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Hate Speech, PG&E, and More

Hate Speech Nonsense

I recently wrote a column featuring former county supervisor John McCowen’s thoughts on retiring CEO Carmel Angelo’s tenure in Mendo County.

Believe it or not, some PC lunatics called McCowen’s insider insights “hate speech.” 

Are you kidding me. We’re talking politics here, not all this “woke” crap emanating from neurotics.

Here are folks comments responding to the BS hate speech charges.

Beth Bosk: I shared John McCowen’s post [critical of CEO Angelo] to both the Mendocino County 4th & 5th District group sites. It was immediately dumped as "hate speech" by the manager of the 4th District group site. Folks are commenting on it on the 5th District site, but that may be in an adjunct "Community" site established by Bruce Broderick. Retelling a personal history that involves criticism of one public official by another is not hate speech, it's lived history.

John McCowen: A few days ago the Administrator of the [Fourth & Fifth] District pages deleted the following comment which was considered to be bullying or hate speech: "The mismanagement starts at the top with CEO Angelo who is more concerned with rewarding her friends and punishing her perceived enemies than with managing the county for the benefit of the public." If this is hate speech or bullying then either the Administrator lived a very sheltered life or is personal friends with the CEO.

Dickey Weinkle: I shared it on the Willits Fan Page Community page. It was approved with a notation at the bottom that it was hate speech. What a pile of poop.

Supervisor Mo Mulheren: Recent editorial comments have been “interesting.” The fact of the matter is that Mendocino County has five Board of Supervisors [sic] that represent the community and will need to decide what needs to happen next with this [CEO] position. So before anyone goes jumping to conclusions please know that the decision about how to move forward, will be agendized for the January 25th meeting. This has been an ongoing discussion the last year that I’ve been on the Board, please feel free to ask questions and share opinions but know that NO DECISIONS have been made yet.

Douglas Coulter: Is it hate speech to say Adolf Hitler did great things for Germany's economy but destroyed any who opposed him. Book burning, propaganda, censorship, intimidation all backfired to leave the name Hitler as a curse and his nation in ruins. Read the praise for Adolf from America's media and government up until 1939 His methods work for quick results but do not endure, they create backlash.

PG&E’s Probation About To End

If PG&E’s five years on federal probation was intended to rehabilitate the state-authorized electrical monopoly, it’s been a failure

With PG&E’s criminal probation set to expire as I write this, one can only hope that a last-minute change will keep the company under a federal judge’s supervision.

However, the handwriting is already on the wall as federal district Judge William Alsup said last week that he would not seek to extend PG&E’s time on probation because federal prosecutors did not take him up on his offer to continue probation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for California’s Northern district declined the judge’s offer, writing that a hearing was not “necessary,” citing uncertainty about the court’s ability to impose more punishment.

“The fact that the federal prosecutor will not take the judge’s lead and keep these people on probation so that they are scrutinized, so they cannot kill another person, is a slap in the face,” said Paradise town council member Steve Culleton. “It is a slap in the face to everybody that survived the Camp Fire and the 85-plus people that died.”

Disaster survivors slammed U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds and her office for deciding not to try to set a precedent, given PG&E’s repeated offenses.

Judge Alsup’s investigations of probation violations have revealed countless details of PG&E’s involvement in wildfires that most likely would never have come come to light.

PG&E’s probation officer filed violations last November because PG&E had been charged with dozens of new criminal offenses in the 2019 Kincade and 2020 Zogg Fire.

The charges include felony manslaughter of the four people killed in the Zogg Fire.

“At this juncture, it appears that the state courts are the proper forum” for those issues, the U.S. Attorney’s office said earlier this month.

That’s a copout because if a drug dealer on federal probation commits crimes in the last couple of months of supervision, he’s tossed back into prison. 

Many survivors of PG&E disasters have made it clear that they wanted probation extended.

If the judge were to extend probation, most legal experts say PG&E would certainly appeal and would have a strong argument due to the five-year maximum set by federal law.

However, it can also be argued that since PG&E has been convicted of deadly crimes during their probation, continuing it would be more than appropriate and justified.

I found that Santa Clara University law professor Catherine Sandoval, who represents PG&E customers pro bono in the probation, hit the nail on the head when she said, “This isn’t just detention at school. You have 115 people who have died due to PG&E’s actions while on probation. If they were a person, not only would they be in jail, but they’d be looking at a death sentence.

In his comments last week, Judge Alsop indicated extending probation was a step he wasn’t willing to take without having prosecutors on record ready to defend the move if it were appealed by PG&E.

“In the absence of a motion by the United States Attorney to extend probation, the Court will not do so on its own,” Judge Alsup wrote last week in a filing that said PG&E had “failed” to rehabilitate and “has gone on a crime spree and will emerge from probation as a continuing menace to California.”

If no further action is taken, PG&E’s probation will end shortly after Jan. 25 once all the paperwork is finished.

Let’s hope Judge Alsup has a last-minute change of mind and does the right thing: Extend PG&E’s probation, a move that truly would be justice for all Californians who have been damaged by its unlawful behavior for far too long.

California Farm Production, Drought, and Escalating Price of Groceries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices are up 5.3 percent over the past year, but some grocery items have shot up much higher. For example, meat is up 16%, fats and oils (for cooking, I presume) are up 9.1%, and fish, seafood, and eggs all rose 8%.

Booze is a relative great buy since prices increased only 1.3%. That makes it easier for shoppers to get soused after spending 50 bucks for a small bag of groceries. 

While all the economic experts cite the nebulous “supply chain” as the culprit for consumers price spikes, there’s also direct linkage to what’s happening down on the farm.

California farmers and ranchers who rely on the State Water Project were hit hard back in August when the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) cut off surface water supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Now DWR is increasing deliveries from the State Water Project to 15% of requested supplies for 2022, which hopefully will lead to some reduction in store prices.

According to the California Farm Bureau, citrus farmers face rising costs and smaller harvests for bringing their crops to market. The California Citrus Mutual trade association says farmers are facing price increases in water, labor, fertilizer, pesticides and transportation. Amid drought and pandemic-related supply-chain challenges, 4% of last season’s citrus crop was neither picked nor sold. This year, a down-year growing cycle, the navel crop is expected to drop by 20% and mandarins by as much as 45%. 

Likewise, California’s anticipated tomato production shrank last year due to water shortages and higher production costs. Some processing-tomato growers who once paid $3,000 per acre on their crop say they’re paying more than $4,000. Last year, state processors intended to contract for 12.1 million tons of tomatoes. By the end of harvest, that figure had dropped by 1.3 million tons, as farmers adjusted production forecasts downward.

U.S. 27th On World-Wide Corruption Index

I came across a new study from Transparency International, an independent nonprofit group that, according to its website, “work[s] to expose the systems and networks that enable corruption to thrive, demanding greater transparency and integrity in all areas of public life.”

Last week, the group released its annual Corruption Perception Index, a score-based system that "ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The results are given on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). 

As anti-corruption efforts stagnate worldwide, human rights and democracy are also under assault. 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has also been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms and side-step important checks and balances. 

While corruption takes vastly different forms from country to country, this year’s scores reveal that all regions of the globe are at a standstill when it comes to fighting public sector corruption. 

At the top of the CPI, countries in Western Europe and the European Union continue to wrestle with transparency and accountability in their response to COVID-19, threatening the region’s clean image. In parts of Asia Pacific, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, increasing restrictions on accountability measures and basic civil freedoms allow corruption to go unchecked. Even historically high-performing countries are showing signs of decline. 

In the Middle East and North Africa, the interests of a powerful few continue to dominate the political and private sphere, and the limitations placed on civil and political freedoms are blocking any significant progress. In Sub-Saharan Africa, armed conflict, violent transitions of power and increasing terrorist threats combined with poor enforcement of anti-corruption commitments rob citizens of their basic rights and services. 

The United States comes in a tie for 27th place — with Chile. Both have a Corruption Perception Index score of 67. 

By way of comparison, the least corrupt countries — Denmark, Finland and New Zealand — all have a score of 88. Among the countries with healthier scores are many of the major democracies of Western Europe, including Germany (80) and the United Kingdom (78).

The United States' Corruption Perception Index score had been on the decline for several years. In 2015, the US was at 76. In 2016, 74. By 2020, the US was down to 67, where it remained in 2021. 

Why? Simple, according to an analysis from Transparency International: 

“The country’s lack of progress on the CPI can be explained by the persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system,” according to the report.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. 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)

2 Comments

  1. Douglas Coulter February 5, 2022

    We have the finest government money can buy

  2. Betsy Cawn February 5, 2022

    Public officials are subject to criticism, it comes with the job. Our CAO complained that her feelings were “hurt” when citizens objected to being treated harshly by the county after the Valley Fire. Citizens here are consistently ignored and the level of dialogue with the Board of Supervisors (especially since Phil Murphy debarked for Oregon) is pretty much reduced to being allowed three minutes for comments — to which the Supervisors mostly do not reply. (One exception being Supervisor Sabatier, who fancies himself some sort of statesman.)

    I find that for the most part the public in general is reluctant to offer any “negative” comments, being respectful to a fault (with Facebook comments leavening the brew — often larded with ad hominem nonsense) or obsequiously obiesant in some hope of receiving the crumbs of attention the elected officials deign to waft their way.

    How our Lake County Administration gets away with its fantastical dream-weaving in lieu of funding public health and safety programs and taking real action to protect the watershed, shoreline and Clear Lake — responsibility for which was granted to the County of Lake in 1973 — beats me.

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