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HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT building across northern California will result in increasingly hot interior temperatures through midweek. Cool northerly winds will persist near the coast each afternoon. High pressure will likely keep northwest California dry throughout the week, with plentiful sunshine. (NWS)
THE SHAPIROS’ “VALLEY VIEW” PROPERTY in downtown Boonville is back on the table and under renewed consideration as a disbursement field for the treated wastewater the Boonville Planners are planning. A couple of months ago, the sons of the late realtor Mike Shapiro told the Community Services District project reps that they didn’t want to sell an easement to the District to provide a place for a treatment plant and distribution of the treated wastewater because they didn’t like the idea of “sewage” and they thought it might interfere with their future development plans for the 20-acre parcel (ten of which are in the floodplain of Anderson Creek and therefore not available for any structural development).
But in the last few weeks, discussions were renewed and the Shapiros have said they’re open to the possibility of selling the parcel to the CSD outright, if a fair price can be agreed on and if the State water board is amenable to the price.
CSD Board Chair Valerie Hanelt said she hopes to have an agreement to report in the next few months as discussions proceed. If successful, the project planners could then prepare the long-awaited “rate letter” based on the engineers’ cost estimates for the two parallel projects: drinking water and wastewater treatment systems.
If things pencil out and the water and treatment system estimated monthly rates are affordable, the projects could go to a vote next year, some eight years after the project was initiated.
SYMPHONY OF THE REDWOODS Presents a CELEBRATION CONCERT This Weekend - June 25 & 26
Featuring Abigail Strock, soprano
With guest conductor, Phillip Lenberg
Saturday, June 25, at 7:30 pm & Sunday, June 26, at 2:00 pm
at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg
A free pre-concert lecture begins one hour before the concert
Advance tickets may be purchased at Out of this World in Mendocino, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg or online at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Masks and proof of Covid-19 vaccination are required.
AV UNIFIED UPDATE
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
It continues to be difficult to wait for the results of Measure M, but we hope to have an update sometime this week. We heard “two weeks” the day after the election, so let’s hope that we have an update early this week!
In other news, Summer School Starts On Wednesday! We are looking forward to serving our students with robust academics AND activities at both sites! Thanks to Charlotte and Stefani for their work on these programs.
A huge shout out to our custodial, bus driver, and maintenance staff as they tackle the very LONG list of projects at both sites. The cafeteria and gym floor projects are huge, and we have been cleaning out the media lab to get it ready for paint. The elementary staff are working to detail all classrooms. Lots is going on and it is all hands on deck.
The HVAC construction timeline is underway, and the gym heater replacement is scheduled for July 6. The Septic Study is underway to see what type of system we would need, and prepare us to go for a permit. We are hoping to secure some federal funding which will give us a partial assist on that hefty expense.
We are drowning in grass maintenance. We need some help! If you know anyone that would be willing to donate some time to help (particularly with a ride-on mower), it would be much appreciated and make us fire safe.
Monday’s Board meeting is the public hearing on the LCAP and Budget. Then, the Board reconvenes on Thursday to take a vote on the items. If you would like to join us, please do with an open session schedule for 5:00 p.m. on Monday and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The meeting will be at the high school. Come to the classroom across from the library or here is the link: https://zoom.us/j/99252597554?pwd=ZUl4ZC9KOFk1Q2xEdisxQnpRbEpjZz09#success
I know the community suffered a loss of one of our graduates this week. Our thoughts and wishes for comfort are with the family as they navigate this very, very difficult time.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
ANDERSON VALLEY FOODBANK NEEDS YOUR HELP!
If you’re available, even occasionally, to help put boxes and bags into cars the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Philo Grange, from 2:30 to 5:30, email Robyn firstname.lastname@example.org
“Many hands make light work.” Come help us with this vital community service.
LINDA BAILEY TO THE SUPES
Subject: Tues BOS Consent Agenda 3Y
I note that Laytonville Branch Library is receiving a USDA grant—fantastic.
What I do not understand is the specific direction that the $6,000+ for furniture is to be listed as a County Asset. Did the county expend General Fund monies for the furniture? If not, why would this be a County Asset? Is this an avenue to justify extracting A-87 charges from dedicated Library funds?
I note, with alarm, that A-87 charges against the Library, wholly within the discretion of the BOS, have risen to $300,000+ in recent years. I wonder if this increase is due, in part, to the CEO assuming authority properly lodged with the County Librarian?. For full explanation of A-87 and the Library I refer you to the award-winning 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report.
Is this increase a consequence of the County in recent years treating the Library as a County Department? It is not a department. It is a dependent special district with the delineation of responsibilities set forth in state law. Its territory includes unincorporated and incorporated areas.
Right now, I ask that you remove items 3y from the Consent Calendar and get an explanation of why designation as “County Asset” was deemed desirable. I don’t think this is usual.
Long term, I request that the County Free Library System’s factual legal existence as a special district be reflected in all official County documents, e.g., agenda, budget, website.
HEALTH CARE DISTRICT MEETING: JUNE 20
Please join us:
The Mendocino Coast Health Care District will hold a Special Meeting, Monday, June 20
Closed Session at 5 PM, Open Session at 6 PM
Agenda @ : www.mchcd.org
Norman de Vall <email@example.com>
by Mark Scaramella
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN on Saturday introduced her latest version of why she supports a 3/8 cent sales tax for water and emergency services:
“…The Potter Valley Project and that ag resource is an imminent water resource concern. it’s been known for some decades that its likely time to raise Coyote Dam in a way that Mendocino County can retain more of that water resource. But I believe there are other water resource projects throughout the County including the need for improvements to the water system and storage in Mendocino, storage and desalination in Fort Bragg, storage and needed studies in the North County especially in Laytonville and Covelo, storage capacity and groundwater studies in Willits. There is truly a water resource need throughout the County, especially as we go into year three of the drought. We know that we lack housing in Mendocino County. We can’t add additional housing without water. We know that since the devastating fires of 2017 Mendocino County has not had a year where wildfire didn't impact our County in some capacity. Our local fire departments are generally first on scene to a myriad of hazard types and provide year round protection to life, property and the environment. If there is a fire in Brooktrails we have Hopland and Redwood Valley Fire there, our Coast fire districts respond throughout the County. Our fire districts are severely underfunded and face ever growing mandates. In short as far as Fire Resources are concerned BBQ's and Bake Sales aren't going to cut it.”
This is Supervisor Mulheren’s main argument for a 3/8 cent sales tax measure to be put on November’s ballot by the Supervisors at the same time as a 1/4 cent Library sales tax.
Let’s break it down.
“…The Potter Valley Project and that ag resource is an imminent water resource concern. it’s been known for some decades that its likely time to raise Coyote Dam in a way that Mendocino County can retain more of that water resource.”
The Potter Valley is listed first and is the only item she’s relatively specific about. So presumably it’s a priority. While her other items are all vague and as yet unspecified even by the local agencies in the areas mentioned who have not submitted one idea for water storage projects (except the Mendocino storage tanks that are five years off and which the County had nothing to do with). The Potter Valley project is loaded with money-sucking overhead costs and even in the best of circumstances will not produce any more storage for years if not decades. What makes the Supervisor think that throwing some sales tax money at it will make any difference?
As Supervisor Gjerde noted, if the Potter Valley project was so important, why hasn’t the Potter Valley Irrigation District been charging enough for water themselves to build up a water storage fund? Could it be because for as long as anybody can remember they’ve preferred to just give away water to Potter Valley grape growers for “virtually nothing”?
To this day they still expect Countywide taxpayers to fork over more money to subsidize them and their cheap water. Does Supervisor Mulheren think it’s fair to ask all of Mendo to fund something Potter Valley refuses to even consider for themselves?
“I believe there are other water resource projects throughout the County…”
Name one. When the County put out a call for such “drought emergency” projects last fall, nobody came up with anything.
“…including the need for improvements to the water system and storage in Mendocino, storage and desalination in Fort Bragg…”
The projects in these towns are already underway and do not need any sales tax money and they were put forward not by the County, but by the locals in those areas.
“…storage and needed studies in the North County especially in Laytonville and Covelo, storage capacity and groundwater studies in Willits…”
“Studies”? Studies of what? What storage projects are out there that will be moved forward with as yet unfunded “studies”?
“…There is truly a water resource need throughout the County, especially as we go into year three of the drought. We know that we lack housing in Mendocino County. We can’t add additional housing without water.”
A statement of the obvious, not a reason for a new sales tax.
The Anderson Valley Community Services District has been working diligently on a very small state-grant funded water project on its own since 2015 and has yet to propose a project, mainly due to environmental study requirements (no environmental issues identified) and the number of options that had to be considered. What has been done so far has been done with state planning grants (not sales tax revenues) because locals pushed for this specific project in this specific area. And they still don’t even have a grant application for the project itself.
“…Our fire districts are severely underfunded and face ever growing mandates. In short as far as Fire Resources are concerned BBQ's and Bake Sales aren't going to cut it.”
If that is true, and it obviously is, why didn’t the Supervisor or the County make any effort — none — to honor Measure AJ which said that more than half of pot tax revenues were supposed to go to emergency services, roads, mental health and enforcement?
In effect, Supervisor Mulheren and a couple of her colleagues, one a full-fledged member of the Cheap Water Mafia, wants voters to vote a sales tax on themselves to the tune of millions of additional dollars a year, and trust that the County will follow vague promises that it might be spent on the areas the Supervisor mentions and not just dumped into the general fund for whatever the Board wants to spend it on.
* * *
POTTER VALLEY GRAPE GROWER, and lead advocate for their Cheap Water Mafia, Janet Pauli denies that her Irrigation District gives water away. (From a report by Monica Huettl on the recent County drought task force):
“Pauli also commented on behalf of the Potter Valley Irrigation District, addressing criticism that they have been ‘giving away’ water. This is not true. Customers pay PVID $22 per acre foot. Many users downstream (not in the District) have not paid PGE at all for water. A regional entity needs to be formed so that all users will pay fairly. The district doesn’t have enough funds to take over the Potter Valley Project and needs to work with other water users to ensure future water stability.”
Oh yes, it is true that the irrigation district gives away water for, as Supervisor Dan Gjerde noted, “virtually nothing.” Unfortunately for Ms. Pauli, the Potter Valley Irrigation District’s own rate chart belies her claim:
As the chart shows, they’ve only recently even raised it to $21.50 per acre-foot (325,000 gallons). As far as forming a regional entity “so that all users will pay fairly,” Ms. Pauli and her fellow Cheap Water Mafia members were dead set against Supervisor John Pinches’ attempt to do just that back in 2010. They made it clear that they didn’t want to get involved in reviewing water rates and Sonoma County’s water grab for fear it might lead to higher water rates for the Cheap Water Mafia.
* * *
WHERE’S THAT MEASURE B REPORT?
On March 15, just before the big send off for former CEO Carmel Angelo, Supervisor Dan Gjerde asked Behavioral Health Director Dr. Jenine Miller to return to the Board with a report of insurance providers and their willingness to cover Mendo’s mental health clients and their services as provided by Redwood Community Services. (It turns out the Schraeders don’t just get Mendo’s $20-$30 million a year for adult and children’s mental health treatment under MediCal and MediCare plus realignment money for the semi-criminal aspects of their care, plus a full range of other add-on related services that the Schraeders are the only local source for. No, not just that; they also have some unknown number of private customers, insurance companies that pay top dollar, assuming Redwood Quality Management Services, now including (or renamed to, we’re not sure) Anchor Health Rehabilitation Center*, has a negotiated rate-contract with them.
Dr. Miller said she would add that topic to her May 3rd presentation.
But there was no May 3rd Measure B presentation, much less a report about insurance providers.
And there’s no mention of Gjerde’s request or Dr. Miller’s promise in the March 15 minutes either.
* From KZYX’s report on the Schraeders’ new Anchor Health Rehab Center: “…Redwood Quality Management Company, which oversees the county’s mental healthcare contracts, is planning a 16-bed Medi-Cal certified mental health rehabilitation center for the acutely mentally ill, a block from the critical [sic, they mean crisis] residential treatment facility, which is fully built but not yet serving clients (as of March 31, 2022). Camille Schraeder, the Chief Programs Officer for RQMC, thinks the Medi-Cal funded center, which she hopes to open in late 2024, will free up more money that the county can use for other mental healthcare services…”
* * *
According to the latest (June 2022) CEO Report: “The design for the Parking Improvement Project along Low Gap Road between Probation and GSA is complete and will be out to bid in June 2022 for completion prior to start of the Jail Expansion Project.”
Also: “The West Campus Fiber optic build-out to extend the 10 gig fiber to each of the jail facilities and the GSA building prior to beginning the Jail Expansion Project design is complete and will be out for bid in June of 2022.
It’s already late in June and we have yet to hear of these projects going out to bid.
PUBLIC NOT BUYING SUPES’ SALES TAX PROPOSAL
by Jim Shields
In last week’s column I explained that three Supervisors, Ted Williams, Mo Mulheren, and Glenn McGourty, are planning to place a sales tax measure on the November ballot. The stated purpose of their proposed sales tax is to provide funding for local fire departments and a resurrected county water agency.
To their credit and recognizing that County citizens are enduring tough economic times, Supes John Haschak and Dan Gjerde are opposed to their colleagues’ misguided and ill-advised proposal.
There is absolutely no question that local fire departments, especially in the area of providing life-saving ambulance services, must receive additional funding, as it is a past, present and ongoing top priority. No argument there.
Keep in mind though that each town’s Friends of the Library groups have planned since 2019 to place a sales tax measure on the November ballot, a move that the Supervisors were not only aware of but tacitly encouraged. As pointed out in an editorial by the Ukiah Daily Journal this past Sunday, “A proposal pitting libraries against fire services is not fair and any ballot with two tax measures on it will likely see voters saying no to both.”
Also, as I’ve informed you previously, I’ve been serving on a steering committee that’s been dealing with the re-establishment of a county water agency, but I do not support funding an agency that has no defined organizational structure and purpose. It is currently an unfinished work-in-progress. Succinctly stated, the proposed sales tax measure is both premature and bereft of any broad-based public support at this time.
Far and wide the reception from the public is they don’t trust the Supervisors with this unguided missile of a sales tax. I’m also hearing that the cities of Fort Bragg and Willits are not on-board with the proposal.
This week, Willits Mayor Saprina Rodriguez sent the Supervisors an email broadly outlining all of the many reasons why the tax proposal is an idea whose time has not come.
I couldn’t agree more with Mayor Rodriguez if I’d written the letter myself.
Here’s her analysis on the proposed tax measure and advice to the Supervisors.
I didn’t respond late Thursday night to the tax proposal information because I wanted to digest the information Saturday and Sunday and talk to constituents about what they would support. I heard an overwhelming “No” for several reasons.
#1 The first phrase of the tax measure says, “Measure __ Sales Tax is unrestricted general fund revenue, by this resolution, the County intends to use these revenues for fire protection and water resiliency projects.”
The Public does not like unrestricted. “Intends” means little to constituents as Supervisors change with time. An advisory Board is meaningless if they have no real power. The County has a history of forming advisory Boards that have expressed the feeling they have no true value. They appear to be more of a formality. Also in that phrase it states, “essential services”. To most people this means: whatever the Supervisors deem important.
#2 The Supervisors made a promise to the library. An additional sales tax puts the library tax at risk. You can say that they are not competing, but it’s not true. The reality is that voters may be completely turned off by more taxes during a difficult economic time. Is now really the best time to tax people further or offer relief?
#3 The PEOPLE put forth signatures to put the library tax on the ballot. THE PEOPLE did not submit signatures for this proposed tax. This was derived from government.
#4 When was the needs assessment performed to decide what funding level was needed for any of these ideas? My constituents feel the idea of throwing “Fire Funds” in an unrestricted ballot measure is a way of preying on their fears. We have heard no logical argument presented relevant to the needs and shortfall of EACH Fire Department. For example, which local communities have already invested in their fire departments with a special tax? How much tax? Any Fire district would be happy to get more tax money, but when is too much taxes too much? We want a comprehensive plan of what the money would be spent on and know that all districts are already contributing in similar ways to support their local fire departments,
#5 My constituents don’t buy into the water theory. The City of Willits residents are already paying a high cost for water infrastructure. We made the investment and are paying for it. Now you want us to pay again to help others who are unwilling or planned poorly? Why should we all pay for Potter Valley water when those living there pay so little for the water they currently use? Check out the water rates. Maybe the first step should be to raise rates there. There was mention of storage capacity in Willits. We believe this was thrown in to include us. We have already allocated funds for another water storage tank. We are not fooled into thinking this funding is really aimed at helping our community. We want to be good neighbors but we want our neighbors to pay their fair share first, then we can all contribute a second round.
#6 What’s in it for the County? Will part of these funds be used to subsidize current salaries as they take on additional administrative duties and thus reduce the burden on the general fund? Many are suspicious of Politics at play here for a special group. Why are Supervisors taking on this mountain at a time when they should be focused on bigger budgetary issues? Some don’t understand why the County Supervisors are pushing an issue that has so little support.
These are just a few of the arguments I and others have heard.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
On Friday, June 17, 2022 at approximately 11:48 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a report of illegal camping with a warming fire in the 5600 block of East Side Calpella Road in Ukiah.
The fire was observed by neighboring residents who ultimately reported it to law enforcement.
Deputies arrived and located Richard Cauckwell, 59, of Ukiah, next to a fire which had several orange embers, and burnt sticks within a couple feet of several bushes. The hot embers were within a couple of feet of surrounding dry bushes and trees.
Cauckwell's clothing was also charred from the fire he had built. Deputies believed Cauckwell's clothes were burnt from him not cautiously attending to the fire. Cauckwell was in possession of a torch style lighter which was used to start the fire.
It should be noted, burning in Mendocino County was banned as of Monday, June 13, 2022 per CalFire. It should also be noted this incident occurred near the 2021 Hopkins Fire that burned down several structures and homes within its footprint.
Cauckwell was placed under arrest for Felony Recklessly Causing Fire to Forest Land and Misdemeanor Carelessly Starting a Fire.
Cauckwell was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
On Friday, June 17, 2022 at about 1:18 AM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on routine patrol when he noticed a vehicle with a non-functioning reverse lamp backing out of a parking space in the 7700 block of North State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputy conducted a traffic stop and contacted the two occupants in the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Nicholas Britton, 32, of Ukiah and the passenger was an adult female.
The Deputy conducted a records check on both subjects and found Britton was on formal probation with terms to obey all laws and submit to search.
A search of the vehicle was conducted. On the driver side floorboard was a clear plastic bag containing suspected controlled substance; which was in violation of his probation terms.
The Deputy arrested Britton for Felony Violation of Probation and Misdemeanor Possession of a Controlled Substance. Britton was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a No Bail status.
TATTOOS, AN ON-LINE COMMENT: It’s weird to me that there are so many people living criminal lifestyles who also get tats like this. It’s very unprofessional and well…frankly…it’s stupid as can be. Tats like this scream “stupid” to me…not scary or intimidating except that stupid people do stupid and unprofessional things and you don’t want to be anywhere near that unpredictable shit show…It’s weird that such a publicly advertised declaration of stupidity became a fad. Similar to the pet rocks fad except those you can just wake up and throw away!
Warmest spiritual greetings,
Am voluntarily continuing to bottom-line the trash & recycling chore at Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California. Enjoying long walks here in the Mendocino county seat, eating well, and fully knowing that "the real you is not affected by anything at all".
The dental appointments are on June 24th and 29th, at different clinics. Beyond this, I am available for spiritually focused direct action. What more need I say?
There is an awareness of the mind's activity, and an awareness of the body's functioning. Jivan Muktas always identify with that which is prior to consciousness. How are you??
Craig Louis Stehr
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 19, 2022
IRVING ACEVES-LIZARRAGA, Willits. Probation revocation.
JADINE DENOON, Ukiah. DUI.
BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Ukiah. Trespassing-refusing to leave. (Frequent flyer.)
LOGAN DUNLAP, Comptche. DUI.
JOSHUA KOEPPEL, Willits. DUI.
KEVIN LEONARD, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
JORDAN MAGDALENO, Ukiah. Vandalism.
RAEMY MARCEE, Ukiah. Controlled substance, fugitive from justice.
JARED RAYMOND, Willits. Shoplifting, controlled substance, paraphernalia, forgery, false personation of another.
RICHARD SMITH, San Leandro/Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy.
TERESA THIES, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
JONATHAN THOMPSON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, 19 JUNE
British troops must 'prepare to fight in Europe again', army chief warns
Grandmother of captured Briton facing death penalty says 'time is running out' to free him
Russian troops advancing towards Kharkiv again
Russian units facing armed stand-offs with their officers, MoD says
Two Azovstal commanders transferred to Russia for investigation
Boris Johnson says we 'need to steel ourselves for a long war'
— Sky News
GOUGING & COLLUSION
When my president renames exorbitant gas prices as “Putin’s gas tax,” he disguises the corporate gouging that the petroleum industry is bragging about in financial journals. Consumers cannot select alternative providers (even at the same price) to register their disapproval.
Jimmy Carter was savaged and finished as president for the Windfall Profits Act during the 1970s, which reclaimed money wrested from consumers by the petroleum industry, which receives bountiful tax cuts borne by consumers.
Given the pandemic and economic turmoil, wouldn’t it be patriotic of them to absorb some losses and sell below market value to American consumers during these difficult times?
Furthermore, why is no one investigating possible price-fixing collusion designed to fret consumers so they replace “regulating” Democrats with “free-market” Republicans?
Such a strategy would end our republic, empowering the party dedicated to false claims about stolen elections and systematically replacing voting officials with partisans who will do their bidding. Unless Democrats refuse to be distracted by inflation, guns and Ukraine (each critical), we will no longer have a republic with which to address any issues.
WHEN THE LIES COME HOME
“There are brief moments of clarity inside the Washington establishment. Having lied prolifically for months to the American public about the origins and conduct of the war in Ukraine, the media are now preparing the American, British, and other Western publics for Ukraine’s military collapse. It is long overdue.
…Only the episodic infusion of U.S. and allied weapons kept Kiev’s battered legions in the field; legions that are now dying in great numbers thanks to Washington’s proxy war.
Kiev’s war with Moscow is lost. Ukrainian forces are being bled white. Trained replacements do not exist in sufficient numbers to influence the battle, and the situation grows more desperate by the hour. No amount of U.S. and allied military aid or assistance short of direct military intervention by U.S. and NATO ground forces can change this harsh reality.”
MY ENTIRE LIFE, I honestly have no idea who the hell I am. It's still that way. I look at myself as just another idiot wandering planet Earth with no real idea what makes this world go 'round, no particular identity, just another lost soul.
— James Patterson
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I was recently told (by a woman who is a professional life coach to the elderly) that falls are perhaps the number one danger to elderly people. A broken bone almost always leads to rapid decline and often death.
In fact, this woman advised me that I should throw my clogs in the trash, as they are so unstable as to pose a risk of falls in older people. The shoes she suggested I get were the kind worn by people who run marathons, specifically the HOKA brand. (She favored the Bondi line.) This was because my feet and knees were killing me from standing and walking on concrete all day at farmers’ markets. The good shoes are a big help.
The main take-away from this whole discussion is that elderly people should NOT do ANYTHING that poses the risk of a fall. Whoever is putting Biden on a bicycle has a pretty cavalier attitude towards the guy’s health, to say the least.
THE PUPIL is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.
— Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
If you have a dog it will get old, and after that it will get really old and you’ll find yourself in the funny position of having your dog “put down.”
Today is not like the old days when a flea-ridden hound would eventually crawl under the front porch, expire, and hopefully not make too much of an aroma about it. Or back when dogs roamed in packs, and when it came time the healthy canines would place sick, elderly dogs on small icebergs and let them float out to sea. I read that somewhere.
But now we’re deep into a civilized era, and when your dog can barely walk, sleeps 23 hours a day and looks like a ragged, poorly stuffed imitation of the dog you used to know, but that had a lot less white around the muzzle, it will be time for you to make a call.
It will be time for you to hire a hitman.
I’m sorry. I meant an individual licensed by the state who is qualified to put a dog, cat, or maybe even a goldfish or parakeet, “to sleep.” Otherwise known as a veterinarian. It might be easier using the Mafia.
You of course talk it over with your spousal unit or a friend before making the call to the vet. Then every time you get near the phone you stop, take a deep breath, and decide you have to talk about it some more.
Because here’s the deal: This might be the only time you will ever be invested with the powers of terminating a life. In years past you might have found your goldfish floating in his bowl or your parakeet still warm on the bottom his cage.
Oh well. Them’s the breaks. Down the toidy for Mister Finny, and out behind the garage with a trowel for Tweety Pie.
Your dog is different. Your dog isn’t a hamster. Your dog doesn’t roam in a pack, and you don’t have a front porch with a dusty crawl space under it. You have to select a time and date for your dog’s execution. That makes you Grand Lord Omnipotent, Decider of Fates, Executioner of Dogs.
So you talk some more. This involves weighing pros vs. cons, the sweet sentiments vs. harsh realities. You and your confidante want the same thing, but it keeps changing, because Look!! Look how alert she is and how happy she is to get a handful of crunchies!
With those encouraging noises your dog attempts to stand but she no longer has four usable legs and tries to get up with two. The result is a broken pile of exhausted dog splayed out on the linoleum. Maybe it is time.
By now the dog is beyond the reach of pain medications, water therapy and other gimmicks like acupuncture or complicated CBD potions recommended by vegetarians. By now you have begun to take serious stock of the predicament poor Chipper finds himself in. Which, in a word or two is Old Age, and is irreversible, incontestable and moving fast. Your dog is going to die, and it’s up to you to make the call that is best for the poor beast.
So you make the phone call. The vet asks when you want to do this, and what are you supposed to say? Tomorrow? A month? Morning of the 14th?
Doctor Vet says no, that day’s booked, so another date gets suggested but your wife has to be out of town that day so you decide you’ll have to call back and when you put down the phone your armpits are soaking wet and you need a drink.
So it’s weird, picking out the right time to kill a dog who has brought so much happiness and comfort to you through the years. And your still-sentient dog also wonders, thinks this is my payback? For trusting you over the last dozen years? Swell friend you are.
You put off calling the vet back. Maybe the dog will get better you tell yourself, or maybe even cured, but that’s no more likely than Joe Biden getting better or cured.
On the appointed day the vet shows up with an assistant. You cannot possibly be prepared for Marmaduke to be dead in 15 minutes. The governor won’t call because you’re the only one with the power to pardon, and that hurdle was cleared weeks ago.
How do you bid farewell to a best friend over the next 12 minutes? A process that seemed to be stretching out far too long is suddenly collapsing around your ears, and a frantic feeling dawns that it’s you abandoning your dog, not the other way around.
But Buttercup, who just weeks ago would at least have warned you with a bark or two that the vet was tapping at the door, now lies silent on the floor like a bearskin rug at a ski lodge.
If you’ve got a dog this is coming your way. Your dog is getting old. Next it will get really old.
I hope you enjoy your role as Grand Omnipotent Executioner.
‘I NEED A BOOK’
It is not often that I reach out for assistance, especially in a public forum such as this. So please forgive my manners as I express the following:
My name is Alan Crow and I am currently housed in solitary confinement in Mendocino County's jail. It is through the editor's gracious generosity that I receive the Anderson Valley Advertiser.
I ask that someone with that same generosity send me a book or two to occupy my time in isolation. If I could be so bold as to request a specific author, I would choose Nelson DeMille, Robert McCammon or classic rock band autobiographies. You do not have to include your name or address as books must come to me directly from the publisher. Bargainbooks.com has some good deals. I am enclosing my address in hopes it find its way to a person who relates to what I am dealing with here in isolation or perhaps someone who just wants to restore some karmic balance in their life.
Again, please forgive my manners and may God bless each and every one of you.
Alan Crow A# 6325
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
PS. A special shout out to Mr. Cameron Whitlock! The first real friend I recall ever having. You remain in my thoughts and prayers 'Rock.' I miss you and send my love.
With all due respect to you and your newspaper, Bruce, I am compelled to say what cannot be said; write that which cannot be written.
I shall confess that I have monthly charge to a credit card for the International Rescue Committee, which provides humanitarian relief for the refugees from Ukraine.
My ideas have been percolating for the past several months. In the past few days both the head of NATO and the British Minister of Defense have expressed the notion that the Russo/Ukraine War might very well go on for years into the future.
This is an unacceptable, intolerable forecast. And must be resisted world-wide. The world, especially the United States, must be finished with perpetuating "Forever Wars". Period. Full stop. Regardless of the parties that are being touted to eventually benefit.
The only entities who profit from a Forever War in Ukraine are Raytheon, Martin Marietta, Grumann and other defense contractors. Sophisticated military ordinance alone in insufficient to save Ukraine.
Pundits wiser than I posit a narrow menu of resolutions to the current conflict in Ukraine. None strongly envision a Ukrainian victory. So be it.
So how does the modern world work its way out of this violent impasse? This Morass?
Henry Kissinger -- and I am loathe to (even) mention his name -- suggested a land-for-peace settlement, whereby Ukraine cedes Russia the Donbas region (which Russia currently occupies almost all of) in exchange for a cease fire. Might sound a bit too much like Chamberlain at Munich to some, but it is Realpolitik in the (slimy) flesh.
What the world should want in Ukraine is a cease fire. What President Zelinsky should want, is a cease fire.
That's one option. The other...
NATO puts on its Big Boy Britches and commits troops on the ground and planes in the air. Bomb'em back into the stone age. Teach them a lesson about military superiority they will be telling their grandchildren. BOOM! And BOOM! again. Until the Russians learn in the hardest way that you don't F around with NATO in its back yard.
The United States and NATO have committed multiple mistakes in dealing with Putin's Russia. What we learned in crisis intervention training back in the 1960s was, among others, "Never threaten a paranoid". Putin is just that. Think DJT with the launch codes.
Wanna call his nuclear bluff? I don't. And Yet...
Ukraine without Donbas is still Ukraine.
It's land for peace or Forever War or NATO marches in and cleans it out/up.
What's your choice? Pick it.
Make lots of noise about this.
Not another Forever War. Ever.
This has not become the America we wanted it to be. Fought for us to be. Foreign or Domestically.
THE SEASON OF THE WITCH
by Herb Caen
No, I don't know what it means. “The season of the witch” — neatly printed in white chalk on the wall opposite Fifth at Market. This is the wall of graffiti that first gave us “Ecology — The Last Fad,” a chilling piece of writing. And “Support the blind — they're out of sight.” Not an obscenity to be seen. Just general nastiness, such as “Happiness is a new governor.”
Religion is very much with us here on the scorched and steamy side of Everybody's Favorite City. “Praise Jesus, praise Jesus,” chanted the old black man in his sackcloth robes. He is wearing a wooden sandwich board on which is written, “America, come back to God.” On sidewalk newsstands wooden plaques implore, “Don't go to Hell's fire, Jesus loves you.” “You are entering wino country,” reads a chalked inscription on the sidewalk. The old black lady with the Aunt Jemima kerchief is huddled on the stone steps, covering herself with newspapers. Shivering in the heat. There is enough irony there to make you shiver with her, for she is on the steps of the United States mint, sick and penniless.
The wailing wall. You stand there in the smoggy air and go on reading it, dizzy in a miasma of patchouli oil, sweat and poverty. “You think police are bad? — try calling a hippie,” somebody has chalked. The meaning has changed: Somebody has inserted the word “one” after “calling.” Okay, try calling one a hippie. “Rock's Grass is Beat Grass,” reads another inscription. I don't dig it. Is the grass good or bad? In black letters he has written, “For a cop not to be aggressive is fatal to you and others. Think a minute.”
Out there in the middle of the street the new folk heroes, the hard hats, are lounging on their equipment. They look relaxed and should. Their jobs will go on forever. They demonstrate their virility by making loud cracks at passing girls in tight pants. The Silent Majority has found its voice, but the girls look straight ahead, pretending not to hear.
Back at the wall I read the white chalked words: “Herb Cain” — sic-sic-sick — “is still over there and I know that the paranoia exist between him and that funny paper.” Yeah. “It's all part of the total experience.”
Oh, there are stirring sights to see if you don't get mugged, slugged, bugged or jugged. At Fifth and Mission, the cap is off the fire hydrant and water gushes into the gutter alongside the Pickwick Hotel's trees that are dying for lack of it. The newsboy with the ratchet voice crouches in his wooden stand listening to blaring rock music as his headlines go unsung — headlines that tell of the death of kings and the triumphs of Herr Kissinger.
You sidle along the wall past the pale young girls carrying pale babies who look older than their mothers. Two young beards fall into a conversation. “Hey, how you fixed for grass?” “Depends. You buyin' or sellin'?” “I'm selling, man.” “Well, so am I.” They split. Around the corner the flower stand with its corsages wrapped in foil looks as dated as the gambler who stopped to buy one for his henna-headed girl. A better looking girl whispers coarsely: “How about a little fun, baby?” But the Adam's apple gives him away. In front of Bank of America at No.1 Powell, the sweet faced lady so proper in her neat gray coat and hat is selling 'Awake' and 'The Watchtower.' I've seen her for years. I've never seen her sell one. But she goes on smiling blankly at a world she can't possibly understand.
“The Season of the Witch,” it says there on the wall. I don't understand it, but it makes sense.
THE TRIUMPH OF DEATH
The global ruling class is cementing into place a world where they govern without accountability, we are reduced to serfdom, the climate crisis accelerates, and mass death is normalized.
by Chris Hedges
It is hard to be sanguine about the future. The breakdown of the ecosystem is well documented. So is the refusal of the global ruling elite to pursue measures that might mitigate the devastation. We accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels, wallow in profligate consumption, including our consumption of livestock, and make new wars as if we are gripped by a Freudian death wish. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Conquest, War, Famine and Death – gallop into the 21st century.
Those who rule, servants of corporations and the global billionaire class, accompany the suicidal folly by cementing into place corporate tyranny. The plan is not to reform. It is to perpetuate the corporate pillage. This pillage, more and more onerous for the global population, necessitates a new totalitarianism, one where the billionaire class lives in opulence, workers are serfs, rights such as privacy and due process are abolished, Big Brother watches us all the time, war is the chief business of the state, dissent is criminalized and those displaced by conflicts and climate breakdown are barred entry into the climate fortresses in the global north. Portions of the human species, the most privileged, will, in theory, hold out a little longer before they succumb to the great die off.
The persecuted and the abandoned, now in the tens of millions, know the future. For them, the future has already arrived. Julian Assange, the most important publisher of our generation, whose extradition to the US was approved on Friday by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel, is an example of what will befall all publishers and journalists that expose the inner workings of power. His imprisonment for revealing the war crimes, mendacity, cynicism, and corruption of the ruling class, including the Democratic Party, heralds a new era. Investigations into the centers of power, the life blood of journalism, will be a criminal offense.
It does not matter that Assange, who suffered a stroke and is in poor physical and psychological health, is not a U.S. citizen or that WikiLeaks is not a US-based publication. It does not matter that all of Assange’s meetings with his attorneys were recorded by UC Global, the Spanish security firm at the Ecuadorian Embassy where Assange lived for seven years, and turned over to the US, obliterating attorney-client privilege. The campaign against Assange, and I have sat in on hearings in London, is a Dickensian farce, the persecution of an innocent and heroic man, far more reminiscent of the Lubyanka than the best of British jurisprudence. He is being used to send a message — if you expose what we do we will destroy you.
Workers, whether in the vast sweatshops in China or the decayed ruins of the rust belt, struggle on subsistence wages without job protection or unions. They are cursed by trade deals, deindustrialization, austerity, rising interest rates and rising prices. They, too, know the future.
The decision to raise interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, with new rate hikes on the way, will further depress wages, which have stagnated for decades, increase unemployment and personal debt and make food and other basic necessities more expensive. Raising interest rates usually induces a recession. But the oligarchs are more than willing to extract blood from the working class. Inflation reduces investment returns. It disrupts leveraged financial strategies.
Prices are not rising because of wages. They are rising because of supply shortages and price gouging by corporations and oil conglomerates. US corporations posted their biggest profit growth in decades by raising prices during the pandemic. Corporate pretax profits rose last year by 25 percent to $2.81 trillion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s the largest annual increase since 1976, according to the Federal Reserve. When taxes are included, last year’s corporate profit rose to 37 percent, more than any other time since the Fed began tracking profits in 1948.
Antitrust laws and breaking up monopolies would ease the strain of inflation and lower prices. Rationing would break inflation. So would a wage-price freeze. Nationalization, reversing the capture of public utilities, the health care system, banking, and other services by corporations, would also blunt price rises. But the billionaire class is not about to impose measures that diminish their profits. They will keep their monopolies. They will keep their grip on what were once public assets. The message from the billionaire class is this: the economy is run for our benefit, not yours.
Ukrainians, enduring a war of attrition with the infusion of tens of billions of dollars of weapons from the US and Europe, know the future. War is the chief business of the state. It enriches the arms industry. It expands the military budget. The US now sends $130 million a day in military aid and assistance to Ukraine, part of the $55 billion in aid promised by Washington.
The US, struggling with societal breakdown and an ailing economy, sees its military as the only mechanism left to destroy global competitors, especially Russia and China. Russia, hemmed in by an expanding NATO in Central and Eastern Europe, and China harassed by a succession of carrier groups in the South China Sea, which Washington has called a “national interest,” have been united as US adversaries. China sees the waterways of Asia and the Pacific as part of its sphere of influence, as Russia sees Ukraine and other neighboring states. The aggressive military posturing of the US on the borders of China and Russia has provoked an unnecessary cold war, one many Washington policy makers nonchalantly expect may evolve into a hot war amongst nuclear armed nations that would potentially obliterate life on the planet.
There is an intensifying scramble for control, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s building of air bases from Japan to Australia along the Asian littoral, giving it the ability to attack warships, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific. The refusal of the U.S. to accommodate itself to a multipolar world and to chase the chimera of unrivaled global hegemony has seen Russia and China solidify an alliance, an alliance cold warriors worked hard to prevent. The hostilities, a self-fulfilling prophecy by U.S. warmongers, delights the Washington establishment whose goal is to perpetuate endless war.
You know you are in trouble when Henry Kissinger, who has called for Ukraine to cede territory to Russia and open negotiations with Moscow “in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome,” is a voice of sanity.
Despotic governments need an enemy to justify the repression of dissidents, the reduction and cancellation of social programs and the iron control of information. Wars justify the unjustifiable -- black sites, kidnapping, torture, targeted assassinations, censorship, and arbitrary detention -- off-the-book war crimes. War induces a state of perpetual paranoia and fear. It demands mass obedience.
“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous,” George Orwell writes in 1984. “Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”
The message of endless war is – if you defy the ruling class, the militarists and the government, you are a traitor.
The 140 million people across the globe suffering from acute hunger, a result of the pandemic, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine, know the future, along with the families of the 15 million people who died from the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of whom with proper prevention and medical care could have been saved. The refugees fleeing failed states and climate disasters – there could be 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050 – in the global south know the future.
The message imparted to the poor, the vulnerable, the sick and the weak is this: your lives and the lives of your children do not matter.
The oligarchs in the Democratic Party and the establishment wing of the Republican Party are aware they are in political trouble. Is it due to Russian meddling? Is it due to Donald Trump and his proto-fascist minions? Is it caused by journalists and publishers like Assange who give them a bad name? Is it a failure of messaging? Is it a lack of rigorous censorship of the far-right and leftist critics?
The Democratic Party, now united with the establishment Republican Party, is flailing around for a solution. They are bankrolling far right candidates in the Republican primaries , a tactic that backfired on Hillary Clinton when her campaign worked during the primaries to promote Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Retrograde Republicans, de facto members of the Democratic Party because they voted to impeach Trump, are being lionized as true patriots, as if they can lure people away from Trump and Trump-like clones. Robert Reich, along with other Democratic leaders, argues that Rep. Cheney – who voted for Trump policies 93 percent of the time as a member of the House but now looks set to lose her bid for reelection in Wyoming – has "demonstrated more courage and integrity than any other politician in America" and might just be "the best president of the United States for the perilous time we're entering." Jonathan V. Last, in an article headlined “Mike Pence is an American Hero” in The Atlantic, writes that Pence “did more to protect democracy — both on January 6 and since — than any other person inside the Trump administration.”
Perhaps the expected Supreme Court ruling that will overturn Roe v. Wade will work in their favor. Perhaps the televised hearings on the January 6th assault on the Capitol, an extended campaign commercial, will convince voters to support them. Perhaps the promise of more stringent gun laws will excite the electorate.
What can we expect from a party leadership that believed Michael Bloomberg, who has switched allegiance between the Democratic and Republican parties several times, would save them from progressives such as Bernie Sanders? What can we expect from a party leadership that anointed Joe Biden, who spent his political career dispossessing working men and women, building the world’s largest prison system, militarizing police, destroying the welfare system and funding military fiascos in the Middle East, as president?
The Biden administration is defined by failed expectations, from its stymied Build Back Better Plan to its refusal to raise the minimum wage. It is running on fumes, using gimmicks, empty rhetoric, spectacle and fear to intimidate the electorate.
The descent is pathetic to watch, reminiscent of the moment Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu tried desperately to placate an unruly crowd from the Balcony of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Romania building by offering to raise pension and family allowance by $2 a month. He and his wife were executed four days later. The discredited East German Communist Party, which like the Romanian revolution I also covered as a reporter, made similar empty gestures, promising to open its closed party headquarters to the public long after anyone cared.
The billionaire class, or at least many of them, would prefer to loot and pillage under the cover of the old political decorum and rhetoric. They like the fiction of paying homage to an emasculated democracy. It gives them the veneer of respectability.
But this is not to be. The rage of the betrayed is articulated by imbecilic demagogues vomited up from the social and political swamp. Corporations and the billionaire class will continue to exploit, but under a cruder and crueler authoritarianism. The social, political, economic, and environmental breakdown will accelerate. Reality, increasingly unpalatable, will cease to exist in public discourse. It will be replaced by Millenarian cults, such as the Christian fascists, and bizarre conspiracy theories, a retreat into magical thinking where evil is embodied in demonized individuals and groups that must be eradicated. Truth and lies will be indistinguishable. The vulnerable will be cast aside, blamed for their own misery, as well as ours. Those who resist will be criminals. Mass death will sweep across the planet. This is the world our children will inherit unless those who control us are wrenched from power.