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Mendocino County Today: May 14, 2012

PIXIE WATCH, A READER WRITES: “Driving into Fort Bragg Saturday noon, south end of town, near Hare Creek Bridge, I was shocked to look left and see Ms. Audet calmly strolling along the highway with a large dog. The experience was much like the shock of spotting a celebrity, or an animal in the wild, where the actual siting doesn't quite match up to the pictures one has seen, where the real thing actually seems a little larger than life (more true for wild animal spottings, less true for celebrities, who often seem smaller than their reputation). The big dog/petite waif visual brought to mind Little Orphan Annie, although Ms. Audet looked neither drunk nor angry but, rather, quite happy and content. This morning I read that she had recently written you from jail, which makes me wonder if she has a twin or doppelganger roaming the area.”


MISS AUDET wrote from the County Jail early last week where she was, as always, briefly incarcerated for drunk in public: “Dear People of Concern and Interest, God Bless you all! We all live our lives according to what we've learned and picked up throughout it all. For me I have a kinda rebellious manner; with the only wish to live off the land and my group of close friends and family, outside of this too populated and corrupt system. If I could share anything of importance to anyone it would be about love and goodness through the Christ and Great Spirit or whatever you may believe in; it is the love and forgiveness that we've been given that I'm proud to know in myself and proud to see it throughout this community. I've lived here for the winter and living here and experiencing the good and the bad is what I needed to learn and keep myself strong to continue on in my life as I leave and continue on in my journey that God has given me. Many people help me out every day with money or food or even concern. Thank you. I can't offer the same, but I would love to give you encouragement. I encourage everyone throughout the good and bad. Everything happens for reasons in life and I pray for you to learn and get stronger through these things. Don't let the world break you down. Thank you Great Spirit for another day to be with you. — Jacqueline Audet (Pixie), Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah”

CALLING the allegations in the recently filed lawsuit to stop the Willits Bypass “misconceptions and misinformation,” Caltrans issued a press release last week to “clarify” things. According to Caltrans District 1 Director Phil Frisbie, the bypass will “relieve congestion, reduce delays, and improve safety for traffic currently passing through Willits.” Well, duh. That's what bypasses are supposed to do, Phil. Frisbie says the lawsuit filed by Willits-based enviros “has not put the project on hold.” In fact, “this important project,” Frisbie insists, is right on schedule with bids going out this very week on May 14, and a “Mandatory Pre-Bid Meeting” on June 13 “for all contractors who wish to submit bids or participate as sub-contractors.”

FRISBIE says the proposed Bypass has been “thoroughly investigated,” and that Caltrans has conducted “rigorous analysis by traffic engineers,” that the 2006 EIR has been “revalidated and supplemented” and that the entire project has received the blessings of the California Department of Fish and Game; National Marine Fisheries Service; North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board; US Environmental Protection Agency; US Army Corps of Engineers; and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

WE DON’T DOUBT that Caltrans has its enviro paperwork in order. After all, Big Orange has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on it over several decades. And some of the so-called mitigations — new culverts, wetlands protections, fencing, and so on — are standard for highway projects. But to call their own “clarification” a response to their critics is a stretch. Traffic is down and there’s little likelihood, given the price of fuel and the general decline of the economy, of a significant increase to justify a four-lane bypass upgrade.

IF CALTRANS CARED about local concerns they’d use the money earmarked for possible expansion to four-lanes to reinstate the Highway 20 interchange, which they deleted for budget reasons, effectively routing Coast traffic back through downtown and largely defeating the purpose of the Bypass.

AND CALTRANS still hasn't addressed the huge issue that the pilings supporting the overhead viaduct will gradually sink into the Little Lake Valley fill, thus destroying the Bypass or damaging it and costing more millions to maintain it.

THE BOARD of Supervisors is taking another crack this week at convincing Caltrans to make the eastbound turn off Highway 20 to Potter Valley, the site of many accidents over the years, less hazardous. According to the meeting agenda summary, “County residents living and traveling in the area where State Highway 20 has a highway at grade intersection, located at the Potter Valley Road turnoff, have experienced horrific and unsafe travel conditions since the reconstruction by the State of this particular roadway. Highway 20 is a major connector between Highway I-5 and Highway 101.

“Most recently, an accident occurred where a local resident was t-boned crossing the intersection that finally led other residents to take serious action, calling attention to the unsafe conditions for all travelers, not only at the intersection, but within the entire stretch of the bypass going east and west. High incident rates of serious accidents have occurred over the last decade. Local residents are asking the Board of Supervisors to assist their effort in advocating to Caltrans the seriousness of this dangerous stretch on Highway 20, and to make the needed changes to guarantee safer travel of this stretch of major roadway. A draft letter will be made available upon discussion of this item at the Board meeting on May 14, 2012.”

FROM THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD: “France's new Socialist president owns three holiday homes in the Riviera resort of Cannes, it emerged today. Francois Hollande, 57, who ‘dislikes the rich’ and wants to revolutionize his country with high taxes and an onslaught against bankers, is in fact hugely wealthy himself. His assets were published today in the Official Journal, the gazette which contains verified information about France’s government. To the undoubted embarrassment of the most left-wing leader in Europe, and a man who styles himself as ‘Mr Normal,’ they are valued at almost £1 million. It will also reinforce accusations that Hollande is a ‘gauche caviar,’ or ‘Left-wing caviar’ — the Gallic equivalent of a champagne Socialist.” And our limo libs.

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