Mendocino County Today: Monday, Nov. 6, 2017
by AVA News Service, November 5, 2017
On Monday, November 6, there will be special meetings of both the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District and the Ukiah City Council -- hopefully, their lawsuit will soon settle.
The Sanitation District Board meets at 1 pm. The City Council meets at 5pm.
Please bear in mind that during public comment at the last City Council meeting, a member of the Sanitation District Board offered documentary evidence and indisputable proof that the City of Ukiah's Finance Director lied about the deposit of a check in the amount of 4,544,481.59 cut to the District by the City. In fact, the check was deposited on August 31, 2017.
Further proof was offered that $1,750,000 in legal costs were hidden by the City in its Sewer Enterprise Fund under "Materials and Supplies".
Additionally, the City has hired three firms -- two of them out of state, to handle the City's billings at an increase of $1.3 million higher than the City's billing department of only two years ago.
Finally, the City continues to get cited for water quality violations even after the ratepayers paid for $75 million in upgrades to the sewage treatment plant.
These and other examples of misfeasance have resulted in the State of California ranking the City of Ukiah 440th out of 511 California cities in the State's Fiscal Index Ratings for 2016.
And what is the total long-term debt carried by the City of Ukiah? Look it up in the City's 992-page monster budget. It's hidden in there. Buried. Buried deep in the 992-page budget. Total debt exceeds $100 million! This is a shameful and dangerous debt burden for a little city of only 17,000 residents.
Something is very wrong in Ukiah. My question is: Are the City's electric utility customers also being overcharged, just as the Sanitation District's ratepayers were overcharged? Second question: Is the City secretly selling water at under-market prices?
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City Council Agenda
Lawsuit Documents: Claim Form ; Complaint
FORT BRAGG AD HOC COMMITTEE GOES DARK
by Rex Gressett
I showed up Friday afternoon at the Hostility Center (Old Coast Hotel) down on Franklin Street looking for a story. I wanted to ask what Hospitality Center knew about this year's Emergency Winter Shelter. The Shelter in Fort Bragg under changing management and precarious funding for has always provided a roof for the unsheltered in a weekly rotation of churches. It is a community action that brings folks that are living outside, inside when it rains and storms. In our climate, it is impossible humanly to do anything else.
For many months neither the community nor the homeless have known if there would be a Winter Shelter. Rumors had been out there for months that there would not be one, but there might be. Everybody was uncertain but hopeful. Conflicting information abounded. It's no joke being out in woods. I knew HH had very recently received a grant from the county and I wanted to get the facts. I thought naively they would want me to know. The Winter Emergency Shelter is a matter of interest to the general public and vital to the homeless
By the grace of the gods that watch over inquiring reporters there happened to be a meeting going on at that very moment in the elegant conference room of the Old Coast Hotel. Lo, it was a veritable ingathering of the social services elite. They were talking about the Winter Shelter. Great. The lovely receptionist asked me if I was there for the meeting. I said that I was indeed, so she led me into the meeting. I sat down quietly in the corner and opened my laptop. The attendees freaked. Very quietly. The winsome Anna Shaw Hostility House Supreme Commander immediately left her seat and whispered in my ear that if I remained the cops would be on the way. I departed meekly.
I had not prepared my reaction. When they bounced me, I felt I had caused the fuss but the hostility of the reaction still caught me off guard. My detractors insinuate that I am threating. Geeze. It is such a dire charge to level against such a chicken. What can you do? At the Old Coast Hotel on Thursday afternoon primordial instinctual courtesy kicked in before I really considered the meaning of my capitulation.
The meeting was not disturbed. Bernie Norvell and Will Lee of the City Council were there as the City Council/Hospitality House ad hoc committee. Chris Strickland of the Coast Christen Center the newest member of the Hostility House Board of directors was in attendance. Joan Katzeff from the Caspar synagogue was present. Charles Bush of the Senior Center as well as a group of nameless plotters I presume from the Hostility House board.
As they hustled me out the door I reflected on the conduct of public business behind the veil of secrecy. It was the second time that day I had been stopped at a door. Earlier in the day, I was barred from a health and resources meeting at Town Hall. I did not think that much of it at the time or now. I wasn't going around looking for places to be kicked out of. I was just snooping. I hope politely.
But have we not also noticed the Closed Session City Council meetings have become very numerous. These days it is in closed session where the council makes their tough decisions and actually hack out policy. Our local powers are very polite to me generally but keeping me out of meetings fills them with joy.
As I sat disconsolately at my office in Starbucks I considered the day. The internet has made us hungry. If it's out there, people don't just want to see it, they expect to. I understand corporate or organizational privacy. But I know better the value of public disclosure. A meeting ostensibly to make decisions affecting the public, or to broaden the dialogue has a significance that deserves different protections than a simple in-company meeting.
A meeting is both a public ceremony and by the spirit of the Brown Act a public right. The norm is that the powerful in government conduct carefully prepared public business in front of people to pretend that they are making decisions openly. It is already phony. When the pretense of public participation goes dark the government process is one fatal step phonier. An honest purpose and clear intention do not need to be top secret to be effective.
I know some things and I have many questions.
I know that the county has funded Anna Shaw to direct the winter emergency shelter program to the tune of a hundred thousand dollars. No one knows but those that were at the secret meeting, exactly how they will use that money. The heavily redacted proposal for funding the winter shelter submitted by the shelter describes proposed unexplained expenditures . A forty-six thousand dollar charge has been made to the county for "a building" of undescribed purpose or location. Really? I thought that the churches were providing the shelter on a rotation basis. Enlighten me. Let me in.
The fact is I know that the Churches of Fort Bragg will provide the actual shelter. Staff will be paid (I think) by Hospitality Center and bag lunches (it is rumored) are planned. We are at least certain that the county grant gives Hospitality House all the money and wide discretion in spending it. What a surprise. I'm not saying they will do anything wrong with the money, necessarily. I am just saying they have a record of misappropriation and public theft. I am noting mildly that they cling to secrecy and are grossly arrogant.
You would think that they would want to clear things up. You might imagine that the city ad hoc committee would demand openness. I was told at the Mayor's Monday morning meeting by an administrative affiliate at HH that forbearing to inconvenience their already fed up neighbors will not let people gather at the hospitality house for transport elsewhere. Anna or some thinker or planner was proposing that the homeless gather instead at Bainbridge park. It was suggested the nice new iron fence they have recently installed could be used to keep the homeless in while they gather for the night. This is the fence they put in to keep them out. And no van? None at any rate promised. They suggest that the homeless walk to whichever church was available. It would be like the trail of tears. Since it is winter the rain will conceal the crying.
I know that the Hostility House administration has eliminated breakfasts at the shelter, no one knows the story on dinners. The shelter is limited by the terms of their agreement with City Hall to provide a maximum of 20 thousand meals a year. I hear that feeding the residents social workers at Hostility House will consume 18 thousand meals a year. Speculation has been that therefore dinners will be provided only to the residents of the house. Previously they would feed any hungry soul. At this writing, I can verify none of it.
The meeting Thursday at the Old Coast was held to settle the mysteries and set definite policy. I would really have liked to be there. Don't give me agendas and minutes. It is the tradition of the free press to make it their business to actually see them lie. It provides vital nuance and context. I walked down the sidewalk with my head held low. Later in my office at Starbucks I ordered a coffee and read again the noble preamble of the Brown Act:
The (California) Legislature finds and declares that public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies (or councilmen) which serve them. The people in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
In the morning meeting at Town Hall, the agencies in attendance were all state agencies. The exclusion of the press was harmless but ridiculous. It makes them look even sneakier than they are. It helps no one and benefits no one, least of all the conspirators. Is it in the genes?
Hostility house, however, is a not just a not for profit corporation. It is not a state agency but it is funded by the county and public, and the extreme winter shelter is mostly funded by a county contract. They are not part of the city, but they are entrusted by the city to fulfill a legally mandated public purpose to take care of the vulnerable and the indigent. They are closely linked with mandated state law. HH denies that the public has any right to information. They kept me out as an obvious and established principle. In the recent agreement between the city and the shelter, openness and cooperation were demanded and promised. In the protracted fight with the people of the city Hostility House suffered nothing, was asked to do nothing important and conceded very little. The only real consequence of being deluged with an ocean of community and city complaints was that they were forced to open previously secret board meetings to the public. This was not a board meeting so they barred the door.
So far HH board meetings have been very amusing. They kick people out. The long-serving board grimly endures unwanted intruders asking unwanted questions. Afterwards, they go immediately into closed session. They do it at every meeting. It's a Marx Brothers goof.
Members of the Fort Bragg City Council Bernie Norvell and Will Lee were present at their meeting as members of the ad hoc committee charged with reigning in HH and ensuring compliance with the city agreement. I would assume that neither of them would have a problem having the press report the meeting. It is Anna Shaw who kicked me out. It is Anna Shaw who stands to directly benefit by apparently intentional ambiguities. The ad hoc committee knows but is apparently pretending that they do not, that HH has a track record of burning city money. An example would be the Giving Garden project. The ad hoc committee knows very well the need for careful oversight with this outfit. Maybe Will and Bernie had something to say. We don't know. I am very sure that they will not push for responsible management with the same vigor as if the public was privileged to watch. It's human nature. The press should not be excluded from any meeting where it is possible to include them. It matters and they know it matters.
FORT BRAGG GULLS
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
DON’T FORGET TO VOTE
Tuesday is a local election and although many people may not realize it, they have some important decisions to make. We know a lot of people in the area have other things on their minds but we urge everyone to get to the polls or mail in that election ballot that’s been sitting on the kitchen table or in the car. The county also has a drive-up ballot box right in front of the administration building at 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah. For fire victims, the county clerk’s office has sent out extra ballots to their regular polling places at the Redwood Valley-Calpella fire station in Redwood Valley and the Potter Valley school. For the Pine Mountain area, the Willits Community Center will again be the polling place.
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Everyone in the county will vote on Measure B, a temporary sales tax to build and operate a mental health facility in this county. A Yes vote on Measure B is critical if this county is going to have the ability to really take care of our mentally ill residents and save the millions we have spent sending mentally ill patients to psychiatric hospitals out of county. People say the county can’t afford Measure B. Nonsense. We can’t afford not to.
This measure will not only mean freeing up local police officers and deputies to actually fight crime, it will also allow our emergency room doctors to spend time with heart attack victims and young children having seizures, instead of fighting with a mental patient trying to kill himself with a piece of ER equipment. Ukiah Valley Medical Center is spending $50 million upgrading it’s emergency rooms. Do we want that new facility to become just a big expensive waiting room while doctors are forced to spend a great deal of their time hovering over mental patients? With Measure B, we’d have a locked mental health facility right here in the valley where mentally ill people who are a danger to themselves or others could be held until they are stabilized and ready to go back into the community.
We also hear from Measure B opponents that the jail will have a new wing for the mentally ill, so we don’t need Measure B. Also not true. The new jail wing will be for mentally ill people who have also committed crimes. The state prison system has sent to the local counties many mentally ill prisoners as part of its prison “realignment.” These are all convicts. But they are also capable of going into crisis and needing to be separated from the general jail population and staff.
Measure B is for mentally ill people who have not committed crimes. As Sheriff Tom Allman has said many times, being mentally ill is not illegal. Putting mentally ill people in jail just to get them away from us, is not the answer. We need a place that’s safe for them and where they will get the mental health care they need to rejoin the community.
Vote Yes on Measure B. It will save us money, free up our emergency care, free up our police officers and deputies, and mean actual mental health care for this county.
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Another big vote on Tuesday’s ballot is just for residents in the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. Three incumbents on the district board are being challenged by newcomers. Vote for the newcomers: Andrea Reed, Julie Bawcom and Ernie Wipf. These three people are running to turn around the disastrous overspending and secretive activities the San District board has been engaging in now for several years. (Two other names on the ballot, Sharon Hunt and Darwin Dick, have withdrawn from the race in order to strengthen Wipf, Bawcom and Reed’s chances. Unfortunately their names remain on the ballot. The incumbents are hoping that will confuse enough people to tilt the vote and save their own seats. So simply don’t vote for anyone whose name is followed by “incumbent” or “appointed incumbent.”)
The San District board has already spent more than $3 million on an attorney whose ridiculously generous contract could bankrupt the district and recently hired a new manager at twice the salary of the old one. The San District has been spreading falsehoods and misleading information through a series of recent political advertisements for which they refuse to disclose the source. This board has been working under the radar for too long and Reed, Bawcom and Wipf stepped up to challenge it and make critically needed changes on behalf of the San District ratepayers. Vote for them and change this board’s unruly ways for good.
(K.C. Meadows. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
JUST IN FROM the Independent Coast Observer (Gualala):
Mendocino governing agencies find Grand Jury's claims biased.
Which is exactly what Mendocino County's governing agencies have said ever since Jim Jones was Grand Jury foreman back in, what? … '74? The fundamental problem is that the GJ's appointing judges permit the county's bureaucracies' non-responses, or allow them to say the GJ is biased without identifying the bias. In the case of the historically mis-managed Mendocino County Recreation and Park District, and its arrogant and unaccountable board of directors to accuse the GJ of "bias" is the usual Mendo blaming of the messenger.
THE SUPERVISORS are spending $844,000 to beat back the mold and do other repairs at the County Museum in Willits where a new regime is in place. Allison Glassey was compelled to resign as director of the Museum for financial improprieties. Glassey, a long-time administrator for the County was installed in the Willits job seemingly as her reward for keeping certain County skeletons behind nailed closet doors. The ethically flexible Glassey, who stalled hiring of a qualified curator for the years she presided over the seldom visited collection, will (finally) be replaced by a bona fide curator. We've agitated for a centralized collection of Mendo stuff for years, a tripartite recognition of some kind that linked the Held-Poage, the Grace Hudson, and the County collection at Willits. And throw in the fascinating trove of court cases a-mouldering in the Courthouse basement; the old handwritten accounts of civil and criminal cases from yesteryear is, so far as we know, unexplored.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE SUPPORT GROUP
Anderson Valley Health Center
This group will serve as a space for participants to address substance use issues and examine core issues that drive substance abuse. The group will utilize a client-centered, collaborative approach and participants will be encouraged to identify individual goals. For example, one participant may have a goal to reduce use of one substance, while another participant may have a goal to maintain a longstanding abstinence from multiple substances. Additionally, the group welcomes those entering into or maintaining a medication assisted treatment (MAT) for substance abuse. In the group format, participants will have the opportunity to experience a sense of community, develop their communication skills, and give and receive feedback from others. Participants will receive support and a safe space to explore their relationship to substances and will be taught skills to assist in reducing and managing substance use while working toward their individual goals.
Wednesdays from 5:30 - 6:45 PM, beginning November 29th
The group will be limited in size and we ask all participants to make a commitment to attending the group weekly for a three month module
To join the group or for more information, please contact Stephanie Shreve at 707-895-3477 ext. 240 or email@example.com
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIRE IN THE WEST
by Malcolm Macdonald
When I was a youngster in the late 1950s a series of thick foggy evenings meant my father would usually conclude supper with the comment, “Good night to burn.”
My older sisters and I armed ourselves with green redwood branches while Dad picked a section of the hillside that needed burning. Often the burn areas were located between switchbacks in the dirt road that meandered uphill and away from the Albion River. The switchbacks provided fire breaks as the road twisted its way northward toward what my father called the prairie road, today's Littleriver Airport Road. I almost wrote that the switchbacks provided “natural” firebreaks because that winding swath of dirt, clay, and rock had been in use at least back to the 1860s. The 1860s marked its first documented mention, but it likely was there as some sort of trail even earlier. Not too far to the east, a more circuitous path cut through the hillside. It, and branch trails off of it, had been used by indigenous folk for quite some time before “white” people arrived on the scene.
Those evening burns were small affairs, with my siblings and I ordered to employ our redwood branches to beat down the flames not long after they ignited. The fires were contained between one pair of switchbacks, something of a family-run “controlled burn,” in part aimed at minimizing the spread of noxious brush such as poison oak. Back then a fire lookout existed only a couple of miles away at the top of Mathison Peak. Small burns like this were often called in ahead of time or occasionally the person “manning” the lookout (Emma Mathison in most of my recollections) called us to make sure, in a friendly manner, that the smoke seen from the lookout was nothing more than a tiny control burn.
I should add that fire lookout Emma Mathison had known my dad since he was born, having been a close childhood friend of one of his older sisters.
In today's hyper-regulated landscape we would probably be arrested for such actions. The debate about fire suppression is pretty much age-old. In the western United States it is clear that the people native to these lands performed their own burns, some of them quite large in comparison to the switchback to switchback method of the Macdonald clan of the Albion River and its environs.
Though the recent fires in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Lake counties were devastating, in terms of sheer volume of acreage nothing in modern times compares to the Big Burn of 1910. That wildfire swept over three million acres in eastern Washington, the panhandle of Idaho, and in Montana. At its peak during August 20-21, 1910, what came to be called the “Big Blowup” burned through all of the following national forests: Bitterroot, Cabinet, Clearwater, Couer d'Alene, Flathead, Kaniksu, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark. Lolo, and St. Joe.
The firestorm arrived when the National Forest Service was in its infancy and only months after President William Howard Taft had fired the Forest Service's inspirational leader, Gifford Pinchot. The dismissal of Pinchot was part of Taft's overall dismantling of Teddy Roosevelt's plan of wild land conservation. The Forest Service was so under funded by Taft and corrupt members of Congress that Pinchot, at times, paid for his rangers' supplies out of his own pocket.
When fires flared up in Idaho, Montana, and northeastern Washington as early as April, 1910, many blamed the young rangers for not quelling the blazes and tried to use the fires as an excuse to completely break the Forest Service. The drought like conditions that persisted for the next few months combined with winds and lightning strikes in late July and early August created a firestorm that consumed an area as large as Connecticut. In the blowup of August 20-21st a twenty-eight man fire crew simply disappeared from existence all at once. Telegraph operators sent out messages describing a wall of tumbling flame thirty miles wide. The evidence of burn marks discovered afterward proved that to be no exaggeration.
Another 45 man crew would have met a grisly fate except for the quick thinking of its leader, Edward “Big Ed” Pulaski, who ordered his men into an abandoned mine shaft about five miles south of the town of Wallace, Idaho, minutes, if not moments, before flames could engulf them. Timbers near the mine entrance smoldered, sucking oxygen out of the shaft. Pulaski wrapped wet blankets around the timbers and used his hat to scoop muddy water from puddles on the mine floor. His hands and hair burned. The fire seared his eyes. For the next five hours the inferno raged. Many of the men inside screamed, moaned, convulsed and retched. One even tried to strangle a fellow firefighter. Some of them tried to race out, but Pulaski drew his revolver and threatened to shoot anyone who dared to cross him. The men lay prone on the floor of the mine tunnel, one by one passing out from the effects of the smoke seeping in. At dawn one man rose and raced out, heading toward Wallace, which was at least half burned to the ground. To everyone he met the survivor screamed that all were dead inside the mine. However much that might have appeared true in the smoky haze of that dawn, one after another, men stumbled from the mine's entrance. One bleary-eyed firefighter told a stranger, “The boss is dead.” Behind him, Pulaski raised his head and hollered, “Like hell he is.”
In total, 40 of Pulaski's forty-five man crew survived, one man had been killed by a falling tree not far from the mine, four others died from smoke inhalation inside the mine as did two of Pulaski's horses. Many more stories of heroism, narrow escapes, and tragedy marked the 1910 conflagration, including a train pulling out of Wallace designated for women and children only, but with the usual infiltration of cowardly menfolk pushing their way on board in the final minutes.
Smoke from the fire hovered as far away as New England, soot floated all the way to Greenland.
In the aftermath the Forest Service gained positive recognition, but that entity's reaction to the great fire of 1910 was to adopt an absolutist view in favor of fire suppression, though some of those involved in the actual firefighting opposed the concept. Elers Koch, one of Pinchot's hand picked district rangers, who had battled the Big Blowup in Lolo National Forest was a vocal proponent of letting back country fires burn themselves out. Pinchot, though relieved of duty, took a public stand in favor of suppression and that mindset ruled the day for nearly a century.
Yes, “Big Ed” Pulaski was the inventor of the tool (axe on one side, mattock on the other) that bears his surname. One of the finest accounts of the 1910 fires, that places the events within the context of the battle over Teddy Roosevelt's fight for conservation of public land, is The Big Burn, written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Timothy Egan.
(Readers won't get burned at malcolmmacdonaldoutlawford.com)
LITTLE DOG, “Another lone nut went off in Texas, I see, but I can't even get body armor outta these people.”
RAINFALL HAD NO EFFECT ON NAVARRO RIVER
The Navarro River sandbar is still standing proudly like a stone wall as the recent half-inch of rain had little to no effect on the river level. The height of the river at the USGS gauge was merely 1.67' and the flow past the gauge was 76.2 gallons per second.
And you can see from the NOAA river level forecast - there is NO threat of flooding in the near future.
Although, like for the first time last year, the sandbar could refuse to breach and SR-128 would flood like it did last December.
To the Editor:
As I anguish with friends, neighbors and countless others over the wildfire catastrophe that has devastated major urban concentrations, towns and isolated communities throughout northern California, I am tormented by the realization that year in and year out our country’s armed forces inflict this same kind of horrific tragedy, and much worse, on millions of civilians around the globe.
Russell H. Bartley, Fort Bragg
THIS BREATHTAKINGLY hypocritical letter appeared in Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal under the Journal's title, "Destruction Everywhere." Anguish and torment? Gee, I hope you've been able to get some sleep, Russ. But really, taking advantage of local tragedies for a cliched shot at American imperialism? Apples and oranges, dude.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 5, 2017
Adelman, Flores-Leon, Kier, Lockwood
LESLIE ADELMAN, Ukiah. Arson of inhabited structure, possession of destructive device, resisting.
CARLOS FLORES-LEON, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, battery on peace officer, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
JACOB KIER, Ukiah. DUI.
BRYAN LOCKWOOD, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia, stolen vehicle, suspended license, probation revocation.
O'Connor, Rawles, Rogers, Smith
BERNARD O’CONNOR JR., San Francisco/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
TREVOR RAWLES, Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.
LEWIN ROGERS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
LOREN SMITH, Fairfax/Hopland. DUI.
Timberlake, Walker, Washburn
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Redwood Valley. Parole violation.
KATHY WALKER, Willits. Petty theft.
TIFFANY WASHBURN, Fort Bragge. Domestic abuse, controlled substance.
*(Big week for Les Adelman, 66, of Ukiah. Adelman is (or was until recently) employed by Ukiah Unified as a “paraprofessional for severely disabled students,” aka part-time special ed aide. On November 2 he was arrested and booked for having a switchblade in a vehicle after neighbors on Mill Street in Ukiah complained that he was out in the street yelling at a car with its car alarm blaring. Now he’s booked for burning down somebody's house with a destructive device?)
OPIOID CRISIS REAL
To the Editor:
I am a retired emergency physician. I practiced for over 20 years in Ukiah.
I clearly remember when signs were posted in the ER, mandated by the “progressive” Board of Medical Quality Assurance, that patients had a “right” to have their pain relieved. Physicians were at legal risk if they were accused of not doing so.
Predictably, opioid abuse has risen dramatically in the US since the 1990s, in large part, I believe, because of this policy.
Now, we have a related, much more deadly scandal, as has been reported recently by CBS and the Washington Post.
I am not surprised by the actions of the usual, despicable suspects: lobbyists, big Pharma, some chain drugstores, a few reprehensible physicians, and politicians on the take. What is mystifying is how the ordained “heroes” (Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer, Obama, etc.) could allow this deadly legislation to pass without dissent.
They will claim that they were bamboozled. Maybe so. The best that can be said then is that they were inattentive and incompetent.
They owe it to the many dead and addicted to admit to, and rectify their mistake.
As the fool who currently occupies the oval office would say: “so sad.”
–Jeffrey A. Rapp, MD, Healdsburg
TACOS AND BURRITOS — translation by B. Anderson
When, after Trump was selected, I read in your Off the Record column that you thought this guy has made too many enemies to become dictator, I hoped you were right. Sure seemed so way back then. But now I wonder: are you still so sure? I'm sure your audience would like to hear a bit about what you see happening to him and we his captive audience.
ED REPLY: I don't think a dictatorship of the type we've seen and see in the rest of the world is likely in this country given our history and ongoing regional and ethnic balkanization. It's miraculous that a people as disparate as our population has hung together to the extent it has. I think the permanent bureaucracy or, as the paranoids call it, the "deep state," will soon remove Trump because he's too upsetting to them, too unpredictable, too independent of them. The president at least has to pretend the system is sensible and is run by responsible, respectable people, not the grifters who really call the shots. If Trump even suspects he's going down, he'll become a lot more dangerous, maybe nuke Rocket Man to try to rally the country behind him. But everything is coming apart so fast, who knows?
THE CIA DID IT?
I can’t believe that you believe the magic bullet theory. The CIA did it as payback for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Watch Oliver Stone’s movie JFK again if you haven’t already seen it.
Take care of yourself.
On Oct. 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rumbled through Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Alameda counties, leaving a path of death and destruction. The historic main street in Santa Cruz, closest to the epicenter, lay in ruins.
On Oct. 3, the Tubbs and Nuns fires ignited amid gale-force winds, quickly burning toward Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. Death and destruction followed, as well as the loss of thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses.
In November 1989, huge tents were erected on lots left empty after the cleanup in Santa Cruz. That year, I did 100 percent of my Christmas shopping in those tents. I want to encourage the residents of the four counties affected by the fires to do 100 percent of their Christmas shopping in their own communities. No online shopping, no Amazon.com, just local businesses in Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. The Santa Rosa business community especially has taken a large financial hit. In addition, all four cities and counties will suffer from a major loss of tax revenue — again, especially Santa Rosa.
Let’s all forgo our growing addiction to online shopping this year and seek out local businesses in our communities. It’s one way we can help with the recovery.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
To The Editor:
Our “pay to play” political process began to emerge in the 60's and early 70's as television was solidifying its position as the primary institution of American culture as well as becoming the effective but costly vector of choice for campaign advertising. As the party professing to be representative of the interests of the lower and less privileged end of the existing class strata, the Democrats at that historical moment could have and should have been the party to challenge and reject the legitimacy of a “pay to play” process in a republic founded on the principles of pluralistic participatory democracy. Instead, they chose to capitulate and engage the process, removing and isolating the ideals of liberal pluralism from the greater context of class struggle. Acquiescing to the “pay to play” format and thereby forced to directly court capital in order to keep pace with Republican fund-raising, the Dems had no choice but to abandon their commitment to any program of economic justice inimical to the needs and interests of capital. Leaving behind any authentic advocacy for a fair distribution of the nation's wealth, the party needed to become heavily invested in an identity politics that could still serve to differentiate them from Republicans without derailing their new partnership with corporate money. Isolating the needs of specific racial, ethnic, and gender groups from those of the greater group of working class citizens suffering under the predatory greed of the party's new business partners, they only succeeded in enhancing and magnifying the scapegoat status of those groups for the exploitation of a viciously ruthless wing of extremist right-wingers who were more than happy to move on from the restrained moderation of the “Southern Strategy” used by Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes to a race-baiting Donald Trump openly pandering to and embracing a dangerously militant white supremacy movement. In the process of trying to win elections at any cost, the Democratic party's neo-liberal intramural power brokers have only managed to recast the party as a thoroughly weakened political organization serving no one not already better served by the Republicans and limited, going forward, to playing the role of the nominal opposition required to maintain the illusion of an electoral democracy.
So, where can we go now?
Although it would seem doubtful that a political process as entrenched and deeply corrupted as the one we currently suffer under could ever again be brought to bear in the service of reversing course, since any significant improvement would require it first to root out and dispose of the rot within itself, a couple of possible scenarios for escape come to mind. First, the neo-liberals at the head of the DNC might actually acknowledge the long term damages wrought by the consummate failure of their strategies and turn the reins of the party over to some of its less compromised leaders like Warren, Sanders, and Franken to try to rebuild it by pursuing policies a little more responsive to the needs of working people and a lot less deferential to the demands of the parasite class. But I'm not holding my breath. On the other hand, perhaps a more unified underclass will begin to recognize the final irrelevancy of the Democratic Party and then rally behind a renewed and united movement to fight for economic parity for all working people under some different banner. Even less likely, though, given that in 2016 only about four per cent of us were willing to vote outside the lines drawn by our army of well-compensated pundits, while in the very same election more than sixty per cent of us expressed extreme disgust for both media approved candidates. And unfortunately, of course, both of these rather improbable scenarios are contingent on the prospect of qualities like trust and hope becoming as readily marketable as the commodities of fear and hatred.
So maybe all we can do is just dig in and see if we can make it through the long dark night ahead of us to crawl out of the rubble left behind after the United States of Wall Street collapses beneath the weight of its own insatiable greed. Then, we start over.
Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado
Nov. 10, 1967: America’s airlines have created a malodorous, bearded monster who haunts their gleaming cabins. His name is hippie. For three years the air companies have been pursuing the patronage of today’s mobile young with special “youth fare” tickets which offer 50% discounts. But along with the well-scrubbed college boys and girls came the hippies, whose sense of freedom about personal hygiene is particularly controversial in the closed quarters of a jet. The problem was particularly acute for airlines with flights to and from San Francisco during the recently concluded Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury. The trade journal, Aviation Daily, addressed itself to the problem and predicted “real trouble.” “The hippies, as they travel on discount tickets, are boarded last and often end up in middle seats in coach sections, shocking and offending regular patrons. Airlines should exercise their right to refuse passage to those not meeting cleanliness standards.” In head-on opposition is an attorney for the Civil Liberties Union in Washington D.C. who said: “They have no right whatsoever to make judgments of this sort. The same kind of reasoning kept Negroes in the back of the bus.” A survey of local airline offices showed that most companies have left the decision to the boarding agent — the man at the airport who can conduct a sight-and-smell inspection before takeoff. A spokesman for American Airlines said hippies are not turned away willy-nilly. “But hippies, and there are quite a few of them traveling by air now, who are dirty, smelly and offensively dressed are not permitted on board.”
— Keith Power (SF Chronicle, 1967)
BRING BACK ILLEGAL POT
Regarding a recent Chronicle article entitled “Pot proposal aims to help victims of ‘failed drug war’,” I read the article with my mouth hanging open. My conclusion is that between the plan being developed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the exceedingly high taxes proposed on the sale of pot, that only in San Francisco could they manage to screw up something like selling marijuana. I predict it will be more difficult, expensive, unfair and crooked to sell marijuana legally than it ever was to sell it on the street.
A BAD SITUATION
Sunday morning a man walked into a church in Texas and killed about 30 people and wounded maybe 25 more. It just shows how vulnerable the American people are and how they will continue to be vulnerable until they learn how to protect themselves. This is not the 1950s or 60s when we felt fairly safe wherever we went. But in 2017 there are a million anti-Americans that have infiltrated our borders wanting to kill Americans thanks to people like Jerry Brown who don’t believe in border control and want to make an immigration sanctuary state out of California. There’s a tv program called One America News and they run a one-minute commercial on how bad California is and how bad its leadership is and how it’s being run into the ground by Jerry Brown and Diane Feinstein and I could go on and on about the Democratic leaders of California. California is a joke and if people don’t learn how to defend themselves all over the country there are going to be more mass killings here at home and all around the country. We don’t know who will be next. And here’s Jerry Brown trying to disarm the public so we can’t defend ourselves. Come on people, wake up! This is a bad situation we’re facing. Go ahead and cry for gun control you liberal Democrat assholes so that good citizens of the US can’t defend themselves. Think about that. What about that guy who ran down people with a truck? Are the Democrats going to ask for truck control? Bus control? Are they crazy?
Also, it’s sickening for our students in our schools in Mendocino County to kneel before the national anthem like the Mendocino kids. It’s pretty sorry when our schoolteachers and our parents allow kids to be that unpatriotic. It makes me sick to my stomach.
God Bless Donald Trump.
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A MAN'S FIRST DUTY…
In response to Mr. Philbrick's letters. "A man's first duty is to his own conscience and honor; the party and country come second."
This Mark Twain quote should give you a clue. The NFL players have every right as US citizens to take a knee to peacefully protest the cops unjust killings and civil rights violations.
We do not worship the flag, as you stated, but instead follow our conscience. Blind obedience to a flag is found in totalitarian societies like North Korea, where they are forced to stand for the flag. It is a symbol, not a god.
My uncle was blown up by fascists at Pearl Harbor, and the family plantation burned in the civil war, but that doesn't really matter now.
Here in 2017-land, these men have the right to take a knee, and you have the right to keep bitching and moaning about it. But why keep whining to us smart AVA readers? Does no good.
I know that without brave actions, from good guiding conscience, we'd still be a British colony, probably most would agree.
Not one of your letters shows the slightest understanding of what I've just mentioned or the patriotic principles that are the true inspiration for the US flag. Sadly Philbrick sounds like a parroting of Fox or Limbaugh, while ignoring Twain or Paine.
You've also been conned by Trump, being he's one of the biggest lying swamp creatures ever. Trump University found guilty last year for lying and cheating kids out of their money is just one scam you ignore to worship Trump.
His approval rating is 32%, because most see he's a serial liar, who's unfit.
Finally, Antifa are mostly younger kids who are fighting against fascist ideology now. Why on earth did you write against them? Are you a Nazi sympathizer? Don't you understand that they are against fascism, and that the USA fought a war against that crap?