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Off the Record (March 29, 2023)

ALTHOUGH LEGGETT'S MELISSA ROSENTHAL went to all the 2020 redistricting meetings to lobby for the far north county to remain in the 3rd District where it's been for a hundred-plus years, and where Leggett also belongs although it was shoved into the Fort Bragg-dominant 4th District years ago, the deep outback — places like Iron Mountain, Spy Rock, and much of Bell Springs — were gerrymandered into the 4th District. There remain suspicions that some of the impetus for gerrymandering the deep hill country in the northeast of the county into the coastal 4th to ensure that the popular Johnny Pinches wouldn't be tempted to run again for supervisor in the 3rd District. 

BE THAT AS IT MAY, as Ms. Rosenthal insists, the recent storms that took out this forgotten and politically orphaned area made it physically clear that the parts of 3rd arbitrarily attached to the 4th were on their own as the roads closed, big trees fell and the snow piled up. She rightly credits North County volunteer firefighters and other purely local first responders for coming to the rescue while county help was so slow in coming that it never arrived. The only outside agency that reached out to offer help, Ms. Rosenthal says, was the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, a non-governmental entity. ”We were out of power for 12 days, got it back for 36 hours, then it was back out for another two days. The people doing the work during this long emergency in the forgotten corner of the county came through for us, but the county? No.” 

THIS WEIRD GERRYMANDER ought to be re-thought, but because it was based, theoretically on the Census, a re-districting committee, appointed by the supervisors, won't be counting heads again until 2030.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2010 was some effective sabotage by former 4th District supervisor, Kendall Smith. The simplest way to have numerically balanced out the districts according to the Census's suspect head count would have been to leave the northeast corner of the county in the 3rd district where it historically has rested since Mendo was a county by moving Mendocino into the 4th District, thus placing all the lib candy arses, so to speak, in the 4th District. But Smith and Mendocino feared that without Mendocino in the 5th, there would be at least a chance that an Inappropriate Person beyond the control of the lib-labs might become 5th District supervisor, someone like, say, John Redding, who was easily defeated in the last elections by incumbent 5th District supervisor, the Albion-Mendo-Conservative Democrat-basted Ted Williams.

AS MS R. points out, people in her county-ignored area tend overwhelmingly to be self-sufficient, and able to handle whatever comes their way. But you have a large number of people — 500 to 700 — paying local taxes for scant services in return. “During the recent emergency,” Ms. Rosenthal remembers, “the people on the Drury Ranch on the border of Mendocino and Humboldt counties got help right away from Michelle Bushnell, the supervisor for Southern Humboldt County. As it stands here, for example, the people on the west side of Spy Rock are in the 4th District, the people who live on the eastside are in the 3rd District. It's crazy.” 

JIM SHIELDS WRITES: “Been a 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, although Leggett is outside his district but in his neighborhood: “Having already spoken to Helen, I’m somewhat familiar with the problem,” Pinches stated. “It’s probably more convenient for Liz (Henry, 4th District supervisor at the time) 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.

THERE SEEMS to be this assumption about “grant money” that it's free, floats down out of the sky to fund failed public programs like Mendo's pot licensing fiasco. But most grant money is “granted” either by the state or federal government, and that grant money truly derives from taxes. 

THEN THERE'S FOUNDATION money. Foundations are large sums of private money organized as non-profits by very rich people to avoid taxes on their stashes. Foundations also pay other rich people to sit on their oversight boards, and also often pay incompetent relatives for comfortable sinecures doing absolutely nothing. The foundation scammers advertise their own virtue on the PBS television stations. “This program is made possible by the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Megarip, ‘Working to meet America's unmet needs’.”

THE MOSTLY GRAY WEATHER lately is perfectly sunny for catching up on the books. Let me know what you’re reading, ava book readers. Me? Being at the advanced age that this play really, really resonates, I’ve re-read King Lear, although I have no crown and only one non-covetous daughter; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels In Hawaii, which has the best descriptions I’ve read of the leper colony at Molokai, circa 1905; The Short Stories of Laurie Moore, an author who cuts deep but is also wildly funny; The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942 by William Klingaman, wonderful descriptions of unprepared America and Americans scrambling to beat back fascism; Life on the Mississippi by Buck Rinker, part adventure, part history of the way 18th, 19th and early 20th century Americans moved goods by river on both sides of the Appalachians, a genuine learning experience for this American previously unaware of the crucial river trade developed by early bargemen. The author builds his own raft and sets out to re-create the experiences of early raft traders; Trollope: His Life and Art by CP Snow, a bio with plenty of illustrative photographs of this remarkable writer and founder of the Brit’s modern postal system. (Special thanks to Michael Weist, a fellow Trollopian, for the gift of this book.) 

CONTINUING TODAY’S LIT-CHAT, a reader writes: Since you mentioned ‘The End of the Affair,’ I re-read it and would like to weigh in with my two cents. On first reading the jumbled timeline was distracting for me. (Being a simple, linear minded person.) The book was a bit short of the humor that Graham often provides. The “miracles” may of course be coincidental. I know that it won some Catholic book award in 1952 (and another friend said it was their favorite book). I prefer the more political works which do always address moral questions. Having been a Catholic (12 years of indoctrination), I am now “in recovery.” My preferred Graham Greene comment on religion was in ‘The Confidential Agent’ (1939): “We are unlucky. We don’t believe in God. So it’s no use praying. If we did I could tell beads, burn candles — oh, a hundred things. As it is, I can only keep my fingers crossed.” I believe that I am an atheist, but I often wonder about all that dark matter/energy which seems to be missing (more than 90%). To paraphrase the Bard: There is more to the world than is dreamed of in your philosophy. (Astrophysics?). Our creation story is a “singularity” of zero volume and infinite mass that “explodes” to create time and space, really? 

YOU MUST KNOW that Greene was a devout, practicing Catholic viz ‘The Power and the Glory.’ Of all his novels, my faves are ‘The Comedians’ set in Haiti under Duvalier, a picture of 50s Haiti that holds up well as an explanation of the hell that beset country has been throughout most of its modern history. Most of us have probably read ‘The Quiet American,’ a prescient novelistic account of a bullet-headed CIA man murderously meddling in Vietnamese affairs he knows little about. (Was it this novel that got Greene banned from the U.S?) The novel of his I most admire is ‘The Power and the Glory’ revolving around a hunted priest in Mexico during the Diaz dictatorship as the Diaz regime tried to extinguish Catholicism throughout the country by murdering priests, this priest famously called “the whiskey priest.” Another of Greene’s strong arguments for faith. The whiskey priest, struggling to maintain his faith, puts it this way: “It ought to be possible for a man to be happy here, if he were not so tied to fear and suffering—unhappiness too can become a habit like piety. Perhaps it was his duty to break it, his duty to discover peace. He felt an immense envy of all those people who had confessed to him and been absolved.” 

HELLO HISTORY? GET ME REWRITE. Philip Zwerling, PhD of Change Our Name Fort Bragg, notes: “US Navy Renames Two ships. One telling quote that also applies to Fort Bragg, CA. Brig. General Ty Seidule said: “It’s not just about getting rid of names. Whom you choose to honor is who you value.”

Philip Zwerling, Ph.D..

ED NOTE: Doc Zwerling has mobilized the Coast's a-historical green hairs for a spring offensive to get Fort Bragg's name changed on the vague historical grounds that Braxton Bragg, a consensus bad man who did his bad in the 19th century, is memorialized in Fort Bragg, the town. Stop the next ten Fort Braggers you see on the street and ask them who Braxton Bragg was. No one will know or care, so the best Zwerling and his posse can hope for is inspiring some research by a few conscientious citizens interested in who the heck the guy was. Fort Bragg was founded to protect Indians from the white pioneers — a grim collection of fugitive criminals, Indian slavers, and general lowlifes — not murder them, an honorable pedigree for any town, and one of many reasons to keep Fort Bragg as Fort Bragg, a name placed on the Coast outpost by one of Bragg's military colleagues who seems to have admired him. (Bragg's blundering generalship was one of many reasons the South lost the Civil War.) It's understandable, obviously, that Southern black people would want to remove statues honoring Confederate generals and I, for one, am happy that they've done it. Overall, though, erasing reminders of America's bloody history is a bad idea because it also erases the truth of what happened. But I think our sanguinary history is one more reason to celebrate our unprecedented, magnifico country, that despite its history, America has grown, prospered and done much, and continues to do much, to atone for the sins of our fathers. Viva Fort Bragg!

ON THE OFF CHANCE the Fort Bragg name changers are taking in information that doesn't fit the Changer's catechism, America's second greatest president, Ulysses S. Grant, assessed Braxton Bragg, whom Grant’s soldiers had defeated several times in battle, this way: “Braxton Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man, professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright. But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally disputatious.” 

IMO, as the cyber-people say, Lincoln was the greatest president we've had, then Grant, then Franklin Roosevelt, but from FDR on to the preposterous Trump and Biden it's been all downhill.

TOLSTOY ON LINCOLN: “Of all the great national heroes and statesmen of history Lincoln is the only real giant. Alexander, Frederick the Great, Cesar, Napoleon, Gladstone and even Washington stand in greatness of character, in depth of feeling and in a certain moral power far behind Lincoln. Lincoln was a man of whom a nation has a right to be proud; he was a Christ in miniature, a saint of humanity, whose name will live thousands of years in the legends of future generations. We are still too near to his greatness, and so can hardly appreciate his divine power; but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us. If one would know the greatness of Lincoln one should listen to the stories which are told about him in other parts of the world. I have been in wild places, where one hears the name of America uttered with such mystery as if it were some heaven or hell. I have heard various tribes of barbarians discussing the New World, but I heard this only in connection with the name of Lincoln. Lincoln as the wonderful hero of America is known by the most primitive nations of Asia.” 

INTERESTING COMMENT by the formidable Kym Kemp responding to a critic about her website-derived income and his second criticism of one of Kym's contributors, Lisa Music.

KYM KEMP: “When I had my first two children, I lived in a shack with plastic windows and kerosene lamps. I don’t live there now. I worked hard — so did my husband — we both went to school. I graduated with honors, and eventually got a teaching degree in one year, not the usual two. Then, while teaching, I started running this website, which I ran for four years without making a penny. Then I began to make about $500 per month. Now by working longer hours than most folks (though admittedly at a job I love) I make a decent living.

“And yes, I have multiple places on this website encouraging folks to donate to the Freelancer Fund. Every cent from donations (plus money I make from advertising) goes to pay freelancers to provide more stories. Not too long ago I figured out I make substantially less than minimum wage (if I remember correctly, it was just under $10 per hour) on this website.

“Now maybe you have a problem with folks making money on what they do. But you said in your previous comments that you have a cannabis business and your wife has a cleaning business, I suspect you want to be paid for what you do. If not, I’d love to have your wife come clean my house for nothing — with the amount of work I do, it looks pretty crappy right now. 

“But if you think it is unfair of me to ask your wife to work for no pay… Why do you want people to read something they get value from and not pay for it? Why shouldn’t my freelancers make a decent wage rather than the low wages that reporters settle for because they love what they do.

“Look, you don’t like Linda [Music]. I get that. You don’t have to. But posting mean statements anonymously over and over on her writing — not really criticizing her work but just saying mean things is really no different than walking into a restaurant with a mask on and complaining loudly to the other customers about a waitress you don’t like for something that you are sore about that apparently occurred in real life even though there is nothing wrong with her work in the restaurant.

“Again, you are entitled not to personally like Linda. But don’t come into her workplace talking crap about how you perceive her behavior outside her job. From now on unless your complaint is at least mildly relevant to her actual writing, I’ll be deleting it. I don’t allow personal insults here.”

I THINK both Kym and Ms. Music deserve every penny, and I think Kym is correct in not allowing personal insults on her invaluable website. (The MCN chatline here in Mendo consists largely of lunatics insulting each other, which is tiresome in the extreme, especially given the writers' witlessness.) I also think it’s obvious that Kym takes a lot of undeserved criticism simply because she's a woman. But she fires right back, as she has here.

THE NORTHCOAST is media-rich compared to most areas. Marvy Marin, where I live weekends, is a media desert. There's the fading San Rafael Independent Journal, an ok newspaper for local news and good local sports coverage back when I first began reading it in the middle 1950s. Now? A three-minute read. And there's nothing else that I know of, no websites, no Marin-specific blogs, no reporting except the occasional story in the IJ and, like all hedge fund papers these days, the IJ is down to, I think, two reporters, one of whom does sports, for a county of more than a half million people.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: Back in the late 90s KZYX radio was “managed” by a portly, easily-offended little fellow named Phil Tymon who claimed to be a “communications attorney.” Tymon had previously taught “communications” part-time at Santa Rosa JC and had some kind of loose association with KPFA and/or Pacifica in Berkeley, as did a million of so left-libs in the Bay Area. He didn’t like the AVA nor did a number of his Philo colleagues, and he obviously didn’t like our nearly weekly criticism and commentary of him and the station’s tiresome government programming. (We had great fun transcribing the station’s many lunatic moments, which we called ‘Great Moments in Public Radio.) But Tymon went to some lengths to cadge a copy of the AVA wherever he could to see what was said about him and KZYX, his cadging occurring mostly at Boont Berry Store. One week, he somehow missed the Boont Berry cadge and wandered over to our bookstore, Anderson Valley Books, where bookstore manager Carl Hammarskjold sold the AVA. Not only did Tymon not want to pay $1 for a kryptonite AVA, Tymon didn’t even want to be seen coming in to an AVA-operated establishment. So he cracked the bookstore door open, peeped in to quietly ask Hammarskjold, “Can I borrow an AVA?” Hammarskjold replied, “Tell you what: Go next door to the AV Market and ask them if you can ‘borrow’ a Chronicle. If they say yes, come back and I’ll let you ‘borrow’ an AVA.”

BOOK CHAT Randy Burke is reading, “Cloudsplitter, by Russell Banks...amazing read on John Brown and slavery abolition. The Story of the World in 100 Moments, by Neil Oliver...thought provoking renditions of how we arrive here today over the years. Boontling, An American Lingo, by Charles C. Adams. All at once or one at a time I am amazed what these volumes provide in spelling out our journeys on this historical mortal coil.”

I'M IN THE EARLY SECTIONS of “Empire of Mud,” an interesting and detailed recent historical account of the construction of Washington DC. Among the many little known factoids author J.D. Dickey assembles is the answer to the question: Where did the slaves who built much of Washington DC live while they were doing the backbreaking yet highly skilled quarry work, masonry, and construction in the area (which was basically a glorified swamp)? Answer: they lived in the smelly, dank, ill-supplied cellars and basements of the buildings they built as the first phase of construction. Apparently, there’s no proper accounting of the dozens if not hundreds of buildings built by slaves because either the records weren’t kept or were “lost.” Slavery wasn’t abolished in Washington DC until 1862. As Malcolm X once said, “We don’t want reparations, we want back wages!” So far, all they’ve got is a pitiful looking commemorative DC marker and that wasn’t even installed until 2012.  (Mark Scaramella)

MARIE MEYER: Hi. I would like to say that I am very disappointed with Dan Gjerde for ignoring my inquiries about the misappropriation of TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) collection in our county campgrounds. The long term campground residents are being heavily taxed (10% increase of rent = approximately $800-$1,000 per year) right along with the tourists and it's not fair because that is not how the law was written to apply that tax. It was not meant to charge permanent residents, but that ends up happening anyway by no fault of the low income people who are forced to live in transient housing situation. Last year Gjerde got our money back when I complained about it, but now he has ignored me. Is this because he is not up for election this year so does not have to look extra good at his job?


Coming your way in the near future will be Senator Joseph Biden, one of the many awful Democrats planning to seek the presidential nomination of his party. Since you may have only glimpsed Biden on prime-time network newscasts posturing in some congressional committee hearing for the benefit of the TV cameras, you may be wondering who he is.

Biden is the senator from Delaware who took over chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Senator Edward Kennedy chose to lead the Labor and Human Resources Committee instead. Thus, if a seat on the Supreme Court becomes vacant, Biden will be bathed in the limelight as he grills any Reagan nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee — Democrats included — has over the past six years been mostly complaisant about Reagan’s appointments.

As to Biden’s world view, it was adequately represented by a speech he gave in early February at Northwestern University in which he hailed the “triumphs” of the invasion of Grenada and the bombing of Tripoli. He said the Democrats must now “cure the paralysis of the Vietnam syndrome” and “must not cringe at the use of force to protect American lives.” Biden is still making the Democratic Party safe for the Reagan era.

What else? Biden assured his audience he would “not stand idly by while tyrants impose their will” in Nicaragua. He hailed the way Kennedy defied international law in the case of the Cuban missile crisis. In other words, Biden is another cold war Democrat proving he’s got hair on his chest and sawdust in his brain. You have been warned.

— Alexander Cockburn, 1987

JEFF BLANKFORT: Yesterday was an anniversary of a sort for me. On March 21, 1959, I exited the US Army at Ft. Ord, California, becoming, as I understood it, the first GI to receive an honorable discharge after refusing to sign the government loyalty oath when drafted into the army two years earlier, without having to fight for it in court.

What worked in my favor was that the army had violated its own rules that required anyone refusing to sign the noxious oath of two double-sided small print pages was to be sent home and investigated by the government before being allowed in the service. By chance, I needed to take a pee and since they wanted to test my urine specimen, they pushed me ahead in line and consequently I ended up being sworn in with a roomful of other draftees.

To make a longer story short, when I arrived at Ft. Ord, a clerk at the reception station noticed that I hadn't sign the oath. Specialist Kowalski, as I recall his name, then got up and left his desk, returning moments later to tell me to report to Warrant Officer Mueller whose office was in the back of the room.

“Warrant Officer Mueller?,” I asked. Whose army is this?

When I walked into his office, Mueller was sitting at his desk, head in his hands. On my arrival, he waved me to a seat. Then looking up, he declared in a friendly tone, “They fucked up in Los Angeles,” and when I asked how, he explained the regulation that required me to be investigated before being allowed to sign up.

“Fine,” I replied, “I'll just go home.” “That's not possible,” he replied, “since you've been sworn in” and that was Catch 22 long before Joseph Heller wrote his classic novel of that name.

It was a helluva two years and I'm glad I had that experience. By coincidence, From March 57 to March 59 was a rare period in which the US Army was not engaged in an imperialist war and consequently those who served in that period were declared by the government not to be entitled into any veteran's benefits. But whenever I see an empty parking space reserved for veterans I take it. 

A decade later, with a lady friend, we were arrested at the site of my former barracks, trying to convince the GIs there to resist orders and banned for life. As we drove off the base to nearby Monterey, we covered the Welcome to Ft. Ord billboard with anti-Vietnam Wa stickers.

P.S. Had they investigated me as the regulations required I never would have had those experiences.


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!


“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.’


“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: 1) The latest CEO report is merely 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.” (How can you have a plan if you don’t have a clue?) 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. 

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.”

LETTER ONE: ‘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 Native Americans, not murder them. 

LETTER TWO: 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.” 

KIRK VODOPALS: “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. Hordes 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. 

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.

BEFORE HE BECAME a big time music producer. Lawrence Livermore lived in Spyrock where he produced one of America's first 'zines, The Lookout, a wonderfully readable mix of reporting, unpopular opinion and music reviews, some of the content angering his outlaw neighbors who felt the brilliant little mag brought unwelcome attention to the neighborhood. Later, when the renowned band Green Day kicked off, I mentioned to an otherwise disinterested kid that Livermore was a friend of mine. The kid came alive, looking at me suspiciously. “Wow! Really?” Etc. Which is when I realized Livermore had moved gloriously, lucratively on from his humble years as a Mendo outlaw. Having tuned out forever at Sinatra, I wouldn't know Tre Cool from Taylor Swift, the latter my granddaughter's fave, but I'm always happy to see Larry when he revisits his Mendo haunts, among them his place up on Spy Rock.

I SENT this on-line comment re Building and Planning to Supervisor Williams for his reaction: ”Their [Mendo] building and planning department is just as screwy. All working from home and don’t seem to have access to their own records. Even the realtors can’t call to get info on properties for sale. People are not supposed to be able to go there in person without an appointment but they never answer the phone, never call back or reply back to emails. So, you can’t get an appointment! Word is you just have to go down there in person and hope someone, anyone, happens to be in the office that day and that they feel like letting you in in order for you to get any information at all out of them. Seems like the entire county government isn’t functional. I wonder if the court system is working.”

WILLIAMS REPLIED: “Date, time, location? This hasn’t been my experience when walking in unannounced recently.”

Scott Ward notes: “I conduct business at Planning and Building weekly. I have not had to make an appointment for the last 8 months.”

THE DEMOCRAT'S perpetual efforts to get Trump have always involved local, state and federal agencies all the way up to the FBI, but the net effect of these clumsy Get Trump obsessions have only made the Orange Monster more popular among the deplorables than when he was president. The Democrats could give lessons on their genius for making the most implausible political figure in American history an actual victim of government persecution.

BOONVILLE'S beloved weekly is four square for Bernie Norvell to become 4th District supervisor. The popular mayor of a revived Fort Bragg, a town not long ago synonymous with criminality when, in 1987, a leading citizen got away with burning down the heart of the city in one splendid night of triple arsons and perhaps a murder to top it off, Norvell has done an impressive job helping make Fort Bragg a model of civic functioning. 

STANDARDS of civic functioning being pretty low in Mendocino County, especially in the battered county seat of Ukiah, Fort Bragg has been especially effective at managing its homeless population, homelessness being the euphemism these days for free range dope heads, drunks, psychotics, and old fashioned bums, while Ukiah, with its army of helping professionals and clusters of non-profits, not to mention its wildly over-compensated town manager, Seldom Seen Sage Sangiacomo, leaves its police department to keep the town's streets reasonably safe.

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, she's always a changin', as we see in this sentence from the Press Democrat's sports page. “In the win over the Tigers (3-6), Ukiah plated four runs in the first and then had three pitchers combine to finish the job…” “Plated”? As in scored?

LEW CHICHESTER: “I am beginning to wonder if many of the perceived bottlenecks and snafus presently encountered in all kinds of county government actions might be a function of the quality of legal advice and direction received from county counsel. I have been following a trend of which I was first aware with the non-enforcement of Measure V (I believe that was the label) regarding the voters’ initiative to halt the “hack and squirt” method of commercial timber management. That initiative went nowhere, after years of delay. Now we have all these complex and time consuming reviews of ministerial cultivation permit applications in an attempt to comply with a badly written, flawed local cannabis ordinance from a few years ago. Why was that ordinance so messed up? It is my view now that some of the problems were with county counsel and how the ordinance was crafted. How about abatement of the leftover trash from illegal grows which were busted? There is no effective coordination between Code Enforcement and County Counsel to follow up on clean up. Just a “Notice of Violation” and no further legal work such as a judgement, fines, liens and eventual forfeiture. That’s how you get this place cleaned up, but is that too much work for county counsel? And then there is the completely wrong policy of charging fees for public records. And how about these expensive settlements for interdepartmental squabbles? Who is running the county anyway? Who is in charge here? Is county counsel following the direction of the Executive Office, or the Board of Supervisors, or just creating these expensive, debilitating situations all on their own volition?”

MIKE KALANTARIAN: “Interesting questions…In the case of Measure V non-enforcement, I suspect the real problem is the money power that MRC (Mendocino Redwood Company) wields, which ends up translating as threat of legal bullying from a well-heeled force (owner Fisher scions are billionaires). The Fisher family is also well-connected in state politics. Hence, after making us wait two-and-a-half years, the California State AG’s office refused to offer an opinion on the matter “in order to avoid a risk of a conflict of interest arising.” How’s that for backing out on a mealy mouthed exit? Then Mendocino County Counsel Curtis surprised many of us by writing an opinion that countered and dismissed the legal noise MRC attorneys proffered (after they lost the vote) suggesting they were exempt from the people’s initiative. However this wasn’t enough for our Board of Supervisors, who, I think, are afraid of the economic/legal power of MRC, and have chosen to let their constituents suffer the consequences instead. For anyone who follows the news, this will not come as a surprise, as it’s simply business as usual in America.”


[1] “Let me ask you, when you were 25, did you worry about what age you could retire at?”

No, but I should have.

I expect that the minimum age to qualify for social security will keep rising, and I won’t live long enough to qualify.

But at least the rich get to keep their money while the rest of us starve.


Yes, the people of France should sit down, shut up, and eat shit. Just like we do here in the USA.

[2] WOKE: the result of getting up in the morning, pinching yourself, and realizing you are still alive, having taken one more step along the road to your own mortality.

[3] THE GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL, two on-line comments.

(a) If you’ve been observing here for awhile, local contractors rarely get the money. Contractors low bid from areas where business has already been established in a big way. Union workers are mostly from outside. Federal contracting rules favor big businesses with a history of working for them, lots of experience meeting peculiar and petty social regulation favored by government and an established union presence. In other words not us. So if you have a job, move on. Have kids who need a job? They move to where the jobs already exist. Again not here. Besides casual labor is often done by CCC with people pulled from outside too, along with volunteers.. Locals may occasionally get work as a subcontractor for surveying or highway contracting for a season, but the real money goes to Redding or Santa Rosa or Oakland. This isn’t our first rodeo. At least for some of us. Here there will be continuous environmental lawsuits from lobbyists and tribes, land that is notoriously unstable and political representation that counts votes elsewhere. Much land is already held by Federal and State parks. They will see advantage of expansion so will piggyback expensive claims on it. And we’re only into a small part of the project with many difficulties. Yes, it likely will get done in some fashion but having starry-eyed fantasies are a waste of time.

(b) For all that, every time the sparkling tourism carrot is waved in this area, the place has become poorer, more drug addicted and dangerous. Tourism brings in money but how it brings it in is a problem… And certainly how that accounting carrot is created makes it worse. It brings in seasonal, low paying jobs in grocery stores, hotels and a few tour group companies. What it costs on the other hand is restrictions on enterprise, lest it damage the tourists being impressed with uninterrupted nature. But it is enterprise that is unconnected to seasonal tourism that allows families to earn a year-round income that is more than getting by. Unless something like the commercial Williamsburg or the Plymouth Plantation exists for family visits, “visitors” usually day trip on their way elsewhere. It is not the trails that attract them, they don’t spend days hiking in any numbers or staying in well known resorts (which really become fewer each year); they pass through. They want to visit Lady Bird Johnson for an hour or so and nothing else. A person may want a continuous trail to suit an environmental agenda for a few to enjoy but it’s nonsense to think of it as a cash cow for the rest of the population unless some planning for places that act as attractions happens. The real tourist dollars come from the highway. If a place becomes popular, the Park Service limits its use. They separated the Newton B Drury Parkway from 101 when it got too crowded. There is no urgency to fix local roads. And the Federal fire response is more concerned about their trees than their neighbors. They work to suppress economic benefit for the local population more than create it. That’s just reality.

[4] My dad never whupped my brother or I. Never spanked us either. His punishment was far more effective: the penalty box. When I misbehaved, he’d point to a chair and I’d sit there, quietly, and ponder my transgressions.

I didn’t fear my dad, I respected him.

(In my opinion) rule by fear is for dogs, and other animals. Unfortunately, most humans have not evolved beyond the level of our best friend.

The cruel sea stole him from us before I really got to know him. They don’t make ’em like that anymore…

[5] I’ve just been listening to Fed Chairman Powell addressing a bunch of financial talking heads and one of them, a woman, began her question “I wonder if you’d be willing to speak to blah blah etc. etc.” Moments later she again used the phrase speak to rather than speak about. How did this “speak to” bullshit ever get started. It annoys the shit outta me. I could even accept speak anent more readily than speak to. They are changing language all the time. It gets more and more stupid. I complained years ago when I started hearing the trend of everyone responding to questions (esp. in interviews) using “So….” but now everyone does it. I was told I was being a jerk for even noticing. Other annoyances are “top of mind” and other than language, vocal fry and autotune.

[6] 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

[7] 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.


[8] A solution to crime and drugs in America.

I offer you, without a shred of humor or exaggeration, the solution to our moral issues, criminal issues, racial issues, and drug issues in America today. My solution is doable, politically viable, and would pass muster in the Supreme Court if challenged…it could even be considered humane. Before moving to Oregon, I had mostly completed my Master’s Degree in Administration of Criminal Justice Systems, and If I’d have continued to the Doctorate Program, would have offered this as my Thesis.

The process is simple. Monetize citizenship. The law allows one to renounce your citizenship with an oath. Just trot over to the Federal Building and tell them you want to renounce your citizenship…easily done.

Offer (let’s suggest) $50,000 for an individual, and $200,000 for married couples with children. Provide a list of countries that would accept former citizens, sign on the dotted line, economy tickets provided for a flight at government expense, and receive your check upon wheels up.

Who would qualify? Any US citizen that wants to leave and start a new life with a bit of starting capital. The prisons would, of course, empty first. Anyone arrested or under indictment for a crime would be probable candidates. Narcotics users needing a fix. Anyone unhappy with their station in life. Even the unlucky, needing a second chance at life…including the desperate and the stupid.

There WOULD be a list of countries that would accept the US dollars with humans attached…a few African Countries, Haiti, Cuba, maybe even a few 2nd World countries willing to accept this issues that come with the dollars…they might have…different rules of engagement, and other cultural rules regarding crime and stupidity.

Convince me that this would not work.

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