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LIGHT RAIN SHOWERS are present across the North Coast and North Coast Interior this morning...but should give way to partly cloudy skies later this afternoon. Elsewhere will see mainly cloudy skies and dry conditions. More light rain is possible again Sunday night into Monday across the northern counties. Warmer and drier conditions are expected Tuesday and Wednesday with additional chances for rain on Thursday. (NWS)
FINDSTHEFEATHER LOST, AS IS KINSMAN
On 04-28-22 at approximately 11:51 AM, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a report of two missing juveniles.
The juveniles reportedly left their school that morning in Point Arena (Mendocino County) and were believed to have taken a bus to the Santa Rosa Transit Mall (Sonoma County).
Assistance from the Santa Rosa Police Department developed information of a sighting of the juveniles in the late afternoon/early evening at the Coddingtown Mall (Sonoma County). It is believed the juveniles were attempting to secure a bus trip to Fresno, California.
MP Mariah Kinsman is a 13 year-old female standing 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 120 lbs with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes. Last seen wearing blue skinny jeans, red Adidas jacket with red bucket hat.
MP Legend Findsthefeather is a 13 year-old male standing 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 120 lbs with long blonde hair and green eyes. Last seen wearing olive green hoodie style sweatshirt and black high top Vans shoes.
Anyone with information about these missing juveniles current or possible whereabouts are asked to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086 or you local law enforcement agency if you are outside of Mendocino County.
COUNTY BUDGET NOTES
by Mark Scaramella
The Third Quarter (end of March) Budget report attached to next week’s Supervisors agenda finally contains one clear budget statement: “At third quarter, the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office anticipates being over budget by $1,418,762 primarily due to overtime costs associated with fires, COVID, quarantine requirements, and crime demands.” How they “anticipate” such an exact number is a matter for the prognosticators to address. The last time the Sheriff’s budget was discussed the Sheriff’s department was said to be “on budget” but that must not have included the overtime.
On the revenue side, the budget for this fiscal year (July 2021 to June 2022) is a mixed bag, but down somewhat.
Property tax revenues are projected to be about $$1.8 million over last year, from $38.5 million to $40.3 million, despite the marijuana market collapse.
Sales taxes are projected to be up by almost $200k, from about $8.3 million to about $8.5 million.
Transient Occupancy Taxes (the “Bed Tax”) (which as we have pointed out before is mostly a reflection of sales tax levels, unconnected to whatever the tourism promotion people do) are expected to be up compared to last year, going from about $7.2 million (during covid) to a projected $8 million by June 30.
As reported previously, the big drop in revenues is from lower than anticipated pot tax revenues which were almost $6.2 million in 2020/21 but are now expected to be less than $3 million, which is $3.5 million lower than budgeted (and the drop off is likely to be even bigger than that). How they were unable to anticipate this drop is also a matter for the crack fiscal prognosticators.
After discounting the $22.7 million in PG&E settlement money from last year’s total receipts, the total General Fund Revenue last year was about $85.1 million. This year the Auditor projects that the total General Fund revenue will be about $84.3 million, a reduction of about $800k. The projected $84.3 million is also about $1.2 million less than was budgeted for this year — again because of the dramatic drop in cannabis taxes.
The wild card in the County’s budget is the Biden Bailout money (American Rescue Plan Act) which we have not yet seen budgeted. Theoretically, that ARP money is for “employee payroll and benefit costs for time spent on administrative work due to covid-19 and its economic impact,” which could cover a good bit of the Sheriff’s overtime besides leaving some wiggle room for the County’s finance team. Presumably they’ve kept track of those covid admin costs (and maybe even fudged them for the County’s benefit where possible. Who knows?).
Former CEO Angelo bragged about leaving Mendocino with a $20 million reserve, mainly by maintaining a high vacancy rate in the larger departments, General Fund or not. As we’ve said before, $20 million is an overlarge reserve for an $85 million General Fund. So, even with the cannabis tax drop off, we don’t see any near-term reason to agree with Supervisor Williams’s recent assessment that Mendo has an “austere” budget, nor do we see any reason to shortchange underfunded and understaffed local ambulance services for relatively small amounts of funding help.
As usual, the quarterly budget report for the period ending March 31 does not contain a departmental breakdown, but simply says, “While the previously noted departments (Sheriff and Probation) are projecting to end the year greater than their assigned net county cost, some departments are projecting to come in under their assigned net county cost, which will offset the losses noted above and balance the budget.” Why they singled out Probation in addition to the Sheriff is not clear since elsewhere in the presentation, for example, the County Counsel’s office is overbudget by more than $100k “due to increased staffing.” (Funny, there are no vacancies in the County Counsel’s office, yet they still farm out hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive legal work every year.)
The “assigned net county cost” is an interesting term of art that came into existence when CEO Angelo first took over in 2010. At that time she took it upon herself to decide what budgets she would “assign” to county departments based on an arbitrary percentage of projected revenue. In those days, department heads usually accepted the CEO’s number while privately grumbling about budgeting by arbitrary percentages. If you were a friend of the CEO (like the DA and former Sheriff Tom Allman) you were either given your own budget number or allowed to over-run your “assigned” budget and then have it covered by end of year adjustments in other departments and other unplanned revenues (such as late fees for late or insufficient tax payments). But if you were out of favor with the CEO, your staffing requests, for example, were denied. Supervisor McCowen once tried to have the Board be more involved in staffing decisions, but CEO Angelo staunchly refused, insisting that hiring decisions were hers alone to make to balance the budget and keep fat reserves.
There are no recommendations in the budget presentation about where the money will come from to cover the Sheriff’s overtime expenses which were previously reported by the Sheriff to be on-budget because the Sheriff, like everybody else, knew that overtime would be around $1.5 million as it has been for years.
Among the more silly cost reduction strategies under consideration by Interim CEO Darcie Antle is “ride sharing.” She told the Board a couple of weeks ago that she’s looking into ways to save travel costs by having departments ride share, especially to the Coast. We can just imagine how that will work. For example, the Ag Department’s gas pump calibration crew can share a ride with a deputy — the deputy can sit around and wait for the crew to do their work and go on to the next gas station, unless an assault or something comes in requring the pump calibration crew to get back to Ukiah on their own. Or Child Protective Services can ride along with the road crew and be dropped off at a tweaker’s house to pick up their kid, then wait for the road crew to return from their work to bring the kid to the foster home. Or a building inspector can ride along with the health department’s restaurant checkers and sit around waiting at each restaurant or walk across the street and inspect the hand rails on a nearby building. Or a cannabis permit inspector can ride along with an Environmental Health septic tank inspector. Oh yeah, plenty of money to be saved by ride-sharing. Better yet, they could have county employees ride the MTA buses on their site visits instead of driving their brand new white (and increasingly electric) County cars and trucks.
Funny, there’s no talk of reducing any of the County’s top heavy administrative and managerial positions. For example, the Executive Office has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the county with only 1 position out of 16 vacant (and we’re pretty sure that’s a clerical position). The County Counsel’s office has no vacancies at all; maybe that’s why they’re running more than $100k over-budget. The County’s overall vacancy rate for “allocated” positions is $27%, but that percentage would be even higher if you take out the well-staffed Executive Office and County Counsel’s office.
MEETINGS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, Anderson Valley Community Services District
Regular Meeting of the Water Projects Committee
To be held via teleconference Phone # 669 900 6833 Zoom Meeting ID 845 5084 3330 Password 048078
Public comments must be submitted by 10:00am on May 5th, 2022 electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday May 5th, 2022 at 10:30am
1. Call To Order And Roll Call:
2. Recognition Of Guests And Hearing Of Public:
3. Approval Of Dec. 2nd, 2021, Jan. 6th, 2022, And April 7th, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes:
4. Changes Or Modification To This Agenda:
5. Report On Drinking Water Project:
6. Report On Wastewater Project:
7. Public Outreach:
8. Concerns Of Members:
Thursday, May 5th, 2022, at 5:00 p.m.
To be held via teleconference 669-900-6833 Zoom Meeting ID: 462 981 9537 Password: 7400
Public comments or document requests can be submitted electronically to email@example.com
The Board Will Review the State of the Anderson Valley Emergency Medical Services
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: Mendocino BOS - May 3 - item 3c
Bower Park — Authorization for the Facilities and Fleet Division Manager to Establish an Emergency Capital Improvement Project to Remediate Hazardous Trees at Bower Park, 38040 Old State Road, Gualala, in the Amount of $175,000 to be Allocated From the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding, and Authorization for the Facilities and Fleet Division Manager to Act as Project Manager to Enter Contracts and Approve Change Orders for the Projects, Pursuant to Public Contract Code Section 20142; and Approval of Corresponding Appropriation Transfer of Funds from Fund 1225, Org Code DR, Account String 865802 Project DR400 to Fund 1201, Org Code CI, Account String 864360 (Sponsors: Supervisor Williams and General Services - Facilities and Fleet)
AV ELEMENTARY SCHOOL NEWS
Hello Parents and Families,
Bus Safety and Parent Pick up
For families of Kindergarten and 1st grade students, we ask that you be visible to the bus driver during bus drop off. The district requires the bus driver be able to see the parent/guardian when one of our tiniest students is being picked up. We especially need everyone’s help at the late bus drop offs after ASP. Thank you for helping keep all our students safe!
Open House is next week! May 4th @ 5pm
Next Wednesday night is Open House! This is the yearly opportunity for families to come visit the school. Teachers will display student work, artwork and major projects that they have completed! This is a great opportunity for families to see their child’s growth and progress from the year.
6th grade will be holding an important grade level meeting at 5:30pm to discuss graduation and the last field trip of the year!
Summer School Letters Going Home tomorrow
Tomorrow - students who have been recommended for Adventure Camp Summer School will receive a letter in their backpack. Teachers have recommended students who need extra academic support and will have a positive experience in Summer School. Please reach out to the office with any questions. Please review the letter and sign the bottom if you want your child to attend.
May 19th @ 4:30pm is the Bond Walkthrough Tour - come take a close look at our school and what needs to be updated and would be addressed by the Bond.
We are taking registrations for the Anderson Creek Independent Study Program with Ms. Triplett! This is a special program for families that want to consider an alternative. Students can attend ISP in the morning and then join the main campus in the afternoon. Contact the office or Ms. Triplett with any questions.
Staff Appreciation Week is coming up! This year we are celebrating our staff during the week of May 9th. If a certain teacher or staff member has made a difference in your student’s life - let them know how much you appreciate them during the week of May 9th.
A few reminders:
Please send students to school with a water bottle everyday.
Toys are not allowed at school.
Measure M lawn signs are available for anyone who wants one. Stop by the office and pick one up.
— Cymbre Thomas-Swett, principal
AV UNIFIED WEEKLY UPDATE
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
Another week zoomed by! The sites are busy preparing and/or implementing the required State testing. Testing is an information tool for our staff for planning and to learn how to better support our students. It is not used to make grade determinations or class assignments. Essentially, it’s data for us to figure out how we can serve our kids better. We try to make it as low stress a situation as possible, but we do ask that students try their best. Ensuring your students have enough time for sleep is very important, not just on testing days, but all school days. One of the pieces of information that came out in our Health Kids Surveys is how students are not going to bed until 11 or 12 at night and many report they don’t know how to relax. This is a concerning issue because if you’re not rested, you’re not ready to learn.
I had a meeting this week with some wonderful agencies that support our families with all sorts of interventions, classes, and needs fulfillment. I’ve attached the flyers here. These resources are varied by agencies from parenting support to actual help with food, housing, and diapers. Reach out to these agencies, if you have needs that you think might fit their mission.
The calendar is filling up fast with a joyful celebration and transitions associated with June. Please see a variety of important dates on your Principal communications weekly to find out additional activities.
Charlotte Triplett's unique Anderson Creek Independent Study program is accepting enrollment for next year. This is an alternative program for kindergarten through sixth grade. Please reach out to Charlotte or the Elementary office for more information.
Don’t miss the Unity Club's Wildflower show this weekend. That is an Anderson Valley tradition and Ms. Berrigan's students are displaying their water color artwork.
The Measure M fact sheet is attached. Please let me know if I can answer any questions about the planned improvements. Site tours are scheduled for May 12 at 4:30 PM at the high school and May 19 at 4:30 PM at the elementary school. Please join us and see the many infrastructure needs at our 70-year old sites.
It has been quite an amazing year. I am so glad we were able to bring the students back in person learning every day and I celebrate the staff for making that happen in a safe, compassionate, and differentiated learning space. I am excited about next year as we expand our offerings to our high school students. We have the opportunity for 9-12th graders to take a 2 unit college class in the amazing Mendocino College Auto Mechanics program and earn 2 units of college credit. We have seven students already fully signed up. The school district will provide transportation to and from the class. IF YOU THINK YOUR STUDENT WOULD BE INTERESTED, PLEASE COMPLETE THE PAPERWORK OR STOP IN THE OFFICE BY MONDAY. There is NO CHARGE and this is a huge opportunity. My goal is to have 20 percent of our high school students enrolled in at least one college class next year. CAN we do it?
LOCAL GRAINS TURNED INTO CRAFT WHISKEY
by Justine Frederiksen
In 2017, Doug Mosel was harvesting rows of rye he planted just south of Ukiah. Nearly five years later, that locally grown grain is now in a bottle of locally produced whiskey.
“He’d been bugging me to do it for years,” said Crispin Cain with a smile when asked why he began making whiskey with the local rye, which was grown by Mosel as part of a local farming endeavor he launched in 2009 called the Mendocino Grain Project.
Cain, master distiller and co-owner of Mendocino Spirits in Redwood Valley, said the first step in turning the rye into whiskey is sprouting and toasting it along with two other grains before they all begin the fermenting process together. The grain mix in the newly bottled Low Gap straight bourbon whiskey, Cain said, was 15-percent rye, 20-percent barley and 65-percent corn.
After successfully turning Mosel’s rye into whiskey, Cain bought some of his Sonora wheat for a new batch of bourbon. Though it is not yet ready to be bottled, Cain did pull some of that bourbon out of its barrel for Mosel to try during a special tasting hosted at the distillery recently.
“Wow, oh my goodness,” Mosel said after a taste. “That’s remarkable.”
“This was fermented and distilled on April 4, 2019, and we put it in the barrel a few days later,” Cain said of the whiskey featuring Sonora wheat grown by Mosel. “We also matched it up with some really fine wood. These are the best American barrels I could buy. The wood was split and cured for three years before they made barrels out of it, which makes a huge difference.”
Another key choice Cain makes is to distill his whiskey in an antique cognac pot still, which he said offers him a “really fine extraction of flavor. More than just getting alcohol out of it, we’re getting flavor, so that’s really important.”
And while the long, careful process of double distilling the whiskey is something Cain will never change, he said malting the local grains himself “is a lot of work,” and he would welcome getting the grains already prepared for fermenting.
“So I was glad to learn of a local malting house,” said Tamar Kaye, co-owner of Mendocino Spirits, explaining that she recently learned of the Knocti Malt House in Lake County from Rachel Britten, who now owns the Mendocino Grain Project.
Britten, who officially took over the grain growing and processing business from Mosel in February of 2020, said the owners of the nearby malt house have bought grain from her, which they then malt in small batches.
If you’d like to try some of the project’s grains before they become whiskey, Britten said she is offering “grain and bean boxes” for sale, both as a CSA subscription or a one-time purchase. For more information visit: www.mendocinograin.com, or contact Britten at 707-841-1256, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And of course if you want try the local grain as craft whiskey, visit MendocinoSpirits.com.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
THE SKUNK — POINT, COUNTERPOINT
We live in our wonderful community fronting the 2+ miles of prime ocean frontage we call the Noyo Headlands. We love our historic Skunk Train, but since it was sold in 2003 to Mendocino Railway, the future of Fort Bragg has become precarious.
When the Mendocino Railway, a so-called “public utility,” obtained the 260+ acres of the Noyo Headlands from the Koch Brothers’ Georgia-Pacific by eminent domain last November, the future of our town became murky. 1) The cleanup of the toxins (e.g., dioxin, arsenic, heavy metals) is no longer guaranteed; 2) the City’s plan for environmentally protected headlands with day-lighted creeks, a wildlife corridor, modest housing, and extension of the business district is being ignored, and 3) the rare stretch of undeveloped ocean and Pudding Creek frontages may become a tourist Choo Choo Land!
To wit: The Mendocino Railway submitted a map of proposed train tracks from Laurel Street to Glass Beach to the Coastal Commission for approval. They are purchasing properties in the area (e.g., on Alger Street). They contend that they are not subject to local and state regulations for toxin cleanup, and they are advertising on commercial vehicles, airport carts, billboards, and other media.
Therefore, the City of Fort Bragg is suing the Mendocino Railway, challenging MR’s claim that they are a public utility in Superior Court, thereby challenging the ownership of the Headlands. We applaud the City and urge residents who want to preserve our community to run for City Council in November.
— Susan Nutter, Fort Bragg
Response to Susan Nutter’s recent letter to the editor:
Some Corrections And Clarifications
First, I think Susan's letter greatly understates what happened in 2003. You state our purchase made things precarious. As a reminder, the Skunk Train was bankrupt and closed! While I spent months in town during that 8 month closure, businesses told me of their hardship due to declined visitation. Our company stepped in and spent millions to reopen and improve the railroad.
Second, you and others complained about GP cleaning up the site (for example I see a post in 2018), but now you write that it was "guaranteed". Our company is already doing the remediation yet not you complain about the good old days when GP was responsible. Talk about spinning things.
Third, please show me the City's plans that you outline in your letter. Other than the Ad Hoc Committee map that is based on our plans, the City has not issued a plan. Frankly, it sounds like you're talking about our plans that include modest housing, an extension of the business district, wildlife corridor, 40% open space, extended setbacks & so much more.
Fourth, the "rare stretch of undeveloped" frontage is actually a brownfield site. It is covered in asphalt, concrete and needs remediation. You complain about all the toxins and then refer to the site as pristine and undeveloped. It was covered by a lumber mill! You can't have it both ways calling it pristine in one breath and then complaining that we won't clean it up.
Fifth, our company has NEVER stated we are not subject to regulations for clean-up. We have been working with the DTSC for years. You are simply spreading false rumors.
Sixth, you are against us advertising and supporting other businesses and organizations in the area. Is supporting the local radio station so bad? Is putting a sign on public transit so bad?
— Christopher Hart, Mendocino Railways (Skunk parent co.)
SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE RULES IN THE CITY V MENDOCINO RAILWAY CASE
On April 28, 2022, the Mendocino County Superior Court issued a ruling in the City v Mendocino Railway case. To read the Press Release, please click here: 04-29-2022 Court Rulings
Mendocino County Superior Court Rulings Reject Mendocino Railway’s Request to Dismiss City Lawsuit
On Thursday, April 28, citing an abundance of case law and legal precedent, Judge Clayton L. Brennan of the Mendocino County Superior Court ruled against Skunk Train operator Mendocino Railway’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the City of Fort Bragg (City) concerning the City’s ability to exercise authority over land use within city boundaries. In ruling for the City, the Court found that excursion service railroads like the Skunk Train “are not operating as public utilities and should not be regulated by the [California Public Utilities Commissions] as such.”
Ruling on Demurrer to the Complaint
Ruling on Motion to Strike
This early decision of the court is an important step in dispelling the falsehood that the Skunk Train is a public utility and therefore not subject to local regulatory oversight. The City is committed to ensuring that development on the former Georgia Pacific Mill Site meets the needs and character of the community, that environmental hazards are appropriately remediated, and that current and future public infrastructure requirements are addressed with water supply, sewer facilities and roads.
Since acquiring 272 acres of coastal land, which comprises approximately a third of the land within city limits, Mendocino Railway has not acted in good faith with regard to development within the City of Fort Bragg. Rather than seeking a Coastal Development Permit application and committing to abide by the same rules as all other developers, Mendocino Railway has instead claimed to operate as a common carrier public utility.
If unchallenged, this common carrier determination would allow Mendocino Railway to strategically claim exemption from ocal and state regulations and bypass the community’s ability to participate in planning reuse of the site.
As such, late last year the City filed a lawsuit in Mendocino County Superior Court disputing Mendocino Railway’s claim. In response, Mendocino Railway promptly submitted a legal pleading, known as a Demurrer, requesting dismissal of the case. The basis of this request rested on the false assumption that by virtue of Mendocino Railway’s status as a federally regulated railroad and public utility, the Mendocino County Superior Court lacks jurisdiction, or is preempted from even considering the City’s lawsuit.
However, citing extensive legal precedent, as well as a previous California Public Utilities Commission determination that Mendocino Railway “is not engaged in interstate transportation related activities but rather simply provides a sightseeing excursion loop service,” the Court ruled that Mendocino Railway’s preemption argument is overly broad.
The City now looks forward to this case progressing toward a resolution that results in a declaration from the Court that Mendocino Railway is not exempt from local land-use authority.
(Fort Bragg City Presser)
CLOVERDALE RESTAURATEUR TRADES OWNERSHIP FOR MOVIE CAREER
by Mary Jo Winter
The recent sale of his Cloverdale business had Victor Calderon reminiscing about his 31 years as the owner of La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant and some of the other twists and turns his life has taken so far.
Calderon, his five brothers and two sisters were born and raised in the Mexico state of Michoacan. It is also where he met and married Delia, his wife of 45 years.
He was 17 when he first visited California with his father, who worked seasonally as a foreman in the apple orchards of Sebastopol. The whole family eventually relocated to Sonoma County and began building their new lives.
A 1991 wedding at the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds and a stroll downtown to the former Villa Loma Mexican Restaurant led to a chance encounter that totally changed the direction of his life.
While having lunch, he started talking with the owner, who said he was trying to sell his restaurant. One thing led to another, and the two reached an agreement for Calderon to purchase the business and change the name to La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant.
An entrepreneur at heart
Before becoming a restaurant owner, Calderon owned a night club and poker room in Petaluma called the La Hacienda Cantina. He later honed his cooking skills for several years as a chef and kitchen manager at the former Señor Alfredo’s Mexican Restaurant in Santa Rosa.
“I cooked a little when I was growing up,” he said, “but not that much. Both my mother and my grandmother were excellent cooks. Many of the dishes I prepared at La Hacienda were very different from what other Mexican restaurants serve because they were my family’s recipes that had been passed down through the generations.”
Although the restaurant featured a full, well-stocked bar, his signature margarita was his best-selling drink. Much like his signature dishes, this, too, was his own recipe that was unlikely to be duplicated anywhere else.
The restaurant hosted mariachi bands, local singers, karaoke nights and even movie production companies. Delia and their daughter also worked in the restaurant, with all of them putting in very long hours. While they are all going to miss their customers and employees, Calderon said, “I think my wife and daughter were ready for me to retire.”
Locals like Nate Rotlisberger say they are really going to miss La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant in Cloverdale, which permanently closed and will reopen under new owners, have a new name and a new menu.
“I’ve gone there every year for my birthday for the last 20 years, as well as a few times a week. Both my wife and mom asked if I’m OK after hearing the news,” he laughs.
While staying at a local bed and breakfast, Hollywood Publicist Jodi Jackson stopped in for dinner. Not only did she rave about the food and the margaritas, she wrote a review that described the restaurant as being like something out of a Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino film, noting “this place is a throwback from days gone by.”
Cloverdale’s institutional decor
Before the building became either Villa Loma or La Hacienda, it had been known as the Lockhorn Bar in recognition of two deer bucks on display who were locked together by two short spikes on their horns.
Sometime before 1916, a Cloverdale man by the name of Riley Horn found the deer in the wilds of eastern Oregon. They had been dead for about two days. After bringing them back to Cloverdale, he took them to a taxidermist in Healdsburg.
The mounted bucks were first displayed in a local grocery store during the 1920s before being moved in the 1930s to a bar that had been named in their honor. Both the deer and the namesake bar moved again in the 1940s to the restaurant building where they have remained for more than 70 years.
According to Michael Piccolotti, grandson of Riley Horn, “Victor has protected the deer for 31 years as if they had been handed down from his own ancestors.”
When Calderon sold the restaurant, the deer did not fit into the new owners’ remodeling plans. It took six men to remove them from their high perch overlooking the bar and load them into the back of a truck.
The Horn family descendants really wanted the deer to remain on display in Cloverdale. When approached about having them relocate to the Citrus Fair, CEO Allison Keaney immediately responded by saying, “I would absolutely love to have this on the grounds. We have a couple of ideas of where we might put them, too.”
So, after spending a couple of months in a storage unit, the lockhorn deer will be moving into their new permanent home at the Citrus Fairgrounds sometime in May.
Piccolotti, who lives south of San Francisco, made the drive to Coverdale on more than one occasion over the years just to have lunch, see the deer and visit with Calderon.
“The food at his place was worth the drive even if the deer hadn’t been there,” he said.
Taking to the silver screen
Much like when he bought the restaurant from the previous owner, the ease with which he sold La Hacienda was almost serendipitous. He was shopping in Santa Rosa when he started talking to a couple who owned restaurants in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. He mentioned he was wanting to retire and hoping to find a buyer for his restaurant. They came up the next day and, before long, the sale was a done deal.
Calderon never set out to be a restaurant owner. As a young boy, he dreamed of being an actor and coming to the United States to make movies. Then, a little over a decade ago, he met well known Mexican actor and producer Emilio Montiel when he attended one of Montiel’s movie premiers in Bay Point.
A while later, Montiel contacted Calderon to see if he would be interested in making a movie in Sonoma County, but the timing was off. Calderon had already committed to being in the Citrus Fair Parade.
Undeterred, Montiel contacted him again a few months later and, as he says now, “Thank God he accepted. I never had any problems with him. He has always been very professional.”
The two have since made several movies together.
His first collaboration with Montiel Productions in 2013 was a Spanish language action film entitled “La Vida de un Capo” (Life of a Capo). It was filmed in and around Cloverdale, including at the restaurant.
Future looks bright for this star
In addition to Montiel Productions, he also made a movie under his own production company La Hacienda Films. Calderon was the executive producer, as well as an actor, in “Duelo de Tahures,” (Duel of Gamblers). This movie, too, was filmed on locations in and around Cloverdale. Interior scenes of the restaurant will be easily recognized by anyone who has been inside.
Altogether, he has acted in about 20 movies so far and served as an assistant director or producer on several others.
One room in his home is devoted to his movie memorabilia, including posters, photos, scripts and CDs. All of his movies are shown on Cine Mexicano, a Mexican channel on Comcast, and several of them can also be viewed on YouTube.
While the 69-year-old Calderon may be retiring from the restaurant business to spend more time with his family, do a little traveling and work in his garden. He has no plans to retire from his new-found acting career. He expects to make a couple more movies in the next several months, this time with English subtitles to appeal to wider audience. He said this is all for fun, not for making money.
“Victor is a man with many talents,” Piccolotti said. “He is a chef, a successful business owner, a man who has starred in over a dozen movies, but more than anything else, he is a devoted family man and a very kind man with a generous heart. The world needs more people like Victor.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
THE FIASCO THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
I am writing in regard to an April 22 Press Democrat article headlined “SMART seeks significant ridership boost next year.”
In the report, it surprisingly states that Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit leaders estimate that 58% of revenue will come from sales taxes, 24% from state grants and 14% from federal grants. That totals 96% of total revenues coming from subsidies, not fares. That is disappointing.
If SMART achieves its goals next year, 3% to 4% of its revenues will come from ridership. Taxpayers should think about how troubling that is.
I strongly suspect that even with SMART’s spin about retaining its reduced fares, it is still missing the essential key point. Have officials considered that, just maybe, even the reduced rates may not be affordable to a large segment of potential ridership? It is likely that SMART’s regular ridership (as lean as it is) would fall in the high-income range. Who else could afford it?
Given that SMART is 96% subsidized, wants to increase ridership and is not realistically affordable to all, SMART should dramatically reduce its fares if it truly wants to serve its community. I have seen way too many empty trains pass by as I waited at the rail crossings.
PARTNER: ‘How old are you, Clint?’
CLINT: ‘I turn 91 on Monday.’
Partner: ‘What are you going to do?’
Clint: ‘I am going to start a new movie.’
Partner: ‘What keeps you going?’
Clint: ‘I get up every day and don’t let the old man in.'
CANDIDATE FORUM, Monday, May 9, 2022 6:00 p.m.
In preparation for the June 7, primary election, the Mendocino Women's Political Caucus, the American Association of University Women, and the Ukiah Daily Journal will host a CANDIDATE FORUM on Monday, May 9, 2022 in the UKIAH CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS located at 300 Seminary Avenue in Ukiah. The forum will begin at 6 p.m.
This forum will present the candidates for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, District 5; The Mendocino County School Superintendent; and Katrina Bartolomie and David Eyster, unopposed candidate for county-wide office.
Our organizations have jointly hosted candidate forums on a regular basis for over 25 years. It is our experience that these forums generate a great deal of voter interest and we hope and expect that all candidates will participate. Our goal is to educate voters and encourage voter involvement.
Each candidate will have the opportunity for short opening and closing statements. Questions from the audience will be submitted to the moderator on index cards and each candidate will have equal time to answer the questions and to respond to each other. The moderator will ask as many questions as possible but will use her discretion to choose questions of most interest to the voting public. Tables will be located in the foyer for your campaign literature, but campaign signs are not permitted.
The Mendocino Voice will stream the Candidate Forum.
Val Muchowski, Philo
FIRST FRIDAY AT GRACE HUDSON--CLAY HAWKINS ENTERTAINS
On Friday, May 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will be open for Ukiah's monthly First Friday Art Walk. The unique, entrancing chords of songwriter and musician Clay Hawkins will fill the galleries. Using rapid-fire, finger style slide guitar and honest, heartfelt songwriting, Hawkins creates a sensibility at once ancient and modern.
This will also be the last weekend to see the Museum's current exhibit, "The Art of Collecting: New Additions to the Grace Hudson Museum," which closes on May 8. These longer days and cool weather provide a chance to check out other galleries and take a spring evening stroll through the Wild Gardens. And Little Bear will delight with his table of Native American tools and toys. Light refreshments will be served.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
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On Saturday, May 7, from 4 to 7 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum presents "A Corner in the Gardens" fundraiser. Longer days and moderate weather provide a perfect setting to enjoy a late afternoon and early evening in the Museum's Wild Gardens, where a number of artists, working in different mediums, will be creating new art, plein-air style. Visitors can converse with the artists as they work, learn about their techniques and why they make certain aesthetic choices. The art will be sold via silent auction that evening.
Tickets are $50, $35 for those 35 years and under. The event includes catered appetizers, a bar, a wine pull, and live music by BP3. All proceeds benefit the Corner Gallery and Grace Hudson Museum.
Plein-air artists include painters Susan Blackwelder, Eva Cox, and Tobin Keller; fiber artists Laura Fogg and Tim Easterbrook; metal artist Katie Gibbs; and tile mosaic artist Elizabeth Raybee.
To purchase tickets, call the Museum at (707) 467-2836. $50 tickets can be purchased online by clicking PLEIN-AIR <cid:part1.96BD5597.342F97D6@pacific.net>*.*
The Museum thanks its sponsors, Factor Pipe LLC, Mendocino Book Company, and Tamar Distillery.
VICTOR HUGO FOUND GUILTY
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the defendant guilty as charged.
Defendant Victor Hugo Rico Gonzalez, age 41, of Geyserville, was found guilty of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater, both counts as misdemeanors.
The defendant also admitted — outside the presence of the jury – an additional charge and a prior DUI conviction.
In an effort to strategically keep the jury from learning he had a prior DUI conviction, the defendant admitted to the judge when the jury was not present an allegation charged by the DA that he had suffered a 2018 misdemeanor conviction for driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater out of the Sonoma County Superior Court.
The defendant also admitted to the judge when the jury was not present a third count alleging that on the day in question (9/6/2021) he was knowingly driving on a suspended license, that suspension having been imposed by the DMV as a result of the prior Sonoma County DUI conviction.
After the jury was excused, the defendant was ordered to return to the Ukiah courthouse on May 11, 2022 at 9 o’clock in the morning for judgment and sentencing.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence underlying today’s jury verdicts were the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Justice crime laboratory in Eureka.
The attorney who presented the People’s evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Jordyn Sequeira.
As an aside, this was Ms. Sequeira’s first jury trial. Congratulations, Jordyn.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Patrick Pekin presided over the three-day trial and will be the sentencing judge on May 11th.
WATCH THIS, KIDS
On Monday, April 25, 2022 at about 8:05 AM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident that occurred the previous day at a local elementary school in Covelo.
Deputies met with an adult female and learned she had been assaulted by her spouse, Jose Ojeda-Maldonado, 41, of Covelo, the day prior.
Deputies further learned Ojeda-Maldonado had called and texted the adult female multiple times to meet her at a fenced area on the local elementary school grounds. When she contacted Ojeda-Maldonado he grabbed her around the throat with one hand and produced a fixed blade knife in his other hand.
Ojeda-Maldonado pushed the adult female against a wall a few feet away and brandished the knife in front of her face and neck. Ojeda-Maldonado also made a threatening statement during the incident.
Ojeda-Maldonado eventually let the adult female go and left the area.
Deputies located Ojeda-Maldonado at his residence in 76000 block of Main Street in Covelo and arrested him on the listed charges without further incident.
Ojeda-Maldonado was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on the listed charges where he was to be held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 29, 2022
SAGE BEHAG, Covelo. DUI causing bodily injury.
ANGELA BLACKWELL, Willits. Pot possession for sale, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, armed with firearm in commission of felony.
LUIS DELCAMPO-ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Under influence
JESSICA HOFFMAN, Little River. Probation revocation.
SEAN LOGAN, Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, DUI, failure to register as sex offender with prior, suspended license.
JESSE MCGARY, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
RAYMUNDO MORELES, Gualala. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run with property damage, evasion.
ANTONIO MUNOZ, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
JOSE OJEDA-MALDONADO, Covelo. Domestic battery, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, kidnapping, false imprisonment, criminal threats.
RONNIE SALAMONE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
ROBERT SMITH, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
UKRAINE FRIDAY, Latest Developments
Western support of Ukraine hardened Friday as the European Union was poised to approve an embargo on Russian oil, amid fresh assessments that the Russian military’s eastern offensive was faltering, hampered by logistical issues and stiff Ukrainian resistance.
The oil embargo, which would be phased in over a period of some months, is expected to be approved by E.U. ambassadors next week, in a step that should avoid the time-consuming process of gathering heads of state.
In his nightly address, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that Melinda Simmons, Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine, returned to Kyiv today — and that such gestures indicate to Russia a need to end the war. During a visit to Kyiv this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would reopen its embassy in Kyiv soon. President Biden has nominated Bridget Brink, a veteran diplomat, as the next ambassador to Ukraine.
A family member confirmed that an American killed while volunteering for the Ukrainian military was Willy Joseph Cancel Jr., 22. A former Marine infantryman, he is believed to be the first U.S. citizen killed in action in Ukraine. Cancel lived in Kentucky and worked as a correctional officer prior to his death. According to service records provided to The Times, he was discharged from the Marine Corps as a private in November.
Russia’s Donbas offensive has made little progress in fierce combat, Western officials and analysts say.
THE DEEPEST OF CATASTROPHES was the First World War, and then only twenty years later or so you have the Second World War, and the complete destruction of Germany. Almost every single major city in Germany looked like the World Trade Center after its attack. And that sank in—and it’s in me. My first memory is of my mother ripping my brother and me out of bed in the middle of the winter night, wrapping us in blankets, and taking us up on a slope. In the distance, at the end of the valley, the entire night sky was red and orange and very slowly pulsing. She said the city of Rosenheim was burning. I was only two and a half. Normally, memories do not go back that far, but I know this was my very first memory, and it’s embedded in my soul…
— Werner Herzog
PAT DENNIS: “I’m sick of people calling everything in crypto a Ponzi scheme. Some crypto projects are pump and dump schemes, while others are pyramid schemes. Others are just standard issue fraud. Others are just middlemen skimming of the top. Stop glossing over the diversity in the industry.”
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It’s entropy made visible. Most new schools going up look more like minimum security prisons than anything else. No trees, windows that open, no attempt at charm or warmth. But most of the kids come from the suburbs that mirror this soulless, antisocial (as in it’s difficult to know your neighbors, not in the criminal sense) and treeless environment.
BEWARE OF E15 GASOLINE
The Biden administration on Friday issued an emergency fuel waiver allowing E15 gasoline supposedly to lower prices. This is gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol content. Unless our vehicle is specifically designed to use a fuel with this concentration, E15 will cause damage to the engine and its components. A vehicle labeled as "FlexFuel (allowed)" can use up to E85 (85% ethanol content). BUT using E15 fuel in many cars like Subarus, Hondas, etc. will void warranties and likely cause damage. Same problem exists for smaller gasoline engines - unless the fuel is drained from the carburetor and fuel line, E10 or higher will damage the engine.
It's obvious that politicians are not engineers or mechanics, and they certainly won't pay for engine repairs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration clearly states that E10 is the highest-level content of ethanol that can be used in vehicles that are not designated as "FlexFuel". E15 also produces more smog than E10, a reason this fuel was banned during summer driving months. Even 91 octane gasoline currently has 10% ethanol unless its specifically labeled as "Ethanol free". Just look at the pump - that "contains 10% ethanol" applies to all octane levels. It is a misimpression that 91 octane is ethanol-free (pure ethanol has an octane rating of 100). When E15 is applied at the pump, all grades of gas will have this more corrosive ethanol content. Be sure to read your vehicle's warranty before pumping E15 gasoline into your gas tank or you may be in for a very expensive lesson later.
THIS IS THIS
by James Kunstler
It’s one thing to lose your dignity as citizens, and another to just lose your country altogether….
“This is this,” DiNiro’s character “Michael” famously told Cazale’s “Stan” in The Deer Hunter, explaining the metaphysics of the bullet in his hand, and pretty much everyone watching the movie got the drift of that cryptic utterance. Likewise, Elon Musk’s character “Elon Musk” explained to America’s Maoist managerial legions: “Free speech is free speech” — as if, a week after Twitter’s surrender to Elon, there was some part of the formulation that the Left didn’t understand. (Apparently, all of it.)
What a concept! Free speech is free speech. It has bowled over the — what? — maybe twenty-three percent of the country that considers free speech “a threat to democracy.” This is what comes of inverting and subverting language itself for the purpose of mind-raping the nation like Jeffrey Epstein on a 15-year-old. The Left has exercised a Macumba voodoo death grip on free speech for years now. The deeper the Left’s crimes against the constitution and common decency, the harder they strangled the flow of news, information, and opinion until the mental life of the USA turned into a gibber of shamefully obvious unreality.
It’s one thing to lose your dignity as citizens, and another to just lose your country altogether, and that is the circle of hell that the Left has dragged everyone else into since even before Hillary Clinton booted the 2016 election. This tyrannical Maoist managerial mob, grown paradoxically rich beyond precedent, became a tool of the state itself working around the inconvenient first amendment to hog-tie public debate. Will the US government allow Mr. Musk to get away with liberating the new “public square?”
It looks like the DOJ, the SEC, and perhaps other nefarious actors of degenerate officialdom are fixing to go after the rogue Tesla mogul who had the effrontery to oppose totalitarian control of the narratives driving public life. It’s rumored that money-losing Twitter could not exist without the government footing the bill for the vast, backstage server arrays that enable all Twitter’s messaging. In an odd twist, though, the shareholders were not necessarily benefitting from that symbiotic relationship as Twitter’s stock fell from $71 a share in July ’21 to $32 in March ’22. But the C-suite of Twitter’s executives were already too massively rich to care about anything but punishing their political enemies — which they did with sadistic zeal — when Mr. Musk surprisingly stepped onto the scene.
The government’s first counter-move, under the vividly deliquescing “Joe Biden” — whose treasonous corruption became Twitter’s job-one to conceal — was to concoct a brand-new agency under Homeland Security called the Disinformation Governance Board, to be run by one Nina Jankowicz, “internationally-recognized expert on disinformation and democratization,” who also happened to be a RussiaGate shill and publicist for the fifty national security officials who labeled the Hunter Biden laptop story “Russian disinformation” (turned out: not). In other words, America now has a “truth” kommissar who is a soldier in the War on Truth.
Such a desperately stupid maneuver could only come from a regime close to collapse — just as the feculent particulars on Hunter Biden’s laptop are being revealed by many in possession of copies of the laptop’s hard-drive, and while, concurrently, the US attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, leads an investigation into Hunter B’s business dealings. Those include large-ish payments from nations hostile to American interests for opaque services rendered. So, you have a chief executive (“JB”) compromised mentally and legally, and installed via a janky primary and a dubious election, and, some young cookie fresh out of the Princeton fellowship matrix is going to defend him like Wonder Woman wielding her Magic Lasso of Aphrodite?
RETURN & REBUILD
by Maxim Edwards
As Russia has concentrated its offensive against eastern Ukraine, border crossings in the west have slowly become a two-way street once more. Eighty per cent of the five million Ukrainians who have fled their country say that they would like to come home. On 14 April, Ukraine’s State Border Guard estimated that 870,000 citizens had entered the country since the war began.
Following Russia’s ‘strategic deployment’ out of northern Ukraine, two-thirds of Kyivans are back. The low-cost German coach firm FlixBus recently announced it will resume routes to the Ukrainian capital, even while the government issues air raid warnings for the entire country. The mayor of Kyiv, Wladimir Klitschko, has warned of the continued risk of rocket attacks and mines. Today, another rocket attack hit the city’s Shevchenko district. Ukrainian soldiers securing villages north of the capital have reported finding grenades strung to tripwires in abandoned homes. In Bucha, they found the inhabitants’ corpses, too.
Several Ukrainians I know are indignant when asked if they will return, even to towns like Bucha. For them, the question implies doubt in their country’s capacity to rebuild and flourish – and, more pointedly, in other countries’ readiness to help it.
Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine may have destroyed as much as $30 billion of private housing. Housing is the only significant property many families own – should they lose it, wages are far too meagre for them to rent easily elsewhere.
Better wages were the main reason Ukrainians were heading west en masse long before the bombs started falling. The eastern half of the EU has long run on precarious Ukrainian migrant labour. With a low birthrate and low immigration, Ukraine was already one of the most rapidly depopulating countries in the world.
Chernihiv is a hundred miles or so north of Kyiv; in February, the Russian army subjected it to a vicious siege in which dozens lost their lives. When I went there in 2019 to report on the demographic crisis, Zhanna Deriy, a local demographer, showed me around the city. She took pride in Chernihiv’s restored churches, its neat parks, repaired pavements and filled-in potholes.
Instead of potholes, her city now has missile craters. She is now in Romania. We spoke again recently. ‘Before the war, the city had a population of 285,000,’ she told me. ‘Today it’s estimated that there are about 88,000 residents remaining. More than half of our people have become refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced people ... Our population hasn’t fully “adapted” to life abroad. But to cite a personal example, three of my colleagues are already abroad. They’ve enrolled their children in schools and one is already applying for work there.’
Under a bill that has been submitted to Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada, the government will offer compensation for all destroyed homes. It would take a lot of money. The World Bank predicts that Ukraine’s GDP will decrease by 45 per cent this year; President Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia pay for what it has broken. That looks fanciful – to put it mildly. It is now up to the EU not only to support refugees, and to help rebuild homes that can be returned to, but to rebuild a country worth staying in. Cancelling Ukraine’s foreign debt would be a good place to start.
Some Ukrainian refugees could stay in the countries they’ve fled to. But many more may eventually return. After the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia came to end, hundreds of thousands of Bosnian and Croatian refugees returned to their homelands – but not necessarily to their hometowns.
‘In the liberated villages of Chernihiv region – Ivanivka, Lukashivka, Yahidne – there’s a tendency to leave,’ Deriy said. ‘These people lived under occupation; they saw their relatives and friends executed. Their psychological state is quite difficult, which encourages them to look for a safe place to live elsewhere.’
There are seven million internally displaced people in Ukraine, and the number will only grow as Putin’s assault on the Donbas sets more homes ablaze. Two days ago, the UNHCR predicted that more than eight million refugees could flee Ukraine this year. Yet if there’s an enduring demographic consequence to this war, it could well be domestic. The country’s economic centre of gravity may shift yet further west of the Dnipro. Even if Ukrainian troops can hold the frontline in the east, and a ceasefire freezes it, returnees will have little cause to rebuild too close to the Russian troops and artillery on the other side.
CALIFORNIA IS FACING A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
Thousands of residents struggle with mental health conditions across the state and for a variety of reasons, many don’t have access to treatment which can lead to increased risk of unemployment, homelessness, suicide, and substance abuse.
A mental health condition that can most impact a person’s ability to live a normal life is when a person experiences an episode of psychosis. Psychosis is a severe mental disorder where thoughts and perceptions are so impaired that the individual loses touch with reality. Early psychosis is often confusing and frightening for the person experiencing it and difficult for their family to understand. Research suggests that three out of every 100 people will have an episode at some point in their lives.
The most effective and only evidence-based treatment for the condition is the Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) model, which creates a personalized treatment plan with wrap-around services, such as access to guaranteed/longer term mental health care, access to housing, and assistance with educational and vocational goals. The problem is, most private pay insurance companies and health plans don’t provide this type of treatment.
Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire’s bill, SB 1337, would ensure that California’s insurance companies and health plans cover CSC as a treatment for early psychosis by January 1, 2023. Currently, many young patients who experience early psychosis are not being treated with the CSC model, which research shows can help patients live healthy, functional lives.
“Early psychosis is a heartbreaking condition that impacts far too many young Californians and those who love and care for them,” Senator McGuire said. “We know what needs to be done – guarantee access to mental health care. Coordinated Specialty Care can literally save a person’s life. It’s beyond time for insurers to step up. Withholding this medically necessary care to those suffering from this traumatic disease is truly appalling and we can change this with this bill.”
SB 1337 was approved Wednesday in the Senate Health Committee with a 9-0 vote.
In the CSC model, a team that includes a primary care physician, psychiatrist, and case manager work to provide evidence-based treatment for mental health conditions, including education, family and peer support, and medication. Studies found that people who engaged with CSC programs experienced greater improvement in their symptoms, stayed in treatment longer, and were more likely to stay in school or employed than those who received sub-standard mental health care.
CSC not only results in better outcomes for the individual, their families and communities, benefiting society as a whole, but it’s also cost effective. For every $1 spent on care delivered in the CSC model, there is a $6.50 ROI in improved health and productivity.
“SB 1337 is the missing piece in California’s mental health parity law,” explains McGuire. “We owe all Californians the right to a healthy and prosperous life. Medically necessary treatment — that’s covered by insurance — is a must.”
(Senator McGuire Presser)
REVOLUTION IN A COURTROOM: THE MURDER TRIAL OF HUEY NEWTON
by Jonah Raskin
“We can’t go back to the old days of the all-white criminal justice system, though Trump did his best to do that. The battle isn’t over yet. Change doesn’t automatically happen.”– Lise Pearlman
Lise Pearlman celebrated her 19th birthday in 1968 when she was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. The following year she transferred from Penn in Philadelphia to Yale in New Haven where two Black Panthers, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, would go on trial, and where she went door to door to elicit views about the presumption of the defendants’ innocence. Years later, Pearlman—whose ancestors fled from pogroms in Eastern Europe, not far from Ukraine— attended law school at Cal in Berkeley. She passed the bar exam, became a trial lawyer and then a judge. The author of five books about the law and justice: the first, The Sky’s the Limit: People v. Newton, the REAL Trial of the 20th Century; and the most recent about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby titled Suspect Number One: the Man who Got Away.
Now, with the release of American Justice on Trial—a riveting documentary that focuses on the courtroom drama that took place in the summer of 1968 in the Alameda County Courthouse—Pearlman can count herself an accomplished movie maker and film producer. She had ample help from her husband who served as the executive producer. Andrew Abrahams, of Open Eye Pictures, and Herb Ferrette directed. Abby Ginzberg, President of the Berkeley Film Foundation, and Bob Richter, now in his 90s, co-produced. Pearlman did the writing and much of the interviewing.
I did not know much about the Huey Newton trial until I read Pearlman’s book, though as a reporter I attended the trial in New York in 1969 of a group of Black Panthers charged with conspiracy to blow up landmark buildings and sites of historical and political significance like the Statue of Liberty. In 1970, I visited Eldridge Cleaver when he was in exile in Algeria, and in 1989 I attended Huey Newton’s funeral in Oakland, where I met Bobby Seale who introduced me to his mother and gave me an autographed copy of his book about barbecuing. Pearlman’s film took me behind the scenes of the Newton trial and showed me sides of the Panthers, their lawyers and supporters I was previously unaware of, though the Panthers always reached out to me and to other young white radicals, who like them wanted alliances and cooperation.
Nine years in the making, the doc was cut from 70 minutes to 40 minutes in the expectation and hope that it would be viewed in school classrooms and reach young students. In fact, American Justice on Trial is a near-perfect vehicle to educate and inform the young and the old alike about a pivotal chapter in the history of American jurisprudence that attracted international attention. For 40 minutes, there’s suspense and a large cast of very quotable characters, both white and Black, including many Panthers who are still alive: Kathleen Cleaver, David Hilliard and Janice Garrett-Forte who says that if Huey were to be found guilty there would be “warfare” on the streets of Oakland.
Pearlman told me, “I owe a debt of gratitude to the directors, especially Abrahams for his artistry and for turning the doc away from a series of talking heads lectures into a compelling drama.” She added, “During the making of the film, there were disagreements about accuracy vs. art. I don’t think we sacrificed one for the other.”
1968 has followed Lise Pearlman around for the past 54 years. It has also followed the women and men who appear in American Justice on Trial. 1968 changed their lives. The trial of Huey P. Newton, the co-founder with Seale of The Black Panther Party, changed the life of David Harper, who deftly navigated his way through the legal labyrinth, joined the jury and became its foreman. In many ways he’s the hero of the drama. In 2015, the city of Oakland created a “David Harper Day” to honor him. Like a detective on a murder case, Pearlman tracked Harper down to his home in St. Louis and interviewed him.
Harper had refused to talk to reporters at the end of the trial, though a year later he granted an exclusive interview to Gilbert Moore, one of Life magazine’s first Black reporters, who quit his job and wrote a classic about the Panthers titled A Special Rage.
In American Justice on Trial, David Harper says, “I felt like I was ordained to do a job.” Indeed, he was a man on a mission. His co-stars in the drama are Oakland's Black community. 10,000 protesters gathered in Oakland on Newton's birthday, February 17, 1968, and heard speeches from Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and H. Rap Brown (Jamil Abdullah al-Amin). Agnes Varda filmed Cleaver, Seale, Carmichael and Brown in her 31-minute black-and-white documentary, Black Panthers, that captures the intensity of that moment.
Protesters chant slogans like “Free Huey,” “Off the Pig” and “The Sky’s the Limit,” all of which planted the notion that if Newton was found guilty, the streets of Oakland would be bloody.
Pearlman, now retired from the law and the bench, remembers the protests in New Haven in those heady days. She also places them in a social and political context that resonates today. "The trial was pivotal not only for Huey and the Panthers—who used it to promote their ten point program— but also for justice in the U.S," Pearlman told me just days after her film premiered before a partisan crowd at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco that included Newton’s widow, Fredrika and Elaine Brown, who chaired the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977, the only woman to serve in that position. Pearlman sat in the audience, along with her husband.
During a phone interview with me, she added that "The Newton trial demonstrated the importance of ethnic and gender diversity on juries.” Charles Garry and Fay Stender, Newton’s white lawyers, understood the power of voir dire and used it as a powerful tool to select a jury that wasn’t white and male. Stender, who conducted much of the research and wrote the briefs, has long been one of the unsung heroes of the Newton trial. Anne Fagan Ginger, a lawyer, activist and founder of Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, wrote and published in 1969, Minimizing Racism in Jury Trials, with introductions by Garry and Stender. Throughout the 1970s, it served as a Bible for criminal defense lawyers representing members of minority groups.
American Justice on Trial tracks the drama in the courtroom, in the streets of Oakland, and across the United States in the spring and summer of 1968, when all hell broke loose at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Newton’s trial, which was originally scheduled to begin in the month of May—when French workers and students took to the streets—was postponed twice. First, after King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, then again in June after Sirhan Sirhan gunned down Senator Robert Kennedy, who was running for president. The times couldn’t have been more volatile.
The Newton jury, which was made up of seven women, four people from minority groups and two white men, deliberated for four days, finally returning with a unanimous verdict of guilty on voluntary manslaughter, not first degree murder, as charged by the “the people” aka the State. “A traditional white male jury would likely have returned a verdict of murder in the first degree,” Pearlman told me.
She credits Judge Monroe Friedman for keeping a level head during the trial and giving Newton the opportunity to testify under oath about the history of slavery and racism. It was Friedman’s last case.
American Justice on Trial offers a convincing dramatic recreation of what the jury concluded happened on the night of October 28, 1967, when a white police officer named John Frey, 23, and his back-up officer Harold Heanes stopped Newton, 25, who was driving a “known Panther vehicle” with outstanding traffic violations. Newton emerged from the vehicle carrying a law book and no gun and did exactly what the officers told him to do: face downward and spread eagle.
In the courtroom, Heanes testified that he was hit by a bullet from a gun that was fired in the darkness 30 feet away, where Newton and Frey grappled with one another. Heanes fired his service revolver and wounded Newton in his abdomen. During the trial, the jury found that Newton had wrested a gun from Frey and pulled the trigger more than once.
In fact, Frey was shot five times and from two different directions. He died in the streets of Oakland. Newton was arrested, taken to Kaiser Hospital and charged with murder. No guns were admitted in evidence at the trial, though a ballistics expert testified that Frey died from bullets fired at close range and from his own gun.
Charles Garry argued that Newton acted in self-defense. The jury didn't accept that account, though on appeal, Newton’s conviction was reversed and a new trial ordered. Following two mistrials, the Oakland District Attorney declined to prosecute a fourth time and the charges against Newton were dismissed.
Pearlman told me that the Newton trial and its aftermath shaped the course of American history. FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, declared the Panthers Public Enemy # 1. In December 1969, two members of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were killed by law enforcement officers in Chicago.
In the wake of those murders and others, the Panthers turned increasingly to electoral politics. First, Bobby Seale and then Elaine Brown, ran for Mayor of Oakland, and though they lost those races they raised awareness of racism and injustice. Ron Dellums, a foe of apartheid in South Africa and in the U.S., served 13 terms as a member of Congress and as mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011. Barbara Lee has represented Oakland and parts of northern Alameda County in the House of Representatives since 1998. She and Dellums benefitted from the groundbreaking work of the Panthers.
“We can’t go back to the days of the all-white criminal justice system, though Trump did his best to do that,” Pearlman reminds me. ”The battle isn’t over yet. Change doesn’t automatically happen. Right wing politicians don’t want any criticism of American history taught in school classrooms, but I think kids are too savvy these days to allow that to happen. After all, they’re exposed to popular culture and popular music.”
The Panther legend has lived on in rap, hip-hop and in movies by young Black directors like Spike Lee and Melvin van Peebles whose 1971 movie Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song depicts a Black man framed for the murder of white cops, and who goes underground and becomes a fugitive who does kill cops. The Panther Ten Point Program—which called for the termination of police brutality, the end of the murder of Black people by the police and the right of Black people to be tried in courts by juries of their peers—is as new and as fresh today as it was in 1966 when Newton and Seale first wrote it. American Justice On Trial accords the Panthers, their friends and allies, including Garry, Stender, and jury foreman David Harper, the respect they deserve and that has too often been denied them. The documentary is also a reminder that revolutions take place in courtrooms as well as in the streets and on the barricades, and that unlikely heroes emerge in the heat of battle.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and The Mythology of Imperialism.)
WHO’S MISSING FROM CALIFORNIA’S COMMUNITY COLLEGES?
One out of four prospective students surveyed in December by the Chancellor’s Office said they didn’t enroll because of full-time work. A big factor holding students back was affordability, with 43% of the 400 prospective students surveyed saying that even though the state’s community college tuition is among the lowest in the country, at $46 per unit, it is still too expensive to pursue a degree.
MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO all night Friday night!
Hi! Marco here. Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is around 6 or 7pm. After that, send it whenever it's ready and I'll read it on the radio /next/ week.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via the regular link to listen to KNYO in real time: http://airtime.knyo.org:8040/128
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there. Also there you'll find five pounds of infotointment in a three pound bag, to salve your sensorium until showtime, or any time, such as:
Ukrainian women stirringly singing. (via Everlasting Blort)
How Rome got water.
And a coup in plain sight. (You might have to click the sound on.)
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
SCOTT RITTER talks about Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter