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UNSEASONABLY COLD TEMPERATURES and a chance for light rain and snow showers will persist through Sunday. A strong Pacific cyclone is projected to impact the area with strong winds, heavy rain and heavy mountain snow Monday and Tuesday, with lingering impacts into Wednesday. Drier weather is expected for Thursday and Friday. (NWS)
COUNTY'S POINTLESS FIGHT WITH SHERIFF Cost Taxpayers Almost $400K
by Mark Scaramella
On August 4, 2021, several months after then-CEO Carmel Angelo threatened to send a bill to Sheriff Kendall for $1.6 million for ordinary law enforcement overtime, as she simultaneously undertook steps to fold the Sheriff’s computer system into the County’s larger system, the Supervisors tried to convince Sheriff Kendall that they hadn't meant it, that there was no conflict, that the Sheriff could have his own attorney to argue against the CEO’s revenge ploys.
But the Supervisors didn’t offer to settle the matter, instead they hoped to cajole Sheriff Kendall to just fold up his tent and go home, as if the Sheriff had “sued” the County by demanding his own attorney. The Supervisors hoped the Sheriff would at least accept a random attorney from LA chosen by County Counsel Christian Curtis instead of the local attorney Kendall preferred, Duncan James, an attorney who has feasted on Mendo's civic incompetence for many years.
Sheriff Kendall told the Board he was “not happy we’re going down this road. I truly am not. I didn’t pick the music. I didn’t put the quarter in the jukebox. But we are dancing this dance now. We just need to get clarity and get this behind us. I didn’t pick this fight and everybody knows that. I deserve to have someone I trust represent me. Not someone from Los Angeles or San Francisco.”
Former CEO Carmel Angelo, the instigator of the conflict — “I'll show you, Mr. Man” — had “put the quarter in the jukebox,” aggressively supported by Supervisors Gjerde and Williams and County Counsel Christian Curtis. At that August 2021 meeting the Board suddenly decided that in their opinion there wasn’t a conflict, despite the active court case that was moving along in Judge Moorman’s courtroom, albeit at a glacial pace.
CEO Angelo sat quietly aside watching the ineffectual exchange she had spawned with no questions asked of her. It was as if the Board was more worried about upsetting their domineering CEO than they were about facing the wrath of the voters for wasting our time. Most local voters, if offered a choice, would simply support the Sheriff and whatever reasonable funding and computer set up he needs.
Now here we are almost two years since the silly threats were made and the numbers are in. And, as we suspected, it is worse than we thought.
In response to our Public Records Request about a month ago, Assistant County Counsel Charlotte Scott wrote:
“We have uploaded the responsive records to your PRA request seeking ‘invoices and payment records associated with case number 21cv00561, Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall v. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors…’ In response to your inquiry ‘from which budget line item were payments made out of?’, as reflected in the uploaded payment records, legal services invoices for the defense of the litigation were paid from the budget line item 1020, Executive Office budget. Payment of $150,000 to the Law Office of Duncan M. James was from budget line item 1210, County Counsel budget. This concludes the County’s response to your PRA. Thank you.”
What were those “legal services”? According to the invoices submitted by the expensive SF-based Renne Public Law Group, they were for “mediation services” — not “defense of the litigation” (the Sheriff had asked the Court to order Mendo to pay for his own attorney; he did not initiate “litigation”) — over a six-month period starting in October of 2022 and continuing through March of 2023 about the time the case was settled. (We still don't have any paperwork providing the actual terms of the settlement.)
There’s no evidence the Board of Supervisors new about, much less approved of the “mediation services” and its funding.
The invoices submitted by Renne LLC over that six month period from October 2022 to March of 2023 totaled almost $230k. There were also about $3k in admin costs such as transcriptions and court papers. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of hours of County Counsel’s office staff time during the first year of the pointless dispute.
Originally, Kendall asked for $50k to cover Duncan James’s costs to basically tell the Supervisors that they couldn’t charge the Sheriff for ordinary overtime expenses nor could they absorb his computer system into the County’s system. Of course, County Counsel Curtis should have told the Board that at the outset and the jukebox need not have been plugged in.
Instead, now, more than $380k later, nobody’s talking about charging the Sheriff for law enforcement overtime (in fact they used some covid money to pay it, no questions asked), and simple no-cost discussions between the Sheriff’s IT person and the County’s IT person about keeping things separate are now being finalized. Those discussions should have been held two years ago before CEO Angelo put the quarter in the jukebox.
During the more than 18 months since CEO Angelo’s music began not once did any Supervisor wonder about the cost of their folly, despite their frequent complaints about being short of money.
In a normal county, this ridiculous fiasco would be a front page scandal and a major embarrassment, and heads would roll. But not here Behind the Green Curtain. It’s just another waste to shrug off until the next one comes along.
WILLETTE PETERMAN FOR THE ORTIZ FAMILY: Kim has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has a long journey ahead of her to beating this. Having your love, support, prayers and meals for her and the family would be greatly appreciated during this journey. You can also venmo her at: @Kimberlee-Ortiz-27 Thank you
HUGE THANK YOU!
The Junior High had their second dance tonight and it was well attended and well-behaved and, most importantly enjoyed by all. Thank you to Julie Honegger, Kim Jenderseck, and David Ballantine for chaperoning along with our dedicated parents. I tripped fell down and was beat in a game of chaperone musical chairs by Julie H., but she is the undisputed powerhouse CHAMP! I was touched when one of the students asked if I was okay and gave me a hug. Nice kids and all is well.
Coach Toohey and Palma had an inspiring girls' softball game in Laytonville and everyone played. You should see those fancy new uniforms! Good stuff!
Sunday at 3:00 is the WASC meet and greet at the hotel. If you want to come (all AVUSD IS INVITED) please do just give me a heads up if you are not on the list, so I can make sure we have enough yummy food. I will say we worked hard and we are ready.
Another huge shout out to Guy and Dennis for their work at the high school getting ready with the physical plant aesthetics for WASC. Not easy trying to make a 70 year old look GRAND. I have to tell you, I am absolutely thrilled to see student work up in the halls and the amazing ceramics and paintings in the display cases. As it should be...
Staff and community are also welcome to the share out from the committee on Tuesday at 3:30 in Room 1. Join us if you are free.
I also welcome our new district painter, Miguel Hernandez, who is knocking out the stage for the return to a traditional graduation! We want to invite the community to celebrate our kids and all that they have become!
Long night. Good stuff! I appreciate you all.
Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District
GOFUNDME LAUNCHED FOR SKUNK TRAIN SINGER BATTLING CANCER
The campaign has raised over $28,000 in three days
by Charles Swanson
Mendocino County musician and educator Greg Schindel has won the hearts of countless riders of the Skunk Train for more than 30 years, sharing classic train songs and entertaining families as the Train Singer.
Now, Schindel’s wife Donna is asking the public for help as Greg battles prostate cancer.
On Wednesday, Donna launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical expenses and transportation to treatments. The campaign has raised over $28,000 in just three days.
Possessing his signature handlebar mustache and a consummate smile, Greg moved to Willits in 1983, working as Visual and Performing Arts Director for the Willits Unified School District. According to Donna, Greg first rode the Skunk Train as an entertainer on a field trip.
“He has a background in folk music and he knew a few train songs back then, and took it from there,” she said.
Greg joined the Skunk Train in 1988 as a regular performer and created the Train Singer character himself. Donna said the mustache has been there most of the time.
“That’s part of the persona; the man, the myth and the mustache,” she said.
In addition to performing as the Train Singer, Schindel — who turns 77 on April Fools’ Day — remained a part of the school district as a substitute teacher until last year.
Greg’s other musical endeavors include serving as longtime director of hymns and music at St. Francis in the Redwoods Episcopal Church, performing his original music in the band Kindred Souls and participating in Willits Community Theater productions and events like Willits Frontier Days.
Donna said he began to have chest pains about a year ago and wasn’t finding answers.
He was diagnosed with stage four metastatic prostate cancer six weeks ago after undergoing an assortment of blood tests, X-ray, biopsy, CT and bone scans.
“We’re just on the beginning of this road right now,” Donna said.
Potential treatments include radiation to slow the cancer and relieve pain in Greg’s bones, hormone therapy and possible chemotherapy. Donna said most of the treatment would be done in Ukiah.
“What can I say? Some days are good and some aren’t. There’s an emotional toll on the whole diagnosis also,” she said.
Despite the toll of the diagnosis, Donna said the couple are overwhelmed by the GoFundMe campaign’s early success.
“This relieves a huge amount of stress, at least initially as we go forward with treatments,” Donna said. She added that the owners of the Skunk Train and groups like the Willits Community Theater have expressed interest in planning benefit events.
Donna doesn’t think Greg will have the stamina to continue his Train Singer duties once the Skunk Train’s season starts at the end of this month, but she said he’s still playing music everyday.
“Music is Greg’s life. Music is what feeds his soul, and what makes so many people share his joy,” Donna said. “He’s a very joyful person and that’s what people get from him and his music, and I think that's why there’s been such a tremendous response.”
For more information, and to donate, go to bit.ly/3LPJ2Dd.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
KELSEYVILLE SNOW, 2023: Joan Burroughs forwards the snow evidence from her Clearlake aerie
COUNTY OF MENDOCINO URGENTLY REQUESTING RESIDENTS COMPLETE THE FEBRUARY/MARCH SNOW EMERGENCY DAMAGE REPORT
The County is seeking immediate assistance from the public to self-report damages resulting from the severe weather and snowstorms that occurred from February 21, 2023, to the present. Information provided is vital for the County to secure FEMA Individual Assistance and other forms of aid for county residents who suffered damages to homes, businesses and agricultural infrastructure. If you suffered damages, particularly major damages to your primary residence, the County needs to hear from you as soon as possible!
The survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SnowRecovery, by visiting www.Mendoready.org or scanning the QR Code below with your phone.
Please complete the survey as soon as possible or reach out to Disaster Recovery at Disasterrecovery@mendocinocounty.org to report your damages.
As more recovery resources become available, we will publish the updates on the county’s social media below.
Mendocino County Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mendocinocounty/) and Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/countymendocino.)
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: “It will be my desire to see each Department submitting a brief summary every month and will have the expectation that the Departments use this resource to communicate with the public. Elected officials are also encouraged to submit the summary to the CEO so that it can be published.”
MARK SCARAMELLA COMMENTS: The latest CEO report is nothing but a random collection of generic departmental functions and services. There’s no data, no reports, no information, no charts, no lists, no graphs, and no organization, even though the CEO brags that the new format is somehow compliant with the Board’s new and utterly pointless “Strategic Plan.” Why doesn’t the Supervisor simply put an item on the agenda calling for monthly reports with specific content requirements? E.g., budget status, personnel/staffing/vacancies, workloads and backlogs, projects and grants status, issues needing attention. We are not holding our breath for such basic management reports, especially considering that Ms. Mulheren can’t bring herself to go any farther stating her “desire.” But we will keep an eye out for any glimmers of progress.
JIM SHIELDS WRITES:
Ok, I'm back in the saddle again, just been crazy busy past couple of weeks. Our Laytonville town council decided Wednesday night to divorce Laytonville from the County Seat on the operations of our emergency shelter.
I've attached a story I did back in '96 on the county screwing Helen Ochoa, of Leggett. Your column we ran this week referred to Leggett being moved out of District 3 recently. I believe it was moved following the 1990 redistricting because my story references Leggett already then being in the 4th, with Pinches offering to assist Liz H. because he was closer to Leggett than she was.
Yeah, half of Spyrock and all of Bell Springs were moved to the 4th in the 2020 redistricting. At the time, the 3rd District was something like 700 to a 1,000 residents above the other four districts, as I recall, from my work with the Laytonville town council on redistricting. We worked for a month to six weeks trying to come up with a way to retain them but couldn't do it because it was a numbers game. Supe Gjerde was very helpful in trying to work with us to keep them here but there was just no way unless we did something like excise west Willits or Brooktrails over to the Coast, which, of course, was not politically viable with them, especially since the 3rd District's Redistricting Committee's rep hailed from Willits. Ironically, I suspect that since the 2020 Census, we've lost a hell of lot of population from the greater Laytonville area due to the ongoing Green Rusher exit following the collapse of the weed industry owing to the dead-duck Pot Ordinance that has wrecked our economy here in the north county. And the beat goes on.
SUPES HEAR LEGGETT WIDOW’S LAMENT
by Jim Shields (Mendocino County Observer, May 10, 1996)
The Supes listened in rapt attention Tuesday as a Leggett widow told them she has been hounded into bankruptcy by an overzealous Planning and Building Department. According to Helen Ochoa, P&B recently “red-tagged” four rental units on her Leggett property forcing her to evict the tenants. The rental units were on property she and her husband Bill purchased approximately 20 years ago. Bill Ochoa, who died a year ago, was known as the unofficial “Mayor of Leggett.” He helped found the Leggett Volunteer Fire Department, headed up the Chamber of Commerce, was a moving force behind the Mountain Folk Festival, held the post of Commander of the Leggett Valley American Legion and was involved in literally hundreds of community volunteer projects.
Evidently, for 20 years, the rental units somehow slipped through bureaucratic cracks as the original title search and subsequent assessments by the assessor’s office failed to disclose any difficulties with P&B codes. “When we bought the property 20 years ago nobody from the county, Building and Planning or the Assessor’s Office said anything to us about any problems with our property,” Mrs. Ochoa related to the Board. “Now all of a sudden, the county says those buildings are illegal. How could this happen? For years, we paid our taxes. Now I’m going through bankruptcy. I’m in the process of losing everything Bill and I worked for. I’m at the end of my rope and under a doctor’s care. My dignity has been taken away.”
Adding insult to injury, Mrs. Ochoa was served in the past week with another citation from P&B ordering her to remove several junk vehicles from her property. According to the 66-year-old woman, the old cars are not hers — she says they belong to a neighbor — and are not even on her property. Yet, she’s been ordered to haul them away. “Does anybody down here know what’s going on? I think it’s a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing,” she asserted.
Fourth District Supervisor Liz Henry, whose district includes Leggett, sympathized with Mrs. Ochoa. “Bill was a good person who did a lot of work for the people of this county,” she said. Henry explained that part of the problem is that the Assessor’s records are confidential and that office cannot share its information with other agencies and departments. So while the Assessor’s office may have been aware of the status of certain buildings on the Ochoa property for 20 years, that information was never passed on to P&B. Planning and Building became aware of the alleged non-code units earlier this year when a neighbor filed a complaint.
John Pinches, of the 3rd District, offered to investigate the matter for the Board, even though Leggett is outside his district. “Having already spoken to Helen, I’m somewhat familiar with the problem,” Pinches stated. “It’s probably more convenient for Liz (Henry) if I handle it since I’m closer to Leggett than she is.” Henry agreed to Pinches’ offer and also assured Mrs. Ochoa that the Board would do whatever was possible to resolve her dilemma.
TACOS IN THE AFTERNOON: Don’t forget to come by this Saturday at the Anderson Valley Brewing Co. and get some delicious Tacos! from 1pm to 6:30pm. Hope to see you there!
MENDO’S LATTER DAY BLACK BART
I’ve been unable to read the AVA since getting back to San Quentin. I’m allowed a local paper and being a long-time fan and headliner, I was hoping to be put back on the subscription list. I have no money, but what I can give is some headlines on occasion. I really do love the AVA.
Trevor ‘The Peachland Gunfighter’ Jackson
BE 9877 2w 32
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
PS. Could you include a copy of your coverage of my Peachland incident? I’ll try to scrape up some money for a subscription.
GUN BATTLE ON PEACHLAND (AVA, June 15, 2016)
Last Wednesday, a little after midnight, shots were heard in deep Peachland. Soon after, a couple returning to their home was startled by the sudden appearance of “two unidentified white males” who explained that they'd been robbed during a marijuana transaction. Other persons glimpsed furtively moving about Peachland that night were described as “cartel Mexicans.”
THE PAIR of white men said they'd valiantly fought back against their assailants by shooting out the bandit's tires and then chasing him or them on foot. The two men reporting what turned out to be an inexplicable and almost certainly fanciful version of events then disappeared into the night.
TO SUMMARIZE first reports: Upper Peachland is the site of large-scale grows conducted by people with no other association to the Anderson Valley, although one or more otherwise vacant properties are owned by locals who may be in the pot business on a shares basis.
A GUN FIGHT broke out in or around one of these sites late last Wednesday night. The shooting involved an unknown number of persons, some of whom made their way on to uninvolved properties lower down the hill. They included the two unidentified white men subsequently reported to police.
AS MATTERS developed, a rather infamous blue Jeep was found on Peachland Road approximately seven miles east of Highway 128. It had been shot to death, with all four tires flattened and a final shot administered to its engine block.
THE NEXT DAY, Anderson Valley’s resident deputy Craig Walker, as diligent as he is tireless, examined the dead Jeep. In it he found a receipt from the drive-thru window of the Ukiah Burger King time-stamped 4pm. And since the Jeep had already been linked to a named individual spotted on upper Peachland, Walker soon knew who he was looking for to explain the gunplay earlier in the week.
THE JEEP is well-known to local law enforcement, and known to be driven by a man even more well-known to law enforcement than his distinctive vehicle, which is owned by his love interest, Miss Alexandra Long.
DEPUTY WALKER was soon on the trail of Miss Long's boy friend, Trevor Jackson, who fit the description of one of two men who were driving around the same neighborhood of the gunfire this past Saturday, a mere three days after the mysterious gun battle. His Jeep being dead, Jackson was now driving a white Ford pick-up pulling an empty U-Haul trailer.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON, a local had alerted Deputy Walker that a strange white pick-up was cruising Upper Peachland. Deputy Walker waited at the foot of Peachland Road for the pick-up to emerge from the hills. The deputy followed it to the Redwood Drive-In, noting that the white pick-up (of course) did not have a front license plate. Deputy Walker pulled the truck over and, with the formidable deputy Massey still twenty minutes out from Boonville where he'd function as back-up, Walker slapped the cuffs on Jackson and his companion, a man with a lengthy criminal history named Lewis Dishman, and began questioning the pair.
JACKSON AND DISHMAN said they had indeed been in Deep Peachland last Wednesday to install an irrigation system on an unnamed grow. They said their Jeep had gotten a flat tire, forcing them to walk from out of the hills some seven miles. They denied any knowledge of gunfire or any confrontation with anyone. They told Deputy Walker they'd returned with a trailer simply to retrieve their dead Jeep. They said they were sorry to learn their Jeep was dead.
DEPUTY WALKER couldn't help but see that Jackson and Dishman were tweeked to pulse-rate max, a visible fact they both readily conceded. Jackson had $3934.39 in cash in one of his pockets. He said the money was payment for his irrigation work in the Peachland. Were Jackson and Dishman the two men who appeared on the uninvolved Peachland property soon after Wednesday night's gunfire? Odds are…
CHIEF CERVANKA, FBPD: Today, I was honored to attend a press conference at Harvest Market. Fort Bragg is on the map again as Harvest Market is part of a revolutionary CalFresh program which rewards those with EBT cards who purchase a certain amount of fresh produce with more funds monthly to purchase more produce. This is huge for our community! Also, they are the first grocery store in the state to go live! It was a long road, but they were committed to it. Way to go Harvest Market! You’re making the Coast a better place!
UP, UP AND AWAY WITH PINT ARENA
Agenda for March 28, 2023 meeting: mailchi.mp/07f283d20472/city-council-meeting-march-28-2023
BUD BREAK, GRAPEVINES, which means no break for us for at least the next month as the frost fans crank on around midnight until an hour or so past dawn, disturbing the sleep of (pick a number) of a thousand residents or so of the Anderson Valley.
OF ALL the new names proposed for Fort Bragg, Harvey Reading's wins the gold. Harvey proposes, “How about OhNoyoDon’t?”
THE PIED PIPER for the silly proposal to re-name Fort Bragg is a retired professor named Zwerling, presumably a resident of the town. Zwerling shared his recent excitement at two appropriately silly letters in a recent Fort Bragg Advocate: “How cool to see letters in favor of the name change from Richard and Chas in today’s Advocate-News.”
We have lived in Fort Bragg for 18 years, and I have always been perturbed by the name “Fort Bragg”. The ‘fort’ was utilized only as a way to subdue and punish native Pomo people, and the “Bragg” was a Confederate, slave-holding officer of questionable repute. It seems so very odd that this picturesque village at the mouth of the Noyo River should have such a drab and utterly unimaginative name. Even the military Fort Bragg in North Carolina is changing its name this year. Some people I have talked to on this issue, particularly the natives born and raised here, are dead-set against changing the name. One even called me a ‘Nazi’. I think that a beautiful town like ours should have a name befitting its scenic and breathtaking qualities. I suggest a name like Noyo or Noyo River.Chas Fleischman, Fort Bragg
ED NOTE: Lincoln dispatched troops to the Mendocino Coast to protect the Native Americans, not murder them.
As a person who has frequented businesses in Fort Bragg for almost 45 years, I feel a need to have a voice in a potential name change. Even though my zip code is officially 95460, a big part of my life and heart are focused on the misnamed town of Fort Bragg. What an honor it would be to have a new name for the town that befits and honors those who love the little burg.Richard Karch, Mendocino
ED NOTE: How about 'Karchville' to ease your perturbation, Mr. K?
KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ) recently got off a couple of zingers at her Democrat colleagues in conversations with Republicans behind closed doors this year, according to Politico. At one reception, Sinema reportedly told a group of GOP lobbyists why she stopped attending her caucus’ weekly luncheons in the Capitol. “Those lunches were ridiculous,” she said, according to an attendee. “Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are. I don’t really need to be there for that.” She went on to joke that: “The Northerners and the Westerners put cool whip on their Jell-O and the Southerners put cottage cheese.”
Mendo County government was never interested or capable of successfully orchestrating a weed permitting program. Many of us predicted that they would eventually bail out and let the state take over, thus forgoing any County revenue from the Devil’s lettuce. That seems to be rolling into that direction now.
But Mendocino County, as a place, also suffers from its own inherent challenges: steep topography, distance from major cities, redwood forests full of sensitive species and a culture of folks never wanting to be part of the system (three cheers for that!).
“Well Humboldt County, particularly Southern Humboldt, is just the same,” one might exclaim. Not really, Humboldt gave out permits to relatively large grows, many of which were politically connected. Hoards of Southern Humboldters fled to Oregon or other nether-regions.
Please show me the national stats on how small-craft weed competes with large-scale Okie indoor. I’d be willing to bet that it doesn’t and never will. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
AND HOW MANY public hours have been squandered by the Supervisors discussing the pot subject? Mendo County, led around by its uncomprehending nose by CEO Angelo, thought marijuana would be a great, taxable gift to the county, the same county now poised to donate the whole local pot mess to the state. Among the people who cautioned against counting on marijuana as a great fiscal boon, was Sheriff Allman, who warned it wouldn't work. The only agency that did make some money for the county off dope was the DA, whose innovative strategy of dropping pot charges in exchange for proportionate cash fines, not only raked in a lot of dough for bumbling local government, it spared the expense of endless court cases. Sure, a few stoners whined that the DA's plan was “extortion,” but most thought it was better than rolling the dice of a prosecution.
HUMCO MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED IN MENDO
An arrest has been made in the 2018 homicide of Anthony Joseph Calderone.
On March 22, 2023, 38-year-old Matthew Gabriel Susmilch was arrested on a Ramey Warrant at the Mendocino County Jail, where he was also booked on unrelated warrant charges out of Mendocino County.
Susmilch’s arrest comes after a four-year investigation into the shooting death. Calderone was located deceased in the early morning hours of December 7, 2018, inside a vehicle in the area of State Highway 36 near mile marker 43.
Susmilch was booked on charges of felon in possession of a firearm and murder. He will be transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for prosecution at a later date.
Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
ARSON TRIAL MOVED TO MARIN COUNTY - Jury Selection Is Scheduled For July 18
by Justine Frederiksen
The trial of a man charged with setting a fire that destroyed nearly 50 structures in Calpella two years ago has been moved to Marin County, Assistant District Attorney Dale Trigg confirmed Wednesday.
Devin Lamar Johnson, 22, was charged by District Attorney David Eyster with aggravated arson for allegedly “maliciously and deliberately… with intent to cause injury to one or more persons,” setting a fire that burned more than two dozen homes and evacuated hundreds of residents from an area just north of Ukiah in September of 2021.
A trial was not scheduled for nearly a year after the fire due to concerns surrounding Johnson’s mental status, but the defendant was declared “restored to competency” in July of 2022, and a trial was then scheduled for the following month.
After more delays, the trial was finally underway this year, but soon after jury selection began Jan. 23, Trigg said that Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder approved a change of venue for Johnson’s trial.
Trigg said this week that two counties were being considered as hosts, Colusa and Marin, and that Eyster’s office would have preferred that the trial be held in Colusa.
“In terms of convenience for our witnesses and staff attending the trial, Colusa County seemed a little closer and more cost-effective,” he said.
“However, we are prepared to try the case in Marin County.”
Trigg said that the next court proceeding scheduled is a pre-trial conference on May 8, and that jury selection is scheduled to begin on July 18.
Johnson was arrested two days after allegedly starting the Hopkins Fire on Sept. 19, 2021, after investigators from multiple agencies, including the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire and the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, had obtained surveillance footage from a nearby business that showed an adult man starting the fire on Hopkins Street near the Moore Street Bridge.
According to the MCSO, Johnson was on “active, felony probation for an attempted robbery charge” at the time of his arson arrest, and was booked into Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of “three separate charges of arson: aggravated arson (multiple structures), arson of an inhabited structure, and arson during a state of emergency.”
UNFUNDED PENSION NEWS
Hi Glenn [Supervisor Glenn McGourty],
Just a heads up. I'll be applying to the open 4th seat on the Retirement Board, and I hope I have your support.
I served for five years on the Retirement Board (2012-2017) for which I received a proclamation. I never missed a meeting. I earned certificates from CALAPRS for trainings at Standford Law School, UC Berkey's Haas School, and UCLA's Anderson School.
Additionally, I have had a long career on Wall Street before moving to Mendocino County -- Series 7 and Series 3, no sanctions, clean record at FINRA.
I started my career in 1979, at Alex Brown & Sons, America's oldest investment bank. Most recently, I worked at UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank.
I have an MA, 1979, and BA, 1977, from The Johns Hopkins University.
Here's a snapshot of the current status of our county's retirement system:
MCERA’s funded ratio at 6/30/2022 was 73.2% on an actuarial valuation value of assets and 71.4% on a market value basis.
In dollar terms, the association’s UAAL at 6/30/2022 was $233.9 million. Of course, that number is probably bigger at the present time.
In dollars, our current FY monthly negative cash flow is approximately $675,000 per month.
Our investment performance compared to our benchmarks varies depending on asset class and time period. Go to review page 10 of the 12/31/2022 Quarterly Investment Review for the quarter, year, 3-year, 5-year, 7-year, 10-year and 15-year performance for each assets class and its benchmark.
We allocated at least a small allocation to alternative investments, diversifying from equities, bonds, and government securities. In addition to equity and fixed income funds, MCERA invests in real estate funds and in 2020 added two infrastructure funds. More information is available in the monthly investment reports.
The average employer contribution rate across all categories/tiers for the current FY is 35.73%. The average rate for FY 23/24 is 37.18%. Please see page 12 of the 6/30/2022 valuation for the rates by tier. Employee contribution rates can also be found the actuarial report.
We are strictly still a defined benefit plan (no defined benefit/defined contribution hybrid), although MCERA’s plan sponsors (County and Court) offer a voluntary defined contribution plan separate from MCERA.
No “off the books” liabilities, i.e., negative amortization. None of the amortization periods have negative amortization, although this was true in past years.
I've been wondering how do we stress-test our system. The recent banking crisis with SVB, Signature Bank, Credit Suisse, and now Deutsche Bank, has me worried. The answer to the stress test question is that MCERA’s annual valuation includes Volatility Ratios and a Risk Assessment. In addition to the risk assessment included in the annual valuation, MCERA commissions a more detailed, stand-alone Actuarial Risk Assessment report that is completed every 3-years to coincide with the plan’s triennial experience study. The annual GAS 68 report also provides information on the sensitivity of the Net Pension Liability to changes in the discount rate.
Doris Rentschler, MCERA's executive director, has been very helpful, very responsive, in getting me up to speed on MCERA's “Fact Sheet”.
BILL KIMBERLIN: Eight hours in Ukiah. If you go...Walk the West side neighborhoods. Try Mama's for breakfast. This place has a bakery and that is always good sign. Out by the golf course is a nice park. End up at “The Broiler” for steaks that rival or surpass anything in the Bay Area.
“The night I was born Ma, Pa, and big sister Cal played cutthroat pinochle by lantern light in the log house of my youth. Ma held a winning hand when the labor pains hit, wouldn't lay down her cards 'til she made her bid.”
That's the opening paragraph of my novel, ‘Outlaw Ford.’
There's a fresh supply at The Bookstore at 137 E. Laurel Street in Fort Bragg. Give them a call at 707-964-6559.
You can also pick up copies of my collection of true-life local tales, ‘Mendocino History Exposed.’
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, March 23, 2023
STAR BRIGHTMAN, Willits. Battery with serious injury.
JUAN CORONADO-CAMPOS, Ukiah. DUI, no license, probation revocation.
WES FELIZ, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
ZACKARY HALLOCK, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ERIN JENNISON, Willits. Probation revocation.
TRINIDAD MAGDALENO-PULIDO, Ukiah. Felon-addict with firearm, short-barrled rifle, ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
VICENTE MENTA JR., Covelo. Controlled substance for sale while armed with loaded firearm, felon-addict with firearm, concealed handgun-not registered owner, concealed loaded weapon, marijuana for sale&transportation, paraphernalia, fabrication of firearm from parts.
ASHLEY MICKELSON, Willits. Failure to appear.
ADAM NOTT, Crescent City/Ukiah. County parole violation.
BIANCA SCHOFIELD, Point Arena. Failure to appear.
BRANDON SMITH, Ukiah. Parole violation.
DESTINY TURNEY, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
CHRISTOPHER UMSTED, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
BRANDON WAGNER, Boonville. Failure to appear.
TYSON YOUNG, Fortuna/Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury.
GROUND HAS BEEN BROKEN ON KLAMATH RIVER RESTORATION, the World’s Largest-Ever Dam-Removal Project
In a monumental step that’s taken decades to achieve, work has officially begun on the world’s largest-ever dam-removal project.
This complex endeavor will entail both removal of the four dams that comprise the Lower Klamath Hydropower Project, formerly owned by PacifiCorp, and major environmental restoration in and around the land that has been sitting at the bottom of man-made reservoirs for more than a century. …
* * *
UN-DAMING THE KLAMATH, an on-line comment:
Dam removal is a good thing. Folks should know however that it would have happened over a decade earlier if tribes and others had stayed in the FERC process and not done a special deal for owner Warren Buffett to walk away from the dams his firm owned and profited from for so many years. It was another special deal for the 1%. Shame on Craig Tucker and all who did this for Buffett and thereby delayed dam removal.
Mr Craig Tucker also continues to exaggerate what dam removal will do to restore the Klamath and its Salmon. I guess that is the way that particular consultant sells his services. I hope he does not screw up Eel River dam removal too.
The #1 action that would most restore the Klamath is to secure adequate flows from the Upper Basin, Shasta and Scott. Why are the tribes Tucker represents not pursuing that? Could the amount of funding they are getting from the US Bureau of Reclamation and the California Governor have something to do with that.
This is what systemic corruption is always about, that is, money and who gets it.
GREEN DAY, the Spy Rock years: Mendocino Homeland, art by Christopher Appelgren, songs by Kain Kong and Tre Cool, they let me play a little guitar on this record, too. 33 years down the road, and we still love and remember those days high atop Spy Rock and Iron Peak. (Larry Livermore)
ROAD TRUTH: I’m a truck driver who sees ridiculous, unsafe driving on a daily basis. Honestly, our highways are death traps all over the country, but it’s definitely more dangerous in mountainous regions like we live in. People really need to slow down. I propose that all new vehicles have a GPS tracker that lets the driver know when they’re speeding and gives a 30 second grace period before it sends out a signal to the nearest jurisdiction for a ticket issuance. Some will say it’s a privacy issue why that would never work, but I think it could be tweaked to only be used for the purpose of slowing people down. I dunno… thinking outloud.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Twice this week I found myself eating lunch and watching the ‘Free’ movie channel w/ subtitles on.
#1. I was watching The Ballad of Cable Hogue, the dialog line was; “we better stop pussy-footing around” the censor X’d out pussy.
#2 I was watching Tony Rome w/ Sinatra, the dialog line was, “where did you meet him? I was cocktailing in NYC”. The censor X’d out cock even though it was spoken.
STATE COMMITTEE CLEARS WAY FOR HOMELESS SPENDING AUDIT
California has spent more than $20 billion over the last five years to address the crisis of homelessness. The bipartisan Joint Legislative Audit Committee asked the state auditor on Wednesday to figure out what taxpayers have to show for their investment. “Homelessness is the most urgent issue facing California,” said Sen. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, one of the lawmakers to request the audit. “Given the crisis has only worsened, we need to know what the money has accomplished and what programs have been effective in moving people to permanent housing.” Niello joined Sens. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose; Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa; Assemblymen Evan Low, D-San Jose, and Josh Hoover, R-Folsom; in making the ask.
As Hoover noted in a statement, since 2018 “we have seen a 77% increase in our state’s homelessness population.” The auditor also will be tasked with investigating the City of San Jose’s approach to homeless spending. Cortese said in a statement that the audit wasn’t intended to single out any city, “it is to single out the fact that human suffering on our streets has persisted far too long.” Grant Parks, the new California State Auditor, told the committee that he expects the audit to take six to seven months to complete.
ELIZABETH WARREN FOR PRESIDENT
To the Editor:
I have been a full blooded Democrat since F.D.R was first elected in 1932. I have closely watched the ups and downs of the Democratic party to date.
I would like to see more participation from voters during the presidential primary. The state primaries swing widely because of media interference, last minute news events, money spent trying to pull the party to the right and dumb police of the DNC.
In the coming election I think the best person to serve as president is Elizabeth Warren. She hasn’t been mentioned in the press as one of the possibilities as a candidate thus far.
She ran very poorly in the 2020 primary never finishing better than third. She dressed like British factory worker. She would have dressed like a girl hosting her first birthday party.
What is the best thing to do? Send 1,000 letters from Mendocino County addressed to Elizabeth Warren, Senate Office building, Washington, asking her to please run for president and enclose a one dollar bill.
The hope is that 1,000 letters are sent from Humboldt County, Marin County as well. If these letters are sent about the same time, it should attract some media attention. Who knows, it might start a grassroots revolution.
VIETNAM: THE WAR THAT ROCKED THE WORLD
by Jonah Raskin
Watching Steve Talbot’s new documentary, The Movement and the “Madman,” reminded me of my own opposition to war, and also that over the past 75-years, US soldiers have gone into battle and died on distant battlefields in Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. I began to demonstrate against war in Harlem, N.Y. in 1964, where I heard balladeer Phil Ochs sing, later at the Pentagon in 1967, and in Washington D.C. in 1969 and in 1971 during the May Day protests when our slogan was, “If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”
I watched on TV when helicopters hovered above the U.S. embassy in Saigon and when the National Liberation Front liberated the city. In 1995 I visited Hanoi, met Vietnamese generals and old soldiers who had fought against France at Dien Bien Phu. War has been an integral part of my entire life.
No war since World War II has captured the hearts, minds and imaginations of Americans more than the War in Vietnam, which the Vietnamese call “The American War” to distinguish it from their wars of independence with the Japanese and the French.
Steve Talbot, the veteran San Francisco-based filmmaker, and a child actor long ago on the TV show, Leave it to Beaver, has crafted five inspiring movies about Vietnam the war, Vietnam the country and Vietnam the iconic place that has gave birth to a “syndrome” and to popular films such as Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, plus Ken Burns 18-hour PBS doc that hasn’t pleased “hawks,” “doves,” “peaceniks” and defiant protesters who shouted “Bring the war home.”
Talbot made his first Vietnam movie as a college student in the Sixties who trekked to Washington D.C., and, with school mates, cried out for peace. That first film is probably his most overtly personal expression, though his own impassioned personality infuses the docs he’s made about Bay Area writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Dashiell Hammett.
Talbot’s fifth and most recent Vietnam film,The Movement and the “Madman,” focuses on a bittersweet moment in the fall of 1969 when demonstrators called Nixon’s bluff (or was it an insane threat?) to use atomic weapons in South East Asia, which would have resulted in the death of millions of people and escalated the Cold War. The word “madman” is in quotation marks in the title of the film to make it clear that it’s not used as a medical diagnosis. It’s what Nixon himself in private called his military theory of threatening nuclear war.
A catastrophe of global proportions was averted in 1969, though U.S. forces would soon invade Laos and Cambodia and go on bombing North Vietnam. Indeed, the war would continue until 1973, when the Paris Peace Accords were signed. All the fighting would not really end until 1975. In 1973, Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho would be awarded the Nobel Prize, though Le Duc understandably declined to accept it. Giving the award to Kissinger, a war criminal if ever there was one, stands out to this day as an obscenity.
Now, 50 years after that prize—with a mad man in the Kremlin, young Russians fleeing from their own country in droves rather than fight in Ukraine—Vietnam takes on renewed emotional and historical significance as a pivotal event in a world once eager to end death and dying in places like the aptly named “Hamburger Hill,” where American soldiers were “processed” in combat as though they were so much raw meat.
With political savvy and artistic sophistication, Talbot honors the New Mobilization Committee to End the War on Vietnam, or MOBE—the largest and most inclusive of peace groups— and gives credit to peace movement foot soldiers such as Margery Tabankin and Frank Joyce who are not widely known or remembered today.
Inevitably and unavoidably, Talbot also omits some key players. Not on the screen in TheMovement and the “Madman” are the zany Yippies who claimed they levitated the Pentagon, nor the confrontational Weathermen who staged the riotous Days of Rage in Chicago in October 1969. (Weatherman Bill Ayers makes a very brief appearance. Yippie Jerry Rubin is on screen for a few moments).
Still, Talbot has mined and skillfully edited archival footage that shows clean-shaven college students, middle class men and women as well as union officials such as Walter Reuther, who believed in democracy and free speech and went out on a limb to affiliate the UAW with the youthful protesters. In The Movement and the “Madman” viewers see American citizens holding candlelight vigils, marching peacefully from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House, and gathering in public places to read the names and to honor the lives of Americans who died in Vietnam.
For those who were alive in the Sixties and remember that era, it will probably be heartening to hear peace activist Cora Weiss, one of the founders of Women’s Strike for Peace, call for a demonstration that would be safe enough for children to attend. The doc will likely be bone chilling for both Sixties veterans and today’s foes of global violence to learn that the Nixon administration borrowed the golf term “duck hook” to describe a planned military strategy, as though Vietnam was merely a sporting event.
John Ehrlichman, a member of Nixon’s inner circle, appears on screen as the heavy he played in real life and who made war on the anti-war movement. It’s a sobering moment in The Movement and the “Madman” when Ehrlichman has the audacity to speak with a German accent and threaten to arrest everyone who dares to defy his boss. He also intimates he’ll out anti-war gay men who are in the closet. Talbot has also resurrected footage of Pete Seeger strumming his banjo and rallying the faithful, John Lennon and Yoko Ono harmonizing, Crosby, Stills and Nash inspiring listeners and Credence Clearwater rocking the crowd. Clearly, the protesters had the best songs
Hawkish Henry Kissinger joins the list of Nixon notables on screen who tried to ignore Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame who announced recently at the age of 91 that he was dying of cancer. They also closed their minds to the likes of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, plus star right-handed pitcher, Tom Seaver, who said, “If the Mets can win the World Series, the US can get out of Vietnam.” Joan Libby, a peace movement stalwart, expresses the sentiments of a generation or two when she observed that for her protesting against the war was “a matter of conscience.”
Talbot has done his own conscience proud and honored the Americans who redeemed the red, white and blue patriotism of their ancestors when they made common cause with the Vietnamese who would not give up the desire to be a free and independent nation, though they were shot, killed, napalmed, corralled in “tiger cages” and their villages burned. The Movement and the “Madman” mightbe screened from Kyiv to Moscow, San Francisco to Hanoi, and wherever the flame of peace flickers under the terror of drones or burns brightly in night skies.
All honors to citizens around the world who would rather make love than war, or make loaves not war as the slogan reads at my neighborhood worker owned and operated bakery, Arizmendi.
Steve Talbot’s New Vietnam Doc, The Movement and the “Madman.” Debuts on KQED March 28 and streaming on PBS.org
MEMO OF THE AIR: Live on KNYO from Franklin St. all night Friday night!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 6pm. Or send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
I'll be in the clean, well-lighted back room of KNYO's 325 N. Franklin studio. To call and read your work in your own voice, the number is 707-962-3022. If you want to come in and do it in person, that's okay, I guess, but bring a real mask to put on.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other terrific shows.
As always, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find items of arguably human interest to peruse until showtime, or any time, such as:
“Henry, what was your favorite music when you were young?” “I guess it was Cab Calloway.”
$350 pick-proof lock can be picked in two seconds with a bit of wire.
And “Or else it gets the hose again.” Back when they had lots more nuns and monks around everywhere, they'd do this sort of thing with toothbrushes and Q-tips. The church resists innovation as long as it can and then lurches forward abruptly into greater convenience, as with the fountain-pen/ballpoint-pen issue, and retroactive elimination of Limbo and, farther back, the crusades of children, the inquisitions and tortures and so on, not necessarily in that order, nor to scale. Speaking of which: look how tiny Jesus is. It's exactly the reverse of when you see traffic lights on the ground for maintenance and they're as big as a refrigerator. Weird. (via Everlasting Blort)
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
HOMELAND SECURITY REORGANIZES, Appearing to Scrap Last Remnants of Ill-Fated ‘Disinformation Governance Board’
After an ugly congressional hearing and months of bad press for censorship advocates, a Homeland Security advisory panel undergoes sweeping changes
by Matt Taibbi & Susan Schmidt
The Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to present a less Orwellian exterior to the public took a big step forward this week, as it disbanded a key subcommittee linked to the Department’s ill-fated Disinformation Governance Board, announced last year and quickly “paused” amid public outcry.
Jen Easterly, head of the DHS’s cyber division — the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA — this week convened the agency’s influential Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC), which is made up of senior executives from organizations like Twitter, Amazon, and the Stanford Internet Observatory. The agency announced an expanded roster, adding 13 new members to CSAC, including chief cybersecurity officer for General Motors Kevin Tierney and Cathy Lanier, the chief security officer for the NFL. The full CSAC now contains 34 members.
However, amid the additions, CISA also shuffled responsibilities, making a key change. In particular, its “MDM” advisory subcommittee, for “Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation,” was scrapped.
The subcommittee’s leaders, including chairperson Kate Starbird of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public (CIP), and Vijaya Gadde, a former top Twitter executive who was fired last year when Elon Musk took over the company, were shifted to other advisory roles.
A spokesman for the agency said the change appeared in an unpublicized summary of a Dec. 6 advisory board meeting. The summary provided to Racket states Easterly decided late last year that the subcommittee had fulfilled its tasks and would “stand down”:
But that notice appears to have only been posted on the agency website recently (the Wayback Machine captured a first image of it in late February). CISA’s unique approach to website maintenance has drawn attention of late. Last week, Mike Benz of the Foundation for Freedom Online reported that CISA scrubbed key sections of its web page about its campaign against “Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation.” Crucially, the agency appeared to remove references to “domestic threat actors” as purveyors of “MDM.”
CISA’s MDM guidance now, and before
The updated page now refers to foreign actors only, and no longer makes reference to other domestic-facing programs, like an “MDM planning and incident response guide for election officials.”
The changes come amid months of embarrassing #TwitterFiles disclosures about formal DHS involvement in the content moderation procedures of Twitter and other platforms. Two weeks ago, Michael Shellenberger of Public and the co-author of this article told a House Subcommittee about the “Censorship Industrial Complex,” among other things criticizing the “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation” concept.
“MDM” was once central to CISA’s mission. In fact, it appeared to be the inspiration for the infamous Governance Board, which was designed to be a centralized hub uniting various public and private “anti-disinformation” initiatives. As reported by Lee Fang and Ken Klippenstein of The Intercept last October, Easterly in February of 2022 texted a former CISA official, saying she was “trying to get us in a place where Fed can work with platforms to better understand mis/dis trends so relevant agencies can try to prebunk/debunk as useful.”
Easterly’s February, 2022 text
It later came out that the DHS approved the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board on February 24, 2022. The charter for the new organization, which was announced to the public by DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas on April 27, 2022 and slated to be headed by singing censor Nina Jankowicz, spoke to the agency’s growing obsession with stopping “MDM” at home:
“DHS Disinformation Governance Board Charter
Section1. Purpose. The purpose of the Board is to support the Department’s efforts to address mis-, dis-, and mal-information (MDM), that threatens Homeland Security. Departmental components will lead on operational responses to MDM in their relevant mission spaces.”
All of this came out after news of the Governance Board inspired a public flip-out, leading Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Josh Hawley of Missouri to send the DHS formal demands for information. The documents the DHS produced showed CISA envisioned a deepening of its partnership with Twitter. On April 28, the day after the Governance Board was announced, DHS Undersecretary Robert Silvers was scheduled to meet with Twitter Head of Policy Nick Pickles and Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.
A briefing memo prepared for Silvers by Jankowicz advised him to discuss “operationalizing public-private partnerships between DHS and Twitter.” Silvers was to line up Twitter’s coordination with the new board, and ask it to “become involved in Disinformation Governance Board Analytic Exchanges”:
The creation of the Disinformation Governance Board represented a remarkable shift in focus, away from foreign threats and toward the domestic population.
The MDM subcommittee had actually once been called the Countering Foreign Influence Task Force (CFITF). Throughout the period of the 2020 Election, Twitter received large quantities of flags about tweets from the CFITF, notices which appear in abundance in the #TwitterFiles. These letters often originated from a regional American agency, like the Secretary of State’s office in Colorado or Connecticut.
This was odd behavior for an agency devoted to countering “foreign” threats. The subcommittee subsequently changed its name and — briefly — adopted a more openly domestic focus.
Last June, the advisory board recommended that CISA should work with and provide support to external partners “who identify emergent informational threats,” and find ways to mitigate “false and misleading narratives.”
It also said CISA should fund and collaborate with partners to measure the impact of disinformation and mitigation, and do “proactive” work like “pre-bunking” emerging rumors. In a five-page memo of recommendations, the board listed a slew of aggressive ideas for combating “MD” at home (i.e. “mis- and disinformation”) that included “reducing engagement” by offenders:
The tasks were enormous, advisors said. “CISA should consider MD across the information ecosystem,” including talk radio, cable news, mainstream media, and “hyper-partisan media.”
Easterly’s response to the June recommendations focused on foreign threats. She narrowed the scope of a recommendation from the MDM subcommittee that the agency should combat mis- and disinformation that “undermines critical functions of American society and undermines response to emergencies.”
Easterly responded by saying CISA will continue to work on ways to counter “foreign influence operations and disinformation that threatens the integrity of the election infrastructure.” She seemed to agree that the agency should work with academic researchers to measure the impact of their efforts.
Meeting minutes from last year also show the public furor over the DHS announcement of a “Disinformation Governance Board” had MDM subcommittee members worried. They discussed delaying and toning down their June quarterly recommendations to the full CISA advisory board, with one passage suggesting members find a way to “pre-socialize” the existence of the subcommittee for key decision-makers:
“[Redacted] suggested contacting Director Easterly in preparation for the rollout during the CSAC June Quarterly Meeting, to solicit her feedback on how to pre-socialize the existence of the subcommittee with key members of congress or outside validators.”
Part of the subcommittee’s worry seemed to be that not many people knew what they were up to, or that they even existed — not in Congress or even at DHS. The group worried about how to “strategically approach MDM in the government in the current discourse.”
The “current discourse” was a reference to the furor over the Disinformation Governance Board, which by then was being likened to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” After an outcry, Mayorkas had to “pause” its work and asked two top Washington lawyers, former DHS Secretary Mike Chertoff and former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to weigh in on the legitimacy of the board. Within weeks the lawyers issued an urgent interim finding: It’s not needed.
They then issued a final report in August, affirming the Disinformation Board should be abolished. The report said government should limit its involvement with social media companies. DHS, they concluded, can bring disinformation to the attention of social media companies, but “it is for the platforms, alone, to determine whether any action is appropriate under their policies.”
Given the controversy over the Disinformation Governance Board, subcommittee members decided it would be better to jettison altogether a planned recommendation on “privacy and social listening,” which appeared to refer to the use of software that can proactively search out particular words or language. They worried this “most sensitive recommendation” could “overshadow other recommendations posed by the committee.”
The decision this week by CISA to scrap the MDM subcommittee, like last year’s “pause” of the governance board, reflects political sensitivity to growing public concern over social media censorship. What changes would more press attention bring?
THE SEASON IS HERE
by James Kunstler
Of course, the newspaper USA Today chose transgender activist Leigh Finke for its Women of the Year award because in the USA of the here-and-now (today, for instance), boundaries are a thing of the past, and if a woman of the year happens to come with the “package” that signifies male-of-the-species, you’d better ignore that and go along with the gag — or prepare for the punishments that will come down until your morale improves.
The transgender movement has crystalized into the Party of Chaos’s favored instrument for enforcing its ethos of unreality on a population obdurately stuck on thinking in categories, on making hateful distinctions between things. Better to live in a protective miasma of undifferentiated sensation than a cruel state based on pattern recognition where one is incessantly prompted to understand how objects and life-forms around us differ, where things begin and end, and what all that means relative to your own ideally amorphous existence.
Mattias Desmet, Belgian author of the 2022 book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism, proposed that a political faction subject to “mass formation psychosis” — the group hysteria that sets the scene for tyranny — would demand that the public swallow a cavalcade of increasingly absurd ideas in order to soften up their brains, so as to make it easier for leaders (influencers) to push them in any desired direction. I would propose that we have probably achieved peak brain-softening now in this land.
The only thing left to challenge is the distinction between being alive or dead, which is exactly what you would get in Zombieland, a place that the Party of Chaos (and its mentors in the World Economic Forum) long to take you to, where you will have nothing and be happy! And never think a hateful thought, or any thought not pre-cooked for you and served up by The Party like so much dim sum. Choose that or it’s the nothingness and bliss of the grave. It’s all the same to the Party leaders. Voila: the totalitarian nirvana!
Folks are beginning to grok how all this works now after a years-long epic mind-fuck by the increasingly malevolent permanent bureaucracy running a nation on the glide-path to destruction. Not a few people around America still-capable of independent thought are less than avid for liquidation. And certainly not willing to be absorbed into the amoeba-like blob of redundant, undifferentiated protoplasm that a totalized population must be in the end-state of political Wokery.
Now, in the spring of ’23, Woke is suddenly mutating into a general wake-up call. The animals are stirring from their long sleep of compliance as ruin stalks the land. The season of concentrating the mind is here. When it becomes a matter of sink-or-swim, people once again remember the difference between being dead or alive. The test is on.
Expect three evolving dynamics to stipulate our country’s zeitgeist in the stirring months to come. First, the collapse of our project for using Ukraine to destabilize Russia, an enterprise so feckless it could have only been conceived by the dead-of-brain. Our geniuses of foreign affairs screwed the pooch on this one. It’s almost too obvious that they never cared about the people of that sore-beset land. Notice, they do not even use the word “peace” in any of their confabulations about what’s going on there, because it is the opposite of what they seek, which is…chaos unending.
Thus, others will end the project for us — namely, our antagonist there, Russia — and the regime of “Joe Biden,” for the second time in its mortifying two years-plus of rule, will be left holding its limp, generative member in its collective hand, another humiliation for our over-reaching imperial soldiery — and the deluded empty suits commanding it. Will they be able to pretend this time, as they did in Afghanistan, 2021, that there’s nothing to see here, folks? Just a blizzard of press-releases declaring “mission accomplished” or some-such other craven bullshit? I don’t think so. The reaction may be enough to bum-rush “Joe Biden” and Company out of office. His grotesque family rackets (including the Ukraine grifts) will finally and magically come to the public’s attention, and that’ll be all she wrote for “JB”— except for the historians waking from their own long catatonic spells to record the disaster they will swear they couldn’t see coming.
Next, we will go through the tipping-point where a critical mass of the population — not just in America, but throughout Western Civ, and even beyond — realizes that they have been poisoned and injured by the mRNA “vaccines” they were so eager to line up for. It will produce a special sort of collective agony centered around a raging despair that leads with astonishing speed to prosecutions. The torpor and uncertainty of the past three years evaporates and the machinery of law actually starts cranking again, and in the right way — not as a mere instrument of coercion and intimidation, but to actually seek justice.
Third will be the transformation of a raging inflation into a ruinous debt deflation that leaves Americans, one way or another, with no money. At the same time, the people will wake to the wrecking of their energy and food supply. A line will appear drawn in the ground from sea to shining sea, as by a cosmic power, and everybody… the formerly Woke, the unvaxxed, the penitent and unrepentant, the middle and lower orders especially, who suffer most harshly… will find themselves all on one side of that line in opposition to the wicked who have brought a hard rain upon them. And there you will finally see the beginning of your long-promised hope and change. No need even to wait for it. At long last, it’s upon us.
JOHN BOLTON’S PROMINENCE IN THE MEDIA Proves Our Entire Society Is Diseased
by Caitlin Johnstone
In order to narrative-manage the public conversation about the Iraq War on the 20th anniversary of the invasion, those who helped unleash that horror upon our world have briefly paused their relentless torrent of "Ukraine proves the hawks were always right" takes to churn out a deluge of "Actually the Iraq War wasn't based on lies and turned out pretty great after all" takes.
Council on Foreign Relations chief Richard Haas — who worked in the US State Department under Colin Powell when Bush launched his criminal invasion — got a piece published in Project Syndicate falsely claiming that the US government and his former boss did not lie about weapons of mass destruction, and that "governments can and do get things wrong without lying."
Former Bush speechwriter David "Axis of Evil" Frum cooked up a lie-filled spin piece with The Atlantic claiming that "What the U.S. did in Iraq was not an act of unprovoked aggression” and suggesting that perhaps Iraqis are better off as a result of the invasion, or at least no worse off than they would otherwise have been.
Neoconservative war propagandist Eli Lake, who has been described by journalist Ken Silverstein as "an open and ardent promoter of the Iraq War and the various myths trotted out to justify it," has an essay published in Commentary with the extraordinary claim that the war "wasn’t the disaster everyone now says it was" and that "Iraq is better off today than it was 20 years ago."
But by far the most appalling piece of revisionist war crime apologia that's come out during the 20th anniversary of the invasion has been an article published in National Review by the genocide walrus himself, John Bolton.
Bolton sets himself apart from his fellow Iraq war architects by arguing that the actual invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein "was close to flawless," and that the only thing the US did wrong was fail to kill more people and topple the government of Iran.
Bolton criticizes "the Bush administration’s failure to take advantage of its substantial presence in Iraq and Afghanistan to seek regime change in between, in Iran," writing that "we had a clear opportunity to empower Iran’s opposition to depose the ayatollahs."
"Unfortunately, however, as was the case after expelling Saddam from Kuwait in 1991, the United States stopped too soon," Bolton writes.
Bolton claims that the notoriously cruel sanctions that were inflicted upon Iraq between 1991 and 2003 were too lenient, saying there should have been "crushing sanctions" that were "enforced cold-bloodedly".
As Reason's Eric Boehm notes in his own critique of Bolton's essay, perhaps the most galling part is where Bolton dismisses any responsibility the US might have for the consequences and fallout from the Iraq invasion, attempting to compartmentalize the "flawless" initial invasion away from all the destabilization and human suffering which followed by saying "they did not inevitably, inexorably, deterministically, and unalterably flow from the decision to invade and overthrow."
"Whatever Bush’s batting average in post-Saddam decisions (not perfect, but respectable, in my view), it is separable, conceptually and functionally, from the invasion decision. The subsequent history, for good or ill, cannot detract from the logic, fundamental necessity, and success of overthrowing Saddam," Bolton writes.
This is self-evidently absurd. A Bush administration warmonger arguing that you can't logically connect the invasion to its aftereffects is like an arsonist saying you can't logically connect his lighting a fire in the living room to the incineration of the entire house. He's just trying to wave off any accountability for that war and his role in it.
"One might suspect that Bolton imagines a world where actions should not have consequences because he's been living in exactly that type of world for the past two decades," Boehm writes. "Somehow, he's retained his Washington status as a foreign policy expert, media commentator, and presidential advisor despite having been so horrifically wrong about Iraq."
And that to me is what's the most jaw-dropping about all this. Not that John Bolton still in the year 2023 thinks the invasion of Iraq was a great idea and should have gone much further, but that the kind of psychopath who would say such a thing is still a prominent news media pundit who is platformed by the most influential outlets in the world for his "expertise".
It's actually a completely damning indictment of all western media if you think about it, and really of our entire civilization. The fact that an actual, literal psychopath whose entire goal in life is to try to get as many people killed by violence as he possibly can at every opportunity is routinely given columns and interviews in The Washington Post, and is regularly brought on CNN as an expert analyst, proves our entire society is diseased.
To be clear, when I say that John Bolton is a psychopath, I am not using hyperbole to make a point. I am simply voicing the only logical conclusion that one can come to when reading reports about things like how he threatened the children of the OPCW chief whose successful diplomatic efforts in early 2002 were making the case for invasion hard to build, or how he spent weeks verbally abusing a terrified woman in her hotel room, pounding on her door and screaming obscenities at her.
And that's just Bolton's personality. The actual policies he has worked to push through, sometimes successfully, are far more horrifying. This is the freak who has argued rabidly for the bombing of Iran, for bombing North Korea, for attacking Cuba over nonexistent WMD, for assassinating Gaddafi, and many other acts of war. Who helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal, who openly admitted to participating in coups against foreign governments, and who tried to push Trump into starting a war with Iran during his terrifying stint as his National Security Advisor.
This man is a monster who belongs in a cage, but instead he's one of the most influential voices in the most powerful country on earth. This is because we are ruled by a giant globe-spanning empire that is held together by the exact sort of murderous ideology that John Bolton promotes.
Bolton is not elevated at maximum amplification in spite of his psychopathic bloodlust, but exactly because of it. That's the sort of civilization we live in, and that's the sort of media environment that westerners are forming their worldviews inside of. We are ruled by murderous tyrants, and we are propagandized into accepting their murderousness by mass media which elevate bloodthirsty psychos like John Bolton as part of that propaganda.
That's the world we live in. That's what we're up against here.
And that's why they've been working so hard to rewrite the history on Iraq. They need us to accept Iraq as either a greater good that came at a heavy price or a terrible mistake that will never be repeated, so that they can lead us into more horrific wars in the future.
We are being paced. Until now, "Iraq" has been a devastating one-word rebuttal to both the horror and failure of US interventionism. The essays these imperial spinmeisters have been churning out are the early parlay in a long-game effort to take away that word's historical meaning and power. Don't let them shift it even an inch.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 24 MARCH
Ex-President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia wants to create demilitarised buffer zones around areas it has annexed, saying it might be necessary to push deeper into Ukraine if such zones cannot be set up.
Russia is not planning to enter into a direct conflict with NATO and is interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis through talks, Medvedev said in an interview.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned his EU allies the war could last “years” without faster deliveries of weapons.
The Kremlin says it is essential to identify an object discovered next to one of the Nord Stream pipelines and the ongoing investigation into blasts must be done transparently.
A Russian missile hit an “invincibility point” set up to offer refuge for Ukrainian civilians, killing at least three women, local officials said.
— Edna Mohamed, Al Jazeera
“COUNTY’S POINTLESS FIGHT WITH SHERIFF Cost Taxpayers Almost $400K”
Thank you AVA and Mark Scaramella for continuing your reporting on this disgusting waste of money. I’d suggest the Grand Jury investigate this matter, but nothing much seems to come of their work. This money would have been far better used fixing potholes in our county roads–something real that serves all the people–than throwing it away on an issues that meant nothing of real value. Again, truly a disgusting example of the County’s waste of our taxpayer dollars.
We the voters have failed our County miserably by failing to perform our due diligence in electing some of these supervisors.
Shame on us.
Why do ostriches put their heads in the sand?
Because that’s where they lay their eggs and they put their heads in the den to tend their brood; not, as we are given to understand from usage of the cliche, to ignore what the powers that be are up to.
Now, we can see a similarity in the analogy wherein most people prefer not to risk the comfort and safety of their own broods by being confrontational and talking shit to power, which can affect your job security; freedom of the press is all well and good but most people do what they have to do rather than what they would like to do.
The AVA is real big on censoring what they deem as malinformation, “inconvenient truths”.
Constant updates on Trump’s depraved activities are available other places, Jimbo.
Moderna Shot Causes SIX TIMES More Myocarditis Cases in Men Under 40 Than COVID Itself, According to American Heart Association
• Second Dose of Moderna – 97 additional myocarditis cases per million.
• COVID-19 Itself – 16 additional myocarditis cases per million.
I took the full monte of vaccinations but still got whatever the hell it is, and however the hell it’s transmitted. I’ve suffered worse, but it kinda hangs on, though, still costing me my voice. But I don’t believe the people insisting on all these dire outcomes because they get their “facts” strictly from resoundingly unreliable sources.
They lie and tell you it would have been worse without the jabs.
Who would want to live in a world that is just not quite fatal?
— Paul Shepard
I enjoy your updates. Very entertaining
When will you add “like” buttons to your stories ?
And “dislike” buttons. Yin & Yang.
fair enough, yes
What a banquet we have in today’s edition: Reporters and critical commentators hit it out of the park with Scaramella, Shields, Raskin, Taibbi/Schmidt, Kunstler (well, most of it), Johnstone, and R. Crumb for desert!
And, for your post-prandial delectation, Yearsley!
Save Me, Jesus
Those dreadful Bermuda buttercups (yellow oxalis) and right beside it, the awful dandelion, looking so uncute and nasty, pictured prominently right here in the AVA. These 2 weeds are the scourge of my garden, invasive, hard to kill, really hard to deal with unless one sprays with poisons. And only days ago there was the short piece singing praises for that same damned dandelion. What will come next, a piece on the virtues of tumbleweeds or stinging nettle? Please, cancel these misbegotten photos and writings that give praise to lowly, unworthy weeds.
Weed-HATING Old Curmudgeon Gardener
To the right honorable Vicar of Wokefield,
My dear good man, I do not pretend to teach you your calling but, sir, consider the following:
The W-word, like the taboo N-word, is a callous, derogatory slur, the only difference being one refers to botanical specimens; the other, more noxious one, to our own zoological order.
Now, do you embrace diversity, truly in your heart, or is it just a signal flag you wave at the wokenvolk? Goodness gracious, you sound like that awful Kittle fellow, out exterminating Scottish thistle …utterly unaware, blissfully ignorant, that he himself is the most intrusively invasive species of them all!
No sir, I cannot agree. I cannot and do not embrace diversity among weeds, especially those that come to clutter and deface my garden. It is an immigration uncalled for and unjust. I add to the banishment list the following weeds: red sorrel that spreads like a vicious cancer, as well as common ivy which does the same. Limits must be set, rules must be followed. Help!
A Gardener Beset by Weeds in a Rainy Year
A Gardner beset
By weeds in a rainy year
Not to trifle with, eh
Re: Fort Bragg name change: My KNYO-LP survey of preferred names to change it to has The Palms and Lindy Petersville running neck and neck. This has been consistent for almost three years.
Re: Censorship in movie captions: In /The Message/ episode of /Firefly/, which takes place in a future society of blended Chinese and English speakers, the most vehement swear of dissatisfaction with a situation is “son of a bitch!” A lesser swear, but still serious, is “gorrammit!” In the DVD, Tracy, shot in the chest, flees down the steps from the bridge into the rest of the spaceship, shouting over his shoulder, “Gorrammit, Mal!” The caption reads, “You’re a rabbit, Mal.”
Awoke early, and following taking an expanding list of remedies for chest congestion without any other complications, proceeded to morning ablutions, with optional chest clearing in the hot shower. Dressed, and tidied up the trash & recycling area at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center. Moved on to the co-op for a breakfast egg and bean burrito, and coffee. Dropped into the hospice store looking for a bargain. Nothing. Pushed on to the Ukiah Public Library, and am now on computer #4 tap, tap tapping away. Breathing in and breathing out. No mind. 😊🙏📿🆗
Craig Louis Stehr
1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
Wealth Sharing: Paypal.me/craiglouisstehr
25.III.’23 @ 4:12PM Pacific Time
The most revealing info to come out around the recall of the Iraq war is in the numbers. We lost about 4500 Americans (over 7000 in another source) and we killed over 170,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians. This is clearly a slaughter of holocaust dimensions when added to all our other military adventures in the last seven decades. The obvious question for Bolten is: “Are these 170,000 people better off since the Yankee invasion?” Once again, these distant wars are not about making us safer, or bringing democracy to oppressed people, they are about an out-of-control military-industrial-complex profiting from war. Halliburton made well over $14 billion ($14,000,000) from the Iraq war and we paid fpr it.