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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022

Showers | 57 Cases | Yorkville Decision | Tanbark Wagon | Buckhorn Closed | Kitchen Hiring | Faulkner Redwoods | Boardwalk | Skunk Woofs | Sandy Beach | Inept BOS | Foxi Appreciation | Sprinkle Review | Beach Babe | Public Comment | EMT Course | Ed Notes | Sound Cart | No Mo | Redwood Milling | Hutchins Impressed | Yesterday's Catch | Big Apple | Lumber Stack | Crap Detectors | Car Bed | Punishing Solar | Zippomobile | Brown Meltdown | McMenu | Hellstripping | What Matters | Not Strangelove | Woodcut | Water Measures | Friendly Ford | Heroes/Patriots

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ANOTHER ROUND OF LIGHT RAIN SHOWERS will return mostly north of Cape Mendocino this afternoon. A stronger low pressure system will approach the area late on Thursday and bring widespread rain and gusty winds back to Northwest California starting late Thursday evening. (NWS)

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57 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.

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TUESDAY, THE SUPERVISORS APPROVED the permit application to convert the Yorkville Market to a cannabis processing faciIity  after hearing from the opposition and market owner Lisa Walsh. Everyone bemoaned the loss of the popular  market which has suffered operationally and economically since the pandemic landed on Mendocino County. The opposition focused primarily on complaints about pot-related safety, odor, and water impact. But the Board decided they could not legally deny owner Lisa Walsh’s decision to sell the premises to a pot operation. After a muddled discussion the Supervisors decided to include a review of the operation’s permit in three years, after which, if there are no problems with the business, the permit would extend for another ten years.

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CSD BOARD CHAIR VALERIE HANELT’S REMARKS to the Supervisors regarding the Yorkville Market conversion permit application:

Jan 4, 2022 - Supervisors meeting.

My name is Valerie Hanelt and I am a board member on the Anderson Valley Community Services District. We received the application for the administrative permit for the Yorkville Market parcel and we needed a great deal of information to understand this process as well as understand what our input could be. 

So first and foremost, I would like to thank Mr. Vandewaters for his time and support as the AVCSD Board needed a lot of his time and attention. He was willing to zoom with us and take many calls. He was endlessly patient.

I also would like to thank the Yorkville community for sending letters to Mr. Vandewaters, and also, for many of them for attending our special meeting to hear from the public and take a final vote on the administrative permit. I am very grateful to Lisa Walsh for attending the meeting and answering many questions. 

I have been impressed, as always, by the Yorkville community, as a great deal of energy and good will was extended to the owners of the Yorkville Market to help do whatever was possible to help them bridge their economic hard times. There were even some early efforts to put together a co-op to purchase the site. A great deal of the community upheaval was trying to solve the problem of losing our market and gathering place. 

You are familiar with the Anderson Valley; we have four communities – Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, and Navarro. The loss of the Yorkville market was comparable to losing the Navarro Store or Lemon’s Market in Philo. We consulted the General Plan for Anderson Valley and while the goal of “retaining the commercial and social center of our communities” was listed, there is no legal expression supporting that goal with a zoning ordinance. 

In the matter of the administrative permit, the AVCSD Board judged that while it had the same concerns as the Yorkville community, the setting of conditions on these concerns was outside its purview. 

There is a difference between “concerns” and “conditions”. We learned that we did not have the authority to approve or deny, and we became aware that our concerns were being met under the regulations of other agencies and that our actual authority will come later during the business permit process when the site is inspected by our Fire Chief.

After a tremendous amount of discussion which included a journey through the cannabis industry (which I am sure you can appreciate was labyrinthian), the AVCSD arrived at putting a check in the box “no comment at this time” – which certainly does not seem to adequately represent our efforts. And that is why I am addressing you, as I want to convey to you how seriously we took our job of communicating with our community – the Walshes as well as all our Yorkville constituents – and making a transparent and fully informed decision. 

Thank you.

Valerie Hanelt

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Hauling Tan Bark, Westport, 1900

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NATALIE MATSON: 

Thank you to our wonderful community all your patience and support. I know it is unlike us to be closed at all, let alone for this long. I have not posted about it until now because I was hoping to right the situation, but we have been forced to make the very hard decision to be closed for the next few weeks.

CLOSED… (FOR NOW)

We are very sad to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control we are currently closed and have had to put many people out of work for the time being.

Lauren’s at The Buckhorn, the combination of two very popular and historic community hubs that came together just a few months ago has been operating legally on a temporary liquor license since July. This license has been in an escrow that held both the full payment amount from me and the liquor license being sold by Jean Condon, the owner of the previous bar/restaurant at this location, The Buckhorn, and the person who closed that establishment down in May 2019.

A couple of weeks ago, just a day or two before the escrow was to close after numerous delays, primarily caused by the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), Ms. Condon decided that there were better financial offers now available in the County and so she decided to withdraw from escrow. We believe this is illegal. It did not stop there, however, and she has since found another buyer and entered a new sale process to a bar/restaurant believed to be in Hopland.

The escrow contact has been broken and legal action is being taken by us, but in the meantime it is a very sad situation that the Valley is in danger of losing its only liquor license to another community and local folks, friends and family members among us, have lost jobs.

As stated above, I entered into a fully funded escrow months ago and have had my temporary license all this time, waiting for our ABC paperwork to be completed and the license to be transferred. Apart from getting paperwork in, I have had virtually no control over the timeline for this.

Given my financial commitments and the cost of running the business, it is not viable to go ahead with food and soft drinks only, so I am now applying for a temporary Beer and Wine License while I pursue either the liquor license we are legally committed to with Ms. Condon, or, if necessary, a different liquor license from elsewhere when one becomes available — there are only so many issued in the County. Obtaining the Beer and Wine license will hopefully take no more than 4-6 weeks.

Many thanks for everyone’s support and the good times so far enjoyed by lots of local folks and visitors too. I look forward to many more.

Sincerely,

Natalie Matson

Proprietor, Lauren’s At The Buckhorn

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PHILO'S GREAT RESTAURANT, THE COMPANY KITCHEN: 

We are hiring! We are looking to expand our team as well as our hours! We are currently looking to fill all positions! Please come down to the restaurant during our business hours (starting this Friday) or message us here. Thank you! 

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PG&E’S FAULKNER PARK PLAN increases fire hazard; does not reduce it.

AVCSD Board and ES Committee, 

The attached memo is informational only and regarding the Faulkner Park tree removal discussion. This has been sent out to support the opposition of redwood tree removal in the county park based on fire behavior, it will be discussed in the Emergency Services Committee on Wednesday, January 5, and will be in the reading file for the Anderson Valley Community Serivces District Board. 

Respectfully, 

Andres Avila, Anderson Valley Fire Department.

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MEMO:

Faulkner Park Incipient Fire Analysis Under an Established Redwood Grove

January 4, 2022

To whom it may concern, 

The following is a brief fire overview showing that Faulkner Park redwood trees should not be cut down, rather the understory should be reduced instead.

Over the last few years, the west coast has seen more catastrophic wildfires than ever before, many of which occurred due to PG&E’s power system failures. As a result, an unprecedented effort to remove trees along distribution lines has been put into motion. If done correctly, this is a very wise and overdue solution to reducing future wildfire. 

The unique issue that Faulkner Park is facing involves removing old growth redwood trees based on a template remedy versus a logical approach. If the removal of trees surrounding distribution lines is based on fire danger created by downed powerlines, it would be logical to assess the potential for fire danger before and after to ensure that the intent will be achieved. The logic below should demand a closer evaluation to avoid imposing an increased fire danger in Faulkner Park with the removal of the old growth redwoods. 

In the right conditions fire could destroy and consume Faulkner Park. On the other hand, wildfire has several factors for determining the intensity in fire growth and consumption. The fire service describes these conditions in three basic categories: fire fuels, weather, and topography. Fine details within these categorize like; time of year, weather condition, time of day, elevation, proximity, vegetation type, shading, tree diameter, aspect, etc. all have a distinct effect on how receptive the location is to fire ignition, spread and consumption. 

Shading is in abundance under redwood trees. This shading slows down the process of warming surface temperatures on smaller fuels. Along with keeping temperatures down it assists in holding relative humidity longer. Although shaded fuels will dry and warm like all other vegetative matter, their seasonal conditions are slower to transition into a ripe fire environment. Fuels that are in direct sunlight lose fuel moistures quicker and are subsequently drier earlier in the season than shaded fuels. These sundried fuels take less energy to start and support fire growth when ember cast, sparker, or other heat sources are introduced. 

Fuel size, moisture content and minimal forest density are additional existing benefits. The park’s established redwood trees have limited competition for underground water supplies which results in higher live fuel moistures and thicker Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) than trees in a competitive setting. Unlike most places in our area, Faulkner Park has spring water present almost year-round in a small spring fed creek adjacent to the powerline easement. This would imply that the trees have access to good water and would also contribute to higher live fuel moistures. Since Faulkner Park contains older growth redwood grove, limited understory is present, and in turn reduces the amount of potential energy to be released in a wild fire. The park’s western half has this naturally established shaded fuel setting, which is a desired forest condition by most land managers.

Topography is one element that mostly remains the same in Faulkner Park. If fire was to start inside the park along the utility easement where it is mostly level, topography would have less of an impact on fire spread. To be entirely clear, if fire moved into Faulkner Park from the downhill side (especially from Bear Wallow), fire intensity would be drastically increased and much different than any incipient fire growth starting within the park. 

Anyone who has been around the woods will know, opening up the tree canopy allows for a vigorous understory growth which the redwood trees have been naturally holding back. Opportunistic vegetation like Douglas Fir, Huckleberry and Tanoak would be given the conditions to rapidly and densely grow underneath the powerlines. 

An assumption in this scenario is that PG&E would not maintain the understory growth since it is not a contributor to powerline limb strike concerns, and yet the new landscape would be at an increased risk from fire. 

Whether or not the understory was routinely maintained, the wildfire conditions would be drastically changed when powerlines fall onto these newly created conditions below. An arcing powerline on smaller diameter fuels in direct sunlight would suggest a higher probability of ignition and sustained fire growth. Like kindling in a wood stove, the smaller and drier fuels would easily ignite and promote higher intensity fire conditions and potential growth.

An alternative solution could involve PG&E supporting the County Park by enhancing the park’s fire resilience. PG&E fuel reduction crews could instead focus their attention on removing adjacent fire fuel build up within the park to supplement the naturally shaded conditions under the redwoods. Creating a shaded fuel break would assist any fire suppression efforts controlling incipient fires that may have started from power system failures. In addition, more fuels reduction in the understory of the park would reduce fire impacts on PG&E infrastructure, increase safety for the public, and minimize the potential of high severity fire transitioning into the redwood grove.

In closing, if PG&E is indeed attempting to reduce wildfire potential, they should prudently conduct a wildfire analysis on both models and consider understory fuels reduction within the park surrounding the utility easement. The fire service routinely conducts fire ignition and spread analysis during fire suppression and prescribed burning activities because of the accuracy of fire modeling programs. Due diligence would strongly suggest that PG&E conduct such a review and reevaluate their tactics for fire fuels reduction. If a review is not conducted, not only would they be unnecessarily removing our community’s redwood grove, but they may very likely be increasing wildfire probability under the ploy of fire safety.

Respectfully, 

Andres Avila, Fire Chief 

Anderson Valley Fire Department 

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Mendocino Boardwalk Gathering

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SKUNK RATTLES SABER

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NORM CLOW: Thinking of this nice sandy beach I painted a few years ago and waiting impatiently for a run down to Galveston Island when it's just a bit warmer.

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NEW BOARD, SAME AS THE OLD BOARD

AVA News Service

The Board of Supervisors first meeting of 2022 was indistinguishable (virtually speaking) from every meeting since the pandemic began in March, 2020.

The Board was locked out of the Board chambers.

Public comment was effectively neutralized.

There were multiple technical glitches.

The CEO and staff ran the meeting, not the Board Chair.

The Board and staff ignored the published agenda in favor of a non-public, non-published shadow agenda.

The Supes appeared remotely (very remotely) in their usual disconnected and disinterested fashion.

The Supes knew almost nothing about the issues in front of them.

Supervisor Glenn McGourty knew less than nothing.

Supervisor John Haschak was odd man out. 

Although CEO Carmel Angelo remains firmly in control, there were subtle indications she may be far closer to going out the door than previously assumed.

Although the Supes were locked out of their chambers, two intrepid presenters from the California State Association of Counties spoke (unmasked) from the Board Chamber’s public podium, gazing around the room as if they were directly addressing the Board. This inspired a momentary hope that the chambers were at long last to be opened as a focal point for Public Comment during the Supes meetings (which are allegedly, technically open to the public). But such was not the case. 

The Supes were locked out from the start but recently staff have also absented themselves from Board chambers. Beleaguered County Counsel Christian Curtis and Senior Clerk of the Board Lindsay Dunham-Dougherty appeared to be zooming in from their county work desks. CEO Angelo appeared only at random as a disembodied voice, presumably from San Diego, from whence she came and to where she is expected to return with her exorbitant Mendo County retirement pension. 

With few exceptions the only members of the public still bothering to offer public comment were cannabis lobbyists and activists. Everyone else has given up pretending the Board pays any attention or cares what the public thinks. The most noteably exception was Carrie Shattuck who regularly blasts the Supes for hiding “behind their screens” and failing to face the public. She deftly pointed out the hypocrisy of the Supes using covid concerns to justify keeping the meetings closed to the public, noting the Supes were seen out and about in the community at bars and restaurants and they all spent a week in Monterey hobnobbing with other supervisors, lobbyists and staff members from all 58 counties. 

Their week in Monterey included numerous taxpayer funded lunches, dinners and after-hours receptions with people crowded together without social distancing or masking. Ms. Shattuck rightly chastised the Supes for hypocritically keeping the public shut out of meetings but quickly shredded her credibility by lapsing into screachy anti-vax conspiracy rhetoric. 

The meeting had the usual share of technical glitches with extended silences and garbled audio. But a new wrinkle was added with a silent rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance. When the Clerk of the Board asked CEO Angelo to lead the pledge there was silence. If Angelo (who was present by audio but not video) was reciting the pledge, she couldn’t be heard, but neither could any of the Supervisors. At times last year it was obvious individual Supes were unable to recite the pledge from memory when called upon, a problem which was solved by having the Clerk of the Board lead the pledge. Look for a return to that practice next meeting. 

Angelo’s apparent physical absence is an indicator that she already has one if not two feet out the door on her way to San Diego. Among amendments to the Rules of Procedure were several changes removing references to the Chief Executive Officer. There are rumors floating around that Angelo will be gone as early as March. Since only Angelo keeps track of her vacation time she likely has enough accrued to go out the door months before her contract run out and still be paid in full through the end of her contract in October. 

The meetings are obviously run and orchestrated by staff (no matter how ineptly), not the Chair of the Board who is nominally tasked with running the meetings but frequently asks staff which agenda item to take up next. It was equally obvious that the Board and staff are following an unpublished agenda that is not shared with the public. After Role Call and the silent Pledge, the Board went to agenda items 5a & 5b before coming back to item 3 (Public Expression). The Board then jumped to 6a & 6b before falling back to item 4 (the Consent Calendar) then went back to 5c. What’s the point of posting a public agenda when there’s no intention of following it? It’s a barrier to the public who might be interested in following a specific item since there’s no way to anticipate if a given item will be first up in the morning or last up in the afternoon. 

The dynamics of staff running the show according to an unpublished agenda became obvious before lunch when Chair Ted Williams announced, “We’re 36 minutes ahead of schedule. Shall we go to Closed Session or take another item?” None of the agenda items were timed so the only schedule they were ahead of was the unpublished agenda which said they would adjourn to Closed Session at 12:00 noon. 

Staff told Williams to take up another item but the presenter was not on the line (having been scheduled for after lunch). The Clerk then suggested the Legislative Update, a reliable space filler. Deputy CEO Judy Morris said she could go ahead but the County’s State unnecessary lobbyist was also scheduled for after lunch. Williams then called for Supes Reports but there were none (at that time). Williams then asked staff if any items were ready to go. Supervisor Haschak then jumped in to report he and Supervisor Dan Gjerde had met on housing and Gjerde could report on the new “housing czar.” Haschak added the so-called Strategic Planning team had met and reminded everyone the Strategic Planning Town Hall meetings would begin that night (Tuesday night), he thought at 6:00, or was it 5:00? As if it mattered. The “housing czar” mentioned by Haschak but as described by Gjerde, turned out to be a planner (shifting over from cannabis – what could go wrong?) who would be the point person for the Housing Element, a boilerplate part of the General Plan that has produced a lot of dusty paperwork but no new housing. 

Supervisor McGourty maintained his streak of proving at least once each meeting that he has no clue what the job of supervisor entails. His moment came during discussion of the Board’s two Standing Committees. McGourty said, “I, I, I, I, uh, don’t know exactly how many people serve on a standing committee? How many supervisors?” (Yes, they really are that inarticulate.) The answer should be obvious, especially for McGourty, a 30 year career bureaucrat. One supervisor would not be a committee. Three or more would be a meeting of the Board, not a committee. McGourty, a self-styled intellectual (apparently of the Sleepy Uncle Joe variety) ought to have been able to puzzle that one out. Plus, he served on a standing committee last year! But last year or last meeting may as well have been an eternity for McGourty who zooms into each meeting with a blank slate. 

Supervisor Haschak, who successfully defeated the efforts of his colleagues to adopt an expanded cannabis cultivation ordinance, continued as odd man out on the Board. Haschak attempted to insert a couple of innocuous changes into the Rules of Procedure, one to require Public Comment prior to the Board putting a motion on the floor and the other to require that the Supes report out on the activities of the ad hoc committees in writing at least once a month. Haschak also wanted the Public Health, Safety and Resources Standing Committee to specifically take on oversight of cannabis but was again shot down. Supervisor Maureen Mulheren reiterated her position that all cannabis issues need to come to the full Board. Except when they don’t. (During discussion of the repealed Canna Facilities ordinance Mulheren suggested an ad hoc to work on bringing the ordinance back!) 

Board discussion on multiple items revealed how little they understood of the items before them. Introducing an ordinance to repeal previous amendments to the Cannabis Facilities ordinance was a good example. The amendments, which allowed for canna commerce and tourism in the form of farm stays, farm tours, farmers markets and micro enterprises were challenged by the Willits Environmental Center which alleged insufficient environmental review. During secret negotiations the Supes agreed to settle that suit by repealing the amendments to the ordinance, an outcome approved by the Superior Court on November 30. The Board repealed the ordinance but directed staff to bring back the same ordinance with appropriate environmental review. At least three of the Supes seemed to think this was a simple check-the-boxes exercise. Staff explained it would require months of work to complete the environmental review. Left unsaid was that the Willits Environmental Center will continue to bring suit against any effort to expand legal cannabis business.

On several items, including repeal of the Cannabis Facilities ordinance, the appeal of the Yorkville cannabis business and approval of the Rules of Procedure it took several attempts at a motion before the Board could agree on proper wording of what they wanted to accomplish. They were unable to approve the Local Child Care Planning Council 5 Year Plan because Haschak, the sponsor, forgot to include approval of the plan in the recommended motion. It’s likely to be a long year procedurally. 

This current Board is short on experience, short on consistency and short on transparency. During discussion of the Board’s Master Meeting Calendar for 2022 they went into a lengthy discussion about the need to add more meetings for the review of Department Heads. During the discussion CEO Angelo made reference to the Board having discussed their desire to review the performance of the Department Heads, something that, with few exceptions (Ag Commissioner, Air Quality Director), is done by the CEO if at all. Except the Board never had that discussion. At least not in public. Which means the Board most likely engaged in serial meetings in violation of the Brown Act or had discussions in Closed Session that weren’t listed on the agenda, also in violation of the Brown Act.

Speaking of the Brown Act, stay tuned for further commentary on the Board’s half-hearted “cure” of the multiple Brown Act violations committed by the Board at their meeting December 7 when they incorrectly attempted to increase the salary for County Counsel Christian Curtis to $192,436 plus benefits. One of the primary duties of County Counsel is to make sure the Supes are Brown Act compliant. But somehow Curtis managed to violate the Brown Act in his efforts to increase his own salary, twice.

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SO, A YEAR AGO TODAY, this wonderful paramedic saved my life. This morning, I stopped by her City Ambulance office to tell her how much she is appreciated. 

Thank you Foxi Keane 

— Tom Allman

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GOVERNOR NEWSOM'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

Editor,

Hello to everyone at the Mighty AVA.

This is a letter to fill you in on my Christmas gift from California's governor.

Most of you know why I have spent the last 25 years in prison. I truly never touched any one, but to gain parole I had to admit to touching the two I was convicted of.

I was found suitable for parole at my sixth hearing after a psychologist's evaluation found but I am a "low" risk for recidivism. It should also be noted that I was NOT found to fit the criteria for being a pedophile.

On Christmas Eve my counselor handed me a letter from Governor Newsom. He has taken it upon himself to have my case reviewed by the full Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) again, to see if I should really be granted parole. This is usually only done for cases that are the worst of the worst.

As the Governor's letter states, the public is allowed to attend this review hearing and even allowed to make statements. Please consider speaking on my behalf at the hearing either in person or via computer as I will not be able to do so myself. If you are willing to advocate for me, please go to the below websites. 

The day of the hearing should be either January 18 or January 19, 2022.

To check the schedule: www.cdcr.ca.gov/pbh/hearing-schedule

To see the agenda: www.cdcr.ca.gov/bph/meeting-agenda

To attend the meeting: www.tinyurl.com/bph (You are allowed two minutes of comment)

To e-mail a comment: bphexe.brdmeeting@cdcr.ca.gov.

Thank you very much and peace be with you all.

Sincerely,

Mark Sprinkle #K-24619
CIM-A1-190L
P.O. Box 368
Chino, CA 91708-0368

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Big River Beach, 1919

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HUMCO SUPES LOOK TO CHANGE PUBLIC COMMENT PROCESS As Antivaxxers Grow Increasingly Menacing And Unhinged

by Ryan Burns

On Tuesday, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chair Virginia Bass will bring forward some proposed tweaks to the way board meetings are organized, including an option to cut the time limit for public speakers down from three minutes to two.

As board chair it’s Bass’s prerogative to make such changes to the board’s agenda template. That includes decisions on how to take public comment, and in the COVID-spawned era of virtual meetings, where anyone with a phone or laptop can participate, the volume of public commenting has increased dramatically, causing meetings to last much longer.

There are four possible changes to the agenda template (as quoted from the staff report):

Limit all public comment to two minutes and ask each participant to state their name and identify the agenda item they are speaking about.

Move “Public Comment on Non Agenda Items” to the end of the agenda just before “Closed Sessions,” allowing other important county business to be conducted more efficiently.

Limit the number of agenda items that are time-set as a means of improving the flow of the agenda during meetings.

Following appropriate Zoom etiquette which requires Board Members to remain on camera at all times during Board meetings as well as raising their hands to speak or muting themselves when not speaking to avoid confusion or speaking over each other.

The reasoning behind these potential changes is left vague in a county staff report. It says Bass and Vice Chair Mike Wilson recently brainstormed with County Administrative Officer Elishia Hayes in hopes of finding ways to “improve the public comment process” and conduct the county’s business “more efficiently and effectively” during board meetings.

If you’ve watched any of the board’s recent meetings, though, it’s not difficult to read between those lines. Not only has there been more public feedback but much of it has been dominated by angry-sounding residents voicing fierce opposition to COVID vaccines, mask mandates and other public health measures.

As their ranks have increased, with comments occupying more and more time each Tuesday, so too has the intensity of their rhetoric. Invocations of Nazi Germany are not uncommon, and a few comments have sounded overtly threatening — ominous warnings spoken with insurrectionist zeal.

At the November 9 meeting Fortuna pastor Mark Seitz accused the county of engaging in “medical apartheid” and remarked, “Normally, Western civilization has guarded free will and conscience as human rights.” (That term —”Western civilization” — is popular among white nationalists.)

Other speakers have falsely accused the county of violating the U.S. Constitution, the Nuremberg Code and its own regulations governing health emergencies. 

At the board’s November 16 meeting a man who identified himself as Daniel Christopher said vaccine mandates are “evil” and added, “This isn’t America anymore.”

He was followed by a man who accused the board of perpetrating a fraud and hurting children, then a woman who claimed that COVID vaccines are a means of genocide. “You’re forcing people to die alone and in despair,” she told the board before launching into song — an original composition, presumably, with lyrics about “love and freedom, hate and tyranny.”

Last month, in an apparent attempt to abridge these disturbing and time-consuming comment marathons, the board voted unanimously to reduce the frequency of COVID pandemic updates delivered by Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman. (They’ll now be delivered to the board just once per month.)

But many from the local collection of anti-vaccine/anti-mask activists have proved willing to sit through entire meetings, finding creative ways to shoehorn their diatribes into seemingly unrelated agenda items.

“I think you can see now [that] as long as this fraudulent emergency health declaration continues, you’ll be getting a lot of feedback from a lot of us,” one of the most combative regular commenters said at the November 16 meeting. He’s been recruiting likeminded people via a group called the Humboldt Freedom Coalition, urging them to sign form letters and Zoom into meetings with scripted talking points. It’s unclear whether their goal is to change the supervisors’ minds or simply gum up the works by grinding the civic process to a standstill. “I’d leave probably two hours [for the public] to speak going forward,” the man suggested.

The comments from this ilk often cite outlandish and debunked conspiracy theories from the outer fringes of the internet — including claims that ivermectin “cures” COVID, that COVID doesn’t exist, that we’re in the midst of World War III and that the supervisors are being paid off by Big Pharma to promote vaccines. 

At the board’s December 14th meeting, Hoffman’s employment contract was up for renewal. Hoffman, like other public health officers across the country — and like Dr. Anthony Fauci on the national level — has become the face of the pandemic for many and thus subject to an outsized share of the public vitriol.

A number of speakers called on the board to fire him, and as the meeting wore on the anger reached a fever pitch. A local astrologer and holistic health practitioner told the board, “You’re helping to destroy our freedom and bring in an authoritarian regime … very similar to what was going on in Nazi Germany.”

Another commenter referred to mild-mannered California Assemblymember Jim Woods, who’d addressed the meeting earlier in the day, as “Tyrant Woods” before angrily telling the board, “Your job is to protect our God-given rights, not to inform us on medical information — or disinformation. …

“Honestly, you should watch out,” he continued. “And in the end, God wins. You guys are really messing with something.”

A few minutes later a different commenter said, “Maybe we shouldn’t have any more agendas until we get our freedoms back in this county.” He suggested that the public needs to see a “personal and public audit” of each supervisor to learn whether they’re “getting [paid] to push an agenda that is unhealthy.”

“Audit every aspect of their lives,” he said. “These people think they’re higher than power, higher than law. We’re gonna get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

The board should end its virtual meetings and resume gathering inside board chambers, he argued. Referring to the county supervisors he said, “Bring meetings back in-person and they’ll have a hard time walking down the street, guarantee it.”

Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Bass said her goal is not to skirt the public process but rather to ensure that the county’s business gets done. She noted that the influx of public participation has been happening nationwide, and many jurisdictions have changed up their public processes. Orange County, for example, temporarily restricted public commenters to just 30 seconds apiece.

Humboldt County officials have been comparing notes with other counties and exploring “best practices” for enabling participation while making sure meetings progress smoothly, Bass said.

She’s not sure yet whether she’ll limit speakers to two minutes instead of three but said she likes the idea of scheduling the public comment period on non-agenda items to the end of the meeting. 

Bass noted that putting time limits on public comments doesn’t violate their freedom of speech. State law just says everyone must be given the same amount of time.

More public participation is a good thing, she said, “but it comes to a point where we’ve still got to get the county’s work done.”

As for the threatening comments, Bass noted that those are also a nationwide phenomenon. She and the rest of the board want to make sure the public remains respectful, so when the meetings return to board chambers later this year, she won’t hesitate to clear the room if and when people fail to live up to that standard, she said. 

She added that Sheriff Billy Honsal worked up some advisory language to warn people that if they fail to remain civil they may be removed from the chambers or arrested.

(Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

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ED NOTES

EVER CLOSER to the ultimate percentile on the actuarial chart, I at least glance at articles having to do with the elderly, widely assumed to be repositories of hard earned wisdom. Nope, young fools become old fools, as they say, but if you're looking for smart people of whatever age saying smart, maybe even helpful things, there are whole libraries of them for you, the more respectable of which won't include the thundering idiocies of “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a recent best seller by a sports writer about a old college teacher of his. “The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Whew! One fortune cookie down. Need another one? Try this: “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” You'll need a ouija board.

LIKE MOST PEOPLE, I'll bet, when we begin to be conscious of the large people around us, we regard them as unreliable informants, if not so temperamentally uneven they seem dangerous to your health and welfare. Myself, surrounded by unreliable informants, especially at school, I got into libraries early via an extraordinarily kind and attentive librarian named Miss Hall, who set aside books she thought would interest me, beginning with the whole series of America's greats biographies written for children. Then, when I was a little older, the Hornblower series, the John R. Tunis sports books, Johnny Tremaine, and then, the hormones began to groan, the real hot stuff like Peyton Place and Rickshaw Boy, and on into the truly influential writers — Dos Passos's USA; Hemingway; Herzen — among the writers who come immediately to mind, all of them unread in schools today and, except for Hemingway, probably unknown. In my dotage, I read a lot of magazine journalism, watch a lot of movies heavy on docs, books of mostly non-fiction.

ONE MORE SIGN that the culture's culture has collapsed is the depressing news that a collection of Norman Mailer political essays has been scrapped by Random House because “a junior staffer” objected to the title of Mailer's famous essay, “The White Negro.”

MY FAVORITE LUNATIC, Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, has speculated that congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene "might be an idiot.” (Might be?) Greene had said that Crenshaw was “hurting our brand” and “should stop calling himself a conservative” because he expressed support for FEMA resources to be used at COVID-19 testing sites. Crenshaw replied to that cretinous jibe, “Hey, Marjorie, if suggesting we should follow Trump policy instead of Biden mandates makes you mad, then you might be a Democrat—or just an idiot." They're both cuckoo, obviously, Crenshaw less so, proving his relative sanity recently when he described Greene as foremost among the “performance artists” and “grifters” in Congress.

A PERSONALITY PROFILE in the current New Yorker is of a neo-fascist called Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, former cop, and a rising star among a slew of snarling fascisti shouting their treasonous bromides on the public airways. As a confirmed lib lab, I don't pay any attention to the radio gasbags of the political right. The one time I watched Alex Jones of InfoWars on Youtube I thought he was a comedian, and Limbaugh, the king of gasbags and the inspiration for this Bongino character and all the rest of the new audio-video tough guys? I remember being surprised that anyone, let alone millions of yobbos, listened to Limbaugh. Of course the lib-left is just as tiresome, as any public radio listener of, ahem, basic discernment will tell you. (Aside: I try to time my morning exercise to begin after the painfully PC, excruciatingly pious Takeaway talk show is inflicted on the Anderson Valley every weekday morning at 6am, but since I like to get out there early when only Alicia Perez and Jan Wasson-Smith are on the road, the Takeaway is the only audio company I can get that early in the morning. This morning (Tuesday), the hostess suddenly announced, "I'm highly educated and I have no idea how the courts work!" She was talking with another bubblehead, a judge, who has written a book about how wonderfully just she is. The Takeaway is an NPR production (of course), but a steady diet of NPR (or KZYX) and you can begin to understand why the Camo Buddies are gathering to make their move.

BECAUSE THE LIBS are banning the fascisti from the dominant cyber-forums, a serious tactical error that will come back on them, the fascisti are starting their own cyber-forums, and Mr. Bongino has apparently joined Trump to create what they see as equivalent to Facebook and Twitter. Here's where Bongino is at: “There's a lot going on behind the scenes. There are people now openly silencing and attacking conservatives, trying to have them jailed, trying to have them sanctioned, bankrupted financially, fired from their jobs. This is all happening right now! And it's all happening because of the Democrat Party and the liberals. They are fascists! That's not in dispute!”

BONGINO CONT: ...”The only good news about the rapid descent [of America] is we're going to hit bottom soon. And I promise you, I promise you! I know it — the Lord will not let this country go down like that. There will be an ascent just as fast, where freedom and liberty will reemerge, and these people on the other side of it, the Big Tech tyrant totalitarian fascists, their liberal buddies, the Biden Administration, they will all — all — have to answer for this.”

IT'S WAY TOO LATE to require a general tightening up of political terms. Jeez, when the fascists think we're the fascists it all gets kinda confusing. Quick! Define “progressive.” See what I mean?

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BETSY CAWN TO MO MULHEREN:

Supervisor Mulherin’s list of accomplishments exhibits the sense of self-importance that many elected officials display in their claims of achievements for which the majority (if not all) of the effort was made by others.

Of the 41 items in the list, only one or two qualify as personal endeavors. The rest are all activities in which the Supervisor’s participation may or may not have influenced a beneficial outcome. More importantly, the Supervisor was paid handsomely for the time spent on “supporting” the named activities, two of which were characterized as “volunteering” and two were described as “advocating.”

In every case, significant numbers of organizational steps were involved, the culmination of which was the authorization of expenditures by means of a voice vote (at a meeting conducted in a public facility paid for by the tax payers of the county) or at most a brief appearance in a public place following a comfortable ride, most likely with travel expenses (including meals) all paid for by the underwriters of local governance.

I marvel at the conceit that enables elected officials to make such preposterous claims, as do her equals in Lake County, especially on behalf of committees they chair — formed to conduct the business of the county in virtual asides to the main venue, thereby drawing much less public attention — where the bulk of the “achievements” were done by organizations whose members attend the committee meetings. Again, while receiving handsome compensation.

A good deal of the activity reported by each of our supervisors at their regular meetings, in a regular segment of their formal agenda called “calendar” reports, consists of participating in various committees or boards formed by multi-jurisdictional agency representatives or joining in on festivities created to draw the attention (and dollars) of hoped for customers in highly decorated retail centers.

If there were particular accomplishments that could not have been achieved unless the official stood firm in opposition to their near-loss, or championed an unpopular but important cause, that mention might warrant the kind of self-back-patting atta girl attitude, but in all cases on this list, the institutions themselves did the real work.

County departments, contracted agencies, public service organizations or private enterprises conducted the affairs for which the Supervisor claims to have contributed more than support by her presence and “ongoing” conversations. The conversion of civic leadership into relative stardom, where the actor’s primary task is hardly more than showing up and smiling brightly for the cameras, underwrites the hyper-valuation of the simple acts of nodding and speaking into a well-placed microphone.

A couple of the items warrant a further remark on their inanity. Beside the parades and festivities (including the appearance of “Sugar Bear the Capitol Christmas Tree” in “Ukiah on tour on Halloween”?), delivery runs and picking up trash at an event designed to promote environmental responsibility, the Supervisor “[E]nrolled in CSAC Leadership Initiative and various leadership and educational opportunities through the County Human Resources Department.”

Surely one of the skills added to the Supervisor’s repertoire of faculties was the making of such lists, the tracking of which she forecasts as one of her goals for next year. “Leadership” these days seems to consist of attracting followers on Facebook to lend vicarious witness to the official’s “journey.” Glossolalia at its finest.

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Milling a Redwood

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MENDOCINO COUNTY SCHOOLS AHEAD OF THE CURVE IN DISTRIBUTING COVID TESTS

by Michelle Hutchins, County Superintendent of Schools

Mendocino County, CA — In light of the fast-spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant, the State of California distributed millions of at-home COVID-19 test kits to California county offices of education in December for distribution to public schools. Upon receiving 8,100 test kits, the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) quickly distributed them to schools, many of which were then able to get them in the hands of students before the winter holiday.

Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools Michelle Hutchins said, “We want to reassure everyone that we are as committed as ever to healthy school environments for our students and our staff, and that our districts and schools have been working incredibly hard, many of them giving up time during their own break with family and friends, to ensure the safest possible return to classrooms.”

Mendocino County was among the first counties to complete test-kit distribution. In fact, when Mendocino County Public Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Andy Coren attended a meeting in early January, he was surprised to discover that other counties were just beginning the distribution process. Local parents noted their appreciation of school efforts to keep their children safe.

A Willits parent said, “My son came home from school before the break with a two-test kit and instructions on when to take tests - one on December 30 and another on January 3. Then I received text reminders from his school about it. It was really well organized.”

Hutchins thanked local districts and schools for their quick action in December, for “being ready to receive these tests and calling back staff during this usual time of rest and rejuvenation, to serve their communities.” Schools that did not send test kits before break planned to test students as they returned to school.

Even with the development of Omicron, the State has maintained its commitment to in-person learning and according to Hutchins, MCOE has made every effort to capitalize on any opportunity the State has provided to keep students safe. She also encourages everyone to continue to use the “practices we all know by now that remain critically important when sending children to school,” including providing layers of protection such as masking, vaccinations, booster shots for those eligible, testing, and remaining home when sick to prevent further spread.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, MCOE continues to work closely with the Mendocino County Public Health Department, the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Education and the Governor's Office to provide students, staff and families the necessary resources to keep public schools as safe as possible.

Hutchins said, “We understand this is a time of uncertainty and concern. As the pandemic continues to evolve, we will continue to work through this together to keep our students, families, and staff healthy.”

Contact: (707) 467-5001 mhutchins@mcoe.us

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 4, 2022

Keyes, Martinez, Mora, Prosser

CHRISTOPHER KEYES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

OSCAR MARTINEZ, Covelo. Stolen vehicle, no license, probation revocation.

PABLO MORA, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

VENSE PROSSER, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

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APPLE IS WORTH $3 TRILLION — more than Walmart, Disney, Netflix, Nike, Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, IBM and Ford combined.

nytimes.com/2022/01/03/technology/apple-3-trillion-market-value.html

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Lumber Drying, Seattle, 1919

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

The reason freedom of speech is so important is that it allows citizens to criticize power without being drawn and quartered as was done in the past. Of course it is easy to say we have that freedom today in the U.S., except for how whistle blowers are imprisoned, and journalists like Julian Assange are slowly tortured to death for exposing our government's war crimes to a public who doesn't seem to care. Freedom must be used or it ceases to exist.

We prefer to think freedom of speech means we can humiliate and degrade people we don't even know on anti-social media because it gives us an outlet for our resentments and discontents with the world. If we practiced critical thinking about power, we would know where to direct our resentments and discontents instead of at one another or those who are even less powerful than we are. As it is, we don't even see power. It is hidden from us by our corporate media which feeds us pablum and spectacle and makes us into consumer morons instead of citizens of a democracy.

When otherwise intelligent people can believe that U.S. foreign policy is about spreading democracy and human rights around the globe, we are being treated as children who are kept in ignorance and bliss. The corporate owned media is lying by commission (Fox) and omission (MSNBC, CNN). The ruling class wants us to think we are living in the end of history, that capitalism and the market are natural and fair, and There Is No Alternative. Government is bad. Anything collective, public, or universal is totalitarianism, which is code for communism.

So where can we get good information about the world? This is where it gets tricky because all criticism of power has been censored and relegated to the margins of society. Further, all criticism of power is not true or valid. We are thrown back onto our own biases which are usually unconscious. If it comes from government, it must be wrong. On the other hand, if it comes to us clothed as "scientific" facts and data," it must be true. How to separate real science from pseudo-science.

In these uncertain times, we should all be equipped with crap detectors and not go out without them. That's where I think real discussion among peers might be useful; but alas....If it is true that as individuals we can only be as rational as consensus reality, we are in real trouble; as there doesn't seem to be consensus.

— Carol Mattessich

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PUNISHING SOLAR PEOPLE

Editor: 

PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission want to make rooftop solar unaffordable by charging new solar users fees averaging $684 per year and slashing the solar credit by 80%. They also want to reduce the number of years that existing solar users can stay on their current net metering program from 20 years to 15 years. The utilities are doing this to perpetuate a self-serving, monopolistic and outdated for-profit model. 

At the CPUC hearing, there were approximately 125 commenters. Many are owners and employees of solar installation companies. They pleaded with the CPUC to reject this proposal, as it will destroy their business and the jobs of approximately 70,000 Californians. 

It appears that the CPUC will approve this proposal, and new rates will go into effect as soon as March. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not picked a side in this battle. Yet he has the ability and responsibility to keep California’s clean, renewable energy policy on track and working in the public interest. Please express your opposition to the governor before the CPUC votes on Jan. 27. 

Joel Chaban

Gualala

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BILL KIMBERLIN: In high school we all had Zippo lighters. We also wore Levi's, which we had "pegged" at a tailor in Santa Rosa, in my case, and somewhere else for other towns, I'm guessing. Catholic schools had uniforms and traditions...these were ours. If these were the rules for the boys...what were the rules for the girls?

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ANTONIO BROWN IS A DAMNING REFLECTION OF THE NFL

by Dave Zirin

In the 1977, Paul Newman classic Slap Shot, a film about a down-and-out hockey team with a penchant for extreme violence, a player takes off all his clothes on the ice, stripping while lazily skating around. People are predictably outraged, but he is holding up a mirror to the violence of his sport and asking why his naked body is out of bounds but bludgeoning another human being is not.

An echo of this scene played out in the middle of a NFL game Sunday, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown took off his jersey, undershirt, shoulder pads, and gloves, and tossed them into the crowd before leaving the gladiatorial arena shirtless and smiling. Yet, unlike the Slap Shot scenario, Brown wasn’t trying to hold a mirror up to his sport. He is the mirror.

We don’t know what motivated his actions, but Brown and his breakdown are a brutal reflection of the league’s moral bankruptcy. It tells us that any excuse will be made for players as long as they can still contribute on the field. A player can exhibit numerous signs of psychological or medical trauma, yet that will be ignored by an army of enablers if he can help a team win. This calculation is why Brown’s volatility burst into public notice. NFL announcers scolded Brown instead of asking why he was in a uniform in the first place.

His presence on the field also speaks to what it actually takes to torpedo one’s career. Brown over the last three years has been accused of sexual assault twice, assault upon a delivery driver, and forging a vaccination card. He has spoken about his own psychological issues. Yet in the face of that, all his coach Bruce Arians would say as recently as this past week was, “I could give a [expletive] what [critics] think.… The only thing I care about is this football team and what’s best for us.” Not what’s best for Brown — what’s best for “us” and “us” is a multibillion-dollar NFL team trying to get back to the Super Bowl.

There is also room to blame all-world quarterback Tom Brady, who has now vouched for Brown on two separate organizations, even offering to let Brown live in his house so he could keep tabs on him and his behavior. Brady said after Brown’s strip-down meltdown, “I think we all want him to just — I think everybody should find, hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it. We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best, and unfortunately it won’t be with our team.”

Brady sounds compassionate, but his actions toward Brown have been geared toward getting him on a football field. It has been less about getting Brown the help he needs and more about Brady’s looking to extend his own seemingly endless career by making sure he has one of the game’s great receivers in his lineup. Also, as Adam Kilgore wrote in The Washington Post, Brady “showed little compassion and empathy toward the women who accused Brown, or the employees whom Brown stiffed, or the people whom he threatened violence against. If Brady wanted Brown to get the mental health help he needed, playing in the NFL didn’t need to be part of it. But Brown could help Brady win football games, and that took priority.”

Brown’s career, despite his being only 33, is assuredly over. All of his transgressions could be forgiven. But quitting on your team in the middle of a game? That violates the number-one rule in the minds of NFL owners as surely as taking a knee during the national anthem. What both of these disparate seemingly incomparable actions have in common is that they push back against the obedience demanded in the racialized labor discipline that franchise owners feel the need to impose on their workforce. Do what you want off the field—but, between the lines, the operative word is “control.” Brown cannot be controlled by Brady, Arians, or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. That is proving to be his greatest sin, and it will make him unemployable. The league prioritizes this discipline above all else, and Brown’s meltdown made it clear for all to see.

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1960

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HELLSTRIP PLANTING

Whether you call it a hellstrip, parking strip, verge, or tree belt, the area between the sidewalk and the street can be a gardening challenge or opportunity.

Many of us who live in the country or small towns are fortunate to have large amounts of green space to plant small gardens or flower beds. But in cities where plots of land are tiny, those choices are limited. Now, people are looking at every available space to plant.

An area of land that has recently come into consideration as a place to plant is the space between the sidewalk and the street curb. This is often called the median, boulevard, planting strip, or hellstrip. Hellstrips are great areas for plants that attract pollinators.

Hellstrip

When you are planning new plantings, there are many things to consider. A hellstrip may be subject to additional considerations. This area is usually part of the public right-of-way and subject to ordinances. You should contact your municipal office to see if there are any restrictions on plantings. These rules often deal with safety and visibility. Underground utilities or overhead wires may impose restrictions that must be part of the planning process. Homeowners' associations often require bylaw checks and approvals.

After permissions have been granted, it is time to start planning. Here's a list of things to consider. Many of these apply to any garden that is being planted.

Condition of soil—nutrients

This area has probably been planted with grass for many years. There may be trees present. It may be overrun by weeds. To truly know what is going on with your soil, you need to start with a soil fertility test. Soil tests are available through Penn State Extension. You receive results of the test and fertility recommendations for the types of plants you want to put in that area. If the soil test indicates that nutrients are lacking, follow their recommendations. Lasagna gardening is a method to help build up the soil. For details refer to this article on sheet composting and sheet mulching .

Texture of soil

The texture of the soil is important because it shows how easily the soil can be worked, the amount of water and air it can hold, and how water moves through it. Clay soil does not allow water to pass through easily and plants have a harder time establishing their root systems. Add compost to these soils. Texture ultimately gives you an indication of the soil drainage of this area. For instructions on how to test your soil texture, refer to the jar soil test activity sheet.

Sunlight availability

Plants have daily requirements for sun. Full sun is six or more hours of direct sunlight per day. Partial sun is four to six hours per day. Partial shade is two to four hours per day. Shade is less than two hours of sunlight per day. Observe the area throughout the day to determine the amount of sun and shade it receives. Choose plants that match what your area provides.

Water

It is important that you can easily and safely water the area. You should observe if water is pooling in the area during heavy rainstorms. If the area is downward sloping toward the road, you may need to consider plants that are hardy and drought-resistant.

Snow

If snow is piled onto this area during the winter, the plants you select must be salt tolerant because of the road salt content of the snow. You should also keep in mind that perennials are ideal because they are not damaged by snow pressure.

Now that you have gathered the necessary information, consider your options. Trees and shrubs may not be a good fit due to their large size. Make sure you know the plant's mature height. Select trees or shrubs that are native to the region. When height is a concern, consider shorter cultivars of native species. For example, winterberry Ilex verticillata 'Little Goblin Red' grows only 3 to 4 feet tall.

In general, the best choices for these areas will be annuals and perennials. Some of the popular full sun perennials are lavender, coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), lily, daisy, or clematis. Partial shade perennial choices could include turtlehead (Chelone spp.), astilbe, or anemone. Hosta, hellebore, lily of the valley, and bleeding heart are popular full shade perennials. Annuals that require full sun conditions include geraniums, zinnias, Rudbeckia, verbena, or marigold. Partial shade choices include alyssum, pansy, and lobelia. Many of these choices support pollinators. For a comprehensive list of pollinator plants, you can go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database. Create depth by planting shorter plants on the edges of this space and taller plants towards the middle.

Growing vegetables may be an option. Tomatoes, peppers, and Swiss chard are popular choices. Keep in mind that these plants need a more nutrient-rich soil than native plants. Also, it is best to avoid planting root crops in this area.

When all the work is done, stand back and appreciate the beauty of this hellstrip. It has turned into a beautiful area that neighbors and travelers can admire. Know that you reap other benefits from your efforts. Planting these areas helps filter and absorb rainwater, supports pollinators, increases property value, and adds wildlife habitat. With a little watering and weeding, this area will be enjoyed for many years to come.

https://bit.ly/3pKJQO2

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DON'T LOOK UP: The most vexing question is this: given the daily news-channel drumbeat of environmental/political/economic cataclysms—unprecedented wildfires, insanely anomalous temperature extremes, a shambolic supply chain, and ominous intimations of war with China and/or Russia—how could so lavish an assemblage of talent and money have yielded a film at once so toothless, overwrought, and mostly tedious compared to a classic like Dr. Strangelove? Portents of mass extinction are hardly unique to our own moment: by the early 1960s, the ever-present storm clouds of potential nuclear annihilation, coupled with a stupefied/conformist/consumerist-dazed populace at the peak of US postwar supremacy and complacency, coalesced in an American surreality begging for its Swift or Breughel. As Philip Roth wrote in 1961, “Simply this: that the American writer in the middle of the 20th century has his hands full in trying to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality. It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own meager imagination.” It was a tall order for any creative imagination, but it was filled memorably in the inspired Kubrick/Southern Cold War fever dream of Dr. Strangelove—dark and deranged and daring in ways that make Don’t Look Up seems like a therapeutic high school health-class film. 

— William Kaufman

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Woodcut by Felix Vallotton (1898)

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CALIFORNIA IMPOSES WATER RESTRICTIONS AS DROUGHT DRAGS ON 

by Kathleen Ronayne

Californians won’t be able to water their lawns for 48 hours after rainstorms or let their sprinklers run onto the sidewalk under mandatory water restrictions state regulators adopted Tuesday as a drought continues despite heavy December rain and snow.

The rules could take effect as soon as the end of the month and could result in a fine of up to $500 per day, though regulators stressed they want to encourage voluntary conservation and that it will be up to local authorities to decide on enforcement.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s action comes as Californians continue to fall short on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use compared to last year. Between July and November, the state’s water usage went down just 6%.

The new restrictions follow an extremely wet December that state officials warned may not continue during the winter months that normally are the state’s wettest. Weather patterns have become more unpredictable due to climate change and state climatologist Michael Anderson said forecasts show January, February and March could be drier than average.

Earlier forecasts didn’t predict such a wet December, which saw record amounts of rain and snow in many areas. In mid-December, about 80% of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions. By the end of the month only about a third was experiencing those conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor that tabulates conditions.

How much have winter rains added to key North Bay reservoirs?

Despite the rain, significant parts of the state’s water system are still under stress from the extremely dry conditions earlier in 2021 that dropped many of California's largest reservoirs to record and near-record lows.

“Conserving water and reducing water waste are critical and necessary habits for everyone to adopt as we adjust to these uncertainties and we build resilience to climate change, so adopting emergency regulations now just makes sense,” said Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director for the state water board. “We need to be prepared for continued drought.”

Northern California was wetter than Southern California in November and conserved significantly more water.

Regions north of the San Joaquin River, including Sacramento and San Francisco, used between 17% and 26% less water than November 2020, while Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties that account for 55% of the state’s population used nearly 1% more, according to state data.

Among the water uses that won’t be allowed under the new rules: outdoor watering that results in excessive runoff into the street and sidewalks; using water for landscaping and irrigation during the 48 hours after storms that bring at least .25 inches (.63 centimeters) of rain; washing cars with hoses lacking shut-off nozzles; using potable water to wash driveways, sidewalks, buildings and patios and for street cleaning or to fill decorative fountains or lakes.

There are some exceptions. For example, trees in street medians can be watered, while turf cannot. The rules take effect once an administrative review is completed.

The state adopted similar restrictions during the five-year drought that ended in 2017, and some cities and local water districts made them permanent. State water board officials were unable to say how many of California’s nearly 40 million people are under such rules or exactly how much water they expect to save.

(AP)


RAIN, YES. BUT NO, CALIFORNIA’S DROUGHT ISN’T OVER. HERE’S WHY.

In a clear sign that the drought persists, California today adopted new emergency regulations aimed at stopping residents from wasting the state’s precious water.

The rules ban practices such as hosing down sidewalks and driveways with drinking water, washing cars without a shutoff nozzle on the hose and irrigating lawns and gardens too soon after rain.

Approved unanimously by the State Water Resources Control Board, the mandates could take effect as soon as Jan. 15 and have a one-year expiration date unless extended. Fines can reach as high as $500, but enforcement will be spotty: Local governments and water agencies are allowed to enforce them at their discretion, and they will largely be complaint-based.

“There’s not going to be like a statewide force of water cops or anything like that,” said Eric Oppenheimer, the water board’s chief deputy director.

California’s drought is not over despite a bounty of snowfall and rain over the past month: California’s snowpack — a critical source of water — is 150% of average for Jan. 4. But with three months left of the wet season, it’s not enough to bring an end to the severe drought and water shortages.

California still needs about another foot of snowpack by the end of March to reach its historic seasonal average, according to the state data. Almost 16 inches had accumulated by today.

“December alone will not end the drought, clearly,” said Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager for the Department of Water Resources. “December was wonderful, but now we just hope it keeps on going.”

(CalMatters.org)

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HEROES AND PATRIOTS RADIO returns to KMUD, Thursday, January 6, at 9 am, Pacific Time, with guests, Marlon Ettinger and Catherine Watters, and cohosts, John Sakowicz and Mary Massey. 

We'll talk about, "The Ghislaine Maxwell Conviction". 

Background:

Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Chris Hedges writes: “The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell … will not hold to account the powerful and wealthy men who are also complicit in the sexual assaults of girls as young as twelve Maxwell allegedly procured for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. 

“Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, former Secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard Larry Summers, Stephen Pinker, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, billionaire Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner, the, J.P Morgan banker Jes Staley, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack, real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman, former Maine senator George Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein and many others who were at least present and most likely participated in Epstein’s perpetual Bacchanalia, are not in court. … Epstein’s death in a New York jail cell, while officially ruled a suicide, is in the eyes of many credible investigators a murder.”  

“It’s not an accident that a woman is getting charged while all of these men are not. Part of the dynamic here is how prostitution has become normalized in our society. This case also reveals a tremendous level of corruption and anti-democratic functioning at work.” 

He notes the lack of serious investigation of Epstein’s death. See BBC report from 2020: “Jeffrey Epstein: Jail CCTV erased by ‘technical errors.'” 

The Miami Herald is reporting: “Key accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell did not testify in Maxwell's trial.” 

“Virginia Roberts Giuffre — who had previously cast Maxwell as a central player in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation — didn't testify, even though she has been mentioned by witnesses and prosecutors almost daily during the trial: as a minor who visited Epstein’s homes multiple times; as a girl who had sex with Epstein; as a victim who was allegedly recruited by Maxwell; and as a teenager who flew on Epstein’s private plane, often with Maxwell — a total of 32 times.” 

“Her absence in the room was striking, considering that there is physical evidence that appears to support her story of sexual abuse: photographs of her with Maxwell and Prince Andrew and of her at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, pictures of her with Epstein and Maxwell at a birthday party aboard a yacht where she looks barely out of childhood.” 

For more, see the reporting by investigative reporter Whitney Webb. In 2020, she noted: “The fact the FBI won’t even touch or question Les Wexner (‘head of the snake’ of the whole op) tells you that any effort to go after Ghislaine is superficial.” 

In her piece, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case,” Webb reports that “Alex Acosta — who arranged Epstein’s ‘sweetheart’ deal in 2008 and resigned as Donald Trump’s labor secretary following Epstein’s arrest — claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for ‘intelligence.’” 

Webb also wrote about Maxwell’s father, Robert, who worked with the Mossad “according to several books including Seymour Hersh’s The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy.” She adds: “In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, [whom] ‘the service maintained for blackmail purposes.’” [See Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas.

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15 Comments

  1. Kirk Vodopals January 5, 2022

    A perspective:

    Covid’s over…. Someone tell Bongino and the gang

    Fauci conceded to less strict measures for the sake of the economy and admitted to inflated covid hospitalizations…

    The cat’s out of the bag…

    The mRNA scientist Dr Malone who is against the vaccine but took the vaccine and blames his health problems on the vaccine is off Twitter and YouTube but all over Rogan and Fox News…

    Everyone knows that Omicron is highly contagious but not highly dangerous…

    Everyone knows that Trump and Bongino want to support your right to not vaccinate but that they got vaccinated and Trump wants all the credit for Operation Warp Speed and the fact that the vaccine astronomically reduces your chances of hospitalization…

    Maybe now we can go back to the good old days of arguing about Mooslims and Jewish space lasers…

    • Marmon January 5, 2022

      Being hospitalized with covid is not the same as being hospitalized because of covid. The same can be said about deaths. The CDC is a joke and has mishandled their response to this outbreak from the begining. The numbers are all over the place.

      Marmon

      • Marmon January 5, 2022

        LA County hospitals seeing increase in COVID patients, but most not initially admitted for virus

        Nearly 2,300 people are hospitalized in L.A. County “with COVID.” But an eye-opening new report suggests that two-thirds were actually admitted to local hospitals for other non-COVID medical emergencies. Many not realizing they were COVID positive. Eyewitness News reporter John Gregory breaks down what the numbers say about the variant and vaccinations. This morning at 6 from ABC7.

        https://bit.ly/3pUGjgc

        Marmon

  2. Harvey Reading January 5, 2022

    “We are looking to expand our team…”

    Enough of this “team” nonsense. It’s nothing but kaputalist hokum to make low-paid slaves think that management honors them and their ideas–in lieu of a living wage and benefits.

  3. Cotdbigun January 5, 2022

    Dear Editor,
    Dan Bongino is a fascist gasbag and Senator Crenshaw is cuckoo ? Holy smokes batman, you and I would definitely be drifting apart after all these years, were I to still take you serious. .Jerry Philbricks passing left a void for polarizing and at times silly comments that is now being filled very nicely, certainly entertaining in it’s irreverent way.
    Right up there with the hairy oummm begar. This quirkiness has always had a certain charm with the mighty AVA. Keep up the good work and happy new year.
    PS Having more than one or two dominant social media sites is kind of like having more than one or two dominant newspapers, it’s ok

  4. John Scharffenberger January 5, 2022

    Chief Davila makes a serious point about fire in mature Redwood Groves. The buildup of understory vegetation puts them seriously at risk. Redwood forest evolution involved several forces reducing this vegetation and preventing catastrophic fire. The presence of megafauna in our forests is just being understood. The population of forest elephants, bison, giant elk, and tree sloths both macerated and consumed the understory of our forests. The continuing use of fire by pre-European peoples continued to produce the open and relatively fire safe conditions in old growth redwood forests that we now appreciate. Ladder fuel removal and mechanical mastication could duplicate this fire-safe forest condition. The PGE proposals for Faulkner are flawed and will just make destructive fire more likely.

  5. Stephen Rosenthal January 5, 2022

    “This current Board is short on experience, short on consistency and short on transparency.”

    And, with the exception of Haschek, absent of scruples or any evidence of brain cells.

  6. Cotdbigun January 5, 2022

    As the ratings tank, the tune changes! I agree to get back to Russiagate..
    Joe Rogan. 11 million viewers
    CNN. 800 000

    More Russian spy stuff and ” Hillary’s Cleaning Company ” will wipe those negative reviews/views right off. Schumer, Pelosi and the Waddler is what’s needed. Go Dems Go

  7. Eric Sunswheat January 5, 2022

    RE: …momentary hope that the chambers were at long last to be opened as a focal point for Public Comment during the Supes meetings.

    ->. Speaking of light and health, and governmental meetings inspirational decision consensus problem solving, in terms of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Mendocino Board of Supervisors Chambers was arguably designed to burden involvement, for all but the most focused vested puppeteers of private interests.

    Perhaps a far flung idea, is to place two translucent half domes, supported by an arch over the Supervisor’s Administration Building courtyard area, with the south facing half shell retractable under the other, sort of a take off on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors chambers.

    Cost a small fortune you say, what with future pension obligations, long term County building maintenance upgrades on the horizon, and dwindling discretionary County line staff support, a house of cards looms over the General Fund lion share.

    Reducing the sheer waste of County contract dollars and continued poor decision future ongoing financial obligations, makes the cost of the courtyard meeting hall half domes potentially almost insignificant in terms of the curve of history.

    Admittedly, this would be short term much more expensive than the honorable but willy nilly, three marble boulder monuments just approved for the Sheriffs Office without a source of funding to place onsite.

    If anyone thinks much of the body public will vote to re-authorize an expiring 10 year sales tax surcharge to support without hesitation, the County libraries and perhaps the museum, think again.

    Until the retractable greenhouse cover is built, if it’s fresh air and not raining, bring your lawn chairs but not a picket sign stake, also sunglasses, hat and extra layer of clothing. Let’s get the Supervisors outdoor meeting party started. Think San Diego.

    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/dec/09/im-overwhelmed-balkrishna-doshi-indias-most-celebrated-living-architect-wins-top-uk-honour

  8. Jim Armstrong January 5, 2022

    Just when you think that lawyers might not be so bad after all and not deserve the opprobrium heaped on them, along comes one like Goodtimes Todd of the Potomac Group and you know it is OK.
    Maybe Jim Luther will un-retire and help thump him on Fort Bragg’s behalf.

  9. Annemarie Weibel January 5, 2022

    NEW BOARD, SAME AS THE OLD BOARD
    I support the AVA News Service’s view of yesterday’s BOS meeting.

    Wanting to talk under public expression on a non agenda item I was wondering why this was not possible as scheduled at the beginning of the meeting (#3). I sent an e-mail to my Supervisor (current chair) and the County thinking I missed my opportunity to speak and asking why no public comments were possible on non agenda items during item #3.
    I received the answer that: “public expression is for items not on the agenda. For items on the agenda, comment is grouped under the associated item.”
    I knew that. I then sent an e-mail to my Supervisor (current chair) and the County explaining the following:
    It seems hard for the public to keep track when it is not mentioned why an item that is listed under item #3 is heard after item #5a and #5b.
    I understand that item #5a had to happen first in order to establish who will be chair & vice chair. Item #5b ended up being a lengthy presentation before item #3 public comments on non agenda items was addressed.
    It helps the public to know that certain item #’s are not skipped, but will be addressed later on and in what order.
    I have observed lately that certain item #’s are heard sometimes after lunch and the public has no idea when lunch will be over/closed session will be over and is stuck on zoom or has to watch the video until a certain item will be addressed and might miss their chance to speak.
    I know that people can send comments in writing and also record them.
    I appreciate if you as the new board chair during these virtual meetings can clarify things as much as possible for the public.

    I was also interested in another issue, the BOS calendar for this year listed as item #5c. I had to listen to item #6a & #6b and wait until the Board jumped back to item #4 (the Consent Calendar). The Consent Calendar is considered routine and non-controversial and is acted upon by the Board at one time without discussion. Any Board member may request that any item be removed from the Consent Calendar for individual consideration. The BOS then addressed item #5c Adoption of the 2022 Meeting Calendar. By that time it was 10:40pm. The BOS regular meetings always start at 9am.

    I am concerned that during these virtual meetings different entities come up with different regulations like the Humboldt County Supervisors are considering: Limit all public comment to 2 minutes, move “Public Comment on Non Agenda Items” to the end of the agenda just before “Closed Sessions”, and possibly limiting the number of agenda items that are time-set.

    Do to community pressure the Fort Bragg City Council had to change their practice to address consent calendar items at the end of the agenda before closed sessions to the beginning. That happened before virtual meetings.

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