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ANOTHER WINTER STORM will cross the area today. Snow is likely at low elevations around 1200 ft this morning before transition to rain below 3500ft this afternoon. Gusty winds will pickup along the coast, mostly before noon. Rain will persist along the coast all day before giving way to lingering scattered showers and calmer conditions overnight into Thursday. (NWS)
WIND ADVISORY TODAY
What: South winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph expected.
Where: Southeastern Mendocino Interior, Southwestern Mendocino Interior, Northern Lake, Southern Lake and Northwestern Mendocino Interior Counties.
When: From 10 AM to 3 PM PST Wednesday.
Impacts: Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.
Precautionary/Preparedness Actions: Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.(National Weather Service)
RAINFALL TOTALS over the past four days: Yorkville 3.7", Boonville 2.7"
43 NEW COVID CASES (since last Friday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
SHERWOOD OAKS ON THE BRINK
by Chris Calder
Sherwood Oaks Health Center, the only convalescent hospital on the Mendocino Coast, could be shut down in a matter of weeks unless state health authorities send emergency nursing staff, Dr. William Miller told a meeting of the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District board of directors Monday night.
Dr. Miller, who is Chief of Medical Staff at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital, said state and local officials have held a series of urgent meetings in recent days trying to find a way to keep the struggling facility open.
“If this does not happen, there is a real possibility that the 36 residents will have to be relocated. This would be massively disruptive to the community,” Miller said.
Sherwood Oaks is in the final stages of being sold to Shlomo Rechnitz, California's largest nursing home owner, whose group of companies has come under scrutiny for lapsed licenses, and is the focus of at least one lawsuit over patient care during COVID.
Miller said long-standing problems at Sherwood Oaks have worsened during COVID, particularly an inability to keep adequate staffing, including top positions. He said the director of nursing position there has been unfilled for the past six months, with no prospect of a new hire. Sherwood Oaks longtime chief administrator is retiring this week, Miller said.
In addition to being short staffed, Miller said Sherwood Oaks, which has operated in Fort Bragg since the 1970s, also has about $1.5 million in deferred maintenance and about $2 million in unpaid fees to the state, all of which has pushed the facility to the brink of a forced closure.
Asked by healthcare district board member Norman de Vall if a forced closure could happen as soon as Jan. 1, Miller replied “If there is no relief in nursing, there is that potential… I find it hard to believe the state would allow that to happen.”
The California Department of Public Health has once before sent nursing staff to Sherwood Oaks, during the second surge of COVID in 2020 when seven Sherwood Oaks patients died of the disease. Much of Sherwood Oaks staff — like healthcare workers nationwide — have quit during COVID and, with the national shortage of healthcare workers worsening, there has been little success in hiring new nurses and CNA's (Certified Nursing Assistants). Miller said he does not see that situation changing anytime soon.
He said he has met with officials from the City of Fort Bragg and Mendocino County in recent days, as well as representatives from Adventist Health and the healthcare district, to try to come up with a short-term solution. He said county officials have agreed to take the lead in requesting help from the state. That help, he said, might give another couple of months to establish Sherwood Oaks' operation under new ownership and ease the staffing problems.
The facility, Miller said, is licensed for 76 beds. In recent years, it has operated 55 beds; since COVID, the patient census has dropped to 36, far below the number needed for the facility to break even, he said.
Staffing and licensing issues at California nursing homes are a growing focus among state regulators and lawmakers as COVID has overwhelmed many facilities and laid bare industry-wide problems.
Rechnitz's companies are in the midst of the controversy. A Calmatters report in October - “Shlomo Rechnitz nursing home suit over COVID deaths reflects ‘broken state licensing’” — describes a lawsuit against a Rechnitz facility in Redding. The suit represents, among others, the families of 14 patients who died of COVID at Windsor-Redding, which had been operating without a license for five years. Chronic staffing shortages there play a key role, according to the report:
The complaint further alleges that dozens of residents who fell ill were left isolated and neglected due to “extreme understaffing.” One nurse told state inspectors that she alone had to pass out medications to 27 COVID-positive patients, meaning the medications were often late, according to an Oct. 21, 2020, inspection report, also cited in the lawsuit. Another nurse told them that nurses on the COVID unit, or “Red Zone,” were ”stressed, overloaded and tapped out” and unable to take breaks, the report said.
The Calmatters report goes on to describe Rechnitz and his companies:
“Rechnitz, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, was in his mid-30s when he began buying nursing homes 15 years ago. He and his companies, including Brius Healthcare, have acquired at least 81 facilities around California, making him the state’s biggest for-profit nursing home owner.
“Rechnitz and his companies operate more than a quarter of those facilities despite the fact that the California Department of Public Health has not approved — or has outright rejected — their licensing applications, according to state records. In the case of five ‘Windsor’ facilities, including Windsor Redding, Rechnitz and his companies continue to run them after the state’s license denial. The previous owners’ companies, affiliated with the Windsor brand, are still listed in state records as the official license-holders.
“Mark Johnson, an attorney who represents Rechnitz and Brius, said in an emailed statement that he could not comment on pending litigation except to say that: ‘The facility vehemently disagrees with the allegations and it intends to defend the action vigorously’.”
Miller told the Coast healthcare district board that, while the immediate situation at Sherwood Oaks demands more staff, longer-term issues with the facility - everything from needing a new boiler, roof and heating system to a “subsidence” under part of the building, suggest that it is time to build a new nursing home for the Mendocino Coast's 30,000 or so residents. However, he said, that will take years.
LOVED SEEING THE SNOW on 253 this morning - Dec. 14, 2021 (Mary Darling, Boonville)
SHERWOOD OAKS FACES MOUNTING CHALLENGES
by William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
The national healthcare staffing shortage continues to be particularly hard felt at Sherwood Oaks, our local nursing home in Fort Bragg. Due to loss of staff over the past year, some of whom have resigned because of COVID, the facility has been forced to reduce the number of residents it cares for. Licensed for 79 beds, it now has just 36 residents. Will Maloney, the administrator of the nursing home has stated that they need to maintain closer to 55 residents to break even. Sherwood Oaks has had to rely heavily upon traveling nurses which cost almost three times what a permanent staff person would cost. Further, the companies that supply those travelers have stop sending nurses in part due to worsening shortages in nursing across the board. The resulting financial picture is making it increasingly difficult for Sherwood Oaks to afford the premium charged for such travelers.
To compound the situation, Maloney, who has served as the administrator for the past 6 ½ years, is retiring at the end of this year. Just like the shortage of nurses, there is a severe shortage of qualified nursing home administrators making it unlikely that Sherwood Oaks will be able to replace him anytime soon. Coupled with their ongoing vacancy in the director of nursing position, which has been open for six months now, this will leave the facility with a serious administrative leadership vacuum.
As I reported previously on November 8th, the owner of Sherwood Oaks does not own the building or land. Those are being leased by Sherwood Oaks. There is a pending sale of the building to an outside investor named Shlomo Rechnitz. Rechnitz’s parent company, Brius Healthcare Services, directly or indirectly controls 81 nursing homes in California. The building has about $1.5 million of deferred maintenance that will need to be addressed at some point. In the past year Sherwood Oaks has had several site surveys by the California Department of Public Health which oversees nursing homes. Despite the issues raised by these deferred maintenance problems, the facility has always been deemed safe to continue to provide services. None-the-less, many of these issues are serious and need to be addressed.
In the meantime, the combination of a looming, nursing shortfall which may hit in the next few weeks and the loss of administrative leadership does have many observers, including myself, concerned about the potential that Sherwood Oaks might be forced to close. This situation has been reported to the State by Sherwood Oaks, as is required by law. The State, in turn, is currently examining the situation and will make a determination if the nursing home can remain in operation.
If a closure does occur, this will have some very disruptive consequences for the Sherwood Oaks residents and their local families. Currently, there are only five open nursing home beds elsewhere in the county. When the potential to have to transfer residents came up during the recent COVID outbreak at the facility, it looked like at least some of the residents might end up as far away as Crescent City or Bakersfield with others landing closer to home such as in Cloverdale and Rohnert Park.
Recognizing how important this nursing home is to our community, there have been multiple conversations recently involving government leaders at both the County and City level as well as representatives from the Mendocino healthcare district and foundation. These leaders have met with Sherwood Oaks management to explore ways of avoiding a crisis. The strategies that need to be developed fall into three categories in my opinion. First is what to do immediately to avoid a potential closure of the facility. Next, an intermediate strategy is required to address the deferred maintenance of the facility and this will largely be the responsibility of the new owner, Rechnitz. However, local leadership can and should play a role in helping ensure that such repairs are made. And lastly, there needs to be a long-range plan that stems from what the best model for providing nursing home care will be for our community. Included in that is the question of whether a whole new facility should be built.
In the short run, it seems that the best approach would be to shore up the current staffing. The State might be enticed to send in relief nurses as they did during the recent COVID outbreak at Sherwood Oaks. However, the funds that paid for those nurses came from a federal program specifically tied to emergency response to active COVID outbreaks. The current situation would likely not qualify for those funds, but perhaps the State would apply other resources to help keep the nursing home from closing. This might be a good time to pick up the phone and call your State representatives to put pressure on finding the resources needed to keep Sherwood Oaks open.
You can access previous Miller Reports by visiting www.WMillerMD.com.
(The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or of Adventist Health.)
‘MASK-LESS SHOPPERS’ MOBBING MENDOCINO COUNTY STORES IN PROTEST OF HEALTH ORDERS — Two Saturday events organized by Mendocino Patriots
by Justine Frederiksen
A group calling itself Mendocino Patriots is organizing protests against local mask mandates, sending packs of shoppers into several Ukiah businesses who reportedly refuse to wear face coverings and disrupt other customers by blocking aisles and access to registers.
According to a post on the Mendocino Patriots website, the first “maskless shopping experience” was held on Nov. 27 and began with 17 members of the group meeting in a parking lot “to decide what Ukiah stores they wanted to shop mask-less at. We came together with the goal of making a point to the businesses and shoppers in Mendocino County that we are fed up with being told that we must cover our faces and constrict our breathing.”
According to the post, the group went to Michaels and another store on Airport Park Boulevard. At the first store, the group was reportedly “escorted” through the business by an employee and allowed to make purchases before leaving.
However, the group was reportedly denied service at Michaels and a call was made to the Ukiah Police Department around 12:15 p.m. Nov. 27 reporting that a group of 20 people was refusing to either wear masks or leave the store. An officer responded and reported that the people left.
According to the group’s post, when members told the officer they believed that businesses cannot legally require shoppers to wear masks, “the officers stated that the business had a right to refuse us service and that we were trespassing. We told them we were not finished shopping in town and that we would most likely see them again very soon.”
At 3:45 p.m. Nov. 27, a caller at Ukiah Natural Foods on South State Street reported that a large group of people in the business were all refusing to either wear masks or exit the store and were blocking aisles. An officer responded and reported that the people went outside.
According to the Mendocino Patriots’ post, the treatment of the group by the employees and other customers “felt very reminiscent of the 1950s when black people walked into a ‘whites only’ business looking to be served and (were) turned away. All because we did not conform to the societal norm of covering our airways with a piece of cloth.”
The end of the post notes that another event was scheduled for Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. According to the UPD press logs, a caller at Ukiah Natural Foods reported at 2:49 p.m. that day that “several subjects were blocking the aisles and refusing to wear masks.” The officer notes that he “counseled all parties” and that no crime had been committed.
According to the UPD, the group then visited Black Oak Coffee on North State Street and an officer responded to that business after a call was made at 4:06 p.m. reporting that “several people were blocking the register.” The officer reported that the people left after he showed up.
When asked Monday if Mendocino County mask mandates are indeed enforceable by law, UPD Chief Noble Waidelich said the group’s motive appears to be finding a venue in which to fight such mandates in court, and he therefore was very purposely and carefully choosing to only cite people for trespassing if needed.
Waidelich said someone can be charged with trespassing if they are disrupting the operation of a business or refusing to leave when asked, and that so far the group’s members had left when UPD officers responded.
When asked about the assertion reported by KZYX News that it took several phone calls and an hour for officers to respond to the store, Waidelich said an officer called the store shortly after the initial report for more details about the incident, and that officers were on-scene 20 minutes after the first call.
When asked if the protesters had indeed destroyed merchandise, reportedly opening chip bags and pulling food out of the bulk bins at Ukiah Natural Foods, Waidelich said he spoke with store manager Lori Rosenberg about the incident Monday, and his understanding is that the group had offered to pay for the merchandise, but the employees had refused to conduct business with them.
“It is not my practice to charge people with shoplifting if they are willing to pay for the items,” Waidelich said.
According to the group’s website, they are planning a protest at the Ukiah Unified School District’s meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, and Waidleich said he has spoken with UUSD Superintendent Deb Kubin about the district’s plan.
“If people show up without a mask, they will be asked to leave, and the meeting will be closed if needed,” he said, explaining that officers will also “be on stand-by” and ready to respond if needed.
Waidelich said that while the protests had been relatively peaceful so far, he did find the group and their actions concerning.
“If you have large crowds of people gathering who are emotionally-charged, it only takes one thing to change (the situation for the worse),” he said. “I really encourage them, that if they do want to support local businesses, then support these hard-working folks by abiding by their rules.”
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
BOONVILLE HOOPS, Arthur Folz reporting: “The games this weekend were for varsity boys only at the Annual McMillan Winter Invitational in Cloverdale High School. Our varsity boys lost all three games against the following teams: Cloverdale (Thursday), St. Helena (Friday), and Elsie Allen (Saturday). Our basketball teams will be traveling to play their second league game today (Tuesday) in Point Arena, and I will be traveling with them, so I will keep you informed tomorrow of the results.
FROM THE AV HEALTH CENTER: General Announcements and Updates…
COVID cases are on the rise again due to the season and holiday gatherings, we will continue to see this spike locally. Anderson Valley Health Center advises everyone 16 years and up to get their booster shot. Vaccines help prevent viral spread and keep people's symptoms mild if they do become infected. It is the best way to keep protected from delta and omicron variants along with masking, testing, and hand hygiene. Kids have also done very well with the vaccine, we have some pediatric vaccine slots available Wednesday and Thursday, call us to make an appointment. 895-3477
-The County will be here in Boonville at the fairgrounds on Mondays as usual from 2-5pm
-We will be at Senior Center in Boonville Wednesdays 9-10am
-Ukiah fairgrounds will NOT be testing 12/24, 12/25, 12/31, 1/1, (they continue to be closed Fridays per usual) The rest of their scheduled days they are open.
TRINITY BRAY, MOTHER WHO WENT MISSING WITH THREE-YEAR-OLD SON OVER ONE YEAR AGO, BOOKED INTO MENDOCINO CO JAIL FOR CHILD NEGLECT
Trinity Bray is the mother who went missing in northern Mendocino County along with her three-year-old son after a single-vehicle accident on November 30, 2020. Four days later, Bray and her son were found on the side of Highway 101. Over one year later, Bray was booked into the Mendocino County jail yesterday afternoon for a felony charge of abandonment/child neglect....
DA EYSTER said Tuesday that charges against the two men who shot and wounded Chris Brown in Albion two weeks ago were not filed pending further investigation. The matter has been sent back to the Sheriff's Office for more information. “We couldn’t determine which guy did what,” Eyster said. “It’s not clear which guy shot the gun.” The DA said he couldn't hold someone “until you know who did what and why and I can’t charge a lesser crime because they might plead to it and get off on the less serious charge.” Eyster said neither of the men had criminal records, and that a third man might have been involved.
HMMM. Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa show up at Chris Brown's house at 2am, shoot and wound him and are found hiding in the nearby woods a few hours later. They are booked into the County Jail on attempted murder charges with bail set at $750,000 but when they appear in court they are released without charges while the episode is investigated.
I DON'T GET IT. If two people show up at two in the morning, shoot and wound a man unknown to them when they wake him from his sleep, run off when their target returns fire but leave their vehicle in the victim's driveway, how is it possible that both Aguilar and Chavez Sousa aren't held as suspects to determine which of them fired at Mr. Brown? I thought under state law (and common sense) that whoever is with a shooter during an attempted murder that person is also assumed to be as guilty as the person who did the shooting. Something is very, very off in this one. I'm sure the perps will be available for further questioning.
FORMER SUPERVISOR McCOWEN'S call for County Counsel Christian to be fired might have more credibility if McCowen's own performance as a county official hadn't been at least as dubious as his under-performing successors. In fact, McCowen, as supervisor, attempted the most brazen cronyism I can recall any supervisor attempting in full public view, and that was his creation of a climate change committee with, at full administrative salary and perks, his close friend and tenant, Alicia ‘Little Tree’ Bales, in charge. This move was too much even for his ethically challenged colleagues who, predictably, went ahead to allocate public money for the redundant committee but without Ms. Bales at the big pay at its head. Denied the County sinecure, Ms. B was promptly hired as “program director” at KZYX, at less money than the county “job” but certainly light duty at a semi-public radio station where the same programmers have been doing the same programs since the station's inception. Automatons need direction?
AT LEAST SUPERVISOR GJERDE tried to hide the County Counsel's laughably excessive raise on the consent calendar, apparently confident his gift of public funds to this particular incompetent (McCowen's correct about that) would get the usual unanimous consent from the other four supervisors. The raise for County Counsel, as predicted, was not only not pulled from the consent calendar for discussion, the entire consent calendar was approved without comment by all five supervisors.
THE RAISE for Christian is worth between $70 and $80 thou annually, a raise assumed by us to be the largest one-shot pay boost for a public official in County history, topping the whopper the Supes gave themselves 15 years ago.
WHEN one of the female Coop invaders called Monday to deny eyewitness accounts that they'd disrupted store business and done minor damage in the process, I got a distinct gunnysacker hit off her, a young-ish woman of Karen tendencies with endless grievances she carries around in her gunnysack, poised to dump them all over whomever pauses to listen to her.
I HAD TO LAUGH when the gunnysacker said the Coop tried to charge her five bucks for curb service. She has a medical condition, you see, that exempts her from the store's mandatory mask policy, but the store refuses to recognize her exemption. She can't go in the store without her mask, and they won't cater to her outside free of charge. “For the Coop to charge me five dollars for them to bring me groceries outside the store is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” she said. BTW, the 25 minutes these ”patriots” have posted is the most sedate 25 minutes of the full hour they were in the store.
HOUSING ACTION FOR THE COAST
Are you concerned about the number of vacation rentals in the County? the Housing Action Team — North Coast Mendocino County (HAT) is, so we created an interactive map of all licensed vacation rentals and posted it on our website: https://www.hatmendocoast.org/
If you know of vacation rentals near you, we’d appreciate you looking for it on the map and letting us know if they aren’t there. I’m including a screen shot of the map, so you get a feel for the magnitude of the issue.
Johanna Jensen for HAT
BROWN ACT VIOLATION NOTICE & CURE AND CORRECT DEMAND
TO: Board Chair Dan Gjerde and board members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
December 14, 2021
Dear Chair Gjerde,
This letter is to call your attention to what I believe was a substantial violation of a central provision of the Ralph M. Brown Act, one which may jeopardize the finality of the action taken by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, December 14, 2021
The nature of the violation is as follows:
In its meeting of December 14, 2021, the Board of Supervisors took action to give a large pay increase to County Counsel via the Consent Calendar and the unanimous approval of the consent calendar.
The action taken was not in compliance with the Brown Act because Goverment code requires that such actions for department heads be read out loud into the record and voted on separately.
See Government Code Section 54953(c)(3) and 3511.1.
The Brown Act creates specific procedural obligations for such department head raises which were not complied with by approving the item on the consent calendar.
The Brown Act also creates a legal remedy for illegally taken actions—namely, the judicial invalidation of them upon proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Pursuant to that provision, I demand that the Board of Supervisors cure and correct the illegally taken action as follows:
Invalidate the proposed increase and put the proposed pay increase on a regular agenda, read it out loud for public review and conduct a roll call vote.
Further, at the time of the vote I demand that each board member explain their justification for voting the way they did.
Further, I demand that the Board specify which budget this unbudgeted expenditure will be taken from.
Further, I demand that the Board create a specific policy that requires all future department head or elected official pay increases to be handled in accordance with applicable government code sections on a regular agenda in open session.
As provided by Section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand to either cure or correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. If you fail to cure or correct as demanded, such inaction may leave me no recourse but to refer the item to the District Attorney and/or seek a judicial invalidation of the challenged action pursuant to Section 54960.1, in which case I would also ask the court to order you to pay my court costs and reasonable attorney fees in this matter, pursuant to Section 54960.5.
PO Box 459
Boonville, CA 95415
cc: County Counsel Christian Curtis, District Attorney David Eyster
ANOTHER NARCAN SAVE
On 11-27-2021 at approximately 3:09 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were handling an unrelated call for service in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah.
As Deputies completed the call for service, a citizen flagged the Deputies down and advised them of a 32-year old male subject who appeared passed out in front of the stores at a nearby shopping center.
The Deputies located and then contacted the adult male (32 year-old from Ukiah, CA) who they recognized from previous law enforcement contacts.
The Deputies tried to awake the adult male, but he did not respond as he was obviously unconscious. As the Deputies were attending to the adult male, they noticed drug paraphernalia consistent with opioid use in his hands.
It was at this time the Deputies noticed the adult male had short, shallow breathing and was most likely suffering from a potentially deadly drug overdose.
The Deputies placed the adult male flat on his back and requested immediate medical assistance from medical first responders (fire & ambulance) due to the possible drug overdose.
While waiting for medical to arrive, Deputies administered (4) four individual doses of Narcan to the adult male to try and reverse the affects of the overdose.
Shortly after administering the fourth dose of Narcan, the adult male became conscious and his breathing began returning to normal.
Due to the unavailability of medical first responders (fire & ambulance) because of multiple active medical related calls for service in the Ukiah area, Deputies quickly transported the adult male by patrol car to a local hospital where he was admitted and treated for a drug overdose.
In April 2019 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) began to issue NARCAN® (Naloxone HCI) nasal spray dosage units to its employees as part of their assigned personal protective equipment. MCSO's goal is in protecting the public and officers from opioid overdoses. Access to naloxone is now considered vital in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control. The California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard has reported Mendocino County ranking, per capita, 3rd in all opioid overdose deaths.
Narcan nasal spray units are widely known to reverse opioid overdose situations in adults and children. Each nasal spray device contains a four milligram dose, according to the manufacturer. Naloxone Hydrochloride, more commonly known by the brand name NARCAN®, blocks the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose (both medications and narcotics) including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness.
The antidote can reverse the effects of an overdose for up to an hour, but anyone who administers the overdose reversal medication in a non-medical setting is advised to seek emergency medical help right away. The spray units can also be used by Public Safety Professionals who are unknowingly or accidentally exposed to potentially fatal amounts of fentanyl from skin absorption or inhalation.
The issuance of the Narcan nasal units, thus far, have been to employees assigned to the Field Services Division and the Mendocino County Jail medical staff. Employees are required to attend user training prior to being issued the medication.
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall would like to thank Mendocino County HHSA Public Health for providing the Narcan nasal units to the Sheriff's Office free of charge as part of the Free Narcan Grant from the California Department of Public Health.
Since the April 2019 issuance, there have now been (8) eight separate situations wherein Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Patrol Sergeants/Deputies have administered NARCAN and saved the lives of (8) eight people in need of the life saving antidote medication.
In October 2021 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a grant from the California Naloxone Distribution Project through the Department of Health Care Services to help maintain an inventory of the live saving antidote.
The 192 dosage units will be distributed to the Field Services Division and Corrections Division as current inventories from Mendocino County HHSA Public Health are being exhausted.
Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall would like to thank the California Naloxone Distribution Project through the Department of Health Care Services for awarding the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office with the Naloxone grant to better help protect his employees and the public.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 14, 2021
GILBERT BENEVIDES, Ukiah. Perjury, conspiracy, unspecified charge.
TRINITY BRAY, Carmichael/Ukiah. Child abandonment/neglect.
JOSHUA GENSAW-CRUM, Dallas/Laytonville. DUI causing bodily injury, controlled substance.
ANDREA GONZALES, Santa Cruz/Willits. Embezzlement, controlled substance, paraphernalia, false ID, vandalism, false personation of another.
DANIEL HOLMES, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
WILLIAM KESTER, Willits. DUI, leaded cane, resisting.
BRIAN REID, San Francisco. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen property, false ID, resisting, failure to appear.
NICOLE SANDIEGO, Ukiah. Battery, probation revocation.
GRANDMA: ‘WE PUSHED LADY IN FUR COAT TO GET ON BUS.’
by Justine Frederiksen
When she was 80 and I was 25, my grandmother invited me to Paris and London with her. Like most trips, the journey we took together in 1995 was both awful and amazing, creating my favorite memories of her. But even better than my memories are the journals we both kept:
Thursday, Dec. 14, 1995
Grandma’s journal entry:
Slept very well. Breakfast early.
Found photo store, got two cameras. Walked to Palais Royal, Justine to Pyramid.
To Marks and Spencer, Justine got body suit. My Visa refused!
Walked across to National Assembly, missed one bus, second full, third we pushed lady in fur coat to get on.
Foned Sy, he sick. Cancelled meeting.
My journal entry:
We walked to the Hotel de Ville, going into Notre Dame and looking at the Louvre from the outside. We walked all the way to the Opera House, beautiful, then looked at all of the expensive shops on the way back.
We got to the Place de Concorde again, and as we were crossing the bridge I saw a bus go by and said, “I bet that’s ours.” But we couldn’t make it to the stop in time, so we stood at the corner, and it started to snow again. I have never been so cold in my life.
There were lots of other people waiting, too, and cars would stop and pick people up randomly. One bus stopped and only picked up four of us, so when another came, we got brutal. Grandma just plowed on, so I had to really push to get on or I would have been left there alone.
We were all packed on the bus like sardines; the woman behind me was holding onto my parka. It got dreadfully hot and I felt sick and claustrophobic; the windows were all steamed and you could not see out. Then more and more people got on and sometimes the bus would barely move, the traffic just crawling, and finally when we got to our stop, it was impossible to get off! No one else was getting off, but more people were squeezing on, and I pushed, and got stuck between a man and a round woman -- I literally could not move. But I pushed and pushed and finally popped out, my stuff all squished and twisted, and grandma slowly squeezed out, and we collapsed into the hotel lobby, laughing so hard we had to sit down in the chairs.
Every night in Paris I slept like a baby, falling asleep almost instantly, couldn’t read one page.
Having recently retired from the adjacent Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and having heard a decade of discussions pro and con, I want to correct some statements about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to remove mice from the Farallon Islands to save native wildlife.
First, Brodifacoum 25D rodenticide was exempted from the state ban. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency labels it for island ecosystem restoration. This approach has succeeded in nearly 700 island restorations.
Other means have failed. Contraceptives won’t work, are still years away, cannot reach all the mice, and each mouse needs repeat doses. The bait requires years of regular replenishment, repeatedly disrupting seabird and seal rookeries. Who’ll suffer most? Seal pups and chicks.
COP26 has taught us that delay is deadly. We can’t predict when climate change and other stressors might push the endangered ashy storm-petrels, a small endemic seabird, past their tipping point. Between 2007 and 2012, 49% of these birds disappeared. The mice and the owls they attract have helped push them toward extinction, and also prey on other rare species.
Only the Fish and Wildlife Service plan for mouse eradication can restore resilience to help native wildlife survive.
Mary Jane Schramm
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
My wife asked if I’d go to the store, pick up ingredients so she could make lasagna. OK, I’ll go. She gave me a list. I needed beer anyway. Then she said “Make sure you get artisan bread.” Artisan bread? So when I got to the market I looked at all the breads on the shelf and found a loaf that actually said ‘Artisan Bread.’ I was pretty proud of finding exactly what she asked for. Got home, she pulled the bread out the the bag and said “This is the wrong bread, I said Artesian Bread.”
The lasagna: “I wouldn’t have bought this brand”
The Mozerella: “did you check the date on this?”
The Tomato Sauce “THIS IS ON SALE NEXT WEEK, NOT THIS WEEK.”
The parmesan: “Why’d you get the large size?”
Finally, a little snark: “I’ll bet you got the beer you wanted.”
THE EXECUTION OF JULIAN ASSANGE
by Chris Hedges
Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Teresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.
Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress. “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke.
His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.
Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war crimes. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or Labour. Trump or Biden. It does not matter. The goons who oversee the empire sing from the same Satanic songbook. Empires always kill those who inflict deep and serious wounds. Rome’s long persecution of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, forcing him in the end to commit suicide, and the razing of Carthage repeats itself in epic after epic. Crazy Horse. Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X. Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sukarno. Ngo Dinh Diem. Fred Hampton. Salvador Allende. If you cannot be bought off, if you will not be intimidated into silence, you will be killed. The obsessive CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, which because none succeeded have a Keystone Cop incompetence to them, included contracting Momo Salvatore Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago, along with Miami mobster Santo Trafficante to kill the Cuban leader, attempting to poison Castro’s cigars with a botulinum toxin, providing Castro with a tubercle bacilli-infected scuba-diving suit, booby-trapping a conch shell on the sea floor where he often dived, slipping botulism-toxin pills in one of Castro’s drinks and using a pen outfitted with a hypodermic needle to poison him.
The current cabal of assassins hide behind a judicial burlesque overseen in London by portly judges in gowns and white horse-hair wigs mouthing legal Alice-in-Wonderland absurdities. It is a dark reprise of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the Lord High Executioner drawing up lists of people “who would not be missed.”
I watched the latest installment of the Assange show trial via video link on Friday. I listened to the reading of the ruling granting the appeal by the United States to extradite Assange. Assange’s lawyers have two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court, which they are expected to do. I am not optimistic.
Friday’s ruling was devoid of legal analysis. It fully accepted the conclusions of the lower court judge about increased risk of suicide and inhumane prison conditions in the United States. But the ruling argued that US Diplomatic Note no. 74, given to the court on February 5, 2021, which offered “assurances” that Assange would be well treated, overrode the lower court’s conclusions. It was a remarkable legal non sequitur. The ruling would not have gotten a passing grade in a first-semester law school course. But legal erudition is not the point. The judicial railroading of Assange, which has eviscerated one legal norm after another, has turned, as Franz Kafka wrote, “lying into a universal principle.”
The decision to grant the extradition was based on four “assurances” given to the court by the US government. The two-judge appellate panel ruled that the “assurances” “entirely answer the concerns which caused the judge [in the lower court] to discharge Mr. Assange.” The “assurances” promise that Assange will not be subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which keep prisoners in extreme isolation and allow the government to monitor conversations with lawyers, eviscerating attorney-client privilege; can, if the Australian his government agrees, serve out his sentence there; will receive adequate clinical and psychological care; and, pre-trial and post trial, will not be held in the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado.
“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the judges wrote. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”
And with these rhetorical feints the judges signed Assange’s death warrant.
None of the “assurances” offered by Biden’s Department of Justice are worth the paper they are written on. All come with escape clauses. None are legally binding. Should Assange do “something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX” he will be subject to these coercive measures. And you can be assured that any incident, no matter how trivial, will be used, if Assange is extradited, as an excuse to toss him into the mouth of the dragon. Should Australia, which has marched in lockstep with the US in the persecution of their citizen not agree to his transfer, he will remain for the rest of his life in a US prison. But so what. If Australia does not request a transfer it “cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge’s concerns,” the ruling read. And even if that were not the case, it would take Assange ten to fifteen years to appeal his sentence up to the Supreme Court, more than enough time for the state assassins to finish him off. I am not sure how to respond to assurance number four, stating that Assange will not be held pre-trial in the ADX in Florence. No one is held pre-trail in ADX Florence. But it sounds reassuring, so I guess those in the Biden DOJ who crafted the diplomatic note added it. ADX Florence, of course, is not the only supermax prison in the United States that might house Assange. Assange can be shipped out to one of our other Guantanamo-like facilities. Daniel Hale, the former US Air Force intelligence analyst currently imprisoned for releasing top-secret documents that exposed widespread civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes, has been held at USP Marion, a federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) since October. CMUs are highly restrictive units that replicate the near total isolation imposed by SAMs.
The High Court ruling ironically came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced at the virtual Summit for Democracy that the Biden administration will provide new funding to protect reporters targeted because of their work and support independent international journalism. Blinken’s “assurances” that the Biden administration will defend a free press, at the very moment the administration was demanding Assange’s extradition, is a glaring example of the rank hypocrisy and mendacity that makes the Democrats, as Glen Ford used to say, “not the lesser evil, but the more effective evil.”
Assange is charged in the US under 17 counts of the Espionage Act and one count of hacking into a government computer. The charges could see him sentenced to 175 years in prison, even though he is not a US citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US-based publication. If found guilty it will effectively criminalize the investigative work of all journalists and publishers, anywhere in the world and of any nationality, who possess classified documents to shine a light on the inner workings of power. This mortal assault on the press will have been orchestrated, we must not forget, by a Democratic administration. It will set a legal precedent that will delight other totalitarian regimes and autocrats who, emboldened by the United States, will gleefully seize journalists and publishers, no matter where they are located, who publish inconvenient truths.
There is no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, a foreign national, under the Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers. This fact alone invalidates any future trial. Assange, who after seven years in a cramped room without sunlight in the embassy, has been held for nearly three years in a high-security prison in London so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the unrelenting abuse and torture it knows will lead to his psychological and physical disintegration. The persecution of Assange is designed to send a message to anyone who might consider exposing the corruption, dishonesty and depravity that defines the black heart of our global elites.
Dean Yates can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. He was the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad on the morning of July 12, 2007 when his Iraqi colleagues Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed, along with nine other men, by US Army Apache gunships. Two children were seriously wounded. The US government spent three years lying to Yates, Reuters and the rest of the world about the killings, although the army had video evidence of the massacre taken by the Apaches during the attack. The video, known as the Collateral Murder video, was leaked in 2010 by Chelsea Manning to Assange. It, for the first time, proved that those killed were not engaged, as the army had repeatedly insisted, in a firefight. It exposed the lies spun by the US that it could not locate the video footage and had never attempted to cover up the killings.
The Spanish courts can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. Spain was given an assurance that David Mendoza Herrarte, if extradited to the US to face trial for drug trafficking charges, could serve his prison sentence in Spain. But for six years the Department of Justice repeatedly refused Spanish transfer requests, only relenting when the Spanish Supreme Court intervened.
The people in Afghanistan can tell you what U.S “assurances” are worth. US military, intelligence and diplomatic officials knew for 18 years that the war in Afghanistan was a quagmire yet publicly stated, over and over, that the military intervention was making steady progress.
The people in Iraq can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. They were invaded and subject to a brutal war based on fabricated evidence about weapons of mass destruction.
The people of Iran can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. The United States, in the 1981 Algiers Accords, promised not to interfere in Iran’s internal affairs and then funded and backed The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), a terrorist group, based in Iraq and dedicated to overthrowing the Iranian regime.
The thousands of people tortured in US global black sites can tell you what US “assurances” are worth. CIA officers, when questioned about the widespread use of torture by the Senate Intelligence Committee, secretly destroyed videotapes of torture interrogations while insisting there was no “destruction of evidence.”
The numbers of treaties, agreements, deals, promises and “assurances” made by the US around the globe and violated are too numerous to list. Hundreds of treaties signed with Native American tribes, alone, were ignored by the US government.
Assange, at tremendous personal cost, warned us. He gave us the truth. The ruling class is crucifying him for this truth. With his crucifixion, the dim lights of our democracy go dark.
This first appeared on Scheerpost.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. His books include American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Death of the Liberal Class, and War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, a collaboration with comics artist and journalist Joe Sacco.
WHY ARE DAMS BUILT ON FAULT LINES?
What a year it's been for the Eel River! Despite the extreme dry conditions we saw at the end of the summer - the South Fork disconnected from the mainstem, and much of the lower river was reduced to a series of pools - we are seeing encouraging chinook returns all the way up at the Van Arsdale Fish Ladder. As of this writing, 443 chinook have made the over 160 mile journey upriver to the Potter Valley Project. This is obviously doesn't compare to the historic abundance of the Eel River, but is a good reminder of the Eel River's potential.
Throughout 2021 Friends of the Eel River continued to draw attention to the variety of concerning issues related to dam safety and reliability at the Potter Valley Project. Our blog series on dam safety this year covered concerns related to Scott Dam's design, foundation, and aging infrastructure. We've also written about the problems associated with sediment accumulation and active landslides. In the midst of this effort to emphasize the unreliable nature of this aging complex, the main transformer bank at the powerhouse failed and the Potter Valley Project ceased producing electricity.
Our final blog in this series about safety and reliability is focused on the seismic stability of Scott Dam, and examines the Bartlett Spring Fault directly below the dam. We know so much more about plate tectonics now than we did a century ago, we should use modern knowledge to guide decisions about infrastructure management in this century. See below for more information.
And finally, No Coal In Humboldt is asking the community to help oppose restoring rail and bringing coal to the North Coast. If you haven't already, please send a letter to the US Department of Transportation asking that federal funds not be used for North Coast coal trains!
For the fish, Alicia Hamann, Friends of the Eel River, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Underlying issues threatening Scott Dam
Scott Dam’s proximity to the Bartlett Springs Fault is a major safety concern. The Bartlett Springs fault was not identified by geologists as “a regionally significant seismic source” until the 1980s, nearly sixty years after Scott Dam was constructed. Scott Dam is not only old, outdated, and inadequately designed; it’s poorly located too.
Please join us in writing to the Department of Transportation urging them to deny a loan application from Mendocino Railway (aka the Skunk Train) for funding from the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.
Mendocino Railway has indicated they are interested in acquiring all or a portion of the Northwest Pacific Railroad, which if rebuilt would be used to transport coal through the Eel River Canyon to Humboldt Bay. If successful, Mendocino Railway’s acquisition of the line would also destroy existing and future segments of trail along the rail right of way.
CRAIG'S GOT $1700 AND READY TO…
Warm Spiritual Greetings, Please share this instructive bit o' wisdom from the Jnana Yoga Master Sri Ramana Maharshi, spoken on 24th August, 1946: youtube.com/watch?v=UrbXR_5L5Xw
I am ready to move on from The Earth First! Media Center in Garberville, California, where videographer Andy Caffrey is pressing on with the archival video effort, in these times of extreme global climate destabilization. Indeed, this is "Earth First!: Origins of the Radical Environmental Movement".
Nota bene: I've got $1700 left in the checking account, health is okay, am probably as Self-realized as I will get, playing LOTTO, and how about we be the show that the whole world is watching? Anybody interested in setting up shop in Washington, D.C.? Talk to me. ☺
Craig Louis Stehr, email@example.com
MARCO LOOKS BACK
Stan and Patricia and their travel show. And my dream journal post.
I got an email from Kent Wallace, who's living in Vietnam now, teaching American English to classes of children. He wrote:
Marco, your wrath against KZYX brought back a fond memory. I was asked to appear on a travel show during the fund raising drive. The DJ, whose name escapes me, but who later died of a bee sting, had me on as a guest. We were talking extensively about New York (he was born there) and the phones were silent. During a break I had an idea (I was not pleased with the lack of response but not surprised either). I suggested that we auction off my silence to the highest bidder. I would remain silent for 24 hours (something I suspected would please plenty of people). Lynn Butler pledged what I recall was $500!!! Only, it came with a catch. I must begin my 24-hours of silence immediately. Needless to say, I packed it in, kept my pledge (even during outings to Patterson's Pub and Dick's). The story got a mention in the national public radio newsletter…
Marco here again. I wrote back:
Stan Something. Stan F.? T.? The blonde woman he did his travel shows with, Patricia Something, was an accountant who did my taxes for free for the whole time I was publishing Memo, I don't know why, and she gave me my first sound-editing computer program, Samplitude, which worked with Windows 3.1, fit on a single floppy disk, and did fine in an 80286-based computer with only 4MB of RAM, though it could take ten minutes to process three minutes of sound. It hardly ever went HONK!HONK!HONK! and shut the computer off.
She lived out in East Caspar and her all-used-redwood cabin had a shower that was a pipe, spigot and showerhead outside in the driveway, nailed to a tree, with a shipping pallet to stand on.
I almost remember the title of their show: Infant Excursions? Friends on a Train? Travel Troubadours? Tch. Dammit. I'm pretty sure it had the word Friends or Friendly in it.
Stan did die from a bee-sting. I remember his stories about sneaking as a civilian into the mountains of Vietnam during the war to take pictures, and sneaking out again, unscathed, all so years later an insect the size of a pea could take him down in the yard at a hotdog barbecue. Again, tch, dammit.
Now what I want from the listserv is Stan's and Patricia's last names, the name of their long-running travel show* and, if possible, recordings of some of their shows, including the intro and outro bit. And contact info for Patricia.
*Ah! Innocents Abroad! It came to me. But I still want the other info.
IN OTHER NEWS: My dreams from Monday and Tuesday this week: https://tinyurl.com/MarcoDreams2021-12-14
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com