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MCT: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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DRY, SUNNY AND BREEZY conditions will prevail the next couple of days as Pacific high pressure builds offshore. Interior temperatures will heat up while the coast remains seasonably cool. Hot interior weather is expected through the weekend and early next week, while areas of stratus and fog return to the coast. (NWS)

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A TRAVELER WRITES: "I was driving back from Manchester towards Boonville on Mountain View Rd. on Tuesday, 16 June at around 7pm. All of a sudden I saw blinking red lights in a place where I didn't think any light should be. It was a semi with two big trailers behind it heading east on Mountain View. Close to Boonville, there's the narrow bridge there's no way he could get over that bridge. Thank God there was enough room to get around him. He was stuck. It would make a great story."

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Hello Friends of Gallery Bookshop (Mendocino),

Big news: we're (cautiously, carefully) welcoming readers back into the store, a few at a time. It's lovely to open the space back up to book lovers, and we'd like our newsletter subscribers to be among the first. We're taking reservations for 30-minute browsing sessions, and we'd love to see you! Reservations are available on the half-hour between 11:00 and 4:00 every day, with masks required. (We have some cute, comfortable ones for sale!) You can book an appointment for up to three people by calling us at 937-2665 or using our online appointment calendar. I hope to see you soon! 

Christie & all the booksellers

PS. We'll continue to offer curbside pickup, home delivery, and mail order too.

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(photo by Mike Kalantarian)

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THE PHILO DRIVE-IN. Some great films are showing this weekend (June 19-20) at the first Anderson Valley Grange Fundraiser DRIVE-IN Movie Theater! Park your classic car, Prius, or whatever ya’got down at the Grange this Friday and/or Saturday night for some socially distanced family fun! Lot opens at 8pm, show starts at 9pm. Friday night’s show “Young Frankenstein”, Saturday’s the family favorite “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!” Suggested donation is $10 per person. Snacks may be available for purchase. Sound delivered via vehicle radio antenna!

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JIM LUTHER OF MENDOCINO WRITES: Mickey Chapman gave me my key to the courthouse. Literally. It was in the early 1970s and I was a brand new attorney in private practice, often between cases. Mickey knew I needed to use the county law library a lot. The library was inside the courthouse which was locked on weekends. All criminal cases I had were on the defense side; Mickey was the DA’s investigator, on the other side. He didn’t have to help me. But he did. He said, I’ll get you a key to the courthouse so you can get into the law library on weekends. And he did. The key was to the big old heavy metal door on the School Street side. I think I still have it. He was a good kind man.

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ANOTHER GREAT REVIEW for the home team film, ‘Windows On The World’: 

" affecting road drama written with a mix of delicacy and grit by Robert Mailer Anderson and Zack Anderson... It’s not just an adaptation of a movie in comics form but something that is a living, breathing creature on its own. A lot of that is due to Jon Sack‘s incredible art."

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Re: Downtown Streetscape Project: Conditions have changed since our June 12 update. Contractors are installing and connecting major sewer lines in the area between Church and Henry Streets, work that may require running "bypass hoses" across State Street temporarily. Additionally, temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees. In order to minimize further disruptions to traffic and keep the workers safe, starting Wednesday, June 17th: Work may begin at 6:00 am instead of 7:00 am, and Church Street will be closed. I apologize for the late notice and the additional disruption. These sewer lines are several decades old and have come with some surprises. The good news, in addition to the fact that we'll have all new infrastructure, is that we'll never have to do this again in our lifetimes!

— Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager

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They’re signing petitions fast & furious as the Fort Bragg City Council Monday, June 22nd meeting looms on the horizon to discuss the possible changing the name of Fort Bragg.

We found THREE petitions as of Tuesday "high noon."

The most popular petition (by far at 1,400 signatures) is the petition started two days ago (Sunday) to KEEP the name of Fort Bragg and asked that, “The Fort Bragg City Council should not make any decisions to force the community of Fort Bragg to vote on this issue. If those who are calling for a name change want to vote on it, it is up to them to follow the process and place it on the ballot.”

And then there’s this petition (540 signatures) to change the name (also started Sunday):

MSP also found this petition started 24 hours ago (Monday) that had 219 signatures as of Tuesday noon: “Prepared by the Mendocino Coast Progressive Action Network for MendoCoast BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). They want to “Immediately Form an Inclusive Task Force to Select a New Name for Fort Bragg, CA:

(via MSP)

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Dear Editor:

Fort Bragg is named in honor of a racist slave owner who was also a traitor to his country. Why on earth would its citizens, of whom I am one, choose to perpetuate any form of tribute to someone whose values don't reflect our own and are now considered abhorrent? 

The people of Fort Bragg could honor the local Native Americans who preceded Bragg by millennia by renaming the town Noyo, it's original moniker. Or come up with a new name altogether. 

The only argument for NOT changing the name -- other than utter lethargy and inertia -- seems to be the one put forth by Lindy Peters five years ago: that the cost would be prohibitive, and the post office would for some unspecified reason implode. 

Yes, local businesses would incur some costs related to new signage, letterhead, business cards, et al. But all of those items need replacing somewhat regularly anyway, and it seems a relatively small price to pay to NOT have to say "oh, I'm from one of the northernmost, westernmost monuments to the Confederacy still remaining in the United States." 

Garth Chouteau

Fort Bragg

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[tune: Cotton-Eyed Joe]

Sometimes, folks, the truth is a drag
Our town's named for Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg, Braxton Bragg
Rebel General Braxton Bragg.

He fought for the Confederate flag
Lost every fight did Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg, Braxton Bragg
Everyone hated Braxton Bragg.

He and his wife had a hundred slaves
Worked them into early graves
Braxton Bragg, Braxton Bragg
Black Lives Matter was not his bag.

Don’t know about you, but it makes me gag
Our town's named for Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg, Braxton Bragg
Everyone hated Braxton Bragg.

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From Jack London Square to Stalingrad and Fort Bragg:

by Jonah Raskin

On KPFA not long ago I told the interviewer that Jack London, the author of The Call of the Wild and 50 or so other books, was a white supremacist who argued that African Americans were inferior to Anglo Saxons. To prove my point I read from a letter dated December 12, 1899 in which London wrote that “the black has stopped, just as the monkey has stopped. Never will even the highest anthropoid apes evolve into man; likewise the negro [sic] into a type of man higher than any existing.” 

The African American woman who was interviewing me was incensed and encouraged me to start a campaign to change the name from Jack London Square to Jack Johnson Square, after the first African American world heavyweight boxing champ. I understood her reasoning, but I didn’t buy her argument. After all, London was more than just a white supremacist. He was also a great writer, a socialist who ran twice for mayor of Oakland, an experimental farmer in Sonoma County, an advocate for child labor laws and an animal lover who campaigned for an end to animal abuse. If the name Jack London Square were to be retired, where would it end, I wondered. Would we have to abolish the name Washington, D.C., because our first president owned slaves? And what about the mural at George Washington High School, which some thought was racist, while others claimed presented harsh realities and that recently roiled San Francisco and the nation?

In the summer of 1964, when I was 22, I taught English at Winston-Salem State College, in Winston-Salem North Carolina — an African American institution — and found myself in the midst of a controversy when I expressed shock that I saw statues to generals in the Army of the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee. White citizens pointed out that in the North there were statues to Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, who systematically destroyed plantations in Georgia and the Carolinas and who waged a kind of total war against the South. 

I saw Sherman as a hero who helped to abolish slavery. Winston Salem’s white citizens regarded him as an invader who aimed to destroy a whole way of life. 

I’m all in favor of tearing down statues in the American South that honor Confederate generals who fought to defend and perpetuate slavery. So, too, I say, tear down statues to Joseph Stalin. For decades, there were statues of the Soviet dictator all over Russia and in Eastern Europe. 

Apparently, there’s still a statue in Moscow that honors Stalin, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill who presented Stalin with an honorary sword in November 1943. Stalin abused his power and brought disaster to peasants and workers, but he did help to defeat the Nazis at a place that once bore the name Volgograd and that was changed to Stalingrad after the Soviet victory over the Germans. In 1961, it reverted to Volgograd. 

Sometimes, tearing down a statue, like the one in Baghdad for Saddam Hussein, is largely symbolic. Still, symbols matter, whether they’re to Confederate generals, Soviet dictators, or Middle Eastern tyrants. It’s often said that the victors write history, and, while that seems to be true around the world, and not only in the U.S., it’s also true that history is rewritten again and again. 

It’s being rewritten right now in the protests against police misconduct and police brutality. Some call what’s happened a movement, others describe it a revolution. Tearing down statues is part of the process, no matter what it's called. So too is the idea of getting rid of the names of towns like Fort Bragg. (Braxton Bragg was a general in the Army of the Confederacy.) The dust hasn’t settled yet on the Civil War (1861-1865) and the current civil unrest. Someday there might be a statue or two to George Floyd. There also might be many statues to a man named Donald Trump, beloved and hated in almost equal measure by millions of Americans.

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One common refrain I have heard in rejection of the name change is the idea that you 'can't change history'. To which I say, you are right. But you can make history. Just as once upon a time, 1 man chose to name a town after his old commanding officer, so too can thousands of people join together and proclaim a new name, one that more justly reflects our town. But lets say the initiative fails, and that the townsfolk don't want to accept the inconvenience of a name change. What then? Well, then it's time to learn our history instead of running from it. Why doesn't Fort Bragg have a Founder's Day? Or any other annual celebration of the history of our town? (Paul Bunyan Days are great, but that is a holiday surrounding an industry, not the actual history of the town). So, if the town truly believes that the name is Historic and Meaningful, then we should plan an annual weekend where we invite the local school children to learn about the Pomo, how they were relocated, about the Fort, about why it was there, how long it was in operation. It's an uncomfortable history, but if it's important, then why not learn it? If the town justifies this decision by claiming they don't want to spend the money to rebrand, then a small concession would be an annual, city funded History Weekend. We can't sweep the town's bloody history and namesake under the rug. A financial and emotional reckoning is upon us, and regardless if the name changes, the only thing we can't do about it is nothing at all. 

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West Perkins, Ukiah

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by Mary Callahan

The national dispute over erasing public tributes to the southern Confederacy and renaming places that honor many of its slaveholding and wartime figures has suddenly hit Fort Bragg, rekindling a debate in the city of 7,300 and along the surrounding Mendocino Coast that has been stoked and unsettled for years.

A flurry of emails and calls from across the country, as well as closer to home, has reached City Hall urging the community to take action to change its name, which has stood since the mid 19th century as an homage to Braxton Bragg, U.S. Army officer who went on serve as a general in the Confederacy.

The appeal is not new, and proponents have gained little traction in the past.

But amid what appears to be an unprecedented reckoning with the country’s history of slavery and racial discrimination, Mayor Will Lee has decided to devote next Monday’s City Council meeting to the topic — but only as a matter of discussion, with any ultimate decision resting with voters.

“We’re going to talk about it,” Lee said. “If the people of Fort Bragg want a ballot initiative, there’s a process they can pursue.”

The campaign for a name change has resurfaced in the wake of the death last month of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of white Minneapolis officers, and the resulting nationwide protests over racial injustice and calls for police reform.

And to some degree, the latest outcry has come from outside the town, where black residents make up just 1% of the population. The groundswell is a reflection of determined allies and advocates intent on eliminating public tributes to the Confederate legacy.

City Council members said correspondence and calls have come in from across the nation, straining a city hall already stretched thin amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s hard, because there are really pressing issues that we are really working on, and this conversation is important and it’s a bigger cultural conversation, but it’s a challenge to meet the needs of communication around it when there are kind of issues of survival on the line,” said Councilwoman Jessica Morsell-Haye.

With a projected $1.5 million budget shortfall, and city staffers already furloughed or laid off, there also are concerns about the cost of rebranding, should that be the direction, Lee said.

But Lee said he wanted to hear what the public had to say, and was working with city staff to arrange for a safe way to hold what will be the first in-person council meeting at the town hall in months.

A vigorous debate, meanwhile, is playing out online, showing clear interest among some in the community who want to shed their association with Bragg, his betrayal of the Union and his defense of human slavery.

Those in favor of a name change frequently put forward Noyo, one of several suggestions that reference the native people who lived on the land before it was settled by Europeans — and supported by soldiers posted to a coastal fort named after Bragg in 1857.

“We should show that everyone is an American, and we ought to show people that we should treat everyone evenly and kindly, and all of these deaths of black people, unarmed and mostly black men, has to stop,” said Bob Bushansky, 76, whose new petition on in favor a new name “right for 21st century” had more than 300 signatures by Monday night. “We have to show solidarity with our fellow human beings.”

But there are a substantial number of Fort Bragg residents resistant to the idea, as well, particularly as the city confronts municipal budget woes and service cuts tied to the pandemic.

Among them are Ryan Bushnell, who has lived all but about six of his 35 years in the city. He serves on its volunteer fire department, is a coach of youth sports and doesn’t want to see the name changed.

“I don’t want to see it gone because it hurts people’s feelings,” he said.

The coastal town has no historic connection with Bragg. Before leaving his Louisiana sugar plantation to fight for the Confederacy, he had been a career officer with the U.S. Army, including service in the Mexican-American War.

A young soldier who served under him later established an Army post to enforce order on a tribal reservation near what’s now downtown. The soldier named it Fort Bragg in honor of his first commander.

That was four years before the start of the Civil War in 1861, but as historians note, the soldiers’ mission was not peaceful.

The people of Fort Bragg “are great,” said Reno Franklin, chairman emeritus of the Kashia Pomo Tribe, but “the town itself is a monument to genocide.”

Bounty hunters cashed in on the slaughter, trading scalps for money at the Army post, he said — “a wholesale marketplace for California Indian people.”

Rep. Jared Huffman, whose district includes the Mendocino Coast, said it was inevitable the issue of Fort Bragg’s name would come up, given the national conversation and re-examination of place names, monuments, statues and military bases that memorialize white supremacy and Confederate leaders — including the better-known Fort Bragg, a sprawling Army installation in North Carolina.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he is not stating a public position, as he believes any name change should be initiated in the community. But he left little mystery about where he stands.

“Every generation has a chance to reconsider the messages that are sent with some of these place names,” he said. “There’s no reason that whoever has the first shot at the naming back in 1857 should have permanent naming rights, especially when they chose someone who goes on to be a traitor and a champion of slavery.”

Fort Bragg’s naming actually came under reconsideration soon after Bragg same out of retirement to fight on the side of slavery. Among Union allies in California’s volunteer infantry, some deemed him traitorous and recommended the coastal army post be renamed, though they were overridden, according to some histories.

The subject has continued to resurface, most recently in 2015, during debate over proposed state legislation that would have banned naming schools, parks and other public sites after Confederate leaders. The bill, later vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, was passed in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners in a South Carolina church at the hands of a white supremacist.

Former Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner, who served on the City Council for 16 years, said he kept a 2015 letter from the bill’s author, state Sen. Steven Glazer, D-Orinda, specifically seeking a change in the city’s name. He feels certain the town was not interested at that time.

But the world has changed, he said, with greater awareness now of the legacy of slavery, deep-seated discrimination, and of the nearly unrestrained genocide against California native tribes.

“We’re kidding ourselves if we think things are changing in timely fashion,” Turner said. “They’re not.

“I support Black Lives Matter 100%. I know people of color don’t get a fair shake. I know their lives are more at risk, that’s true. Does that mean Fort Bragg should change its name? Maybe.”

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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(photo by Dick Whetstone)

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PREDICTION: Assuming Fort Bragg will put the name change to a vote, it will lose about 3-1. Yeah, I'm taking bets.

IN THIS MORNING'S PRESS DEMOCRAT story on Coast Lib's summer offensive to change Fort Bragg's name (above), the only citizen quoted besides mayor Will Lee is Bob The Inevitable Bushansky, always a sure sign that idiocy is in the house. There's a pseudo-liberal core of middle-of-the-road extremists comprising the Mendo branch of the Democratic Party who, like the national Democratic Party, ensure nothing good can or ever will happen for the working people of Mendocino County. Natch, Bushansky is tight with Congressman Press Release and the twin Healdsburg ciphers, Wood and McGuire. Double natch that Bushansky would be all for a purely symbolic argument over a purely symbolic name change because it's what phony liberals do best — empty gestures. Of course this guy sits on the Coast's Park and Rec board and the KZYX board, on whose station he also has a talk show where he interviews other virtue-signalers called, Politics a Love Story. (!)

THE OFFENDING PARAGRAPH: …“We should show that everyone is an American, and we ought to show people that we should treat everyone evenly and kindly, and all of these deaths of black people, unarmed and mostly black men, has to stop,” said Bob Bushansky, 76, whose new petition on in favor of a new name “right for 21st century” had more than 300 signatures by Monday night. “We have to show solidarity with our fellow human beings.”

HERE we are with a lethal pandemic in circulation in a tottering, half-collapsed economy, and the leadership is talking about re-wiring the history books?

AFTER TUESDAY'S SUPERVISOR'S MEETING, Supervisor Williams brandished a tweet from Governor Newsom saying about the proposed Fort Bragg re-name, “This is the right move.” Coming from the guy who slept with his best friend's wife to destroy both Best Friend and Best Friend's wife, Newsom isn't exactly the turn-to guy to recommend "the right thing to do." But, and sorry for repeating myself, this is what the Democrats do — virtue signal in lieu of action on behalf of struggling people who, at this point, are well over half the American population.

THE NIGHT they pulled old Johan down in Sacramento, another mighty blow was struck for historical amnesia. Sutter's Fort, at least what remained of it near our state capital, used to be a seemingly mandatory field trip for NorCal students. But now that California's history is being re-written to exclude its early bad boys — there were no bad girls — expunging Sutter means a fascinating period of the golden state's beginnings will go untaught. 

JOHN SUTTER was an enterprising Swiss who managed to get himself Mexican citizenship in the brief Mexican interregnum between Spain and Mexico, and title to much of Northern California into the bargain. Sutter's famous fort was built from lumber he hauled from the defunct Russian outpost at Bodega Bay. Sutter died broke, having lost everything when Gold Rushers overran his extensive holdings, but he was also a notorious deadbeat. He'd promised to pay the Russians a hefty salvage fee for all that hand-milled wood he built his fort with but never gave them so much as a coyote pelt, although the Russians dunned him for years. Sutter also bought the military uniforms the Russians discarded when they abandoned their NorCal trading post. Sutter dressed his Indian soldiers in these uniforms as they served both as his praetorian guard and as an inland Indian pacification force. Sutter recruited the biggest Indians he could find — none under 6'4" — togged them out in the Russian uniforms and, witnesses would testify, Sutter's little army became a glorious sight galloping up and down the Sacramento Valley, but less glorious, I'm sure, to the recalcitrant tribes they pacified on behalf of Sutter's many business interests.

WAS SUTTER a bad man, so bad that he should be erased from state history? No, by the ad hoc standards of the time, he was a model of frontier entrepreneurialism, no worse than his neighbor Bidwell, Chico's founding father. The best book on Sutter, and one of the only books I've read on pre-Gold Rush California that gives the reader a real feel for what that period was like, is "Gold," by Blaise Cendars. Highly recommended. 

CAUGHT A FEW MINUTES of an author I hadn't heard of called Robin DiAngelo. She was talking about her book, a best seller apparently, titled, "White Fragility — Why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism." The professor didn't say anything I disagreed with, and I cheered when she said it's white liberals who are the worst offenders of… "I would urge white people to remove the phrase 'I'm not racist' from their vocabularies. Every explicitly racist act that we can identify and recognize was perpetrated by people who say 'I'm not racist.' That phrase is functionally meaningless, and when we say it we are not convincing black people of its truth. What we are conveying when we claim not to be racist as we live in a society in which racism is the foundation, we are saying that we have no critical understanding whatsoever of this issue. That we have no skills in navigating this conversation. That we are clueless and oblivious and that black people are not safe to talk to us. As long as we define racism as individual acts of intentional meanness we will not understand it and we will only protect it. That definition is the root of virtually all white defensiveness and denial. And if that's how I defined racism I would agree that it's offensive to say that white people are racist. That is not racism."

TRUMP'S ECONOMIC ADVISER, Larry Kudlow, says he wants to end the $600/week unemployment supplement, calling it a "disincentive to work." Trump had just proposed giving Americans a $4,000 tax deduction for domestic travel that he says can help stimulate the economy after the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The credit would be available also for eating at restaurants. For people who don't want to go anywhere — probably most people — a travel credit isn't very appealing. Democrats, however, seem to be on the right track for a change. They are talking about $2,000 monthly stimulus checks for the remainder of the pandemic.

I WONDERED when the fascisti would start shooting. A man is in critical condition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a Monday night protest demanding the removal of a statue of a conquistador erupted into gunfire and fist fights initiated by an armed vigilante group called the New Mexico Civil Guard. The fighting started when demonstrators started to ax the statue of Juan de Oñate—New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor. After the unidentified man was shot, police arrested several members of the militia who were carrying rifles. Witnesses said the gunman was a white man in a blue shirt, The New York Times reported. Chief Michael Geier said state and federal authorities were investigating reports that vigilante groups had instigated the violence. “If this is true... [we] will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.” The victim is in critical but stable condition, police said. Hours later, Mayor Tim Keller announced that the Oñate statue would be removed until “the appropriate civic institutions” could determine how to move forward.

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by William Miller, MD, Mendocino Coast District Hospital Chief of Staff 

and Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager 

As Shelter-In-Place Relaxes 

Most of us are grateful that the Shelter-In-Place requirements are beginning to relax and, perhaps even more importantly, that the process of relaxing the requirements is being conducted in a thoughtful and step wise fashion. There is no question in my mind that it has protected us from an onslaught of cases that would have overwhelmed our health care system. There are those who scoff at this and demand to see the research that proves it worked. To them, I would say that the proof is that we are now well into June with still no COVID admissions at our hospital. A far cry from the original predictions made by epidemiologic models that by mid-May we would have as many as 80 patients in our small, 25 bed hospital. 

Regardless of whether we agree on the need for such extreme public health measures, I think we can all agree that it did come at a significant financial cost. In particular, the lost revenue to our community from tourism. So, now that we are starting to relax the restrictions and tourism is starting to slowly pick back up, let’s be careful. It would be a shame to have paid such a high price to now lose any gains by going to the other extreme and refusing to wear face coverings, refusing to practice social distancing and refusing to limit the size of gatherings. COVID-19 is real and it is going to creep into our coastal community, so now is not the time to throw caution to the wind. Please, be mindful and wear your mask. 

On the other hand, we should not be excessively fearful of efforts to return to some degree of normalcy either. Yes, there will slowly be more cases of infection here as a result. That is unavoidable. However, if we continue to take basic common-sense steps such as wearing our masks, washing our hands and not crowding together, the rate of transmission will be kept at a low level. This is the world we now live in and we will likely be dealing with this for at least another year or two to come. Hopefully, it will eventually burn itself out, but if SARS-1 is a good example (COVID-19 is caused by SARS-2), then it will take about that long to die down. 

In the meantime, there is increasing concern that folks with other health problems are avoiding getting healthcare out of fear that they will catch COVID if they go to the hospital or a doctor’s office. A public poll conducted in May for the California Hospital Association reported that more than 40% of Californians are “not too willing” or “not at all willing” to seek care in a hospital emergency room due to fear about COVID-19. Additionally, 37% said they were reluctant to seek inpatient and outpatient hospital services for the same reason. 

This is concerning because people with non-COVID health problems might experience unnecessary worsening of those conditions as a result. Our hospital, our ER and clinics (both North Coast Family Health Center and Mendocino Coast Clinics), carefully follow all the CDC guidelines to protect our patients and staff from transmission of COVID. Our lab and x-ray departments are fully open for services. We are working on re-opening our surgical services and this week resumed performing colonoscopies and injections for chronic pain. 

Another important change that the relaxing of Shelter-In-Place mandates are allowing is for us to start allowing visitors to come see patients in the hospital again. This is such a crucially important step in the healing process. As with other steps towards normalcy, we will have to do this in a stepwise fashion starting with allowing just one visitor at a time and between the hours of 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM daily. Patients at end of life can have up to six family members as visitors. 

Thank you all for your patience and support of our hospital, clinics and healthcare providers. 

From Tabatha Miller, our Fort Bragg City Manager: 

Public Meetings During COVID-19 

Back in May, when City staff started planning for the City’s first public City Council meeting, none of us expected the meeting to be centered on one of the most controversial issues to face the City in recent years: Discussing whether to place an item on the ballot in November asking the City voters if they want to change the name of Fort Bragg. We considered closing the meeting to the public for health and safety reasons. However, because we know many members of the public want to participate in this decision, the City will conduct the meeting in person but with some additional options for participation from afar. The in-person meeting is scheduled for 6:00pm at Town Hall, 363 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg, California. Further, to ensure that there is ample time for public comment, this item will be the only conduct of business item on the June 22, 2020 regular City Council Agenda. 

In order to conduct the in-person meeting in a safe manner and comply with the Mendocino County Health Officer’s current Order, we will require social distancing, face coverings, limit the capacity in Town Hall to 25% of normal and have hand sanitizer available, which we encourage you to use. To provide for social distancing, the number of staff attending in person will be limited. Zoom will be available for staff and for Councilmembers who prefer to continue to Shelter-in-Place. For members of the public who would also like to Shelter-in-Place, meetings as always can be viewed on Comcast Channel 3 or live-streamed from the City’s website. Members of the public may also watch the meeting after the fact - in reruns on Channel 3 or by accessing the archived meetings from the City’s legislative platform via the City’s website:

If you are interested in providing public comment, for non-agenda items, consent calendar items or on the topic of a possible ballot measure to change the name of Fort Bragg, you have a number of ways to participate. Both remote and in-person options are available. First, you may submit your comments through the City’s online eComment agenda feature. Second way is to submit written comments to the City Clerk, June Lemos, at 416 N. Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 or by email to Third way to submit comments, is to use Zoom by accessing the link from the meeting agenda posted on the City’s website Please note that if you choose to submit public comments using the Zoom option, you will not be able to watch the ongoing meeting from this link. Members of the public will remain in the waiting room until their turn to speak. Depending on your own computer settings, you will have the option for voice and/or video.

The final way to submit comments is the old fashion way – in person. If you choose to participate in person, please remember that occupancy in Town Hall is limited and seating will be first come, first served. You will be required to wear a face covering. If occupancy of the building is at social distancing limit, you may have to wait outside Town Hall. An audio speaker will broadcast the meeting into the courtyard south of Town Hall and public speakers will be asked to cycle through so that everyone has a chance to participate.

As we continue to reopen City government, we ask for your patience and understanding. These precautions are to ensure that everyone feels safe and to minimize any unnecessary risk in participating in the public process.

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Covid Testing Status

134/day capacity at Optum Serve in Ukiah

UCSF’s program expires soon. We’ll use the remaining capacity to test:

100 - Fort Bragg

100 - Anderson Valley

100 - Laytonville

Without Optum Serve, we would be limited to 90/week at the Sonoma lab plus 50/week at Adventist. Optum is willing to relocate, but we must commit to at least 30 days in the new location and during this period 132 tests per day must be performed to keep the resource in county. 

Primary care is able to test. Hospitals, clinics and doctor offices are not limited in testing capacity. Primary care testing is a separate path from public health surveillance testing. 

The State is not openly divesting testing responsibility, but greater responsibility is being placed on health centers and clinics. Staff has been working on pricing for alternative testing contractors. I’ve personally been discussing with vendors in hopes of identifying additional options. Nothing is concrete at this time. 

Health Order Enforcement 

Local enterprises have worked in good faith to meet the recent public health requirements, which represent our best tools for saving the local economy and safeguarding lives in a challenging time. Almost all non-compliant businesses have been willing to work with us to find solutions. Where impossibility exists, the county will listen and attempt to adjust language in recognition of practical limitations. None of us want to see enforcement against local business owners. However, out of life and death concern for our vulnerable population and in fairness to the other businesses we represent, compliance is not optional. A young COVID-19 case in ICU reminds me of the fragility of our situation. I’m hopeful that the remaining businesses will voluntarily come into compliance and be partners in public safety. 

* * *

STATEMENT TO BOS RE: THE PANDEMIC, Tuesday morning, June 16, 2020.

I spoke before the board on April 14 just over two months ago. At the time I complained about the lack of available testing. As of now this problem has not been resolved. The county has implemented some 132 daily tests in the Ukiah Valley, but no regular testing program on the coast where it is actually needed.

I also raised public concern over the absence of a health officer as Dr. Doohan had left her post to go to a new job in San Diego. I therefore advocated for the county to hire a competent full-time public health officer to replace her. In the meantime, this body hired Dr. Joseph Iser, who turned out to have an extremely ugly work history that anyone could have easily discovered by googling his name. You went through the motions of hiring, but failed to get it done.

So here we are now. The last I heard Dr. Doohan is back in San Diego, working part-time as our health officer. We are in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a century, and Mendocino County does not have a full-time Public Health Officer.

At this point I can't blame Dr. Doohan. She has given ample notice of her intentions, and given ample time to find a replacement. Instead, you extend her contract part-time and still fail to get a new in-county health officer. This is incompetence and negligence of historic proportions. This time you are not just going to be responsible for losing money, you'll be responsible for losing lives.

The Mendocino Coast is opening back up to tourism. My suggestion is that you at least provide ample opportunity for incoming visitors to be tested, and come up with some sort of plan for contact tracing when the inevitable happens – and tourists start bringing the coronavirus to the coastal community.

The County could promote free testing and make it available to tourists as a promotional tool for those who care about their health and the health of others. A comprehensive plan for contact tracing of tourists must be in place before opening up. And finally we must have a full time Health Officer to deal with this historic crisis. After months of warning, none of the above has been accomplished.

So far coastal residents have managed by strict voluntary compliance to curb the spread, but with the influx of tourism, our spike is still ahead of us. Public Health can issue all the 33-page health orders they want, but if you fail to enforce them they are meaningless. The Sheriff’s office has made it clear they are unwilling to enforce the law when it comes to this pandemic. The responsibility of the Public Health department is more than remotely operating a facebook page. Now that the Governor is pushing statewide reopening, and leaving it up to individual counties to set regulations, we need responsible leadership in the form of a new full-time Public Heath Officer, and we need it now. Or should I say, we needed it months ago.

David Gurney

Fort Bragg, CA



I agree with most of your points. A few details to highlight why the system is broken:

Recruitment for a competent full time health officer is a priority. There are (finally) candidates moving through the process. Under state law, the public health officer cannot work in conflicting capacity. For example, we cannot appoint a local practicing ER physician to double as PHO. We did request mutual aid from the state. To date, support has not arrived.

Initially, only incompatible possibilities were presenting. Our current PHO bills by contract, presently ~15 hours per week at $125/hr. This is 75% reimbursable by federal dollars.

4.34 weeks per month * 15 hours * $125 * 25% county burden = $2034/month

I’m not in any way suggesting that during a pandemic we should leave the position unfilled or incompetently filled to save money. A ~$300k full time position, which is not federally reimbursable, does not appear adequately competitive in the market. Recruitment is difficult. Hiring "a competent full-time health officer” requires competent and available candidates. Hiring has been blocked by supply.

On testing, the 134/day Optum Serve unit was placed in Ukiah, because of proximity to the greatest number of people. We’ve asked for remote sampling. Optum has refused. We’ve asked to rotate placement. They won’t move it on shorter than a 30 day cycle. I’d like to see it moved to the coast, but we’d need to ensure 132 test per day for the entire 30 day period or we’ll risk losing the service altogether. Optum is private and will go where there is business. Urban areas are in need of this resource. Lack of federal and state support leave us vulnerable. I see testing dollars vanishing in the near future. The county does not have funds for the testing a pandemic demands without making massive cuts elsewhere. Consider the need to test 300 persons per day county wide. At $100 per test, which is below market, we’re talking $900k per month. Finding $11M in the county budget over the next year would be daunting. Counties are not funded to provide primary care. The funding issue points to our broken healthcare model. Testing needs to happen, but our healthcare system is based around clinics providing healthcare services, not county government.

Enforcement has been a problem. As you know, the Sheriff does not report to the Board of Supervisors. I did ask for the Sheriff to be at the table in the formation of the latest health order to ensure he would be able to enforce it. The people need to speak to him directly about their expectations. I have, but you are his constituent.

Robert Spies suggests:

Kaua'i has a mandatory 2 week quarantine for all visitors arriving from out of state. It is enforced with possible arrest and fines. The island has only had 21 cases of Covid-19 and not one new case in about a 6 weeks.

We could set up a system where incoming tourists could be tested and if uninfected could be issued a certificate which would be required to rent a house or room at a hotel/motel or eat at a restaurant. This would cause some trouble to set up and run at first, but not as much grief as having a sizable portion of the older cohort here on the coast come down with the disease. Even implementing this in the block of coastal communities would be great as the virus appears to be on the verge of sharply escalating in the Ukiah Valley and there being only one case on the coast and in isolation in FB. Also Mendocino Sewage recently tested negative for the virus.

* * *


We've all heard it many times: Wear a face covering — indoors, outdoors, on trains and buses. At work, in the supermarket and at church. But now a new modeling study out of Cambridge and Greenwich universities suggests that face masks may be even more important than originally thought in preventing future outbreaks of the new coronavirus.

* * *

FIDDLEHEADS is a cafe in the village of Mendocino that sells “Burgers and Breakfast.” On May 31 a Yelp reviewer said that the cafe is  “absolutely not following covid 19 guidelines. "People are jammed inside eating without social distancing or mask wearing. Opened the door to see and turned around and walked out.” Another on-line reviewer said they "had a sign in front that said they don’t practice social distancing and invited people to not come in if they desired to respect social distancing." 

Several other yelp reviewers complained in similar fashion, and one accused the cafe owner of insulting then banishing an older lady who complained about the cafe flouting the rules.

On Tuesday, the Supes voted unanimously in closed session to pursue litigation “in the event other remedies are unsuccessful or insufficient” to get Chris Castleman (also a Coast volunteer firefighter and distance runner) doing business as Fiddleheads to observe the public health orders. “It seems like his intent is to not comply with the public health order,” said Board Chair John Haschak. This might get interesting.

* * *


* * *


On Monday, June 15, 2020 at about 11:36 AM, Justin Jimenez was driving eastbound on Highway 175 east of Harrison Street in the Hopland area at an unknown speed in a 1999 Ford F-250 pickup. Mr. Jimenez let the Ford veer onto the right shoulder of Highway 175. The Ford pickup went out of control and crossed over the solid double yellow line of Highway 175 and collided with the driver’s side of a 2002 Honda Civic which was traveling westbound on Highway 175. After the impact between the Ford and the Honda, the Ford rolled over and came to rest on its wheels in the middle of Highway 175 facing east. The Honda came to rest on its wheels against the grassy embankment facing west. The as yet unidentified 32 year old driver of the Honda Civic was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Jimenez and the passenger of the Honda, Ruben Tinajero, 24, of Ukiah, were treated for their injuries at the scene and airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by CalStar and Reach helicopters. The deceased driver of the Honda was transported from the scene by Eversole mortuary. Hopland fire, Calfire and Medstar ambulance responded to the scene. The collision is being investigated by the CHP. The death investigation and family notification is being conducted by the Mendocino County Sheriff's office. The name of the deceased will be released pending notification of the family.

* * *


* * *


* * *


by Mark Scaramella

Supervisor John McCowen, as noted by Supervisor Ted Williams as the “primary architect” of the County’s unworkable and overcomplicated pot cultivation ordinance, summarized his proposal to totally revamp the program on Tuesday by pointing out what many have said about the program for years:

"This proposal is asking the Board to consider going in a new direction. Instead of continually tinkering with the current ordinance which we have been doing for years now with the hope that with one or two more little fixes it will suddenly become functional. The current program is difficult for applicants to navigate. It is cumbersome for staff to administer. It results in a dual permitting system with the state which imposes additional financial and bureaucratic burdens on applicants with little if any additional benefit to the regulated community, the general community, the county, or the environment. We currently have this maze of complicated state and local regulations that often are duplicative and sometimes conflicting. If we really want to streamline this we would seriously consider taking the County out of the cannabis permitting business and focus on regulating it as a land-use activity which is what we do with most other business types. It would be primarily governed through the zoning code with the appropriate permitting system for that. That system would also utilize the talents of our professional planners instead of having them be cannabis regulators. The state is devoting a lot of resources to this. They seem to have the same problem we do getting people through their system but it's partly because it's such an exacting system. Although I share the hope that we can streamline our process with the state and get to a point where many of these legacy cultivators could be improved through a ministerial process, we've been attempting to do that for four years now with very little success.”

After a couple of hours of discussion and on-line input from several local pot growers, most of them saying they’d like more time to consider McCowen’s belated revamp, McCowen eventually moved to “continue exploring options with the state Ag and Fish and Wildlife departments to make the current system more functional, to continue processing permits through the current system, and also to develop the details of what moving in a land use specific direction would look like as opposed to continuing with the current ministrative permitting system for all permits, existing and future.”

During the discussion, County Planning Director Brent Schultz told the Board that he had “no confidence” that the state would ever improve their processing or processes. At present hundreds of applications are stalled with no prospect for final approval. In addition, Supervisor Williams noted, if they are not approved by next June, their “provisional” status will lapse and they won’t be allowed to grow pot legally.

Supervisor Williams tried to clarify McCowen’s motion: “I think the direction is for planning staff to continue working with Ag & Fish and Wildlife to remedy the CEQA [California Enviromental Quality Act] deficiency in the current ministerial process. Then explore in parallel what a use permit process would look like for Phase 3 and the legacy Phase 1.”

McCowen added, “The gist of the motion is to continue these different avenues that are currently in process that may resolve the CEQA issue but simultaneously ask staff to develop what a discretionary review permit process would look like.”

The board then voted 4-1 in favor of McCowen’s motion to ask staff to look into his proposal, but with no timeline. Presumably, the issue will come up again at a future meeting after staff makes one last attempt to work some environmental review problems out with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Supervisor John Haschack dissented on grounds that he still hoped a few minor fixes could be made to the existing nearly dead program which he apparently thinks should stay in place to somehow honor the existing permit holders.

PS. Before the Board voted, lameduck First District Supervisor Carre Brown boldly declared: “Whatever we do we’ve got to fix it. … We certainly have a wrench in the process. I’m totally conflicted on where we need to go, but we need to do something.”

PPS. SO FAR not one of the candidates for Supervisor to replace lameducks McCowen and Brown — Glenn McGourty, Jon Kennedy, Mari Rodin or Maureen Mulheren — has engaged in any way whatsoever on any of the important subjects the Board has dealt with in recent weeks: The Budget, Pandemic etc., Pot cultivation, Public Safety Power Shutoffs, Law Enforcement, and a host of second-tier issues. No letters, no comments, no statements in public expression, nothing on social media… Nothing.

* * *


* * *


Honorable Board of Supervisors: 

My name is Sarah Reith, and I am a reporter with KZYX, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. I want to address the lack of meaningful participation in the local democratic process as we all attempt to stay safe from the novel coronavirus.

As we emerge from the shelter in place orders that have saved thousands of lives, we have regained certain freedoms: the freedom to go shopping, to go to the gym, to attend church and demonstrations, and now, to drink and socialize at a bar until midnight. This last was surprising, in light of Dr. Doohan’s very convincing argument, just a few days before issuing the order, that people who have been drinking for several hours are unlikely to observe social distancing protocols. 

What we don’t have is the freedom to attend local government meetings in person and contribute to the decisions that matter to us. We can only participate in the democratic process if we have good internet and cell phone service, well-maintained equipment to make use of that infrastructure, and the skills to operate the expensive equipment.

We have the right to attend political protests, but a world-changing movement, which will happen regardless of a line item in a health order, is not the venue to state an opinion about something like the use of rangeland to grow cannabis, or a particular budgetary decision. “Allowing” a juggernaut like the Black Lives Matter movement to take place does not indicate any real level of respect for our First Amendment rights. And now that we have demonstrated our cultural priorities by allowing drinking establishments to stay open until midnight, we need to accept the risk involved in reopening the democratic process, as well.

In a related issue, the Friday press conferences are inadequate. The press is often not brought into the zoom meetings until the moment when it is our turn to ask questions. That’s confusing, because we are watching it on Facebook or Youtube, which has a considerable delay. Technology is not adequate to the task of conducting a real, live, respectful interaction with the press.

In short, democracy by zoom is not democracy. The pandemic is going to last a long time, and we need to come up with a way to hold meetings and press conferences in person. People in many other sectors of society, including yoga studios and art classes, have figured out how to conduct their proceedings on location, while offering a distanced option for those who do not feel safe enough to participate in person. If I can take a yoga class in a studio, and then hang out at a bar until midnight, I need to be able to exercise my right to participate in civic affairs like a voting-age adult. Maybe the capacity of the chambers should be kept to a minimum, and if there’s overflow, people who want to speak can wait their turn in the hallway or in conference room C, where they can practice social distancing and watch the proceeding in real time until they are called on. Speakers could wear masks and disinfect the microphone with a Clorox wipe when they finish their comments. We know how to do this safely by now.

But democracy has always involved a certain amount of risk. Surely it’s at least as valuable as going to a bar. 

Thank you,

Sarah Reith, KZYX reporter

* * *

HELLO [Board of Supervisors]. My name is Nichole Norris, I am a freelance reporter who has been covering the impacts of the Humboldt County cannabis abatement program for years. I also work part time for a law office and was an abatement specialist working with about 100 victims of the program. I am speaking out today against the abatement program being proposed by Mendocino County. 

In the time I’ve covered this issue and working with people on the front lines I have seen so much injustice, so many people afraid to lose everything they have. I've witnessed countless environmentalists devastated by false accusations, held liable for logging legacies, left paying thousands to hundreds of thousands to remedy issues they did not cause (ex. logging roads, culverts etc.). I’ve watched permaculturalist families forced by our Planning Dept to remove their organic soil, garden beds, and even a redwood chicken coop that had been standing for about 100 years. 

I’ve watched our Planning Dept. falsely accuse countless people who grow vegetables in greenhouses, including our local nuns. I've seen people lose their modest RV housing, or have to remove their classic cars from their property and others who have had to fill in their compost toilets as a result of the program. Several abatement recipients are being cited for unpermitted homes. I have witnessed property owners doing what fire prevention experts advise them, then having to defend themselves for doing expensive fire preparedness work. I know of four different people who were stressed so much by the program and later died with their notices unresolved. 

Out of the 100 abatements I've worked on, less than a handful deserved some sort of notice or resolution. The vast majority did not. 

The abatement program fails to recognize that people would like to be in compliance but our permit process is too complex and expensive to navigate for most people, especially small farms. Small permaculture family farms are what made our region world famous. We should be offering authentic equity programs for locals who endured the war on drugs (via free small farm permits), but instead those small farms are cut out of legalization entirely. The abatement program is the nail in the coffin of Prop 64 and the social and cultural impacts are widespread. 

I have watched countless families flee our area as a result of the abatement program, causing our schools to close down and those still open are failing. We do not have enough volunteer firefighters, teachers, baseball coaches, non profit workers, childcare workers etc. Property values are plummeting and some Humboldt residents are now filing to reduce their tax bills. 

Our elders who made this product famous are reportedly afraid to cultivate 9 plants alongside vegetables in their backyards for their medicine and to survive. All while we watch mega mono- crop farms favored by our permit process have a free pass to cause harm without oversight. Few smaller farms have made it through the permit process so the purpose of the abatement program and legalization generally has been entirely lost. 

While Humboldt County has sent notices to about 25% of people who had 4k sq ft and less in garden canopy (per satellite imagery), there were only 18 properties or 6% cited with 30k sq ft 

cultivation areas and greater. One abated garden area from this year was 160 sq ft. The satellites make a lot of mistakes which cost immense time, stress and money to resolve. 

The solutions forced on us by Humboldt County's Planning Dept. is not only wreaking havoc on our community economically and emotionally, but it is not serving the environment either. The environment is not impacted by someone paying a fine for grading who then gets a retroactive permit that allows the grading. I've met people who easily obtained a permit to clear cut their property in order to afford a permit to cultivate a plant. What is the difference to the environment between permitted plants and non-permitted plants? Nothing. This program does not serve the environment, it does not address the root issues around non-compliance and instead burdens property owners, vilifies off-grid living while sowing immense fear across our backyard gardening communities. 

About 470 abatement warning letters went out last winter before the pandemic to many backyard gardeners, those with small vegetable greenhouses and 215s. I personally had to stop cultivating food year around in a very small greenhouse because my landlords were so afraid of the abatement program, and felt it was too much of a risk. My family went hungry during a pandemic as a direct result of this abatement program. We didn’t even receive an abatement or warning letter. I used to grow food year-around even through snow storms in my greenhouse, now my garden in mid June pales in comparison to what I had in February last year. This is economically devastating, jeopardizes my health and families well being. It also goes against everything I stand for as a permaculturalist who aspires to live in harmony with the environment and provide for my own basic needs. My family is currently trying to relocate to Mendocino (or Oregon) to escape the abusive abatement program and get back to cultivating food year-around. 

Please do not make the same mistake Humboldt County did and mark my words you will see Mendocino County survive legalization where Humboldt County will not. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Nichole Norris 

(My most recent article on the abatement program -

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* * *


by Terry Knight

A vast area will be left high and dry and one of the most popular visitor destinations in Mendocino County will disappear.

Lake County has an abundance of wild land where tourists can enjoy the great outdoors. It also has five lakes, Clear Lake, Indian valley Reservoir, Blue Lakes and Lake Pillsbury. All the lakes offer excellent fishing, camping, boating plus excellent scenery. One of these lakes is about to disappear. The dam that created Lake Pillsbury is about to be torn down. When that happens a vast area will be left high and dry and one of the most popular visitor destinations in the county will disappear.

Lake Pillsbury was created in1921 when Scotts Dam was built on the Eel River. The lake has a surface area of 2,000 acres and a shoreline of 65 miles. It sits at an elevation of 1,818 feet. There are five campgrounds at the lake plus two boat ramps and a resort. There is also a store. The lake holds five species of fish: trout, black bass, steelhead, bluegill and the pikeminnow. Some of the bass are huge, weighing in the 10-pound class. It also has some huge bluegill. It is a popular lake with fishermen and hundreds travel to the lake to fish and camp.

There are also approximately 400 permanent residents that live there year around. Most of them moved there for the peace and beauty of the area. Nearby Hull Mountain overlooks the lake and is a popular tourist area. The Mendocino National Forest is a popular hunting and hiking area.

The area around Lake Pillsbury teems with wildlife. There is a large herd of tule elk that reside at the lake. Bears are frequently seen throughout the area and often walk through the campgrounds. On the lake itself, it’s common to see bald eagles and osprey diving for fish and otters swimming in the lake. Deer can be found all around the lake.

The dam was originally meant as a source for electricity but it is no longer used for that. PG&E owns the dam but plans on giving it up in 2022 because it’s too expensive to maintain.

A collation of five groups have been advocating removing the dam to allow steelhead and salmon to migrate up the Eel River to spawn. What is not said is that if the dam is removed and Lake Pillsbury dries up thousands of fish that now live in the lake will die.

The problem is that no one wants to take responsibility for maintaining the dam which could cost millions of dollars each year. PG&E doesn’t want it and neither does the U.S. Forest Service.

If the dam is removed property values will plummet. The reason people brought property and built homes is because of Lake Pillsbury. Lake Mendocino will be losing a valuable water source if Lake Pillsbury dries up.

Removing the dam will be no easy task. It is estimated that it will take at least three or more years to accomplish it.

There are two ways to get into the lake. One is out of Upper Lake on the Elk Mountain Road and the other is by way of Potter Valley which is located off Highway 20 near lake Mendocino.

Actually it is unknown if the dam is removed whether any steelhead and salmon will migrate up the river. The one sure thing that the residents that live around the lake will also be left high and dry.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, June 16, 2020

Furr, Martinez, Morales-Rodriguez, Sharpe

NICHOLAS FURR, Fort Bragg. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

JENNIFER MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

CORNELIO MORALES-RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, damaging wireless communications device, community supervision violation.

BENNY SHARPE, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting/threatening.

* * *

THERE WAS A TIME in my life when I didn’t know where my next husband was coming from.

— Mae West

* * *


by James Kunstler

The desperate condition of the USA is a much greater illness than the symptomatic grievance of systemic racism — though, for the moment, that complaint galvanizes the nation’s attention because it is woven into so many strands of national myth, narrative, and historic psychodrama. The short version of systemic racism is that predatory white Europeans came upon the New World and raped it, and then, utilizing that ill-gotten treasure, proceeded to rape the rest of the world and the non-whites peacefully living there (a.k.a. Colonialism). Who has any sympathy for the rapist?

Leaving aside the omissions in that story, the USA faces a graver set of circumstances than the animus between blacks and whites. In the background these weeks of protests, riots, looting, and arson is the disintegrating economy, which signifies that pretty much everybody in this land will not be able to keep on keeping on in the ways we’re used to. Everybody will have a harder time making a living. Everybody will endure shocking losses in wealth, status, and comfort. And, sadly, everybody will be too perplexed and bamboozled by the rush of events to understand why.

The short version of that story is we’ve overshot our resources, especially the basic energy resources that all other activities require. This mystifies the public, too, but you can boil it down to the cost of getting oil out of the ground being too high for customers and not high enough for the oil producers to cover their costs — a quandary. One result has been the rapid bankruptcy of the shale oil industry. Another is the incremental impoverishment of what used to be America’s broad middle-class — a malady that has, just for now, ring-fenced off the denizens of Wall Street, the notorious One Percent (of the population), who still luxuriate in zooming share prices and dividends while everybody else sucks wind in a ditch with-or-without the added affliction of Covid-19.

The perplexed and bamboozled include the entire leadership nucleus of the land, who seem starkly unable to act coherently in the tightening vortex of crisis. While Mr. Trump seems to dimly apprehend the urgent need for economic restructuring, he’s able to express it only in messages that sound like a 1961 Frigidaire commercial, with overtones of Marvel Comics superhero grandiosity. The president may understand that a country can’t consume stuff without producing stuff, but he doesn’t get that it’s too late to bring back all that activity at the scale we used to run it when he was a young man in the 1960s. His answer to the call of restructuring — what the Soviets called perestroika before they fell apart — is to pile on more debt, that is, borrow more from the future to pay for hamburgers today.

That dovetails neatly with the needs of the financial community, led by the hapless “Jay” Powell at the Federal Reserve, who is on a mission to destroy the US dollar in order to save the banking system and its auxiliaries in the stock markets. He literally doesn’t know what to do — except “print” more dollars to support share prices, a symbolic talisman of theoretical economics that has less and less to do with what people actually do on-the-ground in the hours when they’re not sleeping. It looks unlikely that the Fed will rescue either Wall Street or Main Street. The longer he props up the former at the expense of the latter, the more certain it is that it will provoke insurrection that goes well beyond the current hostilities.

Then there is the ever-seditious opposition to Mr. Trump, the Democratic Party and its Resistance allies. Race war is their latest “solution” to the woes of a disintegrating economy, which only adds social and cultural collapse to the darkening scene. Since much of the Resistance leadership is drawn from America’s intellectual class — the news media, the campus faculties, the honchos of bureaucracy, the politicized judiciary, and the performing monkeys of Hollywood — they will end up denouncing and eating each other in their zealous competition to bring down the hated Trump by inventing ever-fresh fantasies to justify destroying western civilization and all the horses it rode in on, namely: individual liberty, free inquiry in the pursuit of truth, the rule of and due process of law, and the consent of the governed.

Never in US history has there been a faction as dishonest as today’s Democratic Party or as habituated to the application of bad faith in political conflict. Their addiction to malicious hoaxes and engineered untruths knows no limits — and naturally so, since they are motivated primarily by the dream of dissolving all boundaries in policy, law, sexual relations, and personal conduct. They’ve been busy proving the past few weeks that they’re against the social contract as a basic proposition, exhorting for an end to law enforcement while inciting street violence, crimes against property, and murder.

Many voters are onto them, of course, so the Resistance is also determined to derail the 2020 elections by any means necessary, only starting with ballot fraud but surely escalating to new, innovative chicanes and disruptions. Their chosen candidate for president — that is, their putative “leader” — is an obvious empty vessel fronting for sinister forces in the background. They stuffed Joe Biden in a basement twelve weeks ago and have no intention of setting him loose on the landscape where he would reveal his unfitness with every breath he takes and every move he makes. The news media especially, in its bad faith role, pretends not to notice, but its minions are too self-important to realize that there are other ways for citizens to learn what is happening out there.

Events are rushing ahead at a pace you can barely follow. Summer begins in another week and why, now, would you expect any lessening in civil disorders? A heat wave is upon us here in the crowded eastern US at the end of this week, and that’s always an invitation to raucous behavior on the steamy streets. Have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi appealed to their followers to end their violence? Maybe I missed that. They are hinting at a return to Covid-19 lockdown conditions — but you can forget about anyone following that when the temperature tops ninety degrees (and certainly the Dem leadership knows that).

The devastation of small business, careers, livelihoods, households, and futures continues. Take measures to protect your own future, as far as possible. Put your energy into imagining how you can be helpful to other people, and perhaps incidentally earn their trust and their assistance in mutually beneficial ways. Think about finding a plausible place to live where the rule of law perseveres. Think about how you might fit into an economy run at a smaller scale. Start taking action on that thinking. There’s potential for a lot of people to get hurt in the disorders-to-come. There’s plenty you can do to not be one of them.

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

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If you don’t like the Democratic Party, what is your alternative? The Republican Party (and its backers) are promoters of all of these:

• gutting Social Security

• gutting Medicare and Medicaid

• gutting the Affordable Care Act

• gutting the Voting Rights Act

• voter suppression on an industrial scale

• gerrymandering on an industrial scale

• allowing PACs to run amok

• stacking the Supreme Court with stooges

• stacking the various Federal Courts with ideologues

• kowtowing to the Federalist Society on judicial appointments

• sacking Inspectors General if they speak out

• attacking Roe v Wade (how many Republican women really support this?)

• attacking family planning on an industrial scale

• attacking LGBTQ rights in all sorts of ways

• attacking worker rights and conditions of employment

• winding back industrial relations reforms

• winding back environment protection reforms

• giving huge tax breaks to billionaires to major corporations

• giving huge handouts to corporations rather than small business

Why would any working class or middle class person support any of this stuff? Trump hasn’t “drained the swamp” – he’s done the reverse … he’s filled every position with someone on the inside, who is totally conflicted. Foxes are running the chicken coop on every level.

Any MAGA hat-wearing working-class white out there would be nuts to support any of this stuff.

* * *


Waiting out the hailstorm 

As big as pingpong balls 

Maybe not 

But they're bouncing on the roof of the van 

Like angry Christmas ornaments 

It's all happening here 

Blue skies and lightening 

Neil Young and The Beatles 

In the old days 

Must have scared the shit out of everyone 

Man and beast 

Maybe these are the old days 

The beat slows down 

Soon it will be safe to move on 

Until the unseen gods of strange shit falling from the sky 

Strike again

 —Elliott Murphy 

* * *

(photo by Jan Wax)

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NBA PLAYERS FACE THE QUESTION: To Boycott or Not to Boycott

by Dave Zirin

Kyrie Irving, the All-Star point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, is often mocked in the press for being, shall we say, “out there” with his opinions on a wide array of subjects. It’s been debated whether he has been sincere or engaged in performance art, mocking the media’s willingness to take him seriously and furtively chase like mice whatever crumbs he throws in their direction. Yet there is nothing performative—not a hint of artifice—in the ideas that Irving is currently expressing.

Irving has organized a coalition of players who range from hesitant to militantly opposed to restarting the NBA season during the ongoing pandemic as sequestered employees in a bubble in Orlando. With news of recent coronavirus spikes in Florida, some players believe that resuming the season is fundamentally unsafe. But others, including Irving, have a different reason not to take the court right now: the national movement against racist police violence. These players think the issues of racial justice and stopping police violence are so pressing at the moment that the NBA runs the risk of becoming a distraction to the movement in the streets.

On a conference call with around 80 players, Irving said that he would be “willing to give up everything” for the cause. He also said, “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and bullshit. Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”

He isn’t alone in the belief that now is not the time for pro basketball. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was friends with George Floyd and has been leading struggle in the streets, said on Instagram:

I love the NBA, man. Now ain’t the time to be playing basketball, y’all. Playing basketball is going to do one thing: take all the attention away from the task at hand right now and what we’re fighting for.

These players are serious about the politics of what they are proposing, and the risks. Also on the conference call with players was 1968 Olympic bronze medalist Dr. John Carlos, who gave them an earful about the need for the struggles of the past. Carlos also gave his firsthand account of deciding whether to boycott or bring the politics to the field of play: the fundamental question that black athletes faced in the lead up to the 1968 games.

The group of rebels, which includes players from the WNBA and people who work in the entertainment industry, issued a statement to Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN that reads in part:

We are a group of men and women from different teams and industries that are normally painted as opponents, but have put our egos and differences aside to make sure we stand united and demand honesty during this uncertain time. Native indigenous African Caribbean men and women entertaining the world, we will continue to use our voices and platforms for positive change and truth.

We are truly at an inflection point in history where as a collective community, we can band together—UNIFY—and move as one. We need all our people with us and we will stand together in solidarity.

As an oppressed community we are going on 500-plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP [intellectual property]/Talent, and also still being killed by the very people that are supposed to “protect and serve” us.


This effort is already running up against obstacles. Two of the biggest mouths in sports media, Stephen A. Smith and Charles Barkley, have voiced their displeasure with Irving. Fans are up in arms. And, of course, there are NBA players, including union President Chris Paul and—the most powerful of them all—LeBron James, who all want to get back to the season.

The players who want to play say they want to use the rest of the season to promote social justice initiatives. And that’s what is most encouraging. No one is saying that they should shut up and dribble. It’s a tactical argument about what would make the greater impact: playing and spreading the message to fans about what needs to be done, or not playing and having the absence of the NBA speak louder than any on-court demonstration in the Orlando bubble ever could.

What is particularly fascinating is that it is not NBA Commissioner Adam Silver or union Executive Director Michele Roberts who are going to make the final decision. Silver has even said, “If a player chooses not to come, it’s not a breach of his contract. We accept that.” This will ultimately come down to what players want and how they feel they can most effectively agitate for change.

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ONCE I SAW BALTIMORE COPS with a black guy in restraints, coming into Western District Station. The man looked like a laborer—lean and heavily muscled. It was summer, him in an undershirt. I could see his arms and shoulders. He looked stark, staring mad. I can’t picture the restraints they had on him, only my startled impression that he had chains everywhere. He looked like the ghost of Jacob Marley.

This was many years ago. The Baltimore police, then predominantly white, were not especially nice to arrested black people. I’ve described an interaction here. This wasn’t like that. The man looked as scared as he looked dangerous. Several cops had hold of him. His eyes flamed red. He didn’t look like he was “on” anything as much as he just looked crazy. He didn’t speak. He just looked terrified and as if he would bolt if he could.

I would bet the police were familiar with this man. At first glance, I was worried for him. He looked like the kind of helpless, working-class black man they liked to pound on, but here’s my point: they didn’t. They treated him gently, almost tenderly. 

Nothing in the moment added up, not then or now, but it was clear they felt some concern for the man. I was a reporter, but I was no buddy of theirs, and nobody cared that I was standing there.

I don’t know why I can’t say more or whether I asked about the arrested man. Maybe it was the end of my day. Getting information from police is never fast. From this long distance, I have no reason to doubt my guess at the time, that the man was a mental patient suffering a relapse. I can only guess if he was present enough to realize what was going on. He looked like somebody who expected to be killed on the spot, while the police looked like cops who had no intention of harming their captive. End of story. In the florescent light of Western District on a hot Baltimore night, I watched a powerful black man treated with kindness by the police. I’ve always liked that memory.

Another memory I like is not old. I had to spend some time in San Diego. I noticed, to my wonder, that this pleasure-seeking, shallow-seeming, highly militarized, often corrupt city by the Mexican border, right next to Tijuana, appears to be blind to race. Black, white, Latino, whatever, all hang out at bars and clubs, on the streets, in the restaurants, the street events, sports events and bedrooms. I’m not fond of San Diego, but I saw this, this color-blindness, with considerable surprise and delight.

I saw it again, in Atlanta, decades ago—Atlanta, where it’s a capital offense to fall asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru. I was visiting the town and curious. I was downtown on a pleasant weekday when the office buildings flung open their doors for lunchtime, and all the folks came out and hit the street. Atlanta being Georgia, I expected a rigid apartheid scene at the streets and eateries. I was not disappointed to be wrong, but I was mildly amazed to notice there was absolutely no racial sorting as the execs and secretaries hit the sidewalks. Men and women walked along in the pleasant weather, in a financial capital, laughing and talking. There was a wonderful lightness in the air.

(As a footnote, being from Baltimore, I heard people say, “I’m not prejudiced, but it’s true they don’t smell the same.” At eighteen, I was sharing a cubicle with another paratrooper, a black man. If “strain your nose” were a thing, I might have used it as an expression. We all sweated, in Kentucky summers. At Ft. Campbell, we all wore the same clothes and sent them to the same laundry, all army. When you bunk an arm’s reach from your mate, you damn well know what he smells like. I got no whiff from Cooper, nothing strong enough to override my own sweat. I did notice, once when we showered at the same time, how bath-soap suds look on very dark skin. Kinda cool.)

Oh, and the media: On my way home, one evening in Baltimore, I checked in by phone and one of the city editors, Jack Kavanagh--he of the comically deep and gravelly voice--asked if I'd mind stopping by a place where they heard there was shooting. There were no police there yet. Pocket-size lobby inside the door, a flight of steps to the apartment on that floor, front door open. An African-American man lay there, face up, tidy, clean, white shirt, tidy little red hole in the middle of his chest, period. Shall I work this story? It's too late for the evening edition. Called Jack. He said "Signal eleven?" Code. "Signal eleven" meant the principals were black. "Yes." "Forget it." That's institutional racism for you. The media have always been aiders and abettors. Now they're in full voice for reform. Good!

We will work this out. There are drastic changes underway, but the race thing, so long postponed, will come out right.

(Mitch Clogg)

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 “PEOPLE ARE DYING from this virus who have never died before.”

— Donald Trump


  1. Jeff McMullin June 17, 2020

    Re the Prather Store photo:
    All that split rail old growth redwood fencing, which was once the expeditious and economical way to go, would cost you at least $50 per running ft today if you were lucky enough to find a material source.

  2. Mike Williams June 17, 2020

    Kunstler sounds more and more like a softer version of Alex Jones.

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