood council presidents.

"We need green jobs here in Southern California and we need to fix California water infrastructure here," Charming Evelyn of Sierra Club California, one of many water ratepayers at the meeting, told the Board. "Orange County has 21 cities with contaminated water. Why is money going to the Delta Tunnels and not local water cleanup and creation of new green jobs?"

After agricultural water districts refused to invest in the project last spring, MWD engaged in “backroom wheeling and dealing" to pressure decision makers to force SoCal families to pay double their share for no additional water, according to Brenna Norton, Senior Organizer with Food and Water Watch.

“While the results of the vote did not change today, members of the public and representatives of the two biggest cities in the state—Los Angeles and San Diego— among others, were incensed by what they say is a lack of transparency and other violations of the California constitution. The Delta tunnels have not received full funding, and still require multiple permits," said Norton.

The revote took place after two organizations, Food and Water Watch and the First Amendment Foundation, sent a notice exposing numerous violations of the Brown Act in connection with the April meeting.

Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record said the action was taken in “an abundance of caution to ensure full public transparency.”

“California’s water delivery system is broken. After years of study, planning and environmental review, we finally have the solution. I am thrilled this project continues to move forward,” claimed Record.

Director Lorraine Paskett, who represents the City of Los Angeles on the Board, thanked Food and Water Watch for their California Public Records Act (CPRA) request exposing the backroom wheeling and dealing prior to the April board meeting.

Before voting no, she also noted that the recent plan by the State Water Resources Control Board to increase flows down the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to restore fish populations impacts the WaterFix project’s economic viability.

Mark Gold, another board member from Los Angeles who also voted no, also criticized other board members for voting to finance the Delta Tunnels without first reviewing the impact of the water board’s new river flow criteria. "This vote is premature without such analysis," said Gold.

Norton emphasized that today was “the opening salvo of ongoing efforts to expose the unfairness and political cronyism behind the Delta Tunnels deal.”

“The tunnels would be at least a $20 billion gift to corporate agribusiness, which receives 70 percent of average water exports from the Delta,” she said. “If the project is ever built, Southern California ratepayers and taxpayers would pay for a project that doesn't guarantee a single drop of new water. SoCal residents should not be an ATM for MWD leadership or wealthy agribusiness.”

The controversial project consists of two massive 35 mile long tunnels that would divert water from the Sacramento River in the North Delta to the state and federal pumping facilities in the South Delta for export by corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water brokers and oil companies conducting fracking and extreme oil extraction operations. The California WaterFix would devastate Sacramento salmon populations and West Coast fisheries, as well as imperiling the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

* * *

SMOKE BILLOWS from a brush fire in Griffith Park near Griffith Observatory

* * *


"Some of the most notable cities in America will be hugely impacted by global warming if projections of higher sea levels hold true: Seattle, San Francisco, St. Petersburg, Miami, and San Diego all make the top ten list of flood-risk cities..."

(Click to enlarge)

* * *


Eternal Witness

Watching thoughts form
And dissipate continuously
Is true freedom
Sahaja Samadhi Avastha:
The continuous superconscious state
Not entangled in delusion's net
Of constantly changing situations
Maya, a jugglery of names
And a whirligig of forms
Charms the mind, captivating
The undiscerning eye, blinding it
To the Source of all phenomena
So saith the compilers of the Vedas

Craig Louis Stehr
Rockland, Maine

* * *


Greetings during this busy sun-filled summertime,

Just a reminder to take advantage of the Mendocino Women’s Retreat’s "Early Bird Special" being offered from now through July 28th. That’s $25 off on the accommodation of your choice. There are also a limited number of scholarships available and are awarded on a first come first serve basis. Forms for both registration and scholarships can be found at:

This 10th Annual Retreat runs September 21-23rd, in time for the Fall Equinox. This year’s theme, “Sacred Lacuna~Embracing Ourselves & Our Mother Earth” invites us to open to new ways of seeing and being through sharing circles, a guided journey into the heart of Gaia, singing, dancing and connecting with the Earth at the beautiful River’s Bend Retreat Center on the Navarro River. Other activities include swimming, yoga, a “Sound Sanctuary", an appearance by “Auntie Astro to enlighten us regarding the astrological aspects of this Equinox, the Saturday Show, Sunday’s Silent Auction & Raffle. If conditions allow we will be offering an early morning “sweat” by the river. All this and 6 delicious catered organic meals in the company of dozens of fun, supportive, fascinating, glorious, wise, beautiful, talented, inclusive women.

So register now, as space is limited. For more info go to or call 707-964-2742. Hope to see you there!

Judith Vidaver

* * *


Artist: Barbara Bonardi, Fused Glass and Mixed Media Paintings
When: Friday, August 3, 5-8 pm
Where: Edgewater Gallery, 356 N. Main St., Fort Bragg

Admission is free. Light refreshments served. Barbara will do a brief presentation about her art at 6pm.

Barbara Bonardi is Mendocino County's newest diverse artist! Art lovers have commented that her paintings and jewelry designs complement each other.

Many of her one-of-a-kind jewelry designs incorporate colorful fusible glass, fine silver, gold, and exotic pearls and beads from faraway places.

Likewise, her paintings are rich in color but simple in design. Her mediums include oil, watercolor, fluid acrylics, and various mixed media incorporating pottery chards and sea glass on glass.



  1. Judy July 12, 2018

    I thought the City Council made the reason for their vote very clear. They needed more time because the demographer’s report was not finished. Watch the video Rex. While your at it be sure to listen to what was said about The Skunk Train and the amount of the grant and also that the money the city would get if the grant is won would pay for the person needed to administer the grant money.

    • Judy July 12, 2018

      Sorry Rex, you were actually correct about the amount of the grant. The amount had changed because prevailing wage wasn’t figured in.

  2. Annemarie Weibel July 13, 2018

    Bruce, you wrote:” GIVEN SKYHAWK’S DISABLING stroke, it’s obvious that Ted Williams will be the new 5th District Supervisor. Maybe Williams and either Hashack or Pinches will be the intelligent, independent energy the board needs to function as it should as the County’s civic leadership. As is there’s no one at the helm, and every time the five present bumblers meet they only add to policy confusion. Hamburg is merely the latest in a succession of nuts and incompetents to represent the 5th District, and his departure and Williams’ arrival is a glimmer of hope that the seat will at last be reputably occupied. Williams, McCowen, Gjerde, Pinches, and Brown could be the strongest board of supervisors we’ve seen in years, although that bar couldn’t be lower. Or if Haschak noses out Pinches in November, there’s still the potential of a three-vote majority for an effective board.”

    This is what Chris’ partner Samantha and mother of the children wrote on the caring bridge web site:”Chris is making progress, slowly but surely. He cannot eat yet, nor walk, but his cognitive ability is pretty good and he is tracking well. Very aware of all that is happening. Starting to be able to move his left side, and starting to swallow better. He needs to go to a SNF (skilled nursing facility) prior to an acute rehab facility, so we are trying to find him a place closer to home. For now he is in good hands and receiving excellent therapy on a daily basis.”

    As Ted is not campaigning right now (out of respect for Chris) I think it would be more respectful if the AVA would not comment on Chris’ condition right now until we have more information.

  3. Annemarie Weibel July 13, 2018

    Hi Bruce,
    I just found out that Samantha posted on Facebook that Chris Skyhawk has officially withdrawn from the campaign due to a long recovery process ahead.

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