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Mendocino County Today: September 11, 2012

TWO WEEKS AGO, as the North Pass Fire raged northeast of Covelo, CalFire received a frantic afternoon call from “a non-English speaking male” who said he was about to be consumed by fast moving flames. The man couldn't make clear where exactly he was. The Forest Service dispatched a helicopter and CalFire sent out a rescue crew for a ground search, but found no sign of him.

THEN, LAST SATURDAY, (September 8th), “14 members of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue unit conducted a search of the area in and around Boardman Ridge in Covelo, the area the 911 caller was thought to have been in when he called. Two GPS coordinates were obtained from two of the 911 calls made. Both of these positions, the areas around them, and four roads leading in and out of this area were searched with no success. As part of the investigative effort the caller's cellular telephone records were obtained from the cellular phone provider.”

THROUGH THESE RECORDS, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office determined that the caller was Diego Diaz, 37, of Santa Rosa. Deputies were soon talking with Diaz himself who said he was alive and well.

THE PLOT THINS. Diaz said he'd been “swimming” in the Mendocino National Forest when the North Pass Fire started rapidly moving east from the Middle Fork of the Eel River near Boardman Ridge. He drove up from Santa Rosa to go for a swim, hiked way to hell and gone into a remote section of the Eel where the water runs clear and swift if it hasn't been diverted to forest agriculture.

DIAZ said he outran the fire, and eventually made his way to the road near the Black Butte Country Store where a friend picked him up and gave him a ride home. Diaz said he'd gone for that swim by himself, and had been alone when the flames came at him. He said he was in an area where cell phone reception was poor, and he'd lost contact with the CalFire Dispatch Center when he'd called for help. He didn't say why he hadn't contacted CalFire to report that he'd made it out safely, but a skeptic might think Mr. Diaz was managing a marijuana grow site when he'd had to run for his life.


JUST IN: Thomas Parker has been appointed Mendocino County Counsel. Parker has lately functioned as County Counsel for neighboring Colusa County. Before Colusa, he'd worked in the County Counsel offices of Sacramento and El Dorado counties.

MENDOCINO'S HERITAGE HOUSE, presently in the hands of a dubious outside ownership group that promised the famous inn would be reopened months ago, is still not open. As reported here at the time, a family synonymous with Baltimore slum housing by the name of Schlesinger, wound up with the property after its previous owners had gone bankrupt. Once a fairly major Mendocino Coast employer, Heritage House has been closed for four years, and now its latest owners say they may re-model the aging buildings that comprise the inn before they revive it. The Schlesingers also maintain a chain of hotels.

COMMENT OF THE DAY from Jim Kunstler: “President Obama's historical role will be seen as a wish-fulfillment totem for late 20th century progressive liberalism — the first black president. The Democratic Party apotheosized the genial young lawyer with his appealing family in order to demonstrate the triumph of social justice, which was their great struggle of the era. Evidence of that is the striking divergence from the get-go between Mr. Obama's Hope and Change advertising and his sedulous defense of pervasive racketeering at the highest levels of polity once in office. Otherwise, you must decide whether he was a tool of the giant banks, or a dupe-made-hostage to them, or simply too clueless to understand what was required in 2009 — namely the break-up and reorganization of the banks plus hearty prosecution of their executives for massive swindling (along with reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act). I voted for him in 2008, by the way, since the wish-fulfillment motif moved me, and also because of the horrifying McCain-Palin opposition. In office, then, Mr. Obama quickly proved to be a different breed of porpoise than the voters bargained for. He let the Wall Street privateers run amuck another four years, aided with colossal infusions of conjured-out-of-nothing ‘money’ from the Federal Reserve. He let loose the demons of a high-tech totalitarian ‘security’ state with every sort of electronic surveillance, citizen data-mining, and drone spying that innovation allowed. He stood silent like a Banana Republic store mannequin after the supreme court decided that corporations could buy elections (he could have pushed loudly for legislation or even a constitutional amendment to redefine corporate ‘personhood’). And of course, he continued to prosecute the absurd war in Afghanistan where, after nine years, US forces are unable to accomplish the only aims of being there: to control the terrain and to moderate the behavior of the people who live there. Hence, the appalling spectacle of the Democratic convention last week, with its odor of ideological bankruptcy, stale rhetoric, and empty promises. The party seeks only validation of its cherished fantasy: the social justice of reelecting the first black president. And all it really has to offer is cheerleading to that end — with some social justice table-scraps tossed to the lesser totems of social justice politics: women, assorted ethnic minorities, and gays. All the blather about ‘jobs’ from the presidential convoys is based on looking backward to a way of life that is ending: the age of giant everything, especially corporations. The days of cubicle serfdom are numbered. Useful, gainful work in the decades ahead will be much more about how you fit into your local community. The word ‘job’ may even become obsolete — a curious artifact of the industrial past. Which party is preparing young people for local agriculture and all the value-added activities around it? Which party understands that the national chain-store model of trade is doomed and Main Streets all over America will have to be re-activated? Which party understands that we're in the twilight of mass motoring and commercial aviation? And what are they doing to prepare for the implications of that? The two doddering parties want to promise more of what we've already got in a world that doesn't have any more of that to give. The result is likely to be that we will go through all the noisy motions of the 2012 elections only to find ourselves plunged into a political crisis possibly worse than the Civil War.”

A CALL to Local Artists — The Mendocino County Youth Project is soliciting donations of artwork from Mendocino County artists to benefit the Youth Project’s Transitional Living Program. DUE DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS Friday November 9th. This program benefits homeless young adults and their children of Mendocino County. The artwork donated will be part of our annual fundraising art auction. We would appreciate the honor of including your most precious gift, your personal expression through art. The event will feature artwork by students and other local artists from all reaches of the county. Many beautiful pieces of artwork will be for silent auction or sale starting at 5:30pm on Friday December 7th at the Art Center in Ukiah. Our young artists will be honored that evening. Their art will be proudly displayed while hors d’oeuvres are served. Please consider donating your work to help the homeless young adults in transition! Your donations may be dropped off at the Youth Project office at 776 South State Street, Suite #107 in Ukiah until November 9, 2012. If you are unable to drop off your work, contact Randi Sanchez-Mellus at 463-4915 or email For more information or to print out art application forms visit us at Thank you so much for your support. — Randi Sanchez-Mellus, Mendocino County Youth Project, 463-4915,

THIS SATURDAY, September 15th Parducci Winery’s Acoustic Café series presents the final concert of the season with the high octane blues heros, The Ford Blues Band. Festivities start around 7pm with gates opening at 6pm. General Admission is $12 and tickets are available at Parducci Wine Cellars tasting room, calling 463-5357 or go online at Food will be available throughout the summer from The Potter Valley Café and North State Street Café with part of the drink proceeds benefiting the Alex Rorabaugh Center (The ARC). 463-5357.

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