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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023

Between Storms | 101 Trees | Snow Stories | Public Safety | Snow Memories | Disgraceful Trail | Regina Heights | Covelo Fire | Arena Meeting | Mendocino Cafe | Grange Pancakes | Water Projects | Widening One | Dubious Items | Snow Vines | Ed Notes | Bebop Sundae | Art Exhibit | Willits Welcome | Blind Budget | LA Weird | Snow Reverie | Thatcher Hotel | You're Fired | SNWMF 2023 | Weed Money | Model Citizen | Lumberjack Competition | Parkour | City People | Look Not | Motel Scuffle | Ten Corporations | 1877 Trip | Yesterday's Catch | Avedon Pictures | Near Youtube | Ticket Squint | Mystic Madcap | Ridiculous Evening | Christmas Dinner | Marco Radio | Vegetarians | Orange Fixation | Hawg Stye | Rainmakers | Gift Weapons | Ukraine | Divert Attention | Gray Owl

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QUIET WEATHER conditions are expected today as an upper high pressure briefly builds into Northern California. A shortwave trough will bring a round of snow on Sunday for elevations above 2500 feet. Another deep, cold upper level trough will bring heavy low elevation snow Monday through Tuesday. (NWS)

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On Hwy 101, trees fell on vehicles near Confusion Hill in northern Mendocino County (photo by Kate Gage)

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WE WON’T SOON FORGET Thursday night unless Friday night is worse. Emergency services people were hustling all night to pull stranded motorists out of the snow as the unprepared slid off roads and trees came down everywhere. Can’t blame the unprepared, though; who can be prepared for a sea level snowstorm in Mendocino County? As a life-long ten-percenter — at any one time ten percent of the people have no idea what’s happening even when it’s happening to them — I could have been stranded on 128 last night, too, having headed south an hour before the sky gods decided to remind us what a real winter is like.

MENDO PEOPLE are at their best in crises, among the many who rose to this unprecedented occasion count Steve Laviletta who told his Signal Ridge neighbors, “I just got done clearing Signal Ridge from Rossi ranch to Philo Greenwood. Proceed with caution.”

WITHOUT STEVE, nobody up there in the highest reaches of the Anderson Valley could have proceeded with or without caution.

AND THERE WAS “Kyle out of Comptche” who appeared out of nowhere on 128 near Yorkville who wielded chainsaw assistance to several motorists trapped by fallen trees. 

“Serious thanks to the one guy with a chainsaw that helped make it possible for us all to get down off that snowy hill outside Yorkville. Kyle out of Comptche, with the white Dodge Pickup, I’ll buy you a new bar for that chainsaw any day you’re in town.”

THIS REPRESENTATIVE Facebook comment appeared at 9:16pm: “We were driving to the coast and had to turn around about 30 min ago and go back to Cloverdale; too much snow for 2 wd, but also trees down; even big pick-ups we’re turning back because they said it was getting worse and worse driving towards the coast. Hopefully the roads will be clear tomorrow. 9:16pm Thursday night

OVER THE HILL ON 101: "UPDATE 10 p.m.: Caltrans QuickMap reports that northbound Hwy 101 traffic is being turned back at Uva Drive in Redwood Valley north of Hwy 20. Both north and southbound lanes of Highway 101 along the Ridgewood Grade are shut down due to the snow conditions.

OVER THE LONG YEARS, the Boonville schools have been closed many times for dubious reasons. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too wet. It’s gratifying to read the message from school Supe Simson that the Anderson Valley schools would be open on Friday, thus emphasizing that education is a serious business which a few hours of snow is not going to stop.

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FIREFIGHTERS get a lot of thanks from the community, but we’re not the only ones out there. Here’s AVFD Lieutenant Perez, heading out for the beginning of his night shift with CalTrans. We appreciate our public safety colleagues! (AV Fire Chief Andres Avila)

Moy Perez & Caltrans

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RENEE LEE: It’s been a really loooong time! I have a picture of me as a youngster in our yard with about the same amount of snow as today. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. I can’t remember snow that has actually “stuck” that much on the Valley floor since then.

ERNIE PARDINI: I’m not sure what year it was, but I was working for Harold Hulbert at the Chevron station in town and it snowed 6 inches in downtown Boonville. At the top of the hill it snowed 18 inches on flat ground. Floyd Johnson was worried about his sheep not being able to get anything to eat so he had my uncle Mancher haul a cat up to open the road out to his Bald Hills ranch. My dad took a picture of my uncle standing next to a cut bank of snow that was higher than my uncle standing next to it with his arm extended as high as he could reach.

MARK SCARAMELLA: The last time I remember measurable snow in the lower elevations of Mendocino County was back in February of 1989 the year before moving to Boonville when I was visiting my parents in Irish Beach. Here’s a picture I saved of that snow that my father took of Highway 1 at the time with the Pacific Ocean in the background on the west side of Highway 1. This was right at sea level, so the snow must have been comparably low in Anderson Valley.

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To the Editor:

It was a fine day on Monday and my dog friend and I went for a walk down the Ukiah Rail Trail. We won’t be doing that again. 


It is so dismaying that something that had the potential to be an asset for the local public has turned into… What exactly?

There is incredibly vulgar graffiti on the walls and fences that line the trail from Ford Street to Talmage Road and it is spray-painted on the ground. There is an abandoned car that has been vandalized, and garbage everywhere, along the trail itself and piled in the easement.

Ramshackle tents and shelters of the homeless are in the easement with more garbage.

Under the bridge over Dolan Creek there is the overwhelming stench of human waste, piles of abandoned and dirty clothing and more garbage; and garbage in the creek bed itself, plastic on its way to the Pacific Ocean to destroy Marine life there.

There are loose, aggressive dogs.

It is just appalling. I have difficulty understanding how something that was to benefit the local community has been allowed by the City to become such an utterly disgraceful mess.

Gail Dammuller


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South Ukiah Valley from Regina Heights (Dave Buerger)

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UPDATE (8:33pm): "We are getting reports that the fire was essentially sequestered to the attic and has been brought under control. That has not been confirmed via scanner traffic, but by the information offered to our source from a firefighter at the scene."

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POINT ARENA City Council Meeting February 28, 2023

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Twice the time & twice the money later we are ready to rumble! We will be open our usual cafe hours: 11-4 and 5 -9 seven days a week. We miss you all and look forward to the reunion. Love & Gratitude,

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Anderson Valley Community Services District

To be held via teleconference Phone # 669 900 6833 Zoom Meeting ID 845 5084 3330 Password 048078

Public comments must be submitted by 10:00am on March 2nd, 2023 electronically to

 Thursday March 2nd, 2023 at 10:30am

Call To Order And Roll Call:

Recognition Of Guests And Hearing Of Public:

Consent Calendar: Minutes From February 2nd, 2023

Changes Or Modification To This Agenda: 

Report On Drinking Water Project:

Report On Wastewater Project:

Public Outreach:

Concerns Of Members:


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BY A 7–1 VOTE, the California Coastal Commission approved the Caltrans road safety project to widen Highway 1 south of Navarro Ridge road, on Feb. 10, 2023.

Highway 1 @ Navarro Ridge Road

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by Mark Scaramella

Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors Agenda appears to have been stripped of anything significant. It’s full of routine business with little public interest, along with a few large handouts to contractors and helping agencies buried in the consent calendar. 

For example, these consent calendar items caught our eye.

• Item 3o) “Approval of Agreement with 4LEAF, Inc., for up to $1,600,000 in Contract Planning Services, from the Effective Date of the Agreement through December 31, 2023.”

We like the “up to” language, as if a cannabis grant-funded consulting contractor is going to spend less than the “up to” amount. 

“Summary of Request: The Department is requesting approval to enter into the above referenced Agreement with 4LEAF, Inc., to pay for contract planning services from the effective date of the agreement through December 31, 2023 in an amount not to exceed $1,600,000.00. This agreement will provide contract planning services to support the department with the processing of applications and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documentation for commercial cannabis cultivation and nursery operations needing to transition from a State provisional license to an annual license.”

And what are the “contract planning services”? Actually, they sound like the “services” the department should already be “providing.”

According to the attached proposed contract, 4Leaf will: 

“1. Conduct a completeness check of ministerial Cannabis Cultivation Applications.

a. Review documentation received versus Ordinance Requirements and determine if there is outstanding documentation required.

b. Draft a form letter requesting any additional documents or corrections to the application materials previously submitted.

2. Conduct a complete review of all received ministerial Cannabis Cultivation Permit applications to:

a. Determine applicability and alignment with requirements

b. Verify that all required local and state permits and licenses are approved or processed.

c. Complete zoning clearance review and determine whether a discretionary permit will be required.

d. Review and approve site plans based on requirements, ensuring setbacks and all cannabis cultivation related activities/buildings/structures are listed.

e. Complete application referrals to the Department of Environmental Health to ensure compliance with sewage and water well requirements.

f. Complete the Sensitive Species Review and depending upon the review of performance standards defined compared to the project, recommend to approve, submit a referral to California Department of Fish and Wildlife for additional information or studies that may be required; or recommend for denial, if the cultivator cannot demonstrate a less than significant impact to Sensitive Species and Sensitive Species Habitat as the project is proposed.

g. Complete the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District Questionnaire Review and submit the referral to Mendocino County Air Quality Management District, for approval.

h. Complete the Compliance Plan Agreement for the proposed project, if necessary, including a list of all outstanding building permits on site.

i. Recommend approval or denial to the Mendocino Cannabis Department based on the final review process.

3. Conduct and/or coordinate further reviews as necessary after receiving direction from the Department.

4. In addition to a ministerial permit for some of the Phase 1, 2, or 3 applicants, complete a review of and process discretionary permits determined by the zoning requirements in MCCO Chapter 20.242 Cannabis Cultivation Sites.

5. Prepare and/or review environmental documents as required (i.e., CEQA Appendix G certification).

6. Prepare written reports, for discretionary use permit or other reason under direction of Mendocino Cannabis Department as requested.

7. Answer questions and notify or provide information to applicants regarding requirements of the Ordinance, on behalf of the County.

8. Communicate in writing with applicants on current status of applications and next steps, on behalf of the County.

9. Update appropriate County data base or communication systems.

a. TRAKIT is used by the County for permitting (additional project management platforms may be implemented, i.e. Accela)

Despite their name (“4Leaf”), there’s nothing on this Pleasanton-based company’s website (or anywhere else for that matter) about cannabis, cannabis cultivation or related experience or services.”

Aside from the fact that this outfit has no identifiable cannabis permit experience and that much of this is work the Cannabis Department staff should have done long-ago and/or should be doing, and that Mendo’s rules are uniquely restrictive compared with other counties in California, it’s another in the seemingly endless parade of costly obstructions being placed on the road to cannabis permit application approvals.

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Consent Calendar Item 3al is unique in County Consent Calendar items in that it proposes a decrease in a funded item while at the same time extends the service period. It could be an error, of course. Or perhaps the money is being shifted somewhere else. But still… We’ll never know, of course, because our incurious supervisors seldom question consent calendar items no matter how dubious.

“3al) Approval of Retroactive First Amendment to BOS Agreement No. 22-181with Mendocino County Youth Project, Decreasing the Amount from $506,356 to $346,121, to Provide Rapid Re-Housing Services to Individual Youth and Youth-Led Families with Children Who are Experiencing Homelessness in Mendocino County, Effective October 1, 2021, through a New End Date of September 30, 2023 (Original End Date: September 30, 2022)”

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There’s also an item which proposes to hand over about $1.7 mil (again, on the consent calendar mind you), the amount left from a homeless “assistance” grant, to the 31 agencies comprising Mendo’s amorphous, unaccountable and ineffectual “continuum of care” bunch whose own “strategic plan” emphasizes that they exist mainly to perpetuate themselves, not reduce the number of unhoused Mendolanders.

“3ao. Ratification of Submission of the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and ) Prevention Program Round 3 (HHAP-3) Joint Application with the Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care (MCHSCoC); and Approval of Revenue Remainder Disbursement Standard Agreement No. 22-HHAP-20041with Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency for HHAP-3in the Amount of $1,703,609.13, Effective Upon Full Execution through December 31, 2026, with the County of Mendocino as the Administrative Entity for the Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care.”

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(photo by Tom Towey)

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CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN'S appearance last week at Hendy Bridge took me back to the night a visiting class of high school kids from the California School for the Deaf were having a merry middle of the night time jumping off the bridge until Deputy Squires was called out to put the kibosh on the dangerous hijinks. The formidable deputy, not trained in signing, had no trouble making himself understood. Lots of local kids have made that summertime leap, almost all of them of the male persuasion, but there have always been rumors that a few girls have also jumped, and if you're one of them or know one of them I'd like to hear from you.

COMPLICATING the dispatch of Boonville's beloved weekly is a new edict from the U.S. Post Office that roughly half of our out-of-Mendo papers be mailed outtahere in plastic strapped bins, rather than the plastic bags we've used for many years. It adds a couple of hours to the weekly grind. 

THE NEW SYSTEM could be construed as elder abuse given our two-person geriatric staff, and our “office” has already been confused several times with an assisted living facility by delivery people, the assist arriving once a month in the capable and all-round-excellent Cory who completes the onerous task of cleaning up after us with unfailing good humor. The point! Get to the point, old man! The point is some papers will inevitably go astray until we have mastered this new process.

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Bebop's, Ukiah

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PAUL REIBER AND NINO VILLAMOR show on Saturday, March 4th. The artists will be present between 6 and 9 pm to discuss their art with the public.

Nino Villamor creates wonderful dimensional handmade papers by molding clay and working hand-made paper over the sculpted model. She tells us, “I started teaching after college and after spending time exploring the gallery scene. She became interested in paper and its ability to hold a shape other than flat. “I discovered that paper could be cast in a mold made from an original modeling clay sculpture or over that same sculptured image for a reversed/concave image, and once dried would retain that shape. My subject matter continues to be figurative, focusing on the female body in all its variations since this is the body I live within.”

Paul Reiber attended the Krenov School of Fine Woodworking with its first class in 1982. Soon after graduating he opened his first shop in Fort Bragg and has been working in wood since that time. He is a founding member of The Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers Association and helped organize over 20 shows on the coast and at the Grace Hudson Museum. Paul works in all types of local and exotic wood, carving figures and sometimes, even feathers. Paul told us, "I am a wood carver and sculptor. I like to make objects of beauty and grace that speaks to the human heart and soul about our relationship with each other, the earth, and all living things.

The show opens Saturday, March 4th between 6-9 pm and closes March 27th. The Arts Center is located at 71 East Commercial St. Willits, CA 95490.

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by Andrew Scully

It all seemed so simple: We would sit down with top County leaders fresh into the new year and a new term of office, to get their views on the big-ticket issues facing the county, and opportunities to address those problems.  We would do it during a relative lull in the steady drumbeat of natural disasters that take their eyes off the long game.  But as often happens in the strange looking-glass world of Mendocino County, instead of hearing about new water projects and transportation infrastructure, or plans to preserve more forest land, the conversation was hijacked by the latest crisis - the crisis du jour in Ukiah, a familiar story line in these parts.  Some days it seems as though that crisis is all that happens in county government.  

Only this time it was not a natural disaster or earthquake.  It was a firestorm alright, but it was lit up by and swirling around Chamise Cubbison, the elected County Auditor.  She had figuratively lit her hair on fire and run across State Street by her failure, more than a year and a half into her job, to do her job.  Or at least the essential functions of that job, namely audit the county financial books.  

Of course, things are not presented that crisply in the county building, where the wording can be about as clear as a glass of Mendo Mud.  But Chamise Cubbison, and her performance in her job function (or lack thereof) is the white elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about; and the single thing occupying most time and thought and energy in County administrative offices.

Here are some of the facts: 

  • As we go to press in late February, more than nine months since the close of the last fiscal year (06/30/2022), no audit of that year has been produced (the audit is typically completed and available to leaders and the public by Labor Day) 
  • A budget for the current fiscal year (07/01/2022-23 - that’s the one we’re in right now) was proposed, debated and adopted by the Board of Supervisors all without ever knowing what the actual spending results were from the past year.  This is because Chamise Cubbison had not performed the Audit and made it available prior to the deadline - set by state law - for the Board to adopt the new budget.  Thus they had to adopt the budget for FY 2022-23 in the dark, without an audit of the results of last years’ finances. This had never before happened in county history.
  • The fact that Mendocino County is well over halfway into its current budget and expense cycle, with department heads and county leaders spending money - tax revenue - without any knowledge of current financial information - a “balance sheet”.  This means money is being spent blindly; it is akin to a person writing checks out of an account for over 6 months without ever knowing how much is in that account.  That would be crazy.  That would be a crime.

We planned to interview all the leaders of Mendocino County for this series, and most all of them responded and were generous with their time, including:

  • Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer Darcy Antle
  • Sheriff Matthew Kendall
  • Registrar-Recorder Katrina Bartolomie
  • Supervisors Maureen Mulheren and Ted Williams
  • Public Safety Advisory Board Member Lee Finney

Interestingly, the person with the most  knowledge of the budget process and why it is not forthcoming - the County Auditor Chamise Cubbison - was one of only two people that did not respond to a request for an interview.  In fact she did not respond to several requests.  

Neither did District Attorney David Eyster, who apparently does not deign to engage with either the public or the press. The staffer that answers Eyster’s phone informed a caller that the District Attorney “could not be reached” and that he “didn’t have an email address.”  

While some leaders were no-shows, other people stepped forward unexpectedly and provided crucial insight.  Chief among these is Lloyd Weer, the recently retired (September 2021) former Auditor of the County - Ms. Cubbbison’s direct predecessor.

Mr. Weer said that no other reporter had ever reached out to him; a fact he found surprising, what with all the controversy and all.  But your intrepid reporter tracked him down; (it wasn't that hard actually) and found Mr. Weer more than willing to share on selected topics in the public square.

But before we get further into the details of the current fiasco, it might be helpful to step back outside Ukiah to try to put everything into context. Into a Mendocino County context.  A very useful grid to help understand this county can be made by intersecting the sage wisdom of two county leaders interviewed for this story:

Supervisor Ted Williams:  “Mendocino County is huge geographically - three times larger than Rhode Island – with a tiny population (the total county population of 90,000 is only half the size of the City of Santa Rosa).”  And those 90,000 people are sparsely settled in isolated areas, strung out in a spider's web of roads that traverse rugged terrain. Yet residents often expect - and demand big-city-style government service delivery.  “We are a place with high demand for government services and very limited revenue streams.”

Sheriff Matt Kendall:  “You can’t understand this place without three key concepts:  Guns, gravity and greed.”

And to understand the current budget scandal, it is important to clarify a few financial concepts and definitions.  As noted, the county operates on a budget, a financial document that outlines spending and income for the year.  The current budget generally takes shape from last year's template.  County officials evaluate results of the last budget by looking at the audit. Then department heads make necessary changes, additions and deletions for the coming year.  The proposed budget is then debated and finally adopted by the Board of Supervisors.  The County budget runs off the Fiscal Year calendar, from 07/01 to 06/30.  

The budget forms the basis for the “books” , the financial statement or summary of audited amounts that is just like a checkbook register.   Knowing how much is in there, how much is coming in and going out, and when, is obviously crucial to prudent financial operations.  Informed, accurate financial data is foundational to government and corporate finance, and negligent - possibly criminal - to operate in the blind.

Ted Williams, who represents the 5th District on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors (basicly the southwest section of the County) is reserved and almost professorial in his bearing.  He could hardly be described as an extremist; yet he seems relentless in his focus on this budget issue:  The absence of financial information from the County Auditor is “shocking” to him and “puts the County in a position of extreme vulnerability”.  He has been quite vocal in pursuit of an audited balance sheet, the current monthly running total of where the county revenue and spending is, as compared with budgeted and closed audited books on prior periods and fiscal years such as 2020. 

This seems a reasonable request.  Indeed it is pretty much standard operating procedure in government, business and personal finance.  Sort of “Basic Finance 101”. The person tasked with developing these products is the elected County Auditor, Chamise Cubbison.

We began our interviews with high hopes in mid-January.  Darcy Antle was first on our list.  Ms. Antle is the Chief Executive Officer of Mendocino County, fairly new to her role, coming up on a year in the post. Her background is in finance and healthcare administration. She has a lot of experience with budgets. Our entire interview was consumed with her efforts and frustrations since joining the county in 2019 to bring County budget and accounting systems into the current technology or at least the current century. She's been working hard at it by her accounts.

Ms. Antle was quite clear and forthright in her views, though she was careful, almost cautious in her phrasing.  She said it was “unprecedented” in her 20-plus year career in financial administration to produce a budget for a given period of time without the results of the last budget.  It is “unprecedented” to be spending money in a current period without auditing and closing the prior period.  Without current balance sheets, “it's impossible to say where we are in time and space.”  

It would seem to be spending money without knowing what's in the bank account.  But that's exactly what's happening. “Unprecedented.”

She started at the County in 2019 in the Executive Department and began what she calls the “budget initiative”.  It comprises a set of ideas and hardware that would bring systems into current technology.  We are now four years into the “initiative”.  How is it going?   “It is” says Ms. Antle, “not completed yet. We are having some difficulties getting on the same page.”

She sounded some ominous notes:

  • There are significant “health plan liabilities” for the huge county workforce that are growing, but no one is sure by how much.
  • There are “cost overruns on the jail.”
  • Federal disaster recovery funding has gone missing or is “unaccounted.”
  • The county has lost grant funding because it could not meet basic financial reporting criteria.

It's hard to overstate just how much interference this budget information gap is causing.

We can only surmise Ms. Cubbison's thoughts because she steadfastly ducked all interview requests, and declined comment.  

However, a  form of explanation - a defense of sorts - was offered by her predecessor, the former Mendocino County Auditor Lloyd Weer.  In an exclusive series of interviews stretching over several days, Mr. Weer confirmed that:

  • He served for 40 years in Mendocino county government, beginning with the DOT and ending in September 2021 with his retirement from the county as elected County Auditor.
  • He was one of two County elected leaders to resign their term early and turn their offices over to hand-picked successors (the other is former Sheriff Tom Allman, who resigned only one year into a four-year term in 2019.  Allman’s Undersheriff, Matthew Kendall, assumed the office upon his resignation; Kendall won election to a full term as Sheriff in 2022.)  Interestingly, like Allman, Weer retired “to spend time with grandkids” but almost immediately returned to work, though Weer went back as part-time temp in the Auditor's Office to help bail out his friend.  Allman took up “resident deputy” status in Southern Humboldt County almost immediately upon his departure from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office.
  • He personally identified Chemise Cubbison as a person capable of taking on his job, he selected Cubbison to be his successor, and he assured the Board of Supervisors - over their objections - that she could do the job.
  • While he was Auditor he had no problem in producing the documents in question. (the year-end Fiscal Year audit, and the monthly Balance Sheets) Indeed he said he “never had a problem producing those reports on time” when he had the job; by Labor Day for the FY ending 06/30, and at the end of each month.
  • Chamise Cubbison has not done those jobs on time or at all
  • He is not certain why she is not performing. He said  “If she’s not getting those (jobs) done, there must be a reason.”  Such as?  “I don’t know - could be new or changed responsibilities, or staffing issues.”  But didn’t he have to deal with all those issues as well during his time?  And don’t all the other leaders and department heads have those same challenges? “Yes.  But there must be a reason.”  But he is “not sure and would not want to speak for her.”
  • He still supports her and still believes she can do the job.

Since Cubbison refuses to engage or explain herself to her constituents, and with little apparent leverage to force her to do her job, the bizarre and byzantine methods of the Auditor can only be guessed at.  And a curious waiting game has developed, with everyone knowledgeable about county finances on edge.  Waiting to see when those numbers will be coming.  

Periodically, as if to keep interest high, a teaser emerges from the Auditor's office, like the email last week informing county leadership that the books had finally been closed for FY 2021-22.  

But there was no document attached.

(First in a series of profiles on county leaders and issues)

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“This is weird for L.A.—we’re walking to lunch. . . .”

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MARCO IN THE SNOW Thursday night.…

I went home from work to eat and forgot the music to clean up on my thumb drive, that I usually do while I’m eating, so I watched the first half or so of 2019’s /Apollo 11/, and was just weeping with the feelings of it all. It’s a documentary made of film clips and recorded sounds of the crowd and related events and mission control commands and chatter. I really recommend it. Every once in awhile people call something magnificent and this time they’re right.

Then I went back out to the car in the dark, and in the hour or so I was inside, the driveway was crunchy and the car was covered in snow. Windshield wipers pushed the snow off the window-- it’s very satisfying. Someone had already driven down Albion Ridge Road and made tracks, so I didn’t have any trouble finding where the center of the road was. I was reminded of all the times I used to drive in the snow to go skiing in high school, and how, when everybody else was going four miles an hour, or stopping to put on chains, little Volvo station-wagon-like sports cars were zipping past at regular speed like there was nothing wrong at all.

I remember all the smells: my gas-and-oil-smelling straight-six Nova that didn’t even have rugs on the floor, the snow air, the exhaust of all the other vehicles, the balaclava hat I breathed through and every once in awhile blew my runny nose into anyway.

And then, in the present, I got back to my work place, just a mile, where I can use the high-speed to work on my show all night, and called Juanita on the phone and talked about things, using the palm-size computer I carry in my pocket to talk to her as though she’s here, while I type, thanks to the military internet and space tech (and Nikola Tesla, and Hedy Lamarr).

An amazing world, full of adventure and gadgets and space-faring robots checking out the other planets, and soon real astronauts going there. I’ve got two bananas here, from what country? how far away? and a couple of cough drops left. I’m set for the night.

Marco McClean,

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The Thatcher Hotel, Hopland (via Mike Geniella)

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From: Marty Durlin <>

Date: Tue, Jan 10, 2023 at 4:24 PM

Subject: your departure

To: Alicia Bales <>

CC: Dina Polkinghorne <>


KZYX has benefitted from your knowledge of the county; your efforts to include under-represented voices; your organizational skills, on-air talents and commitment to emergency response.

I have never doubted your brilliance and aptitude for these aspects of the program director position.

But your confrontational outbursts and abrupt withdrawals from station meetings and discussions can no longer be tolerated. At your performance evaluation in October, I asked you to cease this behavior, which is unprofessional and detrimental to all. But less than two weeks ago, you walked out of a meeting with Victor and Sarah, causing irreparable harm.

I am letting you go as of Friday, January 15, and your accrued vacation balance will be included along with your usual direct deposit. KZYX will provide an additional two weeks of pay which you will receive at the end of January. Please leave KZYX keys in my box along with any pertinent login/password information, and remove any personal items from the station.

Marty Durlin, General Manager/Executive Director

KZYX/Mendocino County Public Broadcasting

9300 Highway 128, PO Box 1

Philo CA 95466

707 895 2324

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Following up on our letter to the Governor and Director Elliot of the DCC on Feb 8.

Yesterday evening agenda item 2b was published for Monday’s General Government Committee meeting where the Mendocino Cannabis Department (MCD) proposes redirecting $6.8 Million in direct grant funding currently allocated to licensees to Departmental administrative costs that —were not known to the department when filing the original application. These funds are part of the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program (LJAGP) from the state. On the LJAGP Website it reads: “The County of Mendocino proposed to use grant funds to create direct funding opportunities for commercial cannabis applicants and permit holders.”

For the last 15 months or more, local licensees have been told repeatedly that these funds would be made available to them directly to manage expensive and complicated CEQA compliance to transition from Provisional to Annual Licenses. This new request from MCD comes only after just recently informing licensees that despite the plan laid out on page 23 in the County’s application for LJAGP funds, MCD will NOT be processing operators Appendix G CEQA paperwork.

With only 6 annual cultivation licenses in the county today it’s not looking good for the licensed legacy cannabis operators Mendocino County, which is why we have called for urgent state intervention. MCA’s full sixteen-page letter can be read here:

About MCA: MCA serves and promotes Mendocino County’s world-renowned cannabis cultivators and businesses through sustainable economic development, education and public policy initiatives. Learn more at <>.

I am available to discuss further at your convenience.


Michael Katz, Executive Director

Mendocino Cannabis Alliance 

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As you all know, each year we have a lumberjack show. This year the board has decided to up the ante and offer a competition with a perpetual trophy and bragging rights for the winning University team. This year, Cal Poly Humboldt, Cal Poly SLO and Berkeley will be competing on Saturday, March 17th in the first annual, John Iversen Invitational Lumberjack Competition.

Many of you will remember John Iversen. He was an RRLC director and served as president in 2006. The theme John chose for the 2006 conference was, "Growing Timber Families", this theme not only represented the timber industry, but also John's family. Mary, John's wife was very pregnant during the conference even experiencing contractions during the Ladies Luncheon. Thankfully their son, Alex, held out until the following week to make his appearance.

John was co-owner of Iversen Logging, Inc with his father and brother. he enjoyed fishing, duck hunting, coaching football and Little League, riding dirt bikes with his kids, Alex and Avery and snowboarding. He had a quiet wit about him and was generally a quite man. When he felt the need to speak, people listened, John was well respected. John was dedicated to the timber industry, to the RRLC, his community, and most importantly to his family. He is missed by so many, but his legacy continues. RRLC is honored to offer a lumberjack competition in John's name. 

The Logging Sports teams will be putting on shows Thursday and Friday with the main event happening on Saturday! We hope to see you all there!

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A recent upcoming event has crossed over my desk that I may kick into the garbage can. Apparently a group of people in Fort Bragg want to hold an environmental party having to do with cleaning up the ocean locally. They want headliner music who will come and bring gobs of city people in to donate money for their little project. What I see is a bunch of city folks that have moved into my area that didn't clean up the mess they had in the city and now they're sticking their nose in ours. When they get to the ocean they'll probably go up one of the rivers to find an excuse to shut down the logging operation somewhere. These people know less about the environmental world than the animals do who live there. We need to kick the city people back to where they came from. Tell them, clean up their own mess before they come here and try and save what they think needs to be saved. In our neighborhood we've done well without you. Since the city people came to the country we no longer have the salmon because the dope growers put too much poison into the environment and nobody cleaned up after them. The city people killed all other wildlife, but they will keep the coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions before the ranchers keeping sheep and cattle. City people know nothing about the countryside yet they want to save us all from our own environment. Most city people live in a small box in the city, and everything is done for them. Out here in the country we have been self-sufficient for over 100 years and we will probably make it a few more hundred years if we leave the city folks out with their bad ideas. These are the same individuals that want to turn the sawmill property where the Union lumber company used to be into camping and trails to the beach. This is the same property that used to be owned by the Indians. We should get onto their side and help them take it back. The city people took a perfectly good sawmill and stationed it out of business, the best logging interests around here, and shut them down in favor of their own agenda. These people need to go away; they need to clean up the place they moved from, and I wonder why I'm the only one that gives the information that needs to be done? Maybe it's because what few locals we have are making money off the city folks and selling land to them, and making money for their retirement. I have nothing against building a few houses but I have a lot against people telling other people what they can do and not do in the business world. I involve myself in the timber industry and am proud to be a part of it. Many of the carpetbagging new people that come here to help throw the locals out of the county; we need to chase these people out of our County and bring back our local residents and the sawmills and the logging companies for their good work ethic. We had no drug problems in this county until the city people moved in and brought all their garbage with them. We need to kick him back to the curb where they came from.

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On Thursday, February 23, 2023 at approximately 1:56pm, Ukiah Police personnel received a call from a hysterical female subject requesting an emergency response to the Super 8 Motel (693 S. Orchard Avenue) regarding a physical altercation where an adult victim was unconscious. UPD Officers and Detectives responded to the location Code 3 (Lights and Sirens). Upon arrival a UPD Officer observed a juvenile male (victim) and female walking towards the front office of the motel. 

The Officer observed the juvenile male subject had blood on his clothing and the female juvenile was crying. After speaking with the male juvenile the Officer determined that a physical altercation occurred inside room #116, then continued out into the parking lot area of the motel. The juvenile male further told the Officer that an unknown male subject (later identified as Adam Pearson, 41, of Ukiah), had followed his uncle (adult victim) to the motel room. 


His uncle knocked on the door to room #116 due to not having his room key with him. The male juvenile opened the door and his uncle entered. Shortly after, Pearson entered the room telling his uncle not to talk to the juvenile the way he was, and struck him in the face with his fist. The assault caused the adult victim to fall to the ground. The juvenile came to his uncle’s aid and engaged in a physical altercation with Pearson. After multiple punches were exchanged, Pearson fled the room on a bicycle. 

The adult victim pursued Pearson on foot and fell on the wet parking lot asphalt causing his head to collide with the ground, rendering him unconscious. As the juvenile approached he observed his uncle regain consciousness, then Pearson struck him in the face again with his fist causing his uncle to lose consciousness for a second time. The juvenile engaged in a second physical altercation with Pearson before he fled again on his bicycle. 

The adult victim was transported to the the Ukiah Hospital Emergency Room by his girlfriend, prior to our arrival. He later returned to the Super 8 on foot, disoriented and confused. It was determined by the Officer that he had left the ER prior to being treated. The Officer was concerned by his behavior and the visible injuries he had, that he could possibly have internal bleeding in his brain. An ambulance was requested and the victim was transported back to hospital for treatment. 

The Officer provided a description of the suspect to assisting UPD personnel and requested that they search the area for him. A UPD Sergeant located a subject matching the provided description at Oak Manor Park. He observed the subject had fresh blood on the knuckle portion of his right hand. The subject was known to the Sergeant from prior law enforcement contacts to be on active CDC Parole, and additionally to have a violent history. Pearson was detained in handcuffs without incident. 

The adult victim’s girlfriend had returned to the Super 8 during that time and told the investigating officer that she would be able to identify the suspect if she saw him again. The Officer provided the witness a ride to Oak Manor Park where she positively identified Pearson as the suspect. 

Pearson was interviewed regarding the incident and admitted to his involvement in the assault. He was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and lodged for the following violations. Due to the adult victim losing consciousness and later determined to have a severe concussion, Pearson was charged with battery causing serious bodily injury. Pearson was also charged with child endangerment and a violation of his Parole terms.

As always, UPD’s mission is to make Ukiah as safe a place as possible. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cellphone, and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website:

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Inspired by Brad Wiley’s series of articles with local old-timer Wes Smoot covering the Valley’s historical buildings and houses, Yorkville’s premier local historian, Valerie Hanelt, sent along a copy of the front page of the Mendocino Beacon of October 6, 1877 which includes an unbylined story about a stagecoach ride from Cloverdale to Mendocino, stopping at various towns along the way. Noteworthy is the absence of Philo which apparently didn’t exist as a town in 1877. The writer skips directly from Boonville to Christine (now gone, formerly in the vicinity of Navarro) which was farther to the northwest from where Philo now is. The route is not entirely clear, but it seems like they turned north in the Navarro area, then up to Navarro Ridge, rather than continuing down the Navarro to the Navarro estuary, then turned west to arrive at the Coast at Albion.

A ride with Nelse Norton and George Brereton… Towns on the route: Anderson Valley, Navarro Ridge, Timber, Etc.

Securing a seat on the outside of one of Kennedy & Van Arnam’s coaches with Nelse Norton at Cloverdale, we started in high glee for Mendocino City, or Big River, as it is termed by old residents. The road from Cloverdale to Anderson Valley is mountainous and mostly suitable for stock ranges.

We soon enter Oat Valley, pleasantly situated and occupied by a few farmers. This is a small valley but very picturesque and cannot fail to win the admiration of the passing tourist. Leaving Oat Valley, we soon arrive at the

Mountain House,

A station 8 miles from Cloverdale. At this place Mr. McDonald keeps a tavern for the accommodation of the traveling public. Again we are off for the next station, called


Situated 16 miles from Cloverdale, where I.N. Stapp presides over the hotel and is ready to accommodate parties passing that way. Soon again we speed on at a lively gait up and down hill and soon reach


20 miles from Cloverdale. At this place is a post-office with E.M. Hiatt postmaster. Mr. Hiatt has a neat new building erected and for this part of the country is indeed stylish. The traveler can here find a good meal. Again we start through a little belt of timber but soon enter

Anderson Valley

Which has very good farming land, but is mostly devoted to sheep raising. About this time the stage passengers begin to think of something to eat, and urge Nelse to apply the lash to his fiery steeds. This he good-naturedly does and soon lands us at


Located 31 miles from Cloverdale. At this place is a post office, express office, a store, two blacksmith shops, hotel, saloon, etc.

Messrs. McAbee & MeGimsey conduct the store and do a good business buying and shipping wool, deer skins, etc. 

P. C. Dozier has a law office at this place. We get a good meal at the hotel, change horses and start on our journey greatly refreshed. We are yet in Anderson Valley, which is settled pretty well. Along the wayside may be seen at convenient distances, old style post offices, which are nothing more than boxes nailed up on posts and the mail carrier is generally the post-master. These however, with one exception, have been superseded by post offices of a later fashion. We soon come to a place christened


About 45 miles from Cloverdale. At this place Andrew Guntley keeps a store and manages the post office. The remains of a water flume can be seen which once did service for a flour and sawmill combined, but the mill burned down and the flume went up the spout. There are quite a number of people living here engaged in various callings. After leaving Christine we enter timber lands which we traverse until reaching the north fork of the Navarro river which is the terminus of Nelse Norton’s drive and the end of Anderson valley. At this place is located the 

North Fork House,

50 miles from Cloverdale, kept by Mrs. M.A. Averill, Passengers can rely upon receiving a good meal and a comfortable bed. A feed stable may be found in connection with the house. We pass the night here, eat a hearty breakfast in the morning, change stages and pursue our journey in the charge of George Brereton. We begin the ascent of a mountain and have uphill work of it for five miles through heavily timbered country. The next place of importance is the

Half Way House

50.5 miles from Cloverdale and 17.5 miles from Mendocino. Mrs. Ray keeps the place and the traveler can find meals for himself and hay and grain for his animals. Numbers of men are engaged in this vicinity in getting out railroad ties, tan bark, pickets, etc., which are hauled to Salmon creek and taken on board schooners for San Francisco. The scenery through here is grand, being on a high elevation known as Navarro Ridge, with the Navarro river flowing silently through the canyon thousands of feet below on one side and Salmon Creek on the other.

Shingle Town

Is the next village, where Mitchell & Windsor run a shingle mill. A boarding house, saloon and quite a number of dwellings complete the village. Some of the houses are mostly constructed of shingles. Soon after leaving Shingletown we pass from the dense timber to a more open country.

Navarro Ridge Hotel,

Kept by Haskett Severance, is ten miles from Mendocino. There is a post office, express office; boot and shoe shop, saloon, etc. at this place. Here are also located Navarro mills. At the mouth of the river sloops load lumber for San Francisco: Farther on is the

Albion Hotel

Conducted by Henley Bros., who keep a good house. There is a blacksmith shop at this place—distance from Mendocino, 7 miles.

Salmon Creek

Is the next post office where also is a store, express office, sawmill and railroad. The railroad extends from the mouth of the creek about 8 miles up the canyon to Salmon creek mill and is used in transporting lumber, ties, tanbark, etc. to the vessels at the mouth of the creek.

Little River,

2 miles from Mendocino is reached next. This is quite a village being supplied with several good hotels, stores, blacksmith shops and in fact everything that goes to make a town, This is quite a shipping point. A line of steamers ply between this point and San Francisco, and several stage lines pass through, destined for different points along the coast and interior.


Is finally reached after a pleasant trip of 75 miles from Cloverdale.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, February 24, 2023

Chavez, Flinton, Franco


SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

LUIS FRANCO-SANCHEZ, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery.

Lara, Laws, Menton

KEONO LARA, Fort Bragg. Possession of obscene matter of minor in sexual act, probation revocation.

NICOLE LAWS, Redwood Valley. DUI with blood alcohol over 0.15%, child endangerment.

JOSEPH MENTON, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

Sawboh, Silva, Wagner

AMBER SAWBOH, Myers Flat/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, false ID, probation revocation.

HALEY SILVA, Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, threatening a school or public official, resisting, deterring an officer.

JACK WAGNER, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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Jonah Raskin's item about the Avedon exhibit reminded me... Avedon took my picture, too. When I got the request I was going to pass but my dad had just died and my mother said she would like to have a picture of me by the great Richard Avedon. So I went down to his Park Avenue studio and got shot and interviewed for the book he was planning. Years later I got this letter. 

And declined the invitation. 

Avedon didn't want to take no for an answer and said he'd send me a photo of Bob Dylan that I'd admired when I was at his studio. 

I was going to pass again but this time Marci convinced me to sign the release. Big Dick then sent two photos. One was of Dylan as a mod rocker walking down Fifth Avenue in the early morning with Central Park in BG. The other was of Dylan the folksinger in a Pendleton shirt with his guitar case in the foreground and the East River in BG). I gave that one to a cousin who was a big Dylan fan and the Fifth Ave photo to Jason Benguerel, my stepson who lives in Tokyo and works for Dell. I'm told each print is now worth at least 100 grand. Cousin Eric has his tacked up on a wall. Smart Jason put his in a safe deposit box. 

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LARRY SHEEHY: Just discovered this wonderful Youtube about Ukiah/Mendoland’s own, Womyn’s Movement singer-songwriter Holly Near. 

This episode of "In The Company of Womyn" is a wonderful visit with political activist singer-songwriter and beautiful human being, Holly Near.

This laid back chat is filled with kindness, laughter, political ideas, music, some Holly stories and a deep appreciation of life. It is entertaining and uplifting right until the ending credits. It was definitely a joy to produce this heartfelt episode. Thank you to our friend Holly Near.

Love & Gratitude

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Why do event venues print tickets with such small seat and section numbers? The name of the venue and the ticket handler is in huge print. But reading the seat number in a six-point font is impossible with old eyes. Even ushers have a hard time, switching glasses, looking for flashlights and still having to squint and study, “Is that a three or an eight or a B?”

I asked the Green Music Center to fix that four years ago. The nice man in charge of such things said, “Good idea!” Nothing changed.

I enjoy live music and get out from time to time, but add the ticket reading challenge to traffic and parking challenges, weather and viruses, and it can be too much for this old codger.

Somebody once said, “Know the difference between what you can change, and what you can’t.” So fix the ticket font and tell us old people you like us. We’ll take the bus, if we can read the transfer.

Gregory Sprehn


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Om Namo Narayanaya!

Awoke fitfully this morning, following a ridiculous evening at the Building Bridges Homeless Shelter in Ukiah, California, because some crazy meth asshole set off the fire alarms at 4AM due to smoking in the bathroom, which caused the staff to have to evacuate the entire building, straight out of the assigned beds and escorted outside, and all the way across to the fence, in the snow. Following morning ablutions, checked LOTTO tix at the Nepali owned Express Mart & Gas Station at State and Thomas Streets, (chanted "Om Namah Shivaya" out loud briefly there to everyone’s delight, after noticing the rudraksha beads hanging from the rear view mirror in their vehicle) and then, ambled southward to the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center for a free lunch, courtesy of those dedicated Catholic Worker volunteers. At noon, took a bus ride to the Ukiah Public Library, whereupon I am right this moment on computer #3, "being here now" and blissfully listening to the higher rasa singing of Sanjay Vidyarthi. For your pleasure:

I am ready to go forth and frontline a global spiritual revolution. Contact me if you choose to participate. I need a solid place to go to initially. I am thanking you in advance for your cooperation. 

Craig Louis Stehr

1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482


Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270

Send Money Here:

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1936 Christmas dinner in home of Earl Pauley, near Smithfield, Iowa. Dinner consisted of potatoes, cabbage and pie. (photographer Lee Russell)

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MEMO OF THE AIR: Live from Franklin St. all night Friday night!

Deadline to email your writing for tonight’s (Friday night’s) MOTA show is about 6pm. Or send it whenever it’s done and I’ll read it on the radio next week.

I’m in the 325 N. Franklin studio (next to the Tip Top bar) tonight. To call and read your work in your own voice, the number is 707-962-3022. If you want to come in and do it in person, that’s okay, Be advised that I’m not putting on a mask until you show up, and you have to wear one the whole time, and then /I/ have to keep mine on for a few hours after you leave. So if it has to be in person, that’s okay, but I’d prefer that you 1. email your story, or 2. call and read your story over the phone. Unless you bring an instrument and busk on the radio for awhile. That makes it okay with me. Anyway, if you just naturally swear in conversation or writing or singing, wait till after 10pm, so not to agitate the weasels. If the power fails again, of course, all bets are off; use your best judgment, or your worst, and try to amuse yourself.

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via Also the schedule is there for KNYO’s many other even more terrific shows.

As always, at you’ll find some educational tidbits to fiddle with until showtime, or any time, such as:

Gear down. Flaps down. Touch. Reverse thrust. Engines off.

Memories. If you like your front teeth, your nuts and your arm bones intact, you have to keep your feet on the pedals and hit the ground with the back wheel first, not both at once, and certainly not the front first. In those days there were /so many kids everywhere/ that your chance of surviving this behavior was actually pretty good, because as soon as someone else broke his arm or landed on his little sister and cracked her skull that was the end of the game for a few weeks until everybody forgot and it started all over again.

And how to knock it off, already, no matter what it is.

Marco McClean,

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My Leftist friends aren’t saying it, out loud at least, but you’d better believe they’re thinking it. They know they went along with something very, very bad. They went along because they were smarter than their idiot brethren who live in the country, work real jobs, still go to church on Sunday, understand that there are only two genders, and generally don’t pretend to be smarter than anyone else. Giving the keys to the kingdom to a bunch of broken, moonbat, gender-confused psychopaths (like that grand jury nutjob chick) is a recipe for national suicide. That and Trump, of course. Everything these morons do, in the end, is about the orange man who continues to live rent free in what’s left of their pharma-destroyed, hollowed-out brains.

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Meg Bernhard

I learned of the cloud seeders in Red Rock Canyon from a friend’s husband. It was late autumn in Beatty, Nevada, a windswept town two hours north of Las Vegas, and we’d just returned from a hike in Death Valley. ‘Have you heard of these people trying to manufacture clouds in Red Rock?’ he asked me. He was skeptical, and slightly horrified. Their intention, he said, was to play nature to relieve the area’s severe drought.

The program to ‘Make it Rain’ was launched by a non-profit group called Save Red Rock, formed in 2001 to protect the canyon from exploitation. They aren’t actually trying to manufacture clouds; rather, with scientists at the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, they’re introducing ice-forming dust into existing clouds to encourage or increase precipitation. Cloud seeding sounds whimsical, but it speaks to the desperation of living in the American Southwest, which has suffered a relentless megadrought since 2000.

The Colorado River, which provides water to millions of people in seven American states, the lands of more than twenty Indigenous communities, and much of northwestern Mexico, is in crisis. Its largest reservoir, Lake Mead, holds less than a third of its capacity and may be approaching ‘dead pool’, the level at which water can no longer flow downstream from the Hoover Dam. The lake has turned into an apocalyptic symbol of the crisis: human remains have appeared as the water recedes, and a ‘bathtub ring’ of paler rock that used to be submerged is visible from afar.

Three hundred miles to the northeast, Utah’s Great Salt Lake has lost 73 per cent of its water since 1850. Robert Smithson’s earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970), a 500-metre coil of black basalt built into what was once lakebed, used to be entirely submerged. Today it is fully visible, and water is unlikely to reach the jetty ever again. Soil across the Southwest has dried out, leading to increasingly frequent and severe dust storms. Creosote, one of North America’s most drought-resistant plants, is dying in Death Valley.

Indigenous groups, such as the Southern Paiute and the Mojave, have lived in the arid Southwest for thousands of years, but it was the creation of Lake Mead in the 1930s that made mass development and settlement possible.

I was born in a region of southern California that depends on the Colorado River five years before the megadrought began. I know to turn off the tap between dishes and to take showers that last five minutes or less. Growing up, we talked about ‘going to the snow’ when we wanted to visit the mountains; snow rarely came to us, low in the Temecula Valley, and after a while it wasn’t guaranteed in the mountains either.

Rainfall was a special event. We’d sprint outside during downpours, and sometimes play hide and seek under the dripping canopies of our neighbor’s oak trees. After the rain, frogs would sing and the scrubby brown hills would burst into green and orange, blooming with poppies. Walking down the street I had to be careful not to crunch on a snail’s shell. These were rare delights. More common was the thick heat rising from asphalt on summer days, the scent of wildfire smoke blowing in with the Santa Ana winds.

In Las Vegas, where I moved around a year and a half ago, the heat and drought are more extreme than what I experienced growing up. My lips are always chapped, my hair is always static, and in the winter my hands crack and bleed. The average temperature in August is over 40°C. I once walked for twenty minutes down a busy road in the heat and had to lie down for the rest of the day. During dust storms, the sky dims to a jaundice yellow and loose dirt presses in through the cracks under windows and doors. Humidity in the summer drops below 20 per cent, dry enough to make your throat sore.

In June 2021, the state of Nevada passed a law banning ‘non-functional turf’ in the city of Las Vegas — the first legislation of its kind in the United States. Last summer county officials banned swimming pools bigger than sixty square meters on residential properties. Southern Nevada gets 90 per cent of its water from Lake Mead and these new laws are an acknowledgment that our current levels of consumption cannot continue. With the non-native grass and greenery growing in the city’s wealthier subdivisions and all around the Las Vegas Strip, we are fooling ourselves into forgetfulness. We forget we live in America’s driest desert.

Under the new law, ‘non-functional turf’ includes strips outside office buildings and in roadway medians, but lawns at single family residences are exempt. There’s one in front of the house I’m renting with two friends. The city has imposed watering restrictions, however, punishable by hefty fines. During the winter, we’re allowed to water only one day a week, and during the summer, only between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. Sprinklers are prohibited on Sundays all year round. I turned our automatic sprinklers off after it rained in mid-October and never turned them back on. The lawn went yellow and brown, as it should be.

The US Drought Monitor publishes a color-coded map every Thursday: light orange represents ‘moderate drought’, tangerine is for ‘severe’, and bright red is for ‘extreme’. Maroon, for ‘exceptional drought’, has disappeared from the California and Nevada maps following heavy winter rains. But this volume of rain is not necessarily welcome. Prolonged drought makes it more difficult for soil to absorb water, and the water instead slides off the ground’s surface. In January, much of California was hit by several terrible storms and atmospheric rivers that resulted in flooding and mudslides, killing at least twenty people. Newspaper headlines asked if the biblical rains might relieve the drought in the long-term, but the science is clear: even rivers in the sky are not enough.

Last summer was Nevada’s wettest monsoon season in a decade. I was driving on the freeway one July evening, the first of the monsoon nights, when the sky opened. By the time I pulled off ten minutes later, the road beneath an underpass had turned into a pond, stranding one driver in their car and leaving the rest of us to make illegal U-turns over the median. The drive home was risky; at every traffic light a new river appeared, but I crept through without hydroplaning. Only later did I remember the National Weather Service guidance on flash flooding: ‘Turn around, don’t drown.’ From the backyard, for hours, I watched lightning split the sky, wind whip the telephone wires and water thrash onto the dry, hard ground. And still, it is not enough.

Rains this winter have been lighter, and quicker, but more frequent than in recent memory. A storm this week turned the sky milky with dust and snow clouds, and officials in southern California issued a rare blizzard warning for mountain passes. Water in the desert is always remarkable, so a few days after a storm in January, a friend and I went hiking up a box canyon whose river had reappeared after a dry spell. Clear water flowed below oak and manzanita, and we scrambled up boulders to avoid getting our feet too wet. At the canyon’s back wall, a waterfall gushed over slick gray rock. It was damp and shady and cool, and for a few hours I thought mostly of water, little of drought. I read later that Save Red Rock had spent the night of the storm seeding clouds.

(London Review of Books)

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One year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Moscow's forces hit targets across Ukraine.

Residents in the city of Kherson are without heating due to shelling, according to local officials.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said 2023 will be the year of Ukraine's victory, and he told troops: "You will decide whether Ukraine is going to exist."

US President Biden, asked about Kyiv's plea for fighter jets, said Ukraine "doesn't need F-16s now." Putin's power play: Inside Russia’s plot to plunge Ukraine into darkness, and how Ukrainians have survived.

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THERE ACTUALLY ARE no good reasons for what we are doing in Ukraine, only bad reasons. Mainly, stoking the war there diverts Americans attention from our own problems, which is to say the titanic failures of America’s political establishment. The USA is falling apart from a combination of mismanagement, malice, and negligence. Our economy is a tottering scaffold of Ponzi schemes. Our institutions are wrecked. The government lies about everything it does. The news industry ratifies all the lying. Our schoolchildren can’t read or add up a column of numbers. Our food is slow-acting poison. Our medical-pharma matrix has just completed the systematic murder and maiming of millions. Our culture has been reduced to a drag queen twerk-fest. Our once-beautiful New World landscape is a demolition derby. Name something that hasn’t been debauched, perverted, degenerated, or flat-out destroyed. 

— James Kunstler

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A great gray owl perches on a dead tree in a snowy taiga forest near Kuusamo, in northern Finland (Karl Ander Adami)


  1. izzy February 25, 2023

    To give it a little sharper focus, the “On-Line Comment of the Day” appeared in Kunstler’s weekly offering, in reference to the still-ongoing Covid debacle. And the NYT just published a piece about the futile uselessness of the draconian mask mandate. Is the con slowly unraveling?

    • George Hollister February 25, 2023

      The comment is about people in power who believe in the exclusive perfection of their own knowledge, and wisdom. Anytime people give absolute power to others, as we Americans have, this mindset is what emerges with the powerful. We see it throughout history. I know this ruffles the feathers of socialists/fascists but the mindset is inherent to what they are advocating for, are in support of, and what we are experiencing.

      • Bruce McEwen February 25, 2023

        “O would some people in power
        The app give (or sell) us
        To see ourselves as our search engines see us…”

        — Rabbie Burns

        An extravagant
        Invitation, this new snow,
        To write a haiku


    • Gary Smith February 25, 2023

      Wondering what he means by “our culture”. Was there ever a culture in the US? I think of shooting buffalo and pigeons from moving trains. What else we got? Football?

      • George Hollister February 25, 2023

        Look where we were in 1776, and where we are now. Or do I really need to say that?

      • k h February 25, 2023

        Great observation

  2. gupatii February 25, 2023

    At least you guys have a resident County Auditor. Our elected Auditor has decided to retain her elected position AND keep working as a full-time Administrative Asst. (Ass) for a town, 50 miles away, in an adjacent county. .Gov work is great if you can get it…

  3. George Hollister February 25, 2023


    by Andrew Scully

    Mendocino County budgeting is focused specifically on grant funding. As long as there is more that comes in than goes out, all is good. Tax funding is close behind, with funding from pot being the latest biggest prize, and failure.

  4. k h February 25, 2023

    I have no idea what is taking Ms Cubbison so long to get her work sorted out. Don’t know her and can’t speak for her work ethic.

    But Andrew Scully is remiss is failing to note that last year the Board of Supervisors forced the Assessor-Clerk’s office into an unwanted consolidation with another completely separate and different department, the Treasurer-Tax Collector, against the advice of all the individuals and experts from the departments involved, at the same time that these departments were dealing with a major software change affecting property tax assessments.

    • Bruce Anderson February 25, 2023

      Exactly, KH, and for Antle, Williams et al to denounce Cubbison ignores the fact you point out, that against all sensible advice the Supervisors combined two large functions into one, leaving Ms. Cubbison scrambling for staff while she tried to sort out new responsibilities. The Supes have $1.7 mil on their consent agenda this week. And they recently signed off on a quarter-mil for a two-day emergency bridge. If they’re so concerned about the county budget maybe they should cut back their own profligate spending. My colleague, The Major, points up on a weekly basis that the prob isn’t with Ms. Cubbison, it’s with the Supervisors, not mentioning that Antle’s predecessor left a helluva mess behind. It annoys me no end to see Ms. Cubbison constantly sniped at and undermined by the people above her and Weer knows that.

      • Stephen Rosenthal February 25, 2023


  5. Kirk Vodopals February 25, 2023

    As much as it irks me…. I agree with Kunstlers comments today

  6. Kirk Vodopals February 25, 2023

    Re: Weed permits…..
    The circus continues. Maybe Mr. Shields can chime in on this one:
    Is it true in Mendocino County that you have to complete a certified pump test of your well if you plan to build an accessory dwelling unit or minor subdivision, but, if ya wanna get a weed permit, no such test is required?
    Logic left the discussion in a water truck.

    • peter boudoures February 25, 2023

      If you’re planning on building an apartment obviously you should be required to test the water. If the water is for ag it isn’t a safety issue just a boron and ph issue.

  7. k h February 25, 2023

    This is from Slate this week:

    It is shallow, but wide-angle view of the subject we keep discussing: government ineptitude and mismanagement. In the effort to shrink government, we have eliminated staff that had incredible institutional knowledge on how to build things, and ended up with a system where everything is run by consultants and contractors.

    As an example of this, read any County Notes column where contracts are given out on the consent calendar to outside consultants.

    A more topical example – right now, Highway 101 is still closed north of Leggett while a contractor does an assessment on the various conditions affecting the road. It has been closed since Thursday, Feb 23.

    • George Hollister February 25, 2023

      “In the effort to shrink government, we have eliminated staff that had incredible institutional knowledge on how to build things, and ended up with a system where everything is run by consultants and contractors.”

      We have a government that is run by people who are there for themselves, instead of the citizens they are supposed to serve. So what is viewed to outsiders as ineptness, is likely viewed by those in charge as unimportant. We also have a popular political party who sells government’s false narratives, and media who willingly buys it. There is hope though. Mendocino County has a good mayor in Fort Bragg, and a good Sheriff.

      • Stephen Rosenthal February 25, 2023

        And a good Police Chief in Fort Bragg.

  8. Michael Geniella February 25, 2023

    Mind-boggling that Mr. Kunstler ignores the menace of two autocratic superpowers, and Moscow’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. ‘Only bad reasons’ for the U.S. to rally a defense? Hardly.
    Also, I agree with the Editor’s take on the county budget and Ms. Cubbison’s beleaguered office.
    Lastly, DA Dave doesn’t deign to speak to anyone other than his dwindling number of loyalists.

  9. Stephen Rosenthal February 25, 2023

    Not that it will do any good, but I hope Gail Dammuller sends her comments to the “Great” Redwood Trail’s three biggest cheerleaders: Mike McGuire, Maureen Mulheren and Marie Rodin.

    • Mike J February 25, 2023

      I just checked and filmed it. Which I will post shortly. I got closeups of existing graffiti and the small amount of Doolan Creek trash,. Orr Creek pristine and clean. One tent just north of Talmage.
      The lady was grossly exaggerating, as you will see when my two parter clips are up.
      Part One

        • Stephen Rosenthal February 25, 2023

          You’re right – it doesn’t look too bad. But as a woman, maybe Ms. Dammuller saw it from a different perspective and encountered something or someone that felt threatening. The street in part 2 (:12-:22) looks like a sinkhole waiting to happen.

          • Mike J February 25, 2023

            There’s a clear depression in the road there!

            • Lazarus February 25, 2023

              Thanks for the trip down the trail. Although, it seems weird to have a “Redwood Trail” on asphalt in Ukiah. I wonder where the “Trail” will go through Willits, Laytonville, etc.?

              • Mike J February 25, 2023

                Wherever the rail tracks are is where the trail goes.,.or won’t go in some Humboldt/Eel impossible stretches…
                The trail is the replacement for the rail tracks. So far, in town, it is adjacent to the tracks. The next stretch work was recently put out to bid. That would be from Commerce to Norgard where all the track would begin to start being more rural. Just off Norgard there is a no trespassing reference with details for why the notice: they want to avoid damage prior to work on the trail there. That’s a popular area for past camping and had many major cleanups and a big fire once.

                BTW, after trail goes thru Rivino, I see a major concert/dining venue there like at Konocti. And recreation spots beyond, towards Hopland.

                I also see in my clean crystal ball a one-lane-wide electric carriage shuttle service….servicing the trail where these biz spots are.

    • Mike J February 25, 2023

      Sending her comments to others would backfire as she is not even close to being accurate.

      • Stephen Rosenthal February 26, 2023

        I showed your videos to a woman last night and, interestingly but not surprising (at least to me), she had a similar reaction to the trail as did Ms. Dammuller. She spotted a lot more graffiti than I did on first viewing, as well as trash and the generally unappealing scenery. I know a lot of the graffiti is on private property but nevertheless it’s ugly and there for all to see. She said she would not walk the trail alone. Like I noted earlier, different perspectives.

        What with the $$$ being spent on this “great” trail to nowhere, I stand by my assertion that Ms. Dammuller should bring these issues to those promoting it, even though I doubt it will result in any meaningful action. In its current state, it hardly represents a tourist attraction in my mind.

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