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UNSETTLED WEATHER CONDITIONS and colder temperatures are expected today through Tuesday. Drier weather is forecast for Wednesday followed by another chance for rain Thursday. Warmer weather is in store for next weekend. (NWS)
NAVARRO GENERAL STORE is looking for full-time and part-time help. Great opportunity to cashier, stock shelves and work deli service. Looking for an all around person, friendly, wanting to work, motivated, flexible, multitasking… Please call 707.895.9445
THE GREAT SWEET AFFAIR BAKERY IN FORT BRAGG
MARK THESE DATES, ANDERSON VALLEY!
Measure M School Tours Scheduled
If you would like to tour the school sites and look at the current needs of the properties, please join a school tour. Dates are as follows:
High School, Thursday, May 12 at 4:30 PM, Architect Don Alameida will be present for this tour.
Elementary School, Thursday, May 19 at 4:30 PM, Hosted by Louise Simson
We hope to see you at a tour!
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Dory is a happy, playful, young dog who loves to play fetch. Ms. D wants a home where she can spend lots of time with her new family, and she's hoping they’ll have plenty of toys! Dory enjoys going for walks and exploring the great outdoors. Not only is this girl adorable, she’s also a great size for folks who like smaller dog buddies. Dory is 1 year old and a delightful 20 pounds. Check out Dory’s webpage for more photos and info.
If you can’t adopt, think about fostering. Our website at mendoanimalshelter.com has information about our FOSTER PROGRAM. And don’t forget our on-going SPRING DOG AND CAT ADOPTION EVENTS at the Ukiah and Ft. Bragg Shelters! While you’re at our website, check out all of guests, services, programs, events, and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
NEW COURTHOUSE PROCEEDS; SAME OLD PROBLEMS
by Mike Geniella
A new $118 million Mendocino County Courthouse’s design will highlight the “casual lifestyle” of the Ukiah Valley while incorporating the latest construction technologies including onsite solar power generation, according to state court representatives.
“It is going to be a light-filled, welcoming building to the public, and it will be incredibly efficient,” said Court Executive Officer Kim Turner.
A clearer picture of the new facility will be made public May 26 when state court officials in San Francisco meet and review a 200-page report on the new Ukiah courthouse. A four-year design/construction phase beginning July 1 could be triggered if plans for the new courthouse are approved by a state court advisory committee as expected.
“We are expecting approval, and we are preparing to move forward,” said Turner. The Perkins Street site for the new courthouse was selected a decade ago but state funding withered, and the project was put on hold in 2016.
Now the revived courthouse project is changing how local officials are seeing the future of local court operations, and Ukiah’s downtown.
The new courthouse is likely to be the costliest local public works project ever, and it promises to reshape the face of the city’s downtown by shifting the historic site of the center of local government three blocks east to state-owned land along the railroad tracks and adjoining the historic Ukiah Railroad Depot.
Funding for the new seven-courtroom building is included in the state’s proposed budget for 2022-23. The Ukiah project is ranked second on a priority list for courthouse construction projects planned this year statewide. A smaller, $51.2 million new courthouse in neighboring Lake County is the state’s top “immediate need.” The Ukiah courthouse is labeled an ‘immediate need’ project by the state.
So far, the design criteria established for the Ukiah project focuses on a modern courthouse with upgrades that will fit the needs of the courts while blending with a “community lifestyle,” said Turner. “We are hoping for a structure that will fit into its surroundings,” she said.
While the appearance of the building is critical, Turner said its function is paramount. “We are going to get a building with architectural merit but more importantly one that will allow the courts to be moved out of the current structure that is substantially out of compliance with safety, seismic, and Judicial Council space standards.”
The existing courthouse is a mishmash of offices, and courtrooms. It is a blend of two old buildings: a century-old section fronting School Street which used to house the County of Mendocino’s administrative offices, and a new 1950s structure facing State Street where courts, holding cells, jury rooms, and the District Attorney’s Office have long been located. The building even once housed the county jail.
State officials from the beginning rejected any possibility of gutting and remodeling the current courthouse as some officials have advocated, including District Attorney David Eyster. The state said the current structure is seriously flawed, including being rated by federal agencies as a “high-risk, seismically deficient building” with limited access for disabled individuals. There is elevator access to only 3 of 5 floors. The building suffers from inadequate heating and cooling systems, cramped office spaces, and inmate security issues. Staff and public parking is woefully inadequate, the state contends, even with city-owned parking lots in surrounding areas.
An estimated $9 million in deferred maintenance costs further undermines the 72-year-old building, a county-owned facility that for the last several years has been managed by the state court system
The new Ukiah courthouse will be low slung because its building height will be limited to three stories as the new site is located at the northern edge of the flight approach into Ukiah Municipal Airport.
“The new building will settle into the surrounding area. It will not loom above neighbors,” said Turner.
Besides the ability to generate its own power on site, Turner said the new courthouse offers advantages including:
• A secure, dedicated in-custody sally port and holding areas for prisoners.
• Secured on-site parking for court staff and 160 parking spaces for jurors and the public.
• Internal circulation that will keep separate zones for the public, staff, and in-custody defendants. Inmates will be kept in individual holding cells next to each courtroom, and reachable only by secured elevators.
• Ample visitor security screening areas at the building entrance.
• New attorney-client interview rooms.
• Accessible public spaces that meet requirements of the federal American Disabilities Act.
• Larger jury assembly and deliberation rooms.
Although advantages of a new building are cited, there remain questions about how relocating the county courthouse will affect the core downtown area.
Where court-related offices such as the District Attorney and Public Defenders will be housed beginning in 2026 is unknown. How county staff in those offices will be able to connect with the state courts almost hourly as they do now also is unclear. Locals know that winter rains and hot summer days might make walking between separate public offices difficult, for example.
There is speculation that a separate six-acre parcel adjoining the new courthouse could be developed for court-related office space. But uncertainty clouds that possibility because the property is publicly held by what was the North Coast Railroad Authority, which is now being dissolved and its assets transferred to the state-owned Great Redwood Trail Agency. Whether it could become available for commercial office space development is unclear.
“The city has been involved in discussions about the future development of those six acres but because of the change in ownership and any project managers, it will probably result in a restart,” said Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley. Riley noted that the city in past years aided the state in environmental cleanup of the new courthouse site. While those requirements have been met, the city is still concerned about “the functionality of the site as it relates to the (new) courthouse structure.”
Riley, in a 2019 report to the City Council, specifically addressed concerns about:
• The “functionality of surrounding streets, and the development of public infrastructure that will allow the build-out of the entire 11 acres.”
• The “smooth integration of this project with the existing downtown.”
• And the “beautification of this important corridor” from the new courthouse to the core downtown.
Whether Clay Street will be punched through on the east to Leslie Street remains uncertain, said Riley. She said there is a privately owned parcel in the path of any Clay Street extension. While the Clay and Leslie streets link was advocated as far back as 1995 in the city’s General Plan, Riley said, “There are no plans to do anything at this time.” Improvements are also hampered by the lack of redevelopment funding, which the state ended a decade ago, according to Riley.
An even larger concern for some is the fate of the current courthouse, which has anchored Ukiah’s core downtown for decades. Local shop owners and other core businesses worry that relocation of the courthouse might lead to an exodus of related legal offices. The loss of “foot traffic” generated by current court operations alarms some already struggling downtown businesses.
As it is, the County of Mendocino owns the current two court buildings and the land. Once construction begins, the County Board of Supervisors will have to decide future uses of the courthouse, if any.
A primary issue is whether the county will have any money available to upgrade the current building to meet potentially costly seismic standards and disability access issues for other public uses.
If the current courthouse is eventually abandoned and demolished, the question then becomes what of the historic site’s future? Riley and other downtown advocates lean toward eventually tearing down of the 1950s courthouse structure, possibly preserving the historic century-old building facing School Street and creating a new downtown plaza in the courthouse’s place. They suggest the current Alex Thomas Plaza between State and School streets two blocks south of the courthouse could be moved to the historic heart of downtown, and its current location made available for development.
Court Executive Officer Turner said if the state panel on May 26 moves the courthouse into the design and construction phase, public meetings will be scheduled in Ukiah for review of any state-approved plans.
The state meeting can be accessed beginning at 10 a.m. May 26 via a webcast at jcc.granicus.com/player/event/1732
HOW MENDO IS SPENDING THE COVID RELIEF 17 MIL, two on-line comments:
(1) A portion of that money was given to each county with the intention of compensating the county’s essential workers who are ALSO TAX PAYERS and who kept the county going throughout the pandemic as “Essential Workers.” Every single other county recognized this and with integrity compensated their “Essential workers.” NOT Mendocino County. Mendocino County steals from the employees and steals from the taxpayers and gives to themselves. They remodel a room that they haven’t stepped foot in for over two years. They spend $35,000 for extra security metal detectors at their building when other county employees are working at unsafe locations surrounded by people that are homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted, and violent and carrying weapons. Let’s not forget the murder that just happened in the Social Services parking lot a month ago. The murder suspect had approached and threatened dozens of county employees over the several months he was living in his vehicle in the parking lot.
The BOS thinks nothing of the employees who run this county and PAY taxes in this county. Instead they search for non-issues to allocate the money to because they think county workers are the least deserving residents in this county. They have no problem taking the money from the people by raising taxes and the cost of everything including employees medical insurance but they’re still hiring at minimum wage. What a joke! In-N-Out Burger is literally paying more to their employees than several dozen starting positions at Mendocino County. The union has been taking polls and researching the housing crisis and homelessness among County workers for the past two years. That should give you an idea of how underpaid workers are. They complain about not being able to keep employees but they can’t seem to figure out why. They focus on replacing people but they don’t care about keeping good people.
(2) Agreed absolutely 100%. The other counties gave it to their essential workers. Also made payments to their public. Those other counties did not think about it twice. They didn’t even blink an eye — the checks were cut immediately. Mendocino County needs to have a strategic plan, an outside consultant, several independent audits and 75 Board of Supervisors meetings before they can decide to disburse it. And approval from the interm acting CEO. At that point there will be $1 left squandered away in the typical “administrative cost excuse fashion.” The other counties did not hold on to it, they disbursed it. How much of the PG&;E money has actually made it back out to the community? LOL LOL LOL. More of the same. It hasn’t earned the name Mendoshitshow County for nothing!
PASTOR DAVE KOOYERS: These fantastic theater chairs were the old pews from Country Bible Church, 17831 Haehl St., Boonville CA, 95415.
We are changing to chairs. These are in wonderful condition after years of service. They just don't make quality like this anymore. Call me to make an appointment to come take a look. Or, better still, come visit us this Sunday at 10:30 AM, we are currently studying through the Bible in the book of Ezekiel.
A POSITIVE APPROACH
Michelle Hutchins is the first woman elected as County Superintendent of Schools. Previously, Mendocino County was among the lowest performing counties in California. State funding to develop resources was being passed directly to districts. Three of the 12 districts got most of those resources, contrary to state requirements. Michelle Hutchins brought the county into compliance while improving resources to both large and small schools.
But many Ukiah Unified officials were unhappy with that change. They boycotted the county office's resources. Ukiah's Assistant Superintendent is opposing Michelle in this race. Ukiah's annual budget is about $108 million. The county office's budget is about $24 million for all schools. Still, Ukiah ranks very low for student achievement per the state measurements (academic, attendance, truancy, suspensions, and graduation rates).
Hutchins connected with County agencies like the community college, North Coast Opportunities, and West Company to enhance economic development. She assembled a very competent and diverse staff to provide services and give small districts equal opportunity. She is genuinely passionate about education and innovative in building effective student and staff support structures. Her positive energy is a breath of fresh air.
Hutchins is endorsed by each of her independently elected county school board members, Republican and Democrat alike, which is unprecedented. She is endorsed by a State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond, State Senator Mike McGuire, and Assembly Member Jim Wood. Locally County Supervisors John Haschak (District 3) and Glenn McGourty (District 1) have endorsed her.
I respect that Ms. Hutchins campaigns on her accomplishments and vision, not by attacking her opponent. It speaks for her professionalism and belief in the positive; a great value to influence our children's education.
Two upcoming candidate forums will be held in the next few days. One in Ukiah on Monday, May 9 at 6 PM at Ukiah City Hall streamed live by the Mendocino Voice online news outlet; and another in Willits on Sunday, May 15 from 2 to 5 PM at the Little Lake Grange in Willits.
WOLF TREE TURN will take you from the Willits valley floor to the highest point on our rail line!
During this trip you will pass through Tunnel #2 and descend into the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon – an amazing ecological wonderland, and an excellent opportunity to discover the mighty giants that made Mendocino County famous.
AV EVENTS TODAY
Free Entry to Hendy Woods State Park for local residents
Sun 05 / 08 / 2022 at 7:00 AM
Where: Hendy Woods State Park
AV Grange Pancake And Egg Breakfast
Sun 05 / 08 / 2022 at 8:30 AM
Where: Anderson Valley Grange , 9800 CA-128, Philo, CA 95466
Sueno Latino 5 de Mayo/Mother's Day event
Sun 05 / 08 / 2022 at 1:30 PM
Where: Community Park near the AV Clinic
AV Village Monthly Gathering: Volunteer Reception and "Bring a Friend"
Sun 05 / 08 / 2022 at 4:00 PM
FOR THE PERFECT PITCH OF ANTI-PLANNING, put the City of Ukiah in partnership with the County of Mendocino and we are getting a new County Courthouse three long blocks east of the present County Courthouse which will house only judges and their courtrooms and staff. All the other offices housed in the present County Courthouse will, like, uh, have to make do.
THE SIX or so acres adjacent to the new County Courthouse at the old Ukiah depot are privately owned and will be privately developed to house the DA, the Court Clerk and the rest of offices presently housed in the existing Courthouse, meaning the taxpayers of County of Mendo will be paying top lease-dollar for office space privately owned by one or two most fortunate Ukiah old boys.
THE PRESENT COURTHOUSE? The City of Ukiah's Shannon Riley, as usual speaking for Ukiah's phantom city manager, the perpetually unavailable Sage Sangiacomo, refers vaguely to a tenuous plan to bulldoze the present Courthouse for a park.
THIS IS ALL a very bad deal for both Ukiah and County taxpayers who will be leasing private space for crucial public functions like the DA, in perpetuity. And while the judges are securely housed in their judges-only new eyesore of a building at Perkins and Macdonald's, existing Courthouse personnel like the DA will be bustling up and down the three long blocks from the existing Courthouse to the new one and back again — all day every work day in all kinds of weather and traffic.
ROUNDING out this mother of all planning fiascos, the new Courthouse will rise on land now owned by the chimerical Great Redwood Trail, formerly known as the North Coast Rail Authority but now owned by the Great Redwood Trail, aka the Democratic Party of the Northcoast, with former Congressman Doug Bosco magically the defunct railroad's and imaginary Trail's sole creditor.
STEERING the project on behalf of the judges, the sole beneficiaries of the new Courthouse, is their court manager, Kim Turner, a Marin County woman who is on her way to retirement, and will be long gone before the disastrous consequences of this breathtaking fraud on the people of Mendocino County is realized.
ALL-IN-ALL, typical Mendo, government branch — no planning whatsoever as local officials simply roll over for the State Judicial Council (funded out of the extortionate fines charged every-day citizens) to build a new County Courthouse housing only one local function, judges.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 7, 2022
WILLIAM CARPENTERO, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
LORENZO CRUZ, Ukiah. Under influence.
JONATHAN DELBELLO, Willits. Paraphernalia, resisting, failure to appear, probation revocation.
WESLEY EDWARDS, Redwood Valley. DUI.
GERMAN GALINDO-HERNANDEZ, Nice/Ukiah. DUI.
JOSEPH JEPSON, Laytonville. DUI.
JARED KIDD, Ukiah. Parole violation, probation revocation.
JENNIFER MCLARTY, Windsor/Ukiah. DUI.
DANIEL RAMOS, Susanville/Ukiah. Unspecified offense with prior felony enhancement, bringing controlled substance into jail.
JAIME RIVERA, Stockon/Ukiah. Convicted felon with loaded firearm, undetectable firearm, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, felon-addict with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, community supervision violation, county parole violation.
ALAN WRIGHT, Point Arena. Domestic battery, contempt of court.
DIANE ZACCARIA, Ukiah. Under influence, camping in Ukiah, storing camping paraphernalia, possession of shopping cart, smuggling controlled substance into jail, failure to appear.
The Ukrainian government said “all women, children and elderly people” have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Russian forces have begun to blow up bridges to slow a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast, according to the Ukrainian military.
Kyiv’s mayor is urging citizens to “be aware” and stay inside Sunday into Monday during the period surrounding Russia's annual Victory Day as Western officials warn Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on May 9, allowing him to step up his campaign.
Russia fired cruise missiles at the southern port city of Odesa Saturday, according to the Ukrainian military.
PUFF, PUFF, PASS THE BLAME. HYPOCRITICAL HUMBOLDT HITS CHESA BOUDIN ON DRUGS
by Gil Duran
Just when I thought Chesa Boudin Derangement Syndrome couldn’t get any worse, it began spreading across the state. On Wednesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors decided to take a hit at San Francisco’s much-scapegoated district attorney. Since he gets blamed for every crime in his city, why not start blaming him for crime in other places?
The Humboldt politicians manufactured a publicity stunt that sounded like something right out of The Onion. In a letter delivered to DA Boudin via the press, they blamed San Francisco for the presence of illegal drugs in their foggy forests 300 miles to the north.
“The County of Humboldt refuses to sit idle while this drug pours into our county from the Tenderloin,” read the letter, which claimed that fentanyl dealers from San Francisco are distributing the drug there. “If we cannot reach an acceptable solution, we may consider a legal remedy.”
The letter urged Boudin to support Mayor London Breed’s drug overdose emergency declaration in the Tenderloin. It seems word of the mayor’s decision to end the emergency without explanation and skip off to Europe for 10 days didn’t make it up to Arcata Bay.
I don’t know what they’re smoking up there in Humboldt but … well, actually, I do. Humboldt County has been a world-renowned drug capital for decades. Illegal reefer from the region has long been the gold standard among discerning potheads. How big is the illicit grass industry in Humboldt? So big that, in 1990, the Drug Enforcement Administration invaded Humboldt County, accompanied by National Guardsmen and United States Army soldiers fresh from the 1989 invasion of Panama.
Operation Green Sweep marked the first time that the U.S. government deployed active-duty troops against marijuana growers on American soil. And so it came to pass that military raids eradicated the scourge of cannabis from the land. Yeah, right. The invasion netted 1,200 marijuana plants and tons of growing equipment, but Humboldt growers fought back with violent protests that ended the dubious doobie war five days early.
During my college years in Indiana in the mid-1990s, obtaining a nugget of deep-green, orange-bearded and trichome-encrusted skunk from the so-called “Emerald Triangle“ of Northern California was like finding the Holy Grail in a state reliant mostly on cheap gray brick weed. These legendary psychedelic strains enhanced many young brains and, if you buy into anti-drug propaganda, served as the gateway to harder drugs for generations of Americans.
So, the idea of Humboldt pointing the finger at others is pretty rich. That’s like the pot calling the bud green. Or the blunt calling the roach dope. Or the Cheech calling the Chong stoned. You get the point.
The “Devil’s Lettuce“ is now legal in California, but authorities in Humboldt still struggle to stop illicit and environmentally-destructive marijuana grows. But no matter how many forbidden drug farms they uproot, more spring up. Imagine that. It’s almost as if the Drug War doesn’t work … but I digress.
Like many rural counties nationwide, Humboldt has also struggled to contain rising levels of opioid and methamphetamine addiction. A 2018 New York Times article made the Humboldt redwoods sound like lower Larkin Street.
“The dirty needles can be found scattered among the pine and brush, littering the forest floor around Eureka, a town long celebrated as a gateway to the scenic Redwood Empire,” wrote Jose A. Del Real. “They are the debris of a growing heroin scourge that is gripping the remote community in Northern California.”
The Times reported that heroin addiction had been sweeping rural northern counties.
“In Humboldt County, the opioid death rate is five times higher than the state average,” wrote Del Real. “The problem is exacerbated here in Eureka, the county seat, by a sizable homeless population that is growing amid an extreme lack of affordable housing and a changing, weakened economy that relies heavily on tourism.”
Sounds like San Francisco and Humboldt had much in common back in 2018 – two years before Boudin took office. No wonder the Eureka politicians want to play “puff, puff, pass the blame.” If they would pool their remaining brain cells and think this through, however, they’d see the gaping hole in their anti-Boudin narrative.
While it’s possible that dealers have transported fentanyl from San Francisco to Humboldt, the drug isn’t manufactured here. Most stories about fentanyl busts in The City indicate that the dealers travel here from Oakland to ply their deadly trade. Since most fentanyl gets to this country via Mexican cartels, the drug supply must pass through multiple federal, state, county and city jurisdictions before it gets to Alameda County.
There are plenty of law enforcement agencies fully authorized to interdict drug traffickers between here and Mexico, and plenty of prosecutors ready to indict anyone they arrest. Yet none of them seem able to stop the drugs from flowing to East Bay mules and dealers who transport it to the Tenderloin.
Why does no one blame Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol or the DEA for this unchecked fentanyl distribution? Why isn’t anyone putting the chief prosecutor of conservative Tulare County on blast for its proliferation of cartel meth labs? Surely some of that potent crystal makes its way to Humboldt, which has a serious meth problem. The road from Tulare to Humboldt does not run through San Francisco.
Even if Boudin could magically achieve the fantasy of eradicating the drug trade here, the traffickers would simply head north on the 580 and then take Highway 101. Capitalism always finds a way, and according to Google Maps that’s actually the quickest route to Humboldt.
Oh, I know. Logic and reason don’t matter in this debate. This was a basic PR stunt designed earn free media coverage and bolster the recall campaign against Boudin. We’ll be seeing many more like it over the next few weeks.
In reality, of course, it’s impossible to keep drug cartels from providing supply where the demand for drugs exists. Just ask those hypocritical politicians up in Humboldt County.
(Courtesy, the SF Examiner)
PLEASE MAKE PAYMENT IN FULL
by Doug Holland
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr tosses occasional and minimal scraps to ordinary people, but as US President his real job is to serve the needs and desires of the moneyed class. That's why forgiveness of student loan debt is simply not on Biden's agenda.
I never went to college, so I never had student loans, but I have some second-hand experience with that racket.
Stephanie, my wife, went to college on a scholarship, but she needed loans for grad school, and she made payments on those loans through her 20s, 30s, and 40s. It was an expense we couldn't afford, but she felt (and legally was) obligated, so she paid, and paid, and paid.
She's gone, but I'm here to tell you, student loans are absolutely a criminal enterprise. The victims are barely adults when they sign for the loans. They usually have little grasp of adult finances, and how the payments could impact their lives and budgets in ten, twenty years.
The major difference between student loans and loan-sharking is that the Department of Education won't send someone to break your legs. We appreciated that distinction, but it wasn't much.
And good luck paying the loan for your college degree if you don't get a job in your degreed field — my wife never did. She was an office worker like me, but making loan payments as if she had a much higher income.
Most of Stephanie's payments went toward the interest, and the principle never seemed to go down. She renegotiated the payments twice, a bureaucratic process where they pretended to “help” by reducing the payments thirty bucks a month but adding five years to the term.
Her student debt was a factor in why we had to leave San Francisco — we couldn't afford rent plus her loan payments. It was why our vacations were always weekends and day trips, never two weeks in any far-from-home location. It was why we never bought a house. It was why her wheelchair was manual, not electric. Her student loans bled our budget, and even bankruptcy doesn't dissolve student loan debt, thanks to legislation backed by Senator Joe Biden.
Permanent disability is the only way out of student debt. If you become disabled, so that it's physically impossible for you to hold any job, then your student loan debt will be “forgiven.”
Well, Stephanie got kidney disease, which left her weak, eventually unable to walk, and took giant chunks of her time for dialysis. She couldn't work, so she won the grand prize — the debt for her student loans was canceled. Eventually.
We didn't have a lawyer to navigate the paperwork, so we didn't even know disability was a way out until almost a year after Steph was officially disabled. That year of payments certainly wasn't refunded, but after she'd filed the forms to satisfy the Department of Education that she was unemployable, four months later they “forgave” the debt. We celebrated with pizza and champagne we couldn't afford.
That's not the end of the story, though. There's one last gotcha. Stephanie may have known about this, because she handled the minutia of her student debt, but it was sure a surprise to me:
Even after her student loan debt had been abrogated due to permanent disability, she was still required to file paperwork annually, to re-certify that she was still permanently disabled.
The required annual filing date, to re-establish that Stephanie was still permanently disabled, came while she was in the hospital dying. I was unaware of it until months later, when I slowly and sadly started handling the many assorted legal tasks required after a death. In a stack of Steph's unopened mail was a letter from the US Department of Education, and I wondered what it could be, since her student loan debt had been canceled years earlier — right?
Ripped open the envelope, and imagine my surprise. It was dated two weeks before my wife had died. I burned the letter so this isn't a quote, but the gist of it was,
The deadline for re-certifying that you're still permanently disabled has passed, so your student loan debt has been reinstated. Please make payment in full of [more than the value of Stephanie's estate] immediately.”
Yeah, it wasn't even “resume the damned monthly payments.” The note had come due, and they demanded every dime, at once. The Department of Education is Mr. Potter's Bank from ‘It's a Wonderful Life.’
I wrote the fuckers a letter, barely able to restrain myself from opening with Dear Fuckers, and explained that my wife couldn't re-certify her permanent disability because she was dead.
They sent two more letters threatening to turn the debt over to a collection agency, but I didn't respond. Their third letter, their first acknowledgment of my letter to them, came three months later. Instead of demanding money, they demanded only a certified copy of my wife's death certificate.
Two months after I'd sent that, their next letter said that Stephanie's student loan debt was finally, really and truly canceled, again. It's been almost four years since her death, three years since her debt was “forgiven” the second time, and they haven't yet asked me to re-certify that she's permanently dead, so I guess my wife's student loan debt has finally been cleared. I'm still watching the mail for that next letter, though.
You either pay the money, or become disabled and stay disabled, or die. That's how student loans work. Hell of a racket, ain't it? And it sucks money straight from ordinary people to America's moneyed class, so Joe Biden isn't going to do anything about it.
PG&E'S SUSPICIOUS BILLING
I can’t be the only person this is happening to, so I am writing to see if I’m correct. My PG&E bill leaped 300% over one month. I live in a 1,700-square-foot house without air-conditioning. I have 23 solar panels on my roof, which have been feeding PG&E without recompense for four years. Every light in my house and yard is an LED, and I turn my heat off for half the year. It’s hard not to suspect that PG&E is being allowed to pass off its fines for culpability in the fires to ratepayers. But as a pensioner and Social Security recipient, $1,200 a month is exorbitant just to keep my lights on. Such fees would cripple many people, and I’ve yet to receive any explanation for the rate hike.
HERE IS A 1950S POSTCARD for the "Cattlemen's Cafe, Truxton, Arizona" on Route 66.
This is the only postcard we have ever seen from this small village founded in 1951 along Rt. 66. It was owned by John & Howard Grounds, open 24 hours, and its postcard said: "We Raise Our Own Beef". It is along the long, original Rt. 66 alignment between Seligman and Kingman, AZ between Peach Springs and Hackberry. It is almost a ghost town. The building is gone but the foundation is still visible with the outline of the old circular counter and the round steel bases of some of the bar stools still visible on the floor. https://www.theroute-66.com/truxton.html
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I went thru Blythe (Blight) CA. back in mid-March and needed air in a tire. Went to 3 air stations and all were broken/dismantled. Finally went to a Goodyear tire which took care of me. I asked about the broken air stations around town. Methheads dismantle them for scrap and just for fun. If you have been in Blythe, you know what I mean about that place.
THE NIGHT I MET HUNTER BIDEN
by John Paul Mac Isaac
(On a night in April 2019, John Paul Mac Isaac was working at his store, The Mac Shop in Wilmington, Delaware, when a customer walked in who would upend his life. In his forthcoming book, “American Injustice: My Battle to Expose the Truth,” Isaac will tell his story — and here he describes the moment he met Hunter Biden.)
It was a Friday night, 10 minutes before the shop’s closing time. I was checking out a website about CNC machines and woodworking. I had no intention of working late; I was ready to go out after a long and busy week. But then bright, cool LED headlights bounced off the counter from the front window. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. My vision of leaving the shop quickly faded as the door chime sounded. As was usual for this time of day, I thought: “What kind of person expects quality service right before closing time?”
I struggled not to roll my eyes when in stumbled a man clutching three MacBook Pros. He was about my height, six feet tall, but a little heavier. He wore casual clothing — dark blue and gray. Alcohol fumes preceded him. He slid the three laptops onto the bar counter as he fumbled for a seat.
“I’m glad you’re still open,” he said. “I just came from the cigar bar, and they told me about your shop, but I had to hurry because you close at seven.”
He looked older than me but had a surprisingly high-pitched voice. An air of entitlement radiated off him.
“Great,” I thought. “Another one who thinks the world revolves around them.”
To him I said cordially, “You made it just in time.”
“I need the data recovered off these, but they all have liquid damage and won’t turn on,” he said.
“Well, let’s get you checked in and see what’s going on.” One of the computers had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker covering the Apple logo, but I wasn’t sure at first whom I was talking to. I opened my customer relationship management software (CRM) and asked him for his first name.
“Hunter,” he said.
I then asked him for his last name. He paused and looked at me funny, as if I were from another country and how dare I not know who he was?
“Ah, Biden,” he responded, with a sarcastic edge.
I collected his phone number and email, and fed them into the system. Once the paperwork was started, I paused and remembered that this guy had lost his brother, Beau, about two or three years earlier, and I felt a little bad for him. Maybe the Mac with the sticker belonged to his now-deceased brother, and it would bring closure to have access to those memories trapped inside.
On any other night, especially a Friday — being that I was very single — I would have collected the machines and looked at them the next day. For some reason, maybe misplaced compassion, I decided to check them over then and there. One at a time, I performed a quick inspection of the machines. The 15-inch laptop was a complete write-off. It had extensive liquid damage, and because the drive was soldered to the logic board, data recovery was beyond my capability. (If a Mac can’t power on, you won’t be able to access the drive and get to the data.)
The 13-inch 2015 MacBook Pro was in slightly better shape. It could boot up, but the keyboard was unresponsive. I pulled out an external keyboard and asked for permission to log in.
Hunter started laughing.
“My password is f–ked up. Don’t be offended!” he said, before announcing that it was “analf–k69” or something to that extent. His inebriated condition made it difficult to understand his speech. My eyes widened a bit, and I told him that maybe it would be best if he tried to log in himself.
“Hey, you fixed it!” he stated, slurring slightly. I asked if he had an external keyboard that he could use to get around the failure of his internal keyboard, and he just looked at me blankly.
“Here, you can borrow this one to perform the recovery yourself,” I told him. “That way I don’t have to check it in and bill you. Just bring it back when you’re done.”
It would have been less work for me that way, and again, I felt bad for this guy.
I pulled the blinds and locked the door to avoid any more interruptions, then grabbed an Amstel Light from the fridge and planted myself in front of the recovery Mac.
Here’s where things started to get interesting.
The previous recovered window was open on the left, and I was waiting for the hundreds of files on the original to populate to the right. Scrolling down, I started to see files that didn’t align. I started to individually drag and drop the files to the recovery folder. It took only a few files before I noticed pornography appearing in the right column.
This is a vocational hazard; I’d gotten rather used to it and gave it no mind. I was a little amazed by the sheer quantity though, and by the boldness of leaving porn files on one’s desktop. Again, it was nothing I hadn’t seen before, so I kept dragging and dropping. It generally is well-known what people do on and with their computers. The industry as a whole tries not to think about it — it’s gross. But I was hired to do a job, and I was going to do it.
“Oh s–t,” I thought, pausing. The preview image in the right column was clearly displaying the customer. He was wrapped in a red scarf and wearing what looked like a jock strap. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“How embarrassing!” I thought. “Who on God’s earth would feel comfortable with this lying around on their desktop?”
But I shook it off and continued down the list of files. It didn’t take long before another one appeared, and then another. Hunter, with his salt-and-pepper stubble, stared into the camera attempting to look cool while taking a naked selfie. Gross.
“How many of these does he have?” I wondered. It wasn’t just him alone either. Although it looked like he was having a love affair with himself, there also were photos with women. I decided I’d had enough, that I was no longer going to preview the data. I would just go by the file name and hope for the best. And I tried to work out how to keep a straight face when he returned for the recovery data.
I continued copying files until I got to one titled “income.pdf.” I likely wouldn’t even have noticed it if it hadn’t been tagged with a purple dot. On a Mac, you can apply tags, or color codes, to files as an organizational aid. It seemed odd that someone who clearly had zero organizational skills would bother tagging this one file purple. It was begging to be clicked open. So I did.
It was an email from January 16, 2017, saved as a PDF. At the top were the years 2013, 2014, and 2015. Next to each year was the amount of taxable income earned: $833,000+ in 2013, $847,000+ amended to $1,247,000+ in 2014, $2,478,000+ in 2015. I was blown away. All that money and this asshole couldn’t spring for a backup drive!
I read on. Amounts that I could never even have imagined earning were broken down by the year. Then I read, “Since you couldn’t have lived on $550,000 a year, you ‘borrowed’ some money from RSB in advance of payments.” I was speechless. This guy couldn’t live on more than ten times what I earned every year?
The whole document seemed shady. I saw that a lot of money had exchanged hands, and it didn’t seem like it had been recorded lawfully. But what did I know? Plus, it was none of my business. It wasn’t my job to judge — just to transfer and verify. So I kept transferring data until I hit a rather large file. The file was about half transferred when the screen went blank. Dammit, the battery had run out.
I decided to call it a night and go home to rest my eyes. About a hundred gigabytes were left to go, and I felt confident that I could knock it out the next day. I let the MacBook charge overnight and went home — but not before thoroughly washing my hands.
THE HOMELESS, an on-line comment:
My family supports and works with our local shelters and programs in Yuba-Sutter counties, this is our 12th year. Here are the challenges we have learned:
1. Some have permanent damage to their ability to work or “start a normal life.” Many caused by choices made — fact remains, they need help.
2. NIMBYism - present everywhere, everyone wants a solution, but one that is fast, out of sight and and out of mind - just not reality with the manifold issues.
3. The flow of fentanyl coming over our borders (that is not an anti-immigration comment, it is reality and has nothing to do with immigrants) is accelerating the homeless crisis since it leads to physical, emotional and cognizant damage, and causes a spike in crime.
4. There is no one-size fits all solution, and allocating more money is not the only solution, it needs the compassionate and common-sense support and work of us, the citizens.
Sam, Sam, C’mon Man
When you were confirmed
“Important Precedent” is
How you described Roe.
“Been challenged,” you said.
“On the books for a long time.”
“It’s been reaffirmed.”
But now you call Roe
Always “Egregiously Wrong.”
Flagrant. Glaring. Scandalous.
And this dawned on you
All since your confirmation?
Yeah. Sure. C’mon Man.
— Jim Luther
THE CASE AGAINST SCOTUS
The US Supreme Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy, and is now one of the chief architects of America’s democratic decline.
ROCKIN' THE WALKER
by Paul Modic
In the summer of 2013 my mother fell backward into the bathtub and my sister just happened to be there. In the emergency room they did a CT scan because she had fallen a few times and found the meningioma. She went into Orchard Park rehab for a couple weeks waiting for the CyberKnife surgery where she developed pneumonia, returned to the hospital, and had the operation. From there it was back to Tacoma Lutheran for a month or two of rehab.
It was time to go north to visit her and also to look around for a new place for her to live which didn't have steps, as she had fourteen, but part of my fence had been torn down to clear the way for a new concrete septic tank when the cheap plastic one had failed the year before. My handyman Hugh had assured me he could put the fence and gate back up but we soon realized it was too big of a project for him and the fence guys were all scheduled out for months.
(Earlier that spring he had climbed down into the old yellow one with a jack and a piece of two-by-four to try to push out the massive dent without success. The septic system had failed the winter before just prior to when Allie and I were getting ready to leave for Mexico and we each had to dig a hole at opposite ends of the backyard like the old days. The shit was bubbling up onto the ground but I didn't want to postpone the trip so left it for the caretaker to handle.)
With crops in two counties which needed to be watered it was almost unheard of to go away in the middle of the growing season. I was paralyzed with indecision and wondered if it was time to see my therapist? She quickly gave me an appointment, I laid out the scenario, and she calmly suggested I could find someone to water the plants, somehow get the fence section rebuilt, or wait until I got back.
I hung a blue tarp over the gap by the house for privacy and called the fence guy again, the one who had built it a few years earlier. I left a message with his wife that it was an emergency, my mother was dying, and I had to leave in a few days to visit her. My exaggeration worked and the Gringo boss came down to measure the job, told me how much it would cost, and sent his Mexican crew down to rebuild the gate and the thirty feet of fence.
One of my trimmers agreed to come down from Eureka early to water and I walked her around the gardens. (I should have done it twice with her leading the way the second time as I discovered when I got back that she had missed a hidden patch on the far side of the acre. I found those plants very thirsty but miraculously they had survived with no water in full sun for three weeks.)
A friend recommended her renter and employee for the other watering job as she lived out on the coast where the scene was. I showed her the water system and how much to give each plant. (Eight years later this woman tracks me online, reports me whenever she comes across a word or phrase which doesn't adhere to her standards of political correctness, gets my stories taken down, and must fancy herself a one-woman morality squad. The funny thing about these censorious woke twits is they get to read my story but no one else is allowed to.)
I drove up to Tacoma, visited Sally twice a day in rehab, and in the evenings sat out on her porch, turned on the music in the computer, and smoked a little weed. I wandered around the neighborhood aiming for the nearby views of Puget Sound in the desirable (which must mean no blacks or homeless) North End of Tacoma.
Each morning waking up groggy and worthless I had to drink so much strong coffee to get straight that it became time to stop smoking in order to focus on finding another place for her to live. In the afternoons my sister and I drove around looking for an apartment for rent in her neighborhood which didn't have any steps or maybe just one or two.
Her primary doctor thought she was ready for assisted living and we ran some scenarios by him pointing out how it could work for her to come home. He called our ideas “contrived” but we decided to take her home anyway.
I rigged a plastic handle onto the stone pedestal at the top of her stairs with bungie cords holding it down. She left her lightweight walker collapsed in the bushes at the bottom of the steps, dragged herself up the stairs to the porch holding onto the railing, and grabbed onto the plastic handle. On the porch there was another walker which she used to get over to the front door and when she got into the house she switched to her inside walker. (She needed the walker because she had bad knees. Five or ten years earlier when a knee replacement was recommended she didn't want to do it because she was afraid of the operation and the rehab process.)
She was a familiar sight around her neighborhood and I admired her adaptability, doing what she had to in order to keep moving. A coffeeshop opened down the street and nearly every afternoon she went out for a warm beverage. My sister often met her there but the rest of the time she sat by herself while students stared at their devices, small children ran around, and young professionals stopped in front to pick up their coffees-to-go.
Though she rarely talked to anyone at the nearby tables all the baristas knew her, treated her fondly, and knew what her standard order was, like when she used to go to Starbucks at the shopping district a mile away. (Sometimes when she was going to change up her order the barista would arrive with her standard without being asked and what could she do but accept it?) She rode the bus down to the shopping district as well as to church, poetry group, and the supermarket.
At rehab she became friends with her shower woman and we hired her to come by once a week to do some light housekeeping and laundry. Shannon worked for us for years and Sally was lucky to have her as a friendly companion as well.
Soon after she got back home from rehab we did an oral history project over a few days and I recorded her answers to my questions. While talking about her childhood she volunteered that her family had been nudists when she was growing up, not that they called it that, they just didn't see any need for clothes. But then as she entered her teens and wanted to have friends over they began dressing around the house.
The doctor was wrong and she got to live at home for another five years at her place with the steps and then when she could barely get up them my sister found a nice newly renovated apartment with no steps just a block from the Proctor business district; the farmer's market also set up every Saturday right outside her door.
It kind of amazed me one day when she emailed Noam Chomsky an 85th birthday greeting and he replied a minute or two later. They had been classmates when she was nine at Country Day School in Swarthmore, PA and she had pushed him off a little hill one memorable day when they were playing cowboys and Indians.
Once a year, usually on her birthday, her children and grandchildren came from around the country to visit and celebrate. During one of those gatherings when the music was playing I challenged everyone to go into the middle and bust a dance move. We all did including my mother and I can still see her excited smiling face as she bounded in with her walker to dance a few seconds, happily surrounded by her family.
AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN
by Zofia Stemplowka
My cousin teaches at a primary school in Warsaw. Visiting in April, I asked her what her new Ukrainian students were like. ‘They are all different,’ she said. Some Ukrainian refugees at Polish schools are taught in parallel programmes but others have joined regular classes. National limits on class sizes have been lifted. A Ukrainian school opened last month in central Warsaw. Some children have online lessons with their teachers from Ukraine. Some may not go to school at all. If I had saved my children from being shelled and living in basements, I might also prefer for them to play.
A recent Polish education reform required two separate year cohorts to merge into one. That schools are now also managing to admit Ukrainian students is testament to the incredible efforts of staff, parents and children. Hundreds of teachers have enrolled in evening classes to learn how to teach Polish as a foreign language.
I expected to hear that Polish parents were complaining about the effect on their own children’s education, but no one I spoke to had heard any grievances. As someone observed, competition for healthcare, already in short supply, is going to be a bigger cause of resentment. It’s also unclear how long the offers of spare rooms in small flats will last. Society can’t keep delivering without more government support.
I asked my school-age nephews if they could tell who the Ukrainian pupils were by what they wore. ‘No,’ they said, looking at me as if I were mad. ‘Do people talk about them?’ I asked. ‘At the start, maybe’ – they tried to remember so far into the past.
There was already a Belarussian girl in one class. She helps a newly arrived Ukrainian girl and they chat in Russian. Some Polish children have started using Ukrainian expressions on the football pitch.
My nephew showed me photos of signs in Ukrainian put up round his classroom. Other schools are doing it too. No one said anything about signs in Russian: the assumption seems to be that Ukrainians speak Ukrainian. Everyone in Poland over the age of 43 had to learn Russian at school. My best friend was convinced that since we were learning Russian, children in the Soviet Union were learning Polish. Knowing Russian helps to read Ukrainian.
My nephew could show me photos of his classroom because rules against phones have been relaxed to let students access Google Translate. It’s a natural enough way to communicate for children who will often text instead of talking to one another even when they speak the same language.
Having phones also means that older children can get news of those they left behind. One boy found out his old school in Ukraine had been destroyed on the day he started at school in Poland.
End of primary school exams are coming up and Ukrainian students aren’t exempt from the Polish language and literature tests. The results determine where they will go to high school. Questions will be translated into Ukrainian but answers must be in Polish and demonstrate familiarity with specific texts. There are eight books on this year’s list, fewer than usual because of the pandemic. They are mostly Polish but include A Christmas Carol. Teachers are dismayed by the Polish language requirement. Some Ukrainian children have switched to online learning because of it.
Last summer, a member of my family offered accommodation to a Chechen refugee with two school-age children. The local state school said they could not admit them. The children got a place at a different school. The family has since left Poland.
The school that found no place for them is named after a young Polish war hero who was killed by German soldiers in Warsaw during the Second World War. He was born in Drohobycz – then in Poland, now in Ukraine. When his parents were young, according to his sister, they were not supposed to play with Ukrainian children. The education minister is the patron of a competition for older children from southern Poland, concerning the ‘genocide committed against Poles and against the citizens of the Second Polish Republic of other nationalities ... by Ukrainian nationalists during the Second World War’.
In prewar Lviv, which was then in Poland, some schools taught only in Polish, others only in Ukrainian, and yet others in both languages. Warsaw was 30 per cent Jewish and most Jewish children attended schools where they spoke Polish. Even when children of different backgrounds attended the same schools, however, memoir after memoir recounts that they never visited one another’s homes.
It was still possible, though, to get round the divisions. A friend of mine grew up before the Second World War in a Jewish household in southern Poland, speaking German at home and at school before she left for Scotland in 1939. But her Polish was perfect. She learned it while skiing and skating and running around with the other neighbourhood children.
Warsaw has magnificent playgrounds where children are trusted to climb many metres up in the air and do things adults wouldn’t dare. My daughters played on the see-saws and slides with Ukrainian children. Sometimes they needed encouragement – in Polish, Russian or Ukrainian. I didn’t want to quiz everyone but one of the Ukrainian carers I spoke to, in Russian, said they had only just arrived and were sticking to online learning while they figured out what to do. There was no permanent competition for resources at the playground and plenty of encouragement from the adults. The children got on very well.
MEMO OF THE AIR: ABORTION WITHOUT APOLOGY
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-05-06) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0487
Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help over the years, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided well over an hour of the above 8-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Though I do pay $25 annually for full access to all articles and features, and you can too. As well as go to KNYO.org, click on the big red heart and give what you can. Also email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio this coming Friday night.
Besides All That, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and some other toys. I had one of those doctor kits when I was little. The stethoscope didn’t work, and the edible pills were gone in fifteen seconds and had no effect on me. I had a Captain Mike space helmet with a flat kazoo built into the front, so everything you said sounded like an astronaut; I wore that thing completely out. Long after the kazoo stopped working I was running around shouting space orders in that helmet; I loved it. And, look, give a show of hands of people hit in the face or the ear with a Water Wiggle. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. But they didn’t recall the product after 17 years of 2.5 million sold (!) for knocking kids’ teeth out or strangling them or popping their eardrum by boxing their ear; they recalled them because a single child was drowned by pulling the rubber head off it and jamming the hooked nozzle to get stuck down his own throat. Way to ruin it for everybody, Jimmy. And don’t get me started about Jarts. I never had Jarts, but wherever we lived where any kid on the block had a bow and real arrows, which was everywhere, we always ended up shooting them straight up in the air and then playing chicken about who would run under the eaves of the house first. There were a lot more little kids then than there are now, and after school and on weekends and all summer we ran around and rode bikes all over in unsupervised wild packs left to our own devices and inventive and cruel and fantastic imaginations. It was /Lord of the Flies/ out there.
Spiral stairs being made. 3D printers of the future will spit these things out like robot cake icing blorps. And then just a little farther in the future you won’t need stairs. You’ll be vaporized and scanned, then a perfect copy of you will be 3D-printed on the next floor up, like in Star Trek. Every teleport is suicide. A copy of you goes on, but you're dead.
Daredevil Jimmie Lynch and his Death Dodgers.
And Route 66. Cut the jive on Route 65. Shut the door on Route 64. Slap your knee on Route 63. Toodle-oo on Route 62. Have your fun on Route 61. Now you try. No? Okay: Manic pixie on Route 60. Quit yer cryin' on Route 59. Stand and wait on Route 58. Crank it up to eleven on Route 57...
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
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