Off the Record (Aug. 2, 2017)
by AVA News Service, August 2, 2017
THE SPANISH LANGUAGE INTERPRETER for the Superior Court in Ukiah went on strike this morning, Monday, July 31st, citing long-standing discriminatory labor practices. The strike was part of a statewide effort by court staff interpreters to expose and forestall an engineered artificial shortage of interpreters by withholding funds approved by the legislature and systematically short-changing the interpreters on the benefits enjoyed by other court staff members. The engineered “shortage” – Mr. Timothy Baird is the only court interpreter for all seven courtrooms in Ukiah, and he spends his day on the run from one courtroom to the next – is succeeding because few people want to go through the education and training required for such low pay and a dismal lack of advancement: In ten years you’ll still be making the same as a new hire.
What are the courts up to?
The Ukiah courts’ CEO Kim Turner, who came to us from Petaluma recently, would no doubt earn her lavish salary by phrasing it in unintelligible bureaucratese, but the interpreters themselves know that what’s afoot is a pilot program that would beam interpreters in on video screens. The Video Remote Interpreting Pilot Program has been shown to compromise the quality of the interpretations and, as a result, compromise Spanish speakers’ due process, leading one to surmise it could all be tied to the current trend in stepping up deportations.
Interpreters in 26 counties in Northern and Central California have been working without a contract for more than six months. Bargaining has stalled between CEO Kim Turner and Mary Lou Aranguren, the bargaining rep from the California Federation of Interpreters, and therefore the strike was called for half a day today. However, there is hardly anything going on today in the courthouse, so the timing was planned carefully enough that it would not send a very strong message to the judges. Such a timid action, it seems to this reporter, amounts to little more than begging their honors for a handout.
Camille T. Taiara, the chair of the California Federation of Interpreters Language Access Research and Advocacy Committee, was also on hand, brandishing a placard and handing out leaflets. She recently had a piece in the Ukiah Daily Journal with this notable callout: “Once a National leader, California courts’ language access rating has dropped to 27th in the nation – scoring a mere 31 points on a scale to 100 – California ranked lower than Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky.”
UKIAH’S PUBLIC PRIVATE HOMELESS PROJECT enriches a private individual named Gitlin by remodeling his property and paying him big rent out of public money. Read on:
THE UKIAH Planning Commission met last Wednesday to rubberstamp a done deal for a permit to operate both a permanent winter homeless shelter and a year-round daytime shelter on South State Street, Ukiah. The Commission billed the done deal a "public hearing."
REDWOOD COMMUNITY SERVICES, itself a for-profit umbrella business owned by Camille Schrader, is proposing a second renovation of the 7,000-square-foot building at 1045 S. State St., the site where the emergency winter shelter in Ukiah was located.
RENOVATIONS to the privately owned structure include "adding covered entryways, a sitting area and fencing, as well as a parking lot and community garden. The motorcycle shop within the building will remain."
THE IDEA is to “provide a safe place for homeless people to receive services during business hours."
THESE SERVICES include "bathrooms, showers, laundry, counseling, education, Internet access and donated clothing. There will also be minimal food service in the form of snacks and microwaveable food with a microwave, toaster and sink provided."
"A COMMUNITY COUNCIL made up of facility staff, guests, neighboring residents, business leaders and partnering agencies," will oversee operations whose players include Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s Street Medicine Program, the Mendocino County AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Network and the Ford Street Program.
"THE SHELTER is expected to offer up to 60 people a night a cot and clean linen with men and women sleeping in separate quarters that have an observation room between them to allow staff to monitor guests overnight. Staff will be awake and are expected to address any problems and behavioral issues that occur during sleeping hours,” the report notes. The winter shelter proposes to operate “seven days a week between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m."
THE LUCKY OWNER of the Shelter property is a Redwood Valley doctor named Gitlin. The same (mostly) Shelter backers paid Gitlin $3,300 a month for use of the property during the winter. The magnanimous Gitlin's generously allowed his publicly-funded lessees to make the place habitable. Gitlin is the same guy who was sticking the Mendo College football players for $9,000 a month in rent for a run-down fire trap he owns on Hortense St., Ukiah, where, when the hot water heater went out, Gitlin didn't bother replacing it.
DEPARTMENT OF HOLLOW LAUGHTER: “Too many Americans don't know what we stand for,” said Democratic leader Chuck Schumer last week as he unveiled a new party agenda as irrelevant and as cringing. as the old one. The prob, Chuck, is that Democrats, like Republicans, are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the oligarchy. Anything that upsets them, upsets you.
BOOK CHATTING WITH FRED GARDNER: “I think "October" by China Mielville is even better than Tariq Ali's latest, "The Dilemmas of Lenin." Mieville's a Brit, too, and a young one. How come Americans don't write about revolution? I'm deep into "Hue" by Mark Bowden. Hadn't realized that battle was the slog Bowden vividly describes. We all remember '68 and the Tet Offensive that turned American public opinion against the war. I also enjoyed a learning experience via "On History," Oliver Stone in Conversation with Tariq Ali." The only thing lately to hold my tube attention is Anthony Bourdain's Netflix series on eating in unlikely places, such as Libya and the Congo. Not a foodie myself, but the guy's very entertaining and food takes second place to Bourdain's tours of places we're unlikely to visit, complete with fascinating interviews with locals unconnected to eating.”
FG REPLIES: “You know damn well why. Americans can say all George Carlin’s once-forbidden words but are not allowed to say “Share the wealth” and “There is no God.” That’s seven words, too! I think I once suggested to Zack a movie called “Lenin Belongs in the Earth!” Bill Murray is a Manhattan real estate mogul, as big as Trump (and Durst). His parents were low-ranking CPers for a few years in the ‘30s, a jewelry salesman and a teacher. It was obvious by the time he was growing up that it was a lost cause, but he didn’t reject the history lesson. In the bar of a fancy Kremlin hotel he runs into Julia Robertskinova, a lawyer with whom he has just started doing business. She asks what tourist-type things he does on his trips to Moskva —the Bolshoi? Lenin’s tomb? Bill Murray explains why he would never go to Lenin’s tomb. He concisely recounts the tragic story, the takeover by Stalin, offing the Bolsheviks. Robertskinova was taught that the terror started with Lenin. Bill Murray explains how the US, England, France and the Whites bled the Soviets dry, strangled the revolution in its cradle. Drunk, he declares “Lenin Belongs in the Earth!” She shshes him and says, teasingly, Couldn’t a man with all your power make that happen? Roll the credits…The film is set in Moscow. The plot involves bribery of bureaucrats, hiring jewel thieves, planning a getaway with the sarcophagus in a pick-up truck... Something goes very wrong, there’s a key desertion from their team, and then Robertskinova is taken in for questioning. Bill Murray has no recourse but call Donald Trump, who he never much liked. Trump immediately starts talking NY real estate. Murray says he has a political idea that will be a win for Trump and a win Putin and the church and the people of both countries and the only people who’ll hate it will be liberals...: acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution by burying Lenin (back in Simbirsk? Is there still a graveyard at the Kremlin wall?). Murray sells it —Putin doesn’t like seeing the guy glorified, Robertskinova will released by the Moskva police (Trump asks, “Is she a fox?” Murray says “She’s a mink.”) Trump will get credit for diplomacy —a terrorist attack on the mausoleum was averted!—and an option to build on the mausoleum footprint… Or we could skip the thing going awry and the flick could end with a traditional chase scene and getaway.”
AIRPORT ROAD, FORT BRAGG, is just north of town. There is a tweaker compound at the Road's east end that's making the whole neighborhood very nervous. Here's the latest nerve-wracked posts:
“4 AM — woke up to loud noises (sounded like large oil barrels being thrown into the back of our truck)
Got up to investigate to see flames as high as a two story building at the Kurliko residence (yes the trouble neighbors)
Called 911 – dispatch was disconnected 3 times – and finally got the fire department to answer
Told them of the fire.
“TEN MINUTES later – no fire trucks – and the fire across the street mysteriously disappeared. The smell of smoke was evident – but no more fire
The fire department called us and asked if there was still a fire – WHAAAAT? I said I do not see flames but smell the smoke and I said where is the fire truck – he said “they are on their way. But call us back if you see flames again.”
SINCE WHEN? REALLY?
“15 minutes later – the FBFD showed up - They entered the property and found a “guy” sitting next to a barrel with a small fire in it – The chief asked what he was doing with a fire at this time in the morning – and the response was – I just felt like it. The chief did confirm it smelled like gasoline and he saw the smoot indicating a larger fire.
HELP!? These freaks are going to burn our neighborhood down! What can we do?!?!? I am so freaked out knowing we can lose everything because of these druggies.”
A SHORTAGE OF VINEYARD LABOR has vexed grape growers for at least a decade, and vexes them even more now. First generation workers are gone, their sons and daughters aren't replacing them. There is a shortage of people who will do the work and do it well. Anderson Valley vineyards depend heavily on labor contractors to round up crews, who often bring in workers from communities as far away as I-5.
LARGER local vineyards in the grape and marijuana-dominated Anderson Valley like the French-owned Roederer maintain a year-round work force, paying comparatively well and even providing single workers with a commodious and well-maintained dormitory so long as they don't talk union. The one time Roederer's field workers went briefly with the UFW, those who signed up were expelled from worker housing and organizers found themselves on a county-wide blacklist.
COUNTY GRAPE GROWERS quickly organized against grape unionization, bringing in Littler-Mendelson, the San Francisco union busters, to advise growers on how to beat back restive labor. Industry images of handsome couples with big white teeth holding golden goblets of gewurtstraminer to the sun notwithstanding, the Mendo industry drinks deeply of the blood of Michoacan. And will drink yours too if you get in their way. (At court hearings to muzzle vineyard frost fans in the Anderson Valley, the hallway was crowded with industry owners, their political reps, a supervisor, and several attorneys. Nothing to fear, cork tops, from Mendo courts, or any part of local officialdom. There were Boonville wine magnates who were sputteringly indignant that anyone would dare demand they operate within legal night time decibel levels. One grower went so far as to challenge a roomful of critics, “My grapes are more important than your sleep.”)
CONTRASTING the dope and wine industries here in Intoxicants County, the dope industry, put alongside the wine business, is positively wholesome, and receives none of the handsome public subsidies the wine industry enjoys — free medical for their workers via local clinics, housing arranged and subsidized by local charities, scholarships and so on. Why the Mendo wine industry doesn't at least adopt the Roederer labor housing model is for it to answer, but apart from double-wides for their managers they provide nothing.
MEANWHILE, the smaller wine ops hustle their friends and neighbors, even trimigrants, to bring in the harvest and prune the vines.
THE TRUMP GANG'S recent personnel antics, and Trump himself, have managed to inspire even more of the already prevalent scumbaggery. The libs, with their Colberts and Simons, are just as vulgar. Worse, because the libs claim the high road. Trump's new spokesman, another obvious lunatic, talks like a movie gangster, while out in the world in, say, Ukiah, in every public place excluding churches, probably excepting the Methodists, the air is blue, and lumbering, tattooed beasts range the market aisles. Outside, the walking wounded shuffle up and down State Street. If you'd just dropped in from 1955 you'd think there'd been some kind of psychic catastrophe, and you'd think right.
THE OTHER NIGHT I tried watching a Netflix epic called "Ozark," which turned out to be another in a long line of tributes to white, rural Southerners as omni-menacing mental defectives. Throw in some white collar crooks and homicidal Mexican drug smugglers and, whoopee, pass the popcorn.
IN THIS PATHO-SAGA, everything that happens is totally implausible and gratuitously violent, probably because the people who make these films have never experienced the real thing. So, the other day, as an antidote, the little lady and I paid $15 to see a movie called "Landline," which I thought we might enjoy together, and which featured the wonderful actress, Edie Falco. The little woman said to me years ago, "I won't go to of any of your depressing political movies, I won't go to any documentaries, I won't go to any war movies or violent movies." Which pretty much leaves me watching movies by myself. What's left is her preferred entertainment, generically called these days, "chick flicks." (We have often watched BBC dramas together, many of them generic "chick flicks,” but so well done they're male-watchable.) Anyway, I'd spotted a new movie with Ms. Falco in it and, on the assumption that even a bad movie with Edie Falco in it couldn't be all bad, and with the little lady skeptical about any entertainment I might choose, we paid our money and in we went.
THIS ONE was all bad, beyond awful, even with Edie, and soooooo thoroughly offensive we both agreed to flee about twenty minutes in. I restrained an impulse to shout out as I left, "Anybody who sits through this is a bleeping moron and ought to be stripped of citizenship." It still annoys me even to write about it. Worse, it's going to be impossible for some time to lure the wifey to any entertainment I recommend.
RETROACTIVELY, I looked up some reviews of Landline. They were all approving, from The New Yorker to the New York Times. There is not a single reviewer left in the language whose judgement I trust, and I stopped reading reviews when Pauline Kael and Dwight Macdonald retired. Macdonald, by the way, put away his reviewer pen in what? The late sixties? He said movies were so goddam dumb he couldn't sit through them anymore. And that was when they were still pretty good.
HERE'S THE CRETIN at the NYT on Landline: "Nostalgia is not what it used to be. “Landline,” a fairly genial, diffident comedy about diffident, fairly generic people, plants its flag in 1995 and surveys a landscape of indie rock, “Must See TV” and the high-waisted bluejeans that have recently started coming back into fashion. Hillary Clinton is on television, sporting a hairband and a pink suit…"
TOTALLY WRONG. “Genial”? The persons depicted are not genial or “diffident.” They're foul-mouthed and foul-behaving, all the while mugging to come off as funny and cute. (The script is, natch, sub-moronic, but the actor morons speaking the words seemed to be enjoying themselves.) If the movie had hauled out a big fluffy dog to go with their not funny and not cute antics, I'd have wound up in the ER. I haven't spent twenty minutes this repulsive since..... since I watched last year’s Democratic and Republican conventions.
A COUPLA WEEKS AGO, I neglected to put quotations around and identify a piece by Harvey Reading about his drinking days. Several people have asked me about it. "That didn't sound like you," was the consensus. It wasn't me, but I liked it so much — the candor of it — here it is again with proper punctuation and full attribution:
Re: ‘The first step to overcoming addiction is to recognize it. Then, get into a support group.’ “In my experience, this is true for some, not for others.
I drank quite heavily for 20 years, beginning at age 19 (well, I got good and drunk once in high school). If it contained alcohol, I drank it, the cheaper the better (the Safeway house brand of rum was great when mixed with Hawaiian Punch…). Also smoked grass (though avoided driving after smoking it because it made me drive too slowly yet think I was speeding) when it was available, and tried cocaine a couple of times in the early 80s, before crack cocaine, (did nothing more for me than allow me to drink all night and awaken with twice the hangover). I started smoking tobacco at age 13 and smoked 2+ packs of cigarettes per day after graduating from high school until the last 3 or so years (bless Allah for American Indian smoke shops). Since then I’ve reduced my smoking to about half a pack a day. I doubt that I go lower than that, but there are plenty of other poisons in the environment out to get me despite all the focus on tobacco. Plus, I have no desire to live forever. Maybe if I could do it without ageing, but hanging around as one’s body deteriorates ever more quickly has no appeal to me at all. To me, that’s not living; it’s merely existing.
By the mid 80s, I started seriously considering quitting drinking, so I went to a few AA meetings. They completely disappointed me because of the religious tone (which they claim isn’t what they do, but they do), and, more importantly, the requirement that one accept the notion of being unable to whip the problem on one’s own without help from some “higher being”, and that one should expect to be dependent on a sort of “buddy system” in order to stay off booze. The dependency-on-others and the 12-Step program lines thoroughly galled me. I accept that such systems work for many, but they don’t work for all, and I have my own pet ideas on the reason why.
I also considered rehab, which was covered by my health policy. After researching what was involved, I decided “no thanks” to that as well. Confinement for a month had no appeal for me.
One evening, in early 1989, I made a very stupid choice (one of many). During the early evening I, as usual, had been drinking quite heavily at my favorite bar. I managed to get home, but then decided to go back and drink some more. On the way back I got busted.
About a month later, I was once more driving home from the bar, plastered, and it hit me that I was acting very stupidly, that I was apt, like so many others, to get a second DUI before my first one was resolved in court. Luckily, I made it home. That was the last time I drank until 2003.
I experienced no withdrawal symptoms and found that it was easy not to drink. Hell, I didn’t throw out my booze until I retired and moved east. I had friends who drank after all, but I wasn’t tempted to do so myself. My sister and her husband got my unopened 1.5-liter bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold, that I had owned for over a decade..
In 2003, I decided to see if it was possible for me to drink “moderately”. I did so at night, at home, no driving. I learned in a few months that I in fact could not drink moderately, and that I was drinking as heavily as before, so I quit. Again, for me it was easy.
My conclusion is that when one is ready to quit drinking, one does, and one can. It worked for me.”
LAURENE POWELL JOBS, wife of the late Steve Jobs, has bought a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine. David Bradley, the magazine’s current owner, will still control a minority stake and retain control of the publication’s operations for the next three to five years. “While I will stay at the helm some years, the most consequential decision of my career now is behind me: Who next will take stewardship of this 160-year-old national treasure?” Bradley, who is nearing 70, wrote to employees. “To me, the answer, in the form of Laurene, feels incomparably right.” Her mounds of cash don't hurt either, one supposes.
THE ATLANTIC is one of many mags dependent on the very rich to continue publication as the general dumbing down continues.
PG&E, we're all delighted to learn, reported last week that it nearly doubled its profit in the second quarter, the result of rate hikes approved by the "public utility's" California regulators. PG&E’s profit for the three months ending June 30 jumped to $406 million (79 cents per share), up from $206 million (41 cents per share) in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose from $4.17 billion in the second quarter of 2016 to $4.25 billion in the most recent quarter, driven by higher revenues from PG&E’s natural gas operations.
COSTCO has finally gotten the green light from the stumbling City of Ukiah to erect one of its pop-up warehouses on big box row just off Highway 101 west of downtown. A large majority of Mendo people want the cheap, bulk food prices Costco will bring, although cheap will come at the expense of local markets. Moreover, with traffic already a mess and often backed up on to 101, getting in and out of the most popular big box of all isn't going to be easy.
THE MAJOR ADDS: Ukiah Costco Coming Soon: There’s a good chance that it will be open sometime in the Spring of next year. Costco expects to begin construction in September, now that the long-delayed Environmental Impact Report is no longer in court and has been recertified by the Ukiah City Planning Commission and Council. In our review of the environmental and traffic documents we couldn’t find any significant changes being planned for the controversial Highway 101 southbound off-ramp that is still expected to back up during peak traffic hours with the additional Costco traffic. The “mitigation measures” being proposed include making the left turn lane onto Airport Boulevard into two lanes (long overdue, Costco or not), and changing some signal positions and timing. There’s no mention of widening the off-ramp itself. According to the Ukiah city website the Ukiah Costco would be their standard warehouse design which would include a bakery, pharmacy, optical center, hearing aid testing center, food court, photo center, tire center (sales and installation), and 16-pump gas station.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK:
(1) When I look back on the decades, I have to say the 50’s look the best in the rear view mirror. The decade of Conservatism aged the best. I hate to say it because I am not a big conservative. The 60’s are just gross. The 70’s tacky. The 80’s garish. The 90’s are probably the closest to the 1950’s. Everyone doing well. Sense of well-being. Imagine that decade without Ken Starr and you realize we never had to go through any of that. And then 9/11/2001 changed everything. At least W slammed the door on any future Bushes. Stick a fork in that family they’re done. I never got Obama, although I admit he is a lot more talented than I gave him credit for. I think he may be our last true president. Ultimately Trump will go down in Russian flames. Definitely feels like Watergate.
(2) The 50's. 91% was the top Federal tax rate in 1956. I looked it up, but there were a lot of loopholes. Oil depletion allowances were even mentioned in the movie “Giant.”
The 1950s were terrible for gays who were confined in the closet and afraid to come out lest they lose their jobs or get kicked out of the house by macho fathers. Dearborn, Michigan was off limits to blacks in the 1950s, de facto, if not de jure (and were still off limits when I lived there over 40 years ago). Jim Crow laws were enforced throughout the Old South. Upper class clubs from New York to California still barred Jewish members and Jewish communities still felt the need to maintain their own hospitals. Even in the 1950s, a lot of white Americans did not live like Beaver Cleaver. Republicans, starting with the Reagan years, cut taxes for virtually all taxpayers, although the high income folks came out better. I could even afford to take early retirement. But millions of voters made a big mistake by voting their religious beliefs instead of their economic self-interest and now they are paying the price. As the US approaches its own version of 1789, I approach my three score and ten with no debts, money in the bank and a solid financial base for many more years of retirement. Of course, I know it can all change in very short order, but at my age, I am not going to let the gloom and doomers worry me.
(3) The clueless elites are blissfully clueless about a lot of things; for independent confirmation look at Chuck’s [Schumer] floundering missive in the pages of the exalted New York Times. So Chuck and his cohorts finally clued into the abundantly obvious. A wee bit late, no? Superior education is what these people use to pull rank on the Deplorables. So Hillary got a degree at Wellesley College. Oh, and Yale. And Robbie Mook, Columbia. And John Podesta, Knox and Georgetown U. And Bill, Georgetown and Oxford! So what the fuck for? All that waste of time and money. And Chuck, my goodness me, scores a perfect 1600 on his SAT and then goes on to Harvard College. Not bad eh? Know what? His education would have been better had he just gone into his dad’s extermination business. All these self-admiring intellectuals and self-proclaimed “progressives”, with all these expensive diplomas that trumpet their superiority, missed out, fucked up totally. Matter of fact, they’ve been fucking up and losing for years now.
Chuck sez in that column “we failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of the working people, not the special interests.” Makes me laugh. No Chuck, there was no mis-communication and no mis-understanding. You deplored and disdained American workers and you were on the side of the special interests and you communicated those values, in word and deed, just fine.