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MCT: Monday, September 28, 2020

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By 4:30 a.m., a stretch of Highway 12 between Los Alamos Road and Oakmont Drive has transformed into an ember-strewn moonscape. The husks of vanquished trees formed clusters on both sides of the highway. Homes along the east side of this road that connects Santa Rosa to the wine-rich Sonoma Valley were decimated. A handful of engines and their determined crew members kept the fire from destroying any structures in the Oakmont Village retirement community, home to some 5,000 senior Santa Rosans.



Wildfires have triggered an evacuation advisory for the entire city of Calistoga. New evacuation orders and warnings have also been called for an area straddling the Napa-Sonoma Country border northeast of Santa Rosa as two new fires, the Shady Fire and the Boysen Fire, started near the Glass Fire.


(photo by Samuel Corum)


A pair of new fires broke out Sunday, including the fast-moving Zogg Fire that had burned through 7,000 acres in less than five hours near Redding in Northern California, according to Cal Fire. The Glass Fire, which sparked early in the day in Napa Valley wine country north of San Francisco, had consumed more than 2,500 acres by evening.

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VERY WARM AND EXTREMELY DRY conditions coupled with robust northeast and east winds will continue to result in critical fire weather conditions today. The offshore flow is expected to produce record heat for coastal areas today, though smoke aloft from wildfires will hinder the warming. Dry weather with above normal temperatures are expected through the entire week. (NWS)

morning satellite view (8am)

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POWER SHUT OFF FOR THOUSANDS To Avert Fires As New Blaze Burns In St. Helena, Napa

The nation's largest electric utility on Sunday temporarily cut power to thousands of Northern California residents to prevent wildfires while a new fire in Napa County forced people from their homes amid hot, windy weather.

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AUGUST COMPLEX - WEST ZONE EVACUATION ORDERS, NEW EVACUATION WARNINGS For Areas North Of Round Valley In Mendocino, Trinity And Humboldt Counties

WHAT: Mendocino County, Evacuation Warnings in Mendocino County have been upgraded to Evacuation Orders and new Evacuation Warnings have been issued.

WHEN: Effective Immediately

WHERE: ORDER Areas of Mendocino County:

Zone R: West and south of Mina Road, south of the North Fork of the Eel River, east of the Eel River.

Zone P: South of the county line, east of Mina Road north of Hulls Valley Road and west of Hulls Creek

Zone O: South of the county line, east of Hulls Creek, north of Mendocino Pass Road, and west of Williams Creek.

Zone Q: South of the County Line, west and north of the North Fork of the Eel River, north and east of Bald Mountain Road.

Zone S: South of the county line, east of Bell Springs Road, north of Bell Springs Creek and west of the North Fork of the Eel River

ORDER Areas of Trinity County:

Zone TA: North of the Mendocino County line, east of the Humboldt County line, south of Kekawaka Road and west of Zenia Lake Mountain Road.

WARNING Area of Mendocino County:

Zone V: East of Eel River, south of East Fork of Asbill Creek, west of Tank Creek, north of the Covelo Valley Floor and Alder Creek and Tin Cabin Creek.

* Reminder - EXISTING WARNINGS remain for several areas of MENDOCINO COUNTY, and residents should be vigilant and ready to evacuate.

WARNING Area of Humboldt County:

Zone HA: Areas east of Bell Springs Road to Trinity County line and south of Pipe Creek to Mendocino County Line.


FH7 (Mendocino Pass Road) and M1 (Indian Dick Road) at Eel River


The public is reminded to stay vigilant on current fire conditions. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders. Please remember to drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area. There may still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue their suppression operations.

The Mendocino National Forest will remain closed, for updated forest closures, visit:

View the most current evacuation map at:

For more information about wildfire preparedness visit:

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THREE MORE COVID CASES in Mendocino County on Sunday, total now 934.

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Duane Kemp Wells, much loved and highly respected community leader, died Wednesday, September 16, 2020, with friends and family by his side. He was 89.

Duane was born May 13, 1931 in Hollywood and grew up in Temple City, CA. He was the eldest son of Byron E. Wells and Martha Waiva (Kemp) Wells. The family later moved to Balboa, CA where he graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1949.

He studied forestry at Oregon State University when his course work was interrupted by the draft. Duane's military service began in 1952 where he was a member of the US Army 66th Engineers Topography Company serving in Germany. After release from active duty in 1954, Duane returned to Oregon State and graduated with the class of 1956. He remained connected with "the Beav's" by taking several international trips sponsored by the alums.

After graduation,, Duane worked for private timber companies in Northern California spending much time in Garberville and eating at Bill Pass' Restaurant where he met Mr. Pass' daughter and future bride, Patricia M. Pass. Patricia and Duane were married in 1956 and made their first home together in Ukiah, where they remained. Patricia preceded Duane in death on February 19, 1986. By all accounts, their marriage was filled with laughter and good times with extended family and friends.

Duane worked for the Mendocino County Assessor's office for over 34 years, retiring in 1991 after his second term as County Assessor. His contributions of time and leadership to a wide variety of organizations and state and local political campaigns are too numerous to be listed, but include president of the California State Board of Equalization and both the Northern California and California Assessors Associations, as well as Board Chairman to the Mendocino Council of Governments. In later years he focused on educating children on "where houses come from" by explaining the importance of trees in our lives. He was a founder and very active contributor to the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project as a leader and educator. Duane also taught school children during the Forest Conservation Days held in the South Bay Area.

In addition to traveling, Duane found great joy in piloting small planes. In 1966 he began flying fire patrol and was always ready to fly when called. Even after his flying days were at an end, he stayed active through the Mendocino County Co-op Aerial Fire Patrol organization.

One of the numerous certificates of acknowledgement for his contribution to professional organizations provides evidence of the quality of his character. The Mendocino Council of Governments stated "Duane is recognized as an outstanding public official and is well respected as a community leader."

Duane is preceded in death by his parents, wife, and brother, Ralph E. Wells. He is survived by his daughters Lee Ann Vallee (Randy Vallee) of Anchorage, Alaska, and Kathy L. Wells (Larry R. Spencer) of Salem, Oregon, grandson Nathan D. Tuttle, great-grandson Elijah Tuttle and great-granddaughter Elizabeth Tuttle, all of Davenport, Florida, as well as his longtime companion, Milli Hickey of Ukiah. He is also survived by Barbara Wells, sister-in-law, and Waiva (Wells) Brown, niece.

Due to the pandemic, no service will occur. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project at or by mail to RVOEP, PO Box 45, Redwood Valley CA 95470. Please note "on behalf of Duane Wells".

Arrangements in care of Eversole Mortuary

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On Sunday, September 27, 2020 at approximately 10:02 AM, a CALFIRE law enforcement prevention officer contacted an adult male on Highway 162 approximately half a miles from the intersection of Highway 101.

Upon contact the adult male reported being the victim of an armed robbery which had occurred approximately 20 minutes prior to the contact.

The adult male advised there had been 3-4 suspects armed with assault weapon style rifles and being dressed in body armor. The suspects had potentially fled southbound of Highway 101 in a black Chevrolet Tahoe and gray Toyota Tacoma.

This information was broadcast by radio to on-duty personnel with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol and Ukiah Police Department.

A Sheriff's Office Sergeant was on routine patrol on Highway 20 east of Potter Valley when he saw two vehicles matching the suspect vehicle descriptions.

He attempted a traffic stop on the black Chevrolet Tahoe, which failed to stop and instead accelerated to speeds over 100 MPH. A vehicle pursuit was initiated with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The Chevrolet Tahoe continued several miles eastbound on Highway 20 before making a U-turn and headed westbound on Highway 20 for a short time before turning onto a rural parcel of property near Mile Post Marker 41, which was on the east side of the highway.

The Chevrolet Tahoe continued along a poor conditioned dirt road which led up into the wooded hillside. Fearing an ambush, the patrol Sergeant discontinued the pursuit and began to establish a search perimeter.

During the Chevrolet Tahoe pursuit, a Deputy responding to assist the Sergeant was able to conduct a traffic stop on the Toyota Tacoma.

The Deputy identified the driver as being Jesus Estevan Vargas, Jr., 41, of Moreno Valley, CA and a subsequent investigation resulted in his arrest in connection with the reported armed robbery.

During the establishment of the search perimeter the Sergeant learned of a possible exit point to the east along Highway 101. The Sergeant took position at this eastern location to intercept the Chevrolet Tahoe.

A short time later a few gunshots were heard and then a person was heard screaming. Sometime thereafter, law enforcement personnel on the search perimeter were contacted by two adult males. Deputies learned the adult males had been kidnapped during the armed robbery and had been bound by zip-ties and their heads covered by some type material.

They reported the Chevrolet Tahoe had become disabled on the dirt road and one of the adult male victims was shot in the back while trying to escape. The adult victims reported the two suspects fled on foot, were armed with assault style rifles and clothed in body armor.

The adult male victim with the gunshot wound to the back of his shoulder was transported by air ambulance to an out of county hospital for medical treatment.

Based upon the circumstances of the situation a request was made for the Mendocino County Multi-Agency SWAT team who later arrived on scene.

The SWAT team utilized the armored Citizen Rescue Vehicle (CRV) and drove to the area of the disabled Chevrolet Tahoe. At the same time, H-14 (CHP Helicopter) began providing aerial assistance to the SWAT team.

As H-14 conducted overflight operations they were able to locate one of the suspects in the wooden terrain uphill from the disabled Chevrolet Tahoe. This suspect disarmed himself and surrendered to the SWAT team by walking downhill to their position.

H-14 continued overflight operations and located the second suspect nearby to where the first suspect was first observed. H-14 was able to identify the second suspect as being armed with a handgun and rifle.

Sometime thereafter, several gunshots were heard which were attributed to the second suspect and H-14 continued to observe his location.

During this time H-14 radioed to the SWAT team that the suspect had possibly suffered a self inflicted gunshot wound but was still making body movements which showed he was alive and still a potential danger as he was still armed.

As H-14 began to exhaust their fuel, a mutual aid request was sent to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office for their helicopter Henry-1, which subsequently arrived on scene. When H-14 left for refueling, Henry-1 assumed overflight operations and assisted SWAT team members in safely approaching the second suspect.

At this time, H-14 was able to return to the scene to provide further assistance as Henry-1 was exhausting their fuel.

The SWAT team was able to take the second suspect into custody and noticed he needed immediate medical treatment due to a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

A SWAT team medic began life saving treatment and the second suspect was immediately transported by Sheriff's Office vehicle to the staging area near Highway 101 where an ambulance and H-14 was waiting. The second suspect was prepped for flight and H-14 transported him to an out of county hospital for medical treatment.

Sheriff's Detectives are conducting ongoing investigations at this time into the reported robbery and kidnapping.

At this time it appears the robbery and kidnapping was connected to a marijuana sale/purchase transaction between the involved individuals.

One law enforcement member experienced a heat related emergency at the conclusion of the several hour event and had to be transported to Adventist Health-Ukiah Valley by ambulance where he was treated/released.

There were no other law enforcement injuries and no shots were fired by law enforcement personnel during the incident/operation.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance during this incident/operation:

  • CALFIRE (Prevention Officer)
  • California Highway Patrol (Officers and H-14)
  • Sonoma County Sheriff's Office (Deputies and Henry-1)
  • Ukiah Police Department
  • MedStar Ambulance
  • Potter Valley Fire Department

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you again for all your support , shared stories, and condolences. This has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life so I appreciate your patience. 

I've gotten a lot of the same questions over the last week, so I wanted to answer them here rather than answer each one in DM's. 

1. What was the cause of Paul's passing?

In short: heart failure. He had cardiovascular hypertension which likely contributed to his condition. That's about has much detail as I feel like sharing on social media, as this is still very raw for me. 

2. What happened to the dog, the border collie?

We are taking care of Willie in Elk right now. I check in and play with him nearly every day when I'm not driving up and down the coast taking care of things. That dog has been through a lot, and I am still deciding on the best course of action for him.

3. What will happen to MSP? 

This has been a tough one. It's undoubtable that MSP has provided a valuable resource to the community, and its absence has left a hole where news once was. It would be a waste to let it languish, But if continued it simply would not be the same. A group of folks have volunteered to split the posting to MSP, should I decide to keep it going and share access. 

So what do you all think? Would you be okay with MSP continuing, as a community effort? Let me know below. If support is overwhelming, we will go from there as best we can.

Thank you for your continued support and patience. 


Shane McCarthy

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

Just in time and in the right place Banned Books Week is here, and let’s expand its scope to include the trend opposing free speech in America.

Every year the Mendocino Book Company joins a nationwide campaign to list banned or challenged publications. Here in 2020 Ukiah needs a refresher course in Freedom of Speech because growing numbers of local progressives stand firmly in favor of censoring writers for voicing opinions different from their own.

It’s all across the country and it’s all demented leftists. The stifling of American thought and opinion erupts anywhere progressive policies stagnate.

Ukiah, for instance. A Daily Journal writer you may have heard of, or perhaps even read, was the target of a coordinated email campaign demanding his column be banned from the newspaper.

Hi, I’m Tom Hine, and leftwing fascists, hostile to any opinion contrary to their own, worked overtime a few months ago to silence my views. Major proponents were therapists, “community activists,” a few writers, journalists and a poet.

The irony of “Journalists, Writers and Poets for Censorship” is ripe and delicious. They cite hurt feelings, divisiveness and a failure to promote healing within the community to justify a Thought Police crackdown. The bar is now lower than ever.

Freedom of speech is (sometimes) won from long, hard fighting against powerful foes, and to happily surrender that freedom to silence a minor irritant like me is a weak show of spinelessness. If you think getting rid of unpopular opinions means your own will forever be safe has been disproven many times. Even a big-shot poet and a sensitive therapist ought be ashamed to side with oppression, and against free speech.

It’s the stuff of Nazis and Communists. Read your history. Open your eyes.

But it’s not just the joke poets with their faux sentiments nor the helpful therapists who are forever telling other people how to live their lives. In Ukiah it goes deeper.

A large Trump sign was torn down at a west side home. A pal of mine, a Democrat, said as we stood near the courthouse that every time he looks at a Trump sign in a nearby office “I want to throw a rock through the window.”

A retired Mendocino College faculty member collects photos of local homes with Trump signs and posts them on Facebook in hopes citizens with incorrect opinions will be harassed and tormented. It’s both grossly un-American and terribly progressive. Free speech protects everyone. Censorship can target any foe of any regime at any time. Get on the right side of the fight.

Recurring nightmares

I’ve been advised astrology is making a comeback among society’s most credulous and least informed. I’m not surprised. At this point people believing Sagittarius rules your emotions and Afghanistan guides your career is old news.

Astrology last found favor among children of the 1960s, a famously ignorant generation that spent years searching for answers before settling for gurus like Jim Jones, Abbie Hoffman and turban-wearing Maharishis. The Capricorn crowd was also hot for UFOs, telekinesis, poltergeists and other frivolous nonsense.

Another musty relic from the ‘60s, dusted off and repackaged for today’s market, is socialism. I guess people love socialism because they enjoy socializing, which is to say being friendly and nice. And it’s probably true that future socialist commissioners won’t outlaw being friendly, although they’ll regulate most everything else.

QUICKIE: Capitalists believe if they get some education, show up on time, work hard and don’t spend their earnings foolishly eventually they’ll drive a Cadillac, own a yacht and retire by age 50. Let’s make hay while the sun shines!

Socialists think they’ll fetch just as much government free stuff sitting in the basement playing video games, writing an occasional poem and drinking Pumpkin-flavored beer as by taking a job as a school crossing guard. So why get all ambitious?

But an upswing in astrologers, socialists, fire-setting street criminals who steal some things and break the rest, suggest dark days. Bell bottoms and pukka shell necklaces may not be the worst of it. It could come to disco music.

Stay tuned. The revolution will surely be televised.

Bad news beers

Everything’s trending negative, even the six-pack in your fridge. A new breed of “beer” beverages is crowding the shelves of a grocery store near you, and not one of these impostor brews is our friend.

We’ve lost old favorites like Schlitz Malt Liquor, Rainier Ale and Lucky Lager, and today the aisles are full of fizzy citrus-based concoctions from the laboratories at Anheuser-Busch. Mango-Strawberry flavored ale, Caramel lager with hints of Raspberry-Mint and other fruity brewjuice from plantations in Hawaii are in and old friends like Falstaff and Colt 45 are out.

The queasiest, scariest of the bunch caught my eye, and nearly my stomach, a few days back at Safeway. Perched on a shelf as if it had every right to stand with Coors, Corona and Pabst Blue Ribbon, was Pumpkin Beer!

And what rough slurried sludge is this, slouching toward the Forest Club soon to be violently abandoned in the men’s room?

(Tom Hine, Ukiah’s most beloved columnist, has been writing under the TWK byline since early days at the Mendocino Grapevine, an “underground” paper.)

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by Mark Scaramella

Item 6b on last Tuesday’s Supervisors Agenda was one of the most convoluted items we’ve ever seen on any Mendo Board meeting agenda: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff on Cannabis Cultivation Permitting Priorities Including, but Not Limited to: County Counsel Analysis of State CEQA request, Digital Portal, Cost Recovery for Work Outside of Application Scope, Interagency Biologist Agreement, Publication of Cannabis Cultivation Guide, Plan for Staffing Increase or Consultant Request for Proposal (RFP), Equity Grant Program Update, Notices to Correct Applications, Request Provisional License Extension from California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Schedule Special Board of Supervisors Meeting for Cannabis Cultivation Phase 3 Zoning Table and Permitting Model (Sponsor: Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee (Supervisors Haschak and Williams)).”

The item continued with “Recommended Action/Motion.”

“Direct County Counsel to opine on whether County has already met the requirements of CEQA in regards to Cannabis Cultivation permitting. And whether State’s demand for “Appendix G” is a legally supported county obligation and report back within 30 days; 2) Direct the Executive Office and Planning and Building Services to engage with Information Technology consultant to develop a fully digital submission portal capable of instantaneously generating accurate status reports for staff, applicants and the public; 3) Direct Planning and Building Services to implement cost recovery for staff time allocated to cannabis cultivation development discussions beyond existing application scope; 4) Direct Planning and Building Services to engage in an interagency agreement with California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a biologist to assist with Sensitive Species and Habitat Review; 5) Direct Planning and Building to publish and maintain a Cannabis Cultivation Guide, including flow chart on website; 6) Direct Planning and Building Services to develop a staffing plan to complete processing of Cannabis Cultivation applications within six months or an RFP for outside contractor if county lacks feasibility to perform; 7) Direct Cannabis Program Manager to prepare Equity Grant Program plan presentation; 8) Direct Planning and Building to generate Notices of Correction and establish processing priorities; 9) Direct Executive Office to add Provisional License extension to legislative platform and Direct ad-hoc to engage with RCRC [Rural Counties Representatives of California], Assemblymember Wood and Senator McGuire for support; and 10) Direct staff to schedule Special Board of Supervisors Meeting for Cannabis Cultivation Phase 3 Zoning Table and Permitting Model.”

When we last addressed this agenda item we concluded, “Never happen. Nothing can be done. The program can't be repaired and is doomed. (Note that the item does NOT request an estimated cost of the many proposals mentioned or who would pay for it/them.)”

In a follow-up item Supervisor Ted Williams who, like his four colleagues on Tuesday, supported this preposterous and unworkable “solution,” later commenting, “Solutions are simple [sic]. Determine how much time is needed to process applications and staff appropriately…”

To which we replied, “…the agenda item does NOT request an estimated cost of the many proposals mentioned or who would pay for it/them.”

Williams then added, “Applicants, I would presume. 30k+ hours of contract planners will run in the millions. If applicants don’t pay and the county cannot, let’s affirm our intention to pull the plug, but please, can we be realistic? A permitting process without staffing is like firefighting without firefighters.”

In fact, in a background note to Tuesday’s garbled Agenda item, Williams specifically addressed what he expects for Cost Recovery:

“Cost Recovery: Cannabis Cultivation application fees were derived from an estimate of 6 hour overall processing time. Actual staff time could be an order of magnitude greater. While maintaining commitment to applicants no matter how erroneous the fee basis now appears, staff time outside of the application processing should not be subsidized. Planning and Building Services should propose an appropriate hourly fee, holding a fee hearing if necessary, to recover costs involved in cannabis cultivation site development discussions. A handful of applicants with unusually difficult or complex situations have occupied staff time, hindering the processing pipeline for other applicants.”

Toward the end of the discussion, just before the unanimous vote, Supervisor John McCowen said, “We know we have these 800 [882 actually] applications. My information has always been that many of these applications will not succeed in the current process. Maybe if we can iron out the issues with the state agencies, that may be resolved except for those that are fatally flawed for some other reason and those will be weeded out through the correction letters. But even if we get all of Phase 1 through the current system we are still left with the issue of Phase 3. We know there are many potential applicants who would like to apply for Phase 3. The Board had previously decided that any Phase 3 applications would involve a land use permit process which itself takes time. So you walk in the door; here’s my completed application. It can take months, a year maybe, long. So we need to get that Phase 3 land use permit process in place. That can’t happen until the Board gives clear direction to staff. So I fully support having a meeting to do that as soon as possible.” 

McCowen went on to say the Board needed to meet more often “if we’re going to be able to accomplish the amount of work we need to accomplish [sic]. Things that tie into that are the concept of expansion and expansion zones. Although the Board was not necessarily unified [in allowing expansion of pot grows], I believe the Board previously has given support to the idea of expansion within certain parameters and of course with a full public process, use permits and innovation zones.”

There’s already a large number of Mendolanders, including the smaller, currently temporarily permitted pot growers, who are being asked to finance much of the seemingly impossible Phase 1 salvage operation after already paying through the nose for their permits (most of which are still in limbo), who oppose any “expansion” of pot growing in Mendocino. There’s another large bloc of Mendo’s non-growers who oppose any expansion for a host of other reasons.

Williams’ “Cost Recovery” idea effectively blames the current permit applicants for the permit program mess the County itself, mainly Supervisor McCowen, created. To expect the permit applicants to now pony up millions more to finance their own application processing is ridiculous on its face, and by itself makes this entire approach unworkable. 

So, despite the Board’s unanimous approval last Tuesday we stand by our original “never happen” assessment.

In effect, Tuesday’s decision is an ill-considered split approach which, on the one hand expects the current applicants pay to the County to salvage their own long pending permits, then switch to a zoning-use permit approach sometime after that. This probably explains the unanimous support on Tuesday since it combines two highly unlikely “solutions” — salvage the current system then switch to a zoning/use-permit system later — to satisfy both the refrom faction of McCowen and Williams, and the stick-with-the-current-mess faction (Haschak, Brown and Gjerde) on the Board. 

The Board is doubling down on the existing failed program by asking hundreds of pre-paid applicants to pony up the millions of dollars Williams estimates are required just to try to deal with those pending applications — some of which won’t even be approved. Then they’ll blindly move into Phase 3 on a tight state-imposed deadline in hopes that McCowen’s fantasy that the “many potential applicants who would like to apply for Phase 3” will magically appear from out of the hinterlands, checkbooks in hand, and undertake an as-yet undefined zoning-use-permit approach which McCowen and Williams obviously prefer.

The Board set Tuesday, October 13 for a special follow-up meeting to deal with the impossible tasks they unanimously voted for last Tuesday. But it will be a while after that before the current applicants find out how much they’ll be asked to contribute for the euphemistic “cost recovery.”

The whole fiasco reminds me of Aesop’s “The Fox & The Grapes” fable where a fox tries to grab some wonderful-looking grapes from a vine that is too high for the fox to reach. After jumping and jumping and jumping with nary a grape, rather than admit defeat the fox declares them inedible and departs. In the Mendo version, the fox, still in search of grapes somewhere — he was told they’d bring him riches beyond imagining — then wanders off in search of grapes in the forest where there are no grapes at all.

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by Jim Shields

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last week at the age of 87.

Ginsburg served 27 years on the nation’s highest court. She was the second female and the first Jewish female justice of the Supreme Court.

As a young leader in the Labor Movement in the 1970s and 80s, I first became aware of Ginsburg as the architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s. RBG was a major player in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and advocated for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Before she became a judge, she argued six sex-discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five.

To give you some insights into Ginsberg’s character and legal and practical thinking, let’s look at a labor case — Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber — that wended its way to the Supreme Court in 2007.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for 19 years as a supervisor. Over the 19 years she was consistently given low remarks on her work-evaluation and salary reviews; which led to low raises compared to her male counter-parts. Ledbetter sued Goodyear for gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that the company had given her a low salary because of her gender.

The jury found in Ledbetter’s favor and the court awarded her $3.5 million, and the district judge would later reduce that amount to $360,000.

Goodyear appealed, citing Title VII provision that states that the discrimination complaint needed to be made within 180 days of the company’s so-called discrimination.

Ginsburg found herself on the losing side of Ledbetter’s wage discrimination lawsuit, so she urged Congress to right the Supreme Court’s wrong.

“This is not the first time the Supreme Court has ordered a cramped interpretation of a landmark employment discrimination law,” Ginsburg wrote in her opinion citing a pair of decisions that were later overruled by a 1991 federal law.

“As in 1991, the Legislature may act to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.”

According to Oyez, a multimedia archive devoted to Supreme Court reporting, “The facts of this case mixed her passion of federal procedure and gender discrimination. She broke with tradition and wrote a highly colloquial version of her dissent to read from the bench. She also called for Congress to undo this improper interpretation of the law in her dissent, and then worked with President Obama to pass the very first piece of legislation he signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a copy of which hangs proudly in her office.”

The Ledbetter Act requires employers to redouble their efforts to ensure that their pay practices are non-discriminatory and to make certain that they keep the records needed to prove the fairness of pay decisions.

It also allows individuals to file charges of alleged pay discrimination (under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act) without regard to the statutory charge filing period.

Instead of just passively accepting a bad decision by a majority of her colleagues on the Supreme Court, Ginsberg took another route urging Congress to right a legal wrong. Surprisingly the politicians followed her advice.

Amazing woman.

Restaurant Dining Risky?

A reader sent me a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that advises eating at restaurants could be a risky thing to do during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity,” the CDC said.

Of the 314 people tested, about half tested positive and half negative. The tests were at healthcare facilities in California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

Researchers asked each participant what they had done two weeks before getting tested for the coronavirus, including wearing masks or going to restaurants, bars, salons or gyms.

Both people who tested positive and those who tested negative gave similar answers, except when it came to going to restaurants. The data show people who tested positive were significantly more likely to eat at restaurants in “any area designated by the restaurant, including indoor, patio, and outdoor seating.”

The National Restaurant Association said that it has not found “evidence of systemic spread of the coronavirus coming from restaurants.”

“In effect, the lack of a direct correlation should be evidence that, when restaurants demonstrate effective mitigation efforts, the risk is low when dining outside or inside,” the National Restaurant Association said in an email statement to McClatchy News. “The methodology used in the recent CDC article focused on the transmission of COVID-19 and restaurant visits contains numerous flaws, and the conclusions of the study are insufficient to guide consumer behavior.”

According to the CDC, “Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Efforts to reduce possible exposures where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking, should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”

I don’t know about you but I’m following the advice of the National Restaurant Association because scientists don’t know everything, even though they think they do. Besides we’re allowed to disagree with the experts when they’re wrong, don’t you think?

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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TRUMP'S Supreme Court nominee is advertised as a "strict constructionist" in the mold of Scalia, who she apparently idolizes, both of them claiming to be devoted to the founding document written by white male aristocrats and slave owners who didn't want non-property owners to vote let alone elected to office. Because "strict constructionism" fits perfectly with 21st century Yob-ism and its standard bearer, Trump, hence rightwing enthusiasm for Amy Coney Barrett, clearly an admirable person in her private life with her family's adoption of two Haitian orphans but not, by any definition, a person of broad understanding. If it weren't for the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments, the Constitution would be more antiquated than it is, and often not applicable to contemporary issues. In a fundamental way, though, people like Barrett and Trump's other picks truly are the solid psychic descendents of the founding bro's.

THE LOOMING ELECTION is unique for lots of reasons, but one reason shared by millions goes unspoken — nobody, Democrat, Republican, Green, Flat Earther, Whatever, expects things to get better with either Trump or Biden, and millions of us know in our bones that it's probably chaos from here on until the warmed globe wipes us all out.

TOMMY WAYNE KRAMER'S must-read Sunday column in the Ukiah Daily Journal this Sunday morning neatly describes local lib hypocrisy, especially its Ukiah branch where you have some lawyers, oodles of therapists, hard-hitting members of Mendo College's confederacy of dunces, er, faculty, and, natch, several self-alleged poets, demanding an end to his column and every other opinion they don't agree with. The AVA of course has long been a target of these bringers of light, as nasty a crew on a personal level as you'll encounter anywhere among any political group up to and including the Klan. The only caveat I have about my esteemed colleague's indictment of all the correct people is his casual indictment of socialism as defined just as carelessly by conservatives around the country, not a single one of whom apparently has the slightest informed knowledge of what it is. As a democratic socialist myself, and exhausted after years of trying to teach the unteachable the distinction, he said with a martyred sigh, let me define it in basic terms, so basic even all you C students out there will get it. Ready? It's the deployment of a small part of the national treasure, garnered via taxes on the super wealthy, for national programs that benefit the vast majority of Americans — housing, jobs, education, medical care, transportation. We had it once under Franklin D. Roosevelt, an aristo himself whose aristo cousin, Teddy, denounced his peers — “the malefactors of wealth” — as the menaces they are to political democracy, and they've never been a greater menace to even a semblance of democracy than they are now and as represented by both political parties. (The PBS documentary on the Roosevelts is wonderful and highly recommended by Boonville's beloved weekly.) Into the Eisenhower years the malefactors of wealth were taxed up to 90% and way over 70%. But then Americans got fatter and dumber, and here we are.

SIGNAGE UPDATE, Anderson Valley: Two for Trump, one on AV Way, one at the junction of 253 and 128, but three Biden-Harris posters in that traditional hotbed of bolshevism, Boonville's Airport Estates. In '72, Mendo went overwhelmingly for Nixon by something like 80% to 20%, but the hippies had just moved into the hills and were still focused on stoned grab ass, only bothering to vote if a comrade from a full moon boogy was running for something. This election? Most Trumpers keep it to themselves so it's hard to even estimate their numbers, but I'd bet they'll get about 40% of the vote, which is usually the Northcoast split. The farther east you go, that split is reversed, and by the time you get to I-5 the split is 90% Trumpers, 10% Democrats.

ONE MORE illustration of Anderson Valley's historically fluid demographic happened with me in a recent personal experience, which I realize occurred against the national statistic that the average American moves 15 times over the course of his long life. AV seems, though, even more transient, especially lately. I sold my truck to a man I'd seen around town for at least ten years, and friendly-type dude that I am, I'm sure I've often good-vibed him with a friendly greeting. But when the man arrived at my office to complete our transaction, he looked around at what he seemed to think was odd decor, and said, “What do you guys do in here anyway?”

ANOTHER true story from Boonville, one that still bothers me after a year or so. I was visiting a friend. Also visiting this friend was a Bay Area couple. The female of the two was startlingly rude to me, so rude I thought she must know me somehow or she's repelled by my newspaper. (It's been known to happen.) When I said hello she turned her back on me and muttered a couple of insults like, "Not interested" and "Go away." I was nonplussed. And would have called her on it but I didn't want to offend my hostess. After all, this beast was her guest. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Beast's mate. He was walking a pair of decadent dogs — carefully coiffed poodles — bearded, purple shirt and rainbow suspenders holding up cordurays. Computing this visual as it related to his nut case partner, well, "There's more loose than locked up," as my dear old grandmother always said.

THE LAST TIME someone was directly rude to me happened years ago when I was invited to talk to Coast Rotary, not an audience particularly receptive to the Boonville weekly's message, however defined. I used to do a lot of talking to "service" groups and other organized hostiles out of the deluded notion that I was building circulation. No more. Anyway, my host was introducing me to the noon hour drunks at the bar of the Little River Inn when one guy says, "I don't want to meet him." I snatched him by his shoulders, leaned into his face and said, "But I've been dying to meet you." Had no idea who he was or cared, but even low intensity hands-on is better than letting the direct insult slide. Been directly insulted plenty of times since, but that's been in mass scenes where I was invited to speak to "progressives" about this or that issue. In those situations, tempting as it always is to punch a few of them, I didn't because I wanted to get invited back.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE for Biden at Tuesday's debate, as if his handlers might solicit advice from Boonville. Since it's impossible to debate a guy like Orange Man, especially you, Joe, with your obvious verbal deficits, shouldn't even try. Maybe an occasional sarcastic shrug his way, but otherwise ignore whatever topsy turvy nonsense he's saying. Treat him like he's cuckoo, not quite all there, and stick to your script of whatever false promises the DNC has prepared for you. Big mistake trying to engage Trump in this format. Kicking off Tuesday's farce, Trump said Sunday he wants Biden drug-tested before the debate, which made me laugh but it's the kind of thing Trump does well, like it's all professional wrestling. Come off sober and responsible and you've got him.

ACCORDING to Adam Goodman in his book The Deportation Machine, Goodman estimates that some 57 million people have been deported from the U.S. since the 1880s, far more than the number of immigrants who were allowed to stay. "Officials have long used everyday policing, immigration raids, and mass expulsion drives to remove unauthorized immigrants from the country, but they have also relied on rumors and publicity blitzes surrounding these initiatives to spur self-deportation."

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, September 27, 2020

Carrigg, Ceja, Flinton, French

SONO CARRIGG, Ukiah. Camping in Ukiah. (Frequent flyer.)


SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

AMBER FRENCH, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Jimenez, Macias, Pedrona, Vanderploeg

JUSTIN JIMENEZ, Willits. Vehicular manslaughter in commission of unlawful act with gross negligence.

UBALDO JIMINEZ, Willits. (Ed note: Mr. ‘Jiminez’ [spelled with two i’s, not the usual way] is listed as being 23 years old and having been booked into the County jail last Saturday, September 19. There is no booking photo. His charges are listed as “offense code not in table,” and the disposition of his case is listed as “other need comment.” His bail was set at $0, but there’s no release date. At first we thought Mr. Jiminez, who we can’t find any prior arrests for btw, might have been turned over to INS for illegal entry, but usually, if that’s the case, the charges include “illegal entry.” We have waited to post his name in the Catch of the Day for several days now hoping the mystery would be clarified. But it has not been.)

JESUS MACIAS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

SALVADOR PEDROZA, Willits. DUI, child endangerment, probation revocation.

CHRISTOPHER VANDERPLOEG, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation.

* * *

* * *

WITH CUSTOMARY PANACHE, our Chief Executive has honored Ruth Bader Ginsburg's long service and final wish by nominating a fanatical religious zealot for her SCOTUS seat.

A Ginsburg Brigade should encircle the U.S. Supreme Court, renew and replace itself as needed, and quietly stay. Let the people sustain and celebrate them.

* * *

Robert Jordan, wiping out the stew bowl with bread, explained how the income tax and inheritance tax worked. "But the big estates remain. Also, there are taxes on the land," he said. 

"But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes. Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary. They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here," Primitivo said.

"It is possible."

"Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here."

"Yes, we will have to fight."

"But are there not many fascists in your country?"

"There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.” 

― Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

* * *


  1. Joe September 28, 2020

    BREAKING: @IlhanOmar connected cash-for-ballots harvesting scheme EXPOSED

    “Money is the king in everything”; harvester boasts harvesting HUNDREDS of 2020 absentee ballots ILLEGALLY! “Numbers do not lie...these here are all absentee ballots…my car is full…”#BallotHarvesting
    — James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) September 28, 2020

    • Pat Kittle September 28, 2020

      Such mahvelous & vibrant diversity, enriching the fabric of our otherwise stale pale culture!

      (Did I say that right?)

      • Joe September 28, 2020

        Except in this case Newsweek has nothing and O’Keefe did actual investigative reporting with facts and video interviews of all of it but thanks for playing Harv enjoy your giggles.

  2. Joe September 28, 2020

    RE ED:

    Book compares our political reality to professional wrestling.

    Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle Paperback – October 5, 2010
    by Chris Hedges

  3. Joe September 28, 2020

    RE ED: Supreme Court and Constitution- Where is it optional?

    As noted below in Article VI, all federal officials must take an oath in support of the Constitution:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    “I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

  4. Pat Kittle September 28, 2020

    If Saint Ruth Ginsberg wasn’t so damn selfish & egotistical, she would have stepped down when her allies suggested she do so.

    But noooo, she had to cling to power to the bitter end, self-sabotaging her own “dying wish.”

    Despite her seething undying contempt for Trump, he at least showed up for her memorial, where you’d think everyone would at least be civil. Instead, he get booed. I don’t blame him for saying the hell with it, I’m done with her, I owe her NOTHING.

    (For the record, I’m pro-abortion, with the caveat that abortion be painless for the fetus.)

    • friscobruce September 28, 2020

      And the fetus’ means of communication?

      • Pat Kittle September 28, 2020

        Excellent question.

        Modern medical technology is very likely capable of administering an effective anesthesia.

  5. chuck dunbar September 28, 2020

    ED NOTES: Regularly, one of the best parts of MCT–Today’s is especially fine–smart and sharp, insightful, entertaining, funny. Thanks, Mr. Bruce.

  6. Lazarus September 28, 2020


    So when the failed law expires in 2021, immediately all the growers who had the ability to get legal, will be considered criminals under the law. Who should actually be considered criminals are the suits who put this bullshit in motion.

    I hear, for months if not longer, McCowen and Brown would not listen to any criticism of the failed pot permit process. When you strip all the excuses and incompetence away, what’s left is a select group, who have issues of where and how the dope can be grown. To placate those powerful people, a system of nearly impossible compliance was put into the process, while no one was looking or cared.

    The County has killed their Golden Goose. If the dope permit deal was rigged like wine, the money from the pot would flow like the water does to all them vintners who run Big Ag in the Mendo.

    Be Safe……

  7. George Hollister September 28, 2020

    for Biden at Tuesday’s debate

    Biden will have to be ready to deal with Chris Wallace, too. So will Trump. Biden will have to do better than chuckle and make light of everything.

    • Pat Kittle September 28, 2020

      Media shysters are already busy lowering expectations for the senile fool, so if he manages not to drool on the lectern their talking heads can ever-so-thoughtfully conclude that he at least drew a stalemate.

      (I mean no disrespect to anyone suffering from mental collapse, but a sociopath like Biden deserves no respect, especially when he’s being shoved into the position he is so abysmally unqualified for.)

      We all know the whole idea is to get him elected so he can be soon replaced with Kamala’s husband I mean Kamala.
      — [ ]

  8. Ted Williams September 28, 2020


    “In effect, Tuesday’s decision is an ill-considered split approach which, on the one hand expects the current applicants pay to the County to salvage their own long pending permits, then switch to a zoning-use permit approach sometime after that.”

    This is not accurate. The action on Tuesday did not ask cultivators to “pay to the County to salvage their own long pending permits”. Cultivators who submitted applications with payment deserve follow through. Which step of the process do you see as not feasible? I see a trail of inaction, but conceptually, I don’t see impossibility.

    Nobody is talking about switching permitted cultivators from one model to another. It’s foreseeable that the appropriate model for grandfathering legacy cultivators is not the same as the ideal model for new applicants.


    • Lazarus September 28, 2020

      As Grannie used to say, “What a bunch of gobbledygook…!

      Be Swell,

      • James Marmon September 28, 2020


        “Once a criminal, always a criminal”

        -Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

  9. Douglas Coulter September 28, 2020

    Get yer thinkin right
    Luke’s Lyrics
    A song by Douglas Coulter

    I’m not the messiah I’m just his stunt double
    And my crucifixion won’t save anyone
    I’m the moldy throw in the bath house of Shiva
    The jacuzzi drain clogged by hair of the gods
    I’m Job’s little brother ignored by creation
    Lost to the pages of old epic poems

    Yet my laughter still lives in the wind the finish line is where I begin

    Locked up in a box cause I failed your communion
    My thinking is flawed but at least it’s my own
    The man with no eyes can’t keep me from smiling
    Ankle chains don’t slow me down when I run
    Shake off your hounds in the swamps and cathedrals
    Where road gangs worship and drool at a blond

    Still my laughter survives in the wind the finish line is where I begin

    I swallowed all fifty of your hard boiled curses
    Held my hand close when I’m fresh out of cards
    Saul holds the cloaks while the crowd presses Stephen
    They gather up stones and they cover their ears
    The message of martyrs is stronger than reason
    Blackjacks and shotguns can’t wash off its stain

    While my laughter remains in the wind the finish line is where I begin

    Alone I my frolic in a bi-polar playground
    Mood-swings and slides depression can bring
    These monkey bars forming the cage you have built me
    Razor wire cushions me ere I should fall
    Please can you tell me, “who taught her to teeter”
    And how in the world could I dream that I’m cool

    Now my laughter it dwells in the wind the finish line is where I begin

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