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Off the Record (October 27, 2021)

COVID MISINFORMATION is everywhere, but I, a true believer in medical science and unimpeded speech, try to keep it outta here, the ava, where, when I do, I’m called a censor. I’m also denounced as a censor by Mike Koepf, the sage of Greenwood Road, for not allowing him to call me a nazi because I think the Israelis are operating an apartheid state more cruelly efficient than the South African apartheid. Koepf says he’s being censored. He claims to be a great friend of Israel, a country he couldn’t find on a blank map of the world. But in his crude and uninformed mind any agitation for fair play for Palestinians is anti-Semitism (!). With friends like Koepf… Etc.

COVID KILLS. Vaccination and masking work against it, as every reputable, medically-qualified person in the world agrees. But somehow millions of people have come to believe vaccination is somehow a violation of their freedom. I truly do not understand how this has happened, until I remember that millions of people also believe in astrology and Donald Trump.

SO I GET a flawlessly typed letter today from a guy in Jenner whose anti-vaxx stance is substantiated, in his view, by an organization called “Childrens Health Defense, California chapter.” Children, you see, are in grave danger from Covid vaccination because “covid vaccines are experimental” and the Nuremberg Code, written in reaction to the Nazi’s fiendish medical experiments, says it’s illegal to conduct medical research “without the informed consent of all participants.” And so on.

IMO, as they say on Facebook, a big prob with the covid programs has been that they weren’t mandated from the git. If they had been we’d be on the other side of this plague by now. What happened to the common assumption that we all have a few basic obligations to the welfare of our fellow citizens? Immunization used to be one of them. We’ve come a long way backwards since the polio vaccine which, some of us will recall, was so welcomed by Americans it didn’t have to be mandated, and the terrible scourge of polio was eliminated.



I have recently looked into the county redistricting plan, and I have learned the following:

Redistricting occurs every ten years, and it is based on a recent census.

Population shifts in Mendocino County in the last ten years have resulted in District 3 being overweight while District 4 is under. The remaining districts are reasonably balanced with regard to population.

The major overhaul of all the districts may have a political component while the entire requirement to maintain a balance should be entirely non-partisan.

A simple solution, in my view, would be to adjust the boundary between Districts 3 and 4 to equalize the populations and leave the remaining districts alone. That would be a simple solution, would meet the requirements of achieving balance, and it would cause the least amount of unnecessary change.

Anyone can express a view in writing to the following email address:

A citizens committee will review all comments. I have written my comment above to that committee. I am posting this to encourage others to express their own views on the matter.

ONE OF OUR more estranged commenters wrote, “Biden and the hideous Democrats aren’t popular anymore, not programs that just might make America great again.” True enough. The national Democrats, with their reverse charisma, inspire zero hope, hence Poor Old Joe’s difficulty selling his version of Making America Great Again. Joe’s plan lacks specificity. Democrats being Democrats, i.e., Republicans Lite, single payer is off the table while vague billions marked for “global warming.” Etc. If I were Joe’s handlers, I’d spend at least half those proposed trillions on a massive voucher plan guaranteeing Americans food, shelter, health care, and education. You need one or all, you get vouchers that pay for it. The other coupla trill go for falling down bridges and roads. America rejoices! Never happen because the entire system’s entropy benefits its owners while the country falls apart, the globe warms, chaos commences. 

ON THE SAME THEME, the Wall Street Journal, voice of plutocracy, recently offered a typical editorial, this one called “Big Government Isn’t Popular Again.” Never was with WSJ readers and, of course, wacky and wrong. Big programs are unpopular? Try taking Social Security and Medicare away from America’s gaffers. Single Payer for everyone, or Medicare for everyone, would be very popular, which is why the insurance combines and big pharma spend annual millions on our elected officials.

I’VE ALWAYS STAYED AWAY from the medical profession unless I thought for sure I needed their intervention if I hoped to go on watching ball games. Only once have I had to summon an ambulance for myself, and that was a close call, closer than it should have been because I didn’t go to the ER when I should have. Old age is especially harrowing for lots of geezers because people generally and doctors especially tend not to pay close attention to what this geezer is telling them. And, modern medicine being the racket it is, the medicos run up the charges by making you take a lot of unnecessary tests if you show up with some simple complaint like incipient lumbago. For example, an ortho-doc tried to talk me into new knees ten years ago. I opted for periodic cortisone shots before it occurred to me that the shots lasted about three days and knee jocks — tight elastic sleeves, basically, worked just fine, removing most of the pain from every day locomotion which, in my case, includes walking a fast two or three miles every morning.  The following prompted the foregoing. It’s by Judith Graham of Kaiser Health News:

“Joanne Whitney, 84, a retired associate clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California-San Francisco, often feels devalued when interacting with health care providers.

“There was the time several years ago when she told an emergency room doctor that the antibiotic he wanted to prescribe wouldn’t counteract the kind of urinary tract infection she had.

“He wouldn’t listen, even when she mentioned her professional credentials. She asked to see someone else, to no avail. ‘I was ignored and finally I gave up,’ said Whitney, who has survived lung cancer and cancer of the urethra and depends on a special catheter to drain urine from her bladder. (An outpatient renal service later changed the prescription.)

“Then, earlier this year, Whitney landed in the same emergency room, screaming in pain, with another urinary tract infection and a severe anal fissure. When she asked for Dilaudid, a powerful narcotic that had helped her before, a young physician told her, ‘We don’t give out opioids to people who seek them. Let’s just see what Tylenol does’.”

LIKE this 84-year-old woman is going to be out there trying to score opioids on the street, but I’ll bet this kind of medical malpractice is quite common. 

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I’ve been following the odd deaths of John Gerrish, 45, Ellen Chung, 30, and their 1-year-old daughter Miju — as well as their family dog Oski — who were found dead August 17th in the Devil’s Gulch area in the south fork of the Merced River in the Sierra National Forest. This afternoon, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese told media that the deaths of the young family were caused by hyperthermia and “probable” dehydration. “Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate, and we want to thank you all for being patient with us,” Briese said during a press conference. It may be cruel to ask, but why would a young couple with an infant undertake a long-ish hike on a hundred degree day?

SPEAK, MEMORY. The steady rain of Thursday afternoon and all the excited talk about rivers of it barreling our way from the Pacific, somehow reminded me of 1957 when, at the too tender age of 17, I found myself at a place called Camp Mathews just north, I believe, of San Diego, “snapping in” as the Marine Corps called live fire training with the M-1 rifle. Camp Mathews, I’ve been told, is now buried beneath a ghastly suburb of SoCal’s ghastly suburbs called Del Mar. We lived in tents at Mathews, and it was raining much of the time we “snapped in,” finally going to the rifle range to “qualify” with the now antiquated rifle. You had to fire from different positions mastered during the “snapping in” process — all day standing, sitting, prone with the M-I sling-fastened to your arm. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to shoot well enough to qualify with the passing score of 190 out of 300. I was terrified throughout the entire 15 weeks of boot camp, but not qualifying was more terrifying because you had to stay at Camp Mathews until you passed, and all I wanted, like everyone else there, was to get out of boot camp in one piece. I shot a mediocre but passing 195, the same score, I believe, racked up by Lee Harvey Oswald who’d passed through Mathews about the same time and would later be dubbed an ace Marine Corps marksman, which he was not, and I definitely was not. Some of the country boys raised with guns shot 300’s and were tapped for Sniper School, I was declared fit to carry a mortar base plate, the military equivalent of the guy who stands on the road outside a store holding a sale sign. Preceding live fire, our lead drill instructor, a 6’5” psychopath by the name of J. N. Wells, laughed at us to say, “I know one of you California queers would shoot me when you get live rounds so I’ll see you in a few days.” Wells had a chest full of medals from Korea where he’d fought as a sixteen-year-old, lying about his age to enlist. He was said to have fought at the Chosin Reservoir where, out of ammo and his weapon frozen in the 30 below weather, he’d beaten on-rushing Chinese soldiers to death using his rifle as a club. The experience hadn’t liberal-ized him. On the rainy Camp Mathews days, Wells would stand outside our tents at reveille and announce in a barely audible voice, “199 on the road,” rush through our door and shove over our three-high racks (metal beds), plunging us through the tent flaps into the cold wet. The experience was, I guess, my Purple Rain.

COLIN POWELL was the man who helped whitewash the massacre of civilians at My Lai during the war against Vietnam, pushed hard for the Gulf War in the 1990s, and gave the green light to Ariel Sharon in his murderous assault on civilians in Jenin and land grabs in the occupied West Bank, also sold the war against Iraq at the beginning of this century with a fistful of lies. Iraq never attacked the US. It did not have “weapons of mass destruction.” But the Bush administration was salivating for blood and oil after the attacks on the US on the 11th of September, 2001. And any morsel of fiction that would justify their lust for violence was welcomed. Powell would later blame his role in peddling these lies on an “intelligence failure.” This is the go-to excuse for the American military establishment, as we see with the latest atrocity they committed in Afghanistan, the recent drone bomb incineration of a family in Kabul after the disastrous pull out of American troops. Now that he is dead, he will not face justice at the Hague for these crimes. But really, no member of the American ruling class ever does. — Ken Orphan,

IF IT WEREN’T for KZYX and NPR, I wouldn’t know that Snoop Dog is fifty today. As I slip into my rain coat to await a deluge of racism accusations, I’ll wonder if any of these rap “artists” ever contemplate how many young black kids are murdered every day by other young black kids inspired by the musical thug-life recommendations they get from people like Snoop Dog. Rap is also wonderfully encouraging to young women who are routinely referred to as “bitches” and “whores” (ho’s). I’m sure NPR is looking into it.

IRV SUTLEY WRITES: Just saw a video made by Raymond McFalone and his wife Sally. They interviewed John Day who had been a B-17 ball turret gunner late in the war who flew 25 missions over Germany.

John Day gave the most interesting air crew explanation I’ve ever seen on USAF heavy bomber raids - including the fact that the upper and lower ball turrets were computer controlled and were made by Sperry-Rand.

It’s worth 30 minutes out of your lives to take a look at “BANDIT at SIX O’Clock” on <>

WE DIDN’T KNOW until recently that the Statue of Liberty was inspired by the end of the Civil War and emancipation of America’s slaves, not immigration. The connection to immigration came later. Lady Liberty was originally intended to celebrate the end of slavery. Ellis Island, the inspection station through which millions of immigrants passed, didn’t open until six years after the statue was unveiled in 1886. The plaque with the famous Emma Lazarus poem — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — wasn’t added until 1903. Recently released research by history professor Edward Berenson documents the original idea by a Frenchman named Édouard de Laboulaye, an expert on the US Constitution and, at the close of the Civil War, was the president of a committee that raised and disbursed funds to newly freed slaves. Laboulaye partnered with sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who spent years on the design which included the important detail of her left hand holding broken shackles in the original design, an homage to the end of slavery. American financiers were embarrassed by that so Bartholdi reluctantly replaced them with a tablet, but left the chains at Lady Liberty’s feet. The project took decades to design, develop and, even more importantly, fund-raise and construct (in phases) both in France and in the United States which had to come up with funding (largely organized William Randolph Hearst) for the huge pedestal (technically a “plinth”) which took decades. In later years the statue became more associated with immigration largely due to its location in New York harbor.  (Mark Scaramella)

THE AVA being a big tent operation, I’m not surprised that our comment line included a discussion of John Brown, once described by Rap Brown as the only trustworthy white man who ever lived in America, or words to that effect, I dimly remember reading a biography of Brown some years ago from which only his impressively stoic hanging has remained more or less with me. Not trusting myself to quote from memory, I looked it up and found this eyewitness account: “Brown had his arms tied behind him, & ascended the scaffold with apparent cheerfulness. After reaching the top of the platform, he shook hands with several who were standing around him. The sheriff placed the rope around his neck, then threw a white cap over his head & asked him if he wished a signal when all should be ready — to which he replied that it made no difference, provided he was not kept waiting too long.”

THIS ORDINARY HOUSE in Mendocino is for rent for $9,400 a month. Anybody know if any of the board of supervisors or any other influential people who care about housing issues are concerned? And as usual the term “artist” is used to describe it as desirable. As an artist I can 100% tell you that we artists could never afford this. 

Ed note: This can’t be true, even for Mendocino, “village” of.

JEFF FOX NOTES: Re: the $9,400 per month rental in Mendo and the editor’s note that it can’t be true. This originally appeared a few days ago on the Mendocino County 5th District Facebook page. I searched for the post this morning, but it seems to have been deleted. The $9,400 figure is true, however it’s being advertised as a short term vacation rental, not one for permanent tenancy. The owner was commenting on the post and stating that she lives there part of the year, and rents it part of the year, but she didn’t refute the rental amount. Of course there were plenty of outraged commenters, but also the usual cadre of apologists defending the whole concept of the commoditization of housing, ignoring how the vacation rental industry is impacting the local housing market and the critical shortage of permanent rentals available. It seems lost on these people that sooner or later, without affordable housing the service caste they’re relying on will have to move on and they’ll have no one around to make their lattes.

It’s actually still being advertised here:

MY FAVE UKIAH RESTAURANT is Windmills on South State. I had a strange experience there last summer, strange because it was a repeat of the same experience I once had on Clement in SF about 15 years ago where my wife and I, seated by the window, enjoyed (she not so much) a grinning street guy, his tongue hanging out and making yum-yum sounds, pressed his face flat on the window pane inches from our plates. And stayed there long enough for me to wonder if he was going to move on, which he did when I finally gave him a merry thumbs up for his performance. Almost the same thing happened to me on a July Wednesday at Windmills. Seated in that enclosed patio abutting the sidewalk, a laughing street guy pressed his face to the glass separating my food from his face, and made yum-yum sounds. And I gave him a merry thumbs up and he shuffled off, chuckling. If it happens a third time, I will begin to think I’m being singled out.

THE ONLY CONSPIRACY I even come close to believing is the likely conspiracy to assassinate JFK, and I believe it because Oswald’s blurted that he was only a patsy seemed true, especially after seeing he himself assassinated on national television in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. Second, the fact that lots of the files on the case are still sequestered. And the real deal stuff will remain sequestered for at least another year. The White House said Friday it would delay the release of long-classified documents related to the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, citing the ‘significant impact’ of the COVID-19 pandemic as cause for the holdup. Scholars have been lined up for years to read these files. Covid is just one more excuse for delaying release. All the villains would have to be dead, or nearly dead, sixty years after the event.

I’M GOING to assume the release of the files is being held up because Biden’s handlers don’t want another disastrous revelation on top of the daily deluge of disasters blamed on the Biden Administration, many of them set in motion long before Biden was elected, and he was elected solely because he wasn’t Trump. I think the files will prove what many people have long assumed, that the murder of JFK was an inside job pulled off by fascist elements in the CIA, an agency JFK wanted to disband. But, but, but.... our own government would kill the president? In the context of those times, yes, and in these times betcha elements of our own government were at least thinking about offing Trump, the federal police agencies these days being staffed by “liberals.”


“It seems to me that the basic issues are geographical and commercial overlain by the political requirements. Here we have a coastal population and an inland one and trying to balance them, population-wise, seems almost impossible. (Beth Bosk, as reported in the AVA, made a good point about increasing population in Fort Bragg if the former mill site issues get resolved and more housing is constructed). 

There are also economic considerations; agriculture, both legal and not, resource extraction, tourism, and other businesses and trades. 

Quite frankly, to make 5 districts, with more or less equal populations, and more or less separate but coherent geographical and commercial equivalence is probably impossible. I hope the county does not fall into a complex and unworkable frame. C.F. Measure B, the Marbut report, marijuana regulation, Supervisors exercising control over the county departments, bureaucratic bottlenecks coupled with lack of enforcement (and downright c.y.a. obstruction) to name some examples. 

The lack of common-sense shown by the county (the Sheriff suing the County, the constant hiring of outside legal counsel, the proposed new courthouse are only a few examples) is stupefying. 

As Pynchon wrote: If you can get them to ask the wrong questions, the answers don’t matter. 

Belaboring the obvious, apologies” 


Trust the science. We see and hear this a lot lately. The Potter Valley Project isn't rocket science. It's not even political science. It's basic science. It supplies water for fish in two river systems, green power, fire suppression, and for over a half-million people in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Yet it's amazing that there are numerous elected leaders that can't seem to grasp the basic science surrounding a system that is the lifeblood to homes, farms, and economies on the North Coast.

The other day I saw a post with a photo lamenting a dry stretch of the Eel River and it expressed how desperate the river looked. These days one can look at Lake Mendocino and its dry lakebed and see the old Coyote Valley, its bridge and roads, and the domestic and agricultural water intake for Redwood Valley high and dry. We are amidst a drought. A serious drought. But what we are seeing today is what we will see every summer if we lose the water that originates from Lake Pillsbury and flows down the upper Eel River, to the Russian River. 

The diversion from the Eel to the Russian was built in 1906. Not long after, Scott Dam was built creating Lake Pillsbury, a recreational lake for Lake County and others. This simultaneously created a year-round water supply of which a small portion is diverted to the Russian through a mile-long tunnel. For the last 100 years, this water has created green, pollution-free power and provided the literal lifeblood for Potter Valley and the Ukiah Valley through to Northern Sonoma County. 

Removal of the dam means we are faced with losing Lake Pillsbury and with it a critical water supply, mainly because PG&E has decided to walk away from the Potter Valley hydroelectric power plant. The power plant’s federal license is up for renewal, and PG&E (despite the pleas from Mendocino and Sonoma Counties) has decided that they would rather walk away than work with those who depend upon this resource. Mendocino and Sonoma Counties stood with PG&E during their last relicensing battle that lasted over 30 years. Several studies were required for that relicensing and those studies resulted in a reduction in the diversion of 50% percent. That reduction has been in place for the last 15 years. Those below the diversion have learned to adjust to that reduction in water flow, but it has been a challenge and has resulted in impacts to water rights holders and multiple years of Temporary Urgency Change Petitions with the State Water Resources Control Board for modified minimum instream flow requirements on the Russian River. 

Now the relicensing process is before us again, but it is much worse this time around. When I was elected to the Mendocino Board of Supervisors, water issues, and the Potter Valley Project in particular, were front and center on my agenda. The bulk of my 12 years of service were spent trying to find solutions that worked for everyone on this project. It's extremely disappointing to me to see that 13 years later our current representatives are so willing to walk away from this issue and worse yet, dismantle a system that has been in place for a century.

Congressman Jared Huffman created the Two Basin Solution that included select environmental groups but excluded the County of Lake in which Lake Pillsbury sits. Lake Pillsbury is a major recreation draw and economic driver for Lake County. Congressman John Garamendi recognizes the importance of retaining Lake Pillsbury. He is one elected representative that understands the science, and he should be roundly applauded for that. 

However, Lake County was denied a seat at the table in the exclusive Two Basin Solution group by Congressman Huffman. State Senator Mike McGuire was initially adamant that Lake County be included in this group; however, Congressman Huffman strong-armed Senator McGuire and Senator McGuire backed away from his support, caving to Huffman. Lake County continues to lack representation in this exclusive group that is making decisions that will impact the future of its lake…unbelievable! This isn't rocket science. But it appears that it's a very poor version of political science.

This is a critical and pivotal time for Mendocino County and Sonoma County. During my tenure on the Board of Supervisors, our relationship with the Sonoma Board of Supervisors was very strong. I worked closely with its members and the Sonoma County Water Agency to develop solutions that were science-based and considered what was best for the local economy. While I am no longer involved in county government, nor are many of those who worked on this during my tenure, it appears that the coalition is still strong, and I hope that is true. 

We have a lot in common. Yes, we have our differences, but finding a solution that works for all is critical. A solution that continues to provide water for our fisheries, water for our agricultural crops, water for our households and industrial users, and water that feeds our economy and our quality of life is possible. However, the trajectory upon which Congressman Huffman is proceeding to tear down Scott Dam, and with it destroy Lake Pillsbury and eliminate the water supply, is extremely short sighted. It will decimate the economy and with it the livelihoods of over half a million people. And what is truly baffling is that most of these folks are his constituents!

Congressman Huffman loves to tout the Two Basin Solution, yet a primary goal of this exclusive group was a feasibility study to determine whether Scott Dam should be removed based on the environmental and economic impacts of doing so. That study has yet to be conducted, and Huffman has done nothing to seek the funding necessary to carry out this type of study. Why would that be? Could it be because he lacks the clout in Congress to secure the funding? Or more likely, could it be that he does not want the study to proceed? 

Should a legitimate feasibility study be conducted on the removal of Scott Dam, it could likely find that the sediment stored behind the dam released into Eel River system following the dam’s removal would choke the river to death. It could also find that the lack of water coming out of Lake Pillsbury would cripple the economies of Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Facts of this nature could hinder someone's perception of science and this might be too risky for Huffman. 

So, Huffman, skipping the studies altogether, has jumped to the conclusion that Scott Dam must be removed. He has posted on his social media and stated publicly that decommissioning the Potter Valley Project and removing Scott Dam is the way to go, science be damned.

Huffman’s constituents run from the San Francisco/Marin County line to the Oregon border - a district that was created to sustain his position as a representative in U.S. Congress. He appears to be either ignoring or is oblivious to the needs of those in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Instead, he is focusing solely upon the misguided demands of those in Humboldt County and his radical environmental constituency in his home county of Marin. I sincerely hope that Congressman Huffman comes to recognize the actual science behind the Potter Valley Project. That he comes to the reality that without Scott Dam and Lake Pillsbury, there is no water supply to run through the lower Eel River in the summer and late fall to augment natural flows when necessary (as in the last droughts of 2014-2016). Without Lake Pillsbury, there will be no clean energy created by the hydroelectric power plant that in turn supplies the water that supports half a million of his constituents. 

It's basic science. It shouldn't be political science. But if it were political science, any political scientist will tell you don't ignore the needs of the bulk of your constituents. In doing so, you will fail to protect the very people who elected you and have put their trust in you to represent them. 

It's time for all of us – let me say that again – ALL OF US to express our thoughts, concerns, and outrage over the notion that a 100-year-old water supply system should be destroyed at the whim of one elected representative. It is time for all of us to step up to the plate and contact Congressman Huffman, along with every other county, state, and federal elected official to help them understand how important this water supply is. They represent us, and we must call upon them to stand and defend this water system. It is time to trust the actual science and quit playing ridiculous games in political science.

ED NOTE: I mostly agree with Delbar. The overall impact of dismantling the diversion system would be too hard on too many people, but prices of water for ag, especially unnecessary ag like grapes, should be raised, and Mendocino County, screwed since the installation of Coyote Dam, should renegotiate the wildly unfair water arrangement with SoCo via which SoCo gets our water so inexpensively they make millions selling it down south from which Mendo basically gets zilch.


[1] We’re trying to be patient and brave, but it’s wearing very thin. My spouse and I live in a small town in the Great Smoky Mountains and we’re suddenly being overrun by people from other states who are moving here, just so they can turn our cities and towns into the kinds of places that they fled from in the first place. Gas went up 20 cents last week and 6 cents just yesterday alone. We’re not erudite, upper class, monied people, but neither are we poor enough to qualify for the many handouts that are given to the poor. We are stuck in the middle, dancing as fast as we can, watching our savings deplete, our house fall down around our ears for lack of repairs and speeding towards old age filled with fear over what’s to become of us.

[2] Well, my Father came from a family of 19 kids. How’s that for overpopulation? My poor grandmother went through 19 births. I would imagine at the end the kids were falling out while she was doing the dishes. Anyway, if this paternity leave program was available 80 years ago, my Grandfather would have been entitled to almost 5 years paid leave from work. 19×3 months= 57 months off. Who wants to hang around the house with all those rugrats around?

[3] Most of you in the comment section will have a really tough time going back to real conversation. You all get to finish your statements without someone breaking in to stop you in your tracks. The internet has trained millions to be intolerant of real conversation. This is how fascism grows; everything becomes “ important statements “ and nobody is called on their BS mid-sentence. This one statement followed by another proclamation reminds me of a Theodore Adorno book…. One “ truth” after another, no discussion necessary.

[4] Biden’s CNN “town hall.” Twenty-first century America is a shadow of its former self, so its politics have become a shadow play of propaganda. This, really, is merely the political version of advertising, and that was an art that twentieth-century America invented and taught to the world. The CNN town hall was arranged to manage the public’s perfectly accurate perception that this administration cannot tie its own shoelaces. The less convincing the performance of our leaders, the greater their insistence that we must believe — and the more we see that they are false and incompetent, even if we cannot afford the cost of saying it out loud.

[5] WHERE IS THE RENTAL HOUSING, an on-line exchange:

(a) The primary reason someone owns property they don’t live in is because they are wealthy enough to do so. All the responsibility and costs of renting are certainly covered by the high rents collected here. Let’s not let ourselves off the hook of acting sanely and ethically about housing in our community. It is a right - not a privilege - ocean or no. Think about the cost to us all of living in a community without teachers, first responders, adequately housed elders, young families, artists. Everybody really. That is what a community is.

(b) Thank you for your voice of reason. People who own homes that they cannot live in for some reason (and there are many reasons) must choose: either let it sit empty, rent it to a local and take on the responsibility and expenses of a landlord with lower income monthly and no option to use it themselves, or rent it as a vacation rental and incur the costs of ownership, pay the extra occupancy taxes, create some local employment opportunities, and keep it available for their personal use when they want to use their own house. If you are a renter, you are not paying property taxes or school bond fees that support the schools and local public services that you benefit from - your landlord is paying those. If something breaks or leaks, your landlord is the one who has to repair or replace it. Because home prices in the area have increased (although not to the level of other California coastal areas) many new owners are paying property taxes that are more than the rent they could collect from a long-term tenant.

There is no question homeownership is the most desirable scenario for many people, but for those who rent it is unfortunate that they find it necessary to criticize and vilify those who own - until they own a home of their own. Not very many California coastal communities have either long-term or vacation rentals that are affordable for everyone who wants to live in that community. For some reason, this always seems to be shocking information for some Fort Bragg residents. No matter how you look at it - it is not cheap to live by the beach in California. It is a privilege not a right.

 [6] (Sunday, October 24) Radar shows all dark green and yellow over much of Northern California - pretty much the max downpour extending across the entire Jackson Forest, up and down the coast for many miles. The noise on the roof is almost deafening. What a beautiful day!

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