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Mendocino County Today: January 7, 2012

AThousandLivesA THOUSAND LIVES — The Untold Story of JonesTown by Julia Scheeres isn't what the mighty AVA would recommend as must reading, but for those of us who remain fascinated by a mass murder that got rolling in Mendocino County by way of Indianapolis, A Thousand Lives is an interesting book. Ms. Scheeres has gone directly to several survivors and the federal archive to create a picture of the cult's last days, and it's clear from her account that many of the people killed in Guyana were not in thrall to the madman who'd gulled them into going there; they were force fed the cyanide-laced kool-aid that killed them. Jones's amalgam of selective Christianity and pseudo-left multi-culturalism beguiled the naive, the unlettered, but not to be too cynical about him if he hadn't gone all the way off the rails via amphetamine, he might still be going strong at cult-brained strongholds of the gullible at places like KZYX and KPFA.

WE JUST MISSED Jones in Boonville when we got here early in 1971. He'd taught school for a couple of years at Anderson Valley Elementary, but by the time I arrived the Rev was back over the hill as the full-time pastor of his growing flock just north of Ukiah in Redwood Valley.

JimJonesAS JONES was picking up financial steam in Mendocino County by ripping off the state and federal money that came with the many dependent persons he recruited for his church simply so he could rip them off, I was doing my frantic best to supervise a dozen mostly black urban delinquents on a ranch south of Boonville. Us nominal adults in loose charge of the delinquents were also a multi-racial crew and, like Jones, our thinking was delusional. We thought delinquents would be less delinquent under the redwoods than they were under the streetlights. They weren't, and we didn't have the array of electronic babysitting tools available to today's do-gooders, so we had to do all the entertaining. Even if we'd had access to television and gizmos it was obvious that nothing can be done to undo early-imprint pathology. If the kid was removed from his home permanently no later than age three or four, he might not grow up to be a crook. But later than that, as he learns to use force or the threat of it to get what he wants, it's bye-bye baby. Nothing has changed in almost fifty years. Anybody who says he knows what to do with tough kids is either lying or fooling himself.

IT WAS UP TO US to entertain our band of budding monsters who, of course, went on to unsuccessful careers in violent crime, early deaths and permanent incarceration when they left Boonville. If nothing else, they had a reasonably good time during their pastoral interlude.

CIRCA 1971, I'd met a probation officer who told me I really ought to drive our whole show over the hill “to the most amazing church I've ever seen.” She said she could “get us in.” Get us in? Services by invitation? Ring-a-ding dong, rang the alarm bells. Besides, our guys were, to put in mildly, unpredictable in social situations. So, it was thanks but no thanks to the People's Temple.

ANOTHER SOCIAL WORKER type enthralled by Jones told us the Rev's sermons were “amazing. He can go on for four or five hours.” I'd known people in the Haight-Ashbury who could do the same thing. They were called speed freaks, methamphetamine junkies.

BACK THEN, we'd read about Jones's never ending good works in the letters columns of the local papers. The praise for the depraved pastor sounded as if they'd all come out of a letter-writing party which, as it turned out, they had. But other than the almost constant hallelujahs for his good works we saw in the Ukiah paper, Jones and his People's Temple were invisible to us. Until one day…

ONE DAY, a delegation of People's Temple people showed up at Rancho Funso after calling to ask if they could come over with some of their delinquents for an afternoon of sports with our delinquents. Sure, we said, and here they came led by an attractive young woman named Maria Katsaris. The People's Temple delinquents were a lot tamer than ours; we didn't know, of course, that Jones' sanctions were much fiercer than ours. He just had his thugs beat the crap out of the kids who got out of line.

WE THOUGHT that Ms. Katsaris and the other adults with her were “standoff-ish.” During their visit they remained in a kind of group huddle while our boys attempted to assault their crew at every opportunity.

AND A GOOD time was had by no one except the delinquents. That was the last we heard from the People's Temple,

Amos & Jones
Amos & Jones

BUT ONE OF THEM we saw and heard lots from. Her name was Linda Amos. She was, in the aftermath of the jungle slaughter, sometimes identified as Sharon Amos. We knew her as both Linda and Sharon. In the wild aftermath of Jonestown, the Mendocino County Social Services boss, a Uriah Heep-ish fellow called Dennis Denny, was asked why his office had diverted so much welfare dough to Temple members; Jones signed up his imported flock for every freebie available as soon as they landed in Mendocino County. In many cases the instant sign-ups amounted to instant fraud, and it was carried out by several Temple people who had jobs with Social Services. Denny, as nearly a thousand bodies lay rotting in Jonestown, a good number of them from Mendocino County, said he'd always closely monitored the Temple through Ms. Amos, and that Ms. Amos had functioned as a kind of People's Temple liaison for him from her position in both Mendocino County Social Services and the Temple. The true reason Denny was hands off the Temple is because Jones had quickly become politically powerful in the County, and he had Tim Stoen, his legal advisor, sitting in the pivotal local position of County Counsel. (Today, Stoen, whom we've always viewed as a tragic figure, is a prosecutor assigned to Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg.) Denny wasn't the only local official who would dive under his desk after Jonestown. Many of the children murdered at Jonestown had been signed over to Jones by the Mendocino County Superior Court.

MS. AMOS is a story for another day, but I'm here to say that anyone who couldn't pin her immediately as a major nutcase simply wasn't paying attention.

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ART

The question about a work of art

Is from how deep a life it springs?

In there’s the answer that sets apart

The moment arrested on timeless wings

Forever surprising those left behind

Engaging to fathom the artist’s mind.

The supreme question about a work of art

is out of how deep a life

does it spring? From Joyce’s Ulysses.

Great art is an instant arrested in eternity. — James Huneker.

— John Wester

Minkler1SNAKE OIL EXHIBITION Opening Sat. Jan 5 - April 1, reception Sunday Jan 6, 4-6 pm at the Albany Community Center Foyer Art Gallery, 1249 Marin Avenue, Albany, CA (510) 524-9283

. Snake Oil is my artistic response to specific Corporate-Congressional lies as well as a celebration of community activism. Bring a child and get a free inoculation against the privatization of everything. Resist. Protest. Fight. I hope to see you there,
 Doug Minkler

DELTA FISH POPULATIONS Reach Record Low Levels

by Dan Bacher

Bacher1The abundance of Delta fish species documented in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fall midwinter trawl survey in 2012 plummeted again, after a temporary increase among Delta smelt and other species in 2011.

This record low abundance was predicted by Thomas Cannon, a well-respected fishery biologist who testified on behalf of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance at State Water Resources Control Board meetings in October and November, 2012.

The most alarming of all of the declines was for threadfin shad, a once abundant forage fish used for striped bass bait on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The threadfin shad reached a record low abundance level, an index of 41. The index is a relative measure of abundance by the California Department of Wildlife (CDFW), formerly the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG).

By contrast, the threadfin shad index reached its highest level recorded, 15267, in 1997 and was 14401 in 2001. Last year the index was 228.

The American shad abundance was the second lowest ever recorded, 415, only exceeded by the record low of 346 in 1976, the first year of a record drought. By contrast, the record abundance was 9360 in 1972.

The Delta smelt, an indicator species found only in the Bay-Delta Estuary that is listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act, reached the seventh lowest abundance on record. The index this year was 42, beginning its backward slide after temporarily increasing to an index of 342 last year.

Longfin smelt, a cousin of the Delta smelt, plummeted to its second lowest recorded abundance, an index of 61. This was only exceeded in 2007, when the index reached a record low of 13.

Striped bass, a popular sport fish that corporate agribusiness has blamed for salmon and Delta smelt declines to divert attention from the impact of Delta water exports on fish species, dropped to the seventh lowest index on record, 125. The abundance for striped bass was 19677 in 1967 when the species was at its historic high.

The Sacramento splittail, a fish formerly on the Endangered Species List that was delisted by the Bush administration, also had an alarming low index of 1, the second lowest on record. An abundance of 1 was also recorded in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2009. The record low abundance of 0, when no splittail were recorded, was observed in 1977, 2008 and 2010.

The complete survey is available at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/fmwt/indices.asp

The decline was predicted: The Delta VISE 

Thomas Cannon, fishery biologist, predicted the low abundance of Delta fish species during his power point presentation before the State Water Resources Control Board.

“I told the State Water Resources Control Board that the numbers in the 2012 fall survey would be really bad because of the Vise on the Delta, caused by increasing exports, increasing inflows and declining outflows,” said Thomas Cannon, fishery biologist. (http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/docs/wrkshp2/tomcannon.pdf)

Conditions similar to this spurred the Pelagic Organism Decline (POD) of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass and other species that state and federal scientists documented first in 2005.

The scientists pinpointed three major factors for the unprecedented decline (1) water export increases and changes; (2) toxic chemicals/ and (3) invasive species. They later added ammonia discharges as a factor in the collapse.

Cannnon said the “vise” of increasing exports, increasing inflows from upstream reservoirs and declining outflows results in less residency time of water in the Delta.

The habitat that all of the pelagic fish studied thrive in is “green water” – water that has had a chance to stay in the Delta long enough for it acquire a greenish hue because of the abundance of phyto plankton, according to Cannon. This plankton serves as the basis for the food chain that Delta smelt, threadfin shad and the other fish species thrive in.

“If water exports take all of the Delta water and the water is replaced with water from upstream reservoirs, the water doesn’t have a chance to ‘stew’ with plankton,” said Cannon. “The warm water coming downstream during the summer is lethal to the smelt. The cooler Delta water that smelt need water replaced with warm reservoir water, making conditions doubly bad for smelt.”

To avoid these fish population crashes from happening in the future, Cannon recommended that the Water Board develop specific standards for inflows, outflows and exports on the Delta, according to year type.

Mike Taugher, CDFW Communications Director, responded to the release of the fall survey numbers.

“The fall midwater trawl numbers are consistent with the depressed numbers we have seen for the last decade,” said Taugher. “Last year's rebound was nice but almost certainly due to wet conditions in 2011.”

CSPA slams regulators for violating the law 

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, blasted state and federal agencies for allowing the Delta fish population crash to continue.

“Here we are seeing another disaster in the species studied in the fall midwater trawl surveys – and this was all predicted,” said Jennings. “Species are lurking on the edge of extinction and just about everybody in the regulating agencies is to blame.”

However, Jennings singled out the State Water Resources Control Board for its role in failing to stop the collapse.

“They have violated the Porter Cologne Act for 44 years and the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act for 40 years,” concluded Jennings. “These species declines are caused by a failure of the regulators to enforce and comply with the law.”

Record exports in 2011 led to record fish kill

While there was an upswing in Delta smelt and other species in the 2011 fall midwater trawl survey, it is important to understand that the Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies presided over record water exports to corporate agribusiness and Southern California in 2011, 6,520,000 acre-feet – 217,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre-feet set in 2005.

These massive water exports resulted in the "salvage" of a record 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million other fish including Central Valley salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/07/carnage-in-the-pumps)

An analysis by the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) has found that since year 2000 over one hundred million fish (102,856,027) have been sucked into the Delta pumps. This figure includes twenty six million valuable game fish, many of which are endangered. The massive loss of fish in these years is no surprise, since freshwater pumping from the Bay-Delta between 2000 and 2006 increased 20 percent in comparison to 1975-2000.

Salmon still on the brink 

This massive carnage in the Delta pumps takes place every year in spite of the fact that the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush in the fall of 1992, set a goal of doubling the Bay-Delta watershed’s Chinook salmon runs from 495,000 to 990,000 wild adult fish by 2002. The legislation also mandated the doubling of other anadromous fish species, including Central Valley steelhead, white sturgeon, green sturgeon, striped bass and American shad, by 2002.

Rather than doubling, the Central Valley Chinook salmon fishery has suffered a dramatic collapse over the past decade, now standing at only 13 percent of the population goal required by federal law.

A NRDC and GGSA analysis, published in the Salmon Doubling Index in November 2012, reveals a steady decline in Bay-Delta Chinook salmon from 2003 through 2010, including a record low of 7 percent reached in 2009. The closest we ever got to meeting the salmon doubling goal was in 2002, when the index peaked at 64.33% of the doubling goal.

(http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/23/salmon-on-the-brink)

Tom Cannon’s Conclusions: 

1. Outflow criteria are too low in non-wet years and summer of wet years to protect Delta fishes, their food supply, and their low salinity zone habitat.

2. Export criteria expressed as Export to Inflow ratios do not protect Delta fishes, their food supply, and their low salinity zone habitat from being exported from the Delta.

3. Direct effects of low outflow and high exports also translate downstream into the Bay in the form of lower Bay inflow, less nutrients, fewer organisms, and reduced low salinity zone productivity.

4. Specific export and outflow criteria are needed to protect beneficial uses in the Bay and Delta.

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/docs/wrkshp2/tomcannon.pdf

 

WILL CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT of Fish and Wildlife live up to its name?

To properly fulfill the Department's mission and to live up to the new name, Director Chuck Bonham and other California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials must take a more aggressive stance in protecting fish populations and the environment in California and be willing to confront other agency officials, the Governor and the President over policies that have led to the fishery collapses and environmental degradation. 

Bacher2The new logo of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Isn't it ironic that a California Grizzly Bear, an extinct species, is on the logo?)

by Dan Bacher

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) became the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on January 1, 2013, but many Californians are wondering whether the controversial agency that presided over precipitous declines of chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other species will live up to its title and mission any better than it did under its previous name.

The new name was mandated by AB 2402, signed Sept. 25 by Governor Jerry Brown. The name change is one of numerous provisions passed into law during 2012 that affect the department, according to a news release from the CDFW.

“The name of the department was changed to better reflect our evolving responsibilities,” claimed Department Director Charlton H. Bonham. “As our role has grown to meet 21st century expectations, we remain committed to our traditional responsibilities and to honoring our deep roots in California’s natural resources legacy.”

Bonham noted that the department’s law enforcement staff, traditionally known as game wardens, will now be called "wildlife officers."

Californians will notice new Internet (http://www.wildlife.ca.gov) and email addresses for CDFW employees. The old URL and email addresses will continue to work indefinitely.

"Many department materials will continue to bear the old name because AB 2402 reduced the cost associated with the name change by preventing CDFW from undergoing a wholesale turnover of materials, including signs, uniforms and supplies," according to the release.

The mission of the department continues to be “to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.”

In spite of this admirable mission, the Department has collaborated with the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Water Resources and other state and federal agencies in promoting policies over the past several decades that have resulted in the collapse of Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species.

The Department and other agencies presided over record water exports to corporate agribusiness and Southern California in 2011 - 6,520,000 acre-feet – 217,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre-feet set in 2005. These massive water exports resulted in the "salvage" of a record 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million other fish including Central Valley salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/07/carnage-in-the-pumps)

An analysis by the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) has found that since year 2000 over one hundred million fish (102,856,027) have been sucked into the delta pumps. This figure includes twenty six million valuable game fish, many of which are endangered. The massive loss of fish in these years is no surprise, since freshwater pumping from the Bay-Delta between 2000 and 2006 increased 20 percent in comparison to 1975-2000.

This massive carnage in the Delta pumps takes place every year in spite of the fact that the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush in the fall of 1992, set a goal of doubling the Bay-Delta watershed’s Chinook salmon runs from 495,000 to 990,000 wild adult fish by 2002. The legislation also mandated the doubling of other anadromous fish species, including Central Valley steelhead, white sturgeon, green sturgeon, striped bass and American shad, by 2002.

Rather than doubling, the Central Valley Chinook salmon fishery has suffered a dramatic collapse over the past decade, now standing at only 13 percent of the population goal required by federal law. A NRDC and GGSA analysis, published in the Salmon Doubling Index in November 2012, reveals a steady decline in Bay-Delta Chinook salmon from 2003 through 2010, including a record low of 7 percent reached in 2009. The closest we ever got to meeting the salmon doubling goal was in 2002, when the index peaked at 64.33% of the doubling goal.

(http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/23/salmon-on-the-brink)

While allowing this carnage to take place is bad enough, the Department leadership has collaborated enthusiastically with Governor Jerry Brown's fast-tracking of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, a project that will only aggravate the destructive impact of water exports upon imperiled fish populations. This plan will likely hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species, according to agency and independent scientists alike. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/03/27/bdcp-study-independent-analysis-show-canal-could-hasten-species-extinction/)

The Department leadership has also shamefully collaborated in the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative started by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2004. The Department and the Resources Agency have issued press release after press release failing to mention the conflicts of interest, failure to comprehensively protect the ocean, shadowy private funding and incomplete and terminally flawed science that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most sickening examples of corporate greenwashing in California history.

In a huge conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created alleged “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and other human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, the expansion of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the evisceration of environmental laws, also served with a marina corporation executive, coastal real estate developer and other corporate operatives on the task forces tasked with the development of marine protected areas on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/13459-former-mlpa-chair-says-hydrofracking-is-safe-for-california)

The MLPA Initiative is also based on highly questionable science, in spite of claims by MLPA Initiative advocates that the process creates "Yosemites of the Sea" and "underwater parks" based on "science." The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, has documented how the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed." (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/08/yurok-tribe-challenges-mlpa-initiatives-terminally-flawed-science)

Other environmental policies that the Department presided over include the annual stranding of endangered coho salmon due to over-pumping of irrigation water on two major Klamath River tributaries, the Scott and Shasta rivers; the massive clear cutting of forests in the Sierra Nevada; and horrendous fish kills like the one that took place at Prospect Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in November 2007, when tens of thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail and other species perished.

These are just some of the many examples of how the Department has failed “to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.”

To properly fulfill the Department's mission and to live up to the new name, Director Chuck Bonham and other California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials must take a more aggressive stance in protecting fish populations and the environment in California and be willing to confront other agency officials, the Governor and the President over policies that have led to the fishery collapses and environmental degradation.

The Department also needs to engage and work with recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Indian Tribes, family farmers, environmentalists and others in finding genuine solutions to California's fish and water problems rather than constantly backing rigged, corrupt processes such as the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral canal or tunnel.

Otherwise, the Department will collaborate in pushing Central Valley salmon and other fish species over the abyss of extinction - and should be forced to adopt a more fitting name such as the "California Department of No Fish and No Wildlife" or the "California Department of Species Extinction."

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