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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Sunny | Treefall | Lighthouse Keepers | Stormy Harbor | Covid Sites | Arcata Farm | Sinkhole Update | Pudding Skimmer | Huff Cancels | Fives | Bales Speaks | Button Gallery | Reopening Party | Help Pebbles | Old Garberville | Happily Retired | Portal Death | Annual Farce | Sinnott Talk | Laytonville Dump | Yesterday's Catch | Croz Glance | Stop Marxing | Homeless Problem | Bullwinkle Tracks | Wine Forecast | Watching | Country Folk | Mercenary Lunch | Substitute Teachers | Train Crossing | Union Busting | Debtor's Prison | Nuclear Stone | Moonshine | Putin=Hitler | Debt Ceiling | Ukraine | Alien Visit | Mountain Home | Hunter

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A SLOW WARMING TREND will begin and continue next week. Light coastal drizzle to a few light rain showers over Del Norte County will be possible Saturday. Otherwise, dry conditions are expected for the next week. (NWS)

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Mendocino Storm Damage

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Thanks to the great efforts of the Lighthouse Maintenance crew of Mark Moelter and Brian McDougall and volunteer and Lifetime Member Paul Rowson the Point Arena Light Station's damaged perimeter fences have been repaired! This means the Light Station can reopen a day earlier than planned, so our gates will be open at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 19. Please let all your friends and family know we are open for business again!(Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers)

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Stormy Noyo Harbor

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PUBLIC HEALTH’S TEST TO TREAT SITES, which offered on-site COVID testing and treatments, will close in Mendocino County in late January 2023. The closure is due to OptumServe, the Test to Treat provider, ending services in the County. The last days the sites will be open are:

• Ukiah Test to Treat: Thursday, January 19th, 2023
• Fort Bragg Test to Treat: Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

COVID tests and treatments are still widely available in the county, despite the closure of the OptumServe Test to Treat sites. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Medical Providers across the county offer both testing and treatment options, and COVID tests are easy to find at local pharmacies.

If you do test positive, treatments are available by contacting your health provider. If you don’t have a provider, you can make a free telehealth appointment with Sesame Care to get treatments. COVID treatments are very effective at making the infection less severe and making it less likely you will need to go to the hospital.

Public Health still strongly encourages taking home COVID tests before and after travel and before attending large gatherings. Please contact the Public Health Call Center at 707-472-2759 if you have questions or want help finding tests or treatments. You can also visit the Testing webpage to find testing opportunities around the county.

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Arcata Farm, 1887

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Mendocino County Social Services will be on site at the property this Friday, January 20, 2023 at 11:00 am to meet with residents and direct them to any additional services. All residents are encouraged to attend this meeting so they may ascertain what resources may be available to them.

The temporary bridge to the site will be installed on January 24, 2023. Caltrans has mandated that this will be exit only traffic from January 25th to January 26th due to traffic safety restrictions. Vehicles will only be allowed to enter the property to assist with towing travel trailers or similar with prior approval. The bridge will be removed on January 27, 2023. The installation and removal of the bridge may alter some of the foot access paths, so residents should not rely on existing foot access paths to remain after the bridge is installed and removed. At this time there is no existing plan for permanent access to the site, so this will seriously compromise the ability of sewer, garbage and emergency response to provide services to the site.

Mendocino County Code Enforcement and Environmental Health issued an inspection warrant on January 18, 2023, and will be evaluating the property this week to further investigate health and safety concerns as noted by the Public Health Officer in the advisory. 

(County Presser)

photo courtesy of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office


The temporary bridge to the site will be installed Jan. 24 and removed Jan. 27, allowing residents and guests a brief period to leave the property.

by Kylie Lawrence

A temporary bridge is set to be installed on a Mendocino County road where a sinkhole that opened up weeks ago has stranded some 50 residents and guests at a cabin and RV resort.

The sinkhole developed before the New Year’s holiday on a private road off Highway 101 between Arnold and Willits that leads to Creekside Cabins RV Park and Resort.

As heavy rain and flooding from recent storms continued, the hole grew, spanning the width of the road and leaving residents unable to drive in or out of the property for more than two weeks. 

The temporary bridge to the site will be installed Jan. 24, according to the Mendocino County Executive Office.

Caltrans announced Dec. 31 that maintenance and repair of the road was the responsibility of the property owner, Teresa Thurman. But since then, Thurman has indicated that she will not take action to fix the hole, according to Mendocino County.

The issue was then referred to Mendocino County Code Enforcement, and Caltrans, which opted to install the temporary span to help people leave the property.

Vehicles will only be able to use the temporary bridge to exit the property from Jan. 25 to 26 due to traffic safety restrictions, excluding vehicles that have been approved to enter the property to assist with towing trailers.

The bridge is set to be removed Jan. 27.

Currently, there is no plan for permanent access to the site.

“This will seriously compromise the ability of sewer, garbage and emergency response to provide services to the site,” the county said in its Thursday news release.

A call to Thurman on Thursday was not returned by the end of day. She has not responded to calls for comment since Jan. 4.

On Wednesday, county code enforcement and environmental health officials issued an inspection warrant and announced plans to evaluate the property and assess ongoing health and safety concerns.

Those included lack of access to medical supplies and emergency medical care from first responders, food and other necessities, as well as overflowing septic tanks and garbage.

Residents of the site have not sat idly by. One attempted to build a makeshift bridge and drive across it in his SUV, according to the online publication MendoFever. The car is now stuck in the creek adjacent to the property.

Others have attempted to hitch rides away from the site.

It is not the first time tenants of Thurman’s properties have faced trying circumstances.

In 2005, Houser Holdings LLC, a company owned by Theresa Thurman, purchased Sonoma Grove RV park in Rohnert Park.

Thurman hired attorneys to contest city rent control limits meant to safeguard affordable housing for low-income residents. She nearly doubled the price of some residents’ rent in February 2005, as reported at the time by The Press Democrat. 

Thurman also previously owned U Wanna Camp in Lakeport, with a land-use permit mandating that the property only be used for short-term stays. In 2010, the county claimed that RVs were parked there for months at a time, violating the permit, according to a Lake County News article from 2010.

A search of Mendocino County Superior Court records showed Thurman has been taken to small claims court twice, in 2012 and 2018, and was sued for failure to pay back a loan under $10,000 in 2009.

Mendocino County social services officials will be on site Friday morning to meet with residents and direct them to available resources. In the meantime, the county reiterated that residents should now be packing up their belongings and be prepared to leave once the temporary bridge is in place.


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Skimming Pudding Creek

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Congressman Huffman Just Cancelled

Dear Anderson Vally Community,

I received a phone call and a note a few minutes ago, Congressman Huffman has cancelled. I sent a written brief requesting support. I will keep trying to get help for your kids.

Dear Anderson Valley Community,

I need some help. This community has stepped up twice with two bond measures. We need some funds to increase our efforts. I need you to contact this link and say we need help replacing our septic systems with federal funds. A letter of support will not do it. We need money. If our children lived in Healdsburg, Windsor, or Santa Rosa, they would get it. What will it take to achieve parity in health and safety for school facilities?

I am outraged that the congressman's aide has offered me a letter of support. I don't need a letter. I need money to make sure our kids can go to the bathroom.

Huffman Email:

I assure you this does not happen in rich neighborhoods...

My note to Huffman's helper:

Mrs. Anderson,

Thanks for your call. To reiterate, I would love to meet with the congressman and discuss the health and safety needs of my district one on one without involving the students. It is unacceptable to me that a congressman would have such a massive health and safety failure in a public school setting and offer no financial support. When you're rescheduling, please let me know and I'll welcome you to my old district office for a one-on-one talk about our health and safety hazards.

His assistant offered me a letter of support. I don't need a letter. I need money to fix the health and safety infrastructure so the children can go to the bathroom.

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What

Cell: 707-684-1017

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US Currency Issued by National Bank of Arcata, 1913

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BALES SPEAKS (but doesn’t answer the basic question)


Alicia Bales announces her new project: Listen here


Hello! This is Alicia bales, welcoming you to my new podcast, Unmanageable with Alicia Bales, News From the Unruly People and Places of Mendocino County, California. I’m looking forward to continuing the same kind of urgent in-depth and local coverage that I did on KZYX.

But first I really want to thank you for the incredible outpouring of support over the last week. It’s impossible to express how much it means to me. To those of you who’ve taken the time to leave messages, email, text, post, and call into on air shows, I’m humbled by your faith in me. At some point I /will/ talk in detail about my perspective about what has happened at KZYX. I think my experience illustrates a wider problem with the nonprofit structure and how it often fails to protect staff members who do essential work for our communities. But for now I’m still pretty stunned, as you can imagine, and trying to get my legs under me and figure out my next steps. Your outspoken support has meant everything. Thank you.

I’m very proud of my time at KZYX and I’m taking away an invaluable lesson that I wanted to share with you. My work is KZYX’s program director was guided by the core values of inclusiveness, transparency, equity and community engagement. All of my efforts at the station from emergency announcements during fires, evidence based and interactive pandemic programming, recruiting and supporting voices from all parts of our community, supporting and expanding local news, all of it was based on these principles. My purpose was to inform and empower our magnificent community and to create a sense of place and belonging here in Mendocino County. We have a rich and a wild history. We’ve been through a lot and our stories are important. My work reflects my belief that our collective voices matter. When we are connected with each other and understand the workings of our local power structures, we have the power to create a meaningful and just future together.

Putting these values into practice at KZYX. I learned that they actually work –like they work in a practical way you heard and felt the difference and for that I’m so gratified. I hope KZYX will reflect on what’s been accomplished, realize that transparency, inclusiveness and /meaningful engagement/ with the community are essential to the success of the station and carry on with this vision in the years to come.

Moving forward into the future I’d like to build on the success and the lessons that I learned at KZYX and continue supporting our community. We have serious challenges ahead. But here in Mendocino County there are legions of innovative, outspoken, inspiring visionaries working to create solutions, practice new forms of governance and land management, address the atrocities of our past and make sure all of us are included in the decisions that affect us. It’s been my privilege to support and amplify your voices and that’s what I hope to continue doing in the years to come.

Unmanageable with Alicia Bales, News From the Unruly People and Places of Mendocino County, California, and you can subscribe through Spotify and soon everywhere else where you get your podcasts. The first episode will drop this weekend. It’s a report of the victory by a dedicated group of people led by local indigenous activists to stop PG&E from cutting down a tree that has an /occupied eagle’s nest/. The group held vigil for weeks outside in the rain during the bomb cyclone and relentless atmospheric rivers we’ve just lived through to save the home of a pair of eagles from senseless destruction by PG&E. I’m excited to bring you their voices and share this and /so/ many more stories with you of our unruly neighbors and irrepressible landscapes. Please join me, subscribe and stay tuned. You can email me at with comments, questions and suggestions for future episodes. I love you all, thank you so much for your support and trust.

For the Unmanageable podcast. I’m Alicia Bales. Thanks for listening.

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Dear Community,

Thank you for the incredible outpouring of support, it’s impossible to express how much it means to me. To those of you who have taken the time to leave a message, email, text, post and call-in, I am humbled by your faith in me. At some point I will talk in detail about my perspective about what has happened at KZYX, mostly because I think my experience illustrates a wider problem with the nonprofit structure and how it often fails to protect staff members who do essential work for our communities. But for now I am still pretty stunned, as you can imagine, and trying to get my legs under me and figure out my next steps. Your outspoken support has meant everything. Thank you.

I am very proud of my time at KZYX, and I am taking away an invaluable lesson that I want to share with you. My work as Program Director was guided by the core values of inclusivity, transparency, equity, and community engagement. All of my efforts at the station, from emergency announcements during fires, evidence-based and interactive pandemic programming, recruiting and supporting voices from all parts of our community, supporting and expanding local news–all of it was based on these principles, with the goal of informing and empowering our magnificent community and creating a sense of place and belonging. We have a rich and wild history here in Mendocino County. We’ve been through a lot, and our stories are important. My work reflects my belief that our collective voices matter. When we are connected with each other, and understand the workings of our local power structures, we have the power to create a meaningful and just future together.

Putting these values into practice at KZYX, I learned that these values actually WORK. You heard and felt the difference, and for that I am so gratified! I hope KZYX will reflect on what has been accomplished, realize that transparency, inclusiveness and meaningful engagement with the community are essential to the success of the station, and carry on with this vision in the years to come.

Moving forward into the future, I will keep doing this work, just not at KZYX. I would like to build on the successes at KZYX to continue supporting our community. We have serious challenges ahead. Here in Mendocino County there are legions of innovative, outspoken, inspiring visionaries working to create solutions, practice new forms of governance and land-management, address the atrocities of the past, and make sure all of us are included in the decisions that affect us. It has been my privilege to support and amplify your voices, and that’s what I hope to continue doing in the years to come. In the meantime, I am starting a podcast to continue the kind of local reporting I was doing at KZYX. It’s called “Unmanageable with Alicia Bales, News from the Unruly People and Places of Mendocino County, California,” and you can listen to first episode here: <>

This is an uncertain time for me. If you would like to send financial support to help keep me and my family afloat during this unexpected transition, my venmo is: @Alicia-Bales and my paypal is: <>

I love you all, thank you so much for your support and trust.

Alicia Littletree Bales

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A few observations from a longtime KZYX programmer:

The person who fired Program Director Alicia was Marty Durlin, a woman. As General Manager, she alone has the power to hire & fire staff, as well as to tend the Bottom Line. The GM is hired by the board of directors. A 501C3 non-profit org, KZYX is run by the publicly elected or interim-appointed board of directors.

By law (CA? or...?), personnel matters are confidential. Alicia has not spoken publicly since she was offed. Presumably she is no longer sworn to silence.

KZYX-Z is funded by gvnt grants, business underwriting, several major donors, & contribution$$$ by members/listeners. Despite the impression that "member/listener-supported community radio" is a democracy, a contribution is not a vote. Ideally, community input to the staff — specifically the program director — can influence what is broadcast.

Inevitably, in the absence of information, stories fly anyhow. Statements put out by the board send a message that Alicia's firing is carved in stone.

The next regular KZ board meeting will be Zoomed at 5pm Tuesday January 31. The link will be posted at that day. Comments to & will be entered into the record. At the beginning of the meeting, live public expression, 3 minutes apiece, will be taken.

The Discussion, the open lines call-in shows, are Monday evenings 7-8. 707-895-2448

"See" you there then.

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Rick Sacks: Why would she want to be reinstated to work alongside those she can't trust and respect?

Marco McClean: Some combination of the money, Stockholm syndrome and cult identity, sense of insult, maybe, anxiety and embarrassment of powerlessness that might go away if the illusion of some power were recovered, perhaps even a deposed good-guy sense of mission. Alicia is in a place many others have been and will be. I'd be very surprised if she ever speaks candidly of what happened and why. And the boss and the rest of the hierarchy of the cult certainly will never.

John Sakowicz: It's all about the money, Marco. Except for KZYX, Alicia Bales is otherwise unemployable. Before KZYX, she was an unemployed voice coach and actress. Before KZYX, she worked in unskilled jobs at Orr Hot Springs and the Ukiah Brewery. Poor Marty Durlin.

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Fort Bragg: On Friday, January 6, during one of the recent storms, Button Quinn held the opening of Cobalt Gallery on North Main Street, which she owns and will operate. Quinn intends to display her own artwork for the first three months.

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Greetings from the Board of the AV Historical Society. As always, the AV History Museum has been closed during December and January, but the AVHS Board is looking happily ahead to our February reopening. Can spring be far behind? This year, we’ve decided to throw a Reopening Party and Open House as our first day action in 2023. We’ll be opening up the doors on Saturday, February 4, at 1:00 p.m. and welcoming one and all. We’ll have some fun door prizes, some snacks and some drinks. Nothing fancy, but since when do we have to get fancy to have fun around here? To make the afternoon even more entertaining, we’ll have our extensive postcard collection on display. These are both postcards of local interest and cards from far flung places around the country and the globe, all of which have been donated to the museum by Anderson Valley locals over the years. Everybody loves old postcards!

Be sure to mark Saturday, February 4, on your calendar for an enjoyable get-together at your favorite Little Red Schoolhouse History Museum. Fingers crossed for a nice sunny day, but even if the rain moves us inside, that’s no problem at our beautiful and always interesting museum. The Rose Room holds a party’s worth of friends and neighbors quite comfortably. All are invited, and entry is free. 

We also wanted you to be on the lookout for our new upcoming events series we’re calling AV Valley Chats. These occasional events will feature a variety of local hosts. We’ll have longtime locals telling stories of the old days or giving us the history of local establishments, artists showing their work, and writers reading from stories and memoirs. It will all be informal, and we’re hoping each evening will lead to some lively discussions. We’ll be publishing a schedule soon, complete with names and dates.

See you on the 4th.

Jerry Karp


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As of today, Pebbles is safe but in a temporary living situation & has a loving local community rallying around her. Her home is uninhabitable. Her health has deteriorated. One emergency after another has drained her savings. As a radical spirit, as independent as they come, residing off-grid for decades, she is now in need of assistance. Her property is in the process of being sold. Low-income senior benefits are being secured. But in the meantime, she needs funds for incidentals that are essential to remaining as independent as possible, like a cell phone & transportation. Possibly even an automobile or an uber account. Pebbles will soon also have her own patreon account, an online forum where folks can subscribe to support her while she shares her archives & future thoughts. While all of the above gets sorted out & set up, this gofundme is still needed for immediate support. Pebbles has dedicated her life and financial resources to helping others. In this spirit, we have dedicated time and resources of our own into helping a woman who has so little, yet deserves so much as a treasured elder of the cannabis community. We are asking you to join us wholeheartedly in donating what you have to offer. Please help us help Pebbles.

A bit more of herstory in Pebbles own words:

What I did was endure the consequences of my civil disobedience, rather than take an easy plea for felony transportation & get it over with squandering my opportunity, & eventually getting somewhere worth the effort, proving others could do the same. By losing at the trial court level, I actually gained: 1) the right to transport medicine you can legally possess, which became the 5th right in Prop 215 (left out of the original initiative). 2) the quantity standard which is the amount "reasonably related" to your medical condition, now known as the Trippet standard. The Court replaced the 6 plant limit numbers game with a legal standard patients were entitled to based on voter intent. In 2010, People v Kelly involved an AIDS patient prosecuted & convicted of growing 8 plants instead of 6, to which the CA Supreme Court replied: 'That's not what the voters intended.' Since I based my case on constitutional rights, the Court took it more seriously & commented, 'This is one of those rare times when both defense and prosecution agree,' affirming the Trippet standard in Kelly in 2010. Let this be a long view lesson. This process took 20 years (1990-2010) including appeals - with 10 prosecutions in 5 counties in 11 years. I prolonged my low income status as long as I could until I finally concluded with deteriorating health, that selling the land was the best option for maintaining my independence & using some of the $ to collaborate with viable community projects for the greater good. Most people don't know I worked hard for these results, without regrets. I wouldn't ask if I didn't have to but I know my limits and I've reached them.

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Garberville, 1920s

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MICHAEL TURNER: Concerning Jeff Burroughs complaints about the AVC Health Center. Kudos to Mark Apfel. With his departure local patients are now experiencing what’s been going on around the country for the last decade. And it’s not good.

Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes.

1) Triage by the least competent. This has long been a problem in medicine: untrained people answering phones and prioritizing patient care. There used to be some checks, when I first came to Ukiah my office had a receptionist who had worked there 20 years. She knew the patients and had the ear of all the doctors.. Nowadays receptionists are replaceable parts, underpaid and uninterested.

2) Everybody is too busy. Doing what?, you ask? Entering data into the computer. The demands of the electronic medical record tyrannize the workday. Doctors and nurses are working nonstop, entering endless amounts of data. It’s a hermetic world, quite apart from direct communication with patients on the phone or even walking into the office. Direct patient contact is actually an interruption of their workday.

It all reminds me of something an older colleague said to me in the early days of managed care: “Gosh, under this new paradigm, the best patients are those that never come in at all!”

Michael Turner MD, happily retired.

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2023 Homeless Point In Time (PIT) Count

Volunteers Needed to Complete Surveys

Mendocino County, CA - The Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care (MCHSCoC) will be conducting its annual unsheltered Point-In-Time (PIT) Count which will begin at sunset on January 26, 2023, and run through the following week. The Point in Time (PIT) Count is mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and is used by the State of California and multiple Federal Departments to calculate allocations of homeless services funding. The data received through the PIT Count will help our local community to identify needs and develop planning to engage and support those persons experiencing homelessness throughout Mendocino County.

The Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care is a group of agencies that consist of service providers, non-profits, faith-based organizations, community members, and Mendocino County staff. These individuals and agencies come together to help address the needs of those who are experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness. This undertaking requires a lot of individuals performing many different tasks in preparation for this event, as well as surveying individuals and families experiencing homelessness throughout Mendocino County. We need volunteers to count along the Coast as well as Southern and Northern Inland portions of Mendocino County.

If you would like to volunteer, please sign up at If you have questions or would like further information, please contact Veronica Wilson at or (707) 468-7071. 

(County Presser)

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Don’t believe the Point In Time Count is a farce?

ROBERT MARBUT on the Point In Time Count:

(The “Marbut Report” was “accepted in principle” by Mendocino County but its recommendations were ignored.) 

“There is very little useful (eg actionable) County-wide data regarding single adults experiencing homelessness. The Point-in-Time Count (PITC) data is inflated; furthermore, most organizations do not actively participate in the Federally mandated Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This means there is no County-wide comprehensive tracking system at the individual level of individuals experiencing homelessness on a name-byname basis. The overall lack of meaningful data means decision making has often been made based on myths and one-off anecdotes, rather than on hard data. … When PITCs are “incentivized” around the USA, like the giving out of grocery cards in exchange for participation, there is often over counting. In some cases, individuals change their name and information so they can receive another incentive. In other cases, volunteers give out more than one incentive to an individual or pocket the incentive thus inflating the numbers. Additional problems occur when volunteers count vehicles and building structures, and then apply nonscientific multipliers instead of counting actual people. These inflationary multipliers are often based on assumptions and not on rigorous data modeling. When it comes to counting within encampments, the numbers are often highly inflated since “recent activity or presence of individuals” is often counted rather than counting actual observed individuals. Furthermore, because of weather and police activities, people often move between encampment sites which often means an individual’s “activity” ends up being counted multiple times at multiple sites rather than only once at the site where they are actually currently living. Additionally, good or bad weather on the day of the count can also increase or decrease the number of volunteer counters thus affecting the overall efficacy of the count. Weather can also change the patterns of individuals experiencing homelessness. Finally, when the count time is extended past a 24-hour period, individuals are sometimes counted more than once at different locations.” 

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Everyone is invited to my talk this Saturday at 4pm, part of the Point Arena Lighthouse Lecture series:

“A working artist’s life and how one magic intersection birthed a living-history mural full of portraits of people you know!”

What made me the artist that I am and how did recent life events revolve around the corner of Church and Oak in downtown Ukiah? 

It all started in Wisconsin’s dairyland, where I was raised by an artist mother and poet father. My mom supported us on graphic design, and as a toddler I worked at a little table alongside her. Our house was filled with paintings and books. It was the Age of Aquarius and I knew I was supposed to be at Woodstock, but it was impossible. I was ten…

See an illustrated bio and the whole project here.

See the Lighthouse Lecture Series here.

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DON’T LOOK FOR A MEGAPHONE HERE: The Laytonville Dump; the rest of the story

by Jim Shields

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been involved with the Laytonville landfill since the early 90s when the debate first raged about closing the damn thing.

Back then Jim Eddie, of Potter Valley, was our supervisor.

Eddie’s take on people who were demanding — and demonstrating at the dump — that the landfill be closed because of alleged contamination issues was, “Protesters are not going to tell us how to run our dumps.”

Here’s the advice I gave the Supes in 1993:

“The answer to the current dilemma lies with county officials taking a very reasonable course of action. Based on what is in the record now — no one knows for certain whether the dump is toxic or not — the Board of Supervisors, acting under its broad emergency powers, simply closes the dump now and continues with the mandatory closure procedures — including all the testing and monitoring requirements — under state and federal law. At the same time, the county should open a waste transfer station in the Laytonville area — again under its emergency authority. Put succinctly, the Laytonville dump is not worth fighting over any longer. Whatever happens concerning the county’s landfill crisis, you can be assured of two things. The issue is not going away and, right now, we are a long way from solving it.”

Guess what?

The Board of Supervisors actually did what I recommended, but as I also predicted, the issue didn’t go away, and we’re still a long way from solving it nearly 30 years later.

Contrary to the totally groundless allegations of Peggy Smith Hoaglin for past three decades that our drinking water is contaminated, one thing is for certain:

After years and years of water quality testing that continue to date on an ongoing basis, no contamination attributable to the Laytonville Dump site or any other point source of contamination, has ever been detected in the water produced and provided by the Laytonville County Water District. That is the same conclusion reached by every regulatory agency and consulting organization that have conducted investigations and water quality testing related to the long-closed landfill.

Laytonville’s drinking water is produced from two wells that pump water from an inter-connected 17,000 acre-foot aquifer that is bordered by Highway 101 on the east and Ten Mile Creek to the west, a mile and a half east of the old dump. Our aquifer is the underground remnant of the pre-historic Lake Laytonville, that once filled our high mountain valley. We treat our water to remove iron, manganese and arsenic to meet all EPA standards. 

Ms. Hoaglin and Jon Spitz recently joined together in a group calling itself the “Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice.” 

On January 5th, I published in the Observer a Laytonville landfill story by Sarah Reith, who’s the news director at KZYX and a reporter.

As someone who has many years experience dealing with the landfill as both a local government official (Laytonville Water District, Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council) and media type (editor and publisher of Mendocino County Observer, news program on KPFN), I thought Reith did a fine job capturing the landfill’s history, as well as covering recent developments. Reith interviewed the County’s Director of Transportation, Howard Dashiell, who oversees the closed landfill, a Cahto Tribe environmental consultant, representatives, including Hoaglin and Spitz, of the Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice, and yours truly. Her piece was well-written, cogent, and informative. 

Last week, I used her story as part of my Saturday radio show on KPFN. Both reader and listener comments were positive and appreciative of her report.

Surprisingly and for inexplicable reasons, Spitz complains in a letter-to-the-editor that Reith’s outstanding piece lacked “critical reporting.” 

Balderdash and nonsense.

Most of his letter is a grievance lodged against Reith for not acting as a megaphone for his group. He clearly expected Reith to conform to his belief that her role in the interview was that as stenographer not journalist.

To characterize his reaction to Reith’s story as over-the-top is an understatement.

Spitz actually criticizes me for doing my job conducting water quality tests:

“Shields acknowledges that it is the Laytonville County Water District that is testing wells on the unincorporated land adjacent to the dump/landfill even though it is not their responsibility to do so. Residents of Laytonville should not have to depend on the Laytonville County Water District with its limited funds and lack of expertise monitoring toxic waste sites, that is a job for CalEPA.”

Spitz demonstrates an appalling lack of knowledge about the sworn duties of the administrator of a local government public water utility. We are required by law to protect and safeguard the public health of our customers and constituents. We do that in many ways, but mainly by water quality testing.

I’m shocked chagrined, and surprised by his preposterous demand that I cease testing. 

I guarantee you that is not ever going to happen.

What now follows are Reith’s report, then Spitz’s letter, and lastly Sarah Reith’s response to it.

* * *


by Sarah Reith


Scheduled maintenance at the Laytonville landfill has led to calls for more rigorous groundwater testing and a long-awaited agreement between state and county agencies and the Cahto tribe, whose rancheria is right next door to the closed dump site.

The Mendocino County-owned landfill was shut down in 1993, amid vigorous environmental protests. It was capped in 1997. In 2002 and 2003, the county received multiple letters from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, referring to “a breakdown in discussions with the Cahto Tribe for an access agreement necessary for installation of the proposed background wells” to investigate the groundwater. 

The Water Board wrote that, “In order to develop a comprehensive monitoring well network, background wells will need to be constructed on Cahto Tribe lands adjacent to the Site.” For that to happen, the Tribe and the county would have to make an access agreement and the project would have to be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Last year, the County Department of Transportation issued a request for proposals from contractors to undertake a major renovation of the landfill cap, from fixing up access roads on the seven-acre site to replacing worn-out drainage pipes. The work was put on hold after the Cahto Tribe initiated government-to-government consultations with the California Environmental Protection Agency over its concerns about the landfill. 

The county submitted its plans for the cap repair in 2020, the same year as a report showing that one of the wells had detected groundwater contamination. That triggered a requirement that the county step up its monitoring program and submit a feasibility study for corrective action.

Since then, there’s been a flurry of correspondence involving the Tribe, the Water Board, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US and California Environmental Protective Agencies, county supervisors, community activists, and the Laytonville County Water District. 

The Tribe has now signed memorandums of understanding with the county and CalEPA to work together to monitor the site based on cultural relevance, with tribal input. Howard Dashiell, the head of the Mendocino County Department of Transportation, says the new request for proposals will formalize the county’s obligation to work with the Tribe.

“What the Board (of Supervisors) recently approved was a Memorandum of Understanding that we would collaborate with the Cahto Tribe,” he said; “that we would collaborate with them and have a mechanism for telling them about progress on a cap maintenance project.” Dashiell added that the new search for a contractor will include a stipulation about keeping the Tribe, and the town of Laytonville, apprised of the work that’s being done. “The new RFP will be roughly the same as the old one, except it will inform the consultant that they need to put in their scope of work, time for public meetings in the Laytonville community, at least one, and then with the tribal government, at least two, and to work with the tribal government’s technical representative as they develop the design. So the scope is changed to accommodate the MOU for communication with the Tribe.”

Dietrick McGinnis is a Nevada-based environmental consultant who started monitoring the groundwater on the Cahto Rancheria about five years ago.

“I”ve worked for Tribes for about 22 years, in Nevada and California,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a county and a Tribe come together for an MOU regarding an environmental concern. The county was directed to do this by the Water Board, and we’re really happy to see it…And to see the state ask for it, I think, is very respectful of tribal sovereignty. Going forward, I hope we can work together. Just synchronizing sampling events between the landfill and the Tribe increases the quality of the data we produce — or the quality of the interpretation from that data.”

His work is still in the assessment phase, but he suspects that remediation may be necessary. “Over the last few years, we’ve put in remote sensing equipment, and done regular analysis on surface water and groundwater,” he reported. “We’ve found some releases, most likely from the landfill, coming into shallow groundwater, and some hints of volatile organic compounds in surface water that originates from the landfill itself…we’re picking up little bits of acetone, some plasticizers, things that indicate origins at the landfill, but are not in concentrations that have been terribly remarkable. But we’re doing an assessment right now, so we’re just simply following those hints to see how bad the problem is…Unfortunately, we see a lot of this in Indian Country, where these types of sites end up adjacent to tribal trust property. In this case, we have what is essentially rural residential property with an industrial site next door…this isn’t where landfills are supposed to go. They’re supposed to be far away from homes and people and children. And this is doubled down on when we look at these in Indian Country, because the Tribe wants to utilize their natural resources to reflect their cultural values. Harvesting the fish, the plants. And when they collect these things and consume them, they’re getting an increased exposure to what’s released by sites like this. So it’s almost like doubling down on the bad. It should have never been located here, because the Tribe was here before the landfill. And these homes, many of them were here before the landfill. And then it deprived the Tribe of the opportunity to harvest some of these things on their own property.”

On the county side of the landfill, there is a network of ten wells, plus gas probes and devices that monitor the depth and pressure of the groundwater. A 2020 report found that the well on the southeast corner of the site showed increased levels of several elements, including iron, manganese, chloride, calcium, sodium, sulfate and arsenic. Yana Garcia, the Secretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency, wrote Supervisors John Haschak and Dan Gjerde a letter on December 13, saying that additional groundwater monitoring locations and an updated inspection plan are part of the landfill renovation that she expects will take about two years. 

On the Rancheria side, McGinnis wants to put in a half-dozen more monitoring wells. “I’ve got three 20-foot wells, and two of them are showing signs of being negatively affected by the landfill,” he said. “The third not being negatively affected actually provides me with a bit of a control. The depth (of the new wells) will actually be dependent on what we find as we drill. It wouldn’t surprise me if we end up going anywhere between 50 and 100 feet.” McGinnis added that the Tribe is open to working with the state, county or federal government to achieve a complete assessment. “And a complete assessment will require wells all around the site, to complement those that already exist,” he said. “The Tribe’s a little bit ahead, because I do have a few monitoring wells I’ve been able to work with. So I can design over here today. But hopefully we can design for the rest of the community soon. And encourage them to put in a system that will provide a complete picture of groundwater conditions around the landfill.” 

It won’t be cheap. “This is not an inexpensive endeavor,” McGinnis acknowledged. “I think that we’re going to see, at least on this side of things, at least another million dollars spent before we have a good handle on it. Expanding the system could double that price. And then cleaning up landfills, if you get lucky and it isn’t much of a problem, you know, it can only be seven figures. If it goes the other way, you just start putting zeros behind things.” He hastened to add that the project is “very much in the assessment phase right now, so I hate to scare anybody. But it’s not ten thousand dollars.” He thinks he could spend half a million dollars on a first phase groundwater assessment, and another half million for soil analysis.

McGinnis said the work has been funded so far mainly by federal grants specific to the Tribe, which has leveraged the funds for more grants from the EPA, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The Tribe has also received Environmental Justice funding from the State of California, “which I think speaks loudly to what this problem really means,” McGinnis concluded.

Peggy Hoaglin, who founded the Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice over the summer, recalls her history of living close to the landfill. (Hoaglin is not affiliated with the Cahto Tribe.) In the 1980’s, she said the dump caught on fire regularly, causing her to experience exhaustion, headaches, and flu-like symptoms for days afterwards. “When you live under a dump, you think everyone lives under dumps,” she said. In 1993, she called her county supervisor and told him, “I’m chaining myself to that dump, and you’ll never dump on me again. That’s what I did. So I chained myself to that dump, and I went to jail for the very first time in my life.”

Hoaglin attributes her own ongoing health problems, the death of her husband, and illnesses among her neighbors to contaminants in the landfill. I checked with one of the neighbors she mentioned, and that person does not attribute their health problems to the dump, and said their well water has tested clean. 

The Rancheria receives water from the Laytonville County Water District, which tests for a number of industrial contaminants, according to District Manager Jim Shields. The district water is treated for iron, manganese, and arsenic, which are naturally occurring contaminants in the area. About twenty years ago, the district got a grant to upgrade its water treatment plant.

“That water is perfectly safe to use for all purposes,” said Shields. “We do thousands of tests a year. We do tests we don’t even have to do. We’re not even required by any of our regulatory agencies to test for PCB and hexavalent chromium. We do that on our own. We do tests, on a regular basis, for PCBs and chrome 6. I’ve done that from day one. Why do I do it when we don’t have to do it? I do it because I’m a responsible member of this community. I listen to people. If people have concerns over those issues, I’m going to do what I can to ensure and guarantee that there are not those sorts of contamination risks here. In fact, we just completed our annual PCB and chrome 6 tests. They’re very expensive to do, and once again, it came up negative. Especially the test for PCBs. It’s a very broad scale kind of full-gamut test. Never, ever, ever have we ever found any of that in our water.”

Shields says he also tests private wells, where the water is untreated. “We continue to test private drinking wells,” he emphasized. “They are the drinking wells that are immediately adjacent to the landfill. There’s an old well on the rez that’s no longer active. It hasn’t been active on the rez since 1969, because they’ve been on city water since then. So these wells that we test, and we’re primarily testing them for PCBs and chrome 6, they are literally right next door to the landfill, downslope gradient, so that if there’s anything escaping or migrating off of that landfill, boy, most likely, you’re going to see that stuff in those wells.”

Hexavalent chrome is a highly toxic industrial contaminant that has been found in the north county. In 1996, the City of Willits sued Remco Hydraulics over the improper disposal of toxins used in its chrome-plating and manufacturing business. Other lawsuits followed, including one from a family whose five-year-old son died after playing in Baechtel Creek, which was contaminated with chromium. Shields, who is the long-time editor of the Laytonville Observer, says he followed the investigations closely, and he doesn’t think the material was dumped as far north as Laytonville. He recalls hearing from Remco workers, in formal as well as less formal settings.

“Their testimony was, no, we dumped all that stuff down here in Willits,” he recalled. “What my friend said, and it made sense, was, why would we load up chrome 6 and haul it 22 miles north to Laytonville? Why would we do that?”

Still, county Supervisors John Haschak and Dan Gjerde, who represent Laytonville since post-census redistricting shifted parts of Bell Springs Road and Spyrock to the Fourth District, asked the state to review previous studies and conduct more testing, if it’s warranted. The water district signed on to the county’s request. 

“The more testing and investigation of that landfill and the adjacent areas, the better,” Shields declared.

* * *


To the Editor:

Non-tribal Victims of Laytonville Dump/Landfill Ignored Once Again

As Chairperson of the Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice (LAFEJ), I was dismayed by the lack of critical reporting by Sarah Reith in her report, “Cahto Tribe Demands Groundwater Testing at the Defunct Laytonville Landfill,” published in the January 6, 2023, Mendocino County Observer. 

The sole purpose of LAFEJ is to advocate for Laytonville residents who do not live on the Cahto Tribe Rancheria to the South and East of the Laytonville dump/landfill, that is, people who live on the unincorporated land to the North and West which is administered by Mendocino County. Reading Reith’s entire article, you wouldn’t even know there is a whole neighborhood of people living on the unincorporated land to the North of the dump/landfill, and a family ranch to the West.

The only comments from LAFEJ quoted by Reith were from Peggy Hoaglin telling her story of how in the 1980s ash and smoke emanating from dump fires caused her to experience exhaustion, headaches, and flu-like symptoms for days afterwards, and how she protested to close the dump 30 years ago in 1993. Hoaglin’s comments were taken completely out of context by Reith. As we (LAFEJ) informed her, for 25 years the Laytonville dump/landfill operated as an “open burn dump” similar to the “burn pits” in Iraq that have caused severe health problems to US soldiers who served there. Without this important context, Reith has trivialized Hoaglin’s health concerns.

We provided Reith with a health survey conducted in 2018 by the environmental justice group GreenAction that indicated a cancer rate over three times higher in the area around the dump/landfill as the average cancer rate in California. Reith made no mention of this health survey in her article, instead choosing to discount Hoaglin’s health concerns as unsubstantiated because someone she spoke to said their health problems were not attributable to the dump/landfill. Again, by leaving out important context, Reith has trivialized Hoaglin’s health concerns related to the dump/landfill. 

Reading Reith’s report, you wouldn’t know that the Laytonville dump was constructed in 1968 before local dumps were regulated and the dump has no lining on the bottom to prevent rainwater from infiltrating through the household garbage and industrial waste into the groundwater. You also wouldn’t know that the cap built over the dump/landfill to prevent rainwater from flowing through has a history of failure letting rainwater seep in. Without this relevant context that we provided Reith for her report, the general public can’t possibly understand why we Laytonville residents are so concerned about the dump/landfill contaminating groundwater.

Reading Reith’s report, you wouldn’t know that CalRecycle, the State agency charged with managing these old legacy dump/landfills, has falsely claimed that the land “within one mile” North of the dump is “unoccupied,” when in fact there is an entire neighborhood of homes there. Without this relevant context that we provided to Reith, the general public can’t possibly understand why local residents feel so ignored by State authorities. 

The Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice is asking for CalEPA (California Environmental Protection Agency) to provide the same level of support services for people living on the unincorporated land as for people living on the Cahto Rancheria. Currently, CalEPA is working with the Cahto Tribe to put in “additional groundwater monitoring locations” on the Rancheria, but they are providing no such support services for people living on the unincorporated land. In interviews with Cahto Tribe environmental consultant Dietrick McGinnis, and with Laytonville County Water District manager Jim Shields, Reith inadvertently makes our case for us. McGinnis acknowledges that the entire perimeter of the dump/landfill must be tested and that a proper testing regime would cost up to two million dollars. Shields acknowledges that it is the Laytonville County Water District that is testing wells on the unincorporated land adjacent to the dump/landfill even though it is not their responsibility to do so. Residents of Laytonville should not have to depend on the Laytonville County Water District with its limited funds and lack of expertise monitoring toxic waste sites, that is a job for CalEPA.

The people living on the unincorporated land to the North and West of the dump/landfill are not represented by the Cahto Tribe, they are represented by 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak. At the end of Reith’s report, she seems to be satisfied that the Laytonville County Water District’s testing is sufficient, and she seems surprised Supervisor Haschak is requesting that CalEPA support more testing on the unincorporated land adjacent to the dump/landfill. Considering all the pertinent information Reith chose to ignore in her report, it’s no wonder she’s so confused.


Jon Spitz, Chair

Laytonville Alliance For Environmental Justice

* * *


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.

I did speak with Spitz and three other members of the Laytonville Alliance for Environmental Justice. Spitz assured me that he would provide me with documents backing up the statements Peggy Hoaglin made to me, as well as pictures documenting what she described. What I got instead were letters chastising various people for not doing exactly what LAFEJ wanted them to do; for not agreeing with the group one hundred percent; and for not being qualified, in their eyes, to do the work they think needs to be done. 

During our interview, LAFEJ members treated me to extreme levels of irrelevant minutiae about various agencies, such as how the water board is connected to CalEPA; how monumental it is that someone thought there were pulp mills instead of timber mills in Laytonville; and how years ago, a government agency conducted a survey that was disastrously flawed because one of the people administering it was underaged. But when I asked one member, who has scientific training, to explain some information about chemical testing on a single sheet she gave me from a 2016 report, she barely deigned to acknowledge my question, let alone provide a satisfactory response. I need answers to questions in order to prepare a critical report. 

When I called and emailed GreenAction about their work in Laytonville, including the health survey, I got no response. I can’t just cite a sort-of scientific survey that’s attributed to a pastor and a non-profit advocacy organization. Those aren’t authoritative sources.

As for "trivializing health concerns," Ms. Hoaglin doesn't have any business discussing the health problems of her neighbors, who called me in distress after learning that she had been publicly opining on the causes of their illnesses without their permission. 

The county side of the landfill contains a network of ten wells that are in fact being regularly monitored by the environmental consulting firm SHN on behalf of the county. Plenty of documents about this are publicly available on the State Water Resources Control Board’s Geo Tracker link. I am fairly certain this indicates that CalEPA does not regard the reporting as amateurish. It is very typical for government agencies to outsource this kind of work to consultants, and to cite it in official correspondence, which I relied upon in my rigorously well-sourced article.

It is insulting for Mr. Spitz to say that I “inadvertently” made his case for him when I quoted a reliable source instead of him and his colleagues, as if I have no idea what I am doing when I cite people who are credible instead of those who impose upon me. It is not my job to make anyone’s case for them. I am not a propagandist.

As for the crowning imposition: at the end of our interview, the LAFEJ members kindly offered to show me the landfill, which was just a few minutes away from my next appointment. I soon realized, to my horror, how foolish and naive I had been when I told them where I was going next. After I took a few pictures of the site, all four of them piled into a car and actually followed me to my next interview, which was on tribal land. 

It is extremely difficult for white reporters like me to establish rapport with tribal people, because they have every reason in the world to avoid us. We have a reputation for bringing about unseemly clamor, which was well-deserved in this case.

It’s the only thing about the story that I am ashamed of: that I wasn’t quick or aggressive enough to chase away a carload of pushy white people so I could present myself on my own merits, as respectfully as I could.

But it is obvious that no one has any grounds to expect respectful treatment from LAFEJ, unless they are content to serve as the organization’s publicity arm, treating all other sources with utmost skepticism. All they wanted me to do was act as an uncritical conduit for their point of view and their priorities. Now they have chosen to denounce me in public for failing to fulfill their unreasonable expectation.

The only thing I am confused about is why they would expect to be taken seriously.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, January 19, 2023

Anderson, Bordelon Cooper, Granillo

DAIZHANIQUE ANDERSON-JOHNSON, Venice/Ukiah. Assault on peace officer, resisting.

KENNETH BORDELON, Willits. Domestic battery, child neglect-abandonment, resisting.

SANDY COOPER, Willits. Stolen property.

EVERARDO GRANILLO, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

Kenyon, McOsker, Roberts, Worden

DOUGLAS KENYON, Willits. Failure to appear.

REMO MCOSKER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

WILLIAM ROBERTS, Willits. Controlled substance for sale, probation revocation.

CHARLES WORDEN, Mendocino. Fugitive from justice.

* * *


Letter to the Editor

“Money for nothing and chicks for free” —Dire Straits 

My girlfriend’s girlfriend was the most beautiful girl in the world. In the evening my girlfriend asked me to ask her if she would like to join us in bed. Staring at me, she crawled onto the mattress in her black panties and bra. I was so young, dumb, and nervous, nothing happened. What an idiot! In the morning we went out for breakfast and then drove over to rock star David Crosby’s house in Novato. The most beautiful girl in the world told me, “I’m not a groupie. I’m a star fucker.” She was intent on fucking Crosby, who was still moving into this house. There was a bent oak tree in the back yard that framed a photo of the band on the cover of CSN’s second album. While the most beautiful girl made herself at home, I helped move mattresses inside, then settled into the breakfast nook with Graham Nash. Another beautiful girl brought me a glass of orange juice. I pulled out a New York joint of bad pot and fired it up, then handed it to Crosby. As he huffed on the joint, he squinted at me, as if to say, “Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing in my house?”

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

* * *

* * *

A REPRESENTATIVE STATEMENT on the homeless, this commenter a resident of Santa Rosa: “I have all of the compassion and empathy in the world, which causes me significant problems personally and professionally. I am a property manager with a large parking lot that struggles with the homeless weekly, and sometimes daily. Right now I am looking out on a dilapidated pull behind camper that I saw early this morning coming into the office. It just so happens to be the same camper that parked in the same location several months ago. At that time I spoke to the person about this being private property and asked them to move. It took several days before they actually did even though he assured me it would be gone “right away”. What happens then is once people see the one camper/car/tent I end up having 2 or 3 more parked because they saw the first one. Then the neighbors start jumping on me because they have families and feel unsafe. Which is perfectly reasonable because 75% of homeless people that park or pitch a tent are high on something or mentally unstable when I try to speak to them. I am sure one of these days I will eventually be attacked regardless how polite and professional I am. When I call the police they will come and talk to them but rarely force them to leave right away. One young man, who I had spoken to many times over the last 6 months and asked them to leave and not return showed up again. He gave one of the most used excuses that his vehicle was not running. (Somehow he got it to our parking lot). He was very nice and played on my empathy, saying that he is working on it and will have it out the next day. Three weeks later— he was still there despite my efforts and the efforts of the police. The thing that made it worse, was that I never saw him working on the vehicle and every time I went out to talk to him, no matter what time of day, he would be asleep in the car. I am tired of picking up the garbage, dealing with the attitudes and spending my time that I should be working on other things. I know any one of us is just one unfortunate event or one or two bad choices away from being in a similar situation. I also know the choices that people make at “the bottom of the barrel” place makes all the difference. I have not lost my compassion or empathy, but there is nothing compassionate about a society letting or enabling people live like this. Enough is enough, the state has spent $billions on this issue, yet from my front window things have only gotten worse. What has been tried is an overall failure.” 

* * *

Bullwinkle, 1914

* * *

THE 2023 FORECAST FOR THE U.S. WINE INDUSTRY is here, and it doesn’t look sunny.

Wine consumption in this country continues to grow at a slower and slower pace. Young people are still drinking a lot less wine than older generations. The rising cachet of wellness culture has rendered wine (and alcohol more generally) into a kind of villain.

And now, on top of it all, a recession may be looming.

These are some of the takeaways from Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the U.S. Wine Industry Report. The study, published Wednesday, is one of the most closely watched barometers of this $61 billion national industry.

None of the report’s major themes are surprising — they are continuations of trends that have been brewing for years. But the current economic climate, coupled with the ongoing slowdown in wine consumption, presents new challenges.

“Nobody in the industry likes bad news,” said Rob McMillan, the founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division and the author of the report. He hopes the data will be a wake-up call to the industry, which is consistently “missing the mark,” he said.

— Esther Mobley

* * *

* * *


I’m sorry to say I’ve never made it to Mexico. Always thought I had time…

But Peru… 

Swarmed by kids trying to sell postcards in the plaza in Cuzco. Those kids can make more money than their parents and that fact is disrupting family life in areas with intense tourist pressure.

One kid had a cold – ok, everyone in Cuzco has a cold, all the time. Instead of buying post cards I bought him cold medicine – and got myself an adopted son.

Then his whole soccer team – Cuzco Strongert (nobody knows what the name means) – adopted me. I sat on the concrete steps next to a vacant lot, drinking chicha, as Strongert smashed the other team 7-0. Each time one of my teammates made a goal, he’d yell out, “This one’s for you gringo!”

Then I got invited to attend Inti Raymi and chow down on roast cui with my new adopted family.

Unsophisticated country folk, they can almost give you faith in humanity, if you aren’t careful.

* * *

Mercenary, El Salvador (1980s) by Derek Hudson

* * *


by Diana Lambert

Becoming a substitute teacher in California has become easier and more financially lucrative in the last few years.

California school districts have struggled to find enough substitute teachers to take over classrooms for absent teachers since the Covid-19 pandemic closed school campuses. Since then many substitute teachers, who are only paid for the days they work, quit or found jobs elsewhere. Some did not want to return to a classroom during the pandemic because of health concerns.

A day-to-day substitute is a contracted worker with no guarantee of daily work. Conversely, substitutes are not required to accept every assignment for which they are called.

Because of an enduring teacher shortage, many districts reduced the number of day-to-day substitute teachers on their rosters when they hired them as teachers on emergency-style permits or as long-term substitutes. To ensure there are enough teachers in each classroom every day, administrators and other credentialed staff often have had to set aside their own work to fill in.

To encourage people to substitute teach some districts began campaigns encouraging parents to take the jobs. Many also increased the daily pay rate for substitutes.

The most common substitute permit issued in California is the Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit, which allows the holder to serve as a day-to-day substitute.

In an effort to encourage more people to substitute teach, state lawmakers approved a number of flexibilities, including temporarily extending the amount of time, from 30 to 60 days, that a substitute can teach in one assignment or classroom. The flexibility is valid until July 2023, when it will revert to the 30-day limit. The flexibility is not available in career technical education classrooms.

Legislators also passed Senate Bill 1397 that waives the need for substitutes to prove basic skills proficiency through July 1, 2024. Substitute teacher candidates usually prove basic skills proficiency by taking a test or completing specific coursework.

Requirements for a substitute teaching permit

Here are the documents that must be submitted to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for an Emergency 30-day Substitute Permit:

• Official transcripts showing the completion of a bachelor’s or higher degree;

• Completed application;

• Information and fingerprints submitted to Live Scan for background check. Live Scan services are available throughout the state and should be paid for at the site;

• Successful completion of required tests or coursework to prove basic skills are usually required, but Senate Bill 1397 waives the basic skills proficiency requirement through July 1, 2024;

• An $100 application fee with a $2.65 service fee for online applications. Fees must be submitted with the application.

A few, more specialized substitute permits, have similar requirements:

• The Emergency Substitute Permit for Prospective Teachers allows students who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program to substitute before earning a bachelor’s degree. The applicant must have completed 90 or more units of coursework, fulfilled the basic skills requirement, paid fees and had a background check.

• The Emergency Career Substitute Permit always allows substitute teachers who have worked in a single school district for more than three years to teach for up to 60 days for any one teacher. After July 1, 2023, holders of this permit will be limited to 20 days in any one special education classroom.

• Emergency Designated Subjects Career Technical Education Permit for 30-Day Substitute Teaching Service allows the holder to teach with a high school diploma and three years of work experience. Substitutes with this permit do not have to prove subject matter competence, but are required to submit an application and fees, and have a background check.

Credentialed retired teachers are eligible to substitute without obtaining an Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit.

Once a substitute has a permit they can apply to join a district or County Office of Education substitute pool on the EdJoin website or through the district website or human resources office.

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Train Crossing in old Guerneville

* * *


by Bernie Sanders

TO: Howard Schultz

Chief Executive Officer

Starbucks Corporation

Dear Mr. Schultz,

I write to express my serious concerns over Starbucks’ concerted and relentless campaign against its workers’ efforts to organize. The National Labor Relations Act declares it to be the policy of the United States to encourage collective bargaining.1 Workers have a fundamental right to organize and participate in workplace democracy without fear of employer interference or retaliation.2

Unfortunately and unacceptably, Starbucks has shown a flagrant disregard for those fundamental freedoms and has engaged in a pattern of egregious unlawful behavior. Therefore, I urge you to immediately halt your aggressive and illegal union busting campaign, resolve any existing violations and pending allegations, and negotiate a first contract with workers that is fair and just.

There have been nearly 500 unfair labor practice cases filed against Starbucks and its affiliates. Further, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued 69 complaints in response to those charges and has sought emergency preliminary injunctive relief in five additional cases in the Federal courts. These allegations include claims that you personally threatened a worker by saying “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you work somewhere else?”3

These violations include discriminatorily discharging more than a dozen union organizers,4 attempting to interfere with workers’ right to distribute and wear union material,5 and refusing to bargain with the union.6 Remarkably, Starbucks argued that a preliminary injunction reinstating seven employees allegedly discharged for unionizing their store in Memphis, Tennessee was unnecessary because the union had prevailed in the election anyway.7

The recent conclusion by the NLRB’s General Counsel that Starbucks unlawfully terminated Jaz Brisack for “the crime” of her courageous and effective union organizing effort in Buffalo is particularly troubling.8

Ms. Brisack’s dedication to her job and her devotion to improving the working conditions at Starbucks should be rewarded and respected. The Buffalo store where she worked became the first Starbucks location to unionize, and since then, in no small part due to her efforts, the Starbucks organizing wave has spread like wildfire. However, rather than embrace Ms. Brisack’s dedication to making Starbucks a better place to work, your company embarked on a ruthless union busting campaign that made her working conditions so untenable that she was forced to resign from her position. In response, she filed an unfair labor practice charge, claiming that Starbucks unlawfully discharged her because of her protected concerted activity and last month, the NLRB found merit to her claims and has issued a complaint against Starbucks.

Such egregious violations alone are bad enough, but it is especially alarming that Starbucks went so far as to have the police called in response to a peaceful congregation of workers after they tried to present their request for union recognition9 and attempted to interfere with an employee testifying in an NLRB proceeding pursuant to a subpoena.10 These actions represent a significant escalation from Starbucks’ previous union busting tactics including holding captive audience meetings and conducting one-on-one “counseling” sessions to isolate pro- union workers.

Starbucks has continued its delay tactics in pending cases, both before the NLRB and in the Federal courts, as well as in bargaining with the union.11 It has been nearly 400 days since the first Starbucks union was certified by the NLRB, and yet you and your company have refused to bargain a first contract in good faith. Instead, you have approached bargaining sessions with increasingly intense obstacles that include shutting down pro-union stores.12

Mr. Schultz, my request to you is simple: Obey the law. Sit down with your workers and bargain in good faith. Agree to a first contract that is fair and just. Stop shutting down pro-union shops and reinstate workers who have been fired for union organizing, including Ms. Brisack. Further, I reiterate my previous request for all relevant material as stated in correspondence dated October 4, 2022, appended below. Please provide these answers and materials no later than February 1, 2023.

This request should not be difficult. Starbucks is a $122 billion-dollar corporation. In the first nine months of last year, Starbucks made $3.3 billion in profits and had enough money to provide its outgoing CEO, Kevin Johnson, with a $60 million golden parachute on top of his 39 percent pay raise. While Starbucks workers have risked their health and well-being to make your company successful during the pandemic, you became $800 million richer and are now worth $3.8 billion.

The American people are growing increasingly disgusted with this type of outrageous corporate greed. As a United States Senator, I have zero tolerance for large, profitable corporations that flagrantly violate labor law, treat their workers with contempt, and refuse to bargain in good faith.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Bernard Sanders

United States Senator

(Bernie Sanders is a US Senator, and the ranking member of the Senate budget committee. He represents the state of Vermont, and is the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress.)

* * *

* * *

OLIVER MAY BE ONTO SOMETHING: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, director Oliver Stone blasted the environmental left's stance on nuclear power as 'wrong' and destructive. Stone is at the famous conference to promote his new documentary 'Nuclear Now!,' about the role nuclear power will play in powering the future of the world.

From Davos, Stone hit out at the global progressive climate brigade for 'derail(ing)' the use of nuclear power.

'We had the solution [nuclear power]...and the environmental movement, to be honest, just derailed it,' he told CNBC. 

'I think the environmental movement did a lot of good, a lot of good. [I’m] not knocking it, but in this one major matter, it was wrong. It was wrong,' he added.

'And what they did was so destructive, because by now we would have 10,000 nuclear reactors built around the world and we would have set an example like France set for us, but no one ...followed France, or Sweden for that matter.'

France and Sweden have, for years, been major proponents of nuclear power, which accounts for roughly one-third of the latter's power supply.

In the United States currently, there are 92 nuclear reactors and 53 nuclear power plants that power tens of millions of homes and support local communities. 

Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is one of the many US progressives who has positioned herself in opposition to nuclear energy. 

The rep's signature piece of legislation - The Green New Deal - does not include any nuclear power and proposes transitioning off nuclear energy 'as soon as possible.' And a documentary featuring AOC pushing for the bill flopped in its opening weekend last month, taking in just $9,667.

Stone is now publicly making the case that nuclear power has been falsely maligned as too dangerous to become an integral part of the energy matrix.

The reality, according to Stone, however, is that nuclear power is abundant, clean and safe. Furthermore, the ongoing climate crisis - that is causing hurricanes to strengthen, fires to rage, and droughts to persist - he says puts the human race in too dire a situation to dismiss the obvious solution that is nuclear.

The documentary, which follows the 2021 releases of several JFK-centric projects directed by Stone, is based on the book 'A Bright Future' by Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist.

Though nuclear power appears to have gripped the hearts and minds of some European nations, other significant activist factions are still hesitant to get on board.

Greenpeace takes the position that nuclear power is 'complex and hugely expensive to build.'

'It also creates huge amounts of hazardous waste,' and claims that 'renewable energy is cheaper and can be installed quickly.'

Though the International Energy Agency takes a difference stance, arguing that 'nuclear power has historically been one of the largest contributors of carbon-free electricity globally.'

'While it faces significant challenges in some countries, it has significant potential to contribute to power sector decarbonization.' 

Stone's latest film received positive reviews. Critics praised the documentary as 'intensely compelling,' and a 'must-see' movie.

Among other things, the film argues that middle and upper-middle class virtue signaling environmental efforts, such as driving electric cars and recycling, won't actually make a difference. But the adoption of nuclear power will, and so, should be an easy position to get behind.

Despite his aggressively socially-conscious stance this century, Stone's most famous and celebrated works are iconic American films including 'Platoon,' 'Wall Street,' and 'Born on the Fourth of July.' 

* * *

This photo of a moonshine still is thought to have been taken in about 1901. Ben Hadaller, the photo's original contributor, found it among his father Matt's possessions. Ben recalled traveling on more than one occasion with his father to a place in Onalaska called "Moonshine Alley" where many locals went to find their moonshine. How to tell if the moonshine is good? Hold a match about an inch-and-a-half above the jug, and if the flame is blue the moonshine is good. 

* * *



In March 1938, Hitler’s army annexed Austria and threatened further occupations. In an attempt to avoid war, Great Britain adopted a policy of appeasement, whereby Hitler was allowed to keep Austria and occupy part of Czechoslovakia, as long as he stopped there. Hitler had no intention of honoring that promise and went on to invade almost all of Europe.

With Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, we have a new generation of appeasers. They say Putin will stop his attacks if only we let him have significant portions of the country. Putin promises he will stop there. But he deeply believes that Russia has an ancestral right to all of Ukraine and much of the old Soviet Union. If appeased, I don’t believe he would stop at the Donbas.

Putin’s troops have brutalized, tortured and executed civilians, just like the Nazis. He has jailed or murdered his opponents, silenced the press and lied about all of it to his own people. The so-called peace activists who call to appease him don’t seem to care about Putin’s brutality and repression or Ukrainians’ right to self-determination.

Why are they parroting the talking points of a brutal, lying dictator? Shame on them!

Elden McFarland


* * *

GOING, GOING, GOING..... NOW WHAT? The U.S. hit its debt ceiling on Thursday, forcing the Treasury Department to start using 'extraordinary measures' so the government can keep paying bills while Congress negotiates to try and avoid an economic meltdown. 

American debt is now at an eye-watering $31.38 trillion - that's 120 percent of GDP, up from 39.2 percent as recently as 2008 and 77.6 percent in 2018 The staggering figure is the highest since the Second World War, equals $246,876 in federal debt per taxpayer and is more than the economies of China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom combined. The 'extraordinary measures', set to be initiated Thursday, refers to accounting workarounds to ensure financial liquidity to keep the government open through at least June, according to a letter sent by Treasury Secretary Yellen to Speaker Kevin McCarthy on January 13. If a deal is not made by the Summer, the fallout could result in a global economic crisis. Since 1960 Congress has raised, extended or revised the debt limit 78 times when the U.S. hits its borrowing cap. Between now and then, Biden and Congress will negotiate to work out an agreement to raise the national debt ceiling which breaks down to $94,213 per citizen, according to the Senate Budget Committee.

* * *


A helicopter crash in the suburbs of Kyiv has killed 14 people, including one child and Ukraine's interior affairs minister - the country's highest-profile casualty since the war began.

Ukraine has launched an investigation into the cause of the crash, but it could take weeks. The BBC has been piecing together what we know and what we don't know in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. 

What happened at the crash site?

BBC Ukraine correspondent James Waterhouse has been reporting from the crash site at Brovary, a suburb on the eastern edge of Kyiv.

At the site, near to a kindergarten, he saw wreckage of the aircraft - a door panel and one of the rotors - along with three bodies covered in foil blankets.

A video of the aftermath of the crash, verified by the BBC, shows flames and smoke across a wide area between high-rise flats and another residential block. Photos also show the nearby kindergarten blackened by smoke.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Ukrainian officials said the glazing of a 14-storey residential building was damaged along with three cars, while the National Emergency Service building was also damaged by the fire.

An eyewitness said she heard "such a noise" before seeing "a terrible flame" and a helicopter "circling above our home".

She said the burning helicopter headed towards one of the smaller buildings in the area.

Was the helicopter under attack?

An analysis of images of the crash site by the BBC has not revealed any evidence of missile debris, and Ukrainian officials have made no mention of any missile fire. 

The news agency Reuters quoted a Ukraine Air Force spokesman telling a TV broadcast that it was too early to talk about the causes. But the spokesman added: "Unfortunately, the sky does not forgive mistakes".

The helicopter crashed at about 08:20 local time (06:20 GMT), just half an hour after sunrise, according to officials. Several videos show cloudy and misty conditions.

It is thought it was travelling east towards the front line. Volodymyr Tymoshko, the head of police in the eastern city of Kharkiv, said in a Facebook post that he was due to meet the officials on board today.

However, we don't know the route the flight took before it came down as data from its location tracking device would have been blocked to avoid detection. 

We have been trying to geolocate other videos purportedly of the helicopter before the crash to establish its route, but have not yet been able to verify them.

We don't know how high the helicopter was flying before it got into trouble, but the BBC's James Waterhouse says helicopters travelling towards the front line often fly at very low altitudes to avoid detection by the enemy.

"We've taken similar trips with ministers, it involved hugging treelines and occasionally vaulting over electricity pylons," he says.

Some analysts have noted there are overhead cables between buildings surrounding the crash site, which may have posed a danger to very low-flying aircraft. However, reporting from the scene, our correspondent says he has not seen any damaged cables in the area.

What do we know about the helicopter?

Ukrainian officials say the helicopter was a Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma used by the State Emergency Service. Red and white debris matching images of these helicopters can be seen in photos of the crash site.

This is not a military helicopter used in combat, and it's often used to transport members of the Ukrainian government. 


* * *

by Alex Schomburg (1964)

* * *


by Dottie Simmons

A suburban child, I am afraid I have been in the mountains so long I can’t even imagine ‘town’ life anymore. It is a hard work life controlled by the turning of the seasons and the whim of nature.

Choosing to live in a relatively remote, rural region comes with sacrifices. The roads are rugged and in a constant state of being reclaimed by the earth. Distances are great: between friends; to stores and services; to entertainment. That distance equals time, so running to town is a half day at bare minimum and a show or movie entails dinner and possibly an overnight stay if you don’t want to starve or get home at midnight.

The smaller population density puts the area at the end of the line for PG&E or telephone line repairs. Road conditions sometimes preclude timely delivery of propane or other supplies. And repair or construction or any kind of work you hire folks for is harder to get and more expensive when you do – for good reason! They have to travel, too.

Driveways are generally long and you have to usually do the maintenance work yourself. Including clearing the snow berm the plow sometimes leaves at the top of the driveway.

You live in nature and nature lives there, too. In difficult times your garden, orchard, poultry and livestock look like survival to the hungry wildlife.

It is a life that can be exhilarating and daunting. We love it.

To live in the mountains you must be close to the earth. You must feel the seasons and accept their ebb and flow. You are taught new skills every day for your entire life. You learn to fill the woodshed before the weather, and to store what you need to hold you should the roads be closed. You learn to have food and water and how to cook and warm yourself when services are down. You learn how to be creative and how to repair things and what tools are important to own so you can.

You hoard spare parts… you learn to tolerate frustration and persevere. You learn how to survive, how to sustain yourself, how to live. It can be hard.

To live in the mountains you learn acceptance. There is no one else to blame but nature, and nature ignores you. You have to surrender. But to live in the mountains you are surrounded every day with beauty and magic and the raw truth of life.

My ‘bright lights’ are the sun, moon, and stars. My ‘big city’ is the mountains around me. Somehow I find myself very content with that and the effort it takes to sustain being here.

I will never again be that person I was all those many years ago.

* * *

Chinese Moso Hunter, 1918


  1. George Hollister January 20, 2023

    Of course Huffman didn’t show, but he got the publicity he wanted. At least he didn’t promise he would see the Superintend in his office in DC. Travel, and hotel costs a lot of money. So feel fortunate.

    • Lazarus January 20, 2023

      I wonder if Huffman dumped the kids to hang with the Gov and Bagman Joe in Capitola.
      And did he reschedule with the AV Super? Doesn’t sound like it.

    • Stephen Rosenthal January 20, 2023

      I never expected him to show. With the exception of a very, very few, like politicians everywhere he’s a fraud.

  2. Chuck Dunbar January 20, 2023


    Judge Sanctions Trump, Habba Early $1 Million for ‘Completely Frivolous’ Clinton Suit

    “A Florida-based federal judge has ordered nearly $1 million in sanctions against Donald Trump and his attorney Alina Habba, calling the former president ‘a mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process.’

    In a blistering 46-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks said Trump’s sprawling lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and dozens of former Justice Department and FBI officials was an almost cartoonish abuse of the legal system.

    ‘Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,’ Middlebrooks wrote. ‘Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer.’”
    By Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein
    POLITICO 1/19/2023

  3. Rick Swanson January 20, 2023

    The skim boarder is my friend Scott Niesen doing his thing at Virgin Creek beach in 1968. I did all of my skimming at Pudding Creek beach. So much fun; no worries of drowning or sharks, just terrible sun burns.

  4. Jim Armstrong January 20, 2023

    I think that is the creek in Creekside.
    What is the difference between a sinkhole and a washout?
    Someone suggested a nice replacement culvert and fill.
    The poor seem to get treated poorly.

  5. Jessica Ehlers January 20, 2023

    I used to participate in the PIT when I worked at the Hospitality Center until Ortner climbed aboard and I climbed out. In other counties, they put on large homeless fairs/events with hair cutting, warm clothing, dental care and more and people come to the event because it’s incentivized that way. While participating in the PIT, I climbed through the underbrush in the pre-dawn and found it super sketchy for myself and these people who are just trying to sleep. I think there has to be a better way? If I hear another person cite the Marbut Report I might lose it. We should use the recommendations from it. They were on point when it was written and it remains so today. What are we waiting for?

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