Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Aug 4, 2016
by AVA News Service, August 4, 2016
AV COUPLE BRINGS ‘PALETA’ POPSICLES TO UKIAH
by Carole Brodsky
The simple counters and stacks and stacks of frozen popsicles at La Buena Michoacana Natural Ice Cream and Fruit Bars belie the work that happens behind the scenes, when owners Liz Echeverria, her husband Luciano Mendoza and staff process the dozens of fruits, teas, vegetables, spices and other ingredients to create paletas - specifically, their signature popsicles, along with home-made ice cream and other Mexican frozen desserts.
For generations, Paleterías, popsicle stores, have shared the moniker of “La Michoacana” throughout Mexico with surprisingly little grouse about copyright infringement or licensing lawsuits. The legendary business sprouted out of the Tocumbo, Michoacán region, where several entrepreneurs separately left their hometown, learned how to create popsicles and formed the basis for what would be a loosely-associated, very successful business brand, which successfully grew across Mexico and is now having similar success in the U.S.
In California, communities lucky enough to have a Paletería will often see the Michoacana name included in the store’s name - a tradition honoring the founders of the original business and a shoutout to what is, in Mexico a well-known brand.
“This was my husband’s dream - to open an ice cream store. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it,” notes Echeverria. “I was working as a front desk secretary at Anderson Valley Elementary School. I was very stable in my work. Luciano convinced me, and I’m very happy he did. We’re super happy with the business. We both enjoy it so much.”
It’s not unusual for families to covet popsicle-making secrets. Even though there are estimates of between 8,000 and 15,000 Paleterías in Mexico, they are not identified as a unified franchise as it is understood in the U.S. Shop owners operate independently. “We got a lot of help from my relatives who own three shops in Santa Maria. They taught us how to make the ice cream and popsicles, so that’s why we’re here. We learned everything from them. We worked with them for a week at their shops, and then they came up here for a week,” she explains.
When the family operation opened in May of 2015, they started with 27 flavors. Luciano got bitten by the flavor bug. “Now we’re up to 48 popsicle flavors. Every few days, my husband walks in and says, ‘I got an idea,” so we try a new one,” Echeverria smiles.
“It’s a lot of work, more than eight hours a day sitting at a desk, but it’s been great.”
Right now, the Echeverrias are producing about 1,500 popsicles weekly, sometimes more, depending on the weather. Along with popsicles, they produce hand-made ice cream. “We don’t use any stabilizers or artificial flavorings. Our fruit bars are pure fruit and a just a little bit of sugar, she notes. “But bubble gum ice cream is bubble gum flavoring, of course,” she smiles.
Making the popsicles takes about nine hours, says Echeverria. “We prep everything we can the day before. There is a lot of cutting involved. You can see the cut pieces of fruit inside our popsicles,” she notes. Molds go into a machine that fast-freezes the popsicles. Each mold holds 30 popsicles.
Popsicles are the most popular item in the store. “Some people say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen these. They are amazing!’ We have quite a few customers that come every day.”
Right now, there are 48 flavors of popsicles available. They can be divided into the cream flavors, made with dairy or the water-based popsicles, made with fruit.
Cream-based flavors cover just about everything you’d find in a traditional store and then there’s more- eggnog, prune, quince jam, coffee and cream, strawberries and cream, tequila, coconut, yogurt and berries, rose petals, rice-pudding flavored arroz, pumpkin and cream and avocado
Water-based popsicle flavors include familiar and exotic fruits - mango, lemon, pineapple, papaya, tamarind, watermelon, mango with Chile, cucumber with Chile, papaya, strawberry and lots more.
“All our popsicles can be esquimales - dipped in chocolate. And our water-based popsicles are fat free,” she smiles.
Liz Echeverria (Photo Courtesy Chris Pugh, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
Echevarria is very proud to offer a special fruit for paleta aficionados. “One of the rarer flavors for this area is a popsicle made from the Nanche fruit. “It’s a fruit from Mexico that looks like a yellow cherry. We also have Soursop and the Mamey fruit - on the outside the Mamey looks like a mango, but it’s shaped more like a papaya.”
The ice cream flavors tend more to the creamy, with popular tequila, chocolate, Mexican Chocolate, lemon, strawberry and more. Ice cream is served in scoops, cones, waffle cones, banana splits and in popular fruit bowls.
“One of our specialties is Pico de Gallo, fresh fruit with salt and lemon, like a fruit cocktail,” We also serve fresh strawberries and warmed cream.”
Freshly prepared beverages change weekly. “This week we have horchata, hibiscus, Pina Colada, strawberry and watermelon drinks, which are very popular right now.”
Like every Michoacana, Echeverria makes the cinnamon-flavored Michoacana popsicle that started the paleta craze about 70 years ago.
“My home town is about 15 minutes from the birthplace of La Michoacana. Every year in December, they have a Popsicle Fair for two weeks with music, fun and lots of popsicles. We feel lucky to be able to have our business here. Today, only the very wealthy would be able to have a business like this in Mexico,” she explains.
La Buena Michoacana can create special orders for parties and other events.
“After the movies, this is the place to come,” she concludes.
La Buena Michoacana’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days per week. They are located at 1252 Airport Blvd. Park Falls Plaza, behind Les Schwab Tires. For more information phone (707) 467-1100 or visit their Facebook page.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
A READER WRITES:
"Yesterday afternoon we passed the BIG DIG (which has now lost almost all of the almost full status it miraculously collected in a very brief time early this year from "rainfall" or "runoff") and saw a large number of workers (very large, shoulder to shoulder) working in the one bare patch of the surrounding vineyard. They appeared to be planting new vines from gallon (long skinny) containers. Who plants new plants in summer? With the temp in the high 90s? Going into a hot August and hotter September? There were a lot of cars parked along AV Way near the operation. But…there were also three shiny, big, new busses pulling out of the east Fitch Lane exit. One of them passed me while parked at the Boonville Post Office. It was called Kenny or Kerry Lines, or similar, I think. I could not see if it was full or empty, nor did I see anything more of the other two. But, given the accident on Hwy 99, which involved charter busses taking passengers from Mexico to Washington (obvious destination to pick apples?) I wondered if there is an organized rent-a-transit picker/planter effort in AV? Any clue?"
“BIG DIG” refers to a huge irrigation pond near Boonville. Any bigger, the crater-size insult to nearby Anderson Creek would be legally classified as a lake. It has recently been emptied and re-filled, why no one knows and the water wasters who did it aren't saying. The area is mostly in vineyard and, I believe, is owned by the Cakebread Wine outfit.
MANY COUNTY VINEYARDS now import Mexican labor from the I-5 corridor, as does MRC to do its hacking and squirting and replanting.
AS WE OFTEN COMPLAIN here in Boonville's beloved community newspaper, the chemically dependent wine grape industry is doing huge damage to the natural life of the Anderson Valley. It's wine grape chemical runoff that now annually poisons our rivers and streams, causing the state to issue warnings re toxicity to humans. As of right now, for instance, even though it is barely flowing and is silted up at its mouth, grape growers (and billionaires like Jeff Skoll) are pumping water from the poisoned and depleted Navarro. (Slob marijuana growers are another hazard to the natural life of all areas of Mendocino County but aren't as prevalent in the Anderson Valley as they are in the North County.)
MANY OF THE WINE GRAPE operations in the Anderson Valley inherited riparian access to our year-round streams and our one river, the Navarro, by buying old farms and ranches bordering streams that feed the Navarro. The old timers used water sparingly for modest orchards and gardens. The wine industry simply helps itself without regard for God or even their fellow despoilers. Riparian rights are now, fundamentally, a huge loophole of unintended consequences through which industrial grape growing sucks up finite waters and poisons what's left.
AS FOR SUMMER plantings, why not? The industry has been doing it for years now, as acres of new vineyard proliferate everywhere in the hills.
MOVIE MAKING IN YORKVILLE? Tuesday morning two CHP officers were posted at the entrance to the Pronosolino Ranch as a couple of big show biz buses rolled in. Yes, the CHP gets reimbursed for officer time and, yes, the scenic areas of Mendo and HumCo are often movie (or advertising backdrop) venues.
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THE BOSS DROPS BY. Steve Dunnicliff of the County's Planning and Building Department, stopped in recently and, truth to tell, he impressed us as smart, articulate, and knowledgeable, qualities we don't often associate with local bureaucrats or elected officials. A young family man, Dunnicliff is a native of Healdsburg, a graduate of Cardinal Newman High School whose family once owned Healdsburg Printing. We see this guy as County CEO material, hopefully sooner than later.
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WE ALREADY LOVE the latest euphemism for the homeless. Wait for it… "service resistant."
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AS THE SS TRUMP runs up on the rocks, is anybody surprised that lots of big shot Republicans are going over to Hillary? And/or plotting to somehow dump Trump? Both parties are more alike than they are different, the Republicans being more retro on social issues, but the first allegiance of both parties is to the oligarchy. But Trump is a true wild card. He even scares his fellow oligarchs.
IF TRUMP had simply blanded down his opinions like most Republicans do for public consumption, he'd easily beat the omni-awful Hillary. But why promise to wall off Mexico "and make them pay for it"? And insulting the Muslim immigrant parents of a war hero is just nuts. It's almost like he suffers a form of Tourettes, blurting out provocative responses to whatever pops up in his fraught mind.
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LOOKING AROUND the Anderson Valley and everywhere else in Mendocino County (and much of the United States), if Mexicans disappeared tomorrow our economy would grind to a screeching halt. Trump could have left it at, "We've got to control our borders" and all the Mex-haters still would have gotten the message the more primitive elements of white American society seem to think they're being over-run.
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A CALLER says the Filigreen Farms blueberries now on sale at the Co-Op, Ukiah, are "unbelievably good." And from Boonville where Filigreen maintains a farm off Anderson Valley Way supervised by the Tebbutt family, who've worked this and many other agricultural miracles before our very eyes. They will soon open a roadside stand, also on Anderson Valley Way where they've re-done an old garage into a minor architectural beauty.
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MID-SEASON roster changes have so changed the Giants, I have to keep Googling the new guys to see who the heck they are and where they've been. I'm going to miss third baseman Matt Duffy, the splendid splinter who's more of a splinter than Ted Williams ever was. Duffy could tread water in a test tube, as the saying about skinny guys goes, but he hit with power and could really move on the bases. The Giants might live to regret trading him.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: JULY 19, 2004
Mendocino County Is Crazier & Fatter Than The Rest Of California
by Mark Scaramella
How nuts are we? Plenty. Fat, too.
According to page 33 of the 2004 Mendocino County Community Health Status Report — an expensively produced, grant-funded 40-page booklet — we’re mucho nutso and fatso grando.
The bad news, or confirmation of long-held suspicions, is found on page 33 of the report where we’re informed that the US Surgeon General, speaking in 1999, declared that an “estimated 20% of all Americans will experience a diagnosable serious mental illness sometime in their life.”
In Mendocino County, our hard-hitting helping professionals tell us, that translates as 20% of our nearly 90,000 citizens.
At any one time, then, considered as a statistical probability, about 18,000 Mendolanders can be said to be officially wacko.
That’s one nut among every five of us. Crazy and fat, it seems.
61% of Mendolanders are overweight, compared to 54% statewide, and 24% of Mendolanders — one in four — are obese, a statistic which includes Mendocino County’s kids who are as fat as its adults and getting heftier by the year.
Of our five Supervisors then, at least one is 5150 at any given time. (As it happens, one sitting supervisor is on heavy psychotropic drugs but still goes on public crying jags at supervisors’ meetings. Another supervisor is an alcoholic. Another a Republican, an incurable mass delusion that considers the current occupant of the White House a plausible person for the task. And the other two suffer from infantile fixation disorder, which is rampant in Mendocino County; and characterized by persistent interest in the music of one’s youth into late middle-age.
There are some 30 department heads at work in Mendocino County government; six of them, statistically, are crazy. (The visibly deranged include the County Counsel and his staff and include almost all the supervisory personnel at Mental Health, a twitchingly paranoid group of people who think everyone is out to get them. In fact, only the supervisors want to get them.)
From July 2002 to June 2003 Mendocino’s well-staffed Mental Health Department “and its contract providers” served 2,490 clients, up 16% from the previous year. 52% of these were women. 35% were depressed, 21% were schizophrenic, 19% were bipolar, and 11% suffered anxiety. The report plays up Mental Health’s 24-7 Crisis Center (which is now sorta open 17-7 days and early evenings only. The crucial hours of midnight to seven a.m. nobody answers the phone.) The Crisis Center “saw 331 individuals in crisis” who were not hospitalized but who stayed at the Crisis center “for up to 23 hours to resolve their issues.”
Twenty-three whole hours to resolve their issues! Where do I sign up? I’m not clinically depressed, schizo, bipolar or anxious, but I’d sure like to resolve my issues in 23 hours or less. (As long as the Mental Health staffers keep their distance.) But how exactly is “issue” defined?
Nothing in the report is defined with any precision, which isn’t surprising given the rather extreme verbal deficiencies of the authors, the Mental Health Department of Mendocino County. And fatuity, though epidemic, is not treatable.
Mental Health provided “psychotropic medication management” to 1,092 adults during the period cited, managing at least some “issues” chemically, it seems.
But what about the kids? How were their “issues” resolved?
“Child psychiatric services were made available to 94 children in 2003 through the telepsychiatry contract operated out of offices in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg.”
What is telepsychiatry? A phone call from a psychiatrist in Bombay?
“Children in Mendocino County have access to mental health services through the schools, various non-profit organizations, private practitioners throughout the community, and the Mendocino County Mental Health Department.”
In other words, crazy kids are going to get a lot crazier.
Not that Mendocino County lacks mental health professionals. Hell, all the hippies had to go somewhere when they came down out of the hills in ’71.
Mendocino County has 115 licensed Marriage and Family Counselors (second only to nurses in the list of licensed non-physician health professionals) and 61 licensed social workers. The county’s divorce rate runs about 60%, perhaps higher among marriage and family counselors.
There are 25 licensed acupuncturists and 35 licensed chiropractors to unkink the kinks the shrinks are unable to medicate or blather to non-“issue.”
Seventy-six children received “services” in 2003 as part of their Individualized Education Plan, “which called for mental health services in order to ensure success in school.” 80% of these were eligible for MediCal. (MediCal apparently pays for the pharmaceutical speed known as Ritalin, too. Small boys are cranked to the max for their alleged hyperactivity, childhood now being generally frowned upon.) “The remaining students, by law, received these services at no cost to the family.” (This is the usual disclaimer from local bureaucrats implying that despite their cush salaries they’re also a little more charitable than most of the rest of us. Mendolib not only wants to be paid well for making crazy people crazier, it wants to be loved!)
The Community Health Status Report says that an almost unbelievable 26% of County Jail inmates are receiving psychotropic medications — 714 inmates got psychiatric drugs in 2003. This statistic is suspicious, though. It may just be a reflection of how many of the County’s nuts are treated by the cops at the jail after they’ve done a public wig-out; the more active psychos are now the responsibility of law enforcement.
Psychotropic medications also may be prescribed to keep certain inmates sedated, not because they’ve tossed their bonnet. Nevertheless, according to Mental Health’s own stats more than twice as many people get “psychiatric services” in jail than at the crisis center.
Still, given that upwards of 20% of the population is starkers, there are a lot more nuts than the pecans getting treatment at the jail or County Mental Health.
The Mental Health Department summary concludes with this footnote: “An estimated number of residents in Mendocino County not receiving needed services was approximately 2,500.”
Most of the Mental Health services provided by the Mental Health Department and their contract providers were paid for by taxpayers via MediCal and Medicare; the uninsured were covered out of general public funds. Only 7% of Mental Health’s psychiatric services were paid for by private insurers.
The Department of Mental Health gets a lot of taxpayer money to provide “treatment,” but even though the department is (still) more than adequately staffed at well over 100 people as of last year, the seriously crazy people are handled by the cops and “contract providers.”
After this year’s round of budget cuts in Mental Health, there will be fewer than the 140 people employed at Mental Health’s peak staffing because it’s obvious that their workload does not warrant that many people getting paid to do mental health work that is now done by police agencies and private contractors. Mental Health closed the Psychiatric Health Facility (the PHF or “puff” Unit) years ago and has already cut the 24-hour crisis center back to part-time, creating a virtual shit storm of protest from Mental Health client advocates, the Mental Health Advisory Board and the Department itself. Expect a virtual chorus of feral howls when these latest cuts are made.
Medicare pays far more of the cost of hospitalization in Mendocino County than any other funding source (46%). Private insurance (mostly tax-funded via government employee health insurance plans, but which also includes auto insurance and workers comp) pays only 26%, and MediCal pays only 21%. Almost a quarter of Mendolanders are uninsured, most of whom are illegal immigrant vineyard workers, poor, and/or employed by employers who do not provide health insurance.
There are seven medical clinics in Mendocino County — Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, Gualala, Potter Valley, Anderson Valley, and Laytonville. Of these only Laytonville and Gualala offer acupuncture services, Laytonville logged 2200 acupuncture treatments in 2002, and Gualala more than 1000. There’s no accounting for exactly which medical conditions were treated by acupuncture, but whatever it was it no doubt resolved some issues.
Although Mendocino County is probably America’s number one consumer of medicinal marijuana, the Mendocino Community Health Status Report mysteriously ignores the devil weed’s alleged healing properties.
Other depressing statistics: Mendo is ranked sixth in the state in the rate of death from cancer, which the report implies is mostly related to Mendo’s higher than average numbers of smokers. (34% of Mendolanders smoke every day, compared to a statewide rate of 28%.) Little mention is made of pesticide use or industrial chemicals as contributing factors to the high cancer rate.
As Mendolanders age, they fall down a lot. 44% (1100) of non-fatal hospitalized injuries in Mendocino County were the result of falls, and 63% of the 1100 fallers were people 65 years of age and older.
Mendocino County, according to our homegrown experts, is one of the fattest, craziest counties in the state. And given student test scores, we might soon be the dumbest, too.
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ARE WE fatter and crazier than we were back in 2004? Stay tuned.
WESTPORT FIRE DEPARTMENT BARBECUE on August 20
The Westport Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring its 39th Annual Fundraising Barbecue on August 20 at the Westport Headlands in Westport.
Bryan Hammon (2008)
On August 1, 2016 at 11:55 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were summoned to a coroner's investigation at a remote address in the 18500 block of Walker Lake Road in Willits. Upon arrival, Deputies found a deceased adult male who was subsequently identified as being Bryan Hammon who resided at the location. The death was found to be suspicious in nature and Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Investigative Services Bureau were summoned to the scene. Detectives were assisted by criminalists from the California Department of Justice in processing the scene to help in determining the cause of Hammon's death. The investigation is ongoing and an autopsy was conducted on August 2, 2016 but results are pending blood-alcohol and toxicology analysis. Anyone who may have information that would assist Detectives in this investigation is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office tip-line at 707-234-2100.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Acosta, Alvarez-Carrillo, Barragan, Butler
FERNANDO ACOSTA, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
CARINA ALVAREZ-CARRILLO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
URIEL BARRAGAN, Talmage. DUI.
DANIEL BUTLER, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.
Eddy, Flores, Glodo
TARRAN EDDY, Ukiah. DUI, petty theft, parole violation.
STEVEN FLORES, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
ANGEL GLODO, Carlotta/Piercy. Pot cultivation, possession for sale, conspiracy.
Hodgges, King, Pernice, Rea
JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
SHANE KING, Ukiah. Trespassing, use of offensive words in public to provoke violation reaction, indecent exposure, probation revocation.
AARON PERNICE, Carlotta/Piercy. Pot cultivation, possession for sale, conspiracy.
CRUZ REA, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
Sanchez, Tillman, Wilson
SHERI SANCHEZ, Fort Bragg. Grand theft.
TASHINA TILLMAN, Willits. Probation revocation.
SEAN WILSON, Willits. Failure to appear.
ART IN THE REDWOODS - August 13-14
Art in the Redwoods Art Festival celebrates its 55th year, the weekend of August 13 -14, at the Gualala Arts Center. I will be displaying my unique and eclectic mixed media jewelry there, in the circle adjoining the art center. I would love to show you some of my work.
The fair is held at 46501 Old State Highway, Gualala. Hours are Saturday, August 13, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The festival is held in conjunction with the Fine Art exhibit in the Arts Center gallery. The Champagne Preview is on Friday evening, August 12th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ($10.00) Outdoor artist booths will be open for a sneak preview from 4 — 6 p.m. The Fine Art exhibit sneak preview is from 4:30 — 7 p.m. Award presentations and judge's critique will take place Friday at 6 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater.
— Ellen Athens
FEDS NAIL TRESPASS GROWER
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Melinda Van Horne was sentenced today to 12 months and a day in prison for damaging national conservation land through her marijuana cultivation operation, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch.
Van Horne, 43, of Whitethorn, pleaded guilty on March 23, 2016, to depredation against the property of the United States. According to the plea agreement, Van Horne admitted to causing over $100,000 in environmental damage to federal lands in the King Range National Conservation Area through her marijuana cultivation operation. In October 2007, Van Horne purchased a house next to Paradise Ridge in Humboldt County, Calif. Paradise Ridge is part of a congressionally designated National Conservation Area administered by the Bureau of Land Management for the conservation and protection of public lands for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. In 2008, Van Horne made a proposal to the government offering to trade portions of her private property in exchange for the federal conservation land. The Bureau of Land Management rejected the trade based on the national conservation status of the land. Van Horne nonetheless decided to proceed with her marijuana cultivation operation, causing substantial damage to the protected area.
“Marijuana cultivation operations on public lands present an ongoing threat to these important national resources,” said United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch. “This office will protect these vital wilderness areas from the marijuana growers who endanger public safety and leave environmental destruction in their wake.”
With Van Horne’s consent and knowledge, and later at her direction, vegetation was stripped from portions of the federally managed conservation area, land was excavated and graded, and eleven greenhouses and other structures were constructed on federal lands. The work was done in order to grow marijuana plants for sale. Van Horne also used facilities that diverted water from the nearby Bridge Creek to irrigate the marijuana plants. The bulldozing and excavation of federal land caused that land to become unstable and to erode into two rivers that provide crucial spawning and rearing habitats for threatened and federally protected salmon and steelhead.
In September 2013, agents executing warrants to search the property found 1,654 marijuana plants growing on federal land and in the garage of the adjoining house. The agents also found over 17 kilograms of marijuana at another location where Van Horne was residing. Van Horne admitted growing marijuana with at least five other people and admitted she was one of the organizers of the operation.
Van Horne was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on November 17, 2015. She was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(vii); possession with intent to distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C); maintaining a place for manufacturing marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a); and depredation against property of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361. Under the plea agreement, Van Horne pleaded guilty to the depredation against property of the United States.
The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge, following a guilty plea to depredation against property of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361. In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer also sentenced the defendant to perform 300 hours of community service, ordered the defendant to pay restitution, and ordered her to serve a three-year period of supervised release. Bureau of Land Management engineers estimate the cost to repair the damage at $107,754, which Van Horne has agreed to pay as restitution in connection with her guilty plea. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on November 4, 2016.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita F. Lin is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Theresa Benitez, Rawaty Yim, and Marina Ponomarchuk. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Land Management and Drug Enforcement Administration.
CAN JILL CARRY BERNIE'S BATON? A Look At The Green Candidate's Radical Funding Solution
by Ellen Brown
Bernie Sanders supporters are flocking to Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential candidate, with donations to her campaign exploding nearly 1000% after he endorsed Hillary Clinton. Stein salutes Sanders for the progressive populist movement he began and says it is up to her to carry the baton. Can she do it? Critics say her radical policies will not hold up to scrutiny. But supporters say they are just the medicine the economy needs.
Stein goes even further than Sanders on several key issues, and one of them is her economic platform. She has proposed a “Power to the People Plan” that guarantees basic economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities; living-wage jobs for every American who needs to work; an improved “Medicare for All” single-payer public health insurance program; tuition-free public education through university level; and the abolition of student debt. She also supports a basic income guarantee; the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, separating depository banking from speculative investment banking; the breakup of megabanks into smaller banks; federal postal banks to service the unbanked and under-banked; and the formation of publicly-owned banks at the state and local level.
As with Sanders’ economic proposals, her plan has been challenged as unrealistic. Where will Congress find the money?
But Stein argues that the funds can be found. Going beyond Bernie, she calls for large cuts to the bloated military budget, which makes up 55% of federal discretionary spending; and progressive taxation, ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share. Most controversial, however, is her plan to tap up the Federal Reserve. Pointing to the massive sums the Fed produced out of the blue to bail out Wall Street, she says the same resources used to save the perpetrators of the crisis could be made available to its Main Street victims, beginning with the students robbed of their futures by massive student debt..
It Couldn’t Be Done Until It Was
Is tapping up the Fed realistic? Putting aside for the moment the mechanics of pulling it off, the central bank has indeed revealed that it has virtually limitless resources, as seen in the radical “emergency measures” taken since 2008.
The Fed first surprised Congress when it effectively “bought” AIG, a private insurance company, for $80 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, “Many of us were . . . taken aback when the Fed had $80 billion to invest — to put into AIG just out of the blue. All of a sudden we wake up one morning and AIG has received $80 billion from the Fed. So of course we’re saying, Where’s this money come from?”
The response was, “Oh, we have it. And not only that, we have more.”
How much more was revealed in 2011, after an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the 2010 Wall Street reform law prompted the Government Accounting Office to conduct the first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve. It revealed that the Fed had provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the economic crisis. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” said Sanders in a press release.
Then there was the shocker of “quantitative easing” (QE), an unconventional monetary policy in which the central bank creates new money electronically to buy financial assets such as Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (many of them “toxic”) from the banks. Critics said QE couldn’t be done because it would lead to hyperinflation. But it was done, and that dire result has not occurred.
Unfortunately, the economic stimulus that QE was supposed to trigger hasn’t occurred either. QE has failed because the money has gotten no further than the balance sheets of private banks. To stimulate the demand that will jumpstart the economy, new money needs to get into the real economy and the pockets of consumers.
Why QE Hasn’t Worked, and What Would
The goal of QE as currently implemented is to return inflation to target levels by increasing private sector borrowing. But today, as economist Richard Koo explains, individuals and businesses are paying down debt rather than taking out new loans. They are doing this although credit is very cheap, because they need to rectify their debt-ridden balance sheets in order to stay afloat. Koo calls it a “balance sheet recession.”
As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, the vast majority of the money supply is now created by banks when they make loans. Money is created when loans are made, and it is extinguished when they are paid off. When loan repayment exceeds borrowing, the money supply “deflates” or shrinks. New money then needs to be injected to fill the breach. Currently, the only way to get new money into the economy is for someone to borrow it into existence; and since the private sector is not borrowing, the public sector must, just to replace what has been lost in debt repayment. But government borrowing from the private sector means running up interest charges and hitting deficit limits.
The alternative is to do what governments arguably should have been doing all along: issue the money directly to fund their budgets.
Central bankers have largely exhausted their toolkits, prompting some economists to recommend some form of “helicopter money” – newly-issued money dropped directly into the real economy. Funds acquired from the central bank in exchange for government securities could be used to build infrastructure, issue a national dividend, or purchase and nullify federal debt. Nearly interest-free loans could also be made by the central bank to state and local governments, in the same way they were issued to rescue an insolvent banking system.
Just as the Fed bought federal and mortgage-backed securities with money created on its books, so it could buy student or other consumer debt bundled as “asset-backed securities.” But in order to stimulate economic activity, the central bank would have to announce that the debt would never be collected on. This is similar to the form of “helicopter money” recently suggested by former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to the Japanese, using debt instruments called “non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date” – bonds that can’t be sold or cashed out by the central bank and that bear no interest.
The Bernanke proposal (which he says could also be used by the US Fed in an emergency) involves the government issuing bonds, which it sells to the central bank for dollars generated digitally by the bank. The government then spends the funds directly into the economy, bypassing the banks.
Something similar could be done as a pilot project with student debt, Stein’s favorite target for relief. The US government could pay the Department of Education for the monthly payments coming due for students not in default or for whom payment had been suspended until they found employment. This would free up income in those households to spend on other consumer goods and services, boosting the economy in a form of QE for Main Street.
In QE as done today, the central bank reserves the right to sell the bonds it purchases back into the market, in order to reverse any hyperinflationary effects that may occur in the future. But selling bonds and taking back the cash is not the only way to shrink the money supply. The government could just raise taxes on sectors that are currently under-taxed (tax-dodging corporations and the super-rich) and void out the additional money it collects. Or it could nationalize “systemically important” banks that are insolvent or have failed to satisfy Dodd-Frank “living will” requirements (a category that now includes five of the country’s largest banks), and void out some of the interest collected by these newly-nationalized banks. Insolvent megabanks, rather than being bailed out by the government or “bailed in” by their private creditors and depositors, arguably should be nationalized – not temporarily, but as permanent public utilities. If the taxpayers are assuming the risks and costs, they should be getting the profits.
None of these procedures for reversing inflation would be necessary, however, if the money supply were properly monitored. In our debt-financed system, the economy is chronically short of the money needed to support a dynamic, abundant economy. New money needsto be added to the system, and this can be done without inflating prices. If the money goes into creating goods and services rather than speculative asset bubbles, supply and demand will rise together and prices will remain stable.
Is It in the President’s Toolbox?
Whether Stein as president would have the power to pull any of this off is another question. QE is the province of the central bank, which is technically “independent” from the government. However, the president does appoint the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, Chair and Vice Chair, with the approval of the Senate.
Failing that, the money might be found by following the lead of Abraham Lincoln and the American colonists and issuing it directly through the Treasury. But an issue of US Notes or Greenbacks would also require an act of Congress to change existing law.
If Stein were unable to get either of those federal bodies to act, however, she could resort to a “radical” alternative already authorized in the Constitution: an issue of large-denomination coins. The Constitution gives Congress the power to “coin Money [and] regulate the value thereof,” and Congress has delegated that power to the Treasury Secretary. When minting a trillion dollar platinum coin was suggested as a way around an artificially imposed debt ceiling in January 2013, Philip Diehl, former head of the U.S. Mint and co-author of the platinum coin law, confirmed:
In minting the $1 trillion platinum coin, the Treasury Secretary would be exercising authority which Congress has granted routinely for more than 220 years. The Secretary authority is derived from an Act of Congress (in fact, a GOP Congress) under power expressly granted to Congress in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8).
The power just needs to be exercised, something the president can instruct the Secretary to do by executive order.
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt engaged in a radical monetary reset when he took the dollar off the gold standard domestically. The response was, “We didn’t know you could do that.” Today the Federal Reserve and central banks globally have been engaging in radical monetary policies that have evoked a similar response, and the sky has not fallen as predicted.
As Stein quotes Alice Walker, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
The runaway success of Sanders and Trump has made it clear that the American people want real change from the establishment Democratic/Republican business-as-usual that Hillary represents. But real change is not possible within the straitjacket of a debt-ridden, austerity-based financial scheme controlled by Wall Street oligarchs. Radical economic change requires radical financial change, as Roosevelt demonstrated. To carry the baton of revolution to the finish line requires revolutionary tools, which Stein has shown she has in her toolbox.
(Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
(For more information call the Anderson Valley Fire Department at 895-2020.)
THE PLANNING COMMISSION AGENDA for August 18, 2016 has been posted to the department’s website at:
UPDATE FROM THE BROADBAND ALLIANCE
The summer is going by quickly, and I wanted to provide an update on what has been happening with Broadband in the last few months, and include some links where you can find more information.
The big news was our successful CPUC hearing in Ukiah on July 15th with Commissioner Sandoval. A lot of work went into this hearing, and I’d like to specifically thanks the County Executive Office, Randy MacDonald/Comptche Volunteer Fire Department, and all who took time out of their busy day to participate in this important hearing. You can find a video of the hearing, a list of speakers, and follow-up articles here. http://www.mendocinobroadband.org/topics/special-sessions/
Our North Bay-North Coast Broadband Consortium (NBNCBC) published Volume 4 of our newsletter http://www.mendocinobroadband.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf.NBNCBC-Newsletter-07-29-16.Vol4-corrected-.pdf, and it has a lot of articles and information in it. Please check it out.
The NBNCBC has also come to the end of their 2-year funding cycle, but we plan to continue to function together on regional planning efforts. The consortium is guided by an Oversight committee comprised of a supervisor from each of the four counties, and they meet quarterly. Our last meeting was via conference call on July 29th, and you can read notes from that meeting http://www.mendocinobroadband.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf.OS-Notes.as-distributed.07-29-16.pdf
posted on our website. You can also read the completion report http://www.mendocinobroadband.org/wp-content/uploads/PDF.Completion-Report-North-Bay-North-Coast-Broadband-Consortium-Broadband-Final-v2.pdf
that was submitted to the CPUC as part of our reporting requirements.
I will be out of town the last 2 weeks of August, and our next BAMC public outreach meeting is scheduled for Friday Sept. 8th (the 2nd Friday since the first Friday is part of labor day). Please mark your calendars so that you can be sure to attend.
And if you are not following us on Facebook, please do! Be sure to use the “get notifications” setting so that you actually see my posts. I welcome comments and thoughts. It’s nice to have some discussion on the articles that are posted.
Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County
As part of my ongoing public outreach throughout California's 2nd Congressional District, I will be hosting "Coffee with your Congressman" at Red House Coffee on Tuesday, August 9. I look forward to answering your questions and sharing recent updates from Congress on the work I’m doing on behalf of California’s North Coast. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me for what I hope will be an informative and lively discussion.
When: Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 2pm
Where: Red House Coffee, 86 S Miner St Weaverville, CA 96093
RSVP at https://coffeewithhuffmanweaverville.eventbrite.com
If you have questions, please contact my office at (415) 258-9657.
Hope to see you there,
Congressman Jared Huffman
BETWEEN THE EXTINCTION of Hewet's candle and the rising of a dusky Spanish boy who was the first to survey the desolation of the hotel in the early morning, a few hours of silence intervened. One could almost hear a hundred people breathing deeply, and however wakeful and restless, it would have been hard to escape sleep in the middle of so much sleep. Looking out of the windows, there was only darkness to be seen. All over the shadowed half of the world people lay prone, and a few flickering lights in empty streets marked the places where their cities were built. Red and yellow omnibuses were crowding each other in Piccadilly; sumptuous women were rocking at a standstill; but here in the darkness an owl flitted from tree to tree, and when the breeze lifted the branches the moon flashed as if it were a torch. Until all people should awake again the houseless animals were abroad, the tigers and the stags, and the elephants coming down in the darkness to drink at pools. The wind at night blowing over the hills and woods was purer and fresher than the wind by day, and the earth, robbed of detail, more mysterious than the earth colored and divided by roads and fields. For six hours this profound beauty existed, and then as the east grew whiter and the ground swam to the surface, the roads were revealed, the smoke rose and the people stirred, and the sun shone upon the windows of the hotel at Santa Marina until they were un-curtained, and the gong blaring all through the house gave notice of breakfast.
—Virginia Woolf, 1915; from "The Voyage Out"
SUMMER IN THE CITY