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Off the Record (November 10, 2021)

A MAJOR STORY this week illustrates why newspapers are still important and how diminished we will be when they disappear into the Meta maw of social media. We've reported for years on various aspects of what we saw (and see) as a major scam pulled off by former congressman Doug Bosco and his many Democratic Party enablers as Bosco arranged for the allegedly state-owned North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) to fund his privately owned, mostly by him, Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company (NWP). Literally millions of tax dollars have been filtered through the former to the latter.

THE WAY BOSCO has arranged all this — nobody ever said he was stupid — is comprehensively laid out in an excellent investigative piece by Will Carruthers in the current North Bay Bohemian weekly out of Marin and Sonoma counties. The story is called, “Freight Railroaded — Press Democrat owners take the public for a train ride.”

“…Remember, the NCRA was theoretically created for the purpose of saving the publicly-owned railroad, but it became, in effect, forever indebted to Bosco's privately owned company…”

AND TAKE this taxpayers: “When (State Senator Mike) McGuire introduced Senate Bill 1029 in 2018, it needed language to effectuate the closure of the NCRA's debts and business relationships with its contractors, chief among them was Bosco's NWP Co.

 “EMAILS show that Bosco was involved in crafting the legislation. On June 27, 2018, [SMART Train Director] Mansourian emailed [PR Man Darius] Anderson [co-owner of the Santa Rose Press Democrat with Bosco] for an update on the legislation: ‘Did you talk to Doug? Should go and see Governor's chief of staff on SB 1029?’”

ANDERSON responded the next day: “I did talk to Doug. Once they have language solidified, they will go to the Governor's office.”

 “WHAT language? Who is working on that?,” Mansourian asked. (Farhad Mansourian is director of the heavily tax-subsidized SMART rail system. Mansourian assisted the Bosco apparat to get railroad right of ways in Petaluma they had no standing to obtain.)

Bosco, Liles, McGuire

“THERE is language being worked on to pay off the debts and liabilities. I am sure Jason [Liles, a McGuire staffer and former Bosco aide] will be sharing with us all before it moves forward. It's the same language that you are working on with Jason,” Anderson wrote. Jason Liles, the McGuire aide working on the legislation to close down the NCRA, is also a Bosco alumnus…”

THE BOSCO GROUP has even ripped off the Indians.

 “NOTABLY, in 2017, San Francisco Superior Court found that Anderson and Doug Boxer, the son of former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, had defrauded the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria while working as consultants to the tribe's casino venture in the early 2000s. Anderson was ordered to pay $725,000 to the tribe to cover its legal fees and arbitration costs in the civil action…"

Bosco, Anderson, Boxer

STATE GOVERNMENT is a Democratic Party operation. They select the state reps for the Northcoast, and they dominate the politics of this area right down to their gofers in Ukiah — John McCowen and former Superior Court Judge Dave Nelson, to name the two most prominent. Supervisor Mulheren, probably an unwitting accomplice, is used by State Senator McGuire to cheerlead for his bogus Great Redwood Trail which, inevitably, will depend on funneling tax money to Bosco to buy the old rail line's right of way for the Trail which will never happen.

BOSCO and Friends also own the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and several other Sonoma County publications. None of his rail deals would have been possible without the active assistance of the California Democratic Party.

* * *

MY FAVE MSM GUY, Wolf Blitzer, a great comic figure, was scooting around CNN’s “Situation Room” last week pointing to where he stood on his giant global map. Wolfie was in Scotland for the “climate summit,” and there he was, live, out in front of Edinburgh Castle, as he announce, “I’m now reporting from Edinburgh in Scotland where 20,000 world leaders and delegates have gathered for the COP26 climate summit.” Which is in Glasgow.

20,000 DELEGATES, plus umpteen big shots who think of themselves as so big they have to be there, all flying in on ozone-depleting magic carpets to pretend the global leadership is serious about reversing global warming. The South Pacific nations are serious because they’re about to go glub, glub, glub, and San Francisco is being told the city better raise the Embarcadero six feet because it is headed beneath the waves. China, Russia and Turkey didn’t show up, Biden fell asleep after slurring his way through an insincere, cliche-ridden speech. Short of broad-based economic collapse, which is always a strong possibility, at least here in consumer paradise, the globe will continue to warm. Faster. This conference is good for the part of Glasgow’s economy geared to the rich, but short of truly radical mass resistance…

LEE HOWARD WRITES: “California trucking? More nonsense from California politicians. California and most other states are seeing empty store shelves. Many of the largest ports are located in California. The truth makes all things easier to understand. So, ships are piling up at Long Beach waiting to get unloaded. The port is jammed full of containers with no place to stack more. The liberal media is blaming it on the trucking industry while the nation’s store shelves are becoming bare. Well there’s more to the story. Could Gavin Newsom and California’s insane trucking laws be the blame? The NEWS says the California port situation is caused by a driver shortage. Not so fast: It is in part caused by a California Truck Ban which says all trucks must be 2011 or newer and a law called AB 5 which prohibits Owner Operators. Traditionally the ports have been served by Owner Operators (non union). California has now banned Owner Operators. Long term, truckers in California are not investing in new trucks because California has a law that makes them illegal in 2035. The requirement is to purchase electric trucks which do not exist. And in the words of Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story.” 

INTERESTING facebook comment re local tax bill: “I just opened my property tax statement and was shocked by the addition of the Mendocino Unified Bond measure. I thought that it was to be $60 per $100k in assessed value but it is more like three times that amount in additional fees. Anyone else see that? I’d love to be pointed in the right direction to read the bond measure. I found this that supports my original thought, but clearly doesn’t match what I’m being charged.”

CITIZENS GENERALLY don't seem to be aware of how much they pay for our public apparatuses, but when you have cops making over two hundred thou a year with lush retirement pay, and the Ukiah City Manager pulling down 300,000 plus an assistant to hand him his coffee cup as they oversee a failing town of 16,000 people, and scam artists like former supervisor Richard Shoemaker rake in 50 grand a year to be Point Arena's part-time city manager and then “retires” to become PA's “special projects manager,” and five county supervisors make $84,000 plus generous perks for part-time “work” (if that), you're seeing only the most egregious cases without getting into the county's fat ticket school bureaucracies. 

CRITICAL RACE THEORY. Nevermind it's not being taught anywhere in the United States, and nevermind even if it were it would make high school history slightly less unendurable by including the interestingly murderous facts of what really happened on the way to our consumer paradise, the hysteria around it is one more example of how nervous the country seems to be.

DITTO FOR GENDER REASSIGNMENT. A lot of the hysteria around this subject directly involve maybe a few thousand confused people out of our fine, fat population of 330 million heteros. So, like we kinda get this one up front a lot because we are also a sexually obsessed people marinated in sexual imagery from an early age. Let the record show that the Boonville weekly thinks no one under the age of forty should be allowed the decision of either cutting it off or sewing it on.

A COAST READER ASKS: “Having watched in awe the graceful, lovable pelicans all along our coast, only once have I actually seen some dive and show signs of catching fish (at Portagee Beach). At all other locations they floated by in the sky effortlessly, beautifully, but despite all the energy to stay aloft, I never saw them feed. Anyone: do they feed at night? And here is another question: Throughout the last few days there have been swarms of hundreds of seagulls flying south. Has that always been so this time of year?”

CHRIS CALDER NOTES: The I'll stop drinking...tomorrow strategy via the NYT: “It does, on the surface, seem inconsistent,” the president said, “but it’s not at all inconsistent in that no one has anticipated that this year we’d be in a position — or even next year — that we’re not going to use any more oil or gas; that we’re not going to be engaged in any fossil fuels. We’re going to stop subsidizing those fossil fuels. We’re going to be making significant changes. And it just makes the argument that we should move more rapidly to renewable energy — to wind and solar and other means of energy.”

“Mr. Biden’s climate and social spending plan pending in Congress does not eliminate government subsidies for fossil fuels, which are estimated to be about $20 billion annually.” 

INTERESTING facebook comment re local tax bill: “I just opened my property tax statement and was shocked by the addition of the Mendocino Unified Bond measure. I thought that it was to be $60 per $100k in assessed value but it is more like three times that amount in additional fees. Anyone else see that? I’d love to be pointed in the right direction to read the bond measure. I found this that supports my original thought, but clearly doesn’t match what I’m being charged.”

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: The "Mendocino Unified bond" line item on property tax bills for those within the school district represents the sum of three separate bonds: the existing K8 school, Albion school, and recent voter-passed bond for high school project. The new bond has a rate of 0.06 (for a combined school bonds total of 0.181 in the 2021-2022 tax year). 

It has been explained to me, an excess premium from the first 2020 election bond sale (sold May 2020) was intended to be used over approximately three years to bring down the tax rate, but was applied in approximately the first two years. This had the effect of significantly reducing the 2020-21 tax rate from an estimated $150 to $78 (aggregate tax rate across all elections). Since the premium that was supposed to be used to pay down the debt service and therefore the tax rate this year (2021-22) was previously used, the tax rate was higher than initially planned at $181 across all elections. It is expected that the tax rate will drop to approximately $161 next year and continue to drop after that. A larger tax rate was levied this year to make up for the lower tax rate levied last year. 

In my review, the amounts levied match the voter passed language. The uneven billing is unfortunate. Elected Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Lloyd Weer retired mid-term in September, so further analysis of the chronology will likely take time.”

PRELIMINARY TAKES on the Mendo branch of the June elections;

Fort Bragg City Council - 4 Incumbent Seats

  • Jessica Morsell-Haye
  • Tess Albin-Smith
  • Lindy Peters
  • Marcia Rafanan

THE AVA is for Lindy as a sure bet to resist the preposterous name change for Fort Bragg. We don't know anything about either of the hyphenates or Ms. Rafanan, and will depend on the trustworthy sectors of the Fort Bragg electorate to influence us.


  • Jessica Grinberg
  • Amy McColley
  • John Redding

THE PEEVISH Redding seems to annoy lots of Coasties, but that virtue alone probably isn't enough to keep him on. We'd be interested in Norman deVall's take on this election.

SHERIFF - Appointed Incumbent Matt Kendall

Good guy, good cop, good Sheriff. We'd be surprised if there's any opposition to Kendall despite the supervisors starting a pointless and totally wrong beef with him over his budget and control of his computers, which the Sheriff has batted away as if so many illogical fleas, but he's still had to go to a lawyer to defend himself against five people who should be his allies.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY - Incumbent C. David Eyster

Probably running unopposed because he makes reasonable and proportionate charging decisions. Of course most of the people prosecuted are a sad sack prole catchment not competent to function in an increasingly vicious, class-based society that has crippled them from birth, and whose labor is no longer needed even if they weren't caught up in a desperate daily struggle to somehow make their way more or less normally in the context of a society organized, and profiting from, their catch and release dependency. Eyster's downside is his imperious personality tendencies and his recent, wrongheaded criticism of interim County Auditor Chamise Cubbison for refusing to sign off on DA's office travel reimbursements — doing her job, in other words — and padding his office with six, highly paid investigators he manipulated out of County CEO Angelo where 2-3 would be sufficient. 

The DA is media-accessible, but the ava and Jim Shields being the only media left in the county that pay attention to county government or the Courthouse's prole processing center, media accessibility isn't much to brag about.

AUDITOR - Position is vacant but if there's any justice left in Ukiah, Ms. Cubbison deserves the position. She stood up for herself and stood up for the taxpayers when she went head to head with Eyster (and won) without, natch, the aggressive support she should have gotten from the supervisors.

SUPERINTENDENT OF COUNTY SCHOOLS - Incumbent Michelle Hutchins. Ms. Hutchins will be opposed by an administrator from the Ukiah School District, Nicole Glentzer. If there are any real issues in this one it will be a surprise. The mighty ava is sticking with Ms. Hutchins.

TWO SUPERVISORS are up for re-election next June, John Haschak in the Third District and Ted Williams in the Fifth.

Unless an as-yet unannounced candidate appears, both will probably be re-elected. In the weeks and months following his retirement, there were rumors that former Sheriff Tom Allman was considering a run against Haschak, but that speculation has since withered. Haschak’s only noteworthy act as a Supervisor was to oppose the proposed pot permit expansion which his colleagues had supported. After the opposition, most of which came from Haschak’s district, got enough signatures to qualify for next June’s ballot, the Board capitulated and withdrew their expanded permit program, leaving the County with the status quo ante, a broken program that will probably remain broken, despite millions of dollars worth of administrative assistance that California is providing to Mendo on the mistaken assumption that Mendo has a workable program.

Otherwise, Haschak has been a reliable auto-vote for whatever the CEO and her staff propose. He seems to mean well, vaguely hoping that his support of the CEO will somehow work out ok for the public he allegedly serves. But he expresses very little interest in the matters before him. Some politicians actively avoid taking positions on issues as a strategy to get re-elected by not pissing off anybody. But Haschak doesn’t do that; he seems naturally resistant to taking a firm stand.

Haschak’s occasional Supervisor Reports are party-line all the way. With the conspicuous exception of John Pinches, however, the Third District has a long history of weak to present-but-absent supervisors, with such forgettable rubberstamps in recent years as Georgeanne Croskey, Tom Woodhouse, Hal Wagenet and Tom Lucier.

WILLIAMS: When Ted Williams was first elected he started out aggressively, using social media to engage with and communicate to his constituents like no Supervisor we’d ever seen. His performance during the PG&E power shut off was very good. His early attempts to improve mental health and budget reporting were refreshing, his digging into the weaknesses of the pot permit program were long-overdue, and he impressed his constituents with his smarts and knowledge of County issues.

But the bow-tied young whippersnapper, after being stonewalled time and again with continued lack of meaningful mental health reporting, Williams seems to have given up, saying at one point that he had “capitulated” on trying to get better outcome reports. And, from here it seemed that he had capitulated on most other subjects as well, perhaps sensing that he might have more success as an insider, than as a critic.

Then he lost us again when he picked a completely unnecessary fight with Sheriff Kendall by supporting a misconceived call for some kind of “audit” of the Sheriff’s Department, then leading the charge to enforce the silly policy of charging the Sheriff (primarily) and other department heads for overrunning their budgets, although the problem was and is with the Board’s own lack of budget oversight and management.

Williams also disappointed many of his constituents when, after championing Measure V which would have declared Mendocino Redwood Company’s dangerous hack-and-squirt policies a “nuisance,” he backed away from the Measure even after County Counsel had provided the Board with a strong legal analysis showing that Measure V could be enforced and would easily withstand MRC’s lame attempts to pretend they were exempt.

Williams is an improvement over his recent predecessors but that’s a very low standard. In recent months he’s been a disappointment, especially when compared with his first year of energy and skepticism. His capitulation on the mental health front signaled an across the board failure to follow-through on his own proposals and now, with his support for such wasteful ideas as the Strategic Plan, endless out-of-county legal costs, and the CEO’s bloated Executive Office, he’s basically become just a smarter version of Haschak.


Mendocino Coast District Hospital Board Treasurer John Redding commented on Chris Calder’s recent report about the Coast Hospital District Board’s attempt to address problems at the Adventist’s Coast Hospital. The AVA’s Chris Calder replied and this exchange ensued:

REDDING QUOTES CALDER: “First, the last few paragraphs of Calder’s report: ‘According to Treasurer Redding, even though the district never applied for any relief funds, large amounts were deposited in district accounts by HHS ‘according to some algorithm,’ eventually amounting to $5.8 million. Unsure if the district actually qualified for the money, the board spent none of it. Now, he said, it appears that the district can keep at least $4.4 million. ‘That will go a long way toward building a new hospital, or whatever,’ he said. ‘We're kind of flush with cash right now,’ he said, adding that at least $3 million in additional money for adjusted MediCal and MediCare payments has also just showed up in district bank accounts. ‘They think we still own the hospital for some reason,’ Redding said.’” To which Redding responds: “The correct website address is The “www” must be used to get to the new website. Also, the last quote is incorrect. Peevishly yours, John.”

CALDER: No, the last quote is not incorrect. Watch the meeting. “For some reason, they think we still own the hospital,” is exactly what Redding said. Truth matters, Mr. Redding.

REDDING: Yes, I said that but not in the context in which you place the quote. I had remarked that CMS has delayed a $2.1 M payment owed the District because they think we still own the hospital. This was referring to the fact that the CHOW, or change of ownership, is still pending even though that document was filed months and months ago. Context matters, Mr. Calder. If you want to get the story straight and are unsure of what was meant, just call me for clarification or comment. Instead of asserting that truth doesn’t matter to me. Which seems more applicable to you than to me.

CALDER: I stand by my reporting. The statement Redding made in his initial comment that the quote was incorrect was false, and you acknowledge that. Now he says it was taken out of context. That is also false. The context in which he made his statement is the context in which it was reported: Redding referred to MediCal and MediCare making reimbursement to the district related to adjustments of payments from previous years. I think at this point, an interview with Redding, all on the record and recorded, by both of us if you like, would help the public understand both his commitment to the truth, and the job he is doing representing the people of the Mendocino Coast and their healthcare needs. When can we sit down and talk?

OF COURSE the Republicans have announced they will SUE to stop Biden's “unconstitutional” plan to fine businesses up to $14,000 for unvaxxed workers: GOP and unions say rules will lead to staff shortages and make Americans “choose between the shot and putting food on the table.”

IF BIDEN were a credible president and not the obviously incapacitated shell he is, no matter what he and his handlers do the yobbos will oppose it. If their orange blimp had ordered a national vax administered straight into their eyeballs the yobbos would have lined up the next day.

WHY THE DEMOCRATS LOSE: I think Stephen Rosenthal has it exactly right as far as he goes: “If the Dems have any hope of retaining a semblance of relevancy in the 2022 elections, they’ll need to stop the psychobabble about race, gender, name changes, defunding the police and climate change. I lean toward the Progressive wing of the party so I’m not implying that those things aren’t worthwhile, but right now most folks don’t give a shit about any of them or what the state of the world will be in 2075. They care about $5.00/gallon gas and $100 for a bag of groceries. The focus needs to be on runaway inflation and a serious bully-pulpit effort to stem it. Another round of stop-gap stimulus payments won’t do a thing, but implementing strict counter inflationary controls – on everything from energy, housing, food, health care, the list goes on – will get the public’s attention.”

YUP, and the national libs, feeble and as out of it as they are, even when they are correct, lack the propaganda fire of the political right with all its flash-bang graphics and zippy simplifications. These latter-day Goebbels know how to reach the inner depths of the primitive brain. The lib media, by contrast, is not only cringing, it's as tiresome as the Democrats’ lead figures they uncritically promote. And nobody on either side of the great divide reads anything longer than a tweet.


“My grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb was born in 1900 and raised by the pioneer Middletons. She always had enough food around to feed several armies. 

The Old Timers planted as large of a fruit orchard as they could. I still eat the fruit off the trees that were planted in the late 1800’s. The trees are in terrible shape, but the fresh fruit is delicious. 

Her “larder” was full of winter squash, potatoes, and fresh fruit picked off the trees until it could be made into applesauce or jarred pears. Her garden was full year ’round. Her joy in life was her “Albert Etter Strawberries”. She would keep them mulched with straw to keep the berries off the ground. The kids were kept busy clipping the runners off them. 

The winter garden was full of beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, and green onions. Whenever we ate at grandma’s we were very careful to take small portions of anything because we had to eat everything that we put on our plates. She would deviously make mashed turnips that looked like mashed potatoes. They were horrid. There are many family tales about her mashed turnips and the dumber kids that would load their plates with them and then have to eat them.

I knew a lot of the old time locals growing up and they still had that “survival fear” in them. I think that you had to have known them to understand the fear that they always had in them to take care of their families. They would protect their families without thought or question like “the biddy hen protects her chicks.”

A TERSE NOTE from CEO Angelo said, “The Board Chamber will not open before January, 2022. Thank you.” I'd asked because people ask us when the Supervisors will again appear in public. They've been zooming for over a year now because, variously, covid and a mysterious re-model of their chambers has been underway to make the inhabitants of those hallowed premises safe from contagion.

WE'VE been steadily critical of the CEO, but not unfairly critical, I'd say and, of course, she's always welcome to write rebuttals. As I've said before, Ms. Angelo has had to function in the context of weak and incompetent boards  her entire run as CEO — the present board is simply weak —  so it's understandable that she's had to step in to do both jobs.

TRUMP CANNOT claim executive privilege to stop the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riots from getting more than 770 files from his administration, federal judge says.

SINCE he was filmed inciting the sloppy Jan 6 takeover of Congress, if it were you or me we'd already have been convicted of treason and hanged. But the Democrats can't seem to act even on the obvious. If the maga mob had contained a dozen, maybe even fewer, heavily armed people who knew what they were doing and were prepared to die, their Fox News uprising would have been much more serious than it was. 

JOE MANCHIN is another guy who has become a millionaire “serving” our doomed country by serving himself via his home state of West Virginia's coal industry. He drives an 80 thou Maserati and owns a $250,000 boat. According to Salon, Manchin, over a mere decade, has picked up a cool $5.2 million from an industry killing the planet. 

MANCHIN'S hardly alone in his destructive larceny. As the large majority of US suffer an increasingly tight economic squeeze, at every level of government there are insulated people who profit from the public misery they inflict via public policy. Same-same here in Mendo where a population of only 90,000 people we have a publicly-funded apparatus of about 1,500 people making three times the average Mendo wage

LIT CHAT, a reader writes: Re: Graham Greene’s ‘The Power and the Glory’ — I had a bit of a hard time with it on my first reading (I had no idea of the Catholic persecution in Catholic Mexico!). Also I am a recovering Catholic and I am generally sympathetic to the nasty states that so often come after the revolution. On your suggestion I gave it another try. Without the confusion of characters that the story begins with (intentionally, I'm sure), I could sooner and better appreciate the wisdom and witticisms that fill the book. It is Greene, of course, but a bit different than the sharp tongued, comedic satirical tone of his later books that you might (I was) expect(ing). The whiskey priest fighting a crippled dog over a rotten bone and taking a lump of sugar from a dead child's mouth are very vivid scenes (bordering on the surreal?). It was so enjoyable on my second read that I may read it again. (I also read ‘Lawless Roads’: a very rough trip and the author came away hating everything Mexican.) Anyway, thanks again.

GREENE was unwittingly honored by the State Department when he was denied entry to the U.S. in the early 1950s on the grounds that he was a communist, which he had been for a month as a kind of prank when he was 19. By being banned for a time from the U.S. he joined other literary greats including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Dario Fo and Carlos Fuentes who were later denied visas. There's a fascinating book by Greene that's hard to find about the walking trip he and a female cousin made across Liberia in the 1930's which he almost didn't survive. His prescient novel, ‘The Quiet American,’ pegged to America's insane invasion of Vietnam, is a must read, especially for people who flesh out their non-fiction information on the world from really good fiction. Greene's a reliable guide to the social-political realities of many countries he lived in, including Haiti captured in ‘The Comedians’ and the Congo in ‘A Burnt-Out Case,’ the latter another Catholic-inspired novel, and several novels set in Central and Latin America.

ACCORDING to friends who attended, there were no pickets at the Dave Chappelle show Thursday night in San Francisco. A sold out crowd of 18,000 packed the Chase Center for the show, which Chappelle kicked off by commenting on SF, “What the hell happened here? It looks like Game of Thrones out there.” (Minus the needles and sidewalk defecation.)

Chappelle, 48, also defended his NetFlix special: “Don't blame the LGBTQ community for any of this shit. That has nothing to do with this. It's about corporate interest and what I can say and I cannot say.” In other words, the controversy over his show was manufactured by the media reacting to faux indignation from professional indignation specialists.


This is a story about my old boss, Alden Global Capital, still owners of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and Mendocino Beacon, which are now “covering” their old home towns from 50 miles away. 

For 140+ years, the Advocate and the Beacon served their communities. Now everything is gone. No reporters, no editor, no office. Nothing. One person in Ukiah busts his ass to somehow gets the papers produced. 

Therefore, no coverage of the drying up of local water supplies last summer, next to no coverage of local government and front page puff pieces written by the local hospital chain's PR department about what a wonderful job it's doing— while social media fills up with complaints from people wondering where they can go for a doctor's appointment without waiting weeks or months. 

Sacramento Bee readers: different hedge fund, same story. Except the government not getting covered works out of the State Capitol. 

Here's what it looks like from the inside, and why your local paper (still profitable BTW - the Advocate and Beacon never lost money, ever) has turned into a ghost: 

“In May, the Chicago Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place... 

“To find the paper’s current headquarters one afternoon in late June, I took a cab across town to an industrial block west of the river. After a long walk down a windowless hallway lined with cinder-block walls, I got in an elevator, which deposited me near a modest bank of desks near the printing press. The scene was somehow even grimmer than I’d imagined. Here was one of America’s most storied newspapers—a publication that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln and scooped the Treaty of Versailles, that had toppled political bosses and tangled with crooked mayors and collected dozens of Pulitzer Prizes—reduced to a newsroom the size of a Chipotle. 

“Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this?” 

The less real, human-generated, on-the-ground information you get about the world around you, the more powerless you feel. The more powerless you are. 

Don't worry about us out-of-work reporters. We're ornery and resourceful. We'll find alternatives. 

You won't. 

FAR FROM REUNITING THE COUNTRY, Biden turns out to be no less polarizing a President than Trump. And far from delivering normalcy, he has delivered vacancy.

If Biden had secured the Democratic nomination in 2016, I think he could possibly have beaten Trump and made a passable if ineffectual President. But the melancholy realization for millions of Americans and for the rest of the world is that the top job came to Biden too late.

I have met him several times over the years, and the decline that has set in since his election victory has been painful to watch.

Turning 79 in two weeks, “Sleepy Joe” (Trump's epithets rarely miss the target) should be golfing and dozing in a deck chair in the Florida sun, not trying to run the most powerful government on the planet.

Of course, we've had “past-it” Presidents before, but in Reagan's last years, for example, expectations were kept low. By contrast, the biggest mistake Biden's advisers and handlers made was to talk him up as a “transformative” President on a par with Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson.

The harsh political reality is that Biden has nothing like their congressional majorities. The Democrats had 68 Senate seats and 295 House seats after LBJ's landslide in 1964. Today they have 50 and 221.  — Niall Ferguson

WHERE'S GAV? Newsom was last seen in public on October 27 when he received a COVID-19 booster shot in Oakland. He said it was painless and then flexed in celebration, urging others to get boosters as well. Two days later, his office issued a statement citing unspecified family obligations, abruptly cancelling his plans to attend the global climate conference in Glasgow. Since then, Newsom has been seen only in prerecorded video statements, and in family Halloween photos posted on Monday in costume as a pirate with his wife and four young children.


So, possibly one of the biggest events to happen during our lifetime is about to happen on Dec. 18th of this year, yet I’m surprised to see that no one in the press seems to be talking about it. The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on that very day. What is that? It’s the successor to the Hubble, only 3 times as large and 100 times more powerful. NASA has been working on it for 25 years and it’s a miracle they were able to complete it. It was almost canceled in 2011. 

The technology on this telescope will launch nothing short of an astronomical revolution and two major historical events:

- We will be able to see if there is life on the exoplanets we’ve discovered and detect whether the atmospheres of those planets are being modified by that life.

- We will be able to see the first stars and galaxies ever created from the Big Bang.

That’s right, this telescope will literally look back in time to view the very first galaxies and allow us to witness the birth of our known Universe. 

That’s some crazy stuff, man. 

Crazy, crazy stuff.


[1] I suspect that many here are aware of COP26 (whatever that means). I am. But I can’t, frankly, be bothered by a lot of climate hoo-hah.

Kerry et al. fly to Glasgow in their private jets and palaver about what the peons will be allowed to do. Then they fly home in their jets.

Give me a break. I would be delighted to hear that all of the jets had been grounded as fossil-fuel fossils, and the “delegates” and honchos and honchas a la Greta had to figure out how to get home on their own.

Maybe hike to Liverpool and catch a freighter.

I like that image. I picture a black and white movie adopted from a lesser known Hemingway short story c1940, starring Sidney Greensteet and Humphrey Bogart in trenchcoats. They’re on foot from Glasgow, headed for Liverpool on a foggy night, on the run from Nazi assassins…

[2] TRIANGLE POT INDUSTRY, an on-line comment: What sucks about the recent cannabis economy is that it’s the quantity game now. If you want to make cheddar you got to go huge. My name is $5000 a pound back in the day & that is true. When I first started growing cannabis we got sometimes even more than $5000. I remember as much as $6400 being paid for A+++. $400 an OUNCE! straight up. Back then, late 80’s-early 90’s we got Mexican brick weed for $500 a pound. Humboldt was going for $4800-$5000 depending on what it was and who was buying. The Grateful Dead helped keep the market stable. With the Dead touring around the country people would come to Humboldt from all over to buy weed and sell it on Shakedown Street/the Dead Lot. Once Jerry died in 95 the prop 215 thing started heating up and prices slowly began to decline as the outlaws were being overtaken by the indoor flip flop growers with medical cards. Back then, early 90’s, outdoor weed was in the bushes and if you were able to pull off dense sun bud you were a legend. I remember the 1st people to really start blowing up greenhouses and this really changed the game. Now people were getting quantity and quality and the Greenrush was on! Let’s fast forward to today and here we are in Humboldt County with pounds of cannabis going for $500 a pound and even less. We aren’t talking fluffy shade bud from the 90’s, but beautiful A++ full sun top quality nugs going for the same price as super shitty seeded Mexican brick weed from the 80’s/90’s. We have turned into Mexico. It’s all big quantity which equals big expenses and bigger risks. This has been a race to the bottom for the last 10-20 years(I’ve been growing for 30 years).This is also why I quit the game some time ago and just grow my 6 super organic and super tasty plants and no longer participate in this slow moving train wreck we call our local cannabis economy.

[3] Now I am old, poor, no dental insurance, and expected to live out my life while funding government administered healthcare that follows no particular rules, during a never-ending epidemic that keeps elders home from work, unable to shop or travel, eat in a restaurant, or appear in public without a useless mask…

AND: Idiots everywhere spout off endlessly about a “lamedemic”, refuse to be vaccinated, and appear to wish the 5,000,000 dead a kindly “too bad, fuck off”, while we approach a million dead Americans, meanwhile our local governments dither and screw around with our safety…

OH, and your hospitals are staffed at about 60%, unable to hire nurses, med-techs, x-ray techs etc, and they are quiveringly worried about the future, while banking record profits and hoarding their CARES act money, whilst your Federal Government has financially abandoned you to starve, lose your home, and pay more and more for absolutely everything…

And you idiots STILL won’t acknowledge that there is a serious infectious disease threatening your life and that of your family…

And you call ME crazy?

Hey, keep smokin’ that dope, it will fix everything…

[4] We ARE Pink Floyd? Irony from 46 years in arrears. Sure wish I would have been that smart all those years ago.

So, so you think you can tell

Heaven from hell?

Blue skies from pain?

Can you tell a green field

From a cold steel rail?

A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade

Your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?

Hot air for a cool breeze?

Cold comfort for change?

Did you exchange

A walk-on part in the war

For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here

We’re just two lost souls

Swimming in a fish bowl

Year after year

Running over the same old ground

What have we found?

The same old fears

Wish you were here

[5] Yesterday, in Glasgow, but also in London, Melbourne and Toronto, hundreds of thousands of Young Activists were in the streets protesting … to what end? Well, for governments “to do more in the fight against Climate Change”. In fact they were in the streets demanding a lower standard of living, inveighing their govts to choke off energy supply.

The standard responses are (a) it will cost nations far more if they don’t transition to carbon-neutral clean energy in the next few decades, and (b) the green revolution will lead to thousands of good-paying satisfying careers.

There is certainly merit in both those arguments, but for me the reality remains that Global Warming is a thing, but isn’t the highest priority for most nations – poverty, pollution, over-population, energy, water, and food security … and so on … are much more urgent.

And secondly, you can’t “transition” to a clean energy future by cutting off your current fossil-fuel-based energy and transportation systems too quickly. But I think a lot of currently wealthy Western nations are going to find that out the hard way.

The tough nuts in China, Russia, India, Brazil, etc … they’re not having any of it. The US will continue to say the right things, but not really do much.


  1. Norm Thurston November 10, 2021

    AB5 does mandate that many former “independent contractors” now be treated as employees. However, the provision that applies that change to independent truckers is under an ongoing injunction granted by the 9th District Court, pending a petition to be heard by the Supreme Court. So, that should not be a factor in the current backup in moving goods out of the ports.

  2. Beth Robinson Bosk November 11, 2021

    Dear Bruce: I read a paid-for print edition* of the AVA (but sometimes don’t read it for a week), so this is a response to the paragraph beginning with the name MIKE GENIELLA in Off The Record, in the Nov. 3rd print edition of the paper.
    Take it as a Letter to the Editor, please.
    You’ve got it wrong, Bruce, about Mike Geniella being tossed from the Press Democrat as a result of pressure from Harry Merlo. It’s what we all believed, include Mike himself, who vigorously protected his job thru his union, though woefully re-assigned off the timber beat onto the doesn’t-matter desk.
    The real culprit behind the complaint was the FBI, who wanted rid of Mike Geniella because Mike, with his reportage, had begun making the link between FBI operations taking place in Colorado and elsewhere with what was happening in Mendocino County, most especially pertaining to Redwood Summer and the car bombing of Judi Bari in Oakland, which she and Darryl Cherney were initially arrested and charged with. With Geniella gone, there was no “timber beat” to speak of, and portions of her story (which were still news) were thrown at the readers so helter skelter, they were not able to piece together a coherent context—or even know one existed . . . . So, in 1995, Judi picked up her phone and called me, and asked if I would do an interview with her for New Settler, one that presented all the information she had gathered thru Discovery and other investigations, during the pursuit of her 1rst Amendment case against the FBI and Oakland police. During our long, and thorough (and endearing) conversation at her cabin: one of the pieces of information she disclosed was that most recently, she had received a piece of Discovery from the FBI admitting that it was their agency that contacted the Press-Democrat (actually they showed up in the Santa Rosa P-D’s New York headquarters) to insist the paper get rid of Mike Geniella. Immediately. Obviously, the P-D ownership complied. The then-editor of the Santa Rosa “Newspaper of Record” never informed Mike of that truth. (And I forget what excuse they concocted.) It was Judi Bari who called Mike Geniella and told him about the Discovery document from the FBI’s lawyers.
    So! The first time Mike learned the FBI (not Harry Merlo, not “timber”) had cost him his beat, and pressed for him to be fired, was from Judi. . . . Mike was a remarkable reporter. A lot of that had to do with how kind he was, and all-encompassing in his friendships. I could go on. But you should be doing the interview —now that Mike Geniella has just retired from his job at the DA’s office the timing is perfect!. . . . And while you are at it.: Ask him about Sister Jane, and how together they brought down a bishop. —beth robinson bosk

    • Bruce Anderson November 11, 2021

      I’ll ask Mike to reply, but this is way off. It is much more likely that Judi Bari’s ex-husband not only made the bomb that blew her up, that he was the FBI’s main Mendo man. I love the way you and the rest of the history re-write crew ignore Steve Talbot’s reporting on the case. It’s obviously true that the FBI had its way with the Press Democrat from the beginning of the Bari interlude, hence the paper’s managing to “lose” The Lord’s Avenger letter, the only document remaining in the case with a DNA link to the bomber. It’s also fairly clear to us that Sweeney wrote it. Judi was a truly tragic figure, taking the truth with her when she died and surrounded and succeeded by liars and fools.

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