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MCT: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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A PERIOD OF STEADY RAIN will taper off this morning. Showers will linger across the area through tonight. Additional periods of rain are expected Wednesday with showers lingering into Thursday. A dry day expected on Friday, followed by more rain over the weekend and early next week. (NWS)

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(photo by Chuck Wilcher)

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ANDERSON VALLEY’S NEW AMBULANCE HAS ARRIVED! Long-awaited by the volunteers who respond to anyone in need in our service area, the Anderson Valley Ambulance Service (AVAS) has devoted years to raising the funds to pay for it from the community and other sources. We thank you for your ongoing support. Because of our present Covid-19 reality, AVAS will not be able to host our annual BBQ fundraiser. This leaves us with direct donation as the only option to raise funds to keep the ambulance service running smoothly. We recognize that times are financially tough for a lot of our community, but we know that you understand how important the ambulance is to our community. Most of you have recently received the annual membership renewal forms for AVAS and/or the Reach helicopter service. When you renew, we ask you to include an additional amount as a contribution to AVAS this year, considering what you might have contributed by attending the annual BBQ, participating in the silent auction, or via direct donation. These funds will be vital to keep the ambulance sustainable and an integral part of the Valley’s social safety net for now and in the years to come. (Alan Green)

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JUST IN. Jan The Mail Lady's replacement quit suddenly last week, leaving the local post offices in a scramble to somehow get and send local mail to and from Cloverdale. Jan [Walker] made this difficult job look easy for nearly three decades, which included pick up and delivery of mail from Cloverdale to Point Arena and points in between six days a week. Her replacement didn't last a month. We'll track down the details for next week's paper.

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The large butt cut off a huge California redwood tree was displayed at the St. Louis, Missouri World’s Fair in 1903. Stevenson and Ward Logging Company in Westport paid $3,500 to ship it there but it was at first declared a fake. People didn’t believe a tree could grow that big. (courtesy Willits News, photo by James Vasser)

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Lake County Public Affairs Update—

The cognitive distance between knowledgeable professionals and ignorant/indignant citizens reacting to the COVID-19 public health crisis emergency management orders is painful to behold, here in Northern California and across the country. Locally, the psychic split is embodied by recent reactions to these events:

Lake County’s Board of Supervisors formed a “Blue Collar Committee” a few weeks ago to address the owner-operators whose “non-essential” services were shuttered by order of the Governor, implemented by the California Department of Public Health and local Public Health Officers.

One Supervisor, on May 5, 2020, urged the Board to come up with a plan (by Friday, May 8) to submit to the state, and a letter to the Governor insisting that Lake County be allowed to use “local control” over the next phase of pandemic emergency response actions (“Stage 2” in the state’s “Roadmap”), because the state’s “one size fits all” requirements — aimed at the areas of larger population densities and productive industries — don’t fit the needs of small, rural counties like Lake and Mendocino.

Public Health Director Denise Pomeroy, the Incident Commander for the county’s health crisis emergency response (and immediate superior to the county’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace), patiently explained the state’s new requirements for county certification of treatment and “surge” capacities, which neither county can provide.

Both counties’ Public Health Officers and Superintendants of Schools were guest speakers at Senator Mike McGuire’s excellent audio “town hall” meeting on May 8, along with UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and Medicine’s epidemiology expert, Dr. Timothy Brewer.

Common resource limitations including testing, tracing, and isolating capacities have been clearly identified by local professionals, and our Board of Supervisors will continue to discuss the options with our Public Health Officer tomorrow, May 12, at their weekly COVID-19 update.

Meanwhile, our local citizens are using emotional flamethrowers on Facebook and in Sheriff’s Office-sanctioned “peaceful demonstrations” (vehicular flag-waving and noise-making “parades” promoted on Facebook), and both of our counties’ Sheriffs have posted their “philosophies” on the subject on their own Facebook pages.

While both statements are similar, Mendocino’s Sheriff Kendall’s usage of terms related to citizens’ “rights” is less polarizing, in our opinion. Compare the first paragraph of Kendall’s message with the Lake County Sheriff’s “stricter” interpretation (but less effective, unless you only credence the voters whose praises are dominant in comments on that Facebook page), and Sheriff Martin’s, here:

Kendall: ”As Sheriff of Mendocino County, my first duty is the protection of the public. That includes the protection of basic civil rights. Included in the Declaration of Independence [edited] is the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Martin: ”The Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s role is to ensure people’s constitutional rights while providing for public safety. Almost always, this is a precarious balancing act, weighing various statutes, court decisions, authorities, and the overall benefit to society. As we’ve seen during this COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions to our fundamental freedoms that have previously before been unheard of on the scale that we now see, have become commonplace.”

[Kendall also responded graciously to a commenter on the post who pointed out that the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not found in the U.S. Constitution, but derives from our Declaration of Independence.]

We think that Martin’s tone and style reflects his age and relative inexperience, although both Sheriffs deploy references to “re-evaluating” their communities’ situations given the absence of large numbers of infected persons, and the emphasis on “education” as the favored tool for encouraging the population to comply with the entirely voluntary recommendations for “shelter-in-place,” “social distancing,” and “social gatherings.”

Kendall, however, calls attention to “problems that were not intended” (“people being restricted to the point they succumb to depression, violence, abuse within the home, and real fear about the inability to make a living”).

He also talks about “encouraging the Public Health Officer . . . to make the best decisions balancing the needs of public safety and the economy,” while Martin challenges the necessity for current restrictions and asserts that “many people will stop listening and simply violate the order[s]” — a position that the co-chair of the “Blue Collar Committee” has declared an imminent threat in past Supervisors’ hearings.

Noticeable as well is the difference between their posts numbers of viewings, comments, and shares. Kendall’s 1.7K viewers added 630 comments (including plenty of disagreements) and 814 shares. Martin’s 630 viewers added 219 comments (mostly homogenously in favor), with 231 shares.

We monitored local Facebook posts and comments in the days following Sheriff Martin’s declaration of law enforcement “discretion” to emphasize the “independence” of his authority, echoed in Sheriff Kendall’s dissertation.

Leading protestations describe our public health restrictions as a “lockdown” — although local law enforcement agencies have all made it clear that they have no requirement to arrest anyone for failure to comply with them, and are not applying them to otherwise law-abiding citizens. Members of the “oblivious” class of citizens whose self-centered attention demands the immediate gratification of their infantile desires — there is nothing “essential” about recreational lake use, although for some vessel owners the experience serves often as a form of personal stress relief — and join the nationwide temper tantrum demanding the return to “normal” forms of socializing, at their own peril.

There are some notable differences between Sheriff’s Office capacities in our two counties. The most recent review of Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responsibilities by your Grand Jury was published in the 2013-2014 report on the impacts of “Public Safety Realignment Act” on jail capacities. Last year’s Lake County Grand Jury report describes the dire state of our Sheriff’s Office funding and resulting inability to “protect the public,” a long-standing deficit due to many years of economic disasters for which our county agencies and administration have been ill-prepared and are still only minimally functional — partly due to the lack of funding for the Sheriff’s department.

Our Grand Jury’s 2018-2019 report refers to the California Constitutional asserts that “[t]he protection of the public safety is the first responsibility of local government and local officials have an obligation to give priority to the provision of adequate public services” in its review of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. We are entirely sympathetic with our county’s Sheriff’s department and its staff, and find the ineffective micromanaging of our resources by our Board of Supervisors to be a significant factor in failures to provide “adequate public services” due to the misguided belief that business, not public services, is their most important priority.

Following hair-brained schemes cooked up in Y2K, millions of dollars of public funding has been squandered on property investments that will never be recouped, endless “economic development strategies,” and wine industry boosting tourism promotion.

Having neglected the federal requirements defined also in that year, under the Robert T. Stafford Act amendment titled the “Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, our contingency reserves took a $12.5 million dollar hit in 2016 to cover the emergency response expenses of local agencies, because we had failed to establish a functional Office of Emergency Services with the ability to properly account for those expenses.

State funding for emergency Community Development Block Grants to assist local agencies will most likely not be available to us due to the fact that our General Plan’s “Housing Element” is still out of compliance with the California Department of Housing and Community Development requirements issued in 2016, following the same disaster that was unmanageable by the County’s Administration Office (where, at that time, the Office of Emergency Services resided).

We wish the Lake County Board of Supervisors would attend to our public health and safety priorities, and leave the restoration of businesses in the hands of the Chambers of Commerce and affiliated support organizations, working with the most sensible and sensitive leadership in our Public Health Department.

Until our county law enforcement agency is properly funded, our communities will continue to suffer the degradations of rampant crime and limited public protection. Why the most important industries for economic recovery (other than the extractive agriculture and natural resource entities) — builders, bankers, brokers, realtors, and utility service providers — go along with this is beyond our ken.

Betsy Cawn

The Essential Public Information Center

Upper Lake

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Everyone of you pro vaccination people who are fudging on stay at home, social distancing, face mask and/or travel orders are hypocrites – the rest of you dissenters are just plain selfish. With ever increasing knowledge of the insidious health hazards of covid-19 there is every indication that it is truly a serious public health issue. From the Washington Post: “…often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes.” “…clinicians around the world are seeing evidence that suggests the virus also may be causing heart inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, blood clots, intestinal damage and liver problems.”

Covid-19, itself, is novel but so is our contemporary social response to the pandemic. The powers that be relative to and responsible for public health are taking notes, not only for the current epidemic but for any future occurrence and you can be assured that any significant disregard on the part of us public has the possibility of triggering some form of marshal law in the future. To me that is scary as well.

We need to learn to share our wealth, hardships and concern for the common good without a gun in our backs - in other words, work together - which quite likely might be necessary for our own survival as a species that walks and plays on Earth. The problems within our current social order run very deep and much broader than just this stinking virus but it is giving us the opportunity to self-assess.

PS – And our President is a maniac.

David Severn


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Summer 1967 at Owls Nest Camp, clockwise from left side: Edwin W. Pauley, Preston Hotchkis, Ronald Reagan, Harvey Hancock (standing), Richard Nixon, Glenn T. Seaborg, Jack Sparks, Kevin Zinter, unidentified individual.

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THE CONGRESSIONAL STAFF nowadays after Gingrich downgraded the pay scale doesn't even remember what the Vietnam War was or what Watergate was or Nixon's Enemies List. I once asked, Why don't you demand that Congress enact statutes that determines what gets classified and not, so you don't have to encounter this spurious claims of the Executive Branch that we've called to declassify? And the staff said, “Oh, we don't have any power to decide what's classified or not.” That is ridiculous. In fact, there are House Resolutions that are currently in place that authorize both the House and Senate to declassify any document they want. It was done a couple of times during the Church Committee hearings in 1975-76. Most of the staff members in Congress wouldn't even know who Senator Frank Church was. And so they're clueless about how real power is allocated under the Constitution. They feel they're helpless and can't defend themselves, because they're completely ignorant! How you overcome that, I don't know. I've been up there so many times and said, “I'll do seminars for you. We can do staff sessions, whatever.” They just want to raise money and just be lazy. They are not serious people who devote serious time to understanding how the Constitution is supposed to work with checks and balances!

— Bruce Fein, Constitutional Scholar/Author of “Constitutional Peril: The Life & Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy”

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Franz Metzner's sculptural figures within the Monument to the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig:

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NICE BIT OF HYPOCRISY from County CEO Angelo and Supervisor McCowen. It was Angleo and her board who shut down the public health lab 10 years ago, and now it's coming around to bite them in the ass. Instead of acknowledging that the shutdown was a mistake, Angelo and McCowen, who was one of the supervisors voting to close it in 2009, are urging folks to protest to the state about a “testing desert” that in fact, the locals created. Kinda like Trump abolishing the pandemic office soon after becoming President. By the way, the 1.5 per 1,000 testing rate required by the state for rural counties like Mendocino is very low. In comparison, the national testing rate is about 24 per 1,000, according to stats.

FROM THE WILLITS NEWS, February of 2009:

Operations at the county’s Public Health Laboratory have been suspended by unanimous agreement of the board of supervisors. The laboratory is located in the basement at the rear of the county administrative complex at 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah.

While in the past the lab had employed up to six people, in recent years it has fallen on hard times, and an increasing amount of its work had been outsourced to contracting laboratories.

“Historically, the public health lab has had a difficult time with recruitment and retention of qualified lab personnel,” Health and Human Services Agency Director Carmel Angelo said in a written statement to the board. “This has negatively impacted the ability of the lab to expand and become self-sufficient and financially sustainable.

“Labs depend on the ability to do a quantity of lab tests to be efficient and profitable. Without the right number of qualified personnel and specifically a manager, it has been difficult for the lab to expand and become sustainable,” Angelo said.

Suspension of activities at the lab will save the county approximately $200,000 a year.

According to Angelo, suspension of operations at the lab will have “minimal impact to the general population. All services are still being offered. Most public health lab tests have been going to Sonoma County already and this will continue.”

Angelo said the lab currently employs one worker. “This employee will continue to work for the public health nursing division, where one of her primary responsibilities will be to work with the public, [service] providers and [service] contractors to ensure lab services are continued.”

At the board meeting on Tuesday, A representative from the Ukiah Valley Medical Center said that his hospital is pleased to continue to offer lab services to the county. Angelo added the Sonoma County Department of Public Health has offered to continue services to Mendocino County.

Longtime lab employee Maryl Morris told supervisors suspension of services at the lab was “somewhat after the fact, given that the lab has been effectively closed since last summer.

“The lab isn’t dead, but it’s on life support,” Morris said.

Angelo said she was not recommending the lab be closed at the present time. The state is reviewing current requirements for labs, and there is pending legislation that would lower requirements for lab managers.

“If that legislation passes, Mendocino County would be in a position to recruit and re-open the lab for services,” Angelo said.

A PARAGRAPH I thought I'd never see in Time magazine: "On the same day that Elon Musk, the famously eccentric CEO of the electric car company Tesla, saw his net worth hit $36.6 billion, Maricela Betancourt, one of the many people who work in his factories, was agonizing over her family's bills. Betancourt, 58, had been a janitor at Tesla's Fremont, Calif., factory until April 7, when the company told her and 129 fellow janitors to go home and not come back until social-distancing measures were lifted. She got her last paycheck on April 8 and has no idea when the next one's coming. She owes $1,325 for an emergency-room visit in March, and is struggling to pay for rent, internet and food. Her husband, a construction worker, also lost his job during the covid-19 economic collapse...."

CHATTING on Instagram live with soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Joe Biden made a spontaneously vague statement about how he’s been “speaking to a lot of Republicans,” including “former colleagues, who are calling and saying ‘Joe, if you win, we’re gonna help'.... Matter of fact, there’s some major Republicans who are already forming ‘Republicans for Biden, major officeholders." The remark seems to have surprised some Democrats, although Biden, on the issues, has always been a Republican. And please note how Biden's being hidden away on the pretext of the virus, but it's really to keep him away from the microphones. 

CARES 2 is the Democrat's proposed $1.2 trillion bailout package, which is already resisted by McConnell and Co as, of all things, "inflationary" and, Republicans claim, too soon after the pathetic Cares 1 whereby some of us got $1200 with which to stimulate the economy. The Democrat's legislation includes nearly $1 trillion to prop up state and local governments, additional money for COVID-19 testing, money to assist the struggling US Postal Service, cash for food stamps, and another round of direct payments to US.

3,5000 UBER EMPLOYEES have been laid off via a three-minute Zoom call. Ruffin Chaveleau, head of Uber's customer service and the company's designated hatchet person, broke the news. "We are eliminating 3,500 frontline customer support roles," Chaveleau said. "Your role is impacted and today will be your last working day with Uber." The cuts are among customer support and recruiting teams; driver numbers will be largely unaffected. 

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SAN FRANCISCO in the 50s

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An expert in disaster preparedness has accused President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of failing to grasp the fact that they are role models amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think they grasp the impact of what they do and what they say on the American public,” Redlener continued. “Even though his popularity is dropping and his ignorance is showing full-scale, he’s the president and he and the vice president are a role model and really, really terrible role models in this horrendous pandemic, unfortunately.”

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The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying

The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.

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NORTH BEACH After 1906 Earthquake & Fire

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by Marilyn Davin

It started with a niggling thought: Why was flour one of the first food items to disappear from our grocery stores? I doubted that our communities had morphed, overnight, from bread buyers into bread makers. Intrigued, I called around. A pleasant media rep at General Mills promised to locate someone in its vast bureaucracy to answer my questions. I never heard back. Ditto for Ardent Mills (“We are Nourishing What’s Next”), which is now part of mega-corp Con-Agra Foods, Inc. Nobody was talking, at least to this contributing freelance reporter for a small independent Mendocino County newspaper. Since that day flour is back, sorta, but I hear now that meat is becoming scarce and we’ve all seen the photos of dairy farmers flushing millions of gallons of milk down the drain because there’s no way to transport it to the stores that need it. 

Aside from the occasional crop failure, for decades we have had the luxury of assuming that when we go to the grocery store pretty much anything we desire will be waiting for us on well-stocked shelves. The unraveling of the country’s supply chain has not only been inconvenient; it’s provided a peek into its fragile interlocking parts and forced us to take a hard look at both the essential and secondary services that together make our lives as comfortable as they are. This new insecurity should also be forcing us to recognize and more tangibly appreciate the armies of low-wage, under-appreciated men and women who make it all work.

Take food. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the average total income for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest our food is between $15,000 and $17,499 per year, all at or below the 2020 federal poverty guidelines for families of two, three, or four persons. Farm workers doing the wet work of slaughtering and processing our meat, poultry, and fish make slightly more, earning an average annual wage of $23,800. When Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, agricultural workers were entirely omitted from minimum wage and overtime protections. 

Once our food makes it to grocery stores, low wages and inconsistent benefits (if they are offered) prevail for employees, who are also at high risk for coronavirus infection. Average starting wages nationally for cashiers, customer service reps, and clerks range from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour. Hourly wages are higher in pricey California; Safeway reports that it pays its California produce clerks $13.52 an hour, “21 percent above the national average.”

What about the many other non-survival services we used to take for granted, like hair stylists and manicurists? I’m embarrassed to admit in this time of great hardship for so many that I recently chatted with other women in my building about the unkempt states of our toenails, hair roots, high- and low-lights, and generally overgrown hair styles. reports that the median salary for California manicurists (who, like grocery clerks, are at high risk for infection), is $22,800, or $11.40 an hour. 

Of all the low-wage workers who serve us, the lowest-of-the-lowest paid are caregivers and nursing and assisted-living aides. Nationally caregivers are paid between $8.49 and $12.49 an hour. These hardworking mostly female caregivers are ubiquitous throughout Rossmoor. Those working in care facilities are at especially high risk for coronavirus infection. Care facilities may charge their residents upwards of $100,000 a year but their lowest-paid employees are among the poorest-paid of all service workers.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, or $15,080 for a fulltime worker. On January 1, California’s hourly minimum wage went up a dollar to $12.00 and $13.00 (for employers with fewer than 25 employees and those with more than 25, respectively). Note that some California stats cited in this column do not yet reflect the 2020 increase so are lower than the state’s current $12.00-an-hour minimum. 

Our society richly awards individuals and companies that make a lot of money; it’s the American way. Our taxation system disproportionately favors the rich to the point where many of the country’s wealthiest corporations pay no tax at all. It’s no accident that, as a group, tax attorneys earn more than any other group. So it naturally follows that those who toil in the human arena, who teach our kids, who tend to the poor and addicted, who care for our frail elderly, languish near the bottom of the country’s pay scale. Politicians of both parties love to fawn over their value and selfless sacrifice for the good of their fellows. But in a country where relative worth is so clearly tied to profit, those tributes ring cynically hollow. 

Real proposals to reverse that equation should be the litmus test for any politician claiming to represent our human interests in November. 

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OMG I go walking in my usual haunts and am now faced with bizarro mask-wearing virtue-signallers taking the first walk of their lives in their own ‘communities.’ One Karen exercising her two fat daughters made some pointed remarks about ‘social-distance’ as her girls stopped in their tracks due to seeing a couple of unmasked humans coming their way. I was of a mind to go back and settle her lunch, but it was upsetting to my companion who was already shook up by the Karen’s aggression, so I had to let it go. I’m glad of the rain and cooler temperatures, it keeps these people indoors.

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BODY BAGS IS US COVID-19 STRATEGY—we have been condemned to live in fear of “the other”


The only proven method demonstrated to stamp out, contain and suppress the Covid-19 pandemic is a national strategy of massive testing, contact tracing and isolating cases. The last few months have shown this strategy to work with and without lockdowns in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. If this rapidly mutating virus of unknown potentials and behaviors is not eliminated it may remain in the US for years or longer, and with it the fear of illness and death felt most acutely by those most vulnerable.

The US on the other hand, has a criminally negligent and deadly strategy of managing the spread of Covid -19 through the entire US population. The Federal Government has allowed the wave of sickness, and death to move like wildfire across America. There is no evidence that there is protective immunity or that the virus cannot re-infect or remain in the body for reemergence at a later time. For months the US rulers have refused to ramp up testing and the public health infrastructure needed to trace contacts and isolate the infected. Instead FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has spent over $5 million to buy over 100,000 body bags 

FEMA’s emergency response is to prepare for death, not to save lives. Dr. Fauci said, “how many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept…?” 

The message from the government is clear: get back to work; there are plenty of body bags for those who fall in the rush to “open up the economy.”

Workers are being driven back to work in unsafe plants, to be exploited by Corporate America while being threatened with losing their unemployment checks and stripped of their rights to sue for illness or death. 

Meanwhile $$ trillions are poured into Wall Street while pennies go into the pockets of workers. Profits before life is what the rulers of this economy are making very clear. 

As the death toll mounts toward 100,000, many are being considered “useless eaters” who can be sacrificed for business as usual. The elderly can look forward to spending their “Golden Years” living in deadly fear of “the other”—their children, their families, friends and co-workers. Until the virus is suppressed we are all condemned to live in fear of death.

Is it time yet to be thinking of a healthier social system that will meet the needs of the 99%?

Dr. Nayvin Gordon 


PS. Dr. Gordon writes about politics and health,and can be reached at

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St. George's Monastry in Wadi Qelt, the Judean Desert

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SCHOOLS NEED THE RIGHT FUNDING to Serve Students Now and in a Post-Covid World

by Michelle Hutchins, County Superintendent of Schools

The first week in May was Teacher Appreciation Week. Never have teachers deserved more appreciation than they do now. When the pandemic hit, teachers used their experience, creativity, dedication, and compassion to instantly develop distance learning programs that have kept thousands of students moving forward academically. 

As we contemplate returning to school in the fall, local school districts must create contingency plans for how to adhere to Public Health safety rules such as social distancing, while still providing fair and equitable instruction for all students. This is no small task. As you can imagine, school campuses were not created with social distancing in mind, and it becomes even more complex when we consider how to coordinate all school services, not just classroom instruction. Schools provide transportation, meals, counseling, special education services, and so much more. 

As daunting as this is, I am confident that the resourceful school administrators in Mendocino County will create plans that work for their districts. The issue that concerns me is how to fund these plans, given the projected shortfalls and the traditionally rigid funding mechanisms for education. 

Recession On The Way

On May 7, the California Department of Finance projected the state's coronavirus-induced recession would reduce school funding from Proposition 98 monies by as much as $18.3 billion over a three-year period. Before the coronavirus hit, schools were already underfunded. Now they’re being asked to do more with even less.

Thankfully, school funding is more flexible than it once was. In 2013-14, the state of California enacted a new school funding formula known as the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF. LCFF replaced an arcane, 40-year-old funding system riddled with state-controlled mandates and calculations that produced uneven and inequitable funding across the state. LCFF helped return educational decisions to the local community, provided equalized per-pupil funding, and offered additional resources. Districts must use this funding to provide targeted services that support English language learners, low-income students, and foster youth while aligning with eight state educational priorities. 

Without getting into too many details, this funding still comes with strings, but we have more control than we used to. Other funding, both state and federal, is even less flexible because it is only to be used to serve specific populations or narrowly defined initiatives.

Schools Shouldn’t Suffer

Right now, students would be better served if districts were paid based on student enrollment rather than attendance, and if they could re-route some of their restricted funding to support the programming and infrastructure required for distance learning. Today, school districts are required to maintain the staffing, educational materials, classroom space, and food for all students enrolled in their district, but they are only paid when those students show up. It doesn’t make any sense.

We are in unprecedented times and need to make sure all students receive the education they deserve. To make this happen, I encourage every single community member to visit This link will route you to a website that makes it easy to send a message to Governor Gavin Newsom and legislators about the 2020-21 school budget.

You’ll be asked to share your name, address, phone, email, and school district or county office of education that represents you. The pre-written message focuses on providing adequate school funding for the 2020-21 school year. You can add your own thoughts and share specifics about your experiences during this shelter in place if you feel moved to do so. 

Education Helps All Of Us

Our students deserve an education that prepares them for the future, that eventually allows them to support themselves financially and contribute to the betterment of society. Without flexible, enrollment-based funding, schools cannot adequately provide this education. Please join me in communicating this message.

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by William J. Hughes

I’m riding my bike from 22nd and K. Street where I live sort of uptown to 8th and J Street to the UPS store, post office and groceries. My first and foremost observation is this city's homeless disaster. It’s always awful here, but now the plague, the walking dead, humanity, civilization lost, almost empty Covid streets light up the homeless in 3-D. Some sympathy from me all around, certainly. But there's a near dead body splayed out on the post office floor and everywhere you seek to sit a darkness of life appears out of nowhere.

Now appearing as some modern day Les Miz are California, Oregon and Washington and their cities, and our Sacramento — all truly lost to us, our streets an indication.

My solution: call out the National Guard in each state or the military or hundreds and hundreds, thousands more police officers as Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg did to rescue Manhattan and make it livable again.

Anyone without proof of residence and proof of income must be evacuated, sympathetically and humanely removed to each state's industrial or better yet national sized loaves and fishes programs: Sacramento's homeless Peace Garden, given clean housing and care on World War II all-out level: Cut military spending in half, make NASA a private concern, “Mars money for Earth,” get all these mega-billionaires to pitch in $10 billion apiece to start up a new and most necessary government program.

And for anyone who calls me out on my proposal — if and when you have a homeless encampment on your front lawn, speak to me of the "first stone"! Have you seen Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento or any other urban area? Terror walks the streets. Lots of blame to go around — especially for the in-charge Democrats.

But I digress and confess to my total frustration and fear, each found in the sign of a pile of human feces just outside the FedEx shop.

All my friends’ restaurants and shops are closed, shuttered, as human rags of former humans are near dead in their empty doorways, the sumptuous gardens of the Tower Cafe on Broadway now no more, like an abandoned farm, almost tumbleweed.

My nearby coffee shop stays open and my weed shop too, so that's something. It's more than something, the weed, the great stabilizer, even during this. It seems like just yesterday I was smoking my first doobie in a public restaurant, the Cannabis Cafe in Los Angeles, on my yearly Oscar weekend. That was when — puff, this darkness right now. Right now I'm smoking a bowl in McKinley Park on Alhambra Boulevard on a glorious day, separate, but in a community of joggers, duck feeders, dog walkers (I've never seen so many dogs), the geese and ducks with brand-new offspring, totally indifferent to our suffering, the park somewhat of an escape from the homeless scourge.

Now there is a refreshing site, a friend on her yoga mat working out, former bartender at the Public House on 16th and L Street, now without work. I'm starting to think overreaction by the experts, because her job most likely isn't coming back.

So I sit in the park, just to get out of my apartment. I get two government checks a month, so all is good on that account, which doesn't mean I'm not looking for that culture check of $1200 from Uncle Sam.

What a friggin’ mess. And yes, a homeless person just dragged their load of trash up next to my bench. 

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(Mendocino & Lake Counties, California 5/11/2020) 

The deadline to be considered for performing in the MendoLake MusicFest is this Friday, May 15, 2020. The MendoLake MusicFest has a few more slots available. The festival is a celebration of the local performing artists that contribute to the rich cultural community in Lake & Mendocino Counties, CA. From school music programs to our touring professionals, live music is the glue that holds us together. MendoLake MusicFest is hosting a free, live-streamed concert, featuring and celebrating local musicians and performers on Sunday, May 24, 2020. We are asking for video submissions of some of your best work - recorded from a previous live performance or something recorded virtually - to share with the community. Our goal is to produce an hour to an hour and a half event, showcasing musicians from all age groups and genres of music. 

Please include the following when you email your submission:

● Performer/Group/Band Name

● Song Selection

● Video of a previously recorded performance or a virtually compiled performance created while maintaining social distancing practices. (Video should be in landscape mode)

● Name(s) of the Performer(s)

● A short biography on your band / what you want the audience to know (about the band or the song)

● Contact information.

Email your submission information to

If you or someone you know has a song to sing, share your melody with Mendocino County for this year’s Mendo Musicfest. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the event organizers at

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[1] “There’s going to be a lot of trouble.” 

No kidding, maybe sooner rather than later. Has anyone noticed that supermarket shelves are getting bare? I go to the supermarket every week and a half. On my last visit it had the same look as photos of bare store shelves in the collapsing Soviet Union. It’s scary. Friends who live elsewhere say the same is happening in their neck of the woods. Isn’t making sure the food system hangs together something the federal gov should be keenly interested in, or is the Golden Man going to say this is a problem for the states to handle, like he has with critical medical equipment? Imagine there was no food for all the hungry jobless people sitting in their cars lined up for a handout.

[2] It’s time to do a google search for recipes for rice & beans because you’re going to need it. I’m talking dry rice and dry beans here, not canned or in packages you drop in boiling water. As the shelves in stores slowly empty and the truckers go on strike, I’d stock up on those two items. Speaking of truckers, there was a demonstration in DC yesterday of hundreds lining the street demanding better wages. So I guess the fools at the top of the pyramid still think it’s a good idea to squash the ones on the bottom? Who do they think delivers their Chardonnay?

[3] The new health order by our absentee health officer now allows landscaping and gardening work, but only if it is not for purely aesthetic purposes. This seems completely arbitrary – who is going to decide whether your gardening activities are for aesthetic purposes? The sheriff? What does this have to do with public health and preventing the spread of Covid? It is these types of proclamations that piss people off and make you feel like your fundamental rights are being violated. If one is practicing safe physical distancing while gardening, who cares if the work is aesthetic or not? What a crock.

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The U.S Postal Service has been with us during our fires and now the coronavirus pandemic. It’s time to take action to maintain the Postal Service as an agency that serves 160 million businesses and households every day. 

The postmaster general has said without immediate congressional action, the Postal Service will run out of funds to fully operate by September. The president’s solution — raising package rates by a factor of four — isn’t reasonable. It would drive away business, and the increased costs would be passed on by businesses to customers. 

The Postal Service is the center of a $1.6 trillion mailing industry that employs 7 million private-sector workers. The Postal Service employs 640,000 workers, with more than 100,000 of them veterans many who are disabled. The demise and or privatization of the Postal Service would have a devastating effect on our economy. 

The loss of the Postal Service would have a huge impact on rural areas, seniors, veterans and businesses large and small. The Postal Service delivers 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments a year, nearly 4 million every day, and delivers ballots to and from voters in the vote-by-mail program. 

Please contact your congressional representatives and senators to demand they include funding for the U.S. Postal Service in the next stimulus legislation. 

Jeff Parr

Santa Rosa

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“Hey! The experts are saying it’s safe to go out again!”

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by James Kunstler

The restless public, cooped up and idled in springtime’s flowering, have watched Wall Street doing just fine while they see the approaching sunset of their own much more modest Paycheck Protection Program and coronavirus relief checks. Late last week, the Dow Jones shot up 455 points the same day that the government announced the worst unemployment numbers since the lows of the Great Depression. Are there two economies in this country? One for people who expect to work for pay, and another for bankers who play shady games with money and receive extravagant bailouts when their games don’t pan out?

Kind of looks like it, a little bit. That tangled pile of cognitive dissonance is liable to catch fire soon like an overactive compost heap as the promised opening-up of America commences and tens of millions of able adults discover that their old jobs, vocations (and paychecks!) will never re-open, not to mention health care plans and pensions. God help us if the stock markets are still chugging up when that recognition sweeps the land.

And why won’t the markets keep chugging if the Federal Reserve keeps stuffing bales of dollars into Wall Street’s boilers? Jay Powell and his crew of monomaniacs apparently believe that bolstering the indexes is the sole signifier of a healthy system, and they’ve turned early adapters to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the idea that government can print as much money as it feels like to keep the wheels of activity turning (or, at least, the appearance of activity). In just two months, they’ve churned out trillions, equal to the first two hundred-plus years of the USA’s national debt — and, of course, new money is new debt because under our currency regime money is loaned into existence.

Well, one reason the markets may not keep chugging is that money is disappearing into the ol’ black hole of extinction even faster than the Fed can enter keystrokes that magically represent new money. The reason: if, in fact, money is loaned into existence, it is defaulted out of existence when the loans are not paid back. After all, that’s what a loan is: money advanced on a promise to be paid back, generally at interest, interest representing the time-value of money, that is, the duration of the loan. Do you have any idea how many loans are not being paid back, and may now never be paid back?

Start with houses. 63 percent of homeowners pay a mortgage (a loan) every month. The national average outstanding mortgage debt is $148,000. Total mortgage debt is $10.3 trillion. Now cars: There are roughly 260 million passenger vehicles registered in America, with upward of 100 million of them bought on loans that are still active, amounting to $1.2 trillion, enough to buy 53 million Ford Fusions at $23,000 each. Now credit card debt: total for the US is $3.9 trillion with an average carried balance of $9,333. Meanwhile, 45 percent of adult Americans have no savings.

As Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill) once quipped during a senate budget battle, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” Consider that a trillion is a thousand billion (and a billion is a thousand million). In an ordinary reality, a reality-based reality, that is, with reality-based money, that would be a lot of money (and a lot of debt)! It’s hard to project an exact figure, but with over 20 percent of the US work-force idle, with no income, there’s liable to be a lot of debt that’s not being paid back, will never be paid back, and a lot of money headed into extinction. That will translate into a lot of people with no money. Until all that money they owed is finished not being paid back, and the new money that Fed is busy creating, with no relationship to the production of things of value, overcomes the old money that’s finished disappearing. Then Americans will have plenty of money. The catch is that the money will be worthless. Thus, the two ways of going broke: having no money; or having lots of money that’s too worthless to buy anything. So it goes.

Along with people’s hopes and dreams of a decent life. What you see, then, is a nation, and a system, that has come to be based on broken promises. That’s what the restless public will take away from this morass of statistics. The discord will rapidly leave the statistical frame and take hold in the emotional frame, and that frame will feature entirely negative emotion: rage, resentment, grievance, vengeance, feelings like that. The sum of all broken promises is a broken social contract. That’s the agreement that we will behave civilly in exchange for the liberty to go about our business — within clearly defined rules (laws) about what is legitimate business. A broken social contract is exactly what all these machinations are leading up to. Hence, the appearances of the state — the system and the people who run it — become more and more fantastically and transparently dishonest.

For instance, the fake candidacy of Joe Biden, a man too far gone in age and mind to be president, with a long slime-trail of family money-grubbing in and around his official offices, and now an old sexual molestation charge against him. Who do the Democrats think they’re kidding with this? The coronavirus gave them an excuse to stuff Joe in a closet for two months, but can they keep hiding him there after the grand opening-up?

Will Wall Street and its errand boys in the Federal Reserve keep working their shifty hoodoo, enriching shareholders, hedge funders, and corporate execs while everybody else hits the red-line of hunger and outrage? Will Mr. Trump do what he suggested way back on the campaign trail in 2016 and declare a national bankruptcy? There is, after all, a difference between bankruptcy and national insurrection. Bankruptcy, at least, holds the promise of a work-out. Financial work-outs are generally painful, but orderly. That could make all the difference.

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

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Radha Krishna Images

Am still at the Plumeria Hostel Alternative in Honolulu during the Hawaii state lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Am chanting the mahamantram in the room, taking long walks at Waikiki Beach, and enjoying the association of the Divine couple, Lord Sri Krishna and his eternal consort Srimati Radharani. HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE.

Craig Louis Stehr


Snail Mail: P.O. Box 235670, Honolulu, HI 96823-3511

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  1. John Sakowicz May 12, 2020

    Found Object Caption: Santa Was Scared Shitless

  2. Lazarus May 12, 2020

    Found Object

    I wonder what happened to their kid?

    Be well,

  3. chuck dunbar May 12, 2020

    Found Object: (Longest ever caption)

    The evil-eyed killers enter home–
    Dispense with parents and kid–
    Steal all the presents–
    Return for a selfie–

  4. George Hollister May 12, 2020

    At some point we need to start talking about coronavirus hair. The barber shops are closed. Cindy’s right hand shakes, and I have limited hair cutting capabilities. A home buzz cut looks like my best option, and an unprofessional one at best. I don’t have much to start with. There is a vast vacancy between my forehead and halfway up the back of my head. Another option is either a ponytail, or a braid for the unruly fringe. I have zero experience with either these options. What to do? I do just enough work outside to get sweaty and dirty, so daily maintenance is an issue. Ticks, too. I noticed Bill Gates has been letting it go. Same for his wife.

    • chuck dunbar May 12, 2020

      Yes, George, we’re all in the same boat at this point. I offered to cut my wife’s hair, pretty straight-forward job as her hair is straight and fairly short, though getting longer than usual. Response was quick and sharp: “No way, boy!”

    • chuck dunbar May 12, 2020

      One other comment on this issue. I feel badly for the barbers and hair stylists who are out of work and have to pay rent, etc. I recently sent my hair person a check for the price of 3 cuts plus tip–for cuts in the future when things open up. It felt like the right thing to do, and I felt good about doing it.

    • Harvey Reading May 12, 2020

      Buy a set of clippers with the comb attachments. Then, experiment with trimming the ends. It’s easy after the first few times. Haven’t been to a barber since the early 90s, after buying a Flowbee. About 10 years ago, its blades got too dull to cut properly, and I was too cheap to order a new one (yes, they were still available then). I had a Wahl clipper set from the 80s that had sat in a drawer unused and decided to take a chance. I love those clippers now, and I still have hair everywhere it always has been, though it’s a little thinner and a fair amount grayer now. Never had a problem with ticks, except for pulling them off dogs while growing up in Jumping Frog Jubilee land.

  5. michael turner May 12, 2020

    The County Health Dept website has a listing of 121 FAQs, for example everything you want to know about COVID and boat ramps. But nary a word about testing. Imagine that! The question on the mind of everyone considering getting back to normal, and…..nothing. Well of course this is because tests are a very scarce resource. And how are scarce resources managed in our health care ‘system’? By rationing. Not overt rationing, but by covert rationing, implicit rationing. What I call rationing by hassle. Make it hard to find out about testing and people will be less likely to pursue it. If it were open about the lack of testing and all that implies about our pathetic public health system, it would post something on the subject in the FAQs and answer with something like “Hell no, there is no testing, and we don’t know when there will be. Piss off.” Michael Turner MD

    • George Hollister May 12, 2020

      There has been a problem with testing from the beginning. No one has been willing to spell out exactly where the problem is. Remember when the administration said they were going to make “test kids” available for everyone, and they were corrected by the experts that it wasn’t “test kits”. but “tests”. This talking in circles went on for several weeks. Then later I was reading that Mendocino was performing tests, but not getting results because there were like only two labs in California, and these labs were swamped. Now there are labs up and running, but they are short some reagent, likely made in China. My impression is there is a lack of candor from people who know about what is going on. They might be trying to avoid offending anyone, I don’t know.

      There was also, “do these important things, but definitely don’t wear a mask.” Now it is, everyone has to wear a mask. I guess James Marmon needs to go to Washington. This is chaos, and Congress is failing to focus on the issue as well. “Let’s just throw more money around, and more, and more, and more.” Oh, yea, let’s make sure the other party looks bad and gets blamed.

      That said, is it realistic to expect better? I don’t think so. This is a new, big crisis, that we are understandably unprepared for. Government is never prepared for catastrophes that exist purely/mostly in the imagination. South Korea was somewhat prepared because of their SAARS experience. The US is not. Neither is anyone in Europe, except, maybe Germany. In hindsight, the US did the right thing cutting off travel from China, but we should have cut off travel from Europe at the same time as well. Hopefully we will learn something, and eventually get it right. Meanwhile take our former Sheriff’s advice, don’t depend on government solving this problem, put that responsibility on yourself. At this point we should all know the drill.

  6. michael turner May 12, 2020

    How is testing my responsibility? I can’t design my own COVID test. Who but government can solve the testing problem? If adequate testing is the key to restarting the economy we should be hearing every day about the status of testing. From our local health authorities. And if the Federal government has abdicated its responsibilities, if there is no availability of testing. We should be hearing about this also, from our local health authority. It’s a disgrace on the national level, but we can’t do anything about that. But the lack of candor and helpfulness on the local level is a disgrace also. We need a lot more from them than being told to avoid aesthetic gardening. Michael Turner MD

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