Warming | 2 New Cases | Trivial Zooming | Lemons Hiring | Line 3 | Abandoned Trailer | Rollover Fatality | Orator Amy | Watkins Book | Wildlife Friends | Last Unicorn | Supes Notes | Blame Greed | Getting Hotter | Grace Carpenter | Yesterday's Catch | 10% Weed | Ott's Diner | Elgin Baylor | Draft Noticers | Triple Murder | Blue Eyes | Unsafe Bounding | Literature | Lice Treatment | Elk 1974 | Intoxicated Rape | Comments | Troop Knitting | Liberal Hypocrite | Frazier's Left | Wokelisting | Trouble Brewing | Organic Hippies | Hunter Watching | Shadowland
AFTER A COLD START to the day, temperatures will rebound nicely as a pleasant, sunny and breezy day unfolds under building high pressure. A weak front may bring a few showers Wednesday night to Del Norte and Humboldt counties, but otherwise dry conditions are expected for the next week. (NWS)
2 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
AV VILLAGE GENERAL TRIVIA with the Coordinator and special guests!
Tuesday March 23rd, 4:30 to 5:30 PM
General Trivia with the AV Village Coordinator and have a little fun and learn some new useful facts?! I am always looking for new ideas - let me know if you would like to lead a round. Please RSVP with me so we can get an idea of attendance, thank you.
Same Zoom link & password for all AV Village Events: https://gmail.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cea1e601922fa82e47579cc80&id=8a4fec3e78&e=358077c1c9
Meeting ID: 434 337 6734
One tap mobile: +16699009128,,4343376734#,,,,,,0#,,490940# US (San Jose)
Dial by your location: +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
LEMONS PHILO MARKET is hiring for all positions and wage is dependent on experience. Stop by the market to fill out an application and the store manager, Matt, will contact qualified applicants.
PLEASE JOIN HOST CHRIS SKYHAWK for the Ecology Hour Tuesday night March 23 at 7pm on KZYX. We will cover the Line 3 oil pipeline. Line 3 is an an attempt to move oil tar sands oil from Alberta Canada to global markets. Groups of First Nations people and climate activists are gathering to resist this deadly project. Guests will be representatives from the East Point Peace Academy and former Mendocino director of public health Dr. Gary Pace who are all organizing affinity groups to travel to Minnesota to aid the resistance to this project
Philo Greenwood Road. Half mile up from bridge and apple farm near Hendy Woods.
DEATH ON 253. Sunday evening about 6:30, an 80-year-old man driving east towards Ukiah overturned his 2000 green Mazda Miata at mile marker 12.75 on the Ukiah side of the hill. The vehicle rolled once, coming to rest on its roof, killing its elderly driver, who has not yet publicly been identified pending notification of next of kin.
WAY TO GO, AMY!
Sophomore Amy Liu Represents Mendocino County at Statewide Student Poetry Competition
After winning the Mendocino County Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition last month, Developing Virtue Girls School sophomore Amy Liu represented Mendocino County at the state-level competition last week.
Blake More, Mendocino County POL Coordinator and poetry teacher said, “The Mendocino County Office of Education has been co-sponsoring this competition for nine years, and when the pandemic forced us onto a virtual platform, I was concerned we wouldn’t get as many participants. In fact, the opposite happened. We had more participants than ever, and the quality of competition was excellent.” Amy Liu took first place and the runner-up was ninth-grader Sidney Regelbrugge from Point Arena High School. Kadance Nelson of Pacific Community Charter High School and Heidi Blythe of Developing Virtue Girls School tied for third place.
More described Liu as kind, conscientious, respectful, and deeply committed to learning. “She is a talented poet and presenter who takes the extra time required to produce her best work,” More said. More also spoke highly of Regelbrugge, saying she was a “brilliant writer.” Competitors presented three poems. Liu presented mulberry fields by Lucille Clifton, Oh could I raise the darken’d veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Let It Be Forgotten by Sara Teasdale.
Liu said, “The arts allow me to set aside negativity and enjoy the experience of creating something true to myself. Poetry Out Loud gives me the perfect opportunity to bring this joy to others.”
The local 2021 Poetry Out Loud event was sponsored by the Mendocino County Office of Education, Arts Council of Mendocino County, California Poets in the Schools, the California Arts Council, and the National Endowment of the Arts. This year’s state competition marked the sixteenth statewide production.
California’s Poetry Out Loud program is designed to encourage high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The program is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception in 2005. This year’s competition series encompassed 47 counties, 208 schools, and 416 teachers, reaching more than 10,000 students statewide. Event details and a list of winners for the 2021 California Poetry Out Loud state finals can be found at www.capoetryoutloud.org.
CARLETON WATKINS, PICTURING YOSEMITE
Thursday, March 25 at 6:00 PM for “Carleton Watkins, Picturing Yosemite,” a special virtual program featuring Tyler Green, author of the award-winning book “Carleton Watkins: Making the West American.”
Watkins is widely known as the greatest American photographer of the 19th century. His images of Yosemite in the 1860s became nationwide sensations and led to federal protection of Yosemite and ultimately its establishment as a National Park. Since 2011, Green has produced and hosted the “The Modern Art Notes Podcast,” interviewing a wide range of influential artists, curators, and historians. His book on Watkins further established Green as an important emerging voice in art history, exploring the ways artists have impacted our sense of national identity and advanced conversations in social and political arenas.
To join the program on our Go To Meeting platform, click https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/162049109.
And for more about Yosemite, check out our current online exhibition, “Yosemite People,” at https://exhibits.exhibitenvoy.org/yosemite-people-ghm/.
FRIENDS OF WILDLIFE
Dear Friends of Mendocino Wildlife,
We are sending a quick follow up to our email from last week to urge you again to speak up for wildlife tomorrow at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting and to let you know that oral and written comments must be submitted by 8 am tomorrow, March 23rd.
The Board will be voting on termination of the inhumane USDA Wildlife Services lethal wildlife management program and the establishment of a non-lethal wildlife management program to be administered locally by the County’s own Animal Care Services department.
For the Board to pass this paradigm shift in wildlife management in Mendocino County, they will need supporters of wildlife protection to have their backs at this Board meeting, and it is urgent that we make ourselves heard at this critical point in the legislative process.
Due to the COVID-19 health emergency, public participation at Board of Supervisor meetings is now virtual via Zoom teleconferencing. If you wish to speak to the Board during public comment, you can do so by filling out the form at this link: Comment Request Form <https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/board-of-supervisors/agendas-and-minutes/bos-telecomments>.
After you submit this form, you will receive instructions on how to call in to the meeting. Public comment is limited to three minutes per person.
Whether or not you are able to provide a public oral comment during the virtual meeting, we strongly urge you to provide written comments. You can send written comments to the Board at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the ‘comment’ option on the agenda for the March 23 agenda at this link: <https://mendocino.granicusideas.com/meetings/293-board-of-supervisors-on-2021-03-23-9-00-am-regular-meeting/agenda_items>
Just scroll down to item 6a on page 2 to leave a comment on this critically important item. Both the public comment request form and written comments must be submitted by 8:00 am tomorrow (3/23).
If you do plan to make oral or written comment to the Board, below are three suggested talking points:
Speak from your heart about your own personal experience or other relationships with wildlife (ie: non-lethal options that have worked for you, inspiring stories you've heard, etc.). Remind the Supervisors that the public is supportive of a nonlethal wildlife management approach.
Speak to any negative experiences you’ve had with Wildlife Services in the past.
Speak to the science if you have a background in wildlife biology or related knowledge. (For more information from Project Coyote on the science of non-lethal methods, click here <http://www.projectcoyote.org/programs/ranching_with_wildlife/nonlethal-solutions-reduce-conflicts/>.)
With your support, we can do this. Thank you for caring about protecting Mendocino’s precious wildlife! For the wild,
MNWA steering committee: Rosebud Ireland, Carol Lillis, Don Lipmanson, Carol Misseldine, Jon Spitz
DR. JENINE MILLER, Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) (and newly promoted Acting Director of Health and Human Services) updated the Board on Measure B which was Sheriff Tom Allman’s well intentioned effort to improve mental health services in Mendocino County. Based on Sheriff Allman’s personal charisma the ballot measure received overwhelming approval. But the chief result to date has been circular discussions of priorities by the Measure B Oversight Committee producing no recommendations and general frustration.
CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN on a Crisis Residential Treatment Facility (CRTC) in Ukiah. It’s conveniently in Ukiah right next door to Redwood Community Services headquarters on Orchard Avenue. Dr. Miller told the Board it will be operational November of this year. More importantly, it is meeting State deadlines needed to preserve a $500,000 grant awarded years ago. The County backed itself into an expensive corner and is now spending $5,000,000 to prevent having to return the $500,000 in grant money to the State.
ONE EMPLOYEE has been hired as the first of three members of the Mobile Crisis Team. Months ago the Board approved formation of three teams. Dr. Miller reported that an MOU is being finalized with the Sheriff’s Office and Ukiah Police Department, a training plan is being developed and next steps are being discussed. No estimate was given of when the first Mobile Crisis Team would be operational.
A CONTRACT IS BEING FINALIZED with Camille Schraeder’s Redwood Communty Services for the Crisis Assessment & Hospitalization After Care program which was previously approved. RCS currently provides crisis mental health services for the County. The only certain outcome of this project will be to funnel another several hundred thousand dollars into the coffers of RCS. No mention is ever made of measuring outcomes to see if the number of crisis calls or days hospitalized has improved. An RFP is ready to be issued for a “Community Education & Support Plan.”
DR. MILLER BROUGHT UP the Nacht and Lewis (Sacramento architectural consultants) contract to conduct a feasibility study of various mental health facilities, including a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). Last year the Board decided to put that part of the contract on hold. Dr. Miller wanted to know if the Board wanted to proceed with the contract or not.
FOLLOWING DR. MILLER’S presentation the Board rambled on in typical Measure B style about whether to move forward with a PHF, albeit four years after such initial discussions should have been completed. Possible locations and the need for a feasibility study were mentioned. Supervisor Haschak brought up the requirement for an annual independent audit as called for in Measure B. Supervisor Gjerde questioned the need for an audit given that relatively little money has been spent. The Supes finally agreed to do the “annual” audit (after only three years) because it’s required by Measure B as approved by the voters. (When we asked former Project Manager Alyson Bailey about that audit last year, she replied that so little had been spent that there was no reason for an audit, despite the Measure’s calling for it.)
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS dropped a minor bombshell when he said he had a copy of the “Ranch Proposal,” an obvious reference to the CEO’s closed session attempt to get the Board to buy a 3,000 acre ranch next to Assistant Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan’s property on Parducci Road. The report out of closed session last meeting said the property had been sold and was not available. Which should have ended discussion of the item since the only purpose of the closed session was to discuss price and terms of purchasing a property that was no longer available. The AVA soon learned that the property was for sale — just not to Official Mendo. The owner called the CEO and bluntly told her the property was not for sale to the County at any price for any purpose.
THE SUPES were all familiar with the euphemistically casual “Ranch Proposal,” thereby confirming they held a closed session discussion in obvious violation of the Brown Act which only allows discussion of price and terms. But the property was not available to the County so there were no price and terms to discuss. But under the not so watchful eye of County Counsel Christian Curtis the Board went ahead anyway with a discussion of the Ranch Proposal.
THE RANCH PROPOSAL quickly became the Board’s first choice, a consensus that was most likely arrived at in the previous closed session. Williams acknowledged the property referenced in the Ranch Proposal was no longer available (at least to the County) but advocated for the concept based on the perception that NIMBY concerns would be less likely on a larger parcel in the unincorporated areas than in the cities. Supervisor Mulheren quickly chimed in that she could support the Ranch Proposal but would also like to see a discussion of possibly working with Adventist Health, a subject which had been dropped by the Measure B Committee and staff since it might not involve actual construction. Supervisor McGourty agreed with the Ranch Proposal but cautioned that there was a need to be in reasonable proximity to a hospital in case of medical emergencies at the PHF.
CEO ANGELO dropped another bombshell by raising the possibility of the roofless Whitmore Lane old nursing home as a second option for the Board to consider. The Board, never inclined to question the whims of the CEO, quickly agreed to study the feasibility of the Whitmore Lane property just weeks after approving spending $2.8 million to replace the roof which collapsed in a recent storm. Adventist Health had been in as a second choice, then out, as the discussion bounced around. We still don’t know why it’s not the first and most obvious way to get a PHF going. The County previously issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an operator of the PHF. The time to respond passed months ago but staff has been suspiciously tight lipped about the process and potential bidders (which probably include the Schraeders). Dr. Jeanine Miller was less than forthcoming when asked if Adventist Health was in or out saying only that they were in the middle of the RFP process. The decision not to proceed with studying the feasibility of Adventist Health seemed to be related to the pending RFP, which might indicate they have submitted a proposal. Or that RCS has submitted something and Adventist has already been rejected. Of course, there was nothing to prevent the Board from discussing these options during the same illicit closed session on the Ranch Proposal.
THE SUPES FINALLY directed Dr. Miller and staff to bring back a “feasibility study” of the Ranch Proposal and the Whitmore Lane white elephant. Except Dr. Miller made it clear that her staff would only be reporting on the feasibility of the use and operations of the Ranch Proposal or Whitmore Lane as they were not qualified to weigh in on design and construction. The Board decided not to activate the Nacht and Lewis feasibility study which would assess the cost and feasibility of design and construction costs. The Board appears poised to go forward with a pig in a poke style Ranch Proposal (location to be determined) or the collapsed roof money pit known as Whitmore Lane.
NOW THAT IT’S GETTING LATE with years having been wasted, the new board is feeling public pressure to do something. So they’re about to rush into something that cooler heads would take more time on. What could go wrong?
* * *
INFO SERVICES DIRECTOR UPDATE – The AVA previously discussed the Tuesday agenda item to create a Department Head position for Information Services. Item 5C on the agenda would create a Director of Information Services (Chief Information Officer) at a mere $278,678 (almost the cost of two deputies with patrol vehicles). The staff report for this items is a masterpiece of double talk including this gem: “The creation of the stand-alone department will not require the addition of any staffing resources at this time. With the Executive Office’s formation of a Fiscal and Administrative unit, this stand-alone department would be utilizing this unit to support the common departmental and administrative tasks, therby reducing the common administrative overhead required of a stand-alone department.” Adding a highly paid Department Head apparently doesn’t count as addition staff resources.
IT’S JUST ANOTHER unnecessary use of funds to reward a loyal insider. CEO Angelo has announced her departure for the fall of 2022 but speculation is building that she may be preparing to leave earlier. But on the way out she would like to create a soft landing for her loyal lieutenants, in this case Janelle Rau who serves as the CEO’s right hand. Ms. Rau may be capable in administrative tasks but lacks the basic qualifications to be CEO or CAO. And any incoming CEO would naturally want to pick their own second in command which would leave Ms. Rau out in the cold. Spinning Information Services off into it’s own department will provide the perfect landing spot for Ms. Rau. The entire item, including formation of a “Fiscal and Administrative Unit” within the Executive Office raises more questions than it answers.
QUALIFICATIONS for the proposed Information Services Department Head were posted to the County website Monday. As usual, a four year college degree and experience in IS is required or (and here’s the kicker) eight (8) years of government service in a supervisory position. Which coincidentally seems to match perfectly with the amount of time that Ms. Rau has supervised other employees. Never mind she has no real technology or info services experience.
THE AVA CONSTANTLY hears of collapsed morale in multiple county departments and high staff turnover. The common denominator seems to be the more closely a department works with the Executive Office, the worse the morale. Cases in point include Planning & Building Services and all departments within HHSA (particularly Public Health). Morale at Information Services, currently a barely on the radar screen division of the Executive Office, is at a particularly low ebb. The Supes are in the unenviable position of doing Ms. Angelo’s bidding and risking an exodus of veteran technical staff members or protecting the employees and risking the wrath of their de facto boss.
ABALONE, an on-line comment: Bag limit was lowered and lowered and lowered and fines were increased and increased and increased. It didn’t stop the poachers mass harvesting from the Bay Area. They just simply wouldn’t pay their fines and rotate someone else in. But still that’s not what the problem was. Warm water created ideal conditions for urchins, killed their natural predator while allowing them to thrive which wiped out the kelp which is the shared food source for abalone. No food=bad for abalone. And the fish cops haven’t taken any proactive measures to help manage the situation. Too busy with pot I guess. Blame greed, greed of fish cops.
THIS PLOT SHOWS YEARLY TEMPERATURE anomalies from 1880 to 2019, with respect to the 1951-1980 mean, as recorded by NASA, NOAA, the Berkeley Earth research group, and the Met Office Hadley Centre (UK). Though there are minor variations from year to year, all five temperature records show peaks and valleys in sync with each other. All show rapid warming in the past few decades, and all show the past decade has been the warmest.
Dear Lady: As your daughter, Miss Carpenter, is about to return home for the summer, I wish to take the liberty as well as the pleasure in stating that she has been one of my best pupils. The progress I perceived in her work under my direction is surprising and I must confess that she has much talent for artistic drawing; consequently, it would be very unadvisable to exclude her from studies for any length of time…Respectfully, Osc. Kunath
In 1880, Grace Hudson began her studies at the California School of Design in San Francisco. The instructors had studied art in Europe. They led their students, such as Grace, in drawing from figures and painting outdoors.
As she went home for the summer at the end of the school year, her teacher sent the letter above to Grace’s mother, encouraging her to let Grace continue her art education. Grace returned to her studies in the fall. She excelled. In 1881 she won the Alvord Gold Medal for her charcoal drawing of a statue of Achilles.
In 1880, Grace painted this full sized portrait of herself.
She designed the dress, even painting the flowers on the fabric. It’s unclear if she painted this as an independent or class project, but you can get a sense for the burgeoning painter.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 22, 2021
TERREL BRYDIE, Newark, New Jersey/Ukiah. Fugitive from justice, false personation of another.
LUIS GANDARILLA-TORRES, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSE GONZALEZ JR., Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, vehicle with altered vin number, no license, probation revocation.
JEREMIAH HEILIG, Willits. Burglary, probation revocation.
LILY KRAFT, Fort Bragg, Grand theft, shoplifting, trespassing, vandalism, domestic battery, false ID.
JAKOB LANGEVIN, Redwood Valley. DUI.
MICHAEL ROSS, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
ERYCKA SMITH, Willits. Robbery, criminal threats, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
McCOWEN SUPPORTS 10% RULE/EXPANSION
Planning Commission Chair Pernell & Commissioners,
The 10% limitation is a reasonable compromise that allows the cannabis industry to provide legal opportunities for economic development in areas that desperately need it. A single commenter stated his company spends $2 million per month purchasing cannabis from out of the County. That is $24 million a year from one local company that could go to supporting local cultivators.
Is any other farmer limited to an acre of production? Or prohibited from cultivation in Rangeland?
Environmental concerns will be addressed by the Use Permit process which is not quick or easy. Standard conditions should include prohibitions on trucked water and strict limitations on hoop houses.
Enforcement is a separate issue that must be addressed by the Board of Supervisors. I urge you to adopt a statement to the Board recommending allocation of sufficient resources for Planning staff to process permits, Code Enforcement to respond to neighborhood nuisance complaints and the Sheriff's Office to shut down the outlaw growers who make no pretense of compliance.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS STAR AND FORMER LA CLIPPERS EXEC ELGIN BAYLOR DIES AT 86
Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor, who followed his illustrious playing career with a decades-long tenure as LA Clippers general manager, has died at the age of 86.
Baylor died of natural causes Monday and was surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal, the Los Angeles Lakers said in a statement.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Elaine said in the statement. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”
Considered one of basketball's greatest players, Baylor was an 11-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA selection during his 14 seasons with the Lakers from 1958 to 1971. He was the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year as well as the All-Star Game MVP that year. He averaged a double-double for his career, posting 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
With the Lakers, who moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960, Baylor made eight NBA Finals appearances but never won a title, losing seven-game series to the Boston Celtics on three occasions. He holds the single-game Finals scoring record with 61 points against the Celtics in 1962.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era -- his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I'd like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”
Jerry West, who was a teammate of Baylor's on the Lakers and is now a Clippers consultant, said Baylor was like family to him.
“I will forever cherish my days spent with him as a teammate, he was one of the most gifted and special players that this game will ever see and he has never gotten his just due for what he accomplished on the court,” West said in a statement. “My first few years in the league he cared for me like a father would a son, he nurtured me and encouraged me like no one else had during that period of my life. We shared the joy of winning and the heartbreaking losses during the championship finals. He was a prince both on and off of the court. There are no words to describe how I feel at this time. My deepest condolences to his dear wife Elaine and his loving family, and his many fans and friends. I loved him like a brother.”
Baylor's scoring highlights also included becoming the first player to score 70 points in a game and going for 71 against the New York Knicks in November 1960. That stood as the Lakers' single-game record until Kobe Bryant scored 81 against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
Baylor retired early in the 1971-72 season because of knee issues. He just missed winning an NBA title, as the Lakers would go on to defeat the Knicks in five games in the Finals that season.
“Elgin Baylor set the course for the modern NBA as one of the league's first superstar players,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
After his playing career, Baylor coached the New Orleans Jazz for three seasons (1976-79) without a playoff appearance before stepping down.
He then found a long-term home in the Clippers' front office, serving as general manager from 1986 to 2009, though the team made only two playoff appearances during his tenure. He was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2005-06, when the Clippers won 47 games and made the Western Conference semifinals.
Baylor said he was forced out of his job because of age and racial discrimination, though he dropped racial discrimination claims against the Clippers as part of a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed entirely in 2011.
Baylor served as GM under owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA for life in 2014 after private recordings of him making racist comments were made public. Baylor said that he worked for Sterling because of limited job opportunities for former Black players and the need to provide for his family.
In a statement, the Clippers called Baylor “a transcendent player, a beloved teammate, and a pioneering executive.”
Baylor's college career included leading Seattle to its only Final Four appearance in 1958, when the team lost to Kentucky in the title game and Baylor was named Most Outstanding Player. After the season, the Lakers picked Baylor first in the NBA draft.
It was actually the second time the Lakers had chosen Baylor in a draft. They picked him in the 14th round in 1956, but Baylor chose to continue playing in college at the time.
Baylor, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, became the sixth person to be honored by the Lakers with a statue, which was unveiled in April 2018. The team previously retired his No. 22 jersey in 1983.
THE SHOCKING FAMILY TRIPLE MURDER CASE ROILING HUMBOLDT COUNTY
Amid a scourge of violence against Native and Indigenous peoples, police say a relative turned on his own.
by Hallie Golden
Shelly Moon’s overnight get-together with her cousins came to an abrupt and bloody halt in the early hours of a clear Wednesday morning.
On the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria Reservation in northern California, 16-year-old Moon’s mother, Margarett, a Bear River tribal member, found the group drinking alcohol at about 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 10, according to an affidavit for a police search warrant. Within 30 minutes, the cousins had been picked up by family.
But at some point, authorities said, a resident of the house invited then-18-year-old Mauricio Johnson, who is also related to the Moon family and Indigenous, to the home. And within two hours of the cousins leaving, statements from family and those familiar with the events—some of them second hand—included in the affidavit suggest Margarett Moon’s fiancé, Nikki Metcalf, found Johnson “getting with” her daughter.
“…to hear that it was all three, it honestly, I broke down in tears.” — Cameron Moon Metcalf reportedly hit Johnson, which is when things took a deadly turn, according to the affidavit, which contains information from Humboldt County Sheriff’s Investigator Scott Hicks. Johnson proceeded to shoot him and Margarett Moon, before fatally shooting teenager Shelly Moon as well and fleeing to Utah, according to statements in the affidavit, which was issued by the Utah State Bureau of Investigation.
The reason? “Because he did not want to have any witnesses,” a statement included in the affidavit says.
Now Johnson, who was arrested in Utah on a murder warrant issued by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office after allegedly being found with his mother, Melissa Johnson, and her boyfriend, Von Keener, is being held without bail. He is also fighting his extradition back to California, according to Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal.
The crime involving a single family, which shocked this small community just off Highway 101, further emphasized the widespread issue of violence against Native people, especially women. A 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice found that more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, while research out of the Justice Department in 2008 found Native women on some tribal lands were murdered at more than 10 times the national average in some places. With a national Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement calling for awareness and justice surrounding this crisis, crimes like these illustrate just how high the stakes truly are.
“The last people you would think would be into any sort of, you know, situation like this or anything, would be Margarett, Nikki, and Shelly, you know?” Cameron Moon, 22, who is cousins with Shelly and Margarett Moon, told The Daily Beast. “So, to hear that it was all three, it... honestly, I broke down in tears.”
“She was, like, in a really bad spot before she met Nikki. And then so when Nikki came, they got to be happy.” — David Moon Cameron Moon said he remembered Shelly volunteering for the local elementary school, helping to tutor the students. He described her as having a “giving heart,” just like her mother.
In Humboldt County, authorities were alerted to the homicides at about 8:15 a.m on Feb. 10., when Shelly Moon’s surviving 13-year-old sister dialed 911 to report finding “her mother, sister, and father bleeding out,” according to the affidavit.
“It’s just a tragedy all around,” Sheriff Honsal told The Daily Beast. “We can’t recall a time, you know, within my tenure here, that we’ve had a triple homicide. And so, this has taken this community by surprise and, you know, we’re all devastated.”
Shelly Moon and Metcalf were both found dead, while Margarett Moon was still alive and transported to the nearest trauma center, according to the affidavit. She later succumbed to her injuries. All three had gunshot wounds to their heads.
David Moon, 32, who is Margarett Moon’s nephew and used to live with the family, said his sister picked up his daughter and niece from the home just 30 minutes before the shooting. He added that his sister told him Johnson, the accused killer, was acting “weird.” David Moon also said he learned from another cousin, who lived next door to Margarett Moon and her family, that Johnson and Keener banged on her door “frantic,” trying to get a ride, before Johnson allegedly fled the state later that morning.
According to the affidavit, Mauricio Johnson’s brother Damon said the accused came to his home in the early morning on Feb. 10 with a pistol and blood on his clothes. Mauricio Johnson allegedly told him “he had shot someone and later clarified that he shot multiple people.”
The affidavit states that following the shooting, authorities were able to track Melissa Johnson’s vehicle because it had been purchased at Sole Savers, a car dealer. Authorities were then able to find that vehicle, along with another associated with Mauricio Johnson, in Utah.
By about 2 p.m. on Feb. 11, the Utah Highway Patrol caught up with the vehicles, which were running one in front of the other, about 30 miles west of Salt Lake City, according to Sergeant Evan Kirby of the Utah Highway Patrol. He told The Daily Beast they activated their emergency lights, and while the vehicle with Melissa Johnson in it stopped immediately, the other continued ahead. He said police threw out spikes and after about two miles, the vehicle containing Johnson and Keener stopped in the middle of the freeway.
He said officers then “took them into custody safely. They didn’t resist or anything like that. They followed our commands.”
Melissa Johnson has since been released without charges, but Sheriff Honsal said aiding and abetting charges could come in the future. Keener was arrested on a parole violation and could also see aiding and abetting charges. He is being held without bail in Humboldt County jail.
Melissa Johnson did not return messages seeking comment. Attempts to contact Mauricio Johnson and Keener’s attorneys were unsuccessful.
According to Sheriff Honsal, California’s attorney general has issued a governor’s warrant in Utah Superior Court, requesting Johnson be sent back to Humboldt County. Sheriff Honsal said he expected Johnson to be back in custody in California within the next four weeks.
“A year ago they were supporting the movement with me in basketball, and now they’re part of the statistic.” — Jesse Armstrong
Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming said her office had filed three counts of murder against Mauricio Johnson, as well as “special allegations for use of the firearm and for committing multiple murders.”
She added, “As soon as he is extradited, he will be arraigned on those charges.”
When asked about charges for Melissa Johnson and Keener, she said the investigation was ongoing, “but no charges as of now.”
David Moon, who started a fundraising campaign to help raise money for the victims’ family, said Mauricio Johnson’s mom, Melissa, and Margarett Moon actually grew up together. He described his late aunt, Margarett, as someone who would “always do what she could to help anyone.” He said she had been depressed, but things were starting to look up after she met Metcalf and began working at the local elementary school.
“She was, like, in a really bad spot before she met Nikki,” he said. “And then so when Nikki came, they got to be happy. He was like everything that she needed. And he treated my little cousins like they were his kids.”
Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria Chairwoman Josefina Cortez told The Daily Beast that they were not prepared to make a public statement on what happened, but did confirm that tribal police have been involved with the investigation.
Jesse Armstrong, 31, said he worked with Margarett Moon for two years, through his role as parent-teacher facilitator for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, and coached her surviving 13-year-old daughter’s basketball team.
He told The Daily Beast that she, along with other members of her all-Native team, spent the 2019 season working to spread awareness about MMIW. They painted red handprints across their mouths for games, which symbolize violence against Indigenous women, and wrote the name of a woman who has been missing since 1991 on their arms and legs.
Armstrong said just months before the young girl found her family killed, she had been extremely devoted to the issue and had been trying to plan an awareness game out of state.
“It’s just, you know, weird that a year ago they were supporting the movement with me in basketball, and now they’re part of the statistic,” he said.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I saw an elderly man attempt to go bounding up a very steep flight of what looked liked carpeted stairs, a well-known safety hazard.
For some reason he had a piece of cloth affixed to his face, just under his eyes. This cuts off your lower field of vision, which is necessary for depth perception, something many elderly people have trouble with anyway, which is one reason they are more prone to falls.
The hand rails are there for a reason, safety.
I also saw a number of younger men, presumably responsible for the older man’s safety, ignore what was happening.
As the older man was the reputed leader of the free world, perhaps a little more attention should have been paid to what he was doing?
“LITERATURE TAKES A HABIT OF MIND THAT HAS DISAPPEARED. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.”
― Philip Roth (1933 - 2018)
HEAD LICE BREAK THROUGH!
When you turn a socially negative experience into a positive for the greater good, it transforms the bad into a benefit. Erase and replace is achieved.
An example is turning the AIDS epidemic into Prop 215's Compassionate Use which ushered in the public's 90% support of marijuana for medical purposes within a single generation despite a century of prohibition, marking the beginning of the end. The suffering of a whole community changed the course of history by unearthing the buried benefits of the world's safest medicine plant and winning voter approval to access it as a right, no longer a crime.
My weeks-long ordeal with an agonizing skin itch fits this pattern of erase and replace. What appeared to be a minor skin inflammation turned out to be a lice infestation, with the itch spreading from the scalp to my shoulders, arms and back, with no known diagnosis.
Having no regular doctor since 1960 when my childhood migraine doctor died, I had nowhere to turn. The miserable incessant itch drove me to seek help wherever I could find it. I'd recently gone to Wendy Read of the Caretakers' Garden in Boonville for breathing problems and she accompanied me to see Dr Roshat of Mendo County and took notes. He examined me in general but was unable to give me any clue about the all consuming itch which raged on from my scalp. Lice babies are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye. So I left his office with no greater knowledge than when I went in.
Being at my wit's end, I determined to take matters into my own hands. I used my fingernails to comb my scalp, pressing, drumming and shaking vigorously, probing to reveal or release the unseen for answers. This process dislodged tiny little dead-looking dots, immobile black periods, dead by all appearances. I turned them over and poked and probed until voila! out popped little insects with hairy tentacles clawing the air. Live critters!
Apparently I dislodged unborn critters, forcing their premature birth before they were ready to be born, like a cesarean baby. I collected a few specimen in a container and sent them to Dr Roshat for lab testing. He wrote back, RID. Here was the truth we were looking for, that it was a lice infestation, not a skin inflammation. Once he knew that, his answer was routine, a toxic remedy strong enough to destroy the scourge of blood-sucking parasitic insects who thrive on human blood and misery.
Meanwhile Brian of Cannabis Trail with his excellent network turned me on to Lice Clinics of America/Pleasanton and Concord specializing in an FDA approved heat treatment, following years of trials and 13 patents, using the oil dimethicone that is non toxic to humans but toxic to lice, as they cannot survive the 138 degree heat that dries out their eggs before they are born.
I was reluctant to make the 7 hour round trip to Concord in my agitated state, so they offered, instead, to come to me. However, once they arrived, they discovered that, living off the grid, my Honda 2000 generator did not produce enough power to activate their heat machine.
So they switched to elbow grease and combed my scalp with dimethicone by hand strand by strand until thousands of babies were dislodged in a heap and thrown away. We washed the old clothes and bedding and smiled. Suddenly my skin was lice free. The vile critters that had entered my body and produced the agonizing itch were defeated and I had triumphed in the battle against lice, thanks to Masoud and Cindy, proprietors of Lice Clinics of America.
It is impossible to praise them enough, their competence, experience and dedication to the public good. They've been through the wringer themselves, their children giving it to each other, passing it on to the parents, motivating them to tackle it as a massive health problem facing thousands of people for decades with no widely known non toxic remedy or direction in sight...until now. They've given approximately 8100 treatments over five years in their own business and it is important that they survive and grow.
The Cannabis Elders Council which I am a member of encourages us to give our business to the Lice Clinics of America (925.400.9696) in order to advance the beneficial state of human health and lice-free peace of mind. Every teacher should be informed of this affordable ($200) non-toxic lice treatment, so that when they teach their students the ABCs, they will add ABCD for dimethicone.
On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputies were contacted by the mother of a 16 year-old female who had reported being sexually assaulted beginning on or about 03-15-2021.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Detectives were contacted and took over the investigation.
Robert Devito Jr. was identified as the suspected perpetrator. Based on the information learned, the juvenile female was identified as being provided alcohol, becoming intoxicated beyond her ability to provide consent and was sexually assaulted.
On 03-16-2021, during follow-up investigations, a search warrant was served at a residence in the 28000 block of Madsen Lane and a residence in the 400 block of South McPherson Street both being in Fort Bragg.
Devito Jr. was contacted and arrested for rape of an intoxicated person (261 (a)(3 PC), oral copulation of an intoxicated person (287(i) PC) and statutory rape of a person with more than a 3-year age difference (261.5 (c) PC).
Devito Jr. was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he subsequently bailed to appear on $100,000 bail.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information related to this incident or related incidents concerning Robert Devito Jr. to contact Detective Ryan Murdaugh at by calling 707-463-4086 or the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Tip-line at 707-234-2100.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 It’s interesting to follow the origin of the term “sheeple” beyond the obvious implication of passivity. Sheep have behavioral characteristics not common to other species except perhaps Americans. On the one hand they require the presence of a herd and resist being separated from it or being forced to associate with non-herd members. However they are intensively competitive. While enjoying the choicest of morsels they will instantly abandon it if they perceive that another sheep is munching on a tender shoot of grass that may be better, and rush forward to take it for themselves. For me the point at which I knew all was lost was when I was trout fishing a half mile from the nearest person last July. Around the bend came two middle aged women kayakers, fully masked up to protect themselves from the Corvids presumably roosting in the willows and waiting to pounce upon them.
 Defeated and demoralized, many of us don’t even try to make sense of what’s going on. I know I don’t. I can’t. Since November, I don’t even follow the news anymore. Why would I? It’s one provocation after another. “Whatcha gonna do about it? You wanna say something?”
Consider Goliath: both major US political parties, the military, the spies, finance, tech, academia, mass media, entertainment, “science” and the never ending covid BS… am I leaving something out? And we’re what, David with a slingshot? That’s a feel-good story in a book full of them; it probably never happened and won’t happen now.
There’s no turning this Titanic around, there’s only building lifeboats. The main lifeboat is the people you know and the skills you have. There’s a sense of urgency. They are not kidding. Are we going to waste our limited energy in being outraged about this and that? Watching award shows? Preparing for the next election, “we’ll throw the bums out” etc.? To replace with what, Jeb Bush? Trump again? The man had massive popular support and all he did was run his mouth and shoot himself in the foot. That game is over.
There’s only the people you know and trust right in your neck of the woods, and the skills you have. Hubris is always met with Nemesis. The hubris on display right now is massive. It follows that Nemesis will be gigantic, too, when it comes. Keep that in mind at all times, don’t be distracted by the outrage du jour, focus on what’s important: building community and mastering your skills.
 I’ve been farming in South Florida for 20 yrs, and iguanas only started showing up a few years ago. An invasive species. We have a lot of those: Burmese pythons, fire ants, Sri Lankan weevils. Hurricanes are nothing to sneeze at, although I’m sure the bitter cold is terrible too. I lived through some major ones. Charley was the worst, but Irma a few years ago was pretty hard too. The worst part of a hurricane is the aftermath. You’re flooded, and there’s all kinds of dangers in the water, from electric lines to cottonmouth snakes (lethal), gators, balls of fire ants floating that can attach to your body and do a lot of damage, broken glass, household chemicals, sewage. You don’t have power for days, sometimes weeks. Hurricanes happen in the summer, so it’s above 100 every day and you are doing chainsaw work nonstop.
Wife and I (she’s a FL cracker and a great farmer, I’m originally from Argentina but a proud US citizen for many years now) are Spartan and Stoic, so we can cope, but it’s sad to see the masses lose it, I mean lose it and go apeshit both before and after the storm. I’ve seen old ladies pushed and trampled by young men at the gas line when the models start predicting the storm will hit. There’s runs like herd of buffalo for stocking up on water, canned food, plywood and gas. Most people here are soft and live their whole life under AC, so tempers flare after a few sleepless nights with mosquitos and no see ums, everyone’s on edge. There’s been looting and mayhem sometimes. Like a previous poster said, the veneer of civilization is very thin.
We always keep a 6 month supply of everything and like I said, are used to being outside, understand the dangers and strategies to cope… we keep rainbarrels full, so we can dunk and freshen up at the end of the day… but most people have no idea.
The hurricane brings out the best and the worst in people. We always try to help neighbors, for example with no power, we’d rather have everyone in the area over for a free bbq, as we need to cook all the meats in the freezer. Things like that have built a lot of goodwill over the years.
As for anyone trying to take what’s ours, uninvited, let’s just say we have more powerful “arguments” than slingshots. In any case, those kinds of miserable behaviors are far more likely in urban areas. Both of our farms are nicely removed, although development is encroaching in the South and always pushing (our main reason to leave). People in rural areas are more likely to be like us. S Fl is really a lost cause. Wife tells me how beautiful it was when she was growing up, the citrus groves, the pristine beaches, the slow pace of life. Now everything is like Miami: malls, parking lots, golf courses, clueless snowbirds (yankees & Canadians), constant development – hardly any farms remain in the South.
 The Dems are at it again, attacking the Russians for every evil on earth. They should be looking in a mirror to discover the real source of evil.
What exactly has Russia done to the US in the last ten years to warrant all the hatred the Dems are directing toward them. Why the heck do they think that China is so benevolent and Russia is so bad.
China. Largely expanding its military, destroying Hong Kong’s democracy, threatening Taiwan, again, aiding North Korea in its insanity, building islands to claim illegal sovereignty in the South China Sea, selling fentanyl to the dopeheads in America through the cartels and causing more death and destruction than Covid, slowly destroying America’s manufacturing base. And the worst part of it is that the Democrats in the US support it all.
Now, please put down all the similar things that Russia has done to warrant the ire of the Dems?
 I watched “Acts of Valor” last night. It’s about special operations in other countries involving the CIA and Navy SEALS. I know that it was intended to make the viewer proud of the job the military was doing, but the one thing I took away from it was that America has been so damn busy sticking its nose into every other country’s business it has totally ignored America herself. I was a child when Eisenhower was in office but it seems to me that after that time America sort of lost her virginity and became the world’s whore. Declining moral and family values, declining infrastructure, welfare states….America should have been looking after own. Think of the billions, no trillions of dollars that have been spent worldwide in an effort to eradicate “communism” and bring “democracy” to other countries. And now America’s chickens have come home to roost. I used to think I would not be alive to see the end of America but now I am not so sure.
 Remember the Soviet 1970’s-80’s gerontocracy? Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and their cronies, propped up on reviewing stands with uppers and wires and braces and who-knows-what as the troops, chins in the air, goose-stepped past? Oo! Rah!
Kind of reminds you of the present-day American counterpart. But that’s not the worst of it. Biden was never remotely fit for the office even at his prime never mind now as debility overtakes him. This is one seriously rickety President, tripping on stairs as frail legs betray him, lines of thought dissolving into neuronal fogbanks.
And Congress is old, congressional leadership is old, Sanders is old, Warren is old. Old, old, old, failing knees, failing minds, fighting the last war, too many of them foolishly following ideological fashions instead of providing sturdy and sensible direction.
Not hard to imagine what Putin and Xi think of this.
But there is hope. For all the bumbling dunderheadedness of Trump and his administration, his broad policy thrust at least took note of some real problems. But, overall, for a number of reasons, some related to Trump’s own shortcomings, some beyond his control, his four years have to be rated a failure. And so the US sits on a knife edge, economic calamity beckoning on the one side, national dissolution on the other, and as the clock ticks the margin for error gets awfully narrow.
Maybe the MAGA movement provides a glimmer, maybe only a fool’s hope. But, if it is to survive, MAGA needs people and leaders with their heads screwed on straight and their feet on the ground. I wonder if such a breed exists anymore. There’s no evidence of it on the Democrat side. I wish there was but I just don’t see it, immersed as the Democrats are in ninnyism and nonsense.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s Recall raises some issues for me. As a lifelong Democrat, I would not sign his recall petition, but I will vote for his recall unless he fixes the incompetence, if not corruption, at the Employment Development Department. Neither he nor his Democratic colleagues in the California legislature have probably ever received unemployment insurance.
They are clueless. I received help for a brief time in the late 1970s, and it saved my family’s life. Today, how many thousands of Californians are still futilely attempting to receive their unemployment benefits? On Nov. 29 of last year, The Chronicle’s editorial asked the governor to take personal responsibility for remedying a fundamental failure of his government. He ignored it. I would prefer to deal with a Republican governor who would be honest about his disdain for democracy than our current governor, who is, at best, incapable of helping those who need it most or, at worst, just another liberal hypocrite.
'MY LEFT ARM was seriously damaged because of an ornery three hundred pound hog of ours. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true. This boar hog of ours was so nasty that from time to time I couldn't resist teasing it. Well, one day when I was about eight, I poked it with a stick and ran like hell. Unfortunately, somebody had left the gate to the pigpen open and that damn creature ran straight through, chasing my sorry a**. Scared? Oh yes. I ran like hell and, in my hurry, fell and hit my left arm on a brick.
The fall tore my arm up bad. But we were too poor to see doctors, so the arm was left to heal on it's own. It did, but I was never able to fully straighten it as I was before the accident. The left arm was now crooked, lacking full range of motion. But as it existed, it was as though cocked for the left hook - permanently cocked. Strange for a guy whose success in the world would later depend on what that left could generate.'
- Joe Frazier
BILL MAHER compared the current climate with the 1950s Hollywood blacklist. “People go to parties now and they’re like, ‘Can I talk? I don’t know your girlfriend, she might be woke.’” “They shouldn’t have fired her,” he said, referring to the 27-year old McCammond, who this week resigned a great new gig before it even started atop Teen Vogue amidst controversy over tweets she sent in high school. “People talk shit in private, we can’t legislate that away For f-cks’s sake,” said Maher. “She lovely,” said former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
Libertarian journalist and Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie bashed corporate America for buckling every time to avoid controversy. “It is a warped ideology and it’s taking the place of religion,” Gillespie said. “People who are like, ‘I am hurt when I hear something that offends me,’ that it’s the equivalent of violence. Words are not the equivalent of violence.”
Maher had some fun with Turner Classic Movies’ decision to “reframe” classic films with its rotating hosts. “They have to have a guy on and give a speech about movies you used to just enjoy because you understood that times change, people change and mores change. It used to be called evolution, now it’s called problematic.” The films include ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ Even ‘My Fair Lady’ is too rough for them. It was too corny for me when I was ten. My father wanted me to go see it and I wouldn’t. I don’t want to talk about cancel culture every week, but I don’t think people understand how much this is a tsunami and how fast the goalposts change, almost on a weekly basis. It’s not just what you do but anything you’ve ever done. It’s not just about what you say but what you listen to, what you order, who you say you like, any sort of association.”
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
by Spec MacQuayde
On the morning of March 17, Laura and I were awake well before dawn, discussing our plans at the dining room table in our Hoosier farmhouse.
As usual, I had borrowed her smartphone to examine the weather forecast. “Looks like the rain's supposed to hold off until well after noon. We might be able to get some potatoes planted. Probably worth a try.” I sipped tomato juice from last year's canning efforts, spiced with vodka and habenero. The shelves in the basement were loaded with jars enough for one Bloody Mary a day until this season's tomatoes in the greenhouse mature. They were stored not far from the root cellar where feed sacks full of potatoes were sending sprouts out the tops. I dreaded dumping out the spuds, fearing that the chutes and roots would be a tangled mess that resembled Bob Dylan's love life in the '60's. “The potatoes are growing out of the bags. Hopefully we can plant them still.”
“It's supposed to be warm, though?”
“I don't know. They say it's supposed to hit 68, but by then the wind will no doubt be blowing like the answers to our perpetual questions. It's not going to feel like 68. Probably feel more like 61, 62.”
“Probably shouldn't wear shorts, then.” Laura refilled her coffee cup in the kitchen, adding a splash of vodka, stirring the liquor in with a spoonful of our neighbor's honey, before returning to the table. “I'm so ready for summer.”
“Yeah, those warm temperatures on spring days are deceiving. Likely to be tornadoes somewhere.”
“Maybe wear something green, anyway.”
“I'm not a big fan of St. Patrick. He was a fraud. There were never any snakes in Ireland. It's too damn cold on that island.”
“My grandmother always said snakes come out with the first thunderstorms,” she said. “I think it's true. They hear the boom and know in their bones it's warming up. They feel the vibrations, and it wakes them.”
I poured the remnants of the previous night's beer into the mug, mixing it with the tomato juice and melted ice cubes. Although the daytime high was supposed to hit 68, it was still in the mid 40s outside at seven a.m. Pretty sure that my grandparents never sipped Bloody Mary as they watched the sun rise, washing it down with beer while they discussed plans for the day. They never worried about being certified organic, or checked smart phones for the weather forecast, either. But they did plant potatoes about St. Patrick's Day.
Potatoes thrive in cooler soils, also cooler climates, which is one reason the Irish relied so heavily upon them--the other reason being severe economic sanctions thanks to the British Crown. They thrive in climates that are too cold for snakes. Potatoes, that is. They are a marginal crop in our valley near the Ohio river, where watermelons, sweet potatoes, and other hot weather crops provide habitat for copperheads, blacksnakes, and a host of other serpents who are often mistaken for copperheads, so we only grow enough spuds for our roadside market, and keep a portion of each year's crop to replant, rather than spend more than two dollars per pound for certified organic seed potatoes, even though the seed companies and experts will tell you that it is better to purchase your seed potatoes on account of the threat of disease. As an experiment, I have planted purchased potatoes alongside saved seed, and seen no difference in the health of the plants. They are all just as likely to fail if conditions aren't perfect, which rarely they are in these parts.
In the spring of 2019 we followed the experts' advice and spent more than $800 on organic seed potatoes from Johnny's Select Seeds, out of Maine. We planted them on top of a sand dune, as the rains transformed into monsoons through April, May, and June, lasting until mid-July. Most of our other crops failed in those miserable conditions, but the potatoes thrived, and when the organic inspector representing the Ecocert corporation showed up in September, potatoes were the only viable commercial crop we had to show.
She met us at our roadside stand, armed with a laptop. The inspector was blonde, in her early twenties, fresh out of college, and sat across from me at a table, reading questions from the screen.
I presented the receipts that had been resting all summer in a desk drawer at the farmhouse, awaiting the inspection.
“We lost nearly all our crops, except the watermelons and potatoes planted on the dunes,” I said, “so there isn't much to report.”
“Do you have receipts for the potato seeds?”
“Where did you obtain your potato seeds?”
“Yes. I need to see a receipt.”
“You know that potatoes are not planted as seeds.”
The inspector smiled. “No. I usually do corn and soybeans in Indiana.”
“Where are you from?”
“Kansas City. I had to leave at 5 this morning.”
“No offense, but are you saying that you were not aware that potatoes are not planted by seed?”
“I've never run across a farm that planted potatoes.”
“No further questions,” I nearly said, but held my tongue. That was September, 2019, the end of the worst growing season in Indiana history. I was tempted to transcribe the elements of our conversation into an article for the AVA, but decided to withhold comment. Because I had accidentally spaced the receipt for the $800 organic potato seed order at our house, the inspector typed into her report that we needed to produce a receipt from Johnny's Seeds, verifying that the seed potatoes had been organic. Though it was not difficult to provide Ecocert with a copy of the receipt, I was already starting to second-guess the wisdom of continuing to partner with a company whose inspectors did not know that potatoes are not propagated from seeds. At the very least, Ecocert was providing materials for a later news report, so I thought I'd humor them again.
In the spring of 2020, we planted half our saved potatoes at our home place, half at “Farm 2,” about 4 miles up the road. A severe freeze on May 9 devastated the plants at Farm 2, where we have water to run sprinklers but no electricity or pump set up. That crop didn't amount to much, so we sold none of them, keeping all the spuds for replanting.
In September of 2020 we received a call from a strange number in another state, and assumed it to be a robocall, but answered it anyway. It was a real person, for once, and the guy identified himself as the inspector from Ecocert, said he was going to be in our area the next day.
Once again we had little to report in the way of paperwork. We'd spent the summer renovating the old gas station along Highway 135 in Vallonia, selling tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, etc., from a few acres of mixed vegetables. I looked forward to meeting the next inspector, recalling conversations I'd had with organic inspectors back in Boonville, California, annually, from 2002 until 2008 or so. Of course in those days “California Certified Organic Farmers” (CCOF) had been an organization started and operated by, literally, “California certified organic farmers.” The inspectors were farmers themselves. We had great conversations in the barn at the Boont Berry Farm, and in some cases actually passed joints while telling each other horror stories about marauding deer, glyphosphate contamination in the rain, or the Dead Show in Eugene, Oregon, August '93.
I was actually moving our only tractor, a '68 Massey Fergueson diesel, from the home place to “Farm 2”, when I met a strange Prius on the county road. On these roads it is obvious when someone from elsewhere arrives, just by the way they operate their vehicle, and I knew instinctively that the young man behind the wheel was no doubt the fellow who'd telephoned on behalf of Ecocert, as our next inspector. I kept driving. The old tractor will drop the implement behind on the asphalt if I hit the clutch, and anyway Laura had been planning to follow me in her car. By the time I hit the jog in the road, her black Corolla appeared from behind. She and the inspector waved as they passed.
By the time I reached the farm, the field inspection had been completed. I jumped into the Corolla's back seat. On the return trip the kid admitted to Laura and me that he had been required to undergo a rigorous two week training course before becoming a field certifier.
When we returned to the farmhouse, I neglected to ask him whether potatoes are grown from seed. The kid stared into his laptop, seated at our dining room table. He had a pleasant disposition, and reminded me of some of the young fellows who hang around with my oldest son, now 23. While he listlessly typed to fill in the the next blanks in the format, perusing our receipts, I was curious what sort of farms he investigated, besides ours. In particular, I wondered if he'd visited an Amish dairy I knew of, who sold cheese at the Bloomington Farmers' market.
“They are actually next on my list while I do this region.”
“You do a lot of travelling. How long have you been an inspector?”
After his expert inspection, throughout which he seemed more interested in Laura than in organic farming, our carrot crop matured. Finally we had a crop to market commercially as “organic,” and the Bloomingfoods Co-op up in Bloomington agreed to purchase them by the bunch. It was the best crop of carrots we'd ever produced, after months of tedious weeding in the late summer sun, kneeling on the sand.
“We need to see the organic certificate,” said Jordan, the produce manager at Bloomingfoods. “Until then we'll just sell them as 'Local.' They'll still sell just fine.”
“No problem,” I said. Then I checked the drawer in my desk from the previous year. According to the paperwork, we were certified to sell potatoes and watermelons but not carrots. So I called the Plainfield, Indiana, office of Ecocert. Up until a few years ago the place had been known as “Indiana Certified Organic,” but they'd been bought out by the global corporation.
“You're not certified for carrots,” said the lady.
“The inspector was just out here last week! We have two acres of mixed vegetables! Didn't you receive his report by now?”
“Let's see. Let me pull up your file--oh, he just reported 'mixed vegetables.' That's unfortunately not specific enough.”
“For crying out loud, you'd think your inspectors would know how to fill out a report! They're selling our carrots right now at Bloomingfoods as 'local' but not as 'organic.' You know that kid told us he'd only been required to take a two week training in order to become an inspector. No doubt he is trained by Ecocert.”
“Sir, I'm sorry--”
“I know it's not your fault,” I said, calming down. I was pretty sure that this was the same woman who I had talked to back in 2012, before Indiana Certified Organic had been bought out by Ecocert. “But this carrot crop is pretty much the only reason we need certification right now. Everything else we sell at our roadside stand, which is why I told him it was all mixed vegetables.”
“I could send you a fax that certifies you for carrots. Are there any other crops you might be marketing as organic?”
“Sweet potatoes. Radishes, maybe. Thanks.”
For weeks this spring I debated how to respond to Ecocert's annual demand for more than a thousand dollars, also for more documentation regarding our “organic systems plan,” and finally sent them a letter that probably will result in the termination of our business arrangement. I inserted more passion into that handwritten 12 page manuscript than I am into this report.
Looks like we will have to trust our customers to take our word about farming practices, which is not difficult in our case since we are well known locally as the weird organic hippies. Even the folks up at Bloomingfoods are by now aware that the carrots, watermelons, and sweet potatoes from Driftwood Trading Post are organically grown. Produce sales at Bloomingfoods are way up since the Bloomington Farmers' market was shut down due to covid. Our label means more than Ecocert, especially in the eyes of the other small-time organic farmers who gathered every saturday morning at the Bloomington Farmers' Market before restrictions shut it down last season. The hardcore hippie organic vendors almost treated us like traitors for going through the motions of being “certified,” and I understood their sentiments.
“If Ecocert would send an inspector out this time of year, to verify that we had indeed saved our own seed stock, I would gladly pay them for another season,” I said, among other things on St. Patricks Day, 2021, as Laura and I dumped the potatoes out of the feed bags, into buckets. “They should visit your farm four times a year, see what you're really doing.”
Separating the strands of sprouts, some over a foot long, turned out to be less tedious than I had feared. As storm clouds swirled from the south, and the loose ends of the high tunnel skeleton flapped and snapped in the wind, we laid the tubers into furrows on the sand dune behind our farmhouse. We tried to keep them in a line as they fell, the sprouts naturally pointing due north.
“They look like sperms with those tails,” said Laura, her red whisps of curls wildly flapping like the voice of the breeze. Thunder boomed in the hills to the south and west, spurring our efforts. Magically, the majority of rain soared to the north, and we were able to plant the field, using our Unique (TM) hoes to cover the spuds and long chutes with sand. Lightning flashed as the first raindrops spit. “Snakes will be coming out today.”
IN THE SHADOWS OF SHADOWLAND
by James Kunstler
Is there some kind of game on in the USA? Have our public affairs ever looked so false and disordered? Is it ever more wondrous that Joe Biden somehow managed to win the Super Tuesday primary, let alone the national election?
The country has gotten exactly what it saw all through the autumn of 2020: the empty shell of a broken politician. Back in October, Ol’ Joe hiding in his basement was played as a bad joke in a nervous zeitgeist. Nothing to see, according to the captive news media. Wasn’t that exactly it, though? Nothing to see and nobody home, the essence of our now-president, Joe Biden. How on earth did this happen?
My own theory: it was the strange byproduct of the political establishment fumbling to cover up its crimes, an endeavor so transparently inept that the rest of the world goggles at us in nauseated incredulity, watching our leadership flounder, our institutions fail, our economy vaporize, and our power dissolve, like a some dying blob in an epic horror movie. Even our most devoted adversary, North Korea, marvels out loud at the spectacle of American collapse. They joke about it, but it must make them awfully uncomfortable to realize that the USA runs under a shadow government, and runs so ineptly!
Who or what is this shadow government? I’d say it amounts to a small group around former president Obama and former attorney general Eric Holder, plus a coterie of Intel Community figures led by John Brennan, all awkwardly funneling instructions through Susan Rice to the hacks in the White House, who form a flimsy cocoon around the barely-pulsating organism within: Mr. Biden. I will boldly suggest that this cabal is actually controlling the executive branch of the government, and doing it with stunning incompetence. If it sounds like a conspiracy, that’s probably because it is a conspiracy.
What were those crimes of theirs? Mainly the actions they took the past four years to cover-up their intense and sedulous ongoing corruption of previous years, especially all the channels of moneygrubbing that ran from Wall Street and K Street through the halls of Congress, and secondarily their political agenda to destroy by any means necessary the opposition vested in a weak and ineffectual Republican Party at odds with its own elected leader, Mr. Trump.
The “means” turned out to be one dishonest exploit after another aimed at disabling and eliminating the uncontrollable Mr. Trump: RussiaGate, the Flynn case, the Mueller Investigation, Ukraine Phone Call Gate (impeachment No. 1), Coronavirus hysteria, identity politics hysteria (including the 2020 summer riots), the social media companies’ censorship and “cancellation” initiative, and, finally, the engineered ballot fraud in the 2020 national election, with a re-play in the Georgia senatorial special election of January, 2021. How did you miss all this?
I think it worked this way: John Brennan’s CIA enlisted a desperately failing news media in an ideological campaign to propagandize and lie to the American public based on Brennan’s own past ideological disposition as a self-declared “communist.” Yes, he actually said that about himself, though his Marxism and that of his allies was a mash-up of foolish utopianisms used to cover a sheer wish to annihilate any opposition frustrating their will-to-power. I’d venture to suppose that Mr. Brennan continued to influence and even direct these agit-prop operations long after he was removed as CIA Director, even as he fought off accusations for his role in helping Hillary Clinton gin up RussiaGate.
Hillary’s crimes in particular, especially her Uranium One deal and the Skolkovo scam, involved large networks of accomplices in the State Department and in Intel, including the FBI when it was under Robert Mueller, and since they were conducted under the Obama administration, they implicated Mr. Obama too, and many around him. People-of-color and the gender-muddled were useful idiots in the game to bamboozle the public, and were allowed to turn their own grievances into lucrative hustles. Thus, everything became a “racist” and “sexist” boobytrap used to nullify anybody seeing through this game, while garnering new social advantages and large sums of money for the aggrieved, especially the Black Lives Matter org.
All of these cynical power games were, and still are, playing out against the very real collapse of America’s economy and culture. That is the part of the story that nobody controls or can even hope to control. The manufacturing part of the economy has been going-going-gone for forty years, but Coronavirus paranoia has been mobilized to destroy any remaining small business or service, leaving the shell of a commercial sector represented only by rapacious chain stores. The oil industry is on the ropes, confounded by the high costs of getting shale oil out of the ground and the shortage of investor money for an obviously profitless activity. All that’s really left are the financial rackets tied to the Federal Reserve and Wall Street — and they amount to the sheerest vapor given the de-linking of capital formation from genuine productive activity.
Last week’s antics featured two dazzling failures of American diplomacy under the Obama-Biden shadow government: the president’s stupid obloquies against Vladimir Putin, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s feckless negotiation with China — in which China nullified our “human rights” complaints involving the Uyghurs on account of America’s incessantly self-declared “systemic racism.” Coming up this week, Joe Biden’s long-delayed premiere “news conference.” Even though the “questions” are all pre-submitted and vetted, and the answers will be scrolling on a teleprompter, Mr. Biden will be working without a net. His handlers must be cross-eyed with anxiety over what might happen. Pretty soon, the game will be up. The election fraud story won’t go away against all efforts to suppress it. The shadow government will get outed as the nation sinks deeper into economic and civil disorder, and some people will have to do something.
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