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FROST ADVISORY remains in effect until 9 am PDT this morning.
COOLER TEMPERATURES AND BREEZY AFTERNOONS are expected to continue while additional chances for light rainfall will be confined to northern portions of the CWA on Thursday. A couple of weak fronts will also pass over the region on Saturday and then again early next week. Otherwise it will be a mainly dry week with temperatures near or slightly cooler than normal. (NWS)
REDDING ACCUSED OF EXTORTION
by Malcolm Macdonald
Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board member, and candidate for 5th District Supervisor, John Redding has been accused of extortion. The extortion accusation comes via an April 14th email written by attorney Arthur D. Hodge of Carlsbad and addressed to Redding.
Here is the offending statement from a March 25th email in which Redding makes apparently extortionate demands of fellow board member Amy McColley:
“I will offer you two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.”
Of course, we need some back story. Here is the full content of the March 25th email Redding sent to McColley. It begins with a reference to the February 8th disappearance of MCHCD board meeting zoom recordings:
I learned today that you are in possession of evidence that I did not delete the Zoom recording. I learned of this by speaking to Jessica [MCHCD Board member Jessica Grinberg] and Jimmy Coupe [Adventist Health IT employee] who, along with [attorney] Jacob Patterson, performed a forensic audit of the Zoom account shortly after the meeting. Jimmy determined that the IP addresses active that night belonged to you, very likely Sara [MCHCD Board member Sara Spring], and Jessica and most definitely not me (as I have contended from the beginning.) It appears that the IP address that had my name attached could belong to Sara. I have the screenshots and IP addresses to backup all this. These screenshots were provided to Jacob and almost certainly to you.
It is fortuitous that someone disclosed Patterson’s timekeeping records for February to Malcolm Macdonald. These records, which you did not disclose to other Board members, show that you pursued your attempt to blame me for the deleted recording a full two weeks after it had been established that I was not involved.
Yet you have not released this information that would clear me and continue to insist that it was in fact me that deleted the recording. You have not withdrawn or modified your referral to the District Attorney leaving people to think that I have possibly committed a felony. This puts you into legal jeopardy in several ways: defamation of character with malicious intent, framing me for a crime (providing false information or claims in order to convict me of a felony) and unlawful interference in an election.
I will offer you two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.
At a March 31st regular MCHCD Board meeting Redding again expressed his belief that McColley linked his name with the disappearance of zoom recordings on February 8th and withheld what he believed was exculpatory evidence. He stated that he had “engaged a prominent San Francisco law firm” on his behalf. He termed McColley's actions a form of retribution.
In a phone discussion with yours truly the day after the March 31st meeting (and reported in the AVA during the first week of April), McColley stated she had contacted zoom personnel who demonstrated to her that the district's version of zoom did not support record keeping of identifiable IP addresses, thus she could not draw any definitive conclusion as to who might have caused the disappearance of the zoom recordings on February 8th. McColley also asserted she had not seen a written report about the supposed IT investigation on February 9th. She claimed that Grinberg took it upon herself, without board direction, to contact the Adventist Health IT employee to conduct a “forensic audit.” McColley added that her method of handling the February 8th zoom disappearance involved contacting the County District Attorney's office to pursue the matter.
Which takes us to the letter sent by McColley's attorney, Arthur Hodge, on April 14:
Dear Mr. Redding:
This office has been retained in connection with your repeated harassing and extortionate communications with and pertaining to Amy McColley. The intent of this letter is to cease such harassment prior to court intervention.
Firstly, Ms. McColley has not, as a matter of law, accused you of anything. During the Board meeting of February 24, 2022, she and other Board members simply notified the Board and the public of deleted Board meetings that were to be kept as the Board's official meetings on the Zoom platform. An investigation is underway and, for the public's interest and the Board's integrity, Ms. McColley sincerely hopes that these meetings are able to be retrieved.
Secondly, even if Ms. McColley's statements during the Board meetings could be seen as accusatory, they are protected speech under California law. California Civil Code section 47 provides that a publication or broadcast is privileged if made in the proper discharge or an official duty or one made in a legislative proceeding. Clearly any purported accusatory statements made by a Board member during a Board meeting is privileged pursuant to Civil Code section 47.
What is not privileged speech, however, is extortionate speech. On Friday, March 25, 2022, you emailed Ms. McColley and threatened her with 'two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.' This is facially extortionate and both civilly and criminally unlawful.
In California it constitutes criminal extortion to threaten to accuse another of a crime, coupled with a demand to obtain an official act of a public officer. (See Cal. Penal Code, 518,519.) Extortion is both a crime and may form the basis for a civil action in tort. (See, e.g. Philippine Exp. & Foreign Loan Guar. Corp. v. Chuidian (1990) 218 Cal. App. 3D 1058, 1078, citing Pen. Code, 518, 519.)
Accordingly, because your communications both threaten to expose Ms. McColley to criminal prosecution and demand her to make a public apology as a Board member in lieu thereof, your communication constitutes extortion as a matter of law. Further, recently a California Court of Appeal found that a threat to terminate employment coupled with a demand for money constituted extortion. (See Galeotti v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs Local No. 3 (2020) 48 Cal. App. 5Th 850, 853.) Your demand that Ms. McColley resign or face crimial prosecution is similarly an extortionate communication.
Ms. McColley has no interest in litigating the above and simply requests that you cease your harassing and extortionate communications and behavior. If, however, you continue to harass and attempt to extort her, she will have no choice but to seek court intervention and will seek all fees, costs, and sanctions associated therewith.
Should you wish to discuss this matter, I am available by phone or email. Please let me know when you are available and I will try to accommodate a discussion. Please do not attempt to communicate with Ms. McColley directly regarding these issues.
Very truly yours, Arthur D. Hodge.
A little over a week after Redding's March 25th email to Ms. McColley, I was preparing an article about MCHCD that placed in question Redding's unilateral handling of MCHCD financial matters. I sent drafts of the article to Redding multiple times on April 3rd. At a little after 2:30 that afternoon, he responded to a slightly expanded version of the article with: “Print this pack of lies and I will add your name to the lawsuit.”
*The article went out as written.
SERRANUS HASTINGS & H.L. HALL
I am a graduate of Hastings College of the Law who has become interested in the swirl now happening inside the California Legislature regarding whether the Legislature should rename the school because in 1859 Hastings had been complicit in the indiscriminate killing of Yuki and other Indians in the Eden and Round Valleys by Walter Jarboe and the men he directed who called themselves the Eel River Rangers.
To that end and through the never-ending wonders of google, this morning “The Genocidal Namesake of the Hastings School of Law,” the article you wrote in 2017 for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, came to my attention.
About that article I have two questions:
1. You report that H.L. Hall was known as “Texan Boy” Hall, was 6' 9” and weighed 280 pounds. Am I correct that your source for that is the article the Napa Reporter published in 1859, which you cite in your article? I ask because I have read the statements the investigative committee of the California Legislature acquired in 1860 and that are located in the Indian War Papers and none of the individuals who contributed statements made any mention of Hall's nickname or his height/weight.
2. You report that Walter Jarboe was appointed as Ukiah's first law enforcement office. What was your source for that? And was Jarboe given that appointment before his tenure as the captain of the Eel River Rangers? Or after? And if the latter, for how long did he serve?
Also, do you know whether Jarboe lived out his days in Ukiah? I ask because, if he did, there might be an obituary. (It appears that the Ukiah Daily Journal began publishing in 1890. If in 1859 Jarboe was in his late twenties/early thirties and if - who knows? - he lived into his sixties, then the Journal may have reported on his death. In any case, thanks for your attention to these out-of-the-blue and most esoteric queries; which I much appreciate.
ED REPLY: Dear Mr. Mitchell:
I wish I could be more precise about the Texan Boy ref, but my sources not being immediately retrievable, I will look and hopefully let you know.
As for Jarboe, he's mentioned often but only in vague sources as in his post-state assassin role when he settled in Ukiah where he was the town's first lawman. I assume he died there.
There is much about the history of the period contained in the essential “Genocide and Vendetta.”
I've taken the liberty of posting your letter on the off chance it might scare up the information you seek.
by Mark Scaramella
IN MENDOCINO COUNTY it takes staff more than a month to post the Board minutes, sometimes as much as two months, even though they are drafted and approved at the very next meeting where they are often referred to. Maybe the Clerk of the Board is too busy. But since the minutes are simple “summary” minutes with nothing but the item and the action taken, it seems like they could be posted quickly.
We found the latest minutes (posted as of April 26) are for the March 3, 2022, almost two months ago. They are only interesting because we found a cannabis deadline which will be interesting to see if it’s met.
Minutes, March 3, 2022:
Item 4a: “Discussion and possible action including direction for County Counsel to work with Mendocino Cannabis Program staff in adopting changes as needed to section 10A.17.080 and 10A.17.090 and/or tax ordinance chapter 6.32 for the purpose of extending non-cultivation and stay of permit for cannabis cultivators. Sponsor: Supervisor Haschak.”
Action: “Upon motion by Supervisor Haschak, seconded by Supervisor McGourty, IT IS ORDERED that the Board of Supervisors directs County Counsel to work with Mendocino Cannabis Program staff to adopt changes as needed to Section 10A.17.080 and 10A.17.090 and/or Tax Ordinance Chapter 6.32 for the purpose of extending non-cultivation and stay of permit for cannabis cultivators; and directs County Counsel to focus on the tax first approach rather than the licensing first approach.”
Like almost everyone else we have no idea what they mean by the “tax first approach” as opposed to the “license first approach.” But maybe we’ll find out soon. Because…
Item 4b: Discussion and possible acition including direcition to staff to create an appeal process for cannabis application denials and return to the Board of Supervisors before May 1, 2022. Sponsors: Supervisor Haschak and Supervisor McGourty.”
Action: “Upon motion by Supervisor Haschak, seconded by Supervisor McGourty, IT IS ORDERED that the Board of Supervisors directs staff to work with the Cannabis Ad Hoc to create an appeal process for cannabis application denials, and return to the Board of Supervisors before May 3, 2022; look at options for full cost recovery; and look at options regarding the continuing of cultivation while an appeal is being processed.”
Translation: Lots of people have been denied permits for petty reasons and there needs to be an appeal process of some kind. But “full cost recovery” means that even if your pot cultivation permit was denied for a petty reason the County is still going to hit you with a bill for the appeal for as much as they can possibly pile on.
Note also that the appeal process is after the Cannabis Department has turned down an applicant. Most of the applications were originally submitted more than two years ago (some go all the way back to 2017). Also, at the last meeting the Board directed that the Cannabis Department produce “big picture” cannabis permit statistics.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for May 3, 2022, two days after the deadline set in Item 4b. Will County Counsel put a draft appeal process on the May 3 agenda? Will the Cannabis Department have any useful statistics? Will the appeal cost be exorbitant? Remember, this program has been in place since April 4, 2017 (with tinkering and starts and stops), five years ago, and they are only now considering a process to appeal a permit denial.
The County’s Cannabis Cultivation Permit webpage (mendocinocounty.org/business/cannabis-permits-and-licenses) is woefully out of date, not even acknowledging that the program is now its own department nor mentioning the “application portal” that was newly established:
“Cannabis Cultivation Permit. Beginning Monday, April 1, 2019, the Mendocino County Cannabis Program, now under the Department of Planning and Building Services, will accept Phase I Cannabis Cultivation Applications. All applications for cultivation must be submitted via drop box located at the Department of Planning and Building Services.”
However, if one pursues the question further you end up on: mendocinocounty.org/government/cannabis-cultivation/cannabis-cultivation-ordinance where there is some current information, sort of.
But, then again, if you go to the FAQ section you find more outdated information: mendocinocounty.org/government/cannabis-cultivation/cannabis-cultivation-faq
“May 4, 2020 is the deadline to apply for relocation outlined in the ordinance 10A.17.080 (B)(3)(a)-(g). Applications include submitting a completed Relocation Worksheet with the required materials to the Cannabis Program on or prior to May 4, 2020. Incomplete or late applications submitted after the the May 4, 2020 deadline will not be accepted.”
It’s now two years after that deadline and the FAQ has not been updated.
No wonder pot growers who want to go legit are having difficulty.
* * *
LOTS OF PEOPLE ASK what the County could do as a practical matter to make a dent in the Housing shortage problem. Supervisor Gjerde thinks “accessory dwelling units” would help. But when the rubber hit the road in the Coastal zone, getting permits for those “ADUs” came out to over 700 pages of “revisions.” Others say permit costs and fees should be lowered. Mendo has also developed some standardized specs for small houses which are supposedly “pre-approved.”
THERE'S MORE to a permit than the standardized specs, principally water and sewer and a host of requirements that cost money and take time. There are other ideas out there, mostly theoretical, none of which seem likely to make a noticeable difference. Supervisor Pinches proposed using non- or under-used county property to set up trailer parks like the post-fire set up at Lake Mendocino in 2017. That’s WAY beyond Mendo’s abilities.
A BIG REASON that gets overlooked a lot is the ridiculous amount of time it takes to process a permit. We know of a Boonville carpenter waiting four years for a simple one-story private home permit. If permits take too long to process, prospective buildings and contractors get discouraged and give up. Or the housing market changes, or the financing dries up, or…
THE SINGLE MOST USEFUL THING Official Mendo could do in the short-term and without difficulty is for the Planning Department to provide a monthly permit status report to the Supervisors. It would list all residential and commercial building permits with the date of application, a brief description, the zipcode/city, the fee(s) paid, and the status of the permit’s processing. We have heard that even a simple building permit can take years, but nobody’s ever even tried to keep track. In addition to shedding light on how long it’s taking to process permits, and maybe light a fire under a planning staffer, it would allow the Department, the Supervisors, and the public to see what the problems are and where and perhaps even address problems that are common to multiple applications in an area.
WILL SUCH A SIMPLE REPORT ever be produced? Will anyone even ask for one? You probably already know the answer to that.
ALBION FLEA MARKET: May 14 and 15, open at 9 am...rain postpones it to following weekend. Location 3 1/2 miles up Albion Ridge, near the school, easy parking. Many vendors will be offering everything from A to Z, F'rinstance: sterling silver, vintage china and glassware, cinnabar necklace, titanium-ceramic cookware and stove top, brand new! Garden pots, plants, succulents, kids' toys, hand-made Tibetan wool rug, the usual array of books, movies, music, camp chair-brand new, artwork and supplies, etc.
PLEASE WATCH "KISS THE GROUND"
I encourage everyone to watch the documentary movie “Kiss the Ground” and share it with others. You will probably be amazed by some of the info in this movie, both good and sad. I was blind to just how much of US land can no longer use carbon in the way nature intended it to. The movie suggests a proven means of stopping global warming and saving our food and agriculture, and thereby our health and the health of the planet.
Available through the library and many sites online (see www.kissthegroundmovie.com).
It's time to put pressure on our government to educate and HELP farmers to convert to regenerative methods, instead of the counterproductive “no grow” or one crop incentives our taxes are currently paying for.
Navarro and beyond
HOME FOR RENT: Charming & Cozy 2 BR, 1 BA Boonville home with appliances (Fridge & Stove) & propane heat. Near elementary school. Fairly private w/nice yard, porches & carport. Lots of nice touches like multipaned windows & lovely Redwood woodwork. $1600 per month. 707.684.9575.
ALL IN, BUT....
I am all in on the need to regulate the use of groundwater in this time of growth and climate change. What I fail to understand is how creating a new bureaucracy and funding it through property taxes and fees will help. It seems like homeowners who rely on well water are being asked to foot the bill while agricultural businesses will simply pass the fee on to their customers. The net result is individual homeowners will be getting it from both ends. How about leaving individual homeowners alone and just meter agricultural businesses that use most of the water?
ON REAL OLD AGING
Itty bitty bits
Of perception floating by
Grab ‘em while you can
— Jim Luther
ATTENTION EARTH WARRIORS! The very ultimate in fake environmentalism is coming up as the “34th Annual Bioneers Conference” at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For a people's price of $525 you can attend a day's worth of blah-blah from enviro-hustlers, all of whom are paid fat “honoraria” for wowing the wealthy-gullible with eco-fantasies. (Big shots aren't paid, they get “honoraria” wrapped in gold-tinged stationary.) But a mere $550 for all three days. Such a deal.
AS THE BIONEERS stomp across the skies from one jive conference to the next to reassure the bourgies that by separating their plastics from earth fill and voting for Biden they're saving the planet, you have to wonder how these eco-hustlers justify their destructive lives, their parasitism on the lives of real environmentalists.
ON THE SUBJECT of delusionals, the invited mob at CEO Angelo's send-off last weekend held at, of course, a winery, reminded me of one of those police stings, you know, where the cops start a rumor that they'll be giving away Super Bowl tickets to every crook who shows up with a stolen item. But at the Angelo event, attendees were admitted only if they believe that official Mendocino County is not a sinkhole of incompetence, opportunism, nepotism, and petty corruption. Bingo! Not a skeptic in the bunch.
ON A MORE HOPEFUL NOTE that there remain more encouraging human-type beings than not, I was happy to encounter April Gonzalez in the checkout line at Safeway this morning. Locals remember April as the friendly counter lady at the Navarro Store and, by the way, a highly skilled jewelry maker. April, a grandmother several times over, now makes her home in Ukiah.
AT THE CHECK-IN stand next to mine, a guy lined up with eight (count-em) carts of many varieties of potato chips. My checker had to call for reinforcements to process the buy because grumbling patrons were suddenly backed up. I tried to diplomatically ask Chip Man what he had in mind with his year's supply. “Excuse me, sir, what are you planning with all those chips?” I took a closer look at the person only to see that he was a woman. Too late. “Sorry,” I said. "My eyesight isn't what it was.” She was nice about my gender misidentification. “That's ok,” she said, but said no more as she piled pile after pile on the checkout conveyor.
I ASKED my checkout guy, “Do you get giant purchases like that one very often?” He said, “It happens, but not very often.”
SAFEWAY has posted on its entry doors a fairly long list of job openings, all of which, I think, are union-protected.
LARRY WAGNER WONDERS: “Had a nice walk at Pudding Creek. Saw this interesting sight. Is this our new flag that recognizes the state of the union?”
OVERPOPULATION OF CUFFY IN ANDERSON VALLEY
by Debra Keipp
Coastal, Cuffy’s Cove, was named after the Russian word for “bear”. Mid-February 2022, I came home to the contents of my outside refrigerator scattered on the floor of the shed. Previously, the fridge sat there for three years, undisturbed by predators. Thinking it was stripped by raccoon, only the bottom shelves were emptied. The top freezer compartment hadn’t been touched. I cleaned up the mess, washed out the refrigerator, and tied a kayak strap around the lower breached compartment to foil folly in the event of their return. But before I could get to the store to buy the childproof locks, the next night, the freezer too, was emptied. The empty packaging of all else scattered throughout the forest undergrowth leading to the game trail.
While in Boontberry Market a few days later, I overheard Derrick talk about our neighbors suffering insult from bear “disturbances” to hen houses, and the like. Even though we have a seriously-used game trail on the property, I never saw a bear on the property where I live. I’ve watched mountain lion with twin cubs, lynx, bobcat, fisher cats and deer use the trail, but never a bear… yet. When I returned home, and as I collected the trail rubbish mid-day, I noticed bear splat and fallen limbs broken to bits from where the bear rolled around to scratch, and maybe even took a nap after eating; the grasses lain down, matted. Black bear are berry eating bear. When they defecate, it’s called bear splat, because of the diarrhetic affect of the berries.
A month went by before it happened again. It was midnight and I was up late finishing a movie when my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten dinner. I had a hankering for a Waldorf salad snack from the refrigerator. I undid the childproof clasp, opened the refrigerator and with both hands full of ingredients, didn’t latch the lock, knowing I’d return shortly to return the remaining perishables to the fridge. As I cut the fruit and chopped the walnuts, I saw the refrigerator light go on in the darkness of the shed. I looked out the back window to find the bear sitting placidly, gazing like a human into the contents of the refrigerator, contemplating what to eat first. The bear’s contented posture was so human-like, I fondly remembered one of my favorite endearing bear stories as a child, “Blueberries for Sal”.
Shaking off empathy, I banged on the window and scared it out of the shed, but could see its legs where it stood just outside the frame of the building, trying to out-wait me. As I continued attempts to startle the bear, it eventually lumbered over to a 100 foot fir tree and effortlessly lurched ten feet up onto the three foot round trunk and hung there with its sharp nails buried into the thick bark. It hung there for a minute or two looking at me as I shined the torchlight in its face. Finally it descended to the ground around the tree and sat there looking sheepishly, trying to avoid the LED light flooding its face. Now and then it would awkwardly scratch the tree like a cat extending its claws. I took that as a sign of uncertain aggression. Finally the bear, losing patience, returned to the refrigerator, batting the door 180 degrees open with a paw. I screamed at it, and the bear left the shed once more, standing again by the fir tree rocking uncertainly, to and fro. A third attempt at the fridge, it grabbed from the door, a big brick of butter between its teeth and fled. The stench from the bear was palpable in the air. I could smell it the minute I stepped outside.
Even though it was 12:30 at night, I phoned and awoke my favorite hip-neck cowboy, Ernie Pardini, to ask for help. Ernie must sleep with his boots on, because he lives just down the hill and was on site, pronto without complaint. I needed someone who’d encountered a few bears to shine headlights and make noise while I stepped out to lock the latch on the fridge, and that’s what we did. When I warned Ernie not to exit his truck immediately because I had no idea where the bear hid, the retired logger responded, “I ain’t afraid of no bear!”. As he marched forward, he whooped and hollered at the bear, scaring it into transient retreat.
Ernie and I sat around for a bit, telling ghost stories, waiting without luck for the bear’s return. Still able to smell the strong bear scent, Ernie said the bear might have been a boar (male) if I could smell it that strongly. After Ernie left, it was only minutes, nearing 1 a.m. before the bear returned. I watched as it tried to re-open the fridge without luck. Obvious that this was not the bear’s first encounter with the anatomy of a refrigerator, it walked around to the rear of the fridge, stood up, and attempted to push the six foot fridge over on its face probably hoping it would flop open. However, one of the adjustable feet became stuck under the pallet on which it sat, making it impossible to tip over – instead, merely turning the fridge sideways. The bear returned to the front of the fridge and fleetingly bit the bottom left corner of the door to pull it open, in one last frustrated attempt at ...finding food. Finally, at about 2:15 a.m., I heard no more from the brown colored black bear with a speckled nose, and laid awake the rest of the night from the excitement.
Each time a bear comes around, you can hear it loping through the woods. Bear are not light footed; nor silent like deer or cougar. They bump and thump, claw, scrape and scratch themselves against trees, roll on limbs, breaking them to scratch their stinking hides, alerting you to their arrival.
Again, for the third consecutive night, before 5:00 p.m., I felt the vibration of a thump from outside. Looking out the window, a smaller teenagerish bear circled the shed. My hens were still out loose, but in no danger, as the bear ignored them. It was still light out. I stepped out the door beating on a metal pot as I verbally menaced. Surprised at how easily the bear gave up, it took off uphill, disappearing into the woods toward the dump.
Feeling another thump and rumble outside, within an hour, a second much larger bear arrived. I got a good picture of it this time, having reset the game cam, aiming it directly at the refrigerator. Having no success with the locked refrigerator, the bear chose to attack a tightly sealed bucket of chicken grain scratch. It stepped on the sidewall of the rigid waterproof bucket after knocking it over, and the sturdy screw-on lid easily popped off like toothpaste out of a tube. Grain covered the ground. The bear munched a couple bites before returning to the refrigerator, trying once more to force it open, without luck.
Each night I called Fish and Wildlife to report the bear’s invasion to learn that they would do nothing, but give advice and ask if I wanted to participate in a future scientific survey to determine the nature of the animal’s encroachment. Mr. White added that ammonia on rags left lying around is an aroma bears usually avoid, so try that. (Ammonia didn’t work.) When I mentioned shooting it myself, he said it’s very difficult to kill a bear because their heads are so strong and thick, you can only kill with a heart shot. Then he offered that bean bags are sometimes shot at bear to dissuade intrusions, not to injure, but to sting and scare away.
I hadn’t seen a bean bag gun since I was in Israel in the 1980’s. Rubber bullet guns, too, also used in Berkeley for riot control during the one and only Berkeley anarchists convention circa 1990.
“Gee, I’m fresh outa bean bag bullets. Any other suggestions?”, I inquired.
Mr. White informed that a permit is necessary to shoot and kill a bear, especially if it’s not bear season, and that you can’t shoot a bear at night; only in the daylight hours. Hunting dogs are now outlawed, too. A lot of legal parameters around the dispatch of bear. To top it off, legislation was passed a couple of years ago, superseding all the legal parameters, making it illegal to hunt bear, with a moratorium on permits: period. The point being, there haven’t been any bear permits issued in the two years, since legislation changed, and as a result, bears have overpopulated as well as moved to lower ground in search of water during drought, also increasing their numbers to residential areas and food sources.
Mr. White assessed that the bear presently is a nuisance; not a crisis, since black bear don’t usually attack humans unless there are baby cubs involved. I was left to suppose, since there are not yet any reported maulings in our vicinity. The small bear seemed aloof, while the larger more persistent. I would not call either bear aggressive; simply hungry. Often you hear of hikers encountering bear who simply run away when meeting humans in nature. Mostly black bear, which dominate Northern California, are unlike the nearly extinct grizzly that used to populate Montana and Utah.
My sister once worked in Montana’s Glacier National Park’s MacDonald Lodge during the 1960’s. She loved to hop trains from one lodge to another, camp and hike. About five years after she quit working there and had moved to New Mexico where she raised her family, she decided to return to Glacier on vacation. She left her six month old daughter with our mum; and her husband, myself, sis, and their four year old son all drove to Glacier. On the way, while the four year old slept, we read aloud, “Glacier Park’s Night of the Grizzlies”, the story of a terrible bear mauling of three sleeping campers in mummy bags mauled in Glacier National Park in August of 1967. One of the Glacier employees, mauled and killed in the grizzly attack, also lived in MacDonald Lodge at the time of her death. In addition, another young woman and a man were also mauled, leading to the deaths of both young women, while the man lived to tell his story. It was a chilling book, and a PBS special still available on the internet at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXY7_gSNrh4
It turned out oddly, that the maulings occurred simultaneously by two separate grizzlies, in different areas of Glacier National Park. One bear had gnoshed on glass, sinking painfully, shards between its teeth and gums. The second bear was a mother of two cubs, who had a bad cut on her paw, causing obvious pain. Both bear were shot and killed, examined, and stomachs emptied to find human contents therein.
It was the trash that campers left behind in Glacier National Park that was blamed for the maulings. The entire episode of both bear attacks that night, brought about new rules in the park, having to do with packing out all trash, leaving no food stuffs behind for the wild animals.
Since removing the refrigerator (source of food for bears), I realized I was now on their route. They continue to appear, looking for food, which I’ve removed, keeping inside now. All chicken feed goes in a locker, too. I’ve installed electric horse fencing around my abode. The last visit I had from a bear was three nights ago when the teenager showed up again. I was sitting in my car silently answering text messages when I saw it approach in my peripheral vision. When I looked up, it was walking two feet away from my front bumper, eyes fixed on the spot where it would normally enter to reach the refrigerator. I had been working on the electric fence, and it was off, therefore. The bear walked right through the fencing. It had no idea I sat in the car. I watched it before turning on the car to scare it away. I saw its hind end exit the shed as it ran out the back way. Human-like, it stood erect, one paw on the tree as it peeked around the large trunk. When our eyes met, it dove off into the bushes like a diver into water.
Fish & Wildlife gave me the number of a trapper named Brennan (who’s earned the name, “Mad Dog” Brennan), who informed me that should Fish and Wildlife issue a permit, which is unlikely, he would come out and trap the animal. He informed me hunting with dogs had also been outlawed since the moratorium went into effect. The trapping a death sentence, as all bears trapped, are shot and killed by the trapper.
I talked to another woman living on Lambert Lane, who found a bear in her pantry freezer one night when she opened the door of her kitchen. We both decided that we would rather not have bear killed, but plan on securing our food better and out of the way.
I checked out the bear deterrents at Big 5 Sporting Goods, and one of the camping experts told me that bear spray works best on brown bear and grizzly, but not on black bear. She suggested I buy a marine horn to blast when bear appear. They don’t like the noise.
As well I checked out the Fish and Wildlife website and was disappointed. First of all, it showed suggestions like using Pine Sol instead of ammonia as a deterrent. Other tips were about as useless: bear spray and talk radio. However, all wisely suggested not letting the bear form habits of visiting your property to find food, by eliminating food sources.
I hope bear can hear me whistling, cuz that’s what I do now when walking around the property, not to surprise. They mostly run away and hide, trying to out wait me. I’ve heard folks refer to berry-eating black bear as large raccoon. I would have to agree with that assessment.
CONTEMPORARY NATIVE ARTISTS EXHIBIT: “We Are Still Here”
Mendocino, CA – The Mendocino Art Center (MAC) hosts “We Are Still Here,” an exhibit which allows for three artists from three different Pomo regions to honor the continued cultural landscape and lifeways of the Pomo people. The exhibition, May 6 through June 27 in all three MAC galleries, features the artistry of Bonnie Lockhart (Northern Pomo/Kai Poma), Meyo Marrufo (Eastern Pomo), and Eric Wilder (Southwest Pomo/Kashaya).
“As Native Americans, we need more venues to share our story, and for us, it is often through our artwork. Through our art, we show the community that we are still here,” said artists Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder. “We are more than basket weavers,” continued Wilder. “As Native people, we have merged our traditional culture with contemporary art.”
There will be a free Second Saturday Gallery Reception, May 14, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with the opportunity to meet the exhibiting artists and attend an Artist Panel, with Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. As part of the Second Saturday Gallery Reception, June 11, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., there will be an Artists Talk: Exploring Our Culture Through Art, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Meyo Marrufo is Eastern Pomo from the Clear Lake basin, and her tribe is Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. Meyo began working for her tribe as a cultural resource assistant in the environmental department. Currently, Meyo is an Environmental Director for another Pomo tribe in Central California. She also teaches classes on the continuation of tribal knowledge and renewing it for future generations in Northern California.
When Meyo started coming of age, she began to learn traditional Pomo regalia and food preparation from the ground up. As she deepened her art practice, she began sharing her knowledge in cultural arts, regalia making and traditional foods with others. Meyo connects her digital artwork (as she calls finger-doodles), to the traditional Pomo life, customary dance and basket patterns. With the cultural nature of Pomo basket designs, Meyo weaves the ‘basket language’ of meanings and uses into her drawings and beadwork. Each design represents a different strength and can change tone with different color arrangements. Meyo works hands-on for the protection of the Pomo cultural landscape. She works in a conscious and direct way, to better impact the restoration and protection of tribal lifeways.
Eric Wilder is a member of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria in northwest Sonoma County, south of Point Arena, CA. Eric grew up on the Kashia Reservation and has shown interest in art since he was a child. He is the grandson of Essie Parrish, the last spiritual doctor of the Kashia people, and grew up learning her teachings, songs, dances and crafts. Wilder has come full circle, both as a leader of his Tribe and professionally as an artist. It took Eric some time to grasp everything he’s learned up to this point in his life, and to even accept himself as a professional artist.
It was not until Wilder was 29 when he finally got his break into a professional art career by entering into a comic book shop drawing contest and winning. Soon after that, he found work with companies such as Jumpin’ Jack Software, Big Ape Productions and developed games for LucasArts, Fox Interactive and MTV. He has worked as an animator, level designer, character designer, storyboard artist, and concept artist at various stages through his career and worked on noteworthy games such as Star Wars Phantom Menace, Celebrity Deathmatch, and The Simpsons Wrestling.
Following his career in gaming, Wilder was elected to the Kashia Tribal Council for two terms as the Tribal Secretary and then two terms as the Tribal Chairman. After fulfilling his elected Tribal Leadership roles, Eric again found himself searching for a new direction to take his life and career. Through the encouragement of friends, fans and peers, Wilder entered the Art in the Redwoods show in 2013 and was awarded 2nd place in the pen & ink drawing category. This was the motivation that connected him back to his talent as an artist. Since that time, he has done two art openings for shows featuring his work at different venues, he sells his line of greeting cards, and is always experimenting with new mediums to display his designs.
Bonnie Lockhart (Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Kai Poma) was raised on the Pinoleville Indian Reservation just outside Ukiah. As a kid, Bonnie spent much of her free time drawing, playing outside, climbing trees, watching the sunset, taking walks in the nearby creek, and singing to the plants on the reservation. Bonnie and her little sister Sequoia traveled with her parents to the coast and would drive to the redwoods pointing out medicine, basket materials, and animals. As Bonnie grew up, she doodled on her homework, eventually sketching trees, birds, waves, and grasses – inspired by the starlings she watched in the sky, illustrating the beauty around the reservation and special places she visited throughout Mendocino County.
In her early 20s, Bonnie lived in Monterey with her sister Sequoia, who worked at a local art store, and filled their living room with clearance art supplies. The sisters started painting together and Bonnie found that working with acrylics opened a deeper sense of spiritual connection, through storytelling.
Now, a decade since Bonnie started painting, she often spends time touching medicine to memorize the texture of the leaves, standing in a sunset to absorb the warmth of the sunlight, sitting next to the ocean, and collecting the sound of the water crashing on the rocks. Working with wet and dry mediums, paint and natural materials, Bonnie paints and weaves. She continues to grow and learn while gathering her inspiration from the colors changing on the mountains, the diversity of clouds in the sky, how the wind feels, how the sedge grows, and how the river reflects in the light of the sun. Through art and culture, Bonnie carries on the tradition of mentoring youth by passing on the knowledge that was passed down to her to the next generation.
The Mendocino Art Center, acknowledging that its facility sits upon Native soil, offers a deep apology and condolences for the oppressions that have occurred to the Native Peoples of these lands. With education, understanding and cooperation, we can do better as a people, to help heal past transgressions through future stewardship, along with a mindful practice. In this exhibition, its MAC’s greatest hope to expand shared intentions to the larger communities, to create a greater understanding and dialogue. MAC is honored to highlight these indigenous artists, to hear their voices, gaze upon their visual stories, and welcome their rich and diverse inheritance, in our one community.
Collaborative Tile Art Project at the New Ford House Restrooms
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Mendocino Art Center and Mendocino Area Parks Association (MendoParks) are collaborating on a tile art project at the new Ford House restrooms in Mendocino, featuring original artwork by Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder. The conceptualized themes celebrate the lifeways of Coastal Pomo people and began a truly collaborative art project with each artist painting different themes and sections of the murals. The restrooms are scheduled to open in June 2022.
The following generous funders made the exhibit and restroom tile project possible: Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Community Foundation of Mendocino County AD Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts, George and Ruth Bradford Foundation, Debra Lennox, Visit Mendocino County, and MendoParks.
Admission to the gallery exhibit is free. For more information please call 707-937-5818 or visit MendocinoArtCenter.org. The Mendocino Art Center is located at 45200 Little Lake Street (at Kasten Street) in Mendocino. The gallery is open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY, MICHELE
On Friday, April 22, 2022 at 9:57 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident in the 20000 block of South Main Street in Willits.
Deputies arrived and learned Michele Jensen, 48, of Willits, had arrived home and had an argument with her boyfriend.
The boyfriend requested Jensen move out and he left the location to a relative's residence on the same property.
Jensen went to the other residence and began knocking on the door, until the boyfriend opened the door. Jensen pushed the boyfriend backwards, and forcefully took a cellular phone from his possession. These actions caused a visible injury on the boyfriend's body.
Deputies found Jensen at her residence and she was arrested for domestic violence battery.
Jensen was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu $25,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 25, 2022
JASMIN BARAJAS-MONROY, Ukiah. DUI.
CHRISTOPHER BARNETT, Finley/Willits. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
MICHELLE CARR, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
DANIEL ESCAMILLA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
SIDNEY FOLEY, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment.
TIMOTEO HERNANDEZ-CIRIACO, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, under influence.
TERRY HOUSER, Eureka/Ukiah. Burglary, failure to appear.
KYLE LEMOHN, Mendocino. DUI.
BRANDEN LUCAS, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DANIEL MOORE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
TONY SMITH JR., Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, county parole violation.
DEVON STARK, Lakeport/Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
THREE DAYS IN MAY: PIONEERING BIONEERS
by Jonah Raskin
The 33rd annual Bioneers Conference, held for the first time in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts, has a lot to offer attendees eager for a healthy dose of optimism. The three-day event can feel like one big kumbaya that’s extended by participants who return to their homes across the country. Previous conferences, which have drawn presenters and audiences from around the US, were held at the Civic Center in San Rafael. This year’s conference, held May 13-15, will be more accessible to Bay Area residents and travelers arriving at SFO.
I’ve been in the audience twice at the Bioneers. While I’ve found myself among seniors like me who attended the first Earth Day back in 1971, I’ve also felt like a dinosaur among 20-something-year-olds. Still, there’s something edifying about the event and inspiring about the organization that was created in 1990 by Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons. They’re a husband and wife team who aim to create a sense of community. Year round they live in New Mexico. San Francisco feels like a second home.
“A Bioneer is a reverse pioneer,” Simons told me. “Pioneers unsettle and move on and then unsettle other places.” Indeed that’s much of the story of the American West. Simons added, “The Bioneers gathering is a kaleidoscope. All the issues are interdependent. Our core premise is racial, social and economic justice.”
Also, a core premise is that women, people of color and teens like Greta Thunberg, the 19-year-old Swedish activist, can play decisive roles right now, at a critical moment for the future of the planet. This year’s website sounds especially dire. “Time is not on our side,” it reads and goes on to describe “a permanent five-alarm emergency, signalling that massive change is inevitable.”
If that won’t push participants into action, then perhaps the crowd-rousing speakers will. In the past, they have included Terry Tempest Williams, Michael Pollan, Rupa Marya, Kevin Powell, Bill McKibben and Valerie Kaur. The headliners this year are perhaps less well-known to the general public than the headliners in previous years, though they could easily fill several academic departments at a college or university. At the Bioneers there’s almost as much ethnic and gender diversity as there is at the UN, with many Native Americans on the program.
Keynote speaker, Kate Aronoff, writes for The New Republic. Ohki Forest is the force behind Red Wind Councils. Cindy Montanez serves as the CEO at TreePeople. Karen Washington hails from Rise & Root Farm. Hongjian Yu, an advocate for urban ecology, has a Ph.D. from Harvard and teaches in Beijing, China. They each have their own individual perspectives on the five-alarm emergency and how best to respond to it. As a tribe, they believe that the Earth itself has rights and that trees, lakes and rivers have legal standing at trials in court rooms, a controversial notion that’s been growing slowly but surely.
If this year’s event is anything like previous events, there will be stirring keynote addresses, moments of spiritual uplift and music and dance from the likes of Jada Imani, a Bay Area hip-hop and R & B artist, plus Mar Stevens, who holds drum circles for women and children in the East Bay.
Other local presenters include activist David Solnit, documentary filmmaker, Mark Kitchell, and Gregg Castro, the culture director of the association of the Ramaytush Ohlone, who once inhabited the land all around San Francisco Bay. The empresario who pulls much of it together is the veteran producer, J.P. Harpignies, who touts the Bioneers’ camaraderie and the roots in global communities. I’m going back for a glimpse of the future.
If You Go…
Where: Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon Street, S.F. Virtual conference also available.
When: May 13-15. 9:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 9:10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 9:10 a.m to 9:25 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $515 for all three days; $250 for individual days; special prices for students, educators, activists and limited income seniors.
Contact: (877) 264.4300
MACRON’S EMPTY SHELL
by Arun Kapil
There was general relief, in France and further afield, on Sunday, when Emmanuel Macron was projected to win the second round of the French presidential election. The polls in the final week of the campaign all showed him opening up a 10 to 14 point lead over Marine Le Pen – especially after last Wednesday’s debate, in which he was thought to have the upper hand – but worries had set in during the latter half of March among hard-headed analysts as well as inveterate hand-wringers.
The Ukraine factor helped Macron at the outset of the war and then began to wear off, leaving his deficiencies – including arrogance, condescension and a lack of core political values – in sharper focus. Le Pen’s under-the-radar campaigning in la France profonde was proving effective; she seemed finally to have ‘de-demonised’ her image and that of her party, now known as the Rassemblement National (RN). The candidacy of the even more right-wing Éric Zemmour made her look moderate by comparison. The polls tightened, bringing her within striking distance of 50 per cent. But Macron’s 17-point victory in round two on Sunday is wider than any poll had projected.
It was obvious after round one on 10 April that everything hung on the followers of the radical left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who reached 22 per cent in a late surge as mostly moderate, strategically minded left-wing voters defected from the other left candidates, all of whom finished under 5 per cent. Mélenchon (who took nearly 70 per cent of French Muslim ballots according to an Ifop poll) came close close to pipping Le Pen for second place in the run-off.
In 2017, 50 to 60 per cent of Mélenchon’s voters transferred to Macron in the second round, with all but a handful of the rest abstaining or nullifying their ballots. But five years of neoliberal macronisme made it tougher for the left this time, and the anti-system protest vote that fell in behind Mélenchon looked very much as though it would go to Le Pen. The urgent need to appeal to Mélenchon’s voters in the run-off inflected the debate: the ‘four I’s’ – immigration, insecurity, Islam, identity – gave way to issues that preoccupy the left, with climate and the environment moving up the agenda for Macron, while for Le Pen opposition to his proposed pension reforms shared pride of place with constant reminders of the soaring cost of living.
After round one Mélenchon urged his supporters not to give a single vote to Le Pen but he did not advise them to vote for Macron. According to Ipsos, Macron took 42 per cent of the Mélenchon vote, with 41 per cent casting invalid ballots and 17 per cent voting for the candidate of the far right. There were stronger transfers from other candidates, including the ecologist Yannick Jadot and Valérie Pécresse of Les Républicains (as the party of Chirac and Sarkozy now styles itself).
Macron’s landslide victory is scarcely a ringing endorsement: in total, 48 per cent of those who voted for him, according to a Harris Interactive poll, did so to keep his rival out of the Elysée – a truth he acknowledged in his Sunday night victory speech at the Eiffel Tower. And the 28 per cent abstention rate – the second highest in the history of the Fifth Republic for a presidential second round – means that he was elected by a mere 38.5 per cent of registered voters; only Georges Pompidou in 1969 was elected with less.
As much as a third of the electorate – across the political spectrum – strongly disapproves of Macron’s performance in office, or of him as a person, but in spite of this loathing his approval ratings have not been bad. For a few months in 2018-19, at the height of the gilets jaunes movement, they dropped below 30 per cent, but his steadier overall showing in the mid-thirties to mid-forties makes him a more popular president than François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy or Jacques Chirac during his interminable second term.
And while half of the votes that went Macron’s way were cast to block Le Pen, Harris Interactive suggests that the paramount consideration of 43 per cent of Le Pen voters was to prevent a second Macron term. The notion that 40 per cent of the French electorate is now given over to radical right-wing populism is simply not true. Le Pen’s voters are not comparable to the fanaticised Trumpist base of the Republican Party.
Legislative elections are scheduled for 12 and 19 June. The advent of the five-year presidential term in 2002 (down from seven) has squeezed the electoral calendar, with the legislatives arriving hard on the heels of the presidentials and voters generally awarding a majority to the party of the candidate installed in the Elysée. This has meant a significant increase in the power of the executive and the effective transformation of the National Assembly into a rubber stamp for presidential policy, enforced by hand-picked prime ministers, who do as they’re told.
Maybe not this time, however. For one thing, Macron is the first president to be re-elected since the two-term limit entered the constitution in 2008. He is to that extent a lame duck – a novelty in France – which is bound to diminish his authority over his prime minister. For another, it is not a foregone conclusion that Macron’s empty shell of a party, La République en Marche, and its centrist allies will gain a majority of legislative seats. There is a strong desire among the disparate parties of the left, now in survival mode, to field a single candidate in every constituency. If the imperious Mélenchon can contain his hegemonic impulses, it may just happen. The same is true on the extreme right: if Le Pen can overcome her animosity towards Zemmour, his new party (Reconquête!) and hers could also agree not to compete against one another. In June Macron may well be deprived of a majority in the National Assembly.
(London Review of Books)
On August 26, 1942, the first African American troops in the United States Marine Corps arrived at Montford Point at Camp Lejeune.
Before President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order that ended segregation in the armed forces, African Americans who served did so in segregated units, like the one at Montford Point. In the era of strict segregation, interaction between races during training was practically nonexistent.
The larger base, Camp Lejeune, had been established one year earlier as part of mobilization for World War II. Shortly after that time, the Corps constructed barracks and support facilities including a chapel, mess hall, steam plant and recreational area on the 1,600-acre peninsula that became Montford Point.
More than 19,000 Black Marines served in World War II, all in units trained at Montford Point. Among the units organized there were the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalions, which were dispatched to the Pacific but saw no combat action, and 11 ammunition and 51 depot companies that did see action.
The 51st Battalion Band, led by musician Bobby Troup, lent to the sense of esprit de corps.
The facility became obsolete after Navy Secretary Francis Matthews ordered the end of racial division in the Navy and Marines in June 1949.
marker page: http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?MarkerId=C-73
THE "GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT": When TV News Won't Identify Defense Lobbyists
As war rages, viewers watch commercials for weapons dealers, often without knowing it
by Matt Taibbi
When is a TV news interview not just an interview?
Leon Panetta was the nation’s top security official under Barack Obama, famous for his hangdog eyes and soft-spoken, equivocating defenses of torture and assassination of Americans while serving as both Secretary of Defense and CIA director. That was years ago. Today, he’s a senior counselor at Beacon Global Strategies, which represents a host of security companies, including famed munitions maker Raytheon. In Matt Orfalea’s booming video above, we see Panetta on a recent CNN broadcast stumping for Raytheon products like Javelin and Stinger missiles, with host Bianna Golodryga saying only that he “was America’s defense secretary and CIA director.” Orfalea goes on to capture how Panetta and other military “experts” chant WEAPONS WEAPONS WEAPONS over and over like they’re trying to open magic treasure chests, their commercial ties never revealed.
As war rages, there will be officials on TV with sincere opinions about how the U.S. can help Ukraine. Very often, however, what you’re watching is a paid lobbyist plugging for a weapons maker.
Joe Biden last week authorized another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. This second major tranche of weapons came on the heels of weeks of passionate advocacy from former national security officials calling for heavy spending on reinforcements. Somewhere in the past, these commentators usually have impressive credentials. However, the more recent jobs of these commentators are often paid gigs helping military contractors “achieve their business objectives.” This phenomenon was embarrassing before Iraq, but the last months have seen near-total saturation of the airwaves by such figures.
The analyst might be a Lockheed board member and former Homeland Security Director like Jeh Johnson, or a former Pentagon chief of staff like Jeremy Bash, or former Army general David Petraeus, or any of a slew of others with august past titles and unannounced current jobs.
“I think we need to increase the arms sales, the equipment we provide… to send the right message,” said former Defense Secretary Mark Esper on CNBC in February, just before the outbreak of hostilities. Esper, who made history by jumping straight from being a Raytheon lobbyist to running the Pentagon — Biden’s first defense chief would make the same jump — made his comments just after CNBC flashed a graph showing the stock prices for the big five weapons makers, an inadvertent nod to the depressing merger of foreign policy and commerce as journalistic themes:
Admiral James Stavridis, a member of the Beacon Advisory board, has been stumping for more arms deliveries on NBC and MSNBC since war broke out, saying “we need to get the weapons in the hands of the Ukrainians,” touting Raytheon products as he blamed Donald Trump for “withholding shamefully the Javelins.” Other former generals like Wesley Clark, who has his own lobbying business, have urged new deliveries via print articles with headlines like “The time to arm Ukraine is right now.” Former Defense Secretary William Cohen has also been a regular on-air presence of late, always calling for more more more, and his own eponymous consultancy, The Cohen Group, routinely goes unmentioned.
I asked Jeff Cohen, co-founder of the media watchdog FAIR, if he thought the undisclosed lobbyist phenomenon was better, worse, or the same as it was during the runup to the Iraq war.
“I’d say it’s similar or worse now,” he replied. He noted that for sheer gall it was hard to top former General Barry McCaffrey saying on MSNBC in 2003, “Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle,” while sitting on the board of a company, Integrated Defense Technologies, which helped make both products.
Cohen, who wrote an entertaining book about his own misadventures as a commentator on stations like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, describes a sleazy “gentlemen’s agreement” about attribution for such officials.
“If you’re listening to CNN, CBS, or PBS, and they introduce someone as a ‘former’ something, they’re lying to you,” he says. “What’s more relevant to the news consumer, that someone was an Undersecretary of Defense eight years ago, or that the same person is a highly paid lobbyist now? It’s obviously the second, but almost never revealed.”
How ironclad a tendency is the “gentlemen’s agreement”? When ex-Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson went on “Morning Joe” recently to talk Ukraine, Joe Scarborough did take time out to tell readers about Johnson’s “side gig” — as a DJ on an R&B podcast project. Joe kept mum about Johnson’s other side gig on the Lockheed board, of course.
Armament advertorial is a non-partisan phenomenon. You’ll see it on CNN, but just as much on Fox, also packed with analysts and even full-time contributors like Trey Gowdy who have lobbying histories. To take another example, former General Jack Keane has been on Fox of late applauding the $800 million tranche, saying areas like the Donbass are “very conducive to armor operations,” which surely has nothing to do with the fact that he served for years as chair of armored vehicle maker AM General.
Even on-air calls for foreign-made weapons may be backdoor endorsements of American arms sales. Barack Obama’s Undersecretary for Defense Michele Flournoy went on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” back on March 6th to talk about America giving or donating American-made weapons to foreign countries that donate Russian weapons like MiGs or S-300s to Ukraine. “There’s talk right now of the US giving Poland some fighter jets so that Poland can give those MIGS that the Ukranians know how to use,” Tapper said.
“Exactly,” Flournoy responded, adding other comments:
What the U.S. should be doing is more of what we are doing, which is, we need to be supplying Ukrainians with as much as we possibly can, munitions like anti-tank Javelin missiles, anti-air Stinger missiles…
There’s nothing more vulnerable than a tank column that's sitting there massed together, if you have the right aircraft…
And you have seen the Ukrainians be far more effective than we expected with just small unit kind of attacks using shoulder-fired missiles, small munitions. But, again, if they had some aircraft to fly and add to this mix, they could really do substantial damage…
Though CNN and Tapper do make an effort in this direction sometimes, they didn’t tell us here that Flournoy is not only the board of Booz Allen Hamilton, but the managing partner of WestExec Advisors, a firm she co-founded with Blinken (Jen Psaki also worked there). WestExec lobbyists have reportedly represented defense and aerospace firms like Boeing, which of course would be on a short list to replace donated MiGs. The public likely wouldn’t know a whole lot about this company had outlets like The American Prospectand the New York Timesnot done exposés about this firm, which to this day advertises its physical proximity to the White House as a selling point to potential lobbying clients, even putting a map on its site.
Reporters rarely make clear that even “donations” of foreign-built weaponry often end with someone paying for substitute packages of American arms.
When Panetta was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently, he didn’t just push for Raytheon products, but also appeared enthused about foreign-manufactured weapons. “The key right now is for the United States and our allies to provide as many weapons as necessary,” he said, “whether it's Stingers or Javelins, whether its S-300s, S-400s, anti-aircraft, anti-tank, anti-personnel, whatever possible weapons can be provided to the Ukrainians, now is the time to do it.”
What he didn’t say is that the delivery of a non-American weapon like an S-300 or S-400 might very well be followed by the delivery of “replacement” batteries of, say, Raytheon-manufactured Patriot missiles. This is reportedly what we offered Slovakia in exchange for donating its S-300 system, for instance.
Bash, Panetta’s former senior advisor, is a type of creature we’ll surely see more of in the future. Like Stavradis, he is both a paid national security analyst for NBC, and a currently employed weapons lobbyist, serving as managing director at the aforementioned Beacon Global. When you see him on shows like “11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle” hyping the delivery of surface-to-air missiles, or pushing new rhetorical boundaries by describing the Ukraine conflict as “not yet World War 3” or “not yet all-out nuclear confrontation,” you’re watching someone who collects checks from both a network and a firm that lobbies for a missile manufacturer. The viewer is at sea trying to figure out what’s opinion and what’s lobbying.
TV news stations are increasingly replacing reporters and analysts outright with former defense and intelligence officials. I counted over 35 of these hires just a few years ago. The influx of these “formers” into both TV and print journalism has radically changed coverage.
In 2008, David Barstow of the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting about this phenomenon of military “journalists,” with “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand” being one of the winning submissions. Barstow wrote about how defense officials on air retained ties to the Pentagon and gave official talking points on air in a coordinated way, quoting a former Green Beret and Fox analyst who said of military officials, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.’”
Networks and even papers like the Times have since become so dependent upon military and intelligence vets, both as bylined content-producers and as sources, that efforts to track lobbying ties have been abandoned. Both the Washington Post and New York Times won Pulitzers in 2018 for Russia-themed stories that relied on unnamed “current and former officials” from the military and intelligence worlds. In just over ten years, in other words, the Pulitzer committee went from rewarding papers for exposing defense ties to rewarding their concealment, while pushing intelligence-friendly news narratives — exactly what the Times was concerned about in 2008. Now, only outlets like Jacobingo near the lobbying topic.
Voices representing arms makers were once laundered through the think-tank system. The typical setup: weapons maker donated to think-tank, think-tank employee generated research pushing for defense spending, think-tanker then appeared on TV, identified as an “Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Rand Corporation” or a “senior fellow for the Atlantic Council.” It would be up to the viewer to discover the institution in question was funded by Raytheon or General Atomics or even directly by the Air Force, the Army, the State Department, or the Department of Homeland Security.
That system was quasi-necessary because news organizations once felt queasy about putting a weapons executive on air and not mentioning the relationship. Now, even in print, most outlets have gotten over any hesitancy they might once have had about such non-attributions. Here’s a passage from a recent New York Times story about the fire on the Moskva battleship:
“Warfare is a brutal thing,” said retired Adm. Gary Roughead, a former chief of naval operations. “You have to make the investments to defeat the kinds of weapons that people are going to throw at you.”
The reader here might like to know that the man who’s saying nations need to “make the investments” in weaponry isn’t just a former member of the armed services, but a current member of the Board of Directors at one of the world’s largest weapons-makers, Northrup-Grumman. But even the Times shrugs at this now.
Kelly Ayotte is no longer Senator of New Hampshire. She is, however, still chair of the board at BAE systems, which contracts for everything from cyber-security to the F-35. When local New Hampshire TV station WMUR asked her in March about Ukraine, they stuck to the “gentlemen’s agreement” and introduced her only as a former Senator. Ayotte went on to talk about how Ukraine needs “anti-tank weapons” (BAE makes them) and also “armed drones” (BAE makes them) and “air defense systems” (BAE makes them). This could be her real opinion, but how can any media outlet not bring up the relationship? WMUR declined to comment for this story.
Disclosure is so rare that it sticks out like a sore thumb when networks do it. On April 14th, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC told her audience that guest Meghan O’Sullivan doesn’t just have Harvard and the Bush administration on her resume, but a seat on the board of Raytheon. She did the same when O’Sullivan went on the network to talk about how it was “wrong” to withdraw from Afghanistan. Taking two seconds to say, “She’s on the board of Raytheon technologies” doesn’t seem that hard, does it?
Still, when CNN and Fareed Zakharia interviewed O’Sullivan on April 10th, they told viewers about Harvard, and about O’Sullivan’s past as a senior advisor to George W. Bush for Iraq and Afghanistan (which would seem disqualifying for other reasons, but that’s a different topic), but not about Raytheon. Apparently, they didn’t have those seconds to spare.
While Panetta or Stavradis may openly stump for a particular weapons system, others will at least try to stay away from brand names. A little over a week ago, on April 17th, CBS Face the Nation anchor Margaret Brennan interviewed retired Lt. General Ben Hodges. At one point, Brennan asked Hodges about president Biden’s authorization of new weapons transfers to Ukraine, wondering, “How long does this kind of weaponry last? How significant is it to the fight?” Hodges replied:
What the Ukrainians need desperately are long range fires, rockets, artillery, drones that can… disrupt or destroy the systems that are causing so much damage in Ukrainian cities. The hundreds of switchblade drones, for example. These are very good, but we need about a thousand more.
The new $800 million aid package to Ukraine included what Politico called the “surprise” of the tranche, 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, which are similar in functionality to switchblade drones. These unmanned weapons are made by a company called AEVEX. In March, Politico reported that a company called Republic Consulting registered as a lobbyist for AEVEX. Hodges happens to be a senior advisor at Republic Consulting. On the surface, not a great look.
Reached for this story, Hodges said he’d never worked with AEVEX and was surprised to discover Republic had a relationship with the firm. Moreover the previous shipment of switchblade drones were of a type manufactured by a different company, AeroVironment, with whom Republic doesn’t have a relationship. Hodges seemed genuinely alarmed about the situation and said it’s for this reason that he tries to avoid recommending one particular weapon system in public commentary.
“I actually try to stick to capabilities and requirements,” he said, “because I value my credibility as an analyst.”
Situations like that are why it’s so important for media companies to work through disclosure issues before putting someone on the air. It only takes about five minutes, but no one bothers. Audiences have a real need to try to sort out what policies are advisable and why, and they should be able to hear all the arguments divorced from financial considerations. With metronome predictability, networks instead rely for commentary almost exclusively on industry reps who focus on the idea that only more and better weapons systems will turn the tide.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a former Raytheon lobbyist like Esper, just met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken — also a former lobbyist! — along with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Not only did Austin laud weapons deliveries in announcing more military aid, he offered casually that the U.S. policy goal is “to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” This idea had only been hinted at to date, mainly via anonymous quotes. Austin added, referring to Zelensky: “We believe that they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support…While he’s grateful for all the things we’re doing, he’s also focused on what he thinks he’ll need next.”
Is the goal to end the war as expeditiously as possible, or to “see Russia weakened” through a costly proxy battle for the sake of the next Ukraine? This crucial question is rarely even addressed. What if what Zelensky “needs next” is diplomatic aid in addition to weapons? Because nobody gets paid to lobby for not-war, you’re unlikely to hear the idea raised.
Last week, the new streaming project CNN+ folded after just a month, an extraordinary testament to the cluelessness of major corporate outlets when it comes to reading mass audiences. TV executives treat such failures as unsolvable mysteries. They aren’t. Are you watching commentary, or a commercial? If viewers have to ask, the news operation is toast, and deserves to be.
by Marilyn Davin
Though there’s not much agreement between rednecks and libs these days, there’s one foundational issue that nearly everyone seems to agree on: U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominees have devolved into meaningless drivel as senators on both sides of our widening cultural divide troll for “gotcha” moments intended to shore up their respective political bases – on live television, no less. Painfully aware that they are navigating potentially career-ending, partisan questions in real time, nominees dodge political-statements-posed-as-questions with frozen smiles and talk a lot about how much they love their mothers. Spouses sit stoically behind the nominees and try not to look pissed off at the hostile barrage of no-question questions cleverly crafted as traps. The High Court, the apex and triumph of high-minded reason over the emotions and beliefs that have so bedeviled us for over 200 years.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is one of the most qualified jurists to join the modern-day Court. For starters she was a working judge unlike, say, Clarence Thomas, who joined the Court after a scant 16 months on the bench. Brown Jackson is also the survivor of two confirmation hearings for lower-court federal appointments, both of which she passed with flying colors. This time around the stakes were higher. The Supreme Court’s decisions affect everyone, so both cultural sides unsheathed their claws. It was this dynamic that fired up Senator Ted Cruz (dubbed “Lucifer in the flesh” by former House Speaker John Boehner in a televised interview) and his flip charts, which listed earlier Brown Jackson rulings that Cruz claimed were soft on crime. Though it was doubtless not his intention, Cruz’s “presentation” dramatically illustrated why the Brown Jackson confirmation was so important for every one of us; she is the only sitting justice who worked as a public defender.
President Biden made a characteristically wise choice in Brown Jackson. She has broad experience in the law, public and private, and is by all accounts thoughtful, knowledgeable, and even handed in her rulings. But the president did a disservice to both Brown Jackson herself and the nation by promising, long before anyone had heard her name, that he would nominate a “woman of color” for the next spot on the High Court.
This much-lauded but discriminatory promise was unfortunate for several reasons. Perhaps most damaging, it offers up race as a litmus test for justice confirmations, a test based, essentially, on the U.S. Census. Sooo…since there are now 2 black justices out of the total 9, those black justices make up 22.2% of the Court. Since the last U.S. Census reports that just 12.4% of the U.S. population is black, this percentage is roughly double the percentage of blacks in America today. Does this mean that the next appointment must be white to even the score? And what about Asians and Hispanics? This slice-and-dice numeric scheme is not the enlightened thinking that will drive our goal to become gender- and color-blind. We need to keep plugging away for equality before the law for everyone. As a nation we’ve come too far to believe that equality for everyone requires the creation of new divisions that further divide us.
The other fallacy about choosing candidates by race or gender is the assumption that a justice will weight his or her decisions in accordance with his or her gender or race. One need to look no further than Thomas and Amy Barrett to mercifully put that myth to rest. A black man born into poverty, abandoned by his father while still a toddler and raised rough by a cruel and authoritarian grandfather, Clarence Thomas is widely considered the most conservative justice on the Court and mistrusts social programs of any kind. He also continues to pursue, according to Slate journalist Mark Joseph Stern, his “career-long quest to replace long-established precedent with a confused, slapdash substitute based on amateur historical analysis and tendentious conservative law review articles.” And Thomas has been doing it, without evident personal growth or reflection, for more than 30 years (and counting). Amy Coney Barrett? Far-right politicians seemingly achieved the impossible by putting forth the confirmable young woman, raised in the heady years of Womens Liberation, now heralded by right-wing extremists as the essential vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
With homelessness, drug addiction, and other scourges of poverty on the rise in the U.S., maybe the next few Supreme Court justices should be poor but unrescued by the Ivy League’s outreach programs. They might initially feel ill at ease around all those Ivy-educated justices, but would surely, over time, more closely resemble our best egalitarian selves and usher in a fuller, more welcoming perspective for all of us.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It’s hard to believe that any reasonably intelligent person cannot draw a dotted line from the escalation of events from 2004 forward, but I guess it gives too much credit to the theory that most people are reasonably intelligent. In fact they are not. And even if they have the mental capacity they are consumed with the adventures of the Kardashians, the terrible comic book cartoon characters displayed in all the movie theatres, and engaged in the pursuit of modern day asset accumulation absent of anything that nourishes the soul or intellect.
I’LL BE IN HELL BEFORE YOU START BREAKFAST…
Today in Old-West History -- On today’s date 121 years ago, Friday, April 26, 1901, notorious Old-West cowboy, train robber & outlaw-gang leader Thomas “Tom” Ketchum (1863-1901), better-known as “Black Jack” Ketchum met his earthly demise at the age of 37 in the town of Clayton in Union County, New Mexico Territory when he was hanged for train robbery.
Ketchum, along with members of his Hole-In-The-Wall Gang, had robbed a Colorado & Southern Railroad train near the town of Folsom in New Mexico Territory, on August 16, 1899. After taking a few hundred dollars in cash from the baggage-car safe, Ketchum leapt from the car & began running towards his horse when conductor Frank Harrington jumped down from a passenger car & fired a shotgun at Ketchum. Ketchum turned & faced Harrington & both men advanced upon each other -- blazing away. Ketchum shot Harrington as the conductor unloaded a blast of buckshot into Ketchum, who escaped under cover of darkness.
Ketchum was found by a posse on the following day propped up against a tree & picking buckshot out of his chest. Taken to Santa Fe, Ketchum was tried & convicted of train robbery & was sentenced to death, as train robbery was a capital offense in western states during that time.
On the day of his execution, Ketchum reportedly said to witnesses standing at the foot of the gallows: “I’ll be in Hell before you start breakfast, boys!” The noose was affixed around Ketchum’s neck & a black hood was placed over his head. At this point in the story, there are conflicting reports as to Ketchum’s “famous last words.” According to one report, he simply said “Let ‘er rip!” The San Francisco Chronicle reported Ketchum’s last words as: “Good-bye. Please dig my grave very deep. All right; hurry up.”
Whatever his last words were, his death was gruesome. The hangman had miscalculated the required length of rope, & when the lever was pulled & the fatal drop occurred Ketchum was decapitated by the noose -- the gore from his headless torso soaking the front ranks of the spectators at the foot of the scaffold.
After the hanging, Ketchum’s decapitated body was photographed, & the resulting image was later made into a popular souvenir postcard with the following caption: “Body of “Black Jack” after the Hanging Showing Head snapped off.”
☞Ketchum’s head was sewn back onto his body for viewing, after which he was interred at the Clayton Cemetery.
☞It is curiously interesting that Black Jack Ketchum was the only person ever executed in New Mexico Territory for the criminal offense of “felonious assault upon a railway train” -- a law that was later determined to be unconstitutional.