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Off the Record (February 9, 2022)


Currently, Lake Mendocino has 43,232 acre feet behind the dam with an overall capacity of 118,000 acre feet, which means it’s about 37 percent “full.”

According to this press release from the Sonoma Water Agency, (and believe it or not) “Lake Mendocino’s watershed is in a “normal” water supply condition and hence we have to meet increased minimum flow requirements in the Russian River — that means we have to increase flows out of Lake Mendocino. We beg to differ with our water rights permits, and thus in mid-November petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to change that so we can save water in Lake Mendocino during this continuing drought. The State Water Board approved our petition and beginning on Feb. 1, the water supply condition will almost certainly change to “dry” unless a big storm comes our way before then — which is not forecasted to happen. So, long story short, Sonoma Water acted proactively late last year to save water in Lake Mendocino based on our water rights permits and we will continue to proactively work with our regulatory colleagues to save the water for our community in our reservoirs!”

It appears the next possibility of rain is mid-February when it might snow also.

Our current rainfall in the Laytonville area for the year is 36.90 inches compared to the historical average of 38.60 inches at this time of year. The historical annual precipitation for Laytonville is 67 inches. On this date last year during the historic drought, we had 19.55 inches of precipitation, and ended up with a total rainfall of just 29 inches, the lowest on record. Previously we knew that our aquifer would recharge if we received half, or approximately 32 inches to 33 inches, of our historical average of 67 inches of precipitation. Last year it recharged at 29 inches, which is new data and also good news because we already have nearly 37 inches.

— Jim Shields

EVERY WEEK we get County Health notices like this one: “Death #115: 92 year-old man from the Ukiah area; vaccinated with comorbidities.” Being 92 is a basic ”comorbidity” one would think. It’s not clear what carried the old boy off, or all the other elderly people routinely listed on the Covid Death Watch unless they specifically died from covid.

AN NPR SEGMENT talked about SF Mayor Breed’s feeble efforts to, as Breed famously put it, “stop the bullshit in the city we all love.” According to the random functioning people interviewed, large numbers of dopers, mopers and mentally ill still make their homes on Frisco’s downtown streets. A city official commented, “Well, we can’t force them…” Why can’t you force a person unable or unwilling to care for himself into treatment? Of course San Francisco, like Mendocino County, has a huge apparatus of highly paid helping professionals who resist even the hint of compulsion, settling instead for phony statements of their own cash and carry virtue in resisting any and all effective strategies for dealing with the outdoors population.

EARLY TUESDAY MORNING, on South State Street I watched an obviously unhinged woman, barefoot and in thin pajamas, walking past Safeway. It was about 45 degrees out. Can the Mendo consensus really be that a person in this condition not be compelled into care? 

JUST WONDERING, but is the Ukiah Safeway a drug spot? There always seem to be white powder people hanging around there. Which reminds me of the SF police official who blurted, “We can’t arrest people just for being undesirable!” It’s the non-functioning undesirables, officer, who should be indoors getting themselves sorted out by Mendocino County’s 31-agency-strong “Continuum of Care,” not the merely undesirable. Jeez, by the desirability standard most of us would be locked up.

JONAH RASKIN: I am talking about my novel Beat Blues San Francisco 1955 at the SF Public Library, 100 Larkin St. 1-3:30 p.m. on Saturday February 26. 2022. You're welcome. It's a free event.

Author: Jonah Raskin, Beat Blues San Francisco, 1955

Saturday, 2/26/2022

1:00 - 3:30

Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room B

Main Library

100 Larkin Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

THAT FIRE at Redway Liquors (HumCo) two afternoon's ago had us worried. Over the years, liquor stores, Redway among them, have been important sales sites for the Boonville weekly. Why the mighty ava sells more copies at liquor stores than book stores is a mystery, but it's a fact. Newspapers have disappeared almost as fast as bookstores and newsstands. (Old timers will remember the wonderful newsstand on Standley directly across the street from the County Courthouse in Ukiah.) The ava is the last paper available in the Anderson Valley. The distributor for all the other papers — the Press Democrat, the Ukiah Daily Journal, the SF Chron, even a few copies of the daily NYT — gave up because he couldn't sell enough of them to pay for the drive over here. Now it's just us. Buy one today for the pure nostalgia of owning a copy of one of the last weeklies, and the only one that is almost entirely a geriatric production.


February 17th, 7:30 PM

Byron Spooner in conversation with Robert Mailer Anderson…

“An hour of infantile banter and serious litjabber from two pillars of the Bay Area writing scene.”

Rounding Up A Bison

Stories by Byron Spooner

Andover Street Archives Press

Details at:

Praise for Rounding Up A Bison: 

Byron Spooner’s stories read like common speech and speak with deep tones that never feel literary, but sound like a full measure of humanness, and we can ask for no more, ‘Rounding Up a Bison” does the job with artistry and an adroitness that is rare. This is an exciting contribution to contemporary writing.

— Neeli Cherkovski

A major teller of stories is Byron Spooner, who has mastered the art of conversational technique, with all the memorable precisions of images from his own childhood as well as from the many others he’s invented. The result is these brilliantly composed works that make anyone say, “Wow, I was just told what I just read: a beautiful book of stories!” American literature, welcome your newest short-story master.

— Jack Hirschman, emeritus Poet Laureate of San Francisco

With working-class wit, a strong sense of absurdity, and an ear for the conversations of not-so-wise guys, Spooner spins stories from the busted front porch of a faded American Dream. From hard-drinking Hackensack holidays to scheming dog-eared New York booksellers, his characters eke out their livings and mistake-riddled lives calling to mind the early work of Richard Price and Richard Russo.

— Robert Mailer Anderson, author of Boonville and Windows on the World

I got my copy of Rounding Up a Bison. I’ve been reading it this afternoon and recommend it highly.

— Eric Spooner, my brother

If you’re miserable because Ray Carver is gone, and the delicious Jean Shepherd is still dead, don’t be. if you love the ringing-clear dialogue and impossibly true-to-life behavior of the characters in Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone), don’t be blue, run to your local independent bookseller and get a copy of local book man Byron Spooner’s Rounding up a Bison. Hell, run between the raindrops and snag a copy and bundle up once you get home and read it. All. Tonight. You may thank me tomorrow.

— Beverly Langer, Extremely well-read Bookseller & Publishers’ Representative

WE STILL THINK former Supervisor McCowen got a dirty deal from CEO Angelo and his cringing colleagues when he retired. The CEO falsely accused him of stealing county property after which Supervisor Williams knifed McCowen in the back by saying, “John McCowen, I would appreciate it if you would return the keys, the laptop, the iPad, and the iPhone. I don't want to be in the position of having conflict. I appreciate that you served for 12 years with the county, even longer in public service. It's not fair to put the Board in this position that you created. We have to treat everyone, all employees, equally and we would ask any other employee to return public property upon their departure from the county.” 

WHICH McCOWEN did not steal, the libel being a pure fabrication by the CEO who couldn't tolerate one of five supervisors occasionally opposing her spoon-fed dicta. McCowen should have at least gotten the usual Whereas’s, as in “Whereas Supervisor McCowen was a dedicated blah blah blah.”

BUT, YOU SAY, Supervisor Carre Brown wasn't buried in Whereases when she retired either. No, she got one better. Carre got a Rifkin! A front page lathering in the Ukiah Daily Journal by Karen Rifkin, Mendocino County's very own Pollyanna.

COUNTY TREASURER-TAX COLLECTOR Shari Schapmire was interviewed in the Feb. 4 edition of the Independent Coast Observer, making her March 19 early retirement announcement official. Ms. Schapmire told ICO reporter Susan Wolbarst that the main reason she’s retiring now is the Supes ill-considered consolidation of the Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller offices. After reminding Ms. Wolbarst of her “very vocal” opposition to the consolidation, Schapmire added, “It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I was extremely disappointed with the direction the board went. There is no communication. The two newest supervisors [McGourty and Mulheren] didn’t even talk to me. Supervisor Haschak is the only one who reached out to me. I have major concerns about what could potentially happen here,” adding that her experience with the County “has been extremely positive until the past three or four months. I’m very disappointed with the Board’s decision-making process.” Schapmire told Ms. Wolbarst that she expects interim/assistant auditor controller Chamisse Cubbison to run for the newly consolidated post and “I hope Chamise will be successful.”  (Mark Scaramella)

LOOKS LIKE THE BACKUP PLAN is for “Joe Biden’s” geniuses in the foreign affairs and intel bureaucracy to start a war with Russia over Ukraine, our dearest ally in the whole wide world (not). Yesterday, State Department spox Ned Price floated up a raggedy balloon about Russia pulling a “false flag” stunt in Ukraine’s Donbass frontier to get things going. It sounded like he was just making shit up. And he was conspicuously short on details. “Our intel people something something, blah blah….” Skeptical reporters shot the balloon down with a few barbed remarks — the darn thing just zinged around the press room with the air rushing out and crashed on the spox’s podium — suggesting that even the news media is tired of its role in the controlled demolition of our country.

More likely, though, the financial scaffold of Late Modernity gives way under the burden of rackets and Ponzis it has been asked to support. This week, Facebook (a.k.a. Meta) scored the world record for biggest single-day market value drop ever, shedding $232-billion in capital losses. You go, Zuck! The Everything Bubble has achieved supernova scale and everybody knows she’s gonna blow as soon as Jay Powell lifts the Fed Funds rate twenty-five basis points. When that finally happens, things get realer than real and Truth comes marching in like the saints with bells on. It’ll be the Left’s Masque of the Red Deathashes, ashes, all fall down.

The actual global economy itself — the thing that sends, you know, products from one place to another — is seizing up like the engine on a beater 1998 Buick Regal. Long about right now, lots of things are not going from point A to Point B, including stuff of a food nature. It’s starting to irk the home-folks. When all that goes south, you’ll hear no more about Covid-19, systemic racism, the patriarchy, the drag queen story hour, and all the other hobgoblins that infest the gospel garden of Wokery. The kryptonite is coming on hard. They are done… and for the moment we are stuck with them running the country. — James Kunstler

EARTH FIRST! came and went on the Northcoast with Judi Bari, circa '88 until '90 when the health and welfare of the environment became secondary to Bari's travails after she survived an attempt by her ex-husband to murder her via a car bomb in May of 1990.

THE MENDOCINO ENVIRONMENT CENTER was opened about that time by Gary and Betty Ball in a law enforcement-convenient location opposite the County Courthouse. The Balls appeared in Ukiah about the same time as Bari, departing post-Bari. Bari and her then-husband, Sweeney, maintained offices at the MEC, premises owned by former supervisor, John McCowen.

BECAUSE EARTH FIRST! talked up and occasionally engaged in, industrial sabotage, the FBI used the MEC at 106 Standley as a listening post, keeping track of potential eco-terrorists, as that inflated term was promiscuously applied to people who identified with the principles of the non-organized Earth First! non-organization.


WHICH is purely my surmise as a simpatico person who was there and fairly close to the principals and couldn't help but notice the lurk-murks who hung out at the MEC pretending to be hippies, the costume required for participation credentials at the time. The fake hippies looked more like gym rats than monkey wrenchers, not that it mattered because there were plenty of snitches among the inner circle, among them Judi Bari's husband, Mike Sweeney, imo. (Sweeney left it all behind, including his large family with two women for New Zealand, about as far from Mendoland as it’s possible to get.)

THE NEXT INCARNATION of earth warriors will be far more numerous and far more serious than Earth First! ever was because it is more obvious now than it was thirty years ago that it's either us humans or eco-catastrophes on a scale that upsets the entire globe’s poisoned apple carts.

A FELLOW NAMED MALM is writing in the highbrow journals that the logic of the rolling eco-disasters will require thousands of people in each area of the globe dedicating themselves to stopping the destroyers by whatever means it takes up to and including assassinations of individual destroyers. Malm is more influential by the day.

FORESTS are consumed by wildfire, fish die in hot rivers whose waters are drying up, whole towns burn off the map or sink beneath floods, polar ice melts, sea level rises, extinctions, and eco-collapse surrounds us, millions of destitute people flee lands no longer able to support them. Malm points out the obvious — there has not been an equivalent acceleration of aggressive opposition. “The daily business of politics has started to look trivial, if not insane.”

“CONFRONTING the facts can be paralyzing. How to Blow Up a Pipeline, one of a number of recent books by Andreas Malm, opens by quoting an observation made by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books back in 2007 that terrorism had thus far been markedly absent from the climate movement.

“That might have been a sign of the times. There was little appetite in the years after 2001 for discussion of the merits of terrorism. Even if the definition is wide enough to include the ELF’s campaign of sabotage and property destruction, climate activists have been at pains to stress their non-violence. But now, Malm suggests, an insistence on pacifism as the sine qua non of the climate movement presents a paradox. Despite the urgency of the crisis and the ubiquity of appropriate targets – the SUV, the refinery, the head offices of major fossil fuel firms – that can be disabled with relative ease, no sustained action against them has been taken. For Malm, this reflects both the ‘general deficit’ of climate action and the particular form of inaction characteristic of activists themselves.”

THE ABOVE PARA is from a recent London Review of Books article It represents what a lot of smart people are thinking, and it won't be long before smart young people take up the do or die challenge. Us old folks might make our own contributions to Operation Planet Save by committing a few eco-felonies ourselves as we walk out our last door.

BETSY CAWN: 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.


[1] The death of Amerika? Too many choices in a resource-starved world.

Went to the grocery to buy original Triscuits, the kind I grew up with long ago. Instead found:

  • Triscuit Cheddar
  • Tzatziki
  • 4 Cheese and Herb
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Garden Herb
  • Dill, Sea Salt and Olive Oil
  • Hint of Sea Salt
  • Avocado, Cilantro and Lime
  • Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar and Basil
  • Fireroasted Tomato and Olive Oil

Finally found the “original” Triscuits after a 5 minute search in what should have been a 10 sec purchase.

[2] Sleepy Joe is stumbling into war with Russia. I was watching a documentary about the ‘Great Patriotic War’ and took note of the titanic battles in Eastern Ukraine Sept – Oct 1941, with the Germans destroying two entire Russian armies of 400,000 and 550,000 respectively, at the same time losing 10,000 kia every week. I hope Sleepy Joe realizes the Russian Army is not not the Iraqi army, and they ain’t playing games on the eastern front.

[3] In my old age, my readings in history and current events as they were and as they passed me by are finally paying off. Now every time I hear about “our intel people” I think of the many times US intel was out of touch with reality. 1941 — months before Pearl Harbor, the Martin-Bellinger report from a couple of high ranking US military commanders was thoroughly ignored by “our intel”. It predicted the upcoming attack’s time of day, day of the week, method, direction from which the attack would come, and the fact that the Empire would not declare war on the US before striking. Oct 1962: 4 Soviet subs off Cuba repositioned themselves under water when JFK announced his “quarantine” of shipping in and around Cuba. “Our intel” was ignorant of the fact that each sub had a “special weapon” – a nuclear tipped torpedo for which each sub’s commander had Moscow’s full authority to launch, at the decision of each sub’s command, no need to communicate with Moscow. It was a miracle IMNSHO that Soviet sub B59 did not launch its “special weapon” against the US Navy despite being depth-charged. “Our intel” was completely ignorant of this situation until 1992 when the military archives of the defunct USSR were opened for review. Jan 1968 — a frontline US Army intel officer captures documents from a dead NVA officer with the full plan of the upcoming Tet offensive. He makes a point of personally presenting them to Gen. Westmoreland for his perusal. Westie gives the documents no more than a glance, gives them a wave of the back of his hand, and says, “They’re not able to do that!”

Nowadays it seems “our intel” has gone over to organized crime, a task they perform much better than “intel”.

[4] The only real substitute for oil and gas is nuclear with an add-on of electrolysis (fuel cells) running off of the nuclear output.

Renewables will be lucky to get to 50% of needed electricity, where should we get the rest?

Phoenix has a nuclear plant, located about 40 miles west of the city. With all the lousy land in the west, why couldn’t we do nuclear in those areas and run power into the national grid. You do not want to get into an argument about the efficiency of energy generated per acre between wind or solar versus nuclear.

How come France is the best reliable nuclear nation in the world? They are out performing all the renewables oriented for efficiency and cost. Their power output does not fluctuate with the wind speed or cloudiness either. 

It is obvious that we better figure out something and soon. So far, renewables are a sad joke.

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