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THE INTERIOR WILL WARM around 10 degrees today with stratus expected clear at the coast by early afternoon. Hot weather will peak monday with many interior valleys well above 100. Even the coast may see temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Milder weather will gradually return midweek. (NWS)
November 6, 1939 - June 15, 2022
Paul Allen Lane passed away at the age of 83 in the comfort of his home, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife Nikki, daughters Amber Beyer and Kara Beaman, along with seven grandchildren and numerous brothers and sisters in his East Coast Family. Longtime resident of Cloverdale, Paul lovingly gave back to his community. From his early days as a volunteer firefighter to his 36 years of active recovery in AA and NA, Paul genuinely cared about making the world a better place. Paul started his career as an Operating Engineer at the Geysers but found his true calling as a Drug and Alcohol counselor, both at Campobello and Azure Acres Recovery Centers.
A celebration of life will be held on July 16th, from 2-4 pm at the United Church of Cloverdale, 439 N. Cloverdale Blvd, Cloverdale CA 95425.
* * *
On Line Comment: Paul Lane, I called him Pauley Wog, was a force to be reckoned with. His steadfastness in his faith & recovery was am example to many, myself included. I am a better woman because he played a big part in my life for many years, helping me stay grounded through huge trials in my life. I am forever grateful. He loved his family tremendously & was a genuine man of greatness. He will be missed.
COMMUNITY PICNIC IN FORT BRAGG TODAY
Come on out this Sunday at Bainbridge Park in Fort Bragg and visit with friends and neighbors. Bring a dish to share or just stop by and say hello. We'll be there from noon till 2:30ish but you are welcome to linger as long as you like. We will bring some music but if you would like to bring an instrument and play some of your own please do! facebook.com/events/550546073405576
Jacquelyn Cisper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
ATTENTION: FORMER SONIC AND MCN DSL CUSTOMERS
I've been doing the back and forth with AT&T over the DSL customers dropped by Sonic and MCN. Apologies for the bum steer on DSL Extreme -- apparently, they don't cover our area of Mendocino. However, AT&T still offers DSL service to existing customers. The whole issue has been elevated at AT&T and we can expect an answer on Monday.
Seems AT&T wants to kill DSL as well. They have to buy their spare parts on eBay now, the technology is so old. We here at the Comptche Broadband Committee have been making the case that it would garner them much good will if they caught the customers that everyone else dropped.
Plus, you DSLers would be easy upgrades for AT&T fiber -- that is, if you all get your support letters in by Wednesday. AT&T has amended their filing with the CPUC to include 252 fiber connections in Comptche (yeah!). The Comptche Broadband Committee is pushing for more, but we need the CPUC to approve the filing. Please, please, please get me your letters so we can fight for you!
— Jim Gagnon, Comptche Broadband Committee, http://comptchebits.org/
PET OF THE WEEK
Benji is friendly and outgoing with people. This dapper gent enjoys walks and would love to become your strolling buddy! Benji needs some work on large dog socializing, but he seems to do well with smaller dogs. We would like Benji to meet any potential housemates. Benji is 3 years old and 47 pounds, and is a guest at the Ft. Bragg Shelter.
We loved hanging out with Nubbins during his evaluation—he’s such a happy dog. Nubs enjoys meeting everyone, and since he does not have a tail, he simply wiggles his entire rear end! Nubbins is a little playful with toys and appears friendly and playful with other dogs. He does have a few medical issues the shelter will be treating, but he’s ready to meet his new family ASAP! Nubbins is 3 years old and 61 pounds, and is a guest at the Ukiah Shelter.
For more about Benji and Nubbins, head over to http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/
Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
AV EVENTS TODAY
Free Entry to Hendy Woods State Park for local residents
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 7:00 AM
Where: Hendy Woods State Park
AV Grange Pancake and Egg Breakfast
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 8:30 AM
Where: Anderson Valley Grange, 9800 CA-128, Philo
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 10:00 AM
Where: 12761 Anderson Valley Way, Boonville
Memorial for Diane Hering
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 12:00 PM
Where: Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville, 14400 Highway 128, Boonville
The Anderson Valley Museum Open
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 1:00 PM
Where: The Anderson Valley Museum, 12340 Highway 128, Boonville
AV Village Monthly Gathering: Anderson Valley Village's Got Talent
Sun 07 / 10 / 2022 at 4:00 PM
Where: Anderson Valley Senior Center, 14470 Highway 128, Boonville
List of events: andersonvalley.helpfulvillage.com/events/index_list
FORT BRAGG SMELLS; BOONVILLE WON’T
If you check the Fort Bragg website (https://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/fort-bragg-wastewater-treatment-plant-upgrade) you can see exactly why they have problems with odor due to the way they are processing solids. This is an “old-fashioned” sewer treatment plant that uses an anaerobic processing system (sludge ponds) that produce methane and other smelly gases. This is VASTLY different from our future MBR (Membrane Bioreactor = membranes plus bacteria) system which uses aerobic processing and produces odor-free carbon dioxide. All our processing will be within an enclosed building or under the ground. There will not be a pond. The secondary-plus (practically tertiary) treated effluent will be clean water that will go into an underground leach field – that is the water that is not diverted beforehand by customers who would like water for irrigation, watering stock, fire suppression, road construction, etc. Basically any use aside from human consumption.
Although Boonville did not choose to pursue a sewer system back in the 1980’s when there was the possibility of State funding, at least now we are the beneficiaries of modern technology.
Valerie Hanelt, Chair
Anderson Valley Community Services District Board
JEFF BURROUGHS: I ran across this map while looking for well I can't remember what I was looking for but anyway... I found this interesting, it shows the town of Comfort on the Mountain View Road and it shows the town of Hermitage between Yorkville and Cloverdale both of which I am aware of but I've never seen on a map, which is cool but there's a reference to some place called Fairbanks between Boonville and Ukiah that has me mystified.
FORMER UPD SGT. REACHES PLEA DEAL
by Justine Frederiksen
Former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin P. Murray, who was fired last year after being arrested for allegedly breaking into a woman’s hotel room and sexually assaulting her in November of 2020, has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that dismisses five felonies, including three sex offenses, he was previously charged with.
According to Mendocino County Superior Court documents, in a hearing Thursday Murray, 38, pleaded “no contest” to two new charges: one felony, intimidating a witness identified only as S.Y., and one misdemeanor, false imprisonment of a person identified only as Jane Doe.
According to the minutes of the hearing, the charges Murray pleaded “no contest” to were recently added as charges 7 and 8. The original six charges in the complaint were: two counts of felony burglary in the first degree and one count of felony sexual battery alleged to have occurred on Nov. 25, 2020; one count of felony forcible rape alleged to have occurred on June 1, 2014, one count of felony forcible oral copulation with a child under 14 years of age alleged to have occurred on April 10, 2014, and one count of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, alleged to have occurred on Dec. 1, 2020.
Also according to the court documents, Murray may only face two years probation when sentenced on Aug. 24.
When reached Friday for comment on the plea agreement, Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster directed all inquiries to Deputy District Attorney Heidi Larson, who did not return a phone call.
Reached for comment Friday, Murray’s attorney Stephen Gallenson confirmed that all sex offenses against Murray had been dismissed, and that his client will not have to register as a sex offender. He also said that the sixth charge, listed in court documents as “forced oral copulation with a child under 14 years of age,” is incorrect.
Gallenson explained that Murray was never charged with a sexual offense involving a minor, and that the sixth charge was filed with the wrong statute number. In the amended charging documents filed in Mendocino County Superior Court in February of 2022, the sixth charge against Murray is listed as “forcible oral copulation, a felony violation of section 288(c)(2)(A), the predecessor statue to section 287(c)(2).”
When asked why all sex offenses against Murray had been dismissed, Gallenson said that, in his opinion, the charges would have been hard to prove.
Murray is also named in a lawsuit filed by a former Ukiah Police officer who alleges that she was assaulted by him shortly after being hired by the Ukiah Police Department, then was “repeatedly subjected to harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliatory adverse actions in response to reporting the unlawful conduct.”
According to the complaint filed in Mendocino County Superior Court in August of 2021, Isabel Siderakis, who was Isabel Madrigal when she was hired by the UPD in 2013, alleges that while in training she was sexually assaulted by Murray.
The UPD and the city of Ukiah are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
A READER WRITES: The outrage about former Ukiah Police Sergeant Kevin Murray’s minimum punishment plea deal is of course justified. Given the charges, Murray should have done time in prison. However wrong-headed the deal sounds, nobody ever said DA Eyster was irrational. I suspect that Murray’s defense team threatened a defense that would have put the Ukiah Police Department and the victims and witnesses on trial. Would Andrian have called former UPD Chief Justin Wyatt to testify? It’s also possible that there were witness/victim and evidence problems with at least some of the charges. With the plea deal, we’ll probably never know. What did the UPD know and/or not do about Murray before his misbehavior became public? If one of the victims is a “prostitute” it’s possible that the DA didn’t want to put her on the stand or that she herself was reluctant. We’re owed an explanation, but I don’t think we’ll get one.
WE ENJOYED this bit of satire, a reader sent in:
Satire: Please Publish Sunday In A Clearly Labeled Fashion
by Fatt Meaver
Contact: Fatt Meaver, Fatt.Meaver@protonmail.com, 707-393-7837, 707-EYE-STER
DA Eyester and Judge Dolan to celebrate acquittal of pro-bono client Kevin Murray with steak dinner banquet Sunday at The Broiler
(REDWOOD VALLEY, CALIF) Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyester and Mendocino County Court Superior Judge will be holding a press availability Sunday evening at The Broiler Steakhouse in Redwood Valley.
Former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin Murray will also be available for interviews.
"I work hard to make sure your tax dollars go to the right people, for the right people, and I'm inviting the general public to dine out on asset forfeiture funds like I do Sunday evening!" Eyester said. "Getting Kevin off wasn't easy, but you all helped me do it! Now it's my turn to repay the favor."
WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, July 10
WHERE: The Broiler Steak House
8400 Uva Drive, Redwood Valley
Bring your cameras! Bring your wallets! Tip your servers!
MENDO’S WATER ROLE IN THE DROUGHT
by Supervisor Dan Gjerde
Memo to Supervisors, Date: July 7, 2022
From: Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Gjerde
To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
County Of Mendocino Board Of Supervisors
501 Low Gap Road • Room 1010 Ukiah, California 95482
RE: What is the County of Mendocino’s role in water and helping water districts? Board Water Item, July 12, 2022
For your consideration:
1) In the last 12 months the Board set aside an astounding $2.2 million in General Fund monies to assist the water districts. Of this, $1.2 million remains unallocated and available for the Board to allocate to assist water districts, considerably more money than the Board understood to be available at the June 21 meeting. With all these dollars still available, I see no compelling reason at this time to redirect additional General Fund dollars to assist the water districts or redirect to the topic of water. (For details, see separate email by Acting Deputy CEO Sara Pierce.)
2) In the last 12 months County staff, County consultants and the Board’s Drought Ad Hoc of Supervisors McGourty and Haschak worked successfully with water districts and our state legislators to secure more than $24 million for water projects. That success should be acknowledged and celebrated. In fact, we should attempt to replicate it while the State can offer grants for water projects. To that point, the State’s FY2022-23 budget includes a surplus of nearly $100 billion and provides one-time grants for public works projects. California is unlikely to have a significant surplus the following year, however. It is my judgement that in the next 12 months the Board would be wise to direct most of the available $1.2 million to assist water districts while State dollars remain available. Assistance should be offered, that is, as soon as the Board adopts foundational principles and parameters for support from the County. (Recommended goals and principles are included on page two of this memo.)
3) What is the role of the County? What is the role of the water districts and their customers? The Water Funding Ad Hoc of Supervisor Mulheren and myself was tasked with identifying possible funding sources. But this was before the Board understood $1.2 million remains available and before the Board defined the circumstances under which the County of Mendocino might offer financial assistance to water districts. At this moment, I believe the next step for the Board is to clarify the role of the County of Mendocino in the realm of water, and then we will have parameters for allocating the available $1.2 million to assist water district water projects.
The following is a draft proposal attempting to outline the role of the County of Mendocino in the field of water and a proposal for the County’s work with water districts. It provides draft goals, draft definitions of assistance, and a draft of the partnerships to be offered by the County with water districts.
Proposed goals for County of Mendocino’s role in water and helping water districts:
a) Primary goal is to “assist” with the delivery of safe drinking water to residents; and b) Secondary goal is to “assist” with the delivery of water to commercial and agricultural customers.
Proposed assistance provided by County of Mendocino:
a) To assist with preparing project design and grant applications; and b) To assist in seeking approval of permits for water projects and water rights.
Proposed partnership provided by County of Mendocino:
a) The County’s foundational principle is that the sale of water is to be the typical source of funding for water projects, with limited financial assistance from the County a possible exception to the rule, if the County has funding available for this purpose; and b) In fairness to County taxpayers who already pay the prevailing rate for water, water districts seeking assistance from the County of Mendocino shall demonstrate their customers are paying rates approximate to the average price in California to be eligible for possible assistance from the County.
* * *
MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES:
The attached list of over $24 million in “Drought Program Funding” is short of actual drought relief. The “programs” may be helpful to some extent in a few limited areas, but 1) they do not mention any metering, gaging, conservation or loss/leak prevention at all, and 2) Very few are storage projects or new sources of water; but there’s plenty of plumbing, pumping and admin.
The Ukiah Pump intertie (plumbing), Ukiah/Fort Bragg Water hauling, Redwood Valley Booster Pump, SoCo Water Agency “Resiliency” program, the Fort Bragg Raw water pipeline, Brooktrails Clarifier and the Round Valley Groundwater vulnerability… programs will not produce any new water or storage.
Only the Redwood Valley well ($1.8 million), storage tanks for Manchester Indians. ($3.2 million), the Town of Mendo Storage Tanks ($4.9 million) and the Irish Beach well activation. ($400k.) are legitimate drought relief programs.
In other words, less than half of the items on “drought program funding” have anything to do with addressing the “drought.” Plumbing and pumps and admin and other ordinary system upgrades should not be included in the drought list. This is obvious hype intended for a public (and a Board of Supervisors) that is allergic to fine print. In addition, the $5 million Mendocino storage tank project includes costs for much more than just tanks and plumbing such as admin, EIRs, permits and planning, and it won’t be on line for an estimated five years.
* * *
Much as we agree with Supervisor Gjerde that the Cheap Water Mafia’s water rates in Potter Valley are way too low and should be raised to something like the going rate so they can finance their own water projects, his numbers for the Potter Valley Irrigation District are questionable. Gjerde’s correct in observing that $21.50 per acre foot is ludicrously low. But there’s no indication that raising that cost to upwards of $200 an acre foot would produce anywhere near $1 or $2 million per year that Gjerde claims. At $200 an acre foot, that would mean that the Potter Valley Irrigation District would have to sell 5,000 acre feet per year at $200 per to generate even $1 million, or over 60% of Mendo’s total allocation of Lake Mendocino. Also, there are two kinds of water users in Potter Valley: Grape growers and non-grape growers. If water rates were raised to $200 per acre-foot (as they should be), it’s likely that the non-grape growers wouldn’t use as much if at all, further lowering the net revenue that could be generated. (Grape growers might use less too, which would be good, but would generate less revenue.)
In other words, Mendo should stop bragging about its very limited “drought funding” grant grabbing disbursements and start doing something about the actual drought.
But Gjerde is right in demanding that Potter Valley should start paying a fair price for their water before Official Mendo ponies up any more than it already has.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
And some wonder why Ukiah is going to Hell in a handbasket. They give $200k to a guy walking around naked in front of businesses in broad daylight on LSD and now reward one of their finest with a free pass to go screw up again! At least they got an In n Out burger now!
My favorite thing about teaching line dancing is having people that “don’t dance” get it. The look on their faces is priceless. We do 15 songs, it’s a cardio workout, takes about 45-50 min depending on if we have new songs. Classic and current country hits as well as pop and rock. I know budgets are tight that’s why Monday mornings are free. If mornings aren’t for you I have Tuesday and Thursday evening classes as well. But really… where are my early birds? We have two people. I’d like to have at least five. Set those alarms!!
DEMOLISHING THE CONGRESSMAN’S OFFICE
by Mark Scaramella
In July of 2021 Congressman Jared Huffman’s Ukiah Field Office was nearly destroyed by a fire of still undetermined origin out on Low Gap Road: mendofever.com/2021/07/06/modular-building-on-ukiahs-low-gap-road-goes-up-in-flames/
Generously described at the time of the fire as a “modular building,” Huffman’s office was effectively destroyed leaving a substantial demolition and clean-up project for the County (we do not know if Huffman’s trailer was insured nor why the clean-up cost is being covered by the County. Perhaps it was a lease.)
It has taken a year for the County to arrange for the demolition and removal of Huffman’s nearly destroyed trailer. Last week, local contractor Cupples Construction (and deconstruction?) finally began the work of demolishing the structure and removing it.
County Facilities Staffer Walter Kolon passed along some photos of the work, adding that the project is a mini-version of what is being planned for the Whitmore Lane site where the County hopes to build a Psychiatric Health Facility (“PHF”) some day.
Kolon: “[Huffman’s office] “was a modular and not well built. Also it was built over a very thick concrete loading ramp that was probably part of the old hospital years ago. The ramp also has to be taken out and filled. The demolition on that project was around $48,000. Demo costs are going up because of cost of fuel and dump fees. A lot of the loads of detritus had to be taken to a Willits disposal site because the Ukiah dump site does not have the proper permits to accept certain types of waste. More time and fuel trucking it to Willits.” … “What’s coming up now are the costs and time for asbestos and other non-disposable items abatement that needs to be done before demolition can even start. For example, there was mastic under all the floor tiles that needs to be removed before demolition, that in itself is a big job. And that’s just one source of asbestos.”
THE SEA-RANCHER: The Editors Throw Their Hat Into The Vacant TSRA Board Seat Ring
In case you haven’t been paying attention, one of The Ranch Association’s Board Directors is moving away, leaving an empty board seat behind. In these circumstances, the remaining TSRA board members select the replacement.
So we’re making it official: One or more of The Sea Ranch Reader editors are throwing their hat into the ring.
We have published the entirety of our letter of interest below, which was sent to each board member this morning.
Dear The Sea Ranch Association Board of Directors,
We have some bad news. One of our board members wanted to be considered for the open, interim board seat left by Michael Kleeman. We took a vote, and the motion narrowly passed. Then, after that passed, another one of us jumped on the bandwagon. Then another. Next thing you know, even those that initially voted against the motion wanted to throw their hat into the ring as well.
Most weeks, being part of the editorial staff here is exhausting.
So, with great reluctance and ambivalence, some of our editors are entering the race for consideration and maybe 2 or 3 votes from the current board members.
Why are any of our editors fit to represent the interests of the greater The Sea Ranch community? Because they have the experience, passion, and ample free time to do the job.
Let’s take a closer look at where they sometimes fall on the issues, when forced into a corner:
We support trees unless they are in front of our houses. Or, when we think about it, on any side of our houses. Basically, trees are fine as long as they aren’t anywhere near our houses.
We like to see trees from a very long, far-off distance, preferably not blocking any white water, meadow and hillside views that our blue-chip and “founding Sea Ranch father” architects obviously designed our houses’ orientation around. Joseph Esherick didn’t put that northwest-facing window there, just to stare at a bunch of tree trunks and wax myrtle.
We’re not against certain trees because of forest fires and rising insurance premiums. We mean, we are, we guess. But more importantly, we just don’t think most of them look great. Especially up close.
If we had to pick the one tree we like least at The Sea Ranch, it’s the Douglas Fir. They don’t grow well in this environment and are inevitably stunted, needle-bare and just aren’t attractive. So we’d support a ban on those.
We think wildlife at The Sea Ranch is over-rated and we pledge to end the incessant celebration of our banal neighbors. It’s too much and, frankly, after you see a few hunky bucks, red tailed hawks or foxes, you’ve seen them all.
Trail cam photos will be banned. Pictures or videos of the sheep will also be banned.
The whales are still pretty cool, though. Not banned.
Diversity on The Board of Directors
Our potential diversity contribution to the TSRA board demographic mix is meh, at best. But we would bring a diverse range of quitting experience to the TSRA board. One of our editors dropped out of high school and another dropped out of their Ph.D. program.
Here’s another one for you. One of our editors lived in Boston and in Pittsburg, PA in quick succession about 20 years ago. That editor says, if they were forced to choose between living in one of those places again, they’d favor Pittsburgh “any flippin’ day of the week, no contest.” Believe us, we’ve pressed hard on this issue and can report that we have no reason to doubt that editor’s sincerity. So how’s that for diversity! I bet none of the other board members would make the same, bold and controversial claim!
We are in favor of equestrians. But we propose a CC&R amendment stating that any hiking TRSRA member who produces a valid membership ID, on any trail, while passing a horse and/or being passed by a horse is entitled to a single sincere apology from the rider.
A simple, “I am sooooo sorry” while making deep eye contact will suffice.
They’re fine. But the renters don’t know how to check themselves into Moonraker pool and we know FOR A FACT that whenever we see food sitting at the bottom of the shallow end of that pool, there’s a vacation renter behind it.
Vacation renters are barbarians at the gate. And deep down inside, you know it too. Also, do you really believe we’d need those eyesore signs that remind you not to bring your adult children into the wrong bathroom at Moonraker if vacationers weren’t there? Of course not.
We believe that short-term rentals should be allowed, so long as the renters are (primarily) confined to the unit they are renting. They should only be allowed on our trails between 4 am and 7 am, and maybe again just after dusk, to draw predator attention away from actual property owners. And they should never be allowed into Moonraker pool until they learn some manners.
And, frankly, we should just give up our member rights to the Ohlson pool. The rental vacationers have won that territory and without drastic measures, it’s not changing anytime soon.
But we should employ the same tactics that we recommend for equestrians. Any time a member produces a membership ID card to a vacation renter at Ohlson, the renter will be required to offer a sincere sounding apology (e.g., “I’m, so, so sorry we’re using your pool today.”)
We are in support of sizable, permanent restrooms in same vein as National Parks, so long as they are restricted to two areas of The Sea Ranch: holes 1 through 10 at the links course and in that big meadow that the Lodge owns.
We refuse to take any stance on this deeply controversial issue. For one, we are unqualified to address it. For two, it’s just too important to mess up.
We support creating three task forces with overlapping responsibilities and remits to investigate our options and provide lengthy reports to the entire TSRA membership.
Bikes on Trails
We’re fans of mountain and trail biking as much as the next middle age-ish, affluent guy with an abundance of free time. But let’s face facts: our trails are a collective mountain biking yawn. They are just not that challenging, or even that interesting.
Since the ratio of pleasure over damage to trails is so small, we support a total ban of all bikes, on all trails, at all times. The snoozer ride is just not worth it. Bike on a road and save us all some trail maintenance.
We are in favor of any proposal that would completely ban COVID-19 at The Sea Ranch. In fact, we can’t figure out why more governments haven’t thought of that.
Reproductive Rights At The Sea Ranch
We are not in favor of some proposals we have seen, recommending a ban on any abortions not scheduled at least 6 weeks in advance of conception. That seems too draconian, even for this rule-loving bunch.
We’re excited to bring bold new thinking to the TSRA board of directors. We thank the existing board members for their consideration and look forward to downing a few kamikaze shots with them at the Lodge after they vote us into their esteemed ranks.
THAT WAS COOL: STOP THE CAR, THERE’S A HISTORICAL LANDMARK!
by Justine Frederiksen
On our first road trip together, my husband and I had “The Scones Incident.”
“Could you get me a tall coffee?” he asked outside a Starbucks in Barstow. But when I came back to the car, I was holding only one cup.
“Where’s my coffee?” he said.
I held up the bag in my other hand. “I got distracted by the pastry case. There were scones!”
He just shook his head and laughed.
That was cool.
Because two decades and countless miles later, I’m still getting distracted by scones, only now they are Historical Landmark signs.
“Wait, ‘World’s First Long-Distance Telephone Line?! Can we check it out, please?!” I cried while we were heading down Highway 20 near Grass Valley last summer. I had no idea there was such a thing in Northern California, and now I had to see it.
A bit miraculously, my husband agreed to head up Pleasant Valley Road to French Corral, the tiny town where the telephone line had been strung. But although there’s really nothing else in French Corral except a few houses and a cool, barn-like Wells Fargo building, we could not find that promised piece of history, despite driving by it twice that first day.
I figured I’d never get to see that marker, but when we passed the sign on Hwy. 20 again on our way home from Grass Valley the next day, my husband asked with a sigh, “Do you want to try again?”
I sure did! And this time when we crawled down that road once we reached French Corral, our eyes peeled, I finally spotted the marker, which is barely bigger than a mailbox, with no sign next to it.
But it is right next to someone’s driveway, which is probably why it’s so hard to find. Maybe there used to be a sign and whoever lives there took it down, sick of people like me looking for that “dang marker.”
Finding that historical landmark took two days and 40 extra miles on narrow, winding mountain roads, but I was so happy to see it, and even happier that my husband had offered to drive me there — twice.
Because years earlier he threw a fit when I wanted to make another side trip. We had stopped at a park to pee the dog on the last leg of another road trip when I saw a short trail of Donner Party historical sites I wanted to check out, but my husband did not want to wait for me to walk that extra mile.
In his defense, he had just spent the last two weeks driving us to Yellowstone National Park and back through snow and the dog’s explosive diarrhea, and he just wanted to get home. But this trail would just take another 15 minutes, I argued, and when would I be back there again?
I did end up walking the trail that day, but my husband wasn’t happy about it. So it was that much cooler when he offered, twice, to try and find another historical site. Maybe he has finally completely given into those scones?!
PAPERMAKING WORKSHOPS AT GRACE HUDSON
On July 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., two one-hour-long workshops will be taught at the Grace Hudson Museum by artist and teacher Jim McKell. Participants will learn about the process of papermaking while creating their own handmade paper to take home. This program is suitable for anyone 13 years of age and older. There is a fee of $15 per student.
To secure your spot in one of the workshops, call the Museum at (707) 467-2836.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org.
A READER WRITES Re: low juror turnout:
Current fuel prices and inflation.
Insufficient compensation for lost wages/mileage expenses.
Lack of confidence in “justice/legal system”: pay-to-play, prop 47, early prisoner releases, etc. etc.
Failure of the court to respond sensibly, from any perspective, to Corona virus concerns.
Inability of the court to sort out the Ten Mile-to-ukiah issue.
Quick Question - if a non-citizen with no ability to speak, understand, or read English is exempted from jury service then why the hell are they allowed to vote in our elections? The last two times I was called in to jury duty the defendant had to wear translator headphones. Mixed messages
JUST GIVE THEM THE MONEY ALREADY
I was pleased to read that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors decided to earmark sales tax revenue for fire protection services. I hope as part of the tax measure that the board will insert language that distributes the new revenue evenly to all of the county's fire districts. Because of the mutual aid agreements all of the fire districts respond to emergencies throughout the County and should receive equal support.
I would also suggest adding ambulance services to the tax measure. The majority of calls that fire districts respond to are medical emergencies which require the assistance of ambulances to provide transportation. Our Coast Life Support district is a bi-county special district that stretches from Irish Beach to south of Fort Ross in Sonoma County. It could use the additional funding.
Since all special districts are dependent on tax assessments and user fees, it would be prudent to support the ambulances that provide valuable assistance to our fire agencies.
The County still has money from the $16 million American Rescue Plan that can be used for water, sewer or broadband services. The County has up to December 31, 2024, to obligate that money.
I encourage the Board to address the serious water issues that face all of us by identifying projects that could be funded from the American Rescue Plan.
Lastly, I recently found out that the new waste management contract currently with Waste Management that serves the coast transitioned to Redwood Waste Solutions effective July 1.
The new service would add green waste containers. But unfortunately not for the South Coast from Irish Beach to Gualala. Why not? We are paying a lot of taxes with little return in services.
SCOTT SALO is the dozer operator badly injured Friday off Flynn Creek Road. We don't yet have an update on his condition. The accident knocked out power in the Comptche area for two hours.
AFTER NEARLY A DECADE of silence as 4th District Supervisor, Dan Gjerde, seemingly scared mute during the long and disastrous reign of CEO Mommy Dearest, has emerged from his cryonic chamber uncharacteristically combative. We were surprised and pleased at his aggressively correct denunciation of Potter Valley's cheap water gentry, and surprised again by his snippy but incorrect exchange with Fort Bragg councilman, Lindy Peters:
Gjerde: Hello, Council Member Peters. Do you know the judge who dismissed you is an employee of the State of California? Do you know all of the Courts in Mendocino County are operated by the State of California, not the County of Mendocino? If so, why do you address these comments to the County of Mendocino each time you tell this story? …As to the suggestion, yes, why can’t the State Superior Court conduct jury selection with some jurists attending in-person at the State’s Superior Court in Ukiah and with others attending in-person at the State’s Superior Court in Fort Bragg? The State Superior Court officials do have experience participating in Zoom meetings, after all.
Peters: Yes I know all of that. Don’t be condescending to me Dan. You are above that I thought. So go ahead. Keep defending the system you’ve sadly become part of.
Gjerde: I’m not defending the outdated jury selection process of the State’s Superior Courts. I’m simply curious why each time you tell the story you take aim at the County of Mendocino, which does not manage the Superior Courts.
Peters: This is from the State statutes governing jury selection:
“2) The prospective juror must travel an excessive distance. Unless otherwise established by statute or local rule, an excessive distance is reasonable travel time that exceeds one-and-one-half hours from the prospective juror’s home to the court.”
Note it says “unless otherwise established by statute or LOCAL RULE.” Has the Board of Supervisors, any of them, looked into changing this absurd process we have of jury selection here? It actually takes an hour and a half for most cautious drivers to even get to Ukiah. Maybe try to override the State they always blame for this debacle with a more fair and just method of handling coastal residents who might otherwise serve?
Dear AVA Readers,
Words cannot adequately express the gratitude which I feel for having received three books from an anonymous reader of the Advertiser. Not only am I thankful for something to read in solitary confinement, I am most thankful to be reminded that there are still kind giving people in this world.
Thank you, and God bless.
Alan Crow A#6325
Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
THE REDWOOD EMPIRE FAIR returns to Ukiah’s Redwood Empire Fairgrounds Thursday, August 4th through Sunday, August 7th with activities and entertainment for the entire family. The fair will feature a large variety of exhibitors competing for ribbons in multiple categories. Pre-registration for all exhibits must be received by Friday, July 15th at 5 p.m. and can be submitted through the Redwood Empire Fair’s website.
“We invite a variety of exhibitors to enter and compete for the coveted blue ribbon,” said Jennifer Seward, Fair CEO. “Come show off your skills and unique crafts or products to the many local community members who will be enjoying the fair.”
Classes are offered for all ages in quilting, floriculture, painting, baked goods, woodworking and many other hobbies.
Interested exhibitors should visit the Redwood Empire Fair’s website at www.redwoodempirefair.com and click the “online entries” tab to find more information on the competition as well as step-by-step instructions on how to register. Exhibitors are encouraged to register as soon as possible in order to meet the July 15th deadline for exhibits.
IT'S ONE AYEM IN COVELO.....
On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at approximately 1:00 A.M. a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff was on routine patrol in Covelo. The Deputy saw a vehicle traveling on Foothill Boulevard and observed a vehicle code violation.
The Deputy conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. The Deputy contacted a female adult who provided her name and date of birth. During the contact, the Deputy was able to determine the female adult had provided him with a false name, belonging to a real person (a family member).
The Deputy was able to determine the female adult's actual identity was Keisha Hoaglin, 33, of Covelo. Hoaglin was found to have an active warrant for her arrest. The Deputy observed drug paraphernalia (methamphetamine smoking pipes) in plain view within the vehicle. The Deputy also observed a case commonly used to store a firearm, on the back seat of the vehicle.
Hoaglin was removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest for the warrant. The Deputy conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle and located the following items:
-Two baggies containing a total of 43.8 grams of suspected methamphetamine.
-A loaded AR-15 style rifle which had several features classifying it as an assault weapon and a short barreled rifle. The rifle did not have a serial number and appeared to be a privately manufactured firearm.
-Numerous live rounds of various calibers of ammunition.
-Methamphetamine smoking pipe.
Based on the investigation, the Deputy was able to determine Hoaglin possessed the suspected methamphetamine for the purpose of sales. The Deputy also determined Hoaglin was currently addicted to methamphetamine, causing her to be prohibited from possessing any firearms.
Hoaglin was placed under arrest for Felony Possession of an Assault Weapon, Felony Possession of a Short Barreled Rifle, Felon/Addict in Possession of a Firearm, Felony Possession of a Controlled substance while Armed, Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sales, Felony Transportation of a Controlled Substance, Felony False Impersonation of Another, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and a Misdemeanor Arrest Warrant.
Hoaglin was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $37,500 bail.
CALLING ALL CAT MOTHER FANS! Here’s a compilation video of Cat Mother performances and songs, along with some commentary from local folks who were there: catmotherscrapbook.com.php73-38.phx1-2.website...
𝘋𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘩𝘪𝘣𝘪𝘵! 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘒𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘏𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭 ‘70𝘴 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘊𝘢𝘵 𝘔𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘱𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘢, 𝘢𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘮𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬. 𝘊𝘢𝘵 𝘔𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘯𝘸𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘝𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘦, 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘠𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘪𝘯 1967. 𝘉𝘺 1970, 𝘊𝘢𝘵 𝘔𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘰 𝘊𝘰𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳 “𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘦𝘴” 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘢𝘴𝘵. 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘶𝘮 𝘏𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴: 𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘴 – 𝘚𝘶𝘯, 11 𝘈𝘔 – 3 𝘗𝘔.
CHRIS SKYHAWK: True stories of a former guerrilla mj grower…
Around 2005 or so I had MJ patches sprinkled around Albion, during one winter - I kept having dreams about a house near one of them I was always worried in the dream about getting busted….well, one day in the following summer I was tending the plants which were doing great they were already about 7 feet tall, I was liking thinking about how much $ I was going to make! Anyway 1 day I am out tending them and I look through the bushes there is a parked bulldozer about 80-100 feet away! My heart sinks, I went to investigate, someone was cutting in a road for a new house! I suddenly realized my dream had been telling me this all winter long! Now my problem is I’m 3 months from harvesting. There seems no way I can go that much longer w/o being discovered! I had some holes in another location that had failed, I thought maybe I could transplant. I certainly did not believe a plant that established could survive, and how would I get such large plants out undetected. I figured if I tried it on July 4, that everyone would be busy with holidays, and would be undetected - so that’s what I did! So on that July 4, I snuck in there with my shovel and started digging, plopped the root balls in 5 gal buckets, and took them to their new homes, for at least a few weeks they were as sad as could be - every time I tended them they are sagging and I thought they would die - I gave them tons of Vitamin B and prayer, prayer, and more prayer - that certainly seemed very accusatory towards me “Dood WTH were you thinking?” Well they survived and while their yield was severely impacted - I got some buds out of them, we all did some pretty crazy Sh! In those years…I’m a pretty stubborn man! I think that’s why I’m not dead…….
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 9, 2022
JOEL ALVAREZ-LOPEZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
SHASHANNA CAMPBELL, Covelo. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%.
TONIA CRANE, Lucerne/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
AMBROSE FALLIS, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KRISTIAN LALA, Yonkers, New York/Ukiah. DUI.
OSCAR MARTINEZ-RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Saps/similar weapons.
DOMINGO MUNOZ-MORALES, Fresno/Ukiah. Loaded handgun-not registered owner.
VERONICA OROZCO, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
LISA RODMAN, Willits. DUI, no license.
DONALD VINSON, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.
TYLER WAGGONER, Ukiah. DUI.
AZAIAH ZACARIAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
UKRAINE TODAY, SATURDAY, JULY 9TH
Canada said it’s releasing to Germany a key part for the Nord Stream 1 natural-gas pipeline that got caught up in sanctions. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed Ukraine’s ambassadors to Germany and several other countries without explanation.
The US announced $368 million in humanitarian aid focused on providing food, safe drinking water and emergency health care for Ukraine. That’s on top of $400 million in additional military aid announced Friday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Group of 20 countries leaned on Russia to lift its blockade of Ukrainian grain exports. He specifically called on China to put pressure on its ally to relent.
WEEDKILLER INGREDIENT TIED TO CANCER found in 80% of US urine samples
More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called “disturbing” and “concerning”.
The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children ranging from six to 18.
BIOGRAPHY IS THE MEDIUM through which the remaining secrets of the famous dead are taken from them and dumped out in full view of the world. The biographer at work, indeed, is like the professional burglar, breaking into a house, rifling through certain drawers that he has good reason to think contain the jewelry and money, and triumphantly bearing his loot away. The voyeurism and busybodyism that impel writers and readers of biography alike are obscured by an apparatus of scholarship designed to give the enterprise an appearance of banklike blandness and solidity. The biographer is portrayed almost as a kind of benefactor. He is seen as sacrificing years of his life to his task, tirelessly sitting in archives and libraries and patiently conducting interviews with witnesses. There is no length he will not go to, and the more his book reflects his industry the more the reader believes that he is having an elevating literary experience, rather than simply listening to backstairs gossip and reading other people’s mail.
— Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
TEN BOOKS EVERY SAN FRANCISCAN SHOULD READ
by Sarah Wright
Every year, my father gets me books for my birthday. It’s a mutually beneficial tradition—he gets to share in our love of reading while continuing to exert his influence over my life, even now that I’ve long moved out from under his roof. I, on the other hand, get a bunch of books.
Late last year, I moved from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco. So the theme of 2022’s collection was obvious: Books about my current city, which I would soon be diving straight into as a reporter for The Standard.
Now, I’ll admit I haven’t made it through the list in its entirety—in part due to the pressures of a monthly book-turned-trivia club that often dominates my free reading time. But those that I have paged through have fundamentally changed the way I see and understand the city and have deepened my appreciation for its history, challenges and beauty.
My track workouts at Kezar Stadium are that much more epic now that I know it used to be the home of the 49ers. And meandering down Haight Street takes on new meaning with Joan Didion’s prose in my head.
Don’t like history books? Don’t stress. There’s something for everyone on this list. So without further ado, head to your local bookstore or library and pick up a few titles—and get ready for the city of St. Francis to open its doors to you.
‘McTeague: A Story of San Francisco’ by Frank Norris - We’re going way back in time with this classic. Published in 1899 and set in San Francisco, the novel follows a local couple as they struggle to get by in the early days of the city. Romance and tragedy novel lovers, this one is for you.
‘Frog Music’ by Emma Donoghue - You’ll never explore the city center the same way after devouring this vibrant tale of resilience and self-discovery. Set in the summer of 1876 amid the smallpox epidemic, the scenes of San Francisco’s streets come alive in a romanticized retelling of a still-unsolved murder mystery.
‘The Mayor of Castro Street’ by Randy Shilts - It’s hard to explain to newcomers the legacy that Harvey Milk has left on the city, or to imagine a similar scene of devastation that was his assassination unfolding in City Hall today. This 1982 biography of the former supervisor and gay San Francisco leader is a must-read if you’re even a little into local politics.
‘Last Night at the Telegraph Club’ by Malinda Lo - Young adult fiction lovers, rejoice. Here’s a story about a young daughter of Chinese immigrants who seeks refuge in San Francisco’s early lesbian bars as she explores her independence and her sexuality. Next time you’re in North Beach, grab a copy and see how the streets bustle with the shadows of the 1950s. Pretty soon, you too will be lusting after a cozy Telegraph Hill apartment.
‘The Joy Luck Club’ by Amy Tan - Cozy up with a full plate of dim sum and this Chinatown classic and tune into the stories of four immigrant mothers and their American children—a multigenerational saga that’s even become required reading in some California schools.
‘Tales of the City’ by Armistead Maupin - It’s true. Neighborhood drama is a core part of living in San Francisco, where your business becomes everyone’s business. This 1970s comedy, first published as a newspaper serial in The San Francisco Chronicle, peeks into one “chosen family” who make the city feel like home.
‘Ferlinghetti, A Life’ by Neeli Cherkovski - Ever wondered how San Francisco became famous for its poets? This new expanded edition of the 1979 biography of Lawrence Ferlinghetti was published just this year following the famed poet and City Lights Booksellers owner’s death at 101.
‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ by Joan Didion - Joan Didion’s death late last year demands a revisiting of her most potent descriptions of San Francisco hippy life from its epicenter in the Haight. This nonfiction essay collection is about as California as it gets.
JUAN MARICHAL EMBRACES WILLIE MAYS after Mays hit a home run to win the game for Marichal. Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal pitched to a 16 inning 0-0 tie prior to Mays' home run, July 2, 1963. Couldn't happen today, what with pitch count metrics and relief pitchers every six innings. The old game was better, much better. Believe it or not, outfielders could catch fly balls, and guys stole home, there were no batting gloves and all the other gear the modern weightlifters require.
CAMP LEJEUNE & THE PACT ACT
What The Media Is Not Telling Americans About Camp Lejeune:
The media didn't tell you when and how the contamination was discovered. Congress passed laws under the Clean drinking water act 1970, fifty-two years ago, authorizing EPA to test community drinking water ANYWHERE on U.S soil. They tested water on Camp Lejeune in 1980. This is what they discovered.
The base covers 243 square miles, where EPA found 160 chemical dumpsites, finding 70 toxic chemicals.
Congress passed the Janey Ensminger Act in 2012, using federal laws under the 1970 Clean drinking water act.
The list includes:
- Number of exposed.
- Time duration of chemical exposure.
- Chemicals involved.
Congress provided funding for medical care to just 900,000 Marines, writing the check of taxpayer dollars to Department of Defense for VA to provide medical care for fifteen presumptive medical conditions. The settlement covers four of the seventy chemicals
- VINYL CLORIDE
Family members and civilian workers affected were left to sue North Carolina for exposure, but lost their case because it exceeded the 10 year statue of limitations.
The Department of Defense took possession of the funding, but never notified the 900,000 named VETERANS.
Who is going to know?
Camp Lejeune records provided Veterans names and addresses, which notifications were sent out telling us of possible exposure.
But never notified us about the settlement.
I learned January 2019. But I have been seeing the same VA Dr since 2007.
16,000 exposed Marines across the United States have been sharing their medical information, confirming VA Dr's saying they never heard of Camp Lejeune exposure.
That's like paying into Social security until time to collect and no record of paying into it EXISTS!
WHY INCREASE IN PUBLICITY NOW?!
Why is attorney firms flooding Facebook telling Americans exposed, we can sue the federal government NOW?
Congress will be back in session next week, from their Independence day vacation, to address the signing of The Pact Act, allowing civilians and Veterans exposed to toxic chemicals in a all in one package, including burn pit exposure and other exposure related disasters.
What you DIDN'T KNOW, is, under the Clean drinking water act Fifty-two years ago, Congress passed laws and provided federal funding for education, studies, student grants for advances in medical treatment of conditions caused by chemical exposure in drinking water.
Who, in the medical field is qualified to address medical conditions caused by chemical exposure?
Every Veteran exposed at Camp Lejeune suffering from one of the fifteen presumptive medical conditions that files a service connected claim , gets a response letter requiring scientific evidence the medical condition was caused by exposure at Camp Lejeune.
The American people deserves an answer from Congress. Can Congress show scientific evidence qualified medical care can be provided for exposure victims under the Pact Act?
It's only been FIFTY-TWO YEARS!
If you ask how this effects YOU? YOU are a U.S. CITIZEN.
TRUTH Joe Thurman United States Marine 707 391 7411
(via Eddie Thurman <email@example.com>)
READ MARC ARAX’S BOOK WITH ITS TITLE PARTICULARS (MCN Chatline)
While there are a lot of statistics in the story of California agriculture and almonds, two stand out: (1) Each almond takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce; (2) agriculture uses about 80% of the water used every year in California. Cities and fish take about 20%.
Together, these tell the story that big agriculture is taking most of the state's water. Any reductions aimed at cities or fish yield small results. Big ag, including the newly powerful almond lobby, needs to cut back in light of the shortages caused by the ongoing drought. Reading that a city or urban area reduced its usage by 15% is admirable, but it doesn't make a large difference.
The reason for the extraordinary growth and financial success of almonds is that the producers are paying far less for their water than is reasonable and fair. The people in the state are heavily subsidizing the almond growers who benefit from cheap water, taking the State's diminishing water supplies to sell to various overseas markets.
The almond lobby has become rich and powerful and has a large presence in Sacramento. So far, none of the politicians have been willing to take them on. That has to happen or our cities and urban areas will run out of water.
Huge new plantings of almonds are just coming into production. There is always a lag time between production and immense profits with trees that don't come into big production for 5-10 years. Because of that, it can be expected that more almonds will be produced each year than are produced now.
Almonds are not difficult to grow. I expect that other countries with better water supplies will start competing with California in the international market, driving the price down and increasing the supply of excess almonds in California. The reason almonds are not shipping may actually be connected to an international market that is already catching on to growing and selling almonds. I think almonds are significantly overplanted in California and expect to see old trees being removed, instead of new trees planted.
1 billion lbs of almonds going to waste... Before you attack almond growers too hard I think you should go after the number one conflict which is The Nestle corporation! I will always agree with big ag and opt for independent farmers. But almonds and almond milk are being pushed as an alternative to dairy because everyone is blaming CO2 emissions on cows. Again ignoring plastic manufacturing number one being again Nestle corporation. Nestle is stealing public water putting it in plastic bottles and selling it back to people. By the hundreds of millions of gallons. it is known they are illegally stealing the water but their lobbyists are even more powerful than the farmers lobbyists apparently. We need food we do not need a ton of water in plastic bottles.
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks, bankers, and politicians at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
If you don't take the time to do it right, you'll find the time to do it twice.
Don't corner something that is meaner than you.
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
Don't be banging your shin on a stool that's not in the way.
Borrowing trouble from the future doesn't deplete the supply.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Silence is sometimes the best answer.
Don‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin' you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and most of that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Most times, it just gets down to common sense.
DAVID TALBOT: The Biggest Liars in History.... I made this list quickly and honestly. These are the biggest disseminators of bullshit about "exceptional" America (and its discontents). Most are bestselling writers (alive and dead) -- though Steven Spielberg stands for decades of Hollywood propaganda about the "greatness" of our leaders and how (with swelling music) the arc of history bends inevitably toward justice blah, blah blah. All lies.
These hacks are often beloved by liberals and progressives. They gather plaudits in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times -- proof of their conventional (establishment) "wisdom" and mendacity. (Ken Auletta stands for all the limited hangout, half truths and pabulum about corporate media.)
What happened to the angry truth-tellers of yesteryear? The searing prophets like Gore Vidal, William Appleman Williams , Gabriel Kolko, C. Wright Mills, Frantz Fanon, etc. Noam Chomsky is still around and mostly, unnervingly right. But they are blacklisted from the mainstream media in our "free" country, so all most Americans see and hear are the following prevaricators. God help us all.
Top Ten Liars (in no special order):
1. Ken Burns
2. Walter Isaacson
3. Doris Kearns Goodwin
4. Michael Beschloss
5. Jon Meacham
6. Christopher Hitchens
7. Joan Didion
8. Robert Caro
9. Steven Spielberg
10. Ken Auletta
I went to the Mendocino July 4 parade. It was really nice to see such a big gathering with no masks, well maybe one or two. No boobs not bombs. Floats complaining about the recent court decision. The black signifiers mourning for lost loved ones. Little lost loved ones.
Let's consider the motivation of the right to life movement which the Court sided with. Apparently some people think it's wrong to kill babies or dispose of unwanted fetuses. I suspect that the right to life movement is mostly populated by women who have had an abortion and now suffer guilt for doing the wrong thing.
Listening to the enemy's propaganda — the one that wants your baby dead is the enemy. Here is some of the propaganda.
You are too young to have a baby.
You hate the father.
It is an inconvenient time in your life to have a baby.
It's okay to use abortion as a contraceptive.
Why not use common sense and don't do what will make you feel guilty or be guilty.
The court did the right thing, but it will not change the number of dead fetuses. There is going to be abortion states like California where women can come and remove unwanted fetuses and get paid to do so. As far as boobs not bombs, there is not not going to be any bombs just rot. When we are rotten enough and weak enough and boozed and drugged enough, we will be handed over to our enemy by our leaders. Other than the parade there were lots of babies, moms and dads enjoying themselves and it was a wonderful gray rainy day Fourth of July.
PS. What is freedom? Being your own boss is freedom. If that's not working out for you perhaps you should call the Democrat Program Hotline to find out what program is right for you. Crazy pay, welfare, homeless vouchers, etc. They want you to be weak and dependent and out of your right mind. Don't take your pills, do some work and be healthy. Happy Independence Day -- really.
THE ODESSA STEPS SEQUENCE
"Are they all constructed? Or do you ever use ones that are real?" "It's illegal to use real memories, Officer." "How can you tell the difference? Can you tell if something really happened?" "They all think it's about more detail. But that's not how memory works. We recall with our feelings. Anything real should be a mess. I can show you. Sit."
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-07-08) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0496
Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help over the years, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
Thanks go to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of the above 8-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Just $25 a year for full access to all articles and features. While you're feeling generous, go to KNYO.org, click on the big red heart and give what you can.
Email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio this next Friday night, just like every Friday night since 1997, oh, right, except for part of 2012, immediately after that lousy schmuck Claude Hooten bought KMFB to mutilate it like the Bad Seed strangling a loving pet to gut it and stuff it with kapok and change the call letters to KUNK (!) and sell it down the line for a hat-stand to some other schmuck. When I win the lottery I'm going back in time and unravel that entire horrible nightmare from the beginning. I got a weird feeling the first time I ever talked to him on the phone, and I didn't heed it. One for my gallery of sharp regrets. In short, a mess, see above.
Happier than that, speaking of telephony, in this show you'll hear Sy, the 19-year-old Vietnamese Elvis, play guitar and sing /Fly Me To The Moon/ in bilingual call-and-response duet with Kent Wallace, long-distance from beautiful Vietnam, risen from the ashes like a Phoenician phoenix. And Kent said that in a couple of weeks, Sy will call again and his girlfriend will be there and they'll all sing /Cherry Bomb/, also in melodious Vietnamese, so you have that to look forward to and anticipate.
Furthermore: at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
The land of the free and the home of the brave. AAAAIEEEEE!
Four delightful schnozzes. That we know of. The sound of snuffling, and the rustling curtain. (via Everlasting Blort)
This $200 smart wash-and-dry toilet seat eliminates the need for toilet paper. With cryptic video demo, including a subtly disturbing glimpse of hose going in and out. Or out and in, depending on your point of view.
And /Queen of the Night/ featuring Carolina Eyck on theremin, in a puppet theater environment that reminds me of the film /The Science of Sleep/ by Michel Gondry.
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
SEND IN THE CLOWNS
My theory is, whether you picked Trump or Biden, the person is a symptom, not a cause. Con men and their successors don’t necessarily invent the problems. They take advantage of problems that are already there, or they fail to address the right ones.
The actual fault is in the fact that responsibility for our leaders and how they perform is in the hands of our citizens, and we have failed. I think we elected Trump president in 2016 because we felt we needed someone in America’s own image: lazy, self-indulgent, misinformed and willing to follow a corrupt degenerate imbecile.
We have allowed our heritage of freedom and opportunity to go into sharp decline. We have failed to monitor, by ignoring ideas such as federal term limits, the process of electing people to high office. We can’t simply blame the people who we elected.
As a result of our negligence, one “clown act” after another is walking the halls of Congress, with a life fully paid for by the taxpayers, unaccountable to the voters. As the late French philosopher, economist and futurist Bertrand de Jouvenel, wrote, “a society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.”
To me, that means we have exactly the leadership that we deserve.
— Craig J. Corsini, San Rafael
REMEMBERING SATCHEL PAIGE who was born on this day in 1906.
Willie Mays describing when, as a 17-year-old, he faced Satchel Paige for the first time:
“It was 1948. Satchel had a very, very good fastball. But he threw me a little breaking ball, just to see what I could do, and I hit it off the top of the fence. And I got a double. When I got to second, Satchel told the third baseman, ‘Let me know when that little boy comes back up.’
“Three innings later, I go to kneel down in the on-deck circle, and I hear the third baseman say, ‘There he is.’ Satch looked at the third baseman, and then he looked at me.
“I walked halfway to home plate and he said, ‘Little boy.’ I said, 'Yes, sir?' because Satch was much older than I am, so I was trying to show respect.
“He walked halfway to home plate and said, ‘Little boy, I'm not going to trick you. I'm going to throw you three fastballs and you're going to go sit down.’ And I'm saying in my mind, ‘I don't think so.’ If he threw me three of the same pitch, I'm going to hit it somewhere.
“He threw me two fastballs and I just swung. I swung right through it. And the third ball he threw — and I tell people this all the time — he threw the ball and then he started walking. And he said, ‘Go sit down.’ This is while the ball was in the air.
“He was just a magnificent pitcher.”
(‘Willie Mays Comes Home,’ GQ Magazine interview 2/1/10)
BIDEN, THE LAME DUCK
The President’s current job approval rating is down to 38.4%, from 55.8% on Inauguration Day.
A bracing new Harvard-Harris Poll finds that registered voters have now written Biden off, with 60% having “doubts about his fitness for office,” 64% saying he is “showing he is too old to be president,” and 71% concluding he “should not run for a second term.”
Inflation is supposed to be all the fault of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But “supporting Ukraine” and “standing firm” refer to the U.S./European decisions to sanction Russia, which is what made world food, fuel, and other commodity prices soar this year. The countries that created the sanctions can also end them. And that depends on them abandoning the fantasy of sanctions leading to Putin’s downfall.
RETURN OF THE GREAT AMERICAN BUBBLE MACHINE
Albeit with new wrapping and new jargon, crypto has been infected by the same old problems of insider finance
by Matt Taibbi
On May 12, 2022, just over fourteen years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the New York Times announced another crash. In a story entitled, “Cryptocurrencies Melt Down in a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Fear and Panic,” the lede read:
A steep sell-off that gained momentum this week starkly illustrated the risks of the experimental and unregulated digital currencies.
The story told of a mass investor flight from cryptocurrency markets, which has since caused an astonishing $700 billion in losses. There were several key triggering events, including the collapse of a “stablecoin” product called TerraUSD. A stablecoin is a type of digital currency that’s usually pegged to the value of a “stable” reserve asset like a dollar. They are often used to enter and exit trades for other cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin.
In theory, stablecoins work, if they’re backed by real assets and by guarantees that hog-tie the customer to their money in adverse conditions. Part of the idea behind a stablecoin is to be the calmer end of the volatile crypto experience. As Bloomberg put it, stablecoins can be a “safe haven” for investors, who can keep their holdings “protected from wild swings in the crypto market” without need to “convert their holdings into traditional money.” But the implosion of TerraUSD put a big early dent in the “safe haven” description.
That wasn’t the only factor. Just days after TerraUSD lost its “peg” and started its freefall in early May, financial observers found an eyebrow-raising passage in the already-disappointing quarterly 10-K report of a crypto market leader, Coinbase. In addition to reporting a $430 million loss and a 19% drop in users, the company stated:
In the event of a bankruptcy, the crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings and such customers could be treated as our general unsecured creditors.
Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency trading platform in the United States. When a customer stores cryptocurrency in a Coinbase wallet, those funds in theory can only be accessed with a cryptography-protected key, making it, again in theory, the unique property of the customer.
This type of protection is supposedly what’s at the heart of the crypto revolution, powered by its underlying Blockchain technology. The new method for storing data creates unique, timestamped “chains” of information visible to everyone in a digital community. In a theoretical Blockchain world all financial history would be visible, instantly recallable, and set in stone, making customers immune to the kind of non-transparent, triple-dealing corruption that ruined those who placed their trust in infamous black boxes like Lehman Brothers prior to 2008.
The Coinbase disclosure however brought back some of these memories. In the event of a bankruptcy, the firm’s 10-K release said, risk existed that people with funds in Coinbase wallets could find themselves fighting with other Coinbase creditors in a legal proceeding to decide who was owed first. No matter how sound a company it was or is, Coinbase posed the same theoretical problems that all financial institutions posed to customers in the pre-crypto world, forcing users to put trust in those opaque institutions known as “centralized” ledgers.
The incident triggered headlines like, “Coinbase admits users could lose crypto” and “Coinbase admits risk to investor fund,” and caused market mayhem. $200 billion vanished from the valuation of crypto companies within 24 hours as, among other things, the share price of Bitcoin, the leading crypto product, fell on the news.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong insisted the passage had been inserted at the insistence of the S.E.C., and that while it was “possible, however unlikely,” that there could be fight over who’s owed what in a Coinbase bankruptcy, “your funds are safe with Coinbase.” However, the damage was done. More serious problems that popped up later at companies like Vauld, Celsius, and others continued the plunge, raising a general level of panic where just a year ago, euphoria reigned.
Much like the mid-90s, when the arrival of genuinely revolutionary Internet technology was delayed by a parade of overhyped pretenders with names like Webvan, Pets.com, and DrKoop.com, the crypto boom is being stalled by a fine-print reckoning. In an extraordinary irony, this market’s recent success seems to have only replicated on a grand scale the exact problems Blockchain technology was designed to cure, only in a different guise, and in language even more inaccessible to ordinary people.
The crypto market is straining under the weight of a perhaps insuperable contradiction. On the one hand, digital currencies were created in significant part with the idea of replacing or improving upon “centralized” finance, including regulatory authorities. If a Blockchain world with a thriving international digital currency were to exist, it would perhaps fatally undercut the financial and political authority of governments. Crypto doesn’t really want to be regulated, and for at least one logical/perhaps-legitimate reason – there are some illegitimate ones I’ll get to – governments don’t want to regulate it, in the same way capitalist countries once hesitated to recognize the Soviet Union.
“Even among the progressives in regulatory agencies, there’s been a reluctance to engage really strongly with crypto,” is how Georgetown professor Adam Levitin puts it. “I think in part there’s a hope that some of the fire would just kind of burn itself out, for there’s a fear of legitimizing crypto through regulation.”
Using digital currencies to help the billions around the world with no access to banking services become participants in a system that has long excluded them is a great thing, in theory. The issue is the structure of these companies. If a stablecoin firm is taking your dollar and trying to make money lending it somewhere, they’re just “unregulated, uninsured, unaudited banks,” as one financial analyst puts it.
Misperceptions about how certain types of investments were “fully hedged,” “asset-backed,” or faced only “de minimus” exposure to loss, were a major factor in causing the huge buildup of unrecognized risk that caused the last financial collapse fourteen years back. This market is now giving off a strong whiff of déjà vu. I’ll break a longstanding personal ban on a certain journalistic cliché to quote another former regulator:
“It’s 2008 on crack.”
On March 18, 2008, two days after the collapse of the legendary Wall Street firm Bear Stearns, another member of what was then known as the “Big Five” group of top investment banks, Lehman Brothers, made a dramatic announcement. The CNN headline said it all:
Bear had just imploded after short sellers pounced on rumors it was overwhelmed with mortgage debt, causing a massive run to the exits that ended with a state-aided sale of the bank to J.P. Morgan Chase. In a desperate attempt to avoid the same fate, Lehman had its Chief Financial Officer, Erin Callan, make a series of announcements designed to publicly dispel notions it was broke. Saying the bank is in a “strong liquidity position,” Callan announced that Lehman was sitting atop a liquidity “pool” that included “$34 billion and $64 billion in assets.”
For Matthew Lee, at the time a Senior Vice President in Lehman’s finance division, the “liquidity pool” stunt was staggering to behold, and one of the last straws on his journey to blowing the whistle on the firm to auditor Ernst & Young. The way he saw it, Lehman was trying “by hook or crook” to do anything to avoid having its credit downgraded by ratings agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Such a move would have triggered a series of losses leading to a financial death-spiral, similar to the one that destroyed Bear. So the firm simply lied about how much money it had.
“Lehman employed some exceptionally silky smooth talkers, the kind of talkers that successfully sell sun lamps in the Middle East, and ice cream above the Arctic Circle,” Lee recalls now. “I always thought Lehman representatives did a brilliant job of convincing rating agencies of anything… Ratings agencies are not full of sharp knives, and easily manipulated.” The “liquidity pool” remains an iconic event in the history of financial corruption, perhaps the ultimate example of what can happen when investors are forced to rely on the word of an opaque financial institution.
Lehman didn’t have $34 billion. The bank turned out to have put collateral it had already pledged to other actors in its “pool.” Chase, for instance, had already accepted at least $5 billion of the “collateral” Lehman said it had available. This is like saying you’ve got $500 in the bank, when you’ve already mailed a check for at least $100 of that to pay your phone bill. Investigators later determined the “pool” in reality contained no more than $1-$2 billion.
Of course, Lehman’s condition soon became clear, and the bank would collapse, leading to one of the most extraordinary months in the history of finance. In September, 2008, the world learned that not just Bear and Lehman were bust, but also AIG, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, and a long list of other titans.
The collapse of firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and the tsunami of losses that followed in September and October of 2008, wiping out as much as 40% of the world’s wealth according to some estimates, underscored a basic problem in the global financial system. How can you tell when a systemically crucial firm, or even a government, is lying? How can anyone feel safe in a system full of black boxes run by ethically challenged millionaires and billionaires?
On January 3, 2009, an anonymous computer developer going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto created the first “Bitcoin,” a form of digitized currency designed as a technological solution to the problems posed by companies like Lehman Brothers. In fact, the “genesis block” of Bitcoin, i.e. the first-ever unique unit of digital currency, had a message written into its code:
The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks
Referring to a story by the London Timesabout the 2008 crash, this genesis block was intended to make sure the world never forgot that a corruption-fueled financial bubble was essentially the inspiration for the cryptocurrency movement, or at least for the creation of the most famous of the cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin.
“2008 was definitely the thing that gave birth to Bitcoin,” says Vitalik Buterin, CEO of crypto giant Ethereum. Buterin added that the success or failure of the crypto movement will depend in significant part on whether or not it lives up to its stated principles.
“The really key idea is whatever the rules are, they’re transparent,” he said. “Everyone sees what there are. They’re in the code, and everyone’s agreed to them. And there isn’t one central actor that can manipulate the system, kick people off of it, shut down people’s accounts, change the rules, or decide that they want to, without everyone else’s consent.”
In theory, Blockchain really could break the grip powerful insiders have had on money and political power since time immemorial. The potential benefits even reach into areas like speech. If you can rely on a vast digital community to confirm you’re good for your dinner bill instead of a third-party guarantor like, say, the Visa corporation, then there would be no inaccessible, unaccountable payment processors to hold Internet speech or book sales hostage. As the former CEO of a major Internet company put it, commenting on a recent episode involving the freezing of PayPal accounts for alt-media firms, “Bitcoin is the only answer.”
However, if the transparency goal isn’t maintained in crypto finance, and risk is allowed to exist that digital assets could end up fought over in something like a bankruptcy court, then you’ve just exchanged one brand of “centralized ledger” for another — maybe even a worse version. “There are so many good things about this industry, right? The micropayments, the cheap transactions, the transparency on chain and so on,” says a high-ranking executive for another oft-criticized crypto firm. “But there is also a ton of centralized behavior still.”
It’s the perhaps-insuperable paradox hanging over this $3 trillion market. Are these firms really beacons of a new form of cryptographically guaranteed transparency, or are they just less-insured, less-regulated, less-audited versions of the same take-our-word-for-it securities and banking operations that melted down the world economy fourteen years ago? “That’s the weird thing about crypto,” says Georgetown professor Adam Levitin, who specializes in bankruptcy and commercial law. “It’s a mix of incredible transparency with incredible opacity.”
The pandemic accelerated the contradictions. Since the arrival of Covid-19, stocks for companies like Bitcoin and Ethereum surged to record highs, with the market blowing past $3 trillion, and decentralized finance suddenly looked more like immediate reality than a distant idealized future. Virtually every major institutional player on Wall Street set itself up to cash in on the CryptoBoom. Wells Fargo and Chase launched Bitcoin funds in August of 2021, while both the NASDAQ and the NYSE began listing crypto-based exchange-traded funds, and in yet another stone cold repeat of 2008, pension funds began plunging their money into crypto properties, with the Houston firefighters’ fund in October of 2021 being among the first.
Even the ultimate symbols of upper-class financial respectability, the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christies, got in on the act. These companies, whose very names imply frumpy establishment legitimacy, not only began accepting cryptocurrency as payment for properties like an untitled $5.4 million Keith Haring painting, but held auctions for NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a kind of digital currency that at the time was having success as a speculative investment.
Sotheby’s for instance auctioned a set of digital cartoon characters called “CryptoPunks,” seeking as much as $30 million. The houses sold an astonishing $250 million in NFTs in 2021, with the artist Michael Winklemann, who calls himself “Beeple,” selling the “first portrait of a human born in the Metaverse,” a “piece” called HUMAN ONE, for $29 million. Blockchain technology is the reason HUMAN ONE could be uniquely owned, like a Van Gogh. But was this a Van Gogh, or just a boring-ish tweet with 6000 likes? A different Beeple work called “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” sold for $69.3 million. Somehow, a technology whose existence in theory imperiled the entire traditional financial establishment became, overnight, the darling fixation of that same establishment.
It should have been a huge red flag, and wasn’t. But an even bigger warning was ignored.
Financial bubbles always expand the same way. Before insiders start scooping up winnings to go shopping for Maseratis and private islands, they buy up all the questions. Read: they buy the politicians.
A former Hill staffer explains about #CryptoCrash: “I first knew there was a problem, frankly, when people in on the Democratic side started jumping ship.”
Nobody was surprised when figures from the Trump administration jumped back and forth from crypto’s payroll. Whether it was former SEC Division of Trading and Markets chief Brett Redfearn joining Coinbase just before its historic $86 billion IPO, or Trump hiring former Coinbase executive Brian Brooks to be the chief of the lead banking regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), or even Republican Senator Pat Toomey going on Twitter to say basically that regulators should lay off doing anything at all about anything until Congress debated the issue “in full,” adding, “Why rush?”
That Republicans (and especially libertarians) who understood/supported some of the antigovernment, deregulatory concepts in the crypto market might take industry money was not surprising. It was much more of a surprise, to some anyway, when a flood of supposedly pro-regulation Democratic staffers and pols went the same way, capitalizing on the incredible 5200% surge in political giving that this year pushed crypto past big tech, big Pharma, and even the defense sector in the realm of political contributions. Former Democratic staffers rushed to fill key posts at key firms.
Former Chuck Schumer aide Jonah Krane joined the financial consultancy Klaros, former Ed Markey and Allison Lee aide Justin Slaughter joined Paradigm, and uber-liberal former Bart Chilton aide Salman Banaei joined Uniswap. Even the spokesperson at Circle with whom I spent much of the last two weeks jousting (see “Financial Bubble Era Comes Full Circle”) is a former Sherrod Brown aide. At a time when Republicans and Democrats seemed unable to agree on anything at all, a host of elected officials began making bipartisan shows of force on behalf of crypto companies.
The most amazing moment may have come when SEC chief Gary Gensler — a former Goldmanite usually thought of as one of the good guys by financial reform types — began making noises about regulating the crypto world. Almost immediately, a group of House members nicknamed the “Blockchain Eight” sent a blistering letter slamming Gensler and demanding he justify asking crypto firms for voluntary submissions of information.
Saying “Crypto startups must not be weighed down by extra-jurisdictional and burdensome reporting requirements,” Republicans like Warren Davidson of Ohio and Byron Donalds of Florida joined hands with Democrats like New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer and Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts to desist from “voluntary document production,” even using the age-old trick that bank-controlled pols once employed of asking Gensler if he’d “conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine the fairness and efficacy of [his] requests.”
The start is always the same: a gang of insiders talks up a hot new property, and perhaps aided by a titillating infusion of institutional money and Federal Reserve cash, the public is enticed by the picture of an ascending new asset class.
In the last two great financial disasters, the tech stock boom of the nineties and the mortgage-backed securities mania of the mid-2000s, investors were also wowed by rhetoric, often coming from the highest authorities, suggesting that a technological fix to risk itself had been discovered. Whether it was Alan Greenspan’s “new paradigm” of growth without inflation, or assurances that the the self-interest of financial firms would prevent a mortgage disaster, or encouragement to use your home equity as an ATM machine, ordinary people were urged by big names to jump on in, the water’s great! So it’s been with the crypto market, another “new thing” that saw everyone from Tom Brady, Steph Curry, and Matt Damon urging ordinary people to jump in the market, because “fortune favors the brave.” Politicians also got in on the cheerleading action.
“What we don’t want to do is choke a new industry and innovation out so that we lose out on opportunities,” said New Jersey Senator and former presidential candidate Cory Booker. He added, “This is a really important space if we get the regulation right, that can actually be helpful to the industry and protecting consumers.” In another forum, he suggested crypto was a “democratizing” force that could help minorities close the financial gap.
Booker, along with New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, is considered among the most “crypto-friendly” members of the upper house, and according to Fortune, near the top of the list of politicians who’ve taken donations from crypto interests. Meanwhile Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis, who reportedly owns about $200,000 in Bitcoins, was quick to suggest TerraUSD was an outlier and not a systemic issue. “There are a couple types of stablecoins. The one that failed is an algorithmic stablecoin, very different from an asset-backed stablecoin,” she told CNBC.
Similar sentiments were echoed at the 2022 meeting at Davos, where the current IMF chief urged those in attendance not to overreact. “I would beg you not to pull out of the importance of this world,” said Kristalina Georgieva, about cryptocurrency. “It offers us all faster service, much lower costs, and more inclusion, but only if we separate apples from oranges and bananas.”
By early this year, with midterms firmly in sight, one saw politicians in every direction with their arms draped around crypto CEOs, sometimes literally. Just prior to the collapse of TerraUSD, for instance, the chair of the House Financial Services, Maxine Waters, invited a series of speakers to a panel on crypto. A photo was released showing Waters literally embracing some of the top heavies in the crypto market, including Circle’s Jeremy Allaire, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and Armstrong of Coinbase.
Some sources laughed when the subject of this photo came up, explaining that it sent a clear message to, say, a line investigator at the SEC or CFTC who might otherwise be thinking of investigating this or that company. The message is twofold: any attempt to elevate an issue with a key donor will not get your party’s backing, and moreover, you might find your funds cut in the next appropriations season. If you mess with Congress’s money, they will mess with yours.
After the collapse of every financial bubble, the same question is asked. How could it happen? How did no one notice janitors and manicurists with no savings were buying McMansions all over the country? How did brigades of regulators and examiners miss that storied names like Bear and Lehman were actually flat broke? How did it happen that the people supposedly responsible for spotting problems at one of the world’s largest companies, AIG, was the Office of Thrift Supervision, a savings and loan regulator that barely had any staff that understood insurance, let alone the hundreds of millions in exotic derivative pseudo-insurance a tiny AIG sub-unit was selling out of an office in London?
It was the regulatory version of the famous “pointing Spiderman” meme: the chief cops on the financial beat all thought someone else had responsibility for new financial instruments. Were credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations the problem of state insurance departments, or banking authorities like the Fed or the OCC, or securities regulators like the SEC, or what? As one former federal banking official put it, “The market was just bespoke enough to make everyone think it was someone else’s beat.”
The tragedy of a corrupted crypto universe is exactly the same story, of a “bespoke” financial market grown to fantastic dimensions in a regulatory dead zone, with a cash-fattened congress keeping questions to a minimum, and the same old insiders extracting billions before a crash that will inevitably be paid for by the rabble again. In fifteen or twenty years, maybe, crypto will evolve to revolutionize finance and eliminate insider corruption in the way its adherents hoped, much as the Internet eventually really did change everything from commerce to communication. But we’re still at the stage of clearing out the phonies, the Pets.com and eToys equivalents, and there are a lot still out there. More, sadly, to come.