Mendocino County Today: Sunday, July 16, 2017
by AVA News Service, July 16, 2017
PETS 'O THE WEEK AT THE UKIAH SHELTER
You can meet Shadow in the colony room hanging out with all her feline friends. Shadow is a 1 year old beautiful spayed female tabby cat. Shadow should do well in a home with other cats and could be a great companion cat for kids. If you're looking for a young, frisky cat but want to skip the kitten stage, Shadow would be a great choice.
What beautiful tiger markings you have, Flower! This sweet dog is 3 years old and 50 pounds. Flower is spayed, so she is ready to jump in your vehicle and head directly to her new home. Flower is a shy dog who will need a patient, calm guardian to help her gain confidence. Although a bit reticent, she is very affectionate, and loves hanging out on the couch. Flower knows sit, likes to play with toys, and we know that with some TLC, she will be a great companion. If a calm, relaxed dog is what your looking for Flower is your gal!
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please visit online at www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Join us the 2nd Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
FORT BRAGG NOTES
by Rex Gressett
I was reading at the Headlands Café, waiting for six o’clock to roll around as city councilmen started trudging in one by one to get a caffeine booster shot in anticipation of the council meeting. “Aren’t you going to cover the riot?” Councilman Bernie Norvell asked me as he added sugar.
Well, it wasn’t that, but sure enough, outside of Fort Bragg Town Hall about 20 unionized city employees were walking around in a circle chanting and stomping about fair treatment and more money. I was amused to see several distinctly white collar city hall operatives who in regular life behind their desks are coldly without sympathy for the presumption of courteous inquiring dissent, yelling right along with the rest of them and avoiding eye contact with me.
Inside Town Hall was eerily empty except for our charming City Clerk and the assembling City Council. Between themselves they were wondering out loud if the disturbance in the force was an actual picket line and if they were going to be doing business to an empty hall. When six o’clock finally rolled around the union folks marched off and a few folks started to trickle in. A tactical error. The union leaders should have pushed. No one was going to stop them even if they did draw a picket line. I don’t think anyone would have crossed it.
The council meeting was supposed to be small stuff. But you have to watch out for the City Manager when the agenda is modest. She misses no occasion to send sliders over the plate. Low key meetings for the ruthless and tireless Linda are a nice opportunity to steal a base. Sure enough the consent calendar contained bitter outrage; and the staid city council did not interrupt the easy flow of the evening’s process to raise a fuss.
I have written before, perhaps too much, about the increase in the Fort Bragg sales tax approved by the voters last November in Measures AA and AB. The initiative, although approved by the voters, was a humble offering by the old city council to the sixteen already well healed businessfolks who own our local Inns and hotels in the hope that they might somehow save us. Since we have virtually no other industry which compares with Inns and hotels, it was decided that it would be wise to provide a cash vitamin for our faltering village in the form of tourism promotion. The money came from an increase in the sales tax and went to the city. The city did not do anything but they gave a little bit of the new money to the Visit Fort Bragg committee. That committee, run by the famously efficient, clever and dedicated Sharon Davis, who is also president of the Chamber of Commerce, kicked some booty.
I supported this enterprise of promotion by Visit Fort Bragg for several reasons. First simply it worked. They got us on social media in a big bad way. The increases in response from California and the world were in the thousands of percentage points.
It was also clear to me that the integration of local people of talent into the business of the city interjected a dynamic of self interested responsibility and free market effectiveness into city functions routinely conducted by a boorishly unimaginative city hall team of unfireable functionaries.
The city of Fort Bragg got to observe over a period of months Linda Ruffing taking profound offense at the success of Visit Fort Bragg and working with determination to put an end to all of that initiative and imagination. She hacked the Visit Fort Bragg budget in half, declaring that the money should be spent instead by city hall. She glibly and unintelligibly lied to the council that by some magic there would need not be a wit less work done on the city’s business if city employees were mandated to do the work that Visit Fort Bragg had done previously. No one ever challenged her on this odd fiction.
Last Monday as the consent calendar went sailing by like a great free bird past the sleepy city council a careful observer could note that the City Manager had inserted an expenditure that will hire a consultant to guide the clueless city management in their usurpation of what was working so well before they fixed it.
In a little city like ours, most of what they do at City Hall is known to everybody — even though the bureaucrats like to pretend everything important is over most heads except those of the insiders. That is not true of course, so I doubt that the deviltry of hiring consultants will come as a revelation to you.
But if ever there was a subject in which the scorn and mockery of the public ought to find an object it would be consultants. They are paid extravagant sums to do the thinking that gray bureaucracies have not the courage to do and to exercise the common sense which is so strangely mysterious to public officials. I can recall $25,000 doled out to a consultant to tell the Starr Center folks how to hire a plumber to move a pipe three feet. The engagements of high priced consultants are innumerable and routine. Their recommendations are often entertainingly off the wall. Consultants are indispensible to city government, not so much because they provide answers as because they offer convenient scapegoats should anything go wrong. Also it is wisdom to float occasional cash to a community of potential employers for city hall higher ups just in case anything should go really wrong. All in all it is money well spent.
Now we know how Linda intends to improve upon the success of Visit Fort Bragg. She is hiring a consultant to tell her what to do. Perhaps this explains why she was able to assure the council that no money would be spent on city employees doing the actual work. I recall now that she did not say that money would not be spent, only that it would not be spent on the staff at city hall. I stand corrected.
Of course no one on the council batted an eye, they had accepted Linda’s firm intention long ago. Water under the bridge. After they gave the wink and the nod to the City Manager’s consent calendar the City Council and the often (mostly) missing in action Development Director got down to serious self congratulation over the Coastal Trail. At long last we heard that the estimable Marie Jones had overcome all objections and obstacles and obtained the cash and permissions required to link the southern and the northern sections of the Coastal Trail where they converge at the sewage treatment plant. There was considerable and perhaps unavoidable rhetoric of appreciation for the many years of work that the Development Director has devoted to the business of putting a trail around the toxic millsite. It was clear that the few attendees at the meeting including the effective and informed George Reinhardt and the irreparably misinformed and ineffective Ed Oberweiser had all come to raise eyebrows. I guess. They did not speak. Perhaps they had come because they feared that the successful and glorious unification of the trail sections would amount to a diversion from the thwarted ambitions of the community to actually use the mill site. Everybody knew that the site has been worked on for fifteen laborious years at the expense of the Koch brothers who have been glad to pay for exactly as much as could be squeezed out them. Daylighting the creeks means exposing the creeks to the sun and nature thus creating living streams out of the several channels that drain the city stormwater and empty into the dioxin laden ponds.
The ambition of daylighting creeks has, under George Reinhardt’s clever and well funded guidance, become the center of community focus. Actually what people want to see happen out there is something. They would really like to use the mill site, or at least see someone use it. Daylighting the creeks would be something. It implies public access. Our Development Director has informed the city from the vantage of her expertise and even conducting tours to do it, that it will take at least fifteen years to do this daylighting thing. Of course that melancholy estimate supposes that Ms. Jones will continue in her supervision of the project. If she is by some grace of God replaced as development director there could be a more optimistic estimate. But that’s how it stands right now.
The little group of folks at the meeting were miserably unreceptive to the glorification of Marie’s Coastal trail triumph. They have heard it all before. This meeting was just a sort of declaration of efficiency for the benefit of her bosses. We only got what the city has been promised for years. It was nice for Marie no doubt, but for the attendees the surprise and joy had gone out of it. But not the controversy. Questions remain. The people of the city know that the State Department of Toxic Substances Control is coming to town one more time at the end of this month. This trip they are coming to deliver us to our fate. The DTSC is the “blue ribbon” agency which has orchestrated and overseen the cleanup of the mill for these last fifteen years. Now that they are wrapping it up, they have the problem of leaving gracefully to Fort Bragg a dangerously polluted mill site including dixoins, lead, arsenic, you name it. Our little town will still own a whole bouquet of death dealing poisons. The last important job of this very important agency is to convince us to like it.
When I said as much to the city council in my three minutes of public comment I thought I had done my pathetic bit for civic sanity and being somewhat worried about the dogs in the car (I always am) I was making a quiet and inobtrusive exit out of a sparsely attended meeting . Suddenly I heard what I at first thought was the voice of God but later discovered to be our former mayor Dave Turner. Dave boomed out a mighty “Hold it, don’t go a step further” command at extreme volume over the loudspeaker directed shockingly at me. I stopped and leaned on a chair and listened to Mayor Turner (I still think of him as mayor but he’s ex-mayor I guess) tell me that they had after all done their very best. The city council had made it clear to DTSC that in Fort Bragg the City Council was not going to sit on their butts and accept the abdication of the state of California and the Department Of Toxic Substances Control. Unfortunately, as he knows and I knew, the City Council has nothing to do with it. DTSC makes the call. Dave was firm they would keep on trying. Then deflating a bit he said, “I don’t know what else we can do.” He sounded quite decent.
"Thank you Mr. Mayor," I said, and left.
The recently released DTSC feasibility study, is the last step in the fifteen years of official oversight of the mill cleanup. This last study targets a few spots for earth removal and just flatly leaves many other toxic locations in place. It advises deed restrictions. These are permanent impositions on the use of sections of the mill site, and advises caution and limited access for other areas. The whole removal process will be over in three weeks. City Manager Linda Ruffing breezily told the council before realizing that was the opposite of what they wanted to hear. They will remove 1800 cubic yards, easy peezee. Then, realizing her blunder, she issued a rare retraction and told us it was more than that for heaven’s sake (what was I thinking), twice that anyway. Say what you will about Linda Ruffing, she is a team player (just not on your team). In this instance she is making smooth the exit from responsibility and expense by the Koch brothers and their partners California DTSC. Linda wants to help them make a quiet and unobtrusive exit. I hope they hear from the ex mayor.
A Reader Writes: The AVA might want to include a copy of the Notice of Public Hearing (in the FB Advocate News) that probably generated the writing of this letter. And the letter is reasonable, including good points for improving the situation. The notice states that there were 187 police calls to the Hospitality House last year and it includes a long list of constant problems caused by their clients and guests. It has been a nightmare for many of the neighboring residents and businesses for a long time but complaints have been ignored by the people who have the power to make a change.
It’s good that the conditions caused by the disregard of the Hospitality Center board and administration for the community they serve are to be formally addressed. I wonder how they will defend their flagrant violations of several terms of their Use Permit and if anyone in the city knew about that and did nothing. Maybe that’s why the HC reports are always so obtuse when it comes to the actual number people being served.
* * *
CRACKING DOWN ON HOSPITALITY HOUSE
Notice Of Public Hearing
Notice Is Hereby Given that the Fort Bragg Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing at a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 6:00 PM, or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard at the Town Hall, at the corner of Main and Laurel Streets (363 North Main Street), Fort Bragg, California. The public hearing will concern the following item:
APPLICATION NO.: Use Permit Modification (USP 9-03/17)
OWNER: Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC)
AGENT: Lynelle Johnson
REQUEST: City instigated modification of Use Permit to address Use Permit violations and nuisance conditions resulting from the operation of the Hospitality House. The Use Permit violations include: a. An illegal expansion of the number of beds from 24 to 34 in violation of the Use Permit special condition for the facility; b. An illegal expansion of the hours of service and an expansion of the dining area in violation of zoning ordinance's limitations on non-conforming uses. The following nuisance conditions have been identified: c. Over the past year, 187 calls for service the Police Department to the Hospitality House to address a variety of issues, including: disturbance, assault, battery, fighting, verbal threats, suspicious people/ vehicle, trespass, drunk in public, etc. d. Urination, feces, vomit, dog poop on public and private property; e. Aggressive panhandling, loitering, shouting, arguing, cursing in the public right of way; f. Littering; g. Public drinking & drug use in the public right of way and on private property; h. Trespassing, shoplifting, vandalism and fighting on private property; i. Sleeping on sidewalks, in vehicles, and on private property; and j. Obstruction of sidewalks and alleys with personal property.
LOCATION: 237 North McPherson Street
ZONING: Central Business District (CBD)
LOT SIZE: 7,000 Square Feet
The hearing will be opened for public participation. All interested persons are invited to appear at that time to present their comments. The public comment period runs from the date this notice is published and mailed until the date of the hearing to allow sufficient time for submission of comments by mail. Staff reports and other documents that will be considered by Commissioners are available for review at Fort Bragg City Hall, 416 North Franklin Street during normal business hours and are also available on the City's website:
Written communications must be received no later than the meeting date. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Planning Commission will consider a decision on the above permit. Appeal process and fee schedule: Decisions of the Planning Commission shall be final unless appealed to the City Council in writing within ten (10) days thereafter with a filing fee of $1,000 to be filed with the City Clerk. If you challenge the above case in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice or in written correspondence delivered to the Community Development Department at, or prior to, the public hearing.
Sarah Million McCormick/ Community Development
Location: 363 North Main Street
WHY WE DROPPED OUT
UDJ reporter Ashley Tressel gravely misrepresented my July 11 remarks to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors during public comment on the county’s new cannabis cultivation regulations.
What I said was that my partner and I have chosen not to apply this year for a county cultivation permit because the new regulations are too onerous and costly for our small farm to meet.
The Mendocino Department of Agriculture did NOT deny our application for a cannabis cultivation permit without explanation, as Ms. Tressel reported. We never submitted an application.
My intent was not to berate the Ag Department, whose staff have been helpful and forthcoming, but to implore the BOS to modify the ordinance so that more small farmers can comply.
For the record, here’s the July 11 letter I wrote to the Board of Supervisors:
My name is Jane Futcher. With my wife, I run Wild Women Herbals, a very small cannabis garden on 162 acres south of Laytonville. We were in the county’s 9.31 permit program last year and are members of Emerald Grown Cooperative.
Until about six weeks ago, we were set to apply for an Ag Dept. permit to commercially cultivate 50 plants. We’d been working with an attorney for months to be sure we had all our paper work in order. We have attended many BOS and farmer meetings to keep up to date with the regulation process. We registered with the North Coast Regional Water Board and spent the spring prepping our soil and irrigation.
We weren’t sure we were really ready, but because our ranch is on rangeland, and the Board of Supervisors said no new permits would be allowed on rangeland ever again after this year, we decided to go for it. We wanted to continue our small operation until we were too tired to continue.
But something happened. I’m not sure which hoop you wanted us to jump through became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Was it learning two months ago, despite four inspections last year — one by the sheriff’s department and three by a third party inspector, that our garage, a perfect drying area, fully insulated and plumbed, would no longer be usable because it is attached to — but not accessible from — our home?
Was it the news that we could not let two young volunteers help us for the summer if we did not buy worker’s comp insurance for them?
Was it learning that the county would require us to provide a wheel chair accessible rest room with septic and paved parking area for our volunteers, who are able bodied?
Was it the complexity of the bookkeeping required to track and trace every plant and all expenses and amendments and sprays applied from seed to processed bud to sale to a distributor?
Was it the excise tax and the plummeting price of cannabis making the costs of cultivation and permitting seem untenable?
Was it a local bank canceling our account because we had a legal cannabis business?
Or was it that you, the Board of Supervisors, told us that no matter how meticulous we farmers were with our operations and applications, you could not protect us from the federal government should they decide to raid us?
We woke up one morning in May and called our lawyer, called the North Coast Regional Water Board, and cancelled our appointment with the Ag Department to submit our application. We informed our co-op and distributor that we were out. We simply did not have the mental, physical and emotional resources to jump through all the hoops of the ordinance.
We are fortunate. Unlike many small farmers, we are not totally dependent on cannabis to put food on the table, cover healthcare costs, pay our property taxes or raise families.
I would ask the board this? How do you expect small farmers to jump through all the hoops you and the state have asked of us?
Why are you lowering the property values, in perpetuity, for those of us in ranch land and TPZ zones and ranch lands?
Won’t county services suffer without the income from property taxes if property values sink?
I support and admire the small farmers who have decided to go ahead with the permitting process. If we were younger, we might conceivably forge ahead, with fingers crossed that sun grown, organic, craft cannabis from Mendocino County’s small farms will command the respect of consumers for years to come.
In the meantime, I urge you to do everything in your power to provide the flexibility and foresight you promised small farmers so that they can survive and the county can prosper.
Jane Futcher, Willits
PLAYING WITH FIRE
by Scott M. Peterson
JESUS GOT SAVED in my driveway three years ago. Honestly. I was working on a project in the timber when I heard Judi screaming at the top of her lungs. Something was wrong. So I hot-footed it up the hill to see what the problem was. A young Latino male was nearly doubled over in front of the house. Judi was walking toward him with a folding chair in one hand and a cordless phone in the other. A question or two prompted a call to 911 and pretty soon sirens announced the approach of the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department. All I had to do was move his truck out of the driveway.
IT WAS A 4X4 TOYOTA with a stick shift — something I hadn’t driven in a while. The silver helmet in the front seat and chain saw in the back told me everything I needed to know about the patient in my driveway. Jesus was a timber faller. The type of fellow not inclined to malinger. His wife came to drive the truck away later, and I gave her our phone number to get the skinny on his outcome.
HIS SYMPTOMS were consistent with cardiac arrest. He’d had them before and had gone to the local hospital more than once to no avail. ‘They told me it was all in my head,’ he complained. But this time it was different. ‘They gave me a prescription for pain killers,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t take them.’ Fortunately for Jesus, he had family in Mexico, so they drove him to a hospital there. After an agonizing ten-hour drive, doctors gave him the diagnosis — Jesus had a hiatal hernia. A rupture in the diaphragm that caused his intestine to push against the vagus nerve and mimic a heart attack. Something that could’ve been detected with the brand new imaging system that’d just been installed at the local hospital. But nobody knew how to use it so Jesus got opioid painkillers instead.
A YEAR LATER it was my niece’s turn. She was visiting with Judi’s sister Susan and her husband Ferdinand. Madalon had somehow picked up a nasty sinus infection. So at 2:00 in the morning, Susan drove her to the very same emergency room. And what do you think they gave her? You guessed it — a prescription for opioid painkillers. Susan was perplexed. ‘Sinus infections are treated with antibiotics, not painkillers.’ she said. And since Susan works for the American Red Cross, she should know a thing or two about that.
THE LEADING opioid painkiller in this neck of the woods today is OxyContin. It was introduced by Purdue Pharma in 1996 and has been a smashing success for them. In 2007 Purdue Pharma was fined $635 million in criminal penalties for misleading the public about OxyContin’s risk of addiction. But the fines were outweighed by Purdue’s $31 billion — with a ‘B’ — in profits since then. Then in 2010, a federal judge in Washington, DC disbarred the three scoundrels; CEO Michael Friedman, Chief Counsel Howard Udell, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Paul Goldenheim. But the biggest fish got away.
PURDUE PHARMA’S owners are the Sackler family. They made Forbes 2015 list of America’s Richest Families at a stunning $14 billion. How? 90% of Purdue’s revenues come from OxyContin — the remedy of choice for my local hospital. And the Sackler brothers — Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond — were all licensed psychiatrists. So they knew damned well what they were doing — killing American citizens.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG OVERDOSES have tripled since 1999. That’s exactly when the Sackler brothers struck it rich. It costs health insurers $72.5 billion a year. So why can’t they be stopped? Because of hospital regulators. According to a 2016 NPR interview with psychiatrist Anna Lembke, Purdue Pharma pushed the organization that accredits hospitals — the Joint Commission — into treating pain more aggressively. That triggered a 2017 Senate investigation into exactly how it happened.
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES — funded by Purdue Pharma — appear to have been the culprit here. All of them written by researchers bought and paid for by — well — Purdue Pharma. Those papers were then transformed into marketing materials to drive one point home — that pain was the problem at hospitals. And the best way to fix it was with painkillers like the ones from — wait for it — Purdue Pharma. Which — according to the Center for Disease Control — are killing more Americans today than car accidents and gun violence.
THE FORT BRAGG HOSPITAL has money for all kinds of specialists. Radiologists are among them. According to a recent ‘Proprietary and Confidential’ memo, radiology exams there are going up — while patient volumes are going down. Something that ‘may be a concern’ according to the memo. Duh. Ask any businessman about that. When you’ve got lemons, you make lemonade. And when you’ve got a radiologist, you do more x-rays. Right? What happens when you’ve got a pain management specialist on staff? You sell opioid painkillers — lots of them.
DR. LUCAS CAMPOS is just such a specialist. He arrived here in mid-2016 and got himself a seat on the board of trustees lickety split. With job security like that, we can expect even more opioid painkillers here. Ditto for the Sackler brothers at Purdue Pharma. As can the Mendocino County Coroner.
DEATHS FROM prescription drugs in Mendocino County prior to July of 2016 occurred twice a month. That’s double the State average before Dr. Campos’ arrival. And those are just the outpatients. It doesn’t count inpatient deaths from opioid-induced respiratory compromise. Also known as ‘dead in bed’ syndrome, it’s now suspected in the injuries — or deaths — of 50,000 low risk patients over the past decade. Not to mention those who died and then came back. Like Matt Whitman did.
WHITMAN is a retired cop in Michigan who got smacked by a drunk driver while on duty. The collision left him with fractured cervical vertebrae and the need for surgery. After a ‘successful’ operation, he was moved to a low-risk hospital unit for a dose of pain medication that technically killed him. If it hadn’t been for a watchful nurse, he’d never have lived. Whitman had stopped breathing for six full minutes. Another minute would’ve left him a vegetable. All because he wasn’t hooked up to something called a capnography monitor at the time.
TRUTH BE TOLD, I had no idea what that was. I’d only heard about it after reading about Whitman. The only thing I knew was that they weren’t very expensive — maybe $1,000 apiece, according to my research. So I dropped Dr. Campos an email with a copy to his administrator, Bob Edwards with two questions; (1) did he know what they were? And (2) did the Fort Bragg hospital have them available for all patients? Campos and Edwards must’ve been busy passing out meds because I never heard back from them.
RANDOM DRUG TESTING for doctors isn’t an option at the Fort Bragg hospital. There’s no policy in place for doing that there today, nor is there likely to be in the future. The Board of Trustees is made up of five members. Two of them are doctors currently on the payroll. Another trustee has a spouse who used to be a doctor, but no more. Why? Because the State Medical Board took their license away for — get this — abusing prescription drugs. And now that same trustee is against random drug testing for doctors. Who — by the way — is a registered nurse.
DR. CAMPOS CHAIRS the finance committee at the Fort Bragg hospital now. Where there’s not enough money for obstetrics and cardiology — but plenty for drug dealing. Not to mention the ‘incentives’ Campos gets from Big Pharma. Between August 2013 and December 2015, Dr. Lucas Wells Campos is reported to have accepted hundreds of dollars in kickback money from them. That’s not counting whatever he’s been paid since arriving here. Campos got his pharmacy license from Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in 2011. A year later, Michigan was ranked 10th in the nation for per capita opioid pain prescriptions. So by 2014, State authorities started clamping down on physicians who overprescribed them. Which is precisely when Dr. Campos decided to get in on California’s prescription opioid epidemic — at the Fort Bragg hospital.
THE ONLY FLY in that ointment is malpractice insurance. The average claim for accidental death runs up to $4 million for a serious brain injury. So shrewd businessmen like Dr. Campos look for hospitals to cover their insurance premiums. Smart operations like the 25-bed Willits hospital don’t do that. Their insurance ran $333,816 in 2014. While the 25-bed Fort Bragg hospital’s insurance cost a whopping $682,568 — over double — for the same damned thing. What’s could be the cause of that aside from Dr. Campos? You tell me.
HOLDING DR. CAMPOS accountable is like trying to catch a greased pig. I discovered that first hand at a finance committee meeting he ran a few months back. The board had been considering a six-figure advertising campaign to get more addicts — I mean patients — in the door. But said nothing about informing them of the risks. Or the costs associated with those risks. So I put together a flip chart for that meeting and waited my turn to speak.
WHEN MY TIME arrived, Dr. Campos lowered the boom on my presentation. The finance committee was — according to Campos — the wrong place for discussions about finance. That was supposed to be done at the planning committee meeting a month or so away. All of his glassy-eyed associates agreed. So I said ‘fuck it’ — and published my presentation in an article titled Off the Charts. Something I’m sure made Dr. Campos’ day.
THE BLAME for shitty hospitals like the one in Fort Bragg doesn’t fall on people like Dr. Campos. The medical profession is stressful in a place where pain medications are readily available. A 2014 article in USA Today revealed that more than 100,000 doctors, nurses and medical technicians were abusing or dependent on prescription drugs in any given year. Estimates for physicians with addictions to them run as high as 15%. So there’s a chance that Dr. Campos himself is a junkie. Especially since he works in a hospital without random drug testing. Even if he’s clean, there’s a good possibility that one of his nurses isn’t. Not to mention medical technicians. In 2013, a hospital tech named David Kwiatkowski was sentenced to 39 years in prison for causing a multi-state outbreak of Hepatitis C after getting caught stealing opioid loaded syringes from hospitals in five states. None of them had random drug testing policies either.
CHEERLEADERS at the Fort Bragg hospital will say it already has a drug testing policy. That’s true, but only for cause. Like if an employee is found passed out near a syringe — as Kwiatkowski was. But nobody can claim random drug testing in Dr. Campos’ little fun house. Because it doesn’t exist. A quick look at Mendocino Coast District Hospital policies shows there’s no random drug testing policy there.
UNCLE SAM weighed in on this argument in March of 2014. Where the Inspector General for Health and Human Services called for random drug testing on all health care workers with access to drugs. Like AdventistHealth does over at the Willits hospital. They’re cleaning the Fort Bragg hospital’s clock these days. Something that deserves an explanation. So I sent another email to Dr. Campos and Bob Edwards there. With two questions; (1) Do you agree with HHS that there should be random drug testing for all health care workers with access to drugs? And (2) Why doesn’t the Fort Bragg hospital require that? They never responded.
UNTIL THOSE QUESTIONS can be answered, everybody at the Fort Bragg hospital is playing with fire.
A LOCAL READER noted that Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis’s Wikipedia entry mentions Mendocino County and Anderson Valley asking, “Did you ever meet him?”
Mullis, far as we know, still owns property on Gschwend Road, Navarro, although he lives full-time in Southern California.
Anderson Valley's Nobel laureate is known for his controversial views. He's said that climate change "is due to a conspiracy of environmentalists, government agencies and scientists attempting to preserve their careers and earn money rather than scientific evidence."
He’s also drawn criticism for saying that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, bad "lifestyle choices" ignites it.
Mullis became famous in 1993 after winning the Prize for a major chemistry discovery which, among other things, allows DNA testing on extremely minute amounts of trace material in criminal investigations. The perps of otherwise unsolvable crimes have been revealed and punished — or exonerated — thanks to Kary Mullis.
Back in 1994 after Mullis’s Nobel prize award was announced with the associated publicity, the AVA's Mary Miles, reacting to some of Mullis's more inflammatory opinions, drew Mullis, a lifelong surfer, as a "Butthole Surfer."
An AVA reader, Mullis loved the cartoon. He arranged for Philo artisan Kevin Burke to frame the original for him and invited Burke and Major Scaramella to a party at his home on Gschwend Road where they would present the famous genius with Miss Miles' rendition of him.
The Major remembers:
"When we got there a collection of invited guests and locals were chatting and drinking. Some scantily-clad babes from the city were enjoying the hot tub.
The Nobel Prize winner was standing on his deck with a semi-automatic rifle in his right hand, a large bottle of wine in his left. In between swigs, Mullis was taking potshots across a gulley at watermelons his son was rolling down the opposite hill. Whenever he hit a watermelon he’d smile and wheel around with the gun and the wine bottle and laugh.
Kevin and I took cover behind a wall.
The food was plentiful — barbecued meats and vegetables and two large pots of boiling corn. The stainless steel corn pots were sitting on a pipe frame heated by propane burners rigged precariously from the kitchen by our host or his staff. As a few of us sat waiting for dinner, the pipe and propane arrangement suddenly exploded. One of the men involved in the food prep re-lit the propane burners and continued cooking the corn as if nothing had happened.
After dinner, Mullis presented a slide show using an old style Kodak carousel slide projector. By this time our host was full sail to the winds. After dropping the slides, the jolly Mullis laughed as he randomly put them back into their slots, unconcerned that they were out of sequence, sideways or upside down.
Mullis clicked through the slides. Some were pictures of the conference room in the biotech company where he worked prior to his break-through discovery. The room he showed us interspersed suited men sitting around a conference table with spectacularly topless women.
When the first topless slide popped up, a woman sitting next to me who said she was one of Mullis’s ex-girlfriends reached over and put her hand in front of my eyes and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn't see this.’
Because the slides were now out of order, the presentation switched back and forth between the conference room pics and photos of the Nobel Prize presentation ceremony. One photo showed Mr. Mullis standing at the dais with several solemn gray-haired men arrayed on either side of him. Mullis’s casual outfit contrasted with the conservative suits of the older men. Mullis, commenting on the tableau, remarked, ‘Here's me with a bunch of old farts whose asses I had to kiss to get the prize.’
After the slide show, we thanked our host and departed, our exciting afternoon a memory among memories.”
SUNDOWN AT LAKE MENDO — ONE MAN'S EXPERIENCE
Just got home from a good evening of fishing and had several instances where people were clearly looking for trouble. Pulled the boat into the dock. Some guy was yelling at jet skiers for not having lights on at night......just a couple weeks after someone died out there. I also told them that it's definitely not safe. The two guys followed me to my truck running their mouths the whole way back. I turned and told them to back off and they finally did.
After I get the boat out of the water, two high school age girls approach and start talking to me about fishing. I engage in the conversation and 3-4 guys start walking up behind me as I'm wiping the boat down and get way to close on multiple occasions and had to tell them to leave.
As I'm driving out a middle age lady comes running up asking for help and her boyfriend was trying to hurt her. I stop and get out of the truck and it was a total setup. The guy tried getting into my truck and the lady took off running. At that point the guy freaked out and ran off also.
Protect yourselves people, I was fortunate enough to have a firearm on me and didn't feel like I was cornered or it could have been bad.
3 separate instances in about 20 minutes that were all sketchy. Don't know what's happening to this town, but it's bad!!
They were talking about closing the lake in the last couple weeks and I didn't want that to happen, but I'm all for it at this point. It's clearly not safe and needs a lot more patrol!!
Please share to spread the word!
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I was considering demanding a trial for the charges the boss keeps filing against me. But then they showed me this picture of the judges.”
GOATS GIVEN THE ROYAL TREATMENT AT PENNYROYAL FARM IN BOONVILLE
by Justine Frederiksen
The goats at Pennyroyal Farm in Boonville like people. A lot.
If you visit their barns off Highway 128, they will demand to have their heads scratched, then scratched again. And when you finally dare stop, they will cry and yell as you leave like they will never be scratched again.
“This is why we do bottle babies,” said Erika McKenzie-Chapter, who oversees both the goats and the cheese made from their milk at Pennyroyal Farm in Boonville. “People to them are mom, people are friends – there is nothing scary to them about people.”
That becomes very important, McKenzie-Chapter said, when the goats mature and start making babies and milk.
“It just makes the whole process of being a dairy goat much less stressful for them,” she said. “They’re not upset when all of a sudden people are handling their udder, which suddenly has milk in it after they’ve suddenly pushed out a baby. But if they’ve only been raised by their goat mom and all of a sudden a human starts touching their udders, they are going to be upset.”
Of course at first the goats are fed their mothers’ colostrum, a rich source of antibodies, protein and fats for babies that can’t be used for cheese anyway. But soon they are transitioned to a half milk, half formula mix delivered by humans with bottles to foster a relationship built on mutual trust and affection.
‘Once You Go Goat, You Never Go Back’
McKenzie-Chapter comes from a long line of dairy farmers who raised cows, so she assumed she would, too. Until she started classes at U.C. Davis and promptly fell in love with the goats she was working with.
“Once you go goat, you never go back,” she joked, describing the animals as having so much personality and affinity for human contact that “they’re like dogs with udders. Each one has a name, and yes, I know all of their names. And they seem to know their names as well.”
Also like dogs, the goats are most comfortable when their day-to-day lives follow a predictable pattern, so the humans stick to a set routine of feeding and milking as closely as possible.
“They are milked at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day, and if you are even 15 minutes late, they don’t like it, because they could have seven pounds of milk between their legs they want to get rid of,” she said.
But even goats with heavy udders can find the “milking parlor,” which is full of metal designed to keep them confined while gadgets attach to their teats, intimating. So to make the process of being milked more agreeable to the goats, while in the parlor they are fed a mix of grain and molasses, which is not only tasty but provides much more protein and fat than the hay they get in the barn.
What the goats are not given, however, is hormones that will force year-round production. Instead. McKenzie-Chapter said the animals give birth in February and March, produce milk at a rate that peaks about May and begins to significantly taper off around September, then stops completely around December when they become pregnant again.
“And that allows the humans to have time off around Christmas, which they like,” she said.
Since some goat breeds make milk with more protein and fat while some goats just make more milk, McKenzie-Chapter likes to have a mix of breeds at the farm to create a good mix of milk.
To give a glimpse of how that milk is turned into cheese, McKenzie-Chapter showed a group of visitors the various rooms where the different stages occur. Since all of the rooms have large windows allowing people outside to easily look in, many can watch the process without interrupting it.
Though all of the cheeses start with basically the same milk, McKenzie-Chapter said varying the acid, temperature and mold each milk mix is exposed to creates the different flavors and textures that different types of cheeses have.
When the cheeses are finished, they are given names from Boontling, the language invented in Boonville, to honor the cultural heritage of Anderson Valley. Cheeses like Log Lifter, a term describing a winter storm strong enough to fill the Navarro River and lift logs, which McKenzie so named because it’s made out of the “storm of milk” she receives in May.
And though the goats never go through menopause like human females and can technically continue making babies and milk indefinitely, McKenzie-Chapter said once her goats reach a certain age they are retired from production.
“But they remain here,” she said, explaining that having goats of all ages and abilities together creates an atmosphere where all stages of life are valued and supported. Because the longer the humans take care of each animal, the more invested they become in their well-being, deepening that crucial trust the animals have in their caretakers.
Watch Erika McKenzie-Chapter talk about her beloved goats here: https://youtu.be/csj4pTfSPNM
Meet the "kids" up close as they demand head scratches here: https://youtu.be/5Va1Fp0TSIU
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 15, 2017
Bicknell, Bravo-Ramirez, Brown
BENJAMIN BICKNELL, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
ADOLPHO BRAVO-RAMIREZ, Redwood Valley. Burglary, aggravated assault (intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, oral copulation), intimate touching against the will of the victim.
TAD BROWN, Ukiah. DUI.
Demuri, Duncan, Franklin
GIOVANNI DEMURI, Albion. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
CHARLES DUNCAN, Ukiah. Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor more than three years younger than perpetrator.
ROBERT FRANKLIN, Gualala. Domestic abuse.
Maddry, McGregor, Moore
SEAN MADDRY, Willits. Possession of stolen vehicle, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
ROY MCGREGOR, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
DANNY MOORE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
Roberts, Rojas, Simon-Coleman
CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Camping in Ukiah. (Frequent Flyer)
JASMINE ROJAS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DEAUNDRA SIMON-COLEMAN, Richmond/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
A NIGHTMARE FROM WHICH WE NEVER AWAKE:
The Moral Case For Renaming Hastings College of the Law.
by John Briscoe
In America’s ever-evolving relations with race, we ride a new wave of sensibility. A moment’s reflection reveals the extent that our streets, schools, buildings — even our nation’s capital — are named for slaveholders. Many more, no doubt, are named for “mere” racists.
A college at Yale no longer bears the name of John C. Calhoun, in response to increasingly vocal outrage that Calhoun owned slaves and, perhaps worse, was an ardent and eloquent proponent of slavery.
The University of San Francisco just renamed its Phelan Hall, originally named for a former San Francisco mayor who railed against Chinese immigrants and whose campaign slogan was “Keep California white.” The hall is now named for legendary football star and magnanimous public servant Burl Toler, an African American.
In this rising crest of new awareness, where, in relation to slavery and racism, might we place genocide?
Between the first European “contact” in 1542 and 1834, the native Californian population dropped from 350,000 to 150,000. The causes of the population collapse were European diseases, abuse at the hands of the Spanish and suicides. After 1834, however, when the native population plummeted from 150,000 to 18,000, the cause was different: Indian hunting was sport for the mostly white gold-seekers and settlers. Indian-hunting raids nearly annihilated the population and had the added benefit of ridding the state of those who might assert their land rights, rights guaranteed under international law.
Serranus Clinton Hastings was promoter and financier of Indian-hunting expeditions in the 1850s. Hastings later founded Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, now the oldest law school in the state, and a part of the University of California system.
Leland Stanford solicited volunteers for his Civil War-era army campaigns against California Indians and, as governor, signed into law appropriations bills to fund those killing expeditions. He later founded Stanford University in the name of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. Both Hastings and Stanford had made fortunes in real estate.
Their ability to acquire land titles was facilitated by the massacre of the rightful claimants, a near-extinction they promoted and funded. As UCLA professor Benjamin Madley wrote in his sobering “An American Genocide,” published in 2016 by none other than Yale University Press, both Stanford and Hastings had “helped to facilitate genocide.”
Our rising sensibility obliterates the names of those who sought to enslave or discriminate against a people. How ought we treat the names of those who sought to exterminate a people?
(John Briscoe is a Distinguished Fellow of the Law of the Sea Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law and an adjunct professor at UC Hastings College of the Law.)
* * *
THE GENOCIDAL NAMESAKE OF THE HASTINGS SCHOOL OF LAW
by Bruce Anderson
A stern visage, the picture of 19th century rectitude, looks down on passersby from a banner at the corner of McAllister and Larkin, fin de siècle San Francisco. The banner celebrates the adjacent law school, which is named after Serranus Clinton Hastings, born in New York, law degree in Indiana, on west to Iowa where he was Iowa’s first congressman and first chief justice, then out to California during the Gold Rush where he became Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court.
Hastings, through his term as a congressman and founding legal father of the state of Iowa, was already a nationally-connected Democrat when he arrived in California in 1849, looking to add to the small fortune he’d made in Iowa real estate. He knew the Gold Rush also meant a land rush as thousands of Americans made their way into the under-populated state to make their fortunes. But Hastings preferred to look around for likely real estate and legal sinecures rather than pan for gold; and as he prospected for free land he also got himself a seat on California’s early supreme court as its chief justice. The Mendocino Indians soon had the judge sitting on them in Eden Valley, near Covelo, which the judge had appropriated for himself as a horse and cattle ranch, remarking that he’d found the place “uninhabited except for some Uka Indians.”
The foreman of Judge Hastings’ Eden Valley ranch was a giant Texan named H.L. Hall, “Texan Boy Hall” as he was known, and a giant at 6’9″ and 280 pounds, a doubly intimidating presence to the Indians who were still trying to adjust to the lethal unpredictability of ordinary-size white men when they first encountered Texan Boy, a recreational Indian killer who showed up with the first wave of white settlers in the Round Valley area in the middle 1850s, and may have killed more Indians than any other single American, including Kit Carson, the generally recognized champ.
While Hall ran Judge Hastings’ ranch in Eden Valley, Hastings built himself a big house in Solano County, a remove which would later lend the judge what he seemed to think was plausible deniability when his foreman became a little too notorious for his free lance retaliatory rampages against the Indians on the judge’s behalf, and the judge reluctantly let him go; a psychotic baby killer, after all, was an unseemly sort of employee for a state supreme court judge. Texan Boy, though, soon got a paid job killing Indians with Jarboe’s Eel River Rangers.
The Indians had been casually murdered in every part of Mendocino County since the Gold Rush. And every year saw new and larger expeditions of both settlers and Army units sent out to kill them. But Judge Hastings, Texan Boy Hall and Walter Jarboe, in California’s first public-private partnership, managed to convert dead Indians to cold cash in expeditions against the Indians of the Eel River drainage, from Covelo to Hayfork, public funding arranged by Judge Hastings.
“A little more than a year ago, Hall of Eden Valley employed 13 Indians in place of pack mules to go and pack loads from Ukiah City to Eden Valley, and promised to give each one a shirt in payment; the distance, I think, is about 40 miles. The Indians commenced complaining at not receiving the shirts, and he, Hall, whipped two of them, to keep them quiet; he said he never gave them the shirts after he whipped them.” (Indians War Files)
In retaliation for not getting their shirts from the judge and Texan Boy, the Indians, knowing exactly on whose behalf Texan Boy was acting, killed Judge Hasting’s $2,000 stallion.
At the time, no one in Mendocino County was in danger of drowning in the milk of human kindness, but Judge Hastings and Texan Boy Hall were extreme even by the frontier standards of 1856.
In retaliation for the death of Judge Hasting’s stallion, neighboring rancher William T. Scott would testify, Texan Boy got up a gang of his friends and “commenced killing all the Indians they could find in the mountains; when Hall met Indians he would kill them. He did not want any man to go with him to hunt Indians who would not kill all he could find, because a knit (sic) would make a louse. Mr. Hall said he had run Indians out of their rancherias and put strychnine in their baskets of soup, or what they had to eat.”
Scott related another incident when Hall, having killed all the adult males among a group of Yuki Indians he’d encountered near Covelo, took some women and children into his custody with the apparent aim of taking them in to the reservation at Covelo. “I think all the squaws were killed because they refused to go further. We took one boy into the valley, and the infants were put out of their misery, and a girl ten years of age was killed for stubbornness.”
But Judge Hastings was still unhappy about the Indians killing his stallion, and he seemed to consider Texan Boy’s random revenges inadequate pay back for the loss of the horse. The judge wanted all the Indians of inland Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties permanently gone. On July 11, 1859, the judge called 16 Covelo-area settlers together who all signed a declaration selecting “Walter S. Jarboe as Captain of our Company of Volunteers against the Euka Indians.”
Of course Texan Boy Hall was first among Jarboe’s Rangers. Texan Boy would be paid to kill Indians, for him the best of all possible worlds, and Hastings, the state’s number one judge, had no trouble persuading the state legislature to pay Jarboe and his Rangers to empty inland Mendocino County of all the Indians Jarboe’s Eel River Rangers could find to kill.
The Indians didn’t have horses and they didn’t have guns. Jarboe and Hall and their Rangers would typically ride down on Indian rancherias at dawn, slaughtering men, women and children right down to infants. The only casualties the white warriors suffered was an occasional non-combat injury unrelated to their one-way war. Bows and arrows were no match for dragoons, and certainly no match for the Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court.
The newspapers of Northern California regularly urged extermination of the Indians, so when news of large scale murder drifted out of the seemingly infinite recesses of an area larger than some states, an area which is today bordered by I-5 to the east and 101 on the west, Clearlake to the south, and the Trinity mountains to the north, they were blithely reported like this:
“Massacre of Indians in Mendocino — Captain Jarboe’s Rangers attacked an Indian ranch eight miles from Indian Valley, Mendocino County, lately, killing quite a number. Hall, the ‘Texan Boy,’ 6 feet 9 inches high, and weighing 278 pounds, who is the dread of all red skins, a week or two ago killed two Indians in a fair fight…” (The Napa Reporter, August 22, 1859)
By the end of the Civil War, and certainly by 1870, the Indians were finished. They’d fought back as best they could without the horses and guns their enemies possessed, but they’d been hit so hard and so fast all they could do was fight on the run, retreating right on into extinction.
Judge Hastings, attorney, jurist, rancher, real estate developer, and mass murderer is memorialized as the Hastings School of Law, San Francisco. Pioneer Ukiah made Walter Jarboe the town’s first law enforcement officer. A man named James Jarboe is contemporary America’s domestic terrorism section chief for the FBI, which may or may not be of histor-genetic significance, as may or may not be a very large Covelo horseman named Hall, as in Texan Boy Hall, who is presently confined to the state hospital at Napa. A New Age impresario calling himself TimoThy is trying to buy Eden Valley to convert it to an “Earth Village sustainable community” featuring “a straw bale roundhouse” and cabins for TimoThy’s followers that would be called “earth arks.” For $33,000 you can buy in.
Funny thing is, Eden Valley fully sustained people for 12,000 years before Judge Hastings and Texan Boy moved their horses and cows in on them and started killing them. Eden Valley was already an earth ark.
* * *
DEPOSITION OF H.L. HALL taken at Storm's Hotel, Round Valley, February 26, 1860, Indian War Files.
“H.L. Hall was queried about the treatment of women and children captured on another Indian hunt which he undertook with five companions. He responded with the following:
'I saw one of the squaws after she was dead; I think she died from a bullet; I think all the squaws were killed because they refused to go further. We took one boy into the valley, and the infants were put out of their misery, and a girl ten years of age was killed for stubbornness'.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Once the tranny fad has run its course, I predict people will start having tails surgically attached, and claim they feel “canine.”
They will have a flag and parades…and if you don’t march and salute, you will be charged with bigotry and ethnic intimidation.
This is not a joke, its coming sooner than you think.
THE EMPIRE SLOUCHES ON
New York, New York: Summer, 2017
by Jonah Raskin
At a New York museum last week I noticed two objects on exhibit, one of them a mirror, the other a camera that was focused on the mirror. The mirror and the camera, which we apparently can’t live without, are made for one another, like the car and the road, or the sky and the airplane. They also seem to epitomize New York, the city that’s always looking at its own reflection and always taking its own picture. In an urban area smaller than New York, the Selfie might be taken as a case of fatal narcissism.
But in New York, which contains much of the loot and the art of the world, taking a picture of New York itself might be a lot like taking a picture of the planet and its inhabitants. What you see in the New York mirror is the skyscraper and the slum, the rats in the alleys and the seagulls in the air, the women in furs and the men with guns standing guard outside the synagogues, and in front of the Deutsche Bank, which the Russians use to funnel money into the west. This summer New Yorkers are talking a lot about Russia, Putin, the U.S.A, and Trump. Some say the Americans and the Russians need to come closer together to create a new world order to replace the old world order and to bring order itself out of chaos.
Then, there are the other New Yorkers who think that Putin is as bad as Stalin and that Russia is America’s enemy now as much if not more than ever before. “Beware the Russians,” they tell me. On the other side I hear, “Embrace the Russians. It has always been so in New York, ever since the Russian Revolution and Americans rallied around Lenin and the Bolsheviks, or called for U.S. troops to invade the Soviet Union and topple the government.
New York in the Age of Donald Trump feels like New York in the age of Obama, Bush and Clinton. If Hillary had been elected it probably would feel much the same, too. Granted, there are posters in the streets that read “Trump for Prison,” but there aren’t many of them and in the long hot month of July one didn’t hear cries of protest about the President’s latest revelations of wrong doings.
Granted there’s still a sea of deep opposition to Trump, and yet to a visitor from California it seems as though New York has made a kind of accommodation with Trump. Now as always, the city rides busses and subways, drinks coffee at Starbucks, shops at Whole Foods (now taken over by Amazon), goes to the movies to see Baby Driver, the speedy picture about bank robbers that’s set in Atlanta, Georgia, but that captures the frenzy of New York, where the bankers are the robbers, and where nothing basic has changed since the meltdown of 2008, so my insider friends tell me.
Wandering about New York on foot, which is the best way to see, feel, smell and hear New York, one can’t help but come to the conclusion that the city’s days are numbered, if only because another super storm, such as Sandy, is bound to hit the city in a world of climate change and global warming.
New York also feels like it will implode—come apart from inside—because it has too many people, too many cars, too many new buildings going up and up and up. There’s an orgy of construction, but not much in the way of housing for New York’s working class, which has white workers at the top of the ladder, and black, brown and yellow workers at the bottom. Colored folks do most of the shit work.
The subways are more crowded than before, and so are the big train stations. Even in the summer, with middle and upper class families on vacation or in their second and third homes, New York is tightly packed with people living and working together, and living and working separately. How much longer can it go on? How much madness can the place tolerate? My own guess is at least a hundred years.
Ever since the 1960s, I have been hearing that the American Empire is falling. Sociological seers tell me that the end is near. Do not count on it. Count on New York, which is the financial heart of the Empire, to remake itself, as it has done century after century, through the American Revolution and the Civil War, when New York bankers supported the Confederacy because that’s the way capital works.
Take the Fifth Avenue bus from uptown to downtown and you see all the gigantic chain stores that sell the brand names, miles and miles of them. It’s a shopper’s paradise if you want Gucci and Armani and Tommy Hilfiger. The Public Library at 52nd Street and Fifth, one of the great libraries of the world, looks like an anomaly, as do the churches where priests lure citizens inside with jazz and theater. Jesus doesn’t seem to be enough.
I love New York because it feels like a mirror of the world. A pedestrian can hear French, Spanish, Russian and Hindi on a single block, or eat Chinese, Indian, Italian and Mexican food, without having to cross the street. It’s all there for the taking and nearly everything one finds in northern California, including yoga studios, farm to table restaurants and Buddhist sanghas can be found somewhere in New York.
The city swallows up everything that seems quintessentially northern California, though I haven’t seen any pot fields, stands of redwoods or the Pacific Ocean that makes the Atlantic seem tame by comparison. In a city of eight million people, few very individuals stand out, except perhaps Donald Trump, the man who was made by New York, as well as the man who helped to make the city what it is today, though citizens voted overwhelming for Hillary Clinton. To paraphrase, Walt Whitman, New York’s greatest poet, the city contradicts itself, contains multitudes and sounds its barbaric yap above the stinking rooftops of summer.
THE 2020 ELECTION
In the election of 1968, tainted by assassinations, a police riot in Chicago and anti-war demonstrations, Richard Nixon lied his way into the White House with a secret (and nonexistent) plan to end the war. Despite the rising clouds of Watergate and his mishandling of the war, Nixon was re-elected by a landslide in 1972. Hardly seems possible.
In 2000, George W. Bush attained the White House courtesy of a coup delivered by Florida (a state governed by his brother). Despite lying about weapons of mass destruction and initiating an unnecessary war in the Middle East, which is ongoing today, Bush was re-elected in 2004. Hardly seems possible.
In 2016, tainted by Russian interference and inappropriate political intervention by the FBI, Donald Trump, a prolific liar spectacularly ignorant of history, world events and ethics, amoral, misogynistic and generally boorish, attained the presidency. Hardly seems possible. Even he couldn’t believe it.
In Sonoma County, it is generally assumed that he will be a one-term president. Based on the above short history, that is a dangerous assumption.
Unless the Democrats come up with a cohesive and intelligent alternative program, led by youthful and, yes, charismatic candidates, it could well mean four more years for Trump in 2020. Hardly seems possible.
BEHEADINGS, TORTURE, AND BODIES STACKED LIKE CORDWOOD IN MEXICO’S GRUESOME JAIL WARS
Inmates in an overcrowded Acapulco facility were beaten to death and decapitated in a turf struggle between rival gangs earlier this month. And that’s not the worst we’ve seen.
by Jeremy Kryt
Once in the Mexican state of Guerrero I met a sicario, or hitman, who went by the name of Chimino. At the end of a long interview Chimino told me how he had come to enjoy the work of killing and torturing people for the cartel called Los Rojos.
“The first time you do it... maybe you feel bad,” he said. “After the first time you start to like it.”
Chimino was a hard case. Worshipped the Santa Muerta (Death Saint), and knew his life would likely be cut short. And yet he did not worry about dying nearly as much as he feared being arrested, and a return to life in a Mexican penitentiary.
“Mejor que me maten, encontra la cárcel,” he said. Better that they kill me, than to go back to prison.
Such a sentiment—annihilation before incarceration—might sound strange to northern ears. But the intra-prison gang battle that went down earlier this month at the Las Cruces prison, in Guerrero’s port city of Acapulco, demonstrates why even professional assassins like Chimino are terrified of being locked up in Mexico.
The fighting began at about 4 a.m. on Thursday July 6, in Las Cruces’ maximum security wing, and soon spread to other units. For whatever reason—be it cowardice, malfeasance, incompetence, or a combination of all three—prison guards failed to intervene. When the struggle ended several hours later there were 28 inmates dead and three wounded. At least 20 more had escaped during the melee.
Corpses were found in the prison kitchen, in the area reserved for conjugal visits, and stacked like cordwood near the gates. Several of the bodies had been decapitated. Others showed signs of torture.
Although witnesses reported gunfire coming from the prison, and many of the dead bore stab wounds—to say nothing of having their heads cut off—officials told reporters that no weapons had been used in the brawl.
Authorities tried to downplay the incident, at first maintaining that only a handful of prisoners had been killed. The urge to whitewash the massacre was surely due in part to a scheduled visit that same day from high-ranking U.S. officials. Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly, and CIA director Mike Pompeo had a planned stopover in Acapulco to meet with Mexican military commanders dress up in cammies, and observe poppy eradication efforts in the nearby mountains.
David Shirk, a security analyst who heads up the Justice in Mexico project at the University of San Diego, says the timing of the attack might well have been deliberate.
“It is entirely possible that the prison riot in Acapulco was a planned effort to gain attention,” Shirk tells The Daily Beast in an email. The motive being to “embarrass the U.S. and Mexican governments, which have continued to work closely together on security cooperation... for nearly a decade.”
As punishment for this public shaming in front of important gringo allies—and for taking the shine off the soldier-suit playdate—the prison director was promptly sacked. At least four of his staff members are under investigation. None of the convicts who made it to freedom have turned up yet.
Blacking the government’s eye might have been part of the plan, but the real goal of internecine struggles in statesville is always more direct: power in the cell blocks, control over the yard.
Like many of the country’s prisons, Las Cruces is home to jailed leaders of cartels as well as gangs. In fact, this particular pen reportedly serves as the center of operations for the Independent Acapulco Cartel. That syndicate controls much of the poppy, opium, and heroin trade in Guerrero—now the most violent, murder-ridden region of the country.
But competition for control over local trade routes—especially the infamous State Route 41, also known as the Heroin Highway—is heating up. Mexico’s fastest growing crime group, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has been making incursions into Guerrero, often using smaller bands as proxies.
According to InsightCrime, two other prison-based gangs, Los Juanitos and Los Arnolds provoked the Las Cruces slaughter as a “territorial dispute.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mexican criminologist Gustavo Fundavila calls the Las Cruces attack “a coup d'état to achieve internal dominance of the prison.”
Fundavila also says the coup was enabled by staffers as “it is simply impossible that this happened without the guards knowing in advance what was going to happen.”
Being the top dogs in a Mexican hoosegow means “controlling the internal market for drugs, sex, goods, medicines, food, and so on.” But there is even more at stake than that, Fundavila says. The alpha gang also wins control over external crimes that are “organized from the inside of the prison, [and that means] a lot of money.”
Justice in Mexico’s Shirk agrees with Fundavila, and adds that he sees a cold method behind the head-chopping madness of the Las Cruces attack.
“This all seems to be part of a larger, well orchestrated readjustment in the wake of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s 2016 re-arrest and early 2017 extradition,” Shirk says. “Chapo’s old enemies... are working with support from the CJNG to reconsolidate themselves and defeat rivals like the Acapulco Cartel.”
‘A Horror That Has Been Growing for Years.’
A recent op-ed in El Universal, one of Mexico’s largest papers, calls the Las Cruces debacle “overwhelming, but not surprising” and goes on to liken the Guerrero prison system to “hell” and “a horror that has been growing for years.”
The editorial concludes with a warning for the future:
“It was only a matter of time before a massacre... happened. And if no urgent action is taken, it is only a matter of time before another happens.”
That alarm ought to be heeded, as the Las Cruces affair is not an isolated incident. Prisons across Mexico are notorious for overcrowding, poor sanitation, and corruption—conditions that make them ripe for deadly uprisings.
A clash at Topo Choco penitentiary last year in Monterrey was even worse than the Las Cruces affair, leaving about 50 dead. Periodic cartel-sponsored prison riots have become chronic as Mexico’s Drug War has ramped up since 2006.
At least 185,000 people have died overall in the conflict, with more than 11,000 murders coming within the first five months of 2017—thus putting it on pace to be the worst year yet.
Mexico’s inmate population has also soared by almost 50,000 over the last decade, in part due to pressure from the U.S. to lock up more “bad hombres.” The national prison system is now well over capacity, which strains resources such as rehabilitation and education programs, and leads to systemic breakdowns in security.
Las Cruces, for example, was designed to hold about 1,600 inmates, according to criminologist Fundavila, who specializes in prison studies at Mexico’s Center for Economic Research and Teaching. Instead the facility housed almost a thousand extra prisoners when heads (literally) began to roll.
Not only does jamming prisoners into too-small quarters lead to shortages of food, health care, and even drinking water, but it also hampers the guards’ ability to maintain control.
“Despite being maximum security, the cells are most likely to be open during the day” because of overpopulation, and that “saturation reduces the security of the prison,” Fundavila says.
Even by national standards, Las Cruces was a nightmare. It had been red-flagged as one of the worst in Guerrero by the National Human Rights Commission’s penitentiary supervision branch, and previous cell-block inspections had turned up narcotics, prostitutes, pet dogs, and firearms, as well as rampant infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
‘The Greatest Terror of the Drug Traffickers’
For a mid-ranking sicarios like Chimino of Los Rojos, death might be preferable to imprisonment. Hired hatchet men are relatively low on the cartel totem pole, and often used as cannon fodder during prison-yard battle royales. But for the cartel capos at the top of the heap, with powerful connections and plenty of pesos, prison life need not be so bad. Many top bosses go right on running their crime syndicates from behind bars.
“Leaders manage their operations directly with cell phones,” Fundavila says. Although there are systems put in place intended to prevent transmission, “the guards just turn them off at certain times of day” under orders from the mobsters.
This kind of bottom-up control goes far beyond merely bribing under-educated, low-wage prison workers. The jefes “are members of criminal organizations that have many members in freedom, which means that they can ‘buy’ [favors] by threatening the families of the guards,” Fundavila explains. “The model is much more complex than mere corruption.”
Once a single crime group establishes hegemony over “the marketplace” in a given prison, threats to life and limb often decline.
“Riots and prison violence tend to be less prevalent when there is a dominant group of inmates controlling the prison leviathan,” Shirk says. “When there is no dominant group and no balance of power to create equilibrium, there is chaos.”
A checkmate play for control of the clink can have broad-reaching, even international implications.
When convicts from the Zetas cartel took over Topo Choco in 2016, they synchronized the assault to coincide with the Pope Francis’s visit to another penal institution in Mexico—no doubt hoping to irritate and humiliate their captors while a famous figure was in the neighborhood.
As professor Shirk points out, the CJNG-backed gangs of Las Cruces could have had similar ideas in mind when they decided to stage their butchery in tandem with the DHS and CIA honchos’ big day of Drug-War tourism.
Prison researcher Fundavila goes a step further, saying there might be a very specific rationale for the well-timed revolt, beyond just a general protest of U.S.-Mexico relations, and directly “pointing to deportations.”
Cartel leaders can maintain their grip on power in their organizations, including during long sentences in the Mexican slammer. But all that changes if they get shipped Stateside. Even once-mighty Chapo Guzmán has seen his vast Sinaloa Cartel empire begin to collapse since his extradition to the U.S.
“It is the greatest terror of imprisoned drug traffickers, because in Mexico they can continue operating but in the U.S. definitely not,” Fundavila says.
“The vast majority know that if they are deported, that means they’re going to a ‘real’ jail.”
(Courtesy, The Daily Beast)
GOOD NEWS FOR STONERS
New coffee pods promise a two-way buzz from marijuana and caffeine
This cannabis coffee will help you get rolling in the morning.
WE’RE NUMBER 5!
California Could Become the Fifth Largest Economy in the World.
There was an article in the Sacramento Bee reporting on the world's 2016 ranking of economies by Palo Alto economist Stephen Levy, who heads the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. The ranking was the same as last year after California passed France and Brazil. The economy of California is growing so quickly Levy projects that this year California will overtake the United Kingdom which is the fifth largest economic. The economy of the U.K totals $2.62 trillion and California $2.60 trillion. California as the result of the recession was ranked 10th in 2010. Levy acknowledges housing, transportation and air quality problems but points out employment rate has dropped to 4.7 %, the lowest in 17 years. Also, California's economic growth of 2.9% last year nearly double the U. S. average last year, and was the 7th best among the states. As a sidebar, I would comment that Mr. Levy does not appear to factor in the effect of climate change nor the economic policies of President. Trump or the GOP Congress on his forecasts. I also would comment that California with its population has only 2 Senators while numerous sparsely populated states like Nebraska also have 2 senators whose actions can adversely affect the economy of California.
In peace and love,
FREE JIU-JITSU/ SELF-DEFENSE CLASSES
for Teens @ Mendo Training Center
The Ukiah Library is proud to partner with Mendo Training Center to offer free jiu-jitsu/self-defense classes for teens this summer as part of the Library's Summer Learning Program! Classes will be taught by Nate Montano.
The class schedule is as follows:
June 20th @ 2:30pm
July 25th @ 2:30pm
August 8th @ 2:30pm
Registration is required, please call 463-4490 to sign up! For more information about the Ukiah Library Summer Reading Program, please contact: Melissa Eleftherion Carr at 707-467-6434 or email@example.com.
MEMO OF THE AIR, Friday, July 14, 2017
"Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money." -Virginia Woolf
The recording of last night's (2017-07-14) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and enjoy via http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Scott and Alex and Zeke called (Zeke read his story about the Mighty Mouse virus), and T.J. and Ellen and Carl showed up, and even so I managed to read everything I brought to read and also play an especially wonderful episode of Murder at Midnight (at about 3:30am). A few operator errors and erratic levels, distortion here and there, both sonic and factual, but nothing of a deal-breaker nature. Disturbing revelations. Titillating romantic polyhedra. Surprises, thrills, a therapeutically soothing panoramic zoom and swoosh around and through a virtual forest of information. It's almost as if you were there.
Also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find directions to many not necessarily radio-useful though worthwhile goods that I found while putting radio shows together. Items such as:
The trailer for a new feature-length time-lapse movie called Awaken. It's something like Koyaanisqatsi and its sequels, butrather about things going swimmingly instead of everything going mad.
An Indonesian ad for avocado-flavored ice cream.
Spotting a wasp in slow motion.
What makes children different.
And yet another adorable thing about corgi-dogs.
(NOT SO) EVERLASTING DAO
The Immortal Eternal Dao is Us!
I am having a splendid afternoon in San Francisco. Due to my required sending of a bank statement in to MediCal, I've just had my MediCal and Anthem Blue Cross (Alameda county paying) CANCELLED because I now have money in the bank which is over the allowed limit. After spending a mostly frustrating day in Oakland yesterday, and also early this morning, with LifeLong medical, they eventually referred me to HICAP senior services (after a couple of administrative errors to make it all the more aggravating), which ultimately resulted in my securing today an appointment with HICAP at their San Francisco Chinatown office on Jackson Street, for 1 o'clock on Monday. We are going to discuss a number of options, such as getting me a medical provider in San Francisco where I actually receive something which resembles "wholistic health,” and decide whether or not I continue with Anthem Blue Cross with me paying, or instead ask an insurance broker set me up with another group. Can you believe that this is all happening due to my achieving basic material improvement? No wonder we hold fast to the constant and dim the light.
Stay in touch,
Craig Louis Stehr, San Francisco