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Off the Record (July 7, 2021)

RED BEARD, aka William Evers, the Cameron Road fugitive, is rapidly approaching local legend status. There was a recent sighting of RB in Gualala, although it's highly improbable that he's ranged outside a couple square miles of the Elk area. Originally sought for a parole violation, Evers, 40, has been breaking into houses on Cameron Road — the same house twice — but made the serious tactical error three weeks ago of shooting at a pursuing deputy. Now, rather than a few months in jail for the warrants and parole violation, he'll be facing attempted murder of a cop charges or he'll be killed himself. On surveillance cameras Red Beard has lost a lot of weight, and he's obviously desperate as he demonstrated when he took a shot at the deputy, the whole Red Beard package militating rather severely against his survival chances. But so far he’s managed to elude a massive, multi-agency search for him and is about to celebrate his third month as a fugitive.

WE REGULARLY get Sheriff's pressers about people, invariably men, who have failed to register as sex offenders. But there are pervs and then there are dangerous pervs. If a guy is registered because he has committed rape, the specifics of his conviction should be made clear. Ditto for chomos — especially chomos. Statutory rape involving an 18-year-old man, technically an adult, and his 16-year-old girl friend gets the young man a perv jacket he probably doesn't deserve. Weenie Waggers? I know a guy who was mooning people for the hell of it only to find himself with an indecent exposure conviction. But the men who habitually expose themselves to whomever, yeah, they've earned sex offender status. The point, I guess, how about a ranking system, with sexual predators as Perv One on down through the mooners and exhibitionists.

THIS GUY, Troy Mihalcean, 40, of Fort Bragg, was a registered sex offender in LaSalle County, Illinois, but failed to register when he relocated to California 8 years ago. Beyond these scant facts we know nothing more about him beyond a felony conviction in Illinois for a sexual assault on 13-year-old female minor.

Troy Milhalcean, 2021, 2009

ADDING immeasurably to water and fire anxieties, is the neo-fact of many, many people growing marijuana in areas with little-to-no water, hence all these water trucks we see on our highways and biways. There's been subsistence pot gardens in the hills for years who grew to pay mortgages, but lots of people did very well prior to the Green Rush we see now. The cops took off enough plants every year to keep prices rosy, and everyone was living happily ever after when the dope business suddenly got wayyyyy outtahand. 

AT THE MO, we've got this sudden influx of people from all over the world — Bulgarians, for crisakes! — many of them not committed to the principles of non-violence. And here we are with no water and the whole show threatened by apocalyptic fires.


[1] The departure, loss of Fiddleheads is no loss at all as there is nothing of value there to be lost. Decades ago in Mendo's heyday this corner of the old livery stable, AKA, Shell Building was not an enclosed space within the building. The small space, a clipped 45 degree corner was opened to the street and possibly left open for horse shelter in bad weather a long time ago. In the mid-80s I would park my motorcycle there in the evening while going across the street to The Sea Gull for dinner and local entertainment and mount my old “horse” for the cruise home on a dry seat. Another long-time local recently mentioned that he sold hot dogs in that corner many Moons ago. This is now our history. And so the old Seagull's departure, if not tragic, was indeed a serious loss to Mendocino community at large and not soon to be forgotten. but Fiddleheads will not be missed and will go down as simply a dark stain if ever mentioned again.

[2] The loss of Fiddleheads, or any other business, is not “tragic.” Landlords raising the rent on local businesses, “killing” them, has been going on for at least the last 50 years in Mendocino, but it is not a disastrous event, cf. 1906 earthquake, hurricanes, Vietnam War, etc., etc., etc. 

[3] You’re right, the loss of Fiddleheads is not a great one, but the rental increase may very well be “tragic,” and will most likely put a lot of others out of business. I’m thinking of Lulu and Victor’s terrific bakery, Wanda’s toy shop, and others. Investment groups are taking over our communities; they care not a whit for the folks who live here; they’re in it to make money! We are blessed that the folks who live at The Woods and who formed a collective to buy it, won the bid, although there were many other bidders (investment groups/corporations) that bid higher. That was a win for our coast and for community! 

THE FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE’s Robin Epley summarized some of the homeless-related issues in Fort Bragg last week. 

EPLEY: “A recent $17,000 grant offered by the Mendocino County Continuum of Care has made it possible for the city to buy a Greyhound bus ticket for anyone who needs a ride home.”

The Continuum of [purely rhetorical] Care’s slogan is “A Hand Up Not Hand Out.” Might be more accurate if they added “…And Then A Hand Outtahere.”

THE CONTINUUM of Rhetorical Care got almost $1.9 million from the state for homeless services in 2020. $17k is about 0.9% of that.

MS. EPLEY continues: “Sometimes, hotels will put up someone for the night, and an officer will often buy the person a cup of coffee in the morning before they get on the bus. … City Councilman Bernie Norvell said the city buys at least one bus ticket for someone every few weeks, and they have sent people home to as far away as Alaska and the East Coast.”

“One person” — not one in line for a bus ticket — “in particular, has prompted more than 230 calls in a single month.”

That’s an average of almost eight police calls a day. Our booking log postings show that the most frequent Fort Bragg Frequent Flyer these days is the ubiquitous Mr. Sean Flinton. 

MS E: “Just last Monday, there were six calls about different transient issues to the police station, making up 90 percent of the station’s work for the day. Naulty said the police department is currently trying to find a budget to hire an in-house mental health professional who can ride along on calls. The ideal solution, he said, would be a mental health response team that could be deployed to assist those in the middle of a crisis.”

THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG should not have to “find a budget” for a mental health professional. One of the three mobile crisis vans funded by Measure B was supposed to be on the Coast. Is it too much to ask for the Sheriff and Dr. Miller to turn one-third of that money and hiring authority over to Chief Naulty? The City of Fort Bragg could probably get someone hired much faster than the Mental Health Department which has taken months to get one person and doesn't even have any more candidates in the pipeline. Perhaps Mark Myrtle, the Fort Bragg rep on the Measure B committee, and a rare voice of sanity among that august crew, could get the ball rolling on this. The Measure B committee certainly doesn’t have anything else to do these days.’ (Mark Scaramella)

RACE WATCH. The national anthem is based on a four-stanza poem written by Francis Scott Key while he was being held offshore by the Brits as they shelled Baltimore in 1812. A scholarly black Olympian (hammer throw) says the whole song is racist although the disputed third stanza is never sung, only the first stanza, and only a few historians had any idea what Ms. Berry was demonstrating against when she covered her head while the anthem was played as she stood on the winner's dais at the Olympic trials in Eugene.

THE THIRD STANZA SAYS: “And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion. A home and a Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave. From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

FOLLOW ME, ava readers, into a close textual analysis of the offense alleged. In the context of both the times and the tune, the ref to the “hireling and the slave” is to the German mercenaries hired by the Brits to assist them in pounding their former colony in what was basically a trade dispute. The ref to the slave is, in my reading, a contemptuous slam at the many slaves who fought with the Brits on the condition they would be freed in return for their service. The American slavemaster class somehow managed to delude themselves, as the self-interested will do, that these slaves were somehow traitors. Without looking it up, when we'd beaten back the English, the black people who'd fought with them wound up exiled to Nova Scotia.

TO BE SENSIBLE about all this retroactive indignation about our, ahem, sanguinary history we can recall that great and probably representative American, Richard Nixon's concession, “Mistakes were made.” What's truly amazing about America is that it's held together this long, although that tenuous unity seems to be winding down. But how can anyone hate a country that’s produced Babe Ruth, Eugene V. Debs, Tempest Storm, Hemingway, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis, Emily Dickenson, Sojourner Truth and, and, and, and…….

MS NOTES: My favorite book on the War of 1812 subject is British historian Simon Schama’s ‘Rough Crossing: Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution.’ In that book Schama — a lively writer as well as a top historian — chronicles the time when African slaves were offered freedom and some land in Nova Scotia if they fought against their American masters. Thousands of former slaves took the Brits up on the deal, survived the Revolutionary War, escaped with the retreating Brits, and ended up in Nova Scotia. But things weren’t much better there. Then the Brits offered to transport whomever among them wanted to go to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Finally, at least for those who took that “rough crossing” — oh boy, was it — back to Sierra Leone, things were better. The story is amazing and well worth the read.

PD HEADLINE: Now’s the Time for a Great Gilroy Getaway! Why what a coincidence! I was just thinking of a weekend in a place that might even be hotter than Mojave and up pops Gilroy!

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S cabinet has an average of $7 million in assets. Orange Man's cabinet contained several multi-millionaires, with a combined worth of $6.2 billion.

BIDEN HIMSELF is worth around $8 million, which isn't bad if not downright amazing for a guy who started out with nothing. People have always just liked him I guess, and every time he turned around during his years of “service” someone was stuffing cash into his pockets Biden's fortunate son, Hunter, for selling access to Joe Biden may be worth more than his father, not that we're likely to get a look at the family books. 

JIM SHIELDS WRITES: “Regarding: John McCowen’s June29 comment on Pot Referendums. Here’s McCowen: “Please get the facts before signing a misleading referendum to force an expensive special election to repeal something that is already going to be repealed.

The Supervisors have been listening and paying attention. The Supervisors have agreed to a limited amount of expansion without the provision for 10% of parcel size (which was itself a limitation with many restrictions – not an entitlement).

Expansion will be capped at a maximum of 2 acres at least until January 1, 2026 and only with approval of a Major Use Permit and numerous restrictions and conditions.

The only people who are not listening are the referendum proponents.”

SHIELDS: “Just to set the record straight, the 10% Expansion Rule is still in effect, nothing has changed. The cultivation caps and implementation dates McCowen referred to is a “direction” that the four Supes approved (Haschak opposed) near the conclusion of the June 22nd meeting. The phased-in caps of 2, 5, and 10 acres over 3-year increments is a Proposed Amendment to the current Phase 3 Ordinance. Planning and Building Staff was “directed” to draft a proposed amendment to the Phase 3 Ordinance which included those items mention in your letter.

Keep in mind that the “direction” first given by the four Supes did not include any reference to the 10% Rule. When Supe Ted Williams realized the 10% Rule was not included, he raised that fact and said it should be included. His colleagues agreed with him and it was added in. One must assume there’s a reason why the 10% language was restored to the “direction.” Staff speculated they thought the proposed amendment could be ready for a meeting in August. Also keep in mind the four Supes’ “directive” did not include a direction to conduct an EIR. But in any event McCowen’s comments deal with a proposed amendment, not an approved action taken by the Board amending the Ordinance. The BOS is planning to take up that Proposed Amendment for consideration later this summer, perhaps in August, but it has not been approved yet. Who knows it may never come before the BOS for consideration and approval. If you read the Phase 3 Ordinance just approved on June 22, you’ll find that the 10% Expansion Rule is still in effect. Here’s the actual language: “Appendix A, footnote *6 – Parcels in the AG or RL zoning district that have a minimum parcel size of ten (10) acres or larger may cultivate up to 10 percent of the parcel area with the issuance of a Major Use Permit.” That provision is the major reason there are two Referendums being circulated now, and it is certainly still in effect. There’s enough confusion at this point in the process underway. McCowen is confusing a proposal with an approved action or decision made by the BOS.”

KIRK VODOPALS: “The cannabis regulation system was never intended nor designed to admit all of the “small mom-and-pops” of Mendo into the fold. And how could it? The state won’t give a variance to folks who try to farm on hill slopes over 30% and truck in water even in wet years. Mendo County will never be able to herd all the cats. Most of these cats (aka Argentinian carpet baggers) have their “legal” areas in plain sight but got a few hundred stashed in the bushes or in some indoor scene in Point Arena. Same shuffle all over the Emerald Triangle. The dance continues.

If you want to give a break to the real mom-and-pops, then don’t do code enforcement on anyone over 60 who’s been in the business for decades. Give them a tax break. The rest can grow between their tomatoes like their parents used to.

JOHN MCCOWEN: “To Jim Shields: No confusion here. I’m very aware deletion of the 10% of parcel size rule and addition of a 2 acre cap are proposed amendments that have not yet been adopted. But you have confused the 10% of parcel size rule with the much more modest point raised by Supervisor Williams. The change suggested by Williams (and agreed to by the Board) caps cultivation for parcels over 10 acres in size at “10% of parcel size or 2 acres whichever is less.” Which means the owner of a 15 acre parcel could apply to cultivate 1.5 acres. the owner of a 20 acre parcel could apply to cultivate 2 acres, but the owner of a 640 acre parcel would still be capped at 2 acres. And then only with a Major Use Permit and a bunch of other requirements. And while the original 10% of parcel size rule may have been the major reason behind the referendum you support, the other group seeks to repeal Chapter 22.18 in its entirety, which will mean we are stuck with Phase 3 of the current ordinance which does not align with State law, does not protect neighbors and does not result in State Annual Licenses. Many of the growers (legal and illegal) who support repeal of Chapter 22.18 fear the accountability and enforcement that will come with a functional ordinance.

OF THE UNINDICTED Bush-era war criminals — Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Bush himself of course, and Colin Powell — Rumsfeld always seemed from here the worst, the craziest of them all. Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimated that by 2018 the Afghanistan war had claimed about 147,000 lives, to include 38,480 civilians; 58,596 Afghan soldiers and police (about as many American troops as died in Vietnam); and 2,401 U.S. military personnel. The Taliban will finish their takeover of Afghanistan about half an hour after the last planeload of special forces is airborne, and the Middle East that “Rummy” and his co-conspirators named above, who permanently destabilized the Middle East will have gotten away with it.

“ENSLAVED PEOPLE were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently … Enslaved people could not legally marry. They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups. They had no claim to their own children, who could be bought, sold and traded away from them on auction blocks alongside furniture and cattle or behind storefronts that advertised ‘Negroes for Sale.’” — Hannah Jones

FEW PEOPLE would argue with the truth of the above statement, and I don't understand the mass gnashing of teeth over Jones' 1619 Project, which is also a series of historical facts pegged to the historical fact that black people were central to the American project — much original American capital accumulation deriving from free labor — prior to the founding of the republic by white aristos. The rightwing seems terrified that the young, when they look up from their handheld devices, might get the notion that a lot of bad stuff happened way back when, and all of it was committed by Whitey because Whitey's innately evil.

A LOT of bad stuff did happen, and Whitey did do a disproportionate lot of it, but it comes with the species, not only white America's seminal crimes against, as NPR puts it, “people of color” but everyone, historically considered. I doubt that white children are cringing at their school desks as liberal teachers — name a single public liberal among Mendocino County collective faculty, K-14 — indict them for the sins of their great grandparents, and I doubt that few teachers of any color are pounding white children over the head with their original sin as junior white people.

IF THE STOLEN ELECTION is “a lotta bullshit,” the manufactured hysteria from rightwing White Media that the educational process is devoted to making white children ashamed of American history is also a lotta bullshit. Squared. The truth might not make you free but it does tend to tether you to reality, and the reality is that race relations in this country have never been better, and American history, genocide and slavery and the whole bloody record of it, is our collective history, just as your personal history is the immutable collected facts of your life, no rewrites allowed. Call me Mr. Pangloss, but American history is also a history of making amends, or trying to, er, superficially and ineffectively of course, but that's what the libs claim they're doing. 

PRETENDING bad things didn't happen is the history I learned as a kid, and you probably got the same load of bullshit I did, from which the history of black people was totally excluded, and Indians were the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Mexicans were still in Mexico and wore giant hats, the Jews had made the desert bloom, the Chinese sold firecrackers and chop suey. A lot of dumb white people never quite got over it, hence Fox News. 

THE MERE MENTION of history still makes so many young people groan because they know instinctively they're getting a lotta bullshit. If the teacher is any good, history has never been more interesting because it's at last being presented whole based on the premise that life is not now nor has it ever been puppies and unicorns anywhere in the world, including here.

BIDEN, today (Friday), cut off reporters who questioned him about the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying he wanted to focus on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and “happy things. I want to talk about happy things, man,” he said. “We're on track exactly as to where we expected to be,” Biden continued. “There will be some forces left. But it's a rational drawdown with our allies.” With reporters still yapping at him about Afghanistan, Biden snapped, “I'm not going to answer anymore on Afghanistan. It's Fourth of July. I'm concerned that you guys are asking me questions that I'll answer next week. It's the holiday weekend. I'm going to celebrate it. There are great things happening,” Biden claimed, launching into a highly debatable list of the great things happening. “The economy is growing faster than any time in 40 years. We got a record number of new jobs, COVID deaths are down 90%, wages are up faster than any time in 15 years. We're bringing our troops home. All across America people are going to ballgames. This is good. I'll answer all your negative questions — not negative questions — legitimate questions later some time.” When a reporter asked him if Congress would pass his infrastructure and families' plan, Biden replied, “Come on guys. 'I love you guys but it's a process.”

THE FOLLOWING is from the current report from the Lake County Grand Jury, a nicely done document that gets right to the point and, as the subject breaks, uses the nicely done landscape art by one of the jurors.

“LAKE COUNTY has billed MediCal and Medicare in excess of $3.5 million for its 20 most recent 5150 patients who were placed out-of-county. (All billings are fully paid.) It would be less expensive, more convenient and more therapeutic for patients to stay in Lake County close to family, friends and familiar places. Developing a facility here would be helpful all around and might also add funds to Lake County’s coffers… What is needed is a fully staffed inpatient facility with just 10 or 12 beds. Having one in Lake County could eliminate the County’s reliance on expensive hospital emergency rooms and transportation to, and supervision of, the patient’s progress in distant placements. Many mental patients need both social support from family and friends, as well as community-based treatment after being released from placements. The Grand Jury believes this help is best provided at home for Lake County residents. Behavioral Health Services offers a full array of community treatment options. If there were an inpatient facility in Lake County, the current practice of paying for duplicative services elsewhere would be unnecessary. The 20 most recent 5150 Behavioral Health patients were placed in 20 different facilities around the state and were transferred from one to another placement 54 times. Only two of these patients were placed just once. The rest were transferred more than once. The most frequently used facilities were in Angwin and St. Helena (9 times). After that, the next most frequent placements were in Redding (7 times). The remaining placements were in Ukiah, Vallejo, San Jose, Pacifica, Eureka. Developing a facility in Lake County has been suggested before and rejected. The need for one is more pressing now due to the ongoing increase of homeless persons, many of whom need mental health treatment before they can reasonably be expected to find or succeed in housing. A potential alternative may soon be available in Mendocino County where a short- term facility for 5150 evaluations and to ‘house’ persons returning home from placements has been established. Mendocino County is also in preliminary discussions to induce Lake County to…open a mental hospital, perhaps at a closed hospital site in Willits.”

UH, sorry Lake. The closed hospital site in Willits is off the table, and funding for a Mendo psych unit via Mendo's voter-approved Measure B is floundering, to put it mildly. 

THESE NEW CALIFORNIA laws took effect Thursday, when the new fiscal year began:

—California’s ban on buying more than one handgun in a 30-day period expands to semiautomatic centerfire rifles, which include some that meet California’s definition of an assault rifle.

—California will create an ombudsman to advocate for and field complaints from student loan borrowers faced with predatory practices.

—Laura’s Law, a 2002 measure that allows judges to require intensive mental health outpatient treatment, becomes permanent. To qualify a person must have a serious mental illness and recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, incarceration or violent behavior.

—Portions of two laws designed to help homeowners who lose property in wildfires during states of emergency take effect, including provisions for coverage of living expenses.

—The state’s three prisons for juveniles will stop accepting new admissions and will close in 2023.

HISTORY NOTE: "All I know is bullshistory, but my ancestors run deep in Usal, (U. S. A . Lumber) Westport, Rockport, Branscomb, Mud Creek and Horseshoe Bend. 

The road came from Fort Bragg up the coast to Usal, then down the ridge to the junction of Bear Harbor road, then through Whale Gulch to Bear Creek, then down the King Range, back down through Bear Creek and up onto airport ridge. Down into Honeydew, and on up the present day route through Petrolia and into Ferndale. 

The other roads developed through improved pack trails into what you see today. One of them was the road from Whitethorn to Four Corners. You are right about Four Corners having deep history. It was near the site of an Indian massacre. The Home of Sally Bell, and a famous crossroads saloon. In modern times it would be known as a spiritual nexus. “— Ernie Branscomb

INTERESTING PIECE in the current New Yorker called “Kyle Rittenhouse's Fatal Trip to Kenosha,” in which we learn that the then 17-year-old Rittenhouse seemed to think he was out there to do good. He'd had some training as an EMT. He was not, as I and I'm sure many other people have assumed, much of a fascist in any ideological sense. From the now familiar broken home, Rittenhouse liked hanging around with cops and EMT's, the only stable father figures he knew. Of course if he hadn't been carrying a gun that night he probably wouldn't have been attacked, but in the event he was attacked by three guys, the first of whom was certifiably nuts and just out of the bin, the next two, one of them armed with a handgun, and both intending the lad harm, is confirmed by film. The real American fascists quickly adopted the kid as a poster child for Trumpian righteousness and a couple of lawyer-fascists used him to raise money mostly for themselves. Rittenhouse is quoted as saying he wants to go to college and eventually work in the medical field. He isn't a mad dog of the type I saw driving through Boonville this afternoon with the rear window of his red pick-up inscribed, “Fuck Biden.” The message continued but I couldn't see it well enough to transcribe it, but I'm sure it was just as inspirational. I don't care for Biden either, but it's never occurred to me to want to sodomize him. These rightwinger sure do seem to have a lot of unresolved sexual issues..

JEEZ. As if the lunatics of Q-Anon feel their claim that the government is run by Satanist chomos isn't sufficiently damning, they're now claiming that these same Satanist chomos are also cannibals.

AU COURANT DUDE that I imagine myself to be, I hadn't known there was a black national anthem. But reading the lyrics of it, Lift Every Voice and Sing, it is uplifting and all if you go for uplift, but seems awfully… uh… fey put alongside the martial descriptives of perilous battles and bombs bursting in air.

IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL we kicked off the academic day with three (count 'em) patriotic tunes. Standing at attention, hands over hearts, we'd belt out the National Anthem, My Country 'Tis of Thee and America the Beautiful, and woe unto the kid who tried to amuse his peers by singing a little too loudly or substituting smart alec lyrics for any of the sacred lines.

LOOKS LIKE the next Mendo ballot will feature a pair of pot measures, one a simple modification of the Supe's ordinance, the other will recommend chucking the whole works. The arguments have commenced and are all over the place where the fine print is taken seriously. I think the modification of the Supes' ord is sufficient, but it all seems irrelevant to me because the size and scope of what's become the Green Rush is, and will, overwhelm any and all attempts to regulate it. 

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: I prefer the “Small Is Beautiful” version of the two competing referenda as well. But since the County has never enforced permit terms on anything, much less pot, and no one has even raised that question concerning any of the options, arguing about the rules themselves seems pointless. I get the feeling that most people will vote for both referenda simply to protest the County’s complete mess of a current program and the perception, as noted a few weeks ago by Supervisor Haschak, that the Board isn’t listening to the public. A case can be made that the public isn’t listening to the Board either, but that probably has to do with the general perception that the Board either isn’t believable or that that whatever the Board thinks takes a backseat to what CEO Angelo thinks, and she’s not talking about pot. There has not been any reasonable attempt, in simple terms, to explain or defend the current ordinance or the seriousness of the promises about phased in gro-size caps. (Only John McCowen has even tried, but he’s kinda pedantic in his approach and he’s tied to the old mess of a program too, so his attempts at explanation are not getting much play — and the current Supes don’t seem to want his help.) We have yet to see a single press release about the program from the County’s new hot shot pot gal, Ms. Nevedal, who came to the Program with pot admin credentials and pot industry experience and credibility. Instead we’ve received a series of “code enforcement” press releases which don’t seem to be slowing down the black market. Prices of unpermitted pot may be coming down as the volume of pot for sale goes up, but that might cause people to grow more just to make up for the price-related loss of revenue. County Counsel’s recent attempt to explain the legalities of the “Small Is Beautiful” referendum only adds to the confusion and probably energizes the circulators. If, as County Counsel says, removing just a footnote is not a technically valid ballot measure and the Supes try to disallow it from the ballot, that may slow things down even more and motivate the circulators even more and would probably help the alternative “throw it all out” movement. Upshot: Instead of bringing growers into the “regulated” program, more and more of them will flaunt it. In effect, this kind of legalization is perversely creating more illegal grows than the status quo ante.

DENIS ROUSE WRITES on Annie Proulx: “I took your lead and have been reading her gorgeous if (I think) sometimes overwrought stylish prose but enjoying it very much. I was particularly taken by her bull riding short story “The Mud Below” that's so ropey with male bull snot I fell into sexist wondering how a woman could pull it off. Guess there are no gender gaps in great writing but as you know these are weird days, no one knows what else is coming out of the closet. Enjoying the AVA, it's livelier than ever, a nice reality check from what poses as journalism in the mainstream. One more Britney Spears story and I'm taking my television for a one-way cruise on the Strait.”

ED NOTE: Agree. Proulx's prose can be implausibly purple at times, but what a writer. Like you, I often beat back my chauvinist impulses to say to myself, “A woman wrote this?” 

FISHERMEN REPORT that the struggling salmon species are so far plentiful this season out of Noyo, so plentiful lots of ocean anglers are bagging 25 – 30 pounders, easily making their limits of "2 salmon except coho, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. No more than two daily bag limits."

WHEN CANDIDATE JOHN PINCHES was running against John Haschak in the 2018 Third District Supervisors race, he told then-Willits News editor Ariel Carmona that “he has some ideas of how to help the housing stock in the county, including building new mobile home parks in various locations throughout the county (and on vacant county land). Pinches said he was for doing away with what he calls ‘no-growth policies.’ He says these no growth mandates have helped stymie the number of housing units small and large throughout the county. ‘We haven’t built a new mobile home park in Mendocino County in over 60 years,’ Pinches observed. ‘When I was on the board last time I pushed and got approval for a landowner that wanted to put a mobile home park north of Laytonville. The owners aren’t doing it now because they got a divorce, but I got an idea of putting another large mobile home park at another location’.”

PINCHES LOST TO JOHN HASCHAK in that election and that was the last time anybody raised, much less addressed, those “no growth policies,” or the possibility of new mobile home parks in the County. As far as we know, nobody has asked Pinches — arguably the most Mendocino-focused Supervisor since Liz Henry or before her Joe Scaramella — for input on his favorite specialized subjects like housing, out of control county bureaucracy, pot legalization, and roads. That’s too bad because Pinches was the closest Mendo’s ever gotten to a “git-er-done” Supervisor. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that the reverse is now the case.

THE MCGOURTY-WILLIAMS WATER ROAD SHOW that began in Anderson Valley last Tuesday went on to the town of Mendocino later in the day. Having raised no specific ideas or any short-term water mitigations in Anderson Valley, much less the County, the discussion on the Coast was more focused. According to a recent article in the Fort Bragg Advocate by Michelle Blackwell they actually got into some specific ideas, like: Having the County help fund the cost of water deliveries to local residents; have the County subsidize the purchase of storage tanks for local residents who either do not have them or who have tanks too small to meet their needs; suspend permit requirements for water tanks and provide assistance in getting the Mendocino Historical Board to do the same; provide assurance that the City of Fort Bragg has sufficient water to continue water sales to Mendocino residents throughout the drought; provide funding assistance to upgrade the recycled water plant at a cost of $2.5 million so that it can expand the use of recycled water… They also requested assistance for longer-term resiliency projects that included funding and developing a secondary water source for Mendocino — mainly up in the hills to the east near the ridgeline. Further off, they also discussed the idea of collecting water at the County-owned Little River Airport.

ACCORDING to Ms. Blackwell, the group in Mendocino also discussed a survey of dry wells in the town from 2015. Approximately 30 wells went dry in 2015, and 24 out of 30 of the wells were shallow. Some have since been replaced with deeper wells, but the village remains water-starved. While the map included the dry well reports for this year, there is a concern that residents are not reporting dry wells to prevent property value loss and that makes it difficult to get a handle on accurately assessing the overall water situation.

THE QUESTION NOW IS: Will Mendo County explore any of these ideas? Will they even appear on the County’s Water Agency Clearinghouse? Given the ho-hum attitude of the Supervisors and the County water bureaucrats, we’d put the odds at somewhere around 100-1 against.

IN OTHER DROUGHT NEWS, according to a brief mention in Thursday’s Independent Coast Observer out of Gualala — a south coast paper that normally doesn’t include much North County news — County Transportation Director Howard Dashiell has announced that he will not be “dusting off” 19 north County miles of County roads this year because the water purveyor he had used in the past hasn’t got enough water to sell to the County for the annual project. Dashiell said he usually mixes eco-friendly magnesium chloride (a salt) with water to make a season-long anti-dust coating on otherwise dry, dirt roads. The ICO didn’t mention who the water purveyor was, but we were under the impression that Jim Shields’s Laytonville water district was still selling water to licensed water trucks. Maybe the amount involved to cover 19 miles of road was just too much.


[1] There won’t be any revolution until the general population loses what is valuable to them. That includes abundant food, social media, computer games and tv. Technology has so removed the average person from the means of production that they don’t even consider what’s really happening. In this new world, injustice and rotten politics don’t matter as long as someone can watch their favorite tv programs, eat when they want and text their friends. Life is hard when you factor in material and emotional needs, so escape has always been desirable, and technology now has evolved to the point where it can provide escape for most people. But when supply and power lines break down, you’ll see widespread rebellion (real insurrection).

[2] People became possessed of the most amazing ideas, not only the rich and the powerful but especially them, especially in this period of flux after communism did a faceplant, as the USSR went down the tubes, as Yugoslavia broke apart and then flared into a nasty war and many other happenings. Happenings like that massive economic reshuffle called globalization. It seems that all this went to certain people’s heads making them draw the most extraordinary conclusions.

The central animating idea was that any significant decision-making ought to take place in corporate boardrooms and not in government offices or national legislatures. A lot of people at the upper end of American society thought this, not just those in C Suites. But the more things change and the more they remain the same…. It’s men that command men with guns that rule.

Over on this side of the pond, a similar sentiment took hold where multitudes of ordinary people took severe exception to this notion that they count for nothing, that their needs and interests don’t matter, that they’re all racists and idiots and deplorable anyway, and according to the traditional right-ward side of the political spectrum, they ought to accept their diminished economic circumstances with smiling equanimity as good patriotic Americans. Because that’s what the market sez. Well, phooey to all that. 

Which places us where we’re at now. The whole globalism scheme was cockamamie from the start, with no economic sense behind it, with engorged corporate balance sheets looking like gigantic, bulging financial aneurysms ready to blow on the one hand and half the population that can’t make the rent on the other. Cockamamie or not, American Oligarchs and their Deep State errand boys are fully invested and are defending their newly found prerogatives tooth and nail. A good thirty years and more have been spent plus uncounted billions on this dispensation of things and no mere election and no one such as Trump is going to un-do it. Or even challenge it. 

But the system they’ve devised is barking mad…

If history is any guide, and it usually is, this won’t end well for American shot-callers that screwed up so massively, nor the nation-state that they purport to run. Events are out of their control, and to a great part of the American populace, they look ridiculous. And if they want to stay on top, they can’t afford to look ridiculous.

[3] Truth of the matter is that we really don’t know very much about anything. Can’t trust the MSM, can’t trust what websites say. What sources can we trust? So it’s very difficult to come to the truth. All we can do is hope we’ve found answers to the best of our ability. I’ve come to know about covid through people I’m acquainted with who’ve had the virus. I can tell you it’s not just a bad cold. It is much more severe and longer lasting. This I have seen with my own eyes. I’m familiar with long-lasting effects of a disease: 50 years ago I came down with mononucleosis. My doctor ran a blood test and confirmed it. For 3 weeks I was so tired I slept about 16-18 hours every day. After that, I wasn’t up to par for a whole year.

I was bummed out because I had planned to go backpacking through Europe for a year. I never did. The year before I camped out across America with 2 women. At that time I didn’t realize that would be my final wild and crazy trip.

Yes, images can be edited to make them look better. Probably that virus photo was. So what? Doesn’t mean the photo didn’t show the virus, it just looked better.

The world is changing. Overcrowding has remade civilization. Such overcrowding breeds diseases. I fully expect newer and more virulent diseases from now on. The so-called elite may be taking advantage of the covid situation, but extreme change will occur with or without them. The slope of the exponential graph of change is now at the point where it is very noticeable.

I focus on living for today because there’s an inevitability to what life will be like in the future, so why worry about something I have no power to affect?

[4] RE: An affront to nature: the hills of the Emerald Triangle were the perfect cover for outlaws. You could thrive in the black market behind the redwood curtain. But that was when unit prices were astronomical. Times have changed. Weed isn’t heroin or meth. Almost all of the problems are due to the price. So I find it laughable that the cannabis culture cries for equity and legalization while still hoping for those black market prices. Those same folks cry in protest about the destruction of redwood forests but then whine incessantly about the over-regulation of their industry. It’s just a plant, right? So it makes sense to grow it in traditional agricultural areas that have water…. not in the backwoods, steep forests where we want to preserve nature. But Mendo County citizens want to try to preserve that culture…..then you realize that they’re growing it in Oklahoma now!

[5] Who mentioned M80s? M80s are great and can do some damage but I’ll go one better ; I give you the M1000. A few years ago a neighbor showed up with a box of them after a trip down south, “Equal to a quarter stick of dynamite. And they sell them at the fireworks store off I-95 in SCarolina”. He wasn’t lying, M1000s are awe inspiring, delivering a bright flash the size of a small car, and a loud blast that you can feel in your chest +100 ft away. Every once in awhile I’d hear one going off on my neighbor’s property and found out he was using them to blow up stumps. (So M1000s aren’t just for fun, there are practical applications too) What happened to Cherry Bombs is a good question. I haven’t seen a good Cherry Bomb in awhile. 

[6] My local Habit a burger chain out of Santa Barbara has a sign on the door starting wages $16.75-$17.75 an hour.

This was considered a good head of household wage just twenty years ago.

The reality is these kids all expect $100k or no go.

I was talking to a fresh out of high school kid last week about working and his plan was to get a job at Chick-Fil-A long enough to qualify for unemployment and then get himself fired so he could go on unemployment to surf and travel. Great plan except so is everyone else.


[1] I’d make the argument that every single grow, legal or not, that exists in the SoHum hills is an insult to the environment. The natural state of things, wet year or dry, is that from May-October it’s dry, and the creeks and the rivers that sustain the fishery rely on what was banked in the aquifers in the winter. That spring doesn’t come from nowhere – it’s all part of the same system. Arguments about the wine producers or the hay farmers or whatever are straw-man BS and “whataboutism” / they don’t address the very real fact that our rivers are dry and water diversion plays a big part in that. I don’t care if it’s weed or tomatoes, agriculture doesn’t belong in the hills – it’s an affront to nature.

[2] So, by your reasoning, people shouldn’t be allowed to make a life in the mountains? Making a living, feeding your family, usually is going to take some water, whatever you are doing. Nature is great, and there are WAY too many people in the woods, I agree with that. But people need to live and use water responsibly. My solution- large water tank for winter storage.

[3] I’m not suggesting that the hills be depopulated, I’m saying that it isn’t the place for commercial agriculture. To whoever inferred that I want people from dry areas to move here – nope. In SoHum and much of Mendo we ARE dry areas – one of the worst-off places for water right now is Mendo. To whoever wanted to educate me about gravity, the Central Valley farms exist for 2 reasons: huge public investment in water infrastructure and wells. They’ve overused the wells without allowing them to recharge so much that the land is sinking. The huge water projects are dry, and the water-intensive crops such as almonds have sucked up much of what there was. The only reasons that LA, Vegas, and Phoenix exist is mass storage in the form of reservoirs and mass delivery systems – an affront to nature on a much larger scale. These have been sustainable to a point, if you don’t care about salmon or the salinization of the Sacramento delta, but that’s ending soon. The Colorado River has been so overdrawn for so long that it too dries up before it reaches the ocean. Lake Powell is one of the biggest man-made disasters on the planet. But back to our area, people can live modest and sustainable lives in the hills. And if you can “water bank” in the wet season with off-stream sources, and do so in a way that doesn’t tear up the land so that sedimentation becomes a problem, go for it. But how many of these huge grows are doing that? Few if any, since weed is so water intensive. Back to my first point – it IS an affront to nature to have commercial agriculture in the hills. The history of the west is the history of water.

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