Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Monday, Sep. 3, 2018

* * *


by Herb Caen (1992)

Right, as in overtime pay. That’s what I’m supposed to collect for being here today, which is Labor Day, a full-fledged God-fearing Constitutionally sanctioned holiday dedicated to those noble men and women who, by the sweat of their hairy armpits (the men, anyways) made this country what it is today. The fact that the country today is a mess is not their/our fault. Blame has yet to be assigned but That Man In the White House is always a possibility and has been for many a long-underpaid year.

Of course, I am not writing this on Labor Day. If I were, it wouldn’t appear till tomorrow, at the earliest. With any luck it wouldn’t appear at all, but editors aren’t as tough as they used to be and they like the occasional day off, too. So, he said with a sickly supplicating smile, here we are, stuck with each other. Hi!

It’s all quite confusing. The up-to-date thing among columnists — and my, aren’t there a lot of them — is to skip writing a column when the spirit moves them, or, more precisely, doesn’t move them. Thus, on some mornings, you pick up the old rag, turn to your favorite fount of wisdom and read that so-and-so “is taking the day off.” If newspapers were accurate, which would certainly make them less entertaining, this sentence would read that so-and-so “has taken a day off” — which one, exactly, we may never know — that that’s why his or her piece is not in place.

The line “Herb Caen Is Taking the Day Off” has never appeared in this sterling journal. I don’t say that proudly. In these enlightened times, this could mean I’m monomaniacal, driven, insecure, deadline-ridden and a good dancer. All these things are true, but the real reason is that I am from the old school. OK, make that the Very Old School. I was broken into “the game” to believe that the deadline was the holiest of holies, holier even than the Grateful Dead or the Republican Party. “Miss a Deadline, Go to Jail” was inscribed on the bumper sticker of my mind, a well-turned line if I do say so myself. Do I hear a second?

One of my all-time favorite bumper stickers was “The Marquis de Sade Was a young Whippersnapper.” The young whippersnappers who are granted columns today think nothing of missing deadlines sadistically or otherwise. It isn’t part of their work ethics, or perhaps they weren’t reared properly, a reflection on their “family values.” The irreducible minimum, I suppose, is one column a week and I know a young whippersnapper who decided to take that day off. He thought it was a funny idea. Got away with it, too.

I’m not saying I haven’t taken a lot of days off, but I write a column anyway because it’s in my contract. Veteran readers say chidingly that “I can always tell when you didn’t write the column,” as though I have this large staff of bad writers who can turn out the old column when this even worse writer isn’t in the mood. Seriously, friends, hack writers like us are not allowed to have moods. It’s not in the job description. At deadline time, “don’t get it right, get it written,” as the boozy old reporters used to say.

As I near the twilight of a lackluster career, I can say without dissembling more than usual that I’m proud to be a columnist, no matter what my batting average. As a baseball manager might put it, “He’s a feisty little guy who can play hurt and put out 100 percent every day.” Yeah, but 100 percent of what? Well, 100 percent of stuff to fit the space, all the way down to the bottom of the page. Sure, I make errors because I’m a feisty little guy who goes after every ball. Like fertilizer, I cover a lot of ground. Sure, I may be one step slower but (that’s enough baseball metaphors — Ed.).

It used to be that becoming a daily columnist meant you’d reached the pinnacle of success in starting as a copy boy (now known as copy person or “associate”), graduating to cub reporter, doing a stint on the copy desk (to this day I admire a well-turned headline almost more than anything in the paper), covering the police beat, the state house, executions and so on. Finally, when they didn’t know what else to do with you, they gave you a column or fired you. “Kid’s got a certain style.” “Yeah, but he makes a lot of mistakes.” “That’s what I mean.”

Well, I don’t know why Labor Day turned into True Caenfessions Day, but a lot of today’s kids who start out at the top with a column owe their jobs to me. Yeah, me, old Herb, his finger flying over the keyboard of his beloved Loyal Royal and calling for copy paper from copy boys who never heard of copy paper and never saw a carbon copy. I said “finger” because I still type with my right index finger and two on the left hand and turn out sloppy copy.

Once upon a time there were only a few columns in this town, so when I defected to the rival morning paper, a goodly group of readers defected also. Upon my return eight years later, the publisher assured me, “That’ll never happen again. One columnist won’t ever make that much difference in circulation. I’m loading this paper with columnists and if one leaves, who’ll care?” That’s why the old Chron was eventually described as having “more columns than a Greek temple.” Some of them are quite terrific, too.

If you’re still with me, Happy Labor Day. I used to put the knock on this holiday as sounding not very festive, but it’s better than no holiday at all. The good thing is that you don’t really have to do anything special about Labor Day. It doesn’t call for a certain kind of food or costume, gifts or rituals. It’s just a plain old day off for people who work every day. Well, most of ’em, anyway.

* * *

RANCH FIRE UPDATE, Sept 1, 2018: Steady progress is being made in the final suppression operations of the Ranch Fire. The fire is now 97 percent contained, still at 410,000 acres. The last section of uncontained fireline remains west of Stonyford within the forest boundary. On Sunday, firefighters will monitor interior burning, extinguish hot spots and pull excess hose and equipment off firelines. Fire crews have completed 364 miles of suppression repair, primarily on the west and north sides of the fire. Around 670 miles of fireline have been identified for suppression repair, though this number is expected to increase as more repair needs are reported. Suppression repair is complete on the River Fire.

Firefighters receive the morning briefing at the Incident Command Post in Ukiah. (Click to enlarge)

* * *

* * *

MENDOCINO REDWOOD COMPANY, Mendocino County’s largest land owner, continues its fight to avoid paying the same special tax residents pay within the Albion Little River Fire Protection District. Judge Reimenschneider has directed Mendocino Redwood Company to draft a Statement of Decision finding MRC’s parcels are by statute not within the District. These are the parcels colored red in the attached district map.

(Click to enlarge)

Albion fire has provided service to MRC’s parcels over the years in response to dispatch requests from CalFire — lightning complex fires, medical aids, etcetera. Under this ruling, the district will receive $0 per year from Mendocino Redwood Company. This goes against an earlier statement from MRC’s Vice President, video link attached.

If this ruling stands, it furthers an inequity in public policy, taxing small property owners while allowing the largest to remain exempt. Albion-Little River Fire Department is expected to suppress and prevent the spread of fire within the district boundaries, but without financial contribution from the parcels in red, as if “commercial” forestland is not flammable. (Forest land not commercially operated remains taxed.)

At trial, MRC was able to secure a witness from the State of California, which they argued to qualify as an expert witness in fire rules and regulations. Some of his answers were peculiar:

Q: Do you know if CAL FIRE provides emergency rescue services or medical services to the local districts?

A: To the local districts?

Q: To a local fire district. Does CAL FIRE — I'll repeat it. Does CAL FIRE provide any emergency rescue services or medical services within the local fire district?

A: I believe the answer would be yes, based on the nearest available resource. I'm not sure I fully understand your question.

Q: Does CAL FIRE maintain ambulances?

A: We do.

Q: And are they made available every time there is an emergency dispatch in a local fire district?

A: I believe so.

(via Kathy Wylie & MendocinoSportsPlus)

* * *


On Sept. 2, 2018, at about 6:30 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the area of Bell Springs Road, near the Alderpoint Road junction, for the report of a deceased male subject found on the roadway.

The deceased male appears to have been in his 50’s. His identity has not been confirmed at this time.

This death has been determined suspicious and is under investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division.

This is an ongoing investigation. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office anticipates more information to be released following the completion of the decedent’s autopsy. An autopsy date is in the process of being scheduled.

Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office

* * *

THAT LOG TRUCK that plummeted off Highway 128 Friday morning about 9:30 resulted in the death of its driver, tentatively identified only as a 55-year-old resident of Fort Bragg. The driver is believed to have jumped from the truck as it went over the side only to be crushed by its trailer as it plunged some 75 feet. The Anderson Valley Fire Department and ambulance, as well as the CalStar 4 air ambulance and Cloverdale Fire were dispatched to the scene. The fatally injured driver was transported to an air ambulance landing zone established at Highway 128 and Mountain House Road when, just before the air ambulance lifted off with him, he was pronounced dead. The accident remains under investigation.

* * *


Time is moving fast and the fair is just around the corner!

Some important information:

This is your big opportunity to dress up or not, and have some fun in the Parade! Get your kids, friends, grandkids, club or neighbors and make a float, get out your bikes, wagons or be a pooper scooper and come on down to the parade. You have until Thursday September 13 to sign up for the parade on Sunday 9/16, either online at or bring/mail the form from the website to the fair office. The theme is A-Love-A-FAIR! Just think of all the great parade entries you can come up with about that!

Ted Williams, running for the 5th district supervisor, will be at the fair and would like to speak to constituents. Come find him around the Ag Building by the Apple Tasting booth.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the newest addition to the fair activities is the FREAKY FRUIT and THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY!

(Click to enlarge)

You can bring your extraordinary produce in (without having had to register back in August!) from Thursday 9/13  until Sunday 9/16 by noon to enter and possibly win a $100 prize for each category. The Judging will be done by the audience present so even if you don't enter, be sure to come to the rear of the Ag building at 1:30 on Sunday to clap and holler for your favorite fruits and veggies! Don't forget Fair Time is Fun Time, but only if you show up and make it so!

Donna Pierson-Pugh

* * *


JAMES ROSSICH played basketball for the Panthers in Boonville during the 1987-88 school year. He's trying to find the newspaper clips of his court triumphs to show his kids that their old man could play some. If you can help him out with the corroboration he seeks, please contact Mr. R via his email:

AMONG ROSSICH'S TEAMMATES on the '87-88 team were Mike Jones, Willie Housley, Tony Sanchez, Kevin Lee, Tobias Peckner, Antonio Soto, Chato Mendoza, James Thomasson, and I know I'm leaving some people out. Charlie Hiatt was the coach. The Panthers were undefeated until they encountered just about the last competitive basketball team to come out of Covelo, and despite 35 points from Sanchez, only a freshman, and some fierce boards by Mr. Rossich, the Panthers fell for the first time that season.

OUR ON-LINE archive, the stuff we can fairly easily retrieve, began about 2008. The paper-paper, our version beginning in January of 1984, is stashed at several universities, the closest being UC Davis. So 1987-88 requires some hand-dug archeology, but we don't have the necessary labor, Mr. Rossich. We're hoping to get all the papers scanned for us, but at the moment we don't have the dough for this expensive techno-feat. We think it's beyond obvious that even in the county where history starts all over again every day, without the ava there will be a huge hole in the true history of this odd jurisdiction.

* * *

DO NOT GO GENTLY DEPARTMENT. Tommy Wayne Kramer enlivens the Daily Journal's pages only on Sunday, but he's always a must read. Cuts right through the mendo-mawk characteristic of this area's published prose except, of course, for comment lines, but there you've got to wade through miles of psychosis to get the occasional interesting observation. Anyway, Sunday morning, TWK's thoughts turned to the inevitable, the dread day you no longer recognize your mate and NPR seems reasonable. You want to finish out your days in some medical gulag, bars on the windows, pureed hot dogs three meals a day? Kramer is thinking about it. He's at the age where the end is within shouting distance. So am I. I sometimes wake with a start because I think the Reaper is crouched at the end of the bed, grinning and chuckling at me, "Hey, sucker, walk all you like, and wear yourself out with the push-ups, but gitchee gitchee goo, you're a goner."


LISTEN UP Y’ALL!! I don’t want to get shuffled off into some warehouse either, which is why I’ve instructed my kids to strap a 36-ounce fentanyl patch to my forehead when I get too old to tie my shoes, zip my trousers or sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” But worse than an old folks home would be coming through the back door of one of my kid’s houses. Everyone would hate that, starting with me. Isn’t every old person’s Number One fear being a burden to the children? Or do you want your children to grind up their lives so they’re always available to make you another bowl of Campbell’s pea soup and change your undies every half hour? We’re lucky to have easily available full-time care, including round-the-clock doctors and nurses, to watch over vulnerable elders. Not many societies can afford it. Putting gramps on an ice floe like Eskimos do (and polar beds appreciate) is not exactly an improvement. You can always go visit granny five times a week, you know. I don’t want a basement converted into a “temporary” bedroom and I don’t want grandkids remembering grandpa as a grumbly old guy who made the couch smell funny and left his teeth on the kitchen sink and didn’t know how to tell time and only watched the stupid weather channel.

* * *

PROBABLY in the minority here, but in times like these we're all in one kind of minority or other anyway. But when Kissinger came to the podium to extol John McCain I thought, "Well, Satan must have been unavailable." Then, as the camera panned an audience that included Bush, Cheney, Joe Lieberman, Bill and Hillary, and Christ only knows how many other long distance killers and corporate bagmen, Beelzebub had clearly organized the service. The prior McCain affair narrowly missed being flat out vulgar. Exiting with Sinatra singing My Way? Nobody does it solo, least of all a Navy prince like him. I admired McCain's courage while a captive, but that's all I admired about him.

* * *

HEALDSBURG HIGH SCHOOL has canceled the rest of its varsity football season, although the school's jv team will soldier on. The on-line comments were heavily of this variety: "Healdsburg has fostered a culture of snowflake wieners." And, "Sounds like it. My immediate thought was that the kids were just a bunch of quitters, but perhaps this is also some poor parenting. That said, I am also curious why the coach scheduled early non-league games against powerful teams when he knew his team was very thin on numbers."

READING between the lines, it seems that Healdsburg only had five or six kids who could play at a competitive level, meaning a team mostly of uninspired, not particularly athletic youngsters who saw that the season before them amounted to weekly pummelings by kids bigger, faster, stronger. While dad was probably all for his kid playing the game, mom was probably less enthusiastic, especially given the deluge of information about the risk of brain damage from contact sports, which isn't to mention the psychic brain damage the sedentary kid sustains on a daily basis via his array of electronic past times. Football itself is probably doomed at the high school level, but until it is how about all the physically exuberant kids, the kids who love testing themselves in a controlled arena to see what their physical limits might be? Without the thrill of football, and it is definitely thrilling in ways no other sport is, we'll have a lot of high school boys out on weekend nights finding excitement where they will.

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Not easy to live with Doomers, I can tell you that. You oughta hear the groans and curses on Saturday mornings when Scott Simon comes on NPR. You can hear the death threats clear out to the Coast. Not from me, though. I keep a smile on my face and a song in my heart!”

* * *

NORM DE VALL WRITES: CalTrans is obviously planning to replace the Albion Bridge. The Coastal Commission will hear their application to remove trees, and bore holes to bed rock on both sides of the existing bridge. Please visit the Commission Agenda, read the staff report and be at the meeting at Fort Bragg's Town Hall on 9-12-18

* * *

CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION: Wednesday, 9-12 at 9am at Town Hall, F.B. will decide what will happen at the mill site.

Thank you Norman de Vall for bringing this important meeting to everyone's  attention. I would like to echo what Norman determined after reading  between the lines of Caltrans' permit application. This application is  for a Categorical Exemption/Categorical Exclusion Permit (not a  Mitigated Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report).  The Town Hall is located at 363 N. Main Street. If the Town Hall is full the City Hall Gymnasium has overflow seating  available (not for people that are hard of hearing, comments can only be  made from Town Hall. Map of locations and parking at

The CA. Coastal Commission (CCC) meeting starts at 9am, you need to be  there beforehand to get a seat, fill out a form to speak (2-3 min.) or  fill out a form and give someone else your time. If you want to speak  about an issue not on the agenda you can do so (2-3 min.) during the  Public Comment period at 9:00am for items not on the agenda.

Item #10a: The Coastal Commission will hear Caltrans' Application to  conduct a geotechnical investigation to rehabilitate/replace the last  timber trestle bridge on CA's highway system, the historic Albion River  Bridge. It will involve drilling of up to nine 70-125 ft. deep bore  holes within 6 specified sites (very noisy); removal of major vegetation  (about 120 eucalyptus trees, some are holding the steep hill side  together) and grading. The noisy helicopters will take off, land and  refuel at the Little River Airport; will deliver steel platforms, drill  rigs, equipment, supplies and personnel to 5 Drill Sites (drilling  itself is a noisy activity) and at times hover over the drill sites or  over the ocean. Caltrans will construct temporary access routes to  boring sites, do seismic refraction surveys, and replant cleared areas  (see pictures) adjacent to Highway 1 on both sides of the Albion River  Bridge. In addition traffic on the Albion River Bridge will be stopped  whenever a helicopter will need to access any of the sites (up to 30  min. at a time).

For more info see You can make comments online until Sept. 5 at 5 pm. by clicking Submit Comment under # 10a Coastal Permit Applications Application No. 1-16-0899 (California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Mendocino Co.) You can access the staff report at: The exhibits are at:

Item #7: During the North Coast District Director’s Report the Director  will give Caltrans a de minimis waiver from Coastal Development Permit  requirements to spread rock over the lead containing sandblast waste  that surrounds Salmon Creek Bridge (it will later be dealt with properly  with the help of the Department of Toxic Substances Control) and  Caltrans will place a gate next to a residence to temporarily contain  the toxins.

The Salmon Creek Bridge is also slated for replacement and Caltrans just  sent out an invitation for the public to attend a scoping meeting in  preparation of the Environmental Impact Report on 9-11, 6-8pm at the new  Albion School at 30400 Albion Ridge Road to give input for the  Environmental Impact Report. For more info call Liza Walker at  707-441-5602 or e-mail <> Written comments are  accepted until October 5.

Item #9a attendees will be briefed by CCC and the City of Fort Bragg  about the Mill Site comprehensive planning efforts for redevelopment of  the approx. 400 acre former Georgia Pacific mill site, along the Pacific  Ocean, west of Highway One.

Item #9b City of Fort Bragg Local Coastal Plan (LCP) Amendment No.  LCP-1-FTB-17-0077-1 (Mill Site Planning Process) submit comments online  and click on link for more info.

Item #9f City of Fort Bragg LCP Amendment No. LCP-1-FTB-18-0031-1  (Riverview Building LLC) submit comments online and click on link for  more info.

Item #11 Permit Amendment Permit No. A-1-MEN-07-28-A6 (Jackson-Grube Family, Inc.) to amend permit  granted for development of inn to (1) convert ranch manager’s residence  and associated guest cottage into an innkeeper’s residence with two  full-time inn units, (2) convert existing Innkeeper’s residence, office  and part-time inn unit into two full-time inn units with Innkeeper  office and kitchen remaining, and (3) add three parking spaces adjacent  to the existing ranch manager’s residence at the Inn at Newport Ranch,  31502 North Highway 1, north of Fort Bragg. Submit comments online and  click on link for more info.

Show up and comment in person and online. This is democracy in action.

Annemarie Weibel

* * *


Mendo Hometowns A Little Guy Logger

by Mark Scaramella (October 2001)

On September 5th, the Mendocino County DA’s office issued this press release called: “Timber Operator Convicted of Violating Forest Practice Rules.”

“On August 31, 2001, Licensed Timber Operator CURTIS JOHNSON, of Tri-Tower Logging Company, was found guilty, pursuant to a plea of no contest, to two counts relating to forest practices. The first count was a violation of California Forest Practice Rule 1035.3(d) for failure to comply with a timber harvest plan requiring that the spoils of a bench cut be hauled away. The second count was a violation of Public Resource Code section 4601 for willfully failing to deposit and stabilize excess material from road construction so as prevent [sic] adverse effects to downstream beneficial uses of water. The violations took place in 2000.

“Judge Ron Brown sentenced Mr. Johnson to $2,000 in fines and 30 days in jail as a condition of 24 months summary probation, but allowed Mr. Johnson, who currently lives in Oregon, to do 240 hours of community service in lieu of jail because work release options are no longer transferable by Mendocino County to other states. Judge Brown also ordered Mr. Johnson to pay restitution to Ralph Bean Logging for corrective work in an amount not to exceed $6,333.50.

“The violations were brought to the attention of CDF by Henry Alden, the Forest Manager of Gualala Redwoods, which owned the property where the timber operations took place. They were investigated by CDF Division Chief-Forest Practice, James Purcell, and by CDF Foresters Mike McCay and Pam Lindsted.

“ ‘I would like to commend Mr. Alden and the CDF personnel,” said District Attorney Norm Vroman, ‘for their fine work in investigating the case and obtaining prompt corrective action. Had they not acted promptly, there could have been serious environmental impacts. I would also like to put future violators on notice that our office will seek hard jail time for every conviction of the forest practice rules.’

“Case Name: People v. Curtis Clay Johnson. Case Number: MCUK-CRNT-01-42911-02.”

* * *

The Gualala-based Independent Coast Observer was the only County newspaper to pick up the DA’s press release, running it verbatim as an unbylined front page story in the September 9 issue under the title: “Logger fined and jailed for breaking forestry rules.”

The DA’s press release makes it clear that no one was jailed.

* * *

The case against Johnson, a gyppo logger from Oregon, was originally filed by Barry Vogel, the District Attorney’s former “Chief, Civil Division,” a position that was eliminated a few months ago. DA Norm Vroman said that because Vogel’s one-man division wasn’t a mandated function of the DA's office, the DA's chronically tight budget required its elimination. Vogel was originally appointed to the job on the assumption that fines resulting from Vogel's civil prosecutions would return enough money to the DA's office to fund Vogel's position. Vogel fined the occasional log truck driver for crimes like leaking too much oil but, and as per ancient Mendocino County practice, he did very little as a public employee other than draw his $80 thou salary and lobby for an appointment to the superior court seat recently vacated by Judge Conrad Cox.

In almost two years Vogel’s vaunted civil division had little to show for itself: Vogel discovered a drug store chain that was too slow in removing past-date vitamins from the shelves. Via a blizzard of indignant press releases, Vogel threatened to pursue Hawthorne Timber Co. (formerly GP) for refusing to provide crucial (and mandated) harvest and inventory lists to the County without taking action against Hawthorne. As always at one with a County legal contingent that trembles at the very thought of taking on the more formidable concentrations of power, Vogel valiantly issued a press release warning consumers to beware of the expiration dates on gift certificates. He successfully prosecuted a gyppo logger for a minor violation on a 14-acre timber harvest.

As he folded his failed civil division, DA Vroman told KZYX that Vogel had done some work against unnamed criminally inclined individuals that Vroman said was preventive in nature.

Courthouse gossip quotes DA Vroman as saying that Vogel has been his biggest mistake in office.

* * *

So what did Curtis Johnson, the Oregon logger, do to get himself prosecuted by Mendocino County's Javert of due dates?

Being from Oregon helped, as did being a small business person unlikely to have the resources to defend himself.

Officially, however, “This enforcement action was based on the licensed timber operator’s repetition of Forest Practice rule violations,” explained Mike McCay, a Boonville-based California Department of Forestry staffer and one of three CDF persons who cited Johnson. McCay said that the violations had “no significant environmental impacts,” but that there may have been some had they not been corrected prior to the winter rains.

“Our policy is to take legal action if there’s significant impact or if there’s repetition,” said McCay. “In this case, he [Johnson] violated the forest practice rules on three separate occasions over a relatively short period of time, and on three timber harvest plans.”

True, as the plot thickened.

McCay explained that two of the violations were discovered by the Resource Manager for Gualala Redwoods, Henry Alden, a fact mentioned in the DA’s press release.

“Mr. Alden notified our department that he found violations on his land,” McCay said. Having been alerted by Johnson's boss that Johnson had violated the rules, CDF drove to Gualala and recorded the violations. A third violation had been noticed by CDF forester Jim Purcell as Purcell conducted a post-logging inspection of another Gualala Redwoods logging job.

Alden, the resource manager for Gualala Redwoods, apparently hadn't noted the violations directly to Johnson, although he was often seen at the site where Johnson and his crew were working.

“There were three violations over a relatively short period of time,” said McCay, “so we took legal action.”

McCay said that by the time he saw the earliest violation it had already been “mitigated,” and the second and third violations (Count 2) were in the process of mitigation when he was on site.

“These are subjective judgment calls,” McCay concedes. “But it’s still a crime even if you fix a violation of the Forest Practice rules. We routinely issue at least an administrative action.”

McCay said that timber operators receive inspection statements for violations of the forest practice rules from CDF specifying what correction or mitigation is needed.

“If the violation is there, and he’s working to fix it, it’s still a violation,” McCay pointed out. “If he fixes it the next day, we’ll still record a violation. Each one is a crime. And we take legal action at a certain point. The rules are so complex that our operators get a lot of violations. It can be for little things too.”

McCay said that in cases like Johnson’s, repetition is what makes a violation rise to a chargeable crime. “You only get so many chances,” said McCay. “It’s at our discretion. We’re reasonable about it.”

McCay said that Johnson’s failure to haul out the dirt that had been pushed off a logging road where it would eventually find its way to a stream presented “a potential for significant impacts” if it wasn't corrected.

“He walked away from them,” said McCay. “And he had to fix them. If you push road construction dirt over a steep slope and it’s sitting there and the plan called for it not to be put there, and then the rains come and push it down in the creek, that would be very bad for the watercourse and the fish,” McCay elaborated. “When we arrived the dirt had not yet been removed. We observed the violations without corrective action being taken and so we required it. In the first case, the THP said he was supposed to haul the dirt away in a dump truck. He didn’t. He pushed it over the side, because it was easier… One of the piles had been mitigated when we got there and one of them had not been. The third (earlier) violation was observed by Mr. Purcell and a state geologist was called in to specify how it had to be mitigated.”

And it was mitigated.

* * *

But is failure to prevent dirt from going into the creek the sort of crime which can send a logger to jail?

“Jail is a sentence that is established by the legislature in the Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act for violations of the forest practice rules,” explained Deputy DA Tim Stoen who has assumed responsibility for unresolved cases left over from Vogel’s disbanded Civil Division, “so it would have been six months in jail on each of the counts if we really wanted to be draconian. We have to send a message to people who harm our environment that we’re not going to slap them on the wrist anymore.”

“If there’s willful intent to avoid the rules, it’s a crime,” insists Stoen, former County Counsel, former attorney for the infamous Jim Jones, former County Republican Central Committee member and a former supervisorial candidate who ran on a platform of green capitalism. “If he’s a scofflaw or looks like he was just purposely trying to bend the rules then we’re going to take it seriously. And this was a willful act.”

Stoen went on to explain that Johnson’s failure to haul out the dirt from above a stream bed had required that another logging outfit had to be hired to remove it at a cost of $6,333.50, hence the rather specific amount of gyppo Johnson's fine.

Stoen also explained that since Johnson faced jail and had hired a defense attorney and still pleaded guilty that that indicated that the DA had a good case.

“Mr. Johnson chose not to fight this,” said Stoen. “That should indicate to you that there was a good faith basis for Mr. Vogel having made that charge.”

“The impact of this crime on the community at large and on the fish is so great that we had to seek jail time,” insisted Stoen. “When a timber company hires [a gyppo] they expect them to follow the law. And he didn’t. And these were clear plans with clear instructions. So we didn’t feel bad asking for jail time. Mr. Johnson got a break because he lives in Oregon. If he lived here he’d be hearing the clang of a cell door.”

Stoen says he’s not aware of a landowner ever being charged with criminal violations of environmental rules.

Licensed timber operators or gyppos, the small, independent contractors who are hired by landowners and mill owners to cut down trees on a lowest-bid-gets-it basis know, however, that they're perennially caught between the bureaucratic hard place of complicated forest practice rules and the big boys who hire them, and when push comes to shove, it is the little guy gyppo who's left to fend for himself.

* * *

Curtis Johnson’s logging company, Tri-Tower Logging, is based in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.

“My attorney wanted me to fight the charge,” said Johnson recently. “He said we could beat it hands down. But I live way up here in Oregon. It’s a ten-hour drive each way to Ukiah. When I got the initial notice from Mr. Vogel we discussed how to handle it. I sent Vogel some information explaining the situation. I put everything in writing. If you read the original paperwork I turned in it says that everything was mitigated above and beyond the requirements. I said, Yeah — it happened. But it was mitigated and I didn’t do any long term damage.

“I had a date to appear in court, but when Mr. Stoen took over for Mr. Vogel he told me I had to appear earlier or he’d file a warrant for my arrest! I told him I’d done everything they wanted so far and what was the problem? — but it didn’t satisfy him. So I went down there when he told me to appear, but when I got there the first time I wasn’t even on the court calendar. I wasted a whole trip down there for nothing. I came down again three days later when the date got straightened out.”

“The first judge I had,” continued Johnson, “he looked at the charges, and he started laughing. I don’t remember his name. He was white haired. Tall. Good looking, Big. Very big. An older guy. Maybe he was a retired judge. He was very smart. You could tell he’d been around. He had some common sense. He looked at the papers and started laughing. He said, ‘I don’t think this is going to last long.’ He asked me, ‘So this is all mitigated?’ I said, Yeah. And he looks around… but guess what? Mr. Stoen wasn’t there. It was a younger guy, a Mr. Davenport I think. Mr. Davenport said that nothing could be done because the DA’s office wasn’t properly represented. All he said was that Mr. Stoen was handling it. So it had to be put off again.”

Curtis Johnson made yet another trip for his first real hearing. This time Stoen was present, but the white-haired judge was gone and Johnson was facing Judge Ron Brown.

“When the hearing began I wanted to represent myself,” said Johnson, “I knew I could beat it, because I knew all the particulars. But Judge Brown said I couldn’t even represent myself! The judge told me that I didn’t know the in pro per (self-representation) law. I told him that I don’t need to know the law to explain what happened. All I need is some common sense and my mouth. But the judge said, ‘That’ll be enough of that in this courtroom — we’ll find somebody to represent you’.”

Ukiah defense attorney Richard Petersen happened to be in the courtroom at the time and saw Johnson’s frustrating encounter with Judge Brown. He approached Johnson and offered to take the case and Johnson, seeing no alternative, accepted. “I was pretty damn mad at that point,” admits Johnson.

More weeks went by. Johnson, by now an Oregon-California commuter, made more expensive trips to Ukiah. Paper was exchanged between him and the Mendocino County DA's office, and more delays from Mendocino County's heedless judges.

When it came time for CDF to testify about the violations at a subsequent hearing only Mr. Purcell showed up.

“Mr. Purcell only saw the one [earlier] violation which had been fixed to CDF’s satisfaction. So I asked Mr. Purcell, ‘Why are you wasting your time here? What are you doing here?’ And Mr. Stoen looks at him, and Mr. Purcell didn’t say anything, and then Mr. Stoen says, ‘I think 30 days in jail is appropriate for Mr. Johnson.’ And Justin Petersen, who was representing me that day because his dad was in another trial, says, ‘Do you realize that my client has never been in jail?’ And Mr. Stoen says, ‘He hasn’t?’ And Justin goes, ‘No.’ Then Mr. Stoen says that Henry Alden told him that I’m a bad guy! And I’m going, What in the hell? Why don’t you give me a chance to answer that? Call me, and talk to me before you buy that kind of thing. You gotta call Henry, of course, but call me and ask me about myself.”

What bothers Johnson is the casual manner CDF and the DA went about making the decision to charge him and then to recommend jail for violations Johnson had repaired. Then, to learn that the CDF-DA pincers had been clasped on the basis of remarks made by Johnson's boss who had not appeared in court… Well, only in Mendocino County.

“They based this punishment on the frequency, the repetition,” explains Johnson. “You take that first one, the older one, away and look at the other two — they’re minute, hardly worth talking about. And they were being mitigated the day CDF told me they were going to write me up. And they agreed to the mitigation — CDF said I fixed it and that it was done right. They said the two violations that they went to look at that were reported by Mr. Alden were fixed or being fixed. On the first of those two, the only thing they suggested we do was put a couple of bails of hay at the bottom of this one ravine. And that was it! Anybody could have done that.”

Johnson soon realized that fighting the case would require too much time away from his Oregon-based logging operation.

“Time is really tough for me right now. I’ve got jobs I have to do up here in Oregon. I don’t have time to keep fighting in court in Ukiah. I’ve never dealt with anything so stupid in my life. I was so upset.”

Johnson says he finally decided to plead no contest if the court would let him do his 240 hours of community service in Oregon to avoid the Oregon-to-Ukiah commute.

Ukiah attorney Justin Petersen explains that “legally, a no contest plea means you’re not contesting your guilt or innocence but you’re letting the judge punish you as if you’re guilty so you can resolve the matter. It was a technical violation — he did at least some of these things they accuse him of. The question is: how serious an act was it? And I don’t happen to think it was very serious. The things were corrected immediately. And no actual harm was done. They just want to put the most law enforcement-oriented spin on it that they can.”

Johnson disputes that he owes anyone $6,333.50.

“They tabled that part,” he said, referring to the amount of restitution mentioned in the DA’s press release. “We explained to the judge that I don’t owe it and I’m not going to pay it.”

Judge Brown asked for a confirming letter. Johnson said he would ask Mr. Alden to provide it.

“Mr. Stoen told the judge that Mr. Alden thinks I’m not a reliable guy. I’m standing there and I’m goin’ ‘What in the hell? Call Henry! Call the 40 other mills I’ve worked for. I’m highly recommended’.”

* * *

So if the older violation was mitigated to CDF’s satisfaction and the second and third were minor, how did this situation become an environmental crime subject to jail time?

Johnson has a simple answer: “Two words — Henry Alden.”

“I told him about the things in the first place, and that I had to come back and fix them! I told him what we were doing. They aren't turned in if we fix them. But Henry ran down and turned it in. When CDF got there one was fixed and the other was being fixed. But that’s still a violation. Mr. Petersen told me these were ‘technical violations.’ And that’s why I plead No Contest — I couldn’t dispute that they were technical violations. But I never pled guilty.”

Johnson says his problems in Mendocino County began when Henry Alden took over as Resource Manager for Gualala Redwoods.

“Mr. Alden took over for Ollie Edmunds [the wealthy New Orleans physician who owns Gualala Redwoods’ 28,000 acres] over there and immediately started acting like everybody was against him,” says Johnson.

“I admit I told Henry things he didn’t like,” Johnson laughs. “I once said to him, ‘I bet you have your own kids punching time cards whenever they have a meal at your house, and if they have too many meals you charge them.’ I guess he didn’t like my joke about his penny-pinching. But I don’t mind that, all I ask is that he honor my contract.

“Mr. Alden took over the job of vice president of Gualala Redwoods a couple years ago, and he didn’t want anybody to deal directly with Ollie Edmunds, the owner. He wanted to be the boss. And I did everything he said. I never, ever, ever did anything that would imply he wasn’t the boss. I did everything he asked of me.

“But I did know Mr. Edmunds from way back. In fact, on these last two plans Mr. Edmunds specifically asked me if I’d come down and work them while they were being prepared — that was a couple years before Mr. Alden got there. Then Mr. Alden got there and they started really upping the logging rates. And they started the broadcast burning from the air.” [Dropping napalm from helicopters on huge swaths of forest to control regrowth of non-merchantable trees.]

“And I’m the criminal,” exclaims Johnson. “Can you believe that? I was so mad, in fact I was so upset the last day I was there in court that I had to admit something like that. The judge asked me and I just stood there and I looked at the judge and then at Justin [Petersen]. And Justin said, ‘Come on, Curt.’ And I said, ‘I’m having a real hard time signing this. Because I am not this way! My record’s clean. I have no prior complaints, much less convictions. This is the first one! No complaints, never. In seven years of work in California.’ I told them if three times is frequent, they should put these over seven years… but nothing. No response.”

Johnson points out that Oregon handles log road regulation a lot more sensibly than California does.

“The good thing about California is that the road work is all laid out,” says Johnson, “so there’s no doubt about what to do. But in Oregon, you just call the Oregon State Forestry Department and they come down and inspect on the spot. Oregon’s roads are better because they have to rock every road. If you have to use the road in the winter, they’re already rocked and stable. And watercourses are all culverted. In California they have all these dirt roads, and all these rules, but they side cast the water barring and it drives me crazy! There’s no reason for that. Just rock the roads! Make the timber owners go to the initial expense of rocking the roads, and then the roads are dependable and stable and you don’t have any slough. And you don’t have the water run-off problem or the silt. And Gualala Redwoods even has their own rock!”

And what’s the story behind the restitution penalty, money that would go to Johnson's replacement, a South Coast gyppo named Bean?

“It’s bullshit,” Johnson's attorney Justin Petersen says so emphatically that bullshit can be understood to apply to the entire case against the Oregon logger. “What happened here is that Mr. Johnson was doing this THP and he got into some kind of beef with Mr. Alden and Mr. Bean, and Mr. Bean somehow took over the THP and apparently Mr. Alden and Mr. Bean absolutely hate Mr. Johnson for reasons I never understood. Mr. Alden has some kind of problem with Mr. Johnson which goes back before this event.”

Curtis Johnson elaborated further.

“This is the best part of this whole story!,” explains an exasperated Johnson. “Ralph Bean was going broke, and I wasn’t getting along with Henry at that point. And I said, Henry, just be a man and put your balls up and tell me — those were my exact words — I said, You don’t want me here, do you? He goes, ‘I’d prefer you not.’ I said, OK, that’s fine. I’ll leave.

“Now remember, I’ve probably done 12 jobs for Gualala Redwoods in the last seven years, and CDF was happy with all of them.

“Anyway, Ralph told me he was going broke. And I told him, I’ll let you have the rest of the Dody Ridge job because I’ve got work back in Oregon — but on one condition: that you help me mitigate these things so we can have this all finished up before I leave. Ralph has an excavator that I don’t have down here. So we used his excavator and we worked together, getting all this road stuff taken care of before CDF came to inspect. I helped him by giving him the rest of the Dody Ridge job so he wouldn’t go broke. And he’s finishing that job this year.

“The next thing I know Ralph sends me a bill for all the stuff he did to help me! I told Ralph, You gotta be joking! Ralph said that Mr. Alden told him to send me the bill. But this is their road, their job. I had nothing to do with those charges. I couldn’t believe it!”

The claims of who owes who money for what are civil matters, not criminal.

“I couldn’t figure it out,” said Johnson, who thought he was merely trying to help a fellow logger. “I said to the DA, What are you, a bill collector for Ralph? Me and Ralph had this worked out and he got that Dody Ridge job. I don’t even know how Ralph got involved in my court case. And Mr. Stoen said, ‘Well this comes from Henry Alden.’ … ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘ok — now I understand.’

“I did everything that was required. There was no clean up left undone before I left the job,” Johnson insists. “And, I left $15,000 there in case there was anything left to do of my own free will. So I guess I have quite a rebate coming.

“What it boils down to is that they blame us for things they do. And it’s dead wrong,” Johnson sighs.

* * *

A coastal environmentalist who asked not to be named because of pending complaints against Gualala Redwoods adds another perspective to the shaft job Gualala Redwoods got the DA's office to do on Curtis Johnson.

“What probably happened is that Curt didn’t clean up something fast enough for Henry Alden so Henry turned him in rather than take the potential CDF rap himself; he turned it back on Curt. That’s my guess. If Johnson’s working under the management and employ of Gualala Redwoods, how could they not know what Curt’s doing with their roads? Especially with all the new road rules because of the fish, and all the foresters that Gualala Redwoods has.

“There’s been a concerted effort by Gualala Redwoods and Henry Alden to get taxpayer money through the Gualala Watershed Council to fix Gualala Redwood’s own bad roads. It’s up to almost $400,000 now including Fish & Game grants and Water Quality grants and CDF grants. And he’s using the [Gualala] Watershed Council to throw holy water on his grant applications.

“Henry substantially increased the harvest rates at Gualala Redwoods when he got here. It wasn’t even-age management [successive clearcuts] before him. Now, since Henry came in from Pacific Lumber, he’s turned up the knob. We call him ‘Mr. Napalm’ and ‘Mr. Herbicide’” — referring to Gualala Redwoods’ highly criticized but ongoing practice of dropping jellied fuel on completed clearcuts from helicopters, igniting it, then dousing the resultant bare ground with herbicides — a practice that produces a lot of loose dirt that runs off into the Gualala River and its tributaries.

“Henry probably figured out that it was time to cut Curt loose, and he might as well get some PR value out of doing it. Henry sees that there are going to be even more rules pretty soon and he’s trying to get as much as he can as soon as he can, like all of them do. I heard that Henry was reportedly run out of the Sierras with a lot of environmental complaints trailing him. So of course Pacific Lumber hired him. Then he got involved in the controversial Headwaters Habitat Conservation Plan and became very frustrated by the environmental complaints about the HCP implementation and threw his hands up and ‘retired’ to Gualala Redwoods. And I’m sure he’s got an arrangement where he gets a cut out of whatever GR makes. And if they can keep their logging costs down and their cut rate up, he gets more of it.

“Henry is a real schmoozemeister with a lot of public relations savvy. It wouldn’t surprise me if he looked at the situation with Curt and tried to get the best pr value he could out of getting rid of him.

“It’s pretty easy to blame the timber operator, the guy with the license. You can threaten their license, you can sue them in civil court. They have to be bonded. Henry wouldn’t have done this unless he thought he could come out of it looking good.”

“The Gualala watershed has become the poster child of the NCWAP (North Coast Watershed Assessment Program) and the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Loads),” said the enviro, rattling off familiar acronyms. “It’s one of the most battered and hammered watersheds in the state. But since Henry got here there’s honeymooning and schmoozing and the manipulation of certain elements of the Watershed Council who are too close to being in bed with Gualala Redwoods. After pretending to go along with the Council, Henry recently denied the Regional Water Quality Control Board access to their statistical inventory analysis. That proves right there that they’re still playing by the old rules. Hiding their impacts. Playing hard ball.”

“I don’t think putting timber operators in jail for things like this is really going to help the Gualala watershed or the fish,” the South Coast informant speculated. “They all want us to think they’re tough on these things but it’s all bullshit. They let all kinds of things go all the time.”

And CDF’s apparent concern for the streams and fish?

“Well, let me put it this way: CDF has approved the conversion of hundreds of acres of prime timberland down here to grapes,” grumbled the coastal enviro. “And six more are already in the pipeline so far. And Mr. Joyner at CDF, one of the guys who’s processing the timber conversions, recently declared that permanently converting timberland to grapes is nothing but ‘crop rotation’! It’s crazy!

“Just recently 14 acres was illegally converted near Annapolis. There was a big outcry from citizens pointing out how illegal it was. Mr. Joyner at CDF finally fined them $1,000 an acre. Then the owner turned around and sold the illegally converted 14 acres at a huge markup and the $14,000 was basically CDF’s fee for helping the sale! And then, when asked if the 14 acres could be reclassified back to timberland even though it was cleared, Joyner replied, ‘It’s not in our venue anymore. It’s not timberland. It’s ag land now. The trees are gone’.”

* * *

CDF forester Mike McCay realizes that there’s unfairness in the way some of these cases are handled. And he gets around the County woods and ranch land enough to know what’s going on with the land and the creeks.

“We still have a lot of loggers who are nonchalant about the THP requirements,” says McCay. “If it says in the THP that soil is supposed to be hauled away and it’s pushed over the side, where it can surely go in the stream, and it would have gone into the stream, then we have to do something. After all, people complain about us not doing enough.”

“But when you look around the woods now,” added McCay, “you see a lot of damaged watercourses out there — buried streambeds, trees skidded down them, no shade… And those streams still haven’t recovered. And the ranchers and home-builders around here — grape growers included — they blade open their roads. They cross streams. They run around all over with heavy construction equipment and the topsoil washes down when the rains come and it’s an horrendous amount of damage. And there’s no regulation on farm land or residential land, not even a grading ordinance.”

“There should be better regulation of all the land owners,” added McCay, “not the just loggers.”

* * *

Footnote (2001)

GUALALA REDWOODS, the Louisiana-based company widely considered to be the most ruthlessly destructive timber company on the Northcoast, got its well-deserved public image as eco-thugs spiffed up last Wednesday by the Press Democrat's Carol Benfell. According to the PD's wide-eyed reporter, GR is magnanimously placing “unsalable” but fish-enhancing logs in streams on its blitzed holdings, a futile, after-the-fact attempt to delude the naive that GR is a responsible land steward. “Gualala Redwoods logs give salmon, steelhead needed shade,” read the headline, below which Benfell blithely remarked, “the community is concerned” about GR's clearcuts on steep slopes and its use of napalm (yes, napalm) and pesticides to prepare its clearcuts for re-seeding. Benfell quotes Gualala Redwoods VP Henry Alden: “All the evidence is that they [the herbicides] are very benign.”

ROD JONES, the Mendocino attorney, responded to the PD's public relations gift to Gualala Redwoods:

To the Editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

Did I miss something, or is that ‘picture’ not quite right about Gualala Redwoods, Inc.? According to your story on April 11, this clear-cutting company that sprays jellied gasoline for post-harvest site burning, followed by herbicide spraying, has now decided to ‘give salmon, steelhead needed shade.’ There was Hank Alden pictured on the front page, jumping over cull logs like a real adventurer. We apparently should applaud the company for its restoration efforts on one small tributary of the Gualala. However, the limited project was financed by a grant from state Fish and Game.

Now what I'm having trouble with is that the Department of Fish and Game is a state agency, and the money handed over to Gualala Redwoods was taken from the public by tax powers. Gualala Redwoods is chewing up trees and land and making lots of profit, but returning none of it to restoration as a condition of its state permit to cut. Instead, taxpayers pick up the tab, and Gualala Redwoods walks to the bank in Louisiana with money from Mendocino timberlands. Nice greenwash job.

— Rodney R. Jones, Mendocino

* * *


To the Editor:

The Mendocino County property that my family has owned since 1983 has a quarter-mile long high voltage branch line along our drive to reach our structures. My dog and I walk its route every morning I am there to get our copy of the local paper. The Redwood Fire last October came close enough that we had to evacuate, but we dodged the bullet. It has changed my outlook on what needs to be done to protect our homes, to protect our environment from air pollution and fire produced greenhouse gases and last but not least to keep firefighters safely in their firehouses, or if volunteers at home, etc., waiting for calls that come less often.

In the early 1980s when they built, my parents under-grounded the last 200 feet of power line, the 220 volt portion, for how it would look, not safety, reasons. Few were thinking of safety concerns then, and we were no exception. Under grounding the high voltage portion would have looked nice but was way more than my parents wanted to spend.

For years I have urged PG&E to cut more, much more, around the lines on our property. “Don’t just nip that limb, take the whole tree out. It will save in the long run.” The answer was almost always: “No, we can’t do that.” I once got them to take out half of a large Live Oak but it took many phone calls after the crew had come through to get a supervisor to come look and the crew to come back.

This year, surprise, surprise, they cut more than they ever have. Still, much more could be done. Limbs are still over our lines and nearby trees still lean at dangerous angles.

I was told by their contractor that some property owners, unlike us, even tell them to cut less not more and that PG&E has to listen if the line is on private property, as long as the minimum California State Public Utility Commission requirements are met. That needs to change. Besides themselves those property owners are endangering the whole community.

In places the lines on our property are still in a tunnel, meaning trees are directly overhead, though at a distance from the wires, meaning they won’t rub them. Falling on them is still a distinct possibility. In last October’s wind two trees came down, but not near the power lines. We have had a number of trees fall on our 17 acres over the years with no wind at all. Most were living and by all appearances healthy. The majority were oaks that appear to have gotten “over extended,” or spindley, as it were.

Once again this year, after the PG&E contractor left, we hired a tree service to cut more, and more than ever. They were here for two days but they are restricted as to how close to the lines they can work.

I saw an opinion article in another paper by former State Senator Noreen Evans urging the under-grounding of power lines as a solution to what I have described. Increasing the tree trimming and removal along the routes of rural power lines would be much cheaper than under grounding. Because of the cost, under-grounding will never happen in rural areas like most of Redwood Valley.

Unfortunately it is most often falling trees and tree limbs that are the catalyst for power line generated fires. I wish that was not so, because I would prefer to take my walks along our drive under the shade of a forest. But weighed against the danger of fire, it is a luxury worth losing. I’d also prefer to drive along roads with beautiful trees right up to the edge. But if there are power lines along the edge of that road I am willing to see that change. It would be cheap insurance against the kind of destruction we have experienced, and much cheaper than unrealizable hopes for under-grounding.

Michael Toivonen

Redwood Valley

* * *


by Sylvia E. Bartley, Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Historical Society

Gertrude Redemeyer White’s personal history interlinks with the unique Labor Day celebration in Fort Bragg called “Paul Bunyan Days.” Born April 25, 1894 in Ukiah, her mother died when Gertrude was three. On school days, Gertrude hitched up a horse and buggy, forded the Russian River, drove to a friend’s house, and then walked to school. She loved horses.

Her family drove by horse and buggy to the coast before and after the 1906 earthquake. They camped at Russian Gulch before there was a bridge, and later south of today’s Glass Beach. Her dad was good friends with the manager of the Guest House in Fort Bragg, so they visited frequently, especially during the hot inland summers.

Gertrude Redemeyer White at age 16, on Topsy. (Photo courtesy of Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Historical Society)

She graduated from the Dominican Convent School in San Rafael. At 18 she bought a 1912 Overland car and married Val White who worked for Ukiah Power and Light. By 1920, Gertrude and Val had two boys and two girls. With all the farm work in the hot climate, plus caring for four children, Gertrude’s health was suffering.

Val’s younger brother, who worked in Fort Bragg for Union Lumber Company, told Val about a position in the Camp One office at Ten Mile. Val took it and moved the family. The children attended Moss Maple School there. In 1928 the Camp One office closed. Val got a job at the California Public Service office in Fort Bragg. When Lillian was ready for high school, the family left Camp One and moved to Fort Bragg. Freddie preferred the Inglenook school, today’s Grange Hall.

The Whites moved several times and started a dairy business. They bought the old Jackson Ranch, north of Pudding Creek in 1936. Val continued working in town while Gertrude ran the dairy. In 1939, Val and Gertrude went their separate ways. Freddie helped his mother on the ranch. She never remarried.

In 1947, Gertrude rented her dairy for about a year and a half to a man who couldn’t make a go of it and quit. She discovered him selling all the cattle, about a dozen belonging to her, so she took the ranch back. She said it was a lot of work, but the lifestyle kept her healthy.

Once she could pursue her own interests, Gertrude established a riding club, taught horsemanship, and went on long trail rides, among many other activities. Part of Paul Bunyan Days started on her ranch.

Paul Bunyan Days

In 1939 Gertrude allowed the first Paul Bunyan Committee to build corrals, chutes and bleachers for a rodeo on the northeast portion of the ranch. Rodeos were held on Labor Day weekends in 1939, 1940 and 1941, were discontinued during the war, and then held on the Fourth of July for a few years. But Fort Bragg was competing with other cities for attendees on the Fourth.

In 1968, the Chamber of Commerce no longer wanted to sponsor the three-day event. Eureka wanted the Paul Bunyan theme for their parade, but Gertrude didn’t want to lose it for Fort Bragg. She and Frank Hyman volunteered to head a committee to continue Labor Day Paul Bunyan celebrations and re-organized the group as the Paul Bunyan Association. Frank and Gertrude took turns being president. She was president in 1989 when they celebrated the weekend’s 50th anniversary.

Gertrude rode in every Paul Bunyan Parade until 1981, when her old Tennessee Walker horse died. She then rode with friends in their wagons and buggies. She continued riding in every parade until she turned 90, the last years in a fire truck. In 1984, the Paul Bunyan Association named Gertrude White lifetime honorary president, having served as their primary mover, and bailing them out a few times when proceeds didn’t cover expenses. Some referred to her as Pauline Bunyan.

Gertrude died at home on her ranch in 1995, at age 101.

(Source: compilation of Gertrude’s memories and collections by Gertrude’s daughter-in-law, Eleanor Sverko. Published by her son, Fred White, in 1991.)

* * *

"Hopped Up!"

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

* * *


Two long-term and ambitious projects tied to North Coast rail operations picked up steam last week under a bill that’s now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.

* * *


* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, September 2, 2018

Ball, Curtis, Delapena

MARTIN BALL, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.

RICKIE CURTIS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

KANDI JO DELAPENA, Covelo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Dennison, Donahe, Friebe

CLORISSA DENNISON, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia.

MICHAEL DONAHE SR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

EMILY FRIEBE, Point Arena. Domestic abuse.

Griffin, Malone, Marciel

ALYSIA GRIFFIN, Willits. Domestic battery, controlled substance.

KRYSTAL MALONE, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, battery on peace officer, resisting.


Piceno, Ramos, Ray, Reynoso

SOPHIA PICENO, Talmage. Disobeying court order.

TODD RAMOS, Redwood Valley. Tresspassing, controlled substance, paraphernalia, stun gun.

JASON RAY, Lucerne/Ukiah. Domestic abuse, disorderly conduct-alcohol.

NOE REYNOSO, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, probation revocation.

Rodgers, Sonnier, Trudeau, Wagoner

JESSE RODGERS, Ukiah. Parole violation.

MARK SONNIER, Marysville/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JAMIE TRUDEAU, Fort Bragg. False ID, community supervision violation.

BRAIN WAGONER, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

* * *

A REVIEW OF ‘BIBI: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu, by Anshel Pfeffer

by Adam Shatz

“The problem with Israel,” Tony Judt wrote in the New York Review of Books in 2003, “is not – as is sometimes suggested – that it is a European ‘enclave’ in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-19th-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a ‘Jewish state’ – a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded – is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.”

Today, it is Judt’s liberal internationalist certainty that seems like an anachronism, while Israel – a “hybrid society of ancient phobias and high-tech hope, a combination of tribalism and globalism,” in the words of the journalist Anshel Pfeffer – looks increasingly like the embryo of a new world governed by atavistic fears, whose most malign symptom is the presidency of Donald Trump.

Pfeffer, a correspondent for Haaretz, has written a biography of Benjamin Netanyahu as a way of explaining today’s Israel – by no means an enviable task. Say what you will about Netanyahu’s predecessors, they had their fascination, from the monastic self-discipline of David Ben-Gurion to the gluttony of Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu comes across as a hollow figure: a “marketing man,” in the words of Max Hastings, who met him while writing a biography of his brother Jonathan.

Yet Netanyahu can hardly be avoided, or his survival skills denied. If he is not forced out of office on corruption charges before July 2019, he will be Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, overtaking Ben-Gurion. Israeli democracy, the marketing man’s brand, has fallen into terminal discredit among liberals in the West, but he has never cared what liberals think, and they have far less influence in an era of populist demagoguery. Trump, Putin, Modi, Orbán: Netanyahu could hardly be more at home in a world of nationalist strongmen. Without giving up an inch of occupied land, he has won over Sunni Arab states paralyzed by fear of Shia Iran, fed up with the Palestinians and incapable of exerting pressure on Israel.

Palestinian resistance in the West Bank has virtually come to a halt. Israeli Jews – of whom more than 600,000 live in settlements – have no reason to think about the Palestinians, unless they’re bingeing on episodes of Fauda, the Israeli TV series about the occupation. Most Israeli Jews consider the siege of Gaza, which has rendered the territory almost uninhabitable, an acceptable price to pay for “security,” even if the misery caused by the siege is precisely what heightens their insecurity.

This view is not shared by Palestinian citizens of Israel, around 20 of the population, but they are an internal pariah.

Netanyahu’s Israel embodies what Ze’ev Jabotinsky, his father’s hero, called “an iron wall of Jewish bayonets.” Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, dreamed of an Israel on both banks of the Jordan. Netanyahu has made his peace with Hashemite rule over Jordan, but in his commitment to a Greater Israel and his implacable opposition to Palestinian self-determination he remains his father’s son.

Born into a Zionist family in Warsaw in 1910, Benzion Mileikowsky settled in Jerusalem in 1924, and joined Hatzohar, the World Union of Zionist Revisionists, right-wing but secular Zionists deeply influenced by blood-and-soil nationalism, and adopted his father’s pen name, “Netanyahu,” “given by god.” He became a student of the Spanish Inquisition, advancing the pitiless thesis that, rather than die for their faith, the conversos had embraced the Church out of ambition.

* * *

Palestinians pay a steep price for resisting the occupation, whether violently or non-violently. The Israeli military calls this “mowing the lawn.” Pfeffer describes Netanyahu as “the prime minister with the lowest casualty rates in Israel’s history,” but he is only counting Israeli bodies. In the 2014 Gaza war alone, more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, two-thirds of them civilians, while Israel’s death toll stood at 64 soldiers and six civilians. Netanyahu’s response has been to accuse Hamas of using “telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.” Most Israelis share this view. In 2016 in Hebron, during the short-lived “knife intifada,” Sergeant Elor Azaria was filmed executing a wounded suspect called Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. He had been lying on the ground for ten minutes when Azaria shot him. Azaria was condemned by Netanyahu’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, but when most Israelis seemed to be rallying to his defense, Netanyahu changed his tune, making a sympathy call to the killer’s family. After nine months in prison, Azaria walked free.

* * *


* * *


I think that the most epic “bad faith” was the presentation of the “globalist” paradigm as one being generally beneficial to all classes of society as opposed to one that favored a narrow slice of the populace.

Part of the globalist agenda, the free movement of people, was an idea that was portrayed by its instigators as enlightened, moral, tolerant of varying cultures and mores, but in reality was intended to drive down the wages of American and western European workers. In the US it was the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce in its ruthless drive for profit and of the Democratic Party it its quest to win office.

If delusion is characteristic of this particular era in politics, intellectual dishonesty goes hand-in-hand. The dishonesty is in portraying people immigrating illegally as having equal standing with those immigrating legally. It’s not complicated, it’s just another ploy by the Chamber of Commerce and its ally the Democratic Party to push down wages.

If you want to know about Brexit and its reasons, and the upsurge of nationalist parties in Europe in general, look at policies that benefited privileged classes to the detriment of working people. It’s nothing more complicated than that, the difficulty of finding good paying work, the difficulty of finding reasonably priced accommodation, these difficulties exacerbated by the influx of folk from still poorer places.

* * *


Microwave Weapons Are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers

* * *


"The U.S. economy crashes when it becomes too top heavy because the economy depends on consumer spending to keep it going, yet the rich don’t spend nearly as much of their income as the middle class and the poor. For a time, the middle class and poor can keep the economy going nonetheless by borrowing. But, as in 1929 and 2008, debt bubbles eventually burst. We’re getting dangerously close. By the first quarter of this year, household debt was at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion. Almost 80 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. In a recent Federal Reserve survey, 40 percent of Americans said they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills if faced with a $400 emergency. " - Robert Reich

* * *

* * *


The death of local news: Newspapers have lost half their readership since 1998. The watchdogs of America’s local and state governments are disappearing. Can they be saved?

(from The Week newsweekly magazine, 9/7/18, pg 11)

What’s the state of local news? It’s a shell of its former self. The weekday circulation of US newspapers has been in steady decline since 1998, when it was 62.7 million. Today their print and digital circulation combined reaches only about 31 million, according to the Pew Research Center. Fewer readers means less subscription revenue, but it’s the crash in advertising revenue that’s been most painful. Newspapers’ ad revenue plummeted from $48 billion in 2000 to $16.5 billion in 2017. Local newspapers that were once community institutions were forced to slash budgets and staff, and many folded entirely. Even in major cities, local news is struggling. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just cut its print editions from seven days a week to five, and the venerable New York Daily News laid off about half its staff in July, a move the tabloid’s corporate parent, Tronc, said was made to “reflect the realities of our business.” Newsrooms employ almost 40% fewer people than they did in 1994, and “newspaper reporter” was rated “the worst job in America” for four years running, according to CareerCast, which ranks jobs based on factors such as stress, risks, compensation, and opportunity for growth.

What caused local news’ decline?

More than anything else, the internet. Older readers continue to buy newspapers, but younger readers who grew up expecting free online content and constantly updated news aren’t inclined to pay for a printed product. As readers began defecting to online sources in the early 2000s, Craigslist made paid newspaper classified ads all but obsolete with its mostly free message boards. Classifieds once generated up to 40% of newspaper ad revenue, peaking at $19.6 billion in 2000. Revenue from consumer ads, meanwhile, has been gobbled up by the twin behemoths of Google and Facebook, which together accounted for 73% of all digital advertising in 2016, according to the Pivotal Research Group. Still another threat comes from niche new-media startups that see opportunity in local newsrooms’ vulnerability. Alex Mather, co-founder of the subscription-based sports website, told The New York Times his deep-pocketed company plans to poach the best local sports reporters in every city. “We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Mather said.

Why didn’t local papers adapt?

In many small and midsize cities, multiple generations of the same wealthy family commonly owned the local paper, often treating it as a public service rather than an exclusively for-profit venture. But as the internet began devouring their revenue, many waited too long to react, and the losses became unsustainable. Corporations and venture capitalists began to buy up local news outlets, often treating them as mere short-term investments. One such so-called vulture capitalist, Randall Smith, purchased several major regional papers—including The Denver Post, the San Jose Mercury News, and The Orange County Register—then slashed operations to the bone to maintain profitability. As Jack Shafer wrote in, Smith decided that “more value can be extracted by sucking the marrow” of the papers than by reinvesting in them.

Do we still need local news?

Only if things like schools, taxes, infrastructure, and government accountability matter to you. Where fewer reporters cover local business and government, Margaret Sullivan warned in The Washington Post, “corruption can flourish, taxes can rise, public officials can indulge their worst impulses.” When a local newspaper shutters, that same community experiences increased government waste and inefficiency, according to a 2018 report released by the Social Science Research Network. The loss of local reporting also depresses most citizens’ engagement in state and local politics, leading to activists dominating the parties and greater political polarization. A 2015 Brookings Institution report found voters are less likely to cast ballots in congressional races that receive little coverage, producing more landslide contests and members of Congress who have less incentive to compromise on Capitol Hill. Conversely, robust coverage of local elections leads to greater voter turnout and more civic engagement.

Can local news be saved?

Only if creative innovations take hold. Some local newspapers have instituted “paywalls” requiring frequent readers to cough up money; digital revenue, however, hasn’t made up for the massive loss of print revenue. The nonprofit ProPublica is providing cash grants to help local newsrooms pursue ambitious investigative projects, and its Local Reporting Network will expand in 2019 to support coverage of state governments. Veteran journalist Don Day spent the past year researching potential local news lifesavers and found inspiration from 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who gave away most of his fortune late in his life, with a focus on funding public libraries. Day hopes Carnegie’s example could serve as a model for wealthy philanthropists who would fund an $8 billion endowment to maintain local news operations in both large towns and smaller rural areas. It may be the only way, Day says, to keep “a working democracy intact.”

The Texas Tribune model

Venture capitalist John Thornton wrote in 2009 that journalism that “takes on serious, complex issues and puts them in the context of how citizens interact with their government” should be considered a public good. Thornton recognized that, as with clean air and national defense, market forces would not sufficiently provide for such journalism. So he invested $1 million of his own money and raised over $2 million more to launch the membership-driven nonprofit Texas Tribune. An early adopter of digital-data journalism, the Tribune created a splash with its easily searchable public-record databases, providing the citizenry with access to the kind of information once available only to FOIA-savvy journalists. Prioritizing impact reporting over clicks, the Tribune allows its award-winning stories to be reprinted free of charge in other outlets. This strategy has proved popular with the Tribune’s paid membership, who NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen says “don’t want a gate around the journalism they’re supporting.” When you pay to become a member in a journalism nonprofit, Rosen says, you aren’t paying for a product—“you join the cause because you believe in the work.”


  1. George Hollister September 3, 2018

    Michael Toivonen has a good point about tree trimming around power lines. I do the same when PG&E tree trimmers come by, “Don’t trim it. Cut it off, or cut it down”.

    Some people I know are confrontational to the tree trimmers, and don’t want trees or branches cut. They like their trees. So the trimmers make compromises. The trimmers follow the path of least resistance. Vegetation that should be cut is left.

    If PG&E is to be held responsible for what happened last Fall, then PG&E needs to be allowed to cut any tree that can fall and hit a power line. That means cut trees 100 ft + from the lines. Of course, that’s not going to happen. Undergrounding is a good idea, but too expensive. Remember, the rate payers pay for all this. It seemed to me that insulating wires might work, but that doesn’t seem to be a good idea either. The best Idea I have heard is to shut off the power when there are red flag warnings.

    As far as last Fall goes, that should be treated as an “act of God”. The fuel load that fed the fire was to blame. But intense 80 MPH “reverse winds”, at night, when the landscape was still dry is highly unusual, or unheard of. I have never seen anything like that. The ash from the Redwood Valley fire was coming down in Comptche, for heavens sake. We are West of the fire. The prevailing wind should be out of the West. This changed my thinking on what to expect from a wildfire. It did not matter what PG&E tree trimming did. In this case, nothing would have been enough to prevent down lines and fire.

    • George Hollister September 3, 2018

      The current wildfire funding bill heading to the governor’s desk is not, as promote, a PG&E bailout paid for by rate payers. It is more likely an insurance company and property owner bailout paid for by rate payers.

  2. George Hollister September 3, 2018

    Cal Fire’s Mike McCay: “The (Forest Practice)rules are so complex that our operators get a lot of violations. It can be for little things too.”

    This is quote from the story about Curtis Johnson and Gualala Redwoods in the Oct. AVA 2001, written by Mark Scaramella. Unless you are directly involved in logging in California, you would have no idea how many rules there are for logging here. And those rules are constantly being added to, too. I look at my own small operation and I don’t know how many violations I have.

    The “California Forest Practice Rules” book is printed and distributed annually to licensed timber operators, and foresters. It is 5.5X8.5 inch, ring bound with 378 pages of fine print. I believe the idea is this is supposed to be carried by foresters to refer to. There is a place on one of my bookshelves for it. I know how to dismember and recycle it when the annual replacement comes in each year end. Do I know what is in it? Not really, and I am not going to expend intellectual energy to do that, either. It is also exceedingly un-user friendly if you wanted to find something. There are (a few) people who have dedicated their careers to knowing and understanding this book.

    So what do I do? The basics. Make sure no dirt from anything that is done goes into a stream. Make sure fire prevention standards are met. Do the annual spotted owl calling, pay a forester to do the “Notice To Operate”, and whatever else is required to be legal, paper wise. I do other things that I would do anyway that contribute to limiting impacts and keeping me “in compliance”.

    I could continue on the dysfunction of the California Forest Practice Act, but want to point out to pot growers, who are trying to get legal, that they are not alone. What they are complaining about, we are doing. Don’t forget, Water Quality, and Fish and Wildlife. Like in Forestry, they will consider you “unregulated”, regardless of what the County imposes on you.

    Does this mean some pot growers will not be able to operate because of the expense of the rules? Absolutely, just as in forestry for anyone on the North Coast who has pine or Douglas fir.

    • George Hollister September 3, 2018

      Let me clarify, it is not the rules that break people in forestry, it is the permitting. The cost of getting a permit makes logging, for people who only have Douglas fir and pine, “not worth it.” Does this sound familiar for pot growers trying to get legal? There is also no guarantee of a price for logs. The consumer will buy the cheapest board, regardless of where it comes from. Sound familiar? Also, nobody cares.

      The consumer in the city does not care about where the lumber comes from, or the plight of some logger, forest landowner, or mill town. They don’t care if a bunch of growers go out of business, either. In fact many feel that pot growers going out of business is a good thing. “They deserve it”, right? I mean,” pot growers have been doing a bunch of bad things”, right? And they are “a bunch of no tax paying greedy bastards”, right? An example of “unfettered capitalism”. So pot growers, like people in the timber industry, have next to zero political clout. They shouldn’t think they do, because they don’t.

      Are the charges against the pot industry justified? Mostly, no. Same for the timber industry. Is pot or, timber killing fish? Not enough to make a twit of difference. Pot is unique, because most of the real environmental issues, and lawbreaking associated with it are directly related to it’s prohibition. That doesn’t matter. There is a public perception that pot equals environmental destruction. Like with timber, the inherent crimes of the pot industry exist mostly in the imagination.

      The hypocrisy in the irony is that many in the pot industry have historically been actively fighting the timber industry because of issues that exist mostly in their imaginations as well. That is where the logging rules came from. The latest anti-timber campaign, that is based purely on imagination, is Measure V. We will see where that goes. But now, pot is sharing the same political dungeon with the timber industry, and most pot growers don’t seem to know it.

      Please, don’t say, “but George that’s different”. It’s not.

      • Harvey Reading September 4, 2018

        George your comment and its “clarification” are, by a quick eyeballing, exactly the same length. You must have really screwed up in the original comment to require that much clarification. Both were far too long-winded for me to read.

        Incidentally, the main reason for the gift to logging companies, known colloquially as timber harvest rules, was to exempt logging companies from compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Under CEQA, the rapacious greedy ones would have had to prepare an Environmental Impact Report for each rape of the forests and watersheds, which would have cost them lots of money for consultant fees.

        Well, George, that’s all for now. Enjoy the fruits of poor timber and watershed management. You deserve them.

        • George Hollister September 4, 2018

          The CEQA exemption went away many moons ago.

          • Harvey Reading September 4, 2018

            Some proof, George, some proof; or is that just a statement that you pulled out of that dark, smelly place to which you referred in an earlier comment? Or are you perhaps confusing the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) with CEQA?

  3. james marmon September 3, 2018

    The Lake County Sheriff issued the following “Nixke Alert” & press release Monday @ 2:36 pm:

    “Wildfire near Kelsey Creek Dr. and Carder Rd. Kelseyville. Residents should evacuate area immediately.“

    The Mendocino CalFire unit is sending over its air assets to the incident.

  4. Bruce McEwen September 3, 2018

    I working out an analogy, comparing the usual suspects on this page to post modern plastic artists, and maybe you could help me flesh it out – and anyone else might join in too…

    Andy Warhol — James Marmon
    (It’s the fixation on repetition they share)

    Roy Lichtenstein — Eric Sunswheat
    (Eric sees himself in those cartoon frames)

    Jackson Pollack– Harvey Reading
    (they have Wyoming in common, also)

    Norman Rockwell– George Hollister
    (no explanation necessary)

    Beverly Doolittle– Susie De Castro
    (they’re both realists who blend right in)

    Korzac Ziolkowski– Bruce McEwen
    (they’re both all about permanence)

    • Bruce McEwen September 3, 2018

      M. C. Escher – Mark Scaramella
      (they both present puzzles that defy logic)

      • Bruce McEwen September 3, 2018

        Max Ernst — ?

        Maxfield Parrish — ?

        Charlie Russell …Bill Pilgrim?

        Frederick Remington … Jerry Philbrick?

    • james marmon September 3, 2018

      “The power of repetition is any leader’s best friend. Repeating yourself may seem annoying to you at first, but it’s important to make sure your key messages and actions are given a chance to sink in. … The power of repetition is your friend.”

      The Power of Repetition: the Secret of Successful Leaders

      Where’s the money Camille?

      • George Hollister September 4, 2018


    • George Hollister September 4, 2018

      In my opinion, Norman Rockwell will be remembered as the greatest American artist of the 20th Century. One of the greatest world wide as well. His originals will the most highly sought after, most cherished, and the most viewed. I know, he is demeaned as merely being an “illustrator”. So be it. Let time be the judge.

      So Bruce, thanks. I have zero artistic talent, but appreciate the association.

    • George Hollister September 4, 2018

      Bruce Anderson – William Randolph Hearst
      (No explanation needed.)

    • Harvey Reading September 4, 2018

      I feeding the dog, watering the grass, and fixing breakfast.

  5. Dave Smith September 3, 2018

    When the time comes for us oldsters, rational suicide. Google Exit International…

    • Bruce McEwen September 3, 2018

      Maxfield Parrish — Dave Smith
      (both find classical beauty in daily life)

    • Bruce McEwen September 3, 2018

      The rationale of The Fourth Voyage, Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathon Swift… everyone of Voltaire’s heroes attain to the same honor, at the very last, the least kindest, if not the most candid, words you shall ever hear… probably in French, “C’est la vie.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *