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NORTHERLY WINDS will strengthen today, and will remain gusty into Monday. Daytime temperatures will increase through Monday under a building ridge. A cutoff upper low will moderate temperatures and bring increasing chances of showers and thunderstorms Monday into late next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A brisk 44F with wispy fog this Saturday morning on the coast. A lovely weekend is at hand with a little wind today then less so Sunday. Slight chances of rain remain in the forecast for early next week.
MONTHLY RAINFALL TOTALS for the 2022-23 rain season (Oct-Sep):
Yorkville (65.88" total)
BERRIES AT BOONVILLE BARN COLLECTIVE
Strawberries are back at the Boonville Barn Collective.
I have strawberries for sale by the half or full flat today at 10600 Anderson Valley Way.
If the post is up - I still have berries. Head to the back left of the building. $35 for a full and $20 for a half flat!
Congratulations to the FFA Officers and Members and Beth Swehla for an amazing FFA awards dinner! A yummy baked potato bar with a bountiful array of pot luck treats filled our bellies, followed by a ceremony that filled our hearts as the FFA officers honored their own with a plethora of awards.
A beautiful touch were the graduate signs outside. This event was perfect. Food, fellowship, decor, presentation, honors, and genuine celebration for everyone’s hard work and achievement. So many students wore their FFA uniforms and stood up with pride when saying their organizational pledge.
ELK PREPAREDNESS (Saturday, June 3rd)
The Elk Emergency Preparedness Committee will be hosting another Fire Extinguisher Check & Charge event open to all coastal residents at the Elk/Greenwood Community Center, 6129 S. Highway 1 on Saturday June 3rd from 10am - 2pm. Your extinguishers are only certified for 2 years and there is nobody on the coast doing this service. Phoenix Fire Defense can do recharges ($16-$20 depending upon size), Hydrostatic Testing of certain extinguishers and will have new extinguishers available for sale. Mark your calendars, bring your extinguishers and don’t miss this opportunity to get them checked and serviced before Wildfire Season is upon us.
UKIAH VINEYARD MANAGEMENT COMPANY FINED $66K FOR FAILING TO PAY MIGRANT WORKERS REQUIRED WAGES
(US Department of Labor)
Home to thousands of winemakers who produce 80 percent of the wine in the U.S., California vineyards also yield their share of unscrupulous employers who profit by taking advantage of migrant and seasonal farmworkers as the harvest season approaches.
To combat violations that deny workers their hard-earned wages or jeopardize their safety, the U.S. Department of Labor has stepped up its outreach and enforcement efforts in the Golden State.
Recent investigations of two farm labor contractors, Next Crop Inc. of Los Baños and Noble Vineyards Management Inc. of Ukiah, and grower Pebble Ridge Vineyards & Vine Estates LLC in Paicines by the department’s Wage and Hour Division collectively found employers failed to safely transport agricultural workers to and from the fields, violated numerous requirements of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the H-2A temporary agricultural program and allowed a 14-year-old child to work during school hours illegally.
The investigations led the division to assess more than $231,881 in civil money penalties and to recover $129,081 in back wages for 353 agricultural workers. Specifically, the investigations found the following:
• Next Crop Inc. employed an unlicensed, unauthorized and uninsured driver to transport workers. Investigators learned that while driving under the influence, he had been involved in an earlier accident in which a vehicle rollover injured several farmworkers. The division also found Next Crop illegally employed a 14-year-old to work during school hours, illegally charged workers for transportation costs, did not disclose conditions of employment to workers, and failed to keep employer records or provide wage statements and pay wages when due. The division recovered $36,764 in back wages for 105 employees and assessed the labor contractor $99,067 in penalties. Next Crop provides harvesting crews for grower Pebble Ridge Vineyards.
• Noble Vineyards Management Inc., which provides workers to Sonoma and Mendocino County growers, violated the H-2A temporary agricultural program regulations by failing to pay the contract rate of pay and failing to pay corresponding U.S. workers at least the same rate paid to H-2A workers. The division also found Noble failed to provide tools required to work and did not reimburse H-2A workers’ travel expenses as required. In addition, investigators learned the employer retaliated against H-2A employees who asked about their wages by sending them back to their home countries before the contract’s end. The division recovered $92,317 in back wages owed to 148 workers and assessed the contractor $66,530 in penalties.
• Pebble Ridge Vineyards & Vine Estates LLC violated federal law by using Next Crop’s unlicensed, unauthorized and uninsured driver to transport workers, including the driver involved in the DUI incident. The division assessed the vineyard, which produces and sells grapes used by California’s Kendall Jackson, J. Lohr and Robert Mondavi wineries, $66,282 in penalties.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to protect the rights of people whose labor allows California’s agricultural industry to prosper and provide products consumed throughout the U.S. and around the world,” said Wage and Hour Division Assistant District Director Alberto Raymond in San Francisco. “From making sure workers are paid and treated as the law requires to make sure safe drivers transport them in safe vehicles, we are committed to holding employers accountable.”
In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $5.8 million in back wages for 8,260 workers employed in the agricultural industry. After 879 investigations, the division assessed employers more than $7.9 million in civil money penalties for violations of federal regulations.
“As the harvest season approaches, the Wage and Hour Division is available to offer compliance assistance and answer questions from employers and workers to help them understand the federal laws that govern agricultural industry wage practices and operations,” Raymond added.
The division offers farmworker rights information, compliance assistance resources for employers and an agriculture compliance assistance toolkit to ensure compliance with the law.
Employees and employers can also contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s free Timesheet App – now available in Spanish – on Android and Apple devices.
ALETHEA PATTON: Here is another Peony from my Philo garden. This is the fourth year since planting and the second year for blooming.
DAHLIA PLANTS $10 EACH
Would you like more beauty and color in your life? Treat your soul to lovely flowering plants!
We are a small family flower garden and we overproduced plants this year. We have happy little sprouting Dahlia plants home grown from tubers available in ~1 gallon pots for $10 each. No need to fret about eyes or mail-order tubers, just plant and care for these and be rewarded with beautiful flowers.
Our Farmstand is located on the North side of our barn on the corner of Omar Dr. and Hwy 1 up in Inglenook. Plants will be available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 6/2,3,4 from 9am-7pm
Map Pin <https://goo.gl/maps/S3BiMW8P4bbr6PeN8>
We have 11 beautiful varieties remaining available. Sonic Bloom, Hee Haugh, Foxy Lady, Who Me?, VooDoo, Ivanetti, Orange Snow, Groovy, Njinksy, Chilson’s Pride, and Day Dreamer.
Cash only please, we are not set up for plastic or checks.
IS THERE A PLAN ON THE HORIZON?
To the Editor:
First, a long overdue congrats to the City of Ukiah on the design, implementation, and completion of the downtown ‘Streetscape.’ I think traffic flows quite well now through that corridor. The only drawback might be the challenging right-hand turns. A little more thought might have gone into that design.
Secondly, the City of Ukiah and Ghilotti Company did an admirable job with the resurfacing and reclamation of Dora Street.
It really looks great and traffic flows much, much better and takes some of the north/south flow off of State St. I now see that Clara Street is getting a much-needed ‘facelift’ and that will certainly improve traffic in that neighborhood. Kudos to the City of Ukiah.
Ok, now can we ask what are the City of Ukiah’s plans with Gobbi and Main Streets? They are really in bad shape. The intersection of those two streets around Safeway is deplorable. I shouldn’t be reminded of the ancient cobblestone streets I once drove in Germany and Austria, but I often am. We try to avoid that intersection as much as we possibly can. But sometimes, we forget. If we continue using those streets the local companies that offer front-end alignments will be awfully busy. Is there a plan on the horizon? Thank you.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES EFFECTIVELY IGNORED IN NEXT YEAR’S BUDGET
by Mark Scaramella
The last paragraph of the CEO Darcie Antle’s “Budget Process Overview” for next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting is the only place in the entire presentation where employee pay and benefits are mentioned:
“During the budget workshops, the Board discussed continuing issues around deferred maintenance, American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, carbon reduction, energy use, the jail expansion project, jail staffing upon completion, the health plan, roads, funding for employee compensation, and parks. A holistic approach to the County operations will need to be taken to prepare the County for Fiscal Year 2024-25.”
And that almost grudging reference was near the end of a list of other presumably higher funding priorities, almost as an afterthought. That insult was followed by a non-sensical proposal to apply a “holistic approach” to the “issues.” Whatever that may or may not mean, it certainly does not mean more money for cash-squeezed employees.
CEO Antle’s “process” discussion also says, “Departments were required to provide detailed information related to requests for fixed assets, facility modifications, and additional staffing requests. This initially resulted in requests for funding of approximately $94 million, which was approximately $20 million greater than the discretionary revenue projections.”
In other words, not only are staffing requests last after fixed assets and facilities modifications, but departments are expected to somehow absorb perhaps up to 20% in staffing reductions.
You can be sure that we are not the only ones who noticed these glaring omissions.
As a result, we are starting to hear serious grumbling from some County employees about the Supervisors’ refusal to offer even a token raise for the next year or three, combined with complaints about likely health insurance cost increases (i.e., pay cuts).
Long-term 20%-30% vacancy rates already have employees stretched thin with significant work backlogs in many departments. Yet there are no near-term staffing improvements in the pipeline as more work backs up.
As has been noted many times in the past, hundreds of members of the County’s biggest union, Service Employees International Union, are not paid for out of General Fund dollars and they are mystified as to why they can’t get raises which could be passed through to the funding agencies with no impact on the general fund and more payroll money coming in to the County. In the past, the County and the Union have said that those state and federally funded employees can’t be separated from the General Fund employees for bargaining purposes. You’d think by now somebody would have been able to figure out a way to solve what is basically a personnel problem.
We’ve even heard talk of a strike, although we’ve heard that before.
The County employees also know that the Supervisors are sitting on a large reserve in both the General Fund and the non-General Fund, yet that hasn’t been mentioned in any budgeting discussions or contract negotiations so far.
Neighboring counties, notably Sonoma and Marin, are offering substantially higher pay than Mendo — Mendo management apparently assumes that most employees prefer to live and work in Mendocino County despite the lucrative job openings nearby. But that assumption is being severely tested and the more people leave the more the remaining ones are strained.
A significant number of employees are already working second jobs over and above their current employment as well just to keep up with inflation.
Despite occasional “we support our employees” rhetoric, the Supervisors remain aloof and keep their distance from the problems their own employees are having, letting an expensive San Francisco law firm and their depleted management ranks do the “negotiating,” which so far hasn’t gone anywhere as is obvious from the proposed budget for next year.
The Supervisors are more concerned about the effects of inflation on their budget than on their employees. At this point it’s not clear where this will go. But for starters we expect that there will be a large turnout of very frustrated employees at next Tuesday’s budget hearings.
MEANWHILE, ANOTHER MONEY/ENERGY SAVING TIP from Supervisor Mulheren:
“Every little bit helps. When you will be gone for more than 15 minutes make sure you turn off your lights and unplug unused appliances such as lamps and radios.”
THE BEST LAID PLANS....
The Staff Report(s) and Agenda for the June 15, 2023 Planning Commission meeting is now available on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff if there are any questions, thank you!
James Feenan, Commission Services Supervisor County of Mendocino Department of Planning & Building Services 860 N Bush Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 Main Line: 707-234-6650 Fax: 707-463-5709 email@example.com
THE MANY IMPACTS OF GROCERY OUTLET
This letter concerns the proposed Grocery Outlet (GO) to be located on land currently occupied by the abandoned Social Services Building. You would think from all the glowing praises of those who support this project that the GO is a nonprofit distributing free food. It is not! Rather, it is a grocery store that offers somewhat cheaper food, alcohol, and other household items, many of which are obtained through opportunistic buying.
Proponents also claim that GO will bring money to the City and more jobs. Note that 20% of GO sales are from alcohol, which is taxed (unprepared food is not), so that might mean more income to the City, but might also increase public drinking. The jobs are non-union, despite what the developers say. I personally know someone who worked for GO in Ukiah in 2021 and, while all the positions were full time, the pay was less than the state minimum ($13/hr instead of $15/hr) and there were no medical benefits. This was because of a loophole in the state requirements that full time employees must receive medical benefits since GO is considered a private businesses as long as it has less than 26 employees. GO Corporate takes 50% of profits out of the business, which means there is a disincentive for the local owners, who make all decisions related to personnel, to pay well and provide benefits. It likely isn’t financially feasible. If GO takes business away from other local grocery stores, it will result in loss of better-paying full time jobs with benefits. These kinds of trade-offs must be considered.
Regardless, this application isn’t about popular demand. It is about a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) which, according to CEQA, should examine potential impacts, using quantifiable thresholds, and suggest mitigations for any that are found to be significant, along with possible alternatives. The bottom line is, if this project deserves to be done, it deserves to be done right.
This project has been reviewed multiple times, so the process may seem complete but numerous issues still remain, and most of them are about location, location, location. And, while the draft EIR was circulated for public comment as required by law, the responses to those comments in the final EIR consist mostly of hand waving and redirection to the previous studies, and did not substantially address those concerns. I will bring up a few significant concerns in this letter.
The noise study showed significant impact on the Super 8, with lesser impact on the Seabird Lodge to the north and the Harbor Lite Motel to the south. This was dismissed as not needing mitigation because the Super 8 is visitor serving. There was no indication that any effort was made to contact the owner or to determine if a manager resides onsite who might be impacted by the noise. This motel was recently remodeled with good recent reviews. However, I can imagine visitors will not be happy about being woken up by loud backup beeping of delivery trucks first thing every the morning. [Truck fumes could also have a strong negative impact on the Super 8.] If I were the owner of the Super 8, I would be very concerned about the impact this project would have on my business.
Utilities and Service Systems
Despite repeated requests from the public, emergency services was never consulted about potential impacts of this project on travel to and from the hospital. I contacted Davey Beak, the long-time manager of emergency transport. After I provided a brief description of the project, he wrote: “A significant change in the volume of traffic on South Street will absolutely have an effect on our response and return times. Code 3 (lights and sirens) help but they will have a negative effect on the residential neighborhoods to the South and East of South Street.
Typically, we limit our use of lights and sirens until we are approaching the Franklin Street intersection. With the additional traffic created by this development we will need to switch to Code 3 several blocks earlier which will likely lead to angry public and reduced real estate values in the adjacent neighborhoods. Access to our Hospital will also be negatively affected. A street widening project along with a stop light at HWY 1 would definitely help. Please share this letter with any appropriate parties. Thanks, Davey”
Davey Beak’s response made it clear that he was never contacted for input on the project, despite repeated public comments concerning this issue. His comments should be taken under consideration and will likely require further study.
There is no doubt this project will increase traffic, impacting access to the harbor, the hospital, medical offices, and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Some special conditions were proposed, but those have not yet been made public, and it’s not clear what they are.
There was discussion during the recent Planning Commission hearing on May 10 of a new signal on Main St. at N. Harbor Dr. However, during previous hearings, I recall hearing that CalTrans would not permit a signal at that intersection because of its proximity to the bridge. Instead there was discussion of a signal on Main St. at South St. This cost would be borne by the City with some money provided by the developer. There will be far more vehicles making left turns onto Main St. at both intersections, and only one will warrant a signal, so left turns from the street without a signal may have to be disallowed.
Many people mentioned the convenient location, and looked forward to walking to the GO. A quick tabulation of all the apartments in the area totaled a minimum number of 350 (with perhaps 500 residents). If even a fraction of those residents walk to the project, it will vastly increase pedestrians crossing South St., which currently has no stop. If a stop is added, along with crosswalks, this will completely change the traffic flow in the area. In addition, consider the ambulance responding to an emergency with sirens blaring while one of our elderly residents is trying to cross the street. These may all be acceptable changes, but the impacts must be fully analyzed and understood for the project to proceed. The current EIR fails in this regard. This brings me to the last issue - alternatives.
Only two alternatives were proposed - reduced size and no project. The reduced size alternative was dismissed as not meeting the project goals, but those are somewhat arbitrary and this alternative needs to be given more consideration. This is especially true if it allows for trucks to drive through with a short angled back in instead of the proposed long back in pathway (see below).
In addition, there were no proposed alternatives that place the new building elsewhere on the site although this was previously brought up by the Planning Commission, the City Council, and members of the public. The proposed placement on the north end of the adjoined parcels would lead to vastly increased truck and car traffic on N. Harbor Dr. Placement on the south end of the adjoined parcels would lead to vastly increased truck and car traffic on South St. The latter alternative was not analyzed. Placement somewhere in the middle of the property was also not considered.
The proposed truck well is very narrow with the vehicle parking to the east and RV parking to the west. The EIR did not describe the travel pattern of trucks turning onto North Harbor Dr. and then backing down the long, narrow path to the receiving area (beeping all the way). This seems unduly long and torturous. There may be other ways to site the building which will minimize truck backing, but those were not considered.
This letter only brings up some of the most important concerns I have about the impact of the proposed project. It is essential that the City Council carefully consider these impacts and how they might be mitigated. The final EIR is not sufficient and does not provide insight into appropriate solutions. It should not be certified, but rather sent back to address all the issues that have not been properly analyzed. Any concerns about the delay in opening a Grocery Outlet in Fort Bragg should be placed at the feet of the developer who has repeatedly tried to cut corners, and obfuscate instead of addressing significant impacts of the project in the proposed location. I hope the City Council doesn’t rubber stamp the project just because it is popular. Even the people who support this project should consider what can be done to minimize negative impacts. Again, if it deserves to be done, it deserves to be done right.
For more information and documentation go to https://www.city.fortbragg.com/ departments/community-development/city-projects. Please send all comments to the City Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance of their hearing on June 5 at 5 pm and consider participating in the hybrid (in person/zoom) meeting.
SPECIAL FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL HYBRID PUBLIC HEARING ABOUT GROCERY OUTLET This Monday, June 5 At 5:00 pm At Town Hall
The Fort Bragg City Council will conduct a hybrid public hearing on the Grocery Outlet Market project at a special meeting on Monday, June 5, 2023 at 5:00 PM. The hearing will be live at Town Hall (363 N. Main Street) and can also be accessed via Zoom and phone. See info posted on the agenda. https://cityfortbragg.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please send all public comments to the City Council in advance of their hearing on June 5. <email@example.com> and firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info see city.fortbragg.com/departments/community-development/city-projects
As you might know this is not the first time that Grocery Outlet tried to come to Fort Bragg. On May 10 the Planning Commission made a recommendation to the City Council that the Environmental Impact Report, Design Review, and Parcel Merger of the parcel at the corner of 825, 845, and 851 S. Franklin Street and N. Harbor Dr. be approved.
Annemarie Weibel Albion
SUPPORT JOHN MEYER Donate Now: Help John Meyer keep fighting for his Property Rights.
To: Those of you following the two-decade struggle to see a cleaned-up and restored Noyo Headlands returned to the Fort Bragg and Mendocino Coastal community.
The Grassroots Institute’s Noyo Headlands Working Group continues to field the efforts by outside corporations to walk away from their responsibilities to our Mendocino communities, taking as much profit as they can with them. We are calling on neighbors to support the Meyer family as they continue to fight Mendocino Railway’s illegal ‘taking’ of their property for its private enterprise.
On April 19th of this year, the Superior Court of CA, in the County of Mendocino, ended the nearly two and a half years long lawsuit in which Mendocino Railway tried to take by eminent domain 20 acres of private property owned by John Meyer in order to relocate its Willits depot, with the following statement:
"The court concludes that MR has failed to meet its burden of establishing that its attempt to acquire Meyer’s property through eminent domain is supported by constitutional and statutory powers. The court finds in favor of Meyer.”
A simple statement. One obvious to most of the Mendocino residents following this prolonged case. One that will undoubtedly have bearing on two other cases involving Mendocino Railway and its attempt to claim the right to ignore local and state land use law: The City of Fort Bragg and the California Coastal Commission
Mendocino Railway, a private corporation with investors from outside our county, is the current owner of The Skunk Train, a popular amusement train ride taking tourists into the forest and back again from Fort Bragg and Willits. The railway claims that its engine, viewing platform, and single passenger car are critical parts of the national transportation network and, as such, it has the right of “eminent domain” — the ability to seize property for the common good — and private profit.
In Mendocino Railway versus John Meyer, the railway has been trying to take 20 acres of Meyer’s private property on Hwy 20 near Willits to move its depot from downtown Willits and perhaps put in a commercial for-profit campground. John has been fighting Mendocino Railway in court for 30 months. He is putting forth a valiant battle, but the playing field is far from level. The corporation has depleted his family’s resources and is driving them toward bankruptcy. The railway has a history of appealing any court ruling against them to any other court that might overturn that decision.
Why do we need to help?
The two and a half year battle has put the Meyer family deeply in debt with attorney fees and lost opportunity costs of having their property tied up in court since 2020, delaying their own plan to develop the property for housing (while construction costs escalate.) And although the recent decision against Mendocino Railway is one that has John Meyer and the community celebrating—cautiously—there are higher courts in the land. Corporate deep pockets and greedy eyes on the prize could well keep the expensive battle going for some time.
John Meyer fights on:
We think John is a hero. A David in a world of corporate entitlement. He is fighting for your right to make decisions about your property. He is fighting for the right of Mendocino County communities to plan for their own economic future and for responsible stewardship of the Northern CA environment we love. He is fighting for Fort Bragg’s right to decide how to restore and develop one third of the city for the good of its citizens.
The Noyo Headlands Working Group is asking you to join John Meyer in this unjust fight. He needs backup. The Meyer homestead is not the first Mendocino County property the railway tried to seize with the threat of eminent domain. It is unlikely it will be the last. We believe the deal between Georgia-Pacific and the railway over ownership of the Noyo Headlands bears scrutiny. To learn more about the story about who is now behind the historic Skunk Train head to our website.
How you can help:
A fund has been set up to defray John’s expenses to fight the lawsuit. The first is a Go-Fund-Me account with a $20,000 goal. This fund goes directly to the Meyers to help them do what they need to do to survive: keep paying bills, including the mortgage on their property and avoid losing the property through bankruptcy. Go to gofundme.com/f/help-john-meyer-survive-being-railroaded.
The need for this money is on-going and urgent. Donate online with your credit card at wildcalifornia.org by following the steps on their donation page, make sure to select “Legal Fund to Challenge Skunk Train Eminent Domain Claim” in the “Select a Fund” drop down menu.
Thank you for considering supporting this effort.
The GrassRoots Institute Noyo Headlands Working Group
PS. You can also help by forwarding this letter to people and/or organizations you think might want to know the story. A personal note from you will make it stand out and be credible in the influx we all get in our inboxes.
The Artists’ Collective in Elk presents “Elaborations”, an exhibition by Sophia Sutherland of her paintings, drawings and figurative ceramic sculptures for the month of June. The exhibition will range widely and wildly through several decades of pieces that have never before been shown. Multiple series from overtly whimsical to covertly philosophical will be on display. “Elaborations” will be fun and thought provoking and will be displayed from June 2nd to June 30th. The Artists’ Collective is located in beautiful downtown Elk, at 6031 South Hwy. 1, Elk, CA 95432. Reception for the artist will be held 2nd Sat., June 10th from noon to 3 pm. For more information, call (707) 877-1128.
‘HE DID IT AGAIN’ - NICKERMAN GUILTY OF INFLICTING GREAT BODILY INJURY.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Thursday to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.
Defendant Charles Arthur Nickerman, age 65, of Ukiah, was found guilty of assault by force likely to inflict great bodily injury, a felony.
The jury also found true a special allegation that the defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury on the 67-year-old male victim.
After the jury was excused, a bifurcated evidentiary hearing (court trial) was scheduled for June 15, 2023 for a judicial determination as to whether or not the defendant has suffered a prior Strike conviction.
The District Attorney has alleged that the defendant suffered a prior violent felony conviction (aka "Strike") in the Mendocino County Superior Court in 2011 for having inflicted great bodily on an elderly victim, a woman who at that time was 68 years of age.
The proof of the prior Strike conviction will be presented by the prosecutor at the hearing through the court’s own file and records.
The law enforcement agency that investigated the crime and developed the evidence supporting today’s felony conviction was the Ukiah Police Department.
The attorney handling this case and who presented the People’s evidence at trial was Deputy District Attorney Luke Oakley.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan presided over the three-day trial. She will also preside over the upcoming hearing on the validity of the prior Strike conviction.
LES CRANE KILLER SUSPECTS ID’D?
After eight months of investigation and filming, suspects have been identified in the murder of Les Crane. We are working with authorities on all levels to bring these murderers to justice.
Dedicated to solving the cold case murder from Mendocino County of Rev. Les Crane. This is an Emerald Triangle murder mystery that you can help solve.
Who Killed Les Crane? https://whokilledlescrane.com
LOCAL ANIMAL GROUPS ARE THE CAT’S MEOW
by Cat Spydell
They say it takes a village, and wow, am I lucky that Mendocino County has such a great village to help with animals in need. I had a huge scare recently when my beloved soul-cat Athena began acting strangely, growling at her own stomach while cleaning herself. I did a bit of research and feared the worst, a condition I had never heard of in all my years as an animal rescuer, because I have never, before owning her, had an unspayed cat in my life. Her condition, called pyometra, which is engorged sex organs that become infected, sometimes occurs in unspayed females that never breed, and it is fatal if left untreated. I took Athena to the local Ukiah vet at Mendocino Animal Hospital and they got her on antibiotics, and we scheduled a spay, hoping that would be the end of Athena’s problems. I expected the surgery bill to be about $200, the price of a regular spay. But once the doctor did an ultrasound the following week at her appointment and saw Athena’s condition, the new bill was estimated to be over a thousand dollars.
I don’t have that kind of extra money; most of my dosh goes toward feeding our rescue animals here at Pixie Dust Ranch. While Athena was in surgery, I was texting, calling, and emailing the local charities that help animals. I was blessed that three local agencies helped me within hours of hearing my story. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Mendocino Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), Second Chance, and the Eileen Hawthorne Fund, and to my wonderful friends who also generously chipped in on an emergency-activated Go Fund Me. Things were very dire for awhile and I was an emotional mess until I learned the outcome of the surgery. I’ll cut to the chase: after a crazy few days of vet visits, tests, phone calls, research, and finally the surgery, and a second trip to the vet for additional stitches, Athena is home safe and recovering well.
So the question remains: Why didn’t I, an animal rescuer who knows better, not spay her female cat?
Athena came to us as a young orphaned feral kitten to the original coastal Los Angeles suburb location of Pixie Dust Ranch. My neighbor there, Karen, who did not get the memo that I only take in exotics, not cats, showed up with a brown towel bundle and bloodied arms. She said she and her family had caught a ferocious orphaned kitten that was now wrapped up in the towel, and asked if I would take it. I told her, no sorry, we don’t take in kittens, just exotics and farm animals (my most recent rescues were an exotic 3-foot-long Asian walking catfish, a pygmy hedgehog, and an orphaned baby male peacock). I told her I did have a few local cat rescue phone numbers I could give her. I asked her how old the kitten was, wondering if it would need to be bottle fed so I would know which rescue to call.
My daughter Cassidy heard the conversation and came to witness yet another animal in need of rescuing on the front porch waiting to be let in. Curious, she stood behind me. We hadn’t had a new cat in the household for a few years, and the reason is, back when I was bottle feeding orphaned kittens for Redondo Beach Animal Control where I worked during the summers during my college years, we adopted not only a couple of kittens but also, a rule: To keep a cat, it must be a black male that “shows up” (like this kitten, brought by someone, or one that just appeared one day, which has happened to us a couple of times). Or the cat had to be a split-faced calico, since the first cat I could ever truly call “mine” that we kept was a white tortoise-shell calico with a half-black, half-orange face that came from my first-ever rescue litter. That was it: all the sweet Siamese, ornery orange, and graceful gray kittens that came through the front door had to go back out, spayed or neutered, and with new owners. We also deemed three the magic number so we didn’t become the crazy cat people: no more than three cats were allowed to be living in our household at once. These rules actually worked fairly well over the years, with occasional lapses.
You may be able to imagine my utter shock when the brown towel was removed and lo! There she was! A split-faced calico spitty kitty who looked like she wanted to kill us all, and in fact had tried to kill Karen and her two adult children who rescued her off a major street on the back side of the hill overlooking the ocean. I gasped, and my daughter said, “Mom!” And I reached out and took that naughty little feral bundle, after having just tried to send Karen back on her way while taking the kitten with her. Our old family rules applied once again.
“What just happened?” Karen asked. I said, “If that were a tabby you’d be heading back to the car with her!” and then I explained the long-standing household rescue rule for cats. I had no need for a kitten, I didn’t really want one, and we were pushing the “three cats only” rule as we already had three in the house because Cassidy herself had sneaked in a GRAY TABBY named Cleopawtra who broke all of the house rules. But Cleopawtra was temporary, I told myself, because Cassidy was an “early adult” and was transitioning her housing from the family home to living on her own. Cleo would go with her. (I think this may be an excellent time to report that Cleopawtra currently lives with me here in Philo in our community house, and previously lived with Cassidy’s dad Mike before that in Comptche. The plan of Cleo staying with Cassidy never panned out. However, Cleo’s a chipmunk chaser and keeps rats and mice at bay, so she’s become a welcome addition to our home here at Pixie Dust Ranch). Rules be damned!
Athena was the most feral and angry kitten I have ever met, and I have dealt with hundreds of kittens over the years. We set up a play area in the bathtub for her with a cardboard “hidey” box, but she lived with me in my bedroom, which at that time also housed a pigeon named Jack Sparrow, a dove named Penelope Pigeon, and an albino parakeet named Luna. On the other side of the screen in his aviary was Athena’s soon-to-be-best friend, Rad the Peacock. In the bathroom, here this tiny little spitfire would hiss at any human who dared enter. We used that bathroom exposure technique to get her used to humans, and eventually, the hissing stopped. But that sassy kitten would never back away even from huge human beings. She claimed, by snarling, dominance over any space that she deemed her own. Luckily she was just opinionated and vocal, and she never physically harmed anyone except the original family who caught her from the wilds.
Gaining the respect of this kitten, aptly named after the warrior goddess Athena, was the most challenging animal relationship I have had. And I say that as someone who takes a wild adult male peacock to schools and Boys and Girls Clubs as an education bird. Even Rad the Peacock, though we have a very challenging relationship, did not require the nuance that winning over Athena did. Now Athena is six years old and my very intelligent and beautiful feline soul mate. We have a life dance we do well together. She understands most of what I say and there’s a tight bond between us, like with “ride or die” friends. To break that trust would break my heart.
Though Athena has been in my life since the summer of 2016 and is completely comfortable with me, she is still wary of most people. Athena has had a very unusual sheltered yet simultaneously “out there” existence. She has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles with me in five states and various vehicles, from basic SUVs and sedans to three different schoolbus RVs. Athena was there as a kitten when our goat Buttercup the Curse Slaying Goat broke the Cubs Curse at Dodger Stadium in October 2016. Athena has awakened in the vast unpopulated desert and, wearing her harness and leash, has rolled in morning desert sand, and she has done a morning stretch on an ancient redwood tree off highway 128 by the Navarro River. She has been to the ocean, to lakes, to the high Sierras. She has been in the vehicle at numerous concerts, from concerts in June Lake to the Hollywood Bowl to a music festival in Ventura. And no one has ever seen her. She has a private “hidey home” in each vehicle and she stays low by day and comes out at dusk like a sneaky night tiger. Over the past six years, I would say maybe only a dozen people I know have ever seen Athena in person, even though she is popular on social media because I am her obsessed mom, always taking her photo to share this beautiful being with the world.
Here’s me, the most overprotective cat mom on the planet, facing my feline baby girl’s potential demise because, well, I’m an idiot. I didn’t spay her as a kitten because of her fear of strangers, and also because she has led a very secluded life and no male cat could ever access her, as we also traveled then not only with the peacock but also a ginormous fluffy white dog. I really was afraid that Athena would lose my hard-earned trust if I took her in a box and left her with strangers for surgery. I didn’t know that not spaying my cat could cause her future serious health issues. That made no sense in my mind; spaying cats is technically unnatural. It’s the most natural thing in the world for a cat to be “intact.” However, it is not natural for an intact cat to not have kittens. Basically, Athena’s condition was caused by her not having sex, as awkward as that sounds to say, and not breeding her, which may have prevented that medical issue. I have spayed and neutered every other young dog and cat that has come through Pixie Dust Ranch’s doors, so this situation really is a slap in the face to what I stand for as an animal rescuer. Lesson learned! Luckily Athena survived her surgery, which as mentioned was more complicated than anticipated. The vet staff truly are miracle workers!
A big shout out to the staff at the Mendocino Animal Hospital in Ukiah who were so cooperative every time I spoke with them and dealt with them and were very easy-going about the different grant monies coming in. They even were pleasant about the fact that I hovered nearby, parked out front like a stalker while Athena had surgery. They saved my beloved cat, and their willingness to work with me and make that surgery happen so quickly makes them my heroes, as well as my generous Go Fund Me willing-friends (this is the first Go Fund Me I have ever created for Pixie Dust Ranch. It really is unbelievable how giving people can be! Special thanks to Athena’s “angel donor” Clarice). And these wonderful local people behind SNAP, the Eileen Hawthorne Fund, and Second Chance, whose admin members called me and talked to me on the phone and immediately chipped in, give me hope. These local groups are full of the kindest, most amazing people I have talked to here in Mendocino County. We are certainly blessed to have such committed, caring individuals in our local “village.” We are so grateful, and Athena and I thank these dedicated souls from the bottom of our hearts.
KOZELUH ACQUITTED OF DOMESTIC BATTERY
A man on trial for a single misdemeanor DV charge was acquitted Thursday afternoon by a Mendocino County Superior Court jury.
Timothy John Kozeluh, age 73, of Willits, had been charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, the interaction in question having occurred on April 2, 2023 at a Willits area home.
The law enforcement agency called to investigate the original call for assistance was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence at trial was Deputy District Attorney Ivan Abrams.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan presided over the three-day trial.
There will be no further proceedings in this matter.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, June 2, 2023
LEILANI BENAVENTE, Fort Bragg. Child endangerment.
WYATT BILL, Upper Lake/Willits. DUI.
EVAN CASTER, Fort Bragg. Possession of IDs of ten or more persons with intent to defraud, conspiracy.
REMA LINCOLN, Covelo. Vandalism, criminal threats.
MIGUEL MARIN, Ukiah. Probation violation.
ALEX MORA-WHITEHURST, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
TINA PATTY, Willits. Protective order violation.
SUSAN PORTER, Willits. DUI with priors, suspended license for DUI, leaving scene of accident with property damage, vandalism.
HUGO ROSALES-AVENDANO, Santa Rosa/Laytonville. DUI.
MICHAELA STEWART, Fortuna/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
MICHELLE VOLMER, Fort Bragg. Possession of IDs of ten or more persons with intent to defraud, conspiracy.
CHARLES WHIPPLE, Covelo. Failure to appear.
It was with profound sadness that this country marked the anniversary of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It’s with immense frustration and fury that I listen to reports of mass shootings now occurring weekly in this country and virtually nothing has been done by Congress to end this madness.
A reality check will shake the public and politicians out of their apathetic stupor is necessary. Show the photos. Show the horrific damage weapons of war cause, especially to small children. Get permission from the families, obscure faces if necessary, but until the public understands the carnage that goes on in this country nothing will change.
In the spirit of Emmett Till’s mother and her brave decision to open her son’s casket and the courageous photojournalists who changed the direction of the Vietnam War with photos and videos of the horrors, drastic events call for drastic measures.
Monotone reporting of “yet another mass shooting” and politicians’ thoughts and prayers are clearly not enough to stop this madness. Show the photos. Stop the disconnect between rhetoric and reality.
MEMO OF THE AIR: Live on KNYO from Franklin St. all night Friday night!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is like 5:30 or so. Or send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
I'll be in the clean, well-lighted back room of KNYO's 325 N. Franklin studio. To call and read your work in your own voice, the number is 707-962-3022. If you want to come in and perform in person, that's okay, I guess, but bring a mask to put on.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other terrific shows.
As always, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find plenty of things to mess with until showtime to keep your fingers and ears and eyeballs from going crazy, such as:
It's control-Z now, but I remember in WordStar, in the early 1980s, it was control-H.
Rich useless people cavorting among their million-dollar cars, in thousand-dollar tennis shoes, startled and briefly pleasantly diverted by rocket attacks on shipping in the bay. More champagne, sir?
And Pam Ayres. "They should have asked my husband."
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH THE WESTERN LEFT is that it doesn't exist.
To look at leftist discourse you'd think the left's biggest problem is that some leftists have the wrong beliefs about this or that issue, or that the left pays too much or not enough attention to identity politics, or places too much or not enough emphasis on electoral politics, or is too sympathetic toward enemies of the US empire or not sympathetic enough, or that this or that faction gets it all wrong — but it's not. The biggest problem is that there aren't anywhere remotely close to enough leftists to get anything done in the west today.
And by leftists I of course don't mean Democrats or "progressives" or anyone who just wants a few adjustments to be made to the capitalist empire so that they can afford medicine or a college degree or whatever. I mean real socialists, communists and anarchists who oppose capitalism and imperialism and seek the drastic, revolutionary changes this civilization urgently needs. Those who understand that the system is not broken and in need of repair, but is working exactly as intended and is in need of complete dismantling.
This latter category has barely any meaningful existence in the western world. The "western left" in modern times is either controlled opposition or what amounts to a glorified online message board. That's not our fault; the empire has poured vast amounts of wealth and effort into making that happen. But we do need to be real about it, and we do need to fix it.
And it's just so strange to me that this doesn't dominate all leftist discourse all the time. The fact that the western left is a tiny politically impotent minority with nowhere near the numbers needed to accomplish its goals is the single most significant thing about the western left, by a long, long way.
I mean, if you were a general who was setting off to war, and you only had a handful of soldiers to fight against an entire enemy nation, that would be the single most glaring fact in your attention. You wouldn't be spending your time arguing about military strategies or the history of equestrian combat, and you certainly wouldn't be wasting your energy fighting against those who are basically on your side. Front and center of your attention would be the fact that you don't have enough troops to fight this war, and how can you get more.
If you're an architect who's been hired to construct a skyscraper, and your workforce shows up and it's just one guy with a plastic toy hammer, that's going to be the focus of your attention. You're not going to be poring over your blueprints and books on architectural theory and musing about the finer points of foundational integrity, you're going to be trying to figure out how to get more workers to build this damn thing.
So you'd think that would be the case with the western left as well, because we find ourselves in more or less the same kind of situation. But it isn't. To look at the writings of a lot of western leftists you'd think the best way to enact your ideology in the world is to spend your time arguing with other leftists using esoteric Marxist jargon about obscure points that nobody outside your tiny echo chamber knows about or cares about, or to sit back smugly knowing better than everyone else while waiting for the contradictions inherent in capitalism to bring about its demise.…
RUSSIAGATE'S MISSING PIECES
What was not said in the Durham Report?
by Seymour Hersh
The first thing to understand about John Durham is that he was a fearless prosecutor who went after organized crime and put in prison retired and active FBI agents who protected the mob for money or other enticements. One of the agents he stopped had enabled James “Whitey” Bulger Jr., once one of America’s most wanted men, the Winter Hill Gang boss who evaded arrest for sixteen years.
In his forty-five years as a state and federal prosecutor in Connecticut and Virginia, Durham worked often and closely with FBI agents, especially on cases that involved violations of federal racketeering statutes.
Durham also handled two inquiries into the CIA’s conduct in the War on Terror, and he did so without angering his superiors in the executive branch. In one case he was asked to investigate the alleged destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations, the so-called torture tapes. His final report on the matter remains secret, and he recommended that no charges be filed. He was later asked to lead a Justice Department inquiry into the legality of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” that resulted in the death of two detainees. In that case, he was told that officers who were given and obeyed what were determined to be illegal orders—there were many of those after 9/11—could not be prosecuted. No charges were filed.
Durham’s 306-page report was made public on May 15, and it pleased no one with its focus on the obvious. The journalist Susan Schmidt, whose byline was a must-read when she was a reporter for the Washington Post, pointed out on Racket News that Durham said the FBI would have done less damage to its reputation if it had scrutinized the questionable actions of the Clinton campaign in 2016: the Feds “might at least have cast a critical eye on the phony evidence they were gathering.”
Schmidt was highlighting a moment in Durham’s report where he hints at the real story: Russiagate was a fraud initiated by the Clinton campaign and abetted by political reporters in Washington and senior FBI officials who chose to look the other way. Durham writes: “In late July 2016, US intelligence agencies obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis alleging that US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against US Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”
He continues: “this intelligence—taken at face value—was arguably highly relevant and exculpatory because it could be read in fuller context, and in combination with other facts, to suggest that materials such as the Steele Dossier reports and the Alfa Bank allegations . . . were part of a political effort to smear a political opponent and to use the resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies in support of a political objective.”
Durham goes on to cite many instances of public statements and private communications of Clinton campaign staffers that were “consistent with the substance of the purported plan.” He finds evidence to suggest that “at least some officials within the campaign were seeking information about the FBI's response to the DNC hack, which would be consistent with, and a means of furthering, the purported plan.” He adds that “the campaign's funding of the Steele Reports and Alfa Bank allegations . . . provide some additional support for the credibility to the information set forth in the Clinton Plan intelligence.”
However, his report focuses on who knew about the Clinton Plan intelligence and when they knew of it, while “the details of the Clinton Plan intelligence,” “facts that heightened the potential relevance of this intelligence to” Durham’s inquiry, and his team’s “efforts to verify or refute the key claims found in this intelligence” are confined to a Classified Appendix.
It became evident to some members of Durham’s staff that the real story was not about whether or not Trump had pee parties in a Moscow hotel room—one of the headline-producing allegations in the Steele Dossier that consumed the Washington press corps in the aftermath of Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. The issue was whether the Clinton campaign, in its constant leaking of false accusations and false data, had crossed a line.…
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I had a friend with whom I would often debate political issues. One day we talked about prepping for the supposed coming collapse of everything. I mentioned having food storage and asked if he was working on his food storage. He looked at me and with what could only be interpreted as “coldness” in his eyes, said, and I quote: “Why do I need to store food, I could just come get yours.” He smiled and laughed it off but deep down I knew he was serious.
My advice? Don’t tell people about your food storage or prepper supplies. Keep it a secret. The fewer people who know the less likely you’ll be robbed or killed for your supplies.
OUR WHOLE WORLD NOW, it seems to me, has been built to prevent any stumbling or wandering from ever happening. Nobody wants to get lost. Preventing us from ever getting lost is what the Machine is for. It is why we like it. It is why, piece by piece, day by day, word by word, it is killing us slowly.
Exchange meaning for control: that was the deal. Exchange beauty for utility, roots for wings, the whole for the parts, lostness and wandering and stumbling for the straight march towards the goal. That was the deal. Turns out it was a trap, and now look at us. Look at everything we know, and how little we can see. Look at us here, flailing, drowning, gasping as we sink into the numbers and words.…
IN THE ERA OF GLOBAL WARMING, nothing is really far away; there is no place where the orderly expectations of bourgeois life hold unchallenged sway. It is as though our earth had become a literary critic and were laughing at Flaubert, Chatterjee, and their like, mocking their mockery of the “prodigious happenings” that occur so often in romances and epic poems. This, then, is the first of the many ways in which the age of global warming defies both literary fiction and contemporary common sense: the weather events of this time have a very high degree of improbability. Indeed, it has even been proposed that this era should be named the “catastrophozoic” (others prefer such phrases as “the long emergency” and “the Penumbral Period”). It is certain in any case that these are not ordinary times: the events that mark them are not easily accommodated in the deliberately prosaic world of serious prose fiction.
— Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 2ND JUNE
Ukraine says its air defenses shot down 36 drones and missiles over Kyiv early Friday as air raid sirens sounded across the country.
Meanwhile, explosions rocked the Russian-occupied port city of Berdiansk in southern Ukraine. Both sides of the conflict reported casualties.
Officials in Russia also reported Ukrainian drone attacks and shelling in several regions Friday, as the war spills over from Ukraine's borders into Russian territory. Ukraine has not commented on the claims.
The battlefield developments come as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken starts a diplomatic visit to Finland, where he gave a speech declaring Moscow's war a "strategic failure."