Dinosaurs Among Us

In the 1930s Sinclair Oil’s advertising execs and assorted flaks put their heads together to create a company logo. As the story goes, at the time the New York-based corporation’s oils and lubricants were refined from Pennsylvania crude estimated, by the corporation, to be more than 270 million years old. Since the beginning of the […]

Casualties of a 50-Year War

In 1968, five years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women the right to legal abortions (ironically also the year that Pope Paul VI declared his opposition to birth control pills), I was a high school student living in a dorm at U.C. Riverside, part of a program for juniors about […]


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 […]

David Hope & Son

Fort Bragg resident David Hope, Sr., is 96 years old and has spent nearly the whole of his professional life in the timber business, almost all of it in Mendocino County after he moved to Willits with his wife and three kids in 1953. Today he lives in a house just north of downtown Fort […]

Rating Mendo Schools

U.S. educational policy has been in freefall for the past two decades. There was the wildly unpopular No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which required states to regularly measure and report student performance against certain standards. If states didn’t do it they risked the hammer of losing their federal school funds. Then came the […]

Maureen ‘Mo’ Mulheren

If you’re a politician these days it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack. Everybody wants better schools, affordable healthcare, a livable wage, an unpolluted environment, less crime, and fewer homeless and drug addicts on the streets. If you’re running for office for the first time it’s easier to paint a future utopian picture with […]

Jeffrey Aaron: Mendo’s New Public Defender

When a colleague decided to change careers and started law school years ago she asked me a question raised in one of her classes: If you decide you want to be a litigator, are you drawn more to the prosecution or the defense? The question was a kind of personality litmus test designed to help […]

The Making of an Activist

What makes an activist? You can take any group of like-minded liberals and some at the inactive end of the spectrum will become couch potatoes screaming at their TVs and baying at the moon. But a very few will toil away at the action end of the spectrum, rising early every day, seven days a […]

Breaks for Fire Victims

Eighteenth century judge and philosopher Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu is credited with first developing the concept of the letter and the spirit of the law. He would doubtless be intrigued by today’s 21st century conundrum of whether to ‘pay or not to pay’ county building permit fees for fire victims rebuilding their homes. […]

Mendocino County Gouges Fire Victims

It’s been more than a year since the 2017 Redwood Valley Fire raced through the sleeping midnight community the terrible night of October 8. It was one of more than a dozen fires, dubbed the October 2017 Fire Siege, that began that night. The Redwood Valley Fire burned a third of the Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire […]

Jerry Philbrick

My curiosity finally got the best of me. After reading Comptche resident Jerry Philbrick’s almost weekly letters to the AVA I just had to meet him. How many people around here sign their letters with the tag line “God Bless Donald Trump”? So on a picture-perfect fall morning last week I hit the road to […]