- Ranch Fire
- Cache Fire
- Air Tankers
- Cannabis Crisis
- Code Enforcement
- Domestic Assaults
- Superintendent Warych
- Yorkville Extravaganza
- Friday Football
- Navarro Bargain
- Sports Talk
- Reith Novel
- Logging Exemptions
- Baseball Season
- Winery Creep
- Smelt Fishing
- Bad Law
- Yesterday's Catch
- Tough John
- Little Dog
- LA Irony
- Going Down
- NPR Chloroform
- Huber Investigations
- Planning Cancelled
- Chicano March
- Grassroots Leadership
- News Belt
- Hogwarts Dinner
- Amusement Towns
- Harbor Festival
- Capella Concert
- Paint Festival
- Bus Service
SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT in Ranch Fire containment was finally obtained Monday night when Calfire reported that although it had increased to over 410,000 acres, it was 90% contained. The number of firefighters assigned to the huge burn has been reduced to under 2500.
Calfire: Firefighters made good progress on the Ranch Fire Monday. Increased acreage is due to completed firing operations in the northeastern areas. Firing operations are expected to continue on interior portions of the burned area focusing on reinforcing containment in the northeastern areas of the fire as weather conditions permit. Crews continue to build and reinforce containment lines and mop up throughout the north and northeastern portions of the fire area. Firefighters continue with fire suppression repair efforts in the northwestern portions of the fire. The southern portion of the fire remains in patrol status as crews continue with suppression repair and mop up.
Mendocino Complex News Release — August 27, 2018
Ranch Fire, Monday Morning Update:
The fire increased by 9,701 acres in the last twenty-four hours with it now estimated at 402,468 acres and 67 percent contained. Containment is expected to increase as smoldering vegetation is mopped up. Interior burning within containment lines will continue. There are 3,061 personnel assigned to the incident.
On Sunday, firefighters continued to make good progress. Firing operations have been completed and operations are focused on mopping up burning vegetation found near the fireline. Large interior stands of fuel are expected to produce smoke as they burn off.
Firefighters are engaged in suppression repair efforts and mop up. Heavy equipment operators are constructing water bars in an effort to prevent erosion. Felling teams with chainsaws are removing hazardous trees to make conditions safer for crews working in the burned area and chipping crews are removing vegetation that was cut to widen containment lines. This work will continue throughout the week.
All Lake County mandatory evacuations have been reduced to evacuation advisories. This includes Lake Pillsbury and surrounding areas within the Mendocino National Forest. Starting today, Monday, Aug. 27, residents may obtain an access permit from the Mendocino National Forest,
Upper Lake Ranger District, 10025 Elk Mountain Road, Upper Lake, CA 95485, phone: 707-275-2361 in order to legally enter the Ranch Fire Closure Area.
Residents allowed into the area must travel to and from their property directly. Law enforcement will be patrolling the area to assure that the conditions of permits are followed.
Glenn County has lifted the Mandatory Evacuation Order for all areas east of the Mendocino National Forest boundary. A Mandatory Evacuation Order remains in place west of the forest boundary to the Lake County line in the area south of Forest Road 20N07 to the Colusa County line.
Fire Area Weather: The forecast shows the persistent marine influence remaining over the fire area this week. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 80’s with west/southwest winds.
Smoke: Haze and smoke will fill the skies again in regional communities surrounding the Ranch fire. The majority of impacts will be felt in the Stonyford area as dense smoke drains downslope from active fire to the west. Communities such as Potter Valley and Covelo should have unhealthy smoke conditions midday as the inversion breaks and mixes smoke aloft down to the ground before improving again in the evening. This trend will also occur in the Clear Lake area where periods of worsening air quality are expected during the day. Generally moderate air quality will continue in outlying regional communities, such as Ukiah and the Sacramento Valley.
Below is the link to the smoke forecast: wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/MendocinoNationalForest-SacramentoValleyArea
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MENDOCINO COMPLEX FIRE PROGRESSION MAP (Aug 28)(click to expand)
AND NOW CACHE CREEK IS ON FIRE
The Cache Fire started at 20 acres and bloomed to 120 in less than an hour as the sun descended and our collective blood pressure skyrocketed. Northshore FPD was of course right on it, and air attack support was nearly immediate. Well before dark, two tankers were dispatched from McClellan AFB north of Sacramento. KPFZ station manager and board president were alerted and on standby to reopen the phone lines, if need be. I went to bed.
Cache fire this morning, the ever-ready Lake County News reported the incident: lakeconews.com/index.php/news/57567-firefighters-hold-down-acreage-raise-containment-on-cache-fire. Another day, another terror for Lake County’s frazzled Spring Valley, Clearlake Oaks, and Double Eagle Ranch folks.
Congressman Thompson is scheduled to appear at the Upper Lake FEMA-run Disaster Relief Center this morning at 9:00 am; I’ll be at work (Lucerne Alpine Senior Center) but Elizabeth Larson — Lake County News editor/publisher will make the most of the perfunctory show, as usual. There is, as we discussed with the assigned FEMA PIO yesterday, on the air, no kind of relief for the exhausted caregivers and community volunteers who are the glue of our local emergency response services once the first responders are relieved. Thank you again for giving space in the AVA for Lake County’s seemingly never-ending catastrophes, and such commentary as I can muster.
Betsy Cawn, Upper Lake
PS. The Major’s encomium on disaster preparedness is nonpareil! I talk about this subject a lot on our Sunday editions, and the 17-18 Grand Jury report on our state of preparedness was well informed by their in-depth look at the process offered by the county OES last year, in which I was (as usual) the discomfitting member of the public with “input” relevant to our multifarious “natural and man-made” hazards, the little-known requirements of the federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and our county’s neglect of its “duties of care” right up to and inclusive of the Valley Fire in 2015). Supervisor Rob Brown called the report “garbage” and for the first time in my experience here, the newspaper-of-record (glad bag ad rag) remonstrated him in an editorial board broadside. Guess I’ll have to look up the new editor, eh?
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ED NOTE: Calfire reported Monday evening that the Cache fire was still at 120 acres and was 70% contained.
PHOTOS OF P-3 ORION AIR TANKERS at McClellan - Fire Aviation
CANNABIS CRISIS IN HUMBOLDT
“I cannot afford to grow anymore”
by Jane Futcher
More than 200 people packed the Mateel Community Center in Redway Thursday evening for “Community in Crisis,” a town hall to address the “drastic and immediate economic decline" of Humboldt from cannabis “fees and fines” that are putting many small cannabis farmers out of business.
Emotions ran high at the meeting, as residents begged a panel of state and county officials for help. Their issues included:
- The falling price of cannabis and rising costs of cultivation permits;
- The loss of their livelihood and lifestyle;
- High fines related to Humboldt County’s code enforcement abatement program;
- The complexities of permit applications (“The homework from hell,” as one speaker put it);
- Fear that cannabis code enforcers will red tag their homes; (“They’re going to get every nickel they think we owe,” said one man.)
- Falling property values and failing businesses;
- Big cannabis businesses getting permits while small ones fail.
The Mateel Community Center and the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project hosted the town hall.
Moderator Bonnie Blackberry said many Southern Humboldt residents are concerned about their community’s future.
“A lot of businesses in town are closing,” Blackberry said. “Many others are questioning if they’re able to survive. And there’s a lot of uncertainty about what will be left when the dust settles.
“What businesses and services will be here? In the past communities asked and supported enforcement of egregious grows damaging our environment. Unfortunately, little was done, and there came the Green Rush where the situation grew to a point where things were totally out of control, and now we have legalization which has brought an avalanche of regulations, permits, fees from multiple agencies and local government.
“Small grows are being replaced with large industrial-type grows with the vast overproduction and the current price collapse, which is having a huge impact on our local economy. And community code enforcement has progressed from complaint driven to focus on egregious grows to targeting non-egregious grows. Many are wondering what’s next.”
Panelist Estelle Fennell, Southern Humboldt’s 2nd District Supervisor, told the audience she understands how grave the crisis is. “I have worked with so many people to try to help them through the process,” Fennell said.
Humboldt County’s Planning and Building Department Director John Ford, head of Code Enforcement, offered statistics about the enforcement program:
- Since August of 2017, Code Enforcement has sent out 250 Notices to Abate a Nuisance (NTA) to cannabis farmers.
- Unpermitted cultivation carries a minimum penalty of $10,000 a day after 10 days. If landowners enter into a compliance agreement with the county, the fees are capped at one day per violation. The county’s hope is that the fines and penalties will drive unpermitted growers out of the county.
- Eighty-four applicants are in compliance.
- The county has collected $1.3 million in fines and is owed another $2.5 million.
- Most of the permits and fees are coming from Southern Humboldt although the northern part of the county is much larger geographically.
Ford insisted that his department is not targeting housing code violations but is focusing exclusively on illegal cannabis sites.
He said the two biggest problems that slow down county permits at his end are applicants who change their project descriptions after they’ve submitted their application; and applicants who are hard to get hold of and do not return calls when the county needs more information.
“We know how hard this is,” Ford says. “It’s working against you, and it’s working against us. We tend to come from different worlds and speak different languages sometimes.”
One local resident expressed frustration that to get her one source of water approved she must submit applications to five different agencies.
Adona White, a water quality engineer with the California Water Quality Control Board, said her agency is creating a way for farmers to opt out of the water board program if they no longer wish to grow or cannot afford the costs. The first step, she said, is to contact the water board and request “termination of coverage.”
Audience member John Haschak, a candidate for Mendocino County’s 3rd District Supervisor’s seat, told the group that Willits is also a community “in crisis.”
“I just have three comments about the direction of cannabis, and one is the direct sales bill that just failed in Sacramento,” Haschak said. “I applaud the Humboldt County supervisors for supporting that bill because without direct sales it seems like the small farmer is hopeless without that.
“The other one is co-ops. I totally agree that the co-op idea for business is necessary, and we need to be promoting that whenever we can.
“And the third one is a regional bank for the North Coast. Without public banking we have so many financial hurdles that are hampering the business opportunities for small farmers and creating a lack of safety because of the amount of cash going through the communities. We need to get that public banking throughout Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte counties.”
Beth Allen, owner of Amillia’s restaurant in Garberville, gave one of the most emotional speeches of the evening.
“I cannot afford to grow anymore,” Allen said. “What we grew went to the community. It meant school clothes, new shoes for the kids, a case of toilet paper, a case of toothpaste and maybe our taxes paid and our mortgage that we could pay once a year and that you could maybe not have plastic windows this winter.
“My business is failing. I offer a service to my community of good healthy food seven days a week. I am tired, and I’m tired of the disrespect and the struggle. At the last major meeting that we had in Garberville I asked Jared Hoffman ‘What are you going to do for us?’ And I was not answered, and I have yet to be answered.
“And I have to tell you, we are not putting in the application again. One point I want to make is that usually there are 60 parcels and homes on average for sale in Humboldt County every year. There are over 900 right now. It’s so important that you understand that you are shooting yourselves in both feet.”
Although the town hall settled nothing, participants seemed grateful for the chance to express their fears and frustrations with one other and with public officials who appeared to be listening.
(Jane Futcher hosts the Cannabis Hour every other Thursday on KZYX.)
A TALE OF TWO COUNTIES
by Jim Shields
There’s an educational study in contrasts between two-thirds of the Emerald Triangle when looking at their respective cannabis ordinances and the policies and actions relative to enforcement.
The counties of Humboldt and Mendocino stand in stark contrast to one another in their approaches and implementation of their respective ordinances legalizing marijuana.
Humboldt County clearly had a keen understanding and appreciation of what constitutes a regulatory framework. Mendocino County has demonstrated that it lacks even a fundamental grasp of what is meant by the word “regulation.”
A regulatory framework quite simply is a system of regulations and the means used to enforce them.
The system of regulations is meaningless without enforcement. Everyone knows that if a law is not enforced, people are not going to obey it.
A regulatory package must have the necessary enforcement infrastructure that supports the control, direction, and implementation of the regulations.
Humboldt County comprehends that principle, Mendocino County could care less.
For example, as I’ve pointed out previously, Mendocino County’s ordinance prohibits the removal of a single tree for the purposes of cultivating marijuana. Outlaw growers have thumbed their noses at that regulation the moment it hit the books. Yet, county officials refuse to enforce the reg, even though state resource agencies such as CALFIRE which oversees the state’s forest practice program in the county, have warned the county its lack of enforcement regarding tree removal associated with marijuana cultivation.
The evidence is right out in plain sight that violations from illegal conversions of timberland for cannabis cultivation operations has never ceased and is ongoing.
Likewise with illegal diversions of water, to which this county turns a blind eye.
Up in Humboldt County they use Google Earth satellite imaging to enforce their ordinance. It’s my understanding they receive monthly imaging updates. They don’t have to send personnel out into the field to investigate, they use modern technology.
Even though Mendocino County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector has used digital imaging for years to catch un-taxed, non-permitted construction and development, the county’s cannabis “enforcers” evidently do not avail themselves of the tool.
Why don’t they?
Good question and I don’t have an answer.
In Humboldt County if you’re caught growing weed without a permit, you are subject to a $10,000 fine for every day you are in violation. Unlike Mendocino County, Humboldt also takes its role as a resource enforcer seriously.
To give you an idea of the scope of Humboldt County’s enforcement activities in the past two weeks, here’s a compilation of what they’ve done, which also included the eradication of approximately 20,000 pot plants:
- Two water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Six stream crossing violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Six water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Three depositing trash in or near a waterway violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Failure to file a hazmat business plan (up to $5,000 fine per day, per violation)
- No lids on hazardous waste containers (up to $70,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Mismanagement of used oil filters (up to $70,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Improper storage and removal of solid waste violations (up to $25,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Grading without a permit violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Building code violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Commercial cannabis ordinance violations (up to $10,000 fine per day)
- Stream management violations
- Sewage violations
- Three water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Commercial cannabis ordinance violations (up to $10,000 fine per day)
- Two improper storage and removal of solid waste violations (up to $25,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Twenty-three grading without a permit violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Eleven building code violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Three timber-clearing violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Three illegal pond violations
- Junk cars violations
- Three water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Two depositing trash in or near a waterway violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Stream crossing violation (up to $8,000 fine per day)
- Commercial cannabis ordinance violations (up to $10,000 fine per day)
- Improper storage and removal of solid waste violations (up to $25,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Grading without a permit violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Building code violations (up to $10,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Improper disposal of sewage violation
- Unpermitted well violation
The bottom line on this issue is that regulations without enforcement is actually de facto deregulation, which is the current state of affairs in Mendocino County. That’s just another way of saying Mendocino County’s cannabis ordinance is a failure.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
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Mark Scaramella notes: Mendo’s regs are too complicated, too detailed and too extensive, making enforcement of all of them beyond staff’s capabilities even if they wanted to try. If they ever do enforce anything it will be necessarily random and selectively unfair.
ATTEMPTED HOMICIDE, MAYHEM
And restraining order violation and probation revocation.
On August 26, 2018 at approximately 2:15 a.m., Officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department were dispatched to the area of 103 Minnesota Avenue for the report of a domestic assault. Upon arrival, Officers located the male suspect (Silvestre Rivera Nieto) lying on the ground unconscious after being thrown to the ground by the victim’s father. The female victim was located, bleeding from several knife wounds. The female victim advised that she and her boyfriend (Rivera Nieto) had been out drinking, and while the two were walking home, Rivera Nieto suddenly pulled out a large knife, and began attacking her completely unprovoked. The victim stated that Rivera Nieto slashed at her several times with the knife, causing her to receive several lacerations to her face and hands.
After grappling with the suspect on the ground, the victim was able to get to her feet and run back to her residence. Once back at her residence, the victim advised her father of the incident, and Rivera Nieto arrived shortly after. When the suspect attempted to get past the victim’s father, and go after the victim again, the victim’s father threw the suspect to the ground where he struck his head. Rivera Nieto remains in custody while he receives medical attention for a head injury.
(Fort Bragg Police Press Release)
MICHAEL WARYCH has been hired as part-time superintendent of the Boonville schools. Former superintendent Michelle Hutchins has been elected superintendent of all Mendocino County’s schools. Warych is an old Mendo hand, having worked for years at Potter Valley and Willits before finishing out his years in public ed in the Sierra foothills. Not to go too deep into rural metaphors, nevermind the perilous psycho-dynamics of women supervising other women, but the female unhappiness with Mrs. Hutchins at the Elementary School last year may be jollied up some by Mr. Warych’s appointment, a rooster dispatched to the hen house, so to speak.
YORKVILLE Labor Day Extravaganza. Book lovers: more books than ever before including lots of kids books says Valerie Hanelt, Cake walk clowning. Frosty and Joanie keep kids and grown-ups giggling, serious goodies from raffle with Lisa Bauer. Come and have a root beer float or freshly shucked oysters from Bob “Oyster" Sites. WAY TOO MUCH FUN. Don't miss 10-4 this Coming Monday! (Terry Ryder)
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. The Panthers got fed to Cornerstone Christian at the Boonville Fairgrounds Friday, by a score of a lot to 6. Our next home game is versus arch-rival Point Arena on Friday night, September 7th.
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AS AN ASIDE, the following is the best high school football poem ever written:
Autumn Begins In Martins Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.
THE ONLY PROPERTY for sale in all of the Anderson Valley for under half a mil or so is the acre and a quarter for the miraculous price of $180,000 just down the road from the Navarro Store. The parcel is already zoned for four lots and has the original dwelling on it.
Billed by the euphemizers of real estate as a “fixer-upper,” but if that modest, battered structure could tell its tales…. All this and good water in a neighborhood in transition, although which direction the neighborhood is transitioning to is never quite clear, lately a slight movement upward has been detected. Some enterprising soul will undoubtedly scoop it up as the amazing bargain it is.
MSP REPORTS: If there's something this coast has lacked it's a sports show over the airwaves. And don't get me started on what the coast radio stations offer up to the public on a daily basis. Starting Wednesday, October 3rd from 3:00 - 4:00 pm the dynamic duo of Jim & Jerry Young will be on the air to give their view on LOCAL as well as national sports on public radio station KZYX (91.5, 90.7 & 88.1 FM on your radio dial. And it's a call-in show so listeners can express their opinions on the local & national sports scene. We can't wait for this to start - great idea anchored by two knowledgeable personalities...
“A SCHEDULE OF DRUGS IN THE VALLEY OF DEATH” is a novel by Sarah Reith, better known to most of us as a reporter for KZYX News. From our on-line review: “When called on to sum up her previous employment experience in a job interview, Isobel Reinhardt, the protagonist of Sarah Reith’s powerful new novel, calls it a ‘patchwork Mendocino lifestyle.’ And what a vivid and richly detailed patchwork her life turns out to be. It is 2008. Isobel Reinhardt, is 20 something, divorced and broke. She straggles home to California after a humiliating academic adventure overseas. Where does she go to recover? Mendocino County, of course, the same place where her hippy parents retreated to after a setback many years ago….”
GOVERNOR BROWN'S WIFE, Ann Gust, was once an executive vice president for The Gap, which of course is owned by the Fisher Family, which of course owns the Mendocino Redwood Company, which of course will benefit mightily from Governor Brown's last minute logging rule exemptions being force fed to the California legislature.
Kathy Bailey put it plainly: "According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, ‘under Brown's proposal, private landowners would be able to cut trees up to 36 inches in diameter, up from the current 26 inches on property of 300 acres or less without getting a timber harvest permit from the state, as long as their purpose was to thin forests to reduce fire risk. They also would be able to build roads of up to 600 feet long without getting a permit, as long as they repaired and replanted them.' Although the proposed allowed tree cutting is alarming, it is the road building that is even worse. Un-reviewed road building will bring back the bad old days of random slides and crappy drainage sluicing mud into already sediment-laden streams. Goodbye remaining 4 salmon! Although there is a need for fire resilience thinning, the parameters need to be done carefully and not jammed through at the end of the legislative session. The stuff around here that desperately needs thinning does not have a single 36-inch tree on it, and is unlikely to have even a 24-inch tree either. What we really need is a non-polluting product for the thinned material. Sure hope I wake up tomorrow with a good idea on that! Please let your legislators know that this last minute effort will not provide a good result. Rather it will bring more big problems."
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2018: REFLECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
by Jonah Raskin
I’ve written about Major League Baseball for the AVA for the last two seasons. So here’s another piece about the All-American game that’s too slow for the likes of me and that doesn’t have the action and the excitement of the National Basketball Association.
The most exciting thing about Major League Baseball this season has been the Oakland A’s who have won 78 games and lost 52 and who are in a fierce fight for first place in the AL West with the Houston Astros, the World Series champs in 2017. The San Francisco Giants, who are battling the San Diego Padres for last place in the NL West, are the biggest disappointment of this season, though the Giants’ record of 64 wins and 67 loses isn’t unexpected. The team hasn’t rebuilt big enough or fast enough to become a contender. The front office is too timid. For those who are paying attention, the Boston Red Sox are the real wonder team for 2018, with 90 wins and 41 losses and who are seven games ahead of the Yankees, their closest competitor. If I had to pick the two teams that will face one another in this year’s World Series I’d pick Boston and the Chicago Cubs who have the best record in the NL Central and who still remember that they were champs in 2016.
The Giants might remember that they won in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but they don’t have the same fire in the belly or the same competitive spirit. Oh well, there’s always next year, though without big trades and big bucks, look for the Giants to repeat as losers. The A’s have power hitters led by left fielder Khris Davis who has banged out 39 home runs and knocked in over 100 runs. Eight A’s players have hit more than ten home runs each this season. Daniel Mengden has zero home runs to his name but he’s batting .333 and has only struck out once all season. The team is consistently fun to watch. Can Oakland get past Houston and then Boston? The odds are against them, but I won’t bet against them; they’re scrappy and they have real grit. This is the time of year to begin to start following MLB; the previous four-months have been foreplay. Now is the time for clutch hitting and for clutch pitching. Now is also the time of year when a few players rise to the top. Think Reggie Jackson who played for 21 years in the majors, helped the A’s win three consecutive World Series, from 1972-1974, and who is known as “Mr. October.” There will be great players again this October, but there will never be another Reggie Jackson.
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ED NOTE. My annual thoughts on baseball are variations of one opinion: Trade Bochy for any of the A's coaches. Bochy's Giants are listless; all of them except Crawford are mailing it in most days. They are no fun to watch, partly because Bochy is the most predictable manager in the history of the game — pitch counts (remember that Cub's game when he pulled Moore?), never bunts, even so much as a safety squeeze, never a double steal, name one time since Bochy became manager anyone tried to steal home, and so on. PS. Trade Belt, or outsource him to the Arcata Crabs. The Giants should be a much better team but they're aren't even going to make the playoffs.
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A READER WRITES:
A couple more thoughts on the 2018 baseball season. There is an interesting difference between the two leagues this year. The American League has some real juggernauts, four AL teams currently have 79 or more wins, whereas the single highest win total in the National League is 76. Because of this difference in parity, the five playoff teams from the AL already seem fairly set, but the National League still has eight teams in good position to make the playoffs.
Mr. Raskin observed the differing fortunes of the two Bay Area teams, and I came across this telling statistic: the team with the fewest blown saves in all of baseball is the Athletics, with 11, and the team with the most is the Giants, with 27. That means the Giants have given away a late lead every fifth game this season! Very frustrating, and somewhat surprising given that it seemed like they had a decent reliever corp this year. A look at the culprits reveals an egalitarian spirit: Dyson has five blown saves; Melancon, Strickland, and Moronta blew four each; both Watson and Smith dropped three; and Gearrin gave away two before moving on. Had they held on to win those games instead, the Giants would have the best record in the majors. Had they merely held on to half those games, they would have the best record in the NL and comfortably lead their division. As Bochy might muse, "My season for a closer."
In 2016, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recognized the need for a definition of “winery events” and for guidelines for areas of the county where wineries and tasting rooms are most concentrated. The board is now scheduled to resume this policy debate in early 2019.
Currently, the county has 467 wineries approved in unincorporated areas. Since 2017, another 19 winery land-use applications have begun working their way through the county’s permitting process, and three have been approved, according to a spokeswoman for the county permit department.
Via a petition by Preserve Rural Sonoma County, we are asking the county not to deny but to simply put on hold any new permit applications until land-use standards and guidelines are in place and an ordinance passed.
With an increasing number of winery events, plus the prospect of cannabis events, it is a dereliction of duty for the county to go forward without strict land-use standards in place. It is the only way to ensure protection of Sonoma County’s rural character and its residents, including resident wildlife.
The time to act is now.
MENDOCINO COAST HISTORY: SMELT’S UP!
by Anne Cooper, Kelley House Museum curator
Everett Racine took this photograph which documents surf fishing. After doing a little research, it appears that these fishermen are after Surf smelt. These fish represent a critical link in the food chain and have many predators, including seabirds, sea bass and humans.
Long ago, Native Americans observed that these fish, spawning in the shallow waters and moving with the tides, could be caught in nets. The A-frame shaped nets visible in the photograph were modeled after those they developed.
There are three species of smelt in the “Guide to Central California Beach Fishing,” published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: Jacksmelt (Atherinopsis californiensis), Surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus) and Night smelt (Spirinchus starksi). The Guide recommends fishing for Surf or Night smelt “in the daytime and evening, respectively, on a falling high tide. Both species usually spawn on coarse-grained sandy beaches when the surf is mild.”
Peak months for Jack smelt are April to August and for Night or Surf Smelt from February to August.
There are useful websites addressing this topic: the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, StripersOnline.com and Seaforager.com. The most informative, because it included firsthand information, came from a post made in 2011 by a member of StripersOnline.com. The person who posted was a “senior member” at the time and used the name “Surfsmelt408.”
(To read the full post visit stripersonline.com/surftalk/topic/436609-surf-smelt-behavior).
Surfsmelt408 (who had been catching smelt for over 35 years) mentioned that Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg area beaches met the criteria for coarse-grained sand. The post began with the recollection that the 1960s and ’70s saw huge numbers of smelt on the beaches. Their numbers were so great that their bodies would darken the surf zone.
Birds were a good indicator of when and where the schools of fish were coming in with the high tide, and that their activity was predictable. The 2011 post also mentioned that the smelt in those decades were not particularly skittish about being approached by humans. A change in this behavior was noted as the years progressed.
Whether due to overfishing, a change in water temperatures or a change in the type and distribution of sand on the beaches, the decades of the 1980s and ’90s witnessed changes in the schools of smelt. The predictability of their arrival in the surf seemed to have vanished, along with the great numbers of fish.
The fish had also apparently gained some wisdom about practicing the avoidance of fishermen with nets, as well. As fellow organisms on the planet, we know about safety in numbers, and as their numbers fell the fish may have instinctively become more cautious.
People speculated that seasons of El Niño events caused the changes in beach sand. As a fish species that is relatively low in the food chain and supports larger predators, the smelt might be seen as an indicator of environmental pressures, similar to the proverbial canary in a coal mine.
For whatever reasons, conditions seemed to improve somewhat in more recent decades. As noted by Surfsmelt408: “Around 2003-2004 . . . the surf smelt returned in greater numbers at the local beaches. However their patterns were way different from the patterns of the decades before. Instead of the usual high tide, they would show up many times during the low tide. We would see a lot of male fish, and very few females. The schools we came across weren’t giant schools, they were big but the fish were spread out and they were spooked very easily. There were times where we had to work for the fish.”
Working for the fish was probably not the case at the time this photograph was taken during the 1930s, when Fort Bragg resident Everett Racine did much of his photography. The location for the photograph’s subject is uncertain. Everett Racine purchased his father Napoleon Job “Paul” Racine’s store where, according to articles written by daughter Dot Johnson (The Mendonesian 1996 and Real Estate Magazine 2002), fishing licenses and tackle could be purchased in the early years.
(If you have photographs and memories of fishing on the Mendocino Coast, whether in the surf, from a pier or on a boat, please contact the Kelley House Museum at 707-937-5791 or email@example.com.)
STANDING ON PRINCIPLE
by Rex Gressett
It was presented grandly as the greatest moment in City Council history. In cold objectivity, it well might have been the most abject abdication of responsibility by a City Council ever. At the Aug 13, City Council meeting Mayor Lindy Peters as spokesman for a unanimous City Council defiantly announced at that that Fort Bragg is not going to stand for the unpopular electoral reform foisted upon us by the CVRA (California Voting Rights Act).
Fort Bragg is going to court like dozens of California cities before us. Every city that tried it has gone down in a bloodbath of legal costs ignominiously settled and paid both sets of attorneys anyway. Not us. It can’t happen here. By appealing to reason and common sense in a principled patriotic assertion of our municipal autonomy little Fort Bragg wants to stand up for freedom. It has a nice ring. We will be the first city to prevail in the many cases that have come before the court challenging the CVRA.
Lindy Peters wants to lead our little city to our place in history. When Lindy announced it, the crowd cheered, I did myself or almost did until the cheering was suppressed as a violation of Linda Ruffing's grotesque Code of Civility. Instead, the Council beamed while the citizens did the silent hand clam clap. Something of an anticlimax. But the regular folks in attendance at Townhall were certainly supportive of the decision.
Mayor Peters gravely told us that Fort Bragg having confidence in our own local common sense could convince a court that the legislature in Sacramento was perverse and insensitive when they passed a law that we don’t like and therefore we would decline in our municipal dignity to be bullied by our own state legislature. Sue us.
The downside of the decision is at minimum hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs. Some cities have spent upwards of $4 million. There is no reason to think that because we are a small city we will incur proportionately small legal costs. Lawyers are lawyers, they work by the hour, not by the size of the client municipality. Millions indeed are on the table if we lose and incidentally, we don’t have it. We might win although that is highly unlikely. And if we settle we pay anyway, both sets of attorneys.
They had to do something, and the clock was ticking. The City Council had only 90 days to cave in or do what they did or do something else. I understand their frustration but it was a moment we most urgently needed leadership.
The CVRA is a state law that purports to correct a racial injustice that no one in Fort Bragg, Hispanic or not, can discover in our working class proudly inclusive town. It effectively shatters democratic control of the City Council, severely limiting the responsibility of any Councilperson to a fifth of the city and replacing a hallowed and traditional electoral system with a collection of absurdities. How we would handle a recall was never established. Citizens could only vote for “their” representative in every other election. The City Council as a whole would not be accountable to the voters which was unpalatable in Fort Bragg since we historically like to fire them in bunches.
The CVRA was derided by the Council and scorned by citizens as an open assault on the unity the dignity and the long-standing political traditions of Fort Bragg. Everyone agreed it was a bad law except the actual committee that hired Jacob Patterson to sue us and they were too embarrassed to release their names. When we became familiar with this sudden assault it became obvious that it was crafted by attorneys to provide ridiculously lucrative and lopsided compensation to their brother lawyers, in our case Jacob Patterson who was so mild-mannered, innocuous, and consistently off point that itself was obnoxious.
In general, we were being forced to destroy our traditional City Council in order to address the purported wicked suppression of a specifically Hispanic agenda that was a complete mystery. The CVRA was crafted to empower by geographic distinction a Hispanic population which in our town occupied no identifiable neighborhood Under the threat of the lawsuit by the anonymous Committee for Responsive Representation Fort Bragg paid $35k for a provisional division of the city by expert demographers into five arbitrary zones, or as they say districts.
The demographers discovered to no one's surprise that no district could be contrived that had a majority of Hispanic voters. The greatest concentration of Hispanic voters in any district was only 25%. The citywide distribution of Hispanic residents had the practical result that if in any district a Hispanic candidate were to run for office Hispanics in four-fifths of the districts could not vote for them. It was like a joke with no punch line.
The CVRA in practical terms works against the stated objectives of the people that proposed it. The 359 registered Hispanic voters in Fort Bragg had no agenda. The white majority and the Hispanic minority held in common every community interest and every policy. There was no history of frustrated Hispanic ambition. No Hispanic candidate had ever run for office until this election and now that we (thank God) have one, he has been outspoken in opposition to the CVRA mandated districting plan.
We were accused as a city of deliberately squashing Hispanic representation on the Council but a determined aggressive enterprise earlier in the year by Meg Courtney and her left-leaning contingent of carefully politically correct advocates had worked like horses to find a “Latino or preferably Latina” candidate for the Council and given up in frustrated discomfiture. The sudden focus on race was distasteful to a unified hard-working city and particularly offensive to an upwardly mobile and proudly independent Hispanic population. The whole thing was an unqualified stinker.
The City Council handled it all in closed session, no press releases (god forbid) were issued, there was a little discursive discussion in the one special meeting in which it was announced. But that was it. Russ Hildebrand, the new City Attorney, never made a single public utterance. Tabatha Miller, the new City Manager, did a bang-up job prepping the Council and making the thing clear to everyone. But she of course in her professional probity could do nothing but that. Jacob Patterson was the one person in the whole city that we could hang it on since the Committee for Responsive Representation declined to step up and advocate for correction of the grievous injustice they so abhorred. But Attorney Patterson made only occasional comments at erratic intervals and then only on the minutia of what he reverently calls “process” saying nothing whatsoever about the grave racial injustice that he was sinking our ship of state to correct.
It was a moment for leadership. It was a moment in which the absence of leadership was likely fatal. It was a moment in which what we did not need was robust foolish bravado but that was what we got.
If I may state the obvious, the State Legislature has passed a law. A very bad very offensive law. A law that works egregiously to undermine and diminish the effectuality and dignity of local governments. We are not the only ones to have noticed that. Several dozen cities and school boards have reacted with the same indignant repugnance that the Fort Bragg City Council has embraced.
But honey bear don’t care. The State Legislature don’t care. They have passed a law and the courts are charged with the enforcement of the law. We could change the state law by booting the incumbency (in our case Jim Wood) or by a state referendum. There is a process and we should do it. Clearly, just for his head in the sand cowardice in the current crisis, we should absolutely fire Jim Wood, the damn state representative, unless he leads a principled fight or at least makes some mild comment. So far nothing on the subject from that brave rep.
We should effect a change in the law because the law that has been passed is a bad law. But to challenge a law in court where hundreds of cities have lost and not one has prevailed is mere bluster. Expensive bluster in this case. And the fact of the matter, the hidden fact, the unadmitted fact, is that beyond changing the law, the Fort Bragg City Council had a multiplicity of options for defusing the CVRA that they quite deliberately and quite outrageously ignored. They took us into courtroom hell when they emphatically did not have to.
Next week: the last honey bear.
* * *
Honey Bear Don’t Care #4
by Rex Gressett
In the long history of man, the greatest number of significant dates are declarations of war. It is depressing to recall that 1066 or 1789 or 1914 are the milestones of our species progress through time. If putting everything you value in your society on the line in angry mortal conflict is war, the Fort Bragg City Council has gone to war. Throwing down the legal gauntlet on the CVRA (California Voting Rights Act) exposes the city to massive financial liability, with almost no chance of success. It’s do or die with a strong probability of death. The new City Attorney has given the City Council the execrable advice that it might only cost us a half million bucks.
The ubiquity and persistence of armed conflict, the spilled blood of innocents the unleashing of the human capacity for organized murder on industrial principles is the dominant narrative in western and really in human history. Apparently, it is the default setting for local as well as national leadership. In the “sue the bastards” declaration the Council commended its own heroism as a mortal conflict with irrationally dangerous foes. It had the unmistakable tone of the privileged telling the rest of us we should prepare ourselves to die gloriously.
There is no question that the CVRA is a significant, ominous, and dangerous political invasion of local rights and responsibilities. The casual disembowelment of traditional political institutions is no small thing. The CVRA in its crudest form does that and we have a lot to lose. I would say of the Fort Bragg City Council that whatever the flaws of individuals, the institution is immensely answerable to the people of the city. We don’t push them enough or watch them closely enough but if we did they would probably listen. On occasion, they listen anyway. We have had a recent tradition of weak intransparent government but it is getting better.
Generally, I believe that most of us in this pleasant insular city feel that our government works for us. A state intervention to massively and crudely alter respected local institutions in accordance with flimsy misapprehensions about our complex civic substance is unspeakable. We the people should determine the form of our local form of government and everything about it. Racial inclusion is important. Who doubts that. But we can do that. We’ve been doing it. And we can do it more formally, without throwing out the proverbial baby out when we toss the inequitable legal bathwater.
When the Council announced their intention to litigate the districting mandate required by the CVRA, they made the decision in absolute isolation from the people of the city. They absolutely had the legal authority to do it. We are elected leaders. This is leading. Right off the cliff.
For one thing, the assumptions of the Council based on the advice of the City Attorney were grotesquely flawed. Mr. Hildebrand suggested that the cost of litigation might be somewhere around $500k. That’s crazy. Nobody gets off that cheaply. One expert witness called by either side could easily cost $100,000 bucks. One witness. Cities that went to court and capitulated to the CVRA without any expensive resort to appeals spent $3 or $4 million only to lose.
Fort Bragg’s process of litigation will not be cheaper than larger cities, it will be more expensive. The legal analysis will have less data to work with. The local tenor of our institutions is not going to let us remain below some fictional radar, as Lindy Peters supposes. The law is flawed but the law is the law. Every single civic lawsuit to contest this sensational, flamboyant, and casually destructive law has failed. It is depressing to recall that our own City Attorney, Russ Hildebrand and his firm Jones and Meyer have a financial stake in the lawsuit just as much as Jacob Patterson does.
It should be noted that the CVRA mandates districting but all districting is not equally detrimental. There was once the option for “From Districting” in which the candidates are picked from districts but the people as a whole vote for them all. The most irrational aspects of districting are avoided. That is no longer an option. If we lose or settle, the court will impose not only districting but the form of districting. War is not about taking prisoners.
In planning an extensive conflict it is wise to assess one's own assets. The city of Fort Bragg is very weak financially. Coming out of the Ruffing years every department is still feeling the pinch of the emergency $3 million repayment to the water enterprise. We inpropritiously reduced our legal reserves on the very eve of Jacob Patterson’s legal assault from $300k to $200k. spend anything more and it will come out of the general fund. The city council can say goodbye to their fund with consultants; the city can say goodbye to a wide range of services. Perhaps we can still pave the streets since that comes from grants. The sewage treatment plant estimate has ballooned from an original $8 million to $16 million and all they have done so far is dig a hole. Anyone betting it stays at 16? The police department is overstressed, overworked, and underpaid. We normally have eight officers watching our back and right now we don’t have three of them. One of those vacancies is not going to be filled. They have called the police cutback “Reorganization.” Don’t imagine that the cops on the street aren't feeling it. Add to all of that a $3 or $4 million legal bill and court-ordered districting and it sure will be a monument to the capacities of the city council.
In the traditional way, the driving force of the CVRA war was the myopic incapacity to see, talk to or work with the other side. How tragic. No one in Fort Bragg is more guilty of it than me.
When Jacob Patterson sued the city and I was informed of the plan for districting. I was pissed. There is no other word. I waited for the Committee for Responsive Representation or their attorney to make an argument supporting their accusations of racial inequality and they did not do it. They would not even release their names. It was cowardly and arrogant. It turned the lawsuit into anonymous extortion instead of a process of democracy. It made the council mad and it made me mad.
Everyone got mad, and everyone ended up not talking about a crucial issue of politics and principle. Not talking was a huge mistake. I guess the imposition (attempted imposition) of tyranny should reasonably provoke distress. It certainly did.
But as I examined the situation and over time hobnobbed (grumpily) with the opposition, it became increasingly clear to me that we had clear cut options for the avoidance of a lawsuit. We could have preserved every important feature of our local government while still maintaining an immaculate compliance with the law. Jacob Patterson and through him his committee eventually sent me emails indicating their regret over the complete absence of discussion, the absence of goodwill, and their surprise over the forceful deliberate rejection of what after all must be admitted to be the law of the state.
It turned out that the committee for responsive representations is very willing to work out a compromise, but the ad hoc committee is pouting so hard they can't listen. The CVRA is a law that has been tested extensively, nay exhaustively in court. It is a harsh law that is inflexible in its most draconian applications but it absolutely permits the creative adaptation of a city so that they can work out compliance with the law without sacrificing institutional and political autonomy. Those precious options will be lost if the court imposes its decision on us.
Compromise only requires goodwill and a willingness to compromise. Instead, the city council is for war. It's easy. If Fort Bragg is to be a leader in the statewide CVRS controversy, perhaps we would profit more and help others profit by effecting a practical adaptation than by committing financial suicide.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 27, 2018
LUIS AYALA-ORTIZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
MICHAEL GLASS, Willits. Failure to appear.
NICHOLE IVERSEN, Loch Lomond/Willits/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
STEPHANIE LYLE, Ukiah Domestic battery.
ROBERT MCCALL, Caspar. Domestic abuse, elder abuse resulting in great bodily harm or death.
JONAH OTWELL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
MATTHEW RUPE, Willits. Pot for sale, pot sales, controlled substance for sale, transportation, possession while armed, armed with firearm in commission of felony, probation revocation.
GILBERT SOLIS, Fort Bragg. Failure to register as sex offender.
KELLY STANTON, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
ORLANDO VILLALPANDO, Fort Bragg. DUI, willful cruelty to child, probation revocation.
THINK TRUMP'S AS TOUGH AS MCCAIN?
by David Foster Wallace
You probably already know what happened. In October of ’67 McCain was himself still a Young Voter and ﬂying his 23rd Vietnam combat mission and his A-4 Skyhawk plane got shot down over Hanoi and he had to eject, which basically means setting off an explosive charge that blows your seat out of the plane, which ejection broke both McCain’s arms and one leg and gave him a concussion and he started falling out of the skies right over Hanoi. Try to imagine for a second how much this would hurt and how scared you’d be, three limbs broken and falling toward the enemy capital you just tried to bomb. His chute opened late and he landed hard in a little lake in a park right in the middle of downtown Hanoi. Imagine treading water with broken arms and trying to pull the life vest’s toggle with your teeth as a crowd of Vietnamese men swim out toward you (there’s film of this, somebody had a home-movie camera, and the N.V. government released it, though it’s grainy and McCain’s face is hard to see). The crowd pulled him out and then just about killed him. US bomber pilots were especially hated, for obvious reasons. McCain got bayoneted in the groin; a soldier broke his shoulder apart with a riﬂe butt. Plus by this time his right knee was bent 90-degrees to the side with the bone sticking out. Try to imagine this. He finally got tossed on a jeep and taken five blocks to the infamous Hoa Lo prison – a.k.a. the “Hanoi Hilton,” of much movie fame – where they made him beg a week for a doctor and finally set a couple of the fractures without anesthetic and let two other fractures and the groin wound (imagine: groin wound) stay like they were.
Then they threw him in a cell. Try for a moment to feel this. All the media profiles talk about how McCain still can’t lift his arms over his head to comb his hair, which is true. But try to imagine it at the time, yourself in his place, because it’s important. Think about how diametrically opposed to your own self-interest getting knifed in the balls and having fractures set without painkiller would be, and then about getting thrown in a cell to just lie there and hurt, which is what happened. He was delirious with pain for weeks, and his weight dropped to 100 pounds, and the other POWs were sure he would die; and then after a few months like that after his bones mostly knitted and he could sort of stand up they brought him in to the prison commandant’s office and offered to let him go. This is true. They said he could just leave. They had found out that McCain’s father was one of the top-ranking naval officers in the US Armed Forces (which is true – both his father and grandfather were admirals), and the North Vietnamese wanted the PR coup of mercifully releasing his son, the baby-killer. McCain, 100 pounds and barely able to stand, refused, The US military’s Code of Conduct for Prisoners of War apparently said that POWs had to be released in the order they were captured, and there were others who’d been in Hoa Lo a long time, and McCain refused to violate the Code.
The commandant, not pleased, right there in the office had guards break his ribs, rebreak his arm, knock his teeth out. McCain still refused to leave without the other POWs. And so then he spent four more years in Hoa Lo like this, much of the time in solitary, in the dark, in a closet-sized box called a “punishment cell.”
Maybe you’ve heard all this before; it’s been in umpteen different media profiles of McCain. But try to imagine that moment between getting offered early release and turning it down. Try to imagine it was you. Imagine how loudly your most basic, primal self-interest would have cried out to you in that moment, and all the ways you could rationalize accepting the offer. Can you hear it? If so, would you have refused to go? You simply can’t know for sure. None of us can. It’s hard even to imagine the pain and fear in that moment, much less know how you’d react.
But, see, we do know how this man reacted. That he chose to spend four more years there, in a dark box, alone, tapping code on the walls to the others, rather than violate a Code. Maybe he was nuts. But the point is that with McCain it feels like we know, for a proven fact, that he’s capable of devotion to something other, more, than his own self-interest. So that when he says the line in speeches in early February you can feel like maybe it isn’t just more candidate bullshit, that with this guy it’s maybe the truth. Or maybe both the truth and bullshit: the guy does – did – want your vote, after all.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “A lotta Republicans talk tough, but John McCain was tough, tough as any dog, and that's the highest praise I've got for any of you best friends as you call yourselves. He was a dog guy, too!”
THE IRONIES OF LA LA LAND
by David Yearsley
Irony is the not-so-new normal. Somewhere back in the swirling dry-ice mists of history, round about the time of the one-and-only Clinton Administration, this venerable figure-of-speech stretched its wings and its brand and became a full-fledged lifestyle choice providing post-moderns with essential protection for life, liberty, and pursuit of nostalgia.
Aided by irony, you could wear suede shoes and wide-wale bell bottoms, mix old-fashioned cocktails from overpriced mason jars, enjoying it all while meaning none of it. The performance was the key: cloaked in paradox, these linoleum counter-revolutionaries were safe—they’d say “empowered”—to mock their own poses.
There was an unacknowledged anti-political dimension to this: how to make sense of a poor boy from Hope, Arkansas claiming to be a young and groovy populist but then going on to make war on black America, firing off missiles in the Middle East, expanding NATO in search of a new Cold War, and jumping into bed and into closets with corporations and interns? The answer to all this was ironic: buy a camo flak jacket or make kindred gestures more defeatist than defiant.
Next thing you knew it was 2017. Donald Trump was president taking irony to a whole new realm called by some “post-truth.” American leaders have long been contemptuous of honesty, especially about themselves and their country, but Trump enjoys flaunting his scorn for reality: he’s lived so long in his own irony bubble that he no longer knows or cares what the difference between disdain and belief might be. That’s what makes him the hippest man in America.
Like the fabricated images we see riffling in the breeze on a vintage Hollywood back lot that is a favorite location of the film, this is the backdrop for La La Land, the movie musical that took home a magnificent seven Golden Globes last year and still more pseudo-honors at the Academy Awards.
This cinemascope entertainment makes for a fun two-hours, but it must be enjoyed with a big tub of buttered irony if the kernels and condiments of its nostalgia are to go down the gullet without provoking a spluttered cough or requiring a life-saving Heimlich maneuver from the usherette.
The genre of La La Land is inherently backward-looking, the film soaked with references to the movie industry’s past and the musical’s marquee moments. There are the obligatory riffs on Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Top Hat and probably dozens of other bits of more recent, but no less nostalgic cast. These are fetchingly embroidered into the love story of the main characters, the doctrinaire old-school jazz-pianist, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and the aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone): even their romance is overtaken by retrospect as the movie gives in to the seductions of its own reverie.
Lit by the afterglow of the Golden Age past and the glimmer of a what-might-be future, La La Land celebrates its own self-regard by gently mocking the here-and-now of its Los Angeles. When in this lightly ironic mode the film is at its best.
At an overlook in Hollywood Hills where the couple breaks into its first duet and soft-shoe number, the would-be lovers comment disdainfully on sprawling city of lights below. The movie loops back on itself for a later return to the location, during the day rather than in romantic twilight: the pair scoffs at the city once again, as if to say “Who would live—and love—in such a place?”
Nostalgia numbs the senses, and is therefore the drug that allows the pursuit of celebrity. Accordingly, the movie’s centerpiece song, “City of Stars” is a wistfully circling minor key melody above a repetitive piano figure that is jaunty and sentimental: it doesn’t think, it dreams.
The film’s most impressive cinematic feat comes right at the opening with “Another Day in the Sun.” Motorists stuck in a teeth-grinding L.A. traffic jam escape their cars for a high-energy production number that weaves between vehicles and courses up and down the onramp—all in a single take with the camera itself joining the ecstatic choreography. Making fun of the perfect Californian weather and the relentless freeway stasis that defines the city derided by Mia and Sebastian from the Hollywood Hills, this tableau gives new meaning to the phrase show-stopper. Gridlock spawns blastoff before the film has even properly begun. This wholesome escapist fantasy also laughs at the chases and crashes in which Hollywood automobiles usually star: the only time there in traffic in La La Land is when it helps the story.
These petty ironies orbit around a much weightier one. The appealing chemistry between the leads is at its best when Stone and Gosling are verbally sparring, on a date at a classic movie, flirting, or arguing—not when they are dancing or singing. That the movie more-or-less overcomes this dilemma is a tribute to the generally snappy script and the verve of the direction. While one can admire the effort and native talent of both stars in their homages to Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and many others, they are not equipped for their roles: the crescendo never comes; no one is swept off her feet; gestures are made but not followed through on. Stone is a real star even when not fully in her element, but when doing their songs and dances she and Gosling seem more to be hitting their marks in a meta-musical. In this sense the musical’s main song rightly judges the movie around it: the leads are stars, not singers and dancers.
There are still more massive ironies, none more debilitating than the fact that it’s a strident—not stride—white pianist who anoints himself the apostle of jazz who will save it from the menace of pop culture. This Sebastian loves bebop not Bach. He worships Miles, Coltrane and other icons of what he calls “pure jazz.” Yet Sebastian’s own waltz—the one that first draws Mia to him in a restaurant where he is shackled in seasonal servitude to the Christmas Carols and that he plays again at the crux of the film—is sickly saccharine stuff, the work of the musical’s composer, Justin Hurwitz. As supposed savior of what some have called America’s Classical Music, Sebastian is stuck in a movie musical that, in contrast to the so many Broadway shows, will never birth a jazz standard. Real jazz musicians are occasionally wheeled into frame like stage sets in order to add a whiff of authenticity, but there no attempt is made to marry the art form with the real musical content of the movie. The film seems to confirm what its lead character fears: Americans don’t like jazz.
Writer-director Damien Chazelle is to be applauded for his virtuosically impressive direction and the cleverness of his script, but his attitude towards jazz appears as white as Fred Astaire’s waistcoat—perfect for Hollywood. In Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) it was the malign and musically tiresome Buddy Rich who was the idol of the young, beset drummer. In La La Land Gosling’s Sebastian professes to love Monk, and tries to figure out one of his piano licks by constantly rewinding the cassette player in his 1970s convertible while stuck in that opening traffic jam. But what Sebastian sings and plays himself is pure schlock.
The filmmakers are clearly aware that they are on dangerous ground when it comes to race, especially in Los Angeles. When Seb first breaks into “City of Stars” he is shuffling down Santa Monica pier trying some Astaire tricks with a fedora that apparently fell like manna from the heaven. On his stroll he encounters a black couple and dances cheek to cheek with the woman for a few bars, before the man takes muted umbrage.
The role of Sebastian’s music-school comrade and former bandmate Keith is taken by that anodyne avenger, John Legend. He is made to espouse a supposedly progressive view of jazz that claims it must either evolve or die. Soon enough the unbending musical moralist, Sebastian is buying dark suits and touring with Keith’s band ironically called the Messengers— the “Jazz” of Art Blakey’s seminal ensembles having been lopped off. Still more ironical is the fact that Legend’s production number Start a Fire (co-written by Legend and Hurwitz) makes for the film’s best, most energetic music—all nostalgic funk and fusion, big haired back-up singers and Solid Gold-style dancers.
Soon after this ironic high, Sebastian plays the piano at Keith’s wedding to a white woman, the interracial marriage is a pretty transparent ploy to soften the racial dissonance at the heart of the film. At the backyard ceremony, Sebastian doesn’t seize the opportunity to break into Monk’s Ruby, My Dear but claws at his signature waltz, as sickly sweet as bad wedding cake. Irony makes even this palatable.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Roman Catholic priests sexually abusing children and gets away with it. VW scams the emissions tests and not much happens. Wells Fargo scams millions of their customers but no one is in jail for it. Wall Street gets bailed out to enrich the 1% and there is no blowback. The nation has been in a continuous state of war since WW II and we just go along. Women and children are being abused and slaughtered daily and we are ho hum. Our healthcare system is busted. Americans overpay outrageously and govt does not respond. Americans are addicted to drugs, sex, booze, and just about anything else detrimental to health and we wring our hands. This sucka is going down!
MEANWHILE, OUT IN LEFT FIELD
by James Kunstler
With Russian “meddling” stalled in the dead letter office, The New York Times has apparently re-branded itself Floozie Central in its quixotic campaign to unseat the Golden Golem of Greatness by all means necessary. The Stormy Daniels affair, and its slime-trail of payoffs, is the slender thread that the Resistance hopes to hang Donald Trump on.
The great legal minds of cable TV have been very busy trying to suss out which part of the $130,000 non-disclosure payoff might apply as a campaign financing violation. If Rudy Giuliani still had his wits about him, of course, he would claim that the money was just Ms. Daniel’s going rate for an overnight frolic amongst her legendary twin peaks, that is, a sex worker’s simple transaction fee. Where does it say in the constitution that a president may not consort with tramps and hussies?
It was hilarious to discover that Mr. Trump’s erstwhile personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, picked DC Swamp attorney and Clinton insider, Lanny Davis, to represent him in negotiations with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It must be like the old days in the locker room of the Burning Tree Golf Club for Lanny and Bob. They go back at least to the days when the Clintons fended off accusations of issuing pardons to special friends for a $450,000 payoff on Bubba’s last day in office, January 19, 2001. And there must have been a reunion around 2010 on the Uranium One matter, in which a tidy $145-million from Russian Oligarch Central landed in the Clinton Foundation coffers after Madam Secretary Hillary signed onto a go-ahead with the U-1 deal.
Meanwhile, way out in Left Field — Salt Lake City, actually — a forgotten lone ranger named John W. Huber is ostensibly toiling away on a roster of allegations so far ignored by the Mueller team, namely the politicization of the FBI and the Department of Justice, and the actions taken deviously by senior employees there against Mr. Trump during and after the 2016 election. Mr. Huber was tapped to carry out this assignment by Attorney General Jeff Sessions late in 2017.
Mr. Huber has plenty to work with. The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has already issued a formal report filled with well-documented findings of lying and leaking among many high officials in FBI and the DOJ. Several of the featured players have already been fired from the agencies or demoted on the basis of those findings: Stzrok, McCabe, Ohr, Page…. The big question is how come none of these characters have been called to testify in front of a grand jury? The big answer is that a grand jury would have to be convened by the very agency that employed them — raising a reasonable suspicion of inside baseball in these matters.
One might surmise that AG Sessions gave the commission to Mr. Huber out in the Utah boondocks precisely because he was so far removed from the inside baseball of the DC Swamp. Or maybe it’s just a more convenient new branch of the Dead Letter Office. Nobody knows. I doubt that 99.9 percent of the public, including reporters in the mainstream media, even remember that Mr. Huber is on the case.
A Google search of news for Mr. Huber turns up nothing after about April of this year. That is if you ignore the janky info coming out of a woo-woo website called Qanon, which claims that his office is sitting on thousands of indictments of Deep Staters distributed far-and-wide through the government. Things that sound too good to be true usually are.
The past week was one of triumphal celebration for the Trump-dumpers. Rachel Maddow fell into a multiple orgasm rapture over the Stormy Daniels payoff story and Anderson Cooper almost wet his smallclothes with each disclosure. The DNC made preparations for a November victory dance. Somehow this all seems fitting for the dog days of August, when even millionaire news readers look to get away from the roaring unreality of their jobs.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
CANCELLATION NOTICE FOR 9-6-18 PC MEETING
Dear Interested Parties,
Planning Commission meeting Cancellation notice for September 6, 2018, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff with any questions.
Victoria Davis, Commission Services Supervisor, 707-234-6664
ORIGINAL 1970 NATIONAL CHICANO MORATORIUM MARCH & PROTEST
VICTORY IN SUPERDELEGATES FIGHT Means: Grassroots Can Win
by Norman Solomon
When members of the Democratic National Committee voted to take power away from themselves and other “superdelegates” -- removing their leverage over the presidential nominating process -- they took a big step toward heeding a sign that activists held outside their decisive meeting: “Democratic Party: Live Up to Your Name.”
Outside that meeting at a Chicago hotel, we were holding the sign to put a spotlight on existing hypocrisy and to call for seizing an opportunity.
Officials rarely decide to reduce their own power. And the Democratic Party has not made such a historic reform to its presidential nominating process in decades. So, how did it happen?
After participating in the 2016 national convention as a Bernie Sanders delegate and then working as part of coalitions to get superdelegates out of the nominating equation, I’ve been pondering what we can learn from the historic win that occurred on Saturday. Here are some takeaways:
1: Leadership to make historic change must come from the grassroots.
The mass media did not do anything to help jettison the power of superdelegates. Neither did even the most progressive Democrats in Congress. The impetus came from, and was sustained by, a progressive base that saw what was wrong with the nominating process in 2016 and was fed up.
2: Education and agitation must happen in communities nationwide.
Sometimes we hear how it’s not enough to “preach to the choir.” But, while ultimately insufficient, it’s necessary: to build on and expand a solid base. Only with thorough and ongoing outreach -- to inform and galvanize progressives -- can momentum for long-term pressure be sustained.
3: In many respects, even the best Democrats in Congress are not providing much cutting-edge leadership. Grassroots activism should be providing leadership to them rather than the other way around.
If it had been left up to the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the superdelegate reform would not have happened. Overall, the reform proposal got scant support -- and some notable vehement opposition -- from Democrats in Congress, including some who are often praised as “progressive.”
4: When grassroots activists lead -- and are willing to fight like hell, astutely and reasonably and unrelentingly -- the Democratic leaders can sometimes be compelled to follow.
It’s virtually impossible to name a profoundly positive social change that was first initiated from Capitol Hill or from the DNC leadership.
5: We need to methodically organize -- inside and outside of the Democratic Party -- in order to effectively harness the progressive energies that require public education, activism, and expressions of outrage.
Grassroots organizing -- local, regional and national -- is crucial. That’s what happened on the superdelegate issue. Overall progressive strength and organizational muscle led top national Democratic Party powerbrokers to conclude that the party must earn a lot more trust from progressives in order to win more elections. Those powerbrokers came to understand that failure to ditch the power of superdelegates would only worsen the falloff of grassroots support and enthusiasm for the party’s candidates.
6: Election campaigns should be subsets of social movements, not the other way around.
Winning elections -- to defeat Republicans while electing more and more progressive Democrats -- is absolutely vital. GOP control over the federal executive and legislative branches, and therefore increasingly over the courts as well, must be rolled back: beginning with the midterm elections this fall. In the absence of hallucinatory political analysis, defeating Republicans will require supporting Democrats on the general-election ballot.
At the same time, progressives should not defer to leadership from Democratic Party officials or congressional Democrats, who are routinely constrained and compromised by their roles. And in a time of perpetual war and runaway militarism, in sync with rampant corporate power, the party is currently in need of a basic course correction that can only come from the grassroots. The ultimate key to vital social change is social movements.
Leadership must come from the grassroots. That’s how superdelegates met their long-overdue demise.
(Norman Solomon is the national coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
DINNER AT HOGWARTS
Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library to host first fund raising event: “Dinner at Hogwarts”: Proceeds to benefit Adult Literacy in Ukiah
Contact: Mary-Kate Stoever: email@example.com
Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library invites you to have a great time and support Ukiah Library’s new Adult Literacy Program by attending our first fund raising event “Dinner at Hogwarts”-- a Harry Potter themed dinner, dance and silent auction (** bring your checkbook!) on September 29, 2018 at the Barra tasting room at 5:00PM.
“Dinner at Hogwarts” will be keeping the ‘fun’ in fund raising with Butter-Beer, Honeydukes Candy Store, Harry Potter themed crafts & games, a great Silent Auction, a wonderful catered meal, and dancing to the dulcet sounds of Will Siegel and Friends!
In 2018 The Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library has allocated almost $20,000 to Programming, Materials, and Capital Improvements at the Ukiah Library! With our help, the Ukiah Library was able to provide 566 Programs serving more than 12,000 people in the Ukiah Valley-- almost ten percent of the Library’s traffic in the last year! Our current goal is to fund the Adult Literacy Program, which the Ukiah Library will launch in the fall.
Make the magic happen at “Dinner at Hogwarts”!
Dinner Tickets: 5:00PM, 9/29/18, cocktails and a catered “Dinner at Hogwarts”. Dinner Tickets are $50 in advance at the Mendocino Book Company.
After Dinner Tickets: 7:00PM, we will open the doors to the public and have Crafts, Games, and Dancing for the whole family with live music by Will Siegel and Friends. After Dinner Tickets will be $10 at the door.
Who: The Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library
What: First Fund Raising Event: Dinner at Hogwarts
Where: Barra Winery Event Center-7051 North State Street, Redwood Valley, CA 95470
When: 5:00 PM Saturday, September 29, 2018
Why: To fund the new Adult literacy Program at the Ukiah Library
How: Dinner Tickets $50 at Mendocino Book Company
“It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― Albus Dumbledore, ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone’
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Tourism turns towns into de facto amusement parks. It's the worst sort of industry because it creates a tacky atmosphere and attracts a plague of opportunists. For locals, what results is a devil's bargain, where, in return for cash, you give up your streets to a bunch of gawkers. And once your town is turned into an amusement park all the originality leaves with the original inhabitants. The progression isn’t pretty. Whole streets are turned into outdoor malls, with t-shirt racks and all the crap that goes along with it. The population of opportunists that arrive to staff the gift shops are mainly internationals - a motley lot, like modern-day gypsies or carnies. Rootless folk trailing the moneyed cattle like blowflies.
POINT ARENA HARBOR FESTIVAL
19th Annual Harbor & Seafood Festival
Arena Cove, Point Arena, Sunday at 12 PM - 6 PM
This is an event that you don’t want to miss: a perfect setting with amazing food, stunning views, great company and all for a good cause – to raise money to keep our local pier operating all year long! This year’s “Harborfest” menu features oysters, fish tacos, albacore kebabs, salmon kebobs, abalone cakes, corn-on-the-cob, and fresh French fries. Libations include craft beer courtesy of North Coast Brewery, assorted wines, hard cider from Oz Farm, and non-alcoholic beverages including homemade lemonade. This year’s bands include Black Sugar Rose, Nelson Lunding Trio, Venganza, and JJ Mule Kat. The kids area hosts a bouncy house as well as hula hoop making by ACORN Partners In Education. There is no entry fee and parking is free. Bring the kids, but please leave the dogs at home. For more information or to get involved please call Point Arena City Hall at 882-2122.
FROM THE CHAPEL TO THE CONCERT HALL:
A cappella concert opens Ukiah Community Concert season on a light note
by Roberta Werdinger
On Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m., the Ukiah Community Concert Association will present the award-winning a cappella group Business Casual at the Mendocino College Center Theatre. The concert will inaugurate the 71st season of this important all-volunteer Mendocino County institution. Free admission for this concert is offered to high school and college students with ID, space providing.
Beatboxing and Big Band
All five members of Business Casual live in Silicon Valley and work in the tech industry, fitting in rehearsals on evenings and weekends. The group's line-up currently consists of Roshun Alur, tenor; Michael Wang, beatboxer; Leslie Baker, soprano; Cassie Greene, alto; and Jacob Chamoun, who is the bass singer and provides other miscellaneous sounds. Greene, the only original member of the group, and Chamoun are married to each other.
"Fundamentally, we are a pop group with a twist," Chamoun states. "We will take a pop song and render it in big band style. We are evolving constantly in response to the group members, our audience and their interests." Their concert might feature pop, jazz, Latin and rock, along with audience participation, "an amazing sound system," and lights.
The six years since the group has formed have been eventful, with frequent gigs at community and corporate events in the Bay Area and the release of their first single, "Ain't No Way," in March of 2018. They have also been named National Champions of the Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition, and will travel to New York City next month to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the International Championship of A Capella Open Finals.
The earnest yet fun-loving tone Business Casual achieves when performing classic songs such as Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" has a solid base (no pun intended). Since in this genre "a member's voice is their instrument," as Greene notes, every change in the group's makeup creates a major adjustment and also discovery, as the new member's unique sound is incorporated into the collective's existing blend. Comments Chamoun, "We are getting musicians to gel enough in pitch, tone and timbre to imitate the sound of a guitar. It shouldn't be understated how much work goes into this illusion."
“A cappella” describes a style of musical instrumentation in which the human voice plays all the parts of a song--including those often played by other instruments. Translated from the Italian as "in the manner of the chapel," it is a vocal style with deep roots in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. Praying and singing without instruments arose early, having been noted approvingly by the Jewish philosopher Philo, born in 20 BC. Polyphonous chanting and music, in which melodies and rhythms play with and against each other, were developed in the Catholic Church in the 15th century, giving way to a multitude of singing styles in religious settings since then. Some churches, synagogues and mosques still ban musical instruments in worship, while others encourage them.
Since its early roots, a cappella music has moved out of the chapel and into the wider world, incorporating influences from jazz, soul, pop and other genres. The effect on listeners, however, is much the same: As singing is an attempt to raise the human spirit, hearing several skilled singers lifting their voices together can be uniquely moving, even if their subject matter is now more lighthearted. In the contemporary a cappella style, groups like Business Casual employ a "beatboxer" (vocal percussionist) to keep the rhythm while another member will “play” (sing) the bass. The group’s vocal imitations of string--and sometimes wind and brass--instruments are meant to stretch the limits of the human voice, while acknowledging the artificiality of the medium at the same time.
71 years of community service
It is no small thing for a community-run organization in a rural area to have been active since 1947. But that is just the case with the Ukiah Community Concerts Association, a concert-producing organization affiliated with Live On Stage, Inc., a national organization of concert producers. The UCCA chooses from Live On Stage, Inc.'s artists' roster as well as its own musically knowledgeable board members' connections to artists worldwide to bring widely recognized acts to the community such as Italian Saxophone Quartet; The Jeremy Kittel Band; Broadway stars Susan Egan and Christian Knoll; and jazz musicians Christian Jacob and Tierney Sutton. The UCCA has recently partnered with local concert impresario Spencer Brewer to coproduce the annual Professional Pianists concert, which benefits UCCA and other worthy community organizations. This season's concert will take place on the weekend of January 11-12, 2019. The event features as many as 10 pianists, and often sells out.
Other concerts in the UCCA's new season are: "Guitars Without Borders" on Nov. 11, featuring local guitar whiz Alex de Grassi, accompanied by Grammy award-winning classical guitarist Andrew York and National Fingerstyle Guitar champion Muriel Anderson; the Frisson Ensemble on Feb. 2, 2019, a six-piece classical music ensemble chosen from the country's top music schools; and a multimedia presentation by whiz-bang concert pianist Ilya Yakushev on April 13, 2019.
UCCA President Gina Marie Lindsey has been assiduous in building up a strong board, which includes some of the area's most stellar musicians along with newcomers Sheridan Malone, Susanna Janssen and Jim Dowcett, all dedicated to bringing high-quality live music to Mendocino County. The organization is collaborating with the Recording Arts Program at Mendocino College to record the events for airplay on the County's public radio station, KZYX.
Lindsey, who grew up in an even smaller town in Alaska and has now retired with her husband to Ukiah, muses that even the losses and stresses of the recent fires have brought home the importance of the places we call home. "We make the fabric of our own community. This is one of those things that hasn't changed for decades. That's pretty rich."
Tickets for the Business Casual concert are $30 general and $15 for youth under 18 in advance, and $35 and $15 for youth at the door. Admission is free for high school and college students with ID at the door, depending on available seats. Tickets may be purchased at Mendocino Book Company, 102 S. School St. in Ukiah, and online at www.ukiahconcerts.org. For more information, please call (707) 463-2738.
UCCA thanks Schat's Bakery, Black Oak Coffee, and Rivino Winery for donating treats during intermission.
LIMITED MTA BUS SERVICE ON LABOR DAY
Every worker deserves a high-five and mini-vacation on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, and bus drivers are no exception. Mendocino Transit Authority will still provide limited service both inland and on the south coast on Labor Day, but only two buses will be operating.
MTA’s Route #65 bus will run from Fort Bragg to Willits, Ukiah and Santa Rosa roundtrip on a Sunday schedule. MTA’s Route #95 bus from Point Arena south to Gualala, Sea Ranch, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa will also run one roundtrip on a Sunday schedule. No local buses will run in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg on the Monday holiday.
Check the Labor Day holiday bus schedule online at
Mendocino Transit Authority provides safe, clean and convenient public bus service throughout Mendocino County.
Suzanne Pletcher, firstname.lastname@example.org, (707) 489-1325