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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, April 7, 2022

Heat | Albion Pier | Ren Oschin | MCHCD Meeting | Redwood Summer | AV Rental | Morris Caraway | Yes M | County Failures | Andersons | Mo Snippets | Nancy March | Bari Mobile | Soloman Interview | Approval Schmapproval | Dennis Peron | McFaul Caption | Cat Trapping | Spring Break | Not Well | Vlad Lenin | Ukraine | Free People | Migrant Benefits | Newlyweds | MAC Feast | Mental Aid | Yesterday's Catch | Presidio Gate | Hospice Oversight | Red Carpet | Fish Opening | Sunday Best | November 22 | Dismantling Racism

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ANOTHER PLEASANT DAY with above normal temperatures and light winds is store for today. Cooler weather with blustery northerly winds will make a return on Friday and persist through the weekend. A cold front will bring rain and mountain snow on Monday. Another front may bring additional shower activity with snow in the mountain around mid next week. (NWS)

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1911 Albion Panorama

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CHUCK WILCHER relays the sad news that long time coast resident Ren Oschin passed away Tuesday. She was 78. She was a good soul and will be missed by many.

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SPECIAL MEETING, Mendocino Coast Health Care District

Thursday, April 7th: Closed Session 5 PM; Open Session  6 PM

Join Zoom Meeting:

Please join us,

Norman de Vall <> 357.5555

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Anderson Valley beautiful location, private, 500 sq.ft single wide totally renovated, very clean. Deck, garden, bedroom, complete bathroom with tub and shower, living room, full kitchen, sunny. Close to store and post office, lots of hiking. One person, cat ok. $1200/mo plus $1500 security deposit. PG&E and propane extra. Employment and landlord references. Long term rental-minimum 1 year lease, no dogs. Available May 1st. Call 707 89852291.

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by Cat Spydell

You probably knew him even if you never caught his name. You likely saw him driving his red Mustang on the 128. Maybe you saw his huge white fluffy dog named Tinkerbell in that car (sister to the big white dog named Max that used to be seen at Anderson Valley Farm Supply). You definitely heard his loud stereo jamming hard rock and roll, most likely ACDC, if you knew him, and you likely saw his tie-dye shirt, his white beard, his sly grin, and maybe you even knew him by his name, Morris Caraway. Whatever you knew about Morris, you may not know that Heaven gained a new angel last week when Morris passed away in the Cloverdale Healthcare Center at the age of 75.

Morris moved to Philo in May 2019 from the Los Angeles area, where he worked in the San Fernando Valley as a property manager for the last couple of decades of his life. He left his LA life to retire and come live here in Mendocino County, moving to our off-grid property in the redwoods sight unseen, although we’d had a lot of discussions about the country lifestyle before his move. I did my best to prepare him. I too had been living in LA for years to be near family and moved back to Mendocino County in 2019 once my kids were grown and my elderly mother passed away.

Morris showed up in Philo driving an overly large moving truck carrying all of his belongings to settle into a small Komfort trailer with his favorite person, his girlfriend Diane. They were coming to be my new property managers and tenants and of course, friends, on the acreage in the deep woods we all call Dragonwood Retreat.

I first saw Morris in 2013, before he and Diane started dating, in LA when I was at a music event in Malibu. He was there early, chatting with the band (a renowned LA band called Cubensis) and snapping photos of the crowd. It was my first time seeing Cubensis since my college days. My youngest child had just turned 18 and I was starting to go out on the town, and in fact went with a “dad friend” (my daughter’s best friend’s dad named Ben) to that show. I noticed Morris right away, with his trusty camera in hand. He fit right into the scene in his orange tie-dye shirt and matching Vans tennis shoes. It turned out he was the “paparazzi” of the local music scene and was known for posting hundreds of photos of bands and crowds having fun on his Facebook page of every music event he attended, which was a lot, several shows a month. Sometimes several shows in a weekend! Ben and I ended up in a photo he took that night in Malibu when I first saw Morris, even though we didn’t become friends with him or see his Facebook page photos until we met him in person a few weeks later at a show in Hermosa Beach.

Over the months that followed I went to shows every weekend, so I became close to Morris, along with our friend Ben, and two other friends, Jenn and Alan. We were all single at the time, and we all got along really well and started hanging out together. Our age ranges had a thirty year span, but we were all very close and watched out for each other as we became part of the live music show circuit in LA. Collectively the five of us acquired the name the Wolf Pack, mostly because we always showed up in a “pack” as we carpooled to most shows, except Morris, who always drove himself in his trusty red Mustang since he lived further away in the valley and the rest of us lived in the South Bay beach cities. We all heard awesome music every weekend, followed bands with fun names like WTFB, Strawberry Moon, The Isms, and Like Zeppelin. We met great friends, and Jenn and Ben started their own bands and music careers during that time. Meanwhile Morris took photos and chronicled our lives in the fast lane. Morris, or Mo as we called him, was always optimistic, opinionated, and a good person to have by your side through it all.

Our lives changed dramatically when Morris, Diane and I left the LA scene and moved to Philo. We still saw as much local music as possible here, and would drive sometimes to Terrapin in San Rafael and the Sweetwater in Mill Valley to see bands like Jerry’s Middle Finger, Midnight North, and other bands from our previous area. When the epidemic hit in 2020, the music scene came to a grinding halt, but we were already out of the loop for the most part.

Morris adapted well to country living and he was my other pair of hands on the property as he helped out at my animal rescue known as Pixie Dust Ranch. He had a way with our cantankerous adult male peacock named Rad, took good care of the ancient curse-breaking pygmy goat, Buttercup, as well as the grumpy Nubian goat named Fern. Morris was my dog Drinian’s best friend until the day that wonderful dog passed of old age, and Morris helped us with our elderly pony Dale in the horse’s final days as well. When our new young guardian dogs arrived pregnant and had an unexpected litter of Colorado Mountain Dog pups, Morris found the white squirmy newborn puppies in a redwood tree grove, and helped get the pups and mama dog moved indoors. The puppies, ten in all, adored Morris. We called him the Dogfather. That winter the young pups would all run from wherever they were in their indoor pen toward Morris whenever he walked into the Aframe cabin. We discovered he secretly gave them bites of Ritz crackers and that he had a relationship with every single one of the Pixie Dust Ranch Terrific Ten pups. He claimed Tinkerbell, the runt of the litter, early on as his own special girl pup and kept her. Tinkerbell and Morris were inseparable.

Aside from being a dogfather, Morris was also a tough guy. Though he was a marine in Vietnam, he didn’t usually talk about his time in the war, but when he did, you knew that it was a miracle that he was sitting there able to tell the tales. He had seen a lot, done a lot, and had a good attitude in general about life. He ran full-throttle all the time. Morris was boisterous, happy, and wise.

Morris lived in the Cloverdale care facility since he had a stroke in June 2021. During his stroke event here at Dragonwood, he was picked up by our adept 911 responders and air lifted to the hospital in Ukiah. He pulled through and he was moved to the Cloverdale facility where he was starting to learn to walk again, using his 'can do' spirit he likely learned in the Marine Corps. Ultimately it was complications from pneumonia that took Morris from us.

Aside from Diane, who visited Morris often during his months in the Cloverdale nursing home and sometimes brought Tinkerbell to visit him, Morris leaves behind a son, Joey, and his sister Ann, and three granddaughters, and a niece and two nephews, and his wolf pack full of dear friends, and the music community who loved him. We were all lucky to have Morris at shows with his camera. He will be greatly missed by those who knew him well.

That guy I have known and run around with since 2013, and yes, the man I have actually howled at the moon with many times, stayed as long as he could and fought to the very end. On the next full moon listen closely, because you may be able to hear me howling at it again in tribute to my wolf pack brother and confidant. You will be missed my dear friend. Morris, may the four winds blow you safely home.

Rest in Peace Morris Caraway, October 19, 1946 — March 29, 2022.

(Cat Spydell lives in Anderson Valley, She can be reached at Her books are available on Amazon:

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by Mark Scaramella

Commenting on our partial list of failures at the end of our report about the lack of Dispatch conolidation follow-up, an on-line reader asked: “I want to hear more failures and so does the general public.”

Sure. But first let’s review the original list:

Failure to deal with non-reimbursable mental health and drug-addled residents as Measure B called for.

Picking a pointless fight with the Sheriff over computer independence and liability for ordinary budget overruns.

Failure to enforce Measure V to reduce standing dead tree fire hazards, consigned to the County Counsel’s office two years ago and never mentioned again.

Failure to revise the pot ordinance after their latest use-permit proposal was withdrawn in the face of a pending local initiative, leaving the County and well-meaning applicants in permanent limbo.

Failure to plan or budget for their ill-considered consolidated Chief Financial Officer office despite voting it into existence with no plan or analysis.

Failure to convene their Public Safety Advisory Board despite its incorporation in County Code more than a year ago.

Failure to follow advisory Measure AG which was supposed to allocate the majority of pot tax revenues to Mental Health, Roads, Emergency Services and enforcement. In fact, nobody has even asked for a tally of those revenues for purposes of proper allocation.

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To that list, on request, we now add:

Failure to set up permanent emergency operations center so that disasters can be responded to quickly.

Failure to develop a single project to submit for grant funding to mitigate drought.

Failure to provide promised paramedic subsidy to local ambulance services.

Failure to get Measure B funded Redwood Valley remodeled church/training facilty up and running.

Failure to fill critical third position authorized and funded for mobile crisis response.

Wasting about $80k on a “strategic plan” that a large percentage of their own employees described as “a waste of time” while saying they are operating on an “austerity budget.”

Failure to set up a re-established water agency in a timely manner despite drought emergency — $330k consulant will only deliver a ‘work plan” by August afer which no one has any idea what will happen or when or how much more it will cost.

Failure to impose water restrictions on local water agencies.

Failure to set up a budget line item for Sheriff’s overtime so that overtime can be managed and planned for as incidents occur, instread threatening the Sheriff with personal liability for overtime.

Failure to provide monthly departmental budget and status reports to the Board and public.

Failure to plan for significant impact of new courthouse on affected county offices: DA, Public Defender, Probation, Sheriff.

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IN A HOURS-LONG INSIGNIFICANT DISCUSSION of a guard rail Caltrans proposal on Highway 1 at Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Glenn McGourty offered this pearl of wisdom: “I also live on a beautiful road that has very narrow shoulders and is a favorite of cyclists and people who walk including me, so having a safe place to walk and bike I think is something I consider to be a real virtue for accessability for people and while I really appreciate the folks in the neighborhood caring about the beautiful headlands area that they have, I also appreciate safety.”

Which ranks right up there with McGourty’s odd statement to the State Water board back in 2009 when they were considering requiring inland grape growers to prepare their own water extraction plans and pumping schedules to reduce fish kills from strandings caused by massive simultaneous frost protection pumping from the Russian River.

McGourty: "Regulations never work. Look at Marijuana. It's illegal as heck and yet we have marijuana all over northern California and our county in particular. So people don't necessarily go along with regulation.”

Mr. McGourty now sits as a County Supervisor considering various regulations that he says “never work,” because, apparently, “people” (his constituents) “don’t necessarily go along with regulation.”

Thank you, Supervisor. You can go back to sleep now.

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Gus and Lizzie Anderson, 1922

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SUPERVISOR MULHEREN (Ukiah) Report Snippets:

On Wednesday morning I had an Interview with KZYX about the two suspected murders in Ukiah. We have a lot of work to do as a community around homelessness and mental health. I would like to discuss this anytime and hope you will come to my next Zoom meeting on Thursday at 7:15a-7:45a.

I had a meeting about Public Health and Prevention programs.

At our MTA [Mendocino Transit Authority] meeting we continued to discuss capturing various grant funds and trying to improve services to our community. Do you ride the MTA? What are your thoughts? [A better question would be does Supervisor Mulheren ride the MTA?]

I was invited to a Courthouse Meeting about the new Courthouse. It’s exciting to hear that this project is moving forward. There will be more to come about the design of the Courthouse and community meetings as well as what to do with the "current" Courthouse.

MCAFD [Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts] meeting in Anderson Valley we discussed the upcoming public meeting with LAFCO [Local Area Formation Commission] for the CSA 3 as well as how we could find funding for ambulance service.

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NANCY DAY MARCH passed away March 17, 2022 after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.

Nancy was born August 21, 1930 in Oakland, California to Floyd and Amy Day. Her youth was spent living in Oakland and spending summers in Potter Valley with cousins and aunts and uncles. Nancy attended Mill's College in Oakland before a chance meeting with John March, a local farmer, in Potter Valley. After a brief courtship, the two were married in Alameda in 1949. Not long after, they moved back to the family ranch in Potter Valley where they spent 63 years of marriage together. In that time Nancy and John had two sons, John (Johnny) Langdon March Jr. and Charles (Chuck) Edwin March. For 26 years she worked for Bank of America and was extremely active in the community and in educational outlets. She was an integral force in getting Potter Valley Unified School District back up and running in the mid 70's, worked tirelessly to help start Mendocino Community College and sat on the board of trustees for several years. Nancy was also an active member of the Potter Valley Methodist Church, local P.E.O chapters, Soroptimist International, Redwood Empire Fair and ran the Potter Valley High School's Pickle Scholarship for 22 years.

Nancy is preceded by husband John L March and son Johnny L March Jr. She is survived by son Chuck E. March, grandson John March and wife Grace, and two great granddaughters.

A memorial will be held Saturday April 9, 2022 at 2pm at the Potter Valley Methodist Church, refreshments and snacks to follow. Donations may be made in Nancy's honor to the Potter Valley Methodist Church and Mendocino Historical Society- Held-Pogue.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Judi Bari's Car, Oakland, California, May 24, 1990

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"Heroes and Patriots" returns to KMUD on Thursday, April 7, at 9 AM, Pacific Time, with leading progressive journalist, media critic, activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate, Norman Solomon. 

John Sakowicz and Mary Massey are our hosts. 

Solomon is a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and serves as its executive director. Solomon's weekly column, "Media Beat", was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009. In 2012, Solomon ran for Congress in California's 2nd congressional district. He attended the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions as a Bernie Sanders delegate. Since 2011, he has been the national director of 

KMUD simulcasts its programming on two full power FM stations: KMUE 88.1 in Eureka and KLAI 90.3 in Laytonville. It also maintains a translator at 99.5 FM in Shelter Cove, California. We also stream live from the web to a national audience at 

Speak with our guests live and on-the-air at: KMUD Studio (707) 923-3911

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A READER WRITES: We agree entirely with your position re the new courthouse. One of your letter writers asked why the citizens haven't been asked their opinions. How about setting up a survey in the paper requesting our opinions? Although they seem to be irrelevant on many things, at least it would give us a place to vent. After all, whether it's county, state or federal money paying for the new garbage, er, courthouse building, in the end it is our money.

ED NOTE: The new courthouse proponents, a single retired judge, explains that the state judicial council enjoys a sort of automatic eminent domain status that allows cush new quarters for their majesties to proceed without public approval, further arguing that since the Ukiah City Council hasn't opposed the project and its democratically elected… Even by Mendo's low bar standards, if a new county courthouse were put to a vote it would be slam-dunked. Nobody wants this thing except the judges and the outside (of course) contractors who will get the work.

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Dennis Peron, 1970s

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A READER WRITES: Photo mis-identification. I'm always amazed where conflicting captions come from? The photo in Mendocino County Today 4/6/22 shows a McFaul in 1913 in a Schacht auto. The car is correct as to make, but not model, but the year of the car, the location its wrong. The photo is at Union Landing up by Westport—where McFaul did indeed have a mill. The car is a 1906. Rope is entwined around the rear wheels to improve traction on muddy roads. I’m always curious to know how captions get mixed up.

ED REPLY: Late nights plus volume of material plus obscurity of local history plus old age plus Makers Mark equals the occasional error.

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by Justine Frederiksen

The Ukiah Police Department is investigating allegations that cats in a Ukiah neighborhood were rounded up and possibly disposed off after a woman reported finding one of her pets inside a trap in the back of a vehicle.

Aphrael Dunston said she began searching her neighborhood for one of her cats, 10-year-old Snowball, when he went missing on March 19.

“And we heard a cat crying,” said Dunston, explaining that she then found another one of her cats in a trap in the back of a truck parked near a neighbor’s house. She said she was able to free that cat, named Roo, then confronted the owner of the vehicle and called the police.

A poster in Riverside Park offering a reward for the return of Snowball. (Justine Frederiksen – Ukiah Daily Journal)

When a Community Services Officer responded, Dunston said she was told it is not illegal to trap a stray animal which enters your property, as long as you then take them to an animal shelter. However, Dunston said both Snowball and the other cat were “clearly not strays, as they had collars and were well-fed.”

Dunston said she has checked both the Mendocino County Animal Care Services shelter in Ukiah and the Humane Society of Inland Mendocino County shelter in Redwood Valley for Snowball, and has not found the cat at either facility. Dunston claims that when she asked the man about Snowball she was told, “He’s gone.”

When asked if she knew why Roo had been trapped, Dunston said the man said the cat had been disturbing birds. When asked if any neighbors had previously requested she keep her cats off their property, Dunston said they hadn’t.

Another neighbor who asked not to be named said one of his cats also went missing in mid-March, and he was contacted by Dunston after posting about his pet on social media. He said he also has been checking both the Ukiah and Redwood Valley shelters for his missing cat without finding it.

Given what Dunston said happened to her cat, the other cat owner said he took a picture of his missing cat to the truck driver and asked if it was “one of the cats you trapped.” He reports that the man said, “I trapped a cat, not plural.”

Both Dunston and the other cat owner said they now keep all their other cats inside at all times out of fear they also will go missing.

When asked about the allegations involving illegal cat trapping, UPD Lt. Andy Phillips said he could not reveal many details as the case was an active investigation, but “we are attempting to determine if there were any violations. If so, we will submit the report to the (Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office) for review.”

Phillips explained that given the social media posts regarding the alleged cat-trapping incident(s), “there is a lot of rumoring and assumptions that are factually incorrect. We are working to identify factually what occurred and will proceed from there.”

He noted that “anyone who traps a feline within the city of Ukiah can contact our department to have it transported to the Animal Shelter, or can contact the Animal Shelter to seek guidance from them. Of course if the feline has a collar or some sort of identifying information, the person should attempt to contact the owner. The Humane Society has some very helpful information regarding free-roaming cats, trapping and information for cat owners regarding how to avoid your pet being trapped.”

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Spring Break, California, 1947

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Dear Editor,

Is the American two-party system still alive and well? The current arch-right, anti-Black, antisemitic strangle-hold on the Republican Party - the party of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, John McCain and H. W. Bush - is alarming to say the least. Do we need another Jan. 6th insurrection or armed assault on the US Capitol Building? What will it take for the public to realize that the very existence of our Democratic Republic’s very survival is under a clear and present internal threat?

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

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THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH OF LENIN was in May 1923, months before he died, with his doctor and his sister.

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US unveils new sanctions on Russia as European Union weighs further measures, including a ban on coal imports.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says horrific scenes in Bucha, near Kyiv, do not “look far short of genocide”.

NATO chief says Russian President Vladimir Putin is still seeking to “control the whole of Ukraine”.

Red Cross leads the evacuation of hundreds of people from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia.

— Al Jazeera

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IN EARLY 19TH CENTURY NEW ORLEANS, marriage within the city’s society of free people of color was widespread. “Marriage, not concubinage, was the tradition that New Orleans free people of color established and perpetuated,” writes historian Emily Clark. Between 1810 and 1819 alone, some 160 Black New Orleanians were married in the city’s Catholic churches, and they did so for a variety of reasons. Often, they sought to fight against the stereotypes of being lascivious and indecent that were leveraged against Black and mixed-race people by demonstrating their respectability according to European social standards.

Furthermore, the otherwise racially restrictive 1806 civil code adopted in New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase stipulated that parents could retroactively legitimize their children’s births by presenting a marriage certificate. Oftentimes, particularly before the American occupation of Louisiana, marriages were witnessed and supported by prominent Black militiamen that were pillars of free Black society. In the 1790’s, legendary Black militiaman Noel Carriere was a witness at 18 different weddings, and by the time of his death in 1804 the number surpassed 30. As Emily Clark writes, “Free New Orleanians of color began to whittle away at pejorative presumptions of their immorality and political sympathies with their resolute march into matrimony.”

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Paula Cortez Medrano has worked in the agriculture industry since she arrived in the U.S. over 25 years ago.

She has labored in the heat of Fresno summers, picking onions, tomatoes, grapes, and garlic and in the freezing temperatures of local produce packing houses, where she would wear two layers of pants to stay warm while assembling frozen fruits and vegetables to be sold in grocery stores across the country.

She contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic and was sent home from work with only two weeks of paid sick leave. It took her 40 days to recover, but when she returned to her packing house job, she was turned away.

“They told me that they had no more work for me, that it was really slow,” she said in Spanish in an interview with The Bee.

The 66 year-old said she thinks she was turned away because of her age; they never called her back to work. Today, she sells tamales as a street vendor in central Fresno, earning an average of $80 a day, much less than the $15 per hour she earned in the packing house.…

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“Mom, Dad. I'd like you to meet my husband.”

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Monday, April 18, 5pm-8pm at Cafe Beaujolais

A fundraising dinner for the Mendocino Art Center’s Artists in Residence Program

Join the Mendocino Art Center for a three-course meal amid the beautiful gardens at Cafe Beaujolais and celebrate our Artists in Residence, who give so much of themselves to the Mendocino Art Center!

Menu choices and to purchase online:

The Feast for the Arts is a night to celebrate our Artists in Residence for their contributions to MAC and the community during their residencies, and raise funds to provide opportunities for residents to travel to conferences, take workshops through the Art Center, and deepen their studio practice by providing materials as well as studio space.

All proceeds from the Feast for the Arts will directly benefit our Artists in Residence Program.

The Artists in Residence (AIR) program is a core part of the Mendocino Art Center. Each year we bring artists from across the country and even the world to Mendocino for eight months. The artists bring a perspective and skill set built on their unique experiences to the Art Center which exposes our community to the broader art world. The energy and inspiration each resident brings is invaluable — their work decorates the MAC campus, they teach classes, share their ideas and perspectives, and their presence infuses the Art Center with new life each year.

Thank you to Cafe Beaujolais for their generosity in providing their beautiful gardens for dining, and their kitchen facilities for preparing this exquisite meal.

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RECOGNIZE WARNING SIGNS of mental health problems and substance use disorders in youth. Join MCOE’s Youth Mental Health First Aid training Thursday, 4/14, 9-2. Free for Mendocino and Lake County residents. No experience or background in counseling or mental health is necessary. Register here.

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. This 6-hour training gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

The Virtual MHFA training is comprised of two sessions – a 2 hour online self-paced session, followed by a 4.5 hour instructor-led training. All participants MUST complete the self-paced online training before being allowed in to the instructor-led training. The training date listed is for the instructor-led training. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 6, 2022

Amrull, Byrne, Cook

ILEANA AMRULL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

KYLE BYRNE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

AMBER COOK, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

Goforth, Hamilton, Lavenduskey, Munoz

WILLIAM GOFORTH, Willits. Failure to appear.

ELIJAH HAMILTON, Fort Bragg. Elder abuse, assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, failure to appear.

RITA LOUISE LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-drugs&alcohol.

ORLANDO MUNOZ, Ukiah. County parole violation, resisting.

Retallick, Russell, Scardino, Stoll

JOSHUA RETALLICK, Ukiah. Resisting.

MATTHEW RUSSELL, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.

ALDO SCARDINO, Cobb/Ukiah. Paraphernalia, parole violation.

GIOVANNI STOLL, Laytonville. Battery.

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Military police surge against Iron Gate of San Francisco Presidio April 6, 1969 and close them against anti-Vietnam war demonstrators. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

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by Emily Hoeven

California’s “weak” oversight of the hospice care industry has “enabled” rampant fraud and abuse that has cost the state and the federal Medicare program millions of dollars while endangering extremely vulnerable patients, according to a scathing report last week from Acting State Auditor Michael Tilden.

The audit found that over the past 11 years, California saw a staggering 400% increase in hospice providers — which generally serve very sick patients with a life expectancy of six months or less — even though the need for such care only increased 40%. Los Angeles County notched a 1,600% boom in hospice care providers, with more than 150 licensed businesses registered in a single Van Nuys building — a number beyond its physical capacity.

Other key takeaways:

• 94% of California’s 2,836 hospice care providers are for-profit — the highest percentage in the country and a stark change from 2007, when nonprofits ran the vast majority of the state’s hospice care.

• Hospice patients have been discharged at “abnormally high rates,” meaning providers may be enrolling ineligible patients to make money. Los Angeles County providers in 2019 likely overbilled Medicare by an estimated $105 million and Medi-Cal — the state’s health care program for the poor — by at least $3.1 million.

• The state Department of Public Health’s “perfunctory” licensing process “does little to verify that personnel are qualified or prevent fraud.” Indeed, investigators found evidence that some providers appeared to use “stolen identities” of medical personnel to obtain licenses. (The Department of Public Health has also been blasted for lackluster oversight of nursing home licensing, as CalMatters’ Jocelyn Wiener has reported.)

• State Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat who called for the audit, told Ana that lawmakers should extend a moratorium, set to expire in a year, on licenses for new hospice care businesses unless they can demonstrate a significant need for such services in their area.

• The public health department told Ana that it “has already begun to operationalize several of the recommendations made in the audit,” though it said many other reforms will require legislative action.


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FISHING 'ON FIRE' during salmon season's opening weekend on Northern California coast

by Dan Bacher, 

Despite windy weather, salmon fishing was excellent for many anglers who ventured out on private craft and charter boats on the opening weekend of salmon season off Bodega Bay, San Francisco and Half Moon Bay and inside Monterey Bay.

Bodega Bay: Rick Powers, Captain of the New Sea Angler, found a large concentration of Chinook salmon off the Sonoma County Coast on opening day.

The 19 anglers aboard the New Sea Angler landed 32 Chinook salmon to 16 pounds, along with losing numerous fish, while trolling anchovies over 40 to 45 fathoms of water. On the following day, the 18 anglers bagged 9 salmon to 13 pounds.

“There are a lot of fish in front of Bodega Bay,” said Powers. ”As soon as the weather lays down, fishing should be on fire.”

Rockfishing has also been productive, with the 10 anglers aboard the New Sea Angler catching 100 rockfish on April 1.

The Reel Magic returned to the docks with limits of salmon for his clients on opening day. The anglers trolled with blue hoochies and bait.

“The fish were off shore and they were deep,” said Captain Merlin Kollb. “What an awesome opener, with limits today for our clients with several shorts that will fight another day.” Information: (707) 875-2628.

San Francisco Bay Area: The 16 anglers aboard Berkeley’s New Easy Rider caught 14 salmon up to 15 pounds while trolling outside of the Golden Gate on April 2. Unfortunately, high winds forced them to cancel the following day’s trip. Information: (707) 422-2050.

Jared Davis of Salty Lady Sportfishing in Sausalito opted to go for halibut and striped bass in San Francisco Bay on April 2.

“The winds and seas were not in our favor, so we decided to cancel,” said Davis. “We did a quick friends/family/crew trip. We caught a handful of halibut and a couple of stripers.” Information: (415) 548 0150.

Half Moon Bay: Michael Cabanas, Captain of the New Captain Pete, reported a “great start “ to the salmon opener, bringing in 20 salmon up to 20 lbs. for 11 anglers. “There were plenty of missed opportunities with the potential for limits,” he stated. Information: (510) 677-7054.

The 15 fishermen aboard the Queen of Hearts caught 15 salmon to 13 pounds on April 2, while the 14 anglers aboard the boat bagged 17 kings to 18 pounds and released 21 undersized salmon on April 3. Information: (650) 728-3377.

Santa Cruz:: Todd Fraser of Bayside Marine reported solid fishing for salmon at the Soquel Hole in Monterey Bay on April 2.

“The anglers were fishing around 36'51/121/57,” he explained. “The anglers also found some nice salmon at 3648/121'54. There were some limits caught before 8:00 a.m. The fish were feeding 10-50 feet down in the morning on anchovies.”

On Sunday, he reported ”hit and miss” action: “The majority of the salmon are being caught 25-80 feet down. but there have been some caught at 125-220 feet down,” Fraser stated. Information: (831) 475-2173.

Monterey: Anglers mooching with anchovies out of Chris’ Fishing Trips on the out of Fisherman’s Wharf found slow to fair action on opening weekend. The 21 anglers aboard the Caroline returned with 4 salmon, the 15 anglers on the Checkmate bagged one salmon and the 31 anglers aboard the Star of Monterey caught 13 kings on April 2.

On Sunday, the 6 anglers landed 4 salmon on the Caroline and 16 anglers aboard the Checkmate also bagged 4 kings. Rockfish action was good, with 30 anglers on the Star of Monterey checking in with limits of rockfish (300) and one lingcod. Information: (831) 375-5951.

Rio Vista Stripers: Fishing wasn’t wide open, but most boats did catch fish during the CSBA Isleton Delta Chapter Barry Canevaro Memorial Striped Bass Derby held out of the Rio Vista launch ramp on Saturday, April 2.

The target length was 25 1/2 inches and a total of 66 anglers participated. The winners were: #1-Clint Scholting 25 1/4”; #2-Mark Wilson 23 7/8”; #3-Chapin Fowler 23 1/4”; #4-Charlotte Retzlaff 23 1/8”; and #5-Neal Neal Koepke. 22 1/2” .

“The majority of the fish were caught trolling Yo-Zuris and P-Line shallow and deep diving lures,” said Ken Baccetti, derby organizer. “A few stripers were caught using 1oz. Rat-L-Traps.”

The West Bank below Rio Vista was the most popular location, while some trolled the Old Sacramento above the Isleton Bridge with no luck, and the San Joaquin with similar results, said Baccetti.

* * *

Quartet in Sunday Best, 1890

* * *

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1963, began for Lyndon Johnson in Fort Worth, with the headline he saw on the front page of the Dallas Morning News: “YARBOROUGH SNUBS LBJ.”

Johnson, accompanying President Kennedy on a tour of Texas, had been given an assignment that the President considered vital: since a unified Democratic front in the state would be needed to carry it in 1964, the Vice-President had been made responsible for healing the bitter Democratic Party rift between Governor John B. Connally, a former Johnson assistant, and Senator Ralph Yarborough, the leader of the Party’s liberal wing. The previous day, however, Yarborough had refused even to ride in the same car as Johnson. Assigned to accompany the Vice-President during a Presidential motorcade through San Antonio, the Senator had gotten into another car instead, and, in a procession in which the other vehicles behind the Presidential limousine were packed with people, Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, had had to sit conspicuously alone in the back seat of their convertible.

Newspapers that day chronicled every detail of Johnson’s humiliation. “Twice at San Antonio . . . Johnson sent a Secret Service man to invite Yarborough to ride with him in his car. Both times the senator ignored the invitation and rode with somebody else,” the Los Angeles Times reported. The Chicago Tribune noted the “curt wave of his hand” with which Yarborough had sent the Vice-President’s emissary packing. The feud was the main story of Kennedy’s trip not just in Texas but across the country. On the morning of the twenty-second, Lyndon Johnson sat in his suite at Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas with newspapers in front of him—there were four separate stories in the Dallas paper alone; one was headlined “NIXON PREDICTS JFK MAY DROP JOHNSON”—and then he had to go downstairs for a rally of five thousand labor-union members, and join Kennedy, Yarborough, Connally, and some local congressmen, all of whom had, of course, seen those stories. As they walked across the street to the rally, a light drizzle was falling. Johnson was wearing a raincoat and a hat; Kennedy was bareheaded and lithe, in an elegant blue-gray suit. Johnson hastily snatched off his hat. His assignment was to introduce Kennedy, and, as he finished, the crowd roared for the young man beside him. Explaining why Jackie wasn’t there (“Mrs. Kennedy is organizing herself; it takes longer—but, of course, she looks better than we do”), Kennedy was easy and charming. Johnson had had to ask the President for a favor: to be allowed to bring his youngest sister, Lucia, who lived in Fort Worth, to meet him. Shaking hands with Kennedy that morning, Lucia was thrilled; she had always wanted to shake hands with a President, she said.

When he had gotten dressed early that morning, Kennedy had strapped a canvas brace with metal stays tightly around him and then wrapped over it and around his thighs, in a figure-eight pattern, an elastic bandage for extra support for his bad back; it was going to be a long day. Now it was nine o’clock, time for him to deliver a breakfast speech to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in the hotel’s ballroom. “All right, let’s go,” he said.

Nine o’clock in Texas was ten o’clock back in Washington. At ten o’clock in Washington that Friday morning, at about the same time that Kennedy was entering the Fort Worth ballroom, a Maryland insurance broker named Don B. Reynolds, accompanied by his attorney, walked into Room 312 of the Old Senate Office Building, on Capitol Hill, to begin answering questions from two staff members of the Senate Rules Committee: Burkett Van Kirk, the Republican minority counsel, and Lorin P. Drennan, an accountant from the General Accounting Office who had been assigned to assist the committee.

Reynolds was there because the Rules Committee had begun investigating a scandal revolving around John-son’s protégé Robert G. (Bobby) Baker, whom Johnson, during his years as Senate Majority Leader, had made Secretary for the Majority. During the preceding two months, the scandal had been escalating week by week. In a desperate attempt to head off the investigation, Baker had resigned (he later said that if he had talked “Johnson might have incurred a mortal wound by these revelations. They could have . . . driven him from office”), but the resignation had only ignited a media firestorm that broke on newspaper front pages across the country and in sensational cover stories in major news magazines. The scandal had thus far concentrated on the man known in Washington as “Little Lyndon,” but the stories were beginning to focus more and more on Johnson himself. On the Monday of the week that Kennedy left for Texas, a lengthy and detailed article had appeared in Life—“SCANDAL GROWS AND GROWS IN WASHINGTON,” based on the work of a nine-member investigating team headed by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, William G. Lambert. It had gone beyond a recounting of Baker’s personal financial saga to make clear that, in distributing campaign contributions and in his other Senate activities, Baker had simply been “Lyndon’s bluntest instrument in running the show.” And the focus was about to sharpen that morning. Reynolds, who was Baker’s former business partner, had come to Room 312 to tell the Senate investigators about a number of Baker’s activities, one of which—the purchase of television advertising time and an expensive stereo set, in return for the writing of an insurance policy—Baker himself later called “a kickback pure and simple,” to Johnson. On the advice of his attorney, Reynolds had brought with him documents—invoices and cancelled checks—that he said would prove that assertion. Another of Baker’s activities that Reynolds began describing that morning would also turn out to be related to Johnson: an overpayment by Matthew McCloskey, a contractor and major Democratic funder, for a performance bond—an overpayment of a hundred and nine thousand dollars for a bond that had cost only seventy-three thousand dollars, with twenty-five thousand dollars of that overpayment, Reynolds later said, going to “Mr. Johnson’s campaign.”

In New York, there was also going to be a meeting that morning—of about a dozen reporters and editors in the offices of Life’s managing editor, George P. Hunt. During the past week, reporters who had been sent to Texas to investigate the Vice-President’s finances had found areas ripe for inquiry. For one thing, they had begun searching through deeds and other records of recent land sales and had found that the real-estate and banking transactions of the Johnson family’s L.B.J. Company were on a scale far greater than had previously been suspected. And other reporters were digging into the advertising sales and other activities of KTBC, the cornerstone of the Johnsons’ extensive radio and television interests, and they, too, were turning up one item after another that they felt merited looking into. “With every day that week,” the story “kept getting bigger and bigger,” Lambert said later, and it was no longer a Bobby Baker story but “a Lyndon Johnson story”: after thirty-two years “on the [government] payroll . . . he was a millionaire many times over.” But, Lambert said, so many reporters were working in Johnson City, Austin, and the Hill Country that “they were tripping all over each other.” An article laying out some of their new findings had already been written, by Keith Wheeler, a staff writer. A decision had to be made on whether to run his story in the magazine’s next issue or whether the material already in hand should be held until more was available, and combined into a multi-part series on “Lyndon Johnson’s Money”—what Lambert termed a “net worth job”—and a meeting to decide this, and to divide up the areas of investigation in Texas, had been scheduled for 11:30 A.M. on November 22nd.

As Don Reynolds was providing the Rules Committee staff with information that might shortly produce headlines, and as Life was mapping out assignments for an investigation that might produce even bigger headlines, the Presidential motorcade was pulling away from the hotel in Fort Worth for the airport, and the flight to Dallas.

In Lyndon Johnson’s lapel was a white carnation that had been pinned on him at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, and in his car was Ralph Yarborough. “I don’t care if you have to throw Yarborough into the car with Lyndon,” Kennedy had told his chief legislative aide, Larry O’Brien, that morning. “Get him in there.” He told Ken O’Donnell, his appointments secretary, to give Yarborough a message: “If he doesn’t ride with Lyndon today, he’ll have to walk.” The President himself had had a few words with the Senator that morning, telling him, in a quiet voice, that, if he valued his friendship, he would ride with Johnson.

On the thirteen-minute flight to Dallas, the President took care of another public aspect of the feud. O’Donnell, taking Connally by the arm, pushed him into Kennedy’s cabin and closed the door. “Within three minutes,” he was to recall, the Governor had agreed to invite Yarborough to the reception at the Governor’s Mansion and to seat him at the head table at dinner. Emerging, Connally said, “How can anybody say no to that man!”

As Air Force One was heading for Dallas, the last of the clouds cleared. “Kennedy weather,” O’Brien called it.

It seemed as if it was going to be a Kennedy day. As Air Force One touched down at Dallas’s Love Field, at 11:38 A.M., everything seemed very bright under the brilliant Texas sun and the cloudless Texas sky: the huge plane gleaming as it taxied over closer to the crowd pressing against a fence; the waiting, open Presidential limousine, so highly polished that the sunlight glittered on its long midnight-blue hood, which stretched forward to two small flags on the front fenders. There was a moment’s expectant pause while steps were wheeled up to the plane, and then the door opened and into the sunlight came the two figures the crowd had been waiting for: Jackie first (“There’s Mrs. Kennedy, and the crowd yells!” a television commentator shouted), youthful, graceful, her wide smile, bright-pink suit, and pillbox hat radiant in the dazzling sun; behind her the President, youthful, graceful (“I can see his suntan all the way from here!” the commentator announced), the mop of brown hair glowing, one hand checking the button on his jacket in the familiar gesture, coming down the steps turned sideways just so slightly, to ease his back. A bouquet of bright-red roses was handed to Jackie by the welcoming committee, and it set off the pink and the smile.

No time had been built into the schedule for the President and the First Lady to work the crowd, but who could have resisted, so adoring and excited were the faces turned toward them, so imploring the hands reaching out toward them, and they walked along the fence basking in the smiles and the sun, grinning, laughing, even, at things people shouted as they stretched out their hands, in the hope of a touch from theirs. “There was never a point in the public life of the Kennedys, in a way, that was as high as that moment in Dallas,” a reporter who covered the Kennedy Presidency said later.

Taking his wife, Lady Bird, by the arm to bring her along, Lyndon Johnson walked over to the fence and started to follow the Kennedys, but the faces remained turned, and the arms remained stretched, toward the Kennedys, even after they had passed, and Johnson quickly moved back to the gray convertible that had been rented for him. Yarborough sat on the left side in the back seat, behind the driver, a Texas state highway patrolman named Hurchel Jacks, the Vice-President on the right side, behind Rufus Youngblood, a Secret Service agent assigned to him. Lady Bird, sitting between Yarborough and her husband, tried to make conversation but soon gave up. The two men weren’t speaking to each other or looking at each other—the only noises in the car came from the walkie-talkie radio that Youngblood was carrying on a shoulder strap—as the motorcade pulled out.

Senate hearings normally break for lunch, but at 12:30 P.M. Washington time Reynolds, after two and a half hours of explaining his over-all business relationship with Bobby Baker, had begun telling his Rules Committee questioners, Van Kirk and Drennan, specifically about the pressures that he said had been brought on him to purchase advertising time on Lyndon Johnson’s television station, and they didn’t want him to stop. “Don presented a good case,” Van Kirk said later. “He could back it up. Everything he said, he had a receipt for. It’s hard to argue with a receipt. Or a cancelled check. Or an invoice. It’s hard to argue with documentation.” The committee staffers sent a secretary out for sandwiches and milk, and Reynolds continued talking. The first few miles of the Presidential procession followed an avenue lined with small light-industrial factories, and relatively few people were watching as the motorcade swept past: in the lead an unmarked white police car, and helmeted motorcycle-police outriders; then the Kennedys and Governor and Mrs. Connally, in the Presidential limousine with the flags fluttering from its fenders and four motorcycle escorts flanking it at the rear; then a heavily armored car that the Secret Service agents referred to as the Queen Mary, with four agents standing on the running boards, and Ken O’Donnell and Dave Powers, a White House special assistant, sitting on the jump seats; then, after a careful, seventy-five-foot gap, came the gray Vice-Presidential convertible and the Vice-Presidential follow-up car, the press cars and buses, and the rest of the long caravan. But then the motorcade reached Dallas’s downtown, and turned onto Main Street. For a while, Main was lined on both sides by tall buildings, so that the cars, driving between them, might have been driving between the walls of a canyon, and the windows of the buildings were filled, floor after floor, building after building, with people leaning out and cheering, and on the sidewalks the crowds were eight people, ten people deep. Overhead, every fifty yards or so, a row of flags hung from wires stretched across the street, and at the end of the canyon, where the buildings stopped, was a rectangle of open sky.

As the procession drove farther into the canyon, the noise swelled and deepened, becoming louder and louder, so that the motorcade was driving through a canyon of cheers. Every time the President waved, the crowd on the sidewalk surged toward him, pressing back the lines of policemen, so that the passage for the cars grew narrower, and the lead car was forced to reduce its speed, from twenty miles an hour to fifteen, to ten, to five. Every time Jackie waved a white-gloved hand, shrieks of “Jackie!” filled the air. As Governor Connally waved his big Stetson, revealing a leonine head of gray hair, the cheers swelled for him, too. The four passengers in the Presidential limousine kept smiling at one another in delight. “Mr. President, you certainly can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you!” Nellie Connally said. The President’s “eyes met mine and his smile got even wider,” she later recalled.

Trailing them in the rented car, driving between crowds of people cheering but not for him, sharing a seat with a man who had humiliated him, Lyndon Johnson was far enough behind the Presidential limousine that the cheering for the Kennedys and the Connallys—for John Connally, some of it, for his onetime assistant, who had become his rival in Texas—was dying down by the time his car passed, and most of the faces in the crowd were still turned to follow the Presidential car as it drove away from them. So that, as Lyndon Johnson’s car made its slow way down the canyon, what lay ahead of him in that motorcade could, in a way, have been seen by someone observing his life as a foretaste of what might lie ahead if he remained Vice-President: five years of trailing behind another man, humiliated, almost ignored, and powerless. The Vice-Presidency, “filled with trips . . . chauffeurs, men saluting, people clapping . . . in the end it is nothing,” as he later put it. He had traded in the power of the Senate Majority Leader, the most powerful Majority Leader in history, for the limbo of the Vice-Presidency—“WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO LYNDON JOHNSON?,” a mocking headline in The Reporter had asked—because he had felt that at the end might be the Presidency. Now there was another man who might want the Presidency: the younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General, whose dislike and contempt—“hatred” is not too strong a term—for him was well known in Washington. And in five years Bobby Kennedy would have had time to build up a record, to hold other positions besides Attorney General: Secretary of Defense, perhaps—whatever positions he wanted, in the last analysis. For more than a year now, the desolation Lyndon Johnson felt about his position had shown in his posture—in the slump of his shoulders—and in his gait, the slow steps that had replaced the old long Texas stride with which he had walked the corridors of Capitol Hill, and in his face, on which all the lines ran downward, his jowls sagging, so that reporters mocked in print his “hangdog” look. His former aide Bill Moyers, who had become the publicity director for the Kennedy in-law Sargent Shriver’s Peace Corps, felt that Johnson had become “a man without purpose . . . a great horse in a very small corral.”

And what if his Vice-Presidency wasn’t five years longer but only one? What if he was dropped from the ticket in 1964?

He had been saying for some time—had apparently convinced himself—that that was the probability. In recent months, he had begun advising aides he would have wanted to keep with him were he to run for or become President to leave his staff. “My future is behind me,” he told one staffer. “Go,” he said to another. “I’m finished.” That belief—that fear—may or may not have been justified before Bobby Baker appeared on magazine cover after magazine cover, before Don Reynolds entered the picture, and before this trip to Texas. Given what the President was seeing for himself in Texas—that Johnson was no longer a viable mediator between factions of his party in his own state—and what was happening at that very moment in the Old Senate Office Building, the President’s assurances that he would be on the ticket might start to have a hollow ring. “Finished ”: whether or not he was given another term as Vice-President, it was beginning to seem, more and more, as if there might be some justification for the adjective that he had been applying to his prospects.

Leaving behind the crowds on Main Street, the lead car, the motorcycle police, and the Presidential limousine swung right onto Houston Street and then left onto Elm, which sloped slightly downhill toward a broad railroad overpass through a grassy open space, with scattered spectators standing in it, called Dealey Plaza. In Washington, Don Reynolds was showing the Rules Committee investigators the papers that he said proved his charges about Lyndon Johnson, pushing the documents, one by one, across the witness table. In New York, the Life editors were assigning reporters to investigate specific areas of Johnson’s finances while still debating whether the magazine should run a story on Johnson’s wealth in its next issue. Ahead of the Vice-Presidential car, the spectators in Dealey Plaza began to applaud the Kennedys and the Connallys as Johnson followed in their wake.

There was a sharp, cracking sound. It “startled” him, Lyndon Johnson later said; it sounded like a “report or explosion,” and he didn’t know what it was. Others in the motorcade thought it was a backfire from one of the police motorcycles, or a firecracker someone in the crowd had set off, but John Connally, who had hunted all his life, knew the instant he heard it that it was a shot from a high-powered rifle.

Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service agent in Johnson’s car, didn’t know what it was, but he saw “not normal” movements in the Presidential car ahead—President Kennedy seemed to be tilting toward his left—and in the Queen Mary, immediately ahead of him, one of the agents was suddenly rising to his feet, with an automatic rifle in his hands. Whirling in his seat, Youngblood shouted—in a “voice I had never heard him ever use,” Lady Bird recalled—“Get down! Get down! ” and, grabbing Johnson’s right shoulder, yanked him roughly down toward the floor in the center of the car, as he almost leaped over the front seat, and threw his body over the Vice-President, shouting again, “Get down! Get down! ” By the time the next two sharp reports had cracked out—it was a matter of only eight seconds, but everyone knew what they were now—Lyndon Johnson was down on the floor of the back seat of the car. The loud, sharp sound, the hand suddenly grabbing his shoulder and pulling him down: now he was on the floor, his face on the floor, with the weight of a big man lying on top of him, pressing him down—Lyndon Johnson would never forget “his knees in my back and his elbows in my back.”

He couldn’t see anything other than Lady Bird’s shoes and legs in front of his face—she and Yarborough were ducking forward as far as they could. Above him, as he lay there, he heard Youngblood yelling to Hurchel Jacks, “Close it up! Close it up!” The Secret Service agent still wasn’t sure what had happened, but he knew that the best hope of protection was to stay close to the car ahead of him, which was packed with men and guns. Lying on the floor with Youngblood on top of him, Lyndon Johnson felt the car beneath him leap forward as Jacks floored the gas pedal, and he felt the car speeding—“terrifically fast,” Lady Bird later said, “faster and faster”; “I remember the way that car . . . zoomed,” Johnson recalled—and then the brakes were slammed on, and the tires screamed almost in his ear as the car took a right turn much too fast, squealing up the ramp to an expressway, and hurtled forward again. “Stay with them, and keep close!” Youngblood was shouting above him. The shortwave radio was still strapped to Youngblood’s shoulder, so that it was almost in Johnson’s ear. The radio had been set to the Secret Service’s Baker frequency, which kept Youngblood in touch with the Vice-Presidential follow-up car, but now Johnson heard the agent’s voice above him say, “I am switching to Charlie”—the frequency that would connect him with the Queen Mary, ahead of him. For a moment there was, from the radio, only crackling, and then Johnson heard someone say, “He’s hit! Hurry, he’s hit!,” and then “Let’s get out of here!”—and then a lot of almost unintelligible shouting, out of which one word emerged clearly: “hospital.”

He still couldn’t see what Youngblood was seeing. As the third shot rang out, a little bit of something gray had seemed to fly up out of Jack Kennedy’s head. Then his wife, in her pink pillbox hat and pink suit, which seemed suddenly to have patches of something dark on it, was trying to climb onto the long trunk of the limousine, and then clambering back into the car, where her head was bent over something Youngblood couldn’t see. A moment after the first shot, one of the agents on the Queen Mary’s running board, Clint Hill, had sprinted after the limousine as it was accelerating, leaped onto its trunk, and grabbed one of its handholds. He was now lying spread-eagled across the trunk of the speeding vehicle, but he managed to raise his head and look down into the rear seat. Turning to the follow-up car, he made a thumbs-down gesture.

The agents in the Queen Mary were waving at Jacks to stay close. The patrolman, a laconic Texan—“tight-lipped and cool,” Youngblood called him—pulled up within a few feet of the armored car’s rear bumper, and kept his car there as the two vehicles, with the Presidential limousine not many feet ahead of them, roared along the expressway and then swung right onto an exit ramp.

The man underneath Rufus Youngblood was lying very quietly, except when his body was jolted forward or back as the car braked or accelerated or swerved. His composure would have surprised most people who knew him, but not the few who had seen him in other moments of physical danger, including moments when he was under gunfire. Johnson’s customary reaction to physical danger, real or imagined, was so dramatic, almost panicky, that in college he had had the reputation of being “an absolute physical coward.” During the Second World War, he had done everything he could to avoid combat. Realizing, however, that, “for the sake of political future,” as one of Franklin Roosevelt’s aides wrote, he had to be able to say he had at least been in a combat zone, he went to the South Pacific and flew as an observer on a bomber that was attacked by Japanese Zeroes. And as the Zeroes were heading straight for the bomber, firing as they came, its crew saw Lyndon Johnson climb into the navigator’s bubble so that he could get a better view, and stand there staring right at the oncoming planes, “just as calm,” in the words of one crew member, “as if we were on a sightseeing tour.” Although his customary reaction to minor pain or illness was “frantic,” “hysterical”—he would, the Texas lobbyist Frank (Posh) Oltorf said, “complain so often, and so loudly,” about indigestion that “you thought he might be dying”—when, in 1955, in Middleburg, Virginia, a doctor told Johnson that this time the “indigestion” was a heart attack, which he had always feared, because his father and uncle had died young of heart attacks, Johnson’s demeanor changed. Lying on the floor of Middleburg’s “ambulance”—it was actually a hearse—as it was speeding to Washington, he was composed and cool as he made decisions: telling the doctor and Oltorf, who were riding in the ambulance, what hospital he was to be taken to, which members of his staff should be there when he arrived; telling Oltorf where he thought his will was, and how he wanted its provisions carried out. It was a major heart attack—when he arrived at the hospital, doctors gave him only a fifty-fifty chance of survival—and at one point during the trip Johnson told the doctor that he couldn’t stand the pain. But when the doctor said that giving him an injection to dull it would require stopping for a few minutes, and “time means a lot to you,” Johnson said, “If time means a lot, don’t stop.” There were even wry remarks; when the doctor told him that if he recovered he would never be able to smoke again, Johnson said, “I’d rather have my pecker cut off.” Lady Bird was always saying that her husband was “a good man in a tight spot.” Oltorf had never believed her—until that ambulance ride. He had thought he knew Johnson so well, he recalled; he realized on that ride that he didn’t know him at all.

Lying on the floor of the back seat with Youngblood still on top of him, Johnson asked what had happened. Youngblood said that “the President must have been shot or wounded,” that they were heading for a hospital, that he didn’t know anything, and that he wanted everyone to stay down—Johnson down on the floor—until he found out.

“All right, Rufus,” Johnson said. A reporter who asked Youngblood later to describe the tone of Johnson’s voice as he said this summarized the agent’s answer in a single word: “calm.”

A moment later, the voice on the shortwave radio told Youngblood that they were heading to Parkland Memorial Hospital, and the agent, shouting, he later recalled, against the noise of the wind and the wail of police sirens, told Johnson what to do when they arrived: he was to get out of the car and into some area that the Secret Service could make secure, without stopping for anything, even to find out what had happened to the President. “I want you and Mrs. Johnson to stick with me and the other agents as close as you can,” he said. “We are going into the hospital and we aren’t gonna stop for anything or anybody. Do you understand?”

“O.K., pardner, I understand,” Lyndon Johnson said.

There was another squealing turn—left onto the entrance ramp to the Parkland Emergency Room; the car skidded so hard that “I wondered if they were going to make it,” Lady Bird said—and then the brakes were jammed on so hard that Johnson and Youngblood were slammed against the back of the front seat. Then Youngblood’s weight was off him: hands were grabbing his arms and pulling him roughly up out of the car and onto his feet. The white carnation was still in his lapel, somehow untouched, but his left arm and shoulder, which had taken the brunt of Youngblood’s weight, hurt. There were Secret Service men all around; police all around; guns all around. Then Youngblood and four other agents were surrounding him, the hands were on his arms again, and he was being hustled—almost run—through the hospital entrance and along corridors; close behind him was another agent, George Hickey, holding an AR-15 automatic rifle at the ready. Johnson said later that he was rushed into the hospital so fast, his view blocked by the men around him, that he hadn’t even seen the President’s car, or what was in it. Lady Bird, rushed along right behind him by her own cordon of agents, had seen, in “one last look over my shoulder,” “a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying on the back seat. I think it was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body.”

Lyndon Johnson was being hustled, agents’ hands on his arms, down one hospital corridor after another, turning left, turning right; his protectors were looking for a room that could be made secure. Then he was in what seemed like a small white room—it was actually one of three cubicles, in the Parkland Minor Medicine section, that had been carved out of a larger room by hanging white muslin curtains from ceiling to floor. Two of the cubicles were unoccupied; in the third, a nurse was treating a patient. The agents were pushing nurse and patient out the door; they were pulling down the shades and blinds over the windows. Then he and Lady Bird were standing against a blank, uncurtained wall at the back of the cubicle farthest from the door. Youngblood was standing in front of them, telling another agent to station himself outside the door to the corridor, and not to let anyone in—not anyone—unless he knew his face. Two other agents were stationed in the cubicle between this one and the corridor. Someone was saying that Youngblood should get to a telephone and report to his superiors, in Washington; Youngblood was saying, “Look here, I’m not leaving this man to phone anyone.” Remembering that a Vice-President’s children did not normally receive Secret Service protection, he asked Lady Bird where the Johnson daughters were (Lynda Bird was at the University of Texas, Lucy at her high school, in Washington), and told one of the agents to call headquarters, have guards assigned to them immediately, and then get back to the cubicle as fast as possible.

Someone brought two folding chairs into the cubicle, and Lady Bird sat down in one. Lyndon Johnson remained standing, his back against the far wall. As had been the case in every crisis in his life, a first consideration was to have people loyal to him around him, aides and allies who could be counted on to take his orders without question. He knew that the Texas congressmen who had been in the motorcade must be nearby, and he asked Youngblood to have them found, and Homer Thornberry was brought in and, after a while, Jack Brooks. Johnson’s aide Cliff Carter came in, and handed him a container of coffee.

And then, for long minutes, no one came in. Lyndon Johnson stood with his back against the wall. It was very quiet in the little curtained space. “We didn’t know what was happening,” Thornberry recalled later. “We did not know about the condition of the President. . . . I walked out once to try to see if I could find out what was going on, but either nobody knew or they didn’t tell me.” Johnson asked Youngblood to send an agent to get some news, and he returned with Roy Kellerman, the acting chief of the White House Secret Service detail, but Kellerman didn’t provide much information. “Mr. Johnson asked me the condition of the President and the Governor,” he recalled. “I advised him that the Governor was taken up to surgery, that the doctors were still working on the President. He asked me to keep him informed of his condition.”

There was more waiting. “Lyndon and I didn’t speak,” Lady Bird Johnson recalled. “We just looked at each other, exchanging messages with our eyes. We knew what it might be.” Johnson said very little to anyone, moved around very little, just stood there. Asked to describe him in the hospital, Thornberry used the same word that Youngblood used to describe him in the car: “Very calm. All through the time he was just as calm.” Kellerman’s deputy Emory Roberts came in and said that he had seen Kennedy, and, as he later recalled, that he “did not think the President could make it”—and that Johnson should leave the hospital, get to Air Force One, and take off for Washington. Youngblood agreed. “We should leave here immediately,” he said. The word “conspiracy” was in the air. Not merely the President but the Governor had been shot; who knew if Johnson might himself have been the next target had not Youngblood so quickly covered his body with his own? The Secret Service wanted to get Johnson out of Dallas or, at least, onto the plane, which would, in their view, be the most secure place in the city.

But Johnson did not agree. No one had yet given him any definite word on the President’s condition; no one had yet made, in that little curtained room, any explicit statement. In Brooks’s recollection, Johnson said, “Well, we want to get the official report on that rather than [from] some individual.” He wouldn’t leave without permission from the President’s staff, he said, preferably from the staff member who was, among the White House staffers in Dallas, the closest to the President: Ken O’Donnell. Youngblood and Roberts continued, in Youngblood’s phrase, to “press Johnson” to leave the hospital “immediately”—they “suggested that he think it over, as he would have to be sworn in”—but Johnson didn’t change his mind “about staying put until there was some definite word on the President.”

And there was still, for minutes that seemed very long, no definite word. “Every face that came in, you searched for the answers you must know,” Lady Bird Johnson said later. Lyndon Johnson still stood against the wall in that small, curtained space, his wife sitting beside him, two or three men off to one side, standing silent or occasionally whispering among themselves; standing in front of him “always there was Rufe,” Mrs. Johnson said. Johnson stood there for about forty minutes. Then, at 1:20 P.M., O’Donnell appeared at the door and crossed the room to Lyndon Johnson, and, seeing the stricken “face of Kenny O’Donnell, who loved him so much,” Lady Bird knew.

“He’s gone,” O’Donnell said, to the thirty-sixth President of the United States.

(from "The Passage of Power" by Robert Caro, 2012)

* * *

DISMANTLING RACISM IS PATRIOTIC, Jon Stewart Talks Race w/ Sen. Cory Booker


  1. Val Muchowski April 7, 2022

    Today the Unity Club will hear from Bruce Anderson. Join us at 1:30 pm at the Boonville Fairgrounds Library.

    • Marmon April 7, 2022

      Have the Feds been made aware?


      • chuck dunbar April 7, 2022

        Yep, sounds suspicious, maybe even seditious….

        • Lazarus April 7, 2022

          I wish I could go.

    • Chuck Wilcher April 7, 2022

      Free popcorn for all who attend.

  2. Harvey Reading April 7, 2022


    What a laugh! The NYT or WAPO couldn’t have peddled better propaganda. Obviously AJ staff has graduated with honors from State Department Press Training, with assistance from CIA and the US military liars.

    Quoting Bojo is as bad as quoting Bugs Bunny. But, don’t worry, stupid USans will lap it up, feel sorry for their pet country and its dull-witted, lying, puppet ruler, set up in office by Obama and his puppet, dear Ms. Nuland, probably as practice for his disgusting “pivot to China”…

  3. George Dorner April 7, 2022

    Kudos to the Marvelous Major, but he must have quit with keyboard cramp before listing one more important failure. Our Board of Stuporvisors has no fiscal information on the count budget they are supposed to be administering, even as they rubber stamp spending through the consent calendar.

    • Mark Scaramella April 7, 2022

      Thanks. The penultimate item on the list was: “Failure to provide monthly departmental budget and status reports to the Board and public.” I thought that was in the same vein. But you’re right, they’re flying blind. And Williams especially seems convinced, with nothing more than Ms. Antle’s very shallow and dubious recent deficit numbers that the county is operating an “austerity” budget — all the while approving unplanned and/or unquestioned new spending.

  4. chuck dunbar April 7, 2022


    I wondered why the AVA was choosing now to print “A Chaplain’s Letter from Vicksburg.” So long ago, times long gone, so what? Then I began reading, and remembered that sometimes I’m slow on the uptake. The eternal horrors of what war does to people–soldiers and civilians, written in an almost poetic voice, yet starkly, vividly put.

  5. Marmon April 7, 2022

    Celebrating a friend’s 80’s birthday tomorrow night at the San Francisco Clubhouse. I’m hoping to make the trip.


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