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DEEP MARINE LAYER CLOUDS and drizzle toward the coast will give way to some sun this afternoon, accompanied by a cooler onshore breeze. Pacific high pressure remains in control Tuesday with plentiful sunshine, brisk onshore breezes and warm afternoon temperatures inland. A passing front on Wednesday may bring a little light rain near the Oregon border. Cooler air will follow on Thursday, with brisk northerly winds and sunshine to end the week. (NWS)
April 9, 1952 – April 20, 2022
Glynnis Jones was a valuable member of the AV community who “was often in the background, but playing a mighty role,” in Lauren Keating’s words. She suffered a stroke on April 13 and died in hospital one week later, with two of her closest friends holding her hands.
Glynnis and her husband, Rich Ferguson (who died in 2020), retired from their jobs in Sacramento and moved to Boonville in 2002. She soon began volunteering with local organizations, offering them the skills she’d honed from her years in administration, and public policy and planning, as well as the keen artistic eye she developed when getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, with a specialty in graphic design. She joined the board of AVArts in 2011 and of the AV Land Trust in 2012 and remained on them until her death. She also served on the board of the Anderson Valley Elder Home for two years and continued contributing as an active Elder Home volunteer and mailing list manager. She brought her wide range of skills to all three boards and also to Lauren’s Restaurant as “the PR department.” The AV Land Trust’s tribute to Glynnis on its website offers high praise: “She realized that being on a board does not just mean having opinions at meetings—it means putting in a lot of work. And she definitely did.”
Fellow AVArts board member Cathleen Micheaels remembers Glynnis as “organized, thoughtful, always thinking ahead. Not only did she keep our donors list updated, help design/print/post/mail out our special event posters and annual update/newsletter, serve as our media outreach person and our website liaison, but she always was there to help make sure any AVArts event was well organized, well promoted, and successful.”
The 2021–2022 AVArts Arts Scholarships for Graduating Seniors will be awarded in honor of Glynnis, “who not only provided invaluable behind the scenes support to AVArts but was an ardent advocate for the arts in the Anderson Valley schools and community.”
Glynnis grew up in rural upstate New York, but she also had Midwest roots in Minnesota, where she worked as VP of corporate planning for the non-profit Appliance Recycling Centers (1989–2003). In her job as Principal Planner for the Governor’s Rural Development Council in St. Paul, Minnesota, she managed agricultural and natural resource programs with a special focus on preserving family farms and easing the intergenerational transfer of farms. Hence her commitment to the Anderson Valley Land Trust.
Lauren Keating remembers that in 2007 Glynnis generously offered to help out during “a particularly hard time economically for Lauren’s Restaurant,” and for the next dozen years she took on responsibility “for every piece of advertising, display, graphics, mailing list and media outreach.”
Anderson Valley has lost a quiet, unpretentious, extremely hard working and multi-talented community member. Glynnis was exceptionally generous with her time and skills, and her generosity benefitted her many devoted friends, neighbors and co-workers, as well as a wide cross section of the AV community that never knew her or realized her contributions. She will be deeply and dearly missed.
If you would like to honor Glynnis, please consider a donation in her memory to one of the local non-profits she so tirelessly supported.
STEVEN ALAN JACKSON
Steven Alan Jackson was born on April 15, 1955 and passed on April 29, 2022. He was born in Fort Bragg to Kenneth and Gladys Jackson of Mendocino. After graduating from Mendocino High School in 1973, Steve attended College of the Redwoods to pursue a career in business, while also playing on the football team. He finished college at Sacramento State University with a bachelor's degree focusing on Real Estate and Land Use Affairs. Steve moved back to Ukiah and earned a real estate agent's license, being the youngest broker in town at this time.
There he met his future wife Valerie Wilson. They went on to have two sons, Kenneth and Zachary. Steve's sons were his pride and joy. He never hesitated to proudly boast on their accomplishments in sports, school, their careers and personal lives.
As the boys were growing up Steve was very involved with their academics, recreational pursuits and their love of sports, following in his footsteps. Steve refereed many high school football games in the NCS and volunteered his time with the administration of other local sports organizations. He played many years of softball in Ukiah's rec leagues and football with the Ukiah Crushers.
Throughout Steve's life he had a deep passion for spending time in nature; snow and water skiing, hunting, and fishing. Through the pursuit of chasing game, as well as general leisure, he spent cherished time with many friends and family over the years, claiming it as the rewarding aspect of it all.
Steve is survived by his mother Gladys Delsol of Ukiah and sons Kenneth (Melanie) Jackson of Chicago and Zachary Jackson of Santa Cruz. He is also survived by brother Walter (Barbara) Jackson of Boise, Idaho and sister Diane Jackson-Dallas of Ukiah and many nieces and nephews, great and great greats, along with many friends.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at the Ukiah Elks Lodge, 1200 Hastings Rd, Ukiah from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Remembering Rick - Memorial Celebration for Richard Weddle May 20, 2022. 2:00pm - 6:00pm
Caspar Community Center, Caspar
Family & friends are invited to gather together safely to celebrate the life and times of Richard Loren Weddle
May 28, 1943 - July 2, 2021
Live Music & Food will be provided (please bring your own beverages)
In lieu of flowers, consider honoring Rick's memory by donating to your favorite anti-corPirate charity.
Feel free to pass along this invitation to whomever you feel is appropriate.
For more information contact Carie Anne at 831.297.2135
Rest In Power, Rick Weddle!
Letter to the Editor
To the educators, students, parents, and residents of Mendocino County-
My name is Matt LaFever and I have been an educator in Mendocino County, specifically the Ukiah Unified School District for eight years. I've cut my teeth as a teacher at Ukiah High getting to know this community while doing what I could to create a dynamic, thought-provoking space for students.
Nicole Glentzer, through and through, should be at the helm of the Mendocino County Office of Education. She was monumental in Ukiah Unified School District's push to provide as many in-person learning experiences for students during the pandemic, a trauma many students and families are still reeling from.
Nicole and her colleagues worked tirelessly to navigate public health protocols to find room for students, parents, and staff to break the isolation and be in person. This innovative, problem-solving approach led to UUSD's partnership with the City of Ukiah, Ukiah High School's athletic programs, multiple extracurricular activities, and many others.
As an educator, my hope is local leaders commit to rebuilding the trust that was tested in the days of distance learning. This can be done by building robust, in-person, authentic opportunities for students, parents, and the community to reengage with their local schools. I trust Nicole to do it because she has done it for the last two years.
Vote Nicole Glentzer to be the Superintendent of the Mendocino County Office of Education!
Matt LaFever, Teacher at Ukiah High
WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
It’s often said they come in threes, and maybe we only note the coincidence when a third one arrives, often unexpected and always unwanted.
In reality death comes in the millions. But “millions” are statistics, as Joseph Stalin once remarked; a trio is a tragedy. And it feels truly tragic to lose, in a blink, Frank McMichael, Al Brown and Stan Harris.
Frank was perhaps the best known, having done time as a county supervisor and as a longtime voice of restraint and common sense in local politics. My last visit with him came a few weeks ago when we sat in his front yard on West Perkins talking about life, the world, marriage, kids and dogs.
It was as wide-ranging and thoughtful a conversation I’ve ever had in my life. Frank McMichael, having recovered from cancer and barely dodging hospice care five years ago, was alert and lively. His chief burden was caring for his ailing wife, Midge, who slept inside. Who could predict he’d expire before Midge?
We talked about government and history, Frank’s brother’s construction business, growing up poor in Tennessee, and the funny, wide-ranging skills needed, and problems confronted, by police officers. (Frank was once an LA cop.) He was insightful, clear-thinking, articulate, thoughtful and with the ability to instantly recall pertinent facts and information to illuminate parallel trends both historic and current. And 10 days later he was dead.
Al Brown was the jovial guy with the booming laugh who drove an ugly little green car all over town, often erratically, while delivering information, humor and crossword puzzles to Ukiahans in need of a Wall Street Journal, New York Times or Santa Rosa Press-Democrat to start their mornings right.
He was forever in a hustle to complete his route before heading to Friedman’s to clock another eight or so hours, yet Al always had time to pull to the curb and chat when I was on a morning walk. He had a lively sense of humor and a solid blue collar outlook on work and life, and believed most politicians are busy making both work and life more difficult.
And Al sure knew his way around life and work. He told me the last time he took a day off work was sometime back in the ‘90s, and couldn’t foresee when his next work-free day might occur. But the day arrived sooner than expected.
A big, hearty fellow, Al fought cancer on even terms for a long while, but then his hair and weight started disappearing, the voice began cracking and then one day his longtime companion, Jen, and his old delivery route comrade, Denny, were making the rounds, tossing the papers.
And I never saw Al again.
We nicknamed Stan Harris “Mr. Fixit” because he could repair anything and everything, but he was also the king of yard sales, a dog’s best friend and a championship caliber smoker.
Which one is not like the others?
In his twilight years he’d go find, fetch and fix old washers and dryers, working in his driveway so as to not miss chance encounters with passing dogs. Unlike most of Dog’s Best Friends, Stan didn’t bother with biscuits or treats, and instead simply held dogs close while nuzzling them, murmuring who-knows-what into their furry necks.
Whatever it was, my dog loved him like she loved few others, always going out of her way to see if Stan was on his driveway dealing with a broken Kenmore-this or a Maytag-that. Or sitting on his little chair smoking and planning the next yard sale, which he forever claimed he was getting too old to be doing, right up to the next one.
His yard sales were big, with acres of items spread around his corner lot and onto the driveway, many accumulated by his daughter from abandoned storage lockers. His garage, a source of great amusement to me and endless toil to him, contained treasures that would eventually be yard sale bargains. Which meant his own garage was a great big storage locker.
One morning he said to me “Come look here” and led me to the back of his jam-packed garage.
“This lamp?” he asked. “I sold this same lamp right here at a yard sale last summer. I know it’s the same lamp because of these yellow glass balls stacked up like this. Never seen one like it. Sold it, like I said.
“Then my daughter went out, bought a bunch of stuff in a storage unit in Sonoma County and so here’s that same lamp come back again.
“So now you know why I’ll never be able to get this garage cleaned out. I can’t win! It’s enough work selling this stuff once, but when you have to do it over again, well I just got too much stacked against me.”
He laughed, went outside, sat down and fumbled around for a cigarette. As Puppy the dog and I left to resume our walk he called out, “Now you come back soon and see me again, alright?”
Stan obviously wasn’t talking to me.
THE AV HIGH SCHOOL FACILITIES TOUR
by Mark Scaramella
ONLY ONE PERSON SHOWED UP for the big walk-through tour of the High School’s aging building complex on Mountain View Road last Thursday evening. So I got my own personal tour of the facilities and proposed bond-funded work with Superintendent Louise Simson and Architect/Project Manager Don Alameida.
Ms. Simson put a positive spin on the lack of turn out, saying that the lack of interest must mean that nobody has any problems with the project. We weren’t so sure, saying that it might just be lack of public interest in nearly everything these days, or maybe, in the diffuse media of the times, not that many people knew about it.
We knew Mr. Alameida from his fine work as the project manager (but not architect) for the prior bond measure from back in 2010-2011, so he is already familiar with the work to be done this time since much of it is what was left undone from that prior bond — mostly infrastructure upgrades and classroom remodels, plus some safety improvements.
This year’s proposed $13 million bond measure, Measure M, would cover much of the work, and be paid back by Valley property owners over the next 20 years at about $60 per $100k of assessed value per year. As is standard for these kind of borrowed money school projects, by the time the finance people and the banks and inflation all take their cut, less than half of the bond value will be available for actual project work.
Just like ten years ago, there’s not much question that the high school’s aging facilities need major improvements, mainly with water, sewer, electrical systems & lighting, heating/air conditioning, etc. And four classrooms remain to be remodeled from the previous bond which was discontinued about half-way into it because of changes in financial conditions and rates.
The High School’s chemistry lab is so old that it reminded me of the lab I took chemistry classes in in Fresno in 1960. (The experiments my chemistry teacher — he was a biologist, not a chemist — conducted back then frequently went hilariously awry.)
Superintendent Simson said that the list of things to be done is much longer than what they will probably get to, so some prioritization and scheduling will be required, mostly focusing on the basic infrastructure and the classroom remodels.
One difference this time will be that Mr. Alameida will be both the architect and the project manager since the work is mostly an extension of what was already planned for in 2010, saving a nice chunk of overhead. If the Community Services District water and wastewater projects are approved and the state pays for that project with state grants as hoped, the School District won’t have to do as much in that regard. But the timing is so far unclear and Mr. Alameida said he’d certainly keep that in mind as the bond project proceeds.
BY CHANCE, Mr. Alameida happened to also have been the architect for the contractor who built the County’s new, grotesquely overpriced Crisis Residential Treatment house on Orchard Street in Ukiah. Despite the County’s claim that the expensive Sacramento architect, Nacht & Lewis, “designed” the building, it turns out that they only “designed” about 40% of it (despite charging for the “design”), and that was for a modular concept which was later changed to conventional stick-built home construction “to save money.” Alameida ended up finishing the design of what he agreed was nothing more than a $1 million house using Nacht & Lewis’s partial concept work under subcontract to Cupples Construction, adding yet another layer of cost to the project. Alameida, one of the most direct, knowledgeable and sensible building project guys we’ve ever met, said he couldn’t imagine a more expensive way to handle a home-building project, but by the time he was involved, all that was left to do was determining and sizing construction materials and finish work — the actual final design work.
ANOTHER school walk-through is planned for this Thursday at the elementary school at 4:30pm, where less of the Measure M bond-funded work is expected to be done, mainly a proposed “multi-purpose room” if there’s money available after the high school work is complete.
NEED A HIP? GO TO WILLITS
Yes, I would like to answer the question you posed in the last AVA in the Off The Record section and say I would definitely miss the Willits hospital. I got a hip replacement there two years ago, it was a good experience all the way around, and I'll probably be back for the other hip some day. Here in Southern Humboldt we have the choice of going up to Eureka or down to Willits for more complicated health issues/procedures and more of us are starting to choose Willits: it's a new facility, the people working there are nice, and the orthopedic department is nationally known—I've heard that bone doctors from around the country come for Doctor Bowen's work. We're lucky to have the Willits option and though it's fifteen minutes further than Eureka it's worth it.
AFTER A REALLY TOUGH DAY of basic training, the drill sergeant got in the face of the new recruit and screamed, “I’ll bet when you are discharged you will wait for me to die just so you can spit on my grave.” “Not me,” the recruit replied. “”When I get out of the Army, I never want to stand in line again.”
COUNTY NOTES, Miscellany Branch
by Mark Scaramella
2022 District Attorney Filing Stats
January: 452 arrests, 64 felonies. 55 declined for prosecution. 15 returned for further investigation.
February: 479 arrests, 78 felonies. 65 declined. 24 returned for further investigation.
March: 514 arrests, 91 felonies. 46 declined. 46 returned for further investigation.
Summary: Almost 1500 arrests in the first three months of 2022, 233 of which were felonies (about 15%). Or, two or three felony arrests per day. Very few of them go to trial. So far in 2022 there have only been ten jury trials, two of which were murder cases, two for criminal threats, two for DUI, plus one each for reckless evasion, burglary, vandalism, and attempted murder.
Of all the DA’s many statistics — the DA provides far more data than any other County department — the one we find most interesting is the rejection rate. On average, for January through March, the DA has declined to file charges on more than 10% of arrests. But no further explanations are provided.
* * *
REMEMBER THE MINI-UPROAR in the weeks following the Redwood Complex fires in 2017 about the use of warning sirens? At the time, a few experiments with sirens were held in subsequent years and the general impression was that they were not very effective in rural conditions and the idea was tabled — until 2022.
In April, the County issued a Request For Proposals for “Emergency Warning Siren Project Manager Services.” They expect to contract with someone this summer for a possible siren project in Redwood Valley, and maybe other County locations.
“In Phase I of the project, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Services will work in partnership with local fire districts to analyze feasible siren installation locations based on existing infrastructure, population, and acoustical analysis provided through the siren vendor. The partnering fire chief at Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire District will work with the contracted siren supplier (selected through a separate RFP) to establish the number of sirens needed in the district; the number of sirens listed above in this scope of work represent the maximum number which may be installed during this project. Following the feasibility analysis, final purchase, installation and initial tests of the sirens will proceed in Phase II of the project.”
In August of 2020 the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Committee discussed sirens and reported in their minutes:
“Chris said RVCFD has obtained one siren to install for early notification from Calpella to Tomki. In the next 3 months, the board will conduct sound testing. Re sirens: RVCFD has thus far found funding for a first siren with about $60,000 in FD funding. They estimate that about 5 sirens altogether will be needed to cover the valley for emergency notification only, from Calpella up Tomki Rd. and across the valley west to east. FD researched latest technology among local county agencies (Lake, Sonoma, etc.). Additional sirens will likely not cost as much as the original “backbone” siren. FD will be researching future funding sources, including grants. Re. old “noon” siren that used to sound from the FD, but wasn’t used during the 2017 emergency: that was a manually operated siren that needed to be staffed with a live person. During the fire emergency, initially staff were trying to first locate the fires attached to the emergency calls, operate fire apparatus, warn people to evacuate, and save victims and as a largely volunteer force, couldn’t spare anyone to run a siren that wouldn’t even reach beyond the immediate area. Further, effective siren systems need to be rolled out with procedures and training so the public will understand what the sirens mean and how to react; and coordinated with emergency agencies and evacuation plans. So, much work is needed for full future implementation of an Alert and Warning System. Gizmo discussed criteria for EAS system to work.”
In late 2020 Redwood Valley conducted some siren tests via cellphones and radios to see who could hear what. Residents were asked to call the station at 707-485-8121 if they heard the sirens and provide their address to help firefighters determine the range of the equipment. But results of those informal tests were not published. Presumably, they were inconclusive, just as they were when Anderson Valley tried a few warning sirens in 2019. Meanwhile, we understand there are some mobile sirens that may be used by law enforcement, but we have not heard about how they would be deployed.
Given that the County won’t have a consulting project manager selected until this summer, we don’t expect much to happen soon, and certainly not for the 2022 fire season. But it might be interesting to see if anyone can come up with better recommendations than the unimpressive equipment that was previously considered and tested.
Hopefully, something can be arranged before the next big fire hits somewhere in Mendocino County.
THIS AND THAT on a blowsy Mendo Sunday, with this from Byron Spooner: “the biggest joke on mankind is that computers have started asking humans to prove that they aren't a robot.”
THERE'S HYPERBOLE and then there's Lura Vieira, a Fort Bragg school administrator writing in favor of Nicole Glentzer for County Schools chief:
I know Nicole to possess a strong moral compass, impeccable moral character, and to speak truthfully. Nicole has been an educational leader in our county long before she announced her candidacy. I have had the honor of working with her through the Association of California School Administrators in our county, and our region. Nicole always puts students first in everything she does.
I urge you to vote for Nicole Glentzer for Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools. She is a Rock Star Educator and we need her, now more than ever!
“IMPECCABLE MORAL CHARACTER.” Wow. We've got the Mother Theresa of Mendo education going here. But seriously, putting this kind of slavishness in historical perspective, is anyone really surprised that “educators,” from university professors on down to elementary school teachers, made up the largest bloc of WWII German Nazis of all the German professions?
AND THEN there's phony endorsements like this one:
SO I WROTE to the vague ID on this thing asking them for their names, the names of the endorsers and how the endorsers were polled. Silence from the MCOE employees, of course, because this either came from the candidate herself or she approved it.
MEANWHILE, the Russians, or at least the Putin faction of Russians, keep on brandishing their nukes. “Finland wants to join this bloc [NATO], then our goal is absolutely legitimate — to question the existence of this [Russian] state. This is logical. If the United States threatens our state, it's good: here is the Sarmat [Satan-2 missile] for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line. The Finns in general should be grateful to Russia for their statehood, for the fact that Finland exists as a country.”
THERE'S got to be a mighty struggle underway inside the Kremlin for the keys to the nukes, and here's hoping they're wrestled away from Putin. And here's hoping that the Biden Administration, such as it exists with the actual non compos dude himself atop it, will tone down its belligerent rhetoric and exert all pressure to stop hostilities in a peace agreement.
I TRY NOT to wipe out an entire afternoon binge-watching anything, but HBO's The Staircase is irresistable. Here's a guy whose wives one and two were found battered and dead at the foot of staircases in two of Michael Peterson's homes while he was alone with them. The police find that the injuries suffered by wife number two were impossible from the tumbling fall hubbykins claimed, the injuries making it obvious he beat her to death. Peterson, as documented in the first film about him made by a French film team, is insufferable — smug, preening, about half as smart as he thinks he is, and generally as narcissistic a character as you'll find in a country teeming with narcissists. The second wife died the night she found multiple files of photos depicting nude men on the ex-Marine's computer, a few of whom he'd apparently had carnal relations with. As depicted in both the documentary and this wonderful HBO re-creation starring Colin Firth, told wife number two the nudes were “research” for a book he was writing. The effects of all this on his children and friends is, of course, catastrophic, the whole appalling saga wonderfully acted and faithful to the original documentary and the known facts many of us will already have seen.
NOT TO BE TOO BORING on the subject, but as cities and towns up and down Highway 101 enact water conservation measures, construction, especially in Sonoma County, continues as if it were boom time 1950. But here's the insta-town of Windsor approving a 387-unit, $150 million development!
QUESTION: What's the diff between a dude and a bro, or are they the same animal? Have the dude-bros stopped wearing their ball caps backwards?
RURAL LIFE, a comment:
“Chickens aren’t much trouble to care for. Let them out in the morning and feed them (and collect the eggs). They will go into the coop by themselves around dusk. Shut the door to keep out predators.
I had a lot of trouble with predators when I was free-ranging my chickens at my previous house. No problems for the first year, but chickens will eventually attract predators, even if you have none to start with. Your best bet for protecting chickens from predators, aside from a secure chicken coop, is a good dog. If you can obtain such a dog, he/she will also kill all the rabbits that are eating your garden and protect your goats from the coyotes. Unfortunately, few dogs fit this bill. My daughter and son-in-law who live next door had such a dog (part Great Pyr and part Akbash), but he died last summer.
My present dog is a sweet, lovable creature, but he is strangely indifferent to all intruders but the UPS man.
But I have decided to get a gun and learn how to shoot it. I see baby rabbits all over the place. (Not good, if you have a garden.) There is also a neighbor dog that has stolen at least one chicken–as shown by another neighbor’s trail cam–and probably several. I have been told that if you fire a shot or two over his head he won’t come back.
But chickens are scarcely any trouble at all, if you can get control of the predator problem. Ducks are also really delightful–much cuter than chickens, and their eggs are esteemed for baking. And if you want to fuck with people, get a couple of geese. They are the equivalent of junk yard dogs.”
BackRowHeckler: Get yourself a standard Mossberg 500 shotgun. They don’t cost a lot and will last 5 lifetimes. They are modular; many different accessories are available for different applications, i.e., chokes, barrels, different size shot, slugs buckshot. But just out of the box with the 26″ barrel with a ventilated rib and 3 included chokes and a few boxes of #4, 5 or 6 shot will be pretty much all you’ll ever need to deal with any problems that might arise around the homestead.
Woke at 5 this morning to horrific news of a deranged kid infected with racism and his killings in Buffalo.
Before I went to sleep I had been catching up on newspapers to get ready for the Sunday deluge.
In the “Off Duty” section of the weekend WSJ is, under the “Eating and Drinking” headline, a column about the Anderson Valley. It’s said it be the first of three. Delighting in, eh, wine, food, and lodging.
You’ll find it worth annotating, I’m sure.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 15, 2022
YULIAN BARTYANU, Sacramento/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
JAMES BELDEN III, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, suspended license, probation revocation.
LUIS GODINES, Ukiah. DUI, bribing an executive officer, probation revocation.
KEIYARALYNN JOHNSON, Ukiah. Domestic battery, damaging communications device.
JAMES MILLER, Ukiah. False personation of another no license, county parole violation, probation revocation.
MIRANDA MULLINS, Willits. Under influence, failure to apepar, probation revocation.
JONATHAN ORTIZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, under influence, controlled substance, suspended licenses for DUI, probation revocation.
MARK PALLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JACOB SANDERSON, Laytonville. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
MELODY SCROGGINS, Willits. Under influence, paraphernalia, disobeying court order.
SHAWN SMITH, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
"IS NOT NATIONALISM — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary, so fierce it leads to murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking, cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to those in power, deadly for those out of power.”
— Howard Zinn
UKRAINE SUNDAY, MAY 15
NATO's secretary general says Russia's war in Ukraine is not going to plan and that its attempt to capture the eastern Donbas region has "stalled".
Jens Stoltenberg also said Ukraine could win the conflict.
Britain's Ministry of Defense (MoD) estimates Russia has lost about a third of its ground combat force since the war began in February.
The Russian invasion has been hampered by stiff Ukrainian resistance and logistical issues.
Its initial goal appeared to be to sweep across the country and topple the Ukrainian government. Instead, Russia has withdrawn from areas around the capital Kyiv after failing to capture it and since mid-April has been focusing its efforts on two eastern provinces.
In Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv, officials say Russian forces have withdrawn from the border and that residents were returning.
"Russia's war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned," said Mr Stoltenberg.
"They failed to take Kyiv, they are pulling back from around Kharkiv, their major offensive in Donbas has stalled. Russia is not achieving its strategic objectives."
Mr Stoltenberg was speaking at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers.
On top of the military setbacks, another consequence of the invasion is that Russia will likely face an expanded Nato with Sweden and Finland set to join.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin sees NATO as a security threat to Russia and invaded Ukraine in part to stop it joining NATO.
HOW THE LAST PIRATES OF SAUSALITO FOUGHT THE MAN — AND WON
…“No one probably remembers the first person to cobble something together, get it floating and move in,” writer Jeff Costello wrote in his essay “Sausalito Houseboat War,” “but whoever it was inadvertently began what can be called perhaps a great social experiment, the closest thing to a functioning utopian anarchy the country has ever seen. I do not exaggerate here. It was a real anarchy.”…
by Jim Shields
Crime and No Punishment?
Anne Marie Schubert, current Sacramento County District Attorney, formerly a Republican who’s running as an Independent for state Attorney General, is my kind of woman, and definitely my kind of “The People’s Attorney General.”
Schubert says, “Did you know in California, felony domestic violence, drugging and raping an unconscious person, human trafficking of a child, and assault with a deadly weapon are not classified as ‘violent” crimes.’ That means, if a perpetrator commits any of these crimes, they are eligible for early release from prison sentences because they are considered ‘non-violent’ under California law and may serve as little as 1/3 of their sentence! As a career prosecutor, I’ve watched the state Attorney General’s office become politicized by partisans who are more interested in protecting criminals than the millions of women who have been victimized by them. Ballots will start hitting mail boxes in a matter of days. I am the only candidate who, as a career prosecutor, has the credentials, political independence, and support necessary to defeat the partisan and politicized incumbent.”
Schubert launched her candidacy as a rebuke of what she continuously referred to the “chaotic” and “reckless” actions and policies of California politicians.
“Countless victims across this state are being abandoned by the very people we have entrusted to support them and protect them,” Schubert said.
She’s got that right.
Reader’s thoughts in Supreme Court abortion draft decision
Last week’s column on the Supreme Court possibly prepared to strike down Roe v. Wade, generated lots of comments and emails. Here’s a few of them:
“With six Catholics sitting on the Supreme Court, why is it a surprise the court is overturning Roe vs. Wade?” —George Dorner
“You’d think they’d know how to separate Church from State.” — Kirk Vodopals
“The issue of abortion is similar to the issue of black slavery. It involves a wide range of nuances that define rights vs. lives. While I doubt the country will go to war over abortion, this conflict is harder to resolve than slavery, and is one we will be living with. Christianity played a big role in the abolitionist movement and also to defend slavery. While there are churches that oppose abortion, there are also churches that are silent on the subject. We don’t have to worry about abortion debate versions of the Missouri Compromise, or The Fugitive Slave Act. But violence is expected from both side, as we saw in the slavery debate.” —George Hollister
“Jim Shields wrote, ‘Roe v. Wade guarantees abortion rights throughout the U.S. until the fetus is viable, typically between 22 and 24 weeks.’ Complete misstatement of facts. States that allow for late-term abortions with no state-imposed thresholds are Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont. (World Population Review) Fifteen others states allow it if it ‘threatens a mother’s life,’ which in some circumstances is broadly interpreted to mean a mother’s psychological life. Then there was the case of the Chicago physician killing term babies after they were born. Mostly the children of Black women. Thankfully, he went to jail.” —Michael Koepf
More comments from readers
Recent columns and my reports on my weekly radio program on KPFN 105.1 FM triggered a couple of thoughtful notes that I’ll share with you.
“An oncologist I knew quickly corrected me when I once referred to “the Ukraine;” she told me it’s preferable to natives of the country to say “Ukraine.” I believe “the Ukraine” is a way for Russia to identify it more as part of its territory. I hadn’t heard about “Pooty-Poot.” Thanks for that.” —“J”
That’s interesting what your oncologist said to you because she’s absolutely correct. I have degrees in Political Science and History, and combined the two disciplines for a core study in Russian History and Soviet Political Thought. Although I am not an expert in either field, I can tell you that the name “The Ukraine” was coined in the 20th Century when Russia was under Stalinist Soviet rule. The constitution of Ukraine repeatedly refers to the country as “Ukraine.” The people consider “Ukraine” synonomous of its independence from both Russian and Soviet rule.
I have to tell you my wife got a kick out of hearing that Bush II nicknamed Vladdy “Pooty-Poot.” She referred to the then-President as “Bushy Pants.”
Thanks for contacting me, I truly enjoy hearing from people who are current on our ever-change events.
“Thank you so much for your articles in the AVA. Have you ever thought of running for Supervisor? You have great ideas and real world solutions that are so disparately needed here in the County. Especially when it comes to water and water issues. I think you are doing a great job for Laytonville. — “S”
Thank you for all the kind words and support for what I do; it’s truly appreciated.
For many years, folks have urged me to run for Supervisor or state office or Congress.
But I’ve told everybody the same thing: I was in the Labor Movement and our union represented airline employees. At a very young age, in my late 20s, I was fortunate enough to be elected International president of our union, and also be re-elected to several more 4-year terms. My campaigns were nation-wide and also in Canada, since we were an international union. While I loved representing working people, after 16 years as International President, plus four years as a junior officer, I decided that I’d had my fill of all the travel, campaigning, and holding office. To make a long story short, that’s how I ended up here in Mendocino County. It was simply time for a change and to transition into something a little different. I have to admit I never, ever thought I’d end up publishing a newspaper (that my wife and I founded) or managing a rural water district.
I enjoy writing about politics and serving my community in different ways, including working for the Laytonville Water District, serving as chairman of our town council, and being active in county politics.
Thank you so much for contacting me, perhaps we’ll get an opportunity sometime to meet one another.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
TOM ROBBINS’ GRADUATION SPEECH
by Fred Obee
When I was the editor of the newspaper in Oak Harbor nearly 40 years ago, I was given a copy of a commencement address by author Tom Robbins that was delivered to a handful of graduates at the Off Campus School in Oak Harbor on June 7, 1974. The Off Campus School was an alternative for students who previously dropped out of regular high school. Press reports called the program “hotly controversial.”
I tucked the speech away back then and recently found it in my files. I wondered how Robbins came to be on Whidbey Island that night. The Off Campus School commencement was a very small event — graduates numbered just 20. And at the time, Robbins was already well-known. His 1971 book, Another Roadside Attraction, which described the discovery of the mummified body of Jesus Christ at a highway zoo and hot dog stand, was a best seller and his second, Even Cowgirls get the Blues, was in the works. And Oak Harbor was and still is a generally conservative community shaped by the naval air station on its doorstep and the Dutch Reformed Church to which many of its original settlers belonged.
So, Robbins was an unlikely person at an unlikely event, but nonetheless, there he was, in the flesh, talking to graduates who didn’t fit in at regular school. Robbins took to the podium at the Surf and Sands Country Club on that night in 1974 and began:
“I am often asked whether there is life after death. Certainly, there is. There is also death after life, and life before death, and death after life. It goes on forever. There’s no stopping it. You will live forever and die forever. In fact, you already have.”
“As for heaven and hell, they are right here on Earth, and it is up to each of you in which one you choose to reside. To put it simply, heaven is living in your hopes and hell is living in your fears.
“One problem with the notion of Heaven and Hell,” Robbins continued, “is that although they are exact opposites, an astonishing number of people seem to be confused about which is which. For example, all over the United States on this very evening, commencement speakers are standing before audiences not greatly unlike yourselves describing hell as if they were talking about heaven.
“Their speakers are saying things such as, ‘Graduating seniors, you have reached the golden age of maturity; it is time now to go out into the world and take up the challenge of life, time to face your hallowed responsibility.’
“And if that isn’t one hell of a note, it’s certainly one note of hell.
“When I hear the word maturity spoken with such solemn awe, I don’t know whether to laugh or get sick. There circulates a common myth that once one becomes an adult, one suddenly and magically gets it all together. And, if I may use the vernacular, discovers where it’s at. Ha ha. The sad funny truth is adults are nothing but tall children who have forgotten how to play.
“When people tell you to grow up, they mean approximately the same thing they mean when they tell you to shut up. By shut up they mean stop talking. By grow up, they mean stop growing.
“Because as long as you keep growing, you keep changing, and the person who is changing is unpredictable, impossible to pigeonhole and difficult to control. The growing person is not an easy target for those guys in slick suits who want you to turn over your soul to Christ, your heart to America, your butt to Seattle First National Bank and your armpits to the new extra crispy Right Guard.
“No, the growing person is not an ideal consumer, which means, in more realistic terms, he or she is not an easy slave. Worse yet, if he or she continues to grow, grows far enough and long enough, he or she may get too close to the universal mysteries, the nature of which the Navy and the Dutch Reformed Church do not encourage us to ponder. The growing person is an uncomfortable reminder of the greater human potential that each of us might realize if we had the guts.
“So, society wants you to grow up to reach a safe, predictable plateau and root there. To muzzle your throb. To lower the volume on the singing in your blood. Capers all cut, sky finally larked, surprises known: SETTLE DOWN — settle like the sand in the bottom of an hourglass, like a coffin six months in the ground. Act your age, which means act their age, and that has, from the moment they stopped growing, always been old.”
People who graduated from high school in the 1960s and early 1970s remember it as a time of great unrest. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were gunned down. The disaster of the war in Vietnam rolled on and the casualties mounted. Universities exploded in protest. Soldiers opened fire and killed students at Kent State. Cambodia was bombed. Black civil rights marchers were hosed by police and beaten with batons. And as Robbins spoke, the walls were closing in on President Richard Nixon, the fall of Saigon was a year away, and everywhere people grappled with a loss of faith in government and social institutions. And Robbins lashed out.
“Growing up is a trap.
“As for responsibility, I am forced to ask, responsibility to what? To our fellow man? Two weeks ago, the newspapers reported that a federal court had ruled that when a person’s brain stops functioning, that person is legally dead, even though his or her heart may continue to beat. That means that 80% of the population of the Earth is legally dead. Must we be responsible to corpses?
“No, you have no responsibility except to be yourself to the fullest limit of yourself. And to find out who you are. Or perhaps I should say to remember who you are. Because deep down in the secret velvet of your heart, far beyond your name and address, each of you knows who you really are. And that being who is true cannot help but behave graciously to all other beings – because it is all other beings.
“Ah, but we must be responsible, and if we are, then we are rewarded with the white man’s legal equivalent of looting: a steady job, a secure income, easy credit, free access to all the local emporiums and a home of your own to pile the merchandise in. And so what if there is no magic in your life, no wonder, no amazement, no playfulness, no peace of mind, no sense of unity with the universe, no giggling joy, no burning passion, no deep understanding, no overwhelming love? At least your ego has the satisfaction of knowing you are a responsible citizen.
“The only advice I have for you tonight is not to actively resist or fight the system, because active protest and resistance merely entangles you in the system. Instead, ignore it, walk away from it. Turn your backs on it, laugh at it. Don’t be outraged, be outrageous! Never be stupid enough to respect authority unless that authority proves itself respectable.
“So be your own authority, lead yourselves. Learn the ways and means of the ancient yogi masters, pied pipers, cloud walkers and medicine men. Get in harmony with nature. Listen to the loony rhythms of your blood. Look for beauty and poetry in everything in life. Let there be no moon that does not know you, no spring that does not lick you with its tongues. Refuse to play it safe, for it is from the wavering edge of risk that the sweetest honey of freedom drips and drips. Live dangerously, live lovingly. Believe in magic. Nourish your imagination. Use your head, even if it means going out of your mind. Learn, like the lemon and the tomato learned, the laws of the sun. Become aware, like the jungle became aware, of your own perfume. Remember that life is much too serious to take seriously – so never forget how to play. Looking at you tonight, I know you are going to do just fine.”
Today, Robbins lives in La Conner and is nearing 90 years old. I heard he only responds to written letters, so I sent him a copy of the speech and asked him how he came to be in Oak Harbor that night and what he thinks about his speech now. He graciously responded:
“Your epistle has caught up with me (or me with it) in this little clam-cawed outpost where I continue to follow the Charmer’s pipes down oblique paths of well, I’m unsure if there is a fitting name for it. In any case, I’m happy to be here (and Here) and both surprised and cheered to be reminded of the one and only high school commencement address I have ever delivered. I must confess that it pleases me to discover that the speech not only fails to redden my cheeks, but actually provokes a kind of prideful grin.”
Robbins said he was invited to speak at the event by a woman he was romantically involved with at the time who had friends in the graduating class. Robbins added:
“It produces a tiny tingle of pleasure to learn that there may be people who can still recall that event and my contribution to it. (The statute of limitations would protect me, I suppose, from any belated accusations of contribution to the delinquency of minors.)”
I checked Oak Harbor’s newspaper, the Whidbey News-Times, which is preserved on microfilm at the Washington State Library, to see if a reporter covered the commencement address. A very helpful librarian at the state library wheeled through the microfilmed newspaper pages for June 1974 and found a story and a blurry photo of students with Robbins. The story was long on explaining what the Off Campus School was and how its future was threatened, but it was short on the substance of Robbins’ address. Most of the words Tom Robbins spoke that night echoed only in the ears of those 20 graduates – until now.
“Let me wrap this up with a few short questions I am often asked.
1. Will we be eaten by bugs and worms? We ought to be. We have eaten and we ought to be eaten. This is Justice and there is no stopping it. If you have your body burned, starving the earth to glorify a memory, you are asking for trouble. I have no idea what form the trouble might take, but I do know that if you are too good to be eaten by bugs and worms, you are asking for trouble.
2. Does your soul fly out of your body at the moment you die? No. This is a foolish superstition. Your soul is constantly flying out of your body in just the same way that energy is constantly flying out of the sun. At the moment your body dies, the soul stops flying out.
3. Is Jesus coming back? Yes, all the time. And so are you. All souls echo forever throughout the universe.
I hope you have a wonderful trip.”
WHY RUSSIA DOES WHAT IT DOES
By Anthony Beevor
No country is as much a prisoner of its past as Russia. And no leader has become as much a victim of his own obsessive lies as Vladimir Putin. But where did this tragedy for the Russian people as well as Ukraine begin? And why did we not see this coming after the unspeakable brutality of Putin's conduct of war in Chechnya and Syria, deliberately using barrel bombs and nerve gas against civilian populations?
I certainly cannot claim to be one of the very few who had foreseen Putin's reckless gamble of invading Ukraine. I also underestimated the lingering resentment against the West among the majority of largely older Russians who get all their news from Kremlin-controlled media.
Putin is famous for his pronouncement that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geo-political disaster of the 20th Century. This was backed by a widespread conviction in Russia that the Cold War had been lost through a dirty trick after the US under Ronald Reagan deliberately outspent them on armaments.
The consequence of that collapse was war veterans and widows begging in the Metro, after their pensions became worth less than £4 a week.
Mikhail Gorbachev was blamed bitterly, partly because of the rapturous welcome he had received in the West, but also for his wife Raisa's conspicuous spending on their trips. In the Russian Ministry of Defence archives at Podolsk, my researcher and I overheard a conversation between cleaning women viciously welcoming the news that Mrs Gorbachev she had cancer. 'I hope she dies in agony', said one. 'It would serve them right'.
Having been researching my new book, Russia – Revolution And Civil War over the last few years, I should have recognised that the torrent of shameless falsehoods issuing from the Kremlin since well before the invasion of Ukraine in February was hardly new. In fact, the pattern has little changed for more than a century.
The Bolsheviks achieved power in the autumn of 1917, giving birth to the Soviet Union, through calculated deceit – with Vladimir Ilich Lenin encouraging industrial workers to believe that they would run their own factories when he had no intention of allowing them to do so.
The peasants – 'the infantry of the revolution' – were promised the estates of the nobility and the Orthodox church, when, in reality ,all land would belong to the Communist state.
And the soldiers suffering in the trenches of the eastern front were promised peace, when, in truth, Lenin's plan was to turn the 'imperialist war' – as he described the 1914-18 conflict with Germany and its allies – into a civil war, which he described as 'the sharpest form of class struggle'. Lenin believed it was the only way to achieve absolute power yet he avoided any hint of the annihilation to come in his public utterances.
His speeches focused instead on hate-figures – those he could label parasites, such as bankers, factory bosses, war-mongers and landowners. For the time being he avoided attacks on the other categories of people whom the Bolsheviks would later persecute. Lies, lawlessness and chaos in 1917 suited his purposes during the preparation for his seizure of power. He wanted the past to be utterly destroyed to the point that it could never be resurrected.
To the horror of other socialist parties, the Bolshevik 'revolution' revealed itself as an anti-democratic coup d'état, handing power to a new political elite. Leon Trotsky openly scorned liberals with their 'intellectual, pseudo-aristocratic, squeamish attitude toward the people', because they revealed their distrust 'in those dark masses'.
Yet Bolshevik leaders, once they had seized power, had not the slightest intention of placing trust in anyone but themselves, least of all in the 'dark masses', who had blindly bulldozed the opening they needed. On November 7, 1917, following the Bolshevik coup, the great writer and erstwhile friend of Lenin, Maksim Gorky predicted: 'The working class should know that miracles do not occur in real life, that they are to expect hunger, complete disorder in industry, disruption of transport, and protracted bloody anarchy followed by a no less bloody and dire reaction.
This is where the proletariat is being led by its present leader, and it must be understood that Lenin is not an omnipotent magician but a cold-blooded trickster.'
Leaders in the Kremlin developed a total contempt for the opinions or interests of others. They were creating a brave new world which demanded the ultimate sacrifice and were as pitiless towards their own people as they were towards their opponents.
Red Terror was their weapon of choice against 'enemies of the people' to ensure control wherever they lacked support, but also to drive forward their reckless transformation of society without any regard for humanity.
The Bolsheviks brought in execution for a whole range of offences. So-called counter-revolutionary agitators and any bourgeois who avoided compulsory labour could be shot. Flyposting, the non-payment of taxes, breaking the curfew and resisting arrest also attracted death sentences.
The Bolshevik tactic was to claim that proletarian anger was so intense that they could not resist the demands for 'popular justice'. Their secret police, the Cheka, received the right to torture and kill, unhampered by any judicial process.
Lenin's own declaration of civil war could hardly have been clearer: 'War to the death against the rich and their hangers-on, the bourgeois intellectuals.' His dehumanisation of them as lice, fleas, vermin and parasites was tantamount to a call for class genocide. This is the legacy that colours so much of Putin's thinking now.
The Russian civil war – conducted largely between Lenin's Red Army and anti-revolutionary forces – extended right across the Eurasian landmass. From Finland, the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine in the west, it spread all the way to Siberia and Vladivostok in the Far East and down through the Caucasus in the south.
In 1919, after the defeat of Germany, it became an international proxy war, when British, French, American and Japanese forces, backed by detachments from other armies, landed to arm the Whites – the anti-revolutionary side – in the forlorn hope of preventing a Red victory.
The fighting polarised not just the countries of the former Tsarist empire. Its senseless cruelty and destruction, with more than ten million dead, politicised the rest of the world.
The vicious circle of hatred and fear led directly to the Communist-Fascist struggle in many countries, most notably the Spanish Civil War which broke out in 1936. That, too, became a proxy war, with Hitler and Mussolini supporting General Franco's Nationalists while Stalin's Soviet Union armed the Republic's Communist-dominated forces.
Britain, France and the United States, remained on the sidelines ,afraid that Europe would stumble into another war.
We in the West have our own history of political failures – errors which we see repeated today. The French and the British governments persuaded themselves that when it came down to it, nobody in their right mind would want to repeat the horrors of the First World War.
They failed – as we failed two to three generations later with Putin – to understand that Adolf Hitler really wanted a war.
He was furious when Neville Chamberlain gave in at Munich and deprived him of a victorious invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Hitler, just like Putin 83 years later, was not only planning to bring ethnic fellow-speakers back into the Reich. He wanted to crush and enslave those he regarded as their tormentors.
Stalin also famously misread Hitler's intentions, and was completely unprepared when the Wehrmacht invaded Russia in June 1941, tearing up the non aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact) between the two totalitarian states signed in August 1939.
Stalin's disastrous miscalculation had a profoundly traumatic effect on him, which the West in turn under-estimated. It led directly to the Cold War.
Determined to ensure that the Soviet Union should never again be taken by surprise, Stalin used the Red Army's occupation of Central Europe and the Balkans to turn the region into a cordon sanitaire of satellite states as an outer defence ring.
Putin, suffering from a similar atavistic paranoia which goes all the way back to the 13th Century Mongol invasions of Russia, is even more fixated with the idea of a conspiracy to encircle Russia.
The greatest difference between the Soviet Union and Putin's Russia today is the scale of corruption which engulfed the country following the collapse of Communism. The reckless pressure from the US under President Bill Clinton forcing Russia to sell off state-owned enterprises turbo-charged gangster capitalism. This accelerated even more when Putin took over from Boris Yeltsin in 2000 and redistributed corporations and banks among the oligarchs in exchange for massive kickbacks of up to 30 per cent making him the richest man in the world.
Ukraine had also been badly tainted by Soviet corruption under Brezhnev and the scramble for easy pickings from 1991, when it declared its independence from Russia. This was a moment Putin could not forgive.
Putin is not planning to rebuild the Soviet Union as much as he longs to recreate the Tsarist empire. Russia's hunger to dominate its borderlands, with bloodshed if necessary, was already long-established by the time of the revolution.
The great white hall in the Kremlin with the famous long table contains just four statues, all are Tsars. Soviet leaders are strikingly absent. And Putin's billion-dollar palace on the Black Sea coast is decorated throughout with the double-headed eagles of the Romanovs.
Putin became president largely due to Yeltsin's collapse from alcoholism. The chaotic performance in 2008 of the Russian Army in its invasion of Georgia prompted him into doubling the military budget.
Entrenched corruption in arms procurement led to huge waste in this modernisation programme. And little improved in training. Up to 5,000 conscripts committed suicide each year from the old practice of truly vicious hazing. General Aleksandr Lebed used to joke that in Siberia they had to put the new arrivals to work digging enough graves in the late spring ready for the next winter's casualties before the ground froze hard again.
The Russian tendency to confuse brutality with decisiveness clearly encouraged Putin's determination in subsequent conflicts. In the Syrian civil war which followed the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's oppressive regime, Putin's military intervention turned the beautiful and ancient city centre of Aleppo into another killing zone like Grozny, the Chechen capital annihilated by Russian bombing.
And yet almost everyone in the West failed to believe that he would ever repeat such violence on European territory. Once again it was case of applying our logic – that nobody in their right mind would want to return to the destruction and cruelty of the Second World War. Once again, we were wrong.
Angela Merkel had little difficulty in persuading pacifist Germans that surely the safest course was to bind Russia closely to the European economic system. They never realised that the advantages of Russia's cheap, non-nuclear energy in fact made them hostages to fortune.
In an astonishing process of distorted thinking, Putin, the self-appointed scourge of 'Ukrainian nazism', has followed Hitler's playbook even more than that of Stalin. Yet Putin, having said that he was launching his 'special military operation' to rescue Russian speakers from Ukrainian tyranny, has ended up killing thousands of them in the Donbas and especially Mariupol on the Black Sea coast.
This has turned the majority of Russian-speakers into strong supporters of Volodymir Zelensky's government. Putin now casts them, too, as traitors. Meanwhile, the Russian army on Ukrainian territory has reverted to the primitive practices of rape and looting carried out by the Red Army in 1945. Some two million German women, to say nothing of Hungarian, Polish and even Russian and Ukrainian forced labourers, suffered sexual assault and gang rape at the hands of Soviet soldiers at the end of the Second World War.
Both then and now, Russian propaganda denied the crimes, yet implied at the same time that their mission of 'liberation' gave them a moral superiority which permitted such behaviour.
Putin's fixation with the Great Patriotic War, as they call the Second World War, and Soviet victory in 1945 has proved his undoing in Ukraine.
His dash to take Kyiv at the beginning of the war imitated Marshal Zhukov's assault into Berlin using tanks unsupported by infantry in April 1945, which also led to heavy casualties. Yet it is the utterly deluded definition of Ukrainians as 'nazis' which has taken over the Kremlin mindset, along with the idea that it is NATO which is at war with Russia.
This reflects Putin's own conviction that Russia fought the Wehrmacht single-handed, while secretly the western allies wanted to stab the Soviet Union in the back. Ultimately, he has trapped himself in a past that he fails to understand.
Today's equivalent, in his eyes, is the advance of NATO to Russia's borders, now with Finland and Sweden about to join the alliance.
He refuses to acknowledge that it is his own aggressive actions which have achieved that. So, combined with his bitter resentment that the West never showed proper 'respect' – that gangster euphemism for 'fear' – Putin wants to terrify us. And he does, because his own disastrous mistakes have backed him into a corner. He is prepared to use nuclear weapons if Russia faces an existential threat, and by Russia, he means his own regime if it is defeated in Ukraine.
This has created far greater dangers for the world than at any moment since 1945.
(Anthony Beevor is the author of Russia: Revolution And Civil War 1917-1921 published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on May 26. To order a copy, with free UK delivery, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937 before May 29.
THE HOG FARM HIDEAWAY, presented by Shooting Star Events, will make its long-awaited debut at the legendary Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA, June 10-12, 2022. The much-anticipated festival features three nights of performances by one of America’s most well-loved independent bands, The String Cheese Incident, plus a stellar lineup of 30+ bands that includes The Infamous Stringdusters, Galactic, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Keller Williams, Fruition, Pimps of Joytime, Ghost Light w/Nicki Bluhm, and many more.
About The Hog Farm Hideaway: A women-owned and produced three-day, family-friendly music festival featuring three nights of performances by The String Cheese Incident. Held at the iconic Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA, the festival will host an impressive lineup of artists and three stages of music. Patrons will also enjoy interactive art installations, an eclectic assortment of 75 artisan and food vendors, on-site swimming holes along Ten Mile Creek, a bar featuring craft beers, wines and adult libations, a cannabis lounge featuring locally produced products, a kid's zone with entertainment and activities, a silent disco, an activist area where non-profit organizations will showcase their work, a healing sanctuary offering various modalities to restore wellbeing, and more!
About the Black Oak Ranch: Black Oak Ranch provides a majestic and intimate space for the festival experience. Set in beautiful oak woodlands and meadows, the ranch is a perfect location to gather with friends and family. Ten Mile Creek runs through the festival campground with swimming holes for everyone to enjoy. Black Oak Ranch is home to The Hog Farm, one of the oldest, continuously running communes in the United States. The Hog Farm has a long history of producing and participating in iconic music festivals and events.
Event Sponsors include: Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Anywhere Outpost, Shade Shifters, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Revive, 503 Distilling Company, Eel River Brewing Company, Kokomo Winery, Frey Winery, Humboldt Cider, KRSH, KVMR, KMUD, KOZT and more.
Tickets: Festival passes are on sale now at www.hogfarmhideaway.com as well as luxury camping packages. Many ticket tiers are already sold out and a limited number of tickets are still available.
Visit hogfarmhideaway.com for more information.
LIKE, WHY DO PEOPLE, LIKE, LIKE TO SAY, ‘LIKE’ SO MUCH?
Why do people have such a problem with “like”? Is it because it simply won’t go away? In 1992, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a robust defense of the word and the way it carries “a rich emotional nuance,” responding to what had already been a decade of criticism. This did nothing to settle the debate. Linguists agree that usage of the word has increased every year since then, to the point where in one five-minute exchange on Love Island in 2017, the word was uttered 76 times, once every four seconds.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The thin part reminds me, my Dr. is trying to sell me on the idea of 1,500 calories as a day. Says that’s what the original caloric studies indicated was needed to sustain a normal man doing moderately strenuous field work all day. I laugh to myself and let him continue to harbor the illusion that that might be remotely possible for me. Absent the coming food shortages, when who the hell knows what’s possible, I doubt I’ve – or most Americans I know for that matter – subsisted on 1,500 calories a day since I was 3 or 4 years old.
CATCHING UP WITH CRAIG
Am sitting here in front of the now repaired ACER computer at Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California. The individual at Hillside Dental who books appointments has offered to write a letter to another one of their clinics in a nearby town, and attempt to get me a needed second appointment to get the now x-rayed and examined teeth & gums, deep cleaned. Due to a broken tooth, as a result of chomping on a firm granola bar the other evening, I've been informed that my chances are better to get the second appointment in this lifetime. Otherwise, the wait for a second appointment could be months. Apparently, Mendocino county is so bad in terms of quality of life, that getting good professionals to move here is impossible. And yes, this is "wine country".
Meanwhile, am spending the days voluntarily bottom-lining trash & recycling at Building Bridges, because it has to be done. The staff appreciates my doing this, because attempting to coordinate the 55 "guests" who have a bed here would be ridiculous. Amidst the difficulty of living in social limbo in Mendocino county, (and by the way, don't even get me started on the general subject of drugs, vodka, constant marijuana smoking, and the resultant disaster this has had on local mental health), I usually finish my voluntary chore early afternoon, and then proceed to the Ukiah Co-op for the cold salad bar and a healthy beverage. Next is a trip to the Safeway, to stock up on Yerba Mate, fruit juices, and yogurt. And then, I return to Ukiah's homeless shelter, and sleep on and off until the next morning. I sleep as late as possible because I don't have anything to do. DO NOT ADVISE ME TO WRITE A BOOK.
I want you to know that I am identified with the Eternal Witness of the body and the mind, even while the body and mind go through the motions here on earth. The stupidity of American postmodernism is what you get when you mix materialism on steroids with a military industrial complex. Thanks for listening. Good luck!!
😂Craig Louis Stehr
THE LAWYERS WHO ATE CALIFORNIA: Part II
The Activision Case, and the beginning of Tesla. Taking a strategy imported from the Department of Labor, the DFEH launches a series of media-centric cases
by Matt Taibbi
The failure of the federal case against Oracle had wide-ranging repercussions. For one thing, the firm moved its headquarters out of Redwood City to Austin, Texas within months of the judge’s decision. Oracle announced a move in the same week as Tesla, which was destined to be targeted by some of the same lawyers who’d worked the Oracle case. CEO Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal that California regulators had begun behaving like a “monopoly that cannot go bankrupt,” preaching a religion that “regulations are immortal,” while adding the following acid commentary:
If a team has been winning for too long, they do tend to get a little complacent, a little entitled and then they don’t win the championship anymore. California has been winning for too long.
State officials responded to the departures of Oracle, Tesla, and other companies like Hewlett-Packard by claiming that a combination of irrational resistance to the state’s strict COVID-19 laws and a reluctance by coddled white male executives to diversify was causing the exodus.
Eric Mellon, a spokesman for Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, told The Washington Post that California’s success was “not despite our progressive policies, but because of them… These are California’s fundamental values, and we’ll continue creating more jobs than any other state.”
Newsom then nervously insisted there was nothing to worry about. He pointed to a new law offering restaurants and other small businesses more flexibility in expanding outdoor dining — “eat your heart out, Paris,” he quipped — and reassured citizens the Silicon Valley departures were no big deal. “Our best days are in front of us,” the governor said.
“The ironic thing is, he was about six months from becoming a target of all this himself,” laughs one lawyer, referring to a state case that would soon far eclipse Oracle for sheer bile and bitterness.
“There’s ugly,” he added, “and then there’s Activision ugly.”
Way back on February 18th, 2018, Fortune magazine released its annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Game giant Activision Blizzard made the list for the fourth straight year, with a Fortune survey claiming 95 percent of its employees said it was a “fun place to work.” The firm’s PR department giddily noted it also made the “Most Admired” and “Most Innovative” lists the year before. Coupled with $7 billion in revenues, the news sent their share price skyrocketing to an all-time high of $78.25, as executives appeared to have reached gamer nirvana.
That same month, the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) got an anonymous complaint from an employee of Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, alleging “a hostile work environment based on sex.” The letter triggered a chain of events that within three years completely transformed Activision’s reputation. The firm went from “most admired” to shunned as the Freddy Krueger of workplaces, the living symbol of “toxic culture.”
The coup de grace was a lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or DFEH, on July 21, 2021. It described the firm as a hellscape of “frat boy” antics in which male employees regularly came in hungover and blew workdays playing video games and joking about rape while women did all the work. Not merely uncomfortable, the Activision work environment was both deadly and perverse, as laid out in a crucial passage high in the complaint (emphasis mine):
In a particularly tragic example, a female employee committed suicide during a business trip with a male supervisor who had brought butt plugs and lubricant with him on the trip…the deceased female employee may have been suffering from other sexual harassment… male co-workers were alleged to be passing around a picture of the deceased’s vagina…
This filing was followed by a “bombshell” report in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Knew for Years About Sexual-Misconduct Allegations at Videogame Giant.” Expansively citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal piggy-backed on details used by the DFEH, which really did sound shocking. It said the company’s soft-spoken, khaki-clad CEO, Bobby Kotick, had presided over a vast empire of testosterone-driven predation, having failed to inform his board about “alleged rapes,” and “intervened to keep” a male employee accused of harassment. The paper described one executive’s particularly demeaning experience:
She described a party for an Activision development studio she attended with Mr. Kotick around 2007 in which scantily clad women danced on stripper poles.
That the alleged rape from the lede of the Journal piece was reviewed by outside counsel understandably didn’t impress reporters, but the fact that police declined to file charges should have been in any story about what the company did or didn’t “know.” The Journal put “police” up top — “The woman… reported one of the incidents to the police” — but tucked the crucial detail, “No charges were brought,” at the bottom. Most subsequent reports that mentioned Activision in connection with rape left that element out, for instance here, here, here, and elsewhere.
As for the party the Journal wrote about involving “scantily clad women” who “danced on stripper poles”? A performance of Cirque Du Soleil, according to one source who attended the event. When I asked the Journal about that and other issues, they said, “We stand by our fair and accurate reporting on Activision.”
While the Journal was careful to say only that Kotick “knew” about “allegations,” other outlets quickly followed with less equivocal headlines, like GameInformer’s “Report: Bobby Kotick Knew Of Activision Blizzard’s History Of Sexual Misconduct.” In a literal sense, coverage only went from bad to worse. A site for users of role-playing games, RPGFan, even announced it was ceasing all reviews of Activision products, saying of the suit’s claims, “Every bit of this could very well be as bad as it sounds, or quite possibly worse.” The Communications Workers of America — a union that for years had been unsuccessfully attempting to unionize Activision offices — would refer to these press accounts of definite “rampant sexual misconduct“ in letters to politicians demanding broader federal inquiries into potential criminal violations. An aside: I’m all for companies unionizing. But using unproven sexual misconduct allegations to argue for union standing to intervene in Activision court cases seems like a dubious strategy at best, especially given the apparent guidance of certain high-priced PR firms who continually reappeared in the story.
The initial DFEH complaint appeared to have been written specifically for reporters. If you read carefully, it didn’t even allege a connection between a “butt plug” and an employee’s tragic suicide, but the mere mention of this inflammatory and bizarre detail helped fuel the media panic.
As the press reported on the journey of the DFEH allegations through the courts, they over time acquired the character of facts, in a game of media telephone that helped inspire still more legal actions. In September, 2021, the SEC launched a probe into whether or not the firm “properly disclosed allegations.” Next came a shareholder lawsuit that quoted the Journal article, alleging Kotick “didn’t inform the Board of Directors about everything he knew,” again about — allegations. The firm’s share price plunged after each of the filings of the DFEH suit, the publication of the Journal article, and the launch of the SEC probe, and the once-ascendant firm appeared in freefall.
Maybe they deserved it! The video game industry after all is an infamous scourge of justice activists, driven as it historically has been by self-isolating, on-spectrum men raised in fantasy worlds of musclebound swordfighters and buxom warrior princesses. There’s no shortage of documented stories of abuse, leering, and all-out grossness at gamer studios where male employees might outnumber women by a factor of five or even ten to one, to say nothing of the industry’s reputation for Burger King wages and the uncompensated overtime phenomenon called “crunching.” Activision furiously denied the pay equity accusations, insisting women earned $1.01 for every dollar men in the same positions made, but companies have lied before.
Meaning, the worst of the Activision horror tales could have been all or partly true. It’s just that, because of the unique way the DFEH operates — mimicking the strategy of the OFCCP in the Oracle and Google cases — they didn’t have to be. Corporate regulation often begins with an investigation and ends with a devastating headline, but California flipped the script, leading with the endgame in a new approach that appeared designed to “overwhelm companies at the point of allegation,” as one lawyer put it.
“Listen, if you go into any company, particularly in this field, you’re going to find some shit,” one former civil rights regulator explains. “They all want to get off cheap, but most companies are willing to take their medicine. You carrot-and-stick them to get the number up. The carrot is the press release at the end that says they cooperated and moved their policies into the correct century. Most firms will pay a lot for that.”
Stressing he had no personal knowledge of the Activision case, the ex-regulator added: “The difference with the DFEH is, there’s no carrot. Even at settlement, it’s all stick.”
Like the OFCCP before it, the DFEH just five years ago was an agency with traditionally more modest aims, a bane of slumlords and strip club owners that took thousands of calls a year and litigated only in the rarest of cases. In 2017 it received 24,779 complaints and investigated 6,160, out of which it litigated a grand total of 35 cases, for a total return of $12.9 million. The agency then was proud to announce five-figure settlements for a 64-year-old Latina cook told she was too old, a Kit Kat Bar waitress fired for getting pregnant, a woman at a flower farm whose male co-workers were “staring, leering, winking and licking their lips,” and so on.
Then in 2018 the DFEH hired Wipper, who left federal office before the conclusion of the Oracle and Google cases. The “compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women” cited in the OFCCP’s Google case ended up being worth just $527 in back pay per female employee. The DFEH would soon launch another investigation of Google just as the federal case was settling, this time for alleged mistreatment of black female employees. But the signature DFEH case was destined to be Activision.
A DFEH harassment suit against Activision was never supposed to happen. State and federal civil rights agencies typically divide work, to avoid duplicate investigations. By tradition, the agency with the “earliest charge” — in this case the EEOC, which received the initial complaint — leads the probe. As such, the Director of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District office, Rosa Viramontes, entered into a workshare agreement with DFEH Director Kevin Kish on October 2, 2018, under which the EEOC would investigate harassment claims, and the DFEH would investigate discrimination and pay equity issues.
Over the course of years this simple deal — us harassment, you pay equity — was repeatedly memorialized. The EEOC and the DFEH agreed to “coordinate during the investigation,” with the EEOC investigating “the harassment allegations” and the DFEH “taking the lead” on pay and promotion. As late as June 4, 2020, Wipper sent an email to Viramontes. “Rosa,” she wrote. “To confirm our discussion, DFEH is not conducting the investigation of the harassment allegations in this matter… Janette.”
Something soon went awry between California and the feds, however. On August 27, 2020, Wipper wrote to Viramontes asking her “not to inform defendants of the Interagency agreement.” California apparently didn’t want the EEOC to answer company questions about which agency was investigating what.
The EEOC, proceeding under the belief that it was doing the harassment case, wrapped up its investigation nearly a year later, on June 15, 2021. Though generally panned in the press as a massively insufficient wrist-slap, their investigation didn’t acquit Activision Blizzard, either, concluding it “engaged in unlawful practices” by subjecting “certain employees” to “sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, or related retaliation” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The gory details weren’t made public and they agreed to settle with Activision for $18 million, obviously not a huge sum for such a firm. A consent decree was later signed by a Republican-appointed judge named Judge Dale Fischer, who called it “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”
California clearly didn’t agree. The instant the EEOC informed the DFEH it was settling, it became obvious the DFEH had already decided to toss out the workshare agreement and pursue its own case. Wipper now wrote to Viramontes that same day of June 15, 2021, announcing that, sorry, we’re going to investigate harassment after all. Her reasoning, never brought up before, was that California law “provides Californians with much broader legal protections,” including “coverage of interns and contractors,” and “uncapped damages,” among other things.
Actually, the more stringent California harassment laws had come up at least one other time, according to the public record. On June 2, 2020, Wipper wrote to Viramontes saying her agency might look into a “separate claim” under California’s Fair Equity and Housing Act (FEHA), under which “an employer is required to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination.”
Wipper was writing in response to an email the day before from a confused-sounding Viramontes, who must have heard the DFEH was investigating something involving harassment and asked in despair, “What is failure to prevent discrimination?” She added: “We need clearer answers before moving forward.” Wipper wrote in a reassuring tone that the state was merely investigating something not covered by federal law, but not to fret, it wasn’t planning on monetizing the claim. “The DFEH may independently seek non-monetary preventive remedies” under that statute, she said.
A year later, all such niceties were off the table, and soon California was not only telling the EEOC it was going after bigger “remedies,” but also that it planned on trying to block the apparently insufficient federal settlement. “We expect that you agree that California workers should not be deprived of these greater rights,” Wipper wrote, in the summer of 2021.
The state soon after formalized this decision via a series of motions to intervene to block the federal deal, essentially hoping to replace it with its own bigger, badder settlement.
Activision’s latest motion makes clear what the company thinks happened. The firm says it cooperated with the parallel DFEH pay equity and EEOC harassment investigations for two years, in what they believed was a “routine” process that was only upended when the EEOC surprised California by announcing it was ready to settle. “Apparently recognizing that the pay and promotion claims it had agreed to investigate under the Interagency Agreement were unlikely to generate significant media interest or claims value,” the motion reads, “DFEH suddenly changed course and abandoned [California’s Fair Equity and Housing Act’s] mandated procedure in a rush to file suit.”
This furious scramble to block the EEOC followed a pattern of aggressive efforts by the DFEH to elbow out other claimants in other cases. With Riot Games in 2019, it stepped in to block a $10 million class action settlement, then a record, saying the women involved were entitled to more like $400 million in back pay (they were right up to a point, and ultimately settled for $100 million). They also demanded the company hand over the contact information of roughly 100 women who had settled confidentially with Riot over the years, which according to one lawyer would have been interpreted by management as an effort to re-litigate settled claims. In the Activision case, soon after the DFEH sent its “back off” letter to the EEOC, the agency sent a letter to Activision employees, warning them not to get their own lawyers because “it is unnecessary” and “a private attorney would have to file suit in your name.” The agency even told employees to “please let us know if an attorney attempts to solicit your business.”
The wildest example of the DFEH’s zeal for claims came in a still-pending racial discrimination case involving Tesla. In that case, the state agency offered to negotiate with the firm, on an unusual condition. “The DFEH,” they wrote, “is willing to mediate… on the condition that Tesla confirms that no other settlement related to the allegations in DFEH Director’s Complaint… will be reached.” According to Tesla’s lawyers, the DFEH went further:
In subsequent communication, DFEH then mandated a gag order that Tesla not “discuss” or even “contemplate” settlement with the EEOC, or DFEH mediation would proceed the very next day.
It takes gumption for an agency to demand a gag order preventing a corporation from talking to federal investigators, but the DFEH in recent years has not lacked in the stones department. The timeline leading to the filing of the DFEH’s harassment suit shows this. On June 23rd, 2021, the EEOC’s Viramontes confronted Wipper in an email about the workshare dispute, telling Wipper that “the EEOC suspected that DFEH had begun to investigate sexual harassment” in defiance of their agreement.
Viramontes was a little off. According to the just-filed Activision motion, the DFEH hadn’t just begun investigating the company for harassment by the time Viramontes aired her suspicions, it was already finished doing so, or at least claimed as much. Despite having set a date for later that year, in December of 2021, to mediate with Activision, it announced on June 24th, 2021 that it, too, had “completed its investigation” and now had “reason to file a civil complaint…against Activision Blizzard.” It didn’t file a full suit at this time, but submitted a “cause letter” essentially announcing its readiness to go forward without specifying over what. Activision’s new motion describes the tactic, which again, sounds strikingly like the Oracle case:
DFEH’s June 24, 2021 Cause Letter provided no cause, at all. It contained no description of what claims might be at issue (pay, promotion, or otherwise), what alleged unlawful practices had occurred as to what employee or group of employees… The Cause Letter offered “mandatory dispute resolution” with an internal DFEH mediator on either Thursday or Friday, July 1 or 2—seven and eight days, respectively, after the letter was sent… To allow for good-faith mediation, Activision Blizzard sought information from DFEH regarding the claims the agency wished to mediate. DFEH did not provide any such information.
In any case, the end result in the Activision affair was that the firm found itself sued and answering questions in media about butt plugs and suicide before it even knew what it was being accused of. This was pretty far from any mandate to “resolve the dispute without litigation.”
Tesla, the clean energy carmaker run by would-be Twitter conqueror Elon Musk, is also inveigled in a shockingly bloody war with the Golden State.
The company at the end of April claimed DFEH pulled the same stunt Activision complained of, saying the agency investigated, learned another set of lawyers appeared to have a juicier-sounding case than they did, and bigfooted their way into that other claim, going public with explosive allegations seemingly at the last minute without regard for their impact. Echoing other complaints about the use of outside counsel, Tesla said DFEH initially announced that it was investigating racial harassment and other claims, then “‘abruptly abandoned its ‘investigation,’ rushing to file on the back of — and based entirely on — private litigation brought by plaintiffs’ counsel,” who were then brought into the suit.
The Tesla case makes the “butt plug” complaint seem like child’s play. It described the firm’s Fremont plant as “racially segregated” and a “slave ship,” claimed one black employee was told, “You’re eating watermelon, that’s why you’re lazy,” and that employees were subjected to “supervisors directly calling them the n-word throughout the day.” Powerful stuff, and bold, given that, as Tesla has repeatedly pointed out (and the DFEH hasn’t denied), the DFEH filed this complaint “without ever stepping foot in the Fremont facility.”
I reached out to both parties to confirm that the DFEH was alleging white-on-black harassment and to ask why, if that were true, more hadn’t been done. If there were indeed managers directly calling workers the n-word on a “constant” basis at Fremont, it seems like Tesla shouldn’t be waiting to act and the DFEH should be working with the firm to identify those figures immediately.
The DFEH again didn’t respond. The company in response only said the following:
The Fremont factory has a majority-minority workforce and provides the best paying jobs in the automotive industry to over 30,000 Californians.
Over the past five years, the DFEH has been asked on almost 50 occasions by individuals who believe they were discriminated against or harassed to investigate Tesla. On every single occasion, when the DFEH closed an investigation, it did not find misconduct against Tesla.
The DFEH does dispute the idea that they found insufficient reason to investigate on 50 previous occasions. “It is unclear which administrative complaints Tesla refers to, but many resulted in an immediate request for a right to sue,” they wrote, in one court document. I was unable however to find record of previous DFEH actions for this kind of harassment at the Fremont plant.
I was anxious to speak with alleged victims of serious harassment at Tesla. The firm for instance was accused in its suit of running California’s last functioning auto plant in Fremont, home to constant free tours by tourists, like a “plantation” where black employees were directly called the n-word “constantly,” with one man claiming he heard slurs 50-100 times per day. But these allegations are an evidentiary Catch-22. They are so inflammatory that any specifying details, I was told, could not be shared because that would only make retaliation that much easier. This makes sense if you believe Tesla is trying to protect employees who “constantly” use the n-word. It’s possible, I guess, but likely? In the wake of that accusation, Tesla acting as if it’s anxious to get to the bottom of its worst problems can watch such efforts spun the other way.
Overall, with the DFEH’s stress on anecdotal charges upfront, it is “trickier for companies to be super combative with the agency because you have these concrete personal stories that are driving the enforcement action,” said University of California law Professor Jodi Short.
“If you act, it’s bad. If you don’t act, it’s bad. The closer you are to the suit, the tougher the company’s position is,” said one Tesla source. “I can’t stress how new this is. Once we sat down and worked it out. Now it’s war. We learn what issues there supposedly are through news reports. It’s like they want us to be known as ‘The Plantation’ forever.”
Meanwhile, on March 29th of this year, just as Herold was stepping down from the DOL, Wipper was fired from the DFEH without explanation, in “the midst of her success,” as her lawyer put it. On the same day, a judge rejected the DFEH’s attempt to block the EEOC’s settlement with Activision, a decision that enraged social justice activists, who felt the company was getting off cheap. One proverbial “person familiar with the matter,” however, relayed a comment on Wipper’s departure: “When was the last time you heard of a state official being fired?” Another official, Anna Park of the EEOC, told the Washington Post, “You don’t get to double dip,” she said. “That’s the reality of these settlements.”
A Democrat-on-Democrat melee ensued over Wipper’s firing, with the state’s milquetoast JV governor Newsom taking the place of the companies and even villainous names like Scalia as a prime media target. Wipper’s lawyer announced that, like Herold, she was considering a whistleblower claim, essentially accusing the governor of succumbing to pressure from the powerful. “For there to be justice, those with political influence must be forced to play by the same set of laws and rules,” read the statement.
Even worse, a deputy to Wipper resigned — in some cases the resignation was reported as coming on the official’s “last day“ — and on the way out, this deputy released an email strongly suggesting that Newsom and Activision were in cahoots. Newsom, the outgoing deputy wrote, had “repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and next steps in the litigation,” in behavior that “mimicked the interests of Activision’s counsel.” The complaint was strikingly similar to the one made against Scalia at the end of the Oracle case, except the evil corrupt scumlord was now boring old Gavin Newsom, not Anthony Scalia’s son. A spokesperson for Newsom responded by saying, “Claims of interference by our office are categorically false.”
So much for “Eat your heart out, Paris.” The state was devouring itself. And this was only the beginning.