Mendocino County Today: May 7, 2012

by AVA News Service, May 7, 2012

MASSIVE FISH & GAME interdiction this morning at the Boonville Fairgrounds with as many as 40 game wardens stopping vehicles to search for illegally taken abalone. Look for a full account of Sunday's attempt to crack down on Coast ab poaching in Wednesday's AVA.

DAVID GURNEY writing from Glass Beach, Fort Bragg: “This morning's low tide of -1.6 ft at 6:30 a.m. was one of the lowest of the year. I was up early, and decided to take the dog on a run on at Glass Beach ‘Haul Road’ on the north end of town. When I got there, I was startled to see cars lined up-and-down both sides of Elm Street, all the way from Denny's to the park entrance. Both sides of the street were packed parked cars. Similarly, the entire parking lot, and the two-square block area of the Stewart Street was packed with cars, on both sides. A quick count gave an estimate of at least three hundred passenger cars and vans. Except for a few locals mixed in, the crowds were almost exclusively people talking excitedly in what appeared to be Chinese - not a word of English was heard. Some vehicles were loading up with what looked like two to six passengers a apiece, climbing in and out of their wetsuits on the street. Loose groups of people, four and five abreast, trudged up and down the beach trail in their wetsuits in lines, dive tubes on their backs. One man I spoke to said he'd gotten his limit, but said observed a group of fifty divers working together in one of the small coves. There was not a single Fish and Game warden, nor a single yellow-clad ‘Abalone Watch’ volunteer in sight. It might be safe to say that there're aren't too many legal-sized abalone left within easy reach at Glass Beach right now. With a limit of three abalone per person, and three to four people per car, you could estimate that sat least 2,700 to 3,600 abs were pried from their watery haunts at Glass Beach this morning, by the hungry hoards up from the Bay Area and Sacto. At least legally. It's a phenomenon unlike any I've seen in close to 40 years of living on the NorCoast.”

ROBERT COPPOCK RESPONDED: “Fish and Game and the Ab Watch people were there, but the whole Coast was super busy. I arrived at Van Damme at 6:45am and there were several inflatables each carrying five divers COMING IN with their limits. I checked and all were properly tagging and logging and had legal abs. There were more than 25 people driving away with limits by 7:30, but still there were plenty of people in the water, and more heading in. The locals seemed to be the last ones into the water. Some divers on the rocks south of the beach came in later with limits, along with a bunch of perch and a few urchins. By the way, most of these people seem to be Vietnamese, not Chinese. But they knew the rules. It's just that there were a lot of them. On Saturday, the Ab Watch people at Glass Beach found only a few who were in some sort of violation, including one undersize. The people who were at Glass Beach on Saturday were mostly at Jughandle on Sunday. But there were lots of other places. You can't be everywhere. On my way to Van Damme from Albion this morning, I saw ten cars parked along the road at Dark Gulch. Gordon Lane was also packed, I hear. F&G can't be everywhere, so they pick the spots where there most likely would be real poachers and where they can get good evidence of wrongdoing, such as scuba spotters and one diver collecting for others. In lots of cases, you can't tell if anything illegal is happening unless you are out there, if then. One reason we are getting more people here this year seems to be because the Fort Ross area is closed. The season has been shortened there.”

RETURNING SOBER to an initial liquid assessment of 2nd District Congressional candidate Stacey Lawson's startling press release announcing a kind of Mendocino County Kitchen Kabinet, come, take my hand and together let us revisit hasty first impressions, not that they weren't appropriate, as the mayor of Ukiah might say if she wouldn't instinctively pronounce them inappropriate on the off chance she occasionally encounters local realities. Anyway, you will recall that Lawson, “a very spiritual” multi-millionaire, selected the following Mendo luminaries to advise and advance her run for Congress:

MARY ANNE LANDIS, Mayor of Ukiah; Mari Rodin, Former Mayor of Ukiah; Bruce Burton, Mayor of Willits; Ron Orenstein, Willits City Council Member; Jim Little, Laytonville Fire Department Chief; Calvin Harwood, Laytonville School Board President; Mike Anderson, Mendocino Farm Bureau President, Fort Bragg; Michael Braught, Mendocino Farm Bureau Vice President and Long Valley Market owner, Laytonville; Jody Cole, Wild Rainbow African Safaris, and Katharine Cole, Victory Campaign Board member, Ukiah; Art Harwood, Triple Bottom Line Solutions, Branscomb; Jim and Barbara Hurst, Business Owners, Fort Bragg; Judith Bailey, Bailey’s Incorporated, Laytonville; Chris Neary, Attorney at Law, Willits; Steve Zuieback, Founder & CEO of Synectics, Ukiah.

ABOUT HALF THESE PEOPLE are Republicans, as are lots of local Democrats, emotionally and for voting purposes, a fact of Northcoast political life confirmed by the corporate Democrats who've represented this area for years. But what's odd about the enthusiasm for Lawson from the above is that acceptably conservative Democrats like Jared Huffman, a sitting Assemblyman, was in the race before Lawson jumped in. Huffman was endorsed early by More Of The Same Democrats like Wes Chesbro and Mike Thompson, and local Demo Party bigwig, Rachel Binah. Most of us assumed the rest of the Northcoast's middle of the road extremists would fall in behind party stalwart Huffman. But no. A bunch of them, led by Bosco and this group of Mendo wanks, er bipartisan community leaders, are supporting Lawson even though, if the overriding standard is gender, there are also two perfectly acceptable liberal female candidates, Susan Adams, a Marin County supervisor, and Tiffany Renee of the Petaluma City Council. For straight up Fox News types, there are also two Republicans. The enthusiasm for Ms. Lawson is inexplicable given the many options in the race. Heck, we even have a psychiatrist, William Courtney, in the race. He's running because he thinks this lunatic country could be straightened out by marijuana. And there's a seaweed harvester in John Lewallen and a purely green guy in Andy Caffrey.

NATCH WE get an unmoored quote in support of Lawson from Ukiah’s unmoored mayor, Mary Anne Landis: “Stacey Lawson is the candidate who can help us make more in Mendocino County. Along with her strong business background and great people skills, she’s energetic and focused on promoting sustainable solutions to issues we face around economic development. She’s just the woman we need to represent us in Washington.”

NOT THAT LONG AGO, Mendocino County had a real economy based on timber, fishing, ranching, and tourism. Outside timber corporations destroyed the timber economy, fishing was lost to a variety of causes, ranching became unsustainable, and tourism, always precarious in a down economy, does not provide the kind of well-paying employment timber and fishing once did. Today's economy is based on two intoxicants, one illegal, one legal — dope and wine. There are also a large number of Landis-Rodin types dominant in public employment and the local non-profits. The industrial wine industry is wholly dependent on Mexican labor. The quality of our schools and much of our local political leadership is unlikely to attract the environmentally sensitive, high-paying, techno-groove-o businesses the financially secure residents of Westside Ukiah are always going on about. A person with “a strong business background and great people skills” provides exactly what in this context?

FRIENDS OF THE WILLITS LIBRARY presents its annual Memorial Holiday Book Sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 25, 26 and 27 from 10am-4pm at the Willits Public Library meeting room, 390 East Commercial Street in Willits.

PETER PHILLIPS WRITES: “A recently organized coalition of Sonoma State faculty, students and local Occupy activists is calling for a public demonstration of outrage in response to the announcement that former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill will receive an honorary degree at SSU’s graduation ceremony this year. People all over the country are invited to the Sonoma State campus for a ‘Day of Shame on Sonoma State University.’ The protest begins at noon on Saturday, May 12, and does not intend in any way to disrupt graduation proceedings. On the contrary, this is an urgent call to defend the integrity of the ceremony and denounce the unacceptable insult that Mr. Weill's dishonorable doctorate degree represents. Sanford (Sandy) Weill was the driving force in shattering the Glass-Steagall Act, which for decades had prohibited Wall Street investment firms from gambling with their depositors' money. Its reversal opened the gates for the housing crisis in 2008, the plague of foreclosures devastating our communities and the economic recession that has stolen our children's future. Mr. Weill thus enabled the merger that created Citigroup, a major player in the criminal banking practices thereby unleashed. Given his unquestioned responsibility in this, Time Magazine recently included Weill's name in its list of the ‘25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.’ A major purveyor of toxic subprime mortgages, Citigroup required $45 billion in government investment and a $300 billion guarantee of its bad assets to avoid bankruptcy; yet Sandy Weill retired an incredibly wealthy man shortly before the ‘banking collapse he helped engineer’ required a taxpayer bail-out. Now Mr. Weill is being rewarded with a degree in Humane Letters for his donation of $12 million of his ill-gotten dollars to complete SSU's construction of the controversial Green Musical Center. In fact, many of the students in the SSU graduating class this year are leaving school saddled with Citigroup student loans, all part of the trillion dollar student loan debt from which graduates across the nation will be struggling for years to escape. Graduating SSU student Melanie Sanders' nicely sums up the student perspective: ‘I must now call my grandma and explain that I will be protesting at my graduation ceremony. I am personally offended that he will be at my graduation and receiving a degree.’ The ‘Day of Shame on Sonoma State University’ starts at noon on the SSU campus at 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, on May 12, 2012. Please respect our commitment to non-violent assembly and protect the integrity of this graduation ceremony, deploying your creativity to inform and articulate compassionate resistance, and honoring the dignity of this treasured moment for students and their families by dressing appropriately in black.”


One Response to Mendocino County Today: May 7, 2012

  1. Harvey Reading Reply

    May 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Good on the SSU (do they give doctorates or is a masters all it takes to become a university) students.

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