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MCT: Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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DRY WEATHER will continue today. A front will move across the area Wednesday afternoon and evening, generating light to moderate rain. Cooler weather and a chance of showers will follow for the remainder of the week. (National Weather Service)

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by Bob Dempel

I traded some property many years ago and bought an older country home in Healdsburg just out of town. I rented this house to a young couple with one child. The husband Nick approached me one day with a need to store a boat in my equipment shed for a couple of friends who were coming into town to open up a new restaurant. I was already housing a boat for Nick in my shed. I told Nick I would have to think about it as I had an array of tractors that I need stored out of the weather. I didn’t really know if I had room for another boat. About a week later, I went to the property which now had been planted to grapes. Right there in the equipment shed was another boat.

I corralled up Nick and asked WTF is going on here with the second boat in my shed? His reply was that his two friends came to town and needed a place to store the boat as he had previously discussed with me. And the day they came to town it was raining and surely, I would not like to have it rain on the boat. At this time I had no knowledge of who the two people were and I was not shot in the butt to have a second boat in my shed.

Nick assured me that the two friends were going to open up a restaurant named Johnny Garlic’s and as soon as the restaurant was open, I would be able to eat free at the restaurant. I pressured Nick and soon found out the names of his friends as Steve Gruber and Guy Fieri. Twenty years ago, the names meant nothing to me other than they had a boat in my shed.

True to the prediction from Nick, Steve and Guy opened up Johnny Garlic’s Restaurant on the Southeast side of Santa Rosa. This was some 20 years ago. I was also invited to come and eat free in trade for the boat rental. Shirley and I took up the offer went for dinner and for the first time met Steve and Guy. The motif was all centered around garlic. As I remember the menu had many dishes with garlic. It was a fun place to go. And the restaurant was full.

My tenant Nick decided to move to a larger house with now two children. My contact was directly with either Steve or Guy. And a short time later either one or the other contacted me about storing another piece of equipment. They had opened up a second restaurant in Windsor as well as a catering business. The catering business required several trailers and the city of Windsor did not like them parking the trailers next to the restaurant. I had outside space at an adjoining vineyard block that was used mainly for loading grapes for a short period. Before long I had three catering trailers, an equipment trailer and a steam cleaning trailer all stored in my loading area.

Guy and Steve’s business was going strong. They opened more restaurants in Petaluma, downtown Santa Rosa, Pleasanton and in the Sacramento area. I saw less and less of Guy and more of Steve. At some point I found a motor home stored on my loading area. I had negotiated a payback formula for the times Shirley and I could eat free at any of Garlic’s, as well as Tex Wasabi’s

I can’t remember when Guy became a star. He had at some time vanished from contact with me. The last time I saw him just mingling was at the Sonoma County Wine Awards program at the fairgrounds. The fair had leaked that Guy would be attending. I was working with some FFA students at the side door. Suddenly Guy appeared with an entourage of people. Guy recognized me and spoke to me, introduced me to his wife Lori. By this time, he was surrounded with people who wanted their picture with Guy, now identified by his exotic hairdo and clothes.

Sunset magazine had an annual tour of their gardens in Redwood City for years. Shirley has always wanted to go to it. Ironically several years ago Guy was invited to put on a food demonstration at one of their many venues held on the date of the open house tour. I checked on line and his cooking demonstration was sold out. Shirley elected to attend one of the other demonstrations. Not wanting to miss a presentation by Guy, I called Steve. He returned my call and instructed me to go to the back of the stage where Guy was going to speak and Guy would meet me there and arrange a seat for me. So, a few minutes before showtime I saw Guy and he had arranged for me to sit on stage in one of the elevated chairs that sometimes directors sit in. So here I am sitting right behind Guy Fieri before some 500 people. Guy was preparing some food from his own recipe. The sad thing is that the County would not allow the food to be sampled due to not having an approved kitchen on stage. A friend of mine heads the Center for Food at UC Berkley. She states 43% of prepared food at restaurants are discarded.

My relationship with the boys continued for years. Inexpediently, I read in our local paper that Steve and Guy were separating the business. I should have seen this coming; Guy was now a super food star while Steve stayed behind managing the now six or seven restaurants. I called Steve and discussed our relationship and was assured that nothing would change. The article in the local paper so upset me that I wrote a letter to the Editor which was printed. My point being that this was similar to a couple getting a divorce.

Not much later I did notice some change. The beverage people were taking the soda dispensers out of the catering/fair trailers. About that time the Farmer’s Lane restaurant closed, followed by Windsor. The trailers were sold. And I recently opened up the paper and Tex Wasabi’s is shuttered. I don’t know about the other stores.

As Marshall Grant wrote “I was there when it started.”

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On October 13, 2019, while on regular patrol, an officer of the Fort Bragg Police Department observed a white sport utility vehicle parked in the 200 block of N. Franklin Street, occupied by one female driver. The female was honking the vehicle horn excessively. The officer attempted to make contact with the female to check her condition, and observed an opened alcoholic beverage sitting in the front console of the vehicle.

The female refused to exit the vehicle, rolled the windows up, and locked the door. Once a second police unit arrived, officers were able to identify the female, and began contacting family members, who advised the officers that the female suffered from a mental health condition, and she may be in crisis.

As officers were obtaining further information from the family, the female drove away from the location. Officers began following the vehicle in an attempt to get it stopped. With emergency lights and sirens activated, the female driver refused to yield to officers. A short, slow speed pursuit then ensued for several city blocks.

The female then pulled the vehicle into a driveway, where officers were able to block the vehicle in. Officers again attempted contact with the female, who continued to ignore their requests to exit the vehicle. The female then reversed the vehicle, and attempted to leave the driveway, colliding with a parked police vehicle. A short struggle with the female ensued, and officers were able to remove her from the vehicle. The female was detained at that time. An ambulance in the area stopped to render treatment to the female for some small cuts and scratches as a result of the struggle. The two officers involved also sustained minor injuries that did not require treatment.

As officers began interviewing the female, it was determined that she was experiencing a mental health crisis, and was unaware of any of the events leading up to the detainment. The female was taken to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, where she was released to Mendocino County Mental Health for further treatment.

(Fort Bragg Police Presser)

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Rex Gressett,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Georgia Pacific mill site in Fort Bragg. We noticed some errors in your story, however, that must be corrected.

DTSC has not announced the termination of the mill site toxic cleanup. DTSC is now reviewing the final Operable Unit E Feasibility Study, which includes the mill site ponds, and in August 2019 oversaw the additional sampling of sediment in Ponds 6 and 8 and the North Ponds. DTSC will use the additional pond data when evaluating final cleanup options in the Operable Unit E Remedial Action Plan (RAP).

Here are links to the sediment work plan and our letter approving it.

DTSC has not told the Fort Bragg community that if people "did not walk past the pond more than (I think it was) two times a week they probably would not get cancer." DTSC evaluations determined that being near the ponds presents no risk to human health. It is only if people disregard the fences and enter the ponds that they face a slightly elevated cancer risk by coming into contact with the sediment. A DTSC evaluation did determine that if a person entered Pond 8 (the mill pond) and was in contact with pond sediment weekly over the next 30 years, that person would have a slight cancer risk. That cancer risk is equal to two potential cancers for every million people that come in contact with the pond sediment weekly for 30 years.

That evaluation is available on page 69 of this document.

DTSC also presented this information at a special Fort Bragg Council meeting on Feb. 2, 2017. This is available on page 44.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please let me know when the corrections appear.


Barbara Zumwalt

Information Officer

California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)


Ms Zumwalt,

Glad to know you are reading the articles.

I was indeed a little poetic in my description of DTSC risk assessment on the mill ponds. I thought that the irony would be apparent. Glad to put it right, but I need some facts. Actually I just got your request for a correction a few minutes ago. I note that your current assessment of the risk is not exactly the same as the original assessment described to the people of the city at the public meeting at the second to last DTSC presentation in Fort Bragg. The objection of the people of the city at that meeting and afterward to having the area fenced off was visceral and profound, some of us were concerned that our primary attraction for tourism would be fenced off in perpetuity due to toxicity, which was the point that I was trying to make and which you confirmed so well but are apparently trying to downplay by the application of adjectives. However, I do totally see your point. I hope you see mine. I am sure we can work out a correction, but I think we need to be precise.

I think you would agree that subsequent to that meeting there has been considerable confusion. The secret deal between the (now former) Development Director Marie Jones, DTSC, and the agency stakeholders left the toxins in the pond and required a new dam to keep them there. It was secret in the sense that Ms. Jones did not tell the city council, or the press, or the people about the agreement that she made with your agency. The existence of the deal was only disclosed in the letter from GP to then-Mayor Peters, which I referenced in the article and which I only got my hands on after a long contentious battle with city hall.

I need a little time on this, but I think we can agree that you and I need to talk. I have no interest in misrepresenting DTSC and I think we both feel that the whole story has never been told. Let's tell it. Give me 48 hours to get my act together, and we will set up a conference.

Thanks for your close attention. Please do not hesitate to email me,

Rex Gressett

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A MAN WAS SHOT after firing a gun at Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies Thursday in Ukiah, according to Sheriff-Coroner Thomas Allman. Deputies received a call at 12:54 p.m. from a passing motorist of an individual who was acting drunk or disoriented and located the man near a blue van on the 7200 block of Uva Drive that was parked at an angle facing oncoming traffic, Allman said. Deputies contacted the man, identified as being 26 years old who was reported missing from the Los Angeles area. The man began yelling and a fight ensued between he and three deputies, according to Allman, adding the deputies deployed a taser gun, to no affect. The man, who was not identified, pulled away from officers and then entered the van, where he fired one shot from a .50-caliber, semi-automatic Desert Eagle handgun, according to Allman. Deputies opened fire and the man was struck at least twice. He was airlifted to a hospital in another county, and his injuries were reported as non-life-threatening, Allman said, adding one officer sustained minor scrapes and was treated by firefighters on the scene. Allman said the officers were placed on paid administrative lead in accordance with department regulations and were giving statements. The deputies’ experience ranges from 10 months to 13 years with the County Sheriff’s Office. According to Allman, the Sheriff’s Office does not use bodycams but employs dashcams, which he believed captured the incident. Allman said he didn’t know if the camera footage had been reviewed. “The Sheriff’s Office has an obligation to push this video out as soon as possible, and we intend to do so,” Allman said. “We’ve been in touch with some experts on this to get this information out as quick as legally possible without having any kind of impact on the investigation.” Following the shooting, deputies searched the vehicle and located a significant package containing a powdered white substance, which was sent to the Department of Justice for testing, according to Allman.

(Sacramento Bee, Friday, Oct. 11)

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FOR YEARS NOW, Olie Erickson has been responding to emergencies of all sorts in the Signal Ridge area (and beyond!). He's put a lot of miles on old 7466. Recently, when we had a mechanical issue that took 7466 out of service and Olie packed all the med gear into his own pickup, we realized that it's time to get a new truck up there. Thanks to Anne Fashauer Williamson for organizing this fundraiser! You can support us by joining us for a BBQ at the Fashauer Vineyard, 21600 Greenwood Road, on October 26th, donating through the Go Fund Me, or both. $20/person suggested donation. BBQ & Spaghetti. ”Dry run your costumes.” Thanks!

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LOOKING EAST from Noyo Hill to 7 Mile Hill, 15 miles as the raven flies

(photo by Dick Whetstone)

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A MAJOR CONTRIBUTING FACTOR to the housing shortage in Mendo is the large number of rentals which would otherwise be available to locals that have been converted to temporary rentals of the Air B&B type. There are more than 60 such conversions in the Anderson Valley alone. My ramshackle former home on Anderson Valley Way, once home to as many as ten or so people and a thriving newspaper business (irony alert), is now owned by a youngish San Francisco couple who Air B&B it at $450 per night (!). It's one thing to live in the Anderson Valley and rent the cabin out back to auslanders, but it's a mercenary, community-destroying practice when distant investors buy up local properties to rent them out to transients. Maybe the Supes will crack down on the practice, har de har.

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JUST SAYIN’ but it seems as soon as the CHP appears in the Anderson Valley, facebook lights up with warnings where he’s positioned. Speaking for the geezer community, and presumably other sensible Boonters, I wish the CHP was here every day in the middle of Boonville. Traffic speed through here is nuts, way too fast for conditions and a clear and present danger to the people who live here.

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ANDERSON VALLEY DID NOT LOSE POWER during last week’s PG&E blackout, but several communities in east Mendo did lose power last Thursday and Friday, as the entire county suffered under contradictory information from PG&E throughout the shutdown.

AS ITS MANY CRITICS have suggested, PG&E should be broken up into regional, not-for-profit power companies. As is, and as has been from its consolidated beginnings, PG&E has flouted the Public Utilities Commission, weak and as company-oriented as it is, to ensure its shareholders a steady blue chip return. Prioritizing private interests over the public interest has meant that instead of investing in infrastructure safety, shareholders (and outrageous executive pay) come first, hence, count on it, annual power shut-downs.

ANOTHER JOKE MAKING THE ROUNDS: “We may or may not turn off your power tomorrow, and if we do turn off your power, it may or may not be off for several days. Here is our website where you can get more information, but it doesn’t work. Good luck. — PG&E”

ROUGH ESTIMATE of cost of the NorCal outage is pegged at a cool billion by the SF Chron.

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CLIFF HOUSE, Sky Tram (entrance in the lower left portion of the photo postcard, circa mid 1950’s).

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KATY TAHJA’S MENDO HISTORY BOOK. The Comptche writer is the first person to attempt a history of this odd place, and I know she’s worked long and hard at it, as you can hear for yourself at the Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino on Saturday, 6:30pm, November 9th where Mrs. Tahja will talk about “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County.” (We’ll have a review as soon as we get our hands on a copy.)

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Balto, Corral, Delulio

BRANDON BALTO, Fresno/Willits. DUI-drugs&alcohol.

JOSEPH CORRAL, Los Angeles/Redwood Valley. Attempted murder.

JESSICA DELULIO, Willits. Domestic abuse.

Fomasi, Kelly, Marin

ANTHONY FOMASI, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.

BRETT KELLY, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.

JAIME MARIN, Ukiah. Battery, under influence, disobeying court order, probation revocation.

Maxfield, Nunez-Davila, Parkin

BRADLEY MAXFIELD, Willits. Burglary, stolen property, getting credit with another’s ID, selling lost access card, controlled substance, probation revocation.

ENRIQUE NUNEZ-DAVILA, Covelo. Assault with firearm, possession of assault weapon, criminal threats.

COLE PARKIN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

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by Norman Solomon

The Democratic Party's most powerful donors are running out of options in the presidential race. Their warhorse Joe Biden is stumbling, while the other corporate-minded candidates lag far behind. For party elites, with less than four months to go before voting starts in caucuses and primaries, 2020 looks like Biden or bust.

A key problem for the Democratic establishment is that the "electability" argument is vaporizing in the political heat. Biden's shaky performances on the campaign trail during the last few months have undermined the notion that he's the best bet to defeat Donald Trump. The latest polling matchups say that Biden and his two strong rivals for the nomination, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, would each hypothetically beat Trump by around 10 points.

As such realities sink in, the focus is turning to where the party's entrenched power brokers don't want it to go—the actual merits of the candidates in terms of political history, independence from big-money special interests, and longtime commitment to positions now favored by most Democrats.

With the electability claim diminished, Biden faces a steep climb on the merits of his record and current policy stances. The looming crisis for the Biden forces is reflected in the fact that his top campaign operatives have already publicly conceded he could lose the first two nomination contests, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

And in an era when small donations from the grassroots are adding up to big financial hauls, Biden is so uninspiring that he's losing the money race by a wide margin. Despite his relentless harvesting of big checks from hedge-fund managers, rich CEOs and the like, Biden's campaign raised a total of only about $15 million in the last quarter, compared to around $25 million that Sanders and Warren each received. The New York Times noted that the duo's fundraising totals are markers for "the collective enthusiasm in the party for progressive candidates pushing messages of sweeping change."

But Biden continues to greatly benefit from the orientations of corporate media outlets that loudly echo the concerns of corporate Democrats (often called "moderates" or "centrists") and their kindred spirits in realms like Wall Street. Rarely inclined to dispel the longstanding myth of "Lunch Bucket Joe," reporting has been sparse on his legislative legacy in service to such industries as credit-card companies, banks and the healthcare business.

Media affection for Biden is matched by the biases of corporate media that—for many years—have routinely spun coverage of Sanders in negative ways, amplifying the messages from people at the helm of huge corporations. Recent months have seen no letup of anti-Bernie salvos, with Sanders as a kind of "heat shield" for Warren, catching the vast majority of the left-baiting attacks that would otherwise be aimed at her. Yet, as Warren's campaign gains momentum, she is becoming more of a prime target for wealthy sectors and their media echo chambers.

A CNBC article summarized on-air comments from network star Jim Cramer: "The financial community is really worried about the possibility of Sen. Elizabeth Warren becoming president." A theme among corporate executives, he said, is that "she's got to be stopped."

Such rumblings have grown louder since that broadcast five weeks ago, as Warren has surged into virtual ties with Biden in national polls. In late September, CNBC reported: "Democratic donors on Wall Street and in big business are preparing to sit out the presidential campaign fundraising cycle—or even back President Donald Trump—if Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the party's nomination."

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders (who I actively support) is even more antithetical to the economic powers that be. He directly advocates for an end to the biz-as-usual that has propelled the rapacious rise of corporate power and widening economic inequality.

Sanders underscored that advocacy in an ABC interview that aired on Sunday: "What we need is, in fact—I don't want to get people too nervous—we need a political revolution. I am, I believe, the only candidate who's going to say to the ruling class of this country, the corporate elite: 'Enough, enough with your greed and with your corruption. We need real change in this country.'"

And Sanders made explicit why—at the same time that Warren is loathed on Wall Street—he is even more feared and despised by champions of predatory capital. "Elizabeth considers herself—if I got the quote correctly—to be a capitalist to her bones," he said. "I don't. And the reason I am not is because I will not tolerate for one second the kind of greed and corruption and income and wealth inequality and so much suffering that is going on in this country today, which is unnecessary."

Days ago, the Bernie 2020 campaign began wide distribution of a sticker that boldly says, "Billionaires Should Not Exist." That kind of genuine progressive politics is an existential threat to the extremely wealthy, whose riches amid vast income inequality keep killing a lot of people.

Biden, speaking at the Brookings Institution in May 2018, was transparent about why corporate Democrats remain so enamored with him. "I love Bernie, but I'm not Bernie Sanders," he said. "I don't think 500 billionaires are the reason why we're in trouble. . . The folks at the top aren't bad guys."

No wonder Dianne Feinstein—snubbing fellow California senator Kamala Harris—recently hosted a high-profile fundraiser for Biden and last week formally endorsed him as "a tireless fighter for hardworking American families." Feinstein's net worth is close to $100 million, and her investment-banker husband Richard Blum is a billionaire.

At this point, the shaky Biden for President campaign appears to be the only realistic hope for those who want a defender of corporate greed at the top of the Democratic ticket next year. While progressives who understand Biden's actual record are determined to prevent him from becoming the presidential nominee, "the folks at the top" are doubling down on their best chance to win the nomination for someone who says they "aren't bad guys."

(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State." He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

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IT WAS A “SMART-FRIDGE,” which was being advertised as “internet-equipped.” You could check your email or check your calendar. You could watch YouTube clips or listen to MP3s. You could even make phone calls. I had to restrain myself from keying in Lindsay’s number and saying, from across the floor, “I’m calling from a fridge.” The fridge’s computer kept track of internal temperature, and through scanning barcodes, the freshness of your food. It also provided nutritional information. I remember driving home in a confused silence. The only reason that thing was “internet-equipped” was so that it could report back to its manufacturer about its owner’s usage and about any other household data that was obtainable. The manufacturer, in turn, would monetize that data by selling it. And we were supposed to pay for the privilege. I wondered what the point was of my getting so worked up over government surveillance. If my friends, neighbors and fellow citizens were more than happy to invite corporate surveillance into their homes… I imagined the future SmartFridge stationed in my kitchen, monitoring my conduct and habits, and using my tendency to drink straight from the carton or not wash my hands to evaluate the probability of my being a felon…

— Edward Snowden

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(photo by Harvey Reading)

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Laytonville, CA — Long Valley Health Center (LVHC) was the most awarded community health center in Mendocino County for the 2019 Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) quality improvement grants, and one of only five health centers in the state to earn the 2019 HRSA Value Enhancer Award, earning a total of $101,786 in grant funding. LVHC Executive Director Rod Grainger said, “While we appreciate the funding that comes with these awards, I’m most proud of the well-deserved recognition for Long Valley Health Center’s culture of quality. We have an amazing team of people who really understand how to put patients at the center of everything we do.”

This year, HRSA awarded $107 million in quality improvement awards to 1,273 health centers nationwide. Awards recognize a variety of quality measures, including the consistent use of nationally recognized best practices in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, increasing the availability of health care, and the effective use of healthcare technology. The Value Enhancer Award recognizes health centers that meet rigorous quality standards and expand access to health care, all while maintaining a cost of care per patient that is lower than the national average for community health centers.

LVHC earned awards in all six categories for which they were eligible. LVHC was recognized with its third consecutive Silver Award as a Health Center Quality Leader, putting it in the top 20 percent of health centers nationwide for its work on health priorities such as behavioral health, diabetes prevention and management, and screening for common illnesses such as heart disease, coronary artery disease, cervical cancer and more. The health center also received the Access Enhancer Award, the Health Disparities Reducer Award, the Clinical Quality Improver Award, and the Health Information Technology Award.

Having recently been accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, LVHC earned recognition from HRSA for this achievement, too. The Patient-Centered Medical Home model is based on teamwork and incorporating patients’ cultural and personal preferences into care plans to help patients be more successful. At LVHC, employees focus on a whole-person approach, integrating care across multiple disciplines. According to Michelle Hill, LVHC Quality Improvement/Clinical IT Coordinator, staff members “huddle” twice a day to discuss how best to support patients. This includes not only healthcare providers and clinical staff, but staff from all over the health center.

She said, “When medical and behavioral health providers collaborate to help patients dealing with multiple health challenges, the patients get more of the support they need.” As part of their Patient-Centered Health Center accreditation, LVHC received a special Integrated Behavioral Health Award. At the time, they were the only community health center in Northern California with this honor.

Hill explained that people at all levels of the organization are encouraged to share their ideas ”that everyone is expected to contribute to the culture of quality. Grainger said, “Michelle has been instrumental in our quality improvement journey. She helped us make quality improvement a team sport, first by measuring relevant data so we knew where to focus our energy, and then by helping everyone think about quality in every single thing we do.”

Grainger continued, “We know we’re doing things right when our patients share their stories with us. Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with a patient who told me that over the course of the last 18 months, the two LVHC providers he’s been working with have given him the freedom of being drug-free. It’s changed his life completely. That’s what we do. We’re here to help people live the healthiest lives they can

(Rod Grainger, Executive Director)

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Stephen Miller recently referred to the whistleblower as an operative from the “deep state,” which he believes is an organized effort to undermine his boss, the president.

It is my observation that the folks who make up the “deep state” are long-term, dedicated employees of the various agencies who deeply care about America and who also have values that reflect the better good for the people of this nation.

Citizens who are appalled by the actions of this president should be deeply grateful that there are federal employees who are willing to stand up and be counted for what they believe. Long live the “deep state”!

Noel J. O’Neill


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CAPITALISM IS ANARCHY FOR THE RICH, and slavery for everybody else. It “works” because the slaves believe they are free. You can’t have a better form of tyranny than that. The question is, why do common, ordinary people embrace an ideology that despises common, ordinary people? Moral masochism perhaps? — Carol Mattessich

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by James Kunstler

An eerie silence cloaked the political landscape this lovely fall weekend as the soldiers in this (so far) administrative civil war scrambled for position in the next round of skirmishes. Rep. Adam Schiff fell back on the preposterous idea that he might not produce his “whistleblower” witness at all in the (so far) hypothetical impeachment proceeding. He put that one out after running a similarly absurd idea up the flagpole: that his “whistleblower” might just testify by answering written questions. I was waiting for him to offer up testimony by Morse code, carrier pigeon, or smoke signals.

Of course, the effort to “protect” the “whistleblower” has been a juke all along. For one thing, he-she-it is not a “whistleblower” at all; was only labeled that via legalistic legerdemain to avoid revealing the origin of this affair as a CIA cover-your-ass operation. Did Mr. Schiff actually think he could conceal this figure’s identity in a senate impeachment trial, when it came to that — for what else is impeachment aimed at? Anonymous sources are not admissible under American due process of law. Mr. Schiff must have missed that class in law school.

All of this hocus-pocus suggests to me that there is no “whistleblower,” that it is a phantom confabulation of gossip threads that unraveled the moment Mr. Trump released the transcript of his phone call to Ukraine’s president Zelensky, aborting Mr. Schiff’s game plan. The ensuing weeks of congressional Keystone Kops buffoonery since then appears to conceal a futile effort by Mr. Schiff and his confederates to find some fall guy willing to pretend that he-she-it is the “whistleblower.” He might as well ask for a volunteer to gargle with Gillette Blue Blades on NBC’s Meet the Press.

One marvels at Rep. Schiff’s tactical idiocy. But just imagine the panicked consternation it must be triggering among his Democratic colleagues. Notice that Mrs. Pelosi has been hiding out during this latest phase of the action. She may sense that there is nothing left to do but allow Mr. Schiff to twist slowly slowly in the wind, as he has hung himself out to dry. She should have known better since every previous declaration of conclusive evidence by Mr. Schiff over the past three years has proved to be false, knowingly and mendaciously so.

One also clearly senses that all the smoke-and-mirrors are a desperate attempt to divert attention from a soon-to-drop DOJ Inspector General’s report which, by the way, will only be an overture to much more damaging action likely to come from Mr. Barr’s proceeding. After all, IG Horowitz was not allowed under the rules to compel the testimony of persons outside the Department of Justice, which would now include Andrew McCabe, James Comey, and many others at the center of the RussiaGate prank.

That also includes the probable chief pranksters, former CIA head John Brennan and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, the midwives of RussiaGate. The pair have been running around on cable news with both their hair and their pants on fire in recent weeks. Back in March, before the Mueller Report flopped, and when Mr. Barr was commissioned to look into all the RussiaGate shenanigans, Mr. Brennan comically claimed that he “received bad information and suspected there was more than there actually was.”

That lame admission will not avail to protect him or the CIA, an agency that is behind the administrative civil war. It has been a rogue agency for a long long time, but may have finally overplayed its hand, along with the newer adjunct agencies that have been stitched onto it since 9/11/01 — the dark network that goes by the name Intelligence Community. So many shoes are ready to drop on them that the din might drown out all the John Philip Sousa marches ever played in the lobby at Langley, let alone the thin trilling of a fake whistleblower.

Apart from these fateful developments the prize for the week’s most transparently disingenuous bit of media agitprop goes to Saturday’s New York Times puff piece on former FBI Director Jim Comey, which actually sets him up for federal indictment on something like sedition or treason. Get a load of this:

Did you notice that the photo-caption states: James Comey plans to spend the next 13 months working to drive President Trump from power. Oh, really? By what means, exactly? Single-handedly or with whom? And how did the strategy he kicked off in 2016 work out? In case Mr. Barr is looking for some way to attribute motive to the actions that he’s investigating, he may need to seek no further. Also, consider that The New York Times and its editor-in-chief Dean Baquet, and publisher A.G. Sulzberger may be named as unindicted co-conspirators in the three-year campaign of sedition (freedom of the press, of course). Alert the shareholders.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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by Dan Bacher

MCKITTRICK, California — Do you still think of California as the nation’s “green” leader?

You might take another view of this image propagated by state officials and the media after you look at recent reports revealing that oil waste fluid is polluting so-called “protected” aquifers in California as the Gavin Newsom administration continues the expansion of oil and gas drilling in promoted under Governor Jerry Brown.

You also might take another look at California’s often touted “green” reputation when you discover that the only two bills opposed by the oil industry, the most powerful corporate lobby in California and the West, have been make it out of the legislature to the governor’s desk over the past three years.

A U.S. Geological Survey report published in September reveals that oil industry waste fluids containing benzene and other toxic chemicals have migrated into California’s groundwater through multiple pathways at sites in Kern County, west of Bakersfield.

The report, published in September’s Environmental Geosciences, “confirms findings in previous USGS studies showing how toxic waste fluid from California’s oil industry has contaminated multiple underground water sources in the Central Valley,” according to a statement from the Central California Environmental Justice Network and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The abstract for the report states, “Increased oil and gas production in many areas has led to concerns over the effects these activities may be having on nearby groundwater quality. In this study, we determine the lateral and vertical extent of groundwater with less than 10,000 mg/L total dissolved solids near the Lost Hills–Belridge oil fields in northwestern Kern County, California, and document evidence of impacts by produced water disposal within the Tulare aquifer and overlying alluvium, the primary protected aquifers in the area.”

The report was issued at a time when Legislators and the Governor are under fire from environmental justice, conservation and climate groups over increased oil and gas drilling under the Brown and now Newsom administrations.

According to the groups, “Results indicate that large numbers of water supply wells, including wells currently used for irrigation, contain chemicals that have migrated from oil and gas operations. Water samples from the Fruitvale and Lost Hills areas were found to contain hydrocarbons like benzene, ethylbenzene and xylenes. In two instances the levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, were higher than the safe limit for drinking water.”

“The Central Valley, particularly Kern County, ranks number one for numerous environmental injustices, including having the worst air quality in the nation. To add insult to injury, now we have confirmation of something we suspected all along: Wastewater from oil companies is contaminating our groundwater,” said Gustavo Aguirre Jr., Kern County coordinator for the Central California Environmental Justice Network.

“The number of spills that occurred recently are just the tip of the iceberg of a problem that we are not willing to tolerate anymore. Gov. Newsom must ban fracking and extreme methods of extraction now and set a timeline and plan to transition from fossil fuels,” stated Aguirre.

Aguirre said the studies stem from a process that began in July 2015, when the California State Water Resources Control Board found that 107 oil and gas fields in the state are “high priority” for studying their adverse impacts on groundwater quality.

“These shocking findings confirm that the oil industry is contaminating California’s precious underground water,” said Hollin Kretzmann, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The dirty truth about the oil industry is out, and our state should be cracking down on these polluters. Instead of letting oil companies foul our water, Gov. Newsom should start a just transition to a safer and cleaner future.”

According to Kretzmann, over the past three years, the USGS has worked with the state board and regional water boards to test groundwater in and near the top-priority Fruitvale, Lost Hills, South Belridge and North Belridge oilfields in western Kern County.

“The most recent study identified two pathways for pollution migrating to groundwater. First, contaminants dumped by the oil industry into unlined wastewater pits have trickled down through the soil into groundwater below. Second, researchers found “direct evidence” of waste fluids injected deep underground migrating outward from oil-industry disposal wells into surrounding aquifers,” he said.

He said the findings “contradict repeated assurances” from state regulators and the oil industry that oil and gas fluids would remain in place and not migrate to nearby groundwater sources.

“In an earlier study, samples from multiple water wells were found to contain high levels of radium, a radioactive element found in oil industry wastewater. Eighteen percent of water wells sampled near the Fruitvale, Lost Hills and South Belridge oilfields contained unsafe levels of the chemical,” the groups revealed.

“California Leads” report exposes planned expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure

The USGS report follows Food and Water Watch’s new report, California Leads: How to Break Fossil Fuel Dependence in the Golden State, that details the web of fossil fuel infrastructure – including 298 gas-fired power plants and 100,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines – currently engulfing the state, and the proposed expansion of this network.

“Corporations are planning seven additional unneeded gas-fired plants for California,” Food and Water Watch reveals. “For years, California regulators have approved, and utilities have built, unnecessary and expensive gas power plants. Driven by deregulation, these facilities are useless given declining energy demands in California over the past decade.”

The report also notes that existing fossil fuel operations mean that California is second only to Texas as an emitter of climate polluting greenhouse gasses.

This takes place as the state has issued 2,383 new drilling permits since the beginning of the year. Under Governor Jerry Brown, oil and gas regulators approved over 21,000 new oil and gas drilling permits, including an estimated 226 new offshore oil and gas wells.

Driven by energy deregulation, California has overbuilt gas power plants, even though energy use has declined over the last decade and the price of renewable energy is rapidly dropping,” the report reveals. “Most of this toxic infrastructure is located in the most vulnerable neighborhoods—in low-income communities of color near homes, schools and parks.”

The report also shows that California also “routinely allows oil companies to inject toxic wastewater into the ground,” in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Between 2017 and 2019 regulators granted as many as 39 aquifer exemptions allowing such injections. Some counties even allow oil companies to sell wastewater to farmers to irrigate crops.

The group states, “While most oil production occurs in the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Basins, the industry also drills throughout California’s central coast, from Ventura to Monterey County. In recent years, California has been dominated by dangerous new oil extraction technologies, including hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), matrix acidizing and steam injection.

Today, there are over 80,000 active oil and gas wells in the state. California is the seventh-largest producer of crude oil, and as of 2018 it had the third most oil-refining capacity of any state, the report finds.

“More troublingly, oil and gas operations harm the most vulnerable Californians, especially lower-income people and people of color. In 2014, nearly 14 percent of Californians, primarily people of color, lived within a mile of at least one well. And the closer people live to drilling, the higher is their potential exposure to hazardous pollutants that increase the risk of respiratory and neurological problems, birth defects and cancer In Los Angeles, the communities closest to oil development suffer from headaches, asthma and nosebleeds. Drilling in California happens close to homes, hospitals and schools,” the report reveals.

The report notes that while running for office, Governor Gavin Newsom “promised to move California away from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy.” Newsom also pledged to close down the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility—the site of the worst gas blowout in U.S. history—and to ‘‘oppose fracking and other unsafe oil operations.”

Since taking office, Gov. Newsom has yet to take action on those promises, but has in fact continued the expansion of oil and gas in California.

WHY Oil and Gas Drilling Has Expanded in California: Deep Regulatory Capture

Environmental NGOs and media outlets inexplicably still refuse to discuss one of the biggest West Coast environmental scandals of the past 20 years, in spite of its huge ramifications to this day: the capture of what passes for “marine protection” in California by the Western States Petroleum Association and other corporate interests.

In one of the largest and most overt conflicts of interest of the past 20 years, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Catherine Reheis-Boyd, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012.

Her organization was promoting the expansion of offshore fracking and drilling at the same time that she led the task force to create “marine protected areas” in the same region from 2009 to 2012. Reheis-Boyd also served on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

It is no surprise that these faux “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil and gas drilling, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering — and that over 200 new offshore oil and gas wells were approved by Brown administration oil and gas regulators after the so-called “marine protected areas” went into effect.

It is also no surprise that the Calfornia Governor controls 4 times as many offshore wells in state waters under existing leases as Trump controls in federal waters. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown called Trump’s plan to expand federal offshore oil drilling leases “short-sighted and reckless. However, a website –— shows Brown controls four times more oil wells in state waters than those Trump controls in federal waters, according to Consumer Watchdog.

Offshore wells in state waters controlled by the Brown Administration total 5460, versus 1429 offshore wells in federal waters controlled by the Trump administration. Federal waters are those three nautical miles or more off California’s coast.

The oil industry is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento and the Western States Petroleum Association, the trade association for the oil industry in California and other Western states, is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization.

From 2001 to 2017 Chevron and AERA contributed $129 million of the $170 million spent by oil and gas interests to fund California political campaigns, according to Consumer Watchdog and the Fractracker Alliance. The Western States Petroleum Association, the oil and gas trade association of which Chevron and AERA are members, was the top-spending lobbyist in Sacramento in 5 of the last 7 election cycles.

WSPA has spent a total $83,107,421 lobbying since 2005. Chevron spent $44,876,606 in that period; Aera spent $5,627,258.56.

WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 6 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: (5) working in collaboration with media; and (6) contributing to non profit organizations.

(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher

* * *

* * *


“Can Mendo Salvage its Failed Pot Permit Program?”

In a word No; The people who designed and/or wrote the “what for’s and the how to’s had no idea how the marijuana business worked. They lamely tried to equate it to grapes, apples, whatever. The dope business in this county has been around for decades, it’s entrenched in the social structure of Mendo. I seriously doubt if a single successful grower was ever contacted by the Adhoc idiots. Embarrassingly, nearly all the members of the BoS at the time of legalization had basically zero experience in working for a living, let alone business.

If any of this would have been thought out at all they would have sought out successful people who had a current working knowledge of how the dope business actually works, but no, the rules were left to the stuffed shirt bureaucrats who really believed they could coerce the outlaws into paying up and following the rules. How’s that working out for ya?

In the early days of legalization, I heard stories of growers being insulted, offended and treated shabbily by county officials who were taking their money for the permitting process. The smell of superiority by county employees and officials was palatable, in reality, it was more likely jealousy.

It is no wonder this system is a failure. The county employees are for the most part institutionalized robots. It doesn’t matter to the “at the counter guy” if it works or not, because, for them, it all pays the same, and after all… the rules say.

The system worked better before they legalized. Everybody got their piece of the action and moved on…

* * *

* * *


Jerry Philbrick walks into a bar packed with progressives and libs.

There’s a MAGA hat on his head as he orders a shot and a beer.

The patrons respond with rage, shouting clichés from NPR,

Along with theories from the sixties gathering dust in their minds,

Claiming America is a horrid place that only Marx can fix.

Philbrick orders a second shot and tells them they’re full of crap,

And that America’s the last best place on earth; try China if you’d like.

He follows with an imagined fight in Vegas:

Philbrick verses de Niro, and Gavin Newsom too,

Because they despise the President as all the rich and elitists do.

De Niro goes down with one punch; Gavin’s beaten to a pulp.

Believing it’s a threat—the customers flee for their lives,

As Jerry Philbrick roars with laughter: “Hey, you forgot your service dogs, and,

God Bless Donald Trump.

—Michael Koepf, Elk

* * *

* * *


[1] Being what would probably considered a semi urban-rural dweller I see it all around me. My apples might have a worm but it is chemical free. There is an old Polish lady up the road 90 years plus and built like a truck with a heavy accent. . She comes by and picks up all the drops and makes pies, perogies, and sauce. She went through WWII in the homeland. She knows about hardship. On the other hand I can’t even give the good fruit away because it has “spots”, no bugs just spots. I see the local supermarket throwing away lots of produce because of “spots”. People are gonna get a good “smack upside the head” when hard times come.

[2] Presidential now means something different. No longer will we be fooled by the slick shysters in suits or the Harvard grad hustlers. Or the hand shakers holding a hidden dagger. Or the smooth talking backslappers or those phony politicians who, “when they’re not out kissing babies, they’re stealing their lollipops.”

To hell with regal raiment, abhorrent, empty articulation, and pompous, pretentious prevarication.

Hail the Golden Gadfly of Gotham!! Hail the Mighty Trump!!

[3] One of our illustrious commenters, one that apparently supports the untenable status quo, one that seemingly respects authority such as it is, asks, “In as few words as possible, answer the question, why do I think I’m smarter than 95% of the world’s scientists?”

Speaking for myself, the answer is straight-forward; because I am.

That’s as few words as I can muster. Why this unseemly expression of self-confidence? Because I’m not subject to the scientific community’s particular brand of “group-think”, and I’m not in thrall to campus politics, and a big-money funder hasn’t got me by the balls. And because I’ve accomplished enough in life and in a demanding line of work. Pride goes before the fall? Maybe, but I’ve seen enough howling misjudgments by people that ought to have known better such that I’ve concluded that I can’t do worse.

Don’t underestimate the common sense of the common man. If people draw themselves to a great height and talk down to you, tell them to go fuck themselves. Facility in some brand of logic or knowledge doesn’t confer facility in all of them and it doesn’t preclude blindness to the blindingly obvious.

Take responsibility. Have confidence in yourself. Trust your own eye-balls. Especially trust your own common sense. If something looks crazy, it is. And don’t let some perfesser tell you otherwise.

* * *



  1. Randy Burke October 15, 2019

    FOUND OBJECT: “Next stop, Bowling for Dollars.”

  2. Lazarus October 15, 2019


    I should have listened to Barack…

    As always,

  3. Stephen Rosenthal October 15, 2019

    FOUND OBJECT: Will you swallow anything served up by this man?

    • H.H.Heller October 17, 2019

      Of interest…

      Largest PGE Shareholders are The Vanguard group, and many of its top execs attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, same as Donald Trump.

  4. Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

    Koepf would make a great stand-in for Philbrick. He does a great job of copying the latter’s “style”. Too bad he lacks originality.

    • Michael Koepf October 15, 2019

      Harv, I know your secret. You live in Wyoming, but shoot your mouth off in looney lib California. They it in Wyoming ,and we might never hear from you again.

      • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

        Kindly provide a translation for your babble.

        • Louis Bedrock October 15, 2019

          “They it in Wyoming and we might never hear from you again.”

          Harv, this sentence speaks for itself.

  5. Michael Koepf October 15, 2019


    • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

      Oh, I do,dear sweet boy, every day I do. Every day…

  6. chuck dunbar October 15, 2019

    The most sensible AVA comment I’ve seen in the last week:

    “…You don’t need the CIA or other state organizations to impeach Trump, he’s doing it himself.”
    Michael Turner

    We knew by his history and his character and being that Trump was unfit for office before he was elected president, and by now he’s given us more than abundant evidence of that fact. The newest evidence, the Ukrainian and Syrian fiascoes, are only the latest among many substantive issues that make him wholly unfit (and deserving of impeachment) to lead our country. I started to list the issues here, but no need, really. It’s all there, right in front of our eyes. That said, I hope the real end to him is through the 2020 election, a cleaner, less fraught way to be rid of his incompetence, hatred and malfeasance.

    • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

      Sort of like Obama, huh Chuck? Or the Clintons? At least for anyone paying attention.

      With the trash running under the democratic party banner, Trump is likely to get a majority of the popular vote this time, as I’ve observed before. Even if Trump happens to lose, little will change in terms of policy under the phony democrats. And, with the phony, wealth-serving democrats once again showing their true, neoliberal colors, both houses of congress may go completely neoconservative, too. Why settle for republican lite when you can have the real thing? Reading your comment makes it easy to see why this country is in such a mess.

  7. George Hollister October 15, 2019


    Vote for me in 1988

  8. chuck dunbar October 15, 2019

    Bless you, Harvey, I kind of understand where you come from. But the real world of politics is one of compromise and slow progress, at its best. Try living in most other countries and compare, not much is perfect, wish and hope as we might. There is a huge difference between Trump and some of the folks running for the Democratic nomination. To call them all “trash” is a bridge too far. Trump is a nightmare, the Republicans joined arm in arm with him. A Democrat president to replace him,, hopefully with a Democratic congress, would be a far better world for us, in so many ways. That is a clear reality, but I can’t really hope to convince you. Be well, Harvey.

    • Harvey Reading October 15, 2019

      Sorry Chuck, after the performances of Pelosi, Reid, the rest of the neoliberal congressional democrats, Obama, and the Clintons, as well as Carter, I cannot buy what you’re selling. With democrats in power, the country will continue its downhill slide, just as it did under Bill Clinton and his successors. The only difference will be more smiling faces telling us the same old lies. Clinton, way back in the ancient days of the 90s, would have been happy to destroy Social Security, and he did give us NAFTA, which put Mexican farmers out of business and herded them north.

  9. chuck dunbar October 15, 2019

    Regarding “The Female,” the recent arrest of a mentally troubled woman by FBPD, after a relatively non-violent extended intervention with no shots fired or other potentially fatal actions. I recall, some years ago, a similar FBPD intervention, with no injuries incurred by victim or officers after an extended pursuit, that involved a non-compliant adult with a young child in the car. Both interventions were models of smart, restrained police work.

    We of course too often hear about police interventions where things go badly wrong and citizens and/or officers are killed by gunfire. That our local police often act in reasonable, restrained ways that keep all parties safe and mostly unharmed, is a truly commendable thing.

  10. Steve Heilig October 15, 2019


    Jerry Philbrick walks into a bar

    He’s wearing a MAGA hat and boy is he mad

    Goddam democrats and socialists made him get Medicare, Social Security, cleaner air and water, roads, public education, etc etc etc etc

    Immigrants picked his food and cleaned his house and hotel and etc etc etc etc

    Somebody’s gotta pay

    He wants to punch or shoot somebody, maybe everybody

    It’s hard not growing up past the elementary school playground mentality

    Lucky for him nobody other than a couple other rubes takes him halfway seriously or he might get hurt

    But God Bless Donald Trump who is gonna make it all better –

    Once he gets past his record debts and deficits and mass family corruption and record indictments and investigations and convictions and increased pollution and taking away women’s rights and endless international screwups and lowest approval records ever and countless insults to the intelligence and morality of any decent adult

    “We demand more tax cuts for billionaires!” Philbrick shouts incoherently but sincerely

    Somehow vaguely aware that’s Trump’s only real “accomplishment” so far

    He tries to order a shot and a beer but the bartender says Sorry, no dice,

    If we served you we might get others like you in here –

    People who are actually gullible enough to believe Trump and his cabal aren’t laughing at them, all the way to the tax-free offshore bank

    So take off that red dunce cap, put away that adolescent’s toy gun, shut up,

    And have this glass of warm milk,

    The paddy wagon is on its way.

  11. John Sakowicz October 15, 2019


    “And no! It’s not an Impossible Burger!”

  12. Bruce McEwen October 15, 2019


    You’ve only a wooden saber, Saco, but you parry the lunges with skill; and sometimes you even flourish it with trenchant style.

    Much impressed.

  13. michael turner October 15, 2019

    Concerning AirBnB rentals. We rent out our house part time via airbnb. We live in Ukiah which is probably very different from AV – less tourism, fewer long distance owners. But you overlook some of the ways communities benefit from airbnb. For example I was surprised to learn that most of our renters are out of area workers here on temp jobs: utility crews, medical locums, and legal professionals. For these people our place was much more affordable and comfortable than, say, a motel on State Street. Additionally we pay a fat 10% tax off the top to local government. As recent retirees we want to travel while we still can. We don’t want our home to sit empty and neither do our neighbors. Airbnb provided flexibility, a screening and feedback process, and other forms of help unavailable to us otherwise. The arguments against Airbnb center around greed, but that’s a broad brush. You would be surprised, shocked even, at how little we netted after renting our home for six months. But it was worth it to us to have our home lived in, appreciated and cared for. I would also point out how the anti Airbnb arguments dovetail with the always popular anti-tourism bias. But looking back at our rental history every tenant had some connection to the community, either the aforementioned temp employees, or Ukiah expats returning for family events. So community benefits abound, and should be weighed against the counter arguments, which seem to me largely of the scapegoat variety.

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