Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Sunny | Enough | Flooded Highways | Road Workers | Raven | Bullying | AVUSD News | Swehla Honored | Usual Suspects | Road Funding | Albion Bridge | Ed Notes | Lousy Software | Egg Hunt | FEMA Deadline | Bragg CRV | Boonquiz | Ferny | MAC Benefit | PG&E Jokery | Post Quake | Be Prepared | STEAM Expo | Harmon Painting | NJ Bound | Feathers Competent | Katz Meow | Dogz Guide | Arena Discussion | Handley Sale | Small Ton | Beacon Blast | Confusion Dropp | Yesterday's Catch | Salmon Drought | Team Stehr | God Knew | SF Past | Dribbler | Social Security | Evans Photo | Talbot Documentary | Oregon Snow | Bullet Train | Upreel | Disappeared | Shawneetown | Money Changes | Bouton Book | Dem Bizarre | Adulation | Best Picture | 40 Rounds | Woods Queen | Hersh Interview | Ukraine | Swashbuckler | Next Ukraine | Manichean Worldview | Desert Bloom

* * *

DRY WEATHER AND SEASONABLE TEMPERATURES will occur across Northwest California through Friday. Rain will then return to the region this weekend through much of next week. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL (past 24 hours): Yorkville 2.08" - Mendocino 1.75" - Leggett 1.72" - Laytonville 1.47" - Willits 1.55" - Covelo 1.14" - Hopland 1.16" - Ukiah 1.01"

OVER THE PAST SEVEN DAYS Yorkville has received 7.88 inches of rain.

* * *

* * *

HWY. 128 HAS BEEN CLOSED from Flynn Cr. to Hwy. 1 by Navarro River flooding upstream. My guess is that it will remain closed overnight and reopen Wednesday morning.

Also Hwy. 1 is closed north of Point Arena at Miner Hole Rd. due to flooding by the Garcia River. You can look at the view from a CalTrans camera looking north at:

As of 5:15 pm the NWS Navarro River gauge was at 23.54 ft. and was predicted to crest at 24.2 ft. around 6 pm. The official flood stage is 23 ft., when it starts to put water over the highway around the 5 mile marker.  The flow rate was near 12,000 cu. ft. per second.

The rain should be done, for now, with a couple of sunny days forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. Yay!

I measured 3.77" of rain for the 7 days ending Monday, and another 3.38" for the past 24 hours.  That makes a bit over 7" for the past 8 days.

Stay warm and dry and avoid unnecessary travels if you know what's good for you.

— Nick Wilson

* * *



I wanted to give a public THANK YOU to the crews from PG&E and AT&T who responded quickly to the multitude of downed trees on Mountain View Road outside of Boonville after the big snowfall of February 2023. It was impressive how the Faulkner Park area went from a disaster area with broken poles, wires down, and trees everywhere to near normalcy in a few days. Another big THANK YOU to WT and his County crew who were up there that first weekend trying to get local traffic in and out. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I want to acknowledge all the locals who chipped away at the obstacles mother nature had given us. There was an element of comradery which reminded me of how lucky I am to live in this community.

Jeff Pugh


* * *

Raven over turbulent ocean, Mendocino Headlands (Jeff Goll)

* * *


AVES BULLYING has been a reoccurring issue with my 4th grader since the fourth day of the 2021/2022 school year. Since then, I have been at the school, on the phone, or in a lengthy email thread with the Principal and Superintendent at least once a week. I will not go into detail about last year’s bullying incidents because it will take up the entire feed however, I will say that at any point my student said or did anything back (i.e. stood up for himself), he took full responsibility and was held accountable for his actions. The first several incidents, the Principal tried her best, but it only continued. A couple weeks before the 2021/2022 school year ended, we met with the Superintendent and Principal (not the first time) to address bullying and gang issues. We were laughed at to our faces. Until the local little “thugs” decided to tag up the school last summer I had yet to see the words, “bullying” and “gangs” mentioned in the district update emails.

This school year has not been as bad since some of the students moved to higher grades, however there are still a handful of students, and I regret to say, a few staff members, that have either bullied, disrespected, or been incredibly rude to my 4th grader. I cannot vouch for others, however if it is happening to my student, odds are, it is happening to others as well.

These kids do not care, nor do they respect school policies. They do not care about their education, phone calls to their parent, sitting on the bench, being sent to the Principal’s office, and one-two day suspensions. We took it among ourselves to reach out to the parents of one of these students, which helped to an extent. The school may be reaching out to the community/parents for help, but it may be that the only solution is policy change (longer suspensions, expelling, etc.). We can't wait until a student gets severely hurt or we have something similar to the Santa Rosa High School incident, occur.

* * *


I hope you are well. It is so good to see so many parents/guardians at our meetings.  We are grateful for your time and partnership for conferences and PLPs.  We have a remarkable participation record, and that is due to YOU!

Congratulations to the Senior Class for receiving approval from the Board of Trustees for their Senior Trip to Disneyland.  Exciting!  Ms. Cook’s Puerto Rico trip is FINALIZED.   Beth Swehla’s crew is off to Ontario, California for the FFA State Convention, and Arthur Folz is on his way to Ashland with his students.  The elementary is exploding with field trip opportunities including Ms. Pichler heading out to the Coloma Gold Rush experience  I hope you see what our staff is creating for kid post-pandemic.  Everyday away from your kid, is a day away from a staff member’s personal life. They don’t have to do it. They want to do it.  They love and invest in your kids.

Speaking of loving and investing, I wanted to let you know that the District will be rolling out the Stop-It app.   Essentially, this is an anti-bullying reporting mechanism. If a student is in immediate crisis, EMS will be notified. If there is a specific issue to be reported, the site admin will be notified.  We expect to have this finalized right after Spring Break.  The service is available in multiple languages to students, parents, guardians,  and staff.  Here is the website:  Stop It

As a district, we take bullying very seriously.  We value in person and problem-solving in person meetings. If I could change one thing about this district it is the toxic posting that happens on social media.  Real solutions don’t occur from one sided posts where there is no response.  I’ll be straight up.  I can’t respond to social media posts.  That would be unprofessional, inappropriate, and bad for kids.  

Real solutions occur in collaborative dialogue where all parties can sit and visit and share “their realities” and problem solve ideas for solutions.

I urge all families/guardians that want to be part of a solution to join us on Tuesday, April 4 at 5:00 p.m. at the high school library to discuss bullying/drug abuse. We may not agree, but we can be respectful in approach and I know we all value kids. If anyone wants to speak with me directly, my cell phone is (707) 684-1017,   


Sincerely yours,

Louise Simson


* * *


On February 24, 2023, the California FFA, California Farm Bureau and Nationwide recognized Beth Swehla, an agricultural teacher at Anderson Valley High School in Boonville, as a finalist for the 2022-2023 Ag Educator of the Year honor through Nationwide’s Golden Owl Award. As a finalist, Swehla will receive a $500 cash prize and be recognized on stage at the 95th Annual State FFA Leadership Conference in Ontario later this week.

Agricultural educators play a vital part in their communities, dedicating countless hours to equip students for fulfilling careers and help them follow their interests. To honor their contributions and support them with additional resources, Nationwide established the Golden Owl Award in 2018 to recognize outstanding teachers across several states. 

“We see the positive impact that the FFA program has had for many of our members, who have gone on to become leaders in Farm Bureau and in the agriculture community,” stated California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “Our farm and ranch members recognize the efforts of local teachers to support the next generation of agriculturalists.”

Between September 1 and January 23, 2023, the California FFA, California Farm Bureau and Nationwide collected more than 800 nominations for California’s top agricultural teachers from students, parents and community members across the state. Following the recognition of six finalists, a selection committee will honor one finalist as California’s grand prize winner and Ag Educator of the Year. The winner will receive the coveted Golden Owl Award trophy and an additional $3,000 Nationwide-funded check to support the development of their program. 

“California FFA is excited to partner with Nationwide and the California Farm Bureau to honor outstanding agricultural educators and FFA Advisors,” said Charles Parker, State FFA Advisor for California Association, FFA. ”With a record number of teachers being nominated, the six teachers selected as regional winners and state finalists have demonstrated why they are deserving of this recognition. The agricultural education family is honored to have high quality educators who not only provide classroom instruction but also coach students in career and leadership development events and expose students to career opportunities through their participation in supervised experience programs.”

Nationwide supports the future of the agriculture community through meaningful sponsorships of national and local organizations. In conjunction with the Golden Owl Award, Nationwide is donating $5,000 to the California FFA to further support the personal and professional growth of students, teachers and advisors alike.

“As a company deeply rooted in agriculture, we are proud to collaborate with our state partners to recognize outstanding agriculture teachers, who are not only critical to the communities they serve, but also to the farming industry as a whole,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. “We are extremely grateful for the contributions and dedication of these selfless public servants.” 

Learn more about the Golden Owl Awards and past honorees on Nationwide’s website.

* * *

* * *

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: Mendocino County road crews are spread thin. They currently are working 12-hour days to clear down trees on Usal Rd in the Whale Gulch school area to make the road wide enough to allow emergency vehicles and parents access to the school. 

Fort Bragg crews assisted with snow removal in the Bell Springs and Spy Rock area on 1960s dozers.

Boonville and Point Arena crews continue to open roads and will be starting on Fishrock Rd with assistance from CAL Fire inmate crews next Monday.

With the heavy rains and strong winds forecast for tomorrow, crews will once again be busy opening culverts and dealing with down trees. Potholes, while a nuisance (and in my view, a safety hazard) remedy will have to wait until crews have a chance to come up for air. 

Our current Department of Transportation situation is not sustainable. It’s time to fund the basic services that the public expects. Fire, roads, and law enforcement. Every county resident uses a county road to get to work, school, medical appointments and other life necessities each day and expects maintenance on their road.

With the reduced crew size the department cannot provide the services the public expects. Crews will make every effort to fill the worst of the worst potholes as soon as possible.

The needed course correction can only come through the leadership of county Supervisors. The annual budget process is approaching. I hope you’ll be part of the conversation and guide us in balancing competing priorities.


Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams fired this email into a crowd of unsuspecting people:

"Our current Department of Transportation situation is not sustainable. It’s time to fund the basic services that the public expects. Fire, roads, and law enforcement. Every county resident uses a county road to get to work, school, medical appointments and other life necessities each day and expects maintenance on their road."

Sounds like he is grooming us for another tax hike.

Recall that trusting voters waaaay back in November approved the continuation of an expiring sales tax added to support libraries and fire districts. And that the County balanced its budget last year by redirecting Covid relief money, all $16 million of it, from small businesses for whom it was intended, into the General Fund.

Not good enough says Ted! If you want the County to provide you with basic services for which you are already paying, he says we need to cough up some more money. Of course, they will be super careful with this money once they get their books in order.

Just like tech firms are looking for a bailout to cover their losses when SVB went belly up, Mr. Williams is looking for you to bail out the County to compensate for their ongoing financial mismanagement.

— John Redding

* * *

Bridge across the Albion River, circa 1865

* * *


TUESDAY MORNING BEGAN with this encouraging headline: “Credit Suisse shares fall to all-time low as the world's seventh largest investment bank announces it has found ‘material weakness’ - just hours after Wall Street experts predicted that it would be the next to fail after SVB.”

LATER in the day, various experts chimed in to say the “system” was stable, the Brits bought SVB for a token dollar and the feds were guaranteeing deposits, not the rest of the tottering apparatus.

ONLY ONE member of Silicon Valley Bank's board of directors had experience in investment banking; while the others were major Democratic donors. Tom King, 63, was appointed to the board in September after previously serving as the CEO of investment banking at Barclay's. He has had 35 years of experience in investment banking. But he is the only person on the board with experience in the financial industry. Others are a former Obama administration employee, a prolific contributor to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even a Hillary Clinton mega-donor who prayed at a Shinto shrine when Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. 

COME, TAKE MY HAND as we part the mists of time. It's 1947 and little Bruce Anderson's 4th Grade class is walking down the street to the neighborhood Bank of America. A smiling man in a suit and tie explains to us that if we put one dollar in a BofA savings account, he will take that dollar, and all the dollars people put in his bank, and loan it to people like my neighbor, Vito Virzi, so Vito, later revealed as a wheelman for an organized crime family, can buy a house. “But your dollars, boys and girls, will become two dollars in one year.” We all forked over and got our little passbooks. 

ALL THESE YEARS LATER, I'm still puzzled that the bank manager cited Vito Virzi as a person helped by the miracle of usury. I happened to know Vito. A handsome young man who seemed the very apex of glamour, he was unfailingly nice to little kids in a time and a place children were mostly regarded as pests, rather like oversize mosquitos. I knew him because he lived next door with his parents, people from the old country. The old man lived in the basement, his wife upstairs. They kept a cow in the backyard. We loved hearing them argue in their mellifluous, operatic Italian, each sentence seeming to end in a musical note. The neighborhood called Vito ‘Two Wheel Johnny’ because he always seemed to take the corners at a tire-squealing speed. Either he or one of his brothers, as I dimly recall, was killed in a mob shooting in San Francisco, and I've always hoped it wasn't Vito. 

GENERALLY CONSIDERED, Tuesday's atmospheric river didn't live up to its hype. There was rain a bunch, enough to close 128 as the Navarro spilled its banks at the usual places about 2pm. There was very little wind, at least here in the bucolic Anderson Valley. We’ve heard that the County’s northcoast got hit harder, however.

R. LORENZO ROTA WRITES: Thanks for your timely piece about supplemental property tax bills! I had just got off the phone earlier from chatting with the Tax Collector and Assessor because I was wondering where was my supplemental tax bill from a home purchase last year. No one had a clue how much I owed or when the bill would go out, or what the payment terms would be. (??) I have never experienced this in any other California county. Every other county, I'd get a supplemental tax bill later in the year or the first quarter of the following year. I was told the new system isn’t working yet and no one knows when it will work. I don't know what to say, I'm not a financial or text expert. Is it that complex??

ED NOTE: Welcome to Mendo, Mr. Rota, an odd jurisdiction, where things aren't what they seem. You've stepped behind The Green Curtain, which falls just north of Cloverdale, where a sort of rural twilight zone commences. Good luck to you.

A READER WRITES: You are a consumer of science fiction; I not so much (but I dig it). I submit an entry for The Shortest Science-Fiction Story of All Time: “The reconnaissance people poked around in the rubble and sent the following message back to the mother ship: ‘Apparently a natural-selection experiment here with an enlarged cerebral cortex was a failure’.” I wait upon your opinion.

ED NOTE: Seldom read SciFi, but you've written a good one.

ON THE SUBJECT of jabrones, a reader notes: The Boont term for jabroni is deejer. (Have never been real clear on the spelling.) The word got a lot of use in my household to describe those who were jerks, creeps, nasty. When my daughter went off to college and used the word deejer she was surprised to discover it wasn't standard English in use everywhere. Her friends all learned at least one Boontling word! Plenty of use for it still! 

* * *

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS’ LATEST bogus “Get Cubbison” effort fizzled again at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting when all the staffers involved had reasonable explanations for the delays in sending out “supplemental tax bills,” largely along the lines described yesterday by retired Tax Collector Shari Schapmire. Most of the problem stems from data incompatibilities between the complicated but decades old property tax system and the new even more complicated “Aumentum” property tax system, exacerbated by bad timing/covid, bad data assumptions and errors by the software vendor, and chronic understaffing. The one question that unfortunately wasn’t asked by anybody was how much has this overpromised but underperforming software vendor has been paid so far. Because if they’ve been paid in full, Mendo may indeed by stuck with a new system that, even if they end up patching it up with lots of extra staff work, isn’t worth what they paid for it and they have very little leverage to get the vendor to pay attention to the remaining problems.

(Mark Scaramella)

* * *

* * *


FEMA Registration Deadline Fast Approaching for December to January Winter Storms Disaster

Mendocino County residents impacted by the December to January storms (FEMA-4683-DR) must register with FEMA by March 16, 2023, to be eligible for individual and household assistance. 

The FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in Mendocino have now closed, but residents can still register for assistance with FEMA! 

Registering with FEMA is as easy as a phone call to 800-621-3362. The FEMA Hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is staffed by multilingual operators. If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, you must provide FEMA with the specific number assigned for your service. You can also register through or the FEMA mobile app.

The deadline to apply for a loan from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is also March 16, 2023.

To apply for SBA online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications, go to You may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email for more information.

Please Note: This FEMA registration deadline is ONLY for the disaster that occurred from 12/27/22 to 01/31/23. The more recent February Snow Disaster does not currently include individual assistance as the County awaits FEMA determination. Please report damages from the February storms to support a request for individual assistance by visiting the following link:

* * *

* * *


Yes, folks, the Third Thursday of the month is almost upon us and that means The General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz will take place at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn in Boonville beginning at 7pm on Thursday March 16th. As the Quiz is on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, and there are five Thursdays this March, after this week’s Quiz there will not be another until the 1st Thursday in April, that's the 6th. Hope to see you soon.

Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster

* * *

Fern covered rock, Hendy Woods (photo mk)

* * *


Support the MENDOCINO ART CENTER, come to the benefit DINE-OUT on Thursday March 23 at the LITTLE RIVER INN. Have a delicious dinner from their extensive menu. 5-8 pm. Call for Reservations (707) 937-5942. support mac! Please invite your friends!

Leona Walden

* * *


[1] We didn’t have power for 2 weeks, pge kept saying “power will be restored today by 11:00 pm” for 9 consecutive days. Occasionally I would call and ask if they have an accurate estimate, and the person would say today by 11. I would tell them that I am looking at a downed tree across the road, severed lines, and 2 feet of snow on the road and that you said the same thing yesterday. They would say I’m sorry sir, that’s the most up to date information I have. I would ask if there is anyone within 50 miles of me who I can speak to that knows what is actually going on around here and they would say no. I asked if they seriously didn’t have a phone number for anyone in Humboldt to call, and they again said no.

A PGE contractor finally sent out 2 guys to check the lines on foot. They had to turn around because 1 only had rain boots and the other had cotton pants and ankle high work boots. One was from LA and had never even seen snow. They were given wimpy cable style chains to put on their truck and didn’t even know how to use them.

Pge would be a funny joke, except it really hasn’t been funny at all over the last several years.

[2] This has become a big problem with our government, they seem to think if they just write it down it magically becomes real. I wonder how I’m going to charge all my electric vehicles, electric chainsaws and power my all electric house when I can’t even get a power hookup. The closest pole to me is almost 2 mi away. They wanted my dad to pay almost $70,000 back in 82 to run power to his house which is down the road from mine, I would imagine it would be several hundred thousand dollars now.

The sad thing is with my solar panels and my backup gas generator, my gas chainsaws and my gas car I’m probably still more carbon neutral then most people that live in cities and they’re going to take that away from me under the guise of saving the environment, lol.

Just like over regulating our production industry until we’re buying products from a third world country that has no EPA standards at all. Or restricting our coal and oil development to the point where we have to buy oil from third world countries that have no EPA standards at all, who don’t think twice about dumping millions of gallons of oil a year into ground reservoirs or burning it because it’s too dirty to refine cheaply, what a f****** joke.

* * *

Fort Bragg after the 1906 earthquake

* * *


I hope this storm event has taught people to be more prepared. Many of the rescues were due to people not being prepared. If you live in the mountains, you should have enough firewood and food to get through the entire winter, because you never know, and sometimes you’re on your own, and no one can help you or even get to you. If you can’t do that, you should live in town.

* * *


The 37th Annual Mendocino County Science and Engineering Fair & S.T.E.A.M Expo is calling all families and science enthusiasts to come together for a day of fun and learning. The event aims to showcase and reward the achievements of 3rd through 12th grade Mendocino County student scientists, promoting and encouraging their interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M).

Taking place on March 18th from 10 AM until 3 PM at Mendocino College, admission is free for all. This year’s Science and Engineering Fair has expanded to include a S.T.E.A.M. Expo, centered on the theme of “Mendocino Resilience.” Visitors will enjoy a student art gallery, participate in hands-on activities for all ages, and explore informational booths from educators, students, and community organizations.

Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools Nicole Glentzer said, “As a parent, I'm always looking for fun activities to do with my children, and the Science Fair’s S.T.E.A.M. Expo is the perfect activity for families to enjoy together. Families can come and take part in games and interactive activities and see amazing student work on display.”

Student projects will be judged during the Fair, culminating in an awards ceremony at 4:00 PM. This ceremony will announce Mendocino County students who qualify to advance to the 72nd California Science & Engineering Fair, held virtually on April 11th.

MCOE Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services, Kim Kern, emphasized the importance of the event, saying, “This Fair is such an exciting and inspiring annual event. Opportunities for students to practice and share problem-solving and inquiry-based learning are incredibly valuable. Science and engineering are portals to the future.”

The Science and Engineering Fair & S.T.E.A.M. Expo is made possible through the support of Mendocino College and the Mendocino County education community, community organizations, and businesses who recognize the importance of promoting science education and opportunities for students.

“Mendocino College faculty and staff are excited to host the MCOE Science Fair. We believe introducing kids to STEAM programs early, and welcoming them to the college campus, opens doors for them to pursue a future in the sciences,” said Rebecca Montes, Dean of Instruction at Mendocino College. “We hope to see them back on campus as Mendo students in a few years!”

For more information about the event, please visit the Mendocino County Office of Education’s event website:

* * *

MIKE GENIELLA: A Glimpse Of Mendocino County, painting by Annie Lyle Harmon (1855-1930).

Harmon was the daughter of early lumber merchant Samuel Harmon, who with some partners launched a milling operation at Gualala on the Mendocino Coast to supply the San Francisco Bay Area with wood products. Daughter Annie Lyle Harmon became a student of famed landscape artist William Keith and worked in his studio for many years. Her brother married Keith’s daughter. This painting is dated 1897. It was recently auctioned in Sacramento.

* * *


(Tax breaks for pot permit applicants)

To the Board: 

This is a no-brainer. Vote to approve. High taxes for farmers have reached the level of “an extinction event”. As wholesale prices plummet to a low of $300 per pound, many of us are us moving out of Mendocino County. I am starting a farm in New Jersey. Those who remain in the county are going bankrupt or they're growing for the black market.

If the business argument isn't enough to convince you to lower permit taxes, think of lower taxes as a "social equity measure". Most cannabis farmers are subsistence farmers just trying to support their families.

John Sakowicz 


* * *


by Colin Atagi

Edward Two Feathers Steele is charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 13-month-old boy. He was found dead near railroad tracks last year.|

Defense concerns about the competency of a Ukiah man charged in the death of a 13-month-old boy, who was found dead last year near railroad tracks in the city, are unfounded, a Mendocino County judge has ruled.

Questions about whether Edward Two Feathers Steele would be able to help in his own defense were raised by his attorney on Feb. 15 during an appearance in Mendocino County Superior Court.

 However, according to court records, after reviewing the results of Steele’s medical evaluation, Judge Victoria Shanahan ruled on Friday that he is competent and there are no grounds to suspend the ongoing criminal proceedings in his case.

The matter was continued to April 28 to schedule a preliminary hearing, which may take place as early as May 5.

Steele, who pleaded not guilty in September, is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 3 death of the infant whose body was discovered in the 300 block of Brush Street in Ukiah.

The site is in a small industrial area between North State Street and Highway 101. The railroad tracks run north and south and are flanked by businesses.

The boy’s 2-year-old brother, who was also found a short distance away, was hospitalized. Steele is also charged with child cruelty in this case.

According to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Steele was dating the children’s mother and they had an argument early Aug. 2 in the 1700 block of North State Street.

Deputies arrested the mother on suspicion of domestic violence and battery, and Steele retrieved the children, who were with a babysitter at a Motel 6 on North Street.

Investigators previously said deputies had been told a babysitter was with the boys. Also, because the children were not present during the arrest, child protective services was not called.

The mother was later released. Around 1:30 p.m. Aug. 3, she called 911 and said her children were missing.

Just before 4 p.m. that day, a passerby found the older child, who was taken to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Hospital for life-threatening injuries.

The younger sibling was found nearby and pronounced dead at the scene.

Steele was identified as a person of interest and members of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians reported on Aug. 4 that he’d been spotted on the Hopland Rancheria.

His public defender, Jan Cole-Wilson, told Shanahan last month her client only talked about surveillance footage investigators believe shows him on the night of the child’s death.

She said at the time that he appeared incapable of assisting in his defense and suggested he was not competent.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

* * *



Several local Mendocino papers have recently published a letter from Jim Shields titled ‘Outside Media Gets Mendo Weed Woes Wrong (As Usual).’ Unfortunately neither Mr. Shields nor the papers reached out to either Michael Katz or Hannah Nelson who were both mentioned in the letter to verify the statements made, and several inaccuracies were included. MCA is choosing to respond to Mr. Shields’ letter in order to correct those inaccuracies and provide some additional information for the public, especially at this critical time for our locally licensed cannabis operators. Recent articles in the Lost Coast Outpost, Cal Matters and the Ukiah Daily Journal clearly illustrate the socioeconomic decline that is impacting our rural community. These fact based articles point to the need to act fast to minimize the damage and reverse this decline before it is too late.

First, Michael Katz is not a ‘paid lobbyist’ for the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance (MCA). A lobbyist in California is defined by the Fair Political Practices Commission as ‘an individual who is compensated to communicate directly with any state, legislative or agency official to influence legislative or administrative action on behalf of his or her employer or client.’ The term ‘lobbyist’ is almost certainly being used by Mr. Shields in a derogatory fashion, but Katz is in fact the Executive Director of MCA; hired to support this trade association with over 120 members advocating for the fair treatment of small cannabis businesses in Mendocino County. The mission of MCA is to serve and promote Mendocino County’s world-renowned cannabis cultivators and businesses through sustainable economic development, education and public policy initiatives

Mr. Shields further incorrectly identified Hannah Nelson as MCA’s lawyer. Ms. Nelson has an impressive 30 plus years’ history of advocacy and litigation concerning cannabis issues, including having previously served on the MCA Board, Policy Committee and as Senior Policy Advisor. However she does not currently, and has not in the past, provided either pro bono or paid legal services to the organization. 

Independently, Ms. Nelson has written a series of memos dealing with the legal and practical implications of the Mendocino Cannabis Department’s (MCD) sudden and unjust Vegetation Modification letters. In each memo, and in working with the Ad Hoc and Staff through the summer of 2022, she provided clear analysis and proposed practical ways to deal with issues of proof and standards of evidence for new allegations of prohibited tree removal that suddenly surfaced so many years after the ordinance was enacted and applications were submitted. More recently, she collaborated with Ellen Drell and the Willits Environmental Center (WEC) to ensure both due process and common sense were adhered to in dealing with Vegetation Modification issues. This letter clearly demonstrates that both the environmental community and cannabis business advocates believe that the way MCD dealt with this issue was unreasonable, and provides a concrete and legally defensible method, supported by WEC and Ms. Nelson, for the County to move our locally licensed operators stuck in this purgatorial program forward.

As to Mr. Shields’ claim that we have been ‘actively engaged..with the development of the unworkable ordinance’ - it is technically false and substantively does not tell the whole story. Members of MCA, prior to our formation in 2019, and the organization since then, have been quite vocal in the public sphere providing practical solutions to the challenges of developing and implementing local cannabis policy. These recommendations have included everything from file management systems to the structure of the Local Equity Program, and even a line-by-line proposal for ordinance revisions to better align with state law. We firmly believe that if these and many more of our recommendations had been adopted and implemented over the last several years we as a community would be in a much better position today. 

The most recent of the ‘working groups’ Mr. Shields refers to, and yes there have been several, occurred throughout the course of 2022 in an attempt to address the significant challenges reported by applicants with the management of the Department’s permit review and grant programs. This group included the Cannabis Ad Hoc committee (at the time Supervisors Haschak and McGourty), several members of the local stakeholder and consultant community including MCA, Hannah Nelson, the MCD, the CEO’s office, County Counsel’s office and State agencies. After many months of meetings, the Ad Hoc brought a list of 12 recommendations to the full Board in October 2022 which MCA fully supported. Most significant procedural and operational recommendations related to the management and oversight of MCD were rejected by the full Board.

Conditions have become so dire on the ground that MCA recently sent a letter to the Governor and the Director of the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) calling for state intervention to provide support. MCA is currently working with our State and Federal advocacy organization Origins Council in engaging the DCC, the Legislature and the Governor's Office regarding this licensing crisis.

We understand that there are likely thousands of unregulated cultivation sites operating in Mendocino. Estimates have ranged anywhere from 6,000 - 10,000. However, those unregulated cultivation sites have not been working with the County and State for the last 6 years to achieve regulatory compliance. They are not subject to the regulations that have still not resulted in the issuance of Annual Licenses required to keep Mendocino County farmers in the regulated legal marketplace. 

The February 18, 2023 SF Gate article by Lester Black, referenced by Mr. Shields, accurately describes the situation for licensees remaining in the regulated program who are in danger of being statutorily removed from California’s legal cannabis market through no fault of their own, in stark contrast to the promises made to them when they agreed to participate. The number of licensed farmers in Mendocino County mentioned in the article refers to those that stepped forward to enter the regulated cannabis program, and who still remain. As of 2020 there were about 1200 active permit applications operating in Mendocino. Per recent data from MCD as of December there were around 850. In a document provided to the Board of Supervisors on December 13, 2022, MCD stated that “the cannabis department estimates there will be approximately 200-300 farms that make it to annual licensing at the state level.’ That’s only 25% of the farmers who began this process in good faith.

The Vegetation Modification debacle that Mr. Shields refers to is in fact a new issue despite its inclusion in the ordinance. The ordinance contains an exception to the Tree Removal prohibition for ‘disease and safety concerns’ under which operators could remove trees. However MCD refused to give meaningful life to those important exceptions. In conjunction with County Counsel, they instead threatened applicants with permit denial and demanded unreasonable standards of proof never conceived in the ordinance or communicated over the last 6+ years. Some applicants who received Vegetation Modification letters threatening denial of their permits had even previously been inspected. 

Many of these applicants had in fact been following instructions from CalFire when addressing safety concerns, but the County has been trying to disregard the intent of the exception quoted above to remove applicants from the program. Once this became clear, the advocacy community jumped into action and objected on due process grounds with a letter to MCD Director Kristin Nevedal, which led to a halt in the planned denials. We are grateful to the Willits Environmental Center and Hannah Nelson for coming together to address this important issue which still remains unresolved.

Today, more than ever, we as a community must come together and support the stability, survival and equal treatment of our small licensed cannabis farmers. Our rural community is a delicate ecosystem that has historically relied on the financial contributions of the cannabis community. This reliance continues to this day, and as of May 2022 the county reported that the regulated cannabis program brought in $8 million more than projected in tax revenue. Additionally, according to the 2020 County Crop Report Cannabis Addendum, licensed Mendocino County cannabis generated $131 Million of economic activity on 290 acres of canopy. Compare that to $81 Million in economic activity generated from wine grapes on 16,000 acres. What we see is that cannabis can create an incredible amount of value on a miniscule scale. Local cannabis businesses also spend money locally on goods and services which in turn supports other local businesses. With a stable regulatory environment in Mendocino County providing a foundation from which our licensed craft cannabis farmers can grow, we can get back there again. 

The good news is that Mendocino cannabis is still recognized as some of the best craft product available anywhere, bringing home 11 awards at last years California State Fair, and appreciated around the world as a true craft product of place. With our reputation for quality already secure, we must stabilize the licensed cultivators who helped establish that reputation so their businesses can thrive and they can continue contributing to our local economy. 

There are some glimmers of hope on the horizon for our local licensees in the form of Tax Reform recommendations from the General Government Committee of Supervisors Haschak and Mulheren, but it will fall on the full Board to move those proposals forward. In the context of the extortive taxes and fees to operate in the regulated cannabis market at the local and State levels in California, IRS Code 280e at the Federal level, which prohibits cannabis businesses from writing off all business expenses except Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), and the major regulated cannabis market crash, this tax reform will be essential to keeping as many of our locally licensed operators in the regulated market as possible. Doing this ultimately benefits our local community in numerous ways from adherence to environmental compliance to the generation of future tax revenue. 

While many of the challenges our locally licensed cannabis businesses face exist due to regulations on the state level, there is still plenty that can be done locally by the Board of Supervisors, County Counsel and MCD to help move the process along rather than putting up roadblocks. We hope everyone reading this, including Mr. Shields, will join us in urging the Board of Supervisors to act swiftly in conjunction with the stakeholder community to protect this invaluable economic resource. The full Board can be reached via email at

We encourage anyone reading this who supports a sustainable future for Mendocino County’s licensed legacy cannabis cultivators to reach out to us for information on how they can help. Learn more about MCA at our website


Mendocino Cannabis Alliance



We hesitate to reply to Mendocino Cannabis Alliance’s Michael Katz’s recent letter directed at Mendocino Observer Editor Jim Shields. Shields was responding to a SF Chronicle cannabis reporter’s dubious summary of Katz’s complaint letter to the State Cannabis Department about Mendo’s failed pot permit program.

Katz complains about a couple of “inaccuracies,” i.e., quibbles, saying he’s “not a paid lobbyist” and that attorney Hannah Nelson is not MCA’s lawyer, but she “previously served on the MCA Board, Policy Committee and as Senior Policy Advisor.”


The core of Katz’s complaint is that he and his organization are not “actively engaged with the development of the unworkable ordinance.” 

That’s funny, because at almost every Board of Supervisors discussion of the “unworkable ordinance,” Katz and Nelson comment on it, suggesting minor ways to improve it. Most of these suggestions have been ignored by the Supervisors. But the MCA assumption that a few tweaks here and there could magically make Mendo’s pot permit program “workable” is itself a form of acceptance of the unworkable ordinance.

Katz and Co. are welcome to their rosy outlook despite the many obvious contra-indicators. But Shields is more than justified in his view that such unsupported assumptions about the eventual success of the County’s failed pot permit program constitutes participation in it.

Toward the end of his comment, Katz refers to “glimmers of hope,” and says there’s “still plenty that can be done locally by the Board of Supervisors, County Counsel and MCD to help move the process along rather than putting up roadblocks.”

Most people who are not “actively engaged” with Mendo’s “unworkable ordinance” consider that view ridiculous. A few more minor suggestions about how to fix a fundamentally failed ordinance, especially when history shows that most of them will be ignored, is just prolonging the pain. It’s too little; too late. Mendo’s Pot Permit Ordinance remains unworkable. 

PS. The only real opportunity Mendo had to fix the unworkable ordinance was back in 2021 when the Board proposed switching to a use-permit approach but without a two-acre hard cap as recommended by the Planning Commission. We don’t recall MCA pushing for that method of pot permit handling or urging the Supes to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation to avoid the counter-measure signature gathering effort that ultimately caused the Supes to drop it instead of simply including the acreage cap.

PPS. Not a word from Katz & Co. about the Cannabis Department’s red-ink finances and how much money the County’s bloated pot bureaucracy is costing the County and the taxpaying public.

* * *

* * *


Monthly meeting: April 5, 2023, 4:45 @ Coast Community Library, 225 Main St., Point Arena

We’ll have a conversation about public resources that were supportive during and after the winter storms and those that didn’t meet our expectations. This information will help us address issues with the public agencies that we count on to help us out in an emergency. Update on: acquiring a Red Cross trailer to be located in the city & on Fire Safe grants for emergency preparedness. Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to live in Point Arena to participate.

For more information and/or to get on the fire safe point arena email list:

* * *


30% off for Cellar Club Members | 20% off for Non-Cellar Club on three selected wines: 2018 Riesling ~ 2017 Ranch House Red ~ 2017 Petite Sirah

Discount applies to 12 bottles or more of this selection of 3 wines. Members use coupon code: FLOOD30; Non-Members use coupon code: FLOOD20

Sale Ends 11:59pm PST Monday, March 20th. Click our SHOP link in bio. And enjoy the rain!!!

* * *


Hello Friends! My name is Jon Tyson. I moved to Anderson Valley in January of 2022.

I am offering IT and Music services/skills, for hire *or* for trade. All serious offers will be considered!

I have 30 years of experience building software systems, and along the way, I have learned a small ton about:

* Applications: Excel/spreadsheets, word processing, email, QuickBooks, Photoshop

* Software: designing & building software systems

* Hardware: computers, phones, physical & virtual servers

* Networks: internet, home, office

I am a musician, involved in the projects below, which are all active and performing in Mendo and the broader Bay Area:

* Live Band Karaoke SF: your guests become the lead singer of our fun & friendly band (electric or acoustic)

* What the Folk: acoustic duet, playing a mix of covers and originals

* Stakes Are Low: acoustic quartet; fun, upbeat, interesting covers with 4 lead singers

* Cancel Your Memberships: acoustic quartet; playing the second favorite songs from your third favorite bands

* Jeff Moss and the Cruise Control: electric rock band with dueling guitars and horns; all locals party band

* Burning Down the House: Talking Head Tribute

* Audio Gear & Audio Engineering: gear and experience to amplify your event

Examples of past trades:

* Help with creating electronic invoices for a small business, in return for construction assistance 

* Music for wine event, in return for dinner, lodging, and wine

Examples of skills I'm interested in:

* Carpentry

* Handy-person Skills

* Mowing/Weed Whacking

* Housecleaning

* And many more!

Reach out to me here, via Direct Message, if you are interested; let me know what you need and perhaps what you would offer in return. Let's see if we can help each other out.

ED NOTE: We, like many other older readers of this message, have no idea how to reach Mr. Tyson by “direct message.” It might have to do with facebook, so maybe try there.

* * *


A little blast from the past 1966, Curtis Barry Senior, and myself, working on the site where the community center now sits and elk,

Flora Buchanan donated the land, the Daniels and Ross sawmill, let us use a big dump truck to haul rock onto the site beacon and Ross timber products own the road grader that Mr. Barry is driving, the Greenwood Ranch company loaned us a bulldozer to spread the rock out, and over the years we had raised sufficient amount of money through donations, and creative marketing of the use of abalone properties to raise dollars to help build the facility, truly a community event that was supposed to be the memorial firehouse and community center, but a lot of new people moved in to the neighborhood and changed all the plants, one interesting fact the new people never bothered to thank the true old-timers for their efforts, even today when people work on projects such as the last of that last year, no thanks was given to the people that work so hard to make a great deal of money to getting donations and things for the raffle it seems to be, the bad habit of the newcomers that they think they don't have to appreciate what others do for the, yet if it wasn't for the old-timers that put the sweat and tears into building the building and making sure that it was paid for, no debt afterward not like other places in the county when they build a building that have a mortgage, it seems like the city people are used to not saying thank you to anybody for great work that was done, in the old days some 50+ years ago people used to roll up their sleeves without being paid to work on the waterworks and to do other events and in those days gone by somebody would buy us a drink and even a little food and you get a thank you from the community, they don't do that anymore it is sad that our little town and its old-time residents are kicked to the curb with no appreciation, even for the Great Day in Elk if it had been for locals creating it, it would not exist today yet, the community center giggles all the way to the bank on the backs of the longtime locals without saying thank you we are saddened by the lack of respect that the newcomers don't give the old-timers, we look upon the wall to see who's there she do not see the locals that actually worked on the project you see Walter J Matson, who was head of the water department but you don't see Joe Conway, nor do you see William Crane, or the judge Lester McMasters a long time people do not appear on the wall they are not thanked or even appreciated for their efforts that Mary Berry, for many years help keep the St. Patrick's of that a lot that people who were the shakers and movers, of helping a place come to life do not appear on the wall things like the fire department in elk were born out of necessity and the fact they had a fire in town in 1956 that nearly took the town out the sawmill stepped up to the plate and you'll get equipment, the same year the Ross family donated the waterworks to what became the elk County water District to improve things in the community, yet we do not see their photos on the wall, that Mr. Daniels of the Daniels and Ross lumber company helped put in the new water lines replacing the old wood mainline and found and worked hard to improve the condition of the community yet we do not see his photo on the wall of the community center, newcomers people little moved into the area and not contribute a great deal to the fabric of the community the boards and commissions within the community, are not made of old-time locals but of new people with ideas that we learn to live without is a true meaning of the country environment is to preserve the history, keep the historical families involved in the community and maintain, the integrity and the loyalty to the community.

* * *


Frank Hartzell wrote: This is a very interesting and worrisome issue. I wrote dozens of articles for geology, engineering and construction magazines about the Confusion Hill washouts...

Marco McClean: I had an elderly geology teacher who had been a real road engineer for most of his career (he started in the Depression) before getting into what he called the education racket. He talked about strata, and how rocks and dirt and hillsides work, and showed diagrams of layers of different materials, and made models of different kinds of dirt and rocks, without water at first and then with, between sheets of plastic on a pivot-thing he'd built, tipping it this way and that, and then he showed pictures of a place where young engineers in the early 1970s had directed roadworkers and machines to fill in a hillside with rocks to widen a section of Highway 80 in the Sierras after he wrote and called and told them not to do it that way there. The next picture was the whole thing all slid out from under just five years later. And the picture after that was the same section of road after they'd repaired it by filling it the same way with the same kind of rocks and putting the road back on top, expecting it to somehow stay fixed this time. I said, "Did you tell them again?" He said, "Everybody told them again."

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Angel, Cook, Duenas, Faahs

BERNARDO ANGEL-MOLINERO, Clearlake/Ukiah. Domestic battery, vandalism, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)

FRANCISCO DUENAS, Gualala. Court order violation with priors, probation revocation.

LOGAN FAAHS-STEWART, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Figg, Lane, Lopez

AMANDA FIGG-HOBLYN, Willits. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

CHRISTOPHER LANE, Lakeport/Ukiah. Vandalism.


Pearson, Pellegrine, Peters

ADAM PEARSON, Ukiah. Burglary, willful sounding of false alarm, disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.

JAMES PELLEGRINE, Ukiah. Suspended license for DUI, failure to appear.

MERLIN PETERS, Ukiah. Touching intimate parts of another against their will.

Powell, Villela, Walsh

JESSE POWELL, Ukiah. Unspecified offense.

JOSE VILLELA, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Asault with deadly weapon not a gun with great bodily injury, criminal threats, failure to appear.

JASON WALSH, Cotati/Ukiah. Parole violation.

* * *


Despite the state’s abundant rain, the current fishable salmon were born during the drought, and there aren't many of them.

by Claire Hao

Commercial salmon fishing will be closed for the 2023 season off of all of California’s marine and inland waters as well as off of most of the Oregon coast for the second time in history and for the first time since 2008. 

The decision, which will be finalized next month, was made due to low numbers of adult and 2-year-old jack salmon because of the lack of water available to them in Central Valley rivers, according to a press release from the Golden State Salmon Association, an advocacy coalition. 

Upstream “dam operations favoring agriculture over salmon survival” have devastated salmon populations in Central Valley rivers, the release said. Hot water left over after dam releases for agriculture have killed incubating salmon eggs, and releases of water in the spring required to wash baby salmon out of the Central Valley have been diverted or withheld, the release said.

“Those of us that depend on salmon have lost our livelihoods completely this year, and potentially next year,” said commercial salmon troller Sarah Bates in the release. “Aside from the economic impacts to our ports, communities and families, we are heartbroken at the condition of our ecosystems and frustrated at the colossal mismanagement of our public water resources.”

The salmon population along the Pacific Coast has dropped to its lowest point in 15 years. Though California has received a lot of rain and snow this winter, the current population of salmon in the ocean was born in 2020, at the beginning of the state’s ongoing record-breaking drought. 

The main constraints on the season are the “severely low forecasts” for Klamath River fall chinook and Sacramento River fall chinook salmon, according to a press release from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the entity that manages sport and commercial salmon fishing.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council adopted proposals to close the season on Friday. The council will meet in early April to procedurally finalize the closure.

* * *


Aham Brahmasmi

Awoke early at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in Ukiah, California, and following morning ablutions, walked to Plowshares Peace and Justice Center for a sumptuous, free meal served by those dedicated Catholic Workers. Took an MTA bus to the library, and am presently on computer #5 tap, tap, tapping away. Identified with the Immortal Atman (Pure Spirit) and not the body and not the mind. Here. Now. Every morning taking the blood pressure and hypertension pills which the cardiovascular department of Adventist Health prescribed. The heart monitor is on for two weeks, which will be mailed in to the lab soon. The pulmonary situation is much better; am presently sucking on a Mucinex cough drop. 

I would like to leave Mendocino county and go forth to engage in spiritually based direct action, for the purpose of destroying the demonic, particularly from the view of radical environmentalism and attenuating peace & justice. I am seeking others to team up with on the planet earth. Please comprehend that I am indeed grateful for the past year of relative ease and survivability here in northern California. Many afternoons have been spent just sitting on a bench doing absolutely nothing, watching the passing show. I'm not sure what the value is of becoming adept at doing nothing; maybe the zen buddhists can explain it, but I am ready to move on. It is time for all of us to intervene in history. Here. Now. 

Aham Brahmasmi:

Craig Louis Stehr

* * *

* * *


by Jonah Raskin

In a city that honors the new and newness, islands of the past disappear almost every day. In spanking new neighborhoods like Dogpatch, where glass and steel buildings tower over the streets, the past hardly exists. Elsewhere, too, history has been effaced. Alas, the San Francisco Art Institute is no more. The famed school, known locally and globally as SFAI, shuttered last year. No classes are held on the campus. But the elastic, indomitable spirit of the place at 800 Chestnut Street lives all across The City, and wherever graduates have set down roots and are making art, which is all over the world.

On the afternoon of Sunday, March 26, 2023, at the Minnesota Street Project on Minnesota, of course, lovers and friends of SFAI will gather to celebrate the institution and its colorful history as one of the oldest art schools in the US. Founded in 1871, and formerly known as the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA),it has been a birthplace and a home over the past 150 years to nearly every cultural movement and artistic expression, whether in film, sculpture and painting. What’s more, the roof terrace offers a singularly spectacular view of the whole city that’s not to be missed if it’s urban beauty you want.

The March 26 event, which is titled “The Spirit is Alive,” is also a fund-raiser of sorts, though raising money is not the primary objective. So says Jeff Gunderson, a longtime librarian and archivist at SFAI where he has an office, and where these days he touts a new non-profit, the SFAI Legacy Foundation + Archive formed for the purpose of saving the archives and the history of the Institute.

In the summer of 2022, the Foundation and Archive received a two-year grant totaling $250,000 from the National Endowment of the Humanities to do the extensive work of cataloguing, which means sifting and sorting through thousands of documents. Gunderson is the director of the project. Becky Alexander, also an archivist and a librarian, shares the work with him and deserves equal billing. “In some ways it’s a hunt for buried treasure,” Gunderson says.

Still, there are definitely decades of history worth saving, as well as Diego Rivera’s stunning mural, and the building in which it’s housed, designed in 1926 by architect Arthur Brown who also designed San Francisco’s City Hall and Temple Emanu-El on Lake Street. The Rivera mural, titled the “Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” was created in 1931. Ever since SFAI shuttered, the mural has been closed to the public.

At his office on Chestnut Street, Gunderson leans back in his chair and recounts the career of Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who won an academy award in 2015 for Citizenfour, which explores the life and times of Edward Snowden. Poitras studied film and photography when she was a student at SFAI. Her 2022 doc, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which traces the art of Nan Goldin, and also follows the rise and fall of the infamous Sackler family, won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.

Poitras is in the running for an Oscar this year. Eadweard Muybridge, one of the pioneers of the art of filmmaking, jump started his career at SFAI, as archival documents show. His images of horses, captured in flight, as it were, changed the very nature of the way reality is perceived.

“The archives offer evidence of every artistic and cultural movement that animated San Francisco,” Gunderson says. “Not only the original bohemians, but also the Beats, Beatniks, hippies, punks, feminists and liberationists of all kinds. They all passed through the Institute, left a record of their contributions, and took away with them on their journeys what they learned.” Other illustrious grads of the school include Kehinde Wiley, Susan Cervantes, Juana Alicia and the artist known as “Rigo.”

The March 26th celebration will include live music, films, performances and paintings, sculpture, dance, and a silent auction of 30 works donated by the artists themselves. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the new SFAI Legacy Foundation + Archive. In an email announcing the event, Diana Fuller — a force in the arts in The City — wrote, “The program will be geared to a multi-generational audience. It will feature the work of artists both living and dead, of all disciplines who share a relationship to the school, as former students, teachers and friends.” She added, “Recently there has been too much negativity in the media about San Francisco. In fact, the art scene here is still alive.” The March 26th event will be joyful.” Saving the archives and saving SFAI means saving an outpost of non-conformity and a home of countercultural experimentation in a sea of corporate uniformity.

The Spirit is Alive

Sunday, March 26, 2023, 2-6 pm Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., San Francisco, CA 94107 Tickets: $5 – $150 (sliding scale)

For more information and to purchase tickets.

For more information on the event, contact:

For information on the SFAI Legacy Foundation + Archive, visit

* * *

Marques Haynes, world's greatest dribbler (photo by Joe Miller, taken February 17, 1950)

* * *



The Social Security Act passed overwhelmingly despite furious opposition from the then-weakened Republican Party. My father opened the first Social Security office in northwest Iowa in 1937. He ran that district for 37 years with only a short break for World War II service.

One thing was as consistent as snow in Iowa: Republican and conservative opposition to Social Security. In the beginning, among his tasks was driving to small towns to introduce the program. His car was egged; he was heckled. Later, Paul Harvey announced on his syndicated radio and newspaper forums that Social Security was bankrupt, and soon you’d not get your check.

Recently, more of the same, veiled in free market rhetoric (George W. Bush’s private savings plan and most recently Sen. Rick Scott’s “sunset” plan for the legislation).

Americans over 55 have an average $89,000 in retirement savings. Only 31% have pensions. My father always said that the people who should be most grateful for Social Security are the young. Without it, their aged, broke parents would be sleeping on their couches, as before.

Mark Swedlund


* * *

IN 1938 WALKER EVANS embarked on a radically new series of photographs. He concealed his 35mm camera under his coat — its lens poking out between his buttons and a shutter release down his sleeve — and surreptitiously photographed subway riders in New York. Aware that people would inevitably compose themselves and alter their expressions if they knew they were being photographed, he did not raise the camera to his eye to look through its viewfinder, nor did he adjust its focus or exposure, or use a flash. Evans abandoned all the controls that a photographer normally employed and strove to make portraits of "detachment and record," dependent on chance and intuition.

And here we have one of Walker Evan’s impressive street color photographs taken in New York City in the 1950s.

NEW YORK CITY, 1952, by Walker Evans

* * *


Friends and colleagues,

The documentary film I've been researching, producing and directing for the past three years debuts two weeks from today.

It's called The Movement and the “Madman” and will air on Tuesday, March 28, at 9pm (8pm Central) on the PBS series ‘American Experience.’

Here's the :30 sec. teaser:

Best wishes,

Stephen Talbot, Producer & Director, The Movement and the "Madman"

P.S. My great thanks to Editor Stephanie Mechura and Executive Producer Robert Levering, as well as archival researcher Blanche Chase and music composer Osei Essed. Mixed at Skywalker Sound. Online at ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions.

Generously supported by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

As well as the* Berkeley Film Foundation*. And a long list of donors.

from American Experience:

The Movement and the ‘Madman’ shows how two antiwar protests in the fall of 1969, the largest the country had ever seen, pressured President Nixon to cancel what he called his ‘madman’ plans for a massive escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam, including a threat to use nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea how influential they could be and how many lives they may have saved.

Told through remarkable archival footage and firsthand accounts from movement leaders, Nixon administration officials, historians, and others, the film explores how the leaders of the antiwar movement mobilized disparate groups from coast to coast to create two massive protests that changed history.

* * *

Oregon snow, Lake Oswego (photo by Brad Faegre)

* * *


Managers of California’s bullet train project announced what they termed an “historic milestone” last month: “the creation of more than 10,000 construction jobs since the start of high-speed rail construction.”

....The celebratory press release quoted Amit Bose, who heads the Federal Railroad Administration, as saying,

“Ten thousand jobs created is one of many milestones to come on this historic project, and the Federal Railroad Administration remains committed to strengthening state partnerships to advance even more progress and deliver the passenger rail benefits people want and deserve.”

However, it doesn’t mention that, a few days earlier, the federal government had rejected an application for a $1.2 billion in grants that the project needs if there is any hope of actually completing the San Joaquin Valley section between Merced and Bakersfield.

“There is no doubt that we want federal money, that we need federal money,” Brian Annis, the project’s chief financial officer, told the Fresno Bee.

The San Joaquin segment is being built with funds from a $9.95 billion bond issue approved by voters in 2008, a previous federal grant and some proceeds from the state’s auctions of carbon emission credits, but they are not enough. The 171-mile stretch is currently projected to cost $22 billion, roughly one-fifth of what the entire north-south system would need.

When the bond issue was being presented to voters 15 years ago the total cost was pegged at about $40 billion with an assumption that federal funds and/or private investors would complete financing. Since then, the projected costs have risen steadily to more than $100 billion and officials have searched in vain for additional money.

Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown were enthusiastic supporters. But when Gavin Newsom became governor in 2019, he was openly skeptical.

“The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long,” Newsom said as he took office. “There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”

His critique was widely interpreted as a desire to cancel the project, but its supporters – particularly construction unions – ramped up pressure and Newsom quickly insisted that he wanted to not only continue construction but expand it on both ends to connect Merced with Bakersfield. He later overcame legislative resistance and appropriated the remainder of the 2008 bond issue to continue work.

Nevertheless, the bullet train’s fundamental problem remains: how to get enough money to complete the San Joaquin segment and find another $80 billion or so to make it a statewide system.

The answer may depend on what happens in national politics since generally Democrats support high-speed rail as a tool to battle climate change while Republicans oppose it as a boondoggle – and one of the more vociferous opponents is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose hometown is Bakersfield.


* * *

* * *


by Hanna Wiley

McKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — In Indian Country, everybody seems to know somebody who’s gone missing or been murdered. But one case hit particularly close to home for Greg O’Rourke.

As the police chief for the Yurok Tribe along California’s North Coast, O’Rourke is responsible for investigating the disappearance of Emmilee Risling, a 32-year-old mother of two who was last seen in mid-October 2021 in a densely forested area along the Klamath River, not far from the Oregon border.

O’Rourke, 49, knows Risling’s family well. She used to babysit his kids about 10 years ago, including his foster daughter, Charlene Juan. O’Rourke took Charlene in after her own mother disappeared.

Now, while he works on finding Risling, O’Rourke worries that Charlene could go missing, too.

Like her former babysitter, Charlene has struggled with addiction, domestic violence and mental health. O’Rourke fears Charlene is following the same road map that guided Risling and dozens of other women into a missing-persons file, a decades-long problem in Indigenous communities that traces back to white settler colonialism, a broken foster care system and the forced assimilation of Native children in the state’s punitive boarding schools.

At first glance, in his navy pants and police vest, O’Rourke looks like the typical lawman. Affixed to his badge and adorned on his cap is the Yurok Tribe’s seal: a silver salmon leaping out of the water next to a canoe on the Klamath River, the life force for the tribe; red detailing represents the strength of survival for its members.

O’Rourke has cropped hair, a graying goatee and expressive eyes that crinkle with his toothy smile. But when he talks about Risling or Charlene, his eyebrows furrow and his tone turns serious.

“The system is what, in my opinion, is allowing this to happen, and even encourages it,” he said.

To seize the land, colonizers first had to subdue the women.

Rape and sexual violence were used by colonial settlers as an “explicit tool of conquest,” according to a 2020 report — the first of three — by the Yurok Tribe in collaboration with the nonprofit Sovereign Bodies Institute.

“Because we are the life-givers, they had to conquer our bodies first to conquer the rest of it,” said Blythe George, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Merced who co-wrote the reports.

In 1850, months before California entered the union as a “free state,” the first Legislature passed a law to legalize indentured servitude of Native children, which “evolved into a heartless policy of killing Indian parents and kidnapping and indenturing the victim’s children,” according to the state’s Native American Heritage Commission.

Until 1969, the U.S. government also helped run hundreds of boarding schools for Native children across the country, including 12 in California.

Column One A showcase for compelling storytelling from the Los Angeles Times. More stories These schools used “militarized and identity-alteration methodologies” to assimilate the students, who were forcibly taken from their families and tribes, according to a 2022 report by the Department of the Interior. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse was “rampant.”

“We have trauma that has accumulated in our DNA across time, across generations,” George said.

Those who survived grew up to face disproportionate rates of chronic health issues and deep trauma that have manifested into generations of parental neglect and domestic violence, experts say. Alarming rates of substance use and mental health concerns led to unstable households and the removal of children into foster care.

“I think we’ve had an inordinate amount of people suffer the consequences of this issue, meaning they’ve lost family members, they’ve lost people they grew up with. And the terror of it pervades the existence of our families,” Yurok Chief Judge Abby Abinanti said. “Their anguish never quits.”

Incomplete data make it hard to pinpoint the number of Native people who’ve gone missing or been killed, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates some 4,200 cases have gone unsolved across the country. Sovereign Bodies Institute recorded 183 cases of missing or slain Indigenous women and girls in California, according to a 2021 report, though that’s probably an undercount.

“The only way that the settler colonial system could be successful was for Indigenous women to be missing and murdered, and to take apart that particular population,” said Cutcha Risling Baldy, an associate professor of Native American studies at Cal Poly Humboldt.

The issue is more than academic for these scholars. George went to high school with Emmilee Risling. They were in the Native American Club together. Risling Baldy is Emmilee Risling’s cousin.

One of the last places Risling was seen was near the Pecwan Bridge at the end of State Route 169, a forested area on the Yurok reservation along the river’s stony path where locals anchor boats next to their salmon nets.

During a bus ride to school, the kid of one of O’Rourke’s officers saw a naked woman on the bridge. The officer figured it must have been Risling, as she had a reputation for walking around in the nude. He looked for her the next day down by the river, but never found her.

By Oct. 16, Risling’s family had grown worried. One of her cousins turned to a community Facebook page for help, writing: “If anyone has seen my lil cousin Emmilee Risling please let me know. She is NOT in her right mind.”

She was declared missing two days later.

O’Rourke can’t recall exactly how he learned that Risling was gone, but he remembers clearly what happened next. He called his officers together and told them that he was worried this wouldn’t end well, and that they needed to carefully document everything they did during the investigation.

“We will be called to the carpet on this,” he remembers saying.

Searches turned up nothing, and a year later the only sign of Risling at Pecwan Bridge is a missing-person flier, plastered on a post. Above her picture, the flier promises a $20,000 reward for information on her whereabouts.

It was one of the last photos taken before Risling disappeared. In it, her hair is awkwardly cropped short and her face had thinned in the years since she graduated in 2014 from the University of Oregon with a degree in political science.

Her father, Gary Risling, snapped the picture after she’d taken pruning shears to her long chocolate brown locks.

“I was standing by the dining room and she walks in, and her hair just looks terrible. She’s cut it all off. I looked at her and I grabbed my phone and I started taking pictures,” he said.

“When you go missing, I want to have something so I can show the police department,” he said he told her, as she turned to her left side, then her right, as if posing for a mugshot.

“It wasn’t more than a month or two after that, all of this happens,” he said.

Her mother, Judy Risling, hates the photo, even though she feels like it’s the best representation of what her daughter looked like when she disappeared.

But Judy wants the community to remember her daughter as she was before that picture was taken. When she was high school class president and received a $20,000 college scholarship, achievements that drew attention from the local and national press. When she’d sing and dance in traditional ceremonies in her buckskin dress decorated with shells and beads.

“She was really a mover and shaker,” Judy said.

After college, Risling took a job near her hometown of McKinleyville as a welfare case worker. She helped Native women who’d suffered from domestic violence, incarceration and addiction navigate motherhood and get connected to resources.

“I think she had a lot of empathy for people,” Judy said. “It’s hard for me to even understand how Emmilee was so active, involved, happy — [a] loving, caring person, to how things ended for her.”

Risling’s downfall began around 2019.

She fell into an abusive relationship, her parents said, and started using methamphetamine. Her mom already was taking care of her young son when Risling became pregnant with her daughter. Risling suffered from postpartum psychosis, and her mental health worsened as she tumbled deeper into her addiction.

But every system that was designed to help didn’t, Risling’s parents said.

Their troubled daughter became known to law enforcement and the local community for walking around town naked, but “was never offered access to mental health services beyond cursory interventions at best,” a tribal report said. She was hospitalized but never treated. Her mom eventually took in her daughter too.

A moment of hope came weeks before Risling disappeared, when she was arrested on suspicion of starting a small fire in a cemetery on the Hoopa Valley reservation, where she was an enrolled member and spent much of her time.

Her family thought her arrest presented an opportunity for treatment. But the judge released her, pointing to Risling’s lack of a criminal record.

“Every system had failed her,” her mother said. “Whose responsibility is that?”

Now the family can only wonder about her fate. Did she drown in the river and was her body swept out to sea? Was she kidnapped? Killed?

Will she return one day?

“This whole thing has just been a living hell,” her father said.

Eleven years before Emmilee Risling was last seen, another Native woman disappeared: 32-year-old Sumi Juan, an artist known for her quilting and a mother of three daughters, including O’Rourke’s foster daughter, Charlene.

Many locals think she was murdered. Because her case is still open, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would not discuss specifics. It would only say that foul play hasn’t been substantiated, but it hasn’t been ruled out.

“She was just this really sweet person,” said Pamlyn Millsap, who worked with Juan when Millsap was a homeless coordinator in Humboldt County.

Sumi Juan, Charlene's mother, presents a quilt square she made to state lawmaker Darrell Steinberg, now Sacramento's mayor. Sumi Juan, Charlene’s mother, presents a quilt square she made to then-state legislator Darrell Steinberg, who is now Sacramento’s mayor.(Pamlyn Millsap) But she was also deeply sad, Millsap said, and during her battles with depression Juan wouldn’t speak for long stretches of time.

Juan’s eldest daughter, a teenager when her mom went missing, remembers seeing her mother’s face on a missing-person poster. “It just seemed so unreal,” said Aurelia Alatorre. “For as long as I can remember, that seems like something that only happens in the movies. I never thought that it would be that close to home.”

Alatorre is 27 now and a mother of two young sons. She lives in Weitchpec, a town not far from the Pecwan Bridge. She works as a teacher’s aid, but is looking for a job that will let her raise awareness on how many Native women go missing or are killed. It’s her way of moving forward.

It’s a different story for her youngest sister, Charlene.

She was 6 years old when her mother disappeared. At first she lived with relatives, but it was an uneasy relationship and human services asked O’Rourke, known for his community work, if he and his wife, a distant relative of Charlene’s, would serve as foster parents. They said yes.

The three-bedroom house where the O’Rourkes were raising their second daughter provided a “good, stable home,” O’Rourke said. Charlene had her own room and decorated the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars.

Yurok Chief Judge Abby Abinanti leans against a tree stump Yurok Chief Judge Abby Abinanti focuses much of her work on the crisis of missing and slain Indigenous people in California. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times) But then Charlene hit adolescence and began reading online about her mom’s suspicious disappearance. She couldn’t cope with the sadness and the mystery of it all.

She fell into a downward spiral that lasted years: drinking and smoking weed at age 12, using methamphetamine by 14, spending time with a boyfriend who was 33.

Drugs were a way to cope, Charlene said in an interview from a drug treatment center in Arizona.

“I’ve been running since I was little,” she said. “In a metaphorical sense, and actually running away.”

Charlene pingponged back and forth from California to Washington state, where she spent time with the O’Rourkes’ oldest daughter and later at a treatment center. She came back to Humboldt County and was clean for almost a year before she started using again. At age 17, she found out she was pregnant.

O’Rourke didn’t see much of Charlene during those years. He and his wife decided that she needed rehab and intensive treatment, and that they couldn’t take her back in without those interventions.

Charlene said she wanted to get sober and leave a violent relationship, but kicking her addiction was tough without a consistent home, or even a couch, to crash on. She sometimes slept in her baby’s father’s truck or in her car. Some months after she had her son, Charlene asked family friends to take him in, figuring that’s where he’d be safest.

Charlene doesn’t remember too much about her mom. But she knows that a lot of her problems stem from her disappearance.

“It’s been 12 years, and we don’t know anything,” she said. “I don’t want to have to accept the fact that we probably won’t know what happened to her. I feel like I’d be giving up on her if I do accept that.”

So she’s left wondering, “How does somebody just vanish like that?”

Like Judy Risling, O’Rourke blames an insufficient safety net system that fails to protect vulnerable women and girls. Public resources are limited here, where towering redwoods and fog-capped conifers cover slopes leading to the Pacific Ocean and an estimated 35% of Yurok tribal members live below the federal poverty line.

So when women fall through the frayed safety net, as Charlene’s mom and Emmilee Risling did, it leaves a trail of generational trauma.

“The system is not allowing us to actually take care of our children before something happens,” O’Rourke said.

In early February, O’Rourke had swapped his uniform for a suit and traveled to Sacramento for meetings with state lawmakers.

He was there to lobby for bills the Yurok and other tribes are pushing to increase public safety on their lands. The effort is part of a broader movement that California’s tribes have taken to the Capitol in recent years.

They’re getting help from Assemblymember James Ramos, a Highland Democrat who made history in 2018 as the first California Native American elected to the Legislature.

Ramos has focused on passing legislation addressing tribal issues and advocating for state funds to go toward solving the crisis of the missing and slain.

A man in a red T-shirt and cap stands in front of a mural of a woman Gerald “Lij” Britton Jr. stands in front of a mural of his missing daughter Khadijah Britton. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times) His work this year includes legislation to grant tribal police and courts access to the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which tracks restraining orders. Tribal leaders say it would be one of the most effective tools to protect domestic violence victims. Another bill would strengthen procedures for when kids in foster care go missing.

“These issues aren’t new. They’ve been happening in Indian Country for years, and generations,” Ramos said. “What’s new is that we have a Legislature that’s now open to start to examine the very roots of these causes.”

Meanwhile, the Yurok Tribe was recently selected as the pilot group for the U.S. Marshals Service Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative, an effort to provide training and investigative support for the tribe, along with data analysis and public outreach.

The tribe also accomplished a longtime goal of hiring an investigator to work on missing-persons and homicide cases, new and cold. That means efforts could ramp up to find Risling and Juan and a list of other tribal members who’ve been lost.

Those names include Andrea White, last seen in 1991, and Virgil Bussell Jr., who disappeared in 2020. One of the most high-profile cold cases that tribal leaders hope to review is the disappearance of Khadijah Britton, a woman last seen in Covelo in 2018, according to her FBI profile, “while being forced into a car at gunpoint by her ex-boyfriend.”

Charlene remembers the last time she saw her old babysitter, not long before Risling disappeared.

“We were both doing really bad at that time. I was just thankful that I got to see her,” she said. “I told her that I was using, and she was like, ‘That’s OK.’ Even though it wasn’t OK, she didn’t make me feel like I was a bad person. She understood.

“I feel bad for her son and daughter,” she added. “Because that was me.”

Charlene’s road toward recovery began last fall, when O’Rourke got a call that she had admitted herself into a mental health facility in Eureka. She met the criteria for a psychiatric hospitalization and was transferred to the nearest hospital with available beds, in Santa Rosa.

O’Rourke picked her up after she was released, and she moved back into his home for a bit, before she found a treatment center in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I’m learning that I am worth it and that hard times don’t last,” she said, “like this too shall pass.”

She’s learning how to forgive herself, Charlene said, and “be a mother to my son” in a way her mom couldn’t be for her. He’s still living with family friends, and is happy, healthy and thriving. O’Rourke said the plan is to one day reunite mother and son.

“I know how it is growing up without my mom around. And I have so many questions about her and how she was,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll daydream about what life would be like if I had her.”

Charlene was scheduled to leave the treatment center around the time of her son’s first birthday in March. She hit a setback in late January, though, and moved to a new facility, where she’ll probably stay until April.

O’Rourke tries to talk to Charlene as much as possible He tells her how proud he is of her progress and how much he loves her.

For her 19th birthday in January, he sent her a blue Yeti mug and a purple hoodie with “Humboldt” emblazoned across the front in white letters. She told him it made her feel more at home.

“I think she’s recognizing that she needs help,” he said. “And she’s willing to accept it, and she’s trying not to run.”

O’Rourke can’t make her mother, Sumi Juan, come back. He hasn’t found her babysitter, Emmilee Risling. But with Charlene he maintains hope.

(Los Angeles Times)

* * *

Men standing outside a grocery store in Shawneetown, Illinois photographed by Russell Lee in 1937. Credit: sebcolorisation on Instagram

* * *


I said I'm sorry baby I'm leaving you tonight
I found someone new, he's waitin' in the car outside
Ah honey how could you do it
We swore each other everlasting love
I said well yeah I know but when we did;
There was one thing we weren't
Thinking of and that's money

Money changes everything
I said money, money changes everything
We think we know what we're doin'
That don't mean a thing
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything

They shake your hand and they smile
And they buy you a drink
They say we'll be your friends
We'll stick with you till the end
Ah but everybody's only
Looking out for themselves
And you say well who can you trust
I'll tell you it's just
Nobody else's money

Money changes everything
I said money, money changes everything
You think you know what you're doin'
We don't pull the strings
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything

Money, money changes everything
I said money, money changes everything
We think we know what we're doing
We don't know a thing
It's all in the past now

Money changes everything

— Thomas Gray

* * *

PITCHER, AUTHOR, PHILOSOPHER, and pundit Jim Bouton bore little resemblance to the vast majority of players who performed in the major leagues before he joined the New York Yankees in 1962. One of the new breed of ballplayers that began entering the game during the 1960s, Bouton was not as hardened or rough around the edges as most of the players who preceded him. An intellectual at heart, Bouton preferred to discuss politics or journalism rather than spend much of his free time hunting or chasing women. Bouton’s cerebral nature endeared him to the New York media, with whom he shared an amicable relationship during his seven years in the big city. However, it also alienated him somewhat from many of his teammates, who resented the inordinate amount of time he devoted to conversing with the members of the press corps. Nevertheless, Bouton’s teammates rarely expressed their dissatisfaction with him early in his career when the righthander was one of the American League’s finest pitchers.

In his book, Ball Four, which many found fascinating, when he exposed an underbelly of the baseball world the fans were not aware off, it caused him to be blackballed from baseball. Only Bill Veeck & Ted Turner, true mavericks, would sign him several years after the book was published, and it wasn't until 1998, nearly 20 years after the book was published, that he would reconcile with the Yankees. 

He was born on March 8, 1939, in Newark, NJ

* * *


The same Democratic minority staff that trashed the First Amendment in last week's Twitter Files hearings put something amazing in writing in a parallel case

by Matt Taibbi

Racket readers may recall that in November, shortly before the Twitter Files began, I ran an interview with Steve Friend, a onetime FBI agent who lost his career after blowing the whistle on the Bureau.

Friend refused to participate in a bureaucratic scheme to put local agents across the country charge of J6 cases that were really being run out of the Washington office, a plan that one Washington-based case look like a national map full of domestic terror cases popping up everywhere. He also objected to heavy-handed tactics like the use of S.W.A.T. teams for a suspect communicating voluntarily through an attorney, and the questioning of people in connection with J6 in cases where the state had little to no evidence. From that story:

“Friend didn’t think the interview was warranted, and worried the feds showing up at someone’s door without cause “might do more harm than good” in a part of the country where government was unpopular already. He sucked it up and did the “knock and talk” anyway.

‘I said, “Hey, were you at the Capitol?”’ Friend recalls. ‘And he said, “No, that was my son’s funeral that day. I wasn’t there”.’

“He shakes his head. ‘It hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought, I can’t believe I just made this guy relive that. And for what? Even if he’d admitted to being there, if he said, “I was there, I don’t wanna talk about it,” I couldn’t even charge that’.”

But even though Friend had reservations about some of the cases, his main concern was procedural — that by playing bureaucratic games with who was running these investigations, and putting locals nominally in charge of cases where they were really in supporting roles, they put all of the court cases in jeopardy. “A lot of these guys are bad dudes, and they should go to jail,” he said, about the Oath Keepers. But it “we didn’t follow our rules… we set ourselves up to get crushed at trial,” adding, “I want to win.”

A little over a week ago, the same Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government that organized the Twitter Files hearings privately heard testimony from Steve and two other FBI whistleblowers. The Democratic Party response to Steve and his colleagues was eerily similar to tactics pulled out against myself and Mike Shellenberger:

— Mike and I were not real journalists, they said, but “so-called journalists.” Steve and his fellow agents “are not, in fact, whistleblowers,” according to the minority report, and “do not meet the definition of a whistle-blower,” according to the New York Times.

— I was told by Florida’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz that “being a Republican witness certainly casts a cloud over your objectivity”; Democratic Party sources told the Times that Steve and fellow agents Garret O’Boyle and George Hill “have engaged in partisan conduct that calls into question their credibility”;

— Democratic questioners in our case asked us about our opinions on Russian interference, and one said openly that failing to agree with them on that issue disqualified us from the “nuanced convo”; Steve, George, and Garrett were repeatedly quizzed about their attitudes toward various right-wing movements, suggesting that their opinions about these matters made them ineligible to offer procedural complaints. Friend, for instance, was asked about statements by “Three Percenters”:

“Q: (Quoting from flyer) ‘Remember this, it comes straight from our Declaration of Independence, that whenever any form ofgovernment becomes destructive, it is the right and duty of the people to alter or abolish it. That is why you are here. For massive change to occurmassive action must be taken. Patriots, we are the lifeblood of this great nation, and it’s time we prove that.’ Do you have an opinion about this statement?”

Friend: It seems like First Amendment-protected activity.

— Michael and I were repeatedly quizzed about money we may have made during the Twitter Files period, with Wasserman-Schultz going so far as to harangue my about my Twitter followers tripling and to ask us if we were paid for our testimony; Committee Democrats accused Friend of having “profited, and is profiting, from making his allegations about the FBI public”;

— Congressman Colin Allred told me to “take off my tinfoil hat”; the three FBI agents were accused of “conspiratorial social media posts,” as the Times put it.

— Allred also blasted me for criticizing the “national security agencies” and told me to go home and “grapple” with the reality that the “very rights you think they’re trying to undermine, they may be trying to protect”; Friend and his fellow agents were accused of aiding in a “vendetta against the FBI”;

— Shellenberger and I were accused of being stooges of Elon Musk; Friend and the agents, agents of Kash Patel.

But the most outrageous portion of the Democratic Party’s report came in a section claiming that, because the agents were not really whistleblowers, and therefore really just expressing their opinion, they were not covered. “No law,” they wrote, “protects witnesses who speak to congress under these circumstances.”

The Whistleblower Protection Act specifically and the First Amendment generally come to mind, but not to this Committee office.

The style of the new anti-speech Democrat is clear: define all government critics as lacking standing to criticize, impugn their prior opinions and associations, imply that all their beliefs are conspiracy theory, define their lack of faith in the FBI’s judgment as treasonous, and declare their motivation to be financial. Lastly, when they invoke common constitutional rights, make a note that their activities exist in an uncovered carve-out.

This is the playbook, and we all better get used to it.

* * *

illustration by Walter Molino

* * *


Okay, I watched a short part of “Everywhere, Everything, all at once. Not understanding anything, I googled it to get the plot. I still had no idea what they were talking about. It IS labeled it as science fiction, I could not identify what it was.

I must be dumb about these modern movies that require an attention span of ten seconds. I have never seen such quick scene shifting ever in a movie or TV.

I am amazed that that mess was the best picture according to Hollywood.

Hmmm, I wonder who owns Hollywood now. Same as DC, or the NBA? Best picture, Best actress, both Supporting actors, and Best director. Holy cow, that puts it at the level of Ben Hur, or Gone with the Wind. And what a mess.

Did anyone understand what was going on after watching the movie?

Is this what the Chinese mind thinks is science fiction? The whole thing reminded me of an LSD trip movie.

* * *



About two months ago, on Saturday night, Jan. 21 at 10:22PM Huu Can Tran, 72, entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, CA. He pulled the trigger of a hand-held semi-automatic pistol with a magazine containing 40 additional rounds. Within 4 minutes over twenty persons died; same number were wounded. The first-responding police officers reported seeing “carnage.” It was a scene of bloody chaos which has almost become so common the public is unfazed that another terrible scene of mass shooting has taken place.

This was at a place of comfort, joy and relaxation where mostly Asian-American citizens learned how to dance and to reunite with others; just seeking a place to have fun and perhaps to learn a different set of steps. A place to relax and to get away from the daily grind, or of family or business obligations.

Today President Joe Biden is registering some real condolences to widows, widowers, and other still-greiving California resident family members who suffer forever from this unexpected tragedy. Nobody needs to pack a murderous weapon with forty rounds.

Frank H. Baumgardner, III

Santa Rosa

* * *

Queen of the Woods by Carly Jenkins

* * *


On Monday, September 26, 2022, a series of underwater explosions blew huge holes into the Nord Stream 1 and 2, two pairs of pipelines, constructed to carry Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. These four pipelines, steel-reinforced concrete cables built to withstand the direct impact of the anchor of an aircraft carrier, were destroyed in a clandestine act of sabotage, according to an investigation by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh. The pair of Nord Stream 1 pipelines carried Russian gas to Germany until Moscow cut off supplies at the end of August 2022. The pair of Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which would have doubled the amount of gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe, were never operational as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson called Hersh’s report “false and complete fiction.” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp said: “This claim is completely and utterly false.” 

Denials by U.S. officials of covert operations, of course, are routine. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, for example, denied any U.S. involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, assuring the American people that the invasion was not “staged from American soil.”  When Seymour Hersh in 2004 published the first stories about the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a Pentagon spokes called his reporting “a tapestry of nonsense,” adding that Hersh was a guy who “threw a lot of crap against the wall” and “expects someone to peel off what’s real.”

Despite the denials, the United States has long expressed hostility to the pipelines. It worked to prevent the completion of the pipelines and imposed illegal sanctions on enterprises engaged in its construction. President Biden on February 7, 2022, prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, stated: “If Russia invades … there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2 …We will bring an end to it.”

During a Senate hearing, Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, was asked by Senator Ted Cruz whether his legislation aimed at sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was voted down in January 2022, could have stopped the war.

“Like you, I am, and I think the administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea,” Nuland said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the destruction of the pipelines as a “tremendous opportunity,” which would enable EU countries to become less dependent on Russian energy.

The New York Times reported in December that Russia had begun expensive repairs on the pipelines, raising questions about Washington’s claim that Russia had bombed its own pipelines.

These explosions are not insignificant acts.  They are acts of war. They expose not only the collapse of the rule of law, but the lack of oversight by Congress. I covered the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors in 1983 by the Reagan administration as a reporter in Central America. The mining was designed cripple the economy in Nicaragua and boost the fortunes of the US-backed contra rebels seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government. The mining backfired. It sparked outrage around the globe and saw Congress cut off funding for the Contras a year later. The International Court of Justice in 1986 ruled against the United States over its mining of the harbors.

Hersh’s revelations should have led to a similar condemnation by Congress and an internal investigation into illegal activities by the CIA and Pentagon. It should have prompted news organizations to dig deeper into a scandal, a flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter and international treaties. It should have prompted a national debate about the war in Ukraine and the steady escalation of our involvement, one that could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia and nuclear war. Joining me to discuss his latest investigative piece is Seymour Hersh, one of our most important and fearless investigative reporters who, among many ground-breaking stories, exposed the U.S. Army’s 1969 My Lai massacre and cover-up, the Watergate scandal, the secret bombing of Cambodia, the torture by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib of Iraqi prisoners and the false narrative told by the U.S. government about the events surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden…

* * *


International court may investigate alleged Russian war crimes. Here's what else you need to know

The future of Ukraine is being decided in the eastern part of the country where the fighting is “very tough," President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday. The Ukrainian military said fighting around the eastern city of Bakhmut is relentless with Ukrainian troops clearing Russian trenches in close-quarters combat.

Training on tanks: The first group of Ukrainian soldiers training to operate and maintain Spain’s Leopard 2A4 tanks will finish their instruction this week, the Spanish Ministry of Defense said. Spain agreed to send six of its Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks to Ukraine, part of a coordinated effort with Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands, to supply Kyiv with around 80 Leopard 2 vehicles. Germany will supply Ukraine with 18 of the more advanced Leopard 2A6 variant.

War crimes: The International Criminal Court is planning to open two war crimes cases tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and issue arrest warrants against “several people,” according to the New York Times and Reuters, citing current and former officials with knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly. 

Latest on the grain deal: Russia and the United Nations have agreed to a 60-day extension of the Ukraine grain deal after negotiations in Geneva, Russian state news agency RIA reported. Ukraine and Russia are both significant suppliers of food to the world. According to data from the European Commission, about 90% of these exports were shipped from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The war and its impact on grain exports, therefore, has major implications, particularly in the global South which relies heavily on them.

Putin ally visits Iran: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Iran — something the US said it is watching closely. Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, met with President Ebrahim Raisi, according to Belarusian state media, and the two “signed a roadmap for comprehensive cooperation between the countries for 2023-2026.”

China and Ukraine: Meantime, the US has been encouraging Chinese President Xi Jinping to speak directly with Zelensky, the White House said, amid reports the Chinese leader would hold a call with the Ukrainian leader.


* * *

Still from 2018 Zelensky film

* * *

JUST AS WE IGNORED DIPLOMACY in Iraq, America has refused diplomacy that could have prevented bloodshed in Ukraine, choosing instead to pursue a geopolitical fantasy of deposing Putin with the help of Europe. 

The U.S. is escalating with Russia at this writing, as a U.S. drone and a Russian fighter jet collided above the Black Sea. The U.S. has been practicing missile launches in the direction of St. Petersburg, sending B-52s over the Baltics towards Russia. Simultaneously the U.S. ratchets up aggression against China, as we threaten to make Taiwan our next Ukraine…

The Dennis Kucinich Report

* * *

THE URBANITY OF EVIL: 20 Years After the US Invasion of Iraq

by Norman Solomon

Vast quantities of lies from top U.S. government officials led up to the Iraq invasion. Now, marking its 20th anniversary, the same media outlets that eagerly boosted those lies are offering retrospectives. Don't expect them to shed light on the most difficult truths, including their own complicity in pushing for war.

What propelled the United States to start the war on Iraq in March 2003 were dynamics of media and politics that are still very much with us today.

Soon after 9/11, one of the rhetorical whips brandished by President George W. Bush was an unequivocal assertion while speaking to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Thrown down, that gauntlet received adulation and scant criticism in the United States. Mainstream media and members of Congress were almost all enthralled with a Manichean worldview that has evolved and persisted.

Our current era is filled with echoes of such oratory from the current president. A few months before fist-bumping Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman — who's been in charge of a tyrannical regime making war on Yemen, causing several hundred thousand deaths since 2015 with U.S. government help — Joe Biden mounted a pulpit of supreme virtue during his 2022 State of the Union address.

Biden proclaimed "an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny." And he added that "in the battle between democracy and autocracies, democracies are rising to the moment." Of course, there was no mention of his support for Saudi autocracy and war.

In that State of the Union speech, Biden devoted much emphasis to condemning Russia's war on Ukraine, as he has many times since. Biden's presidential hypocrisies do not in any way justify the horrors that Russian forces are inflicting in Ukraine. Nor does that war justify the deadly hypocrisies that pervade U.S. foreign policy.

This week, don't hold your breath for media retrospectives about the Iraq invasion to include basic facts about the key roles of Biden and the man who is now secretary of state, Antony Blinken. When they each denounce Russia while solemnly insisting that it is absolutely unacceptable for one country to invade another, the Orwellian efforts are brazen and shameless.

Last month, speaking to the UN Security Council, Blinken invoked "the principles and rules that make all countries safer and more secure"—such as "no seizing land by force" and "no wars of aggression." But Biden and Blinken were crucial accessories to the massive war of aggression that was the invasion of Iraq. On the very rare occasions when Biden has been put on the spot for how he helped make the invasion politically possible, his response has been to dissemble and tell outright lies.

"Biden has a long history of inaccurate claims" regarding Iraq, scholar Stephen Zunes pointed out four years ago. "For example, in the lead-up to the critical Senate vote authorizing the invasion, Biden used his role as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to insist that Iraq somehow reconstituted a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, a nuclear weapons program and sophisticated delivery systems that had long since been eliminated." The false claim of supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was the main pretext for the invasion.

That falsehood was challenged in real time, many months before the invasion, by numerousexperts. But then-Senator Biden, wielding the gavel of the Foreign Relations Committee, excluded them all from two days of high-impact sham hearings in mid-summer 2002.

And who was the chief of staff of the committee at that time? The current secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

We're apt to put Biden and Blinken in a completely different category than someone like Tariq Aziz, who was Iraq's deputy prime minister under despot Saddam Hussein. But, thinking back to the three meetings with Aziz that I attended in Baghdad during the months before the invasion, I have some doubts.

Aziz wore nicely tailored business suits. Speaking excellent English in measured tones and well-crafted sentences, he had an erudite air with no lack of politesse as he greeted our four-member delegation (which I had organized with colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy). Our group included Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia, former South Dakota senator James Abourezk and Conscience International president James Jennings. As it turned out, the meeting occurred six months before the invasion.

At the time of that meeting in mid-September 2002, Aziz was able to concisely sum up a reality that few U.S. media outlets were acknowledging. "It's doomed if you do, doomed if you don't," Aziz said, referring to the Iraqi government's choice of whether to let UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

After meetings with Aziz and other Iraqi officials, I told the Washington Post: "If it was strictly a matter of the inspections and they felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel, this would be a totally fixable problem." But it was far from being strictly a matter of the inspections. The Bush administration was determined to make war on Iraq.

A couple of days after the Aziz meeting, Iraq's regime—which was accurately stating that it had no weapons of mass destruction—announced that it would allow UN inspectors back into the country. (They had been withdrawn four years earlier for their safety on the eve of an anticipated U.S. bombing attack that took place for four days.) But compliance with the United Nations was to no avail. The U.S. government leaders wanted to launch an invasion of Iraq, no matter what.

During two later meetings with Aziz, in December 2002 and January 2003, I was repeatedly struck by his capacity to seem cultured and refined. While the main spokesperson for a vicious dictator, he exuded sophistication. I thought of the words "the urbanity of evil."

A well-informed source told me that Saddam Hussein maintained some kind of leverage over Aziz by keeping his son in jeopardy of imprisonment or worse, lest Aziz become a defector. Whether or not that was the case, Deputy Prime Minister Aziz remained loyal to the end. As someone in Jean Renoir's film The Rules of the Game says, "The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons."

Tariq Aziz had good reasons to fear for his life—and the lives of loved ones—if he ran afoul of Saddam. In contrast, many politicians and officials in Washington have gone along with murderous policies when dissenting might cost them only re-election, prestige, money or power.

I last saw Aziz in January 2003, while accompanying a former UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq to meet with him. Talking to the two of us in his Baghdad office, Aziz seemed to know an invasion was virtually certain. It began two months later. The Pentagon was pleased to brand its horrific air attacks on the city "shock and awe."

On July 1, 2004, appearing before an Iraqi judge in a courtroom located on a U.S. military base near Baghdad airport, Aziz said: "What I want to know is, are these charges personal? Is it Tariq Aziz carrying out these killings? If I am a member of a government that makes the mistake of killing someone, then there can't justifiably be an accusation against me personally. Where there is a crime committed by the leadership, the moral responsibility rests there, and there shouldn't be a personal case just because somebody belongs to the leadership." And, Aziz went on to say, "I never killed anybody, by the acts of my own hand."

The invasion that Joe Biden helped to inflict on Iraq resulted in a war that directly killed several hundred thousand civilians. If he were ever really called to account for his role, Biden's words might resemble those of Tariq Aziz.

* * *

Desert Bloom, Ocotillo Wells, California (photo by Jeff Boyce)


  1. Eric Sunswheat March 15, 2023

    Mendocino District Attorney David Eyster was perhaps right to not prosecute some police under law. If there has not been a specific totality identical set, with an example such as specific taser model and power setting, of circumstances charged and settled as a civil rights violation in previous precedent, the officer can claim qualified immunity to escape liability and punishment.

    RE: “The only way that the settler colonial system could be successful was for Indigenous women to be missing and murdered, and to take apart that particular population,” said Cutcha Risling Baldy, an associate professor of Native American studies at Cal Poly Humboldt. (Hanna Wiley)

    —>. March 06, 2023
    You might imagine that policing in the United States has a single origin story, but there’s actually multiple origin stories based on geography. In the South, policing was really an outgrowth of slave patrols, … immediately and initially focused on the subjugation of Black people.

    In the South and the Southwest, the Texas Rangers were sort of the initial police law enforcement entity, and they, in their role, ended up killing thousands of Mexicans, Mexican Americans and indigenous people.

    In the North, police were really modeled on the London policing apparatus, and those police officers also abused their power.

    But in the North, there was more focus and attention on immigrants and other members of the working class. But in each of those origin stories, subjugation and violence against disempowered groups is a constant…

    On how the Fourth Amendment is used as a shield for officers. I focus in the book on the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. It is often the basis for civil rights claims against law enforcement officers. It covers claims of unlawful arrest, unlawful searches, as well as the use of force…

    But the way in which the Supreme Court interprets “reasonableness” under the Fourth Amendment is focused far more on what the police officer was thinking at the time, whether it was reasonable for them to search, arrest or use force.

  2. Stephen Rosenthal March 15, 2023

    I know Colfax deservedly had his detractors and Smith was a bonafide crook, but in the last 20 years has there been a more unlikeable Supervisor than Williams?

  3. Stephen Rosenthal March 15, 2023

    Re the poutings of the so-called Cannabis Alliance:
    Who are you going to believe – Jim Shields, or a bunch of greedy potheads? Make no mistake, the machinations of Mendo County’s self-anointed “leaders” have yet again contributed to the fiasco, but I know who I trust.

  4. Marco McClean March 15, 2023

    Re: JESSE POWELL, Ukiah. /Unspecified offense/.

    From the expression and the delightful chevron eyebrows, I think his offense might be mischievous shenanigans.

    • Craig Stehr March 15, 2023

      शिवाष्टकम ॥ Parbhum Pran Natham ॥ Sanjay Vidyarthi ||

  5. Bernie Norvell March 15, 2023

    Here is the entirety of Supervisor Williams post,

    Mendocino County road crews are spread thin. They currently are working 12-hour days to clear down trees on Usal Rd in the Whale Gulch school area to make the road wide enough to allow emergency vehicles and parents access to the school.

    Fort Bragg crews assisted with snow removal in the Bell Springs and Spy Rock area on 1960s dozers.

    Boonville and Point Arena crews continue to open roads and will be starting on Fishrock Rd with assistance from CAL Fire inmate crews next Monday.

    With the heavy rains and strong winds forecast for tomorrow, crews will once again be busy opening culverts and dealing with down trees. Potholes, while a nuisance (and in my view, a safety hazard) remedy will have to wait until crews have a chance to come up for air.

    Our current Department of Transportation situation is not sustainable. It’s time to fund the basic services that the public expects. Fire, roads, and law enforcement. Every county resident uses a county road to get to work, school, medical appointments and other life necessities each day and expects maintenance on their road.

    With the reduced crew size the department cannot provide the services the public expects. Crews will make every effort to fill the worst of the worst potholes as soon as possible.

    The needed course correction can only come through the leadership of county Supervisors. The annual budget process is approaching. I hope you’ll be part of the conversation and guide us in balancing competing priorities.

    It appears to me that the Supervisor is asking the community to get involved in the budget process and help prioritize where you want your tax dollars spent,( fire, road and law enforcement) no mention of adding taxes. Im sure the Supervisor is aware he cannot just add a tax without a vote from the taxpayers.

    • Marmon March 15, 2023


      Williams and Transportation Director Howard Deshield are going to put everything on the tax payers shoulders. Put up or shut up. With every crisis there is opportunity.


    • Mark Scaramella March 15, 2023

      REMINDER: Measure AJ was passed by a wide majority back in 2016. It was an “Advisory Vote.” But it said that if Mendocino County adopts the accompanying Cannabis Business Tax (Measure AI) the County “should use a majority of that revenue for funding enforcement of marijuana regulations, enhanced mental health services, repair of county roads, and increase fire and emergency medical services.”

      Guess how much of the pot tax revenues (calculated by the County to be over $20 million in the last six years) were allocated to mental health services, county roads or fire and emergency services? (Hint: $0.)

      Now Williams wants to ask the voters to pass another road tax? Maybe the Board should honor that advisory vote first.

  6. Bruce McEwen March 15, 2023

    Queen of the Woods

    Wasn’t there a Laird of the Moors who wore a kilt wove of thistle and a waistcoat of nettles—?

  7. Jim Armstrong March 15, 2023

    Since I long ago gave up trying to read Taibbi’s stuff, I don’t know what “Urbanity” of evil means,
    Any help?

    We are in a quickly declining shit-mess of a world. Maybe it only seems to have come on so rapidly.

    • Marmon March 15, 2023

      Taibbi is going to go down in history as one of the greatest journalists ever. He will be taught in academic settings all over the world. He knows what he has and he knows how important it is.


      • Bruce McEwen March 15, 2023

        Notice how MT always makes his own sweet self the protagonist of his windy narratives? He paints his self as the intrepid young investigative journalist, dashing as the Jack of spades, swashbuckling with his musketeers in the trenches of the Great War On Freedom of Speech, draining the swamp, if you will, nver looking back on Sodom & Gomorrah, lest he turn into a pillar of salt…

      • Jim Armstrong March 15, 2023

        Maybe I’ll follow that ref tomorrow.
        You could flesh it out , though.
        That was meant for Bruce.

    • Bruce Anderson March 15, 2023

      A little joke, Jim, a play on Hannah Arendt’s ‘banality of evil,’ a reference to Nazi bureaucrats like Adolph Eichman. Urbane evil is what we’ve got today in this country, hence Taibbi’s clever ref.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *