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Mendocino County Today: Friday, March 17, 2023

Partly Sunny | Swollen River | Open Spillway | FFA Convention | Waidelich Lawsuit | Party Weekend | AVUSD News | Hendy Redwood | Mendo Preschool | Name Changers | Pedicularis Densiflora | All Resign | Clueless Plan | Writers Gathering | Native Plants | Dogwash | Skunk Recipe | Garden Starts | Farm Supply | Musicians Needed | Post Quake | Sharpener | Vernal Equinox | Under 20 | Fast Ladies | Yesterday's Catch | Bay Outages | Deadheads | Winter America | Smoke Mommy | Tipping Wineries | Maori | Making Money | Cop Shows | Delta Sunrise | Alvin Coffey | Caltrans Women | U.S. Poverty | Life Expectancy | Vandalism | $100k Towns | Hyper Inflation | Ukraine | Shark Cage | Space Treaty | Same Haircut

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DRY SEASONABLE CONDITIONS will occur today through Saturday afternoon. A return to wet weather is then expected Saturday night through much of next week. (NWS)

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North Fork Russian River near Lake Mendocino (Jeff Goll)

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SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS: “PG&E has made the decision to keep the spillway gates atop Scott Dam at Lake Pillsbury in Lake County open this spring and in future years. This will result in lower summer lake levels and less water being released from Lake Pillsbury later in the year. Water availability moving forward is expected to be similar to dry year conditions experienced in 2020 and 2021” (from

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ANDERSON VALLEY FFA AT STATE CONVENTION! Go Panthers and huge gratitude to Miss Swehla and Miss Marin!

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by Mike Geniella

A federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Eureka accuses former Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich of sexually assaulting a Mendocino County woman in her home last summer.

The woman is identified only as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, which was lodged by a Los Angeles law firm. The alleged victim is widely known, however, in Mendocino County law enforcement circles as a supporter of police and military, and is a friend of many high ranking local officers.

The Waidelich case surfaced when Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall was notified of the alleged assault at the woman’s Ukiah home on June 13. Kendall immediately referred the allegations to Sonoma County authorities for an outside investigation.

City officials fired Waidelich three days later but the reasons, and the results of the Sonoma investigation, have been kept under wraps by local authorities. The specific allegation of sexual assault did not publicly surface until November, and only then after a review by the state Attorney General’s Office who referred the case back to Mendocino County for possible prosecution.

The Sonoma conclusions were turned over to District Attorney David Eyster in September, but for months he has refused to comment publicly on any aspect of the Waidelich case.

Eyster’s office again failed to respond to written questions about the federal lawsuit.

The Los Angeles law firm declined Thursday to elaborate on the contents of the lawsuit it filed on behalf of the Ukiah woman.

“We are letting the complaint speak for itself,” said Eric Rose, who represents the firm of Johnston & Hutchinson.

The lawsuit alleges that Waidelich, a local cop who rose through the ranks beginning in 2005 to become police chief only to be fired less than a year after his appointment, was “on duty, in uniform, and wearing a badge and carrying a firearm” when he showed up at the woman’s home and demanded sex. 

Waidelich’s conduct toward the woman is described in the lawsuit as “cruel, unusual, malicious, sadistic, offensive to human dignity, sexually abusive, sexually harassing, and for his own gratification.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified general damages, medical and related expenses, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

Apparently, an earlier claim for damages filed by the alleged victim against the city and its police department was routinely rejected by the city on Dec. 29, 2022. The federal lawsuit subsequently was filed on Feb. 28, according to documents.

The alleged victim contends she is undergoing counseling because of the “great mental and physical pain” suffered during her encounter with Waidelich, and the “grief, shock, humiliation, self-degradation, shame, disgust, isolation and apprehension” that followed.

The allegations that led to Waidelich’s downfall were the latest in a string of local police misconduct cases whose details authorities have largely kept under wraps.

DA Eyster has repeatedly refused to talk specifics of the Waidelich case, as he has other sex related cases involving a former Willits police lieutenant and a disgraced Ukiah police sergeant. Last summer as the Waidelich case was unfolding Eyster’s office dropped three felony sex charges against former Sgt. Kevin Murray in a plea bargain that critics called a “sweetheart deal.”

Since then, there have been revelations of alleged sexual misconduct involving the Willits officer, and a former Fort Bragg police sergeant. 

Sexually related police misconduct cases in California and across the nation rank second only to use of excessive force by errant law enforcement officers, according to statistics.

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Dear Anderson Valley Community,

As we come into  Spring, I wanted to share with you some changes that are coming to the Junior/Senior High School for Fall 2023.  These changes are important, and we want to make sure you are aware of the “why”.

Cell Phone Pouching

After the experiment of the 7/8th grade pouching phones this year in the Junior High and the staff seeing the increased attention, engagement, and socialization benefits, the Junior/Senior High school staff has met and overwhelmingly agreed to implement a universal pouching policy grades 7th-12th for the 2023/24 school year.   


  • Each student will be issued a pouch.
  • Students are required to have their pouches daily.    
  • Every morning in first period, student cell phones are turned off by the student, placed in their pouch and magnetically locked along with any earbuds.   
  • The phone stays with the student.   In an emergency, an unlocking device is available in each room (in addition to scissors for easily opening a pouch).    
  • At the end of the day, students will unlock their phones in their last class and keep the pouches for the next day.
  • Students in 9th through 12th grades  are issued one pouch a school year. Lost and damaged pouches are billed at a replacement rate of $10 each.
  •  If a student does not have a pouch, a loaner pouch will be checked out ($10 fee if not returned).  The pouch can be returned at the end of the day and no replacement fee applies.
  • If a student has a phone out at school, staff will request the phone and place it in the office. The school office staff will contact the parent/guardian.  The parent/guardian can retrieve the phone at their convenience after or before school.
  • Parents/Guardians MAY ALWAYS reach their students by contacting the school office in an emergency.
  • Phones are unpouched at the end of the day and available for sports practice etc…
  • Students with 504 plans or IEPs that require a phone for medical monitoring, etc. will continue to have access.
  • The Junior High system for pouching/Chromebook check in/check out remains the same for next year within the library.

The high school staff did not make this decision lightly, but the on-going use of phones throughout the school day has created a detachment and lack of engagement in academics and socialization.  We are looking forward to seeing what engagement results we can create with a cell-phone free campus.  In fact, the Round Valley School District team viewed our model and is also universally pouching phones next year.  We are excited to see the engagement and attention this policy will support, and we are proud we were the leader in the county by piloting this technology.

Sports Physicals

I know for many years, the District has allowed students to practice/play with a “date” for a sports physical.  PLEASE KNOW THAT EFFECTIVE WITH THE FALL SEASON all students must have a COMPLETED physical before they practice/play. The liability incurred by the district not ensuring students are safe to play is ethically wrong, and we need to make sure we are putting no student at risk.  As the recent events of NFL player Damar Hamlin showed, just one  impact in any sport can cause a cardiac event.  We understand that obtaining physicals is difficult and we are working with the Health Center to create opportunities THIS SPRING to get our athletes served.  MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENTS EARLY AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE COMPLETED BEFORE THE ONE YEAR EXPIRATION OF THE LAST PHYSICAL.  WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT THE AV CLINIC IS FACILITATING APPOINTMENTS DURING SCHOOL TIME ON MAY 16/17 AND SCHOOL STAFF WILL SHUTTLE STUDENTS WITH APPROPRIATE PAPERWORK FOR THAT APPOINTMENT.  MORE NEWS TO FOLLOW.

Drivers Ed Behind the Wheel

We just started a unique partnership pilot with Kirk Driving School to give our kids the required behind the wheel time as an activity at the High School. I am hopeful we can continue to  expand this to our students at no charge in the future to ensure their safety and our communities safety and stop unlicensed driving in the valley.

I know these changes are different. I am always here to listen and problem-solve concerns, but I am excited to support the staff and students in these efforts to increase achievement and safety.

Sincerely yours,

Louise Simson


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Old Growth Redwood, Hendy Woods (photo mk)

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Mendo Friends: I need your help! I’m spearheading a letter writing campaign to the Mendocino Unified school board urging them to establish a preschool on campus at the K-8 school. There are classrooms available and I have principal and superintendent support for a state funded preschool. I just need to demonstrate the need for more childcare options for 3-5 year olds in our area. Please consider writing a letter in support or reach out to me for a form letter you can fill in easily. Also - I will be providing a list of local kids ages 0-4 who would attend a hypothetical preschool if it existed. Let me know if you have a kid who qualifies to be on it! Thank you, thank you!

Jessa Poehlmann

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It looks like we will have good weather for our Change Our Name meeting this coming Saturday, 3/18, at 2 p.m.

Please contact me if you would like to attend

We meet out of doors, vaccinated, and socially distanced.

As always there will be lots to talk about as we change the name of Fort Bragg.

Please join us.

Phil Zwerling, PhD

Fort Bragg

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Indian Warrior (Jeff Goll)

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MENDO BUDGET SURPRISES, an on-line comment: 

“Well, it seems like it’s the Board’s fault, then,” Haschak replied.

Bingo! And the Cannabis Dept., Executive Office and County Counsel. 

Just when you think Mendo couldn’t be more of a cluster…, along comes a $3 million reporting error (but no one bothered to tell the Board); a $662,000 budget overrun in the Cannabis Dept. (knocking the Sheriff out of the top spot for the first time in memory); a surprise $75-80,000 bill from County Counsel (whose only advice has been not to release grant funds to the farmers it was intended for); and a proposal to divert grant funds to pay for all the screwups! They should all resign in disgrace!”

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SARAH KENNEDY OWEN: I really appreciate your article regarding the “abandoning” of the old courthouse. The update on the plans to sell the courthouse and move the DA’s office is news to me. It proves that these “planners” are clueless as to the fate of the old courthouse as well as the budgetary limits on building a new place down by the new courthouse just for the DA (and possibly child support and sheriff’s offices) a suggestion that reeks of the kind of rancid decision-making our leaders are capable of. Do we really want to reward the DA and the sheriff after the debacles they have subjected us to over the last year or so? Oh well, what the heck, let’s just throw some money at them, that’s what we always do. Meanwhile, the small business owners downtown can take the brunt of the decision and if the downtown becomes an empty slum, well hey, we still have McDonald’s and Subway and Chipotle to serve the courthouse! Oh wait, that’s quite a few blocks away, too, and the walk to there is not quite as pretty as School St. In fact, it is a great cultural desert. Great job, guys.

ED REPLY: What surprises me, even after years of watching serial Mendo blunders, is the utter absence of planning to move the judges (only them, 9 of them for a population of 90,000, another ongoing swindle) three long blocks to the east without so much as a single public question from the Ukiah authorities, such as they are, that basic question being, What does this looming fiasco mean for downtown Ukiah? And who’s going to buy the remaining Courthouse carcass? (No one.) It’s all very sad, and our grand poobahs of the Superior Court ought to be ashamed of themselves for their silent approval of this wholly damaging boondoggle. What will it look like? A glass and steel monster designed and erected by out-of-the-area people for an area that's already a gigantic eyesore. A lot of people used to sneer at the late Judy Pruden, but she seems to have been the last person in the Ukiah Valley who gave a damn about what the town looked like.

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Jug Handle's Native Plant Restoration/Education Nursery is holding our Spring 2023 sale on Saturday, March 25th from 1 to 5 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

We have a very large selection of colorful perennials and shrubs, as well as ferns and trees to choose from.

Local native plants attract wildlife and pollinators, and conserve water in your gardens and landscape.

The plant sale supports Jug Handle's restoration/education work with resource agencies, schools and the local community.

From red columbines to, seaside daisies,* Phacelia* and beautiful * Rosa Californica, *to shrubs such as* Ceonothus*, Western burning bush, pink flowering currants, twinberries, and trees from pines to wax myrtle,Douglas fir, grand fir, tan oak ---and numerous other species--you can find plants suitable for your garden or restoration project.

Prices will be deeply cut on certain overstocked plants such as Fairy Bells and Seep monkeyflower.

Jug Handle's Native Plant nursery is located behind the large red and white Farmhouse at 15501 N. Highway One-- our driveway is located on the east side of the Highway directly across from the stop sign at the north entrance to Caspar.

If you prefer to arrange a private visit, the nursery is always open by appointment.

For questions, directions, a private appointment--or more information please call Nursery and Restoration Projects Manager Helene Chalfin at (707) 937-3498, or e-mail

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SKUNK RECIPE, To Deodorize Not Cook

From a trusted groomer:

  • One quart Hydrogen Peroxide
  • half cup baking soda
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dog shampoo (don’t use dish washing detergent, it’s too harsh)
  • Mix in a gallon of water

Don’t wet the dog first. Use the shampoo mixture directly on the sprayed areas. Unfortunately, most dogs get sprayed right in the face and obviously you need to be VERY careful not to let this mix get in your dog’s eyes. Try soaking a washcloth with the shampoo mixture to wipe the face thoroughly. Do the best you can and let it sit on the dog a good 10-15 minutes. Always, always condition afterwards. Most likely there will be a bit of a lingering odor but it will be much better.

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LOCAL GARDEN STARTS from Natural Products of Boonville

I will be custom-growing garden starts for people who contact me and pre-order them.

Anyone with interest in garden starts or seed tubers should email me at

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Enjoy this little bit of sunshine!

We have lots of new organic and non organic veggies, herbs and flowers! 

•Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Peas

•Tomatoes, Peppers, Basil, Cilantro

•Thyme, Chamomile, Lavender

•Strawberries and much much more!

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Woody Guthrie’s American Song Book

Songs and Writings by Woody Guthrie 

Conceived and Adapted by Peter Glazer, Orchestrations and Vocal Arrangements by Jeff Waxman

Directed by Elizabeth Craven 

Mendocino Theatre Company is seeking local musicians for our summer musical, Woody Guthrie’s American Song, conceived and adapted by Peter Glazer using exclusively the texts and songs by Woody Guthrie with arrangements by Jeff Waxman, direction by Elizabeth Craven. The show will go into production on June 29 and run weekends throughout the summer. 

We are seeking the following: Acoustic bass player; Multi-instrumentalist who is some combination of fiddle, banjo, mandolin; Guitarist

Players may apply in person, on video, website or via Zoom. Please contact Beth Craven, Producing Director, by Email at: or by text at 707-569-6558 to schedule a time for audition and to gather more information. Auditions will remain open until positions are filled. 

Project Description: As musicians you will become an integral part of the ensemble cast of comprised actors, singers and instrumentalists. Woody Guthrie’s American Song celebrates the legacy of working class Americans through the songs and writings by one of our country’s most treasured folk heroes. The play includes 26 of Woody’s most beloved songs as well as his humorous, insightful, prose and moving poetry. During the 90 minute show performers take on the voice of Woody Guthrie as he leads the audience “from California to the New York Island and from the Redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters.” 

This show has played to standing ovations across the USA. Seeing it is exhilarating. Being part of it is a true adventure. Please come a take part of this very special opportunity. 

Mendocino Theatre Company, 42500 Little Lake Street, Mendocino, CA 95460 

Contact: Beth Craven, Producing Director 

Mobile: 707.569.6558 Office: 707-937

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Fort Bragg after the 1906 Earthquake

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Do you have yard tools, harvesting tools, and butchering knives that need sharpening? 


Scott Miller Mobile Sharpening

Knives Pruners Scissors

Call us and we will come to you

(707) 272-7274

408 West Mill St. Ukiah CA 95482

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VERNAL EQUINOX 2023: Everything You Need To Know

The March equinox – also called the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – marks the beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere…

(via Craig Stehr)

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Russian River under Route 20 (Jeff Goll)

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In celebration of Women’s History Month, here is an excerpt from the Kelley House publication From Maidens to Mavericks: Mendocino’s Women, Mendocino Historical Review Volume XXIX, written by local author, Molly Dwyer. The book can be purchased in the museum or on our website; the author’s lecture from May 17th, 2015, is available to watch on the Kelley House YouTube channel. 

Mostly lost are the histories of single women who came to Mendocino, likely from the streets of San Francisco. They did not come to settle, but rather to work and support themselves. “No fewer than twenty-eight saloons have been documented between 1855 and 1907 in the town of Mendocino,” writes researcher Margi Gomez, and “drink was not the only attraction. In addition were the fast houses” with women “imported by the big lumber companies….” These popular places were marked on local maps as “FBH,” which is to say, “fashionable boarding houses.”

“In most cases, the saloon would operate on the bottom floor…with ‘lodging’ upstairs,” according to local historian Katy Tahja. “What were your options?” Katy asks. “You could be a seamstress going blind over your work…” or “a laundress up to your elbows in soapsuds.” But if you worked as a prostitute, “you had your own money, which you were encouraged to spend on clothes, jewelry, perfume, fun stuff. Plus you were taken care of, if you worked for a good madam….”

Studio portrait of C. Coyle, likely Catherine Coyle, who owned the boarding house on the northwest corner of Kasten and Ukiah. (Gift of Emery Escola)

Miss Molly's Fashionable Boarding House had a saloon up front, a warren of cozy rooms in the back. The house, which still sits on the northwest corner of Kasten and Ukiah, belonged to one Catherine Coyle, who purchased the house in 1875 and opened her enterprise that same year. A year later it became the scene of a double murder. According to the Mendocino West Coast Star, Lena Clymer (who worked at Molly's) and Frank Mitchell (a San Francisco actor who patronized the place) were shot down March 27, 1876. Lore has it the killer was Frank's wife, but according to newspapers written at the time, the shooter was a man from San Francisco named Harry Kleinschmidt. His motives are unclear.

Another local madam, Pretty Pearl Peck, ran a successful business out of the Lisbon Hotel on Ukiah Street. Sometime in the early 1900s a young Chinese woman who called herself "The Dragon Lady" made Mendocino her home. She seems to have worked for herself, rather than under the auspices of a madam. In fact, she ran Mendocino's first (and perhaps only) mobile den of iniquity in the backseat of her motorcar.

The other mill town of consequence, Fort Bragg, also had a popular red light district. Saloons and bordellos lined Redwood Avenue from Main Street to McPherson. The Golden West Saloon, which still exists, had a brothel upstairs, and the alley next to it was crowded with shacks housing from one to six girls who serviced working-class men. When a man left a saloon in Fort Bragg announcing he was "going down the alley," that's where he was headed.

Girls posed topless in their parlor windows, calling out to the passing men. A back room housed beds and, if one was lucky, curtains. The women who worked these "cribs" lacked the status of parlor house girls. They tended to be older, ethnic, or scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The local madams were likely working girls from San Francisco who had succeeded in the industry and wanted to advance their fortunes. It is probable that Maggie Horn (ca.1856-1920) was one of these women. She was Fort Bragg's most powerful madam, a shrewd business woman who had a bevy of girls working for her, some in the cribs, some in saloons, some in parlor houses. She looked after her girls with the aid of a bouncer, Rock McMullen, a tough guy from Point Arena. When things got rough, he would pistol whip whoever threatened one of Maggie's girls.

(The Kelley House Museum is open from 11am to 3pm, Thursday-Sunday. Questions or requests for appoitnments for Curator: Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Museum regularly. Tour schedule and more at

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, March 16, 2023

Bicknell, Hurtado, Manzo, Miller

BENJAMIN BICKNELL, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.

BRIAN HURTADO, Willits. Parole violation.

LUIS MANZO-GARCIA JR., Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ANGEL MILLER, Ukiah. Parole violation.

Poulides, Rumble, Ryken

ALEXANDER POULIDES, Willits. Suspended license.

DESIREE RUMBLE, Laytonville. Domestic battery.

WILLIAM RYKEN JR., Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, resisting, probation revocation.

Standard, Tobie, Zarate

ANNE STANDARD, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia, resisting.

KEVIN TOBIE, Vallejo/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

MARIA ZARATE, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent.

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by Sam Whiting

On Wednesday morning the storms had broken, the sky had lifted to reveal a brilliant blue but thousands of Bay Area residents were still without power.

As of 10 a.m., Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported that 83,049 customers in the South Bay and 40,014 on the Peninsula were still lacking electricity from a storm that started overnight Monday and continued through Tuesday.

By noon the situation had improved slightly but just under 80,000 were still without power in the South Bay and just under 35,000 without power on the Peninsula.

In a noon briefing, PG&E Vice President of Emergency Preparedness and Response Angie Gibson blamed most of the outages on “soil saturation in combination with high winds. We’ve seen whole trees uprooted,” she said.

The downed trees toppled power lines and made roads impassable to PG&E crews. Gibson said 5,500 PG&E personnel were on the ground in restoration efforts Wednesday, including some brought in from outside the Bay Area.

Wednesday marked the 38th day this winter that the emergency operations center had been in action, and Tuesday's storm was the 13th major weather event PG&E has dealt with.

Vice President of Operations and Chief Operating Officer Sumeet Singh said Tuesday brought the 13th major storm event of the season, calling it “the most impactful storm that we have seen in terms of customers out in a single day in the Bay Area, since 1995.”

Some 450,000 customers were affected and at its peak, 367,000 were without power. Of these, 200,000 have had their power restored with the majority of the outages concentrated in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. 

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, gusts hit 97 mph on Tuesday and at San Francisco International Airport they were clocked at 74 mph. Officials at the command center said that two-thirds of the customers still experiencing outages have received an estimated time of restoration from PG&E and the majority of those were within 24 hours. 

“The extreme storm that produced the major damage has thankfully exited the area,” said Gibson. “In the next few days, we will have good weather for our restoration efforts.” 

(SF Chronicle)

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Protest songs; lack thereof


I am just now reading your OTR discussing the current lack of protest songs as compared to the 60’s and 70’s; while I agree with much of your analysis (active Vietnam war ongoing military draft etc.) I would if I be allowed, I’d add a couple of other thoughts; to make myself sound more lofty; knowledgeable and official; Lets call this the “Skyhawk Analysis”: the predatory; war mongering corporate state has simply learned how to better disguise itself, while continuing to inflict their profitable planetary predations; by embracing identity politics; Getting Obama into office was a stroke of pure evil genius; he and his evil sidekick Hillary Clinton HRC; actually accelerated the Bush wars; but since they had embraced identity politics critics were just wrote off as racist or sexist and Obama tried to accelerate the Free Trade; Neo liberal policies; that would have decimated what remained of the working class; the people that were in HRC’s rhetoric nothing but a “basket of deplorables.” Hell we even watched as the entire national Dem. Party pivoted to framing G.Bush, Colin Powell; Condy Rice; etc. as “honorable Republicans"

While America was patting itself on its collective back believing in how far it had come with race relations. Yet, if the Obama Trans Pacific Partnership a.k.a. the TPP had gone through the corporate state would have been given the keys to everything; one reason we should be glad that the horrific cartoonish character Donald Trump was elected; since he trashed that agreement as soon as he took office; since then the substitution of identity politics for real ones continues unabated, for ex. We aren’t supposed to criticize the indolence and incompetence of Mayor Pete because he’s gay; the same with VP Harris; she’s a bi racial woman; they got a two-fer on that one; and any logical analysis of Biden’s mental incompetence is met with accusations of being an ableist; since he has always struggled to overcome his stuttering; their ability to divert our attention is endless; And while I do embrace the concept of gender Fluidity; while everyone is trying to figure out what pronoun to use for themselves, many people don’t notice the hand in their pockets taking their money and sending it to Big Pharma; Weapons Manufacturers and Big oil.

And I would also include a critique of Big Tech in all this, that has ensnared our young generation with endless technological distractions; Social media in the place of real time human interaction; and I believe this is particularly harmful to our young men; just at the age biology has designed them to face real, actual challenges to mature into men; they can now sit in their living rooms being challenged by video games; and who needs to face the challenge of relating to a real girl; when every fantasy girl you could ever imagine is just a keyboard click away?

And corporate media everything from Fox, MSDNC, and Corporate News Nonsense, is designed to give every demographic a media silo, from which to feel morally and intellectually superior to “other” groups.

Yes we are in poor shape; I could say more. But I won’t: I sincerely hope the “Skyhawk Analysis” does not provoke anyone to excessive despair; it’s just that I do believe we can only fight the enemy, if they are recognized as such; and this clever predatory enemy has done a magnificent job of hiding itself; I also do not believe we should succumb to self-blame; rather forgiveness and compassion in the face of the position we find ourselves in; I will close this rambling screed with the words of the late great poet Gil Scott Heron; who put his poems to music with Jazz and Blues; his poem “Winter in America” is prescient here;

It's winter in America

And all of the healers have been killed or betrayed, yeah

But the people know, the people know

It's winter, Lord knows

It's winter in America

And ain't nobody fighting

’Cause nobody knows what to save

Save your soul

From winter in America

Chris Skyhawk

Fort Bragg

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by Esther Mobley

Over the last few days, when I haven’t been consumed by news about the stunning, sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank — which played a major role in the California wine industry — I’ve been thinking about the question of tipping at wineries, the subject of a story I published on Monday.

Like many of my readers, I felt confused when I started seeing tip lines on my receipts at tasting rooms during the last two years — and, if I’m honest, a little annoyed. For example, a few months ago I was settling up at a high-end winery in Rutherford, where the bill for me and a friend exceeded $200 for a tasting of five wines each. As I got ready to sign the receipt, I noticed the box that suggested a tip of 20%. I’d already felt like the tasting was a bit of a ripoff. Now I had to tip on top of that? 

But after diving into the topic and interviewing hospitality workers for my story, I’ve changed my personal outlook.

First, let me put this in context. Tipping in general can be a very touchy subject. In a relatively short span of time, we went from a tipping deluge to a tipping backlash to a movement for tipping abolition. At the start of the pandemic, Americans seemed happy to tip generously for takeout and delivery, an acknowledgment of the dangers that service workers were accepting in order to ferry food to sheltered people’s doors. Then, apparently, they were all overcome with “tipping fatigue,” as tip prompts started showing up at businesses that hadn’t included them in the past, like bakeries and juice shops. 

Wineries in the Bay Area were among the many types of companies that started asking for tips more in the wake of the pandemic. The share of Napa Valley tasting rooms explicitly prompting tips may now be more than 75%, according to Galen Becker Drace, executive director of the Napa Valley Hospitality Forum, whereas it was probably less than half pre-2020. It’s still not everywhere (if you pre-pay on Tock or CellarPass, you probably won’t have a chance to tip at the end of your tasting). Still, it’s not surprising that many Wine Country visitors haven’t been able to keep up with the fast-changing etiquette.

Meanwhile, as the receipt tip line has grown ubiquitous across industries, there’s also been a growing chorus questioning whether tipping is ethical in the first place. My colleague Soleil Ho articulated this argument in a column recently, writing that tipping is “a short-term and frankly unsustainable way to make up for the fact that the United States lacks a meaningful social safety net.” Ideally, Soleil says, workers would just earn a living wage in the first place, rather than relying “on a strained and piecemeal system of gifts that are dependent on how much they please the rest of us.”

I find this very persuasive. But it’s worth noting that wineries are more progressive than other service-sector businesses in this respect. Generally, Bay Area tasting room employees are paid above minimum wage — several estimates I saw put the starting pay around $18-$25 an hour — and many also receive commission if customers buy bottles. (Commission isn’t always much; one Napa Valley tasting room employee told me he gets 1%.) Health insurance and other benefits are standard for full-time tasting room associates. In other words, unlike bartenders, winery hospitality workers’ wages do not depend on tips. Obviously, $25 an hour is not enough to live lavishly in Napa or Healdsburg, but it’s a much better starting point than what many restaurant servers get. 

So the central questions — do you have to tip, and if so, how much? — are meaningfully different when we’re talking about winery tasting rooms as opposed to restaurants, bars or cafes. Whereas I wouldn’t dream of leaving less than 20% when I go out to dinner, I don’t believe there’s an across-the-board minimum for winery tipping. If the $50 (or, in the case of my Rutherford winery, $100) tasting fee that you’re paying already feels like a special-occasion splurge for you, and you simply can’t afford to add anything more, I don’t think you’re a monster. 

That said, going forward I plan to leave at least 15%, and often more, when I visit tasting rooms. By tipping, I can acknowledge the kindness and the hard work of these employees, and show them that I value the time they spend with me. I can acknowledge that even if they’re being paid above minimum wage, they still deserve to earn more. I can acknowledge that going wine tasting (unlike eating food!) is a luxury, and that even as a price-conscious consumer I’m prepared to spend a little extra for the privilege of being there.

Also, frankly, it’s just the decent thing to do. So don’t be a jerk. Leave a tip.

(SF Chronicle)

* * *

Portrait of a Maori woman, Mrs. Rabone

* * *

IN OTHER MATTERS it behooves a gentleman to be open, above-board, liberal, and true; good-natured, generous, confiding, self-denying, doing unto others as he would wish that others should do unto him. But in the acquirement and use of money — that is, its use with the object of acquiring more, its use in the usurer’s sense — his practice should be the reverse; he should be close, secret, exacting, given to concealment, not over-troubled by scruples; suspicious, without sympathies, self-devoted, and always doing unto others exactly that which he is on his guard to prevent others from doing unto him — viz., making money by them.

— Anthony Trollope, 1858; from “The Three Clerks’

* * *

A LOT OF COP TV SHOWS are fake. They make it look like cops are in shoot-outs every day and doing all that kind of stuff. It’s 90% paperwork, very little use of force. What kills me is our reputation with the majority of people. The public perception is that we can’t be trusted. We’re the good guys! As far as the police on the reality shows — it bothers me that they show them, because people look at the tactics they use. There was one in particular called American Detective. Thank goodness it’s not on any more. The host was a real cop somewhere in Washington State. For the sake of fame and fortune, he showed way too much in my opinion. They were showing how cops did “buy/bust” operations, the type of surveillance equipment we use, how undercover cops were wired up for sound and so on. The techniques were real, the scenarios were real, it was very interesting to see because it was the real deal. The problem I have with that show and others like it, is they put us in grave danger when we are doing our undercover roles. The crooks are getting smarter and we do not need to show them all our tricks. 

— Alex Sanchez, undercover cop (Not his real name)

* * *

Delta Sunrise, Clarksdale, Mississippi (Charlie Musselwhite)

* * *

ALVIN AARON COFFEY was born a slave in Mason County, Kentucky on July 14, 1822 as the property of Margaret Cooke. His parents were Lewis (Larkin) Coffey and Nellie Cook[e]. Coffey arrived in California in 1849 at the beginning of the Gold Rush. He was one of the few Californians who left a written account, Book of Reminiscences, which described his journey to California and his subsequent history in the Golden State.

Coffey was sold to Henry H. Duvall in 1834 who took him to Missouri. Duvall then sold him to Dr. William Bassett in 1846. In the spring of 1849, Bassett joined a wagon train that assembled in St. Joseph, Missouri for a departure for California. Dr. Bassett took Coffey with him, separating him from his wife, Mahala, and two children. Mahala was also pregnant with a third child. On May 2, 1849, the wagon train left St. Joseph, Missouri on a five month journey to California.

Alvin Coffey arrived at Redding Springs, California on October 13, 1849. He searched for gold on behalf of Dr. Bassett and himself. Bassett, who had been ill the entire time, decided to return to Missouri in 1851. Coffey had saved $616 from his diggings which Bassett kept as his own, and then returned to Missouri with Coffey. Once there in 1852, Bassett sold Coffey for $1,000 to Mary Tindall. Another slaveholder, Nelson Tindall, already owned Coffey’s wife, Mahala, and their three children. Since he was already familiar with the California gold fields, Coffey persuaded Nelson Tindall to allow him to return to California to earn money to purchase his freedom. He agreed and Coffey was back in the gold fields by the fall of 1854. By 1856, 34-year-old Alvin Coffey earned enough to purchase his freedom for $1,000. He then earned another $3,500 to purchase the freedom of the rest of his family by 1857. Coffey returned to Missouri to bring his wife and three sons to California while two older daughters were left with a grandmother in Canada until he was able to reunite them with the family in 1860. On December 22, 1858, their next child, Charles Oliver Coffey, was born free in California.

The Coffey family settled in Shasta County, California where he homesteaded a small plot of land. The 1870 Census listed the Coffey family as having $1,500 in property. During the Modoc Indian Wars in 1872, Coffey provided horses to the U.S. Army and offered his services as a teamster. Later, Coffey operated a laundry and raised turkeys. He and his wife raised their children on property he had homesteaded. Those children attended a school for African American and Native American children in Shasta County that Coffey had helped found in 1858.

In 1887 Alvin Coffey was inducted into the California Society of Pioneers and was a member for more than 15 years prior to his death. He is the only African American to achieve that distinction. Coffey died in Beulah, Alameda County, California on October 28, 1902.

* * *

THE WOMEN OF CALTRANS, an on-line comment: 

Most highway engineers are women. It’s a boring job, filling out forms and keeping records. A lot of lady highway engineers quit and go to nursing school. They’re the ones with their phone in one hand and a clipboard in the other…

The men they have now specialize in “leaning on their shovels” and sitting in their trucks when it rains. So yeah, maybe hire some women to hold those warning signs, drive those D-12’s. Many road building projects are contracted out, like the section of 29 in Lake County, which took 3 years to build 1.8 miles.

* * *


by Matthew Desmond

The United States has a poverty problem.

A third of the country’s people live in households making less than $55,000. Many are not officially counted among the poor, but there is plenty of economic hardship above the poverty line. And plenty far below it as well. According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for government aid and living expenses, more than one in 25 people in America 65 or older lived in deep poverty in 2021, meaning that they’d have to, at minimum, double their incomes just to reach the poverty line.

Programs like housing assistance and food stamps are effective and essential, protecting millions of families from hunger and homelessness each year. But the United States devotes far fewer resources to these programs, as a share of its gross domestic product, than other rich democracies, which places America in a disgraced class of its own on the world stage…

* * *

* * *


by John Arteaga

I have always hated vandalism. I remember as a young kid being appalled by one of the kids I hung out with breaking a pane of glass in the window of an old, semi abandoned garage, and trying to stop him.

What are we to make of the proliferation of really large scale senseless destruction that seems to grow more common every year, like these idiots who shot up the big transformers at an electrical substation up in Washington, draining huge amounts of toxic oil onto the ground until the equipment failed, cutting off power to thousands of people, just to facilitate the robbery of one little grocery store?

It must be that more and more people just don't feel that they have any stake in anything; their neighborhood, their state, society in general.

Why is that? Could it be that the political reality these days, especially here in the USA, really does not even pretend any more to seek input from or do anything for the regular people who populate our country, unless they happened to be amongst the very wealthy who might make political contributions?

The manufacture of man-made goods inevitably exacts a price from the earth; the production of steel, concrete and every other material used in the creation and maintenance of modern human society is slowly, steadily, fouling humanity’s nest, bringing on climate change, sea level rise and the gradual choking off of the earth's ability to provide the essentials of life to its ever-growing human population.

There are few things more disturbing to me than seeing dozens of brand-new 25 story concrete residential buildings being explosively demolished in China just after all the concrete was placed, or the bizarre waste of concrete by this madman ‘artist’ Heiser, who I guess just finished squandering his significant inherited wealth pouring gigantic, function free concrete ‘works of art’ in the middle of the Nevada desert on his property next door to Area 51. I guess he went through $40 million over 50 years creating his colossal monument to wretched excess at the end of a bumpy dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

Call me a Philistine, but all I would be able to think about, were I to visit it, would be its impact on the environment.

Of course galling examples such as these, the sickening trashing of our shared earth environment pale in comparison to the orders of magnitude greater destruction and the creation of human misery that seems to be a constant of US foreign policy; it’s apparent dependence on making war one place or another as the bedrock of our nation's economy.

The scale of destruction currently taking place in Ukraine, the suffering and misery of the people there, it seems to me, is being intensified and prolonged by the nonstop propaganda about the issue that is being pushed by virtually every news source, from NPR to Fox News.

From the immediate and unanimous condemnation of Russia for its ‘unprovoked’ attack, even though any objective observer who knew anything about the area's recent history, would know about the many years of severe provocations, from immediately blowing off our promise to Russia, as they were negotiating the end of the Soviet Union, that we would not expand NATO ‘1 foot’ beyond the reunited Germany, to the blatant meddling in their national affairs to facilitate a coup to replace their Russia-friendly democratically elected leader with one more inclined to play ball with NATO and the West. One can only imagine the reaction here if Russia or China were to foment a coup in Mexico in order to give them the ability to build bases and missile installations along our southern border.

Of course, the most outrageous act of war has to be the wanton destruction of Russia and Germany's $12 billion Nordstream 2 gas pipeline; this colossal feat of human engineering, two approximately 3 foot diameter very thick steel pipes, each encased in enough concrete to make them sink in water, running for 750 miles under the Baltic Sea, were just being finished when, according to the never-been-wrong-on-a-major-story Seymour Hersh revealed what had already been obvious to any semi informed observer, that indeed, the US military, probably with Norwegian connivance, placed large charges of C-4 explosives on the Nordstream 2 and one of the older Nordstream pipelines during military exercises in the area months before the explosions, triggered at our leisure with a buoy which would send out an audio signal to them.

This abundant Russian natural gas was to power the economic workhorse of the EU, Germany, with its tremendous industrial productive capacity. These pipelines were no joke; I was blown away to read that even though they were complete but not being used because of US pressure over boycotting Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, it had been pressurized to an incredible 3200 psi to ensure that they would not be crushed under the enormous water pressure they were under. Talk about a colossal investment of materials and its impact on the environment! Who knows if the pipelines can even be repaired; $12 billion worth of ecological impact on our fragile planet, turned to trash, or as one US official said, "so much scrap metal on the ocean floor". 

My God, can you imagine how we would react if say, the Russians were to bomb the Alaskan oil pipeline somewhere out in the frozen tundra? At least there it could probably be repaired, but it would probably make seven dollar a gallon gasoline seem like a fond memory of cheap fuel for a long time until it was fixed.

Who asked the American voter if this was something they want to sign on to? No one. No wonder an ethos of every man for himself seems to have taken over our once much more united country!

(For this and previous articles

* * *

* * *


Regarding the infamous Weimar inflation: Many years ago my brother Armand took a long bicycle ride with his best bud on a cold and windy day. They set out riding with the wind but when they had to ride against the wind heading home they became quite exhausted and scanned the fields on either side for a place to take respite. They spotted an unoccupied shed and let themselves in. Armand discovered a huge quantity of banknotes rolled up and banded with thick rubber bands. The notes were large and beautiful specimens of currency which turned out to be from the Weimar Republic era. It was quite exciting since Armand didn’t know Weimar from third base until later. He kept this currency which came into my possession when he died in 2014. I have this roll of bills in a file cabinet in my man cave. I keep them as a reminder of what hyper-inflation looks like. There are many funny tales about German hyperinflation. People would carry money around in baskets during the day, and if they waited too long to spend it and absent mindedly set the basket down somewhere for a moment or two, someone might steal the basket and leave the money on the sidewalk. Or using money to start fires in wood burning stoves. Or using it as garden mulch. Especially amusing is people carrying cash around in wheelbarrows when they needed to make a big purchase.

* * *


The US military has released newly declassified video of the Tuesday encounter between a US surveillance drone and a Russian fighter jet as it played out over the Black Sea.

A senior US official says the video “absolutely confirms” that there was a physical collision and dumping of fuel. Russia had denied direct contact with the drone.

Russia said its military will decide on whether to retrieve the downed US Reaper drone. The US said earlier it was taking measures to ensure it won't fall into the wrong hands but admitted it may never be recovered. 

Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues in Bakhmut as Ukraine destroyed a Russian Su-25 jet over the eastern Ukrainian city, according to a commander.

* * *

* * *


On March 20, the Legal Subcommittee of the UN's Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will begin its annual meeting in Vienna. The Working Group on the Legal Aspects of Space Resources will be meeting three times during the two-week session, starting March 21. I have written an article about their five-year mission to develop "additional international governance instruments", available at:

The LSC plenary and technical sessions will be streamed online. Links, a calendar, statements, session documents, daily journals, and other relevant information are available at:

This is the first time in over four decades that the member states of COPUOS have agreed even to consider a new international agreement. It may be humanity's best opportunity to choose cooperation over conflict as we prepare to leave the home world.

Dennis O'Brien, Founder/President, The Space Treaty Project

Our Mission: To give people Hope and Inspiration by helping the nations of the world to build a Common Future.

* * *

Alfred Hitchcock and a baby on the set of The Birds (1963)


  1. Marmon March 17, 2023


    Matt Taibbi just dumped another batch of twitter files. Fauci and his friends at Stanford should be arrested immediately and held without bail. They censored true stories through social media platforms about vaccine side effects and natural immunity because they were worried that the true stories may result in vaccine hesitancy. Fauci lied and people died.

    1.The Great Covid-19 Lie Machine Stanford, the Virality Project, and the Censorship of “True Stories”.

    Marmon MSW
    The Conservative Social Worker

    • Bruce Anderson March 17, 2023

      Fauci has done an honest job in an ever-fluid medical situation characterized by a constantly mutating virus, part of his service performed in the impossible context of Trump. Fair play for Fauci!

      • Eric Sunswheat March 17, 2023

        Fauci, Covid Bad Actor

        —>. January 19, 2023
        Unredacted records obtained by The Nation and The Intercept offer detailed insights into those confidential deliberations.

        The documents show that in the early days of the pandemic, Fauci and Collins took part in a series of email exchanges and telephone calls in which several leading virologists expressed concern that SARS-CoV-2 looked potentially “engineered.”

        The participants also contemplated the possibility that laboratory activities had inadvertently led to the creation and release of the virus. The conversations convey a sense of anxious urgency and included speculation about the specific types of laboratory techniques that might have caused the virus’s emergence.

        After roughly a week of debate and data collection, one of the key figures involved in the deliberations characterized the focus of the group’s work as follows: “to disprove any type of lab theory.” Several of the scientists on the calls and emails then went on to write and publish “Proximal Origin.” It became one of the best-read papers in the history of science.

        The records presented here were made public by the NIH in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by this reporter.

      • George Hollister March 17, 2023

        Come on Bruce. Trump? Trump was easy, compared to a rightly skeptical public. It would have saved Fauci a lot of grief if Trump had fired him.

      • peter boudoures March 17, 2023

        It’s not an honest job if you aren’t being honest. Regardless, if you were following the pandemic and couldn’t figure out the truth then that’s on you for being fooled.

    • Jimmy March 17, 2023

      Conservative Social Worker… There’s an oxymoron for you

      • Bruce McEwen March 17, 2023

        An OxyMarmon on OxyContin … ?

        Gilbert & Sullivan could do something w/ that but my talents don’t seem to lay in that direction.

      • George Hollister March 17, 2023

        Actually, the oxymoron is liberal social worker.

  2. Eric Sunswheat March 17, 2023


    RE: Of course, the most outrageous act of war has to be the wanton destruction of Russia and Germany’s $12 billion Nordstream 2 gas pipeline; (John Arteaga)

  3. Marmon March 17, 2023

    “I dutifully got the vaccine and all boosters. The Virality Project shows a clear desire to deamplify or cover up true stories of side effects and is the first thing I’ve read that’s made me think twice about the shot. Trying to force trust, they had the opposite effect.”

    -Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi

    Marmon MSW
    The Conservative Social Worker

  4. Jim Armstrong March 17, 2023

    I worked at a tasting room for many years and visited dozens over a longer period.
    Comparing that “job” to that of a waiter or waitress is ridiculous.
    Tips are for the underpaid and overworked.

  5. Marilyn Davin March 18, 2023

    Re Tips: Had there not been an adorable 8-year-old grandson in the family, I could report truthfully that we never frequent fast-food dining establishments. But he’s the only kid in the family these days, and despite being a strict vegeterian he loves to wolf down the occasional grilled cheese with fries at In -N-Out Burger. Upon paying for the repast last week we noticed the absence of a tip line on the debit receipt and attempted to give the two fresh-faced young people at the counter a $10 bill. They smiled warmly in unison and said they don’t accept tips. I asked them what they were paid and was told they make $20 an hour. Being naturally suspicious I logged onto to learn that 20-bucks an hour is within In-N-Out Burger’s salary range.
    For a 40-hour-per-week employee $20 an hour adds up to $41,600 per year.
    I’m no fan of In-N-Out Burger with its creepy biblical references, and have no desire to further enrich the coffers of owner-heiress Lynsi Snyder, who as of last month had a net worth of $4.2 billion. And even though the high cost of living may not go much further here than in some poor MAGA state where fast-food workers make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, California’s rising minimum wage of $15.50 is at least a step in the right direction. It’s why we don’t live in Mississippi.

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