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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, May 28, 2022

Light Rain | Foot Patrol | School Calm | Meet Write-in | Docent Needed | Futbol | Book Sale | Eliza Kelley | Unity Club | Foxglove | Pig Bill | Road Team | Disgruntled Employee | Background Check | Rental Cap | Container Homes | County Notes | Stornetta Trail | Regulate Militia | Police Reports | Homeschooling | Yesterday's Catch | Ukraine | Mendo History | Ban Hillary | Rural Uber | Solar Tax | Mask Trauma | NRA History | Ox Farrier | Childhood's End | SWAT Team | Censoring Joyce | 70s Georgia | Deep Trouble | Train Scams | Milliken Family | Empty Gesture | Vocational Programs | Pro-Life | CEO Grainger | Caspar School | Marco Radio | Bureaucracies | Bam Bam | Gun Lobby

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LIGHT RAIN spreads across northwestern California today with the heaviest precipitation in Del Norte County. Gusty south winds will follow this afternoon as rain slowly tappers off into the evening. Unseasonably cool temperatures are expected through Monday with isolated frost in some inland valleys. Warm weather will return midweek. (NWS)

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Today, Deputies Jose Meza and Christopher King spent time conducting foot patrols at various schools in the Ukiah Valley. Calpella Elementary Students were so excited with their presence and many of them asked the Deputies to sign their yearbooks. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience for our Deputies to be able to interact with the Students and Staff. (Sheriff’s Presser)

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I've been substitute teaching elementary and middle school since February. Today I'm at Fort Bragg Middle School.

Fort Bragg as a community has known gun violence in the past that I won't go into, only to say that the experience of blank terror and wondering who might be next is not unknown. Four years ago, a high school janitor here was arrested after making threat-sounding comments, and police found an arsenal and body armor in his home.

People wonder what it must be like in school these days. Here, it is calm. Purposefully calm. People say hello, look each other in the eye more, smile. I ask for directions to the classroom, four kids step up to give them, not a snark among em.

Of course there is fear and grief. It's all in how you respond, and people are taking care of each other today.

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Our museum needs help. If you would like to sign up to be a substitute docent, call Sandra Nimmons 895-9020. The weekend shifts are covered by regular docents, but there are no backups. The shifts are from 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays. Specifically, a sub is needed for this Sunday the 29th.

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HISTORY LOVERS BOOK SALE at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino Sunday, 10a.m. to 3 p.m! Several items date back to 1876—all eras of history. Lots of local stuff. Don’t miss it.

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Eliza ‘Kelley House’ Kelley, 1909

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Ready or not, its June.

With June comes graduations, promotions, wedding and the installation of officers. Join us on June 2nd at 1:30 in the Fairgrounds Home Arts Building (Library) for the installation of officers for the 2022-2024 term. Our regular meeting will be held before the installation ceremony. We can hear reports from Library, Garden Section, Scholarship committee, Centennial committee and others. Thank you all for all your hard work during these times of trial and loss. We all have been touched by this pandemic, and its not over yet. Masks will be highly recommended, as well as distancing. If we want to share a savory or sweet treat, wrap each seperately and make an ingredients label, highlights on allergens. 

The incoming officers are:

President: MaryAnn Grezenda

Vice Pres.: Val Muchowski & Grace Espinoza

Treasurer: Jean Condon

Secretary: Ellen Fontaine

Our lending Library will remain open on Tuesdays from 1 to 4 and Saturdays from 12:30 to 2:30. Saturdays when the Fairgrounds are rented out for a function, the Library will be closed. See you Thursday, June 2nd at 1:30.

(Miriam Martinez)

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This beauty is a digitalis campanulata (foxglove). The Latin word digitalis means finger and the blossoms of this flower fit the human finger almost perfectly. But the flowers and leaves are highly toxic, and this plant should not be grown in areas frequented by children. @jane_ann_walton

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by Ethan Varian

The California state Senate has approved a bill to promote hunting of wild pigs, a non-native species blamed for widening property damage around farms, vineyards and suburban neighborhoods.

The legislation authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would ease existing regulations and allow unlimited harvests under a $15 annual tag.

"My bill is about controlling destructive, non-native wild pigs, which are endangering sensitive habitats, farms and other animals," Dodd said in a statement. "We must increase opportunities to hunt them so that we may bring their numbers under control."

Feral swine descended from pigs set free by Spanish missionaries and other European colonists as far back as 250 years ago and are now found in 56 of the state's 58 counties.

In addition to their damage to ecology, feral pigs can carry a host of diseases that can be transferred to humans.

Dodd's bill now heads to the state Assembly for a potential vote. To become law, it also would need Gov. Gavin Newsom's signature.

The bill would replace the state's wild pig tag, which costs $15 per kill, with a season-long validation, also for $15, which allows an unlimited number of harvests. The new rules would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

In Sonoma County, Lake Sonoma is the only public land open to pig hunters, specifically bow and arrow and crossbow hunters from November to March.

(The Press Democrat)

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Mendo Baseballers Riding to Game, 1916

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To the Editor-

I would like to provide another side to this topic of Trent James candidacy for Mendocino County Sheriff. 

To be clear, I am not endorsing anyone for the position of Sheriff in Mendocino County as I do not live there anymore. You are free to vote for whom you think is best suited for the position. However, since Trent James has made himself a public figure, I will offer a bit of insight into how he has operated. You can say what you will about the rumors you’ve heard about me, there really is nothing new that can be said that has not already been said of me. There are those who are going to fall into the anti-police crowd who have bought into his anti-police message. This is for the undecided who may view this with an open mind and consideration.

I have watched a few of his videos and his attention seeking is filled with anti-police sentiment. I ask you why he never said a word of this while he was employed if it was so obvious and he was so concerned, not a peep.

Trent worked in Covelo and later was appointed as a resident Deputy for a couple of years. What he does not say is that he got burned out dealing with the people and problems there and demanded to be transferred out, which was granted. In his defense, having worked this and other resident posts, Covelo is by far the most stressful position of the Patrol positions in the County. He continued to rotate into Covelo from the Willits substation and, by and large, did a good job relating to the citizens there. He voiced to me numerous times how trying it was to provide good services there and how it was frustrating.

After a break from the Resident Post position in Covelo, and with continuous attempts by the Sheriffs to recruit and fill this post without success, Trent offered to move back but seemed to make demands on how he would do so. One of his demands was more bonus money for working Covelo.

NOTE: For many years the county has paid a bonus for working the Covelo post which later included some of the other resident posts. These bonuses are a negotiated item between the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Board of Supervisors, which a Sheriff has input on but cannot directly authorize.

These negotiations didn’t go well, as he was demanding an extra $20,000 to work there, but the Sheriff could not authorize this. It was outside the pay allowed under the DSA contract. This is apparently when Trent became disillusioned and command staff from the Willits Police Department started to recruit him. At one point he made an ultimatum to the Sheriff to move him to Covelo, with the extra money, or he would quit and go to WPD.

The Sheriff, unable to comply with the demands said no, so Trent, in true millennial fashion for not receiving his participation trophy, got mad, quit, and was hired by WPD.

All newly hired peace officers are placed on probationary status. As most police departments do, they are the primary agency for traffic enforcement in their jurisdiction. All new police officers are tasked with traffic enforcement. By his own admission, again in true millennial fashion, he deemed this assignment as beneath him. You would think he would have looked at the job duties prior to accepting the job.

What seems to be very clear, as there was no peep from him about any corruption, is that he became a disgruntled employee as he could not follow directions and perform the “menial tasks” of his position, and he was released on probation.

At that time did he mention corruption? Not a peep. He then requested to be re-hired at the Sheriff’s Office. After having proven himself a difficult employee, having an entitled mentality, his request was denied.

ONLY after being turned down for re-hire by the Sheriff’s Office did he become jilted. It was then he started lashing out in his videos. Trent was employed at the entry-level. He had zero access to personnel investigations. His implying “all these things are well documented” with reports on file is a lie. From personal experience, I can assure you they are not all documented. There are things he said of me that were never investigated even after I begged the department to do so. One of these was a rumor that I was involved in the illicit Marijuana business. I requested, in writing, that the Sheriff open an internal affairs case, to investigate me, to clear this issue up as it was completely false. I outlined in this request what would happen if there was no investigation and the rumor grew in the community, that it would damage trust, which is exactly what happened.

I say this only to point out that many of his statements about investigations and reports are false. The accusation is easy, peace officers are used to this. Some of the things in his videos were investigated. Some were from agencies outside the Sheriff’s Office. He has zero access to any of those files. As a command staff member within the Sheriff’s Office, I didn’t even have access to the IA files.

The Sheriff is prohibited from responding to many of his accusations. Under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights, personnel investigations are protected. If an officer has been disciplined it is not a matter of public knowledge. Criminal matters and charges are different. Criminal charges and prosecution are made at the DAs level.

Trent aspires to be Sheriff but doesn’t know any of this. He has absolutely no budget, command, or even supervisory experience. Aside from rumor-mongering in the parking lot with what I would guess are a few frustrated deputies, what are his qualifications? Why did he not bring up these “corruption” issues when he was employed if he was such a stand-up guy?

Is there room to improve law enforcement overall and or leadership in Mendocino County? Absolutely in every agency in the country, this should be the goal. For those of you with open minds, peace officers make mistakes. I am privy to many investigations and disciplines given out in Mendocino County to correct behavior or fire officers for serious violations. With very few exceptions the Law Enforcement Officers, in all agencies within Mendocino County, are professional, dedicated, and self-sacrificing. They are overworked, often berated, and understaffed. True to their profession they don’t throw fits when they don’t get their way. They suck it up, showing up to work day after day, trying to make a difference and they deserve your appreciation.

So vote for whom you think is best suited for the job. But be aware of the character of who you vote for. Being a disgruntled and entitled millennial does not qualify you for the position of Sheriff.

Retired Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Shannon Barney


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Trent James

A READER WRITES: Shannon Barney does a good job punching holes in Trent James’s quixotic quest to lead the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. But Barney gets one thing wrong. James’s application to rejoin the Sheriff’s Office wasn’t turned down. He withdrew it when he learned he would be required to complete the normal background check, including a polygraph examination. If James is as honest and upright as he says he is, why would he object to the background check? Was he afraid he’d be asked about claims he was hanging out at home while on duty? Which ironically is the same issue that he claims lead to one of his targets getting fired. Or was he afraid he’d be asked about his rumored steroid use? In his first video James said how much he loved being a cop but that he was ending his law enforcement career. Which indicates he knew his best chance to stay in law enforcement ended when Mendo insisted on a full background check. What we’re left with is a disgruntled ex-employee out to settle a score with those who he thinks did him wrong.

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by Michelle Blackwell 

An organization called the Mendocino Coast Housing Action Team colloquially called HAT has developed a proposed ordinance for the County that will reduce investment vacation rentals to two percent of housing stock on the coast. According to data provided by HAT, the County has approximately 500 legal vacation rentals. Ninety percent are in the coastal areas and that represents about four percent of the residential housing on the north and south coasts combined.

The ordinance is designed to curtail investment vacation rentals and does not apply to homeowners who live onsite and have legal short-term rentals for supplemental income. Also, it does not apply to residents who rent a room. An investment vacation rental is any vacation rental that is not the primary residence of the owner. That could mean second homes or properties purchased for the sole purpose of running a short-term rental.

HAT is not proposing an immediate cutback. They are proposing that permits expire as current investment rentals are sold. No additional permits will be issued until the 2% cap is reached. This protects existing investors but prevents new vacation rentals or property transfers from one investor to another. The hope is that over time some of the homes that are currently rented out will be returned to housing stock for locals.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde sits on an ad hoc committee with Supervisor Ted Williams that focuses on the housing crisis in the coastal areas of Mendocino County. Gjerde says that he supports presenting the HAT recommendations to the entire Board for review and comment before moving forward with an ordinance. Gjerde sees it as a way to stop the bleeding. He believes vacation rentals inflate housing costs along the coast and that many properties are marketed as vacation rentals to sell to investors.

Travis Scott, executive director of the Mendocino County Tourism Commission said, “MCTC has reviewed the ordinance proposal and they are not taking a position on the matter.

The Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors opposes the ordinance according to President Birdie Wilson-Holmes. The realtors board sent an email to all members and the response was unified in opposition. They met on Thursday, May 19th, and unanimously voted that they oppose a moratorium on vacation rentals without further analysis and amendment to protect property rights. Wilson-Holmes personally believes there is a general consensus among local realtors like herself that this is not the path to more affordable housing. Wilson-Homes supports the addition of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The ADU ordinances were adopted in 2019.

HAT helped get the word out in 2019 about changes to County ordinances that simplified the permitting process for ADUs. According to HAT Coordinator Elizabeth Swenson, they had many inquiries but the cost of adding a second unit is prohibitive in many cases.

In January, HAT released a survey of employers and employees on the North Coast about housing and its impacts on the workforce. Of the 72 employer responses, nearly 100% of respondents favored securing grants and changing policies and zoning to create more workforce housing. Eighty-seven percent felt workforce housing should be local government’s top priority or one of their top 3 areas of focus. At a meeting sponsored by Coast Democrats to discuss hospital and health care issues in February, lack of housing was brought up as a concern for filling empty positions at the hospital, clinics, and other health providers.

According to Swenson, HAT is also advocating for allowing tiny homes on wheels countywide to increase housing. She said that when the State recently changed the rules, HAT contacted the City of Fort Bragg, which has since authorized them. Tiny homes on wheels have not been approved countywide. Supervisor Dan Gjerde says that he would want to ensure that neighbors are protected from noise and other factors before considering a change that allows Tiny Homes on wheels in the County.

(courtesy, Ukiah Daily Journal)

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by Mark Scaramella

In her interview of Sheriff’s write-in candidate Trent James, Ms. Autumn Faber of Albion, a graduate of the hippie school on the Coast, and heretofore unheard from on topics of Mendocino County law enforcement, asked James:

“One of the ongoing issues with Matt K is his absolute refusal to have the financials of the budget audited. I believe he is suing the BOS over it and has called it a ‘witch hunt.’ As Sheriff, will you be committed to transparency with how the department distributes its budget? What can the community expect from you with regards to this? Are you willing to undergo an audit from an independent auditor?”

1. Sheriff Kendall has not “absolutely refused” an audit, nor has he even refused an audit. Not at all. Completely and "absolutely" false. (See below.) Nor is it an “ongoing issue,” except to the imaginative. But he did call it a witch-hunt.

2. Sheriff Kendall has not “sued the BOS” over anything. He asked for a private attorney to explain the law to the Board over matters related to his overtime budget and computer autonomy. The Board refused his request because they didn’t like the attorney he requested. It went to court. Judge Moorman said he could have his own attorney but didn’t specify Mr. Duncan James, sending it back to the Board where it has been stuck for months now.

3. Sheriff Kendall is more “transparent” with his budget than most other County departments (the DA’s pretty good too). Nobody has ever had a budget question go unanswered by the Sheriff. The Sheriff is on budget and has a detailed budget package available for review by anyone who wants it. (Nobody has asked, including Candidate James.)

4. Ms. Faber obviously has no idea what an audit is, what kind of audit she wants, or what she’s asking about.

So how does Candidate James reply?

Rather than correcting Ms. Faber, he quickly agrees, saying that he supports an “immediate” audit, and implying that some budget info is being hidden. Then he says he doesn’t know why the Sheriff sued the BOS. Again, the Sheriff hasn’t refused an audit and he didn’t sue the BOS. He asked for an independent attorney after the CEO (Angelo) tried to take over his computer operations and threatened to send him a bill for routine overtime-related overruns.

We aren't surprised that an uninformed Coast person wouldn’t bother to inform herself about the issues before interviewing the last-minute candidate, but shouldn’t a person who wants to be taken seriously as a candidate for Sheriff at least be cautious and say he doesn’t know much about the budget issue or the legal dispute before jumping on the interviewer’s patently false premise?

As I reported back in May of 2021…

SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS’ SHERIFF’S AUDIT agenda item was a non-starter Tuesday afternoon. After some meandering discussion about budgeting and staffing and other marginally related topics, the Supervisors decided (if you can call it a “decision”) to form an ad hoc committee of Supervisors McGourty and Williams to “look into” setting up a Sheriff’s department workshop someday to get a better understanding of the Sheriff’s budget.

[Update: No such ad hoc was formed, of course, and no workshops have been scheduled and nobody has looked into anything.]

A tiny group of coasties represented by a righteous woman from Gualala who nobody has ever heard of before named Miquette Thompson ran through her pro forma presentation alleging inadquate transparency in and overbudgeting for the Sheriff’s Department. Ms. Thompson said she represented an array of self-alleged racial justice groups headquartered on the Mendocino Coast. None of these vague entities had interviewed the Sheriff who goes out of his way to make himself accessible to anybody who wants to talk with him. 

Sheriff Matt Kendall did his best to contain his umbrage at the implication that his Office needs some kind of independent audit and/or improvements, saying the presentation was ok, but that some of the information in it was “just flat wrong,” adding later that it seemed like a witch hunt, a lack of support for his dedicated deputies, and an end run around him to go directly to the Board of Supervisors by a small group of coastal residents with an anti-law enforcement agenda.

Supervisor Gjerde noted the audit advocates should have at least approached the Sheriff before coming to the Board. Gjerde, a prominent Coast Democrat of long-standing, said he wasn't invited by the Coast Democrats to discuss an audit either. At no time did Ms. Thompson or her unnamed Coastal collaborators offer to actually review the Sheriff’s budget or approach the Sheriff with questions or input.

Although McGourty said he hadn’t heard from any of his First District constituents about the audit or anything else related to the Sheriff, both Williams and McGourty both seemed to think that the Coastal audit advocates somehow represented “the public,” even though neither of them offered any evidence that “the public” wants an audit or even has any questions about the Sheriff’s Office. In fact, as far as we can tell “the public” simply wants the Sheriff to be adequately funded, if not better funded, especially in Covelo. Even Williams agreed that the likely outcome of an audit (whatever it might have entailed) would be that the Sheriff needs more funding, not less.

PS. According to the County’s fancy “budget portal” the Sheriff has spent about $30 million through the end of April [of 2021] against an original $36.1 million budget. But that $30 million represents 83% of the $36.1 with two months to go. Since July through April is 10 months, assuming there are no big one-time expenses coming in before June 30, the Sheriff should be at 10/12ths of $36.1 or about on budget.

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IN HIS SEPARATE INTERVIEW, MendoFever’s Matt LaFever summarized Candidate James’s opinion of Measure B:

“[James] recognized Mendocino County’s Measure B, but characterized its substance as lacking. Despite promises of crisis workers working alongside law enforcement, he remembered when he was working as a deputy requesting the backup of a mental health professional who would then refuse to respond.”

It’s hard to know where the confusion here is. But it definitely does not involve Sheriff Kendall. Measure B never “promised crisis workers working alongside law enforcement.” That was never mentioned, much less promised, although some could argue that it was implied by the general language of the Measure about helping people who don’t already qualify as “severely mentally ill” (aka non-reimburseable).

It’s probably true that while on patrol Mr. James's calls for mental health backup fell on deaf ears. The Mental Health department and their contractor have never seen their jobs as responding to police calls until after the cops have done all the heavy lifting, if then.

It took the Measure B committee years to even discuss the Crisis Van even after having been prodded by then-Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt. Then after they finally recommended that it be funded and the Board finally approved it, it took years for the County to staff the three positions as the Committee and Supervisors paid no attention nor inquired about the delays. Mr. James and his supporters never complained about this embarrassing failure while it was unfolding.

Meanwille Sheriff Kendall had sent his staff to Butte County to train and become familiar with the emergency response protocols they already had in place and set them up for Mendo so they could get going as soon as someone was hired. Kendall also helped recruit the first two positions the County finally filled.

Again, it appears that Candidate James has taken a knee-jerk position without doing any homework on the subject so that he can wrongly fold it into his list of ill-documented complaints about the Sheriff’s department.

If there’s blame to be placed regarding the lack of mental health backup on police calls, it falls directly on the Measure B committee and then-CEO Angelo and her Mental Health Department and Angelo’s captive Board of Supervisors.

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by Justine Frederiksen

One of the best ways to lift your spirits is to watch the sea, and one of the best places by far to watch the Pacific Ocean is the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Luckily for Mendocino County residents, however, there is a place much closer to home where you can find such soaring views: the Point Arena Stornetta National Monument.

Most people likely start their visit to these ruggedly beautiful ocean bluffs near the Point Arena lighthouse, but I suggest starting your walk at the southern entrance, where in a recent visit I found far fewer people and much grander views than at the northern entrance.

The southern trailhead is located behind the Point Arena City Hall (at mile marker 15.94 on Highway 1) where there is a fair amount of parking spaces and toilets available, but no water. The trail begins behind a cow gate, which you are asked to please close behind you, then heads through a fairly standard meadow area with a fair amount of flowers and trees.

Within a quarter mile, though, the scenery changes dramatically as you pass the Point Arena pier, tucked into its cove below, and soon the trail is hugging the bluffs, offering sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean that can easily make you feel as if you’re flying over it.

Of course those views do come with some winds, and heading north up the coast I was bombarded quite a bit with strong winds, so wearing layers is certainly recommended. But having flocks of seagulls to watch flying above, and the water flowing in and out of the dramatic tidepools below, made the winds much more bearable.

The trail at the southern entrance is less flat and even than the trail at the northern entrance, but also far less crowded.

You can walk all the way up the bluffs to the northern entrance – the Mendocino Land Trust lists the length of its Point Arena Stornetta Unit trail as five miles – or turn around whenever you’ve soaked in enough ocean views, which is easy to do on this beautiful trail.

For even more views of the Pacific, and of perhaps even more dramatic ocean bluffs, you can head to the nearby Pelican Bluffs Trail, another Mendocino Land Trust project offering stunning vistas. The parking lot is much smaller, however, and there are no restrooms.

And for views of a completely different kind, head to Bowling Ball Beach, which offers a truly unique, and a bit more adventurous, experience.

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Dear militia members:

Please regulate yourselves some more, particularly your young recruits who punch their grandma's in the face and take selfies with assault rifles. Please regulate these young males who tell us they are going to commit mass murder long before they commit their evil act. Please regulate the cops who show up and wait an hour for the real "good guys with guns" to actually do something (those cops might want to think about a career change). Please regulate your pro-gun governors who say this is a mental health issue but actively resist improving mental health care in their states. And, for those special gun nuts who are pro-life, maybe regulate guns owners as much as women's bodies.

I think it's time that the group who so vehemently stands against the tyrannical assaults on our liberties take a long hard look at how they can defend us from the unwanted negative side effects of such uniquely-American freedoms.

Kirk Vodopals


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On Tuesday, 24, 2022 at 7:59 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident in the 3500 block of Highway 253 in Ukiah.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Communications Center advised the Deputies the involved female was located at a call box on Highway 253.

The Deputies located the 68 year old female on Highway 253 and while talking to her, they observed she had visible injuries to her arm and head.

Deputies learned her ex-boyfriend, Jon Rickel, 49, of Ukiah, had pushed her which caused her to fall and sustain an injury.

Jon Rickel

The Deputies responded to Rickel's residence where they contacted him inside the residence. The Deputies continued their investigation and developed probable cause to believe Rickel caused the injury to the female and that Rickel and the female had been in a dating relationship prior to this incident.

The Deputies arrested Rickel for Felony Domestic Violence Battery and Misdemeanor Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse due to the female's age.

Rickel was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $50,000 bail.



On 05-26-2022 at about 7:50 PM, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received numerous calls about a male subject on the roof of a business in the 200 block of Branscomb Road in Laytonville.

The callers advised the male subject was in possession of a knife, had blood on his body and was asking for help.

Deputies responded to the location and requested Laytonville Fire and Ambulance to stage nearby, in case the male subject needed medical attention.

When Deputies arrived they found James Simmons, 31, of Laytonville being treated by Fire personnel in the back of an ambulance. Simmons advised he had been assaulted prior to getting on the roof but did not want anyone prosecuted.

James Simmons

Deputies confirmed Simmons had a Felony no bail warrant for his arrest. Simmons was arrested after being treated by medical personnel .

Simmons was arrested and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no bail status.

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One of the worst features of the public schools is herding hundreds or even thousands of kids into one place. Another is segregating them by age. As a result, they virtually have no adult influence, since the adults in schools act primarily as police, with no personal relationship with the kids. So the kids bond entirely with each other and get their worldview and values from each other: the immature leading the immature. 

Contrast that setting with homeschooling within an extended family–which is something I’ve seen firsthand, since it’s fairly common around here. The kid grows up being taught by people with a genuine connection with him/her and engaged in learning real skills. I’ve known people who say they learned math from using a roofing square–which is beyond me. I’m told that a roofing square is kind of a crude slide rule.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 27, 2022

Bairrine, Carpona, Giacoletto

TIFFANY BAIRRINE-HART, Delray Beach, Florida/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

BAYRON CARPONA-PANCHECO, Los Angeles/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

GAVIN GIACOLETTO, Clearlake/Ukiah. Getting credit with someone else’s ID.

Hernandez, Herrera, Maingi

VINCENT HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, more than six pot plants, probation revocation.

TRENTON HERRERA, Willits. Reckless driving, probation revocation.

SCOTT MAINGI, Ukiah. Controlled substance.

McCormick, Pence, Simmons

RICHARD MCCORMICK JR., Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JOSHUA PENCE, Willits. Resisting.

JAMES SIMMONS, Laytonville. Parole violation.

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Firemen extinguished a fire at a gypsum manufacturing plant after shelling in the city of Bakhmut, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, on Friday. Russia pressed on with a deadly offensive to capture key points in the Donbas this week.

Russian forces appeared to have taken control of the strategic railway hub of Lyman in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. The area remains under constant bombardment in a grinding fight. The geography of the Donbas makes the war there an artillery battle, and Ukrainian soldiers say they are outgunned by Russia's heavy weaponry. The Biden administration has sent Ukraine dozens of howitzers, but Ukrainian military officials say Russia is targeting the weapons as they appeal for more Western-supplied weaponry.

The United Nations human rights office recorded 8,766 civilian casualties in Ukraine as a result of Russia's war. That includes 4,031 people killed, including 261 children, and 4,735 people injured, including 406 children. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights noted it believes actual figures are "considerably higher."

A previously Russia-aligned Orthodox church in Ukraine has split from Moscow. The church, backed by Russia, has now announced its "independence and autonomy" and publicly stated its disagreement with Russia's Patriarch Kirill over his support for the Kremlin's offensive in Ukraine. The Ukraine outpost of the Russian Orthodox Church has been a key ally for Moscow's religious leaders, in a country that's home to notable monasteries and other holy sites. It's been in a tricky position since the war began.

Russia paid off the latest batch of foreign-currency debt coupons as economists warn the country remains on the verge of a debt crisis. So far, the country has avoided defaulting, but could face an unusual economic crisis prompted by geopolitics rather than financial shortfall. That's because the U.S. Treasury Department has ended a waiver that had allowed U.S. banks and investors to receive Russian government debt payments.


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Trial testimony reveals Hillary Clinton personally approved serious election misinformation. Is there an anti-Trump exception to content moderation?

by Matt Taibbi

Last week, in the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis asked ex-campaign manager Robby Mook about the decision to share with a reporter a bogus story about Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank. Mook answered by giving up his onetime boss. “I discussed it with Hillary,” he said, describing his pitch to the candidate: “Hey, you know, we have this, and we want to share it with a reporter… She agreed to that.”

In a country with a functioning media system, this would have been a huge story. Obviously this isn’t Watergate, Hillary Clinton was never president, and Sussmann’s trial doesn’t equate to prosecutions of people like Chuck Colson or Gordon Liddy. But as we’ve slowly been learning for years, a massive fraud was perpetrated on the public with Russiagate, and Mook’s testimony added a substantial piece of the picture, implicating one of the country’s most prominent politicians in one of the more ambitious disinformation campaigns we’ve seen.

There are two reasons the Clinton story isn’t a bigger one in the public consciousness. One is admitting the enormity of what took place would require system-wide admissions by the FBI, the CIA, and, as Matt Orfalea’s damning video above shows, virtually every major news media organization in America.

More importantly, there’s no term for the offense Democrats committed in 2016, though it was similar to Watergate. Instead of a “third-rate burglary” and a bug, Democrats sent schlock research to the FBI, who in turn lied to the secret FISA court and obtained “legal” surveillance authority over former Trump aide Carter Page (which opened doors to searches of everyone connected to Page). Worse, instead of petty “ratfucking” like Donald Segretti’s “Canuck letter,” the Clinton campaign created and fueled a successful, years-long campaign of official harassment and media fraud. They innovated an extraordinary trick, using government connections and press to generate real criminal and counterintelligence investigations of political enemies, mostly all based on what we now know to be self-generated nonsense.

The Clintons, and especially Hillary, have been baselessly accused of all sorts of things in the past, the murder of Vince Foster being just one example. The “vast right-wing conspiracy” was so successful that the Clintons ended up aligning with and helping fund its chief architect, David Brock, ahead of the 2016 cycle. Along with Perkins Coie and the research agency Fusion-GPS, headed by former Wall Street Journal reporter and current self-admiring sleaze-merchant Glenn Simpson, they engineered three long years of phony “collusion” headlines. No matter what papers like the Washington Post try to argue this week, this was an enormous scandal.

The world has mostly moved on, since Russiagate was thirty or forty “current things” ago, but the public prosecution of the collusion theory was a daily preoccupation of national media for years. A substantial portion of the population believed the accusations, and expected the story would end with Donald Trump in jail or at least indicted, scrolling for a thousand straight days in desperate expectation of the promised justice. Trump was bounced for Twitter for incitement, but Twitter has a policy against misinformation as well. It includes a prohibition against “misleading” media that is “likely to result in widespread confusion on public issues.”

I’m not a fan of throwing people off Twitter, but how can knowingly launching thousands of bogus news stories across a period of years, leading millions of people to believe lies and expect news that never arrived, not qualify as causing “widespread confusion on public issues”?

Let’s travel back in time to the first months of 2017, when “Russiagate” became the dominant news story in the world. Full panic arrived on the wings of a series of blockbuster events. One was the release of an Intelligence Assessment by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on January 6, 2017, which concluded Russia ordered an “influence campaign” with a “clear preference” for Trump. Days later, there was an “absolute bombshell” of a leak reported in CNN, about four intelligence chiefs — Clapper, CIA head John Brennan, FBI chief James Comey, and the NSA’s Mike Rogers — who supposedly presented president-elect Trump with “claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.”

Instantly, much of America was in a fever of speculation over the suddenly plausible-sounding possibility that the incoming president was a real-world “Manchurian Candidate” under Russia’s control. That phrase would be used by the Washington Post, New York Times, Vanity Fair, Salon, Daily News and countless others:

The impact on the population of these and other stories was awesome, defining the Trump presidency before it began. An Economist/YouGov poll from late December, 2016, in other words even before Russiagate even came to a full news boil, showed an astonishing 50% of Clinton voters believed Russia had “tampered with vote tallies.” This is one of many interesting pieces of news only discoverable on the WayBack Machine now.

Americans saw Russiagate as a two-tiered story. Tier one was the notion that Russia “hacked the election,” by leaking Democratic Party emails and through schemes like buying Facebook ads. This assertion remains more or less unquestioned, even though it probably shouldn’t be, as multiple key pieces of evidence now look dubious at best, from the suspect conclusions of auditor Crowdstrike about the hack of the DNC to the dicey reliability of a human source in Russia who may have led Brennan to conclude over other analyst objections that Russian “interference” was done on Trump’s behalf. However, that’s a subject for another time.

Tier two was the idea that Trump aided Russia’s “election hacking,” as the New York Times tabbed it unequivocally at the time. We now know the initial public accusations that Trump “colluded” came more or less entirely from the Clinton campaign, based on information that was not just unreliable but fraudulent.

Primarily, this was disseminated to the public via two disinformation streams. The first was the dossier generated by former spy Christopher Steele, on behalf of Simpson’s Fusion-GPS.

The public campaign began with a Yahoo! report, based on Steele’s reports, describing Carter Page as a “possible back channel” brokering “significant and disturbing ties” between Trump and the Kremlin. Later, there was the aforementioned Intelligence Assessment, which contained a classified annex referring to Steele’s claims about Russia having “compromising material” on Trump. Those would-be explosive secret Steele claims — hinted at in an October 31, 2016 Mother Jones story that failed to have wide impact — finally came out in technicolor thanks to that bombshell CNN story from early January 2017, featuring Watergate legend Carl Bernstein on the byline, about the four intelligence chiefs delivering the Steele material to Trump.

That CNN story, which told America via anonymous sources there had been a “continuing exchange of information” between “Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government,” quickly led to Buzzfeed’s publication of the whole Steele enchilada. Once out, those Steele reports sent reporters on years of wild goose chases, inspiring prolonged journo-hunts for everything from the pee tape to evidence of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen meeting with Russian hackers in Prague.

The second source of early collusion claims was the preposterous Alfa Bank story. This drama is almost too dumb to recap, but the gist is Clinton’s lawyer Sussmann worked with academics who’d improperly accessed non-public data from a federal contract to build a case that a “Trump server” was communicating with a Russian bank, in what the New York Times later described as a “mysterious computer back channel.” The problem was, it was all hooey. According to Sussmann’s indictment, researchers worried they “couldn’t make any claims that would fly public scrutiny,” with one complaining: “The only thing that drives us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]… Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision. Time to regroup?”

No such luck: instead of regrouping, the campaign boldly submitted the nonsense to the FBI, along with a white paper by Fusion-GPS, before leaking this bilge to the media with, we now learn, the explicit approval of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The idea that Trump was communicating in a super-secret way via inscrutable beeps and bops with a Russian bank was so stupid that multiple normally dependable anti-Trump outlets, including the Times and a few writers at the Washington Post, were unable to find a way to take the claims seriously.

However, as the above video shows, there were plenty of big media fish that still bit on this most ridiculous of hooks. Rachel Maddow, in keeping with her pattern through this period, was the most extravagant offender, making the inadvertently revealing statement about the Alfa tale that “This could be the missing link” proving collusion, the long-sought “Holy Grail” of proof. She is also seen telling New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins, one of the primary press marks (along with Slate’s Franklin Foer) trusted by the campaign to be dumb enough to shepherd this absurd story into print, “We are blessed as a country to have journalists as talented as you and Franklin Foer writing about this.”

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle was still more deranged, declaring that Alfa’s “server was found in Trump Tower… give me a break,” as if a Russian server was literally discovered in Trump’s bedroom. Deep state spokesmodel Natasha Bertrand yuks, “What more evidence do you need?” We also see Evelyn Farkas, who at one time served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia under Barack Obama, muttering, “I feel like there are a lotta dots here.” She’s referring not to her humorously unfocused, marble-like eyes, but the idea that these “dots” would someday add up to evidence. Farkas remember once went on MSNBC and insisted she had firsthand evidence of Trumpian collusion — “I knew there was more” — only to later admit under oath before congress, “I didn’t know anything.”

Even Watergate’s other reporting legend, Bob Woodward, said on MSNBC in October 2018 about a Filkins story, “This is really important incremental coverage... I mean that [New Yorker] piece is very significant,” adding, “You just have to chip away at it and if we stop chipping away at it, we’re not gonna get to the big answer.”

Both the Alfa stories and all of the key Steele stories went on to be demolished by official inquiries. The breakdown began with the terse conclusions of onetime votive candle subject Robert Mueller. Ol’ saggy-face power-crapped on the Prague story in his long-awaited report (“Cohen had never traveled to Prague”), which also detailed at length how Alfa Bank chief Petr Aven was charged by Putin late in 2016 to find ways of “getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration.” Mueller showed how Aven failed utterly at the task, rebuffed by Dmitri Simes by way of a businessman named Richard Burt. Mueller wrote that poor Aven had to go back to Russia and personally recount to Putin his “lack of success” at building “relations with the Trump administration.”

All this failure came during the period when, according to both Perkins Coie and Slate, Trump and Alfa were supposedly conspiring away in diabolical computer beeps, like Heaven’s Gate cult members. Maddow incidentally was completely wrong when she says Mueller didn’t address the Alfa story. All of the above spoke directly to that issue.

Later, in his catastrophic congressional testimony, Mueller failed to answer in the way fans expected when asked by Republican Will Hurd about Slate’s claim that the Trump-Alfa connection was “akin to what criminal syndicates do.” As we see in Orf’s video above, a bewildered-looking Mueller answered, “My belief at this point, it’s not true.”

The real end came with the release of an exhaustive 2019 report by Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz about the FISA applications on Page. This scathing document first of all flatly rebuffed the Alfa story, saying the Trump-Alfa connection had been investigated by FBI, who by February of 2017 concluded “there were no such links.” This means FBI higher-ups let the likes of Bob Woodward ramble away about this moronic conspiracy theory for more than a year after they knew it was nonsense.

After Horowitz was finished, none of the headline Steele claims — not the pee tape (revealed to have come from sources speaking “in jest” over “beers”), not Cohen-in-Prague, not the “well-developed conspiracy” of five years, not the giant stake in Rosneft offered as a bribe for dropping sanctions, not the U.S.-based Russian spy ring paid via a nonexistent consulate in Miami, nor any of the other absurd collusion accusations — had any meat left on the bone.

Horowitz’s revelations should have ended the careers of at least a dozen prominent journalists, inspired mass resignations within the FBI, and left the Clinton campaign facing an avalanche of official questions and sanctions. Though few of those things happened, the report did effectively kill Russiagate as a day-to-day media phenomenon, even among those who want Donald Trump to go away,” as Times editor Dean Baquet famously put it.

The new revelation by Mook about Alfa, that “I discussed it with Hillary” and “she agreed to that,” is significant because it shows the candidate was directly involved with the deception. This knowledge makes the campaign’s public statements about collusion stories from that early period look far worse, and they already looked bad.

The first time the Clinton campaign fed tales about Steele and his material to the press, via the September, 2016 Yahoo! story about Page as a “back channel” to the Kremlin, the Clinton camp released a statement pretending to be shocked, shocked by the news.

They wrote (emphasis mine): “It’s chilling to learn that U.S. intelligence officials are conducting a probe into suspected meetings between Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin’s inner circle while in Moscow.” The release came complete with a big smiling picture of Hillary:

“The face that launched a thousand lies”

With Alfa a month or so later, the campaign did the same thing, issuing a brassy statement in the form of a tweet by current Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan. This Big Twitter Lie among other things announced, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow”:

When the Horowitz report came out years later, blue-friendly media ecstatically reported the conclusion that the FBI’s official “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation launched in the summer of 2016 had not been based on Steele. The bureau, Horowitz said, had an “authorized purpose” to open an inquiry, based on a convoluted tale involving onetime Trump aide George Papadopoulos supposedly telling an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer about “dirt” Russians had on Clinton (Papadopoulos never actually spoke to any Russians, but such details were considered minor at the time). Papadopoulos, not Steele, was reported by papers like the Times to be the “catalyst” for the Trump-Russia investigation.

This is technically true. However, we know from subsequent testimony by FBI deputy director Alexander McCabe that the Bureau knew by August, 2016 — within about a month of the opening of the investigation — that Papadopoulos was a dead end. He told Republican congressman Trey Gowdy this was why the Bureau shifted focus back then to Carter Page, because the evidence “didn’t particularly indicate” Papadopoulos “was interacting with the Russians.” Moreover we learned from Horowitz that despite what Democrats and the press had claimed, the Steele material played a “central and essential rolein allowing the FBI to pursue FISA authority on Page in September of 2016. Without Clinton’s bogus reports, the Trump-Russia investigation might never have gone past September, 2016.

Russiagate die-hards will wave their hands here and point to the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2020 that concluded there was collusion based on the idea that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort gave “sensitive internal polling data” to his former deputy Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the report bluntly says “is a Russian intelligence officer.” The Senate Committee could not say what their evidence was against Kilimnik, or what he supposedly did with that polling data, or why. They did say they obtained “some information” that Kilimnik “may have” been connected “to the GRU’s hack and leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election,” though the portion of the report explaining this remarkable supposition is redacted.

I’d argue all of the above — that Senate report is a joke on multiple levels — but it’s irrelevant. Kilimnik didn’t really show up in popular collusion theories until early 2018, well over a year after the Russiagate madness began. The collusion train in the crucial first period of late 2016 through late 2017 was driven by Clinton-concocted news phantoms, during a time when the public was not yet aware that the Clinton campaign funded the Steele reports.

Clinton and her campaign systematically lied throughout, both about “collusion” and about their involvement in disseminating popular theories about it. We know this for a fact. The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign recently agreed to pay a $113,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for concealing their role in producing the Steele research, a role by the way her campaign never admitted to, and which was only disclosed through dogged effort by the House Intelligence Committee nearly a year after the 2016 election.

Clinton’s ex-lawyer Sussmann now stands accused of submitting the “tunnel vision” research about the silly Trump-Alfa tale to the FBI without revealing the (admittedly obvious) connection between that research and her campaign. Worse, both she and the current National Security Adviser Sullivan tweeted — tweeted! — an assertion that this same story represented “the most direct link yet” between Trump and the Kremlin. This is not just misinformation, it’s the most sophisticated kind of disinformation, an intentionally false story spread with official imprimatur.

For all the whining by the likes of Gobbels-for-a-nanosecond Nina Jankowicz of the now-paused DHS “Disinformation Governance Board,” disinformation is a real danger in the Internet age. The most dangerous variety, however, isn’t from random users in porn-like chats, but the kind exposed by the Clinton campaign. There’s just no defense against privately-generated fake news stories, commissioned by prominent politicians who in turn hand them to the corporate press, which then runs them with off-the-record nudges of encouragement from agencies like the FBI.

Especially if reporters decide en masseto act like political aides instead of doing their jobs and questioning these stories, the public is really helpless to stop such deceptions. The fast-receding early years of Russiagate prove the point, as does the laughably obvious collective decision by all the major networks to non-cover the Mook testimony dragging Clinton into this mess.

It’s unconscionable that Jake Sullivan has been allowed to remain in high office given his demonstrated role in perpetrating this public fraud, and though I never like to say any colleague should lose a job, anyone in media who who printed this transparent political concoction is either too stupid or too dishonest to work in journalism.

Hillary Clinton was falsely accused many times earlier in her career. This time she’s guilty. It’s not society’s fault there’s no legal name for the offense she and her campaign committed. It was serious, and there should be serious consequences.

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Dear Solar Supporter,

Thank you to all of you who participated in our last campaign to save rooftop solar from drastic proposals put forth by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The CPUC has now revised their proposal, but it is not a better one. We again need your help!

In an update on May 9, the CPUC announced that they are considering another Solar Tax, while also slashing the credit for the surplus solar energy shared with the grid. Also still on the table: weakening protections for existing solar users. Here is a list of what you can do to stop this.

Will you dial into the CPUC's June 2nd meeting and make a public comment by phone against this latest Solar Tax? The meeting starts at 11am and could go for several hours. Here is a link to register for the call: . Here are three reasons to make the time commitment if you can:

1) The CPUC appears to be testing the public in order to see if they can wear us down. A massive public outcry stopped the CPUC's first Solar Tax in January. The CPUC may be betting that the public is too tired this time to push back. Let's turn the tables, fight back even harder and wear them down!

2) Thousands of people will be rallying in person in San Francisco and Los Angeles on June 2nd. You can back them up by flooding the CPUC with your voice via phone. Here is a link to register for the June 2nd rally:

3) We increase the chances of getting media attention when lots of people take action together. That's how we beat back the CPUC's first Solar Tax, and how we can decisively defeat this one too. Hearing your voice catalyzes millions more to speak out too.

If you can't make the time commitment, can you call Gov. Newsom, even if you already called him? His number is 916-445-2841. His office is open 9-5, M-F. His phone lines are glitchy so please be persistent. Here's an example of what you can say, and feel free to personalize it:

"My name is __, I live in ___. The CPUC's latest rooftop solar plan is as bad as their first proposal. California should not tax the sun, period. We need more solar, not less. Gov. Newsom must show leadership, right now."

More information:

We thank you for taking the time to make your voice heard and for standing up for solar!

Thank you!

Your Friends at Mendocino Solar Service

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by Heather Cox Richardson

Today’s insistence that the Second Amendment gives individuals a broad right to own guns comes from two places.

One is the establishment of the National Rifle Association in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting, complete with hefty cash prizes in newly organized tournaments. Just a decade after the Civil War, veterans jumped at the chance to hone their former skills. Rifle clubs sprang up across the nation.

By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. “Riflemen” competed in the Olympics, in colleges, and in local, state, and national tournaments organized by the NRA. Being a good marksman was a source of pride, mentioned in public biographies, like being a good golfer. In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunition and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.

NRA officers insisted on the right of citizens to own rifles and handguns but worked hard to distinguish between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns for hunting and target shooting and protection, and criminals and mentally ill people, who should not. In 1931, amid fears of bootlegger gangs, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons; prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children; to require all dealers to be licensed; and to require background checks before delivery. It backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America’s hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.

But in the mid-1970s, a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later it elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”

This was the second thing that led us to where we are today: leaders of the NRA embraced the politics of Movement Conservatism, the political movement that rose to combat the business regulations and social welfare programs that both Democrats and Republicans embraced after World War II. Movement Conservatives embraced the myth of the American cowboy as a white man standing against the “socialism” of the federal government as it sought to level the economic playing field between Black Americans and their white neighbors. Leaders like Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater personified the American cowboy, with his cowboy hat and opposition to government regulation, while television Westerns showed good guys putting down bad guys without the interference of the government.

In 1972, the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of “cheap handguns,” but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate—Reagan—for the first time.

When President Reagan took office, a new American era, dominated by Movement Conservatives, began. And the power of the NRA over American politics grew.

In 1981 a gunman trying to kill Reagan shot and paralyzed his press secretary, James Brady, and wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty. After the shooting, then-representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation that became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill, to require background checks before gun purchases. Reagan, who was a member of the NRA, endorsed the bill, but the NRA spent millions of dollars to defeat it.

After the Brady Bill passed in 1993, the NRA paid for lawsuits in nine states to strike it down. Until 1959, every single legal article on the Second Amendment concluded that it was not intended to guarantee individuals the right to own a gun. But in the 1970s, legal scholars funded by the NRA had begun to argue that the Second Amendment did exactly that.

In 1997, when the Brady Bill cases came before the Supreme Court as Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court declared parts of the measure unconstitutional.

Now a player in national politics, the NRA was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers. By 2000 it was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent more than $40 million on the 2008 election. In that year, the landmark Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller struck down gun regulations and declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Increasingly, NRA money backed Republican candidates. In 2012 the NRA spent $9 million in the presidential election, and in 2014 it spent $13 million. Then, in 2016, it spent over $50 million on Republican candidates, including more than $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. This money was vital to Trump, since many other Republican super PACs refused to back him. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.

The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party’s ideology of individual liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights despite the mass shootings that have risen since their new emphasis on guns. Even though 90% of Americans—including nearly 74% of NRA members—support background checks, Republicans have killed such legislation by filibustering it.

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Shoeing an Ox, 1890

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by James Kunstler

America has become a malfunctioning pageant without feasible roles that children can realistically project themselves into….

The phoniest trope in American life goes like this: We must find the cause of X so that it never happens again. Of course, it will happen again. We only pretend that the cause is a mystery. Let’s count the ways that school massacres happen.

American schools are fantastically depressing places. They are designed to look like medium security prisons and insecticide factories. They send the message: Enter here and be psychologically brutalized. They are too big, overwhelmingly alienating, ugly, devoid of visible symbolism signaling the value of being human. The interiors of the schools are designed for the convenience of janitors, hard surfaces of tile and linoleum that can be hosed down easily like the quarters of zoo animals. Children act accordingly.

The “facilities,” as we call them, are deployed in the illegible landscape of a demolition derby, separated from all the other activities of daily life, which themselves have reached a culminating state of meaninglessness: big box shopping, national chain franchise food installations, strip malls of empty storefronts, parking lot wastelands, nothing that will excite a child’s imagination with emotions other than bewilderment, anxiety, and aversion.

The “teaching” that supposedly goes on in schools is a broken remnant of preparation for an economy that no longer exists. We’re no longer a society of people who do things, but rather a society of people to whom things are done, many of them harmful, humiliating, and arbitrary. America’s demoralized teaching corps is so unhinged by their own anomie that they resort to imposing sadistic fantasies on the children in their charge.

Thus, all the inappropriate curricula around adult preoccupations with sex, such as the Drag Queen Story Hour, for which mentally ill men are invited to act-out impersonations of women-as-monsters for young people who can’t possibly be expected to make sense of the spectacle. (I suspect that even six-year-olds, hard-wired to function as successful animals in this world, understand it as some kind of affront to reality.) Otherwise, American teachers are out of ideas, and are themselves damaged by the same forces in culture that they are now asked to direct.

America has become a malfunctioning pageant without feasible roles that children can realistically project themselves into. What ten-year-old longs to become the Burger King fry-o-later boss in a brown apron and an asinine cardboard crown? Rather, they are prompted to aspire to become sports star millionaires, of which there are perhaps fewer than 5,000 positions in a land of 340-million. By age twelve, they probably comprehend the unlikelihood of that outcome, or of becoming the next Kardashian… or Spiderman. (Superheroes are supplied by the entertainment cartels to occupy the imaginative realm of children because American culture is bereft of reality-based roles worth aspiring to.)

In this tumult of cultural impoverishment, psychotic grandiosity creeps in. Be big if you can’t be anything else. Hence, one achievable role for young persons in American life is mass murderer. It is a way of becoming important, of having an effect on other people and society in general. Your name may be forgotten, but the act itself will endure in the collective memory of a people. It will be some kind of a mark in history, even better remembered, perhaps, than whoever played third-base for the Atlanta Braves in 1994… or the woman who once capered down the red carpet at the Oscars in a dress fashioned on a slaughtered swan.

The mayhem unleashed in a school shooting is just the rectified essence of the manifold derangements in our national life. Everything is out-of-whack, including our perception of what’s going on and what it means. There is almost nothing left of childhood in this land, in the way of young, unformed creatures assisted by adults who love them into a future worth being part of. We have forgotten how to be grateful for coming into this world at all, leaving us unworthy of being here. The quality of virtue, meaning that some things and some doings are recognizably better than others, was deceitfully replaced by the equity of nothing being allowed to be better than anything else. Truth and beauty have gone outlaw. Bad faith and wickedness rule, led by a Party of Chaos. So, really, what do you expect? And what do you deserve?

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JEFFREY ST. CLAIR: Meet the Uvalde Police SWAT team. Where were they? Outside the school, waiting on reinforcements. When one parent shouted, “Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” they took out their Tasers to keep parents from entering the school to try and save their kids.

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A Tale of Genius, Censorship and Freedom of Expression

by Jonah Raskin

Norma Barnacle burned most of the letters she received in 1909 from her lover who signed his name, “Jim.” But she didn’t destroy all of them. Indeed, they have survived all these years. In one of them, Jim, aka James Joyce, wrote to his muse and “little fuckbird” :“Fuck me, darling, in as many ways as your lust will suggest.” He went on and on: ”Fuck me dressed in your full outdoor costume with your hat and veil on, your face flushed with the cold and wind and rain and your boots muddy.”

Prudes and dowdy literary scholars are still shocked by the language of the poet and novelist who rebellled against Catholicism and IrelandL Like Stephen Dedalus the hero of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, hevowed he would “not servethat in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use —silence, exile, and cunning.” A sexist and more than a bit mad, he nevertheless blazed a trail others still follow.

 This year, 2022, hoary censorship of the sort Joyce battled all his literary life, is back as big and as nasty as ever before. According to PEN America, more than 1,000 books have recently been removed from shelves in school libraries and from classrooms. The latest wave of censorship has prompted rebukes from Congressman Jamie Raskin and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

In fact, over the last century, censorship has never really taken a vacation in the U.S. or around the world, though it has sometimes seemed as though the last nail was hammered into its coffin. Moral crusaders and foes of modern literature tried long ago to abort James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses, which was written from 1914 to 1921, while the author was in exile in Trieste, Zurich and Paris. Not a word was written in Ireland, where the author was born in 1882, the same year that Virginia Woolf arrived in the world. 

Like most members of my generation I read Ulysses when I was a teenager. As soon as I was able, I went to Paris, roamed the streets, lived on bread, wine and literary dreams, and, before I returned to the States, bought a copy of Henry Miller's censored novel, Tropic of Cancer and smuggled it past customs officials in New York. It was the thing to do.

What prompted the censors to confiscate copies of Ulysses, burn them, and fine those who published excerpts in magazines such as the Little Review edited by Margaret Anderson. Sex, they insisted, was the culprit, and pointed to the chapter titled “Nausicca” in which Mr. Leopold Bloom masturbates in public while a young, seductive woman named Gerty on the cusp of menstruating, reveals to him parts of her anatomy.

Fireworks explode in the sky. On the ground below the pyrotechnics, Bloom has an orgasm. It’s pretty tame stuff by contemporary standards, though perhaps not in backwater towns and villages, even in Governor Newsom’s Golden State. Curiously, Newsom hasn’t tout Ulysses as a censored book. His list includes The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and Nineteen-Eighty Four. 

As the American lawyer, Edward de Grazia, showed in his masterful book, Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius, self-righteous crusaders like Anthony Comstock and his followers, used pornography as a cudgel to crack down on works of literature, like Ulysses, and to prevent information about birth control and abortion from reaching the public. In the eyes of the crusaders, Bloom was simply a middle aged man with smut on his mind.

Evoking God and the Bible, Comstock & Company aimed to legislate and control what happened between couples, married or living in sin, whether behind closed doors and in bedrooms, or out in the open where spectators could witness characters such asd Leopold and Gertie caught in a sexual act, though they didn't rub their bodies against one another.

Bloom was a perfect protagonist to inflame the censors. A descendant of several generations of wandering Jews and a convert to Catholicism, he insists he’s a “respectable citizen.” He wanders about Dublin in ways that echo Homer’s The Odyssey. Still, unlike the heroic Ulysses, Bloom has an adulterous wife named Molly, and a grown daughter living away from home. The death of his son, Rudolph, aka Rudy, has left an emotional vacuum in his life. So, when he encounters Stephen Dedalus, a young Irish artist raised as a Catholic, he brings him to his house at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin, where Molly reclines in bed and indulges her licentious imagination.

 In the climactic ending of the book, Molly exclaims, “I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” She seems to have an orgasm, though Joyce, despite his own dalliance and his professed defiance of the church and its moral code, never says so explicitly. He hid his obscenities in plain sight.

Joyce explained that he meant Ulysses to be “an epic of two races (Israelite-Irish).” Always attentive to details, it seems significant that he hyphenated the two words ,“Israelite” and “Irish” and didn’t create space between them. Bloom tells Dedalus that he’s as “good an Irishman”as anyone else and insists that there’s “not a vestige of truth” in the accusation that Jews have been the ruination of Europe.

“History,” he adds, “proves to the hilt Spain decayed when the Inquisition hounded the Jews out and England prospered when Cromwell, an uncommonly able ruffian…imported them.” At times, he seems to be a walking talking advertisement for the Jews—especially when anti-Semites mock him as “old Methusalem’ [sic]. Readers come to appreciate him as a Jewish/ Irish Everyman and not simply an advertising salesman for the newspaper, The Freeman, which employs him.

Joyce borrowed the name for his hero from a Jewish merchant named Leopold Popper. Every name and address in his book derived from something or someone real, factual. A stickler for accuracy, he went blind writing Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

Joyce thought that at the core of his being he was a Jew and that his Jewish ancestry provided him with a kind of mystical elan. Anything and anyone but Catholic and especially someone persecuted by Catholics and the Catholic church. Joyce poured himself into Bloom, an exile in his own country, who thinks that “Holy Writ” is a “forgery” and who wants, when he’s utopian, a “union of all, Jews, Moslem and gentile” and for everyone to live by the Ten Commandments.

Joyce thought that the obscure references and allusions in his novel would make it a classic. He explained to Jacques Benoist-Mechin, who translated parts of the book into French, “I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of ensuring one's immortality.” The enigmas and puzzles did keep the scholars busy, and lodged the book in the public eye, but it has been the humanity of Molly, Stephen and especially Bloom that has provided immortality.

In her short, brilliant Joycean biography of James Joyce, the Irish writer, Edna O’Brien, asks with her subject in mind, “Do writers have to be such monsters in order to create?” Her answer: “I believe they do.” She adds “while wrestling with language to capture the human condition they become more callous, and cut off from the very human traits which they so glisteningly depict.” That’s the James Joyce that she depicts convincingly, though she also offers a quotation from the Irish writer, Samuel Becket, who noted after Joyce’s death in 1941 in Switzerland that he was “a very lovable human being.” Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, died the same year. O’Brien thinks she never read more than a few pages of Ulysses.

Given that Joyce was mean to friends and family, as O’Brien convincingly shows, it’s not surprising that readers and fans of his books haven’t gone out of their way to honor his birth or his death. Rather, they celebrate what's known as “Bloomsday,” which occurs annually on June 16. Bloomsday was first celebrated in 1924, two years after Ulysses was initially published in Paris by Shakespeare & Company, owned by Sylvia Beach, a literary midwife to a work of genius that changed the course of modern literature.

The novel didn’t appear in print in the US until 1929, though some copies reached readers secretly after it was banned. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice seized and destroyed most of the books that were initially printed in the US. In December 1933, in a landmark decision, US District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled that the novel was not obscene.

To legal experts,Woolsey’s ruling ended the obscenity laws, but that was not to be. In the 1950s, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl was censored as was William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

Perhaps this year, on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses, lawyers, judges, writers, editors, librarians and the “common reader,” as Virginia Wolf called her, will realize that censorship never really dies, as one might wish. James Joyce’s novel—which T. S. Eliot hailed in 1923 “as the most important expression which the present age had found”—reminds us of the persecution of geniuses and the battles that have been fought in and out of courtrooms to save works of art— Ulysses, Howl, Naked Lunch and D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover—from self-righteous crusaders and book burners. Freedom of expression is as needed now as ever before.

* * *

Georgia, 1970s

* * *



It doesn’t take supernatural, sacred gifts of prophecy to realize this country is in deep trouble. Gun violence has replaced all other causes of death for children here. Nothing has underlined the existential threat we all are facing than the murders that took place Wednesday morning at Robb School in the town of Uvale, Texas. Nineteen slaughtered 3rd and 4th graders as well as two heroic teachers.The juvenile shooter was psychologically disturbed.

Furthemore if there had been two shooters, the total of dead might have been at least forty-four or more. Do the lives of kids, like yours and mine, matter? There were many children yesterday in India who lit candles in support of their dead brothers and sisters in Texas’s latest bloody massacre.

The ten GOP Senators-NRA lackeys-need to be voted out. It will take time, money, hard work and guts to organize to make gun control the most important issue this year.

Frank H. Baumgardner Santa Rosa

* * *


Dear Constituent,

We wanted to check in on some distressing news and what we can do to work together to stop it.

A recent ruling by federal regulators will give big coal corporations the opportunity to submit a formal proposal to start up a massive Toxic Coal Train in our backyards. This is insane. 

Join Senator Mike McGuire and an all-star panel for a Town Hall to discuss the alarming new developments that could advance a dangerous Coal Train project here in Northern California.

Join the conversation and hear more about how we can work together to stop the Toxic Coal Train and to hear about the soon-to-be launched Master Plan process for the Great Redwood Trail.

Here are the Town Hall details: 

What: Senator McGuire’s Town Hall to Stop the Toxic Coal Train

Date & Time: Join Senator McGuire via livestream video or on the phone, Wednesday, June 1 at 6:30pm. 

RSVP and ask a question for the Town Hall presenters by clicking here!

How to attend: Tune in on June 1 at 6:30pm at You can also dial in to listen by phone at 1-669-900-6833 and enter the Webinar ID: 872 8641 6921. 

Closed captioning will also be available.

Warmest regards,

Mike McGuire, State Senator

* * *


Dear Mike, 

Thank you for holding these regular Town Hall meetings. Most of us in your district and others in the Bay Area feel we should first stop the Greatest Scam ever perpetrated by a former member of the United States Congress. I hope will be able to take live, unscreened callers who will make you aware of immense and widespread nature of the corruption. To our horror we have discovered it even includes a former Sonoma County supervisor, Erik or Eric Konigshoofer. I speak to you of course about the Great Redwood Trail to nowhere. It will never be completed and is only a ploy to the general public to garner support from week minded liberals and corporate travel agencies who think the Trail will become a reality. The Redwood Trail in my opinion will only be completed if the franchises, right of ways, other encumbrances, etc. are bought up by the Disneyland Corporation in Anaheim. The model of what the scam was passed off as would become the biggest draw in the Fantasyland Section of the Orange County park.

* * *

Dr. Milliken and Family, Mendocino

* * *

“NOW IS NOT THE TIME for empty political gestures! Now is the time for love!”

—Ted Cruz speaking to the NRA, 5/27/22

* * *


The Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) is accepting applications for two of its adult vocational programs: Medical Assisting and Dental Assisting. Applications are available online at, and are due Friday, June 24.

The Medical Assisting Program runs from August through May. Classes are held in Ukiah, Monday — Thursday 4:30 — 7:30 PM and five Saturdays in March and April 2023. The program requires 460 classroom hours and a 180-hour externship, which includes 80 administrative hours and100 clinical hours. The program is limited in enrollment numbers and costs $4,500, which can be paid in two installments. Once they have completed the program, medical assisting students will be prepared for state certification testing with the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants.

The Dental Assisting Program runs from August through December. Classes are held in Ukiah, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:15 PM — 9:15 PM. The 18-week course prepares students for front and back office dental assisting, including chairside and Dentrix software training. At the conclusion of classroom training, students must complete a 120-hour externship with a dental practice. The program is limited to 8 students and costs $4,000, which can be paid in two installments.

Successful applicants in this competitive process will have earned high school diplomas or the equivalent. These are college-level courses. Medical assisting students must undergo a medical screening, a background check and a drug test. Dental assisting students must also undergo a medical screening.

Medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as health clinics and assisted living centers. Their duties generally include administrative and clinical responsibilities, including updating medical charts and scheduling appointments, as well as preparing patients for a doctor’s examination and collecting laboratory samples, among many other duties. Medical assisting is a fast-growing occupation, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it can be an entry point for those interested in becoming nurses.

Like medical assistants, dental assistants are also in high demand and they also perform both administrative and clinical duties. Dental assistants often work in dental clinics or dental offices. They prepare patients for treatments and teeth cleanings, process x-rays, and work with patients on billing issues, among other duties. Becoming a dental assistant is the first step in becoming a registered dental assistant and obtaining additional specialty certificates.

For more information about MCOE’s workforce development programs, call 707-467-5123 or email

* * *

* * *


The largest community health center organization in Lake and Mendocino Counties, MCHC Health Centers, is pleased to announce the appointment of Rod Grainger as its chief executive officer. Grainger brings 30 years of healthcare management experience with a strong background in healthcare finance.

Having spent most of the last ten years as Long Valley Health Center’s executive director, Grainger understands the opportunities and challenges of providing high-quality healthcare in a rural community, and he says he looks forward to guiding MCHC Health Centers as “we emerge from the pandemic to a rapidly changing environment.”

“Disruptive times, while uncomfortable, can be a catalyst for productive change. As we work through the challenges facing our community and our healthcare system, we are using this time to assess, reevaluate, and find or create new best practices for healthcare delivery. It is a time to reinvest in our mission and our employees so that we can meet or exceed our patients’ expectations,” he said.

MCHC has been providing healthcare to community members since 1991, expanding from its original location on Laws Avenue in Ukiah to managing four sites: Hillside Health Center and Dora Street Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. MCHC sees an average of 500 patients per day—either in person or virtually.

Grainger believes MCHC Health Centers has grown and thrived because it is a heart-centered organization. “Our founder, Linnea Hunter, had a great passion for the underserved. She began this organization with just a few employees who had big hearts and a desire to serve.” Grainger credits the organization’s steady growth over the years to “exceptional commitment to access and quality, both of which depend upon skilled employees who are deeply invested in their work.”

“It’s scientifically proven that if you take care of your employees, they are happier; and when they are happier, they take better care of others. It’s also true that when people love where they work, they are a lot more likely to attract others who fit into that kind of high-functioning team. Great people want to work with great people,” he explained. “It is the foundation of our organization, and it is a personal value of mine.”

MCHC uses a team-based approach to serve as a healthcare hub—a place where patients can go, regardless of their ailment. MCHC can then either provide the care directly or coordinate care through referrals to a specialist. This approach prevents duplication of care and eliminates unnecessary tests—and it allows MCHC to understand all the health issues influencing a patient’s condition. According to Grainger, the goal is to find a balance that puts quality at the top of the priority list and uses resources as efficiently as possible.

As a federally qualified health center, MCHC receives grant funding to assure that patients who need care but can’t afford it do not slip through the cracks of the healthcare system. He explained that MCHC Health Centers is in the community to provide care to all walks of life, from the fully insured community member to the homeless and the undocumented.

“Our doors are open, and we are actively recruiting so that we can continue to meet the needs of our community. We want to help our patients live their best lives, and healthcare is a big part of that. We want our team to engage in meaningful work, and our mission to provide care for our community is at the heart of that work” he said.

* * *

Caspar School, 1885

* * *

MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio live from Franklin St. all night tonight!

Marco here. Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 5:30pm. Or send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.

Plus you can phone during the show and read your work in your own voice. I'll be in the clean, well-lighted back room of KNYO's storefront studio at 325 N. Franklin, where the number is 1-(707) 962-3022. If you're likely to use words your mother washed your mouth out with soap for, wait until after 10pm, so not to agitate the weasels nor the kind of people who like to wash their kids' mouths out with soap. There might be some overlap between the two groups, so two birds with one stone.

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via (That's the regular link to listen to KNYO in real time.)

Any day or night you can go to and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there.

Besides all that, there you'll find a peck of educational amusements to educationally amuse yourself with until showtime, or anytime, such as:

Ain't No Sunshine.

Baffled by music. "You're not doing that!" And he's so delighted to find he was wrong: "You are doing that guitar! You are doing the whole song! FUHH!" Remember the rule, though: When you watch a street musician for over a minute, you own him a dollar.

And, "Thirteen? You can't buy no scratch-off, baby!"

— Marco McClean,,

* * *

IT IS THE INVARIABLE HABIT of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.

— H. L. Mencken

* * *

* * *


by Joseph Stepansky

A massacre at a Texas primary school has again drawn attention to the powerful gun lobby in the United States, with Democratic officials blaming Republican legislators for remaining beholden to influential pro-gun interests that advocates say have stalled national gun reforms.

President Joe Biden, speaking hours after an 18-year-old gunman stormed the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, fatally shooting 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday, asked: “When, in God’s name, are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”.

Former President Barack Obama, who was in office when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, said the US “is paralysed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies”.

Meanwhile, Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff tweeted: “Children are dying, and we could do something about it. But the GOP won’t stand up to the gun lobby”.

What is the US ‘gun lobby’?

The so-called gun lobby in the US is a broad term that encompasses efforts to influence both state and federal policy on guns, usually through supporting candidates who have pledged opposition to gun control measures.

It includes direct contributions to legislators, efforts to independently support elected officials, and campaigns to sway public opinion on issues related to firearms. Such lobbying is often carefully calibrated to navigate US election finance laws.

Several investigations have shown that major anti-gun control lobbying groups – notably the most prominent, the National Rifle Association (NRA) – have close ties with the multibillion-dollar firearms industry in the US.

The NRA and similar groups often frame themselves as civil rights defenders, pointing to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution that establishes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”.

Meanwhile, gun control groups like the Giffords organisation, founded by former US Congresswoman and gun violence victim Gabby Giffords, accuse NRA lobbyists of solely being motivated by the goal “to sell more guns and pad the bottom line of gun lobby executives”.

Gun control advocates have long blamed the lobby’s power for the dearth of federal gun control measures passed in the US in recent years, despite a series of prominent mass shootings and a recent spike in active shooter incidents.

Gun control advocates also blame lobbyists for helping to loosen firearms restrictions in Republican-dominated state legislatures across the country.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz, as well as former US President Donald Trump, are set to speak later this week at a meeting in Texas hosted by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the organisation’s self-described “lobbying” arm.

How influential is the ‘gun lobby’?

It is difficult to quantify the influence of the constellation of groups that make up the gun lobby, which provide both political cache and millions of dollars in direct support to candidates across the country. The NRA, which has run into financial hardship in recent years, has long maintained a grading system for politicians and undertakes advertising campaigns in support of its interests.

From 1998 to 2020, pro-gun groups paid $171.9m in lobbying to directly affect legislation, according to OpenSecrets, a non-profit that tracks spending in US politics. Since 1998, the NRA alone paid $63,857,564 in that category.

Meanwhile, pro-gun groups have paid a whopping $155.1m in a 10-year span from 2010 to 2020 on so-called outside spending, according to OpenSecrets. Since 2000, the NRA has paid more than $140m in such spending, which includes all spending that supports – but is not directly coordinated with – a candidate.

Unlike direct contributions to candidates, there is no cap on outside spending for corporations and non-profits following the 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court ruling.

In 2016, the NRA reportedly spent $50m in outside spending in support of Trump and six Republican candidates for Senate.

The money assured that one in every 20 TV ads that aired in October of 2016 in the influential swing state of Pennsylvania was sponsored by the NRA, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. In North Carolina, one in every nine ads was sponsored by the NRA that month, while in Ohio, one in every eight ads pushed the group’s pro-gun interests.

The NRA’s overall spending jumped $100m in 2016 over the previous year with “no politician benefiting more” than Trump, OpenSecrets reported.

Trump repeatedly promised to support gun rights, in 2017 telling the NRA “I will never, ever let you down.”

Pro-gun organisations have also paid a total of $54.4m in direct campaign contributions, a category subject to restrictions on donations, from 1990 to 2020, according to OpenSecrets. The contributions in recent years have been almost entirely to Republicans.

The top recipients so far in 2022 in the US Congress were Republican Senators Rand Paul and John Kennedy, who each received over $38,000 from pro-gun groups, according to OpenSecrets. US House of Representatives Minority Whip Steve Scalise received $25,610 from pro-gun groups during that period.

In 2018, during his re-election bid, Texas Senator Cruz received $311,151 in direct contributions from pro-gun groups.

In 2020, vulnerable Republican Senators Martha McSally, David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler received over $516,000, $307,000, and $298,000 respectively from pro-gun groups, according to OpenSecrets.

How powerful is the ‘gun control lobby’?

Efforts to legislate gun control on a federal level have made little headway in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, but advocates have pointed to a growing gun control movement that they say could lead to change.

That movement was “essentially nonexistent” in 2013, when efforts to expand federally required background checks for firearms sales failed in the US, Senator Chris Murphy, who represents Connecticut, told the New York Times in mid-May.

“It’s all about political power, and political muscle, and we’re in the process of building our own,” he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, lobbying for gun control, while still dwarfed by pro-gun movements, has grown since 2013, led by groups like Giffords, the Mike Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Sandy Hook Promise.

Overall annual spending on lobbying by gun control advocates jumped from $250,000 in 2012 to $2.2m in 2013.

In 2021, gun control groups spent $2.9m on lobbying.



  1. Craig Stehr May 28, 2022

    The street medic who is associated with Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, CA drove me to a dental appointment in Windsor, CA, my having been referred there by Hillside Dental Clinic, (because the clinic in Ukiah would not do the crown, nor other complicated procedures). Showing up early with my referral forms at a mini shopping mall off of Highway 101, I filled out clinic registration paperwork, and produced the California driver’s license plus both California Partnership and Medicare cards as requested. I was then pleasantly escorted to a room and comfortably sat down in the dental chair. A full mouth of xraying followed. Then, the dentist came in and checked everything and reviewed the xrays. She heard my story of the impossibility of getting appropriate dental care in Mendocino county. At that point, she said that she would put in a stainless steel crown where the side tooth was broken, that there in fact is no infection above a previous root canal as the other clinic stated, but that food lodged above the gum line was causing discomfort, (and she recommended my purchasing a water pick), and the cavity in the last molar would be easy to fix. And then she informed me that henceforth I was her patient at the dental clinic in Windsor, CA, and she wished me to know that as a senior citizen it does not require Divine Intervention to get an appointment to get one’s teeth cleaned in northern California. She then gave me an appointment in June. Most incredible of all, the dental clinic in Windsor, CA is going to get all expenses paid in full by my existing coverage, and I will henceforth pay nothing! Continuing to identify with that which is “prior to consciousness”, not interfering with the Divine Absolute working through the body-mind instrument, the ego is totally flabbergasted by today’s reversal of fortune in terms of dental services in the region. There is no inkling as to what the future holds. Indeed, this is totally amazing! Welcome to the spiritual path.
    Craig Louis Stehr
    May the 27th, 2022 Anno Domini

    • chuck dunbar May 28, 2022

      Dentistry as it should be–for older folks and all. That’s all good news and good for you, Craig.

    • Eric Sunswheat May 28, 2022

      Stainless steel crown may wear opposing natural teeth excessively, and may cause dental electrolysis.
      RE: stainless steel crown (Craig Stehr)

      -> Stainless steel crowns are used mostly as a temporary fix while some other crown made from another material is being processed.

      While it is a common idea that stainless steel crowns are only used for children, you must know that these dental crowns can be used on adults as well. They are just used differently.

      They are used primarily on milk teeth, mostly in the back. If you are allergic to metal, this dental crown is not for you.

  2. Eric Sunswheat May 28, 2022

    RE: Greatest Scam (Irv Sutley)

    -> May 24, 2022
    While desalination has stalled, for now, water managers are turning to another, albeit, less palatable option: drinking recycled wastewater.

    Also referred to as reclaimed water, recycled water is the runoff from storm drains and sewage pipes that has been purified, filtered and disinfected to meet stringent health standards.

    Though desalination shares much of the same membrane and conveyance technology with wastewater recycling, the latter requires less energy and is cheaper to operate given that there are simply fewer salts to process, which is why many favor recapturing water over desalinating it…

    “There is plenty of water in California — even during a drought. I think that’s what people think when they hear about water scarcity … we’re going to run out of water. There’s no way that we’re going to run out of water.

    What we’re running out of is cheap water,” said Rosenfield. “But if we got serious about reforming how we use water, there’s more than enough.”

  3. George Hollister May 28, 2022


    Matt Taibbi needs to make his points with less words. Yes, it can be done, and more people would read what he writes. That said, he makes valid points. The losers? Not Hilary Clinton, she was doing what she has done in the past, but at a new level. The losers are the credibility of the DC Swamp, news media, and their supporters in the DNC. People who vote notice.

    What can be fixed? The DNC and be voted out. People can choose the news media they want. But the DC Swamp can not be fixed, and needs to be seriously pruned.

    • George Hollister May 28, 2022

      How does so much [false news] get into the American newspapers, even the good ones? Is it because journalists, as a class, are habitual liars, and prefer what is not true to what is true? I don’t think it is. Rather, it is because journalists are, in the main, extremely stupid, sentimental and credulous fellows — because nothing is easier than to fool them — because the majority of them lack the sharp intelligence that the proper discharge of their duties demands.

      H. L. Mencken

  4. Marmon May 28, 2022


    “JEFFREY ST. CLAIR: Meet the Uvalde Police SWAT team. Where were they? Outside the school, waiting on reinforcements.”

    The Uvalde School District had their own police department and it was their Chief who was the incident commander that ordered all officers to stand down until backup arrived. It was a big mistake and most likely led to some injured children bleeding out. The Uvalde Police SWAT team did not have jurisdiction at the school.


    P.S. I’m so glad that the well respected (not) former Sheriff Deputy Shannon Barney cleared things up about Trent James, lol.

    • Bruce McEwen May 28, 2022

      You know all about refusing to follow unlawful orders, but I don’t think Captains McCrae & Call from Lonesome Dove would have stood down.

      P.S. You and Saco endorsing Trent James hurts his chances worse than anything. Those who openly swear loyalty to the current administration may just vote their conscience in the privacy of the ballot both — that is they might if the nagging thought that he (Trent) was in w/ you two didn’t make ’em uneasy. You have held on like a pit-bull while an embarrassing number of others who have been mauled by the county have got over it and moved on. You and Sako are like Mark Twain’s dog who “fouls most what he loves best.”

      • Stephen Rosenthal May 28, 2022

        Marmon has a PHD from FoxNews in I Know Everything, while Saco is a Professor of Self-Righteousness – his own.

        Brucie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  5. Nathan Duffy May 28, 2022

    RE; Deputies patrol Ukiah schools.
    You mean the Woke mob was not there to scream “Copaganda!!!” and traumatize all of the children. That being said law enforcement across the nation has an uphill battle in the public consciousness. In my opinion we have witnessed police “standing down” ever since the George Floyd killing. It is true that officer engagement and use of force must be balanced but standing down in the face of ones sworn duty is egregious and collectively embarrassing. If the George Floyd murder was the wrong time for deadly use of force the Uvalde mass shooting was the example of precisely the right time to use deadly force WITHOUT DELAY.

    • Betsy Cawn May 28, 2022

      In 2014 the voters approved Proposition 47, which raised the threshold for prosecution of felony (“grand”) theft to $950. Proposition 57, “a measure which promised to help prison overcrowding by letting non-violent inmates seek parole sooner and shave down their sentences with credits for good behavior and rehabilitation programs,” was passed in 2016. Finally, the state Supreme Court, in 2021, ruled that “[t]he common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional,” in what is known as the “Humphrey case.”

      The law enforcement agencies were already struggling with low morale and high risk conditions before the first voter initiative, and the 2020 federal emergency in response to the Coronavirus pandemic made the incentive to put offenders in jail in the first place — plus the “no bail” requirement — meant that “petty thieves” were free to steal pretty much whatever they want. The pandemic had the added impact of closing down the courts, and the backlog of court cases has likewise left criminals free to roam and vandalize at levels that are impossible for law enforcement to overcome.

      Earlier this year, the Lake County Board of Supervisors agreed to dedicate about $800,000 to a special Code Enforcement – Law Enforcement partnership in the central part of the town called Clearlake Oaks (the designated streets are clustered around the highway-based commercial and government buildings along Highway 20, left out of the program are all the high density neighborhoods with long-neglected substandard streets, inadequate or non-functional fire suppression systems, and abandoned homes that attract squatters, vandals, and drug related crimes. The project is already struggling, with what the Code Enforcement manager stated is a 5-10 year backlog of health and safety violations throughout the county.

      And the highly vocal proponents of “commercial cannabis” have taken advantage of poorly designed “early activation” (pre-permitted) operations that are being slowly but successfully appealed by the neighbors in remote areas of fragile ecosystems where grading, construction, irrigation, and product distribution and sales are creating environmental messes and neighborhood pushback. The latest ignominy to rear its ugly head in this battle is the suggestion (by a county supervisor) that cannabis should be regulated the same as “agriculture” — which has even fewer regulatory requirements and has thus far added thousands of acres of land uses that impact the very limited water resources available. [The agriculture operators, in turn, rail against any infringement of their “rights” to extract groundwater, and in some cases, allow transporters to draw from the wells to supply sites that have reduced supplies; the Lake County Groundwater Management ordinance only prohibits the removal of Lake County groundwater for transport across county lines.]

      Regardless of any drought emergency conservation requirements, municipalities and water system operators have no penal codes at hand to enforce “waste” — and vineyards, which use only groundwater here, are not required to reduce their application of “frost protection” and irrigation water.

      Unfortunately, for once, I have to agree with Mr. Kuntsler.

      • Nathan Duffy May 30, 2022

        Thanks, an I would not call your agreement unfortunate.

  6. chuck dunbar May 28, 2022


    Everything hurts,
    Our hearts shadowed and strange,
    Minds made muddied and mute.
    We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
    And yet none of it is new;
    We knew it as home,
    As horror,
    As heritage.
    Even our children
    Cannot be children,
    Cannot be.

    Everything hurts.
    It’s a hard time to be alive,
    And even harder to stay that way.
    We’re burdened to live out these days,
    While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.

    This alarm is how we know
    We must be altered —
    That we must differ or die,
    That we must triumph or try.
    Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
    It can be transformed
    Into a love that lets us live.

    May we not just grieve, but give:
    May we not just ache, but act;
    May our signed right to bear arms
    Never blind our sight from shared harm;
    May we choose our children over chaos.
    May another innocent never be lost.

    Maybe everything hurts,
    Our hearts shadowed & strange.
    But only when everything hurts
    May everything change.

    Amanda Gorman

  7. Marmon May 28, 2022


    “By his (Trent James) own admission, again in true millennial fashion, he deemed this assignment as beneath him.”

    -Shannon Barney

    Yeah, harrashing Willits residents in order to replenish loss coffers after the bypass went in is not what you call good community policing. Trent was very clear that he did not believe in “Citation Quotas”, he even did a video about that.


  8. Kirk Vodopals May 28, 2022

    As expected, Kunstler offers no solutions to our gun violence epidemic other than to say our country is mentally ill. I’ve heard this same perspective many times from the 2nd amendment absolutists. Essentially nothing can be done because they know (and probably want) nothing will change. Kunstler and his ilk offer no possible changes and only dark visions of a downwardly spiraling society. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy so they can say “I told you so”. I don’t want to live in that world. Who would?

  9. John Robert May 28, 2022

    —-If something horrible similar to Uvalde should happens here, it is the BOS fault. Ret.Sheriff Allman made Measure B happen only to have the BOS allow past CEO Angelo to disrail/redirect best efforts.

    ——The hundreds of various officers responding after the fact, patrolling and pacing around together, most striking.
    ——Two hours previously most of them off duty. When the call went out rushing from off duty to on point. Geared up and 10-8.
    ——Here’s an idea; each of you who care, pull an off duty shift at a school during the hours our kids are there.

    —MCSO, bring back Reserve Level local training opportunities.

    —Grand Jury needs to intervene to remove the current BOS. Inept every one of them. New candidates from each district chosen from a pool of names put forward by non partisan professionals and community groups.

  10. Marmon May 28, 2022

    If the Raiders give Colin Kaepernick a contract I’m moving to Canada.


  11. Stephen Rosenthal May 28, 2022

    Lots of even more enlightening content about wannabe Sheriff Trent James in today’s MCT. I made a comment earlier this week that bears repeating. Throughout its history, Mendocino County has had a fair share of shady characters, but Trent James is rapidly ascending up the list and will soon be near the top.

  12. Marmon May 28, 2022

    “It’s much easier to scream about guns than it is to demand answers about where our culture is failing.”

    -Ted Cruz


  13. John Sakowicz May 28, 2022

    Bruce McEwen, Stephen Rosenthal, et al, who are crammed into in that Volkswagen full of clowns on these AVA pages, let’s not forget why Trent James left the Willits PD.

    Willits PD is not all sweetness and light. I’ll put the following in caps, so you don’t miss it:


    A veteran law enforcement officer from San Diego, Alexis Blaylock, was sworn-in as the Chief of Willits Police Department on August 26, 2020. Just over one month later on October 8, Blaylock resigned. She sued in February.

    Who is Alexis Blaylock? She is a real cop.

    Alexis Blaylock graduated Summa Cum Laude from California State University San Marcos with a BA in Criminology and Justice Studies and holds several certifications.

    Alexis Blaylock came to the City of Willits with nearly thirty years of law enforcement experience in various capacities.

    She spent nearly 25 years as a sworn member of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) where she served both in patrol functions and in specialized assignments such as in dignitary protection, the border crime suppression team, internal affairs and juvenile services.

    She concurrently spent more than three years as an adjunct instructor teaching Police Investigative Report Writing for the San Diego Community College District.

    After retiring from the City of San Diego, Chief Blaylock joined the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) as a training consultant where she was responsible for state-wide police training programs and was the legislative affairs liaison. She left POST to become a public safety lieutenant at the University of Southern California (USC).

    During her time at USC, Blaylock assisted in getting legislation passed to benefit the public safety departments of private institutions of higher learning (AB2361, 2016), expanding their ability to protect their campus communities.

    While at USC, she also initiated leadership and diversity training to help officers be more effective leaders. She also developed a mentoring and coaching program at USC to help officers better perform their duties and prepare for advancement.

    In short, Alexis Baylock was too good for Willits. Blaylock was met with immediate hostility from subordinates openly resistant to a Black female Chief and who were opposed to accountability.

    Baylock was too good for any law enforcement agency in Mendocino County.

    • George Dorner May 28, 2022

      As I recall reading in this very paper, Ms. Blaylock had difficulties with Derek Hendry. Apparently, she was not allowed to discipline him for insubordination. And just who was responsible for that?

      • Lazarus May 28, 2022

        Those kinds of things come from the top. I would suspect the City Manager had something to do with it. Maybe the Council, but I doubt it.

  14. Marmon May 28, 2022

    “The Cheneys are die-hard globalists and warmongers who have been plunging us into new conflicts for decades.”

    Donald Trump rips Liz Cheney at the #SaveAmerica rally in Casper, Wyoming.



  15. chuck dunbar May 28, 2022


    As of early evening–maybe there’s more to come:

    One comment by Craig S.
    Seven comments by James M. ( From “TODAY’S MCT IS FULL OF CRAP” to a Donald Trump quote–maybe too much coffee today?)

    Who of these two will guide us toward enlightenment and bliss?

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