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INTERIOR HEAT will peak this weekend, followed by some slight cooling early next week. Cooler temperatures and periods of stratus are expected for coastal areas. (NWS)
ON THURSDAY, June 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court rejected the Mendocino Railways (i.e., Skunk Train) appeal, upholding local Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan’s decision saying that the Skunk is not a public utility. (Case #S275132)
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Adriane Nicolaisen, firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of our family, we write to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for those involved in responding to our brother’s suicide from the Noyo Bridge on June 7, 2022. We are still in the process of reconciling ourselves to the fact that he is gone, and the traumatic circumstances in which his death occurred. It is not lost on us that we are not the only ones that feel the trauma, and hope that this letter may provide some comfort to the responders who may also be suffering.
Our brother lived with schizophrenia. With the help of medication, his symptoms were controlled, such that he was able to work and live similar to the rest of us - he was smart, college-educated, and had enjoyed hobbies such as surfing, skiing, and flyfishing. Even though he did not have much money, he gave regularly to environmental and social service causes. He was sensitive, compassionate, loyal, kind, gentle, and always willing to lend a hand to anyone who asked.
While staying in Fort Bragg temporarily to help out our father, we communicated with him regularly, multiple times per week. We last talked to him 48 hours before his death, and there was nothing to indicate that anything was amiss, or that he was in crisis. And yet, we will continue to ask ourselves that “terrible disabling question,” as Rabbi Holub put it, “could any of us have done something to prevent his death?” She reminds us that all any of us can do is what we would do for any person with a serious illness - treat the person like the whole person that they are, show up, care, and realize that there is nothing you can do to alter the ultimate trajectory.
We know that our brother would not have wanted to cause any harm to anyone, and he would regret knowing that the people who responded will have to carry the experience of that day. This knowledge has allowed us to begin to let go of some of the trauma - even if just a little bit - knowing that it does not serve the memory of him and his true self. We share this in the hope that it can facilitate the healing process for those who need it.
We are grateful for the Fort Bragg Police Captain who spoke with my brother for 29 minutes before his death; we are grateful for the Redwood Community Services Crisis Worker who was not required to show up but did; we are grateful for the unknown staff from Adventist Hospital, California State Parks, Fort Bragg Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard. Please know that we know that you did all you could to prevent this tragedy. You are all in our hearts and your efforts will not be forgotten.
We are also grateful for the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community and Rabbi Margaret Holub, who generously receives us in our time of grief, three years ago with the passing of our mother, and now with our brother’s death.
We would be remiss if we did not also thank the warm professionalism of David Yeomans and Kris Strickland from Rose Memorial Park and Seth from Chapel of the Sea. Thanks also to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office whose immediate response to our questions helped ease our pain in the aftermath.
We’d like to end this letter with a big thank you to all of you in Fort Bragg – those we know and those we don’t – and remind you of the beauty and warmth in this community. While in Fort Bragg making arrangements and caring for my dad, my sister and I were continually surprised by the support and ease of doing business in town, making it easier to address the practical matters of attending to our brother’s death. In every community encounter during out recent stay here we were greeted with warmth and kindness – the postal clerk, the fedex proprietor, Safeway checkers, the Adventist Health physician, Andersson Home Health and others, including a bittersweet encounter with someone at the car wash of all places. In return for his generosity, he asked only that we appreciate the goodness in this small town community. And this letter in part is to communicate that appreciation. It is so humbling to be embraced by a community that we have not been part of for over 30 years, and we are uplifted by it. Thank you.
Melinda Posner and Sonia Wolfman
INVASIVE MUSSEL PREVENTION Awareness Event at Mill Creek Ponds on July 2, Free Fishing Day
Did you know that a tiny mollusk native to Europe can wreak havoc on boats, pipes, and other infrastructure in California? Quagga and zebra mussels were introduced to the United States in the 1980s through ballast water from a European ship. These invasive mussels reproduce quickly, and once established, form dense mats that can blanket infrastructure, water pipes, and boat hulls. In addition, they alter water chemistry, water clarity, and aquatic habitat.
Fortunately, there are currently no quagga or zebra mussels in North Coast waterways, including Mill Creek Ponds, Lake Mendocino, or Lake Sonoma. “Thankfully, we have not found any invasive mussels and we hope that trend continues,” says Amber Fisette, Deputy Director of the Mendocino County Water Agency. “The County knows that the mussels are present in Southern California, where they cause enormous damage to watercraft, water infrastructure, and wildlife habitat. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”
To increase public awareness of this issue, the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) and County staff will be hosting a public event at Upper Mill Creek Pond on July 2nd during Free Fishing Day, talking to anglers and others who enjoy the beautiful park. “The key to preventing the introduction of the mussels is a simple motto: Clean, Drain and Dry!” says Joe Scriven, MCRCD Assistant Executive Director. “Every time you remove your boat from a waterbody, clean your boat and gear of all plant material; drain bilge, ballast and buckets; and thoroughly dry all equipment before launching anywhere else.”
The July 2nd event is co-sponsored by the Mendocino County Water Agency, the California Division of Boating and Waterways, and MCRCD. Want to test your knowledge about quagga and zebra mussels?
Take the on-line quiz at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5Z33LYB! For more information about the ongoing efforts to keep invasive mussels out of our local waterways, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/dontmoveamussel.
Contact: Joe Scriven, MCRCD Assistant Executive Director 707-462-3664 x 104
CAN MENDO AFFORD COUNTY COUNSEL CHRISTIAN CURTIS?
AVA News Service
Today we add to the Major’s Major Failures and Screw Ups by the Board of Supervisors the Board’s gifting of a huge pay increase to County Counsel Christian Curtis. Curtis is now the highest paid public attorney in Mendocino County. And also one of the least competent.
Last December Curtis set a new standard for incompetence by screwing up his own pay raise! Later in the same meeting (after the Major fired off a correction notice for the obvious Brown Act violation) Curtis took a second shot at approving his pay raise, only to fail again. The Supes were forced to come back at a subsequent meeting and rescind the illegally approved pay raise. Then re-agendize the item with the help of an expensive San Francisco law firm so that the proper proper procedure was followed. It was the first time in Mendocino County history that a Brown Act violation notice had been upheld and corrective action taken.
After twice botching his own pay raise, sources close to the Board say Curtis refused to make a third attempt, but threatened to quit unless the Supes approved the raise. Faced with Curtis’s extortionate demand, the Supes meekly rolled over. Which explains why they were forced to hire the SF-based outside counsel to advise them on how to increase (legally) the exorbitant compensation of their incompetent legal adviser.
Giving in to County Counsel Curtis’s demands is further proof (as if any were needed) that this is the weakest and least qualified Board of Supervisors in modern memory. The Board, with only an occasional deviation by Third Dist Supe John Haschak, votes lockstep approval for whatever’s put in front of them. Including unlimited funds for outside counsel to defend cases that previous County Counsels handled in house.
Just one case, former Ag Commissioner Harinder Grewal’s wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit, has cost the County $600,000 for outside legal fees and it hasn’t even gone to court yet. (Now scheduled for September.) The County will likely shell out hundreds of thousands more for damages, plus Grewal’s attorney fees, once the County loses or settles the suit. A competent County Counsel would have settled the suit years ago for a fraction of the cost of fighting it.
More recently, Curtis also botched the Amanda Carley case against the County and her former boyfriend, the recently fired Ukiah Chief of Police Noble Waidelich. Curtis attempted to get the case dismissed because after five years it still hadn’t gone to trial. What Curtis didn’t know was that the five year filing deadline had been extended six months because of Covid. So instead of the case being dismissed on a technicality involving lapsed dates, it’s now set for trial. And don’t be surprised if Curtis asks the Board to hire outside counsel.
Judge Jeanine Nadel (who was County Counsel before her appointment to the bench) was unimpressed with Deputy County Counsel Brina Blanton’s complaint last month that she’d have to spend “all her working hours” in discovery and getting ready for the September 28 trial date. After 5 years, 3 months isn’t enough prep time for the trial?
Nadel pointedly noted that when she was County Counsel she “was very aggressive” in defending the County. And with fewer attorneys. And (she might have noted) without expensive outside counsel. Nadel noted that Curtis was present in the Choutroom and told Blanton that when she was in their position she “worked hard and wiped out the plaintiff.”
Merits of the Carley case aside, it’s hard to overlook the incompetence of County Counsel Curtis. If Curtis and his stable of attorneys handle cases, they usually lose. But when Curtis hires outside counsel, the County pays through the nose. And still usually loses.
Which brings us to the pointless and costly legal spat between the Sheriff and the Supervisors. Curtis instigated the fight on orders from former then-CEO Carmel Angelo. Sheriff Kendall earned Angelo’s ire by announcing he would no longer meet with her because of “trust issues” — meaning the Sheriff was tired of being lied to. Curtis allowed the Supes to believe they could personally bill the Sheriff for exceeding his ordinary but underfunded overtime costs. And that they could strip the Sheriff of his IT function and fold it into the unsecure County computer system.
Sheriff Kendall, realizing he needed an attorney he could trust, sought to hire long-time Ukiah attorney Duncan James. The duplicitous Curtis variously argued that there was a conflict, then argued their wasn’t. Over the course of several Board meetings (in closed session) and five or six court hearings, Curtis finally conceded the Sheriff was entitled to his own attorney. One that he could trust. But not Duncan James. (Who happens to also represent former Ag Commissioner Grewal.)
After numerous court hearings and more than 100 court filings, the issues with the Sheriff have still not been resolved. In fact, they have not been discussed with the Board. The only issue under discussion now is whether the Sheriff has the right to an attorney of his own choosing. Or must he accept one picked by County Counsel Curtis? (So far the Sheriff has not budged on the subject.)
PARTY ON, KMUD!
KMUD Radio will host its annual Block Party on Saturday, June 2nd. This free & zero-waste event will feature live music, local vendors, a kid's area, fabulous food, cocktails, beer, and wine will be available. Celebrate with your community radio station, KMUD! Join us Saturday, July 2nd, from noon to 9 pm. Road closure in front of 1144 Redway Drive will occur from 10 am-11 pm so we can Rock the Block! See you there!
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: “Supervisors asked County Counsel to come back with an ordinance proposing a quarter-cent sales tax for fire services only, using Mulheren’s allocation formula for 90% of the funds among the fire districts. The remaining 10% would be used for fire prevention projects. It would be a general tax with an advisory measure, which would not be legally binding, and would only require a simple majority to pass. The tax would expire after ten years. Mulheren and Gjerde agreed to work together to identify money in the general fund that could be used for water projects.”
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR KELLEY HOUSE JULY 4TH PARTY!
It takes a village to entertain a village! The Kelley House needs a few more volunteers to help at our annual 4th of July lawn party, so private message us with your contact info if you can spare 3 hours that day; we have morning and afternoon shifts available. You'll get a free meal, a great view of the parade, and the love and gratitude of your community. Thanks!
by Mark Scaramella
KAREN OTTOBONI’S KZYX/“TKO show” guest last Wednesday morning was Supervisor John Haschak. One of the subjects Ottoboni brought up, of course, was the sales tax the Board had discussed the day before.
AS EXPECTED, confusion reigned. Ottoboni insisted on calling it a 1/4 “percent” tax when she meant, or should have meant, “1/4 cent” tax. Then there was a discussion about the sunsetting of the 3/8-cent portion of the half-cent Measure B tax, leaving a 1/8 cent ongoing tax.
AND THE PENDING library sales tax renewal/increase. Library supporters have recently submitted signatures for a November ballot measure that provides for the renewal of the existing 1/8 cent library sales tax and requests an additional 1/8 of a cent sales tax fraction of the sunsetting Measure B sales tax, with 40% of that 1/8 cent to be reserved for library building improvements. So that proposal will be on the November ballot, and the library supporters better be extra careful how they word it because it's already confusing.
NOW THE SUPERVISORS have voted to pursue a 1/4-cent sales tax with an advisory measure “advising” that the proceeds of that 1/4-cent tax will go to fire/emergency services. If all the measures were to pass the current sales tax would thereby stay where it is. Haschak and his colleagues seem convinced that the public will support all of this because it’s not a net increase.
THE BALLOT will probably contain three sales tax measures. One will require a 2/3 vote because it’s dedicated to libraries and 40% of the proceeds will be for facility improvements (but we don’t know how they’ll make sure that percentage will be assured).
THE OTHER measure will be for a 1/4 cent tax for fire/emergency services (language yet to be determined) plus an advisory measure (yet to be determined) saying it’s supposed to go to fire/emergency services (as an end run around the two-thirds requirement). There’s also supposed to be a sunset clause saying the emergency services tax increment would go away after ten years, which the Board seems to think will make it more supportable since the “voters” ten years from now will be magically look back and see if it did any good — a dubious proposition, to say the least.
THE QUESTIONS ARE, how will the public perceive these confusing tax measures? And will the groups which are supposed to get the proceeds help with the campaigns?
AS TO QUESTION ONE: We expect the public will not appreciate the fine points made above about voting thresholds, the fractions for this, the sunsetting of that, the taxes not going up, etc. No. The public will (rightly) see these as tax increases being pushed by the recipients of the taxes: The library supporters and the Supervisors.
QUESTION TWO: The library advocates will probably actively campaign for their initiative as they did a few years ago and as they did for their petition. But will the fire services do the same for their tax, based on the Supervisors’ history of not funding them adequately in the past? Will they basically believe the “advisory measure” idea and trust the Supervisors enough to actively campaign for the 1/4 cent tax for the Supervisors?
ALL OF THIS will be occurring in a context of historically high inflation and historically low trust in politicians in general and this Board of Supervisors in particular.
LASTLY, if the fire tax doesn’t pass — and given the above it will not be easy even for such a popular purpose — will the Supervisors throw up their collective hands and blame the fire services and the public and leave the fire/emergency services in the lurch, still underfunded in our fire-prone county? Or will they accept the responsibility and attempt to help fund these important “public safety” functions? (Haschak said he thinks the fire services people should do a “needs assessment” before they get any money. If that sounds Measure B-ish and delay-ish and arrogant to you, you are probably one of the few people who have followed the Supervisors reasonably closely lately.)
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THE AVERAGE JOURNEYMAN (non-law enforcement) county line worker makes about $25 an hour pre-tax these days, and maybe 70% of that as take home. (Since that’s an average it means half of the employees take home less than that.) $25 an hour is about $50k per year, with take home of about $35k per year. Using the 1/3 rule for housing costs (which is probably low in Mendocino County) that would mean that the average county worker (county workers make more than most commercial sector workers and have (better) benefits) can theoretically afford to pay 1/3 of $35k for housing, or about $1000 per month. Of course, there are other factors like inflation, family size, spousal employment, overtime, moonlighting/second jobs, cost of commuting, etc.
MENDO is currently negotiating with most of their “bargaining units,” which (obviously) want substantial raises. At the same time, County management says the budget is “austere,” and “tight.” (Never mind that we haven’t seen a department by department budget breakdown for the end of this fiscal year, so who really knows?) The Supervisors belatedly got around to asking Interim CEO Darcie Antle to provide a list of funded vacancies for General Fund and non-general fund positions last week and we’re supposed to see that list at the next meeting. Antle said most of the funded general fund vacancies are in law enforcement (including the jail), which isn’t a surprise. A funded law enforcement vacancy is worth a lot more than a non-law enforcement vacancy.
The SEIU Local Union (which represents more than half of County employees, the lesser-paid half by far) says the County should use whatever salary savings they’re getting from long-term funded vacancies to fund an increase in pay for existing employees. Then you have the high turnover rate which is commonly attributed to the lower pay (and the lack of affordable housing). But there’s also the low morale in the understaffed and underpaid departments which would be helped by.a pay raise, of course, but stress and burnout and illness/injury and turnover and resignations for higher paying jobs will continue as will vacancies.
THE SUPERVISORS seem vaguely aware of most of this, but they don’t express much interest in their employees or the functioning of their various departments. For example, they were supposed to hold some kind of public safety oversight/workshop to better understand the Sheriff’s budget last year in the wake of the dispute the board and the CEO provoked with the Sheriff. But that never happened. Neither has the Public Safety Advisory Group which could help with the law enforcement budget if they had the brains to ask for that. They still don’t ask even the most basic questions about the budget status of other departments like Probation and County Counsel and Planning and Building which each take a significant portion of the General Fund.
WHERE WAS I? Oh yes. Confusion. Confusion about the tax proposals. Or was it confusion overall? Whatever. These tax proposals in large part will boil down to a referendum on these five mostly out-of-touch Supervisors. Let’s just say, we’re not particularly optimistic.
BRINGING BACK THE BUCKHORN: Covelo’s Historic Bar Reopens Under New Ownership
by Ayled Zazueta (pictures by Lyndsay Boccaleoni)
Covelo’s Buckhorn Bar has been the community watering hole for generations. A dive bar smack dab in the middle of Indian Country, the Buckhorn’s Old West saloon reputation is coupled with the generations of Round Valley residents who called it their second home.
There is new life coming to the Buckhorn bar. The community institution is under new ownership purchased by Marcus Smith and his fiancée Lyndsay Boccaleoni who is partnering with him in the new endeavor. The couple reopened the Buckhorn bar on May 24th, 2022 after it had been closed last September in the wake of a murder that happened outside its doors.
The Buckhorn’s history–even its recent history–impacts the Covelo community today.
For instance, In May of 1987, a “virtual riot” broke out two hours after the Buckhorn closed. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputies reported 45 locals were fighting in the center of downtown Covelo. That night, 25-year-old Michael Pina would be arrested which would lead to a lawsuit against MCSO alleging undue use of force. The case would settle, he would get a pay out, and Pina would become one of Round Valley’s most enduring cold cases after he was found murdered on a rural road outside Covelo on September 25, 2014, nearly thirty years after the Covelo riot.
More recently, a tragedy that rocked the Covelo community occurred on the street outside the Buckhorn. On September 14, 2022, Dino Michael Blackbear allegedly shot and killed Kenneth Whipple, Jr. outside of the Buckhorn just before midnight. The alleged murder would result in a manhunt after Blackbear fled. He would be taken into custody four days later having made his way to Fort Bragg. Blackbear has pled not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to stand trial for murder in October of this year.
Antonia Whipple, Kenneth’s little sister, told us “He was my best friend.” Since his death, Antonia said her family “has suffered tremendously.” She described Kenneth as a “hard working man that was loved by many throughout the community.” He left behind a son, his little sister, and a broken-hearted family.
Antonia said she has seen the renovations at the Buckhorn but can never shake the bar’s connection with the death of her beloved brother. “I am still very bitter towards the Buckhorn, not the owners, but just the thought of a very violent place having the chance to strike again.” She hopes the new owners are working on “safety precautions to protect our community” such as crowd control and monitoring the amount of drinks customers consume.
Boccaleoni recognized the Buckhorn’s connection to some of the community’s past traumas. She and Smith have made it their mission to transform the bar into a family-friend, community space. The Buckhorn Bar has been a part of the Covelo community since the 1930s and Boccaleoni wants to reclaim the Buckhorn for herself and Round Valley at large.
Knowing well the Buckhorn’s importance and complex past, the pair have begun renovations to reclaim the bar as a warm and welcoming space for locals to grab a drink and catch up.
Golden Brands, a northern California beer distributor, is scheduled to give the Buckhorn a makeover. Boccaleoni told us they will provide new wallpaper and neon signs.
Since reopening, the doors of the Buckhorn, Boccaleoni has only received positive feedback and support from the small businesses in the community. Boccaleoni told us that their renovations are designed to honor the historical bar and “maintain a good, safe environment. So people will have somewhere to come and enjoy a drink…where old-timers will want to come back.
Patrons of the Buckhorn certainly will not go hungry. Boccaleoni is collaborating with taco trucks El Fagon and Delgados, and Italian restaurant Covelo Cave, who will all deliver to the Buckhorn Bar. Primos Tacos is planning on staging outside the Buckhorn for late-night tacos.
Boccaleoni told us the former owner of the Buckhorn, Allan Bar, had several interested buyers but had two realistic potentials in mind. She remembers taking Covelo students on a field trip (because she is the valley’s one bus driver) when her fiance contacted her with news that the Buckhorn was looking for new ownership. Talk of partnering with the other potential buying party arose, ultimately, Boccaleoni and Smith turned down the partnership and took on the challenge independently.
Marcus Smith, a 20-year Covelo resident, has worked at another Round Valley institution for the last eleven years, Keith’s Market IGA. Smith’s father managed the grocery store, Round Valley’s one and only, and has learned how to run a business. Smith and Boccaleoni also bring their wisdom as business owners of Written in Stone, a headstone business where Boccaleoni has worked for 17 years.
Since opening, the Buckhorn has hosted DJs, made a special drink menu for Father’s Day, and started a Facebook page to keep the community updated.
Ultimately, Smith and Boccaleoni hope to honor the past while looking toward the future. Under their ownership, they will work to restore the Buckhorn as a center of the Covelo community seeing the potential of a family-friendly space. Dreaming big, Boccaleoni told us that someday she wants all the fun and games you can have at Dave and Busters and welcome Round Valley residents of all ages.
COVELO SIX SENTENCED
Defendant Samson Musselini Little Bear Joaquin, age 25, formerly of Covelo, was convicted by plea late Thursday morning in the Mendocino County Superior Court of two counts of murder in the second degree.
The defendant’s jury trial had been scheduled to begin last Monday, June 20, 2022, but not enough jurors responded to their jury summons to allow jury selection to take place so that the trial could move forward. As a consequence, the case was moved to Thursday of the week so that the parties could check the future availability of witnesses before the court set a new trial date.
During the intervening days a compromise settlement was struck and the case resolved short of trial.
As memorialized in the written plea form submitted to the court, defendant Samson Joaquin admitted that, “With express and implied malice aforethought, [he] unlawfully and intentionally killed Kyle McCartney and Traci Bland with a splitting maul/fire axe” on November 19, 2020 in a remote area north of Covelo.
An important component of the resolution, of course, was that the defendant agreed to a stipulated state prison sentence of 31 years to life, the maximum allowed by law for the two murder convictions and the weapon use admission entered into the court record.
Defendant Samson Joaquin was also required to waive all pre-sentence custody credits that he normally would have earned and received absent a waiver. Specifically, the defendant waived all credits for actual time in custody and any additional credits for statutory “good time/work time” from the date of his arrest to the date of his formal sentencing hearing in July.
The defendant was also required to waive his appellate and writ rights on all issues, if any, related to the case.
The last of six co-defendants, defendant Samson Joaquin’s guilty pleas entered on Thursday morning brings to a close a multi-defendant prosecution in which all involved — to differing degrees — were convicted for their respective roles in what can only be described as a pre-Thanksgiving day of senseless and brutal acts of violence in 2020.
The other co-defendants previously convicted and already sentenced to state prison are:
Joaquina Patrice Joaquin, age 26 – was sentenced to 31 years, 4 months in state prison for carjacking, kidnapping, assault by force likely to cause great bodily injury, attempted witness intimidation, possessing drugs in jail, and a prior Strike conviction;
Joseph Joshua Hoaglen, age 39 – was sentenced to 25 years, 4 months in state prison for carjacking, kidnapping, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, personally inflicting great bodily injury, and use of a non-firearm weapon;
Janet Faye Azbill, age 35 – was sentenced to 14 years, 8 months in state prison for carjacking, kidnapping, assault by force likely to cause great bodily injury, and personally inflicting great bodily injury; and
Leonard Britton Azbill, Sr., age 62 – was sentenced to 6 years in state prison for being an accessory after the fact to murder with a prior Strike conviction.
Co-defendant David Lee Joaquin, Jr., age 27, is pending sentencing for his limited involvement in the November 2020 day of violence. He stands convicted by plea of being an accessory after the fact to murder with a prior Strike conviction.
However, while out-of-custody waiting to be sentenced, defendant David Joaquin found a way to locally pick up a new felony charge for vehicle theft, committing a new felony while another felony case was pending, and having suffered a prior Strike conviction.
He also found a way to pick up new charges in Siskiyou County and has been convicted over there, again while awaiting sentencing on the November 2020 case, and sentenced in the Siskiyou County Superior Court to 8 years in state prison.
When all of defendant David Joaquin’s cases resolve here in Mendocino County, it is very likely he will be looking at an additional four years, 8 months in state prison … consecutive to the Siskiyou County commitment.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the underlying evidence leading to the convictions listed above were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Justice crime laboratory in Eureka, the Department of Justice DNA laboratory in Redding, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
District Attorney David Eyster has been the attorney personally prosecuting this case and all involved defendants from late 2020 to present.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman accepted defendant Samson Joaquin’s two guilty pleas and a weapon use admission Thursday morning. She will preside over the sentencing hearing and impose the stipulated life sentence on July 20, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. in the Ukiah courthouse.
The question most often asked at this point in a case is how long of an actual prison sentence will this defendant be required to administratively serve by the state prison authorities versus the judicial sentence imposed by a local judge?
Due to changes in criminal statutes and ongoing tinkering by the state legislators in Sacramento, as well as the voters directly and indirectly through ballot measures, this has become a difficult question to answer.
New state prison regulations were enacted in 2017 to “take advantage” of sentencing reforms approved by the voters when the majority voted to pass Proposition 57, the so-called “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.” Proposition 57 and these state prison regulations effectively overrode many prior statutory limitations on expedited release credits that could be earned by all inmates, including lifers.
For example, prior to the passage of Proposition 57, a state prison inmate serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole was required to serve actual incarceration time equal to the front number of “xx to life,” such as 7 to life, 25 to life, 40 to life, etc., before being able to schedule a parole board hearing and have his or her parole suitability considered.
Post-Prop 57, most inmates serving a life sentence with parole not precluded – whether participating in prison rehabilitation services or not – now automatically receive an expedited pathway to a parole suitability hearings through the administrative awarding of 20% credits, if not more, against the front number (i.e., xx to life).
Thus, this area of the law continues to be highly politicized, meaning local predictability as to how much of a court-imposed lifer sentence a person will actually be required by state prison authorities to serve in prison has figuratively been thrown out the window.
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THE EYESORE DEBATE RAGES
Laurie York: For those concerned about the big corrugated metal florescent green shipping container which has recently been “permanently” installed on our beautiful Van Damme Beach to house kayaks year-round, please consider writing Terry Bertels at the State Parks office: Terry.email@example.com with your concerns (see my letter below). I’m not against the kayak rental business, but I’m strongly opposed to a commercial vendor trashing our beach with this horrible eyesore.
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Ricia Araiza: Personally I just think the blue green color of it is too bright! That is why it stands out so much. If it were a dark green or a brown it would blend in better. Just my 2 cents!
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Toni Rizzo: Geez it's not an eyesore. It's better for the environment and safer not to have to transport the kayaks every day. If we care about the environment we shouldn't oppose this local business. I like the idea to paint a mural on it. My 2 cents.
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Michael Schupbach: I was shocked to see a private business having a big storage container installed at the beach parking lot, in Littleriver. But I've decided to go with it and start parking my taco truck down there. Do you have a business that you would like to place down there too? Good for one private business, it's good for ALL of us. Join me in turning that underutilized parking lot into multiple business opportunities!
UNCOVERING 1866 GREENWOOD — Mendocino County Frontier Town
by Keith Skinner
Setting is a critical part of bringing events and people to life in historical fiction. Only by conveying weather, terrain, smells, sounds, and other details of how people lived can the writer hope to immerse a reader in the historical backdrop of the story. To accomplish that and to construct a realistic world, I need to visualize it myself, see the story’s characters moving around in it, enter that world myself.
I visit the actual locations, if possible, and consult numerous histories, newspapers, diaries, maps, photographs, and drawings. In the course of my research, I occasionally stumble over a real gem, something that provides a key piece of the puzzle or otherwise helps complete the construction of the place in my mind. Such was the case with a survey that revealed 1866 Greenwood, Mendocino County frontier town otherwise known as Elk.
Finding the 1866 Greenwood Survey
Greenwood is situated between Greenwood Creek and the Navarro River, thirteen miles south of the town of Mendocino. It’s one of four locations used in my novel The Standing-Ground.
When the residents of Greenwood petitioned for a post office in 1887, it was assigned the name Elk because a Greenwood post office already existed in El Dorado County (more on that in a minute). The names Elk and Greenwood have been used interchangeably ever since.
While reading through a 1970s study conducted when the beach at Greenwood was about to become a state park, I found a reference to a survey of Greenwood and Cuffey’s Cove (one mile north of Greenwood) that had been conducted by the Surveyor General in 1866. After contacting numerous State and Federal agencies, I was able to obtain a copy of the survey from the Bureau of Land Management.
Greenwood and Cuffey’s Cove weren’t even towns in 1866. The area was a sprawling, loosely defined settlement consisting of farms, timber cutting operations, and at least one hand-cut railroad tie outfit. A large sawmill had been in operation on the Navarro River since 1861, but the area was otherwise undeveloped.
I’ve been to Elk many times and, from reading local histories, had a rough idea of what it looked like between 1851 and 1870 when the first sawmill went into operation. But the histories weren’t specific about where certain settlers lived and didn’t provide other important information, like the location of roads. The 1866 survey showed many of those details and helped correct a number of inaccurate assumptions.
Since the complete survey is much too large to include on a website, I’ve clipped several sections that contain important details.
Section 1: The Navarro River
The first thing I noticed was the spelling of the Navarro River. It’s labeled as Navarra on Mexican land grants, presumably a carryover from early Spanish exploration. In the diary he kept of his overland trip through the area in 1852, Jerome Ford called it the Navata River. Then again, Ford had a penchant for misspelling names. I haven’t tracked down the origin of the name or it’s correct spelling because it’s incidental to my story. I use Navarro in deference to a modern audience and explain the other variations in the author’s notes.
The dotted line north of the river is the road to Andersen Valley (a recent name for that area in 1866) which appears slightly north of current day Highway 128. The road follows what is now known as Navarro Ridge Road and was originally built by John Gschwend to service his sawmill. The house and school adjacent to the road are too close to the mouth of the river to be part of Wending Woods (modern day Navarro), so people connected with the Navarro Mill at the river may have lived there. Traveling north of the river was more feasible after 1862 when a toll bridge was constructed. The bridge is indicated with a dashed line on the map.
Also of note is the dashed line skirting the coast which was the wagon road that ran south to Point Arena and beyond, roughly along the route of modern day Highway 1. Further inland, we see markings for a few scattered homes, the trail to the logging grounds, and cow pastures.…
(thanks to Marshall Newman for this find)
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 24, 2022
LELAND BEAN JR., Willits. Controlled substance, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
FRANK CABRAL, Laytonville. Failure to appear.
BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Ukiah. Vandalism. (Frequent flyer.)
LUIS GODINES, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
ANTHONY HERNANDEZ, San Jose/Ukiah. Reckless driving, disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
VINCENT HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. County parole violation.
DAISY MCCRACKIN, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
RICHARD ORTIZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault, assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
SARAH SIMON, Sacramento/Ukiah. Unlawful use of tear gas, paraphernalia.
PHILIP STANEK, Covelo. Felon with firearm.
ROE V. WADE OVERTURNED
The Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1972 court case that recognized a woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion. I believe that abortions should be legal, safe, accessible, and rare and that this Supreme Court decision is an assault on women, plain and simple. The ruling overturns the nearly 50-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, undermines the Constitutional right to privacy, and rips away the right for women to make the most intimate and personal decisions regarding her health care. These decisions should be made between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her faith.
This decision sets the groundwork where extremists could strip away other rights such as same-sex marriage, access to contraceptives, and interracial marriage.
Last fall, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act to secure into law Roe v. Wade. Senate Republicans blocked a vote on this bill. I will never stop fighting efforts to criminalize women seeking abortions and their doctors. The stakes for women — and all Americans — could not be higher. I will continue to work to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land and I will fight until this right is protected for every American.
Congressman Mike Thompson
WE KNEW IT
After listening to all the predictable outrage about the recent expected Supreme Court abortion ruling and the Democrats failed attempt to “codify” Roe v. Wade, we were curious as to why Roe v. Wade wasn’t “codifed” sooner.
Google/USA Today provided the answer we fully suspected:
“Why was Roe v. Wade never codified in Congress? Democrats since Clinton “kind of dropped it.” …
“Experts say there was a sense that passing abortion rights into law wasn't necessary, and Democrats didn't have the votes - even in their own party.”
THERE YOU GO. Another bad legacy of a very bad President.
THE 18 STATES WHICH IMMEDIATELY outlawed abortion, including Democrat-led Michigan and Wisconsin, as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned thanks to 'trigger laws' set up in anticipation of the ruling.
Abortion was automatically outlawed in 18 US states as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned, thanks to specially-devised 'trigger laws' and historic bans that were automatically reenacted after Friday's ruling. Thirteen states prepared trigger laws which would automatically outlaw terminations in the event of a ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, which was widely-anticipated. They are: Arkansas; Idaho; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; Missouri; North Dakota; Oklahoma; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah and Wyoming. Abortion bans in those states will now become law within 30 days. Five other states have also now banned terminations, after historic laws superseded by the 1973 Roe ruling automatically came back into place. Among those five are two Democrat-governed states - Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers have both sought to overturn those bans in the court. But they remain in place for now. Other states with newly-re-enacted historic bans are Alabama, Arizona and West Virginia. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has announced the historic ban will be superseded by a recent law banning terminations after 15 weeks. But that edict hasn't been enshrined in state law, and pro-lifers could end up battling Ducey to keep the historic ban on all terminations, leaving abortion providers uncertain of whether they can operate in the meantime. Eight other states are also set to enact new anti-abortion laws. Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina all attempted to ban abortion after the six week mark.
UKRAINE, Friday, June 24
It's been four months since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments:
Ukrainian troops were orderedto retreatfrom Sievierodonetsk, in the eastern Luhansk region, making way for a big win for Russia. The battle for Sievierodonetsk lasted more than a month. Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said Ukrainian forces needed to withdraw to avoid being surrounded and to set up new fortified positions elsewhere. Russia's capture of Sievierodonetsk will bring it closer to complete control of Luhansk. In a further advance in the eastern region, Russia said it made headway around the nearby town of Lysychansk.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it's increasingly concerned about conditions at a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine.The agency's head said Ukrainian workers have come under extreme stress since Russian forces took over the Zaporizhzhia facility in March. The IAEA wants acess to the the station, Europe's largest nuclear plant, so that it can assess conditions there, following unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian staff were held against their will and abused.
Ukrainianswelcomed Thursday's decisionin Brussels making Ukraine a candidate to enter the European Union.Russia's foreign minister said the decision poses no risk to his country but is a sign the EU and NATO are building a coalition against Russia. Yet Ukraine still has a long road ahead. Germany's chancellor said earlier that Ukraine faces a "very demanding" path to the EU because it needs to make progress on the rule of law and fighting corruption. The process could take years, as several other countries have long been waiting ahead of Ukraine to join the EU.
Russia heads toward its first default on foreign-currency debt in over a century. On Sunday, the grace period will end for two interest payments worth about $100 million that Russia was due to pay bondholders in late May. Russia's payments have been blocked by Western sanctions, including the U.S. Treasury closing a path that had allowed Russian debt payments to flow to U.S. investors. Russia does not consider itself in default, as it has the money and has pushed to pay the debt in rubles. The default is unlikely to cause major financial shakeups in the short term, but could ultimately trigger lengthy litigation, raise Russia's borrowing costs even higher and further chip away at its position in the global markets.
by Roger Schoenahl
The call of the wild on the north coast?
Jack London was a bum who could write.
For this former thief rich reds would roast
Abalone and pour wine all night.
Jack London was in a good mood
With other writers hip and toney.
Japan she too provides honest food
Calling abalone awabi.
Fosco questions Tacko enchants
She tells of her Buddhism Pure Land.
Color photography, mermaid dance
Island of the Fisherwomen's not bland.
Tacko granting an interview
Island of the Fisherwomen's the book
Tanning bare breasted, Jodo Shinshu
Its literature well worth a look.
Braving cold currents frenetic
Worthy of the Miss Universe crown
Her curvyness cute yet athletic
Tacko dived eight, five feet down.
Cash crop critters culled by diving dame
Abalone? Awabi? Which name
Doth barbecue the best over flame?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Thank goodness the month if June is almost over and behind us. That will conclude yet another year of “Pride” related events and Juneteenth celebrations. What will July bring? Who knows, maybe we can actually focus on more important things facing the nation.
Apparently July is known for Disability Pride Month and National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month. Boy, those parades should be interesting to watch!
How exactly is a Federal gas tax holiday going to help us win against inflation anyway? Based on reasonable calculations, it will probably save the average person about $10/month. As a result, there will be less funding for infrastructure, pushing up the Federal borrowing to spend on such initiatives, such as the Green New Deal and Build Back Better agendas.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
I am furious about how “pride” has hijacked not only another perfectly good word but also a whole month that used to be the traditional time for celebrating the conferring of degrees (high school diploma, college and graduate degrees) and for weddings.
Both events being celebrations of moving forward in life, passing a milestone, acknowledging achievements garnered and commitments made in a person’s progress from adolescence to full-fledged adulthood.
Now this stupid pride thing comes along and pushes aside those celebrations, and the ideas and visions behind them, and replaces them with a celebration of . . . what?
Endless adolescence, performance, prancing, in-your-face sexual ideologies, and outright ugliness.
Being a pronoun is not a life’s project.
I have become very grumpy about gay.
President Biden should encourage Ukraine’s admission to the EU. While Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are fighting and dying now in large numbers, the worst thing diplomats and so-called “friends” of Ukraine are doing is to hand out unsolicited, unwelcome, condescending advice to the world community about ending the conflict with Putin’s Russia. For example, former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, advised President Volodomyr Zelensky to turn over his nation’s eastern region to Russia as the price of peace.
Wisely, at least for now, President Biden has not followed Kissinger’s lead. Nor should he. Ukraine is a sovereign, independent European nation. It has a right to plot its own future.
Biden should continue to do what he’s been doing since Russia’s invasion: send Ukraine large amounts of military and humanitarian aid, employ economic sanctions against Russia and its rulers, and appeal for support for Ukraine from our allies.
FOUND IN HOOK NORTON, Oxfordshire, England (photos via Randy Burke)
NOBODY LIKED HER
by Lee Palmer Wandel
Anna Fessler was a young mother. Her death on Shrove Tuesday on February 20, 1672, was typical of those that brought about thousands of witch prosecutions in early modern England, North America and German-speaking Europe: agonizing and unexpected. Fessler's life was otherwise unremarkable: she was a resident of a small village, peaceably married, and had given birth to her second child the month before. She was still housebound, according to custom, but had seemed healthy that day to those who were with her: her sister, her husband and a friend. Thus, a visit she received, though not unusual, later came to seem significant. Towards evening, another friend, Eva Kustner, also a young mother, brought Fassler six Shrove cakes then insisted that Fessler eat a seventh that Kustner produced from the folds of her clothing. She said that her mother, Anna Schmieg, had baked them. That night as Fessler's husband testified, Anna woke up abruptly, her torso swelled, she became feverish, thirsty, and began to pass blood. Again and again she cried out: "Oh God! I must die!" By midnight, she was dead.
(London Review of Books, December 3, 2009)
PENCE? MEDAL OF FREEDOM?
Just about spit out my coffee reading a letter about how former Vice President Mike Pence deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom for resisting demands from a desperate Trump and a drunken and greedy Rudy Giuliani.
Seems to me that after four years of being an integral part of a corrupt and criminal administration Pence simply decided, after much legal consultation, that a coup attempt was a bit too much and so bailed on that.
Did he go to authorities or call a press conference? Did he expose what he knew? Nah, he chose to be silent and save his career instead of preventing the loss of lives due to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
He deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom about as much as Rush Limbaugh did. In other words, not in the least. Now, do they have a medal for criminals that decide a particular crime is just too risky for them?
HONOR THY RADICAL MOTHER & THY RADICAL FATHER
A Review of Zayd Dohrn’s Provocative Podcast
by Jonah Raskin
Unlike Tom Hayden, Mark Rudd, Carl Oglesby, Cathy Wilkerson and other New Leftists, including Bill Ayers, the author of Fugitive Days, Bernardine Dohrn has never written an autobiography or a memoir. It’s unlikely she ever will, especially now that Mother Country Radicals tells much of her story and the stories of her comrades, such as Ayers, her husband, from both the inside looking out and the outside looking in. Autobiography isn’t Bernardine’s style. Writing essays and articles about herself isn’t her forte, either, though she has been and still is an eloquent and impassioned public speaker. “My mother always was a private person,” her son, Zayd, explains in Mother County Radicals, from Crooked Media(available on Spotify and elsewhere). Zayd adds, “Sound bites don’t capture her,” Still, the mass media has often tried to reduce her to a simple sentence or a flat phrase, much as reporters have rarely failed to describe her wearing a mini-skirt, as though the miniskirt defined her. No way.
Zayd is the creator, executive producer and host of the “Mother Country Radicals” podcast which has just won an award for “Best Audio Storytelling in Non-Fiction” from the 2022 Tribeca Festival. To make the podcast, he had help from Jon Favreau, Sarah Geismer, Lyra Smith, Alison Falzetta, Misha Euceph, with sound design by Arwen Nicks, Stephanie Cohn, Ariana Gharib Lee, and Misha Euceph, and music by Andy Clausen.
I met Bernardine in 1969 when she was an activist working for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the radical organization for attorneys who defended men and women no one else would defend in and out of court. During the 1970s, I saw Bernardine on and off when she was underground and living under an assumed name in both New York and San Francisco. She had changed her appearance, though I had no trouble recognizing her.
A day we spent together at Coney Island is still etched in my memory. So are the three days I stayed with her and Ayers at their home in Chicago in 1990, a decade or so after they surfaced from underground, when I was researching a biography of Abbie Hoffman, the Yippie, gadfly and imp, who had been a thorn in Bernardine’s side. When night fell and I began to think of sleep, Bernardine suggested I bunk for the night in “the boys’” bedroom. The boys were Zayd Ayres Dohrn and his brother, Malik, plus Chesa Boudin, whose biological parents were both in prison, and who lived with Bernardine, Bill and their biological sons.
“Won’t I be depriving them of their sleeping quarters?” I asked. “Oh, no,” Bernardine said, “They always sleep on the floor outside Bill’s and my bedroom in their sleeping bags to protect us from the FBI.” It was rough growing up with parents who had been fugitives wanted by the FBI, even years after they were no longer fugitives. It was rough for Chesa who knew that his mother had parked him with a babysitter while she went off with comrades to rob a Brink’s vehicle and get into big trouble.
But the boys also grew up like ordinary American kids. I watched Chesa play softball in a Chicago park, and I also watched Bernardine make matzo ball soup for the boys. They had requested it, perhaps because they wanted comfort food, and they devoured it as though they were starving and as though it had been made with love. I’m sure it was. I have often felt that I know too much about Bernardine, Bill and their boys, too much about the Weather Underground and too much about my wife, Eleanor, who belonged to the organization, but who has rarely if ever revealed her life as a fugitive.
I used to say, “I’m married to the underground.” Indeed I saw and heard things few if any others saw and heard because of my link to Eleanor, who went on to become a lawyer and a judge and has mostly kept her mouth shut about her fugitive days. “Don’t Talk” has been her mantra. “Talk” has been Ayers’.
Like Bernardine, Eleanor has never written her autobiography, though her son Thai Jones has written about her and his father, Jeff Jones, another Weather person. On the subject of smashing monogamy and “free love,” Zayd tries to be even handed. That lifestyle, if it can be called that, created bonds that were necessary to a clandestine organization, but they also led, he says, to “dark territory.”
Now, thanks to Zayd Ayers Dohrn, who has made a sensational and informative podcast titled Mother Country Radicals neither Eleanor nor Bernardine will have to write their life stories. Zayd has told their stories for them and told them exceedingly well. He has persuaded Bernardine, Eleanor and other Weather folk like Eric Mann and Cathy Wilkerson to open up and talk about experiences, ideas and memories they have never shared publicly with any reporter or historian. On the podcast, Eleanor doesn’t mention me by name, but she talks about her decision to walk away from our marriage and our monogamous relationship. She has never been so honest with me directly.
Because of its revelations about personal history, as well as its insights into the social, cultural and political movements and causes of the 1960s and 1970s, Mother Country Radicals is an essential podcast for anyone and everyone who wants to understand Weatherman, SDS and the Weather Underground, which operated clandestinely for about a decade, placed bombs in corporate offices and government buildings like the US Capitol and the Pentagon. The bombers phoned in warnings and issued communiqués denouncing imperialism and racism and taunting the FBI. Mother County Radicals describes how Zayd’s mom and dad became radicals against the backdrop of the anti-war movement and the rise of Black Power, though it doesn’t explain to my satisfaction why only a few dozen New Leftists became Weathermen, while most SDSers found other ways to express their radicalism, like going to factories to organize the unorganized.
Mother Country Radicals begins with the first communiqué from underground which was issued in May 1970. It’s titled “A Declaration of a State of War.” Bernardine says, “Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks. If you want to find us, this is where we are. In every tribe, commune, dormitory, farmhouse, barracks and townhouse where kids are making love, smoking dope and loading guns—fugitives from Amerikan justice—are free to go.” In 1970, Bernardine explained to me that the underground wasn’t declaring war on America (she spelled the word with a k not a c), but rather pointing out that a state of war already existed: race war, class war, sex war, and war between the imperial powers and the colonized nations of the world.
I included that May 1970 communiqué, along with many others, in a book titled The Weather Eye, which was published in 1974 and was dedicated to Amilcar Cabral, the African revolutionary who declared, “If I should disappear tomorrow, it would not change the inexorable evolution of the struggle of my people and their inevitable victory.” At the time it was widely assumed that Bernardine and company had given me orders to gather the communiqués and publish them in a book. I didn’t have to be told. I didn’t like anyone in any organization to tell me what or what not to do. I initiated The Weather Eye on my own. My friend Minton Brooks designed it. The art on the cover was borrowed from a rainbow and an arrow that Eleanor drew.
In the podcast which is divided into four chapters, Zayd looks at his parents through the eyes of the child he once was and through the eyes of the adult he now is. That double vision helps to provide a complex portrait of Bernardine and Bill, though in my view Bernardine emerges as a more complex person than Bill. Her own comments reveal her multi-dimensionality.
Curiously, she often has the habit of laughing abruptly and briefly immediately after making a remark as though to say she sees its limitations and perhaps absurdities, even while she endorses it. In that respect, she is akin to Abbie Hoffman who was both impassioned and ironical, a professional troublemaker and a comedian. Mother County Radicals is a brilliant piece of journalism and history because Zayd gets up close and personal with his mother and also stands back and sees her from a distance and with critical detachment. “I don’t think like her,” he says. “I became a writer not an activist.” He adds, “I’ve seen the costs of the struggles up close.” In another insightful observation he says, “I’ve never quite figured out who my parents are.”
Mother County Radicals is in part about Zayd himself as the loyal son of famous (and infamous) radicals. Sometimes he engages in hero worship and at other times he plays the part of the critic and the iconoclast. He honors his parents but he also uses the word “terrorism” and “terrorists” to describe them and what they did with a little dynamite and big balls. Ayers describes the bombings as “extreme vandalism.” About the explosion at the townhouse in March 1970, which resulted in the deaths of Ted Gold, Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins—who tends to be demonized in the narrative—Bernardine says, “It still hurts me.” She adds that it’s important to remember “the worst of what we did.”
Some of the podcast is predictable, especially for anyone who lived through the era. It marches through the civil rights and anti-war movements, the rise and the fall of SDS and the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King’s ascendancy and assassination, the FBI’s illegal, immortal and unethical campaign against the left and Hoover’s violations of civil rights and civil liberties. There is mention of Weather orgies and the use of LSD and speed, but few details and no real stories. Zayd has downplayed the sex and the drugs, largely ignored the rock ‘n’ roll and emphasized the anti-imperialist and anti—racist politics of his parents and the collectives to which they belonged.
Some might be surprised, though I was not, by Zayd’s emphasis on the Panther 21, the New York wing of the organization that was founded in Oakland by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. Arrested and jailed, they went on trial when I was living in New York. I sat in the courtroom and wrote about the clash between the defendants and the judge for Liberation News Service. I also worked with Michael Tabor, one of the 21. I wrote a preface to his brilliant manifesto, “Capitalism + Dope = Genocide” which linked drug addiction to the economic system. It was published by the defense committee for the NY Panthers.
I have rarely if ever felt dispassionate about the Weather Underground, my own ambiguous involvement with the organization and with Eleanor. In fact, we were reunited in an odd sort of way, when she was underground and I wasn’t. Or was I? About that chapter in our lives and our ongoing unconventional marriage she says nothing. There are too many Weather stories to tell all of them. With help from his parents and their pals, Zayd tells some of the best stories with passion and critical acumen that has helped to clarify matters for me. The stories in Mother Country Radicals are worth listening to and thinking about. Though some are old stories, they seem as new and relevant as Black Lives Matter, January 6th, podcasts, the undying legacy of Fred Hampton, the New York Panther 21 and what Bernardine calls “the stench of America.”
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio live from Franklin St. all night Friday night!
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 http://airtime.knyo.org:8040/128 (That's the regular link to listen to KNYO in real time.)
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com 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 Big Boy Coffee can of educational amusements to rattle with both hands and spill out onto the table until showtime, or anytime, such as:
The Sesame Street episode that got pulled from circulation because people who think witches exist, and believe they are themselves witches, objected that it had a witch in it that insulted them by not being /their/ kind of imaginary witch.
Wendy Carlos handily explains electronic music by demonstrating the then-new Moog synthesizer. This is just before she was Wendy. She was still Walter here. You can tell by the spaniel sideburns.
And some friendly ladies of the 1950s. I predict you'll do what I did: scroll down a little, thinking the occasional gentle hmm, or huh, then when the large one in the big black dress appears, snort whoa! and then laugh that you did that. I think the significance of hiking up their pants or skirts probably is demonstrating that their skin is clean and they don't have a rash or bugs. The same way the Middle Eastern religious fashion against pigs has a dietary and health and ecological origin. Harry Flashman would carefully inspect each prospect he cheated on his darling wife Elspeth with, using a candle, but that was all the old days, or rather nights. You can use the light of your phone now for that purpose, and leave it recording, or LiveStreaming, or whatever. In the future sex will be entirely virtual, with headsets and a brain jack, like in /Demolition Man/.
In Other News: Re: discussion of the kayak-rental shipping container on Van Damme Park beach: I like the existing green on the shipping container. I think it could even be brighter, and maybe have contrasting hot red highlights, like the reverse of the Radio Free Earth p.a. speakers I made in 1986. Those are my colors: fluorescent green on Radio Free Earth red. Where such colors meet, the structure of the retina makes it shimmer, and that's pleasurable.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
IMPERIAL NARRATIVE CONTROL HAS FIVE DISTINCT ELEMENTS
by Caitlin Johnstone
All of our world's worst problems are created by the powerful. The powerful will keep creating those problems until ordinary people use their superior numbers to make them stop. Ordinary people don't use their superior numbers to stop the powerful because the powerful are continuously manipulating people's understanding of what's going on.
Humans are storytelling creatures. If you can control the stories humans are telling themselves about the world, you control the humans, and you control the world.
Mental narrative plays a hugely prominent role in human experience; if you've ever tried to still your mind in meditation you know exactly what I'm talking about. Babbling thought stories dominate our experience of reality. It makes sense then that if you can influence those stories, you're effectively influencing someone's experience of reality.
The powerful manipulate the dominant narratives of our society in approximately five major ways: propaganda, censorship, Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, government secrecy, and the war on journalism. Like the fingers on a hand they are distinct from each other and each play their own role, but they're all part of the same thing and work together toward the same goal. They're all just different aspects of the US-centralized empire's narrative control system.
Propaganda is the empire's narrative creation system. While the other four elements of imperial narrative control are geared mostly toward preventing inconvenient narratives from circulating, propaganda is the means by which the empire generates narratives which benefit it.
That foreign leader is a dictator and needs to be removed. That inconvenient politician is sinister in some way and must not be permitted to lead. Your government loves human rights and all its wars are humanitarian. Voting works. Capitalism is great. You can trust us, we're the good guys.
You'll see variations on these and similar narratives churned out day after day by the corporate media and Hollywood. The wealthy media-owning class protects its own class interests by hiring media executives whose worldview matches its own, and those executives hire underlings with the same worldview, who hire their own underlings with the same worldview, and before you know it you're looking at a media conglomerate full of people who all support the status quo politics of the media-owning class whose kingdoms are built upon that status quo.
In fact these giant media institutions are so invested in protecting the status quo that they have a very large degree of overlap with other institutions responsible for maintaining the imperial status quo, like the US intelligence cartel. News punditry is now full of "former" intelligence officials, and anytime there's a narrative an intelligence agency wants printed it simply has an officer or a proxy whisper it to a mainstream news reporter who then uncritically repeats that narrative disguised as a news story.
Reporters within this system are not explicitly told to generate propaganda to protect status quo power. Rather, they develop a sense for what kind of reporting will get published and earn them attaboys in the newsroom and what will get spiked and cause their career to stagnate. If they fail to learn to navigate the system in this way, you simply never hear about them, because their careers peter out.
Propaganda is geared toward putting narratives favorable to the oligarchic empire in front of people, while censorship is all about keeping unfavorable narratives away from public vision. We've long seen this expressed in the way the mass media simply refuse to give any platform or voice to critics of capitalism and imperialism, but imperial narrative management has required a whole new order of censorship since internet access became widely available.
Because the widespread ability to share ideas and information poses a major threat to imperial narrative control, empire managers have been working toward normalizing and expanding censorship on internet platforms like Google/YouTube, Meta/Facebook/Instagram, and Twitter. Any online space where a large number of people gather will find itself pressured by the US government to remove a wider and wider spectrum of content in the name of public safety, election security, containing a virus, or just keeping people from thinking wrong thoughts about a war.
Every few months since the US election in 2016 we've been fed a new reason why more internet censorship is needed, which is always followed by a giant purge of the newly-banned content and the accounts which created it. This trend has escalated dramatically with the Ukraine war, where for the first time there's no pretense being made that content is being censored to protect the public interest; it's just being censored because it disagrees with what western government and media institutions tell us.
- Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation
This one relates to both propaganda and censorship, because it facilitates both. Silicon Valley officials have admitted to manipulating their algorithms to make sure that independent media doesn't get seen very much while artificially elevating the online publications of mass media outlets on the basis that they are "authoritative sources" of information, despite the fact that those "authoritative sources" have lied to us about every war.
Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation does more damage than overt forms of online censorship, because its consequences are much more far-reaching and because people don't even know it's happening. When Google changed its algorithms to ensure that leftist and antiwar media outlets ranked much lower in search results than they used to, it influenced the way millions of people gather information about the most important issues in the world. And hardly anyone ever knew it happened.
If it weren't for tech giants artificially directing traffic toward empire-approved media outlets, those outlets probably would have shut down by now. We saw a clear illustration of how disdainful the public is of mass media outlets when the paid streaming service CNN+ was forced to shut down just 30 days after its launch when it failed to maintain even ten thousand daily viewers. People don't consume mainstream news media unless it is foisted upon them.
- Government secrecy
Like censorship, government secrecy is another way the empire prevents inconvenient narratives from entering public awareness. By classifying information on the basis of "national security", the empire prevents unauthorized narratives before they even get off the ground. As Julian Assange once said, "The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security."
The amount of power you have should be inversely proportional to the amount of privacy you get. In a healthy society, ordinary people would have full privacy from the government while government officials should have to be fully transparent about their lives, finances and behavior. In our society it's exactly reversed: the people are surveilled and monitored while those in power hide vast troves of information behind walls of government opacity.
They hide everything they're doing from the view of the public, then when people start taking educated guesses about what they might be up to behind the veil of government secrecy they get called "conspiracy theorists". There would be no need to form theories about conspiracies if there was complete transparency for the powerful, but of course this would greatly hinder the ability of the powerful to conspire.
They claim they need government secrecy to avoid giving an advantage to the enemy in times of war and conflict, but really they need government secrecy to start wars and conflicts.
- The war on journalism
Lastly, in order to effectively control the dominant narratives about the world, the empire needs to wage a war on disobedient journalism. We've seen this unfold in various ways over the years, but right now none are so clear as the US empire's persecution of Julian Assange.
The goal of the Assange case is to establish a legal precedent for extraditing any journalist or publisher anywhere in the world who tries to get around US government secrecy. Once a precedent has been set and consent has been manufactured, the war on journalism can really get going.
All of these five points are used to control the way people see, think about, and talk about their world, thereby controlling how they act and how they vote at mass scale. This enables the powerful to maintain an entirely enslaved populace which never tries to escape its enslavement, because it thinks it is already free.
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