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SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE TODAY with a chance of isolated thunder along the coast. Another round of gusty south winds are expected early Saturday with short periods of heavy rain possible in Mendocino and Lake Counties. Minor flood concerns will continue through Saturday. (NWS)
HOLDING BACK THE WATER
by Mike Geniella
For now, federal officials are planning to hold back releases from the rapidly filling Lake Mendocino because of continuing high waterflow downstream on the Russian River.
High river flows are still threatening to flood areas at Hopland, and the historically vulnerable Guerneville area in western Sonoma County.
“We are going to hold back the storm water for now,” said Nick Malasavage. He is chief of the Operations and Readiness Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district headquarters in San Francisco.
Malasavage said Lake Mendocino, while it has reached its annual capacity for water storage, is capable of holding back significantly more runoff if needed.
"We have room available to manage it for flood control now, and help ease the threat of flooding downstream,” said Malasavage.
More rainfall is expected this weekend but Corps officials, who assume control of the lake’s management once water levels enter a so-called flood pool, believe the lake can handle more heavy inflow.
“The rise in the lake’s level in just the past month is dramatic (30 feet) but it is designed to hold more, and historically has before releases are made, said Malasavage.
Malasavage said the Corps’ goal is to ‘never contribute to downstream flooding.’
While Guerneville suffers periodic flooding from surging inflows into the Russian River downstream from Coyote Dam at Lake Mendocino, the man-made reservoir north of Ukiah is critical to limiting flood damage. Lake Mendocino is believed to hold back the equivalent of an additional one foot of water that might reach Guerneville when the Russian River floods.
Lake Mendocino was created in 1950 for flood control and water supply. It was a joint project of the Army Corps, and the Sonoma County Water Agency which secured 87 percent of the water stored in the lake for domestic, fisheries, and irrigation supplies. The agency has since constructed Lake Sonoma on Dry Creek, and now serves 600,000 customers in Sonoma and northern Marin counties.
Mendocino County declined to participate in the Coyote Dam building project. A Ukiah Valley special district ended buying rights to only 8,000 acre feet of the available water for local use.
The Russian River watershed in total, unlike most Northern California fed by Sierra Nevada snowpack, relies only on rain, and a small diversion from the Eel River for hydroelectric power production.
Typically, rainfall on the North Coast is enough to replenish annual supplies and keep streams flowing healthily for fisheries. But the drought of the last three years sent water levels plunging, including in Lake Mendocino. Gov. Gavin Newsom used the dry flatbeds of Lake Mendocino as a backdrop for a highly publicly drought emergency proclamation in April 2021.
The unexpected but steady rainfall since Christmas is replenishing lakes and reservoirs and ending fears of another summer of low lake levels and little recreation uses. Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury upstream on the Eel River are popular visitor attractions during good weather months.
Malasavage and other water officials credit a more sophisticated weather forecasting system called FIRO, developed with the help of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and first implemented at Lake Mendocino, for being able to balance the demands of water supply and flood control.
“Right now, we can sit tight and see what happens over the next several days,” said Malasavage.
Malasavage, an East Coast native who has a doctorate from Drexel University in civil/geotechnical engineering, has more than a professional interest in the Russian River, and its effects on the region.
“My family and I live in Forestville in Sonoma County. I keep an eye on things,” said Malasavage.
Innovations in forecasting methods over the past 25 years, and new ways of looking at a region’s hydrology, allows for a new federal confidence.
“We are better able to refine our management techniques. We don’t have to just build more dams to do that,” said Malasavage.
TODAY THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION approved Advice Letter 49018A bringing full Fiber broadband to Comptche. This starts the clock obligating AT&T to replace Comptche's copper network with a modern fiber-to-the-home broadband network within two years.
The Comptche Broadband Committee will work with AT&T to ensure timely and quality implementation of this network. We also want to thank all of those who helped provide letters and public comments, and whose donations made it all possible.
Comptche Broadband Committee
Beloved Mendocino Middle School Teacher and principal David Gross died shortly before Christmas. A Wake and a celebration of his life is this Saturday Jan. 14 at Crown Hall in Mendocino from 1-3 p.m,.Former students and friends are invited to share their favorite stories about him and smile with warm memories. (Katy Tahja)
David Laurence Gross
The Mendocino Coast community sadly lost a vibrant member with the passing of Dave Gross of Mendocino on December 19, 2022.
David Laurence Gross was born May 8, 1941 in Santa Barbara CA to Helen and Merle Gross. Growing up there he attended University of California, Santa Barbara where he met Betty Cornell and they married in 1964. In Mendocino he is survived by his wife Betty, son Peter, and in Chico CA by his daughter Molly Harrison (Rob) and grandchildren Jake and Lilly.
An educator and a principal he leaves a realm of students who remember him with fondness. He taught in Point Arena for seven years before a long career at Mendocino Middle School. A three month job teaching in Yokohama Japan, He also taught for a year in Hull, England before returning to Mendocino was a special treat. He always joked he liked teaching more than being a principal.
As a world traveler friends were never surprised to see a photo of him standing on the summit of a mountain peak, including Kilimanjaro in Africa. It may have been his stint in the Yokohama school that put a love of Japan in his heart. He helped found the Miasa-Mendocino Sister City Association which lead to exchanges of a week or so between middle school students in Miasa and Mendocino. Dave lead 12 contingents of coastal students to Japan for cultural exchanges and he established lifelong friendships with Miasa folks.
On the coast he served 12 years on the Board of Directors of the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department and most recently was involved in the Rotary Club fundraiser for Ukrainian relief which was a resounding success.
At his request there will be a Wake and celebration of his life at Crown Hall in Mendocino January 14, 2023 from 1 to 3 p.m. The public and former students and teachers are invited to share stories. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Parents & Friends, 306 E. Redwood, Fort Bragg CA 95437.
MARIA J. HUBER
Maria passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 1, 2023, at the age of 100, at her home.
Maria was born on May 7, 1922, in Inwood, Long Island, New York, a child of Italian immigrants. She graduated from Lawrence High School, Lawrence, New York, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. Her B.A. degree was received from New York University in 1944 and her M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1945 with majors in Italian, Spanish and the Humanities.
Benjamin Franklin High School, an all-boys school in Harlem, New York was her first teaching assignment, followed by working in high schools in Pearl River, New York, East Orange, New Jersey, Alameda, California, the Garden Country Day School, Jackson Heights, New York and finally Fort Bragg High School. She also taught Italian at the College of the Redwoods for 10 years. Her teaching career spanned 50 years, and she encouraged her students with expressions such as "Don't be ordinary, Be Extraordinary!", "Where there is a will there is a Way!", "Nothing is Impossible!"
In 1962 Maria was granted a State Department Fulbright Award to study Italian in Rome, Italy. She was one of ten persons in the United States to be recommended by the U.S. Office of Education. Internationalism has always been Maria's forte. For over 45 years she took students as well as adults abroad during summer vacations and Easter holidays for study and travel with emphasis of the interrelationships of disciplines and cultures.
Many honors were received by Maria. She was the recipient of three National Defense Education Act grants for the study of Spanish at San Francisco State University (1961), the University of Puerto Rico (1963), and in Italian at the University of New Britain, Connecticut (1964). Maria was asked to be a member of the Committee of Examiners for the Educational Testing Service, Princeton University, New Jersey, for the Italian Listening Comprehension Exam (the only high school teacher on the committee) 1969, 1970, 1971. She was also, a member of the WASC committee for accreditation of high schools: South Fork (1978 and 1984), Happy Camp (1979), Willits (1987). In the summer of 1992 Maria received a Study Grant by the Italian government to study in Siena, Italy. In 1999 Maria was named Teacher of the Year by the National Honor Society, Membership in the P.T.A., America Legion, Ladies Altar Society, Association of Teachers of Italian and Spanish, had great appeal for Maria. An unusual honor for her was to be the Grand Marshall for the Paul Bunyan Days Parade in 1999.
Her interests included collecting art, antiques, cookbooks, clothes design and sewing, the theater, musical concerts, entertaining and most of all travelling the world.
Maria is survived by her sons Mathew and wife Patty of Fort Bragg, Terrance and wife Andi of Fort Bragg, daughter Ardythe and husband Stephen of Florida and six grandchildren: Anna, Dana, Maureen, Kevin, Ryan and Myles and five great grandchildren: Lily, Paige, Jordan, Emma and Sierra. Maria was preceded in death by her husband Matt in 2006 and son Chris in 2021.
A private family service for Maria J. Huber, a retired high school educator, world traveler, mother, grandmother and great grandmother will be held at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Fort Bragg, with Father Andrew Pacheco as celebrant.
There will be a celebration of Maria's life on January 21st at the Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church hall, 255 South Harold St., Fort Bragg, from 2.30PM to 4.30PM, to which we would like to invite Maria's many friends and the community of Fort Bragg.
On 01-11-2023 at approximately 5:51pm, Ukiah PD personnel received a call regarding a transient male who had made threats to shoot a victim with a firearm at Alex Thomas Plaza. During the investigation it was determined that Patrick Redmill was requested to leave the skating rink area by an employee. Redmill then told the employee that he was going to shoot her with a 9mm shotgun. This caused the employee to become in fear for her life.
A UPD Officer arrived on scene and contacted Redmill. Redmill was known to the Officer to be on CDCR Parole. The Officer conducted a search of Redmill for weapons due to him being on CDCR Parole and threatening to shoot the victim. Redmill was not found to be in possession of any firearms or other weapons. After speaking with the victim the UPD Officer re-contacted Redmill to place him under arrest for a violation of 422 PC (Criminal Threats). Redmill became agitated and resisted the Officer by pulling away and turning towards him swinging his fist at the Officer’s face. Redmill then took a fighting stance and advanced in his direction.
The Officer drew his department issued taser and discharged it connecting with Redmill’s abdomen area. Due to the weather conditions, Redmill had on multiple layers of clothing, which caused the taser to not penetrate and was ultimately ineffective. Redmill turned and ran from the Officer eastbound towards S. State Street. The Officer requested Code 3 (emergency) assistance from additional UPD Officer’s.
UPD Officer’s responded to the area, as well as Officer’s from the California Highway Patrol. Redmill was apprehended on the east sidewalk of S. State Street without any further incident.
Per protocol, Redmill was transported to the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Emergecny Room for a medical clearance prior to being lodged at the Mendocino County Jail. While at the AHUV ER, Redmill continued his violent behavior and attempted to kick the Officer. Redmills’s Parole Agent in charge of his supervision was contacted and he placed a parole hold on Redmill for his criminal conduct.
SENTENCING UPDATE: COASTAL SERIAL RAPIST GETS LIFE
To recap, defendant Anthony William Oakley, age 30, formerly of Albion, was previously found guilty by jury verdicts on November 4th of felony assault with intent to commit rape on Jane Doe #1; forcible spousal rape, a felony, on Jane Doe #2; forcible rape, a felony, on Jane Doe #3; a separate forcible rape on Jane Doe #3; criminal threats, a felony, on Jane Doe #2; and criminal threats, a felony, on Jane Doe #3.
The jury also found true in November a special sentencing enhancement alleging Oakley committed forcible sex crimes against more than one victim.
Oakley was returned to Department A Thursday morning, Jan.12th, to hear what sentence would be imposed on him for his violent crime spree.
As expected, the outcome was not good news for the defendant.
After hearing from the prosecutor, two of the victims, the defense attorney, and the probation office representative, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder sentenced Oakley to the maximum sentence allowed by law -- 53 years to Life in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The prosecutor who worked with the victims and law enforcement to achieve positive outcomes at trial and at today's sentencing hearing was Assistant DA Dale P. Trigg.
The law enforcement agencies that diligently pursued, gathered, and documented the evidence needed to ultimately convict the defendant were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney's own Bureau of Investigations.
THEY SANG AT BREAKFAST, SAID GOODBYE AND LEFT IN SEPARATE CARS. THEN, SHE VANISHED IN SONOMA COUNTY FLOODWATERS
by Matthias Gafni
The kids had left for school, so it was just Daphne and Marc Fontino at the breakfast table Tuesday. Daphne spread jelly and cream cheese on her homemade cinnamon bagels and scrambled some eggs while Marc sang two of her favorite Smokey Robinson songs to her — “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat.”
Still beaming from their 15th wedding anniversary celebration 11 days earlier, the couple looked forward to renewing their vows later this month. They planned to shop for a new suit and dress this week. The couple, who both work for a company that shuttles elderly and fragile clients to their medical appointments, jumped into their company cars and left for work.
“I love you,” Marc told his wife.
About 24 hours later, on Wednesday morning, a Sonoma County sheriff’s diver would find Daphne Fontino, 43, dead inside her Prius, submerged in 8 to 10 feet of water after Mark West Creek overflowed its banks in a low basin west of Santa Rosa. A desperate 911 call Tuesday morning, as the swollen creek poured into her car, was not enough to save her. Rescuers could not find her vehicle, which had been swept almost 100 yards off Trenton-Healdsburg Road and into a Forestville vineyard.
Fontino is among at least 18 people who have died in California after a series of storms pounded the state, unleashing flash floods, fallen trees and mudslides.
On Wednesday, just hours after search teams found Fontino’s car and body, her distraught husband Mark, 50, spoke to The Chronicle and shared their love story and his broken heart.
“Her spirit is still alive in me and it always will be,” he said. “She meant so much to me, you just don’t understand.”
Marc was born and raised in San Francisco. Daphne was born in Shanghai, before her parents moved the family to Hong Kong. At 16, she came to the United States in search of an education.
The couple met in a San Francisco Chinese Lutheran Church. Friends introduced the couple before the congregation traveled to Marin County for an oyster BBQ. Marc offered to drive Daphne’s car because she was in the process of finalizing her driver’s license.
Daphne loved the city. She would visit the Asian markets and buy pork buns, Marc recalled.
They married on Dec. 30, 2007.
“She was beautiful, kind, softhearted and understanding,” Marc recalled. “She had a heart of gold.”
The pair had three children together - Kaitlyn, 14, Kyle, 12, and Kennith, 9.
On her Facebook page, Daphne included a quote above her profile: “family is everything to myself my three beautiful children and my beloved husband Marc Fontino.”
The couple cared for Marc’s father in San Francisco, until his kidneys failed him one last time. Five years ago, they moved up to Ukiah to help care for Marc’s mother, who also had kidney problems.
“She always opened her arms to help people with anything,” Marc’s sister Jennifer Dean, 39, said. “She was just a wonderful person.”
That warmth extended to animals too. Daphne, an animal lover, recently fostered two rescue dogs - a German shepherd named Rex and a lab called Roxanne. She recently found Rex a permanent home, Marc said.
On Dec. 30, she baked him an anniversary cake and squeezed out a message in frosting across the top - “I Love My Husband.”
The pair had planned to renew their vows on Jan. 21 at Faith Lutheran Church in Ukiah. Daphne wanted it to be a secret, her husband said, but when she started asking him to go suit shopping with her, Marc figured something was up.
“But that didn’t happen,” he said, interrupting his own story.
Shortly after arriving in Ukiah, Marc began working for North Bay Transit Group, transporting patients up and down Northern California for medical appointments. A few months ago, Daphne joined him at the company. She also worked delivering meals through DoorDash, Marc said.
On Tuesday morning, Daphne had an assignment to drive a woman from Graton to an appointment in Redwood City and back. Marc was dispatched to Fort Bragg for another client. He offered to switch cars with his wife because she preferred his Prius to hers — but his was low on gas, so she declined. He told her he loved her and to be safe.
They both drove off. It was sprinkling in Ukiah that morning. But pouring farther south.
The stretch of Trenton-Healdsburg Road just south of Kistler Vineyards is notorious for flooding. The paved road marks the lowest lying area in the Mark West Creek drainage — part of a larger series of tributaries and creeks that drains west into the Russian River, said Sonoma County sheriff deputy Rob Dillion.
“The water comes up pretty quickly there and comes across the road,” Dillion said.
Over the previous seven days, almost 7 inches of rain dumped in Santa Rosa, 10 miles southeast of Forestville.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, Daphne was driving southbound on Trenton-Healdsburg Road when floodwaters overtook her car. At about 10:08 a.m., she called 911 and reported that water was filling up her car and waves were topping her hood, Dillion said. The call cut off. A dispatcher phoned back several times with no response, Dillion said.
That morning, as Marc drove to Fort Bragg he received a call from a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy. Daphne had been in an accident, he was told, and they couldn’t find her. Verizon, her cell carrier, also couldn’t get a ping to locate her phone, the deputy told him.
He broke down and cried in his car - “I was falling apart.”
He started calling Daphne, but her phone went directly to voicemail. She always answered his calls immediately, he thought.
Fifty miles south, Sonoma County deputies, a marine unit, two helicopters and a firefighter swift water rescue team searched the creek spillover. They found nothing.
A deputy called Marc and asked him to return to his house in case Daphne escaped the waters and returned home without a phone. He rushed back to their townhome. It was empty.
As the sun set, the hunt was suspended due to darkness. Marc couldn’t sleep or eat all night.
The search resumed at sunrise Wednesday. Around 7:46 a.m., a swift water rescue team found a car submerged in the flood waters, a football field away from the roadway and in a vineyard. A deputy dove into the water, broke a window and found Daphne inside.
Around 11:30 a.m., there was a knock at Marc’s townhome door. She had drowned, the deputy said. Marc collapsed to the ground. The deputy helped him back inside and stayed to make sure he was OK.
“At least I got to tell her I love her before she died,” Marc said later that night, his voice breaking in a conversation with a Chronicle reporter. “We had such a bond between me and her. It was unbreakable.”
His sister helped set up a GoFundMe account, hoping friends and family could help defray Daphne’s funeral costs.
“If anyone would like to, I am a proud man, but I think in this situation I need to ask for help,” he wrote in the fundraising account message. “I also would like to give my deepest condolences to all of the other people and mostly the children that have been hurt during this flood. Please please be careful driving and hold your loved ones tight tonight.”
Lost in his thoughts, Marc recalled his final moments with Daphne before they both left for work Tuesday morning. The lush breakfast. Serenading his wife with her favorite songs.
He started reciting the lyrics to “Just to See Her” over the phone.
“Just to see her … Just to touch her … Just to hold her in my arms again one more time …”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
THIS PHOTO is of the Zeni home, destroyed by a falling tree during the recent storms. The Zenis, Mendo settlers from early in the 20th century, maybe a little earlier when many Italian immigrants arrived on the Northcoast and have thrived ever since. Zeni the first claimed a homestead deep on Fish Rock Road, for years the only settled ranch for miles. Read somewhere that Zeni the first walked all the way into Cloverdale to meet the northbound train carrying his bride to him, the last stop for her after leaving Italy, and then the two of them walked all the way back out to their home on deep Fish Rock where they worked hard and prospered, and where their descendants still live.
DEATH AT SEA RANCH: Two men found dead inside home in Sea Ranch.
Yesterday at approximately 11:22 am dispatch received a call that two men were found dead inside a house in the 300 block of Spinnaker Close, Sea Ranch. A tree crew found the men when they came to the house to remove a tree that had previously fallen on the house. CalFire firefighters were the first to respond and pronounced both men dead at the scene.
Deputies responded to start the death investigation. The two men were in separate bedrooms and there was a generator in the hallway. The power switch was turned on and the fuel tank was empty. Coroner detectives are working to identify the men, notify their families, and conduct their death investigations. Their identities will be released when available.
It is dangerous to operate generators inside a building. Generators release noxious fumes that can result in carbon monoxide poisoning and death. Always operate your generator outside and at least 20 feet away from occupied buildings.
* * *
Authorities investigating the deaths of two men found in a Sea Ranch home Wednesday say a generator sitting inside the house was switched on with the fuel tank empty, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
The two men were identified as Gene Beauchamp, 74, of Colusa and Phil Mabray, 61, of Biggs, in Butte County.
While the county coroner is working to determine the exact cause of death and when the men died, Deputy Rob Dillion, the Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Thursday that evidence at the home points to carbon monoxide poisoning.
He said there was a distinct odor of fumes in the home on Spinnaker Close where the men were found. There were no signs of foul play or trauma, Dillion said. There was no indication it was a suicide attempt.
The department, in a Thursday update on its investigation, issued a public warning against using generators inside a building, noting that it can lead to the deadly buildup of fumes.
The Sheriff’s Office did not say how the generator had been deployed, but hundreds of Sea Ranch homes remained without power through at least Tuesday evening in the wake of a fierce Jan. 4 wind-driven storm that knocked out electricity for up to 20,000 homes and business across Sonoma County.
The deaths, if linked to storm-related fallout, would add to the toll of four people killed this week and last in Sonoma and Mendocino counties since the heaviest storm activity began Jan. 4.
A tree crew first found the men’s bodies Wednesday morning when they came to the house on the east side of Highway 1 to remove a fir that had earlier fallen on the residence. After not getting a response at the door, the crew entered the home and discovered the bodies, Dillion said.
After that, deputies and Cal Fire officials were dispatched about 11:20 a.m. to the home in the 300 block of Spinnaker Close, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Cal Fire firefighters found the men in separate bedrooms and pronounced them dead, the Sheriff’s Office said. The department did not disclose any relationship between the men.
Dillion said it appeared the deaths were unrelated to the downed tree on the home’s roof. He did not know who called the tree crew to the address.
The generator was found in a hallway, its switch on and its fuel tank empty, the department said.
The Sea Ranch is a planned community of about 1,900 homes along the northernmost Sonoma Coast. Multiple residents contacted by The Press Democrat said they did not know the two men found in the house.
Neither of the men appear linked by property records to the home, according to county officials.
Attempts to reach listed owners of the involved home were not immediately successful Thursday.
According to Sea Ranch officials, about a third of the homes in the community are occupied full time, a third are weekenders and the remainder are vacation and long-term rentals.
Menka Sethi, community manager of The Sea Ranch Association, declined to comment.
The county coroner is conducting a toxicology report, which could point to any role potential carbon monoxide poisoning played in the deaths.
“Generators release noxious fumes that can result in carbon monoxide poisoning and death. Always operate your generator outside and at least 20 feet away from occupied buildings,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its news release.
North Sonoma Coast Fire Chief Bonnie Plakos said she did not have any information beyond what was released by the Sheriff’s Office.
A tree crew was at the property on Thursday working to remove the downed fir tree resting on the home’s roof.
The four previous storm-related deaths in Sonoma and Mendocino counties include a 43-year-old Ukiah woman who drowned in her flood-trapped car east of Forestville, where her body was discovered in the vehicle off Trenton-Healdsburg Road on Wednesday.
A 68-year-old Fort Bragg woman was killed early Monday when a tree fell on her home as she slept.
A 2-year-old Occidental boy was killed Jan. 4 when a tree fell on his home. A 37-year-old Elk Grove man was killed Jan. 7 in a Manchester vehicle crash while he worked as a contracted crew member for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
POINT CABRILLO VISITOR CENTER DAMAGED BY THIRTY-FOOT WAVE
by Michelle Blackwell
A 30-foot wave crested the bluffs near the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and pummeled the west-facing doors. The Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers (PCLK) that manages and maintains the historic lighthouse and surrounding grounds received an alarm at 8:30 AM that there was motion in the building. State Parks maintenance staff were the first on scene and discovered the destroyed double doors and a visitor center with standing water, damaged displays, and goods.
Lightkeepers staff and volunteers, along with parks maintenance, lifeguards, rangers, and park police, secured the scene and began clean-up operations on Thursday. Tanya Smart, board president for PCLK, said. “Parks were amazing. They provided tools, staff, plywood, and drying fans.” Superintendent of Parks Loren Rex said they removed two wheelbarrows full of rocks and debris from the visitor center after the water was removed.
While many displays and goods were damaged, Smart said that the Pomo artifacts were not damaged, nor were the model of the Frolic or the artifacts from that 1850 shipwreck off of Point Cabrillo. The canon that was on display was moved from the force of the wave, according to Smart. She hopes that the damaged displays can be fixed as they figure out how and when to reopen the center. Another positive is that the historic Fresnel lens was not damaged and is still in operation, providing navigation assistance to mariners. She also pointed out that no one was hurt, and that’s the best news.
Smart says that it is too early to estimate the cost of the damage or if the display cases can be fixed. She expects to start a fundraising effort, which she hopes will cover the cost of the clean-up and replacement items. In the interim, the salvageable materials have been removed to a dry location for cleaning and assessment. More information and updates can be found at pointcabrillo.org.
State Parks closed Point Cabrillo due to the large waves and did not have a date when they expected to reopen. According to Rex, coastal parks suffered erosion, and the bluffs themselves could be compromised by an undercut. Until they have had time to examine all of them, he says caution is needed to protect the public. Those who want to see the ocean should not enter closed areas and should stay on designated trails or view the water from parking lots. Lifeguards are patrolling the coast and advising the curious to stay away from the water for their own safety. Camping at most parks is closed. Westport Union State Beach is currently open as it is at a high elevation and does not have trees. Rex said that old-growth redwoods were lost at Hendy Woods and Montgomery Woods. Downed trees trapped some visitors and had to be removed for them to exit local parks. He had flooding at Van Damme, Navarro, Laguna Point, Lake Cleone, and Mill Creek. Salt Point and Armstrong Woods also had significant tree damage.
(Courtesy, the Fort Bragg Advocate-News)
WITH MORE RAIN IN STORE FOR NORTH COAST, DAM MANAGERS WEIGH RELEASES FROM LAKE MENDOCINO
by Mary Callahan
Deadly storms that have landed repeated blows on the North Coast over the past two weeks are forecast to hit again over the weekend and into next week, raising a persistent threat of creek and river flooding, mudslides and falling trees.
The Russian River is projected to climb back toward flood stage in Guerneville on Thursday and Sunday, though predictions eased Wednesday, suggesting a slightly lower risk than was indicated at the start of the day.
The raised river level still means fast-flowing creeks will be likely to back up as they reach confluences, potentially causing the kind of flooding that this week spread into Guerneville from Fife Creek.
Further east, along River Road east of Forestville, the body of a Ukiah woman was recovered Wednesday from her submerged car, which had been overtaken Tuesday by floodwaters from Mark West Creek.
It was one of at least four storm-related deaths in Sonoma and Mendocino counties since Jan. 4. Statewide, the death toll rose to at least 18 on Wednesday.
Heavy rain expected Friday and Saturday likely means six-day rainfall totals by early Tuesday should be in the 4-to-6 inch range for inland valleys and 7-to-10 inches in the coastal mountains, National Weather Service meteorologist Valerie Thaler said.
Already, remote communities in the western hills of Sonoma County have seen in some cases feet of rain since a series of moisture-heavy atmospheric rivers took aim at the region two days after Christmas.
The tiny road stop known as Venado in the Mill Creek watershed west of Healdsburg received almost 28 inches between Dec. 26 and Tuesday, according to Sonoma Water.
Cazadero has received something closer to 18 inches, while about 13.74 inches have fallen at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport during the same time frame.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, meanwhile, is looking for a break in which some water might be let go from Lake Mendocino near Ukiah without swamping Highway 175 downstream in Hopland.
It would be the first flood releases for Coyote Dam since 2019, the last wet year before three years of intense drought during which the lake reached its second-lowest level in history.
The reservoir by Tuesday held 78,985 acre feet of water, more than 10,000 acre feet above the threshold at which the Army Corps takes over management from Sonoma Water.
The Corps has discretion to hold back extra water in the reservoir as long as it still has ample space behind the dam to absorb incoming storms. Under an operational model developed in partnership with Sonoma Water and the Center for Western Water and Weather Extremes at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Corps can base its decision on the presence or lack of storms in the forecast.
Nick Malasavage, chief of operations and readiness for the Corps’ Golden Gate District, said a release from Coyote Dam would mostly be undetectable given the vast amount of water in the drainage at present. But he said there was concern about ensuring it didn’t contribute to flooding in Hopland, about 50 miles to the south.
The river at Hopland has surged above its 15-foot flood stage at least three times since last week and was forecast to crest above flood level again early Thursday and early Saturday.
Malasavage said the operations team has continued to assess potential windows in the weather for releasing a pulse of water from the dam or beginning a smaller but longer term release.
If forecasts for flooding on the river stabilize, rather than continuing to oscillate, as they have been, an earlier release could be considered, but a weekend release is more likely, Malasavage said.
“There’s a lot of water in the system. The watershed is saturated,” he said. “Since we do have quite a big space left in Lake Mendocino, we’re going to do a wait and see.”
“We always want to be mindful of the resource that has been delivered to us,” he added, “while still being prepared for more storms.”
THE FATE OF THE REDWOODS, an on-line comment: Redwoods are going nowhere. Their range is artificially increasing with redwood now planted in Oregon, Washington, Montana, British Columbia, France, Hawaii, French Polynesia., as well as many other places. The ice age reduced their natural range to what it is currently. Redwoods do just fine in droughts and dry climates, ie; Eastern most redwoods in Napa County in an oven like environment. It’s all about the microclimate because those trees are growing on benches in the rain shadow of mountains often near watercourses. In Kauai, they are growing in Kokee on the dry side of the island. They are just as big and it looks exactly like the redwood forests here.
ANN SIRI REPORTS FROM GREENWOOD HEIGHTS, PHILO:
Like Everyone, it's been a rough 2 months. Started the first storm besides tree lost our whole power system went down. We have a major off grid system that runs everything including the machine shop. Water came down the conduit from the panels up the hill and dumped on the inverters in the power bunker. Fried. It took almost a month without power to give up trying to fix it. We found a very experienced contractor (GOD to Us) Who has us temporarily going. We spend 3 or more hrs a day since then cutting and digging trees and ditches on 6.5 miles of ranch roads and infer structures. Then the 6 draft horses we have aren't usually locked in 24 hrs a day. What a huge amount of poo mixed in saw dust to clean. Bubby our old man horse tried to colic- fine now. We picked the worst placement. We have had bad wind 40-60 mile an hour almost every day. Hard hat any time outdoors. Went to the neighbors ranch, not a single branch down. We have 300 acres of redwood forest even if you have cleared and thinned made pastures if you trees are 100-200ft tall there is nowhere you wont be hit by one. Well enough whining here are a few pictures.
GEORGE KITTLE on McCaffrey: “When you get snubbed from the Pro Bowl when you’re the best running back in the NFC, I know that he definitely has a little extra anger and passion. I’m not going to say that he was lacking that at all. But there’s a little extra motivation behind that. And I hope Christian plays the rest of the season pissed off. Because he’s been pissed off the last four weeks and all he’s done is dominate.”
THE BASES ARE LOADED. Brandon Belt at the plate, runs the count to 3-2. Strikes out looking at a ball half a millimeter out of the strike zone. Glares at the ump all the way back to the dugout. From all accounts a nice kid, but this fan won't miss him.
KZYX REPORTER SARA REITH DECONSTRUCTS, DELOUSES, DEFENESTRATES, DEMOLISHES LAYTONVILLE PEST
“Mr. Spitz has no reason to expect me to transcribe the information he and his colleagues provided me as if only they are in possession of the relevant points.…”
ALICIA BALES & KZYX
Dear Ms. Durlin:
We've never met, and I'm sure you've heard some unpleasant -- and untrue -- things about me, but that past history is irrelevant.
I'm writing to you today about my experience with Alicia Bales while I was both a Board member at the Mendocino Environmental Center ("The MEC") and a popular programmer at KMEC.
My program was supported, in part, by matching donations from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. My cohost was first Sid Cooperrider, then Mary Massey.
Our show was about national security. No one cared we were a low power station. No one cared about our small broadcast area. Our online audience was huge. One of our shows with CIA whistleblower Ray McGovern has over 76,000 views on Youtube. Our show had A-list guests, like Tom Drake, Bill Binney, Edward Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald, from the 2014 Academy Award-winning documentary, Citizenfour.
KMEC was the little station that could!
What followed is sad, very sad.
I will say the following loudly and unequivocally: Alicia Bales destroyed KMEC and she almost destroyed The MEC.
Ms. Bales used both The MEC and KMEC for her own personal gain. She was coldly calculating and rapaciously ambitious about using The MEC and KMEC as platforms to launch her job search. Her behavior bordered on the sociopathic.
Ms. Bales's first move was to manipulate her way on to the Board as Board President at a time when The MEC was leaderless.
Lara Anderson had quit as President. There was no money in our checking account. And suddenly, and mysteriously, Alicia Bales was not just a Board member, but she was President of the Board.
Ms. Bales's first action was to purge the Board of anyone she perceived as a possible threat -- anyone who might question her, disagree with her, or even voice a dissenting opinion. Ms. Bales wanted a rubberstamp board. When she didn't immediately get it, she made up false allegations. She cried. She screamed. She pouted. She was, by turns, either passive aggressive or emotionally violent. She did whatever she thought it would take to get her rubberstamp board.
And she got it.
Highly respected Board member, Edwin Nieves, was the first to quit.
Board members, Joel Thompson (a disabled person), Emmanuel Mallo (a Black West African person), and Josefina Duenas (a Latina and Ukiah City Councilmember) were all forced from The MEC's Board.
Board member Mary Massey quit. Ms. Massey had been a professional public radio staffer at Nashville Public Radio, WPLN, and a professional fundraiser at the Ronald McDonald House.
Then I quit.
Ms. Bales made our Board positions untenable.
Ms. Bales's first job search focused on being the first program manager at Mendocino County's newly created Climate Action Committee. She attempted to get that job by circumventing the county's civil service system. The job was classified as a "private contractor."
Ms. Bales manipulated then Second District Supervisor John McCowen into supporting her, even to the extent of profiling her at one or two Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meetings.
How did Bales and McCowen know each other? McCowen was our landlord at The MEC. Also, McCowen seemed like a suitor. Bales and McCowen fawned over one another, and even hugged each other, during breaks at Board meetings.
The total compensation for that county job was over $110,000.
It was an outrageous display of cronyism.
When public outcry caused the Mendocino Board of Supervisors to pull the job, Ms. Bales then focused on the newly vacant program director's job at KZYX. She got the job, of course. The MEC and KMEC were a good jumping off point for Bales. The plug was soon pulled from KMEC. Nothing but dead air now. And The MEC is a shadow of its former self.
Years later, while waiting in line at the Ukiah Food Co-op, Mr. Nieves himself told me and Ms. Massey that it had always been Ms. Bales's intention to close down The MEC and KMEC. Her one fundraising effort consisted of merely attending an event at the old Yokayo Bowling.
My only question at this point?
How did the Machiavellian Alicia Bales last this long at KZYX?
* * *
ED REPLY: It is highly unlikely that McCowen will ever reveal the true story of the MEC's origin, and excuse me or not for saying that the MEC, imo, was mostly irrelevant to environmental activity, let alone sustained environment work. For that, people like Helen Libeu, Ron Guenther, the Drells, etc. plugged away at stopping destructive THPs while the MEC did a lotta big talking for the Press Democrat. The dope-soaked joint didn't even get rolling until noon or so, and when it did it struck me as a kind of outpatient center with marginal, pseudonymous characters unproductively milling in and out. Call me paranoid but I've long assumed the MEC was established as a federal listening post as Redwood Summer began to manifest itself as a media project of Judi Bari who had, by then, usurped Dave Foreman as Earth First!s primary leader, Bari having gender-bludgeoned Foreman out the door — “Sexist, racist blah blah blah.”
Since Earth First!, and Bari and Cherney particularly, publicly advocated industrial sabotage, a federal crime, and because the major timber corporations G-P and L-P dominated the county and screamed, falsely, that the hippies were getting in the way of their cash-in profits, the FBI naturally had to keep an eye on the Mendo haps, which they could most conveniently do with an office across the street from the County Courthouse with at least one of their informants — Mike Sweeney, imo — ensconced with his own desk, key to the door and telephone. The feds would have arranged this fake enviro center through Ukiah old boy, McCowen, who owned the suitably ramshackle premises. A lot of murky stuff went down in the 1990 period, prior to Alicia ‘Little Tree’ Bales' arrival as a barefoot, nose-ringed wild child out of Sacramento. As you suggest, Sako, Ms. Bales is unscrupulous and can be extremely unpleasant, but still and all, I doubt she did anything warranting her ejection from the viper's nest at KZYX, where she seemed a perfect fit.
* * *
WAY TO GO, MARTY; HANG IN THERE
By now you’ve had all kinds of people in your face re: Alicia Bales.
You will recall I wrote to you after Alicia was hired. I will say that people, over time, will reveal who they are.
I am not privy to why you fired Alicia but I can imagine that her controlling nature and need to have people follow her agenda no matter what, most likely played a part.
Prior to her hiring by you as Program Director, Alicia willfully ended both the Mendocino Environmental Center AND was directly responsible for KMEC radio going silent. I learned much later after I resigned as a board member that it was her goal to end both the MEC and KMEC through Ed Nieves. Ed held both entities together and quit after Alicia began to disassemble them. No one could blame him. Alicia told Ed she took on the role of Board Chairman to close down the MEC and KMEC. She had help with ending KMEC from Sid Cooperrider who knew the ins and outs of the station equipment. Sid controlled the station’s operations from his parents’ home.
I read her published bio on the KZYX/Z website and actually found it disturbing. Alicia did not fund raise nor train volunteers at KMEC. In truth, she alienated those who were trying to keep both entities going. One by one she made it difficult to function as a member of the board, or as a volunteer. The men who were involved as volunteers were the first to go. She used her female friends whom she put on the board to systematically upset any real hope of keeping the station and Center going. Re: fundraising: she would pass the hat, literally to pay the electric bill in our board meetings. The owner of the building who housed the Center/Station was giving the space for next to pennies.
I ran afoul with Alicia by critiquing a year end direct mail letter suggesting edits. (I was a paid development person at WPLN , Nashville and had an active role in each and every on-air drive, plus direct mail campaigns.) Alicia wilted in anger under my input and that was the beginning of the end of my role as both board member and programmer. She wanted no one to inform her in making the station better. Period.
I wish you well and KZYX/Z as you go forward.
Marty, well done you!
Mary Massey, Co-Host
Heroes and Patriots
KMUD Community Radio
MORE ABUSE FROM SKUNK TRAIN OWNERS
Copied from John Meyer's GoFundMe page:
In June 2020, just after Covid started, I was contacted by Robert Pinole - President of Mendocino Railway, also known as the skunk train - who offered me $450 to $500,000 for my property in Willits. I looked for a property to replace it and was unable to find a property in Willits of equivalent value. I explained this to Robert and offered to sell him my propertyfor 1.5 million to which he replied the property was not worth that much. I was then contacted by Mike Hart (CEO of parent company Sierra Railroad) and when I refused his offer he indicated to me that he would get the property appraised at $350,000 and take it through Eminent Domain. They were able to get it appraised at exactly $350,000 and filed the action against my property on December 22, 2020.
Fast forward to April 2022. We finally got the site plan (a document which I originally requested in 2020)and found out that they actually wanted to take my property and turn it into a campground with a passenger loading station for the excursion train. When my lawyer informed them that it would be illegal to take my property through Eminent Domain and turn it into a private campgrounds they quickly switched their story and days before our trial started came up with a new map showing a transloading facility on my property. Mendocino railways claims they are a public utility and a freight train moving goods between Willits and Fort Bragg. Robert Pinole also stated under oath that their freight cars can hold four semi trucks of cargo/freight and can be loaded in a half an hour. These claims have both been shown to be false.
I could've started this fund raising 2 1/2 years ago but chose not to because I assumed Mendocino railways would come to me with a reasonable offer which I would have accepted and I did not want to take money from my community and then turn around and take an offer. Now it is clear that is not the case. This case will set precedents and needs a judgment. The problem I have now is that the judgment will not be made for another six months and I have borrowed more money than they originally offered me for the property. I've exhausted all of my resources short of selling my equipment- which I need to continue earning a living.
In Early 2020 I was prepared and in the process to build four houses on my property in Willits three of which I would rent and one to live in. Now the money for that is long gone fighting this ridiculous court case with the skunk train/Mendocino railways. They were prepared to pay $5 million for the campgrounds adjacent to my property which months prior sold for $3.2 million just so they could cut off 2 acres and resell the campground. The 2 acres would be for the rail bikes,parking and a depot from my knowledge and statements under oath in court. Now they claim to need 20 acres to build their "transloading facility" to ship freight between Fort Bragg and Willits (32 Miles by roadway 40 miles by train if they could even get through since the tunnel has been collapsed for many years) and claim that my property (21 flat acres) is only worth $350,000 versus 5 million for the campground (37 acres)
I don't want to stop the excursion trains from operating I'm trying to stop the owners from there illegal and abusive use of power but it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight them and this has been happening countrywide with excursion trains over the last 30+ years and as far as I know this case will set precedents for the future and possibly the past. With your help, we can make sure other families do not have to go through what my family has gone through.
Thank you all for your time and consideration. Please share this with friends and family
GURDON MILLER'S SHOW OPENING IN FEBRUARY
Event: Miller Featured Artist at Edgewater Gallery in February
Who: Gurdon “Murph” Miller, Acrylic Abstract Artist
When: Show Opening is First Friday, February 3, from 5-8, and continuing through Feb.
Where: 356 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg
In his own words: “I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. I majored in art at UC Berkeley in the 1960's. I make acrylic paintings from small enough for an apartment, to impractically large. I also paint watercolors and make large-format silver-gelatin photographs. My paintings are abstract, but are related to landscapes or objects that occur in nature. My studio is in Fort Bragg.”
Please join us on First Friday in February for Murph's show opening. Light refreshments served. Masks optional. www.edgewater-gallery.com.
DEFERRED MAINTENANCE ON LITTLE RIVER AIRPORT ROAD
A county roads crew was out today patching up LR Airport Rd. just east of the Y intersection with Albion-Little River Rd. I assume they also worked the road to the west but haven't been out to see.
Apparently contacting county roads by several people got them out to fix the potholes, which really were large and damaging as of yesterday.
What a waste of listserv bandwidth it has for the usual hyper-critics attacking anyone who tried to post relevant information. Is it the result of long-trump syndrome or what?
* * *
LITTLE RIVER AIRPORT ROAD, Dave Gurney comments:
The condition of Little River Airport Road from approximately 1-4 miles in is absolutely dangerous, hazardous and intolerable. The 200 or so elderly residents of The Woods senior housing development depend on this road to get to town for shopping, appointments etc. There are numerous car killing, deep potholes that are hard to avoid without life threatening maneuvers. This road needs to be fixed IMMEDIATELY before someone gets killed. Mendocino County needs to act on this NOW.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, January 12, 2023
EDUARDO ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
AUDREY CARD, Covelo. Suspended license, evasion, resisting, probation revocation.
CHEYENNE COLLINS, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
ANGEL CORTES-RIOS, San Francisco/Ukiah. Evasion, failure to appear.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)
RYAN HACHEY, Willits. Failure to appear.
JOSEPH HERSCHENHOUS, Albion. Domestic battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol.
WILLIAM HUMPHRIES, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. County parole violation.
NOAH LURANHATT, Ukiah. Criminal threats, parole violation.
JOSE MALDONADO-FUENTES, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, kidnapping, cruelty to child-infliction of injury.
DAVID NEIDENBACH, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ENRIQUE NUNEZ-DAVILA, Covelo. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.
NAKEA SIMS, Laytonville. Probation revocation.
LISETTE VELASQUEZ, San Mateo/Laytonville. DUI, suspended license for DUI.
CHRISTOPHER WOOD JR., Mendocino. DUI, failure to appear.
WHERE ARE THE CHURCHES?
What’s wrong with this picture? Billions for an already bloated defense budget, a lot less for social services, and neither program can be scrutinized by outsiders — the public, for instance. Defense spending is touted as being necessary for our security, and no one bats an eye. Social services are treated like an afterthought, with no regard to people’s real suffering.
Homelessness and hunger are rampant in the richest country in the world, and politicians dare prate about “welfare cheats,” and they are clearly the most egregious abusers of the system. Pols are elected and given absurd powers, and there are no criteria established to follow. The very people who cry the loudest are the very people who contribute absolutely nothing to the betterment of our country, and certainly nothing to benefit anyone actually in need. It’s obscene.
Lastly, where are the churches? For a nation supposedly built on Christian values, I have yet to see anything resembling the teachings of Christ. In bitterness,
Rev. Terry L. Wolfe
PETE GREGSON of Advance Power Solar-Hydro-Wid in Calpella writes:
Many years ago a lady hired me to “fix” her off-grid solar system. Even though it had not been fully installed, but designed, she was not happy. And nothing like an unhappy woman. So she gets a friend of hers, who’s a pilot to fly to Ukiah, pick me up and fly me to northeast of Stockton, Valley something, can’t remember town name. So anyways, I was in the front right seat, the pilot was in the front left seat and the lady was in the back seat. Seems like half way through the flight the pilot took off his earphones and asked, “What’s that noise?” “WTF?” I didn’t have a clue. “It’s your plane. Then he looked at me and said, “Oh, your door’s open.”
* * *
When doing a system in Alaska, the only way to get to the island was to fly or take a long, slow boat. So, fly was the directive. Seemed to me he was flying seriously close to the top of all the mountains we were going over. As in, it seemed like he missed the tops of the mountains by inches. But what do I know? All along the trip he kept, with his right hand, forefinger, tapping on this gauge in front of me. It would pop back and forth from totally left no see’um to somewhere between middle and full right. So after a while: WTF? The close calls over the hill jumps wasn’t important any more. So I asked him: “What’s that gauge?” “That’s the fuel gauge,” he replied.
WHAT OAKLAND, CALIF., TELLS US ABOUT WHY POLICE REFORM IS SO HARD
“The Riders Come Out at Night,” by Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham, is a case study of corruption and reform within a single police department — with implications for all of us.
It’s been more than two years since protesters filled the streets of America’s cities, since we all saw the video of a police officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck. And yet killings at the hands of law enforcement, by various metrics, continue at a steady pace.
Set aside for a moment the debates about crime rates and the calls to abolish the police (or, at the other extreme, to place officers beyond criticism). Ask instead what it would take to hold police accountable for abuses, in a minimally satisfying way, and what role civilians can or should play. How many protesters went on to join a citizen oversight board? How many knocked on doors for district attorney or sheriff candidates who promised change?
And how long until we witness the next George Floyd, and another cycle of outrage, reform and backsliding?
It’s hard not to ask such cynical questions after reading “The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption, and Cover-Up in Oakland,” an exhaustive case study of policing in the Bay Area city by the reporters Ali Winston and Darwin Bond-Graham. “More has been done to try to reform the Oakland Police Department than any other police force in the United States,” they write, arguing that the racially mixed city of less than half a million holds “parallels for other communities that have struggled to reign in the coercive arm of the state.”
The main parallel seems to be: True reform is nearly impossible. By zooming in geographically, but also stretching out their timeline — the town had a racist mayor who unleashed police officers against Chinese immigrants back in 1879 — the authors conjure a sense of chronic tragedy. A culture of corruption and violence keeps flourishing despite repeated good faith efforts to stop the bad apples, who continue to show up, generation after generation, to spoil the barrel.
The book’s title calls to mind the night riders associated with the Ku Klux Klan, but it’s also a metaphor that feels fresher than the one about apples: “Night” represents the moments when the public lets up on scrutinizing the police. Yet the “Riders” of the title were also a group of real cops. In 2000, a rookie officer in Oakland named Keith Batt found himself in training under Clarence Mabanag, who collected misconduct complaints “like baseball cards” and worked with a coterie of sadistic officers. Oaklanders accused the Riders of an astonishing range of violent acts, as well as of falsifying reports, planting evidence and using racial slurs. When Winston and Bond-Graham suspect we may still reserve a shred of sympathy for these men — who were, after all, facing daily danger in high-crime areas — we get a detailed account of them shooting dogs. And bragging about it.
Their fellow officers mostly failed to speak up — to do so was to risk being labeled a snitch and becoming a target for retaliation. But a month after joining the force, Keith Batt did speak up. (He also quit his job.) Thanks in part to his testimony, some of the Riders were brought to trial on criminal charges. But defense lawyers portrayed them as merely following orders “to be aggressive.” None were convicted. One fled the United States and was reportedly last seen in Cancún, Mexico. Some jurors may have embraced the idea that the officers suffered from “noble cause corruption” — they had gone too far, but only in the service of a good cause. Winston and Bond-Graham argue that the trials “established a narrative inside the department that the Riders were innocent, and that the scandal was really about politicians giving cops marching orders and then abandoning those same officers once their ugly methods became public.”
The city of Oakland was already paying out millions in local taxpayer dollars every year to settle misconduct cases. As criminal proceedings against the Riders got underway, a couple of enterprising social justice lawyers also mounted a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 119 people — all victims, the lawyers claimed, of the officers’ abusive or illegal behavior. The Oakland Police Department settled the case and agreed to make a series of reforms under the supervision of an independent monitor, an arrangement that may soon end after roughly two decades.
Journalists who give crooked cops the book treatment — most recently in “We Own This City,” “I Got a Monster” and “Jimmy the King” — tend to look backward at what made scandals possible. Winston and Bond-Graham spend more time on history than most, drawing a line from Oakland authorities’ racism toward Asian immigrants in the 1800s to their Ku Klux Klan ties in the 1920s and onward to high-profile police killings in the rest of the century.
“When reforms do happen, they are rarely incorporated into an agency’s culture, which is often driven by a reactionary ethos passed down through generations of rank-and-file cops,” they write. “Resistance to change imposed from outsiders, especially civilians, is baked into police culture in the United States.” And yet the authors make a case for civilian oversight by presenting civilians — civil rights lawyers, community activists, grieving parents of those killed by police — as the heroes of their stories.
While Winston and Bond-Graham treat some episodes with a granularity that may be of interest only to Bay Area residents, in a way this is a strength of the book: You cannot accuse these reporters of importing outside narratives to fit this community. Every city contemplating the future of its police force could use a book like this.
“The Riders Come Out at Night” includes some familiar names, which serve as anchors for nonlocal readers and reinforce the notion that Oakland’s history is relevant to the national story of 20th-century urban neglect, crime and heavy-handed policing. We learn about the tragic rise and fall of Huey Newton, from Black Panther Party co-founder hounded by the police to crime boss. We learn how Robert Mueller, then the U.S. attorney for Northern California, declined to prosecute the Riders or investigate the department, for reasons that may have had to do with the demographics of the Riders’ victims — mainly Black Oaklanders with histories of drug use and crime. Finally, we learn how Jerry Brown, the mayor of Oakland during the Riders’ trials, joined 1990s Democrats in promoting policies that “were even tougher on crimes” than Republicans’ own.
The opportunism and hypocrisy are often galling if not surprising, but the authors break newer ground by chronicling what happened after the monitor came in. Other city police departments have faced similar oversight through “consent decrees,” usually at the behest of the Department of Justice, and their record of success is mixed.
In Oakland, even a progressive police chief, working with the outside monitor, failed to transform the department’s internal culture, leading in 2015 to a shocking scandal in which numerous officers sexually exploited the same young woman. One of the officers committed suicide. His wife had died a year earlier, following an altercation with her husband, and while her death was also ruled a suicide, Winston and Bond-Graham appear to share her family’s skepticism of that explanation.
Elsewhere in the book, we see officers violate policy during a traffic stop and manhunt, putting their own lives at risk. These passages underscore a point that isn’t made often enough in our current, polarized moment: Dysfunction and corruption among officers aren’t just bad for the community, they’re bad for the officers themselves. Perhaps this insight may offer hope as we strive for a vision of public safety that doesn’t ask more of police departments than they should be expected to deliver, but does ask more of the public. If we agree the police can’t police themselves, then they need us.
THIS GUY'S GOING TO BE CRIMINALLY CHARGED, This San Francisco Street Woman Is At Last Being Hospitalized
Two days after a San Francisco art gallery owner sprayed her with a garden hose on a sidewalk in the posh Jackson Square neighborhood, the homeless woman nonprofit workers and officials know as “Q” was receiving treatment in a local hospital, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said.
It was unclear as of Wednesday what Q was being treated for. Police were investigating the incident that was recorded and posted online by a chef from a nearby bakery, with plans to present the case to city prosecutors for a charging decision.…
THE LOST SOUL
When I was a child
I earnestly promised
that had I the chance
to meet a beggar
upon the road
I would treat every beggar
It seemed so simple
I smiled smugly
clad in robes and sandals
and poor lepers
I would be
The Good Samaritan
had I only the chance
Promises are easy
when you live in a small town
in the fifties…
Now it is the nineties
I live in the city
I walk through
plague stricken beggars
outside my office
they yell like a broken record
so many times
they make me really irritated
I wonder where they "really" live
Why does "that one" wear
different clothes every day?
Why does "that one"
have a brand new hardbound book?
"did you see that special on Dateline?"
total con artists
Jesus, what suckers they must think we are!
Then last night
as I was trudging home
tired after a stressful workday
I noticed a man
huddled on the church
He wasn't asking for money
a smug child
and a broken
— emjay wilson
IS CALIFORNIA’S DROUGHT OVER?
by Alastair Bland
The year 2023 began with a historic bang — record precipitation and disastrous flooding throughout much of California. Parched watersheds soaked up the first rains, but soon became waterlogged. Runoff accelerated. Sodden hillsides collapsed. Rural levees burst and rivers spilled their banks. Towns went underwater. People died.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Ocean continued to whip up more atmospheric rivers and “bomb cyclones,” and one after another, these intense storms pummeled California. Abruptly, a state emerging from the dust of three painfully dry years was inundated with more water than it knew what to do with.
But the wet and wild weather over the past dozen days won’t end the drought, at least not yet, and it won’t undo the driest period in the West in the past 1,200 years.
About 71% of California is still experiencing “severe” drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. That designation is based on a long list of complex metrics, including soil moisture, water shortages, levels of streams and lakes, snow cover and runoff. The storms also come at a time when scientists are predicting a long-term shift toward a warmer, drier climate.
With at least two more storms approaching California over the next week, we look at what all this means for drought conditions and water supply.…
ESTHER MOBLEY: "Given the widespread devastation, it’s hard to spin these storms as anything other than bad news. And yet, for one sector of California, these storms have been almost uniformly good news. I’m talking about vineyards.
“We are delighted to get this rain,” said Claire Ramey of Healdsburg’s Ramey Wine Cellars. “We’ll take as much rain as we can get.”
This is the best time of year for rain for vineyards. Grape vines are dormant during the winter. These months represent the plants’ moment to recharge between the fall’s harvest and the spring’s budbreak — which signals the start of the year’s growing season. A wet winter is ideal for vines, replenishing the soils and filling up wells that will be used for irrigation later in the year. This burst of rain is a welcome reprieve from the dry, drought-ridden winters of recent memory."
When the rain came I thought you'd leave
'Cause I knew how much you loved the sun
But you chose to stay, stay and keep me warm
Through the darkest nights I've ever known
If the mandolin wind couldn't change a thing
Then I know I love ya
Oh, the snow fell without a break
Buffalo died in the frozen fields you know
Through the coldest winter in almost fourteen years
I couldn't believe you kept a smile
Now I can rest assured knowing that we've seen the worst
And I know I love ya
Oh, I never was good with romantic words
So the next few lines come really hard
Don't have much but what I've got is yours
Except of course my steel guitar
Ha, 'cause I know you don't play
But I'll teach you one day
Because I love ya
I recall the night we knelt and prayed
Noticing your face was thin and pale
I found it hard to hide my tears
I felt ashamed I felt I'd let you down
No mandolin wind couldn't change a thing
Couldn't change a thing no, no
Ooh, ooh, ooh
The coldest winter in almost 14 years
Could never, never change your mind, ooh
And I love ya
Yes indeed, and I love ya
And I love ya
Lordy I love ya, woohoo
And I love ya
Lord, I love ya
— Roderick Stewart (1971)
WATER PLANNING, an on-line comment:
Perhaps instead of building a high speed rail system, we can defer that project and invest more in rain catchment systems to inject the water into the aquifers. Particularly in the Central Valley where it’s critical for agriculture. And before all the naysayers jump on the “Almonds/grapes/cotton wastes water!” bandwagon, they need to consider that agriculture is the economic backbone of this state. Unless y’all are prepared to replace the lost taxation agriculture provides to the state’s coffers, y’all need to find another poster child for water-waste… like, oh, I don’t know… illegal cannabis grows?
The technology is out there to recover and inject runoff back into the aquifers, we just need the fiscal foresight to invest in it. Better above ground storage is a good idea as well. Climate change is here to stay because the world didn’t have the will to decrease greenhouse gas emissions; if we don’t develop some initiative soon, humanity may just as well kiss our collective asses good-bye. Improved management of our liquid resources needs to begin now, not later. Especially in my beloved home state.
THE FEUDING HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS
Devil Anse Hatfield and his horse. He was credited as being a good horseman and very knowledgeable in good “horseflesh”. I think Anse called this beautiful horse “Abe”.
Notice the lever action Winchester and the ammo belt across his shoulder. Many have written that Anse was never without either his rifle or his revolver, but most of the time he carried both.
Colorized Photo. Probably taken in the Mingo area of West Virginia circa 1890-1900.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Confidential documents found at a Biden “think tank”. A Biden think tank! Let that sink in. “Deafening silence” from the MSM. These are top secret “original copies” of state secrets. When confronted Biden stated that he now “remembers forgetting” about these years ago.
THE MYTH OF THE “MODERATE REPUBLICAN” — and Why It’s So Dangerous
by Norman Solomon & Jeff Cohen
The current notion of a "moderate Republican" is an oxymoron that helps to move the country rightward. Last week, every one of the GOP's so-called "moderates" voted to install House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who won with the avid support of Donald Trump and got over the finish line by catering to such fascistic colleagues as Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert. Recent news reports by many outlets—including the Washington Post, USA Today, The Hill,Bloomberg, CNN, NBC, Reuters, HuffPost, and countless others—have popularized the idea of "moderate Republicans" in the House. The New York Times reported on "centrist Republicans." But those "moderates" and "centrists" are actively supporting neofascist leadership.
Notably, Joe Biden made this implausible claim while campaigning in May 2019: "The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends." During his celebratory victory speech in November 2020, Biden bemoaned "the refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another," proclaimed that the American people "want us to cooperate" and pledged "that's the choice I'll make."
Those who aid and abet right-wing extremism are part of the march toward fascism.
Later, as president, Biden came to a point when—in a ballyhooed speech last September—he offered some acknowledgment of ongoing Republican extremism, saying: "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. Now, I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country."
But as with routine media coverage, Biden does not acknowledge that every Republican now in the House is functionally a "MAGA Republican." Claiming otherwise—calling some of them "moderate Republicans"—is like saying that someone who drives a getaway car during an armed robbery isn't a criminal. Those who aid and abet right-wing extremism are part of the march toward fascism.
If a handful of—by some accounts a half-dozen, by others as many as 20—House Republicans are "moderates," then such media framing normalizes and legitimizes their tacit teamwork with the likes of Trump and ultra-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene that made McCarthy the speaker. In the process, the slickly evasive language makes possible the continual slippage of public reference points ever-further to the right.
So, during last week's multiple ballots that concluded with McCarthy's win, Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska was portrayed in the news as a "moderate Republican" who talked of seeking Democratic votes to help elect McCarthy and of possibly working with Democrats to find a "moderate" GOP speaker. Bacon labeled the anti-McCarthy holdouts "cowboys" and "the Taliban."
But if Bacon is a "moderate Republican," it's odd that he would help lead a rally before the 2020 election with MAGA firebrand and Students for Trump leader Charlie Kirk, which ended with a yell from Bacon: "Making America great again!" Or that he voted both times against impeaching President Trump, including after the Jan. 6 Capitol assault. Or that he cosponsors the extreme Life at Conception Act. Or that he has questioned climate science: "I don't think we know for certain how much of climate change is being caused by normal cyclical changes in weather versus human causes."
Looking ahead, you can bet that after years of being touted as "Republican moderates" in Congress, a few will be trotted out in prime time at the 2024 Republican National Convention to assure the nation that the party's nominee—whether Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis or some other extremist candidate—is a great fit for the presidency. The impacts of such deception will owe a lot to the frequent media coverage that distinguishes between the most dangerously unhinged Republican politicians who dominate the House and the "moderate" ones who make that domination possible.
Applying adjectives like "moderate" to congressional Republicans is much worse than merely bad word choices. Our language "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish," George Orwell wrote, "but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." And dangerous ones.
WHAT PROGRESSIVES NEED TO LEARN FROM REPUBLICANS About Forcing Concessions From Party Leaders
Power concedes nothing without a demand, as holdout Republicans demonstrated by demanding concessions for their vote for speaker. Progressives should have done the same in 2021.
by Briahna Joy Gray
For the first time in 100 years, the House majority wasn’t able to decide on a speaker in the usual fashion. Representative Kevin McCarthy had to make numerous concessions to holdout members of his party who refused to vote for him. After 11 rounds of voting, McCarthy had still fallen short of the 218 votes needed to secure the speakership spot and even had even lost votes. Because the Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House, McCarthy could only lose four of his own members. Finally, after 15 rounds of voting and negotiating, McCarthy managed to “claw[ed] his way to victory,” wrote the New York Times.
Despite the historically rare nature of a failed speakership vote, the events of the past week have been far from unexpected. First, a vocal anti-McCarthy faction had been signaling its intent not to vote for McCarthy without significant concessions for weeks, as I’ve pointed out on Rising. Second, as many progressives know, we’ve been here before.
In 2021, a movement known as Force the Vote advocated for progressives in the House to do precisely what a rogue faction of Republicans did, but to use their leverage to fight for the people. They declined to do so. Now, Republicans have shown how much power coalition politics can garner. And despite coping on social media with selfies and gags about eating popcorn while Republicans flailed, progressives, as they’re so called, are the ones who have egg on their faces.
The fact is that the rogue Republican plan to secure concessions from the Republican establishment worked. For example, McCarthy agreed to a rule that would make it easier to oust a sitting speaker as well as a concession that gives “the ultraconservative faction approval over a third of the seats on the powerful Rules Committee, which controls what legislation reaches the floor and how it is debated.”…
AMERICA NEEDS TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION ON RUSSIAGATE
The #TwitterFiles offer just the latest reasons why, but it's long been obvious that unwinding the Big Lie would be a key first step on this country's road to healing
by Matt Taibbi
A new thread today in the #TwitterFiles is about a fake news story from early 2018:
Remember this one? Russian bots and trolls were blamed by virtually every major news organization in the country for amplifying the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo. The files contain a mass of emails from executives blowing up this ridiculous story, once and for all.
The #ReleaseTheMemo scandal was one of the more shameful episodes in the recent history of our media, but taken seriously by all but one or two mainstream editors at the time. All citing the same dubious source — the Hamilton 68 “dashboard” trumpeted by former FBI counterintelligence official and current MSNBC contributor Clint Watts — they insisted Russians deployed Twitter bot-armies to whip up cyber-support for Republican congressmann Devin Nunes. Nunes had just released a classified memo alleging Democrats and the FBI used the infamous paid oppositional research dossier of ex-spy Christopher Steele to obtain secret FISA surveillance authority on Trump-connected figures like Carter Page, amid other improprieties.
We now know Twitter internally found no evidence, as in zero, that Russians were anywhere near this story.
“I just reviewed the accounts that posted the first 50 tweets with #releasethememo,” wrote a piqued Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth, in all other respects as loyal a Democratic partisan as can be imagined. “None of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.”
“These hashtags are organic,” said a second.
“Not seeing it,” said a third.
This is a constant theme in the files. In addition to revelations about FBI censorship, shadow-banning, Pentagon use of fake accounts, and suppression of true information about issues like Covid-19, the Twitter emails regularly expose the wide delta between what we were told about foreign threats, and what a major platform seeing the raw data knew. Even within the heavily partisan culture at Twitter, the regular “Russia, Russia, Russia” claims by politicians and media in self-serving pursuit of headlines caused eyes to roll.
“Members,” said one Twitter executive, “look foolish if they cry ‘Russia’ every time something happens on social media.”
We have a lot of problems in this country, and there are serious arguments to be had between blue and red about all sorts of issues, from immigration to the wealth gap to abortion and race. But the country is currently paralyzed by distrust of media that runs so deep that it prevents real dialogue, and that situation can’t be resolved until the corporate press swallows its pride and admits the clock has finally run out on its seven years of loony Russia conspiracies.
It’s over, you nitwits. It’s time to stow the Mueller votive candles, cop to the coverage pileup created by years of errors, and start the reconciliation process.
You’ll be tempted to shout, “But Trump, Stop the Steal, QAnon — Derp!”Don’t do it. Don’t be the Japanese soldier still clutching a bayonet to defend the forgotten atoll in 1960. Forget Trump: you need to clean your own house first. Expunging the years of absurd deceptions has to happen, if media companies ever want wide audiences to trust them again, and that starts with admitting the obvious screwups — like this case.
The #ReleaseTheMemo tale took place at the peak of McCarthyite mania about omnipresent Russian saboteurs infecting domestic discourse. They were blamed not just for whipping up support for Nunes, but for hashtags like #SchumerShutdown, #ParklandShooting, even #GunControlNow. They did all this to “widen the divide” between Americans, according to a not-at-all-kidding New York Times, whose sources then included the disgraced think tank New Knowledge (later outed in the New York Timesitself for creating a fake Russian influence campaign, in an Alabama Senate race) and the aforementioned Hamilton 68, which “worked with” New Knowledge.
In the case of both #SchumerShutdown and especially #ReleaseTheMemo, it’s undeniable thanks to #TwitterFiles emails that Twitter’s executives were aghast at the “Russian bots” story, and struggled to convince both media and members of Congress not to repeat assertions of Russian influence in public.
Yet three influential Democrats, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal and the House’s tireless, still-yapping Russiagate mascot, Adam Schiff, were determined to go there. Twitter execs scrambled anyway to try to stop each. After a lot of pleading, one staffer for “DiFI” — Feinstein — finally agreed it would be “helpful to know” how their main source Hamilton 68, created under the auspices of the German Marshall Fund and the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), came to “decide an account is a Russian influencer.”
It apparently didn’t occur to the DiFi staffer, or to Senator Feinstein herself, to ask this crucial question of how Watts and Hamilton 68 were identifying Russians beforethe Senator published an open letter with Schiff citing it as proof of Russian perfidy. Absolutely blind, in other words, they declared #ReleaseTheMemo to be Russian propaganda, saying it benefited from the “assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.”
Hamilton 68’s front page still features a drawing of Vladimir Putin tossing bouquets of evil red Twitter birds into the atmosphere. Its lead paragraph also still features a quote from former Director of National Intelligence (now CNN contributor ) James Clapper, most famous for lying to Congress about the NSA surveillance program subsequently exposed by Ed Snowden. On the Hamilton 68 page, which purports to provide a “real-time look at Russian propaganda,” Clapper warned that having interfered in 2016, Russians were now beginning to “prep the battlefield” for 2018.
Twitter Global Communications chief Emily Horne described Hamilton’s analytical method as one might an icky thing held by tweezers at arm’s length. “Hamilton 68 does not release the accounts that make up their dashboard,” she wrote, “so no one can verify the accounts they include are in fact Russian automated accounts.”
That this preposterous parody of a web analytic tool was taken seriously by reporters for years is embarrassing enough. That U.S. Senators relied upon it as a sole source in the #ReleaseTheMemo episode shows how desperate they were to change the subject, to deflect from a Nunes memo later proved correct by an Inspector General’s report.
Blumenthal in some ways was more craven than Feinstein or even Schiff. His people approached Twitter after Feinstein published her letter, because Blumenthal “wanted to send a followup letter.” Twitter executives foolishly believed this meant there was a window to talk the Senator out of doing so.
One suggested “it might be worth nudging Blumenthal’s staffer” to the effect that “it could be in his boss’ best interest not to go out there, because it could come back to make him look silly.” Another tried to “wave him off” because “we don’t think these are bots.” In one instance a Twitter comms official proposed bargaining with Blumenthal, essentially asking him to hold his fire on #ReleaseTheMemo in exchange for an unnamed future concession. “It seems like there are other wins we can offer him,” she wrote.
Blumenthal and his staffers instead blew them all off, and went ahead to publish their own own open letter later, warning that “nefarious” Russians out to “discredit” the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller were certainly using the deplorable #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag.
“We find it reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated Russian citizens,” Blumenthal wrote.
Seeing this, Twitter execs realized “Blumenthal isn’t looking for real and nuanced solutions,” but rather “just wants to get credit for pushing us further.” They eventually compared their relationship to Congress to the children’s book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, i.e. if you even answer a question about whether or not an account is a Russian bot, you get rewarded — even if you answer the question in the negative — with “round after round of requests.”
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that if Twitter wasn’t actually seeing Russian bots driving #ReleaseTheMemo, that the countless news stories that argued as much citing a single flawed source, Hamilton 68, were wrong.
That’s a lot of news stories, starting with entries by NBC, ABC, Associated Press, PBS, Washington Post, New York Times, Slate, Voice of America,RFE/RL, CBC, Salon,MSNBC, Bloomberg, Rolling Stone,and countless others, and that’s not counting broadcast, radio, podcasts, etc.
In this case, we’re adding a whole new peak of wrong stories to another range of known wrong stories: the multitudinous articles that came out around the same time declaring, with absolute certainty, that the Nunes memo about FISA abuse and the misuse of the Steele dossier (among other things) was not just wrong, but possible grounds to have Nunes removed from office.
These included pieces like “Nunes Memo is Slide Toward Abuse of Power,” “Highly Debated Nunes Memo on Alleged FISA Abuses Furthers Conspiracy Theories,” “The Nunes Memo Proves One Thing, and It’s the Opposite of What It Wants to Prove,” “Nunes Memo Reveals Congressman’s Penchant for Conspiracy Theories,” “Nail in the Coffin for the Nunes Memo,” etc., etc., etc.
A typical editorial take on the Nunes memo back then sounded like Eugene Robinson’s, at the Washington Post:
It’s simply not possible, on any level, to take seriously the histrionics from Trump and his true-believer allies over the Nunes memo — except as evidence of how far the GOP has plunged into cynicism and madness.
Again, the “madness” of the Nunes memo was verified as true just under two years later, with the release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report. Without getting into the weeds of those stories, Horowitz, no Republican partisan, found the same things Nunes did: that the Steele dossier played a “central and essential role” in the FBI’s effort to secure FISA surveillance authority of Trump-linked figures, that those warrant applications were riddled with errors and lies, and the Steele reporting itself was at best highly suspect.
I reached out for comment to a long list of people associated with pushing the “#ReleaseTheMemo is Russian propaganda” tale, from Schiff to Blumenthal to editors at the Times, Politico,theAPand others. Every last one refused comment. Who did have something to say? Devin Nunes, who was the subject of removal campaigns by the likes of MoveOn and the Action Network just for writing his “Nunes memo,” which again, turned out to be correct.
“Schiff and the Democrats falsely claimed Russians were behind the Release the Memo hashtag, all my investigative work, and Trump’s entire presidency,” he said this week. “By spreading the Russia collusion hoax, they instigated one of the greatest outbreaks of mass delusion in U.S. history.”
You may argue with the politics of Devin Nunes — even I might — but as an investigator in this matter he told the truth, while counterparts like Schiff and Feinstein did not. Virtually all major media outlets share in the profound shame of implying that Nunes was a witting or unwitting agent of Russia just for writing a memo that turned out to be true. Moreover, by exacerbating a public panic in moments like this, both these press outlets and politicians like Schiff, Blumenthal, and Eric Swalwell (who said Nunes sought to “torch every floor” of the FBI) really did feed a “mass delusion,” for which they need to answer.
By the way, if the Steele report is wrong, and it is, that’s another K2-sized peak of Russia stories that has to be tossed out, from tales implying Russia had an ability to blackmail Trump or recruited him to be a spy in the eighties to suggestions — there were a lot of them, in print — that Trump agreed to soft-peddle Russia policy in exchange for Russian favors. Years of Steele-centric CNN and MSNBC broadcasts have to be apologized for. Rachel Maddow went on air in January of 2017 and argued the Steele material must be right, because the FBI would tell us otherwise, and “They’re not saying that. They’re not saying anything.”
Some outlets have chosen to try to sneak through this scandal, and sweep the problem under a rug. Many for a while now have pumped out features designed to convey the impression they never made the mistakes they did. The Washington Post,for example, which won a share of a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting that included dire warnings about “a troubling pattern of fictitious news stories” pushed out by Russians “across social media,” quietly ran a piece last week about a study by New York University concluding, “Russian trolls on Twitter had little influence on 2016 voters.” They didn’t mention their own history of saying otherwise, and being rewarded for doing so, in the article.
This won’t do. The catastrophe has to be met head-on, and admitted at scale, in order for any of these actors to be redeemed. They won’t listen to me, of course, since I was pegged “right wing” years ago for dissenting on this matter. As the New York Timesput it, my “fan base” shifted because I was “skeptical of claims of collusion between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign.” Never mind that I was right to be skeptical, and that this is the approach any ethical journalist would have taken: their position is that because such skepticism pleased the wrong people, it’s evidence of shifting political beliefs.
If they want to keep that up in my case, fine. But if they want to regain anything like the broad authority they once had with audiences everywhere, they need to face this thing. It may take a bigger evidentiary shock than even the Twitter Files can provide to these recalcitrant editors, but who’s to say such a thing isn’t coming?
UKRAINE, THURSDAY, 12TH JANUARY
Russia appointed a new head for its so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine, just three months after the previous commander was chosen.
Intense fighting continues around the key eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, with Ukraine claiming Russian forces are “suffering heavy losses” while denying the Wagner mercenary group's claims that it has taken control of the area.
Poland announced it will send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine as countries step up their support for Kyiv. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said the US will soon begin training Ukrainian soldiers on the Patriot missile system in Oklahoma.