Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018
by AVA News Service, February 24, 2018
LIGHT PRECIPITATION will spread south across the region during Saturday. Heavier showers are forecast to occur Sunday night into Monday, with several inches of snow possible for elevations above 2000 feet. Additional showers and mountain snow are expected Wednesday through Friday. (National Weather Service)
BUDGET REDUCTION, ANDERSON VALLEY UNIFIED STYLE
by Mark Scaramella
Your trusty local reporter, as always selflessly volunteering for the betterment of the community, was an unwitting invitee to the local school district's Budget Reduction Committee meeting Friday morning. Having been invited for my alleged budgeting expertise (which I actually have, albeit not in educational circles) my presence seemed to unnerve most of the school staffers who made up the committee. Also on hand was Bev Dutra of Philo, whose budget and educational credentials are more than alleged because she spent her career in edu-administration.
The meeting got off to an uncomfortable start. Before committee chair and high school principal Jim Snyder could even begin, former school board member Eric Arbanovella, OCD, emphatically told the committee that they were violating a board bylaw regarding committee membership. Quickly working himself into a major tiz as a puzzled audience looked on, Arbanovella concluded by demanding that the bylaw be strictly adhered to. He then strode to the conference table where he slammed a copy of the highlighted bylaw down on the table and fairly shouted, "And that's all I have to say!" as he stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Several of the women in the room (most of whom I don’t know and was not introduced to) seemed uncomfortable with the presence of Dutra and myself, expressing concerns about confidentiality, whether or not the meeting should be open to the pesky public, whether the meeting was properly noticed, who could or could not vote on various budget recommendations, what the agenda should be, and so forth.
After a short and oddly heated exchange with one of the school staffers, Ms. Dutra concluded that her input was not welcome so she gathered up her papers and left in a huff.
That left only yours truly as "the public." I explained that I was there at the pleasure of the district and that if they wanted to consider the meeting to be an ordinary staff meeting instead of an open public meeting, that would be fine; I’d be happy to leave. After several more minutes of somewhat tense and apologetic discussion, the school people concluded that it would be better to treat it as a staff meeting not open to the public.
So I voluntarily departed, relieved of the responsibility of spending six more hours of unseemly behavior and confused dithering when all I hoped to contribute was a few suggestions about how to form their recommendations, how to prioritize them, how to deal with capital equipment expenditures and reserve funds, how to avoid laying anybody off via schedule and operating hours adjustments and voluntary hour reductions, how to distinguish between expenditures that could be postponed and expenditures which must be cut, how to handle future revenue questions for both this fiscal year and next, etc..
Before she left, Ms. Dutra handed out her own written list of budget reduction suggestions which were much more blunt and specific:
“Cut 90% of all travel and conference money. Cut all but emergency staff overtime. Cut 100% of all consulting or staff education money — as an alternative request that staff with union support develop and present internal professional growth/study programs. Cut or reduce instructional aide positions in regular and special ed classrooms, perhaps using class size as the major criteria or have teachers share half-day instructional aides. Combine or reformat all administrative assistant positions. Reduce maintenance, and consider possible maintenance reorganization and consolidation. Continue to reduce cafeteria overruns. Ask faculty to embark on a study project to combine or block classes (the old example of English and social studies taught by one teacher). Encourage reduced time/pre-retirement opportunities for all staff and faculty (Willie Brown Act). Pull out of the budget crunch with the focused future goal — a commitment to raise teacher salaries (for original employment and to retain quality staff and reward years of work in this district). Establish ongoing budget committees in both campuses with the goal of educated contributions by district committees and consistent fair input from staff on a regular basis which would quiet emotional reactivity.”
What rational educator could argue with this? The room should have been grateful that Mrs. Dutra had produced a rational, eminently do-able way forward.
None of Ms. Dutra’s input ever made it to the table. Neither did mine.
However, according to the preliminary agenda that Mr. Snyder had prepared, subjects that would make it to the table included:
“Transportation, preschool, half-time superintendent, half-time administrative assistant/half-time high school assistant (split between sites)- small savings but no one loses job. High School Dean position, reduce mechanic position to half-time mechanic — half time bus driver. Reduce one bus driver (maybe shift to full-time grounds), maintenance position, supply budgets/ordering, others?”
Even if all these things were done, and some of them for safety reasons should most definitely NOT be done, they wouldn't come near closing the budget gap. Conspicuously missing from Mr. Snyder’s list was anything having to do with teachers, not to mention lawyers and public relations consultants, and other outside costs.
The Budget Reduction Committee was scheduled to continue their proceedings most of the day Friday. They are supposed to prepare some recommendations for the school board in the next few weeks, in time for the Board to consider and vote on recommendations and for the district to submit its final balanced budget to the County Office of Education sometime before the end of March.
We wish them luck.
PS. I should point out that most of the people in that dreary gathering seem to assume that their beloved community newspaper is firmly allied with Mrs. Hutchins, the superintendent who is obviously the root of their unhappiness. Evaluated from a fiscal perspective, we understand staff unhappiness. The Superintendent, backed by her board of trustees, made a couple of hires and fires that cost the district a lot of time and money for buyouts plus the district's bumbling lawyers, self-certified educational lawyers who are always great ones for running up their billable hours and passing out bad advice that costs even more money. No, we don't have any personal beef with Mrs. Hutchins. How could we? We don't work for her. All we know about the seething, super-secret workings of Boonville Unified is what we see at the meandering meetings we occasionally attend. We do think, however, that Mrs. Hutchins stepped into a no-win situation bequeathed her by the previous administration, an administration that didn't supervise anyone, that ran the district like some kind of half-assed commune. A new person appears, exerts a little authority, which Ms. Hutchins was hired to do, and the communards start whining, and are still whining, nostalgic for the halcyon days of "full-time pay for half-time work," in the bracingly true assessment of Debbie Sanchez. If the snivelers reject out of hand positive suggestions for righting their district's fiscal ship, whose fault is that? It isn't the Superintendent's, and it's only partly the School Board's for not itself getting it done.
PPS. There's also the female boss prob in a school constellation dominated by other females. Just saying, but a good part of the criticism we hear of Ms. Hutchins is purely subjective, not based in anything at all but vague hostilities having nothing to do with the educational mission, whatever that is anymore. As many women will admit when the sisterhood isn't listening in, they'd rather work for a man than a woman.
PG&E TELLS REGIONAL COMMISSION IT’S THINKING ABOUT SELLING OR ABANDONING POTTER VALLEY DAMS, WHICH TAKE WATER OUT OF THE EEL AND SEND IT SOUTH
by Hank Sims
Pacific Gas and Electric is actively considering the possibility of getting out of the business of operating dams on the Eel River, a company representative told a regional commission this morning.
The company’s decision, when it comes, could ignite a northern California water war.
The two dams associated with the utility’s Potter Valley Project — a hydropower system — annually divert tens of thousands of acre-feet of water out of the Eel River and into the Russian River watershed, where it is used by municipalities and agricultural operations in Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.
Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury — a key component of the Potter Valley Project. Photo: PG&E (click to enlarge)
At a meeting of the Eel Russian River Commission in Eureka this morning, PG&E director of power generation David Moller said that the utility has been looking at all its options as in undergoes the process of relicensing the dams. The current licenses for the project — issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — are set to expire in 2022.
“While we’ve been working on this relicensing project, we’ve also been looking at whether the project is a good fit,” Moller said. He later added that the amount of power generated by the project is a minuscule portion of its overall portfolio, and comes at a time when PG&E is experiencing less demand for energy.
The announcement at the Eel Russian River Commission — a regional body with representatives from Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma county government on its board — marks the first time that PG&E has stated publicly that it might seek to divest itself of the project.
Moller said that though the company is continuing to move forward with the effort to relicense the dams, it is, at the same time, deciding between three broad options for the future of the project — to hold onto the project, to sell it to someone or something else, or to simply abandon it.
He said that PG&E will likely make a final decision over which course to pursue in the next couple of months.
But the public interest in the decision, when it comes, will almost certainly have almost nothing to do with the actual power generated by the project; rather, it will be in the project’s side effect — the large amount of water diverted from the Eel and into the Russian, where it has fueled the growth of Sonoma County sprawl and its wine industry.
At this morning’s meeting, Stephanie Tidwell of Friends of the Eel — a local nonprofit that has advocated for the decommissioning and removal of the dams — warned whoever might be thinking of operating the Potter Valley project in the future that locals would oppose any proposal to continue water diversions to the Russian.
“Humboldt County gets nothing from these dams except more dead fish,” Tidwell said.
Scott Greacen, Tidwell’s colleague at Friends of the Eel, told the commission that no one, apart from one Potter Valley irrigation district, actually owns legal rights to the water that PG&E diverts from the Eel — that the vast majority of it is considered legally “abandoned” after it leaves the utility’s turbines.
But Guinness McFadden, a Potter Valley farmer who sits of the board of directors of the town’s irrigation district, urged the Humboldt-centric crowd to keep residents of the Russian River in their thoughts, moving forward.
“Let’s not forget the 600,000 people downstream of the Potter Valley project who depend on this water,” he said.
ANIMAL SHELTER ADOPTION EVENT
THE NORTHWARD MARCH OF THE GIANT RATS
"They are called nutria, and right now they’re starting to spread through the waterways leading into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the ecologically fragile network of sloughs and rivers that functions as the heart of California’s flood-control and water distribution system. The first ones were discovered last year in Merced County. Since then, at least two dozen more have been found there and in Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Fresno counties."
Read more here: sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article201564214.html
AB POACHER SNAGGED
Ukiah, Thurs., Feb. 22. - A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations late this afternoon with a split verdict against a defendant charged with Fish and Game Code violations.
Defendant Xiang Qian Zhang, age 62, of Alameda, was found guilty of taking an over limit of abalone in July 2017, a misdemeanor. The evidence presented to the jury through a Fish and Game warden was that Zhang took nine (9) abalone, a number significantly in excess of a lawful daily take. The jury, however, found the defendant not guilty of shucking two abalone, also a misdemeanor. The law requires that abalone be transported in their shell.
The defendant was placed on two years court probation. As a term of that probation, he was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $2,401.50 and required to perform 100 hours of community service.
The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence at trial was Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen. The investigating law enforcement agency was the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The judge who presided over the two day trial and who made the decision as to what sentence to impose was the Hon. Clayton L. Brennan.
(District Attorney Press Release)
(Click to enlarge)
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
THE SCHOOL DESK: INTEGRITY, COMPASSION, CREATIVITY AND PRODUCTIVITY by Gordon Oslund
ORDINARILY, when I see a headline like the above in Friday morning's Ukiah Daily Journal, my receiving mechanisms, honed since early adolescence to scurry past any statement devoid of meaning, and to break into headlong flight if the statement comes from a school administrator, I hadn't fled fast enough to elude arrest by Oslund's first paragraph. Oslund had somehow stumbled into reality — an increase in campus fights at Ukiah High School.
PREDICTABLY, the Ukiah educator had drifted off into edu-babble by the last sentence of his promising first, reality-based para, and the rest of his essay, which might get him a reluctant C in a reputable high school, can be summarized by his meaningless title — Integrity (Please call when you see any); Compassion (Almost as rare as integrity anywhere else in the public life of Mendocino County); Creativity (Unknown in the public school context); and Productivity (I guess if you count annual graduating classes of young people unable to read or write, your enterprise is productive as all get out).
OSLUND manages to blame the increase in on-campus scuffles on the Big Fires. The disasters put "the kids" on edge, you see, so they're just kinda lashing out. I'd guess the violent outbreaks stem more from an accurate premonition that they will soon step into a society that has no place for them. If I were in Gordy's job I'd advise the fighters to do it after school. Better yet, move Dad's honey oil operation out of the spare bedroom and form a Fight Club.
I DUNNO, but if I were a Ukiah kid force marched every day into a stark factory facility like Ukiah High School, a campus designed by fascists to churn out more fascists, I'd be tempted to resort to ultra-vi myself. Looking around the County, only Mendocino High School, Covelo, the old part of Point Arena High School, and Leggett offer school campuses created with beckoning, learning aesthetics foremost in their designers' minds, and three of those schools pre-date World War Two.
BOONVILLE once boasted the traditional, architecturally pleasing school complex, but like most places in the County (and the country) it was bulldozed out of existence in the middle 1950s to make way for the standard American edu-design we find at Ukiah and most places, although Boonville, instinctively aware of the new educational priorities, built a gym larger than the combined square footage of its classrooms.
IN A PREVIOUS LIFE — oh no, here we go into full garrulous, old coot mode — I was hired to teach English at San Luis Obispo Junior High School. I was adrift after obtaining my jive college diploma but, I say in self-defense, at least I was smart enough to know that I possessed zero marketable skills, so when I saw an ad for an "emergency" fill-in teacher, no credential needed… Hmmm. The pay's probably ok and how hard could baby sitting a bunch of kids be?
AS THE ONLY applicant I was immediately hired. The superintendent practically embraced me, he was that relieved that a reasonably presentable someone had shown up to take the job. That should have been the tip-off. After auto-signing innumerable forms without reading them, the Superintendent said, "The main thing is to keep them in the room. I don't want them roaming the halls."
THE "MAIN THING"? What was I dealing with here? I soon found out when a kid, laughing so hard he was doubled over, described how my predecessor, a woman who'd taught in the district for many years, had totally flipped out, barricaded herself in a classroom of these mean, stupid little bastards, and, swigging from a fifth of whiskey, did a strip tease dance on top of her desk! The fire department had had to break the door down to haul the poor old thing away. Her classes of 9th graders thought it was hilarious.
HAVING NO EXPERIENCE and less idea of what I was doing, I settled into an impossible job — six, hour-long classes of 9th graders broken down into arbitrary ability groups, with two whole classes of the evil delinquents who'd driven the old lady over the edge, then three classes of middling scholars and, finally, "the smart kids."
THE SMART KIDS were the worst, and I don't remember any of them being particularly smart. Their parents were ambitious for their dull normal children in the old fashioned way, and the school in the old fashioned way herded these heirs and heiresses into the entirely bogus fast track classes simply because the parents were breathing down the school's incompetent neck. The two classes of dumbos were easy and, I soon discovered, contained maybe not the smartest kids but they were certainly the liveliest, the most fun. I could just tell them to shut the fuck up and sit down and we'd pass the hour serenely enough telling each other jokes and stories. The middle classes were less easily amused, the smart kids snide and threatening. "If you swear at us again, Mr. Anderson, I'm going to the office and report you." (That kid may be the grandmother of today's Mendocino County Appropriate Police.)
IN THE THREE MONTHS I worked in this hellish, so-called school, the boss never once visited my classroom to see how I was doing, never once even asked me how I thought I was doing. Since I kept these hormonal beasts from "roaming the halls," he must have thought I was doing a swell job. If I'd gotten fired, and I would have been fired if the place even tried to do what it said it was doing, I could have coasted on unemployment insurance, maybe thumbed back up Highway One to the monk's retreat at Big Sur, never again dealing with a 14-year-old. Then Kennedy was assassinated and the whole country, including my hopeless place of employment, came to a halt for most of days left on my contract.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “If you ask me, I think schools should hire dogs to take down shooters. Miss Jones the English teacher with a gat? I don't think so.”
Attention Willits Parents & Students:
There has been a lot of information on Social Media, etc., about a threat to the school. There was not a direct threat, just some words that were of great concern. WPD and WUSD take these kinds of utterances seriously and have been working together on the matter.
The student responsible for those words has been taken into custody for other reasons, remains in custody as of this post, and will be in custody for some time.
* * *
At approximately 10:20 a.m. this morning (Thursday), staffers at Leggett School heard distant gun shots, a common sound in outback Mendocino County. The school briefly locked down but didn't unlock until a small army of cops had descended on the site. The cops soon determined a local young guy "from an upstanding family," had merely cranked off a few rounds for the pure pleasure of it.
HELLO HISTORY? GET ME RE-WRITE!
Statue of President McKinley to be removed from Arcata town square
ATTENTION MENDO POT BRIGADES!
All is not as it seemed in 'Eden'
Ukiah, Friday, February 23 -- A commercial marijuana entrepreneur operating out of southern Humboldt County was convicted by plea yesterday afternoon in the Mendocino County Superior Court of possessing marijuana for the purposes of sale while utilizing workers under the age of 21 years, a misdemeanor.
Karl Michael Witt, age 46, of Redway, executive director of Eden Farms Cooperative, Inc., plead no contest to conduct prohibited by the revamped marijuana laws ushered in by Proposition 64. He was arrested back on December 7, 2017 by the California Highway Patrol in Mendocino County.
Pursuant to a negotiated disposition entered into by Witt, his attorney, and District Attorney Eyster, a disposition subsequently also approved by the court, Witt was placed on a grant of court probation for a period of 36 months.
The terms of Witt's probation include: (1) his serving 14 days in the county jail with credit for 14 days already served; (2) 100 hours of community service; (3) restitution to law enforcement in the amount of $18,700 (term satisfied); (4) a 4th Amendment waiver (search clause); (5) possession of all marijuana by Witt is prohibited unless and until he has a valid state license and a valid Humboldt County permit; (6) no direct or indirect participation in and/or sponsorship of the Emerald Cup shall be allowed during the period of probation; (7) no volunteer workers or employees under the age of 21 years shall be involved with Eden Farms or at any other marijuana venture in which Witt is involved; (8) Witt shall pay court-ordered fines and fees, which include a $2,000 donation by Witt to the local non-profit which monitors community service, Mendo Lake Alternative Service (term satisfied); and (9) finally he is required to obey all laws.
As recently reported, fewer than one percent of the state’s estimated 68,120 cannabis cultivators have obtained the necessary licensing to be involved in the commercial marijuana trade. While still early in the new regulatory process, District Attorney Eyster noted that the marijuana black market remains alive and well in Mendocino County and elsewhere, despite an ongoing effort by local and state officials to shine a light on, gain control of, and regulate the local marijuana trade from seed to consumption.
As Witt discovered the hard way, Proposition 64 and the "new" marijuana laws make crystal clear that employing underage individuals in any commercial marijuana business can be expected to result in arrest and prosecution.
(District Attorney Press Release)
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 23, 2018
Angulo, Azbill, Davis
JOSE ANGULO, Ukiah. Pot sales, ID theft, unsatisfactory evidence of identity.
BRITTON AZBILL JR., Covelo. Community supervision violation.
ERAINA DAVIS, Covelo. Grand theft.
Duenas, Hammers, Ireland
FRANCISCO DUENAS, Gualala. Community supervision violation.
SHAVONNE HAMMERS, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Domestic battery.
CASEY IRELAND, Willits. Domestic battery, false imprisonment, parole violation.
Kaisi, Miles, Regaldo
SHARLIE KAISI, Ukiah. Trespassing, conspiracy.
JAMES MILES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MARK REGALDO, Prunedale/Ukiah. Protective order violation, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
Schafer, Stevens, Tobin
BELINDA SCHAFER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MATTHEW STEVENS, Ukiah. Trespassing, controlled substance, under influence, conspiracy.
SHANNON TOBIN, Arcadia/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MORE GUNS, BIGGER GUNS!
by Franklin Graham
Today, America learned that a 66 year old security guard at the Parkland High School in Florida stood outside the school building for at least 4 minutes while the massacre went on inside, waiting for others to come to the rescue. We can assume that he had some level of training. Can we also assume that he was paid near the minimum wage to risk his life? Can we also assume that he may have thought, why me, why me with my arthritis, with my deteriorating vision, and with this pea-shooter strapped to my waist against what sounds like a weapon of mass destruction? Whatever he may have assumed, he clearly was not up to the job. Short of a swat team level cowboy infused with a testosterone rush, who would have been up to a lone confrontation with God only knows what kind of assassin?
The blood on the school hall floor hardly had time to dry before the NRA went on the offensive. What we need, the NRA tells us, is not fewer guns but more and bigger guns. To quote the head of NRA, “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” Was the terrified guard a “good guy?” Under most circumstances, he probably is. But hey, we now need someone to blame, along with the FBI, Obama, the police, the foster family that took the assassin in in November, and lastly the “misguided” who favor fewer guns.
Mr. Wayne La Pierre, of the NRA, insists that the real fault lays at the feet of “dangerous socialists,” that is anyone who advocates fewer guns on the street. The Federalist publication today insisted that Dana Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman, courageously defended the 2nd Amendment, while ignoring all that mushy-head stuff about a citizen’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Blaming the audience for its almost universal call for banning assault rifles, the bottom line in the Federalist piece was that it “guarantees that NRA membership and gun sales are about to spike.” Which has been the case after similar slaughters. It appears that 5 to 10 million assault rifles already in the hands of Americans is not enough. No, we need more guns, and not more pinko liberal whining.
Not to be left on the side-lines, President Trump jumped in with both feet, arguing that we need to arm teachers. He even has a ready number, 20%. With the teaching profession at the elementary and secondary level at about 3,000,000, that suggests gun sales to teachers might total 600,000. Can anyone imagine an armed force of teachers waiting for the chance to distinguish themselves in a fire fight against the bad guys, not to mention the “collateral damage” almost certainly to be part of the result of such active interventions? Well, just that the sign of the times.
So, the beat goes on. Weaponize our teachers. Have our children wear kevlar vests and backpacks. Reinforce classrooms with bulletproof doors and walls. The armaments industry must be licking its chops.
But does it end there? If, as the President suggests that anyone out to shoot up the place won’t go where the guns are, then why not pick more movie theaters, concert venues, Walmart, churches, commuter stations, cafés, anywhere people congregate. The logical extension of this sort of thinking is to weaponize every last space in America. Make everyone afraid of his or her neighbor. We can expect the NRA, and this president and the GOP, to advocate more guns, better guns, bigger guns. This is how a civil society fails its citizens and itself.
by James Kunstler
Perhaps because a weary public was underwhelmed by his indictment last week of thirteen ham sandwiches with Russian dressing, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has returned to an old baloney sandwich with American cheese named Paul Manafort, and slathered on some extra mayonnaise to lubricate his journey to federal prison.
The additional charges specify tax evasion and money-laundering shenanigans around Manafort’s activities in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015, a period that included the USA’s active participation in the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president, Victor Yanukovych, who had declared a desire to join the Russian Customs Union instead of being shanghaied into an expanded NATO.
Scrupulous observers may note that all this took place well in advance of the 2016 US presidential election, when Manafort was candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager for several months before being thrown overboard for reasons still publicly unknown — but probably the awareness that Manafort’s personal financial affairs were a smoldering wreck. Meanwhile, Manafort’s business colleague, Rick Gates, has also been charged by Mueller, and this week an associate of Gates, one Alex Van Der Swaan, son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, was persuaded to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Gates.
All of this suggests that there were fabulous opportunities for American profiteering in the sad-sack, quasi failed state of Ukraine, and that the feckless Manafort circle will be doing Chinese fire drills in the federal courts until the cows come home, but it doesn’t say a whole lot about Russian interference in the 2016 US election. One might surmise that there is enough pressure on Manafort and company to get them to say anything now to save their asses. On the other hand, it could lead in open court to the airing of all sorts of dirty laundry about surreptitious US meddling in Ukraine, and about the corps of camp-following money-grubbing American grifters who raced in after 2014 to steal anything that wasn’t nailed down there by the homegrown kleptocrats.
But it also raises the question whether Mr. Mueller was invited on the scene to prosecute any old thing that fell in his path. Or why he is ignoring the much more obvious smoking mess around his old FBI colleagues who seemed to have committed manifold acts of criminal misconduct in their pursuit of FISA warrants to gather intel on candidate Trump.
In the end — if this extravagant melodrama ever does end — we are stuck with ourselves and our many serious problems here in the USA, which include especially an unraveling financial system that may leave the nation as economically broken and desolate as Russia was in 1991– but ironically with a far less resilient population unused to real travail, as the Russians were after 70 years of soviet Deep State-ism.
Our own Deep State has rapidly become an entity as sinister as the old Soviet Nomenklatura. It is interesting and dismaying to see so many public intellectuals swallow its self-serving claims when it was not so many years ago that a healthy and natural skepticism about government lying was the order of the day, especially when it came to the dark towers of US Intel.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page)
THE RUSSIA FARCE
This monumental hoax of an investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russians to rig his election is, I submit, of complete disinterest to the American people.
To quote a well-known Bay Area media personality, “Nobody cares.” I don’t know any Russians nor was I contacted by any to influence my vote. Furthermore, I would wager the vast majority of Americans are in the same boat. The Russians must be having a big chuckle as this farce plays out.
The toothless ensuing indictment is simply an exercise in futility. What now?
ART BASEL, MIAMI BEACH
Presentation by Bob Rhoades, Friday, February 23, 4:00 pm. Free Admission, donations appreciated at the Mendocino Art Center.
Mendocino Coast artist and educator Bob Rhoades shares his experiences and images from his recent, week long trip to Art Basel, Miami Beach. At the Miami Beach show, leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa show significant work from the masters of Modern and contemporary art, as well the new generation of emerging stars. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films, and editioned works of the highest quality are displayed in the main exhibition hall. Ambitious large-scale artworks, films and performances become part of the city's outdoor landscape at nearby Collins Park and SoundScape Park. In addition to Miami Beach, Art Basel takes place annually in Hong Kong and Basel, Switzerland. Bob Rhoades has been a full-time art instructor for over 40 years in several schools in California. The majority of his career was spent as Art Department Coordinator for College of the Redwoods, Mendocino Coast. During this time Bob taught classes in painting, drawing, printmaking, color and design and sculpture, to name a few. Bob’s work has been exhibited in Japan, Europe and extensively throughout California.
More information: mendocinoartcenter.org/level2/events.lasso#art-basel
HAPPY ENDINGS are absolutely ludicrous, they’re not true at all. We see the guy carry the girl across the threshold and everybody lives happily ever after - that’s bullshit. Three weeks later he’s beating her up and she’s suing for divorce and he’s got cancer.
— Robert Altman
AT THEIR PLACE, even the soap is filthy. Single shoes and single socks lie about the house as if deposited by a flash flood. Dried-out capless pens crunch underfoot. Everywhere they go, they have to hurdle great heaps of books, unwashed clothes, old newspapers, dusty wine bottles. The plates are stained, the glasses smeary. The bath, so seldom used, is now unusable. The mattress is soggy. The sheets are never changed. And we shall draw a veil over their underwear. On one occasion a large, recently purchased meat pie disappeared in their kitchen. It was never found. The kitchen ate it.
— Martin Amis on a visit to Iris Murdoch's house
NOW AS SANDERS PLOTS his 2020 run, the senator is swiftly moving to Hillary’s right on the matter of Russia. (Who knew there was any space left to occupy on that wing?) Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Sanders lashed out at Trump for not taking the Russian threat seriously. “Russia interfered in ‘16 and they’re going to interfere in 2018,” Sanders fumed. “This is a huge deal and that we don’t have a president speaking out on this issue is a horror show.”
Then Sanders, the resurgent Cold Warrior, turned on Clinton, blaming her campaign for not making Russian meddling more of an issue during the election. “The real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign [doing about Russian interference]?” Sanders said. “They had more information about this than we did.”
This is the way infant revolutions succumb to crib death.
— Jeffrey St. Clair
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As the sad Russia “Kapukie” Theater drags on in the media I would remind all that in the end, the US government has proven itself to be completely incapable of solving anything, getting to the root of any problem, of being constructive in any way anymore. This is all a game of distraction like any good magician or shell game operator has mastered. Unfortunately the general public has little defense against distraction, save the few places like this where those who are awake can share what they see. What we all need to at least keep in mind is that the Middle East, and specifically Israel/Syria, is the place to keep on your front page.
It sure seems to me that the world is gathering its forces in a place where prophecy (believe it or not) calls for a Great Battle to take place. Keep your eyes on Damascus.
(click to enlarge)
THE DEMOCRATS DID IT
And this is just ONE of many Democrat shooters that have been terrorizing our country. Any suggestions on what to do, and feel free to save the junior high school insults for someone else. This is a serious problem and since there are so many Democrats that live around me on the coast, I wonder what can be done to avoid their violence.
DREAM ON, MARCO. YOU'RE UP AGAINST A CLOSED SHOP HERE.
Further KZYX corruption and the wine-boiled fish heads bobbing in luxury at the center of it.
CEO of MCPB Corporation Jeffrey Parker wrote to Bruce Anderson through gritted teeth: "Thank you for your inquiry. KZYX has five full-time staff, two part-time staff, three regular freelance contractors, 108 volunteer programmers (at last count), great numbers of volunteers. Staff compensation is confidential information."
Marco here. Jeffrey, that doesn't even begin to answer the question. If KZYX had the private industry status you imagine it does, everyone involved might have a right to a certain degree of professional privacy, but it doesn't, and it can't, and you don't. And it's never been run as the community organization you lie that it is. You're a charity that survives on public money, tax-derived money. There's the $160,000-a-year CPB grant that several-times-over covers paying for your glut of non-local shows (that just play themselves from automation, no attention required once set). And there's the county-spanning high-power broadcast license. How much do you think the grant of that is worth? Never mind; I'll tell you how much it's worth: In the last thirty years so-called Mendocino County Public Broadcasting Corp. has absorbed and pissed away between THIRTY AND FIFTY MILLION dollars in 2018-corrected money. How much of that circa-$40 million would it have been able to raise without the government grant of monopoly control of that broadcast license? Seven dollars? $1.35? $9.99? The license alone is forty million dollars MCPB owes the county and the American people for.
In the real world, people who benefit at that level from control of a utility or a natural resource have no expectation of privacy as to how they dispose of that money. A school district, the police, garbage pickup, public health, homeless services, city hall, etc.: all must release all such information. No-one who works in a government-funded charity public radio station --and certainly no-one who has anything to do with holding the license and controlling and operating the station-- can pretend to be a private person and hide himself or his dealings behind the opaque corporate logo. You have to tell how much of that money you give your friends, and what for, and how much is held over the heads of toadies to ensure their slobbering loyalty. And if you and your inner circle who split the money amongst yourselves say it's not very much money, well, fine, if it's such a piddling amount, how much is it? It's bound to be more than you're paying each of the airpeople, because KZYX's airpeople have never been paid. They're wonderful volunteers who are in it for radio, unlike you, who are only in it for the money. /Of course/ you want to keep everything a secret; your belligerent refusal to deal honestly in public view about the way you operate is the guilt shouting. It is a guilt-colored neon sign on your face that says GUILT INSIDE while an airhorn honks GUILT! GUILT!
And speaking of charities, how do you feel when you read about a charity company, big or small, that pays the handful of people in the office hundreds or thousands of times what they pay the people actually doing the work the charity is there to do in the first place? Pretty bad, huh? Despicable crooks, aren't they? That's what you're doing at KZYX. A real manager of a real radio station pays the airpeople before he pays himself, Jeffrey. You've been there awhile now; you've got at least that much experience of sitting in something that looks a little like a radio station, seeing who is actually doing the real work and knowing who's not. When will you begin to do the right thing? When will you begin to be different from everyone who came before you in your position, and instead do other than show up, plant your ass in the chair, pretend to be busy and slurp $60,000 dollars a year out of the radio station for yourself? I mean, you knew zero, squat, nada about radio when they hired you to run a radio station because they liked the cut of your jib! So how can anyone suppose the board of MCPB Corp. is any more clueful than you have been about how to learn and proceed and what sort of people to trust and support? I'd be really surprised to find that anyone on the board of MCPB has ever built a transmitter, much less a whole radio station. None of them have written and produced live radio drama on stage or anywhere else, nor started and operated any truly public-access radio or teevee show or print publication. None of them, any more than you, seem to have any idea of what to do with a radio station besides smile while others crank it to raise money for you and a half-dozen people to pretend to run it, and for some shadowy others who must be raking it in hand over fricking fist.*
So answer the question Bruce asked: Not just how many people are you paying, but who are they, and how much is each of them paid?
I'm adding a few more questions to go with that. When is the next MCPB Corporation board meeting in Fort Bragg? Is it the same day and time as the so-called candidates' forum in Ukiah? Because that would be a sleazy trick. It doesn't say anywhere on your website when the next board meeting is. (I understand that at the last board meeting hardly any boardmembers deigned to even appear, and no reports on any subject were released. If it hadn't been for Sheila Tracy, your meetings might as well not even be happening at all. I mean, ordinarily they're Potemkin meetings, pretend shows of process, but even the false front is becoming kind of a wreck.
Some more it doesn't say on your website: How about contact information for all the candidates for the MCPB board, to distribute to the press, as well as contact information for all the people on the board now. And quickly, because the candidate forum is two weeks away. The widget on your website for writing a comment to the boardmembers doesn't get to them any better than it did when Stuart Campbell was intercepting all mail to the board and tossing it directly into the trash if it displeased His Majesty. And I want contact information for all the regular and alternate airpeople. And don't forget to add the names of all the paid employees and the dollar amounts they each are paid, and their job descriptions (see above). Why not just put that information on the website and send me a heads-up? Do it some time when you can't sleep, or tap it into your phone while you're in the toilet.
I want the dollar amounts of all donations above the standard membership fee for the last, say, ten years. I'm not asking for the names of the donors; it doesn't threaten anyone's privacy; I just want an idea of the generosity level of the people bribing you for a measure of control and influence. I want to make a bribe-shelf graph to put on posters in shop windows.
I can take the data as an Excel file, or a comma-separated-entry file. Whatever's easiest for your bookkeeper; just have him click the four or five clicks necessary and send it to my email address, which is email@example.com. And, again, I'm still waiting to hear you justify, in your own words, sucking out of the station for yourself $60,000 a year and not paying even a groat to the airpeople whose work brings you all that money and more. Just take a breath and start talking. Do it on the air so you don't have to do it a hundred times on the phone. That's the great thing about radio; it's so much more convenient.
Really, for *$600,000+ a year -- and I remember a $760,000 year, or was it 790,000? that KZYX did awhile back; I was talking with a former boardmember, on my show on KNYO and KMEC, who said that KZYX somehow did a million-dollar year while he was there -- given that it never cost more than 60 cents an hour to keep the transmitter transmitting, KZYX should be the dazzling hippie Cadillac bus of radio stations, a fountain of creativity and freedom and experimentation and a lively forum of contentious back and forth dialog on all subjects, including of course the subject of management or mismanagement of the station, with a brisk turnover in shows and material and offerings and surprises, and it's not any of those things; it's safe and harmless and dumb and chained down, smothered in canned shows from thousands of miles away, with anyone with a scintilla of wild creativity banned outright and forever, and with equipment and services that break down more often than at radio stations that cost a tiny fraction of the gold dust KZYX mysteriously flushes away, and that's your fault, now, Jeffrey, because so far you've been at least as big of a pathetic fraud as all the previous CEOs of MCPB Corp., and you know it. If you're not capable of actively doing better at least release what information is there; take the black tarp off like ripping off a bandaid; let a little light and air into the inner workings and comic-horror-noir back-room sleazery of the place. At least do that.
Also, arse yourself to do the three-to-five minutes of work it takes to schedule my excellent show on KZYX, which I've been patiently waiting for someone there to do since early 2012. Open the website, edit the schedule, make a few phone calls, done. I'll want $3,822 (52 weeks of a 7+-hour-weekly live show at California minimum wage; you don't even have to pay me for the 20+ hours of concentrated prep before each show), and after a year we can negotiate from there. I'll bet that's less than the station is paying for just your dental insurance. And you know what I just figured out? If you were to pay the same minimum wage to all the live-local-show airpeople for just their airtime too, it would add up to very close to the goal of your most recent pledge drive, so even if there were no economies to be made in alleviating other areas of corruption (besides you), which there are, and even if there were no holes to be pinched shut in important arteries to slow or stop the constant hemorrhaging of money your terrible management is responsible for, which there are, you could pay us all by simply ripping up your own undeserved paycheck, and then try out being in it for radio and community and the public good, the way all of the rest of us have been and are, instead of being in it entirely for the money for your selfish self.
Because the work of the airpeople you list is the /very source of all your personal loot./ And you're not at all the cause of the radio station and all the shows there existing and continuing. Airpeople are. If you were to sleep in for a week and not show up or call at all, and then another week, and another, and so on, what would stop? What urgently requires your attention? There's a program director to direct the programs, a bookkeeper to keep the books, a business underwriting coordinator to coordinate the business underwriting, an operations manager to manage the operations, and if the operations manager finds himself stumped, a real engineer is a phone call away for him. "Come and fix this," he can say. What's left for you to do? What does anyone need you for, at any pay rate, much less $60,000 a year? As things stand, what is the point of you?
Schedule my show. I deserve, as much as or more than anyone you know, to use KZYX to do real radio. Dump a few stupid shows from far away, push a few shows this way and that, put your IT person in contact with me so we can add my portable remote studio, and dozens of similar radio people's remote studios, to the automation, pay me for my work, and start paying all the others at the same time. You can do it; you can learn and grow and change and evolve as a person, and improve the radio station in the direction of making it magnificent, with practically the stroke of a pen. But you need to pick that metaphorical and real pen up and stroke it. Look at your own hands and think about making them do the right thing for once.
p.s. One more thing: Press print, print this email and slip it into the KZYX public inspection file. As a matter of fact, start putting all letters from the public about the operation of the station in the public inspection file. All MCPB Corp. managers before you have angrily refused this simple request. Just do it; consider it part of the job. Small steps.
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A READER AGREES:
Marco KZYX rant
This is probably the only thing I am in agreement with Marco on. I stopped listening to KZYX years ago, unless it is on a day, like Saturday, when Trading Time is on (and then I have to suffer through the annoying voices/comments — I mean Dyslexia — on a call in show where phone numbers are crucial?) of the 'DeeJays' to hear “Wait Wait.” KZYX would do well to remember those little discs called CDs, and how easily they are played with the push of a button. Course' these rants are futile; Mendolibs love the station. Prius drivers, dial in and give em' your bucks!
FORMER PANOCHE WATER DISTRICT STAFF CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT, ILLEGAL DISPOSAL OF HAZARDOUS WASTE
by Dan Bacher
Just when you thought the corruption that infests California water politics couldn’t get any worse, it does.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday announced the arrest and filing of felony charges against five people for the misuse of public funds and illegal disposal of hazardous waste “amidst widespread corruption” at the Panoche Water District (PWD) in Firebaugh.
The scheme resulted in an estimated loss of over $100,000 in public funds, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office. The arrests were the product of a joint year-long investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
Located on the arid west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Panoche is a member of the San Luis Unit of the Bureau of Reclamation that receives water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday arrested and booked into Fresno County Jail Dennis Falaschi, the water district's former general manager; Julie Cascia, the former office manager; and Atomic Falschi, the manager of the San Joaquin River Improvement Project.
Dubby West, the district’s shop supervisor, surrendered to the Los Banos Police Department on Wednesday. Part-time employee Jack Hurley is expected to surrender to authorities Friday.
The five defendants were charged in a felony complaint with a total of ten counts, including eight counts relating to the theft of public funds and two counts relating to crimes involving hazardous waste disposal. Two of the defendants are charged with misusing over $100,000 in public funds
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) found 86 drums of hazardous waste, varying in size from 35 to 55 gallons, illegally buried on the water district’s property. The drums contained chlorine, caustic soda, iron chloride and a mixture of used antifreeze, used solvents, and used oil, according to a DTSC news release.
“Following that discovery, DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) also investigated the water district for possible financial crimes, first identified by the California State Auditor. These activities included illegal employee loans and the use of district credit cards for sporting events, slot machine purchases, concerts, kitchen remodeling, residential landscaping and other purchases,” DTSC said.
DTSC referred the criminal case to the California Attorney General’s Office in September 2017.
“In California, those in public posts who abuse the public's trust for personal gain will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute those who embezzle and misuse public funds. We will work with our law enforcement partners to get the job done.”
The criminal complaint alleges that Dennis Falaschi, the ex-General Manager of PWD, “ran the District as his own personal operation and bank account, spending excessive amounts of District money using credit cards issued by PWD.”
“Under the direction of Dennis Falaschi, Julie Cascia used PWD credit cards and money orders for personal expenses, while mischaracterizing the charges as business expenses,” the A.G.’s Office stated.
Dennis’ son, Atomic Falaschi, took items from PWD, including trees, equipment, and other goods, and used them on his own personal property, the Attorney General alleges.
The remaining defendants, Jack Hurley and Dubby West, illegally buried barrels of hazardous waste without permits or authorization from DTSC, acting under the direction of Dennis Falaschi.
“These arrests send the strong message that violations of the state’s hazardous waste laws are taken seriously and will be pursued and prosecuted to the maximum extent possible in order to protect public health, the environment and public resources,” said DTSC Director Barbara A. Lee.
Lee said that during removal of the drums from the property, DTSC discovered that the liquid hazardous waste was leaking into the ground. The contamination is being remediated.
Other hazardous waste was sent to businesses not permitted to receive the waste, resulting in the felony charge of illegally transporting hazardous waste, according to the criminal complaint.
Dennis Falaschi, Julie Cascia and Atomic Falaschi are expected to appear in Fresno Superior Court on March 7.
Pacheco Water District officials have not responded to my request for their comments on the arrests and filing of charges.
The joint year-long investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) followed in the wake of an audit of the district by State Controller Betty T. Yee.
On January 31, 2017, Yee announced that her team’s detailed review of the Panoche Water District’s administrative and accounting controls found “prevalent and severe deficiencies, with 76 percent of internal control elements deemed inadequate.”
“The district’s egregious lack of spending oversight is shocking,” said Controller Yee, the state’s chief fiscal office, said at the time. “It is especially troubling in a region where effective water governance is so vital for the agricultural community. I am looking into what options are available to ensure small entities like Panoche Water District are kept accountable.”
More information on Yee’s audit is available here: www.dailykos.com/…
Panoche Water District (PWD) receives Delta water from the Central Valley Project via the Delta Mendota Canal and the San Luis Canal. It is one of many west side San Joaquin Valley water districts that export Delta water at enormous cost to winter-run Chinook and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and long fin smelt and other fish populations.
PWD is a public agency that distributes water for irrigation, domestic, and industrial uses, serving an area of about 38,000 acres in western Merced and Fresno counties. The district is overseen by a five-member board of directors.
OCI is a special investigation unit within DTSC, comprising of peace officers, scientists, and a computer forensic specialist who investigate criminal misconduct and other serious violations of hazardous waste laws.
A copy of the complaint is attached to the press release at oag.ca.gov.
View documents related to the case here.
OLYMPICS: HOW NBC, PENCE GET KOREA WRONG
February 23, 2018
Monday's show on KMEC with guest Christine Hong
CBS Marketwatch reports today: “NBC was forced to fire one of its Olympic analysts after he inexplicably said Koreans are grateful for Japan’s role in their economic development — while ignoring the one-time imperial power’s brutalization of the peninsula. The Peacock Network was left red-faced by weird comments of corporate bigwig Joshua Cooper Ramo, whom 30 Rock worked as a commentator for coverage of opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday.” See Twitter feed of D.C.-based Korea specialist @TimothyS, who has been critiquing NBC’s coverage, including the comments by Ramo, a Henry Kissinger protege.
MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO on KNYO and KMEC!
Friday night the show is by live remote from Juanita's place, not from Franklin Street. So if you want to talk in person about your project or read aloud your own writing, or bring your instrument(s) and/or fellow instrumentalists and play a short set, or try out your stand-up act, you can drop by 325 N. Franklin, next door to the Tip Top bar, after 9pm, just skate in and head for the lighted room at the back next week, First Friday, March 2nd. Because I'm not there tonight. Tonight I'll be in the Big Lebowski boxer shorts, fluffy bathrobe and dollar-store zoris at my portable studio mess on the typing table next to the bed at Juanita's, reading aloud on the air the interesting bits of whatever I've been reading all week including, of course, what you've sent.
Speaking of which, right now you still have about an hour to email your writing to be read on MOTA. Just paste your poem or essay or kvetch or sale item or whatever into the body text of an email, check that it's going to me and not to the whole group, unless that's what you want, and press send. If you're reading this after that, it's never too late, just send it anyway and I'll read it on next week's show.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or if that doesn't work for you try http://TuneIn.com and look up KNYO-LP. (TuneIn might play a thirty-second-long ad for soda pop or condoms or something before it passes you through.)
In other, similar news: You can have your own whole show on KNYO and never have to depend on me at all, though I'm happy to help you get started: Contact Bob Young: firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself and be prepared to answer when he says, right off the bat: "What time were you thinking you'd like your show to be on?"