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Mendocino County Today: October 5, 2012

THE FLYNN FIRE was declared “95% contained” as of Thursday morning, CalFire has announced. The agency also amended the size of the blaze to 195 acres over yesterday's announced 200 acres. The fire began Monday afternoon a little after two at the home directly behind the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department on Flynn Creek Road. It destroyed that home and four outbuildings. Its cause remains under investigation. By 6pm Thursday CalFire had issued its “final incident update” saying the Flynn Fire was 100% contained. The one residence was destroyed plus a total of nine outbuildings. Fire crews were mopping up and patrolling the area for hot spots Thursday evening, while others were being released. All in all, a very good response to a fire that could easily have been much worse. CalFire suggests that area residents check out for information about how to be prepared for rural wildfires.

MULLIGAN'S BOOKS, Ukiah, now also functions as a contract post office, which is already saving lots of west side residents the long roundtrip to the town's new post office on South Orchard where long waits at two windows double the frustration of your transaction. But with Mulligan's offering basic services and the added attraction of conversation with Mulligan's gentlemanly and erudite proprietor, Dave Smith, central Ukiah now has a handy option to South Orchard.

A BODY, as yet unidentified by either name or gender, was found in a Greenfield Ranch home consumed by fire Wednesday afternoon. The home at 3800 Radical Ridge Road was believed to be occupied by a single person. Sgt. Greg Van Patten of the Sheriff's Department said that “There were no obvious signs of foul play,” but the cause of the fire is under investigation. A CalFire fire captain first on scene said the home was engulfed in flames when he arrived, and would clearly be a total loss. The investigation continues. Anyone with information about the fire is urged to contact the MCSO tip line at 234-2100.

A 79-YEAR-OLD SEATTLE MAN said to be suffering from dementia has left his assisted living facility and may be headed to Ukiah, which he regards as his hometown. Seattle Police detective David Ogard said Sherman Davis “had been talking for a couple of months about wanting to move back to his house in Ukiah, which has been sold for a year, year and a half.” The old man has been missing since September 25th and was last traced to Cottage Grove, Oregon and Oakland, Oregon on the 25th. Both towns are on I-5 in Southern Oregon, indicating that Davis had been making good time towards his old home in his 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan, Washington plate AEX0052. He is described as a 6-feet tall, gray hair, 185 pounds. Davis's daughters, Beth Lang and Cindy Davis, are traveling from Eugene to California trying to retrace their father's steps, according to a statement from the family. Please call either 911 or Detective Ogard directly at (206) 684-5007 if you have information as to Davis's whereabouts.

JUST IN FROM the HumCo Sheriff's Department, and further confirmation of yesterday's reports that transients are causing a lot of anxiety lately among the “straight” population and are the source of a large increase in police calls: “On 10-2-12 at about 10:25pm, Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a reported shooting on Redwood Drive just north of Redway. When deputies arrived, they located the victim who had been shot two times. The victim was identified as Daniel Mashburn, transient, age 46. Mashburn told deputies he had been walking in the area of Redwood Drive with his girlfriend when they were confronted by the suspect and an argument ensued. The argument escalated and the suspect drew a handgun and shot Mashburn two times. Afterwards the suspect, who Mashburn did not know, fled. Mashburn and his girlfriend provided descriptions of the suspect to deputies and California Highway Patrol Officers, who had arrived to assist.


At about 11pm a subject matching the description was located by the Highway Patrol. That subject was later positively identified as the suspect. The suspect was identified as Jack Belk, age 53, of Charlotte, North Carolina. Deputies also located the firearm. What instigated the confrontation is still under investigation. Belk was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for Attempted Murder. Bail is set at $500,000. Mashburn is still hospitalized and listed in critical condition. Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.”

A READER WRITES: “Esteemed Editeur, Such a gloomy aftermath for America, now perfectly aware that President Obama cannot incoherently stammer his way to victory over Romney next month. Maybe it's time for Democrats to hang it up, throw in the towel, and admit utter defeat. Even Rachel Maddow was reduced to unprecedented levels of semi apologetic babbling after the calamity, after which it took the Republican analyst Steve Schmidt only seconds to sum up the obvious result: that Romney had come off appearing far more Presidential than Obama. Who would have expected Romney to attack Obama from the left, and seemingly defend Medicare and Medicaid better than Obama? It was almost as though Obama was compelled by some mysterious insidious force to hand over the victory to Romney on a silver platter, much in the same fashion that my personal hero on the golf course — Tiger Woods — can often be seen handing over victories to his opponents. After it's over, one would think, ‘Come on, Tiger, you could have done better than that!’ And so it was in the debate: Obama appeared so weak and handicapped compared to the skills he demonstrated four years ago against McCain. Has Obama met his match? The only thing that will keep me from voting for Romney is that I know that it would be totally insane for a working class person like myself to vote for a one-percenter like Romney, or for any other Republican. So, I conclude with this plea to allow Obama to muddle through another four years, as the frying pan is doubtlessly no more uncomfortable than being dumped directly into the fire. — Ken Ellis, New Bedford, Massachussetts.”

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR IN DENVER. Presidential Stage Fright. by Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair.

See the man with the stage fright / 
Just standin’ up there to give it all his might.
 / And he got caught in the spotlight,
 / But when we get to the end
 / He wants to start all over again.

–”Stage Fright,” The Band

The manifestations of last night’s presidential debate have finally set in and we can’t help but imagine how dull and annoying the celebration inside the inner sanctum of Romney’s camp must be. We can only hope that the lowly staffers and interns swarming around their Republican chieftains were sneaking off with their miniature bottles of booze to indulge in safe quarters away from the Mormon leader. We say this with experience as one of us knows first hand just how mundane an LDS soirée can be, having flirted with their offspring long ago.

Lunesta would have likely been more stimulating than Obama and Romney exchanging handshakes on issues ranging from Medicare to taxes. It was clear Obama, ill-prepared and perhaps on a sedative himself, was not expecting much in the way of competition. Typically reserved and aloof in front of the bright lights and big cameras, Obama was cool to the point of frigidity. Lost without his teleprompter, Obama stumbled over his talking points on numerous occasions. Romney on the other hand, with no stately matters on his desk as he awakens except to worry about the fluctuations of his blind trust, had been prepping for Obama for the past month. But even that doesn’t explain his hyper-aggressiveness. Perhaps someone slipped him his first cup of coffee in the Green Room.

As per usual, the Republican primary debates were far more entertaining, especially the early set, with Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul on stage — expanding the discourse and humor far beyond the yawning Lehrer affair.

Which brings us to the moderator Mr. Jim Lehrer. If Obama looked sedate, moderator Jim Lehrer seemed pre-embalmed. This other Big Bird of PBS was forced to smirk as Romney assured him he’d pull the public funds form his salary. Less of a moderator and more like a grandfather that has too much back pain to wrestle with the youngsters, Lehrer put forth one of the worst performances in presidential debate history. An inept and deferential interviewer, Lehrer failed to prod the two out of their comfort zones. Several times Lehrer assured the audience that, yes, indeed these two in fact differ (Even when, bizarrely, Obama admitted that he and Romney shared the same position on gutting Social Security — true no doubt, but you’d think that Obama would at least try to pretend there was space between their entrenched neoliberal positions.). A lot. How? Just take their word for it. Next question.

Real issues? Hardly. The topic of the night was allegedly domestic policy. You know, all those things that impact our daily lives. Romney loves coal. Obama supports it too, just a little less so. The deficit? Bad stuff. Taxes, that’s a necessary evil folks, so suck it up millionaires and let us spend. Is the economy on the rebound? We sure do love Wall Street, anyhoo. Obama couldn’t pounce, or worse, wouldn’t. Romney was in the driver’s seat for the whole 90-minute ride, with Lehrer and Obama in the backseat passing each other the bong. Pull the plug on PBS? No problem, just give me another pull on that thing, man.

Having more time to respond to the ‘questions’ proved to mean very little. Obama had a whole four extra minutes to attack Romney. But why didn’t he, you ask? Because Obama isn’t even quite sure how to attack or on what grounds he should proceed. He’s a passive-aggressive personality, with the emphasis on passive. (The aggression Obama reserves for the left-wing of his party, particularly black left wingers.) Typically Obama’s popularity and arrogance matter far more than any sort of tangible substance. Last night Mitt was the new jock in town — more arrogant and jacked up to drive his way to the hoop.

It’s certainly difficult to imagine that we are going to be forced to suffer through two more of these filthy galas — not counting the Biden/Ryan match coming up next week. Vice presidential spars are always far more contentious and entertaining. With only one outing they will have more to prove and a better arena to do it in. Issues of course are of little matter, it’s pure fun and games.

Outside the debate last night in Colorado, two well-meaning progressive presidential candidates spoke with Amy Goodman in a mock debate format. Their points were made clearly and articulately. Jill Stein of the Green Party, as well as Mr. Independent Rocky Anderson, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City, were full of concerns (dismantle the big banks and end the wars, for starters) that need to be heard but never will as long as Jim Lehrer and the Commission on Presidential Debates conspire to exclude reasonable dissent.

(Joshua Frank is author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, and of Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format. He can be reached at Jeffrey St. Clair’s latest books are Born Under a Bad Sky and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format. He can be reached at: Courtesy,


The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP), the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Tribe of the Rohnerville Rancheria sponsored a dive of the lower Eel River to count the early run of fall Chinook salmon on Friday, September 28. Volunteers with little experience joined teams with seasoned divers, including experienced fisheries consultants and staff from the Wiyot Environmental Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service.

Two teams of ten covered pools from below Fernbridge to the River Lodge and the second pools extending upstream to Weymouth Bluffs above the Van Duzen River. Only 75 adult Chinook salmon were counted, 18 small male “jack” Chinook, 54 adult steelhead and 294 “half pounder” steelhead were counted. Counts likely substantially under-estimated the Chinook salmon numbers because of unexpected factors that confounded getting an accurate count.

The Eel River closes to catch-and-release angling on October 1 unless the Eel River is flowing at 300 cubic feet per second (cfs), but prior to that date fishing can occur in very low flows. Although the Eel River was only flowing at 63 cfs at Scotia, according to the US Geologic Survey gauge there, anglers were out in full force and even prevented the lower dive team from entering some pools where fish held. Other pools where fish were concentrated had no visibility due to algae dislodged by fishermen.

The flow of the Eel and its tributaries is approximately half of the long term averages for the date despite rainfall being in the range of normal. Thick mats of algae line the shore of the lower Eel River and potential toxic blue-green algae species can be intermixed. Divers in the Weymouth Pool below Howe Creek encountered floating algae mats and many contracted swimmer’s itch. Thick mats of algae also cover the stream bottom and could create adverse conditions for salmon and steelhead, such as depressed dissolved oxygen. Vandals broke into one of the ERRP vehicles off East Ferry Road and stole a gear bag containing project dive gear and masks and snorkels.

The Eel River Recovery Project is a volunteer based organization that wants to help collect better water quality and fisheries data on the Eel River and to support grassroots restoration. The condition of the lower Eel River would suggest that water conservation and nutrient pollution prevention are necessary to help it regain its health. The next dive is scheduled for Saturday, October 13. Unless flow conditions change before then, only lower pools will be censused. Divers will again meet River Lodge at 8:30am, but anyone interested in volunteering should check in before with ERRP Volunteer Coordinator Pat Higgins at 707 223-7200. See for more information.

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