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Mendocino County Today: Monday, May 2, 2022

Cold Front | Jim Crelan | Grange Mothers | Film Festival | Giauque Info | Johnson Sculptures | Ed Notes | Inmate Fatality | Redding Answers | Topless Carpenter | Board Observations | Modern Crime | Found Safe | Yesterday's Catch | Ukraine | Homeless Industry | Titanic Menu | Circumlocuted | Blackhawk Jazz | May Day | NewsomCare | Undefeated Timberwolves | Perpetual Wildfires | Pomo Chief | Poetry Celebration | Noyo School | Self Delusion | Cathedral Steps

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A COLD FRONT will sweep southeast across the area early this morning, accompanied by mostly light rain and a dusting of high elevation snow. Gusty northwest winds will develop behind the front. Otherwise, warm and dry conditions are expected during the middle of the week, followed by additional rain late in the week. (NWS)

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Family and friends are mourning the loss of a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle. Jim Crelan passed away peacefully at his home following a debilitating stroke that he suffered on March 7.

Born James Francis Crelan in Bristol, Connecticut on June 27, 1945, Jim was the oldest of 3 sons of the late Joseph Crelan and Alice (Woodward) Crelan. Jim's brother, Joe Crelan preceded him in death in 2009. Jim's youngest brother, Mike resides in Capitola. The family lived in Chicopee, Massachusetts when the brothers were growing up. Jim came West to San Francisco, CA as a young man where he worked for the Southern Pacific and forest product companies in Mendocino County.

Jim and his loving wife of 42 years, Roberta Valdez, made their home in Ukiah, Mendocino County, where Jim co-owned Sanhedrin Realty in Potter Valley, a successful real estate brokerage firm. He leaves many colleagues, clients and dear friends whose friendships he cherished throughout the many years. Jim and Roberta's children, Emiliano Aragon and Maya Crelan Ray were raised in Ukiah. After Emiliano and Maya left Ukiah for college (UCSC), Roberta and Jim moved to Santa Cruz in 2000. By this time, Jim was retired from real estate and spent many hours gardening, watching television political news shows and reading liberal political news articles. For a number of years, Jim was a member of the Santa Cruz Peace Chorale, where he could sing his values of peace, diversity and political views. In 2010, Jim and Roberta bought a home in Corralitos (Santa Cruz County) where Jim continued to focus on his passions of gardening, politics and gathering with family and friends.

Roberta loves to travel and often cajoled Jim into a road trip. They visited friends and family in such places as British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The couple often traveled to Pescadero, Baja California Sur where they co-own a "casita" with daughter Maya and her husband Christopher.

The apples of Jim's eye were his grandchildren. Axel, age 7, son of Emiliano and Laura Aragon. Harlow, age 8, and Reese, age 4, are the daughters of Maya and Christopher Ray. Both families live in Santa Cruz. Nothing delighted Jim more than being around the 3 children. They miss their grandpa. Jim also leaves behind two nieces, Kelly Stead and Kate Crelan and nephew, Cory Crelan. Jim is missed by many other loving extended family members.

Jim was supported by Bridge Hospice Salinas and Hospice of Santa Cruz County. Donations to one of these amazing organizations or a progressive political cause of your choice in Jim's name may be made in his memory.

A private committal has taken place. Please visit the Benito Azzaro homepage to leave your prayers and reflections with his family.

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Sunday May 8 from 8:30 to 11:00 at the AV Grange is your big chance. After all it IS Mother’s Day. Perfect, these Grange mothers are raring to go. So give your own mom a break and come on down to the Grange. Still the best deal in town. Scrambled eggs, bacon and the secret recipe Grange flapjacks (gluten free on request), extra toppings and who knows but the moms plate may get a little extra. Don’t forget coffee tea and orange juice too. And the extra treat of the Deep End Wogies or members thereof playing all your favorite Mothers Day songs from around the world (maybe).

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Tickets are now on sale and available to everyone for the 15th Annual Festival, June 2-5 online at:

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Late in the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, 2003, Chris Giauque left his home in Salmon Creek, Humboldt County in northern California and was never seen again. What has been reconstructed is that Chris drove south on Hwy 101 to the Spyrock region in adjacent Mendocino County to meet with a business associate to collect a large sum of money owed to Chris for income earned on a Spyrock property while Chris was incarcerated for 15 months in a federal prison at Atwater, CA. Upon reaching Spyrock Rd. along Hwy 101, he drove up Spyrock Rd., then Iron Peak Rd, and parked his vehicle at an area known as Government Pond, where he met with the business associate around 7:00 PM for a 5 mile ride onto the property. The property is large, 440 acres, and is located at 8500 Simmerly Rd., Covelo, CA. Chris was on probation for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana and did not want his vehicle, a 1994 blue Toyota extra cab, to be seen at this location.

The business associate did not have the money owed to Chris. At least three other individuals were present on the property at the site of the meeting. Two of these individuals were well known friends of Chris’ business associate. Chris was killed and, reportedly, his body was removed from the property and to this date his remains have not been found. Chris deserves a proper burial. A reward of $200,000 is offered for information which leads to the recovery of Chris’ remains. The money is in a trust fund at a Santa Rosa bank and the funds are available through calendar year 2024. An additional sum of $200,000 is offered for information that leads to the arrest and subsequent conviction of the individuals responsible for this homicide. 

Information can be provided to Chris’ father, Bob Giauque, at 707-865-0933 (landline) or Information can also be given to Private Investigator Dawn King at 707-287-7603 or

Sources can remain confidential. 

Additional information regarding this homicide case can be found at

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BOONVILLE WENT DARK at about midnight Saturday when PG&E flipped Boonville's power off just as we were about to post our Sunday cyber-edition. We speculated that the power monopoly, tired of local complaints about its tree-trimming atrocities, turned us off as a reminder of exactly who controlled our lives. “Gitchee, gitchee goo, Boonville. Got ya!” The AVA's night shift called PG&E's outage number. A disembodied female voice said the outage was “scheduled maintenance,” and that power would be restored by 5am. Having received no prior notice as per PG&E practice when they're about to sever us from the grid, we grumbled and were about to catch some sleep and post in the morning when the power suddently came back on. It had been off for almost an hour. We posted the Sunday edition reconciled to lesson learned — PG&E rules.

IT LOOKS LIKE CHESA BOUDIN will be recalled as San Francisco's DA, which will be quite remarkable when even the libs feel so menaced by the growing disorder that they remove a liberal prosecutor like Boudin from office. Not to be too cynical about it, but make Robespierre the prosecutor with Madame Dafarge and ten guillotines chopping heads in Union Square and there would be no diminution in crime. Crime is what happens when people don't have the money for food, shelter and NetFlix. I'm surprised there isn't more crime.

THE COUNTY has received $16.8 million that's supposed to go to people and small businesses who took big hits during the pandemic. No surprise to the 15 people who closely follow the supervisors — on big audience days 25 citizens may zoom in for a few minutes of audio-visual incompetence — but almost $400,000 of that money was used for the “security” re-model of the Supe's chambers, that expenditure including seven metal detectors. And no one, except maybe Kathy Wylie who runs interference for the Supes and the CEO's office as foreman of the Grand Jury, noted that Supervisor Williams would like to plop the bulk of the covid relief money into the county's general fund because there is suddenly a budget deficit. But, but, but… Didn't CEO Angelo say just before she retired that her savvy fiscal management had stashed $20 mil in cash reserves? So why not move some of that reserve into the general fund? In any case, nobody knows the true state of the county budget because county accounting is so loosey-goosey true figures can't be known.

BIDEN'S “DISINFORMATION GOVERNANCE BOARD” is not the bad joke it seems, and neither is the crackpot the Biden admin has installed as the board's chief, announcing that Nina Jankowicz is a “Russia expert” and “an expert on online disinformation,” having characterized Hunter Biden's laptop as a Russian plant and that the Steele Dossier proved Trump was a Russian agent. We laugh at the Republicans as a nest of cranks and nuts, but the Democrats, these days, are running neck and neck with them in the Nutpie Sweepstakes.

Jankowitz singing:

ADAM SCHIFF was on tv every night for a year claiming the reality of RussiaGate, which then disappeared from his and the nation's agenda with no apology from Schiff for a year's worth of accusing Trump of treason, as if there aren't a zillion real crimes Trump is guilty of.

AN ON-LINE COMMENT about the true state of county functioning: “People are leaving County jobs because the pay sucks. There’s only five steps that you can have a raise so after you’re there 5 years you’re Tapped Out. The wages of neighboring counties are much higher. A lot of folks work in those neighboring counties than live in Mendocino. For the staff that stay on especially in CPS having to work 12 or more hour days while also trying to care for your own family is not sustainable. With the staff shortages there’s a lot of overtime. Several year backlog on data entry. Go figure.”

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On Sunday, May 1, 2022 at about 5:09 AM, Corrections Deputies were performing routine rounds checking on the welfare of detainees. When they checked on Steven Helm, 75 of Fort Bragg, he appeared to be unconscious. 

Steven Helm

Staff entered the cell, confirmed that Helm was unconscious and checked for a pulse. Finding none, staff immediately began life saving measures including CPR. Jail medical staff was summoned immediately and lifesaving efforts continued.

Emergency medical services were summoned to the jail. Personnel from Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and Medstar Ambulance Service arrived and took over care.

Despite the efforts of everyone involved, Mr. Helm was pronounced dead at 5:40 AM.

Per policy, Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were summoned and initiated an investigation into the cause and manner of death.

Mr. Helm has been in custody since April 22, 2022 and was housed in a single cell by himself per classification and COVID-19 quarantine procedures. In the hours preceding his death there were no interactions with other inmates per classification and COVID-19 quarantine policies.

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Hola, the mighty Anderson Valley Advertisers. Your lowly District 5 candidate is happy to answer your questions. 

Q. Personal information: Are you married? Children? Where do you live? How long in the county? Political affiliation?

I have two grown children with good Irish names. Kyle is the manager of Data Securities with Bosch near Detroit and Erin is a marketing manager for Google, working remotely from Denver CO. I live near the bustling Mendocino burb. My partner of twenty years is Dr. Barbara Barkovich. We are Bay Area refugees having moved here in 2004. I am registered to vote as a republican mostly because I admire the genuine nature of people in the local GOP and their traditional American values. I have no use for the national political parties, Republican or Democrat.

Q. What would you do to improve or change the County’s marijuana permit program? 

There is a lot to absorb for someone not steeped in the background of the County’s marijuana program. Some of the problems can be traced to changes in CA laws and regulations that make unclear what CEQA requirements must be met. However, it can’t explain entirely why the County’s cannabis permitting has been plagued by unclear goals and indecisive action. Regardless of the causes, the permitting process is a patchwork of requirements, clarifications and modifications that no one seems to fully understand. Those cultivators that have paid for applications and have been paying taxes but do not have permits have been treated very unfairly.

I also learn that permitting is slow because there is not enough staff to keep up with the number of applications. Staffing shortages are at the root of many county-wide issues as I discuss below. However, this shortage of resources is exacerbated by the County’s insular nature.

Here is an example of the unwillingness of the County to use suggestions from outside parties. Mr. Paul Garza tells me that West Company suggested that the County having regular training sessions for potential applicants on how to successfully complete an application. This would reduce the amount of time staff spends on reviewing and returning faulty or incomplete applications. The County rejected the idea. 

Finally, six sigma tools would be able to analyze the permitting process and fix most of the problems. Businesses use six sigma but it is likely a foreign language at the County.

Q. What would you do to improve the lamentable housing crisis? 

I have several plans in mind although I cannot lay claim to them myself. Ms. Geri Morisky (Grassroots Institute, Community Land Trust Work Group) has informed me of an initiative called Housing Mendocino, a new county-wide community land trust (CLT) that has much promise. I will be working with her in the future on this. Mr. Paul Garza, chair of the West Company, has discussed a similar concept which he refers to as a Housing Trusts to keep homes affordable. A coop owns the homes and sells them at affordable price. The homeowner in return enters into an agreement to return the home to the coop, capturing a reasonable amount of equity in the process. This means the house is not sold at market value but remains affordable over time.

Ms. Morisky also suggests that the County review crucial issues such as rezoning which prompts me to ask for a General Plan change to specifically revise decades old zoning. An example would be to relook at “range land” zoning that prevents housing development there.

I would most certainly introduce some restrictions on the use VRBOs. There are 550 such units that would be better purposed as permanent homes for medical provider, educators, and law enforcement officers to name a few. I would eliminate the TOT for those whose home is a trailer in a campground. I would conduct a survey of unused parcels in the County to inventory useable sites for new housing development. New housing is on hold in Gualala because of the lack of water so we must look for an innovative way to get that water.

In short, I would treat lack of affordable housing like covid – an emergency that requires a focused effort and clearing the obstacles in the way of ending the emergency.

But the long-term solution is, once again, economic development. Mr. Garza makes the case that our current industries – tourism, retail, healthcare and government -- serve internal markets and thus don’t generate many new jobs. Whereas these have job multipliers of 1.1 to 1.2, industries that export outside of Mendocino County have multipliers of 5 to 10. Which is why the County flourished when it exported fish and timber. 

This will solve the housing shortage because housing developers will evaluate Mendocino County as a job creating community with a reliable demand for housing and invest development money here. This will create housing for everyone. 

Q. Do you agree that combining the Auditor Controller with the Tax Collector was a good idea? Do you propose any other organizational changes? 

No, I don’t agree. It was a dreadful decision that eliminated meaningful financial checks and balances. I did speak with Ms. Schapmire after this decision was made and learned that only Supervisor Haschak, the lone dissenting vote, asked for her input. The others including Mr. Williams did not. She observed that these Supervisors arrogantly believed they had all the information needed. As for the purpose of this consolidation, she stated her opinion to be that it was done in order to rid the Supervisors of a pesky elected official. This decision, it seems to me, is like many others in which the political needs of the Supervisors and the CEO take precedent over the principles of good governance. 

As for organizational changes, I have a few. I would reinstate the office of Treasurer/Tax Collector. I would appoint an Economic Development Coordinator either through outside hiring or reassign a qualified existing manager. I would do an internal audit to see what jobs are not relevant to the County’s goals and reassign people to jobs that are. I would create and make us of a Financial Committee with two Supervisors as chair and vice chair and including staff and members of the public. (This was the format of the Finance Committee that I chaired as Treasurer of MCHD.)

I absolutely would not consolidate the IT of the Sheriff and the County and I would take steps to ensure the Sheriff’s independence from the Board as much as possible. The Board and management of a hospital are required by law to have an arm’s length relationship with the medical staff. For the obvious reasons that you don’t want those people interfering with medical decisions. In return, the medical staff is obligated to police itself. This is the relationship that I would apply to the County CEO, the Supervisors and the Sheriff.

Lastly and with the hope you are still reading, I will weigh in on the CAO vs. CEO model. It makes little difference whether the Board has a CEO or a CAO reporting to them. The mindset is what is important. The CEO model to suggests the Board doesn’t want to get its hands dirty with operational issues, just make policy. The CAO model to means the Supervisors are part of a working Board. I am not advocating direct management of departments but would rather assign each Supervisor to work alongside of one new department every year. Attend meetings and observe how the department actually operate. Only in this way, I believe, can an elected official really understand how the County works. Better policy will be one result and another will be Supervisor invested in outcomes. No more of the imperious CEO. 

Q. A Strategic Plan has cost the county $75,000 plus travel. Would you have approved this expenditure? 

To approve any new project, I would need to be convinced of a few things. 

First, is there a clear description of the proposed work scope including how the project directly supports one of the County’s stated goals? Second, is there a schedule with an adequate number of milestones and deliverables (or other forms of metrics?) And is there sufficient detail in the cost estimate do convince me it was carefully thought about. Third, is there is one person that owns the project and is accountable for progress and results? 

The County like every organization needs a Strategic Plan if only for the minimal purpose of reminding people why the organization exists if the first place. But Strategic Plans have a long history of being done with great fanfare only to collect dust on the shelf for lack of use. 

Given all this, I don’t think I could approve the expenditure until the County becomes more serious about effectively serving the needs of the County. 

Q. What is your opinion of the County’s budgeting and budget reporting process? 

The budget process is an exercise in mindless number crunching. Pages upon pages with numbers signifying nothing. A budget should tell the story of what County government (or any organization) wants to do and why. It is said that a song is a story elevated by music. In a similar way, a budget is an organization’s story elevated by funding. What exactly is the County’s story? Hard to know when budgets are disconnected from the County’s goals. 

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That is why timely, regular budget reports are necessary. These reports exist to raise red flags when the budget plan starts going off the rails, an example of which was the drop off in cannabis revenue. Whereupon the BOS could have asked for corrective actions to get the budget back in line but they didn’t.

Q. What are the incumbent's major deficiencies? 

I have been told by people who voted for Mr. Williams four years ago that, after being enamored of his many innovative ideas, they are very disappointed with his lack of follow through on any of those ideas. And will not vote for him accordingly. There are two differences between Mr. Williams and myself that highlight what I think are his major deficiencies. First, Mr. Williams surrendered his independence to the County CEO and became a reliable, unquestioning vote for her agenda. It seems pleasing Ms. Angelo was a higher priority than representing the people. As your readers will know, I have been outspoken on issues, not going along to get along as some would prefer. Next, Mr. Williams has not displayed a sense of urgency in solving the many crises that confront the County including and especially the lack of economic development. Whereas that is the primary reason I am running for this seat. The County is grinding to a halt and cannot afford one or two more years of just sliding along, which is what I sense is Mr. William’s agenda -- preparation for seeking higher office. 

Q. What would you do to remedy water shortages in the Town of Mendocino in the short-term? 

At least a partial solution was found when the Mendocino Community Services District was granted a $4.9M grant from the state to add a 500,000-gallon water storage tank to its system. Given the lengthy CEQA process, it will take an estimated five years to come to fruition. I have been given ideas for other projects that may or may not be feasible but worth investigating. An example is laying down a water pipeline on the Big River upstream of the Town. Some obvious challenges would need to be worked out.

What strikes me about this project and many others that the County contemplates is the over reliance on getting federal or state grants to fund critical projects. The problem is, as a former boss once told me, hope is not a business plan. A thriving economy throws off financial resources that make it possible for us here in the County to fund and undertake projects with local control.

Q. Are there many unpermitted and unassessed buildings in District 5? 

I know from reading the AVA that an inventory of unpermitted and unassessed building has not been done. Or an inventory of unused parcels that might be sites for housing developments. Conducting such a survey and synthesizing the results doesn’t strike me as a big chore. Having this information would contribute to solving the housing shortage. 

Q. Are you satisfied with emergency services? Williams has denied additional funding for ambulance services. 

I am familiar with the request of the Anderson Valley Community Services District for $60,000 to shore up staffing of its ambulance service. And that it was denied by Mr. Williams because a “county wide solution” was needed first. Well, that’s like the Emergency Room doctor who, upon see a dying patient, says more tests are needed before he can do anything. The plight of the AVCSD is that of every County agency, special district, school district, non-profit and business in Mendocino County. They are all severely understaffed and we all know why. There is a solution here and it lies in the budget item known as contingency. This is money set aside for unexpected expenses and the request of the AVCSD should qualify. It’s only 1% of the budget and should be doubled of tripled while the County’s many problems undergo triage.

Q. Do you regularly zoom Supe’s meetings? 

If only I had the patience! I have watched some but discovered I was not being adequately informed on the issues. So, I rely instead on the AVA and people posting clips to learn about the proceedings. One reason I find these hard to watch is that the meetings are lifeless and don’t include vigorous discussion or debate on the issues. I am especially appalled by the practice of spending mega-millions via the Consent Calendar. I was equally appalled by the Supervisor’s lack of questions or comments when presented with the mid-year budget that showed a $12M deficit when just a few weeks earlier there was a reported $20M surplus. Is $32M just considered to be a rounding error?

Q. Why do you think you create so much hostility from local liberals? 

It seems you saved the best for last. Most everyone is made uncomfortable by change. I find the Left or Hard Left (not what liberals used to be) are the most annoyed by change because they think they have everything figured out. Theirs is a superior view of how society should be ordered and a large part of their self-identity. For them, my views and opinions are not just different or a challenge to their own, but a sign of disrespect. Thus, the hostility. 

I would add that many on the Left and a few on the Right prefer elected Board members to just get along, not create waves. Go along to get along, as the saying goes. I seem to provoke anger for taking a contentious position. 

My hope is that everyone can put aside their differences for this local election and focus on those things we can agree on – Mendocino County is grinding to a halt before our very eyes and we must act with a sense of urgency to develop our economy and infrastructure and hold our government accountable when it gets in the way. Maybe that takes voting outside your comfort zone.

Your lowly candidate,

John Redding

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Dobie Dolphin Building Her Home, Albion, 1973

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This is a letter I read to the MCDH Board of Directors at their monthly board meeting this evening.

Dear MCDH Board of Directors and Representatives from Adventist Health,

My name is Katherine White and I am a retired RN living outside Manchester, California. I authored one of the two letters that were included in last month‘s board meeting. I declined to read my letter at the meeting because I thought that would be overkill. Unfortunately I was wrong. I am disappointed with the board’s apathetic response to our complaint about John Redding’s social media behavior. In referencing our notes, Mr. Redding agreed at July’s meeting to remove his board member status from his social media profile and to date he has not done that. Mr. Redding unfortunately continues to post on social media in an apparent attempt to goad the public. This month he posted a misleading article regarding suicide rates, young people and schools opening. Immediately people reacted in distress and immediately Mr Redding began firing back at community members. At least ten individuals weighed in with various degrees of exasperation.

I believe that your board has a role to assist with, and certainly not to hinder, the essential and consistent messaging that the public deserves during this immense healthcare challenge. I personally have no desire nor intent to scrutinize the MCDH Board. You were not on my radar until I encountered board member Redding on social media. But since I’m engaged I became curious. And that curiosity has led me to more questions and concerns. Let me share some of those with you.

I’ve observed that,

1. Board members receive no guidance in appropriate and inappropriate interactions with the community.

2. The board is currently making changes to their financial compensation related to health coverage. Such coverage seems redundant. Mr. Redding is apparently 69 and qualifies for Medicare. Amy McColley is apparently a full-time employee at Sutter Health and Sutter Health employment includes healthcare coverage. Karen Arnold is apparently a full-time Human Resources Manager at Mendocino Coast Clinics and employment at Mendocino Coast Clinics includes healthcare coverage. Jessica Grinberg appears to be an independent contractor and I’m unable to determine her access to coverage elsewhere.

I understand that the board is considering granting themselves a $600/month, $7200/year healthcare allowance for healthcare needs. At a time when 5 million citizens have lost health coverage and when many are financially vulnerable this expenditure appears frivolous and misguided.

3. Board Member Redding’s company UniGen Resources currently has a proposal that requires the board’s support. I read in your minutes that he “reassured” that board that he and his wife will receive no funds from the project. The public wants to know why this is not a direct conflict of interest and trusts that more due diligence is forthcoming.

4. I understand that the board is having support staff difficulties. Numerous requests were required for me to obtain board minutes. There are no archived meeting minutes nor agendas posted on the website for the entire year of 2020. Is 2020 not a very pivotal year for your organization? Isn’t this a major transition of leadership? Why is the Mendocino Coast District Hospital primary website nine months out of date?

I hope the Board and the Adventist Health Representatives in attendance recognize that public trust is important. Honesty and transparency are essential. Fiduciary malfeasance and conflict of interest concerns are troublesome. I hope that when the minutes of this meeting are released in a month’s time it will reflect sincere discussion about these concerns.

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A Modern Crime

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A Gun Safe Found Discarded on a Humboldt Road Belonged to a Trinity County Family Betrayed by Their Own Blood

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 1, 2022

Dunn, Monteiro, Robison, Velasquez

JASON DUNN, Ukiah. Domestic battery.



JONATHAN VELASQUEZ-HERNANDEZ, Santa Cruz/Ukiah. Concealed firearm, violation of restraining order by purchasing or receiving a firearm, loaded handgun not registered owner, possession of undetectable firearm. 

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Around 100 civilians rescued from besieged steelworks in Mariupol. UN confirmed ‘safe passage operation’ is under way at the Azovstal steel plant to rescue civilians trapped by fighting.

Shelling of Azovstal steel plant resumes after evacuations. Ukraine’s National Guard brigade commander says raids on Mariupol steelworks have resumed ahead of broader evacuation.

‘It’s hard to look at’ what Putin is doing in Ukraine: Pentagon. The Pentagon spokesman asks how any ‘moral’ person could justify the atrocities being committed in Ukraine.

Russian FM to US, NATO: Stop supplying arms to Ukraine. Sergey Lavrov in interview with Xinhua says West should stop arming Ukraine if they are interested in resolving crisis.

Ukraine: From breadbasket to breadcrumbs. The war in Ukraine could lead to a global food crisis.

Russia-Ukraine updates: ‘Risk of nuclear war must be minimised.’ Ukraine news from April 30: Russian official says armed conflict between nuclear powers should be prevented.

Putin’s ‘middle finger’ to the UN sends clear message to the West. Missile barrage on Kyiv as UN chief visited shows Russia has no intention of bowing to international pressure.

UK aid workers captured by Russian forces in Ukraine, NGO says.

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

The most convincing lie California politicians have managed to sell to the public is the notion THAT homelessness is inevitable, exists everywhere, has no known origins and can be alleviated only by spending lots and lots of money.

None of that is true, and in fact those lies have turned the reality inside-out. A homeless population is instead developed, carefully nurtured and brought to fruition only by spending lots and lots of money. And telling lots and lots of lies.

An example of a robust, thriving homeless community? Take Ukiah. Please.

Thirty years ago Ukiah had approximately zero locals without places to live. There were a few cheerful, sunburnt fellows who manned the 101 on-ramps with “Will Work for Food” signs, and there were a few drunks and druggies who were sometimes in a fog, rarely dangerous, and capably managed by law enforcement.

Many other communities, though not all, had similar experiences at the time. Back then everyone’s fear was that a single missed paycheck would result in you, me or anybody else being out on the street or living in a car, along with your few remaining possessions and maybe a family. (Best to invest in a big Plymouth Voyager van, just in case.)

It was hardly a nationwide problem, but the media, always hungry for a maudlin three-part series about one crisis or another, kept the lies alive with semi-honest stories of the quasi-homeless, with dust bowl-style photos.

Places like Plowshares sprung up, welfare agencies coughed out a few more checks, and you and I flipped extra quarters into coffee cans held by sunburnt gents holding “Will Work for Food” signs.

A new industry erupted, based on the faulty premise (or lie if you’d prefer) that giving money to bums and beggars was counterproductive. Handouts don’t work, we were told. Stand aside, and let highly trained, college educated mental health professionals deal with this crisis using proven strategies and targeted services.

Above all, don’t give bums money. They’ll just get drunk. (Well, if I was homeless and sleeping under a bridge I’d get hella drunk too.)

Today we have more homeless drifters than ever, more money is shoveled at them than citizens are able to comprehend, and the Governor, state and local politicians are vowing to win the War on Homelessness by outspending the Pentagon. And like other wars America has waged against domestic problems (on Poverty, on Crime, on Drugs) this one is already a failure. 

In 2021 I spent about six months in a good-sized North Carolina city and never saw a shopping cart that wasn’t within 200 feet of a grocery store. I never saw a single homeless person, nor tents, sleeping bags or campfires near the (many) railroad tracks at the north side of town. I saw zero graffiti, and no broken windows in abandoned buildings.

And understand, please, that the part of North Carolina I was living in was not Beverly Hills or Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a semi-scrubby place where per capita income is lower than in Ukiah, and housing prices a fraction.

California politicians created their homeless disaster using weak and vulnerable citizens as human fodder. In a huge state with zillions of square miles of land, California refuses to allow average citizens to build homes of their own. 

Restrictions are sprinkled throughout construction projects like land mines in a war zone, designed to prevent citizens from putting modest homes on modest lots. It takes many years and lots of money to get a building permit, given that rules, regulations, hoops, environmental reports, zoning restrictions and NIMBYism are deployed as tactical weapons. 

In Ukiah we’ve seen only government subsidized “affordable” housing projects, some of them huge, built in the last 30 years. Drive down Brush Street, or check out what’s going on behind the North State truck stop.

With the goal of eliminating single family homes having already been accomplished, the state will next announce a bold billion dollar spending plan to solve homelessness: Free public housing. 

You know exactly what public housing looks like, and if you think the next generation of government housing projects will have shops, malls, swimming pools, baseball diamonds, vegetable gardens and weekly potlucks, you better think again. Public housing is always crowded, cramped, ugly, dangerous and depressing. 

Proof? Detroit, Caracas, Hunters Point, Chicago, Watts, Havana, Cleveland, Mexico City, Jersey City, Oakland, Moscow, St. Louis.

But wait. There’s more. Who doubts California will ban cars with gasoline engines within a few years? And who thinks California is currently working hard to update its electric grid to accommodate all those millions of battery-powered vehicles needing to be recharged daily, and nightly? 

Which explains the push, right now, to build hi-rise public housing ghettoes adjacent to mass transit stations. (Because you won’t have a car, that’s why.)

Time to pack up your old Plymouth Voyager van and head for Texas.

(TWK would like to hitch a ride with the next van heading east. Will share expenses. Tom Hine, who writes this column, lives both in Ukiah and not.)

* * *

* * *


Here’s the latest from my “Dumb Government” file:

My wife’s driver’s license expired and she went to get it renewed. It was, but now they give you a piece of paper with your picture on it instead of a real license that acts as an acceptable ID, and you have to wait 7-10 days for the real one to be received in the mail. She got an email from the DMV saying they couldn’t mail the real ID until they got her original social security card. My wife’s ss card, which was issued over 60 years ago, has been lost for a long time. My wife, being a smartie, had made a photocopy of it before she lost the original. This was what she used as an ID to get her license renewal.

Unfortunately, the gov’t won’t accept a photocopy – she needs a so-called original. 

So now she has to drive to a social security office to get a real copy. Unfortunately, she can’t get one because they need to see her original driver’s license!!!!! The other acceptable ID is an active passport. But her passport expired last year. Why renew it with the state of the world the way it is? What, we had to cancel our plans for a nice vacation in Ukraine? Now, do we have to reapply for a new passport so we can get an ID driver’s license? But she doesn’t have an acceptable driver’s license to use as an ID for a passport application.

Now if I were a different person I’d be tearing my hair out, but I think this is so ridiculous that I just have to laugh. We’ll get it all straightened out, but really!!

* * *


by Gary Kamiya

For 14 dingy, glorious years, one of America’s greatest jazz clubs stood in San Francisco, at the northeast corner of Turk and Hyde. At the time, that Tenderloin intersection was not as downtrodden as it is today, but the club was, not to put too fine a point on it, a dump. It was leaky, unheated, dimly lit, badly furnished, and reeked of the petrified smoke of a million cigarettes. When singer and pianist Martha Davis showed up to rehearse one afternoon, one of the pigeons that roosted in a hole in the wall flew right across the piano. “In daylight,” Chronicle music critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote, “it is absolutely repulsive.” As owner Guido Caccienti put it, “I’ve worked and slaved for years to keep this place a sewer.”

Yet between 1949 and 1963, when the shabby club closed, some of the most extraordinary jazz ever made was played within its decrepit walls. Most of the great jazz musicians of that era, the golden age of modern jazz, appeared there: Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, André Previn, George Shearing, and on and on. The careers of such notable players as Gerry Mulligan and Cal Tjader were launched there. Even the legendary Art Tatum played there. It was no coincidence that the club’s life overlapped with the “Baghdad-by-the-Bay” years celebrated by Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, when San Francisco’s nightlife was at its most sophisticated and glamorous.

The club was called the Blackhawk, and its like will never be seen again.

The Blackhawk was opened by Caccienti and Johnny Noga in 1949, replacing an old bar called the Stork. Noga’s brother Teddy played clarinet in a novelty lounge-act trio called the Eastmen, who provided the music at the club. After the Eastmen departed, Caccienti and Noga, neither of whom knew anything about music, booked in several jazz acts, which bombed. The partners would have avoided jazz thereafter, but a local DJ named Jimmy Lyons persuaded them to book an unknown young pianist from Concord named Dave Brubeck. 

After the Brubeck trio’s first night, Caccienti was about to fire Brubeck, but Lyons promoted him tirelessly, and by the end of the two-week engagement, business was so good that they kept the trio on, and the Blackhawk stayed a jazz club for good. Brubeck’s drummer, Cal Tjader, soon switched to vibes; his group, which played its first gig at the Hawk, was a pioneer in what became known as Latin jazz.

Members of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Brubeck’s wife, Iola Brubeck, SF’s Blackhawk jazz club in a painting by Chris Osborne.

Johnny Noga and his wife, Helen, left after Helen became Johnny Mathis’ manager. Caccienti and his wife, Elynore, continued to run the joint, with Elynore working the cash register and Caccienti amusing customers and musicians alike with his hilariously broken English. Admission was $1, and no reservations were taken.

The Blackhawk was famous for its unique teenage section, a part of the bar separated from the rest by chicken wire where only soft drinks were sold, allowing high school and college kids to see jazz. The chicken-wire section was beloved, but in early 1961 Mayor George Christopher ordered the police to close it, declaring that it was dangerous for young people’s morals to hang out in a jazz club. The club’s owners, now including Fantasy Records owner Max Weiss and his brother, George, fought back, and the public took the club’s side, deriding Christopher as a “square.” The press splashed the brouhaha all over the front pages, and Ralph Gleason invited The Chronicle’s readers to enter a poetry contest about the affair. The winning entry mockingly warned Christopher “Of the risk to your fine fuzz, imbibing/As they sit there and dig Cal Tjader’s vibing./ Oh, I warn you, dear Mayor, and this is the truth/ Vile jazz corrupts coppers as well as our youth.”

Christopher doubled down, infamously saying, “Some girl will get raped in the parking lot next door, and who’ll be blamed? Me and the chief of police.” But the mayor’s morality crusade fizzled out, and the chicken-wire section was reopened.

Over the years, the Blackhawk gained a reputation as one of the finest jazz clubs anywhere and attracted visitors from all over the world. As Gleason wrote, “Its hard chairs and tiny tables have accommodated Russian sailors, British poets, Japanese jazz musicians, Cuban patriots, champion prize fighters, baseball stars, All-League pro football halfbacks, social leaders, politicians and just about every hard-core jazz fan able to make the trek to San Francisco. A most incredible cross section of American society has been inside this dimly lit, oblong corner-saloon-with-music.”

Gleason attributed the Blackhawk’s success to its democratic ethos — “The Blackhawk treats every patron, and all musicians alike. The white tie-and-tails crowd from the Opera House ... stands in line with the taxi driver and the kids from San Francisco State” — its superb acoustics (so good that the Modern Jazz Quartet played the club without microphones) and the fact that the owners left the bands alone. “If ever a club was dedicated to music alone, it’s the Blackhawk,” Gleason wrote in his liner notes for one of the two classic live albums Miles Davis recorded at the club in April 1961, “Friday night: Miles Davis in Person at the Blackhawk, San Francisco, Vol. 1.” “Certainly no sane person goes there for any other reason.”

The Blackhawk was also in the first wave of jazz clubs featuring Black musicians that opened downtown rather than in the Fillmore, where a vibrant jazz scene had flourished since the early 1940s. Until the late 1940s, most African American musicians were not allowed to play east of Van Ness, and the musicians union was segregated until 1960. In 1948, pioneering downtown clubs featuring Black musicians, including Ciro’s on Geary, Blanco’s on O’Farrell, and the Say When on Bush opened, followed the next year by the Blackhawk.

It was fitting that Dave Brubeck, who put the Blackhawk on the map, was one of the most outspoken opponents of segregation in jazz. After he hired Black bassist Eugene Wright in 1958, many venues, most but not all in the South, told Brubeck he could not perform if Wright appeared. Brubeck refused to play such venues. In a wrenching interview in Ken Burns’ “Jazz,” the great pianist wept when he recalled his father taking him as a child to meet an old Black cowboy who as a slave had been branded on his chest.

The Blackhawk was the oldest continually operating jazz club on the West Coast, and one of the oldest in the country. But changing musical tastes, the movement of the club scene to North Beach, and disagreements among the owners led to its demise. On Sunday, July 21, 1963, the Blackhawk held its last show, featuring Tjader’s band, John Handy and others. After the band played the last song, an older jazz fan who claimed to have spent half of the last 10 years in the club said, “I can’t believe it’s really happening.” Tjader, who had earlier made an emotional speech announcing the final tune, Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time,” said, “Neither can I. I just can’t believe that we won’t be back on Tuesday night.”

Caccienti, with tears in his eyes, came out from behind the bar and said, “Well, it’s been a long time, I’ll say that. And there’ll never be nuttin’ like it again. It had to take the special nuts that made this place.”

(Gary Kamiya is the author of the best-selling book “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco.” His most recent book is “Spirits of San Francisco: Voyages Through the Unknown City.” All the material in Portals of the Past is original for The San Francisco Chronicle. To read earlier Portals of the Past, go to Courtesy, the SF Chronicle)

* * *

May Day, Fort Bragg, 1967

* * *


by Dan Walters

When he was running for governor in 2018 Gavin Newsom enthusiastically called for a "single-payer" health care system that would cover all Californians with little or no out-of-pocket expense.

As Newsom was campaigning, the state Senate passed a single-payer bill and Newsom endorsed it, saying there was "no reason to wait around."

"I'm tired of politicians saying they support single-payer but that it's too soon, too expensive or someone else's problem," Newsom said, drawing praise from the California Nurses Association, the measure's chief sponsor.

The legislation lacked a financing system and stalled in the Assembly. Newsom's election elated single-payer advocates, but he did not make a push for it, opting for a commission to study how it could be realized. When another single-payer bill passed the Senate, he made no effort to win Assembly approval and it, too, died without a floor vote this year.

This week, Newsom's Healthy California for All Commission delivered its report, endorsing — in concept — "unified financing" that would pay for universal health care coverage, but stopping well short of a specific proposal.

"A system of unified financing is uniquely positioned to transform care delivery and to shift the power that lies in health and health care to benefit those who have too often been overlooked," commission chairman Mark Ghaly, Newsom's top health care official, said in a cover letter.

The report declared that by folding in money now spent on health care by federal, state and local governments in California and imposing some taxes, such a system could slow the growth in costs, now pegged at $517 billion a year, while extending coverage to everyone and saving lives.

It's evident that commission members often disagreed on specifics, which led to a report with a list of potential options rather than a clear pathway to a comprehensive system. Thus, it left more questions than answers.

How would California persuade the feds to go along? What kind of taxes would be raised and who would pay them? What services would be included? How about copays? How would care be structured?

The two biggest sticking points are persuading the federal government to give California tens of billions of dollars now spent on Medicare, Medi-Cal, Obamacare and other federally financed programs, and raising at least $200 billion in new taxes.

Federal compliance would probably take congressional action, exposing California to its many critics in Congress. The two recent single-payer bills in California died because legislators were unwilling to take the heat for increasing taxes.

It's fair to say that Newsom and the Legislature are left pretty much where they had been prior to the commission's creation — having to make many specific and difficult decisions if they want to pursue the cause.

By happenstance, the commission issued its report just as the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research published another take on health care in California, concluding that even were a single-payer system to become reality, it would not be enough to make California a healthier state.

Its report calls for defining "health" in a much broader sense than access to medical care, suggesting that "health and wellness include an understanding of the social determinants of health and are scaled for the whole state population (and) health is highly integrated with social needs such as housing or education …"

The UCLA report implicitly proposes that policymakers should not only create a universal health care system but undertake a complete socioeconomic makeover for California that would eliminate disparities and inequalities.

It is, however, just as vague as the health care commission's report on how these miraculous goals would be realized.


* * *

Undefeated Fort Bragg Gridders, 1955

* * *


by Phil Barber

Everybody noticed the slow-moving helicopter flying low and steady over the forested hills of northwest Sonoma County on Wednesday. Tree crews waved. Farm ladies stood and squinted from backyards, hands on hips. A nosy bald eagle cruised in front of the windshield at eye level. Even the cows looked up.

Ian Olney and Kira Price stared right back from the helicopter, but their focus was elsewhere. Arborists for Davey Tree, they had been contracted by PG&E to do aerial reconnaissance of dead and dying trees along spans of electrical lines in Sonoma County.

The flight, piloted by Jeff Hendry of A&P Helicopters, began at PG&E's Fort Ross electrical substation and proceeded north along a circuit running roughly parallel to the coast, along with its many small branches.

"Drop a point for this Doug Fir," Olney would say into the mic on his headset.

Price would draw a small blue circle on her clipboard stacked with topo maps, before entering the location into a GPS program. Her notations would later guide crews to at-risk trees worthy of a ground-level inspection.

This was one small component of a massive and fairly integrated attempt to mitigate, as much as possible, deadly and destructive wildfires over the coming months. The campaign includes tree and brush removal; ramping up staff, equipment and communication channels; and programs to help property owners create defensible spaces around their homes.

"We need to start thinking outside the term 'fire season.' We're really at risk of wildfire practically every month of the year now," said Tom Knecht, pre-fire division chief of Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit. "We laid off seasonal staff literally the last week of December. That was unheard of when I started. This is now the new normal."

Those thoughts were echoed by Mark Heine, chief of Sonoma County Fire District.

"We had fires in Russian River communities we serve in January and February," Heine said. "We've had multiple controlled burns that get outside the lines of control in March and April. It's just a year-round problem right now."

Wildfires have already burned more than 1 million acres across the U.S. in 2022, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. As of Friday, 13 active major fires had scorched more than 235,000 acres across landscapes as varied as Arizona, Nebraska and Florida. In California this year, Cal Fire has responded to more than 1,400 wildfires, burning more than 6,500 acres.

It's a global problem with huge local ramifications for Sonoma County.

"I'm in my 40th year in service, and I've never seen wildfires burn as they did the last few years," Heine said. "The weather pattern has shifted. The pattern we associate with Southern California has sort of moved over the Bay Area now. We are experiencing wildfires that 10 years ago would be contained quickly, and now burn explosively. Fuel is exceptionally dry."

The forecast isn't promising.

"Due to the early start to the growing season and ongoing long-term drought, typical seasonal curing across the lower elevations will occur earlier, therefore creating earlier than normal flammable dead and live fuel alignments and an early start to the main portion of the fire season," the National Interagency Fire Center wrote of Northern California in its April 1 outlook. "... This early curing process combined with unusually dry dead fuels will continue to move farther up the slopes during June and July and allow for the expansion of above normal significant fire potential farther north and east."

The center is due to issue an update Sunday, the first day of California's Wildfire Preparedness Week.

And so firefighters, officials at all levels of government, utility companies and people trying to exist in the wildland-urban interface are gearing up for what may lie ahead.

For Cal Fire, that largely means prescribed burns this time of year. The Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit (which also serves Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties) is currently permitted for six controlled burns totaling 2,243 acres, including sites near the Jenner Headlands, Healdsburg, Pepperwood Preserve and Lake Sonoma.

Executing the burns can be tricky, though. Cal Fire needs available engines and agreeable weather to make it happen. Knecht called the latter "very much a 'Goldilocks,' just-right situation," which is why Cal Fire tends to set these blazes in mid-spring or late fall.

But Sonoma-Napa-Lake initiated its seasonal staffing increases about a month and a half ahead of schedule this year, hiring 154 firefighters on April 11. The unit will add another 60 firefighters to open all its stations and the Sonoma Air Attack Base on May 16, and an additional 50 to fully staff its engines on May 30. It also received funding for a hand crew that will be stationed at Los Guilicos, near the Oakmont retirement community, as soon as improvements are made to the buildings there.

The local Cal Fire unit has tripled its number of defensible space inspectors, too. They tutor people on things like creating adequate clearance around structures, making those buildings more resistant to ignition, preparing go bags with emergency supplies and identifying safe evacuation routes.

"We can't put an engine in every driveway when the Tubbs fire kicks off," Knecht said. "People have to help firefighters out and make their own homes resistant to fire. So we can fight the actual wildfire rather than focusing only on houses that are on fire."

Where the state doesn't have jurisdiction, entities like Sonoma County are doing similar assessments. Residents here can call the Sonoma County Fire District's main business line and schedule an inspection. It's not an enforcement tool, but rather a free educational program, Heine said.

Meanwhile, Sonoma County is on the verge of completing its core emergency infrastructure, said Chris Godley, the county's director of emergency management. It opened an alert and warning annex last year, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a care and shelter annex at its May 10 meeting.

As Godley spoke over the phone, he said he could see a dry erase board in his office that he uses for priority checklists. Right now, the easel is devoted to fire prevention.

The supervisors also recently authorized $3.8 million for fire management projects like creating buffers along ridgelines and clearing overgrown brush along roads.

That money came from PG&E, through a settlement for its role in the devastating 2017 wildfires; the utility's total payout to the county and the city of Santa Rosa for those incidents was more than $240 million. More recently, PG&E agreed to pay $55 million to avoid criminal prosecution for the Kincade fire in 2019 and the Dixie fire in 2021.

It's safe to say that outside of fire departments, no organization is more responsible for fire safety — or more haunted by its failures to ensure it — than PG&E.

The ground-and-air inspections remain an important tool for the company.

PG&E conducts the line checks annually, looking for dead or declining trees that could potentially fall on the hot wires. The air reconnaissance is especially valuable for stretches identified as high-risk by Cal Fire, and for larger areas with sparse trees, said Olney, the Davey Tree arborist.

"Fort Ross would take a month or more to hike every line," he said. "We can do it in a couple days."

There were plenty of dubious trees to be seen from the helicopter Wednesday, not surprising in a region heavily impacted by bark beetles and sudden oak death. All in all, though, the situation was favorable.

"Everything's looking green," Price said to Olney at one point.

"That's what we like," he replied.

Heine preaches more than doom, too. His fire district is obsessed with hardening defenses, and with getting residents to understand the huge role they can play in the process. But he wouldn't be spending so much time on this if he didn't think it could make a real difference in the next middle-of-the-night emergency.

"We all live in a state of fear, particularly on hot, windy days in Sonoma County," Heine said. "I want people to know we can't predict where the fires will occur. But we are well prepared when they do occur."

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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* * *

MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY * submission window open May 1 to May 20

47th Anniversary * 17th consecutive Revival Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration 2022

Open Reading. Send up to four minutes of poetry recorded on Smartphone to OutFarPress@Saber.Net <mailto:OutFarPress@Saber.Net>. The 2022 Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration will begin broadcast Sunday June 5, on Dan Roberts’ KZYX RhythmRunningRiver. Dan Roberts is the master of audio poetry in segue with the rhythms of world music.

Hear Today’s Broadcast of RhythmRunningRiver at <> at 3:00 PM EST. Here’s Dan’s announcement. Email him at OutFarPress@Saber.Net <mailto:OutFarPress@Saber.Net> to get his notices.

Dear All, RhythmRunningRiver will be on the air from 3-5pm Sunday, May 1, 2022, on KZYX/Z 91.5/90.7/88.1 fm and streaming on the web at

This is a special Building Fund Pledge Drive show. It is divided into 4 sections with about 7 minutes of talking between each part. KZYX is buying a house in Ukiah to be the new studio, and the money raised will go toward the mortgage and the move. Please call 707 895-2233 during the show and help accomplish this essential move.

The poets are Jabez Churchill, Devreaux Baker, Theresa Whitehill, ruth weiss, Oasis, Janet Debar, Bill Baker, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, Janice Blue, and Lorri Kurzfeld. The music is about half new releases and half selections I have played before.

RhythmRunningRiver May 1, 2022 Building Fund Pledge Drive

1. Jabez Churchill & Devreaux Baker_Orchard (2010)

2. Kokoko (DR Congo)_Tokoliana

3. Te Vaka (Maori/NZ)_Vevhi Tino

4. Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania)_Asili Yangu

5. Theresa Whitehill (Ukiah)_Courtship-Grief-Rain (2022)

6. Kongero (Sweden) - Den som frisker är och sund – 

7. Kleiz Breizh Akademie (France)_I eron al liech

8. BraAgas (Prague)_Csiki, Csiki

9. Willie Songue et Les Showen (Cameroon)_Moni Ngan 05:10

 Theresa Whitehill at the 2019 Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration

10. ruth weiss (Albion)_1967 (2009)

11. Mayssa Karaa (Lebanon)_White Rabbit (Arabic Version)

12. Rupa & the April Fishes (Multinational)_Build

13. K.O.G (Ghana/UK)_Mayedeen

14. Oasis (Caspar)_Wild Turkey (2017)

15. Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia)- Delightfully Odd (live)

16. Synapson & Bonga (France & Angola)_Mona Ki Ngi Xica

17. Janet DeBar (Gualala)- Great Pan Lives (2021)

18. Fatoumata Diawara (Mali)_Kalan

19. Kreiz Breizh Akademie (France)_Mon pere a fait faire un etang

20. Bill Baker (Mendocino) _Go As The River Flows (2019)

21. Joanne Shenandoah (US)_Heartbeat

22. Imarhan (Algeria)_Adar Newlan

Bill Baker at the 2019 Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration

23. Rafael Jesus Gonzalez (Berkeley)_The Silence (1990)

24. Judi Bari_Headwaters Forest Rally, 9 15 96

25. Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania)_Mbukwa

26. Janice Blue (Fort Bragg)_Rebecca Boone (2009)

27. Amira Kheir (Sudan/Italy)_Munaya (Dream)

28. Imarhan (Algeria)_Derhan

29. Lorri Kurzfeld (Ukiah)_RhythmRunningRiver (2016)

Today is the day when I begin accepting submissions for the 2022 Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration. For the third year running it will be a virtual reading, consisting of recordings from home on smartphones like many the poems you have heard over the past year. I am accepting your recordings on May 1 until May 20, and will begin airing them on June 5th. More information at You can email me, Dan Roberts, at or Gorgon Black at And you will hear the amazing results of the 2022 Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration here on RRR beginning June 5th.

I will post links to listen to today's show on the web later Sunday afternoon, and they are always available for at least 2 weeks after any show on KZYX at -

RRR playlists from 2009-today are always available here-


Dan Roberts


* * *

The Noyo School, 1890

* * *


The US and Russia, faded relics of the Cold War, unable to accept their terminal decline, launch futile and self-defeating wars to reclaim their lost imperial power.

by Chris Hedges

Blinded by what Barbara Tuchman calls “the bellicose frivolity of senile empires,” we are marching ominously towards war with Russia. How else might we explain Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s public declaration that the US goal is to “weaken Russia” and Joe Biden’s request for another $33 billion in “emergency” military and economic aid (half of what Russia spent on its military in 2021) for Ukraine?

The same cabal of generals and politicians that drained the state of trillions of dollars in the debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Somalia and learned nothing from the nightmare of Vietnam, revel in the illusion of their omnipotence. They have no interest in a diplomatic solution. There are billions in profits to be made in arms sales. There is political posturing to be done. There are generals itching to pull the trigger. Why have all these high-priced and technologically advanced weapons systems if you can’t use them? Why not show the world this time around that the US still dominates the globe? 

The masters of war require an enemy. When an enemy cannot be found, as George Orwell understood in Nineteen Eighty-Four, an enemy is manufactured. That enemy can become an ally overnight – we allied ourselves with Iran in the Middle East to fight the Taliban and later the Caliphate – before instantly reinstated Iran as the incarnation of evil. The enemy is not about logic or geopolitical necessity. It is about stoking the fear and hatred that fuels perpetual war. 

In 1989, I covered the revolutions that toppled the communist dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe.  President Mikhail Gorbachev, like his successor Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin in the early stages of his rule, hoped to integrate Russia into the western alliance. But the war industry places profits before national defense. It needed an antagonistic Russia to push the expansion of NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany in violation of a promise made to Moscow. There were billions of dollars to be made from a Russian enemy, as there are billions more to be made from the proxy war in Ukraine. There would be no “peace dividend” at the end of the Cold War. The war industry was determined to continue to bleed the US dry and amass its obscene profits. They provoked and antagonized Russia until Russia filled its preordained role.

The humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan and two decades of military disasters in the Middle East have magically been atoned for in Ukraine, although we have yet to place any troops on Ukrainian soil. We have taken ownership of the Ukrainians, as we did with the mujahideen we funded to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

“For the first time in decades, an American president is showing that he, and only he, can lead the free world,” wrote George Packer, one of the most ardent cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq, in The Atlantic magazine.

“NATO has been revitalized, the United States has reclaimed a mantle of leadership that some feared had vanished in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the European Union has found a unity and purpose that eluded it for most of its existence,” The New York Times crowed.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The New York Times wrote, carries around a map of Ukraine, marked with tactical details. “With aides, he drills down for details about the location and combat readiness of specific Russian ground units and ship movements,” the paper noted.

Former NATO commander Richard Shirreff told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program the West should prepare to fight Russia.

“The worst case is war with Russia,” he said. “By gearing itself up for the worst case, it is most likely to deter Putin because ultimately Putin respects strength.”

War is a drug. It cripples your body. It fogs your brain. It reduces you to poverty. But each new hit sends you back to the euphoric heights where you began.  

More weapons mean more fighting. More fighting means more death and destruction. More death and destruction mean more antagonization of Moscow. More antagonization of Moscow means we circle closer and closer to open warfare with Russia. Following Ukraine’s strikes on Russian military and energy facilities, Moscow threatened to attack incoming NATO weapons shipments. Reeling from sanctions, Moscow halted gas supplies to two European countries. It warned that the risk of a nuclear war is very “real” and that any direct foreign intervention in Ukraine would provoke a “lightning fast” response. As Finland and Sweden debate joining NATO, Russia has called further expansion of NATO another dangerous act of aggression, which of course it is. There is mounting pressure for a no-fly zone, a move that would trigger direct confrontation between Russia and NATO, as would a Russian attack on a NATO arms convoy in a Ukrainian neighbor country. Putin’s revanchism is matched by our own.

The disorganization, ineptitude, and low morale of the Russian army conscripts, along with the repeated intelligence failures by the Russian high command, apparently convinced Russia would roll over Ukraine in a few days, exposes the lie that Russia is a global menace. Russia’s forty-mile long convoy​ of stalled tanks and trucks, broken down and out of fuel, on the muddy road to Kyiv was not an image of cutting-edge military prowess. Russia has been unable to overwhelm a poorly equipped and numerically inferior force in Ukraine, many of whose troops have little or no military training. Russia poses no threat to the NATO alliance or the United States, barring a nuclear attack.

“The Russian bear has effectively defanged itself,” historian Andrew Bacevich writes.

But this is not a truth the war makers impart to the public. Russia must be inflated to become a global menace, despite nine weeks of humiliating military failures. A Russian monster is the raison d'être for increased military spending and the further projection of American power abroad, especially against China. Militarists need a mortal enemy. That enemy may be a chimera, but it will always be led by the new Hitler. The new Hitler was once Saddam Hussein. Today it is Vladimir Putin. Tomorrow it will be Xi Jinping. You can’t drain and impoverish the nation to feed an insatiable military machine unless you make its people afraid, even of phantoms.

The war in Ukraine is intimately linked to the real existential crisis we face – the climate crisis. The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and be nearly halved this decade, to thwart global catastrophe. UN Secretary General António Guterres characterized the report as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” Triggered by war in Ukraine, soaring energy prices have pushed the US and other countries to call on domestic oil producers to increase fossil fuel extraction and exacerbate the climate crisis. Oil and gas lobbyists are demanding the Biden administration lift prohibitions on offshore drilling and on federal lands.

Black and brown people, who suffered in the brutal wars in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria, without the western support and sympathy shown white Ukrainians, will again be targeted. The Indian subcontinent is currently plagued with temperatures as high as 116.6 degrees, power outages of 10 to 14 hours a day and dying fields of crops. An estimated 143 million people will be displaced over the next thirty years, nearly all from Africa, South Asia and Latin America, the IPCC writes.

These endless conflicts will inevitably militarize our response to the climate breakdown. Absent measures and resources to halt the rise in global temperatures, curtail our reliance on fossil fuels, foster a plant-based diet and curb profligate consumption, nations will increasingly use their militaries to hoard diminishing natural resources, including food and water. Russia and Ukraine account for 30 per cent of all wheat traded on world markets. Since the invasion, the price of wheat has gone up by between 50 and 65 per cent in commodities exchanges. This is a hint of what is to come.

The Ukraine war is part of a world order where the rule of law has been jettisoned for aggressive, preemptive war, a criminal act of aggression. These wars bring with them black sites, kidnapping, torture, targeted assassinations, censorship, and arbitrary detention. Rogue private contractors, along with covert intelligence paramilitary units, carry out off-the-book-war crimes. Russia’s Wagner Group (The name Wagner is supposedly the call sign of its founder and commander, an ex-GRU officer called Dmitry Utkin, who reportedly has Waffen-SS insignia tattooed on his collarbones) or the US mercenary group Academi, founded by the Christian Right leader Erik Prince, function as little more than death squads. 

War is a spectacular form of social control. It secures a blind, unquestioning mass consent propped up by what Pankaj Mishra calls an “infotainment media” that “works up citizens into a state of paranoid patriotism,” while “a service class of intellectuals talks up the American Revolution and the international liberal order.”

In The London Review of Books, Mishra wrote:

Humiliation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at home by Trump, demoralised the exporters of democracy and capitalism. But Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine have now given them an opportunity to make America seem great again. The Russian bear has long guaranteed, more reliably than ‘Islamofascism’ or China, income, and identity to many in the military-industrial and intellectual-industrial complex. An aging centrist establishment – battered by the far right, harangued by post-Occupy and post-BLM young leftists, frustrated by legislative stalemate in Washington – seems suddenly galvanised by the prospect of defining themselves through a new cold war.

This world of fantasy is sustained by myths - the myth that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq would welcome us as liberators, that Ukraine is not a real nation, that Ukrainians see themselves as pan-Russians, that all that stands between Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians, Somalis, Yemenis and Libyans and ourselves are terrorists, that all that stands between Putin and Ukrainians are neo-Nazis and their supporters in the West.

Those that challenge these fantasies, whether in Russia or the US, are attacked, marginalized, and censored. Few notice. The dream is more appealing than reality. Step-by-step these blinded, bloodied cyclops of war stumble forward leaving mounds of corpses in their wake.


* * *

"A Sea of Steps," Wells Cathedral, 1903 photo by Frederick H. Evans


  1. Kirk Vodopals May 2, 2022

    Dear Mr. Redding… You lost me at six sigma weed.

  2. Randy May 2, 2022

    TWK knocks it out of the park .

  3. Marmon May 2, 2022


    “There have not been many senators from Delaware. It’s a small state. As a matter of fact, there’s never been one.”

    -Joe Biden, former Delaware senator.

  4. Dobie Dolphin May 2, 2022

    What a surprise to see that photo of me from 1973, but it wasn’t my house, it was Harriet Bye’s. I helped build lot of houses but never built my own.

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