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MCT: Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH will bring relatively cooler air to northwest California Thursday, with a deep marine layer and more widespread and persistent coastal clouds. Stray thunderstorms might be found around the mountains of northern Trinity County this afternoon. Inland temperatures will be heating back up starting Friday. (NWS)

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January 21, 1967 - July 22, 2020 

Rick Salazar died at the age of 53 at his home on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 unexpectedly due to health complications. 

Rick Salazar was born in Santa Rosa, California to Margie Moreno and Stanley Willburn on January 21, 1967. He attended Healdsburg High School and played football for the Healdsburg Greyhounds. He met Laura (Galupe) Salazar while working at Kassin-Shubel Chevrolet in Healdsburg, Ca in 1987 and were together for thirty-one (31) years. 

Rick is survived by his wife Laura (Galupe) Salazar; his daughter Erika Marsh and grandson Savion DeAnda, son Gary (Aja) Jefferson, mother Margie (Luis) Moreno, sister Rene (Jeff) Silva, brother Luis Moreno Jr., sister Lisa Crow and brothers Marty Winn, Ralph Viviani along with many nieces, nephews, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. 

Rick was preceded in death by his Father Stanley Willburn; Grandmother Florence Hoagland Manuel and Grandparents Paul & Julia Ramirez. 

Rick was a Tribal Member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes a Sovereign Nation of Confederated Tribes. Rick was raised in his early years in Sonoma County and spent time throughout his teenage years in King County, Washington State. Rick later returned to Healdsburg and spent the remaining time of his life in Sonoma and Mendocino County. 

Rick worked at auto dealerships performing various jobs, employed at Iroc Landscaping Materials in Cloverdale, Ca, worked as Health & Safety Inspector for Middletown Rancheria Tribal Regulatory Agency, Security Officer at River Rock Casino then worked as a Security Officer for Allied Security where he eventually had to resign as a result of health issues. 

Rick enjoyed spending time in various parts of Alexander Valley, Oakland Raiders and Nascar events, listened to Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., Tim McGraw - Indian Outlaw and AC/DC. 

Special thanks to all the Physicians, Satellite Dialysis Centers, Nurses and to the Yorkville Community Benefit Association for all their care and support. 

Due to the Pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers and in his memory, a donation to the Yorkville Community Benefit Association in Yorkville, Ca would be greatly appreciated. P.O. Box 222, Yorkville, Ca 95494.

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COVID-19 DAILY UPDATE – 8/4/2020

10 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 341.

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Miller Report for the Week of August 3rd, 2020

by William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital

Mendocino County is experiencing an upswing in new cases of COVID-19. This is most significantly felt at our local nursing home in Ft. Bragg, Sherwood Oaks. An outbreak there began on July 3rd. Home to about 68 residents prior to the outbreak, Sherwood Oaks has seen a total of 22 residents test positive, 5 require hospitalization for illness and sadly 7 deaths. Fortunately, the 5 patients admitted to the hospital have all been slowly recovering. A total of 8 staff have been infected, none of them have become seriously ill and there have been no new cases in staff for over two weeks. Thus, the number who have fully recovered is 6 residents and 3 staff.

It should be made clear that Sherwood Oaks have taken this situation very seriously from the start and have been diligently following State and CDC guidelines. All of the nursing and administrative leadership at Sherwood Oaks are to be commended for their efforts thus far. However, despite these efforts, there continue to be one or two new cases every few days suggesting that other measures need to be employed. 

A task force of local health leaders was formed last week to bring all of our community resources together on this ongoing challenge. This included Will Maloney the administrator of Sherwood Oaks, Dr. John Cottle the medical director of Sherwood Oaks, Dr. Naomi Doohan our County Health Officer, Judy Leach as Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast hospital administrator, and myself, as well as several others. We concluded that the best way to stop the continued spread within the nursing facility is to bring all new COVID cases to the hospital.

“We appreciate the partnership with our local hospital,” said Mr. Maloney. “This move, along with some support from the State, will help our staffing situation much better in the future. I especially want to thank all of our dedicated staff here at Sherwood Oaks who have done a phenomenal job during this very difficult time.”

We are not making our hospital a “COVID hospital”, but instead coming together as a community to pool our resources. At this time, we have brought nine COVID positive residents over to the hospital. This is the same strategy that other counties are employing to try to get control of outbreaks in their nursing homes. Hospitals simply have more resources to deal with these patients and this allows for the residents remaining at the care home to be spread out to one per room as much as possible.

The challenge of this crisis has been compounded by a sudden nationwide shortage of COVID testing ability. A combination of factors are contributing to this new shortage including the increasing outbreaks nationally. As a result, turn around times for tests, which had improved down to 3-5 days are now taking over 10 days. Some of the recent community surveillance samples done through MCC are now at 16 days with no results. There seems little point in doing a test on someone who is without symptoms if the results are going to take over 14 days to come back, the length of time recommended for self-isolation.

The State Health Department issued guidelines for medical facilities to do testing only in patients who are symptomatic and admitted to hospitals, for healthcare workers who are symptomatic and for a few other limited populations including nursing home residents. As a result, many who desire to be tested because they may have been exposed are likely to be told that they will not be tested. I know that this is not what we are used to being told, and it is frustrating for all of us including the doctors who would like to order the test for you. 

The problem is at the federal level. The response to this pandemic at that level has been largely uncoordinated and insufficient. Writing to your local elected officials will not achieve much as the problem is much higher than at the county or even state level.

The most important things that we can all do remain so simple, yet so important. Wear a mask when in public. Avoid large groups, especially indoors. Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Stay socially distanced as much as possible. Only mingle without your mask within your own “social bubble” and make sure that everyone in that bubble doesn’t mingle outside the bubble.

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by Bill Swindell

Milla Handley, a pioneering female winemaker who founded Handley Cellars in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, died on July 25 from complications due to COVID-19.

Handley was 68.

She graduated from UC Davis in 1975 as one the first female graduates with a degree in fermentation science. Seven years later, she became the first female winemaker in the United States to start and own a winery under her own name.

“My mother was someone who fearlessly walked her own path,” Lulu McClellan, Handley’s daughter and the winery’s president, said in a statement. “She was passionate about making wine and working for herself, and never thought of herself as unusual or brave for pursuing these things at a time when it was rare to see women in these roles.”

Handley began in the wine business by working with legendary vintners such as Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean in the Sonoma Valley and later Jed Steele at Edmeades Winery in Geyserville. In 1982, she branched out and founded Handley Cellars in the then little-known Anderson Valley wine region.

“We think Anderson Valley is tough now, but when she came here, whew. You had to be very committed to being here,” said Randy Schock, the winery’s longtime co-winemaker who took over responsibilities when Handley retired in June 2017.

Handley made the move to Mendocino County with her husband, Rex Scott McClellan, as they believed the bucolic spot near the coast was a perfect place to raise their children. McClellan died in 2006.

The region also suited her winemaking skills. Handley was known for a light touch, and focused on lesser-known varietals that grew well in the area such as gewurztraminer and pinot gris.

“How many people are going to find a passion for gewurztraminer at the time and pinot gris and these other varietals?” Schock said.

While the Anderson Valley became known as one of the best areas to produce pinot noir in the United States, Handley continued to remain an evangelist for its white wines as well. She was active in the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association and played an important role in starting the Alsace Festival, now called the Winter White Wine Festival, which highlights the various white wine varietals grown in the region.

Handley Cellars later became recognized for the organically grown grapes on its estate vineyards, where it farmed such varieties as pinot noir, chardonnay and gewurztraminer. In 2005, the winery’s Handley Estate Vineyard became the first California Certified Organic Farmers vineyard in Anderson Valley. Today, it has about 35 acres of estate vineyards.

“It’s not chemistry over nature. It’s nature that drives everything,” Schock said.

Growing up in Los Altos, Handley had a love of animals, especially horses. In fact, she attended UC Davis because she could bring her horse to school. She studied veterinary science in college but later switched to enology after realizing that she didn’t like to dissect animals.

That love of animals carried over to farming. One time she discovered bears were invading her vineyard, taking the fruit and damaging vines at night. When she realized the bear trap installed on the property would result in the animal’s death, she decided to remove it.

“She said, ’I’d rather have less grapes in this vintage than tell the story about this is the year we killed the bear,’” Schock said. “Grapes are important ... but not so much she loses sight of being a mother and this animal lover.“

In addition to her daughter, Lulu, Handley is survived by another daughter, Megan Handley Warren; her sister, Julie Handley; and son-in-law Scott Peterson. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

(courtesy The Press Democrat)

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by Mark Scaramella

(Readers are encouraged to sing along)

Former Ag Commissioner Diane Curry posted the following comment on the AVA’s website on Tuesday:

“Remember back when the Cannabis Ordinance was just a sparkle in the County’s eyes? Our then Planning and Building head planner, Andy Gustafson stated that the project needed an EIR. Unfortunately for Mr. Gustafson, Supervisor McCowen disagreed. So as usual, what Supervisor McCowan wants Supervisor McCowen gets. Chuck Morse, the then Agricultural Commissioner and Mr. Gustafson knew this was going to be an issue with CDFA (state Deparment of Food & Ag), CDFW (Fish & Wildlife) and Cal Fire. I mean, it was apparent that an EIR was needed since CDFA was doing one for their project and repeatedly told the counties they would need to do their own EIR.

As for Cal Fire and CDFW, they DO NOT have a policy about cannabis cultivation. Their policy is enforcement. For example, Cal Fire would not negotiate about a 3 acre conversion for cannabis cultivation. That would require changes to their policies at the state level. The county had to prohibit commercial tree removal on resource lands in order for Cal Fire to sign off on the ordinance. The Department of Agriculture was working with CDFW to come up with an agreement about sensitive species and county staff doing the inspections, but in the county’s attempt to hasten the process and to point fingers at the departments that were slowing down the process, the collaborative efforts were lost. The fact that cannabis cultivation is not considered agriculture is a huge hurdle with all agencies. This was done intentionally at the state level in order NOT to give cannabis the protections under “The Right to Farm”. I truly believe that Mendocino county does not value it’s cannabis growers, after all, “they are just criminals”. I sat through many meetings where that phrase was emphasized over and over by our county leaders and Department heads. It was very disheartening.

Now, here we go again with more changes and delays? What is the end goal here? There are counties that are having success with cannabis cultivation and processing: Humboldt, Sonoma, Santa Barbara to name a few. Instead of Mendocino coming out and saying we don’t want cannabis cultivation here, they’re just going to make the process impossible or implement delay tactics.

The citizens of this county should support our cannabis industry. This county needs cannabis. Many of the resources that we have depended on in the past are dwindling. Why not give the cannabis industry the same protections that we give to agriculture in this county?”

Imagine what would happen if grape growers were required to:

Prepare a sensitive species review.

Limit their vineyard sizes.

Prepare a Bullfrog Management Plan.

Prepare a spotted owl impact statement.

Avoid impacting wetlands.

Scrupulously observe riparian zones on penalty of having their vines ripped out.

Scrupulously observe strict setbacks from property lines.

Not remove a single tree while planting or expanding, much less “moonscape” the land to plant grapevines.

Prepare an Oak Woodlands Impact statement and comply with an Oak Woodlands Protection Ordinance.

Not terrace their vineyards or put them on even modest slopes.

Never take water from a stream on penalty of having their vines ripped out.

Not create noise pollution from generators or light pollution from night operations that might bother the neighbors.

Apply for a use permit which amounts to a mini-Enviromental Impact and meet all kinds of mitigations and conditions imposed by Planning Department which would take months if not years for final approval.

And dozens of other requirements…

Then imagine what would happen if an existing grape grower was required to submit — retroactively — a Sensitive Species Review with no guarantee that it would pass muster and then their vineyard would be ripped out and they wouldn’t be allowed to sell wine if the Review showed their vineyard might have sensitive species impact.

Imagine all that…

Next, if you can imagine that, remember when the state water board asked grape growers to prepare and submit water management plans for the Russian River so that they weren’t all taking water at the same time? 

Response: Inland grape growers sued in Mendo Courts and won an injunction (which was, years later, overturned after the state appealed). Then the grape growers complied with this minimal request and never complained again. No real problem. No imagination.

Then remember when Mark Scaramella sued to ask Anderson Valley Grape growers to apply for a wind-fan permit (which the grape growers said they did but didn’t) so that vineyard neighbors could sleep on cool spring nights? Scaramella also asked the County to implement the grape growers claimed (but non-existent) permit process for wind fans.

Response: Mendo County Counsel filed a motion in court to require that Mr. Scaramella put up a $1 million bond before he could even sue. (It was denied, of course, but it cost Scaramella thousands of dollars in lawyer costs just to dispute it.)

On Tuesday, August 4 a small army of local self-described environmentalists appeared (virtually) in front of the Supervisors to tell them that any tinkering with or reform of Mendo’s completely failed pot permit ordinance might jeopardize the environment because of a (alleged) proliferation of permitted pot grows that, they say, would somehow spring up. (Apparently they missed the thousands of illegal grows that have already sprung up causing huge environmental impact, many of these growers are illegal because the pot permit program is broken.)

Have those “environmentalists” ever uttered a word of complaint about the enormous and real (not imagined) environmental impact of industrial grape growing? Did they join Scaramella’s suit? Did they submit comments to the Water Board defending the Board’s request for Water Management Plans? Have these environmentalists ever proposed vineyard size limits, much less “bullfrog management plans” and the rest of the panoply of rules, restrictions and costs imposed on pot growers trying to be legal?

No. Of course not.

Have the local permitted pot growers who are subject to these reams of onerous and costly and business killing restrictions and requirements ever filed complaints — much less sued! — to the County about the fundamental unfairness of letting grape growers do whatever they please while imposing every conceivable requirement and restriction and fees and costs on pot growers?

Has anyone ever said that maybe a happy medium for Mendo could be to impose some reasonable restrictions on grapes and pot by keeping as many of them both under a reasonable regulatory system with mitigated environmental impact and minimum outlaw grows?

Again: No.

PS. According to Mendocino County Chief Planner Julia Acker Krog, that “Sensitive Species Review” requirement — a complicated state environmental review process most cited as the single most costly and time-consuming step in the current pot permit process which if not completed can result in permit application denial — is imposed by Mendocino County’s current pot permit ordinance, and is not a requirement imposed by the State. Neighboring Norcal counties do not require it.

If imagining even a bit of parity between pot and grapes is beyond you as it seems to be for nearly everyone else in Mendocino County, then just imagine if Mendo could simply remove the Sensitive Species Review requirement from their ordinance…

Apparently, even this level of imagination is beyond Mendo. No one involved in Tuesday’s discussion of the pot permit program raised the question. Instead, they voted to create yet more ad hoc committees to flail away at the failed pot permit program.

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On Friday, July 17-2020 at approximately 10:10 PM, a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff attempted to make a traffic stop on a Toyota Tacoma for an observed vehicle code violation in downtown Point Arena.

The driver, who was later identified as Marc Lucas, 50, of Point Arena, failed to yield to the Deputy’s emergency lighting and siren and a vehicle pursuit was initiated. This pursuit spanned just over eight miles and was terminated when the Deputy lost sight of the vehicle in the area of Ten Mile Road and Iverson Drive.

Based on the positive identification of Lucas, who was known to be on active parole from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer, Deputies sought and obtained an arrest warrant for the apprehension of Lucas for Felony Evading and Felony Evading – Wrong Way Driving.

Over the course of the next 12 days, Deputies searched numerous locations on the south coast for Lucas, without success. Based on the above information, a CDCR Parole Officer petitioned the Mendocino County Superior Court for a parole warrant, which was granted on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

On Saturday, August 1, 2020 at approximately 1:44 PM, Deputies and a California Highway Patrol Officer were actively looking for Lucas in the 29000 block of Albion Ridge Road, when he drove past them in his Toyota Tacoma.

Deputies were able to clearly see and identify Lucas and they attempted to stop him in his vehicle; however, Lucas again refused to stop. Deputies pursued Lucas for over two miles and he turned onto Albion Ridge “I” Road, where his vehicle came to a stop.

Lucas exited his vehicle and partially removed what he told Deputies was an SKS semi-automatic assault style rifle.

Deputies verbally instructed Lucas to drop the rifle and to surrender.

Lucas refused to cooperate and stood in the open door of his vehicle with his hand on the butt-stock of the rifle.

Lucas demanded Deputies leave him alone and threatened to shoot any Deputies that attempted to take him into custody.

Lucas told Deputies that he would use his vehicle to ram through the patrol vehicles that were at the location; he later intentionally crashed his vehicle into the front of a patrol vehicle that was blocking him, while Deputies and a CHP Officer were using the vehicle to shield them from any potential gun fire from Lucas.

A Sheriff's Deputy attempted to use K9 “Takoda” to apprehend Lucas. When Lucas observed the K9, he quickly entered his vehicle and repeatedly slammed the door closed, smashing the dog’s head between the edge of the door and door jamb.

Lucas exited the vehicle and a Sheriff's Sergeant attempted to use a Taser device to incapacitate Lucas, without success.

Lucas then obtained a gasoline can from the back of his vehicle and poured gasoline over his body and the interior of the vehicle. Lucas threatened to “blow up” himself and Deputies near him.

Lucas then barricaded himself inside his vehicle and remained there until the arrival of the Mendocino County Multi-Agency Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

The SWAT Citizen Rescue Vehicle (Armored) was positioned near Lucas’ vehicle and several hours of attempted de-escalation and negotiations were met with no cooperation from Lucas.

At around 7:50 PM, SWAT members executed a plan that was developed to use a fire hose to introduce water into Lucas’ vehicle to reduce the risk of any fire or explosion with the ultimate goal of minimizing any potential injuries to Lucas or SWAT members.

The Albion Little-River Volunteer Fire Department agreed to assist SWAT members by parking a fire engine a safe distance away and running the pump.

SWAT members deployed a fire hose to the side of Lucas' vehicle and began flushing the gasoline out of the vehicle.

After approximately 15 seconds of introducing water into the cab of the vehicle, Lucas exited the vehicle and Mendocino County Sheriff's SWAT K9 “Bo” was deployed and took control of Lucas. SWAT members quickly overpowered Lucas by tackling him to the ground and placed him under arrest without further incident.

Lucas was provided first aid from the SWAT Paramedic at the scene and he was transported to a local hospital for a medical clearance.

The firearm that Lucas brandished and claimed was an SKS semi-automatic assault type rifle was determined to be an air powered pellet rifle.

Lucas was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the following offenses:

2800.2 CVC (Felony Evading)

2800.4 CVC (Felony Evading - Wrong Way Driving)

69 PC (Resisting Arrest with Force or Threat of Violence)

245(c) PC (Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer)

3000.08 PC (State Parole Warrant)

2800.2 CVC (Felony Warrant for Felony Evading)

2800.4 CVC (Felony Warrant for Felony Evading - Wrong Way Driving)

Due to Lucas’ parole status, he is being held at the Mendocino County Jail without bail.

A charge of 600 PC (Interference with Police Dog) is being submitted to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of prosecution.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the residents of Albion Ridge for their cooperation and support during this seven hour incident.

The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank our public safety partners from the following agencies that assisted in the safe resolution of this incident:

Chief Rees and the Albion Little-River Volunteer Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, Ukiah Police Department, Fort Bragg Police Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks.

Written By: Sheriff’s Sergeant Ze Lima #1224


Does anyone know how many law enforcement personnel were on the scene? 

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At least 15 law enforcement vehicles, including their armored personnel carrier, and one volunteer fireman with a hose.

Wow! That's quite a presence for a single 5150.

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Yes, but their combined presence kept local residents safe, and ultimately made it possible to arrest the suspect without physical harm to anyone. Which I do not believe would have been possible without that presence.

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Sad that no one bothers to ask, or even seems to care what crime Lucas committed, or what circumstances led to this ridiculous scenario.

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What was he suspected of? A former warrant for evading police and threatening police? Another article said he was an assailant. But I do not see anywhere that he actually assaulted anyone. Did he actually threaten someone who called the police?

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Exactly. According to local reporting on MendoFever, Sheriff Matt Kendall said Mark Lucas "is a known felon on parole who had a ramey warrant for reckless evasion and threats against a police officer."

A Ramey warrant "is an arrest warrant issued by a judge or magistrate before the prosecutor has filed formal charges. To obtain a Ramey warrant, a police officer submits a declaration of probable cause to a magistrate. If the magistrate is satisfied that probable cause to arrest exists, he or she issues the warrant directing police to locate and apprehend the suspect."

So it looks like LE came to Mr. Lucas' door on a Saturday, for reasons the Sheriff' Dept has still not made public, and found a very grumpy ol' Albion ex-fisherman, and it took off from there.

Marc worked as a diver tender in the urchin industry glory days of the 90's, probably still in his twenties, so I spent more than a couple days out on the ocean with him. Although somewhat of a trouble-bound knucklehead, I do remember an ironic sense of humor with accompanying contagious horselaugh. Seemed like a harmless kid.

If Lucas did something to warrant an immediate heavy police response, they certainly haven't said as much, and they damn well ought to. If they instigated this, we also ought to know.

As I said, Lucas had an ironic sense of humor, and holding off a battalion of highly paid "peace officers" for six hours with a Bic lighter says it all.

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"If Lucas did something to warrant an immediate heavy police response, they certainly haven't said as much, and they damn well ought to. If they instigated this, we also ought to know."

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Marco here. Yes, I wondered if you had, because the article [SO Presser] has all the information in one place and answers all your questions about miles this way and miles that way, why they were chasing him, what he was in trouble for in the first place, what kind of a danger he presented to himself and others, and what happened to his face.

I don't know him very well. I've seen him around. The only time I remember actually talking to him, except to say hi in passing, was twenty-five years ago, in the Albion Grocery, when he was stiffly angry because I'd printed in Memo something someone else wrote involving a man named Pennybaker. Marc told me how upset he was that I printed something about his friend, and I said, "Thank you for sharing." He looked confused, turned away and left. Someone else in the store said to me, "Do you know who that is." I said no. They told me, and they said it's not a good idea to piss that kid off, and I filed it away under so what, because so what?

Marco McClean

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From Sam Gitchel:

This fellow doused, in a heavily wooded area, himself and his truck with gasoline and had a lighter in his hand. He also told LE that he had an SKS assault rifle and was going to kill them and blow up the area… Where is the LE over reaction??? He could have burned down the entire neighborhood easily. His actions were reckless and extremely dangerous. Take a walk down I road. The stench of the gasoline is still there. I say our authorities did a great job and Marc Lucas is lucky to still be alive. I dare say that outcome would most likely not happen in a situation such as this, in many other localities. Mr. Lucas has a long sordid history here in Albion and the sheriff’s responders were here looking for him hours before this incident. I hope that finally he gets the help he needs. My opinion.

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They used the dog so he couldn't fire his weapon or run. According to the police report/press release, they sicced the dog on him after hitting him with a high-pressure fire hose, and I can't see how anyone would be much of a threat after being hosed like that. Since it's all speculation on our part, it's pointless to argue, especially since the only "facts" we have are the ones reported by LE, and these accounts can sometimes be exaggerated and/or inaccurate, to say the least. There better be some body cam footage so we can see what really happened.

Fire hoses, vicious dogs...Where are we, Mendocino or Selma, Alabama?

As far as slighting the "difficult decisions made to protect this neighborhood" — everyone needs to be protected, even those accused of a crime, and no one deserves to be maimed for life by some Bozo with a Bo.

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On 08/03/2020 09:50 PM, JD Streeter wrote:

Just had some scat in my yard confirmed: coyote. Now, I don't know what you know about wildlife, but I can tell you from experience that the coyote is the most dangerous to human life. The reason is they are essentially wild dogs. Wolves, bears, and mountain lions are naturally cautious of humans and avoid us when possible. But coyotes have no such reservations and will attack and kill anything it believes it family groups or even alone. The only thing more dangerous is a crazy human being with a weapon. Walk outside with friends and never alone if you live in the woods and don't leave your pets on the porch. Sincerely, jd. 

California coyotes only average about 25 to 30 lbs, unless you're in some parts of the sierras where they're slightly bigger. Most of a coyote is just fur and fluff. The only places where coyotes are even remotely a danger is in Nova Scotia, upstate Maine, parts of NH and maybe parts of upstate NY. There have been a (very few) incidents with them there. Some populations of the far northern Eastern coyotes are wolf-coyote hybrids that can average over 50 lbs, big enough to take down deer when in packs. Even then, they avoid people. They're extremely smart animals and very interesting. There's a few documentaries on them online that you would probably enjoy watching. Maybe you're family is from the south and you've heard stories. The red wolf is also a coyote-wolf hybrid and often confused for a coyote. But they're rare now and very shy. They seem to be a little smaller than the hybrids in upstate Maine. Coyote-wolf hybrids will absolutely try to ambush dogs. It does happen sometimes. I've seen it personally and have talked to others with first hand experiences. It's more of a wolf habit. But they're not in California and even in Maine or Texas they're not going to do that to people. You yourself don't need to be afraid of coyotes. They will eat your cat but they aren't going to hurt you unless someone corners them or tries to pet them or something. Cougars and raccoons will eat your cat too BTW. 

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From: Anderson Valley Village <>

 Monthly Zoom Gathering: Living Well while Sheltering in Place and Trivia!

Sunday August 9th, 4 to 5:30 pm (if you need to leave @ 5 no worries)

For the first 30 min we will have a Share-Out on Strategies that have.

Helped Folks Live Well during the Pandemic.

Then from about 4:30 to 5:30pm we will have our first AVV Trivia game with our Trivia Master Anica Williams!

In addition, members will have the option to get 1:1 help by logging in 10 minutes early (at 3:50 pm) if you would like a brief tutorial on the Zoom (Chat, video option, gallery view vs active speaker) and then have volunteers walk people through these features for the phone, tablet, and computer. Please let us know if you are planning on logging on early and we can make sure you get help. 

Zoom link below - please RSVP with the coordinator so we can get an idea of attendance, thank you. (

Anderson Valley is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Monthly Gathering: Living Well while Sheltering in Place and Trivia!

Time: Aug 9, 2020 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 434 337 6734

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Meeting ID: 434 337 6734

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To the Editor:

Dear Supervisors John Haschak, Carre Brown, John McCowen, Dan Gjerde, and Ted Williams:

I am extremely disappointed with Mendocino BOS including my District Supervisor Dan Gjerde who voted to approve a contract with USDA Wildlife Services to lethally trap native predators, over the advice of many experts and overwhelming public comment, and against the tide of young ranchers who have proven methods for coexistence. I appreciate the dissenting vote from Ted Williams and John Haschak. I am, however, very disappointed in Supervisor Gjerde. I voted for him with the hopes he had the opportunity to learn and do better, yet my faith was disappointed on this issue. I suggest you read the article linked above to learn more.

Contemporary science as well as MANY Mendo County livestock farmers’ track records have proven the success of non-lethal practices, which allow livestock to graze on the border of State Forest lands in the presence of well populated wildlife and frequent interactions with the public in a way that is safe for livestock, people, and the wildlife that naturally live around and among them. The Department of Agriculture ran statistics that illustrate more farm animals are killed on an annual basis by domestic dogs than mountain-lions, bobcats, wolves, and bears COMBINED.

But the deeper issue that absolutely needs to be addressed by each of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, is the default *culture* practiced by “predator awareness” groups and by Wildlife Services employees of bullying and intimidation. I am sure you have received by now, if not read, the letter to you, Board of Sups, from Gowan Batist (featured in the Ukiah Daily News June 12th article above) for her sheep farming and non-lethal wildlife management. In that letter to you, that she shared with her community and your constituents, she reported receiving threatening phone calls from Mendocino County trapper, current USDA Wildlife Services employee AND named individual in the lawsuit that suspended USDA Wildlife Services contract in Caspar, Chris Brennan. If you have not read it yet, I recommend you give it your immediate and full attention. I have friends who have been harassed, mocked, and blocked on social media by local “predator awareness” groups for nothing more than citing the Department of Agriculture statistics mentioned above. It is a culture of intolerance, bullying and intimidation. And it is unconscionable. This is not the way to win votes and it is not democratic. We need to work on dismantling it and you hold the platform and leadership to do so.

Please let your constituents know how you are addressing the deep need to dismantle the status quo of bullying and intimidation tactics used by any government agency or private business contracted by our county that our tax dollars are paying for, AND hold accountable those who have been involved in these tactics.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this issue.

– Kyra Rice, Mendocino Coast and Mendocino County resident

* * *


* * *


It appears the coast supervisors (4th District Supe Dan Gjerde & 5th District Supe Ted Wiliams) went along this "end run" to increase housing for the Fort Bragg homeless without the courtesy of contacting city officials. The discussion, we understand, came up during the last "Measure B" meeting - but the city was never notified.

The amount of money to purchase a motel is staggering - alleged to be $1.3 million. Which brings up the questions: "Who knew what when? And when were they going to inform the City?"

Here is a letter the City of Fort Bragg sent to the Supervisors:

"Good morning Board of Supervisors,

The City of Fort Bragg is committed to providing affordable housing for all. This goal can only be attained through a transparent process that includes its citizens and City Council. Only after establishing a clear understanding of what is needed and by whom, should the Council move forward with seeking funding to purchase and provide adequate and affordable housing.

Last week, the Homeless Ad Hoc Committee members were approached by county staff to explore the possibility of grant funds related to 'Project Homekey,' the next phase in the state of California's effort to house the homeless during the pandemic and beyond.

At a July 29th meeting, County CEO Carmel Angelo pushed for the City of Fort Bragg to make a decision to identify a hotel or motel property for purchase, using Project Homekey funding through the county’s application to the state.

The hotel or motel property in or very near Fort Bragg had to be identified prior to by August 13, 2020, when the grant application is due, and must be occupied by December, 2020. 

Faced with identifying a hotel or motel in town to convert to homeless housing in less than two weeks, we explained the failures associated with a similar project, the Old Coast Hotel (Hospitality Center) only a half-decade ago.

We further reminded the county officials how this situation divided our community and continues to do so. In that light, moving forward in haste simply because a large amount of money may be available does not seem to be in the best interest of the community. Making decisions in haste is a practice the current City Council has endeavored to change. Rather, we strive for more professionalism and plans that are well thought out.

Surrendering another hotel or motel in Fort Bragg to this project without due consideration would have a direct negative effect on the City's general fund in the form of lost transient occupancy tax (TOT). More than likely a hotel/motel of choice would be conspicuously on Main Street.

We are a tourist destination and this could easily affect other lodging establishments. With homeless numbers having continued to decline in the past three years, this project may make Fort Bragg a go-to stop for transient homeless.

An opportunity to really evaluate the needs and fit for our community would place the City and County in a position to apply for the second round of Project Homekey funding or future funding offered by the state. 

Perhaps the need for alternative housing is what’s best for Fort Bragg.

For example, low income, family, workforce, affordable housing available for purchase by locals or veteran housing done on a scale that is appropriate to our needs and capacity. The City of Fort Bragg has been working with Danco over the last few years to secure support and funding for an affordable housing project (the Plateau Project).

This would create sixty-eight affordable housing units, a manager's unit, and other in common structures at 441 South Street. Twenty-three of these structures will provide family/workforce housing; twenty-five units of affordable/low income senior housing; as well as twenty units of permanent supportive housing (PSH). This project will be completed in the next year and half. 

It is expensive to live on the Mendocino Coast. Job opportunities are sparse. In the midst of a pandemic, our focus should be on economic recovery not doubling down on an increase in homeless population.

City of Fort Bragg Mayor Appointed Homeless Ad Hoc Committee

Vice-Mayor, Bernie Norvell

Councilmember, Jessica Morsell-Haye

City Manager, Tabatha Miller"

(via MendocinoSportsPlus)

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, August 4, 2020

Berry, Gonzalez, Herrera, Killion

SPENCER BERRY, Modesto/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.

MANUEL GONZALEZ, Willits. Probation revocation.

JESUS HERRERA, Willits. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.

CODY KILLION, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.

Mashhoon, Onto, Orellana

MARJAN MASHHOON, Hillsborough/Hopland. Disorderly conduct-intoxicating drug with alcohol.

FRANKY ONETO JR., Redwood City. Parole violation.

DAVID ORELLANA, Fort Bragg. Fugitive from justice.

* * *

THE CENTERPIECE of a keeping people whole strategy should be the continuation of the $600 weekly supplements to unemployment checks. We can debate whether $600 is the right sum, but unemployment benefits have fallen far below the levels that would allow millions of workers to sustain anything close to their normal living standards through a period of prolonged unemployment. In order for millions of workers who are unemployed due to the pandemic to be able to pay their mortgage or rent and cover other unavoidable expenses, it will be necessary to have a substantial supplement to normal benefits. 

— Dean Baker

* * *


* * *


Yet there are soft hints sprinkled throughout one’s coming of age.

Did your mother often sigh, exasperated after the latest unimpressive report card, “there’s always the civil-service”?

Recommended for shop, technical, home-ec, vocational school?

*I have a feeling they may no longer exist.

When the military recruiters came trolling for low-hanging fruit at your high school did the counselor cough-up your name?

This does not preclude one from having a successful future, or a rewarding future. It merely suggests your capabilities may lie somewhere other than the formal erudition of higher education. Regrettably, learning tradecraft, a process of tacit knowledge transference, bears the stigma of stupidity. Yet how many people of trade be it a medical doctor to an electrician to an architect to a machinist to a lawyer are geniuses at their craft but, peculiarly, seriously deficient in common sense or general knowledge? 

But colleges became a right, then a land grant, then a big business. Many of the aforementioned outgrew their immaturity, became better traditional students, and proved many wrong. More did not. They became ambulance chasers, insurance agents, salesmen, a corner cubicle manager in an office park.

They made it, somehow. So of course they’re smart: see the sheepskin above the Dell? A generation of Dunning-Krugers, with the financial debt and the raised seal certificate to prove it.

Well, that’s what society asks for, and well, that’s what society gets.

Empty goalposts and dim lodestars.

* * *


Boomers show ‘shocking’ decline in cognitive functioning compared to previous generations, study says.

* * *


Dear Editor,

The Garberville Sanitary District (GSD) was inspected by the State Water Resource Control Board-Division of Drinking Water (DDW) on July 21. DDW found possible drinking water contamination violations in a treated water storage tank (Robertson Tank) in the Meadows Subdivision which included "rotting carcasses" inside the 50,000 gallon drinking water storage tank.

Why did it take 10 days for GSD to notify the customers being served drinking water directly from that storage tank of the health and safety concern of this inspection and remediation. Since the 7/21/20 inspection by DDW, there was a monthly public meeting of the GSD Board of Directors (7/28/20), with the DDW inspection listed on the meeting agenda. However, during that agenda item at the meeting, this is all Ralph Emerson described to the GSD Board and public concerning that inspection: "So on last Tuesday, the 21st, there was an inspection by the State Waterboard. Ronnean Lund and an intern, or some other person working with her showed up and was here all day. They started at the office and looked over operational plans and consumer confidence reports and wanted to know about those. Then Dan and Brian took her out to the field to look at the tanks and pump houses. She will be sending a summary of the inspection with any violations, remediations, recommendations if she finds any. And she also found that the two water tanks we are applying for grants for replacements, they’re leaking which you knew that, so she probably will get more involved with those tanks and hopefully help us secure funding with the grants that are already in the works, or the process, so hopefully she can help push that along. We’ll get the funding sooner so we can replace or improve the tanks but that will have to be engineered also." DDW sent an email to GSD on 7/27/20 (see attachment). Besides describing what was found during the inspection ("rotting carcasses"), DDW advised GSD to discuss this violation during the 7/28/20 GSD public board meeting. And as you can read above, this concern was not addressed or discussed concerning what was found in the Robertson Tank whatsoever. Back on May 22, 2020, Ralph Emerson circulated a Press release to local media outlets, which can be viewed here:

In part, Emerson stated: "The Garberville Sanitary District Board Members are the ‘Very Best’ among you and are dedicated to serving their community, but rather than speak negatively about the Board Members who voluntarily serve you; Thank them for their willingness to work on your behalf while providing fiscally responsible oversight of the service charges received and daily operations to provide safe water service for your consumption.." "As the General Manager of Garberville Sanitary District, I expect judgement of my performance because it is my responsibility to administer the policies of the Board while developing operational improvements and providing fiscal oversight. What is not acceptable is making derogatory comments about the Garberville Sanitary staff who work all hours of day and night as needed for your water demands while providing friendly customer service. They are dedicated to providing the best service possible and deserve more than they are paid because of the ongoing education and licenses they must have, along with the complex compliancy demands of the State and County Regulatory Agencies." How many other health and safety concerns have existed that the GSD Board or staff does not feel need to be disclosed to their ratepayers, customers or the general public at large?

Thank you,

Ed Voice & Voice Family, Former Garberville & Redway resident and homeowner 1961-2015

* * *


by Michelle Hutchins, County Superintendent of Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges none of us could have imagined a year ago. As confirmed cases rise in Lake and Mendocino Counties, school boards are forced to choose between unpleasant options: distance learning or a return to the classroom with unprecedented restrictions, both of which make it harder for teachers to teach and students to learn. 

Information about how COVID-19 spreads changes as scientists around the globe share new discoveries. One day, the data suggest we can return to the classroom safely and days later, public health experts tell us we cannot. It’s frustrating for everyone—families with schoolchildren, teachers, administrators, and employers. In addition to worrying about everyone’s health and safety, the inability to plan has strained already frayed nerves.

The general consensus of educators, backed by scientific research, tells us that in-classroom education is by far the best for most students—academically, socially, and emotionally—unless being in the classroom puts them at risk of contracting and/or spreading a deadly virus, of course. I thought it would be interesting to hear from the students themselves, so I asked several of them to share their thoughts, to tell me about teachers they appreciate, things they like about school, and what they would change if they could wave a magic wand. I spoke with children as young as fourth grade and as old as a junior in high school, boys and girls, public school and charter school, inland and coastal. Here’s what they told me.

Our teachers do an amazing job connecting with kids.

Every student could quickly name a teacher who’d had a positive influence on them, often several teachers. 

A junior from Redwood Academy said her history teacher, Mr. Cimmiyotti, brought historical figures to life by sharing anecdotes that made them real (and often made her laugh). 

A fourth grader from Oak Manor Elementary School said, “I liked Mr. Butler because in Kindergarten, I was a goofball and I was really funny, and he came in and he was exactly the same… I learned a lot—a lot, a lot. At the end of the school year, he made a treat for us of chocolate pudding, then he crushed Oreos like dirt, and then he put in gummy worms – so then it looked like soil because [during a class project] we planted a seed and watched it grow.”

A freshman at Ukiah High School appreciated his middle school science teacher, Mr. Percy, who started a band and invited students to practice after school until they were good enough to perform at a school rally. The student also loved Mr. Percy’s hands-on science projects “like rockets and CO2-powered cars.” 

I heard example after example of teachers connecting with students, finding ways to engage them through humor, hands-on projects, and common interests. The students I spoke with felt seen, heard, and cared for, and this helped them learn.

Students miss being at school

Whether students reported liking school or not, every single one wanted to return to “normal” school. They miss their friends, they miss having a distraction-free environment with the tools and technology to do assignments, and many of them miss interacting with their teachers. Yet, when I asked if they wanted to go back to the classroom based on what they know right now, they said they felt more comfortable with full distance learning. They worried that returning to the classroom would put them and/or their families at risk.

Even with a magic wand, they wouldn’t change much

When I asked students what they would change about pre-COVID school, given the option, many said they wouldn’t change a thing. They talked about how their schools make them feel safe and welcome, using examples like the Buddy Bench at Oak Manor Elementary where students sit if they don’t have someone to play with and other kids immediately invite them to join in. They talked about how much fun they have with their friends and how much they learn from their teachers.

They did, however, have some recommendations to improve distance learning. In a nutshell, they asked for a consistent schedule and more interaction. Many of them said they feel lonely and having a routine with more interaction would help. They also noted that distance learning made it harder to keep track of assignments and that poor internet connections sometimes made online interactions feel disjointed and frustrating. 

Let’s take a page from their books

After speaking with these students, I felt so encouraged. They made no secret of the fact that they are struggling in the midst of this pandemic, but their resilience shined through. They didn’t blame others or point fingers, and they enthusiastically jumped in to brainstorm on ways to solve problems. As a society, we often discount the wisdom of children when we shouldn’t. They are listening and learning from us all the time. If we were smart, we’d spend a little more time listening and learning from them.

* * *


* * *


by Ralph Nader

Years ago, Elizabeth Brennan Moynihan told me about her disgust with the Democratic Party’s outside consultants. These consultants were not competent. They were arrogant, costly, and looking out first for their own interests, not the candidates they were supposed to advance. She threw them out and personally took over her husband, Senator Daniel P. Moynihan’s successful re-election campaign.

Bill Curry, former counselor to President Bill Clinton and later a cogent critic of the “Arkansas sweet talker” said these consultants stay hired even after losing election after election. They blame the candidates, not themselves, nor the way they misshape the strategies and insipid television ads (from which they take a 15% cut).

Curry said these repeat offenders, whom he noted, make much of their money from corporate clients, have a clear conflict of interest, and are an ongoing menace to the Party.

I was reminded of their observations when I received two fundraising letters from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Elected politicians long ago stopped writing their own appeals for campaign dollars. This chore is farmed out to well-paid and wealthy consultants flaunting their supposed smooth expertise. They must have scoured their brilliant insights to come up with this doozy on the envelope – “R.Nader, I Won’t Back Down. Are You With Me?” 

I wonder how much the consultant was paid to think that defensive and vague message would tempt voters to tear open their mail and lunge for the return envelope to send the dough.

Bear in mind, this is the age of a Trumpian criminal enterprise and a destructive, rampant lawlessness, a hyper-corrupt Trump regime stiff-arming the people daily on the behalf of the giant corporate supremacists. And Nancy tells us she’s not backing down. Wow – what political ambition it takes to defend expensive Obamacare (that still left 30 million people uninsured and more than double that number underinsured), instead of bucking up to support full Medicare for All. The Medicare for All Act, (H.R.1384) would create a system that is more efficient and lifesaving with free choice of doctors and hospitals.

Playing defense embeds itself in Nancy’s survey included in the fundraising appeal. We are asked to rank the following:

(1) Defending choice (without adding maternal, neonate, and childcare).

(2) Stopping voter suppression (without expanding known ways to surge voter turnout).

(3) Protecting social security (instead of also expanding this lone barrier to severe elderly poverty and repealing the huge Trump tax cut for the rich and corporations. Note that both were pressed for by the ignored Bernie Sanders campaign).

(4) “Fighting climate change and opposing Trump’s weakening environmental laws” (instead of displacing fossil fuels and recognizing the objectives of the Green New Deal advanced by Democratic Party Progressives).

No mention of law and order for corporate crime and runaway costly corporate welfare, and no mention of telling bungling, dangerous Trump to step aside to let pandemic scientists, doctors, and managers run the federal effort to suppress the spreading Covid-19 disaster.

Of course, a letter can only contain a few top defensive issues. So, the House Speaker gives us a line titled “other”, “to hear from” us as, she adds, our “opinions are important.”

Fair enough Nancy, see the four letters by me and constitutional law specialists with important opinions that were not even acknowledged much less responded to by your office.

I believe our proposals – available to all incumbents and challengers – will help citizens and Congress take America closer to the just rule of law and constitutional observance which will enable a better life for the people and the environment of our country.

Granted your letter was very focused on winning elections. But winning elections without enabling basic mandates that translate into good livelihoods can leave voters with that familiar empty post-election letdown malady. May we hear from you?

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

* * *

THE ONLY WAY one can speak of nothing is to speak of it as though it were something, just as the only way one can speak of God is to speak of him as though he were a man, which to be sure he was, in a sense, for a time, and as the only way one can speak of man, even our anthropologists have realized that, is to speak of him as though he were a termite.

— Samuel Beckett

* * *

IN EVERY GREAT AMERICAN CRISIS, there is a moment where the whole world can see the true character of a President. For George W. Bush it came when he was photographed staring down from the luxurious comfort of Air Force One on the wreckage wrought by Hurricane Katrina. For Bill Clinton, it came with his infamous 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky' declaration. For President Donald J. Trump, there have been many grim moments during his catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic that may end up defining his presidency. But last night, during an extraordinary, toe-curling HBO interview with AXIOS's Jonathan Swan, he exposed just why the US has become a horrifyingly bad template for how NOT to combat Covid-19. The World Health Organisation yesterday reported there have been 17,918,582 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, and 686,703 deaths. Of these, America has had 4,582,276 cases, which is 25% of the global total, and 153,757 deaths which is 22% of the global total. So whichever way you look at the numbers, the United States is doing catastrophically badly. Trump knows it, everyone knows it. But he also knows if he admits it, it may cost him the election in November. So, he's now reduced to lying, obfuscating, deflecting, and anything else he can think of to avoid being held accountable for what has happened on his watch.

— Piers Morgan

* * *


Press release from the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC):

In a major victory, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) in a case impacting fragile post-fire forest in the Mendocino National Forest. The court found that the Forest Service’s use of a “categorical exclusion” to avoid an environmental impact assessment for a timber sale following the 2018 Ranch Fire was likely a violation of the law and that EPIC should have been awarded an injunction by the lower court to stop logging. The Ninth Circuit’s decision is available here. 

“The Mendocino National Forest attempted to skirt the National Environmental Policy Act to fast track logging after the 2018 Ranch Fire, despite the many important and significant potential impacts to the environment,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “Today’s ruling is an affirmation of NEPA’s central purpose: a careful study of the potential environmental impacts and the inclusion of the public in management decisions of public land.”

In 2018, the Ranch Fire burned a significant portion of the Mendocino National Forest. In response, the Mendocino National Forest authorized a series of commercial timber sales near roads within the forest. To avoid environmental review required by NEPA, the Mendocino National Forest attempted to shove these timber sales under a “categorical exclusion” to the ordinary requirements to prepare a document. Although a categorical exclusion for post-fire timber operations existed, the Forest Service did not employ this exclusion because they would be limited in the total acreage they could log. Instead, the Forest Service employed a different, ill-fitting categorical exclusion that allowed for “[r]epair and maintenance of road” including “[p]runing vegetation” to authorize these timber sales.

EPIC challenged this project and sought an injunction to ongoing timber operations. The Northern District of California denied EPIC’s injunction and EPIC appealed (with an oral argument by Zoom and livestreamed to Youtube) to the Ninth Circuit. Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit sided with EPIC, with a 2-1 decision finding that EPIC should have been awarded its injunction. The Court ultimately found that “Under no reasonable interpretation of its language does the Project come within the [categorical exclusion] for ‘repair and maintenance’ of roads.”

This ruling has big implications for our National Forests moving forward. Under the Trump Administration, EPIC has seen a widespread abuse of this categorical exclusion to fast track logging projects without environmental review or public participation.

* * *

THE REASON WOMEN ARE CRITIQUED for being too loud or too meek, too big or too small, too smart to be attractive or too attractive to be smart, is to belittle women out of standing up publicly. The goal is to 'critique' them into submission. And that applies to anyone challenging power. 

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

* * *


By Jonathan Chait

* * *

* * *


by Katie Dowd

Stephanie Bryan was 14 years old when she was kidnapped on her walk home from school. (photo: San Francisco Examiner)

The evening light was fading when the dogs caught a scent.

The bloodhounds clawed up a lonely, manzanita-covered ridge, followed by San Francisco Examiner reporter Ed Montgomery and photographer Bob Bryant. The pair had chartered a plane to Trinity County earlier that day, July 20, 1955, and spent a disappointing afternoon poking around the property belonging to the man Berkeley police suspected of murdering a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

As the day seemed to be spluttering to an anticlimactic end, Montgomery and Bryant asked a local to lend them his hounds for a last-ditch search. Almost immediately, they took off uphill. At 8:20 p.m., the group reached the top of the little clearing.

“You know,” Montgomery wrote, “what we found there.”


Every weekday, Stephanie Bryan walked from Willard Middle School back to her home at 131 Alvarado Road, a quiet street right behind the Claremont Hotel. She sometimes walked with her friend Mary Anne Stewart. Often, like on the afternoon of April 28, 1955, they’d stop for a snack. They went to Dream Fluff Donuts and visited the Elmwood Pet Shop. Then, they headed up Ashby to the entrance of the Claremont Hotel. Mary Anne, who had lessons at the adjacent tennis courts, waved goodbye to Stephanie. She watched Stephanie walk up the Claremont driveway in the direction of her usual shortcut, a flight of steep stairs that cut from the hotel parking lot up to Alvarado.

The walk from the parking lot to 131 Alvarado takes about five minutes. Somewhere along that route, Stephanie vanished. (photo: Katie Dowd/SFGATE)

"The Shortcut," a stairway that connects the Claremont Hotel parking lot with Alvarado Street in Berkeley. Although it's quite wooded, the parking lot just is feet away.

At 4:15 p.m., Stephanie’s worried mother Mary called the school and the homes of the girl’s friends. Everyone saw her leave school and walk home, as always. Mary’s next call was to her husband, Charles, a radiologist at an Oakland hospital. He rushed home, and they phoned the police.

Although they didn’t yet know it, the largest missing persons search in Berkeley’s history was beginning.

Berkeley police canvassed the hotel grounds until night fell. In the morning, the search resumed. But there was nothing. No dropped school bag, no witnesses. Then, on May 1, a break: One of Stephanie’s textbooks, signed in the girl’s hand, was found discarded on the side of Franklin Canyon Road near Martinez.

One hundred searchers, among them six FBI agents, descended on the Contra Costa hills. No trace of Stephanie was found. The only other clue came from several witnesses who remembered they’d seen a girl struggling in the back of a gray-colored Pontiac near Tunnel Road the day Stephanie disappeared. One witness said the girl appeared to be screaming “no” in the backseat as the male driver reached around to hit her.

“The thing I can’t understand — the thing that paints the gloomy picture for all of us — are these people who saw a girl being beaten in a car on the highway, and who didn’t interfere or even call the police,” Stephanie’s father told the press. “Are we so used to seeing people beaten that we pay no attention?”

Weeks turned to months. But everything changed — and became unfathomably more strange — in July.


Georgia Abbott, 32, was the president of the Oakland branch of the State Cosmetologists Association and she loved a party.

So when her friend Otto Dezman suggested they find costumes for the latest fete, she went down to the basement of the Alameda home she shared with her husband, Burton. She had boxes of old clothes down there, and she was sure there was a funny hat that would be perfect. As she rummaged, her fingers touched a red purse. Odd, she thought. She didn’t have a red purse. Georgia opened it. Inside was an ID card for a teenage girl named Stephanie Bryan.

“Hey!” she said as she ran up the basement steps. “Isn’t this the girl who disappeared?”

Dezman exclaimed that it was and insisted she call the police. Burton Abbott hardly reacted.

Police responding to the Abbott home found Georgia confused but composed. Burton, a 27-year-old accounting student at UC Berkeley, sat silently on the couch and did a crossword puzzle. Investigators marked him as odd right off — this was the most well-publicized missing persons case in Bay Area history. Stephanie was on the front page of local newspapers daily. And here was Burton Abbott, a man who appeared deeply uninterested in the discovery of her purse in his basement. (photo: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive)

Shortly after the discovery of Stephanie Bryan's belongings in his home, Burton Abbott voluntarily submitted to a polygraph. The results were inconclusive. At right, conducting the test is A. E. Riedel, the Bay Area's leading polygraph expert at the time.

The basement was partially finished, with half of the floor just sandy dirt. Police started digging. They soon found a grisly trove: Stephanie’s bra, glasses, school notebooks and two library books. When confronted, Abbott suggested they were planted there by a stranger. The house was used as a polling place a few months prior. Police were skeptical, though, as only the garage was open for voters.

When asked where he was on April 28, Abbott gave the first version of a story that would change repeatedly over the next year. He said he left his home at 11 a.m. to drive up to the family cabin in Trinity County. He stopped first in Sacramento before continuing onto Wildwood by the evening. He said he drove a gray Pontiac sedan at the time. He’d traded it in shortly after the trip.

Abbott seemed a most unlikely suspect. He was thin and weedy, his chest a little caved in from a bout of tuberculosis so severe he had to live for a time at the Livermore Veterans Hospital. There, he’d met his wife. They had a four-year-old son. “I know it was impossible for my husband to do this,” Georgia confidently told the journalists gathered at their door that night.

Two days later, the Examiner reporters arrived at the Abbotts’ Wildwood cabin. In 1940, a miner named Lloyd Snyder had staked that 20-acre claim with Georgia’s father. But by 1951, things had gone south for Snyder. One night, he got into an argument with a friend and shot the man dead. In that cabin, Snyder sawed the body into pieces, put them in gunny sacks and buried them on the property. Four days before he was sent to San Quentin, Snyder transferred the deed to Georgia’s brother.

(In a fascinating coincidence, Snyder was paroled less than a month before Stephanie’s disappearance. His alibi must have been ironclad, however, because police quickly and publicly ruled him out as a suspect.)

Treading on ground that had once held the remains of a murder victim, the Examiner newsmen sought another. At sunset, they came upon the worst scene of their lives. The dogs were sniffing around a leg sticking out of the ground, the foot still clad in a small, white saddle shoe. “It was a nightmare scene I’ll never forget,” Montgomery wrote a few days later for the paper.

Stephanie Bryan's body, wrapped in canvas is brought down the steep hillside from its crude grave in Trinity County by the coroner and deputy sheriffs. The photo was taken on July 22, 1955.

They hurried back to town to call first for the police and then to their editors, who were about to run the scoop of the century. Another Examiner reporter rushed to Abbott’s home to tell him of the find. His previous calm evaporated, and he started to cry. “I don’t know how the body got there,” he wept. “I don’t know anything about it. I’m still staying with my story.”

Stephanie’s parents took the news with their characteristic stoicism. Her father showed only the briefest flash of anger when he was asked if he thought Abbott was her killer.

“I’ll wager you right now that he never goes to the gas chamber,” he said bitterly. “The only question in my mind now is how soon they’ll turn the sob sister loose and get him off.”


The trial of the century began in November. For the next four months, it would lead the front page of local newspapers every day. The Examiner hired famed crime writer Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason, to freelance for them. His daily trial analysis — with its jaunty “see you tomorrow, folks” sign-off — was required reading in every Berkeley home.

Alameda County District Attorney J. Frank Coakley held no punches in his opening statement. Abbott was the epitome of “extreme vanity, egoism and selfishness,” Coakley said.

“We will prove that the reason she never reached home,” Coakley said, gesturing to Abbott, “sits right there.”

For all of his put-upon confidence, Coakley had an uphill climb ahead of him. He had no witnesses who could definitively place Abbott with Stephanie, and despite the cache of items found in Abbott’s possession, there was no direct physical evidence. Most, like Stephanie’s father, thought a conviction unlikely.

Prosecution and defense both hinged on one thing: timeline. And they would each spend weeks trying to establish their version of it.

The prosecution’s first witnesses attempted to track Abbott’s movements that day in Berkeley. One witness said he saw Abbott in Pring’s Dutch Girl, a donut shop on Telegraph right by Willard Middle School, at 3 p.m., when Abbott claimed he was halfway to Trinity County. Another witness said they saw a car like Abbott’s run a red light at College and Ashby, leading up to the Claremont Hotel, at 3:30 p.m. Five witnesses gave similar stories about a girl screaming for help in the back of a car after 4 p.m. All thought Abbott likely the driver, but none could be certain.

The prosecution posited Abbott subdued, raped and killed Stephanie somewhere in the Contra Costa hills before driving on to Trinity County to bury her body. They had no proof of this, but they did call a few crucial witnesses. One, the innkeeper at the Wildwood bar where Abbott swore he’d had a drink the night of Stephanie’s murder, firmly denied that narrative. The innkeeper testified Abbott never came in that night. Another Wildwood local said he visited Abbott’s cabin the day after Stephanie’s disappearance. Abbott seemed to be behaving strangely, he said, and “contrary to the custom the two had built up during previous visits, [he] said Abbott did not invite him inside the cabin.”

The third witness was the Abbotts’ babysitter. When asked to recall the night of Stephanie’s disappearance, she remembered Abbott made a call from the cabin. He told the rest of the family not to join him that weekend. The weather was no good.

Fall turned to winter as the trial headed into its second month. In early December, a pathologist testified. Exhibits were passed around to the jurors. One was a box with a chunk of red clay from her gravesite, imprinted with the girl’s skirt. “Bits of flesh still clung to it,” the Examiner reported. The pathologist testified Stephanie had died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her underwear had been tied tight around her throat.

At this point in the trial, Abbott’s jailers, who remarked on how soundly he always slept, said he began to lie awake at night.


Abbott’s defense focused primarily on his physique. He was, his lawyers argued, much too frail to have committed the crime. It would require a man of some strength to kill a 14-year-old girl. Then, there was the gravesite, located up a hillside. There was no way Abbott could have lifted her there, they said. He weighed 134 pounds and the girl was 105.

On Dec. 6, the courtroom was witness to an unusual display. In order to prove Abbott was physically handicapped, his lawyer told him to take off his shirt. Reporters noted the move was carefully orchestrated; that day, Abbott didn’t wear an undershirt, so when he unbuttoned his shirt, he was bare-chested. He paced over to the jury box, showing them the scars from a surgery that removed parts of his ribs to ease his tuberculosis.

Burton Abbott testifies during the trial of Stephanie Bryan in January 1956. (photo: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive)

Although the display was compelling, the witness testimony that day didn’t help his case. Livermore Veterans Hospital doctor Elmer Shabert, who had treated Abbott for years, said Abbott was in no way currently “crippled,” as he’d recovered well since his ailment years prior. Shabert also noted a striking personality change in Abbott. When he was initially admitted to the hospital in the early 1950s, he was combative and questioned the doctors about every procedure. But just a few days after Stephanie’s disappearance, he showed up again.

“He appeared to me almost over-anxious to enter the hospital for any suggested procedure,” Shabert testified. Doctors sent him home.

The day of testimony ended with some surprise drama: A juror was dismissed. August Rettig told the judge he’d realized that Abbott’s brother was his co-worker at the Alameda Naval Station. Although they’d never really spoken, they did work 25 feet away from each other.

“I’m glad to get off the case,” he told reporters that afternoon. “It’s a hard trial to sit in.”

When asked if he thought the state had presented a strong enough case to convict Abbott, Rettig gave his head a shake. No, he said. There just wasn’t enough evidence.


Right before Christmas, Abbott’s lawyers made a terrible mistake: They put him on the stand.

All went well at first. He gave a detailed description of his whereabouts on April 28 and explained how he’d never once crossed paths with Stephanie Bryan. Then, the cross examination began.

Coakley grilled him for three days. Of his 13 ½ hours on the stand, 11 were with Coakley. “His answers to Coakley made a remarkable contrast with those he gave to questions of his own attorneys, when he seemed to have almost total recall for events of April 28,” the Examiner noted.

Abbott would go long stretches, sometimes up to 15 questions in a row, answering with either “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” “The list of conversations and events which Abbott could not recall had reached an astounding length,” read Montgomery’s story that day.

At one point, he was asked why he didn’t phone a relative while up at the cabin. “Because I didn’t know his telephone number,” Abbott replied. The gallery erupted in laughter.

When testimony resumed the following week, Coakley went after Abbott’s timeline. In one interrogation with police, Abbott described his “usual” drive from Alameda to the UC Berkeley campus for class. It looked an awful lot like a route designed to avoid Stephanie’s school, Coakley said. But then when Abbott was asked to provide his usual route again, he gave a route that did pass the school. Coakley asked him to clarify which was his standard commute.

“Both of them,” Abbott said.

“How could both of them be your usual route?” Coakley replied, clearly frustrated.

Coakley also got Abbott to admit a major part of his alibi timeline was a lie. Although Abbott repeatedly said he’d been in Sacramento around the time of Stephanie’s disappearance, he said on the stand that wasn’t true. He hadn’t been to Sacramento that day at all.

On Jan. 18, both sides gave their closing arguments. Coakley waited until that moment for his most dramatic reveal. Although Stephanie’s clothes had been repeatedly shown to the jury, for the first time, he untied the underwear that had been found knotted around her throat. They had been cut off of her by the killer, slashed twice with a knife. Coakley was angry as he repeatedly called Abbott an unrepentant psychopath.

“They have superficial charm,” he said. “They make a good first impression, but they do not wear it well. They are untruthful. They have no real, genuine capacity to love another.”

Abbot was “stunned and frightened,” newspapers reported. “He wilted,” the Examiner said. “He hunched lower and lower in his chair until he seemed to be resting on his neck.”

When Abbott’s attorney Harold Hove took his turn, he stressed the lack of physical evidence. The state’s case rested purely on “suspicious circumstances.” In fact, Hove argued, the real killer was possibly Otto Dezman, Georgia’s friend who had been in the house the night they discovered Stephanie’s purse in the basement.

The jury sequestered for seven days. On Jan. 25, they signaled they’d come to a verdict. When the first guilty count was read, Abbott’s mother Elsie screamed and ran from the courtroom. In the chaos, many didn’t hear the second guilty verdict. But it didn’t matter; both the first-degree murder and kidnapping charges carried the death penalty.

The original 1956 caption of this Associated Press photo reads: Burton W. Abbott, condemned kidnap-slayer of 14-year-old Stephanie Bryan, who was so upset over the guilty verdict yesterday that he refused to talk to newsmen, is shown in these three poses at a press conference here today. He claimed that the prosecution witnesses committed perjury at his trial and the jurors themselves disregarded testimony of defense witnesses. Jury foreman Harry A. Whitehead said the jurors made a calm, meticulous review of evidence for six days before taking their first vote. (photo: AP (Associated Press)

Mary Bryan, who had looked at Abbott only once during the proceedings (“He might have been a piece of furniture for all the interest she displayed,” the Examiner reported), had nothing to say about the verdict. All she wanted to know was when she could collect her daughter’s body from the mortuary, where it had been kept until completion of the trial.

“Now,” she said, “we can have Steffie back.”


On the morning March 15, 1957, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Abbott’s stay of execution. His lawyer, George T. Davis, made a frantic phone call to Governor Goodwin Knight, who was on board the USS Hancock. As Abbott’s 10 a.m. execution time approached, Knight agreed to a one-hour stay.

At 9:46 a.m., two briefs were filed with the California Supreme Court. Abbott’s brother Mark watched the clock. “This is the shortest hour of my life,” he murmured. At 10:42, word came back: They’d been denied. Davis rushed to the phone to call Knight again. Mark began to cry.

At San Quentin, Burton Abbott was being led into the gas chamber. He was strapped into a chair and smiled softly at the guard who asked if he was comfortable. At 11:18 a.m., cyanide pellets were dropped into sulphuric acid and toxic gas began filling the room. Two minutes later, a phone down the corridor rang. The warden answered. It was the governor.

Was it too late to grant another stay, he asked. Yes, replied the warden. It was over.

“I did everything possible to give Mr. Davis every opportunity to develop anything new in this case,” Knight said later that day. “This he could not do. In return, he staged a dramatic stunt — with no legal ground to stand on — by waiting until the very last minute.”

Abbott’s belongings were given to his widow. The $67.48 left in his canteen account was handed to his mother.

In 1961, the San Quentin chief psychiatrist recalled his final conversation with Abbott. He asked Abbott to confess his crime and ask the governor for clemency.

“Doc, I can’t admit it,” Abbott reportedly replied. “Think of what it would do to my mother.”


If Stephanie were alive today, she’d be 80-years-old. Instead, she is 14 forever — permanently sweet, reticent and shy. She was a loving older sister and thoughtful daughter, so responsible she’d never once been late for dinner. She studied French and did well in school. Newspapers often called her “studious.” She was looking forward to the end of school and outings with friends.

“We are already planning our summer trip,” read her unfinished letter to a friend found in Abbott’s basement.

Stephanie also loved birds. The day she died, she stopped at a pet shop to buy a book, “Everything About Parakeets,” for 25 cents. It was an odd thing she had in common with Burton Abbott. He too loved little birds.

The night police first interrogated Abbott in his home, his pet budgie Davy got free. The bird burst from his cage, fluttering around the room as everyone looked on in surprise.

After a moment, Georgia got up. She seized him out of midair and held him tight in her hands. And quietly, she locked him back in the cage.


* * *



  1. Alethea Patton August 5, 2020

    Re: The Albion Incident: Inquiring minds would like to know what happened to K9 Takoda. Did he die in the line of duty? I hope not.

  2. Eric Sunswheat August 5, 2020

    RE: I truly believe that Mendocino county does not value it’s cannabis growers, after all, “they are just criminals”. I sat through many meetings where that phrase was emphasized over and over by our county leaders and Department heads. It was very disheartening.

    Now, here we go again with more changes and delays? What is the end goal here? (Diane Curry)

    —->. End goal is for John McCowen to wash his hands of the situation and move on, with acknowledgement that he sucker punched the Mom and Pop growers into oblivion, not that they should not have seen it coming, as if they had attended agency regulation workshops for the news of doom, as a few more pounds were squeezed out the back door.

    After all, Mendocino County is ‘Too High To Fail’ – according to book author Doug Fine, who kowtowed the county to the nation, and railroaded yours truly off the Willits community Yahoo group listserve. Fall on one’s sword. Such is life.

  3. Kathy August 5, 2020

    Given the circumstances, Mr. Lucas is lucky to be alive, and not another sheriff’s statistic. Thank you to all the first responders who managed to somehow bring this series of unfortunate events to an end without anyone being killed. K9 Takuda was reported to be back at work yesterday.

  4. chuck dunbar August 5, 2020

    For those who view the Albion incident as a law enforcement over-reaction (I don’t, and that no one is dead or badly injured and nothing got burned up, is evidence of a properly done intervention), try this one for a true and pretty surreal police over-reaction:


    From a 2017 complaint filed by David and Gretchen Jessen against Fresno County and the city of Clovis, California, for damages incurred during a police raid on their home. In June 2016, construction workers called the police after they witnessed a homeless man break into the Jessens’ house. The Jessens returned to find their home surrounded by law enforcement. The Jessens argue that damage to their home was “unreasonable and unjustified.” In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Fresno County and the city of Clovis.

    The Clovis Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office deployed the following:

Fifty-five vehicles

    A K-9 unit

    Two helicopters
Two ambulances

    A fire truck

    A crisis negotiation team in a motor home
A SWAT team

    A backup SWAT team
A robot

    Law enforcement officers did the following to the Jessens’ home:

Broke six windows

    Ripped out the front door and an interior door
Pulled an office wall off the foundation
Used a flash bomb in the office
Ripped off the door to the laundry room
Used a flash bomb in the laundry room
Teargassed the laundry room
Teargassed the kitchen
Teargassed the master bathroom
Teargassed the guest bedroom

    Teargassed the office bathroom
Teargassed the sewing room
Destroyed more than ninety feet of fencing with a SWAT vehicle
Shattered a sliding glass door for robot entry

    The homeless man did the following:

    Broke a window

    Stole milk, an ice cream bar, and half a tomato

    From: Harper’s, August, 2020

  5. George Hollister August 5, 2020

    If having fun as a cop is the desire, then Clovis looks like a good place to go.

  6. Lazarus August 5, 2020


    Hey H!
    If we did that on the coast, the cops would come…

    Be Swell,

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