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Mendocino County Today: August 30, 2012

AN APPARENT wind shift caused smoke from the rampaging Pass Fire northeast of Covelo to blanket much of Mendocino County, including smoke so thick in the Anderson Valley its surrounding ridgetops were obscured. The fire, now in its 12th day, has burned 32,675 acres as of Wednesday morning.

THE WPA-COMMISSIONED mural called 'Resources of the Soil' had graced the old Ukiah Post Office since 1939. When the Post Office on Ukiah's Westside closed recently in favor of a move to its present bunker-like structure on Orchard Avenue, the building, with the painting still mounted inside, was put up for sale. Its private buyer, if we're lucky, may have some regard for the comely building housing the painting, erected at a time when what their public buildings and spaces looked like still mattered to Americans. But would the new owner of the old Post Office appreciate a left-inspired tribute to working people by a radical called Ben Cunningham, a bosom buddy of Diego Rivera, a straight-up commie? Would the new owner now also own the painting as part of his purchase? Could a valuable and much-loved work of art fall into the barbaric clutches of the Employer's Council? The horror, the horror! There was great concern for the painting's future. But darned if the Post Office didn't alert Mr. Dallan Wordekemper of the “federal preservation office” who has dispatched the painting to an art restorer in Chicago with a promise to Ukiah that the marvelous work would be returned to Ukiah and put on public display, the most likely sites being either the Grace Hudson Museum or, possibly, the County Museum in Willits.

NPR LISTENERS were traumatized today when Terry Gross, interviewing a man who'd written a book about the history of the popular use of the handy noun ‘asshole,’ deployed the word on-air as she introduced the author. Years ago, during an on-air anniversary tribute to ‘Howl,’ KZYX bleeped out the forbidden passages, nicely nullifying the point of the tribute.

WAR, PESTILENCE, ECONOMIC COLLAPSE? Don't bother Mike Thompson with the little stuff. Here's our fearless solon's latest piece of pure demagoguery. Thompson, by the way, claimed he was spat upon when he returned from Vietnam, a straight up lie he has trotted out for the more maudlin (and non-combat) sectors of veteran's groups. The veteran being spit on has been thoroughly debunked by sociologist Jerry Lembcke in “The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam.”

“DEAR SPEAKER BOEHNER, Leader Cantor, Leader Pelosi, and Whip Hoyer: We request that you include language into the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government into Fiscal Year 2013 to require all U.S. flags purchased by the federal government to be made in America, by American workers, using American-grown and manufactured materials. Wherever an American flag is flown, it is a symbol of the freedoms men and women throughout our history have marched, fought and died to secure. There is no greater symbol of our country, our unity, our freedom, and our liberty than our flag. There is precedent to implement these requirements – the Department of Veterans Affairs is already required, by law, to purchase 100 percent American-made flags of American-made materials to drape the casket of each deceased veteran. We believe that it is important that every American flag the federal government buys should be made in America, by American works, and with American materials; and urge that language to this effect be included in legislation funding the federal government for FY2013. At a time when our domestic manufacturing sector is struggling and millions in our country are out of work, it is a slap in the face to all Americans to have their tax dollars spent on U.S. flags that are made overseas. Thank you for your consideration to this matter. We look forward to working with you. Sincerely, Congressman Mike Thompson. Congressman Thompson is proud to represent California’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Yolo. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and sits on the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.”

ARE REGGAE EVENTS safe for young women? An exhange.

I GREW UP going to Reggae (“Sex Assault Rumor Worries Reggae Organizers,” July 31 blog item). As a Mendo local, Reggae was what we looked forward to every summer, and as I and the festival grew, I would hear of an increasing number of sexual assaults occurring. I began to feel frustrated that I should fear for my safety at what used to feel like home to me. Reggae on the River morphs into Reggae Rising, and my crew and I continue to join the yearly campout. As I head back to my camp late one evening, we get stopped at the entrance and are told that no one is allowed to enter due to an “attempted rape.” The next day, no announcement is made about the incident. This year I volunteered on Sunday at Reggae on the River. As soon as I arrive a friend informs me that there had been a rape the night before in Cooks camp. Throughout the day no one onstage mentioned it, and most attendees are most likely still unaware. Reggae on the River is now being moved back to French’s Camp, the original site and a much larger space. The Mateel needs to acknowledge that sexual assault is a problem every year. They should make participants aware that violence of any kind will not be tolerated, and we the patrons should demand a safer, more respectful atmosphere for women, so that “one love positive vibrations” really can exist. When the festival keeps quiet about incidents of sexual violence, they give the message that sexual violence is condoned. When the safety of attendees becomes a priority of the festival, we the patrons become empowered to look out and speak up, and Reggae on the River will become a better show. Reggae Against Rape, 2013. — Natalie Engber, Eureka

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THE MATEEL Community Center would like to respond to the “Make Reggae Safe” letter in the Aug. 9 North Coast Journal. The letter refers to an alleged sexual assault at the Cooks Valley Campground, but links it directly to us and our event, Reggae on the River. We were appalled and dismayed when we learned of the possible assault. Our hearts go out the woman involved. The safety of attendees at our events is a top priority. Although we had no oversight of Cooks Valley Campground, which held its own, separate music event the same weekend as ours, we did include it in a list of local accommodations on our website. We have not received a report of sexual assault occurring on any location under our control since Mateel resumed producing the event five years ago. Every year we do our best to keep our festivals positive, safe, fun and problem-free. We train our coordinators in non-violent communications. We do not condone sexual violence or any violence. Strict procedures are in place to deal with violent offenders, including law enforcement intervention and expulsion from our events. We have open, ongoing communication with the local sheriff’s office. Far from covering anything up, we actively seek out and address any problems within our control. As we go forward, we are strongly considering taking the precaution of not listing any campground on our website unless that campground agrees to the Mateel’s safety standards. We need to be certain that any campground we list for our ticket holders has a level of security that people would be as comfortable with as the security we had this year at the Reggae on the River campground in Benbow Lake State Park. We sincerely appreciate feedback and welcome people to contact us at the Mateel Community Center with any concerns. Thank you, on behalf of the Mateel Community Center. — Cathy Miller, Mateel sponsorship director

FROM HANK SIMS' crucial blog, North Coast Outpost: “The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors just unanimously voiced its support for a feasibility study on the brand-spanking-new multi-gazillion-dollar east-west railroad line that will finally bring back the cargo. After much public testimony and a presentation from Eureka City Manager Dave Tyson, who assured the board that his proposal will involve expenditures of staff time but no dollars from the county’s budget (yet), the board voted 5-0 to hop on board. Many questions surrounding the east-west train are still unanswered. Such as: How much it will cost, who will pay for it, who would want to use it, where it would go, how the land would be acquired, and what economic benefit might it be expected to provide for the county were it to be built? But great public frenzy over the phantom train, combined with the assurance that the action would technically be a freebie for the county, propelled the feasibility study to success. “This is a real thing without any money attached and people who know way more about it than we do, and they’ll tell us if it works,” said Supervisor Rex Bohn. The sentiment carried the day. Even Arcata-area Supervisor Mark Lovelace, now the board’s only train skeptic, lent a tepid thumbs-up. Perhaps he finally concluded the most expeditious course is to let the bubble play out to its inevitable end. He asked a few pointed questions of Tyson and then called it a day. Meanwhile, still no word from the county or anyone else on the Sims Mega-Humbo-riffic Superdevelopment Strategy proposed in these pages several months ago. Sad to say, the failure of local agencies to even investigate the possibility of this potentially 11-figure boost to the local economy is proof positive that they all hate jobs and actively want our children to move as far away as possible.”

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