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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, April 21, 2022

Showers | Palace Plans | Westport BBQ | Suspicious Death | Riding Club | Candidate Statements | Virtual Forum | Flying Blind | Beerfest Breakfast | Ed Notes | Meat Market | Ukraine | Standing Cowgirls | Reefer Man | Cannabis Market | Animal Tracks | Hiker Rescue | Mendo Economy | Dance Hall | Stayner Brothers | Monroe Landing | Robot Insurance | Caspar Chute | Adventist Prediction | Mendo Mill | Doctor Exodus | Yesterday's Catch | Saint Orwell | Most Embarrassing | Solitary Crow | Mural Event | Wine Prices | James Arness | Food Vendors | The Arcanes | Ukraine Wildlife | Native Friends | Caspar School | Lawyers Cut | Preconscious | Manchester Rancheria | Big Tech

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RAIN SHOWERS, high elevation snow, and isolated thunderstorms will continue today. Showers will taper off Friday as high pressure builds in. This will bring warmer temperatures and mainly dry weather for the weekend and through midweek. There is a chance for some light rain Tuesday in the north. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Leggett 1.80" - Laytonville 1.50" - Willits 1.50" - Yorkville 1.08" - Covelo 0.89" - Boonville 0.85" - Hopland 0.57"

POTENTIAL FOR SEVERE WEATHER THURSDAY: Rain will develop in the North Bay by this afternoon. Beneficial moderate rainfall will occur on Thursday along with isolated thunderstorms. Potential for pea- to marble-size hail on Thursday through the evening. Rain on Thursday could produce nuisance urban and small stream flooding, especially for blocked drains and culverts. Plan for wet roads Thursday and allow for extra travel time in the event roadways are covered with hail.

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by Mike Geniella

A proposed buyer of the historic Palace Hotel told the Ukiah City Council on Wednesday night she envisions transforming the landmark into a lively ground floor marketplace with shops, restaurants, and bars.

Minal Shankar

Minal Shankar is described by city representatives as a former investment banker and venture capitalist in the Bay Area, Canada, and the East Coast who now lives in the Ukiah Valley.

Shankar told the City Council she would “love to see the second and third floors renovated back to a hotel that is reminiscent of its former glory.”

Shankar confirmed Wednesday that she has entered into a purchase agreement with the current owners. It provides for a nine-month escrow “during which additional due diligence will be performed."

Shankar’s plans were outlined in a press release issued Wednesday night by Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley after the City Council meeting.

Shankar could not be contacted for comment, and information remains sketchy about how she came to be the buyer of a local landmark that has become an eyesore.

Online research shows Shankar’s corporate background is extensive. She was most recently head of Easly, a Canadian firm whose financing specialties include tax credits. Shankar held that position for two years, until stepping down in August 2021.

Shankar’s ties to global investment and venture capitalist firms include executive positions with Brevet Capital, Northgate Capital, and JP Morgan. She also has served as a research analyst for The Brattle Group in Cambridge, Mass.

Shankar is originally from Ohio and is a graduate of Harvey Mudd College, and the Stern School of Business at New York University. In high school, Shankar graduated from Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Shankar's emergence as the proposed buyer of the Palace is a new twist to the landmark’s long saga. 

Unknown generally, the Palace was apparently sold in 2019 by a court-appointed receiver to a Ukiah couple Jitu and Paru Ishwar with local motel and hotel operations. A Superior Court judge two weeks ago dissolved the receivership in order to pave the way for a sale by the Ishwars to Shankar. The city of Ukiah used the receivership process to legally wrest control of the historic but deteriorating hotel from a former Marin County owner.

The hotel has languished for three decades. The 60,000-square-foot structure at North State and Smith Streets was declared a public nuisance following inspections by city building and fire officials. A few years later, the then owner attempted some cleanup but the efforts stalled, and in 2017 a receiver was appointed by the Superior Court to take over the hotel. The Marin County owner eventually defaulted, and the Iswhar ownership under the name of Twin Investments, LLC. was approved by the court-appointed receiver, attorney Mark Adams of Santa Monica. 

If Shankar closes escrow, and terms of a settlement agreement among Adams, the Ishwars, and the city are met, the receiver will be formally discharged from oversight, according to an April 6 court order issued by Judge Ann Moorman.

If in fact, Shankar completes the deal, it could herald a new chapter in the Palace’s long history. The hotel was once the center of social life in Ukiah and enjoyed a booming business because of travelers between the Bay Area and the North Coast redwood region. 

The Palace Hotel experienced the ebb and flow of changing times, but the bar always proved profitable and some of the upstairs rooms became apartments for the town’s established senior citizens. In the 1970s the Palace enjoyed a revival when Pat Kuleto, a restaurant innovator who went onto fame in San Francisco and the Napa Valley, did his first design and remodeling project. 

For a decade or so after, the Palace returned to the center of the action with a popular bar and restaurant, good music, and events in a ballroom downstairs. But then the hotel faltered, and it entered into the final stages of decline, stripped of its furnishings and artifacts including murals, and infested by varmints and damaged by vandals.

The building is admittedly in a sad state of affairs having not been maintained since 1995.

Shankar, in the city press release, is quoted as acknowledging the challenges “not just with the building itself but also of the turbulent financial times and of labor and materials shortages and delays.”

“In spite of this I am optimistic about the future and this community, which is why I am so passionate about this project,” Shankar is quoted as saying.

While her plans may sound ambitious given the state of the Palace building, Shankar also is quoted as saying, “I think this is the right time and place for a project like this.” She cited industry trends in boutique hotels, small towns, and local foods and produce.

“Making the Palace a success is about so much more than that half a city block; it’s about showcasing and building on everything that Mendocino County has to offer,” according to Shankar as quoted in the city statement.

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by Matt Pera

A 33-year-old woman whose body was found in a remote area near Cloverdale died of brain injury, according to a report from the Sonoma County coroner.

But even with the results of an autopsy, which were released to The Press Democrat this week, investigators remain puzzled about the circumstances that lead to the “suspicious” death of Amber Dillon, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Amber Dillon

Dillon, who lived in Willits, was found dead on Jan. 7 in a field near the border of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, authorities said.

The site was in an open space area adjacent to Highway 101, between the Highway 128 exit in Cloverdale and the Geysers Road exit in Mendocino County.

Investigators believe Dillon died about two days before her body was found and reported, said Sgt. Juan Valencia, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Authorities were alerted to the body shortly after 4 p.m. by someone who saw it in the field and flagged down a California Highway Patrol officer near Highway 101 and Geysers Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators found a 1.5-inch cut on Dillon’s scalp and two hypodermic needles in her jacket pocket, according to the coroner’s report.

After completing an autopsy, the Coroner Unit determined that the cause of death was “intraparenchymal hemorrhage,” which is bleeding in the brain, and “cerebral edema of uncertain etiology,” which is fluid buildup in the brain from an unknown cause.

Hypothermia, blunt-force head injuries and “methamphetamine abuse” also contributed to the death, according to the coroner’s report.

The report labels the manner of Dillon’s death as undetermined, indicating uncertainty around what lead to her brain injury.

The brain hemorrhaging “is consistent with some sort of stroke or blunt-force trauma,” Valencia said.

“She could have had some sort of medical emergency, fell back and hit her head,” he said.

Investigators did not find evidence pointing to the death as a homicide, Valencia said.

“It’s just a suspicious death,” he said, noting that it’s still an open case.

Authorities did not find a vehicle associated with Dillon near the remote area where her body was found.

“That’s still one of those unanswered questions we have is how she got out there,“ Valencia said.

A family friend created an online fundraiser to help Dillon’s mother pay for funeral costs.

“Amber was an amazing soul,“ a description on the page says.

(The Press Democrat)

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Fort Bragg Bicycle Riding Club, Scandinavian Hotel, 1895

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POINT, COUNTERPOINT — Candidates for County School Superintendent Exchange Views

Candidate Nicole Glentzer:

The Anderson Valley Advertiser asked me to respond in writing to the question, “What is not happening at MCOE under the auspices of Ms. Hutchins that you think should be happening?”

As a lifelong educator (and not a politician), giving a public critique of another human being is not something I’m comfortable doing, but the question posed by the AVA is a fair question, one to which voters deserve an answer. With all due respect to Ms. Hutchins, there is no way to honestly answer the AVA’s question without including criticism of her performance.

The County Superintendent of Schools has 3 primary responsibilities, to ensure the fiscal solvency of each school district, to lead the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE), and to provide guidance and support to individual school districts. Due to the incredible efforts of school districts and the MCOE Business Department, schools in our county are fiscally solvent and the dedicated staff at MCOE work hard to provide what direct services they can. 

However, since 2018, school leaders, school employees, and MCOE staff have reported that support that should be found by conferring with the County Superintendent is unavailable or unreliable.

This was especially apparent during the pandemic, when school districts had to quickly transition to distance learning, develop COVID safety plans, and increase communication with parents and guardians, all while dealing with a staffing shortage. When our districts needed support developing COVID Safety Plans to reopen schools, the County Superintendent was unavailable to help. Most school districts in the state were regularly meeting with the County Public Health Officer and the County Superintendent of Schools. This was not available to Mendocino County districts, even after repeated requests to have the County Superintendent facilitate these meetings.

Forging a collaborative partnership between the education community and the medical community during a pandemic is critical, yet our County Superintendent was unable to foster such a partnership. Throughout the pandemic, rather than rely on the incumbent, our Districts had to look to each other for support - especially when doing the crucial work of safely returning our students to school in person.

For all of us, navigating a global pandemic was new territory, but Hutchins did little to get our students and staff back to in-person learning once it was safe. In fact, the Mendocino County Office of Education was one of the last school organizations to reopen their offices to the public, well after the return of students to in-person learning. 

Ultimately, schools could not and did not wait for the County Superintendent to provide material support for reopening, because our students needed to learn in person to have the education they deserve.

A County Superintendent should lead the way for the districts she serves – setting the example and modeling what districts should do. Likely, if some of our districts had not pushed to get our students back to school in-person safely, students would have stayed on distance learning much longer, thus deepening the crisis our students and families have been in. Had we waited for Superintendent Hutchins, our students may not have made it back to school in person during the 2020-2021 school year at all.

In my role at Ukiah Unified School District, I worked every day to get students and teachers back to school in person as quickly and safely as possible. I developed a COVID testing plan, tested students and staff myself, trained a team of people to be testers, and supported other districts in our county to do the same. It was complicated, and exhausting work to safely reopen our schools, but it was work that needed to be done.

Sadly, COVID is not the only crisis where the County Superintendent has been absent and out of touch with what is happening in our schools. Districts throughout the county have endured fires, floods, smoke inundation, power shutdowns, and tragic losses of students. Through all of these, it is rare to find our current County Superintendent reaching out to see what she can do to help. I recently spoke with an educator whose office is within 100 yards of the incumbent’s, who told me that in the years they have worked at MCOE, they have only met the incumbent a few times. This is not an isolated incident.

Sadly, many of our school employees, school leaders, and MCOE employees have found the current County Superintendent out of touch and absent. Ms. Hutchins received a vote of no confidence from two school districts she has served, Anderson Valley Unified School District and Mountain Valley School District. Currently, her website lists endorsements from less than 5 current Mendocino County educators - effectively a third vote of no confidence.

It is evident to those who work with her now why those district employees gave her a vote of no confidence. I have been able to work with employee organizations and other education partners to the degree that the California School Employees’ Association and the Potter Valley Education Support Professionals have endorsed me. I have also received the endorsement of over 100 current and retired Mendocino County educators. I am an on-the-ground leader.

The AVA asks, “What is not happening?”

The answer is simple: in the 3.5 years of her tenure, Ms. Hutchins has lost the trust of the vast majority of educators throughout Mendocino County because our schools are not getting the support they should get from their County Superintendent. Voters have a simple choice to make, ignore the voices of educators in our county and side with the incumbent, or side with the teachers, principals, and staff who are rallying for change. It’s time to see what our schools can do with a leader they can work with, rather than one they have to work around.

Nicole Glentzer

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Incumbent Superintendent Michelle Hutchins Responds:

I was surprised by the letter my opponent sent to the AVA. We had both pledged to run a clean, honest campaign. So, it saddens me to have to respond to her misrepresentations. But I have been asked to do so, and this is my response. My opponent is capitalizing on the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic. She states she doesn't want to be negative, but she should at least be accurate. 

The number of meetings I organized shows she is mistaken. During the first two months of the pandemic, I facilitated meetings between school personnel and the county public health office every day for the first two months. Afterwards, I facilitated a weekly meeting, totaling 125 meetings in all. Additionally, the school superintendents who support my opponent wanted to exclude charter and private schools from these meetings. But I refused; every student needs to be represented, and every student needs to be safe.

With rapidly changing direction from the State of California, sometimes daily, I sent out over 195 emails explaining these changes to district personnel. I received countless accolades from teachers, staff, and superintendents for the speed of information they received, from me, to protect our children. My office also delivered over 45 tons of protective equipment to our schools in 2020.

In collaboration with their community, parents, and unions, I insisted that every school develop a plan to meet the state requirements, knowing that each school district had unique needs.

My office also provided material resources to support schools in reopening to in-person learning, and it is well documented through newspaper articles and KZYX radio shows.

My opponent’s claims that districts had to go outside or around Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) to get the services they needed is a complete misrepresentation of what is actually a very strong relationship with neighboring counties for bettering the environment for all our students. Contrary to her claim, MCOE supported 37 local educational agencies and received compliments from the State as well as local public health for our level of support and collaboration with schools.

My opponent is either ignorant of what a County Superintendent does or is deliberately exploiting everyone's frustration with the pandemic to advance her campaign. Sadly, this only insults and hurts the hard-working people at MCOE.

Although I am elected official, I am not a “politician.” In fact, it would be improper for me to solicit endorsements from people who work for the districts and whose paychecks I write. I have, however, been endorsed by Sen. Mike McGuire, Assembly Member James Wood, and the unprecedented endorsement by every independently elected member of the County Board of Education and a growing number of prominent community members.

I encourage you to learn more at:

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by Mark Scaramella

Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting featured a “preliminary” look at the upcoming County budget for next fiscal year, July 2022 to June 2023. The last time the Board discussed the budget for this current year we were left scratching our balding heads wondering what it meant? That presentation was scattered and internally contradictory. On the one hand former CEO Angelo said the County would finish this fiscal year on June 30 with a record large $20 million reserve which seems pretty high considering that the County’s general fund is about $84 million. (The bulk of the County’s non-general fund money comes from grants and state and federal allocations and reimbursements which do not typically need anymore reserves than are built into their grants.) A generous 10% general fund reserve would be $8.4 million. Angelo’s $20 million reserve is as high as it is because CEO Angelo kept a tight lid on hiring, requiring each department to get her express approval for a hire, for the express purpose of balancing the budget and then moving to next year with a carry-over surplus and bragging about how much money was “saved.” Angelo always provided the Board with a monthly summary of the positions she authorized for hiring with an accompanying bureaucratic note as to why, but she never listed the positions she turned down, cleverly keeping the Board in the dark about who she was punishing, er, capping. 

In response to Tuesday’s half-assed “preliminary” budget presentation, Supervisor Maureen Mulheren belatedly piped up on the subject of the long-running high vacancy rates.

Mulheren: “As a former county employee and one that's been watching the county for years, the idea of keeping positions that are funded and not filled seems non-sensical to many people. So I really look forward to having the departments, and hopefully the board agrees, to have the departments take a very quick look at their positions and see which ones are truly necessary. I think there are probably departments that have employees that are working really hard because they are understaffed and I want to make sure that those employees are being supported. We currently have around 400 vacant positions, only 287 of those are being recruited for at this time. So I think there's real opportunities, especially when we are looking at general fund positions.”

While welcome and long overdue, Supervisor Mulheren’s comments were 1) too vague to be of value (she should have zeroed in on a couple of really short departments and asked for a report from Human Reources), 2) not aimed at her new CEO Ms. Antle, and 3) of no interest to her colleagues. So, as usual, her observation went Poof!— into the ether. This was the second decent comment Ms. Mulheren has made since being elected Supervisor — one per year is more than her passive colleagues have made — the other one being her failed attempt last year to tell/mollify the Sheriff and other department heads that the Board had no intention of sending them a bill for ordinary budget overruns. That one had no legs either.

After listening to the “preliminary” budget numbers, Supervisor John Haschak summarized next year’s budget as follows, apparently assuming/hoping that someone, anyone, knew what he was talking about. 

“If we can look at the 16.8 million, so my understanding is that we have already obligated 4.8 so we are down to 12, if we did that plan with a 1.7 over two years that would be 3.4, so then we are under the 10 million number, nine more or less, so there goes the ARPA money. I guess the original intent of the ARPA money was to have real community input into the process and I'm just kind of -- you know, it doesn't sit well with me that we have not done any community outreach with the ARPA funds and how they are going to be spent. Obviously we are at a time when we need to, you know, fix our budget, but I think that we should have been doing community outreach and seeing how the community wanted to use this because it was for covid relief and everything.”

(ARPA: American Rescue Plan Act, the Biden covid bailout bill of 2021.)

Of course, if Mr. Haschak was really concerned about ARPA “outreach” he would have raised the question a year or so ago. As it is, the point, such as it is, is somewhere between pointless and moot. The County has already grabbed it all.

Our best guess as to what Haschak was talking about is that he seems to think there’s a $10 million problem in next year’s budget that might be plugged with the ARPA money, or the leftover ARPA money. He also thinks that if some modest economizing steps are taken the County might save some money. We have no idea what his other numbers refer to.

County employees’ union (SEIU) rep Patrick Hickey seemed to be the most informed budget person in the room. Hickey told the Board that CEO Antle’s “presentation” only provided a “partial picture.” “Is this a structural deficit or a routine shortfall?,” Hickey asked. Hickey had some pointed questions and observations: Is this [deficit/shortfall] for one year or more? Does the ARPA money apply to this year and next year? Why was there no mention of reserves? Isn’t the $20 million reserve excessive? Is this a trend or a blessing? There are lots of unfilled positions which are revenue generators. The County needs to look at last year’s ACFR (the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report) and the close out numbers. What about the Health and Human Services Agency’s general reserve? [Yes, on top of the CEO’s reserve, most departments keep their own secret cash stashes. Former Third District Supervisor John Pinches says there’s millions of dollars in road reserves, for example.] What will happen to that when that agency is broken up? Hickey concluded, “You need more facts and answers before you start talking about trimming budgets.”

In response, Supervisor (and Board Chair) Ted Williams asked about the status of the ACFR and was told that it was delayed due to low staffing in the Auditor’s department (which is down six positions at present). But, even after Mulheren’s question about high vacancy rates, nobody asked why the Auditor’s office was so understaffed — especially considering that at the last meeting CEO Antle told the Board that the short-staffed Auditor would get some help from her Executive Office’s “finance team.” Nor did anyone address Hickey’s other important questions.

As usual, the Board is left with more budget questions than answers. And the answers are not likely to be forthcoming, especially since 1) nobody made a list, and 2) the departments with the financial answers are understaffed and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

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NOT THAT WE'RE trying to fence you out, Boonville, but we've long felt our post-industrial acre in the near center of town needed aesthetic enhancement. All persons with legitimate business are of course always welcome, thrill seekers are requested to give advance notice. We're very proud of our fence, as are my heirs and assignees, always a major consideration for me and probably others in the final category of the actuarial charts. 

THE FENCE is the design and work of the brilliant Alejandro Soto, a young man understandably in great demand locally for the quality of his work. Don't know enough superlatives to pile on to this modest, unassuming, multi-talented fellow, but he's definitely one more blessing in a community already blessed with so many skilled persons.

MARIJUANA DAY, April 20th. There are people who celebrate it. Always have had mixed feelings myself, and always tried to keep my own children away from it, perhaps successfully. Who knows? About age 12 they go their own way and you, the parent, in a time when the young face a minefield of hazards, only one of which is dope, hope you've helped them avoid a few.

I WAS DELIGHTED recently when I saw in a letter to parents from Louise Simson, Boonville's new superintendent of school, in which she said she would not tolerate vaping on her campuses. Used to be you could count on adults to be adults, but the distinction is long gone. I know a young couple who forbade their 9-year-old from a sleep-over at the kid's fave friend. Their kid was the only one among a dozen or so not allowed to go. The parents were left sorting out the bad feeling arising from their refusal to allow their 9-year-old daughter to do a sleep-over at a home where the host parents are bottled out every night after five pm. And then there's the cyber menace. How to keep little kids off the 'net where anything goes? Ancients like me spent whole days roaming around unsupervised from about age 7. “Be home by dark,” my mother would say. I can't imagine even the most inattentive parent saying that these days without risking a visit from CPS. The country is imploding in so many ways it's hard to keep up, but dope has clearly done a lot more harm than good, and its never been harder to be a kid.

IN 2014, I biked from my apartment on 7th Avenue over to Hippy Hill in Golden Gate Park to watch the 4-20 festivities. April 20 at 4:20pm derived from pioneer stoners at San Rafael High School meeting at 4:20 to furtively fire up some ditch weed. Today's marijuana, developed right here in Mendocino County, is a lot stronger. These days, America's stoners all light up at once in mass celebration of a drug that makes them slow and stupid. I expected something like a few hundred ancient flower children shaking their cadaverous booties with maybe lame-o Wavy Gravy gumming some peace and love platitudes, but what I found was, well, put it this way — the hippies of '67 look positively wholesome put alongside this crew. If it had been advertised as Thug Fest 2014 we would have had some truth in advertising. Lots of gangstas and no hippies of the traditional tie-dyed doofi type, only acres of tough guys and women very unlike the ones who married dear old dad. The entire area between Hippie Hill and the Children's Playground was wall-to-wall criminal intent. A cloud of pot and grill smoke hung over the park. No cops anywhere. Every other person seemed to have an apparatus that boomed out the mayhem recommendations of rap. “You lost, Pops?” a kid asked me, and it belatedly occurred to me that in my khakis and button down blue shirt I was definitely odd man out. The scene was, for sure, more than mildly disconcerting, and when I saw a large white guy, maybe 40, shirtless, obviously a veteran of many hours on a prison weight pile, his skin festooned with jail tats and a big White Pride announcement, when I saw this guy, a maniacal grin on his face, wade into the multi-ethnic gang-banging mopes, I knew bad things were about to happen in Golden Gate Park, our sylvan retreat, our urban respite of forest and meadow, our natural solace amidst the din and clamor of city life, and I made my way to my bike and pedaled home.

TWO DAYS LATER, the Chron's comment line was mostly a lot of huffing and puffing about “hippies” having left The City with a huge clean-up bill for a trashed park, and isn't it just like the hypocrites to talk about how much they love Mother Earth then leave tons of trash in our trampled park. But this thing was not a hippie event, and Marx himself never could have foreseen how many and how fearsome the lumpen has become.

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R.B. White Meat Market, Point Arena, 1890

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As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:

Fighting intensified in Ukraine's east, including the Donbas region,where Russian troops have built up in recent weeks. Shelling continued on Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv in the northeast. Russia said it had control over most of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, under siege and heavy fire for weeks. Russian forces had surrounded the vast Azovstal steel plant in the city, with Ukrainian soldiers and civilians inside. Russia's military issued a renewed ultimatum for the soldiers to surrender.

More critical weaponry is heading to Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said. That includes 18 howitzers, and the U.S. is training Ukrainians outside the country on how to use the big artillery guns. The U.S. and its allies also have provided spare aircraft parts that have allowed the Ukrainians to fix and return to service more than 20 warplanes in the past three weeks, the official said.

More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine in the nearly two months of the war, according to the United Nations' refugee agency. Overall, more than 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the war. The vast majority of those who have fled the country — nearly 3 million — have gone to Poland, followed by other Eastern European countries like Romania and Hungary.

Russia test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which President Vladimir Putin praised as a new addition to the country's nuclear arsenal. The Sarmat missile launched from Russia's northwest and struck a target on Kamchatka in the far east. The Pentagon said Russia had notified the U.S. of the test and it was not deemed to be a threat to the U.S or allies.

Russian and Belarusian players were banned from this year's Wimbledon, including men's world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women's world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. This makes Wimbledon one of the first tennis events to suspend players from the two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. 

(NPR News)

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[Conversation Intro]
"Man, whats the matter with that cat there?"
"Must be full of reefer"
"Full of reefer?!"
"Yeah man"
"You mean that cat's high?!"
"Sailing lightly"
"Get away from here"
"Man, is that the reefer man?"
"That's the reefer man"
"I believe he's losing his mind"
"I think he's lost his mind!"

— lyrics by Andy Razaf

[Marijuana was illegal in 29 states when this song was written in 1931, but there was no federal ban on it yet.]

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THE MENDOCINO PRODUCERS GUILD is holding a cannabis-centric farmers market in Laytonville Saturday, April 23, 10 am To 4 pm. Some 20 growers will be bringing their produce to sell direct to users. The legal limit for each customer is an ounce, but medical users with recommendations can purchase up to eight ounces. The Guild has an MD standing by online to issue recommendations. If the weather predictions hold it will have rained Friday night, so boots are advised by organizer Traci Pellar. Admission is free, the exact address is 44550 Willits Ave, and as Wanda use to say, “Be there or be in DARE!” (Fred Gardner)

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RE THAT LOST COAST RESCUE: Been hiking and camping on the lost coast in a huge storm with rain that dumped for 26 hours straight, sideways rain, huge winds in the late 80s. Buddies tent broke in the storm, everything soaked. Road it out in my tent with three people and a German shepherd. Tight quarters but we all stayed warm. Hiked out after the storm, gear soaked weighing double what it was hiking in, tired but still stoked. Never would have dreamed to call anyone to help, let alone a helicopter. It was our problem and we solved it. Waste of resources to send in the cavalry unless they were using this as a training exercise, which I imagine they were since they are always training. Lesson - Don’t go backpacking with a gps or sat phone if you plan on using them because you are not up to completing the journey and endanger others with your stupidity and laziness.

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A READER WRITES: There's room for the County’s worthless $80k Strategic Plan on the dusty file-and-forget shelf right next to the Beacon Economics report which analyzed Mendo economics through December, 2020. Have the Supervisors ever discussed this report or it's recommendations? (Hint: No.)

“The County of Mendocino engaged Beacon Economics to undertake an analysis of the Mendocino Economy with a focus on key industry clusters in Mendocino County and strategies for inclusive growth and resiliency to guide the economic recovery"…:

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Seaside Dance Hall, Highway 1, near Ten Mile River, 1910

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TWO CALIFORNIA BROTHERS, one a kidnap hero and one a Yosemite serial killer, featured in Hulu documentary 'Captive Audience'

by Katie Dowd

There is no story like it in the annals of true crime. A 7-year-old California boy is kidnapped off the street. Eight years later, he reappears at a Ukiah police station, shattered but alive. And nearly two decades after that, the boy's brother goes on a brutal killing spree in Yosemite National Park.

“Bad things happen to everybody,” Ashley Stayner says in the new Hulu docuseries “Captive Audience,” “but for our family, it's unreal.”

There is no quick way to tell the history of Steven and Cary Stayner, and there is no way to tell it without the stories intertwining.

Steven was born in Merced in 1965, the third of five children in the Stayner family. Their childhood, until his disappearance, was typical of the era. His parents taught him to trust adults implicitly and to respectfully follow their instructions. On Dec. 4, 1972, a strange man approached Steven on his walk home from school. The man told Steven that it was alright for him to pick him up, as Steven's mother had given him the OK. Steven got in the car.

The man was Kenneth Parnell, a convicted child rapist. He soon told the confused Steven that he had legal custody of him; Parnell said the Stayners didn't want him anymore. Within a week of being abducted, young Steven was calling him dad.

Parnell renamed him Dennis Parnell, and moved him around frequently, living for stretches in Santa Rosa and Comptche in Mendocino County, among other spots in California. Steven attended school intermittently, and classmates remembered him as shy and sweet, although he never let anyone drop him off directly at his home. He always asked to be let off at the bottom of the driveway.

On Feb. 13, 1980, with Steven quickly growing into adolescence, Parnell kidnapped another boy, 5-year-old Timothy White, and began abusing him. Although Steven had free rein to escape at any time, he'd repeatedly stayed with Parnell, unsure of how to return home or get help. But upon seeing Timmy, Steven knew he had to act. When Parnell left a few weeks later for his job as a night security guard, Steven grabbed Timmy and headed for the road. A passing car picked up the boys and drove them to Ukiah, Timmy's hometown, where Steven found a police station.

Timmy, whose face was on the news every day, was immediately recognized as a kidnap victim. But it took police a little while to put together that Steven, who could only partially remember his real last name, was Merced's most famous missing child: Steven Stayner.

Steve Stayner, who says he lived with Kenneth Parnell for seven years after disappearing at the age of seven, testifies in a courtroom in Hayward, Calif., June 22, 1981. He testified against Parnell in the kidnapping of then five-year-old Timmy White. (AP Photo/Pool)

Steven's heroism — and his defeat of incredible odds — made him a national sensation. Images of him with Timmy were splashed across every nightly news broadcast. A made-for-TV movie went into production.

The only one who was seemingly unimpressed was Steven's 17-year-old brother Cary. According to interviews revealed on “Captive Audience,” Cary stressed that Steven's actions were blown out of proportion by the media and that anyone with a conscience would have done what Steven did. He admitted to being jealous of his brother's stardom.

It was a hard period for everyone, though. Steven struggled to readjust to the family he barely knew and chafed against their rules, as Parnell had basically left him to his own devices. The media dogged Steven, even at school, and Steven's father resisted the idea of his son getting help from mental health professionals. But as Steven grew into adulthood, he found some semblance of normalcy. He married and had two kids, Ashley and Steven Jr.

Then, on Sept. 16, 1989, Steven was riding his motorcycle home from work when he was struck by a driver who allegedly blew through a stop. He died from his injuries, devastating the still-healing family once again. Steven was just 24.

The worst, if possible, lay ahead.

Some of the most gripping moments of “Captive Audience” come in episode three, when Steven's now-adult daughter Ashley recalls watching the news of multiple Yosemite murders on television. As a seventh grader who lived in nearby Merced, she was gripped by the brutal slayings of tourists Carole Sund, 42, Juli Sund, 15, and Silvina Pelosso, 16. Carole Sund had taken her daughter and friend Silvina to see Yosemite National Park before Silvina returned to Argentina. The trio shared a room at the Cedar Lodge in El Portal, from which they vanished in February 1999.

The three women had been missing a month when the burned bodies of Carole and Silvina were discovered in their rental car. Then, a letter arrived for police with a hand-drawn map pointing to the location of Juli's body, left near the Don Pedro Reservoir. Her throat had been slit.

On July 22, 1999, the decapitated body of Yosemite naturalist Joie Ruth Armstrong was found in a stream by the cabin where she lived. A witness recalled seeing a light blue 1979 International Scout at the scene earlier; they told police, who traced the car to the handyman at the Cedar Lodge: Cary Stayner.

Stayner had been questioned and released in the triple homicide, but now the net drew in again. Two days after the discovery of Armstrong's body, Stayner was tracked down at a nudist colony in Wilton and arrested.

While in custody, Stayner agreed to talk to Bay Area TV reporter Ted Rowlands. The confessions rolled out. From the time he was young, he fantasized about hurting women. The girls in the motel room gave him his opportunity; he said he entered their room with the ruse of pretending to check for a leak.

Once inside, he pulled a gun on them and said he wanted their car and cash. He locked the teens in the bathroom while he murdered Carole Sund. He sexually assaulted the girls, then killed them as well. As for Joie Armstrong, he'd also met her by chance and learned the woman lived alone in the park. Armstrong fought him fiercely, causing him to sloppily leave behind footprints and tire tracks. Rowlands recalls in “Captive Audience” that, as a condition of confessing, Stayner demanded Rowlands help him get a TV movie made about his life.

(SF Gate)

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Chute at Monroe Landing, near Devilbiss Landing, Hales Grove Mill, 1907

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Anybody have an insurance company that will write on the Coast?

I’m stuck in the FAIR plan for fire home insurance after being non renewed by Liberty Mutual a few years back and then non renewed by Lloyds of London. During that time, the house and neighborhood became much safer, with fire protocols and the inspection, brush reduced throughout the neighborhood etc. Insurance companies have been canceling policies based on robotic programs called brush maps all over the world, not just related to California fires as you have read. I did a lot of research on this and can send you the Real Estate Magazine piece I wrote if interested. My rates have gone up 4x so I'd think the policies would be sellable again? The insurance companies also act as a block, NOT ONE would write for years after all having done so. I think that sounds like racketeering. For me, I'd just like to get fire insurance outside the FAIR plan. I have an independent broker to write it up if I can find some way to get fire insurance for property that has not seen a fire in more than a century and is 1/4 mile from the ocean with super high water table even in the drought. NONE of these factors matter though in this world where decisions are made by robot engines so that adjusters and other human employees who once evaluated policies can be eliminated. Of course California is high fire risk, which could be REDUCED if insurance companies could be forced to go back to evaluating each property based on its merits, so that if you do reduce brush, you can get insurance. If you do replace your roof with one more fire resistant, it matters again. I would think it would be best to suggest any companies now writing insurance ON LIST so everyone can benefit. 

Frank Hartzell

Fort Bragg

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Unloading Logs at Top of Caspar Log Chute, 1916

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by Michael Turner, MD (2019)

So the Adventist advance team has come to town and made a number of vague proposals. It’s hard to know what to make of their pitch, isn’t it? Having worked in their system for almost two decades I can offer a few observations and perhaps, predictions. I’m not going to tread softly, because I think religious based health organizations, with their secretiveness and unstated goals, are a bad fit for community based health care based on transparency and honest communication.

The effect of Adventist Health coming to your area will be mostly bad, but there will probably be some immediate benefits. Your health facility will be spiffed up. Adventist has deep pockets and can fund improvements in the physical plant far more easily than the local community. The hospital will look better and function better. Outwardly, it will reflect well on the community. You can also expect a surge in employment. (Adventist Health employs 15% of the labor force in inland Mendocino.) And many of these jobs will be good jobs. Over the years I saw many young people begin at entry level positions and advance to stable long term careers in health care. And, because it is well capitalized, many measures of health care will improve.

But what about those negatives?

Loss of Community Control. No matter what they say in their presentation, Adventist does not care about local communities. They think in larger terms. What they actually care about is their planned strategy to control rural health care in Northern California. Financial decisions are always made on a regional level. Your facility’s budget will eventually be controlled by a distant corporate executive. If there’s a major problem down the road, the local community leaders will never be able to communicate within the upper reaches of the Adventist hierarchy. Adventist will probably propose some plan for shared decision-making with the local community, but in the end it will be window-dressing – all decisions of financial consequence flow downward from corporate headquarters in Roseville. To step back, Adventists are a community to themselves. In their world people are divided into the Adventists, and the “worldly people.” When Adventists talk about doing things for the community, regardless of good intentions, they actually mean for “their” community. Ultimately their myopic decision-making process excludes non-members.

Greatly Increased Cost of Health Care. The Adventist’s strategy historically has been to create small geographic monopolies and then jack up prices. For example in Ukiah the cost of diagnostic services are always at least double the price of similar tests done in Santa Rosa. Furthermore their aim is to drive consumers to more expensive care, such as elective surgeries, high tech imaging studies, and hospitalizations vs. preventive medicine and outpatient care. You only have to drive through Ukiah and look at their billboards to see their strategy. If Adventist comes to town you can expect to see a big jump in your health care costs, and the community will see a rise in medically related bankruptcies.

Profiteering. Why, you may ask, would a non-profit health organization try to grossly increase the cost of my community’s health care? Because they are non-profit in name only, a huge amount of money goes to directly into the coffers of the larger Adventist organization. It’s a corporate secret, but one estimate I heard from someone who would know is that 10% of gross revenue goes directly to the larger corporation. And then there’s the matter of nepotism.

AdventHealth headquarters, Altamonte Springs, Florida

Nepotism. Local Adventist administrators make huge amounts of money. The last time I looked the top administrator of the Ukiah hospital was making over $800,000 per year and many others had salaries far in excess of those made by doctors or nurses. And (this is important) you have to be a member of the Church to occupy an upper tier administrative position. Non-Adventists need not apply – it’s an explicit rule. In a way health care is their racket; where there is an Adventist community, there will be a health care facility that employs lots of Adventists in well paid white collar roles. Fundamentally Adventist Health is not an actual non-profit organization. What they call “administrative costs” I call a huge salary boondoggle paid for by the working class of the local community.

Incompetence. This is always the necessary corollary of nepotism. Many functionaries obtain their position based solely on their church status, particularly if they are related to other church members. For example, neither of my last two practice managers had any previous health care experience. The result is a laughably incompetent bureaucracy. As a provider I dealt constantly with untrained employees, unworkable communication systems, shortages of supplies, and many more problems caused by by blissfully obtuse management. From the consumer perspective you can expect consequences like poor communication, long wait times, and lots of mistakes in addition, of course, to increased costs.

Loss of choice. The name of the game in health care is “risk management.” That is, Adventist would like to create a large pool of consumers and control them through their insurance coverage, like employee-based insurances, MediCal (Partnership), and Medicare supplemental plans. Once Adventist is assigned care for x amount of patients they then contract with doctors to deliver that care. In this model the more you hold down cost, the higher the profit. And the best way to hold down cost is to limit care, either by outright refusal (“not a covered service”), or by restricting care to a single network, ie. Adventist Health. Thus in Mendocino you can expect to see only an Adventist approved doctor, receive only approved services at an Adventist lab, and receive specialty care in far away Adventist facilities like St. Helena or even Loma Linda. If your doctor isn’t on their panel, you’ll have to find a new doctor. And forget about going to Santa Rosa or UCF if you want a second opinion.

Duplicity. This is a highly personal issue for me, and I cannot say to what degree it applies in a wider sense. But I remember leaving a meeting with an Adventist exec and thinking “he just lied to me!” It’s been my experience that for sanctimonious people, dishonesty employed for a “higher good” is not wrong. Expect that no matter what assurances and promises are given to your local leaders, no matter what it says on a signed piece of paper, your agreement with Adventist will mutate into something you didn’t anticipate, and over time, become increasingly favorable to Adventist aims.

Physician flight. Since my arrival in Ukiah two decades ago, the number of practicing physicians has been cut by more than half. Why? First of all, lack of replacement. Adventist Health is regarded as a third tier organization by many young doctors, who choose to work for more competent systems like Kaiser. And more immediately, Adventist drove many practicing doctors from the area by heavy-handed methods like forcing the community hospital (Ukiah General) out of business, and more recently, insisting that local doctors become Adventist employees. If Adventist comes to town, expect a greater than 50/50 likelihood that your doctor will retire or leave town.

If AH really decides to come to the coast, you probably can’t stop them. They have been employing a successful takeover strategy in small towns all over Northern California for more than twenty years. But before putting their signature on anything, your leaders should talk to community leaders in places like Ukiah and Lodi and Hanford and Feather River and see what really happens when Adventist Health come to town.

—Michael Turner, MD (retired)

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Mendocino Lumber Mill, Big River, 1914

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by K.C. Meadows (August, 2018)

A number of doctors who have been practicing medicine across the street from Ukiah Valley Medical Center say they’re giving up, either retiring or moving elsewhere, because UVMC’s parent organization, Adventist Health, refuses to collectively bargain with them anymore and is pushing them into a new hospital-led doctor group.

The Ukiah Valley Primary Care Medical Group is an independent group of doctors who have been contracting for about eight years with UVMC, providing a variety of medical specialties. The doctors and the hospital got into a partnership when the doctors were struggling with instituting electronic medical records in their group and the hospital offered to allow them to use its system in exchange for a partnership that gave the hospital access to the medical group’s rural health designation – which pays a higher reimbursement for many medical procedures.

In the partnership, the doctors gave up hiring their own staffs, allowing the hospital to do that and the hospital built the doctors’ group of offices right across from the hospital itself and leases it back to the doctors.

According to both the doctors and the hospital, that system was working out just fine. The doctors say, however, that it all changed in January 2015 when Adventist Health let them know it was changing its system of partnering with doctors to what is known as the “foundation model.” In that system, Adventist Health sets up and then contracts with a separate entity which hires doctors individually, sets the salaries and benefits and treats the doctors like employees.

This is the system Kaiser Permanente and many other health organizations use. It allows hospitals to treat doctors as employees but gets around the California state law prohibiting hospitals from hiring doctors directly. Adventist Health has Physicians Network Medical Group, and told the Ukiah Valley Primary Care doctors that the only choice was to sign up, that Adventist Health would no long contract with the doctors as a group.

The doctors say it’s simply a matter of the hospital not wanting to collectively bargain anymore.

The hospital says it’s the changing landscape of healthcare and it allows the hospital to contract with one group – PNMG – rather than multiple doctors’ groups and clinics throughout the region.

“You’re not administering various groups with their own interests,” said UVMC CEO Gwen Matthews.

The Ukiah Valley Primary Care Medical Group doctors have until Dec. 31, 2016 to be signed up and some of them, like local internist Dr. Michael Turner, says he’ll retire rather than be an Adventist employee.

“The (rural) reimbursement was many times greater than Medi-Cal payments, and Adventist took a large cut off the top,” he said. “We have operated in the black every year, sometimes being the hospital’s only profitable division. In addition there were other more significant financial benefits for the Adventists. By locating across the street they captured virtually all of the income that we generated from labs, medical imaging and elective procedures. This is not to say there weren’t problems, we weren’t Adventists after all, hence not privy to the processes that resulted in their sometimes baffling management choices. But for several years both sides prospered.”

Turner says a number of doctors, particularly pediatricians, have already left and more will leave because of this ultimatum. He worries that the community will be left without enough doctors. He says the group has already lost a surgeon, an oncologist, three pediatricians, an allergist, a pulmonologist and a neurologist.

Matthews says she is also concerned about pediatricians but says the shortage there and other losses have nothing to do with Adventist Health’s new mandates. She says doctors were told four years ago that Adventist was headed down this path. She says local pediatricians surprised the hospital in August 2015, saying that they could no longer cover care for babies and children in the hospital that weren’t already patients, known as “unassigned” patients.

She says the pediatric group had lost some of its doctors to retirement and family-driven moves and could no longer cope doing both clinic hours and hospital hours. The hospital had to begin sending those babies to Santa Rosa. In March of this year, according to Matthews, the pediatrician group was down to four doctors and could no long cover even their own patients in the emergency room. Matthews said UVMC ended up having to hire four temporary pediatricians to cover hospitalizations at great expense.

Matthews said because local clinic doctors, including UVPCG doctors, are so busy in their practices they also can no longer attend to patients in the hospital, UVMC now uses a number of what are called “hospitalists,” doctors who only work in the hospital, seeing patients of all kinds. These people are also hired through their own “group.” She said the UVPCG waited until UVMC had hospitalists in place before stepping back from hospital work. With the pediatricians, she said, it was a scramble.

But she said, UVMC is actively recruiting pediatricians and already has hired one into the PNMG and has hopes for another coming on in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Matthews says UVMC has 13 doctors signed up in the PNMG. She has a board in her office listing a couple of dozen medical specialties with an array of yellow sticky notes containing names of potential recruits they are working on. How many of the 17 or so doctors in the Ukiah Valley Primary Care group will eventually come too, she can’t say.

“It makes me sad that they wouldn’t give this a chance,” she said.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 20, 2022

Amador, Cabada, Cabrera

TRINITY AMADOR, Willits. Secretly recording an identifiable person without their consent or knowledge to arouse, probation revocation.

RENE CABADA, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

IZIK CABRERA, Fort Bragg. DUI, ex-felon with firearm.

Campbell, Carrillo, Joaquin, Rosati

LEONARD CAMPBELL JR, Hopland. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen property, failure to appear.

MIGUEL CARRILLO-PALOMAR, Fort Bragg. Assault on person, vandalism, disorderly conduct-alcohol, battery on peace officer, resisting, probation revocation.

LEE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

JONATHON ROSATI, Laytonville. DUI-alcohol&drugs, fugitive from justice.

Rose, Villagrana, Woolsey

JEREMIAH ROWE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

BLANCA VILLAGRANA, Covelo. Domestic battery. 

AMY WOOLSEY, Ukiah. Domestic battery. 

* * *


by Alexander Cockburn (December, 1998)

The two most notable anti-Communist literary figures in postwar England were about to enjoy a country weekend together, when George Orwell visited Arthur Koestler’s cottage in Wales. This was Christmas 1946. Also present were Koestler’s second wife, Mamaine, and her twin sister, Celia Kirwan. Orwell took a shine to Celia and indeed proposed to her soon after they were back in London. She turned him down.

The most notorious component of the subsequent transactions was the remission by Orwell to Kirwan of a list of the names of persons on the left whom he deemed security risks, as Communists or fellow travelers. The notoriety stems from the fact that Kirwan worked for the Information Research Department, lodged in the Foreign Office but in fact overseen by the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6.

When Orwell’s secret denunciations surfaced a couple of years ago, there was a medium-level commotion. Now, with the publication of Peter Davison’s maniacally complete twenty-volume collected Orwell, the topic of Orwell as government snitch has flared again, with more lissome apologies for St. George from the liberal/left and bellows of applause from cold-warriors, taking the line that if Orwell, great hero of the non-Communist left, named names, then that provides moral cover for all the Namers of Names who came after him.

Those on the non-Com left have rushed to shore up St. George’s reputation. Some emphasize Orwell’s personal feelings toward Kirwan. The guy was in love. Others argue Orwell was near death’s door, traditionally a time for confessionals. Others have insisted that Orwell didn’t really name names, and, anyway (this was Ian Hamilton in the London Review of Books), “he was forever making lists” — a fishing log, a log of how many eggs his hens laid — so why not a snitch list?

Christopher Hitchens hastened into print in Vanity Fair with a burrito con todo of these approaches. “Orwell named no names and disclosed no identities.” Actually, he did both, as in “Parker, Ralph. Underground member and close FT [fellow traveler]? Stayed on in Moscow. Probably careerist.” Presumably these secret advisories to an IRD staffer whom Hitchens describes as not only a “trusted friend” and “old flame” but also — no supporting evidence offered for this odd claim — “a leftist of heterodox opinions” had consequences. 

Blacklists usually do. No doubt the list was passed on in some form to American intelligence agencies that made due note of those listed as fellow travelers and duly proscribed them under the McCarran Act.

Hitchens speaks of Orwell’s “tendresse” for Kirwan. He insists Orwell “wasn’t interested in unearthing heresy or in getting people fired or in putting them under the discipline of a loyalty oath,” though as opposed to the mellow tendresse for secret agent Kirwan, he had “an acid contempt for the Communists who had betrayed their cause and their country once before and might do so again.”

Here Orwell would surely have given a vigorous nod. Orwell’s defenders claim that he was only making sure the wrong sort of person wasn’t hired by the Foreign Office to write essays on the British way of life. But Orwell made it clear to the IRD he was identifying people who were “unreliable” and who, worming their way into organizations like the British Labor Party, “might be able to do enormous mischief.” Loyalty was the issue.

There seems to be general agreement by Orwell’s fans, left and right, to skate gently over Orwell’s suspicions of Jews, homosexuals and blacks, also over the extreme ignorance of his assessments. Of Paul Robeson he wrote, “very anti-white. [Henry] Wallace supporter.” 

Only a person who instinctively thought all blacks were anti-white could have written this piece of stupidity. One of Robeson’s indisputable features, consequent upon his intellectual disposition and his connections with the Communists, was that he was most emphatically not “very anti-white.” Ask the Welsh coal miners for whom Robeson campaigned.

If any other postwar left intellectual was suddenly found to have written mini-diatribes about blacks, homosexuals and Jews, we can safely assume that subsequent commentary would not have been forgiving. Here there’s barely a word about Orwell’s anti-Semitism — “Deutscher (Polish Jew),” “Driberg, Tom. English Jew,” “Chaplin, Charles (Jewish?),” on which the usually sensitive Norman Podhoretz was silent in the National Review and which Hitchens softly alludes to as “a slightly thuggish side” — or about his crusty dislike of pansies, vegetarians, peaceniks, women in tweed skirts and others athwart the British Way. 

Much of the time he sounds like a cross between Evelyn Waugh, a much better writer, and Paul Johnson, as in Orwell’s comment that “one of the surest signs of [Conrad’s] genius is that women dislike his books.” The racist drivel about Robeson and about George Padmore — “Negro. African origin? Expelled CP about 1936. Nevertheless pro-Russian. Main emphasis anti-white” — arouses no comment.

Then there’s the IRD, an outfit that, at the time of Orwell’s listmaking, was strenuously reaching out to Ukrainian nationalists, many of whom had enthusiastically assisted the Nazi Einsatzgruppen as they went about liquidating Jews and Communists. One IRD man working in this capacity was Robert Conquest, a big Orwell fan and Kirwan admirer. I discussed his role in an exchange with him in The Nation in 1989, one I remember Hitchens said he’d read closely, which makes his studiously vague reference in The Nation to “something named the Information Research Department” disingenuous. Conquest, in the TLS, cites a letter of Orwell’s to Koestler as evidence that Orwell was well aware of what the IRD was up to with the Ukrainians and approved.

When someone becomes a saint, everything is mustered as testimony to his holiness. So it is with St. George and his list. Thus, in 1998 we have fresh endorsement of all the cold war constructs as they were shaped in the immediate postwar years, when the cold war coalition from right to left signed on to fanatical anti-Communism. The IRD, disabled in the seventies by a Labor Foreign Minister on the grounds it was a sinkhole of right-wing nuts, would have been pleased.

* * *

* * *



Here I go again! Solitary confinement in Club Mendo. This time for 18 months.

Solitary because I do not play well with others. A county jail which consists of mostly twenty-something year-old white dudes who sag their pants and say “nigga” every other word. No thanks! As an old-school 54-year-old classic rock country music and Jack Daniels type of dude, I have no patience for these idiots. So I elect to be in solitary in the interest of self preservation.

I don't have much in terms of family or friends out there, so I'm hoping you will send me a complimentary subscription. Thank you for your kindness in a world where there does not seem to be much kindness and compassion.

I hope all is well for you and yours.

Alan Crow

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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A lot has happened in four years! Mural Grand Opening - Friday May 6, 5-8pm

The wall is a fabulous 200-ft. long canvas. See how it started here. 

Why I was wearing a mask in 2018 and what happens when you spill half a gallon of bright green paint on the sidewalk?..

Ukiah's First Friday Art Walk Ukiah Valley Conference Center

#PublicArt #localart #localhistory #localhistorymatters

See the entire project here

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After reading the results of the North Coast Wine Challenge, I am curious as to why the Press Democrat does not include the prices of the winning wines. They are omitting some basic and important information for their readers. Has The Press Democrat decided that wine price information is not newsworthy? Has someone connected with the event requested that prices not be included? Is it because most of the wines are so expensive that most wine drinkers can’t afford them? They include prices for Harvest Fair winners and their wines of the week. Why not for the wine challenge? Please don’t send me to the internet. Put the prices in the paper.

Larry Wagner


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Yes, at 6 foot 7 inches, James Arness was tall, very tall, and some fans would say, quite a tall drink of water! During WWII, Arness won a Bronze Star and Purple Heart among many other distinctions, and his height was used as a strategic tool by his Army Infantry Division as they headed into one of the bloodiest battles of the war at Anzio Beach. Arness obeyed orders to jump off the landing craft first—to determine the depth of the water!

So how does James Arness stack up among some of his cowboy co-stars?

Bruce Boxleitner – 6’2”

Dennis Weaver – 6’2”

Buck Taylor – 6’0”

Ken Curtis – 5’11” 

Milburn Stone – 5’8” (Doc)

Amanda Blake – 5’6” (Because we couldn’t leave out Miss Kitty!)

John Wayne - 6'4”

Jimmy Stewart - 6'4”

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The City of Ukiah Recreation Department is pleased to announce that food vendor application forms for our summer events are now available online at or at the recreation office at 411 W. Clay St. Applications will be accepted starting Monday, May 2, 2022 at 8 am.

Through the generous support of our sponsors, minimal fees will be collected from local, non-profit organizations wishing to participate.

We expect a great turnout for our FREE events. Our patrons at these events enjoy the ease and availability that our food vendors provide. Please submit a completed food vendor application with a complete list of food items and non-alcoholic beverages you wish to sell. Concession offerings will be screened to avoid duplication.

Sundays in the Park: The Concert series includes 6 shows which begin at 6 pm on Sundays at Todd Grove Park. Event dates as follows: June 19th, June 26th, July 10th, July 17th, July 31st, August 14th

Moonlight Movie Madness: We are looking for vendors for 5 of our movie dates. Movies will be held at various locations: June 24th , July 1st, July 29th, August 12th, August 26th

Please join us for a fantastic 2022 season!

For more information please call (707) 463-6231

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WE HAVE COME TO THE END of this mighty and important cycle of publications, the entire body of “The Arcanes” (from 1972 to the present day) which also mark the sudden death of Jack Hirschman who unfortunately did not have time to see this last undertaking of his realized.

The Arcanes represent, in Jack Hirschman’s vast poetic production, a fundamental and extraordinary element, the most advanced point of his questing.

This 4th volume comprises 260 long and orchestrated compositions, collected from these last years of a particular poetic inquiry, which grounded the political engagement and social themes, ever present in his poetry, with stormy leaps of mind, heart and soul, drawn from personal events and references.

The volume is presented in chronological development from 2019 to 2021, encompassing its entire output. Within that span of time having coined a new verb arcanize he created new Arcanes from longer poems published in the past or from unpublished notations that were looking for new form.

Since 2019, the year of the publication of the 3rd volume of The Arcanes, Jack Hirschman has not only continued “arcanizing” his poems from the past, but he has confronted, in poetic form, the rise of the fascism latent in American capitalism.

The Arcanes also features poems rooted in revolutionary communist visions and kabbalistic insights. In a language he calls punography, he composes Arcanes in a comic and liberating language, written in avalanches of puns to relieve the corporate techno-tragic suffering of our times.

* * *


There are about 200 Brown Bears living in Ukraine — in mortal danger now that hundreds of thousands of soldiers are running around the country with Kalashnikov rifles. (I’m assuming both sides are using AKs) The first thing a young infantryman is going to do if he sees a bear out in the field … is to shoot it.

There’s also about 800 bisons — what we call buffaloes — roaming around the Ukrainian steppes, a small herd of buffs, very similar to the buffaloes we have out west. In fact over the decades eastern European buffaloes have been brought to America to restock our own herds and introduce fresh blood into the population. These Ukrainian buffaloes are in danger too.

* * *

I FOUND THE STORIES of Don Juan incredibly entertaining and fascinating in my 20s. There was some controversy later as to the authenticity of those stories, but they never lost their charm as far as I was concerned. I've always had friends from native American cultures. One of my sister's best friends is Navajo, and we became friends as well. One of the reasons I got so into Tony Hillerman novels. I've a good friend of nearly 20 years now. She's both a tribal Shaman and a Tribal Chief of the Ohlone tribe, and lives in Capitola near Santa Cruz. She's been a huge contribution to my spiritual and physical well being. Every single person on this list has a unique life experience. I'm sure there isn't a person here who couldn't relate to some aspect of cultural interaction that's probably fascinating. 

— Marie Tobias 

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Caspar School, 1921

* * *


FIRE VICTIM TRUSTS: “Many people don't seem to have a clue what lawyers, lobbyists and other white collar types get paid these days. It is fairly shocking. But it has been that way for many, many years. Income inequality is alive and well and more dramatic than ever. I never cease to be amazed at how the Republicans have engineered a political landscape in which blue collar workers vote en masse (by generating fear and anger relating to hot button social wedge issues as the energizing force) to support a party whose primary purpose is to lower taxes on the well off and rich, but that is for another discussion. 

Also, keep in mind that many of the victims in the Trust are paying their lawyers 25% of their payout (give or take). Which is also shocking but very typical for this sort of thing. But if you operate on the notion that the lawyers are the ones who negotiated for the creation and funding of the Trust in the first place and that most victims would have received very little, if any, money from PG&E for their losses without the efforts of their lawyers, it isn't too hard to rationalize the lawyers fees as the price one must pay to get anything at all.” 

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Spiritual Intervention in the Stupidity of Postmodernism

While being mesmerized by the media and numbed by the constant deluge of deranged news stories, it is crucial to identify with that which is “prior to consciousness”. That is what works through the body-mind complex successfully, if it is not interfered with. That, and only that, is the path forward, and the way to destruct the demonic and return this world to righteousness. 

Craig Louis Stehr

* * *

Manchester Rancheria

* * *


When the U.S. security state announces that Big Tech's centralized censorship power must be preserved, we should ask what this reveals about whom this regime serves.

by Glenn Greenwald

A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers of Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech's power in its maximalist form. Any attempts to restrict Big Tech's monopolistic power would therefore undermine the U.S. fight against Moscow.

While one of their central claims is that Big Tech monopoly power is necessary to combat (i.e., censor) “foreign disinformation,” several of these officials are themselves leading disinformation agents: many were the same former intelligence officials who signed the now-infamous-and-debunked pre-election letter fraudulently claiming that the authentic Hunter Biden emails had the "hallmarks” of Russia disinformation (former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Obama CIA Director Michael Morrell, former Obama CIA/Pentagon chief Leon Panetta). Others who signed this new letter have strong financial ties to the Big Tech corporations whose power they are defending in the name of national security (Morrell, Panetta, former Bush National Security Adviser Fran Townsend).

The ostensible purpose of the letter is to warn of the national security dangers from two different bipartisan bills — one pending in the Senate, the other in the House — that would prohibit Big Tech monopolies from using their vertical power to "discriminate” against competitors (the way Google, for instance, uses its search engine business to bury the videos of competitors to its YouTube property, such as Rumble, or the way Google and Apple use their stores and Amazon uses its domination over hosting services to destroy competitors). 

One bill in the Senate is co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and has attracted ample support in both parties, as has a similar House bill co-sponsored by House Antitrust Committee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) and ranking member Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). The amount of bipartisan support each bill has garnered — and the widespread animosity toward Big Tech reflected by this Congressional support — has shocked Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook lobbyists, who are accustomed to getting their way in Washington with lavish donations to the key politicians in each party. 

This letter by former national security officials is, in one sense, an act of desperation. The bills have received the support of the key committees with jurisdiction over antitrust and Big Tech. In the Senate, five conservative Republican Committee members who have been outspoken critics of Big Tech power — Grassley, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MI), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) — joined with Democrats to ensure the passage of one bill out of the Judiciary Committee by a 16-6 vote, with a companion bill passing that Committee with the support of 20 of twenty-two Senators. As The Intercept's Sara Sirota and Ryan Grim report: “Both bills have Big Tech reeling” since “a floor vote would likely be a blowout for Big Tech.”

The extreme animus harbored by large parts of the left and right toward Big Tech make it very difficult for any lawmaker to go on record in opposition to these proposed bills if they are forced to publicly take a position in a floor vote. Many Senators with financial ties to Big Tech — including the two California Senate Democrats who represent Silicon Valley and are recipients of their largesse (Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla) — have expressed reservations about these reform efforts and have refused to co-sponsor the bill, yet still voted YES when forced to vote in Committee. This shows that public pressure to rein in Big Tech is becoming too large to enable Silicon Valley to force lawmakers to ignore their constituents’ wishes with lobbyist donations. These politicians will work behind the scenes to kill efforts to rein in Big Tech, but will not vote against such efforts if forced to take a public position.

As a result, Big Tech's last hope is to keep the bill from reaching the floor where Senators would be forced to go on record, a goal they hope will be advanced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York due to his close ties to Silicon Valley. “Both [Schumer's] children are on the payroll of companies the proposals would seek to rein in,” reported The New York Post: “Jessica Schumer is a registered lobbyist at Amazon, according to New York state records. Alison Schumer works at Facebook as a product marketing manager.” Despite that, Schumer claimed to The Intercept that he supports both bills and will vote in favor of them, even though he has engaged in maneuvers to impede the bills from getting a full floor vote.…


  1. Deborah Byron April 21, 2022

    Down the hall their voices ring, their feet are on the run
    Phantoms on the winter sky, together they do come
    Faded lips and eyes of blue, they’re carried in the wind
    Their laughter filled the countryside but they’ll not laugh again

    All the games are ended now, their voices have been stilled
    Their fathers built the tools of war by which they all were killed
    Their mothers made the uniforms, showing which side they were on
    And the young boys were the middle men for the guns to prey upon

    You’ve seen the fires in the night, watched the Devil as he smiles
    You’ve heard a mother’s mournful cry as she searches for her child
    You’ve seen the lines of refugees, the faces of despair
    And wondered at the wise men who never seem to care

    Goodbye, you lost children, God speed you on your way
    Your little beds are empty now, your toys are put away
    Your mother sings a lullaby as she gazes at the floor
    Your father builds more weapons and marches out once more

    Down the hall their voices ring, their feet are on the run
    Phantoms on the winter sky, together they do come
    Faded lips and eyes of blue, they’re carried in the wind
    Their laughter filled the countryside but they’ll not laugh again

    The Lost Children, by Gordon Lightfoot

    • Randy April 21, 2022

      Good call.

      • chuck dunbar April 21, 2022

        Yes, for sure. Thank you, Deborah, for this song (unknown to me until today), a perfect fit for these bad times.

  2. Kirk Vodopals April 21, 2022

    RE: Lost Coast storm camping….
    I’m not an expert mountain man nor super survivalist, but I’ve also been stuck out in the wild during crazy storms. Actually, in high school and early college years, my amigos and I would purposefully venture out during winter storms for a wholesome adventure. I recall one trip to the north side of the Lost Coast where we snapped a pre-camp photo of the wind literally blowing us back uphill as our ponchos turned into sails. We hiked in to a cabin somewhere early on the trail and asked the resident if we could pitch our tent in the lee of his structure as the winds were picking up, rain falling hard and sun setting. He said no. So we hiked back up the hill and pitched tents on the west slope facing directly into the wind. We spent the night laughing and sitting up to hold the tent walls vertical. Next morning we got up, fairly soaked and headed home. What fun

  3. Kirk Vodopals April 21, 2022

    RE: Cary Stayner…
    My Dad’s house in eureka was right next door to the Sund family. I was a high school kid new to the area and my Dad was notoriously anti-social, so I never crossed paths with the family. Then the murders happened and my Dad took us next door to meet Jens Sund, Dad/husband. It’s impossible to comprehend what he was going through. It was a very awkward moment for us all and I don’t even remember what was said. Never saw Mr. Sund again. Such occurrences are the darkest valleys in the trail of humanity, particularly as you grow older and raise your own family. They simultaneously make your pray for guardian angels while affirming your long-held bias that there is no God.

  4. George Hollister April 21, 2022

    Palace Hotel

    “Shankar confirmed Wednesday that she has entered into a purchase agreement with the current owners. It provides for a nine-month escrow “during which additional due diligence will be performed.””

    I assume most are wondering if this escrow will be a rerun of events in the past 30 years where the conclusion from due diligence dictates the only realistic option is to tear it down.

    • Lazarus April 21, 2022

      Palace Hotel…
      I was wondering if Minal Shankar is related to the eminent Ravi Shankar.
      Long escrows on such properties are not unusual. If Ms. Shankar finds the deal acceptable, it could close much sooner.
      Be well,

      • Mark Scaramella April 21, 2022

        I don’t know. But I know that Norah Jones is related to Ravi Shankar.

        • Lazarus April 21, 2022

          If she is, she doesn’t brag about it. I could find no connection in Ravi’s bio or hers. It could be Shankar is a common name?
          Be well,

            • Lazarus April 22, 2022

              I was talking about the Palace buyer…LOL

              • Mark Scaramella April 22, 2022

                I thought so. I was just free-associating in random old-fart style as per ancient custom in the comment section. I can free-associate and punditify with the best of them. I prefer to deal with County matters. However, most commenters prefer irrelevancy and personal chit-chat. It’s Mendo, I guess. Oh well.

                • Lazarus April 22, 2022

                  Ms. Shankar’s bio is impressive. I hope she can bring the old girl back.
                  I once hung out in the bar during the day and partied at/in the Back Door at night.
                  The rooms upstairs were funky but acceptable.
                  Again, I hope it works.
                  Be well,

                  • Mark Scaramella April 22, 2022

                    My uncle, Joe Scaramella, told me that when he first ran for Supervisor in the 1930s and until he was elected, the Supervisors met once a month to decide (mostly) who got which road contracts and approve where the lumber companies wanted them built. They would meet at the Courthouse in the morning, then walked to the Palace Hotel Bar and get drunk and talk.
                    Uncle Joe recalled:
                    “At that time the lumber companies thought they could run everything. In the first major experience I had in the budget making process in the county [in the early 1950s], as Board Chairman, I was called over to approve the budget. The budget had been worked up and prepared by Paul Matthews, the County Auditor. The final budget hearing was held in his office. Present was a man by the name of Charlie Strong who was the general counsel for the Union Lumber Company. He was the only other man there. After the meeting he took us over to the Palace Hotel and bought us a drink of wine. He liked wine so he did that. Well, I said then and there that this will never happen again. I said, ‘The Board meets up there in the boardroom and the budget will come up up there.’ And, by God, that’s what happened. I wouldn’t go back down there any more. I just didn’t like that private sort of thing.”

  5. Bill Pilgrim April 21, 2022

    re: Ukraine.
    The U.S. and its proxies in Europe are moving an enormous amount of weapons into Ukraine. But no one has an idea where those weapons will end up. It’s likely, almost a guarantee, that many of those will proliferate outside of the Ukraine. Some of those weapons will inevitably hit those who now deliver them.
    “Some Of The Weapons Delivered To Ukraine Will Be Used Against Us”

  6. Marmon April 21, 2022

    “If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!”

    -Elon Musk


    • chuck dunbar April 21, 2022

      Good for Elon Musk, a brash, manic, maniacal, and very rich man, who carelessly kills drivers of his cars with a defective, Beta version, “auto-pilot” system.

      At our house we have effectively killed the spam bots with large rat traps– they snap down viciously on their little bot heads, killing at once without any evident suffering. Then we cook and eat them as fried spam, a down-home delicacy….

      Is this post stupid? Sure it is, but so is the post responded to. Elon Musk is not the one who will save us, that’s for certain.

  7. Marmon April 21, 2022

    “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

    -Benjamin Franklin


    • Chuck Wilcher April 22, 2022

      I’m old enough to remember when we had a resident in the Oval Office who thought the press was the “enemy of the American people.”

      Is this is what Franklin was warning us about?

  8. Marmon April 21, 2022

    “We reject the discrimination and oppression of so-called ‘equity’ and we embrace the eternal principle of equality under the law.”

    -President Trump


    • George Hollister April 21, 2022

      Written by a speech writer, and not Trump.

      • chuck dunbar April 21, 2022

        No doubt, Trump doesn’t know half those words.

  9. Jim Armstrong April 21, 2022

    The articles about the medical monopoly that is the Adventist system are right on.
    I have experienced the results personally for several years and they are getting worse.
    What monopoly ever hasn’t?

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