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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021

Frosty Morning | Winter Light | Paul Lagomarsino | Officers Surrounded | Zachary Missing | Booster Eligibility | Pet Baby | School Goats | Paysanne Hours | Modern Chaos | FB Foodbank | Ukiah Mural | Open Studio | Transparency Deficit | Kayakers | County Realizations | Holiday Numbers | Glorifying Redbeard | Road View | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Breathing | Private Firefighters | Safe Now | Anti-semitic Poet | Gualala Locomotive | Killing Others | Shoot Someone | American Fascists | Cancel Culture | Bad Decisions | Giant Beer | Hillary Hulu | Kicking Heroin | 1936 Chevy | Subdued Rioting | Meghan's Summer | Sage Advice | Marco Radio | Albion River | Weed Bill

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A HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM will favor frosty mornings and mild afternoons through Monday. Thereafter, a weak frontal boundary will aid in light rainfall Tuesday morning. The front will be followed by another period of pleasant fall weather during mid to late portions of next week. (NWS)

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Winter, South of Ukiah

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September 18, 1937 - November 7, 2021 

Mendocino, California - Paul Martin Lagomarsino, 84, died peacefully at home. A native of Sacramento, he graduated from Christian Brothers High School and Santa Clara University before attending St. Louis Medical School. 

Dr. Lagomarsino

He raised his three sons with their mother Cynthia Lemmon Hall, on 46th Street. This is where they fostered lifelong friendships with neighborhood friends who became family, enjoying block parties, Cal football game tailgates, and backyard pool gatherings. 

He had a private practice, specializing in Orthopedic Surgery for over 50 years in Sacramento and Mendocino. "Doc Lago" always had his leather doctor's bag by his side, eager to assist anyone in need, whether it be a buddy requiring a bar brawl stitch or tending to the neighborhood kid's split chin. He was easy to spot driving down J Street to his office in his green 1950 MG with pipe smoke trailing out of the convertible. 

His time was dedicated to his patients, while also volunteering as team doctor for Jesuit football and rugby teams. His passion was his work. He was a devoted doctor who put his patients' care above all else with a professional but notoriously humorous bedside manner. He was always on call for whoever may need him for a phone diagnosis or just a good laugh! 

He cherished his many years vacationing at Tahoe Tavern, boating in the Lago V during the summer and skiing Homewood Mountain in the winter. He also enjoyed their many family trips to Hawaii, as well as his annual weekend in Lake Almanor. His favorite weekday pastime was his regular lunchtime match at Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. 

In his later years, he treasured the time he spent with his seven grandchildren. “Gramps” loved attending their sporting events, plays, recitals, and all special occasions. He was genuinely invested in the kid's lives sharing jokes, photos and thoughtful notes with them through his daily emails. 

He retired in Mendocino, the place he called “God's country,” with his girlfriend Kim. Their time together was spent traveling, laughing, playing dominoes, and watching his 49ers and SF Giants. 

He is survived by his devoted companion Kimberly Millick, sons Bradley (Leslie), Greig (Sally), Brian (Jennifer), his grandchildren; Charley, Will, Olivia, Ella, Lane, John and Bo, as well as his sister Lucia Foster (Sandy) and family. He was preceded in death by his mother Helen Higgins, father Lou and brother Father John Lagomarsino. 

A private celebration of life will be held with family. 

“When your number's up, your number's up!” —PML

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After a brief pursuit, a California Highway Patrol Officer and a Round Valley Tribal Police Officer stopped a vehicle. Reportedly, after an interaction with the occupants, nearby residents began surrounding and intimidating the officers....

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THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT (Texas) is looking for Zachary Manuel Velasquez who was last seen on October 12, 2021 at approximately 6:50 PM while at his residence in Austin, Texas.

Although not seen, someone last spoke to Zachary on October 16, 2021.

Zachary’s vehicle (see photo in post) was found parked along Highway 101 at Mile Post Marker 86.75 in Leggett (near Highway 271).

Velasquez & Vehicle

On 11-16-2021 a Mendocino County Search & Rescue team searched the area near the parked vehicle and did not locate Zachary or any evidence of his potential whereabouts.

A check of local public safety agencies and medical service agencies/hospitals showed no contacts with Zachary.

Zachary is described as being a 30 year-old white male, standing 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with short black hair, short black goatee and having brown eyes. No clothing description was provided.

Anyone with information that can assist with this Missing Persons investigation is asked to contact the Austin Police Department by calling 512-974-5017 or the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.

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Mendocino County is opening up COVID-19 boosters to all adults 18 years and older. No adult who seeks to strengthen their immune systems in advance of the holiday season will be turned away under the new guidelines.

Everyone who received the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine may now get a booster as long as at least six months have passed since their second dose. Expanding booster eligibility aligns Mendocino County with California Department of Public Health guidance this week, stating patients can self-determine their risk of COVID-19 exposure. Previously, only certain categories of higher-risk individuals were eligible for boosters under state guidelines.

All recipients of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine should also get a booster two months after their previous dose, a criteria that remains the same.

Anyone in a higher-risk group – including seniors 65 and older, people with underlying medical conditions, people who work in high-risk settings and all Johnson & Johnson recipients – is especially urged to get a booster as soon as possible.

“We are expanding eligibility for COVID-19 boosters because we want to avoid the holiday surge in cases that happened last year,” said Dr. Andy Coren, Mendocino County’s Health Officer. “We are already seeing an increase in cases, which could put more vulnerable people in the hospital, even if they are fully vaccinated. We have been stressing that boosters are essential for higher-risk individuals, but now it’s clear that we need many more people to receive a booster dose to slow the spread of the virus. Getting a booster will help protect you, your family, your friends and our community.”

People should seek appointments at their primary care providers and at pharmacies. Vaccines are also available at the county’s fixed and pop-up clinics: COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Schedule

As of November 15th, more than 10,000 residents have received a booster in Mendocino County since they were authorized in September. The county will continue to prioritize first doses for the 27 percent of our eligible population who are not fully vaccinated. For more information, including the latest vaccine numbers, who’s eligible for a vaccine and how to receive a vaccine, visit , or call 707-472-2759.

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Baby Cakes is smart, spunky, energetic, and a lil bit crazy—but also a 100% GOOD DOG! Like a lot of shepherd and working breeds, Baby doesn’t like being in a kennel. Once she’s been on a walk or enjoyed some play time, she calms down and you can see her sweet side. Baby likes toys, and she enjoys a dip in a kiddie pool on a hot day! You may even catch her trying to swim in her water bowl. She doesn't quite fit, but she gives it a good try. Baby can be reactive to other dogs, and would be ideal for an active family that will work with her and give her the training she needs. 

Baby Cakes is 1 year old and 50 svelte pounds. She’s spayed and ready to bop outta the shelter and into your life ASAP! If you are interested in Baby, give us a call at 961-2491 for more information. Or email Adriana at 

For more about Baby, visit and click on the Ft. Bragg link. While you’re there, check out all of our canine and feline guests, our services, programs, events, and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.

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by Justine Frederiksen

A Mendocino County school administrator says she is very concerned about the safety of her students after at least one mountain lion reportedly attacked the goats at the Boonville High School farm this week, killing two of the animals and wounding a third.

“Monday evening two goats were killed and dragged to the fence, and a third was injured,” said Louise Simson, superintendent for the Anderson Valley Unified School District, who called into the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 18 to ask for their support, as she was “super frustrated” with the response she had received so far.

“I’ve spent two days on the phone and was able to get a ‘hazing’ permit, which allows me to make loud noise at a mountain lion,” said Simson, describing the area in which the goats were attacked as an approximately 8-acre “outdoor classroom where kids are outside, feeding lambs, and this is a severe safety issue.”

Simson added that others have suggested building a bigger fence or a bigger barn, “but that’s not feasible. My school district is going to be operating at almost a $400,000 deficit next year, and I need some real solutions to keep my students safe. I will not be the superintendent that has a student killed in an outdoor classroom.”

Dr. Quinton Martins, a Wildlife Ecologist based in Sonoma County, also called into the meeting to suggest that the response to the incident focus on keeping the goats safe rather than removing any predators from the area.

“Removing the specific individual [predator] is not going to solve the issue, and may even exacerbate the situation by drawing in other animals if a vacant territory becomes available,” said Martins. “The recommendation would be to focus specifically on keeping the livestock safe; when they are locked up, they will be unavailable to the mountain lion.”

Martins added that this was also a “really good learning opportunity” for the school’s students, as they could be involved in the process of keeping the goats safe as a way of showing them how to co-exist with wildlife.

Michelle Lute, National Carnivore Conservation Manager for Project Coyote, also called in to the meeting to agree with Martins that “prevention is key here, and this is a lesson that we can all learn.”

When asked by 1st District Supervisor Glenn McGourty if perhaps the incident represented a change in behavior by the mountain lions, given that the attack was so close to downtown Boonville, Lute said the attack was not surprising given the school’s proximity to a creek corridor.

“Cats don’t want to be out in the open, they’re taking advantage of the creekside cover,” said Lute. “I don’t think this suggests a behavior change, I see no data that suggests mountain lions in the area are becoming habituated. The vulnerability of these goats is context specific, the lions are using the creek corridor and the goats are very close to the creeks. It doesn’t suggest in any way that mountain lions are changing their behavior, or that there is any risk to humans.

“Mountain lions are naturally very wary of humans, and will avoid them in all circumstances,” Lute continued. “There are resources to address the situation, (such as) enhancing the fencing and security.”

Lute said she would be available to meet with Simson and other members of the Anderson Valley community to discuss solutions with McGourty and 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak, who make up the board’s ad-hoc committee tasked with addressing such wildlife interactions.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Fresh baked treats, natural candies & confections, coffee, tea, espresso, etc.

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Backing and filling
Fighting off the robocalls
Shooting down the incoming
Forgetting all our passwords
Pausing and fast forwarding
Shutting down and rebooting
Downloading and deleting
Uploading and forwarding
Printing out more stuff to shred
Composting and garbaging
Sorting what seems worth saving
Nothing real getting done just
Trying to keep up.

— Jim Luther

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A reader writes: This #GivingTuesday I'm raising money for Mendocino Food and Nutrition Program and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $1000. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Nov 30, Meta will match $8 million in qualifying donations. Thank you for your support. I've included information about Mendocino Food and Nutrition Program below. 

To Provide Nutritious Food And Support People In Creating A Healthy And Better Life. Operate A Food Bank Providing Emergency Food And Nutritional Information To People In Need Of Assistance In Mendocino County.

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LAUREN SINNOTT: OK you guys, I’m finishing the final panel (of 26)! It is entitled “our future together.” There will be 42 portraits in it and an invented housing development, as well as intelligent insects and the network of communication that runs through healthy soil, and more. I will do a series of daily posts leading up to the final day of painting which will culminate this 4-year project. This is day 1.

And actually, since it is Veteran’s day, I’m going to digress to the two panels right before this one, representing “service” and “remembrance.” I have been so busy and not posted much yet about ALL the work of this summer, but I will make up for it this winter. 

Four portraits spanning the “service” and “remembrance” panels are men from Ukiah who paid the ultimate price with their lives in foreign wars. The two figures at the very bottom of these panels are a fallen soldier and a woman grieving on the other side of the slab that separates them, his tombstone.

Day 7 in my series showing the elements of the last panel in this huge mural as I approach the final day of painting. This depiction of Standley Street in downtown Ukiah is the third part of my architectural vision for the future. It represents the old and the new, preserving and maintaining historic buildings when possible while integrating new construction that is efficient and well-constructed. That principle is gloriously illustrated by Ruff & Associates architectural office at 100 Standley St. 

Ukiah’s vibrant city center is the st of this show.

See the entire mural at

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A VIBRANT CONVERSATION about our times, our colors, our shapes and forms.

Dear friends, collectors and bright lighters*,

Yes! In Anderson Valley, Northern California, where my studio is, there is actually a unique language called Boontling in which "bright lighters" means city people. I don’t speak Boontling but after 25 years of rural art making my work is as distinctive as the language of this beautiful place I call home.

After a long hiatus I opened my studio doors to the public.

Many of you visited during my recent Open Studio if you visited thank you for coming! Please come again.

If you were unable to visit come another time by appointment email 

If you are too far away to visit then see my website 

Art needs an audience I am honored you are my viewers, visitors and supporters. I value your feedback and eyes on my work.

Learning to speak the language of this land, to capture these moments in time, is the work of a lifetime.

Let's stay in touch!

Creativity is required. Beauty is essential. A place to escape the chaos is paramount. Art can be the escape route. My sculptures are cairns marking the way, my paintings are windows into calm places.

My studio is far from an urban art world yet it zings with a contemporary message that is alive and part of the vibrant conversation about our times, our colors, our shapes and forms.

Rebecca Johnson

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To the Editor:

I think the Deputy City Manager was being more than a little disingenuous, if she was quoted correctly in the Daily Journal, saying that city residents do not pay the “same fire-specific property taxes that residents outside the city do.” City residents’ general property taxes, which I expect are higher than those paid by residents outside the city, paid for the city fire department for years, and presumably still go towards financing the joint fire district. Or if not, what use are those funds being put to? We do not seem to be getting our general property tax lowered. When we passed the public safety sales tax a few years ago, I remember the city saying it was to enhance fire and police, not replace existing spending. So where is that “existing” spending now?

I have no objection to paying more money for fire services. I think it is of paramount importance that our firefighters have the equipment and training and personnel to safely perform the ever more important work that they do.

But I think we could do with a bit more transparency and honesty from city officials.

Stephanie T. Hoppe


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Albion River

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by Mark Scaramella

“Item 5c on Tuesday’s Supervisors Agenda began: “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Presentation of First Quarter Budget Report on the Status of County Departmental Spending.” A couple of paragraphs later the agenda item added, “The First Quarter report includes a budget update of County department budgets for FY 2021-22 from July 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.”

Ever hopeful, we plunged into the reams of jargonized budget filler, boilerplate, charts, tables, graphs, documents, slides and miscellaneous attachments expecting to finally find an actual “update of County department budgets for FY 2021-22 from July 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.”

But as usual, it wasn’t to be. The promise of deparmental budget info turned out to be another fizzle. There’s nothing of the sort in all the budget materials stuck onto the agenda item.

But they were right when they said that the budget presentation would cover, “Update on budget process, legislative update, Human Resources, Capital Improvements, Disaster Recovery, and one-time carry forward fund requests for departmental adjustments.” But all that gibberish provided not one bit of departmental budget status.

Undaunted, we plowed on, wondering if there was any actual information at all in the budget materials. Indeed, there were a few info nuggets, albeit negative. 

“Between July 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021, Human Resources received 268 staffing requests, conducted 129 recruitments, received and screened 1164 applications, conducted 69 examinations, and prepared 159 certifications. During this time period, the County hired 48 new employees and had 69 employment terminations.”

If our math is right, that’s a net loss of 21 people in just three months, despite conducting 129 recruitments, less than half of the staffing requests. We knew that Mendo’s labor pool was shallow, but this is worse than even we thought.

The bad personnel news continued: “As of September 30, 2021, there were 376 vacant positions, with active recruitments to fill 237 positions. Based on positions being actively recruited, the countywide recruitment rate is 16.2%, while the overall vacancy rate is 25.6%. The majority of positions in the recruitment process are in Social Services (93), Sheriff’s Department (27), and Public Health (18).” 

Social Services is chronically understaffed so that’s not news. And the Sheriff’s vacancy rate, while depressing, is also not news. But now, in the middle of a pandemic, we see that there are a whopping 18 vacancies in the relatively small public health department.

Funny, the Supervisors expressed no interest in these staffing problems. Maybe that’s because the info was buried in so much other meaningless junk.

From the PowerPoint budget attachment we were told that “The final carryforward amount for FY 2020-21 is $4,477,855.” 

Well of course! If you don’t hire for funded positions, you’re going to have a huge carryforward from last year. But what about what’s not getting done? Nobody was interested.

But Mendo got a good chunk of Biden bucks: “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Funded $8,966,905 in FY 2020-21; $7,212,551 was used on County operational expenses; $3,941,547 of the County operational expenses was for housing and alternate care site needs.”

Another attachment reported that “The per capita income in Mendocino County is $29,752 and median household income is $53,8412…”

The Supervisors pay themselves $84k plus generous benefits, well over three times what the average Mendolander makes, most of whom get no benefits of any kind. This means that half of Mendo makes under $30k a year. (California’s minimum wage is now $14 an hour, or in annual terms about $29k per year. In other words almost half of Mendo doesn’t even make the equivalent of the annual minimum wage.)

“… home-buyers in Mendocino County need a minimum qualifying income of $68,700. … In order not to be cost-burdened [sic], a household should not pay more than 30 to 35 percent of its income towards rental costs. The median rent numbers reveals that households in Mendocino County would need to earn at least $34,956 in annual income to afford a studio and at least $80,892 for a four bedroom house, without being cost-burdened.”

Right. Very keen insight. If you’re not making the minimum wage, you’re probably “cost-burdened.”

But despite the $4.5 million carryover, “the cost of the Jail expansion estimated cost over run, now totals $6,450,000 [which Mendo, not the state, must come up with]. While the County has a carryforward from FY 2020-21, the full impact of fire damages, drought, and COVID-19 related services and expenses are still not fully realized.” 

In fact, it appears that a lot more than that is “not fully realized.”

In the CEO’s report for last week there’s a very long and ever-growing list of “in process” board directives. The Board giving the directives never asks about them after they’re given, which kind of undermines the title of the list.

For example, last June the Board “directed” the Executive Office to “work with Department Heads in developing suggestions for one time expenses that will reduce ongoing expenses.” 

Nothing. No suggestions have been made. (Nobody asked us; we have quite a promising list, but it’d be a waste of our time to even mention them.)

Despite the Board’s recent backpedaling on the idea of taking over the Sheriff’s computer system and folding it into the County’s overall system, according to the directives list, back in March the Board adopted “A Resolution Adopting a New Classification - Director of Information Services. (Chief Information Officer), Salary No. 6298; and Amending the Position Allocation Table as Follows: Budget Unit 1960, Add 1.0 FTE Director of Information Services (Chief Information Officer) (Sponsor: Human Resources).” And it was the “general consensus of the Board to: Direct staff to look into the titles of both the ‘Information Services’ department and the proposed ‘Chief Information Officer’ position and see if a switch in titles to include ‘Information Technology’ would be less misleading.”

Has this resolution and directive been withdrawn in light of the Sheriff’s objections to the attempted takeover of his computer operation? No. the status lists this directive as “In Process.”

Also in March the Board ordered staff to “Conduct an annual independent audit of Measure B Funds.” This “annual” requirement of the Measure itself (originally passed back in 2017) has never been done despite well over $5 million having been spent on a $1 million house for crisis residential treatment. 

And just in case we weren’t asleep yet, the agenda assemblers (certainly not the Supervisors) added this baby to Monday’s agenda: 

“The [$80k] Strategic Planning facilitators [consultants] will update the Board on the accomplishments [sic] of the July 2021-January 2022 planning process. The facilitators and Task Force have met four times, delving into the specific input received from Department Heads, employee small groups, members of the Board of Supervisors and the Chief Executive Officer. The facilitators will share the points of convergence at this point and the plan for the next stage of input-focus groups with community groups and key informant interviews with local leaders.”

Only an $80-grand consultant from Sonoma County would “delve” into “points of convergence.”

While the supervisors busy themselves with strategic planning bs and a growing backlog of directives and ad hoc committees, their finance staff continues to refuse to provide basic budget info, the County is losing more people than they’re hiring, and the average Mendolander is lucky to “realize” the minimum wage.

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Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scaramella:

Why are you glorifying and making a folk hero out of a man who broke into people’s homes, stole what did not belong to him — mostly alcohol, not exactly Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family — and shooting his rifle at a deputy sheriff trying to capture him? If this man is guilty of the charges against him, including attempted murder, he belongs in prison for the rest of his hopefully short life.

Bernard Kamoroff


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ED REPLY: Just telling his story isn't glorifying Mr. Evers but we take your point.

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Albion Ridge Road

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THE COUNTY OF MENDOCINO works in mysterious ways. I remember an outside lawyer emerging from the County Courthouse asking, “What the hell just happened in there?” Counselor, the Green Curtain falls just north of Cloverdale, and all rationality can end abruptly.

AS A NEWSPAPER owner, I belong to a soft legion of the doomed, slow walking into techno obsolescence. The redoubtable Shari Schapmire, County Treasurer-Tax Collector, has priced the value of my business at $20.03. I've wondered since I paid up in August how Shari arrived at that figure, and what would she have done if I rounded off my remittance to an even $20? 

THERE was an interesting documentary on KQED the other night, interesting especially I would think to those of us still publishing a paper-paper in a country where few people, fewer by the day, read a paper-paper. I was all eyes and ears for the 90 minutes of the film as it tracked the fading ‘Storm Lake Times,’ a twice-weekly paper in an Iowa town of about 11,000. The paper's doomed efforts of its editor, Art Cullen, a Pulitzer Prize winner, to keep his paper alive and its nine staffers employed, three of them members of his family, made for some occasionally painful viewing. The man is intrepid, but a blurb at the end said he joined a couple of other life-support papers as a non-profit.

CULLEN'S PAPER, viewed from my Mendo experience, seems much like the South Coast's ICO, a struggling weekly that has stooped (imo) to printing a weekly roster of his advertisers publisher Steve McLaughlin calls “heroes.” I've always drawn the line at describing ava advertisers as “death defying,” but McLaughlin employs a half-dozen people and supports himself and his family out of what diminished proceeds he can wring out of his publication. The guy's rather a hero himself for keeping on. But dependence on the petit bourgeosie, the most timid people in any community who themselves are terrified of public opinion, limits big time what a publisher can print.

TOTING UP the number of people who derive at least some income from the ava, excluding our contributing writers, and considered as a business, I also come up with 9 people employed to greater or lesser degree, which is the number of people employed by the Storm Lake Times. 

I LOVE SHOUTING at publicly employed people, “Have you ever met a payroll?” I haven't either, strictly speaking, since myself and my colleague, The Major, work uncompensated except for random shots of ava-supplied Maker's Mark.

THE STORM LAKE paper is published out of the gutted downtown we find everywhere in America. The small businesses that used to support small town papers are gone to Walmarts and CostCo's, so Mr. Cullen finds himself without the life juice of a newspaper, its advertising.

YEARS AGO the late Ed Kowas, an on-the-lam judge who'd fled rural Indiana with money that didn't belong to him and had, of course, landed in Mendocino County, where you are whatever you say you are and history starts all over again every day. I was very fond of Ed and, when he was finally and inevitably busted by the FBI, I was as startled by his back story as everyone else — doubly startled because Ed had presided for several years as host for a KMFB talk show, and so much for the FBI sleuthing prowess. (If ever a police agency was more overrated than these… Ed Kowalski had become Ed Kowas. We might have a clue there, Agent Johnson.)

ANYWAY, ED ASKED ME on the air one morning, “Seriously, how is the ava funded? You don't have many ads and everyone hates you?” I said I was hated by all the right people and the paper was funded by Moscow gold. Ed wondered, “You mean you're funded by communists?”

THE AVA, from my iteration of it in January of '84, was pegged to the kamikaze strategy of publishing a paper I myself could read without wincing — I'm all wince at this point — and also pegged to the Mendocino County social-political reality of selling a weekly paper to a wildly diverse population, everyone from people who know how to pronounce paradigm — “par-a-dig-um” — to people who rightly condemn people who know how to say it. I figured I'd last a few months and be outtahere.

FROM its stormy first weeks until its stormy days of November 2021, the ava has largely depended on a combination of subscriptions, stand sales, a few legal ads and, lately, a growing roster of internet subscribers. (The “liberal” board of supervisors a few years ago even tried to knock out the paper's legals, a costly battle I lost at the appellate level but didn't quite succeed in denying me this particular revenue stream. That appellate loss — my second at the appellate level — left me with a total contempt for California's appellate judges as a gang of featherbedding, cretinous political appointees — Democrats, of course. If you're downtown in SF around the Civic Center some time, pop in for a look at appellate headquarters. The Saudi royal family doesn't even begin to understand “lavish.”) 

AS IT MIRACULOUSLY always has, the ava pays its bills, but paper-paper subscribers are dying off, the newsstands and book stores from Frisco to Arcata we used to depend on have mostly disappeared, and I'm at the days-numbered end of the actuarial tables, as is The Major. As are my colleagues at the surviving paper-papers of Mendocino County. As a print person, I'm reconciled to extinction, but I don't like it.

WHEN ROUND VALLEY (COVELO) was Clinton Valley, an illuminating comment by Northcoast historian, David Heller: “Clinton Valley is shown on an 1857 map that gives Pomo names for Little Lake, Sherwood, and Long Valleys instead of English names. There is an October, 1856 newspaper account of a fierce battle in the vicinity of the ‘US Reservation in Clinton Valley, Mendocino county’ that was fought when the ‘settlers’ tried to take them to that reservation, but the RV reservation hadn’t been set up as a collection location, the nearest such reservation was the Nom Lackee Reservation. It wasn’t until June 20th, 1856 that Simon Storms and some of his Yuba Indians came to RV and named the valley ‘Nom Cult.’ Just a month after the Kelsey and Asbill, and White parties, the Yuki fled at the approach of the new whitemen, having learned their lesson apparently from the Kelsey and Asbill party’s killing spree riding through the valley. Storms also reported that at that early date some Indians had been taken away as slaves. When Storms proposed to the Indian ‘captains’ that he wanted to build in the valley, and how the Indians lived at the Nom Lackee reservation, they agreed to work if he would protect their women and children. He agreed to leave three men in the valley to help guard them. Leaving the valley to return to the Nom Lackee reservation, he ran into a party of men seeking to go to the valley to settle and told them not to, that he had claimed the valley for the US government. I don’t think it stopped them.”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 19, 2021

Anderson, Mascot, Ramier

RICHARD ANDERSON, Ukiah. Corporal injury to spouse by strangulation or suffocation.

SUMMER MASCOT, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

STEVEN RAMIER, Willits. Grand theft. 

Smith, Vannucci, Want

ROBERT SMITH, Potter Valley. Vandalism.

NIALL VANNUCCI, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

SHAWN WANT SR., Covelo. Reckless evasion.

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A winery’s private crew was accused of wrongdoing. The case has exposed deep tensions in California

by Matthias Gafni

As the devastating Glass Fire ripped through the Napa Valley in October 2020, a state investigator made an unusual move: He ordered all the private firefighters who’d been hired by wineries and other wealthy interests in the area to pull into a dirt lot next to the St. Helena Reservoir.

Someone, the investigator suspected, had intentionally ignited what is known as a “backfire.” The defensive blaze — a potential crime — had burned out of control, setting off spot fires and burning into at least two vineyards, according to records obtained this month by The Chronicle.

The people summoned to the lot on the west side of the famed valley were part of a group that is becoming a bigger part of the wildfire crisis in California. As government resources have been stretched thin, insurance companies, moneyed landowners, wineries and even Lake Tahoe ski resorts have turned to private crews to shield their properties.

But those crews aren’t allowed to light fires or to operate in evacuation zones without permission. Their role by law is to primarily focus on what is known as pre-fire treatment of the landscape.

And so, as it unfolded, the Napa case highlighted the growing tensions between agencies like Cal Fire whose resources have been stretched by the catastrophic burns of recent years and independent crews who officials say can obstruct firefighters, cause damage and risk lives.

The unusual incident would come to involve a U.S. congressman who notified Cal Fire after he saw what he believed was a private crew lighting a backfire; a large winemaker that deployed a small army of firefighters, including the one accused of wrongdoing; and neighboring wineries whose vineyards were damaged.

“Private firefighters’ specific role should be nothing but defensive,” said Jack Piccinini, a retired Santa Rosa firefighter of four decades who reviewed documents related to the Napa case for The Chronicle. “This is exactly what we fear with private and insurance firefighters.”

On the day of the alleged backfire, the state investigator, Cal Fire Capt. Gary Uboldi, tore off pieces of paper and handed them out in the lot as smoke choked the hot fall air. Write down what you recall happening today, he told members of the half-dozen or so crews, and what you may know about an unauthorized burn along narrow and winding Spring Mountain Road.

It would be the start of an investigation that, according to the documents The Chronicle received through California’s public records law, led Uboldi and his team to recommend 13 criminal counts — including arson, trespassing and setting an illegal backfire — against the owner of Bella Wildfire & Forestry Inc., a private crew based in Placer County that was working for a winery.

The owner’s “actions and decision to conduct an unapproved backfiring operation during the incident violated several state laws, department policy, industry practices, and showed total disregard for the life safety of the citizens and assigned fire personnel on the Glass Fire,” Uboldi wrote in a 41-page report.

The backfire burned a couple hundred feet of guard rail and spotted across the road into private wineries. Firefighters battling the Glass Fire on the ground and in the air had to be redirected to extinguish it.

In the end, though, the case fell apart.

After Napa County prosecutors received the charging recommendations in March, their arson unit spent six months investigating before declining to file charges due to “insufficient evidence,” said Assistant District Attorney Paul Gero. He said it was difficult to prove who started the fire.

Reached last week by phone and email, the company owner, Ryan Bellanca, said his crew had not ignited a backfire on the day in question and had actually saved many homes and businesses.

“Who let 30-plus wineries burn cause they were so spread thin and couldn't advance quick enough?” he asked, referring to Cal Fire.

The Glass Fire erupted Sept. 27, 2020, among vineyards in the rolling hills of Napa County. To this day, its cause is not known.

Over three weeks, the fire spread into Sonoma County and burned more than 67,000 acres, destroying more than 1,500 structures, including the Chateau Boswell winery near St. Helena and the Castello di Amorosa winery near Calistoga, which lost $5 million worth of wine.

More than 2,000 firefighters battled the blaze, among them private crews hired by wineries, property owners and insurance companies to help the state’s overwhelmed firefighting force amid a historic burn season.

On Oct. 2, an unburned 2,700-acre island just west of downtown St. Helena, bisected by Spring Mountain Road, became a priority in the firefight. Temperatures in the area reached the mid-90s that day and winds blew 10 to 15 mph.

Jackson Family Wines’ Lokoya Winery was prepared. The company earlier that year had hired Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression Inc. of Chico to provide vegetation management, training and staffed engines in the event of a wildfire, according to the Cal Fire report. With the Glass Fire encroaching on the properties, Firestorm had subcontracted work out to Bella.

Bella, a small operation out of Weimar in the Sierra foothills, opened in 2008. The company specializes in fighting and preventing wildfires, doing prescribed burns and creating defensible space around properties.

Companies like Bella are proliferating. The National Wildfire Suppression Association, a trade group that oversees more than 300 private wildland fire services contractors, has trained more than 30,000 firefighters in the industry and repeatedly defends their work. A decade ago, the organization had less than 200 represented companies.

The night Bella arrived, Bellanca told The Chronicle, his crew worked with a state strike team assigned to the Glass Fire and had full communication with incident commanders. He said they held the fire from descending off a ridge and lit a backfire “to stop the flaming front from impacting our client’s buildings,” but asserted that state firefighters were in charge of the operation.

Officials at Cal Fire’s headquarters and its Sonoma-Napa Unit did not respond to requests to comment.

At 8 a.m. on Oct. 2, Bellanca said, the state firefighters left “and we were left to hold the mountain until 11 a.m.”

It was a busy day for a small network of private firefighters working to protect some of Jackson’s six vineyards in Napa County, as the Glass Fire had devoured much of the west side of the valley. Some cleared a fallen tree from a roadway, while others prepped a house and widened roads.

Around 9 a.m. that day, Brad Onorato picked up Rep. Mike Thompson and his wife from their St. Helena home to drive them to a Glass Fire briefing in Santa Rosa. It had been a chaotic week for the Thompsons. On the first day of the blaze, the congressman’s wife evacuated their home and slept in her car in Napa before Thompson flew out the next morning from Washington D.C. to join her.

Onorato, Thompson’s deputy chief of staff, described the drive up Spring Mountain Road in a one-page statement to Cal Fire investigators. He said that as he drove westbound, and as the road flattened out, they hit a thick plume of smoke.

“As the smoke cleared a bit, I observed several men on the south side of the road. One of them was pouring flames out of a can over the guardrail,” Onorato wrote. “I was a bit confused because these gentlemen did not appear to be firefighters. The Congressman told me it was clearly a private fire crew probably hired by an insurance company.”

Onorato wrote that he saw a man in a red shirt and brown pants operating the drip torch and placing it in a truck. Cal Fire indicated in its report that Onorato identified Bellanca as that man.

The congressman had a similar recollection. He told Uboldi that as they passed the upper gate to Keenan Winery they were stopped by a man in firefighter gear standing near a Bella truck. With flames on both sides of the road, the congressman said he rolled down his window to ask what was happening, with the man responding that they were trying to catch a spot fire. He said the man denied they had been doing a backfire.

He also spotted a drip torch on the guard rail. In a phone interview with The Chronicle, the congressman said he was so bothered by what he saw that he reached out to Cal Fire.

“It didn’t strike me as the usual operating procedure for private firefighters,” Thompson said.

Bellanca questioned the witness accounts after reviewing the Cal Fire report.

“Folks saw me light a backfire?” Bellanca wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “That’s wild cause I thought the entire area was evacuated? How could we light a backfire when the flaming front impacted the ridge the night before and was already burning at us that morning from the east.”

Around noon on Oct. 2, Uboldi was at the St. Helena Cal Fire station making phone calls in an effort to determine the cause of the bigger Glass Fire. Upon hearing reports of an unauthorized backfire, he jumped in his truck and drove south, past storied wineries, rising 2,000 feet above the valley.

He stopped and directed private fire companies he encountered to meet at the reservoir dirt lot, across the street from Spring Mountain Winery. Most told him they worked for Jackson. But when the investigator told them to write down what they could recall about the alleged backfire, they all cooperated — except one.

The entire Bella crew became “unreceptive and uncooperative,” Uboldi wrote. They refused to give their names, lawyered up and recorded him with their phones. Members of Bella, records show, each handed back notes refusing to make a statement, as one of them wrote, “under duress and intimidation of Cal Fire.”

When asked if his crew refused to talk to investigators, Bellanca said, “you’re damn right!” He told The Chronicle, “Once they approached my battalion chief and got in his face we started recording them. They were way out of line and we made sure to document for our own protection from there.”

But other witnesses pointed fingers at Bellanca’s company. A crew member for Firestorm, Bob Alvarez, told Uboldi he saw Bella personnel conducting a backfire along a driveway. He said he thought they were working with Cal Fire, according to the state report.

Michael Howard of San Diego County-based Capstone Fire and Safety Management told Uboldi, according to the report, that Bella crew members had told him they had “lost a backfiring operation along Spring Mountain Road.”

Capt. Matt Churchman of the American Canyon Fire Protection District said his engine had been assigned structure defense. When his crew arrived, he told Uboldi, they found 15 to 20 private firefighters prepping the properties’ structures for a backfiring operation. Churchman told the Bella crew to stop the firing operation, according to the report.

Churchman wrote in a note to Uboldi that the crew boss in charge of the firing operation had not notified incident command and wasn’t on radio communications with other firefighters. “A firefighter on the crew in the red shirt stated they had put fire on the ground earlier and that he was within his rights as a property rep to do so,” he wrote.

As he wrapped up his interviews, Uboldi told the Bella employees he would cite them for entering an evacuated zone. While writing them up, “they continued to verbally berate my partners and I,” Uboldi wrote.

Bellanca said his team was removed from the area.

Statements by Bella Wildfire & Forestry firefighters responding to inquiries by Cal Fire.

Cal Fire

Three days after his field interviews, on Oct. 5, Uboldi met with Firestorm President and Operations Manager Jess Wills in St. Helena. Wills, who also serves as treasurer and secretary on the private firefighters’ trade association board, said there had been no prior discussion of backfiring or rules of engagement between his company and Bella, according to the state report.

Wills said Bella had been backfiring along a downhill stretch of land belonging to their clients, but Uboldi said Jackson was farther south. Uboldi said he saw evidence the backfire was on Keenan Winery land.

Wills did not return a request for comment.

Jackson spokesman Sean Carroll said the company was not part of any Cal Fire investigation. He said they hadn’t reviewed the report and had no further comment.

In his report, Uboldi said Keenan Winery and neighboring Kieu Hoang Winery lost “land and vegetation” due to the illegal backfire.

A year later, signs of the alleged backfire along Spring Mountain Road are still apparent. The silver guardrail lays flat on the shoulder of the road with charred wooden posts buried beneath. Melted sign posts bend awkwardly above the wooded slope where investigators say the private firefighters attempted to burn the brush to create a wider buffer around their clients’ vineyards.

Reilly Keenan, whose grandfather bought the vineyards in 1974, is still angry about the turn of events. He said he initially evacuated the day the fire started, but returned a few days before the alleged backfire to protect his family and co-workers’ homes on their property.

Keenan recalled when the fire, “seemingly out of nowhere,” flashed above the winery’s “upper bowl vineyard,” below Spring Mountain Road.

 “It burned the entirety of the forest that buffers the vineyard from the road and then exploded across the street and raced up the mountain above us,” Keenan recalled. “Seemed like it took the firefighters above and across the street from us by surprise based on the frantic yelling and repositioning of trucks and other assets that I witnessed. We had no idea backfires were being lit nearby or on our property.”

Keenan said his family was “extremely lucky” that they lost very little, and that he still harbors a grudge against his neighbors — the ninth-largest wine producer in the United States, which owns 39 wineries around the world.

“It should be noted that my outrage from the backfires on our property is only surpassed by the outrage I feel when I’m reminded how much (Jackson) charges for their Lokoya wines,” he said.

Uboldi concluded his report blasting the private crews’ actions, while expressing concern about future fires.

If the owner of Bella “is allowed to continue to operate his business in this current manner with disregard to state law, agency policy and industry safety standards,” Uboldi wrote, “the likelihood of a future incident occurring involving a major injury or fatality of a firefighter or citizen is highly probable.”


* * *

"You're safe now, ma'am! Teenage boys are now heavily armed and patrolling the streets you wouldn't trust them to drive on."

* * *


The question of antisemitism in poetry came up somewhere in the nether world of internet connected to the name of T.S. Eliot. I thought it might be an essay I'd missed, perhaps referring to Ezra Pound. I was surprised to find they were referring to Eliot himself. His artistry conceals such a penchant. I still like Wagner's music even though he was Hitler's favorite.

— Dennis Jones

* * *

T.S. Eliot: The Poet and Anti-Semite, A New Look 

September 20, 2011, 6:28 pm 

Yale University Press recently published the letters of T.S. Eliot, who, many argue, was the most influential poet of the last century. The problem for us Jews, as ever, is that Eliot was an incorrigible anti-semite. So what do we do?

Personally, I’m never one to advocate throwing great artists under the bus because of their personal views. But nor am I one to argue that point by suggesting that the personal and the professional are entirely separate realms. Particularly for intellectuals—and T.S. Eliot epitomized the role, as not only a poet but even more so, a critic—the two realms easily dissolve into one.

Louis Menand’s review of the new T.S. Eliot suggests how. He argues that despite Eliot’s renown as a reformer of poetry—a true Modern, up there with Joyce—he never rejected the poetic tradition. He only appeared to do so, but really only tried to update traditional poetic forms—the epic poem, sonnets, ballads—for the modern era. That accounts for all the jagged-ness of his lines, the sometimes machine-line repetition, and the often numbing stoicism of his work. If you look closely, however, the allusions to Shakespeare and Dante and Ghazal are all there, and in ways that don’t mock but reverentially mimic the giants before him.

It’s too hard to tell whether his catholic literary tastes were the cause or consequence of his political views. Though the anti-semitic tag is usually pinned to Eliot’s back because of his close relationship with Charles Maurras, the ultra-conservative anti-semitic French author. What the letters make clear is that his anti-semitism went much deeper, and was much more ingrained in him. In a letter to his lawyer about a check owed to him by an American Jewish publisher, written in 1923, Eliot grumbles: “I am sick of doing business with Jew publishers who will not carry out their part of the contract unless they are forced to.”

That is what we’d call social anti-semitism. But there are more (though only slightly more) thought-out anti-semitic musings as well. In a letter from 1925 to a British poet, Eliot writes: “I am always inclined to suspect the racial envy and jealousy which makes that people [Jews] inclined to bolshevism in some form (not always political).”

To be sure, there are no bombshells in these letters. Readers got glimpses of Eliot’s anti-semitism in plenty of his published poems. In "Gerontion," he employs the stereotype of Jew as slumlord: “My house is a decayed house, / And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner.” In “Burbank With a Baedeker: Bleistein With a Cigar” there’s an oblique reference to Venice and Shakespeare’s Shylock: “On the Rialto once. / The rats are underneath the piles. / The jew is underneath the lot.”

As the critic Benjamin Irvy writes in his excellent review of the new letters, few scholars have overlooked Eliot’s anti-semitism. But like the many Jewish poets who admire his work, they simple accept it as one of his many flaws. To do otherwise would be to deny ourselves one of our greatest poets, if by no means a great man.

* * *

Gualala Log Train, 1890

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A reader writes that the COVID vaccine is experimental and has not had long-term study. The polio vaccine had one year of human trial before it was released for general use. The MRNA technology that produced COVID vaccines has been used in medicine for decades in cancer therapy. Plain and simple, it is not experimental.

Life is a tough sport. If people need long-term studies before making a move, they must never cross a street or wake up in the morning.

A virus can’t be controlled as long as there are people without immunity. Before vaccines the world had to rely on death to eliminate people without immunity or incarcerate (quarantine) the dying and anyone who had been exposed. It is public safety. It is about killing others if you don’t get vaccinated (or die or get locked up).

Dr. Roger Delgado


* * *

* * *

THE AMERICAN FASCISTS are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

— Vice President Henry A. Wallace, April 9, 1944.

* * *

TANNER CROSS: Call it cancel culture, call it censorship, call it what you want-all of our freedoms are threatened when the culturally accepted narrative is the only option for discussion. America is large and diverse, and some of us don't agree with the ideas that are touted as truth by cable news networks, Hollywood executives, or political leaders. We shouldn't be singled out for censorship. Teachers and parents should be allowed to have a say in what goes on in their kids' schools.

* * *

TED DACE: Was it wise for Rittenhouse to bring an automatic rifle to a protest? No. Was it wise for Rosenbaum to aggressively harass him? No. Did Rosenbaum deserve to die for his mistake? No. Does Rittenhouse deserve life in prison? No. He had good reason to think he was acting in self defense, and his original mistake of bringing the rifle does not equate to murder. Sorry to be so negative, but there's just no way of making this right.

* * *

Andre The Giant Holding Beer Can

* * *

A MASOCHIST BY INCLINATION, I watched an episode of the Hillary documentary on Hulu last night & was struck by two things: Thing 1. after all the renaissance weekends, encounter groups, seances with Eleanor Roosevelt, election postmortems (2008 & 2016), HRC remains the least self-aware political figure of our time, except perhaps for James Comey, who, ironically, would have made a perfect partner for her in an alt. life. Thing 2: Bill had a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office. No wonder he gave a pardon to Marc Rich instead of Leonard Peltier. — Jeff St. Clair

* * *

MILES DAVIS on how drummer Max Roach led him to kick heroin: “Max Roach walked up to me one day on the street. We were real tight. And he said, ‘Damn, man, you sure do look good. What’s happening?’ But I could tell he was looking at me. And as he left, he touched me on MY pocket. He put $100 in my pocket. And I didn’t dig it until he left, telling me I looked good and then giving me a hundred dollars like I’m some fucking bum. And that’s all you are when you use that shit. I went right to St. Louis and kicked.” (1983 interview with David Breskin).

* * *

1936 Log Truck, Ukiah

* * *


Riots seem rather subdued, enthusiasm for vandalism and destruction seems to be waning. Even in Portland — Riot Central — apparently only about 35 Antifa showed up; they blocked some streets, broke out the window of an automobile, smashed plate glass at some poor guy's printshop, and caused damage at the local jail. All pretty mild. Maybe we have turned a corner. We shall see what happens tonight.

* * *

MEGHAN MCCAIN: “I believe in our ideals, I believe in our freedom, I even believe that despite the past five years of strife, division and — yes — violence, there is still no other place I would rather be and no other time I would rather live in. Having said that, 2020's notorious summer of madness certainly tested my optimism. During that summer of Covid lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd, the subsequent burning down of American cities, small businesses and abject violence, what was up felt down and what was down felt up. Journalists would stand in front of burning buildings and call it ‘mostly peaceful protesting.’ It was the summer of complete and total madness. It was the summer I no longer had faith I could live in New York City with my soon-to-be-born baby. It was the summer I feared there was almost nothing left that progressives and I could come together on. It was the summer I and my husband promised each other we would never pay taxes in a state where we couldn’t legally keep guns in our home.”

* * *


* * *


"Good enough, you're hired, son, and you start right now.. Here's your cap and your name-tag. Keys are there. Everybody signs in, no exceptions except for cops and Mister Jimmy's boys. If there's trouble, the bat is clipped under here -- see? You pull it down and toward you. Try it. Yeah, yeah, good. Good grip. And remember, don't sweat it: what we lose on the rooms we make on the sandwiches. I'll be at Taka's, here's the number; don't call me unless the whole place is on fire. Got it? Great. Bye."

The recording of last night's (2021-11-19) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) is right here:

Email me your writing on any subject and I'll read it on the radio next week. That's what I'm here for. If it's more than plain text, please provide a link to the media you want me to see or hear, rather than attach it.

This show has poetry by Notty Bumbo, Naty Osa, Suzi Long and others; the first draft of the first chapter of a new book-in-progress by David Herstle Jones; part two of Scott M. Peterson's Mendocino Art Bust; and so on, until it closes with the latest episode (Ep. 38) of Doug Nunn's Snap Sessions podcast, which includes a wide-ranging conversation between Doug and tech-savvy musician-repairperson-carpenter-teacher Francis Rutherford. Not to mention, writer Kent Wallace called early in the show from the next future calendar date in Viet Nam, via the magic of the International Date Line that has confused more than one $400,000,000 F-35's flight computer into requiring a frantic emergency reboot rather than crash into the sea; and various personal historical items between us, Kent and me, previously muddled in my understanding, were made clear over the course of about half an hour, as you'll hear (see above). Sebastian Iturralde read his story /Stone Creature/. Also Dave Frishberg died, so the break music is mostly a smattering of his piano tunes and, for some reason, the French-whisper-sung music of Nataly Dawn (Pomplamoose). Nataly is continuing to record while battling cancer, and I hope to Christ she wins. I hope she and her doctor kick its ass all the way to Tibet.

FURTHERMORE, at you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering that show together. Such as, for instance:

The actual dictionary definition of happiness. Put this on repeat, and repeat and repeat. If there's a clog in the pipes of your own happiness, maybe this will jog it loose and get things flowing again.

This is like that song in /Oklahoma/ about Kansas City, where they gone about as fur as they c'n go. I love it that the performer had the thoughtful courtesy to remind her fan to take the camera off his head to not ruin it with the performance urine, though cameras are really okay with that anymore because they have to be.

Dorothy Parker once said, "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." You'll notice all these tacky piles of crap (the homes, I mean) have a sex altar, it's spelled wrong every time (alter), and it looks like River Tam's cryo box in the pilot episode of Firefly. Which is extra creepy for a sex altar because she was not only technically temporarily dead but cold enough for her flesh to condense water vapor out of nearby air, as well as her being only 15 years old. "You rich people. What'd you do, kill your folks for the family fortune?" Somebody else's folks, too. Lots of somebody elses and their folks; that's where the fortune came from in the first place. Behind every fortune is a great crime, or several. (Speaking of which the Skunk Train-ride company just won its court case and is poised to eminent-domain-winkle a few gazillion dollars of prime real estate out of Fort Bragg. More about that next week.)

And our sun, the heating system. They used to worship this thing, and cut people's hearts out to please it. Imagine if they could have seen it like this. They'd plotz, but in a good way.

— Marco McClean,,

* * *

Albion River

* * *


by Adrienne Bankert and Sydney Kalich

WASHINGTON — A Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level, and it’s gaining bipartisan support. 

The measure would not change local-level restrictions, meaning that states would still determine their own marijuana statutes. 

But the bill would levy a 3% federal excise tax on all cannabis products, proceeds from which would go to small businesses, retraining law enforcement and mental health services, among other services. The measure would also expunge nonviolent, cannabis-only related offenses.

“It allows states to do what they are doing today and want to do with regards to release and expungement,” said South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who introduced the bill. “It gets the federal government out of the way of what states are already doing today and levies a 3% excise tax. It creates a framework for regulation at the federal level much like alcohol.”

Mace said the bill will be co-sponsored by at least half a dozen GOP House members. 

“I tried to make this palatable for both sides of the aisle, and having expungement and release of federal non-violent cannabis users was a big component of that,” said Mace. “Republicans and Democrats alike have for years now tried to create second chances for these kinds of individuals and this bill does that. It will affect about 2,600 inmates, given the expungement and release.” 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states and four territories allow medical cannabis use, while 18 states, two territories and the District of Columbia allow non-medical adult use.

American support for marijuana legalization has grown, underscoring a national shift as more states have embraced cannabis for medical or recreational use. According to a Gallup survey conducted earlier this year, more than two in three Americans supported legalizing marijuana, maintaining a record high reached a year earlier.

The measure would tackle regulation of marijuana in three silos, giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture purview over growers, while the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would oversee the cannabis industry. Medical marijuana would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Mace said, adding that she would propose the drug be regulated similarly to alcohol.

But some of Mace’s fellow South Carolina Republicans have pushed back against the bill. South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick released a statement rebuking Mace’s bill, not referencing her by name but saying the state GOP opposed “any effort to legalize, decriminalize the use of controlled substances, and that includes this bill.”

“I don’t know why some Republicans are pushing back on federalism and states rights. That’s something that Republicans champion right?” Mace said on “Morning in America.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) in July became the chamber’s first leader to back legalizing marijuana, pledging to “make this a priority in the Senate,” where Sens. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, and Ron Wyden, of Oregon, have drafted legislation. Mace said the tax on Schumer’s proposal was too high. 

“The beauty of the 3% excise tax, it is very much different than Senator Schumer’s proposal of 25%. If you have a tax that high, there’s going to continue to be an illegal illicit and black market,” said Mace. “And so this bill, again, would provide a framework that would reduce the proclivity for an illicit market or a black market in states across the country.” 

Legalization advocates hope to have a champion in Vice President Kamala Harris, who said before her election that making pot legal at the federal level is the “smart thing to do.”

Cannabis companies recently have launched a celebrity-infused campaign to enlist marijuana users to pressure members of Congress to legalize pot nationwide. The “Cannabis in Common” initiative makes it easier for supporters to email or call their congressional representatives and push for making marijuana legal. 

Pro-legalization groups have mounted state and federal campaigns for years, and advocates are split about “Cannabis in Common,” which isn’t focused on any particular piece of legislation. Organizers say it breaks ground by extensively involving major industry players and mobilizing their customers.

(Nexstar Media Wire)


  1. Lee Edmundson November 21, 2021

    Dr. Paul Lagomarsino, R.I.P.

    I suppose there are many, many folks up here who have a Lago story. Here’s mine:

    I was fight choreographer for Gloriana Opera Company’s production of The Man of La Mancha back in the 1990s. One rehearsal, one of the actors in the big fight scene I’d choreographed was out at sea fishing and I stepped in for him. Fight went great except the edge of one of the actors boot heels came down on the little finger of my left hand. We finished the fight rehearsal, but I couldn’t push the finger back into place.
    Producer Harry Rothman drove me to the Emergency Room at the hospital. They took x-rays of the finger. Just as the ‘film’ came out, Lagomarsino came through the room. He said, “Let me see that film.” He was like a kid in a candy store. He viewed it and opined, “You have a classic pugilist (or boxer’s) fracture. Let me fix it.” Which he did.
    A pugilist fracture shanks up the bone lengthwise, instead of breaking across the bone.

    Lago gave me a neural block, inserted two pins — one long, one short — to hold the healing bone fragments in place. Told me to come back and see him in six weeks, which I did.

    It was during an area wide electrical outage and the hospital was on emergency power.
    There was an alcove in a corridor in which there was a gurney. Paul said “Let’s go here.”
    I’m laying there, Paul administered an anesthetic, and the asked me to hold the x-ray up to the light so he could see what he was doing, where he was going.

    So there I am, having my left hand cut into while holding up the x-ray with my right hand.

    He opened me up and removed the short pin quite expeditiously. But bone had grown over the long pin. He dug and dug and dug but couldn’t grab the head of the long pin. “Sorry fella, but you’re gonna have to come back in and have a neural block.” Which I did. All the while we were talking local current events and cracking jokes. Unreal. But oh so very real.

    I’ve never met a Doctor before or since who evinced such a passion and dedication to their art, their craft. Lago was a one of a kind and we will be lucky to see his kind ever again.

    An artist. A craftsman. A true gentleman and mensch. Thanks to Lago I can close my left hand and not have my pocket change fall out the bottom of it. I have both both pins in my collection of interesting things.

    Another good one gone. (Sigh.)

  2. chuck dunbar November 21, 2021

    Fine tale and tribute to a great doctor. Thanks, Lee.

  3. Marmon November 21, 2021


    A news segment dealing with Chris Gurr, Ann Borges, Will Knight and Diane Curry will air tonight on NBC Bay Area following Sunday night football.


  4. George Hollister November 21, 2021

    “Mountain lions are naturally very wary of humans, and will avoid them in all circumstances,” Lute continued. “There are resources to address the situation, (such as) enhancing the fencing and security.”

    My experience has been that mountain lions are only very wary of humans when they perceive humans as a threat. If they have never experienced seeing humans kill one of their own, their wariness is limited.

    • Harvey Reading November 21, 2021

      I’ll take the word of the expert over that of some self-made “scientist”. You peddle too much BS for me to take you seriously–on any subject.

    • Stephen Rosenthal November 21, 2021

      Seems to me Ms. Simpson needs a lesson in the order of the natural world and an adjustment to her priorities. So here’s a pop quiz.
      1: Who was there first – the mountain lions or the goats?
      2: What educational benefit/lesson are the goats teaching the children as part of the curriculum of a public school?
      3: If the school district is operating at a $400,000 deficit, why are goats part of the budget?

      Ms. Simpson will be graded (by me) based on her answers, although I don’t expect her to take this test. So I’ll just go ahead and educate her on the most important lesson to be learned: don’t have goats if you cannot safely house them.

      • George Hollister November 21, 2021

        From Wikipedia:
        “It is one of the oldest domesticated species of animal, according to archaeological evidence that its earliest domestication occurred in Iran at 10,000 calibrated calendar years ago.[2]”

        “”Goat-herding is an ancient tradition that is still important in places like Egypt.”

        “Goats have been used for milk, meat, fur, and skins across much of the world.[3] Milk from goats is often turned into goat cheese.”

        “Approximately 440 million goats are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide.[42]”

        I have to guess that from the time goats were first domesticated, predators have been a problem. Same for sheep. The value today, here in Mendocino County, is that there is a growing population of people who eat goat meat, and goat cheese. Goats are also raised to graze on grass, and brush to reduce fuel for fires. This is a growing, and needed business.

        • Bruce McEwen November 21, 2021

          This is impudent nonsense, George. Divide 440 mil into 7+ billion hungry mouths, and you see very few people eating goat head soup, much less any mutton — although lamb chops from Down Under are still eaten by a few — so, in short, who gives a rat’s rectum if a lion gets an occasional smelly old goat?

          Sure, lions take out yuppies occasionally, and I recall a spate of such incidents in the woods around Boulder, Colorado, back in the 80s, but the victims were all children or small women; one, a banker’s son.

          In Wyoming I witnessed a lot of goat and sheep killing that were attributed to catty mounts, but were actually the work of a couple of mongrel dogs, like Old Yeller, that looked like lions to such fools as had a glimpse of ’em or viewed the carcasses. Finally, a wildlife biologist set the ranchers straight, and from then on Colorado tourists had a hard time letting their golden labs run free in the Wyoming outback.

          The lion, they say, he’s most magnanimously fair;
          He cares not your name, nor considers your heir;
          Little does he wot whether you’re rich or poor;
          You may be welcome at his table; of this I’m quite sure.

          Neither will he fault you on the color of your skin,
          For it’s what’s on the inside that matters to him!
          Republican or Democrat, Christian or Jew,
          As long as you’re tasteful and pleasant to chew…

          — Over to you, James…

          • Stephen Rosenthal November 21, 2021

            “This is impudent nonsense, George.”

            Allow me to second that and pile on. What does any of the nonsense have to do with any of the pop quiz questions?

            • George Hollister November 21, 2021

              It is important for future farmers to learn about goats. There is a need for goats, and young people who want to raise them here in Mendocino County. So I applaud the school program in Boonville that has students raising goats. And in the future if there might be a rare occurrence where it’s necessary to take out a predator, they are following an inherent part of a 10 thousand year old tradition.

              • Bruce McEwen November 21, 2021

                “Goats and sheep, with their sharp hooves and teeth, over the course of a mere thousand years, along with charcoal burners and primitive timber harvesters — remember the famed Cedars of Lebanon — reduced what we call the once verdant Mid-East into a rocky, dusty wasteland, by the time of King David; and modern depredations have seen entire mountains disappear into the jaws of rock crushers, making sand and gravel for a colossal feat of concrete (one of the most frightful adjuncts to global warming, as you well know) Oh, yes, and by the by, Future Farmers ought to capitalized, don’t you also agree?

                You know this, George. I’m quoting one of your rightwing think tank authors, here. So surely you won’t contradict the wisdom of taking cows, sheep and goats off the BLM and National Forests, eh?

              • Stephen Rosenthal November 21, 2021

                Directly from the handbook of the Farm Bureau president. What I originally wrote bears repeating: don’t have goats if you cannot safely house them.

          • George Hollister November 21, 2021

            Bruce, I like your humor. And, yes dogs are likely a bigger problem. But that does not mean lions can’t be a problem, too. But it also doesn’t mean all dogs, or all lions, or all coyotes are a problem, either. But there are situations were there can be problems, and in all these cases the three Ss might apply.

            • Bruce McEwen November 21, 2021

              True, true enough. But I think it does mean that all conservatives are rabid reactionaries, and pretty much unaffected by either reason or wit, don’t you?

              • George Hollister November 22, 2021

                I don’t know where rabid reactionaries fits in this context. Domestic dog problems are more easily dealt with. Dogs kill goats for fun. While wild predators can do the same, they are usually out for meat, and will adjust their behavior to fit the circumstance, like coming at night. Much of the success of small livestock producers depends on their commitment in doing what they do. Part of that commitment involves dealing with predators in the most practical way possible. I know a goat farmer in Kern County who is successful, and he uses protector dogs. Those dogs kill anything they consider a threat to the herd. If people did what the protector dogs did, they would be in jail.

                • Harvey Reading November 22, 2021

                  “For fun…”? What are you claiming to be now? A pet psychologist?

                  The goat farmer should be in prison. if livestock farmers have a predator “problem” let them get off their lazy asses, or hire herders, and chase off the beasts. Livestock farmers (and timber-baron forest murderers) have been given far too many breaks. In the case of livestock farmers, these breaks include the despicable “Wildlife Services”–which should be defunded–in the US Dept of Agriculture.

                  Time to put the welfare queens in their places. Better yet, put them down, as they put down native predators…and pets. Take your Farm Bureau and shove it, old man! It’s nothing but a propaganda factory of the lowest order.

          • Marmon November 21, 2021

            My daughter in Georgia raises goats, makes and sells Goat Milk Soap. They also help on fire prevention on my daughter’s 10 acre wooded ranch.


  5. Cotdbigun November 21, 2021

    I knew the holy man believer story was fake when I realized that they failed to provide a link begging for money.

    • Craig Stehr November 21, 2021

      Thank you very much for the opportunity to mention that the Earth First! Media Center in Garberville, CA is happily forging ahead with the digitization of the video archive and storing it in the cloud. I’m down to less than $2,000 after contributing for the past three weeks. Of course I am the Eternal Witness, and I accept money to do what is necessary in the face of a crazy civilization and its discontents!

  6. Marmon November 21, 2021

    “Mother’s pray for your sons. The evil left wants to destroy them. They hate how God made them. They hate their masculine strength that makes them guard, protect, and defend the innocent. While they are young protect their bodies, mind, & souls. Raise them to be men of God.”

    -Marjorie Taylor Greene


    • Bruce Anderson November 21, 2021

      Mental Health emergency! Front desk, please.

  7. chuck dunbar November 21, 2021

    MOTHERS PRAY FOR CIVILITY (no apostrophe)

    Alas, Ms. Marjorie Taylor Green,
    Your screed’s so crude and obscene.
    Pray leave us now, depart in haste–
    Stay those words, stifle that scream.

  8. Joe November 21, 2021

    “You’re safe now, ma’am! Teenage boys are now heavily armed and patrolling the streets you wouldn’t trust them to drive on.”

    Yeah about the same age they are signed up for the draft and sent off to fight bankers wars to “keep you safe”.

    • Harvey Reading November 22, 2021

      Amen. The blind lead the gullible in the US.

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