Clouding | T-Dawg | Rainfall Totals | Taco Truck | Help Owens | Haiku Walk | Pisole Saturday | Crab Cakes | Art Walk | Lantern Festival | Honor Roll | Garage Sale | Dangerous Courthouse | Route 28 | Willits Arts | Gizmo Cage | Palace Courthouse | Peppernut Workshop | YouTube Meetings | Inside Ed | Court Records | Glowbird | Ed Notes | Shred Event | Charging Sites | Ghost Forest | Slow Kana | Mendo Weeders | Dealer Sentenced | Eureka Grandstand | Breathing Treatment | Yesterday's Catch | 1923 Storm | Engine #5 | Schiffstory | Shasta Lake | Pharma Showdown | Bernie's Bill | Video Games | Distracted | Biden Gamble | Walking Zombies | Removing Romanovs | Neocolonialism | Abrams Tanks | Holland Canal | Bad Food | Forest Destroyers | Processed Food | Brain Death | CA Cannabis | Wolves
CLOUDS WILL INCREASE across Northwest California today ahead of an approaching Pacific storm system. Gusty south winds will then develop across the region during Thursday, and light rain will spread east over the coast by Thursday evening. Additional periods of mainly light beneficial rain will occur through the weekend. (NWS)
Monthly figures for the 2022-23 rain season (Oct-Sep):
Boonville (31.80" total)
Yorkville (41.36" total)
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Hello AV folks;
There is a long time local family who really need some help and, not unexpectedly, Capt. Rainbow & Yvonne are spearheading an effort to do that. In fact they have already done a lot to make their house livable. They are planning a work party on Saturday, February 4th (this coming weekend) from 10 to 3ish.
The family is the Owens who live on Mt. View Road near the county transfer station/dump. They have become unable to do the basics at home so their home has fallen into serious disarray/dilapidation. The Saturday work party is to do a good house and yard clean up, or the best we can do with as many hands for however long people can stay. There is A LOT to do.
So if you can come please bring cleaning and protective supplies (kitchen and/or gardening gloves, masks). If you have a vehicle that could carry stuff to the dump it would be helpful. Money for dump runs would be helpful too.
Please pass this info along to anyone else who may like to lend a hand. In this case the community is the only resource the Owens have for this undertaking.
The Senior Class is cooking up a tasty Pisole dinner for pickup on Saturday. The students are selling tickets Wednesday and Thursday after school in front of the Junior/Senior High School. The dinner pick up is Saturday the 4th at the high school cafeteria. Dinner for 1 is $10 and dinner for 4 is $35.
Don't miss this tasty, home-made treat!
Willow Douglass Thomas
Senior Class, AVHS
THE CRAB CAKE COOK OFF is coming up soon, on Saturday, February 4, under the Big White Tent at Main and Spruce streets in Fort Bragg.
The fun kicks off at 11:00 am, with delectable crab cakes freshly created on site by some of the best chefs in Mendocino County, complemented by fine local wines. You’ll be served at your personal table, where you can sit back, relax with your friends, and enjoy the delicious food and wine while bidding on amazing travel packages, rare wines, and even a helicopter ride! This very special, once a year event is a fundraiser for Mendocino Coast Clinics, to help us keep providing the #bestcareanywhere to anyone who needs it.
FEBRUARY 2023 FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK
Enjoy one or all of the First Friday venues; art, music and refreshments
ART WALK: emphasis on ART and WALK. Ukiah is a very walkable town. Join artists and their hosts for an evening of art, music and refreshments as you stroll from one venue to the next; each showcasing local art and artistry. Held in Historic Downtown Ukiah on the first Friday of each month, the First Friday Art Walk is the perfect way to relax your body, mind and soul. This enjoyable evening begins at 5:00 p.m. and promises to delight your senses; all while enjoying the company of others.
Medium Art Gallery, 522 E Perkins Street, Ukiah
The Deep Valley Arts Collective invites you to an upcoming community art exhibition: Storytelling at MEDIUM Art Gallery in Ukiah. Once upon a time, humanity relied on visual imagery to tell stories. We continue to develop our various forms of communication and use many mediums to share our stories - pottery, song, dance, painting, photography, poetry and more. Artists are invited to submit artwork that is their interpretation of storytelling. Whatever form the art may take, let it tell the viewer a story. Opening reception during the First Friday Art Walk. Refreshments available.
Art Center Ukiah, 201 S State Street, Ukiah
Art Center Ukiah is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers. Stop in during the First Friday Art Walk to see their exhibits.
Bona Marketplace, 116 W Standley Street, Ukiah
Bona welcomes back Volkhard Sturzbecher with “Patterns in Nature.” Here is his self-description; I am a German artist exploring the natural wonders of the American West. I look for dramatic changes of forms, colors, light in landscapes that inspire my photography. I like to travel and camp out in a 4 x 4 truck - especially to remote wilderness areas - away from city lights where the night sky displays spectacular views of the milky way.
Ukiah Library, 105 N Main Street, Ukiah (Open from 5-7pm)
Ukiah Branch Library staff invite the community to join us for Art Walk Ukiah. Come enjoy an exhibit by local artists the Makers, titled “Makers Making Fun; an Assemblage Art Exhibit.” The Makers enjoy creating assemblages, and part of their love of this art process is collecting and repurposing odd and interesting objects found anywhere and everywhere. The mission of the Makers is to demonstrate that becoming an artist is born from creating for the joy of creating itself.
The Ukiah Branch Library will be hosting live music by Steve Hahm. Collage crafting card materials will be available for in-person crafting or as a Take & Make. Enjoy a book sale by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library as you browse the Art Walk. This exhibit is free to the public, for all ages, and sponsored by the Friends of the Ukiah Valley Library and Mendocino County Library.
Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House, 431 S Main Street, Ukiah
Spend a part of your February First Friday celebrating our newest exhibition, *The Curious World of Seaweed*. From nori to giant kelp, from bull kelp to surfgrass and eelgrass, seaweed is explored in this exhibition organized and traveled by Exhibit Envoy. The show features the artwork and research of Josie Iselin <https://www.josieiselin.com/>, a photographer, author, and designer of the book by the same name. Iselin’s writing and art focusing on seaweed, kelp, and sea otters puts her on the forefront of ocean activism, presenting and working with scientists and environmental groups to preserve the kelp forests of our Pacific Coast. Explore the show and try a hands-on activity while also enjoying sushi bites provided by exhibition sponsor Oco Time Restaurant, and live music. Also, discover or get reacquainted with our core galleries and Wild Gardens. Admission is always free for all visitors on First Friday.
Corner Gallery, 201 S State Street, Ukiah
Our cooperative gallery brings the inland community together to enjoy monthly show openings, taste local wines, enjoy appetizers with friends and hear live music, all while surrounded by original artwork. Mary Monroe is not a newcomer to the Corner Gallery’s front windows, but she will be showing almost entirely new work for the month of February. Her theme is “A Walk in My Garden” and it’s a showstopper. Live harp music will be provided by Suni Smith throughout the evening.
For more information contact, Mo Mulheren at Ukiah Valley Networking at firstname.lastname@example.org or text her at 707-391-3664.
AV UNIFIED HONOR ROLL, 2023 (Grades 7-12)
Gold (GPA >3.5) (Name, Grade, GPA)
Alcantar, Juan, 12, 4.0
Burger, Nathan, 12, 4.0
Swain, Jamal, 12, 3.86
Ellis, Anika, 12, 3.9
Perez-Marin, Diego, 12, 3.67
Malfavon, Carmen, 12, 3.76
Mendoza Espinoza, 12, 3.81
Bloyd, Cloey, 12, 3.86
Douglass-Thomas, Willow, 12, 3.86
Guerrero-Jimenez, Gibelli, 12, 3.86
Reynoso, Areli, 12, 3.96
Alarcon, Chantel, 11, 3.96
Jesus Hernandez, Miguel, 11, 3.57
Bucio-Olmedo, Tania, 11, 3.51
Lagunas Grijalba, Jose, 11, 3.53
Peters, Khyber, 11, 3.53
Anguiano-Rubio, Tricia, 11, 4.0
Crisman, Kellie, 11, 4.0
Sanchez, Beau, 11, 4.0
Marcum-Soto, Natalie, 10, 3.96
Bennett, Emilia, 10, 4.0
Cornejo, Soleil, 10, 4.0
Ochoa-Rocha, Julian, 10, 3.61
Perez-Reyes, Dariana, 10, 3.61
Espinoza, Keily, 10, 3.71
Mendoza, Brissa, 10, 3.73
Cruz, Fatima, 10, 3.66
Padilla, Nevaeh, 10, 3.56
Garcia-Parra, Cinthia, 10, 3.67
Mendoza, Alan, 9, 3.67
Snyder, Madison, 9, 3.53
Kephart III, Guy, 9, 3.87
Baird-Green, Violet, 9, 3.91
Crisman, Zoey, 9, 3.96
Gatlin, Wyatt, 9, 3.96
Arbanovella, Stella, 9, 4.0
Mayne, Ananda, 9, 4
de Vall, Landon, 8, 3.95
Sandoval, Vanessa, 8, 3.95
Valencia Lua, Alexis, 8, 3.95
Anguiano-Rubio, Aliya, 8, 4.0
Barajas-Gomez, Emily, 8, 4.0
Bennett, Zoe, 8, 4.0
Talavera Fernandez, Brianna, 8, 4.0
Solano-Hernandez, Jennifer, 8, 3.78
Velasco Velasco, Eric, 8, 3.55
Escobar Gutierrez, Evelyn, 8, 3.5
Soto Perez, Emily, 8, 3.85
Manzo-Damian, Alex, 7, 3.5
Espinoza, Nicholas, 7, 3.57
Irvin, Aaliyah, 7, 3.65
Osornio-Vargas, Ashley, 7, 3.67
Irvin, Robert, 7, 3.68
Velasco Velasco, Nicole, 7, 3.73
Lopez-Jimenez, Melany, 7, 4.0
* * *
Bronze (GPA 3.0-3.5) (Name, Grade, GPA)
Lievanos, Julianna, 12, 3.06
Carrillo, Alejandro, 12, 3.09
Perez, Asirianna, 12, 3.1
Sanchez, Fatima, 12, 3.33
Johnson, Kozara, 12, 3.37
Sanchez, Noah, 12, 3.39
Escalera, Belinda, 12, 3.46
Zacapa-Lagunas, Madalayne, 12, 3.47
Ochoa, Lisset, 12, 3.29
Orozco Hernandez, Juan Luis, 12, 3.37
Lopez, Yuliza, 12, 3.47
Ferreyra, Randal, 11, 3.04
Bucio, Leslie, 11, 3.09
Spacek, August, 11, 3.09
Alvarez-Perez, Marissa, 11, 3.14
Anguiano, Anahi, 11, 3.14
Guerrero, Samuel, 11, 3.14
Avalos-Alvarez, David, 11, 3.19
Perez-Rodriguez, Eric, 11, 3.19
Spacek, Jack, 11, 3.19
Bucio-Medina, Fernando, 11, 3.23
Bucio-Medina, Roberto, 11, 3.24
Zavala-Camacho, Mariana, 11, 3.24
Chagoya, Orion, 11, 3.29
Flores-Almanza, Mariana, 11, 3.29
Espinoza, Lucy, 11, 3.39
Bucio, Leilani, 11, 3.41
Franco, Evelyn, 11, 3.43
Anguiano, Omar, 10, 3.1
Camarillo-Balandran,, 10, 3.1
Brodie, Lola, 10, 3.14
Schock, Finneas, 10, 3.23
de Vall, Benjamin, 10, 3.3
Lopez-Mendoza, Natalie, 10, 3.34
Schroder, Keaira, 10, 3.39
Magana-Montano, Edwin, 10, 3.47
Espinoza, Samantha, 9, 3.14
Flores-Bailon, Samantha, 9, 3.14
Perez-Medina, Joanna, 9, 3.14
Ferreyra, Giovani, 9, 3.23
Delgado, Monica, 9, 3.24
Garcia-Parra, Ciomary, 9, 3.24
Ramos-Reynoso, Viridiana, 9, 3.43
Garibay-Espinoza, Nayely, 9, 3.47
Alvarez Magana, Jose, 8, 3.17
Sanchez, Sophia, 8, 3.28
Mendoza Espinoza, Alan, 8, 3.38
Lopez, Karla, 7, 3
Parra, Saul, 7, 3
Sandoval, Kevin, 7, 3.23
Cruz-Carrillo, Helen, 7, 3.27
Contreras, Jaquelin, 7, 3.28
Lopez, Carlos, 7, 3.28
Venuto, Logan, 7, 3.28
Hernandez-Fuentes, JR., 7, 3.45
* * *
Please congratulate the students who earned their into 1st semester CSF membership. These students got mostly As in the most rigorous academic classes we offer.
We'll be planning a field trip in the spring to celebrate their accomplishments.
CTE Academy, Senior Seminar, Senior Project and College Counseling
Anderson Valley Jr./Sr. High School
SARAH KENNEDY OWEN: 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?
CALIFORNIA STATE ROUTE 28 can be seen below between Flynn and Navarro in Mendocino County passing through a Coastal Redwood Grove. The original California State Route 28 was swapped for California State Route 128 in 1953 to make room for a continuation of Nevada State Route 28 on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. California State Route 128 west of McDonald is known as the McDonald to the Sea Highway as it terminates at California State Route 1 near the mouth of the Navarro River. This photo was snipped from the August 1942 California Highways & Public Works which featured a realignment of California State Route 28 near Navarro.
AMI! OR AMY!
The Willits Center for the Arts is pleased to announce, Amy Davis, M.A. Executive Director of NUMA Museum I Los Gatos, CA, will be in town to present a collection of works from the 21st Century. Join us on Friday, February 10th for a trip through this century's most astounding art of the past several decades.
About Ami Davis
Ami is committed to making art relevant and accessible to all audiences. She has worked in museums since 1998, with a focus on art history, exhibitions, education, fundraising, and community partnerships. She holds an M.A. in Art History from California State University, San Jose, and a B.A in Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has served institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Monterey Museum of Art, the Orange County Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. She has also served as an instructor for courses in contemporary art at UCLA Extension and has been a panelist and presenter at numerous national museum conferences. She currently serves as Executive Director of NUMU | New Museum Los Gatos. Ami lives in Santa Cruz, California with her family.
Ami tells us, “This century has produced a complex, global art community like never before. From the bizarre performances of Matthew Barney to the domestic installations of Andrea Zittel, twenty-first-century art challenges our assumptions and notions of value, authenticity, and entertainment.”
This presentation introduces important artists and themes from the last several decades. With a primary focus on the United States, we will also address international developments in art, such as those in China and the Middle East.
Friday, February 10, 2023. Upstairs in the Great Room at 6:30pm.
Willits Center for the Arts. 71 E. Commercial St. Willits. 95490.
STATE FUNDED WASTEFUL EYESORE
I had just begun to wonder if I would hear back from the estimable Major re-my last email on the subject of The Palace when I finally got around to his latest must-read ‘County Notes.’ I was delighted and surprised to see that you had chosen to not only print that email but to give a thoughtful reply about it.
Though reporting on the present BOS and the rest of the county's bureaucracies must seem like a futile and Sisyphean task, I and the rest of the tiny minority who try to stay abreast of the county's ‘hard, hard work’ appreciate your efforts very much. I have often wondered how much things would be different politically across this great land if every county had a reporter on such a beat and a newspaper not afraid to publish the kind of frank assessments we get from the good Major.
I couldn't agree more with you guys on the stupidity of this proposed state-funded eyesore that will give a kick in the teeth to the struggling downtown economy when it's down. I believe I have written about it in the past, but it has been a while.
Ever since they have been talking about this new courthouse I have tried to make the case that the no-brainer location for it would be the Palace Hotel property; it would kill two birds with one stone! Getting rid of most of a city block of dangerously dilapidated fire hazard while building the new courthouse in the heart of downtown where it might actually liven up some of the boarded-up storefronts around it.
The most logical thing would be to clear the site and excavate it to provide underground parking throughout, then build however many courtrooms they need in a two- or three-story building above. If they wanted to continue using all or part of the existing courthouse (for all the other offices now located there), they could have a third floor enclosed bridge between the two buildings. Wouldn't that be cool? If people were so sold on the look of the existing Palace, they could recycle the bricks, build an efficient, seismic, modern steel-framed structure and make a brick veneer exterior. it could look exactly the way it looks today for a fraction of what it would cost to try to retrofit what's there now.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN ASKS (facebook post): “Do you use the County YouTube page to watch meetings?”
“Goldie Locks” replied: “Absolutely! Every time I'm bored enough to pluck out my own eyes.”
FORMER SUPERINTENDENT HUTCHINS’ INSIDE ED
Tune in at 7PM on the 4th Thursday every month for Inside Education. Join host, Michelle Hutchins, former County Superintendent of schools, as she answers questions on; Student mental health, Talking to children about climate change, and Improving the adult and student experience in schools. KZYX-Mendocino Public Broadcasting Stream or tune in to 88.1 Fort Bragg, 90.7 Philo, or 91.5 Ukiah and Willits. https://www.KZYX.org
FRANK HARTZELL WONDERS: It has been almost 2 years since I have been able to access Mendocino County court records online. They worked for like one month. when the new system was launched. I have worked over and over with the county, their tech support and the company that they hired to do this. I am informed that about 20 percent of people cannot access the online court public records system because of some bug that wont work with my computer. Which is a MacBook Air. I have tried 5 different browsers, emptying caches, nothing works. I have missed countless stories for this. The publisher of the Mendocino Voice and other people I know can get in. What happens to me is I look things up and when I go to buy the documents (none are free to look at anymore) I cannot buy anything. This means I look ONLY at page one of all court files. Plus the awesome old file index that used to be online is no longer available. I would like to sue the county to get access. I dont want any money, although this has cost me lots but I want it to work for me and everybody equally. I have tried 3 different credit cards, set up new email addresses, nothing works. Have others had this problem who would want to join in?
A TRUE STORY FROM BOONVILLE, 1971
The great hippie political takeover of Mendocino was still a few years away from that summer day in 1971 when we established our raucous brood in Mendocino County's serene summer hills, not far from the unsuspecting hamlet of Boonville where, on a memorable night soon after we'd arrived, we got our first lesson in the psychopathology of the adolescent criminal.
The delinquents occasionally acted like the children they were, and when they did we were reminded that as demented as their behavior often was, they were still kids, chronologically considered. One of the few wholesome, age-appropriate exertions we could get them to make was night hikes, and even these excursions couldn’t be too strenuous; the delinquents wouldn’t do long uphills, so we had to plan the walks as if their crippling mental wounds were also physical handicaps.
None of them had ever been any place that wasn’t paved, let alone been taken out at night for a non-violent walk to explore the non-neon world. So there we were strolling along under the moonlight disturbing whatever nocturnal fauna there was to disturb when a frog suddenly appeared on the path before us. In one instinctual leap, six delinquents jumped competitively out to stomp the amphib flat.
“Why'd you do that?”
The frog killers stared back with “we-did-something-wrong?” looks on their faces.
There’s no cure for the frog stomping personality; it’s either jail or a career in law enforcement.
All day every day, and long into the night every night, we fought to maintain a semblance of order, or “structure,” as the theoreticians of delinquency called it. But in reality, even on our best days, all we accomplished was damage control. Every waking hour was a struggle to keep the little nutballs from harming each other or from destroying our leased premises; there was no time left over to steer them in the direction of functional citizenship, which we, being products of the great turmoil of the sixties, weren’t much committed to ourselves.
The delinquents were quick to exploit the contradictions.
“You tell us not to smoke marijuana and you smoke it.” Etc.
Yes, we were wholly unprepared for our hopeless task. Worse, we lacked practical skills, such as the crucial one of large-group food-prep, itself a full-time job in our harried circumstances. We could hardly take time away from the exhausting supervision of the delinquents to grab a peaceful bite ourselves, let alone prepare three hearty meals every day for our hungry brood. Of course, as idealists one of our sub-delusions was that if we served wholesome foods instead of the negative food value items preferred by the delinquents, the delinquents might be less energetically delinquent.
Tofu or deep fried tacos, the delinquents remained delinquent.
We called down to the employment office in San Francisco for a full-time cook. We knew we’d be lucky to lure anybody north for a job slot like ours so we euphemized the position as “Wanted. Live-in organic cook for rural child care center. Free room and board.”
A job counselor said she had just the couple for us with just the right experience. “But,” she added ominously, “Scott and Emily are different.”
“Different,” as applied to the generic American citizen of 1970 was already an infinitely elastic descriptive, having come to include everyone from freeway killers to people who deliberately wore mismatched socks.
But our job offer was far from ideal employment, what with guarding the knife drawer from underage psychos while trying to prepare three healthy meals a day in a primitive country kitchen three hours north of San Francisco.
Desperate, we hired Scott and Emily sight unseen. We were getting two cooks for the salary of one, the job lady assured us, and our eager new employees would arrive the very next day by Greyhound.
They did, too.
The first chef off the bus was a large, shirtless man with a weightlifter’s upper torso whose shaved head looked like a topo map, scars forehead to nape. Wherever the guy had been, he’d been there often, and he’d been there head first without protective headgear. And he’d obviously had regular access to a serious weight pile.
Chef Scar Head, his eyes averted, ignored our extended hands and welcoming grins as he dismounted the Greyhound, but he did grunt what could have been interpreted as a greeting.
Behind him appeared a plump woman of about 30. She was togged out in a granny dress and an old-fashioned wagon train bonnet. She greeted us with what sounded like, “bok-bok,” but could have been “awk-awk.” Either way the sound seemed as non-committal as her mate’s grunt. Mrs. Scar Head either had a serious speech impediment or she was crazy. Assessing her entire presentation, from her mid-19th century outfit to what we hoped was a speech impediment, we assumed Emily was at least as far off as her man, Scott, the world’s strongest cook.
Last to appear was a little girl of about six. The child was togged out in a pink chiffon party dress and wore shiny black pumps on her fat little feet. She looked like she was going to a birthday party, circa 1950. We hadn’t expected the child, but she merely punctuated what we already knew was the huge error of hiring her parents.
The Greyhound spent the night in Fort Bragg before it returned southbound through Boonville the next morning. The odd family would be with us overnight. Looked at objectively, the Scar Heads weren’t that much wackier than we were, and besides they’d just arrived. Just because they looked nuts didn’t necessarily mean they were nuts. Hell, if you went only by appearances, half the population of the Anderson Valley looked like they’d benefit from face time with a mental health professional.
Scott and Emily’s luggage consisted of a bulging backpack lugged by Emily, and a two-foot square metal ammo box toted by Scott. The family traveled light for people who’d taken on a live-in job.
The child’s parents, our new cooks, hadn’t introduced themselves other than Mom’s cryptic “bok-bok,” so we weren’t surprised that they never did identify their daughter, who was also non-verbal in the manner of her mother. When we greeted the child, she replied with a cheery “wook-wook.”
We would call her Little Wook-Wook and her parents The Bok-Boks. We certainly didn’t need three more disturbed persons added to our volatile population of marginally competent adults and junior criminals. But here they were, and a deal was a deal. It might even work out. Maybe they were just shy.
The two-and-a-third chefs climbed into our van for the six-mile trip to the ranch, Scott gripping his ammo box, Emily soundless beside him, the child on her mother’s lap, attentive to the country scenery.
Assistant chef Emily responded to our attempts to get some recent work history out of her with affirmative nods. Chef Scar Head ignored us. He stared straight ahead, his big hands cradling the ammo box. The little girl, spotting some sheep, sang out, “cow-cows.”
When we arrived at Rancho Loco, Emily tossed the family backpack into the indicated cabin and, still without speaking, all three of our new culinary crew walked on into the kitchen for an introductory tour of their work site. They moved single-file, like a family of Dyaks on a jungle path: Scott and his ammo box, then Emily, little whatever her name was bringing up the rear. Two of us fell in behind the child, wondering why we were following our employees rather than leading them.
At our appearance in the shed-like mess hall, the delinquents, as usual raucously arrayed around a battered pool table, went silent. Children who have been raised on the violence principle — force or the threat of it to get what you want — know at a glance who’s dangerous and who’s not. The delinquents knew in their estranged bones that the big scary-looking dude who’d just walked through the door could and would stomp them at little or no provocation. He wasn’t just another harmless, neo-hippie doofus like the rest of the so-called adults at this rural juvenile hall; no, the new cook presented a clear and present danger to all living things, as randomly hazardous as any two-legged predator roaming their old neighborhoods in San Francisco and Oakland. “Settle in, look around, meet the boys,” I grandly invited the cooks without meaning it, hoping that Scar Head’s unspoken menace didn’t manifest itself in tangible trouble before I could get the three of them back on the southbound ’hound the next morning and to hell outtahere.
to be continued…
The Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) is partnering with ChargePoint, a recipient of a “Rural Electric Vehicle” grant from the California Energy Commission, in soliciting community input on preferred electric vehicle (EV) charging sites to be installed in the greater Ukiah/Redwood Valley/Hopland area. The project includes installation of 25 EV chargers dispersed at five separate sites, including a fast charging hub in central Ukiah, plus four additional sites to be located in the project area. Each of the five charging sites will include approximately five chargers.
MCOG is seeking input from countywide residents on where these chargers should be placed, since many households work, shop, or attend school in the greater Ukiah area. To kick off the public outreach process, community members are invited to participate in a virtual workshop on Thursday, February 16 (5:30 -6:30 p.m.) in which representatives from MCOG and ChargePoint will review the project’s goals and invite community input. To attend this workshop, please click on the link below.
Additional opportunities for public input will be available beginning February 15, 2023 through an interactive survey and map on MCOG’s website, where individuals may pin their preferred charging location and provide comment. Comments may also be mailed to the MCOG office at 525 S. Main Street, Suite G; Ukiah, CA 95482, or emailed to email@example.com.
Topic: Rural EV Charging Station Locations - Community Workshop
Time: Feb 16, 2023 05:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84568566336...
Meeting ID: 845 6856 6336
FLOW KANA MOTHBALLED
by Chris Roberts
Flow Cannabis Co., the California operator that raised nearly $200 million in a bid to become “the Whole Foods of cannabis,” has “eliminated” all plant-touching activities and “mothballed” operations after running out of cash, according to company documents and a board member.
The once-industry-leading but now-struggling company burned through more than $24 million in cash in 2021 and reported sales of “approximately” $11 million, according to investor updates from the board obtained by MJBizDaily.
Cannabis Co. – often referred to by its flagship brand, Flow Kana – has leased some licensed facilities to other companies and is attempting to sell off other real estate.
The company could eventually be sold or merge with another, board member Kevin Albert said in an interview, although the goal is to “survive” until at least 2025.
It’s a dramatic reversal for a company that aspired to become “the world’s largest cannabis supply chain” and was once one of Mendocino County’s largest employers, with more than 200 workers and a legion of small farmers growing craft marijuana on its behalf.
Last spring, however, after a bid to boost margins by becoming vertically integrated, Flow Cannabis laid off nearly all its workforce as the company continued to struggle with difficult market conditions, high taxes, an illicit market and product oversupply that ensure “outdoor cultivation prices have remained below cost of production,” according to quarterly investor updates obtained by MJBizDaily.
“Faced with an adverse environment that continued to produce significant losses to the business and a dwindling cash balance, the company resolved to cease all manufacturing activities and execute a final reduction in force, wherein all operational functions have been eliminated,” the company reported to investors in December.
After pursuing possible “combinations” with “multiple parties” and letting its cultivation licenses lapse, the company is now leasing out licensed processing and manufacturing facilities, including its 300-acre Flow Cannabis Institute in Redwood Valley, to other operators.
“We’ve mothballed (operations). We’ve cut the cash burn,” Albert told MJBizDaily.
To obtain operating cash in the near term, Flow Cannabis secured a $3 million loan with a 14% annual interest rate using property as collateral.
The company will repay the loan once the property is sold, documents noted.
According to Albert, Flow Cannabis and its brands will remain dormant until market conditions improve or the company is sold – perhaps to a multistate operator, “or if you have federal legalization, it could be a pharmaceutical company.”
“We could go back into business tomorrow if it made sense to do that,” Albert added.
But, for now, “our mantra is, stay alive until ’25.”
Major fall from grace
Flow Cannabis’ latest difficulties – which have not been previously reported – represent one of the highest-profile falls from grace for a legal California marijuana business.
The company’s plight also underscores the struggles the marijuana industry is enduring in California and beyond.
Launched in California in 2015, Flow Cannabis was an early and vocal advocate for small farmers in the state’s famed Emerald Triangle, composed of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties.
Flow Cannabis promised to connect multigenerational craft producers, whom state law prohibits from selling directly to consumers, to eager buyers in urban areas.
In return, the company offered farmers the opportunity to cut their costs and expand their market reach – a proposition it fell short on delivering, observers and former farmer partners said.
The company’s current situation follows a major departure from that vision – growing cannabis in-house rather than relying on dozens of craft marijuana growers – observers and former growers said.
Michael “Mikey” Steinmetz, a co-founder of Flow Cannabis and a former CEO who still sits on the company’s board, previously told MJBizDaily the pivot was “neither by design nor by choice.”
“It was contrary to our original business thesis,” he said, “but we’re doing it so that the dreams can have even a way of surviving.”
While Flow Cannabis officials such as Albert and investor documents said the company’s attempt to grow its own marijuana at a 12-acre farm in Lake County exceeded expectations, internal emails and former employees say it was unsuccessful, with most of the crop harvested in late fall 2021 contaminated with mold.
The saga also serves as an acknowledgment that thorny state regulatory and tax burdens as well as complications posed by federal prohibition have forced companies to drastically revisit formerly rosy sales forecasts – many based on economic models imported from pre-legalization days, when wholesale cannabis prices were much higher.
At the same time, gambles on a national market with legal interstate commerce have proved premature.
“This company, as many others have, mis-assessed just how long the federal government can ignore the will of the people,” Albert said, in a nod to earlier company growth projections that the company would become a major national player, shipping craft California outdoor cannabis to East Coast markets.
Some observers, including those who’ve done business with private equity firm Gotham Green Partners, which internal documents describe as the company’s largest equity investor, said the operator’s plight is also a parable for entrepreneurs who are tempted to raise capital for their companies in exchange for ceding equity – and thus losing control.
Steinmetz, the Flow Cannabis co-founder and former CEO, remains on the board but appeared to lose his control over the company in late 2021, according to board documents and other materials reviewed by MJBizDaily.
That was at the same time Flow Cannabis’ board was “rebooted” after it bought out an unidentified “large investor who wasn’t interested in continuing with the company,” Albert said.
Steinmetz declined to comment for this story.
Jason Adler, New York-based Gotham Green’s managing partner, declined to comment to MJBizDaily.
Companies that also have done deals with Gotham Green said Flow Cannabis’ fortunes reflect an industry-prevalent “loan-to-own” ethos in which some marijuana investment firms will offer capital only to later take over a struggling company.
“They come in, shower you with promises and get close to you. Meanwhile, they’re sharpening up the toothbrush, getting ready to stab you in the kidneys,” said Hadley Ford, a former CEO of multistate operator iAnthus Capital Holdings.
Ford now says his company’s choice to find emergency capital via a loan from Gotham Green ultimately led him to lose control of iAnthus – and that Flow Cannabis’ fortunes mirror his own.
Albert disputed that characterization, noting that Gotham Green is an equity partner in Flow Cannabis rather than a lender, and “like any bank or credit fund I am aware of, the lender exercised their rights under the credit agreement” when iAnthus failed to repay the loan.
“They neither had a right nor the power to take control” of Flow Cannabis, Albert said. He added that Gotham Green “did more than anyone else” to save the company from total “liquidation” in late 2021.
Flow Cannabis’ plight also represents a major blow for California’s heirloom cannabis farmers.
With a network of small farmers producing craft flower from heirloom genetics and using regenerative farming techniques, the company sold enough Flow Kana-branded jars of sun-grown flower to become California’s top-selling flower brand in 2018.
The farmers became the face of the brand, which preached a “small is beautiful” mantra even as it harbored ambitions to become “the world’s largest cannabis supply chain,” with aims on both “the California market and (the inevitable) national market,” according to company investor decks.
But behind the scenes, Flow Cannabis was slow to compensate for product and ponied up well below what it had promised when it did pay, according to interviews with five former farmer partners.
Already angry at the state for legalizing marijuana in a manner they believe is unfriendly to small operators, former farmer partners now say they feel betrayed by Flow Cannabis, which has become an avatar for marijuana legalization’s broken promises.
“They were all hat, no cattle,” said one former farmer partner, speaking on condition of anonymity after signing a nondisclosure agreement.
According to Albert, the board member, the Emerald Triangle farmers were unreliable business partners who would often find better-paying deals than what Flow Cannabis could offer, including on the illicit market.
“In a hot market, like (during) COVID, the farmers were able to sell (elsewhere) at higher prices than they could selling to Flow Kana,” he said.
“The farmers were trying to optimize their outcome, and Flow Kana was trying to optimize its outcome, and the two were somewhat incompatible.”
Overall, there’s a feeling in the Emerald Triangle that the company’s vow to provide small farmers an opportunity to capitalize on legalization went unfulfilled, according to farmer advocates such as Genine Coleman, the executive director of the Origins Council, which advocates on behalf of multigenerational heirloom farmers.
Flow Cannabis’ business model was based on one imported from commodity farmers who grow coffee or oranges and outsource the final steps on the supply chain to a large operator.
But those agricultural models were a poor fit for cannabis, according to Coleman.
“The experience with Flow Kana was a powerful lesson for the Emerald Triangle, underscoring the importance of preserving our sovereignty as a community of small, independently owned and operating businesses,” Coleman said.
“Our regional brand voice must be community-driven, and every effort must be made to give small producers independent market access, through tools like direct-to-consumer sales.”
Flow Cannabis’ initial upward trajectory reflects the enthusiasm the cannabis industry generated in 2018 and 2019, when publicly traded companies based in Canada were delivering early investors stupendous returns.
The company collected cash from investors such as Poseidon Investment Management, Elevation Partners venture capitalist Roger McNamee, Chicago-based Salveo Capital and others, including Gotham Green, which led a $125 million Series B financing round in 2019 that, at the time, was believed to be the largest private raise in cannabis.
Flush with capital, Flow Cannabis spent $3.5 million to purchase an 80,000-square foot former winery in Redwood Valley that it remodeled into a processing and manufacturing center dubbed the Flow Cannabis Institute.
It also bought the 12-acre Solar Living Center (SLC in Hopland, California, which it planned to convert into a “cannabis museum” to complement the dispensary, Emerald Pharms, then on-site.
The company hoped to offload both the SLC and a hilltop property it calls the Flow Ranch before the end of 2022 in order to bring in “several million in proceeds,” according to last summer’s investor update.
Though the SLC was close to being sold before a buyer backed out because of a “funding issue,” both properties were still recently listed for sale: the SLC for $2.7 million and the Flow Ranch for $2.9 million – its listed 2018 sale price.
Litany of disasters
According to Albert, Flow Cannabis chose to cultivate its own marijuana in 2021 after encountering obstacles dealing with the small farmers who made up the company’s identity.
Though the company met its self-set production goals at a 13-acre grow in Lake County in 2021 – with a “minor amount of mold” cleaned up, and the affected flower extracted into oil – the wholesale price of cannabis crashed to half of what the company projected at planting, Albert said.
However, former employees said the 2021 fall harvest at the Lake County was a disaster, with almost all the crop contaminated with mold because of heavy rains and a late harvest.
“I have pictures of what was coming off of the truck – there was crazy, moldy, dirty, shitty, brown weed coming from the farm,” said Jessica Maguire, a Mendocino County native who worked for Flow Cannabis as a processing manager before her April 2022 layoff.
Despite raising concerns over worker safety and product quality posed by widespread mold – which can be ameliorated if cannabis is processed into oils or concentrates but still poses a hazard to workers exposed to spores that can cause lung and neurological problems – Maguire and other workers told MJBizDaily they were told to continue the harvest.
They also said company managers insisted on harvesting and arranging for the drying of more and more moldy flower to meet production goals.
“There were all these red flags being raised,” said Achilles Gallardo, who was employed by Flow Cannabis as a processing manager.
The moldy cannabis put “clouds and clouds of dust” into the drying room, he said.
“I have literally never seen so much mold in my life,” Gallardo noted, adding that workers were ordered to continue with the harvest even after reporting dizziness.
Emails obtained by MJBizDaily from other workers tell similar stories.
The “lack of care for health and safety of employees is astonishing and disturbing,” wrote employee Casey Vaughn in a Dec. 2, 2021 email.
Reached via phone, Vaughn declined to comment.
During this time, the company also allegedly used third-party contract workers who were underage and or undocumented, in apparent violation of state law that requires cannabis workers to be 21 or older and possess legal working papers, Gallardo and Maguire said.
Employee complaints about the mold and allegations about the “unprofessional” and unsafe conduct of an executive led the company to hire an outside law firm to conduct an investigation that found no wrongdoing, Albert said.
“People were afraid of losing their jobs – there had been two layoffs already – and they were not happy people,” Albert added.
“They were stressed out, and you know, complaining.”
The poor harvest was the final shot in a series of blows that damaged the company’s reputation in the Emerald Triangle – possibly beyond repair – according to critics who spoke with MJBizDaily.
Months earlier, the company also admitted responsibility for causing a July 2021 wildfire that burned 80 acres, destroyed three homes and forced 250 people to flee.
But, according to Albert, the explanation for Flow Cannabis’ dramatic fall can be reduced to a harsh market reality:
Too few California cannabis consumers wanted to buy sun-grown marijuana marketed based on its responsible, socially conscious ethos, preferring instead for a high-THC, low-dollar proposition.
“People don’t seem to care, honestly,” he said.
“It sounded good, but in the real world, nobody cared.”
Chris Roberts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE LONG GONE GOOD OLD BYGONE DAYS
Making history about Cannabis history here in Mendocino County! Join our members Casey O’Neil and Chiah Rodriques as they discuss living the Mendo cannabis lifestyle growing up. February 11th 1-3 pm in Willits.
Accompanied by their fathers, these two legacy cultivators will discuss how they grew up off-grid back to the land, cannabis culture and more. Come listen to some OGs! Cannabis is the thread that weaves so many tales. (Mendocino Cannabis Alliance)
DEALER FROM THE LARGEST BUST IN HUMBOLDT Drug Task Force History Pleads To 18-Year Split Sentence, Including Six Years In The County Jail
by Ryan Burns
Sixty-nine-year-old Jose Santiago Lomeli Osuna received an 18-year sentence this morning per the terms of a plea deal for five counts of drug possession for sale. The charges stem from the largest one-time seizure of illicit substances in the history of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force. However, Mr. Lomeli Osuna will spend only a fraction of that 18-year term behind bars.
In handing down the sentence Judge Christopher Wilson explained that these nonviolent drug offenses entitle Lomeli Osuna to a split sentence, with up to half of his time to be spent in the county jail and the remainder under mandatory supervision.
“The amount of controlled substances brought into the county is completely inexcusable and warrant Mr. Lomeli Osuna being excluded from the community for the lengthiest period of time that’s available to the court,” Wilson said. “That’s how dangerous this particular behavior was — and is.”
The maximum sentence for his crimes, which include possession for sale of large amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, is 18 years. However, per rule 4.415 of the California Rules of Court, Lomeli Osuna must be incarcerated in the county jail, rather than state prison. Wilson said that fact gave him pause.
“Eighteen years in the county facility is obviously not viable for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “One is that the county facility is not designed for long-term incarceration; it doesn’t have programs towards that.”
He also noted that Lomeli Osuna is 69 years old and has a range of health problems, including diabetes, gallstones and high blood pressure. And since he’s not a U.S. citizen he’s not eligible for Medicare or other other forms of financial support.
With the local community on the hook for Lomeli Osuna’s upkeep, likely including hospitalizations, Wilson decided to set his jail term at six years, with the assumption that he will be deported back to Mexico upon his release.
He was arrested in Eureka in September following a year-long investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking organization. Drug Task Force agents served six search warrants at sites allegedly connected to Lomeli Osuna’s drug ring and wound up seizing:
30 pounds of methamphetamine
5.5 pounds of cocaine
3 pounds of heroin
2 pounds of fentanyl
150 cannabis plants
50 pounds of processed cannabis
$115,500 US Currency and
In urging the court to give Lomeli Osuna more than six years behind bars, Deputy District Attorney Ian Harris pointed to this massive haul and said it included “enough fentanyl to kill almost everybody in Humboldt County.”
“The people would request a split sentence that encompasses more time in custody — over the halfway point,” Harris said.
Lomeli Osuna was represented by Humboldt County Conflict Counsel Meagan O’Connell, who communicated with her client through an interpreter.
“Mr. Lomeli Osuna was somewhat desperate,” she told the judge. “His wife suffered from cancer. She did pass away while he was in custody. They were paying out-of-pocket for her care.”
O’Connell added that her client regrets his conduct and took responsibility by pleading to all the charges against him.
But Wilson noted that Lomeli Osuna had been sentenced on drug charges twice already — in 1999 and again in 2003, both times in Los Angeles County — and was deported both times, with the latter deportation coming after he’d completed a three-year prison sentence.
“Deportation apparently does not equate to eliminating behavior that endangers the community,” Wilson remarked.
The judge also mentioned that according to Lomeli Osuna’s probation report, he initially denied being involved in the sales portion of the drug operation and said that “the United States was not listening or caring that he was not the main person in charge of those crimes and that he was taking the blame for everyone else.”
But Lomeli Osuna refused to tell authorities about anyone else who might be involved in the organization.
“Doesn’t work that way,” Wilson informed him in court this morning. “Either you are taking responsibility or, if you’re going to try to mitigate it by saying there’s other people involved with their higher ups, then at that point you have to tell us who they are.”
Wilson lamented the rules that tied his hands in sentencing, calling it “a gap in the legislation” that somebody who was trafficking in such large quantities of drugs is required to serve his incarceration term at the county jail.
But since that is the case, he said, “I think that the six-year term … is a reasonable amount of time for him to be out of the community prior to whatever happens to him next, which I assume will probably be his deportation.”
Wilson noted that Lomeli Osuna has two children living here in the community and thus may want to return here someday.
“I hope not,” the judge said, adding that doing so would likely be considered a violation of the terms of his mandatory supervision, which would likely send him to prison.
Lomeli Osuna has spent 138 days in custody, which gives him credit for double that amount — 276 days — pursuant to the “half time” credits spelled out in section 4019 of the penal code.
“I’m going to add an additional order here,” Wilson said before finalizing the sentence. “I know that sometimes early release is granted by the jail for various reasons.”
Not in this case, he said. “There is [to be] no early release without a court order.”
Lomeli Osuna, who’d sat quietly through most of the hearing, his face largely obscured behind a full white beard and his wrists cuffed together in his lap, was then escorted from the courtroom.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, CRAIG
Serious Medical Emergency Morning
Warmest spiritual greetings,
On Saturday got signed up for the UnitedHealthCare-Medicare Advantage plan, which adds a lot to the existing medical coverage. It was noted during the phone interview that I've no personal physician. Therefore, I am seeking an wholistic doctor, who would like to assist me in receiving wholistic treatments and can get the insurance to pay for them.
On the morning of Tuesday January 31st, awoke with a tight chest, unable to breathe properly. Was taken by ambulance to Adventist Health Hospital, being fed nitroglycerine tablets on the ride in. This was followed by a “breathing treatment”; cooling emulsion inhaled through a mask, plus injected solution which induced increased urination in order to flush out of the system the bad stuff. Was discharged hours later with a prescription for an inhaler, and steroids to be taken the next four days (no refill). Am able to walk right now with no fever, no inflamed tonsils, no concern about fainting, and the absence of nausea and general mental despair. Meanwhile, the real me is not affected by anything at all!
Holding fast to the constant,
Craig Louis Stehr
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, January 31, 2023
RODNEY AITON JR., Blue Lake/Willits. Failure to appear.
MARK ANASTASIOU, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
AKASHA CLEARWATER, Altaville/Fort Bragg. DUI, resisting.
MISTY CZYZEWSKI, Willits. Concealed weapon in vehicle, loaded handgun-not registered owner, paraphernalia, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm.
COREY GARMAN, Ukiah. Felon with firearm, concealed weapon, loaded handgun-not registered owner, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, tear gas, failure to appear, probation revocation.
CRAY HALL, Lakeport/Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
KRSTINA LAMBERT, Clearlake/Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
JESSI LUCAS, Branscomb. Failure to appear.
MARCO MARTINEZ-RODRIGUEZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.
EMILY RODRIGUEZ, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
SARAH SOLOMON, Arcata/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
NORTHWESTERN PACIFIC TRAINS WERE DELAYED some hours north of this city Monday night and Tuesday owing to the heavy wind and rain storm. Wire communication between Willits and Eureka was cut off by the storm and Eureka was forced to resort to the use of the wireless to re-establish communication with the bay cities. A landslide at Scotia, twenty miles south of Eureka, was attributed to the earthquake of Monday morning. (Ukiah Republican Press, January, 1923)
POTHOLES ON MEMORY LANE
I’d hate to be accused of being ageist, so I’ll help Fred Gardner's youthfully spirited mind (though I’m fairly certain it is older than 76 year old 2024 US Senate candidate Barbara Lee’s brain?) safely cross the street and not trip over Memory Lane’s potholes to point out that Adam Schiff did not vote for the War in Iraq as he flatly misstates in his article. Gardner muddles the facts. I’m not saying it is age as he has been doing this for decades. But for clarity’s sake, Schiff voted for the first “emergency appropriations” of which no less than half was to be spent on disaster recovery, to cope with the devastation on 9/11 in NY as well as repair damaged facilities, (remember the Pentagon took a hit as well…), etc. A quarter went to “fight terrorism" and "those responsible” but they were unnamed (partly unknown?...) at the time. When Bush named Iraq as the wrong place to wage war, Schiff voted against it. In Gardener's twenty year old sycophant’s ditty to Congresswoman Lee, he also implies that Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank both voted for the war in 2002 as well. They didn’t.
If you can’t trust your memory, or the dust pile of your inaccurate propaganda, just check the record for that vote on The War in Iraq. 126 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 Independent voted NAY. In total, 133 members of Congress. It wasn’t “Just you, Barbara Lee, just you all alone.” Lee was the single vote against the emergency appropriations, yes, and, as much as she may have seen the writing on the wall for Bush starting an unjust war under false pretenses in the wrong country, hers was also a vote against badly needed emergency funding to help clean up the toxic fallen World Trade Center, and the lives, and businesses attached or connected to it, along with the other economic fall out in America’s largest city and economic center.
The disaster recovery was not separated from the padding of the war chest. The vote wasn’t one or the other.
Of course, it should have been.
But our elected officials that are the true hawks and neocons outnumbered the saner negotiators and that is one of the many recurrent problems with our American political system.
I happen to be a big fan of Barbara Lee too, but let me jog your memory and remind you also of the fact that “seniority” as a US Senator undeniably plays a large part in who is selected to the most important Committees in the US Senate and who wields power in that branch of government. Tradition also holds that the Senator with the most seniority is named “chair” to those committees. Whoever is elected in 2024 as California’s other US Senator will be a first term “junior senator” (Senator Alex Padilla will become the "senior senator" when Senator Diane Feinstein vacates her position after 30 years, due in large part to her dementia seemingly brought on by old age...), so the incoming senator will have no seniority. The will not replace Feinstein at any current or past high-powered position, certainly not as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee or chair of the Senate Rules Committee or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
For these reasons alone, if a California voter wanted maximum influence for its state of close to 40 million citizens and the world’s fourth biggest economy, they may lucidly not want their senator to start building that clout as a 77 year old freshman.
That doesn’t seem to be ageist, it seems to be a clear thinking realist.
I hate that my own shrinking brain (science says the human brain starts to shrink in your 30’s and 40’s and then increasingly in your 60’s…) which often confuses sports and politics, but given the Niners brutal play-off loss and the season-ending injury of another QB (two really, but Johnson’s too old to even be a back up now, right?), I wonder if it is ageist to not want to give a 6 year (the length of US Senate term) contract to Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers next season to take the place of the the injured Brock Purdy and Trey Lance who are about half their age? But Brady and Rodgers are both future hall-of-famer, MVPS who have played so well in the past…
Robert Mailer Anderson
PS. It’s also not exactly impartial journalism applying “pompous, sanctimonious” to Adam Schiff in your first paragraph when neither of the other candidates garner any such descriptive adjectives. Schiff will also be seen as a “centrist” possibly only to provincial splinter groups of the radical left. For example, the rightwing CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) list Schiff as part of “The Coalition of The Left” and ranked the same as Katie Porter and Bernie Sanders on their political list. According to Gov.TrackUS 2020 report-card (not conservative), of the 236 dems, with Lee being the most left wing (they got that right), Schiff rates 55. That is definitely left of center for our nation. And he is 12 of 31 for California Congressional dems. Also left of Center. And left of Katie Porter who on this list is eight clicks to the right of him. Yes, these are just two organizations basing their rankings on their own matrix of actions and policy votes, etc. But “closeted neocon” and “candidate seen as a centrist” seem like an addled view of Schiff. As much as I may wish it weren’t true, Lee’s congressional district, largely made up of leftwing Berkeley and Oakland, aren’t representative of all the people of our state - not even Boonville, or barely blue Mendocino County. US Senator’s need to represent ALL of California. And political reportage needs to have a larger, less biased perspective.
DRUG PRICE SHOWDOWN TIME FOR CHAIRMAN BERNIE SANDERS
by Ralph Nader
It is showdown time. Senator Bernie Sanders, new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee versus Big Pharma.
The self-described “democratic socialist” from a safe seat in Vermont has long been a Big Pharma nemesis. He has issued detailed critiques of what others have called a “Pay or Die” industry coddled by Congress that provides huge tax credits, free government-developed medicines, and free, with few exceptions, unbridled power to charge what their monopoly markets can’t bear.
Americans are charged the highest drug prices in the world. U.S. drug companies feed off taxpayer subsidies yet are under no reasonable price controls even for those new drugs they get free from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Senator Sanders has taken busloads of Vermonters to Canada to buy the same medicines sold in the U.S. at much cheaper prices just over the Canadian border. During his presidential campaigns, he assailed high drug prices and supported single-payer or full Medicare-for-All. The latter, he has told the pro-single-payer group, Physicians for a National Health Program, is off the table. Astonishingly, he is not going to push it. That leaves the drug companies on which to focus his power.
Big Pharma is ready for Bernie’s thunderous denunciations. As witnesses, Pharma executives play humble rope-a-dope and exude courtesy. Their 500 full-time lobbyists outnumber the members of the Senate, and Big Pharma’s backup brigades of corporate lawyers, propagandists and local chambers of commerce add to the power imbalance. They’ve survived Congressional table-thumping for decades by both Democrats and Republicans, knowing that it is largely all theatre.
The three drug companies – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – that control the price of insulin, have withstood verbal blast after verbal blast by candidates campaigning for public office. They’re still jacking up their price, 1,100% since the 1990s, even though it’s the same product and is sold in other wealthy countries for a fraction of what Big Pharma bills Americans in the U.S. Still, uninsured or underinsured people who need insulin have to pay, but are so hard-pressed they often ration their supply of this essential drug. Up to 1 in 4 people with Type 1 diabetes ration insulin. There are fatal consequences to such rationing.
The bosses of these three companies – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – are not ready to budge.
Nor are other giant drug companies ready to disturb their subsidized and anticompetitive business model. This model includes finding tricky ways to continually extend their monopoly patent period, taking control of the comparable generics, spending more on advertising and marketing than on research and development for which they get a generous tax credit from Uncle Sam, taking good care of key physicians who tout their products and gaming the insurance industry that in theory should be resisting gouging payouts for drugs.
The Inflation Reduction Act partially addresses drug pricing but is so full of loopholes and delays that it cannot be relied on to curb Big Pharma abuses.
Big Pharma is insatiably avaricious. They obstruct incoming free trade of lower-priced drugs while they outsource the production of key medicines to countries like China and India where drug manufacturing plants are poorly monitored by the understaffed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Big Pharma has maneuvered Congress into having a large portion of the FDA’s meager budget come from the drug companies with the invisible strings attached. Imagine paying the police who are supposed to be holding you to the law.
There is more. With some Democratic House members joining the Republican legislators in 2003, a bill was passed expanding Medicare’s drug benefits and prohibiting Medicare from negotiating volume discounts with the drug companies. This has cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. Thank you, Republican Party – the constant avatar of corporate greed and leaving our country defenseless. For example, no antibiotics are now produced in the U.S. Many come from China. The GOP exhibits both a disregard for national security peril and a lack of patriotism, while it takes campaign cash from the drug goliaths.
The latest outrage comes from a report by the Wall Street Journal that Pfizer and Moderna intend to quadruple the price of their Covid vaccine, once their government purchasing contracts run out, to a range of $110-130 a shot. Bear in mind, both companies have made enormous profits from a government-guaranteed market of tens of billions of dollars. But readers may ask: “Won’t the higher price lead to fewer people being able to afford the vaccines, especially those not covered by insurance?” Correct. Big Pharma doesn’t care.
Moderna is a creature of the government’s National Institutes of Health research and development for the mRNA type Covid-19 vaccine. NIH scientists were in the lead, in collaborating with the scientists at this formerly tiny Boston-based company. The result turned Moderna into a multibillion-dollar firm. One would think being bred to commercial success by the taxpayers would result in some restraint. Not so.
Lives lost, injuries and diseases are at stake. For decades Big Pharma has refined its gigantic profits into an invulnerable racket that is impervious to media exposes, occasional prosecutions and fines, political campaign denunciations and keeping promises of patient relief.
Here is a solution. Since the NIH R&D programs have developed many drugs to the clinical trial level, let NIH proceed to manufacture these drugs in the good old USA and market them through government health programs.
There is a precedent from the Pentagon during the Vietnam War when the second leading cause of hospitalization for U.S. soldiers there was malaria. The drug companies were not willing to invest in developing anti-malarial medicines (not enough profit). The Pentagon set up its own “drug firm” inside Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital (now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). For a tiny fraction of what the drug companies would have charged the government, MDs and PhDs produced three new anti-malarial medicines, plus other medicines, which were positively reported in peer-reviewed medical journals.
So, let’s go, Bernie Sanders. This is “democratic socialism” fostering domestic and national security replacing unpatriotic, greedy “corporate socialism” that abandons the U.S. to communist China, leaving behind the federal safety regulatory watchdogs.
Let’s see how Bernie Sanders can use his staff and public hearings to jolt the Big Pharma toadies in Congress with the rumble from the people who are in dire straits. Senator Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and other compatriots can barnstorm the country and energize super majorities of both liberal and conservative Americans to back their cause since they all bleed the same color.
Otherwise, it’s just going to be the same old song – “There goes Bernie again – baying at the moon.”
VIDEO GAMES are more important than hip hop. There’s no doubt about it. The violence and nihilism that everyone thinks is in hip hop is pumped up about eighteen times in video games.
That’s really what’s driving young male culture, that’s really the new rock and roll. The funny thing about this debate is so many hip hop critics are fixated on rap and not talking enough about video games, which aren’t a racially determinant form.
Obviously those Grand Theft Auto guys were very canny because they tied in to Scarface, they tied in to hip hop. I mean, Def Jam has a line of video games. Hip hop became subsumed into the games.
But the games are different — they’re not folk statements. Hip hop was a folk music up until the late eighties, I mean it was music made by people for people. Even Run-DMC, you know, three million records was big for rap but it wasn’t big on an international level at the time. There were little labels pushing it. In the nineties bigger companies started getting in there and it began to change. I would say Interscope and what they did with Snoop, Tupac and Dr. Dre, really took it to a new level. With video games the relationship to the culture is different, they’re much more like movies. They’re a really interesting hybrid. The Grand Theft Auto dudes were all about figuring out how to tap into urban culture.
Video games, like movies, take in so many disciplines. At the same time, it’s not a folk expression, at least the way I understand it, of an individual. They inherently have to be more calculated about the way they’re constructed.
— Nelson George
BIDEN WIELDING DNC TO GUARD AGAINST PROGRESSIVE CHALLENGE
by Norman Solomon
When the Democratic National Committee convenes its winter meeting on Thursday in Philadelphia, a key agenda item will be rubber-stamping Joe Biden’s manipulation of next year’s presidential primaries. There’ll be speeches galore, including one by Biden as a prelude to his expected announcement that he’ll seek a second term. The gathering will exude confidence, at least in public. But if Biden were truly confident that Democratic voters want him to be the 2024 nominee, he wouldn’t have intervened in the DNC’s scheduling of early primaries.
New polling underscores why Biden is so eager to bump New Hampshire from the first-in-the-nation spot that it has held for more than 100 years. In the state, “two-thirds of likely Democratic primary voters don’t want President Joe Biden to seek re-election,” the UNH Survey Center found. “Biden is statistically tied with several 2020 rivals, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, all of whom are more personally popular than Biden among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire.”
Dismal as Biden’s showing was in the new poll, it was a step up from his actual vote total in New Hampshire’s 2020 primary, when he came in fifth with 8 percent of the vote. No wonder Biden doesn’t want the state to go first and potentially set primary dominoes falling against him.
Keen to reduce the chances of a major primary challenge next year, Biden sent a letter to the DNC in early December insisting on a new schedule — demoting New Hampshire to a second spot, alongside Nevada, while giving the leadoff slot to South Carolina. Democratic Party energy and funds will be squandered in that deep-red state, which is about as likely to give its electoral votes to the 2024 Democratic ticket as Ron DeSantis is likely to donate the money in his campaign coffers to the Movement for Black Lives.
But South Carolina, the state with the lowest rate of unionization in the country, offers the singular virtue of having rescued Biden’s presidential hopes with its 2020 primary. As the Associated Press explained last week, Biden is “seeking to reward South Carolina, where nearly 27 percent of the population is Black, after a decisive win there revived his 2020 presidential campaign following losses it suffered in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.”
The president’s rationalization for putting South Carolina first is diversity. Yet the neighboring purple state of Georgia, which has an activist Democratic base, is more racially diverse — and it’s a crucial swing state, where the party’s general-election prospects would benefit from being the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Biden’s intervention has created a long-term political mess for Democrats in New Hampshire, where he’s now less popular than ever due to undermining the state’s first-primary status. Even New Hampshire’s normally compliant Democratic senators and representatives in Congress have been denouncing the move. Biden’s maneuver has boosted the chances that the Democratic ticket will lose the state’s four electoral votes this time around.
But Biden having his way with the Democratic National Committee is a slam dunk because he supplies the ball, hires the referees, owns the nets and controls the concession stands. While cowed DNC members dribble at his behest, substantial concerns will echo outside the range of officials’ whistles.
As a Don’t Run Joe full-page ad in The Hill newspaper pointed out last week (full disclosure: I helped write it), “There are ample indications that having Joe Biden at the top of ballots across the country in autumn 2024 would bring enormous political vulnerabilities for the ticket and for down-ballot races.”
But so far, like the Democrats in Congress, members of the DNC have indicated much more concern about avoiding the ire of the Biden White House than avoiding the probable grim outcome of a Biden ’24 campaign. By the time the DNC adjourns on Saturday, news reports will be filled with on-the-record statements from members lauding Biden’s leadership with next year’s elections on the horizon. Conformity prevails.
But warning signs are profuse. Among the latest are results of a YouGov poll released days ago: “Just 34 percent of Americans describe Biden as honest and trustworthy — a new low for his presidency. That’s an 8-point drop from when this question was last asked in December 2022, prior to the public revelation that classified documents had been found in Biden’s possession.”
This is the electoral horse that Democrats are supposed to be riding into battle against the extremist Republican Party next year. The national Democratic Party is locked into operating at the whim of a president now believed to be “honest and trustworthy” by only one-third of U.S. adults.
How all this will play out at the DNC meeting is hardly a mystery. Yet many members surely know that Biden is likely to be a weak candidate if he goes ahead with proclaimed plans to run for re-election. The hope is that the GOP will defeat itself as an extremist party in disarray. But it would be irresponsible to gamble on such a scenario by rolling dice loaded with Biden.
(Norman Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org.)
I RECEIVED A REPORT by telegraph direct from Ekaterinburg that the regional Soviet has executed Nicholas Romanov, former Tsar, his wife, his son, his four daughters. I gave no orders for this act, having left discretion on the matter, depending on circumstances, to our people on the spot. Nevertheless, I approve without reservation. I would have done the same without hesitation.
I have always had a reluctant admiration for Nechaev, a revolutionist much slandered and scorned by milksop revolutionaries. People forget that Sergei Genadievich had a unique imaginative talent, an ability to invent special techniques of conspiratorial work everywhere, even from a solitary confinement dungeon. Above all, he developed the power to give his thoughts such startling formulations that they remain forever imprinted on your memory.
Instantly there comes back to me the words of one of his catechisms. Replying to the question — in 1870, the year of my birth — “Which members of the reigning house must be destroyed?” he gave the brisk answer, “The whole Great Responsory.” This formulation was so simple and clear it could be understood by everyone living in Russia at the time. Then the vast majority of the people, in one way or another, for one reason or another, attended the Orthodox Church. And so everyone knew the Great Responsory which listed all those members of the Tsar’s family, to the furthest degree, whom we were commanded to love, admire, obey and give thanks to God for. The most unsophisticated reader then, asking himself which of them on the great day of liberation should be destroyed, would see the obvious, inevitable answer at a glance: “Why, the entire house of the Romanovs.” They were the ones who chose to write themselves onto our list. It was an instruction simple to the point of genius.
I would not have complained if the telegram from Ekaterinburg had included the whole Great Responsory. I am only sorry that our summary revolutionary justice was obliged to fall on Nicholas Romanov’s physician, cook, chambermaid and waiter. Possibly they could have been retrained and educated to serve the people in some less revolting fashion.
— Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien
THE ABRAMS FIASCO
I was very happy that President Joe Biden finally agreed to send some M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine. In that way Germany will soon send some of its Leopard 2 tanks, which are badly needed. I was saddened to note, however, that the initial reason for not sending M1 Abrams tanks was that they were not reliable, required maintenance vehicles to be nearby and were so complicated to operate that extensive training would be required for them to be of any use whatsoever.
Way to go, U.S. Army.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What I’ve noticed over the years is the great decline in health and vigor. My parents’ generation, who lived through the Depression and WWII could do the same kind of work that Mexicans do today. Houses were built with hand tools, and basements and foundations were dug with a shovel. Many of the people who provided California’s California’s agricultural labor were regular old white people–generally Okies. Among the Boomer generation, the high school boys were still bucking hay during the summer.
I don’t think many people in our younger generations could do that stuff. I think the main reason is the degradation of our diet. It’s well documented that modern vegetables have about half the nutritional value that they had in the 1950s. Modern short-stem wheat has a much higher glycemic index than the old tall-stemmed wheat. Modern wheat has a higher glycemic index than sugar. Meat and dairy products are likewise nutritionally degraded, because the stuff the animals eat is grown on the same depleted soils, and cattle are fattened on corn, which is very bad for them.
Something I’ve noticed over the past ten years or so is that many prepared foods that used to be reasonably tasty are now inedible. I used to get Campbell’s chicken noodle soup when I (or someone else) was sick. It was pretty good. The last time I bought it, about ten years ago, it was so bad I threw it out.
It also appears that the manufacturers have eliminated tomatoes from canned past products, like spaghetti and ravioli–another purchase I made when I was sick and didn’t feel like cooking.
A couple of years ago, I bought whole chickens at Walmart to make chicken broth from scratch. The broth tasted like water. So I now buy chickens from the health food stores. While I don’t recall that canned chicken broth was ever very good, I stopped buying it years ago, because it tasted like canned water.
There are quite a number of other issues, such a GMOs and hormones, and the use of highly processed seed oils. But I think diet is the main thing that’s wrong with people these days.
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO PROCESSED FOOD?
If you answer yes to at least two of the symptoms below, you could be addicted to highly processed foods, which are any foods that have been altered in some way during preparation.
I have such strong urges to eat certain foods that I can't think of anything else at least once a week.
I have tried and failed to cut down on or stop eating certain foods two to three times in a week.
My tolerance to food has increased so I do not feel as satisfied as I used to
I spend too much time obtaining and consuming junk food
I have given up time spent on recreational and occupational activities
I overeat to the point that I cause emotional problems at least once a week
I have an inability to fulfill obligations at least once a month
I eat even when there is an increased risk of physical harm such as while driving at least once a month
I often feel tired or sluggish as a result of my overeating
I ate to the point where I felt physically ill at least once a week
I deal with withdrawal in response to abstinence or decreased use of ultraprocessed foods, such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability
My eating behavior causes me a lot of distress two to three times a week
I have significant problems at least twice a week in my life because of my eating such as problems with my daily routine, work, school, family, or health.
STATE LAWMAKERS WANT INVESTIGATION, HEARINGS Into ‘Wild West’ Of California Cannabis And Farm Work
by Paige St. John & Adam Elmahrek
California lawmakers are calling for a sweeping investigation into corruption in the state’s cannabis industry, legislative hearings on the exploitation of farmworkers and new laws to thwart labor trafficking in response to revelations of rampant abuses and worker deaths in a multibillion-dollar market that has become increasingly unmanageable.
The proposals follow a series of Los Angeles Times investigations last year showing that California’s 2016 legalization of recreational cannabis spurred political corruption, explosive growth in illegal cultivation and widespread exploitation of workers. The Times found that wage theft was rampant and that many workers were subjected to squalid, sometimes lethal conditions.
A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Industrial Relations told The Times last week that the agency is examining the deaths of 32 cannabis farmworkers — never reported to work safety regulators — uncovered by the newspaper.
“We should be a little bit ashamed that we’ve allowed this helter-skelter approach to commercializing and legalizing the cannabis industry,” said Sen. Dave Cortese, a San Jose Democrat who leads the Senate Labor Committee. Cortese called California’s cannabis market the “Wild, Wild West.”
Cortese and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, said they are discussing an agenda for legislative hearings this spring on the plight of workers on all types of California farms. But they said the abuse and exploitation chronicled in The Times’ investigation, “Legal Weed, Broken Promises,” highlights the hazards for those who labor in cannabis fields.
Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, said she intends to resurrect legislation to fight labor trafficking that was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and to include a mechanism to ensure that the state Department of Cannabis Control acts on evidence of such crimes. The Times found that the agency failed to respond to worker complaints and even to abuses uncovered by its own staff.
Assembly Labor Committee Chair Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, told The Times it is important to act now, before labor abuses become standard practice in the emergent legal cannabis industry.
The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee chairman, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, has declared himself the state’s “cannabis cop.” He has vowed to tackle failures highlighted by the newspaper’s reporting, including farmworker fatalities and exploitation and the corruption that plagues cannabis business licensing at the city and county levels.
“People dying from harvesting or processing cannabis — it’s just outrageous,” Jones-Sawyer said.
He said he would seek a state investigation into licensing corruption, particularly in areas highlighted by The Times.
“It’s very important to me that we finally get a grip on this and start to crack down,” he said.
None of the inquiries are guaranteed to happen. A corruption investigation would need approval from the Legislature’s audit committee, which next meets in March. Likewise, legislative hearings on farmworker conditions have yet to be presented to Senate leadership for discussion.
A spokeswoman for California’s central Labor & Workforce Development Agency said its labor safety branch was “assessing” cannabis worker deaths reported by The Times “to determine whether they have jurisdiction in each of the incidents reported.”
The newspaper found that California’s dual state and local cannabis licensing system created fertile ground for corruption by giving thousands of often part-time, low-paid municipal officials the power to choose winners and losers in the multimillion-dollar deals.
Local politicians held hidden financial ties to cannabis businesses even as they regulated the industry. Consultants and elected officials told of backroom lobbying and solicitations for cash — while criminal investigations were isolated and scrutiny was sporadic.
Then-state Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, in October called for state Attorney General Rob Bonta to form a task force that would target corruption in cannabis licensing but received no reply. Bonta’s office told The Times such action would be the responsibility of the state cannabis department.
Lawmakers taking up these measures said they are particularly sensitized to the treatment of farmworkers. Hurtado is the daughter of immigrant agricultural workers. Rubio’s parents first came to California as part of a federal migrant worker program, then returned without documentation because, as she said, “we still had to eat.”
Some lawmakers, including Hurtado and Rubio, said the state set up its cannabis market without addressing the labor-intensive crop’s reliance on easily exploited immigrant workers. For some industries — garment factories and car washes, for example — the state set up special enforcement programs and created funds to compensate exploited workers, but this has not been done for cannabis or agriculture in general.
“It’s the Wild, Wild West in terms of the lack of any uniform scheme (on) how we deal with this industry,” Cortese said.
Lawmakers and labor advocates said farmworkers were given little thought during behind-the-scenes negotiations for legalization. In a deal cut with labor unions, the law contained just two provisions that in reality have offered little protection: requiring large farms to give union access to workers and requiring all license holders with two or more employees to have at least two people receive generic workplace safety training.
Labor advocates told The Times they tried to warn the state about the potential for worker exploitation as the commercial cannabis market was being structured.
Because cannabis remains illegal under federal law, labor advocates in 2017 sent letters to those crafting regulation noting that workers would be unlikely to benefit from federal labor protections, putting the onus for their safety on the state.
“Lawmakers aren’t really aware of the problem. It’s shameful that they’re not,” said Christopher Sanchez, policy advocate for the Western Center on Law & Poverty. He said The Times’ reporting “just highlights a lot of the fears that a lot of us had.”
UCLA labor researcher Robert Chlala said legalization attracted investors who borrowed business models from the agricultural industry — a sector notorious for wage theft and abuse.
“We are just transferring what we haven’t fixed yet in our agricultural system” to cannabis, he said. “What we haven’t done yet to protect the people who make the food for this country.”
The Times investigation documented accusations of exploitation against more than 200 cannabis operations — more than half of those licensed by the state.
Workers told reporters of bosses who threatened them with guns or physical violence, of living on remote work sites without housing or sanitary facilities or access to food, and of fraudulent promises of pay. In some cases, they said, bosses threatened to report them to immigration authorities or withhold their wages if they tried to leave.
Fraud and coercion are elements of labor trafficking, a felony offense in California. A series of 2020 reports by California’s independent government watch group, the Little Hoover Commission, faulted the state for failing to have clear labor trafficking laws and for lacking a single agency responsible for prosecution.
Newsom has rejected the Legislature’s keystone bills to curtail the crime.
In 2019, he vetoed a bill to gather data on labor trafficking because it wasn’t introduced as part of the budget. In September 2022, he vetoed a bill to police foreign labor recruiters, echoing the same objections raised by the Chamber of Commerce and agriculture industry lobbyists.
Last fall, he rejected a unanimously passed, unopposed bill to create a labor trafficking crime unit within the state’s labor department, saying he would prefer to see trafficking complaints heard by the California Civil Rights Department, which seeks civil remedies, so that victims “are not further victimized by the prosecutorial process.”
Newsom’s press office did not respond directly to a request for comment on The Times’ findings of cannabis labor exploitation and deaths but released a statement criticizing federal immigration policy.
“Strengthening our efforts to enforce workplace standards will continue to be a priority, but it is not sufficient, especially for this vulnerable population,” the statement said. “Congress needs to get up the courage to bring our country’s immigration — and cannabis — policies into the 21st century.”
Newsom’s office issued much the same statement a day later in response to the killings of seven people Jan. 23 on produce farms in Half Moon Bay.
Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, a Fresno Democrat who sponsored the ill-fated legislation to create a labor trafficking unit, told The Times he intends to push again this year for a criminal investigation unit within the labor department. “I believe we need a single entity that can help us to prosecute and then prevent labor trafficking in the future,” Arambula said.
Sheriffs confronted with cannabis workers living in squalor, without food, pay or the ability to leave, said they lack local resources to address the problem. They said the number of workers at risk is huge: The state has tens of thousands of illegal cannabis farms spread across vast remote regions, and even licensed farms are not closely watched.
“There used to be some state support,” Trinity County Sheriff Tim Saxon said, adding that the support focused on ripping out illegally grown plants, not on addressing exploitation of cannabis workers.
Saxon said he is reliant on private outside funding to investigate cases of human trafficking.
The Times investigation found little outreach to apprise cannabis workers of their rights. Those workers who knew to complain of wage theft to the California labor agency waited as long as two years for a decision, even after telling the state that their lives had been threatened. Lawmakers told The Times the labor department suffers from chronic staffing shortages, failing to fill already funded positions.
The Times investigation also found that some workers sought the help of the Department of Cannabis Control, unaware that the agency, despite having sworn law enforcement officers, had no process for handling labor abuses discovered by staff. The department did not respond to Times questions over the course of three weeks on its policies for handling allegations of labor trafficking.
Rubio said she is negotiating with Newsom’s administration and Bonta’s office to create a state government position for the express purpose of ensuring that cannabis labor complaints get forwarded to the right agency. She also is considering taking up the labor trafficking bills that were vetoed by Newsom.
She said it is “stunning” that lawmakers have paid so little heed to the impact of cannabis legalization on farmworkers, a group she and others said lacks strong political representation, despite California’s legacy as the birthplace of the farmworkers’ rights movement half a century ago.
“For my colleagues not to even be looking at it is … shocking to me,” Rubio said. “So instead of pointing fingers, my commitment is to work with the governor’s office and work with the departments to make something that is doable.”