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Mendocino County Today: November 2, 2020

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CLEAR, COOL & DRY ALL WEEK with inland highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 40s through Thursday. Then turning colder on Friday with highs in the 60s, and lows in the 30s. There’s a slight chance of rain in the northern reaches of the Coastal area on Friday, but it’s not expected to drift south far enough to hit much of Mendo.

DRY WEATHER is expected to continue through the middle of the week, with the exception some possible sprinkles across Del Norte and northern Humboldt Tuesday evening. A stronger system may bring cooler and rainier conditions with some possible mountain snow towards the end of the week. (NWS)

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TWO MORE COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Sunday, bringing total to date to 1176.

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ALEC HURST, Formerly of Fort Bragg, Found Dead in Trinity County

On October 30, 2020 at approximately 1:30 pm, it was reported to the Trinity County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center that a body had been discovered in the Trinity River near the area of Del Loma.

Trinity County Deputies, Search and Rescue members and Fire personnel were dispatched to the area. At that time, the body of a deceased individual was located and removed from the river.

During the course of the investigation, the deceased was identified as Alec Hurst, 35, of Weaverville and Fort Bragg. Hurst’s vehicle was also located in the area, as were a variety of fishing and personal items, all linked to Hurst, which had been on the banks of the river.

Hurst’s family has been notified. Although this incident remains under review, nothing suspicious has presented itself.

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Halloween in Hidden Valley (Lake County)

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by Mark Scaramella

Measure B Project Manager Alyson Bailey took the Measure B stage last Wednesday to present her long-awaited “Draft Strategic Plan” for Measure B mental health services.

(Linguists will note that mere “plans” are now “strategic plans,” a redundancy that seems to excite the bureaucratic soul.)

Ms. Bailey described her strategic plan as a “very large document” because “I threw everything in there.” But, as Ms. Bailey later conceded, even though “everything” is in there, there are still lots of unknowns and info gaps. After all, they’ve only had three years to work on it — what could anyone expect but enigmas and downright mysteries?

It is indeed a “large document,” but that’s because big chunks of it are generic calendar pages, irrelevant contracting boilerplate and scanned copies of documents Ms. Bailey apparently found on her desk. 

As Committee member Shannon Riley noted, “I’m failing to see the plan in this plan. There’s no prioritization, no action items or timelines. It’s lacking in terms of an actual plan.”

Which was probably the point. Load that sucker up with whatever and pray no one actually tries to read it.

In response to Ms. Riley’s uncharastically blunt observation, Ms. Bailey said, “We don’t have all the information we need. It needs to be more defined. This is everything synthesized [sic] into one paper. Prioritization is not necessarily my place.”

There were a couple of tempting tidbits, although they seem random, not part of anything like a plan.

For example, Ms. Bailey found a property for sale in Point Arena with eight 2- and 3-bedroom manufactured homes that might make a decent residential facility for people recovering from crisis situations on the Coast. It’s on the market for $2.5 million which might be a good buy for such a facility. We doubt the Committee or the County can move fast enough to put it to good use, however. Nobody on the Committee even brought the possibility of purchasing the place and Ms. Bailey didn’t bring it up either, despite its inclusion in The Plan.

In her Plan, Ms. Bailey also suggested that the County consider remodeling the old Ukiah Fitness Center on North State Street as a Psychiatric Health Facility. Ms. Bailey described it as “a promising location.” It’s listed as-is for $1.1 million and certainly could be a PHF if it was remodeled to hospital design standards. But again, only if the Committee and County can set aside three years of inertia on other PHF ideas to act. (Never mind that last year’s suggestion from Adventist Health to use their old Emergency Room as a PHF has still not been followed up on and for some reason it didn’t make it into Ms. Bailey’s Plan. It remains the easiest and most cost effective approach to the activation of a PHF since it already exists, it is built to hospital standards and is next door to other related medical services.)

The “draft strategic plan” also includes a summary of some extremely fru-fru amenities thrown into the design of the now underway and grotesquely overdesigned Crisis Residential Treatment facility dreamed up by the white-shoe Sacramento architects. The $6 million CRT next door to Camille Schraeder’s Redwood Community Services empire on Orchard Street in Ukiah is expected to open next year. Typical of the kind of thinking that’s turning what should be an ordinary $1 million house into this $6 million project is the “important” inclusion of an electric vehicle charging station in the project’s design.

Nobody said a word about how ridiculously overpriced this crisis residential facility is turning out to be — sucking up millions of dollars that could otherwise be used for facilities in other areas of the County or increased services.

But whatever merit these seemingly unrelated items may or may not have, they hardly make up any kind of a plan, strategic or plain old.

Former Sheriff Allman tried to put some lipstick on the pig-plan saying, “This is a good direction. I wish we’d had it at the first meeting.” 

Perhaps Mr. Allman has forgotten that at that time of that first meeting he was the lead advocate for Mr. Lee Kemper’s famous $60k “Needs Assessment,” which, even now more than two years later, is still a much better strategic plan than the random collection of paper that Ms. Bailey offered up.

Instead of discussing the plan such as it isn’t, though, much of the meeting devolved into petty bickering about which little pot of money should pay for which little service or facility. Should Measure B money pay for occasional assistance from the Behavioral Health or Clerk of the Board staff? Should Behavioral Health or law enforcement pay for use of the still un-remodeled Redwood Valley Training Facility? They worked this subject over for almost half an hour.

Along the way, Committee member Ross Liberty offered one of his famously unhelpful aphorisms: “Measure B should carry its own water.”

Former Sheriff Allman said such bickering about which pot of money should pay for which service should be left up to the Board of Supervisors — which of course is in a much better position to make such monumental decisions. Committee member/County CEO Carmel Angelo who should be responsible for such minor matters was strangely silent through the discussion.

Typical of the random back and forth that’s become common in Measure B meetings was an exchange near the end of the meeting between Supervisor Ted Williams (who is on a Measure B ad hoc committee with Supervisor John Haschak and was on-hand via zoom) and former Sheriff Allman and Behavioral Health Director Dr. Jenine Miller. 

Williams asked, “It would be helpful for the Board of Supervisors to get clarification on all the ongoing costs of the training center that should be paid. I'm not for or against any particular model. I just want to understand where the committee sits. I was told that there would be a cost recovery model where county services using that facility would pay and that would cover the operating costs. I have been asking the Behavioral Health Department if they plan to use this facility. And what I've heard is, no. If there is a cost to it, they have other options. I think that may only leave law enforcement using the facility. Do we expect to bill law enforcement on a cost recovery basis, or do we want the Measure B 25% to cover the ongoing cost?”

Allman was peeved that anyone would question the value and cost of his training facility: “I think if Measure B or the Board of Supervisors made a decision to start billing law enforcement for training for probably the number one national social issue that we are facing each morning on the news, then the Board of Supervisors and the Measure B committee, if they made that decision, they would look very silly. Training is the number one reason why I wrote Measure AG and Measure AH [the earlier measures that didn’t quite pass] and why Measure B ultimately passed. I got out and put the signs up for law enforcement training. If mental health, if Behavioral Health decides they have other places to do it, hooray! They have other places to do it! Law enforcement doesn't. We need to improve training. So I'm looking forward to addressing the Board of Supervisors in open session, basically asking the Board of Supervisors to tell us where you stand on training law enforcement. We had a situation in Philadelphia two days ago where certainly training was the number one issue being discussed. The more we put this off, if something happens let there be no doubt I'm looking forward to telling the public that this was delayed because of a bureaucracy. The money is there, the building is there, we have a plan there, and people are delaying the remodeling of the training center to see if we can get cost recovery for training. Well, we are done with services. We don't always break even. Sometimes it costs money to do our job. And training has to be our number one issue for law enforcement. I would love for County Counsel to weigh in on this one and find out if County Counsel believes we need to have more training for law enforcement or if he's satisfied with the training we have because I believe we need to have more.”

Williams: “Mr. Allman, I don't believe you have to make a case. What would be helpful from the committee is a ranked list of priorities. If we find that everything we promised the public we can't fulfill due to inflation and other circumstances [like paying $6 million for a $1 million crisis residential facility], maybe some of the estimates don't match reality today, which are the items that need to happen first? What can fall off the list? In some settings I've heard that the PHF is the most important. If we find that we can't get an operator for the PHF without a subsidy and we have to subsidize, if that subsidy is so large that we find we can't afford training a training center, which of the two do we give up? Having that ranked list I think would help the Board. I don't want to fight you on it. I'm just asking for clarification. When we get to the cutting because we can't do everything we want to do, what are the items to be cut? What floats to the top? And I think what I'm hearing is Training Center is number one, is the PHF is number two? Where does the CRT fall?”

Allman: “The fact that the director of Behavioral Health doesn't want to use the training center for her training, I think that we have a tough time getting a majority of the Measure B committee to do this. I'm looking forward to the Board of Supervisors to make the decision because if they make the decision that training is not the top priority than I think County Counsel would have to weigh in on the liability the County is assuming by having a facility, having the money, and deciding not to move forward with the training. That's where the liability is presented.”

Williams: “Can we get a ranked list from the committee?”

Allman: “From an 11-person committee? I will guarantee you that we would not get any unanimous ranked list from this committee. Because this committee has 11 people on it. Let's be honest, Supervisor, there's very few 5-0 votes by the Supervisors. So getting 11 people to agree on a ranked priority list would be a tough thing to do. I think that training and the facility is one of the least costly services that Measure B. provides. Training is where we reduce our liability. You go into closed session and I've been in closed sessions where liability is being discussed and I'm looking at a way to reduce County liability as well as improve the professional services of law enforcement throughout this county.”

Dr. Miller: “I don't think Behavioral Health should be required to pay for this training facility if law enforcement is not going to be asked to pay for the training center. I think that there has to be a fee for everybody who wants to use it or there's no fee regardless of what County agency you are from. My concern has not been that we wouldn't use it, it's because we have other County facilities that don't cost us anything, outside facilities, that we have been able to use for free. The reason I voted for the training center and was a huge advocate for it was that it was under the understanding that this would be a facility for law enforcement and behavioral health, but we wouldn't be paying a dime to use it. It would be an addition to the County and a great opportunity for Behavioral Health. But if we are going to have a fee to use it, it would be cost prohibitive for most behavioral health providers in the county, and I'm not the only behavioral health person who said that a fee to use the facility would not be beneficial for us. So I am not saying we wouldn't use it at all, but if there is going to be a cost, it is not going to be cost-beneficial for us.”

Dr. Miller’s sudden interest in frugality would serve the public better if she applied it to the $6 million crisis residential facility that she has been instrumental in forcing on the Board and the public, or the $20 million annual contract with Redwood Quality Management Company that to this day does not report on their effectiveness.

County Counsel Christian Curtis then cut off the discussion as being too far removed from the posted agenda. He suggested “it might be more appropriate for the Board to have that discussion” at their Tuesday, November 3, meeting.

Meanwhile, one of the pieces of paper thrown into the Ms. Bailey’s strategic plan was a questionnaire she plans to send out to local service providers asking them whether they’d be interested in using the new training facility for certain suggested fees. Maybe someday she’ll find someone to use it, or even pay to use it. Sheriff Matt Kendall is on record saying he’s not sure he wants to use it as a substation. (We think it might make a good base of operations for the still in-work Crisis Van, but that kind of thinking is well beyond these people.)

Former Sheriff Allman said that he’s spoken to local police departments and, in spite of Sheriff Kendall’s hesitancy about using it as a substation, Allman is convinced that local police want to use the facility — but apparently only if it’s free to them. We’ll see if they return Ms. Bailey’s questionnaire.

As a further indication of how much of the estimated $30 million of Measure B revenue is likely to be siphoned off for overpriced, unrelated purposes, Project Manager Bailey sheepishly planted a seed during her status report asking for yet more admin staff for things she should be doing herself: “As far as administrative things go, we have spoken a bit about the cost, and so some of them, um, uh, I do want to say that having a designated fiscal person and a designated, um, someone, you know, who communicates with the rest of, of the, of the County, is absolutely critical to how, how this program runs and functions, we can't pay anybody otherwise, um, and we don't have that clear connection with the clerk of the board that, um, and that's, that's it!”

After three years of palaver like this, it’s no wonder we still don’t have anything remotely like a plan to meet the original objectives of Measure B, much less a facility to do it in. 

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Indian Creek Bridge, watercolor by Malcolm West

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by Marilyn Davin

Whenever I drive through Ukiah and see youngish homeless men trudging along the side of the road with their backpacks, my first thought is always the same: Somewhere these men have mothers. That Pavlovian response is so automatic because without me my own troubled 43-year-old son would likely be walking among them, at which point I would become just another mother of a societal casualty instead of what I still am: mother to an adult son living out his nights in what used to be my guest bedroom among sheets and clothes never washed, a big-screen TV towering over the base of the bed, headphones and remote at the ready. I write “nights” because he gets up as we’re retiring for the night to make his sole daily foray into the outside world to drive my car down the hill to Safeway to buy that night’s microwaveable junk food—things like frozen pretzels and Hot Pockets—before settling in for another long night of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other virtual fare. By the time our first pot of coffee starts dripping in the morning, he’s settling into his all-day sleep. 

Coping with my son’s stolid inertia would be easier if he were an alcoholic or a drug addict of some other stripe. My only sibling is a lifelong drug addict; I can do drug addict. You can put your finger on it and see what it is. If my son were alternatively disabled in some way I could research treatments for his disability, just like I research everything I want to better understand. But he’s none of those things. His adult life experiences have somehow disappointed him and driven him into this solitary place, and I am helpless and out of ideas about how to help pull him out of it — if indeed it is possible to do so. How could this have happened? 

My son grew up in an upper-middle-class extended Bay Area family in a community with relatively good schools where he was an honor student. He was loved, went off to college, and had an apparently seamless entry into the 1990s job market, though with a major setback during the 2008 recession when he, like thousands of other young men lowest on the corporate totem pole, lost his job. For some reason that setback and a failed attempt to go out on his own triggered the slide that landed him home with Mom, his pale, soft body dissolving into today’s uneasy solitude as he sits propped up in bed, day after day, night after night, mechanically flipping through cable’s nightly offerings. 

It would be easier if my son could talk about any of this, to pull himself into the light of the living even a tiny bit. Yet his answers to even routine family questions about what he’s up to or wants to be up to never stray beyond, “I’m fine,” or, “I’ve got a few possibilities” before he retreats back into his room and firmly closes the door. 

Over the years he’s periodically had a few low-wage, entry-level jobs, the latest ending about a year ago when his department moved to Salt Lake City and he declined to go with it. This fact went undiscovered for months as he claimed to be “working from home.” 

As one who has lived, worked, studied, and travelled all over the country and the world, I was stunned that he passed on this lifeline to the world of the living. He has no partner, no exes, no kids, none of the usual things that bind a person to a single place; he has nothing but that big screen TV and its make-believe world as he sits in his room with all the blinds shut tight. What was he thinking when he turned down that job? Nobody knows, at least nobody in his family. Another unsolved mystery, another dead end.

He’s technically not one of those government “parasites” that hard-line trumpsters and other Republicans love to carry on about. My son doesn’t believe in “government handouts,” so has never collected unemployment or applied for Medi-Cal health insurance. In a weird way he seems proud of that; by his reckoning, he doesn’t cost taxpayers a nickel, though because he doesn’t talk about it nobody really knows how he squares this self-reliant public image with the stark reality that he’s been living with his mother for most of his 30s, now spilling over into his 40s. 

Though it’s cold comfort, I know that this sad struggle is not unique. In my building alone several retired neighbors have re-welcomed their adult children — nearly all boys — back into the parental nest, into their parents’ small retirement condos after their sons’ job lay-offs, divorces, and other disruptive sources of disillusion and angst. It’s the sad defeat of hope, of finding a place in today’s grown-up world of dwindling opportunities for all but the rich. What does it mean to be a man? So they come home. In the words of Robert Frost, if anything more relevant today than when he wrote them some 120 years ago, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” 

The community where I live has a counseling service, and five or six years ago I made an appointment and went in to see if talking with a so-called “professional” could shed new light on what I might do to somehow help my son. A perky and brightly cheery young woman in a dress-for-success pantsuit handed me brochures and lists of public agencies presumably charged with helping troubled souls and their hapless elderly parents. She was all bookish theory, unmarried and without children. As my brother always maintained in his decades of drug treatments, “If you haven’t been an addict yourself don’t bother to talk to me. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” My one-time experience with that counselor was like that. She had no inkling of the unshakeable power of the maternal bond, no understanding of the biological and emotional pull that will not be denied through a resource list of helping professionals. I don’t know what I expected from her but I do know that my time would have been more productively spent staring out the window and pondering the problem by myself, just like I always do. The hard truth is that no paid professional can hand a mother a magic formula to give her adult child a reason to live. 

Then there’s the accusatory internal dialogue that never stops. As a parent, what did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? What signs did I miss along the way? My son was an honor student. He had lots of friends. He started college just fine (though even back then he began to show signs of a lack of resilience when things inevitably went wrong). His sister, just 18 months older — same parents, same schools — is a public high school teacher with a stable family of her own and is doing just fine. He grew up with a big extended family. He had both sets of grandparents, one set that lived with us, the others a couple of miles away. Everybody pitched in so that he and his sister never had a babysitter or required daycare. So what happened to him? What made him so unable to recover from setbacks?

Everyone has an opinion, of course. His wealthy father says he’s just lazy and won’t help him in any way — or even to speak to him. He espouses the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” philosophy, cut and dried. My girlfriends are trendier; they say he’s clinically depressed, mentally ill and probably bipolar, and urgently needs psychiatric treatment. After all, who would willingly choose his depressing life? One friend, totally tone deaf about financial constraints, advised me to rent him an apartment, buy him a car, and pay his living expenses, the “out of sight out of mind” view. 

In the Bay Area this would cost thousands of dollars we don’t have, every month, and for what? So he can sit in another dark bedroom somewhere else? His problem is inside of him, not the location of his bedroom. 

There is no area on the carrot/stick continuum that I haven’t tried, all unsuccessful: ultimatums, offers of help, repairing his car (which I gave him in perfect condition nearly a decade ago and which now sits dead, sinking on its tires and covered in dust and ash, in my building’s parking lot), talking with a shrink, enlisting his sister’s aid in talking with him, arranging for his oldest childhood friend to come out from his home in Colorado to talk with him, begging his one-percenter father to take an interest in his son – all futile in the end, all ending up right back in our guest room. 

A counselor friend of mine once told me that when someone enters a downward spiral of despair, his or her social circle shrinks incrementally until the only person left in the circle is Mom. I know of course that this is not always the case, and mean no disrespect to the many fathers who step up to keep their kids off the streets, but in every situation that I know of, it’s good ol’ Mom who’s the last stop after everyone else has fallen away, the last stop before her son ends up unrolling his sleeping bag under a freeway bridge. I say son because nearly everyone I know facing this situation is facing it with a son, not a daughter. And, like all moms in the same quandary, I ask myself the same question they ask themselves: Would knowing he’s living rough on the streets (the only real possibility I see at this point) be better or worse than watching him waste away in the tomb of the guest bedroom? And even if I did somehow manage to choose the “tough love” option (a philosophy suspiciously developed by my self-involved generation to offload responsibility for troublesome adult children), would my son miraculously have some sort of epiphany about pulling his life together and shout “Eureka!” if he found himself turned out on the unforgiving streets? The only answer I can live with today, like the decade of days before it, stares me straight in the face, every minute of every day and every night. He’s still here.

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Now is the time to watch out for a fireball or two from the long-lasting South or North Taurid meteor showers. Various sources give wildly different dates for the peak of South Taurids (active from late September to late November), and the night of November 4-5, 2020, is one of those predicted times. The night before, or after, might be good to watch for meteors, too. Unfortunately, the light of the bright waning gibbous moon will accompany the peak of the South Taurids, which rarely produces more than 5 meteors per hour, even at maximum. 

About a week later, when the North Taurids peak on the night of November 11-12, the moonlight from the waning crescent moon will be much less intense. Despite the sparse number of meteors from these overlapping showers, the percentage of fireballs is rather high, so a few Taurids may well overcome the moonlit glare in the first week of November 2020.

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by Philip Murphy

When I was growing up in the Silicon Valley during the 1960s, a mindset everyone there seemed to share was that California was not only the best place in America to be, it was the best place in the whole world to live. We had a wonderful array of climates, and you could be surfing in Santa Cruz in the morning and Skiing in Tahoe in the afternoon if you wanted. There were sweltering deserts and frosty glaciers, lush redwood rain forests and the Hawaiian-like Channel Islands, whatever terrain, climate or environment you wanted we had it.

We went to school in modern new buildings, drove on a new system of state-of-the-art highways, and everywhere you looked there were great works of engineering and forward-looking government infrastructure investments.

Higher education was affordable for all and the rise of Silicon Valley to a world-leading economic powerhouse was built on that foundation of first-class state colleges and universities. The future looked bright and promising, and there was no reason to think anything would ever challenge that belief.

But the reality was by the 1990s things were changing and life got tougher in my home state, and that downward trajectory continued with still today no end in sight, so when I recently decided to retire I began to look elsewhere for a place to hopefully spend some golden years. Wanting to stay close to family meant the options were narrowed considerably, and getting on in years also meant really not wanting to deal with too much rain, snow or the heat of the southwest. Having a lifelong attachment to the mountains narrowed the search even more, and I eventually wound up on a hilltop in southern Oregon with much of the Siskiyou mountain range spread out before me. 

Southern Oregon is just like California — only different. The valley I overlook is filled with some familiar crops, mostly wine grapes and cannabis/hemp grows, just like back home. That's where the similarities with those two crops end, because unlike back in California the cannabis grows here are frequently huge, as are the support industries and the retailing of the end product. Most of the cannabis is grown in enormous greenhouses, many of which cover acres of land each and are sometimes over 45 feet tall and 400 feet long. Unlike in my former home of Lake County, you have to get way off the beaten path to spot the illegal grows here, and although fairly numerous they all seem to be very small scale mom-and-pop affairs. In Lake County much of the illegal cannabis industry is run by Mexican gangsters, who oftentimes treat their workers like slaves and treat the surrounding environment even worse, as they steal water from springs and streams while leaving piles of trash around their grows.

In Oregon I have seen no sign of that foreign organized crime involvement, and unlike back in Lake County, I’ve also seen absolutely no trace of the gang graffiti that covers almost every stationary roadside object between Lakeport and Kelseyville-including some unlucky homes and businesses!

In nearby Medford I have seen a small amount of political graffiti, but no sign of the “MS 13” and other gang tagging seen so often Lake County’s southern half. There are some unsavory types around southern Oregon, generally of the white trash meth-head variety plus the typical rural backwoods rednecks along with the homeless, but they are the exception in my neighborhood and in the nearby cities of Medford and Grants Pass the demographics are decidedly middle class. I have seen some really disturbing behavior by the homeless in Medford along the I-5 corridor, stuff as bad but on a smaller scale than what I have seen in San Francisco or the East Bay, but at least up here the panhandlers don’t make you consider getting a concealed carry permit.

Speaking of guns, everyone here seems to have them and even in my semi-upscale neighborhood it is not at all unusual to hear someone rapid-fire empty a 30 round magazine with their AR or AK, unlike back home where the state limits your rifles and handguns to ten round mags and bans guns with the wrong color grips while making you jump through expensive hoops just to buy ammo. The police presence in the valley is almost nonexistent, and the low crime rate is likely at least partly because of the high level of citizen gun ownership, it's sort of the reverse of Lake County where the cops are everywhere and so is the crime-but the guns not so much.

Some of the easier adjustments to make involve the cost of living-or the lack of it. There is no sales tax, there is no state income tax, and property taxes are low, too. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that Oregon doesn’t have the enormous self-serving Sacramento-based bureaucracy California has allowed to develop. One of the other reasons for the lack of tax burdens on ordinary citizens is that the huge lumber industry is taxed, and it pays the freight on a lot of government spending. Yes, the clear-cuts are ugly (thankfully there are none in my vast view shed), but there are the glorious roads! The great road quality is also partly due to the lumber industry, unlike in California where ordinary drivers choke-up vast sums every time they fill their tank due to taxes and oil industry price fixing, gas prices here have been between $2.20 and $2.50 a gallon this year and I recently filled a 5 gallon propane tank for $6! Lake County-maintained roads are an utter disgrace, in Lakeport and Clearlake they are even worse, in some places there are more lumpy patches than original pavement and Lakeport has never been able to even keep it’s main drag decently paved!

Even in the middle of nowhere here you find high quality pavement and great maintenance on the roads, I hear that in the big cities up north (like Portland, Eugene and Salem) the roads are not so good but that is likely mainly due to bad local management and a lot more rain. One adjustment California drivers have to make in Oregon is to the fairly consistent lack of shoulders on the roads, and the almost mandatory deep ditch there instead, which is likely the result of the thinking of people in state government based in the rainy northern part of the state. Another adjustment involves some of the traffic rules, like the flashing or steady yellow arrow signal light for left turns, or the amusing city-placed sign (recently removed) in Grants Pass which warned drivers of a “surprise intersection” downtown. Like everything else the government does here auto registration is far cheaper than in California, and much simpler too.

The flip side of the road coin is that roughly 20% of Oregon drivers seem to have learned their motoring manners from watching Mad Max movies, they will tailgate you like a NASCAR driver until they pass you at a high rate of speed on a blind corner. Maybe that's why the crosswalks are so well marked, they want pedestrians to know every time they step off the sidewalk they are taking their life in their hands.

The housing market is tight here, though by California standards still a bargain, and many businesses have help-wanted signs up that offer $13-$15 starting pay for entry level jobs like pumping gas (there are no self-serve stations in Oregon). Some retail items like certain food products are cheaper as are many services like garbage rates, which aren’t only lower but give you more than twice as big a can! Having no sales tax is a hard brain adjustment for life-long California residents like me to fully make as we have been programmed to mentally add 8/9/10% to the cost of everything, the savings on sales tax alone are enormous, especially when you buy something big like a car. 

Well, you may be thinking, that's all well and good but who wants all that rain? I hear this almost every time I told people I was moving, but oddly enough this part of Oregon gets roughly half the annual rainfall of Lake County, the big difference being that that rain comes over 9-10 months instead of over 4-5 months as it does in California. Once you get up north to the Umpqua basin and Roseburg that changes and it gets a lot wetter, but down in this end of the state we get California-like weather, just a little cooler in the summer and a little less cold in the winter-hence the town motto in Grants Pass of “Its the climate”.

The people here are pretty nice once you get past their dismay at so many Californians coming here to drive-up real estate prices and change the somewhat conservative political dynamics outside of the big cities, and in much of rural Oregon the demographics are much like most of today’s rural America-lots of gray-haired types like me. I guess we have to hope they will have robots running the nation’s farms in the near future because rural America has been in decline for decades, both in terms of economics and population. That's another reason I left Lake County, I owned property there for 37 years and watched it go downhill on multiple levels for that entire time, unlike there around here you see lots of new commercial development and a vibrant economy, even on the small end of the scale.

Instead of just two crops like in Lake County, here in Southern Oregon there is diversified farming with lots of local produce available, and cannabis is far better accepted as a part of legit agriculture. Some wineries have cannabis or hemp growing side-by-side with their grapes, and nobody freaks out when a massive cannabis grow goes in near a school or homes-it may stink a bit but so does the local dairy. The wineries are different too, no big corporate operations like in Lake County, where Gallo, Kendall-Jackson, Beckstoffer and Mondavi all have massive vineyards. Instead it's all the boutique-type family owned variety, and on my street there are around a dozen small wineries which draw carloads of tourists on the weekends to their tasting rooms.

It all makes me wonder how California went so wrong; we had the smart people but the dumb outcomes, and according to a recent poll 60% of the people under 30 want to leave the Bay Area. In Lake County the grape growers and cannabis growers are on different planets and always pointing fingers at each other; here little of that dynamic seems to exist and unlike there here you can see clear evidence of the positive economic impact of the cannabis biz. In Lake County they had fewer candidates for the Clearlake city council than openings for a seat this election — a weird situation that tells you how incredibly little public interest there is in trying to make things better. Here, the number of local candidates for public office is almost overwhelming, and every point on the political spectrum seems to be represented by a candidate.

I feel like I lived through California’s golden age and into its decline, it's still a nice place to visit but now I have a nicer place to go home to — which hopefully won’t change before I’m gone!

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On Friday, October 30, 2020 at about 3:23 PM, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was advised that Round Valley Tribal Police had detained Tevin Lee Hoaglen, 23, of Covelo, who was in possession of a loaded rifle while walking on Tabor Lane in Covelo.

Tevin Hoaglen

Deputies responded to the location and met with Tribal Police in the area of Tabor Lane and Foot Hill Boulevard.

While responding to the area, Sheriff's Office Dispatch advised Deputies that Hoaglen had two outstanding warrants for his arrest (Violation of Probation, Domestic Violence Battery and Violation of a Criminal Protective Order).

Sheriff's Office Dispatch further advised responding Deputies that Hoaglen was a restrained person in a criminal protective order, which stated Hoaglen was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Deputies also learned he was on Mendocino County Formal Probation for Domestic Violence, with terms to obey all laws, submit to search and seizure, and not to possess dangerous weapons, to include knives.

The rifle Hoaglen was in possession of was a Marlin Model 60, .22 caliber LR semi-Automatic rifle which was loaded. Hoaglen was also found to be in possession of a glass methamphetamine smoking pipe.

Hoaglen was placed under arrest for Possession of a firearm prohibited by conditions of a Criminal Protective Order, Possession of a drug paraphernalia, Violation of Probation, and Violation of a Criminal Protective Order, and the two outstanding arrest warrants.

Hoaglen was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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TENSIONS RISING, at least they are on CNN where Wolf Blitzer is pinballing around the Situation Room from electoral maps to stills of obese Trumpers howling for their literal great white hope. Most Biden voters aren't voting for him so much as they're voting against Trump, expressing the cargo cult faith that Biden can make everything well again than as any real enthusiasm for the man and his fluid “program.”

I'M READING the Everyman collection of George Orwell's essays. Any kid planning to go to college to study liberal arts could get him or herself a better grounding in the humanities by investing a mere thirty bucks in this one book rather than a quarter mil sitting around bored in a classroom, emerging after four years with a worthless diploma. 

AMONG the other things I didn't know in the universe of things I don't know is that Orwell considered some of Jack London's short stories among “the best short stories the English-speaking peoples have had.” As an added interesting bit of information Orwell tells us that London's story “Love of Life” was the last story read to Lenin when he was dying. Orwell goes on to lament that one collection of London's stories, “When God Laughs” has “simply ceased to exist.”

ALSO FROM ORWELL: “Here is a little problem sometimes used as an intelligence test: A man walked four miles due south from his house and shot a bear. He then walked two miles due west, then walked another four miles due north and was back at his home again. What was the color of the bear?” The interesting point to Orwell is that “so far as my own observations go, men usually see the answer to this problem and women do not.”

ACCORDING TO state stats, as of Friday, 52% of Mendo ballots have been received by the County Clerk. We're on course to the highest election turnout in Mendo history. Say what you will about Trump, he's done great things for the vote.

HMMM. I can't help but notice that lots of my granddaughter's friends are named “Madison.” Jayne Thomas explains: “The reason so many American girls are named ‘Madison’ is because of the 1984 film, ‘Splash,’—an actually enjoyable fable. She’s a mermaid who assumes human form and walking down the NYC street with Tom Hanks’ character, they try to choose a name for her and she settles on ‘Madison’ as he reads the street sign. And that started the dumb craze!” 

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Carine's, Fort Bragg

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SOROPTIMIST BIG RAFFLE - Buy tickets at Harvest Market to enter.

Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg is holding a raffle as a fundraiser as we were unable to hold our usual fundraisers: the Whale Run and the Paul Bunyan Days Craft Fair.

Funds will go to support our various local scholarships and many varied community contributions.

Raffle tickets available at Harvest Market in the Boatyard Shopping Center in Fort Bragg.

Tickets: 6 for $10, 30 for $20.

Sold through November 13th. Drawing on November 14th. On each ticket write your name, email address and phone number. Prizes: 1 night at the Little River Inn with a dinner included; 1 night at the North Cliff Motel with a bottle of wine; (2) $50 gift certificates for Silvers at the Wharf Restaurant; 6 gourmet food baskets, 1 to each winner; 1 quilted handmade woman's tote bag.

Link to raffle poster with all the details:

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Olompali 1967, photo by Herb Greene

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by Jim Shields

As I write this we’re five days out from E-Day.

Most polls show Joe Biden ahead of President Trump, but as a political scientist and more importantly a labor guy, the only poll I ever pay any attention to is the poll that occurs when the votes are counted.

Long-time readers know I never ever encourage people to vote because the way I look at it is if someone needs to be told how important participatory democracy is, they’re too damn ignorant to waste my time on.

Although I’m a Democrat, heavily influenced by Franklin Roosevelt, his Republican cousin Teddy, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and the Great Emancipator himself, I keep my distance — socially and otherwise — from today’s Dem Party that immerses itself in identity politics and oh so politically correct buffoonery.

The tickets of Trump-Pence and Biden-Harris have set an all-time low for Presidential Pygmyism.

Just how lackluster are these times and this election in particular?

Trump would have been the odds-on favorite in a November 3rd cakewalk if he would have followed this advice.

1. Blow up your twitter machine, Mr. President.

2. Wear a mask, Mr. President. Socially distance yourself, Mr. President. And Mr. President state emphatically, “Right on, Tony,” after each and every press conference featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Need I say more about the nearly non-existent expectations of American voters?

Fortunately, we still have the people who have always fueled the engine of change in this country. Those folks are the working and middle classes who once aroused are a fearsome sight to behold. It’s just a question of whether they’ll put up with another farce like this again four years from now.

Inspecting hemp

Last week, we discussed the Board of Supervisors approval of a controversial Hemp Ordinance, by a 3-to-2 vote on Oct. 20.

Although the Board was inundated with written objections and public comments opposed to the ordinance, only John Haschak and Ted Williams, of the 3rd and 5th Districts respectively, were moved by their arguments. Supes John McCowen, Carre Brown, and Dan Gjerde backed the proposed Hemp Ordinance.

It’s actually a 2-year pilot program with a cap of five hemp permits per year, but pot farmers fear that, among other things, pollen from male hemp will cross-pollinate with female ganja plants, thus damaging or destroying their crops by “going to seed.”

When I spoke to my resident experts on hemp farming, they were less than impressed with the County’s due diligence surrounding a number of issues, including inspection protocols. They believe the whole program is probably headed toward failure. Isn’t that surprising?

Here’s what they say on inspection. There are two main kinds of hemp in an economic sense: industrial and medicinal.

Industrial hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel.

Medicinal hemp is a variant of the plant Cannabis Sativa L (the same plant that produces medical marijuana). It is described as containing very low amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC). This THC threshold provides the biggest differentiation between hemp and marijuana.

The Hempsters explained that the growing methods for medicinal hemp and industrial hemp are entirely different. Medical hemp is grown the same as regular pot, in stand-alone areas of single plants. Industrial hemp is usually grown the same way as field crops such as wheat, oats, alfalfa, etc. It’s not separated by rows with in-between spacing in the rows as is the case with corn. I have some familiarity with the subject since I was raised in both Illinois and California because my family owned land and homes in both states. We grew corn, soybeans, oats, and wheat on our Illinois farmland. There were also small remnants of old hemp fields left over from WWII, but I never paid much attention to them until I was a teenager in the late ‘60s and kids thought you could smoke the stuff. We all found out hemp was not pot, absolutely no high at all.

Anyway, hemp experts point out that due to the different growing methods for industrial hemp versus medicinal hemp, the former is nearly impossible to inspect for male plants because one acre of hemp would contain on average 400,000 tightly compressed plants, while the latter is super easy because they’re isolated single plantings.

So I guess if everyone grew medicinal hemp there would be little if any inspection problems, but just the opposite with industrial hemp. Interestingly enough, the Ag Commish told the Supes he would most likely need to hire extra personnel just to inspect and administer the five proposed permits to be issued for the two-year pilot program. Sound familiar?

New Zealand happenings

This week New Zealanders voted to legalize euthanasia in a binding referendum, but also rejected a ballot measure to legalize marijuana.

With most of the votes counted, New Zealanders emphatically endorsed the euthanasia measure with 65% voting in favor and 34% voting against.

The “No” vote on marijuana was much closer, with 53% voting against legalizing Ganja for recreational use and 46% voting in favor.

Proponents of marijuana legalization were frustrated that popular Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wouldn’t reveal how she intended to vote ahead the Oct. 17 election, saying she wanted to leave the decision to New Zealanders.

Ardern said this week after the results were released that she had voted in favor of both referendums.

How do you explain that Kiwi voters approved mercy killing but nixed legalizing the groovy love bud. There’s a story there somewhere.

(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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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 1, 2020

Berman, Colvard, Mairs

ERIK BERMAN, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance. 

PHILLIP COLVARD, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

DAVID MAIRS III, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, loaded firearm in public.

Mattson, McAdams, Robinson, Simpson

CHERYL MATTSON, Ukiah. Trespassing, probation revocation.

ROBERT MCADAMS, Willits. Domestic battery, child endangerment.

KAMRIN ROBINSON, Yuba City/Ukiah. Robbery, controlled substance.

DAVID SIMPSON JR. Yuba City/Ukiah. Robbery, parole violation.

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Apparently fake:

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James "The Amazing" Randi died on October 20, 2002, at the age of 92, according to The New York Times (October 21, 2020), which described him as a "magician who turned his formidable savvy to investigating claims of spoon bending, mind reading, fortunetelling, ghost whispering, water dowsing, faith healing, U.F.O. spotting and sundry varieties of bamboozlement, bunco, chicanery, flimflam, flummery, humbuggery, mountebankery, pettifoggery and out-and-out quacksalvery." A good friend of NCSE, he supported the organization both personally and through the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Among the humbuggery that Randi opposed was creationism. Writing in Skeptic magazine in 2014, for example, he observed, "The well-established fact of biological evolution is being increasingly and frantically denied in the USA by creationists, and as I write this, a public opinion poll has announced that some 46% of the U.S. public identify themselves as creationists. According to a recent study carried out at Michigan State University [coauthored by NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott], acceptance of evolution by Americans declined from 45% in 1985 — already a shameful statistic — to 40% in 2005."

Randi continued, "Not accepting the reality of biological evolution is equivalent to not accepting the stark fact of gravity. You can deny gravity, or claim that Earth is flat, but such simple denials do not in any way prove a point. Evolution is the single, unifying scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, and the foundation upon which the biological sciences are built. The scientific theory of evolution is accepted by an overwhelming majority of scientists around the world as the cornerstone of biology. To deny the reality of evolution is to deny the foundation upon which modern medicine and related biological sciences are built."

Randi was born (as Randall James Zwinge) in Toronto, Canada, on August 7, 1928. His career as a professional stage magician and escape artist stretched from 1946 to 1988. At the same time, he investigated and debunked a host of putative psychics, faith-healers, and pseudoscientists, including Uri Geller and Peter Popoff. He wrote ten books, including Flim-Flam! (1982) and The Faith Healers (1987), and established the James Randi Educational Foundation in 1996. His honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1986, a Distinguished Skeptic Award from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 1996, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Humanist Association in 2012.

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A very simple thing it is being judged by the company you keep, by who you do business with, by who you accept money from. Why would Crazy Joe and Boy Biden expect to be judged by any other standard than what ordinary people live by? Why would the mainstream press judge them by any other standard? Oh, stupid me, it’s because the Bidens are too big for that. And it’s because corporate interests own this same press and it’s because corporate interests are deep inside Chinese pockets. And it’s because to the Clintons, to the Bidens, to the clique of billionaires that call the shots, the only thing that matters is their money, their fortune, and they’re not too fussy about small things like how they come about it. And heaven forfend that anyone have interests of their own like not living one paycheck from destitution. That after all is the natural lot of Deplorables and native Indians and Latinos and Blacks.

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* * *

PEOPLE ARE BENT OUT OF SHAPE by the awfulness of recent times. "I LOVE chaos," said the now-President of the United States, when he was an odds-off candidate. 

Apparently many of us agreed and made him king. What's the label on the box he opened? What does he have in common with the crowds of (mostly) lowlifes he recruits?

I'd guess that box is labeled rage, resentment, vindictiveness. Trump has very little in common with his herd, and his regard for them is like a hog farmer's for his stinking, grunting charges. So what do they have in common?

Exclusion. "You don't matter." The thousands who cheer at his rallies have rarely, if ever, been noticed for anything until he came along. They are of the vast half of us who are at or below 100 I.Q., the ones who don't get fancy jobs, are not even smart enough for crime. When they do crimes, they get caught and go to jail. They don't graduate from school. They don't understand the nightly news. Even commercials are pitched to smarter people. "Whaduzzat MEAN?" Current events and the droning of fucking politicians are obviously put onscreen to waste your time, to show you, over and over and over, that you don't know anything about anything. "Well I'll show THOSE assholes!" you say, grabbing a stick and a flag.

Trump was raised in an abusive household. When his older brother crashed and burned, Donald--Trouble Kid--was anointed. He would continue dad's work, like it or not, which was taking as much as possible from as many as possible and making it his personal hoard. To make Donald worthy of the charge, Big Fred spent fortunes, succeeding in making his already-malformed son feel superior and entitled, to the perennial amusement of New York and the lurid media.

But all the money in the world could not buy the dunce respect. Even what could be mistaken for "straight" reporting wasn't. The sneers were between the lines, apparent in the editors' choices from among countless photographs, of the snarkiest, the celestial dictate that the tabloids would be his home, not legit newspapers, not unless his shenanigans were of general significance.

However long his limo, however hot his date, Donald never received his due from the goddamn Knickerbockers, the supposedly fastidious "right" people of Manhattan, where Donald longed to plant his flag. He planted it. Nobody saluted. Donald never grew past adolescence--still hasn't--and his resentment at his exclusion from the hip and the stylish still galls him. 

Rage, resentment, vindictiveness still scald him, just as indifference galls a Trumpist, somebody never noticed for anything until he got a red hat, until somebody just as pissed as him showed up to say fuck 'em to all those mainstream types with their nice manners. 

Now the Donald has a REAL cohort. They have different backgrounds, but the end is the same. Add to Trump's dim intelligence the sharpness of his hatred and the most complex complex of complexes--in the mental way--I've ever ever seen, and you have THE DONALD! That's the creature that's been steering the world toward the edge, where there be dragons.

The direness of this chain of events has done much. It hath made us mad, yes, but, through the madness, not far now, there is clear air, and clear, unambiguous work to do. What "They" could not allow Bernie or Betty to do, they welcome Joe for. Joe's no socialist. You can work with him. He likes corporate capitalism. He's from--most of his life and career, anyway--Delaware, and there's no more corporate-friendly place this side of the Seychelles. 

But I suspect that Joe, public creature that he so totally is, has changed and is in process of changing for the better, for the greater good than Wall Street's, and, unlike Trump, Joe's not a coward. As Lyndon Johnson did, Joe will, I hope, bite the hell out of the hands that have long fed him. (He hasn't got an iota of Johnson's depth, but times make men--and women--and Joe will grow. You don't have to be a genius to run the world, just a person of good will, good sense and the discrimination to hire good help.)

The very virus that unseated Trump will prevent him from continuing in the center ring. Come Inauguration Day, more than a million of his countrypersons will be dead because of his rockbound stupidity and his--YES!--evil.

He will leave that day, not under uniformed escort. He is a coward, scared shitless at an early age by pop. His main concern on January 20 will be staying the hell out of jail, because an outraged, wounded and aggrieved American populace will be in No Mood for clemency.

His followers will go back to being okay guys and gals, most of them, and they'll slowly open to a soft new breeze a-blowin'. They'll ever-so-slowly feel a change wherein the DON'T MATTER matter.

(Mitch Clogg)

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