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MCT: Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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As of 5:50 PM on 2/26/2019 the Mendocino County Sheriff has issued an evacuation warning due to flooding along the Russian River in the greater Ukiah Valley area as well as the Hopland area. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the Office of Emergency Services, along with the City of Ukiah, Hopland Fire, Ukiah Valley Fire, Cal Fire, Coastal Valley EMS, and the National Weather Service (NOAA) Eureka Office has been monitoring the current storm as it passes through Mendocino County. The storm is expected to deliver a significant amount of rain in the Russian River drainage by 1:00 AM on 2/27/2019. This rain, in addition the rain already saturating the area, is expected to cause moderate flooding to the Ukiah area and Hopland. The river is expected to start flooding low lying areas as early as 7:00 PM and is anticipated to crest nearer to 1:00 AM.  The flood waters are expected to recede by late morning on 2/27/2019.

This flooding is expected to flood low lying areas near Perkins Street, Oak Manor Drive, and Babcock Lane in the Ukiah area as well as State Highway 222 (Talmage Road) in Talmage, and Old River Road as well as Highway 175 in Hopland. There is a possibility that the water could rise high enough to cause a closer to Highway 101 in Hopland. The evacuation warning area can be viewed on the below listed map link.

This evacuation warning is designed to inform the public and allow preparation time to gather important and necessary belongings well in advance of an evacuation order. The public is encouraged to seek a more secure location, prior to an evacuation order being given, if they feel their current location is at risk of flooding.

The above agencies have coordinated to provide public safety resources on the east side of the Russian River should that area become isolated due to flooding. Evacuation Shelters are going to be opened at 8:00 PM for people displaced by flooding. There will be a shelter opened at the Veterans Memorial Building at 293 Seminary Avenue in Ukiah, and another at the Mendocino County Office of Education in Talmage at 2240 Old River Road.

There is also an evacuation warning for residents on Navarro River Road, in Elk, due to flooding along the Navarro River. The flooding along the Navarro River is expected to recede by early afternoon on 2/27/2019.

The Sheriff's Office would like to remind the public not to drive across roads that are covered with water as the roadway can be undermined by flood waters and the damage might not be visible to motorist.

(Mendocino County Sheriff's Office)

From: Nicholas Wilson [MCN-Announce]
Date: Wed, February 27, 2019 1:39 am

Both 128 and 1 are closed at the usual locations and there is mandatory evacuation in the Russian River watershed. News announced Ukiah Schools will stay closed Wednesday due to the weather emergency.

The Navarro gauge passed the 30 ft. Moderate Flood stage just before midnight and is still climbing rapidly toward a forecast crest of 35.6, which would put it 1.6 ft. above the 34 ft. Major Flood stage boundary. The gauge reading was 32.22 at 1:15 AM

The river level graph seems to be tracking a few hours later than the forecast, so the crest may come later, and so may the fall below the 23 ft. flood stage, which is currently predicted for about noon-thirty Wednesday. The timing of hitting that 23 ft. mark could determine if the highway can be reopened late Wednesday after being cleared of mud and debris.

My latest storm total rainfall is 5.34 inches at this writing, and radar shows several hours more of moderate rain before it tapers off. There have been several power glitches and two brief outages tonight, but PG&E was on as I prepare to shut down.

The storm is really pounding the counties south of us. One station in the Russian River watershed had over 18" of rain in 24 hours.

Here's a link to the Western Rainbow Loop animated imagery from the GOES-West weather satellite. It covers the whole West Coast and enough of the Pacific Ocean that you can see what's coming a few days in advance. It has interactive settings you can try out to speed or slow it, or cover a longer or shorter period. Highly recommended:

—Nicholas Wilson

The picture is a Caltrans picture of flooding happening Tuesday night in Hopland. The picture is taken from the Hopland Farms General Store gas pumps (across from Brutocao) looking south towards Burgers My Way and the gas station at the Y.

The water in the foreground is at the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 175. Unless absolutely necessary, stay in tonight.

—Posted by DA Eyster, Tuesday 8:15 pm


Thousands of people were ordered to leave homes along the Russian River on Tuesday before they were overtaken by rising floodwaters as an atmospheric river stalled over Sonoma County, inundating the region with unprecedented amounts of rain.

LOCAL TWO-DAY PRECIPITATION TOTALS (since beginning of storm):

  • 7.78 inches: Boonville
  • 10.64 inches: Yorkville

2018/19 SEASONAL TOTALS (thus far):

  • Boonville: 39.58 inches
  • Yorkville: 52.28 inches

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by Anne Fashauer

February has flown past and here it is almost the end of the month and so many of my monthly tasks remain undone. February is personally busy because of my husband’s birthday and our “date anniversary” of the 13th; on top of that we were busy with a charity wine tasting in San Francisco (for the Mission YMCA) and the usual round of new listings, photography for said listings and showings on those and other listings.

And then yesterday I was called for jury duty in Ukiah.

We spent Van’s birthday in the Berkeley area; it is his mom’s birthday also, so we all stayed overnight down there. The big event was going to a Warriors game at what I can’t help but still call the Coliseum, but is now named Oracle Arena. The Warriors led for most of the game and it wasn’t very exciting, until the fourth quarter, when suddenly they were neck and neck and the game literally came down to the last second when the Warriors made a basket, broke the other team’s lead and won the game. Whew. I enjoyed myself thoroughly!

Our date anniversary is the 13th, when, for our first date, I met basically all of Van’s immediate family (son, daughter, soon to be son-in-law) and then attended a Valentine’s dance. For this anniversary, we simply had dinner at the MacCallum House in Mendocino.

My call for jury duty was more interesting than I had anticipated. I have served on a jury once before in the mid-1990’s, a Superior Court trial in Oakland. This time I was one of probably 70-80 folks called; 45 were actually selected and sent to the courtroom. I had shared a ride with another Boonvillian, so once I was freed, I went up to the courtroom to watch/listen to the proceedings.

The first thing I noticed was the interesting people to be found in our County. So many different people with so many different livelihoods; single, married, with grown children or small children or grandchildren. At one point Judge Faulder made the comment that the hardest part of his job was not being able to ask more questions and get to know these folks better – and I have to agree as I wanted to know them more too!

The procedure of general questions followed by more specific ones from the attorneys was interesting; it also brought about considerations of who would be released and who wouldn’t. There were no surprises in those that got released due to answers given but there were surprises for folks who seemed innocuous but that the attorneys deemed a poor fit for this particular trial. My friend was called up for the second round but was released fairly soon and we were on our way home. I’m still curious to know the outcome of that trial, not that it was very “sexy,” but that it was like a story with the ending left off.

So it has been a full month, with a couple of days to go. It’s going to be raining but spring is on its way.

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Due to the chance of rain on Saturday, we are moving the bicycle sale indoors! Please see the new location - 825 South Franklin St. (Old Social Services building)

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FROM NPR'S WEBSITE: "Steve Inskeep is known for probing questions to everyone from presidents to warlords to musicians, Inskeep has a passion for stories of the less famous—like an American soldier who lost both feet in Afghanistan, or an Ethiopian woman's extraordinary journey to the United States."

I USUALLY LISTEN to Morning Edition while I'm out walking in the morning because KZYX is the only fm station I can pick up, the rest of the dial being heavy on AM love yawps. Anyway and ahem, as a paid-up member of the cult-like radio station, I would like to say that Inskeep is the second most irritating NPR "reporter" among NPR's array of chuckling irritants inflicted on us dues payers.

MONDAY MORNING, Inskeep, who often re-phrases what guests have just said, distorting their remarks as he goes, functioned as cheerleader for a dissident member of the Brit Labor Party who denounced her former colleagues as "anti-Semites" and "Stalinists," characterizing Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and people close to him as the "hard left." The great speaker-of-truth-to-power, Inskeep, didn't challenge any of this grotesque slander, and NPR can be counted on not to give the Corbyn people equal time. The way it works among Zionist fanatics is any criticism of the apartheid, crypto-fascist state of Israel is denounced as anti-Semitic, and anybody who self-identifies as a socialist, is "hard left" or a Stalinist. And so it goes with fake news, lib division.

AND DARNED if Inskeep this morning (Tuesday) didn't repeat a truncated version of Monday's slanders, bringing on Tony Blair, arguably the most despised man in England for his role as W. Bush's poodle in the Middle East disaster, to second the motion! I know a lot of Mendo people listen to NPR in the morning — far more listen than pay for the privilege — but unless they also tune in Jeff Blankfort's antidote every couple of weeks on KZYX, listeners are getting a lot more untruth about Middle East politics than they are honest reporting.

WARREN BUFFETT, the billionaire investor, says wealthy people such as himself are not paying enough taxes. It's not the first time Buffett has said the wealthy aren't paying their fair share, but when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans you'd have thought the Bolsheviks were storming the White House.

SHARON GARNER POSTED this harrowing story to the attention of Supervisor Williams:

"Last night, a KZYX programmer had finished his show, left the station with his partner and proceeded to drive home on Hwy 128 toward Little River around 10pm. There were NO road closed signs put up by CalTrans to warn drivers. He hit water so deep that the car started floating and he and his partner had to abandon the car through the window! He lost his car, but they have their lives. CalTrans was completely aware of this possibility and should have been able to get the proper signs up. We had torrential rains all day and flooding was predicted! How many other people lost their cars or could have died because of CalTrans's not paying enough attention and warning people?!

The reason I know about this is my husband, Steve Garner, has a show right after the programmer's show, but was there to assist during pledge drive. Steve was called at the station and was told what happened at around 10:45pm. He and his partner were picked up by some people as they were walking toward safety (they had no cell service). They were taken home via Comptche. He called the station as soon as he got home so that Steve could warn other drivers about the flooded Highway.

[Supervisor] Ted Williams, is there anything you can do about this? This person lost his car, a brand new car, because CalTrans was not doing their job. Just wanted to at least put this out there because other people may have had similar experiences.

Thank you for all of your hard work."

NATHAN ANDERSON THEN ADDED: "I went through the lower 128 around 9 o’clock. I have a 3500 dodge with 22-inch tires and the water was over the road in many places. It wasn’t because of the river going over the bank. It was because the culverts were failing to drain out the water. I never saw any Caltrans trucks all the way home. I got home and called the station while Dave’s show was still going. I told the man that answered the phone for my pledge. I told him that 128 was dangerous and that there was lots of water on the road. He said he would keep that in mind. I thought it was weird that he did not say We will put that on the air. I listened to the rest of the show and they said nothing about what I had said to them. If they would have listened to what I had to say and took it to heart and put it on the air, maybe they wouldn’t have lost their car. Caltrans should have had that road closed. It was really bad."

WAY BACK, before CalTrans got around to installing gates at either end of the 128 flood zone, episodes as described above were common, so common the gates were installed. Yesterday's downpour during the daylight hours was a sure sign that 128 would flood, and the gates would be pulled across the road. I drove to South Boonville (SoBo) a little before 5pm to see if Caltrans had the Road Closed sign in place, thinking that there'd already been sufficient rain to cause the Navarro to spill its banks within a couple of hours. The poor guy's adventure described above translates to me that Caltrans was tardy in closing off 128 at Navarro.

SOCO AUTHORITIES announced late Tuesday afternoon that people living on the Russian River in West Sonoma County should get out as what they say will be "the worst flooding in 22 years."

UP ON 253, the Boonville-Ukiah Road, the summer-long project to shore up the road about three miles up is holding, but just barely, and as the rains continue to pound down Tuesday afternoon into evening it may burst.

AND IN BOONVILLE, this tree seemingly fell in exactly the right spot, striking neither vehicle or home.

WHEN JAN THE MAIL LADY can't cross the Garcia on Highway One between Manchester and Point Arena, you know a serious rain has fallen on Mendocino County. Today, was one of those rare days. The intrepid Mrs. Walker, now into her fourth decade as our US Postal Service link with the outside world, drives from her Yorkville home to Cloverdale then back north and west to the old Point Arena Radar Station. And back again. Six days a week! To get the mail to and from Point Arena, Jan must cross the ordinarily placid Garcia River where it flows under Highway One and on across the Stornetta Ranch and out to the Pacific. It is a rare winter when the Garcia prevents Jan from completing the Point Arena leg of her daily journey. Today, Tuesday, was one of those days, and tomorrow, Wednesday, is likely to be another.

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The word "Irish" is seldom coupled with the word "civilization." When we think of peoples as civilized or civilizing, the Egyptians and the Greeks, the Italians and the French, the Chinese and the Jews may all come to mind. The Irish are wild, feckless, and charming, or morose, repressed, and corrupt, but not especially civilized.

—Thomas Cahill, "How the Irish Saved Civilization"

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 26, 2019

Alvarez, Davis, Dillenbeck, Fuentes-Lucero

EDUARDO ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Parole violation.

JOSHUA DAVIS, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.

BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Albion. Public nuisance, battery on peace officer, trespassing/refusing to leave, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

ANDRES FUENTES-LUCERO, Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

Guevara, Henderson, Herbstritt, Hodson

JOSHUA GUEVARA, Talmage. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

ROBERT HENDERSON, Ukiah. Domestic battery.


LOUIS HODSON, Philo. Domestic battery.

Jack, McGahey, Moore

RHANDA JACK, Ukiah. Petty theft/retail, petty theft/bicycle, probation revocation.

PENNY MCGAHEY, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury, hit&run resulting in death or injury.

KEVIN MOORE, Stockton/Hopland. Under influence.

Naeve, Pacheco, Warner

CHRIS NAEVE, Novato/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

NICOLE PACHECO, San Jose/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

MALISSA WARNER, Ukiah. Parole violation.

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Part travel guide, part survival guide, The Negro Motorist Green Book was an invaluable tool in helping black motorists safely navigate the country. Our new documentary The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, premieres 2/25 at 8, and you can watch it now on the Smithsonian Channel Plus app.

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The people who run the porn business are not sex radicals. You’d be surprised how many of the producers and manufacturers are Republicans.
— Nina Hartley, registered nurse, porn star

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When ground is paved over or roofed-over structures are built, water that would normally soak into the ground up to its saturation point is diverted into creeks and storm drains, flowing eventually to the ocean.

When rain falls in the Tahoe Basin, a major part of that stormwater is directed into dry wells, eventually replenishing the groundwater with at least some of what was cut off by pavement and roofing.

For years, many unkind words were directed toward the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, but one doesn’t hear much criticism now, at least not about the mandated salvage of rainwater.

Why, one wonders, is this not common practice everywhere? And why was it not included in editorial comments about saving rainwater?

Raymond Alden


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Having your novel made into a movie is like having your ox made into bouillon cubes.
— John Le Carre

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HARM REDUCTION, originally a controversial public-health measure, has become a religion among advocates, even as fears that the practice would normalize drug use have been borne out. Organizations like the San Francisco Drug Users Union demand “a safe environment where people can use & enjoy drugs” and a “positive image of drug users to engender respect within our community and from outside our community.”

True believers dominate City Hall as well as a network of affiliated, politicized nonprofits that operate in the city with little oversight or accountability. In this environment, questioning harm reduction or its effects borders on heresy. But are the programs actually helping impoverished addicts? And what is the impact on the community?

The Department of Public Health distributes 4.45 million needles each year to the city’s 22,000 intravenous drug users. Heroin and prescription opioids are the most injected substances, though use of methamphetamines and Fentanyl is on the rise.

It’s true that sterile needles reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections, and injecting narcotics under supervision can lower the risk of overdose and death. But harm reduction goes far beyond promoting these kinds of needle-safety measures.

For example, At the Crossroads, a nonprofit, assembled “safe snorting kits” for at-risk and homeless youth. Baggies were filled with straws, chopping mats, plastic razor blades, and instruction sheets. Other groups offer crack-cocaine “safe-smoking” kits.

A proposal to open “safe injection” sites, opposed by Jerry Brown, is favored by Governor Gavin Newsom, and is likely to succeed.

Harm-reduction efforts are sometimes sold as ways to connect with addicts, offer them other services, and help them get off drugs. But those laudable goals are not really what motivate advocates, who want mostly to remove the stigma surrounding drug use.

Addicts may eventually pursue treatment or stop using on their own, but a central principle of harm-reduction theory is accepting and respecting drug use. As a result, an astonishing number of addicts on San Francisco streets hover on the edge of death despite a continuous supply of clean needles.

Visit city neighborhoods ranging from the iconic Union Square and the Financial District to historically troubled areas such as the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and South of Market, and the unintended consequences of harm reduction become hard to ignore.

The advocates have certainly succeeded in reducing stigma—it’s easy to find people openly injecting into their arms, legs, toes, and necks. Their exposed flesh shows infected sores; they stumble, fall, and pass out. There seem to be more of them, and in worse condition, every day. Addicts congregate on sidewalks, in parks, subway stations, and outside businesses. They die in school doorways…

Meantime, quality of life in the city continues to erode. Tourism is threatened, retailers close, and families leave. Yet harm-reduction zealots remain adamant in their views. During public discussions about safe-injection sites, they dismiss legitimate concerns about increased drug-dealing, burglaries, violence, and vagrancy.

In community meetings, Department of Public Health representatives disregard residents’ misgivings. Typical complaints—“Why are you doing this? Bloody needles are everywhere, people are injecting in front of my kid’s preschool, I’m afraid to take my dog for a walk”—are met with responses that usually begin, “This is harm reduction.” In San Francisco’s brave new world, there is no room for the skeptic…

— Erica Sandberg in City Journal

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Overhead view of the Four Level Interchange, 1959. (Photo California Historical Society.)

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Glenn Close’s gown weighed forty pounds.

For comparison’s sake, an NHL goalie wears thirty-five pounds of equipment.

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Testing bulletproof vests, 1923

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On the evening of March 1, as part of Ukiah’s First Friday Art Walk, the Grace Hudson Museum will host an opening reception for its new exhibition, "Gathering Light: The Photographic Visions of Aryan Chappell, Roger Franklin, Amy Melious, and Robert Taylor." The four artists will be on hand to talk about the exhibition, which looks at the arc of their photographic careers. All of the artists cite Mendocino County as a place of lasting inspiration. The Museum will be open on March 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. Visitors are also invited to explore the Wild Gardens and the Museum’s exhibition galleries devoted to Grace Hudson’s paintings, exquisite Pomo basketry, and the Hudson-Carpenter family history. As on all First Fridays, the event is free and open to the general public. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please visit or call 467-2836.

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by Meredith Blasingame

February 1, 2019, The Guardsman [Community College of San Francisco]

Activist, journalist and documentary photographer, David Bacon has dedicated his life to social activism. Mild-mannered and matter-of-fact with a quiet sense of humor, Bacon has a way of putting people at ease-a skill that has no doubt served him well through many years of labor organizing and taking photographs to reveal and resolve inequities.

Bacon was born in New York City where his father, a printer and the head of the Book and Magazine Guild union, was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He grew up in Oakland, and his father and mother gave him a first-hand look at what it takes to organize a group of people behind a common cause.

"Organizing and printers ink both run in the blood," he says, referring to the fact that he, like his father, worked as a printer for a time. Bacon worked to organize a union during his first job as a factory worker, launching a career that spanned two decades, both as a factory worker and union organizer. He has worked with the United Farm Workers, the International Ladies Garment Workers, and other labor organizations.

Bacon's time as a union organizer evolved into documentary photography and journalism in the mid-1980s. Today he documents labor, the global economy, war and migration, and the struggle for human rights. He has written for publications including The Nation, The American Prospect, TruthOut and In These Times, and he is the author of several books.

In the prologue to his most recent book. In the Fields of the North/En Los Campos del Norte (2017), Bacon states, "For three decades I've used a method that combines photographs with interviews and personal histories. Part of the purpose is the 'reality check;' the documentation of social reality, including poverty, homelessness, migration and displacement."

"The Reality Check" is also the name of Bacon's blog, where he documents topics ranging from the working conditions of Iraqi oil refineries to California farm workers to hotel and school workers on the job.

I sat down with the documentary photographer to learn more about his career path, his goals and motivations, lessons from the field, and next steps in his lifelong mission to sow the seeds of change.

MB: How did you get into photography?

DB: I was into it as a teenager, but my camera got stolen and life moved on. I didn't come back to it until later.

I was a union organizer for a number of years. In the mid-1980s, I picked up a camera again to take pictures of the strikes that we would organize. That beginning was utilitarian in a way - to publicize strikes, give prints to people on the picket line to take home to their families to show that they were standing up. Then I began to realize that the photographs themselves had a meaning beyond what I was using them for, in that they were a documentation, especially at that point, of the changing demographics of the workforce - especially in factories here in the East Bay.

On the one hand, we had a lot of factory closures. Also, lots of Mexicans and Central Americans were coming into the workforce. Before I got there, Black workers had broken racial barriers at work too, so you could see that. The photographs showed this, and people's response to it, which in my case was to organize unions and go on strike. That was the root of the kind of work that I did, and in a way it still really has a lot in common with what I do.

MB: You were a factory worker at one point. Is that how you first got involved in union organizing?

DB: Yes and no. I needed a job. I had kids and a family, and I needed an income. But also in the 60s and 70s radical movement a lot of people thought that workers were going to be the engine for social change. It was important to be in the factory; it was important to be where workers were to help people organize. So pretty much as soon as I started going to work, I started trying to organize unions. I got fired from a printing shop in San Francisco for doing that, as well as from other jobs, including from National Semiconductor in Silicon Valley.

MB: At what point did photojournalism become a large portion of your work?

DB: I started working for unions partly because I was really interested. The first union I worked for was the farm workers. I think it was partly because I wanted to understand. I grew up in Oakland. I didn't know anything about farm workers or Mexicans or Spanish. The union taught me about all those things. It was a real education for me. That's still part of what I'm doing today. My latest book included oral histories of farm workers in California, which goes directly back to that experience.

But also, especially after I got fired and blacklisted in Silicon Valley, working for unions made sense. It seemed like important work - helping to build the union. I did that for a long time - over 20 years.

At the end of that, I started taking pictures and writing short articles about what we were doing, and it kind of took over my life. It became more important. I took classes in the photography program at Laney College in Oakland, while I also worked as an organizer. That was a little crazy because organizers don't have a lot of free time. But I could begin to see that I really liked doing this work and that I thought it was important. Also, I looked at it as being another form of organizing.

Organizing people is really all about changing the way people think. Organizers do it by holding house meetings or talking to people at work. If you do the kind of work I do, you're really still trying to change the way people think, but you're doing it through different means - sort of on a broader scale but also less directly.

For instance, I just did a big project on documenting the Marriott hotel strike in the Bay Area, all the way from last March when they were first thinking about it to the end of the strike. It's still basically trying to document what happens to us as working people - what our lives are like, but also with a perspective of seeing us as actors, as social actors.

We're not just victims of bad circumstances. We are also capable of changing them, and in fact I think that's the process that's really the most interesting - the combination where you see the world that people are living in, and how people respond to it, and then what they do. And that's kind of my approach to writing and photography both; that's what I'm doing.

MB: When you say "we," who do you mean?

DB: When I say what happens to "us" as workers, I'm talking about workers as a whole, in general. But obviously, some working people are at more of a disadvantage than others. Some people are more conscious than others. Some people do something about it and other people don't. I mean - how many workers are there in the United States? We are not just a majority of the population, we are like 80 or 85% of the people who live in this country. So obviously, there's an enormous, huge, variety. That's one of the things that makes this fascinating.

MB: What is it that you think actually makes people do something about it? Out of all of those people, there's a large portion that doesn't proactively work for change.

DB: First of all, generally speaking, people still need to be pushed into it. Usually. Not always. You know, in my generation, a lot of people got swept up in the civil rights movement, in the anti-war movement, and went into workplaces to help organize workers. That was a product of people's political understanding, I guess you would say. But that's by far not the way most people wind up becoming part of social movements in this country.

Usually, people are responding to a crisis in their lives or a general feeling of frustration or dissatisfaction. Looking for answers. And that is very widespread in this country. I think that most people, actually, are frustrated and angry and looking for answers. But we are taught, as people in this country, to be distrustful of politics, cynical, and kind of susceptible to hot button quick answers, without really having to try to understand how the system works. One of the obstacles that organizers have to overcome is that you have to help people understand how the system here works - that Trump-type answers - "build the wall" - are not good answers for us. But to help people understand why that's not a good answer, for instance, they have to understand why people are coming here to begin with.

So it's a process. I think it's a combination of the pressure on people and people's feelings of anger and frustration about it, but also things that set off sparks in people's minds, that help them think more deeply about their situation. And that can be a lot of things. It can be reading books, or some organizer knocks on your door, or reading about Bernie Sanders in the newspaper and saying, "God, that makes sense to me." But it's that combination of the impact of ideas and the base of circumstances. It's not to say that comfortable people don't struggle, because they do. But I think the big motivating force for change in this country comes out of social and economic crisis.

For example, the anti-war movement had a lot to do with the fact that we had a draft. Young people had to think about whether or not they wanted to go, and what the war was about. And the civil rights movement had to do with the unbearable conditions for African American people in a lot of parts of the South, plus this rising idea that we're not going to take it anymore and that we don't have to. You can trace it to people coming home from WWII, to having seen something of the world. You can trace it to radical organizations in the South, that agitated over all those years against lynching and for civil rights. Those seeds got planted and finally they grew. So I think that's how social change takes place.

So what's my part in it? I used to be on the organizer side and now I'm on the idea planting side. But really, they're so closely related that it's hard to tell them apart sometimes.

MB: For migrant workers who are undocumented, is there a disincentive to organize due to the risks associated with their undocumented status, or have you seen instances of undocumented workers organizing?

DB: I went to work with the United Farm Workers Union in the 70s, which is when I first started learning about immigration and immigrant rights. I saw my first immigration raid, and tried to understand what it was like to be Mexican living in the United States. That's when I first started getting interested in Mexico. If things are as bad as they are for people here, I thought, then why are people coming here? That led to a whole interest in Mexico, and now I write a lot about Mexico.

I'm an activist - a journalist, or an activist documentarian. One of the places where that activism happens is in the immigrant rights movement. I've been an immigrant rights activist for a long long time. The first people who taught me about it were farm workers. One of the things I could see was that, as you said, not having papers makes it riskier to go out on strike or join a union. But it doesn't stop people. In fact, most of the people who belong to the United Farm Workers union are undocumented. So obviously it didn't stop people. It's not to say that there aren't conflicts between people who have papers and those who don't. But certainly I could see that people were willing to struggle.

My work as an organizer was almost always talking with immigrants and people of color, and a lot of it talking with people who had no papers in foundries and factories. That was mostly who we were organizing.

So it wasn't just learning that people could do it, but trying to figure out as an organizer, with those workers, how they could defend themselves against the risk you're talking about. What you can do if your boss threatens to call the migra on you. What to do if the migra actually shows up at the factory where you're working. Very practical questions like that also lead to a certain level of political immigrant rights activism.

I've been part of working groups to change immigration laws, with big debates over whether we need to have enforcement, or what the border should look like. I'm very involved in that too.

In fact a new book I'm working on is about the border. It's trying to look at the border, not just as a wall, and not just a place people cross in order to come here, but as s a place where people live. It is also, especially on the Mexican side, the scene of lots and lots of social movements and social struggles about the conditions for people there. It comes from almost 30 years of photographs and interviews, which try to document the border as a region of people in movement.

MB: So what seeds are you trying to sow through projects like that?

DB: You know, I originally called my blog the "reality check," because the idea is that, if we're going to talk about immigration laws or migration or the workplace, let's look at who's there. What do those situations look like? Let's listen to the people who are there, and then try and figure out what to do based on that. So that's what the seed planting idea is. When I was an organizer, I used to write a lot of leaflets, which were urging people to immediate action - go on strike or boycott or whatever. I had to cure myself of that when I started, to move away from being an organizer and work as a journalist.

So now what it's trying to do is to draw a picture of the world, or part of it, in an accurate way, in a fair way, but certainly in a partisan way too.

I don't believe in neutrality. I don't think that anyone is really neutral about anything. I have a war with journalism schools and the way that they treat neutrality in journalism, because I think often that is used as a pretext for ensuring that the politics that appear in the newspaper reflect the editorial position of the owners and the people who manage it.

If you read the foreign coverage of the New York Times no one in their wildest imagination would believe that this is objective journalism. The reports don't even pretend it is. They just try to assume this is the only way you can possibly see the world. But objective and neutral?! Not in a million years.

We choose what to write about; choose who to talk to; choose whose eyes we're gonna take a look at the world through {or the lens through which you tell a story]. Our mainstream media looks at the world through the eyes of people who have power. Unfortunately, where working people and people of color appear in our media world, they generally tend to appear as victims. There is a certain muckraking tradition in journalism here and a lot of lip service is paid to it, but it doesn't necessarily see people as actors very much, who are able to change it. I very consciously try to do the work I do in a way that pays attention to how people analyze their world and change it.

For example, I wrote a long political biography of Rufino Dominguez about a year ago, right after he died. Rufino, apart from being a friend, was a very crucial figure in the migration of people from Oaxaca to the United States, and helped to organize some very important organizations both here and in Oaxaca. I was trying to present the ideas he contributed - and he contributed to some really brilliant ones. He talked about the duality, for instance, of the fight for the rights of migrants in the countries they're going to, as well as fighting for the right to not migrate in the places people are coming from. In other words, there have to be political and economic alternatives in the towns where people are growing up so that a young person can actually decide, in a voluntary way, whether to leave and go to the US, or whether to stay and have a future with dignity. Rufino was a very important person in developing that idea. In fact, I was so enamored of that idea that I wrote a book about it called The Right to Stay Home.

The whole biography tried to figure out Rufino's political history. Where did he come from politically? What were the currents of thought that helped him to develop both the ability to organize people and also his ideas. This is really a very important part of documentary work. We listen to how people analyze their world and understand the ideas that they come up with. We don't just treat people as victims.

MB: Do you photograph people in Mexico to highlight circumstances there as well?

DB: Absolutely. That border book I was talking about - there's a section in the book called "Communities of Resistance." This is a Mexican phrase, and they are communities along that northern part of Mexico, along the border. If you go back 60 or 70 years, very few people lived there. Now there are cities of millions of people. So one of the things that's happened is that people - poor people - have sometimes organized themselves to take over land owned by the Federal government. Before they changed Mexico's constitution, basically to help investors become secure in their land-holding titles, people could settle on Federal land if nobody else was there. They changed the constitution to throw that out because, you know, it was not a good policy for attracting foreign investment.

There are a number of communities where I have taken photographs, settled by people who were looking for a place to live. Because they're communities of very poor people, the first thing you see in the photographs is how poor they are. But they are also communities willing to create these settlements, and to do that, you have to fight the government. The government's going to bring in the police and try to stir up contra movements within your own community. Leaders will be sent to prison. So these are very activist communities. And some of the struggles in the factories to organize independent unions have come out of those communities. They're really interesting to me because they have this combination, and you can see it visually. You can see the poverty of people but you can also see them in action. It's the way I try to document what's happening in Mexico - looking at that combination of things over and over and over again. It's real easy in Mexico.

MB: When you take photographs, what are you looking for in a "good" photograph - one that is trying to convey your desired message or achieve your desired result?

DB: I'm not basically a landscape photographer, so usually its people. One of the things I'm looking for is emotion - a feeling of intimacy, a feeling of closeness. I was at Horace Mann Elementary School in Frank Lara's class (a teacher and community activist in the Mission). You know, kids are fun. They're very aware you're there and have this desire to mug for you and you have to wait for it to pass. But they're also very accepting so it's easy to get close.

I take a lot of photos with a wide angle lens - getting really close so you can see the person big in the frame but you can also see the context. That's sort of a classic environmental portraiture technique.

Timing. You know, still photographs are a slice [in time] - they're different before and different afterwards. You're just going to pick out that one moment. You're always looking for moments - you're trying to predict what's going to happen and where you want to be. I've been doing this for a long time, and it gets to the place where I'm not really thinking about it. Some of it feels below the level of consciousness - I'm in the zone. You have to trust yourself and develop your instinct to do that, and timing is a very important part of it. Watching people and seeing what's going on with them. I'm always looking for people expressing something with the way that they're moving or the expression on their face.

MB: I read that, from your perspective, photos and writing individually are not as strong as they are together. How do they work best together?

DB: It works in two or three different ways. The classic way is - for example, the latest book that I have [In the Fields of the North/En los campos del norte] is basically photos and oral histories. Even the captions on the photos are sometimes extended quotes from someone in the picture. We're listening to voices and looking at the images and the combination is giving us a much richer idea of that part of the world and the people in it - what they think, what they have to say, what they look like. You're getting a deeper understanding. So that's one way of doing it.

There's another way. I do a lot of writing. For example, I covered a meeting between a farm workers union in Baja California and one in Washington State. I wrote about the things they found they had in common with each other - which was a lot. So the article was illustrated by photographs of some of the people quoted in the article, or who the article talked about. The photos are used to illustrate the story.

Generally speaking, especially now, I don't think I will actually sell an article without pictures. If you want an article from me, you have to run the pictures. I don't have to fight so much [with editors] anymore because they know this is what I do and they like it.

Occasionally I'll do what I call photo essays. They're really basically a string of photographs together. Newspapers, magazines, and websites are run by editors who are word people. They will almost never run a selection of photographs made up of just the photographs, or photos with captions. They'll want a story, even if it's a brief one. So I'll give them the story. But they're really pieces that are carried by the photographs. So that's another way of doing it.

I think in some journalism schools, young photographers are taught that the photograph must be iconic, meaning that it has to stand by itself regardless of the context, with no explanation. I find this a kind of problematic idea. Especially in documentary work, context is very important. You can change the meaning of a photo by changing the context in which someone is looking at it.

Words and images react with each other to produce the politics. So when they talk about the iconic image, journalism schools are trying to pull the politics out of journalism - a way of making it more conservative, more acceptable to the New York Times' owners or whatever.

Think of the young girl naked running down the road with smoke rising from the burning village behind her [Nick Ut's photograph of the child fleeing the bombing of her village during the Vietnam war]. You can understand that picture without knowing it's the Vietnam War. I think most people will understand that it's war. But if you understand which war, and if you understand who bombed the village, the photograph becomes much more political. The reason it helped end the Vietnam war was not just because it was a generic photograph of a young girl fleeing a burning village, but because it symbolized the horror of that particular war, that our bombers were bombing that village and that young girl was fleeing the napalm into the arms, ironically, of the US soldiers who were participating in it.

MB: Regarding the photo essay "Mexicans Greet Their New President" what were you trying to convey there?

DB: It was a project borne out of necessity. I guess if I'd really wanted to, and really tried, I might have been able to engineer myself into the group of photographers that were on the stage when [Mexico's new president] Lopez Obrador received the staff of office from indigenous leaders. That was certainly a very important thing in Mexican history. We all knew what was going to happen and why it was important. Lopez Obrador was recognizing that Mexico is a multi-cultural country. He is the first president of Mexico ever to talk about the cultures of Mexico - plural. But I didn't really want to do that, partly because there were already people taking photographs of the ceremony.

I was more interested in how people were reacting to this enormous political change - ordinary people interested enough to come to the Zocalo [Mexico City's central plaza] to see the thing happen, but not the powerful and influential people sitting on stage or in the Mexican Congress. I watched Lopez Obrador's speech to the Congress on TV, which preceded the event in the Zocalo, and thought it was a remarkable and very important speech.

As a photographer, I wanted to look at what was happening to people. In some ways, you could predict what some of it would look like. People were moving down these avenues in downtown Mexico City, which are lined with the old colonial buildings, so it's a great environment in which to take pictures. Then they'd be in the Zocalo, a huge square with a million people in it.

So I just walked around taking pictures of people. Some of the pictures are very overtly political. Lots of people had flags, banners, signs that all have "AMLO (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador] Mexico" and similar writing on them. To me, that's important to have in a photograph. That's what people are saying through what they're carrying.

One of the pictures is a guy who was part of a bus drivers' movement that I documented 25 years ago. In the Zocalo he was appealing to Lopez Obrador for justice for their cause, which they are still fighting for. So in the background you have part of the banner, which says Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and you can read enough of it to know his name is there. But what you're really doing is reading the emotion on his face. It's really all about what's going on in his face.

Other photographs were not overtly political. I'm just trying to shoot what's there. The world is a rich and complicated and marvelous place, so I'm not trying to limit it by saying that the only pictures we're going to show are people with banners marching down the road, although there are some of those too.

I was actually looking for people marching into the square, and there were not a lot of people marching. Then at the end, as I was leaving, there were these people marching down one of the avenues. I was like "Oh, thank God!"

MB: Do you see any changes occurring as a result of the politics with respect to immigration here in the U.S.?

DB: There have been lots of changes. We could talk for hours about the terrible things that Trump has done. On the other hand, people spontaneously went out to the airports when he issued the first anti-Muslim order and shut them down - in San Francisco they got 50 people out of detention - I haven't seen that before. All the women who came out on two marches a year apart.

People are upset, angry, trying to organize in different ways. I've been taking pictures - at the marches. It's one of the reasons that I was taking pictures at the Local 2 [Marriott Hotel] strike. I would have been there anyway, but it was really interesting and a morale booster that this happened right in the middle of all this Trump shit. Here they do a strike against the largest hotel chain in the world and they win! You know, life is not just full of terrible news.

MB: Do you have any upcoming projects?

DB: I'm trying to get enough time to finish this book; or at least get a proposal together. Then we'll see. Publishing photo books is really really hard. The last one I was able to publish because a university in Mexico decided to do it and then I was able to use that to convince the University of California to co-publish it. They all take an extraordinary amount of effort and luck. I've published books that are just text - it's easier to be a professional writer than a photographer.


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FOUND OBJECT (you provide the caption)


  1. Craig Stehr February 27, 2019

    In the 1990s when I was still at Yogaville in Virginia, a visitor asked Swami Satchidananda (the guru who opened the Woodstock Music Festival in the 1960s): “What is God?” Swamiji replied: “God is the eternal witness.”

  2. Eric Sunswheat February 27, 2019

    A yearlong effort to expunge marijuana-related convictions in San Francisco has been completed, with more than 9,300 crimes slated to be removed from people’s records, prosecutors announced Monday.

    Given that recreational marijuana is now legal in California and that the war on drugs has had a disproportionate effect on minorities, Dist. Atty. George Gascón said his office’s effort is aimed at removing barriers a criminal conviction poses for individuals long after they’ve served their sentence.

    In an announcement last year, Gascón said his office would review every marijuana-related conviction to find ones eligible for expungement under Prop 64, passed by voters in 2016. Though individuals can request expungements themselves, the process is known to be difficult to navigate and relatively few attempt it.

    Gascon’s office initially began the expungement process by hand and found about 1,000 cases to clear, but then teamed up with Code for America, a national nonprofit that uses technology to make government more efficient.

    Coders there created an algorithm that combed through San Francisco’s digitized criminal records going back to 1975 in just minutes.

    The program automatically fills out the required forms and generates a completed motion in PDF format. The district attorney’s office can then file the completed motion with the court.

    After about a year of work, Gascón announced on Monday they’d found 9,362 cases that were eligible to be expunged. All that’s left to be done is for the courts to process the requests, he said.

    “It was the morally right thing to do,” he said. “If you have a felony conviction, you are automatically excluded in so many ways from participating in your community.”

    Limitations that some people encounter after they’ve served their sentences are less well known, Gascón said, like barriers to education, housing, employment and even being barred from a child’s school field trip because of a conviction.

    Proposition 64 legalized, among other things, the possession and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana and allowed individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use. The measure also allowed people convicted of marijuana possession to petition the courts to have those convictions expunged as long as the person does not pose a risk to public safety. People also can petition to have some crimes reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, including possession of more than an ounce of marijuana by a person who is 18 or older.

    “This isn’t a political thing. This is about dignity. People pay their debt to society. People pay the consequences for something we no longer consider a crime,” he said. “They should not be jumping through hoops for this. They should just get it.”

    Only standalone marijuana convictions were eligible for expungement, Gascón said. Marijuana convictions that were tied in with other offenses in a single criminal case such as a robbery, burglary or DUI, were not expunged, officials said.

  3. Stanley Kelley February 27, 2019

    It would a helpful if the AVA posted the seasonal rain totals regularly

  4. Whyte Owen February 27, 2019

    Ed.: Thank you for your comments on Inskeep. We felt despair when he replaced Bob Edwards who, in the lee of 9/11 was cut for being too cool-mannered, and for using only short, even cryptic, statements, rather than elaborate leading questions, to prompt his interviewees to do almost all of the talking.

  5. james marmon February 27, 2019



    Thursday the 21st.

    “Wood answered first. He felt the weight of this question, but his attempt to calm the waters fell flat.

    [Newsom] said ‘northern California.’ He didn’t specifically say ‘Humboldt County.’ I think that’s important. He didn’t call anybody out.”

    Gov. Newsom Shifts National Guard to Fighting Marijuana Black Market

    February 20, 2019

    “Gov. Gavin Newsom is shifting the California National Guard from border enforcement to cracking down on the illegal marijuana industry — even though he was an advocate for the legalization of the drug.

    After announcing earlier this month that he was scaling down the National Guard presence near the border, Newsom shifted resources to fighting illegal marijuana farms, which are maintaining a black market that makes it difficult for legal suppliers to thrive, and that deprives the state of tax revenues that it expected legalization would provide.”

  6. Harvey Reading February 27, 2019


    Fools Rush In

  7. Lazarus February 27, 2019

    Did you get my fruit basket?

  8. Eric Sunswheat February 27, 2019

    Scott Rodd, Staff Writer
    Jan 22, 2019, 7:25am PST

    The California Growers Association has asked a Sacramento judge to dismiss a lawsuit the association filed against the California Department of Food and Agriculture for allowing cannabis growers to stack licenses and operate large-scale cannabis farms.

    At least two growers, Coyote Hills Agriculture Enterprise LLC and Iron Angel II LLC, hold over 200 cultivation licenses each. Both are based in Santa Barbara County, which has emerged as the most prolific area in California for cannabis cultivators licensed under the new recreational market. A number of other cultivators hold over 100 licenses.

  9. chuck dunbar February 27, 2019


    God Help Us.

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