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TEMPERATURES WILL PEAK in the upper 90s to low 100s during the afternoon hours today across many interior valleys. Seasonable summer weather is then expected during the remainder of the week across Northwest California, with interior highs trending slightly cooler into the low to mid 90s by Thursday. Otherwise, a cool marine influence will dominate coastal conditions. (NWS)
A WILDLAND FIRE broke out in the Laytonville area late Sunday afternoon on Bell Springs Road near Blue Rock Ranch. No evacuations were ordered. A significant response was quickly ordered including six aircraft. By 7:30pm Calfire said the forward progress had been stopped at about 22 acres with 40% containment.
SCOTT WARD responds to local Adventist Health President Jason Howe’s letter about their negotiations with Anthem Insurance: "Do not make the assumption that we trust and support you Mr. Howe. As Adventist has a monopoly on healthcare in Mendocino County, there are few if any, options for patients. Two month wait times to see a doctor, a dearth of specialists like neurologists in the area and an abysmal dysfunctional billing system do not engender trust or support."
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
As we have wrapped up our Summer School offerings with sessions ending on July 22, I want to thank Charlotte Triplett and Stefani Ewing for their coordination of these programs. We have used some of our Federal Covid funding to create these more robust experiential and academic learning “camps”, and we hope that your students enjoyed the new opportunities. We also welcomed aboard Keystone Therapy staff to start the social-emotional work with our students, and their programs and activities were also very well received.
I want to take this opportunity to update you regarding some projects within the district. Three of the four gym heaters at the high school are being replaced at this time. It is unacceptable to me that we had no gym heat in our physical education classrooms, and I am grateful to the State for providing hardship money to our district to make this necessary replacement happen. The Middle School exterior and the interiors of the Junior and Senior hallways will be repainted in the next two weeks to provide a refresh for the new year. Numerous classrooms at the site including the media lab, the art room, the shop, the library, and the science rooms are having a major clean out. I thank those staff members for their diligence in creating an inviting and engaging classroom environment.
Our major HVAC repair at the high school, funded by HVAC money, is pending our delivery schedule for the units. The plans are drawn and approved, the contractor selected, and everything well underway. We just don’t want to open the roofs without a definite time frame.
We have received some additional block grant money for interventions for the coming year. We will have more information about how we are going to support math and reading intervention at the elementary school. I am also pursuing starting a drum percussion line at the high school. If your student might be interested in that, please let me know.
I also want to shout out the elementary school team with their work this summer on their report card alignment and standards. This is HUGE and important work, as essential growth areas for each grade level are identified and solidified with vertical alignment between the grade levels. Hard stuff, but this team dug in and did it!
New curriculum pilots are also underway at both sites. Can you feel the rigor and transformation? We have high and HUGE expectations, but we also have strong arms that will scaffold our students to new levels of achievement.
In other exciting news, the Education Foundation has made an INCREDIBLY GENEROUS GIFT to fund several key experiences for our high school students including attendance at the National FFA Foundation, attending the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, and an out-of-the country experience for a select group of language students. THIS IS HUGE. TRAVEL FEEDS THE SOUL, OPENS YOUR EYES, AND CREATES APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND ALL THAT NEEDS TO BECOME. We are so very, very grateful.
We hope you and your family are enjoying a wonderful summer, and we look forward to welcoming your students back to campus on August 15.
SUPES OK WELL/WATER HAULING ORDINANCE
by Jim Shields
Since the Fall of 2021, I have served on a committee working under the auspices of the Board of Supervisors Ad Hoc Drought Committee comprised of Supervisors John Haschak and Glenn McGourty.
The charge given our committee was to prepare a draft ordinance that would regulate private sector groundwater wells whose owners sell, or plan to sell water commercially, as well as individuals or entities that transport water from these commercial groundwater wells to customers.
It should be noted that the impetus for developing this ordinance occurred last year during extreme drought conditions when the local cannabis industry was in a record state of over-production, coupled also with record usage of both legal and illegal sources of water, some of which is transported by water trucks.
At Tuesday’s BOS meeting (July 12), the Supes voted 4-1 to approve, with conditions, the draft ordinance.
The Supes formal action was to accept the draft ordinance and forward it to Planning Commission for further review. Additionally, the committee is to work on determining what funding would be required to implement and carry out the ordinance.
The lone dissenting vote, Ted Williams, said he wanted a cost analysis performed, and was skeptical that the cash-strapped county had the money to fund ongoing operation of the ordinance.
He cited concerns about hiring a hydrologist and other staff needed to administer and enforce the regulatory framework. He estimated it would cost in excess of $300,000 to fund the ordinance.
It should be noted the ordinance does not require the hiring of a hydrologist who would be a county employee. It also allows retaining a consulting hydrologist, who would be utilized on a case-by-case basis, a much less costly scenario. The role of a county or consulting hydrologist would be to review the report of a commercial well owner’s hydrologist. Under the proposed ordinance, private well owners who want to sell their water, are required to hire a hydrologist in order to determine, among other things, any adverse effects to source wells and neighboring well owners.
While Supervisors Glenn McGourty and Mo Mulheren joined with John Haschak and Dan Gjerde in approving the draft ordinance, they did so with expressed apprehension about the unknown costs of the program.
Haschak said the proposed ordinance should be forwarded to the Planning Commission for review, and then the committee would work on determining what funding would be required to implement the ordinance. “There has to be the kind of acceptance that this is the right thing to do, and that we will make it work,” he explained.
Gjerde said he didn’t believe “that County general fund dollars would be needed because the state of California is sitting on nearly $100 billion surplus the state will spend money on short-term projects with grants, and the state is increasingly stepping up its review of the groundwater in California and this (ordinance) is right up that alley … I think it’s highly likely that we’ll find the state funding to launch this program on a pilot basis for three years.”
Here are highlights of the proposed ordinance.
Under this proposed Ordinance, individuals desiring to sell water will be required, among other things, to:
• Apply for a Minor Use permit;
• Obtain a Mendocino County Business License, which must be renewed annually;
• Obtain a well permit for each proposed source well;
• Perform a hydrologic well test on the source well;
• Install a water meter on the well;
• Keep various records regarding water production and sales; and
• File various reports with the County regarding well operation and sales.
Individuals or entities engaged in transporting water for sale to customers will be required, among other things, to:
• Not transport water to a commercial cannabis operation that does not have a state license or a state provisional license and either a county permit or an application in active review by the county cannabis department.
• Not transport water from a water supplier to a separate parcel without first obtaining a Mendocino County Business License, to be renewed annually.
• Keep a tracking log of all purchases and deliveries that shall include:
Date, location, volume, of the water purchase.
Date, location, volume, of each water delivery.
The name and contact information of the person to whom the water will be delivered and the date of delivery.
The intended use of the water.
• Not transport water after 10 p.m. or before 5 a.m. unless such transport is for road work or logging operations.
These are just highlights of the two main provisions found in the draft Ordinance.
At this time, it remains unknown how many well owners are currently engaged in the commercial sales of water.
According to Planning and Building Services Director Julia Krog, “Other than one major use permit we processed in 2010, which never actually was utilized by the property owner, I am unaware of other permits.”
Likewise, estimates of how many well owners will exercise the opportunity to engage in water sales is difficult to determine. My best guess is that I doubt it would exceed 100 individuals making application for a permit. In all likelihood, my best guess is there will be less than 50 applicants seeking permits. So I don’t see any sort of burdensome expense to implement and administer this ordinance.
Of course, all regulatory frameworks have two primary components consisting of the rules and the means of enforcement.
Enforcement of well regulations should be relatively straight-forward since the subject wells are fixed in place and most likely few in number given that only commercial “water sale” wells will be regulated.
The situation with water hauling enforcement will prove most likely problematical given that it is a mobile operation not fixed in place, and the County’s shortage of Code Enforcement personnel, and certain constitutional issues restricting law enforcement’s ability to perform vehicle stops without probable cause.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
THE SHORT-TERM RENTAL NUISANCE
This year, assuming a return to pre-COVID travel, Sonoma County will welcome more than 5 million overnight visitors to Wine Country. Most will stay two to three nights in hotels, small inns or short-term rentals available through Airbnb and similar services. Collectively, they will spend roughly $1 billion, with about half that amount dedicated to lodging.
Sonoma County and its cities, including Santa Rosa, levy a transient occupancy tax on all lodging fees, irrespective of location or zoning.
While hotels and inns have long been classified and permitted to operate only as a commercial use, short-term rentals are treated differently. In Santa Rosa, the county's largest city, they operate as an unfettered residential use anywhere they please.
This zoning loophole has unleashed a proliferation of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, causing significant quality-of-life problems and public safety concerns. It has also reduced permanent housing stock for Santa Rosa residents and contributed to the dramatic rise of full-time rental prices.
A check of Airbnb listings show more than 400 short-term rentals in greater Santa Rosa alone — nearly all of them in residential neighborhoods. Some blocks have multiple rentals, and as only 255 have applied for permits, at least 150 short-term rentals appear to be operating illegally.
Most owners offer their property for rent through Airbnb. Since specific addresses are not revealed, owners can easily “hide” from the city and escape payment of transient occupancy taxes.
There is growing uncertainty about this growing corner of the sharing economy in our community. In a survey conducted by the city of Santa Rosa last August, 66% of respondents preferred that short-term rentals not be allowed anywhere in the city or that they be limited to operating in areas zoned for commercial use.
In October, the city recognized the spiraling problems associated with short-term rentals and adopted an urgency ordinance to reign them in. Unfortunately, enforcement has been difficult, and its goals have not been met.
However, the ordinance lays important groundwork by defining “hosted” and “non-hosted” rentals. Hosted rentals are those where the owner lives on-site full-time and rents a portion of the property to visitors. These should be welcomed in our community. Conversely, non-hosted rentals are unsupervised, whole-house rentals where guests can use the property as they please, often generating adverse impacts.
Many full-time residents live with constant fear and stress, wondering if and when the next batch of unfamiliar visitors in a non-hosted rental will disturb their neighborhood and compromise their safety, especially during wildfire season.
Without a policy change, you might soon be a short-term rental neighbor.
If you are hesitant to speak out, consider that since 2019 there have been more than 50 shooting incidents at non-hosted short-term rentals in the U.S., according to a review of news accounts. Many of these incidents resulted in multiple deaths. Believing that this is not possible in Santa Rosa would be a tragic mistake.
Local real estate professionals and out-of-town investors continue to market, purchase, operate and profit from non-hosted rentals by exploiting the desirable character of our residential neighborhoods. Consequently, Santa Rosa is ranked by AirDNA as one of the top 25 short-term rental markets in the U.S., with the third highest average annual revenue potential, behind only Maui, Hawaii and Key West, Florida.
The only proven way to effectively regulate non-hosted rentals is to eliminate or severely limit their existence in residential neighborhoods. Healdsburg and Rohnert Park have already done this, as has the county in unincorporated areas. Santa Rosa can too, simply by adopting any one of several proactive, easily enforced methods successfully deployed by other cities and counties.
Non-hosted short-term rentals are unsupervised commercial lodging enterprises. They are neither homes nor residential uses. Let's start treating and regulating them for what they are.
Want to help? Contact Save Our Santa Rosa at SOSR.org.
David Long, civil engineer
Founding member of Save Our Santa Rosa.
SOME POLL or other has confirmed that more than three-quarters of Americans believe they will be tightening their belts until at least the end of the year. Close to home, at its distribution last week, the Anderson Valley Food Bank ran out of certain staple items, including meat. More and more working families are turning to food banks for help as inflation shows no sign of easing.
AS A VOLUNTEER EXPLAINED, “We gave out over 100 bags of produce and 100 bags with fresh meat, peanut butter, beans, rice, canned goods, eggs, etc. Depending on family size, each family gets at least one each of those bags. Ran out of the veggie bags first, then the fresh meat. We scrambled and made more bags with leftover cartons of eggs and non-perishables in stock.”
Donations can be made through the Food Bank website: andersonvalleyfoodbank.org
Mailing address is: PO Box 692, Boonville CA 95415
TAKE NOTE, fellow doomsters: The World Weather Network has been established in response to the global climate emergency, 28 arts organizations have formed the World Weather Network, a constellation of 'weather stations' located around the world in oceans, deserts, mountains, farmland, rainforests, lighthouses and cities. For a year starting on June 21, 2022, artists and writers will share 'weather reports' — observations, stories, images — about their local weather and our shared climate, creating an archipelago of voices and viewpoints on a new global platform — worldweathernetwork.org
THE DEEPEND (Navarro) was busy over the weekend with a music event called Redwood Ramble at Camp Navarro, a site most of us Boonters remember as the Boy Scout Camp.
INFLATION CASUALTY, Lexie Firment, 22, from Cleveland, Ohio, has revealed that she was forced into three different jobs to cover her monthly expenses while working as a teacher at a middle school. She took to TikTok to share her “teacher to server second job pipeline story” where she described herself as a “broke teacher.” She said that on top of teaching she delivers groceries through Instacart, and is a waitress at a local restaurant. The average entry level pay for a teacher in Ohio is $25,671 per annum before taxes, which would leave broke Lexie just over $500 a month after rent to cover her expenses. Although Ohio is reported to have a low cost of living, the state has suffered the effects of the housing crisis and rent prices have surged. Many TikTok users shared their experiences in the comments section of Lexie's video, with one reporting that they taught during the day and worked as a janitor at night.
IN THE SPIRIT of the Unabomber's war on industrial civ one pipe bomb at a time, small groups of eco-warriors are deflating tires on SUVs across the globe in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Tire Extinguishers movement, which started in the U.K., has spread to the United States where leaders have promised to “expand massively” in the coming weeks. New York City was hard hit by the group last month when approximately 40 SUVs were deflated in the Upper East Side. Climate activists targeted residents in Chicago; San Francisco, and Scranton, Pennsylvania. The group is most prominent in the U.K. and Europe where activists claim to have deflated more than 5,000 tires since the movement launched in March.
From their website (tyreextinguisher.com):
“To get the air out of the tyre, there must be something pushing down on the pin located in the center of the valve. Drop a small bean (we like green lentils, but you can experiment with couscous, bits of gravel, etc) inside the valve cap. Replace the cap, screwing it on with a few turns until you hear air hissing out. Even if it’s only hissing out a little bit, that’s enough - it will deflate slowly. The whole process should take about 10 seconds.” … “Hybrids and electric cars are fair game. We cannot electrify our way out of the climate crisis - there are not enough rare earth metals to replace everyone’s car and the mining of these metals causes suffering. Plus, the danger to other road users still stands, as does the air pollution (PM 2.5 pollution is still produced from tyres and brake pads).” … “Avoid: Cars clearly used for people with disabilities, commercial/traders’ cars (even if they’re large), minibuses and normal-sized cars.”
THE TIMES are getting desperate, but are the many apocalyptic scenarios we read and hear anywhere near likely? Yes, but not here for a while yet. They've already kicked off in Africa and Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. Here's a prediction I read this morning. I'm still surprised so many Americans are thinking like this: “After the dollar collapses completely and is no longer accepted in international trade, our overseas military forces will all be coming back home. First, the federal government will be totally bankrupt at that time and won’t have the resources for foreign wars and foreign occupations. Second, all of those military people will be needed here inside the US to keep a rudimentary state of law and order going. Quite likely, a catastrophic breakdown in our food supply systems are coming, and the military will be employed to distribute what’s available on an orderly basis so that mass starvation can be avoided here. We will have government supplied and rationed food. People breaking into grocery stores or highjacking food trucks will be taken out quickly with military weapons.”
REMEMBER Y2K? I recall much worried talk that life as we know it would end at the stroke of midnight, 2000. There was a run on basic supplies, with toilet paper of overriding concern to many. DA at the time, the memorable Norm Vroman, told me, “I'm ready for anything.” Vroman, a gun guy, had a marked tendency to apocalyptic thinking, and was one of many Mendo people who deliberately make their homes at the end of very long, nearly impassable, dirt roads, with their dwellings situated so they have clear fields of fire. When Western Civ collapses and the hungry hordes come jogging up Spy Rock…
THAT'S THE FANTASY anyway. In fact, if things break down that far, which they won't, or are at least unlikely to do, there are many clever fictional and film renditions of what might be expected. There are even end of the world novels for children and anthromorphs, the latter imaginatively expressed in A Boy and His Dog at the end of the World: “Griz's family lives on a little island in the Outer Hebrides, on a mostly depopulated Earth. Over a century before, something unknown, but referred to as the Gelding, caused the human reproduction rate to plummet to almost nothing. Griz's ancestors were among those who, as the population crashed, moved to remote areas where they wouldn't meet other people accidentally.”
FROM A RECENT LTE: “400,000 people depend on the water flowing through the Potter Valley Project. If this water supply is not maintained people from Potter Valley to the Golden Gate Bridge will lose a valuable water supply. This will cause Lake Mendocino to dry up and Ukiah Valley’s wells to go dry. Along with every water rights holder all the way to Healdsburg. This is a disaster waiting to happen. They cannot cut this water supply off. It would devastate Mendocino county.”
TRUE ENOUGH. PROBABLY. Except for wells going dry in the Ukiah Valley. Maybe the wells that draw, basically, from the Russian River would go dry, but I agree that given the huge ramifications of dismantling the diversion at Potter Valley and its feeder dams, and given the onerous complications that would ensue downstream, present accrued arrangements should be continued, but with pathetic Mendo — us eternal saps — re-negotiating the laughably unfair deal with SoCo via which SoCo gets most of the diverted water stored at Mendo absolutely free, which they sell at huge profits to water agencies in SoCo and Marin. Also, the Potter Valley cheap water gentry should at last be compelled to pay a reasonable price for their diverted water.
WE’RE THINKING BACKWARDS
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
What oughta be obituaries are instead heroic revivals as local cops save yet another moron from a fatal fentanyl overdose with a wonder drug called NarCan.
It’s enough to make you cry.
Instead of the perhaps suicidal but certainly stupid druggie getting to meet his maker or at least the undertaker, he’s brought back to the Here and Now and given yet another shot to continue making a mess of his life while we stand around cleaning up that mess while helping him make another.
Why spend time, money, cops, pharmaceuticals, a hospital bed and ER staff on this guy? Or gal. Don’t we spend enough on these losers already?
We pay their rehab bills and their Public Defender’s salary, we pay jail staff, medical personnel, social service agencies, homeless centers, counselors, probation officers, after which we clean up his trash and sewage under the Talmage Bridge.
The only people this makes sense to are his family members, not that they’ll take him back. Tried that. Nine times. Let everyone else take care of him for the next 40 years or until he dies.
The pharmaceutical industry that developed NarCan should have instead spent its time and resources coming up with a new room deodorizer.
It’s sorta like a long time ago when everybody got in a hot sweat to make sure biker gang members wore safety helmets when they roared around scaring us all by getting into fights and selling dope.
Helmets? On Bikers? Why?
Aren’t those the people we want dead?
Today we find ourselves saving the precious lives of meth heads, fentanyl abusers and heroin enthusiasts, while making sure sociopaths in the Ghastly Bastards Motorcycle gang don’t fall down and get some sense knocked into their thick skulls.
We do this so they’re able to resume their miserable lives filled with wrong turns, bad judgment, antisocial activities and abusing their families. Lofty goals huh? Next, a campaign to save endangered habitats of malarial mosquitoes.
It’s the same bonehead logic that washed over American society 50 years ago linking smoking with cancer and cancer with death and so let’s all freak out and raise taxes every six months on a pack of cigarettes and ban smoking within a thousand yards of this newspaper.
We’re thinking backwards, folks. We should increase taxes on fruits, vegetables, running shoes and health club memberships. People who eat healthy, gets lots of exercise and do all that aerobic baloney are going to live to be 120.
They are the people who will run up the medical bills, not smokers.
Smokers will start dying off when they’re 60 and after that won’t cost the medical industry a nickel. Fitness gurus will spend their final 18 years strapped to a hospital bed with tubes in their noses and machines beeping 24 hours a day at a cost of $27,000 an hour.
You do the math.
Give free cigarettes to anybody who wants them, and in fact give cash bonuses to people who smoke more than three packs daily. They’ll be dead before summer’s out, and we’ll finally be done fretting and weeping at the high cost of medical care in America.
Like to try some methamphetamine laced with fentanyl, a pack of Camels and a free Bic lighter? Here, take more.
No no, don’t thank me; I should be thanking you.
One cool thing about Ukiah is its multitude of little boxes on sticks, filled with used books that everyone calls mini-libraries. I like browsing and finding the occasional gem like the battered, illustrated hardback copy of Moby Dick I walked off with a year ago, or any Jack Reacher book that shows up.
In the Carolinas I see boxes around town that are the same, but different. The only things inside small wooden cabinets around here is food: canned corn, Spaghetti-Os, applesauce, green beans and such.
One box located in the middle of downtown only carries snack-type food like granola bars, various small bags of chips, peanuts and cookies, a bunch of bananas, cans of V8 juice, etc.
Every box has the same message below its glass door:
’Take What You Need
Give What You Can
You are Blessed’
Which do you think is better? Both contain things that nourish us, but in different ways, and both are provided free from the community.
The answer is: the world’s a pretty nice place.
HOW THE CIVILIZED WORLD LIVES
I have experience with the social democracies in Europe and could talk for hours about them. In my younger days I was a merchant seaman working on Scandinavian ships and lived in Sweden for a year. That was 40 years ago and at that time the big political issue they were dealing with was “you cannot have true equality without economic equality”. In more recent years they have worked on developing “capitalism without growth”. If you think Sweden has a socialist economy try finding a parking place in a big IKEA parking lot on a weekend afternoon. Part of the attraction is they provide childcare and good, cheap food. What the Swedes have is a social welfare system that provides security for their citizens (What is government for?). They complain about the high taxes but recognize that they get so much in return: free education, good public transportation, good healthcare, beautiful free homes for the elderly and access to many lifestyle enhancing benefits – recreational facilities, 32 hour workweeks, 30 to 60 day vacations, and livable wages. The Swedes own more second homes than anyone else. The goal is to live close to work in beautiful, safe cities and go to a small cottage in the country for those three day weekends. When I lived there over 90% of the workers were unionized and they never had a strike. They stress cooperative learning in the schools and highly value honesty in life and business. For decade at least half of their government representative have been female. I could go on
I am presently here in Paderborn, Germany visiting my wife’s family. In my two weeks here traveling from Dusseldorf, I have not encountered a homeless person or seen any trash on the streets. The price of gas is around $8 a gallon but we bought a monthly bus and train pass for $9 that allows us to go anywhere in Germany. We take several busses every day and I enjoy mixing with the people. Masks are required on public transportation and everyone does it without complaining. We spent two days visiting a cousin and elderly aunt. The aunt is 92 and in failing health suffering with painful gout in one foot. With one day’s notice a doctor showed up bag in hand for a home visit. He wrote a couple of prescriptions and the aunt is doing better. No money exchanged hands. The medical system provides help for the elderly in their homes where they want to stay and in the long run it is cheaper. The German healthcare single payer system cover everyone at 50% (half) the cost per person as the American system. And I have never heard anyone have a complaint.
Just a few comments on the German economy. It was about 10 years ago that China displaced Germany as the world’s largest exporter of goods. Please note that the German’s do it with 80 million people and high salaries. When I ask members of my wife’s family about the secret of the German economy they all have the same answer: “precision German engineering” Remember that we stole some of their scientists to start our space program and so did the Russians. I have also discovered another important factor. Unlike US they have maintained their manufacturing base. One fourth of the workers are employed in the automobile industry producing the best cars in the world. This has been maintained by a law that requires half of the board of directors of a company to be line workers from the company. They don’t vote to send their jobs overseas. The CEO’s make about 40 times a line worker. In the US the CEOs sit on each others boards, make about 300 times as much as a line worker and look for cheap labor elsewhere. Germany is also highly unionized.
ALAN FLORA MAKES THE NEWS
Clearlake officials discuss road projects
by Nikki Carboni
At a meeting this week in Clearlake, guest speaker and City Manager Alan Flora presented on the status of the city’s streets and roads alongside Dave Swartz, Adeline Brown, and Bo Wymer from the Public Works Department. They presented on all things related to the streets of Clearlake, gave an overview of the current situation, and outlined their progress and plans moving forward.
According to Flora there are 112 miles of public roads in Clearlake and 33 miles of private roads, 44 percent of which are gravel or otherwise unpaved roads. The pavement condition index indicates that 30 percent of Clearlake’s roads are considered “very poor” or “failed.” Prior to the passing of Measure V, the budget for roads was the main issue halting any improvements, maxing out at $300,000 for the entire year according to Flora. While one new mile of paved roads can cost around $1 million dollars, it simply was not an option until more funding was available. Flora shared, “Before Measure V we were spending somewhere in that range, one to $200,000 a year beyond staff time. From time to time we would get a grant to do something, but it was extremely minimal.”
Voted on in 2017, Measure V added a 1 percent sales tax that is dedicated to roads and is projected to bring in $2.7 million in 2022-2023. Since 2017, the City of Clearlake has improved 30.9 miles of public roads by implementing some creative solutions, one of which is using a “double chip seal” process to pave roads instead of a full pavement, saving the city upwards of $900,000 dollars per mile. Through this practice the city has been able to convert 16 miles of gravel roads to paved roads, which will be maintained every three to four years by the Public Works Department.
City Engineer Dave Swartz with public works detailed this maintenance noting what investments in equipment the city has made that benefit the community. “In addition to the public works crew transitioning to doing chip seal projects, the city previously had bought quite a bit of equipment that would allow them to do more relevant needs,” Swartz said. The equipment he refers to is a new water truck and excavator, which helps to alleviate some of the financial burden of these large projects as it gives the city the ability to grade and/or crack seal a project before a contractor comes in. Swartz explained “We pay prevailing wages, it’s very expensive. By having our guys go in, (to) do the crack sealing in advance of that, it allows the city to pave just that many more miles of street.”
Construction Projects Manager Adeline Brown of public works also discussed upcoming projects including the installation of a round-a-bout at the Dam Road intersection where Starbucks, Jack in the Box and Carl’s Jr. are located. This is considered phase one of another large-scale project they have scheduled, the Airport Development Project, which will connect 18th Avenue to Highway 53 and include the construction of a hotel.
Next week’s guest speaker at the Thursday Morning Judge’s Breakfast is Kevin Thompson with Tribal Health. The breakfast begins at 7 a.m. at the Clearlake Senior Center and more information is available on their Facebook Page.
(Courtesy, the Lake County Record-Bee)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 17, 2022
DANIELLE ARCENEAUX, Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, suspended license, under influence, probation revocation.
LAURA BISHOP, Willits. Domestic battery, robbery, evidence tampering.
CHRISTOPHER CAULEY, Willits. Elder abuse with great bodily harm, obstruction of justice, petty theft, paraphernalia, stolen property, burglary, vehicle theft with prior.
ALBERTO ESPINOZA, Milpitas. Mail theft, getting credit with another’s ID, unlawful tear gas possession/use, obtaining another’s ID without authorization.
JUAN GARIBAY-VAZQUEZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER KEYSER, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
LEONARDO LOZA, San Francisco/Ukiah. Battery, child abandonment/neglect.
JOHN MOORE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOHNNY SHIELDS, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
BRETT TUCKER, Laytonville. Pot possession for sale, pot cultivation of over six plants, possession/purchase of controlled narcotics, assault weapon, metal knuckles, felon with body armor, silencer, felon-addict with firearm.
WENDY TYLER, Oroville/Ukiah. Battery, controlled substance.
JOHN VELLA, Santa Cruz/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger, failure to obey lawful peace officer order, visiting where illegal drugs are used, resisting, battery on peace officer.
TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Probation revocation.
S.F.’S TUNNEL TOPS PARK opens Sunday. But it might not be the best new park at the Presidio
by John King
The difference between the Presidio’s two adventurous new parks can be summed up by the feel of their respective perches that showcase the Golden Gate Bridge.
Venture into Tunnel Tops Park — the $118 million, 14-acre extravaganza that opens Sunday — and San Francisco’s international icon is on full view each step of your journey to Veterans Overlook, where the pathway widens to 16 feet and there’s an undulating biomorphic bench crafted from cypress trees that once grew nearby. Stroll the trail that flows through Battery Bluff, which opened in April a quarter-mile to the west along Lincoln Boulevard, and you encounter the tree-framed vista almost by surprise, plus a terrace-like overlook where you can relax while savoring the postcard-worthy view.
Each vista is a knockout. Your preference for one or the other could depend on how you feel that day. And that’s true throughout these two large landscapes intended to mend parts of the Presidio’s oft-altered terrain: Each is a welcome improvement, though they couldn’t be less alike.
The project that has received the most attention is Tunnel Tops, which straddles six lanes of traffic and is designed to connect two key attractions within this storied one-time Army base that now serves as a national park — the historic Main Post and, 35 feet below it along the bay, Crissy Field.
The original topography was obliterated in the 1930s to clear the way for Doyle Drive, an elevated highway with easy access to the new bridge. Its replacement, Presidio Parkway, was designed so that two stretches would be tucked into tunnels, allowing at least some semblance of the former landscape to be restored.
Tunnel Tops Park, which sits above the highway, is by far the most ambitious of the two, an effort to resurrect the notion of a steep ridge with a 21st century twist.
Parts of the scenery strive to be naturalistic, such as the native grasses and shrubs that, as they mature, will soften the bluff’s descent and look much like any other stretch of the California coast. Parts have a staged feel, including the “cliff walk” that links three artfully curved overlooks along the new bluff’s edge. Below it, across from Crissy Field, 3 acres are devoted to youth-oriented activities, including an exuberant playground with an array of earthy nooks for young children.
All of which is connected by earth-toned concrete walkways and ramps that swell out at overlooks and where paths cross. There’s nothing cozy about the spacious corridors, because they’re scaled in anticipation of visits from upwards of 2 million people each year.
The design is by James Corner Field Operations, the New York-based landscape architecture firm that in 2014 won a competition to reimagine what then was a construction zone as the $1.1 billion Presidio Parkway slowly took shape. Two handsome small buildings in the youth area, including one bisected by an angled woodsy breezeway with public bathrooms on one side and the educational Field Station on the other, are by the San Francisco firm EHDD.
“The park is a platform, to take in the scene and take in the view, but it’s also a connector,” said Richard Kennedy, who heads Field Operations’ San Francisco office. “What we were doing is choreographing places to experience the show.”
For the most most part, Field Operations succeeds in balancing the competing demands of what is intended to be a platform, a passageway — and a spectacle.
That word might sound judgmental, but the wow factor was a goal from the start. The remade bluff “has the potential to become one of the most iconic destinations in the country,” the Trust emphasized when the competition was announced, saying it sought a new space that would be “fun, inspiring, and memorable.”
That’s a high bar for a sprawling space that’s just one element in a 1,491-acre national park. Such expectations also make a stop like the Veterans Overlook a bit of letdown. The views are great, no question — but the walk is wide enough for small vehicles, while the “overlooks” rest upon concrete slopes rather than emerging from native shrubs. It’s as if crowd control and maintenance needs won out over design intent. There’s no sense of arrival, as with sculpted outlooks elsewhere at the Presidio.
This doesn’t negate the pleasure of being there. But if you want to get up close and personal with the Presidio’s historic terrain, Battery Bluff is the place to go.
The 6-acre linear strip across from the military’s San Francisco National Cemetery isn’t exposed like Tunnel Tops, though it also hides new highway tunnels. Lincoln Boulevard is on the south. A remnant of the original bluff is on the north. Portions of four aged gun batteries that were buried during Doyle Drive’s construction have been partly revealed.
The main trail threads past the rough angular forms of the concrete batteries, trees rising behind them with glimpses of the Marin Headlands beyond. But as you head west, a turn in the path takes you from intimacy to awe — the Golden Gate Bridge vista. Here, unlike at Tunnel Tops, there’s a proper overlook set a few feet above the trail and separated from it by a narrow band of shrubs. Plus a long bench to recline on and a low wall with the inscription “Parks for all forever” — the slogan of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
“I felt we had the better site, honestly. ... There are a lot more layers,” said Andrew Sullivan, a landscape architect who has worked on several Presidio projects and now is with the local office of the firm Page. This includes the jagged natural terrain, but also the gun batteries chiseled into the bluff after the Spanish-American War of 1898: “They’re a formidable feature, and we wanted to respect that.”
The contrasts between the newcomers aren’t simply a matter of topography.
The budget for Tunnel Tops was $118 million, with $98 million raised from private donors by the Parks Conservancy. Battery Bluff clocked in at under $40 million, paid for by Caltrans.
That’s why Tunnel Tops park could feature benches and tables milled from trees that once grew in the Presidio, while Battery Bluff’s were ordered from a catalog. The latter’s main trail is simple asphalt; the former uses a customized blend of pebbled concrete.
This doesn’t mean that both spaces aren’t important, say officials at the Presidio Trust, which manages nearly all of the national park.
“The materials are simple and the details aren’t as complex. But in our estimation, that’s more appropriate to the site,” Michael Boland, the Trust’s top planner, said with regards to Battery Bluff. By comparison, Tunnel Tops is expected to be where Presidio newcomers start their day. “It’s the centerpiece of the most civic part of the Presidio. It will be our Yosemite Valley, where visits begin and end.”
One park strengthens the context. The other adds a new dimension.
Here’s a non-design analogy: Think of when you’re planning a night out, at least in pre-pandemic times. Do you crave the excitement of the high-profile hot spot? Or a corner booth in neighborhood bistro, catching up with an old friend?
That’s the choice between Battery Bluff and Tunnel Tops Park. An already compelling public treasure has two more destinations to explore. And if one doesn’t suit your mood at the moment, the other is close by.
(Courtesy, SF Chronicle)
BATTLE OF THE TITANS
by Marilyn Davin
Though I was only nine years old, I still remember how overjoyed my parents were back in November of 1960 when the votes had been tallied and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had squeaked to victory as President on the strength of 118,000 votes (though he clearly won the electoral vote), defeating Vice President Richard M. Nixon. My parents were born into the Great Depression and came of age during World War 2. For them it was a ceremonial passing of the torch; Kennedy was the first American president of their generation.
Our middle-aged kids may get the same opportunity this November if the current governors of two of the largest, most powerful states of California and Florida survive the treacherous political waters of the next year to top their respective presidential tickets. Both Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis (10 years apart in their late and early 40s, respectively) may publicly deny their ambitions (with fingers crossed) for the government’s top spot, at least at this moment, but careful observers note that each one speaks increasingly of national issues, testing the waters. And their regular sniping at one another about whose state is better off under his leadership is an increasingly heated regular news feature as Newsom asks the universe, “Would you really want California to be like Florida?” countered by DeSantis’ “Would you really want Florida to be like California?”
There have been some recent high-profile differences between the two states. California is preparing for (and funding) an expected avalanche of abortion seekers as 22 states seek to sharply limit or outright deny abortions following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe, while Florida, one of 22 states poised to either sharply reduce or outlaw abortion, just suffered a defeat in its own Florida Supreme Court. Judge John C. Cooper ruled last month that Florida’s request to reduce gestation periods from 15 to 6 weeks to obtain an abortion was “unconstitutional in that it violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.” DeSantis was pissed off but has been careful to avoid throwing his lot in with the “Never Abortion” crowd and its critical votes. And that group itself suffered a setback last week when a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio was denied an abortion and had to travel to a neighboring state for the procedure. America was collectively horrified, and you could almost hear the pro-life undercurrents in the ensuing very public firestorm: “We don’t believe in abortion, sure, but in that fourth grader’s case…”
Then there was the whole pandemic masking competition. Absent tea leaves or credible soothsayers, governors were pretty much on their own to make decisions sure to be unpopular, whatever the stance. California jumped in early with strict masking requirements, while Florida, citing harm to business, eliminated initial masking requirements early on, resulting in major infection spikes. So in the clarity of hindsight, who was right?
California is the most populous state with 39,747,267 people, Florida is the third most populous with 21,646,155, and Texas is in the middle. California has logged more confirmed COVID deaths than Florida (10,298,922 vs. 6,590,900), and, aside from the masking issue, as of mid-year 2021 California had dispensed 64-percent more doses than Florida (10,298,922 and 6,590,900 doses, respectively), an unsurprising difference given their respective population differences. But, when it came to COVID deaths for the same period, Florida had many more deaths per million of population than the much more populous California: 3,514.29 vs. 2,354.29, respectively. So you be the judge…
DeSantis loves to crow about the influx of Americans from other states, and Florida is growing fast while California is slightly losing population. In a recent New Yorker profile of DeSantis (if you want to read the whole thing set aside two or three undisturbed hours) was quoted as saying that “The only state I haven’t heard from is Utah.” You can’t fool those canny Mormons…
From as early as my junior-high days my mom told me that if you scratch the surface of any issue, “It all comes down to money.” This Florida “migration” as it’s officially known to demographers, is just another sad example of the national takeover by one-percenters. Even the Wall Street Journal, the actual Bible of the rich, has admitted it, probably with some reluctance. Following the release of a newly released IRS report, the WSJ reported that “More wealth is moving into Florida than any other state by far.” In the most recent year (covering 2020 income), taxpayers with a net total of $23.7 billion (with a “b”) in adjusted gross income migrated to Florida. That’s because even the rich have to declare some income that can’t be either eliminated by tax write-offs tailored just for them or squirreled away in offshore accounts, and in Florida there is no income tax. Zero. There are other tax advantages for the rich, too. Research by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy ranked Florida’s tax system #48 in tax inequality. It’s a “low tax” state for only the rich. Those earning less than $18,700 per year contribute 12.7-percent of their incomes to state and local taxes; those with incomes above $548,700 contribute just 2.3-percent.
DeSantis knows his base. Rich people vote and most care a lot about their money. They don’t care so much about public education, because their kids don’t go to public schools; they don’t care about health-care costs because premiums and copays will never touch them; and they support voter suppression because they want to keep things just the way they are - and are willing to contribute handsomely to politicians who agree with them. Why pay income tax?
A lot can happen between now and next year’s presidential election. It could well be that neither of these rivals will run, at least not against each other at the top of their respective parties’ presidential tickets. But however disillusioned we may be, however cynical at what we’ve become as a nation, there is an existential difference between the two men who so closely resemble the values and mores of their states. If they do run against each other it will be a powerful sign of what direction Americans want their country to take.
CALIFORNIA INSURERS LOWBALL, DENY FIRE COVERAGE
The California Department of Insurance says the report “contains demonstrably false claims”
by Kevin Smith
If you own a home that suffered smoke damage from a wildfire, don’t be surprised if your insurance coverage falls short — or is denied.
A new report from Consumer Watchdog alleges that insurers have inserted provisions into the fine print of their home, condo and renters policies that allow them to limit or deny coverage after a wildfire.
Farmers, Nationwide and the Automobile Club of Southern California are among the insurers cited in the Los Angeles-based organization’s “Up in Smoke” report. The California FAIR Plan — which often serves as a last resort for homeowners in fire-prone areas where insurance companies won’t provide coverage — is using the same tactics, the study claims.
The report says insurance companies are lowballing or denying claims as California’s wildfire season grows longer and becomes more damaging. The state’s three most destructive years on record were 2017, 2018 and 2020.
Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has scheduled a public hearing on the FAIR Plan at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 13 in Oakland.
In a fact sheet released Tuesday, the California Department of Insurance said the report “contains demonstrably false claims” and that Lara and the department use “every legal and regulatory tool available,” to hold insurance companies accountable for their actions.
The fact sheet added that 20 insurers deleted illegal smoke-limit policy provisions in 2018 after being notified by the department. It further noted that an examination of Nationwide resulted in more than $22.4 million additional claims paid out to consumers and $165,000 in premiums returned.
A similar investigation of the FAIR Plan resulted in in more than $156,000 in additional payouts to consumers to date, the department said.
Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield, who also serves as an attorney for the organization, still maintains that insurers’ tactics have made bad situations worse.
“People pay into these policies year after year in hopes that they’ll never have to use them,” he said. “But when they do and are told they don’t have coverage, or have very little coverage … it adds a financial and emotional burden to a wildfire disaster.”
Dylan Schaffer, an Oakland attorney who has sued the FAIR Plan and insurance companies on behalf of wildfire victims, said one client whose home suffered smoke damage was told by a FAIR Plan representative “to use a Swiffer” to clean up the mess.
“I’m not exagerating,” he said. “They are telling people, ‘Your house is not broken, it’s not damaged, so we’re not paying you anything.’ “
In a statement released late Tuesday, the FAIR Plan said it “takes seriously its commitment to ensure all California homeowners have access to basic property coverage and the peace of mind they deserve.”
“We look forward to presenting the FAIR Plan’s case and the facts of this matter,” the statement said. “Since this issue involves pending litigation, we have nothing further to add at this time.”
Based on a review of public filings required by the California Department of Insurance, the Consumer Watchdog report identifies several violations of state law by homeowners insurance companies:
Limits on smoke damage recovery: Smoke is often the most common and costly result of wildfires. Insurance companies have adopted policy provisions that treat “smoke damage” as separate from “fire damage” and limit compensation for smoke damage to far less than the total policy coverage for fire.
Arbitrary loss-reporting triggers: State law only requires policyholders to report a loss in a timely manner. Instead of setting the timeframe to report based on the date of the loss, some insurance companies arbitrarily base the reporting trigger on another event, such as the “start date of the wildfire,” potentially resulting in the company denying a claim as late.
Sub-limits on recovery: California law requires fire insurance policies to cover “all loss by fire.” But some insurers limit compensation based on the type of fire loss, or if a homeowner misses a reporting deadline.
Coverage exclusions: These provisions say a policyholder has no coverage for wildfire losses that occur within a certain time after the policy was purchased — usually 72 hours.
Appraisal provisions preventing suit: Such provisions prevent a policyholder from suing an insurance company in court over a claim dispute without first going through a loss-appraisal process or after going through appraisal.
Consumer Watchdog says those provisions are unlawful under California law. The organization additionally claims that many insurers are unlawfully failing to notify policyholders of their legal rights after a government-declared wildfire disaster.
“I’m never surprised by what an insurance company will dare do,” Rosenfield said. “And it’s astonishing to me that the Department of Insurance has failed for some time in its duty to protect the public.”
Consumer Watchdog said Lara should investigate all claims denied by insurance companies during and after the historic 2017 wildfires to determine whether they were handled lawfully, with special attention paid to claims involving smoke damage.
They urge him to impose fines of $5,000 per violation against insurers that have violated consumers’ rights to fair claims and say that should be bumped to $10,000 if the violations were willful.
(Courtesy, the San Bernardino Sun)
* * *
What Are Common Types of Smoke Damage From a Wildfire?
Smoke is a collection of gases and particles that become airborne when a material burns or combusts. Smoke can contain many different chemicals, toxins and pollutants that are sent into the air when an item burns. Breathing in smoke can cause many types of physical harm, including respiratory problems and cardiac arrest. When smoke infiltrates a home, it can cause many different types of property damage. Common types of smoke damage in a wildfire include:
- Ash and soot damage
- Discoloration of walls, paint or siding
- Window or roof damage
- Furniture damage
- Carpet, curtain and upholstery damage
- Damage to personal possessions
- Unpleasant odors
- Landscaping damage
- Vehicle damage
- Expensive clean-up processes
- Injuries or illnesses from smoke inhalation
Many types of property damage from smoke are irreversible and require thousands of dollars in property replacements. Whether you suffered property damage or physical injuries from smoke from a wildfire, you may be able to file a claim in pursuit of financial compensation for your losses. You could be eligible for money to pay for professional cleaning, restoration, repairs, property replacement, medical bills, and more.
WHEN JAKE LAMOTTA saw the film “Raging Bull” (1980), he said it made him realize for the first time what a terrible person he had been. He asked his ex-wife Vicki, “Was I really like that?” Vicki replied, “You were worse.”
“Raging Bull” came about when Robert DeNiro read the autobiography upon which the film is based on the set of “The Godfather Part II” ( 974). Although disappointed by the book's writing style, he became fascinated by the character of Jake LaMotta. He showed the book to Martin Scorsese on the set of “Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore” (1974) in the hope that he would consider the project. Scorsese repeatedly turned down the opportunity to direct the film, claiming he had no idea what “Raging Bull” was about, even though he had read some of the text. Never a sports fan, when he found out what LaMotta used to do for a living, he said, “A boxer? I don't like boxing… Even as a kid, I always thought that boxing was boring… It was something I couldn't, wouldn't grasp.” His overall opinion of sport in general is, “Anything with a ball, no good.” The book was then passed onto Mardik Martin, the film's eventual co-screenwriter, who said “the trouble is the damn thing has been done a hundred times before—a fighter who has trouble with his brother and his wife and the mob is after him.” The book was even shown to producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler by DeNiro, who were willing to assist only if Scorsese agreed. After nearly dying from a drug overdose, Scorsese agreed to make the film, not only to save his own life but also to save his career. Scorsese began to relate very personally to the story of Jake LaMotta, and in it he saw how the boxing ring can be “an allegory for whatever you do in life,” which for him paralleled moviemaking. “You make movies, you're in the ring each time.”
While in the midst of practicing a Bronx accent and preparing for his role, DeNiro met both LaMotta and his ex-wife Vikki, on separate occasions. Vikki, who lived in Florida, told stories about her life with her former husband and also showed old home movies (that later inspired a similar sequence to be done for the film). LaMotta, on the other hand, served as his trainer, accompanied by Al Silvani as coach at the Gramercy club in New York, getting him into shape. The actor found that boxing came naturally to him; he entered as a middleweight boxer, winning two of his three fights in a Brooklyn ring dubbed “young LaMotta” by the commentator. According to LaMotta, DeNiro was one of the top 20 best middleweight boxers of all time. (IMDb/Wikipedia)
Happy Birthday, Jake LaMotta!
MACY’S LAST STAND
by William Grimes
Like others, it’s fair to say, or at least like other oldies, I had not purchased any new clothing in a year. I sometimes wore the same shirt and jeans for a month.The only people my well-worn appearance might bother were the shoppers at Safeway and Walgreens and they too weren’t dressed for a job interview.
But this morning I’m getting spruced up. Took my first shower in two weeks. I’m busting out of covid jail tomorrow with a United flight back east, three weeks of new old friends, family and sights. I’m a meticulous packer maximizing every inch of my mid-sized, two wheel Eagle Creek carry-on suitcase. Thinking twilight time with cocktails poolside in Connecticut and Long Island and a screened-in porched in Atalanta, I’d need a cotton summer sweater. I knew where to look. On a shelf in my bedroom closet I found one, the only one I had, forgotten and blue. Accommodating. Until I tried it on. Having gained undisclosed pounds since 2019 the sweater wore tight, freakishly tight said my honest mirror. I left the sweater where I found it. If and when the town’s thrift store reopens I’d take it there.
With no time to receive an order on online, I recalled there was a Macy’s in the nearby shopping center. Or maybe like so many other Macy’s stores it had closed. Its website said the Corte Madera store opens at 10AM. Maybe I’d find a sweater there but if not there was a Nordstrom store which for probably twice the price I could find a nice summer sweater.
* * *
Macy’s Incorporated was founded in 1858 in New York and expanded over the decades by new store openings and acquisitions. By the middle of the Twentieth Century it owned over one thousand stores in 45 states and was an American icon revered in the same breath as Chevy, Burma Shave, and our national pastime, MLB. To go along with family, turkey and cranberry every Thanksgiving Day was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. National television. Millions of couch viewers, thousands in follow on the avenues of New York.
As the new century arrived Macy’s had suffered from emerging online competition, crippling debt service, staid products failing to attract and retain new demographic shoppers, and management turnover. Today it owns about 500 stores.
The Corte Madera shopping center consisted of 2500 acres with more than 60 shops, department stores, eateries, a cool Apple store and a Tesla showroom to visually add to the pleasure of the visit. The Macy’s store is located at one end on the center about six hundred yards from Nordstrom's at the opposite end. As the two largest stores each has a large parking lot.
I pulled into a space near the Macy store entrance. The two door openings required a hefty pull, unusual since my recollection was department store doors opened electronically as one entered and departed. Was that a result of Macy’s problems?
Inside I saw one or two shoppers at the cosmetics and fragrances area in conversation with an employee behind the counter. There were two floors of merchandise and the sign read Men’s on the Main Floor. Good that’s where I was. However it took me about five minutes of wandering before I found the men’s department. I could find only one employee in Mens and she was standing on a step ladder stacking denims at the Calvin Klein section. I asked where I could find sweaters. At first she didn’t understand me but I prevailed by brushing my hands across my chest and arms adding a shiver motion. And saying sweater, sweater, sweater. Ah, her eyes lit up but her face said frown. “No, think we have have.”
I didn't like the idea of walking a half mile to Nordstrom’s so I decided to look at every men’s clothing module which included stops at Tommy Hilfiger’s, Calvin Klein, Docker’s and Lacoste. Not a sweater anywhere. Not a sales clerk either. Two, maybe three other shoppers passed by. As I was about to give up I saw one more clothier, POLO RALPH LAUREN. Finger’s crossed. There were shelves of short and long and short sleeve shirts. Not a sweater in sight until I noticed a floor level shelf, one near buried from sight in the Coats and Jackets area and lo and behold there were four cotton sweaters, two red, two black, three XL and one L, a black one. With no employee or shopper in the area I decided to try the L on. It worked. It fit. The quality seemed good.
The price on the tag read:
Now how to buy. I hadn’t seen a clerk in the men’s section so I wondered over to the women’s section and there was a woman behind a counter busily scanning a dozen or more clothing items. An Hispanic woman with three kids at the counter was watching intently. Finished, the clerk bagged the items and looked at the computer screen and said, “One hundred eighty-three dollars. The woman produced two one hundred dollar bills which the clerk place on a small screen device beside the screen.
The clerk, languid and expressionless, with hand held device scanned the price tag of my new sweater. The screen showed the price and six dollars for Californian State tax. Gotta be helping the state’s $74 billion budget surplus. While inserting my credit card, I said, trying to get a little life out of the clerk. “The shopper before me got a great deal. Lots of nice clothing for $183 dollars.” That drew an apathetic nod.
“No bag, please Have a nice day. Not good for the environment.” Response: stone face.
* * *
I thought about the once majestic elegance and hustle bustle of customers at Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square in Manhattan. I could see the Thanksgiving Day Parade with its dozen floats with Looney Tunes characters, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Barbie. I could hear exuberant sounds of the marching bands, one after another with the floats and balloons of all sizes and colors tin between. I could see row after row of cheering spectators, mommies and daddies with their little buckeroos frolicking and bopping with joy on both sides of the avenue as the parade marched north on Sixth Avenue.
I felt sorry for Macy’s. I felt bad for America. Another national icon biting the dust. In the jukebox of my mind I heard Bye, Bye, Miss American pie. I thought Baseball: once the American pastime. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? I could see pictures of the six consecutive wooden signs on the country roads to college, rhyming ad messages for Burma Shave. Train approaching / Whistle squealing / Stop / Avoid that run-down feeling / Burma-Shave.
I got in the car, new quality sweater in hand. Turned on Sirius radio to the Fifties Channel, the home of early rock and Doo Wop. Things were good back then but now were better. I’d pick up a pizza and a six pack of my favorite IPA, go home and pack and write this story.
FROM BERTRAND RUSSELL'S 1951 OBITUARY FOR LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN: “Quite at first I was in doubt as to whether he was a man of genius or a crank… He maintained, for example, at one time that all existential propositions are meaningless. This was in a lecture room, and I invited him to consider the proposition; 'There is no hippopotamus in this room at present.' When he refused to believe this, I looked under all the desks without finding one, but he remained unconvinced.”
“I GOT TO RUNNING WITH THE WRONG CROWD. We broke into this restaurant about two in the morning and got away. But after we had gone about ten blocks we decided to get some barbecue, but then the police came along and barbecued us. I got out on probation.”
“I was sixteen then, weighing over two hundred pounds. I was in a lot of street fights. I used to punch first and ask questions later, that's the way those guys do. I guess I was the biggest, strongest guy on the corner. None of the other gangs would mess with me, and so I started to strut with this gang and wound up in a bigger house.
“Some sucker sold me a gun to be shot only on a Saturday night, that's the only time you needed it. I never shot a gun before, so I held it up into the sky and pulled the trigger. The gun lit up and I, thinking it was on fire, threw it into the mud.
“After that I started running with this guy who had a car. We made a few stick ups, got away with the first, tried a second and it didn't turn out. This time, they sent me away to Jefferson City for five years.”
— Sonny Liston
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Haha remember one of the stated goals about 4 months ago was “Regime change in Russia” — getting rid of Putin and replacing him with someone more amenable to EU interests? Since then Boris Johnson and now Mario Draghi have bitten the dust, and Biden himself is looking kind of wobbly; he could be out by Labor Day. Meanwhile, Putin appears to be solid, mopping up in the Donbas, cutting off natgas supply to Germany, and building a new international economic coalition that includes Brazil, India & China.
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2022
6:33 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had been informed “of another operation against criminals who worked for the enemy.”
He said the actions and inaction of every official in the security sector and in the law enforcement agencies would be evaluated.
“Employees of the State Bureau of Investigation together with the Security Service of Ukraine detained the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This person was dismissed by me at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, and as we can see, that decision was completely justified. Sufficient evidence has been collected to notify this person of suspicion of treason. All his criminal activities are documented. Everything he has done during these months as well as earlier will get a proper legal assessment,” Zelenskyy said.
5:24 p.m.: The Group of 20 major economies' finance chiefs pledged to address global food insecurity and rising debt but made few policy breakthroughs amid divisions over Russia's war in Ukraine at a two-day meeting in Indonesia that ended Saturday, Reuters reported.
With questions growing about the effectiveness of the G-20 in tackling the world's major problems, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the differences had prevented the finance ministers and central bankers from issuing a formal communique but that the group had “strong consensus” on the need to address a worsening food security crisis.
Host Indonesia will issue a chair's statement instead. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said most topics were agreed by all members except for particular statements about the war in Ukraine. She described it as the “best result” the group could have achieved at this meeting, Reuters reported.
Western countries have enforced strict sanctions against Russia, which says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Other G-20 nations, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their response.
4:42 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has fired the head of the country's security service and its prosecutor general, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments, according to The Associated Press. He said Sunday that “more than 60 employees of the prosecutor's office and the SBU have remained in the occupied territory and work against our state.”
2:50 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet that he spoke with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the importance of sanctions against Russia. Zelenskyy said that “The international position of sanctions must be principled. After the terrorist attacks in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, Chasiv Yar, etc. the pressure must be increased, not decreased.”
According to The Kyiv Independent, the Ukrainian president made the comments in light of Canada waving its sanctions against Russia to return Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany, after which they would be sent to Russia. The turbines of the gas pipeline were being repaired in Canada.
2:45 p.m.: The Ukrainian military rebuffed Russian advances in Donetsk over the weekend, as the bloody battle for control in the eastern Donbas region grinds on, CNN reports. At least eight settlements in the eastern part of the Donetsk region came under fire Saturday through Sunday. Most of the settlements straddle a pocket of territory along a highway that leads west from the Luhansk region towards the industrial cities of Donetsk, according to the Ukrainian military.
2:15 p.m.: Two Ukrainian children’s choirs joined the Rolling Stones in singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” during the band’s Friday night concert in Vienna.
The Ukrainian boys’ and girls’ choirs, Dzvinochok and Vognyk, respectively, took to the stage dressed in T-shirts bearing the Rolling Stones’ signature tongue and lips logo in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, The Washington Post reports.
2 p.m.: Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces, said 50,000 Russian soldiers have either died or been injured in Ukraine — resulting in a significant loss of land combat effectiveness, The Washington Post reports.
Radakin, who traveled to Ukraine last week to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, told the BBC on Sunday that Ukrainian military officials “are absolutely clear that they plan to restore the whole of their territory.”
1:40p.m.: Ukraine’s central bank has sold $12.4 billion of gold reserves since the beginning of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, the bank's deputy head said on Sunday.
“We are selling (this gold) so that our importers are able to buy necessary goods for the country,” Deputy Governor Kateryna Rozhkova told national television. She said the gold was not being sold to shore up Ukraine’s hryvnia currency.
1:35 p.m.: Professional basketball player, Brittney Griner is among nearly 50 Americans, who the State Department believes are wrongfully detained by foreign governments looking to use them as pawns, the New York Times reports.