- Cooler Breeze
- 1025 Cases
- Flu Shots
- Halloween Parade
- Hemp Ordinance
- FB News
- Windsor Cafe
- FB Water
- Officer Shaw
- Name Changers
- Surviving Fire
- Lighthouse Ruins
- Church Service
- Old Mendocino
- Ed Notes
- Sanitizing Bunyan
- Bourns Landing
- Greedy Weeders
- PA Lighthouse
- PA Dropbox
- Yesterday's Catch
- VP Debate
- Mendo Kids
- Prop 19
- Commercial Use
- Roy Orbison
- Assange Case
- Espionage Act
- Opposing Hemp
- Capitalism v Future
- Sheriff Support
- Celine Eject
- Humane Policing
- Quiche Request
- Trump Losing
- Galaxy Season
- David Park
- Illegal Profit
- Card Signing
- Bully Behavior
- Found Object
COOLER AND MORE HUMID CONDITIONS accompanied by occasionally breezy west to southwest winds are expected across the region today through Saturday. In addition, light rain will be possible Saturday, with the highest accumulations of up to three quarters of an inch expected over portions of Del Norte County. Otherwise, drier weather and gusty north winds will develop Sunday into Monday. (NWS)
CHANCE OF RAIN SATURDAY. National weather service now says there’s a 40% chance of rain late Saturday with “less than a tenth of an inch possible.” Otherwise sunny/cloudy with highs in 70s and 80s and lows in 50s and upper 40s.
FOUR MORE COVID CASES in Mendo on Wednesday, bringing total to 1025.
FLU SHOTS. AV Health Center staffers will be giving flu shots in the high school parking lot, 4-6pm on Wednesday, October 21st.
SUPES APPROVE FUNDING SHERIFF TO COMBAT POT VIOLENCE; HEMP PILOT PROGRAM OK’D
by Jim Shields
It came as no surprise on Tuesday, Oct. 6, when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a funding request by Sheriff Matt Kendall to obliterate a spike in violent pot robberies (I’ll have more on this later but the plan is to tap various state pot tax-and-fee generated funds available for law enforcement), as well as giving the go-ahead to a 2-year pilot program that allows industrial hemp cultivation, the latter by a 3-2 vote (John Haschak, Ted Williams no). The Hemp Program was ok’d by Supes Carre Brown, Dan Gjerde, and John McCowen despite opposition from cannabis growers and organizations that represent the pot industry.
According to a staff report, the pilot program is designed to last for two years, 2021 and 2022. A maximum of five licenses will be issued in each year, with applicants for licenses selected through a request for proposals process. Hemp cultivation shall not be allowed without the issuance of a County license by the Agricultural Commissioner.
The County’s existing moratorium on hemp cultivation would expire in February 2021, and no further extensions are available.
The new program ordinance replaces a February 26, 2019, urgency Ordinance that temporarily prohibited the cultivation of industrial hemp, pending a study and consideration of land use and existing regulations pertaining to such activity. The urgency ordinance was adopted in response to concerns regarding the compatibility of industrial hemp and commercial cannabis, as well as uncertainty regarding how we regulate industrial hemp. The Board of Supervisors later extended the moratorium on April 9, 2019, and again on February 4, 2020.
The new ordinance provides for certain standards for industrial hemp cultivation, which are intended to limit the potential impact of hemp cultivation on cannabis cultivation in the County. In particular, all industrial hemp cultivation must use cloned plants, male hemp plants shall be prohibited, and cultivation for the purpose of seed or nursery production is prohibited. A primary concern of the urgency ordinance adopted by the County was that male hemp pollen would travel from hemp cultivation sites to cannabis cultivation sites, where it would cross-pollinate with female cannabis plants and diminish the value of the cannabis. The goal of the standards stated in the ordinance is to minimize the risk.
According to the County Ag Department, since “industrial hemp is an agricultural crop under federal and state law, and is reasonably classified as a row and field crop as defined in section 20.032.015 of the Mendocino County Code. A row and field crop is defined as ‘premises devoted to the cultivation for sale of agricultural products grown in regular or scattered patterns such as vines, field, forage and other plant crops intended to provide food or fibers.’ Row and field crop is a use allowed by right in many zoning districts. The regulations proposed by this ordinance purely restrict agricultural crop production by placing a cap on the number of cultivation sites, requiring a request for proposals process, and places limitations on the types of plants that may be cultivated. The regulations are limiting activities that would otherwise be allowed and provide for oversight and enforcement; the regulations do not expand allowable uses or activities.”
Among a number of objections to the new Hemp Ordinance, the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance (MCA) stated, “This current pilot program proposal indicates that hemp production would be allowed in any zone in which row and field crop cultivation is allowed, where the parcel size is more than 10 acres. This would include Rangeland, Forestland, and Timber Production Zones, where installation of new cannabis cultivation sites is currently prohibited, even at the maximum canopy size of 1⁄4 acre allowed in the county. Allowing hemp production in these zones, perhaps at scales 10 or more times the size of that allowed for cannabis with far less environmental compliance requirements, could easily and quickly have a far more dramatic environmental impact on our county than the entire cannabis program.”
MCA also pointed out that “According to a 2019 article by James DeDecker at the Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, “Industry experts recommend a minimum distance of 10 miles between outdoor cannabis fields. Research has shown that pollen can travel much further than 10 miles, but the amount of pollen transported decreases logarithmically with increasing distance from the source. Therefore, the risk of pollination should be negligible beyond ten miles from a pollen source. This proposal does not include a minimum distance requirement. In fact, as a practical matter, it would be difficult to impose a distance that is sufficient to protect against pollen drift.”
(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: http://www.kpfn.org)
MENDOCINO COAST COVID-19 UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 5, 2020
by Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager
First, the City Council downgraded the City’s Water Emergency from a Stage 2 to a Stage 1 Emergency on September 28, 2020. The primary difference is that Stage 1 water conservation measures target a 10% water reduction and set forth a number of mandatory water saving actions. Those can be found on the City’s website. Stage 2 water conservation measures target a 20% water reduction and require all of the Stage 2 water saving actions plus it forbids watering ornamental landscaping and lawns. With the cooler weather and onset of fall, the flows in the Noyo river have risen. We expect to keep the Stage 1 Water Emergency in place until at least the end of October and the end of the high tides that can inhibit the City’s ability to pump water from the Noyo.
The City has continued to test the City’s sewer for COVID. The most recent results reported a “None Detected” for the two strains of COVID-19. While the strength and presence of COVID-19 in the sewer are helpful to gather information in the long term, it provides no information to help identify who is COVID-19 positive. More recently, test results have borne some relationship to the number of reported active cases in the 95437 zip code, as provided by Mendocino County. Keep in mind that the 95437 zip code expands beyond the City’s sewer service. The history of the test results is provided below:
For low and moderate income households who may be having difficulty paying their rent due to COVID-19, funds are still available through the City’s Tenant Based Rental Assistance program. Assistance is provided on a first come, first served basis to qualified applicants who reside within City Limits. Please call (707) 961- 2823, extension 106 or email email@example.com. In addition to the City’s TBRA program, the State of California extended its COVID eviction protections through January 31, 2021. There are several requirements that tenants seeking the protections must meet and landlords have a duty to provide certain information to their tenants or they may be fined.
For more information visit landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/.
The website also provides information about protection for homeowners and landlords with four or fewer properties who may be experiencing difficulty making their mortgage payments because of COVID-19.
Chief Naulty and Sheriff Kendall have both reported an increase in behavioral health issues and domestic violence calls for service. A friend told me that she recently called her employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to make an appointment and it was a six week waiting period. Just a reminder that there are services available and places to call if you need crisis or non-crisis support. The 24/7 toll free crisis line, if you need help right away and are a danger to yourself or others, is 1-855-838-0404. Mendocino County has a Warm Line that provides non-crisis support and compassion for Mendocino County residents. It is also free and confidential. Call 1-833-955-2510 or (707) 472-2311.
Project Sanctuary, whose mission is to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, provides a number of services. For coastal services, please call (707) 463-4357. Safe Passage, also here in Fort Bragg, provides help for victims of domestic and sexual violence. As a side note, the City Council will be recognizing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month at its October 13, 2020 regular meeting. Finally, but not least, the Fort Bragg Unified School District provides families social-emotional support for enrolled students through school counselors at each site. Just reach out directly to your child’s school and ask for the Counselor.
As an update on the City’s economic health, the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) or hotel tax receipts have been tallied for July and August. Revenue for July was down just 10% from the prior year and August revenue was up 14% over August 2019. The City is projecting similar results for September and October.
I regularly get asked about when the C.V. Starr Community Center will be able to reopen. At this point, it isn’t about the sales tax revenue but the Mendocino County Shelter in Place order, and the State of California’s tiered reopening schedule, which currently requires all purple tier businesses, including indoor pools and indoor gym and fitness facilities, to be closed.
Lastly, a couple of updates on upcoming City Meetings. On October 13, a Tuesday because of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the City Council will consider approving Budget Amendment No. 5 and a Request for Proposals (RFP) scope of work for professional services to prepare a commercial cannabis cultivation ordinance. At the October 14, 2020 Planning Commission meeting, the Commissioners will consider recommendations for a Formula Business Ordinance. If you haven’t already, share your thoughts on Formula Businesses by completing a short survey: surveymonkey.com/r/25MQNHH.
FORT BRAGG WATER, AN EXCHANGE
Listserve commenter #1: "If you live in Fort Bragg and are on city water - and you use a Brita (or other brand) water filter in a pitcher: have you noticed that your filter is getting clogged quickly? I changed ours twice in the last 2 weeks. Usually only every 2 months. But the water stopped flowing through the filter all the way, which means it was clogged. I called the city but have not heard back."
Listserve commenter #2: "The City of Fort Bragg's main source of water is Madsen Hole, about 5 miles up the Noyo River, and during periods of low flow, like now, one can walk across the river just 50 feet upstream from the pumping station because it's so shallow, so they can't draw too much water too fast, or they get a pulse of sediment into the pipeline to the settling ponds.
"And, during summer/fall low flow periods and high tides, brackish water actually comes up that far, so the City has to switch to getting water stored in the Summers lane reservoir (only a 2 week supply), which certainly collects ash, just like the Madsen Hole settling ponds at the City corporation yard on Cedar street do.
"When I moved into this rental 17 years ago I had a low cost whole house water filter installed, and I also use a Multi-pure stainless steel counter top water filter at the kitchen sink for drinking and cooking water, I made a custom ceramic stand for it so it's not so industrial looking.
"All the water in my house is filtered, it's great, no chlorine or other smells when showering and such."
OFFICER SHAW RETURNS
The Fort Bragg Police Department would like to announce that former Fort Bragg Police Officer Joe Shaw has returned to the department.
After hearing about Officer Shaw's return to reside in the city of Fort Bragg, the department was more than willing to accept a returning officer. The department is still facing issues with being understaffed, and returning officers are always welcomed.
The hiring process was initiated, and this morning the Honorable City Clerk, June Lemos, swore Officer Shaw in as a Police Officer for the Fort Bragg Police Department.
Officer Shaw returns to the department with over seven years of experience, with additional employment with a Central Valley law enforcement organization.
(Presser from Fort Bragg Police Chief John Naulty)
PACKING THE FORT BRAGG NAME CHANGE COMMITTEE
From the Fort Bragg Advocate News:
Name Change Meetings Have Been ‘Fraught’
Councilor Jessica Morsell-Haye spoke about the Citizen’s Name Change Commission during the councilors’ personal report time. Morsell-Haye took the lead on the advisory committee that formed after the question of a name change for the city came up as an issue in July. She said the commissioners are “having a hard time aligning,” but was not specific with examples.
She did say that she had decided to add two more commissioners to the process — Andy Wellspring and Christy Olson Day — “in order to bring more balance to the dialogue.”
“At (the first) meeting it became really clear that we needed more balance in the philosophical piece of it,” she said. “I felt it was important to have some representation from people in our community who are, essentially, BIPOC allies.” She called Wellspring and Olson Day “diplomatic and open minds,” with “active approaches to the subject matter.”
Morsell-Haye said she consulted on the decision with Vice Mayor Bernie Norvell, who was originally assigned to co-lead the committee with her. According to Morsell-Haye, Norvell disagreed with her decision to add more commissioners, but allowed her to take the lead and the “fallout,” she said. Norvell said he has removed himself from the commission, stating that he felt it was unfair to have such a strong council presence — two councilors — on a citizen’s commission.
The letter Olson Day sent to the City/Council regarding the city’s name change:
A post by Morsell-Haye about race:
LESSONS FROM 1931’S FIRE SEASON
(Kelley House note: For any readers unclear about the concept of defensible space, please read about the massive 1931 Comptche Fire and how people survived in the middle of a firestorm. It’s a good lesson on what saves lives.)
On Sept. 22, 1931, the easterly and southeasterly portions of the Comptche settlement were swept by the worst fires in the history of the coast, The Mendocino Beacon newspaper reported then. It was a quick and dirty fire that burned more than 33,000 acres 89 years ago, but a story that can help homeowners prepare for today.
Homeowner Charlotte Layton had a lovely home at Hayslett Hill on a ridge northeast of Comptche Corners. She was milking six cows to sell milk and cream, her barn was full of hay and feed for the winter, and her hog was getting fat. She had a ton of potatoes dug up and sacked and stored and 3009 quarts of canned fruit, vegetable, jellies, and meat in her pantry. Life was good.
Driving to town and the post office at Comptche Corners at noon people noticed smoke in the air. (Sound familiar?) It seemed to be coming from the direction of Big River and Nathaniel Smith Opening to the northeast. Driving to where they could see down into the drainage, locals said it sounded like a steam locomotive engine roaring uphill traveling towards Comptche. Everyone headed home to get ready.
Layton had a ranch hand drive her around to warn neighbors and turn out stock. She found her three children returning from school but discovered access back to the county road was cut off by flames. In her account of the event, Layton stated, “The wind was blowing an 80-mile gale.”
With flames moving in on her home 14 neighbors gathered at the Victor Del Grosso home to make a stand. Why? It was in the middle on a wide grassy meadow with no timber nearby. It had defensible space around it. That term hadn’t been invented yet — but that’s what they had.
They parked a REO Touring Car, a Chevy and a Whippet Sedan nearby and started wetting everything down as best they could. Men on the roof used wet cloth, curtains and soaked quilts, slapping them up and down to extinguish embers. All interior curtains were wet down, and the children hidden in an inside room. They fought on, exhausted, while their world burned down around them.
Neighbors in town were frantic to know if the folks on the ridge survived. Men finally walked up through the fire-swept countryside in the dark of night, certain no human beings could have lived through such fire, smoke and heat. They were overjoyed to find 14 survivors, and while the Del Grosso family stayed, the rest of the folks hiked under fallen trees, over burned culverts and along blackened ridges, to reach the valley floor where they were sheltered by neighbors at intact houses.
It was a capricious fire — jumping all over the place. It burned as far west as Melbourne (the current Tunzi Ranch), round the ridges on north of the Comptche Valley, and up the hills to the east. It sent fingers of flame down on to the valley floor, one coming within a half-mile of our Tahja family ranch a mile east of Comptche Corners. It spread south, endangered the Keene Summit area, spread through the Flynn Hills, and darn near made it to the Navarro River.
All this, from Big River to the Navarro River, in little over a day.
Charlotte Layton lost everything. She found some livestock and her dog and cat survived in the orchard, but she had to start over. The Red Cross actually came in, built her a simple home, and even gave her cows and feed for them. They also built cabins for other burned-out settlers. It was an organization trained to help, even during the Great Depression.
Lumber companies hired crews to fight the fire. Backfires were set to create barriers. No one wanted to see the fire jump Flynn Creek and get into timberlands then owned by Southern Pacific Railroad. Two million young trees, about four years old planted for reforestation, went up in flames. The fire didn’t spread further but flames remained in stumps and roots until the winter rains came.
How did that fire start? Mendocino Lumber Company was offering a $250 reward in 1932 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the fire starter. No luck. But rumors went on for years.
It did not start from logging, as there was none in operation within five miles of the origin of the fire. The best guess was deer hunters. Trying to make better hunting grounds along Big River, they wanted the brush out of the way and started a brush fire. No one was ever blamed.
So, think about that Del Grosso home sitting in its wide-open meadow and think about defensible space around where you live. Keep it open around your home. Be fire safe. (And don’t stack your dry winter firewood on your front porch!)
(Courtesy, Kelley House Museum)
ANDERSON VALLEY/PHILO UNITED METHODIST CHURCHES
P. O. BOX 483, Boonville
Joint Worship Services will be held Sunday 11:00 A.M., on Highway 128
Even months we meet in Philo
Odd months we meet in Boonville
Christmas Eve Service — Philo 6:30 p.m.
Information: Boonville: Jo, 694-4566 or Philo: Shirley — 895-3750
Due to COVID 19, the Churches are closed until further notice
ANOTHER SATISFIED CUSTOMER. A woman I didn't recognize approached me outside Lemons this morning while I was peddling my papers. "I'm really pissed at you, Bruce." Take a number and have a seat. Which I didn't say because I'm always curious about the reason, but even at my advanced age I still haven't adjusted to women using vulgar language, although the bi-gender air has been blue for decades, and I'm prone to throwing f-bombs myself among male company. Anyway, she said I was "totally wrong about not voting for Biden." Why? I asked. I was going to say I wouldn't vote for Biden under torture, but no need to stir the old girl up unnecessarily, and I was on the job, such as it is. She said, "We all have to vote for Biden so the election isn't even close because if it's close he won't leave." I said I understood her reasoning but that "we" have been an ineffective opposition for years because of this kind of lesser of two evil-ism, that this time it's even more depressing because the Northcoast went heavily for Bernie and here is Biden going around saying stuff like, "I'm not a socialist. I beat the socialist in the primaries." As if time capsule Bern has ever represented any kind of threat to America's social-economic order. But timid as he is, "we" voted for Bernie and, as usual, the DNC stiffed us and shoved their guy deep down our craws, knowing they could scare us into voting Republican Lite. I said all this and she listened. "Well, you're wrong, Bruce. Can I give you a hug?"
MAYBE TRUMP is suffering 'roid rage. He got off 42 unusually abusive (even for him) tweets in the last 24 hours, including one from some random nutpie who declared, "It's not republican vs democrat anymore. it's pro-america vs turn us into a third world hellhole." Then there was one picturing Michelle Obama against a background of burning buildings and general mayhem. Why there was even a big promise for California: "Vote TRUMP California. No more blackouts, shutdowns, ridiculous forrest [sic] fires, or water ‘rationing’ (coming soon). We can win in California NOW!"
WELL, WELL. Look who's here. Captain, good to see you. What? You have something to say about Trump. Be my guest:
He was no different from any other officer in the ward room, they were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn. The crew wanted to walk around with their shirt tails hanging out, that's all right, let them. Take the tow line, defective equipment, no more, no less. But they encouraged the crew to go around scoffing at me, and spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles, and then old yellow-stain. I was to blame for Lt. Maryk's incompetence and poor seamanship. Lt. Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Captain Queeg. Ah, but the strawberries, that's, that's where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory. If I left anything out, why, just ask me specific questions and I'll be glad to answer them.— Captain Queeg
I DID LIKE this one from our deranged leader: "I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!"
TRUMP, it seems to me, has a legit beef which, essentially, boils down to how the federal spy and police apparatus went after him even before he was elected. They did, and the Russian link to Trump was a hoax. It will be interesting to read the declassified confirmation. Ditto for Hillary's e-mails.
COVID CLOSES THRIFT STORE for two weeks.
A message to our community
On the afternoon of Tuesday October 6th, we received otification that an employee of the Paul Bunyan Thrift Store received a positive test result for Covid-19.
The Shop closed early and will remain closed for 2 weeks, during which time the site will be sanitized. The store is expected to reopen for business on Wednesday October 21st under the guidance of the Mendocino County Public Health Department.
The employee is being monitored by public health to oversee the quarantine process for this individual, who has been asymptomatic (without symptoms). Contact tracing within the organization is being performed.
We encourage everyone to continue to follow safety guidelines by wearing proper facial covering and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), incorporating physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and refraining from gatherings and non-essential travel. We are continuing to offer free Covid-19 testing for all employees and program participants.
Chief Executive Officer
Parents and Friends, Inc.
POT SEASON, an on-line comment: "I like clean water and fresh air. I liked the fishers who disappeared with the first clear cut pot grow, the pileated woodpecker who disappeared with the next three 2acre tree clearing exemption pot grows. I didn’t like the noise levels created by the masses of chorus frogs that lived here but find that I miss them too when they left when their water was taken to grow pot. I liked opening my windows for fresh air without having to shut them right away when the room filled with pot stink from 200 feet away. I liked the little seasonal creek running through my field that disappeared forever after the grower put up his hoop house. It was a sad exchange for the privilege of living too close to people who routinely drop their IQ by 10% each day by numbing their brains and their civility with the product that means more to them than any of the things they killed off. Actually growing pot itself did not do 90% of the damage but the greedy SOBs did it to make money. And it is a piss poor exchange. I don’t care what you want anymore than you care what I want. And if higher taxes actually checked the greedy, I wouldn’t object to it one little bit.
MAIL BALLOT DROP-OFF AT POINT ARENA VETERAN'S BUILDING/CITY HALL
On Monday, October 5, 2020, the Mendocino County Elections Office mailed all registered voters their 2020 General Election ballots. The normal delivery time is five to seven business days, so be sure to monitor your mailbox during this upcoming week.
Completed vote by mail ballots may be dropped off at the Point Arena Veteran's Hall/City Hall Drive-Thru Dropbox to the north of the building, 451 School Street, Point Arena, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, between now and election day, November 3, 2020.
Secure ballot retrieval procedures have been set up for transportation of the ballots from City Hall to the County Elections Office in Ukiah, following strict chain of custody protocols established by the County Registrar of Voters/Elections Official.
Ballots will be batched and counted several times a day by the Deputy City Clerk and another City employee and maintained in a locked ballot box in a locked and secure location at City Hall until retrieved by the County. The County will schedule pickups every other day to start and then every day as the number of ballots dropped off increases closer to Election Day.
Three Point Arena City Council seats will be on the ballot, with Scott Ignacio and Olivia Ford qualifying to run and Eric Dahlhoff qualifying to run as a "write-in" candidate for the third seat.
The last day to register-to-vote in the November 3 election is Monday, October 19.
For further information on the upcoming election, view the County of Mendocino Elections website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/assessor-county-clerk-recorder-elections/elections
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 7, 2020
ANTONIA BAUTISTA-DALSON, Covelo. Probation revocation.
RANDY BEAVER, Fort Bragg. DUI.
ELIJAH ESQUIVEL, Willits. More than an ounce of pot, felon-addict with firearm.
NEGIE FALLIS IV, Covelo. (No charges specified / released to other agency, no bond.)
BRANDON FREITAS, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
THOMAS GUYETTE JR., Ukiah. Suspended license, probation revocation.
CHRIS HUSKA, Las Vegas/Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.
PHILLIP LOPEZ JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, parole violation.
CRYSTAL MALONE, Fort Bragg. Under influence.
CHRISTOPHER SWIFT, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, contempt of court, failure to appear.
PENCE-HARRIS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: FIVE KEY TAKEAWAYS
Coronavirus was the key theme, but Harris also warned of the threat to Obamacare as both candidates dodged questions
by Adam Gabbatt in New York
The vice-presidential debate on Wednesday was less openly hostile than the Donald Trump-Joe Biden debacle last week – but provided a further insight into the state of both campaigns ahead of November.
Kamala Harris and Mike Pence met in Utah for the only vice-presidential debate of the election, separated by Plexiglass barriers as a protection against coronavirus, and seeking to advance their boss’s cases.
As Biden continues to lead Trump in the polls, the pressure was particularly on for Pence to defend the administration’s record, just days after the president tested positive for Covid-19.
From the pandemic to healthcare to the supreme court to a fly, here are the key moments.
1. Harris hammers home criticism over coronavirus response
As expected, the first question was about coronavirus in a debate dominated by the pandemic. Pence’s staff had insisted the vice-president has tested negative for Covid-19, but the two Plexiglass barriers placed between Harris and Pence served as a constant reminder of the crisis.
Harris kept her point simple. She focused on the numbers dead, and the millions of people affected.
“Here are the facts: 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last seven months. Over 7 million who have contracted this disease,” Harris said.
“We’re looking at over 30 million people who in the last seven months had to file for unemployment.”
Harris pointed out, more than once, that Trump and Pence had known about the severity of coronavirus in January, and that Trump had sought to downplay the virus.
“Over 210,000 Americans have died. Over 7 million have contracted this disease. Nearly 30 million have filed for unemployment. One in five businesses are at risk of closing.
And this administration still doesn't have a plan.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said. “This administration has forfeited their right to re-election.”
Kamala Harris addresses COVID-19 in first #VPdebate question: "The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country...This administration has forfeited their right to re-election"
2. They’re coming for you
One of the most memorable moments of the night was on healthcare, when Harris issued a stark warning about the Trump administration’s intentions.
Trump is seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which prevents health companies turning away patients with pre-existing conditions – and Harris made sure viewers knew it.
“If you have a pre-existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they’re coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they’re coming for you.”
Pence responded by claiming the Trump administration has a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions. Trump has spent years claiming he will release a comprehensive healthcare plan. We’re yet to see it.
3. Harris: ‘I’m speaking’
Donald Trump interrupted Joe Biden 71 times during the first presidential debate.
Pence cut in on Harris a lot less – perhaps because one of his early attempts was witheringly cut down by Harris.
“Mr Vice-President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking,” Harris said to Pence, as he tried to chirp in while she discussed Trump’s tax cuts.
Delivered with the tone a parent would reserve for a misbehaving child, the moment was widely shared on Twitter.
4. Pence eats up time
While the candidates didn’t interrupt each other with anything like the frequency of Trump in the presidential debate last week, this wasn’t a lesson in debate etiquette.
The phrase: “Thank you Vice-President Pence” chimed out over and over again during the entire encounter, as the moderator from USA Today, Susan Page, sought to stop Pence from taking longer than his allotted time.
It didn’t work, and just as the Fox News host Chris Wallace was criticized for his handling of the Trump-Biden debate, the sense was Page could have been stronger in forcing Pence to stick to his time limit.
5. Both candidates dodge questions
The debate topics were not released ahead of Wednesday night – but neither candidate was caught out.
Both Harris and Pence were guilty of refusing to answer some of Page’s questions – in some cases barely acknowledging questions before launching into prepared answers.
Neither candidate answered a question about whether they had discussed potentially stepping in for Trump, 74, or Biden, 77, respectively, if they were to fall ill – a question made more pressing by the president’s Covid-19 diagnosis last week.
Harris was asked if she and Biden would seek to add seats to the supreme court to increase the number of liberal justices – a move which some Democrats, including former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg have touted – but did not answer.
Pence, asked why the number of deaths per capita in the US is worse than the majority of other countries, never came close to answering.
More troublingly, Pence refused to say he would accept the results of the election – Trump did the same in the presidential debate.
5. Questions raised over Pence’s appearance
During her debate prep Harris and her team were aware of the double standard women in power are subjected to compared with men – including increased scrutiny over how women look.
Instead it was Pence whose appearance raised eyebrows.
Towards the end of the debate a fly landed on Pence’s head, where it remained for two minutes.
Total time a fly sat on Mike Pence's head: two minutes
Around the same time, “pink eye” began trending online, as numerous viewers spotted that Pence’s left eye had a distinctly pinky-red tone.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can be a symptom of coronavirus.
PROPOSITION 19’S TORTUOUS JOURNEY TO THE BALLOT
by Dan Walters
Proposition 19 shares one characteristic with most of the other 11 measures on California’s ballot this year: It rekindles a political conflict from years past.
However, Proposition 19 has meandered a particularly convoluted pathway to the ballot, which explains why it wound up with three distinct sections, to wit:
—It would expand current law’s limited right for Californians over 55 to move to new homes while retaining the taxable property values of their previous residences;
—It would erase a provision of property tax law that allows those who inherit expensive homes to retain their relatively low taxable values while converting the homes into income-producing rentals; and
—It would dedicate some of the additional revenue from the loophole closure to local and state firefighting agencies.
The first provision, dealing with transfer of property values, was the subject of a 2018 ballot measure sponsored by the California Association of Realtors. It would have expanded statewide the current right of the over-55 set to transfer values within counties, or to other counties that agreed to accept them. That’s been the law for more than 30 years, thanks to a series of voter-approved ballot measures.
Real estate brokers have an obvious interest in expansion since it would, at least in theory, generate more sales of homes that would produce more sales commissions. However, voters rejected the 2018 measure by a 3-to-2 margin.
The realtors wanted to try again in 2020 and qualified a new measure, which also included the inherited property loophole closure and a third provision, long debated in tax circles, to require reassessment of commercial property when ownership changes in a series of transactions.
The latter provision could have undermined Proposition 15, a measure sponsored by unions and other liberal interests, that would, if passed, require regular reassessment of all commercial property for tax purposes.
Thereupon, a deal was struck by the realtors, legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom to replace the initiative with a constitutional amendment that would include the first two provisions, drop the commercial property section and add the firefighting revenue as a political sweetener to take advantage of voters’ concerns about rampant wildfires.
Even so, the legislative version didn’t meet the official June 25 deadline for inclusion in the November ballot, so the Legislature quickly passed another law extending the deadline by a few days through the subterfuge of calling a concurrent special election.
Allowing heirs to keep relatively low property tax values also dates from a series of decades-old ballot measures, but two years ago, an article in the Los Angeles Times revealed that multi-million-dollar homes were being maintained as high-dollar rentals, rather than occupied by heirs.
The article focused on a Malibu home with sweeping oceans views formerly owned by actor Lloyd Bridges which his sons, actors Jeff and Beau, and their sister inherited and retained as a nearly $16,000-per-month rental. But the article also cited numerous other instances in which heirs took advantage of low property tax values to profit handsomely in the rental market.
Its uncertain whether the cosmetically altered proposal, which was designated as Proposition 19, will fare any better than the bare bones 2018 version that voters rejected. While it enjoys wider interest group support, it’s also created a political split between the California Association of Realtors and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which supports the over-55 tax shield but sees the inherited property provision as a “massive, multi-billion-dollar tax increase on California families.”
Tax reform or tax increase? Voters will decide.
WELCOME TO POINT REYES NATIONAL CATTLE RANCH
by George Wuerthner
The National Park Service has released its management plan for Agriculture in the Point Reyes National Seashore. That is right—agriculture in a national park system unit. The decision to continue livestock production in Point Reyes National Seashore demonstrates once again why allowing any commercial resource use in our parklands compromises the primary goals of our park system—which is to manage public lands for public values, not private profit.
One of our national park systems’ primary responsibilities is to maintain native ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and minimize human inference in natural ecological processes. The Park Service’s preferred management alternative compromises all these goals to benefit a handful of ranchers who have been eating at the public trough now for decades.
The Park Service’s management plan would:
1. Kill native and endangered Tule elk if conflicts arise between privately owned domestic livestock using public lands and the public’s wildlife.
2. Install a four-mile fence to separate elk from domestic cattle using OUR public lands.
3. Allow ranchers to convert grasslands to commercial row crops.
4. Allow more domestic livestock to use OUR national park for private profit.
5. And of course, we, the taxpayers, will pay for all this.
To understand all this, one needs to know the history and context.
Point Reyes National Seashore was created in 1962 after years of lobbying and effort by environmentalists, including Conrad Wirth, who became National Park Service director 1951. Before he was appointed director, Wirth led an NPS survey of the peninsula to assess its potential as a national park unit, which had recommended it be protected as a national seashore.
The peninsula’s outstanding biodiversity and scenic values were the prime motivation for protection efforts. Point Reyes is home to 460 species of birds, 876 plants, and many different marine and terrestrial mammals. The Seashore harbors a hundred listed rare, threatened, and endangered species, an incredible diversity given the seashore’s relatively small size.
This biological diversity prompted UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program to designate Point Reyes as an international biosphere reserve. California also gives the marine environment special recognization through its designations of the Point Reyes State Marine Reserve & Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area, Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve & Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area, and Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area.
Beginning in the 1960s, the federal government acquired the private lands that occupied the peninsula. As might be expected, the ranchers and Marin County Supervisors opposed the creation of the seashore. Nevertheless, ranchers were paid a substantial amount of money for their properties, often millions of dollars per ranch acquisition.
In a generous concession, the occupants of these buildings and ranchers were not required to leave the seashore immediately. Indeed, they were given a reprieve of twenty-five years or upon the death of the primary owners (whichever came first) that allowed them to continue grazing and residing in the public’s property. However, the intention was to sunset ag production at the end of that period.
But once given a reprieve, the entrenched ranchers successfully lobbied to remain on the seashore, and the twenty-five year grace period was extended several times.
This is in direct violation of the law creating the national seashore. The legislation requires that Point Reyes National Seashore “shall be administered by the Secretary without impairment of its natural values, in a manner which provides for such recreational, educational, historic preservation, interpretation, and scientific research opportunities as are consistent with, based upon, and supportive of the maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment within the area.” Permitting continued livestock operations in the park unit is not consistent with the stated legislative goals.
The word “shall” is essential. “Shall” does not give the NPS discretion to favor the ranchers’ interests over the protection of the natural environment.
About one-third of the 71,000-acre national seashore is designated a “pastoral zone,” where 15 ranch operations graze approximately 6000 cattle (more than ten times the number of Tule elk) on 28,000 acres of parkland as well as 10,000 acres in the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Also, the buildings, homes, and other structures used by the ranchers (which we own) are within the seashore. We, the taxpayers, pay for the maintenance of fences and roads on these properties. The NPS (i.e., taxpayers) receives about $500,000 in revenues from the ranch leases—less than half the Park Service’s spends to maintain them.
This lease arrangement with ranchers came to a head when drought conditions in 2012 to 2014 caused the death of half of the elk population who were trapped behind a fence constructed to keep elk confined to a small waterless 2000 acre parcel of the seashore. So the native Tule elk are sequestered on 2000 acres, while domestic livestock are given free rein on over 38,000 total acres between the two park units (Point Reyes and Golden Gate NRA).
In 2016 three groups—Western Watersheds Project, Resource Renewal Institute, and Center for Biodiversity–sued the Park Service, alleging that an environmental impact statement was needed to address the impacts of livestock production in the seashore. As part of its settlement, the agency agreed to do an environmental review.
Fast forward to 2020. The NPS released its final plan, which would give ranchers another twenty years of grazing, allow them to expand livestock operations to include chickens, pigs, goats, and sheep. Also, for the first time, ranchers will be permitted to operate B and Bs using our property as well as farm stands—using our property. And finally, in another concession to private business interests, the NPS plans to shoot Tule elk annually to maintain a population that will not compete with livestock operations or antagonizes ranchers.
The collateral damage from livestock operations includes pollution of the park’s waterways. Indeed, one stream in the park has some of the highest coliform bacteria counts found along the entire California coast. A 2013 Coastal Watershed Assessment asserted that the principal threats to water quality on Point Reyes were bacterial and nutrient pollution from ranches and dairies. In particular, the Drakes Bay, Limantour, Kehoe, and Abbotts Lagoon areas were significantly polluted—remember these are state-protected marine zones.
The ranch operations also help spread exotic plants (weeds), and livestock consumes forage that would otherwise support native herbivores, including the Tule elk.
Another NPS study confirms that the livestock operations at Point Reyes are responsible for the vast preponderance ”of greenhouse gas emissions” at the park.
Of the public comments the NPS received regarding its management proposal, 91.4 percent opposed it. Still, the NPS reminded the public that their concerns are not as important as those of the ranchers who they believe they work for at the seashore.
This shameless capitulation by the NPS to the livestock industry reflects several issues.
The politically entrenched ranchers have significant support in Marin County. Some county residents argue the ranches provide “local” food. Never mind that California has more than 5 million cows, and there is no shortage of places to produce “local” food. The ranchers also argue that their operations are “historic,” though these dairy operations are operated every bit upon the “industrial farming” model, not some quaint throwback to the 19th Century.
Finally, it is a question of equity. The ranchers were paid handsomely for their properties. Some supporters argue that the past livestock production in the park entitles ranchers to continue their operations.
Imagine, if you will, what people would say if the former owners of the lands now protected in Redwood National Park and other redwood state parks were permitted to continue to cut the old-growth forests because they once operated logging operations on these lands.
There are plenty of California places to grow cows, but few places to grow elk and other wildlife. It’s time for the National Park Service to do its duty and manage Point Reyes as directed by its founding legislation—that is, “shall be administered by the Secretary without impairment of its natural values.”
Permitting cows on the seashore’s public lands for private profit while trashing the public’s land and water and harming its wildlife does not meet this obligation.
(George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. He serves on the board of the Western Watersheds Project. Courtesy, Counterpunch.org)
THE ASSANGE EXTRADITION CASE
by Patrick Cockburn
The silence of journalists in Britain and the US over the extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is making them complicit in the criminalisation of newsgathering by the American government.
In an Old Bailey courtroom in London over the past four weeks, lawyers for the US government have sought the extradition of Assange to the US to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and one charge of computer misuse. At the heart of their case is the accusation that in leaking a trove of classified US diplomatic and military cables in 2010, Assange and WikiLeaks endanger the lives of US agents and informants.
One of the many peculiarities in this strange case is that the evidence for any such thing is non-existent. The Pentagon has admitted that it failed to find a single person covertly working for the US who had been killed as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosures. This failure was not for lack of trying: The Pentagon had set up a special military task force, deploying 120 counter-intelligence officers, to find at least one death that could be blamed on Assange and his colleagues but had found nothing.
Other allegations against Assange put forward by the lawyers for the US government are similarly flimsy or demonstrably false, yet he is still in real danger of being sent to a maximum security prison in the US after the court makes its ruling on 4 January. Once there he faces a sentence of up to 175 years and, whatever the length of his incarceration, he is likely to spend it in solitary confinement in a tiny cell.
The Assange case creates a precedent that mortally threatens freedom of the press in Britain. If Assange is extradited then any journalist who publishes information that the American authorities deem to be classified, however well-known or harmless it may be, will risk being extradited to face trial in America. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, says that non-Americans like Assange do not enjoy First Amendment rights to free expression.
The outcome of the Assange extradition hearing is a crucial tipping point which will tell if Britain and the US go further down the same path towards “illiberal democracy” as Turkey, Hungary, Brazil, India and the Philippines. What Assange and WikiLeaks did – obtaining important information about the deeds and misdeeds of the US government and giving that information to the public – is exactly what all journalists ought to do.
Journalism is all about disclosing important news to people so they can judge what is happening in the world – and the actions of their government in particular. The WikiLeaks disclosures in 2010 only differed from other great journalistic scoops in that they were bigger – 251,287 diplomatic cables, more than 400,000 classified army reports from the Iraq War and 90,000 from the Afghan War – and they were more important. [Full disclosure: I gave a statement read out in court this week seeking to explain the significance of the Wikileaks revelations.]
Astonishingly, British and American commentators are in a state of denial when it comes to seeing that what happens to Assange could happen to them. They argue bizarrely that he is not a journalist, though the Trump administration implicitly accepts that he is one, since it is pursuing him for journalistic activities. The motive is openly political, one of the absurdities of the hearing being the pretence that Trump-appointed officials provide a reliable and objective guide to the threat to the US posed by the WikiLeaks revelations.
Why has the British media been so mute about the grim precedent being established for themselves, were they to investigate the doings of a US government that makes no secret of its hostility to critical journalism. Ten years ago, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El Pais published extracts from the WikiLeak documents on their front pages for days on end, but they long ago distanced themselves from its founder. Yet, however much they may wish the contrary, their future is wrapped up in his fate.
Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor under whom the cables and war logs were printed, made this clear in an interview, saying that he had no doubt about the damage being done to freedom of the press. “Whatever we think of Assange,” he said, “what he is being targeted for is the same or similar [to what] many journalists have done, then it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists.”
The danger to a genuinely free press is, indeed, so glaring that it is a mystery why the media has, by and large, ignored the issue. Coronavirus is a contributory reason, but treating Assange and WikiLeaks as pariahs long predates the epidemic. Pundits wonder if he is a journalist at all, though he is clearly a journalist of the electronic age, publishing raw information in a different way from traditional newspapers, radio and television. His politics are unashamedly radical, which further alienates many commentators.
Far more important, however, in converting Assange from being portrayed as a heroic fighter against state secrecy into a figure beyond the pale, were the allegations of rape made against him in Sweden in 2010. This led to a Swedish prosecutorial investigation that continued for nine years, was dropped three times and three times restarted, before being finally abandoned last year as the statute of limitations approached. Assange was never charged with anything and none of this has anything to do with the extradition hearings, but it helps explain why so much of the media has ignored or downplayed the Old Bailey hearings. Many on the political right always believed that Assange belonged in jail and many progressives felt that the rape allegations alone made him anathema.
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers to the media in 1971, gave evidence to the court that he had leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War to show the public that the war was continuing though its perpetrators knew it could not be won. He said that Assange had done much the same, this time in relation to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Pentagon Papers and the WikiLeaks disclosures were similar in every way.
The saga of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is now so long and complicated that it is worth reminding oneself of the piercing light they cast on the US government’s activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. I myself first used the material from the disclosures in the summer of 2010 to explain why the Afghan government, supported by 90,000 US troops, was not winning a war that Washington claimed was in defence of democracy.
I quoted a report from an American civil affairs official in Gardez, Afghanistan, in 2007, who said that he had been bluntly informed by a member of the Afghan provincial council in the town that “the general view of the Afghans is that the current government is worse than the Taliban”. The US official lamented that this was all too true. Why this was so was explained by another US report dated 22 October 2009, this time from Balkh in northern Afghanistan, which described how Afghan soldiers and police were mistreating local civilians who refused to cooperate in a search. I wrote how the official US report said that “a district police chief raped a 16-year-old girl and when a civilian protested the police chief ordered his bodyguard to shoot him. The bodyguard refused and was himself killed by the police chief.”
Such revelations explain why the Afghan war is still going on and tens of thousands more people have died – and why the US government is so keen to put Assange in jail for the rest of his life.
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). Courtesy, Counterpunch.org)
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE EUGENE DEBS was jailed in 1918 for making a speech protesting WWI.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and stripped of his American citizenship. The Supreme Court upheld the decision. The Espionage Act has always been unfairly wielded as a weapon against all of us - not just journalists and whistleblowers. There is no good use for the Espionage Act.
COVELO CANNABIS ADVOCACY GROUP OPPOSES HEMP CULTIVATION
Dear Honorable Board of Supervisors,
We are grateful to see that our previous memo submitted in March has been attached to Agenda Item 5g for your review and consideration. We feel that we have addressed many of our concerns as it relates to the proposed Hemp Pilot Program in that memo. Rather than restate those things, we’d like to add some additional feedback.
Covid-19 has not gone away and now we face more disaster with the Oak Fire and August Complex Fire that have devastated many of our rural communities. We do not feel it is the right time to allow for a Hemp Pilot Program to begin, especially since the County is already very short staffed to tackle the many issues we face currently with our cannabis program. Each Supervisor should be very well aware of the severe crisis we are in and it is likely that the County will have to reach out to outside consultants to help tackle the mountain of applications that need to be processed for applicants to be able to receive an annual State Cultivation License. As much as we support a thriving hemp economy, our rural landscape does not support this type of cultivation especially when it stands to jeopardize our cannabis community. We would like the Board to take a bold step in banning hemp cultivation in our County. We can look to other states, such as Oregon, and it is clear that cross contamination of the 2 types of crops is a reality and many farms face seeded product as a result. We can’t take that chance with our legacy-producing region.
In regards to Agenda Item 6a, especially as it pertains to Covelo and the unfortunate uptick in violent crime associated with ILLEGALcultivation, we stand firmly behind the Sheriff and trust in his judgment to bring crime in our community to a halt. The illegal activity has become so out of control in Covelo. These large illegal cultivation sites are on the rise and when you enter our valley in the evening you can see glowing greenhouses throughout the entire community. We urge the Board to support the Sheriff in allocating funds to support the efforts to bring this issue to an end. We recognize that the problems we face in Covelo are different from other parts of Mendocino County and we encourage the Sheriff Department to focus on egregious activities and in areas like Covelo where the problem is the most severe. Without this effort, we fear the continued devastation to our health, safety, wellbeing and our environment. We must draw a line between what is acceptable in our communities and what is not. However, CCAG is concerned about where the funds will come from, especially when the County needs to find funding to properly staff our current cannabis program. There must be a pathway to legalization that is obtainable; otherwise we will never see a reduction in illegal activity. There must be equal funding for both.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on these agenda items.
for the Covelo Cannabis Advocacy Group
CANNABIS ALLIANCE SUPPORTS SHERIFF’S FUNDING REQUEST
To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors October 4, 2020 501 Low Gap Road Ukiah, CA 95482
Re: Agenda Item 6a
Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff Regarding Analyzing the Need for Increased Law Enforcement Support to Address Organized Crime (Sponsors: Supervisors Haschak and Williams)
Mendocino Cannabis Alliance supports the agenda item. We appreciate the Sheriff’s focus on egregious acts of environmental degradation and violence. In the Sheriff’s last report to MCA regarding year-to-date law enforcement actions involving cannabis, he indicated that not one of the targets or actions involved a cultivation site in good standing with the Mendocino County Cannabis Program.
We request that the Sheriff and County Staff be asked to track data for crimes related to cannabis and to clearly specify whether they involved persons in good standing with the Cannabis Program or not.
Thank you for your consideration. Mendocino Cannabis Alliance
INCREASE HUMANITY TOO, SHERIFF
Dear Honorable Supervisors,
Our Sheriff is asking the community to support him in requesting more funds for the sheriff department to increase the number of deputies. In recognition of both the important role they play in maintaining our safety with regard to armed robberies and kidnappings; and in recognition of Black Lives Matter, calls for greater humanity, training with regard to mental health and de-escalation, and more social workers among their ranks, I ask that we as the public/citizens of Mendocino County engage about what we want our Sheriff’s Department to do and how we want them to act.
While the civil rights movement for BLM continues, there are mixed messages and it appears little has been done so far to bridge the gap by first exploring with the public what they believe will be helpful to our community. We pay the Sheriff a huge portion of our tax dollars: Have we participated in defining what we request of them?
I would like to share my voice and experiences in regards to having an incarcerated family member.
A sheriff is there to force order when we, as a society, have failed to find equilibrium or meet the needs of those who turn to crime. What is being described in the BLM civil rights movement is how, archetypically, cops when at their worst, are similar to a disciplinary abusive father – they are granted authority over other people’s bodies and do not always have the emotional maturity to handle it. Harm can be done.
In child psychology we have evolved to understand that punishment does not improve behavior. Men are embracing emotional sensitivity, while, if they are healthy, recognizing that the concept of toxic masculinity does not mean that throwing out masculinity all together is healthy. A firm hand and a boundary are important. As a white woman I benefit from our police force in the traditional sense. Yet I know it must evolve to meet the demand for social justice as well as to reduce crime systematically. By still holding the firm boundary, but doing so from a humanitarian perspective, pain, suffering, and crime can be reduced in our communities.
My current experiences with the sheriff’s department support my long standing belief that they are part of the problem of our failure as a society to reduce the issues that lead to crime, even in Mendocino. We are also part of the problem. I hope the small stories I tell will illustrate the need for a new direction in how we police. I want to see our sheriff request funding for a well- rounded program that shows his department’s understanding of the need for supporting continued deep emotional development, a program that meets the times of our largest civil rights movement of a lifetime. A program that will be revolutionary, not because we cancel culture our police force and replace them, but because together we recognize the need for internal revolution, of the heart, of the maturity of a man to both hold a boundary without showing anger, of the maturity of a police person to have compassion and force with sensitivity and care in every movement, and the maturity of our community to step up and support them in this process.
I would like to ask our policemen to become some of the smartest, wisest, emotionally mature men we know. I would like them to feel and understand vulnerability in a safe place. I would like our community to create that safe place.
My brother is an addict and has been in and out of jail. He uses drugs to the point of what I would describe as self-induced schizophrenia. I believe he needs to be hospitalized and off the street. After a year in prison the state paid for him to attend rehab. Because he was previously addicted to heroin, they gave him a subscription of Suboxone while in rehab (an opiate). He and the other occupants got caught for smoking pot and were kicked out. Cannabis is not a drug we consider to be an issue in his life, while opiates like Suboxone are, and it is my family’s opinion that he should not be prescribed this drug.
He was supposed to serve another six months of prison or rehab, but instead, they let him out. His probation officer said he couldn’t leave the city limits of Ukiah and couldn’t get a job because he had to go back to rehab or prison at some unknown point in the future. His MediCal was held up, so he couldn’t fill the Suboxone prescription, and went to the ER to get it filled a couple of times, and tried to get help with the MediCal at Plowshares. Withdrawals from Suboxone results in about three weeks of vomiting, plus a longer period of sleeplessness. He was sleeping on the street during this time.
The parole officer required that my brother check in regularly, but did not accept phone calls. Instead he wanted to text. My brother borrowed a flip phone so he could call, but it did not have a texting plan. The parole officer would not answer a phone call, except on Wednesdays. When the family called him he sounded angry. We paid for a texting plan for my brother, but texting on a flip phone is not easy. Requiring someone with mental health issues to go through extra hoops for phone texting communication shows a deep lack of training and ineptitude. A social worker would recognize the many ways in which these interactions are guaranteed to result in failure.
As a homeless person, my brother was woken up in the middle of the night by police and told if they saw him again that night they would take him to jail. Later in the week when they searched him for no reason that I know of and found paraphernalia, he was riding my bike. He asked if he could lock it up so I could get it later. They refused. So he gave it to a homeless woman standing nearby. Small acts of kindness go a long way, and waiting a minute to lock up a bike should not be an inconvenience that is above them.
When he went to jail we believe that he did not receive a free phone call. We did complain but the person who answered was defensive and we let it go. Advocating for an incarcerated family member is exhausting. Our mother did receive a paid phone call, a call that required someone to run and get a credit card (not a collect call). She was not quick enough and it hung up. This lack of phone call resulted in us missing his arraignment. In an effort to contact him we called the jail and after a few days they called back to say we needed to schedule a video call. We did so and got family members together from multiple parts of the County, but the Jail did not show up. We were charged for the twenty minutes we waited on-line anyway. In the past when we tried to visit him in jail, if we were one minute late we were told we had missed the appointment, but if we were on time, we often had to wait thirty minutes to an hour before someone even checked in with us. The feeling I get is that, because we are associated with a criminal, we are subhuman and don’t need to be treated with common respect. I am an educated white woman and I imagine that it is even more difficult for immigrants, the mentally ill, and people of color. Our Sheriff department can do better today by simply implementing common courtesy.
The parole officer decided that since my brother had failed to stay off drugs they weren’t going to pay for rehab anymore, and instead they are just going to let him out. What has been the point of this charade?
Today the Sheriff is asking for more money. Despite our misgiving’s with police methods, their seemingly inherent emotional violence, and their lack of regard for humans and the property of those they think may be doing something illegal, it is important to recognize that they provide protection for many of us and, ultimately, there is a place for us to say Thank You, to them every day. So, how do we deal with this disparity between Keeping the Peace and the lack of Police Humanity?
I ask that Mendocino County consider a proposal that addresses closing the gap between this disparity. I support giving the police department more money to make systematic changes and integrating social workers into their department, thus freeing up officers to address the issues of robbery and assault of which Sheriff Kendall speaks. Every aspect of the role that a parole officer held with my brother could have been performed better by a social worker. My brother who will be released in three days and is still trying to get into a rehab program, but does not have the support of that officer in simple things like communicating with his family, getting a TB and a Covid tests, and interviewing with rehab staff. Maybe the officer believes he has other pressing work. If so he should be freed up to do it by someone who can do his job better.
This failure, while seemingly small, is monumental because it is repeated over and over again with families across our county. Families that have someone who is an addict and in the system rarely have time to write articles, so their voices aren’t heard.
I would suggest that today the position of police person is a difficult one. As a society we act as if police must embody the power of the young and testosterone-filled male that is detached and angry. Yet today I am asking for emotional compassion and sensitivity – how do we find balance? This is what I ask of our police force – I ask them to become incredibly mature men and women. I ask them to harness power and youthful strength while also practicing the search for emotional wisdom through reading and training and emoting. I ask them to ask for help in areas in which they are not trained. I ask them to have the humility to recognize that this is a practice and they will never be perfect, and that is OK, but when they take this job they take on the responsibility of practicing kindness every day.
This practice will take time to develop, and in the interim I ask that if you are an officer, you start this humanitarian effort now (maybe you already do this, in which case, I don’t mean to sound condescending, and in which case, you probably already understand the greater need for more of this). If you are an officer that does this I would like to hear about it if you are willing to share. I would like to hear someone from the department write or speak about how they integrate these concepts. I suggest that every officer read Bell Hooks’ book “The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love”.
Sheriff Kendall, I suggest you offer a proposal to the Board of Supervisors that begins to integrate some of these concepts into the department and explains what you are already doing. Specifically, I hope that any proposal would include hiring of social workers to do some of your mental health calls, communication and outreach; consulting with psychologists in our community about how the department can grow to meet the demand for social justice and awareness; taking trainings on racism and anti-racism; and improving the interface between inmates and their families so that outside support for recovery can be facilitated.
Like a society has the opportunity to grow, that patriarchal, rule enforcing aspects of society may evolve to have more capacity than to just force and punish. You can lead. Thank you for your service and let’s take this to the next level.
Sincerely, Anna Birkas
DONALD TRUMP IS LOSING. The man who devotes every second of his waking life to the obsessive pursuit of winning is staring down the barrel of an election loss in four weeks that could be a total blow-out. Trump is the President who's smashed everything up… and made America a lot worse. The country is ravaged by coronavirus, suffering by far the worst death toll in the world and now experiencing a scary second wave in many states that threatens to send the current number of 210,000 fatalities much higher. It's also been crippled by a devastating collapse in the US economy and jobs. And the death of George Floyd sparked huge and sometimes very violent protests, massively increased racial tensions and raging culture wars. The combined effect of all this is that America is on its knees and desperate for someone, anyone to save and revive them. But President Trump's singularly failed to be that person. Trump's reprehensibly irresponsible chest-beating 'I beat Covid and so can you!' response to catching this killer disease will mean millions of Americans view it in the same dismissive way, and that will cost lives. — Piers Morgan
WENT TO MARTINS BEACH (Half Moon Bay) four times this summer, turned away four times due to coastal fog and cloudy skies.
Yes, I was dismayed as the Milky Way Galaxy season was coming to a close. One more visit, one more attempt. The rest is history.
IN JUST EIGHT DAYS (almost one week!), you can visit David Park: A Retrospective for the first time at #SFMOMA.
Our doors will reopen on October 4 along with a new pair of exhibitions on the work of David Park.
David Park: A Retrospective is the first exhibition to examine the full arc of Park's career, reveling in the expressive and sensuous qualities of pure paint. Book your free tickets to visit the museum: http://sfmoma.me/Tickets
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
But wasn’t the local weed economy based on not paying taxes on the profit of their product? And wasn’t the high priced black market used to keep the “economy” afloat?
When markets become legal and taxed why blame the police when non permitted businesses cheat?
Compare the penalty when you illegally produce alcohol or hard drugs to illegally growing cannabis? Are any cannabis growers going to prison for three to five years in federal prison like moonshiners?
I wonder what the penalty would be for 500 non permitted cannabis plants when in the future the federal government legalizes and taxes cannabis?
Would in the ATF, FDA and Justice Department in the future penalize large scale illegal cannabis production less than the current penalties for large scale moonshiners or bootleggers?
Don’t blame law enforcement when one gets caught cheating when one profited from the fact that it was illegal and knew what one was doing is illegal.
TOO MUCH EVEN FOR…
As a Donald Trump supporter, I am extremely disappointed with the president’s performance on the national debate floor. When you back a president, you take the good with the bad. Nobody’s perfect, but what upset me most was the childlike bully mentality Trump exhibited by continuing to interrupt Joe Biden.
What makes Trump a maverick in the White House doesn’t suit him well in a television debate. Sadly, with all the other problems going on with the world, we now have this presidential debate circus to deal with. The American people deserve better than a Jerry Springer WWE wrestling match.
Like the old saying goes, you dance with the person you brought. But Trump’s fan base is concerned about his self-control. And after what I saw last week, so am I.