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Mendocino County Today: December 15, 2020

Borges/Gurr Ruling | Vaccines Arrive | Light Rain | 28 Cases | Surf Advisory | Flicker | Noyo Nepots | Laytonville Cowboys | Richardson Grove | Early Willits | AVA Tribute | Police Reports | Save Pillsbury | Big Redwood | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Long Boat | Usal 1910 | Jail Limbo | Dead Enders | Underground Lines | Covelo Inn | Ludicrous Numbers | Babe Advice | Bureaucratic Fog | Willits Queen | le Carre Memoir | Save Gas | Comments | Rust & Stardust | Online Researchers | Live Big | Progressive Discontent

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Mendocino County's motion to dismiss the case was "granted in part and denied in part." The District Court ruling from Judge Susan Illston, dated December 13, concludes:

The first cause of action may proceed. The second cause of action as alleged against defendant Anzilotti is dismissed with leave to amend. The third and fourth causes of action are dismissed without leave to amend. If plaintiffs wish to amend the second cause of action, they may do so no later than December 23, 2020.

Background articles:

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A WEAKENING FRONT will approach the coast this morning accompanied by increasing clouds...then some light rain reaching the coastal communities around midday. A more substantial storm system will bring moderate to locally heavy rain and some high mountain snow Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night, with some lingering showers into Thursday. (NWS)

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28 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Sunday, bringing the total to 2019.

Cases by ZipCode:

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EXTREMELY HIGH “KING TIDES” hit the North Bay coast this weekend, triggering a coastal flood advisory through 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.


WHAT: Large breaking waves 20 to 25 feet are expected Tuesday evening and overnight.

WHERE: Coastal Del Norte, Southwestern Humboldt and Mendocino Coast Counties.

WHEN: From 3 PM Tuesday to 9 AM PST Wednesday

IMPACTS: Dangerous surfing conditions and localized beach erosion. Beachcombing is highly discouraged!

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS: Large breaking waves along the coast will lead to increased wave run-up on beaches with waves topping and washing over large rocks and jetties. These large waves can be erratic and unpredictable. Use extra caution near the surf zone as these large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean water. Mariners traversing the bar are urged to exercise extreme caution or stay in port until the threat subsides. Please contact the U.S. Coast Guard for information regarding harbor and bar closures. (NWS)

About the King Tides:

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Red Shafted Flicker (photo by Larry Wagner)

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Corruption concerns, cause of mass exits at Noyo Harbor District.

The recent appointment of a second spouse of a setting Fort Bragg City Council member to the Noyo Harbor Commission has caused surprise and suspicion aboiut what the City Council's true goals are.

This combined with last year's appointment of a City Councilman’s wife to the Commission, a person who had applied for the vacant harbormaster position but was denied by the Commission in favor of the much more qualified Bill Sanborn, has turned to what many see as a get-even, nepotism approach towards the Harbor Commission.

These appointments would not seem so surprising if the former Commission had been doing a bad job for the harbor. But as most of us know the former Commission has done an outstanding job in bringing Noyo Harbor back from a state of despair and neglect to being on its way back to being one of the most beautiful and respected harbors on the West Coast.

Both ousted commissioners, Stacy Bradley and Bill Forkner, heavily supported and appreciated by the Harbor community, were amazed at their seemingly cut-and-dried already-decided appointment meetings.

These actions have had a negative effect to all involved at the Noyo Harbor District.

Many are choosing to resign instead of continuing to work with a group possibly involved in a corruption scheme.

Some of the important people to leave are resigning Harbormaster Bill Sanborn, resigning grant seeker Sarah Huff, resigning Harbor Commissioner Steve Bradley, and retiring Commission Chair Joe Caito.

This combined with the possibility of more resignations has the businesses, fishermen and residents of the Noyo Harbor concerned that the rebirth and rebuilding of our harbor we all have experienced over the past five years with the efforts of a very good Harbor Commission will now be lost in favor of a commission working for something other than the good of the Noyo Harbor District.

All of us in our community know the importance of Noyo Harbor. Its recreational value, its draw to tourism and its fishing industry that brings many jobs and income to our area. Let's not lose it to a special-interest political effort that should never be involved in the Noyo Harbor District business. Investigate, ask questions, demand answers and help save the Noyo fishing village.

Thank you.

STMA & the Friends to Save Noyo Harbor


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Laytonville, 1900
Laytonville, 1910

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Save Richardson Grove

It is very important that Mendocino County citizens are supporting Humboldt County citizens in their attempt to preserve Richardson Grove State Park.

Caltrans has been trying to widen the area along Highway 101 at the Richardson Grove State Park for the last 12 years.

A short email to the Humboldt County Supervisors in opposition to the US Highway 101 Richardson Grove State Park widening project can be sent ASAP as the meeting is on December 15.

The email should in your own words reference *that you don't support highway widening that threatens old-growth redwoods * why you feel passionately about the grove * that you remember how you felt spending time there * that it is one of the environmental gateways in California where conservation and preservation of the native flora and fauna come first * that people drive there from all over the world to experience these ancient first growth redwood trees * that you do not support the current County 2021 legislative platform, but the proposed new County 2021 legislative platform

See Board of Supervisor's Dec. 15 meeting Attachment Richardson Grove redline includes the current County 2021 legislative platform and the proposed new County legislative 2021 platform. So far there are only 2 public comments posted.

It would be good to include that Caltrans’ further destruction of Richardson Grove State Park to widen the highway is inappropriate and unlawful.

Widening the highway to allow extra-large trucks to use Highway 101 would adversely affect the local and regional North Coast economy by increased reliance on out-of-area transportation companies resulting in loss of local businesses and jobs. A less environmentally damaging alternative to the Caltrans project already exists in Highway 299 that links Humboldt County to Redding, the main north-south rail corridor and Interstate Highway 5.

The project to widen Highway 101 remains the subject of major litigation, which will likely stop the project, and therefore no urgent reason exists for the Board to support the project or put it on the County’s priority list for 2021.

The email should reference - in the title bar or at the top of the email text - that it is about the December 15, 2020 Board agenda item 1, File #20-1619 (2021 Legislative Platform).

The Humboldt County Supervisors’ email addresses are as follows:

  • Estelle Fennel:
  • Mike Wilson:
  • Virginia Bass:
  • Steve Madrone:
  • Rex Bohn:

A copy of the email should also be sent to the Board Clerk, Ms. Kathy Hayes, at:

Annemarie Weibel

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The agenda is out for the Tuesday, December 15th meeting at the Board of Supervisors. Staff have provided the Board with an alternative statement expressing community opposition to the Richardson Grove Project and highlighting that the county take no formal position on the project. This is BIG! 

Statement Text: Proposed new platform Richardson Grove Hwy 101 Project The proposed Hwy 101 project in Richardson Grove is very controversial and has been in the courts for years. This project will be decided by the courts. Hwy 299 from the east and Hwy 101 coming into the county from the north are both STAA Truck accessible. These alternate routes provide ample access to and from the county for economic development. There are impacts from having STAA trucks coming through our county and along Broadway in Eureka. Increased STAA access would also reduce the demand for local trucking firms and local jobs. The county is divided on whether to support this project or not so it takes no formal stand on the issue. [End statement] 

Please let the Supervisors know that you support the alternative statement today!



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Four score and some odd years ago in the village known as Boonville, the birth of a small town newspaper — the Anderson Valley Advertiser — united the residents and sparked a wizened population. A combination of local stories, national news and views, skeptical coverage of professional politicians and an international perspective filled the void with wonder, intellectual curiosity and a critical frame of mind. Mutt and Jeff, aka Bruce and Mark, two retired military men who work well together and whose skills complement each other, carry the paper to the public every week, and have become respected as high powered writers of conscience and seekers of the common good. No one can stop them and no one can top them, as it is a labor of love, not profit-driven, publishing a weekly paper for a $1 pittance, $50 annual sub + online adjunct. 

Weekly outlets in other regions reprint their bold wit and brave exposes, expanding horizons beyond local borders. Editor Bruce Anderson hides behind 'Off the Record' to unleash his mighty pen against forces of corruption and mediocrity using anonymity to keep his comments crisp. Mark Scaramella exposes unfolding bureaucracy with wry put downs and nuanced observations, such as 'the quicksand of pot applications'. Both had reprints of their columns in Mendo County Observer's Dec 10 issue.

We can credit AVA with educating an entire generation and local public opinion about what's really going down, deep in the guts of official Mendocino County, centered in the BOS keeping cannabis forces under control post prohibition, through pretzel regulations and virulent tax law which allows for RECRIM through 'violations deemed misdemeanors'. This new language is being surreptitiously passed in ballot initiatives from Mendo to Monterrey to couple local cannabis taxes with sleight-of-hand recrim language.

Bruce and Mark are not lovers of weed it is safe to say and often use stereotypical put-downs about the people who use it to an infuriating degree, revealing their bias. But their class understanding of government prejudice and exploitation of underdogs in general gives them an edge in grasping the bungling bureaucracy and incompetent implementation of the Adult Use Ordinance, with multiple differences in water requirements of weed vs wine. 

Wine is not regulated at all, cannabis is regulated out of all proportion to the water growers use. Scaramella wrote a well researched article comparing both industries in a number of categories with inequalities so persuasive as to deserve a constitutional challenge to the laws themselves.

For decades I've been challenging US marijuana laws in court as unconstitutional for lack of medical access, on grounds of unequal, unreasonable and cruel. Mark's research is thorough enough to be foundational to a constitutional challenge on equal protection grounds, especially due to unencumbered access to water enjoyed by grape growers because Mendo wineries are highly valued as compared to excessive and unreasonable water regulations for cannabis growers who are not highly valued, being formerly prohibited people, i.e. criminals. (Ample room for bias.)

This is the level of research and scholarship one can expect in the AVA. Since the primary staff are good writers, the bar is high for writers who submit copy.

The diversity of outstanding writers on wide-ranging subjects is AVA's forte, as well as an editor who invites variety and loathes censorship.

For years you would not find a woman on their masthead as contributors with one exception, who provided info on community meals and the like. Nothing on the level of Fred Gardner and other regulars. That has now changed and several excellent women writers are listed as contributors. But there is still very little on health, nutrition, children, sexuality and other such issues deemed to be primarily of interest to female readers, as the male point of view has it.

There is also a penchant for ridicule which crops up now and then, is inherently hostile, short of hateful, but still petty, a low standard just for jollies.

Other than these shortcomings, their new motto — 'every issue in every issue' — is remarkably accurate and expresses the gamut of issues of interest to community buffs, historians, intellectuals, activists and nerds alike, as well as engaged people who like a good read. It is common to find prosecutors in Ukiah courtrooms reading the AVA waiting for the judge or to find people reading the paper while waiting in COVID lines outside their bank.

There is plenty to love in every AVA. Life would be more impoverished, less informed and lonelier without its lively, thoughtful stuff about the state of the world from dedicated contrarians. Thanks to Bruce and Mark, their dedication is our education, their labor of love is our gift from the universe.

Pebbles Trippet


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On December 11, 2020 at approximately 1543 hours, Officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department conducted a probation search and gang compliance check at a residence in the 200 block of Chestnut Street. 

Upon arrival, officers located Alani Akhtab at the location. During their search, officers located several articles of gang indicia and an unregistered firearm. It was also determined Akhtab had failed to register as a gang member pursuant to his terms of probation. 

Alani Akhtab

Akhtab was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail for violation of his probation and failure to register as a gang member as required. 

If you have information related to this investigation please contact the Fort Bragg Police Department at (707) 961-2800.


On Sunday, December 13, 2020 at approximately 9:16 P.M., Deputies contacted Tracie Wright, 39, of Redwood Valley, at a residence in the 1000 block of Lennix Drive in Redwood Valley.

Tracie Wright

Wright had an active Mendocino County Superior Court Felony Arrest Warrant (Assault with a Deadly Weapon Non-Firearm). The warrant was confirmed by Deputies with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center and Wright was arrested without incident.

Wright was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.


On Sunday, December 13, 2020 at approximately 9:48 P.M., Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office contacted Christopher Dick in the 1900 block of Peterson Pond Lane Redwood Valley.

Christopher Dick

Dick had an active Mendocino County Superior Court Felony Arrest Warrant (Negligent Discharge of Firearm & Possession of Firearm while Prohibited by Restraining Order).

Dick was taken into custody without incident pursuant to the arrest warrant.

Dick was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.

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NO SCOTT DAM, no ability to regulate flows to Potter Valley and Lake Mendocino to assure water supply reliability and support endangered fish. 

The Army Corps. of Engineers has been using a new forecasting technology model (FIRO) to decide exactly how much water to release from Lake Mendocino and, this year, had to reduce the flows into the Russian River to prevent Lake Mendocino from dropping to historic levels. Low flows in the Russian River affect water supply for humans and endangered fish, water quality, aquifer replenishment, groundwater, recreation and tourism — in fact the river is currently closed to fishing. See recent article on FIRO at

In dry years, there will be no fall back position, no Lake Pillsbury water storage. Imagine a dry lakebed, with no rain in sight. Please donate - help us keep up the fight!

— Lake Pillsbury Alliance,

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A GUY named Joseph Epstein, writing for the Wall Street Journal last week, referred to Jill Biden as “kiddo” en route to saying, “A wise man once said that no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc. In the social sciences calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league.” 

MRS. BIDEN has a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, a diploma one step down from a degree in mumbly peg, which at least requires some hand-eye coordination. Natch, the PC mob came a howlin' for Epstein, with Mrs. Biden's “spokesperson” declaring, “This story would never have been written about a man.”

AHEM. The Boonville weekly has said versions of the same thing many times about men, especially back in the late 1980s when the Mendocino County Office of Education operated as an ongoing criminal enterprise. Several of the lead thieves out at the plush Talmage compound, boffing their secretaries and forging title to attractive items of public property, called themselves doctors of education. And they probably were. The EeD is one of many college degrees passed out by the less reputable institutions to anybody who shows up and pays for the privilege. These days there's a variety of similar advanced degrees available in vague undisciplined disciplines like gender studies and so on. Mrs. Biden seems like a nice lady, but I doubt she's much of a scholar.

IF YOU CAN REPEAT the following without mispronouncing the words (and without laughing), you can talk like a college grad, circa 2020: “The new edition pays closer attention to intersectionality and hybrid identities. Countless users tweeted about prejudice, intersectionality, and police discrimination. ... There were also marginalizing comments about transgender people and intersectionality as a whole.” 

BEFORE YOU LEAVE TODAY, CLASS, you have to sit still for this pop quiz. Ready? True or false. (1) Karl Marx was a 19th century sociologist. (2) Marxists think that economic and social conditions determine your life. (3) Canada, Japan, Norway, and Sweden are socialist countries. (4) Stalin and Hitler were socialists. (5) Cuba is a Marxist-Leninist state. (6) Mendocino County is home to several thousand socialists. (7) Hippies are socialists. (8) Trotsky raised rabbits in Mexico. (9) There is no difference between a communist and a socialist. (10) Liberals are socialists. (11) Anarchists hated communists. (12 ) Many towns in Idaho, circa 1880-1920, were governed by socialists. (13) The Anderson Valley Advertiser is a communist newspaper. (14) The Spanish Civil War was about communists versus fascists. (15) Imperialism is a beer made in Belgium. (16) Democrats are socialists. (17) Republicans are fascists. (18) The Black Muslims are a racist organization. (19) Genocide and Vendetta is a true history of pioneer Mendocino County. (20) Social Security is a socialist welfare program.

HERE IN MENDO, where’s the Spanish-language covid warnings as more than half of all cases are Spanish-speaking people? This remark was flagged as “racist” by a roving doer of good who wandered in last week to bring us up to date on the catechism. So I sez, “Well, having been ordered by the little woman to pick up a flat of chicken broth in the vastness of Ukiah CostCo the other day, once inside, lost and confused, I asked an Asian woman where I could find it, knowing that she would know because chicken broth is a staple of Asian cooking. Tell me o righteous one, am I a racist?” Close, he said. A wobbler. I’ll think on it. And he laughed and I laughed. Typically, the left-fascists are irony-challenged, and absolutely humor-deficient. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 14, 2020

Akhtab, Anguiano, Bowman

ALANI AKHTAB, Fort Bragg. Unspecified offense, probation revocation.

MARCELINO ANGUIANO, Ukiah. Reckless driving, evasion.

GELLIALLA BOWMAN, Ukiah. Resisting.

Cassidy, Dick, Fulton

LAYNE CASSIDY, Ukiah. DUI, failure to appear.

CHRISTOPHER DICK, Redwood Valley. Grossly negligent discharge of firearm, owning or possessing firearm in violation of restraining order. 

ROYCE FULTON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

Gahm, Hawthorne, Huang

ARNOLD GAHM, Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.

KARLY HAWTHORNE, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI, resiisting, probation revocation.

ROBERT HUANG, Ukiah. Grand theft from person, theft by forgery of access card, getting credit with another’s ID, saps-or similar weapons, conspiracy.

Ivey, Johnson, Lopez, Parker

RYAN IVEY, Fort Bragg. Trespassing, Burglary tools, Probation violation.

RICHARD JOHNSON, Ukiah. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run, suspended license.

JOSE LOPEZ IV, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

KOLE PARKER, Fort Bragg. Reckless driving, stolen property, suspended license, leaded cane or similar weapon, offenses while on bail.

Wilkinson, Williams, Wright

JENNIFER WILKINSON, Laytonville. DUI, smuggling controlled substances or liquor into jail, contempt of court-disorderly behavior.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS JR., Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation violation.

TRACIE WRIGHT, Redwood Valley. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic battery.

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When his boat snapped loose

from its mooring, under

the screaking of the gulls,

he tried at first to wave

to his dear ones on shore,

but in the rolling fog

they had already lost their faces.

Too tired even to choose

— Stanley Kunitz 

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Usal, 1910

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WHAT PUBLIC DEFENDERS SEE: "Authorized" for Release, But Still Jailed

by Matt Taibbi

Keith Lotridge, Chief Public Defender in Prince George’s County, Maryland, explains the problem. “You’re arrested for a crime,” he says. “Within 24 hours, you appear for Initial Bail Review. There’s a charging document, maybe a statement by the alleged victim. On the basis of that, the judge makes a determination on bond.”

Except the judge doesn’t do that. In Prince George’s County, the system allows for more than just a binary decision on remand or release. Judges may elect to walk through door number three.

“Pretrial option,” Lotridge says. “The defendant is ‘authorized’ for release, but the decision is left up to the pretrial release unit.” Pretrial Services is a subdivision of the jail, a corrections office. Among other things, it’s responsible for supervising defendants through electronic monitoring. Mirroring a process that may take place before bail hearings in other states (like the Criminal Justice Agency review arrestees go through in New York City) the defendant’s suitability for release is scored according to a series of criteria. These may include an address in the county, a telephone number, no pending cases in any other county, no active monitoring in Washington, DC, etc. Assuming the defendant meets enough criteria, he or she can be released. Pretrial services are often lauded as an alternative to cash bail, but “the system is flawed,” as Lotridge puts it. 

If you’re not from Prince George’s County but get arrested there, or you don’t have a landline telephone (who does anymore?), or of course if you’re homeless, you might not pass the “risk assessment” test. The main problem, however, has to do with the chronology of the assessment, which allows both judges and the jail to play volleyball with detention decisions.

In the parody of the bail process described by Lotridge, judges can punt crucial decisions about release to pretrial services. Although the system seems not to have been designed for this purpose — Lotridge is careful to point fingers at the jail system, not the bench — as it currently stands, judges facing thorny decisions can buy the equivalent of a political options contract as an alternative to judgment.

If the defendant is innocent but ends up unjustly jailed for a long time before trial, it’s not the judge’s fault: he or she “authorized” release. If the accused gets out and commits a serious crime, also not the judge’s fault: it was Pretrial Services that released the defendant, not the judge.

Often, defense attorneys won’t even know the client is still incarcerated. They may leave a bail review hearing thinking a client is getting out, only to find out days later, through a relative, that the defendant is still inside. Lotridge’s office at that point will often seek a second bail review, but that’s no guarantee of release. Meanwhile, the defendant is “sitting in what amounts to a locked concrete closet,” as Lotridge says.

Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center just released a study about bond hearings in Prince George’s County, and observed an additional dystopian complication: Judges routinely order someone detained without bond, but give them the option of release to Pre-Trial Services. However, Pre-Trial Services in turn, often require judges to explicitly order pretrial release, rather than give the defendant the option for Pre-Trial Services... 

The Clinic has observed defendants stuck in limbo, in which the judge passes the buck to Pre-Trial Services and Pre-Trial Services passes the buck to the judge, with neither taking full responsibility for the release of the defendant. The endgame to this hamster wheel of non-decisions is that “people get stuck as two systems fail to act,” as Lotridge puts it. As a result, people “authorized” for release stay in jail, a problem that’s particularly serious in the Covid-19 era. “We’ve had less than five jury trials since March,” Lotridge says. “If they decide not to release a defendant, they could be in jail for a year before they get anywhere near a trial date." 

The pandemic underscored the obscenity of the situation. Last spring, at a time when Prince George’s County was being described as the “epicenter” of a coronavirus outbreak in Maryland, the Prince George’s County Jail was a hot spot within a hot spot. Department of Corrections Director Mary Lou McDonough at the time was comparing jails to “cruise ships without the views or amenities.” Reports began to leak out from inside the jail that prisoners weren’t being educated about Covid-19, and precautions were limited to giving inmates one paper mask and “one or two bars of soap when they arrive.” The situation deteriorated to the point where the Civil Rights Corps filed a class-action suit on behalf of prisoners, accusing the PG County Jail of fueling a health crisis by failing to take basic steps to protect detainees. 

At the time of the suit, the jail was holding at least 113 people who’d been authorized for release in highly infectious conditions. They argued it was legal. As the AP put it, “The county draws a distinction between court-authorized and court-ordered releases. Its lawyers say nobody has been detained in violation of a court order.” 

An additional problem, best left for a longer article, involves another step taken by this jail, and by others across the country: prisoners affirmatively ordered released but kept inside anyway, by correctional officials simply not wanting to release Covid-positive defendants into society. 

As the Maryland suit described it, “The Jail also refuses to release COVID-positive prisoners — even when they have no legal basis to detain them — until the Jail deems them non-contagious.” If and when the pandemic comes under control thanks to vaccines (we can be sure prisoners will be last in line to get those), the tally of prisoner deaths is likely to be extremely high. 

As of this writing, over 249,000 prisoners have contracted the disease, with 1,657 dead, a crisis surely complicated by procedures like the one Lotridge describes. “We have people who are dying in the jails across the country,” Lotridge says. “We can do something about it if we simply get people out of there.” The loophole in Prince George’s County is just one example of a creeping problem of the bureaucratization of jurisprudence. In the public imagination, decisions about things like pretrial detention are legal matters, with judges weighing the risk of flight, the seriousness of the crime, and so on. In truth, these questions are often decided by things that have nothing to do with cases, like access to money, the size of the venue’s case backlog, or the detention procedures in the jurisdiction. In this bureaucracy, as in any other, when people can pass the buck, they will, even when lives are at stake.

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PG&E using a “heli-saw” to give trees a buzz cut will surely damage many trees. Some will never recover. Renting a specific type of helicopter day after day for a couple of years seems pretty expensive. Please, tell me again that burying wire in the ground is too expensive. Oh, and it’s the safest too.

Pam Bates


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Traveller’s Inn, Covelo

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Being an emergency room nurse, I am quite familiar with and sympathetic to the plight of homeless people. I am wholly supportive of services to house and assist this vulnerable population, but the latest idea has me fuming. I'm speaking of the pending purchase of the Sebastopol Inn at $6.2 million, along with the estimated $4.6 million that it will cost to run for its first two years.

Our elected officials have completely overlooked their financial responsibilities to the taxpayers of Sonoma County and our homeless population. 

The inn has just 31 rooms, so with the given operating costs it will run roughly $74,000 per person per year. This doesn't even account for the initial purchase. 

These numbers are ludicrous. The hundreds of local homeless people would be better served in safe, organized encampments on publicly owned land with sanitation, garbage, showers, security, on-site social services and even a roving weekly medical clinic. 

What are they thinking? To house 31 individuals at the expense of potentially helping hundreds isn't only fiscally unsound but ethically dubious. 

Beth Pisani


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Today’s AVA coverage of next week’s Mendo BoS agenda item — review of "the Supes ad hoc committees” — prompted me to look up the county’s website for further information. From the “General Information” page (, the list of “Boards & Commissions” can be accessed, which goes to a hyperlinked list of same, but I could not find any list of “ad hoc committees.” 

In Lake County, next week’s Board of Supervisors’ agenda also includes an action item for approving the after-the-fact formation of the “Lake County Small Business COVID Recovery Team” (with appointment of two supervisors thereto, we presume).

It’s possible that the new action item was proposed in response to a question I posed to the county administration on December 10, regarding an “ad hoc” committee (hastily created and still uncondified) that influenced the local response to COVID-19 public health mandates for most of this year, which was called the “Blue Collar Committee.” Blue Collar Committee members included two county supervisors, the CEO of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and unknown others in response to business impacts of the statewide public health emergency declared in March.

The Chamber of Commerce contributed strongly to the advocacy for adherence to Public Health Orders, even supplying masks and voluntary compliance signage to local businesses, even while some members of the public and small businesses pushed back against the orders, even sponsoring a failed ballot initiative, on whose behalf one of the two county supervisors participating in the “Blue Collar Committee” resisted the creation of means for enforcing those orders. 

An extremely gentle enforcement ordinance — focusing on “education first" and then authorizing tiny fines — was resisted by one of the “Blue Collar Committee” Supes and one not “on” the committee, in harmony with our county Sheriff’s announcement that his department would refrain from interfering with violations of the orders (in a manner similar to Mendocino and Humboldt county sheriffs, and indeed 40 of California’s 58 top county law enforcement officials).

This single indication of a response from county administration (inferred only from the presence of the agenda item) follows on the heels of a detailed inquiry presented to the county administration on December 7, in which I scrutinized the titles of “Boards, Committees, and Commissions” displayed on the list of “Appointments” to same, as annually determined in the first BoS meeting each year. 

There has been no response to that inquiry, or to the November 27 email I sent to all five county supervisors and county administration recommending that they “follow up” on their conversation in January during the process of making 2020 assignments of supervisors to the various subordinate or auxiliary entities — in which the BoS Chair agreed that “some” of them should be examined for currency and relevance, before “next year.” 

There are 56 such entities shown in Lake County’s annual “Appointments” list, among them various councils and internal review committees for which there is no public participation option. And the list is a mish-mash of outdated/obsolete committees alongside Joint Powers Authorities (not identified as such) like the Mendocino and Lake Counties “Area Agency on Aging” and our brand new “Community Risk Reduction Authority.” There is a great deal of confusion over whose authority governs the Lake County Fire Safe Council, the services of which are supplied under a contract with the state Department of Conservation’s local Resource Conservation District. Unseen and unheard negotiations between the RCD’s executive director and county administration are continuing to occlude the County’s obligations to implement our 2009-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan — and update the county’s General Plan for conformance with current public health and safety regulations. 

A prime example of an obsolete or moribund “ad hoc committee" is the once active “2X2” which was created in the mid-2000s to allow a former supervisor to “negotiate” with the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District for the primary purpose of enabling the Lake County Watershed Protection District to become a water purveyor for the long-planned expansion of housing subdivisions in Kelseyville’s Big Valley flatlands, where every year orchards are lost to grapevines, and the groundwater is so harsh that it cannot be used for domestic purpose.

Workarounds for supplying adequate domestic water service to the central Big Valley community of Finley, began in the 1980s as part of the county’s (state required) Capital Improvement Plan, which extended water and sewer mains from the Kelseyville Waterworks District 3 and Kelseyville Wastewater Treatment Plant, thus “ripening for development” the prime agricultural land (and puffing up the county’s general fund). The Wastewater Treatment Plant itself was brought into compliance with state public health requirements only a few years ago, by adding impervious lining to the earthen impoundment ponds (and adding aeration process upgrades to allow greater throughput, with the treated effluent pipeline enlargement anticipated to someday ship that material up to the Geysers for re-injection into depleted geothermal steam fields).

For development of the territory between Finley and Lakeport, the Lake County Special Districts Administration concocted a new well project that was ostensibly for the purpose of providing adequate fire suppression flows to the unincorporated area of light industry and commerce called “South Main Street,” the subject of a multi-decade battle between the County of Lake and the City of Lakeport over the City’s declared intent to annex the high sales-tax yielding parcels and providing fire suppression supplies needed by the local Fire Protection District to protect those businesses currently without them.* Imagine the horror of the major lumber yard and nearby propane fuel suppliers enflamed by the 2018 River Fire — or a simple electrical system failure under “normal” conditions — and imagine the simplicity with which the City’s existing water system infrastructure could be extended south to eliminate that risk, in an annexation that would transfer the coveted sales tax from county to city treasuries (a measly few hundred thousand dollars) that the county has prevented through its manipulation of the Local Agency Formation Commission all this time.

[*Lakeport Cinema owner installed a wholly adequate groundwater supply system for the movie house, but its proximity to many other light industrial parcels and adjacent rough agricultural operations render its location as vulnerable as its surrounding underserved (and hazardous?) neighbors.]

Tying the acquisition of “municipal” water supplies to the completion of the Middle Creek Flood Damage Control & Ecosystem Restoration Project (which would add a theoretical 6,000 acre feet of storage capacity to the lake, of which the county claimed authority* for extracting 2,000 acre feet per year to serve the proposed Big Valley subdivision plans) — under the management of the county’s phantom Watershed Protection District — the “2X2” meetings between former District 4 and soon-to-be-former District 5 supervisors and staff of the Yolo County-based flood control district (which controls the adjudicated water rights to the top 7 feet of the lake’s surface water supply under specified conditions) proposed to “amend” an earlier agreement between the two jurisdictions whereby 7,950 acre feet per annum of Clear Lake water is used to supplement treated effluent supplies that are keeping the Geysers power plants going, auspiciously “solving” the problem of the state’s moratorium on new construction that was imposed by the state Department of Public Health after a late 80s flood disaster that resulted in significant contamination of the lake by overfull wastewater treatment pond contents into Lyons Creek.

[*In 2008, Lake County forked over $89,000 for an application for a new “water right” to the state DWR, creating annual expenses for licensure and operations that were obviated by the Yolo County FC&WCD’s simple method for acquiring the desired water supply, which the “2X2” turned down. State DWR permit status unknown, but for all intents and purposes “dead in the water” as far as we can tell.]

So, under conditions negotiated by the two authorized “ad hoc” committee members for amending that earlier agreement, the someday-to-be-“restored” 1,200 acres of “reclaimed” wetlands (when the levees are breached by nature or human intervention), for which the public has contributed half a billion dollars so far with not much accomplished, will become an enlargement of the lake’s surface water supplies, and the Lake County Watershed Protection District — with the highest responsibility for compliance with the US EPA’s Clean Water Act (and California’s Porter-Cologne Act) to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements, under 2004 state legislation — will become a new “enterprise agency” similar to the existing Special Districts Administration. Both Districts are “dependent,” and have as their governing bodies the “ex officio” members of the Board of Supervisors.

A three-year attempt to call for transparency and accountability from the Watershed Protection District by means of a Local Agency Formation Commission “Municipal Service Review” and “Sphere of Influence” report failed, with active interference by at least one elected official and a former supervisor who holds the “member of the public” representation seat (as elected by the LAFCo members themselves). 

The phantom District is “staffed” by employees of the county’s Department of Water Resources, under administrative budget units funded, in part, by property taxes and in part by sources alluded to but not specified in the annual county budget. 

But that is just one example of the opacity of county-authorized secondary decision-making bodies and advisory formations. For the most part, few of the 56 listed entities on our Appointments list produce much and rarely does the public hear from the appointed supervisors about the activities they are conducting on our behalf. Requests for access to public records substantiating our “Boards, Committees, and Commissions” formations, appointments, and governance documents are resisted, rather than honored, demonstrating the inadequacy of our administration (including the Board of Supervisors) to empower and make wise use of available citizen contributions — and often diverting the capacities of appointed elected officials to ensure that our federally-funded and state-authorized public health and safety programs are adequate. 

One of the most fascinating advisory bodies in Mendocino County’s panoply of such is the "Health and Human Services Agency Advisory Board,” which has 21 members including Ted Williams and John Haschak, and North Coast Opportunities executive director Patty Bruder. Left leaderless by the recent lucrative retirement of its director, no explanation of the Advisory Board’s scope of work or authorities is provided — and may or may not have any relationship with your Measure B Committee for spending of taxpayer-funded mitigations for nearly-epidemic mental health crises. 

All of these intertwined public service bodies, with their siloed responsibilities and largely unexamined authorities for awards of contracts to private nonprofit agencies, are the responsibility of the ultimate authority for protecting the health and welfare of Mendocino County citizens — your Board of Supervisors. The entrenched system of nepotistic employment practices is a house of cards over which your nearly-omnipotent Chief Executive Officer rules by restricting administration access by the members of your Board of Supervisors, but at least the respectable number of engaged taxpayer-voters with vested interest in good governance can see who they are theoretically represented by.

In Lake County our Board of Supervisors is complacently buffaloed by the Administration’s stranglehold on public information, a system which appears to be favored by our elected officials — whose subordinate and mostly unseen advisory bodies are used either to create those obvious “done deals” or prevent community-driven improvements that do not align with them. 

Betsy Cawn

Lake County

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Leslie Cogburns, Frontier Days Queen, Willits, 1966

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TINKER, TAILOR, WRITER, SPY: the many lives of John le Carré, in his own words

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I believe that the CIA and Seal Team Six had a firefight in Europe's financial capital to seize servers that never existed because I am a doddering 80 year old man with severe lead poisoning and a declining grip on reality.


[1] I was 24 years of age in 1975, “When a man could still work and still would” (Merle Haggard) All of the seeds of our current reality had been planted and were beginning to sprout. The populace of the United States had been systematically lied to about their nation’s activities in Southeast Asia for twenty years starting from 1955. Thirty years of consumption lay ahead before we would reach the peak for conventional petroleum production. The phrases “America, Love it or Leave It” and “My Country, Right or Wrong” were easily available as bumper stickers. The events at Kent State and the “Hard Hat Riot” in Manhattan were behind us. Elvis was still alive, the first “Test Tube Baby”, the Jonestown Massacre and the Hostage Crisis in Tehran lay ahead. One thing was true above all others — every word that came out of Washington D.C. was couched in half truths. Stated plainly everything that was in the media was a lie, a very comforting lie, still a lie. Let us look at the world for a 24 year old citizen of the United States at this moment “When a man can’t work and won’t” “Vote Blue, No Matter Who” The complete and total corruption of our political system has been exposed and the populace is divided into camps based solely on which lie is most comforting to their fragile ego. “No evidence of fraud” or “The Democrats want to destroy our nation” Simple strokes for simple folks. “The modern Little Red Riding Hood, reared on singing commercials, has no objection to being eaten by the wolf.” ~ Marshall McLuhan

“Standing next to me in this lonely crowd

Is a man who swears he’s not to blame

All day long I hear him shout so loud

Crying out that he was framed” (Dylan)

Destroy a thing to save it? Bullshit now as it was in the day of Calley.

[2] Do you remember when you were in Middle School, and you confided in a friend you trusted that you thought a certain girl was pretty? You swore that friend to secrecy, but to your everlasting mortification, when you came to school the next day Everyone knew about it, even the Janitor and the Tray Line Lunch Ladies. People Can’t, Won’t, and Don’t keep secrets. So the idea that “scores of elected officials, at both the State and Federal level, Senators, Congressmen, Governors on down” were all involved in a huge conspiracy for years, and somehow adhered to a code of silence and secrecy like a Medieval Monastic order, is not based on any rational assessment of actual human behavior. I really don’t think this could plausibly have happened. People get drunk, and wag their tongues. People get into gambling and financial trouble and sell information to the media for money. People confide secrets in spouses, then go through bitter divorces. People have staff members Privy to information who hate them leak sensitive information. People like to sound really important, so they tell that trusted friend they” have a really big secret-but you can’t tell anybody.”

[3] The Supreme Court will not interfere with election results and Uncle Joe will take office on Jan. 20. Trump will continue efforts to question the results and delegitimize the Biden administration and further his aims, whatever they might be. The Republicans will be glad to be rid of Trump and try to move on from his spell. The next four years will see even more deconstruction of the ‘Republic’ and life will be even more tenuous for the public. Then, there will be a very serious implosion of the global financial system and all bets are off. To borrow a quote from Monty Python, “Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition.” Things stay the same, until they don’t.

[4] I am just a little confused about where we want all this to take us;

Result #1– Trump presents evidence of treason by Democrats and proves widespread election fraud. Election is awarded to Trump.

Outcome#1–Approximately half of the electorate did not vote for Trump. They perceive that the election has been stolen from them, and they are very upset. They start acting out in ways that are sometimes violent.

Result #2– It turns out that there is actually no evidence of election fraud. With the support of some of the US Military, Trump attempts to seize power.

Outcome#2–Lasting civil war in the US leads to lasting violent conflict, the complete destruction of the US economy, and loss of US influence throughout the world. Foreign powers find it in their interest to fund certain sides of the new Civil War. 

Do any of us really want either of these two outcomes? Before World War I, the French and the Germans both assumed that they were inevitably headed for war, to the extent that French freight cars were stenciled ’40 men or 8 horses.’ The conversations here sort of have that look and feel. Can Civil War II be avoided?

Of course there are other possibilities–

Result #3– Trump’s election initiatives go nowhere. Biden is sworn in as US President, but without violent protest.

(Most Likely) Outcome#3–

Biden and Harris create policies that speed the collapse of the US Economy (and with it the Global Economy) that was going to happen anyway. The resulting hardships are attributed to Democrats and Progressives. 

Would Result #3 really be so bad?

[5] And what’s the evidence for your conspiracy, Trumpers? I have tried to chase down some of the evidence that gets cited here and elsewhere. It’s always some sketchy internet video and with some fact-checking it all melts away. It’s also easy – if you will look outside the echo chamber – to find some great explanations of why the accusations about Dominion machines are highly implausible given the way the machines function.

But hey, you don’t need to rely on internet sources. Look at the way the Trump legal challenges have gone. The first giveaway is his legal team. Do you think there aren’t fleets of good lawyers who’d run any even halfway plausible argument before courts? Why do you think none would act for Trump? Rudy and Sidney Powell are not the lawyers you get if you have a strong case. They are bottom of the barrel hucksters. (I am talking 2020 Giuliani here – clearly he once had some facility – long since departed).

His challenges have been met with defeat after defeat. The judgements have often been humiliating. The arguments have been nonsensical and the witnesses often blatantly crazy. 

There’s not some conspiracy here. There’s just a petulant loser not accepting defeat and his GOP enablers muddying the waters. Which – given the enthusiasm being shown for military intervention by a lot you – takes you to very scary places.

Take a deep breath, get out of the echo chamber, and look around. This stolen election stuff is crazy.

[6] Trump Spokespeople said, based on nothing, that after Nov. 4th the talk about COVID will stop. Instead, it is almost now all we are talk about as things turn nightmarish while waiting for a vaccine.

Trump spokespeople, based on nothing, said masks were not necessary, and restrictions on gatherings were an affront to our freedom. Instead most of Trump’s non-mask wearing staff and lawyers have COVID, and non-mask wearing states like South Dakota (also hosting motor cycle rallies) have the highest per capita COVID cases in the world.

Trump spokespeople said that they were sending out the lawyers to expose all the vote fraud in the election – with no evidence. Instead, all but one or two cases were thrown out of court, along with stinging criticism, even from Trump appointed judges.

Trump spokespeople, and JHK, based on hearsay, kept saying that there would be a bombshell from Judge Durham before the election. Didn’t happen.

Now we are expected to believe, based on speculation, that the Supreme Court will invalidate the votes of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania citizens based on one theoretical statistical analysis. While I have no doubt that Alito, as partisan a hack as ever to be on the court, might do such a thing, it’s tough to see SCOTUS overthrowing an election without HARD evidence.

It’s instructive to remember that the same people promoting this theory are the same ones who were entirely divorced from reality in the above examples. It’s not a Dem vs Rep thing, but a recognition of reality vs fantasy, no matter how badly one wants the fantasy to be true.

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It’s funny that the “reputable sites” for covid “research” are always youtube videos by chiropractors in places like Kern county and social media postings that show a blurry iPhone screenshot (with an illegible part circled in felt marker) alleging something something “microchips.” But the free thinkers are “just asking questions!” you know.

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by Norman Solomon

Bernie Sanders is not in a good political position right now. Yes, he continues to speak vital truths to -- and about -- power. His ability to reach a national audience with progressive wisdom and specific proposals is unmatched. And, during the last several decades, no one has done more to move the nation’s discourse leftward. But now, Sanders is in a political box.

After a summer and fall dominated by the imperative of defeating Donald Trump, progressive forces are entering a winter of discontent. Joe Biden has offered them little on the list of top personnel being named to his administration. While Sanders wants to maintain a cordial relationship with the incoming president, he doesn’t like what he’s seeing.

“The progressive movement deserves a number of seats -- important seats -- in the Biden administration,” Sanders said last week. “Have I seen that at this point? I have not."

Sanders foreshadowed the current situation back in mid-November, when he told The Associated Press: “It seems to me pretty clear that progressive views need to be expressed within a Biden administration. It would be, for example, enormously insulting if Biden put together a ‘team of rivals’ -- and there’s some discussion that that’s what he intends to do -- which might include Republicans and conservative Democrats -- but which ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unfortunate.”

At this point, Sanders and avid supporters of the Bernie 2020 campaign have ample reasons to feel frustrated, even “enormously” insulted. It’s small comfort that Biden’s picks so far are purportedly “not as bad as Obama’s were 12 years ago. That’s a low bar, especially to those who understand that Barack Obama heavily corporatized his presidency from the outset. And given the past decade’s leftward political migration among Democrats and independents at the grassroots, Biden’s selections have been even more out of step with the party’s base.

Reporting on Biden’s overall selections as this week began, the Washington Post found that “about 80 percent of the White House and agency officials he’s announced have the word ‘bama’ on their resume from previous White House or Obama campaign jobs.”

Biden conveyed notable disregard for Sanders by nominating an OMB director with a long record of publicly expressing antagonism toward him. The Post just reported that “the transition team never reached out to” Sanders about “Biden’s decision to tap Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to a person familiar with the lack of communication, despite Sanders’s role as the top Democrat on one of the committees that will hold Tanden’s confirmation hearings.”

Away from Capitol Hill, many progressive organizations are regrouping while “the Bernie movement” evaporates. Coalescing in its place are a range of resilient, overlapping movements that owe much of their emergent long-term power to his visionary leadership.

Nationally, Sanders became a shaper of history in unprecedented ways. Unlike almost every other major candidate for president in our lifetimes, he has always been part of social movements. For 30 years, Sanders not only continued to have one foot in the streets and one foot in the halls of Congress; somehow, he often seemed to be relentlessly in both places with both feet.

Bernie Sanders has fulfilled what the legendary progressive activist and theoretician Saul Alinsky described as a key goal of political organizers -- to work themselves out of a job -- so that other activists will become ready, willing and able to carry on.

At this juncture, while Sanders is ill-positioned and uninclined to push back very hard against the evident trajectory of Biden’s decisions, many progressives are starting to throw down gauntlets against the corporate and militaristic aspects of the incoming presidency. While the lunacy of the Trumpian GOP is nonstop and corporate Democrats have control of party top-down power levers, the broad democratic left is now stronger, better-funded and better-networked than it has been in many decades, with greatly enhanced electoral capacities as well as vitality of its social movements.

Those electoral capacities and social movements have long been intertwined with the tireless work of Bernie Sanders. But a crucial dynamic going forward into 2021 and beyond will be the resolve of progressives to methodically challenge the Biden administration. Senator Sanders is unlikely to have the leverage or inclination to lead the fight.

Sanders has tried to call in some political chits, but Biden -- probably figuring that Sanders won’t really go to the mat -- does not seem to care much. Days ago, Sanders said in an interview with *Axios*: “I've told the Biden people: The progressive movement is 35-40 percent of the Democratic coalition. Without a lot of other enormously hard work on the part of grassroots activists and progressives, Joe would not have won the election.”

Bernie Sanders was the catalyst for galvanizing the grassroots progressive power that propelled his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. His deep analysis, tenacity, eloquence and bold actions created new pathways. As this century enters its third decade, the torch needs to be grasped by others to lead the way.

(Norman Solomon is the national director of and the author of many books including ‘War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death’. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)


  1. Bernie Norvell December 15, 2020

    Noyo Harbor, Since when did quitting become the answer or solution to making things better? Ask away.

    • Jacob December 15, 2020

      Agreed! The responsibility for alleged antics at the Noyo Harbor District don’t appear to rest with the remaining commissioners or conscientious staff and consultants who did not quit in a huff but with the people who appeared to throw a tantrum and resigned when their questionable approach to doing things started getting scrutiny from people who expect better of a special district…

  2. Douglas Coulter December 15, 2020

    Burly Tobacco and pot farming
    I lived in Kentucky for a year back in 1990 when the states cash crop was Burly Tobacco. Amount each farm could cultivate depended upon acres owned. Farmers could sell their permits if they did not want to grow.
    Nothing smells better than a barn full of Burly drying!
    Perhaps we could look at this system and work ideas into controlling big un permitted pot growing and quick permits for small growers.

  3. Bill Pilgrim December 15, 2020

    I second Ms. Trippet’s appreciation of the AVA.
    I’ve been enjoying the historical photographs published in the daily MCT. But, please, enough of the felled “gentle giants” with the bearded, bedraggled loggers posing beside the trunks. While they are snapshots of an important part of the early economy, they are also heartbreaking windows into our arrogant presumption that humans have a divine right to dominate and destroy the natural world so long as the outcome is profitable.
    And now, today, we might not be killing the giant trees around here with chainsaws, but, according to the latest scientific research, human induced global heating will finish them off.

    • Bruce McEwen December 15, 2020

      Hear! Hear! — and I’ll third the motion: For the Editor of {ital. please}Skunk Magazine {close ital.} to send in such an honest encomium makes me wonder: Will the rest of the world ever wise-up?

      I also thrilled to read the poem, “Long Boat,” having recently ordered a scale model of an 18th Century British admiralty long boat for my grandson’s Christmastide– what a coincidence!

  4. Marmon December 15, 2020


    Too bad the court found that they did not have “Property Interest” in the “Due Process” portion of their suit. The disparity between State and Federal law when it comes to Cannabis needs to be dealt with. Because their property interest was not constitutionally protected, their conspiracy claim is moot and therefore denied as well. At least that’s the way I read it.

    I wonder if they can take that portion of the complaint to State level?

    Fortunately for Gurr/Burges, in regards to their “equal protection” claim against the County for creating the Opt-Out zone, equal protection claims do not require a constitutionally protected property interest. So the case against the County moves forward. Gurr/Borges attorneys can now start deposing folks which is not going to make the County very happy.

    Somebody correct me if I am wrong.


    • Marmon December 15, 2020

      It doesn’t mean there wasn’t a conspiracy, it just means that Borges/Gurr can not sue on that cause of action because Cannabis is listed as contraband at the federal level.

      The next move is to take it to the court of public opinion, stay tuned.


  5. Craig Stehr December 15, 2020


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