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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

Dry | Lake Fog | Water Leak | Valley Pictures | Women's Health | Cycling Club | Outflow Increase | Navarro Beach | County Courthouse | Front Porch | Mayor Reflects | Clickbait Ad | Ed Notes | Rancheria Creek | Virtual Workshops | Poetry Benefit | AVBC VP | Yesterday's Catch | Gun Law | Coit Mural | Literacy Ditty | Ladybike | EBT Theft | Werewolf | Torn Ligament | Best Old | Regional Tragedy | Second Commuter | Tough Loss | Miners | Second Guesses | Kelce Brothers | Bad Cops | Promised Land | Against Us | Female Mummies | Ukraine | Ruin Us

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COLD DRY CONDITIONS will gradually moderate during mid to late week as marine air moves onshore. In addition, light beneficial rain and gusty south winds will spread across Northwest California during Thursday. Additional rainfall is then expected this weekend. (NWS)

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Clearlake, Middle of January (photo by James Marmon)

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We had a major water leak at the high school due to a disintegrated pipe. Dennis came in on a sick day and was able to isolate the break. The farm is affected but the rest of the site has water. School is in session tomorrow. Thank you to Mr. Hill and Mr. Macias for their efforts. A huge thank you to Dennis Johnson for always finding a solution.

Louise Simson, Superintendent

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RENEE LEE: Hello Valley Peeps, I am looking to spruce up the walls at AV Senior Center. ISO of pictures of Valley landscapes, landmarks etc. that you would like to share. Please send me your pics (preferably digital) and I will enlarge/reprint/frame. Of course I will give photo credits.

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DORA BRILEY: Adventist Health is closing its women’s health office in Ukiah. A staffer told me at my visit earlier this month. There goes another preventative health care venue and having a choice of where to go. They will refer everyone to the Care For Her unit at the local clinic. Getting an appointment anywhere these days in a timely fashion is next to impossible and getting worse.

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Cycling Club, Arcata, 1896

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Good news! The Navarro estuary level has fallen about 2 ft. since Saturday due to increased outflow to the ocean. The long channel through the sandbar appears both wider and deeper today than when last observed. The brushy mud flat on the south side west of the bridge is no longer underwater at all. I guesstimate that the estuary water level fell about 2 to 3 ft. in the past 48 hours. The channel is NOT closing up at this time and is adequately draining the estuary into the sea.

There is no longer a potential for shallow flooding of 128 east of the Navarro Bridge as I wrote about yesterday. Not only has the outflow increased, but the forecast rainfall has diminished for the 4-day period from Thursday night through Sunday. Any runoff from the predicted rain will be slight and have little effect on the flood potential. The NWS Navarro forecast chart predicts the river level will fall to 4.2 ft. by Saturday.

So we can relax about the Navarro and talk about the hard freeze that reached 23.2 degrees at my place early this morning. I hope no one suffered cracked water pipes, but if you have exposed outdoor pipes, pumps or spigots, you might want to protect them with insulation.

My well water system quit at breakfast time, but cured itself when the temperature rose above freezing. There was no freezing or cracking in the main water pipes. The cause was water frozen in a 1/8" diameter plastic tube connecting a pressure switch to the pressure tank. Due to that blockage the switch did not sense low pressure and start the pressure pump to boost it up again. No big deal, and it reminded me to install some plywood skirting to fully enclose the lower part of my recently refurbished pump house.

More overnight freezing is forecast for tonight and the next several nights, but none are supposed to be as cold as last night. So keep yourself, pets and sensitive garden plants warm during this cold snap. And don't worry about the Navarro flooding.

Cheers, and bye for now,

Nick Wilson

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Navarro Beach (photo by Elaine Kalantarian)

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by Mike Geniella

Plans for a new Mendocino County Courthouse cleared a critical hurdle last Friday after winning approval from the state Department of Finance.

There are, however, months more of regulatory review before any construction work can begin at a new site on the south side of Perkins Street.

State cost estimates, meanwhile, are spiraling.

As proposed, the seven-courtroom, 82,000-square foot building is now expected to cost $144 million, up from last year’s estimate of $118 million.

Global supply issues relating to steel beams and other necessary building materials are cited. 

“The new estimate is related to supply side issues. There’s been no major changes to the project itself,” said Kim Turner, court executive officer for the Mendocino County Superior Court.

Turner said still to come are necessary approvals from the state Public Works Committee, and a critical sign off by the state Fire Marshal which must weigh in on all state construction projects. 

“We will need to get in line and obtain the Fire Marshal approval of the plans before any construction can get under way,” said Turner, the local court’s coordinator with the state on the project. 

Turner said the state Judicial Council is narrowing down who will do the final design and construction of the decade-old courthouse project, which was delayed in 2016 because of state funding issues.

“I don’t doubt that it is finally going to happen but there just isn’t a clear timeline yet,” said Kim Turner, court executive officer for the Mendocino County Superior Court.

Turner speculated preliminary construction work could begin this winter. It will take up to two years for the new courthouse to be completed, said Turner.

At present the Ukiah courthouse project is labeled by the state as an “immediate need,” and it is ranked as one of the highest priority capital outlay projects for the state judicial branch, according to the state Judicial Council.

As envisioned the new three-story courthouse will be built on a four-acre site immediately south of the historic Ukiah Train Depot. It will be bordered on the west by abandoned railroad tracks. The project will include landscaping, secured parking for court officers and staff, and about 160 parking spaces for jurors and the public.

Now that the courthouse project is on track again, city and county officials plan to renew discussions about the fate of the current courthouse building.

The 1950s courthouse building dominates the heart of downtown on a square-block site where the first county courthouse was constructed in the 19th century. The state estimates the building needs at least $10 million in repairs and upgrades. 

Whether it will continue in use and by whom is unclear. Currently, the county District Attorney’s Office occupies most of the ground floor but there is no room provided in the new courthouse for the DA or other agencies.

Besides space issues, there is concern about how relocation of the courthouse will economically affect downtown, where shops, restaurants and offices rely on the foot traffic generated by current courthouse operations. The new courthouse will be located a long three blocks east of downtown. 

City and county officials have informally discussed possibilities over the years, but now that the new courthouse project appears to be moving ahead, the Ukiah City Council recently formed an ad hoc committee to work with the county on future uses of the current site.

Some downtown advocates are pushing for the eventually demolition of the current courthouse, with the exception of a century-old limestone clad addition that faces School Street. In its place the hope is for a downtown square along the lines of Healdsburg or the town of Sonoma.

Shannon Riley, Ukiah’s assistant city manager, said she will be the staff member for the city council on the ad hoc committee. 

“Now that it appears things are moving again, we are prepared to engage,” said Riley.

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C.C. Lasley's Blue Lake Drug Store

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by Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell

We cautiously started 2022 hoping for the best and learning from all the challenges of 2021 and 2020. Surviving sometimes competing emergencies, the City fared better than predicted. The community members and City staff have continued to be resilient, and their efforts are not forgotten. Taking the time to reflect on these accomplishments is something to be shared and celebrated. I want to share some of these successes and express gratitude for your contributions. Wishing you and your family health and happiness in 2023. 

• Water 

For the third year in a row, California was in a drought, and this had a significant effect on the community’s ability to expand services. The City’s Public Works Department initiated an effective “Save our Water” water conservation campaign by participating in numerous community outreach events, providing water conservation device kits consisting of low-flow shower heads, bath and kitchen sink aerators, toilet tank banks, and other water-saving devices. Recapturing water buckets, educational activity books, reusable water bottles, and other gadgets were also provided to the community at no cost. The City's Water Treatment Plant produced 199.5 million gallons of drinking water in 2022 (the lowest production total recorded since 1981). This was all due in part to restaurants, hotels, and our residents working together to curtail water use and conserve when it was most important. 

As the City continues to be adaptable in the face of water restrictions, there come opportunities to be at the forefront of innovation. Introducing ONEKA, an all-in-one, wave-powered desalination system where everything needed to produce drinking water from seawater is self-contained on a buoy at sea. This partnership was developed out of the Blue Economy Symposium. ONEKA’s wave-powered sustainable desalination mission is an initiative goal to make oceans a sustainable and affordable source of drinking water 

• Public Works 

The Public Works Department facilitated many City projects in 2022 in the areas of water, sewer, parks, storm drains, and streets. One of the largest projects that was finalized was the Maple Street Storm Drain and Alley Rehabilitation Project. This long-awaited project consisted of the replacement of 1,700 linear feet of storm drain including new drain inlets along Maple Street, road paving, and six alleyways as well as the replacement of several sections of sidewalk with accessible (ADA) curb ramps. Total projected costs of $1.7 million were met and funded by local street sales tax and local partnership program funds. 

Another project that the City embarked on was the 2021 Cure-in-Place Pipeline. This important project rehabilitated approximately 9,480 linear feet (1.8 miles) of existing sewer pipe by lining internally via a cure-in-place process throughout various locations within the City. This project was funded by internal funds and a cost of $192,000. 

The most recent public works project to be completed was the School Zone Radar Speed Sign Replacement. This project was completed within the projected time frame during the Winter Break in December 2022. The project replaced seven unrepairable radar speed signs with new solar-powered electronic speed detector signs bringing a much needed improvement to the safety of the perimeter school zones along Chestnut, Sanderson, Lincoln, and Dana Streets. This project was funded using local streets tax in the amount of $49,500.00 

The Public Works Dept. field crews are also always tirelessly working on preventive measures. They cleaned, maintained, and prepared the thousands of linear feet of storm drain lines and inlet locations throughout the City in preparation for the upcoming rain and storm season. This proved a success considering very little to no flooding was reported. Great work! 

The partnership between the City of Fort Bragg and the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District for the CV Starr Community Center continues to be strong. Both City and CV Starr staff worked together on several small projects under $45,000 each. They arranged, prepared, and completed several projects, including the Men’s and Women’s Locker Room Floor Replacement, Leisure and Competition Swimming Pool Plumbing Replacement which included the replacement of the two industrial heaters. Other completed projects included installation of powered doors to the natatorium, chemical controller change out, lighting controller upgrade, leisure pool slide bolt replacement, and other small repair/replacement projects. 

• Economic Development

The Blue Economy Symposium and Learning Festival was a great success. This unique partnership united the City of Fort Bragg, Noyo Harbor, Sherwood Band of Mendocino County, Mendocino College, West Business Development Center, and Noyo Center for Marine Science. 

This event explored efforts and opportunities within the blue economy that would diversify our economy on the Mendocino Coast while also improving the local livelihoods of our low-moderate income community while nurturing our environment and protecting coastal resources. Efforts are ongoing to solve one of the Noyo Harbor’s most needed projects – a fuel dock – and also looking into replacing the only ice house in the harbor. 

These projects and many more are imperative to the health of the harbor. A profound thanks to the many partners and our staff who contributed to this success. 

• Housing 

Danco’s Plateau project in collaboration with the City has completed construction which has allowed 68 community members to move into permanent supportive housing. The integrated community will have twenty-three senior cottages, twenty- five workforce duplexes, twenty for the homeless, three shared community buildings, and a manager unit. This unique mix of housing had not been attempted locally before and will serve as a good model for future developments of this kind. 

The Plateau also includes activity areas for all three groups and even basketball courts. There has always strong support from the City Council on projects like this. 

More great news on the newly established Housing Mendocino Coast - a community land trust incubated by the City for the purpose of providing home ownership and rental opportunities for our workforce was just awarded funding in the amount of $820,000. Thanks to Congressman Jared Huffman for securing Congressional Community Project Funding to purchase a future property for the sole use of creating workforce housing. 

• Public Safety 

The men and women of FBPD have servants’ hearts. They resolve the problems many of us avoid. City Council and community leaders played a major role in the selection of a new, permanent Chief in July. TheDepartmenthasstabilized and a strategic plan was developed. Their new motto of “Concern, Compassion, Courage” is a testament to their commitment to our community. FBPD is still conducting organizational restructuring to better meet the needs of the people of Fort Bragg. Several new officers were hired and trained this year as well. 

Several officers attended advanced training to better protect our city. An example of the outcome of one of these trainings is DUI collisions are down 33% over 2021 and several suspects were arrested for sales of fentanyl, a dangerous opioid killing our kids. More advanced training is being brought here to Fort Bragg to ensure our officers have all the modern police training while saving thousands in tax dollars. 

I am especially proud of the Care Response Unit (CRU) program. Two Social Services Liaisons work in the Police Department, side-by-side with officers to immediately assist people in a mental health crisis, the homeless, and those with substance abuse disorders. They “fill the gap” and connect those in need with resources, staying with them as they navigate many systems. This approach is entirely new and dubbed the “Fort Bragg Model.” It has gained the attention of politicians and researchers as the CRU program has cut police officer response to these calls by over 40%, reunited over a dozen homeless individuals with family in other areas, arranged for several people to get into drug rehab, and found stable housing solutions for many. When the Plateau opened, CRU members were first to identify a major gap on the first day and immediately began coordinating resources to assist in the success of the program. CRU also coordinated the Emergency Weather Shelter program, housing over 60 people during nights with rain and extreme cold. It seemed odd to many people CRU would be part of the Police Department, but it has proven more successful than ever imagined. 

• Quality of Life 

I’m certain that many important accomplishments have been excluded from my list of highlights, as this letter of reflection would otherwise become a novel. An entire book could be written on any item mentioned, including the many that weren’t. Did you know about the numerous merchants and property owners engaged in downtown revitalization efforts to support a vibrant and prosperous Central Business District? Or that the new local culture ad hoc committee will meet on the second Tuesdays of the month at 4PM at Town Hall? The strength and character of our community is impressive, and I am honored to serve as Mayor. I, alongside my fellow Councilmembers and staff will continue to make decisions in the best interest of the community, to view public resources with respect, and keep our gaze on the horizon to ensure long term success. Thank you for placing your trust with us. 

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NICK WILSON: Point Arena is a tiny town down the Mendocino Coast from here (in Albion). I often see these silly clickbait ads following online news stories. They try to use your location to interest you. My internet provider is based near Point Arena. There is no giant airport, open or closed like this one, near Point Arena, population 460 in 2020.

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GUILTY YER HONOR. There are millions out there who fully expect any day now to be fending off roving bands of starving predators. This savvy on-line comment puts the unsupported fears that the collapse of the USA is imminent into proper perspective. “Repeating again, and again, and yet again that the sky is falling and the US is about to collapse, when, in fact, the sky never falls grows dull. How about just acknowledging that the US is a nation in decline, that has been declining for a long time, and continues to? Nothing is going to collapse tomorrow, or next week, or next year, but things will gradually continue to get worse, in a myriad of ways. Isn’t that a more sensible take on the state of things in the US right now?” (Yes.)

MIKE GENIELLA’S timely update on the new County Courthouse's slow but sure creep toward a brand new eyesore for Ukiah in the form of an indefensible new County Courthouse points out that this looming architectural crime is designed for our nine judges only, when the existing County Courthouse is perfectly — well, maybe imperfectly — serviceable for the simple task of processing the local working class into county and state prisons. Are you saying, you commie bastard, that justice is entirely a matter of social class? You don't have to be a commie to have figured that out. 

ANYWAY, no surprise that there's absolute silence from the Black Robes on the new County Courthouse. They're all for it although it will destroy what's left of Ukiah's depleted downtown, and cause innumerable logistical problems for the offices remaining in the old Courthouse, offices that include the DA. They will have to hump the public’s business up and down Perkins in all kinds of weather. A new Courthouse that leaves out all the ancillary business associated with the courts is… Well, only in Mendo. (The judges speak only through Ms. Turner of Marin, their court administrator.) Any attempt to communicate directly with their majesties is swatted back in one’s face as an “ex parte” attempt to talk to them. Funny, though, how on those rare occasions any of them actually have to run for election for their life sinecure, they're all, “Hey! Great to see you. Call me any time.”

THOSE “He Gets Us” ads that promoted Jesus Christ and his teachings shown during the Niner's game Sunday will also be shown during the Super Bowl. They're funded by anonymous donors acting through a nonprofit linked to an array of fascist causes, as a useful confirming report by CNN's Tom Foreman informed us. Not that I dare speak for JC, but I doubt He'd approve of the Super Bowl, especially its licentious half-time show featuring half naked women mimicking sexual rhythms. It’s also doubtful Jesus would approve much about decadent modern life, but there are lots of wealthy swine who think they've got a ticket to ride.

RUSSIA'S WAR on Ukraine is almost a year old. As a pessimist, I thought it would have escalated beyond the two adversaries by now, but on it goes in a unique stalemate, with Ukraine holding off the invaders and putting the lie to the American dupes' claim that Ukraine isn't really a country but a natural part of Russia, as Ukraine holds off Putin's czarist fantasies, which are only slightly more fanciful than the bumbling Biden administration's apparent fantasy that somehow Ukraine will defeat the Russians on the battlefield to force them into a total withdrawal. Meanwhile, billions in arms and aid are sent to Ukraine while USA! USA! crumbles every which way, and not so much as a hint of an end plan from Biden's handlers, the president himself being obviously non compos. 

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Rancheria Creek (postcard via Marshall Newman, from eBay)

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MCOG, and don't you die a little at the mere mention of the acronymn? M-BLOB would cover all gov acronyms, especially redundant agencies like this one. Counting down to The Last Day MCOG Invites Residents of Covelo, Laytonville, Brooktrails, Potter Valley and Hopland to Participate in Virtual Community Workshops The Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) is in the midst of a study of transportation needs and solutions for the communities of Covelo, Laytonville, Brooktrails, Potter Valley and Hopland – five inland rural communities with no public transit services. During the week of February 6th, virtual community workshops will be held with each of the target communities to present the findings of the needs assessment and preview potential mobility solutions. This is a chance for community members to hear what the consultants learned about transportation needs within each area and to comment on the mobility solutions that are being considered for recommendation. Virtual Workshops will be held at the following dates and times: 

  • Brooktrails: February 7, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.
  • Covelo: February 8, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Potter Valley: February 9, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Laytonville: February 9, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Hopland: February 9, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Links to the virtual community workshops can be found on the project website at For further information, contact project manager Loretta Ellard at or 707-234-3434.

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January 30, 2023, Boonville, Calif. -- Northern California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) announced the promotion of longtime employee Roxanne Barnes to Vice President of Sales. With a focus on building a strong national presence, AVBC continues to invest in the future of the brewery by working with the top craft beer talent throughout the country. 

“Roxanne has been instrumental in the success of AVBC for more than a decade,” said President and CEO Kevin McGee. “During her many years managing the western US markets, Roxanne assisted in building and maintaining key relationships in our home and neighboring states. Her deep knowledge of the AVBC brand, as well as her seasoned experience in craft beer, are what we need to help take AVBC to the next level. It’s an honor to have her lead the team and I am confident she will continue to excel in this new role.” 

Previously working as the Western States Manager for close to 13 years, Roxanne is one of AVBC’s longest-running employees. In her new role as Vice President of Sales, Roxanne will work directly with AVBC President and CEO Kevin McGee. She will be responsible for overseeing all national sales for current and new accounts, as well as managing the brewery’s national sales team across its 40-state distribution footprint. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, January 30, 2022

Barajas, Dyer, Gonzalez

CARINA BARAJAS, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.

JEWEL DYER*, Ukiah. Parole violation.

ENRIQUE GONZALEZ-GONZALEZ, Willits. Elder/dependent abuse.

Gruber, Hawk, Hess

JULIUS GRUBER, Laytonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

JASON HAWK, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

JOSHUA HESS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.

Hidalgo, Nielson, Ramirez

THOMAS HIDALCO, Ukiah. False ID, parole violation.

DEVIN NIELSON, Willits. Saps or similar weapons, switchblade in vehicle, suspended license.

ERICK RAMIREZ, Willits. DUI, suspended license for DUI, probation violation.

* Jewel Dyer was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2019 after beating his father to death with a baseball bat in 2016. He was sentenced to 84 months in prison and was supposed to serve 85% of that, about six years. But he’s been arrested on parole violations since the fall of 2021. Apparently serving less than three years.

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In the wake of the record wave of mass shootings, 37 in 23 days, potentially making 2023 the deadliest year in American history. There are no quick, easy solutions. A large majority of Americans, including gun owners who belong to the NRA, favor red flag laws and strict background checks, even a national ban on the sale of assault guns or raising the age to buy guns from 18 to 21. 

The above legal changes of federal law are such “hot button” controversial issues few state or congressional leaders, with the exception of a few politicians like Senator Diane Feinstein D, CA and Rep. Mike Thompson D, CA, from blue states with the constituent support to call out for such changes. 

While technological advances in firing speed and capacity have produced modern assault weapons and gun manufacturers cashing in on the federal loopholes with the financial backing of lobbyists (especially the NRA) there is a massive national pro-gun culture: boys and young men are brought up to believe that they cannot be “real men” (or even “masculine” enough) unless they possess and shoot a gun. 

Frank H. Baumghardner

Santa Rosa

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One of San Francisco's Coit Tower Murals (Jeff Goll)

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LITERACY DITTY (after Bill Bryson in the AVA)

“8000 Things Can Kill You,

But Only One Will Succeed.”

That’s the kind of news you get

When you learn to read.

Reading is fun, reading is great,

So learn to read ’fore it’s too late,

Cuz 8000 things can kill you,

And one of them will succeed!

— Michael Riedell

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Cyclists in Ferndale

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by Jeanne Kuang

The first time it happened to Courtney Abrams, hardly anyone believed her.

Someone had drained the more than $700 in cash aid and nearly $200 in food stamps from the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card the 33-year-old single mother received from the state, just minutes after those monthly payments appeared in her account. 

Abrams never got to spend a dime of it, though she hadn’t lost her card.

Abrams, a West Los Angeles College student, called the card company’s customer service line that day to dispute the mystery transactions. She got a replacement card from the county and filed a police report. It took a couple of weeks for money to be loaded onto her new card. She also changed the PIN.

That was last March. In September it happened again. This time it took a month to get her money back, she said.

In November it happened again. Now she changes her PIN every month, the night before she gets her benefits, hoping to outsmart the thieves.

“I was, like, maxing out credit cards, doing promise-to-pay, talking to my landlord, letting him know my money got stolen,” she said. “It was a lot of exposure … having to plead your case with these people in a situation that sounds kind of far-fetched.”

It’s not so far-fetched now. State and county officials say that a rash of thefts is wiping out the cash and food benefits from thousands of low-income families’ electronic benefits cards in California and nationwide.

Millions gone

The thefts, which cost the state tens of millions of dollars to replace each year, have sent recipients scrambling to pay bills and household expenses, and flooding social service departments with reimbursement requests. The state proposes to upgrade the cards’ security features at a cost of $50 million in next year’s budget.

California uses EBT cards to deliver financial assistance for several programs, including CalFresh, which gives food aid to 2.8 million families a year and CalWORKs, which gives cash to more than 300,000 families a year. Smaller programs include assistance grants to refugees and immigrant crime victims. 

Low-income Californians reported $29.7 million in cash welfare stolen and $4.7 million in food aid stolen in the 14 months from July 2021 through last September, the latest month for which statewide data was available, according to the Department of Social Services. 

In CalWORKs, the theft amounted to less than $100,000 a month in mid-2021 and had risen to more than $4 million a month by last fall. The department is estimating an average of $6 million a month will be stolen this fiscal year, rising to $8 million a month in the year that begins in July, according to the California Department of Social Services budget documents.

What has been stolen in California so far amounts to a sliver of the total benefits California issued to all recipients — less than 1% of the cash benefits and less than a tenth of 1% of food aid. 

Minutes to lose

Still, the amount of EBT theft has nearly doubled since 2019, budget documents state. 

It’s not clear what has prompted a nationwide spike in benefits theft last year. The consequences are particularly acute in California, which provides more generous cash grants than many other states. Advocates say pandemic-era boosts in food aid also meant bigger losses than usual from recipients’ accounts.

Often the theft occurs minutes after the benefits are transferred to their cards. 

It takes much longer to be made whole. Several recipients told CalMatters it took weeks, or even more than a month, to get benefits reimbursed amid the rising theft.

The state social services department in 2013 instructed counties to replenish money to victims within 10 days of a theft report, but exceptions meant to catch fraud can slow that process. 

For example, if an aid recipient reports more than one theft within six months, social workers must flag their next claim for investigation. 

Many recipients say they have been victims of theft more than once in recent months. Giovanna Roman, a Ventura County mother and community college student, said it happened to her three months in a row last year. She now receives her benefits through direct deposit, she said.

A vulnerability

One reason safety-net benefits are vulnerable to electronic theft, advocates say, is the cards have long lacked a security feature banks began putting on their credit and debit cards in late 2015 – security chips. 

A chipped card doesn’t come in contact with hidden, illegal “skimming” devices, which are designed to copy information from the card’s strip.

To make purchases or withdraw money, EBT card users must swipe the cards’ magnetic strips.

A state public service video demonstrates how thieves can install skimming devices onto card readers to steal card numbers from the cards’ magnetic strips, and the thieves use hidden cameras to capture the cardholders entering their PINs. 

The thieves can then create counterfeit cards to access the funds.

Until last June, the state’s EBT cards didn’t even include the three-digit “CVV” security codes typically on the back of credit and debit cards that banks use for an additional layer of fraud prevention. 

The state added those codes, but the three months of data afterward show that benefits theft continued to rise, according to state figures. 

The state social services department is proposing to spend $76.5 million over the next three years to upgrade EBT cards with “enhanced security features,” according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal. Department spokesman Jason Montiel did not answer a question about whether that means chip cards specifically. 

Advocates and — in a recent motion — the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are urging the state to go that route.

Consumer standards

“To improve the security of the EBT system itself, so that people who rely on this very minimal food and cash assistance to survive, to bring their EBT system up to the same consumer standards that everyone else enjoys is the ultimate goalposts that we all need to be reaching for,” said Lena Silver, an associate director at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, which has been flooded with calls from clients whose benefits were stolen.

Silver pointed out that, in contrast to cards sent to poor Californians receiving assistance, the state intended to send chipped cards to the recipients of its tax refunds to relieve inflation and high gas prices last year. 

“I feel that the EBT system was like the last place where things are so unsafe and so poor in terms of consumer protection,” Silver said.

The recently issued Middle Class Tax Refund cards were issued by a different department, the Franchise Tax Board. Spokesperson Andrew LePage said the agency chose its debit card vendor, Money Network, partly because it could provide some chipped cards. 

Since October the board has sent out 9.4 million debit cards, though many of those were issued without chips due to supply chain shortages. The agency has received reports of fraud and theft of those benefits, too, but it won’t say how much or how many cards lacked chips.

LePage said the vendor reports the fraud rate is “well below” 1% of the money issued.

Taxpayers pay

While most of the benefits on EBT cards come from federal funds, California taxpayers foot the bill to reimburse victims of theft. California has reimbursed CalWorks recipients for stolen funds for years, and in November 2021 the state became the first to do the same for CalFresh food aid recipients, after advocates sued the state.

In December, Congress approved a spending bill allowing states to use federal funds to reimburse victims of food stamp theft that happened after Oct. 1, 2022. 

Meanwhile, California is blocking suspicious EBT transactions, including ones made out-of-state, state officials told advocates in December. 

The social services department also is helping counties process reimbursement claims more quickly, and “multiple investigations are ongoing,” Montiel said.

In September, Los Angeles prosecutors announced they charged 16 people in an alleged EBT fraud ring after they were caught with 300 cloned EBT cards, amounting to $400,000 in stolen benefits. 

Contra Costa County prosecutors in December charged two men with burglary and theft after they were arrested with 50 fraudulent cards and card-skimming equipment.

Clearing hurdles

The state also plans to reduce the number of hurdles theft victims must clear to make a claim and get their benefits replaced. Cash welfare recipients previously had dispute transactions with the card company and file a police report before filling out a theft claim form with the county welfare department, which advocates said was burdensome for some clients.

The social services department in late January issued a new policy removing requirements to call the card company and file the police report, adding card theft victims are “strongly encouraged” to report the theft to police and prosecutors.

Abrams said she would feel more secure if the cards were chipped. Beyond all that, she wants to get her money back with less scrutiny. The numerous calls and rounds of paperwork she had to file made her feel like she was being accused of fraud, she said.

“If my bank card gets stolen and someone uses it, I don’t feel like a criminal, calling and saying, ‘Hey, my bank card was stolen, can you turn it off and reimburse me?’” she said. “They have protection against that thing specifically. It happens all the time.”


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* * *


by Eric Branch

Brock Purdy’s elbow injury not only helped sink the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 season, it could also impact them in 2023.

The 49ers received bad news after a bad loss Monday as their rookie quarterback had an MRI that revealed he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in their 31-7 defeat to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, a league source said.

There is optimism that Purdy can have the ligament surgically repaired, which would require a recovery of about six months and could have him ready to return around the start of training camp in late July. However, there is nothing definitive as Purdy and the 49ers are still gathering more information and seeking other medical opinions. Purdy is hoping to avoid UCL reconstruction surgery, often termed Tommy John surgery, which can involve a recovery timeline of nine to 12 months.

Purdy’s injury, along with the questions around his return, casts a great deal of uncertainty around the 49ers’ QB plan in 2023.

A seventh-round pick, Purdy made a stunningly strong claim to keep the starting spot when Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot on Dec. 4. After replacing Garoppolo in the first quarter of a win against the Dolphins, Purdy went 7-1 as starter, had 18 touchdowns, threw just three interceptions and posted a 111.4 passer rating.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t declared Purdy will be his 2023 starter, but Purdy appeared to be the favorite to have that title entering training camp after the 49ers averaged 32.6 points in his first seven starts.

The 49ers also have Trey Lance, their 2022 season-opening starter who suffered a broken ankle in Week 2 a year after he was the No. 3 pick in the draft. Lance has also suffered a broken finger and a sprained knee in a career that’s included four starts and 102 pass attempts.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo, 31, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March after he was in the midst of a career-best season before his injury. Garoppolo threw 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and had a 103.0 passer rating while making 10 starts.

Purdy was injured Sunday on the 49ers’ first drive, on their sixth offensive play, when he was hit by Pro Bowl defensive end Haason Reddick and his right arm was bent back awkwardly just before he attempted to throw a deep pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

“My arm felt like it stretched out,” Purdy said. “It felt like a lot of shocks all over from my elbow, down to my wrist. Front and back. Just pain all over.”

The play, which was initially ruled an incompletion, was reversed to a lost fumble on replay review. During the review, Purdy attempted to throw on the sideline and knew “something wasn’t right.” He then told Shanahan that he was limited as they discussed a potential 3rd-and-6 call.

“I told him right there that if we run a play, I cannot throw deep,” Purdy said. “For this play at least. It is hurting really bad and if we are going to get a completion have it be something short, if that’s all right.”

Tight end Tyler Kroft was assigned to block Reddick without assistance on the play on which Purdy was injury. Reddick, whose 16 sacks ranked second in the NFL, easily beat Kroft’s block before leveling Purdy, who began the play with a play-action fake to running back Christian McCaffrey.

Asked about Kroft’s assignment, Shanahan said it’s common for tight ends to block edge rushers when play-action is used. The matchup, along with the fake handoff, helps sell a run.

“It was a play-action pass and I was literally ripping it to (Aiyuk),” Purdy said. “He was coming open and I thought it was going to be a big play.”

(SF Chronicle)

* * *

* * *

GREAT JOE BOB (A Regional Tragedy)

He was a panhandle prince
Schoolboy football king
I told him 'Hi' in the halls
'Cause he could run them balls

But it was rumored down deep he was mean
He dated high tone girls
With frosty pom pom curls
But he never gave out his ring

He was the best of the best
He met the gridiron test
An there ain't nothin'
As American and clean

He was the pride of the backfield
Ah, the hero of his day
Yeah, he carried the ball for the red and blue
They won District Triple-A

And his name made all the papers
As the best they'd ever had
Yeah, so nobody understood it
When the great Joe Bob went bad

First he lost his scholarship
To Texas Tech
For drinking during training
An' breaking the coach's neck

Then he got suspended
Ah, for acting obscene
Around the cum laudy, cum laudy
Daughter of the Dean

So he took up with a waitress
Named Loose Ruby Cole
While she was a hoppin' tables
Down at the Hi D Ho

And he met her on the sly
When her daddy weren't around
Ah, but he stopped making yardage
When he started messin' 'round

He was the pride of the backfield
Ah, the hero of his day
Yeah, he carried the ball for the red and blue
They won District Triple-A

And his name made all the papers
As the best they'd ever had
Yeah, so nobody understood it
When the Great Joe Bob went bad

Yeah, it spread like a country wildfire
That something big had gone all strange
Joe Bob the greatest halfback
Was acting half deranged

He'd been seen out with this woman
Gettin' drunk and havin' fun
Yeah, he growed his hair, then give up prayer
And said, 'Football days is done'

Then he and old Loose Ruby
Robbed a Pinkie's Liquor Store
And had a run in with the law
When they's runnin' out the door

And Joe Bob's fate was sealed
For the next century
Yeah, he traded in the pigskin
For the penitentiary

And his name made all the papers
As the best they'd ever had
Yeah, so nobody understood it and nobody comprehended
When the great Joe Bob went bad

— Terry Allen

* * *

Salvage Boat, Humboldt Bay

* * *


by Marcus Thompson

Talanoa Hufanga stood about 10 feet from his locker, the sleeveless white t-shirt he wore under his pads draping over his gold game pants. His arms hung crossed behind his back, his hands clasped together.

His face pointed towards the floor as he gently rocked. Left. Right. Left. Right. Like a pendulum, tapping his foot with each sway. The pacing in place seemed to harness his swirling emotions like he wanted to feel the hurt coursing through him but also needed to control it.

Shirtless defensive lineman Arik Armstead came over to put his arm around Hufanga’s neck and spoke some words into his spirit. Before long, linebacker Fred Warner, still in pads and a grass-stained jersey, made his way to the second-year safety. His embrace also came with words of encouragement. After each hug, after both moments of consolation, Hufanga used his T-shirt to wipe away his tears. Then he returned his arms behind his back and resumed rocking. Left. Right. Left. Right. His head bowed, his lips moving as he whispered to himself.

“I truly appreciate these moments,” Hufanga said. “They’re tough moments, though.”

Hufanga is now initiated. He’s fully in the fellowship of heartbreak after the 49ers’ 31-7 loss to the Eagles in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

He was a rookie last season when the 49ers had a trip to the Super Bowl ripped away late. But he only played 21 snaps, just two on defense, when the host Rams came back in the fourth quarter. He was much more a passenger then. This time, he was the starting safety, a Pro Bowler and one of the main playmakers on defense. Now he knows what a crushed soul feels like.

The 49ers might’ve lost to the Eagles straight-up. But to go out like this? Without even a fair fight? Disappointment has levels. The 49ers found a new low.

“Losing feels awful,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was famously on the bayonet end of a blown 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator. “This one was harder. This one was harder. This one was a lot harder I thought.”

In February 2020, the 49ers were outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV. In 2022, they blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. But this year’s defeat is a new level of debilitating. Because their greatest opponent seemed to be fate.

They came into the game with the taste of upset. How could they not feel destined with Brock Purdy as their quarterback? But they left Lincoln Financial Field feeling like a cosmic force is hell-bent on keeping them from a championship.

“I was just thinking about how hard it is,” Purdy said, “how it takes every little thing to align the right way to win, to go all the way. I was thinking back earlier in the season, what happened with all the injuries and stuff, and then we get hot and we’re winning games, and how tough even those games are to win. Last week, how tough it was to win. You come into an environment like this, locked in and ready to roll, and then an injury happens and the way the game goes totally shifts in a different direction. All these emotions.”

On the 49ers’ sixth offensive snap of the game, Purdy ran a play-action and dropped back. His target, Brandon Aiyuk, was coming open. Purdy thought he was about to hit him for a big play. He had no idea the writers from Final Destination were about to script out the rest of the 49ers’ season.

Philadelphia’s stud linebacker, Haason Reddick, who had 16 sacks in the regular season, blew around a Tyler Kroft block and interrupted Purdy’s pass. Not only was it ruled a sack and a fumble, recovered by the Eagles, but Purdy injured the elbow on his throwing arm. After losing Trey Lance in Week 2, and Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13, the 49ers lost quarterback No. 3 in Week 21. One game before the Super Bowl.

That pressed into duty Josh Johnson, the 36-year-old fourth-string quarterback who the 49ers signed in early December. Not only was Johnson taking his first meaningful snaps since Boxing Day 2021 with Baltimore, but this was his postseason debut. The 49ers’ offense sputtered with an immediate three-and-out, capped with a delay of game penalty.

After the 49ers punted, Nick Bosa was standing on the sidelines, ready to go in for defense, when Tarvarius Moore spun down Eagles’ runner Josh Jobe. Bosa saw two men barreling towards him, so he leaped in the air. But Jobe’s cleat caught Bosa in the right calf. Randomly, and not long after Purdy went down, Bosa was on the ground hurting.

“That was kind of a sign of a rough day when you get hurt on the sideline,” Bosa said after the game. “I got a cleat an inch or two into my leg.”

Adversity had been coming for the 49ers all season. In addition to their top two quarterbacks, they also lost two cornerbacks to season-ending injuries. They’ve had productive starters, such as Armstead and running back Elijah Mitchell, miss chunks of the season. They had first-time starters at cornerback (Deommodore Lenoir) and right guard (Spencer Burford). But none of it seemed to deter them from their bid to win a title. They seemed fueled by the challenge.

But that’s what made Sunday’s thud feel like an anvil from the heavens. They were blindsided by the cascade of misfortune. Finally, they succumbed.

“It was kind of tough to talk in there right after the game for everybody,” Shanahan said. “Thought they got dealt a pretty tough hand. But I just hurt for those guys. We felt really good about this game. It was a tough one. Tough circumstances.”

The opening drive was ominous. Warner got a stinger on the second play. A.J. Brown made a 10-yard shoestring catch on third-and-8. Then on fourth-and-3, the 49ers kept Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts from scrambling. But he found DeVonta Smith deep down the left sidelines. His one-hand snag seemed to be a highlight-reel catch. But he got up and immediately started signaling for the Eagle’s offense to hurry up.

Replays would later show Smith did not make the catch. But neither the 49ers nor the NFL had time to see the necessary angles before the Eagles snapped the ball again. Shanahan never threw the challenge flag. Two plays later, after what should have been a turnover on downs, the Eagles punched it in.

“I was going to throw one anyways,” Shanahan said, “just to hope, to take the chances. But they showed (a replay) up on the scoreboard … and that looked like a catch. So we didn’t want to take a timeout — which we would’ve if we didn’t see that.”

A replay on the scoreboard showing a favorable angle for the Eagles was the difference between a turnover and a touchdown. And just like that, consternation took over, hijacking a season Purdy had made feel like a constellation in their favor. But that’s how it goes when it’s time for the 49ers’ season to end. No matter how good they are, how healthy they are, the agony pursuing them will trip them up from behind.

That’s the only way to explain Sunday. Three years ago, it could be chalked up to inexperience or the greatness of Patrick Mahomes. Last season, they had the game, and another trip to the Super Bowl, in the grasp of Jaquiski Tartt. All the 49ers needed was their reliable, veteran safety to catch a pop-fly interception. But he dropped it.

These 49ers were even better. They were even more stellar on defense. But their offense was never better thanks to the addition of Christian McCaffrey. Then, as if the football gods were paying a debt, they delivered Purdy, the first quarterback who felt like he could really make Shanahan’s offense pop. These 49ers were so good, adversity had to work overtime.

“That’s what makes this suck,” Aiyuk said. “We’ve been through so much.”

The Eagles were already a handful to deal with. Their crowd was rocking, their faithful keeping 49ers fans from taking over the stadium. They had a lead, and Purdy was out. And the 49ers still had a chance.

McCaffrey broke four tackles on an epic 23-yard run to tie the game at 7. The 49ers still weren’t dead.

“I’ve got more love for these guys than I possibly could have,” Shanahan said. “And they got it for each other. I was real proud of how they fought out there. Our guys didn’t shy away from anything.”

But heartbreak was still stalking. There is only so much one team can endure. The 49ers seemed to get hit by all of it Sunday in Philadelphia. Some self-inflicted. Some punishment from the football gods.

Then three penalties by the defense helped Philadelphia take a 14-7 lead.

Then Johnson, after completing an 11-yard slant, fumbled the snap in the shotgun and failed to recover it. The Eagles turned that into a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.

Johnson then got leveled by Ndamukong Suh, his head slamming on the turf, and was knocked out with a concussion.

It was so dire, so extraordinary, Purdy had to return to the game. He was unable to throw the ball to the sticks. He was even risking further damage to his right elbow. With four injured quarterbacks, the 49ers’ offense — which had scored 33 points or more in six of Purdy’s eight starts — was reduced to a predictable ground game.

But that was all they had left. A season that has relentlessly attacked their chances finally whittled down the mighty Niners.

“I’m just so sad for the older guys,” Purdy said. “All the guys that have been through this. They’ve, obviously, been to the Super Bowl in ‘19 and then last year in the NFC championship. And then for this to happen, in the first drive really like, ‘Man, this is the kind of game we have to play?’ I’m just frustrated but more sad for those guys than anything. Because they deserve to go, to win, and to win the whole thing.”

That’s how it goes in the 49ers’ fellowship of heartbreak. Until one day, if ever, they break it.

(SF Chronicle)

* * *

Miners, El Dorado

* * *


by Scott Ostler

MUDVILLE, U.S.A. — This will go down (way down) in San Francisco 49ers’ lore as the Lemony Snicket Game. A series of unfortunate events. It’s all over but the sputtering and muttering, so let’s get on with it.

First of all, 49ers’ fans, be good sports and wish all the best for the Philadelphia Eagles’ fans. Nothing but mad props for a fan base proud of its rep as the most foul-mouthed, drunken bullies in the NFL! Egging the 49ers’ buses arriving before the game? That’s called a Philly Omelet.

Philadelphia civic authorities greased all the poles downtown, to decrease the pole-climbing risk in postgame celebrating. Great, but that made life a lot tougher for the city’s exotic dancers.

If they named big cities like the original 49ers named their gold-mining towns, Philadelphia would be Greasy Poles.

Looked like Dre Greenlaw got himself fired up by watching “Rocky.” Apparently, the meat-locker scene made an impression.

For an instant, Christian McCaffrey’s improbable TD run made 49ers victory seem possible

Here’s a guess, you read it here first: Trent Williams will be grabbing some pine, meat, for Game 1 next season. That was a beyond-fine-worthy offense.

Kyle Shanahan said he didn’t throw a challenge flag on that 4th-and-3 killer completion on the Eagles’ first drive, which ended in a touchdown, because the replay he saw on the stadium screen was inconclusive. But here’s the thing: When the Eagles went to a hurry-up snap on the next down, that was a clear indication that they feared a challenge. Chuck the laundry, Kyle.

Who fell asleep? The 49ers have a guy in the booth whose job it is to let Shanahan know when he should throw his red hankie. That guy used to be team exec Paraag Marathe. It’s not him now. Question for whoever that guy is now: WTF? Huge play, dude. How were the hot dogs up there?

I’m no football coach, but I did coach little kids’ baseball. When Brock Purdy tried to come back and was tossing balls on the sideline, he looked like a 7-year-old learning to throw. Zero snap. Fine, leave him in, but tell him to throw left-handed.

You know who else could see Purdy lamely wing-flipping on the sideline? The Philadelphia Eagles.

When you trot out a quarterback who can throw only 5-yard lobs and isn’t really a threat to run, you are playing 10 vs. 11. Who should have been at QB after Josh Johnson got hurt (and maybe before)? In order: Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Kyle Juszczyk.

On TV, Terry Bradshaw reported that Purdy suffered a nerve injury and that his arm would be fine, sensation would return, though not necessarily during the game. Had I been in Philly, I would’ve tracked down Bradshaw to ask him about this painful lump on my knee.

You earn your way to the Super Bowl with poise and professionalism. Penalties: 49ers, 11 for 81 yards; Eagles, 4 for 34 yards. You don’t shove a guy who is already out of bounds, you don’t throw punches at the ball in the ballcarrier’s arms for five seconds after the whistle.

The 49ers won’t go to Disneyland, but they might go to Eleven Flags Over Philly.

No crying about the reffing. However, the NFL should have a Common Sense Guy in the booth, to alert the field crew: That 49er did not run into the punter, he was thrown into the punter by an Eagle.

“Thank goodness the 49ers signed Josh Johnson, and not Colin Kaepernick,” said the Eagles and their fans. The signing of Johnson was out of desperation, right? What if the 49ers had signed Kaepernick, instead? Kaepernick hasn’t thrown an NFL pass since 2016, but Johnson hasn’t thrown 100 passes in an NFL season since 2009. Johnson has nine NFL starts, Kaepernick 58. When Purdy went out Sunday, which guy, Johnson or Kaepernick, would have posed more of a threat to the Eagles?

But if it had been Kaepernick, and he incurred three delay-of-game penalties and fumbled away a shotgun snap, the Kaepernick Haters Club would be howling like the mangy wolves they are.

Yes, the TV camera did catch Jimmy Garoppolo smiling broadly on the sideline during the second half. But don’t hate on Garoppolo for that. The man’s face is stuck in that smile. If the 49ers can afford to bring him back as their backup, great. (They can’t.)

George Kittle, three catches for 32 yards, on a day when the long ball clearly was not an option for the 49ers. Business as usual. In the regular season, Kittle had more than six receptions only once, and had four or fewer 11 times. What’s up with that? Travis Kelce had six or more grabs 12 times. Kelce caught 110 passes, Kittle 60. Kelce is a better pass catcher, but not that much better.

Sorry, America. You have been deprived of the Super Bowl matchup you wanted and needed: Patrick Mahomes vs. Brock Purdy. The football gods are Lucy holding for Charlie Brown’s kick.

Hey, no sour grapes! Congratulations to Philadelphia, the city whose contribution to American culture is a cracked bell, a cream cheese and a sandwich you can’t get anywhere else in America except at every Subway.

(SF Chronicle)

* * *

* * *


by Piers Morgan

I want to start this column with two cold, hard, indisputable truths about the murder of Tyre Nichols.

These are incontrovertible statements of fact.

First, 29-year-old Tyre was killed by a despicable mob of shamefully inhumane police brutes.

Second, the five cops who beat him to death were all black like him, so the motive for their appalling conduct was self-evidently not racism.

Despite this, many high-profile black people have raced to blame white people for what happened in a way that is as ridiculous as it is disingenuous.

The Black Lives Matter organization issued a statement that once again demanded defunding of the police and said: “Five police officers brutally beat Tyre to death. Although the media has spent a great amount of time drawing attention to the fact that the police officers are Black, as if that is important, let us be clear: ALL police represent the interest of capitalism and impel state-sanctioned violence. Anyone who works within a system that perpetuates state-sanctioned violence is complicit in upholding white supremacy.”

CNN commentator Van Jones said the killing may “still have been driven by racism.”

Jemele Hill from The Atlantic agreed, explaining: “The entire system of policing is based on white supremacist violence.”

Filmmaker Bree Newsome Bass tweeted: “Diversifying the police force doesn’t end racism because racism is inherent to the organization & its daily operation. Racism is what policing is.”

And Florida Democratic Congressman Maxwell Frost posted (but then deleted): “Doesn’t matter what color those police officers are. The murder of Tyre Nichols is anti-Black and the result of white supremacy.”

I read all these responses with a slow, incredulous shake of the head.

What the bloody hell are they talking about?

How can anyone possibly attribute five black men killing a black man to racism and white people?

It’s completely insane.

But this is where the increasingly demented woke mentality takes us, as we saw last week in the UK when a shaven-headed, face-tattooed, musclebound monster named Adam Graham was convicted of raping two women.

When he first appeared in court in 2019, Graham did so as a man, his biological sex.

But by the start of his trial, he’d decided to transition into a woman named Isla Bryson.

And under new gender self-identity laws endorsed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, “she” was sent to a women’s prison where “she” was to be locked up alongside actual women of the kind “she” raped when she was a man.

Only a furious outcry led by Harry Potter author JK Rowling forced Sturgeon to reverse her dangerous decision.

What links this dreadful story to the death of Tyre Nichols is a common refusal by the woke world to accept reality when it stares them in the face but doesn’t fit their agenda.

Obviously, a male rapist claiming to be a woman so he gets put into a women’s prison, where he can rape women again, isn’t a victory for trans rights. That’s absurd.

Equally obviously, five black men killing a black man isn’t a racist act of white supremacy. That’s also absurd.

In Memphis, where Tyre Nichols was killed, nearly 60% of the entire police force is black, and so is 65% of the population.

The issue that provoked this killing wasn’t to do with anyone’s skin color, it was to do with poorly trained police officers abusing their positions.

“The color doesn’t matter,” Darrell Johnson, a black downtown Memphis resident, told the New York Times. “It’s just that you had officers taking a guy’s life.”


And if it really was about racism, where are the riots and burning cities that would have inevitably followed if the officers had all been white, as happened after the terrible murder of George Floyd?

As for the crazy “Defund the police” campaign, America needs MORE, not fewer, police on the streets.

FBI data revealed the number of Memphis officers dropped by nearly 20% from 2011 to 2017, while crime rose by 26% in that period.

You don’t need to be a statistical genius to work out the cause and effect.

In 2018, by way of response, Memphis lowered its standards to attract new police recruits during a hiring shortage.

Two of the five officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death, according to a Poynter Institute report, were hired during that time.

There, I suspect, is the real problem.

Many older, highly trained, experienced police officers all over America have quit their jobs in recent years, fed up with being constantly denigrated, abused, branded vile racists, and depicted as the enemy of the people.

At the same time, the recruitment process to replace them has been relaxed in many places like Memphis.

This has sparked a disastrous reduction in the quality of law enforcement.

And that’s inevitably led to the kind of deplorable policing failures that cost Tyre Nichols his life.

I would do two things right now to help fix America’s cop crisis: Toughen up all recruitment processes, and try to persuade the good, decent officers who’ve resigned to come back to their jobs and deploy the most valuable commodity in police work — experience.

I’m not talking about sickening rotten apples like Derek Chauvin, who’ve given all US police a bad rep and are quite rightly rotting in jail.

I’m talking about those officers who share the public’s revulsion at what that white scumbag cop did to a black man, and what those five black scumbag cops did to another black man.

Demonizing all police officers, defunding police forces, and blaming all cop killings on white people regardless of whether there was any racism involved may please the woefully naïve woke brigade.

But it will make America a more dangerous place for people of all colors.

* * *

* * *


by James Kunstler

The question you might ask these days: how did we weaponize everything in American life against ourselves? Can you name an institution that is not at war with the people of this land? The exact mechanisms for all that bad faith stand in plain sight these days, and persons responsible can be easily identified. What’s missing are discernable motives. For now, it just looks like the greatest collective act of ass-covering in history.

It’s pretty clear, for instance, that all the criminal misconduct in the FBI / DOJ — continuing to this moment — emanates from the years-long effort to cover up the seditious campaign to nullify Donald Trump starting well before Nov. 8, 2016. All the players in the agencies, and their news media accomplices, stand to lose at least their reputations, if the public cared about how dishonestly they acted. Many of those still working would lose their jobs and their livelihoods too, and quite a few would lose their freedom in prison. So, their motive to keep up the skullduggery is simple self-preservation.

The Covid-19 pandemic looks like a pretty large-scale racketeering operation gone awry with plenty to hide. You have the reckless, symbiotic relations between the US public health bureaucracy and the pharmaceutical companies, and tons of money at stake, plus the colossal ego of hapless Dr. Anthony Fauci wishing to pose as an historic world-saver, another Louis Pasteur or Alexander Fleming. And then you have the amazingly foolish act of imposing an untested, dangerous “vaccine” on the world, and years of lying and covering-up the repercussions of injury and death from it. And then the opaque and nefarious roles of other actors in the story ranging from the CCP to the WEF to the Bill Gates and George Soros empires of money in what looks a genocide.

It’s harder to unpack the enigma of the obviously unfit “Joe Biden” getting installed in the White House. My guess: the Obama claque behind him knew that “JB” was easily manipulable, and that his lame rivals, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Liz Warren, and especially the proud socialist Bernie Sanders, could not be counted on to do exactly what they were told. The Obama claque especially needed a president to appoint agency heads who would cover-up its creation of an Intel Community Frankenstein, and all that monster has inflicted on the American public.

Of course, the main device the claque had for pulling “Joe Biden’s” strings was the flagrant record of his many years of bribery and treason. The major effort to cover-up all that was the DOJ and FBI’s suppression since 2019 of the Hunter Biden laptop, and the most stunning upshot was that the incendiary evidence of bribery and treason came out anyway, because so many copies of the laptop’s hard-drive got distributed. And absolutely nothing was ever done about it, nor about the actual persons — Christopher Wray, William Barr, and Merrick Garland — who worked to squash it, making themselves accomplices to ongoing bribery and treason.

All this criminal misconduct is connected in a foul matrix of lawbreaking. The fact-patterns are well-established. Dozens of excellent books have catalogued the misdeed of RussiaGate and scores of websites daily dissect the shady intrigues around the “vaccine” crusade. The infamies of gross election interference have been systematically laid-out in the Twitter Files of the past two months. Many books, published essays, and videos substantiate the reality of massive ballot fraud in 2020 and 2022, including the felonious role of Mark Zuckerberg’s front org, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and the election law manipulations or Lawfare goblin Marc Elias.

There’s an understandable wish that upcoming hearings in Congress will lead to a reckoning for all of this. To banish consequence from public life, as we have done, is a pretty grave insult to nature, but who can tell whether accountability might restore our institutions at this point. We may be too far gone. The US is visibly collapsing now: our economy, our financial arrangements, our culture, our influence in world affairs, and our basic consensus about reality. We’re entering a phase of disorder and hardship that is likely to moot the further depredations of a government at war with its people. For one thing, it’s becoming impossible to pretend that this vicious leviathan has the money to carry on because the money is only pretending to be money.

It’s no wonder that the collective ability for sense-making has failed. It will be quickly restored by each of us in the scramble to survive these disorders and hardships. The bewildering hypotheticals of recent years begin to dissolve like mist on the mountain and things come back into focus: your health, your daily bread, your shelter, your associations with other people close to you, your values, and most of all the power of your own choices. Nature, much insulted and maligned, will sort out the rest.

* * *

* * *


Fierce fighting continues to unfold in eastern Ukraine, with towns facing constant Russian bombardment and troops battling Wagner mercenaries near the city of Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, Russian missile strikes killed an elderly woman in a Kharkiv residential building and shelling killed at least three people in the southern city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said.

Kyiv is making renewed pleas for Western jets and long-range missile systems after securing pledges for dozens of modern battle tanks from allies.

The decision by the US and NATO allies to send tanks to Ukraine has made it "pointless" for Moscow to engage in any talks with Kyiv, Russia's deputy foreign minister said.

* * *

WHAT ORWELL FEARED were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. 

— Neil Postman


  1. Marshall Newman January 31, 2023

    Regarding the “Van Zants” postcard photograph, more likely Anderson Creek than Rancheria Creek, though both flowed past the Van Zandt family’s Hazel Hill property (which later became Tumbling McD Guest Ranch and more recently Wild Iris Retreat).

    • peter boudoures January 31, 2023

      Anderson creek is much more steep on the sides. Van Zandt is up against rancheria and the Navarro, Anderson enters next to Indian creek on the opposite side.

      • Marshall Newman January 31, 2023

        You are thinking of the wrong property. This isn’t the current Van Zandt’s Redwood View Resort, founded by Don Van Zandt in 1931, but Hazel Hill, which was owned by Don Van Zandt’s father, Ben C. Van Zandt. Ben C. Van Zandt established Hazel Hill as a resort around the turn of the 20th century. As noted, Hazel Hill later became Tumbling McD Guest Ranch and more recently Wild Iris Retreat.

        • peter boudoures February 8, 2023

          Oh okay you’re right. I agree with you. The second picture he posted certainly looks like Anderson creek. I knew of Archie but didn’t realize van zandts owned it before he and Alice

  2. George Hollister January 31, 2023


    I am reminded of the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange. Humans can be violent for no reason other than some humans like to be violent.

    • Harvey Reading January 31, 2023

      Lay it on thick. As long as folks like you do their best to ensure that the gullible are convinced that nonsense like you peddle reflects reality, your wealthy kind will continue to rule. But, there’s a problem, George: people ARE awakening to what a crappy country the US has become (and has been for most of its history)…and, they’ve had a bellyful of the lies and misinformation and other conditioning from the ruling class and its “loyal” lackeys, like you.

  3. Eric Sunswheat January 31, 2023

    Mendo Courthouse Solar Electric Panel Parking Lot Array Plan AWOL

    RE: Ukiah in the form of an indefensible new County Courthouse points out that this looming architectural crime… (Ed Notes)

    –> January 4, 2023
    Recognizing that reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is an essential component of climate action, in 2019 California increased its renewable energy goal to 60% by 2030.

    Early last year, EIX, Southern California Edison (SCE)’s corporate parent, announced that California will not meet the 2030 climate goal.

    Given that we are behind schedule, one would think the state would start subsidizing rooftop solar, structured solar over parking lots, batteries, and bidirectional cars to try and meet that goal. The CPUC has gone in the opposite direction…

    An important downside of large scale generation is that it typically takes about ten years for large scale generation projects and associated interconnects and grid upgrades to come on-line.

    Local rooftop solar can be on-line in about a month or two per installation. If we rely on large-scale solar, the build-time ensures that we won’t meet California’s 2030 climate goal.

  4. Marco McClean January 31, 2023

    Re: Piers Morgan: “These are incontrovertible statements of fact… The five cops who beat him to death were all black like him, so the motive for their appalling conduct was self-evidently not racism… How can anyone possibly attribute five black men killing a black man to racism and white people? It’s completely insane.”

    I don’t like feeling outnumbered by people like Piers Morgan and so many others who can’t immediately see what’s wrong with his schtick. They’re not necessarily ignorant; it might be just that their mental gears are stripped at that point, or they have fewer gears to turn or engage, or they have a massive head full of gears but they’re wound too tightly or saturated with bacon fat and alcohol and the mechanism is jammed there. Anyway, “self-evident” describes any result declared at the point where thinking stops. Or– I suppose it’s possible that Piers Morgan /can/ think it though and knows very well what’s wrong with what he’s saying, but says it anyway, and similar things, over and over, day after day, for reasons of his own. Would that be better or worse?

    • michael turner January 31, 2023

      I think it’s amusing when the very posh Mr. Morgan tries to sound tough by using words like “scumbag”.

    • George Hollister January 31, 2023

      Here is what a former law enforcement person wrote me after reading the article:

      “There are a number of reasons why recruitment for police officers is difficult, but they really all boil down to one core truth: anyone with the intelligence, common sense, mental stability, and integrity to be a good police officer can make more money in a far safer, less stressful environment doing any one of hundreds of different jobs. Many go into the job knowing that, but without the deep understanding of just how bad it is. That gets pounded into them, often literally, in the first few years or after the first failed marriage, sometimes both. Then they leave to find one of those other easier, better-paying jobs.
      The ones that cause the really serious problems are the ones that make it past the selection boards and through the police academy, where the people have, of necessity, settled for candidates who meet the bare minimums, believing they’ll have power when they get out on the street, even if it’s just the power to protect the deserving and right wrongs. When they discover how limited their power is and will be, they often turn cynical or bitter and begin taking it out on the general public. That’s one power a police officer does have; if you’re having a bad day, you can really spread it around. That’s not a good thing.”

  5. Stephen Rosenthal January 31, 2023

    Not that anyone cares, but here’s my take on the 49ers quarterback scenario. And what the hell, it’s more fun to speculate about sports than to dwell on politics or the ugly state of the world.

    Brock Purdy will almost certainly require surgery to repair the ligament damage in his throwing arm elbow. Depending on the extent of the damage, the full recovery window is 6-12 months. If the Niners believe Purdy will be ready by August or early September, he’s their starting qb. If not, I think they’ll try to sign Tom Brady because I’m convinced that Trey Lance is either a bust or, at the very least, a long-term development project. In other words, a 5-12 season and a lot of disgruntled veterans at or nearing the wrong side of their productive years.

    There are definitely needed upgrades, but with their current cast of core players the Niners realistic Super Bowl window is 2 years. The salary cap will be more than $20 million higher next season, so they could sign Brady to a short term deal without compromising their ability to improve their roster. And yes, I did watch a number of Brady’s games this season; outward appearances can be deceiving. As usual he played in every game, operated behind an almost non-existent offensive line composed of third stringers further hindered by a bunch of washed-up running backs, his offensive coordinator was fired after the season, and his receiving corps was decimated by injuries. He was forced to throw more than 50 passes in more than half the games, not a winning formula. Yet he still completed 65% of his passes, threw for almost 4,700 yards (25 TDs and 9 interceptions) and got the Bucs into the playoffs, albeit in a terrible division. Imagine the possibilities with the Niners offensive weapons!

    Look, he’s expressed a strong desire to finish his career with the team he grew up rooting for, so maybe he gives them a home town discount. If it happens, he’d also be a great mentor for Purdy who I think will be the Niners qb of the future if he fully recovers. I say get ‘er done Lynch and Shanahan.

  6. Bruce Anderson January 31, 2023

    Agree. Brady wouldn’t have any trouble running Shanahan’s offense and, a big plus, he can still throw long, but I’m betting Purdy will be back out of pure determination to BE back. It was a great season for the Niners and us fans.

  7. Marmon January 31, 2023


    I’ve never see a war where there’s no war footage. Is this whole thing a scam?


    • Bruce Anderson January 31, 2023

      You can hardly miss the war footage on the BBC every night, explosions and long-distance weapons, and only rarely a few Ukrainian soldiers hunkered down somewhere. What do you expect, John Wayne in close-up charging the Russkies with a handgun and a bayonet between his teeth?

      • Stephen Rosenthal January 31, 2023

        More likely Rambo.

    • Marshall Newman January 31, 2023

      Not a scam. And there is plenty of war footage of the Russian INVASION of Ukraine (Biden and Zelensky didn’t start this war). You might want to try an internet youtube search rather than depending on those television “news sources” you watch.

      • Harvey Reading January 31, 2023

        What about US and NATO military buildups over the decades on Russia’s western borders? Remember, Russia had been invaded twice, in the two preceding centuries by those “wonderful” folks who brought us the renaissance… Enjoy nuclear war! You’ve earned it. USans tend to be the dumbest of the dumb.

        • Marshall Newman February 1, 2023

          NONE of which are an excuse to invade a peaceful neighboring country, as Russian has done.

          • Harvey Reading February 1, 2023

            Sure it is. Just what do you think would happen if Russia or China entered into an agreement with Mexico, to station missiles and troops along its border with Texas?

            Your police-state conditioning apparently has been accomplished with ease by our great “of and by and for the people” guvamint and its bought-and-paid-for-by-the wealthy nooze media. Congratulations, Mr. Gullible

    • pca67 January 31, 2023

      You have to watch some thing more than Fox News or OAN.

  8. Chuck Wilcher January 31, 2023

    Clearlake, Middle of January (photo by James Marmon)

    If there ‘s a side of Mr. Marmon I can appreciate it would be his photographs on or around Clear lake.

  9. Sarah Kennedy Owen January 31, 2023

    It is probably not a coincidence that Judge Ann Moorman is an advisor for the Judicial Committee of California, the one that decided that Ukiah was in desperate need of a new courthouse. The word is that the old courthouse is “dangerous”, but the only justification for that slur is that the prisoners have to enter and exit on the street, thus exposing the public to a view of their so-called criminal faces. However, as far as I know, there have been no escapes or attacks due to this only “danger”. It does sound pretty badly planned to build a super duper expensive new courthouse with no offices for the DA. What is up with that? Or are they waiting to add that on to the already bloated expense account?

  10. Marmon January 31, 2023

    Is Bruce McEwen in jail or what? Maybe his antics have caught up with him.


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