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Valley People

ALL WE KNOW is the sad whispers that Jamal Essayah, 24, is dead. We understand that Jamal had been living in Marin County, that he was missing, that a young man had been seen hurling himself off the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday, July 22. The Marin County Coroner's office will only say that a young man was seen jumping from the Bridge on that day, and that they were aware that Jamal was unaccounted for, but “no remains have been found.” A graduate of Anderson Valley High School and highly regarded by everyone who knew him, Jamal had survived a suicide attempt earlier in the year in Redding. We remain hopeful that the reports of his death are untrue. But if they are true his passing is beyond awful, and we're left wondering how such a promising young man could have become so despairing.

THE LIGHTNING STORM predicted for Saturday into Sunday inspired some trepidation in those of us who remember the June 2008 lightning strikes that ignited some 100 fires in Mendocino County that burned thousands of acres of forest, many of those acres burning perilously close to inhabited areas of Anderson Valley. Last week, CalFire had issued a red flag warning for Mendocino County and the surrounding NorCal areas that the strikes were expected to hit mostly Saturday afternoon and evening. Although the skies went dark and the temperature dropped, no lightning.

THERE WAS, however, an earlier fire in Nash Mill early afternoon last Thursday, cause unknown. It burned some six acres, moving uphill towards upper Holmes Ranch and attracted quite a crowd of firefighters. A spotter plane appeared and soon a large plane was dropping orange-colored flame retardant on the blaze as a helicopter with its dangling basket dumped water on the flames. Ground crews fanned out on the hillside to encircle and extinguish whatever fire remained.


THESE TWO STEELHEAD, about a year old, were found dead Monday, July 30th, in a water-free pool below the bridge on 128 and Mountain View Road, Boonville. If the fish can't get downstream and back to the ocean because the water in the stream is being siphoned off by our favorite industry, well…

AVHS GRADS of all years are reminded by Sherri Hansen that the big reunion occurs the Saturday of Fair weekend, September 15th, 2-8pm at the Senior Center.

SORRY TO SEE the 'out of business' note affixed to the window of Mis Potrancas Restaurant in central Boonville next door to the busy Boonville Saloon. Good food, nice people.

THIS NOTICE is posted at the Comptche Post Office: “Attention residents and visitors of Mendocino County: As many of you may have noticed, Mendocino Redwood Company has been using herbicides to eliminate tan oaks, which they see as a threat to their redwood yields. The method of application in question is called “hack and squirt,” referring to the slash made in the tree where the poison is applied. A focus on this alternative method of competitive species control has been used on Comptche and the surrounding hills, in many cases reaching within feet of private property. We are told the main ingredient is Imazapyr. It is a highly mobile, broad-spectrum herbicide that has contaminated surface and ground water following its application. Furthermore, these dead standing tan oaks are a fire hazard as they are left to die and eventually fall in countless numbers. Mendocino Redwood Company uses Imazapyr to increase conifer yields, meanwhile contaminating and devastating our Comptche Community. The full impact of this use of herbicide on real estate values and general health of our community is yet to be known. Please help us stop this pollution of our hillsides by signing a petition that will be sent to the appropriate MRC representatives.”

REPAVING the rough stretch of 128 from the north end of Boonville to the Little Red School House is about to begin. Phil Frisbie of Big Orange says the repave, from postmile 26.8 to 30.7, will begin next week. “They will perform some grinding first and then pave,” and then be outta there, the whole show lasting no more than ten workdays.

VISITING the Anderson Valley on Sunday was the always delightful Violet Renick, our youngest old timer you might say, her people going back at least ten thousand years in the Anderson Valley. Violet grew up on Anderson Creek just across from the cemetery. Her grandparents were the Luffs, the last Native speakers in the Valley.

AN OUTDOOR fete with music, wine and tapas at Bink Winery, The Madrones, Philo, this Saturday the 11th of August 5:30 to 9:30. You — even you — are invited.

TRISH BEVERLY describes what was billed as a “School Board Self-Evaluation” occurring Monday at the meeting room at the Elementary School:

“The AVUSD Board Self-evaluation Meeting was facilitated by Paul Tichinin, Mendo County Superintendent of Schools. Generously interspersed with backyard gossip and denigration of other Mendocino school district behaviors, self-congratulatory schmoozing and amusing short films depicting the public, employees and students as so many cattle to be herded through the chutes, for nearly an hour and a half Tichinin reviewed Brown Act restrictions on public participation and the powers of the Board of Trustees, through the CEO, to set policies and make decisions. Dismissing the original document (Brown Act) as “lengthy, boring and dense”, we were treated to a description of going through the channels to achieve coherent communication. The word “Debate” was mentioned as Board responsibility only once.”

“IN TICHININ'S VIEW, 'The Public is not allowed to debate; they are permitted to attend meetings. No exchanges with Board during meetings.' No reference was made to BP#9220 Recruiting new Board Members, Ed Code cf 9270 responsibility to vote, or Ed Code 35145.5 The right of the Public to place matters on agenda… Given the lack of attention to business at hand, much less debate or discussion, typical of our deliberative body, it is hard to see any action at all. Although our Board members are studiously avoiding planning or discussing policy outside their meetings, they certainly are not discussing it in session. Votes are prompted with “I so move”, voice votes without a roll call, no repetition of motions. Grunt if you approve.

“TICHININ passionately denounced the LA and Alameda school districts for allowing the public to participate in school board meetings and place items on the agenda, asserting that any notion that the electorate has a say in educational policy or school board proceedings was not just wrong but subversive and, tellingly, called the notion “the 900 pound gorilla” lurking right here in Boonville and throughout Mendocino County.

“THE Meeting closed @4:25, after a 7 minute discussion of the mechanics, not content, of setting a few annual goals, reporting back at intervals throughout the school year. Apparently no Trustees present knew they already had such goals in Board Policy Manual.As difficult as it is with such arrogant and presumptuous people in power, keep the faith. Patricia Beverley, Boonville”


THE MERE FACT that a boob like Tichinin is superintendent of ALL the schools of Mendocino County is a sad, nay tragic, comment on the pathetic state of our public education system. It's no surprise that Tichinin, regionally famous as the school boss who thought the word 'niggardly' was a racist slur, doesn't understand that the Brown Act is rooted in the simple assumption that in a political democracy public business should be conducted in public.

TICHININ rose through the criminal ranks of the County Office of Education as two of his colleagues were packed off to jail for crimes that he and sacrosanct figures like Vicky Todd had to have been aware of. People like them thrive in secrecy, hence Tichinin's lesson Monday about how to avoid honoring the Brown Act.

ONE OF TICHININ’S PALS— Jack Ward — was simply helping himself to public property, the other guy — Hal Titen, Tichinin's boss — had removed educational video equipment to the back room of his bar on North State Street where he made pornographic films featuring underage girls. DA Susan Massini let Ward slide with some County time but she was stirred to pack Titen off to the state pen for a couple of years. Ward, last heard of, was still roaming I-5, swooping down on unsuspecting school districts with his administrator's credential. Titen seems to have disappeared.

TICHININ IS THE HIGHEST paid bureaucrat in Mendocino County excepting the Superior Court apparatus. He makes upwards of $120,000 a year and drives to and from Talmage to his home in Fort Bragg in an expensive car paid for out of edu-dollars. He and his family also enjoys a panoply of fringe benefits not enjoyed by most Americans.

AND THIS CHARACTER comes to Boonville to tell the Boonville School Board how to keep the public out of the public's business!

THUMBING THROUGH TICHININ'S mini-mound of misinformation replete, of course, with grammatical and punctuation errors, that the superintendent laid on our school board Monday, we find pages of staggering advice that reads like a bad translation from the Albanian-to-English and back again, many of these clunkers illustrated with wacky photos and cartoons unrelated to the subject matter: “Have robust and respectful dialog at Board Meetings. Agree or disagree as you like, but make good decisions.” And “People are entitled to civility (it's respect you earn). Don't air dirty laundry in public.” Then we get into MCOE's “Vision, Mission and Values” where we learn that Tichinin and Company “act with honesty. We do not compromise the truth and we employ the highest ethical standards.” Anyone who's watched these sleazebags in action would know that there have been only brief interludes over the past forty years where this agency has been reputably managed.

THE ANNUAL appearance of naked ladies in the sere summer heat always catches us by surprise. You're driving along and suddenly there's a chorus line of them in a most improbable place, as fresh as if they'd been brought forth by an early spring rain. The naked ladies mean that the Gravensteins will soon be in, and that hint of chill at an August dawn is a harbinger of fall. And football, which began at the high school with late afternoon practices on Monday. Our seasons are subtle, but we have all four of them.

CHRYS SAGRADA INVITES US TO, “Come join us this Saturday at the Boonville Farmers' Market located at the Boonville Hotel from 10am-12:30 pm. Diane Paget will be joining us this Saturday to do a solar cooking demonstration and singer/songwriter Jay Watkins will be our musical guest. Last Saturday's first ever blackberry tasting was a great success! The people's number one choice was the Marionberry followed closely by the Bosenberry. Special thanks to Bill's Berries for providing blackberries for this event. Eat and support local!”

A READER COMMENTS: “Watching the news on Channel 5 last night (Monday) there was a Chevron ad boasting of their competence and safety-consciousness amidst the reports of the fire... This morning (Tuesday) on Channel 2 news a restaurant fire in SF (common as mud, happens at least once a month) is getting more play than the DISASTER in Richmond. It's obvious that Chevron is in charge of the coverage... Here in Alameda the air was discolored and smelled like car exhaust.”

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