Showers End | Rick Weddle | Pharmacist Charged | Mural Celebration | Bookstore Events | Firefighter BBQ | ALRFD Fundraiser | Eel Free | Shields Report | Chef Salad | Borges/Gurr Ruling | Eel River | ADA Blindness | Ed Notes | Ukraine | Agrihood | Animal Control | G Man | Tenant Protection | Albion Mill | Perez Guilty | Robert Morse | Mendocino Theatre | Italia Hotel | Dead Fox | Cannabis Market | Flying Cowboy | Fringe Festival | Meth/Weed Mobile | Yesterday's Catch | Systemic Breakdown | Dimmick 1940 | Mandel Ballad | Crucified Couple | Unacceptable Views | Gertrude Carpenter
SHOWERS will generally come to an end this morning with some showers developing again over the mountains this afternoon. Warmer and dry conditions are expected for the weekend. Next week there is the possibility of some light rain Tuesday and Thursday. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Covelo 0.50" - Laytonville 0.47" - Leggett 0.44" - Willits 0.30" - Boonville 0.26" - Hopland 0.15" - Yorkville 0.12" - Ukiah 0.09"
Family & friends are invited to gather together safely to celebrate the life and times of Richard Loren Weddle (May 28, 1943 - July 2, 2021) on May 20, 2022 from 2-6 pm at the Caspar Community Center (Caspar, CA).
Live Music & Food will be provided (please bring your own beverages)
In lieu of flowers, consider honoring Rick's memory by donating to your favorite anti-corPirate charity.
For more information contact Carie Anne at 831.297.2135
UKIAH PHARMACIST CHARGED IN COVID SCAM
by Phil Barber
The director of pharmacy at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley hospital was one of 21 people charged this week by the U.S. Department of Justice for their alleged roles in a variety of COVID-19 scams.
The pharmacist, Ranna Shamiya, is one of three people prosecutors say abetted a Napa-based naturopath at the center of a scheme to produce fake coronavirus vaccination cards and sell bogus COVID cures.
Shamiya was charged with making false statements related to health care matters.
According to the Justice Department, Shamiya, 41, used her access to controlled medical information to identify legitimate lot numbers for FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines, and transmitted that information to Juli Mazi, the Napa homeopathic doctor.
Mazi then used the lot numbers to create fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards. Those cards would falsely indicate that Mazi’s customers received an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine with a verified lot number.
A voice message left on a phone believed to belong to Shamiya went unanswered Thursday, and Adventist Health representatives — both at Ukiah Valley and the corporate offices in Roseville — were not immediately available for comment.
If convicted, Shamiya could face five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to prosecutors.
Mazi, meanwhile, pleaded guilty April 9 in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters. Hers was the first federal criminal prosecution related to fraudulent COVID vaccination cards, the Department of Justice said. Mazi provided fake cards to at least 200 people, along with instructions on how to make the documents look like the bearer had received a dose of the Moderna vaccine.
In addition to the fake cards, Mazi sold “homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets” she claimed would offer “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” She lied to the customers, telling them the pellets contained small amounts of the virus and would create an antibody response, prosecutors said.
According to the Justice Department, Mazi had previously engaged in similarly deceptive practices by providing protective pellets and falsified immunization cards in place of childhood vaccinations required for school attendance.
Mazi, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced July 29.
The DOJ also charged two other people it says worked with Mazi. Jason Costanza of El Paso was her office manager and Jaimi Jansen allegedly distributed both the scam cures and the doctored cards through her wellness center in Santa Cruz.
(The Press Democrat)
KATIE TAHJA, GINNY RORBY, NORMA WATKINS, INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY
Special Events at Gallery Bookshop
Sunday, April 24th: In person at the Little River Inn: Ginny Rorby (Like Dust I Rise) and Norma Watkins (In Common)April 24th, 2:00 pm in the Abalone Room
Proof of Vaccination is required and masks are encouraged.
More information at 707.937.2665 or gallerybookshop.com
Saturday, April 30th: Independent Bookstore Day w/ Special Guests Katy Tahja, Ginny Rorby, Norma Watkins, Jennifer Clark
Annual Bookstore Event with Prize Wheel Giveaways, IBD exclusives, Treats, New Catsby Merchandise, and Poetry on Demand
April 30th, starting at 10:30am to 6:00pm
More information at 707.937.2665 or gallerybookshop.com
ALBION-LITTLE RIVER FIRE DEPARTMENT BBQ SATURDAY, JULY 9TH, 2022
The Albion-Little River Fire Department and Fire Department Auxiliary cordially invite you to celebrate the return of our annual fundraiser BBQ on Saturday, July 9, from Noon to 5 PM at ALRFPD Station 812, 43100 Little River Airport Rd., Little River. Please be aware that pending public health orders, the BBQ has a potential to be cancelled if COVID cases go up.
Support our firefighters while munching down on tasty BBQ'd chicken, tri tip, chili beans, corn-on-the-cob, garlic bread and desserts. We will have a wine auction as well as an auction for other high-end items (i.e., vacations, art, furniture, etc.), live music, dessert booth and bar. The drawing is cancelled this year since our decision to hold this event was made later than usual.
Tickets are available at the door and are $25 for adults, $12 for 7-12 year olds, and free for children under 7 accompanied by a paying adult.
Volunteers are needed to help the day before for preparation, to help at the event, and to provide desserts for our dessert booth. In addition, donations for our auction are welcome. Please contact me at email@example.com or Susy Kitahara at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
We're looking forward to seeing every one of you! Thanks for your support.
A LESSON IN “MAKING SENSE” OUT OF A BAD DEAL
by Jim Shields
Quick Weather Report
More good news on the weather and drought fronts.
While all of California is classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as being in a ”severe drought” or “extreme drought”, we’re fortunate here in Laytonville’s Long Valley to have an aquifer that’s been recharged once again by Mother Nature, just as it was last year when we received the lowest rainfall ever, a little over 29 inches.
Although forecasts for this year correctly called for another year of dry weather, I predicted in my annual August forecast that Northern Mendocino County would most likely see an increase in precipitation this rain year compared to last year’s drought bummer.
I said I thought we’d get at least 40 inches of precipitation that is about two-thirds of our historical average of 67 inches.
In the past 10 days, starting on a week ago Monday, we received .76 inches of combined rain, snow, and sleet. Then from Wednesday through Tuesday, April 19th, another 3.40 inches fell, which left us standing with a combined total of 4.16 inches from the three storm events. It also pushed us to a season total of 42.51 inches, thus hitting the 40-inches predicted back in the late summer.
I just lucked out with my forecast, it pays it to be Irish I guess.
So with another two-and-a half months of the rain season left we’ll be getting a few more wet storms passing through.
The forecast for the next two weeks is showing maybe three days of probable light to moderate rain, so we can probably expect to end up perhaps hitting the 45-inch mark.
Last year at this time we had only 28 inches and would end up with a season total of 29 inches, the lowest rainfall ever recorded.
This is all great news, because once again our Valley aquifer is recharged, just as it was last year with that record-low rainfall.
Let me say it again, this is great news!
Wells and Water Hauling
Last week I ran you up to speed on a couple of undertakings I’m involved with growing out of the drought.
The Board of Supervisors last year created a body called the Ad Hoc Drought Committee overseen by Supes John Haschak and Glenn McGourty.
This committee is looking at various issues related to groundwater including existing wells, drilling new wells, water hauling, and reviving the County Water Agency that was tombstoned a decade ago. The Water Agency issue is actually a separate committee endeavor and process, and we haven’t held a meeting yet. Which is fine with me because Mendocino County does not own a single water right to a single drop of water in this county. So by my reckoning, while a functioning Water Agency may be worthwhile to re-establish, we have larger fish to fry at this time. A Water Agency steering committee has been formed to come up with recommendations to re-raise the defunct agency, and at the end of the month we hold our first meeting. I’ll keep you current on any developments.
I have been working on these water issues with many different people including representatives from water districts, water haulers, ranching, farming, law enforcement, environmental health, and concerned citizens, trying to figure out how to best address these problems.
We meet on a monthly basis for about 60-to-90 minutes, and we’ve been able to put together some recommendations regarding water wells and water hauling that include a general framework of proposed rules and procedures. We’re probably setting a record for brevity of meetings that so far have been very productive, a dynamic that is unheard of (at least in this county). I’ll take some very minor credit for that being the case so far because at our very first meeting I presented a general framework that focused on start use at the water source (private sector wells and local government water utilities, continuing through middle use (water hauling), to end use (water delivery to end user property). More work needs to be done but we’ve made a start at attempting to exercise more monitoring and control over some tough problems that are major concerns of many county residents.
For example, we need to develop standard conditions and guidelines for drilling commercial water wells. Private sector owner/operators of commercial wells should be required to obtain a use permit, business license, perform a hydrological study, maintain records of metering, water sold, who it’s sold to, etc. Likewise commercial water haulers should be required to obtain business licenses and tracking logs detailing gallons of water hauled and location of water deliveries, and would be prohibited from after-dark hauling.
The main reason the process is working so far is because most of the folks participating actually know what they’re talking about due to their practical experience in dealing with different aspects of water policy and water operations. To date, there’s been no evidence of hidden agendas or political bamboozling. Neither Haschak nor McGourty have been a problem, not that I ever expected them to be. In fact, they have supported and endorsed damn near all of the advice and recommendations from committee participants.
Most importantly, they also listen a hell of a lot more than they talk at our meetings.
And that squares with my belief that there was a reason why the Creator gave us two ears but just one mouth.
DA Coalition and PG&E Deal Draws Fire From Victims
District Attorneys from six fire-ravaged counties announced a settlement with PG&E this past Monday, eliminating the possibility of criminal charges for the catastrophic Kincade and Dixie fires the electrical monopoly caused in 2019 and 2021.
The six-county coalition is comprised of Sonoma, Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta and Tehama. Mendocino County was not involved in the process, thus qualifying as a smart move by our DA.
Organizers with Reclaim Our Power, the largest coalition of grassroots organizations fighting to hold PG&E accountable and for a transformation of California’s energy system, called out the settlement for its failure to truly hold PG&E accountable for their crimes, and called on Governor Gavin Newsom “to take action to end PG&E’s reign of terror over California.”
Mary Kay Benson, a Butte County wildfire survivor advocate, said, “What would it take to actually hold PG&E accountable? How many more burned down towns, more lives upended, more burned lungs do we need to see until we get justice? For the millionaire executives at murderous PG&E, the money in this settlement is a rounding error, and is an appalling way to mistreat the families, farmworkers, forests and lives damaged by this monstrous company.”
The settlement reportedly will total only 55 million dollars, largely in contributions to local education and non-profit organizations, for damage that will likely total in the billions of dollars. In contrast, it was recently reported that PG&E paid their new CEO Patti Poppe 50 million dollars in pay and benefits in 2021.
That appears to be a good deal — for the new CEO, of course. But as always is the case with common folk, they got the messy end of the stick.
Reclaim Our Power says fire survivors presented the Sonoma District Attorney with tangible, concrete pathways to hold PG&E accountable through this process, including forcing the utility to return to criminal probation, following through on charges for causing damaging smoke, and even making the evidence of what happened to cause these fires public, to avoid future calamities. The settlement included none of these provisions.
The six-county DA coalition, issued a joint statement that is reality-bending. They said it made more sense to make a civil settlement “to maximize the return to the fire victims rather than to seek criminal penalties.” The utility only paid $4 million in fines after pleading guilty to 85 felony charges in the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire ever in California. The judge lamented that the $4 million was the maximum penalty under the law. Unless the federal government decides to prosecute on the Dixie Fire, the deal enables PG&E to avoid the stigma of more criminal convictions on its record as it struggles to polish its tattered reputation while spending billions every year to make improvements in wildfire safety.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “PG&E Corp. cut a dramatic deal with prosecutors in six California counties Monday that enables it to sidestep criminal prosecution from two notorious wildfires. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. instead will pay tens of millions of dollars in fines, charitable contributions and other expenditures. The state’s largest utility agreed to pay more than $55 million in order to avoid prosecution on last year’s Dixie Fire — the second largest wildfire in California’s recorded history — and the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. The company had already been indicted in connection with the Kincade Fire and was being investigated by district attorneys in five counties following the Dixie Fire.”
Anyway, under the deal, the DA in Sonoma County dropped the criminal case and the other coalition DAs announced they will forego filing charges. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento has also been investigating PG&E’s role in the Dixie Fire, and wasn’t a party to the settlement. Since the 2019 Kincade Fire occurred in Sonoma County, it is not in the jurisdiction of the Sacramento U.S. Attorney’s Office, but it is in the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Office, that so far has not been involved in the issue, at least publicly. CALFIRE investigations found that both fires were caused by PG&E power lines.
The deal has clearly angered many fire victims and others, given PG&E’s abysmal history on statutorily-required tree and vegetative maintenance, wildfire safety and the amount of damage done by the two fires. But the district attorney in Plumas County — where the worst of the damage from the Dixie Fire occurred — said the “agreement made sense.”
Of course, this backroom deal probably makes the most sense to those who suffered no losses in life or property, i.e. coalition DAs, because of PG&E’s criminal actions in starting the most destructive and expensive wildfires in California History.
Meet Twittering Elon
My favorite bloviating One-Percenter, AKA Elon Musk, said this week that Twitter’s board of directors won’t be compensated for serving if he acquires the company.
“Board salary will be $0 if my bid succeeds, so that’s ~$3M/year saved right there,” Musk said in a tweet.
It’s not clear who would be appointed to serve the board of a Musk-owned Twitter. Currently, Twitter spends about $2.9 million in cash and stock awards to board members, according to a filing with the SEC. Executives do not receive additional compensation for their seats, so that does not include payments for CEO Parag Agrawal and former chief Jack Dorsey. filing with the SEC.
Musk, the co-founder of Tesla and the sole founder of SpaceX, has been on a mission to acquire Twitter. After building up more than 9% in stock, Musk offered to buy Twitterin a deal valued at about $43 billion. In response, Twitter a special shareholder plan, better known as a “poison pill,” in an effort to fight off a potential hostile takeover. Musk may also be considering a potential offer to Twitter shareholders to take control of the company.
Ol’ Elon argued Twitter needs to be “transformed” into a private company so it can become a forum for free speech. He’s also rightly charged that Twitter’s board members’ interests “are simply not aligned with shareholders” and that the board “owns almost no shares” of Twitter.
I’ve never used or even attempted to use Twitter so I could care less who owns it, but if it must have an owner, who’d be more outrageously out of the ordinary than Elon. If Twitter still allows Traitor-In-Chief D.J. Trump to air his crazed rantings, Musk’s first move should be to convene a Stalin-like show trial and exile him to a life sentence of living with Hilary Clinton, Sleepy Joe Biden and Vladdy Daddy Putin in a Florida senior center rec room.
Putin Appoints General Known as “The Butcher” To Oversee Ukraine Offensive; Time To Call In Elon
Vladimer Putin, a life-long psychopathic killer, has appointed a new general, with a history of targeting civilians, torture, rape, and using chemical weapons to take over operations in Ukraine.
In other words, he’s the mirror image of Putin.
U.S. retired Adm. James Stavridis said Sunday on “NBC Nightly News” that bringing in Russian Gen. Alexander Dvornikov is an acknowledgment of Russia's failure to achieve the "quick takeover" they envisioned.
"The appointment of this new general indicates Vladimir Putin's intent to continue this conflict for months, if not years."
Dvornikov most recently oversaw Russian troops in Syria and was nicknamed the "Butcher" for his use of torture centers, systematic rape, and nerve agents.
Will switching tactics be successful for Russia? If terrorizing civilians is going to be Russia's primary tool in Ukraine, how should the rest of the world react?
Maybe the guy who has the answer is Elon Musk who recently challenged Vladdy Daddy to a winner-take-all rumble with the victor taking the Ukraine.
George Bush II nicknamed the Rusian dictator “Pooty-Poot,” evidently not impressed by Vlad’s reputation as a martial arts bad-ass.
So while Putin is more famous for throwing down than Elon — I’ve seen clips of Vladdy pounding the crap out of opponents all dressed out in judo gear, strutting around with clinched fists in the air and acting like a jackass. But he does have an honorary black belt (which the International Judo Association stripped him of when Pooty-Poot invaded Ukraine).
Musk must think he’s a bad dude himself because he once told blowhard Joe Rogan that he trained in karate as a kid. On top of that, he said he's also dabbled in taekwondo, judo and a little jiu-jitsu.
If the two maniacs were to square off in pay-for-view cage fight, it would definitely set an all-time record for viewers and moo-la.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has documented cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions of Ukraine.
“The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Human Rights Watch which has documented numerous cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions of Ukraine. These include cases of rape; cases of summary executions, and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians. Russian soldiers were also implicated in looting civilian property, including food, clothing, and firewood. Those who carried out these abuses are responsible for war crimes.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying, “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”
Indeed they should and damn quick too.
Here’s my weekly update culled from Califonria Farm Bureau reports.
Water curtailments in Russian River
Farmers and ranchers in the Russian River watershed are likely to see continued restrictions on irrigation supplies this year. State water officials are seeking to extend a 2021 curtailment order for Russian River water diversions. The state plans to revise its emergency drought regulations next month. Farm Bureaus in Mendocino and Sonoma counties are proposing an alternative plan that would incorporate a volunteer, locally driven water conservation program.
Dairy farmers gearing up for state mandates on cutting methane emissions
California dairy producers are facing to curb the carbon footprint of their operations. Dairy and livestock producers must cut methane emissions by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. They are currently on pace to hit a reduction of 22% by then, according to the California Air Resources Board. Nonetheless, participants in a recent California Dairy Sustainability Summit said progress is underway and a climate-neutral dairy industry is achievable.
As mushroom tastes evolve, growers reap premium prices for new varieties
Specialty mushrooms are trending. California mushroom growers are taking advantage of evolving customer demands to produce diverse product lines of healthy medicinal mushrooms, from reishi to cordyceps. One grower, Roberto Ramirez of Mountain Meadow Mushrooms in Escondido, says his organic lion’s mane mushrooms now fetch $15 a pound. That’s far more than the $2.25 he gets for his common white mushrooms.
Legislature advances bill that would reimburse farmers for cleanup of illegal dumping
Farmers are seeking help in addressing illegal dumping on their properties, and state lawmakers may be responding. Landowners complain that people are discarding everything from household appliances to tires on farms and along rural roads, creating unsightly messes and costly and often hazardous cleanup challenges. Legislation passed in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee would provide grants to reimburse farmers for costs of cleaning up the illegal dumping.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
FEDERAL JUDGE: NO EVIDENCE MENDO CONSPIRED
Mendocino County Beats Couple's Pot License Denial Challenge
by Sarah Jarvis
A California federal judge has granted Mendocino County an early win in a suit alleging it violated the equal protection rights of a couple that was denied a bid for a medical cannabis cultivation permit, finding the couple didn't show that the county singled them out.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said in a Monday granting summary judgment that in order to successfully state their equal protection claim, plaintiffs Ann Marie Borges and Chris Gurr needed to show that other applicants received the specific permit they sought without submitting evidence of current cultivation, as required by the type of permit for which they had applied.
"Plaintiffs do not have any such evidence and thus have failed to raise a triable issue of fact on this claim," Judge Illston said.
The type of permit Borges and Gurr had sought was designed to bring existing growers into the legal market, and in order to receive that permit, applicants had to show proof of prior cultivation, the order said. Because their Ukiah, California property wasn't cultivated before January 2016, they sought a so-called relocation permit, which allows applicants to apply for a permit for a "destination site" as opposed to a previously-cultivated site.
But according to the order, the couple admitted that when they submitted their permit application, they weren't cultivating cannabis anywhere in Mendocino County, and that they instead wanted to establish a new cultivation site.
Their application was approved in September 2017, though the county's former interim agricultural commissioner didn't explain why she approved the couple's proof of prior cultivation. The county argued her finding was incorrect because Borges and Gurr didn't qualify as legacy growers, and the commissioner's successor informed the couple in July 2018 that their application was denied.
The couple also alleged that the county's decision to prohibit cannabis cultivation in their neighborhood in December 2018 targeted them "as the only qualified applicants in an agricultural area prohibited from cultivating cannabis based on change in zoning."
"Defendant contends that this claim fails because plaintiffs do not have any evidence that similarly situated permit applicants were treated differently with regard to zoning or that the county's actions lacked a rational basis," Judge Illston said. "The court agrees with the county."
The court also said Borges and Gurr weren't qualified applicants anyway because they didn't meet the requirements for the permit they had sought.
Counsel for the parties didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
The couple initially filed suit in July 2020. They accused their neighbor, Sue Anzilotti, of waging a campaign to stop them from growing cannabis on their 11-acre farm. They accused Anzilotti of bringing frivolous complaints about the source of the farm's water supply and leveraging her personal relationships with county officials to get the couple's application denied on false and pretextual grounds.
Borges and Gurr had claimed that after their cultivation application was preliminarily approved in 2017 under the business name Goose Head Valley Farms, Anzilotti contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and "made false allegations that the water source for [the] approved cultivation site was not approved for use in commercial cultivation operations."
Judge Illston dismissed Anzilotti from the suit in December 2020 and left only an equal protection claim against the county to proceed, according to court records.
Borges and Gurr are represented by John Houston Scott of Scott Law Firm, Izaak D. Schwaiger of Schwaiger Law Firm and William A. Cohan.
Mendocino County is represented in-house by Christian M. Curtis and Michael G. Colantuono, Pamela K. Graham, John A. Abaci and Abigail A. Mendez of Colantuono Highsmith & Whatley PC.
The case is Ann Marie Borges et al. v. County of Mendocino et al., case number 3:20-cv-04537
SONOMA COUNTY REBUFFS DISABILITY NEEDS
by Bob Dempel, ADA number 172467
Sonoma County has now almost eliminated the need for disabled parking spaces in front of highly special needed spaces. The County has advertised that Covid-19 sites were available to all county constituents by circulating a flyer titled “County of Sonoma Covid-19 Testing Sites. Feb.21-27.”
Well, I missed the date by one day. So I phoned a Sonoma County employee, by using the number at the bottom of the flyer. I identified the number as a Sonoma County local number. And sure enough, it was answered by a nice county employee. I explained my dilemma to her and that I wished to be tested for Covid-19 and I was a day late according to the flyer. She graciously helped me by informing me that the site was still open at the Target Store parking lot in Coddingtown. At the specified site I could not find the pop-up type building I expected to find. Come to find out it is a small red and white building at the far end of one of the parking lots in the Coddingtown shopping center. I had to go into the target store and get directions from a Target employee.
Now to set the stage: I am disabled and use a cane to help me get around. So, after getting directions I got back into my car and drove to the lot on the south end of the parking lot. The particular lot was well cordoned off with V Boards and yellow tape. I drove around the specific lot looking for an ADA entrance into the cordoned lot. There was no site of any ADA entrance however there was a small area I could squeeze into right next to the small red and white building. With the help of my cane I hopped to an open window only to be told that I needed to move my car if I wished to be tested. I explained that I was disabled and needed an ADA space close to the building. The attendant had no knowledge what a ADA stood for and that if I did not move my car she would call the police.
With that all of the attendants in the building turned their back to me. If I did not move my car, they would actually going to call the police. The parking police arrived and I explained to the officer that I needed an ADA space close to the building due to being disabled and having difficulty walking without the assistance of a cane. The Parking police knew nothing about what ADA stood for either, nor if there was a close ADA parking site. I needed to move my car to another lot about 50 yards away. There was no ADA signage as to where the other lot was located. Fortunately, the parking police officer was a nice person from Nigeria. I studied in Nigeria many years ago so we struck up a friendship. He pointed to a different parking lot over by the Target Store. There was no signage or any identifiable sign specifying any space to park in the lot.
So I moved my car to a lot way far away from the Covid-19 building, parked my car and walked some 50 or so yards and was finally able to get my Covid 19 test.
Several days later I was at the county administration center on another item and went into the Supervisors’ office and asked for the person in charge of getting a Covid-19 test in Coddingtown to ask why there was no space for ADA parking right next to the building. In fact there were no identified spaces anywhere for ADA parking in any of the parking lots of Coddingtown specific for Covid 19 testing. I talked to Ms. Kyreen Gonzalez, Deputy Clerk of the Board, County of Sonoma. A very personable attentive person complete with a note pad and pencil, Ms. Gonzalez took down all of the information relating to the absence of any help for disabled persons trying to get a Covid-19 test. She then gave me a complaint form that I should fill out. This form would be sent to Los Angeles of all places. Now, I was not there to file a complaint. I was there to get help. But I still needed to fill out a form.
All that needed to be done is for some employee of Sonoma County to put up a sign near the test site saying ADA Parking. Well, what happened is that I started receiving a number of phone calls from county employees. No one seemed to have any knowledge about the needs of ADA persons. I am so embarrassed for the County of Sonoma. I know all of the supervisors personally. Can I please have a job putting up ADA signs? I will work for free.
PS. OH!, by the way I tested negative. Now my grandson can come and visit me.
JUST SAYIN' but is it fair to private local nurseries when publicly-funded Mendocino College throws a weekend-long plant sale?
THE BEERFEST, set in motion lo those many years ago by Brewery founder Ken Allen, will, as always, draw a few thousand dudes and bros and their young ladies this weekend. The spacious grounds of the Boonville Brewery are perfect for the event and the weather is predicted to be good for beer quaffing. The event has always been so well-managed that the more combative bros are confined to the event.
KINDA SUSPICIOUS that Camille Schraeder's mugshot for her recent DUI in Fort Bragg hasn't appeared yet in Catch of the Day, but I'm sure it will soon be right along with everyone else's, although few of the usual suspects preside over a $20 million annual mental health budget, privatized for the Schraeders when it proved to be beyond the managerial abilities of the County of Mendo.
YEARS AGO, when paper-newspapers were still central to the life of this county, the wife of the then-publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal was popped for shoplifting. Judge Henry Nelson, to spare the unfortunate klepto an appearance along with the usual morning coffle of orange jumpsuits, held a special private hearing for the publisher's wife, during which she was “warned and advised” and sent on her way. His honor was highly indignant when news of this cozy arrangement leaked out and harumphed mightily that he had done no such thing, and wouldn't do such a thing, him being a model of judicial propriety.
BEST OF LUCK to Ms. Minal Shankar, as she completes her purchase of Ukiah's long-abandoned Palace Hotel with a view to getting it up and running as the downtown hub it once was. She'll need lots of luck dealing with local authorities whose first move is always to tell the applicant, “No, that's impossible.” Ukiah's phantom, lavishly compensated city manager, Sage Sangiacomo, reinforced by Ukiah's fey city council, ought to personally walk Ms. Shankar through her project. We all hope she won't bow out at the end of a 9-month gauntlet.
WHILE THE PALACE is rehabbed, it may open just as the new and universally unwanted new County Courthouse also opens three long blocks to the east, another giant eyesore for the town sure to even eclipse in pure architectural malpractice the new Hotel Mariupol on Airport Boulevard. Natch, not a peep about another gutting of Ukiah's dying downtown from the City or (of course) County authorities as the new Courthouse proceeds. One would think that their majesties of the Superior Court, sole beneficiaries of the new building, might deign to act (for a change) in the public interest and come out against it.
THURSDAY IN UKRAINE
One of the last Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol has told the BBC that the besieged steelworks where they are holed up is largely destroyed above ground and civilians are trapped under collapsed buildings.
Speaking from the Azovstal plant - the last part of Mariupol not under Russian control - Svyatoslav Palamar from the controversial Azov regiment said defenders had repelled waves of Russian attacks.
"I always say that as long as we are here, Mariupol remains under control of Ukraine," he said.
Earlier President Vladimir Putin called off a planned Russian assault on the steelworks - a maze of tunnels and workshops - and ordered his troops to seal it off instead.
"Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot not pass through," he said.
Much of Mariupol has been destroyed in weeks of heavy Russian bombardment and intense street fighting. Taking the Sea of Azov port is a key Russian war aim and would release more troops to join a Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
Capt Palamar said the Russians had fired on the steel plant from warships and dropped "bunker-busting" bombs on it.
The BBC has not been able to verify any of his account. But it tallies with testimony earlier this week from a Ukrainian marine commander also in the steelworks, who said fighters were outnumbered and running out of supplies.
"All the buildings in the territory of Azovstal are practically destroyed. They drop heavy bombs, bunker-busting bombs which cause huge destruction. We have wounded and dead inside the bunkers. Some civilians remain trapped under the collapsed buildings," Capt Palamar said.
The Azov regiment was originally a far-right neo-Nazi group that was later incorporated into Ukraine's National Guard. Its fighters along with a Marine brigade, border guards and police officers are the last Ukrainian defenders left in the city.
Russia has not been able to take control of the Azovstal steelworks
When asked how many Ukrainian defenders remained in Mariupol, Capt Palamar answered simply "enough to repel attacks".
He said that civilians were in separate locations away from fighters. They were in basements containing 80-100 people each but it was unclear how many civilians there were in total as some buildings had been destroyed and fighters could not reach them because of shelling. Entrances to some of the bunkers were blocked by heavy concrete slabs that only heavy machinery could move, he said.
"We keep in touch with those civilians who stay in places that we can get to. We know that there are small children there as young as three months old," he said.
The fighter appealed for civilians to be given safe passage out of the steelworks and called for a third country or an international body to act as a guarantor for their safety.
"These people have got through a lot already, through war crimes. They don't trust Russians, and they are scared," he said, adding that they feared torture and murder at the hands of Russian troops or deportation to Russia through so-called filtration camps.
Elderly civilians in the steelworks were in need of medicine while there were also about 500 seriously wounded fighters who were not getting the care they needed - including major surgery such as amputations.
"After 52 days of blockade and heavy fighting we are running of medicines. And then we also keep unburied bodies of our fighters whom we need to bury with dignity in Ukraine-controlled territory," he said.
Capt Palamar said Ukrainian defenders also wanted to secure their own evacuation if possible - but there could be no question of surrender.
“As for surrender in exchange for the safe way out for civilians, I hope we all know whom we are dealing with. We definitely know that all guarantees, all statements of the Russian Federation are worth nothing.”
ANIMAL CONTROL, A DISCUSSION
The board of supervisors? Maybe you can get them to spring into action and form an ad hoc committee. Then it can languish along with everything else they work so hard on .
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Get more revenue to the county. More revenue = more resources.
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What are they not doing that you think they should?
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It’s a hard job that pays nothing. Offer more money to the foot soldiers and provide them with conscious training.
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That’s no excuse. When dogs are a danger to the community they do nothing. It takes little funding to take dogs away from low life’s and send them to the shelter for rehoming. When there’s an issue today they often literally dont come See more
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The shelter director Rich Molinari makes a nice salary. Why not start at the top? In 2020: $111,456.81
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Let the humane society take it over.
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I’m out of the loop, I thought animal control was once again under the sheriff dept. For the record Law enforcement has a DUTY under the letter of the law to protect animals. Due to this duty they are allowed to be compensated for their time from fines imposed on the owner. Side note they have no duty under the letter of the law to protect the citizen or their property.
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I was told by a couple sources that the Sheriff had relinquished AC and I'm not sure who is heading it now. HHS? There was no public notification that I've seen.
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They told me that as well. They are now only in Ukiah.
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I'm not sure what happened to you, but I had a great experience with animal control on the coast and the Ft. Bragg shelter - compassionate and kind.
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It is so much better than it was is 2016, leaps and bounds better than it was in 2010 and I don't even want to go into the 60's and 70's! The Board of Supervisors said they were ultimately responsible for animal care in the county. We all need to keep it on our radar and see that a department that serves a wider demographic than any other has the resources they need to make the differences we want to see.
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Something has to change. People need to be held responsible for their actions / inactions when it comes to their animals! Fine the S*** out of them. THERE’S your budget money. And if they have 3 strikes or don’t pay take their animals away. Simple!
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I agree, it is an evolving process (too slow!) and we're just coming out of the lockdowns, too many developing programs on hold. Low cost Spay/neuter services, full rescue partners slowing transfers to breed and behavior.
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Just like the fish & game, same boat same shoe.
LOCAL TENANTS USE NEW STATE LAW TO AVOID EVICTION
by Dennis O’Brien
Several residents of Round Mountain Ranch, a cooperative community north of Ukiah, recently used a new and largely unknown California law, the Tenant Protection Act, to avoid eviction after the Ranch was put up for sale. Although an unlawful detainer action was filed in Mendocino County Superior Court claiming just cause for the eviction, the action was dismissed after the long-time residents submitted proof that their residences were not being taken off the rental market.
All the residents have been living at the Ranch for at least 20 years. The cooperative community was started in the mid-90’s by Claude Steiner, a world-renowned psychologist based in Berkeley. After he died in 2017, his heirs at first wanted to keep the Ranch, but in late 2021 they decided to sell it. The problems began when the buyers-in-escrow wanted the current residents evicted so that new tenants could be brought in and charged substantially higher rents.
The California Tenant Protection Act was passed in 2019 and went into effect January 2020. It requires just cause for evicting any tenant who has resided at the same location for a full year. “At-fault” just causes include things like nonpayment of rent and damage to the rental unit. There are also “no-fault” just causes, including 1) Replacing the tenant with one or more of the owner’s closest relatives; 2) Extensively renovating the unit; and 3) Withdrawing the unit from the rental market. They do not include the sale of the property.
A Complaint for Unlawful Detainer (eviction) was filed in Ukiah on March 30, claiming that “Just cause for this termination is an intent to withdraw the real property from the rental market.” (see attached) Intent to withdraw, however, is not the same as actual withdrawal. The residents/defendants responded with evidence that showed their residences were not being withdrawn from the rental market but instead were already being advertised on the open market by the buyers-in-escrow. It did not matter that the property was being sold, or that the new owner wanted to rent to new tenants. The long-time residents could only be evicted for just cause, and none existed. After receiving the residents’ response, the owners’ attorney asked the court to dismiss the case, which it did on April 11 (see attached).
The Tenant Protection Act was designed to prevent the “gentrification” of neighborhoods and protect long-time residents when the market for housing becomes tight and owners can charge higher rent. Although gentrification is more common in urban areas, it is now beginning to impact rural areas like Mendocino County. It is important for tenants here and throughout the state to be aware that their homes cannot be taken from them simply with a 60-day notice; there must be just cause.
“It used to be that tenants were at the mercy of property owners” said Dennis O’Brien, a retired legal aid lawyer who lives at Round Mountain Ranch. “But the new law now protects long-time residents of rental property. This is especially important for elderly and disabled people who have put a lot of time and effort into creating a home and would have difficulty finding new safe and affordable housing.”
The Tenant Protection Act, which includes all just causes for terminating a tenancy and also sets statewide limits on rent increases, is available online at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billPdf.xhtml
WILLITS RAPIST PLEADS
Defendant Jose Miguel Perez, age 24, formerly of Willits, was convicted by guilty plea Friday morning of two felony offenses and one special allegation.
Pursuant to a negotiated disposition, defendant Perez entered guilty pleas to kidnapping for the purposes of rape, a felony, and assault by force likely to cause great bodily injury, a felony.
The defendant also admitted a sentencing enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim by “causing the victim to become comatose due to brain injury or suffer paralysis of a permanent nature.”
The overall disposition also required the defendant to stipulate that he will serve a state prison sentence of 15 years to life, the sentencing equivalent mandated by law for second degree murder (though the victim in this case did not die).
A formal sentencing hearing has now been calendared for Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department H (top floor) of the Superior Court’s downtown Ukiah courthouse.
As background, in October 2021, the Willits Police Department (WPD) responded to a 9-1-1 call of a person needing help, “unresponsive with blood everywhere,” at the Evergreen Shopping Center at the south end of Willits, behind the Grocery Outlet.
Upon their arrival, the WPD officers discovered a 61-year-old woman on the ground bleeding and unconscious. She was taken from the crime scene to Howard Memorial Hospital by ambulance. From there she was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center due to her injuries.
The ensuring law enforcement Investigation identified Perez as the sole suspect. The evidence collected pointed to defendant Perez having brutally attacked the woman for the purpose of raping her.
DA investigators ultimately confronted the defendant and, after obtaining a waiver of his Miranda rights, obtained a confession.
Given the nature of the convictions, defendant Perez will be required to register annually for life with local law enforcement as a convicted sex offender if and when he is ever approved by prison authorities for release back into the community on parole supervision.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence underlying the convictions were the Willits Police Department and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
The prosecutor who has been handling the case from the very beginning and who will see it through to the end is Assistant DA Dale P. Trigg.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan accepted the defendant’s guilty pleas late Friday morning. She will also preside over the sentencing hearing in July.
MIKE GENIELLA REMEMBERS: Back in the day, we pulled an all-nighter in San Francisco with this great guy and fine actor. We encountered each other at the Curtain Call theater bar across from the Geary, where he was performing. He ended up following us in a taxi to friends' house in Bernal Heights, where we drank cheap gin, laughed at his fabulous stories, and listened as the sun came up to Bobby Morse singing Judy Garland songs while cradling a mop in his arms. The party ended when he realized he had to catch a cab back to his hotel for a few hours' sleep before the afternoon matinee. Oh, what a night.
MENDOCINO THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS HEART-WARMING COMIC DRAMA
Production dates: April 28 through May 29, 2022
Preview Nights: April 28 & 29, 2022
Opening Night: April 30, 2022
MENDOCINO, CA--Mendocino Theatre Company makes its return to live theatre with the heart-warming play Visiting Mr. Green by Jeff Baron. Directed by Ricci Dedola, the production is a “a sweet elixir for these troubled times” that features veteran MTC actor Bob Cohen in the titular role and Gus Mayeno as the young man who is mandated by the court to help him.
Ross Gardiner (Mayeno), a young corporate executive, is assigned by the court to do community service by helping the elderly Jewish widower Mr. Green (Cohen) once a week for six months. What begins as a comedy about two men who do not want to be in the same room together becomes a gripping and moving drama, as they get to know each other, come to care about each other, and open old wounds they’ve been hiding and nursing for years. “Visiting Mr. Green… reminds us how a chance encounter can truly change lives”, says director Dedola.
Set designers Diane Larson and Dale Cohn have recreated Mr. Green’s upper West Side apartment, which looks as if “nothing has changed since the 1950’s”. The evocative lighting is designed by Steve Greenwood and Dave Gealey, with sound by Marco McLean, costumes by Allison Tuomala, and stage management by Patricia Price.
The theatre has been recently renovated, with comfortable new seating, a new HVAC system with air scrubber, fresh paint, new lighting equipment, and an updated sound system. At this time, Mendocino Theatre Company is requiring that audience, staff, and volunteers be vaccinated and that they remain masked while in the theatre.
Visiting Mr. Green runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 pm and select Sundays at 2:00 pm at the Mendocino Theatre Company, 45200 Little Lake Street in Mendocino, April 28 through May 29. The opening night, April 30th, includes champagne and sweet treats provided by A Sweet Affair. Bring a friend for free on Friday, May 6th when you use the code “2FER” at the time of purchase. For tickets and information, go to mendocinotheatre.org or phone 707-937-4477.
So, leave your worries outside, relax, and escape into the magic that is LIVE theatre, with Visiting Mr. Green.
ATTENTION NAVARRO RIVER RESIDENTS
This morning I found a dead grey fox hit on the side of the road. When I stopped to check on her, I discovered she was a nursing mommy fox. I researched finding fox dens, and it said south facing dens, typically within 100 yrd of a water source, little trails leading to them, etc. Found near Cameron Rd by Navarro River. Like 950 Hwy 1 was I think the closest driveway, etc. Can’t sleep thinking about the baby foxes left alone. Anyone living around there, I hear they den close to people and residences often to avoid coyotes. I hope they make it and the rain has kept them quiet inside.
If you live around there, please do a bit of looking for these babies and I can take them to a rescue. I tried to look around but no luck.
— Sarah Stevenson, Westport, 808.430.8469
JUST IN FROM LAYTONVILLE
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!”
ALMOST FRINGE FESTIVAL SATURDAY 4/23!
Don't miss year's Almost Fringe Festival Saturday from 10-6 in Point Arena. There's an amazing schedule of events including food, music, arts & crafts, and kid's activities.
Based loosely on the original Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland (largest art festival in the world), the event is sponsored by the Point Arena Merchant's Association.
Local artists, performers, organizations, merchants, restaurants and others will all contribute to create a fun and engaging street scene. The festival will reflect the complexity and community of the South Coast community, from traditional to cutting edge and artsy to agrarian.
More information is available at pointarena.net.
A schedule of events can be found here:
2:30 IN THE MORNING IN THE 1300 BLOCK...
On Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 2:23 A.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputies were on routine patrol in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputies observed a vehicle parked with the engine idling. The Deputies performed a vehicle check and contacted the male driver and the passenger, subsequently identified as Daryan Grivette, 28, of Ukiah.
The Deputies were familiar with the male driver and knew him to be on active felony probation with terms to include a search waiver. The Deputies confirmed the male's probation status through the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center.
The Deputies performed a search of the male driver and the vehicle, per his probation terms. The Deputies located a commercial quantity of suspected methamphetamine in a backpack. The backpack also contained a personal amount of heroin and packaging material.
The Deputies continued their search and located a commercial quantity of marijuana inside the vehicle. The Deputies interviewed both subjects. During their investigation, the Deputies developed probable cause to believe Grivette was in possession of the suspected methamphetamine, packaging material, heroin and marijuana.
The Deputies arrested Grivette for Felony Possession Controlled Substance For Sale, Felony Transportation Controlled Substance For Sale), Misdemeanor Transportation Marijuana For Sale, and Misdemeanor Possession Controlled Substance Narcotic.
Grivette was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $35,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 21, 2022
ERIC DAVIS, Portland/Ukiah. Burglary, taking vehicle without owner’s consent.
BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Ukiah. Battery, trespassing.
JORGE NIETO JR., Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, under influence.
PEDRO ZEPEDA-SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Engaging in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with child under age 14 for not less than three months.
by Jude Wanga
My sister was hospitalized last month under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. She was already known to social services; this was her ninth detention in 17 years. Each crisis follows the same pattern: detention for up to 28 days, release into the community with little follow-up support, no formal diagnosis, and no real oversight of her progress or managing of her condition. Different reasons have been given for her release. Sometimes they said that R. had withdrawn from social services or refused a formal diagnosis. Sometimes it was because of staff shortages.
R. has a son, born in 2007. When he was four, he was diagnosed with autism. His fifteen years of life sometimes resemble a saddening, and often maddening, tale of missed chances and lost opportunities. The state is supposed to provide a safety net, but J. and his mother, among the most vulnerable and least supported members of society, have too often fallen through it.
Despite her multiple hospitalizations, R. remained without a social worker of her own when last detained. Even when she and J. both had social workers, there was little to no collaboration or overlap in their case files. Adult and children’s social services have become increasingly and dangerously separate. Crucial questions around parenting capability often go unasked, and input from other family members is often overlooked unless a legal challenge is made.
J. had previously been under various orders and plans, but a Child Protection Plan – made when a child is judged to be at risk of significant harm – wasn’t sought until September 2021. A CPP allows social services and the family to work together to identify the risks to a child, and what needs to be done to ensure their safety. A parent cannot close a child’s case at social services while they are under a CPP without the consent of the local authority.
R. was already unwell and heading for another period in hospital. Social services were informed and, last month, she failed a mental health assessment. J. was placed in my care. His behavior was erratic, which I put it down to the distress of having to witness his mother being taken to hospital. I voiced my concerns to his social worker, who told me his behavior was normal for children with autism. But it wasn’t normal for J.
On his tablet I found videos of beheadings that he’d downloaded, incredibly explicit footage that most adults could not bear to watch. His social media interactions included efforts to ingratiate himself into gang culture. His attempts to leave the house when nobody was looking suddenly made sense – he wasn’t running away, he was intending to join up with these gangs.
Trying to get him an urgent mental health assessment, I was passed from his GP to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, back to his GP, back to CAMHS, to the out of hours emergency social services, to CAMHS once more, to 111 and then back to CAMHS. Only after J. attacked his social worker, and I took him to A&E, was it accepted that he was clearly unwell. Neither of us had really slept in three days.
Even then, he had to wait eleven hours to be admitted to the pediatric ward because they were concerned he was still showing signs of aggression. Of course he was: he’d been left in a windowless room for eleven hours. He had been out of school for two years because of bullying and health issues, isolated from almost everyone, and watching his mother’s mental health deteriorate with no intervention. He had lost his uncle and his grandfather in quick succession and, like all of us, was navigating a pandemic that everyone had found mentally exhausting.
When family members are forced to take up the slack left by a failing system, the emotions can be overwhelming. I feel a horrible sense of guilt. I know I have done the right thing, but I’m still haunted by his face when he had to be restrained. I feel broken. And I’m angry.
I’m angry at his mother, my sister, though I know that she herself is sick. I’m angry with adult social services for failing her. I’m angry with the Children’s Disability Service for failing my nephew. I’m angry with CAMHS for abandoning me for 24 hours to deal with a vulnerable child whose mental health was deteriorating rapidly. I’m angry with the hospital for leaving him in a miserable cold cubicle for eleven hours.
I’m angry with all the social workers who ignored my concerns, saying that my nephew’s behavior was typical for children with autism. I’m angry with my family for ignoring my warnings and leaving me to deal with my sister and her son alone.
I’m angry with myself for not recognizing his suffering earlier. The sweet boy who would talk to me about the history of Germany or the Russian Revolution has turned into a deeply troubled teenager who believes that I am a voice in his head, and that the dark and disturbing world he has retreated into in his mind is his reality. I hope he can be pulled back. I don’t know how to forgive myself if it’s too late.
But, mostly, I’m angry at the government. J. is not the only child to have been let down. Earlier this year it was reported that coroners had issued reports to prevent future deaths in at least fourteen cases involving CAMHS in the last five years. Mental health referrals for adolescents were up 134 per cent in 2021 compared to the start of the pandemic, which saw children locked away in isolation for almost a year. Psychiatric waiting lists have increased from weeks to months. There is a chronic shortage of social workers. Teachers report being unable to cope with the mental health crisis among their students. Nearly £1 billion has been cut from government funding for the Early Intervention Grant. CAMHS has seen a 23.5 per cent decrease in spending per person between 2015 and 2021.
A speech by the new president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services lays bare the state of children’s mental health provision in this country:
access to and costs of suitable placements for children in care are unsustainable, all whilst the largest providers make ‘materially higher profits’ ... in the last two years we have seen a huge increase in poor mental health and wellbeing amongst children which makes it even more bizarre that the number of bed nights available to treat the most seriously traumatized children has declined rapidly during the same period ... Would I go as far as to say children are being failed? yes, I would.
There have been individual and departmental failings along the way for both my sister and my nephew, but they are part of a larger story: the systematic breakdown of the public services safety net. Austerity is killing our children.
(London Review of Books)
THE BALLAD OF SHELLY MANDEL
by Fred Gardner
Her name was Shelly Mandel, her age was twenty-three
A clerk typist working for the state
In Alameda County Department of Health
A hundred a week was her fate
And God forbid some morning she comes late
Now early in the fall comes the day the Jews atone,
The high Holy Day, Yom Kippur
And Shelly observed it in her own way at home
Till by evening she felt more secure
(and since everything’s relative, pure)
But Shelly wondered why should the state dock a Jew
When taking off Good Friday is okay
But Reagan just shrugged: getting pushy, aren’t you?
You’re gonna have to sue for your pay
Go away, little girl, go away
Two lawyers were found, they sounded real smart
A credit to Shelly’s own race
And Judge Robert Bostick also looked the part
A Superior smirk on his face
As he handed down his ruling in the case
All should get paid the same holidays
Good Friday the gentiles get none
And the lawyers smiled like they’d just gotten praised
And announced to the press they had won
What a wonderful job we have done!
But Shelly Mandel is out a day’s pay
And many thousands more are deprived
Justice hasn’t changed much since Good Friday
And y'all know how Jesus survived
While the judges and lawyers have thrived
When you go to court you should know the deck is stacked
They’ll uphold the hundred-dollar week
And if we ever want to get Shelly’s twenty back
We’ll have to find a better technique
And you all know of what I don’t speak.
AMERICA'S INTELLECTUAL NO-FLY ZONE
From left to right, from Chomsky to Carlson, war-skeptical voices are being denounced at levels not seen since Iraq
by Matt Taibbi
In a 1979 essay called, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Woody Allen wrote:
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
Allen was satirizing the notion that there are always good choices in life. Often, there aren’t. Sometimes the fork in the road ahead asks you to choose between different routes to hell. The late, great Gilbert Gottfried once made the same point in a standup routine about stranded missionaries just slightly less subtle than Allen’s bit.
Indomitable public intellectual Noam Chomsky gave an interview to Current Affairs last week called, “How to Prevent World War III.” Regarding Ukraine, Chomsky revisited “My Speech to the Graduates”:
There are two options with regard to Ukraine. As we know, one option is a negotiated settlement, which will offer Putin an escape, an ugly settlement. Is it within reach? We don’t know; you can only find out by trying and we’re refusing to try. But that’s one option. The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do. Boris Johnson just reiterated this: sanctions will go on no matter what you do. What does that mean? It means go ahead and obliterate Ukraine and go on to lay the basis for a terminal war.
Those are the two options: and we’re picking the second and praising ourselves for heroism and doing it: fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.
Immediate shrieking outrage of course ensued (why doesn’t Twitter have a special “torch” emoji for denunciatory mobs?). Chomsky was judged a genocide-enabling, America-hating Kremlin stooge.
I reached out to Chomsky about the brouhaha. The good professor was charmingly unaware he’d set off a social media meltdown, but commented in a general way.
“It’s normal for the doctrinal managers to bitterly condemn people who (1) don’t keep rigidly to the Party Line, so can’t be admitted into their circles and (2) have some outreach to the rabble,” he said. “Makes sense, quite normal. Have to make sure that the ‘herd of independent minds’ doesn’t stray.”
Chomsky has often mentioned a proposed introduction to Animal Farm that was undiscovered until 1971. In it, George Orwell said free societies suppress thought almost as effectively as the totalitarian Soviets he ridiculed in his famous farmhouse allegory. He wrote, for instance, that critiquing Stalin was simply not done in the English liberal society of that time:
The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular — however foolish, even — entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say “Yes.” But give it a concrete shape, and ask, “How about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?” and the answer more often than not will be “No.”
Chomsky brought up this Orwell passage again with regard to the Ukraine controversy, citing the example of a former U.S. diplomat named Chas Freeman.
“This sometimes extends to figures who are highly regarded on the inside,” he said. “An interesting case now is Ambassador Chas Freeman, greatly respected within establishment circles. But he has departed from orthodoxy on Ukraine.”
Freeman, a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, recently gave an interview to Grayzonein which he talked about being stunned by the Ukraine invasion. He called it an “impetuous decision” that was a “comparable blunder” to Tsar Nicholas’s invasion of Japan, with the potential for similarly disastrous consequences. At the same time, Freeman was critical of the Western response, saying there’s been a lot of “tendentious nonsense” in coverage and adding, “The war is a fog of lies on all sides. It is virtually impossible to tell what is actually happening because every side is staging the show.”
Chomsky said people like Freeman who depart from the national security orthodoxy are often left to give interviews on smaller independent sites, at which point establishment critics then go after them for being associated with other material on those sites, a neat trick.
“It’s a highly effective system of thought control in free societies, going well beyond what Orwell imagined in his few words on this topic,” he said.
It was Freeman who used a phrase, “fighting to the last Ukrainian” to describe America’s strategy in Ukraine. The phrase incensed many of Chomsky’s critics, who seemed to think these were his words. The interview was oddly misinterpreted in other ways. For instance, Chomsky wasn’t saying Ukraine should “surrender” (as a practical matter even Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky would have a tough time selling almost any cease-fire to Ukrainians, but that’s a different question). He was speculating about what the policy of the United States with regard to Ukraine should be, and laid out what he saw as two lousy choices.
One is continual armament and proxy war against a belligerent and unpredictable enemy that happens to be relying on an outdated nuclear warning system. This path could lead to Armageddon or the complete destruction of Ukraine. The other choice is pushing for a negotiated settlement, the general parameters of which are already known to all parties. This would involve making highly distasteful concessions to a government already denounced across the West for having committed war crimes, and it also might not end hostilities for long.
Total extinction, or utter hopelessness. Death, or Ugu. A depressing take, but treasonous?
The interesting thing about Chomsky’s Ukraine comments wasn’t even that they were so inflammatory, but that he was giving them to Current Affairs. The hits and traffic for Chomsky’s controversy-generating interview could have belonged to the New York Times, Washington Post, or even MSNBC, which last year broke longstanding tradition by airing an interview with the Manufacturing Consent author. However, in this country, when it comes to war, big media companies simply do not air countervailing views, not even out of economic self-interest.
Before “de-platforming” was even a term in the American consciousness, our corporate press perfected it with regard to war critics. Back in May of 2003, months into the Iraq War invasion, the media watchdog FAIR did a study of 1,617 on-camera sources cited on six television networks and came to remarkable conclusions. “Anti-war voices were 10 percent of all sources, but just 6 percent of non-Iraqi sources and 3 percent of U.S. sources,” the group noted, but that was just the appetizer:
Of a total of 840 U.S. sources who are current or former government or military officials, only four were identified as holding anti-war opinions–Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.V.), Rep. Pete Stark (D.-Calif.) and two appearances by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio). Byrd was featured on PBS, with Stark and Kucinich appearing on Fox News.
This preview of decades-later America took place in 2003. Dennis Kucinich at that time was considered too far left even for the Daily Show — who can forget Jon Stewart’s “All rise for the honorable Justice chick with dick!” joke that year about Kucinich’s professed willingness to nominate a transgender person to the bench — and he had to go on conservative Fox to speak against the Iraq invasion. FAIR found there was a literal absolute consensus about war among the major center-left stations ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN almost twenty years ago.
Since then, we’ve only widened the rhetorical no-fly zone. In a development that back then I would have bet my life on never happening, anti-interventionist voices or advocates for such people are increasingly confined to Fox if they appear on major corporate media at all.
This begins with those who are literal exiles or de facto political prisoners, like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange, and continues through the growing list of people like the aforementioned Hersh or Australian filmmaker John Pilger or Kucinich or Tulsi Gabbard or even recent torchbearer fixation John Mearsheimer, all of whom have been put on pay-no-mind lists for views on Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, and other actual or potential military interventions. When Democratic Senator (D-DE) Chris Coons issued one of the first in what’s sure to be a long list of official calls for more direct U.S. involvement in the Ukraine conflict, saying Vladimir Putin “will only stop when we stop him,” the only serious major-media pushback came from Tucker Carlson on Fox. It’s not that Fox is a paradise of enlightened pacifism, but that the center-left media landscape is a total desert when it comes to dissent from Natsec conventional wisdom. Fox in comparison has maybe has a couple of shriveled palm trees on the horizon. Meanwhile, war-skeptical voices on the left are herded into ever-smaller outlets.
A consumer who only reads traditional press will see Ukraine coverage confined to the following parameters: should we stick with just sanctions and sending arms, or up the ante? Look at the way stories about polls on this subject are phrased. Every one is couched in the same language: should we get more involved? Here’s the opening to an AP story, headlined, “AP-NORC poll: More support for Ukraine, concern about Russia”:
WASHINGTON (AP) — As Russia escalates its war in Ukraine and stories of civilian casualties and destruction in cities reach the United States, support has risen for a major American role — and so has fear of the threat Russia poses to the U.S.
This is from NPR’s “Most Americans don’t like Biden's Ukraine response“:
A new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that a majority of Americans think President Biden has not done a good job in his handling of the war. Many say the president has been too cautious, even as a majority say they’re wary of sparking a broader conflict.
Viewers see journalists asking a hundred times a day if we’re involved enough or sending enough arms. Meanwhile one journalist, Ryan Grim of the Intercept, managed to get a question in front of Jen Psaki about whether or not the United States plans to respond to Ukrainian requests for diplomatic help.
The bulk of American news followers probably aren’t even aware that Zelensky has asked the U.S. for diplomatic aid. All the headlines are about Zelensky asking for weapons or sanctions, even if there’s a sentence buried in some of the texts about diplomatic help. Take for example “Zelensky steps up criticism of West, demanding weapons and sanctions“ (Washington Post), or “Ukraine’s Zelensky Calls for More Military Aid“ (Wall Street Journal), or “Ukraine has requested military aid. Here’s how allies are providing assistance“ (CNN).
Still fewer stories have explained that the United States seems to have declined to participate in peace talks, or empower Zelensky to negotiate an end to sanctions. Even fewer have pointed to the growing number of comments from current and former American officials suggesting the U.S. should “pull the Brzezinski trick,” as Chomsky put it. This is the idea that drawing Russia into a long military quagmire could weaken the enemy in the long run, as Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser (and Dad of MSNBC’s button-eyed yammerer Mika) Zbigniew Brzezinski believed was the case after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. “This is the model that people are now, uh, looking toward,” an unpleasantly smiling Hillary Clinton said on CNN not long ago.
If you’re on the wrong side of the national security consensus, or even just want to suggest that alternative policy ideas exist, you won’t make it near the press mainstream now. Policing on this issue is significantly more intense than it was even in the virtual unanimity of the pre-Iraq period. Moreover, as Freddie deBoer just noted on Substack, even people who “define themselves by championing dissent and free speech” are “no less likely to demand that everyone get on board with the dominant narrative,” adding, “a lot of people who regularly mock Instagram-bio politics have put up Ukrainian flags in theirs.” America seems tired of thinking and wants to get back to cheering, but sometimes there isn’t really anything to cheer for. Sometimes, unless you’re a Raytheon executive, all the options are awful.