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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan. 7, 2022

Showers | 142 New Cases | Another Death | Mendo Vaxxed | Health Order | Mendocino 1865 | Student Testing | Camp 7 | Shields Observations | Begats | Curry Interview | Cleone Mill | Gathering Isms | Future Reduced | Deputy Day | Ma Beelzebub | Legal Mess | Friar Blanderfield | Skunk Takings | Jerry Quiet | Disappearing LCW | Mae Lyons | Ukiah Housing | Time Passing | Wastewater Gig | Ghost Storefront | Second Saturday | Yesterday's Catch | Esther Mocktails | Civil Warriors | Marin Rioter | Velvet Ropes | Sites Reservoir | Fiddle Busking | Near Dresden | 1,000 Times

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LIGHT SHOWERS will be possible through this afternoon in the wake of a passing cold front. Gusty south winds will also accompany the frontal passage, and periods of snow will be possible across the mountains of Trinity County. Otherwise, drier weather is expected this weekend, followed by another chance of rain on Monday. (NWS)

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142 NEW COVID CASES (since Tuesday) and one more death reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.

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MENDO COVID DEATH #106

A Mendocino County resident recently passed away with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with their family and friends. 

Death #106: 86 year-old woman from the Ukiah area; unvaccinated. 

Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to think about the ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19. 

Fully vaccinated people over age 18 should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster to improve immunity. If you have questions about boosters or vaccines in general, speak with your doctor, or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19 

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Vax Rates, as of Thursday, January 6, 2022

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UPDATED HEALTH ORDER FOR ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE PROCEDURES

Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren issued an updated Health Order effective immediately. The Order updates COVID-19 isolation and quarantine procedures in the county. Positive cases and close contacts may now end their isolation or quarantine after 5 days with a negative antigen test, provided they no longer have symptoms and wear a surgical grade mask for the remainder of the 5 days. In addition, a person is now considered to have a “Current COVID-19 Vaccine” only if they have received all boosters for which they are eligible. 

“Omicron’s increased contagion makes boosters essential for a high level of protection from illness, hospitalization and death,” explained Dr. Coren. 

The Omicron variant is two to four times more infectious than the Delta variant. Evidence shows that individuals who have received a booster increase their protective immunity against COVID-19, as the effectiveness of the original vaccine is waning over time. Updating the definition of what it means to have a “Current COVID-19 Vaccine” in the context of isolation and quarantine will reduce community spread, severe cases, and hospitalizations. 

The changes to the Health Order do not affect who needs to self-isolate with COVID-19. All positive cases must isolate for 10 days, or 5 days with a negative antigen test. The Order does change which close contacts need to quarantine, as only those with a “Current COVID-19 Vaccine” do not need to quarantine for 10 days. 

To read the full Health Order, please visit the Mendocino County Public Health webpage. 

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Mendocino Main Street, 1865

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AV SCHOOL COVID TESTING: Free Rapid Tests For Students And Staff Available For Pickup To Be Used Before Return To School While Supplies Last

Dear Anderson Valley Community,

We have been able to obtain individual rapid tests for all registered students. This is in addition to our scheduled pool testing on Monday and Wednesday of next week. Families of students may pick up a test for their student at the following times and location. It is recommended that your student test Sunday evening or Monday morning before school. Please remember if your student is exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms to keep them home. If they have a positive test, please contact the school office.

Friday: Between 8-11 at the district office. Please do not come in, just drive up and honk at someone will bring a test out to you. Saturday: Jr./Sr. High School 10-12 at the office Sunday: Elementary School 10-12 at the office.

We also have pooled testing scheduled, which is PCR, on Monday and Wednesday with follow up testing as needed.

Take care,

Louise Simson

Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District

Cell: 707-684-1017

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Camp 7, Union Lumber

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CALFIRE SAYS PG&E CAUSED DIXIE FIRE; Library Tax Petition To Be Circulated

by Jim Shields

Our wet winter continues, which is all good news.

This week, Monday and Tuesday brought us a combined 1.56 inches of rain, raising our year-to-date total to 36.26 inches of precipitation. Historical rainfall average for Jan. 4 is 28.67 inches, so we’re 7.59 inches above that.

Historical annual rainfall for the Laytonville area is around 67 inches, so our current 36.26 inches is more than half of that total, and we have 3 more months where historically rain falls in double digits.

By the way, it’s time for the U.S. Drought Monitor to change its rating of Mendocino County’s drought designation from “Severe Drought” to “Moderate Drought.” The Drought Monitor rating for Los Angeles County is Moderate presumably based on LA’s year-to-date total rainfall of 8.84 inches compared to a historical annual average of 3.69 inches, which is 5.15 inches above normal. Mendo County has had 4-times as much rain to-date. I realize this data is highly relative to geographical locations, water sources and supplies, etc., but the Drought Monitor should update drought ratings so they remain a bit more accurate.

Library Tax Petition 

Mendocino County library supporters informed me this week of their intention to circulate petitions to place a tax measure on the November 2022 ballot that would add a one-quarter cent (0.25%) sales tax to fund libraries in Mendocino County. Nearly every town in this county has a “Friends of the Library” group that work, organize and fund-raise to establish brick-and-mortar libraries throughout the county. My daughter is a founding member of the Laytonville library group.

I’ll be supporting the effort to get their measure on the ballot.

Here’s a summary of the petition they will be circulating, it’s self-explanatory:

Notice is hereby given by the persons whose names appear hereon of their intention to circulate a citizen’s petition within the County of Mendocino for the purpose of placing on the November 2022 ballot a proposal for amending the current sales tax for the sole benefit of the Mendocino County Library District. A statement of the reasons of the proposed action as contemplated in the petition is as follows: 

The passage of Measure A in November 2011, with over 75% of voters saying Yes, brought about a renewal of the Mendocino County Library system. Measure A currently provides over half of total library funding and the County contributes nothing from its General Funds. Increasingly, however, the need to fund improvements for buildings and equipment threatens the financial health of the Library. We want to build on the success of Measure A by ending the existing sunset provision and increasing the tax in order to provide stable and secure funding for needed capital investment. 40% of total sales tax revenue will go to new capital improvements. When passed, the current sales tax would increase from 1/8 of one percent to 1⁄4 of one percent. 

These funds will be for the libraries only, and cannot be used by any other County department or for any other County function.

County Counsel has specified the ballot title as follows: 

An Initiative to Add a One-Quarter Cent (0.25%) Sales Tax to Fund Libraries in Mendocino County 

County Counsel has determined that the stated purpose of the initiative is as follows: 

1. To impose a permanent one-quarter cent (0.25%) sales tax for the specific purpose of maintaining and improving library services in Mendocino County; and 

2. To create a special fund for these tax proceeds to be used exclusively for maintaining and improving library services. At least forty percent (40%) are reserved for capital investments, such as building improvements. 

Cal Fire Says PG&E Caused Dixie Fire

Cal Fire investigators determined this Tuesday, Jan. 4, the cause of the Dixie Fire that burned more than 963,000 acres last year.

Officials say the fire was caused by a tree making contact with PG&E power lines near Cresta Dam. 

The investigative report has been sent to the county’s District Attorney’s office. 

The Dixie Fire started on July 13 and burned in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties.

Altogether 963,309 acres were burned, 1,329 structures were destroyed, and 95 structures were damaged. 

This is just the latest in a series of devastating wildfires caused by the utility’s equipment

The Dixie Fire started on July 13, 2021, and grew to the second-largest fire in state history, burning over 960,000 acres and destroying over 1,300 structures. It decimated the rural town of Greenville and damaged other communities in Plumas, Butte, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama counties. It was the first known fire to burn clear across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, followed later in the year by the Caldor Fire. 

The fire caused severe damage to forestland and forced thousands of people to evacuate. 

Cal Fire’s investigative finding was not unexpected because in July, PG&E reported to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that its equipment may have caused the Dixie Fire. One of the utility’s employees responded to a power outage reported at Cresta Dam and found blown fuses and a tree leaning into PG&E equipment, with fire burning at the tree’s base. At the time, Cal Fire investigators took several pieces of PG&E equipment. 

Last year, Cal Fire investigators concluded the utility started the Zogg Fire, which burned 56,000 acres and killed four people. The Shasta County District Attorney’s Office charged the utility with manslaughter and other crimes in September. 

In 2018, PG&E’s equipment started the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County. The fire leveled the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. At trial, PG&E pled guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter.

It was also in 2018 when PG&E sought bankruptcy protection as it faced tens of billions of dollars in potential liability for wildfires it caused.

As I’ve pointed in previous columns, many survivors of wildfires caused by PG&E have been given the runaround by the electrical giant, while the state Legislature and CPUC sat mostly silent.

Last April, the CPUC ordered “enhanced oversight” on PG&E after the company failed to remove and trim trees from its most at-risk power lines. But as I’ve reported for years, the CPUC has mostly failed in its primary responsibility to regulate PG&E. For example, the Commission for nearly a decade granted extension after extension to PG&E allowing it to defer mandatory maintenance by removing and trimming trees and vegetation growing too close to its overhead infrastructure.

AT&T, Verizon Moving Forward With 5G Plans, Thumbs Noses At Feds

As a former airline employee and labor leader, I can tell you that two cellular corporations need to be brought to heel immediately.

AT&T and Verizon are moving forward with their 5G expansion plans — despite a request from the U.S. government to delay the project.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) want the rollout delayed, concerned about possible impacts on airplane and airport controls.

But the companies have refused, claiming that 5G technology is “every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry.”

“France provides a real-world example of an operating environment where 5G and aviation safety already co-exist,” the CEOs wrote. “If US airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”

Who gives a damn what the French allow?

These two mega-corporations act as if they are beyond the reach of the U.S. government.

The FAA and DOT, when it comes to airline safety issues, have a long record of mostly looking out for the interests of the public. In this case, the feds are concerned about 5G interfering with airplane instrumentation and avionics, not exactly minor concerns. For example, avionics includes such things as communication systems, navigation systems, aircraft flight-control systems, fuel systems, collision-avoidance systems, flight recorders, and weather systems

Both agencies should immediately change their “request” to an order.

We cannot allow these global market conglomerates to ignore if not usurp federal jurisdiction over their operations.

Tweety Musk

Just think, Time Magazine, for some inexplicable reason, named Elon Musk as their “Person of the Year.” So Musk went to his Twitter Machine and fired off a couple of salvos to a pair of U.S. Senators who had the temerity to suggest that Musk wasn’t paying his fair share, if any, of taxes.

He wasn’t about to leave that kind of effrontery unchallenged.

So what was The Person of the Year’s response when Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said he should “actually pay taxes.”

Musk Tweeted, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason. So please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen.” 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted a general theme he’s long held, arguing that the “extremely wealthy pay their fair share.” Musk tweeted back, “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”

I have to admit, I get a kick out of Musk, the guy does have a sense of humor, and he’s a hell of lot more interesting than others of his Masters of the Universe ilk.

But he’s also an obnoxious, bloviating prick whose loyalty lies not with the Good Ol’ USA but with the borderless Bad Ol’ Global Village where One-Percenters thrive. 

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, observer@pacific.net, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)

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MENDO’S FORMER AG COMMISSIONER DIANE CURRY DESCRIBES HER RUDE DEPARTURE

Former “Interim” Mendo Ag Commissioner Diane Curry’s interview with KZYX’s Sarah Reith in late March of 2018 soon after she was forcibly retired escaped our attention. Ms. Curry’s description of the circumstances of her departure is an example of the kind of conduct CEO Angelo applies to people who have annoyed her. The rude treatment accorded Curry was uncalled for and contrary to the best interests of Mendocino County. 

Given what we know about the abrupt departures of several other senior county officials, Ms. Curry arbitrary departure was also suffered by other senior Mendo officials: Alan Flora, Barbara Howe, Harindar Grewal, Sarah Duckett, Heidi Dunham, Brent Schultz, William Schurtz, and others.

From Ms. Reith's interview with Curry: “I was expecting to be called into closed session [on March 13, 2018] and I was ready to go into closed session with the board because I was told they were going to be appointing an Agricultural Commissioner. For me, that didn't happen. I was never called into closed session. I was called to the Human Resources Department and told that I was not going to be appointed. They were going to continue to recruit for an Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights and Measures. I didn't realize that at that time they had told me that I would have to move my personal office from the Ag Commissioners building, the Department of Agriculture, and be housed under the Executive Office. That is across the way. I asked how I was going to actually direct my staff and supervise my staff if I was in another building. I asked why I was being asked to move. Basically I was told that that was discussed in closed session and I couldn't know that. So I left Human Resources and went back to my office and had an epiphany and a breakdown. I told myself this was ridiculous, I can't do it. So I called back and told them I was going to retire. Later that day I was asked to show up to the Human Resources Department at five minutes before five o'clock. At that time I was told that I would be allowed to retire but I would put on administrative leave until the end of the pay period. I was promptly marched over to my office with an HR representative with me and told that I would have 10 minutes to get my personal belongings. Then I was marched out of the building and put into my car and sent on my way. I was basically told: Don't contact staff, don't come into the office, don't do anything with the department. That was not my intent. I intended to stay and get things together, get work plans wrapped up, toss the baton to staff so they would have the transition from me being there to basically supervising themselves. It was not what I intended. The board never spoke to me; they never offered me an explanation. They said they were restructuring the department. It was not a good situation. I didn't even get to say goodbye to my staff. Most retirees get a party. I got nothing. It was like, Whoa! It was not good. I really felt bad for staff. It was never my intent to leave them hanging like that. I was in the middle of doing some work plans for detection and trapping and getting crop reports set up. Basically I was told to just leave all that and get my things and leave.”

Full Interview: kzyx.org/post/kzyx-special-mendocino-ex-interim-ag-chief-diane-curry-recounts-her-hasty-departure#stream/0

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RESPONDING to one of our previous cannabis program reports in January of 2019, Ms. Curry commented on the AVA’s Website:

“I don’t understand why the Board of Supervisors keeps asking the same old question about speeding up the cannabis permitting process. If the Board members would take the opportunity to read the state laws regarding cannabis permitting, they would understand that the process is complicated. Unfortunately, the cultivators in resource lands are required to comply with Fish and Wildlife requirements, which can cost many thousands of dollars, not to mention that Fish and Wildlife has specific rules just for cannabis production.

“When the State representatives proposed legislation for cannabis, they didn’t bring all the agencies together and come up with a complete well thought out plan.

“As for the late crop reports: When I took the Interim Agricultural Commissioner position, I had no idea that my work life and personal life would be consumed by cannabis. The CEO’s office was micromanaging my department, because Ms. Angelo ‘is an all knowing magical being from another planet, able to run the county all by herself.’ It was a total train wreck. The crop report is about agriculture in the county and according to the State cannabis rules, cannabis is not agriculture. The California State Department of Agriculture dictates what is allowed to be reported in the crop report and as of now cannabis is still not allowed to be reported. That doesn’t mean that the counties couldn’t produce a separate report, but getting accurate data will be a challenge.

“The Department of Agriculture is still suffering the effects of executive office micro managing. What used to be a warm and welcoming office has now become a cold bureaucratic institution, with no laughing, singing, or whistling allowed. Asking why is not allowed, either.

“One last comment. I was not fired from the county, but forcefully shoved into retirement.”

(Mark Scaramella)

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Cleone Mill, now MacKerricher Park, 1888

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ALICE WALKER’S SECRET MENDO LIFE

by Jonah Raskin

She’s the most famous Mendocino writer and she has lived under the radar in Mendo for the past thirty or so years. Her name is Alice Walker, and if it rings a bell it’s probably because you read her novel, The Color Purple, or saw the movie that was inspired by it. Walker writes a lot about her life in Mendo in her new book, titled Gathering Blossoms Under Fire. It contains excerpts from her journals. It’s volume one. A reader can learn a great deal about Walker’s private life, but very little about Mendocino. Apparently, she hasn’t mixed much with locals or explored widely in the county, though she does say that she has blended in with the hippies in the hills. 

Walker calls her property, “Wild Trees,” and her home, “Temple Jook.” She takes hot tubs, meditates, makes compost, entertains visitors, including her lovers, and psychoanalyzes herself repeatedly. “Why do I keep trying to figure out what’s wrong with me?,” she asks at one point. At another she says, “I want to do good in the world.” To that end she gives money away, though that doesn’t seem to make her happy or lead to enlightenment. She is also in therapy much of the time. That doesn’t seem to help either. 

I have read all 528 pages of Gathering Blossoms and have taken copious notes. I’ve wondered, “What if anything is wrong with Alice Walker?” I’d say that she takes herself far too seriously. I’d say that she’s addicted to writing, to publishing and to fame, the disease that afflicts Americans probably more than any group of people in the world. Walker describes “Wild Trees” as a “retreat,” but she doesn’t seem to retreat from much of anything at her retreat. Indeed, she brings all her real world issues and problems home with her after going on book tours and making speeches in public. Give it a rest. Put up a sign that says, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” 

AVA subscribers, should you read this book? Yes, if you like hearing gossip about famous and near-famous people like singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman and MS magazine’s Gloria Steinem, then by all means read Gathering Blossoms. Indulge the voyeur in yourself. But if you want to understand the isms — sexism, racism, classism, ageism and imperialism — that preoccupy Walker you’d probably be better off going to the public library and asking a librarian to recommend the classics on those subjects. 

Oh, Alice, I feel your pain. I wish I could help. But you’re the only person who can heal the wounds you have inflicted on yourself and that others have inflicted on yourself. About half way through your book you say that Africans will need to “stop hurting themselves.” The same applies to you, Alice. Practice what you preach. Listen to yourself as when you say, “I want a year not being Alice Walker.” 

Bingo.

(Jonah Raskin is the author of Beat Blues, San Francisco, 1955, a novel.)

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NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT APPRECIATION DAY

Editor,

I wanted to reach out to our residents and let them know, this Sunday, January 9th is National Law Enforcement appreciation day.

Across the nation on January 9th, citizens take the lead to show support on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. 

Law Enforcement Officers of every rank have chosen a profession that puts their life on the line every day for their communities. 

These folks have chosen to serve the public and take on a profession that is demanding and often unappreciated.

Recently, our people continued to serve and work through the holidays. 

This includes our Deputies on patrol and in the jail as well as our dispatchers. 

Our deputies have duties which demand dedication. The jobs are often dangerous, thankless and take them away from their families for long hours. Rarely do they know what their days have in store for them when they arrive at work. 

Although this is often a tough job, I simply don’t hear complaints from my personnel. I truly believe this is because of the constant support they receive from our communities. Most people realize these are our sons and daughters. 

I wanted to thank our communities for the calls, emails and letters of support we received throughout this year and especially over the holiday season. 

In Mendocino County we have the honor of being treated with respect and thanks on a daily basis. This is humbling to me as the Sheriff, and greatly appreciated by those who serve their neighbors. For that I thank you. 

As we move into 2022 I hope we can all take some time to appreciate all of the things that are going well in Mendocino County and to appreciate the blessings we receive on a daily basis. 

Mendocino Sheriff Matt Kendall

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #1

Re Sheriff's Dispute With The Supervisors: 

Cripe… Where do you even start on this one, period. Typical Mendocino County Legal theatrics. Mendocino County’s court system is beyond Dysfunction Junction. It’s embarrassing the attorneys in Mendocino, many of them have only practiced in Mendoland. Honestly, they run up their charges frequently at $300 or more an hour. They think they’re funny and cute laughing behind the clients backs. Laughing about how stupid and ridiculous they are all the way to the bank. Dragging out litigations forever. Simple cases run into YEARS with $70,000 $80,000 lawyer bills. Public defense you get nothing at all. Poor rulings, poor interpretation of law, no justice and liberty in Mendocino except in the bank accounts of our local band of LEGAL MARAUDERS. Shameful and disgusting. Lady justice is blind and deaf here. Then there’s the tendency of the deputies while they’re out in the field to tell people that problems would be a civil matter, we can’t do anything, you’re going to have to go to court, and no one wins. The situation never if ever gets resolved. How many have died from that mindset and it’s PERFECTLY FINE. Deputies or Law Enforcement Officers making legal decisions in the feild… No courts needed! Massive list of open legal cases against Mendocino County includes many higher and lower level employees. Hundreds of them. Yet they changed full public access to the PUBLIC list, now you have to look one by one and list the name to see the list of cases. Hidden rulings out of courtroom laid out in the courtroom to STUNNED litigants. Often hear…”Didn’t the judge hear anything, how could this be?” Then oftentimes even after litigation they still wind up in front of the Board of Supervisors to make a decision which I’m not sure how many of the Board of Supervisors are lawyers, but what is the point of that? Lawyers from outside the area when they have to deal with Mendocino County Court or lawyers cannot understand how this is happening up here and none of it is questioned? Law is not followed. Yet, it’s like a Children of the Corn theme and none of the problems escape to be dealt with.

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Friar Blanderfield, Greenwood, 1915

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THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG DEALT WITH THE DEVIL AND NOW THE DEVIL WANTS ITS DUE? Eminent Domain Used As A Corporate Tool Of Land Acquisition.

by Bruce Broderick

Remember this date. June 6, 2021. On that day, was the first time in the history of our little town that a private corporation, Mendocino Railway, AKA The Hart Brothers, successfully took a residential property using the Eminent Domain process. It is very probable that this foothold gave the Hart’s the confidence to attempt a larger, more consequential acquisition.

The property I am talking about is at 476 Alger St. Alger is a short street running North-South at the end of East Laurel St. just before Otis Johnson Park. Alger St. sits behind the Fort Bragg Middle School’s playing field, which in turn is behind the Senior Center. On Alger St. itself, from South to North, sits the Fort Bragg School District bus maintenance yard, The Krenov School of Fine Furniture, Pacific Textile Arts, a single family residence and a multi family residence. 476 Alger is the property at the North end of the street. It is .95 acre in size. It’s a quiet well established area with the exception of course, of the occasional student baseball, football or soccer game. Otis Johnson Park is a city owned 7 acre park that sits at the end of East Laurel St. All of the properties have one thing in common. They all overlook Pudding Creek and the back and forth tourist train that runs several times a day.

On June 6, 2021, the vacant property at 476 Alger Street was taken by the Hart Brothers in an uncontested Eminent Domain suit against the elderly owner of the property with the daughter signing the documents under a Power of Attorney. This ‘Taking’ as it is referred to in legal circles was done with no public announcement or notification of any kind. And, the City of Fort Bragg knew about it as I will demonstrate in a moment.

It is known that the property at 476 Alger St. had become a troublesome drug house and frequently visited by the Fort Bragg Police. It is also known that there was a fire at this address which resulted in the home partially burning.

It is clear from internal documents acquired from the City of Fort Bragg that at least some of the city staff knew that Mendocino Railway was acquiring the property. It was also clear to some of the city staff that Mendocino Railway was acquiring the property through Eminent Domain and some of the city staff were supportive of the process, even though the acquisition wasn’t specifically for railroad use as required in the Court ruling and California Law. It’s possible that the city staff didn’t have the necessary knowledge to understand what the Harts were doing, nonetheless, the City was complicit in this corporate based land grab that took a local resident’s property in a less than transparent and quite probably an illegal manner.

The Eminent Domain Judgment that was issued against the owner of 476 Alger St. on June 6, 2021 is notable as it gives the stated land use purpose as well as the acquisition price of $150,000.00 for the acre of developed and forested land with a partially burned structure. The railway’s purpose for acquiring the property via Eminent Domain as stated in the court document says, and I quote: “…that the Mendocino Railway’s acquisition of the Subject Property is necessary for maintenance and safety of its railroad operations adjacent to the Subject Property (“Project”), a public use.”.

There were several things that obviously weren’t known by the Court during this procedure:

1. Mendocino Railway had no adjacent property to the 476 Alger St. property at the time this Eminent Domain was granted to them. Mendocino Railway didn’t acquire interest in an adjacent property until they acquired the 70+ acres of Pudding Creek watershed property in the subsequent Eminent Domain “Taking” this last fall on Nov 17, 2021.

2. Mendocino Railway had no intention of using the taken property for “the maintenance and safety of its railroad operations”. This censored excerpt of an internal email between City employees on Oct. 20, 2020, discussing the situation tells the true story.

”I spoke with ******* the daughter of ********* who owns 476 Alger. ******* states that she has been working with Mike Hart on a process known as eminent domain. ***** states that Mike told her that her mother would receive some compensation for the land that would go towards her medical care. ****** also informed me of the Skunk’s intentions to develop a privately owned day camp on the property where people will pay to picnic, hike and explore the natural habitat…”.

This single email excerpt between city employees shows the Hart’s true intent with the property. This is one of maybe 50 internal documents I have acquired through the public access portal. It’s messy.

The Real Issues!!!

The real issues here are:

1. What is to become of the quiet neighborhood that has been enjoyed by residents for many, many years? With tourist traffic on the western horizon coming to invade the peace and tranquility of the heart of our town that has, up until now, remained a peaceful sanctuary from the noise and chaos that is almost a full time affair in downtown Fort Bragg, with tourists now coming here every day of the year instead of just seasonally.

2. If this probable fraud is allowed to stand, how long will it be before other properties are taken, silently and without fanfare? Do you live on the edge of our town? Are you in danger? Some residents along the Pudding Creek watershed are already reeling from the Hart brothers trespassing on their property and then threatening legal action when the residents object.

3. Most importantly, is this elder abuse in its most devious form? The Hart’s offered a solution that may cover medical bills for a while for a property that is well worth three or four times what was paid if it were offered on the open market. There is an appraisal and I’ve read it. The comps that were used were for properties that weren’t on the green belt and were about one third the size.

This is our town. Not some distant corporate fantasy of asset acquisition.

As a recent former political figure said; “…you knew that I was a snake, before you let me in…”

Monday at 5:00pm is the next City Council meeting. Maybe it would be worthwhile to start asking some serious questions as to how something like this could have happened under their noses. Was allowing this snake into our house for this single acquisition the precursor to the next successful Eminent Domain Taking that will now affect our community for many years to come?

Fort Bragg City Hall

All supporting documents used in this article are available upon request.

Bruce Broderick, bb@beingwater.com

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SORRY TO REPORT THAT JERRY HAS PASSED

Letter to Editor about Mr. Philbrick

I am a long time (almost 30 year) resident of coast. I've enjoyed reading your paper for the past decade or so. Am writing to ask why there are no longer any letters by Jerry Philbrick? I enjoyed reading his outspoken views even though I disagreed with many of them. The resulting chaotic replies to him from well meaning albeit highly judgemental people was also highly entertaining. Having a solid Conservative view point available for view in your paper was a bold and dare I say Democratic move. Right now I fear you have been persuaded to suppress the publication of Mr. Philbrick's outspoken views. Am I correct? Or was there some other reason? I highly doubt Jerry would have kept quiet by his own will.

Heather Meyer

Mendocino

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COUNTY COUNSEL’S OFFICE SHELF: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

AVA News Service

County Counsel Christian Curtis is no longer present in the empty Supes chambers during the zoom meetings. He has retreated to his office in the County Admin Center. During the morning session of Tuesday's meeting an object labeled “LCW 2021” appeared on a shelf just over Curtis' left shoulder, but by the afternoon the object had disappeared.

LCW (Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore) is the pricey go-to outside legal firm the County Counsel uses for anything beyond the competency level of County Counsel Curtis which appears to be almost everything. He and his predecessors are supposed to competently advise the Board of Supervisors, assist other county departments with routine legal matters and defend the county against lawsuits. But Curtis and his stable of eight (8) in-house lawyers appear increasingly incapable on all fronts. 

What is that thing on his shelf? Is it a staff directory for LCW? An award to Curtis for steering a half million or more in contracts to LCW in 2021? A cover sheet for a job application package? And why was it on display in the morning and deep-sixed by the afternoon? Is Curtis, who appears a trifle insecure in the photos, embarrassed with the visible reminder of his incompetence? And if so, why was “LCW 2021” on display to begin with? 

County Counsel’s LCW keepsake was not the only disappearing item at last Tuesday’s meeting. The Supes also reversed both illegal attempts to inflate Curtis’ pay to the exorbitant sum of $192,436 (plus benefits). They first voted to reconsider and delete the illegal Consent Calendar approval with Curtis’s raise. Next, they rescinded the later vote to approve it as a separate item which was legally flawed because it had not been properly noticed or added to the agenda. Nor was public comment called for. 

Former Supervisor John McCowen questioned the ethics and competency of Curtis at the time the pay raise was initially being considered. McCowen wasn’t the only one who noted that keeping the BOS in Brown Act compliance is a key responsibility of County Counsel but said Curtis “frequently falls short” in the performance of this duty. 

Since Curtis is now two for two in screwing up his own pay raise it looks like McCowen’s criticism of County Counsel’s competence is validated. Curtis is understandably unhappy that his pay raise has been rescinded but having failed to properly do his job in handling his unwarranted pay raise he then petulantly refused to do his job in rescinding and correcting it. 

If Curtis could bring forward his own botched attempt at a pay raise then there is no reason he couldn’t bring forward the actions last Tuesday to correct its flawed approval. But Curtis refused to have anything to do with correcting his illegally approved pay raise. Which is why an outside San Francisco attorney named Amy Ackerman was brought into Tuesday’s meeting to advise the Supes on correcting and rescinding Curtis’ pay raise. Which means Curtis forced the County to (again) needlessly hire outside counsel to do what he is already paid to do: advise the Board on agenda item basics.

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Mae Lyons, Mendocino, 1912

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HOUSING CRISIS IS REAL

To the Editor

I saw the Ukiah Daily Journal article about a housing crisis and had to write about what happened to me. I went to High School here in Ukiah. Graduated from the class of 1979. My mom had a house here for 38 years. I rented apartments here for over 25 years and never had any trouble finding a place to rent.

About 11 years ago, I moved to Healdsburg. My mom was having health problems and her house burned down. She was 79 years old. So I moved home to Ukiah and lived with her to help her rebuild her house and stay in the home as long as she could. She went and had back surgery and came home and was not able to walk around and stay in the home any longer. We had to put her in a care home. She was a nursing supervisor at the hospital here for 35 years and she ran the Home Health agency in Mendocino County for 15 years. They did not have any spots available here for her in a nursing home. We had to put her in Cloverdale.

My family told me I had to move out of the family home, so we could pay 9k a month to keep her in a care home. I went to 3 different property management companies and paid them $45, $35 and $25 to run a check and pre approve me so I could rent one of their units. Then they told me there were other people they had to process in front of me. In other words, get in line. If my brother in law’s dad did not give me a little one bedroom apartment he had open, I would have been homeless. He had houses and apartments he rents out and had an empty unit that he could fix up and let me have.

I had lived in the units or complexes I was trying to get into before. They have raised the rent $400 since then or more. I could not believe the prices or the situation. There are not affordable housing units here any more. Your article was spot on. People that make 35k a year can not afford these units. I could afford one, but one was not offered to me. The situation is scary. That is all I can say. Please give this to the people who run our county. They need to fix this as soon as possible.

Jeft Eloherry

Ukiah

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REBECCA JOHNSON: Marking time. 

Today I made a pilgrimage to Hendywoods an old growth redwood forest near my studio in Philo CA. It is an auspicious place a poignant reminder of change as we turn the page to a new year. 23 years ago I visited this redwood forest with my parents. They had come to see what my dad called my California adventure. While walking in the grove of ancient trees we discussed what a mammoth redwood might sound like when it falls. AT THAT MOMENT ONE FELL! About 30 feet from us! It was astounding like dynamite branches flying the earth shaking! I visit the fallen giant when it summons me, somewhere in my subconscious I feel the call. A good reminder of time passing. My dad died 20 years ago my California adventure continues. Happy New Year everyone. 2022. #mendocino #memories

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JOB OPENING - WASTEWATER PLANT OPERATOR IN TRAINING

Position Title: Wastewater Operator in Training

System Name: Mendocino City Community Services District

Contact Name: Ryan Rhoades

Email Address: mccsd@mcn.org

Salary Classification: $20 per hour and up, depending on experience and certification, with annual COLA increases, and great benefits package, CalPERS retirement, health insurance for employee and dependents, paid time off, and more. Salary to be negotiated

Employment Status: Full Time - Classified

Reports to: District Superintendent

Web Page: www.mccsd.com

Position Summary: This is a trainee level of the Wastewater Plant Operator. Under close supervision, learns and performs the duties of the journey-level operator in maintaining and operating the equipment and facilities of the wastewater treatment plant. Work is performed in conjunction with home study or college course work leading to State certification in wastewater treatment. Complete job description available upon request.

Work Hours:

1. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Must be willing to work overtime, weekends, holidays, and/or alternate schedule as required. Must be willing to participate in the weekend and after hours on-call standby rotation on a regular basis.

2. Must live within 30 minute drive of wastewater treatment plant.

3. Must possess a valid CA Class-C Driver's License

How to Apply:

Send your resume with a cover letter and work-related references to Mendocino City Community Services District, P.O. Box 1029, Mendocino, CA 95437, or e-mail at <mailto:mccsd@mcn.org> mccsd@mcn.org

Candidates may be subject to a written examination and or multiple interviews.

The candidate selected may be subject to a background investigation, and may be required to pass a District-sponsored physical examination.

The MCCSD is an Equal Opportunity Employer and supports workforce diversity. Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. The District will consider individuals with disabilities based on their qualifications to perform the essential functions of the position for which they are applying and will provide reasonable accommodation in the application and/or testing process. If you require accommodation in the application and/or testing process, please notify the Superintendent, Ryan Rhoades within seven (7) days of the need for accommodation, so appropriate alternative arrangements can be made.

Should you have any questions regarding this position or the recruitment process, please call the District Office at (707) 937-5790. For further information about Mendocino City Community Services District, visit the website at <http://www.mccsd.com> 

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BETSY CAWN ASKS: Ghost storefront in Boonville?

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SECOND SATURDAY, MENDOCINO

January 8 - 5pm-7pm — Free admission

Meet the exhibiting member artists and see the award winning artwork!

Please note: Out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, Theresa Whitehill's free artist talk originally scheduled for Second Saturday, will be rescheduled to a date to be determined and will be posted on the announcement list when available.

Whitehill, who recently presented an edition of prints entitled "Waves Rolling In" to the Mendocino Art Center, will give her upcoming talk on her involvement in this collaborative project with local artist Josh Pierson in the mid-1980’s and about her time as head of the Mendocino Art Center's letterpress studio, Gray's Trousers Press, which was located in the Mendocino Theatre Company building.

Bam!, Book Arts Mendocino!, is a series of exhibitions and displays, talks and readings, workshops and demonstrations devoted to the wide ranging and varied arts of the book. All events will take place on the coast in January and February 2022.

More information and event listings on Facebook: https://www.tinyurl.com/BAM-2022

Mendocino Art Center

45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street, Mendocino

707.937.5818

https://www.mendocinoartcenter.org

Covid-19 Safety Protocols

For the safety of all Mendocino Art Center visitors, COVID-19 safety protocols are observed.

 All Mendocino Art Center staff, board and volunteers are fully vaccinated and will be wearing masks at all times. We highly encourage N95 masks.

 Visitors, both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated, must also wear masks on the Mendocino Art Center campus.

 Please observe social distancing guidelines.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 6, 2022

Anderson, Belden, Campos, Frease

CHARLES ANDERSON, Fort Bragg. “Store camp paraph” [storing camping paraphernalia?], paraphernalia, probation revocation.

JAMES BELDEN III, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.

JORGE CAMPOS-DIAZ, Covelo. Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor more than three years younger than perpetrator, failure to appear, probation revocation.

AUGUSTINE FREASE, Ukiah. Community supervision violation.

Long, Lopez, Malley

ALEXANDRA LONG, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

PEDRO LOPEZ-GARCIA, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ERIC MALLEY, Lakeport/Ukiah. DUI.

Mendoza, Orduno, Sellmer, Shipman

CRISTIAN MENDOZA, Covelo. Concealed weapon of prohibited class of weapons.

ALANIZ ORDUNO, Peoria, Arizona/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JACOB SELLMER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

JACOB SHIPMAN, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, trespassing, false ID. 

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2

As a casino attendee, I see lots of slot players. They are mostly in a trance. They automatically keep pushing the “play” button, showing no emotion, staring straight ahead at the screen. If you ever want to hypnotize someone, give them some money and sit them down at a slot machine. In a few minutes they will be your willing slave. BTW, I have no interest in the slots and never play. I like games that require some thinking.

I’ve tasted a few non-alcoholic examples of beer that are passable. When it comes to non-alcoholic wines, I’m sorry to say, I haven’t tasted much that I’d recommend. (I have not tasted Cat Cora’s.) The problem is that when you remove alcohol from a wine, you’re removing a lot more than just the intoxicant. You’re also stripping the wine of texture, weight and, because of the way alcohol interacts with other compounds, you’re also usually getting rid of some of the wine’s beautiful aromas. 

Still, I’m trying to get in the spirit of things, even if I personally am not going dry for January. Last year, I experimented with making some mocktails at home. What I found was that the best-tasting drinks were the ones that weren’t trying to taste like booze. My favorite, in fact, was mixing plain seltzer with a shrub — a syrup made from fruit and vinegar. When diluted, the Meyer lemon-coriander shrub from Sebastopol’s Little Apple Treats makes for an intensely flavorful drink. 

So my advice to the dry January-observant and the sober-curious is this: Rather than spring for faux wines, wannabe beers or sad virgin cocktails, instead seek out drinks that were never meant to resemble an alcoholic drink to begin with. Frankly, I think it’s hard to beat a cold, crisp glass of fizzy water (I love my SodaStream!), which can provide an infinite blank canvas for drink-making. Add a squeeze of citrus and a muddling of whatever herbs you have lying around, and suddenly you have a Real Drink. 

— Esther Mobley, SF Chron

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GET YOUR T-SHIRTS HERE, ONLY $60!

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ONE YEAR AFTER INSURRECTION: Marin’s lawmaker and Marin’s accused rioter

by Natalie Hanson

When Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, heard the Capitol had been breached, he locked down his office alone, and pulled out a gas mask hood and emergency kit. (www.facebook.com/RepHuffman)

Marin’s congressman and a Mill Valley man lived just exits apart, but the two could not have been more separated politically than they were one year ago on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob attacked and invaded the U.S. Capitol.

On that day, rioters spurred on by President Donald Trump’s unproven voter fraud claim delayed Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and the rest of Congress were locked down to escape those storming through the building. Some were evacuated at great personal risk, and others like Huffman were left hiding in their offices and protected locations as the angry crowd searched for them.

Among the Trump supporters in the melee was Evan Neumann of Mill Valley, who is one of more than 1,000 people being charged for their actions. Neumann is accused of attacking police outside the Capitol and is now believed to be evading federal authorities in Belarus.

The FBI has arrested 725 connected to the riot in the past year and is still searching for 350, including Neumann.

Huffman said his perspective of what happened on Jan. 6 has continually evolved, from seeing it as a one-time event that could be controlled, to “a much more serious and ongoing threat to our democracy than what it felt like in the moment.”

He remembered how the morning began with trepidation as concerns about threats had mounted for days.

“We knew the night before there were these huge protests being promised by Trump and the Republicans,” he said. “We knew the Capitol was going to have extra police presence.”

Walking to the Capitol that morning, he said he could already hear people walking up the National Mall, and police were ”everywhere.” However, he remembered most Congress members seemed “pretty sanguine” about feeling safe in the building.

Huffman said most members’ staff were gone that day out of precaution and he made his way to his office alone. Many Congress members waited in offices for the time to come to go to the House of Representatives floor.

 Huffman said everyone was focused on certifying the Electoral College vote and completing the transition of power.

Then, he remembered seeing what was unfolding outside the building, on the closed circuit television in his office and on online news feeds.

“The noise just kept getting louder,” Huffman said. He remembered when explosions began to ring out, and assumed those were from flash grenades wielded by police to disperse the crowd.

Then he and others began to learn the Capitol had been breached. Updates on the lockdown, some of it inaccurate, began to stream in, he said.

“You began to think that, if these folks are in the Capitol complex in those places none of us are safe.”

Colleagues were “very chaotically” texting each other and tweeting in real time, Huffman remembered. He locked down his office alone, pulling out a gas mask hood and emergency kit, while getting many calls and texts from family and friends.

All the while, he and others continued seeing the same images which concerned family members were viewing, of the building being breached – “that was just frightening and surreal,” he said.

Huffman said he cannot remember how many hours he was locked in the office alone, keeping in contact with colleagues and listening to people running in the hallways. To make matters worse, he said he had just received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the day before, and was ”just wiped out.”

Finally, when the “all clear” came, he and other members of Congress waited with bated breath for police to finish sweeping the building. This also took time, so “we were all glued to our TVs and Twitter streams,” he said.

Facing six charges

On the other side of the conflict was Marin resident Evan Neumann, according to federal authorities.

Neumann, a 48-year-old handbag manufacturer, purchased a home in Mill Valley in 2013 with partner Tamar Egger. Egger, who had a child with him in 2009, declined to comment for this article.

Neumann was reported to have sold the home in July for $1.3 million, after the Jan. 6 charges were filed. The buyer, Jason Dubaniewicz, told reporters, “There was pressure to close.”

Neumann has a past of legal trouble from his time in Sonoma County.

In 2007, Santa Rosa police seized 179 marijuana plants and a pound of processed marijuana packaged for sale at Neumann’s Railroad Square-area home, and Neumann was convicted of one count of illegal marijuana possession after explaining it was for medicinal use. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation. He and brother Mark Neumann also faced legal repercussions in 2018, for ignoring Santa Rosa police and the National Guard to visit their family home in Fountaingrove after the Tubbs Fire. Both pleaded guilty, paid fines and did community service.

Neumann is the son of former Santa Rosa hotelier Claus Neumann. An obituary published in the Press Democrat reported Claus Neumann, of Marienburg, East Prussia, Germany, was involved in Hitler Youth and became known for later writing about his exit from Nazi Germany.

Neumann is now wanted by the FBI on six charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The FBI website describes Neumann as “at large” with a full complaint including a 16-page affidavit detailing allegations against Neumann under the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

U.S. court documents state on Jan. 6, Neumann stood at the front of a police barricade wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat while supporters of Trump tried to force their way past officers. Prosecutors said Neumann taunted and screamed at the police before putting a gas mask over his face. They alleged he threatened one officer, saying police would be “overrun” by the crowd, and adding “I’m willing to die, are you?”

Police body camera footage showed Neumann and others shoving a metal barricade into a line of officers, and the court records alleged Neumann struck two officers with his fist and the barricade.

Neumann was identified by investigators through a tip. He was charged in a U.S. federal criminal complaint, meaning a judge agreed that investigators presented sufficient probable cause that Neumann had committed the crimes.

Congress returns

When the moment came to return to the House floor to finalize the Electoral College vote, Huffman said he remembered feeling resolve, and the gravity of what had happened. His colleagues walked on floors of broken glass, past smashed doors and items strewn around.

”I walked right through the door where the woman was shot, to get to the House floor,” he said.

Much consoling and commiserating among the policymakers followed, Huffman said – as did debate about which Congress members had compromised the building.

“We knew some of our colleagues were virtually embedded into this mob,” he said.

Huffman partially blames mass media sources for amplifying extremist messaging from members of Congress supporting opposition to the election and even insurrection.

”Instead of stepping back and saying this was a terrible thing for the country you have some people that made a very cynical choice that they would normalize it and make money off of it. Now, they’re rewriting the entire event and portraying the event (participants) as patriots and victims.’’

Huffman said he thinks the threat of insurrection is present “to a greater extent than any of us wanted to believe or could have imagined.”

”Insurrection is being justified and normalized, and frankly set up for a second round, because that too is now an acceptable way to get power.”

Claims he’s innocent

Neumann appeared on Belarussian TV last fall, detailing his departure from the United States after being indicted in March by the FBI, according to Buzzfeed. He alleged he has friends “working for the government” who warned him about the manhunt, so he began “traveling across America from one point to another.” He said he was advised by a lawyer to leave.

Quoted by Russia Today, Neumann said, “The Trump supporters in California – the ones that I knew – don’t really congregate, and everybody’s on the down-low about it.

“Otherwise, you’re socially ostracized.”

Neumann insisted he is innocent and was not responsible for an altercation with law enforcement officers.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website reports anyone can seek asylum in Belarus, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. The country’s Department on Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Interior of Belarus did not respond to questions on whether Neumann has applied or been interviewed for asylum.

Neumann could not be reached for comment.

Offices of the FBI in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the status of the investigation. Carly Kennedy, public affairs specialist for the bureau’s D.C. office, said the Department of Justice will handle questions on Neumann’s case, but the department was not available to comment.

Seeking justice

A path toward holding those responsible for the riots in federal court was a dominant issue in Congress for most of 2021. The White House and the Jan. 6 investigation committee have agreed to shield some documents from the Trump administration related to the incident, some highly classified and some which may not be directly connected to the riot.

The National Archives has said that the records Trump wants to block include presidential diaries, visitor logs, speech drafts, handwritten notes “concerning the events of January 6” from the files of former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and “a draft Executive Order on the topic of election integrity.” Biden has repeatedly rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege over those documents, including in a letter sent Dec. 23 regarding about 20 pages of documents.

The Republican Party has also become more aligned behind Trump, who has made denial of the 2020 results a litmus test for his support.

The result, experts say, is that another baseless challenge to an election has become more likely, not less.

“It’s not clear that the Republican Party is willing to accept defeat anymore,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the book “How Democracies Die.” “The party itself has become an anti-democratic force.”

Huffman agreed.

He said that day has led to many severed ties among the House and Senate, knowing there were Republican policymakers suspected of aiding in the mob.

“It was so toxic and so unforgivable. We don’t think they should be serving in Congress.”

Huffman said he was glad to see some Republican colleagues call the riot “what it was, and lay the blame on Trump and Congress members who had been sympathetic to it.”

He was disappointed to see most turn back to defend the Republican base, aligning with conservative media and “rewriting the history of what happened.”

“As an institution, it’s frustrating that we are not more able to police this kind of behavior,” Huffman said.

Huffman said he believes California constituents with extremist views “are still fundamentally decent” and that they are “deep down the rabbit hole of terrible information, and in some ways are being preyed upon by the networks that monetize it.’’

Of what is being called a battle to preserve democracy, Huffman said, “There’s not one thing that I or other leaders can do to make it go away. All of us are going to do our part to show we’re better than this.”

(Marin Independent Journal. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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PETITION AGAINST SITES RESERVOIR reaches 50,000 signatures after a deadly year for winter-run salmon

by Dan Bacher

REDDING, CA - Just before the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a New Year’s Eve letter revealing that only 2.6 percent of juvenile Chinook salmon had survived lethally warm water conditions on the Sacramento River, a petition sponsored by Save California Salmon in opposition to the Sites Reservoir reached 50,000 signatures.

This milestone also came just a week after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Sites Project Authority announced an extension of the public comment period on the proposed 13,200-acre Sites Reservoir project from Jan. 11 to Jan. 28, 2022.

Sites Reservoir is opposed by California Tribal representatives, environmental justice groups, conservation organizations and fishing groups because the big threat that they say it poses to the imperiled salmon and other fish species and ecosystems of the Trinity and Klamath rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and to Tribal rights and culture.

“Sites Reservoir’s infrastructure would cross Colusa, Glenn, Tehama and Yolo counties and divert water south from an already severely impacted Delta and Sacramento River Basin,” according to a press release from Save California Salmon. “The reservoir has been linked to the controversial Delta Tunnel by investors.”

“We are glad so many people are joining California's fishermen and Tribes in opposing building new reservoirs that would divert even more water from the already overtaxed Sacramento River and Bay Delta," said Mike Conroy, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). "This year was disastrous for California's historic salmon runs.”

“The National Marine Fisheries Service proclaimed this year was one of the worst years on record for endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon. This is not a fish versus farms issue. Our fishing families and dependent communities are suffering and coastal towns are facing increased poverty. Sites Reservoir is an expensive water grab that benefits California's most wasteful water brokers, not average Californians,” he stated.

In a letter to the federal government on December 31, the CDFW revealed that only 2.6 percent of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam had survived the long, hot summer, with the rest perishing in warm water conditions.

That was after the CDFW on July 6 warned, in an update on the status of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, that “it is possible that nearly all in-river juveniles will not survive this season” as the cold water pool in Lake Shasta is depleted earlier than modeled because of increased downstream water deliveries during the hot weather:

The juvenile fish kill this year was particularly tragic, considering that an estimated 9,956 winter run Chinooks returned to the river this year, producing a total of 31,128,320 eggs, according to the CDFW. The potential of a relatively robust run was lost, due to the diversion of water to irrigators in the spring of 2021.

According to the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR) and Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), the proposed Sites Reservoir project would “have significant and unavoidable effects on water and air quality, vegetation, wetland and wildlife, and adverse impacts on Tribal cultural resources, causing further desecration of Tribal burial and culturally significant sites,” Save California Salmon stated.

Advocates of the Sites project have claimed that it would divert water only during big storms, but the Sites Reservoir environmental documentation shows that this is not the case, according to project opponents.

"The Delta is being further diminished along with its cultural and traditional resources that Tribes have utilized from the Delta for food, medicine, transportation, shelter, clothing, ceremony and traditional lifeways from the beginning of time," stated Malissa Tayaba, the Vice Chair of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, "Additional diversions from the Sacramento River watershed will exaggerate an already damaged and diminishing Delta ecosystem and estuary and our Tribe’s ties to our homelands.”

Tribal members, North State residents and conservation organizations also say that at 13,200 acres, Sites Reservoir would be one of the largest reservoirs in California and would include new water diversions from the Sacramento River that could adversely impact the Trinity River, the group added.

“Since the plan includes water storage for the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that delivers federal water project water to Westlands Water District, the major diverter of Trinity River water, Sites could cause the Sacramento, Shasta and Trinity Reservoirs to be over drafted. The Trinity is the largest tributary to the ailing Klamath River and its coldest water source,” according to the group.

“We have been working to restore flows to help water quality, and to bring salmon back over the dams and back to Native lands for salmon survival and Tribal people,” explained Pit River Tribal member Morning Star Gali. “California is losing the salmon and our clean water. This is an issue of justice. We already have over 1,000 reservoirs, and more water allocated than exists in California. An environmentally destructive private reservoir being built in an area that is important to Native people is a step in the wrong direction.”

Environmental and commercial fishing organizations say that there is “very little extra water” in Northern California rivers, where over five times as much water is allocated than exists (paper water). “Those allocations go mainly to large farms that do not do their part to conserve water during drought,” the group stated.

Not only are endangered salmon, Tribes, drinking water supplies and fishermen threatened by Sites Reservoir, but Delta smelt and other fish species are on the edge of extinction and Sites Reservoir, along with the Delta Tunnel, would make an untenable situation even worse. For the fourth year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported zero Delta smelt at its index stations throughout the Delta in the 2021 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey.

In a December 21st memo, James White, CDFW environmental scientist wrote, “The 2021 abundance index for Delta Smelt was 0 and was tied with 2018 through 2020 for the lowest in FMWT history. This is a continuation of a pattern of low indices that occurred in recent years. No Delta Smelt were collected from any stations during our survey months of September- December. An absence of Delta Smelt catch in the FMWT is consistent among other surveys in the estuary.”

With last year’s big ecological disasters in mind, water justice advocates are requesting that California focus on reforming its antiquated water rights systems that “place large landowners above Tribes, cities, fishermen and fish rather than build new dams.” 

* * *

IN WASHINGTON DC, AT A METRO STATION, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

— The Love Rabbi - Yisroel Bernath

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"Hill and Ploughed Field near Dresden" oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

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THE HISTRIONICS AND MELODRAMA AROUND 1/6 ARE LAUGHABLE, but They Serve Several Key Purposes

As Kamala Harris compares 1/6 to 9/11 and Nancy Pelosi introduces the cast of Hamilton to sing about democracy, today's inanity should not obscure its dangers.

by Glenn Greenwald

The number of people killed by pro-Trump supporters at the January 6 Capitol riot is equal to the number of pro-Trump supporters who brandished guns or knives inside the Capitol. That is the same number as the total of Americans who — after a full year of a Democrat-led DOJ conducting what is heralded as “the most expansive federal law enforcement investigation in US history” — have been charged with inciting insurrection, sedition, treason or conspiracy to overthrow the government as a result of that riot one year ago. Coincidentally, it is the same number as Americans who ended up being criminally charged by the Mueller probe of conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election, and the number of wounds — grave or light — which AOC, who finally emerged at night to assure an on-edge nation that she was “okay" while waiting in an office building away from the riot at the rotunda, sustained on that solemn day.

That number is zero. But just as these rather crucial facts do not prevent the dominant wing of the U.S. corporate media and Democratic Party leaders from continuing to insist that Donald Trump's 2016 election victory was illegitimate due to his collusion with the Kremlin, it also does not prevent January 6 from being widely described in those same circles as an Insurrection, an attempted coup, an event as traumatizing as Pearl Harbor (2,403 dead) or the 9/11 attack (2,977 dead), and as the gravest attack on American democracy since the mid-19th Century Civil War (750,000 dead). The Huffington Post's White House reporter S.V. Date said that it was wrong to compare 1/6 to 9/11, because the former — the three-hour riot at the Capitol — was “1,000 percent worse.”

Indeed, when it comes to melodrama, histrionics, and exploitation of fear levels from the 1/6 riot, there has never been any apparent limit. And today — the one-year anniversary of that three-hour riot — there is no apparent end in sight. Too many political and media elites are far too vested in this maximalist narrative for them to relinquish it voluntarily....

greenwald.substack.com/p/the-histrionics-and-melodrama-around

27 Comments

  1. Cotdbigun January 7, 2022

    President Biden and thoughtful in the same sentence! True story, saw it in yesterday’s comment section.

    • chuck dunbar January 7, 2022

      Yes, I said it and I meant it–it was a thoughtful and factual speech. Compare it, for example, to any speech Trump made over his four years in office.

      • Cotdbigun January 7, 2022

        Yes, I said it and I meant it…….foot stomp…….foot stomp……so there! Hrumph…..#armcross

        • chuck dunbar January 7, 2022

          You are jerk, whatever your name is.

          • chuck dunbar January 7, 2022

            a jerk

          • Stephen Rosenthal January 7, 2022

            It would be nice if the AVA would implement a policy that those wishing to comment must do so using the full name on their subscription. That would eliminate the cowardly trolls, who I venture to guess are only willing to publicly plop their smelly cow pies on us as long as they can hide behind the anonymity of their keyboard.

            Despite all his inanities, at least Marmon has the courage to post under his real name. For that I respect him while disagreeing with almost everything he posts.

            • Joe January 7, 2022

              .. and get rid of that “Off the Record” part of the paper .

              • Kirk Vodopals January 7, 2022

                Three cheers for us brave souls who have the balls to post our full names… Mostly because we know that nobody gives a hoot anyways. The incognitos think they are SO important

        • Harvey Reading January 7, 2022

          What does #armcross mean?

  2. George Hollister January 7, 2022

    It is in the best interest of the virus that causes Covid-19 to spread quickly and easily, and not kill it’s host. It appears the virus is evolving in that direction, if one can believe the basic essence of what the experts are saying. The latest dominant Covid variant has mutated to get around cloth masks, can survive in dry air, creates many a-symptomatic infections, and mostly infects the upper respiratory system. On the flip side, it is hard to believe that human herd immunity isn’t in the process of being established, if you combine those who have been vaccinated with those who have had the virus.

    • Harvey Reading January 7, 2022

      Some mutations increase survivablily of the mutating organism. Others don’t. Viruses do not think, or plan. They mutate, often frequently.

  3. Nathan Duffy January 7, 2022

    RE: Non-Alcoholic drinks. I just read Bobby Cummines book “I am Not a Gangster” wherein he reports throughout his criminal business career he never touched the booze and always ordered “strong lemon” so he would always be sharp. The jamaicans and islanders love to drink Sorrel which is flavored with hibiscus and honey. Occasionally I will make Kava Kava which is a mild intoxicant in its own right. I was drinking kombucha for a while but most of them have too much sugar so unless you find one without added sugar. The sparkling waters they are making now are great with the essence of fruit and no added or processed sugar. The next thing I would like to try to make is a refreshing drink with cucumber. I’ve had some great stuff before at a reggae show where they sometimes specialize in non-alcoholic and non-sugar drinks. CHEERS!!!!!

  4. Cotdbigun January 7, 2022

    Elizabeth Warren gained financially by falsely claiming Native American heritage, but like you, she ignored Elon Musk’s tweet where he pointed out his 11 billion dollar tax payment. The verified highest tax payment by any person.

    • Bruce Anderson January 7, 2022

      “Gained financially?” How?

      Poor Elon.

  5. Marmon January 7, 2022

    RE: SLOW JOE

    So now the Biden Administration is looking at how the Covid numbers are being reported. They want to make a distinction between those who are hospitalized or died “with Covid” and those who are hospitalized or died “because of Covid”. Biden doesn’t like the numbers he’s getting now. He is also now talking about “other tools” to fight Covid instead of just vaccines. Those other tools are therapeutics.

    This could signal an end of the fear tatics they been using on us for the past 2 years.

    Marmon

    • Marmon January 7, 2022

      It may also signal an end of Dr. Doom. We can only hope so.

      Marmon

      • Bruce McEwen January 7, 2022

        Happy Sore Loser Day, now get over it.

      • Marshall Newman January 7, 2022

        We? Nope. Just you.

    • John Kriege January 7, 2022

      Hospitalizations are at new peak levels. If not because of COVID, then, why?

      • Marmon January 7, 2022

        According to the LA Times, two thirds of the people in LA hospitals are in them “with Covid”, not “because of Covid.” People that are having car accidents are testing positive for the Omicron. I posted that story the other day. Most don’t know if they have it until the hospital tests them. People who are showing up in ER’s just to be tested are being counted too, even though they may be asymptomatic and sent home. It’s a billing thing.

        The CDC needs to come clean.

        Marmon

        • Marmon January 7, 2022

          “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

  6. Nathan Duffy January 7, 2022

    This Bernie versus Elon mashup on youtube is Hilarious!!!

    • Kirk Vodopals January 7, 2022

      Ha! Cough cough

  7. Joe January 7, 2022

    In an internal memo sent by El Camino Hospital CMO Mark Adams to hospital staff

    MEMO

    To: El Camino Health Medical Staff
    From: Mark Adams CMO
    Subject: COVID-19 Update
    Date: January 6, 2022

    Colleagues:

    We are now in the midst of a COVID-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant.

    Currently, 57% of our hospitalized COVID patients are fully vaccinated. Most have underlying medical conditions such as immunocompromised. Only one patient is on a ventilator which is consistent with the evidence that the Omicron variant is more contagious but less virulent. Unlike during previous surges, our biggest challenge this time is not the patients but staffing. We are seeing many community acquired infections in our employees making it difficult to fully staff the hospitals. To help maintain adequate staffing and still maintain a safe environment for patients we have modified our isolation and quarantine policies to reflect the differences in the behavior of the Omicron variant. Anyone who is exposed but asymptomatic can continue to work unless symptoms develop without the need for testing. Anyone who becomes symptomatic and tests positive must isolate for 5 days then if asymptomatic for 24 hours may return to work without testing. For physicians who are symptomatic but need to work, we continue to offer special testing. The physician can contact the house supervisor (AHM) who will bring a test kit to the car in the parking lot, the physician swabs themselves, the AHM then delivers the test to the lab and provides the rapid test result to the waiting physician. This is only for symptomatic must work situations. (Asymptomatic testing is now in short supply so cannot always be readily available.)

    SCC public health has issued a new order that potentially might cripple our ability to provide patient care. This is the only county in CA that is mandating that no health care worker (HCW) that is not boosted or has an approved exemption from vaccination can continue to work after January 24. We believe this is an overreach and is not consistent with the evolution of the effects of the Omicron variant. Hopefully, this will be reconsidered.

    Because of the potential for a continued increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients and further staffing shortages we may need to reduce/restrict elective procedures at our facilities. We are monitoring this on a day to day basis but please be prepared that this could be necessary in the near short term. We will keep you updated on that possibility.

    We do have a limited supply of sotrovimab for IV infusion for high risk patients that test positive to prevent worsening symptoms. This is administered in the ED. Paxlovid distribution will be controlled by the state and has not yet been released.

    The bottom line is that the “pandemic” is changing to “endemic” so will most likely be with us for an extended period of time. This means that while it is no longer an emergency or crisis it is something that we must adapt to and accept as a regular part of our health care business.

    Mark Adams, MD, FACS
    Chief Medical Officer, Administration Department
    2500 Grant Rd, Mountain View, CA 94040

  8. Craig Stehr January 7, 2022

    Sitting here quietly at The Garberville Public Library, identified with the Dao. That’s it! Craig Louis Stehr Telephone messages: c/o Andy Caffrey (213) 842-3082.
    Goodnight everybody. Take care.

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