- Light Rain
- MCDH Relapse
- Albion Bridge
- Road Maintenance
- Mendo Pot
- Ed Notes
- Eel Event
- False Objectivity
- Heimlich Hotel
- Troubled Son
- Slush Puppie
- Pat Tat
- Yesterday's Catch
- Biloxi Barracks
- Farmer Natural
- Election Fallout
- Clueless Perry
- Beyond Beyond
- Onomatopoeian Empire
- Stumbling Blindly
- Garbage Tip
- Pet Rock
- Current Affairs
- CA Photography
- Cuba Relations
- Baseball Spring
PERIODS OF LIGHT RAIN will occur across the region through Wednesday morning. Drier weather will be possible Wednesday afternoon, followed by heavy rain and gusty south winds on Friday. (National Weather Service)
by Marilyn Davin
My mom was trained as a registered nurse during the Second World War. She spoke often of the miracle of penicillin, at that time only available to the troops, and a new future where so many who would have been doomed to death by infection could now heal and live. She felt the same way about vaccinations, and in 1961 when I was ten my brother and I were at the head of the line at our local school with our tongues out, poised to receive the sugar cubes containing the liquid live-virus polio vaccine. My mom died in 2000 and, had she been physically able, would have cheered for the health officials who announced that same year that the measles virus was a thing of the past, gone forever. Before the measles vaccine was available around 48,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized and between 400 and 500 died from the virus every year. As a nurse my mom had had up close-and-personal experience with kids who suffered from polio, measles, and the other viruses that were the scourge of childhood up until the 1960s. She was a true believer.
But despite the fact that the measles vaccine is 97% effective, the virus itself is making a comeback: not yet in Mendocino County but appearing in neighboring counties and spreading among unvaccinated children both state - and nationwide. (I’m concentrating on children because most of today’s young kids’ parents were routinely vaccinated.)
It’s a big deal because measles is so highly contagious; unvaccinated kids can be infected even two hours after an infected child has left a room, and once exposed 90% of unvaccinated kids will themselves be infected. Measles is especially dangerous for kids and frail adults, and those who survive the disease are sometimes left with life-long problems including hearing loss and neurological problems.
Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace, the County’s Department of Health & Human Services, and Mendocino County School Superintendent Michelle Hutchins collaborated on a joint news release last week in an effort to raise the alarm and ultimately convince parents to vaccinate their kids and head off what could spiral into runaway measles infections throughout the county.
During an interview last week Dr. Pace described Mendo’s vaccination philosophy and efforts to reach mostly rural areas where vaccination rates remain stubbornly low. Pace is far less strident than many doctors on the front lines of the measles resurgence, and said he’s focusing on educating parents about the wisdom of vaccinating their kids instead of browbeating or shaming them.
“More than most doctors, I have a lot of sympathy for those who don’t vaccinate,” he said, adding that education is the answer for parents who believe they’re doing the right thing for their kids by not vaccinating them. He said his message to parents who have not yet vaccinated their kids is that things are different now than they were a year ago. “If there’s no measles around it’s not so much of an issue. Now with measles around there is greater risk,” he said. Then there’s the fact that, if the goal is to vaccinate as many kids as possible, haranguing their parents just flat-out doesn’t work. “In the medical and public health world there’s a fairly polarized perspective,” Pace said. “I think that’s unfortunate because the parents then say, ‘You can’t tell me what to do and I don’t trust you’.” He also said that after a confrontation like that parents might not bring their kids back to a doctor at all. Pace added that a lot of county doctors have never even seen measles, and though it hasn’t happened in Mendocino County that he’s aware of, a couple of doctors in a neighboring county are refusing to see unvaccinated kids in their offices, opting instead to, for example, examine them in the cars their parents brought them in; admitting them into a waiting room full of sick kids is just too risky.
So how does Mendo fit into this picture? Unsurprisingly, very unevenly. Overall, Mendocino County schools reported, collectively, an 86.8% vaccination rate county-wide, though some small schools didn’t show up on the list. “Basically most of the main-stream schools have a 90% vaccination rate,” Pace said. “The more alternative-based schools, the back-to-the-landers, have lower rates.” The 90% vaccination rate is critical because that’s what it takes to achieve so-called herd immunity, which means simply that a contagious disease can’t get a toehold in a community where most people have been vaccinated; it takes 90% vaccinated to achieve that level of immunity.
Everybody knows that, legally, kids have to be vaccinated before they start school. So what happened here, why isn’t every child vaccinated? Historically, the personal belief exemption has played a major role in depressing vaccination rates: if you as a parent did not believe in vaccinations you pretty much just had to say so to wriggle through a mandatory vaccination loophole. And as for medical exemptions it was easy-peasy to get a doctor to sign off on it. In a report released last summer, the ten schools with the highest medical exemption rates were all in northern California. Five are charter schools and three are Waldorf schools. The top three with the most medical exemptions are those Waldorf schools, including the Mendocino County Waldorf School in Calpella, where 37% of K-8 students are medically exempt from being vaccinated.
However, the legal noose is tightening. After the measles breakout at Disneyland in 2014, California took the bull by the horns and joined West Virginia and Mississippi in banning all personal belief exemptions. Problem is that after the personal belief exemption was eliminated, medical exemptions tripled. But if recently introduced SB 276 makes it to the governor’s desk and is signed into law the state’s health department will be empowered to approve all medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations, revoke fraudulent exemptions, and maintain a database of exemptions and the physicians who issue them. The writing is on the wall. “As long as a doctor said so there were few guidelines for medical exemptions,” Pace said. “Now few doctors will sign them.” He added that there are legitimate medical reasons for exemptions, including kids undergoing chemo therapy or have other compromised immune systems.
Pace said it’s important to recognize two poles driving the vaccination issue: community versus individual responsibility. Rockland County, in one of New York City’s northern suburbs, recently banned unvaccinated minors from public places after 100 cases of measles were reported. This is not an individual rights but rather a public health issue – a form of quarantine to protect the public from a public health threat. Quarantines as emergency measures have been around for as long as people have, but the sticky wicket is the enforcement of laws on the books over the long term. Practically speaking, what can you really do to parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids? Fine them? Imprison them? Re-introduce stocks in the town square? Pace said that this intersection of personal and community rights is where education is the best tool to convince parents that there’s no time like the present to vaccinate their kids. He asked, rhetorically, “If you don’t want your neighbors to be mad at you, if you don’t want your kids to be banned from school, if you don’t want them to be at risk, it’s time to rethink the situation.”
RELAPSE. Back in 2004-6 when then-CEO Bryan Ballard was the focus of criticism similar to what CEO Edwards recently faced before he was handsomely paid to go away, Coast District Hospital faced similar financial problems. Former senior nurse Louise Mariana and Enrique Sanicky (a retired IBM exec) both pointed out the major problems Coast Hospital was having, including the one with their in-house billing system, which, at that time, was known as the “Meditech” system. The Hospital paid something like $2 million dollars for the Meditech system, after which they hired an expensive consultant to help them implement it, after which they hired another consultant to train their accounting staff to use it.
NOW, here we are almost 15 years later and we read Malcolm Macdonald’s report saying that Coast Hospital has been providing services that “have not been billed for, nor payments collected. In just three months [interim CFO John] Parigi's small team found over $3 million from previously languishing accounts. The fault for this lies not on any specific employees in the billing and finance departments, but on the fact that the hospital has been operating for years on a three-way, jury-rigged electronic system. Thus, coding for a specific patient's charges and the subsequent billing had to go through multiple, yet different, types of computer systems. Therefore, the chances for misplacing or losing charges or the entire bill were exponentially exaggerated at all times.”
INSTEAD of arguing about affiliation and “governance,” the Board should give up on doing billing in-house and insist that two things happen: farm out all billing to a professional billing service and require that a special billing review group be set up to go over all bills EVERY MONTH in a carefully arranged and clear billing report, thus dealing with problems as they arise. The outside firm should be contracted with a provision that they don’t get their billing service charge until the bill is verified by the Hospital and actually paid.
THIS WON'T HAPPEN of course because the Hospital is stuck in a failed billing system that they can’t extricate themselves from and which they don’t seem to know how to begin to fix. But without fixing it, Coast Hospital's chronic dance with bankruptcy will go on and on until it doesn't.
DEAR TED: "Dear Ted Williams, What do we need to do to get Mendocino County to properly maintain Philo Greenwood Rd and Cameron Rd? It’s clear that both roads are in utter disrepair and quite dangerous due to the number of potholes. Will it get done when someone gets hurt after an accident? I have many more photos but can only post one on your page. The Elk community is fed up to say the least."
MJ PROGRAM A HOT MESS
The action last week by the county to move the marijuana program from the agriculture department to the planning and building department seems to us just another desperate attempt to get the legal cannabis system to work – something this county has not been able to do despite years of fiddling with it.
Even people who are not big fans of legalized marijuana are starting to come to the conclusion that this county has been useless in putting together a set of regulations that are effective and useful.
Instead, we keep hearing about the hundreds of applications that are still sitting unreviewed, and the paltry number of permits that have actually been issued.
Yes, we want our marijuana growers to obey some rules and grow a healthy product in an environmentally sound manner. And yes we want marijuana grown in zones, not in every residential neighborhood on the map.
But this county’s regs appear to be so cumbersome that not even our own county employees seem to be able to cope with them.
And, let’s not forget the hundreds of millions the county taxpayers were told were on the way in cannabis tax revenues.
In his regular column, Jim Shields discusses the glut in the marijuana market and how that is bringing down the price and encouraging the vast and continuing black market in marijuana. Growers are making money now, not by growing for the California market, but by growing for the New York and Boston markets and many many large cities in between. Once again we have the effect of unintended consequences when as voters we try to do the right thing, only to have our ideas twisted all out of shape and thrown back in our faces.
Former Supervisor John Pinches aptly used to claim he could write the county’s marijuana regs on the back of a bar napkin. Now that may be hyperbole, but there’s something to the idea that simpler is better. We recently heard that there are a number of people on probation getting grow permits because no one at the county thought to check with the District Attorney’s office before signing off on them. Seems like a no-brainer, and yet for all the complex regs we have locally, that’s not one of them.
We don’t know whether the county building and planning department will be able to succeed where the agriculture department failed, (and we think someone at ag should be a part of whatever planning goes forward since marijuana is, after all , a local crop) but we do hope that someone over there may come up with suggestions for a simpler, fairer and logical system of pot permitting.
(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
THE TRUE CHAOS OF POT LEGALIZATION
by Jim Shields
To better understand the economic and social crisis we’re facing here in Mendocino County resulting from cannabis legalization at both the state and local levels where multiple jurisdictions — cities, counties and the state — have enacted basically separate, stand-alone, oftentimes conflicting regulatory frameworks, I’d like to share with you a couple of reports dealing with the immutable economic law of supply and demand.
Both reports, although prepared and released several years apart, arrive at the same conclusion: There’s too much pot in the ground and it’s crashing the marketplace.
Even though everyone — growers and regulators and non-growers like me who benefit from “pot dollars” — recognize that over-production has depressed pot sales to record lows, no one seems to know or wants to do anything about it.
My solution to the dilemma is for the state to assume sole control of marijuana regulation, just as it does with alcohol regulation, and proceed with its proposed plans to place caps on marijuana production. Sharing regulatory control with local governments, such as Mendocino County, has resulted in creating nothing but chaos, instability, and the ever-quickening extinction of the small farmer.
Anyway, here are the reports.
The first one is an economic report, commissioned by the state Department of Agriculture, which is one of the three agencies that administers the state’s pot regulations. The economists looked at just how much pot is being grown in California. The report was released in 2017 and it was a real eye-opener for me.
The report estimates that approximately 13.5 million pounds of weed is harvested in the Golden State, annually. I’m sure that tonnage has increased dramatically recently, but the study looked at previous years. Not surprisingly, 9,200,000 pounds (68 percent) is grown in Northern California, and of that total 4,150,000 pounds (31 percent of the state’s total pot) is produced right here on the Northcoast. On the consumption side, it was estimated that only 2.5 million pounds found an end use in the state. Those numbers support other long-held analyses that approximately 80 percent of Cal weed hits interstate highways for sale on the national black market. The Dept. of Ag study also forecasted that about half of the 2.5 million pounds will be sold in California’s “black/grey” market instead of licensed dispensaries, which means the tax collector will be bypassed.
In the report, economists zero in on the problems associated with establishing a legal market for what was previously an illegal product:
“The market for medical cannabis is different than other conventional agriculture industries, or more generally, the market for any other established product because cannabis has historically been produced and sold on an unregulated illegal market. This affects the economic impact analysis in two key ways. First, the medical cannabis industry is a new (legal) industry that is still evolving. Medical cannabis businesses—from cultivation through final retail—operate in a market where consumer demand is partially met through the informal black/grey market for non-medical cannabis. In addition, there are no official statewide production statistics, financial data, and limited information about important economic parameters that characterize the market for medical and non-medical cannabis. The second significant factor in the economic impact analysis is that Proposition 64, the adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), passed by California voters on November 8, 2016, fundamentally changes the baseline for the medical cannabis industry by introducing an adult use cannabis market that is a direct substitute for the medical market for many consumers. Accordingly, some current medical cannabis consumers will substitute to the adult use market as it becomes legal, which will decrease for the size of the medical cannabis market and cause some medical cannabis businesses to shift to the adult use sector. That is, legalizing adult use cannabis has an effect on the medical cannabis industry that is separate from the impact of medical cannabis regulations. This significant change in the market structure must be analyzed as part of the baseline medical cannabis industry in order to isolate the effect of legalizing adult use cannabis and hold this separate from the impact of medical cannabis regulations.”
Two weeks ago, Vessel Logistics, a San Francisco-based cannabis distribution company, released a report that made the following findings:
• California has too many marijuana farms — growing too much product — and if nothing is done it will devastate the industry.
• California is a messy patchwork of legal statuses for cannabis cultivation and sales.
• More than 1,142 acres of cannabis farms hold state permits. They can produce up to 9 million pounds of crop every year, but the permitted wholesale market can realistically support 1.8 million to 2.2 million pounds.
• Thus, even when a 50 percent cut in production is accounted for, a significant oversupply is unavoidable in 2019.
According to a March 19 Sacramento Bee report, “California isn’t the only state to grapple with an overproduction of bud. A state audit found that Oregon growers are producing twice as much cannabis as the state market can support, and that there is “more than six year’s worth of supply sitting on shelves and farms,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“We’ll be in the same boat, but it will be more actual material,” said Daniel D’Ancona, president and founder of Vessel Logistics.
The Bee report goes on to say, “Until now, growers with a temporary license have relied on the black market to sell any product that couldn’t measure up to the state’s pesticide testing program or when there was a better price to be found, D’Ancona said. He said that all goes away as more growers are subject to the state’s Track-and-Trace program.
The program records “the inventory and movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the commercial cannabis supply chain — from cultivation to sale,” according to a state FAQ on the program.
Growers with a provisional or annual license are required to use Track-and-Trace. Temporary permit-holders are not. Instead, they are required to document all sales using paper invoices or shipping manifests.
“As soon as Track-and-Trace goes in place, it’ll be like trying to fit an elephant through a keyhole,” D’Ancona said.
The Vessel Logistics report concluded that because the cannabis industry in California has over-relied on both the black market and out-of-state sales, producers and manufacturers over-estimated the actual wholesale demand in the state.
“The impact will be felt across the entire supply side as permitted companies compete for a wholesale market that is a fraction of its pre-Track-and-Trace size,” the report found.
D’Ancona succinctly summarized the problem and the solution: “They need to grow less. …. If they grow like they’re used to grow … the products are going to be selling for less than the cost of production.”
Obviously information like this from these two independent reports has implications — most of them not good — for this county’s moms and pops, who comprise the majority of my estimated 10,000 cannabis farmers. Because of ever-increasing supply, the price of marijuana in the past decade has dipped from approximately $4,000 per pound down to approximately $400 per pound currently.
So, there you have it. In many ways what we’re seeing is Economics 101 and the practical application of the law of supply and demand, a law that by any measure favors most decidedly the big guys given that pot legalization by any measure disfavors the little guys. I guess that’s why you can call this whole legalization experiment to date an “extinction event.”
(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: http://www.kpfn.org)
THE COASTAL COMMISSION'S Northcoast seat is vacant. The Governor rejected the Humco candidates as well as Fort Bragg's Lindy Peters. Eyeballing the Mendo stretch of the California coast I'd say the Commission is not doing a good job protecting the Coastal Zone, or protecting it much at all given the number of over-large houses of the Dentist Complex School of Architectural Design we now see fouling ocean vistas from the ghastly Sea Ranch north to Westport. I remember when Mark Massera of the Surfriders Foundation was a commissioner, and I remember him going to the mat with those commissioners whose idea of wild and scenic is Newport Beach. The only name I recognize these days is Aaron Peskin, the San Francisco supervisor and, as an ava reader, obviously a man of major league discernment likely to oppose projects harmful to the Coast. Donne Brownsey apparently represents all three Northcoast counties. She is rumored to now be a resident of Fort Bragg but is so far invisible on local issues of the ocean protection type. I believe she was appointed by Governor Brown.
THE LEAD PIECE in the April 4th edition of the New York Review of Books is called "A Future Without Fossil Fuels?" We live in hope, as does the author, Bill McKibben, whose review of one book and one scientific paper both of which suggest the big boys of finance capital are moving their money to renewables because renewables are more lucrative, or becoming more lucrative, than fossil fuels and coal. India, for example, can now provide wind and solar much cheaper than the fuels choking its cities in smogs worse than LA's. India is a vast market for the new power-generating technologies.
BASICALLY, according to Mckibben, the energy future looks like this: "Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world's electric supply, but they made of 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by 20 percent with each doubling of capacity….in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we're running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power…"
UPPER EEL RIVER TALK AND FIELD TRIP – APRIL 5 AND 6
People normally think of the reach of the Eel River within the Potter Valley Project (PVP) as the center of controversy over water diversion, made even more so as dam removal or relicensing is considered. In fact the reach between the dams is a hidden treasure with immense recreational and restoration potential whether the dams come out or remain. The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) is starting a feasibility study on restoring salmon habitat between the dams and developing a trail parallel the river that would allow salmon watching and increase recreational infrastructure available to people in Mendocino County and beyond.
This potential will be explored in a talk by ERRP Managing Director Pat Higgins on the evening of Friday, April 5 at 7 PM at the Willits Environmental Hub at 630 South Main Street. On the following day, Saturday, April 6 there will be a field trip to the upper Eel River to see some of the problems and potential of this beautiful Eel River reach. We will depart from the Hub at 8:30 AM.
One of Pat Higgins’ discoveries about Chinook salmon between the PVP dams is that habitat is very poor because recruitment of gravel for spawning substrate is blocked by Scott Dam and other gravel is perched on terraces disconnected from the active river channel. One hundred years of hydropower operation with relatively static flows has allowed riparian willows to form a very narrow stream channel in the middle of what used to be a meandering river bed. The result is very poor spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook salmon.
During his talk on Friday night, Pat will show examples of how the Trinity River Restoration Program remedied this problem in a dam effected reach below Lewiston. They found that strategic removal of riparian willow on alternating sides of the river, called feather edging, reconnected flood terraces. That, in turn, gave juvenile Chinook access to slower waters for rearing in winter and increased the availability of spawning substrate for adult Chinook salmon.
PG&E owns the land on both sides of the Eel River channel. The land has been placed under a conservation easement as a result of a Settlement Agreement related to bankruptcy proceedings in 2000, which has restoration as one of its objectives. Although PG&E is looking to divest from the PVP, the conservation easement will run with the land, so there seems to be potential for future cooperation on salmon habitat restoration. While the upper Eel River is not far from communities like Willits and Ukiah, it is seldom visited. The section of river within the Potter Valley has extraordinary scenic value.
On Saturday, April 6 there will be a field trip to the upper Eel River by way of Potter Valley. The trip will begins with a visit to the origin of the potential trail at Pioneer Bridge, where the road from Potter Valley to Lake Pillsbury crosses the Eel River. Trout Creek Campground will be the next stop, because it demonstrates how flood terraces can be cut off by over-grown willow.
Soda Creek is the last spawning tributary below Scott Dam and Pat will lead a tour of a restoration project there that helped permit and monitor. After lunch on the shores of Lake Pillsbury, we will look for Tule elk on the grassy plain above the lake. The group will then take a short drive up to an overlook to assess the damage of the Mendocino Fire in the upper Eel River watershed.
Those wishing to get a ride for the field trip can call Robin Leler (459-0155) to reserve a place in the Willits Goes Wild van, but others are encouraged to join the trip in their vehicles. The road is rough in places, so people may car pool from the Hub as well. Anyone wishing to join the field trip from Ukiah can meet the group across from the Potter Valley store at 9:45 AM. Bring a lunch and shoes appropriate for walking. See www.eelriverrecovery.org and the ERRP Facebook page for more. Or call Pat Higgins for more information at 707 223-7200.
by Bruce McEwen
Judge Faulder invited your trusty correspondent into his chambers last week for a little discussion on Objectivity In The Press, opening with the White Queen’s Gambit:
“Your writing is delightful, Bruce, just delightful. I’d much rather read your stuff than the objective reporting in other newspapers like the Press Democrat or the Daily Journal.”
Sorry, judge, but that comment sucks. What you call “objectivity” in the local mainstream papers – or even all the way up to the New York Times and Washington Post – is not “objectivity”; it is the subjectivity of the publishers – that is, the owners – of those papers – which, by the by, happen to be big corporate interests and, as you know very well”—
“Oh! I see I’ve hit a nerve – sorry.”
“Just let me finish, if you please. To come out with an example of this presumed objectivity of the mainstream – and, incidentally, I’ve worked for dailies owned by newspaper chains like the Press Democrat and the Daily Journal as reporter, copy editor, and columnist, so I think I speak from a not complete ignorance on the subject – that this presumed objectivity, which these publishers have anointed themselves with, is false, manifestly false, for there is no such thing as objectivity – look the word up! – because it would be impossible for any mortal to attain an even modest presumption of objectivity; but more importantly that what masquerades as objectivity is the most rigid form of subjectivity ever devised and perpetrated on a gullible reading public.”
“Oh, dear, I see I’ve really hit a nerve.”
“I’m not finished, judge. I’m just getting started. To say that our local mainstream newspapers are being objective because they do not allow their reporters to comment or even so much as make note of glaring dishonesties, gross deceptions and other forms of misconduct in official reports is ludicrous. Take for instance this recent business of the county supervisors first giving themselves pay raises, and then later giving themselves awards. To repeat the purple prose in these press releases without a murmur of incredulity or dissent – in the name of objectivity – is nothing less that blatant toadyism, proof of a rigid subjectivity that allows no attempt at objectivity whatsoever! What it amounts to is essentially this: That the subjectivity of someone – a reporter for example – that you can identify as being fairly honest, if not perfectly so – for who could pretend to such a state? – and relate to – or should I say trust to some degree? – for who among us can be trusted completely? --- I say, if you know and expect the familiar subjectivity of the news source in question – some radical newspaper, maybe, or an internet blogger -- then you are far better off than being manipulated by this false objectivity, thrown out by the mainstream echo-chamber – and don’t forget, you brought it up, judge.”
“My, look at the time. I see I’ve got your dander up on this and would like to hear you out, and I’m sure you’ve got plenty more to say on the subject, but I’m afraid I have people waiting, and I really do, I’ve got to run. I don’t mean to rush you, and yes, I agree mostly with what you’re saying, but I really do have to go.”
“Okay, that’s fine – maybe I’ll just write it up and you can look it over when you’ve got more time, at your leisure, if you ever have any. I know you are a busy man and I don’t mean to interfere with your pressing schedule.”
“Good! That’ll be fine. Do that. Bye now.”
“Now, you won’t say I made any of this up, will you?”
“No – never! Why would I do that? Oh, yes, that reminds me: this is all off the record, of course…?”
“Of course it is. Why would you think otherwise?”
THANKS FOR THE RIDE, POP, SAID THE UNDUTIFUL SON
On March 29, 2019 at approximately 9:50 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies received a call for service regarding an assault that just occurred in the 16000 block of North Highway 1 in Fort Bragg. Deputies arrived minutes thereafter and contacted a 76 year-old male. Deputies learned the elderly male had recently picked up his adult son, Nicholas Halvorsen, 46, of Fort Bragg, and was driving him home.
During that ride, the Halvorsen physically assaulted the elderly male without warning. After arriving at their destination, Halvorsen threatened to further harm the elderly male and law enforcement was notified. Deputies observed the elderly male had suffered a minor laceration to his head as a result of the assault. Deputies searched the area for Halvorsen and located him nearby sleeping next to the roadway. Deputies subsequently arrested him for the assault. Deputies determined Halvorsen was also the restrained party and in violation of a served domestic violence restraining order that listed the elderly male as a protected party. Halvorsen was also determined to be in violation of his summary probation terms. Halvorsen was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on charges of Elder Abuse, Violation of a Protection Order, and Violation of Probation in lieu of $22,500.00 bail.
ANOTHER LYLE TUTTLE STORY:
Burt tells us how this fish came to swim down his arm:
"I got the tattoo in early 1972, at Lyle Tuttle’s tattoo parlor in San Francisco—the only place in the entire city then to get a tattoo professionally done with a machine; it was located near the bus station.
I was sitting around with some other people smoking weed and drinking bourbon in our house out near Seal Rock. We were all very drunk when someone said, as a kind of announcement, let’s go get tattoos!
We piled into a very old (late forties?) Plymouth (I think) and drove to the tattoo parlor. The other guys (no women came with us—but a couple of weeks later I took an ex-girlfriend of mine who was visiting from NYC, where I was from, to get a lovely tattoo of a rose on her wrist) were lined up to get something each from the one tattoo artist who was working at the time; his name was Pat.
(Editor's note: This was legendary artist Pat 'The Picture Machine' Martynuik (1937-1989), who went on to found Picture Machine Tattoo in 1976.)
There were samples of tattoos on all the walls in the parlor, on paper pinned there—the usual sorts of things—and the people I was with were choosing from them. (One of us, the one who was driving, got his wife’s name put on his upper arm, while the rest of the group but for me were getting images like a red devil or a motorcycle with wings bursting out of a cloud, or something like that.) I didn’t like any of the images I saw.
Then I recalled Arthur Conan Doyle’s inaugural story of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, A Study in Scarlet. In it, Holmes looks out of his window and points to a man walking up the street below (who later appears at the apartment door for help). Watson, the foil, is taken aback and is highly skeptical of this new acquaintance. The man, Holmes claims, is a sailor just back from Shanghai. Eventually Holmes will explain to Watson that he knew that was who the man was because he had a rather new looking tattoo of pink fish bones on his forearm, and had a sunburn; apparently, when they docked in Shanghai, British sailors in the mid nineteenth century would get this one tattoo.
So I asked Pat for pink fish bones. He said he didn’t have pink, but how about blue? I said that that would be fine.
Pat was a real pro, and he tended to work very quickly. He shaved my forearm and rubbed on some alcohol and then set to work. Aside from the shock of the machine inflicting more pain on me than I had expected, I was mesmerized by the image he was creating. He drew the spine and then, very quickly, drew in the other bones, having put a head on; the very thin, fine lines of the bones radiating out from the spine were gorgeous in their delicacy. He drew in the tail fin and the lines there were almost as nice, but a bit stronger for a solid contrast, and to me were beautiful.
Then, without a pause, suddenly, he drew in a dorsal fin. I was appalled. What had he done? Whoever heard of fish bones, head and tail attached, with a dorsal fin as well? He had instantly made the fish skeleton come alive or at least whole with that back fin. I quickly demanded that he had in some way to fix this. He hadn't understood what I was trying for.
After a quick negotiation he shaded in most of the beautifully detailed work he had done, those bones coming out from the spine on either side. In this way he turned the skeleton into a quasi abstracted whole fish. The tiny hint of a smile in the fish's head had to be left as it was (he added that with a very quick flourish too.) I then, as a finale, asked him to put a red dot in the eye.
Over the years the dot has faded completely, but I'm happy with the way the blue lines have held up, now in late middle age and remembering back to my early adulthood."
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 31, 2019
ALICIA CAMPBELL, Willits. Probation revocation.
FRANKIE LEMUS-CORTEZ, Fort Bragg. Making, passing or possessing counterfeit bill note or check, resisting, probation revocation.
DALE MCALLISTER SR., Willits. Public drinking, resisting, probation revocation.
ANGEL MILLER, Ukiah. Parole violation.
CHERECE MITCHELL, Fort Bragg. Burglary, vandalism, probation revocation.
AMELIA RAMIREZ, Ukiah. DUI, child endangerment, resisting, probation revocation.
RHONDA SANDERS, Fort Bragg. Under influence, probation revocation.
DANIEL SMITH, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
MICHELLE WILLIAMSON, Point Arena/Fort Bragg. Burglary, elder abuse, grand theft, theft from elder.
BILOXI DAYS: The Barracks Visit
by Mark Scaramella
I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonio for Officer Training School in November of 1967. For reasons known only to my recruiter in Fresno, I was two weeks early for 90 days of instruction, after which I would emerge as a “90 day wonder," a Second Lieutenant or “brown bar" as the most junior officers were called. I had to pass the physical and academic regimen the USAF imposed on us unofficial draft dodgers, as we were sometimes assumed to be as the US Air Force was supposed to be safer than the Army, and certainly safer than the Marines.
Because I was early arriving, they had to put me somewhere for two weeks, and that somewhere was Basic Training with a new crop of non-officer enlisted recruits.
That first weekend somebody screwed up during room inspection so the TI (the Air Force called Drill Instructors Training Instructors, but they were modeled after the legendary DI's of the Marine Corps), had everyone (“collective punishment”) remove everything in the barracks that was not nailed down, re-assemble it outside in inspection order, then undergo another white glove inspection outside on the grass. The white glove go-over finished, we then dismantled it all again and put it back in the barracks where we underwent yet another white glove inspection. In the real world this would be called harassment or low intensity torture but the military mind is often not "real world."
The barracks for the new airmen was across the street from the smaller area for new airwomen, aka Women in the Air Force, aka, WAFs, which, I soon learned from some of my fellow recruits also stood for “We All Fuck.”
One day, we were doing drill practice down the street between the airmen’s barracks and the WAF barracks when I overheard a female WAF TI lecturing her young charges for some minor transgression or other. The WAF TI pointed to the airmen’s barracks and shouted, “There’s miles and miles of dick over there and you assholes aren’t getting AN INCH of it until you SHAPE UP!”
Soon, after nine months of technical training at Chanue Air Force Base in southern Illinois, I was an [aircraft maintenance] officer and maybe even a gentleman stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi.
It was a little after five o'clock on a Monday afternoon. I was in my Squadron Commander’s upstairs office in Hangar 5 when I heard a young woman nearly shouting at Field Maintenance’s First Sergeant Johnson in the office next door. Except for the occasional secretary and one female civilian instrument tech, we seldom saw or heard women in the maintenance or hangar area.
I shouted over, "What's going on, Sergeant Johnson?"
"We're on our way over, sir," Johnson replied.
Sergeant Johnson and an attractive young WAF appeared.
"My husband has been missing since Saturday," the WAF, nearly in tears, said.
“It’s Airman Andy Ogden,” Sergeant Johnson added.
“Oh, is he the new kid in the AGE shop?" (Aerospace Ground Equipment maintenance), I asked.
“I think so,” Johnson agreed, “his name appeared on the roster last week.”
"We've only been married a few weeks," she said, "and we've been arguing a lot."
"Do you live on base?" I asked the WAF.
"He still lives in the barracks," she replied, "and I live in the barracks on the WAF side. We're looking for an apartment downtown." (In Biloxi.)
"Have you checked the barracks?"
"Women are not allowed in the barracks after hours," she replied.
"Okay," Sergeant Johnson said. "Let's go check."
We got in my car and drove to Keesler’s three-story cement airmen's barracks, one wing of which was reserved for aircraft maintenance people.
"Do you know what his room number is?"
"I think it's 312."
That would make it third floor. Up the steps we went to room 312. Sergeant Johnson pulled out his master key, unlocked the door, and banged it open. The spartan room was empty besides the standard military style two-mattress wire frame bunk bed, neatly made to military specs, a small metal desk and chair, and some built-in wooden closets.
We heard whispering and rustling from the next room.
Sergeant Johnson and I and the WAF proceeded to room 313.
Johnson unlocked its door and pushed on in where we were startled to see a naked young woman on the top bunk with a brown blanket pulled up to her waist; there was a naked couple partially concealed by a blanket on the lower bunk.
"What are you doing here?" Sergeant Johnson barked to the naked woman in the top bunk.
She stuck out an elbow and propped her head on her hand and, looking straight at him, proclaimed: "What do you THINK I’m doing?"
"Women are not allowed in the airmen's barracks," Johnson announced, deadpan.
Johnson then rolled his eyes, stepped into the shared bathroom between the two rooms, and spit some tobacco juice into the sink, taking a moment to think about his next move. He strode back into the room, and opened up a closet across from the bunk bed. Nothing in the first closet but clothes on hangers and shoes. Then he opened the second closet where a nude young man crouched behind some fatigues on hangers. The nude man covered his private parts with his arms.
"Who are you?" Johnson asked.
The young WAF had followed us into the room and boldly walked up behind Sergeant Johnson and looked over his shoulder into the closet and started crying, "That's my husband!" Distraught, she ran from the room.
Sergeant Johnson noted the names of the two women in the bunk off their discarded uniforms, and demanded their squadron numbers. It turned out they were training as radar and communications technicians as was Ogden’s new wife. Johnson tossed the ladies their skivvies and uniforms and ordered them to get dressed and get out.
The airman in the lower bunk and the airman in the closet hurriedly dressed. The airman in the bottom bunk was not a Field Maintenance shop tech, but a flight line mechanic from Organizational Maintenance, so we took his name and told him to leave also.
Sergeant Johnson pulled his citation book from his uniform pocket and wrote up Airman Ogden for having women in his barracks room, a minor violation. As squadron commander, I later "punished" Ogden under Article 15 of the UCMJ by giving him the extra duty of cleaning the barracks latrines under the supervision of the barracks charge of quarters (BCOQ) for four straight weekends.
I don't know what became of Mr. and Mrs. Ogden, but their marriage had gotten off to a bad start.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
If a deluge of investigations, subpoenas, indictments and trials are in the offing, it will be interesting to see how the heroic self-image of those propagating misinformation and fraud intersects with the workings of the legal system.
They say that Michael Flynn faces legal bills of five million bucks. That is a tall price to pay for telling a fib about doing something that wasn’t illegal. The lawyer fees would likely be a whole lot taller when there are actual felonies at issue.
Media people that stood tall and told it like it wasn’t, misrepresenting themselves as heroic truth-tellers when they were neither, made fools of themselves. But will any one of them ever face legal peril? I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that their offense was more along the lines of professional dereliction in a “profession,” if it can be called that, that hardly has clean hands anyway. I think the journalistic business model is more at issue than the law of the land. They say that the New York Times abandoned any pretense of impartiality and objectivity and took sides and that their partisanship bolstered their bottom line. So too with CNN. So did a lot of others. They discredited themselves. But what about their future business prospects? Are they now doomed to be low-down shills, nothing but propaganda rags? Is that their business model?
What about guys in intelligence and law enforcement functions that engaged in misrepresentation? If legal proceedings against them start and the legal bills mount, we’ll see how long the jut-jawed bravery lasts. When do they start selling out one another and “co-operating” for a reduced charge? I wonder if the cause of keeping Trump out of the presidency will be worth the loss of liberty and the financial ruin. One thing is for sure, the financial ruling class will dump these guys overboard as sure as the day they were born. No loyalty from them and so I doubt they’ll find cozy sinecures after prison. Maybe working in a grocery store. Maybe.
SENATOR WARREN INSTRUCTS RICK PERRY ON NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY LAW
How do people like the Governor now? I hate the new governor for what he did for the death row inmates. It is very ugly. That man will keep doing things to this state that you have never seen before because he has a dictatorship that's as open and shut as a door. He will do whatever he pleases. No matter what we vote for he will change it to suit himself. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s beyond the beyond.
He's going along with open borders, sanctuary cities, and taking away our guns. Now they want to smash our trucks if they are not 2010 models or later. People work all their lives for a truck and then have it taken away from them for no reason, especially here in Northern California. It's a dirty, rotten, stinking Democrat liberal crime. Naturally, there will be smog and pollution in the smaller areas of the cities where the air can't dissipate very fast. But after that it all goes into space and goes away.
I hope Donald Trump changes more things, especially this stupid Air Quality Resource Board thing about our trucks. I know for sure he will build the wall and he will sue the state over the water plan which is another democratic dictatorship move. Oh man. It will get worse before it gets better.
People don't know that Newsom is a nephew of one of our senators, Pelosi. He was caught in adultery with his best friend's wife when he was first married. But Pelosi covered this up and swept it under the rug so now he’s our governor. He hopes to be President someday. I don't think so.
God bless Donald Trump.
FROM THE NOVEL ‘SEEING’:
The most common occurrence in this world of ours, in these days of stumbling blindly forward, is to come across men and women mature in years and ripe in prosperity, who, at eighteen, were not just beaming beacons of style, but also, and perhaps above all, bold revolutionaries determined to bring down the system supported by their parents and to replace it, at last, with a fraternal paradise, but who are now equally firmly attached to convictions and practices which, having warmed up and flexed their muscles on any of the many available versions of moderate conservatism, become, in time, pure egoism of the most obscene and reactionary kind. Put less respectfully, these men and these women, standing before the mirror of their life, spit every day into the face of what they were with the sputum of what they are.
-- José Saramago, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
GARY DAHL, inventor of the Pet Rock, in 1978 at the Hilton Hotel in the City before giving a speech on his novel invention that made him some big bucks. Dahl later opened a bar in Los Gatos, called Carrie Nations, with the money he made. What do you remember most about this fad?
I DO NOT KNOW HOW to show benevolence to my enemies. Weakness has never led anywhere. One can only govern with strength.
TALK ON CALIFORNIA PHOTOGRAPHY--April 13 at Grace Hudson
On Saturday, April 13, from 2 to 3 p.m., Drew Johnson, longtime Curator of Photography at the Oakland Museum, will present an illustrated talk titled ‘A Brief History of California Photography.’ The event is free with Museum admission--$4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org http://www.gracehudsonmuseum.org/ or call (707) 467-2836.
THE TAMALE, 6421 Whittier Blvd., East Los Angeles
HEMINGWAY LEGACY WRITES UNIFYING CHAPTER FOR US, CUBA: LAWMAKER
"There is no good and rational reason" why the United States and Cuba cannot have normal relations, said McGovern, a Democrat, as flags of the two countries stood behind him. McGovern, who has made numerous trips to the island, in 2002 established the Finca Vigia Foundation with Jenny and Frank Phillips. Jenny Phillips, who died last year, was the granddaughter of Hemingway's editor and friend, Maxwell Perkins. Its mission is to work with Cuban colleagues to restore and preserve "Finca Vigia" (Lookout Farm) - the Havana home of the Nobel literature laureate - as well as its contents and his fishing boat. The boat had already been renovated and the home restored "to its 1950s splendor," according to the foundation website.
HOW LIFE IMITATES THE WORLD SERIES
Baseball has blessedly arrived. All are hopeful they will play in October. Will win at home in the bottom of the 33rd on a stolen base. Champagne will flow. They will go fly fishing on the Umpqua. Explore Barcelona. Take the family to the battlefield national parks. Visit Aunt Polly in Prague. Very wealthy folks. Able to do pretty much anything they wish. They do what they can, which is most of what they want to do. I wish I could have mastered the curve. I desperately want my life to make sense. To find that magic phrase that opens every door. To inhale it all, every wisp, shadow, and stir, all the truth and all the substance. To say thank you and love it. It finally makes sense. To me.
And then I turn my thoughts to the news. Offensive and real. And deadly. And not at all sensible. Nothing like what was expected. Opening your mouth expecting to sound like Pavoratti and instead sounding like a frog the size of a cocker spaniel. It's croak sounding like it has gargled gasoline. Become a hopping rattlesnake. A carnivore. The cat has disappeared.
It is spring. Everything is budding. The earth is seasonally fecund. The rivers are swelling. Hope fills the air with the most heady and yeasty scent.
What most of them want to do is to make it make sense that the world is as it is. That we are what it has made us. The cosmic existential dilemma. To find that one phrase that perfectly expresses the mystery. To have it make sense. I can hear the champagne corks popping. I don't hear a dirge. I hear loud rock and roll. From right up front. I inhale. It's the bottom of the 33rd, and our plane tickets to Prague are home on my desk. I get an e-mail. It's from Lady Gaga. I'm going to visit my aunt. But not tonight. Tonight is the A's and the Angels. The sun is predicted in Eugene today. Springtime. Hope and reality. And then you. I love you. The deep, deep inhale. I love you. 7:07 tonight. Thank you, Great Spirit. And none of it really matters. Everything ends. Even the universe. Probably. The clock ticks, winding down. Our lives. Our end…