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DRIER WEATHER is expected today through Saturday. Clearer skies and light overnight winds will result in colder early morning temperatures Friday and Saturday. Some light rain is expected for Sunday and Monday. Another trough may bring some more light rain by mid week. (NWS)
RAINFALL the past two days: Yorkville 1.44"; Boonville 1.15"
SIX NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Wednesday bringing the total to 1338.
DAVID NORFLEET HAS DIED.
In his memory we are posting the interview Steve Sparks did with the co-founder of the Boonville Brewery back in 2009.
David Norfleet, interviewed by Steve Sparks, June 10, 2009
Last Friday morning I drove deep into the woods up on Signal Ridge to meet with David Norfleet at the home he shares with partner Paula Kesenheimer along with all his stuff. After the obligatory tour of his extensive vegetable garden we sat down to chat at the kitchen table.
David was born in “the apartheid South” in 1944, in Atlanta, Georgia, but at an early age the family (he has an older brother, Jack and a younger sister, Susan) moved to the Orlando area of Florida. Norfleet is an original American name and the story goes that during the mid-1700’s there was a fleet of ships that would deliver slaves to the eastern seaboard from West Africa. This fleet was known as the North Fleet (north Atlantic) and one year when the ships were sunk in a hurricane off the coast of Virginia there were only two crew survivors. These became known as the Norfleet boys and David is descended from them. His forefathers were pioneers in the timber and mining industries of Florida but around the time of World War II his parents moved to Georgia where his father became the foreman at an ice cream plant supplying the troops fighting in Europe. After the war they moved back to Florida. The Norfleet side of the family supported segregation but David’s mother was from Winnemucca, Nevada and, while she accepted the situation in the South, she was far more broad-minded and tolerant than her husband’s family and was able to somewhat insulate David from his father’s relatives and their racist beliefs.
When he was nine years old his parents divorced and David moved with his mother to Naples, Florida, a small fishing village. However, he would see his father in the summers and would eventually move back there to attend high school in Orlando — which was totally segregated. He hated school and wanted nothing to do with further education so at the age of 17 he committed to joining the Marine Corps upon graduation in 1961. “My brother was in the Marines and my Dad was pleased with my decision, although he died soon after from a heart attack. To me anything sounded better than more school or a job in the south. I liked to read and was sort of lazy so I figured you’d have plenty of time to read and goof off in the service. Ironically, I ended up in the longest training program the Marines offered — aviation technician school — which saw me studying for over a year. It was harsh — in full dress uniform made of wool, all day, in San Diego, no air conditioning!” David joined the Air Wing of the Marine Corps and “I soon found out that joining the service was one of the dumber things that anyone can do.”
David had not liked sports at school. “It seemed like it was too much hard work, but in my senior year friends persuaded me to go out for football and I had gotten into good physical shape for the first time in my.” This meant that when he joined the Marines he was relatively fit and did well, being promoted to Private 1st Class in boot camp. “This was the first time in my life that anyone had kissed my ass but it showed me that one of the worst things for a human to do is to be an officer in the Marine Corps and to get a puffed up view of themselves. However, the Marine Corps did expose me to desegregation for the first time in my life and I thought ‘what the fuck was the problem?’ The black guys were just like us of course and they teased me that there were lots of black Norfleets! Of course in San Diego there were also Mexicans — another new experience for me — people who didn’t speak English. It was all so very different from where I’d grown up.”
During his time in the Marines David didn’t see direct action but he was on a helicopter transport ship, the USS Teddy Roosevelt, with the 6th Fleet in the vicinity of Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis before the Russians backed down and departed. “I think they left because a hurricane was coming not because of threats from JFK. We stayed and were in the middle of it. The waves came over on to our flight deck and that was 70 feet above the sea. About seven men were lost. Later in 1962 we were sent to Mississippi to provide a show of force in support of civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was trying to ensure that the University would enroll blacks at the school. We were there in case any of the racist locals got out of hand with orders to shoot if they did.”
David could not wait to get out of the Marines and after his four years he seized that opportunity on June 5th, 1965. “Oh, I remember that day all right. My Dad had left me a little money and the previous year I had bought a ’63 Corvette Stingray. The day I left the Marines I drove out of the base in my car doing 80 mph.” He was fortunate. In October of that year, with the war in Vietnam escalating dramatically, the tours of duty were extended and David, after all the training in electronics he had received, would certainly have been forced to stay in. This would have put him in a very vulnerable situation in his job as the technician responsible for keeping the radio running in the helicopter landing zones. “It’s not much more dangerous than that but I’m here to tell you it never happened to me.”
On leaving the Marines, David and a friend, David Friedland, set off on a journey in the Corvette. They went up the east coast, across to Chicago and Minnesota where they got work for a time at the Bird’s Eye Pea Packing plant in a town called Waseca. Towards the late summer of 1965 it was getting a little cold so they headed south down to Memphis, west to New Orleans, and along Route 66 to California, arriving in the fall. “I was 22 and wanted to finish out my ‘social awakening’ and Los Angeles was as good a place as any to do that. It was too late to enroll in school for that semester but further education was now in my plans. Education was virtually free in California for residents, unlike many other states. Plus I had the GI Bill to live off of. Along with another friend from high school, Jan Wilks, we got an apartment in South San Gabriel for $75 a month total and I found a job working for the phone company in downtown LA. Being in LA was interesting but the job wasn’t. I enrolled at East LA Junior College for the next semester to study Architecture, a specialty of that particular college which was situated in the barrio, with all sorts of people from Hispanic to Japanese to blue-collar whites and with the black section of Watts nearby. I started my studies in January of 1966.”
“I had wanted to learn how to build things but soon realized that at this school we were being trained how to work in an office, how to be businessmen, and I wanted to be outside actually building. I started to lose interest. Then by the winter of 1966/67 LSD had become all the rage and I became ‘psychedelicized.’ I had smoked a little pot before that but it hadn’t got me that high, it wasn’t a big deal to me. A friend of ours, Dan Hall, moved in with us and unlike the rest of us students he had a job and extra money and was always partying in Hollywood. He was into pot and gave us the Mexican weed we occasionally smoked. Then one night he turned up with these tablets that had been made in Switzerland at the ‘infamous’ Sandoz Lab. They were the real thing. It was amazing. Now that I had found what ‘high’ really was I then fell in love with marijuana. We had many ‘busy days.’ The arrival of LSD was an evolutionary manifestation and I wanted to be a part of it.”
“It was the time of terrific energy in Los Angeles. The psychedelic scene was erupting, the Vietnam War was hot and The Peace Movement was on the rise. The Watts riots had taken place nearby a year or so earlier and civil rights were on everyone’s mind. The music scene was changing in a big way. We had The Doors, The Byrds, and Canned Heat were from just down the road. It was a bigger scene than that in San Francisco and we had be-ins down there in Griffith Park too. We wanted to channel into this scene so we started a coffee shop/live music venue called ‘The Rest of It’ in Pasadena. We were open all hours and many top musicians would swing by. It was a great time for a year or two. During that time I met a woman who was in on this scene, Linda Filer, who had a couple of young kids, and we got together.”
However, by the end of 1968, the scene had changed, just like it had in SF. “The LAPD was getting increasingly violent at the peace marches; Martin Luther King had been killed; Robert Kennedy had been killed; the smog was bad; the coffeehouse was done, and I’d even had to sell my Corvette. We got arrested and thrown in jail on Christmas for ‘being in a place where marijuana was being smoked.’ The scene was dying; it wasn’t peace and happiness anymore. All this together with my disillusionment with the architecture studies meant it was time for something else. Linda had some friends from high school who were union carpenters and I had skills in that so I was able to join too.”
In February 1969 Linda gave birth to their son Abraham and around this time David bought a 1941 Chevy School Bus in which the motor had gone. He rebuilt it, installed a fridge, a sink, added a few mattresses and the family was ready to move on. With their stuff piled on a platform he made on the roof, they set off from California in the summer of 1969 “at a very steady 45 mph.” They drove across country, eventually arriving in Florida where David’s classic hippy appearance of beard, long hair, jeans, t-shirt, sandals was a big shock to his conservative family. They settled in a rural town called Crystal River in the ‘armpit’ of Florida, south of the panhandle. David’s union card helped and, despite being too ‘far out’ for most construction crews, he did latch onto one carpentry crew earning $2.50/hour. They put the kids in school, rented an apartment and unloaded their stuff. “We used the bus as our car around town and I really tricked it out with things I got from various old trailers I came across. It was fine for a time but we wanted to move on. My Dad had an insurance policy on me and I cashed it in. The $200 from that got us out of Florida and back on the road.”
Living the hippy lifestyle, they traveled around the country, casually looking for a place to perhaps make a more permanent home but without any fixed plan. They went up to the Chicago area and then across to Yellowstone and on to Oregon. “We were total hippies with no real plans. We headed south down through Eureka and I got in touch with a buddy from college who was kind of a professional student. At that time he was attending the newly opened Sonoma State and living in Petaluma, California. We hooked up and stuck around for a time. We’d park the bus up at the Petaluma Methodist Church but for services this would get very busy so we’d drive off somewhere every Sunday. We had to find a place to live but with the new college and so many students there was nothing. We were about to move to Guerneville to a small upstairs apartment. We really didn’t want to. It would be tough with three young kids.”
When they arrived in the Valley that fall, David and Linda were amongst the first ‘Back-to-the-Landers’ to settle here, “and some of the poorest – we were not trust-fund hippies like many others.” He got a job as a union carpenter based in Ukiah and they settled down. They were married in Casper in 1973 and another son, Matthew, was born in 1974. They now had a baby, Abraham was five, and Linda’s two were Lisa at twelve and David at thirteen and work and family life took over. David even stopped his marijuana smoking, deciding to keep it away from the kids during their impressionable years. (He didn’t smoke for the next twenty years). David immediately loved life in the Valley and despite being hippies there was little confrontation from the locals, although the kids did hear stuff at school sometimes. “There were problems for some people but overall we were accepted. We were the third migration – the old families had arrived when the Indians lived here, then the Okie/Arkie immigrants came after the war and during the early fifties. Now it was the hippies’ turn.”
They quickly made friends in the Valley, began to raise animals – goats, chickens, ducks, Shetland ponies, even a cow or two, and David continued his carpentry profession with jobs all over the region, even teaching a class at the adult education center where two of his students were modern-day Valley contractors, Dennis Toohey and Dennis Moore. Everything went well for a number of years but over time there were various issues which arose causing problems between David and Linda. “The kids were moved to what Linda thought was a better school in Ukiah. We moved to Ukiah but kept the Philo house. She was probably right – our local school was a mad house at that time. Linda was unhappy with many things and by the mid-eighties we found ourselves in disagreement about too much and decided to split up.” The two older children were gone from home, Abraham was virtually out, and Matthew went to stay with friends in Yorkville.
In the early eighties, David had become friends with local chiropractor, Ken Allen. He had done some carpentry on Ken’s house on Ornbaun and again at a house he’d bought on Hwy 128, behind what would become the Buckhorn Saloon – the original had burnt down in the 1960’s. “Ken would get on my case about never getting ahead and suggested we go into business together. Across the street was the ‘new’ Boonville Hotel which was in all the travel magazines and together with the booming new Valley winery business he felt there was a business opportunity to be had in some way. One Friday evening I had stopped in Hopland at the bar in town. I called Ken and he joined me there. It was a happening place, there was live music, and the Red Tail Ale was very good. From the bar you could see their fairly primitive brewery facility behind a glass window and I said to Ken, ‘If they can make this (the ale) with that (the primitive equipment) then I know I can do it too.’ These guys had pushed for changes in the brewing laws so that you could now manufacture and sell beer on the same premises. The time of the Brew Pub had arrived and we wanted to get on board.”
Over the next couple of years David and Ken researched the possibility thoroughly. They picked the brains of the very few current Brew Pub owners (there were about five in the State) and both attended brewing classes given by beer guru, Byron Birch in Santa Rosa, but there was no real infrastructure for such a business. “We had to invent so much in terms of rigging up equipment. We had to make it all on the cheap – we didn’t have the money to do otherwise. Initially we set up in the kitchen at the house behind what became the brewery. We’d practice our newly learnt brewing skills every weekend and then take our product to a meeting of the ‘Sonoma County Beereaucrats’. I don’t think we ever made a batch that wasn’t liked.”
Ken put together a business package and work began on the building that now stands in downtown Boonville. “Ken loved to ‘shop around’ and he did lots of research. I sketched what we’d need and show it to a stainless steel manufacturer I’d come across who could produce it inexpensively. I did the interior carpentry and built the actual bar. The whole process was a terrific learning curve and eventually, in 1987 we opened our brewpub – The Buckhorn Saloon. We had four beers on draft and I came up with the idea to use the Boontling terms for the Valley towns for each beer – High Rollers (Yorkville) Wheat; Boont (Boonville) Amber Ale, Poleeko (Philo) Gold Pale Ale, and Deep Enders (Navarro) Porter. It was all very basic in those days. The bottling and labeling particularly – it was a big operation to do just ten cases. Nevertheless, we were moving along and came up with several innovative things to the beer industry such as 22oz bottled beers and the use of the five gallon soda cans for draft beer.”
“Ken concentrated on the business side of the brewing industry and along with our equal partner, his wife Kim, he ran the pub/restaurant part. I had all the other responsibilities – brewing, maintenance, engineering, even deliveries with my girlfriend Vallen. I was the labor, Ken was the management…I had gone into the whole process as a way of distracting myself from the divorce and to hopefully make a little money. However, although my passion for the venture had helped me to move on from my divorce, the money just wasn’t there. We were barely covering the note on the loan and I could make more as a carpenter. On top of that, Ken’s ‘style’ sometimes leaves quite a lot to be desired. I sold my shares and left in 1989 to go back to carpentry, although Ken and I remained friends and I have kept brewing at home ever since.”
A few years later, in the mid-90’s, Ken Allen bought thirty-two acres at the junction of Hwy.128 and Hwy.253 and wanted to move his very successful A.V. Brewery to this new space. He asked David to become an independent contractor on this huge project and also offered some shares in the company. David accepted. “I had split up from Vallen and was living in Cloverdale but wanted to get back to the Valley. I took Ken up on his offer and received 2.7% – just enough to be obnoxious!…I designed the brew house and built it with Jeff Fox and a crew – we poured one of the biggest chunks of concrete in the Valley there…Since that project I have been kept busy with various jobs and can turn my hand to virtually any fixit situation people may ask me to do.”
“On a personal level, in 1997 I was back in the Valley, moving on from my relationships and working on the new brewery construction. At that time Erica Kesenheimer was working at the Brew Pub and one day she commented, ‘My Mom is a very cool lady, you know.’ This stuck with me. I had been hanging out with the Magic Company crowd and a few weeks later I was at Lady Rainbow’s birthday party at the Rancho Navarro clubhouse – a classic Valley Pot Luck. I was at the buffet at one point towards the end of the evening and Paula Kesenheimer was clearing up. She had the fruit salad in her hand and I said I’d like a bite – she bit me! Soon after that, much to Erica’s chagrin, I was moving in as she was moving out. We have been together ever since.”
I asked David for his responses to a few of the hot-button issues that Valley folk seem to frequently discuss…The wineries? – “I think they were inevitable and have been kind of good for the Valley. Much of the Valley had been over-grazed – the place had been pounded for years following the Okie/Arkie migration and there was loads of crap and junk everywhere. The wineries came in and ‘fixed’ the land – apples were out and grapes came in as the current crop. I am in favor of the local winery owners – these little guys are fine but the Duckhorns and Roederers of the Valley aren’t such a good idea. Most of the bitching about the wineries is just envy at one level, and many critics forget – the wines produced here are great and are always in plentiful supply at Valley parties and get-togethers.”…The local public radio, KZYX & Z? – “I do support it, and have many friends who a part of it in some way, but there is far too much N.P.R. (National Public Radio) programming for my liking. I actually prefer to listen to KMUD out of Laytonville at 90.3.”…The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I have always like the paper. I am a fan of Bruce’s writing and what he brings to our attention – it is often just what we need to know. He exposes the truth which others may not want to hear and his attacks on certain entities are frequently valid – the radio station is one of those…I have known Bruce since he arrived here and I remember one day, when I was working on building the bar at The Buckhorn, he came by and commented, ‘That’s the best use for wood – building a bar.”…The School System? – “ I have little to do with the school these days but I will say that it has been a great unifying force in the Valley. The Valley is a better place thanks to the school.”…
David has been the Valley’s Grange Master for five years now although he never really wanted to be. “Captain Rainbow resigned and decided to go off chasing women in Asia. Nobody wanted the job – Paula and I have said it’s one that you can only get out of by having a stroke or by dying! We’d go to the meetings and enjoyed the mixed crowd you’d get there. When Rainbow left the meeting was staggering around about whom to have. Then Paula nominated me and I was in. I guess I like the title and I do run a tight meeting.”
‘I love the rural lifestyle I have in the Valley along with the variety of characters who seem to be able to get along here. I believe we are in a sort of theme park where there is a concentration of health and harmony, of arts and crafts. I like to call it Intoxication Island. Here we have the best wine available anywhere, the best beer, and the best marijuana. Our potlucks lead the way too and I believe we are responsible for the tastes and standards the rest of the country go by. We don’t live in reality but in a map of reality about two inches behind our eyes and the more accurate your map the more effective you will be…I recently completed a course in hypnotherapy, which will be very useful for keeping track of the theme park. I can offer therapy to anyone who wants help with anything stressful they are dealing with.”
To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a few questions to David many of which are from a list originally devised by French Interviewer and Culture “Expert”, Bernard Pivot, and featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton”…
What is your favorite word or phrase? – “Hi, Dave, good to see you.”
What is your least favorite word or phrase? – “I have a hard time with people who say, ‘I didn’t think that would happen’. May be they should learn to think. I hear it quite often and wonder what it says about people’s thinking.”
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – “Being able to lend a hand; being able to fix something for someone.”
What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – “Someone complaining or being negative, especially about others.”
What sound or noise do you love? – “Frogs singing.”
What sound or noise do you hate? – “The sound of someone destroying a machine – gears grinding, the over-revving of an engine.”
What is your favorite curse word? – “I really don’t curse that much – I don’t like to. But I suppose I do say ‘what the fuck’ quite often,”
Is there a film/song/book that has greatly influenced you in some way? – “The writings of Epicticus, a Stoic philosopher, and the poetry of Walt Whitman. I am a student of Epicticus and a disciple of Whitman.”
What is your favorite hobby? – “Gardening – I’m not very good but I really like it. It’s very rewarding…I also like to dance – which I am good at.”
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – “My talents lie in fixing things so it would have to be some job that would involve that. Or perhaps a cabinet or furniture maker.”
What profession would you not like to do? – “Working inside an office.”
What was the happiest day or event in your life? – “ The days my boys were born. I like being a Dad. When I spoke to my son Abraham on his 40th birthday earlier this year, I told him that ‘forty years ago today the sergeant taught the band to play’. He then informed me that he and his wife were expecting their first child in November.”
What was the saddest? – “My divorce – it was very tough.”
What is your favorite thing about yourself – physically/mentally/spiritually? – “ I think I have a very good attitude towards life and others. I gave a ride to a local fellow some time ago and he thought he knew me but wasn’t sure. I knew him. Then he said, ‘I know who you are – you’re that guy who can get along with difficult people.’ I like that.”
Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Well, I’ve always tried to be a good friend. My Mother said, ‘If you want to have friends you’d better be friendly.’ So I’d like God to say, “You’ve made a lot of friends, David – welcome home.”
Ned Cook passed away suddenly on October 29, 2020 at the age of 77. He is survived by his sister Pat Triplett, his nieces Melissa, Cheryl, and Karen, nephew Dave, several cousins, and his dogs Amy and Roadie.
Ned was born to Nela and Wilson Cook in Healdsburg and grew up in Philo on a 30-acre ranch with siblings August, Pat, and Linda. He was expected to work hard. After graduation from Anderson Valley High School in 1961, Ned joined the Army and did a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter mechanic. After the war, he worked in Australia as a surveyor and rode his motorcycle through South America. He attended college in Washington and then settled in Fort Bragg where he lived for 50 years.
Ned loved his work renovating houses, he rarely took a day off. He also tended to more than 50 apple trees which were a slice of his childhood.
He will be remembered for his work ethic, honesty, and kindness. Ned will be dearly missed by his family, friends, and dogs.
THE REST OF THE STORY
(AVA, Wednesday, November 18)
AN OBITUARY for a prominent Willits man, Richard White, concluded, “For those who don't know the White Family history in Mendocino County, Richard's father, Bill White, was a police officer in Willits in the early 40s, later transferring to the Sheriff's Department in Ukiah. He became an Under-Sheriff and, in May 1950, when Richard was 10, he was shot and killed by a meat runner (poacher) outside of Ukiah.”
NEVER before heard the term “meat runner” as a synonym for poacher, but it makes sense. Poachers poach and run. Losing a parent at age ten is especially awful for a child. Mr. White's family story needs some fleshing out, meaning a trip to the Held-Poage Library in Ukiah to see what happened to the meat runner, assuming he was caught and prosecuted.
DA David Eyster provides the backstory:
According to an excerpt from a Press Democrat front page article, dated Wednesday, May 3, 1950, by Al Winter, a Ukiah Bureau Chief for that newspaper at the time, “John R. Kelly, 23, and Carl S. Burgess, Jr., 27, were charged tonight [May 2, 1950] with the slaying of Chief Criminal Deputy William A. White. The officer was making a [rustling/poaching] investigation [on] the Burgess ranch [8 miles SW of Hopland] Saturday night when the killing occurred.”
According to other reports, Game Warden Heryford, who had accompanied Deputy White on that deadly night, admitted during his trial testimony that he and the deputy “had drunk at least two ounces each of Cream of Kentucky whiskey” at a nearby cabin shortly before the shooting incident, which happened around 9:30 o’clock.
The defense presented evidence and argued at trial that this was a questionable investigation, at best, that Kelly and Burgess had mistaken the deputy as a cattle rustler prowling in the darkness outside of the Burgess cabin, and that their shots were fired in self-defense only after they had been fired on.
As was also reported, “Carl Burgess appeared in court immaculately groomed wearing a brown check suit, apparently new. In the right lapel he wears an honorable discharged pin from the U.S. Navy. Burgess joined the Merchant Marine before he was 18 years of age and served in the Pacific theatre of war during World War II. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1946.”
In an article by reporter Joan Fraser for the Ukiah Daily Journal, dated Friday, September 29, 1950, it was reported that District Attorney James E. Busch told the jury in his rebuttal argument that, “If you believe that Deputy Sheriff White fired the first shot, then free these boys; they acted in self defense. If, on the other hand, you believe the statements made on the night of the shooting and the day after by the boys to Sheriff Broaddus and deputies, find them guilty.”
According to a later Press Democrat article published September 30th, a mistrial was declared at 11:55 p.m. on September 29, 1950 in what had evolved from a murder to a manslaughter prosecution against both Burgess and Kelly. It was reported that the jury was split 7 to 5 for acquittal.
In conclusion, the case was thereafter set for a retrial to open on October 13, 1950. However, on that date, the DA dropped the case from calendar and, from a quick survey of articles, it is my belief that no further prosecution took place.
BTW, as I’m sure you noticed, the Sheriff at the time was Beverly G. Broaddus, who was the father of the late Arthur B. Broaddus, former Mendocino County District Attorney and then Superior Court judge.
George Hollister comments: It was a different time, though not that long ago. Many Mendocino County rural people in 1950 depended on game for meat. Poaching both fish and game was a common, if not a standard practice. The game warden was often considered the enemy. So a “jury of peers” could include those with these same sentiments. Imagine any of this today, including the two law enforcement officers having a couple of drinks while at work. The final choice to not attempt a second trial appears to have been a wise one.
Stu Casteel Comments: Thank you Mr. Eyster. Garrie Heryford was my grandfather and that incident changed him to the end of his time. I have been trying to find out more about what happened but was misled by an incorrect date listing of “end of watch” listing for Deputy White, I will pass this on to my Uncle.
WILLITS ARSONIST from 2014 found on parole in Ukiah with bomb
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at approx. 2011 hours, A UPD Officer was on patrol in the 300 block of S. Main Street when he came in contact with a vehicle on a traffic stop for vehicle code violations. The Officer contacted the occupants of the vehicle and identified them as Lacee Marie Ross, 37 of Boonville, and her 17-year-old minor daughter.
While conducting the traffic stop the Officer learned that the vehicle had recently been reported stolen out of Brookings, Oregon. The Officer also learned that Ross was currently on CDC Parole for a prior conviction of Arson of an inhabited structure. A search of the vehicle was conducted pursuant to Ross’s Parole terms and in the passenger compartment near where Ross had been seated Officers located a large explosive device that resembled dynamite.
UPD Officers immediately cordoned off the area and created a perimeter around the vehicle to keep any personnel or vehicle traffic from entering the area. UPD Officers contacted the Sonoma County Bomb Squad to respond and assist. Sonoma County Bomb Squad personnel arrived on scene and removed the device from the vehicle. The device was rendered safe by Bomb Squad personnel by a controlled detonation of the device on scene. It was determined by Bomb Squad personnel that the device was in fact a live explosive and if detonated would have likely caused significant injury and or damage to property.
Ross was arrested for Possession of destructive device, Reckless possession of destructive device, Vehicle theft, Child endangerment and Violation of Parole. Ross was booked at the Mendocino County Jail for the above offenses. Ross’ 17 year old daughter was released to a family member.
As always, our mission at the Ukiah Police Department is to make Ukiah as safe as possible. Additionally, the Ukiah Police Department would like to thank the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department and the Sonoma County Bomb Squad for their assistance with this incident.
(Ukiah Police Presser)
UBALDO DAVILA SENTENCED FOR SHOOTING HIS FATHER & BROTHER
Ukiah, Nov. 17 - Ubaldo Ramirez Davila, 25, was sentenced Tuesday in Mendocino County Superior Court to 24 years and four months in state prison for the 2018 fatal shooting of his father and brother.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies, local firefighters and CHP officers on July 2, 2018 rushed to the shooting site near a turn-off to the Golden Rule community on the Ridgewood Grade. First responders found a maroon Chevrolet pickup truck stopped in a traffic lane with two men inside, one dead and one critically injured. The critically injured victim succumbed two days later in a Santa Rosa hospital.
Ramirez, a sometimes Covelo resident, became a suspect early in the investigation. Deputies arrested him in the early morning hours of July 3 north of Covelo after receiving tips as to his whereabouts.
Ramirez admitted that while sitting as a passenger in the backseat of the pickup he shot and killed his father, Calixto Ramirez Guererro of Covelo, 51 years, as well as his brother, Miguel Angel Ramirez Davila of Eureka, 32.
Ramirez eventually entered guilty pleas to two counts of voluntary manslaughter. He also admitted two special allegations alleging that he personally used a firearm to inflict death on both family members. Voluntary manslaughter is generally defined as an intentional killing in which the offender had not formed a prior intent to kill, such as a killing that occurs because of a sudden quarrel.
Any credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards early release are limited to no more than 15 percent of his overall sentence, meaning Ramirez must serve 20 ½ years before being eligible for parole. Plans are for the defendant to be deported to Mexico upon the completion of his prison sentence.
The law enforcement agency primarily responsible for investigating and gathering the evidence to sustain the defendant’s convictions was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. District Attorney David Eyster prosecuted the case.
The District Attorney cited the work for the prosecution of Rick Blumberg, Ph.D., Ubaldo F. Ramires, Ph.D., and the staff of the Redwood Coast Regional Center.
RIGHT-OF-ENTRY PERMITS NOW AVAILABLE for Phase 2 of Oak Fire and August Complex Fire Debris Removal
Phase 2 of debris removal, which involves removing the majority of the burn debris and vehicles, is scheduled to begin in mid-December. In order to enter properties for Phase 2 of debris removal, the County must receive a signed Right-of-Entry (ROE) permit from each property owner. The County will mail and email ROEs to affected property owners; to access the ROE permit online, click here. Affected property owners must return ROEs by December 4, 2020, in one of the following ways:
- Mailing them to Planning and Building at 860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
- Delivering them to the drop box in front of Planning and Building
- Emailing them to Planning and Building at firstname.lastname@example.org
Both the Oak Fire and August Complex Fire in Mendocino County are federally declared disasters.
- Oak Fire: DR-4569-CA
- August Complex Fire: DR-4558-CA
For more information, please contact Mendocino County Disaster Recovery at (707) 234-6303, email@example.com or visit the Disaster Recovery website at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/fire-recovery.
TRAINING BURN AT GOWAN’S ORCHARD
We held a successful training burn at the Gowan Ranch in Philo last week. The burn consisted of multiple burn plots of grassland totaling a little over 18 acres. This burn was intended to have happened in May of this year but Mendocino Air Quality denied our application due to the possibility of Smoke taint on the grapes roughly half mile away. The intent of the training was to familiarize firefighters with firing operations, weather, and simply take the mystery out of basic wildfire. Many of our new volunteers, and even some of our volunteers that don’t get out of county, need to become more familiar with low intensity fires to think clearly and calmly during routine responses. By the end of the day, the troops were very comfortable with lighting and controlling fire that setting.
(AV Fire Chief Andres Avila)
ANNA SHAW WRITES:
Reference the Extreme Weather Shelter: I agree 100% with Carla Harris’s experience of the MCHC Board of Directors, specifically that “they are out of touch with reality, they don’t care about the community, and they are out of control. They enable folks, they think they are above the law and they don’t even reside in Fort Bragg. They have no clue how to help people out of homelessness and have no idea what it takes to run an efficient and effective nonprofit organization.”
I was Executive Director for almost 8 years, I believe Carla’s tenure in that position was about 20 months. That’s nearly ten years total that the MCHC Board of Directors has mis-run this organization, as reported by the most senior staff.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
RE: BOS MEETING
I like how “Big Nurse” (Angelo) dismissed Public Health’s under-staffing and potential burnout of nurses by stating “all departments are feeling COVID fatigue”. Basically telling them to “suck it up girls”. She also said that they would be hiring (probably contracting) more nurses to help administer the vaccines once they arrive. Then we hear that the hospitals are having staffing problems as well. The County by order was to prepare 200 hospital beds for a Covid surge, but Coren informed us that the hospitals don’t have the staffing right now for 200 sick people.
Public Health was one of the first departments she took her ax to when she first arrived as Director of Health and Human Services.
James Marmon, Ukiah
FATHER OF THE WEEK
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at approximately 9:54 A.M. Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to an unknown disturbance between a male and female at an address in the 100 block of Pinoleville Drive in Ukiah.
The first Deputy arrived at the location within one minute of being dispatched. When the Deputy entered the driveway, he observed a vehicle preparing to leave the location.
The Deputy briefly contacted the reporting party who advised Victor Lucas, 23, of Ukiah, was in the vehicle, along with a 29 year old adult female and a 6-month old child.
The Deputy was familiar with Lucas, and knew Lucas to have two active felony warrants for his arrest.
The Deputy activated his overhead lights to effect a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle continued for a short distance, and eventually stopped.
Lucas exited out of the front passenger seat and was taken into custody for the two felony arrest warrants.
As soon as Lucas exited the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle drove away from the location. Additional Deputies arrived and located the vehicle in the area.
Deputies learned that Lucas and the adult female were involved in a verbal argument which had turned physical.
During the physical altercation, Lucas pushed the adult female onto the ground and grabbed her by the face, causing visible injuries. Lucas also blocked the doorway to prevent the adult female from leaving with their child.
Deputies learned that Lucas was currently on formal probation out of Mendocino County.
Lucas's two warrants were for felony violation of probation, as well as second degree robbery, stemming from a previous domestic violence related incident with the same adult female.
Lucas was placed under arrest for Felony Domestic Violence Battery, False Imprisonment, Felony Violation of Probation, Felony Warrant (Second Degree Robbery) and Felony Warrant (Violation of Probation).
Lucas was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $140,000 bail.
I JUST READ a story about Newsom's meal at the French Laundry where the tab averages $325. Including jive juice, I suppose, but with several million people dependent on food banks for their daily bread, and millions more teetering on the brink of financial disaster, who else but an insensate Democrat…? Gotta wonder how many young American Robspierres are out there taking notes…
A FRIEND who keeps up with the decadents clarifies: "The French Laundry received the rare 3 Michelin star designation, which puts it at the top of the fine dining heap all over the world. I believe the chef, Thomas Keller, is the only chef in America to get the 3 stars. For some time it has been considered one of the best restaurants in the world, and distinctly one of the best in America…. and in the past you might wait a year to get a reservation. And that charge does NOT include wine!! These kinds of restaurants usually have very unique and ultra creative food. But it’s the cachet you are paying for. I’m sure they have taken whatever covid precautions necessary in order to stay open with outside dining. I suspect some political donors invited Newsom. Can’t believe he would have been so dumb as to go there right now. Very poor judgement. At least he apologized. Oh, and btw….that particular place was owned by the Schmitts right before Thomas Keller came in. It was known then as a superb place to dine, but they did not have the supreme status it holds now. Another connection to Anderson Valley."
I'M with Katherine Hepburn. She always took a couple of hard boiled eggs with her when eating out, refusing to pay fancy restaurant prices even if she wasn't paying. As a life long food-as-fuel guy I've never understood ooh and aah grub. Pot roast once a week and I'm in gourmand heaven.
FRANCE has enacted a national law mandating markets to give unsold food to the people who need it, and boyo boyo do we need that law here.
BERNIE'S proposed income tax would only lightly tap the wealthy, and wouldn't even kick in until your income hit the $400,000 annual mark, and how many Mendo people make even one quarter of that amount? Offhand, the only person who comes close is Charley Mannon of the Savings Bank, and he owns it. (Which is why I've never been able to borrow even a used car loan outta the Ukiah usurer, and me with my perfect credit rating. I think. I seldom buy anything, and my vehicle, The Silver Bullet, was paid off years ago. Bought it at the Honda place in Ukiah in '97, 315,000 miles ago. I hope its collapse occurs on the day of my exit so I can go out yelling, "I did it! I beat the system!"
THE NEXT TIME you hear someone honk-honking about socialism, the democratic type, gently point out that Denmark is rated by Forbes as the very best country in the world to do free enterprise, and Denmark provides the full monte of social programs, from single payer to liveable old age pensions, Tax rates? Only slightly higher than here in Liberty Land, where every citizen has an equal right to a cardboard home beneath a freeway off-ramp.
(MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: I suspect Denmark doesn’t pay quite as much as the United States for “defense.”)
I WAS INTRIGUED by this on-line message: "For those who want a Covid shut-in project, processing acorns is just the thing. The link goes to an excellent article on the subject. https://baynature.org/article/traditional-modern-methods-acorn-preparation/." I've read the descriptions of Native American processes for leaching out the bitterness from both acorns and buckeyes, converting both to a variety of tasty-sounding meals.
WHAT hasn't been said about Trump that isn't redundant? If he'd taken covid seriously he'd probably have been re-elected, but his refusal to concede to the forces of Maybe Slightly Less Worse has a lot of shot callers very worried. Michael Cembalest of J.P. Morgan, the world's most destructive bank, has warned of a "nightmare scenario for markets" if Trump were successful in his longshot attempts to overturn the results of the election. In a note to investors on Wednesday, the chairman of market and investment strategy for J.P. Morgan Asset Management, warned of "the remote risk of an American Horror Story" involving "electoral illegitimacy" that would send stock markets into turmoil. "A modest decline in the rule of law...could result in a de-rating of US equities," he wrote, and that would be all she wrote for the already reeling American economy.
EYES ONLY, Anderson Valley: Dutiful and justly proud son Ricky Owens reports that his dad, Billy Owens, just turned 91, and his mom, Wanda Owens is now 80.
THE FIRST SUSTAINED RAIN of the season drenched The Valley from late Tuesday night into three-ish Wednesday afternoon, and in between downpours bouquets of vivid rainbows, reminding me that an old timer once told me, “Our rainbows are the only rainbows in the country that have pots of pot at both ends.” Of course that was in the days when pot was worth more than gold by the ounce.
To the Editor:
Recently, my family and I were enjoying a quiet morning here in Ukiah. It was still early enough to have windows and doors open for some fresh air. We all noticed the shadow of a person on foot passing by our front window so I jumped up to see what was happening. As I walked out the door a sheriff’s deputy was coming down the street obviously looking for someone. The person on foot was out of sight already and the deputy turned the corner still looking. I found a guy hiding in the bushes on my side yard and chased him out. Probably not the best decision on my part. Within seconds, the deputy was back along with another deputy, two Ukiah PD cruisers and a CHP officer. Even an animal control officer showed up, all before the first officers on scene got the guy into cuffs. Thank you to all the law enforcement for helping to protect us. These times can make the job challenging, but they still serve with passion, focus and integrity. Now, back to that quiet morning…
I’ve finally had my “Come to Jesus” moment where I had to concede that I’m no longer able to personally obtain my weekly fix of the print version of the AVA in a timely manner. I have been reading the AVA for as long as I can remember I’m not sure if this is correct but I read the Mendocino Grapevine — here’s the fuzzy part — until its demise and then it became the AVA? Anyway back in the day I would pick up a copy from CJ when he would bring them over the hill. I always enjoyed my moments with him and hope he is still doing well in Oregon.
So with Covid and the physics of a resting object I am sending a check for a yearly print subscription. The check is in the mail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 18, 2020
KELISHA ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
VICTOR LUCAS, Ukiah. Domestic bbattery, false imprisonement, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JEREMIAH LUNA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
JORDAN LUNA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
LACEE ROSS, Lake/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, child endangerment, reckless possession of explosive device on public highway, possession of destructive device, parole violation.
JEFFREY SCHNEIDER, Ukiah. Criminal threats.
BIANCA SCHOFIELD, Point Arena. Domestic battery, trespassing, vandalism, disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SHARON SORIA, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia, failure to appear.
So, Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a birthday dinner with multiple guests at the French Laundry in Yountville.
We are told continually by this “leader” that we shouldn’t gather for Thanksgiving, but if we do only three households can be present, we must wear masks between bites and have Thanksgiving dinner outside. Everyone must bring their own utensils, and only the host should serve the food (no passing the bowl of mashed potatoes). Indoor restroom facilities may be used, but they need to be sanitized frequently, and your gathering needs to be limited to two hours.
Newsom’s apology was empty and weak. Who is going to listen to him any longer? Is anyone else tired of “do what I say, not what I do”?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and pass the potatoes.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
A percentage will get badly sick, a percentage will have long term effects, a percentage will die. As the virus spreads further, those percentages can rise to a very large number, whilst remaining a tiny percentage. It’s also not yet known how long any immunity (whether from a vaccine or from having contracted the virus) will last. It may not be more than a factor of 10 worse than the flu but that doesn’t mean it is inconsequential. This second/third wave in many regions and countries is overwhelming health services and that can also have consequence that multiply the direct effects.
THE MATTOLE SALMON RETURN CEREMONY
by Ellen Taylor
Large gatherings do not find favor, during this plague-haunted time, with regulatory and administrative officials. However, increasing consciousness of indigenous peoples’ rights, recognition that the land management practices of the dominant culture are failing, and their own deep desires for the restoration of historic salmon visitations to our coast, persuaded the BLM and the Humboldt County Health Department to permit a Salmon Return Ceremony at the mouth of the Mattole River on November 12th.
The Bear River Tribe hosted the event, in answer to a plea from the Lost Coast League. Preparations, in keeping with the Health Department protocols, were demanding. There could be no fire, and the ceremonial dinner must be created in a regulated facility, wrapped in plastic. Then, at the last minute, government decree shortened the event from four to two hours.
Over a century ago, the indigenous inhabitants of the Mattole were almost completely exterminated by a combination of government policy and white settler land greed. However, in a situation that lasted for a couple of generations, survivors were frequently relocated to stockades and reservations, together with fragments of other tribes, such that the modern membership of many of these tribes has Mattole ancestry. In 1910 the Bear River Tribe was constituted entirely from these fragments of homeless and landless indigenous people. Some of their descendants can remember pieces of stories and myths passed down through their family history, which, when fitted together, have enabled them to recreate a welcoming Salmon Ceremony, last performed at the Mattole estuary, in 1903.
Though there was frost, many Bear River tribal members camped the night before the ceremony at the Mattole Beach campground, together with BLM and the Lost Coast League. The young members of the BLM staff were animated, appreciative, and assisted anywhere they could be helpful. Contrary to weather predictions, dawn was glorious, and huge ocean waves tossed writhing masses of brown kelp on the beach, over the diminishing strip of sand that bars the estuary from the ocean. Fresh bear tracks and deer tracks were all around the ceremonial circle in the first daylight, and coyotes sang arpeggios from the north bank of the river.
By the time for the ceremony the air had become balmy. Little children could play in the driftwood and splash along the edge of the estuary. An audience of observers lounged in socially-distanced radiating circles on the sand. Those who had received invitations, the numbers of which were strictly limited by the Health Department, sat in a closer ring .
Wheeling white seabirds rose and fell over the estuary, as Tribal Vice Chair Edwin Smith and
Natural Resources Director Hank Brenard gave brief histories of the ceremony, described plans for co-management, with federal and state agencies, of coastal fish populations. Michael Evenson, chairperson of the Mattole Salmon Group, and Jim Bowie, Fisheries Specialist for the Bear River Band, discussed the dwindling fish populations and the 40 years of restoration efforts that many attendees had made a principal objective of their lives in the Mattole.
Then, in the breathless silence of participants and observers, the dancers came, in a long file, through the dunes to the circle. Their elk-skin garments and brilliant abalone regalia sparkled, and made music with the white conical shells on their necklaces. The Medicine person, Ruth Wortman, her baby on her back in a traditional hazel basket, danced in a long, slow circle around the entire group, creating a sacred space, waking the spirits and calling them to attend from the four directions.
There were five male dancers and ten women. Some were children. Edward Bowie sang five songs, appealing to the salmon runs waiting nearby offshore, in a slow crescendo, each separated from the next by a cascade of notes down his range. Participants stamped the ground with their left feet, as required in a kick dance, and the dancers kept time with elderberry clappers.
Then the Medicine person, after placing a piece of angelica root on the place the fire would have been, in a mellifluous voice which floated out over the estuary, sang the Coming Home song for the salmon, in repeated intervals of a fifth (pictured in this short video). Although in a strange language, the singer’s passionately earnest enunciation of the words, reaching the entire group of two hundred or so, seemed to convey an appeal to the salmon, in tones of entreaty, asking for forgiveness.
After eating the ritual meal of nettle soup, acorn mush and salmon, participants threw their salmon skin and bones into the estuary as a tribute of gratitude.
In the last half-century watershed restoration science has done its best, and millions of dollars have been spent, opening sloughs, fortifying erosive banks, building shade structures and planting vegetation, in an attempt to call the salmon back to the Mattole. However, over that same period of time, living conditions for fish at sea have deteriorated, and intensely extractive industries continue to operate in the watershed, contaminating the waters. Critically important tributaries remain behind locked gates. Apart from one hopeful year, the returning salmon persist but have not recovered.
It was time, then, to incorporate the spiritual with the scientific approach to restoring the health of the watershed. Together with a time-honored and much-welcomed spirituality, the Bear River Band brought a concept of reciprocal relationship with the environment, which they have maintained faithfully over the terrible decades since colonial settlement. The Sister Rocks speak, and carry messages down the coast, as they have for time immemorial in myth and story. Human health, spiritual and physiologic, is tied to the company we keep, our habitat.
This is a philosophy which is unfamiliar to many, in today’s materialistic and scientific world. As Claudio Saunt remarked in his book “The Unworthy Republic”,
“The idea that we might listen to the environs around us, and that the plants and animals might ask something of us, is conflicting at best, heretical at worst”.
However, the government of California, which in 1851 prescribed extinction for its indigenous populations, has recently apologized, and allocated half a million dollars a year to repair relationships with the tribes. This must initiate a general recognition that the adoption of an indigenous philosophy, of reverence for the earth and the web of life of which we are a part, may deflect the legacy of climate collapse, catastrophic fires, disease, floods and droughts currently threatening us. The Mattole Salmon Ceremony comforted everybody with the hope that balance can still be restored.
All photos by Sandy Tillis.
Ellen Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORPORATE DEMOCRATS ARE TO BLAME for Congressional Losses, so Naturally, they’re blaming progressives
by Norman Solomon
Corporate Democrats got the presidential nominee they wanted, along with control over huge campaign ad budgets and nationwide messaging to implement “moderate” strategies. But, as the Washington Post noted, Joe Biden’s victory “came with no coattails down ballot.” Democratic losses left just a razor-thin cushion in the House, and the party failed to win a Senate majority. Now, corporate Democrats are scapegoating progressives.
The best members of Congress are pushing back — none more forcefully or eloquently than Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan congresswoman who just won her second term in one of the nation’s poorest districts. She was the most outspoken against an anti-progressive pile-on during a Nov. 5 conference call of House Democrats. And she continues to hold high a shining lantern of progressive principles.
Tlaib has pointed out that “Democratic candidates in swing districts who openly supported progressive policies, like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, won their races.” And she refuses to retreat.
“We’re not going to be successful if we’re silencing districts like mine,” she told Politico days ago. “Me not being able to speak on behalf of many of my neighbors right now, many of which are black neighbors, means me being silenced. I can’t be silent.”
Politico reported that Tlaib was “choking up as she expressed frustration” near the end of an interview as she said: “If [voters] can walk past blighted homes and school closures and pollution to vote for Biden-Harris, when they feel like they don’t have anything else, they deserve to be heard. I can’t believe that people are asking them to be quiet.”
In an email to supporters, Tlaib was clear: “We’ve got to focus on working class people. We are done waiting to be heard or prioritized by the federal government. I won’t let leaders of either party silence my residents’ voices any longer.”
Tlaib offers the kind of clarity that should guide progressive forces no matter how much “party unity” smoke is blown in their direction: “We are not interested in unity that asks people to sacrifice their freedom and their rights any longer. And if we truly want to unify our country, we have to really respect every single voice. We say that so willingly when we talk about Trump supporters, but we don’t say that willingly for my black and brown neighbors and from LGBTQ neighbors or marginalized people.”
When Rashida Tlaib talks about “pushing the Democratic Party to represent the communities that elected them,” she actually means what she says. That’s quite a contrast with the usual discourse coming from dominant Democrats and outfits like the Democratic National Committee.
Let’s face it: Most of the nearly 100 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are not reliable when corporate push comes to shove, assisted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What has been startling and sometimes disturbing to entrenched Democrats is that Tlaib — along with House colleagues Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna and some others — repeatedly make it clear that they’re part of progressive movements. And those movements are serious about fundamental social change, even if it means polarizing with Democratic Party leaders.
Anyone with a shred of humane values should be aware that Republican lawmakers are anathema to those values. But that reality shouldn’t blind us to the necessity of challenging — and, when feasible, organizing to unseat — elected Democrats who are more interested in maintaining the status quo that benefits moneyed interests than fighting for social justice.
While satisfying their impulses to blame the left for centrist failures, corporate Democrats and their mildly “progressive” enablers — inside and outside of Congress — are striving to paper over basic fault lines. The absence of a functional public-health system, the feeble government response to the climate emergency, the widening and deadly realities of income inequality, the systemic racism, the runaway militarism and so many other ongoing catastrophes are results of social structures that constrict democracy and serve oligarchy. Those who denounce the fight for a progressive agenda are telling us that, in essence, they don’t want much to change.
Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.
NEWSOM, LEGISLATORS FACE ANGRY BACKLASH over French Laundry party, Hawaii trip during COVID-19 surge
No politician escapes the heightened scrutiny that comes with running for office. And most, if not all, have been criticized for not doing enough to align their actions with their words. But few see their missteps lead so quickly to white-hot anger as did Gov. Gavin Newsom after admitting that he joined several other couples at a birthday dinner less than two weeks ago, or members of the California Legislature currently enjoying a trip to Hawaii while schmoozing with interest groups that may have underwritten the cost of the event.
TRUMP: THE KING OF DENIAL & A SAVVY SABOTEUR
by Jonah Raskin
Are we having fun folks? Are we there yet? On a recent edition of the NewsHour, columnist David Brooks suggested that Donald Trump was going through the five stages of grief that include denial, anger, depression and acceptance. Sooner or later, Brooks argued, Trump would accept the fact that he lost the election. But that’s not a foregone conclusion. Ordinary mortals often experience the basic stages of grief that begin with denial and end with acceptance. Donald Trump isn’t ordinary and seems to think of himself as immortal, while Brooks tends to regard himself as infallible, though he misjudged the 2020 campaign for the White House and predicted that Biden would win by a larger margin than he did. Wishful thinking. There are two kinds of people. Those who describe the world as it really is, and those who describe it as they’d like it to be.
It seems to me that liberal columnists like Brooks are part of the problem with the American political system. Instead of casting themselves as members of the Fourth Estate, which is supposed to be independent of the big power blocks in our society, columnists such as Brooks behave as though they’re a part of the government. On almost every edition of the NewsHour, Brooks tells viewers about his conversations with insiders, as though insiders know what’s really going on, and as though they tell the truth.
The truth of the matter is that insiders mostly inhabit an echo chamber where they only hear one another and repeat the same things they hear over and over again. More often than not, the outsider has crucial insights into the workings of society, whether he or she has been Ida B. Wells, I. F. Stone, Molly Ives, Alexander Cockburn or Randolph Bourne who explained in his essay, “The State,” which was not published until after his death in 1918 that, “the president is an elected king. The fact that he is elected has proved to be of far less significance in the course of political evolution than the fact that he is pragmatically a king.”
The class of professional pundits to which Brooks belongs has inherited many of the flaws of the elite, or elites. There’s more than one, though they all live in la-la-land.
I listen to Brooks and his better half, Mark Shields, every Friday on the NewsHour, but I don’t expect to hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I know I’m getting a narrative from one segement of the elite. The system, contrary to Brook’s so-called analysis, doesn’t work. It’s broken and can’t be fixed by those who helped to break it, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. But perhaps the system is working precisely the way it’s supposed to work by so far allowing Trump to withhold the sort of vital information that outgoing presidents usually provide newly elected presidents. Biden hasn’t won until and unless Trump leaves the White House.
The current occupant will surely not go through the normal stages of grieving. He will probably go on being in denial, expressing anger and being depressed for the rest of his life, and certainly for as long as he’s a public figure, which might be the same thing. “Don’t bet against me,” he recently quipped. I’m not doing that. I don’t assume that he’ll vacate the White House willingly, and I don’t assume he’ll acknowledge Biden’s victory at the polls. Like most tyrants, he’ll continue to be belligerent, and to act as though he knows what’s best for the country. In his eyes, he’s the state. L’état, c’est moi. Louis XIV said it. Trump believes it.
Indeed, the divine right of kings has been reinvented for the twentieth-century, thanks to the Republican Party, The Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, Fox and Trump himself. The fight is not over yet, not by a long shot. Donald Trump is still the decider, whether David Brooks knows that or not. Day-after-day and week-after-week the decider and denier has been sabotaging the democratic process and wrecking the government. My 85-year old housemate said this morning, “I’d like to see Trump arrested, tried, found guilty of the crimes he’s committed and locked up.” I told her, “So would I.” I am not holding my breath.
Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.
IT'S ONLY BEEN A WEEK AND A HALF since Joe Biden was declared the winner and he has already packed his transition team with more than 40 current or former lobbyists. His chief of staff, Ron Klain, is a former asbestos industry lobbyist. His leading cabinet picks include fossil fuel lobbyist Ernie Moniz as Energy Secretary, Booz Allen Hamilton board member Michele Flournoy as Secretary of Defense, and Republican venture capitalist Mitt Romney for Health and Human Services Secretary. Biden hasn't even been sworn in and Wall Street already runs his administration.
Democrats re-elected Chuck Schumer as Senate Minority Leader. Nancy Pelosi is poised to become Speaker of the House again. Biden's likely pick for DNC Chair is former Podesta Group lobbyist Jamie Harrison. It’s clear that Biden and the Democratic Party have learned nothing from this election, just like they learned nothing from 2016, and that working people are in for four more years of the same heartless neoliberalism that gave us Trump in the first place. Except this time it's happening in the middle of a pandemic and the worst recession since the Great Depression
That's why we're forming a major new people's party. When we guarantee every American the right to food, water, housing, health care, a good-paying job, racial justice, a pre-K-16 education, a basic income, a secure retirement, and a livable climate — then we will heal the soul of this nation.
Movement for a People's Party