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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, March 11, 2023

Wet Ahead | Woody Glen | AVUSD News | Greenwood Potluck | Boonville Water | Celebrating Sally | Ecstatic Dance | Charging Stations | Vocal Ensemble | Ted Disappointing | Tire Dump | Fox Mendo | County Notes | Silent DA | New Chief | Bank Stock | Ed Notes | Film Tricks | Nevedal Questions | 1865 Bridge | SNWMF Lineup | Earthworks | Snowbound | Yesterday's Catch | School Violence | Nouveau Poor | Ukiah Drifter | Woodstove | Flood Risk | Social Science | Chronicle Decline | Cross Jesus | Marco Radio | Purdy Repair | Basement Wish | Dems Lost | Guv Drag | Inverted Reality | Black Thoughts | Strong Enough | Ukraine | Art Appreciation | Sy & Dan | Snowy Owl

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LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN will fill in from the south throughout the day along a warm front. Snow levels will be quickly rising throughout the day, with only isolated parts of Northern Trinity county receiving light snow amounts. More rain and increasing southerly winds will carry through the weekend before an atmospheric river storm system brings areas of heavy rainfall, minor flooding and gusty winds Monday through Tuesday. Rainfall totals over the weekend, and the rain forecast on Tuesday will need to be closely watched regarding the flood risk. (NWS)

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Woody Glen Lane off Rt 253 (Jeff Goll)

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Dear Anderson Valley Community,

Let me tell you what happened today….

Well, first of all, the sun was out. We all sure needed that. I don’t know about you, but the blue sky and backdrop of snow capped mountains and the bright light were good things.

That atmosphere moved into the classrooms today. I know in some districts, professional development days are unstructured teacher work time. That doesn’t happen in Anderson Valley. If we have a day where your kids don’t come to school, it means that teachers are getting down to business to make school a better place for your kids. That’s what happened today.

At the elementary school, there was a long and deep discussion about ACES. If you are not familiar with that, it stands for Adverse Childhood Experience Scores. Take the test. See where you rank. I had a hard childhood. My score is high. Understanding these early events and how it shapes behavior and understanding behavior is a real gateway to figuring out how to support, nurture, and grow a kid. This is fundamental work. If kids are acting out, they can’t access instruction. In order to help a kid, you need to know their context and why.

At the Junior/Senior High today, I cried. I saw a room full of educators that were passionately “IN” about a school-wide project based learning opportunity framed with the question, “Who Is Anderson Valley”. Commencing next year, all teachers at the school will be leading a project-based learning experience related to that theme that will culminate in a series of events prior to/or at the Redwood Classic that defines who kids, staff, and community are. It was amazing to watch this cohesion and excitement, and I am grateful.

Did we have a little fun too? Yes, Nate Hill whipped the high school staff into a crazy hybrid of ultimate frisbee with a ball that left me breathless (I am too old for this against the competitive young ones!). But it was a good day.

In other district news, we have made an offer for a district painter to start to refresh our buildings. I am working with Don Alameda, our architect, on the crazy requirements to get our hardship applications funded. Parent/guardians and community members participated in the Bond Oversight committee and the septic project has been approved and will go to bid soon.

Ms. Thomas-Swett drove hundreds of miles to attend a rural math conference to learn more about how to support our kids. That’s time away from her loved ones to invest in your loved ones.

Ali Cook finalized the amazing trip to Puerto Rico for kids and so many generous people have stepped up with donations to make it happen. Our behind the wheel driving program is underway for drivers ed! Yahoo!

Martha Crawford is redesigning our logo and introducing an Otomi Mural Project. High school welding is exploding under the leadership of Steve Rhoades and David Ballantine. The high school staff is making some transformative changes related to technology next year, and more news will be forthcoming.

New hires were made across the district including two fundamental elementary positions and a high school position. 

Bottom line…. Do you see what is happening in this district? I am proud of this staff and their efforts and collaboration. Do we have room to grow with parent/guardian/community partners? Yes…Are we on our way? Yes…

Don’t forget the time change…One hour forward. That is so brutal…

Have a happy weekend.

Sincerely yours,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What

Cell: 707-684-1017

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BOONVILLE WATER PROJECT: District Answers Public Meeting Questions

On March 7th the AV Community Services District held a public information meeting for the parcel owners who live within the planned Drinking Water district. The well-attended meeting (in person and virtual) addressed the questions and answers below. 

The current planning phase involves communicating with every parcel owner within the boundary to survey interest in signing up for Drinking Water. Once we have the data about how many owners intend to hook-up, it will be possible to calculate actual rates. This process is important and might take a couple of months as we need to touch base with every parcel owner. Clearly, the more hook-ups we have, the lower the rates. 

The State Water Board Department of Financial Assistance has committed approximately $19 Million for the Drinking Water project and approximately $17 Million for the Sewer project. The Sewer project will be heading into its public information phase by mid- summer. The boundary maps are posted outside the Fire Station for reference for everyone.

Public Wells

Q: How was a sufficient water supply identified?

Wells were identified for potential acquisition using Well Completion Reports filed with the County and State. Owners interested in supporting the project also reached out to the District.

Q: How many wells will the system require? How many new wells?

The total number of wells required to supply the system will depend on participation level in the project, and the yield of wells to be constructed. Total number of wells could range from 10 to 15 with 2 to 5 being new ones. Well construction and testing will occur at the front end of the construction project.

Q: Will my private well production be affected by the municipal well?

Most existing private wells will not be affected by the public wells due to their distance therefrom. Wells near the public wells may be affected due to localized lowering of the water table.

Q: Will there be enough water during droughts?

The public water system would be more resilient to a drought than individual private wells. While a drought would impact all wells throughout the valley, the District would be able to proactively respond to changes in the water table because the public well water levels will be continuously monitored whereas private wells are not.

Q: Will there be adequate water to allow us to remodel and add ADUs (granny units)? Will there be adequate water to allow us to rebuild the burned buildings and replace abandoned buildings?

State regulations allow supply to be acquired and/or constructed necessary to serve existing development (structures), whether occupied or currently vacant, with a 10% allowance for future development. Future development would include accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Note: The projected water demand for the service area has been estimated using usage data from similar communities. Several years of water system operation will be required before actual water demand is known.

Q: What about if we remodel and are required to install sprinkler systems?

Water services will be sized to accommodate the installation of residential sprinklers.

Private Wells

Q: Can I continue to use my own well?

The District has no plans to prohibit continuing use of private wells within the service area provided that an approved backflow device is installed to protect the public water system from potential cross contamination.

Q: Is my well going to be regulated and will the construction of new private wells be prohibited?

The District does not intend to regulate existing private wells and no decision has been made regarding prohibiting the construction of new private wells within the water system service area.

Power Outages

Q: How does the water system deal with power outages?

Water service during short-term outages will be maintained by deliveries from storage. To mitigate a long-term outage and ensure water service continues uninterrupted, the largest production and treatment site will be equipped with a fixed generator. All other sites will be equipped with a generator connection. The District will have at least one portable generator on hand that can be utilized where needed.

Fire Suppression

Q: How is he fire hydrant system designed?

Fire hydrants will generally be spaced 500 feet apart and be capable of delivering at least 1,000 gallons per minute.

Q: Will there be enough pressure to use hydrants if there is no power?

Hydrant pressure is maintained by the water level in the storage tanks and will not be impacted by a power outage.

Q: Will having a hydrant near my home help reduce my homeowners’ insurance rate?

After the water system is completed, the fire coverage portion of homeowners’ insurance bills should cost less for properties in the water service.

Q: If a fire occurs at my home and a hydrant is used to fight it, will I be charged?

Owners will not be charged for water used from a fire hydrant to suppress a fire on their property. Water flowing through a building sprinkler system to suppress a fire will be charged at the then current usage rate.

Q: Could fighting fire drain the system dry?

Theoretically yes, the water system could be drained during a wildfire event. However, system storage will be monitored continuously so that appropriate storage can be retained for domestic purposes. System storage will include a 180,000-gallon fire storage component, a volume necessary for the largest buildings in the service area.

Water Treatment

Q: How is the water treated?

All water will be disinfected by the addition of a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite. The target chlorine residual will be 1 part per million or less. When excess concentrations of minerals (iron and manganese) are present in the groundwater, direct filtration using a specialized media will be employed. This process may also involve the addition of sodium hypochlorite. Water produced from wells having a concrete seal extending less than 50 feet below the ground surface may be required to undergo further filtration. When required, additional filtration will be accomplished using a State-approved cartridge filtration system. No chemical additions are associated with this process.

Q: What chemicals are used?

The only chemical anticipated to be used is sodium hypochlorite.

Rates and Charges

Q: How will I be charged?

While water rates have yet to be established, it is anticipated that water rates will consist of a base charge and a usage rate that will be applied to the volume of water used during the billing period.

Q: Can you give us an idea of an approximate bill for a typical single-family residence?

Based on participation in the project, the average monthly bill for a typical residential connection is currently projected to be $80 to $90 per month in today’s dollars. The base rate for a residential customer that does not use any water is anticipated to range between $60 and $70 per month depending on the participation level in the project, and the water rate structure selected by the District.

Q: Is there any financial assistance for low-income households or seniors?

The District has not yet discussed establishing financial assistance programs for any class of users.

Q: What if I do not want to hook up now?

Property owners that choose to connect to the water system after it has been completed will be subject to fees and costs that project participants would not. The property owner would be responsible for a District-established connection fee, County or State encroachment permit fees, the cost of the public water service lateral and meter, and downstream private plumbing from the meter to the structure(s).

Q: What will it cost to hook up later? How did you arrive at the cost to hook up later?

The District will need to establish a connection fee. It is anticipated the connection fee will be equivalent to the property owner’s pro rata share of the costs to plan, design, and construct the supply, treatment, and storage facilities. Based on current project cost estimates, the connection fee would be approximately $30,000 for a single-family residential parcel.


Q: Who oversees the system? Who does the billing?

The CSD Board of Directors will be responsible for administration of the water system, including billing.

Q: What are the ongoing operational responsibilities?

Ongoing operations include checking that supply and treatment facilities are functioning properly, verifying active supply sources are satisfying demands and maintaining proper storage, and monitoring well yields and operating water levels. 

Q: How does the Water District administrators plan for future costs/replacements?

The District will be presented with rate structure options that generate funds annually designated for future repairs and replacements.

Q: Will a tech come read my meter?

An automated metering system will be installed and utilized by the District. Meter readings will be transmitted to a cloud server and then on to the District. A tech will only be dispatched to read a meter should there be a problem with the communications between the meter and the office or to verify a reading.

Q: Will the District carry liability insurance on the water system for unexpected accidents or spills/pollution?

The District will carry a broad range of insurance coverages including liability insurance. Water systems operation will not involve any toxic substances.

Mendocino Planning and Building

Q: Does having a Municipal Drinking Water system create more opportunities for me to develop my parcel?

For some zoning classifications, a municipal water system reduces the minimum lot size required for development. Also, abandonment of an onsite well may also increase the area that could be used for onsite wastewater disposal thereby facilitating development.

Q: Will my property taxes go up if I am on the municipal system?

Properties are not subject to a reassessment following connection to the water system.

Q: Will adding an ADU require a new water service, or can it be connected to the main home’s service?

ADA units can be added to existing residential properties provided that historical water demands indicate that the existing meter size will be adequate.

Existing Public Water Systems

Q: I have a restaurant, clinic, school, tasting room, etc., and I am regulated and certified by the District Water Board, and I must have my water tested monthly… How will I be affected by being on a municipal system?

After a business that is operating a public water system is connected to the municipal water system, their public water system no longer exists.

Q: Will my property taxes go up if I am on the municipal system?

Property taxes will not change due to connection to a municipal water system.


Q: If all major costs for the system and private laterals are being funded by the State, what will be my out-of-pocket expenses? As a private parcel owner? As a non-profit? As a business?

Residential, non-profit, and institutional property owners will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Businesses will be responsible for the installation of the private lateral from the meter to the structure(s).

The service area includes properties developed with both commercial and residential structures. Guidance regarding who will be responsible for the private lateral costs in this circumstance has not yet been provided by the State.


Q: Will the lateral come only to the property line?

The publicly owned water service lateral will extend from the distribution main to the parcel property line.

Q: Will the property owner be responsible for any cost to hook up water to residence?

As previously indicated, residential, non-profit, and institutional property owners will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses including the cost of the private plumbing between the meter and the structure(s). Businesses will be responsible for the installation of their private plumbing between the meter and the structure(s).

Q: How will the laterals be planned on my parcel? Who will decide where laterals will be routed?

Property owners will be contacted during the design phase by a representative of the engineering company. An onsite meeting will be scheduled so that the property owner can communicate their preferred route of the onsite private plumbing. The lateral route will be decided by the District following receipt of input from the property owner. 

Q: How will trenches be dug?

Trenching on private property will be accomplished by whatever means appropriate; hand digging to mechanical equipment.

Q: Who will be responsible for repairing or replacing disturbed landscaping, driveways, sidewalks, and existing plumbing and electrical lines that will be encountered by trenching?

Restoration of existing utilities, hardscape (driveways, walkways, etc.), and landscaping will be a project responsibility. Piping routes will be selected that minimize restoration requirements, particularly with respect to landscaping.

Q: If I have multiple buildings, will a lateral run to each building?

Private piping installed on each property may not necessarily extend to each building. If all onsite structures can be served via a connection to existing onsite plumbing, that approach will be given consideration.

Q: Can I have multiple meters so there is one for each building?

The District will install a single meter at each property. If desired, the property owner may install multiple downstream meters for segregation of costs.

Empty lots (lots with no prior history of constructed facility)

Q: Can I have a water meter installed at my unimproved parcel so I can develop it later? If a property within the system does not have a residence, e.g., bare lot or hangar/barn only, does it qualify for an initial State funded (no cost to owner) hookup to the water system?

Water services will only be installed to developed properties. Should the owner of a vacant property desire to have a meter installed as part of the project, the owner will need to inform the District of their desire and pay for its installation outside the project construction contract. Prior to activation of the water service, the owner will need to pay all applicable fees (including a connection fee) and request that the District install a meter in the meter box.


Q: When will construction start, how long will it take and when do you estimate we will be able to have the system up and running?

Construction will commence no sooner than 2026 and take two full construction seasons to complete and fully activate.

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY LIBRARY is holding a series of farm-to-table events celebrating the life of local chef Sally Schmitt now through May.

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ECSTATIC DANCE with DJ Jhevah, Sat. March 11, 7 pm

Sea Star Studio, 579 S. Franklin St., Fort Bragg

This is a drug and alcohol free event. Sliding scale donation $10-$20

We will come together in community to dance our intentions and prayers, please bring an object for our community altar. For more info contact Chris Skyhawk 707-409-4789 or 

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MCOG INVITES COMMUNITY INPUT On Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations From Redwood Valley To Hopland

The Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) is partnering with ChargePoint, a recipient of a "Rural Electric Vehicle" grant from the California Energy Commission, in soliciting community input on preferred electric vehicle (EV) charging sites to be installed in the greater Ukiah/Redwood Valley/Hopland area.

The project includes installation of 25 EV chargers dispersed at five separate sites, including a fast-charging hub in central Ukiah, plus four additional sites to be located in the project area. Each of the five charging sites will include approximately five chargers.

MCOG is seeking input from countywide residents on where these chargers should be placed, since many households work, shop, or attend school in the greater Ukiah area. Virtual community and stakeholder workshops were held in February, and the online survey to submit comments on preferred charging station locations remains open until March 15.

Please visit the MCOG website at to take the survey. Comments may also be mailed to the MCOG office at 525 S. Main Street, Suite G; Ukiah, CA 95482, or emailed to

For further information, contact Loretta Ellard at or 707-234-3434.

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The award-winning vocal ensemble Solstice has enthralled Bay Area audiences with their technically precise and passionate treatment of music for women’s voices since 1996. With a repertoire spanning centuries, crossing musical and geographical boundaries, Solstice shares the music they love and their joy in singing together in an intimate concert that makes use of the hall's wonderful acoustics.

Sunday, March 19, 3pm, Mendocino Presbyterian Church

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I am so shocked by Ted’s bureaucratic bs reply regarding the absolute emergency that occurred in Laytonville !!

If he and his family were stuck in a town without many resources , would he want to stay in his car overnight? And there was a trailer on the property with resources that county didn’t allow to be opened?

Thankfully people made sacrifices to help these stranded people!! They deserve access to those resources in the future without following bureaucratic bs to access in an emergency!

Ted, maybe you should request Caltrans to air drop cots, blankets and food into Laytonville! After all, you referenced them dropping hay!!

Yet another disappointment!

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RECYCLE TIRES FOR FREE in Ukiah, March 18, 2023

Caltrans, City of Ukiah, and Mendocino County announced a free large item Dump Day event in Ukiah as part of Clean California Community Days — Spring Into Action! This Dump Day event is part of Governor Newsom’s $1.2 billion Clean California initiative which makes this event and other litter prevention and educational events occurring throughout the state possible. 

Residents are invited to properly dispose of their unwanted tires for recycling. Who: Ukiah-area residents What: Tires Only When: Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., or until capacity is reached Where: Drop off items on Airport Road, Ukiah. Enter Airport Park Blvd., just past Costco, off Talmage Road.

This Dump Day collection is limited to tires. Residents can dispose of passenger car and light truck tires (limit 9 per load). No business waste is accepted. Clean California Dump Days are open to all residents in the area. Please remember to secure your load. This is event is part of Clean California Community Days — Spring Into Action! Community Days is a statewide 11-day volunteer service event and celebration. March 17 — 27, we invite you to join us in inspiring actionable change in your community. Visit to learn more and join the movement for a Clean California for all! Dump Day events are organized to further the Department’s goal of keeping California highways and waterways litter-free as part of the Clean California Initiative. Visit to learn more about how Clean California is transforming communities with Dump Day events to keep trash from reaching our roads and waterways. For general questions about this event, please contact Ryan Maidrand at (707) 498-5174. Keep it Clean, California!

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IN LATE FEBRUARY we made a public records request to the County’s Counsel’s office for:

“Copies of all invoices and payment records associated with case number 21cv00561, Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall v. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Also, from which budget line item were payments paid out of?”

Our first response from Deputy Counsel Charlotte Scott said that they needed an additional ten days and would respond by March 10. 

On March 10 Ms. Scott responded again:

“I am writing in response to your Public Records Act request seeking ‘invoices and payment records associated with case number 21cv00561, Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall v. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.’ The County will produce invoices and payment records for the defense of the litigation, except for the portions of the invoices which may be privileged attorney-client communication or attorney-work product because they provide insight into litigation strategy or legal consultation. (Los Angeles County Bd. of Supervisors v. Superior Court (2016) 2 Cal.5th 282, 297-300; County of Los Angeles Bd. of Supervisors v. Superior Court (2017) 12 Cal.App.5th 1264, 1273-1274; Government Code section 7927.705). Records which were received or communicated solely for the purpose of settlement negotiations, will not be produced as they are privileged and exempt pursuant to Evidence Code section 1119, and Government Code section 7927.705. With respect to your inquiry “from which budget line item were payments made out of?”, while the Public Records Act does not create a duty to answer questions or create a public record, we are investigating whether there is a public record that could be produced which provides that information. The County anticipates producing all non-exempt public records responsive to this request within the next two weeks (on or before Friday, March 24, 2023).”

READERS will recall that case number 21cv00561 began when the CEO and the Board threatened to personally charge Sheriff Kendall for ordinary budget overruns and tried to absorb his law enforcement computer system, the one that has strict restrictions on who can access it, into the County’s overall computer system. Kendall then hired local attorney Duncan James saying that 1) the Sheriff needed the County to pay for Mr. James since County Counsel was already representing the Board, for $50k, to argue these foolish and irresponsible proposals; and 2) to stop them because they were dumb, not to mention illegal. The case has dragged on for going on two years now. (It started in June of 2021 when then-CEO Carmel Angelo blurted out in open session, “Say the Sheriff comes in $1.6 million over budget. Am I going to send him a bill for $1.6 million? And when he says he won’t pay it, and he goes public, is the Board going to say he’s going to have to put up $1.6 million?” That was followed by Supervisor Ted Williams saying “Let’s do it.” Supervisor Dan Gjerde added, “If it’s county code, I don’t know why it’s not being followed already.” County Counsel Christian Curtis piled on: “This is not just county policy; it is state law.”)

In the ensuing months, lots of court hearings were held in front of Judge Moorman and lots of legal filings were made. Moorman eventually ruled that Kendall could have his own attorney, but she didn’t insist that Duncan James be named Kendall’s attorney. So that ruling was appealed. Duncan James and his private staff attorney spent lots of time on the case, at prevailing attorney rates. The County arranged for an outside attorney for Kendall, but Kendall said he’d only use Duncan James, not a County-selected outside attorney. An on-line appellate website says the case has settled, but gives no particulars. All we want to know is how much this wasteful and unnecessary farce has cost County taxpayers (not counting the hundreds of hours spent by County Counsel and staff). Instead we get a legalistic run-around and double delay which makes us suspect that it’s worse than we even thought. Meanwhile, isn’t the County claiming to be kinda broke? 

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Supervisor Maureen Mulheren has sponsored an agenda item for Board consideration next Tuesday which would “Provide for Cannabis Cultivation and Nursery Operations, a Reduction in the Cannabis Business Tax for Tax Years 2023 and 2024 and to Establish a Penalty and Interest Amnesty Program and a Prior Year Tax Payment Plan.” 

Yet in that same Tuesday agenda packet we found this chart:

Further down in the separate budget materials we found: 

“The Cannabis Management budget unit anticipates being over budget by $662,000, due to shortfalls on Cannabis fee revenues.”

Doing the math on this dismal and confusing subject is beyond us, and we’re usually pretty good at following MendoMath. Supervisor Mulheren doesn’t provide any math either. Apparently the thinking is that if the County reduces pot taxes for next fiscal year (by some unspecified amount) and stretches out the payment schedules, and waives the penalties and interest for past due non-payments — some provisional permit holders who are delinquent on their taxes say they didn’t even grow any pot last year — somehow there will be additional pot tax revenue in the long run, despite the Cannabis Department’s very conspicuous high deficit sucking sound, ongoing expenses for staff and expensive outside planning consultants, and the dwindling number of permit applications, while at the same time the increasing time and expense of processing those dwindling permit applications…

The Tuesday discussion of how this is all supposed to work should be interesting, but probably not clarifying.

(Mark Scaramella)

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To the Editor:

Police seem to be in the news a lot, nationally and locally. Seem to have a problem with police attitude. I’ve been told that part of the problem is their training, which seems more military than community/civilian oriented. No female officers have been accused of sexual abuse.

And why is our DA so silent? Goodness knows we hear nothing from his office. I remember Norm Vroman and how transparent his office was. Why are policemen not being charged and punished? Let’s ask the DA.

Raleigh Page-Russell


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by Mike Geniella

Cedric Crook, a 25-year local law enforcement veteran, is the new Ukiah Police Chief.

The announcement Friday ended months of speculation about who would lead a department struggling with internal turmoil and external scrutiny since the abrupt firing in June 2022 of former Police Chief Noble Waidelich.

Crook has been serving as interim police chief since Waidelich’s ouster. He emerged as one of three finalists the city considered for the top job. It pays about $325,000 a year in salary and benefits.

“I am honored,” said Crook about his appointment as Police Chief.

Crook said Friday that he will sit down for interviews and talk about his intentions as Police Chief once things “settle down.”

Crook said in a prepared statement that “Over the course of my career, the role of police officers has evolved, and I am committed to leading the transformation of the Ukiah Police Department to a more community-oriented department.”

Crook is a law enforcement officer with deep roots in Mendocino County. He is a lifelong resident who comes from long established families who have included teachers and accountants.

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall said he’s known Crook for two decades. “He is extremely intelligent, and I know he can get the job done. I look forward to working with Cedric.”

Crook’s appointment ends weeks of speculation after the public learned earlier this year that he was among three finalists for the city job. The other two candidates were a longtime Mendocino County sheriff’s captain, and a law enforcement official from Yolo County.

Multiple candidates were vetted and interviewed during the city’s months-long recruitment effort to replace Waidelich, a local officer who rose through department ranks only to be suddenly fired in mid-June 2022 following the lodging of a sexual complaint against him by a woman well known in local law enforcement circles. Waidelich allegedly went to her home while on duty and in his police chief’s uniform and demanded oral sex.

Waidelich’s firing was the latest in a string of high profile scandals to roil the Ukiah department, a law enforcement agency that once carried a sterling reputation. In the past decade, the department has been beset by allegations of police misconduct.

Former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin Murray was accused of sexually assaulting a police trainee, and later of beating a Ukiah man so severely that the City of Ukiah settled a lawsuit with his victim for $1.1 million. Murray later was criminally accused of forcing his way into a Ukiah motel room in November 2020 where he sexually accosted a Sacramento woman. After reading of that incident, another woman — a friend of a former Murray wife — accused him years earlier of forcing her into twice performing oral sex on him.

Murray was fired from the department after being arrested in connection with the Ukiah motel case. But he escaped serious criminal punishment when District Attorney David Eyster’s office last year unexpectedly dropped three felony sex-related charges against the rogue cop. Murray was placed on a year’s probation instead, after entering guilty pleas in July 2022 to lesser charges.

Murray and the City still face civil lawsuits stemming from his past actions.

The department was also the subject of controversy by the disclosure of videos that showed a squad of police officers assaulting a naked mentally ill man, which ended up costing the city $211,000 to settle his family’s civil lawsuit.

District Attorney Eyster continues to refuse to publicly discuss his reasons behind dropping the sex-related charges against Murray, or address the status of the Waidelich case months after the results of an outside investigation by Sonoma County authorities were turned over to him.

Eyster also refuses to talk about police misconduct complaints lodged last Fall against a fired Willits Police lieutenant, who was accused of sexually abusing a local woman.

In his role as the county’s chief law enforcement officer, Eyster’s adamant refusal to publicly discuss high profile police misconduct allegations casts a long shadow over local law enforcement in general.

Friday’s announcement of Crook’s appointment as the new Ukiah Police Chief alluded to the public concern about local police misconduct issues.

Mayor Mari Rodin said about Crook in part, “He knows the department needs to rebuild trust in the community, and he is up to the task.”

Since June of last year Crook has focused on reestablishing the stability of his department, providing training emphasizing de-escalation techniques and working with individuals with mental illness, and enforcing strict accountability through the ranks, according to the city announcement.

City Manager Sage Sangiacomo said that after the city’s “thorough vetting process, it became resoundingly clear that Cedric Crook knows our community, is committed to our community, and has the integrity needed to lead this department.”

Even though Crook rose to the top of the field of candidates, and despite his record of exemplary service within the department, city officials decided to take the extraordinary step of retaining an outside investigator to conduct an in-depth background check before making their final decision.

Mayor Rodin said that based on those results, and input from a citizens stakeholder group and a lengthy interview process with a city council ad hoc committee, “I am convinced that we made the right choice for our new chief.”

Rodin said Crook has the “highest ethical standards and will not be shy about enforcing those standards within the department.”

Crook, during his 25 years with the Ukiah department, has served as both patrol and administrative lieutenant, supervised the department’s detective division, was promoted to Captain and has received numerous achievement awards.

A graduate of Ukiah High School, Crook attended the University of Nevada at Reno, where he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in Spanish.

During his career with the Ukiah department, Crook has witnessed some high-profile criminal cases and local disasters up close.

Crook rode in the ambulance in March 2003 that rushed now retired Ukiah Police Sgt. Marcus Young to a local hospital following a shootout with a violent felon in the parking lot of the local WalMart store. Young survived thanks to the help of a young police cadet who was on patrol with him, but the officer’s injuries eventually forced his retirement.

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SHADES OF '29! Police were called after “about a dozen” financiers, including former Lyft executive Dor Levi, showed up outside Silicon Valley Bank's building on Park Avenue as investors scrambled to get their money out in the biggest collapse since the 2008 Great Recession. The bank failed today as depositors — mostly technology workers and venture capital-backed companies — began withdrawing their money following a shock announcement of a $1.8 billion loss. 

SVB, HEAVILY INVOLVED in the NorCal wine industry, took a hammering in pre-market trading Friday morning with its stock price plunging by 66% before trading was halted. But with investors only protected up to $250,000, there have already been “horror stories,” assuming you sympathize with Ashley Tyrner, CEO of Boston wellness firm FarmboxRx, who said she had at least $10 million deposited with SVB and has been frantically calling her banker. She said it had been “the worst 18 hours of my life.”

WITH AROUND $209 billion in assets, SVB is the second-largest bank failure in US history after the 2008 collapse of Washington Mutual. It is the first FDIC-insured bank to fail in more than two years, the last being Almena State Bank in October 2020. The bank's CFO and CEO dumped their shares two weeks ago in obvious anticipation of the collapse, which ought to get them some jail time but won't, as big bankers are already calling for federal intervention to prop up their fast and loose bros. 

GOTTA AGREE with Kirk Vodopals comment: “S.T.E.A.M.? Who snuck the ‘A’ in STEM? Typical Mendocino County… just shove arts into it. Gather round. It’s poetry circles and feelings time. Or how about we watch a homemade video of the teacher doing half-assed kung-fu? Does that count? Arts? Do the schools even have real music programs anymore with real instruments? Spoken word poetry doesn’t count. Hey, kid, gimme a beat. Count it off. One, two, three… math… engineer me a band.”

NOT THAT LONG AGO, Boonville High School was fortunate to have the wonderfully talented Bob Ayres as a music instructor who taught the basics with actual instruments to a couple of decades of lucky Valley youngsters. Ayres even managed to create a marching band for our little high school.

AND EVEN FARTHER BACK in the 1930s, Anderson Valley featured a marching band complete with uniforms, photographs of which can be seen on the grass oval in front of the old high school, the gracious architectural predecessor of today's medium security prison designs of contemporary public schools.

JULIE KNUDSEN, and Coast Cat Project! 

Got a whole lotta AV cats neutered last week.

ANYBODY SEEN MONTE HULBERT LATELY? The last time I saw him, and I think it's been almost two years now, the Anderson Valley mountain man was living deep in the Indian Creek back country.

MARK BOUDOURES alerts us Boonvillian that the survey crew at work last week is lining out plans for Boonville roundabouts in an effort to slow traffic speed through town.

BIG NEWS: MARK BOUDOURES: Recently I have seen Cal Trans survey crews in Boonville. I knew something was in the works so I investigated further and learned of a planned project approved by the county and scheduled to begin this summer.

The planned project will create round-a-bouts and street lighting from the 128/253 intersection to Mountain View Road with round-a-bouts at each location and one more at Lambert lane. 

The project is in the Mendocino budget with a federal grant and is expected to slow traffic, benefit businesses and improve safety. Further funding will be provided by the addition of parking meters.

ROUNDABOUTS for Boonville? Yes, and a chorus of hurrahs for CalTrans for taking the first steps to making them a reality, and a surefire way of slowing down Boonville's dangerous thru-traffic. 

KATHY BAILEY: If you are experiencing a power outage or other storm-related situation, you are welcome to take a shower at Hendy Woods State Park without being a camper or paying the Day Use Fee. You will still need quarters or tokens, available at the kiosk when open, to have hot water. $1 buys 5 minutes of hot water. The showers that are currently open are at the Azalea Camp Loop.

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BILL KIMBERLIN: Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock's, "North By Northwest". How did they do that?

I will be speaking March 19th at the Anderson Valley Historical Society (Little Red School House) at 4p.m. On, "A Career in the Movies".

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At the very beginning of next Tuesday's Board meeting, during public comment for items not on the agenda, I would like to ask the Board why the Board doesn't direct County Cannabis Director Kristan Nevedal to appear before the Board to answer for her department's poor performance.

I'd like to see the Board ask Ms. Nevedal specific questions about the incompetence and inefficiencies in her department, budget deficits, and her directive to "deprioritize" half of the applicant pool.

Because Ms. Nevedal reports directly to the Board, unlike other department heads, the Board is well within its authority to question Ms. Nevedal about her job performance.

Below, see what I learned about Ms. Nevedal and the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA).


John Sakowicz


PS. Kristan Nevedal

Supervisor Ted Williams was once Kristan Nevedal's biggest fan. He positively lauded Ms. Nevedal. He said Ms. Nevedal was hired in large part because she was "connected" in Sacramento. Because she was a Board Member at the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA).

What is the CCIA?

CCIA is the trade group for “Big Money” and “Corporate Cannabis” in California.

CCIA is chaired by Pamela Epstein of Eden Enterprises, a vertically integrated company. Small family farmers are losing market share to vertically integrated companies — vertically integrated companies have every competitive advantage in the world.

CCIA’s vice chair is Eddie Franco of Nabis, a leading cannabis wholesaling platform. Small family farmers are beholden to wholesalers who set prices, even rig prices.

CCIA does not represent small farmers. Here in Mendocino County we only have small farmers. So why was Ms. Nevedal hired?

PPS. Kristin Nevedal resigned from her board seat with the “California Cannabis Industry Association” (CCIA) once she started working for Mendocino County in March 2021.

At the time Mendocino County hired her, Ms. Nevedal was also on two other boards -- the “International Cannabis Farmers Association” (ICFA) and the “Cannabis Business Association of Mendocino County” (CBAMC), of which ICFA and CCIA were “Organizational Partners”.

Apparently, the International Cannabis Farmers Association” (ICFA) and the “Cannabis Business Association of Mendocino County" no longer exist. 

What happened to them? Were they shell companies? Google them up. You get nothing.

Back in 2021, the policy priorities for the New CBAMC were:

1) Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ adoption of a Phase 3 cannabis ordinance which includes expanded cultivation up to 10% of parcel size in agriculture-appropriate zones by Spring 2021.

2) Procure of Annual Licenses from the State of California for Mendocino County cultivators.

At the time Mendocino County hired Ms. Nevedal, it certainly looked like the CCIA and CBAMC had their new inside woman, direct from the Big Money interests of Corporate Cannabis, but paid for by the people Mendocino County and the 500 small cannabis farmers who were applying for their permits.

How ironic!

My theory? Kristin Nevedal had every incentive to see Mendocino County's small farmers fail. As farms went out of business, farm real estate was heavily discounted or went into foreclosure. 

It was then that the "Big Money" interests of "Corporate Cannabis" at CCIA, and more locally, the CBAMC, could snap up these properties for next to nothing. The plan was to build their own portfolio of farms. 

Kristin Nevedal was on the CBAMC Board. So was her husband, I think. We need to look up their incorporation papers. Who else was at the CBAMC? How were they capitalized? Where did they go? Did they reorganize?

Again, good luck. The CBAMC disappeared without a trace. 

You can't even Google up Cannabis Farmers Association” (ICFA) or the “Cannabis Business Association of Mendocino County.”


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Big River Bridge, Mendocino County, circa 1865

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A Summer Solstice & Peace Celebration, June 16-18, 2023, Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville

And we're working hard to bring out something really special for you, our Sierra Nevada World Music Festival family! 

Since 1994 Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has been an iconic part of the California festival circuit, bringing music lovers together in a family-friendly setting for three magical days.

Our founder and programmer Warren Smith created a unique mix of the very best Roots Reggae & World Music, with so many memorable performances over 25 years. With Warren’s passing in 2021 and the pandemic, we have been on hiatus. 

This year, the time is right for us to gather again in celebration of Peace, Love & Music in the beautiful forests and rolling hills of Mendocino. We look forward to welcoming you back! SNWMF 2023 is for Warren.

First Lineup: Luciano • Tarrus Riley • Derrick Morgan • Protoje • Kabaka Pyramid • Cocoa Tea • Bassekou Kouyate • Ken Boothe • Lila Ike • Soul Syndicate • The Clarendonians • Wesli • Norma Fraser. In The Dance Hall: Rory Stone Love • Warrior Sound Intl. And Many More Artists.

For more info and tickets go to

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by Hailey Branson-Potts

This isn’t some old-timer’s tall tale: Lori Ford has been walking two miles down a dirt road, with snow past her knees, just to get to work this month. 

The pharmacy technician lives in the Mendocino County mountains north of Willits. Keeping her eyes peeled for bears and mountain lions, she has been hoofing it — from her house, down a narrow mountain road, to a four-wheel-drive vehicle she keeps parked at the bottom of the mountain for the rest of her trek to work.

For the last three weeks, and atmospheric river storm after atmospheric river storm, there has been over 4 feet of powder at her house. The steep road became too dangerous to drive. 

But, by golly, she has still been clocking in at the Garberville Pharmacy in neighboring Humboldt County. 

She just can’t believe there are more storms on the way and that her hellish commute might be this way for a while yet. 

Is she ready for spring?

“I was ready yesterday,” Ford said. “I’m ready for winter to be over so I can complain about the heat in the summer.” 

Across rural Northern California, people aren’t exactly thrilled to have yet another storm this week, fueled by yet another atmospheric river. 

The storm — which is hitting Northern and Central California the hardest — threatens to trigger widespread flooding as warm rain melts a record accumulation of snow. 

Rivers and creeks in Mendocino, Monterey, Merced, Stanislaus, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties could see flooding, according to the National Weather Service. 

Eel River

Many of those rivers flooded in January, when nine back-to-back atmospheric rivers hammered the state, contributing to at least 22 deaths, including people killed by falling trees and surging waters.

In recent days, emergency crews have used helicopters to air-drop hay bales to thousands of cattle starving in the snow in Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties. 

The storm system pounding the region this week is a lot warmer, and at higher elevations, “we expect the rain to soak up into the snowpack,” said Kathleen Zontos, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Eureka. 

“That can make any snow much heavier, so if there’s a lot of snow on roofs, that can be a concern. The snow load can be pretty heavy, and people should consider — safely, of course — clearing off their roofs to lighten the load.” 

Zontos said that although coastal Northern California typically gets a lot of rain in the winter, this season’s deluges are catching people off guard after several years of drought. 

That region should see heavy rain through Friday, with light rain over the weekend. Another atmospheric river storm with potential flooding is possible early next week, she said. 

Ryan Rhoades, superintendent of the Mendocino City Community Services District, said that his foggy coastal hamlet has gotten 29 inches of rain so far this year. It’s right at the historic average, down to the inch, he said.

That’s a huge change from the last two years. Amid Mendocino’s worst drought on record, the seaside town — which has no municipal water system— had wells running dry and relied on expensive trucked-in water to avert crisis. 

At least in Mendocino, the rain this week isn’t such a bad thing, Rhoades said Thursday, noting that it was pouring outside. 

“I don’t want to say the drought is over. I don’t want to say things are good, because it’s still early, but it’s a lot worse in other parts of the county and the state than it is here,” he said. “People are relieved and happy because there’s water in their wells.” 

As for Ford, the storms can’t end fast enough. 

Living off the grid in “the boondocks,” she and her husband are used to having to stock up on food, water and gas for their generator in case of emergencies. But this winter has been brutal, she said.

“This is like Colorado snow weather,” she said her husband — originally from that state — proclaimed this month. 

Ford makes the snowy hike and drive to Garberville on Wednesdays. She works and stays with a friend at a lower elevation, hiking back up the mountain to be with her husband and two young children on Fridays. 

She worries about the snow melting this week and what it will do to the lower-elevation towns. And she worries about her own home. 

“We could have a landslide on our own property,” she said. “The snow has saturated the ground so much, the water has nowhere to go.” 

At the Garberville Pharmacy, she’s spent a lot of time commiserating with customers. 

The pharmacy, next to the Eel River, is at a lower elevation, so snow is not an issue. But customers from remote areas drive for hours, even in the best conditions, to get their prescriptions, said pharmacist Bryan Coleman.

“Most of our patients are affected by the storms,” Coleman said. “We’ve got some who are struggling to get down from the mountains in the snow and some struggling to get up from the ocean,” dodging downed trees and power lines. 

One of his fellow pharmacists has been stuck at home for days, unable to get to work. 

On Wednesday, Coleman mailed a prescription for a snowbound patient in the mountain town of Zenia, 30 miles away. The post office, he said, offered to deliver the medication to a nearby fire station where the patient could pick it up. 

In recent days, the pharmacy staff has rushed to fill prescriptions for far-flung patients who have made it to the store, only to have to rush back home before another storm hit. 

“It’s just — it’s a mess,” Coleman said.

(LA Times)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, March 10, 2023

Nelson, Palmer, Sanchez, Vazquez

CHRISTOPHER NELSON, Brooklyn, Connecticut/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

TIMMOTHY PALMER, Willits. Vandalism.

JULIO SANCHEZ, Redwood Valley. DUI.

EDGAR VAZQUEZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

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The fatal stabbing at Montgomery High School is a tragedy for all involved and stems from systemic failures to come together and address school violence. The Press Democrat reports that 97 calls for police assistance were received from Montgomery High in 2022, and 945 calls from all other Santa Rosa schools.

Harley Rodgers, a Montgomery student, passionately questioned Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan as to why it took a death for officials to show up. Cregan diverted the question by blaming the Santa Rosa school board for voting to remove campus-based school resource officers.

Anna Trunnell, the Santa Rosa school superintendent, said violence prevention included “regular talks” about safety and “caring for each other on campus.” School resource officers and caring for each other cannot take the place of a countywide violence prevention protocol based on best practices and robust community involvement.

Such a plan needs school officials, teachers, the police, parents, counselors, local government and others to work together to address this scourge of violence. How many more school deaths will we allow before we take action?

Donna Gaetano

Santa Rosa

PS. speaking about the stabbing death at Montgomery High School, also asked this question: "Such a plan needs school officials, teachers, the police, parents, counselors, local government and others to work together to address this scourge of violence. How many more school deaths will we allow before we take action?" Well, replied an on-line commenter, the fault with this scourge of violence starts with the parents. Too many parents refuse to discipline their children when issues arise at school. The common response is that their perfect child is never to blame. Then retaliation, mental and physical assaults, psychological damage, etc. escalates. All because parents refuse to be accountable for their childrens' behaviors. We saw that with the parents of the 16 year olds, who publicly stated their children would never hurt anyone. Well, video footage and eye witness accounts show that is not true. Not to mention that the parents of the 16 year olds appear to have arrest records in Sonoma County as well. Where does the real blame fall for children acting out in violence? Squarely on the shoulders of incompetent parents.

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Trying to Reach Anything Awake in Postmodern America

Following a day of making cardiovascular appointments at Ukiah, California’s Adventist Health, and trying out the new prescriptions to lower blood pressure, am continuing to sleep at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center, eat free meals at the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center, go online at the Ukiah Public Library, and otherwise do nothing except identify with the Pure Spirit which lives in the heart chakra, utilizing the body and mind for a higher will. That is all. Feel free to contact me if you wish to do anything crucial on the planet earth.

Craig Louis Stehr,

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Woodstove, 1905

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CALIFORNIA STORMS PARADOX: Too Much Water in Reservoirs, Too Soon

by Alastair Bland

Two winters’ worth of snow has already fallen in the Sierra Nevada since Christmas, pulling California from the depths of extreme drought into one of its wettest winters in memory.

But as a series of tropical storms slams the state, that bounty has become a flood risk as warm rains fall on the state’s record snowpack, causing rapid melting and jeopardizing Central Valley towns still soggy from January’s deluges.

The expected surge of mountain runoff forced state officials on Wednesday to open the “floodgates” of Lake Oroville and other large reservoirs that store water for millions of Southern Californians and Central Valley farms. Releasing the water will make room for the storm’s water and melted snow, prevent the reservoirs from flooding local communities — and send more water downstream, into San Francisco Bay. The increased flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean.

So what’s the downside? These same storms are prematurely melting a deep and valuable snowpack that ideally would last later into the spring and summer, when farmers and cities need water the most.

The storms have created a tricky situation for officials who manage state and federal reservoirs in California, since they have to juggle the risk of flooding Central Valley communities with the risk of letting too much water go from reservoirs. They must strike a balance between holding as much water in storage, as long as they can, while maintaining room in reservoirs for more water later in the season.

“Water management in California is complicated, and it’s made even more complex during these challenging climate conditions where we see swings between very, very dry, very, very wet, back to dry. We’re now back into wet,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources.

Rivers in the San Joaquin Valley are forecast to flood today or Saturday. Eleven locations are expected to reach the flood stage, although no “danger stage” flooding is anticipated, according to Jeremy Arrich, deputy director of the Division of Flood Management with the Department of Water Resources.

To make room for more water, state and federal officials who manage California’s major dams and reservoirs are releasing water. Some will flow into the ocean — which aggravates many water managers, Central Valley legislators and growers, who often say freshwater that reaches the bay or ocean is wasted. However, efforts are underway to divert much of the released water into depleted groundwater storage basins.

On Wednesday, the Department of Water Resources increased outflow of water from Oroville from about 1,000 cubic feet per second to 3,500 cubic feet per second. By Friday, total releases could be as high as 15,000 cubic feet per second, according to Ted Craddock, deputy director of the State Water Project.

Oroville is now more than 75% full, containing 2.7 million acre-feet of water — up from less than one million in the beginning of December. In spite of releases, the reservoir’s level will keep rising. Craddock said inflow in the next five days could hit 70,000 cubic feet per second. That’s about half a million gallons of water per second.

Satellite images show how January storms boosted water levels in parched Lake Oroville, one of the state’s largest reservoirs. State officials released water from the reservoir this week in anticipation of another major storm. Photos via NASA Earth Observatory.

In 2017 Oroville’s levels reached so high that the overflow water damaged its spillway. An emergency spillway had to be used, eroding a hillside and triggering evacuation of about 200,000 people in nearby communities.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a similar operational move for Millerton Lake, the reservoir behind Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River, which supplies water to growers throughout the Central Valley.

The two-day rainfall totals will be “quite astounding” and “will lead to some really significant runoff,” said State Climatologist Michael Anderson. More storms are expected next week and later in March.

Rain on snow

Today’s storm is creating what watershed scientists and weather watchers call a “rain on snow” event. Earlier this winter, freezing elevations hovered as low as 3,000 feet, meaning precipitation above that fell as snow.

That has changed, Anderson said. Freezing levels have risen to as high as 7,000 feet in the southern and central Sierra Nevada, where the bulk of the snowpack has accumulated. A National Weather Service forecast shows freezing elevations even higher, at 9,000 feet, and warned that “snow will melt easily below 5,000 feet,” since it is already approaching the melting point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

State officials say the premature snowmelt from this storm likely won’t have much effect on supplies this spring and summer.

“This winter, there has been an accumulation of snow at lower to mid-level elevations, which will experience melt during this storm and will generate runoff into foothill and valley communities,” said David Rizzardo, manager of the state water agency’s hydrology section.

“However, at higher elevations, where the vast majority of the snowpack is, we will not experience significant melt. Even with higher snow levels above 8,000 feet in these storms, we still anticipate seeing additional snow accumulation at the higher elevations that will add to our snowpack totals, especially in the Southern Sierra.”

John Abatzoglou, a UC Merced professor of climatology, said deep, soft snow has the physical capacity to absorb a great deal of rain. The snow may even freeze the rain, rather than vice-versa, effectively increasing the snowpack volume, at least for a while.

“As you add liquid to the snowpack, it gets denser, it gets warm, and it gets more apt to melt when the next storm comes,” he said, noting that more atmospheric river events are coming next week.

Diverting underground

While the latest storms flood river valleys, state regulators have taken action to capture as much stormwater as possible before it flows into the ocean and use it to recharge groundwater basins.

On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board approved a petition from the Bureau of Reclamation to divert 600,000 acre-feet of San Joaquin Valley flood waters into wildlife refuges and groundwater recharge basins. Diversions can begin on March 15 and continue until July.

“Given the time it takes for water to reach the downstream point of diversion at Mendota Dam, the approval period will allow for floodwater capture following storms expected this weekend,” the water board explained in a news release.

The action is intended in part to help meet Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of increasing groundwater storage by over 500,000 acre-feet per year, spelled out in his Water Supply Strategy released last summer.

But environmental groups protested the water board’s action.

Greg Reis, a hydrologist with The Bay Institute, said it will allow the bureau to divert all of the San Joaquin River except for 300 cubic feet per second — what he calls “a very, very small” amount of water. Floodwaters, he said, are important for ecosystem function and survival of fish, including threatened spring-run Chinook salmon.

He compared floodwaters in a river to a person’s increased pulse when they exercise.

“If you don’t get your heart rate up when you exercise, you don’t get the health benefits,” he said. “Same thing for a river. You’ve got to get the flows up, and the 300 cubic feet per second is certainly not adequate for a river like the San Joaquin.”


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by Marshall Newman

The fact is inescapable; the news media landscape has changed in the 21st century. On television, cable news channels have expanded exponentially and broadcast news channels have expanded the hours devoted to news. On radio, many all-news stations have disappeared and news segments on other stations have shrunk. On the internet, news (some accurate and fair, some neither) is everywhere. But perhaps the biggest change has been the serious decline in daily newspapers, both in numbers and — in some cases — in quality. 

Regarding the former, the numbers don’t lie. Between 2000 and 2018 (the last year for which data was available) approximately 200 daily newspapers in the United States ceased publication. The number represents approximately 14% of all the daily papers in the United States in 2000. More importantly, it represents cities and towns across the country that no longer have a daily source of local news. Estimated weekday newspaper circulation has fallen by half; from 55.8 million in 2000 to 24.2 million in 2020.

If the numbers are to be believed, The San Francisco Chronicle, which once proclaimed itself “The Voice of the West,” has taken a worse beating than most daily papers. From circulation greater than 500,000 in 2000 the Chronicle has fallen to an average circulation of approximately 60,000 today. By comparison, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, which serves a far smaller population, currently has a daily circulation of 22,000.

Though never challenging the New York Times or Washington Post for excellence, the San Francisco Chronicle’s news reporting back in the day was decent, earning it several Pulitzer Prizes. Where it shined brightest was in features, with nationally known columnists like Herb Caen, Art Hoppe, Stan Delaplane and Charles McCabe. In addition, it had some superb staff writers, including Ralph J. Gleason (music), Marilyn Tucker (art), Gwen Knapp (sports), GraceAnn Walden (food), Alan Temko (architecture) and Robert Commanday (classical music). It also serialized two books that captured the zeitgeist of the 1970s and 1980s in the Bay Area and became national best sellers: The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County by Cyra McFadden, and Tales of the City (the original and three sequels) by Armistead Maupin.

Even during the 2000s, as the internet rose and circulation declined, the San Francisco Chronicle retained some good writers, including Jon Carroll, Leah Garchik, John King, Vanessa Hua, Carl Nolte, Peter Hartlaub, Ben Fong-Torres, Barbara Lane, Kathleen Pender, Mick LaSalle, Ann Killion, Bruce Jenkins and Matier & Ross. Alas, most of those named (with the exception of Killian, Nolte, King, LaSalle and Hartlaub, and the possible exception of Fong-Torres) are gone now; either retired, left for greener pastures or — in the case of the few who provided recent weekly columns — discontinued. As one of the latter noted, “The reason I was given is I’m not getting enough ‘clicks’.” More on that tidbit later.

Today the San Francisco Chronicle is a ghost of its former self. The daily paper consists of two sections, the first — typically 10-12 pages — devoted to news, the second — also typically 10-12 pages — split between sports and entertainment/culture. There is no business section; normally less than a page in the news section is dedicated to business news, despite the Bay Area’s standing as one of the major business centers of the United States. In that second section, most of the pages feature sports news. Except on Fridays, only four pages are allocated to entertainment/culture; two of those are given over to the comics and a portion of the third goes to the television listings.

The Wednesday food & wine section? Gone. The Sunday travel section? Also gone, except for an occasional section focused on one location. 

Editorials? The San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t do editorials anymore. Instead it publishes “Open Forum” opinion pieces written by outsiders. The newspaper’s editors apparently no longer take stands on local issues and then write cogent editorials to support their views.

One more thing. The San Francisco Chronicle never reports late breaking news. If news happens after approximately 6:30 p.m., it won’t appear in the newspaper until the day after the following day. 

While the overall quality of the San Francisco Chronicle has gone way down, the cost to subscribe has not. The last time I looked, the rate for home delivery was $80 a month.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I wrote a few articles for the San Francisco Chronicle back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were articles about wine, were written as a freelancer and were published in the food section. Since they appeared back in the pre-internet days, good luck finding them. 

Amid the dismantling of the San Francisco Chronicle as a newspaper, its parent company, the Hearst Corporation, recently announced record results for the fiscal year. SF Gate, its free website, which purportedly has a separate staff, receives approximately 28 million visitors a month. By comparison,, its paywall website, averages slightly more than 10 million visitors a month. Making the bias even more obvious, there are articles on the San Francisco Chronicle paywall website that never appear in the print version. The print subscribers help pay for those articles, but don’t get to see them unless they log on to the website. 

Which brings me back to that previously mentioned tidbit about that dropped columnist “…not getting enough ‘clicks’.” Maybe if the San Francisco Chronicle polled its faithful print subscribers — a mail-in questionnaire in the paper for a couple of days should suffice — regarding which writers and what kinds of stories they would like to read, it could adjust content to appeal to them. But those faithful subscribers don’t matter much anymore. It is all about the clicks. As a source inside the San Francisco Chronicle commented, “The growth in our industry is online, and that is where the focus is now.”

What can faithful San Francisco Chronicle newspaper readers do to change this trajectory to print oblivion? Beyond making their concerns known to the editors, probably not much. The irony is the San Francisco Chronicle as a newspaper is the sole reason the affiliated websites exist; without its name recognition, those websites would not be successful.

Fortunately, there remain daily and weekly newspapers in Northern California with a strong mix of news, sports, entertainment, features and editorial. They deserve the public’s support. So subscribe. Buy copies at the newsstand. If a business, advertise. And though it may sound counterintuitive, get an online subscription. Every bit of financial help those papers that truly serve their communities receive, the better they will be able to serve their communities. 

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MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show all night Friday night!

Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 7pm. If you can't make that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week. Next week is fine.

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.

Furthermore, any day or night you can go to and hear my last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put the recording of tonight's show there. And besides all that, there you'll find an entertaining mishmosh of educational material to skip about in until showtime, or any time, such as:

Far. A cute story about an unusual date. (21 min.)

The fascinating world of fruit reamers. "The biggest boom for reamers came in 1907 when the California Fruit Growers Exchange was formed. This co-op marketed the name Sunkist to sell fruit to the east coast. Sunkist reamers were produced as a promotional item. However, not until 1916 when the /Drink an Orange/ campaign was launched, were reamers marketed to the masses."

And Caves of Cheese: the story of America's strategic hard milk reserve of Ronnie cheese, the opposite of runny cheese.

Marco McClean,

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by Eric Branch

It appears the San Francisco 49ers can finally exhale: The injury that essentially ended their 2022 season is unlikely to derail them in 2023.


After spending 40 anxious days in limbo, the 49ers received good news Friday as quarterback Brock Purdyhad what they termed “successful” elbow surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament that was torn in their loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 29.

Purdy is expected to be able to resume throwing in three months after the Texas Rangers team physician, Dr. Keith Meister, performed the procedure in the Dallas area using the internal-brace technique, which involves sutures and screws to stabilize the ligament. Both head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have said the expectation is that Purdy would be ready to return in about six months — around the start of the regular season — if the internal-brace technique was used. A source declined to provide a rough full-recovery timeline on Friday.

The surgery resulted in the expected outcome, but it wasn’t guaranteed. Purdy had said Meister could elect to perform a “hybrid” surgery, which involves a graft and longer recovery timeline, if his UCL had sustained more damage than what had been revealed on MRIs.

It’s notable that the first Sunday of the NFL regular season is Sept. 10, exactly six months from Purdy’s surgery. Given the apparently tight timeline, it’s possible Purdy won’t be ready by Week 1, which would likely leave Trey Lance to assume his spot.

Purdy’s initial surgery, which was scheduled for Feb. 22, was delayed due to ongoing inflammation in his elbow. And Friday’s procedure provides the 49ers with at least some much-needed clarity just before the start of free agency, which unofficially begins Monday with a two-day period in which teams and players can negotiate but can’t sign contracts.

The encouraging surgical outcome likely means the 49ers won’t be in the market for a free-agent QB with extensive starting experience such Andy Dalton (Saints), Jacoby Brissett (Browns), Teddy Bridgewater (Dolphins) or Baker Mayfield (Rams).

They could target a mid-tier option who would be comfortable spending most of the season potentially serving as the third-stringer behind Purdy and Lance. Two former 49ers QBs who are unrestricted free agents, Nick Mullens (Vikings) and Nate Sudfeld (Lions), could fit that profile.

With Purdy and Lance their only QBs currently under contract for next season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the 49ers added a fourth QB in the draft. The 49ers have 11 picks, with eight in the final three rounds.

The 49ers, of course, were richly rewarded after using a late-round pick on Purdy last season. After he was the 262nd and final pick of the draft, Purdy became one of the biggest stories of the NFL season once Lance and Garoppolo were both shelved with season-ending injuries by early December.

Purdy went 5-0 in the regular season, becoming the only QB since 1950 to win his first five career starts while throwing at least two touchdown passes in each game. He also became the second rookie in the Super Bowl era to have at least two scoring passes in six straight games. In the postseason, Purdy became the third rookie since 1970 to win two playoff games.

His stunning debut, however, ended painfully in a 31-7 loss to the Eagles in the NFC title game. Purdy’s UCL was torn when he was hit by Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick on the 49ers’ sixth offensive play. Purdy returned to the game in the third quarter after his backup, Josh Johnson, was sidelined with a concussion, but only threw two short passes in the final 25 minutes due to his injury.

* * *

* * *


by Matt Taibbi

Testifying with Michael Shellenberger before a House Subcommittee was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. I expected serious attacks and spent a nervous night before preparing for them. Then the hearing began, and an episode of Black Adder: Congress broke out. The attacks happened, but it was more farcical horror and a parade of self-owns that made me more sad than upset. 

The Democrats made it clear they were not interested in talking about free speech except as it pertains to Chrissy Teigen, seemed to suggest a journalist should not make a living, and finally made the incredible claim that Michael and I represented a “direct threat to people who oppose them.” Of all that transpired yesterday, this was the most ominous development — perhaps not for me but for reporters generally, given our government’s recent history of dealing with people deemed “threats.” 

Beyond that, much of the hubbub yesterday involved the many “When did Elon Musk start beating your wife?” questions, and the line about me being a “so-called journalist.” 

Regarding the former, both ranking member Stacey Plaskett and Texas Democrat Sylvia Garcia repeatedly asked questions about when I first got Twitter Files information, and from whom. It was a bizarre collective display of a whole group of politicians not understanding some pretty basic things about how not to act around journalists.

Obviously, mine is not a situation where there’s a mole at Langley or in a war zone smuggling out documents, whose life is at stake. The genesis of the Twitter Files story also is not exactly a case for Sherlock Holmes. 

But, I made an agreement on an attribution, and the reason I can’t break it is as much for the next source as it is for any current one (or ones, in this case). People who are thinking of calling a journalist always look them up to see if they’ve ever burned or blown a source before. So, if you happen to have done it on television, that’s going to be a serious problem going forward. 

Moreover, submitting to an elected official’s request to break any deal is not exactly doing future journalists a favor, because it sets a precedent. This is why anyone who understands and respects these dynamics doesn’t go near that question. Yet the Democrats did it repeatedly. 

One of the crazier parts came at the end of the examination by Garcia, when I ended up becoming just a bystander to a heated and apparently sincerely unfriendly blowup between chairman Jim Jordan and Plaskett:

GARCIA: So you’re not gonna tell us when Musk first approached you

TAIBBI: Again, Congresswoman, you're asking me to, you're asking your journalist to reveal a source.

GARCIA: So then you consider Mr. Musk to be the direct source of all this?

TAIBBI: Now you’re, you’re trying to get me to say that he is the source. 

GARCIA: Well, he isn’t, if you’re telling me you can’t answer because it’s your source, the only logical conclusion is that he is in fact your source.

TAIBBI: Well, you’re free to conclude that. 

GARCIA: Well, sir, I just don't understand. You can't have it both ways, but let’s move on, because —

JORDAN: Well, no, he can. He’s a journalist. 

PLASKETT: He can, because either Musk is the source and he can’t talk about it, or Musk is not the source. And if Musk is not the source, then he can discuss.

Did these people really not understand that identifying who is not a source crosses the same line as identifying who is one? You just can’t go into these questions. I started to interject to point this out, then realized that Garcia and Plaskett legitimately didn’t even know the basics of the civil liberties landscape. This was much the same as when Vijaya Gadde acted completely at a loss when Ro Khanna wrote to her in the middle of the Hunter Biden laptop affair, to express concerns about speech rights.

Khanna mentioned the New York Times v. Sullivan case and other principles to Gadde, and she seemed to have no idea what he was talking about. This was like that. Garcia also made it clear she didn’t know what Twitter was. At one point she said, regarding yesterday’s Twitter Files thread, that I had said “I had to attribute all the sources to Twitter first.” 

I was so confused by this that I paused, worried that I was misunderstanding (my hearing is not so great). She then asked if I “sent it to Twitter first.” As I was replying no, that I’d posted the thread on Twitter, I heard an aide whispering something about “putting it on Twitter.” 

Garcia seemed to think that Twitter was an editorial body to which I was sending text, maybe for review. It’s understandable, not knowing that the platform doesn’t work that way — not everyone has to be on Twitter obviously — but then why the hostility? Instead of simply asking me in a friendly way about this process, which I would have been glad to explain, she kept blasting away. “First, sir. Yes or no?” 

The Democrats were angry that Michael and I were there at all. They did not want to have a discussion about anything. It was completely opposite to what the party was even ten years ago, when expression rights were an issue they wanted to own. 

Most of the ideas I have about issues like speech, civil liberties, and due process are from Democrats. I come from a family of Democrats and my mother is both a Democrat and a lawyer. So I was shocked when Dan Goldman of New York started quizzing Mike and me about “the two indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that definitively established that Russia interfered in our 2016 election through social media disinformation, and a hack and leak operation.”

A longtime editor once cracked that the Democrats have been stuck since the mid-sixties trying to run Kennedy clones in elections, cranking out one toothy, tallish facsimile after another, from Gary Hart to John Kerry to Beto O’Rourke. Goldman is one of the latest, a literal handsome Dan who’s an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, worth over $250 million, and who opposed Medicare for All and the Green New Deal while marketing himself as “tough on crime.” All of these qualities make him the kind of quintessential born-on-third-base triangulator the party loves. 

However, the most salient fact about Goldman is that he has a J.D. from Stanford Law and is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Southern District. Even the former lead counsel of a Trump impeachment, which Goldman is, should know better than to assert that an indictment can “definitively establish” anything. 

This is why we have trials. A prosecutor’s assertions aren’t fact. They can only be said to be proven if they hold up against evidence presented by a competent defense in a fair trial setting. This is civil liberties 101, which is why I was confused when Goldman turned to me and asked if I “agreed” with Mueller’s indictments:

GOLDMAN: Mr. Taibbi, do you disagree with those two indictments? 

If you watch the video, you’ll see me freeze again. I was trying to figure out: was Goldman asking if I agreed that the accused in those two Mueller cases were guilty? Or was he asking if I agreed with Mueller’s decision to indict?

I didn’t have enough information to answer either question, but I was about to ask Goldman to specify anyway. However, by that point I’d been chastised so many times by Democratic members for saying something other than “yes” or “no” that I knew even a respectful request for clarification would be cut off. So, I stammered out a demurral. 

TAIBBI:Well, ind— uh, indictments aren’t a thing to disagree with.

GOLDMAN: Do you disagree? There are about 40 or 50 pages. Do you disagree with the evidence outlined in those indictments? 

TAIBBI: Indictments are just charges. 

As it happens I’d read those indictments, carefully, referencing them many times in Russiagate stories. Both are very unusual cases. USA v. Netyksho, Antonov, Badin, et al is Mueller’s much-ballyhooed case against 12 suspected officers of the GRU. The evidence in the indictment was frequently described as “highly detailed” and “compelling,” with NPR going so far as to say it demonstrated the “godlike vision” of the “U.S. intelligence community.” The indictment is indeed detailed, telling us hackers searched DCCC and DNC computers for terms like “hillary,” “cruz,” and “trump” and that unit 74455 of the GRU controlled or manipulated the person as “Guccifer 2.0” and “DCLeaks.”

Which is all fine and interesting, but the indictment offered no clue on how the state planned to prove the connection of the various activities, or moreover how they planned to prove that they used Guccifer to dump hacked materials to “Organization 1,” their word for Wikileaks, which they described as having “previously posted documents stolen from U.S. persons, entities, and the U.S. government.” Also, it was abundantly clear from the start that if these 12 people were GRU officers, none were going to show up in court. It’s even harder to evaluate “evidence” in an indictment if you know the prosecutor knows he or she is never going to have to prove the case. 

In a normal criminal case you can often see where the evidence is going to come from, which witnesses might testify, what exhibits might be introduced, and so on. It’s at least theoretically possible to judge whether or not the state has a decent case. In neither of these Mueller cases was that true, which incidentally was also the problem with evaluating them as news stories. If you don’t know where they got the information, how they’re determining who controls DCLeaks and Guccifer, and especially how they planned to link all of this to Wikileaks, how do you evaluate the truth of the story? A Clinton-appointed judge in 2019 tossed out many of the same assertions for the same reasons in the Democratic Party’s failed civil suit against Russia, Wikileaks, and the Trump campaign. 

All of which brings us to USA v. Internet Research Agency, Concord Catering, Prigozhin. This is the one where Mueller laid out the IRA’s plan to “sow discord” in the U.S. using social media. This is the case the Justice Department had to drop because one of the defendants, Concord, did show up in court, when the DOJ decided going through with the discovery process “unreasonably risk[ed] the national security interests of the United States.”

This made the end of Goldman’s foray in this direction all the more confusing:

GOLDMAN: Because you said earlier, I believe that you did not see Russia — you could not confirm that Russia interfered in our election in 2016, that you don't believe that. Is that your testimony here today? You don’t believe that they did?

TAIBBI: I think it’s possible that they may have on a small scale, but certainly not to what’s been reported. 

GOLDMAN: What’s been reported or what’s been included in the indictments?

TAIBBI: Well, again, indictments are allegations. They’re not proof. 

GOLDMAN: I understand. It’s pretty detailed allegations…

TAIBBI: And the Mueller indictment, by the way — 

GOLDMAN: You should go back and read the indictments, and tell us if you think there’s no proof of it. 

Here I was going to point out that the second of the cases Goldman cited had been dropped by prosecutors because Concord showed up in court, but Goldman stepped on that quickly:

TAIBBI: Some of those defendants, by the way…

GOLDMAN: Let me move on. Please, let me move on. That’s how this works. You should know this by now. 

The irony is that what Goldman was doing, confusing accusations with proof — as Thomas Jefferson said, the phenomenon of people whose “suspicions may be evidence” — was the entire reason for the hearing. Michael and I were trying to describe a system that wants to bypass proof and proceed to punishment, a radical idea that this new breed of Democrat embraces. I think they justify this using the Sam Harris argument, that in pursuit of suppressing Trump, anything is justified. But by removing or disrespecting the rights to which Americans are accustomed, you make opposition movements like Trump’s, you don’t stop them. 

Yesterday was memorable for other reasons, but a depressing eye-opener as well, forcing me to see up close the intellectual desert that’s spread all the way to the edges within the party I once supported. There are no more pockets of Wellstones and Kuciniches who were once tolerated and whose job it is to uphold a constitutionalist position within the larger whole. That crucial little pocket of principle is gone, and I don’t think it’s coming back.

* * *

* * *


We seem to living in a time of inverted reality: things that were certain are now uncertain, imaginary things are now real and immoral behaviour is now the height of virtue. 

Example: the dichotomy between male and female sex goes back to the Proterozoic, 2.5 billion years ago. Yet modern progressives claim that is but an illusion and that thousands of generations of creatures that led to Homo sapiens were constructing “gender” out of cultural preferences. Madness!

Reality will impose its heavy hand soon enough. We are still subject to natural selection and the future belongs to those who show up. 

Pray for America

* * *

LATE IN THE EVENING on the Fourth of July I went outside to sit on the front porch. I was drinking a little rum, puffing on a birthday joint, just thinking about things. Things like the George Zimmerman trial, “creepy-ass cracker(s),” the n-word, the announced death of the Voting Rights Act, the split decision on affirmative action, Paula Deen, politicians talking about building a higher, longer wall on the border with Mexico and sending a “surge” of 20 or 30 thousand additional troops to guard it — no talk about a northern surge — the black unemployment rate continuing to rise and what it was doing to those around me. Just a host of things. It all seemed bad. Just a ton of bullshit, poison and ill will, all aimed at black people and people of color in the “colorblind,” post-racial” “new normal.”

— Kevin Alexander Gray, “What It Feels Like to be Black in America“

* * *

* * *


Ukraine has decided to fight on in the ruined city of Bakhmut because the battle is pinning down Russia’s best units in advance of a planned Ukrainian spring counteroffensive, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

The comments by Mykhailo Podolyak on Friday were the latest signal of a shift by Kyiv this week to continue the defence of the small eastern city, where Moscow is trying to secure its first major victory in more than half a year.

Russia “has converged on Bakhmut with a large part of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as the private companies,” Podolyak said in an interview published by Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.

“We, therefore, have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive. So, today Bakhmut is completely effective, even exceeding its key tasks.”

Moscow has captured the eastern part of the city and outskirts to the north and south, but has so far failed to close a ring around Ukrainian defenders.

Kyiv seemed to be planning, at the beginning of March, to withdraw westward. However, it announced this week that its generals had decided to reinforce Bakhmut and fight on.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private militia leading Russia’s assault, claimed the military command was failing to provide his men with enough ammunition as Russia’s advances appeared to slow.

Prigozhin on Friday thanked the government publicly for a “heroic” increase in output, but in the same audio message said he was “worried about ammunition and shell shortages not only for Wagner … but for all units of the Russian army”.

He said his private army had opened recruitment centres in 42 cities as it sought to replenish its ranks after heavy losses in fighting for Bakhmut. He gave no indication of the number of fighters involved.

The Russian winter offensive has largely failed to gain ground apart from around Bakhmut.

* * *

* * *


by Seymour Hersh

The man who changed America…

I think it best that I begin with the end. On March 1, I and dozens of Dan’s friends and fellow activists received a two-page notice that he had been diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer and was refusing chemotherapy because the prognosis, even with chemo, was dire. He will be ninety-two in April.

Last November, over a Thanksgiving holiday spent with family in Berkeley, I drove a few miles to visit Dan at the home in neighboring Kensington he has shared for decades with his wife Patricia. My intent was to yack with him for a few hours about our mutual obsession, Vietnam. More than fifty years later, he was still pondering the war as a whole, and I was still trying to understand the My Lai massacre. I arrived at 10 am and we spoke without a break—no water, no coffee, no cookies—until my wife came to fetch me, and to say hello and visit with Dan and Patricia. She left, and I stayed a few more minutes with Dan, who wanted to show me his library of documents that could have gotten him a long prison term. Sometime around 6 pm—it was getting dark—Dan walked me to my car, and we continued to chat about the war and what he knew—oh, the things he knew—until I said I had to go and started the car. He then said, as he always did, “You know I love you, Sy.”

So this is a story about a tutelage that began in the summer of 1972, when Dan and I first connected. I have no memory of who called whom, but I was then at the New York Times and Dan had some inside information on White House horrors he wanted me to chase down—stuff that had not been in the Pentagon Papers.

I was planning to write about my friendship with Dan after he passed away but last weekend my youngest son reminded me that he still had some of the magic trick materials that Dan had delighted him with in the mid-1980s, when Dan was crashing with our family, as he often did when visiting Washington. “Why not write about him now?” he asked. Why not?

I first learned of Dan’s importance in the summer of 1971, when he was outed for delivering the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times a few weeks after the newspaper began a series of shattering stories about the disconnect between what we were told and what really had been going on. Those papers remain today the most vital discussion of a war from the inside. Even after the New York Times exposures, their seven thousand pages would be rarely read in full.

I was then working for the New Yorker on a Vietnam project and had learned that it was Dan who did the leaking a week or so before his name became public. His outing was inevitable, and on June 26, after hiding out in Cambridge, Dan strolled to the U.S Attorney’s office in Boston—there were scores of journalists waiting—and had a brief chat with the reporters before turning himself in for what all expected would be the trial of the decade. He told the crowd that he hoped that “the truth will free us of this war.” And then, as he fought his way to the courthouse steps, a reporter asked him how he felt about going to prison. His response struck me then and still makes me tingle: “Wouldn’t you go to prison to help end this war?”

I had done my bit in exposing the My Lai massacre and publishing a book about it in 1970. I was then in the process of writing a second book on the Army’s cover-up of the slaughter. “Hell, no,” I thought to myself, “No way I would go to jail—especially for telling an unwanted truth.” I followed Ellsberg’s subsequent trial in a Los Angeles federal court and even wrote about the wrongdoing of the White House creeps who broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst—at the request of President Nixon. (The government’s case was thrown out after the extent of the White House-ordered spying on Ellsberg became public.)

It was early in the election year summer of 1972 when Ellsberg and I got in touch with each other. I was banging away on the losing Vietnam war and CIA misdeeds for the Times. Nixon looked like a sure thing, despite continuing the hated war, because of stumble after stumble for the campaign of the Democratic nominee, Senator George McGovern. Dan had two stories that he thought could change the dynamics of the November election.

I liked him right off the bat. He was so earnest, so bright, as handsome as a movie star, and so full of the kind of inside information about the Vietnam War that few others had. And so willing to share them with no worry about the consequences. He understood that as the source of highly secret information and procedures he was taking all the risks and that as a reporter I was going to write stories that would get acclaim and put me at no risk. At some point in our chats, I brought him home for a good meal. His campaign against the Vietnam War was literally consuming him, and he immediately engaged with my wife and our two small children. He did magic tricks, he was marvelous on the piano—Dan could play the Beatles and Beethoven—and he connected with all of us. Our friendship was locked in—forever. I confess that late at night—we were both night owls—he and I would walk the dog and find time to sit on a curb somewhere and smoke a few Thai sticks. How Dan always managed to have a supply of these joints from Southeast Asia I chose not to ask. He would talk about all the sealed and locked secret files of the Vietnam War that he could recall, with his photographic memory, in near perfect detail.

In the early 1980s I was writing a long and very critical book about Henry Kissinger’s sordid days as Nixon’s national security adviser and secretary of State, with a focus on Vietnam. At one point, Dan spent more than a week in our home, rising at 6 am to read the 2,300 pages of typed manuscript. He understood that I did not want his analyses or disagreements with my conclusions, but only factual errors. One morning Dan told me I had misread a mid-1960s Washington Post piece on the war by Joe Kraft, whose column was then a must-read. I argued, and he was adamant. So I drove downtown to my office, dug through boxes of files and found the column. Dan had remembered the details of a two-decade-old column in a daily newspaper. His memory was scary.

There were two White House abuses he wanted me to expose before the presidential election in the fall of 1972. Dan told me that Nixon and Kissinger—for whom Dan had written an important early policy paper after he was appointed national security adviser—had been wiretapping aides and cabinet members. The second tip Dan had for me was that Kissinger had ordered some of his aides to produce a plan for using tactical nuclear weapons in South Vietnam, in case they were needed to end the war on American terms. If I could get one or two sources—by this time there were a number of former Kissinger aides who had quietly resigned over the Vietnam War—on the record, Dan said, it just might get the Democrats into office. It was the longest of long shots, but I tried like hell all summer to find someone who had firsthand information, as Dan did not, and who was willing to confirm Dan’s information, even if on background. Of course, it was understood I would have to tell Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of the Times, who my off-the-record source was.

It was a lousy summer for me, because there were a few former Kissinger aides who easily confirmed Dan’s information, but would not agree to my providing their names to the Times. In one case, with a very decent guy who very much hoped he would get a senior job in a future administration, I came close, aided by the fact that his wife—I always conducted such visits at night—said to her husband, “Oh, for God’s sakes just tell him the truth.” She said it over and over. Talk about a painful experience. Needless to say, their marriage did not last long. The wife’s anger that the truth was not being told helped me understand Dan’s obsession with a war whose worst elements were simply not known to the public. I wasn’t able to get any source on the record in time for the election, but in subsequent years I did get the stories.

There was one story Dan told me in late 1993 that seemed to capture the secret life on the inside of a major war. He had gone back and forth on short missions to South Vietnam while working as a senior State Department official, but he jumped at a chance in mid-1965 to join a team in Saigon committed to pacification—winning hearts and minds—of the villagers in the South. Its leader was Ed Lansdale, a CIA hero of counterinsurgency for his earlier efforts in routing communist insurgents in the Philippines.

I always took good notes in my meetings with Dan, not because I planned to write about him at some point—I knew he would write his own memoirs—but because I was getting a seminar on how things really worked on the inside. Read his words, and you can judge for yourself how complicated life could be at the top.

“In 1965,” Dan began, “I had done a study of the Cuban missile crisis and I had four operational clearances above top secret, including U-2 clearances” and National Security Agency clearances. He had also interviewed Bobby Kennedy two times about his role in the crisis. Ellsberg’s clearances were so sacrosanct that he was supposed to register in a special office upon arrival in Saigon and from then on he would not be allowed to travel outside of Saigon without an armored car or in a two-engine airplane or better. He got around the system by not deigning to register, a rarity in a world of war where top secret clearances were seen by many as evidence of machismo.

And so Ellsberg went off to work in Saigon with Lansdale. “For one and one half years,” Ellsberg said, “I spent nearly every evening listening to Lansdale talk about his covert operations in the Philippines and earlier in North Vietnam in the 1950s. By this time I’d been working with secrets for years and thought I knew what kind of secrets could be kept from whom. I also thought Ed and I had a good working knowledge of each other and our secrets. Every piece of information was cataloged in your mind and you knew to whom you could say and what you could say. In all of this, Jack Kennedy was mentioned and so was Bobby, but there was no mention by Lansdale of Cuba and no mention that Lansdale had ever worked for Jack and Bobby Kennedy.”

A decade later, after both Kennedy brothers had been assassinated, I wrote a series for the New York Times on the CIA’s spying on hundreds of thousands of American anti-Vietnam war protesters, members of Congress and reporters—all in direct violation of the agency’s 1947 charter barring any domestic activity. It led to the establishment of the Senate’s Church Committee in 1975. It was the most extensive Congressional inquiry into the activities of the CIA since the agency’s beginning. The committee exposed the assassination activities of the CIA, operations undertaken on orders that clearly came from Jack and Bobby Kennedy, although no direct link was published in the committee’s final report. But the committee reported extensively on a secret group authorized by Jack Kennedy and run by his brother Bobby to come up with options to terrorize Cuba and assassinate Fidel Castro. The covert operation had the code name Mongoose. And it was led, the committee reported, in 1961 and 1962 by Ed Lansdale.

Ellsberg told me he was flabbergasted. “When I heard about Lansdale and Mongoose,” he said, “it revealed to me an ability to keep secrets on an insider level that went far beyond what I had imagined. It was like discovering your next-door neighbor and your weekend fishing companion”—Ellsberg, it should be noted, never went fishing in his life—”and close, dear friend who, when he died, turned out to have been the secretary of State.

“It was astounding, because Mongoose was exactly the kind of operation I’d expected to hear about from Lansdale. He told about covert operations all the time. I think Ed had been told by President Kennedy to ‘keep his fucking mouth shut.’

“When you’ve been in a system with as high a level as possible of secrecy, you understand that things do get talked about. And you get a sense of what is usually held back. I was hearing all about other covert operations, but somebody—not Landsdale—had put a lid on Mongoose.”

After the assassination of Jack Kennedy, Ellsberg theorized, “any far reaching investigation into his death would have to lead to many covert operations.” His point was that there was no evidence that the Warren Commission set up to investigate the assassination had done so.

In all of Dan’s many hours of tutoring, as I understood years later, he understood and empathized with my eagerness—even my need—to learn all that I could about his world of secrets and lies, things said out loud and hidden in top-secret documents. And so he happily became my tutor and taught me where and how to look inside the recessed corners of the American intelligence community.

In return, I gave him my friendship and welcomed him into my family. He loved long talks with my wife, a doctor, teaching the kids magic tricks, and playing Billy Joel songs and similar stuff on the piano for them. We all sensed early on that there was a need for him to be an innocent kid, too, if only to serve as a brief respite from his constant anxiety and the guilt he carried in his soul about what his America had done to the Vietnamese people.

Dan was showing me an insider’s love, just as he and Patricia radiated love and acceptance to all their many friends and admirers who, like me, will never forget the lessons he taught us and what we learned.

No way I’m going to wait for him to move along without saying what I want to say right now.

* * *


  1. Marmon March 11, 2023


    Congresswoman [Rep. Sylvia Garcia], how does badgering a non-MAGA, non-Republican journalist to give up a source constitute fighting “Extreme MAGA Republican lies”? Can you please identify something Shellenberger or I said that is extreme, a lie, or a conspiracy theory?

    -Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi

    • Kirk Vodopals March 11, 2023

      Unfortunately Mr. Marmon, soon you will run into the mental chasm of trying to simultaneously support Mr. Taibbi and IL Douche Orangina. Good luck

  2. George Hollister March 11, 2023

    Ed Notes on SVB:

    The collapse of SVB by itself isn’t really that significant, but a symptom of a larger problem. The implications for Silicon Valley as the largest single tax revenue source for funding California government is significant. Positive tax revenues are based on profits, not losses. California’s projected $20 billion budget shortfall could end up being much more than that.

    • Marmon March 11, 2023


      Worse than that, now they won’t have money to give to their democrat politicians. A lot of the Silicon Valley investors also lost lots of money a few months ago thanks to the Sam Bankman-Fried ripoff scam.


      • Harvey Reading March 11, 2023

        These days, reading you, and George, I cannot help busting a gut with laughter. Thank goodness neither of you has a say in any matter of importance… ALL industries should have been socialized long ago, and the stock market, along with its greedy, detestable robber barons, destroyed…

      • George Hollister March 11, 2023

        Good point. Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area are the center of the current Democratic Party in the USA. We will see how this goes.

        • Marmon March 11, 2023

          Elon Musk is ‘open to the idea’ of buying Silicon Valley Bank as he lays Twitter payments groundwork

          “Elon Musk says he’s open to the idea of Twitter buying Silicon Valley Bank, which abruptly failed on Friday, leaving many worried this weekend about what ramifications might unfold next week…”

          Note: Musk got his start when he created PayPal. He understands banking.


          • Marmon March 11, 2023

            In 1999 Zip2 was bought by the computer manufacturer Compaq for $307 million, and Musk then founded an online financial services company,, which later became PayPal, which specialized in transferring money online. The online auction eBay bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion.


  3. Kirk Vodopals March 11, 2023

    Thanks for re-printing my comments Mr. Anderson. In case you’re inclined to do so again soon: my first name is spelled KIRK

  4. Kirk Vodopals March 11, 2023

    Dear Mr. Sackowicz,
    You can Google a lot of things cannabis-related and quickly discover that nothing exists anymore. It’s not just industry groups, cultivators and co-ops. It’s also lawyers, consultants and general charlatans. Whatever happened to the weed Ganjier (dope speak for concierge) Mr. Justin Calvino? He was the darling of the new face of legal weed. Poof! Up in smoke. It’s a general trend in the industry. Like Cheech and Ching said, “this is dogshit, man!”

  5. John Sakowicz March 11, 2023

    Agreed, Kirk Vodopals. Ever since legalization in 2017, cannabis has been a joke. A sick joke. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. Con artists everywhere. Everyone pretending to be an “expert”. Every con artist pitching for investors.

    Also, carpetbaggers and scallywags from outside the Mendocino County, like the ones at Flow Kana, looking to make our local farmers into sharecroppers in a tenant farming system.

    Unfortunately, the casualties are real. So many of Mendocino County’s small farmers have gone out of business. Most were simply supporting their families. Even in the best of times, most weren’t rich. Most were just subsistence farmers just scrapping by.

    The Emerald Triangle is the “Appalachia of the West”. Our poverty statistics are shocking. One in two residents qualify for Food Stamps. One in four qualify for Medi-Cal.

    Our fisheries are fished out. Our forests are clear-cut. We have no manufacturing. We have no tech. We have no research, no science. We have no pear orchards anymore, no walnuts either — no agriculture — except for wine.

    We have no railroad. Our water is exported to Sonoma County.

    You take away cannabis and we have nothing. Nothing except tourism, government employment, and healthcare.

    And that, my friend, is not a diversified economy.

    Tourism, government, and healthcare? Hell, we make nothing!

    We just spend money we don’t have!

    John Sakowicz

    • Kirk Vodopals March 11, 2023

      No doubt that our local economy is in shambles. It’s been one resource extraction or manipulation after another: otters, whales, fisheries, timber, grapes and weed. Luckily a lot of the natural beauty has been preserved or conserved (like a good jam) so that the tourists and big city money continues to flow through Mendoland.
      I’m now seeing many of the mom-and-pop types going back to work at regular jobs. Mostly in our education sector, which is wonderfully in need of staff.
      But many of the so-called “mom-and-pop” weed folks are not your average struggling local folks. They are transplant trust-funders from Argentina and Chicago who have multiple permits and Hannah Nelson in their back pockets. These are the same folks who probably already made to the permit system finish line cuz they were able to grease the wheels.
      It seemed to me that it was very convenient to blame our your problems on the critically inept Mendo County weed government officials when the price of black market ganja was still relatively high. Now that the price (black and white market) is setllung into a more realistic long-term value, then it’s just pathetic and sad to throw all the blame on Nevedal and her band of chronic document misplacers. It’s like all the Mendo liberals blaming their problems on Trump.

    • Stephen Rosenthal March 11, 2023

      Corruption and incompetence exist in many forms at all levels of government, from small town councils to the vast bureaucracy of the Feds. Maybe it’s just me (probably because I read The AVA), but nowhere does it seem more prevalent than in Mendocino County.

      I couldn’t care less about the cannabis industry – big and small – but the US Attorney assigned to this region should dig deep and conduct a thorough investigation into the County’s handling of it. Follow the money.

      The DA’s sweetheart deals and subsequent refusal to release any information as to his department’s “prosecution” of corrupt cops doesn’t pass the smell test.

      The County’s usurious rate to obtain legally mandated access to public records and endless procrastination in releasing them when those fees are paid up front is yet another example.

      I could continue ad infinitum, but as Seinfeld said to George, “Leave on a high note.” Okay, I’m outta here.

  6. Brian Wood March 11, 2023

    Like you, I’m happy at the idea of slowing down traffic through Boonville. But I am surprised that roundabouts were approved by the county without first being reported in local media, and with no public input (that I know of). From the sound of it, the access road to my small neighborhood might be part of a roundabout at Lambert Lane that presumably would include the Boonville Hotel parking access, and Farrer Ln. across the street. It seems it might also have some inpact on the Buckhorn and the ice cream store. Whenever I have to use one of the roundabouts that have appeared in the county in recent years I curse to myself and clench my fingers on the steering wheel. I don’t like them. Another concern is the mention of street lighting associated with the roundabouts. How much new lighting will there be, and will it be shielded to prevent light pollution in surrounding neighborhoods? It doesn’t take much in the way of low clouds or fog to reflect light from existing downtown street lights already.

  7. Stephen Rosenthal March 11, 2023

    Ed Notes: “She said it had been “the worst 18 hours of my life.””

    Tells you all you need to know about rich people.

  8. Chuck Dunbar March 11, 2023


    Seymour Hersh, in tribute to Ellsberg as he comes to the end of his life, tells us the truth about government secrets. It was the truth he learned from Ellsberg, as Ellsberg shared with him his deep knowledge of such.

    Fascinating piece, thanks, AVA.

  9. Jim Armstrong March 11, 2023

    Roundabouts are for controlling traffic at busy intersections, not for traffic “calming.”
    Dumb idea.

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