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Mendocino County Today: Friday, July 22, 2022

Marine Layer | Arrants Missing | Ladder Trick | Water Needs | Crisis Prevention | PA Ladies | Caspar Zoom | Closed Session | DUI Case | Ed Notes | Ukiah Madness | George Stevenson | Haschak Report | Golden Gate | Mo's Program | Gas Price | Biffworld | Maude Weller | Van Damme | Fayals 74 | Summer Fair | Hardy Hotel | Sako Speculates | Yesterday's Catch | Mendocino Line | Usually Guilty | Trans Officials | Ukraine | Get Well | New Taliban | Halifax 37 | System Failing | Jake Scott | Poker Tournament | Founding Fathers | Jan 6 Hearings | Scrap Metal

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INLAND HIGH TEMPERATURES will lower slightly on Friday while a deepening marine layer only allows for some limited afternoon sun at the coast. Otherwise inland temperatures will heat back up this weekend and remain hot next week, while the coast remains seasonably cooler with quite a bit of low clouds and fog. (NWS)

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WHERE’S TOM ARRANTS?

Tom Arrants

74-year-old Thomas Arrants was last seen wearing a camo jacket, black sweatpants, and black/red tennis. He has gray, shoulder-length hair and a gray beard. He was last seen at his residence near the 24000 block of Highway 20 Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. If you have information that could help find Thomas Arrants, contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 463-4086. 

On 07-20-22 at approximately 8:47 PM the Sheriff's Office received a missing person report regarding 74-year-old Thomas Arrants (see photo).

Thomas was last seen at approximately 1:00 PM at his residence located in the 24000 block of Highway 20 near Fort Bragg. It was common for him to walk about the property.

Family searched for him for several hours after believing he may have gotten lost while walking the property. After the search was unsuccessful, the Sheriff's Office was notified.

Deputies with the assistance of CalFire personnel searched for several hours during the night which was also unsuccessful in locating Thomas.

This morning Deputies, Mendocino County Search & Rescue, CalFire and California National Guard (CalFire resource) personnel will be continuing the search for Thomas.

Thomas is described as a white male, standing 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds, with hazel eyes, gray shoulder length hair and a gray full beard.

Thomas was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, sweatpants and black/red tennis shoes.

Thomas is reported to be medically fragile as he suffers from dementia.

Anyone with information about the current whereabouts of Thomas are urged to contact the Sheriff's Office by calling 707-463-4083.

(Sheriff’s Presser)

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Fun with Ladder, Elk, 1890

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WHERE IS THE WATER FOR NEW HOMES?

by Brenda Adelman

In early June, gazing downstream from the newer Guerneville Bridge toward the old, you could see more of the riverbed than the Russian River, which appeared as a thin stream running through the landscape. It was sad.

At the time, river flows were at 46 cubic feet per second. The two summer dams had not been installed, which would help a little, but it still seemed like there would be more wading than swimming this summer because of very low flows.

Sonoma Water has asked the state Water Resources Control Board to declare a “critical dry year,” which means the lower river, as measured at Hacienda Bridge, could go down to 25 cubic feet per second. (During a year of normal rainfall, 125 cfs would be the lowest flow allowed.) The purpose of lower flows is to better manage upstream reservoir levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, which were also lower than usual for this time of year, a result of no rain from January through March.

While no one has said this, and probably no one knows for sure, many doubt that water released from Lake Mendocino during a drought makes it downstream approximately 70 miles to Hacienda Bridge, where lower river flow measurements occur. To base lower river flows on conditions so far upstream, as proposed, is unrealistic.

The goal of the ruling document, state water board Decision 1610, is to protect human health, salmonid fish and recreation, while preventing unnecessary loss of water needed for beneficial uses. Yet the river is officially designated as impaired for sediments, high temperatures, pathogens and mercury — and those constituents would cause far more harm if concentrated into very low stream flows. You cannot adequately protect human health, and probably not environmental health, at those exceedingly stingy flow levels.

Sonoma County lost 6,400 people since March 2020. Santa Rosa’s planning department website indicates 5,941 new housing units have been approved or are in process since last year. Where will the water come from to serve these units, especially since demand hardening is setting in with many people already conserving as much as they can?

New buildings containing low-flow devices will still use a lot of water, and additional conservation is impossible for some. Even wastewater reuse will be limited because there is less sewage available during drought periods.

What will we do then?

(Brenda Adelman chairs the Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. She lives in Rio Nido.)

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NEW POLICE CHIEF IN FORT BRAGG

by Andrew Scully

Neil Cervenka

Neil Cervenka, a 47-year-old ultra-marathon runner, begins work on July 25th as the new police chief in Fort Bragg. He comes to the post from Turlock, California, where he has served 22 years since beginning his police career in the US Air Force. Cervenka replaces long-time “interim” Chief John Naulty, the man brought in to transition the Fort Bragg Department following the sudden departure of former Chief Fabian Lizarraga, now in charge of the understaffed (50% vacancy on patrol officer positions) police department just over the hill on Highway 20 in Willits. 

Now that we have the official version, here's the subtext: 

Cervenka's first day on the job marks the end of a process that began with the hiring of former Chief Lizarraga, who arrived at the corner of “Walk and Don't Walk” in eccentric Fort Bragg with 37 years of experience in Los Angeles Police Department patrol cruisers and mid-level command staff positions. How well this experience prepared him for the reality of small town policing in a hard-by place like FB is hard to say. It could be the old story of the city mouse not fitting in too well with his country cousins. But whatever the case, it seems that a split over Lizarraga's management style and the city leadership staff spilled out into the open around the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and he left Fort Bragg suddenly in May 2020 to assume control of the police department in nearby Willits, just 25 miles west of town, over the hill on Highway 20.

If Lizarraga thought he could escape his management headaches by moving to Willits, he was sadly mistaken. It turns out he may have gone directly into the frying pan, facing two crises that threaten his very ability to remain in charge. First is the Alexis Blaylock case. Blaylock was Willits’ first Black female police chief and also the first to allege she was ruthlessly hounded from the job by an unrelenting barrage of racist hate and discrimination. She has a large discrimination suit pending against the City of Willits. Then there is the matter of former Willits Police Lieutenant Derek Hendry, who, according to Lizarraga’s carefully parsed phrase, has been “…separated from the department…” for sexual harassment of a female subordinate officer. 

The only thing that Lizarraga seems to have going for him at this point is that most people are distracted by the even-more disastrous police meltdown at Willits’ neighboring big-brother city of Ukiah. There, in the seat of Mendocino County government, the police are reeling from removal of Chief of Police Noble Waidelich under a cloud of sexual assault allegations, and the ongoing disaster of fired former Ukiah Sergeant Kevin Murray and the open question, being played out in slow motion, of how much, if any, he will ever be held to answer on charges that he raped a woman under color of authority while a Ukiah officer. Just one of many shocking developments in that case is the recent reduction or dropping altogether of a longstanding charge of sodomy against a minor against Murray in that case. (Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, in charge of this and all prosecution in the county, has refused all requests for comment on this issue.)

Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell says that it wasn’t simply a personality issue with Fabian. Over 80% of calls for police services in his city are directly related to homelessness, mental health issues, or both, according to Norvell, and old-school policing methods were simply not working, he told us. The mayor said that without addressing these underlying social problems, they simply get worse and further eat away at essential city services. 

After Lizarraga’s departure for Willits, former Lieutenant Naulty agreed to come out of retirement to assist his hometown as an interim Police Chief and consultant. Ironically, Naulty had applied for the Chief post when the City hired Lizarraga. Naulty worked with Norvell, City manager Tabatha Miller, and others to set the template for a less confrontational approach to the mental health and homeless population, one that emphasizes mental health service delivery instead of law enforcement. 

What makes this a bit of a different story is that Fort Bragg actually put some services out on the street in addition to the words and models on paper. Mayor Norvell said a $275,000 grant from the US Department of Justice was secured to help implement the plan and buy a Dodge van from the local dealer. That van was outfitted and is actually responding to calls for service on the streets in Fort Bragg, day in and day out. So the “Crisis Response Unit” from the Dodge dealer and the 2.5 FTE staff positions that were funded from the DOJ Grant are actually working. Mayor Norvell says the new approach is helping: “A better term for our van is actually Crisis Prevention Unit.” 

County supervisor Ted Williams said in an interview that the city's approach to homelessness and mental health is “a model for others to follow.” He argues that cities like Fort Bragg may in fact be better able to tackle certain elements of homelessness than the county with its many layers of cumbersome bureaucracy. Williams also observed that local governments of all types — county, city, and tribal — are the safety net of last resort in America, and that local governments in the United States end up dealing with problems that are created at the federal level.

Supervisor Williams said Fort Bragg’s delivery of services at the point of need in the street has been more responsive and targeted than the County, which has had access to many millions of dollars collected as part of “Measure B,” the local option sales tax increase passed by the voters several years ago. But he says both of these efforts, and more will be needed in the future to meet the ongoing challenge of housing inequality and health services.

For his part, Cervenka brings a long and stable track-record at Turlock, where he began his police career after service in the United States Air Force security police.

Mayor Norvell is optimistic about the new chief and the new approach. Cervenka has finished 50-mile marathon races. He is probably going to need his long game for this next gig.

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Mrs. J.B. Sanford and friend, Miss Bonnie G., Point Arena

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CASPAR TRANSFER STATION JOINT COORDINATING COMMITTEE TO HOLD MEETING JULY 28

The Caspar Transfer Station Joint Coordinating Committee will hold a meeting on July 28, 2022 at 2:30 PM via video conference. To read the agenda and access the Zoom link, please click here: Caspar TS JCC Agenda Package 072822.

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MENDO’S NEW ERA OF TRANSPARENCY!

Before former CEO Carmel Angelo left, people she didn’t like were just told to pick up their things and leave, no notice, no explanation, no identification. We only heard about their departure later if they sued for wrongful termination. But with Angelo gone it’s a whole new deal. The Supervisors are taking their “transparency” rhetoric seriously. Instead of just firing a senior official, they now put the firing on a closed session agenda for discussion without a name or explanation.

From Tuesday’s Closed Session agenda, Item: 6g) “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957- Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release.”

SPECULATION ON WHO might be getting the ax has already begun. But the public probably won’t know unless or until the “public employee” tells us — or files suit.

(Mark Scaramella)

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MEGAN BRAZIL, GUILTY OF DUI

A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned to court from its deliberations late Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty.

Megan Brazil

Defendant Megan Autumn Brazil, age 41, of Fortuna, was found guilty of misdemeanor driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, the crime having taken place this past April on Highway 101 just north of Reeves Canyon.

At a hearing prior in time to the trial, the defendant also admitted possession of methamphetamine and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.

Such partial pretrial admissions are normally entered in a defense effort to keep the trial jurors from learning about the illegal drug possession.

The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence necessary to convict defendant Brazil beyond a reasonable doubt were the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice forensic laboratory.

The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Carlo Sosa. As an aside, this was Carlo’s first jury trial. Your hours of preparation paid off, Carlo. Congratulations.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Patrick Pekin presided over the three-day trial.

(DA Presser)

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ED NOTES

TUESDAY’S MEADOW FIRE in deep Peachland was at the site of a dope grow, whether active or not has not yet been revealed.

RE EXORBITANT fuel costs, Americanos should know that the conservative government of the UK has slapped a 25% windfall tax on Brit oil companies. Why not here? Because… Because oil companies own Congress, or most of it anyway.

A RECENT STORY in the Chron described on-campus teacher housing at a Bay Area school district. Given the extortionate rents everywhere, even here in the alleged outback, teacher housing as part of the teacher's contract is not unknown. I believe both Laytonville and Covelo provide some staff housing. Over the years, teacher housing has been talked about for Anderson Valley, but actually doing it has never proceeded beyond the talking stage. There's some Boonville space for housing in center field at the high school, and more space in the vast expanse of macadam around the bus barn at the elementary school. But it's not only teachers who struggle to find housing, it's darn near every young person (under the age of fifty) who works for wages. 

A READER WRITES: “Don't know if you've been out on the Fort Bragg headlands lately, but the stench from the sewage plant is so bad the California Coastal Commission had to cancel their walking tour of the area last week on account of the smell!”

WHOA! THAT BAD? I asked a Fort Bragger for comment: “I have smelled the odor while out on the trail but it certainly wasn't a gagging smell. Not pleasant, yes, but I have smelled worse driving by dairies in the valley. I have never smelled it from my home and I'm in town.” 

ON THE SUBJECT OF BIRDS, my same Fort Bragg correspondent reports, “I have many birds coming to my feeder and the latest is a beautiful bright yellow and black one that I'm trying to get a photo of. Lots of doves around here too. Garbage day seems to attract the crows and seagulls.The hummingbirds have started to show up this past week.”

A READER COMMENTS re Biden and Trump's functioning: “Personally I don’t think either guy was/is senile. Trump is mad like a rabid animal. Biden has been gaffe-prone for decades. They both have problems, but neither one is really showing signs of the deep cognitive decline you see in, for example, Senator Feinstein. Anyway, I came across this newsletter today and found it interesting. It’s from an Atlantic writer and it concerns the way conservative media magnifies and distorts President Biden’s gaffes.”

TRUMP'S unfit in many ways but he doesn't seem cognitively impaired, just a blustery ignoramus magically thrust into the top spot for four disastrous years by the many millions of similarly handicapped citizens. 

BIDEN? Seems to me he's way past mere gaffes, and it is true that the fascists doctor his occasional appearances to make him seem even more out of it than he is. But I'd say, and trying hard to be objective here because I've always thought Biden was a contemptible, grasping hack of a professional officeholder but only a different kind of contemptible disaster than Trump.

I'M four years older than Biden and much less impaired, but impaired nevertheless in, so far, insignificant ways — poor vision, poor hearing, poor short-term memory, some arthritis — but I'm confident I could face down the media jackals without cue cards and teleprompters, which Biden can't do. And he's president and I'm only marginally in charge of my Boonville acre. Given the rolling, unaddressed catastrophes loose in our probably doomed land, Biden's obvious unfitness only adds to the prevalent anxiety that no one's in charge and the tottering figure in the White House is making everything worse, faster.

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JOSEPH TURRI on Ukiah’s continuing failure to explain their abrupt firing of Police Chief Noble Waidelich:

If the City had solid grounds to fire the “Chief” why has it taken so long for the City and our overpaid City Manager to share the “policy violations” they claim were enough to warrant the police chief’s abrupt termination over 4 weeks ago?

And if the City did have the ‘goods’ on the Chief why did he keep moving up the ladder?

Sounds like this could end up costing the City even more attorney fees and settlements as did the Sewer District debacle and other missteps by our illustrious City Leaders.

Ridiculous, so MUCH money spent for City Leadership and so little in return….

When does this madness stop?

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George Stevenson, Westport Livery Stable

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THE HASCHAK REPORT

3rd District Supervisor John Haschak Ad Hoc work as of July 12, 2022 

Housing: I attended a presentation on homelessness. The presenters were running some of the homeless programs in Sonoma County. Discussion was on what was and wasn’t working with their approach. 

I also met with Planning and Building Services Director Julia Krog, County Counsel Christian Curtis, and Acting Auditor Controller Chamisse Cubbison to discuss the Building Land Trust, an agenda item for increasing short term rental Transient Occupancy Taxes, and other issues that pertain to the Aug. 2 agenda item. 

Drought Ad hoc – On June 16, we had an open to the public meeting of the task force and staff on countywide drought issues and responses. The ad hoc had several meetings with people working on the water extraction draft ordinance. 

CSAC Cannabis Task Force: We met regarding cannabis and water. Presenters were from the State Water Board. State budget eliminated the cultivation tax which was in alignment with Senator McGuire’s proposed legislation and was supported by the Board of Supervisors. 

Cannabis Ad Hoc for issues of Portal and Equity Grant: Ad hoc met with County Counsel and stakeholders to discuss the appeals process and equity grant policies. Ad hoc met with County Counsel to review the draft fallowing ordinance. 

Economic Development: Ad hoc of Supervisor McGourty and me met with Mary Anne Petrillo and Paul Garza to discuss issues with Sonoma Mendocino Economic Development District (SMEDD). Mary Anne and Paul are our representatives on SMEDD. Issues are related to County funding for SMEDD and matching money. 

Workforce Alliance of the North Bay met on June 17. 

Great Redwood Trail Agency met on June 20. Also met at the Ukiah Depot with staff from Coastal Conservancy. Coastal Conservancy is going to oversee the Great Redwood Trail. 

Mendocino County Fire Safe Council discussed grants they have received and reports from local fire safe communities. A lot of the grant work is doing the prep work for CEQA for fuel reduction projects. 

First 5 conducted interviews for the Executive Director position. An offer was made. 

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MO'S HOMELESS TRASH PROGRAM

This report is an update to the Board of Supervisors from Supervisor Mulheren. 

I spent much of 2021 trying to coordinate a regular trash clean up schedule with the homeless service providers that were part of the discussion in 2019. Unfortunately, due to covid and personnel shortages they were not able to engage. At the end of the year, I decided to purchase a truck and start the program on my own. 

I had a friend help me create a map of known camp locations to have trash staged. The City of Ukiah, County of Mendocino Adopt-A-Road and a private business owner helped supply the trash bags that were used to start the program. The bags were easily identifiable orange trash bags. This was a way to let everyone that was working on the program know that it was trash and not someone’s belongings. Homeless individuals were advised to bag any trash and stage it at the locations on the map and it would be picked up. With support from the City of Ukiah I was able to pick up trash a few times a week. The total that I spent at the transfer station for the six-month pilot was under $500. I also utilized a private dumpster as well as some City of Ukiah dumpsters. The City spent roughly 4 person hrs a week and utilized City dumpsters and the transfer station. 

What I want to share about this project is that the majority of people that are living in homeless encampments want to help keep the area clean. I had women that would spend the day gathering trash and bringing it to the staging location. One young man would come and help me load my truck so that I could take it to the transfer station. A really big challenge is that some people that live in encampments are collectors of abandoned items. They will often visit “Free” boxes on the sidewalk and collect those items and take them back to encampment in addition to food and drink packaging I often found shower heads, nightlights, teddy bears etc. I did some outreach to our community to ask if they would be willing to stop putting items out on the sidewalk for free. I didn’t get a positive response; many people think that they are just doing something helpful to their neighbors by leaving these items out. This comes at a huge cost to our community. The one vendor that responded to my request for quotes to clean up the encampment on Brush Street was close to $300,000 a far cry from my transfer station fees and the City crews time. 

It is clear to me that having trash staged in a way that it can be regularly picked up doesn’t happen for free, but it is more efficient and less expensive than cleaning up encampments that are disbanded. Through this process I was able to do outreach to our local service providers to talk about the importance of trash collection where we know that people are located. We also discussed the importance of having items returned either for laundering or disposal. What is more complicated are the “Free” boxes or individuals that personally bring items to the encampments. That is an important conversation around the cost of homelessness and the trash in our community. 

The County Homeless Outreach Team has been working with the Ukiah Police Department and Mendocino County Sheriffs Office to create a protocol for encampment disbandment of camps with five persons or more, in the meantime I’d like to continue making sure we can get the trash picked up at various locations. Without the help of the City of Ukiah Parks and Streets crews I would not have been able to keep up on disposing of the quantity of trash at the location of the Brush Street encampment, so I’d like to thank them as well as City Manager Sangiacomo for their efforts in helping keep our community clean. 

If there are any communities that would like to know more about this program, please email me at MulherenM@MendocinoCounty.org 

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Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

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MARCO ON THE MILL SITE CONTROVERSY

Development for development's sake.

Re: the mill site controversy. I just went to Costco in Rohnert Park to get my eyes examined. The prescription doesn't change from two years ago, my old glasses are good enough, because no more can be done for my vision until I have cataract surgery, which of course I can't pay for, and the insurance won't pay enough for, so like millions of others I'll have to wait until I get social security and Medicare and all that. I'm still safe to drive, and I can still do my radio show, thank Christ.

Anyway, I went to Home Depot to get heater filters for my mother, and it occurred to me to mention here that if you want a cheap filter for ash and smoke inside your house, for the wildfires coming rather sooner than later this year, now would be the time to buy a $10 box fan from the thrift store and a flat furnace filter to tape to it, while they still have stacks of filters in the store for like five dollars each. Because once the fires start, those all go really fast. A bedsheet will work but not well; it's like the difference between a real surgical breathing mask and the crappy ones people were knitting for themselves and sewing together out of old t-shirts and tablecloths.

And it took awhile to get between Costco and Home Depot because of the casino traffic, even with all the new lights and intersections and road widening they put in to deal with it. As I understand it, white developers cobbled up a Chinese puzzle of a legal deal that let them put up an Indian casino here a few years ago. And there's a lot of cheap frame particleboard and plaster hotels and stuff going up everywhere, you know, for the ancillary prostitution and drug deals and private meetings and art theft and ransom negotiations and so on. Before you go along with development for development's sake on those hundreds of millions of dollars in prime vacationville oceanfront real estate in Fort Bragg, because you think anything's better than nothing there, and wouldn't if be nice if Junior had a character-rounding sheetrock job for a couple of months, get a look at Rohnert Park lately, and compare it to the Biff-caused future in /Back To The Future 2/, because it's getting there. It's almost there. It took hardly any time at all.

Back-To-The-Future-2 casino king Biff was modeled on Donald Trump, even then. I don't know if you knew that.

Sierra Railroad Corp. wanted all that Fort Bragg land to make a fortune for themselves. So far, they seem to think all they have to do to get away with it is stick to the plan and sue or ignore or simply shout down anyone who puts up a fuss. Here's an idea: Apply the law, make them clean the poison out of the soil and plant a nice park of native vegetation, and then eminent-domain it right back from them, for the same pennies on the dollar they got if for. And when they go /Ow! It hurts! You're hurting our obscenely rich bosses monetarily! They've already counted their chickens!/ then, dang-it, that's the breaks. They gambled and they lost, fair and square. Know when to fold 'em.

Marco McClean

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Maude Alena Weller, 1898

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DAY TRIPPING - THE TWO FORESTS OF VAN DAMME - TOWERING REDWOODS, TINY MENDOCINO CYPRESS

by Justine Frederiksen

There are trees found only on the coast of Mendocino County. And if that weren’t cool enough, there’s a whole forest of them that can only be reached by a wooden walkway tucked into a corner of a lush, green state park.

Called Mendocino Cypress, or Pygmy Cypress, these special trees grow “only on coastal terraces between Fort Bragg and Anchor Bay,” according to a sign in the small section of Van Damme State Park aptly named the Pygmy Forest.

Humans can only get close to these Pygmy Cypress via a long walkway lined on both sides with trees whose growth was stunted: “When not in poor soil, the (cypress) can grow over a hundred feet tall,” the interpretative sign explains. However, in the park, the trees “stand only a foot or two high (and have) a trunk diameter of one quarter inch, with as many as 80 growth rings. Some of these trees are undoubtedly over a century old.”

You can actually drive quite close to the walkway instead of hiking through the park, but if you are able to walk through the lush forest full of redwood trees, ferns and 18 bridges over flowing water to reach the Pygmy Forest, I definitely recommend that, especially if it’s in late winter or early spring when you might see oodles of banana slugs and mushrooms on the trail.

If you live in Ukiah, Van Damme is most easily reached by taking Highways 253 and 128 to Highway 1, then the park is just a few miles up on the right.

Once you reach the park, you have the choice of parking for free in the beach cove near the pit toilets, or you can drive into the park and pay a day use fee. If you drive in, you can park right at the trailhead, which begins where the campground ends.

If you walk in, just keep following the pavement until you reach a gate and a large sign that says Fern Canyon Trail. If you park outside, it will take you about 10 minutes to walk to the trailhead, and be sure to not take any trails leading up the hills — just follow the campground roads straight ahead until they stop.

Once on the trail, you are immersed in forest: strolling on a flat, mostly paved trail that hugs the flowing water and is bordered by lush ferns with redwoods towering above your head, and lots of cool bridges at your feet.

The bridges are all numbered, and can be very slippery in wet weather, and after bridge 10 you begin heading up and away from the water and deeper into the forest. Once you leave the bridges behind, the trail starts to climb gradually.

At about 1.75 miles in, you start seeing campsites and outhouses, and if you continue on, at about the two-mile mark you’ll hit a fork with the Old Logging Road Trail going off to the right, though there is no sign.

From there you can follow the logging road about a mile more to the Pygmy Forest Self-Guided Trail, a short loop on elevated walkways. If you choose to stay to the left, you can keep following the Fern Canyon Trail for another two miles to the Pygmy Forest, which, fair warning, does take you up a fairly steep hill.

There is also a third option for reaching the Pygmy Forest: turn onto Little River Airport Road just south of the park and follow it for three miles (past the airport) until you see a sign for the Pygmy Forest parking lot. There you can park and hop out to where the wooden walkways start and the interpretive signs guide you through the forest.

I’ve done both approaches to the Pygmy Forest, and I have to say I much prefer hiking the Fern Canyon Trail first. Not only do you get the experience of the lush, green forest, but then the transition to the Pygmy Forest under blue skies and bright sun is that much more striking.

No matter how you reach the Pygmy Forest, however, once there you will feel transported into another world.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Herman and Amelia Fayal, 1974

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EVENTS, EXHIBITS AND CARNIVAL RIDES SIGNAL THE RETURN OF THE REDWOOD EMPIRE SUMMER FAIR

The Redwood Empire Summer Fair returns to Ukiah’s Redwood Empire Fairgrounds the first week of August with events and entertainment for the whole family.

Beginning the afternoon of Thursday, August 4th and running through Sunday, August 7th the fair will feature a traditional livestock auction and exhibits as well as live entertainment and

a full carnival with rides and games for guests of all ages. A wide array of fair food will also be available throughout the weekend.

“The Redwood Empire Summer Fair is a local tradition 86 years in the making,” said Jennifer Seward, Fair CEO. “We have a spectacular line up of entertainment and exhibits ranging from livestock shows to jugglers, exotic animals, pie and corn dog eating contests, monster trucks and so much more. We encourage the whole family to come out and enjoy all that the fair has to offer.”

One of the exhibits that is expected to be a major attraction for the fair is “A Walk on the Wild Side” featuring a live tiger among other exotic animals and a dinosaur discovery exhibit. The exhibit will run all four days of the fair. The grandstands will also be full of energy as monster trucks, mud boggs, truck and tractor pulls, jalopies and boat races are scheduled for various days of the fair.

Admission prices are $9 for adults and $7 for children 6-12 years of age. Seniors (aged 65 years and over) are $7. Grandstand shows will be included in fair admission fees. Parking is $10 and is cash-only.

Pre-sale carnival wristband tickets are available at all Mendo Mill Ukiah, Ukiah Taco Bell, Raley’s, Super Chavez Market, the Creative Workshop and JD Redhouse in Willits. Pre-sale wristbands are $30 each (price at the carnival is $35) and are good for any one day. Pre-sale tickets will stop selling Thursday, August 4th at 2:00 p.m.

Anyone interested in entering a product or collection to compete for a ribbon or a cash prize, must pre-register by Friday, July 15th. More information and forms are available by visiting www.redwoodempirefair.com and clicking the “online entries” tab. Classes will be offered for all ages in quilting, floriculture, painting, baked goods, woodworking and many other hobbies.

Gates will open for the Summer Fair at 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 4th and Friday, August 5th and at Noon August 6-7th.

— Amy Tesconi, 707-806-7236, amytesconimarketing.com

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Hardy Hotel, North Coast, 1913

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SAKO RAGES, KATHY LAUGHS OUT LOUD

Editor,

To the Editor:

In Mark Scaramella’s excellent piece, “Grand Jury Aims at Measure B Again. Misses Badly”, the people of Mendocino County should also note that the grand jury report was released by none other than Kathy Wylie, perennial foreman of the county grand jury. As foreman, Ms. Wylie also served as chief apologist and sycophant for recently retired Carmel “Boss” Angelo. Investigations were killed or derailed by Wylie. Reports were watered down, or sugar coated, by Wylie.

This is same Kathy Wylie who set up false Facebook pages purporting to be the official pages for each of the county’s five supervisor districts. She was the administrator for each of those pages.

In truth, the county’s five districts do not have official pages.

I reported this deception to the Hon. Jeanine B. Nadel, the judge who oversees the grand jury – and who also owes her judgeship to Carmel Angelo — and, not surprisingly, heard nothing.

Then I reported the deception to Facebook and the pages were removed. Ms. Wylie had been using the pages to disseminate false news, conduct false voter polls, and to anonymously attack her many critics. As administrator for those pages, Ms. Wylie also silenced critics by blocking them from her pages or censoring their content.

Ultimately, a few alternative district pages were created by honest, well-meaning citizens. These are true community pages. No one is censored. No one is blocked. These pages celebrate free speech.

So, who is Kathy Wylie?

I think I’m beginning to put the pieces together.

Kathy Wylie, perennial foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury, may be the realtor fronting for the Skunk’s Train’s acquisition of the 320+ acre Georgia Pacific mill site for only $1.5 million. If she, in fact, represented either party in the Georgia Pacific-Skunk Train transaction, we have a smoking gun. Kathy Wylie should have made a full disclosure.

Here’s my working theory:

Carmel Angelo, perhaps advised by Mike Sweeney, who now lives in New Zealand, put the deal together.

Cathy Wylie brokered the Skunk Train deal as a realtor, then suppressed grand jury investigations into the deal.

Judge Jeanine Nadel rubberstamped all the necessary permits, easements, variances, and approvals, or otherwise gave backroom legal advice.

What do we know for sure?

What we know for sure is that Ms. Wylie is definitely pro-development and pro-tourism.

We also know there is the direct connection between Georgia Pacific stockholders (Koch Brothers) and Mendocino Railway.

From looking at the State of California corporate filings of all the known associated corporations to Sierra Railroad, the executives of those companies get shuffled around regularly. As an example, as of this year, Robert Pinoli is no longer CEO of Mendocino Railway…Mike Hart is the current CEO and Pinoli is only a director. But yet, his business address is the same as Sierra Railroad. This type of shuffling is continuous, so there is never a responsible party for accountability.

We also know it is more likely than not that Koch’s sold the millsite property to themselves using their corporate spiderweb…if for no other reason than to tangle things up in court for another 10 or 20 years.

We also know California Western Railway was sold in bankruptcy as stated and that sale can be overturned with the proper diligence. With Mendocino Railways lack of responsible action since the acquisition the properties, it would seem to be the clearest path forward to ending this takeover of our community. More research is needed though as well as finding an attorney or group of attorneys that would take it on.

And we know Sierra Northern Railway is a sister corporation to Mendocino Railway and an active participant in the takeover of our community. They have been used as a cover to purchase certain properties that are of value to Sierra Railroad and related entities…the most significant being a property out by Sherwood Road, directly over the collapsed tunnel that was purchased last year from Mendocino Land Trust.

As I said earlier, Mike Hart is now CEO of Mendocino Railway. Meanwhile, Chris Hart has moved his family to Fort Bragg to be closer to the action. He is heavily involved with Sierra Energy and the FastOx gasification process …the Mike Sweeney connection. Mike’s dream was to burn the Bay Areas’s trash right here in Mendocino County and FastOx is the next generation of waste gasification. FastOx gasification uses heat, steam and oxygen to break down waste at the molecular level. Organic materials turn into an energy-dense syngas. Inorganics melt into a non-leaching stone and metals. Waste turns into tar-free syngas suitable for conversion into high-value salable end products with no waste by-products created.

However, I’m not certain FastOx is something that Mendocino Railway really wants to bring to Fort Bragg. It may be more false news, more corporate misdirection. If we look at what Mendocino Railway is currently doing, it all revolves around the tourist industry. I don’t think burning trash and tourism can coexist. Buying up properties as they come up in estate sales and before they hit the market to turn them into expensive getaways seems more their speed. While at the same time keeping the millsite in perpetual court battles to avoid the necessary cleanup that Koch has left. California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has already stated that they aren’t letting GP and Koch off the hook no matter who owns the property, so it is to Koch’s advantage to keep the legal battles going perpetually. Besides, with the $1.5 million acquisition, by Sierra, Koch gets to claim a $50 million loss on their taxes from the forced eminent domain proceeding. Both sides benefit from it. The 70 acres of Pudding Creek watershed has no toxic implications and Sierra is already moving forward to “carnivalize” that area.

Finally, we know Kathy Wylie is a snake. She needs close scrutiny and certainly shouldn’t be in charge of determining what cases come before the grand jury. Just the fact that she is a real estate broker puts her in conflict.

Here’s Ms. Wylie’s realtor license info:

Name: Katharine Dawn Wylie
License Number: 01058901
License Type: Real Estate Broker
License Status Licensed: Active
License Effective Date: 17 September 2016
Address: PO Box 441, Albion, California 95410-0441

John Sakowicz

Ukiah


KATHY WYLIE responds: LOL

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, July 21, 2022

Cruz, Dorman, Esquivel, Frahm

BENIGNO CRUZ-CRUZ, Covelo. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, no license.

DAVID DORMAN, Ukiah. Criminal threats, probation revocation.

EDWARD ESQUIVEL JR., Willits. Failure to appear, resisting.

HENRY FRAHM, Ukiah. Continuous sexual abuse of child.

Harlan, Langley, Milberger, Munoz

JASON HARLAN, Willits. False personation of another, parole violation.

MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Under influence.

STEPHANIE MILBERGER, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle, paraphernalia.

ORLANDO MUNOZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.

Ortega, Perdue, Roberts

ARTEMIO ORTEGA-REYES, Ukiah. Trespassing.

JERI PERDUE, Ukiah. Controlled substance, disobeying court order, failure to appear.

CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Arson, arson device/material. (Frequent flyer.)

Rulka, Sanchez, Valenzuela

REBECCA RULKA, Lakeport/Ukiah. Suspended license for DUI, driving without license with priors, failure to appear.

ELADIO SANCHEZ-GARCIA, Salinas. DUI.

LEONEL VALENZUELA II, Ukiah. Parole violation.

* * *

Mendocino SS Line, San Francisco, 1921

* * *

SPEAKING FOR MYSELF

Editor,

Rarely does life pick someone from being prosecuted randomly by a “corrupt system.” 99% of the time the allegations brought against a defendant are true. While sometimes the defendant may not be guilty of all the allegations, there is usually some truth to the charge or charges. As a convict, I know this belief is contrary to what most convicts believe. Let me be clear that I speak solely on my personal experience in the criminal system in Mendocino County going back as far as 1986 when I served my first prison term. I have had my share of dump truck public defenders and district attorneys who trumped up my charges. And my share of dirty ass parole officers. I chuckle as I recall a scene in the film “Liar Liar” with Jim Carrey as an attorney who cannot tell a lie in spite of trying his best to do so.

Carrey is at his office when the phone rings. It is one of his clients, a low-level drug offender calling from the jail holding cell. He is frantic as he screams to his attorney: “I need some legal advice!” Carrey, as his attorney, replies: “You want some legal advice? Stop breaking the law!” It's funny because it's the best advice I've ever had heard a lawyer give. People who play by the rules, stay in their lane and contribute to the world they live in rarely if ever in their lives will even have a single conversation with a police officer.

Admittedly, I have been an outlaw since the age of 12. I made my choices and rolled with the punches. Never have I had the impulse to write a letter to the AVA professing my innocence or crying about the injustice of a corrupt legal system. Mainly because I am not a victim. Nor do I want to represent myself as a victim in a public forum. And because I know people just do not care. 

There are far too many legitimate injustices bestowed upon people in this world for them to care about a criminal crying foul. Most people are disgusted by the irony of a person who has never shown any regard for their victims “rights” and then in turn demands that their rights be honored on a silver platter!

Of course, I mean no offense to those inmates who air their feelings in the Advertiser. I respect everyone's feelings and opinions. Again, I speak only for myself when I say it just ain't my style! I will keep my commentary light and positive. The world has far too many crybabies as it is. So please allow me to leave the readers and my community with the following: If by chance you are one of those whose toes I stepped on, please forgive my behavior. I will work harder at staying out of your way.

All my best/With love,

Alan Sonny Crow

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

* * *

* * *

UKRAINE, THURSDAY, JULY 21

Russian state energy giant Gazprom has resumed gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline into Germany, a day after the EU announced plans to ration gas amid fears Moscow could cut supplies to the continent.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces are trying “around the clock” to break through defensive lines in the eastern Donetsk region as they aim for the “main goal” of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

Russia's foreign minister said Moscow's objectives in Ukraine now extend beyond the eastern Donbas region into the south, warning it “cannot allow” Ukraine to have weapons that threaten Russia or its territories.

Contrary to rumors surrounding Vladimir Putin's health, the Russian President is “entirely too healthy,” according to the head of the CIA.

(CNN)

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* * *

A NEW TALIBAN?

by Zain Samir

There are hundreds of military bases scattered across Afghanistan, from concrete watchtowers, surrounded by razor wire, to massive airbases, fortified with concrete blast walls and watchtowers stretching for miles. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan and foreign soldiers, officers, technicians, cooks, cleaners and generals occupied these bases, along with armored Humvees, helicopters, gunships, transport aircraft and drones. Most of them were built by the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but they were expanded and modernized by the US and NATO, with billions of dollars paid to mostly US military contractors for maintenance, catering and training.

In the space of a month last summer – nearly twenty years after George W. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom – all these bases, large and small, fell to the Taliban as the last US troops prepared to withdraw from the country. In almost every case, the Taliban fighters didn’t have to worry about the fortifications. The Afghan army personnel inside opened the gates, put down their weapons, changed into civilian clothes and went home, demonstrating the monumental failure of yet another foreign invasion of Afghanistan. For the US, it was a remarkable and embarrassing defeat, the worst since the fall of Saigon. It was followed by another fiasco, as Western countries and their allies struggled to evacuate foreign nationals and tens of thousands of Afghans who were trying to flee from the Taliban takeover. The Taliban – essentially a rural insurgency – have neither the manpower nor the need for all these bases. They stripped them of weapons, vehicles and equipment, and abandoned them. Today they are reminders of the hubris of a failed empire, and gradually the people who live in their shadow are demolishing them.

In the town of Sangin in Helmand province, a man was rebuilding his house on the outskirts of one such base. ‘They evicted me and my family, destroyed my house to build this base,’ he said, his hands white with dust. His sons and nephews were shifting rubble while a cousin was mixing mud and straw to mold into building blocks. Above them were the remains of Forward Operating Base Jackson, machine gun nests still protruding from the rocks. American, British and Afghan forces based in this fortress on a hill overlooking Sangin and the desert beyond had repeatedly tried and failed to drive the Taliban away from the town, which controls the road to Kandahar and is a major hub for the opium trade. Thousands of soldiers, both army and Taliban, were killed in the fighting in Helmand, along with thousands of Afghan civilians and five hundred American and British soldiers. The British, who took over the base in 2006 and left in 2010, lost more men in Sangin than anywhere else in Afghanistan, often to roadside IEDs or explosives planted in orchards and fields.

Inside the base the ground was littered with empty ammunition crates, discarded uniforms, flak jackets and yellow plastic jerrycans. A watchtower had been constructed with wooden planks, sandbags and HESCO barriers – collapsible mesh boxes with heavy-duty fabric liners, filled with dirt and gravel. These portable structures are ubiquitous in Afghanistan, remnants of America’s failed war. Invented by a British ex-coal miner in the late 1980s, HESCO barriers were originally designed for flood control and to prevent erosion. Millions of them were used to barricade government buildings, checkpoints and military installations, crumbling as the war dragged on, their gravel spilling out only for new ones to be positioned on top of them. Now the HESCOs are being repurposed, used as fences for animal pens and chicken coops, or flattened to make doors for mud-built shops. Or for a watchtower like this, manned by three Taliban sentries, with the white Taliban – and now Afghan – flag fluttering above them in the breeze.

(London Review of Books)

* * *

Halifax, 1937 (photo by Bill Brandt)

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

The problem is not an armed right wing and a listless left. The problem is a clueless yet merciless upper class and a totally fractured and disorganized lower class. There is barely a hair of difference between Trump, Biden, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan. The elections are clearly fake, the democracy is certainly phony and the real question is When Will The System Finally Fail? Biden and company seem to be rushing to make sure it happens this November.

* * *

THE LATE JAKE SCOTT was born 77 years ago today. Long before Dan Marino wore #13 for the Dolphins, that number belonged to Scott. But that's where the similarities with Marino end. From 1970 through 1975, Jake Scott played free safety for the Dolphins and was one of the most feared, talented and mysterious players to wear the aqua and orange. He was a master thief in the Dolphins secondary, intercepting 35 passes in just 6 seasons. His interception totals are still a Miami Dolphins team record. Scott along with Dick Anderson were considered the NFL's best pair of safeties in the early 1970s. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 5 times and was twice named first team All Pro. But his most memorable moment was intercepting two passes against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.

But individual statistics tell only part of Scott's story. During his years in Miami, Scott developed a legendary reputation with his teammates as a tough guy and a party animal who loved to raise hell. He once consumed 43 beers in one sitting. He was said to be a bigger womanizer than Joe Namath. And if there was ever a bar fight, you wanted Jake Scott on your side. He intimidated his own teammates. During his first season with Dolphins in 1970, rookie players were required to sing their college fight song as a hazing ritual. Scott was the only rookie who refused to participate. Nobody wanted to mess with him.

When his career ended, he withdrew completely from the football world. For many years only a few close friends knew his whereabouts. Even family members couldn't find him. In 2006 Sun Sentinel sportswriter Dave Hyde finally tracked Scott down and found him living in a remote region in Hawaii. Scott claims he makes his living as an “investor” while living the good life in his little corner of the world. He doesn't follow football and it's a part of his life he has put behind him. After 4 decades of self exile, Scott finally reconciled with Shula and attended several Dolphin alumni functions. Jake Scott passed away on November 19, 2020. He was 75 years old.

* * *

THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER

by Sam O’Brien

All you need is a chip and a chair.” — Jack Strauss

“Click, click, click,” the room was filled with the repetitive sound of chips ricocheting against one another in rhythmic waves that washed over the players and spectators. No one was speaking. The concentration of the poker players in the convention room was palpable. Like a heavy fog on a coastal morning, it clouded everything in sight. The room was at least a hundred yards in length by fifty yards in width, and nearly all the room was inhabited by poker games. Large screens dropped down from the ceilings announcing the next tournament time, along with table numbers. Waiting players or players that had been knocked out of the tournament sprawled on the carpet in the corners of the rooms, some laid out on their duffel bags, others sitting cross-legged studying open laptops. Floor managers made their paces back and forth behind the sea of poker. Players hunched over tables, eight per station, many with backpacks slung over the backs of their chairs. Many players wore poker hats, slammed down tightly over their brows. Players listened to music through ear buds or large headphones, and a lot of the men sported some type of beard and World Series of Poker sweatshirts in the air-conditioned convention rooms of Bally’s Hotel Casino and the adjoining Paris Casino. There were women playing as well, several at each table, also intense and bent upon winning at all costs. 

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is on the Las Vegas Strip for the first time this summer, moving from the Rio where it had been held for the last seventeen years. Before the Rio, its original home was at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino on Fremont Street in old downtown Las Vegas, where it was founded by poker player and casino magnate, Benny Binion, who in 1970 hosted the first ten invitees. That original event has grown into one of the world’s premier poker tournaments hosting thousands of players today that make the trip from all over the world. I heard French, Mandarin, German, and Spanish being spoken amongst players as they left the tourney, dejectedly dragging their suitcases behind them, busted, and headed to McCarran Airport. I wasn’t at the World Series to gamble, but to cover my brother’s play as he competed in his second WSOP. My brother, Aaron, had grown up in Anderson Valley starring in basketball in the early 80s before leaving after his sophomore year to finish his career at Ukiah High. He later played overseas and coached at the CBA, college, and high school levels. He is an intense competitor, and No Limit Poker fills that void of playing basketball at a high level, which he can no longer do. Together we have been penning his memoir, Down to the Felt, which will be released next year.

The main event paying a ten-million-dollar purse to the winner, or the Main as players called it, resided in Bally’s, as well in a smaller adjoining convention room, outfitted with a media center, cameras, and more lighting. The entry fee for the Main is $10,000 and many poker professionals pool their money and buy percentages of participating players. The WSOP runs a variety of tournaments over two months from late May through July, most being a variation of No Limit Poker, with entry fees ranging from $400 to $100,000 an individual. For poker pros, it is a badge of honor to have battled in the Main. It was day five of the Main event, and there may have been 140 players still playing in well-lit tables under the watchful eyes of camera crews, reporters, bloggers, and fans on the other side of a roped off partition. 

The Paris held the registration and pay out queues, long lines that snaked down the casino floor full of tired poker pros waiting to register for a tourney, or cash if they were fortunate to make the top 15% of any given tournament. The payout used to only include the top 10%, but to increase entries and fatten the purse, the WSOP increased the cutoff to 15% this year. Ultimately, it is just a ruse, because only the top 3% of finalists make any real money, and there are easily a thousand players or more in each tournament. The odds are astronomical. If a player does cash, then he or she is paying 24% to the federal government and whatever state taxes apply in their home states. The WSOP also takes 12 plus percent right off the top from players’ tournament fees to participate, so in essence, one is paying nearly a 40- 45% rake of any winnings. Most of the players could care less, as they were there to win a WSOP bracelet of some event, any event. There’s an old saying on the floor that players often repeat, “If you want to make money play cash games, if you want to be famous play tournaments.”

The Paris also held a football field or two of poker action in a convention room, which was split into two segments. The main floor held tournament play, and the back held low end cash games, as well as the high-end games, otherwise known as the Kings Club. The heat outside was nearly unbearable, an anvil flame of fire from sunrise to sunset, easily topping 110 degrees daily. At night it cooled down to a balmy 100 degrees, but players rarely ventured out of the casinos. Instead, they locked into tournaments from 12pm to 1 am every day with a 75-minute dinner break at 6pm nightly. Some players had been there for two months. I talked with one couple from LA that had been playing nonstop since early June with and they only took one break over the Fourth of July weekend when they made the drive home to Los Angeles for two days, before dutifully returning to the tables that following Tuesday afternoon. It was war.

I ran into a grizzled older player named Phil from Owensboro, Kentucky, during dinner at Bobby Flay’s Burger Bar. Phil looked like a typical poker pro: unshaven, a little unkempt and tired wearing a plaid shirt that was tucked into blue jeans, smelling like dried sweat and adrenaline, “I was right there, almost in the money and I got knocked out. I had two pairs, Queens and Nines, but the other guy made it a Full House on the river.”

Every poker player “was almost there”. That is a common refrain amongst poker pros, and every one of these players can tell you in exact detail the hand where they were knocked out. One poor soul I ran into, a local who felt in his heart it was finally his year, was going to sell his car for tournament entry fees, only to lose his car to theft the day before the World Series opened. All he could subsequently afford was the $500 entry fee for the Housewarming Tournament that kicked of the Series which included over 20,000 participants. He got knocked out of that rather quickly and spent his time slinking around low-end cash games trying to put together a stake muttering to anyone that would listen, “I would have won it this year if my car wasn’t stolen. I could feel it!”

Jack Strauss, a poker professional and winner of two WSOP bracelets, in the 1982 WSOP Main event was down to his last chip, when he made a miraculous comeback and won the whole thing giving birth to his infamous quote, “All you need is a chip and a chair.” The part he omitted was luck, a whole lot of luck. You need to not only be a skilled player in tournament play, but you need to go on a torrential run getting cards and seeing the board. In tournament play, the blinds increase exponentially, and you must take down other players’ stacks early to position yourself for a run at the last table. If you get busted out and need to rebuy, it is usually too late because you are already so far behind in the chip count. But, that’s Vegas, and that’s poker. It is an all-or-nothing-venture, and everyone thinks they are going to be a star; they just need a break. In a lot of ways, it is similar to making it in America; most don’t. People tend to just get by, living paycheck to paycheck, but the hope of really making it is what fuels the masses. It is the same on the felt.

* * *

* * *

LIVE BLOG: JANUARY 6TH HEARINGS, THURSDAY, JULY 21

The big dismount, or just the beginning?

by Matt Taibbi

For six years now, investigators of every stripe and hue, from the FBI to the CIA to the NSA to Intelligence Committees in both the Senate and the House, have been pursuing Donald Trump (I wrote an article about the extraordinary litany of probes here). Tonight’s hearing on the January 6th events has been hyped like political Wrestlemania, a wipeout primetime show Democrats hope will move the needle heading into midterm elections.

Part of the reason multiple previous impeachment and prosecution efforts failed is because investigations often failed to deliver evidence at moments just like this. However, testimony that a Secret Service agent close to Donald Trump may have tried to take nervous ex-Vice President Mike Pence to a “secure location” on the day he was due to sign off on Joe Biden’s election win — “I’m not getting in the car,” Pence reportedly told the detail — is the first thing like a genuine coup plan ever even asserted by Trump’s pursuers. The Intercept last week reported that some Secret Service agents deleted their texts when asked for them by investigators, and quoted a “congressional” source as saying, “People need to understand that if Pence had listened to the Secret Service and fled the Capitol, this could have turned out a whole lot worse… It could’ve been a successful coup, not just an attempted one.” 

Again, six years of investigations that mostly floated on unnamed sources and never-produced evidence failed previously, but this is probably as close to real trouble as Donald Trump has been in since entering politics. Polls show a majority of the public favors prosecution (though only a quarter of respondents expect it to actually happen), and Joe Biden himself has reportedly “said privately” he wants his Attorney General to be more aggressive in pursuing Trump.

But: unless Democrats produce proof of an actual premeditated plan to usurp the election soon, this feels like yet another political jump ball. A passage from the unofficial mouthpiece of the intelligence community, Lawfare, leads me to think Democrats may not be sitting on hot cards:

Following the most recent congressional hearing on Jan. 6, Andrew Weissmann, formerly a prosecutor working under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, warned that the Justice Department seems to be taking “the wrong approach to investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection” by zeroing in with a “myopic” focus on the specifics of the riot itself, rather than the broader scope of efforts to overturn the election.

When gung-ho Trump-detesting former federal prosecutor and Robert Mueller aide Andrew Weissmann complains about a “myopic” focus on specifics, it makes you wonder. Weissmann’s New York Times guest essay worried that “building a criminal case that looks solely at the riot itself is far more complex legally and factually,” saying he preferred a “broader approach” focusing on a grander, multiprong, “hub-and-spoke” conspiracy. This, he wrote, would “avoid the thorny debate that has emerged as to whether Mr. Trump could be criminally culpable.” 

Once again, this feels like a Seth Abramson-style literary approach to arguing criminal responsibility. But if Trump did have some kind of plan involving, say, the Secret Service to bring about the Capitol unrest, and/or whisk Mike Pence to a vault somewhere — which isn’t totally impossible — this could actually lead to real consequence. But they have to produce that evidence soon. Tonight’s hearing will include witnesses like White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who’ll be questioned by military vets Elaine Luria of Virginia, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. What will come out of it?

Anything like evidence of an actual premeditated attempt by Secret Service in coordination with Trump to remove Pence that day would be devastating, especially amid rumors Trump is close (“I’ve already made that decision”) to announcing another run for office.…

taibbi.substack.com/p/live-blog-january-6th-hearings-thursday

* * *

"You Blew Me Away 8" – scrap metal sculpture by Penny Hardy

5 Comments

  1. Craig Stehr July 22, 2022

    Awake at 5:48AM at the Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California. Most guests are asleep. An all night social gathering continues outside at the front area picnic table. Mostly story telling. Received an email from Redwood Valley where I previously was a resident. There remains basic cordiality. As ever, do not be identified with either the body nor the mind, but only the Eternal Witness. In actuality, one’s real spiritual identity is mystical, which cannot be adequately described by language, because the finite is incapable of containing the infinite. Thus it is. ;-))

  2. Bruce Broderick July 22, 2022

    Comment on SAKO RAGES, KATHY LAUGHS OUT LOUD
    Mostly well stated. There’s more.
    Bruce Broderick

  3. Harvey Reading July 22, 2022

    ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

    Excellent summation.

  4. Craig Stehr July 22, 2022

    It is 3:49P.M. PDT in downtown Ukiah, CA. Read today’s New York Times. Nothin’. Nada. The mental factory is still. Nothin’. Nada. Will amble down to RespechTech on Perkins Street to see what the condition of the ailing ACER computer is, that they are attempting to heal. A group from a farm comes to Building Bridges homeless shelter and serves a wonderful meal on Fridays. Something. Yaya. Sitting right now, here!, in front of computer #7 at the Ukiah Public Library. Everything. Jai Ho! [Jai ho” (Hindi: जय हो), also transliterated “Jaya ho”, is a Hindi phrase which can be roughly translated as “Let [the] victory prevail”, “Let there be victory”, or “May there be victory”, “Victory Be To”. ]

    Craig Louis Stehr
    Email: craiglouisstehr@gmail.com
    Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
    Share Money Here: PayPal.me/craiglouisstehr
    da blog: http://craiglstehr.blogspot.com
    Snail Mail: P.O. Box 938, Redwood Valley, CA 95470
    22.VII.’22

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