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MCT: Saturday, November 16, 2019

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ONCE LOW CLOUDS DIMINISH this morning, mild and dry conditions can be expected, and this will continue through most of Monday. Some light rain will be possible in Humboldt and Del Norte counties late Monday and early Tuesday, and will be followed by gusty north and northeast winds Tuesday through early Thursday. A period of elevated to critical fire weather conditions will be possible early Wednesday through early Thursday. (National Weather Service)


More drought coming? Most of California once again ‘abnormally dry,’ monitor shows

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Navarro Post Office (January 1988)

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by George Dorner

The raiding party, dressed in ninja black, gathered at two in the morning on November 18, 2005 outside a doublewide trailer on County Road 307 on the outskirts of Laytonville. The trick to raiding is knowing which rural residences are stash houses, and in this case, pretty much everyone in town knew about it. They knew what everyone in Mendocino County knows—that during harvest season, a rural residence might hold many pounds of sales-ready black market marijuana, worth thousands of dollars per pound, as well as large amounts of cash that banks wouldn't touch. Sharing that knowledge, the raiders ran over their plans and checked their weapons before making their move. In their excitement, they may have anticipated a million dollar haul.

Raids on rural Mendocino households have become pretty much scripted. The script reads, cannabis entrepreneur is busted during midnight's realm for growing copious quantities of illicit marijuana. Court proceedings follow. The only variation is in casting the entrepreneur--often a hippie.

In this case, the hippie was Leslie Charles Crane. Born in Norwich, Connecticut on February 4, 1966, Les was running his own tie-dye shop in Florida by his early thirties.

Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was the California medical legalization of marijuana, allowing patients to grow up to six plants for medical use. Then, Mendocino County's Measure G, passed in 2000, mandated non-prosecution for patches up to 25 plants; later, that would be bumped to 99. Thus it was that Mendoland had the laxest marijuana laws in the nation. Les Crane took note.

In late 2001 or early 2002, he sold his tie-dye business and moved west. And per script, he became one of the influx of outsiders to Mendoland dubbed the “green rush” by the locals. In a Horatio Algerish touch, Les arrived in Laytonville with a hundred dollars and a pet dog.

In any community as small as Laytonville, every new resident is scrutinized, every individual becomes known. In a town where half the populace lives off growing an illicit plant, distrustful low key secrecy is the norm, with many folks practicing military grade operational security. Les flouted that low key approach; he became a flamboyant cannabis crusader and grower with Rastafarian tendencies. Naturally, some laid-back locals resented the commotion Les made; then too, his East Coast mannerisms sometimes grated on their California sensibilities. His espousement of legalizing marijuana was bound to irritate local law enforcement, and draw their attention.

As Les recruited medical marijuana patients into a cooperative while raising his crop, he prospered. Accumulating their doctor's recommendations required by Proposition 215 greatly multiplied the number of plants he could grow legally under the rules. He did well enough that he could afford to open a dispensary called Mendo Remedies on April Fool’s Day, 2004. He also did well enough that he could start plowing money back into the community. For instance, seeing latchkey kids with nothing to do after school, he sponsored a clean and sober after-school club for them.

Les became aware he was the target of a planned robbery in May 2005, and asked the Sheriff's office for protection from bandits. Deputies showed up, took a report, and returned with a search warrant on the 16th to bust him for cultivating excessive amounts of cannabis. He then sued to regain his pot and confiscated money, on the grounds that many of the co-op's medical marijuana permits were in process, and thus his crop was actually legitimate.

While those suits were pending, on June 6, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that federal law enforcement could still prosecute pot growers despite state laws permitting medical marijuana. The ruling galvanized Mendo's cannabis community into some radical changes.

(Crane, left, with then church member Ed Forchion)

In response to the ruling, Les changed Mendo Remedies into a church named Mendo Spiritual Remedies. He had himself ordained in the Universal Life Church; some of his associates also became ordained in the Church. His medical marijuana clients became his congregation; their numbers grew to about 800. Though many nonaffiliated locals were suspicious of Reverend Crane's turn to piety, he preached a cannabis-centric doctrine for his church that included reference to scripture, and gave every evidence of sincerity.

At that time, Mendo Spiritual Remedies was not the county's only medical marijuana outlet; there was also a Ukiah dispensary that received notice they were subject to a federal bust. They closed shop. Some of their clients began the trek to Laytonville, to Mendo Spiritual Remedies, which hadn't received a raid notice.

The undaunted preacher promptly opened a church with adjacent “education center” in Ukiah. While it might have seemed prudent to tuck this away in some obscure cul-de-sac or business park, Les chose to site Hemp Plus just down Low Gap Road from the Sheriff's office, on State Street. Though he pledged to refrain from selling weed there, the impression given was an “in your face” challenge to law enforcement.

Then, not content with fending off his ongoing legal challenges, Reverend Crane went proactive and ran an ad in the July 13, 2005 Ukiah Daily Journal offering financial support for any locals fighting pot busts. Three days later, he was busted by the Highway Patrol for DUI.

On September 6, 2005, the Ukiah planning department sent a letter forbidding pot sales at his new location. The response was that his premises were clearly divided into church and shop, and that the planning department had no jurisdiction over a church. Membership in the Ukiah church was reportedly about 300.

A reporter on the controversy witnessed clients from as far away as Arkansas seeking cannabis remedies in the “educational center.”

Les's pot activism spread far beyond Mendocino County. He was party to a United Cannabis Ministries Amicus motion for legalization of marijuana presented to the Supreme Court on September 9, 2005. While attending a Bay Area rally for legalizing pot on October 25, he invited the United Cannabis Ministries Congress to come visit his Laytonville church/dispensary. At least 16 attendees took him up on his offer, and visited from the 26th through the 28th; some sources estimate as many as 30 visitors. Area 101, just north of Laytonville, served as the venue for the conference.

The local growers must have felt outraged by the intrusion. Nor would local law enforcement have taken kindly to the glare of national publicity. Especially when Les repeated his offer of financial backing for any attendees facing pot charges.

On November 2, 2005, Les was scheduled for a court appearance in Willits; on the 8th, he was arraigned on pot cultivation charges.

On the 16th, he laid out $7,000 for 350 Thanksgiving turkeys donated to the local food bank.

And then, in the gloomy feral hours of the 18th, the raiding party struck, out on County Road 307.

When the raiders smashed down Crane's trailer door on November 18, 2005, they charged in like a police SWAT team, with youthful screams of, “It's a raid.” Somehow they knew the trailer's layout. One raider charged into a bedroom where Sean “The Count” Dirlam awoke with a start, and began beating the startled 19 year old about the face and head. When Jennifer Drewry awoke in confusion and opened her bedroom door, she was clubbed on the face and arm with a baseball bat. Frozen with fear, she cradled her broken left arm and prayed for mercy. In response, a raider fired a shot at her, but missed.

The terrified victims were in the hands of a murderous home invasion gang of four to six masked thugs. While robbing the safe, they shot the unresisting 39-year old Les Crane at least five times, wounding him in the arm, head, and abdomen. They grabbed all the money in the safe, as well as the processed sales-ready marijuana. While they were doing this, “The Count” had managed to hide himself from them and secretively called 911 for help.

The raiders quickly fled with their loot. Response to the 911 call took only 15 minutes—pretty fast, considering the county's vast expanse and light policing. During the wait for help, Jennifer tried to comfort her dying fiancee. When she asked him who was responsible, he replied, “They came to see The Count today.” Then, as the authorities poured into the crime scene, the EMTs separated Jennifer from Les to begin treatment. Despite the medics' best efforts, Les Crane died of his wounds. His murder remains unresolved to this day.

And even before Les was removed to hospital, deputies began confiscating and removing unharvested marijuana from the premises.

This is not a case with no suspects; instead, it's a case of too many suspects. However, some things are known. The intruders knew the trailer's layout, and knew the cured cannabis and loose cash weren't kept in Les's business premises. Someone had tipped off the home invasion crew. That someone is the key to the case.

The difficulty is, there are so many possible someones.

There were 16 verified Congress of Ministry attendees, with an estimated total of 30. It's not clear how many of this group were invited out to his home. Nor is any internal dissension in the Congress known.

There are Les's associates; his operation was too large to run alone. They would know details of his growing. Was there a Judas among them?

Pretty much the entire population of Laytonville had to know Crane was in the marijuana trade; he made no secret of it. And when you're high profile, even with the best will and most charitable disposition, you can attract both known and unknown enemies sparked by envy and jealousy.

And there has even been suspicion of local law enforcers being fed up with Les's legal battles.

The burning question in this case then is, Who came to the farm to visit “The Count” on the day before the murder? And my intuition kicks in with, Given the timing of the raid, did at least some of the raiders sop up liquid courage nearby until 2 o'clock closing? Perhaps some regular in a local waterhole recalls something odd in the wayback…?

And of course, there is the old classic Cui bono… Who benefits from Les's death?

At any rate, the script didn't call for a murder mystery, but that's what Les Crane's murder has become.

Any information on this case may be shared with Sergeant Dustin Lorenzo of the Sheriff's Office, or with Cold Case Mendocino at 707-560-1543.

Primary sources are clips from Ukiah Daily Journal:

16 June 2005; 13 July 2005; 20 July 2005; 13 October 2005; 25 October 2005; 19 November 2005; 25 November 2005; 4 December 2005; 7 December 2005; 17 March 2006

Also, The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 20 November 2005.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's website:

Reverend Leslie Crane's thread;

And the author's hard copy files, augmented by personal experience.

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Hollyhock (photo by Annie Kalantarian)

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by Mark Scaramella

Last Tuesday, Supervisor Ted Williams proposed that the Supervisors: “Direct staff to formulate a cannabis cultivation amnesty program along a path of least resistance and realistically sufficient to transition all commercial cannabis cultivation from black market to legal market, requesting assistance from the State where necessary. Further, directing staff to return to the Board of Supervisors with the draft program, including necessary variances from the State to reach the collective goal of fully compliant cultivation.

In Williams’ agenda item he added: “Onerous regulation by the State has impeded the ability of our cannabis cultivators to come into compliance with the emerging legal market. This has left cultivators in fear, county services starved for revenue promised by legalization and the environment without protection. More than 90% of present cultivation might be outside the permit framework and without a clean slate amnesty approach, this trajectory will not change. State regulation was an abrupt change for our legacy cultivators. Systems do not respond well to abrupt changes. An amnesty program offering ample years to come into compliance will allow cultivators to remain in business while gradually transitioning. State assistance will be necessary to permit first and address compliance issues in reasonable time. It is requested that staff be directed to formulate a cannabis cultivation amnesty program including any necessary variances from the State, and return to the Board of Supervisors for final approval of the program.”

When the item came up on Tuesday, Williams introduced it by further adding, “This item is about being realistic and honest about where we are. A tremendous amount of effort went into crafting our cannabis ordinance. It would have been successful had the state put together a reasonable set of regulations on their side. Today 90-95% of cultivation is outside of the permitted system. That's part of the condition of satisfaction that is inherent in this ordinance — bringing the illicit market into compliance. There are a whole number of reasons. We want the revenue. Our population was promised revenue from cannabis and we're not getting it if it stays illicit. There are concerns about overregulation. If we allow one crop to be regulated this severely, that's setting a precedent for other agricultural crops. This is an opportunity to show the state that this isn't a good idea. It didn't work out. We only have 5% uptake. When assembly member Jim Wood was here earlier he commented that Trinity is also at about 5%. This proposal is intentionally broad. Rather than having a specific set of changes in mind, this is about asking staff to work on a joint resolution with CSAC (California Association of Counties), with RCRC (Rural Counties), forming a coalition with other cannabis producing counties to show the state that we have a problem. We have some creative ideas how to fix it, but those ideas in essence are about permitting the existing industry first. Then coming back for compliance later. Creating a bar that is so high with so many hoops to jump through, we can't possibly expect legacy cultivators to comply. When we discuss amnesty of the existing cultivators, environmental concerns always come up. But we have no environmental concern for the illicit market. 90-95% of cultivation sites in this county are not in the permit system and they have no oversight at all. The sheriff and maybe the National Guard might identify a small subset to bring forward to the District Attorney. What is that? 20 or 30 per year? That's insignificant, a rounding error error when we are looking at 9,000 potential cultivation sites. To protect the small farmer economy and follow through on generating revenue that our vulnerable population that depends on in this county, I'm suggesting we direct staff to begin building this coalition. If staff doesn't have the resources, I would volunteer to go to all the northern counties and try to work with supervisors there to formulate a specific set of changes that are necessary. I've talked to Planning and Building, the Sheriff, County Counsel, our CEO, and several state reps and the public, and everyone recognizes, including the board, that we have a problem no matter how well intentioned. No matter how much work we put into this ordinance, 5% uptake is not a success.”

Predictably, County Pot Permit Program Architect Supervisor John McCowen didn’t agree with Williams’ negative portrayal of his permit program — but tactically conceded that there were some “barriers.”

McCowen: “As usual, I disagree with almost everything Supervisor Williams said except I agree with the outcome and the direction we ought to be going in. It's actually counterproductive to try and put a number on what percentage are coming forward or not coming forward. We know there are many cultivators that have advocated for legalization, for regulation, would like to come forward and have not for a variety of reasons and some of those reasons frankly are because they've seen what it is is happening to their neighbors who have come forward who have struggled to comply despite all the best of intentions and even if they don't have significant capital improvement issues like the State water Board requiring $50,000 or $100,000 worth of modifications to their roads and culverts, etc., or none of their buildings are compliant — even without that, many people struggle simply because they are on steeper terrain and it seems clear that there is a bias on the state agencies — they would rather see 35 acres on a single parcel in Santa Barbara under one ownership than 200 applications scattered around the watersheds. It's a lot easier for them and they think it's more protective of the environment. But it's not, as Supervisor Williams points out — if you're not coming into the program, no one is protecting the environment. My thought when I saw this is we should go back to the regional County approach to pull those counties together, see what we can identify in terms of perceived state barriers to compliance and where can those barriers be removed because many of them, it's more along the lines of a punitive rather than protective of the environment, or that's the way I see it playing out. So I think we should be doing that [the multi-county approach]. I also think we should direct our cannabis cultivation ad hoc [committee] to return to the board within a relatively short time frame on further streamlining measures that could be incorporated into our own ordinance.”

So McCowen agreed that his permit program could use some “streamlining,” but no amnesty, no sirree.

After almost an hour of minor wordsmithing, McCowen came up with his own non-amnesty “four pronged” proposal: “Direct the executive office to convene a regional County forum to identify issues and address State barriers to successful permitting; direct the cultivation ad hoc to work with staff and stakeholders and report to the Board within 60 days with recommendations for streamlining the cultivation ordinance; direct staff to develop an equity program application that prioritizes capital assistance to growers to address building and compliance issues; and direct cultivation ad hoc to work with staff and stakeholders to develop criteria and timing for reopening the permitting process for legacy growers who did not come forward in Phase 1, except in Sunset zones.”

Supervisor Haschak added the utterly meaningless: “…and explore economic development through regional cooperative models.”

Of course, we’ve heard most of this before. Streamlining the permit program — like in the old days when Supervisors talked endlessly about “streamlining” the burdensome building permit process — is a fantasy that serves only the bureaucrats who benefit from the “unstreamlined” process.

Nevertheless, the pot people in the Supervisors chambers on Tuesday saw McCowen’s “four-pronged” non-amnesty as some kind of wonderful development, giddily chuckling and cheering at these latest vague developments in their costly and burdensome permit process that will obviously not result in any appreciable improvement. Williams and the pot people he was trying to help had been outmaneuvered again. The brief window of amnesty was quickly shut without a peep from the assembled permit-seeking pot growers in the Supervisors chambers, most of whom have witnessed a number of these empty promises before.

If anyone thinks that McCowen’s multi-county approach to lobby the state on top of more local “streamlining” proposals from the overrated cannabis cultivation “ad hoc” will produce any more participation from the county’s many small unpermitted “legacy” growers, they haven’t been paying attention to local history.

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To the Editor:

Our Ukiah Adventist hospital has very few pieces of art from our community of artists. When you visit the Howard Memorial hospital, you feel healing local art throughout the building, everywhere. It’s exciting! I have talked to the past CEO regarding bringing in more local art but nothing has changed. I have complained about the Pavilion’s art to another hospital official but nothing happens. These pieces of art need to go. Our county has more artists per capita than most other counties in this country. Where is our art?

Susan O. Gordon


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UKIAH, Thurs., Nov. 14. -- It took less than 45 minutes for a Mendocino County Superior Court jury to return from its deliberations Thursday morning and announce that it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.


Defendant Ruben Serafin Rosas, age 39 of Cloverdale, was convicted of operating a Harley Davidson motorcycle with an unlawful blood alcohol of .08 or greater, a misdemeanor.

During the noon hour on August 11th, a red motorcycle -- observed from above by a CHP airplane -- was weaving through southbound traffic on Highway 101 between Calpella and Ukiah. The motorcycle was traveling at 93 miles per hour.

A CHP vehicle waiting at Lake Mendocino Drive thereafter pulled that motorcycle over. When contacting the driver, the CHP officer observed that the motorcycle's operator was exhibiting signs of intoxication.

After the defendant failed field sobriety tests, a preliminary alcohol detection screen was conducted at the roadside, said test indicating the driver's blood alcohol was .10/.099. A later evidentiary alcohol test conducted at the CHP offices in Ukiah confirmed a blood alcohol of .09/.09.

The attorney who presented the People's evidence was Deputy DA Jessica Guest.

The investigating law enforcement agencies were the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice's forensic laboratory in Eureka.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke presided over the three-day trial.

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At Thursday’s Sonoma Clean Power board meeting, we supported several strategies to help customers better manage future PG&E power shut downs. Also, in a unanimous straw vote, we agreed Sonoma Clean Power needs to be at the table as the State decides what to do with a PG&E that appears unlikely to remain a private utility. We will support customer ownership in a way that protects rural, high-cost customers like those of us in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.

In response to PG&E's recent power shut downs, Sonoma Clean Power is pursuing several things, including 1) help for residents to install high-capacity batteries, and 2) help for large customers, neighborhoods or municipalities to keep their locally-sourced electricity by providing technical expertise to set up independent microgrids.

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SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: Our CEO has elected to transition the broadband effort to county staff, utilizing resources within the Executive Office and Planning and Building Services. Partners have worked hard to assist the county over the years, but without access to internal county resources, a difficult task has proved impossible. I fully support CEO Carmel Angelo on this transition plan. While it’s critical that we ensure broadband access throughout the county, it’s equally important that we track the return on investment and change course when necessary. Change is hard, but it’s essential to move beyond status quo.

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MILL AND MAIN! Karen Ottoboni: "Good food and support our local homeboy Jared Titus at the new restaurant Bistro, corner of Mill & Main in Ukiah, he's in the kitchen and upstairs tending bar at The Office."

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Dear Editor:

Thanks for the historical photo, in your Nov 7th issue, of John Ottoson and Hap Hitchcock hauling ties for John Philbrick from McElroy Gulch. The proper spelling for McElroy, is actually McIlree. The photo was taken in Comptche. My wife Cindy and myself are the current owners of most of McIlree Gulch including the tie camp where the pictured load of ties came from.

McIlree Gulch is named after Alexander McIlree who, for a time, was a logging foreman in the Mendocino Lumber Company woods. His name can be found in Francis Jackson’s book, Big River Was Dammed, pages 38, and 42. Alex McIlree can also be found in the Mendocino 1880 census.

When I was young, I knew John Ottoson and split firewood for him. I was also acquainted with John Philbrick. John Ottoson told my mother he hauled ties out of McIlree Gulch for John Philbrick using a tie wagon. The photo and caption confirm this. The ties were hauled from McIlree Gulch to an Albion Lumber Company rail landing near where Surprise Valley Ranch Road takes off from Comptche Ukiah Road today. It looks to me like the photo must have been taken on the county road next to what is now the Grimes Ranch. I could be wrong on this.

Thanks again.

George Hollister


PS/Attached: Way Back When

John Philbrick’s team hauling ties out of McElroy Gulch, circa 1916. The driver is Hap Hitchcock and seated next to him is John Ottoson. Notice bells on the lead horses to let others know they were coming. The photograph was used on a Velox Postcard. From “The Mendocino Coast – A Pictorial History,” published by the Mendocino Beacon newspaper.

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IN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S story this morning by the usually careful Mary Callahan on the tragic sinking of the Miss Hailee, a fishing boat out of Fort Bragg, we read this odd and oddly jarring paragraph: "When the vessel suddenly lay on its side, Vargas tried to right it while the observer and perhaps others tried to grab flotations and throw them in the water as the boat quickly sank, sending them all into the drink."

FIRST OFF, a fisherman dying at sea while three other persons fight for their lives is not a canoe spill at Lake Mendocino in mid-summer. A canoe spill might send people "into the drink." But people thrown into the ocean in rough seas, with one of them, Arnulfo “Amigo” Santiago, missing and presumed dead, "into the drink" is not the descriptive we want.

THE NEWS from the north — via Kym Kemp's invaluable Redheaded Blackbelt site — that Flow Kana is laying off people shouldn't surprise anyone, despite the huge investments in property and facilities the newbie marijuana merchants have made on the Northcoast. The business model is sharecropping. You grow the dope, you genius self-taught old hippies, now in your third generation of descendants, and we'll spiff it up with cool packaging and market it for you. Buy cheap, sell high, higher than street dope. And there's the rub. The old distribution systems don't need Flow Kana, and storefront marijuana is much more expensive than marijuana purchased without an expensive middleman like FK.

SIGNS of the time, right here in bucolic Mendocino County: a young guy just roused after spending the night in a sleeping bag outside the fence at Boonville's Little Red School House. I said good morning. He, a kid in his early twenties, said, "Spare a coupla bucks for coffee?" I said, "Sure, handing him exactly two. "Where are you from?" He said he was from Montana. "What brings you out here?" “Nothing, really. Just wanted to see the ocean and I got stuck hitchhiking right here last night.” On down the street there's a trashed couch. Been there for two weeks, and up on the Ukiah Road there's a stripped, vandalized car that's been there for a month. There's a whole theory about how places go all to hell that's pegged to how fast broken windows are repaired and trash picked up off public streets. Later in the day in Ukiah, the young guy filling in for the irrepressible Marie at Sunny's Donuts says, "We're outta apple fritters. A lady drove over from Fort Bragg and bought 'em all." She came from Fort Bragg to buy out your apple fritters? "That's what she said."

THE UKRAINE HEARINGS seemed interminable even before Friday morning's festivities kicked off. And no sooner had Marie Yovanovitch begun her testimony than El Boor-o tweeted that "Wherever she goes, bad things happen." Schiff, natch, his eyeballs fairly popping out of his head, pounced on Trump's tweet as more evidence that Trump's insults aimed at Yovanovitch were aimed at intimidating the entire State Department. Then, Yovanovitch, gracious throughout, was buried beneath a torrent of hackneyed praise from Democrats that clearly embarrassed her.

TRUMP is so inarticulate, it's often hard to figure out exactly what's he trying to communicate, but tweeting this morning's insult at Yovanovitch only made him look even more guilty of the basic accusation — that he tried to trade arms aid for "dirt" on Biden, and he saw her as in the way.

FUNNY THING about all this is that the Ukrainians were unaware of the threat and unaware that the aid, which resumed as soon as the news of the threat went public, had been briefly held up. It's obvious, isn't it, that all this show trial farce translates as the Democrat's realistic fear that they don't have a candidate who can beat Trump in 2020?

MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: In Mendo when someone is abruptly terminated from his or her job, the CEO’s standard response is either “It’s a personnel matter,” or, “It’s under investigation.” But when Trump does it the response is insulting public tweets. I kinda prefer the tweets myself because they at least indicate the twisted thinking behind the firing. But I understand the “It’s a personnel matter,” etc. because of the liability and the subsequent references that are usually retained for the offed person to find other employment. In government work — employee or contractor — you never know who will end up being in charge of who — you can later find yourself working for the person you offed a couple of years ago so it’s better to keep your gripes to yourself. It’s easier to just paper it over with “personnel matter.” PS. I think Schiff anticipated Trump’s blurt tendency and set the whole thing up as a trap which Trump blundered right into because Schiff lit up like a Christmas tree when he got that Trump Tweet (Treet?) and lobbed it over to Ms. Yovanovitch for maximum sympathy effect.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 15, 2019

Alvarez, Caster, Chi, Clark

JOEL ALVAREZ, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license (for DUI).

EVAN CASTER, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, protective order violation, probation revocation.

ALFREDO CHI, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

KELLY CLARK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Cordova-Dalson, Decourcy, Fenton

CARRIE CORDOVA-DALSON, Covelo. Petty theft, loaded firearm/not registered owner.

ERIC DECOURCY, Clearlake/Fort Bragg. Honey oil extraction, probation revocation.


Harmon, Hoeflich, Mansfield

RUSSELL HARMON, Willits. Controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, disobeying court order.

SHALA HOEFLICH, Garberville/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

GEORGE MANSFIELD, Willits. Burglary, failure to appear.

McAlister, Mozski, Perez

VIOLET MCALISTER, Ukiah. Petty theft with priors, controlled substance, probation revocation.

ANIKO MOZSKI, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

RODOLFO PEREZ, Philo. Probation revocation.

Purdom, Reynolds, Jonathan Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez

BOBBY PURDOM, Willits. Elder abuse.

JUSTIN REYNOLDS, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia.

JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.

Shillings, Sutherland, Tillman

DAYNIECE SHILLINGS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JENNIFER SUTHERLAND, Willits. Probation revocation.

TASHINA TILLMAN, Willits. Concealed dirk-dagger, failure to appear.

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by James Kunstler

For now, it comes down to this: the US State Department is at war with the White House. State’s allies in the Democratic majority congress want to help overthrow the occupant of the White House because he’s interfering in the department’s foreign policy. The lifers at State are the same ones who executed a coup in 2014 against Ukraine’s government and threw out the elected president Victor Yanukovych because he tilted to join a Russian-backed regional customs union rather than NATO. State’s diplomatic lifers are old hands at coups. Now they’re at it at home, right here in the USA.

Ever since the Maidan Revolution of 2014, they have worked sedulously to exert control over Ukrainian affairs. And they especially can’t stand that the recently elected president Zelensky declared that he wants to improve his country’s relationship with next-door-neighbor (and ex-sovereign) Russia. The occupant of the White House, Mr. Trump, had often expressed a similar interest to improve the USA’s relations with Russia. State would prefer to amp up a new cold war. Mr. Trump has some nerve interfering with that!

The lifers at State also have something to hide: their exertions to connive with Ukraine government officials they controlled to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of their former boss, Mrs. Clinton. The current impeachment spectacle is an attempt to pitch a smokescreen over that embarrassing mess, which includes the CIA’s and FBI’s efforts to blame Russia for their own illegal interventions in the 2016 election — the heart of the three-year impeachment narrative. The Joe-and-Hunter Biden affair is the left anterior descending artery in that heart.

The current testimony in the House Intel Committee raises another question. Whose back-channel diplomats are legitimate in US foreign policy: Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, or State’s own boy, billionaire freelance international political adventurer George Soros? The president dispatched Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine because he didn’t trust the State lifers to get to the bottom of the mischief emanating from Kiev during the 2016 election, in which State lifers played an active role, along with Mr. Soros and his agents — in particular an outfit called the AntiCorruption Action Center, jointly funded by Mr. Soros and State (i.e. US taxpayers).

Mr. Soros’s AntiCorruption Action Center was one entity that then US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch submitted to Ukraine’s then General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko on a “do not investigate” list, according to reporter John Solomon (story here). Solomon writes:

“In other words, State was confirming its own embassy had engaged in pressure on Ukrainian prosecutors to drop certain law enforcement cases, just as Lutsenko and other Ukrainian officials had alleged…. More recently, George Kent, the embassy’s charge d’affaires in 2016 and now a deputy assistant secretary of state, confirmed in impeachment testimony that he personally signed the April 2016 letter demanding Ukraine drop the case against the Anti-Corruption Action Centre.”

Translation: an activist US embassy meddled in Ukraine’s internal political affairs. That’s a breach of international law. No doubt Marie Yovanovitch will be asked about these matters starting in about 15 minutes from as I write. Mr. Soros funded a network of nonprofits operating in Ukraine going back a decade, including the International Renaissance Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, Project Syndicate, and the CIA-connected Atlantic Council, which also received millions in support from Ukrainian gas pipe oligarch Victor Pinchuk. (Guess who else is a consort of the Atlantic Council — International Man of Mystery and 2016 election meddler Joseph Mifsud.) In 2015, Pinchuk paid $150,000 to Donald Trump’s foundation for Mr. Trump to speak by video-link to a Kiev conference for strengthening Ukraine’s ties to the West. At the same time, Pinchuk had contributed $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.

As you can see, the relationship between Ukraine and the USA since 2012 has developed more rabbit holes than Watership Down. Ukraine also happens to be an economic basket-case with a GDP equal to about half the GDP of Connecticut. Poor Ukraine, a semi-failed state of our own making, used by the State Department as a launching pad for intrigues against both Russia and the President of the United States. Maybe Mr. Trump sincerely wants to clean up that mess and shut down the State Department’s rogue outside operations channel as represented by George Soros. If only they can get rid of Mr. Trump, wouldn’t that make everything just peachy again? (Though probably not so much for Ukraine.)

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

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State to overhaul insurance plan after series of wildfires

As homeowners lose policies, Commissioner Lara orders new comprehensive options

by Adam Beam

Californians who lost their home insurance because of the threat of wildfires will be able to buy comprehensive policies next year through a state-mandated plan under an order issued Thursday by the state insurance commissioner.

As wildfires threaten the state, insurance companies have been dropping many homeowners who live in fire-prone areas.

Most of those people turn to the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan, an insurance pool mandated by state law that is required to issue policies to people who can’t buy them through no fault of their own.

But FAIR Plan policies are limited, offering coverage for fires, explosions and limited smoke damage.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Thursday ordered the plan to begin selling comprehensive policies by June 1 to cover lots of other problems, including theft, water damage, falling objects and liability.

Lara also ordered the plan to double homeowners’ coverage limits to $3 million by April 1.

“You have people that now are being sent to the FAIR Plan and they have no other alternative. They won’t even get a call back from an insurance company to offer them a quote,” Lara said.

The FAIR Plan has been around since 1968. It is not funded by tax dollars. Instead, all property and casualty insurance companies doing business in California must contribute to the plan.

Known as the “insurer of last resort,” the plan has been growing in recent years as wildfires have become bigger and more frequent because of climate change. FAIR Plan policies in fire-prone areas have grown an average of nearly 8% each year since 2016, according to the Department of Insurance.

Likewise, since 2015 insurance companies have declined to renew nearly 350,000 policies in areas at high risk for wildfires. That data comes from the state, and it does not include information on how many people were able to find coverage elsewhere or at what price.

The FAIR Plan is governed by a board of directors appointed by various government officials. Lara says he has the authority to reject its operating plan. On Thursday, he ordered it to submit a new plan within 30 days that includes an option for comprehensive policies and other changes.

California FAIR Plan Association President Anneliese Jivan did not respond to an email seeking comment. It’s unknown how much the plan’s new policies will cost. But rates for FAIR Plan policies are supposed to break even. The insurance industry must cover any losses. And if the plan generates a profit, that money is given back to insurance companies. FAIR Plan policies have been limited because, in general, the insurance industry doesn’t want state-mandated plans to compete with private insurance plans. But Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders — a nonprofit advocating for consumers in the insurance industry — says her group is “hearing from panicked consumers daily.” “If (insurance companies) don’t like it, the solution really is to start doing their job and selling insurance again,” she said. “This is an untenable situation.”


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PG&E billing info update—

Five Things to Know about #PGE Billing and a Public Safety Power Shutoff

Customers are not and will not be billed for usage when their power was off for public safety because no energy was being consumed. Customers can go to their online accounts and click on a specific day to see when power was being delivered and when power was out. Because SmartMeters are not able to communicate with the network when power is down, customers might see a shaded bar indicating estimated data, but the billing shows zero. For customers impacted by the Oct. 9 PSPS, the bill credit ($100 for residential customers, $250 for business customers) has started showing up in November bills. The credit will be listed as “Customer Satisfaction Adjustment” on bills. PG&E’s website offers substantial information about bills. Go to and click “Your Account.”

Email Currents at

Kathy Wylie, M.S. Ed.

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U.S. Postal Service Announces Healing PTSD Semipostal Fundraising Stamp

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I watched the hearings on Wednesday and had to wonder — is someone paying Adam Schiff to destroy the Democratic Party? Because if they are, he deserves a bonus. He doesn’t seem to realize without the completion of a “crime” there is no case and equally important, most people (including Democrats) couldn’t locate Ukraine on a map and don’t want to. They couldn’t care less what Trump said to their president whom they’ve never heard of and never want to again. But they do understand this very well — people in power use that power to advance themselves, get favors, build wealth, wield influence and destroy others. And this includes holier-than-thou Adam Schiff and should-have-retired-a-long-time-ago Joe Biden.

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Letter to the Editor (of the SF Chronicle)

Ranked-choice voting issue

Regarding “Election takeaway: a mayor without coattails” (John Diaz, Nov. 10): Once again, thanks to ranked-choice voting, the second most popular candidate has won an election. Chesa Boudin, who according to political analyst David Latterman had “zero chance” of beating Suzy Loftus in a runoff, is now our City District Attorney.

An amazing result considering Boudin secured a little more than a third of the first place votes. “It would be the highest-profile, clear example of (ranked-choice voting) not delivering the results the city intended to occur,” said Latterman.

Isn’t it time to eliminate ranked-choice voting so the most popular candidate can actually win the election?

Now we have a district attorney who has vowed to limit, if not eliminate, prosecution for the type of street crimes that San Franciscans are up in arms about. Another item on Boudin’s agenda is to do away with gang enhancements. No wonder the San Francisco Police Officers Association spent more than $600,000 in an effort to defeat Boudin. Thanks to ranked-choice voting, they failed.

Kenneth Jones

San Francisco

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Can we organize?

Yesterday, a fourth candidate announced for the Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor.

He is Glenn McGourty, retired UC Extension Farm Advisor, Mendocino County branch and no stranger to water-intensive wine grape farming.

In fact, McGourty lobbied for water-intensive wine grape farming in Sacramento.

Clearly McGourty was recruited.

Recruited by the Farm Bureau. Recruited by Mendocino County Inland Water & Power. Recruited by the wine industry. Recruited by powerful interests looking to protect cheap water and the status quo.

This new local development mirrors national politics in the Democratic Party's 2020 Presidential Candidates race.

Establishment Democrats, also known as "corporate" Democrats and "power elites", fight to retain control over our country at a time when our country cries out for "progressives" and new leadership.

The deciding factor in the 1st District race will come down cannabis farmers.

Can WE organize? Will WE vote? Will WE take their rightful seat at the Farm Bureau? Will WE fight for water rights? Will WE fight for farmer co-ops? Will WE fight for a collectively owned and operated supply chain? Will WE fight to have cannabis zoned as ag, and not as commercial? Will WE fight for a simplified and streamlined permit process? Will WE fight for a path to amnesty for legacy farmers? Will WE fight for the right of workers in the cannabis industry to join unions?

In short, will we fight for equity?

John Sakowicz, Candidate 1st District Supervisor and proud member of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance


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    • Lazarus November 16, 2019

      I ask that yesterday, Mark Scaramella posted, they’re married.
      As always,

  1. Lazarus November 16, 2019


    Is that Bon Jovi?

    As always,

  2. Eric Sunswheat November 16, 2019

    Russia for decades has claimed invention of a successful plague vaccine, but it has never been available to the rest of the world, and its efficacy is dubious, according to Paul Mead, the chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. Several antibiotics are very effective in lieu of a vaccine, taken to prevent infection—chiefly, doxycycline and fluoroquinolones. The drugs very successfully treat infection if they are administered within the first hours after infection. It is also easy to prevent person-to-person transmission of Y. pestis with hand-washing and use of basic face masks. But without these inexpensive measures in place—low-cost prophylactic antibiotics, hand hygiene, and masking—the bacteria can be very contagious with proximity to a coughing victim of pneumonic plague.

  3. Randy Burke November 16, 2019

    Found OBJECT: Now, that’s what I call the “Terminator”

  4. James Marmon November 16, 2019



    -Glenn McGourty, Viticulture & Plant Science Advisor, University of California

  5. Bruce McEwen November 16, 2019

    George Dorners cold case piece deserves an award. Thoroughly researched and artfully nuanced with a local’s perspective, the suspense-driven narrative is not only a pleasure to read, but also highly informative.

  6. John Sakowicz November 16, 2019


    Good question. Recently, I’ve heard friends wonder about this very question as Flow Kanna cuts its workforce by 20 per cent.

    Here are some theories floating around.

    Because Flow Kanna has failed to sign up enough white market farmers for its supply chain.

    Because Flow Kanna wants to help law enforcement bust black market cannabis farmers.

    Because Flow Kanna wants to use law enforcement to frighten black market farmers and drive them into Flow Kanna’s greedy embrace.


    “Mendocino County is now among a number of California counties that are using satellite technology to enforce cannabis code compliance including El Dorado County, which recently issued an RFP for the services. Humboldt County was the first to use satellite imagery as a means of identifying the estimated 15,000 illegal grow sites that existed in the county at the time of legalization.”


    “Humboldt currently uses the technology to monitor the county’s 4,000 square miles of rugged terrain for environmental issues and unpermitted cannabis cultivation. During the pilot year, county staff identified 600 illegal cultivation sites remotely and issued violation notices. Since then, the county has brought in millions of dollars in fines.”


    Satellite maps are not survey products, and are not officially adopted by either the Board of Supervisors or the Building and Planning Department. Likewise, satellite maps are not evidence; they only help direct operations by the Sheriff’s Office and DEA.

    The Emerald Counties using satellite technology say they make “a reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of the maps and data provided, however errors and omissions may still exist.”





    Using microsatellite data – which goes down to a less-than five-meter ground resolution — cops can cheaply gather visual data over huge stretches of land.

    That’s old news.

    Here’s the bad news.

    Satellites are not just about visual data.

    Satellites do a lot more than photograph topography, site conditions, and buildings and other structures.

    Satellites are approaching real-time. With new, regularly updated images, cops can track the changing state of the land — both permitted and un-permitted activity — every day throughout the year.

    But it’s not just photographs that these satellites can capture.

    Images captured in spectral bands invisible to the human eye can reveal extra details about vegetation types and other surface characteristics.

    Infrared technology captures heat signatures. Infrared can easily detect cannabis by measuring the heat and reflective indications of the vegetation mixed in with cannabis. Compared with other plants, cannabis has higher reflectivity at certain wavelengths.

    Cannabis’s reflective signature can be defeated — up to a point, but only up to a point — by planting cannabis next to cedar or pine trees. The heat from the trees overlaps the heat from the cannabis making it harder to be detected, but with AI (artificial intelligence) and analytics, coupled with satellite data, the cops are ahead of us.

    Likewise with placing pots in the ground or growing cannabis up a trellis. It’s a new era with AI and analytics.

    AI and analytics can even detect overall yield changes by calculating how much green plant chlorophyll was present in each of the images the satellites snapped over time.


    1. Simplify and streamline the permit process.
    2. Zone cannabis as ag, not as commercial.
    3. Create a path to amnesty for legacy growers.
    4. Create a non-profit, farmer co-op that collectively owns and operates a supply chain, including physical facilities for grading, processing and packaging which are supported by an e-trading platform, and systems for e-payments and e-tracking.
    5. Create “direct to consumer” marketing programs for the new cannabis farmer-owned supply chain, much like farm-to-table restaurant campaigns.
    6. Create equity and reparations programs for legacy farmers hurt by our nation’s insane, so-called “war on drugs”.
    7. Bring back the fatally flawed Prop 64 to California’s voters; we need a new law that’s fair to small, independent farmers.

    John Sakowicz, Candidate Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor

    • James Marmon November 16, 2019


      Sheriff Allman and DA Eyster will bring in millions of dollars after busting black market growers via the infamous “Mendocino Shakedown”, also know as the “buy a misdemeanor program”.


  7. Craig Stehr November 16, 2019

    The Cannabis Industry is total crap! Everybody whom I know associated with the dope-weed has either been ripped off by Mexican cartels operating in Northern California, gone broke, been assaulted, or else some accident has occured, (usually as a result of intoxication from a combination of opiodes, marijuana, and vodka plus beer). Even the Great Green District 2 Candidate in Garberville cannot get a gig in the Cannabis Industry to make any money. Nobody is interested in offering him a job! Meanwhile, the clusters of mostly women speaking foreign languages buy scissors at Ray’s Market, and then go down to Garberville’s main street with cardboard signs with only a pair of scissors on it, and wait for a pickup to go out to the pot farm. That’s your extremely depressing cannabis economy at work in Northern California. >>>Send me $150 and I’ll tell the Green Candidate that he doesn’t have to pay me back for paying his end of the month bills. The rest that I have contributed is gratis…am now done with my “climate activism”. Moving on to an autonomous spiritual life forevermore, and glad to be exiting the craziness.

  8. George Dorner November 18, 2019

    Just what does Mr. Stehr do besides mooch?

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