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MCT: Friday, May 22, 2020

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DRY WEATHER AND INCREASING INTERIOR TEMPERATURES are expected for the foreseeable future as high pressure continues to build over the region. By early next week, interior temperatures are forecast to climb into the low to upper 90s for portions of the area. Coastal locations will remain seasonably cool with onshore breezes, along with periodic low clouds and fog. (NWS)

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Post Date: 05/21/2020 9:24 AM

As the State of California moved into Stage 2 of business reopening effective May 15, 2020, the County of Mendocino, in collaboration with West Business Development Center, has developed a tool to assist businesses in achieving compliance with reopening protocols. 

The newly launched website contains the information and resources for businesses eligible to open in Stage 2 to develop their own Business Reopening Plan, which is a County of Mendocino requirement for reopening. Business owners will use the Safe Operations Business Protocol checklist to guide the development and implementation of their health and safety protocols and procedures for their workplace. They will also refer to the Business Reopening Plan worksheets that are specific to different business sectors, such as manufacturing, retail, childcare, construction, and more. Currently, only those businesses that can open in Stage 2 have Business Reopening Plan worksheets available. As more sectors are permitted to open, the site will be updated with additional industry-specific plans. 

Once business owners have created their Business Reopening Plan, they must self-certify compliance directly on the website. The County requires each business to submit their business license number, business information, and complete a compliance questionnaire. Upon completion, businesses will download a Safe Mendocino certificate for posting in the business workplace. Businesses are also required to post their health and safety protocols in their place of business. Supervisor Dan Gjerde emphasized the importance of building consumer confidence as the county reopens for business, “Participating in this self-certification process will also have the added benefit of making consumers feel confident that businesses are safe otherwise they won’t engage in commerce.” 

The website is a result of the ongoing work of the County’s Covid-19 Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Supervisors Gjerde and Williams and West Business Development Center CEO Mary Anne Petrillo, further cementing the continuation of a successful public sector/private business roundtables. In addition to reaching out to industry leaders, the Ad Hoc Committee sought input from the County’s Chambers of Commerce and city officials. The site is designed for both English and Spanish speakers.

Supervisor Ted Williams emphasized the importance of compliance and acknowledged the challenges, “The reopening situation is a moving target with new directives coming daily from the state. This site will streamline the process both for businesses and the county as we navigate how to reopen safely. We need to continue the work of the Public Health Officer as we gradually reopen the county.” 

The County also requests that business owners complete the business impact survey, which will provide information on the total dollar amount of economic impact of the pandemic crisis. The survey can be accessed at

The County of Mendocino encourages all small businesses in the County to visit their website at

For business-related support with loans, employee relations and digital commerce, contact West Business Development Center at

For more on COVID-19:

Call Center: (707) 234-6052 or email

The call center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Dr. Doohan is aiming to have the order be effective Saturday morning. The intent is to publish today, and we're working on finalizing the document.

Some have asked about the difficulty level of self certification.

??? ????????: Done - Rainbow Ag - Ukiah. Open, masked, sanitized, trained and distanced and now certified.

??? ????????: How much time did it take? Other businesses asking.

??? ????????: We have been operating and all of the operational safety requirements are already in place. The form took 5 minutes to complete (you need your business license #)......I did it on my smart phone. I could not print the "certificate" from there, but figured I could get that part done this morning on my laptop.

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(photo by Morgan Daniel)

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Fort Bragg, CA — In response to the recent closing of the Labor and Delivery service at Mendocino Coast District Hospital, Mendocino Coast Clinics has partnered with MCHC Health Centers to make it easier for coastal patients to deliver babies at the hospital in Ukiah.

Mendocino Coast Clinics Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “We have worked with MCHC for years — we know them and we trust them. They hold to the same high standards we do. If our patients choose to deliver in Ukiah, we’ll facilitate the transfer of care at 28 weeks, or about two-thirds of the way through the pregnancy. Then, once the baby is born, patients can return home for care here at MCC, where we can care for both mother and baby.”

In collaboration with their medical team, all pregnant patients receiving prenatal care at Mendocino Coast Clinics create a birthing plan once they reach 20 weeks’ gestation. Then, according to that plan, once the patient reaches 28 weeks, Mendocino Coast Clinics transfers the patient’s medical records to the MCHC provider who will assume care and oversee the baby’s delivery. For patients prefer who prefer to transfer care to any other provider, Mendocino Coast Clinics will send medical records to the patient’s provider of choice.

Patients who transfer to MCHC Health Centers at 28 weeks’ gestation must travel to Willits or Ukiah for most prenatal exams; however, some care can be provided via telephone during the COVID-19 crisis. The MCHC providers deliver the babies at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley. For MCC patients who need financial assistance to travel outside Fort Bragg for prenatal care, the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District has provided funding; closing the Labor and Delivery Department was a difficult decision and ensuring that pregnant patients have access to quality care is vital. Mendocino Coast Clinics administers the funding, which is intended to help patients who may struggle with transportation, temporary housing, or other costs for prenatal care or at the time of delivery in Ukiah.

Renteria said, “We began working on this transfer agreement with MCHC months ago to allow patients to maintain their care close to home for as long as possible, and to relieve any stress associated with trying to find a provider who would accept them as a new patient part way through their pregnancy.”

MCHC Health Centers CEO Scott McFarland echoed Renteria’s sentiments. “Our goal is to provide the best possible care to people in Mendocino County,” he said.

MCHC’s women’s health service is called Care for Her. Care for Her Medical Director Dr. Karen Crabtree said, “Our doctors and certified nurse-midwives are enthusiastic about helping coastal patients deliver babies in a way that is right for them. The Care for Her approach is based on listening closely and educating patients, so the birthing experience meets patients’ needs, hopes, and expectations.”

Mendocino Coast Clinics has provided prenatal care to women on the Mendocino Coast for 15 years and will continue to do so as long as they serve the coastal community.

(MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County.

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Mendocino County's attestation to safely open up more businesses and activities was approved by the State of California in less than 24 hours. Much appreciation to our Public Health Officer Dr. Doohan, CEO Carmel Angelo and the County team.

Next steps for business self certification:

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Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - April 2020

Well, we thought the rain was done, but it's rained for the past week. A lot for this time of year...2+" thus far. As a result the gardens, fields and trees are lush and more beautiful than we've ever seen them. Tropical forest almost. And the weeds! Wow. Hard to tell the crops from the weeds. The greens, the textures, the flowers, everything is over the top exuberant. The roses love the cool damp; the jasmine perfume is heavenly; the mock orange shrubs are huge scented cotton balls; the large lilac flowers of the Empress tree are scattered on the ground now, but the cactus just started - huge pink, magenta, orange and red blooms. 

A visitor thought they were fake. Didn't look closely to see the flowers full of drunk bees. The flower garden is all oranges and yellows with the CA poppy vying with the various calendula shades and the yellow bearded iris. All fruit trees are loaded with sets. We're thrilled. And exhausted from weeding and planting, most recently hundreds of tomatoes and beans and winter squash, to be followed by hundreds of cucumbers, eggplant, and summer squash. 

The six flightless Indian Runner ducklings we recently purchased are now a foot tall and free ranging in the enclosed marionberry garden. We installed a bathtub sized pond and have been spending way too much time watching them play in it! They're like periscopes on legs and very cute. 

We are so sickened by current events that we will avoid the subject entirely.

Take care of yourselves and hope to see you all again one day.

Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Krieg, Petite Teton Farm


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Planning Commission member Alison Pernell made the motion to deny a proposed cell phone tower in Willits on its “visual & aesthetic impacts” as well as possibility of impacting water lines. The item will be continued (on a unanimous commission vote) to the June 4th meeting so staff can put the reasons for denial in writing so the applicant can appeal to the Board of Supervisors. The proposed cell tower would have served approximately 450 customers in the Pine Mountain subdivision area. Area residents didn’t want the cell tower.

The planners received 133 letters on the project - only 15 in favor and most of those in favor were from out of the area. 

(via MendocinoSportsPlus)

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Any tips on who dumped this trailer on Little Lake Road?

We have it tagged and a hauler is scheduled to retrieve it. Due to the condition, it requires a low boy trailer and will need to be wrapped. Cost estimate is about $3k. Abandoned vehicles are competing for code enforcement time which would otherwise be allocated to COVID-19.

Related is an item I brought to upgrade dumping to be a misdemeanor offense:

Let's see what we can do to track similar waste around the county. Please post reports to:

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One of my seedling crosses bloomed yesterday in a pot on my deck. I like the color. The cross was Mandela X Haunted Heart. (Jan Wax)

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FOOD BANKS across the country are groaning under unprecedented demand during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa, the North Coast's hub for emergency food distribution, made an appeal last week for help in many forms. "With unemployment on the rise, hunger in our community is no longer the exception, it is common, and we've seen a surge in new participants needing food. To keep up with the demand, the Redwood Empire Food Bank continues to need the help of our community — now more than ever," wrote the Redwood Empire Food Bank's Rachelle Mesheau. The easiest way to donate or volunteer is to visit the Redwood Empire Food Bank's web site at The Fort Bragg Food Bank is also in need of volunteers and help. Their website is Their phone number is 964-9404. Amanda Friscia, Fort Bragg Food Bank's director, said demand has been steady, but deliveries are on schedule and the now-experienced COVID-19 crew of volunteers is holding up fine. Still, volunteers and community support are needed more than ever. The Fort Bragg Food Bank is open every day from 9-3, with special hours for seniors only from 9-12 and an extra hour for pjckup, curbside or in person, from 4-5 Wednesdays.

NEW CALIFORNIA, the movement to divide the state roughly along rural and coastal/urban lines, surfaced at a protest at the Tesla plant in Fremont in early May. Coleen Browder, the New California chair for Mendocino and Sonoma counties, attended. New California and Tesla chief Elon Musk are united in their disdain for California's lockdown rules and New California was present to support Musk's ultimatum to either let his plants run or see Tesla depart to Texas. Browder said the rally was lively, attended by a hundred people or so from a range of organizations. She said the mood was cheerfully optimistic about the prospects for fundamential change in the Golden State. Browder said New California also showed up on the Bay Area's news radar for the first time.

GINA BEAN is living with the tragedy of the fatal collision last summer that killed young Calum Hunnicutt at the intersection of Highway 1 and Little Lake Road in Mendocino last July. The fatal accident was one of the most jarring tragedies to hit the Mendocino coast in a long time, as both Hunnicutt and Bean are lifetime residents with large circles of family and friends. Bean, who caused a stir by evading arrest for almost two months following the crash, and is now awaiting her trial at home on the Mendocino Coast, reportedly picked up a pizza recently at Vinnie's Pizza at the Boatyard Shopping Center in Fort Bragg, only to be told by the young counterperson that her order would be the last pizza she would be getting there. Bean simply nodded and took her pizza, still leaving her customary $5 tip. When she arrived home, a friend of hers related (not at Bean's request), she found the word "murderer" scrawled across the inside of the lid of the pizza box. Anybody who knows the circumstances of that devastating accident (it's been covered in local news in some detail) would know that “murderer” is wildly unfair. In fact, Bean is charged with fleeing the scene and lives with a heavy load to bear without young members of the peanut gallery who may have their own regrets to live with some day chiming in.

LISA DAHL has been loving work at MacKerricher State Park recently. It's not that she dislikes campers, but having wide-open space to swing her pole mounted hedge trimmer has brought out the landscape gardener in her. Dahl, a fifth generation Mendocino Coast native who's known MacKerricher since toddlerhood, along with the other three people on the park's landscaping crew, have been clearing out berry patches and thickets of every kind during the COVID-19 lockdown, enlarging campsites that have mostly been taken over by brambles for years. Forested areas have also undergone an intensive spruce-up, so that the glades and groves of MacKerricher are now open and walkable — the way the woods were before their modern, thicket-like condition took hold. Dahl is proud of their work. She says animal life is noticeably increased, and feeding on a bigger variety of plants. Blackberry bushes don't really contribute much beyond a place to hide. Glorious wild irises are blooming like she hasn't seen before, she said. All they need are campers to admire them.

— Chris Calder

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(photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

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MENDOCINO COUNTY'S taxpayers cough up $20 million a year for privatized mental health owned by Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder. Measure B is a sales tax aimed at coughing up another $38 mil for a safe place to sequester the seriously mentally ill. Seriously means they need to be locked up for however long it may take to get them to where they aren’t a danger to themselves or others. A large percentage of the local disturbed are cyclical, more or less functional while they stick to their pharmaceutical regimens but, unsupervised, they, uh, lose track.

THE TWENTY annual tax millions are vaguely dispensed by the enterprising Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder, on top of whom there’s a county apparat of forty or so people who do Christ knows what all day, for several more annual millions. We’re at $20 mil plus $38 mil plus five or so mil for county-paid mental health people — well over $60 million.

FOR A POPULATION of only 90,000 people, added up, this is a helluva lot of money for exactly how many unhinged at any one time?

AS NEAR as we can tell, and even asking anybody in charge of the money is to risk death in a blizzard of bullshit, there are roughly 2000 people who require varying degrees of attention, and that figure includes maybe a thousand children lost in the psycho-factories known as the foster system. (Two thousand still seems way high even including foster children and the Albion-KZYX demographic. You can be sure, however, the helping apparat knows how much their cut is worth down to the penny.)

MEASURE B is aimed at $38 million MORE mental health on top of the Schraders’ twenty mil, and the county’s 40 helping pros. 

MEASURE B is clearly being sabbed by the She-Goddesses clustered around County CEO Carmel Angelo with, and this is probably even more unfair, but along with this prevailing county gyno-autocracy, there’s also a steady whiff of hostility aimed at the…. uh, ah… MEN, the vphallocracy, those age-old enemies of everything good and pure in the world! “See here, Mr. Man With A Gun, if you think you can do mental health without us, well….”

THEN-SHERIFF ALLMAN breathed Measure B into life on the obvious assumption that an in-county, secure mental health facility would, over the long haul, save a lot of money. And would also give the county’s police forces — who do all the county’s mental health heavy lifting — a place to put the most volatile 5150s. However, because Allman bypassed the existing mental health fiefdoms, Ms. Angelo managed to link Measure B to a brand new lock-up psych building on Orchard Avenue, Ukiah, which, she now says, can’t be done and staffed for a mere $38 million, the cost, I believe, of first-phase Hearst Castle. Sad to say, the old girl is probably right, especially the way she and the county’s helping pros do their thing.

WE THINK the solution to the Measure B dilemma (it’s become one) lies with a version of Supervisor Gjerde’s suggestion to buy a few existing buildings and retool them to purpose: Building One for the people temporarily wigged out on drugs or simply wigged out, short-term; Building Two for the self-destructive; Building Three for the insanely dangerous, the kinda guy likely to go off in Safeway with a machete; Building Four the habituals. There aren’t that many of them in total and, boiled down, we’re only talking about safe places for the deranged staffed by sympathetic people, a few of whom with fancy credentials.

MY FAVORITE writer, SF Chronicle's, Esther Mobley, seems to have stumbled on a byproduct of that essential Mendocino County landmark, Feliz Creek, named after Frank Feliz of the Rancho Feliz, an original Spanish land grant that went on for miles and miles around Hopland. The native people of the area used to flee up Feliz Creek from slavers both freelance and church-sponsored, the latter riding up from the mission at San Rafael to press-gang Indians into getting their souls saved while they worked the fields for the padres. Feliz Creek doesn't look like much where it flows under 101, and only flows in the rainy season, but a few hard miles west at its headwaters, Feliz Creek is both oasis and, in the awful past, before the curtain rang down on paradise, as beautiful a place as you'll see in Mendocino County and, in the peaceful eons prior to the padres and the first waves of white killers, a trail trod for centuries from Lake County to the Mendocino Coast, many of those ancient travelers carving an eternal presence into a huge stone latterly called a spirit rock. Fast forward to the Last of Days, or whatever it is that has recently kicked off, Ms. Mobley brings us the news that Minus Tide Rosé from Feliz Creek Vineyard of Mendocino County is juiced from 112-year-old Carignan vines, assuring us that "this lean, acid-driven rosé tastes like a just-ripe peach, with lots of red berry notes, and smells like lavender and wet stones. It achieves lots of flavor in a very delicate frame." The old ones knew the Feliz headwaters were sweet, but they could have had no idea they could ever smell like lavender and wet stones. 

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Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors discussed the scheduling of “Phase 3” of the county’s failed cannabis permit program. Supervisor John McCowen wanted to schedule it as early as possible, preferably June 2. But Supervisor John Haschak, who became the County’s one-person cannabis ad hoc committee by default when Supervisor McCowen resigned from it, wanted to take more time for preparation and public input and schedule the talk for sometime in July.

Supervisor Ted Williams tried to clarify the scheduling problem: "I think you [Haschak] are talking about continuing the ad hoc’s work, the recommendations that were given in February. I think what Supervisor McCowen is talking about is scrapping the entire [cannabis permit] ordinance including those [Haschak’s ad hoc committee recommended] changes and starting fresh with a more lightweight version that would cut down on staff time and would enable revenue recognition. If that's right, I don't want you to waste your time as the ad hoc bringing changes forward that are about to be deprecated [sic] by a new trajectory."

Haschak: "I think we need an open democratic process and the work of the cannabis ad hoc needs to be considered too."

Williams: “We have an ad hoc that is just Supervisor Haschak. We have Williams and Gjerde still on an [cannabis] economic development ad hoc although we could probably wind that down. We have Supervisor McCowen on a non-hoc [sic; i.e., his own separate one-person committee]. Supervisor Brown is the only one here with the wisdom to stay out of the cannabis ad hocs. It seems like we have multiple people running in different directions with incompatible changes."

Supervisor McCowen: “Supervisor Williams has correctly characterized things. I do propose repealing the current ordinance and letting the state issue permits for cannabis cultivation with the county focusing on the land use regulation and the zoning code. It would be streamlined. It would stop the endless churning that is continually going on. … The item that I have prepared is complete as submitted."

The board ultimately decided to consider McCowen’s streamlining proposals at their June 9 board meeting.

If McCowen’s description of his proposal is correct, we don’t know why he spent three years defending the “endless churning” that only got a small number of pot growers applying, but which cost the county way more money than it brought in. Perhaps when McCowen presents his proposal next month we’ll find out what took so long and what’s behind this long-overdue re-start of the cannabis permit program. The only remaining question is: Is it too late?

— Mark Scaramella

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Much has been written about how removing Scott Dam on the Eel River will provide miles of fish habitat. I have not read anything about what will happen when the mercury and cinnabar mines that are currently sealed under the lake are exposed.

Tons of silt behind that dam are contaminated with mercury. How will releasing/exposing that silt impact downstream fisheries, farming, groundwater supplies and the health of our communities?

This isn’t as simple as remove the dam and the fish shall return. There is an ecosystem that has been in place for almost 100 years. What is to happen with the bald eagles, ospreys, bears, otters, beavers and elk that rely on this lake to survive? And the fish that reside in the lake?

All of our Northern California rivers have seen a serious decline in salmon populations; removing this dam isn’t going change this. While I applaud you supporting conservation, please don’t rally behind this cause without investigating all impacts to our community and rivers.

David Chase

Santa Rosa

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 21, 2020

Chi, Kimpton, Lamoureux, Serr

ALFREDO CHI, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, mandatory supervision sentencing, probation revocation.

BENJAMIN KIMPTON, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

LEVI LAMOUREUX, Laytonville. Burglary, stolen property, vandalism, county parole violation.

STEPHEN SERR, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.

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We live in the most interesting of times. Within the next three or four months, life as we know it will change, and I would expect not for the better. The changes will be organic…systemic. The center may or may not hold. There may be elections, there may not. The upcoming summer may be sporty beyond our usual expectations. Civil authority, rule of law, Constitutional protection…all things we take for granted, will most likely change.

The social contract is about to be (I believe) broached. The infrastructure will be tested. Our worst fears of collapse will be proved or otherwise.

All in the next three months.

We will not suffer boredom.

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TIMES-STANDARD DISMANTLES PRINTING PRESS, Lays Off Production Staff and Sends Printing Duties to Chico

by Ryan Burns

In recent years, the Times-Standard‘s staff has been downsized again and again, mirroring a national trend that has decimated newsrooms in cities and communities across the country. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Humboldt County’s long-standing daily has slashed its staff once again. 

On page A4 of the paper’s April 24 edition, Publisher John Richmond explained that the Times-Standard would be moving its printing operations to Chico.

A week later, the Times-Standard‘s trusty Goss Urbanite printing press — a two-story jungle gym of pneumatic machinery that spent the past three decades rolling ink onto newsprint in the bowels of the paper’s Sixth Street offices — printed its final edition. The production staff, including six full-timers and six part-timers, was laid off.

“In fairness, they did offer us jobs in Chico,” Lee Lapham told the Outpost in a recent interview. Lapham worked for 17 years as a press operator at the Times-Standard, and he really enjoyed the job.

“Oh yeah, I love printing,” he said. “It’s a rush, printing newspapers. I guess I’ve got ink in my blood.”

The majority owner of the Times-Standard‘s parent company, MNG Enterprises, Inc., is Alden Global Capital, an investment firm widely reviled in journalism circles. Vanity Fair captured the general sentiment in a recent headline, dubbing Alden “The Hedge Fund Vampire That Bleeds Newspapers Dry.”

This corporate behemoth owns quite a few other North Coast publications that, until this month, were printed on the Times-Standard‘s press. These include the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Lake County Record-Bee, the Willits News, the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon. The Humboldt Beacon and Redwood Times, regional sister publications of the Times-Standard, both ceased print publication over the past decade.

“It’s such a precarious industry, the print media,” Lapham said. “We always felt something could happen at any time — like we were living on borrowed time.”

During his long tenure at the paper, which included a stint from 1997-2006 and another from 2012 until he was laid off this month, Lapham watched the print runs decline. When he started, the Times-Standard was publishing 20,000 papers daily and 25,000 on Sundays, he said. “When I came back in 2012 we were still at 12,000,” he said. 

That same year, the Times-Standard stopped printing Monday editions, and since then, circulation numbers have continued to fall. Lapham said print runs are now down to 5,300 copies Tuesday through Saturday and 6,000 on Sundays.

It’s tough times for the whole industry, but Lapham said he doesn’t feel wronged. He’s not a disgruntled ex-employee. “They gave us a severance package,” he said. “They were fair.” However, he did have to file for unemployment for the first time in his life, and he said he’s not sure what he’ll do next for work.

This week, components of the big printing press were pulled out of the building from an access panel that had been cut into an exterior wall. (Lapham said the section of concrete was cut out in 1990 to install the machine.) The big metal pieces — gears and wheels, posts and ladders painted safety orange — lay scattered across the parking lot. 

“It made me and another guy just sick,” Lapham said. “That was our baby for years. To see it dumped out there like that… .”

The Outpost sent a list of questions to Richmond, who initially just referred us to his “Publisher’s Note” from April 24. But later in the day he sent the following statement:

“Trends away from print and toward on-line readership required the loss of our local printing press and the wonderful people who ran our production operation for so many years.

The Times-Standard has been printing in Chico at one of our sister presses since May 2nd and continues to be delivered locally to homes, news racks and retail stores in Humboldt County just as before.

Some of those former employees were offered jobs in Chico and to date at least one has accepted a position there. Several others took me up on my offer to write personal letters of recommendation and I’m still working with contacts in the community to find work for the rest.

To that end, I would welcome any connections for warehouse workers, manufacturers or printing specialists. Even in the face of this sacrifice, we are grateful to be able to continue to produce our local news from journalists who live and work in Humboldt County. Even if the ink and paper comes from a couple of counties over, the news still comes from right here.”

Richmond did not address whether the printing press would be salvaged, but, well, let’s just say it doesn’t look likely.

[Disclosure: This reporter worked at the Times-Standard from 2007-2008, and John Richmond worked at the Outpost’s parent company, Lost Coast Communications, Inc, first as general manager and later as CEO, from 2015-2019.]


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“I don’t know much about science, but I know what I like.”

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CLASS WAR — Not the Media Hokey Pokey — Is What It’s All About

by Norman Solomon

Journalists aren’t supposed to “bury the lead.” But when death is the topic and corporate power is the culprit, the connection routinely goes unmentioned.

Class war—waged methodically from the top down—is so constant and pervasive that it might seem unremarkable. The 24/7 siege to make large companies more profitable and the wealthy more wealthy is going on all around us. In the process, it normalizes avoidable death as a cost of doing business.

Overall, news media are part of that normalization. While negative coverage of Donald Trump has been common due to his handling of the pandemic, media outrage has been muted in relation to the magnitude of the dying in our midst—at a time when most of the dying could have been prevented.

Deaths tend to become less “newsworthy” as the numbers mount and shock gives way to tacit media acceptance. A new lethal reality is built on dominant structures that keep serving the financial priorities of the powerful. Emphasis is often less about saving lives and more about saving the stock market. The storyline becomes more about “opening,” less about dying, even though opening is sure to cause more dying.

Patterns of economic injustice are so basic to U.S. society that they amount to deep cracks in its foundation. Under the weight of catastrophe, whether hurricane or recession or pandemic, the cracks split wider and wider as more human beings—disproportionately poor and people of color—fall into the abyss.

Corporate media narratives routinely bypass such core truths about cause and effect. Heartbreaking stories have scant context. Victims without victimizers.

Fueled by ultra-greed, Trump’s approach is a kind of scorched-earth nonstop campaign, an extreme version of the asymmetrical class warfare going on all the time.

“The world before COVID-19 was a deeply unequal place,” the progressive publisher OR Books noted in an email to supporters this week. “Now, in the pandemic, those inequalities are only more stark. Across America and around the globe are fabulous riches for a tiny few and deepening immiseration for everyone else.”

A swiftly infamous Instagram post by David Geffen (“net worth” $8.7 billion) in late March, showing his $590 million yacht at sunset as the pandemic took deadly hold in the United States (“isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus . . . I hope everybody is staying safe”), became a symbol transcending avowed politics. Geffen is no right-winger. He’s a liberal. In the 2018 election cycle he gave $1 million to Democratic congressional super PACs. He went on to become a donor to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

But the most pernicious and ultimately destructive actions of the super-wealthy are not so overtly gauche. The poisons are laced with soothing PR, while the rich movers and shakers play by the rules that capitalism has constructed for the voracious acquisition of wealth at the expense of everyone else. In that sense, the worst class-war crimes are the ones that adhere to the rules and don’t get singled out for condemnation.

Consider the pathology of Jeff Bezos, reputedly the world’s richest person, who commented that he couldn’t think of much else to spend his money on besides programs for space travel, while back on planet Earth the extent of misery due to poverty is staggering. Said Bezos: “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.”

For the likes of Bezos and other elite winners of riches, in the words of songwriter Tracy Chapman, a future awaits:

“I won’t die lonely

I’ll have it all prearranged

A grave that’s deep and wide enough

For me and all my mountains o’ things.”

A few months into 2020, capitalism is running amuck in tandem with the coronavirus, like some headless horseman galloping over dead bodies. Meanwhile, for U.S. news media, accustomed to covering faraway disasters, a reflex has set in close to home—turning the page on deaths, increasingly presenting them as numbers. An anesthetized pall of acceptance is descending on us.

“For the person who dies there is an end, but this is not so for the person who grieves,” psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz has pointed out. “The person who mourns goes on living and for as long as he [or she] lives there is always the possibility of feeling grief.” In his book “The Examined Life,” Grosz wrote: “My experience is that closure is an extraordinarily compelling fantasy of mourning. It is the fiction that we can love, lose, suffer and then do something to permanently end our sorrow.”

The corporate system is looking for its own forms of social “closure” in the midst of this pandemic’s colossal deadly upheaval. Already, we’re supposed to accept.

Maybe you don’t want to call it class war. But whatever you call it, the system always makes a killing.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national director of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

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  1. Eric Sunswheat May 22, 2020

    RE: Maybe you don’t want to call it class war. But whatever you call it, the system always makes a killing.

    ———-> April 20, 2020
    Human nature is such that simple solutions to complex issues, for example vitamin C for scurvy, and hand washing prior to baby delivery, are often not readily embraced; but surely the scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic demands all avenues are fully explored; more so when no other effective treatment strategies as yet exist.

    A safe simple step, the correction of a deficiency state, vitamin D this time, convincingly holds out a potential, significant, feasible ‘COVID-19 mitigation remedy.

    Since starting out as the publisher of a single medical journal in 1840, BMJ has developed a unique range of expertise to meet today’s global healthcare challenges

  2. Craig Stehr May 22, 2020

    ~Midnight on Oahu~
    Following two hours of lying in bed fingering my black onyx beads and dispassionately watching the mind, have gotten up to write down the bones. Prepare yourself, because this is really crazy. This afternoon I visited the Kahala Mall to see what was open, what with Hawaii gradually returning from the ghost island chain that it has become, due to a little molecule surrounded by a layer of fat. The line to get into Whole Foods was long, and whereas I only wanted a cup of coffee, the outside employee suggested that I go to the outside Starbucks and get one there. Whereas the inside Starbucks was closed, I walked over by the bus stop where the outside drive thru Starbucks is located. There were several customers who had already ordered, standing near the window, and no line. So, I walked up and said: “I’d like a medium coffee with sugar and cream stirred in.” The barrista replied: “You will have to order that on our app.” I responded: “I don’t have a mobile phone with me.” He replied: “Then you will have to order at the drive thru window.” I said: “Okay, I’ll walk around there.” He said: “You have to drive.” I said: “I am on foot…a pedestrian.” Several moments went by as the barrista and I just looked at one another. Finally I spoke: “Do you mean to tell me that functionally I cannot order a coffee, being here as I presently am?” He said: “Yes.” At that point, all of the customers who were waiting for coffee, pre-ordered on the Starbucks app, burst out laughing. I threw up my arms and declared: “This is insane!”
    Following a bus ride the heck outta there, and an afternoon at Waikiki Beach enjoying the sunset while eating Japanese food washed down with soy milk, I returned to my quiet room at the Plumeria Hostel Alternative. I never did get a cup of coffee, but that’s okay; I’m already awake. P.S. To all of my friends: STAY ENLIGHTENED! (You’re going to need it.) ?

    Craig Louis Stehr
    May 22, 2020

      • James Marmon May 22, 2020

        People should try to reduce their carbon footprint. On cold mornings people sit in line with their engines idling. I know this from experience.

        James Marmon

        • Harvey Reading May 22, 2020

          We’re carbon-based creatures. We’ll never change, for all the verbiage we throw around. We haven’t changed our basic, vile nature since we evolved. though our killing toys have gotten fancier.

          Even ol’ Elon will fail in his pseudo-high-minded exploits, funded in part by selling over-priced cars that run on electricity mainly generated by coal and natural gas (and the conversion is never 100 percent efficient). He apparently enjoyed threatening state guvamint to leave CA if the poor boy couldn’t open up his Fremont plant so that his workers have a better chance of catching the designer flu. A real forward-thinking hero, that one. He even is all for a continuation of dreadful colonization, this time of the planets, since there’s really nothing left to colonize here at home. Ghastly.

    • chuck dunbar May 22, 2020

      Great little story about trying to buy a cup of coffee in our modern, app-oriented world, Craig. This kind of stuff is not progress, by any measure. It’s Catch-22 kind of stuff. I’d not go back to Starbucks again, don’t give them your business, they don’t deserve it. Must be mom and pop little coffee places around there that actually believe in friendly, in-person service. Be well.

      • Craig Stehr May 22, 2020

        “Coffee Talk”, which is just up the hill from the Kahala Mall, is an excellent coffee and home made pastries shop. It is unfortunate that I didn’t deboard the bus at that stop, rather than going to the mall monster. ~Mahalo~

  3. James Marmon May 22, 2020


    “Good Lordt. If I hear one more Ill informed drama queen whine about cloth or surgical masks causing profound lack of oxygenation I’m going to pass out and it won’t be due to severe hypoxia or “Co2 poisoning” it’ll be because my eyeballs have rolled so far back into my head that I’ve completely lost consciousness.

    You do realize that surgeons and circulating nurses in the OR have worn surgical masks for entire shifts their whole careers, right? If there’s one group of people that you don’t want becoming hypoxic it’s the people holding power tools and scalpels over an anesthetized human with their insides hanging out. Surgical masks and their effects on oxygenation have been studied for decades. Except in rare instances of people with obstructive airway diseases, surgical masks (and by proxy, cloth masks) do not cause any problems whatsoever with adequate respiratory gas exchange.

    You want to know why? Because surgical masks and cloth masks aren’t really “filtering” anything, including oxygen or Co2. That’s right, they aren’t respirators, like the n95 mask (which is filtering). Surgical and cloth masks serve 1 purpose and 1 purpose only; to minimize droplets, which can carry bacteria and virus, from A-leaving the immediate nose/mouth area of the mask wearer and B-from landing on the nose/mouth area of the mask wearer. That’s it. That’s all they do. That’s why they’re recommended for the general public to help minimize the spread of infectious droplets.

    N95 masks are totally different. They are actually meant to filter, so they do restrict normal airflow. That is why they are not recommended for the public. If you are wearing an n95 mask around town and feeling short of breath, switch to a surgical or cloth mask. Simple as that.

    All of these hysterical “masks are tyranny” people running around saying that cloth/surgical masks cause hypoxia are suffering from self-induced-anxiety-related hyperventilation that is completely preventable if they’d just calm the F down and stop looking for some made up reason to feel oppressed by the man.
    You want other people’s infected droplets flying at your face, because you’ve been brain washed to believe the false narrative that you’re not breathing properly in a cloth mask, fine….don’t wear one. But if a business actually realizes that this action puts others at risk because now your “possibly infected” slobber is also spewing out into the faces of other people who are following reasonable guidelines to protect themselves and others by wearing a cloth mask, don’t stand on your wobbly soap box and whine about their decision to refuse service to your ignorant behind.

    Cloth and surgical masks don’t cause problems with breathing for anyone without an obstructive airway disease or with normal facial anatomy. Period. End of discussion. Stop the hysteria and you’ll breathe fine with one on.

    ETA: views are mine and are not expressed on behalf of any organization or employer.”

    -Beth Purkey

    James Marmon
    Cloth Mask Maker

    • Susie de Castro May 22, 2020

      Hong Kong has had only 4 deaths from Covid. Masks!

    • Joanie Stevens May 22, 2020

      I never thought I’d agree with you on anything James but jeez – 2 posts in 1 day! My pet peeve is people sitting in their cars on beautiful days with their windows up & engines running.

  4. Harvey Reading May 22, 2020


    Could be. Careful what you hope for.

    This country has been on the road to police-state fascism from its minority rule beginning. It seems likely that fascism will be fully, and formally, implemented soon, with the full support of the kaputalist medicos, who have always been an authoritarian bunch, especially when they’re wrong.

    We plebeians will lap it up with gusto, thanks to all the propaganda and brainwashing we have been fed over the years. Conservatives must be beside themselves with joy, as they prepare to rule a gutted planet, overpopulated with ignorant monkeys!

    Don’t worry, though. The dream-come-true of the fools won’t last for long. The support systems and resources needed to maintain their ignorant, authoritarian rule–and their extravagant, self-entitled, self-centered life style–are NOT unlimited. Soon, the planet will become peaceful, completely devoid of life. The rest of the universe will shrug and laugh, as it continues its accelerated expansion toward oblivion.

    • Brian Wood May 22, 2020

      “The rest of the universe will shrug and laugh”…

      Why this faith? I’m an athiest and don’t think the universe has regard one way or the other.

  5. Harvey Reading May 22, 2020

    OK, then the other intelligent beings who, in all likelihood inhabit it. And you’re peddling nonsense. There is no faith involved, not in the slightest. You betray your belief system to anyone with the ability to see it. Atheists are just as superstitious as the adherents of any other belief system. In fact, atheism IS a belief system, a belief in the nonexistence of a higher being. Your “reasoning” reminds me a lot of the hippies I would encounter in the east bay in the early 70s. Most of them returned to their upper middle class roots, on whom they depended for income that allowed them to be hippies, and became yuppies.

  6. Brian Wood May 22, 2020

    It’s your contention that other intelligent beings “in all likelihood” inhabit the universe that I’m saying is based on faith because there is no evidence whatever that that’s so. It may be so. It may not. It’s a great mystery, but it could be answered in our lifetime if the answer is yes. I’m interested in that. It’s even a big question as to whether there is ANY life out there, even simple things like slime mold or anything. Depending how one looks at the question it can seem likely, or not, but no one is educated enough to know without evidence.

    As far as Atheism being a belief system I can’t see anything wrong with that. It’s a belief in suspending belief for things that are currently unknown or unknowable. I’m not one that says unknown things aren’t true, only that they’re unknown. Maybe that makes me a “soft” atheist, or an agnostic, the terms don’t matter much. What matters is trying not to get fooled. As I think Feynman said the easiest person to fool is ones own self.

    What your last paragraph means I have no idea. You’re always trying to insult people with imagined shortcomings. That’s unproductive in my opinion. But for some reason I take pleasure in getting your goat, and that’s not productive either, so I’ll try to stop. I’m guessing you’ll call me stupid.

    • Harvey Reading May 22, 2020

      Sure there’s evidence. We exist, and there are other planets that we have observed capable of supporting similar life forms. And since the universe is rather large, it probable that far more such planets exist that we haven’t observed. No faith involved, unlike atheism. What’s so effen great about being “productive? Sounds like 70s hippie jabber to me. Maybe you could get a job with DNC.

      • Brian Wood May 22, 2020

        “Maybe you could get a job with DNC.”

        That hurts!

    • George Hollister May 22, 2020

      ‘As far as Atheism being a belief system I can’t see anything wrong with that. It’s a belief in suspending belief for things that are currently unknown or unknowable. I’m not one that says unknown things aren’t true, only that they’re unknown.”

      Atheism is nothing more than believing God does not exist. Of course that can not be proved, because God exists in the realm of the unknown. No one can prove God does exist, either, for the same reason. Everyone has a relationship with the unknown, and we all use belief and faith to relate with the unknown. There are no exceptions.

      This is where the problem occurs. People who claim to be Atheists, are not really, except in the very narrow interpretation of what that means.

      • Brian Wood May 22, 2020

        It means one doesn’t regard things theologically. It’s the absence of a theological belief system.

        • George Hollister May 23, 2020

          Is belief or faith in Harmony With Nature theological? To me it is. Is faith in a political ideology a theological belief system? I would say so as well. Just because there is no house of worship, no established ritual, or no thousand year old book to read from doesn’t mean faith and belief are absent. There are theological like aspects to all faiths particularly if they are adhered to by groups of people.

  7. chuck dunbar May 22, 2020

    Thanks much, Chris Calder, for your short, merciful note today regarding Gina Bean. We humans are often so quick to judge, so quick to want retribution (sometimes confused with justice) and so quick to finger someone wholly to blame for life’s tragedies. Most (but not all) tragedies, if the facts are closely examined, involve several to many persons who hold portions of responsibility for specific bad/tragic events.

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