Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Cooling | Busy EMT | Caspar Rave | Melburne Camp | Selling MCN | Water Tax | Beating Lawsuit | Mo Live | Skunk Shack | Pomo Woman | Neighborhood Preservation | Mayme Goldsam | Ed Notes | Police Reports | Buried Ancestors | Yesterday's Catch | Ukraine | Job Churn | Weed Economics | Mouthwash Girl | Solar Regret | Point Arenans | Newsom Future | Joe Fell | Enough Biden | Pay Phone | Branson Check | Just Beware | Distracted Populace | Switzers | PDQ&A | Ferns | Republican Dystopia | Car Seat | Mexican Embrace | Living Wage | NATO Menace | Grate Art

* * *

INLAND TEMPERATURES WILL COOL slightly today and widespread marine stratus has returned to the coast. Temperatures will continue to cool slightly on Wednesday and Thursday and marine stratus will remain persistent. Temperatures are expected to warm slightly again Friday and Saturday. Sunday and into early next week another trough is possible. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 104°, Covelo 104°, Yorkville 102°, Boonville 101°, Fort Bragg 67°

* * *

ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE DEPARTMENT: This is Spencer Joyce from Comptche. He's completed last semester's EMT class, passed the National Registry, and has been on as a third with A7420. The last few days have been busier than most, so he's been a very helpful and welcome hand on the Ambulance!

* * *

CASPAR WAVE UP – Saturday, July 16, 12 - 5 pm

Music & Dance Wave-up, Moon Rabbit: a unique perspective on Rock & Roll. Wave-Up (north coast mash-up of rave and pop-up) is a family-friendly, furry-friendly event. Gather your family, friends and neighbors, listen to the joyful sounds, dance as if no one is watching, feast on outstanding food and drink available by Caspar Community, reacquaint with old friends, make new friends, and build and strengthen our Coastal Community through the magic of live music. The children's play area and fun face-painting will be available as well as chairs and picnic tables. Feel free to bring your own lawn chairs, blankets and beach towels. Join in and make it a Wave-up to remember.

$20 per person to pay the musicians and engineers a living wage - under 18 free. Artisans and community vendors are encouraged to contact us to add to the community merriment at

Food, beer, wine, & beverages for sale to benefit Caspar Community.

Jima <>

* * *

Melburne Camp at Laguna Creek, four miles from Comptche, 1911

* * *


Thursday, July 7 at 7pm the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) held a Special Board meeting to discuss options/take action in regards to ownership of the Mendocino Community Network (MCN). Unfortunately the meeting was not well advertised.

MCN is a business that has been owned and operated by MUSD for the last 28 years. Their mission is to provide high-quality, personal internet services to the school district, their customers, and the communities that they serve. So far they had 3 different managers. In 2013 they wanted to sell the business, but thanks to community input did not. 

For the last few months they were looking for a new manager as Sage Statham resigned. His wife and five others applied for this position, but no one at MUSD was ready to hire any of the people who showed interest. A beginning salary for a manager would be $78,000 plus benefits. Unfortunately housing is not easily available, or not affordable. As MCN lost the top two technical people in this eight person business, MUSD is forced to at least hire a bookkeeper for now. The MUSD enrollment has dropped in the last 28 years and the district is faced with $600,00 cuts for this coming school year.

The board accepted community input. At least 7 community members praised MCN and urged MUSD to continue to support MCN. Even though MCN brought in $25-50K annually to MUSD and in the early internet days generated a quarter mill-plus annually, the board voted unanimously (4:0) to list MCN as a surplus property and voted to sell it to the highest bidder. 

If you are interested to watch the meeting here is the link: 

The next school board meeting is August 24, 2022.

— Annemarie Weibel, Albion

* * *

SUPERVISOR GJERDE: In making the case for a water sales tax, at the June 21 meeting Supervisor McGourty said the Inland Water and Power Commission was looking for “about a million dollars a year in legal fees” to get the water rights renewed to continue the water transfer from the Eel River to the Russian River. “This is pretty much interim funding” for six or seven years, he added.

In response, I said simple back-of-the-envelope estimates show the Potter Valley Irrigation District and the Russian River Flood Control District could by themselves generate over $1 million a year. There is no need for all of Mendocino County’s residents to pay for water attorneys to represent these water districts and certain property owners in the Russian River watershed.

For details, people should go to websites for these two water districts. Potter Valley Irrigation District reports its water allotment is 9,000-acre feet of water. Russian River Flood Control recently reported it is selling just over 7,000-acre feet of water. You do the math and a temporary surcharge of $65 per acre foot would generate $1 million. By the way, with a temporary surcharge of $65 per acre foot would take Potter Valley Irrigation District’s rate to $87.50 per acre foot. The temporary surcharge would bring the Russian River Flood Control’s rate to $112.50 per acre foot. This compares to a statewide rate for bulk, untreated water that likely exceeds $150 an acre foot in California. As a final point of reference, it is important to keep in mind the massive amount of water that constitutes an acre foot of water. A typical household in Fort Bragg, Willits or Ukiah would take nine years to purchase one acre foot of treated water from their city, and for that treated water these typical residential customers would pay their cities between $5,700 and $6,800 over nine years. In other words, an acre foot is a significant amount of water, and for these two water districts to levy a small surcharge, as little as $65 per acre foot, is the clear and best option, not a water sales tax.

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: Yes, the Supervisor is correct; if you add in the Flood Control District the numbers do add up on paper — although the Potter Valley “allotment” is not actual water. If the two inland water entities are selling around 16,000 acre-feet, that’s more than the 8,000 that Mendo has right to. But whatever the numbers are, as we said, Gjerde is right to say that those districts should not get any sales tax money from the rest of Mendocino until they at least provide a full accounting and charge something like the going rate. 

* * *

STEEPED IN SCANDAL, UKIAH POLICE FACE LAWSUIT Accusing Officers of Beating Another Defenseless Man

Arturo Valdes

The Ukiah Police Department is going to federal court again, with officers accused of brutalizing another unarmed man. The latest allegation involves a beating that took place at a private residence just a few days before officers beat Gerardo Magdaleno, a naked, mentally ill man in a South Ukiah parking lot. The City settled that case for $211,000, plus attorneys’ fees of approximately $92,500, according to Izaak Schwaiger, Magdaleno’s attorney.

The Valdes complaint, filed in the Northern California US District Court two months ago, claims that on March 28 of last year, Officer Eric Rodello held Arturo Valdes while Sergeant Ronald Donahue punched him in the face, causing multiple injuries that continue to interfere with his ability to breathe through his nose. Rodello and Donohue were not among the four officers caught on camera beating Magdaleno.…

* * *


An evening of Stand Up Comedy at the Junction 226 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Call 415-888-3544 for tickets

2 nights! 3 shows! Special guest opening acts - get ready to laugh!

July 23, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm shows

July 24, 8:00 pm show

Come early and eat dinner before the show. 

The Junction Beer Garden & Bottle Shop, Good People + Good Beer 

(Benna Kolinsky)

(ED NOTE: Mo Mandel is the performance/stage name of Mo Mandelbaum, Boonville born and raised, son of Dan Mandelbaum and Benna Kolinsky of Boonville.)

* * *



Is Mendocino Railway’s Aka Skunk Train's Probable Land Fraud Scheme Now Confirmed?

After a lengthy, friendly and somewhat candid conversation with the construction workers remodeling the old shack on mill site property that was taken by Mendocino Railway, AKA Sierra Railroad, AKA Skunk Train, I was able to confirm that the remodeled structure is going to be used to wine and dine potential investors that would potentially want in on the development of the old mill property. The direct quote from the head workman was that “it was going to be a sales office to help market the mill site property.”

The remodel includes a nice glass screened barrier and a concrete patio to keep the potential investors safe from the occasional housing deprived individual or that delightfully pungent odor that wafts ever so gently from the waste treatment plant, usually after a high headcount of tourists staying in both motels and the ever increasing amount of corporate owned B and B’s. Some of which I understand belong to the railroad either directly or indirectly.

The interior is tastefully done as well to give the impression to investors that they are dealing with a reputable organization. The view is mostly of the old mill pond and soldiers bay beyond. But to the untrained eye one could actually believe that they were looking at a real estate goldmine and not a toxic waste site 100 years in the making and the center of a cleanup controversy for almost the last 20 years.

When I went to the Fort Bragg Planning and Building Department to see if there had been any permits acquired for the extensive remodel on the structure, I was told by Valerie Stump, the code enforcement officer, that she was aware of the project and there are no permits for the project. But, being that the city was involved in ongoing litigation with Mendocino Railway, they couldn’t fulfill their code enforcement obligations as it could seem prejudicial in the eyes of the court. So it seems possible anyway that the railroad is railroading its way into controlling our community and taking advantage of any opportunity it may see to move forward with their plans, courts be damned.

Other than the obvious disregard for local laws and ordinances, the biggest issue with the railroad proceeding with their sales office prematurely is the fact that the attached parking lot on the south side of the structure that has allowed parking for those who wish to traverse the coastal trail and take advantage of the real benefits of our coastal community and not the carnival aspects, is that the parking lot and center access trail to the main trail is only on loan to the city by the owner of the adjacent property. I discovered this disturbing fact in a freedom of information request when I was looking for who owned the area between the fences, i.e. the center trail. And at this time, the adjacent property, unless a court deems otherwise, is owned by Mendocino Railway. This means that the railroad could take back that access at their pleasure without the city or the community having a say. Which would cut off center access to the coastal trail.

And if you think they wouldn’t do just that, remember what they did with the parking lot at their Depot that the City upgraded for them under the condition that it would be public parking. Where is that public parking now? It’s private railroad patron parking. Ticket required. Ask the Brewery how they lost their storage area on the west side of the lot when the railroad decided to triple the rent in order to move them off the property to have more tourist parking for their carnival rides.The community is in danger of losing its access to the trail, other than on the north and south ends of town. Do you think the railroad will hold the city for ransom on that access? You better believe they will. If their past actions are any indication of future shenanigans, we can look for it in the near future.

Bruce Broderick

Fort Bragg


Bruce [Broderick], we have offered to speak with you several times over the past year, but you declined. Further, I said hello to you before while you walk past during your 8am walkby, but you just keep going. Instead, you speak with the workmen and make up stuff about us. This is my office where I work on a variety of things, including the development of the mill site, reopening of the tunnel funding, improving the line to Willits, remediation, and more. I simply do not understand why you insist on making up and spinning things to create conflict. 

Your insulting comment that a 4' glass wind wall is to keep out housing starved people is rediculous considering we were one of the few organizations in town trying to add affordable housing to address the problem! Given you have one of the biggest houses in town, how about you open up a few rooms in your mansion and actually do something positive for the problem instead of sniping from the shadows. And now you're blaming us for the waste water plant? 

— Chris Hart


I wonder how the children of Lorena Shea who didn't have the where-with-all to fight the eminent domain claim against their inheritance feel or how John Meyer feels about having to spend his life savings on attorneys to keep the railroad from taking everything he owns on a bogus railroad use claim on his property?

Mr. Hart, you have just arrived in our community and already act as if you own it all and are doing what's best for the natives. How about you give it a rest for a dozen years or so before trying to take over. The last big fish at least had that much class.

* * *

Pomo Woman at Home

* * *


TO: Mendocino County Zoning Administrator, Ms. Julia Krog, Planning and Building Director

Dear Ms. Krog:

Some neighborhoods seem to thrive over time and others become part of what is more like rural sprawl. I now live on Ray’s Road and have for some years. I worked at Unicorn Ranch, a facility for the rehabilitation of troubled youth who were court ordered residents. I’m a retired psychologist and my license describes me as “inactive.” For over thirty years I walked the land, participated in the rehabilitation and education of residents, and collaborated earnestly with staff and the owners of Unicorn Youth Services. So I know the land, the road and many of the people on Rays Road. I have previously met Ms. Zeebel-Radicevic but since she has purchased the land and site that housed Unicorn I have not recently sat down together with her. I’ve called for an appointment more than once and look forward to our face to face conversation(s).

Among what I would say to her is as follows: Without a permit the owner could have nearly one hundred people here with their cars and equipment for gatherings throughout the year. Even that number would tax Rays Road and neighborhood community. The sound would fill the neighborhood and increased activity would strain resources. This is a small village of but a few hundred people spread out over hills and valleys so as to be sparsely settled. With the permit application AP2021-0010 this use of the property could destroy the present nature of who we are as a community. The most visible center of community activity would come from the cities for group involvement through road usage, entertainment, sounds and other interests.

We (I speak as a former Unicorn service provider) worked with difficult populations and managed them well-and were very aware of any disturbances visited upon our neighbors. I do not think Planning or the County would be able to protect the rights of residents living in the midst of this environment while sharing the flora and fauna with other life forms if this permit is approved. The stability and wellbeing of our community is worth saving and we request your support by denying the above referenced permit. We can then sit down and work equitably with our new neighbor.


Gregory K. Sims, PhD

Rays Road Resident


* * *

Mayme Sutherland Goldsam, 1910

* * *


SEATTLE judge Virginia Amato was presiding over the arraignment of a man charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and resisting arrest when she warned him if he didn't change his ways, “You'll be Bubba's best new girlfriend,” the ref being to prison rape and, as the Appropriate Police were quick to point out, rape in any context is not funny, and a judge saying it…

RAPE HAPPENS in prison, but not as frequently as the oafs and oafettes whose unhealthy fantasies about inmate Bubba's predations like to imagine. At least that's what I'm told by the state prison inmates among the Boonville weekly's inclusive subscription roster. 

CLOSER to home than the state prison system, our County Jail separates out vulnerable inmates into their own unit to keep them safe from being taken advantage of in any manner including sexually. I know of only one local in-custody rape, and that one was years ago in the tough guy tank committed by a tough guy who managed to rape a slightly less tough guy. My information is that the state prison system similarly segregates the vulnerable. A friend of mine who did a lot of time in the federal system said when he was at Lompoc “I was surrounded by chomo's,” apparently the prison where the feds stash their pervs who aren't safe in general prison populations from being offed. Much as the vengeful like to imagine prison justice, the authorities are adept at minimizing it.

ON THE SUBJECT of sordid, in which we're media-basted round the clock, over the weekend I self-basted, watching two depressing Netflix documentaries, “Girl in the Picture” and “Surviving R Kelly.” Kelly is the famous singer who essentially kidnapped underage girls and kept them in isolated harems, getting away with it for years for the usual American teflon reasons — money and fame. And racism, given that his victims were black girls and women, nary a white captive, the racism being that there's generally no law enforcement when it comes to the victimization of black women. Of course you can't blame the cops when a monster like Kelly has unending cash flow and a raft of gofers and lawyers on his payroll who know but don't say. The film is wayyyyyy too long and repetitive, but finally the beast is cornered and, hopefully, ruined. I should confess I'd never heard of the guy before he popped up on the Evening News, and I'm kinda sorry I know more about him now than I'd have preferred. One more tale possible only in a doomed society.

THEN THERE'S Franklin Delano Floyd, a Next Level predator who… Well, the film, “Girl in the Picture” is another story possible only in a doomed society, and sad beyond sad. The film is well done, though. It reminded me of the Steven Stayner case, the small boy kidnapped by the infamous pedophile, Kenneth Parnell, former night clerk at the Palace Hotel and, for a brief spell, the Boonville Hotel. Like the child kidnapped by Floyd, Parnell moved his victim, Stayner, around the school systems in Mendocino and Point Arena with nary an edu-soul inquiring about the boy's relationship with a man in his fifties, or asking for the paperwork from his previous schools. We have to assume the schools have tightened up their custodial confirmations since then, but Mendo being Mendo…

AFTER ABSORBING about ten hours of these two docs, which I watch alone because my wife is too sensible to join me, I said to her, “Hey! How about we take in “The Sound of Music”?

* * *


On Friday, July 8, 2022 at about 11:23 PM a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Gonzalo Vazquez, 39, of Covelo, in the 78000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo.

Gonzalo Vasquez

The Deputy contacted Vazquez who was the sole occupant of the vehicle. The Deputy detected the odor of alcohol emanating from Vazquez and further observed him to display objective symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Vazquez was asked to exit the vehicle so the Deputy could conduct field sobriety tests to determine if he was driving under the influence (DUI).

The Deputy noticed there was ammunition in a cup holder in the center console. The Deputy questioned Vazquez if there any firearms in the vehicle and the Deputy learned a firearm was in the trunk of the vehicle.

The Deputy detained Vazquez in handcuffs and searched the vehicle for firearms before continuing with his DUI investigation.

Upon searching the vehicle the Deputy located a black colored bag in the trunk of the vehicle which contained a fully functional undetectable (no serial numbers, commonly referred to as a ghost gun) “P80” privately made firearm pistol chambered for 9mm ammunition. The bag also contained several 9mm magazines loaded with ammunition for the pistol.

The Deputy completed his DUI investigation of Vazquez and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs. The Deputy conducted a criminal history of Vazquez and learned he is legally prohibited from possessing firearms and/or ammunition.

Vazquez was arrested for Felon in Possession of a Firearm), Possession of Ammunition by Prohibited Person, 

Manufacture/Possess Undetectable Firearm, Possession of an Assault Weapon, and Driving Under the Influence Alcohol/Drugs.

Vazquez was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the listed charges with bail set at $25,000.

On 07-10-2022 at 12:31 AM Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies served a search warrant at Vazquez's residence.

Deputies located an undetectable (no serial number) privately made AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle with an illegal short barrel which also met the criteria of a prohibited assault weapon in California.

The Deputies further located several rounds of ammunition for the listed assault weapon, partially made parts for other firearms, tools to complete and manufacture/assemble firearm components and several ammunition magazines.

The Deputies located packaging materials that indicated Vasquez was purchasing the partially completed firearm components commonly referred to as “P80” (Polymer80 firearm receivers) from out of state sources via the mail.

Vazquez was additionally charged with Possession of an Assault Weapon and was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.


On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 10:21 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a report of a disturbance in the 100 block of Laws Avenue in Ukiah.

The Deputies were advised that callers were reporting a man yelling about an unknown problem.

On arrival, the Deputies contacted Corey Canady, 35, of Ukiah, who told the Deputies he had been yelling because he was upset a short time earlier, but everything was fine.

Corey Canada

A records check indicated an active felony arrest warrant for Canady. Canady was placed under arrest and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was held in lieu of $25,000 bail.


On Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 11:54 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol in the area of South State Street in Ukiah.

The Deputies observed a vehicle traveling the opposite direction as them and as the vehicle past, the Deputies identified Tobias Wood, 29, of Ukiah, as a passenger in the vehicle. The Deputies were familiar with Wood and knew him to have a felony warrant for his arrest.

Tobias Wood

The Deputies performed a traffic stop on the vehicle, which came to a stop in the 600 block of South State Street.

The Deputies contacted Wood and the driver, subsequently identified as William Kidd, 51, of Ukiah. The Deputies observed Kidd moving items around inside the vehicle as they approached. Wood was detained for the felony arrest warrant.

William Kidd

The results of a records check indicated that Kidd was on felony probation with terms to include a fourth amendment search waiver. Kidd was asked to step out of the vehicle and he was detained.

A search of the vehicle, per Kidd's probation terms, revealed a commercial quantity of Fentanyl.

The Deputies continued their investigation, collected additional evidence and developed probable cause to believe Kidd was in possession of a controlled substance/narcotic for sales, Kidd was transporting a controlled substance/narcotic for sales and as a result, was in violation of his probation.

Both Kidd and Wood were arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail.

During the reception process, Wood attempted to enter the jail while concealing a controlled substance/Narcotic, resulting in an additional charge.

Wood was booked for Felony - Bringing Controlled Substance Into Jail, a Felony Arrest Warrant, and the Misdemeanor Arrest Warrant. Wood was to be held in lieu of $105,000 bail.

Kidd was booked for Felony - Possess Narcotic For Sale, Felony - Transport Narcotic For Sale) and Felony Violation Probation. Kidd was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.

* * *

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.

DEB SILVA fills in some historical blanks:

Jeff Burroughs wondered about a “town” named Fairbanks on a 1916 map he found. I did comment that Fairbanks was associated with a man named Mandal Whipple Fairbanks but there is more that Jeff might be interested in knowing. I'm attaching a couple of articles [which the AVA will publish next week], one is the Fairbanks obituary and the other is one of those “days gone by” things that is interesting. Besides reporting on Fairbanks post office there's a little background on MW Fairbanks who was a total gun nut, and even had an armory and a gun patented! MW was featured in a number of newspaper articles back in the day. He was a sheep rancher, he apparently had a dicey divorce from his first wife Ella as there were a number of public notices regarding that, and his wife at the time of his death was Isabel (Gallagher) Fairbanks. Valerie Hanelt might be interested in MW's obit. Fairbanks is buried on his ranch alongside his young son. 

Attached historical articles:

M.W. Fairbanks Was Old Pioneer

(A short sketch of his history written for the Dispatch; Ukiah Dispatch Democrat, Nov. 12, 1915)

Last Sunday the following members of Abell Lodge # 146, F. and A.M. motored to Anderson Valley to perform the last services for a deceased brother, M.W. Fairbanks, viz: Hale McCowen Jr., W.S. Van Dyke, J.R. Mathews, P.W. Handy, William Bromley, Neil Auker, Jr., George Richardson, Archie McGimsey, William Chessall and George McCowen.

Mandal Whipple Fairbanks was born in Springfield, Vermont on October 25, 1888. He came to California in 1859 and engaged in hunting for the market Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. In the early 1860s he trapped and killed bear for the Shafter Brothers in Marin County and is credited with having killed 50 bears on that range.

In 1871 he came to Mendocino County buying the ranch which bears his name near Anderson Valley where he carried on the business of sheep raising and wool growing which was familiar to him in his boyhood days in Vermont. But hunting was his chief interest and he delighted in taking a party of friends on deer hunts through the forests of his mountain home.

In later life he had a fancy for collecting old style firearms together with the new variety of which he had a large collection and would relate the history of each valued pistol or gun to a circle of interested listeners. For some four or five years his health had been failing and he went to Santa Rosa for medical attention last summer accompanied by his devoted wife. He gradually grew worse when all the time he remained cheerful and kept making bright plans for the future almost to the very last.

He died in Santa Rosa on October 28, and the remains were taken to the ranch and their interned with Masonic ceremonies on a point within sight of the home and beside the grave of his little son who died years ago. It seemed to him that the child was nearer to him when a few steps were taken within sight of the grave.

Mr. Fairbanks was honest and upright in all his dealings. An enthusiast, he was ever willing to divide his possessions and nothing was good enough for those he considered his friends.

He affiliated with Abell Lodge # 146 on April 29, 1877 having been previously a member of St. John's Lodge # 41 of Maine.

He leaves a wife, a daughter by a former marriage in Springfield, Vermont, and two sisters residing in New York City.

* * *

A Backward Glance Through Early Files; Anderson Valley Pioneer Reminiscences -- A Locality Full Of Attractive Features.

(from a reprint in the Mendoicno Coast Beacon, Aug. 25, 1972)

Boonville, January 18, 1897 -- Boonville and surroundings embracing Anderson precinct rating in 1890 a population of 285 now numbers about 675 souls.

it claims the oldest voter in the county in the name of the vivacious John Conrad at the patriarchal age of 94 years and whose ripe experience directed him to vote for women's suffrage at the last general election. He is still hale and hearty and makes his accustomed daily rounds.

Anderson Valley has two churches, two hotels, two stores, two blacksmith shops, two public halls and always end every time two or more candidates for the same public office whether local or otherwise -- and competition generally.

The McKinley and Bryan votes cast here if paired would leave a credit to the Republicans of one vote so it must be admitted that we are well balanced.

One of the stores owned by the late lamented R.E. Armstrong has just passed into other hands and a new incumbent is wrestling as agent for the express company which has an office in the building.

The village has generally a butcher shop, but it is provided with a solitary shoemaker and cobbler shop and a ten-cent drinking saloon.

Miss Olive Fry who, with Miss Berger successfully conducted the local public school, is now gaining an enviable reputation for efficiency as an instructor of the private school.

The Mendocino mail stage bound for Ukiah stops here overnight but the passengers are comfortably provided for, entertained etc.

This place is the terminal of a small route to Fairbanks, an office admirably managed, beyond which is a stretch of 7 miles of mail-less road which the Post Office Department on questionable grounds was induced to boycott. John Lee Rector, contractor and mail carrier in the Boonville and Fairbanks Road, never fails to connect on time, rain or shine.

Court Laurel AOF # 8224, a lodge of about 60 members, meets in the Armstrong Hall and engages in spicy debates which occasionally are somewhat demonstrative.

Dr. H. Thompson seems to be appreciated by all those requiring his professional services. Adjoining his drugstore is the post office of which he has charge.

Henry Beeson, a member of the first white family who settled in Anderson Valley in 1852 and for whom the valley was named, lives in Boonville and is the hero of some notable episodes. He is one of the three remaining survivors who assisted in the raising of the Bear Flag in the town of Sonoma in 1846 and joined in the celebration of its last semi-centennial anniversary at that place where he was the lion of the hour. He is also a veteran of the Mexican-American war. He was a resident of that settlement in Lake County now called Kelseyville when Mr. Kelsey for whom the town was named was killed by a hostile uprising of the local Indians against the white settlers and with relatives and others had to flee for safety, proceeding to where Cloverdale is now situated and thence by slow stages to where the Anderson family is located adjoining the present village of Boonville. Henry Beeson is now 68 years old and he and his younger brother were sons of Mrs. Anderson previously Mrs. Beeson and both are well preserved and happy, living two miles from town.

T.E. Rawles whom the writer had the pleasure of meeting lately possesses a copious fund of information, political and otherwise, is up to date with current news and events and is of rare intelligence and a walking encyclopedia of all matters discussed.

A visit to the armory, gun shop and Sportsmen's Emporium of M.W. Fairbanks is most interesting. Specimens of all kinds and styles of rifles, muskets and pistols, ancient and modern, with every variety of ammunition may be found in his repository. There also can be seen here the "Fairbanks combination" gun invented and patented by the owner and embracing both rifle and pistol with telescopic sights. Sportsmen crack shots of game or targets and other gun experts from the surrounding country and from a distance resort thither to have their firearms adjusted and repaired. The leading sportsmen's journals and magazines in the United States are to be found here on file also.

From Fairbanks to Yorkville, a distance of 7 miles, there is a gap or missing link in the mail route, in a circuit of 80 miles via Cloverdale, Ukiah, Boonville, etc. A letter addressed from Fairbanks to Yorkville or vice versa has to be transported 73 miles to reach its destination instead of seven direct miles by reason of the break. It is hoped that the sufferers will represent their want to the Post Office Department and that at an early date the mail route will be extended or restored as it was before to complete the circuit.

VALERIE HANELT ADDS: The last paragraph in the 1897 article refers to a gap in the circuit from Yorkville to Fairbanks. This is because you could get from Cloverdale to Yorkville, on to Ukiah, then over to Fairbanks and Boonville, but you couldn’t travel beyond Yorkville directly to Boonville until the McDonald-To-The-Sea stretch was built a few years after this article. 

As to the names in the article contributed by our wonderful researcher Deb Silva: Richard Armstrong, Olive Fry Busch (parents William and Mary are in Evergreen B), and Dr. H Thompson are all in Ukiah Cemetery. Jesse Burger (married Eugene McCarty the following year) is in Evergreen B, John Lee Rector (husband of Icaphena McGimsey) is in Evergreen C, and Henry Beeson (wife Molinda Beebe) and his brother Ike are in the Rawles Babcock Cemetery. 

If you are interested in the old valley names, be sure to look them up on Also, every grave in the Valley has a GPS pin so that you can click on the name in the Findagrave app and then drive to the cemetery, get out of your car, and then walk directly to the grave of the person you are interested in, all by following the directional prompts on your smart phone. If the grave is unmarked you will at least be standing pretty much where I think the grave is. 

If you have family buried in one of the cemeteries in the valley, be sure to check the entry for them on to make sure it is accurate. You can upload photos, suggest edits, or (PLEASE!) take over maintaining the entry of your family member. I am maintaining close to a thousand of these entries and love turning them over to family members.

I still have quite a few mysteries about who is buried in unmarked graves. Let me know if you would like a mystery assignment!

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, July 11, 2022

Ambrosio, Curiel, Galvan, Moore

LEONEL AMBROSIO, Sandia Park, New Mexico/Ukiah. DUI, more than an ounce of pot.


VINCENT GALVAN, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

MICHAEL MOORE JR., Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, paraphernalia.

Mundt, Pittenger, Vazquez

JENNIFER MUNDT, Willits. Burglary.

LAURA PITTENGER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

GONZALO VAZQUEZ, Covelo. DUI-alcohol&drugs, undetectable firearm, felon-addict with firearm, two priors.

* * *

UKRAINE! As this week of July begins…

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the opening of a Donetsk embassy in Moscow, representing the Russian-backed, self-proclaimed independent region that Ukraine and other countries refuse to recognize. Russia continues its push to capture Donetsk, after already taking over the other large part of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, Luhansk.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled to brief the European Parliament's defense and foreign affairs committees on Wednesday.

WNBA star Brittney Griner's next court hearing is set to take place in Moscow on Thursday. She has admitted to bringing cannabis into Russia, but said she'd packed in a hurry and did not intend to break the law.

Russia may be planning to annex Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, going beyond its stated aims of capturing regions such as Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, U.S. security analysts said.

Ukraine's government asked civilians to evacuate Russian-occupied Kherson as Ukrainian forces prepared a counterattack there.

Last Week:

July 4: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that Russia had taken control of Lysychansk, the last city in the eastern Luhansk region that had been under Ukrainian control. He vowed Ukraine would retake the city.

July 5: Global leaders and international organizations met in Lugano, Switzerland, to chart a way forwardin supporting Ukraine's recovery. Billed as “the international kick-off for the recovery process in Ukraine,” the meeting adopted principles to aid the country in rebuilding from the war with Russia. Britain will host next year's Ukraine Recovery Conference.

July 6: Russia and the U.S. trolled each other over the address of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Russian authorities renamed the street as “Donetsk People's Republic Square.” The U.S. Embassy responded by displaying geo-coordinates as its address on its homepage, while sticking to the previous Bolshoy Deviatinsky Pereulok street address on its other webpages.

July 7: Ukraine reinstalled the national flag on Snake Island after regaining control of the Black Sea island from Russian forces. Snake Island became a legendary symbol early in the war when Ukrainian troops there reportedly defied a Russian warship's demand to surrender.

And Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Moscow court last Thursday. The U.S. basketball star also wrote a letter to President Biden asking for help. She was arrested in February just as Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine. The Biden administration says she is wrongfully detained and is working to get her home.


* * *

* * *

THE REAL DOPE: A Candid Review of Can Legal Weed Win? The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics (UC Press; $24.95)

by Jonah Raskin

Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner, two economists and professors at UC Davis—once known as the aggie school—ask a question that others have asked before them and that others will surely ask again: “Can legal weed win?” By “win” they don’t mean beat the competition and receive a prize for the best weed at a fair or smoke-off. They do mean, can legal weed—weed that is licensed, taxed and regulated by the state—triumph over illegal weed in the marketplace. So far, as they point out, that hasn’t happened for a variety of reasons, including the preeminent fact that illegal weed is less costly to the consumer, and that all other things being equal, consumers buy the less costly product. 

The strengths and the weaknesses of this book derive from the reality that the authors are not now, nor have they ever been, players in the marijuana industry, the marijuana subculture and the marijuana agricultural juggernaut. Still, they aren’t exactly impartial, though they aim to be fair and accurate and explore and answer all the questions they ask, even when they don’t have definitive answers, like what will the weed world look like in 25 years. 

As economists, rather than storytellers who offer anecdotes, they present facts and figures, and offer charts and diagrams to buttress their arguments. If there is one thing that they are certain of, it is that the weed world that currently exists is not what weed activists and aficionados wanted ten, thirty or fifty years ago. In the most hard-hitting sentences in the book which arrive in chapter six, the most anecdotal chapter in the book, Goldstein and Summer write that back in the day, “some activists thought they could have the best of all worlds, regulate, legal, weed so thoroughly that you make it perfectly safe, bring in lots of tax dollars to the state, make entrepreneurs rich, eliminate the illegal weed market and make the new system inclusive of the formerly illegal operators who suffered under criminal laws.” 

They add that “legalization has brought about none of the above, anywhere in North America.” They say North America, because they include Canada along with the US in their study. 

I would tell them that not all activists and weed farmers wanted or want to go legal. They want to operate outside the law and outside the state bureaucracy. 

Goldstein and Sumner point out that Thomas Carlyle, the British critic of capitalism, called economics, “the dismal science.” Despite the fact that they are economists and view the world from the perspective of economics, their book isn’t dismal or depressing. The authors are surprisingly whimsical, with a penchant for puns and word play. I think it’s cool that they call it “weed” and not marijuana, cannabis or grass. Still, for all its charm and exuberance, the book tends to be repetitive. 

The authors hammer away at their main points. That might be a virtue for some readers. It’s nearly impossible to miss the major arguments that are put forth. There are also plenty of minor, albeit valid points: that compliance with state and local rules is a fantasy; that legality has led to innovations in packaging and more variation in price; that California is behind other states in total revenue per capita from sales of legal weed; that Oklahoma has created a cannabis system that might be worth exporting and copying elsewhere; that the industry evolves faster than book writers can keep up with it and be current. 

I’m not sure that all of their points are accurate; they say, for example, that investors in legal weed all lose money. I have anecdotal evidence that suggests the opposite. There’s a lot of cash washing around the Emerald Triangle, a place I have explored in my book, Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.

Do I recommend this book? I do and I don’t. UC Press is to be praised for publishing it. Not that long ago, books about cannabis were not welcome in academia. If you want pure entertainment and stories about outlaws on the run from lawmen, this book is probably not for you. And if you want a guidebook for how to grow weed this is not it, either. 

But if you do want sober analysis about economic losses and gains, profits and market fluctuation then it is for you. Anecdotes could have fleshed out the story they tell, especially when they point out that illegal weed slips into the marketplace, despite labeling, record keeping and tracking and tracing. Why not include stories from growers who have beat the system and who make and launder big bucks?

Can Legal Weed Win? looks at Humboldt, but unfortunately not at Mendo, Lake or Santa Barbara, where commercial cut flower growers have switched to cannabis flowers. So, in some ways this book doesn’t sufficiently describe regional and local differences in the world of weed, which is more complex than the authors indicate.

* * *

FULL-PAGE AD in Life Magazine, 1949. She's heading for NYC and confident thanks to Listerine. (via Fred Gardner)

* * *


by James Kunstler

This summer’s weather is perfect now in the Hudson Valley: warm, sunny days for primping the garden and cool nights that invite deep sleep. Zucchini and cukes are coming on, along with currants, gooseberries, blueberries. Unseen underground, the potatoes swell. The chickens range happily over their daily smorgasbord of bugs. At midnight, fireflies blink in the orchard. On the human side, though — commerce, culture, and politics — nothing works. At least not here in America. Sigh….

The solar electric I installed on the house nine years ago is down. It’s supposed to feed that monster called the grid. Since April, I noticed that the electric bill is creeping up way beyond the usual seventeen bucks that the electric company charges home solar producers for the privilege of feeding their system — which, let’s face it, has a downside for them because the intermittency of so-called alt-energy disorders their operations.

It’s counter-intuitive. Many people, I’m sure, assume that the more solar units feeding the grid, the better. Strangely, not so. Electric companies work much better when the production and flow of current is absolutely predictable and under their control — like, when they decide to fire up the natgas on generator number three or tune down the hydro turbines. It’s much harder to run the system with little dribs and drabs of electricity trickling in from hither and yon. But alt-energy is good PR for the government, so they do whatever they can to promote or even compel its use.

I got a whopping folio of tax breaks and subsidies from the state and federal government when I decided to put solar electric on my house in 2013, though it finally still cost a lot: $35-K. I had intimations of living through a chaotic period of history, and the decision was consistent with my general theory of history, which is that things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time. Getting a home solar electric rig seemed like a good idea.

So, last week, after considerable hassle with my solar company setting up an appointment for a techie to visit and evaluate the problem here, the guy came up (at $150-an-hour) and informed me that my charge controller was shot. The charge controller processes all those chaotic watts coming from the solar panels on the roof into an orderly parade of electrons. He also told me that my back-up batteries — for running critical loads like the well-pump during grid outages — were at the end of their design life. Subtext: you have to get new batteries.

There are four big ones in a cabinet under the blown charge controller and the inverter (for turning direct current into alternating current that is the standard for running things). The techie had some bad news, though. New building codes forbid his company from replacing the kind of batteries I have, which are standard “sealed cell” lead-acid batteries. Some bullshit about off-gassing flammable fumes. Now the government requires lithium batteries, which would cost me sixteen-thousand dollars ($16-K) more to replace than new lead-acid batteries.

Now, it’s theoretically possible for me to replace the less-expensive lead-acid batteries — they’re still manufactured and sold — but the catch is: I’m on my own getting them and installing them. I’m in the middle of that learning-curve right now. These particular batteries cost about $850-each for the four of them, plus a hefty charge for “drop-shipping” about three hundred pounds of lead and plastic. I will almost certainly go that way, though. A new charge controller will run about $2-K. All together, replacing these components represents a big chunk of change.

At the risk of sounding like some kind of pussy, I confess that this whole business of repairing my solar electric system has put me into a welter of anxiety and fury. I am trapped in the cage of sunk costs, a.k.a. the psychology of previous investment. Not only do I have $35-K (in higher-value 2013 dollars!) tied up in all this equipment — the solar panels themselves, the wall of electronic devices, the conduit, control panels, and digital read-outs — but now I have to dump thousands more into it after only nine years. It pisses me off because I should have known better. I walked with eyes wide shut into the pit of techno-narcissism.

The hyper-complexity of a home solar-electric system is extreme. There are hundreds of little integrated components that can blow, all of it adding up to a case of guaranteed fragility. There are no easy fixes or duct-tape work-arounds for any of it. I can’t make any replacement parts in my garage. They come from faraway factories via supply lines that get sketchier every day on trucks that don’t operate profitably at $6.50-a-gallon diesel fuel.

In a low-grade epiphany while going through this ordeal last week, I realized that back in 2013, instead of getting the solar electric system, I could have bought the Rolls Royce of home generators and buried a 500-gallon fuel tank outside the garage, and had a manual water pump piggy-backed onto the well, and maybe even purchased a fine, wood-fired cookstove — and had enough money left over for a two-week vacation in the South-of-France. Silly me.

Of course, these travails with my home solar electric system are a metaphor for the complexity and fragility that is, all of a sudden this year, causing the operations of Western Civ to fly to pieces. My investment in solar was as dumb as what the entire nation of Germany did in attempting to run itself on “green energy.” (Not to mention their more recent dumb-ass decision to forego imports of Russian natgas in order to please the geniuses at Tony Blinken’s State Department, the dumb bunnies.)

Of course, even when I get the solar electric back up-and-running again, something else is sure to go wrong. And in another ten years, the solar panels will be at least half-dead. So, if you’re reading this personal lamentation, consider bending toward simplicity. Wish I had.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

* * *

Point Arena Field Trip, 1900

* * *


by Dan Walters

President Gavin Newsom? California's governor repeatedly insists that he's not interested.

“I don't know how many times you can say no in ways that others don't say no,” he told one journalist who asked the question recently.

“Yeah, I mean, I have subzero interest,” Newsom told another. “It's not even on my radar.”

That's what he would say if he is truly not interested in mounting a run for the White House. But at this stage, it's also what he would say were he interested, so the denials lack face value.

Newsom has patiently climbed the political ladder one rung at a time, beginning with appointments by Willie Brown, then mayor of San Francisco, to the city parking commission and later to the Board of Supervisors.

Newsom succeeded Brown as mayor, achieved notoriety for defying state law to sanction same-sex marriages, was elected as lieutenant governor and then as governor in 2018. He handily survived a recall election last year and is certain to win a second term as governor this year.

Having devoted nearly half his 54 years to that climb and having portrayed himself as a political innovator, why wouldn't he look in his shaving mirror and see a president staring back?

The recent flare of national media speculation was ignited by Newsom himself as he criticized his own party's passivity to the surge of conservative — and mostly Republican — victories in political and judicial arenas and fired rhetorical broadsides at prominent GOP figures and red states.

“Where the hell is my party? Where's the Democratic Party? You guys paying attention to what's going on?” Newsom asked abortion rights activists after a Supreme Court decision repealing Roe v. Wade was leaked. “Why aren't we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren't we calling this out? This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And, yes, they're winning. They are. They have been. Let's acknowledge that. We need to stand up. Where's the counteroffensive?”

Just last weekend, Newsom spent a few dollars on a Fox News TV spot in Florida, sniping at the state's policies and its Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who's making presidential noises himself.

“Freedom is under attack in your state,” Newsom told Floridians. “I urge all of you living in Florida to join us in the fight or join us in California.”

The ad probably had zero impact in Florida, but once again fueled speculation about Newsom's true motives.

In a mid-June ‘Atlantic’ magazine article, veteran political journalist Ronald Brownstein anointed Newsom as the man on a white horse galloping to the Democratic Party's rescue. The conservative gains, Brownstein wrote, created a “job opening” for a Democratic leader. “Newsom isn't the only Democrat who could step into the void,” Brownstein wrote. “But he is perhaps the best person to do so …”

The Brownstein article inspired a flurry of speculation by other national journalists about Newsom.

Are his actions merely aimed at goading his party into being more aggressive on such issues as abortion rights and gun control, as he insists, or is he also laying the foundation for a presidential campaign, either in 2024 or 2028?

A 2024 bid would hinge on President Joe Biden's opting out of reelection and Vice President Kamala Harris — another Willie Brown protégé — once again stumbling while seeking the presidency.

To play a longer game, Newsom would need a position beyond ex-governor, such as the Senate seat that Dianne Feinstein is likely to vacate two years hence.

Or maybe he'll just go back to peddling wine.


* * *

* * *

‘DON'T RUN JOE’ CAMPAIGN Will Oppose Renomination of Biden

Declaring that “President Biden has been neither bold nor inspiring” and “his prospects for winning re-election appear to be bleak,” the national activist organization RootsAction announced today that it will launch a campaign to prevent his renomination.

With an email list of 1.2 million current supporters in the United States, RootsAction issued a statement saying it is committed to nationwide organizing to prevent Biden from being the Democratic Party’s 2024 nominee for president. This is the first time that a large national organization has announced such plans.

“In 2024 the United States will face the dual imperatives of preventing a Republican takeover of the White House and advancing a truly progressive agenda,” RootsAction said in a statement. With so much at stake, renominating Biden “would be a tragic mistake.” The statement concluded: “A president is not his party’s king, and he has no automatic right to renomination. Joe Biden should not seek it. If he does, he will have a fight on his hands.”

The full RootsAction statement announcing the #DontRunJoe campaign is posted at

RootsAction, which supported Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and 2020, co-sponsored the independent Bernie Delegates Network. And RootsAction was one of the two organizations that launched the Impeach Donald Trump Now campaign on the day that Trump was inaugurated. (Washington Post: “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.”)

After the 2020 Democratic National Convention, RootsAction devoted several months and major resources to its Vote Trump Out campaign, with fulltime organizers in the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. (Politico: We have to get rid of Trump’: Pro-Bernie group launches effort to boost Biden.”)

Pia Gallegos, who chairs the RootsAction board and co-founded the Adelante Progressive Caucus of the New Mexico Democratic Party, said Monday: “We need a president with the vision, courage and power to achieve voting rights, a rapid transition to renewable energy, universal health care, access to abortion in all states, and controls on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We need a president who will not cater to the oil and gas lobbies, the weapons industry, or the pharmaceutical companies but who will serve the working families of this country. President Biden has not shown himself to be the president we need.”

RootsAction co-founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, who were Sanders delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, emphasized the priorities of rolling back Republican power while advancing a progressive agenda popular with voters.

“We’re making this announcement today because the current debate over whether Biden should run again focuses too narrowly on his age and the latest polls,” Cohen said. “It’s his performance -- his inability to fight for working people and stand up against Republican and corporate obstruction -- that has us worried about 2024.”

Solomon said: “It has become clear to a wide array of Democrats and others that Biden should not run again. Claiming otherwise is counterproductive. To defeat Republicans and to effectively fight for progressive programs, we need Biden to be seen as a one-term president who will not be the Democratic nominee in 2024.”

The site -- -- is live and now collecting signers to a “Don’t Run Joe” petition.

Here is the complete statement:

Announcing A National Campaign:

Don’t Run Joe

July 11, 2022

In 2024 the United States will face the dual imperatives of preventing a Republican takeover of the White House and advancing a truly progressive agenda. The stakes could not be higher. The threat of a neofascist GOP has become all too obvious. Bold and inspiring leadership from the Oval Office will be essential.

Unfortunately, President Biden has been neither bold nor inspiring. And his prospects for winning re-election appear to be bleak. With so much at stake, making him the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in 2024 would be a tragic mistake.

The #DontRunJoe campaign will launch nationwide on November 9, 2022 -- the day after the midterm elections. Until then, maximum efforts should be expended to defeat Republicans in congressional and state races across the country.

The shortcomings of the Biden administration should neither be denied nor used as an excuse to sit out the 2022 midterm election battles. “Moderate” policies have failed to truly address such pressing concerns as the climate emergency, voting rights, student debt, health care, corporate price-gouging, and bloated military spending in tandem with anemic diplomacy. Meanwhile, no Republican candidate on the horizon is worthy of being elected to any of the 435 House seats or the 35 Senate seats up for grabs this year.

Biden triumphed over Donald Trump in 2020 with vital help from extraordinary grassroots efforts in swing states by progressive organizations (including RootsAction). A president is not his party’s king, and he has no automatic right to renomination. Joe Biden should not seek it. If he does, he will have a fight on his hands.

* * *

YOU'RE GETTING OLD if you used one of these…

* * *

JEFF BLANKFORT: Now for something entirely different:

I ordinarily consider myself a good judge of my fellow human beings but on one occasion I made a forgiveable mistake. It was 1970 and I was in London before departing for Northern Ireland and then for Lebanon and Jordan. Somehow or other I was put in touch with a young Brit with a terrible case of acne who had just started a magazine called “Student” (which didn't excite me) who was interested in using photos of mine of the Black Panthers and an interview I had made in Paris the previous year with the French filmmaker, Jean Luc Godard (who I had met in Berkeley in 1968 and who I had hooked up to the Panthers). Student seemed a low budget operation which I felt needed to be encouraged so the young editor and I agreed on a low figure for which he wrote me a check which I thought I had better quickly cash.

I was not prepared for the elegant opulence of his bank, Coutts, which looked like something from a BBC set which, if you search for the name, as I just did, you find “Coutts offers private banking and wealth management services for high net worth individuals and their families.”

Well, they probably don't have any clients with a higher net worth than that young man today who no longer has a trace of acne, showing that money will accomplish wonders. His name was Richard Branson and I should have kept the check.

* * *

* * *

YOU MAY VOTE AND DEBATE FREELY on any issue which does not affect the functioning of the empire. When it comes to how money, weapons and resources move around the world, however, you suddenly find that your votes don't matter and your position has no mainstream representation. They'll let you argue until you're blue in the face over whether or not you can have an abortion or whether minorities should have civil rights; they'll even let you vote on it. But things like military expansionism and neoliberal globalization and deregulation are off limits.

The empire relies on false political dichotomies like Democrats vs Republicans to keep everyone fighting over issues which don't affect the functioning of the empire so the machine can trudge onward uninterrupted by the local riff raff. That is the entire job of those parties.

The mainstream media exist to keep everyone spellbound by those false dichotomies on the level of discourse and debate. They manufacture culture wars which split the populace in half over an issue which doesn't affect the empire, then continually feed into that debate.

The Bernie/AOC/TYT "populist left" and the Trump/Tucker Carlson "populist right" factions are there to lure parts of the population who get a little too curious about the raw mechanisms of empire back into the political false dichotomy so they stop asking unauthorized questions.

The entire political/media class exists for this purpose: not to help people, not to fight for civil rights, not to create a well-informed populace so that democracy can function, but to keep the grubby little mitts of the unwashed masses far away from the true levers of power. That's their whole entire function.

— Caitlin Johnstone

* * *

George Switzer and Daughter, 1869

* * *


Press Democrat Editorial FAQs

(PD Editorial Staff)

Readers often ask about the editorials and columns that appear on the opinion pages, especially how choices are made and by whom. In the spirit of transparency, and in hope of encouraging greater reader participation, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from readers of The Press Democrat's editorial and Forum pages.

What is the purpose of the editorial page?

The editorial board operates independently from the news department. Our role is to offer perspective on the news, express the views of the editorial board and provide a forum for readers to share their opinions. Our goal is to provide a variety of views and to advocate for effective public policy.

Who decides the paper's editorial views?

The permanent members of the editorial board are Sonoma Media Investments CEO Steve Falk; Editorial Director Jim Sweeney; Rick Green, editor of The Press Democrat and chief content officer for SMI; Karleen Arnink-Pate, chief revenue officer for SMI; and Emily Charrier, publisher of the Petaluma Argus-Courier and Sonoma Index-Tribune.

We also have two rotating spots on the board for community members who serve for a year or so as full voting members of the board. Judy Coffey, a retired Kaiser executive, and Mick Menendez, the director of advanced planning for Pacific Advisors, are our present community board members.

The board discusses potential editorial topics, meet with newsmakers and advocates, researches issues and adopts positions on issues, including election recommendations.

If you're interested in becoming a community member of the board, send a resume to

May I write for the opinion pages?

Yes. We publish five or six letters to the editor each day, and we frequently publish Close to Home opinion columns written by local authors. Our Close to Home writers are usually individuals with a particular expertise or personal background in a certain area that is the subject of their commentary.

How do I submit a letter?

Letters should be original — we want your thoughts, not words supplied by an organization — and no more than 200 words long. Letters must include the author's name, address and phone number. Only the name and town appear in print. Send letters to or 427 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95401.

Do you publish letters that express views contrary to the paper's editorial stance?

Yes. We welcome contrary views. The opinion pages are intended to reflect a full spectrum of viewpoints.

How do Close to Home columns differ from letters?

Like letters, Close to Home columns express opinions, but they provide greater detail and context. They can entail gathering facts and data — in effect, reporting. They're often written by people with experience that provides expertise or perspective on an issue.

Are all letters published?

No. We receive more letters than we have space to print. We look for letters on local subjects but don't limit letters to local issues. We also look for letters that express new viewpoints.

Do letters and columns appear on your website?

Yes. Almost everything that appears on the editorial and Forum pages also appears at You also can find online extras: commentary and editorial cartoon galleries that doesn't appear in the print newspaper.

Who chooses the columnists who appear in the paper?

Opinion page columns and editorials from other newspapers are selected by the editorial director.

Do columnists reflect the paper's views?

Not necessarily. As with picking letters, our goal is to publish voices from across the political spectrum. Regular columnists include conservatives such as George F. Will and Jonah Goldberg and liberals such as Eugene Robinson and Gail Collins.

What about the editorial cartoons?

Editorial cartoons also reflect a range of views, including such conservatives as Lisa Benson and Scott Stantis and such liberals as Mike Luckovich and Bill Bramhall.

How do I contact the editorial board?

You may call Editorial Director Jim Sweeney at 707-521-5201 or email him at

* * *

Ferns (1920) woodcut print by Julie de Graag (1877-1924)

* * *



This July 4th, instead of celebrating the 235th anniversary of our country’s declaration of independence from a tyrannical king, Americans mourned the loss of our most cherished freedoms stripped from us by an illegitimate, extremist, right-wing, super majority on the United States Supreme Court. In the Court’s just ended term, six extremist justices, five of whom were appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote of the people, decided that we Americans are no longer free to control our own bodies, to live free from religious coercion by the state, or to live free from fear in a safe and clean environment.

The Court struck down the 49 year old precedent of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion rights for women and girls. The Court’s new ruling allows state legislatures to pass laws that ban abortions, making criminals of pregnant women and girls who get abortions as well as their abortion providers. At this very moment, 26 states with Republican majority legislatures are feverishly working to enact and implement laws that force pregnant women and girls to give birth. In effect, these anti-abortion laws turn every woman and girl capable of becoming pregnant into a potential suspect who’s menstrual cycle and sex life are subject to surveillance by law enforcement agents. This state control over female bodies is the wet dream of Catholics and Evangelical Christians who have been working to overturn Roe v. Wade since its inception based on their religious belief that life begins at conception. With this Supreme Court ruling, all people who live in anti-abortion states will now be forced to abide by the strict religious edicts of these fanatical Christian fundamentalist sects. While Republicans claim to be the party of small government and individual freedom, they are in fact using the power of big brother to control the most intimate decisions of our lives.

The Court struck down long held precedent of separation between church and state when they ruled that a Washington state public high school football coach had a right to lead his team in Christian prayer on the field. The six extremist justices found that the public school official’s free speech rights trumped the public school students’ rights to be free from religious coercion by the state. Under this ruling, taxpayers are being forced to pay for the religious indoctrination of their children into a faith not of their own choosing. This ruling will open the floodgates to public school officials using public schools as a recruiting ground for their army of Christian soldiers.

The Court struck down a more than century old New York state gun law that placed restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home. The six extremist justices found that because the state only issued public-carry licenses to applicants who coulddemonstrates a special need for self-defense, the law violated the Second Amendment right of people to bear arms. This ruling is based on a grossmisinterpretation of the Second Amendment that completely ignores the founders intention of arms born by/”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,”/not carried in public spaceswhere people havea right to live free from fear thatdeadly gunfire mightbreak-outat any moment by some malcontentwith a petty grievance. This Supreme Court ruling sendsan approving nod toself-appointed vigilantes.

The Court curbed the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants which severely limits the federal government’s ability to deal with climate change at a time when climate scientists are warning us we must act now to save our planet for habitation by future generations. The six extremist justices think that the “right” of the fossil fuel corporations to make profits, trumps the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the future, this ruling will be cited by every corporate interest to curb the federal government's ability to make regulations that protect the public interest.

All of these Supreme Court decisions are the culmination of a long term Republican project to turn America into a dystopian state where government agents are empowered to surveil citizens’ private lives, where religious fanatics run the public school system, where gun toting brown shirts patrol the streets, and where soulless corporations turn our planet into a hellscape. Welcome to the United States of Dystopia.

Jon Spitz


* * *

* * *

ON MEXICANS, Anthony Bourdain wrote this:

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities.

We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them.

Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children.

As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.”

But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. 

Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. 

The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. 

What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. 

Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. 

Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. 

It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. 

The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. 

To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. 

I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

* * *

* * *

NATO: The Most Dangerous Military Alliance on the Planet 

The massive expansion of NATO, not only in Eastern and Central Europe but the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia, presages endless war and a potential nuclear holocaust.

by Chris Hedges

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the arms industry that depends on it for billions in profits, has become the most aggressive and dangerous military alliance on the planet. Created in 1949 to thwart Soviet expansion into Eastern and Central Europe, it has evolved into a global war machine in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

NATO expanded its footprint, violating promises to Moscow, once the Cold War ended, to incorporate 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe into the alliance. It will soon add Finland and Sweden. It bombed Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. It launched wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, resulting in close to a million deaths and some 38 million people driven from their homes. It is building a military footprint in Africa and Asia. It invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, the so-called “Asia Pacific Four,” to its recent summit in Madrid at the end of June. It has expanded its reach into the Southern Hemisphere, signing a military training partnership agreement with Colombia, in December 2021. It has backed Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, which has illegally invaded and occupied parts of Syria as well as Iraq. Turkish-backed militias are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds and other inhabitants of north and east Syria. The Turkish military has been accused of war crimes – including multiple airstrikes against a refugee camp and chemical weapons use - in northern Iraq. In exchange for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s permission for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, the two Nordic countries have agreed to expand their domestic terror laws making it easier to crack down on Kurdish and other activists, lift their restrictions on selling arms to Turkey and deny support to the Kurdish-led movement for democratic autonomy in Syria.

It is quite a record for a military alliance that with the collapse of the Soviet Union was rendered obsolete and should have been dismantled. NATO and the militarists had no intention of embracing the “peace dividend,” fostering a world based on diplomacy, a respect of spheres of influence and mutual cooperation. It was determined to stay in business. Its business is war. That meant expanding its war machine far beyond the border of Europe and engaging in ceaseless antagonism toward China and Russia. 

NATO sees the future, as detailed in its “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China, and calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

“China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its economic and military heft,” the NATO 2030 initiative warned. “It has proven its willingness to use force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience, safeguard critical infrastructure, address new and emerging technologies such as 5G and protect sensitive sectors of the economy including supply chains. Longer term, China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

The alliance has spurned the Cold War strategy that made sure Washington was closer to Moscow and Beijing than Moscow and Beijing were to each other. U.S. and NATO antagonism have turned Russia and China into close allies. Russia, rich in natural resources, including energy, minerals and grains, and China, a manufacturing and technological behemoth, are a potent combination. NATO no longer distinguishes between the two, announcing in its most recent mission statement that the “deepening strategic partnership” between Russian and China has resulted in “mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order that run counter to our values and interests.” 

On July 6, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, held a joint news conference in London to announce that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” They accused China, like Russia, of interfering in U.S. and U.K. elections. Wray warned the business leaders they addressed that the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

This inflammatory rhetoric presages an ominous future.

One cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The political and social turmoil in the U.S., coupled with its diminishing economic power, has led it to embrace NATO and its war machine as the antidote to its decline.

Washington and its European allies are terrified of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meant to connect an economic bloc of roughly 70 nations outside U.S. control. The initiative includes the construction of rail lines, roads and gas pipelines that will be integrated with Russia. Beijing is expected to commit $1.3 trillion to the BRI by 2027. China, which is on track to become the world’s largest economy within a decade, has organized the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade pact of 15 East Asian and Pacific nations representing 30 percent of global trade. It already accounts for 28.7 percent of the Global Manufacturing Output, nearly double the 16.8 percent of the U.S. 

China’s rate of growth last year was an impressive  8.1 percent, although slowing to around 5 percent this year.  By contrast, the U.S.’s growth rate in 2021 was 5.7 percent -- its highest since 1984 -- but is predicted to fall below 1 percent this year, by the New York Federal Reserve.

If China, Russia, Iran, India and other nations free themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network financial institutions use to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions, it will trigger a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar and a financial collapse in the U.S. The huge military expenditures, which have driven the U.S. debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire GDP, will become untenable. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military in 2021, $ 801 billion which amounted to 38 percent of total world expenditure on the military, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will force the U.S. to slash spending, shutter many of its 800 military bases overseas and cope with the inevitable social and political upheavals triggered by economic collapse. It is darkly ironic that NATO has accelerated this possibility.

Russia, in the eyes of NATO and U.S. strategists, is the appetizer. Its military, NATO hopes, will get bogged down and degraded in Ukraine. Sanctions and diplomatic isolation, the plan goes, will thrust Vladimir Putin from power. A client regime that will do U.S. bidding will be installed in Moscow.

NATO has provided more than $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine, while the US has committed nearly $54 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the country.

China, however, is the main course. Unable to compete economically, the U.S. and NATO have turned to the blunt instrument of war to cripple their global competitor. 

The provocation of China replicates the NATO baiting of Russia.

NATO expansion and the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv led Russia to first occupy Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, with its large ethnic Russian population, and then to invade all of Ukraine to thwart the country’s efforts to join NATO. 

The same dance of death is being played with China over Taiwan, which China considers part of Chinese territory, and with NATO expansion in the Asia Pacific. China flies warplanes into Taiwan's air defense zone and the U.S. sends naval ships through the Taiwan Strait which connects the South and East China seas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May called China the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, citing its claims to Taiwan and efforts to dominate the South China Sea. Taiwan's president, in a Zelensky-like publicity stunt, recently posed with an anti-tank rocket launcher in a government handout photo.

The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry, which, given the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, needed a new conflict. Lockheed Martin's stock prices are up 12 percent. Northrop Grumman is up 20 percent. The war is being used by NATO to increase its military presence in Eastern and Central Europe. The U.S. is building a permanent military base in Poland. The 40,000-strong NATO reaction force is being expanded to 300,000 troops. Billions of dollars in weapons are pouring into the region.

The conflict with Russia, however, is already backfiring. The ruble has soared to a seven-year high against the dollar. Europe is barreling towards a recession because of rising oil and gas prices and the fear that Russia could terminate supplies completely. The loss of Russian wheat, fertilizer, gas and oil, due to Western sanctions, is creating havoc in world markets and a humanitarian crisis in Africa and the Middle East. Soaring food and energy prices, along with shortages and crippling inflation, bring with them not only deprivation and hunger, but social upheaval and political instability. The climate emergency, the real existential threat, is being ignored to appease the gods of war.

The war makers are frighteningly cavalier about the threat of nuclear war. Putin  warned NATO countries that they “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history” if they intervened directly in Ukraine and ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on heightened alert status. The proximity to Russia of U.S. nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey mean that any nuclear conflict would obliterate much of Europe. Russia and the United States control about 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

President Joe Biden warned that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be “completely unacceptable” and “entail severe consequences,” without spelling out what those consequences would be. This is what U.S. strategists refer to as “deliberate ambiguity.” 

The U.S. military, following its fiascos in the Middle East, has shifted its focus from fighting terrorism and asymmetrical warfare to confronting China and Russia. President Barack Obama’s national-security team in 2016 carried out a war game in which Russia invaded a NATO country in the Baltics and used a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon against NATO forces. Obama officials were split about how to respond. 

“The National Security Council’s so-called Principals Committee—including Cabinet officers and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—decided that the United States had no choice but to retaliate with nuclear weapons,” Eric Schlosser writes in The Atlantic. “Any other type of response, the committee argued, would show a lack of resolve, damage American credibility, and weaken the NATO alliance. Choosing a suitable nuclear target proved difficult, however. Hitting Russia’s invading force would kill innocent civilians in a NATO country. Striking targets inside Russia might escalate the conflict to an all-out nuclear war. In the end, the NSC Principals Committee recommended a nuclear attack on Belarus—a nation that had played no role whatsoever in the invasion of the NATO ally but had the misfortune of being a Russian ally.” 

The Biden administration has formed a Tiger Team of national security officials to run war games on what to do if Russia uses a nuclear weapon, according to The New York Times. The threat of nuclear war is minimized with discussions of “tactical nuclear weapons,” as if less powerful nuclear explosions are somehow more acceptable and won’t lead to the use of bigger bombs. 

At no time, including the Cuban missile crisis, have we stood closer to the precipice of nuclear war. 

“A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yields more than 90 million casualties in its first few hours,” The New York Times reported.

The longer the war in Ukraine continues -- and the U.S. and NATO seem determined to funnel billions of dollars of weapons into the conflict for months if not years -- the more the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Flirting with Armageddon to profit the arms industry and carry out the futile quest to reclaim U.S. global hegemony is at best extremely reckless and at worst genocidal.


* * *


  1. Mike J July 12, 2022

    Speechless Arrival

    July 12
    The Day Voices Were Quieted
    In America’s Last Noisy and Nosey Paper:
    (First) By Visions of a Gas Giant
    With Clouds of Water-Steam
    And A Deep Field
    Of Colors In the Infrared Zone,
    And, secondly,
    By Revelations Re A Corrupt Orange Entity
    On A Path to a Prison Cell
    And Involuntary Monasticism

    • Chuck Dunbar July 12, 2022

      The vastness of it all–
      And then the small…

  2. Craig Stehr July 12, 2022

    Sitting quietly at the Ukiah Public Library digesting a Pescado Ranchero plate lunch (washed down with two Amber Dos Equis) at Jalos Mexican restaurant on South State Street near Talmage. Read today’s New York Times. Heading back now to Building Bridges homeless shelter. Gotta stop by Safeway for yogurt, bananas, and mango juice. Need more Yerba Mate in the can which will be purchased at the Co-op. Looking forward to hours of deep sleep. ;-))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.