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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Northerlies | Pelicans | AVUSD News | Willits Arts | SOD Blitz | Boomers Property | County Employees | Point Arena | Ed Notes | Westport Fog | New Pediatrician | Yesterday's Catch | Navarro 1949 | CA Budget | Median Poppies | Warriors GM | Cursive | Trashing Florida | Cartwheel | Ernie Kovacs | Twits | Cut 20% | Love Bus | War Invisible | Your Move | Ukraine | Found Cheeseburger

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ROBUST AND GUSTY NORTHERLY WINDS are forecast to wipe out coastal low cloud cover today. A moderately deep marine layer and prevailing northerlies will ensure nightly low cloud intrusion into the river valleys with below average daytime temperatures for the rest of the week. Above normal temperatures are expected for the weekend and early next week, but there is a slight risk of afternoon thunderstorms over the interior mountains Sunday through Tuesday. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): Clear skies (no really) & 48F on the coast this Humpday morning. Moderately breezy into the weekend with slightly warmer temps can be expected. The NWS mentions a chance of rain next Tuesday, hmmm?

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Brown Pelicans, Casper Headlands (Jeff Goll)

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Dear Anderson Valley Community,

I met with Chris Howard today and was delighted to hear that we have 18 students signed up for our Tuesday dual enrollment classes next Fall at Mendocino College. So, you may say, why do I care?

Here is the why. For every kid that we enroll in high school for a college class, it saves them $270 a unit for a four year university (maybe more if it isn’t a state university). Plus, we’re expanding their knowledge to all they can become.

My goal, and it is huge, in six years, we start graduating kids from avhs with a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree at the same time. Is that ambitious? Yes? Is it doable, yes, but kids need to get pushed.

I have to be a little honest folks. I have not yet experienced a parent community that excuses absences, and tardies and drug use like Anderson Valley. If you want your kids to be competitive in today’s world, you need to be prepared for your kids to compete with Calaveras, Sacramento, Natomas, Wheatland, and other district kids. What we are doing isn’t working. I’m here, I will lead you. But what we excuse and allow is not allowing your kids to be competitive. Let’s fix it.

Expect more. Demand more. They can do it and in ten years times they will thank you for it.

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Celebration Of Art, Music, And Learning!

Wednesday, May 31 3:30-5:00 P.M.

High School Gym, Shop, And Cafeteria

All Are Welcome! No Charge!

Free horchata and jamaica drinks provided.

Celebrating all our students have become!

Join us!

— Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District, 707 684-1017

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Community Invited to Track Oak-Killing Pathogen at Usal Redwood Forest

The Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) invites community members to participate in UC Berkeley’s “Sudden Oak Death Blitz” at Usal Redwood Forest on Sunday, June 11, from 10am-2pm. Sudden Oak Death (SOD), or Phytophthora ramorum, is a fungus-like pathogen that is threatening the survival of Tanoak and several oak species in California. UC Berkeley documents the presence and spread of the devastating disease throughout California, hosting annual “Blitzes” in communities around the state to collect samples for testing in their Forest and Mycology Lab.

Blitz participants will learn to identify evidence of Sudden Oak Death (SOD), and work with RFFI staff to collect affected leaves from Tanoak and California Bay Laurel trees at the Usal Redwood Forest. Attendees should bring a sack lunch, sturdy hiking boots, and a water bottle. Water and snacks will be provided, and there no previous experience is required.

A mature Tanoak tree in the Usal Creek Watershed, Usal Redwood Forest. (photo by Alicia Bales)

RFFI owns and manages the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest as a Community Forest, for the benefit of the local ecology and people. The URF is located in Northern Mendocino County, east of the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, and accessed by the WRP Road at Mile Marker 100.2 on Hwy 1, approximately 5 miles west of Leggett. On the day of the Blitz, a carpool from the coast will meet at 8:45am at the RFFI Office at 90 W. Redwood Avenue in Fort Bragg. Inland folks will gather at the Leggett Fire Department at 67001 CA-271 in Leggett at 9:30am. Participants can also meet directly at the WRP Road gate at 10am.

RFFI will offer a free webinar on SOD and the Blitz on Wednesday, June 7th at 4pm, hosted by Forest Technician Cristina Winters. The webinar is an opportunity to learn about SOD symptoms, spread, and practical solutions, in preparation for the Blitz on June 11. Local landowners who want to participate in the Blitz on their own property can attend the webinar to learn how to identify SOD and gather specimens for testing.

The SOD Blitz on June 11 is an opportunity for community members to explore URF and become citizen scientists, tracking SOD to help researchers stop the spread of this devastating pathogen. To register, please email RFFI Program Director Alicia Bales at or call 707-813-1704.

For More information about the Sudden Oak Death Blitz program, check out this link from UC Berkeley:

Alicia Bales, RFFI Program Director or 707-813-1704

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It is with great pride that we announce The Cahto Tribe as the new owners of 45020 N. Highway 101 Property; better known as Boomers Property! It includes a 2 story multi-use commercial building and a 16-stall Electric vehicle charging station. 

We do not own the Boomers Bar or other businesses within but look forward to maintaining the good working relationship with the tenants of the building. 

When one door closes another one opens. Looking forward to what the future holds!

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SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: “I post so many things you might miss something! Just wanted to say that I appreciate all the work our County employees do, when I welcome new hires I always let them know that I couldn’t do the work without them and it’s so true. All the policy work in the world doesn’t matter without the people that implement it. The pay is not great at the County but the work is important and that’s why our employees stay. We have great benefits; retirement, health insurance, wellness and leadership opportunities stay tuned to learn how to use these to your advantage to improve your work/life balance.”

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MARSHALL NEWMAN: Interesting Mendocino photograph from the 1870s — a stereo view by Soule, the Point Arena lighthouse.

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JENNIFER CLARK: Hello folks. I am a Mendocino College professor teaching creative writing at Anderson Valley High School this semester. I live in Fort Bragg, and commute to AVHS four times a week so the high school students there have the opportunity to take a college-level class without having to drive to Ukiah. Many of my students will be graduating in just over a week, and I will be attending graduation on June 8, and am planning to stay over at The Madrones for the night. I want to enjoy Wickson for dinner, along with a couple of glasses of wine, but I don't want to drink and drive to the graduation ceremony at AVHS. I do NOT want to set a bad example for my students, so my drink/drive policy is zero tolerance. I would love to hire someone to drive me from The Madrones at 6:30 pm to the grad ceremony, which starts at 7pm. It is literally a five minute drive. Any takers? I will pay a fair rate. Also, any suggestions on how to navigate this are much appreciated.

ED NOTE: No insult intended, professor, but it seems to me that most young people need instruction in how to first compose a simple declarative sentence, then maybe a dozen or so of them making a literate whole, before they take up “creative writing.” This graduation season, as many before, most of the graduates read at a primary school level and are unable to compose a coherent paragraph.

TALL PEOPLE, TOO: A new bill signed last Friday makes it illegal for employers and landlords to discriminate against someone based on their weight or height when it comes to hiring them or securing housing.

A MAN shot to death in Oakland last week became two men in the SF Chronicle, but a sentence later, still dead, returned to the singular: “Paramedics transported the victim to a nearby hospital, where they were pronounced dead, Armstead said. The victim has not been publicly identified.” 

LAST WEEK, Laytonville High School's boy's baseball team defeated the California School for Deaf's nine in Fremont, making Laytonville regional NorCal, division 6, champ. On to state? Maybe.

My office manager's daughter is one of the team's stars, so when I hear something I'll pass it on. (Jim Shields)

ORANGE MAN has a legit beef: Donald Trump claimed Sunday that the FBI offered a former British intelligence officer $1 million to have him framed. The red-hot rhetoric comes after the publication of the Durham report, which found that the FBI improperly rushed into its investigation of allegations of collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. “The FBI offered Christopher Steele One Million Dollars in order to FRAME me,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform Sunday. “Why aren’t all of the so called Special ‘Prosecutors,’ together with their bosses at the DOJ, doing something about this?” Trump’s claim about the offer to Steele—the ex-MI6 spy whose dossier played a key role in the FBI’s collusion investigation—appears to come from testimony made by a senior FBI analyst last October. FBI supervisory analyst Brian Auten said the FBI offered Steele “up to $1 million” if he could prove his allegations about Trump and Russia featured in Steele’s notorious dossier, but the money was never paid because Steele couldn’t “prove the allegations,” CNN reports. “The people of our once great Country won’t stand for it,” Trump said. “How much more can they take, as the USA goes to HELL? MAGA!”


Yes, it’s the first Thursday of the month (June 1st) and that means we shall be presenting the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn. First question is posed around 7pm and with free entry, incredible prizes, plus dinner and a full bar available, what more could you wish for? Hope to see you there. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster.

THE 5-0 SUPE'S premature endorsement of Trevor Mockel for 1st District supervisor well prior to the primary election in March of 2024 is another reminder that the Democratic Party calls the political shots on the Northcoast, and obviously is the shot caller for Mendocino County. Even if the Party was in any way progressive, which the Supervisors bi-monthly meetings are evidence it isn't, the way the Party's cold, dead hand of relentless scamming, from the enormous fraud of the Great Redwood Trail, to the failure of the heavily tax-subsidized SMART Train to chug up the tracks to Cloverdale as promised 30 years ago, to Governor Newsom's statement last week that “wealth taxes are going nowhere in California,” only here in Amnesia County could you find so many enthusiastic Democrats. But given the dysfunction of the Supes, their endorsement of Mockel will hopefully doom his candidacy.

THERE ARE MORE than 2,000 (count 'em) concealed weapons permits in effect in Mendocino County. In San Francisco, there are maybe a dozen. The point? Where is the menace more menacing, Frisco or Mendocino County? 

THAT MEME going around advises, “Live so that if your life were turned into a book Florida would ban it.” Banned for the past forty years from the precious confines of Mendocino's Corners of the Mouth, I don't need to go to Florida to get banned. 

REPUBLICANS are moving forward with contempt charges against FBI Director Chris Wray after he failed to hand over an internal document that they claim shows President Joe Biden was involved in a $5 million “criminal” scheme with a foreign national. Tuesday marked the deadline for the agency to turn over an internal unclassified FD-1023 form that apparently details an “arrangement” for an exchange of money for policy decisions. The Republicans issued a subpoena for the document last month. “Today, the FBI informed the Committee that it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed by the Committee,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said Tuesday.

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Fog over Westport hills (Jeff Goll)

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MCHC Health Centers is pleased to welcome Liz Osborne, a family nurse practitioner specializing in pediatric care. She will see patients primarily at the Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport, providing newborns, toddlers, school-aged children, and teens with everything from routine physicals and vaccinations to treatment for acute and chronic health problems.

Osborne, who lives in Lakeport, said she is ecstatic to be working for a local healthcare provider that shares her values.

“I’m proud to be part of an organization that doesn't just talk the talk, but walks the walk with its intentions and actions,” Osborne said. “I’m excited to join MCHC because the leadership, providers, and employees all care about the health of this community—not just chasing the almighty dollar.”

Osborne is committed to an inclusive approach to care, which means working closely with parents, treating them with respect, and giving them the attention they deserve—regardless of their identity or background.

“I’m especially big on supporting moms,” Osborne said. She says some people have a very specific picture of what a good mom looks like, but she does not. Her definition of a good mom is one who wants to do what is best for their child. Period.

MCHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Swain noted that Osborne’s clinical experience and her welcoming approach allow her to take great care of her patients and their families.

“Liz’s ability to see past things that sometimes distract others is part of what makes her such a solid provider. She knows what really matters, and that’s taking care of children,” Dr. Swain said.

After years of working with adult cardiology patients and other acutely ill adults as a registered nurse at Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, Osborne was ready for a change. She enrolled in Sonoma State University and earned her Master’s Degree to become a nurse practitioner in 2014. After graduating, she worked as a pediatric provider as part of the medical group with Dr. Kirsten Juliet and Dr. Anne Martin-Ko, who are both currently providers at MCHC. Osborne learned pediatrics under their guidance and that of Dr. Paul MacDonald, reigniting her passion for healthcare.

“I had previously spent a lot of time helping older folks toward the end of their lives,” Osborne said. “Once I got my master’s degree, became a family nurse practitioner, and started working with kids, I knew I’d be doing that for the rest of my career.”

Osborne also worked at Adventist Health and, most recently, Napa Valley Pediatrics. When Dr. Juliet and Dr. Martin-Ko told Osborne about an open position on the pediatrics team at MCHC, she could not pass up the opportunity to join her former colleagues.

“I wasn’t looking for a new job, but MCHC turned out to be the perfect fit,” Osborne said. “I get to work in the same community where I live, helping my people—which are kids! I have a feeling I’m really going to love this job.”

Osborne also shares MCHC’s philosophy of integrated healthcare, where a team of providers collaborate to give patients timely access to holistic services across several specialties.

“I believe in caring for the whole person,” Osborne said, “MCHC offers all the services I need to help kids grow into happy and healthy adults, like dental health and behavioral health, which can be almost impossible to find in some rural communities”

In that spirit, Osborne recently enrolled in a psychology fellowship at the University of California at Irvine, with plans to begin in 2024. She wants to be able to provide more support to kids struggling with mental health problems.

“There’s been a huge explosion of anxiety and depression among teens due to social media and COVID restrictions,” Osborne said. “Not to mention generational trauma and adverse childhood events. If you recognize these things early, you change the trajectory of a child's life.”

Osborne is a single mother of two grown daughters who live nearby in Willits and Lakeport. Both have daughters of their own. When she’s not enjoying time with her family, Osborne likes to garden, cook, and travel. She recently spent time in Italy taking cooking classes in various cities. Osborne also enjoys remodeling homes and owns three rental properties that are a favorite of medical providers traveling to the area.

“I guess you could say caretaking is in my bones,” Osborne said.

In addition to her Master’s Degree from Sonoma State University, Osborne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from California State University-Dominguez Hills.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Berry, Delcampo, Deshiell

KENNETH BERRY, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

CESAR DELCAMPO, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

HANNAH DESHIELL, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Dewitt, Goforth, Gruber

KENNETH DEWITT JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance without prescription, no license, parole violation.

WILLIAM GOFORTH, Willits. Burglary, grand theft.

JULIUS GRUBER, Willits. Burglary, grand theft from building, controlled substance.

Kummer, Lawson, Maple, Moon

KATE KUMMER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, false ID.

LAWRENCE LAWSON, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, county parole violation.

RONALD MAPLE, Covelo. Narcotics for sale, stolen property, paraphernalia. 

JAMISON MOON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Nelson, Plascencia, Vasquez, Warner

AMBER NELSON, Lucerne/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

MIGUEL PLASCENCIA-BARAJAS, Ukiah. Burglary, false imprisonment. 

ADAM VASQUEZ, Hopland. Vandalism, resisting, probation revocation.

MALISSA WARNER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, county parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

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Navarro Store (Wendling), June 1949

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by Dan Walters

A little more than two weeks remain before the June 15 constitutional deadline for enacting a 2023-24 state budget.

It’s as certain as anything in politics can be that the Legislature will pass something it calls a budget. If lawmakers missed the deadline, they could lose their paychecks.

It’s equally certain that whatever they enact will not be the final plan for the 2023-24 fiscal year that begins July 1. Due to declines in revenue, the state faces not only a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the forthcoming year but the likelihood of continuing gaps for several years thereafter.

There is, moreover, neither consensus on the scope of the deficit nor agreement on how the governor and legislators respond. Meanwhile, those in the Capitol are besieged by pleas by those with stakes in the budget to protect their projects and programs and demands for even greater allocations.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced his first version of the budget in January, he said the state had a $22.5 billion deficit, and then increased the shortfall by another $9 billion in the revised budget proposal this month.

Immediately, however, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Gabe Petek, told his bosses that it’s really $34.5 billion and, more ominously, declared that the state faces continuing deficits averaging $18 billion for several more years.

It is, in the parlance of fiscal mavens, a “structural deficit,” meaning it’s baked into the state’s finances regardless of underlying economic conditions. All of the competing versions of the state’s fiscal situation also assume that California does not experience a recession in the near future.

Were a recession to strike, the deficits could grow by tens of billions of dollars because California’s revenue system is dangerously dependent on taxing the incomes of the state’s wealthiest residents, as Newsom’s budget acknowledges.

“California’s progressive tax system, where nearly half of all personal income tax in the state is paid by the top 1% of earners, has contributed to extreme budget volatility over the years,” the May revision says. “Maintaining budget stability requires long-term planning in the face of these revenue fluctuations.”

In light of that statement and Petek’s rather gloomy long-term projections, will Newsom and the Legislature respond responsibly? Or will they take the easy way out, paper over the current deficit with creative bookkeeping and backdoor borrowing, and ignore the structural deficit until it becomes a crisis?

Newsom’s budget is essentially a short-term response, dipping the usual bag of fiscal tricks to produce a budget that would be balanced on paper – assuming his deficit estimate of $31.5 billion is accurate.

Both Senate and the Assembly leaderships have adopted budget frameworks that purport to protect vital services but differ in approach. The Assembly’s version would reshuffle appropriations while the Senate’s would cover the gap by raising corporate income taxes, arguing that a tax hike would merely recapture money large corporations gained from the Trump-era federal tax overhaul.

Although Newsom immediately rejected a corporate tax increase, if the deficit is as wide and chronic as Petek projects, budget stakeholders will intensify their demands for tax increases of some kind.

In recent elections, California voters have rejected proposed increases in property taxes and personal income taxes on the wealthy. Newsom opposed the income tax increase, is now opposing the Senate’s proposed corporate tax, and also has rejected periodic bills to impose a wealth tax.

“A wealth tax is not part of the conversation,” Newsom said of this year’s version. “Wealth taxes are going nowhere in California.”

This year’s budget dance will kick off a political tussle over spending and taxes that will likely continue for the remainder of Newsom’s governorship.


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Poppies, Route 101 (Jeff Goll)

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by Ann Killion

“Well, my wife said we were going to get a drink on the way home,” Myers said.

He certainly deserves one. Probably a double.

On Tuesday, Myers announced that he would be stepping down on June 30, ending his 11-year run as the Golden State Warriors’ general manager. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors dynasty being built without him. And it’s just as hard to envision the team sailing on smoothly into more championships now that he’s (almost) gone.

Myers has been the emotional center of the Warriors organization that won four titles in eight seasons. The connection that everyone else in the organization relied upon. In some way, he was like the team mom — a mom with super great basketball knowledge.

When anyone needed something — a sounding board, a shoulder to lean on, an honest response, a hand held, a calm voice — they turned to Myers. He was trusted. He took care of the people he worked with.

It’s so unusual. General managers are often just the guy pulling the strings behind the scenes, throwing cell phones across his office, second-guessing the coach, striking fear into players.

But Myers became best friends with his head coach, who ended up moving into the same neighborhood.

“Most coaches and GMs don’t like each other,” Myers said. “It’s pretty set up to fail. … Steve — oh, boy, what a once-in-a-lifetime friendship, what a once-in-a-lifetime person.”

Myers was always warned not to get close to the players, because as GM he was the one who would have to cut them, or drive a hard salary bargain.

“I push back on that,” he said. “What’s the point of any job if you don’t like and build relationships with who you go to work with?”

He was all about human relationships. And, like a mom, the only way Myers knew how to do his job was 100%. All in, all the time. And that made it emotionally draining.

If Myers did his job differently, the way most general managers do theirs, he might have been able to stay longer. He could find players, conduct the draft, do contracts and trades, without the full emotional commitment.

But then he wouldn’t have created the legacy he is leaving. He wouldn’t be the most remarkable general manager I’ve dealt with in more than three decades covering Bay Area sports.

“This job requires complete engagement, a complete effort, a thousand percent,” he said. “If you can’t do it, then you shouldn’t do it.”

Myers decided he couldn’t do it anymore. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity; I believe him when he says this isn’t about money, that he isn’t sure what he’ll do next. He wants to be present for his wife, for his three daughters. He wants to take a breath.

“I’ve never really stopped going,” said Myers, who was a relatively unknown agent when Warriors owner Joe Lacob hired him in 2011 as assistant GM. “Maybe it will be good for me to sit still. I don’t know how good I’ll be at it — I’ve actually never done it.”

He’s been a conductor on the Warriors’ high-speed train from league joke to dynasty, flying past life milestones, his daughters’ growth, the shocking death of his brother-in-law, past his late 30s, his mid-40s.

“This is just my stop,” he said. “The train is powerful. This thing is moving. It’s just, I’ve got to get off.”

By getting off, Myers is the first foundational pillar of the dynasty to depart. And you have to wonder whether the Warriors will find the right replacement to shore up their structure. Or whether, without Myers’ unique talent to juggle big personalities, massage massive egos and navigate crises, the entire dynasty will wobble and more pieces will fall away. How will Myers’ departure impact Draymond Green’s future, Klay Thompson’s contract, Stephen Curry’s happiness? These are real questions.

Myers, who also served as Warriors’ president of basketball operations for the past seven seasons, works in a world of huge egos and hurt feelings, yet seemed to have very little ego himself. He was able to manage and balance all the personalities around him, to be available whenever and wherever he was needed.

He was the one sitting with Green during the suspension in the 2016 Finals. He was a big reason Kevin Durant came to the Warriors (Durant called him from Monaco on Tuesday). When Durant tore his Achilles in 2019, Myers was in tears at a news conference. When Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of those Finals, Myers was the one sprinting into the locker room. When Green punched Jordan Poole, Myers was the face of the organization. When Green was suspended during these playoffs, he held another news conference. When Green needed calming down during a game, Myers was the one talking to him from behind the bench. When Andrew Wiggins returned from his unexplained absence, Myers was the one sitting beside him at the podium.

Of all the egos he had to juggle, the toughest might have been the man who signed his checks. Lacob is a wildly successful businessman but surely not the easiest person to work for. When he joined Myers at the podium late in the news conference, his relentless drive and pressure came through quite clearly.

“I’m going to miss talking to Bob five to 20 times a day,” Lacob said. “It’s a constant dialogue.”

Lacob said he plans to work Myers hard for the remaining 31 days of his contract. In his final answer, to a question about the urgency to try to win while Curry, Green and Thompson are in uniform, Lacob made it clear that everyone is replaceable.

“It doesn’t matter if they are here or not here, there’s a lot of pressure,” Lacob said. “Our job is to win championships, period. And I’m going to expect that, this year, next year, three years from now, five years from now. There’s no point in doing this if you’re not trying to win the championship. No point.”

And with that, the general manager who helped the team win four championships exited the room with his wife, Kristen, headed for a cold glass of what comes next.

Sláinte, Bob. Job well done.

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Most of us born in Florida were always taught to worship growth, or tolerate it unquestioningly. Growth meant prosperity, which was defined in terms of swimming pools and waterfront lots and putting one’s kids through college. So when the first frostbitten lemmings arrived with their checkbooks, all the locals raced out and got real-estate licenses; everybody wanted in on the ground floor. Greed was so thick you had to scrape it off your shoes.

The only thing that ever stood between the developers and autocracy was the cursed wilderness. Where there was water, we drained it. Where there were trees, we sawed them down. The scrub we simply burned. The bulldozer was God’s machine, so we fed it. Malignantly, progress gnawed its way inland from both coasts, stampeding nature.

Today the Florida most of you know—and created, in fact—is a suburban tundra purged of all primeval wonder save for the sacred solar orb. For all you care, this could be Scottsdale, Arizona, with beaches.

Let me fill you in on what’s been going on the last few years: the Glades have begun to dry up and die; the fresh water supply is being poisoned with unpotable toxic scum; up near Orlando they actually tried to straighten a bloody river; in Miami the beachfront hotels are pumping raw sewage into the Gulf Stream, statewide there is a murder every seven hours; the panther is nearly extinct; grotesque three-headed nuclear trout are being caught in Biscayne Bay; and Dade County's gone totally Republican. 

— Carl Hiassen

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Woman Doing A One Handed Cartwheel (c.1937/38) by Bohumil Kröhn

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by Matt Solomon

When young Chevy Chase beat out all the comics from The Carol Burnett Show for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy after Saturday Night Live’s first season, he thanked all the usual suspects, namely his fellow Not Ready for Primetime Players and Lorne Michaels for giving him the job. Less expected was a tribute to a comic voice from television’s past. “And I also would like to thank Ernie Kovacs,” Chase said. “I swear.”

But Chase’s shout-out wasn’t all that surprising, according to Josh Mills, author/editor of the upcoming book Ernie in Kovacsland: Writings, Drawings, and Photographs from Television's Original Genius.

(Mills is the son of Edie Adams, Kovacs’ wife and co-star on his many 1950s comedy shows.) After all, Kovacs had a direct influence on the lunatics at National Lampoon, the original writing staff of SNL, Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam and late-night revolutionaries like David Letterman. “You know, the ‘throwing the pencil at the camera,’ all those things are Ernie,” Mills tells me. “He did that in 1954.”

The direct line from the visually inventive Kovacs to the next generation of comedians goes straight to It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, where a tilted camera might cause Shandling to slide out of frame. Beyond playing with the fourth wall and other visual devices, Shandling was inspired by Kovacs’ chill delivery. “Ernie is the most comfortable and casual,” Mills explains. “There’s no pressure if you watch him on his show. If the gag goes wrong, it goes wrong. Who cares? We keep moving on, we make a joke. Gary Shandling was trying to channel that kind of energy.”

In a burst of creative frenzy that lasted a little more than a decade, Kovacs not only created the visual language of television comedy but wrote like a madman as well: newspaper columns, funny articles for men’s magazines, Mad cartoons, poems and novels. Mills inherited the massive Kovacs archives from Edie Adams and Ernie in Kovacsland is the result — a curated volume of hilarious Kovacs’ creations alongside essays about the comedian and his influence.

And while Kovacs was a popular late 1950s/early 1960s phenomenon, he posthumously inspired the late 1960s counterculture. As writer Martin McClellan pointed out in The Seattle Review of Books, “Laugh-In (took some) visual tricks straight out of Ernie Kovacs’ playbook ... fast zooms in on dancing girls, guitar-based twangy upbeat music, prop walls that opened and slid to reveal actors and comics delivering sharp one-liners.”

Kovacs — along with Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Mad magazine and others — fueled Krassner and his fellow Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. Jerry and Abbie revolutionized political activism in the 1960s. The stunts they pulled are infamous. They shut down the New York Stock Exchange by dropping dollar bills onto the floor, which traders fought over, and they turned a march on Washington into a psychedelic happening at the Pentagon in October 1967. When Jerry was federally indicted as part of the Chicago 8 (later the Chicago 7) — for “the whole world is watching” riots that took place during the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, he described that moment as winning “the Academy Award of protest.” Kovacs’ comedy was apolitical, but his style helped inspire a later generation of leaders that led young people against the bogus Vietnam War.

Journalist Jack Newfield, in The New York Times, December 29, 1968, wrote, “Abbie Hoffman is a charming combination of Ernie Kovacs, Artaud and Prince Kropotkin. He is a put-on artist, an acid head (over 70 trips), a mass-media guerrilla...” In Hoffman’s own 1968 tome, Revolution for the Hell of It, he interviewed himself: Can you think of any people in theater that influence you? “W.C. Fields, Ernie Kovacs, Che Guevara, Antonin Artaud, Alfred Hitchcock, Lenny Bruce, the Marx Brothers.”

1960s underground cartoonist Skip Williamson — described by The New York Times in a 2017 obituary as “a rambunctious creator of underground comics that merged his radical politics with his love of scatological humor” (the Times included a Williamson drawing of Jerry Rubin) — was another Kovacs devotee. In a March 2017 ComicMix article, editor/commentator Mike Gold wrote, “Skip’s most revered character was Snappy Sammy Smoot, a hippie take on Ernie Kovacs’ popular character Percy Dovetonsils, only — and incredibly — even more surreal.”

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by Matt Taibbi

I decided a few months ago that with the practical aim of downloading a lifetime of information before my mind goes the way of my hairline and hoop game, I would start writing down what I knew about my life’s work. I don’t mean journalism but writing, which I began learning as a confused teenager who thought it should be no trouble to lock himself in a room and start cranking out improvements on Catch-22and Scoop. 

I’ll write the intro to the project when done. Until then, you’ll see occasional capsules describing tricks and rules I’ve learned. It will be nice to write about something I enjoy, instead of the Alien-like terrors on the daily news feed. Note all writing is idiosyncratic. I don’t think there are universal “rules,” except the one big one: things either work or they don’t. If it works, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. What you’ll be reading are rules that seem to work for me. You might discover the opposite. 

Rule #1: When you think you’re finished, go back and kill 20% of your copy.

Soviet writer Isaac Babel, a fan of what the Dude called “the whole brevity thing,” said a key was using “strong fingers” and “whipcord nerves” to remove parts “you happen to like most, but are needed least.” Babel added writing was “like self-inficted torture” and wondered why he didn’t follow his father into the farm machinery business. You’ll see that sentiment a lot. Most people who actually like writing, overwrite. When you think you’re finished, check the word count. If it’s 1800, target 360 for termination. Your real length is probably 1200, but a 20% kill is a start. Nobody has a 100% smart rate, least of all you. Learn to enjoy it. If loved ones walk in the room during this process, they should see a schizoid gleam in your eye that makes them nervous.

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THE WARS WE DON’T (CARE TO) SEE: Aggression Made Easy

by David Barsamian & Norman Solomon

(The following is excerpted and adapted from David Barsamian’s recent interview with Norman Solomon at

David Barsamian: American Justice Robert Jackson was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials. He made an opening statement to the Tribunal on November 21, 1945, because there was some concern at the time that it would be an example of victor’s justice. He said this: “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down the rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Norman Solomon: It goes to the point that, unless we have a single standard of human rights, a single standard of international conduct and war, we end up with an Orwellian exercise at which government leaders are always quite adept but one that’s still intellectually, morally, and spiritually corrupt. Here we are, so long after the Nuremberg trials, and the supreme crime of aggression, the launching of a war, is not only widespread but has been sanitized, even glorified. We’ve had this experience in one decade after another in which the United States has attacked a country in violation of international law, committing (according to the Nuremberg Tribunal) “the supreme international crime,” and yet not only has there been a lack of remorse, but such acts have continued to be glorified.

The very first quote in my book War Made Invisible is from Aldous Huxley who, 10 years before the Nuremberg trials, said, “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” Here we are in 2023 and it’s still a challenge to analyze, illuminate, and push back against that essential purpose of propagandists around the world and especially in our own country where, in an ostensible democracy, we should have the most capacity to change policy.

Right now, we’re in a situation where, unfortunately, across a lot of the political spectrum, including some of the left, folks think that you have to choose between aligning yourself with U.S. foreign policy and its acts of aggression or Russian foreign policy and its acts of aggression. Personally, I think it’s both appropriate and necessary to condemn war on Ukraine, and Washington’s hypocrisy doesn’t in any way let Russia off the hook. By the same token, Russia’s aggression shouldn’t let the United States off the hook for the tremendous carnage we’ve created in this century. I mean, if you add up the numbers, in the last nearly twenty-five years, the country by far the most responsible for slaughtering more people in more lands through wars of aggression is… yes, the United States of America.

Barsamian: What’s your assessment of the war coverage of PBS and NPR? You know, a rarified, polite media where people speak in complete sentences without any shouting. But have they presented dissident voices to challenge the hegemonic assumptions you just cited when it comes to American war policies?

Solomon: The style there is different, of course, but consider it just a long form of the very same propaganda framework. So, you can listen to a 10-minute segment on All Things Considered or a panel discussion on the PBS NewsHour and the style and civility, the length of the sentences, as you say, may be refreshing to the ear, but it also normalizes the same attitudes, the same status-quo assumptions about American foreign policy. I won’t say never, but in my experience, it’s extremely rare for an NPR or PBS journalist to assertively question the underlying prerogatives of the U.S. government to attack other countries, even if it’s said with a more erudite ambiance.

You’ve got NPR and PBS unwilling to challenge, but all too willing to propagate and perpetuate the assumption that, yes, the United States might make mistakes, it might even commit blunders — a popular word for the U.S. invasion of Iraq that resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of deaths. Still, the underlying message is invariably that yes, we can (and should) at times argue over when, whether, and how to attack certain countries with the firepower of the Pentagon, but those decisions do need to be made and the U.S. has the right to do so if that’s the best judgment of the wise people in the upper reaches of policy in Washington.

Barsamian: Jeff Cohen, the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has talked about the guest list on such PBS and NPR programs. There’s a golden Rolodex of what he calls “formers” — former undersecretaries of state, former lieutenant colonels, retired generals, et al. But what about dissident voices like Medea Benjamin, yourself, or Noam Chomsky?

Solomon: Over the years, FAIR has done a number of studies ranging from commercial networks to NPR and the PBS NewsHour, and found that, particularly when issues of war and peace are on the table, it’s extremely rare to have opponents of U.S. military action on the air, sometimes below one percent of the interviewees. And this is considered “objective journalism” and goes hand in hand with a deeper precept, usually unspoken but certainly in play in the real world: that if an American journalist is in favor of our wars, that’s objectivity, but if opposed, that’s bias.

I’m sometimes asked: Why do journalists so often stay in line? They’re not, as in some other countries, going to be hauled off to prison. So, what makes them feel compelled to be as conformist as they are? And a lot of the explanation has to do with mortgages and the like — hey, I want to pay for my children’s college education, I need financial security, so on and so forth.

To my mind, it’s a tremendous irony that we have so many examples of very brave journalists for American media outlets going into war zones, sometimes being wounded, occasionally even losing their lives, and then the ones who get back home, back to the newsrooms, turn out to be afraid of the boss. They don’t want to lose their syndicated columns, their front-page access. This dangerous dynamic regiments the journalism we get.

And keep in mind that, living in the United States, we have, with very few exceptions, no firsthand experience of the wars this country has engaged in and continues to be engaged in. So, we depend on the news media, a dependence that’s very dangerous in a democracy where the precept is that we need the informed consent of the governed, while what we’re getting is their uninformed pseudo-consent. Consider that a formula for the warfare state we have.

Barsamian: At the White House Correspondents’ dinner President Biden said, “Journalism is not a crime. The free press is a pillar, maybe the pillar of a free society.” Great words from the White House.

Solomon: President Biden, like his predecessors in the Oval Office, loves to speak about the glories of the free press and say that journalism is a wonderful aspect of our society — until the journalists do something he and the government he runs really don’t like. A prime example is Julian Assange. He’s a journalist, a publisher, an editor, and he’s sitting in prison in Great Britain being hot-wired for transportation to the United States. I sat through the two-week trial in the federal district of northern Virginia of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling and I can tell you it was a kangaroo court. That’s the court Julian Assange has a ticket to if his extradition continues.

And what’s his so-called crime? It’s journalism. WikiLeaks committed journalism. It exposed the war crimes of the United States in Iraq through documents it released, through the now-notorious video that came to be called “Collateral Murder,” showing the wanton killing of a number of people on the ground in Iraq by a U.S. military helicopter. It provided a compendium of evidence that the United States had systemically engaged in war crimes under the rubric of the so-called War on Terror. So, naturally, the stance of the U.S. government remains: this man Assange is dangerous; he must be imprisoned.

The attitude of the corporate media, Congress, and the White House has traditionally been and continues to be that the U.S. stance in the world can be: do as we say, not as we do. So, the USA is good at pointing fingers at Russia or countries that invade some other nation, but when the U.S. does it, it’s another thing entirely. Such dynamics, while pernicious, especially among a nuclear-armed set of nations, are reflexes people in power have had for a long time.

More than a century ago, William Dean Howells wrote a short story called “Editha.” Keep in mind that this was after the United States had been slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines. In it, a character says, “What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

Now, here we are in 2023 and it’s not that different, except when it comes to the scale of communications, of a media that’s so much more pervasive. If you read the op-ed pages and editorial sections of the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets of the liberal media, you’ll find such doublethink well in place. Vladimir Putin, of course, is a war criminal. Well, I happen to think he is a war criminal. I also happen to think that George W. Bush is a war criminal, and we could go on to all too many other examples of high U.S. government officials where that description applies no less than to Vladimir Putin.

Can you find a single major newspaper that’s been willing to editorialize that George W. Bush — having ordered the invasion of Iraq, costing hundreds of thousands of lives based on a set of lies — was a war criminal? It just ain’t gonna happen. In fact, one of the things I was particularly pleased (in a grim sort of way) to explore in my book was the rehabilitation of that war criminal, providing a paradigm for the presidents who followed him and letting them off the hook, too.

I quote, for instance, President Obama speaking to troops in Afghanistan. You could take one sentence after another from his speeches there and find almost identical ones that President Lyndon Johnson used in speaking to American troops in Vietnam in 1966. They both talked about how U.S. soldiers were so compassionate, cared so much about human life, and were trying to help the suffering people of Vietnam or Afghanistan. That pernicious theme seems to accompany almost any U.S. war: that, with the best of intentions, the U.S. is seeking to help those in other countries. It’s a way of making the victims at the other end of U.S. firepower — to use a word from my book title — invisible.

This is something I was able to do some thinking and writing about in my book. There are two tiers of grief in our media and our politics from Congress to the White House — ours and theirs. Our grief (including that of honorary semi-Americans like the Ukrainians) is focused on those who are killed by official enemy governments of the United States. That’s the real tier of grief and so when the media covers, as it should, the suffering of people in Ukraine thanks to Russia’s war of aggression, their suffering is made as real as can be. And yet, when it’s the U.S. slaughtering people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, that’s something else entirely. When it comes to the people at the other end of U.S. weaponry, the civilians, hundreds of thousands of them directly slaughtered, and millions indirectly killed by U.S. warfare, their tier of grief isn’t, with rare exceptions, on the media map. Those human beings just don’t matter.

Here in the USA, people find this unpleasant to hear or even think about. But our own humanity has been besmirched, damaged, undermined by such silences, which, in many ways, represent the most powerful propaganda of all. We need to break that silence.

Barsamian: The media landscape is radically changing from podcasts to blogs to all kinds of new media. Will that help?

Solomon: Technology’s never going to save us. Robert McChesney, the scholar of media history, has written eloquently about this. Every advance in technology was accompanied by these outsized promises that therefore we will have democracy. That’s going back to the first telegraphs, then radio, then broadcast TV, then cable television. At every step, people were told, hey, this technology means that no longer do we have a top-down relationship to power, we can make the changes happen ourselves. And yet as we’ve seen with all of those technologies, and this includes the Internet, technology never freed anybody.

Barsamian: What’s to be done? What practical steps would you recommend?

Solomon: I believe in organizing as the key element in turning around such dire circumstances, including corporate power, class war waged from the top down, and the militarization of our society and our foreign policy. That means a shift in mindset to see that we’re not consuming history off the shelf like Wonder Bread. As the saying goes, whatever your first major concern may be, your second should be the media. We need to build media organizations and support the ones that are doing progressive work, support them financially, support them in terms of spreading the word and also of learning more about how to — and actually implementing how to — organize both people we know and those we don’t. And I think that’s pretty antithetical to the messages the media regularly sends us, because really, the main messages from, say, television involve urging us to go out and buy things (and maybe vote once in a while). Well, we do need to go out and buy things and we certainly should vote, but the real changes are going to come when we find ways to work together to create political power both inside and outside the electoral arena.

When you look at the corruption of the Federal Communications Commission, for instance, that’s not going to change until different people are in office — and we’re not going to get different people in office until we elect them to overcome the power of Big Money. And there’s also the real history that we need to be reminded of: that everything we have to be proud of in this country was a result of people organizing from the bottom up and generating social movements. That’s truly where our best future lies.

Barsamian: You conclude War Made Invisible with a quote from James Baldwin.

Solomon: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

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Moscow was hit by drones Tuesday morning, in what appeared to be the first attack on residential areas of the Russian capital since the invasion of Ukraine.

It comes weeks after an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin itself and following days of deadly Russian bombardment against civilians in Kyiv, as events far from the front lines take the spotlight ahead of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.

Tuesday's incident caused damage to some buildings in Moscow and forced residents to evacuate homes, officials said, though the Kremlin largely shrugged off the dramatic display that its war was increasingly coming home. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack sought to intimidate the public, and commended the work of the capital’s air defense. 

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that eight unmanned aerial vehicles were involved in the strikes. All drones were destroyed, it added, with three losing control after being jammed and the other five shot down by anti-aircraft systems.

The ministry blamed Ukraine for what it called a “terrorist attack.” 

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview that his country "has nothing directly to do" with the drone attacks on Moscow but was "pleased to observe and predict an increase in the number of attacks."

— NBC News

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  1. Jennifer smallwood May 31, 2023

    Re: The Wars We Don’t Care To See – Thank you. It’s refreshing to read someone naming it.

  2. George Hollister May 31, 2023

    Newsom: “California’s progressive tax system, where nearly half of all personal income tax in the state is paid by the top 1% of earners, has contributed to extreme budget volatility over the years,” the May revision says. “Maintaining budget stability requires long-term planning in the face of these revenue fluctuations.” And “The wealth tax is going nowhere”.

    But the wealthy, and not so wealthy are leaving California. So now what? Is California going to tie people down? Confiscate assets? Adding to California’s problem, according to today’s WSJ, the average cost to build a house in California, not including the cost of the land, is $1.35 million. Of course, good luck getting insurance needed for a bank loan.

  3. jetfuel May 31, 2023

    Drove by the old Ukiah Post Office yesterday and noticed a crew raping the roof off.

    It being copper and the current price of that metal way up, the jankey realtor and even jankier roofing contractor see opportunity.

    Sad, as one more piece of downtown gets pillaged.

  4. Marco McClean May 31, 2023

    Re: singular they. You’re right, Editor. If the use of they for her or him is the way of the future, then /they are dead/ for a single deader should be /they is dead/, as in, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Why should a dog, a rat, a horse have breath and they none at all. And will they come again? No, never. My poor fool, my, um, offspring-person, oh, oh, THEY IS GONE!” It turns Shakespeare into Amos and Andy, but it’s consistent.

  5. Craig Stehr May 31, 2023

    Have returned from a visit to Adventist Health in St. Helena. Met with a surgeon who is going to remove the pacemaker, because it isn’t doing much good (the heart is performing at 20% of its capacity), and she will put in an ICD, which will have much more spark plus function as a fibrillator and shock the heart muscle to resume a normal beat in the case of cardiac arrest. No hurry here. She’ll be away the month of June; will give me a July appointment. Returned to Ukiah and dropped into the Ukiah Brewing Company during happy hour. Quaffed two pints of Orr Springs IPA. A couple that is sometimes there and chats it up with me at the bar, graciously paid for my beers, saying that the wished to contribute to everything going well for me! Next, dropped by Safeway to ensure that food would be had last night at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center. Arrived back at the shelter just in time to take an evening cool shower, eat the Safeway deli food in back at the BBQ outside tables, brush the teeth, and fall asleep. Awoke feeling quite good, and got to Plowshares for the free meal. As often is the case, am at my urban refuge on computer #3 tap, tap tapping away. All things change, and all things remain the same. It is what one identifies with that makes all of the difference. Forever Yours, Craig Louis Stehr

  6. Jim Shields May 31, 2023

    Hey Bruce,
    Got a kick out of your comments on the preciously PC “creative writing professor” slinging her bullshit to AVHS students, the vast majority of whom, most likely, are incapable of crafting a simple declarative sentence where subject and verb agree. How about conjugating a sentence? Get serious, dude. Another ongoing scholastic scam is that our K-12 schools are developing legions of “critical thinkers.” I realized the game was up and all was doomed when the educrats put the teachers out to pasture and replaced them with “educators.” Fortunately, my P.E./History teacher dad and Kindergarten teacher mom are R.I.P.
    And so it goes.

    • Marilyn Davin May 31, 2023

      One other point re the “creative writing” class. Hmmm…in the interest of setting an example for teens, perhaps foregoing the “two glasses of wine” would be a responsible start. Assuming the students will be chemically unimpaired, why show up buzzed?

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