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MCT: Friday, August 21, 2020

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A WARM-UP IS IN STORE for the region this weekend into early next week. Otherwise, isolated thunderstorm chances will increase Monday and Tuesday. (NWS)

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PYROCUMULONIMBUS cloud rising from the August Complex fires, as seen from a ridgetop beyond the deep end of Anderson Valley (photo by Carston Butters).

THE AUGUST COMPLEX, 35 fires started by lightning on Sunday, August 16, have burned 117,365 acres in Mendocino National Forest and is 6% contained.


by Julie Johnson

An exhausted and determined force of mostly local firefighters tried to strengthen their defense Thursday against two main fronts of the 20,000-acre Walbridge fire threatening communities west of Healdsburg and along the Russian River outside Guerneville in Sonoma County.

Declaring the Walbridge fire the most critical of many major blazes in the region, Cal Fire officials began mustering a significant air attack, including a converted 747 Global Supertanker, the largest aerial firefighting air tanker in the world.

Four days into the grueling firefight, the sights and sounds of the growing air fleet signaled a much longed-for infusion of help keeping the Walbridge blaze from spreading into more populated areas. Still, an uncounted number of homes and ranches in forested communities have been destroyed this week.

Yet the local firefight continues to be stretched thin by an extraordinary demand for the state’s firefighting resources, taxed by nearly two dozen major fires threatening life and property across the state.

Shana Jones, Cal Fire chief over the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, where 215,000 acres were burning by Thursday night, acknowledged she had limited resources at her disposal to battle wildfires active in five counties.

"It's going to take time. This is a very large fire. It's one of many in the state of California, and honestly our resources are stretched ... very far," Jones said during the public briefing, her voice unsteady. “So please be patient. We're working hard to put out the fire so that we can get you back in your homes.“

The spread of the fire already has jeopardized public infrastructure, including cell towers and signal repeaters at high elevations atop Mount Jackson and Meyers Grade, located in separate burn zones, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said.

Fire crews were preparing to make a stand at critical Sonoma Water sites near Wohler Bridge on the Russian River in Forestville, facilities that help supply about 600,000 consumers in Sonoma and northern Marin counties.

County Emergency Management Director Chris Godley said the water could be produced using generator power if electrical equipment is damaged by the fire.

But he and Sonoma Water staff have urged residents to make it easier for the water agency and its suppliers by using only what is necessary so that water storage tanks can be filled for drinking water and fire protection.

All told, the fires in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties were collectively burning across 215,000 acres so far, a complex of blazes that erupted after a two-day lightning storm that was thunderous and mostly dry. The Meyers fire burning near the Sonoma Coast was holding at about 3,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

All told, officials said 480 structures had burned, 125 were damaged and 30,500 remained threatened by the fires, which were entirely uncontained and burning out-of-control.

Thursday night, Cal Fire indicated its firefighting force for the three counties had nearly doubled in the past 24 hours, with 1,059 personnel as the fires burned into a fifth day.

In contrast, by day three of the 2019 Kincade fire that hit Sonoma County last October, the state had put 2,830 firefighters on the lines. That force stopped the Kincade from burning into Healdsburg, Windsor and Santa Rosa, holding the blaze at below 78,000 acres — less than half the size of the fires a much smaller force is battling now.

“There is no more equipment out there — you’ve heard it for three days now,” said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner, who serves as an operational coordinator for the county during major wildfires. “The people out on the line have been out on the line since it started. They are still out there. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Gossner said that 20 local strike teams were deployed to fight fires outside the county, further depleting the local force.

More than 27,000 Sonoma County residents were under evacuation orders or warnings as of Thursday night, including 12,000 residents of Healdsburg.

Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said late Thursday the Walbridge fire was “testing the line” at Sweetwater Springs Road.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., a fresh start on the southern edge of the fire snaked its way uphill less than a quarter mile from an abandoned mercury mine along Sweetwater Springs Road.

Ash rained from the sky as the fire line grew slowly despite a gentle breeze that pushed the smoke north and west.

Residents in the area said several structures, hidden by long and winding gravel driveways, were lost overnight.

Two PG&E crewmen applied fire retardant to as many power poles as they could get to ahead of the advancing flames, aiming to prevent road blockages due to downed equipment.

California Office of Emergency Services personnel out of San Diego patrolled Sweetwater Springs Road, putting out spot fires and keeping watch over private residences.

By 5 p.m., the fire was sparking further north and west, slowing its push southward. A team of Office of Emergency Service engines were staged at an abandoned quarry/mercury mine.

A Sacramento Metro Fire Department battalion chief was just beginning to scout potential locations to make a nighttime stand.

As the afternoon wore on, acrid smoke drifted lazily upward, punctuated by the occasional blackish orange plume that billowed following the fire’s quick consumption of an evergreen tree.

Intact homes dotted the ridge lines, overlooking less fortunate neighbors. As many as a dozen homes along Sweetwater Springs Road were destroyed by fire this week.

Cal Fire had dedicated a significant portion of its fire crews to the eastern portion of the fire, an active blaze with tall flame flanks, Nicholls said.

“We are working to secure the heel of the fire so that it doesn’t come down more into the upper Dry Creek,” Nicholls said.

Casualties of the wildfire will include areas of Armstrong Woods Redwood State Reserve, an 805-acre treasure on the north side of Guerneville that has generated significant concern since the fire started near adjoining Austin Creek State Recreation Area.

Nicholls confirmed Thursday evening that flames had been backing into the park — that fire crews had been needed to protect communities and hold fire lines and couldn’t be spared to save the park.

Though not “a flaming front,” he said the fire was continuing to “chunk down the mountain” into the park and “toward Guerneville proper.”

In Lake County, the Morgan fire merged with the larger Hennessey fire threatening parts of Napa County, morphing into the largest of the blazes at 192,000 acres.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin declared a state of emergency in response to the fire and added evacuation warnings and orders covering a sizable portion of lower Lake County.

The warning area includes Middletown and much of the same area that was devastated by the fast-moving Valley fire of 2015, a catastrophic wildfire that consumed 40,000 acres in its first 12 hours and helped usher in a new era of cataclysmic fires in Northern California.

Sonoma County supervisors Friday were meeting Friday to consider declaring a state of emergency. U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, had already drafted a letter seeking federal support for the region.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said the state had secured assistance from the National Guard, which was sending 20 12-person hand crews to help fight fires in California. Officials also asked Canada and Australia to send firefighting support.

McGuire promised more firefighting resources were on the way as other fires lessened in priority, allowing the state to release crews. Firefighters and equipment being released from other incidents “should start arriving this evening and through the weekend” to Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, McGuire said.

Where the region’s recent, catastrophic fires have been fueled largely by extreme, sometimes hurricane-force winds that have powered flames across whole landscapes in mere hours, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls described the Walbridge as a “fuel driven, terrain driven fire,” kicked up by winds in the afternoons but otherwise fed by the heavy, dry timber that’s grown densely on steep hillsides and in remote canyons, allowing the flames to follow winding pathways across the terrain.

But he and Cal Fire Incident Commander Sean Kavanaugh said “weather is going to be a factor” moving forward.

While he placed some hope in deepening marine layer that could help with overnight moisture recovery, National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said it was unlikely to make much difference in the hills where much of the fire is being fought. He said hot, dry conditions, with temperatures around 90, would prevail into the middle of next week.

But a wind shift in the offing that will blow more toward the northeast by Saturday could be additional pressure on the Walbridge, Kavanaugh said.

More troubling is the possibility that lightning could return Monday or Tuesday — a possibility still being analyzed by fire weather experts, he said.

Supervisor James Gore, who said he spent most of the day along the fire’s dangerous eastern front in his district, said many homes were lost in the upper reaches of Mill Creek Road, and said the fire posed grave danger in those hills plus areas east of West Dry Creek Road.

“This terrain and the amount of fuel out there is extremely difficult,” Gore said. “There are a lot of people exasperated and looking for a big savior to come in, the big planes, but the reality is we’re going to be in this for the long haul.”

(courtesy The Press Democrat)

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THE LNU LIGHTNING COMPLEX FIRES have burned 219,067 acres and is 7% contained. 480 structures have been destroyed, 125 damaged, and evacuation warnings and orders continue to expand.

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STACY ROSE of Boonville has filed papers to run for a seat on the Anderson Valley Community Services District Board of Directors. The November election will thus be the three incumbents, Valerie Hanelt of Yorkville, Paul Soderman of Boonville, Francois Christen of Philo, and Stacy Rose for three at-large seats.

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THE SCU LIGHTNING COMPLEX, approximately 20 separate fires, have burned 229,968 acres and is 10% contained.

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WATCHING THE FIRE to the northeast grow over 8 minutes (photos by Dick Whetstone):

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JANESE JUNE of Boonville is convalescing in Ukiah after an emergency surgery last weekend, and is expected to be back in her Ornbaun Road home soon.

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SHERWOOD OAKS had another resident pass away peacefully Tuesday night. He had survived pneumonia caused by COVID, then enjoyed a week of good health only to succumb to long-standing heart disease. The cause is considered COVID related, bringing the total to 8 COVID deaths among our residents — 16 residents and the 8 staff with COVID have recovered, though some have persistent fatigue as is often seen with this virus. It has been 13 days since a Sherwood Oaks resident tested positive, and more than 4 weeks since a staff member was diagnosed with Covid. Results from Monday's testing are expected during the coming weekend.

— Dr. John Cottle, Medical Director of Sherwood Oaks, Fort Bragg

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Total now 14 deaths; 584 cases.

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FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS regarding Wednesday Night’s anonymous complaint about Dr. Doohan and the Board’s performance concerning a letter to the State requesting more local control and local rules:

“No one bothered to ask why Mendocino County was complaining about watchlist restrictions when those restrictions were imposed by the local health officer, not the state.”

This was discussed. See video.

“I have heard a rumor that CEO Angelo killed the letter that was supposed to go out to the state.”

Not true. Two weeks earlier, when I pushed for approval to author and send a letter, it was based on word from the state that we were to be added to the monitoring list and would therefore be restricted by state order. This didn’t happen. The state froze the list, citing inability to manage a spreadsheet with 58 rows or whatever. County PHO had put restrictions in place hoping we would retain local control, not knowing that the state monitoring list update would be weeks out. Complaining to the state about restrictions prior to actually being on the list would have convoluted the argument.

The county has systemic problems. In eight months, we couldn’t get a business plan together for intended Measure B operations. This situation with the pandemic response is entirely different. The state has structured a model where the county receives insufficient funding, crippling local authority, while taking the blame.

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VELMA’S Farm Stand on AV Way in Boonville is open Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 8:30am-1pm. Offering an array of vegetables and fruit including tomatoes (early girls, heirlooms, cherry tomatoes), raspberries, Red Gravenstein apples, Hosui Asian pears, Venus table grapes, French prune plums, potatoes, fennel, lettuce, arugula, spinach, melons, turnips, celery, squash, carrots, ground cherries, tomatillos, onions, leeks, herbs, beets, cucumbers, hot peppers, eggplant, and more.

There will be fresh flower bouquets and 2019 olive oil for sale as well (available in half gallon, 1 liter, and 500 ml).

All products are certified biodynamic and grown by Filigreen Farm. 

Please email Annie at with any questions or more information. We accept cash/card/EBT/check. Please respect social distance rules (maximum 3 customers in the stand) and wear a mask at all times.

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AT THE LAST MEETING OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, T.A. Barlow was awarded the contract for constructing the much-needed bridge across Howard Creek. The entire structure, including new grade and bridge, will be 1,330 feet long, the bridge being 70 feet in length. The bid amounted to $2,485.

(Fort Bragg Advocate, Aug. 13, 1913)

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by Mark Scaramella

Thirty pages of extremely unreadable bureaucratic detail make up Mendo’s recently published and long-awaited “Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness in Mendocino County.” It was presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for “Discussion and Possible Action.” 

The purpose of the plan, in its own words, is not to actually deal with homelessness, but “to share with the community a common agenda and plan of action to make homelessness RARE, BRIEF, and only ONE TIME. The Plan was developed by “the Strategic Planning Committee of the Mendocino County Homeless Services Homeless Continuum of Care (MCHSCoC), a collaborative of over 31 public agencies and private non-profit organizations throughout the County that serve the unsheltered population. The Plan was reviewed by the MCHSCoC (Continuum of Care) governing board and formally adopted on April 27, 2020. The following jurisdictions have also adopted this Plan: XXX, XXX, XXX. [sic].”

(I.e., no jurisdictions.)

The Plan goes to great lengths to note that “the Plan includes two additional goals related to strengthening collaboration both between the CoC and the broader community and within the CoC governing body itself” — which of course has nothing to do with helping homeless people either.

Supervisor John McCowen, a key official who personally deals with Ukiah area homeless people himself, has repeatedly insisted that the “Marbut report” which recommended prioritizing help for local homeless people and discouraging traveling homeless would be incorporated in the Plan. But the Marbut report is barely mentioned in the Plan, and then only with a couple of highly selective irrelevant statistical footnotes. 

There’s lots of flaky statistics in the Plan which supposedly breakdown the homeless into this or that category based on flawed counting methods (as also documented by Marbut, hence his $50k report being sidelined) of age, ethnicity, etc. But despite the promises that the Plan would address Marbut’s primary recommendation to help locals first, there’s no effort to distinguish the locals from the travelers in the Plan.

There’s a long list of the categories of “help” that Mendo’s many agencies offer, most of it in impenentrably complex categories of advice and info that not only cannot be navigated by an ordinary housed person, much less that do anything to actually help anyone. Nor are there any counts of how many people have availed themselves of this wonderful panoply of advice. Our favorite is the County’s Health and Human Services list of homeless services which includes “jail diversion work.” There are some local non-government Mendo people providing a few free meals to the homeless. But they’d be doing that whether or not there was a “plan,” and no mention is made whether they even try to distinguish between locals or traveling transients. 

One of the ways the Plan plans to “make homelessness rare” is “identify new funding for development of housing for homeless.” They “plan” to “identify new funding” for the homeless. Great. That’ll help a lot. Especially if their attempts are successful. If not — oh well! We tried!

There’s lots of work on identification of this, and models for that, development of strategies and colloaborations and teams for certain homeless “cohorts” and other stuff, plus development of ways to measure effectiveness (the actual ways are never mentioned, of course). 

There’s no mention of how much more homelessness the area will experience due to the pandemic downturn and other economic impact, nor of those made homeless by wildfire. 

And if all this transparently useless activity somehow works, the Plan says that if they’re successful, “We will see a 5% annual decrease per year in the length of time that people are homeless as measured by HUD’s LSA.”

Five whole percent! (As measured by… Don't ask.)

Early in the introduction, however, the “Plan” bluntly spells out its true purpose: “This Plan also fulfills Federal and State requirements that local jurisdictions receiving funding from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have a community plan for addressing homelessness.”

In other words, the Plan is nothing but required eyewash so that the “31 public agencies and private non-profit organizations” will continue to receive funding, not to actually help any homeless people.

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“On Wednesday, August 19, approximately 11:00 am, UPD officers and Ukiah Valley Fire Dept. responded to a vegetation fire in the creek behind Oak Manor School (400 Oak Manor Dr.).

Upon arrival, a citizen was extinguishing the fire with a garden hose. A UPD Officer was able to fully extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher. At the same time, UPD officers noticed a column of smoke coming from behind Big Lots, located at 225 South Orchard Ave.

Officers responded there and found the contents of a garbage dumpster was on fire. Ukiah Valley Fire Dept. responded and extinguished that fire. 

Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies saturated the area looking for a suspect and/or more fires. Officers were able to review surveillance footage from neighboring businesses and were able to identify the suspect.

The suspect was described as wearing a yellow hat, dark shirt, light colored pants, and a black backpack. This information was disseminated to other officers who were searching the area.

The suspect, later identified as Esteban Rodriguez (28-year old transient), was located at the intersection of Leslie St. and E. Perkins St. approximately an hour after the fires.


After questioning Rodriguez, enough information and evidence was collected to determine Rodriguez was responsible for setting the fires that had just occurred. Officers requested a bail enhancement which was granted. Rodriguez’ bail was set at $250,000. Rodriguez was booked into Mendocino County Jail for two counts of arson, two counts of arson during a state of emergency, and violation of probation (on probation for a violation of 11377(a) HS possession of a controlled substance). 

This investigation is ongoing and we are gathering more evidence in an attempt to determine Rodriguez’ possible involvement in regards to the 8 other fires that had occurred in the Ukiah area during the 24 hours prior to Rodriguez’ arrest. 

UPD would like to thank the Ukiah Valley Fire Department, Cal Fire, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mendocino County Probation Department for their quick response and assistance with these fires.

(Ukiah Police Presser)

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With his jury trial scheduled to commence this coming Monday, defendant Derek Steven McCormack, age 30, of Covelo, chose Thursday afternoon to forego that trial. 

Instead, defendant McCormack requested and was granted permission to withdraw his previously-entered not guilty plea and, in its place, enter a no contest plea to having committed an arson of an inhabited residence, a felony. 

Save for being different words, a "no contest" plea to a felony charge is the same as a guilty plea for purposes.

The defendant also admitted as true a sentencing enhancement that the arson he committed on August 5, 2019 at the Potter Valley family residence of a former girlfriend was committed during a fire state of emergency, as had been declared by the Governor.

The defendant was referred to the Adult Probation Department for a background study and the preparation of a sentencing recommendation. 

A sentencing hearing is now scheduled for October 22, 2020 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department A of the Ukiah courthouse. Any person interested in this defendant or the underlying facts of this case is welcome to attend that hearing. Wearing a mask and socially distancing will be required.

The defendant was informed during the change of plea proceedings that he will be ineligible for a grant probation absent a judicial finding of unusual circumstances and a further finding that granting the defendant probation would best serve the interests of justice.

If such findings are made, the defendant could be placed on formal supervised probation for up to 60 months. As a term of formal probation, the defendant could be ordered to serve up to one year in the county jail. He will also be required to register for life as an arson offender. This conviction constitutes a Strike under the Three Strikes law. 

If unusual circumstances are not found, the defendant must be denied probation and sentenced to state prison. The presumptive state prison term is 7 years. However, if the court deems the underlying facts and circumstances to be aggravated, the aggravated state prison term is 9 years. If the court deems the underlying facts and circumstances to be mitigated, the mitigated state prison term is 5 years. 

The investigating law enforcement agencies were the fire investigators from CALFIRE and the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, and the District Attorney's own investigators. Special thanks are also extended to the People's retained expert witness, Christopher J. Watt, for his specialized geological analysis 

The prosecutor handling this matter is District Attorney David Eyster.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder accepted the defendant's change of plea just before 5 o'clock Thursday afternoon and will preside over the sentencing hearing in October. 

Pending sentencing, the defendant remains at liberty on posted bail of $250,000, with stay away and no contacts conditions as terms of that bail.

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INTERESTING dispute raging between DA Eyster and Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron. “Raging” is the correct characterization because Aaron has taken his complaint about the DA into court twice, and lost, and is poised to go again. The beef? The DA maintains a facebook page that keeps the public informed as to the outcome of the cases his office prosecutes. Aaron objects to what he calls the DA's "spin" on some of these outcomes, and is also unhappy with the comments from the great unwashed, typically in support of the DA. The DA rightly (it seems to us) says the public not only has the right to know what the DA is doing, the public also has the right to comment on the DA's write-ups of his prosecutions, pro or con. 

OUR READING of Aaron's complaint concluded that he has picked a couple of righteous nits, but nits nevertheless. One, a case reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor without that fact being noted in the DA's presser. We understand that the defendant would like to see that fact noted, but overall Aaron's complaints, put up against the public's right to know — are trivial, and could be righted by Aaron himself by issuing his own press releases or writing in his complaints to the DA's comment line. There are non-court options here, one would think.

WE PARTICULARLY enjoyed the Public Defender's citation of the Vickie Ball matter — Ms. Bell's charge reduction from felony to misdemeanor was in fact noted by the DA. Aaron objected that the DA's presser placed Ms. Ball as a resident of Crescent City when she was a resident of Klamath, which is almost a distinction without a difference, like saying a person lives in Dos Rios, not Covelo. 

MS. BALL, you see, got into an argument with a guy over his playing a video game, then, and in the DA's words, "plunged" scissors into his chest after he fired a staple gun at her. Not exactly the crime of the century, but scissors in the chest could certainly be considered felonious conduct. But Aaron complains about the DA's word choice. "Plunged" was excessive, he says. How about "placed"? Still too ultra-vi? "Relocated?" 

OF COURSE the outcomes of trials should be written up as accurately as possible, but Aaron doesn't make the case that the DA is deliberately misleading the public. The few cases he cites he could have corrected the record himself without making a court case about them.

THE MAN who got Trump elected, Steve Bannon, white nationalist, jolly fascist, has pleaded not guilty to being part of an alleged crowd-funded border wall scam. Bannon was arrested at sea aboard a superyacht owned by a Chinese billionaire Thursday morning. Bannon appeared in federal court in Manhattan to answer charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of Trumpian saps who donated millions to build a section of border wall. So, like, if Bannon is a white nationalist, what's he doing with a Chinese billionaire? Hint: Chinese billionaires, and the Chinese government, are not liberals.

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Fort Bragg is much larger than just the city with its 7,360 residents with 3,670 registered voters. The Fort Bragg ZIP Code 95437 has 14,799 residents with 8,711 registered voters includes the City of Fort Bragg and 7,449 residents with 5,041 voters living outside city limits to whom Fort Bragg is “home.” The population counts are as of 2018 and the voter counts as of April 2020.

Do these 5,041 voters and their families have an interest in the city’s name? You bet they do. When they shop in Fort Bragg stores, restaurants, markets and other businesses they pay one-half percent of the Fort Bragg sales tax used to fund repairs to city streets and alleys and another one-half percent for the CV Starr Community Center acquisition. But, living outside the city, they never had the opportunity to vote on those taxes. They also pay Fort Bragg School District taxes and Hospital taxes as well. A case could be made that those living outside the city pay more Fort Bragg taxes than the residents of the city itself. In addition, they are members of veteran groups, service clubs, nonprofit boards, churches, work in the city, volunteer for numerous organizations and own a significant number of Fort Bragg businesses.

Is it fair that the “home” of 14,799 people be determined by the votes of only 3,670 voters in Fort Bragg? The committee set up to make recommendations to the city council should most definitely include residents outside the city limits.

Stan Anderson

Fort Bragg

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 20, 2020

Alexander, Alford, Cardenas

CHASE ALEXANDER, Sacramento/Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

DELBERT ALFORD, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, robbery, criminal threats, false imprisonment, vandalism, parole violation, damage of communications device.

ESTEBAN CARDENAS, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, robbery, conspiracy.

Gutierrez, Hanover, Hoaglen

SERGIO GUTIERREZ-ROSAS, Ukiah. Stalking in violation of restraining order, criminal threats, protective order violation.

THOMAS HANOVER JR., Ukiah. Grand theft, disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)

LATOYA HOAGLEN, Laytonville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, civil assessmsent, child endangerment, driving with priors, evasion.

Hodges, Hughes, Hunt

JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

JESSE HUGHES, San Francisco/Ukiah. Battery.

DANIEL HUNT, Fairfield. Attempted car theft, marijuana for sale, controlled substance, controlled substance for sale, obstruction of justice, conspiracy.

Jones, McDonald, Newhauser

TRAVIS JONES, Lakeport/Ukiah. Burglary, addict with firearm, controlled substance while armed, metal knuckles, large capacity magazine, concealed firearm, paraphernalia, controlled substance, ammo possession by prohibited person.

CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD, Potter Valley. DUI, suspended license (for DUI), DUI with priors, probation revocation.

RONALD NEWHAUSER, Woodland/Covelo. Attempted car theft, marijuana for sale, controlled substance, controlled substance for sale, obstruction of justice.

Risch, Sanderson, White

DANIEL RISCH, Arcata/Ukiah. Attempted car theft, failure to appear.

JAMES SANDERSON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, trespassing.

RUSSELL WHITE, Willits. Probation revocation.

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by Dan Walters

Our power supply problem is unacceptable. The prolonged heat wave that grips California has strained the state’s electric power grid to the breaking point, resulting in rolling blackouts for the first time in nearly two decades.

California’s Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the distribution of power for the state’s investor-owned utilities, imposed temporary outages as demands from air conditioning systems in millions of heat-stressed homes approached supply capacity.

The blackouts clearly tell us that California has a power supply problem. It’s unacceptable that a state with a world-class economy grounded in cutting edge technology has the unreliable electrical service of a third world country.

Moreover, if we lack sufficient generating capacity now, the gap between supply and demand will grow even wider as our population continues to grow and if, as we are constantly told, the climate becomes ever warmer.

Our power supply problem stems largely from political policies aimed at phasing out hydrocarbon energy, such as natural gas-powered generators, shutting down nuclear plants and relying more on “renewables” such as solar panels and windmills.

By decree, the latter are supplying ever-increasing amounts of power, but they are much less reliable than traditional generation. Therefore, when demand climbs to near-record levels ISO must turn to natural gas-fired plants to make up the difference, particularly if it cannot acquire more juice from out-of-state generators.

ISO data reveal that when demand peaks, natural gas plants are supplying half or more of California’s power, but even so there are not enough electrons because we have discouraged construction of more gas-fired generation.

“The situation is one that could have been avoided,” Steve Berberich, ISO’s top executive, told the agency’s board on Monday during a review of weekend blackouts, adding that the supply situation “is broken and needs to be fixed.”

Berberich said the ISO has repeatedly warned the California Utilities Commission that an additional 4,700 megawatts of supply is needed but only a portion was authorized on a delayed basis, leaving a gap that couldn’t be closed when the heat wave hit.

In theory, massive battery banks could be constructed to store solar and wind power when it’s plentiful and supplant hydrocarbon generation altogether, but so far that’s just a theory.

Three years ago, ISO published a scenario that envisioned a massive shift from hydrocarbons to renewable electricity in homes, commercial businesses and in transportation by 2030, all but eliminating hydrocarbon energy.

Other than laws requiring utilities to increase their use of solar, wind and other renewable sources, however, little of the ISO’s vision, which mirrors other official projections, has become reality. The COVID-19 pandemic and the severe economic recession it spawned will probably retard the conversion to an all-electric society even more.

For the foreseeable future, therefore, we will need the natural gas generators that environmental activists love to hate, along with the equally vital infrastructure of gas wells and pipelines that they also want to cancel. In fact we need even more of them as demands increase.

Minutes after Berberich’s report, Gov. Gavin Newsom took to social media to say that the blackouts are “sobering to the reality” that “more insurance” in power supply is needed and pledged to provide it.

However, he must also answer why the Public Utilities Commission, composed of governor’s appointees, has failed to heed ISO’s warnings about inadequate supply.

Newsom is fond of the word “foundational” to describe things that must be done. There’s nothing more foundational than having the lights shine when you flick the switch or air conditioning to function when the mercury soars. 

(Dan Walters is a columnist for CalMatters.)

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A few general comments regarding mostly inflation:

The house I live in is 108 years old. Its construction was completed in 1912. We bought the house in June 1978 so we’ve been here 42 years. The house has a slate roof which has required repair many times and slate repairs ain’t cheap. Rather than fix it this time we decided to have a total roof replacement using top notch materials including ’50 year’ shingles. I’ll be lucky to enjoy this new roof for 5 years since I’m almost 80 and nobody in my bloodline has made it past 84. 

My wife may enjoy the new roof for 20 years but when ever the house is sold the roof, new rain gutters, etc will be a selling feature. The cost of this new roof equals 43% of what we paid for the entire house and property back in ’78. Gulp!

Two days ago the roofing outfit delivered into my driveway all the required materials plus a dumpster. The next day, yesterday, a crew showed up at 7AM. They were all Hispanic but their crew chief spoke both English and Spanish perfectly. They worked until 7:45PM. Almost 13 hours. How do they do it? And they are back at 7AM again today to continue the job.

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To the editor:

It is most unlike me but in this case I must admit that our great visionary, Governor Nuisance, just may be onto something!

Some weeks past our governor proclaimed young people 25 and younger had not fully develop their mind potential (i.e., stupid by most standards). These "retards" should be given some slack when brought before the court system.

There may be a spark of truth in his medical observation about retardation. In my opinion these retardants could and should fully developed while in jail and not be given probation. Then they can be put back on the streets again, breaking all the laws you can think of during these peaceful protests. My my. How in the hell do you measure the word “peaceful” followed by a broken windows, rocks and bottles all over town. In my day burning down and destroying public property was against the law and all of those involved went to jail. What happened?

Meanwhile, while Rome burns, the vast majority, beachgoers, churchgoers, graduation parties do not respect the 6 foot distancing and face mask cover laws. Most are in that 25+/- age group, a.k.a. retards, or more accurately identified as the retard generation with covid-19!

Let's hear it for our great governor. Good call. You should get some credit for something, anything. But what in the world are you going to do with the lawbreaking nonconformant retards? I know what I would do with them. My grandmother might say, now now! Let's be nice. We don't want to hurt their feelings. I say grab a handful of those special pills grandma and sweep out the toolshed again.

The increase of covid-19 can be laid at the doorsteps of the young. Not all of them, but a large percentage can be accountable.

These bulletproof retards can or will die by their own hand but taking a lot of oldsters with them is not nice, says grandma.

I asked a small group of youngsters about 20 or so years of age why they are not wearing face masks. One of them said very loudly, "It is our right not to wear those things!"

I respectfully asked, "How about others who may be contaminated by your actions?"

A very loud answer so all could hear: "Shit happens!" Followed by a large blast of laughter.

And there you have it! The future of this country has spoken. Retards rule!

Note: Lou Gehrig once said, "I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth" when he had a short time to live. I will be the second.

God bless America, the Donald, Jerry Philbrick.

Old, angry and —


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* * *


Misleading Narrative Geared to Shut Down Dungeness Crab Fishing Permanently

by Ben Platt & Kristan Porter

Is the so-called “ropeless” fishing gear the silver bullet for solving the perceived problem of marine mammal interactions in California’s crab fisheries?

Several profit-driven environmental groups, including Oceana, would like the public and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to believe these baseless claims.

That’s because these groups are ramping up efforts to force California’s historic and economically most important fishery – which helps create $400 million annually for working families – to adopt expensive, impractical and unproven new fishing gear which would force most crab fishermen out of business.

But the problem is that neither the science, nor any other reliable data, support their false claims. “Ropeless” gear is not a silver bullet – in fact, it’s actually dangerous – and ironically, it still has ropes. Nor are marine mammal populations currently at any significant risk. 

Francine Kershaw, staff scientist with the NRDC, has misleadingly asserted that, “Off the west coast, the number of deaths of humpback whales caused by entanglements are now high enough for the population to slip into decline.”

But the truth is there have only been four mortalities attributed to CA commercial Dungeness crab gear since 2013, and none during last two seasons. So the minimal mammal interaction with crab gear has a negligible impact on the health of these species. However, strikes by large ships likely cause 50-150 whale deaths a year off the West Coast, according to statements made by John Calambokidis of the Cascadia Research Collective (CRC), a highly respected marine mammal study center. 

In fact, based on preliminary data presented by the CRC at a public meeting in November 2019, Humpback whale populations off the coasts of California and Oregon have grown by about 80 percent since 2013, and estimated at 220 percent growth since 1998.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kershaw, blinded by the millions of dollars being thrown at her by non-fishing special interests, has also attacked lobster fishermen on the East Coast by falsely saying, “…entanglements are driving the critically endangered North Atlantic Right whale to extinction.” However, Maine's lobster fishery has never had a documented serious injury or mortality for any Right whale, and no entanglement since 2002, which makes this a non-problem.

But the lack of interactions with lobster gear hasn’t stopped for-profit environmental groups from pushing “ropeless” gear on the East Coast lobster fishery.

“Ropeless” Gear Doesn’t Work, Has Buoy Lines

One of the problems with “ropeless” gear is that it’s a misleading term used by the profit-driven environmental groups – and manufacturers – to make it seem harmless. The gear they are pushing all have buoy lines packed on top of the trap with an acoustic release trigger that in theory allows the buoy to go to the surface when activated. In practice, this adds to the problem of lost gear with ropes and buoys attached. It’s much more dangerous to marine life because it litters the ocean unnecessarily with lost lines and other equipment.

How do we know this? Fishermen have tested the pop-up “ropeless” gear in the East Coast Lobster and West Coast Dungeness crab fisheries. The release mechanisms failed 20 percent of the time and had to be abandoned.

Ropeless Gear is Cost Prohibitive

Currently, fishing traps cost between $160-225 each. But the pop-up “ropeless” gear will cost as much as $2,500 per trap. That means for a 500-trap tier operation to adapt an existing gear allotment to 100 percent pop-up gear, it would cost between $360,000 to $1,255,000.

All this extra money would be thrown at gear that is unmanageably slow and prone to be lost at sea. It would make profit impossible. And importantly, it would make marine mammal interactions with lost gear more frequent, not less.

A Better Solution

That being said, the commercial fishing industry is committed to our long standing and successful work to reduce interactions between fishing gear and all marine mammals. That is why CCCA and Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) have been working diligently on alternative gear proposals that are better, more practical, affordable, and most importantly based on the best available science, something that "ropeless" gear is not. For many years, the commercial fleets on both coasts have been making modifications to their gear and to some fishing seasons to mitigate the risk to marine mammals. These common sense measures have resulted in huge reductions in interactions.


“Ropeless” gear and other new rules which the CDFW will turn into law in a few months constitutes a solution in search of a problem. These “solutions” being pushed by outside interests must be seriously reconsidered to reflect the negligible impact of the CA crab fishery, its cultural and economic importance to our coastal communities and the devastating potential consequences of the implementation of ideas like “ropeless” gear. Testing of this gear has revealed many operational issues for the East Coast lobster fishery – which has thousands of small independent fishermen. The technology is faulty, and furthermore, the economics of converting and maintaining this type of system are unsustainable. And it’s the same in California.

What’s more, do we really want to economically damage California’s coastal communities? Consider a recent California Coast Crab Association (CCCA) economic study which found that total economic impacts show as much as $400 million dollars annually is created directly from the fishery. That’s because there are more than 570 permitted vessels, according to NOAA, with nearly 2,000 crew and tens of thousands of shoreside jobs supported by the fishery in unloading, processing, distributing, food service and retail.

In sum, if the CDFW doesn’t ignore the political pressure from special interest, profit-driven environmental groups, the continuation of California’s crab fishery – and the thousands of families who depend on it – and indeed the future of the entire West Coast commercial fishing industry, will be in serious jeopardy. 

Ben Platt is a lifelong crab fisherman and president of the California Coast Crab Assoc. and Kristan Porter is a lobster fisherman and president of the Maine Lobstermen's Assoc. 

(More information at

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How voting for a third party is like not wearing a mask:

There's so much stupid, so much entitlement, so much cultivated ignorance embedded in here (on the Coast Listserve), I can't help myself. I try to avoid participating in Coast Listserve discussions, but this one pushes me over the edge.

1. We live in California. The Electoral College is still in place. Biden will get California's electoral votes. Voting for a minor party in California does not help Trump. 

2. Biden has not earned my vote. He is loathsome in every way. He is opposed to everything I support, and he supports everything I oppose. Even when he pretends to support something good, we all know he'll back off as soon as his corporate puppeteers make a tiny peep of unhappiness. 

3. Minor parties have no chance because people like you listen to the pundits who say that minor parties have no chance. Turn off MSNBC and vote your conscience. 

4. Who gives a flying rat's ass what some comedian says about how we should vote? 

5. Joe "Nothing Will Fundamentally Change" Biden's main campaign platform plank is to restore the very same status quo which spawned Trump. The next Trump may have all of this Trump's evil without his incompetence. 



  1. George Hollister August 21, 2020

    Correction on “THE MAN who got Trump elected, Steve Bannon” The man who got Trump elected was actually James Comey. Ask HRC.

    • George Hollister August 21, 2020

      Speaking of HRC on a different subject, Bannon, and others could learn from HRC some valuable lessons about the legal, and proper methods for laundering money. Part of the lessons include, when all else fails, making documents disappear, get destroyed, become misplaced, etc. That seems to work well, again, if you know how to do it properly. Bannon appears to be strictly an amateur.

  2. James Marmon August 21, 2020


    “But despite the promises that the Plan would address Marbut’s primary recommendation to help locals first, there’s no effort to distinguish the locals from the travelers in the Plan.”

    As people are housed, the non-profits will need to refresh their street homeless population count in order to stay in existence. Non-profits are not built for contraction. As a social worker who understands these things I used to tell co-workers “If we did our jobs right we would run out of work”. Any plan that distinguishes the travelers from the locals as far as who would be served would be devastating to Ukiah’s economy, where helping others brings in millions and millions of outside dollars each year to that community.

    James Marmon MSW

    • James Marmon August 21, 2020

      The only plan that would really work would be “helping locals only” not “helping locals first”. Give the travelers a sack lunch and send them on their way. It sounds mean, but it isn’t really. Mean is what they allowed my hometown to become.


    • James Marmon August 21, 2020

      I don’t think “help locals first” was one of Marbut’s recommendations. His recommendation was to follow the “Willits” plan which was more like “help locals only” when it came to feeding the homeless.

      Watch his presentation on video for more clarity.

      James Marmon MSW

    • George Hollister August 21, 2020

      “Non-profits are not built for contraction. As a social worker who understands these things I used to tell co-workers “If we did our jobs right we would run out of work”.”

      As an outsider looking in this would certainly appear to be the case. There is more economic future in increasing the homeless population than getting people back on their feet, and placing the mentally ill in appropriate institutions. The same is true for the federal welfare system in general. People who are taking responsibility for themselves, and are financially independent are the enemy.

      “No money to be made there, and these “rich” people don’t like paying taxes, either. What a shame. I guess government borrowing is the best course to take.” Well, until it isn’t.

      • Lazarus August 21, 2020

        There will never be a complete cure for cancer and other such diseases either. Simply, they make to much money and employ too many. It’s too big a business to fail, globally.
        Be well,

        • George Hollister August 21, 2020

          If someone actually has a complete cure for cancer, some venture capitalist would be more than happy to fund and promote it. Money can be made. There is no money to be made on Wall Street from putting indigent substance abusers back on their feet. That gets done by charity. The substitute is to let our central government do it. And that is a pretty lousy substitution, as we can see.

          • Lazarus August 22, 2020

            George, you need to do your research. Cancer treatments are evolving into the containment of cancer. People are living with cancer much like people live with diabetes, etc. That way the money keeps rolling in.
            Be well,

  3. Eric Wilcox August 21, 2020

    Comma-la’s life matters bitches

  4. Lazarus August 21, 2020

    RE: Howard Creek

    “1,330 feet long, the bridge being 70 feet in length. The bid amounted to $2,485.”

    What a deal!
    Or did the zeros get left off…?

    Be Well,

    • George Hollister August 21, 2020

      1913 dollars, and standards.

  5. George Hollister August 21, 2020

    Mark Scaramella’s report on the county homeless plan is good. I copied and pasted it and shared with others with the appropriated sourcing, of course.

    My question is, should we expect better? Should we expect county government, and the non-profits to have a greater goal other than “bringing in outside money” that primarily serves their own self interest? Should we expect the federal government, and the state to do a proper job in making sure the money spent on the homeless is done to help “homeless” people, which means substance abusers and the mentally ill? Should we expect homeless industry profiteers to refrain from political activism that prevents any accountability in how the government money for the homeless is spent? Should we expect honesty in messaging for media and the public about the nature of the homeless problem? Yes, of course we should expect all of that. But forget it, it won’t happen.

    It is in the nature of socialism. The administers, and spenders of public money in a socialist state are not angels, and behave just like humans do everywhere else, and look out for their own self interest, first. Socialism poses a monopoly where self interest is not checked by the market place, or by local taxpayers, and that monopoly is enforced until the money runs out, or becomes worthless. I know the AVA fails to see this, and is holding out for the angels to take over.

    • Bruce Anderson August 21, 2020

      Mendo’s doers of good are hardly socialists, George, whatever you mean by the term.

      • George Hollister August 21, 2020

        Should we call it communism, fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, or what? Doesn’t it all amount to the same thing? Central government monopoly control.

  6. H. H. Heller August 21, 2020

    “Play ball”

    How can we get the helping professionals to play the ball, but not hog it?

    • Stephen Rosenthal August 21, 2020

      By cutting off their funding. You should have put helping professionals in quotes, because the only ones they’re helping are themselves.

      • H. H. Heller August 21, 2020

        Something has change$.

  7. James Marmon August 21, 2020


    “okay, do we have an insurance plan in place if Trump should win?”

  8. Lazarus August 21, 2020


    Where are you going Joe? Everything okay, just sit down and relax…

    Be Swell,

  9. Betsy Cawn August 22, 2020

    A couple of minutes into Obama’s campaign pitch (available on YouTube as a “stand-alone” segment), he says “Let me tell you about my friend Joe Biden.” That’s when I turned it off. The whole thing is a turn-off; many comments in this edition and today’s fresh one describe the paucity of honor expressed by the DNC circus. Ghastly, ghoulish, garish, gargantuan, gross . . .

    Meanwhile, our local attention is on the wildfire epidemic and helping rural residents get to safe locations to wait out the progress of inexorable destruction — because CalFire is under-equipped; available resources are not deployed (National Guard?); and communication with the public in Lake County is dependent on the devotion of volunteers at KPFZ — plus the vast array of Facebook downspouts.

    Listeners in Lake County who are lucky enough to receive KZYX broadcasts speak highly of the “top of the hour” news blasts of current status — but otherwise we are not seeing the upper echelon of county leadership in either county take much responsibility for establishing priorities to ensure that we have adequate emergency services on a normative basis.

    Decades of under-funding Public Health and Emergency Services in favor of “Leadership” training and tourism have bereft our local governments of a structure that meets the needs of the communities, and instead serves the needs of the agencies that comprise its operations. We are seeing that here in Lake County in the minimal delivery of evacuation assistance, provided by the County’s Department of Social Services (“mass care and shelter” facility operations) — at this moment, evacuees from the southern part of the county (Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake, as well as east of Lower Lake) are directed to an obscure county park on the lake’s shoreline that almost no one knew how to provide directions to yesterday afternoon. Prepared emergency evacuation instruction announcements? Inconceivable, dears (NIMS? Nah).

    With anticipated new lightning storms predicted on Sunday and early next week, we’re all advised to pack up our “go bags” and be ready to leave — but to go where? Are your motel rooms filled with newly “housed” homeless, in order to meet state requirements? Are we ready for an influx of firefighters and equipment operators? Food services for an extended summer of interrupted services? Schools convening as though we’re all living in a wired world? As if algebra is going to help you now?

    And if Mendocino’s fragile communication system fails, who will be without 9-1-1 to get emergency services? Oh, hey — here comes PG&E to the party! Solar flares, anyone?

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