Dry Breeze | 45 New Cases | Last 9 Deaths | AVHS 1959 | Dissing Cubbi | Hendy Grove | Booster Clinic | FB Baseballers | First Child | Mendocino Corner | Skatepark Fundraising | Hop Pickers | Leopoldo Melendez | Elk | JDSF Skirmishes | Mendo Stage | Ed Notes | Moon Man | Dem Standoff | Yesterday's Catch | Remember Everything | Insurance Office | 13 Ranchers | Hermit Treehouse | Student Absenteeism | Chin-Upped | Unvaxxed Employees | Trolling | Immunization Mandates
DRY WEATHER with above average afternoon temperatures are expected through the weekend. Locally breezy conditions are also expected through Friday, mainly over exposed ridges and coastal headlands. Next week temperatures will start to diminish and there is a chance of rain by the middle of next week. (NWS)
45 NEW COVID CASES and two more deaths reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
LAST TWO DEATHS
Mendocino County Public Health has been notified of 2 Mendocino County residents who have died from COVID-19. We send our condolences to all family and friends of the deceased.
- Death #83: 68 year-old man from Willits area; not vaccinated.
- Death #84: 86 year-old man from Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated; deceased 9/17
At this time Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to be careful around situations that carry a high risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially considering the more infectious Delta variant. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.
Seven Mendocino County residents passed away from COVID-19 during the week of September 19th-25th, 2021. We send our condolences to all family and friends of the deceased.
- Death #76: 96 year-old man from Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated.
- Death #77: 96 year-old man from Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated.
- Death #78: 66 year-old man from Ukiah area; not vaccinated.
- Death #79: 70 year-old woman from Covelo area; not vaccinated.
- Death #80: 79 year-old woman from Ukiah area; fully vaccinated.
- Death #81: 82 year-old woman from Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated;
- Death #82: 84 year-old woman from Fort Bragg area; fully vaccinated.
In light of this tragic week in Mendocino County, Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to think about the ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people (with Pfizer) over age 65 (or over age 50 with certain health conditions) should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster to improve immunity. Boosters should be given at least 6 months after completion of the initial Pfizer series. If you have questions about boosters, speak with your doctor, or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at:www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19
DON’T MESS WITH THE AUDITOR
by Mark Scaramella
Item 5b on Tuesday Supervisors Agenda was: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Extra Help Appointment of Lloyd Weer to Fulfill Critically Needed Duties After His Retirement, Pursuant to California Government Code Section 7522.56. (Sponsor: Auditor-Controller)"
After some petty gripes earlier in the day, the Board took the question again toward the end of Tuesday’s Board meeting. After some more petty gripes, Supervisor/Board Chair Dan Gjerde asked if Acting Auditor Chamise Cubbison had any more comments.
She did, and they were in the public interest and irrefutable.
Cubbison: I understand that you are prepared with a motion to make this happen. I am just incredibly frustrated with how this whole transition in the Auditor's office is being handled. You may have an issue with how and when the auditor left. That's between you and him, not me. I am the one left to hold things together and endeavor to maintain the critical functions of this office. It feels like my hands are tied behind my back. I seem to have a conflict with the board for reasons I do not honestly understand. Not a single board member has contacted me about any concerns about my performance as an employee of the County for the last 13 years, nor as the Assistant Auditor for the last three. There were several members of the community who reached out to you to support my appointment as Auditor and you declined to take any action based on old information based on issues the Auditor's office had with the District Attorney. I don't know if anyone noticed, but the legal opinion was obtained to support the District Attorney's position on asset forfeiture funds was obtained by the CEO from a colleague of the CEO. I don't know if anyone noticed that the legal opinion actually reaffirmed at the time that travel authorization was required for travel over $1000 as defined by Board policy. It included all costs of travel. And that travel had been denied for travel that was clearly over $1000 when you added all the cost of that travel together. Did anyone note that that travel policy was amended to accept the DA’s claim after all those things occurred and that all the issues brought up by the District Attorney were nearly all resolved? It's not always easy to be the one to explain why something is not possible and that the policy would need to change to allow somebody to do what they would like to do. Sometimes that includes the Board. That does not mean that I wasn't doing my job. It seems that the Board is of the opinion that they should be in control of the Auditor's office so that they can select when the policies apply and to whom and when. Without changing those requirements. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is with me. But I have performed my duties and I have been an exemplary employee. But it feels like you are obstructing me at every opportunity. I'm not sure if this is all about creating the Director of Finance and that's really what's happening. It could have been approached in a more respectful and honorable manner. I'm tired of feeling like I constantly have to defend myself and my job for trying to maintain these services and standards that the county departments, schools and special districts and the community expect. The workload on my shoulders and on some of my staff is unsustainable. It's ironic that yesterday the Board discussed the challenges and difficulties in finding and retaining employees. Talking about employee morale and that it would be a good idea to poll employees about working for the county, their satisfaction and what they need to be able to live and work in his community. The Board also discussed working with employees as ambassadors and encouraging people to want to work for the county. And yet nothing about this transition subsequent to the retirement of the Auditor-Controller has been handled to support those ideas. It's appalling how little support our office has received and how disrespectful this entire process has been. I have been a dedicated employee for more than 13 years. While you may see me differently because I now work in an elected office, I am and have been an excellent employee. My staff is incredibly dedicated. Some of us have not taken vacation for the last couple of years. We have been working incredible amounts of overtime with no appreciation or respect or allowance for what that is taking. Several employees are now fearful and angered for how little concern you seem to have for our success and are likely considering other employment. We live in this community. We work with every organization at all levels. We process every invoice and payment the County makes. We deal with every employee through payroll. And yet the Board seems to have no concern for our well-being. What kind of message are you sending for the other County employees or prospective employees? I was contacted by no less than 20 employees after the August 21 meeting to express their astonishment at how that item was handled. There are dozens of other county employees watching today. I have already been contacted by five of them. Again, they are all angered at how this morning session went. I implore you to do the right thing today and find additional ways to be helpful and supportive rather than obstructionist because that is not looking out for the County organization or your employees or your constituents. I appreciate that you are allowing this to happen. But I would appreciate it if you didn't make it sound like it was a huge favor and somehow the fact that Lloyd Weer has not been completely cut out of the system is somehow a problem. I asked for this item be brought forward on on August 31. I was told at County Counsel's recommendation that it was supposed to be scheduled at the next board meeting. It did not get on the next board meeting as I had requested as part of my request to the CEO’s office for support during this transition. So it was not a good process to turn everything off and deny him access and stop the closing of the financial statements entirely until we brought him back on the books. So I'm sorry. But that was not appropriate. I was contacted by William [Schurtz, Human Resources Director] on my day off on Friday, the first day I had taken off since Christmas and we will rectify that. But I would like to keep him on the books as it is not a good transition to have to turn everything off and then turn everything back on. I would really appreciate it if we would receive some support to move forward. I was not aware that an item was coming forward on October 26 to discuss the Director of Finance. I would appreciate it if some people would talk to the offices that might be impacted and involved in that. Thank you.
Supervisor Glenn McGourty: I'm sorry that you feel like you are disenfranchised in this discussion. But quite honestly there really hasn't been any discussion [of the Finance Director]. That is something that is an opportunity with the retirement. With the strategic plan going on. So this is not like anyone had been planning anything behind your back. We are just trying to figure out what we do next. I want to assure you that I am supportive of you as I noted in my discussion this morning. I said it was pretty routine in educational institutions to bring people back. I hope that you understand that there is not a monolith against you and we are supportive and we do care about you and we care about all of our employees. I know there is some disappointment on your part. But this is an opportunity for us to pause and not do business as usual. And that's what this issue is really about. No decisions have been made yet. I just wanted to express that so you understand.
Cubbison: I appreciate that, Supervisor McGourty. But I beg to differ. There are no tasks in this office that can afford to pause during this transition. Perhaps that's the reason I was not given the appointment, but the appointment would have allowed me to carry out the duties and would have allowed me to attract some employees to this office. But now it's in a state of flux and transition and it's difficult to encourage people to want to work in an office that appears to be possibly in some type of transition and nobody knows where they will end up. But the tasks that this office has to perform cannot pause. We cannot stop the level of work that we are trying to accomplish with the property tax system being implemented and trying to get tax bills out over the next two weeks, along with the huge finance system upgrade. Those tasks cannot afford to be paused. They need to be achieved or there will be consequences to the organization.
* * *
The Board then grudgingly voted 3-2 in favor of approving $12k for Mr. Weer’s assistance during the transition, Supervisors Gjerde and Williams dissented, having complained earlier about some arcane state law that discourages hiring retired people back too soon and requires a Board vote to do so. They had also complained that Ms. Cubbison shouldn’t need the extra help since she’s been Assistant Auditor for three years now. Ms. Cubbison said that that Mr. Weer had decided to retire somewhat unexpectedly and that she didn't have any control over the timing and certain information and processes that are now underway require his background knowledge and assistance.
ED NOTE: Ms. Cubbison deserves five-star credit for standing up to the Board, the CEO, and the DA like she has, now suffering insult from them for the crime of guarding the public purse. And we agree with her that the Auditor’s office has more than the usual workload currently because of the County’s long-delayed property tax system upgrade, along with the other tasks for this time of year. We further agree that this exchange demonstrates why the Auditor and Tax Collector positions should not be combined and put under the thumb of a weak Board of Supervisors and a tyrannical CEO. That’s a formula for major fiscal mischief that the people who set up those independent elected offices specifically were trying to prevent. If anyone messes with the Auditor or her office the AVA promises all-out war. PS. Gjerde and Williams' weasely (and suspect) references to state law are simply disgraceful.
ANOTHER OLD LOCAL POSTCARD from ebay (via Marshall Newman)
AV BOOSTER CLINIC
AVHC will be holding a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic on Wednesday October 6th from 2:30-5pm at Anderson Valley High School. If you received your second dose Pfizer vaccine from us from January - April 8th, and are eligible please come to Anderson Valley High School for a drive thru clinic. See CDC recommendations below. You must bring your vaccine card and have received your second dose Pfizer more than 6 months ago. Thanks!
- People 65+ years old
- People 18-64 with underlying medical conditions
- People 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupation or institutional setting.
Contact the AV Health Center for more info: (707) 895-3477
MENDOCINO COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS REPORT FIRST CHILD HOSPITALIZED FOR COVID-19
by Martin Espinoza
Mendocino County Health Officer Andrew Coren said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the county’s first hospitalization of a child, even as virus transmission continues to decrease.
“Recently we’ve seen our first pediatric case in a local hospital,” Coren said Tuesday, during a COVID-19 update to county supervisors.
Coren, who provided no other information about the child who was recently hospitalized, noted that despite the availability of effective vaccines, Mendocino County has seen more hospitalizations this summer than was experienced during the winter surge.
He also said unvaccinated residents ending up in the hospital are much younger than those who get infected after their inoculation.
Coren said the average age of unvaccinated people who have died of COVID-19 complications is 68. By comparison, he said the average age of vaccinated residents who succumbed to the disease is 95, with significantly more underlying health problems.
“While some vaccinated people have caught COVID and some have passed away, the vast majority of overall of severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among those who have not been vaccinated,” Coren said.
Coren said the pandemic has claimed a total of 82 lives in Mendocino County, with 13 deaths occurring in the past two weeks. Eight of these recent deaths resulted from outbreaks at two nursing homes, each of which had “low staff vaccination rates.“
“In those skilled nursing facilities, the staff who tested positive, were predominantly unvaccinated,” Coren said. “While the surge in Northern California is affecting predominantly the unvaccinated at a rate of 10 to 1, it is also having fatal consequences on those who are vaccinated and vulnerable … in contact with the unvaccinated caregivers.”
In Sonoma County, health officials on Wednesday reported two more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the pandemic fatality total to 386. The two deaths were among two unvaccinated individuals with underlying health problems; a man between 60 and 70 who died in a local hospital Sept. 16 and a woman 40 to 50 who died in a local hospital on Sept. 18.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CAN ANYONE identify this Mendocino street corner?
MONTE RIO SKATEPARK EXPANSION FUNDRAISER
Contact Person - Jason Cool (707) 889-1599
by Oaky Joe Munson
What is happening - there will be a fundraiser to expand the monte rio skatepark, hopefully, to put in a big pool bowl (9 ft). There will be music at the amphitheater with local bands, beer garden, and many vendors selling clothes, skate equipment, and food!! GOAL: $15,000 but would help to have much more.
Date- October 16th, 2021
Time- 10:00 am- 6:00 pm (skate competition starts at 12:00pm)
Place- Monte Rio skatepark and amphitheater
Cost if any- Suggested donation but no cost to enter competition or attend the event.
Fundraiser and competition! October 16th! Starts at noon, sign up online or on the day of the competition.
My wife Ako and I could not be more proud of our two children! Milo and Millie both have black belts in Aikido and have studied Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, and Muay Thai. We had to give up the martial arts academy about two years ago, so we started looking at other things to do. Paul Comish Jr. says “Milo, you should try out my skateboard, there is a skatepark in Monte Rio."
So here we are 2 years later and improving every day. Millie watched Milo and I leave to go to the skatepark every day for a year and then said “Skateboarding must be really fun.”. Milo says “ Yep”. Millie has been skateboarding for just over a year (almost every day).
The Monte Rio Creekside skateboard park is our favorite hands down! There are other really good places to skate, Such as the Laguna skate park in Sebastopol, the Napa skatepark, and the Sacramento skatepark!! They just don’t have the chill vibes and beautiful surroundings that you find in Monte Rio. Every time a skateboard or cell phone or anything else of value is forgotten at the park it is handed over to Danny and returned to the owner whenever they come back.
Our skate park was originally designed to include a pool. The pool has already been designed, blueprinted, and approved by the county. That is a huge thing! All we have to do is get the funds and build it! Milo took a survey of about 25 Monte Rio local skateboarders including about 10 children AND THE SURVEY SAYS build a big bowl. If you didn’t know the Monte Rio Recreation and Park district has $65,000 in grant money for the skateboard park. We (the skateboard community) have been asked to match, I believe 20% ($13,000). Thus, a fundraiser! This money has to be raised by December 31st, 2021 (2 1/2 months) come out and have fun with us! We will have extra helmets and skateboards available for free!
Now A Word From Our Sponsors
1. Amanda Knoodle: “Send Millie and Milo up and I’ll hook them up with merchandise.” From Willits
2. Dean Gotham VP Vietnam Veterans of California: “Hey Joe, who do I make the check out to?” From Lakeport
3. Brotherhood Board Shop: “We want to support the Monte Rio Skatepark expansion to whatever level you guys want”. From Santa Rosa
4. James Hirsh: “I am proud and excited for Milo and his epic project, I am going to fly out and want to donate.” From New York
5. River Theater, Jerry Knight says: “Want to do a live broadcast?” Guerneville
6. Other sponsors include Bones Wheels, OJ’s Wheels, Santa Cruz Skateboards, Independent Trucks, Bohemian Market, Wizardsky MKTG.
This is exciting and dramatic for Milo and Millie and I’m sure everyone else has been involved. Something positive, upbeat, and constructive! I personally can’t think of anything cooler than this, except for maybe Jason Cool? Milo, what do you think? I think that it is great that we have all of these awesome people sponsoring and donating all of this to us. I am also glad that we got a response and feedback from all of our big sponsors. We really appreciate everybody that is sponsoring, donating, and helping us with this project. It is going to be challenging but we will get it done! Thank you.
Before we were starting the skateboard competition at 3 p.m. but Kenny Reed is concerned that 3 pm is too late in the day so we changed it to noon. Music all day at the amphitheater.
PS. Does anyone know the one-legged man from The music festival earlier this summer at the amphitheater He said “Milo you are doing very cool stuff here and I’m going to help you out”? this man won a raffle prize at the music festival, we still don’t know who this person is ( mystery and intrigue)!
Thanks Amie. The Munson Family
LAKE COUNTY MURDER VICTIM IDENTIFIED AFTER 45 YEARS
On November 28, 1976, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report regarding human remains located in a heavily wooded area near Highway 29, in Lower Lake. Throughout the investigation, it was determined the death was a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head. Despite exhaustive investigative efforts, the victim was never identified. The victim’s identity remained a mystery.
In January 2007, the victim’s skull and teeth were sent to the California Department of Justice for analysis. In December 2007, a partial DNA profile was uploaded to the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS). Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s Office never received a match due to the degradation of the bone and the victim’s DNA likely not being in CODIS.
In January 2020, Detective Jeff Mora requested assistance from Parabon Nanolabs, which is a DNA technology company, regarding the possibility of identifying the decedent through investigative genetic genealogy.
In August 2020, the victim’s remains were sent to Marshall University Forensic Science Center, in West Virginia. A DNA sample was extracted from the victim’s skull, which was suitable for genetic genealogy.
In June 2021, Parabon Nanolabs delivered a genetic genealogy report. The report listed possible matches for the victim and a list of family members to contact. After numerous family interviews, the victim was believed to be Leopoldo Torres Melendez, who was born in Puerto Rico.
Leopoldo was mentioned in the genetic genealogy report as a potential match. An oral swab was obtained from a family member who identified themselves as Leopoldo’s biological sister. The swab was sent to the California Department of Justice to be compared to the DNA extracted from the victim’s skull.
In August 2021, the DNA results confirmed the family member was in fact the biological sister of the victim. Based on the totality of the evidence, the Sheriff’s Office was able to positively identify the victim as Leopoldo and notify his family. Through interviews with the family, it was discovered that Leopoldo was believed to have gone missing in the early 1970’s. He would have been approximately 41 years old at the time of his death and was last known to live in the San Francisco area. Family members searched for Leopoldo, but were never able to figure out what happened to him until now.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Parabon Nanolabs, Marshall University Forensic Science Center, and the California Department of Justice for their assistance.
The Sheriff’s Office will continue this investigation and we hope to have provided a sense of closure to the family. Obviously this investigation is old and the suspect(s) are likely elderly or deceased. If anyone believes they have information regarding this case, please contact Detective Jeff Mora by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 707-262-4224.
Lake County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Corey Paulich, Lake County Public Information Officer
FALL OFFENSIVE KICKS OFF IN JACKSON STATE
New Protests Spring Up in Jackson Demonstration State Forest Logging Halted Again
Redwood Nation Earth First!, Mama Tree Network
by Michelle McMillan
Citizens are out in force this week in Jackson Demonstration State Forests (JDSF), despite the rain, monitoring timber harvesting operations in the 50,000 acre multi-use public forest and stopping them, risking arrest in their quest to maintain a “Peoples’ Moratorium” in effect since mid-June. Calfire “paused” logging operations in the Caspar 500 timber harvest plan (THP), site of the now famous hundred year old redwood “Mama Tree”, after protectors nonviolently confronted loggers during tree falling. Since then, operations on all THPs in Jackson have been halted by forest protectors’ physical presence on active plans.
Road blocks were placed in three locations before dawn on Monday and Tuesday to prevent entry into Soda Gulch, after citizen monitors discovered road building and tree falling commencing there. A woman locked into a steel device flanked by supporters at Road 111, leading from highway 20 into the THP said, “No one should be using this road”. Logging had begun but was stopped by mid-morning after protectors arrived on site.
Road 111 has over fifty ‘map points’ requiring repair and is a “mess”, says long time forest observer and Albion resident Linda Perkins. “It was built by Jackson when they were logging the residual old growth in the area. It was badly built - by bulldozers - over extremely unstable slopes and has now, for decades, been badly maintained. At this point, repairing it requires so much dirt moving that the 'fixes' may actually create more impacts to the streams than they will fix. Instead of these attempts at reconstruction, this road needs to be abandoned.”
The engineering geologist’s report for the California Geological Survey noted that, due to large amounts of fill in the channel upstream, the stream morphology was “somewhat deranged [sic].”
Located west of Willits and about three hours north of San Francisco, THP 1-20-00041 MEN aka Soda Gulch, is one of six plans activists are watching closely in Jackson to protect dwindling stands of mature second growth redwood and hardwoods threatened by herbicides in addition to Sudden Oak Death. The 440 acre plan is considered egregious for its poor roads and proposed massive herbicide use that activists say is unfortunately typical of JDSF’s poor management at taxpayers’ expense.
Jackson Forest stretches some twenty miles along both sides of Highway 20 between Willits and Ft. Bragg. Tourism and recreation now bring in six times more revenue than timber sales, most of which is recycled into Calfire’s JDSF management and fire fighting budget.
Herbicide treatment is expected to kill 90% of the tanoak trees up to 12” in diameter on 110 acres, comprising almost a quarter of the THP, mostly by injecting Imazapyr into the trunks through a gash in the bark. Larger hardwoods may also be destroyed. The ubiquitous method known as “hack and squirt” causes an explosion of unregulated cell growth that slowly kills the trees, leaving many dead and standing, constituting a fire hazard.
Repeated herbicide applications may occur at anytime for years. Once a staple of Indigenous nutrition, tan oak acorns are still a vital food source for wildlife and an integral part of the native landscape. 1947 photographs looked up by the plan’s Registered Professional Forester, Kirk O’Dwyer, show “a substantial hardwood presence, visible in areas between the [Old Growth] conifer overstory”. Traditionally, Pomo and Yuki peoples planted and tended tan oak “orchards” to sustain themselves, of which these imperiled groves may be remnants.
The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest is calling for a moratorium on logging activities in JDSF, based on the contention that the forest is being so badly managed and is out of touch with current realities of climate change, the need to sequester carbon and to respect Native American heritage, as to require a total repurposing of its mission as a 50,000 acre Reserve.
FROM SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: “Saturday: Took a walk on the Great Redwood Trail with my daughter and the stroller gang. Love to see people out using the trail. There was a family with several small children and they were so happy to be able to be running and the giggles were adorable. If you haven't yet walked on the rail trail (four years later there are still a lot of misconceptions) I'm happy to walk with you or you can join our Facebook page and find a walking partner.”
ED NOTE: ”Misconceptions?” Me luv? A coupla miles of paved path through Ukiah's industrial backyards for $5 million? Delusions aside, I'll walk the Bum Trail with you, Mo, promise. I'll even bring this Ansel Adams photo I've got of a giant redwood, and as we gaze at it we can pretend we're strolling down (assuming we're southbound) McGuire's Great Redwood Trail, sharing our ambulatory fantasy that it's virgin forest, the two of us at the dawn of a great outdoor adventure.
WHEN TOMMY WAYNE KRAMER told me he was going bi-coastal, and thinking about giving up his column, I ran to my ever-expanding glossary of sexual options. Was bi-coastal some sort of geographic gender-bender? Nope. In TWK's case it means living in two places, half a year there, half a year here. As for retiring his column, I'm relieved the guy has re-considered. Why? Because, and not to put too fine a point on it, without his dissent, Mendocino County, intellectually, is like treading water in a giant vat of lukewarm piss, a county-wide blanket of illiberal liberalism not far from purple totalitarianism, a fact confirmed by even the briefest glance at the ration of helping Mendo professionals to persons helped. (Hint, it's 3-1. Guess who's got the three?) Without going off on the simple souls calling themselves Free Speech Radio Mendo — same people doing the same thing and no dissent ever going on 35 years — there are only three places in Mendocino County where you'll find a bracing deviation from Democratic Party-think, that suffocatingly smug pretense that Pelosi, Schumer, and the interchangeable three amigos, Huffman, McGuire and Wood, represent the way forward. The noble three? Jim Shields at the Mendocino Observer; TWK in the UDJ; and, well, shucks. On-line, Kym Kemp's website out of Garberville consistently pumps blasts of oxygen into the braindead county to its south but otherwise it's — uh oh, here comes modesty forbidding again — it's Shields, the ava, and Tommy Wayne.
SHASTA COUNTY'S DA got a big blast of woof-woof publicity this week for suing PG&E. Ho bleeping hum. Suing a can't miss target like our power monopoly is good if it gets its thousand of victims enough money to re-start their burnt-out lives, but the only way to get anything resembling reform outta the management suites is to physically arrest the shot-callers and prosecute them personally, keeping them in the nearest county jail on no-bail holds while they await trial.
A THOUSAND barn sales later, the new St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church has begun to rise on the site set aside for it many years ago on a modest parcel between Highway 128 and Anderson Valley Way. I wish the late Eva Holcomb was here to see the beginning of the construction. No one was more devoted to raising the money for the new church, but it's been years of selfless effort by lots of people, not all of them Catholics.
WATCHING THE BBC NEWS on the German elections we joked about the diff between the German Green Party and its American cousins. The German Greens are articulate and thoroughly presentable. A spokesperson for American Greens, on the off chance he gets before a national news camera, might be sporting a propeller beanie with joints stuck behind both ears. But parliamentary systems do include everyone. You've got the whole range of political opinion represented from, in Germany anyway, communists, socialists, libs divided among thrifty libs and spendy, social floor libs, greens, mushy liberal conservatives like the crafty, effective and humane Merkel, all the way on the right to a party of nascent nazis. Here, the nascent nazis elected a president and might elect him again if the cheeseburgers don't get him before he waddles forth for another try at the big office. Fey libs have the Democratic Party and Poor Old Joe, as clear a case of elder abuse we've seen on national television. Anybody to the left of the Democrats is basically unrepresented except kinda by Bernie and AOC. In Germany, the minority parties get their say through power-sharing. Here, unless you happen to believe that Democrats aren't funded by the same people as Republicans, you have a choice between Chuck Schumer and Poor Old Joe and the orange whale, meaning the average person, certainly the average working person is not represented anywhere by anybody. Working people who believe Trump is with them are delusional, pathetic even. Believing Democrats think they've got a shot at lunch with Gavin at the French Laundry and, in their way, are as delusional as the Trumpers.
HUFFMAN AND ALLIED DEMOCRATS TAKE STAND THAT COULD CANCEL $1 TRILLION INFRASTRUCTURE BILL
by Guy Kovner
A progressive group of Democrats in Congress, including North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, is ready to vote down the Senate’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill if it comes to a floor vote Thursday.
The standoff between Democrats over an economic initiative that could define President Joe Biden’s first term is one of several overlapping legislative battles dominating discussions on Capitol Hill and at the White House this week. The other is the race to avert a government shutdown — as key agencies and programs are set to shutter Friday without a temporary funding measure.
Speaking Wednesday about the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, Huffman, D-San Rafael, one of 96 members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said it would be “really counterproductive to hold that vote” on the Thursday deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
With 50 or more members, mostly from the progressive caucus, poised to vote against the bill as a standalone measure, Huffman said that “puts you deep in a hole” when Democrats have a mere four-member House majority.
“I don’t have any doubt” it would fail, he said, calling the prospect of a Thursday vote “a strategic mistake.”
Democrats generally support the infrastructure bill, which includes major new investments in the country's aging roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. But the proposal has become a critical political bargaining chip for liberal-leaning lawmakers, who have threatened to scuttle it to preserve the breadth of a second, approximately $3.5 trillion economic package — one that moderates, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., want to scale back.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, Sonoma County’s senior member of Congress, said Wednesday that House and Senate leaders and President Biden are “trying to put a reasonable and responsible plan forward” to pass both bills.
“Some of my colleagues are insistent that we do them both together,” he said, noting that progressives are “pretty adamant” about approval of the pending $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.
“I think it’s important to note that things are pretty fluid now,” Thompson said, adding that he sees “flexibility” in the voting deadline.
Thompson, a 22-year House veteran, is a close associate of Pelosi, a San Francisan, and a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a centrist group of representatives.
Since June, the Progressive Caucus has insisted that the bipartisan infrastructure bill — approved by Senate on a 69-30 vote in August — must be considered in the House along with the Build Back Better Act, a 10-year spending plan considered the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.
“The two are integrally tied together,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said in September, describing the act’s provisions, with investments child care, affordable housing, education and climate action, “what we all promised voters” in the 2020 election.
“Some people are making this more difficult than it needs to be,” Thompson, adding that he was not pinning it on the progressives and noting that some Republicans have dropped their support for the infrastructure bill.
“I’m not singling out anybody,” he said. “We need to get both things done.”
Huffman said that Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had initially agreed that both infrastructure bills would move together, but a “rump group” of Blue Dogs recently moved to “decouple” the pair and vote first on the Senate bill.
Thompson was not part the group and opposed the strategy, an aide said.
Both lawmakers faulted the Senate infrastructure bill for lacking adequate investment in climate-related programs. Thompson said the bill includes millions of dollars for broadband expansion, wildfire prevention and expansion of electric vehicle charging stations in California, but “is not the bill we wrote in the House and it’s not the bill I would have written.”
“It’s a lousy bill,” Huffman said.
If the House passes it, the Senate bill becomes law, which Huffman said would undermine the progressives’ position in negotiations with Senate leaders and Sens. Manchin and Sinema over provisions in the Build Back Better Act, also known as the human infrastructure bill.
Manchin and Sinema, who are uncomfortable with the measure’s $3.5 trillion cost, are considered key votes Democrats need to pass legislation in the Senate, split 50-50 along party lines.
The act includes social safety net programs and a clean electricity program with incentives and penalties aimed at getting utilities to phase out fossil fuels, Huffman said.
The way the two bills are handled is “primarily a difference over tactics,” he said. “At a moment like this, tactics are important.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 29, 2021
DAVINA GURLEY, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, vandalism.
DOUGLAS GURLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear.
LUIS MANZO-GARCIA, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
ANTONIO MUNOZ, Redwood Valley. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
ROLANDO RUIZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, smuggling controlled substance into jail, concealed dirk-dagger, failure to appear, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER SWIFT, Ukiah. Domestic battery, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.
LYDELL WILLIAMS, Covelo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
I REMEMBER EVERYTHING
I’ve been down this road before
I remember every tree
Every single blade of grass
Holds a special place for me
And I remember every town
And every hotel room
And every song I ever sang
On a guitar out of tune
I remember everything
Things I can’t forget
The way you turned and smiled on me
On the night that we first met
And I remember every night
Your ocean eyes of blue
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew
I’ve been down this road before
Alone as I can be
Careful not to let my past
Go sneaking up on me
Got no future in my happiness
Though regrets are very few
Sometimes a little tenderness
Was the best that I could do
I remember everything
Things I can’t forget
Swimming pools of butterflies
That slipped right through the net
And I remember every night
Your ocean eyes of blue
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew
— John Prine and Pat McLaughlin
(“I Remember Everything” was Prine’s last original song, recorded in 2019 and released two months after his death in April 2020.)
HOW THE PARK SERVICE SOLD OUT POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE TO THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY
by Erik Molvar
Thirteen ranchers won a sweeping victory this week, defeating the interests of three million annual visitors to Point Reyes National Seashore, by securing a plan amendment that extends their commercial livestock operations on Park lands for at least 20 years. The plan amendment – the first epic public lands fail by the nascent Biden administration – sells out native ecosystems, rare wildlife, and the beachgoing public. The plan extends beef and dairy operations well beyond the terms well Congressional intention for the Seashore’s establishment in 1978, which prescribed livestock leases for “a definite term of not more than twenty-five years, or, in lieu thereof, for a term ending at the death of the owner or the death of his or her spouse, whichever is later.”
Let’s call it the Point Reyes National Scandal.
With its decision, the National Park Service perpetuates the following 12 environmental problems, indeed enshrines them in future park management. The Park Service ignores the overwhelming proportion of public comments urging the agency to solve each one by the simple act of ending the leasing of Park Service lands for commercial agriculture. Each one of the following major problems, by itself, presents sufficient cause to compel the Park Service to end commercial ranching on Point Reyes National Seashore for good.
1. Harassing and killing the rare tule elk. For decades, the Park Service and ranchers leasing National Seashore lands have harassed and killed tule elk, because they view these native wildlife as competing with livestock for forage. Ranchers build cattle fences taller than necessary to keep the native herbivores off public lands, and these pasture fences entangle elk, sometimes maiming or killing them. When the elk manage to get past these migration barriers, ranchers chase them off with ATVs. The Park Service will even go so far as to kill the elk under the plan if they repeatedly try to return to their natural habitats presently leased for cattle ranching. Thus, the new General Management Plan makes harassment and killing of tule elk the official government policy.
2. Blocking natural migrations and recovery of tule elk populations. The main tule elk population on the Seashore is imprisoned behind an 8-foot-tall fence on a narrow spit of land called Tomales Point, which is known to have soils deficient in key nutrients and inadequate fresh water to sustain the elk. The Tomales Point vegetation, growing on nutrient-deficient soils, is insufficient to sustain the herd when droughts hit. As a consequence, every five years or so, there is a major elk die-off where hundreds of these charismatic animals perish, and all because they are not allowed the freedom to migrate naturally to lands which have the water and forage they need to survive. The new plan extends the life of this fence, instead of doing the ecologically responsible thing and tearing it down. It is unprecedented for a Park Service unit to artificially confine native wildlife and restrict their natural movements for any reason, let alone to perpetuate commercial livestock operations.
3. Polluting streams and causing a public health menace. Cattle pump out huge quantities of urine and feces each day. Much of it washes straight into the waterways of Point Reyes National Seashore, creating fecal coliform pollution levels that violate the Clean Water Act in streams and estuaries on popular recreational beaches. Kehoe Creek, which drains into one of the most heavily-visited beaches on the National Seashore, is also known to be one of California’s most-polluted waterways based on Clean Water Act standards, and it’s all because of the livestock. Estuaries have occasionally become so polluted by cattle effluent that they are closed due to public health hazards. The new plan amendment includes only token measures to address these problems, and do not guarantee event the basic level of compliance required by federal law.
4. Destroying native ecosystems. Point Reyes National Seashore is home to some of the last remnants of rare California coastal prairie, but livestock operations have completely destroyed these native ecosystems on grazed pastures. The festering clumps of invasive thistles and poison hemlock are an obvious contagion on the land, readily visible to the casual observer. But most people don’t realize that the grasses growing between them are invasive weeds as well – European annual grasses that have replaced the native perennial bunchgrass and shrubs that belong here. In addition, the plants grown as “silage” on the National Seashore to feed the cattle also are invasive weeds that have escaped cultivation and now are spreading and proliferating into the less-intensively impacted parts of the park. Instead of plant communities of native perennial bunchgrass that support rare and imperiled plants and wildlife like the Sonoma spineflower, Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly, and California red-legged frog, the agriculture industry hasturned tens of thousands of acres of public land into a biological desert.
5. Spreading zoonotic diseases. The cattle herds on Point Reyes National Seashore are known to be carriers of a bacterium that causes Johne’s disease, a livestock disease that also infects native wildlife and humans. In humans, the bacterium that causes Johne’s disease is known to cause Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and colon cancer in humans. Johne’s causes gastrointestinal problems that can prove fatal in elk. The Park Service has, at times, tested the tule elk for Johne’s by killing the animals and sampling their carcasses, but it has never required the testing and culling of infected domestic cattle. As a result, cattle on Point Reyes serve as a reservoir for disease pathogens, triggering ongoing disease outbreaks and risking human health. After all that we’ve learned lately from COVID-19 about the dangers of animal-borne diseases, you would think the Park Service (and the Biden administration) would know better.
6. Worsening climate impacts. Cattle are ruminants that belch massive quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, but that’s not their biggest climate impact. Heavy cattle grazing on Point Reyes National Seashore converts native grasslands and shrublands to annual weeds. Perennial grasses have deep roots, and live for many years to develop dense networks of roots that not only store carbon themselves, but also exude carbon compounds into the soil. Woody shrubs are also major assets for carbon storage. Annual weeds, on the other hand, die every year, giving up their carbon to decomposition. In addition, tons of hay need to be trucked in to feed the overabundance of cattle, worsening the carbon footprint of the Seashore. Add in the major atmospheric carbon inputs from all that manure, and you’ve got a carbon bomb going off on the National Seashore, instead of healthy plant communities that pull carbon out of the atmosphere.
7. Subsidizing avian predators. Livestock operations lead to unnaturally high population densities of ravens. Ravens are a significant nest predator on ground-nesting birds. The endangered snowy plover finds some of its best remaining nesting dune habitat at the National Seashore but efforts to recover this rare bird are set back by unnaturally high concentrations of ravens raiding their nests to take the eggs. It’s not the ravens’ fault, it’s the Park Service’s fault for extending the concentrated cattle production that results in high numbers of hungry ravens.
8. Blocking public access to public lands. The ranchers who lease Park Service lands for their cattle on act like they own the place. They treat park visitors like trespassers, even though National Seashore lands are supposed to all be open to public use and enjoyment. Sometimes, the ranchers even harass park visitors attempting to recreate on these public lands. In addition, there are over 300 miles of barbed-wire fence and electric fence on Point Reyes National Seashore and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area, fencing out hikers and wildlife watchers.
9. Spreading liquified manure on public lands. By continuing to authorize liquified manure spreading on 1,800 acres of National Seashore, the Park Service is managing this special place like an open sewer. Each cow produces 14 gallons of feces and urine each day. The new plan authorizes upwards of 4,825 cattle to graze on the National Seashore. That’s 7 million gallons of urine and feces produced on Point Reyes every year, the equivalent to the sewage output of a city of 45,000 people. The livestock waste has to go somewhere. Some of it is sprinkled over the land, draining into streams and estuaries. At the dairies, it is liquified, stored in lagoons, then pumped into tanker trucks and spread out over the landscape in concentrated form. It’s a disgusting way to treat a National Seashore.
10. Authorizing row crop cultivation on Park Service lands. The new plan authorizes livestock producers to plow up 167 acres of National Seashore land to plant row crops – called ‘silage’ – to feed their cattle, because cattle authorizations on Point Reyes National Seashore far exceed the available forage. The crops planted for cattle fodder are European mustard and wild radish, two non-native weeds that already escape from silage fields and invade surrounding ecosystems. In addition, silage fields act as an “attractive sink” for wildlife, drawing them in to be killed by combine harvesters. Graphic videos show ravens flocking behind the harvesters to scavenge killed and maimed ground-nesting birds, and show coyotes making off with mangled deer fawns that sought cover in the tall vegetation of the silage fields only to be mowed down at harvest time.
11. Frustrating the recovery of salmon and steelhead runs. There are several streams on Point Reyes National Seashore known to provide spawning habitat for imperiled migratory populations of coho salmon and steelhead. At the National Seashore, livestock are the single biggest threat to the recovery of these species, contributing to erosion and siltation that chokes in-stream spawning gravels and impairs the survival of salmon and steelhead eggs. Getting rid of the cows would improve the spawning gravels and promote the recovery of streamside vegetation (and therefore woody debris for in-stream fish cover), fostering the recovery of these dwindling populations of migratory fishes.
12. Extending cattle leases from 5 years to 20 years. What makes this National Seashore plan such a giant gift to the livestock industry, and a giant slap in the face for the vast majority of the public who opposed any cattle on the National Seashore, is that the Park Service is now locking in livestock operations on Park Service lands in 20-year increments. Industrial-scale livestock production doesn’t belong on a National Seashore. These lands were purchased from willing sellers in the 1960s and 1970s, with the understanding that the lease transition period would last no more than 25 years or the life of the owners. Such long leases give the public little opportunity to weigh in on environmental reviews and limit opportunities to change management.
In the final analysis, the Biden Administration’s decision for Point Reyes National Seashore is little more than the Trump plan with a few minor tweaks that cannot mask the dirty dozen environmental problems listed above. Each problem so severe and outrageous that responsible Park Service leadership would have shut livestock operations down years ago. The new plan still authorizes native tule elk to be hazed – and even killed – to suit the whims of cattle operations. It keeps the ecologically indefensible concentration fence up on Tomales Point, preventing the vast majority of the park’s elk from migrating freely and moving to more suitable habitats when water holes dry up and forage is insufficient. It prolongs the practice of plowing up native grasslands to produce invasive crops to feed the cattle, leading to more butchery of ground-nesting birds and deer fawns every time the fields are harvested with a combine. It continues the practice of liquifying millions of gallons of manure and spreading them on Park Service lands. And most significantly, it exchanges 5-year leases for livestock production for 20-year leases, prolonging the degradation of park lands and resources to the detriment of wildlife and public recreation. In effect, the new plan is worse than the old plan.
It’s as if the Park Service is asking for a lawsuit.
(Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist and is the Laramie, Wyoming-based Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife on western public lands. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
SCHOOL ABSENTEEISM RATE SURGING
by Carolyn Jones, EdSource
A month into in-person learning for most California schools, some districts are reporting soaring rates of absenteeism due to stay-at-home quarantines, fear of COVID-19 and general disengagement from school.
Even districts like Elk Grove and Long Beach that had relatively high attendance before Covid have seen big increases in chronic absenteeism — students who have missed more than 10 percent of school days.
“It’s very concerning. We need to pay close attention to these students,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a nonprofit aimed at boosting school attendance. “Not only are they missing out on opportunities to connect with their peers, but they’re missing valuable classroom time to help them recover from learning loss from the previous year.”
The California Department of Education has not yet released statewide attendance data for the 2021-22 school year, but some school districts reported their attendance rates to EdSource. Oakland Unified posts its attendance publicly.
Stockton Unified said that so far, 39 percent of its students have been chronically absent, more than double the rate two years ago. The district’s truancy outreach workers are visiting up to 60 homes a day, offering incentives like prizes and backpacks, to encourage students to come to school.
Oakland Unified reported that almost 33 percent of students were chronically absent as of mid-September. Among transitional kindergartners to fifth-graders, the rate was higher than 37 percent. Two years ago, only 14 percent in that age group were chronically absent.
Elk Grove Unified, outside Sacramento, reported that more than 26 percent of its students have been chronically absent since school started, nearly three times the rate two years ago.
Long Beach Unified hasn’t compiled its chronic absenteeism data yet, but administrators expect it to be high. The attendance rate — the percentage of enrolled students who show up for school every day — has fallen to 91 percent, down from almost 96 percent two years ago. That translates to about 4,000 fewer students showing up for school every day.
Schools receive funding based on their average daily attendance, so they have a financial incentive to keep students in class. Drops in attendance this year would affect districts’ funding in the 2022-23 school year.
In the spring, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 86, urging all schools to reopen for in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, with an option for independent study in some cases. Independent study has been one reason for high levels of absenteeism. Students who are enrolled in long-term independent study still must log on every day and complete their work or the district may mark them absent. Likewise, students who are home for a few days while they’re sick or in quarantine must also complete their schoolwork, or they’ll be marked absent.
Students in quarantine make up the bulk of absences, Chang said, but not all. Some students are skipping school because of lingering mental health or behavior challenges, while others are afraid of contracting Covid. Some have gotten out of the habit of daily school attendance or simply don’t want to be there, she said.
In many rural districts, chronic absenteeism was a problem long before the pandemic. Poverty and geographic isolation make it difficult for some children to get to school regularly, and districts are constantly trying to address the underlying causes.
Thermalito Union Elementary, a 1,500-student mostly low-income rural district in Butte County, in Northern California, reported 46 percent of its students have been chronically absent this year, up from 8.8 percent two years ago.
“My heart goes out to these kids. They’ve lost a year of instruction, and now this,” said Lisa Cruikshank, the district’s director of special projects. “What keeps me up at night is all these kids losing out on high-quality instruction, falling behind, falling through the cracks. We’ve been working so hard to keep kids engaged, but it’s tough.”
Three years ago, Thermalito won a grant to boost student attendance. The district hired extra staff at each school to work with families who struggled to get their children to school. School staff visited families at home, called them personally when their students were absent and made a point to greet students individually when they arrived at school.
At one campus, the principal led a “walking school bus” every morning, escorting children from an apartment complex near the school to class. At another school, staff helped a student’s mother find a job, bringing financial stability to the family and making it easier for the student to get to school.
All those efforts paid off: In just two years, chronic absenteeism dropped by half. But this year has seen that progress erased, Cruikshank said.
Due to a high infection rate in the community, students are frequently exposed to someone who’s tested positive for the virus and are required to stay home for up to 10 days. Once at home, many students aren’t finishing their homework packets, so they’re counted as “absent” during that time, Cruikshank said.
“We have so many families who are struggling, just trying to survive, it’s hard for them to keep their kids engaged in school,” Cruikshank said. “But if we hadn’t made connections before the pandemic, I’m sure we’d see even more families checked out.”
In Long Beach Unified, in Los Angeles County, the spike in absenteeism has been due to students in quarantine who don’t complete their schoolwork, as well as students experiencing behavior issues that make them not want to attend school or who are otherwise disengaged from school, said Erin Simon, assistant superintendent.
Prior to the pandemic, the district had worked for years to improve its attendance figures, offering free bus passes, prizes, school supplies, mentoring and other services to encourage students to attend school. Staff sent personal emails, made calls, and visited families, trying to address whatever barriers kept students from getting to class. By 2018-19, the chronic absenteeism rate was down to 15 percent.
Anticipating problems with student engagement due to the pandemic, the district expanded its social-emotional offerings before campuses reopened in August. High schools opened wellness centers, the district hired more social workers and teachers honed their skills in recognizing and addressing trauma.
It wasn’t enough, Simon said. After more than a year of remote learning, some students continue to suffer mental health challenges, she said. Suicide threats and misbehavior have soared, as well as absenteeism.
“We thought we were prepared, but we were caught by surprise. … It’s just mind-blowing, and it’s scary,” Simon said, noting that the same phenomenon is happening at schools throughout the country.
COPS RESISTING VACCINE MANDATES should seek another job - Vaccinations offer the best available strategy for California to emerge from pandemic
(Bay Area News Group Editorial)
Police, firefighters and other public safety workers who don’t want to comply with city, county and state vaccination mandates should look for another job.
The science is clear. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. They offer the best available strategy for California to emerge from the pandemic.
Cops, firefighters and public safety workers should understand the importance of front-line workers being vaccinated against COVID-19. Their work requires them to interact with our most vulnerable residents, many of whom are unvaccinated. They also frequently work in jails, courthouses and other locations where social distancing is not possible. They, of all people, should be modeling public health safety for the general public.
Yet San Jose’s police union is pushing back on the city’s vaccination mandate, which was announced last month and goes into effect Sept. 30. The change requires vaccinations and limits a weekly testing alternative only to those eligible for a medical or religious exemption.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association says the city risks losing as many as 140 officers unless the City Council sticks to its current requirements. The San Jose Police Department has about 1,800 on-duty employees. Data collected by city officials shows that as of Sept. 17, 87% of the department’s on-duty employees — including 1,150 sworn officers — have submitted proof of vaccination.
San Jose Fire Fighters Local 230 President Matt Tuttle said that 8% of the firefighting workforce — about 50 personnel — remain unvaccinated.
A wide range of public safety workers throughout California are also objecting to vaccination mandates.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 17 that a group of 500 Los Angeles firefighters filed a lawsuit against the city, saying its vaccination mandate is a violation of employees’ constitutionally protected autonomous privacy rights.
A group of Los Angeles Police Department employees on Sept. 11 filed a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s mandate. Nearly half of the LAPD’s 12,000-plus workforce remains unvaccinated, according to the Times. Ten LAPD employees have died of COVID-19 and 85% of new infections among LAPD employees were in unvaccinated staffers.
California prison guards are also fighting the state’s vaccination requirements, despite numerous outbreaks at state prisons. It’s appalling that only about half of the state’s prison employees are fully vaccinated.
A major study published earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that people who were not fully vaccinated were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic. Vaccination works and will protect us from the severe complications of COVID-19.”
The question of whether public safety workers should have the freedom to refuse a mandated COVID-19 vaccine has yet to come before the Supreme Court. But in 1905 the Supreme Court backed the city of Cambridge, Mass., and its mandate that all residents should be vaccinated against smallpox in the interest of public safety.
Police, firefighters and other public safety workers should be supporting vaccination mandates as the clearest way ensure a safe environment for workers and the general public.
THE UNITED STATES OWES ITS EXISTENCE as a nation partly to an immunization mandate.
In 1777, smallpox was a big enough problem for the bedraggled American army that George Washington thought it could jeopardize the Revolution. An outbreak had already led to one American defeat, at the Battle of Quebec. To prevent more, Washington ordered immunizations — done quietly, so the British would not hear how many Americans were sick — for all troops who had not yet had the virus.
It worked. The number of smallpox cases plummeted, and Washington’s army survived a war of attrition against the world’s most powerful country. The immunization mandate, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Washington, “was as important as any military measure Washington adopted during the war.”
In the decades that followed, immunization treatments became safer (the Revolutionary War method killed 2 percent or 3 percent of recipients), and mandates became more common, in the military and beyond. They also tended to generate hostility from a small minority of Americans.
A Cambridge, Mass., pastor took his opposition to a smallpox vaccine all the way to the Supreme Court in 1905, before losing. Fifty years later, while most Americans were celebrating the start of a mass vaccination campaign against polio, there were still some dissenters. A United Press wire-service article that ran in newspapers across the country on April 13, 1955, reported:
Hundreds of doctors and registered nurses stood ready to begin the stupendous task of inoculating the millions of children throughout the country.
Some hitches developed, however. In Maryland’s Montgomery County, 4,000 parents flatly refused to let their youngsters receive the vaccine. Two counties in Indiana objected that the plan smacked of socialized medicine.
— David Leonhardt, NYT