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SHOWERS and a few thunderstorms will spread east across the region this morning and afternoon. Dry weather will then develop tonight, and Monday morning temperatures will become cold across many interior valleys. Mainly dry weather is then forecast to persist through much of next week. (NWS)
NAVARRO RIVER NOTES [MCN-Announce]
There is zero chance of any flooding or closure of Hwy. 128 in the near future.
The Navarro River has cut a new channel directly across the sandbar at the mouth, and the estuary level is rising and falling with the tide.
When I took a look Friday afternoon at low tide (-0.17 ft.) the long indirect drainage channel running south along the beach had completely closed in and there was a new direct channel centered on Pinnacle Rock and flowing strongly on both sides of the rock. There will be another minus tide (-0.17) today, Saturday, at 4:55 PM. Sunset is at 5:38 PM.
The Navarro Beach access road was still closed to vehicles and the beach parking area still has not been cleared of driftwood logs and other debris left by the big storms at the start of the year. The beach can be reached on foot or bicycle after leaving your vehicle at the parking area at the intersection of Hwy. 1. Also by boat if you like.
Weather forecast calls for rain and wind this evening and overnight, with predicted rainfall total of .79 from now through 2 PM Sunday. Wind will be strong and gusty when a front passes tonight around 6 or 7 PM. https://www.wunderground.com/forecast/us/ca/little-river/KCALITTL10
ELIZABETH JENSEN: Any local climbers interested in helping to bring climbing boulders to our local park? Any local geology enthusiasts familiar with what local rocks are great for climbing?
SHERIFF KENDALL must be antipating some major break-ins.
Item 3v on next Tuesday’s consent agenda is: “Authorization to Purchase Military Equipment that Includes Two Kinetic Breaching Tools, One Electric Hydraulic Breaching Tool and One Drone Kit for the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in the Total Amount of $59,064.88; and Addition of the Items to the County’s List of Fixed Assets.”
We understand the military drone kit because it probably improves the patrol division’s surveillance capabilities, especially in remote areas. But we’d like to hear the rationale for ordering three new military style breaching tools.
Have they been unable to break down doors with existing tools and methods? Do outback meth labs have reinforced doors? What happened (or didn’t happen) lately to make military breaching tools a necessity? (The items are on the Board’s agenda because of a County policy that requires board approval for procurement of any military style equipment. But as far as we know, Boards of Supervisors have never turned down a local law enforcement military equipment request.)
FORT BRAGG SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Donald is an adorable, happy, playful little pup, guaranteed to bring you oodles and oodles of wonderful puppy-filled hours. We always remind folks to make sure they have lots of time, energy and TLC to devote to the new canine member of their family, to ensure their puppy matures into a well behaved and happily adjusted adult dog. Donald is a mixed breed male, 8 months old, and 46 pounds. For more about Donald, head to https://www.mendoanimalshelter.com.
The Shelters are packed with dogs, so if you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Our website has information about our Foster Program, on-going Dog And Cat Adoption Events, and other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453 in Ukiah, and 707-467-6453 in Fort Bragg.
HAIKU POEM (penned during the Ukiah, CA haiku poetry walk, Grace Hudson Museum gardens)
Spikey and low
— Craig Louis Stehr
MENDOCINO COUNTY’S POLICE MISCONDUCT CONTROVERSIES MIRROR STATE AND FEDERAL CASES
by Mike Geniella
An emerging pattern of police misconduct involving alleged sexual assaults is dogging Mendocino County prosecutors who remain stubbornly silent in the face of growing public scrutiny.
No doubt a string of local police misconduct cases involving beatings and alleged sexual assault is overshadowed by yet another national example of the deadly use of excessive police force. The brutal police beating death of Tyrie Nichols in Memphis has plunged public confidence in law enforcement to a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
While rural Mendocino County is far removed from the national spotlight, it too has experienced excessive use of police force up close. Two known cases have cost the city of Ukiah taxpayers $1.3 million to settle with the victims.
Less than a year ago the city paid $211,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that alleged a naked, mentally ill man was knocked to the ground in 2020 and beaten by a squad of Ukiah officers.
In the highest profile case regarding the use of excessive force locally, Ukiah paid $1.1 million to settle another federal lawsuit filed by a disabled Navy veteran severely beaten by a disgraced police sergeant.
In that case Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster’s office originally charged victim Christopher Rasku with resisting arrest after his violent encounter in 2018 with former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin Murray. It was later learned that Murray appeared to perjure himself during a preliminary court hearing.
The $1.1 million settlement on behalf of Rasku was won by Sonoma County attorney Izaak Schwaiger who filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against Murray and the Ukiah police department.
Schwaiger in 2020 also won a nearly $1.5 million settlement to settle civil rights lawsuits lodged by eight drivers who claimed rogue Rohnert Park police officers robbed them of money and marijuana during roadside stops along Highway 101 near the Sonoma County line with Mendocino County. In December, a federal grand jury indicted Joseph Huffaker, a 7-year veteran of the Rohnert Park police department, on new charges of impersonating a federal officer, falsifying records, and aiding and abetting, according to a superseding indictment filed Dec. 13 in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California.
Mendocino County authorities have denied any knowledge of the actions of the Rohnert Park cops.
Lawyer Schwaiger, a Marine Corps veteran and a former Sonoma County prosecutor, is unsparing, however, in his criticism of policing in Mendocino County, and the role DA Eyster plays in it.
“Nowhere is there any less accountability than in Mendocino County,” he said.
Schwaiger said during Eyster’s decade-long tenure as the county’s chief law enforcement officer the notion of prosecutors following the law and seeking justice has given way to an “us vs them” attitude.
Eyster as an elected District Attorney enjoys wide legal discretion and is in reality subject to little judicial oversight. In turn that gives him major influence on oversight of local police.
Nationwide the second ranking crime problem behind the excessive use of force involving police is alleged sexual assaults by police, and in that too Mendocino County ranks high.
Five women have now alleged in criminal cases and pending civil lawsuits that they were sexually assaulted by three local officers, including Ukiah’s former police chief.
Besides fired Chief Noble Waidelich, the other two accused men are former Sgt. Murray, and Derek Hendry, a lieutenant with the Willits Police Department. Before that Hendry was an eight-year veteran of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department.
DA Eyster refuses to publicly comment on the emergence of the local police misconduct pattern or why he supported a controversial plea deal last summer that allowed three serious sex charges to be dropped in a criminal case against Murray.
Eyster also will not publicly address the status of months-old investigations into the allegations of sexual misconduct against the other two cops, and why the cases languish unresolved with no public explanation.
While Eyster boasts that he in fact is the county’s “chief law enforcement officer,” he will not publicly discuss prosecution policies as they relate to the growing number of assault allegations against local cops.
Also under question is the District Attorney’s apparent selective use of legal disclosure requirements surrounding suspected police misconduct.
Decades ago, the US Supreme Court held that a prosecutor has a legal duty to turn over to the defense any evidence that might impeach a material prosecution witness. The result is a so-called “Brady List” that is entirely up to the discretion of District Attorneys.
In one high profile local case, Eyster used the Brady obligation to suppress a female deputy probation officer who filed domestic violence and economic abuse allegations against her live in partner — a then-Ukiah police officer named Noble Waidelich. He rose through the ranks and was eventually promoted to Police Chief in November 2021.
Within a year, however, Waidelich was fired by city officials after he became entangled in a still pending sexual assault claim from another Ukiah woman. He was accused of being in his police chief uniform at the time he went to the woman’s home and demanded oral sex.
Eyster used the Brady provision to label Waidelich’s former live in partner Amanda Carley untruthful as the result of a Sheriff’s department investigation into her 2017 domestic violence and economic abuse complaints. Waidelich, a local cop who ranked high in local law enforcement circles, was not prosecuted.
Eyster’s labeling of Carley led to her being stripped of her abilities to be a peace officer and carry a gun while taking errant parolees into custody or protect herself, if necessary, while on duty dealing with convicts on probation. Eventually Carley left Mendocino County after securing a state investigator’s job in Southern California. She recently settled civil litigation against the county of Mendocino and Waidelich.
Eyster also used the Brady label to go after a newly hired Willits cop in 2019 when the DA was engaged in a feud with the then acting Police Chief Scott Warnock. Officer Jacob Jones, who had left the Eureka Police Department under a police misconduct cloud, was branded with the Brady label by Eyster, blocking local prosecutors from using him as a witness in local criminal court proceedings.
Eyster publicly ripped Warnock, widely distributing a letter to North Coast media castigating the then-Willits police chief for withholding background information on the former Eureka officer.
But the DA’s stance on police misconduct disclosure apparently is selective.
When former Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Hendry was fired for dishonesty involving pay and reimbursement claims, Eyster did not impose a Brady listing on him. The dismissed sheriff’s deputy was subsequently hired by the same Willits police force that Eyster had earlier publicly reprimanded.
Now Hendry, promoted over time to become a lieutenant with Willits police, is the latest local law enforcement officer to be accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty and in uniform.
Hendry was fired from the Willits department last June and is the focus of the second outside probe into local sexual assault claims against Mendocino County law enforcement officers in the past year.
Hendry also figured prominently in a civil lawsuit filed by former Willits Police Chief Alexis Blaylock who quit in 2020 just a month after taking the helm because she reportedly faced a hostile work environment, harassment, sexism, and racism. In late 2022, the city of Willits agreed to pay Blaylock $250,000 to settle her lawsuit.
With those and other cases looming in the background, DA Eyster’s silence on the three sexual assault allegations is deafening to alleged victims, their attorneys, and the public at large.
Attorney Jessyca Hoagland, a former Mendocino County Public Defender, is now with a Santa Rosa law firm that recently filed a new civil lawsuit on behalf of a woman who originally agreed to testify in the criminal sexual assault case against Murray. The woman, a friend of a former fiancée of Murray’s, claims he twice sexually assaulted her and she was aghast to learn last summer that the DA dropped all felony sex charges against the cop as part of a plea bargain.
Hoagland said, “At the very least in order to maintain transparency with an already skeptical and concerned public, Eyster should make a public statement.”
It could be even as simple, said Hoagland, as updating the public “that the investigations have been concluded, and that a determination was made that prosecution is forthcoming, or in the alternative that there is not enough evidence to warrant prosecution.”
So far there is no indication that DA Eyster intends to update the public about any of the local police misconduct cases.
Eyster broke established office policy last summer by not issuing any post-sentencing statement about the conclusion of Murray’s criminal case. He continues, however, to write his own press releases about the outcomes of other Mendocino County trials including misdemeanor DUI cases.
While Eyster refuses to discuss any of the police misconduct cases publicly, behind the scenes he blames local judges for trial delays, witnesses who are either uncooperative or lack credibility, and “mischaracterizations” of the cases in local news coverage.
Experienced law enforcement leaders are concerned about the rising level of police misconduct cases here, and across the state and nation.
They believe there is little doubt that the “bad apples” among the hundreds of competent, hard-working law enforcement officers in the county are few, but the damage they do to public perception of law enforcement is immense.
“Even a small number of police misconduct cases tarnish the badge so many of us have worked hard to achieve,” said new Fort Bragg Police Chief Neil Cervenka.
Cervenka last week joined his Sonoma County counterparts in immediately publicly condemning the brutal beating and killing of Tyrie Nichols in Memphis. He was the only Mendocino County law enforcement official to do so.
“The officers involved brought shame upon their badges and the law enforcement profession as a whole. They betrayed their oaths, their department, their community, and their country,” said Cervenka.
Cervenka is a newcomer to Mendocino County law circles, but he brings with him 22 years of law enforcement experience in the Central Valley. He is a second vice president of the 27,000 member California Peace Officers Association.
Cervenka said police body cameras can readily identify perpetrators of violent assaults, but they do not typically document sexual assault cases, the allegations against officers that tend to be most difficult to prove in a courtroom.
Medical exams are helpful but they only document physical injuries suffered during rapes. More often it is the victim’s words, and background, that goes up against the status of the accused officer.
“They are difficult cases, and sometimes there is just no evidence to support the allegations,” said Cervenka.
Santa Rosa attorney Hoagland and others agree sexual assault cases are difficult to prove in court, especially those involving police. If investigations drag on, or prosecutors decide to let a case “grow a beard” in hopes it will go away, potential witnesses often fold.
Philip Stinson is a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who is a national expert on police crimes and misconduct.
Stinson was quoted in a recent NPR Network/KQED report that policing today “is a closed-door society, it’s an us-vs-them mentality.”
“There’s a blue wall of silence in many places,” said Stinson. “Sexual misconduct is such a normalized part of the police subculture in many places across the country. It’s just business as usual.”
Sonoma County lawyer Isaak Schwaiger agrees.
“Police violence is less about race than the popular narrative tells us. It is about the psychology of power and the us-versus-them mentality that permeates modern policing.”
Hoagland’s co- attorney Richard Sax said Murray’s alleged rape victim is determined to find justice through her newly filed civil litigation targeting the disgraced Sgt. Murray.
“We won’t let him (Murray) off the hook like the DA did,” vowed Sax.
MIKE GENIELLA lays out the widespread puzzlement over DA Eyster's mystifying inertia with police misconduct cases. With the connivance of Judge Moorman, the DA lets Ukiah rogue cop Murray slide on charges that would normally warrant state prison time. Following that rancid bit of legal chicanery, Eyster is now sitting on two more cop misconduct charges, both of them he said, she said matters which, even given his apparent love for badged bad boys, the DA could simply and plausibly dismiss because both lack evidence.
IT WOULD TAKE the bravest Mendocino County Grand Jury ever, to haul the DA in for a candid WTF? session, so that's not going to happen. The two women vics (alleged) will probably wind up suing Willits and Ukiah, which could probably get them each a quick half-mil or so if they went with outside lawyers. Both towns would probably settle rather than slug it out in court, which they've always done previously.
THIS IS WHERE we miss the Santa Rosa Press Democrat of yesteryear, circa 1990, well before telephones ate the international brain. The old PD could not be ignored by Mendo's authorities, who lived in fear of it and, for that matter, the rest of the outside media. The PD enjoyed total market penetration in Mendocino County, and local authorities tremble at being caught out by it. Today, you have, ahem, the Boonville weekly with fer shure wide circulation in the county, and you have Mendofever, Redheaded Blackbelt, both websites, and sometimes Sarah Reith of KZYX and Justine Fredrickson of the Ukiah Daily Journal, and all the time Jim Shields of the Mendo Observer, a diffuse media without the concentrated punching power of the old PD. Eyster, probably in his final term as DA before he shuffles off to a lush retirement guarding his lawn against dandelions, can simply blow off the gross injustices he's sponsoring, but if he continues to allow irresolution of serious allegations, it's certainly going to be an inglorious exit for the county's top lawman.
POLICE MISCONDUCT can't be tolerated. It's a tiresome cliche at this point in police misconduct sagas seemingly everywhere in the country, especially in the cities and 'burbs, that tolerating it libels cops everywhere, most of whom go about their work honorably.
THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE has been pretty good lately. For years, it's been maybe one in three editions that has some really, really good reporting, or readable fiction but in between we get didactic stuff that begins with versions of, “Zainab's friends always told her that her curry was too heavily spiced…” and the poetry is so bad that the mag makes a big deal out of appearances by that old fraud, John Ashbery. But the last couple of issues have run fascinating stories on Lula's inspirational comeback in Brazil; Murder and corruption in the infamous Murdaugh family of South Carolina; an interesting lit-crit piece on Norman Mailer (the mag's always good on book reviews and literary essays); a story on civilian efforts to cut back on urban violence; and a compelling account from the Ukraine tragedy called, ‘The Collaborators’ on how Ukranians deal with their neighbors who have cooperated with the Russians. The mag is so expensive I hate to recycle it without sharing, but until Bill Allen gets out of the hospital and stops in to resume scooping up the ava's dated periodicals into the bin it will go. (Anyone out there who wants The New Yorker, the comparably costly LRB and the New York Review of Books, they're yours for the asking.)
THE MOST DEPRESSING news of the week: A 60-ton whale that washed ashore in Hawaii on Saturday may have died because of trash and marine debris consumption. The whale — found on Lydgate Beach in Kauai County, Hawaii — had fishing traps, fishing nets, fishing line, plastic bags and other discarded materials in its stomach that created an intestinal blockage. The research team that did the autopsy on the whale concluded that nothing appeared wrong with the whale’s other organs, though they have collected samples to further test for disease. The death marks the first known case of a sperm whale in Hawaiian waters consuming discarded fishing gear, according to Kristi West, director of the University of Hawaii’s Health and Stranding Lab.
BERNIE SANDERS, America's preferred socialist, is charging up to $95 a ticket to an event promoting his new book about capitalism. The senator, 81, and a multi-millionaire, is hawking his latest book called, ‘It's Okay To Be Angry About Capitalism,’ which sells for $28. The Democratic Socialist is hosting an event following its release at the Anthem in Washington DC on March 1, with tickets ranging from $35 to $95. Tickets $55 and above come with a copy of the book.
ENDING SPECULATION about a possible retirement decision on the horizon, Trent Williams says he'll be back with the 49ers "for sure" in 2023. The star tackle, 34, is playing at the highest level of his veteran NFL career — notching two-straight All-Pro selections in 2021 and 2022.
SURVIVING PROP 64
Letter to The Editor,
Thanks to AVA for GoFundMe outreach on my behalf to intellectuals and dissidents who value the best weekly publication in the country.
Without AVA's detailed and meticulous record-keeping over the regulatory years, there'd be no way of understanding how and why growers have never advanced toward acquiring the promised permits they were paying for under the county's failed scheme. Some blame selfish growers who 'got out of paying taxes all those years' despite evidence in front of them, showing hundreds of growers in line striving to comply til they could no longer hang on financially.
I know a couple who, after four years, $40,000, no garden while waiting, denied because of neighbors, finally got the county to acknowledge unfair treatment and promised to make good, but instead they were ushered inside to a secondary line out of sight, further prolonging a process toward financial advantage for the county and disadvantage by design for small family farms.
Only those who offer something of value for the community will likely survive; post Prop 64. A large section of small farmers is going back underground or disintegrating due to severe regulations unsuited to rural outback growers whose economic networks in the shadows forged during prohibition, kept the county alive. After the heyday of fishing, logging and movies, it was weed.
Time to reimagine a well rounded inclusive cannabis community of the future which may look to its past for guidance. We grew 45% of our food in backyard gardens in 1945; only 1% by 2020, to the advantage of large farms, i.e., corporate domination of the food supply and corporate domination of cannabis medicines through regulatory frameworks — cannacraft v. cannacorp.
Cannacraft highlights skilled artisans and innovative products. The old school concept of “small is beautiful” opens up opportunities. Intentional action, group cooperation, network collaboration are all compatible with the elevated spirit of small is beautiful where more things are possible from and among us. AVA support matters.
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE: Events Calendar
LOVER BOY NOT GUILTY
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Friday to announce it had found the trial defendant not guilty as charged.
Thomas Patrick Houston, age 60, of Ukiah, was found not guilty of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and not guilty of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater.
Interestingly, the defense in the case was that Mr. Houston’s driving was an act of necessity, thus justified under the law.
Testimony was presented that Mr. Houston had been caught in flagrante delicto by his wife and his driving was necessary to allow him to escape two angry women.
While the prosecution argued the law of necessity is not intended and has never been applied to such a factual situation, the trial judge nevertheless allowed the jury to consider the necessity defense as possibly justifying the under-the-influence driving.
When a necessity defense is allowed by a trial judge, a defendant must prove that:
1. He acted in an emergency to prevent a significant bodily harm or evil to himself or someone else;
2. He had no adequate legal alternative;
3. The defendant’s driving under the influence and.or with a blood alcohol of .11/.11 did not create a greater danger than the one avoided;
4. When the defendant acted, he actually believed that the act of driving under the influence and/or with a blood alcohol of .11/.11 was necessary to prevent the threatened harm or evil;
5. A reasonable person would also have believed that driving under the influence and/or with a blood alcohol of .11/.11 was necessary under the circumstances; and
6. The defendant did not substantially contribute to the emergency.
The law enforcement agency that investigated the case was the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice forensic laboratory.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury and argued the necessity defense was inapplicable was Deputy District Attorney Sean Phillips.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan was the trial judge who presided over the four-day trial.
TWO COMMENTS on the Houston Verdict:
(1) I want more information! Where’s Paul Harvey?
Was he in a bed, or the back seat?
Did his wife pull up in a car, or did he pull out in a car?
Was it a drag race, or did she drag him out of the bed?
Was he stopped for speeding, or home-wreckless driving?
Was anyone else in the vehicle?
Did the CHP stop him coming around a bend?
So many questions!
* * *
(2) Carly Dolan, like most of the Mendo judges, is inept to the point of idiocy. How can it be said the defendant did not substantially contribute to the emergency? He created it! So the defense of necessity fails on its face and the judge should not have allowed it. But yes, kudos to the defense attorney who snookered the judge into allowing the defense and jury into buying it.
NEW YORK TIMES: California is treasured for its natural beauty, and you’ve recommended hundreds of the best places to soak it all in. The darkest desert campsites to see the stars, the best road trip routes to the world’s biggest trees or just your favorite hiking trails in your regional park.
Today we’re offering a highlight reel of sorts. Recently, many of you have written to us about trips you’ve taken within the state that were inspired by reader suggestions published in this newsletter. It’s been lovely to see how delighted you’ve been to discover, or rediscover, California and all its wonders.
Below, I’m sharing some of the notes and photos you sent in from your trips, which will hopefully provide some inspiration for future vacations. As always, please keep sending us your favorite places to visit in California by emailing us at CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
"I followed a contributor’s suggestion, traveled to Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, rented a bicycle and rode the Noyo Headlands Trail. Breathtaking views of the Pacific; beautiful, warm temperature; and an ample supply of benches to stop and take in the scenery. Followed by a double-scoop waffle cone from Cowlick’s Ice Cream. During the Whale Festival in March, you get the chance to view the skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore in 2009. Highly recommended.”
— Birgit Nielsen, Flensburg, Germany
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, February 4, 2022
OCTAVIO AYALA, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, no license.
EMMA BECHTOL, Ukiah. Domestic battery, failure to appear, probation revocation.
NICHOLAS COCHRAN, Redwood Valley. Under influence, resisting.
FREDY FUENTES-RUIZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, vandalism, shooting at inhabited dwelling, controlled subtance for sale, damage to communications equipment, resisting, conspiracy.
MANUEL GUTIERREZ-ALVAREZ, Fort Bragg. DUI.
JOSHUA HARDAGE-VERGEER, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
VICTORIA IDICA, Ukiah. Narcotics-controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, conspiracy.
AMBER NELSON, Lucerne/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
TODD RAMOS, Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, tear gas, suspended license.
RAYMOND RHODES, Fort Bragg. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
BRITANY SHORT, Covelo. DUI with alcohol over 0.15% with priors.
JALAHN TRAVIS, Ukiah. Resisting.
RONALD VALENTINE JR., Ukiah. Paraphernalia, transient registration.
FLAG FOOTBALL GREENLIGHTED FOR HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS
Girls flag football became California’s newest sanctioned high school sport on Friday. The California Interscholastic Federation’s Federated Council approved the proposal 146-0 and play will begin this fall, one year from when the Southern Section launched the initiative.
THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG.
"This is your home now. We welcome you with three merit points and a work assignment. In your time here, full cooperation will be rewarded with further merit points, which may be traded for privileges such as food, shelter and permission to speak. Anything less than full cooperation will cost you points. Attempts to avoid service, by digging, or self-harm, are permitted during sleep period. Oh, yes, ahem, and the attitude adjustment facility is soundproof now, thanks to the generous merit point donations of those who came before you. That's all. Get to work, and have a wonderful, uh, day."
Here's the recording of last night's (2023-02-03) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show* on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and KNYO.org: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0526
Here's a link to my dream journal project that I add to at random every week or so. I'd like to read /your/ dreams on the radio and I always offer to. Just email me.* Or include them in a reply to this post. Or send me a link to your dream journal and I'll make a note to go there and check for updates. https://marcomcclean.medium.com/
Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
John Hartford – Gum Tree Canoe. https://27thstreet.me/2023/02/03/gum-tree-canoe/
3D Mars flyover. This would go great with Laurie Anderson’s Big Science playing over it: “Hey pal! How do I get to town from here? And he said, Well, just take a right where they’re going to build that new shopping mall… Go straight past where they’re going to put in the freeway…Take a left at what’s going to be the new sports center... And keep going until you hit the place where they’re thinking of building that drive-in bank. You can’t miss it. And I said, This must be the place.” https://nagonthelake.blogspot.com/2023/01/stunning-3d-flyover-of-mars.html
And Poker Face as Western swing. (Lantec1000 wrote: “Interesting fact about this song. Lady Gaga was very anti-war at the time when World War II first broke out. But after D-Day, she performed for the soldiers overseas and saw first hand the destruction that the war has caused. She decided to fully support the war effort and this song was alluding to the radar technology the British invented and played as a taunt to the Germans.” https://laughingsquid.com/poker-face-old-timey-western-swing/
*Email your written work, it doesn't have to be a dream, and I'll read it on the very next Memo of the Air on KNYO. I don't care what it’s about nor even if you can’t control yourself from swearing like a sailor; most of the show is during Safe Harbor hours when that’s okay. It’s still a free country, or so they say. Find out for yourself.
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
IN BIG SUR, LIVING WITH NATURE’S BEAUTY BUT TRAPPED BY ITS FURY
The succession of storms last month that left some residents in that treasured region cut off from the rest of California is another reminder of the perils and adventure of Central Coast life.
by Victoria Kim
Under cover of darkness, John Handy edged his Chevy Silverado as far south as he was allowed, contemplating escape.
To his right, the Pacific lapped at the jagged coastline. To his left, the steep hillside loomed precariously over Highway 1, threatening to cascade down once more after having already buried much of the road during relentless winter storms that pounded California.
He listened for trickling water, for tumbling rocks big and small, for errant rumbles — signs that the earth was once again about to mock the hubris of those who once saw fit to carve a road into the Santa Lucia Mountains where they plunge directly into the ocean.
For weeks since the beginning of the year, a 20-mile rugged stretch of Big Sur on the California coast that Mr. Handy and a couple hundred of his neighbors call home has been turned into an island after landslides blocked Highway 1 to the north and south.
The locals have grown accustomed to recurring isolation over the years, but they have yet to solve for every predicament. A man in his 70s fell in his home and could not be reached by an ambulance. A third-grader could not get to school. And a couple of the newly captive islanders ran out of blood pressure medications and resorted to eating as much garlic, a natural alternative, as they could stomach.
“It feels like we’re prisoners really, for weeks with no way out,” said Mr. Handy, 64, who has lived here with his family since 2007.
Big Sur teeters at the edge of the continent as a loosely defined, 70-mile stretch about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dramatic cliffs, coastal redwoods and an unfettered horizon along the Pacific Ocean conjure a majestic experience that the writer Henry Miller once described as “almost painful to behold.”
“It seeks to remain unspoiled, uninhabited by man,” Miller wrote in his 1957 memoir on living in Big Sur, by which time he was already bemoaning the increasing number of visitors. “It was always a wild, rocky coast, desolate and forbidding to the man of the pavements.”
Big Sur has inspired poets and artists, lured homesteaders, hermits and hippies, and drawn millions of tourists each year. About 2,000 hardy people live here year-round. It is also perhaps the best embodiment of the California bargain — that living with awe-inspiring natural beauty can mean accepting the potential perils of nature’s destructive forces.
It is an exacting price those living in Big Sur have grown familiar with, paid for in repeat evacuations during wildfires and mudslides, and periods of isolation ever since Highway 1 was completed in 1937 along the coast.
Driving south from San Francisco in mid-January after three weeks of storms, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road and avoiding being entranced by the vast ocean views. Sections of the asphalt were rust-colored from recently cleared landslides, debris from which sat in roadside mounds like oversize ant hills.
I could reach the northern parts of Big Sur, including the area that most resembles a town, with a lodge, a bakery and post office. But I was turned back just past the Esalen Institute, a New Age retreat, where the road was closed, trapping residents to the south. Anyone who lived further, including Mr. Handy, I had to settle with interviewing over the phone.
The landslide spots are so infamous that they have names. To the north of the area currently isolated, there is Paul’s Slide and Mill Creek Slide. To the south, Polar Star Slide.
They result from geological forces that have conspired for millions of years before humans ever set foot on this coast. The hillsides consist of a mélange of sheared and metamorphosed sedimentary and igneous rocks, crisscrossed with faults that allow water to seep beneath and destabilize the slopes.
Having been locked in time and time again, people here are prepared for prolonged removal from the world. They keep their pantries stocked with rice, beans and powdered milk, fill their generators with propane ahead of winter, and regularly check on their neighbors. Many keep second cars — often a used clunker — that they can park on the other side of a road closure and reach by foot.
Shelley Newell, 72, arrived in 1967 on her own as a teenager fleeing her strict hometown of Pacific Grove some 30 miles north, where alcohol sales were banned at the time and she was getting into trouble for cursing.
The lessons from her first winters in Big Sur have stuck. On a recent Costco run, she bought eight pounds of coffee. The first time she remembers being cut off, around 1970, she quickly ran through a one pound bag of rice and had to subsist for a month on abalone picked along the coast and venison from roadkill, she said. To this day, she cannot stand abalone because of the memory.
Now, she has some 50 pounds of rice, 20 pounds of beans and a cupboard full of canned tuna that she guesses could last her and her partner, David, for at least year.
“Big Sur’s never been conquered, the land is still pretty rugged, which appeals to a certain kind of people,” Ms. Newell said.
Magnus Toren, the longtime director of the Henry Miller Library, said the demands that Big Sur makes of its residents are at the core of its appeal.
“There is sort of a vulnerability to the landscape here,” he said. “The fires and the landslides, and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean when it runs wild, that all conspires to make you aware of nature.”
In decades prior, road crews allowed residents to make their own decisions about when to come and go during landslides, locals say.
But in recent years, officials have been stricter about enforcing road closures with locked gates or heavy equipment parked across partially cleared, passable lanes. Residents blame smartphone-wielding tourists who have tried to take videos of themselves navigating Big Sur’s most hazardous conditions.
Officials at Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation say the dangers are not always readily apparent, no matter how familiar anyone may be with the terrain. Take Paul’s Slide, which in early January shoved 8,000-pound concrete barriers that had been staked into the pavement halfway across the highway.
“That’s a lot of force,” said Kevin Drabinski, a spokesman for Caltrans. “It’s this conversation that’s been going on for centuries between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and we placed a road right there.”
State officials have organized occasional convoys to let residents caravan through the northern closures to make supply runs. About four weeks into the latest confinement, officials also sent a helicopter to drop a load of groceries, water, medication and mail.
Jasmine Horan, 42, grew up in Big Sur and is now a single mother living with her aging parents. She remembers being able to walk across slide areas to get to school when she was young and being allowed through closures with a local ID, she said.
But this year, she has had to home-school her 9-year-old daughter and closely monitor her father’s blood pressure as his medication ran low, she said.
In mid-January, a neighbor found a resident in his 70s collapsed in his home. An ambulance could come only as far as the southern closure.
Four members of the local volunteer fire brigade considered hiking across Polar Star Slide with the man on a stretcher, but heavy rain rendered that option unsafe, recalled Mike Handy, 31, the son of John Handy and a volunteer firefighter.
Hours later, after nightfall, with all other options exhausted, the man was airlifted by a National Guard helicopter to a hospital in San Luis Obispo, he said.
It was a few days later, once the rains had stopped, that the older Mr. Handy, a toy designer who now runs the Treebones Resort, mulled over his own risks of hiking across the slide on foot in defiance of sternly worded orders from local and state officials.
His granddaughter, Cici, was turning 2 soon, and he wanted to again see his newborn grandson, Lev. They lived south of Polar Star Slide in Morro Bay.
The danger seemed contained, and he thought it would be safe for him to walk across the 100 yards or so to the outside world.
But he ultimately decided against it. Instead, he later managed to talk road workers into letting him through a closure up north, he said — and he drove the long way around, two hours north, then two hours south on inland roads to make it to Morro Bay. He dressed as a giraffe and his wife wore a kangaroo costume for the animal-themed birthday party.
“It was her special day,” he said. “You can’t miss that.”
THE PRINCE WANTS TO BE A PAUPER
by Andrew O’Hagan
In the fierce toboggan ride of his book, ‘Spare,’ Prince Harry never says that his mother is dead, only that she has “disappeared.” Photographs, images, pieces in the press, the proofs of his and his family’s specialness, are what obsess him and drive him into a spiral of confusion as he fights for control of his life. I would say, right off, that when a mother dies so publicly and so violently, the fight is likely to be with the sibling. Nobody actually shares their parent — that’s just an illusion — and even the healthiest of brothers are parrying with wooden swords. Each child wants to go back, fighting off all monsters, all observers and opportunists, all lovers and all brothers, to be alone with her again.
There has never been a book like this, with its parceling out of epic, one-sided truths. Most royal biographies, even the lively ones —his mother’s, his father’s, poor old Crawfie’s — were made airless by vapid writing, spurious genuflections before royal protocol, cringing vanity masquerading as public service. Harry does much less of that. He goes in for a Las Vegas-style treatment of the royal problem, with multiple sets, many costumes and guest appearances by everybody from Carl Jung to Elton John. There are overshared war experiences, bouts of snotty complaining, daddy issues, mummy issues, brother issues, bedroom-size issues, whose-palace-is-it-anyway issues, arguments about tiaras, Kate Middleton issues, and todger-nearly-dropping-off-in-Harley-Street issues. Harry notarizes his pees, his poos, his sweat and his bonks. He reveals the duff present his auntie Margaret gave him for Christmas (“I was conversant with the general contours of her sad life”). He calls his brother bald. He has trouble showing affection without its being excessive (he hugs his therapist after one session, FedEx-ing the transference before session three) and barely introduces a person into the narrative before shortening their name and making them a “legend.”
So, we have Chels, Cress, Euge and other colorfully abbreviated lives. Harry wants to love. He wants purpose. He’s nobody’s “spare.” He can never quite say it out loud, and neither could his aunt Margaret, but he’s pissed about being number two, and he takes all the unfairness and makes of it a Molotov cocktail. Take that, Camilla! Take that, courtiers and royal correspondents! Take that, Pa, from your “darling boy”! You can’t help agreeing with him half the time; the other half is spent worrying how he’ll ever make it through his life, as he mistakes his need to end his pain with the need for a global reset.
Prince Harry has never read a book in his life, so his ghost writer, J.R. Moehringer, invites a round of applause every time he goes all Sartre or Faulkner. The latter provides this volume’s epigraph, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” which Harry reveals he found on some brainy quote site on the web (“Who the fook is Faulkner? And how’s he related to us Windsors?”).
It’s quite thrilling, Harry as existentialist philosopher, and I was especially pleased with his Heidegger-like handling of the principal problems of time. “Could there really be Nothing after this?,” the homework-shy scrum-half writes. “Does consciousness, like time, have a stop?” Such thoughts bring him closer to his mother. “Thinking Harry” is now surrounded by the postcolonial writers we saw on his Netflix series, who are pushing him to enact his fantasy of being a standard-bearer for reformed racists turned brand ambassadors for what is right, what is fair and being Really Sorry about the Past.
He has every right to be angry. People have been falling over themselves to say what a decent cove the king is, but what father — despite a lifetime of kowtowing to his own reality-strapped, unfeeling parents — would tell his 12-year-old in the middle of the night that his mother was dead, then leave him on his own in the bedroom until morning? What sort of father would make his boys march behind their mother’s coffin surrounded by people holding up cameras? Harry might live in a universe of grievances, but none of his family seems able to hug him, to placate him, to come to his side when the press is especially vile, and the combination of these things has been explosive.
The queen stuck to tradition. She wouldn’t let William wear his army uniform on his wedding day. When Harry told her, alone by the tailgate of a Range Rover on the Sandringham estate, that he intended to marry Meghan Markle, she dubiously gave her assent, but didn’t embrace him or shake his hand, and I think this gives you the measure of the family. He had to beg her to let him keep his beard for his wedding, though this was a break with tradition. William disapproved, in a way that makes you worry how he’s going to make it through his life.
(London Review of Books)
ONCE AGAIN, DNC PANEL BLOCKS VOTE ON DARK MONEY BAN IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES
by Jake Johnson
For the second time in less than five months, the Democratic National Committee's resolutions panel refused Thursday to allow a vote on a proposed ban on dark money in the party's primaries, despite substantial support for the change among DNC members and prominent progressive lawmakers.
Judith Whitmer, the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party and lead sponsor of the dark money resolution, wrote on Twitter that "these funds are being used to exclude, not empower. They're being used to silence the voices our party most needs to hear," Whitmer added.
According to DNC member R.L. Miller, the founder of Climate Hawks Vote, "not a single person" on the Resolutions Committee "dares move to even put it for a vote, just like summer 2022."
During that meeting, which took place in September, the panel also declined to let the proposed dark money ban advance to a vote, as Common Dreamsreported at the time. Recounting the September meeting in an op-ed for The Nation, longtime DNC member James Zogby — who helped craft the dark money proposal — wrote that after Whitmer delivered a "powerful" statement to the resolutions panel in support of the ban, the panel's chair "asked if any member of the committee wanted to put our resolution up for a vote."
"There was dead silence in the room," Zogby wrote, suggesting that members were likely pressured by DNC leadership to stonewall the dark money proposal. "With not one of the two dozen committee members in attendance willing to call for a vote, the resolution died."
The DNC's proceedings are notoriously anti-democratic and untransparent — and they are likely to become even more so under bylaw changes that the body quietly enacted during its September gathering. As The Intercept's Akela Lacy reported following last year's meeting, "The national committee approved language requiring that it must ratify any bylaw amendments that the convention, a broader body, wants to adopt."
"The amendment removes the authority over DNC decisions from the national convention, which includes thousands of members, and places it instead with the smaller national committee of just under 500," Lacy noted. "According to three people present, several DNC members were frustrated with the change."
The DNC doesn't publicize the membership lists of its standing committees, though 2020 reporting from Sludge identified at least three corporate lobbyists who were serving on the resolutions panel at that time.
The committee's obstruction of the proposed dark money ban comes in the wake of the most expensive U.S. midterm cycle on record. According to OpenSecrets, super PACs spent an astounding $1.35 billion during the 2022 midterm election cycle.
An outgrowth of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, super PACs are legally required to disclose their donors — but many of them are effectively dark money groups because of how difficult it is to trace the sources of their funding.
During last year's Democratic primaries, progressive candidates across the country faced barrages of opposition spending from super PACs, including one bankrolled by Republican billionaires.
The torrent of super PAC cash provided the impetus for progressives' push to ban dark money in Democratic primaries, an effort that garnered the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — who caucuses with Senate Democrats — and other members of Congress.
Ahead of the winter DNC gathering in Philadelphia, which is set to formally kick off this weekend, Sanders wrote in a letter that "the Democratic Party must not allow oligarchs and their super PACs, often aligned with Republicans, to buy Democratic Party primaries.” "Virtually all Democrats talk about the need for campaign finance reform," Sanders added. "Talk is easy. Now it's time to walk the walk. Let's stand up for democracy."
Larry Cohen, a DNC member and board chair of the progressive group Our Revolution, lamented in an organizing call earlier this week that the DNC is "a shitshow.” "There's no other way to describe it," Cohen said. "If we don't get the dark money — what I call 'the dirty money' — out of Democratic primaries, it becomes increasingly impossible to elect the challengers, the insurgents, the progressives in those primaries."
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, 4TH FEBRUARY
Ukraine will fight to hold on to the fiercely contested eastern city of Bakhmut as long as it can, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday.
France and Italy will send a long-range air defense system to Ukraine this spring, the countries' defense ministers said. The system can target drones, missiles and fighter jets.
Russia and Ukraine held a "large exchange" of POWs Saturday, according to a top Ukrainian official and Russian state media.
Nearly half a million people in Odesa have been left without power after a "serious accident" at a substation previously damaged by Russian attacks, Ukrainian officials say.
ROBINS, FOUR ON-LINE COMMENTS:
I’m in mid central Wisconsin, the really cold spell that our host can expect tonight & tomorrow just departed. With wind chill we expect -11. Last week I had 40 robins in the BY, it was cold!! News Flash, not all Robins migrate. Per Audobon Soc. Robins have been seen in January in every state and lower Canadian Prov.
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Robins are acting weird this year. I didn’t see any the past 2 winters, but this year there are massive flocks everywhere, and they are getting drunk on fermented berries and flying into windows and cars. It’s really freakish.
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This is the first winter I’ve noticed them too. About mid-December I saw roughly 60, it was hard to count because they were all agitated, flying short distances and engaging each other constantly. They all disappeared only to re-emerge last week.
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I had to look for images of American robins, as I knew they were different from ours, but had never seen one. Ours don’t flock – they are solitary, very territorial birds, which only live about 14 months, so not only do you only ever see one coming to your bird feeders, but you rarely see the same one two winters running. Ours beat yours for cuteness, though.
THE STORY THAT WE HAVE TO ILLUMINATE is that we don’t have to be complicit with destruction. That’s the assumption: that there are these powerful forces around us that we can’t possibly counteract. The refusal to be complicit can be a kind of resistance to dominant paradigms, but it’s also an opportunity to be creative and joyful and say, I can’t topple Monsanto, but I can plant an organic garden; I can’t counter fill-in-the-blank of environmental destruction, but I can create native landscaping that helps pollinators in the face of neonicotinoid pesticides. So much of what we think about in environmentalism is finger-wagging and gloom-and-doom, but when you look at a lot of those examples where people are taking things into their hands, they’re joyful. That’s healing not only for land but for our culture as well — it feels good. It’s also good to feel your own agency. We need to feel that satisfaction that can replace the so-called satisfaction of buying something. Our attention has been hijacked by our economy, by marketers saying you should be paying attention to consumption, you should be paying attention to violence, political division. What if we were paying attention to the natural world? I’ve often had this fantasy that we should have Fox News, by which I mean news about foxes. What if we had storytelling mechanisms that said it is important that you know about the well-being of wildlife in your neighborhood? That that’s newsworthy? This beautiful gift of attention that we human beings have is being hijacked to pay attention to products and someone else’s political agenda. Whereas if we can reclaim our attention and pay attention to things that really matter, there a revolution starts.
— Robin Wall Kimmerer
FOR HARVEY READING
Craig Louis Stehr
Poem is not a Haiku
Try five seven five
I assumed Stehr was 2 syllables
Also, grasses do bloom. They just don’t look like pretty flowers.
If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can change to another Medicare Advantage plan or switch back to Original Medicare within the first 3 months that you have Medicare.
But if Stehr is one
Haiku may be just undone
Perfect but not quite
Haiku about Uselessness
Some folk do great things;
Write books, save lives, invent machines.
Some just sit and Stehr.
RE: The Curious World of Seaweed.
Grace Hudson Museum, Ukiah, California
January 28 to April 30, 2023
—>. Hours & Admission
Wednesday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Sunday, 12:00 to 4:30 PM
First Friday evenings, 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Closed on Monday & Tuesday
Docent led tours of the historic Sun House are generally
available Friday through Sunday from 12:00 to 3:00.
Please call to confirm tour availability, or to inquire about scheduling a tour for the day you plan to visit.
Seniors and Students: $4
The Museum provides free admission for Native Americans and for standing military personnel with identification. Always free to members.
Free to all on the first Friday of each month.
I’ve heard this somewhere but only once. I think it’s the solution to the problem.
One city, county or state at a time, require each officer individually to carry insurance to cover defense and settlement of misconduct lawsuits. The cost of coverage for a cop who has never had a suit against them could be included in their salary but any increased cost due to a successful suit would have to be born by that officer. Repeat offenders would become uninsurable and therefore unable to continue working within that force.
What do you say, Ukiah city council? Mendo supes?
“The Chinese Balloon situation is a disgrace, just like the Afghanistan horror show, and everything else surrounding the grossly incompetent Biden Administration. They are only good at cheating in elections, and disinformation — and now they are putting out that a Balloon was put up by China during the Trump Administration, in order to take the “heat” off the slow moving Biden fools. China had too much respect for “TRUMP” for this to have happened, and it NEVER did. JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!”
-Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Thanks for keeping us all updated on Trump’s ever-increasing plunge into the depths of unhinged insanity.
They should have just used one of Trump protege Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Jewish space lasers. A real missed opportunity.
Wasn’t it the Seattle Space Needle’s sole useful purpose?
So, pop the balloons when they enter our air space. A couple of missiles from a high flying jet and a hazard to civil aviation is removed. If the Chinese object, point out the hazards very publicly.
And no worries. There is little chance any debris would hit any human.