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CLEARING SKIES AND MILD TEMPERATURES are in store for today under the influence of high pressure. A couple of weakening cold fronts will bring periods of spotty light rain Tuesday evening through Thursday. Some frosty mornings will follow toward the end of the week. Periods of steadier rain, gusty winds, and some mountain snow are expected over the weekend into next week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S DRIZZLE: Most of Mendocino County was lucky to reach a tenth-of-an-inch through last night. Leggett lead the way with a half inch.
49 NEW COVID CASES (since last Friday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
TONIGHT, Anderson Valley High School will be back in the gym with our first home game since covid shut everything down in March 2020. Please come out and show your support for our teams. They have worked so hard and having a big crowd would help motivate them and get them closer to a place of normalcy. Varsity girls starts at 5:30 followed by varsity boys. GO PANTHERS!! (Coach Rhodes)
THE MISGUIDED FINANCIAL CONSOLIDATION PROPOSAL
by Chamise Cubbison, Acting Auditor-Controller
The Auditor-Controller calculates the property tax rates, the distribution factors for ad valorem taxes, and distributes $160 million dollars to the County, Schools, School Districts, Colleges and Special Districts. The Controller is the chief accounting officer of the County and prescribes and exercises general supervision, including the ability to review departmental and countywide internal controls, over the accounting forms and method of keeping the accounts of all offices, departments and institutions. The Auditor-Controller reviews and posts all deposits of funds received by the Treasurer and audits the Treasurer’s treasury count on a monthly basis.
The Auditor-Controller’s office staff audit department purchases, invoices and other financial transactions on a daily basis, issues payments to vendors and contractors, audits and completes bi-weekly payroll for all county employees, authorizes wire transfers, performs budget tracking, reviews Special District accounts payable, audits transient occupancy tax (TOT) returns, tracks the status of Special District audit reports and receives their annual budgets, prepares a multitude of state reports in the areas of sales tax, property taxes, payroll taxes, Counties and Special District Financial Transactions Reports, and participates in the annual county audit and the preparation of the annual comprehensive financial report.
The Auditor-Controller is the official responsible for preparing the revisions to the proposed budget and other budget revisions. The Auditor, along with the County Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for approving any transfers or revisions to the Adopted Budget, or as allowed under the authority prescribed by the State or Board including monitoring, authorizing additional appropriation controls and administering those controls over the Annual budget.
The Auditor-Controller’s office and the Treasurer Tax-Collector should not be combined into one elected office. No compelling reasons have been indicated and no in depth review of the offices has been conducted. There has been no communication with myself to discuss the consolidation beyond notifying me of the upcoming agenda items. There has been no discussion about Board concerns, nor desired goals or outcomes other than what may be taking place in other offices behind closed doors.
In my opinion, there are no efficiencies to be realized and the risk of collapse of two functioning departments that are key to all County departments and functions is real.
In each office, the elected department head is a working department head. Both offices require the experience and skills of the various positions within them and if combined would still have the same amount of work for at least the same number of FTEs (Full-Time Equivalent positions), if not possibly more. In addition, consolidation would require yet another annual audit for the County to pay for and participate in. This new audit would be specifically to insure that the internal controls and the separation of duties required by code are adhered to in the combined office.
These two offices have been working through the additional workload required for the Property Tax System conversion on top of their normal duties, while short staffed and through the nearly two years of pandemic. We need to finish the Property Tax System conversion, put in place new business practices for all offices involved in the project and not be forced to take on the additional burden of a transition to a combined office with new rules and processes.
It is quite likely that some staff will choose not to work under the combined office structure and will likely transfer to another department or leave the County workforce. Given the current issues with attracting and hiring new employees across all areas, these offices cannot afford to lose any additional staff, especially those with years of institutional knowledge. Ideally, the Board would be working with these offices to ensure that any re-classifications and compensation adjustments necessary to deal with compaction are addressed in order to shore up these offices going into the future. Any true leader or professional can see there is substantial risk in undertaking a change like the one being considered with no research of the possible pros/cons, no documented goals or desired outcomes, no transition plan which includes meeting with staff and creating new systems and procedures.
Sadly, there is false information being distributed to try to provide minimal justification for the Board’s recent action which was taken with no supporting information or rationale other than because they can. I would like to address two recent comments circulating in the community.
First, according to recent information being circulated by email, the following has been attributed to Supervisor Gjerde “…this is an opportunity to create increased visibility and accountability through the consolidation of a single elected officer accountable for these financial matters. One example: visitor transient occupancy tax (TOT) is collected by the elected Treasurer. But the Treasurer does not verify the business/Airbnb pays all the tax it collected from visitors. Verification, if it were to occur, is the responsibility of the Auditor. However, the Auditor has not verified full payment in several years. By establishing a single elected officeholder we will provide one point of accountability. No more pointing fingers between two offices, with taxes going uncollected for essential services.”
If Supervisor Gjerde made these comments, it shows that he is misrepresenting government code, doesn’t understand what the Auditor-Controller’s office does and has forgotten his own comments and recent County Board actions during the pandemic.
Combining the offices will not create greater accountability. It will make a single elected official accountable. Currently there are two elected officials with responsibilities relating to TOT collections. It will also reduce the qualifications of the Auditor-Controller as the newly combined office will require that the individual meet either one of the Auditor qualifications OR one of the qualifications of the Treasurer, which are less accounting focused than the Auditor’s qualifications.
The Auditor-Controller’s office has a position, that until the incumbent retired in early 2021, was responsible for performing TOT audits. Prior to the pandemic, those audits were performed largely in person at the lodging establishment or in our office with financial documents submitted by the establishment. In person audits ceased when the pandemic started due to Public Health Orders.
During the April 28, 2020, Board meeting where the Board took action to extend the deadline for lodging establishments to file the Transient Occupancy Tax returns and taxes, Supervisor Gjerde’s comments (5:25:43 into the meeting) indicated that he was concerned that paying their taxes could cause some of the establishments to file bankruptcy and possibly lose their properties, which might delay the economic recovery. He said the intent was to help those lodging operators re-open when they are allowed to re-open. All of which provided a clear indication that he supported them using the County’s TOT tax revenue they were holding to help “float” their business’ cash flow during the pandemic.
Our office paused nearly all audits when the Board took the action to extend the deadline for filing and paying TOT taxes. We thought it would add insult to injury to be asking those establishments to prepare for, and schedule time to, participate in an audit while trying to navigate the multitude of public health requirements and the impacts that they may be experiencing due to loss of revenue due to shelter in place orders impacting the state.
We believed that the Board action further supported that pause. We have not been able to fill the staff auditor position in spite of several recruitments. The position is one that we have requested be re-classified due to limitations caused by the qualifications and the salary due to compaction not addressed when the County negotiated raises nearly three years ago. It could take six months or more before the County addresses this position. Our office has been looking into other ways to address the TOT audits, which may include contracting out those services.
TOT receipts had been steadily increasing prior to the start of the pandemic and have bounced back quickly after the first half of calendar year 2020. The numbers for TOT indicate that the establishments are reporting and paying taxes and that the Treasurer is collecting the funds. The Auditor-Controller’s office will resume auditing returns and receipts when staffing and resources become available either through the hiring of staff or new contract services.
This is clearly not a substantiated reason for consolidation of the offices of the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer Tax-Collector.
Second, according to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Supervisor Gjerde recently implied that if the offices of the Auditor-Controller and the Treasurer Tax-Collector were consolidated the County’s new property tax administration system would have been implemented sooner.
This allegation is completely false and incredibly disrespectful to all of the staff from the four departments that have been involved in the property tax system conversion project (Assessor-Clerk-Recorder, Auditor-Controller, Treasurer Tax- Collector, and Information Services). If Supervisor Gjerde made this comment, he is totally out of touch, has not been paying any attention to this project and has no regard for employee morale whatsoever.
California property tax is the most complicated in the nation and every county in the state handles property tax differently. There is no “off the shelf” software product available. The County issued an RFP for the replacement of the property tax system in 2014. There was one bidder, Thomsen Reuter. The County entered into a contract with the software developer in June 2015. However, at that time the company was committed to finishing their $90 million-plus property tax system conversion with Riverside County before moving on to other California counties. There were several other counties in line before Mendocino County. The Riverside project took more than six years to “go live” and is still not fully completed.
When I started with the Auditor-Controller’s office in January 2018, it was apparent that we were still several counties down the list and that we were on the verge of losing an immense amount of key historical knowledge with the retirements of Assessor Sue Ranochak and Assistant Auditor-Controller Lucy Simonson who had worked in property tax for more than 25 years. These individuals would be critical to a successful conversion for Mendocino County. I brought an item forward which was passed, despite Supervisor Gjerde’s opposition, to bring back Ms. Simonson as extra help after her retirement, primarily for her property tax knowledge.
By April 2018, I had personally made a connection with Ann Kurz, Thomsen Reuter’s Head of Sales to try to find out what the status was of our project, what we could do, if anything, to be as ready as possible for when they were ready to move forward, and to implore them to expedite our project due to the risk that we would lose access to the retired staff with decades of historical knowledge of our system before they got to us. She put me in touch with a group of California counties that either had their product or were in similar situations as Mendocino (in line waiting for them to complete Riverside County) which held monthly calls to share information about the software or to share updates on their conversions. I kept up to date on any lessons learned with the software and the status of the Riverside project by participating in the monthly calls, and attending California State Association of County Auditors’ conferences and Property Tax Managers’ meetings.
Once Thomsen Reuter made some of their project team available in April 2019, Mendocino County staff immediately began work on the project, met with the software developers in person and began reviewing database configurations and providing every possible report/file/document available to insure they were brought up to speed on the way our system worked. The company was not initially ready to begin focusing fulltime on Mendocino, but County staff was providing information and responding to inquiries timely.
Normally the company would have sent a team to work onsite with the client through the delivery of the product. Unfortunately, once the company was ready to dedicate their resources in earnest to the Mendocino project, the pandemic had already taken hold and all remaining conversion work, testing, configuration and training had to be completed through remote sessions. County staff and the company had to adapt to new ways of conducting business, with company staff working remotely all over the country. During the project Thomsen Reuter sold the property tax portion of their business to Harris Technologies. We were fortunate that there was only minor impact from that sale.
County staff have worked countless hours in addition to covering their regular full-time duties, some working nights and weekend, forgoing vacations for more than two years, not traveling to see loved ones in order to avoid quarantine requirements, working through office COVID-19 outbreaks/quarantines and the death of a coworker due to COVID-19 as well as the loss of staff not willing to learn the new system.
Remarkably, in spite of all the challenges, the County was able to “go-live” with several features of the program in February 2021, but not without issues and challenges. The County continues to have challenges holding the company to delivering the full functionality and accuracy in the converted data we expected.
This project was a huge undertaking. I am confident there is nothing that the offices involved could have done to shorten the timeline this project was delivered in. I am proud of the work that everyone involved has done through their willingness to sacrifice personal time with their family and friends, their sheer determination to persevere and their commitment to our community because this has been a remarkably challenging endeavor.
Implying that somehow the consolidation of the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer Tax-Collector offices could have resulted in the property tax system being implemented sooner is ridiculous, shows that this Supervisor is totally out of touch and is frankly insulting to everyone who has worked, and continues to work, so hard on this project.
In closing, I hope that this Board will make the right decision, drop this idea, take action to respectfully learn about staff challenges, appreciate these hard working employees and provide the resources and support we need to continue doing our jobs without future misguided interference.
THE LAST STEELHEAD?
This past Sunday at 10:48 am I was standing on the edge of Hwy 128 as it rises on the bluff beside the mouth of the Navarro River. That was the time this year’s king tide was to hit its maximum 7-something feet and I wanted to see if it would be enough to bridge the sand bar and open the river to the ocean.
No such luck!
Or maybe good luck indeed depending how you look at it. Last year a second run of steelhead were able to make it up to Philo where they hung out waiting for enough water to continue upstream to their spawning areas. At one point I counted 70-something big ones. They waited and waited until the river ceased flowing to the point it became a series of unconnected pools. The number of steelhead dwindled until one day there were only seven or so left. As I walked past they all stayed in the deeper far side of the pool they were in. Shortly, it couldn’t have been more than about 3 or 4 minutes, I turned and walked back the way I came. Now there was a 20 inch or more steelhead snuggled right up to the bank. I wondered if it had come over to ask for help. Almost crying I knelt down and petted the back of this wonderful creature as you might gently pet a dog. It stayed in place and then I picked it up, turned it to face me and sung it a couple lines to an Indian good luck song I know before putting it back in the water. When I did so it swam slowly back to the other side.
A few days later these last few were gone - probably dinner for the four-legged, wind-walkers or two-legged poachers. So it is that maybe these wondrous ancestors of ours might fare better in the ocean than falling into a trap of not enough water to survive.
LAUREN SINNOTT'S MODELS enjoy their depiction in front of Lauren's remarkable Ukiah mural:
LITTLE RIVER MUSEUM HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
Join the staff and volunteers of the Little River Museum next week Saturday, December 11 from 11AM to 4PM for a Holiday Open House and art show featuring small affordable stained glass gifts (sale proceeds to directly benefit the museum). Little River Museum is located at 8185 Hwy 1.
There will be hammered dulcimer holiday music and light refreshments and of course you can tour the museum. Parking across the highway on Petersen Headlands Lane. Admission is always free, however we do require masking.
Wendy Meyer <email@example.com>
OIL SPILL / PINOLI INTERVIEW
Tomorrow at 9am on KZYX&Z join Karen Ottoboni and Robert Pinoli, President & CEO, of Mendocino Railway. The topics will be the history, the recent purchase of the old GP mill site and future plans of the Railway.
Tune in & call in Wednesday at 9am
Stream at KZYX.org (listen later at KZYX Jukebox or your Podcast)
NAX SAVES TWO AT COUNTY JAIL
Jail staff were able to keep individuals from overdosing during two separate incidents last week.
The first, on December 2, 2021 at about 1:27 PM, jail staff received an arrestee from Ukiah Police Department. As the male arrestee, a 26 year-old from Ukiah, was being brought into the facility, he was mumbling and began to collapse. Corrections Deputies and the intake nurse from NaphCare, our contract medical provider, immediately noticed that the arrestee was exhibiting signs of being under the influence of a narcotic. The nurse retrieved Naloxone, which is kept in the intake room, and administered a single dose to the individual. The arresting officer notified emergency medical services as medical and correctional staff tended to the arrestee. The arrestee was still unresponsive and became pale.
While awaiting the arrival of emergency medical services, correctional staff administered a second dose of Naloxone. After the second dose, the arrestee became responsive and began talking to staff. Staff noticed that the arrestee was still fading in and out of consciousness and a third dose of Naloxone was administered. After a short time, the arrestee became more talkative and his color returned.
Emergency medical personnel arrived and the arrestee was transported to an area hospital where he was treated.
The second incident happened on December 5, 2021 at about 4:20 PM. NaphCare medical staff were conducting medication pass in a holding cell area of the facility. A corrections deputy saw an individual, a 36 year-old male arrestee from Covelo, sitting against a wall with his head down. The corrections deputy called out to him trying to elicit a response. When no response was received, correctional staff entered the cell and found that he was unresponsive. Staff lowered him to the floor where the nurse quickly assessed the individual and administered a dose of Naloxone. The arrestee still was not responsive so the nurse administered a second dose. The nurse began taking the person’s vital signs and noticed that the individual was beginning to respond. Correctional staff summoned emergency medical services and requested an ambulance.
When the ambulance arrived, the individual was transported to an area hospital for further treatment.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to acknowledge the life-saving efforts made by our correctional staff and by the NaphCare nursing staff. We would also like to thank our community partners Ukiah Police Department, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, Medstar Ambulance and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley for their assistance.
BOBBY BEACON — publican, raconteur, gentleman, owner and host of the world famous Beacon Light bar uniquely placed on a rural ridge top high above the Pacific just south of Elk — called to say that the vintage Beacon Light “ad” we ran last week from 1971 had been misinterpreted by a few people who called for dinner reservations this weekend. But he hasn't served meals at his establishment for years, going on to point out that this very week the Beacon Light celebrates its 50th anniversary in business.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS, Paul Modic writes:
This is interesting, a couple documents I found in one of my boxes of memorabilia. Note my land taxes in 1981 were $1.48. (Or I could pay 74 cents every six months)
On the land sales document I made of properties sold in the '80's in Whale Gulch each piece had an estimated amount of pounds of weed that could be grown called “elbows,” standing for “lbs.” The piece you (sorta) owned was the second on the list and sold for $50,000 in 1980. (My estimate was off—that piece produced WAY more than 15 pounds per annum.)
I suppose there's a story here but I haven't written it yet.
PAYSANNE! DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE
ABOUT 8:30 last night (Sunday) a drunken 21-year-old, hurtling through Boonville at a wildly unsafe speed, managed to careen off 128 and through a telephone pole near the junction of 128 and Mountainview Road, severing the pole then the fence behind it and getting himself arrested for DUI. On Tuesday, Jorge Mejia, 21, of Boonville appeared in the Sheriff’s log having been booked for DUI.
AVA HEADQUARTERS sits on the highway in north central Boonville, giving us box seat viewing to Mendocino County's version of the Daytona 500, which seemed more competitive than usual last night, with the locomotion-crazed drunks racing up and down until one of them finally knocked down a telephone pole, winning himself an expensive DUI and a trip over the hill in handcuffs.
SPORTS FANS may be interested to know that Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, annual slayer of the Forty Niners for the last decade, once ran a summer football camp south of Boonville at the old Mathias Ranch. Carroll coached at the high school level in Marin County at the time.
I'VE WONDERED the same thing as this anon poster: “How come these boys from Covelo all look like they were born in 1880?” A lot of Covelo's defendant community do indeed come with that old time Mathew Brady look, half wild, half guileless. But then some of them look like they want to jump off the booking log page and cut a throat, and any throat will do.
COVELO, an on-line comment: "There is supposedly a Cloud of Confusion curse that was placed on the valley by an unknown person; whether chief or medicine man, I for one do not know. This will have to be lifted before things will be harmonious here. This curse came as a result of the terrible things done to the native people here, and it does seem like we have more than our fair share of drama, loss and misfortune. That said, I would never call Round Valley “just like Skinwalker Ranch”, which is a very nasty portal into other dimensions that allows any number of unfriendly, indeed, I would say decidedly malevolent beings from other planes of existence to walk on our earth. I have lived in Round Valley for thirty years, and have been both uplifted and saddened by the things that happen here. You would not get me within fifty miles of Skinwalker Ranch. Make that 100 miles."
THE PARENTS of the latest school shooter, Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley, have been destroyed without the piling on from Michigan authorities. Their son Ethan, 15, will be locked up forever. There are millions of gun families out there, few of whom, presumably, would be so out of touch with the ultra-vi potential of their son to buy him a gun for Christmas, but from all the preliminary reports, Ethan was a good student, a dutiful, conventional kid.
ADOLESCENCE is a crazy time in a kid's life, especially in a country seemingly organized to promote mental illness. Who can know what turned him mass killer. And the school people are getting scapegoated in this one, too, as if any of us live our lives expecting the catastrophic. Now the Crumbleys are being accused of trying to flee. Wouldn't you try to hide out if you had the world's media barking in your front yard? The parents are just working people suddenly plunged into tragedy, guilty of a fundamental mis-read of their kid, but not the pure evil they're being portrayed as.
MENDOCINO COUNTY PROUD BOY SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS in federal prison for illegal "ghost guns"
by Emily Wilder
A Mendocino County man affiliated with the right-wing extremist group Proud Boys has been sentenced to over seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of firearms, including "ghost guns," and ammunition.
Jonathan M. Cuney, who has a residence in Willits, California, received an 87-month prison sentence — to be followed by three years of supervised release — for crimes that occurred between August 2018 and November 2019, the Department of Justice announced in a Dec. 2 news release.
In June, the 38-year-old pleaded guilty to purchasing weapon parts online and assembling them into handguns, rifles and silencers without serial numbers. These "ghost guns" were received and put together at sites in New York, Rhode Island and Willits.
Because they lack formal identification numbers, ghost guns are more difficult for law enforcement to track.
Cuney, who has homes in New York and Willits, according to the DOJ statement and public records, previously admitted to joining the Proud Boys, a far-right, all-male organization linked to many instances of political violence, in 2018. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq, the statement added.
Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found 22 serialized and nonserialized firearms, assembly kits, silencers, more than 3,250 rounds of rifle and pistol ammunition and an assortment of other parts and accessories — five of which could be classified as machine guns under federal law — inside storage units in East Greenbush, New York and Redway, California in Humboldt County.
As part of his plea agreement, Cuney agreed to surrender a variety of these munitions alongside other items found in the Redway storage unit, including a pair of handcuffs, more than 50 disposable single cuffs, and patches and badges with FBI branding and other federal law enforcement acronyms and insignia.
Cuney has several prior gun-related federal convictions.
In 2015, he pleaded guilty to trafficking guns with obliterated serial numbers while he was a licensed firearms dealer. He was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison and was released in April 2018.
He also pleaded guilty to illegally possessing guns and gear in Missouri and Arizona between September and November 2019.
Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. said during sentencing that "ghost guns are killing people on the streets every day in this country," according to the DOJ news release.
Scullin told Cuney that "any credit you might get for being a veteran is outweighed by your conduct as a criminal. You know how to play the system. You tell a good story — an A for creating writing, but an F for conduct."
(The Press Democrat)
TAKE A CHANCE AND WIN A SIGNED COPY OF GINNY'S NEW BOOK
Goodreads Giveaway. Starting Dec. 9 and ending on Dec. 21. Win 1 of 5 signed copies of Like Dust, I Rise (Little House on the Prairie meets the Grapes of Wrath in this Coming of Age novel of hope and heroism, set in Texas during one of America's worst natural disasters ”the Dust Bowl.)
Or Free eBook giveaway starting Dec. 27th. Your eBook will be FREE from 12.27.21 - 12.30.21 (4 days).
Ginny Rorby, www.ginnyrorby.org
Maybe this one is our ticket to fame/fortune?
I am sitting here at David’s Deli, Fort Bragg, having a late breakfast, as I crossed the Noyo bridge on my scooter I was filled with warm remembrance of when I would take my twin toddler daughters Inyo and Kiara to lunch in the harbor below. They would get so enthralled watching the activity in the harbor below. They would need encouragement to eat! I loved that about them and I always figured I was raising them right! Their interest in boats, birds, seals was wonderful to behold.
Fast forward 13 years and one life-threatening stroke later and now across from me are 2 children, with their grandparents, the kids are about 6 or 7 sister is older. They are all having a great time, but I notice EVERY interaction is through a screen, a phone is being passed around, both kids are stealing glances at me, probably mostly out of curiosity (what’s wrong with that guy?), as I have a walking stick and an obviously lame left hand, but I sense something else as I only meet their glances fleetingly, as I don’t want to be thought strange or rude. Something in their eyes is pleading, just wanting to look into another human being, to see and be seen. (Maybe I’m making too much of it, but I doubt it.)
As we stepped (or in my case shuffled) into the restaurant we all passed an unhoused man eating from a container while sitting in the doorway of an adjacent business. I think how we are all getting used to seeing masses of the unhoused even up here in rural Fort Bragg, as we are most certainly are not immune to the prevailing winds of predatory late stage capitalism. Even as the unhoused increasingly occupy public spaces, our private ones are increasingly valuable to those who find themselves on the monetized side of capitalist inequality.
Just recently I heard of an old man who owns a modest home on the North side of the harbor. Someone knocked on his door one morning and offered him $2 million dollars for his house (it is appraised at $750K). He turned it down as he feels too old to move.
Just a few days ago I was shopping at Harvest Market when a well-coifed woman just approached me and asked if I was a local and could I recommend a good realtor?
I am still haunted by the eyes of those two children. As I move back out into my day, to scoot back into town and complete my modest list of chores, passing more unhoused, on sidewalks and small fields adjacent to the sidewalks, they congregate in numbers that would have been alarming a short time ago. As the ban on evictions has been allowed to expire. What can we hope next?
For me it’s off to the Company Store completely sanitized — for tourists idealized version of Fort Bragg’s past as a lumber and fishing town (spoiler alert- it is no longer either of these things). The glorification of a “company store” is, of course, appalling to anyone with even a basic knowledge history. Most of these places profited extravagantly off the backs of exploited workers, who were often paid in scrip for their labor. Yes, it was not quite slavery, but a horribly exploitative system nonetheless.
And now this building is filled with pictures of forests and vibrant fishing harbors that no longer exist. When I first arrived here 30 years ago there were still some trees for loggers and environmentalists to argue over. Georgia Pacific and Louisiana Pacific and their regulatory enablers in the California Department of Forestry ended that conversation.
And now Fort Bragg seems to be mostly thought of as an investment opportunity.
What does the future hold for all of us, as the excesses of neoliberal late stage capitalism continues to tighten its grip, and our social interactions are increasingly digitized? I have no answers but, the piercing searching eyes of those two young people, looking for something.
TASKLESS DROUGHT TASK FORCE meets on Thursday.
Date: 12/09/2021 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/88971765675?pwd=Ty9Nczk4MlVGSjlxaE82Slc2YndhQT09
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 889 7176 5675
PLANNERS PLAN TO PLAN PLANNING
The Agenda for December 16, 2021 is posted on the department website at: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff with any questions.
James F.Feenan, My Direct Line: (707) 234-6664, Main Line: (707) 234-6650
7TH ANNUAL CANDLELIT SHOPPING NIGHT IN MENDOCINO
The 7th Annual Candlelit Shopping Night is this Saturday, December 11th, from 4:00-7:00.
We hope to see you in Downtown Mendocino for a magical night of shopping small!
Please visit https://mendocinovillage.org/happenings for more details & Happy Holidays from Mendo Village!
NAVARRO POINT STEWARDING THIS COMING SUNNY THURSDAY
Hello potential Navarro Point Preserve volunteers. The Mendocino Land Trust and I invite you to join us as we remove the ever-dwindling population of bull thistles at Navarro Point this Thursday, 12/9, from 10am til noon.
The Preserve is located about 2 miles south of Albion on the ocean side of Hwy 1 The weather is predicted to be sunny Thursday, and the ocean views are jaw-dropping. We hope to see you there! Tom
Navarro Point Preserve is owned and managed by Mendocino Land Trust, which relies on volunteer stewardship workdays to maintain our network of public access trails. Volunteers spend two hours a month pulling invasive plant species, picking up garbage, maintaining the trails and taking in the beautiful scenery. Stewardship workdays are scheduled for the 2nd Thursday of each month, 10am to 12 noon, and are open to all ages and experience levels.
Tom Wodetzki <firstname.lastname@example.org>
GIFT WRAP AT FORT BRAGG TOWN HALL
Bring your unwrapped presents to the Holiday Craft Fair at Town Hall in Fort Bragg this weekend. Look for Jahna's booth "Wrap it up". She's will turn your presents into works of art.
Doors open at 10am both days, and Saturday night we're open until 8pm.
Come explore all the goodies at the craft fair, from unique jewelry to beeswax wraps and hand-crafted pottery.
Tess AlbinSmith <email@example.com>
THANKSGIVING & A ROAD TRIP
by Anne Fashauer
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We did. Our granddaughter and her parents joined us for a few days and we cooked and visited and had a great time. The big excitement for her was mushroom hunting - she really enjoyed that and also likes eating them. I like to hunt for them but not eat them, so that works out well for her!
We are heading out for our first real trip in the new-to-us RV, whom we’ve nicknamed “Cookie.” We’re heading up to Cottonwood to visit my in-laws for a few days. We’ve loaded her up with clothes and food and wine. We’ll park at the in-laws and be able to visit as much as we like. We considered bringing our bikes along but there’s no trails close by and we don’t have a tow vehicle at this point, so we decided it wasn’t worth it.
We have enjoyed the sunshine and false spring as much as anyone, though the lack of rain is very concerning. We are due for some kind of rain this week, of course, because we will be driving. But that is OK and I hope we continue to have rain as the year end and we look forward to 2022.
I’ll try to post from Cottonwood. Take care, stay healthy and safe.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 6, 2021
ANDREW CEDILLO, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
FREDDIE DOOLITTLE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
COURTNEY FETT, Ukiah. Under influence, failure to appear.
DAKOTA GIMPLE, Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, vandalism, criminal threats, probation revocation.
JORGE MEJIA, Boonville. DUI.
BRIAN MUNIZ-ALFARO, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
JESSICA NORTON, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MARIO PANIAGUA, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TASHEENA SHANNON, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
BRADLEY SHEEHY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, metal knuckles, vandalism, resisting, probation revocation.
GERALD SIMPSON, Willits. Paraphernalia, county parole violation.
HERE'S ONE REASON…
Last year, an estimated 10% of all claims for unemployment benefits at the California Employment Development Department were fraudulent, to the tune of approximately $10 billion to $20 billion. I can give you one possible reason for such a drain on our state’s resources.
I received a letter from EDD saying someone had opened an account in my name and telling me to “call immediately” if I didn’t create the file. There is no way to report fraud online, and over several days I called at least 20 times and always got a busy signal. I have been persistent but will likely give up. I can only imagine how many others have given up more quickly.
Clearly EDD needs to create a more seamless, rapid and responsible way to allow citizens to report likely fraud. Surely the investment in staff and website development would more than pay for itself.
CRITICAL EXPOSÉS EVERYWHERE AS CORPORATE STATE WORSENS
by Ralph Nader
in his 1938 message to Congress Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned that when private power becomes stronger than the democratic state itself, we have Fascism. There are many ways to witness the intensifying domination toward a corporate state. One way is to compare exposé books in the 1960s and the present.
Within a span of five years, there were three books in the sixties that put forces in motion leading to significant reordering of our society’s priorities. They were Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962), my Unsafe at Any Speed (1965), and The Other America by Michael Harrington (1962).
The message of these bestselling books was expanded by authors going on national TV and radio shows. They spoke around the country, before large audiences at colleges/universities and even high schools. An aroused citizenry prompted congressional hearings, legislation, and the establishment of federal agencies to deal with the problems of toxic chemicals, unsafe motor vehicles, and deep poverty in the U.S.
By stark contrast, now the volume of muckraking indictments of corporate crime, fraud, and tyranny is at least ten-fold that of the nineteen sixties. Books and blogs, documentaries and podcasts are pouring out daily with far less impact and in many cases no effect, for change.
Take a look at 65 recent searing books about corporate violence and malfeasance, crushing influence over our electoral and political systems, and expanding immunities from law enforcement and public accountability.
- Corporate Crime and Punishment: The Crisis of Underenforcement by John Coffee
- Mass Tort Deals: Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation by Elizabeth Burch
- Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance … by Rena Steinzor
- Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
- Closing Death’s Door: Legal Innovations to End the Epidemic of Healthcare Harm by Michael J. Saks and Stephan Landsman
- Who Poisoned Your Bacon Sandwich?… by Guillaume Coudray
- The Monsanto Papers: Deadly Secrets, Corporate Corruption… by Carey Gillam
- The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business by David Courtwright
- Frankie: How One Woman Prevented a Pharmaceutical Disaster by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenko
- Killer Airbags by Jerry Cox
- Making the World Safe for Coke by Susan Greenhalgh
- Big Dirty Money by Jennifer Taub
- Business and Human Rights by Ellen Hertz
- Industrial-Strength Denial by Barbara Freese
- Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act by Nicholson Baker
- Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations by Brandon L. Garrett
- Capital Offenses: Business Crime and Punishment in America’s Corporate Age by Samuel W. Buell
- Profiteering, Corruption and Fraud in U.S. Health Care by John Geyman
- Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power by David Dayen
- Global Banks on Trial by Pierre-Hugues Verdier
- Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception by David Michaels
- Murder, Inc.: How Unregulated Industry Kills or Injures Thousands of Americans Every Year…And What You Can Do About It by Gerald Goldhaber
- Paradise Lost at Sea: Rethinking Cruise Vacations by Ross A. Klein
- Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy by Matt Stoller
- Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in An Age of Fraud by Tom Mueller
- Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom by Katherine Eban
- GMOs Decoded: A Skeptic’s View of Genetically Modified Foods by Sheldon Krimsky and Marion Nestle
- GM: Paint it Red: Inside General Motors’ Culture of Failure by Nicholas Kachman
- The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives by Jesse Eisinger
- Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy by Richard Cordray
- First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat by Christopher Shaw
- Un-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning of Our Longest War by Erik Edstrom
- Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War by Samuel Moyn
- Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America by Eyal Press
- Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? by Alexander Keyssar
- Public Citizens by Paul Sabin
- The United States of War by David Vine
- The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions by Chuck Collins
- Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America by Alec MacGillis
- The Case Against George W. Bush by Steven C. Markoff
- Tax the Rich: How Lies, Loopholes, and Lobbyists Make the Rich Even Richer by Erica Payne and Morris Pearl
- Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet by Dr. Michael Jacobson
- Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy by Daniel G. Newman
- Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits by James D. Zirin
- Stealing Our Democracy by Don Siegelman
- Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse
- All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator by Monique El-Faizy and Barry Levine
- Money, Power, and the People: The American Struggle to Make Banking Democratic by Christopher Shaw
- Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink by Seth M. Siegel
- Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy by Mike German
- United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America… by Mickey Huff and Nolan Higdon
- The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age by Tim Wu
- The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail
- Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator by Dr. Gregory Jaczko
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
- America, Democracy & You: Where Have All the Citizens Gone? by Ronald R. Fraser
- Unsettled (on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family) by Ryan Hampton
- Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
- China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh
- Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World by Nomi Prins
- Attention All Passengers: The Airlines’ Dangerous Descent and What You Can Do To Reclaim Our Skies by William McGee
- Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science by Carey Gillam
- The CEO Pay Machine: How it Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford
- World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
- The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, …. and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite by Duff McDonald
Despite the many books on corporate crooks, there have been no corporate crime law reforms, no additional prosecutions of these CEOs, not even comprehensive congressional or state legislative hearings. The corporate crooks at the top of giant companies still get away with profiting from their corporate crime wave. None of the top Wells Fargo executives or Opioid’s promoters or the sellers of dangerous products and chemicals are facing prosecution. You have to steal a loaf of bread or get caught with a miniscule amount of heroin or cocaine to be incarcerated.
The massive fatality toll annually (about 400,000) from preventable problems in hospitals and clinics gets exposed yet nobody stirs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state departments of health, or the state legislatures. That’s almost 8000 Americans losing their lives a week!
Profiteering, corruption, and fraud in the health industry are documented by many specialists, including Dr. John Geyman’s many books, but the exposés do not result in any calls for law and order by the politicians or even hearings in Congress.
Access to justice by victims faces increasingly closed courtroom doors and limits on tort laws for wrongful injury.
Meanwhile, the institutions we are expected to rely on to make a difference, with too few exceptions, are asleep at the wheel. These include the legal, medical, and accounting professions, the law enforcement agencies (there is no corporate crime index in the U.S. Justice Department), the toady legislatures, the corporate-owned media, the timid, often compromised labor unions, college campuses, and the silent corporatized organized religious institutions.
Our democracy is in serious decay. The information is readily available about what to do about it, while citizens argue among themselves, having been divided and ruled by corporate propaganda and politicians indentured to corporate supremacists.
Most active people seem unable to coalesce over their common interests at the community level. Remember, less than one percent of citizens stepping forward can turn the tide! (See breakingthroughpower.org).
For some reflections on our Auto Safety work over the past 55 years later visit https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/ralph-nader-auto-safety/.
WHITE PUNKS ON DOPE
Teenage had a race for the night time
Spent my cash on every high I could find
Wasted time in every school in L.A.
Getting loose, I didn't care what the kids say
We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad moved to Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope
Other dudes are living in the ghetto
But born in Pacific Heights don't seem much betto
We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad live in Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
I can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope
I go crazy 'cause my folks are so fucking rich
Have to score when I get that rich white punk itch
Sounds real classy, living in a chateau
So lonely, all the other kids will never know
We're white punks on dope
Mom & Dad live in Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can't clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope
— The Tubes
A BRIEF HISTORY OF EPIC MASS MADNESS
by James Kunstler
The thesis called mass formation psychosis put forward lately by the Belgian psychologist Mattias Desmet goes a long way to explaining the disgraceful mindfuckery that Western Civ has fallen for in our time, promulgated by a thinking class that descended into abject madness. It’s well worth reviewing.
The descent was provoked by the existential anxiety over the collapse of techno-industrial economies and the end of progress as-we’ve-known-it. (Have you noticed: it was the self-styled “progressives” who went the craziest?) As Dr. Desmet lays it out, the disconnectedness of contemporary life, its lack of meaning or purpose for many, leads to unendurable anxiety. All that inchoate fear seeks desperately to attach itself to some real object, some thing or some force that can be comprehended, fought, and triumphantly overcome. Finding such a target produces an intoxicating sense of communal connection, purpose, and meaning, driving actions that are often crazy and also absolutely impervious to rational debate.
The angst in America was well established by 2016. A beaten-down middle-class suspected that left-of-center politicians did not have their interests at heart after years of off-shoring their jobs, and they managed to elect their avatar, Donald Trump, over the obviously unsympathetic globalist, Hillary Clinton — who snootily tagged her opposition “the deplorables.” Even so, the polls had her ahead by a mile. Then, by some weird twist of fate, she lost a few crucial counties in midwestern states she hadn’t bothered to visit, and was reportedly too plastered after midnight on election night to come down and console the troops at campaign headquarters. The shocking election outcome instantly deranged the nation’s entire managerial class and its thinking-out-loud interlocutors in the news media and on campus.
The Golden Golem of Greatness, as I liked to call Mr. Trump, was the perfect target for their animus. Threatening to “drain the swamp,” he would shatter their hard-won power privileges and deprive them of their well-worn grifts — such as the various revolving doors between big money and its regulators. Plus, his rough personality offended their own pretense of decorum (in pursuit of that power and grift). They decided that he had to go, and fast, and the whole managerial class and their allies closed ranks to get it done, not least the vicious agents of the Intel “Community,” which force-fed all the federal legal machinery — the official instruments of punishment.
If they could only knock Mr. Trump off the game-board, America’s troubles would be over. We could get back on track to becoming a utopia of inclusion, diversity, equity, and self-driving electric cars. For four years the FBI, the DOJ, and other distributed players (such as the CIA mole Eric Ciaramella and his NSA co-seditionist Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and such ignoble rogues in Congress as Rep. Adam Schiff and Senator Mark Warner) beat President Trump like a piñata, casually breaking the very law that they supposedly represented in the process. This punishment was accompanied by a growing repertoire of cult-like rituals — especially around race-and-gender hustles — with rich opportunities for the new behavior called virtue signaling, which was essentially a game of collecting brownie points for status-seeking purposes in the new moral hierarchy of the “Woke.” The social networks, Facebook and Twitter, amplified every insane strand in the Woke messaging. As Dr. Desmet says, “The more absurd the rituals, the more they buy into it.”
This demonic opposition to Mr. Trump, and all the games issuing from it, produced the characteristic intoxication of mass formation psychosis. That is, the Left became a big cozy community of people initiated into a catechism of sacred truths. The important part is that they felt united in their struggle. Folks in the grip of this belonged to something at last, a solidarity of certitude, a social organism one could lose one’s anxious, fretful self in. No more loneliness and ennui. They were imbued with a sense of purpose: the ritual killing of the monster called Trump — millions of heroic Captain Willards stealing up-river to behead the renegade Colonel Kurtz. The news media’s role was to reinforce all that, with as much bad faith and dishonesty as they could get away with, in the service of fashioning a consensus that was eventually named “the narrative” — a self-reinforcing catalog of approved thought. The anti-Trump news posse garnered brownie points galore, including Pulitzer Prizes for their completely mendacious reporting.
The trouble was, for all their epic exertions, they weren’t exactly winning. The whole RussiaGate extravaganza fizzled — and may even eventuate in some criminal convictions if independent counsel John Durham turns out to be for-real. The Mueller Report came up plumb empty, to thundering disappointment, embodied in Rachel Maddow’s frantically bobulating Adam’s apple. The UkraineGate impeachment flopped. It was nice to have a sense of purpose and feel like a member of an exclusive club, but the Wokesters were unable to “nail that ol’ coonskin to wall” (as Lyndon B. Johnson once put it about winning the Vietnam War, which we lost). By January of 2020, it looked like Mr. Trump might even win re-election — the horror indeed! — considering the Democratic Party primary candidates were the most forlorn pack of has-beens, nobodies, kooks, and damaged goods ever assembled for such a contest.
Remember: the Progressive-Woke-Marxist-Jacobins liked nothing better than inflicting punishment. In fact, when you swept away all their ideological bullshit and the associated hustles, the movement was strictly about coercion, about pushing other people around, making them do as the Woke commissars willed. And there was a clearly sado-masochistic edge to all that. They relished cancelling people, wrecking careers, destroying reputations, livelihoods, marriages, families. Their political leaders had no qualms about exterminating hundreds of thousands of small businesses in Covid-19 lockdowns orchestrated by Woke heroes like Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Governors Gavin Newsom of California and Jay Inslee of Washington State. And, of course, their darlings of the streets, BLM and Antifa, bashed-in shopfronts, looted all the merch, and burned down the buildings with mad glee.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY:
I want you to stop being subhuman and become ‘yourself’. ‘Yourself,’ I say. Not the newspaper you read, not your vicious neighbor’s opinion, but ‘yourself.’ I know, and you don’t, what you really are deep down. Deep down, you are what a deer, your God, your poet, or your philosopher is. But you think you’re a member of the VFW, your bowling club, or the Ku Klux Klan, and because you think so, you behave as you do. This too was told you long ago, by Heinrich Mann in Germany, by Upton Sinclair and John Dos Passos in the United States. But you recognized neither Mann nor Sinclair. You recognize only the heavyweight champion and Al Capone. If given your choice between a library and a fight, you’ll undoubtedly go to the fight.— Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man!
You are excluded from this. You don’t recognize his false distinction, going to both fights and libraries. But if one had to choose, the fight would be better because fighting is the Foundation. As Mao said, the rifle must never slip from the hand of the Party. This is true for all parties, nations, peoples, and individuals.
I'M DOWN TO STEMS AND SEEDS
Women, weed and glorious misdeeds
Each week I hesitate to submit
Then at the last minute I just can't quit
The self-referential rants may fill a niche
As Flynn has disappeared without a quip
— Paul Modic
A FORMER TOP D.C. NATIONAL GUARD OFFICIAL has accused two U.S. Army bosses of lying about what he alleges was an optics-driven decision to delay calling in the National Guard to deal with the Capitol insurrection rioters, and then trying to shift the blame onto the Guard itself. In a 36-page memo leaked to Politico, Col. Earl Matthews, called Gen. Charles Flynn, deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff, “absolute and unmitigated liars,” who were making a “Stalinist” effort to rewrite the history of the military’s response to the events of January 6. Matthews says they failed to act decisively on the deployment of the National Guard and have subsequently lied about that to Congress.
Piatt, for example, told the House Oversight Committee in writing: “At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol.” Matthews says in his memo that this was “false and misleading.”
Flynn, the brother of former Gen. Michael Flynn, told the same committee that he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of sending Guardsmen to the Capitol,” but Matthews says in his memo that this is “outright perjury.” Matthews, who was serving as the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, says that he and Walker were on a conference call at 2:30 p.m. that day, during which they “heard Flynn identify himself and unmistakably heard him say that optics of a National Guard presence on Capitol Hill was an issue for him. That it would not look good. Either Piatt or Flynn mentioned ‘peaceful protestors.’”
Piatt and Flynn have seemed to try to shift the blame for the slow deployment of the National Guard onto the reservists themselves, suggesting the Guard were not ready to jump into action, but the memo says they were “were delayed only because of inaction and inertia at the Pentagon.” Matthews describes the “alternate history” of January 6 produced by the Army top brass as “a revisionist tract worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”
CALL ANY TIME
Warmest spiritual greetings, Please enjoy this exceptional collection of India's bansuri flute music. At this time, I have completed sending out information of a divinely anarchistic nature. Also, I have wrapped up my financial and general support of The Earth First! Media Center in Garberville, California. Just happily relaxing on the big green couch, digesting a bowl of beans and a salad. Contact me whenever you like. I'm available worldwide. Thanks for all of the good that you do.
Sincerely, Craig Louis Stehr, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHECKS AND BALANCES: I think this is my biggest problem with what's happening in the United States these days. Politics used to be something like the Olympics. Something we visited in a big way every 4 years and in a small way every 2 years in between. Picking teams and arguing positions and beliefs, and everyone knew that it was all show, and that both sides were pretty much the same, but we picked our causes along the same lines as our personal beliefs and family traditions and we played hard, then shook hands and hope the qualified partisans we elected were bright enough, good enough, and loved our country enough to get the job of governance done without too much insanity along the way.
Now Politics is a raging endless nightmare of existential horror populated by fathomless hoards of angels and demons, and posterity, the very future of all life on the planet dancing on a razor's edge, demanding we fight to the death to preserve all we cherish... The screaming and howling and gnashing of teeth is endless, and inescapable. I talk to my Sister, and it's an instant and endless data dump of her latest Hyperconservative Christian Fundamentalist news feed. I didn't ask for that, and listening to it come from her mouth is depressing beyond my ability to even describe. When she was a Senior at UCLA in the late 70s, studying to become a teacher, we both attended protests for women's rights, and fought hard for a future that supported real human equality. Now she's about to throw a party at the overturning of Roe V Wade, without the slightest irony that the people most hurt will be poor people of color.
Communism is a fundamentally failed political system. Not because it's core philosophy isn't beautiful, the dream of real equality for all people is inherently lovely. But in practice, you can't centralize power that way, without people (who should never have access to such power) begin doing something horrible with it. Even Democracy has its flaws (read about the Tyranny of the Majority). You can see those flaws every time the larger voting population in the south votes to suck Northern California just a little dryer. So we add Checks and Balances, constrain people such that they can do their jobs without becoming consumed in gross power taking, and empire building. Until now. We have successfully dismantled our checks and balances, because that was exactly what the rich and powerful had in mind all along.
We have played Monopoly, there isn't a Mother's Child older than 6 who hasn't played that game, and come to the inescapable conclusion, the end of the road has 1 winner, and everyone else loses bigly. That's the road we're on now.
Can't we look again for our humanity. Our civility. Our capacity to accept our differences without planting flags in one another's back and claiming that territory for our respective Gawds.
— Marie Tobias
AN AMERICAN MARINE tries to communicate with two Japanese child soldiers captured on Okinawa, June 1945.
15-year-old Ethan Crumbley is drawing images of a gun, a person who had been shot, a laughing emoji, and the words, ‘Blood everywhere,’ and, ‘The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.’
His teacher sees the drawings, reports them, and school guidance counselors call him to the office to assess whether he has the ‘potential to harm others or himself.’
At one point, Crumbley claims the images are for a video game he is designing.
His parents finally arrive. With the parents present, the counselors ask ‘specific probing questions’ to determine if Crumbley is a ‘potential harm to others.’ His answers led school staff to conclude ‘that he did not intend to hurt anyone.’
The school's principal was never contacted. Guidance counselors reportedly ‘made judgments based on their training and clinical experience.’
Based on their assessment of him not being an immediate threat to himself or others, counseling recommended Crumbley be provided counseling. They told his parents that if some form of counseling was not sought within 48 hours, Child Protective Services would be contacted.
When the parents were asked to take Crumbley home that day, ‘they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work.’
It would be later that day when Crumbley would use a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer Pistol bought by his parents to kill three and injure eight students at Oxford High School.
The failures to intervene are chilling. Schools are charged with protecting all. The events described above were just the day of the shooting, not the many occasions Crumbley had appeared on the school staff's radar as a potential threat.
Fostering understanding and forgiveness and restorative justice is an important task, but not at the expense of the safety of all.
California educators: Senate Bill 419 mandated policies be enacted to mitigate suspensions for defiance. State-wide, schools have integrated restorative justice policies to keep at-risk youth connected to schools, often the only safe place in their lives.
I fear the story of Oxford High School might be a curdled outgrowth of these principles.
Guidance counselors are trained to guide, not assess the potential violence of a child.
This is not a zero-sum game. We can practice restorative justice, while also having zero tolerance for displays of violence. For the safety of all students, it is imperative we not overcorrect.