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Mendocino County Today: Monday, April 10, 2023

Warm | Still Missing | Ann Carr | Goldfinch | Stolen Vehicle | Pot Hole | Pelicans | Cold Winter | Juan Alarcon | MCHCD Deceits | Poison Oak | AVUSD News | Covelo Event | Forest Club | Philo Regatta | Co-op Art | Yesterday's Catch | Top Selection | Author Event | Flea Bitten | Bucket List | Against Extremism | War Vet | Mortal Flower | Outdoor Seatbelt | SF Burning | Stormy Irony | Defund FBI | Young Vincent | RFK Priority | Unrequited Love | Banana Bread | Ukraine | Warbucks | Gun Check | Protecting Children | Commissioner Kavanagh | Beer Safe | Putin Context | Precious Time | Carbon Criminals | Flat Tire

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WARM AND PLEASANT weather will remain for the interior with highs in the 70s and increasing moisture making conditions feel slightly muggy. Marine clouds this morning should quickly lift as a front approaches shore. Light rain will reach the coast as soon as noon with more steady rain this evening. Wetting rain will be mostly restricted to Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. (NWS)

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My brother is still missing and last seen in Brooktrails, CA. Please continue to keep an eye out and call the Mendocino Country Sheriff's office if you see him.

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It is with great sorrow, that the Carr family announces the passing of our kind, brave, caring and unimaginably generous wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Ann Carr. 

Ann died on April 5, 2023 at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. She will be forever remembered by her beloved husband of 61 years, Larry Carr, and her four children, Lisa Carr, Larry Carr, Gina Hernandez, and Denise Stiles. She is also survived by her loving grandchildren, Jessica Carr, Derek Stiles and Emilee Hernandez, and great grandchildren, Jack Muilenburg and Lincoln Muilenburg. 

Ann started working right out of high school for Pac Bell (now AT&T), where she worked as a line assigner until she retired after 44 years. After retiring, and spending some time working in her garden and playing video games, she decided to go back to work at the Post Office in Anderson Valley. For the last 11 years Ann has been a staple at the window, helping the community, chatting, and laughing with friends and co-workers. She loved working at the post office, and especially loved when children would come in and say hi to her. Ann had the personality and natural charisma to make friends no matter the situation and her laugh was infectious to everyone around her.

Ann had the biggest heart and the most beautiful smile. She was loud, and funny, was independent, and incredibly compassionate. She was strong-willed and stubborn, but those traits defined Ann. They were a part of who she was, and her strength undoubtedly helped her deal with life’s challenges. 

Ann was loved by many, and knew how to brighten someone’s day and make them feel loved. This was especially true for her family who grieves the loss of this woman, this force of nature. 

She will be forever remembered for fiercely loving her husband and her children, and her dog Gracie. While the loss of our mother is huge, and unfathomable, we rejoice in her life, how loved she made all of us feel, and how much joy and happiness she brought to so many people.

Her celebration of life will be private, with just family attending. “To live in hearts, we leave behind is not to die.” (Thomas Campbell).

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I WAS HAPPY TO SEE our Willow Goldfinches arrived 5 days before last year's. Maybe good weather is finally on the way! (Larry Wagner, Fort Bragg)

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On April 8, 2023, at approximately 12:33 pm, Officers were dispatched to a tow business located in the 200 Block of North Lenore Street for the report of a female subject refusing to leave a vehicle on the property. While officers were en-route the reporting party updated Willits Police Department Communications that the female had taken the vehicle and fled the scene. An officer nearly at the scene reported seeing the vehicle fleeing south on North Lenore Street.

A Willits Police Sergeant also responding to the scene observed the vehicle run the posted stop sign of Lenore Street to East Commercial Street. The Sergeant with his emergency lights activated attempted to block the stolen vehicle which turned westbound in his direction. The suspect maneuvered the vehicle directly at the police car and accelerated at the Sergeant’s stopped vehicle in the westbound lane, nearly striking it head-on.

The vehicle then fled west at a high rate of speed. The Sergeant gave chase, however lost sight of the vehicle after it ran a red light turning North on North Main Street. While checking the area, the Sergeant located the vehicle near the intersection of State Street and Humboldt Street. As the Sergeant approached the vehicle a witness in the area pointed out to him the driver was walking away from the vehicle westbound in the 100 Block of State Street.

The driver was taken into custody without incident. The driver and solo occupant of the vehicle was identified as Kimberly Livingston, 41, of Fort Bragg. She was taken into custody for Vehicle Theft, Felony Vehicle Pursuit and Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. The Willits Police Department would like to thank the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office for their response and assistance with this matter.

Kimberly Livingston

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To the Editor:

Watching 12 hours of a Board of Supervisor’s meeting is like watching killer whales trying to kill gray whales. There is a lot of circling, but you have to wait for the right moment for the biting.

Immediately after the Director of Mendocino’s Pot Department resigned a week ago this Tuesday —after a one hour evaluation in closed session where she probably claimed she was following the law and certain supervisors likely urged her to break it — the second discussion of the forever Pot Tax forgiveness bail out of the Pot Lobby was considered.

Pot growers, who saw the State tax on pot removed last year, then won a new victory in Mendocino County when the Supervisors voted 3-2 to cut the pot tax in half, waive interest and penalties on $4.2 million of delinquent taxes owed to the county, and indicated no one has to worry about any POT tax collection — since the current Collection section of the Pot Ordnance is probably not legal though the county counsel failed to cite one case holding that counties cannot collect back Pot Taxes.

California is the land of possibilities and not one supervisor asked the county counsel exactly why the Tax Collector has sat on her hands for two years while back pot taxes kept growing as fast as pot.

Fireworks were seen over Willits — the home town of John Haschak — one of the supervisors who voted yes and Mulheren who pushed the ordinance through to successful conclusion. McGourty gave an incompressible excuse why he voted yes, but politics no doubt counted more for him than equality of taxpayers.

Supervisors Williams and Gjerde voted no, with the former claiming and the CEO confirming, that the county budget will be $750,000 short as a result of the sweetheart deal passed. Williams asked, and no one replied, how the deficit in revenue resulting from the tax break to pot growers will be filled.

Gjerde equivocated — worried — tried to find a better way before getting to the point that using state grant funds to pay back taxes was unacceptable to him and all of the non-drugged residents of the county, a dwindling minority.

Mulheren, Haschak, and McGourty seem worried about revenue shortfalls unless and until their pot growing voters pressure them to give them, and only them, tax breaks, while pot holes go unfilled, mentally ill wander the streets, and caregivers to the elderly begged the supervisors for a few dollars an hour in pay increases.

It seems the majority who voted for Mendocino’s Pot Lobby just does not care that ordinary people — who pay tax on cars, business taxes to sell shoes, or gas taxes — will now have to pay the deficit in county revenue the Pot Supervisors McGourty, Mulheren, and Haschak created by passing this Bail Out.

Big Pot knows most Mendocino voters are too docile or stoned to care if they get screwed by Big Pot.

Alan Stein


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SF Marina Pelicans with Gull (Jeff Goll)

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by Jim Shields

Quick Weather Report

Lots of folks have commented about how cold this winter has been. I agree, we’ve had a prolonged period from Nov. 1 to now where it’s been pretty damned frigid night and day.

I actually tallied up how many freezing or below nights there’s been since the first of November. Turns out there were 91 nights that qualified out of a total of 151 days.

That’s why your bones were chilled all winter, especially if you work outdoors, because you don’t have much of an opportunity to warm up when daytime temperatures average somewhere in the mid-40s and then it’s sub-freezing at night.

The last two days we experienced our first spring-like weather after five months of extreme winter conditions. And Major League baseball just completed its first week of the season, which always means Spring is upon us.

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Laytonville Emergency Shelter update

As I’ve previously reported, the emergency shelter snafu caused by county bureaucratic inaction during the three-day closure of a 70-mile stretch of Highway 101 in late February, was the topic of a full discussion at the Laytonville Town Council meeting recently.

We decided at the meeting that Laytonville will independently manage disaster response and emergency shelter operations. Think of it this way: Almost without exception, local problems call for local solutions.

We’ve formed a coalition of local agencies and organizations to oversee disaster response and shelter operations. Those organizations are Laytonville Healthy Start, the Laytonville Fire Department, the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council, Laytonville County Water District, Long Valley Health Center, and the Laytonville Unified school District.

This week, my daughter Jayma Shields Spence, Laytonville Healthy Start Director, was contacted by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County (CFMC), which is a county-wide nonprofit organization that administers permanent charitable funds established through gifts and bequests from individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations.

CFMC made the contact because of all the media reports regarding the shutdown of Highway 101 that resulted in the stranding of travelers in the Laytonville area in need of shelter from the storm. The Foundation is offering to assist our efforts in handling future emergencies on our own.

What follows is a letter from CFMC’s Senior Program Officer, Meredith DeLucia, explaining her organization’s proposal to assist Laytonville area agencies and organizations with our plans to establish emergency services. I’ve also included Jayma’s response to Ms DeLucia so that you will have a basic understanding of where the process stands right now and the plans to establish local emergency services.

Here’s the excerpted correspondence:

On the heels of the winter weather, the Community Foundation has been thinking of how it can best support disaster response and mitigation efforts in the county. We have determined that our partnerships with nonprofits and community organizations are our strength and would like to help convene local organizations to brainstorm ideas for streamlining disaster response.

We envision forming a regional COAD which is a group of Community Organizations Active in Disaster. This group would function in partnership with the countywide VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to help the VOAD quickly understand the on-the-ground conditions in the event of an emergency. We think of the VOAD serving as the hub of a wheel and the regional COADs as the spokes. We have seen that people in their communities are the first to recognize when the situation in their region becomes unsafe and living conditions are untenable. Regional COADs would be able to report to the central VOAD in order to ensure that resources are distributed and help is provided quickly while the county/ state/ federal government aid is processed.

Laytonville Healthy Start, Long Valley Health, and Bell Springs Fire Department were the three partners who first came to mind as you were instrumental in responding to the events in February and March. If you are willing, we would love to have your organization represented at this convening. Please let me know if you would be interested.

Thank you!

Meredith DeLucia

Community Foundation

Hi Meredith,

Thanks for reaching out and lending support, I can’t express my gratitude enough to the Community Foundation.

Our local “MAC” (Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council) is supporting a localized effort to respond to sheltering folks at my site and in collaboration with the school district if/when we need to — without having to rely on the county during emergencies — our awful experience with the County during the snowstorms of Feb 23-25 in downtown Laytonville solidified our mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. To date, I have gathered enough supplies to get 15 people on cots so we won’t have to go through the county’s bureaucratic chain of command that failed us last time we requested access to the emergency shelter trailer parked right outside the doors of Healthy Start.

So, we would love to partner with you and the other entities mentioned in your email.

I would add Laytonville Fire Department (adding Sue Carberry here as I know she is interested in this topic as well). We have Mike Carter in the community who is a CERT trainer as well as HAM radio operator. I believe LVHC has a HAM radio.

I am including my dad, Jim Shields here, he’s the chairman of the LAMAC and I have also added the LAMAC’s David “Lizard” Jeffries, who was willing to lend a hand to us while we were hosting stranded travelers at Healthy Start.

I think a member of the Spy Rock community should be included, I have someone in mind, I’ll see if she’s interested or could point us to someone else. I think a member of the Woodman Canyon community would be beneficial as well - I have added LaRae Wise here as she would know the appropriate person to add to the invite list.

Thank you for reaching out.

Jayma Shields Spence

Laytonville Healthy Start

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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The late Juan Alarcón

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by Malcolm Macdonald

The headline here: Two new members of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board of Directors, who ran last fall on a promise of bringing transparency to that body, have engaged in exactly the opposite, withholding crucial information from fellow board members and the public.

First, let's go back to how we got to such a juncture. Last August a slate of candidates, Lee Finney, Susan Savage, and Jade Tippett, filed for the November election to fill three vacant seats on the Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board of Directors. Simply put, their mission was to unseat one member of the then current board running for re-election, John Redding. 

Redding had served three and a half years on the MCHCD Board at that point. He was coming off a failed campaign to unseat Fifth District Supervisor Ted Williams in June. To say failed puts it mildly. Redding barely garnered a double digit percentage against Williams. Much of his tenure on the MCHCD Board was spent as the treasurer. However, in mid-October 2022, with his performance openly challenged by a majority of his board colleagues, Redding resigned as treasurer. He didn't help his campaign for re-election to the MCHCD Board by making social media comments like, “The three women Board members have failed the community with their unserious, irresponsible approach to their jobs.”

A few days later Redding followed up with his version of an explanation for his resignation as board treasurer, “I grew weary of dealing with the three psychos on the Board.” 

With those three board members working to untangle the financial mess Redding left (draining one of the district's main bank accounts without notifying the rest of the board is one example), the slate of Finney, Tippett, and Savage coasted into the three MCHCD Board of Directors (BOD) seats. By the first week in December their election was certified, but they chose to bypass any meetings of the board that month.

Ignoring advice from multiple people to keep their initial meeting simple, in the first days of 2023 an MCHCD agenda popped up with twenty Discussion/Action items on it plus a fifteen minute organizational presentation. According to the layout of the agenda, this was all supposed to take place within a two hour time slot. One of the bigger storms of the winter prevented that meeting from occurring. 

I was one of the people advising new board member Lee Finney to keep their first meeting a simple affair. On January 9th a new agenda appeared. New in that a few words had been changed and one agenda item swapped for another, but still twenty action items and the fifteen minute extra discussion.

I sent a text to Finney, “So, essentially the same agenda..?!”

Finney responded, “It's been pared down some per your advice.”

MM: “That's bogus.” As noted, virtually nothing had been changed. I listed many of the items that appeared unnecessary, yet were still in the agenda for a January 12th meeting.

Finney replied, apparently referring to the MCHCD website where the agenda was posted, “This is the wrong document – many changes made. I will see about getting correct Agenda posted.”

Come January 12th, that same twenty item document was still the working agenda for the meeting. When the agenda was questioned that evening, Finney defended it and voted to approve it. Director Sara Spring, the lone holdover from the previous board, was the lone dissenter.

One item on the stormed-out agenda was dropped, a report from the prior board chair. Something had happened that apparently made the prior chair reluctant to participate with the new board. Somewhat innocuously placed in the middle of the January 12th agenda was a Discussion/Action item titled, “Manager of Office 365 accounts.”

Of course, the new board got nowhere near close to completing their overly ambitious agenda on January 12th. Far beyond the allotted time and as the hour grew late, a few items deemed time sensitive were bumped up in the agenda to be discussed and acted on before adjournment. The “Manager of Office 365 accounts” was not one of these. Remember that detail. It is going to come into play later.

On January 26th, the new board at MCHCD held a fifteen item agenda. It contained that “Manager of Office 365 accounts” item again, but once more lateness of the hour shortened the meeting and the “Office 365” item was not deemed important enough to be considered in the waning minutes, though other items were.

A Microsoft Office 365 account allows an organization such as the board of directors of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District to store all of their emails in one place. When the new board held a special meeting on February 8th it became apparent that a majority of the prior board were reluctant to hand over their emails without protective measures being taken. Former board member Amy McColley spoke, via Zoom, at the February 8th meeting. In essence she advised that the prior board would archive their emails, the new board could open a 365 account of their own, and the emails of the prior board could be accessed as needed from the old 365 archived account. McColley emphasized that the prior board's emails should be carefully vetted before opening because of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996 created to protect sensitive patient health information) precautions. 

Alexander Henson, the attorney Finney, Savage, and Tippett insisted on retaining at a January meeting, made a statement to the effect that there was no reason for any of the prior board to have HIPAA information in their emails. Apparently, Henson chose between not paying attention, utter ignorance, or doing no research whatsoever in making that statement. Two of the members of the prior board have worked in the medical world, with patients, on almost a daily basis for years. 

Regardless, the Finney, Tippett, Savage slate voted to take over control of the prior board's Office 365 emails with Chair Finney as administrator. Kerfuffle seemingly over.

Something didn't add up. I filed a public records request for any emails sent by current board members to Rackspace, the parent company for the 365 email account.

When the request was honored, I received a half dozen copies of emails between board member Tippett and Rackspace along with a Tippet email to the prior board chair on February 7th in which Tippett wrote, “I need the log-in credentials for the Rackspace account.”

The prior chair responded that same afternoon, “I do not know them. I never had them.”

The emails between Tippett and Rackspace show him taking control of the prior board's Office 365 email account on February 7th, the day before the MCHCD Board would discuss and possibly take action concerning the 365 email account. At the February 8th MCHCD Board meeting, neither Tippett nor Finney told their fellow board members or the public in attendance that they had already taken the action the day before on the “Action” item the board discussed and acted on a day later. 

That is not how elected officials display an affinity for transparent action.

Along with the email exchange between Tippett and Rackspace, the response to the public records request included a 3 ¼ page, single-spaced, narrative authored by Tippett. Who does that? The request was simply for emails between Rackspace and the new board members. 

Tippett's narrative reads like a defensive excuse. At that February 8th meeting other board members made comments or asked questions that clearly required responses from Tippett or Finney to reveal/announce that they already had control of the prior board's Office 365 email account, but neither even hinted that this was the case. So the Tippett narrative looks like an excuse to cover that utter lack of transparency. He states that he and Finney had “several conversations of concern about the security of the Office 365 resource.”

If that was, indeed, true why didn't Finney or Tippett, say as much at the February 8th meeting. At one point during that meeting Director Savage asked a question of Finney about safeguarding the email account of the prior board. Finney hemmed and hawed for a couple of seconds then said it would be problematic if anything happened to the email account, letting Savage, the rest of the board, and the public think that the email account was not yet secured.

Let's go back to reiterate that one of the main reasons the slate of Finney, Tippett, and Savage promulgated for running for the MCHCD Board seats was to achieve a greater sense of transparency than they perceived in the prior board. 

Savage has stated that she knew nothing about the 365 email account deceit, but she votes in lock step with Finney and Tippett time after time. In further disregard to transparency, Savage, Finney, and Tippett have engaged in three-way emails about MCHCD Board agenda items without any apparent concern for adhering to the Brown Act which precludes such communications of a majority of an elected body outside of a public meeting. 

As treasurer of the board, Tippett more or less demanded the rest of the board approve a transfer of $4 million dollars to Adventist Health at a February 23rd meeting without any supporting documentation for the transfer because from his point of view it would wreck his relationship with an Adventist Health employee if the transfer was not made more or less immediately. Similar to the proposed transfers of large sums at the March 30th MCHCD Board meeting, Tippett has not yet provided the supporting documentation for that $4 million transfer though he acknowledged such a need back in February. It would appear that Finney, Savage, and Finney only bandy the term “transparency” when it suits them and ignore it the rest of the time.

The supporting materials for that $4 million transfer of district funds have still not been produced.

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Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) (Tone Taylor)

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Dear Anderson Valley Community, 

I was in Sacramento for a meeting with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) attorney and the Executive Director of CIF. They are making progress in answering our complaint regarding the exorbitant ticket fees relative to the hourly minimum wage earned by many of our families and the lack of access for people that do not have a credit card. Schools should not have to front credit card payments for families. We are working on a collaborative model where perhaps their foundation would buy tickets for schools like ours. No details yet. However, to address the barrier of the credit card in the immediate future they are placing an iPad at any school district that requests it, so a parent can come in and pay cash with a one button purchase and not have to go through the online credit card process. Baby steps, but we definitely have their attention because I am certain they understand and empathize that there is a segment of the population that is shut out from participating in their students’ extra-curricular activities due to the current barriers and structures of the CIF ticket policies. 

We are also looking at criteria that truly define economically challenged school districts; particularly, rural ones that are far more challenged within the routine definitions of free and reduced lunch or Title 1. Use of those indicators captures hundreds of schools in California that have far greater economic opportunity than those small rural, high property districts. We are working with CIF to develop some other criteria such as poverty line comparisons that would be appropriate to define high needs schools. I am hopeful we can craft a solution together. If not, we will figure out next steps because parents have a right to watch their kids play and paying an hour or more of your minimum wage salary to do so is unconscionable.

On a sidenote, Congressman Huffman‘s office has selected our elementary septic project as one of 15 projects to advance to the Appropriations Committee for federal funding consideration. This is by no means guaranteed, but it is another potential avenue to preserve our bond funds for all of the other repairs. We are also hosting a structural engineer walk through to look at any potential building replacements from a seismic standpoint to petition the state for full replacement building funding. We are particularly targeting the agricultural buildings, the gym, the rotten walkway canopies at both sites and the shop. This will take a while but could be an amazing transformation for our school system. In the words of NASA engineers, “We just have to work the problem.”

I heard from Miss Cook this morning that the 22 Puerto Rico class trip world travelers are on the final flight to their destinations. So many students had their first ever flight experiences yesterday. Reported Miss Cook, “Everyone has been wonderful and no hiccups so far and the chaperones are rock stars.” Folks, do you know what Anderson Valley is creating for kids with the energy and commitment of people like Miss Cook and the chaperones? Experiences to remember a lifetime and knowledge used to build a future of expectation and success.

I wish you and your family a very restful break.

Yours truly,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

Cell: 707-684-1017

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer 

Needing assurance it was still in business, I pushed the Forest Club door open, took a stool and called for a cold can of Coors. 

Good choice, this, I told myself. 

Last time here I sat with Phil Baldwin years before he died. A nod to the mirror, a silent toast to Phil. Any Forest Club visit(s) prior to that would have been a decade or more back. 

Here in 2023 the old bar is really no different. On this cool March afternoon the joint is dark, fragrant, perfect. A few touches of color and the familiar amber glow from mirrored stacks of liquor bottles, hardly changed from the Forest Club of 50 years back. Or perhaps 100, Prohibition aside. 

On this day I sat there alone (Definition: In poor company) and did a quick mental inventory of all the other bars still operating in Ukiah. 

It took me 10 minutes. I came up with Zero. 

Yeah, you can order a drink at The Office at the south end of Mill Street, or at the downtown brew pub or even at Miss Saigon’s restaurant way up North State. That’s if you enjoy drinking in clean well-lit rooms with six-year olds crawling around and yelling. 

Is it possible Ukiah, a city of some 16,000, is today home to just a single old-fashioned bar? Are we on Jupiter? 

Are we marooned on some island? Is there another city across the fertile plains that beats us? Somewhere without a darkened lounge where adults can gather privately to dribble alcohol down their throats? 

We’d need inspect the most remote dry deserts of Nevada, out among the tribes of Mormon, to find our equal. That, or prowl through Amish country and a 19th century lifestyle that declines coffee, automobiles, Bud Lite and other modern enjoyments, for us to uncover the privation Ukiah endures, and is probably proud of. 

Town & Country Club: Dark and empty more than a decade. Water Trough: Arson and bulldozers. Palace Hotel: Crumbled bricks and memories. Dozens more, now gone, where locals once came together to drink the gods’ nectar, watch sports and tell lies. No more. 

And the local youth? In the face of declining birth rates we’ve shut down critical venues for young men and women to rub against each other in semi-darkened rooms where, with some alcohol and a bit of luck, they might find themselves in one another’s arms come 2 a.m. Or tomorrow morning. 

From such encounters come relationships, extended couplings, even marriages and children. This is how society is saved from having no kids to attend its schools, perform entry level work and keep our Social Security tanks filled. With a few pesky sexually transmitted diseases along the way. 

Seriously: What are young people doing with their reproductive organs these days? Harvesting them for cash to buy another iPhone? 

When we were young we staggered out of the Drifters Club and drove blind to some apartment to rip each other’s clothes off with our teeth. Today the bars are gone, no one drives drunk, and opportunities to squirm around on mattresses with one another are near extinct. 

Lacking common turf to perform sacred mating ritual dances, where does all that sap, sweat and precious bodily fluid wind up? Those awkward dancing calisthenics, lubricated by Tequila Sunrises, Harvey Wallbangers and shots of Jack allowed millworkers and beauticians to impersonate Olivia Newton-John and Mick Jagger for a few hours on a Friday night. 

Now we’re grownups with nowhere to go to dodge wives, children and other responsibilities, so we’re jumping off bridges and eating fentanyl. 

The reality is that at 5 o’clock and the end of another dreary day there is nowhere for employees to gather, laugh and grumble. There’s no Russell’s Place for millworkers to wash sawdust down dry throats with frosty mugs of beer, nor a Samoa Club for lawyers to gargle off the sour taste of a day in court with ice-cold dry Martinis. 

The long march of civilization has gone off-track and onto the shores of some remote island. Can we make wine from coconuts? 

Cat & Mouse

We have a basement in our house in North Carolina with an exterior door next to the driveway. We also have a batch of feral cats living about. 

One day I went to the basement on some errand or other, left the door wide open and fiddled amidst the furnace and some pipes. Then I left, closing the door behind. 

Two days later wife Trophy asked me about the meowing. “What meowing?” I said. She’d been hearing cats the last day or two, and it sounds like they’re under the house. 

So she went out, opened the basement door and a furry black cannonball of a cat shot past her and into the bushes. 

Next day she was out fussing in the backyard planting some stuff, picking up other stuff, when the furry black cat emerged from tall grass. 

The cat came over and dropped a dead mouse at her feet, then turned and trotted away. 

(TWK gets credit for this weekly column, although it’s Tom Hine who gets the blame. They live in Ukiah and the Carolinas.) 

* * *


Yar Matey! The Philo Yacht Club Regatta has been salvaged from Davy Jones' Locker and it will be "Full Speed Ahead--Damn the Torpedoes" on May 7th at high noon under the Hendy Woods bridge. Scurvy dogs, landlubbers, mermaids, and skippers of all persuasions will gather to display their boat building skills, compete in nautical themed contests, picnic, party, and “splice the mainbrace.” (I'm bringing my favorite grog--Gosling's Black Seal Rum from Bermuda. Hit me up for a snort if you're so inclined.). Trophies will be awarded to the most creative watercraft and to the winner of the “Name that nautical tune” competition with the all star kazoo band in attendance.

Boatbuilding rules are as follows: 1.Watercraft must be bigger than a shoebox and smaller than a garbage can. 2. Boats must have a name. 3.”If it don't float, it's not a boat."

Past entries have included “Cat Ship,” “Bad Habits,” “Regatta Tostata,” “Where's the Baby?,” and the famous “Sod Sloop” (Perhaps a vague reference to a landscaper's wet dream or Sir Winston Churchill's now famous description of a British Admiral: “He's all Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash.”)

I'm often asked if there will be a race. I really can't answer that right now but I do recall that in the past there has been the popular “Boat Drop” off the bridge. “Thar She Blows,” or, “Look out Below” being the warning shot across the bow.

I've passed on the Commodore duties to Scott Handley and Rita Bates so I won't have to take the blame for not picking up the flotsam and jetsam after the party or handing out the trophies to the wrong boatowners.

Speaking of which, bribing the judges is not only accepted but probably the only way you're going to bring home a trophy!

Sincerely, (Ex) Commodore Steve “Joe Blow” Derwinski


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Deb Lennox, Mary Anderson, Gail Coulson & Kathy Carl show beautiful prints, this month at the Co-op. They've shared printing ventures over many years and display a large number of diversely printed pieces at ACM, corner of Kasten at Albion, open daily from 4-7. 707-937-2217.

Lynne <>

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, April 9, 2023

Britton, Dennis, Ellingwood

NICHOLAS BRITTON, Covelo. Bringing controlled substance into jail, probation revocation.

PATRICK DENNIS, Covelo. Protective order violation.

EMERY ELLINGWOOD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Hahn, Martin, Martinez

WILLIAM HAHN, Willits. Domestic battery, brandishing, criminal threats.

JENNIFER MARTIN, Ukiah. Parole violation.

FERNANDO MARTINEZ-ORTIZ, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Motts, Orozco, Sandage



VICKI SANDAGE, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, failure to appear.

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Radio show on March 30

Dear John Sakowcz & Mary Massey,

I'm happy to inform you that your show is one of the top selections for our first ever Talk show podcast page! 

Tanya Horlick 

KMUD Radio Public Affairs Coordinator 

(707) 223-3963


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About a month ago a letter was published in the AVA by an inmate named Patrick Redmill aka “aunt Fester.” He spoke extremly poorly about me, my family and friends. Normally, I would have responded with a scorching rebuttal.

But not this time! Sorry Aunt Fester, but I can not spare the energy requried to feed your unquenchable thirst for hate. But what I can spare is a little empathy for you and your continued suffering. I hope you one day find the help you need.

I apologize to my family and friends. I am embarrassed and ashamed rto have sunk to the depths of yuck required to have a person like Redmill know my name. I continue to dedicate every day to my improvement and well-being so that I never sink to such depths again. 

Redmill’s letter was a necessary evil in that it revealed a mentality and sickness that has permeated our commuinty for far too long. 

Keep the ones you love close to you. Make good choices and remember if you lay with dogs you will get fleas.

Rise above!

With love,

Alan Sonny Crow


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IT’S IMPOSSIBLE to see the camps in Gaza or the West Bank and not find yourself reeling with the ugliness of it all. The absolute failure of smart, presumably good-hearted people on both sides to find something, anything, better than what we've arrived at. And the willingness of people to not see what is plainly apparent, righe there, enormous and frankly, hideous. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s nearly impossible to even describe reality much less deal with it. It’s utterly heartbreaking.

There's no hope, none, of ever talking about it without pissing somebody, if not everybody, off. By the end of this hour, I thought, I will be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an orientalise, socialist, fascist, CIA agent, and worse. 

I thought about how I was going to do a show in the region for a very long time. And yes, there was a lot of trepidation. I knew there would be recriminations and unhappiness no matter what I did or said or showed. But ultimately, I decided to just say, fuck it and take it head on.

Frankly, it was much better received than I could ever have expected. The reaction from the Arab and Palestinian community was overwhelmingly positive—which I found both flattering and dismaying. I say dismaying because I did so little. I showed so little. It seems innocuous. But it was apparently a hell of a lot more than what they are used to seeing on Western television. For some, unfortunately, depicting Palestinians as anything other than terrorists is proof positive that you have an agenda, that you have bought in to some sinister anti-Semitic propaganda guidelines issuing from some evil central command in charge of interfacing with Western com/symp dupes. 

A photo of a Palestinian washing their car or playing with their child is, therefore automatically “propaganda.” I retweeted a photo of two dead children on the beach in Gaza. I had walked on that same beach. The photo (which later appeared on the front page of The New York Times) was taken from—or near—the same hotel I had stayed in. 

I am the father of a seven year old gitl who I, of course, adore. I retweeted the picture with the comment that as a father, as someone who had walked on that beach, I felt particularly horrified. That’s all I said. The reaction? This was not, it would seem, a ‘Oh, yeah? Well, what about…?’ situation. The photo did not require, one would think, any equivalency, a countervailing argument. It’s a picture of dead children. Period. The appropriate reaction, one would think would be ‘How terrible!’ But, as it turned out, of course, even this image would be hijacked by extremists on both sides, the conversation devolving into ugly racist shit and accusations.

This is all too often the world we live in now—where even a simple, heartfelt, human reaction—the kind of emotion any father would have—is tantamount to choosing sides.

If I have a side, its against extremism—of any kind: religious, political, other: there’s no conversation when everybody is absolutely certain of the righteousness of their argument. That’s a platitude. But it’s still true. 

— Anthony Bourdain

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Civil War Vet and Granddaughters, Mt. Pleasant, PA, 1900

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THE BEAUTY OF ROSES may lie in part in their tenderness, in the petals as soft as the cheek of a child—a youthful complexion was once described as “blooming.” The petals of this domesticated flower are fleshy without being thick or tough like a magnolia petal, delicate without being as frail as one of the wildflowers that wilts as soon as you pick it, and this quality that resembles human skin lasts as they lose their crispness and sag, as though gravity first arrived in middle age, before their smoothness erodes into tiny wrinkles that fracture the smooth surface as the flower begins to wither in earnest. The mortality of flowers is also part of their essential nature, and they've been used to represent the fleeting, evanescent nature of life again and again, with the implication that that which does not last is more precious for it.

Fresh is another word that indicates youth, newness, but also mortality or transience. Something that will never fade or die was never fresh. The writer and actor Peter Coyote once remarked that no one cries over artificial flowers, and there's a particular kind of disappointment when you begin to admire a bouquet or a blossom at a distance and find out closer up that it's fake. The disappointment arises in part from having been deceived, but also from encountering an object that is static, that will never die because it never lived, that didn't form itself our of the earth, and that has a texture coarser, dryer, less inviting to the touch than a mortal flower.

— Rebecca Solnit, ‘Orwell’s Roses’

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BY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, on April 18, 1906, inside of twelve hours, half the heart of the city of San Francisco was gone. At that time I watched the vast conflagration from out on the bay. It was dead calm. Not a flicker of wind stirred. Yet from every side wind was pouring in upon the city. East, west, north, and south, strong winds were blowing upon the doomed city. The heated air rising made an enormous upward suck. Thus did the fire itself build its own colossal chimney through the atmosphere. Day and night this dead calm continued, and yet, near to the flames, the wind was often half a gale, so mighty was the suck.

Wednesday night saw the destruction of the very heart of the city. Dynamite was lavishly used, and many of San Francisco’s proudest structures were crumbled by man himself into ruins, but there was no withstanding the onrush of the flames. Time and again successful stands were made by the firefighters, but every time the flames flanked around on either side, or came up from the rear, and turned to defeat the hard-won victory.

An enumeration of the buildings destroyed would be a directory of San Francisco. An enumeration of the buildings undestroyed would be a line and several addresses. An enumeration of the deeds of heroism would stock a library and bankrupt the Carnegie medal fund. An enumeration of the dead will never be made. All vestiges of them were destroyed by the flames. The number of the victims of the earthquake will never be known. South of Market Street, where the loss of life was particularly heavy, was the first to catch fire.

Remarkable as it may seem, Wednesday night, while the whole city crashed and roared into ruin, was a quiet night. There were no crowds. There was no shouting and yelling. There was no hysteria, no disorder. I passed Wednesday night in the path of the advancing flames, and in all those terrible hours I saw not one woman who wept, not one man who was excited, not one person who was in the slightest degree panic-stricken.

— Jack London

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by Lawrence Reichard

I never thought I'd utter these words, but yesterday accused felon Donald Trump said something I agree with. Trump called for defunding the wildly politicized and incompetent FBI, destroyer of lives, families and communities. In the personage of none other than FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover, it tried to destroy my family.

In 1959, George Washington University fired my father, Dr. Richard Reichard, for being a member of the Communist Party while pursuing a doctorate in history at Harvard. At the time, Hoover was on the GWU board of directors. My father's firing threw my family into financial hardship, forcing us to move into my paternal grandmother's home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and forcing my father to, among other things, sell his lifelong stamp collection so he could put food on the table.

Later on, when I was a kid in Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1970s, my father more than once told me the FBI only went after radicals, political activists and smalltime, powerless criminals, and never after rich, powerful criminals who did much more damage to lives and communities.

That was right then and it still is.

In 2012, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any and all FBI records on my very prominent role in Occupy Bangor (Maine), and I received back various pages of records, most of which was redacted - as if it involved matters of national security or something similar.

In other words, the same old FBI abuse of power.

But it's hard to imagine Trump would ever defund the FBI. JFK reportedly hated Hoover and wanted to fire him, but didn't. One can only imagine the dirt Hoover might have had on the famously philandering Kennedy.

And LBJ waived mandatory retirement for Hoover, who steadfastly refused to die. The dirt Hoover may have had on LBJ is perhaps less hard to imagine - and it might have done in JFK too. In 1960 there were widespread reports of real - not hallucinated - election fraud in the race that elevated Kennedy and his vice presidential pick Johnson to the White House. In Johnson's home state of Texas and in Chicago, a city lorded over by Mayor Richard Daley (Sr.), the deceased reportedly flocked to the polls.

(Richard Nixon, who did not receive the votes of the deceased, thought about challenging the election, but wisely decided against it. He knew better than to corner the ruling class.)

When Hoover finally relieved us of his company in 1972, my brother Stephen was out bicycling through his afternoon deliveries of the Charlotte News - now defunct - when he heard a cacophony of car horns and yelling. It was my father. He had got behind the wheel of our purple Plymouth Valiant and was driving through the streets of Charlotte honking and yelling: "Hoover's dead! Hoover's dead!"

It's not hard to imagine the dirt the FBI might have on Trump. Never mind whatever high-priced guests Trump might have had in any Moscow hotel rooms, Trump reportedly sold Trump Tower condos to Russian mobsters at fire sale prices. Staving off a defunding from the likes of Trump would have been child's play for Hoover.

But Trump's call for defunding the FBI did remind me of a 2004 Counterpunch piece I wrote on the FBI's long history of incompetence. Here it is:

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A rare photograph of Vincent Van Gogh taken in 1873 when he was 19 years old. When the image was taken, Vincent worked for the Goupil & Cie art dealership in The Hague, shortly before being relocated to their branch in London, England. It is the only known photograph of Van Gogh's face. Credit: lori.follart.history_in_color

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“IF I RUN, my top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.” 

— Robert F. Kennedy

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I had a major crush on a Karen Carpenter lookalike in the 7th and 8th grade who just so happened to play French Horn in the band (I was first chair Trumpet, grades 7-9), for whom this song — SUPERSTAR — always plucked my heart strings. Of course, wouldn’t you know it, she never once gave me the time of day. But that’s what minor chords were invented for. To remind would be young lotharios of the melancholy of unrequited love. It hurt SOOOO bad!

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Ukraine officials on Sunday shrugged off leaked Pentagon documents from the war effort that revealed data on military activities, including U.S. drone spy planes in the region and use of ammunition by Ukrainian forces.

The leaks, first reported by The New York Times, include documents released on Twitter and other social media sites. 

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, said on Ukrainian TV that a preliminary analysis of the materials revealed "false, distorted figures on losses on both side." Much of the information was not current and appeared to have be obtained from public sources, Yusov said.

"Russian special services' most successful operations have been taking place in Photoshop," Yusov said.

The French Defense Ministry also challenged information from the classified papers, saying that claims it had troops on the ground in Ukraine were not true and that the information did not come from the French military.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office has released a statement saying his advisers were "focused on measures to prevent the leakage of information" regarding military plans. The Justice Department, at the Pentagon's request, has launched an investigation of the leak and who is responsible for the intelligence breach.

Nuclear Worries: White House: No reason to change strategic stance after Putin says he'll move nuclear weapons

A Russian missile hit a residential area at Zaporizhia, killing an 11-year-old girl, presidential spokesman Andriy Yermak tweeted, adding: "Bloodthirsty savages."

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu threw his support behind Ukraine gaining membership in NATO, telling the Kyiv Independent the military alliance "is the only consistent security guarantee we have. have. WEUkraine, and also for Europe to evade a new war of aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation."

— USA Today

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IN HIS ARTICLE, “A SMARTER WAY to Reduce Gun Deaths,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof describes the steps required for a person to adopt a dog in the state of Mississippi:

Fill out a 64-question application.

If renting, the landlord is contacted.

Have family members meet the dog in person.

Create yard fencing and security.

Schedule a sleepover visit with the dog.

Pay the $125 adoption fee.

Adopt the dog.

And if they want to buy a firearm from a gun store?

Pass a 13-question background check.

Buy a gun.

Even less is required if they purchase a gun from another individual. All they have to do is not appear to be underage or drunk. 

— Barry Evans

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by Maureen Dowd

When women were first hired by the New York Fire Department in the early 1980s, no red carpet led to the red doors.

As Suzanne Daley reported, one pioneer female firefighter recounted that the men in her company “slammed doors in her face, swore at her, put firecrackers under her bed and once tried to lock her in a kitchen they had filled with tear gas.” Some women found urine in their boots. One was attacked with a knife.

No knives have been drawn since Laura Kavanagh, 40, became the city’s first female fire commissioner in October, but charges of backstabbing have flown.

Laura Kavanaugh

Three months into her administration, she faced a mutiny by several of her male staff chiefs, giving one retired female firefighter I talked to flashbacks to reports of those early days of vitriol. 

Progress has been made, but the paternal, parochial 1950s mind-set has never really gone away in the overwhelmingly white, male, tradition-bound hierarchy, some female firefighters told me.

Sitting in her office in Brooklyn, wearing a flame-red jacket and black pants, Kavanagh said that growing up in a “large and complicated” clan and running a department with relatives cascading through the ranks make the turmoil she faces feel like a family feud, in a family with a life-or-death mission.

“It fits with my own family, for better or worse,” she said. “Sometimes there’s yelling and sometimes it’s not easy.”

A San Francisco native — her mother was a teacher, her father worked at the phone company — Kavanagh has an Irish-Italian background, mirroring her department’s traditional DNA. She has a small Celtic knot tattoo on her left wrist peeking out from under her white Apple Watch band.

If Hollywood filmmakers were looking to cast a big-city female fire commissioner, they would conjure Kavanagh — tall, athletic, with blue eyes, an auburn mane and a cleft in her chin. 

Kavanagh does not blame misogyny for the firestorm. She said that some of the men just need to adjust to how she “looks and seems” — certainly, the commissioner’s SUV has never had an extra pair of high heels in the back seat before. “Change is just hard, period,” she said.

But her supporters think otherwise.

“She disrupted historical gender roles,” said Letitia James, the New York attorney general. “She did it by tearing off the Band-Aid, and historic wounds were exposed.”

Her critics, however, see a young commissioner in over her head, stepping on toes without thinking of the consequences.

Even though she has been at fire headquarters since 2014, as first deputy commissioner since 2018 and acting commissioner since February 2022, she is treading treacherous ground, with fault lines of class, sex and age in a department with over 17,000 employees and a $2 billion budget.

The drama began on Feb. 3, when Kavanagh delegated to her chief of staff the demotion of three three-star staff chiefs working at headquarters — Michael Gala, Fred Schaaf and Joseph Jardin — while she was in a meeting with the rest of her leadership team. (That the chief of staff, Luis Martinez, is an ex-cop rankled many in the Fire Department, given the storied rivalry between the agencies.) The three men, in their early 60s — they were in the group of 27 staff chiefs at headquarters — are deputy chiefs now, back in the field.

Kavanagh did not get into detail about the reasons for the demotions, although an aide said the commissioner wanted to shake things up and send a message that she didn’t want to play “the same old game.”

Despite Kavanagh’s reticence, there may be some clues to what that game is. Gala wrote a public letter in 2011 complaining that “the frenzy to diversify” the department would cause “future ruination.” The New York Daily News reported that as Queens borough commander, Schaaf resisted disciplining some firefighters after allegations of racism at one of his firehouses. The paper also reported that Jardin was the subject of a series of complaints with the city’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity over his management style.

Days after the demotions, John Hodgens, the five-star chief of department and its highest-ranking uniformed official, and John Esposito, the chief of fire operations, asked to be demoted to Civil Service ranks.

Allies of Hodgens and Esposito — union representatives said the two men declined to be interviewed — told me the chiefs felt humiliated because they learned about the demotions only when one of the demoted men texted someone at the big meeting with Kavanagh, after she had left.

Hodgens, in particular, is a surprising adversary, since he had at times supported Kavanagh’s quest for the top job, and Kavanagh promoted both men to their current posts.

Further inflaming matters, someone taped the meeting and leaked it to The Daily News — a breach of department protocols that is being investigated. On the tape, the paper reported, Kavanagh can be heard complaining that she had gotten little response to her requests for innovative suggestions, while chiefs can be heard asking about vacation time and the use of personal cars — making them look like entitled crybabies and the commissioner look like a forward-looking leader. A lawsuit from three chiefs, two of whom Kavanagh demoted, accuses her camp of leaking the tape.

Meanwhile, seven staff chiefs have joined Hodgens and Esposito in solidarity, asking to be demoted. Kavanagh, trying to steady the ship, has not approved any of the requests.

James McCarthy, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, which represents officers above the rank and file, said the uprising is not waning. He said the chiefs and deputy chiefs involved do not see themselves as mutineers but more as principled resisters, “like Archibald Cox” during Watergate.

McCarthy called it “disingenuous” of Kavanagh’s supporters to label her critics in the department as misogynists resistant to change, given that his union supported a Black woman, Terryl Brown, the department’s chief legal counsel, for the commissioner job. Kavanagh ousted Brown about a month ago.

Kavanagh believes she has support among the rank-and-file firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

And those I spoke to outside the top ranks had little patience for the chiefs’ complaints. “A soap opera in a crystal palace,” an Emergency Medical Services union official called the controversy. “Chiefs sucking their thumbs and stamping their feet,” a firefighter said.

Kavanagh rejected the chiefs’ claims that the public, and firefighters, are in jeopardy without their decades of experience. Those claims didn’t seem to be true when a call came in about a building collapse in Brooklyn while she and I visited Rescue 1 in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. Firefighters piled into a truck in the blink of an eye.

“We don’t get to pick the emergency or the calamity. We just respond — that’s the name of the game,” said Dellon Morgan, a Brooklyn fire captain and former president of the Vulcan Society, an organization of Black firefighters. He finds the opposition to Kavanagh ego-driven: “Every step is being challenged, even the smallest moves, and it is just not necessary.”

Bertha Lewis, the head of the Black Institute, a New York-based policy group, said she had warned the commissioner that the old guard would come for her in a “Listen, little girl, how dare you question us?” moment and Kavanagh replied, “Let them come.”

Kavanagh’s friends say the uprising has upset her, but her reserved manner cloaks that. She told me that she has a “thick skin” and doesn’t let things like boos at a promotion ceremony in February affect her.

“I came here to do the right thing by the department and it’s going to require some hard decisions and some pushing,” she said. “It will be in the rearview mirror someday.”

When I asked the reason for the trio of demotions that sparked a revolt, she said she had “to simply get our head count where it needed to be.”

But clearly it was about more than head count; it was about drawing a line. Some of Kavanagh’s supporters wonder if the move was too precipitous. Others, however, note that subtlety has been tried before, and chiefs have stubbornly resisted.

In a liberal city of great diversity, the department is 73 percent white men, down from 92 percent 20 years ago. Out of 352 battalion chiefs, 344 are white; one is a woman. (The Police Department is 42 percent white and 80 percent male.)

If the rebels thought they could force Mayor Eric Adams to dump Kavanagh by making it seem as though the department was spiraling out of control and that public safety was in danger, they seem to have misread the mayor, who has put women in charge of all three uniformed departments — police, fire and sanitation — and who is known for sticking with his people.

“Commissioner Kavanagh has promoted a culture of leadership, accountability and performance within the F.D.N.Y.,” the mayor said in a statement to me. “She has my full support.”

At their side on St. Patrick’s Day was Joe Pfeifer, who left a gig at Columbia University to become Kavanagh’s top deputy. Pfeifer was the first senior fire chief to arrive at ground zero on Sept. 11. His younger brother, Kevin, a lieutenant with Engine Company 33 in the Bowery, died in the north tower after Joe Pfeifer ordered him and hundreds of other firefighters up the stairs to rescue anyone they could find.

I Zoomed with Chief Pfeifer on his first morning back in the department, while colleagues lined up outside his office to see him.

Asked if this firestorm was simply a case of misogyny, Pfeifer said other commissioners had made major staff changes, but none got the pushback Kavanagh did. “I’ve never experienced anything like that in my entire career,” he said.

Pfeifer told me that he did not see how any of the mutineers could be part of the team going forward. “I think people can disagree,” he said, “but they can’t go out on their own and make their own rules. I think every fire, every major medical emergency, we hold to that, that there’s somebody in charge; we call it an incident commander. Well, in an agency, we call that person the commissioner.”

“What I was told by a battalion chief is that what occurred lessened their authority in the field,” he said. If Hodgens and Esposito could do what they did at headquarters, he added, “why not an entire firehouse says, I want to be transferred?”

Although Hodgens and Esposito claim they were not consulted about the demotions, Pfeifer said that Kavanagh did talk to the two chiefs about shaking up the leadership team.

“You discuss things with people ahead of time,” Pfeifer said, “and then you take action when you think it’s necessary.”

He said fresh blood in the upper ranks will invigorate the department. “There’s a lot of very experienced people in the field that we can bring up, that may even have more experience than some of the people that want to self-demote.”

Kavanagh was more opaque. “I would just say that the way forward is whatever is best for the entire department,” she said, adding: “I would like to dispel any notion that it’s, for me, personal. I put my personal feelings aside when I walk in here.”

Two lawsuits filed by chiefs, however, seem personal. The first, dismissed out of hand by U.S. District Court Judge Rachel Kovner, claimed their demotions caused “a grave risk” to the city and firefighters. A second suit accused the commissioner of ageism.

Regina Wilson, a firefighter who is president of the Vulcan Society, said she was not sorry to see the three chiefs demoted. “Black firefighters are not crying no river for them,” she said.

More strikingly, she thinks Kavanagh should not have gotten the top job in the first place. In her opinion, Kavanagh, as deputy commissioner and acting commissioner, did not do enough to diversify the department or make firehouses less hostile toward women and Black firefighters.

Wilson said “we haven’t seen the needle move” in the way they want, despite a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice under George W. Bush in 2007 that set up a court-appointed monitor and ordered the department to pay nearly $100 million to women and members of minorities who were stymied in their hope of being hired.

“You’re coming into work and you already got to make sure that you don’t die that day,” she said. “Now you got to come into work with the mind-set that you’re fighting against ridicule, racism and sexism.”

Does Kavanagh agree that racism is still a problem in the department?

“Yes, very much so,” she said.

Has it diversified too slowly?

“I think you’re seeing that diversity come onto the job,” she said. “It will be a long time until it’s percolated through all of the ranks. That’s just a reality of Civil Service.”

Curiously, given the opposition she has faced in her five months on the job, her thesis for her master’s of public administration at Columbia, titled “The Poisoned Water-Cooler: Workplace Gossip as a Lever of Power,” examined the role of gossip and rumor in organizations that are clinging to the status quo and the harmful effect that has on female leaders.

It was at Columbia, which hosts the F.D.N.Y. Officers Management Institute, that she met some of her closest advisers, whom her detractors call “the Columbia cabal,” saying that her inner circle isolates her too much from the chiefs.

Another source of disdain from her opponents has been her background in politics. She worked on the 2012 Obama campaign in Pennsylvania and then Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign. She served as a special assistant to Mayor de Blasio before joining the department in the office that oversaw the press shop.

“I don’t know really what they mean,” Kavanagh said, when I noted that people in the department refer to her “P.R.” background. “That doesn’t describe the career I had working for unions and elected officials and nonprofits and doing grass-roots organizing and really understanding how to run operations and to jump into organizations and say: ‘Here’s how you can make your organization better. Here’s how you can achieve this goal.’ This feels like the training that actually all executives have in some way, shape or form. Mine just happens to have been in politics.”

Despite that background, Kavanagh said the hardest part of her job is facing the public. She hired a coach and took a public speaking class at Columbia to get more comfortable.

“I know people say they’re shy,” she said. “But I was intensely shy.” On Instagram, she shared the story of flunking her interview for kindergarten admission because she refused to speak. “I don’t want to speak for the sake of speaking,” she told me. “I still don’t relish it.”

As the first woman in charge, she said, she gets “a lot of different advice like, ‘Oh, you should be tough’ or ‘You should never show your feelings.’ I just think that’s not right.” She explained that “there are really awful moments in the Fire Department. We lost people that we love in the line of duty. We go to tragic events, where people have died. I feel quite comfortable showing my emotions in that moment.”

Working in a hypermasculine culture, she wants to get rid of the toxic element that leads to bullying and cruelty. “Bullying of any kind is completely off the table,” she said bluntly in the leaked tape of her meeting with the staff chiefs. “I will not tolerate it.”

But she also sees the need to nurture the alpha streak, among male and female firefighters, that makes them willing to jump into a fire and dangle out of 20th-story windows.

Her broader goals are increasing safety and reducing fire deaths, eliminating dangers of lithium ion batteries for electric bikes and getting state-of-the-art respirator technology.

In her free time, Kavanagh likes to watch campy horror movies, a trait she got from her mother. She also loves to pop into firehouses, sometimes during a run on a weekend, and tries to train with different units, like the dive team, because she’s a swimmer, or a unit that practices rappelling off a firehouse. Married once, she says she’s now “single, but not available,” and has no children.

Outside her office is a wall full of framed photos of all of New York’s fire commissioners. There are 33 men, the earliest bearded and mustachioed from a century and a half ago — and at the very end, a smiling Laura Kavanagh.

“I love this place,” she said. “The mission is worth fighting for and nothing can change my mind about that.”

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by Ted Dace

Is Vladimir Putin a freedom-hating madman bent on conquest regardless of the human cost? Why did he invade Ukraine?

The incontrovertible fact is that Putin's action came in response to prior US actions. Without those actions, there would be no war in Ukraine. But we can't see the relevance of this fact when our focus is locked on Putin's moral failings. The US set the stage for the devastation of Ukraine, and it's high time we faced up to it. 

To understand why Washington deliberately provoked this war, we need some context. If there's a mastermind who set all this in motion, it's Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor in the Carter administration. On July 3, 1979, on Brzezinski's advice, President Carter authorized the first shipments of arms to mujahedin guerillas battling the socialist government of a rapidly modernizing Afghanistan. Brzezinski later described to a reporter for Le Nouvel Observateur his elation when the Soviets took the bait and dispatched troops into the country, leading to a ten-year quagmire that severely weakened the Soviet Union. When the reporter asked Brzezinski if he regretted his role in the destruction of Afghanistan, he said he had no regrets over giving the Soviets their own version of Vietnam. 

In 1997 Brzezinski published a book called The Grand Chessboard in which he identified the chief threat to US global power as an economically integrated Eurasian bloc stretching from Germany to China. The key to disrupting this emerging alternative center of power was Ukraine. He advised tearing away Ukraine from the Russian orbit and aligning it with the West. 1997 was also the year NATO began its eastward expansion, a move that served no purpose except to threaten Russia, especially with the 2008 announcement that Ukraine, right on Russia's doorstep, was on track to becoming a member. Keep in mind that NATO, essentially the Pentagon's European wing, was established to counter Soviet military might in eastern Europe. The Soviets withdrew from East Germany in 1989 on the promise – delivered by George HW Bush's Secretary of State James Baker – that NATO would expand "not one inch" beyond a reunified Germany. When Bill Clinton broke that promise eight years later, he revealed that the function of NATO had decisively shifted from defense to power projection in Europe.

But it wasn't until 2014 that Brzezinski's plan began to be realized. In that year Ukraine's Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich rejected a trade agreement with the European Union in favor of a more attractive Russian offer, unwittingly providing the spark that activated the US plan to turn the country decisively to the West. A $5 billion investment and years of painstakingly laying the groundwork finally paid off when a coup toppled the elected government of Ukraine and drove a wedge between Kiev and Moscow, exactly as Brzezinksi had hoped. Thanks to a tapped phone call from US State Department official Victoria Nuland, we know that Ukraine's subsequent president, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was handpicked by Washington. Crimea, historically a Russian region that was added to Ukraine during the Soviet era so as to streamline administration, immediately rejected the coup government and voted to rejoin its homeland. 

Also overwhelmingly Russian, the Donbas in eastern Ukraine refused to recognize the new government and declared independence, triggering a military assault on the region from the illegal post-coup Kiev regime. The assault killed many thousands of Russian-speaking citizens, a figure that might have been much higher without military assistance from Moscow. Given that self-described neo-Nazis had provided the muscle behind the coup and that the new regime was explicitly anti-Russian – going so far as to ban Russian from public discourse – the persecuted residents of the Donbas had every right to secede. A Russian invasion of Ukraine to protect the Donbas was forestalled only by a German-French initiative, the Minsk Accords, that were supposed to force Kiev to cease hostilities and recognize autonomy for the Donbas. But the government never granted autonomy, and recently both of the leaders of Germany and France at the time, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, admitted that Minsk was a ruse intended to buy time while the West built up Ukraine's military in anticipation of the inevitable Russian intervention in its civil war, a conflict resulting directly from US-backed subversion. 

To this day Ukraine is the world's only country with neo-Nazi regiments officially integrated into its military. Ukraine also happens to be the country through which the original Nazis invaded Russia in 1941. That the US continues to back its government just goes to show the moral compromise Washington is willing to inflict on itself in order to isolate and weaken Russia. 

Volodymyr Zelensky got himself elected president by running on a peace and anti-corruption platform. He promised to reconcile with Russia by ending the war in the Donbas and pledging that Ukraine would remain militarily neutral, meaning that it would never join NATO. But when Putin brought out his army and demanded a halt to the flow of weapons and a guarantee of Ukrainian neutrality, Zelensky responded by ramping up shelling of the Donbas, essentially daring him to invade. Why did Zelensky not only fail to fulfill his promises but deliberately antagonize Russia? 

The answer is that Ukraine, despite holding elections since the coup, is a puppet state which has banned any political party that espouses resumption of normal relations with Russia. The boss calling the shots in Kiev is Uncle Sam, giving the lie to the claim that the US is pouring weapons into Ukraine to defend democracy. Like Afghanistan, the country is being sacrificed for the greater glory of America's unipolar world order. The war has now killed 100,000 Ukrainians and driven out millions more, all of it conveniently pinned on Putin. The so-called neoconservatives running Washington don't care about Ukrainians any more than their imperialist predecessors cared about Afghanis. 

In order to keep Russia trapped in the Ukraine quagmire, the US wielded its influence over its puppet regime to quash peace initiatives from Turkey and Israel. To ensure that Germany didn't change course and re-establish economic ties with Russia, President Biden ordered the US navy to bomb the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Russia had built at great expense so as to export natural gas directly to Germany. Since Biden had already stated that "there will be no longer Nord Stream 2" if Russia invaded, it was obvious who was behind the bombing even before Seymour Hersh revealed details of the operation on the basis of information provided by a whistleblower. 

What the US has done and continues to do to Ukraine is nothing short of diabolical. Numerous US analysts, including Cold War architect George Kennan, warned years ago that incorporating Ukraine into NATO would set off alarms in Moscow and lead to a "bad reaction" that NATO boosters would then cite as after-the-fact justification for their aggressive policy. In 2008 Ambassador to Russia William Burns wrote to the secretary of state that "Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin)." That policymakers continued to pursue this course anyway just goes to show that they wanted war and welcomed the destruction of Ukraine so long as it served US interests. Yes, Putin invaded and unleashed the terror, but it was the puppet masters in Washington who entrapped him in an action he would otherwise never have taken. What difference does it make if Putin is a sinner when Biden is the devil? 

Note that Ukraine still hasn't been officially incorporated into NATO. If it had been, the rest of the alliance would now be committed to sending in their armies to fight off the Russians. But the whole point of this operation was to get Ukraine to do the fighting, just like the mujahedin in the 80s. We want to weaken Russia, setting the stage for the overthrow of Putin, without spilling any of our own blood. Thus Ukraine, though consistently promised membership for years, is still de facto NATO only, armed to the teeth and a major threat to Russia but in no way subject to protection by the alliance. It's this coldhearted and calculated manipulation of Ukraine, seducing its government into doing our bidding and then shedding crocodile tears for its people when they get torn to pieces, that makes this operation so twisted, so appalling. 

What was unprovoked was not Putin's long-delayed invasion but the eastward march of NATO, which began even before he took office. True, Putin launched a devastating attack on Chechnya, but snuffing out a secessionist movement in your own country in no way indicates expansionist aims. His August 2007 airstrikes in South Ossetia, often cited as an example of his aggression, came in response to Georgia's invasion of the breakaway province on Russia's southern border. The troops comprising his alleged invasion of Crimea served only to ensure an orderly vote. Likewise, his excursion to Syria at the invitation of its government has prevented that country from becoming another failed state following US intervention. In short, Putin never did anything to invite NATO's drive to the Russian border. 

But none of this computes as long as we're fixated on the bloodthirsty Russian tyrant. It's the classic case of obsessing on the mote in the other man's eye while overlooking the plank in one's own. You say Putin invaded Ukraine to peel off some of its territory? Well, in 1999 President Clinton flouted international law and bombed Yugoslavia so as to grant independence to Kosovo, a failed state since its birth. The post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan merely illustrates the principle that two wrongs don't make a right. The invasion of Iraq had no justification whatsoever, nor did the bombing of Libya or the still ongoing occupation of Syria. But it's so much worse than mere hypocrisy. Not only is it none of our business how the descendents of the Soviet Union arrange their national boundaries but we created the crisis in the first place. The Russian-speaking people of Crimea and the Donbas showed no inclination to secede prior to US-backed subversion of Ukraine. 

To put an end to the proxy war against Russia, we must stop fueling it with ever more destructive arms. Europeans belatedly realizing the US concocted this thing out of thin air – imposing the first ground war onto the continent since 1945 – have started demonstrating against the continued flow of weaponry into the war zone. By and large, however, the Western public has acquiesced to the propaganda, buying into the idea that Putin is just inexplicably evil. We could turn that around and claim that the neocons running Biden's foreign policy are evil, but that's too easy. For any genuine understanding we must turn to psychology.

Every one of us is born a narcissist. We come into this life with a sense of omnipotence. If your needs aren't meant, you just let out a cry and your obedient servant comes running. But the infantile paradise, as Barbara Dowds explains in her superb book, Beyond the Frustrated Self, eventually fractures. Right around your first birthday you realize Mom is her own person. Not just an extension of your will, she's separate from you and has her own life. Most of us make the transition from omnipotent to healthy narcissism just fine. But some people never quite let go. For them narcissism isn't just a trait shared by all humans but their defining feature. Rather than face the pain of separation from Mother, the narcissist clings to the illusion of omnipotence and continues to regard the Other as an object, not a person in her own right. In the end everyone is an object to be manipulated rather than an equal to be respected. 

Key to the psychology of the narcissist is the "splitting defense." Though we all have a dark side consisting of negative emotions and violent wishes, the narcissist projects all that onto the Other. Where conflict occurs it's always the other guy's fault. How could you be bad when the definition of good is you? That's clinical narcissism in a nutshell. 

The individual pathology spills easily into collective narcissism by way of group identification. Because the narcissist is essentially a baby, he has a hollow core and compensates for his weak ego by identifying with a powerful group. No group on earth is more powerful than the United States. For the narcissist, being American is like a drug. Neocons are narcissists high on power, both the power of the nation as a whole and whatever personal power they manage to acquire within the federal bureaucracy or corporate media. Power corrupts not just individuals but the nation whose government is overrun by soulless power worshippers. It's for this reason that the US, in terms of how it relates to other countries, fits the diagnostic criteria of narcissistic personality disorder. 

Grandiose and preoccupied by fantasies of unlimited success and power, Uncle Sam considers himself "special," someone who should only associate with other high-status countries. He's the "exception" who thinks rules of conduct apply only to others. With his sense of entitlement he expects automatic compliance with his every command. He routinely takes advantage of others to achieve his ends. Unwilling to empathize he casually tosses aside those he exploits when they no longer serve his needs. Though he thinks he's better than those around him, in a state of perpetual insecurity he still craves their admiration. 

A diagnosis of clinical narcissism implies that the malignancy is ingrained and enduring. Indeed, looking back 70 years we find exactly the same pathology at work in the Korean War. According to every mainstream source, the war began June 25th, 1950 when the Soviet-backed army of the north invaded the south. This myth was exploded by Bruce Cumings, who chaired the history department at the University of Chicago when he published a two-volume history of the Korean War. Cumings places responsibility for the war squarely on the US occupation army in the south, which backed US-educated Syngman Rhee as leader in opposition to a grassroots democratic movement. Only after Rhee had launched numerous raids on the north that killed thousands did the north finally respond with a decisive invasion so as to reunify the country. What began as a proxy war against Soviet Russia became a war with China that left upwards of four million dead. The division of Korea remains in place to this day, along with the lie that the US was totally innocent and wanted only to protect democracy and freedom.

The same exact lie was employed the following decade in Vietnam when the US claimed to be intervening in a civil war it had in fact created by propping up a dictator in the south and refusing to abide by the 1954 Geneva Accords, which called for unified national elections. The US rejected the Accords because the winner of Vietnamese elections, it was widely believed, would surely have been Ho Chi Minh. By contrast, Putin, who actually is intervening in a civil war, is blasted as an imperialist aggressor foiling Washington's noble designs. 

So innately good and pure is America that we can't comprehend how Russia would feel threatened by US missiles stationed within a stone's throw of its border. Don't they know our warheads have halos? Why would Ukrainians in the south and east want to secede from their country just as it's undergoing westernization? Don't they want a piece of the American Dream? How could democracy-lovers like us possibly be implicated in the rise of neo-Nazism? There's only one possible answer: it's all lies! The Russkies are up to their tricks again! 

The real shocker for the Biden administration has been the refusal around the world to accept the American spin on the war. Except for English-speaking countries, the EU, Japan and South Korea, virtually no country has agreed to abide by anti-Russia economic sanctions, which have done little to weaken Russia while inflicting substantial damage on Germany and other European countries dependent on Russian gas. Under their own narcissistic spell, the neocons couldn't imagine that most people in the Global South would recognize the US role in fomenting the conflict and might even empathize with Putin given the bind the West imposed onto him. 

Empathize with Vlad? They must be crazy!

To avoid escalating this to Armageddon we must put ourselves in Putin's shoes. Whereas the West is fighting for abstractions like sovereignty and democracy, neither of which have applied to Ukraine since 2014, Russians are fighting for their survival as an independent people beyond the reach of the great global bully. They know all too well – and Putin's enduring popularity reflects this – that the US would like nothing more than to encircle Russia with military bases and erect an anti-missile system that nullifies its nuclear ace in the hole. Remember when George W Bush unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty? Russians sure as hell do, and they're well aware of ABM systems recently installed in Romania and Poland. Though Putin is condemned by the self-righteous Washington elite for nuclear blackmail over Ukraine, in reality he's just giving us the facts. If we go too far in this proxy war and threaten the integrity of Russia, which absolutely includes Crimea, he just might push the button. Provoking war with a country that has 6000 nuclear bombs is so stupid there's no way of comprehending it outside the model of mental illness. 

We have a lot to be proud of in this country. The West in general has a right to be proud. We birthed the modern world. We developed the advanced technologies that are enabling people everywhere to step out from the shadows of endless toil and insecurity. But a little healthy narcissism can turn malignant. As a result we are now at a crossroads. To avoid undoing all our achievements, we must renounce the great con, the neocon, accept our frailties as a nation and reach out with humility to the Other in recognition of our common humanity. 

Peace to all.

* * *

* * *

THE SUPERYACHTS OF BILLIONAIRES Are Starting to Look a Lot Like Theft

by Joe Fassler

If you’re a billionaire with a palatial boat, there’s only one thing to do in mid-May: Chart your course for Istanbul and join your fellow elites for an Oscars-style ceremony honoring the builders, designers and owners of the world’s most luxurious vessels, many of them over 200 feet long.

The nominations for the World Superyacht Awards were all delivered in 2022, and the largest contenders are essentially floating sea mansions, complete with amenities like glass elevators, glass-sided pools, Turkish baths and all-teak decks. The 223-foot Nebula, owned by the WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, comes with an air-conditioned helicopter hangar.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but the ceremony in Istanbul is disgraceful. Owning or operating a superyacht is probably the most harmful thing an individual can do to the climate. If we’re serious about avoiding climate chaos, we need to tax, or at the very least shame, these resource-hoarding behemoths out of existence. In fact, taking on the carbon aristocracy, and their most emissions-intensive modes of travel and leisure, may be the best chance we have to boost our collective “climate morale” and increase our appetite for personal sacrifice — from individual behavior changes to sweeping policy mandates.

On an individual basis, the superrich pollute far more than the rest of us, and travel is one of the biggest parts of that footprint. Take, for instance, Rising Sun, the 454-foot, 82-room megaship owned by the DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen. According to a 2021 analysis in the journal Sustainability, the diesel fuel powering Mr. Geffen’s boating habit spews an estimated 16,320 tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent gases into the atmosphere annually, almost 800 times what the average American generates in a year.

And that’s just a single ship. Worldwide, more than 5,500 private vessels clock in about 100 feet or longer, the size at which a yacht becomes a superyacht. This fleet pollutes as much as entire nations: The 300 biggest boats alone emit 315,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, based on their likely usage — about as much as Burundi’s more than 10 million inhabitants. Indeed, a 200-foot vessel burns 132 gallons of diesel fuel an hour standing still, and can guzzle 2,200 gallons just to travel 100 nautical miles.

Then there are the private jets, which make up a much higher overall contribution to climate change. Private aviation added 37 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2016, which rivals the annual emissions of Hong Kong or Ireland. (Private plane use has surged since then, so today’s number is likely higher.)

You’re probably thinking: But isn’t that a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of coal plants around the world spewing carbon? It’s a common sentiment; last year, Christophe Béchu, France’s minister of the environment, dismissed calls to regulate yachts and chartered flights as “le buzz” — flashy, populist solutions that get people amped up but ultimately only fiddle at the margins of climate change.

But this misses a much more important point. Research in economics and psychology suggests humans are willing to behave altruistically — but only when they believe everyone is being asked to contribute. People “stop cooperating when they see that some are not doing their part,” as the cognitive scientists Nicolas Baumard and Coralie Chevallier wrote last year in Le Monde.

In that sense, superpolluting yachts and jets don’t just worsen climate change, they lessen the chance that we will work together to fix it. Why bother, when the luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault is cruising around on the Symphony, a $150 million, 333-foot superyacht?

“If some people are allowed to emit 10 times as much carbon for their comfort,” Mr. Baumard and Ms. Chevallier asked, “then why restrict your meat consumption, turn down your thermostat or limit your purchases of new products?”

Whether we’re talking about voluntary changes (insulating our attics and taking public transit) or mandated ones (tolerating a wind farm on the horizon or saying goodbye to a lush lawn), the climate fight hinges to some extent on our willingness to participate. When the ultrarich are given a free pass, we lose faith in the value of that sacrifice.

Taxes aimed at superyachts and private jets would take some of the sting out of these conversations, helping to improve everybody’s climate morale,” a term coined by Georgetown Law professor Brian Galle. But making these overgrown toys a bit more costly isn’t likely to change the behavior of the billionaires who buy them. Instead, we can impose new social costs through good, old-fashioned shaming.

Last June, @CelebJets — a Twitter account that tracked the flights of well-known figures using public data, then calculated their carbon emissions for all to see — revealed that the influencer Kylie Jenner took a 17-minute flight between two regional airports in California. “kylie jenner is out here taking 3 minute flights with her private jet, but I’m the one who has to use paper straws,” one Twitter user wrote.

As media outlets around the world covered the backlash, other celebrities like Drake and Taylor Swift scrambled to defend their heavy reliance on private plane travel. (Twitter suspended the @CelebJets account in December after Elon Musk, a frequent target of jet-tracking accounts, acquired the platform.)

There’s a lesson here: Massively disproportionate per capita emissions get people angry. And they should. When billionaires squander our shared supply of resources on ridiculous boats or cushy chartered flights, it shortens the span of time available for the rest of us before the effects of warming become truly devastating. In this light, superyachts and private planes start to look less like extravagance and more like theft.

Change can happen — and quickly. French officials are exploring curbing private plane travel. And just last week — after sustained pressure from activists — Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam announced it would ban private jets as a climate-saving measure.

Even in the United States, carbon shaming can have outsized impact. Richard Aboulafia, who’s been an aviation industry consultant and analyst for 35 years, says that cleaner, greener aviation, from all-electric city hoppers to a new class of sustainable fuels, is already on the horizon for short flights. Private aviation’s high-net-worth customers just need more incentive to adopt these new technologies. Ultimately, he says, it’s only our vigilance and pressure that will speed these changes along.

There’s a similar opportunity with superyachts. Just look at Koru, Jeff Bezos’s newly built 416-foot megaship, a three-masted schooner that can reportedly cross the Atlantic on wind power alone. It’s a start.

Even small victories challenge the standard narrative around climate change. We can say no to the idea of limitless plunder, of unjustifiable overconsumption. We can say no to the billionaires’ toys.


* * *


  1. Rick Swanson April 10, 2023

    Bruce- Thanks for printing RFK jrs’ quote

  2. Brian Wood April 10, 2023

    So sorry to hear about Ann Carr. Last time I saw her at the post office counter she was full of life as ever. She’ll be missed.

  3. Bill Harper April 10, 2023

    Re Round valley Poster

    Crying woman smeared in blood with bloody hands.

    No Violence?

  4. Bill Harper April 10, 2023

    Re Goldfinch

    American Goldfinch

    ‘Willow’ a new one to most birders.


  5. chuck dunbar April 10, 2023

    Good, reasonable and sensitive piece by the late Anthony Bourdain. Thanks, AVA.

  6. Marmon April 10, 2023


    BREAKING: Louisville Shooter identified as 23 year old Connor Sturgeon, identified as a ‘He/Him’.

    The woke mind virus is destroying America.


    • chuck dunbar April 10, 2023

      THE PROPHET speaks to us–

    • Marmon April 10, 2023

      This kid was live streaming all this on Instagram up until he was shot.


  7. Chris Philbrick April 10, 2023

    TWK…next time you’re bar hopping in Ukiah, I suggest you stop in at the Sports Attic II on Perkins street near the railroad tracks. I think you’ll be impressed!

  8. jennifer smallwood April 10, 2023

    Regarding the article: ” Laytonville Emergency Shelter Update”. Point Arena also found itself islanded/on our own during the last big storms. Because of that experience, we have also started the process of coalescing community groups to be better prepared for the next emergency – fire, smoke, power outage, weather events, etc. So far committed to meeting at the Point Arena School district Office (the high school gymnasium is our evacuation center) on May 4th is the superintendent of schools, high school maintenance staff, Fire Safe Point Arena and the Red Cross. Also invited is the Redwood Coast Fire dept., the city manager and mayor of Point Arena, and Mendonoma Health Alliance. If the CalFire station is staffed by then, we’ll invite them too. I believe the list will get longer as we make progress with a plan to supply the center, set up communications and recruit volunteers to run the center. It’s good to know we’re in the good company of the folks in Laytonville. Good luck up there. Keep posting. You have great ideas. Thank you.

    • Jim Shields April 10, 2023

      Hi Jennifer,
      You’re definitely on the right track the way you’re getting yourselves organized. The late February North County snowstorm/Highway 101 closure was just the last in a series of last straws where county officials exacerbated problems instead of either:
      1) Staying out of the way and allowing locals to solve the problem; or
      2) Actually doing their jobs by assisting locals to solve the problem.
      I’ve always believed that problems just don’t happen, people make them happen, which is far too often the M.O. here in Mendocino County.
      Feel free to contact my daughter Jayma (best option for most information) at or me at
      We’d be more than happy to help in any way we can.
      Jim Shields

  9. Sarah Kennedy Owen April 10, 2023

    Speaking of FBI, another debacle happened right here in Northern California, Santa Rosa to be exact. In 1969, a criminal by the name of Joseph Barboza entered witness protection (was actually, at that time, the first person to be enrolled in that program) and was placed in Santa Rosa. The debacle was that, as an FBI informant, he was actually being protected from prosecution for murder in Boston (Boston again!) while four innocent men (“likely suspects”) rotted in jail for this crime (at their trial, Barboza lied on the stand about their involvement while he himself was the actual murderer).
    While in Santa Rosa he committed another crime, also involving murder, but got off with a short sentence (paroled in 4 years) thanks to a Boston judge (and former Assistant U.S. Attorney 1965 – 1969) who made a personal appearance at Barboza’s California trial to give him a glowing reference! All of this happened between the mid-60’s and the mid-70’s when James Whitey Bulger was just recovering from his stint in prison and rising in the crime world. The U.S. government was ordered to pay 100 million dollars to the four men (or their families, two of the men died in prison, after 30 years) for the injustice they endured. True story, and a tiresome example of FBI corruption.
    However, I do not believe Trump would lift a finger to solve these FBI corruption problems, just as he never lifted a finger to do much of anything besides provide for himself politically while in office.
    How many people died because of his inaction/bad advice involving Covid? Clean hands? Hardly.

  10. Ignorant and needs informing April 10, 2023

    Dear AVA,
    The Ted Dace article put into words what I have been trying to verbalize from the beginning of the conflict/invasion. Thank you very much for sharing
    My first question was: Should I trust the government about what they say while the government often has difficulty telling the truth. Also, the government, has a consistent history of lying about 1 or 500,000 deaths in far flung areas where war has not been declared? We have not been at war in the past 22 years. Still, we are always at war.

    I knew there was a fly in the ointment as soon as the Iraq invasion occurred and followed the 2014 Ukraine quagmire closely…which may have led to this situation.
    I appreciate the way Ted Dace interpreted this geopolitical sh*tshow.
    Politics is simply grown adults acting like children yelling and screaming and expecting the world to bend a knee or care why they are ruining society. It’s way past time for the .gov to be accountable- starting here with Mendocino.

    Also, if anyone has a count on corpses for this conflict, I’d really like to know how many $ per dead Ukrainian we are funding. It seems like 100 billion divided by 100,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers is about $1millon per corpse. How much blood and money has been spent? Some say $184 billion. How many Ukrainian bodies do we need to throw at this to win this non, proxy war? Wtf is wrong with this world? And who is driving this bus?
    -don’t know, but want to find out

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