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Mendocino County Today: October 4, 2012

THE FLYNN FIRE is in its mopping up stage. A small army of CalFire vehicles covered the parking lot of the Boonville Fairgrounds early Wednesday morning, but from everything we've heard from our Comptche correspondents the Flynn Fire is effectively out. As of 7pm Calfire reported that the fire was 90% contained and they expect 100% containment by Thursday evening: “The forward progress of the fire has been stopped. Firefighters are working hard to complete a fire line. Heavy mop-up efforts 300 feet inside the line. Fire command personnel anticipate full containment the evening of Thursday, October 4, 2012.” There are still 37 engines, 24 crews, and 651 personnel on scene but the dozers, air tankers and helicopters have been released for duty elsewhere. Total estimated acreage burned: 195. One injury. Five structures destroyed.

WITH ADMIRABLE QUICK THINKING, the designated executor of the late Bruce Longstreet’s household effects, Sheila Leighton of Boonville, decided yesterday after hearing of the Comptche family that was burned out of house and home, to turn over most of the useful material (furniture, personal care, clothes, etc.) to the burned out family. (Longstreet, former KZYX manager and former Ambulance Service manager, died of cancer a couple weeks ago but had no relatives in the area.) Most of Mr. Longstreet’s things had previously been headed for Goodwill in Ukiah. But Ms. Leighton made the decision to turn over the stuff to the most in need as soon as the call went out on Monday. We’re sure Mr. Longstreet would have approved.

TUESDAY MORNING, obviously in response to growing Humboldt County frustration with its floating population of young derelicts, the HumCo Sheriff's Department began to dismantle neo-hobo camps outside Garberville.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY towns from Garberville north to Arcata and Eureka, have a large, floating population of criminally disposed methamphetamine addicts who reinforce the county's large population of drunks and unwholesome young transients who linger rather than transit. From the violent on-line comments about the street populations of Humboldt County it's clear that vigilante actions against street people is only a bad episode away. It's a bad situation getting worse.

HERE'S A TYPICAL expression of HumCo frustration: “As a young person, I for one am over the homeless situation here in Humboldt, just last week I went down to the Arcata plaza and saw large crowds of people, I thought there was some sort of event but upon closer inspection ALL were young homeless (travelers, whatever you want to call them). In all my time here this was for sure the most homeless I have seen at the plaza at one time. You can’t walk thru town without being harassed and violence is on the rise. A good friend a few weeks back was pulled out of his car and attacked by one of these travelers. I hear similar stories all the time. I see young travelers come up here thinking they are going to get rich trimming but just end up strung out sitting on the corner next to Safeway. Enough is enough, GTFO.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S street populations are also fairly large but are pretty much confined to Ukiah and the Mendocino-Fort Bragg corridor, not that that's any excuse for not addressing the problems they present. But these populations are younger and much more aggressive than they were a few years ago, and there are more and more of them all the time because, and feel free to pick your own reason, but I put it on the natural consequence of a society disordered by the berserk capitalism that grinds up more and more people so badly they're already terminally dysfuntional by the time they're twelve. Hell, in this country probably half the so-called normal population couldn't pass a mental health exam.

WHAT'S THE ANSWER short of a revolutionary re-ordering of a society that no longer works for millions of its people? It certainly isn't fair to the majority of everyday functioning citizens that they feel, and often are, besieged by menacing persons in the public spaces of their home towns, so what to do?

THERE ARE HUMANE strategies for mandatory sequestration, if you'll pardon the creepy euphemism for rounding up people with no fixed addresses and housing them in one place such as a tent camp or, as is done in Eugene, Oregon, a church-run compound on the western edge of the city where the homeless are fed, housed, cleaned up, counseled, and required to work for room and board. Eugene does not let people live on the street or in its parks.

PEOPLE who think they have a right to burden the larger community should simply be arrested and charged as mopes. What's humane about letting them destroy themselves on the streets as they limp along with a free Methodist sandwich a couple of times a day, enough from the do-gooders so they can spend the rest of the day getting loaded?

A MODERN VERSION of the old County farm might work. It was an enclosed working farm where chronic drunks and miscellaneous incompetents, the great grandfathers of today's street populations, were court-ordered to reside for fairly long periods of time while they dried out or put themselves into at least minimal functioning order.

YES, LIKE MOST AMERICANS, the sight of able bodied young people lounging around in public places getting loaded all day and spare changing passersby pisses me off. Only rarely do you encounter someone on the street who's really, really trying to get him or herself together. It's crackdown time on the rest of them.

Jacqueline Audet

AND THEN THERE'S GOLDILOCKS, a young street person who racked up her first drunk in public in Fort Bragg at the age of 18. She's now 22. We've tracked her for a couple of years simply out of a concern for her well-being, a concern now shared by many who let us know when and where they spot her. A caller told us just yesterday (Tuesday, 2nd October) that Miss Locks and her dog were standing outside the Redway Liquor Store. When she disappeared from Mendocino County earlier this summer she had two dogs. We wonder where her other dog is. We hope our roving reporter, Bruce McEwen, a veteran of the homeless life and now a resident of Southern Humboldt, will send us his views on the situation there.

THE SHERIFF'S new bloodhound ‘Red’ will meet the public on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. at Barra Winery, 7051 N. State St., Redwood Valley, during the first Public Safety Appreciation Barbecue. The barbecue is a benefit for the Mendocino Public Safety Foundation, a non-profit that was set up in 2011 to raise funds to help local law enforcement and to build stronger ties between peace officers and the public they serve. The Foundation's first grant paid for Red. Another purchase by the Foundation will be greeting the public too. This is "Avatar," a tactical robot that allows police to enter and search a crime scene without endangering personnel. All this and a demonstration of K-9 dogs in action seizing and restraining a "suspect." The event will be hosted by Sheriff Tom Allman. Tickets are $10 per individual and $25 per family and are available at the door and at Selzer Realty, Mendocino Book Company and Schat's Courthouse Bakery.

THE FORT BRAGG woman killed Monday night as she crossed Highway One has been identified as Harriet Louise Crowell, 58. Clad in dark clothing, Ms. Crowell was hit by a Mazda RX-7 as she crossed the highway north of the Fern Creek Road intersection. The driver of the 1987 Mazda was identified as Fort Bragg resident Ezequil Sanchez, 20 who was traveling at an estimated 55 mph, and did not see Crowell in the road. Drugs and alcohol are not considered to be factors in the crash, the CHP said.

FIRE IN THE BACKYARD, by Katy Tahja.

In Comptche there’s nothing like a wave of fire exploding across your neighbor’s fields headed for your home to instill a love for friends, CalFire, and your local volunteer fire department.

At home alone, with my husband on jury duty in Ukiah and my daughter off visiting friends locally, the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD) pager went off with a call out to fight a grass fire. Within ten minutes our 44 acres were smoky. I drove to the CVFD Fire House to see what was going on and found it empty of vehicles with everyone up the hill behind this building fighting fire as a home burned up there.

It’s a straight shot of open rolling dry grass meadows and timber from the Fire House on Flynn Creek to our property a mile up Comptche-Ukiah Road from the store. I raced back home to ever-increasing smoke and started turning on hoses and sprinklers. This is where the joys of living in a small town and knowing your neighbors kicked in. Cosmo Knoebber grew up with my kids. I had seen him briefly when I stopped at the firehouse and he stopped on his way home to see if I needed help. While he helped wet down buildings and yard I collected photo albums and my computer and necessities in the house. Cosmo loaded my car for me and I aimed the car for quick access down the driveway, engine running with the parking brake on, in case I needed to make a hasty evacuation to the county road. I grabbed a garden hose and with Cosmo continued spraying things down. Daughter’s car came racing up the driveway and she checked to see I was OK before she started loading possessions from her cabin.

It may not be politically correct or proper to use the term “Oh SHIT…” — but that’s what we all said as the flames advanced, standing there with our garden hoses. But HURRAH! CALFIRE with convict fire crews from Parlin Fork and Chamberlin Creek Conservation Camps came flying up the driveway and immediately started scraping fire lines around our dwelling. They suggested I evacuate, but it wasn't mandatory. I didn't.

This is a good time to remind folks about the concept your local fire department talks about called “Defensible Space.” An even more horrendous fire swept through Comptche in 1931 near our home and our family has been big believers in mowed open meadow and lawns around dwellings, barns and shops. We maintain open spaces big enough to drive fire trucks around if need be. That may very well have saved our buildings this time. Those arriving fire trucks easily maneuvered around all our structures. We also have a standpipe with plumbing fittings that can connect to a fire hose and our 2,000 gallon water storage tank. If needed the fire trucks could have connected to our water system for fire protection. They didn’t need to because an Albion-Little River Fire Department water tender showed up to help.

Fire lines scratched down to bare dirt really do work. We watched with doubt, concern and worry as the flames progressed towards our dwellings through grass, then hit the dirt and stopped. Firefighters with hoses stood just beyond that dirt demarcation line and the fire went no further on the ground. Up in the timber it was a different story. Flames would approach through the brush and duff and start up a tree. Sometimes within just one minute the entire tree would explode with plumes of fire waving over it… Then, Poof — a skeleton tree still standing on the skyline. What amazed us is that one tree in a redwood clump would do this while surrounded by four other trees that didn’t catch fire. Was it drought stricken? Dead? Who knows. One tree vanishes and others survive.

CalFire cleared small trees and cut lower limbs on big ones near the fire line for safety. When they headed towards our olive trees with chainsaws my husband, now home from jury duty, ran yelling NO! up the hill and got them to stop. Convict crews stayed all night and into the next day watching for flare ups. As I write this there is more than 1,000 feet of fire hoses going up our hill and pump motors are running 24/7 moving water up and through four tankers to mop up operations on adjoining commercial timber holdings.

I never guessed social media would play a role for us in what is now called the Flynn Fire, but it did. My son, who now lives in Chicago, first saw it on a Comptche Facebook page and called home. A member of the Albion Little River Volunteer Fire Department that arrived with the water tender remembered my son from high school here, was taking photos and e-mailing them from his phone to my son’s in Chicago. Many women friends chided me online for not evacuating when it was suggested I do so. People wanted me to post updates on Facebook. I heard from friends all over the USA in one day due to Facebook.

It was scary to go to bed Monday night. Looking out our second story windows there was fire in places up in the tops of trees glowing deep within the tree trunks 60 feet above the ground. I hope those fires don’t smolder until the fall rains. Are those trees easy to get to? Of course not. Can CalFire be sure those embers are out? I hope so.

Tuesday morning there must have been 50 firefighting vehicles parked around the CVFD firehouse. I saw someplace a figure of 400+ firefighters in town. CALFIRE was able to throw a lot of manpower and equipment on the Flynn Fire because no other major blaze was burning in northern California at this moment. Tuesday night our fields and meadows were still smoking. After the fire skipped and jumped through our meadows and trees it moved into commercial timberlands. There they fought the blaze with fire retardant dropped from six circling fixed wing aircraft. Helicopters dumped bags of water scooped out of local stock ponds on the blaze. We can’t be sure yet but we think we contributed about 15 acres to the 200 total acres burned. But it was only grass, bushes and trees that burnt. Our dwellings stand, due to our own fire prevention measure and the work of firefighters.

There is no definitive word yet on what started the fire but rumors abound. One family lost everything but the clothes on their backs as their home went up in flames. Our next door neighbor lost a barn and trailer. A major concern was for the welfare and whereabouts of horses in fenced meadows that were charred. The Comptche community knows how to work together. We learned during the 2008 Lightning Strike fires. Neighbors looked out for each other. The kitchen in the CVFD Fire House had donated food being cooked by volunteers and delivered to fire crews. “What can I do to help?” was the common phrase of the day.

What did my family learn from the Flynn Fire? I know it sounds redundant but make your home landscape fire safe. Local volunteer fire departments and online sources like the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council can supply ideas on how to do this. Make sure a full size fire truck can get up your driveway and turn around. Have your street number posted by the county road. If your water system permits it put in a hook up compatible with your local volunteer fire department and let them know you have done this. Join the local volunteer fire department! And remain confident that the friendships you develop with your neighbors up and down your road over the years are indeed important. While all the firefighters and convict crews are real heroes our neighbor Cosmo Knoebber is the Tahja family’s local hero for stopping and helping us in our time of need.

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WHERE IS YOUR LINE DRAWN? If a presidential candidate had embezzled government funds to pay off gambling debts to the Mafia…

You do draw the line at times, don’t you?

For instance, if a presidential candidate had embezzled government funds to pay off gambling debts to the Mafia, that would be a deal-killer for you, right? You’d refuse to vote for that candidate, wouldn’t you?

If a candidate lied repeatedly to the public about engaging in heroic deeds during a war and about receiving a Ph.D., you’d likely say there is just no way you could support such a candidate. Right?

Then why would you even consider voting for Barack Obama?

He has engaged in horrific, unprecedented human and civil rights abuses, including:

• the targeting of U.S. citizens for assassination without any semblance of due process;

• asserting the power to kidnap and imprison people anywhere, including U.S. citizens, for up to the rest of their lives, without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus;

• overseeing the drone killings in at least four nations, which has entailed the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent men, women, and children.

He has cow-towed to his major donors on Wall Street, bringing into his administration the same people who led the charge for the de-regulation of the financial industry that caused the 2008 economic melt-down. And he refuses to even suggest breaking up the banks considered too-big-to-fail, possibly setting us up for another economic melt-down.

He contented himself with adopting healthcare legislation drafted by the insurance industry. Obamacare (which should be called “InsuranceCompanyCare”) will result in enormous premium increases for the American people, while denying basic healthcare coverage to 30 million people. Many of those people will suffer and die as a result.

If you can draw your line at embezzlement of government funds to pay off the Mafia and lying about war experiences and one’s academic record . . . will you also draw a moral line at assassinating U.S. citizens with no due process; imprisoning people for up to the rest of their lives without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus; and killing innocent men, women, and children in other nations while creating more hatred and hostility toward the United States?

People find all sorts of reasons for not drawing a personal moral line when it comes to supporting Barack Obama.

They say it’s because he’s the lesser of two evils.

Or they say his Supreme Court appointments will be better than those who would be nominated by his main opponent.

Please consider these three compelling points (then pass them along):

1. Obama is not the lesser of two evils – he’s the more effective evil because he gets away with doing things with no Democratic opposition that, if done by a Republican president, would generate outrage nationwide, including from the Democratic Party.

Imagine, for instance, if Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were sitting around in the Oval Office deciding which suspected “militants” were to be killed in at least four other nations, knowing that hundreds of innocent civilians would be killed in the process.

The Democrats would go nuts, with congressional subpoenas and hearings, demonstrations, and calls for impeachment. However, simply because the president has a “D” on his jersey, many Democrats just complacently line up behind him. That’s the kind of blind partisanship, at the cost of core principles, that led George Washington to fear the creation of political parties in the United States.

2. It’s about the President far more than about the Supreme Court!

The Democrats (many of whom are making the “lesser-of-two-evils” argument) can be thanked for confirming Scalia (unanimous in the Senate), Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito. And now they complain we might be stuck with more right-wing justices?

It is the President, not the Supreme Court, who is shredding the Constitution, the rule of law, and human and civil rights.

It's not the Supreme Court who is refusing to apply the law to the rich and powerful (Wall Street fraudsters), war criminals (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others who approved or perpetrated torture), and those who engaged in felonious spying on US citizens' communications. It's the President.

It's not the Supreme Court that is targeting U.S. citizens for assassination without due process. It's the President.

It's not the Supreme Court that has asked for, and signed into law a bill providing, the authority to round up people (including U.S. citizens) and have them imprisoned for up to the rest of their lives with no charges, no trial, no legal assistance, and no right of habeas corpus. It's the President.

The Supreme Court is not sitting around in the oval office deciding who will be killed by drones in at least four other nations (without the consent of those nations and in violation of those nations' sovereignty), while knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children will be killed in the process. It's the President.

3. Draw your own moral line. Either you support Obama and what he's doing, or you don't. I don't -- and will do everything I can to restore the rule of law, an effective system of checks and balances, due process, the constitutional limits of war-making, and the right to be free from governmental tyranny and the horrendous abuses of civil and human rights committed during the Bush/Obama administrations.
Click here to help us get to today's goal of $5,000.
Thank you for your support – Rocky Anderson
PS. After the election, let’s keep up this fight in a broad-based people’s movement for the restoration of our democracy.

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COMMENT OF THE DAY: “The Romney election fiasco will destroy the Republican Party, just as the Whig party fell apart in the last days of Millard Fillmore. The religious nuts and Dixieland ignoranti will demand the expulsion of all non-extremists and Karl Rove will be left at the Nascar track with Honey Boo Boo on his lap and a dwindling ‘base’ of shrieking microcephalics awaiting the second coming of Adolf Hitler in a green satin Mountain Dew race-day jumpsuit. Respectable conservatives (they exist) will have to take their pleadings elsewhere, the venue or party yet-to-be determined, perhaps off-shore somewhere where the downtrodden sew blue jeans and counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags.” — Jim Kunstler


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