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Mendocino County Today: December 18, 2020

Dry Ahead | 26 Cases | John Missing | FB 1857 | Disaster Prep | Near Elk | Wrecks/Vaccines | Coyote Valley | 1913 News | Old Noyo | Ed Notes | Beyond Disappointing | Criminal Disregard | Orr Springs | Intrepid Reporter | Yesterday's Catch | Rent Strike | PA Testing | SF Muni | Solar Installer | Solstice Gathering | Beach Steps | Suspected Arsonist | Knee Shot | Facebook Doomsday | 1955 Flood | Wrong Socialism | Used Words | Irish Fishermen | 60s Values | Fools Gold | Exceedingly Angry | Gold-en Cola | Disaster Capitalism | India 1900 | Prescient le Carré | Correspondent Gellhorn

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FAIRLY QUIET WINTER WEATHER PATTERN shaping up across northwest California over the next week. Some very weak fronts may provide some light rain or drizzle to the coastal areas through the weekend. High pressure then sets up for another period of dry weather beginning on Monday. (NWS)

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26 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday, bringing the total to 2134. Another death (25 total). The ratio of infection for Ukiah Area residents is now 1 in 25.

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Family and friends are seeking information about a man who went missing earlier this week from Gualala Point Park. 

John Chapman, 68, arrived at Gualala Point Park at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14, to go fishing. When he did not return home a search was undertaken at approximately 1:30 p.m. The search is currently ongoing, John has yet to be located, and at this time is presumed to have drowned. Chapman is described as being 6 foot 2 inches tall, 220 pounds, with long gray hair. He was driving a 1999 silver Dodge Truck the day he went missing. His backpack and one of his fishing poles were found on the beach. We are seeking any information, however small, about what may have occurred during the incident. At this time we know so very little about what happened that any detail would be immensely helpful. Due to the private nature of this matter, please do not comment on this post. Send any information via email to or send a private message please. Thank you. 

Morgen Fredrickson, Point Arena

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Fort Bragg, 1857

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by Mark Scaramella

According to the National Institutes of Health, “A mass casualty incident (MCI) is defined as ‘an event that overwhelms the local healthcare system, where the number of casualties vastly exceeds the local resources and capabilities in a short period of time.’ Any MCI can rapidly exhaust available resources for not only the MCI but the normal day-to-day tasks of the hospital. Each hospital should institute a surge plan in preparation for anticipated, progressive, insidious ("notice" events), and sudden-onset ("no-notice" events) disasters occurring within the community.

First and foremost in responding to an MCI is identifying the type of MCI present. Categories include:

Planned (sporting event)

Conventional, which usually have some level of recurring frequency (transportation incidents, burn, and severe weather events)

Chemical, biological, radiological

Nuclear agents from an unintentional or accidental release or act of terrorism

Catastrophic health events (nuclear detonation, major explosion, a major hurricane, pandemic influenza, or others).

Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo and Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren both invoked the grim term “mass casualty” at last Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting in reference to the growing and accelerating covid cases, in anticipation of the accelerating spread of the disease mostly from urban areas to our south. 

Mendo is preparing a “mass casualty plan” because of the rapid increase of cases in California to be ready for “the possible disaster that lies ahead.”

“I’m usually an optimistic guy,” said Dr. Coren, “but looking at where we are now, and where the counties to the south of us are, all of our efforts so far seem too little, too late.”

It will take months before the vaccines arrive in significant quantities and enough people get vaccinated to make a noticeable dent in the spread. No one knows the extent of mitigation the vaccines will provide, nor when cases will decline.

“We are looking into the availability of mortuary resources,” said Dr. Coren, “and also looking into the mass casualty plans, with an eye to possibly using the [Ukiah] fairgrounds or some other place with a medical tent to mitigate the possible disaster that lies ahead.”

Under normal circumstances, Mendo’s three Adventist-run hospitals have 16 ICU beds. According to Dr. Coren, “They can surge up to 45 ICU beds. But our concern is staffing, because these can’t just be real estate — you have to have the right number and trained people to staff those beds. So the plan may be good for 45 beds, but what can happen remains to be seen.”

Coren said that covid cases are expected to continue to rise over the next few months and if ICU beds get taken up by cases sent north from overwhelmed counties like Sonoma, “it will be worse than any of us have seen in our lives especially if you need the hospital for any [other] reason. There are not going to be the beds, there are not going to be the personnel to staff those beds.”

On Tuesday, Mendo had five of its 16 ICU beds remaining open. 

“We did have a serious outbreak among the homeless at Building Bridges,” said Coren, “and that’s being mitigated by Redwood Community Services who’s putting all residents in hotels at this point so they can keep people separate while they clean their facility. Also, Round Valley is suffering a fairly large outbreak, and that’s being contained.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Coren attributed the local increase “not to outbreaks, but small gatherings, break rooms, eating and drinking together that leads to community spread. And people are not telling us where they actually caught it, so we may not have a lot of the specifics” about where or how a given case or outbreak began. 

“Many people just don’t believe how terrible this is,” Dr. Coren added. “So the problem is minimal compliance. The more we say, the more people disbelieve. The more we order, the more people dig their heels in. This is not everybody, but it’s enough that our attempts at writing orders have been undermined.”

Instead of saying “if,” Dr. Coren laid out his own version of the domino theory:: “When the hospital system truly breaks down and when all three hospitals are having trouble managing the numbers of patients, the ICU, which requires the most people to attend to those very ill patients, will be overwhelmed, and so they’ll try and manage some of those patients [by moving them out of the ICU] and those [other] rooms will get flooded and there will be a decrease in the number of staff, and quality of patient care will also suffer as people are discharged perhaps earlier than they should be, perhaps people are turned away from the emergency room because there just isn’t enough care available, and people will be encouraged as much as they possibly can to care for themselves at home.”

In other words, a mass casualty comparable to an earthquake or terrorist attack, albeit in slow motion.

“People really need to become compulsive about masking, social distancing and stopping gatherings,” added Coren. “But we’re still going to have to deal with the rest of California.”

Dr. Coren did not speculate on what this dire situation will translate to in terms of reimposing lockdowns and curfews and business closures. But if he’s right about the growth of cases between now and whenver the vaccines kick in, such circumstances may force Mendo and the rest of the state to bring back the kinds of restrictions that were imposed last spring — and all the ripple effects that go with it.

Dr. Coren also mentioned Mendo’s growing but unquantified contingent of people who will be reluctant to take the covid vaccine, on top of the dangerously large, pre-existing free-floating antivaxxers. The greater the reluctance, the longer and larger the mass casualty event will last — along the collateral economic damage that comes with it.

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A circa 1960 photograph taken by Ansel Adams, entitled "Near Elk - Northern California Coast," was sold by Sotheby's for almost $14,000, as one of 123 photographs which comprised a much larger collection known as: "A Grand Vision: The David H. Arrington Collection of Ansel Adams.

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Our new Abandoned Vehicle Abatement contract was approved by the Board of Supervisors yesterday. We will remove abandoned unoccupied vehicles as soon as we can. There is a backlog from our previous contractor going out of business.

Approval of Agreement with All In One Automotive Repair & Towing (AIO), in the Amount of $625,000, for Abandoned Vehicle Tow and Disposal Services in the Unincorporated Area of Mendocino County, Beginning on December 15, 2020, and Expiring on June 30, 2023

First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Mendocino County

Mendocino has received its first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines; 975 Pfizer doses will be allocated per CDC and CDPH prioritization schedules: health care workers, transporting first responders, residents at skilled nursing facilities, phases continued as additional supplies arrive.

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Coyote Valley, 1915
Old Coyote Valley

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107 YEARS AGO, DECEMBER 10, 1913 — A masked highwayman made an unsuccessful attempt to hold up the evening train from Willits on the CWR&N Co.’s line two miles east of town Monday morning. A short distance west of the tunnel on the Pudding Creek side, the train stopped to let off a number of bridge hands who live up on the hill. It was just getting underway again when a masked man suddenly made his appearance on the track a short distance ahead of the locomotive. He first leveled a double-barreled shot gun on engineer Fred Gorensen later shifting his aim to Fireman Johnny Doyle. Neither of the two train hands made any attempt to check the speed of the train, however, and as this act became evident to Mr. Highwayman, he evidently got cold feet for he took to the brush. Sheriff Byrnes was immediately notified, arriving in town on quick time, he, accompanied by Constable Bert Johnson and Deputy Sheriff Ward Ries, have been scrounging the country since that time but as yet no arrests have been made.

A consignment of 500,000 feet of rough clear redwood lumber was shipped by the Union Lumber Company from this port during the week to Fields Landing, Humboldt County, and loaded on the tramp steamer “Christian Bros.” scheduled to sail for Japan. The lumber was taken to the northern port by the steamers National City and Noyo, sailing respectively last Wednesday and Thursday. William Morris and O. R. Johnson went up on the boats and attended the necessary business. The National City returned this port Sunday and reported a successful trip. Messrs. Johnson and Morris came back on her.

(Fort Bragg Advocate)

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KEEP IT CLASSY, DEMOCRATS: The Presidential Inaugural Committee for Joe Biden's festivities is asking donors for $500,000 to $1 million for events that are mostly virtual, calling it “preferential access.”

MEANWHILE, Trump's doing a Queeg in the White House, muttering about betrayals and plots, and threatening not to vacate on January 20th. Outside the bubble where America lives, more and more people are out of work and facing eviction without a continuation of the still-not-declared moratorium on house-less-ness. And right here in our rural paradise half our population of 90,000 people depend on public aid to get by — just barely.

Katie Smith

DA EYSTER is justly angry about Ten Mile Court's Judge Clay Brennan's inexplicably soft sentence for Katie Rhiannon Smith, the 35-year-old Caspar woman who took her dog out into the East Caspar woods and shot him, shot him numerous times without killing him. Thunder the Wonder Dog, a German Shepherd, somehow survived for nearly two weeks until rescued by Samaritans. The DA's office put a lot of work into this case, appropriately enough given its egregiousness, and Probation recommended jail time for Ms. Smith. Then Brennan tossed it, declared the felony animal abuse charge basically waived, and even suggested that Ms. Smith do some community service at the Humane Society. An added mystery here is how Ms. Smith, who claims to rake in $11,000 a month (!) got a public defender defense, who must now be regarded as Mendo's reincarnation of Clarence Darrow for getting his client off.

TEN MILE COURT has always been presided over by, ahem, odd judges. Judge Heeb, back before criminals burned down the courthouse itself and, this being Mendo went unprosecuted, fell in love with a young defendant, sending the lad time and again out the courthouse door with a free pass to continue committing felonies. Heeb was succeeded by Judge Lehan, a flasher nude beneath his robes, much to the ongoing disgust of a court clerk who, when she complained, found herself transferred to Willits. An "investigation" by the local judicial council, or whatever it calls its cover-up self, and presided over at the time by Judge Brown, brought Lehan over from Ten Mile to work out of the Ukiah courthouse for flasher purgatory then sent him back to Fort Bragg with his fat pay and benefits intact. This guy, Brennan, was magically inserted into his Mendo job by his politically connected mom, a Bay Area federal magistrate, although he was, as a stranger to Mendo, elected here. Mendo's legal community pulls a lotta fast ones on us unsuspecting rubes.

WILLIE BROWN famously warned against messing with the anthromorphs. Quoting from memory: “The animal people can turn out a mob faster by far than any other interest group,” he said. “You do something they don't like and the next thing you know you're looking at 500 old ladies and their pomeranians glaring at you.”

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Chatting with another geezer the other day, he mentioned that he felt menaced by a nest of tweekers who lived at the end of his road. He said he was sure they'd stolen stuff out of his barn. “Now I have a gun,” he said, “first gun I've had since I mustered out of the Army.” This particular anxiety was unknown in Mendocino County prior to 1970.

DESPITE ALL that's come at us in 2020, Boonville, and the Anderson Valley, looks downright jolly at night. Christmas lights everywhere, and some so distant from the Valley floor that their optimistic reds, whites and blues seem somehow doubly hopeful. “Things are looking up,” said Micawber. “They always are.”

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by Austin Murphy

Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster is condemning as “shocking” and a “travesty of justice” a judge’s decision this week that will result in no jail time for a Caspar woman convicted of felony animal cruelty after shooting her dog on a remote logging road last year in a botched attempt to kill it.

Though grievously wounded, the German shepherd escaped, then survived for a week in the woods before being rescued, nursed back to health and placed in a new home.

The saga of Thunder the Wonder Dog and prosecution of his former owner, Katie Rhiannon Smith, have drawn international attention. And the sentence handed down for Smith on Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan has only increased that scrutiny, fueled in part by the outrage emanating from the District Attorney’s Office.

Eyster described the sentence as a miscarriage of justice, said it had squandered the time and efforts of his prosecutors, and sent a message to animal abusers that they will not be punished.

“Deterrent? That word and this result should not be mentioned in the same sentence,” he said in an interview. A five-page press release put out by his office after the hearing was headlined “Christmas Arrives Early For Dog Shooter.”

Smith had pleaded no contest to the felony charge and faced up to 36 months behind bars — the maximum under the law, and the term recommended by a county probation officer as part of Wednesday’s court hearing in Fort Bragg. The prosecutor from Eyster’s office, Deputy District Attorney Josh Rosenfeld, sought the same punishment, and dozens of emails read out loud in court by Brennan had sought a stiff sentence.

So it was a surprise, Eyster said, when Brennan invited the defendant to make a motion to have her felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Smith’s attorney, public defender Frank McGowan, immediately accepted the offer — over Rosenfeld’s vehement objections.

The sentence Brennan imposed moments later gave Smith three years of unsupervised probation — which could be reduced to a single year in January under a new law then taking effect. Smith will serve no jail time, and while she must attend counseling, and serve 500 hours of community service, Brennan denied prosecutors’ request that she be prohibited from owning animals during her probation.

Eyster’s office noted that an appeal of the sentence was underway.

“It is tough to find justice for victims and the community when there are two defense attorneys in the courtroom — one sitting at counsel table and one wearing a black robe,” the district attorney said in the lengthy written statement. “Today’s actions by the coast judge diminish ongoing community and law enforcement efforts to hold animal abusers accountable for their crimes. What kind of message does this send? Not a good one.”

Hundreds of commenters came to the same conclusion in a post about the ruling on the District Attorney Office’s Facebook page.

But McGowan, the public defender in the case, also took to social media, where he said Eyster’s office had overreached in its prosecution of Smith, contending that the Penal Code section under which she was charged “has never before been used to prosecute a person for attempting to euthanize their dog.”

“The DA grossly overcharged this case. Judge Brennan brought this case back to where it should have been from the start,” he wrote on Facebook. He did not respond to an interview request.

Eyster, in the interview Thursday, said that previous district attorneys have, in fact, leveled the same sort of felony animal cruelty charges as his office did in Smith’s case.

If Brennan believed Smith’s actions didn’t constitute a felony, said Eyster, the judge should have said so during her preliminary hearing in October. Because he didn’t, prosecutors spent weeks preparing for a trial. The way Brennan handled the case, said Eyster, “he’s wasted an incredible amount of resources.”

Brennan and Eyster clashed publicly seven years ago over a one-of-its kind program that Eyster’s office offered to marijuana defendants to reduce their criminal charges in exchange for sizable restitution payments.

Though it winnowed court backlogs and netted millions of dollars for the county, the program was controversial, attracting scrutiny from both the county’s civil grand jury and federal investigators, who in a 2013 issued a subpoena to the county for related records.

In a court hearing the same year for an accused marijuana grower, Brennan slammed the program as “extortion of defendants.”

Eyster admitted Thursday that tension has long existed between him and the Fort Bragg-based judge, elected to the bench in 2006. The son of a federal magistrate judge, he had worked as a lawyer in private practice and before that as both a deputy district attorney and a public defender.

Eyster said he was grateful that Brennan’s assignments are limited to the county’s Ten Mile jurisdiction based on the coast.

“That way he can do less damage,” he said.

Thunder’s new owner had been tracking the case. She called Brennan’s sentence “beyond disappointing, beyond devastating.”

“You prepare yourself that the case may not go the way you want it to,” said Sheryl, a retiree in Northern California who took custody of Thunder after his recuperation with the Fort Bragg woman who found him, Davina Liberty, who coined his catchy handle.

Davina Liberty with Thunder, who she rescued after finding the 7-year-old German shepherd emaciated and injured from gunshot wounds, on Jan. 15. Thunder has since been rehabilitated and placed with a retiree in Northern California. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Due to the notoriety of the case, Sheryl prefers to give only her first name. “I was not prepared for absolutely nothing,” she said of the sentence.

Smith, she pointed out, “is still allowed to own dogs, and she doesn’t have to pay any restitution. I bawled my eyes out. I was in complete shock.”

Like many others, Sheryl also was incredulous that Brennan suggested Smith serve her community service hours by working with the volunteers at the Mendocino Coast Humane Society.

Judy Martin, director of the nonprofit, dismissed the idea out of hand. “We’ve never accepted animal abusers or violent offenders,” she said. “That’s always been our policy.”

Brennan spent the bulk of Wednesday’s hearing reading dozens of letters from people weighing in on the case — the vast majority of them expressing outrage at Smith’s actions. In the end, the judge resisted the tide of public opinion and the recommendations of a probation officer and the prosecution.

Among those outraged by the outcome, there was a shared question: If the crime that Smith committed was equal to the charge she did not contest, why doesn’t she face equivalent punishment?

“The judge is supposed to be impartial,” said Sheryl, “and I don’t feel he was impartial at all.”

Widowed in the last year, Sheryl said her new family member is doing well. “He is thriving, he is playful. We are best buddies,” she said.

Thunder does not bite, beg, chew furniture, or get into the trash. Nor, in the six months they’ve lived together, has he had “an accident,” reported Sheryl, who recently marked his ninth birthday serving him tri tip “with a candle in the middle.”

He enjoys “cow-spotting” — her name for their outings in the car. Thunder sits in the back seat, window down, and is highly excited by the sight of bovines.

“He’s at my feet right now,” said Sheryl on Thursday afternoon. “He is a happy, happy boy.”

“I don’t want any of this to have happened to him. But it did, and I’m grateful I can give him his best life.”

(courtesy The Press Democrat)

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SUPERVISOR McCOWEN on the dog torturer: Usually I post about issues before the Board of Supervisors. I'm making an exception here because of the criminal disregard for justice displayed by the judge in this case. This is a case of an individual starving her dog then attempting to shoot it to death. The dog was victimized again when the judge absolved the perpetrator of any meaningful consequences.

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Orr Springs Road, 1910s

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WHEN I WORKED ON THE MOVIE, "Saving Private Ryan" where we re-created the Normandy Landing using Special Effects, I did some research and came across another interesting fact related to the real invasion itself.

On June 6th 1944 150,000 men and one woman hit the beaches of Normandy. That woman was Martha Gellhorn, a journalist and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway. She was going to be a credentialed reporter for Collier's Weekly until Hemingway found out and told Collier's he would report for them, so due to his fame he got her credential of which there was only one.

On June 5, 1944, however, journalist Martha Gellhorn hid herself in the bathroom of a hospital ship — just one of the 5,000 vessels set to sail across the English Channel with some of the estimated 150 to 160 thousand men and 30 thousand vehicles headed to Normandy. "Where I want to be, boy, is where it is all blowing up," Martha is quoted as saying. 

By dawn on June 6, better known as D-Day, her hospital vessel landing craft was on the beach of France, shortly before the invasions began. By nightfall on June 6, 1944, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded. More than 100,000 others — including that one female stowaway — had survived the landing. Now that is guts. Hemingway and all the other male reporters saw the landing thru binoculars from far away.

(Bill Kimberlin)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 17, 2020

Allred, Esquibel, Goyette, Gulledge

DAVID ALLRED, Marysville/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, paraphernalia, parole violation.

RODOLFO ESQUIBEL-FIGUEROA, Clearlake/Piercy. DUI causing bodily injury. 

VINCENT GOYETTE-SPALLIERO, Fort Bragg. Battery with serious injury.

KEVIN GULLEDGE, Redwood Valley. DUI.

Hill, Hoaglen, Lamoureux

MATTHEW HILL, Branscomb. Vandalism, paraphernalia, evasion.

SYLVIA HOAGLEN, Covelo. DUI, paraphernalia. 

LEVI LAMOUREUX, Laytonville. Parapherlia, ammo possession by prohibited person, county parole violation, probation revocation.

McKee, Murphy, Nabors

ROBERT MCKEE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

WESLEY MURPHY, Laytonville. Failure to appear.

JOSHUA NABORS, Redwood Valley. DUI.

Nelson, Pearson, Ramirez

MANDEE NELSON, Ukiah. Grand theft, elder abuse resulting in death or great bodily harm, extortion, burglary, stolen property, controlled substance.

ADAM PEARSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance.

GLORIA RAMIREZ, Manchester. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily harm, DUI with priors, controlled substance, criminal threats, suspended license, resisting. 

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by David Bacon

Newly elected Oakland City Council member Carroll Fife speaks to a rally in Oakland, calls for cancelling rents. Aja, the daughter of Dominique Walker, stands beside her.

Rent strikes have spread across the country with the spread of the coronavirus. In the pandemic's first months, 400 New York City families stopped paying rent in buildings with over 1,500 rental units. In May, rent strikes involving 200,000 tenants spread to Philadelphia and elsewhere. Washington, D.C., in September saw tenant unions spring up in strikes at the Tivoli Gardens Apartments and the Woodner, as well as Southern Towers in nearby Alexandria.

Rent strikes had a history as a resistance tactic before the pandemic hit. Cleveland tenants settled a rent strike in February, after 38 families forced concessions on the landlord of the 348-unit Vue Apartments in Beachwood. San Francisco had a famous rent strike that went on for three years at the Midtown Park Apartments, ending in 2017.

But with the pandemic, rent strikes have become a widespread response to brutal economic pressure. According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, 16.5 million families who rent housing lost income when the crisis began. Its October report states, "Nearly 50 percent of households in California have lost employment income since March of 2020, and one in five households (20.7 percent) indicated that they have no or only slight confidence that they have the ability to pay their mortgage or rent next month."

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 24.6 percent of apartment households were not paying rent as of December 6. But even before the pandemic, 16.8 percent had not paid their rent in a survey made a year earlier. A website set up by Bay Area tenant activists, Bay Area Rent Strike, notes that 78 percent of the people in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck. The group urges people who can't pay to act collectively - to "work together to prevent eviction and foreclosure." It adds: "We must demand an immediate suspension of rent and mortgage payments for everyone. And if this demand is not met, we must refuse to pay our rents and our mortgages, together."

Cancelling rents was the demand that spread across the country with the strikes. In April, Cea Weaver, organizer for New York's Housing Justice for All, said cancelling rent "is the demand of the rent strike." In Los Angeles, Larry Gross, director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, says the city is full of rent strikes pushing for rent and mortgage forgiveness. Voicing that demand, the LA Tenants Union grew from 400 to 2,000 members in 2020.

Yet, despite LA's strong tenant protections against eviction, enacted at the beginning of the crisis with no end date, the housing battle continues. "People occupying the CalTrans housing were forcefully removed," Gross charged in an email interview. "That was fashioned after the Oakland mothers' effort." In March, housing activists occupied homes purchased by CalTrans which the agency intended to demolish for a freeway, but then kept vacant for years. On November 26, Highway Patrol in riot gear took them out and arrested many.

Los Angeles activists were inspired by Moms 4 Housing, a collective of homeless and marginally housed mothers who occupied a vacant Oakland home in 2019 and forced the city to find financing for its purchase, igniting a wave of housing activism. Carroll Fife, a Moms 4 Housing member, was elected to the Oakland City Council in large part as a consequence. On December 5, she spoke to a rally organized by several tenants' unions, just prior to a caravan to the buildings where rent strikes are taking place.


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Final Point Arena Testing Update

This is hopefully the final update on testing in Point Arena.

Testing will be at 9:30am Friday at Point Arena Veteran's Building/City Hall.

People wishing to be tested need to register at

Once registered you will receive a client number.

You will need that client number in order to be tested so bring it with you.

Appointments for testing are apparently full but they will have first come-first serve testing starting at 9:30am.

Only those with a client number will be tested. There will be no on-site registration.

There are only 85 tests total so they cannot guarantee everyone who comes without an appointment will be tested.

In the future, testing will be first come-first serve but a client number will be required.

Future testing information will be available in the near future.

Stay safe,

Paul Andersen, Deputy City Manager, City of Point Arena

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SF EXAMINER, Thursday, Dec. 17:

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will need to find as much as $130 million more to complete construction on the troubled Central Subway project, money it doesn’t have to spare amidst an ongoing budget crisis that threatens to cripple Muni’s workforce and service long-term. An ambitious project that seeks to extend the underground Muni Metro T Third Line from the Fourth Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown and provide a direct link between downtown and some of The City’s most congested areas, the Central Subway has become a budgetary runaway train with a final tally estimated to be roughly 15 percent over its $1.6 billion budget.

Ed note: Two miles of subway for $2 billion a mile.

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Job opportunity

We have a job opening at Mendocino Solar Service. Please share with qualified persons.

Thank you,

Maggie Watson and Bruce Erickson, Owners of Mendocino Solar Service

Installer/Electrician Job Opening

Lead Installer Responsibilities and Requirements


  • On-site lead of 2- or 3-person installation team for residential and small commercial photovoltaic systems;
  • Ensure high-quality installations, excellent customer relations, positive inspection outcomes with excellent AHJ relations; oversee jobsite safety;
  • Responsibility for pre-job planning including material ordering, equipment rental, scheduling, and customer communications as needed; also required job documentation and record-keeping;
  • Implement commissioning and troubleshooting of system internet monitoring across various platforms;
  • Service calls for existing systems including off-grid and battery systems, and monitoring issues;
  • Electrical licensing or certification and/or C-46 license highly desired

Specific Requirements:

  • Positive crew leadership skills
  • Solid installation experience, including roof-mount and ground-mount systems; array layout, watertight mounting and flashing installation, AC and DC wire management, conduit bending and wire pulling, installation of main and subpanels, circuit breakers and junction boxes, etc; also trenching and augering, concrete pouring, rack assembly for ground mounts.
  • familiarity with Electrical and Building Codes;
  • good driving record; background check required;
  • professional appearance and demeanor;
  • documentation skills, electronic and hand-written;
  • ability to regularly lift 50 lbs, work safely on steep roofs and in crawl spaces, work in weather and sun;

Other desired skills:

  • Familiarity with off-grid and grid-tie-with-battery systems;
  • Ability to work with Energy Toolbase, Solar Design Tool, Google Sketchup or equivalents, ability to produce scale drawings, single-line drawings, and permit plan sets; Interest in and ability to read and digest equipment and manufacturer technical documentation;
  • Continuing interest and education in developing technologies and vendors, including lithium-ion batteries and integrated storage/inverter systems;


  • Job is on payroll, hourly. $30 to $35 to start, DOE

Maggie Watson <>, Fort Ross

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Hello you beautiful Earth Beings,

Join us in ritual to call in Spirit and Light with song and candle light. 4:30 on the Solstice, December 21st. Meet up at the bluffs across from Gallery Books on Main (at the picnic tables). We will weave our way through town singing Holiday carols, safely & socially distanced. The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn close in at this time, with the young moon pointing it's way to the planets as they form what many are calling "The Christmas Star of 2020". We will end in the same place we began, where there will be a communal altar for you to leave your candles and other offerings if you wish (compostable offerings only please, as they will be buried or burned). Please observe physical distancing the ENTIRE time, so that we only spread Holiday cheer!

Here's the details...

1. Of most importance, you MUST physically distance yourself by a minimum of 20 feet from others not in your household or "pod". Do not show up if you are having any symptoms. Please wear a mask at any moment you come closer than 20 ft to anyone outside of your "pod".

2. Please pick up the song sheets ahead of time, starting December 17th, at either Loot & Lore at 611 Albion St (in the Watertower Building) or at Owl's Eye in the Beacon Building by the post office.

3. Bring your candles. You may also purchase candles at either of the above locations. (Support your local Witch Shop!)

4. As we will be keeping a minimum of 20 ft apart, each pod will sing a song at one house or business, and then move on down to the next, as we weave our way through The Village.

5. End at the altar on the bluffs by 6pm.

Let's all take this time to envision and manifest how we wish our new world to be. It's a moment of potent magick and the power of collective consciousness can transform the world.

Please feel free to share this email by forwarding it, or copy and paste, but please be safe when attending and make sure others know the guidelines for safety as well.

Should you have any questions, suggestions, etc please call or email Cynthia at 530-575-8846 or

Yule Blessings and Love,

Cynthia Levesque

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Beach Steps, Coast

* * *


As California’s wildfire crisis exploded, the state assigned 30 officers to follow a suspected arsonist in Lake County and blend into his community. Could they thwart disaster?

* * *


About 5 years ago my company opened a small web printing plant in a small city west of here, asked me if I’d work out there till it got going, I said sure. One of the guys we hired was a local hick (like I am) I noticed he limped around when he walked. He was in his 30s, one day I asked him what the hell is wrong with your leg? He told me got shot in the knee with a .22. Shot in the knee? Yes, shot in the knee, then he went on to tell me a long story of madness, deception, betrayal and bloodshed. Turns out he had been married, the marriage wasn’t going too well, and he met a pretty young thing on the computer who was looking for a man just like him. One day he told his wife he was going out and never went back, instead making trail for the babe, who lived in West Virginia. That should have been a warning right there. Surprise, she was a middle aged woman with 5 kids who lived in a trailer. Having burned his bridges he ended up staying, for a while. He even got a job there, fabricating aluminum parts for a mobile home manufacturer. The honeymoon didn’t last long to say the least; there were fights, and during one of the fights she shot him in the knee with the .22 pistol, which ended the West Va. romantic interlude. He was gone about 2 and 1/2 months apparently, needless to say his wife didn’t take him back and he went to his mother’s house, where he was living when he came to work for us. He related the story in a matter of fact way, with no embarrassment on his part at all. A lot of other stuff happened too, but getting shot in the knee was the high point. It was a good story, and I congratulated him on it.

* * *


The architecture of the modern web poses grave threats to humanity. It’s not too late to save ourselves.

* * *

Mill Valley Flood, 1955

* * *


Mr. Kramer,

No one is talking about old-style Soviet socialism. We're talking about democratic socialism. Please take note. Thank you.

Name withheld


* * *


Dear AVA:

Hush! Hush! Hush!
Words are useless in our age.
Cliches, Cartoons, superlatives.
Adverbs, adjectives that mean to sell,
Nouns in ballroom gowns.

We have used up our words
On the trivial. How can you say
I love you with meaning?

We cannot dance together.
Biology prohibits it.

We shout our histories
through masks.

We send each other cartoons
Of sentimentality.

As Billie Holliday told us:
Hush now! Don't explain!

But here we are.
Cheated upon but needed.

— Dave McCain, San Francisco

* * *

Irish Fishermen, 1910

* * *



I bought a December 1998 issue of Playboy magazine at an antique/collectibles shop in downtown Petaluma. There was this interesting tidbit in the "raw data" section: "In 1968 percentage of college freshmen who said the purpose of higher education is to form a meaningful philosophy of life: 83. Percentage of freshman in 1997 who felt this way: 41. In 1968 percentage of freshmen who said that a college education would enable them to have financial security: 41. Percentage of freshman in 1997 who said the point of college is to be 'financially well off': 75."

My interpretation: Looks like the values of the 60s counterculture did not have a long lasting impact on American society.

Keitih Bramstedt

San Anselmo

* * *

* * *


Letter to the Editor:

Let's show that we care — not.

On the evening news we were told that the Marin School District brain-trust/seated board membership put out new revelations/blasts of ignorance: "We are considering putting the new Sir Francis Drake high school name change up for public vote" — "perhaps."

Yeah, right. You didn't put it up for vote to remove it. Why?

What? Just what if a public vote was allowed and the vast majority of voters (former graduates) wanted Sir Francis Drake High School back in harness. My, my! That would surely "throw a cat in the pigeon coop."

Knowing the goings-on of big business and government as it exists today, we the people will never know the truth (outcome) of actual vote results. Sad state of reality! It's hard to imagine what flimflam excuse the utopian braindead could muster up.

Boy oh boy, if that doesn't take the rag off the bush. What a bunch of unadulterated crap!

In any event I'm hanging on to Manila folders.

One must wonder if these mentally bankrupt people had considered a time and place for book and document burnings. Will gas accelerant be allowed with my grade school sweater?

Can this travesty be accomplished without a public vote?

The fuhrer would be proud. How did that nasty book burning workout for that brain trust? Parallelism? You bet! Just take another look at our current direction. Pissed off? I cannot express the level at your "excusation" that's burning inside along with hundreds of others Sir Francis Drake disgruntled grads. I overflow with anguish and helplessness that just will not go away. Get over it? I think not!

Gram says, "Those poor children who are pushing the Drake High name change must have been dropped on their heads after falling off the turnip truck. I will make up a special batch of peanut butter cookies for those mentally challenged board members. Perhaps with a jag Pa's special cold medicine. May not solve their problem, but they won't give a damn! Not that they do."

Feed the hogs Gran. Change Gramps's diaper. I sense a need for change and that ain't Sir Francis Drake high school's name. I'll roll that new batch.

Love you Gran!

God bless our American president, special peanut butter cookies, Jerry Philbrick.

Old and Exceedingly Angry


* * *

* * *

NEW DERIVATIVES MARKET IN CALIFORNIA WATER: Disaster Natural Resources Capitalism at Work

by Bill Hatch

I attended a rain dance 40 years ago in the Southwest. At the end of the 6-hour ceremony, it rained. My final memory of the event was a small, elderly lady chasing an immense clown, who had ritually molested her in the ceremony, beating him about the head and shoulders with an umbrella. The next day the clown showed me the welts and bruises she left on him. Regardless, the dancing, drumming, and sanctified elder-lady groping had produced the desired result, more water. Some of those clouds sailing over the plateau had heard the call, lingered, and shared some of their precious cargo with needy, righteous folks below.

It’s not an experience any farmer from the drought plagued West is likely to forget. And so, decades later, the rain dance surfaced in my memory when I read that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (now the CME Group) had opened up a futures market in California water (Nasdaq Veles California Water Index [NQH2O]) last week.

One can imagine derivative tranches composed of portions of irrigation-district allotments of riparian water, some private well water, water from the odd ephemeral creek, pre-1914 rights water, added to a slice or two of federal bureau water and some of that State Water Project water that has remained, as some say, “notional.”

Of course, we here in the San Joaquin Valley, which without millions of acre feet of irrigation water would dry up in a dusty cough in one season, are familiar with the derivative-market deal from our experience with real estate-mortgage tranches, derivatives described by Warren Buffett 20 years ago as “weapons of mass destruction.” And many a former homeowner, now a renter without savings and living on the Social Security check, would agree. That’s the view of ordinary folks. But, according to the Public Trust Doctrine, enshrined in California water law, at least surface water is held in trust by the state and nation for the use and enjoyment of all the people, not just agribusiness or the kinds of water-management distortions that would arise as the result of a derivative market in an “asset” no one ought to be allowed to speculate on. And groundwater is undergoing a very imperfect process of regulation of its own, too little too late but at least it saves the faces of the regulatory agencies involved.

But, for Big Shots, those large enough to rank a numbered and colored ball on the great Thomas Hobbes Memorial Pool Table of Agribusiness, where those balls are constantly crashing into one another over the heads of ordinary folk, now that they’ve rigged the Farm Bills to where they cannot lose however badly they farm and little water gets delivered, playing the futures market in bundles of water of various dubious provenances might be better than Poker Night at the Country Club. The next Farm Bill will probably have a feature that protects agriculture from any harm arising from water derivatives and the inevitably following collateralized debt obligations that created such joy in the mortgage markets.

But will it make another more water?

It might stimulate renewed interest in putting new dams in rivers that already have dams so that less water will escape – free, with some Salmon smolts and Steelhead fry – into the ocean. Maybe the Chicago derivative traders can figure away to monetize that water, too, and call it the Revolutionary Green Futures Market, so that not one drop of fresh water, produced from ice, snow, sleet, rain, or from deep, deeper and much deeper in the earth, will go unwagered upon into the Bounding Main.

And how about a market devoted to subsidence futures, predictions of how far what land where sinks over a season? What about a Selenium Index derivative, estimating the increase in poisonous concentration per acre-foot? Or a Migratory Water Fowl Index, betting on the rate of decline per season of water fowl on the Pacific Flyway? And while we are at it, why couldn’t they develop a futures market based on the state’s Cancer Registry?

The San Joaquin Valley, which can be regarded along with arid urban Southern California, as the table on which this game is to be played, has always rested on two absolute poles: every inch of farmland is for sale; and water runs uphill to money. This derivative market, far from “rationalizing” water distribution in the state, is going to disturb the magnetic field that is the Prime Mover and Original Cause of all economic activity in our region. How are you going to determine the price of an acre of “prime” farm land, i.e. irrigated farm land, if some commodity trader in Chicago or New York is using the precious acre-feet required to irrigate those almonds in some elaborate “play” that flops and suddenly our almond farmer doesn’t get his water because nobody knows who might have owned it or had the right to use it when and where anyway; but the only thing for certain is that somebody didn’t pay his derivative contract on time so … Maybe, the farmer’s irrigation district got a better deal selling it to Los Angeles than to him, so off it went and the farmer can’t get the water he needs when he needs it at any price. But no, he can get it from some well owner west of Oroville for $200/acre-foot if he can wheel it through Marysville down to the Delta, through the Delta-Mendota and maybe part of the San Luis canals. But, of course, it isn’t really the well water from west of Oroville at all, but off of some westside sedge farm that has some federal water for sale at $500 an acre-foot.

When Acme, ABC, and XYZ hedge funds take big plunges into the California water-derivative market while federal and state resource-regulation agencies are still trying to do their job, for example, continuing to make some water available for the environment, then Acme and its competitors are going to get together, hire themselves lobbyists and buy chunks of local members of Congress, who are going to apply even more pressure than is already applied by agribusiness on these agencies to perform one great task: Non-enforcement of state and federal environmental laws and regulations. Not that any old real estate developer in the state can’t already buy non-enforcement of any environmental law or regulation, sometimes just for the asking, if he knows how to ask right.

And so, the Invisible Pool Cue of the Free Market will scatter the precariously racked balls in all directions at once and a new game will develop, even more remote from the actual work of growing food and fiber.

However, it won’t make it rain, more water, or any prosperity for ordinary people in the San Joaquin Valley.

(Bill Hatch lives in the Central Valley in California. He is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco. He can be reached at:

* * *

India, 1900

* * *


by Christopher Tayler

I used to have a pet theory – outlined in the LRB in 2007 – to explain why John le Carré’s later stuff didn’t have, as I saw it, the lightning-in-a-bottle quality of the novels he wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. He had been wrongfooted by social change. More specifically, the declining pay and prestige of most kinds of public service meant that intelligence bureaucracies could no longer serve in the same way as a microcosm of the dark heart of the British establishment. Plummy chaps who, pre-Thatcher, would have made their way from prep schools, public schools and Oxbridge to the higher reaches of the BBC, the Civil Service or MI6 – the chaps whose speech and behavior le Carré had observed with an outsider-insider’s intentness when he was starting out – were overwhelmingly concentrated now in financial services and commercial law.

And no one spoke the way his characters did any more. In 2007 there had been a Labour government for ten years. “Blairite wannabe-classless slur,” as le Carré put it, was the language of power. Even James Bond, as played by Daniel Craig, was speaking a slimmed-down RP. The spy chiefs and senior civil servants who appeared on the news were managerial types without detectable donnish mannerisms. Journalists presented themselves as slick professionals. Jerry Westerby, the shambling upper-class hack who speaks a non-PC schoolboy pidgin in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, may or may not have been a recognizable caricature in the 1970s, but either way he belonged to an extinct social species. That a joke figure like Boris Johnson could win fame with a similar act only underscored the point.

Above all, it seemed to me, romantic nationalism, which le Carré’s characters were still motivated by, just wasn’t much of a thing in the contemporary UK. So it made sense that I preferred the early novels, where I had more confidence in his depictions of a world that had mostly vanished before I was born. Perhaps a problem with the later novels was the anachronistic persistence of this pre-EU membership, pre-decimal world: a world in which power was wielded by men with extraordinary vowel sounds who valued low-grade verbal wit over technical expertise; and the general population could be mobilized around unfriendly views on foreigners; and there were hard borders everywhere; and British people were nostalgic about the Second World War rather than, say, the Beatles. 

Le Carré, whose early novels were part of the cultural convulsion that destroyed that world, should have known better. Or so it seemed to me in 2007.

My pet theory hasn’t worn very well. David Cameron shot some of it down. Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg did the rest. And perhaps it was always a rationalization of the feeling you have in your twenties and thirties that understanding your own cohort’s codes and assumptions means you understand the world in general better than your elders do. Now it’s too late for me to apologize to le Carré, but on Monday I re-read The Looking Glass War (1965) and found that he was a good deal more prescient than I was.

That novel is about a group of aging, dysfunctional fantasists, obsessed with the glories of the Second World War, who launch a doomed operation against a European target on the basis of misunderstandings, wishful thinking and internal political squabbles. Everybody dies or comes to a sudden chilling realization that, of the operation’s two nominal leaders, one is completely detached from reality, and the other is a clever manipulator – though not as clever as he thinks he is – whose studied eccentricity conceals a frightening inner emptiness. Their target is a non-existent East German rocket site rather than access to the Single Market, but otherwise it’s a Cold War classic that also stands up as a state-of-the-nation novel in December 2020.

(London Review of Books)

* * *

Martha Gellhorn with US troops in Cassino, Italy/February 1944.


  1. Brian December 18, 2020

    Oh bother, Mr. Eyster. While I think it is truly wonderful all of the animal lovers at the courthouse, and it is amazing the shift in attitudes that has occurred where our little dogs and cats and other pets, who most of us treat as family, are also regarded as such by the district attorney and the people at probation. That being said. There’s a reason why in our system of justice we do not allow the District Attorney’s office or the cops at probation to adjudicate sentences. Perhaps you’re district attorney in the wrong country? What you have is an opinion, at this point. The judge has spoken. And your flip reply calling him a defense counsel when he is called “your honor” for a reason in our community is unprofessional. Grow up.

    • Marmon December 18, 2020

      Thanks to social media and other so called news outlets, Judge Brennan is being cancelled, and so is the dog shooter.


    • Bruce McEwen December 18, 2020

      Oh Brother Who Art Thou?
      You sound like a defense attorney.
      That being said, let us keep in mind that judges are proscribed by law from standing up for themselves, a legality that has not escaped the attention of our beloved DA, C. David Eyster. And you, Brian, may also have apprehended this particular nuance; that is that the DA can hire a flak a hack or a shill to write up his side of the story, and the poor old judge has his gob stopped with the ethical sock of the law, his lips sutured with statutes, his head and hands in the stock of precedents, and set up as a laughingstock for the readership of the mighty AVA.

      • Mark Scaramella December 18, 2020

        Right. But that wouldn’t stop Ms. Smith or her attorney from writing their perspective on the case and why they think justice was served.

        • Bruce McEwen December 18, 2020

          The poor creature, Ms. Smith, having spent all her disposable income on a public defender, probably can’t afford to hire a PR flack to write her side of the case… Perhaps this “Brian” (who has so gallantly stepped forward would like to donate a little ink in Ms. Smith’s defense?

          Does the Office of the Public Defender have discretionary county funds to hire a hack comparable to the Jaguar-driving former Press Democrat editor, the fine fellow with an office in the DA’s suite, and a salary lavish enough to decorate it with wood ducks and fly-fishing artifacts; that is to say, by the largely ornamental Mike Ginella?

          • DA Dave December 29, 2020

            Bruce M., how are you? You’re awake again. Back to periodically paying attention to life and happenings in Mendocino County? Good for you. Hope the city life is treating you well.

            Unfortunately, your institutional Mendo knowledge has obviously dimmed and somehow fallen behind the times. For example, and using your reference to the used X-type Jag that Mike Geniella (note proper surname spelling) used to drive, that car has been gone for at least a couple of years. Surprised you didn’t know that. But I get it — it just doesn’t sound as hoity-toity when taking an undeserved shot at somebody to write that he actually drives a small used Ford.

            And, yes, Mike G.’s “lavish” part-time employment allowed him the opportunity to make time on a weekend to dig through stored boxes in his garage to locate a couple of old wooden ducks (never known to float) and some fishing gear (never known to have touched water, let alone seen a fish) to decorate with. I’m confident that if he had known you were such a fan of his interior design skills, he would have allowed you to take a souvenir or two for your office. He’s generous that way.

            Finally, Mike G. is anything but ornamental. Even during these dog days of the pandemic, his community knowledge and outreach remain sharp and current. While he’s not winning journalism awards like in his pre-retirement days, what awards he did receive writing for the Press Democrat (he wasn’t an editor – another thing I thought you knew) actually take up more room in his extra small office quarters than the quackers and gear that you seemingly covet. If you want to see what such high-level awards look like, I’m sure we can arrange a photo-op for you.

            Anyway, hope you and the missus had a wonderful Christmas. Let’s also hope for a much better New Year, one that brings the return of prosperity and good health for all.

  2. Stephen Dunlap December 18, 2020

    I am really enjoying the daily AVA reading I started this year. Is there some way to get copies of the old photos, primarily of the Noyo Harbor ? Thank you

  3. Betsy Cawn December 18, 2020

    The San Francisco Chronicle’s retrospective on the pursuit of our most famous arsonist documents the tragedy and its malformed author beautifully. As the third major conflagration in two years, at that point, the fire did not qualify for federal or state relief and so, families and caregivers and hard-core individualists rallied to the cause of what passes for “recovery” around here. Staunch and laudably “resilient” survivors and community collaborators pick up the pieces after the crisis responders are here and gone, and slowly but surely rebuild the continuum of human services that keep us all going in spite of unmitigated loss. I don’t know how some of our residents manage, day after day, disaster after disaster, but their courage and kindness is truly awe inspiring. At this point I’m guessing that easily half or more of us have been directly impacted by back-to-back years of megafires and departed former residents, setting back all the slow progress made in the fifteen years before the Valley Fire. And we know how much of our survival depends on those dedicated men and women at all levels of emergency response, whose very best efforts can be futile in catastrophic events.

    The compendium of reportage on the Clayton Fire alone — warranted by its malevolent instigator’s unfathomable mental deformation and the persistence of his captors — revives each vivid memory of the moments and days of the arsonist’s capture and trial and incarceration.

    The Methodist Church in Lower Lake was fully insured, and the reconstruction of their place of worship is assured. Habitat for Humanity lost only a few days of operation (they were quickly re-homed in the city of Clearlake, where they have continued their noble efforts ever since). The school campus escaped the worst threats of the Clayton Fire and opened its doors time and again to Red Cross operations in each year’s new disruption.

    Life goes on, somehow. The “recovery” center for the ages-ago Northridge earthquake was finally shut down only two years ago. What’s next?

  4. Harvey Reading December 18, 2020


    Maybe they won’t wear masks, so there may be fewer robber barons drawing breath in the country…if only!

  5. Harvey Reading December 18, 2020

    Love it!. Let the morons, including those in Wyoming, secede…and starve.

    Yesterday, while walking Diamond around the block, a dummy stopped his pickup to tell me what a fine looking walking companion I had with me. He asked if I hunted. I told him I’d quit hunting years ago, that, for one thing, it wasn’t cost effective. He said I better start again, “… ’cause things are gonna get crazy.” I replied that I already knew that things were gonna do so and resumed my walk, as he said, once again, “Nice looking dog,” to which I replied, “Thank you,” as I continued walking.

    Now, think about it. This guy thinks he can subsist on hunting (and fishing) to provide his and his family’s food. Multiply that by 600,000 other morons, and, voila, no more game animals to hunt (or catch) after a year, maybe two. And, as the game populations decline, a successful hunt becomes harder and harder. This is simply a small example of the stupidity, yes, stupidity, and ignorance, of the clowns who support the orange hog; who, indeed are so dumb that they would probably die for the fascist monster.

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