Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Monday, Oct. 15, 2018

* * *

RED FLAG WARNING STILL ACTIVE. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Mendocino and surrounding counties from 11:00pm tonight through Monday. During these weather events, power outages may occur. To learn more about preparing for a power outage, please visit

ED NOTE: Electricity is expected to be shut off for customers in Calistoga, St. Helena, Deer Park, Angwin, Pope Valley, Lake Berryessa and surrounding unincorporated parts of Napa County. About 17,000 homes and businesses were expected to be affected in the North Bay, along with 70,000 more in the Sierra Nevada foothills. PG&E advised it would make direct contact with affected customers. When possible, PG&E plans to give customers a 24-48 hour advance notice. People don’t have to live in an extreme fire-threat zone to be impacted by a pre-emptive outage. Residents who want to find out if they might be affected can go to the PG&E website and click on “Wildfire Safety – Action Required” under “Current Alerts.” Then click “See if you’re impacted” and type in your address. “We’re encouraging people to update their contact information,” said a PG&E spokesman. Officials said there will be 415 customers affected in Sonoma County, 5,700 in Napa County and 11,000 in Lake County. Shut downs were expected between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Sunday night. It could take up to 24 hours to restore power because lines have to be physically checked by crews. Mendo is not currently scheduled for any power outages, apparently the high winds which are expected in the highest fire danger areas are not expected to be as fierce in Mendocino County.

* * *

THE FOLLOWING ITEM on the Supe's consent agenda will undoubtedly be approved Tuesday without discussion. It serves nicely as a metaphor of how Mendocino County is presently functioning. Supervisor Croskey was appointed to the board to serve out Supervisor Woodhouse's term when Woodhouse suffered a nervous breakdown. The appointed Mrs. Croskey is leaving the area for Ohio when the Woodhouse-Croskey term is up in January. But before she leaves she's getting a tax-paid junket to DC with, presumably, a stopover in her new home state of Ohio. We wrote to the Supervisors, including Croskey, asking them if this expenditure is defensible. Predictably, none of them replied.

Board of Supervisors Consent Calendar, for October 16 meeting, Item 4c)

“Approval of Out of State Travel for Supervisor Croskey to Attend the White House Conference with California Local Leaders and Authorization of Expenditure of Airfare and Lodging Expenses. (Sponsor: Supervisor Croskey)”

* * *


by Mark Scaramella

Last July newly hired Ag Commissioner Harindar Grewal told the Supervisors that as of July 6 the total pot permit applications Mendo had received was 952. The county had “issued” 175 and 44 were “approved,” for a total of 219 “issued +approved.” The rest were “under review,” or “in queue.” A few were “withdrawn or denied.”

Now here we are three months later in October harvest and home invasion season and the number of pot permit applications has risen by 83 (around 28 per month) to 1035; the number of “issued or approved” has gone up by 16 (about five per month). At least we’re starting to understand that “issued” may be the final excruciating step, after approved.

Close readers may recall that we were mildly impressed that last August Commissioner Grewal had expeditiously agreed to include a column in his pot permit stats which showed where the number in each processing category were since the last report when requested by a local pot grower. He did that for only one month. We now have to rescind that favorable impression since the October report is back to nearly useless raw numbers with no info about the latest activity or progress.

We must assume that the recent activity info would show that not much is moving through the pot permit issuance process and including the latest numbers would just make matters look worse than they already look.

These numbers are after what Grewal’s pot program staff says were several very successful workshops and outreach efforts in the County’s vast pot hinterlands to help applicants prepare or upgrade their applications.

What the numbers actually show is that the pot permit process was a cruel bait and switch trick. It is so cumbersome, so impenetrable, so expensive, so nearly impossible to navigate, that Mendo is falling further and further behind in processing permit applications each month, creating a logjam that amounts to a new kind of pot prohibition, even though pot cultivation, processing, and sales are all technically legal.

In effect, Mendo has told pot growers — a former mainstay of the Mendo economy whatever you think of it and them — that while some growers may think pot has been “legalized” and permits to grow it without visits from law enforcement are available — at a very steep cost — Mendo (and the State of California) is going to put so many obstacles in their path to get legal that pot growers would be justified in preferring the old outlaw days when all they had to worry about were uniformed pot cops.

* * *

COINCIDENTALLY, we noticed in the October 11 issue of the Willits Weekly that CEO Angelo cites her role in the development of this ridiculously unmanagable (and money-losing in spite of the fees and fines) pot permit program as one of the reasons she got “The President’s Award” from her friends at the “California Association of County Executives” (and by extension deserving of the huge raise she recently gave herself).

Angelo flashing the bling

In a stupifyingly uncritical recitation of Angelo’s own claims of why she’s so deserving of the Award (and the raise) the normally acute Willits Weekly reporter Mike A’Dair says that CEO Angelo bragged about “her 2016 work on cannabis, when she represented Mendocino County at a series of meetings of representatives from cannabis-producing counties from Northern California that resulted in a joint statement of recommendations on how the state should approach the then-pending decriminalization of cannabis. ‘Our policy statement absolutely influenced cannabis policy at the state level,’ Angelo said. In addition, displayed in the bleak foyer of the county’s executive office, is a multi-year award from the Government Finance Officers Association for clarity and transparency in the presentation of the county budget. According to the plaque, Mendocino County received that award in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.” (We can now retreat back through the Looking Glass.)

GIVEN THE TIMING AND CONTENT of Mr. A’Dair’s puff piece we have to assume that CEO Angelo called Mr. A’Dair into her office and bought him a nice county-financed lunch or something, hoping that A’Dair might help mitigate the bad press the CEO has been getting since she gave herself her big raise to $225k per year plus comparable bennies, knowing that none of the other local news outlets would ever stoop so low. (Technically, it would be more accurate to say that the Supervisors rubber-stamped the big raise she gave herself.)

And the state pot policy that CEO Angelo claims to have “influenced”? Look how well that’s working out. It is a confused mess, just like the County’s. And getting an award for budget “presentation” from far away green-eyeshade people who have no idea how badly out of balance the County’s numbers have become, is pure window dressing — essentially saying that they like the color-selections in the CEO’s budget book — and hardly the stuff of managerial competence.

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Gettin' kinda weird out there in the world, what with that rapper guy cursing in the White House. Even Skrag said he'd like to see more gravitas outta Orange Man.”

* * *

STUPIDITY is the building block of the Universe.
— Frank Zappa

* * *


On Nov. 6, our community will make decisions about a number of local races, including Ukiah City Council, county Board of Supervisors, the Mendocino College Board of Trustees, and the County Office of Education. Mail-in ballots have gone out and while many people will wait to make their decisions closer to Nov. 6, we want to take this opportunity to let voters know who we think are the best candidates.

There are three openings on the Ukiah City Council and five people running. We urge votes for Maureen ‘Mo’ Mulheren, Jim Brown, and Chon Travis.

Ms.Mulheren is finishing up her first term as a council member and we think she sets a fine example of a truly dedicated local elected official. Despite owning and operating her own business, she makes time to get involved in local events, meet with local residents, attend meetings most people don’t bother with, have her eyes on everything the city is up to and do her homework diligently. And she is not coy when its time to vote. We love Ms. Mulheren and think she deserves to be reelected.

Also deserving of reelection is Jim Brown, who came onto the council with Mulheren, We like Brown because he listens carefully and makes his decisions based on what he truly believes is the best thing for the city’s residents. He is a solid and thoughtful member of the council and has learned a great deal in his first term which we believe will make him even more valuable moving forward,

These two incumbents can point to a city which has moved forward during their tenures on bringing more housing into the city limits, finishing up the Costco project, initiating new ideas like the winter skating rink, making the city budget more transparent, and getting Measure Y passed, which as already seen a number of city streets repaved.

This race also has three newcomers running. None of them has any political or city government experience, but one of them, we believe, could be a spark on the council: Chon Travis. Mr. Travis is a local Ukiahan with a young family who is not afraid to present new ideas and solutions that may or may not work, but promote different ways of thinking about problems all cities face. He is particularly enthusiastic about getting young people in the community involved in their city and sees the potential in things many have stopped looking at. We think Mr. Travis will bring energy and resilience to the council and we urge a vote for him.

The 3rd District Board of Supervisors race is between long time previous supervisor John Pinches and newcomer John Haschak. This was a difficult decision as both men have strong though different qualities. In the end we are endorsing Mr. Haschak because we think he will represent the City of Willits and North County residents best. Mr. Haschak is an educator and a union leader which ought to make him valuable as the county deals with the increasing tension with its own employees. He has done a lot to educate himself on county issues since the primary and although all new supervisors need time to get acclimated, a big part of the constituency of the 3rd District has clearly made him their guy and we support that.

For the Mendocino Office of Education board of education we are endorsing Tarney Sheldon, who is very knowledgeable about the challenges our at-risk youth face in our community and will be an asset as the county office establishes a relationship with a newly elected superintendent.

For the Mendocino College Board of Trustees in Area 2 we endorse Don Burgess, who has clearly done his homework and is able to discuss college issues with clarity and envisions a college that truly serves the local community with an eye to preparing our local young people for local jobs. Mr. Burgess also appears to be someone who will not simply be a yes-man to the college administration.

In Area 5 we endorse Camille Schraeder, who believes we have to have a college that is a vibrant pipeline to the workforce needs of our community and as someone who has worked closely with youth, mental health and homeless issues, she knows there are specific demands for jobs coming along in our county’s future. She also is a champion of transparency and is not easily cowed by administrators with agendas.

In Area 4 we endorse incumbent Robert Pinoli, who was appointed to the board two years ago to fill a vacancy. In that time, Pinoli has been a positive board member. He has been a champion of getting some long overdue housing onto campus and is known for his willingness to speak up and challenge the status quo.

* * *


by Jim Shields

The other shoe dropped at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The first shoe hit the floor late last year when the Supes approved a nearly 40 percent raise for themselves. The proposal had been brought forward by County Chief Executive Officer Carmel Angelo.

At the time, I speculated that was the “quid” and surely the “pro quo” was in the offing.

The Supes approved their raise by a 4-1 vote, with Dan Gjerde the lone holdout at bumping their salary to $85,000.

At the time, the CEO, among other reasons, justified the BOS raise by referring to compensation findings in the “Slavin Study.” We’ll discuss that issue shortly.

Well, this week the Supes formally reciprocated the quid pro quo when they awarded the CEO a salary increase that topped out at $225,000.

Mark Scaramella, of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, reported, “With Supervisor/Board Chair Dan Hamburg calling Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo “a bargain,” and Supervisor John McCowen saying she deserves a raise because she’s been underpaid for years and she’s got great contacts and she almost single-handedly got some money from the State for the post fire disaster over-excavation reimbursement of upwards of 100 burned out home-owners (which should have been caught a lot sooner if they’d listened to Lee Howard when he first pointed out what was happening, and was the absolute minimum she could do under the circumstances), the Board of Supervisors unanimously (Supervisor Carre Brown wasn’t in attendance but she certainly would have voted Yes too) approved CEO Carmel Angelo’s huge automatic pay raises over the next four years in four steps to $225,000 a year plus equivalently generous perks, followed by a comparably giant pension for the rest of her life.”

Scaramella also noted that, “Two other top official raises were rubberstamped also without any discussion to speak of: the Public Defender and Assistant Ag Commissioner, neither of whom were even openly named as they got their positions generously upgraded for no reason, no explanation at all … Human Resources Director Heidi Dunham said her office had conducted a “benchmark study with comparable counties and determined that the CEO is currently 20% out of market.” Ms. Dunham “looked at other contracts for other CEOs and CAOs and looked at their benefits in El Dorado, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma, Yolo and Sutter Counties.” Of course the inclusion of wealthier counties like Napa and Sonoma in the study skews the results in favor of Ms. Angelo.”

The “benchmark study” Dunham referred to is almost certainly the ghost of the Slavin Study, a process that was discredited upon its release as an extremely flawed process.

Here’s the background.

Back in the early 2000’s, the Supes commissioned a 16-month compensation study, popularly known as the Slavin Study, named after the Georgia-based consulting firm which produced it, concluded that the bulk of the county’s 1,362 employees’, including management- and director-types, were below market in average compensation.

“Overall, Mendocino’s actual average pay is approximately 13 percent below market,” the study found.

The “market” against which Mendocino County was measured were 12 counties ranging in population from Lake County’s 65,000 to 420,000 in Sonoma County; 3 cities (Eureka, Petaluma and Ukiah); and other entities such as the Mendocino Community Health Clinic, the Mendocino Office of Education and the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

The Slavin Management Consultants group worked with a Supervisor-created body called the Labor Management Committee. The LMC had 15 members drawn from line workers, supervisors, department heads and representatives from the county’s unions.

Then Social Services Director Allison Glassey acting as the LMC's spokeswoman, told the Supes the Slavin Study was something "unprecedented" in county annals.

Back then I said I agreed with that assessment because it was certainly the first time in my experience (as a former long-time union official in the airline industry) where a group of employees, managers, union reps and consultants worked together on a project which ended with a recommendation for pay raises. In heavily unionized organizations like Mendocino County or the airline industry, compensation levels are established through the collective bargaining process.

But here in Mendocino County, a special body was created, the Labor Management Committee, specifically to collaborate on reaching a finding relative to their own pay scales and salaries.

Dr. David Colfax, a board member at the time of the Slavin Study, warned his colleagues that the study was not to be trusted. The former statistics professor attacked the Slavin Study as being flawed since its “market” was comprised of governmental units such as other counties, or quasi-governmental entities like the Mendocino County Office of Education.

Colfax said leaving out the private sector “represents a rather significant methodological fault in this study.”

He asked Robert Slavin, president of the consulting firm, “Why a greater effort wasn’t made to get private industry data? I’ve heard that if the private industry rates (were included in the study), we might have seen some of the salary rates undergo a rather substantial change, particularly at the lower end.”

Slavin responded that the consultant who did most of that portion of the study’s analysis was away on a European vacation, so he didn’t know the answer.

Colfax also berated the consultants and the Labor Management Committee for what he felt was abrogating the authority of the BOS. He referred to a section of the report which dismissed for consideration certain things such as merit pay and utilizing technology to eliminate paperwork and jobs attendant to it. The Slavin Study concluded: “These concepts appeared to be too radical to most members of the Labor Management Committee and the Committee concluded that the County organization was ‘not ready’ to attempt such major changes.”

A miffed Colfax retorted, “Well, I think I’m capable of deciding up here what is too radical and what is not too radical. It seems to me that is the kind of policy decision that was made (by the Labor-Management Committee), in effect, to put aside (hold back information from the Supes).”

Continuing in the same vein, he said, “If these kind of decisions were made, or are being made (by unaccountable bodies), aren’t these properly the decisions of the this Board to decide whether or not what Slavin recommends is too radical or what Slavin does not recommend is not too radical? Policy decisions were made in at least three different points in this report that, from my perspective, are more properly made by the five of us (BOS), who are responsible to the voters, rather than to a labor-management committee which, after all, is responsible to this Board indirectly.”

In any event, the Board approved accepting the study, with Colfax strongly dissenting. We’ve been living with a fatally flawed compensation process ever since.

It appears that no one in the county seat gives a damn about acting responsibly and with accountability when it comes to high-ranking officials setting their salaries. It goes no deeper or further than “It is what we say it is.”

That’s just another way of saying, “After us, you come first.”

(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 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

* * *


Here is the Coastal Commission staff letter and Caltrans' Albion River Bridge debris disposal plan, in case you are interested in this. (Annemarie Weibel, Albion Bridge Stewards, Albion)

Condition Compliance Ltr for 1-16-0899 (CalTrans)_SC 3-September 21 2018

Earlier this month, Caltrans and the California Coastal Commission conspired to begin destroying the historic Albion River Bridge. Now they’re gunning for Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, too.

At its September 12 meeting in Fort Bragg, the Coastal Commission approved Caltrans’ illegal and incomplete application to begin a “geotechnical investigation” development adjacent to the last remaining timber trestle bridge on California’s Highway 1.

What's at stake is the destruction of about 100 eucalyptus trees, as well as significant grading and drilling of a steep, fragile coastal bluff including the use of a helicopter. The trees serve as a Coastal Commission certified environmentally sensitive habitat for the blue heron.

All that debris — trees, roots, soil, rock — have to go somewhere. Caltrans has already hauled tons of material inland, out of the coastal zone, conveniently for the Coastal Commission and dumped it at a Caltrans disposal facility in Boonville. The location is at mile post 31 on Highway 128, just south of the intersection of Highways 128 and 253.

Caltrans has so far cut down 17-20 eucalyptus trees located in a moist marine environment, and dumped their flammable remains in the heart of the dry Anderson Valley — at the height of fire season, within a tossed cigarette butts’ distance of the state highway.

The Coastal Commission, which receives approximately a million dollars a year from Caltrans to expedite its schemes, bought into this crazy plan.

Now that the Coastal Commission has rubber-stamped Caltrans’ plan Caltrans started cutting and grading. More legal procedures are still contemplated.

On October 11 the Coastal Commission waived the requirement for a Coastal Development Permit for a project on Spring Grove Road in Albion. Caltrans will perform interim remedial measures to minimize recreational user exposure to lead-impacted soil on private property parcels located beneath and adjacent to Salmon Creek Bridge. To prevent further exposure and tracking of lead-contaminated soils onto the road, parking areas, and into the residence at the site and surrounding area. Interim measures include capping with aggregate and rocks placed over a woven geotextile fabric, installing a fence and gate. In addition, Caltrans is also performing a geotechnical investigation of Salmon Creek Bridge.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8am to 5pm on weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays.

The public should make itself heard by writing to the Coastal Commission referencing “Stop abusing Mendocino County”.

By expanding their proposed radius of destruction into the Anderson Valley, Caltrans and the Coastal Commission have shown that their mutual interests far outweigh the concerns expressed by the public and by the courts.

It’s time for inland Mendocino County residents to join the Albion Bridge Stewards in the fight to save our environment.


Annemarie Weibel <>

* * *


* * *



It has been brought to my attention that there is a misunderstanding about John Pinches’ stance on the issue of the second access road for Brooktrails. Being a Brooktrails resident myself I decided to ask John Pinches where he stood on this issue and this is what I took from that conversation. He is NOT against the second access road. It is a top priority of his.

In fact, John initiated studies for the Brooktrails second access road when he was supervisor. He is not in favor of how the Brooktrails Board has talked about paying for it. They have talked about using a boulevard district which is similar to benefit assessment which means the full cost of the project would be put onto the landowners of Brooktrails. John would look at other avenues such as State Transportation Funds, Federal Infrastructure Funding or partial local funding to pay for the project. As some residents know Brooktrails has numerous emergency exits; all have locked gates except for the northerly exit on Sherwood Road which is in need of repairs. John would work with landowners, residents, emergency services and the department of transportation. He believes making emergency exits passable, posting emergency exit routes and having monthly safety checks will play a vital part in making Brooktrails more prepared if and when an emergency arises.

He mentioned widening the first 3 miles from Highway 101 up Sherwood road and adding turnouts would greatly improve the flow of traffic. John is confident if elected he can work with The Board of Supervisors to get this started very soon. John was instrumental it the realignment at the intersection of Sherwood and Main Street. He was able to accomplish that by getting funding from the Bypass project with no cost to The City of Willits, Mendocino County or the residents of Brooktrails. I will tell you that since the Bypass has opened, which John was committed to there was a huge improvement of traffic flow coming out of Brooktrails in the mornings.

We are experiencing some growing pains at the moment with the work being done at the intersection but that will improve traffic when it is completed. As residents of Brooktrails we fear that one day we will experience a devastating fire.

We can do many things to lower our risks such as clean our lots and make a defendable space around our homes. Make a plan with our families about how to get out in case of a fire. Find out where our closest emergency exit is. The fact of it is this project will take years to complete and the environmental process is lengthy.

There is also the fact that the routes suggested will have to be acquired. Remember people own these pieces of land where these routes could go, they have to want to sell them. Projects like this need funding first and foremost. We need a supervisor who knows where and how to find the funding so that we as Brooktrails residents do not have to foot the entire bill. John Pinches has a long record of finding funding and has never said no to an infrastructure project.

We as residents need to prepare for a fire and have a plan. We have wonderful emergency services in this county and when they come knocking on your door and tell you it’s time to go you should go. As a Brooktrails resident who already pays more for garbage, water, sewer and almost every other utility I would prefer not to have another bill.

I will be voting for John Pinches the candidate who knows the Third District, Mendocino County and how to get things done.

Thank You,

Jessica Branscomb


* * *


Ted Williams at the Manchester Community Center on October 17

There will be potluck dinner and meeting with Fifth District Supervisorial candidate Ted Williams on Wednesday, October 17, at 6:30 at the Manchester Community Center, Garcia Guild. There will be a discussion of issues affecting all of Mendocino County and more specific issues about our South Coast community. Attendees do NOT have to be part of the potluck to participate in the discussions though it is hoped all will come and participate in the potluck. Attendees that will be part of the potluck are asked to bring a dish and beverage to share. The Manchester Community Center is located at 43970 Crispin Road, just east of Highway 1. For more information, contact with the Center's office at 882-3425.

* * *


Well, well, well, I stumbled on Redwood Community Services’ federally mandated 2017 Independent Financial Audit Report this morning, it came out last June. Clear at the bottom of the last page (26) I found this: Related Party Transactions “RCS subcontracts its Mendocino County Mental Health contracts from Redwood Quality Management Company, Inc. (“RQM”), an independent for-profit company. RCS’ Chief Executive Officer is one of the three shareholders of RQM, which was incorporated to bid for and administer Mendocino County Mental Health contracts for all Behavioral Health Organizational Providers. RCS earned $7,848,014 in mental health and other contract revenues administered by RQM. Outstanding contract amounts due from RQM at December 31, 2017 was $1,042,007.”

Now we know where at least 9 million dollars a year of the County’s mental health dollars are going. Her non-profit also gained 4 million dollars worth of assets last year as well, went from 7 million in 2016 to over 11 million in 2017.

James Marmon MSW
Former Mental Health Specialist
Sacramento, Placer, and Lake Counties.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, October 14, 2018

Alvarado-Alfaro, Campbell, Cook

DAVID ALVARADO-ALFARO, DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.

LEONARD CAMPBELL JR., Hopland. Probation revocation.

JENNIFER COOK, Fort Bragg. Burglary, petty theft, defrauding an innkeeper, failure to appear, resisting.

Delcampo, Guerrero, Latimer

SEAN DELCAMPO, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, parole violation.

CHRIS GUERRERO, Willits. Burglary, stolen property, probation revocation.

JAMARHL LATIMER, Ukiah. DUI, parole violation.

Lopez, Lucas, Marks

CHRISTOPHER LOPEZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JESSIE LUCAS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, community supervision violation.

LEON MARKS, Ukiah. Shoplifting.

Munoz-Paricio, Norton, Pelkey

TADEO MUNOZ-PARICIO, Covelo. Loaded handgun registered to someone else.

JESSICA NORTON, Ukiah. Under influence, disobeying court order, resisting.

MICHAEL PELKEY, Fort Bragg. Criminal threats.

Petersen, Roberts, Sanderson

JOSHUA PETERSEN, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.

CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Failure to appear. (Frequent Flyer)

JACOB SANDERSON, Laytonville. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Santosa, Scarioni, Woodard

CLAUDIA SANTOSA, Sacramento/Ukiah. DUI.

ROXANNE SCARIONI, Willits. Domestic abuse.

TIFFANY WOODARD, Willits. DUI, probation revocation.

* * *


29 years ago around this time on Tuesday, October 17, 1989, 5:04 PM PDT, the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck San Francisco and the Bay Area at a magnitude of 6.9, just as everyone was getting ready to watch Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants & A's at Candlestick Park.

(Click to enlarge)

63 people were killed and an estimated $6 billion in damages was done by the quake.

This included the burning and destruction of the Marina District in San Francisco, southeast of the Golden Gate Bridge and southwest of Alcatraz Island, as well as the collapse of both the old Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge and the I-880 Nimitz double-decker Cypress Freeway in Oakland.

(Jia-Lin Braswell, San Francisco Remembered)

* * *


The Mendocino Coast Audubon Society's next meeting will be Monday, October 15, 7PM at the Caspar Community Center 15051 Caspar Rd, Caspar, CA 95420. Our speaker will be George Wuerthner on Healthy Forests.

A photographer, author, and activist, George Wuerthner has published more than thirty books on America's wild places. His books include Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy and Thrillcraft: The Environmental Consequences of Motorized Recreation. Wuerthner has served on the boards of several regional and national conservation organizations. He will be discussing the latest science regarding fire and forest health issues, particularly as they relate to federal land management policies. Is what we have been doing sustainable? George will be discussing these and other ecological issues.

* * *

REAL MEN (Corrected letter)

Hey Jerry Philbrick,

“We have a real man for president” “We have a real man for a judge” These are quotes from you. Since when does a real man grab women by the pussy? Since when does a real man pin a young girl down and sexually assault her while his friends laugh. Promoting judges like Moore who molested a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 year man, or Republican Sen. Shorty, he is going to prison for molesting young boys. Is this what is making America Great Again? Apparently the definition of a man has changed in your mind. Jerry, you are not the same person I knew from Comptche. I cannot help to wonder what you would have done if any of these men would have touched your daughters when they were young women. You should be ashamed to call yourself a man, and to support someone like Trump.

Kelly Ruddis

North Las Vegas

* * *


* * *

IT’S SO SAD. Our plutocrat class is really suffering these days, and it’s all thanks to those socialist Democrats who passed an industry crippling bill in 2010 that has allowed Wall Street profits to grow by only 5-10 percent per year instead of, say, the 20-30 percent per year their profits grew during the housing bubble. Woe is them.

(Click to enlarge)

(Kevin Drum,

* * *

* * *


by Bruce Patterson

When Hurricane Florence came ashore near the mouth of North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, Trisha, Abel, Jeff and myself were at the Johnson Ridge Observatory inside Washington’s Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Sprawling atop a sandblasted ridge situated above what’s billed as the largest debris flow in “recorded history” (.7% of one cubic mile), the Observatory (museum, gift shop, IMAX Theater and info center) is built in the National Park style: native materials built to blend into their surroundings, nature being the real star of the show.

Resting at 4,200 ft., the Observatory is located just below the mouth of the horseshow-shaped crater now topping out at 8,400ft., the eruption having blown about 1,300 vertical feet of the mountain’s conical summit into the atmosphere. It’s named after the late volcanologist David A. Johnson. He’d been camping on the spot and so had a ringside seat when, on Sunday at 8:32am, May 18th, 1980, a 26-megaton blast threw so many particles into the sky that within a 50 mile radius few people heard anything while, 250 miles away, the BOOM stopped people in their tracks. Riding the North Pacific wind, the eruption’s sputtering plume of ash eventually settled on 11 US states plus three Canadian provinces.

So we’re coming out the IMAX Theater and Trisha starts talking to strangers. The boys go outside and I drift back to gaze at the giant relief map of the Zone of Destruction. After hearing an old gentleman laugh at something Trisha has said and then commenting on it, I recognized the Tar Heel inflections I’d grown familiar with back when I was a soldier and, at least if you asked a couple of the local girls, something of an honorary Tar Heel my own self. So I walk over and Trisha informs me that this here fellah and his wife are from Greensboro, North Carolina. He knows all about “Fayettenam,” too. And, wow, my first wife was born in a shotgun shanty just outside Greensboro and . . .

A moment’s idle chitchat: yes indeed, Piedmont Airlines—the bush outfit that during bad weather had put the fear into some of Fort Bragg’s young paratroopers going on leave and flying to catch a jet up in DC or down in Atlanta—is resting in peace, its wobbly-winged fleet of turbo-props long ago recycled into bluejean buttons and church keys, tin cans and canteens. And yes, even though the rest of Fayetteville’s shabby old Hay Street’s mercenary heart has been erased (Sin City has gone suburban), the old Slave Market is still standing tall, its white paint glistening in the sweltering sunlight. But we said nothing about the wolf scratching at sweet Miss Carolina’s door. No use in maybe jinxing things.

Down off the mountain and back in our motel room (Jeff was staying with Abe, his wife and her two teenaged daughters), and anxious to hear what was happening with Hurricane Florence, I turned on CNN. Of course, like the non-coverage of California’s recent firestorms, all the “network” broadcasts followed the same script: wind-whipped foxy sweet thing reporters standing in knee-deep water explaining how the rising flood waters are now knee deep and, golly gee, shore is mightily precipitating. The camera slowly pans to the wind slapping the greenery silly, the river flowing uphill, the hounds dogpaddling with the current, the first heroic responders heroically responding, everything being “reported” according to the ancient Madison Ave. dogma that if you’ve seen one damned Great Hurricane on TV then you’ve seen them all.

For days on end the coverage was as weighty as a black and white movie soap opera shot in Munchkin Land. If you had friends, or loved ones, living in the Danger Zone, then hiring an astrologist to divine their fate would be about as helpful as your TV ever got. Nowadays, if you’re anxious for information about the precise location of the subdivisions or towns getting incinerated, flooded, buried under mudslides or, sometimes, all three during one wobbly spin of the seasons—you’d best have the patience of Job. Search the Internet? Shee-it. “User friendly” now means getting treated to a marathon tour inside a funhouse with cracked mirrors, each one with a bionic hand out asking if you can spare a nickel or a dime?

* * *

It’s the summer of 1969 and I’m a Speck-4 sitting shotgun as my pal Pfc. Junior winds thru the gears of his whistling 18-wheeler. Our battalion is convoying up a narrow, crowned, two-lane country road flanked with scattered swaybacked farmsteads and stagnant, overgrown drainage ditches. We’re on our way from Fort Bragg to the Norfolk Naval Base at Hampton Roads (the largest naval base on Earth). There we’ll put ourselves, equipment, supplies and rigs inside the bellies of ships sailing for Ponce, Puerto Rico. Out to intimidate Castro, we’re going to invade Puerto Rico. The Army, Navy, Air force and Marines: who’d dare resist?

Sixty days we were down there playing war games. What most impressed me was how much the poverty in Puerto Rico resembled Mexico’s. Rugged like Mexico, the island has a single spine with ridges and canyons disappearing into the ocean like a hand with a 1,000 fingers. Of course the mixed-blood islanders were like a bouquet with their eyes in shades of blue and brown, green, black and grey to go with their mostly olive or milk chocolate complexions.

When last year back-to-back hurricanes destroyed the island’s “infrastructure” and the Trump regime allowed the people to suffer in the scores of thousands and die in the thousands, I consoled myself by remembering how the people in the Mother Country always drink the blood of the people in the colonies: been SOP since the days of the Pharaohs. Besides, I don’t think the poor white and black folks in East Texas who got flooded out not once but three times in three years—2017’s Hurricane Harvey dumped over 50 inches of rain on Houston and most of the rest of East Texas—will ever recover financially. The oil and petrochemical kings who rule Texas real estate, in cahoots with Austin’s good old boys and the always friendly federales, made sure the taxpayers heavily subsidized the suburbs sprouting like oil rigs across the flood plains. This while their pitch men were assuring buyers that they didn’t need flood insurance because, hell, flood don’t come but once in a thousand years if then.

Now that the buyers have lost everything but their debts, that cruel bitch Mother Nature gets the blame. She’s the one forcing the destitute to sink or swim. Their ruination was an Act of God and therefore no man’s fault or responsibility. Survivors should be grateful they’re still alive and have plenty of paper towels.

The wetlands we were passing through were inside the South’s legendary tidewaters. Wasn’t long ago those parts rose up out the ocean. The highest ground is maybe knee-high to a telephone pole, and a normal incoming tide pushes the rivers backwards for as far as 50 miles. When a Great Hurricane stalls over the tidewaters—that ain’t supposed to happen but maybe once per century—and throws a 10 to 15-foot storm surge up atop an incoming tide, folks best have something tall to climb up on. Like the Great Dismal Swamp lying between us and Norfolk, most of the tidewaters are all but uninhabitable.

For days I watched the news channels and not once did I hear the word “tidewaters.” Nobody mentioned the “Fall Line,” either, the escarpment, usually between 10 and 15-feet tall, that separates the Tidewaters from the Piedmont (French for “hills below mountains”). Starting during colonial times, cargo ships coming up the rivers were halted by the fall. Just outside Fayetteville, the fall gives the Cape Fear a picturesque waterfall with a plunge pool good for moonlight skinny-dipping. Except now with the hurricane I suppose it’s blasting like a garden hose stuck underwater. It never occurred to me that Fayetteville could flood.

I don’t think we’ll ever get a complete body count or an accurate accounting of the economic costs of Hurricane Florence (or any other). Since our overseers have unilaterally determined that we the people have no need, or desire, to know, they think we lose nothing by remaining oblivious to the obvious. I mean, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, correct? Yet, if we only knew the total tonnage of what our “representatives” and the conglomerated media consider none of our business, we’d be a whole lot more prosperous and a hell of a lot happier. If we knew what’s good for us, acquiring some knowledge with some survival value would put some glide in our strides.

Last year’s epidemic of firestorms in the North Bay were depressing and terrorizing. Who’s ever heard of Santa Ana gales lashing Mt. St. Helena (4,339ft) up where Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties come together? Who ever imagined a leap-frogging firestorm could race up and over Chalk Hill Road like a sprinting jaguar?

When on TV one seasoned firefighter after another swears he or she has never seen such a ferocious and fleet-footed monster, it’s god’s way of telling us we’d best start paying attention. I’d venture to say that last year’s firestorm that killed 22 people and destroyed over 2,800 homes just within Santa Rosa city limits represents the most important news story for Anderson Valley so far this century. I mean, nothing like getting the equivalent of a pistol stuck in your face to focus your attention.

I don’t think the fire’s official postmortem got much play. But recently I stumbled upon it and I can see why the boosters have lost their tongues. The gist: the firestorm was ignited by 14 different fallen powerlines, yet PG&E isn’t liable. While we’re used to wildfires occurring along the Southwest’s urban/wildland interfaces, in Santa Rosa whole neighborhoods surrounded by neighborhoods were totally incinerated because the fire moved from house to house. So, in the future, when it’s unseasonably hot, dry and blustery, one house can catch fire and, unless it’s nipped in the bud, burn down a whole neighborhood, subdivision or town. Turns out today’s suburban houses are tinderboxes just like the tenements of old.

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire killed 300+ people. It burned 3.3 square miles, destroyed 17,500+ wooden tenements and left 100,000+ people homeless. Immediately the city started rebuilding, this time using native stone and bricks wherever practical. As best they could, Chicagoans learned from their mistakes.

Between 1975 and 1982, I worked four logging shows out along the North Fork of the Navarro “River.” I helped the watershed go from having some really nice stands of second-growth redwood and Doug fir timber into a clear-cut, brush and tanoak-choked wasteland. But once we started clear-cutting baby redwoods in order to “pulp” them as if they were Georgia pecker pole pines, that’s when a lot of fellahs, including myself, pulled the plug. Lots of ways to make a living in the woods without having to rob future generations. Not to mention how felling little baby trees on steep ground was more exhausting and dangerous and paid a whole lot less than felling real trees. All and all the waste and stupidity made us want to spit.

But I never saw the Redwood Belt as forest fire country. Never saw the North Fork watershed, or Anderson Valley, as tinderboxes. Never saw the ancient power poles lacing the hills and dales as clear and present dangers to life, limb and property. Makes me wonder: why haven’t people turned to the sun, wind and tides? Why do they choose PG&E?

* * *


Except there isn’t enough innovation that will put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Tech isn’t magically going to innovate us out of the coming horrors because tech relies on the very things that we will no longer have for it to work.

If supermarket and fuel deliveries become permanently interrupted we are going to be left with a lot of dead wood on our hands and nowhere to clear it out to.

I guess some people may get creative with their cuisine. I remember reading that people would use mummies for firewood - maybe we can find a way to dry out well enough all of the dead that will be littering the streets so they will burn – we will have to be innovative in order to keep warm during the colder winters that are on their way.

* * *

* * *


by Bruce McEwen, writing as serial novelist Mack Scott

In A Special Feature of his fictional characters (based on local people) with Sgt. Ryan Sabrina

Sgt. Ryan, formerly of the USMC was one of the few survivors. Most of the population of the United States had starved to death in the aftermath of a financial meltdown that began in the fall of 2020. Ryan and his crew had been shot down in their CH-53k Sikorsky “King Stallion” helicopter by a MANPAD shoulder-fired surface to air missile, launched at the chopper by the growers of a vast marijuana plantation in Mendocino county, in northern California, just as the financial meltdown began that fateful October Tuesday.

The USMC chopper and crew, trained to eradicate poppy fields in Afghanistan had been assigned to marijuana eradication duty in NorCal by the DEA to bring rogue pot growers into compliance with rules crafted by a bureaucracy of awesome cupidity. Quite expectedly, one might say, the growers revolted, going out in the backyard and digging up caches of US currency to purchase weapons —- strictly for defense and deterrence, to be sure, a phrase they'd learned from their government. A great many infantry weapons, incidentally, had been put up for sale on the black market after the armories of North African countries such as Libya had had their governments toppled by well-meaning American adventurers such as Sec. of State Hillary “Goddam” Clinton (as her detractors called her), and pot growers in Nor Cal could afford to pay hard cash for these lethal items.

Sgt. Ryan’s ship went down in the mountains, limping along with a serious loss of navigational options due to an unstanchable wound in the ship’s hydraulics, finally finding a suitable LZ (landing zone) where the great fires of 2018 had cleared away the trees and understory in a once-lush and verdant canyon with a spring-fed creek. It was ensconced in this now-bleak ashscape, with a few charcoal poles still upright where a great conifer forest recently stood.

When the ash and dust settled, Sgt. Ryan and his crew disembarked and immediately set up a field hospital for the two wounded crew members; then they laid out a perimeter with sentry posts, and fell to work on repairs.

Calls to the outside world had suddenly become extinct. Cell towers had been blown, along with bridges over gorges from southern Oregon to just north of Santa Cruz, on Highways 1 and 101. Interstate 5 had been the scene of some truly epic collisions and the resulting carnage, as millions of refugees, panicked from the financial crisis, had overloaded the huge North/South artery with desperate hordes emptying out of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and all the way down to San Diego; and as a result I-5 was a damned stream, as it were, of cars and trucks, wrecked and plundered, stinking to high heaven with the dead and rotting corpses of millions of refugees, overtaken by the meanest, most ruthless thugs – many of whom had been recently turned out of the prisons because of the state’s crumbling penal infrastructure; and these predators robbed, raped and murdered the poor devils trying to flee by the millions.

All along the Interstate, the In-and-Out burger joints and what-have-you off the exits suffered a similar fate. Until everything from Santa Rosa to Redding was pretty much a mulch of human corpses strewn through the sacked and burnt strip malls, and ransacked cars that choked the streets, and all the little business plazas and storefronts were equally devastated.

The pilot of the Sikorsky, Warrant Officer McKinley “Mack” Orton was severely wounded. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been treated with a compress bandage on his leg wound as soon or shortly after a piece of shrapnel from the MANPAD rocket opened a gash in his left thigh, but the crew corpsman, Seaman First Class Andrew “Doc” Schofield had been able to do anything. Ensign Scott Andrews, the co-pilot, was dead, killed outright, from a head wound that shattered and blew his Kevlar helmet completely off his head, and nearly decapitated him. With the ship shuddering violently from a damaged rotor, Doc simply couldn’t get to the skipper’s wound – he would have had to crawl over the pilot’s lap to get to the wound -- even if Mack had not ordered him, in a clinched-teeth growl, to “get the hell out of the cockpit, sailor!”

As it was, by the time they landed, Mack, the skipper of the ill-fated ship, had lost a lot of blood. That left three crewmen, Chief Petty Officer Clarence S. Crosbey, Crew Chief; Sergeant Randall “Rambo” Ryan, Observer; and Lance Corporal Richard Early, sometimes affectionately called, Reveille Dick, by his friends at the EM Club, or (among the NCOs of a certain age) Richard Pryor, as he was the only man of color aboard the aircraft carrier based helicopter.

Theoretically, USS Jefferson, the mothership, an LHA6 small aircraft carrier that handles a few Harrier jump-jets and several helicopters, officially called an American-Class Amphibious Assault Ship, was supposedly standing off Cape Mendocino, out of visual range from the headlands, awaiting return of Flight O991Z (“zippo” read backwards”). But since radio contact had evaporated with cell service, nobody on the Zippo’s crew took this morale boosting theory very seriously. They were on their own, they would have to improvise, overcome, and prevail or go down trying.

(Log in Next week for Chapter Duce, and meet the Sergeant’s love interest, Sabrina-The-Twentysomething-Witch who controls the biggest pot farm conglomerate in North America, Mother Mirth First!)

* * *

Here's a 'teaser' or 'trailer' for Episode 2 — a sidebar to the sales pitch:

There were three, count ‘em, three Rheinmetall .50 caliber machine guns from a Sikorsky CH-53k (“King Stallion” upgrade of the “Super Stallion”) the most powerful helicopter ever built, the rotor wash alone will flatten whole acres of poppies just from flying over, and firing the RMG .50 at enemy combatants… The Rheinmetall heavy machine gun, RMG .50 Cal. has a rate of fire reaching 600 rounds per minute – the old-school Browning machine gun (BMG .50 Cal.) M2 “Ma Deuce” we lovingly called ‘er…sigh) which I had mounted on my old M35 6x6 “Deuce-and-a-half” (two-and-a-half ton tactical truck) back in 1969 – and the M2, as I recall, only had a cyclical rate of about 450 rpm (rounds per minute).

L/Cpl. Early had charge of any and all of these electrically fired, German crafted machine guns, superb weapons of mind-boggling powers, which had been shown in congressional studies to be, at the very last, 10x more accurate and easily a 100x cheaper than the M134 mini-gun, designed by the spendthrift ballistics cadre at their GE tilt-tables, slide-rules and T-squares, whose motto, if memory serves, was sung by a choir of teens, “we bring good things to lite (pronounced “life’ or something very like)”—sure, the M134 delivers 100 rounds per second, between tick and tock, right on the target, the whole amount is paid in full on the target, but the target was a naked man scurrying into a rabbit hole, and all these expensive bullets are arriving with the velocity of bandsaw teeth, at full cycle, the spent cartridges spilling like a golden waterfall under the breach of the gun, and you can cut cars in half with ‘em, with the bullets (a .308 Winchester, is it’s ballistic pedigree) but the expense is prohibitive. The RMG .50, also electric, is far more conservative in its kill ratio. It’s Bonnie & Clyde v. Thelma & Louise... And the readership will see how this all ties in, even if the author never does, so log on next week, take out a five-year subscription and read on!

* * *

* * *

HEY, I have my own sexual abuse story, and it’s way worse than Christine Ford’s. You’ll have to take my word for it — or not — because it’s my business. But it irks me to feel obliged to trot out my Official Abused Person credentials, without which I’ve apparently no right to pass comment. The last year, that’s been the take-away: every woman needs a tale of sexual violation to secure standing. No ‘survival’, and you have to shut up.

But I do have standing. Thus I can testify that what happened to me does not haunt my adulthood unduly, does not explain all my problems, and did not result in a host of ineradicable neuroses. I don’t mean that others who still battle demons as a consequence of sexual trauma simply need to suck it up. I mean only to establish that moving on is possible, and to suggest that we start celebrating resilience as well as baring our scars.

Besides, all sins of the flesh are not equally grave. I’m betting that plenty of men also found Christine Ford’s testimony overwhelmingly underwhelming. In this climate, they’d be foolish to say so publicly, but that doesn’t change what they think.

That awful expression ‘rape culture’ puts penetration at knifepoint and unwanted knee-touching under the same indiscriminate umbrella. Such zero-tolerance levelling is not in women’s long-term interest. It portrays us as hypersensitive if not hysterical, dangerous to consort with and lacking in common sense. Democrats’ pumping up of Ford’s moderately unpleasant story into a tear-inducing tragedy reinforces the worst of stereotypes: that we women are little birds so terrifyingly delicate that a mere brush against adversity leaves us broken-winged for life.

I ain’t no little bird.

— Lionel Shriver



  1. George Hollister October 15, 2018

    Two of President Trump’s policies have bi-partisan support, and will be hard to change in the near future regardless of which party controls Congress, or the Presidency. Those are his policies on trade, and immigration.

  2. james marmon October 15, 2018

    Public safety power shutdown affects thousands of Lake County residents; most school districts to be closed Monday

    “…the outages began for 3,400 Clearlake residents, nearly 4,500 residents in Hidden Valley Lake and Middletown, and about 800 more customers in the Glenhaven and Clearlake Oaks areas, where the last of the outages began at 8:40 p.m., according to PG&E records.”

    Thankfully, I was not one of the Clearlake residents who lost their power. I was worried that some idiot in my neighborhood (the Ave’s) would start a fire with a candle or lantern.

    James Marmon (aka Mr. Rogers)

  3. Harvey Reading October 15, 2018

    Re: COINCIDENTALLY, we noticed in the October 11 issue …

    It’s kinda funny to consider that a county obviously unable to govern itself, even with the assistance of state funding, has people in it who want to secede from California and become “independent”, as the state of Hemings; oops, that is to say the state of Hemings’s slave-raping owner/”lover”.

  4. Harvey Reading October 15, 2018

    Hang in there, McEwen, and keep on writing. I’m no real judge, but it seems to me your writing has improved a lot.

  5. Bruce McEwen October 15, 2018

    55 years ago today, October 15, 1963, the Cuban Missile crisis began when the U2 flight over the Island came back with proof positive that the Russians were backing Cuba up, despite Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy’s and President Kennedy’s insistence that it wasn’t true!

    It’s hard to come away from reading Seymour Hersch’s The Dark Side of Camelot, and not be convinced that those two privileged boys, Bobby and Jack, got just what they had coming, no matter who was behind the two assassinations.

    • Harvey Reading October 16, 2018

      Too bad “Teddy” didn’t spend the rest of his life in prison after killing Mary Jo. Seems oddly appropriate that he and McCain both died of brain cancer.

  6. Eric Sunswheat October 15, 2018

    Hemp would be removed from the federal list of illegal drugs by one version of the upcoming 2018 federal Farm Bill. If that language is passed, consumers would see hemp in products from clothing to cookies to cosmetics.

    Because Minnesota’s climate is perfectly suited for growing hemp, said Vaubel, the once-illegal plant would join corn and soybeans as leading crops in Minnesota.

    Hemp is grown for the long, silky strands used in clothing, such as the original Levi’s jeans. The seeds are nutritious, and the oil is believed to have health benefits.

Leave a Reply

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