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MOTHER NATURE HAS TURNED UP THE HEAT this Labor Day as record-breaking temperatures continue across a large region extending from California to the northern/central High Plains. An exceptionally anomalous ridge has set up over the central Great Basin and is forecast strengthen even more by midweek, resulting in well above average temperatures throughout the region. Widespread high temperatures are expected to reach into the upper-90s and triple digits, with 110s probable throughout the Southwest and central valleys of California. Little relief is in sight through at least Wednesday as both daytime highs and overnight lows remain uncomfortably hot. To put this late-summer heat in perspective, over 100 daily high temperature records could be set between today and Wednesday, with around 40 of those records potentially threatening September monthly extremes. Death Valley, California (the hottest location within the United States), is forecast to reach 125 degrees on Tuesday. Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories have been issued for much of California and Nevada, as well as parts of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Residents should continue to follow proper heat safety and check in on family members and neighbors who may be more vulnerable to heat related illnesses.
A WARMING TREND will continue with temperatures expected to peak on Tuesday across the interior with temperatures of 105 to 115. Much cooler temperatures and late night and morning low clouds and fog will still be found along the coast. Some of the fog may be dense at the coast each night, but skies will clear by mid-morning at most locations. There is a slight chance for thunderstorms on Wednesday in northern Trinity county. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 104°, Yorkville 102°, Covelo 100°, Boonville 99°, Mendocino 83°, Fort Bragg 72°
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN ON COOLING STATIONS: “If the conditions warrant the cooling stations will be opened. The Public Health Emergency Operations is monitoring the weather conditions. Because our temps cool in the evening the conditions haven’t warranted it yet, but when they do there will be an announcement which I am sure you will receive.”
FORT BRAGG BUSINESS OWNER WARNS OF COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY Circulating In The Community
Grace Cochran, the manager of Fort Bragg’s Paul Bunyan Thrift Store, wants the community to know that over the last two days there have been two separate occasions of customers using counterfeit bills at her business.…
MARSHALL NEWMAN: From ebay, another early Anderson Valley postcard. Happy Labor Day!
FOR SALE: 2013 WALTON TRAILER. 24' dually gooseneck , steel loading ramps, deck stakebed, electric brakes, new rubber & spare, 14,000 lbs load capacity. Call for photos 707-895-2100, $4500.00
by Mark Scaramella
HERE IS A REVENUE CHART we found in the County’s Budget Book for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year (which ended June 30, 2022). Correct us if we’re wrong, but it looks like Mendo estimated about $76 million in revenue, but then “adopted” $85 million. No reason is given, nor do we fully understand what they mean by “adopted.” The point is, as the County employees union points out, Mendo underestimates its revenues when preparing the budget, then revises those estimates as the year unfolds, typically upward to reflect what comes in. And this does not include all the extra federal revenue that has come in and some of which has gone out.
NOTE, however, that the “adopted” cannabis taxes are $6.5 million, about $2.5 million over what was “estimated.” Mendo now says pot taxes are way off and will only be about $3.5 million.
THE ONLY CONCLUSION WE CAN DRAW, tentatively, is that Mendo is bad at estimating revenues, among several other things. So besides the well-known lack of ordinary budget reporting, we now have to add that the Supervisors and their staff need to do a better job of estimating (and collecting) revenues. A cynic might say that they intentionally underestimate revenues so that they can squeeze the budgets submitted by the departments. And then at the end of the year when they add it all up, they can brag about having been on or under or on budget. That sounds very much like something former CEO Angelo would do, and it’s likely that it continues.
* * *
MENDO’S TOURISM PROMOTION PEOPLE get about $600k per year out of the “bed tax” (transient occupancy tax) which constitutes about half of their $1.2 million marketing and promotion budget. Every year they pay a consultant to tell themselves and the Supervisors how effectively they spend their subsidy, a marketing subsidy no other local industry receives. Last spring Supervisor Dan Gjerde rationally argued that Mendo should only match the portion of the bed tax revenues that come from unincorporated areas, meaning less than half of the $600k. But Supervisor Williams claimed doing so would jeopardize tourism employment, as if a few less facebooks posts and Chronicle and tv ads wine and dine freebies for restaurant reviewers would translate into job loss.
THE TOURISM PEOPLE and their well-paid self-assesser Runyan and Associates always talk in glowing terms and throw numbers around loosely to make it seem like their marketing is well worth the $1.2 mil they waste on it.
FOR EXAMPLE, in their recent report they claim that “Mendocino County generated an estimated $433 million in tourism-related revenue in calendar 2021, with lodging accounting for the lion’s share at $148 million. … With the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, tourism-related state and local tax revenue hit $46 million.” “Tourism is a driving force in Mendocino County,” noted Visit Mendocino’s Travis Scott, with an additional $208 million generated in tourism-related employment.
THOSE ARE IMPRESSIVE (BUT IRRELEVANT) NUMBERS, Notice that they cleverly say “…state and local tax revenue,” not local revenue. And the other numbers would be undigestibly big no matter what they were. Casual readers of Visit Mendocino’s propaganda are supposed to think that the $600,000 subsidy they get has something to do with those big numbers, when there’s no correlation at all. In fact, over the years the bed tax revenues have simply gone up and down with the local economy no matter what Visit Mendocino does.
IF VISIT MENDOCINO wanted to prove that the County subsidy really produces jobs and tax revenues they would have agreed with Gjerde and let the County save $300k to see if that reduction affected tourism. But of course, that kind of fiscal prudence would never occur to the people getting unaccountable free money from the Supervisors.
ANDERSON VALLEY FOLKLORE has it that harvest is two weeks after the Naked Ladies arrive. The ladies showed up a couple weeks ago announcing the start of the 2022 harvest.
Wishing everyone a bountiful and successful harvest!
Join us for the Harvest Boucherie Celebration Oct. 21st: avwines.com/harvest-tidrick-celebration/
THAT WAS COOL: GETTING TO YELL, ‘STOP THE PRESSES!’
by Justine Frederiksen
At my first newspaper job after college I was on the night news desk, where your shift didn’t end until you checked the first copies of the next day’s paper as they came off the printing press.
That was cool.
Of course, when I wanted to go home it wasn’t quite so cool to wait that extra half hour, often past midnight, for the huge printing press to finally start churning out a few newspapers so us last editorial folks in the building could make sure there weren’t any major errors to fix before thousands of papers were made.
But now I know how special it was to watch the press transform all the blood, sweat and tears of everyone in the building into a neat package I could hold in my hands. Those were moments of pride and wonder unlike any others.
For those moments, though, I had to brave another realm, one carefully separated from the newsroom by a claustrophobic hallway and a very heavy door that I was only supposed to open when the press wasn’t running. Even with the press quiet I found that room overwhelming: The size, the smells, the lights, and especially the faces of all the near-strangers anxious for me to leave without finding a reason for them to strip the press and start their work over.
But the worst thing I could do was barge in when the behemoth was at full blast, like I did the time I got to order, “Stop the presses!”
It was a Saturday afternoon and the first two sections of the Sunday paper were already being printed when I happened to check one of the pages my co-worker prepared and saw a mistake that had to be corrected. A crucial “r” was missing in the main feature’s headline, so it yelled: “beast cancer.”
I ran to the press room and flung open the heavy door. Most of the workers inside didn’t notice, as they all had thick ear protectors on and were busy getting the first run done so they could prepare for the next, but the supervisor looked at me when the door opened.
Knowing he couldn’t hear a darn thing even if I shouted at the top of my lungs, I just dragged my index finger across my throat, and he signaled to stop the press. As the machine ground to a halt I showed him the error to prove my demand was necessary, then hurried back to the newsroom, where my co-worker had already fixed the typo and started the many-step process of creating all new negatives and plates so the press could start again.
I will never forget the sights and sounds of that day, just as I will never forget what it was like to hold a freshly printed newspaper and smell the ink staining my fingers.
If there is a temple of journalism, it is the press room: A huge space that demands humility, inspiring prayers and pleas of forgiveness from those who enter. Even the notoriously robust ego of a journalist is easily shrunk when that massive machine shows just how small a part one person plays in putting out a newspaper.
And seeing all the time, energy and money it takes to create that roll of information, which will soon be dropped in thousands of driveways, it’s hard not to pray — Pray that you don’t find any mistakes to stop the press, but also that you do find the really bad ones.
Of course we humans can’t catch all our mistakes, so we also ask for plenty of forgiveness in the press room, both for the minor typos and the major missteps. And while the finality of the press run can be terrifying, few end-of-shift rituals are as tangible and triumphant.
A few years later, that newspaper (The Vallejo Times-Herald) shut down its printing press to cut costs, and I haven’t gotten to watch another press run since, as every other newspaper I’ve worked at no longer had a press in the building to create their papers on site.
Seeing a press run is something I’ve sorely missed, not just because of how cool it is to watch one, but because that machine felt like the beating heart of the newspaper. When every day you’ve spent in an industry you’re told it’s dying, it’s very comforting to have that heart close by, where you can check on it any time you want. If it’s far away all you can do is hope it’s still alive, ready to keep bringing the words you love to life.
DAVE KAHAN: Many if not most of our recent large disasters have been wildfires that transitioned into urban fires, going house to house carried by the embers. The Wine Country fires in 2017 were my epiphany for this. It took a week of roaming nuked out subdivisions near Calistoga for me to realize why the foliage was merely scorched rather than consumed. The heat of the buildings burning scorched the vegetation. Previously, I had told clients and friends for years that hardening their homes to resist ignition from embers was fully 50% of the equation for fire safety and resiliency. At that point I realized that in those extreme conditions, it was more like 99%. Check out figures 6 & 7, and 9a & 9b: https://legacy-assets.eenews.net/open_files/assets/2019/01/08/document_gw_02.pdf
Of course, it’s still necessary to create and maintain adequate defensible space to preclude the opportunity for a wall of flame to arrive at the front door, and to give structure protection personnel a chance for success. Also, if they don’t think they can stay safe, they won’t deploy their people in that spot.
GOT HOT Sunday, 95 in the shade here at ava headquarters, the first act of a week of hundred degree-plus days, so hot firefighters, including a truck from Anderson Valley, are pre-positioned in Ukiah from where they can immediately roll to wherever the flames break out. And Sunday already feels like things could spontaneously combust.
“THE HEAT made people crazy. They woke from their damp bedsheets and went in search of a glass of water, surprised to find that when their vision cleared, they were holding instead the gun they kept hidden in the bookcase.” (Kristin Hannah, Summer Island)
HOT as we might get, the severe disorientation Ms. Hannah describes sounds more like those areas where it doesn't cool off at night, areas far to the east of us. Here in Boonville, a hundred degree afternoon has dropped fifty degrees by sunrise the next morning. Walk slow and drink a lot of water, my friends.
A READER WRITES: “Do you folks have a succession plan? How will we keep the AVA forever? Are there any new kids out there? Question: If ‘someone’ left a bundle to the AVA in a will how would those $$$$$$$ be allocated?”
SEND $$$$$$$ ON, and we'll talk allocation. I remember when the hippies were brandishing the slogan, “Don't trust anyone over thirty.” I don't trust anyone under the age of 70, and I'm plenty skeptical of most of them. This project being a lot of work for no money beyond the delight in being reviled by all the right people, I doubt any young 'un is interested in carrying it on, but if there is such a person out there who might be lured into life as a social pariah, please step forward.
WHERE'S McCOWEN? Former supervisor, John McCowen, that is. We're accustomed to hearing regularly from the garrulous Mendo solon because arguing with him has always been great fun. We know he spends many hot and hazardous hours cleaning up homeless camps along Ukiah's stretch of the dying, de-watered Russian River and its battered tributaries, for which selflessness he's regularly threatened by the lost souls he cleans up after, but he hasn't been reported missing, and we'll assume he lives on.
JESSE B WRITES: “Mon Tues Wed...I hope you can reach out soon, far and wide, with your very talented, experienced, well seasoned tentacles, to all who know and respect you. That can potentially save lives in some of the aforementioned ways, on the streets of Ukiah and Cloverdale in the upcoming days. Especially Ukiah. So many street dogs accompanying the homeless. Perhaps ‘doggy day care’ centers can take these dogs in for the day with their ‘parents.’ And maybe free Jack In The Box milkshakes at the walk up window.”
WE'LL TAKE the compliment, Jesse B, and thank you. I've written to Supervisor Mulheren to ask her if Ukiah does cooling centers. I'll report back when I hear from her. I've looked on-line and I don't see any kind of official succor from Ukiah offered to the homeless and their dogs or, for that matter, succor to the housed who don't have AC. And even with AC given flex hours there are lots of people who will need a place to cool off.
FLEX HOURS. I asked my colleague, The Major, if he thought Americans generally abide by flex requests. I thought most people wouldn't, don't. “Most Americans aren't as irresponsible as you are,” came his impertinent reply.”Yes, I think most people cooperate.”
SO WOULD I, if necessary, but we're fortunate to have solar, freeing us from that particular obligation. Besides which, why doesn't the grid provide enough power to make flex alerts unnecessary? Probably because PG&E's first obligation is to its stockholders and overpaid executives, which is one reason, and, second, a state and federal government that seems perpetually surprised by the consequences of global warming.
THE AV PANTHER FOOTBALL TEAM traveled to Covelo Friday for the first game of the season for both teams. Coach John Toohey reports: “We played with them through the first half, but our QB (and best defensive player) Diego Perez broke his collarbone and a number of other players got banged up. Covelo ran away with it in the second half. It was a learning experience about how demanding football really is for a lot of our new players. Covelo is really strong this year. Most of their points came after Diego left the game, but everyone got a good amount of playing time and it was effectively a first scrimmage for us. Losing Diego really hurts, literally and figuratively, so there is a lot of work to do moving forward, and that’s what this group of kids really needs to learn. There will be some major growing pains.”
OLD TIMERS will remember when Covelo was a small school powerhouse in all sports. Then, drugs and bad attitudes kicked in, and Covelo's sports prowess disappeared. Maybe things are starting to turn around, maybe the young draw the obvious lesson from the human wreckage young see everywhere around them and say, “Not for me.”
COUNTY WORKERS CONTINUE TO NOT FLEE
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
The notion county employees are underpaid is a joke, and that government workers are “public servants” is a lie.
Are county workers threatening to strike? County Supervisors ought to smile, hold the doorways wide open, and cheerfully bid all to have a nice day.
Raise your hand if you give half a twiddle that a herd of “public servants” won’t be showing up for work Monday morning. Oh no, you say, lights have gone dim at County Counsel. And look! The elections office is empty, with November just a few months away. No one’s riding a desk at Building Services, and the grass at Low Gap Park might not get mowed this week.
Imagine, if you can, zero staffing at Human Services for six days in a row. Or six months. There’d be no one in those many cubicles to shuffle papers, plan their vacation, count paper clips, shop on Amazon, request office supplies, steal office supplies, plan their retirement, attend meetings and collect paychecks. Whatever shall we do?
It’s the same in dozens of other county offices filled with drowsy workers in a hot sweat to provide top-notch service to the public. As if. What they actually do is drain resources, provide indifferent service and take long lunches between mandatory breaks.
Again, raise your hand if a county-wide strike would cause you to suffer a single minute.
Compare that scenario to truckers going on strike. In 30 minutes Safeway and Raley’s would be down to a few PopTarts on a shelf and some People Magazines at the checkout counters.
Get this: Those bringing meat, potatoes, Cheerios, bread and beer to grocery stores are actually serving the public, and quite well, thank you very much. Some other neighbors who work for your benefit in ways no county administrative assistant ever will:
1) Ranchers, farmers, grape growers and field workers.
2) Nurses, doctors and all their medical staff.
3) Car mechanics, bank tellers, cops, grocery store workers, restaurant owners and their cooks and waiters.
4) Newspaper reporters, gas station employees, fast food workers, everyone at Ukiah’s Walmart, Kohl’s, Rod’s Shoes, Mendocino Book Company, Trouette Plumbing, Home Depot, Factory Pipe, JC Penney, Costco, Steve’s Service Center, Big Daddy supplies, Thurston Auto, Triple S Camera, Rainbow Ag and all 85 Mexican restaurants.
Private sector workers pay the taxes that pay the salaries for city, county, state and federal employees, along with their sick time, vacation time and very lush lifelong pensions. Few truckers, mechanics, reporters or farmers receive anything close to such compensation.
Why is that? Why should a Mendo Mill employee or a Ford dealership mechanic be obligated to support lavish lifetime salaries and huge pensions for government workers? Your kid is supposed to work two jobs so some 63-year old parasitic clown in Adult Protective Services can buy a second home in Hawaii??
I spent 24 years with the county and never heard co-workers complain much about the pay, and the thought someone might leave the county for a few bucks more an hour is ridiculous.
Does anyone think a social service drone is going to sell her home in Redwood Valley, find a worse house at twice the price in Marin County, put her kids in brand new schools with mean new friends, all because she’ll get a 10% raise? Or 20%?
And if she left, so what? The world is crawling in semi-educated swarms of office-fillers; the competition is not fierce when one disappears and needs be replaced. Far from it.
Plus, there’s no evidence other California counties are hungry to lure away Mendocino County’s highly skilled file clerks, intake workers, gardeners, compliance officers or anyone from Human Services.
And if you exit Ukiah, whaddya get?
1) Traffic jams.
2) Higher cost of living unless you move to Idaho, and Idaho won’t hire Californians because a million more would invade.
3) A new boss guaranteed to be smarter than the old Mendo County boss and who could, conceivably, demand competence. Big risk.
Supervisors must constantly be reminded they work for the citizens and taxpayers of Mendocino County, not the bureaucrats and office squatters uttering empty threats to go on strike or quit altogether, after 31 years on the job in order to take advantage of better opportunities in the private sector.
(And on cue, everyone laughs and laughs until they cry.)
DAVE CHARLES SMITH
Dave Charles Smith, 80, of Ukiah California, passed away peacefully at his residence, August 18th, 2022.
Born July 19, 1942 in Sacramento.
Military service: National Guard - Fort Ord and Fort Polk, LA, Infantry, Company P, First Battalion
First Marriage to Kristen Larson and birth of son Joshua Smith, Second Marriage to Beverly Todd (divorced), stepson Aaron Burns
Predeceased by his Mother Lena Odermatt 2018 at age 102; Father Orville Charles Smith 2004 age 90; Sister Sylvia Joy Smith 2006 age 62.
Survived by son Joshua (Erin) Smith, granddaughter Tenzin Adeline Smith. Residing Bozeman Montana. Sisters Charlene Granse, Palo Alto. Rebecca Fuentes, Redwood City. Brother Daniel Smith, Redwood City. Dave is also survived by 4 nieces Carrie, Kim, Danielle, Jessica; 6 nephews John, Nick, Zoey, Pablo Jr., Micael, and Joey.
Dave Smith was raised in the South as part of a fervent Pentecostal family. He became the president of his local college's young Christian Club before serving as an infantry man and trumpet player in the National Guard. Dave's upbringing lead to a life-long quest of free-thinking and he became a voracious consumer of literature. He surrounded himself with thought-challenging figures and creative thinkers. Dave's greatest inspirational thought leaders were Mahatma Ghandi, Leo Tolstoy, and Cesar Chavez.
Dave often spoke of a defining moment in his life, in the early 1970s, when he sold his Porsche and went to work as an executive assistant and database programmer for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union, for room, board, and five dollars a week. Inspired by that experience, Dave would become a key figure in the organic farmworkers movement. This was blended with his great passion for “sustainable business,” which he defined as “providing work that enriches our own lives and the lives of all others the world over.” He believed that business driven by the common values of responsibility, compassion, and service to humanity can help make the world a better place. He served on the board of Ecology Action, co-founded Briarpatch Natural Foods in Menlo Park, then co-founded Smith & Hawken in Palo Alto and ultimately brought his ideals as CEO and other leadership roles with organizations such as SelfCare Catalog, Seeds of Change, Real Goods, and Diamond Organics.
In Dave's book “To Be of Use: The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work,” he shares the stories of Creative Action Heroes whose lives inspired him and proved that the values of sustainable living can be more fully realized for all of us.
In Mendocino County, where he made his home starting in Yorkville in 1994 and then Ukiah in 2001, he gained many friends and associates through his service on the boards of directors for Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op and as co-founder of the Mendocino Organic Network.
Dave remained socially and actively involved in downtown Ukiah through his bookstore and postal Annex, Mulligan Books, where many of Dave's friends knew that they could always find a welcoming smile, an organic cup of tea, conversation, and a good book.
An intimate celebration of life will be held under a redwood tree for Dave on Friday, September 9th, 2022 at 5:30pm at Todd Grove Park in Ukiah. The gathering will be held in the park near the entrance nearest the intersection of Grove Ave and Live Oak Ave.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Ecology Action via http://www.growbiointensive.org/giving/index.html
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 4, 2022
KYL AYERS, Willits. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL BARNES, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
MICHELLE BAUER, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic battery.
SHANKARA CASEY, Redwood Valley. Under influence, probation revocation.
FALLON CHAMBERLAIN, Hydesville/Ukiah. Narcotics for sale, paraphernalia, false compartment, conspiracy.
JOSE GONZALEZ-RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury, no license.
ALYSIA GRIFFIN, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
DEREK HOLT, Hemet/Ukiah. Pot possession/sale.
GIANNA RODRIGUES, Willits. Under influence.
ISRAEL RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. DUI, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
LEONEL RODRIGUEZ-GARCIA, Watsonville/Ukiah. Pot possession/sale.
ROSA RODRIGUEZ, Rio Dell/Ukiah. Narcotics sales, obstruction of justice, check forgery, failure to appear.
MCOE INVITES educators, administrators, and school staff to join an Educational Technology Community of Practice (CoP). Connect with, learn from, and share ideas with others interested in educational technology! The kick-off session is Tuesday, September 13th, 4-4:45PM.
THE GRANTS GAME: Poetry by Fran Ransley
THIS PHOTO was taken of miners at the end of their shift during the Gilded Age before they were unionized. Somewhere there were people at the top of the company who felt there was nothing wrong with this picture.
This Labor Day remember the blood, sweat, and tears that those before us paid to give the working class the basic rights we enjoy today .
CALIFORNIA POLICE OFFICERS HAVE KILLED NEARLY 1,000 PEOPLE IN 6 YEARS
by Raheem Hosseini & Joshua Sharpe
Officers in California have killed nearly 1,000 people in six years, according to a Chronicle review of state Department of Justice data that reveals a picture of where violent police encounters occur in the state, and to whom.
But the statistics do not yet offer conclusive results for recent legislative attempts to curtail police violence by toughening the rules of engagement for officers, requiring de-escalation training and bringing in outside investigators when unarmed civilians are killed.
In 2021, California’s law enforcement agencies recorded 628 use-of-force incidents, resulting in 233 people shot and 149 killed.
These figures represent declines from 2020, when 172 police killings matched a six-year high and came amid clashes between riot officers and racial justice marchers that prompted police brutality lawsuits and bills to limit the use of less-lethal artillery like rubber bullets and tear gas.
The fact that last year saw 233 people shot instead of 238 the year before wasn’t notable enough to some use-of-force authorities.
“What it tells me is, we’re still shooting a lot of civilians,” said Roger Clark, who spent 27 years at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he investigated use-of-force incidents and trained deputies on the department’s policy.
In 2021, for the sixth straight year, Los Angeles County had the largest number (172) and highest rate (27.4 incidents per 100,000 residents) of use-of-force incidents in the state.
When it comes to use-of-force rates calculated by population, Los Angeles County was followed distantly by San Bernardino (11.3 incidents per 100,000 residents), San Diego (7.2), Riverside (6.1) and Orange (5.7) counties. No Bay Area county was in the top five, though Alameda County made the top six.
The 10 agencies with the most use-of-force incidents last year were the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (60 incidents), Los Angeles Police Department (60), San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (39), California Highway Patrol (28), San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (27), San Bernardino Police Department (20), Bakersfield Police Department (18), Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (16), and Riverside and Sacramento police departments (15 each).
In the Bay Area, the agencies that reported the most violent encounters with civilians were the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (16), San Francisco Police Department (12), San Jose Police Department (11) and Antioch Police Department (seven), while the police departments of Oakland, Napa and Vacaville tied for fifth place with five incidents each.
In Alameda County, which had a rate of 5.1 use-of-force incidents per 100,000 residents, 11 of the 32 incidents occurred after calls for service, 10 while officers were responding to crimes in progress or investigating suspicious circumstances, and seven during in-custody events.
The latest statewide use-of-force report also showed that troubling disparities have yet to subside despite increased awareness and efforts to confront them.
Latino and Black Californians were again vastly overrepresented in use-of-force incidents last year. Latinos make up 40.2% of the state population and were on the receiving end of 50.6% of police force; Black people represent 6.5% of the population but 16.7% of police force incidents.
Meanwhile, white officers involved in violent encounters were slightly overrepresented and Latino and Black officers were slightly underrepresented.
Of the 1,462 officers involved in violent confrontations, not all of whom reported using force, 84% escaped injury.
In all, officers from California’s largest to smallest policing agencies killed 944 people from 2016 through 2021, The Chronicle’s analysis found. Within those years, 2020 tied with 2017 for the most people killed by police around the state with 172.
“I don’t know if we can draw major conclusions on the numbers,” state Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, who’s pushed use-of-force reforms, said of 2020’s spike in police killings.
If 2020 was marked by pandemic lockdowns and racial justice demonstrations, it was also the year when a landmark law was supposed to reduce the number of fatal police encounters in California.
The legislation, AB392 from then-Assembly Member Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and McCarty, tightened the definition of an imminent threat that an officer must claim to justify using deadly force. The bill, however, still allows an officer’s perception — and not the objective facts on the ground — to determine whether a threat existed to the officer or the public.
Last year, officers perceived the civilians they used force against to be armed 58% of the time; the civilians were confirmed to be armed in 52% of cases, amounting to a 6-percentage-point differential in perception versus reality. In previous years, the inaccuracy gap between an officer thinking a subject was armed and a subject being proved to be armed ranged between 12% in 2020 and 2018 to 15.5% in 2016.
Another piece of reform legislation intended to make a difference was AB1506 from McCarty. Spurred by the May 2020 Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent national uprising, the bill was intended to restore faith in the criminal legal system by empowering the California Department of Justice to investigate all police killings of unarmed civilians and a limited number of other deadly encounters.
Since the law took effect in July 2021, the state Justice Department that Attorney General Rob Bonta commands has opened 23 investigations into fatal police encounters around the state and closed none of them.
McCarty said the state will gain a better understanding of how his law is performing once these reviews start coming out. Whether the attorney general finds that officers acted appropriately or not, McCarty said, “we’ll just live by what the conclusions are.”
AB1506 was the Sacramento lawmaker’s third attempt to get such a bill passed through the Legislature, a feat that was aided by law enforcement’s treatment of protesters, videos of which spurred outrage on social media. But, noting the circumstances of Floyd’s death, choking under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, McCarty said he plans to introduce legislation that would expand the attorney general’s scope of authority to all officer killings and shootings, whether the subjects were armed or not.
“Of course, George Floyd was killed by an officer but he wasn’t killed by a firearm,” McCarty said. “The irony is that death would not be evaluated based upon my law.”
James Burch, policy director at the Anti Police-Terror Project, said he was hopeful that another piece of legislation would decrease police violence in California. SB2, by state Sens. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena (Los Angeles County), and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, passed last September and intends to root out problem officers after it takes effect in January. It creates a decertification process for officers after serious criminal convictions or termination because of misconduct.
“We have to imagine that will have some impact on the amount of officers who are doing the most dirt in the state of California,” Burch said.
Jason Williams, associate professor of justice studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey, said SB2 is the kind of legislation that can convince officers that they’ll be held accountable if they overstep.
“The psychological point of view, from the officer standpoint, is very, very important,” Williams said. “Because if I’m an officer on the beat, and I know that there’s no real accountability coming around, I have no incentive to change my behavior.”
Some things amaze me. An outgoing president, who has flaunted time-honored traditions like revealing his past taxes upon first taking office, snatched hundreds of classified materials on his way back home from the White House in January, 2021. According to protocol, the National Archives and, then, the Justice Department asked for the return of these documents, but was refused. A year-and-a-half later he left office, finally in early August, 2022, when officials in the Justice Department sought a warrant, searched and retrieved said crucially important documents from his residence, it appears there may be an indictment brought of this former president, hordes of his loyalists fall all over themselves to defend him.
After Senator Lindsay Graham, R, South Carolina threatens “there will be violence in the streets,” today Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, reports that “Trump was acting under his own rules,” when he took these records of vital significance to national security and defense.
Is this not the obvious extension of special privilege to a person of interest in a possible, even probable, federal crime? Violence won't result in anything but more death.
ONE PARTICULAR BILLIONAIRE
Bob Proctor asks “why no other similarly situated billionaires have been subjected to the same scrutiny” as Donald Trump. The answer is simple: there is no “similarly situated” billionaire.
No other billionaire has taken an oath to “protect, preserve, and defend the U.S. Constitution” and proceeded to refuse to acknowledge a duly elected successor and strive to disrupt the formal acceptance of the vote by Congress. No other recent president (billionaire or not) has refused to separate himself from financial decisions regarding his personal wealth upon election and refused to make his tax returns available to the American public. No other president (billionaire or not) has taken with him valuable and top-secret documents when he left office and then repeatedly refused to return them.
The list goes on. Trump is not a victim. The evidence is clearly showing that Trump, a former president of our country, may have seriously violated his oath of office and the Constitution.
Anne N. Thomas
Followers of my facebook page may be aware that I am not only not a fan of Scott Ritter, but that in a post shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, I described him as a “raving lunatic” for the enthusiasm with which he described how and how quickly and easily the Russian army was going to wipe out the Ukrainian opposition. What upset me most about watching and listening to him was that he illustrated what the Russians were going to do to the Ukrainians by gleefully waving his hands back and forth across the desk in front of him as if they were “mowing the lawn.”
In an article that appeared on the Consortium News site of a couple of days ago, Ritter, still unwilling to label it a war, (in Russia that gets one arrested!) fluffs up Russia's successes but spends more time denigrating a fellow journalist and military vet, William Arkin, than he does describing the Russia-Ukraine war. In the comments section to this article which you can find a link to below, I note that he attacks Arkin for lacking combat experience of which, as I expected, Ritter has had none of himself as is apparent from his response. Check it out!
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY
 Even if Starbucks did make a decent espresso, cappucino, latte, etc., I long ago did the math and realized that I could have a cafe-quality semi-auto. machine and grinder sitting in my kitchen for about the same price as it would cost to get some kid at Starbucks or one of the many shitty hipster cafes around us to pull us one 4-5 days a week. I have not regretted it, and it is rare that a coffee pulled in a cafe can compete with what we make at home. I recommend Quickmill and Mazzer. Do it!
 You can get a decent cup of coffee with a Melitta filter. Or, the golden mesh variety. Just put it on your coffee mug. I’ll never understand the trash-generating carry-out coffee mind-set. I see the malaise very clearly from my kitchen window every morning. In addition to the money spent for coffee, people drive into town just to get a take-out coffee. Vienna this is not!!!
‘AMERICA THIS WEEK’: BIDEN’S SPEECH
An excerpt of the discussion between Walter Kirn and Matt Taibbi about President Biden’s speech Thursday night:
Walter Kirn: The speech was like Alfred Hitchcock coming out before his show, or an MC coming out to welcome you to an evening of entertainment. They’re not very specific, but they say, here’s what’s coming. They’re vague. And now the curtain opens, and we see the show, as I say, this is why I have a hard time believing they’re serious about any impending real fighting or real conflicts with the real American, because they seem to be hobbling in their ability to gain popular support for such a critical moment, at the same time we seem to be nearing one.
Matt Taibbi: Even Alfred Hitchcock had the decency to at least make a macabre joke about what he was doing. He would always have his head in a guillotine, with the razor about the drop as he was delivering his deadpan introduction…
Walter Kirn: Let’s remember, there was fist shaking last night.
Matt Taibbi: Oh, yeah. There’s an iconic photo already.
Walter Kirn: Yes. And fist shaking is to be used – I think modestly in American political rhetoric – it’s almost always done with reference to an enemy abroad. You know, it, his fist shaking was Khruschev-like. That’s who we remember shaking his fists. He didn’t slam a shoe on a table. But it was really that part of it that caught my attention because I thought, maybe we’re going to be fighting a three front war: Russia, China, and Indiana. Somewhere domestically.
Matt Taibbi: Or Vietnam. We’ll be herding MAGAs into “strategic hamlets” and using flamethrowers against the huts.
Walter Kirn: Well, the MAGAs are already herding themselves in strategic hamlets. I can tell you, reporting from Montana. But I found it so strange: usually presidents in the middle of their reign should be counting their accomplishments and making their promises. Instead we had this Khruschev-like, and as I say, sort of Vincent Price-ish Tales From the Crypt style spooky address, without specifics. I’m thinking now what this pretends for the election, which we’ll be talking about as it happens. It’ll be rhetoric beyond belief. I mean, calling it a terrorist cell last night – I think it’s going to get civilizational. It’s going to get religious and cosmic. If this was the kickoff, usually things intensify after the kickoff.
Matt Taibbi: Where do you go from “clear and present danger”? There’s not a lot of room for escalating after that. It’s funny because as you say, presidents, their job usually midterm is to be like the DJ in WKRP in Cincinnati – that voice that gets on and says, “Hey, everything’s cool. Don’t worry about it.” Remember that scene in Naked Gun – oh, wait, sorry, it’s Airplane. When Leslie Nielsen addresses all the passengers and says, there’s nothing to worry about, no reason to panic, both pilots are healthy, we’re not actually plummeting to the ground. And as he is talking, his nose is visibly expanding outward. That’s what a good president does. A good president gets up on TV when everybody knows things are terrible and lies right your face about how great everything is and how you don’t have to worry, and you’re convinced by it. That that’s the mark of a good president: somebody who can make you not worry for a moment. Biden did the opposite of that. You turned on the television and he invited you to worry about a whole range of things, turning your emotional tenor up as opposed to down. What’s the purpose of that?
Walter Kirn: There were a few little traditional crumbs in there. We were told the American economy is just roaring along, it’s the best in the world in fact. This may be true! The world’s economic situation doesn’t seem that great at the moment. There was a little of that: you’ve got it great, and it’s gonna get even better, if we get rid of these subversives, you know?
Matt Taibbi: Right. But he didn’t even sell that very well.
Walter Kirn: Yeah. It was, it was weird, man.
Matt Taibbi: Clinton and Obama were both great at that. Even George Bush was pretty good at it –giving you shitty news and making you feel all right about it. Every half decent president is good at that. Even Reagan was good at it.
Walter Kirn: Well, Trump was at doing that three weeks after he was president, listing his accomplishments and so on, before he could have had them. Whether it was effective with those who didn’t like him or whether it made converts, we don’t know. The fact is, Biden is a very unpopular president right now. By all measures, he’s an unpopular president launching a war on a large segment of his own population, which is weird.
Matt Taibbi: I’m not sure what that was all about, but that was remarkable. I guess we still have to find out what the plan is because it was not fully discernible last night.
Walter Kirn: Let me just add my trademark paranoia to the mix. I think we’re looking at a schedule of events, probably as fixed as Roman Catholic feast days this fall. I think it’s all, I think it’s all been gridded out – there are certain Wednesdays and Fridays on which certain things will happen. I always think about how I would do it. And if I was running this election and I had just given such a speech, I’d have a script. I had just announced a variety show of unknown content, I would have act breaks and a series of moments that I could control, because you’ve created this free-floating anxiety. Now, at the same time, this is the president who announced last winter that the unvaccinated were facing a winter of severe illness and death. You know, if he had said severe illness and death last night in that setting, with those red lights, I think hall of America would’ve just shivered.
Matt Taibbi: My take on that was that he looked like a band put out to warm up for Queensrÿche.
Walter Kirn: Last night, because I ran a joke on Twitter about the optics of this thing, I had people sending Black Sabbath videos… I put up a Blue Oyster Cult video. There was a lot of Rage Against the Machine. There was a German something…
Matt Taibbi: I thought of Rammstein.
Walter Kirn: It was a techno band. The point is, no one on my Twitter feed at least thought it was a Joni Mitchell song, or, you know, uh, any, anything approaching folk or hippie music. It was all metal of one kind or another.
Matt Taibbi: It was a song that Beavis and Butthead would’ve liked.
Walter Kirn: It’s Metal Joe now.
Matt Taibbi: Well, I guess we’ll find out what those Wednesdays and, and Friday events will be in the upcoming weeks, but that was a pretty strong signal, I thought.
Walter Kirn: Are you starting to feel like we’re narrating a baseball game? The thing about baseball is it’s a great opportunity for talk, because the situations develop slowly, the, the plays have space between them and, and the strategy is well known. So, depending on the inning and the score, and depending on who’s up, you can make pretty interesting, educated guesses to cover the action. It feels like that to me, except this is a baseball game in which the ball might explode and blow up the stadium.
Matt Taibbi: Also, they’ve clearly left the starter in too long in this one. They should have made that call to the bullpen in maybe the third or fourth inning. But he’s in there. It reminds me of that Dock Ellis no-hitter on acid.
Walter Kirn: The Dock Ellis no-hitter on acid is one of the great mansplaining stories. I don’t know why, but men tend to know about it, especially men who’ve done acid.
Walter Kirn: But, Ellis had preternatural abilities in that game. He saw the mitt like it was two feet away. But I’m not seeing a no hitter here, nor am I seeing preternatural abilities.
Matt Taibbi: No, but the quality of only being able to tell if the batter is on the left side or the right side, which is something that was true for Ellis – maybe that applies. He could only see whether they were lefthanded or righthanded. I think the catcher had to have reflective tape on his fingers so he could see the signs. There’s some Biden in that.
Walter Kirn: Sometimes one does have that feeling with Biden. I mean, they ballyhooed this speech. That’s the other thing we didn’t mention, there was a big runup to this thing. And if the fate of our democracy is at stake, and the networks and PBS aren’t covering it – it seems like backstage in the movie network they just said, “Nope, Nope, Nope. Stay away from this one. We’ll figure out how to cover it tomorrow when we can play with the footage.” But it was weird that he was kind of ignored.
Matt Taibbi: It was unusual that they decided to pass this one over. By the way, speaking of the movie network, you didn’t get a little bit of a Howard Beale visual, with that cross above him and the red light?
Walter Kirn: Oh, man, I sure did. It was Howard Beale. You just hit the reference which was hovering and unconscious the whole time. It was, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
Matt Taibbi: It had all the elements. It had that creepy red light. Most people didn’t notice, there was a cross, above the independence hall… it was in the shot most of the time.
Walter Kirn: It was. It was.
Matt Taibbi: And he was gesticulating like Howard Beale in the in the middle of it. He did the double arm-raise multiple times.
Walter Kirn: There was a quasi-religiosity to the thing. It spoke to a cosmic confrontation between the forces of good and evil.
Matt Taibbi: That’s always been a little bit of a theme with Biden. Having governed him – on the campaign trail he often talks about the light and the dark. There was a big line in there last night about that, about, uh, about the forces of darkness and how this is the way back into the light.
Walter Kirn: With two spooky Marines, silhouetted, facelessly with their arms next to them was kind of mind bending for me. Usually speeches about good versus evil. If you’re trying to represent the good, it’s done with a light, brisk, inspiring, awakened energy. And visually this was darkness fighting darkness…
Matt Taibbi: I certainly took the speech to be an announcement of the beginning of a campaign of some kind. And maybe they’re just going to wait for some other thing to happen. Who knows?
Walter Kirn: As a novelist and a screenwriter, I have a deep and abiding knowledge of how the best laid storylines can go awry. And it may have been overkill. There were times when I was looking at it and I was thinking, you know, when this memetically filters out to America, they may think, “This is ridiculous. Wait, we we’ve gone too far. This is stupid, getting us nowhere, likely to be dangerous. Can they fricking cool it?” I would like to think that there’s still that reservoir of common sense in America.
Matt Taibbi: Well, I don’t know. That’s optimistic on your part.
Walter Kirn: Of course, America might just sit on its ass during this episode that’s supposed to cause blood in the streets. I kind of recommend it, frankly. If I had my way, I’d say, “Take your civil war and shove it, this is the best time to watch TV and gain weight.”
Matt Taibbi: As you say, that instinct is in our blood. It may be our best quality.
Walter Kirn: It’s certainly a gift we have.
Matt Taibbi: Well, I like your optimism. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I hope you’re right. Well, we’ll see. Anyway, that was America this week. There is other news to check out in the full column. There was for instance an interesting FTC case, which I’m told has potentially serious ramifications for corporate enforcement. But I think we’re on the main storylines, this domestic issue with the MAGA crowd, and then internationally with tensions escalating in Russia and in China now. We’ll keep an eye on that and hopefully see you next week.
Walter Kirn: See you next week!
To check out Walter Kirn online, look at @WalterKirn on Twitter, “Unbound” at walterkirn.substack.com on Substack, and Walter’s author page on Amazon.