Mendocino County Today: October 23, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 23, 2013
WE'VE ENJOYED the recent presence of a high school kid, Ms. Mayte Guerrero, as an “intern.” The Anderson Valley Education Foundation paid Ms. Guerrero to endure a couple of hours a day in the cluttered gloom, and relentlessly bad vibes of the AVA's turbulent office high atop the Farrer Building, downtown Boonville. Not to embarrass her, but Ms. Guerrero is very smart, the kind of student apprentice who gets it with one telling, and she's mannerly and pleasant. She seems to have emerged psychically unscarred from her summer adventure. You talk to some kids, or try to, and all you get back is grunts and animal sounds or, worse, an adverb attack. “Like I said to the dude, like dude…” Having a kid around the office one has to watch what one says; it's easy to forget how young they are and how old and cynical you are. When I was a kid the input I got ranged from “Sit down and shut up” to “Lemme tell you something, kid, and this is all you need to know about life — Most people are nuts. Don't be surprised by anything they do or anything that happens.” Which wasn't bad advice, really, as general life-prep. I have vivid memories of the guy who told me that; Bob Wyman, baseball manager of a youth “all-star” team sponsored by Fisherman's Grotto Number 9. We played year-round, kind of like youth club teams do now. Wyman was an ex-fighter, and he looked like one complete with the crushed nose. How he made money was always something of a mystery because he always had plenty of free time for batting practice in the middle of the day on workdays. There were rumors that he was a professional tough guy for organized crime. Wyman was definitely a tough guy. I saw him knock out a heckler with a quick flurry of perfectly aimed, efficient punches that he got off without even looking back. We were all very, very impressed and, needless to say, never dared pop off at the guy ourselves. A lot of things he said to us, average age 16, can't be repeated here, but there wasn't, back in the day, the oppressive rhetorical coddling kids get today. I can remember things Wyman said, most of the them wildly “inappropriate” by today's mollycoddling standards; I can't remember anything I got from a classroom, high school or college, and if I had to do it over again I'd skip college all together, and I'm here to advise all you kids out there to skip it too, unless you want to be a doctor, an engineer or something else that requires real know how and training. Liberal arts? A degree in philosophy? Journalism? Creative Bloody Writing? Complete waste of your time. You want to learn to write with at least passable clarity? Read a lot. For a kid, for anybody, reading's the key to learning to write. If you don't read you'll write like a school administrator. Think like one, too, probably. And grow up to be a fascist. Figure out what really interests you, then try to smarten up enough to earn a living doing it, especially now in the crumbling economic context you'll be swimming in all your days from here on. A diploma in blah-blah is not going to help you survive, and you're going to graduate on a great big stack of debt. Back to Ms. Guerrero, AVA intern. I told her versions of the above without discouraging whatever college ambitions she may have, and she has them. Smart, second generation immigrant female? The libs at places like Stanford will slobber all over her application, maybe even charter a plane for her to fly down from Boonville for a visit with the lawns of Palo Alto. She'll do well whatever she chooses to do. But she's an exception, not the rule. If there was intelligent life anywhere in the public school system, young people would get a couple of hours a day in basic English and math then spend the rest of the day with people who actually know how to do stuff, but it's all seat time and pep rallies, and before you know it the kid is 18 and out in the world with no skills, no discipline, no money, no job, no nothing except maybe seasonal work in a pot patch. It doesn't have to be this way.
MENDOCINO COUNTY Deputy District Attorney Damon Gardner shot and wounded another man on a downtown Sacramento street early last Thursday morning during what DA David Eyster has since described as a “physical confrontation.” The shooting occurred outside a hotel at 15th and L streets in downtown Sacramento. Police responded to a report of a “knifing” where they discovered that the “knifing” was a gunshot wound to the victim's “upper body.” The police report said that “two people passed two others when an argument began between the two groups.” Everyone, natch, had been drinking. “Words escalated into a fight and then a shot was fired.” The wounded man was transported to the hospital for, miraculously, a non life-threatening injury. He has not yet been publicly identified.
GARDNER, who has a concealed weapon permit, was with another assistant Mendo DA named Alexandra Khoury. Gardner, 39, had been on paid medical leave from the district attorney's office since mid-August. Ms. Khoury, 25, was in Sacramento to attend a “legal education seminar.” It's not known why Gardner was in Sacramento, but the fetching Ms. Khoury, a collegiate tennis champ, would seem to offer plenty of incentive for his presence.
THE SACRAMENTO Police Department said in a press release that there had been no major developments in the case and detectives continue to investigate. The Gardner story, by the way, was immediately picked up by Fox News.
FORT BRAGG POLICE are still looking for a youngish man observed firing a shotgun at a PG&E substation last Saturday. Six, 12-gauge shotgun shells were found after the man fled into nearby woods when he realized he was being watched. He's described “as about 6-feet tall with shoulder length, shaggy blond hair,” and wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt with some kind of logo on the back. He had also been seen on a “Giant” brand bike found near the substation.
LAST THURSDAY (17 October) a Chinese couple was found dead, apparently murdered, in a mini-van parked near the area of the “bark dump” off Highway 20. They have now been identified as Jim Tat Kong and Cindy Bao Feng Chen. Mr. Jim was from San Pablo, Ms. Bao from San Francisco. Dollars to donuts this one is never solved, but I'll bet it had something to do with gambling; Chinese, ordinarily, are too pragmatic to kill each other over romance, and please pardon the ethnic stereotyping here. But who knows? It only takes one generation for immigrants to become as crazy as US.
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS approved the Mendocino Town Plan at a typically tumultuous meeting in the town of Mendocino on Tuesday. The key remaining issue was designation of the town as a “Sensitive Coastal Resource Area” (SCRA) which would have allowed whatever is usually designated as a “project” to be appealed to the California Coastal Commission. Board Chair Dan Hamburg passed the gavel in order to make a motion (seconded by Fort Bragg Supervisor Dan Gjerde) to approve the Town Plan with the controversial SCRA provision. The motion failed 2-3 with only Hamburg and Gjerde in favor. The same motion without the SCRA designation then passed on a 4-1 vote, with only Hamburg opposed.
EXCEPT FOR THE SCRA, most of the long-standing planning issues seemed to have been worked out to the general satisfaction of the various interest groups in the fractured community of Mendocino. A compromise on tourist rentals had been worked out in advance, with Vacation Home Rentals (aka: a single family residence available for short term rental) capped at ten and Single Unit Rentals (a second residential unit rented on a short term basis) capped at 20. The Art Center, which had been approved for 19 units in the 1992 town plan, but never had more than 13 actual units, was happy to get approval for their 13 existing units, plus one they plan to build. The Art Center units will primarily be available to instructors and students, but will also offer lower cost accommodations to tourists, as long as the bed tax is collected.
DISCUSSION OF THE SCRA was torpedoed before it began when Hamburg delivered a rant against the County’s Planning and Building staff. Back in 2006, before Hamburg was on the Board, the Supes considered the long-delayed issue and directed staff to amend the town plan to include a SCRA. Hamburg questioned why that was never done. Clearly frustrated and visibly angry, Hamburg came close to losing it as he launched into an indictment of staff. He railed against former Planning Director Ray Hall who retired at least five years ago. Hamburg even turned on CEO Carmel Angelo and County Counsel Tom parking, demanding to know why it had never been done. When he finished, Hamburg wanted to know if current Planning Director Steve Dunnicliff had anything to say. Without waiting for a reply Hamburg concluded with a sharp “I didn't think so.” And there went any opportunity, if one existed, to have a reasonable discussion of issues related to a SCRA designation.
THE MAIN ARGUMENT IN FAVOR of a SCRA is that it would provide an additional avenue of appeal of development in the small coastal hamlet. But the appeal would be to the Coastal Commission which, because its staff has been squeezed over the years since its creation, is notorious for taking forever to make decisions. The people in the town who want Mendocino to stay the same don't trust the Board of Supes over in Ukiah and don't care how long the Coastal Commission sits on a permit. A SCRA would also mean that simple projects anywhere in town, even out of sight on the east (inland) side of Highway 1, would require higher fees, longer time lines and a public hearing even if they never got appealed to the Coastal Commission. Without the SCRA designation, simple residential projects can be heard by the County’s Coastal Zoning Permit Administrator, a much more streamlined process that would still be appealable to the Board of Supes.
THE MAIN ARGUMENT AGAINST a SCRA is also that it would provide an additional avenue of appeal. The people making this argument fear getting caught up in Coastal Commission limbo. They also think its unfair that they are required to shell out big bucks for permit fees and project approval, but a disgruntled neighbor or anyone else can file an appeal with the Coastal Commission for free. So in reality, most appeals would bypass the Board of Supes and go straight to the Coastal Commission. Which, for applicants, means lots more money, lots more time, and uncertainty from year to year when or if a project will be approved. Staff will incorporate the various changes of the version finally approved by the 4-1 Board vote, and the Town Plan will come back to the Supes for final approval. Maybe by that time Hamburg will have simmered down.
POST OFFICE BUILDINGS FOR SALE!
The US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house US Post Offices. The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, most of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country. The sale of these properties will fetch about $19 billion. A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the exclusive listing for handling the sales. That company is CRI and it belongs to a man named Richard Blum. Richard Blum is the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Most voters and many of the government people who approved the deal have not made the connection between the two because they have different last names). Senator Feinstein and her husband stand to make a fortune (estimated at between $950 million and $1.1 billion!) from these transactions. His company is the sole real estate on the sale. CRI will be making a minimum of 3% and as much as 6% commission on each and every sale. All of the properties that are being sold are all fully paid for. They were purchased with U.S. taxpayers dollars. The USPS is allowed free and clear, tax exempt use. The only cost to keep them open is the cost to actually keep the doors open and the heat and lights on. The United States Postal Service doesn't even have to pay county property taxes on the subject properties. Would you put your house in foreclosure just because you couldn't afford to pay the electric bill? Well, the folks in Washington have given the Post Office the OK to do it! Worse yet, most of the net proceeds of the sales will go back to the USPS, an organization that is so poorly managed that they have lost $117 billion dollars in the past 10 years! No one in the mainstream media is even raising an eyebrow over the conflict of interest and on the possibility of corruption on the sale of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of public assets. How does a US Senator from San Francisco manage to get away with organizing and lobbying such a sweet deal? Has our government become so elitist that they have no fear of oversight? (Don’t answer that.) And it's no mere coincidence that these two public service crooks have different last names; a feeble attempt at avoiding transparency in these type of transactions. Pass this info on before it's pulled from the internet. (Verified on Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/blum.asp)
PAYBACK IS A WITCH
by Zack Anderson
Dear Dr. Zack,
A buxom barista just leaned over and handed me my latté and I believe I caught a glimpse of Nirvana. My question to you is: How often can I return to the Coffee Shack without 1) seeming to be “creepy,” and/or 2) suffering from caffeine overdose?
East Yakima, WA
Dear Mr. Phynche,
In the Hindu and Buddhist religions where it originated, Nirvana literally means “blown out” (as in a candle). The soul that achieves this state frees itself from suffering, desire, aversion and delusion. This is not you, as you are certainly on the road to ruin.
First, you drink coffee, a vile tonic also revered by the French, Italians and Turks. That should end your habit right there. Second, like most Americans, you profane and misinterpret the holy Path to Liberation by inserting your own selfish and lustful desires into the Womb of Profound Holiness. Third, leering at wage slaves chained to gasping Italian beauties full of froth that can burn your lips and sear your heart is despicable and possibly anti-Canadian. Four, is that the Coffee Shack on Elm Street or the one on South Main?
I don’t always drink coffee, but when I do, it’s a steaming cup of hot joe (and I don’t mean Biden) expertly crafted by Gold Rush Coffee, a renegade band of anarchist-poet-gourmets who roast consciousness-raising beans on the Humboldt Coast. For the sake of your soul, Mr. Phynche, I suggest you recommit to awakening (bodhi) the little Buddha inside of you by ordering from Gold Rush, thus avoiding the Buxom Barista and impure thoughts defiling your inner light. Now please send me five dollars and unworn tube socks.
Dear Dr. Zack:
My wife and I met while working at a high-tech start-up South of Market. It was a brainstorming session about how to Make Money from the Future of Now. What began as a blank whiteboard evolved into friending each other on Facebook, then Twitter, then following each other’s photographs on Pinterest. After we learned (via our Reddit accounts) that we both wrote college essays on J.D. Salinger, making us literary rock stars amongst our less educated social media friends, we got hitched, then preggers, and now have a new employee in our little incubator, Dylan Marley Mandela Chong-McMillan. When our stock options vested, we were able to buy a 323-square foot loft in the up and coming Dogpatch neighborhood (just head to Candlestick and follow the gunshots). It’s not the spacious McMansion we know that voting for Hillary in 2016 will reward us with, but it’s got great bone (a single mahogany beam separating the open-air toilet from the kitchen). But we don’t mean to gloat.
Our situation is this: last week we made plans via Foursquare to meet friends at a casual Michelin-starred café where the meats are free range and the arugula is hand-picked by children rescued from Nike factories in Manila. Since we regularly work 95 hours a week, we were looking forward to a quiet night out without the little screaming, peeing bastard. But our lazy nanny, Rosa, claimed her own seven children were sick and BART was on strike, making it difficult to babysit our little Dylan. This despite the fact that we gave her 20-minute heads-up via Imessage. Wasn’t NAFTA supposed to fix crap like this? (Hello, Rosa, this is America: ever heard of Uber, the private taxi service that Google just invested in?)
Anyhoo, so we get to the restaurant, and the hostess takes one look at our Humvee-sized designer stroller and seats us near the kitchen, where she alleges we’ll be “out of the way.” Out of the way? Which schmucky, yucky, GMO-soaked fillet of ducky did this bozo just chow down? Who wants to be out of the way when you’re sporting the limited edition Free Range Mommy Panzer™ from internet darling Baby Blitzkrieg™, with BMW struts and NASA-engineered hand brake, extra leg room, overhead cargo space, Bose surround sound, emergency oxygen tank, snow tires, pilates station, and patent-pending anti-gravity propulsion (for those steep S.F. hills!), and OnStar Anti-Predator Predator Drone Protection (uranium-tipped rockets free to anyone who voted for Obama twice).
As we expressed our displeasure at being treated like second-class citizens, voices were raised, social media payback discussed, erogenous zones ignored. What would Franny and Zooey do? The hostess called the manager, who kicked us out of the restaurant, then compounded her mistake by offering a frozen kale and wild honey treat to Dylan. Hello! Even natural sugars this close to sleepy time? Get a clue, people!
Hillary said it takes a village. Our baby is the best baby ever. He/she might be the next Jesus or Jesusita Christ, Beyoncé or Gaylord Perry. Rest assured we marched home and went straight onto Yelp to leave a scathing review of this anti-child establishment. Luckily, both Christopher-Sean and I have our medical marijuana cards (for the stress of dealing with idiots), and we fired up the vaporizer, took a couple of hits of O.G.-Hairy-Grape-White-Tip-Unleaded-Porkchop-Diesel hash melt on our domeless titanium nail, and ordered a few gluten free pizzas from the gourmet food truck-cum-private security service that patrols our condo association.
But really, Dr. Zack, we’re Democrats. We have negro friends. If baby and we don't get the respect we deserve, we’re thinking of moving to Portland or Austin. Thoughts?
Field Marshall Von Mommy
Dogpatch Heights, Dogpatch
Dear Field Marshall Von Mommy:
At least the restaurant didn't use WMDs on you and your babymob. Yes, it's a war crime for Assad to use sarin gas against children, but why don't our fearless progressives like Nancy “I Never Met An AIPAC Shekel I Didn't Grovel For” and Lady “I Can Carry A Concealed Weapon Because I'm More Important Than You” Feinstein aka DiFi The Frothing Poodle admit that AMERICA USED URANIUM TIPPED SHELLS in Fallujah and Israel used phosphorous in Palestine. Outlawed chemical weapons are okay for us to use as part of the never-ending Global War on Terror, but not cool if it's one of the few Arab dictators who don’t grovel every time Foggy Bottom farts? What a bunch of disgusting hypocrites. Why don't we invade companies that murder our children with greasy chemically enhanced burgers and low fat french fries?
The sky is darkening with chickens (and chicken mcnuggets) coming home to roost. To celebrate, I'm going to French Laundry this weekend with FOUR STROLLERS and a chimpanzee in a Seattle Seahawks jersey. With each savory course I'll think of the millions of innocent civilians we've murdered looking for nonexistent WMDs while gifting billions in profits to those friendly childcare specialists at Halliburton and the Democratic National Committee. So many graveyards, so many liberals pretending to be human! As my necrophiliac friends say, "Bone Appetite!"
A FAMILY whose grandmother was killed in US drone attack in front of children spearhead Amnesty International campaign to label such strikes war crimes
The killing of Pakistanis in US-led drone strikes are tantamount to war crimes, claim the family of a grandmother killed as she gathered vegetables for her family.
Mamana Bibi's grandchildren watched as the 68-year-old was killed by missile fire in the North Waziristan tribal region, close to the Afghan border, last October.
Her family today backed a report compiled by Amnesty International, due to be published tomorrow, in which the London-based human rights group calls on the US to comply with international law and investigate the killings.
Will I Be Next? US Drone Strikes In Pakistan examines nine strikes that were launched in 2012 and 2013, and the subsequent deaths.
It focuses on the killing of civilians — believed to number between 153 and 926, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism — including the death of Mamana Bibi and a 14-year-old boy in north western areas of Pakistan.
Mamana Bibi's grandchildren recounted in painful detail the moment she was killed before their eyes on October 24 last year.
She was gathering vegetables in the family fields in Ghundi Kala village when the attack happened.
Her son Rafeequl Rehman said: “We are ordinary people working in the education field. All of my brothers work in the schools; four as teachers, the fifth as a school assistant. My father is a renowned principal. They even named a school after him. After finishing my evening prayers in Miran Shah, I returned to my village and on the way I saw that villagers had gathered near our home.”
Desperate to discover what had happened, some local children told him his house had been hit by a drone attack.
“I was shocked and rushed to my home and saw a big gathering of people,” he added. “I rushed passed them and saw my mother’s dead body wrapped in a cloth — her body was in pieces.”
Fearing his family had been wiped out in the attack, Mr. Rehman was relieved to find all of his children had survived.
Nearly a year later, Mamana Bibi’s family has yet to receive any acknowledgment that it was the US that killed her, let alone justice or compensation for her death.
Amnesty says the US has “failed to commit to conduct investigations” into alleged deaths that have already occurred.
America views its drone program as a key weapon in the fight against insurgent groups that it says stages cross-border trips into neighboring Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama said in May that no drone strikes are conducted unless there is 'near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured'.
But Amnesty said the US is secretive about the program, calling on the government to 'come clean' and hold those responsible to account.
The group claims the clandestine nature of the scheme means there is no way to tell what steps are taken to prevent civilian casualties.
The report also throws the spotlight on an even deadlier incident, which happened in North Waziristan on July 6, last year, reports dawn.com.
Witnesses and relatives said a total of 18 male laborers were killed, none of whom had links to militant groups, they claim.
A volley of missiles fell on a tent where a group of men were having an evening meal, while a second strike hit those who came to the aid of the wounded - one of a number of attacks, which have hit rescuers, Amnesty International said.
Pakistani intelligence officials at the time identified the dead as suspected militants. The US did not respond to dawn.com's request for comment on the strike.
The report will be released jointly with another report on US drone strikes in Yemen.
Pakistan has repeatedly said that the airstrikes are a violation of its sovereignty, branding the attacks 'counter-productive' and a violation of international law.
Premier Nawaz Sharif, who is currently visiting the US, said prior to his arrival that he will take up the issue during his meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
He previously raised the subject at this year's United National General Assembly session, and sought an end to the attacks.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, during his visit to Islamabad this year, also urged for the controversial strikes to be brought within the sphere of international law.
Moreover the Bureau of Investigative Journalism had launched a report aimed at keeping track of victims of drone attacks.
These groups indicated that the attacks have killed between 2,065 and 3,613 people, the report said. Between 153 and 926 were thought to be civilians.
Amnesty said it is concerned that the attacks outlined in the report and others may have resulted in unlawful killings that constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes, even though the US insists the strikes are legal.
“We cannot find any justification for these killings. There are genuine threats to the USA and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances,' said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Pakistan researcher. “But it is hard to believe that a group of laborers, or an elderly woman surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States.”
In 2004, the US carried out its first drone strike in Pakistan. Since then it is thought nearly 250 attacks have hit the country, the majority targeting North Waziristan.
President Barack Obama significantly ramped up attacks when he took office in 2009, and the number peaked the following year with over 100 strikes.
The frequency has steadily dropped since then, partly because of growing tension between Pakistan and the US. There have only been around two dozen strikes so far this year.
“Amnesty International is also extremely concerned about the failure of the Pakistani authorities to protect and enforce the rights of victims of drone strikes,” the report states. “Pakistan has a duty to independently and impartially investigate all drone strikes in the country and ensure access to justice and reparation for victims of violations.”
Amnesty said those victims they interviewed, who had no apparent connection to militant groups, have either received no compensation or inadequate assistance from the Pakistani government.
The top political official in North Waziristan gave Bibi's family around $100 to cover medical expenses for the children injured in the strike, even though the total cost to the family, including loss of livestock and repairs to their home, was around $9,500, the rights group said.
None of the victims in the attack on the laborers received any compensation, the report added.
(Courtesy, the London Daily Mail)
AN ENCHANTED EVENING FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.
The Enchanted Pumpkin Path returns to the Waldorf School of Mendocino County on Thursday, October 31 from 5 – 8 pm. Continuing its annual tradition, WSMC transforms its Calpella campus into a magical land including storybook characters that come to life as families travel through the Halloween pumpkin path. A perennial favorite, this year’s Enchanted Pumpkin Path will feature the fantasy stories of naturalist Beatrix Potter.
Parents, staff, alumni and faculty transform themselves and the school into engaging vignettes with characters such as Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter, Jemima Puddleduck and Tom Kitten. The community gathering for the whole family also offers wholesome activities and live music with the Trainsinger. A gourmet café will feature warming and hearty fall foods for purchase.
Tickets for this all ages event can be purchased at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah and Trillium/Cat’s Meow in Willits. Tickets are $8.00 for adults and children; babes-in-arms are free. Rain date is Saturday November 2, same time and place, and will be decided by noon on the 31. The event is held at the Waldorf School of Mendocino’s Calpella campus located at 6280 Third Street in Calpella. Call 707-485-8719 for more information.