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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, June 24, 2023

Overcast | Rhododendron | Troublesome Director | Proceed | Van Tripping | Fence Lizard | No Joke | Drug Culture | Wines Served | Swamp Preference | SNWMF Return | Ed Notes | Ukiah Construction | Massage Clinic | Guard Rail | Case Resolved | Redding Show | Chief DUI | Hiring Event | Yesterday's Catch | Marco Radio | Merry Pranksters | Humanity Crisis | A.N.C. Williams | Teachable Moment | German Stowaway | Ukraine | Other Arm

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COASTAL CLOUDS will persist through much of the next week. Across the interior, isolated to scattered thunderstorms are expected today, with gradually decreasing chances through Sunday. Temperatures along the coast will remain slightly below normal. Temperatures across the interior will gradually warm through the coming week. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A foggy 55F on the coast this Saturday morning. The onshore flow looks strong. I expect mostly cloudy today, maybe a bit less cloudy Sunday & sunnier going into next week. We'll see...

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Elk Post Office Rhododendron (Jeff Goll)

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by Mark Scaramella

Back in the Carmel Angelo Era, management staffers who presented a problem for the peevish CEO were summarily given the heave-ho on the spot and nobody dared comment about it in open session. The target of Angelo’s abrupt terminations, mainly senior level “at will” employees, had no choice but to sue if they didn’t like it, fair or unfair. Some of them have sued; some of them have not. At least two of them still have wrongful termination cases pending, costing the County hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

But these days, without the volatile Angelo at the helm, things have become more muddled and unclear. And with Mumbler In Chief, County Counsel Christian Curtis basically running the show, everything is complicated by his “legal advice” to the Board which is generally um- and uh-infused versions of, “No, you can’t do that.”

On Tuesday, a clearly frustrated Supervisor Ted Williams brought forward an agenda item to try to address the management problem from a different angle: Revamp the County’s civil service rules to make it easier to terminate problematic managers.

Employees Union Rep Patrick Hickey was skeptical. 

“I don’t know if the County is in the best position to make recommendations for improving the civil service commission based on its recent track record,” declared Hickey, stating outright what most observers were thinking. “What are you doing to supervise County management? The Board’s direct supervision of the Cannabis Department was a train wreck.”

Ouch. None of the Supervisors showed interest in following that one up. 

Hickey went on: “We have a situation going on right now that you are all aware of. A manager who has threatened employees, lied to community members, violated labor law, and sent an e-mail to all staff saying that speaking to you, the Board of Supervisors, can be construed as both insubordination and a violation of the Brown Act.”

An email?! Apparently this particular manager has put her wrong-headed opinions in writing! So there’s a record of it.

Hickey: “This manager claims that this information and direction was provided by the County Counsel's office.”

Is that in writing too? 

Hickey: “I hope that our County Counsel's office is not giving out this sort of dubious advice. If any front-line employee did a fraction of these things they would be put on administrative leave and investigated.”

Or terminated, we should add.

Hickey: “You all have received a petition from a majority of the staff of this department weeks ago. It details a long list of mismanagement. But so far, it appears that you have done nothing.”

“Nothing” is this Board’s stock in trade. At least Williams proposed some kind of amorphous civil service rule changes, but that won’t fix the immediate problem that Hickey is talking about, nor much else given the current state of County management.

Hickey: “If this is the kind of oversight and supervision that the Executive Office is providing to its department heads, we all have real cause to worry. Rather than violating labor law, how about working with your employees to move the county forward? Come to the table with ideas. Hold your management accountable. This current approach will only lead to unnecessary strife and disruption.”

The room full of employees erupted in cheers and applause. Nobody accused them of insubordination.

County Counsel Curtis did not deny Hickey’s “dubious advice” allegation, although he had plenty of opportunity. You’d think that if had not given such bad advice to the “manager” in question he would have denied it on the spot.

The AVA has obtained a copy of the petition which Mr. Hickey referred to. The manager in question is Cultural Services Director Sarah Faber-Samson. The petition was signed by most of the employees in the County Library system under Faber-Samson’s Cultural Services Agency and was submitted to the Supervisors on June 2, 2023. The Cultural Services Agency is a good sized County department which includes the Library (with branches in Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, Laytonville, Covelo, and Point Arena now), plus the County’s parks and the County Museum in Willits.

Toxic Work Environment at our Mendocino County Libraries

We, the undersigned employees of the Mendocino County Public Library are writing to express our concerns about the toxic work environment that has developed at our libraries since the arrival of the Cultural Services Administration Director Deb Fader Samson.

The Mendocino County Library System is a vibrant and innovative community institution that provides a wide range of services throughout our county. Branches serve as important community gathering places and information hubs for many county residents. Library staff have been recognized for their creative and engaging programming that has expanded way beyond checking out books.

But since the arrival of the new Cultural Services Agency Director, staff has seen a dramatic change in the atmosphere and climate in the workplace. This has led to a dramatic drop in staff morale and has led some employees to leave. Here are some of the concerns that we have:

• Lack of communication.

• Lack of community engagement.

• Loss of trusted, valued, and experienced staff who have served for years due to her toxic “leadership.”

• Refusal to take constructive input and information from Branch Librarians. Characterizing questions and requests for clarification as “arguing with her.”

• Bullying of staff.

• Micromanaging and meddling in local branch issues that should be handled by staff.

• Disengagement and disinterest in library activities.

• Alienation of stakeholders and damage to the important relationship with the Friends of the Library groups throughout the county, including distribution of false information to the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

• Lack of trust and unsatisfactory outcomes in director’s handling of patron behavior violations, creating an unsafe work environment for staff.

Therefore, we respectfully request that the CSA Director be put on a Corrective Action Plan and be provided with training, support and direction to improve her managerial skills and provide more engaged and more supportive leadership for library staff.

In 2022 Ms. Fader-Samson received a base pay of about $112k per year plus other pay and benefits totaling about $169k per year.

Deb Fader Samson

According to her Instagram page Ms. Fader-Samson is “Library Director, Ohio State Alum, Univ. of So. Carolina Alum, Dog Mama, Aunt. Into reading, hiking, theater, interior design, art, and liberal politics.” In May of 2021 she was described as the “new” Director of the Mendocino County Library and Cultural Affairs Department. There was no formal announcement of her arrival as Mendocino County Director of Cultural Affairs at the time.

Seemingly unaware of the nature of the management problem, Supervisor John Haschak asked Williams why he agendized an item about improving the civil service commission and its processes.

Williams: “I’ve been told I’m not allowed to talk about personnel issues in open session. I would be happy to go through the chronology of what I have witnessed here. I think if the public saw it they would fill the room with outrage. I am trying to find a way to address the problem without getting the county in trouble. I think the best way to do it is to give direction to staff to bring back their ideas based on the problems that we've had in this county. What do they think are the changes in the management structure and potentially the civil service process that would allow them to have the tools to address this problem early where we wouldn't be paying big settlements and we wouldn't lose other employees? If they come back with nothing then there are not any problems. But time and again I've heard and I imagine we have all heard that we can't solve it; we have a difficult process because of civil service.”

Williams suggested aligning the County’s civil service policies with the state’s rules rather than “doing our own thing.” But, of course, such “alignment” — a process that would take years if it was even tried — would require County Counsel Curtis’s stamp of approval.

Supervisor Maureen Mulheren commented: “Since I have been a board member, there have been a handful of incidents with our employees that I am absolutely appalled about.”

Funny, Supervisor Mulheren’s Supervisorial facebook page, which includes frequent notices about how great it is to work for Mendocino County along with the usual Great Redwood Trail events and other Ukiah area cultural affairs activities, doesn’t mention any appalling incidents.

“Any colleagues that are not at appalled, that is up to them,” Mulheren continued, trying not to directly call out her fellow Supervisors. “However, I think we should revamp the rules so that we are able to release employees quickly if they have specific issues. I have not gone through our civil service rules to try to figure out how to do that. We are asking Human Resources to take a stab at that, aligning more with the state rules, that might be the most efficient way to do it.” 

CEO Darcie ‘The Flexible’ Antle: “We can look into it. I know that County Counsel already has.”

Oh, we bet he has. And here we are.

Board Chair Glenn McGourty: “It sounds open-ended. Are you ok with that?”

Wait a minute. If it “sounds open ended,” shouldn’t the Board try to close it? Why ask the CEO if it’s ok, when it’s the Board’s responsibility?

CEO Antle: “Yes. We understand the intent.” 

The intent, right. Sure. And it was left at that. The CEO might “look into it.” No target dates, no promises, no particulars, no names, no reporting back. No action taken about the Cultural Affairs Director.

Just as Mr. Hickey said: Nothing.

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ROAD TRIPS IN VAN: Boring, Cramped And My Favorite Family Memories

by Justine Frederiksen

Much of my childhood was spent in a van, especially the 1968 Chevy that my parents drove across California, Nevada and Arizona.

I remember feeling trapped and bored on those trips, spending countless hours staring at the globe compass on the dashboard and willing its dial to stop wobbling. Because if the compass was still, that meant the van had stopped and I could finally go outside again.

But all that time we spent crammed together in that van also created some of my favorite memories with my family. Like when my sister and I put on shows for the other cars on the highway.

That was cool.

Since this was the 1970s when we couldn’t carry interactive screens everywhere, my sister and I entertained ourselves by reading, drawing or playing with toys in the van. Until my father caught us and exclaimed, “Look out the window! Who knows if you’ll ever be driving by here again.”

So I looked out at the landscape, but not for long. Soon I was watching the other cars, and when I saw the other bored people inside them, I decided to entertain us all.

I went to the back windows and opened my case, and my sister joined me. First we showed them all our toys, including what we made with our Legos. Then if the car was still behind us and the people seemed to be enjoying our show, we wrote out greetings on pieces of paper. And if I was sure my mother wasn’t watching, I’d put pairs of underwear on my head to make them laugh.

I love imagining what these people thought, watching these girls waving at them from the back windows of their van, especially the one with the panties on her wild blond hair.

But my absolute favorite memories of that van were the times I got to crawl on top of it, into the wooden box my father built on its roof for extra storage space when relatives visited from Denmark. The box ran the length of the van and was several inches in height, so it could easily fit our whole family, let alone kid-sized me.

I was constantly begging my mother to let me ride in the box, but she said it was too dangerous unless the van was parked. Except for one trip to Yosemite, when she finally relented and said when my father was driving slowly inside the park near a famous redwood grove, I could ride up top.

I still remember how it felt to be lying there, looking up at the sky full of redwood trees and thinking I had the best dad in the world, who was always building cool things and letting us do fun things.

Even when we weren’t on road trips, he made the van our playground. He’d drive off with the sliding door open, forcing us to chase after it and jump in if we didn’t want to be left behind. Once inside, he let us lie on our bellies above the holes in the floor so we could watch the road fly by underneath. Even though I saw mostly just a blur of asphalt, I found it fascinating, and never considered that I could easily lose an eye if a big enough rock came flying up to hit it.

Because I always felt safe in that van, even when we were driving in the middle of the night and I woke up in my sleeping bag. In those moments surrounded by darkness, with no idea where I was and no control over where I was going, it felt like floating in outer space. And yet I also felt completely safe, sure that my parents knew where we were headed.

So I would look out the windows and watch the trees and poles flying overhead until I fell back asleep, not caring where we were going, just happy that my family was going there together.

And now, decades later, my favorite vacations are in cars, especially the long road trips my husband and I take with the dog. Just me and my family on the road, creating new favorite memories.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Lake Mendocino Northwestern Fence Lizard (Jeff Goll)

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A READER WONDERS: “’PINK ZONE CELEBRATION of Philo Wellness Center POSTPONED…’ – This is a joke, RIGHT? Henry Chinaski… Adventist Health and OneTaste?”

ED REPLY: Nope, no joke. Unusual even by Mendo standards, to say the least.

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Long gone are the days of personal responsibility. San Francisco has always been the Great Enabler. Since being a kid in the 60s I have seen the drug culture slowly take over the City, and the ensuing homelessness. Now residents are moving out, businesses shuttered, and tourists refusing to visit. Until there is an aggressive response and tougher laws, this once great city is doomed. Consequences get progressively worse for drunk drivers choosing to continue to drive intoxicated. This is done in order to keep them harming themselves and others. Why is it ok or considered compassionate to let drug users stay on a path they choose which harms themselves, the safety of others and creates vast economic harm?

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PRESS DEMOCRAT HEADLINE, June 22, 2023: “2 Napa Valley wines to be served at Thursday's White House state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Modi” — “The two wines, a PATEL Napa Valley 2019 red blend and a Domaine Carneros brut rosé, were to complement a vegetarian menu prepared by White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and chef and Plant'ish & Co. Culinary Arts director Nina Curtis, first lady Jill Biden said Wednesday.”

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by Michael Turner

“All kinda people come a dance” – Sugar Minott

My first musical experience at the Anderson Valley Fairgrounds came in 1971. I was part of a pickup band of musicians camping at the mouth of the Navarro River who somehow found themselves on a tiny stage surrounded by an unruly crowd of boozed up locals who, for the moment at least, seemed to tolerate us longhairs. It was quite frightening to be in the midst of the drunken crowd as it surged unpredictably while random fights broke out. It was the beginning of that post-Woodstock era when outdoor concerts were marked by gross intoxication, trash, and flying projectiles. 

And now, 52 years later, I’m back in the same place feeling a completely different vibe. Tranquility. It was opening time and I’m sitting at a picnic table, eating a delicious plate of Jamaican food (oxtail with rice and peas), watching the crowd stroll in. “This is the best place for people watching,” said the woman next to me. It was a quirky pop-up fashion show with every conceivable type of headgear, from African fulani hats to bunny ears, every type of fabric, every conceivable pattern and color combination. People from all demographics were represented. Particularly noticeable were the many young families, with their wildly bedecked strollers and baby wagons. My friend Carter joked “It’s a reggae fetish t-shirt contest!”. 

Through the weekend I witnessed no belligerent behavior. No trash underfoot. No flying projectiles. More than one person told me that the best thing about the fest was their feeling of personal safety. One visitor from Australia told me that what she liked most was the no dogs policy, which made perfect sense as we gazed out at the grassy acreage full of kids chasing each other.

It was the return of the 26th version of the Sierra Nevada World Music Fest, the crown jewel of the many festivals devoted to niche musics in Northern California. SNWMF has been a summertime fixture here since 2008. It’s the brainchild of the late Warren Smith who, from the 1970s, had made it his mission to bring remarkable, authentic Jamaican music to the U.S.A. Jamaica’s homegrown music had been ignored in the British colonial era, oppressed to the degree that recording technology didn’t even arrive on the island until the late 1950s. This was coincident with Jamaica’s emergence as an independent country in 1963, and music very quickly became the entire expression of the nation’s new identity.

Jamaica turned out to be a hotbed of musical talent. Within a decade its extraordinary musicians created three musical genres soon known worldwide: ska, rocksteady, and reggae. Five decades later these infectious beats continue to influence almost all of today’s pop genres. But, to me, an even more profound aspect of this music was its lyrical content. Up until the mid-70s Jamaica’s literacy rate was around 20%, and so records soon became Jamaica’s unofficial national newspaper. Since there was no corporate music industry governing content, recording artists were free to talk about anything they wanted. Many records excoriated Jamaica’s history of slavery and colonialism, or directly confronted current social evils. 

A more significant long term effect of this artistic license was that it gave voice to that long suppressed underclass of Jamaican people who adhered to the spirital beliefs often referred to as Rastafarianism. A powerful blend of African spiritual practices and the Old Testament, this endemic spirituality gave reggae music its sense of purpose, propelling Rasta artists like Bob Marley and Burning Spear to international stardom. Years later, this Rasta Livity (practice) informed almost all the music heard this weekend at SNWMF, forming a communal bond with the many attendees who, to varying degrees, shared its values. 

As usual the festival presented a curated lineup comprised of original “foundation” artists (Burning Spear, Johnny Clarke, Derrick Morgan), established kingpins of the current scene (Luciano, Tarrus Riley, Beres Hammond) and up-and-comers (Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Kumar and the Original Fyah). Most of these artists, particularly the younger ones, performed the kind of “arena reggae” established years ago by Bob Marley. Their sets were very professionally delivered in a smooth style tailored to the international audience. There were a lot of dancers filling the eastern thirty yards of the Anderson Arena. For the rest of the crowd the music provided pleasant ambience as they ate, socialized and socialized some more.

I’m not saying this dismissively, the music was really nice. One of the wonderful things that Warren Smith established was a tradition of bringing forgotten artists back into the limelight. Many of these performers had fallen onto hard times – there’s no Social Security in Jamaica (one artist told me that he was grateful for the invitation because it finally allowed him to buy a used car). I particularly enjoyed the performance of Derrick Morgan, whose first hit record was in 1961. Now 83, blind and wheelchair bound but with voice and stagecraft intact, Derrick connected immediately with the audience, bringing great joy as he rose partway from his chair while singing “Conquering Ruler”. I also enjoyed watching Norma Fraser, who also had her first Jamaican hit in 1961. A lively septuagenarian now living in Oregon, she delivered a very spirited set of rude boy classics like the Maytals’ “Pressure Drop”. 

For me, the best performance was delivered by the 70s hitmaker Johnny Clarke, especially his biting rendition of the apocalyptic "None Shall Escape". But there were many other candidates. I should also mention the renowned Malian griot Bassekou Kouyate, whose performance was rated by festival MC Steve Heilig as being “in the top ten of the hundreds I’ve seen here”.

When I asked people what they liked most about the Festival the most common response was some variation of “the people”, or, “the community”. The majority of these folks had been coming to SNWMF for years, many from out of state or abroad. The festival had been in abeyance for five years, and appeared unlikely to return due to the untimely death of the festival’s founding visionary Warren Smith, concomitant with the huge national trauma caused by the COVID pandemic. It all seemed to be too much. 

Thus it was a very happy surprise when Gretchen Smith and her team announced this year’s return to Boonville. The audience also had gone through some very hard years, many experiencing declines in their economic and health status. And so the rebirth of the Festival also represented a collective rebirth, and a return to the ideals represented by the music. That’s what it felt like to me anyway. And to everyone else I spoke with, like veteran observer Larry Hacken, host of Mendo’s longstanding local reggae radio show Heavyweight Sounds (KZYX-FM): “A Beautiful time. Like coming home to family. Impeccable musicianship and artistry. You couldn’t ask for more. People are happy. It’s paradise.”

(Dr. Michael Turner, a retired Mendocino County physician aka Dr. Sapatoo, is a longtime reggae fanatic and co-author of “Roots Knotty Roots: The Discography of Jamaican Music.”)

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SAVANNAH’S (Logan) “celebration of life” will be on Saturday, July 1st at Barra in Redwood Valley at 1:00pm. To those who have offered to help, please contact us at the number below, and I will let you know what you can help us with. (707) 391-8614. Thank you all. I hope to see you there to celebrate our sweet girl. (Sarah Summit)

THE 128 CORRIDOR, off which sits my acre in central Boonville, has been billed as “the next Napa Valley” for 40 years, as if there is something alluring about becoming the Napa Valley. Lately, the Anderson Valley is advertised as “the unhurried Napa Valley,” but the Napa Valley remains the wine tourist's gold standard. We certainly get more than our share of Range Rover people moving around town in vacant-eyed shoals slurping ice cream cones. Why it seems like only yesterday Boonville was a fascinating human nexus of bar fights and unique rural pathologies, what with the hippies running straight into the rednecks, but soon to produce a whole new beast in the hipneck when the inevitable marriages between the two camps were consummated. So, what is there to see? Hendy Woods and Hendy Woods. People who live here and love it will truthfully say there's still community of sorts, but it's more a community of affinity groups than a community in the old sense of everybody knows and despises everybody else.

A FRIEND and I have talked about writing an insider’s guide to the Northcoast, but I wonder if there are enough people out there even interested in getting more than a half an hour away from a Big Mac. As bereft as Ukiah is by most standards, there are several reasons for swooping in off the freeway. There’s the Mutt Hut, the Garden Cafe and my fave, the Windmills, an old school ham and eggs kinda place where the waitresses call everyone, “Hon.” If you drive real slow, or walk around town, there are some interesting old buildings in traditional form and some art deco jobs that make you curious about how they came to be, and a few truly unique structures that you wish you knew more about. I'd like to lure the ace photographer, Jeff Goll, to do a ride along with me some time for a photo essay on our county seat's most interesting buildings.

THE MAIN DRAG, and it is truly a drag, what with thanatoids lurching about. But out on the fringes of town there’s a very good vegetarian Chinese restaurant at what is now called the Buddhist Center but was once a State Hospital where the grounds and old California mission architecture are worth a dual eat and gawk visit; and there’s the Germain-Robin distillery, which used to be in the hills west of town but somewhere in Ukiah the world’s finest brandy is produced. I think they have a tasting and sales room in the post-industrial tin cluster of random enterprises near the Redwood Health Center. When they were producing their first batches of premium booze, they sent promotional bottles to the ava in gratitude for our praises, but now that they're big time, no more freebies.

AND THERE'S the Grace Hudson Museum, which is certainly worth a visit. Grace herself was a late 19th, early 20th century painter, and a pretty good one. A little heavy on the happy papooses, but good at catching one reality of that time, which was not a happy time for Indians anywhere, and certainly not in Mendocino County. The basic prob with Ukiah, and thousands of similarly-sized towns in our battered country is that the money people have withdrawn from public participation. Prior to World War Two, Ukiah was a pretty and coherent little town whose money people took great pride in what their town looked like. No more.

WILLITS. There used to be a very fine chocolate-maker in Willits but she’s long retired, but remaining is a truly wondrous comic, music and used book store called the Book Juggler, a fine little good food store called Mariposa Market, which is a terrific food vendor where you can also get the best soup in all of Mendocino County outside the County Jail where, for some peculiar reason the soup is superb. It certainly was superb the last time I was housed there, anyway. In Willits, there’s also a nifty little coffee shop called Hava Java. Willits is quite pleasant since its liberation by a freeway bypass that skirts town to the east. The County museum is worth a visit after years of neglect, as is the next door train exhibit. 

I HAVEN'T VISITED the North County in some time, or Covelo, the latter one of the most beautiful valleys in the state, and home to the Buckhorn, an exciting bar that gets more exciting as the evening ages. In the summer months, there are some wonderful swimming holes in the Eel, along which runs Highway 162. Also, if you've never done it, Highway 162, which bisects Covelo, runs up and over the Mendocino Pass to Willows and I-5, a beautiful drive with austere campsites not far off the road in the Mendocino National Forest. The kind of people who haul their whole house with them wherever they go seldom make it to Covelo, probably because they can’t get cell reception on their cells. You will be undisturbed.

IF I WERE planning a trip to Mendoland, I’d avoid the village of Mendocino because it has been totally ruined by speculators and shlock merchants, but keep on going north ten miles to Fort Bragg where the harbor is interesting, and the town retains its traditional mill town — stop me before I write “charm” — retains its “real place” feel. The old Haul Road bordering the Pacific is a rare amenity. Where else can you find miles of bracing seashore vistas and unvisited beaches? For you gastro-maniacs, Fort Bragg also has a bunch of very good, reasonably priced restaurants, including some fine seafood specialty places in the harbor.

AFTER FORT BRAGG, I’d head on up the Coast for your basic ocean vistas all the way up Highway One through Westport, with its fine old hotel, then swing east to Laytonville over the mostly unpaved Branscomb Road, which climbs high enough for some instructive views of before and after forests — before and after clearcutting. For the comprehensive logging blitz show, the adventurous can drive the Sherwood Road east out of Fort Bragg, arriving eventually at Willits. If the road is open. Four-wheel drive recommended. (I've managed to get stuck out there twice over the years and, one time, had to foot it all the way back into Fort Bragg, the other time some wandering Fort Bragg youngsters pulled me out with their fully equipped, tank-like gro-dozer.)

G-P AND L-P totally destroyed an area of twenty miles of Sherwood between Fort Bragg and Willits. The road is impassable in winter and in the summer you are likely to encounter Deliverance types commuting to their crank labs. I don’t drive that road without a gun handy.

POINT ARENA is still relatively unspoiled, but south of PA there’s the Sea Ranch — identical multi-million dollar redwood boxes in a setting like a giant golf course and huge homes out on the bluffs that look like Wayne Newton lives in them. Gualala is Ukiah strung out along the Pacific.

ELK is an oddly oppressive little place as you can tell from its purple buildings, always the tipoff that the feebleminded have assumed the civic reins. The town is dominated by former hippies who have gotten heavily into New Age. The Elk Store is a little jewel of a country market with really good food to go. The Postmistress is a normal person as are the Matsons who run the garage. Otherwise, don’t talk to strangers. The typical Elk resident exudes a kind of social nerve gas, paralyzing the unwary with fake niceness and lunatic theology. I'd stopped drinking just as Bobby Beacon's nationally famous Beacon Light Bar got rolling, written up in the New York Times as among the best dive bars in the country. I still intend to get over there for at least a Coca-Cola. The Beacon Light is south of Elk a bit, up on the hill overlooking the ocean. Mr. Beacon is the bar's famous and eponymous proprietor who, I'm told, is an unforgettable raconteur as he serves up generous drinks at ruinously low prices. 

MENDOCINO COUNTY is an interesting place, but the tourism people aren’t paid to tell you about what sets the county apart. All you hear from them is winery winery winery. Seen one, seen 'em all.

DANIELLE STEEL: “There's no style, nobody dresses up—you can't be chic there [San Francisco]. It's all shorts and hiking books—it's as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip. I don't think people really care how they look there.” Or anywhere, really. I remember when women, including my mother, would not go downtown without hats and gloves. The men all wore suits and fedoras.

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No work will occur on the south side of the project (Mill to Cherry) until about August.

On Monday, construction crews will be placing a new water main at the culvert at Gibson Creek. Then, on Tuesday, work to replace the sewer lines will begin at Norton and State and will progress southward. While work is occurring in the intersection at Norton and State, Norton will be closed to traffic between State and Main.

Sewer work will continue into the middle of July. (Currently, replacement of the sewer lines on the 100 block of Scott Street is scheduled for middle of July.) Remember that this section of State Street (formerly Highway 101) is constructed out of concrete, which is slowing work down a bit. It is also significantly noisier. Sorry! We wish there was an easy, quiet way to do this work.

Where will the work occur? Sewer work (trenching, etc.) will occur on North State Street, starting at the north end (Norton) and progressing south.

What are the construction days/hours? Construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Will there be dust and noise? Yes. There will be some dust and fairly significant noise while trenching and breaking up concrete.

Will there be any disruptions to parking access or streets? Yes. On-street parking in the construction zone will be closed. Driveways and pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained at all times. Through traffic on State Street will be allowed in both directions, though the travel lanes may be pushed a bit toward the west side of the street. While work is occurring in the intersection of Norton and State, Norton Street will be closed to traffic between State and Main.

More information can be found online on the City’s website at; plus, follow our Facebook page for updates and project photos at

Have a great weekend!

Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah

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Autumn Faber <>

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Route 1, Elk Creek (Jeff Goll)

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A Las Vegas-based defendant who slipped into Mendocino County in September 2020 disguised with others as law enforcement officers to ambush two Southern California marijuana money couriers (traveling to Covelo on Highway 162 with almost $700,000 in U.S. currency) resolved his case at the end of May and appeared Friday morning, June 23rd, for sentencing. 

Defendant Nathan John Vargas, now 42 years of age, of Las Vegas, Nevada, stands convicted by plea of carjacking, a felony. Vargas also admitted a sentencing enhancement that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm during the commission of the crime.

Pursuant to Penal Code section 215, the statute which defines California’s carjacking law (which is an aggravated form of robbery), it is illegal to take a vehicle and its contents from another person by means of force or fear. The term “force or fear” means physical violence or threats of harm.

The defendant ultimately accepted the prosecutor’s one and only offer mandating a state prison sentence of twenty-five (25) years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to fully resolve his participation in the ambush/kidnappng. 

As part of the disposition package, defendant Vargas also waived his appellate rights and all pre-sentence good time/work time credits that he normally would have “earned” from sitting in jail awaiting trial, meaning approximately two and two-thirds years’ worth of credits.

Nathan John Vargas

Given this defendant’s long-term health deficits resulting from a botched suicide attempt, vis-à-vis shooting himself in the head (instead of surrendering to the Sheriff’s approaching Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit), it is believed that Vargas will be housed at a state prison medical facility, such as the California Health Care Facility (CHCF) in Stockton or the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville.

Furthermore, as the defendant’s crime and use of a firearm are characterized as violent by the California Penal Code, the early release credit defendant Vargas may attempt to earn beginning Friday and moving forward while he is in state prison is capped by current state law at no more than 15 percent of the overall sentence, meaning he should be required by prison authorities to serve 21.25 years of his 25-year sentence, absent deductions, if any, made by prison authorities due to any in-custody violations of prison rules.

The law enforcement and other agencies that assisted in the initial response and follow-on investigation were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, the Ukiah Police Department, MedStar Ambulance, the Potter Valley Fire Department, the Las Vegas Police Department, the FBI, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigation. 

The attorney who has been handling the prosecution of this defendant from December 2020 to the present is District Attorney David Eyster.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan accepted the defendant’s change of plea and admission in late May. Judge Shanahan also presided over what turned out to be a relatively short sentencing hearing Friday morning given the final result was a stipulated outcome.

(DA Presser)

* * *

JOHN REDDING: A song, it is said, is a story elevated by music. With that in mind, I created a show called Back Stories, A Musical Conversation. I introduce each song with its backstory -- the meaning of the song, the musical arrangement, and interesting facts about it.

The list of songs is given below. It includes some new songs I composed to tell stories about life on the Mendocino coast. The newest is Highway 128. 

Here is the list of songs which I will be performing at the Noyo River Grill at its new location this Sunday June 25th from 5 to 8 pm. They will feed you and I will entertain you. 

Back Stories, A Musical Conversation

With a Little Help

Here Comes the Sun

Folsom Prison Blues

Hey Good Looking

Country Roads/Comptche

This Ole Riverboat

Don’t think twice

You've Got To Hide


A Day in The Life

Nights in White Satin

The Song of the Ocean

Highway 128

Home Office Blues

Boogie Woogie Daisy

Before I Met You

Time in a Bottle

In My Life



Whiskey in the Jar

Galway Girl

Orange and the Green

Star of County Down

Danny Boy

The Parting Glass

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* * *


Adventist Health Ukiah Valley will be hosting a Hiring Event to help fill many clinical and non-clinical positions available currently.

The hiring event will be held on Thursday, June 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center at 200 S. School St., in Ukiah.

During the event, applicants can visit with leaders and hiring managers to learn about job opportunities, whether they are an experienced healthcare professional or looking to get started in their healthcare career. The hiring team will help candidates with filling out applications, will be doing interviews and make offers on the spot for qualified candidates.

The organization is looking to fill critical positions such as registered nurses, customer service associates, certified medical assistants, imaging technicians, and physical therapists.

The hospital and affiliated clinics, is one of the largest employers in the county, treating more than 30,000 patients in the emergency room, performing more than 5,000 surgical procedures, delivering nearly 850 babies, and performing over 43,000 radiology tests annually.

"We look forward to meeting potential candidates and filling these critical roles so we can continue to care for our community. Working in healthcare, especially in a rural community brings a unique sense of fulfilment and connection because we're caring for our own friends and neighbors. We are excited to connect with community members and make them part of our team," shares Dave Leighton, administrator for Adventist Health Ukiah Valley.

Adventist Health offers competitive wages, flexible schedules, excellent benefits, and a supportive team environment. Applicants are advised to bring a resume, licenses and certifications relevant to the role they are interested in, and any other information they hope to share with hiring managers.

For more information on job opportunities, contact Jolee White at 707-963-6588, or visit

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, June 23, 2023

Bettencourt, Bombino, Boughton, Britton

CURTIS BETTENCOURT, Fort Bragg. Under influence, county parole violation, resisting.

GUILLERMO BOMBINO, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

KYLE BOUGHTON, Ukiah. Contact with minor with intent to commit lewd act.


Campbell, Chrisman, Essex

LEONARD CAMPBELL JR., Hopland. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

CHEYENNE CHRISMAN, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic battery, resisting.

BREANNA ESSEX, Willits. Battery, failure to appear.

Groves, Harnett, Kester

DOUGLAS GROVES, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Burglary, grossly negligent discharge of firearm.

JESSE HARNETT, Ukiah. Battery, probation revocation.

ADAM KESTER, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent.

Lewis, Rendon, Smith

JORDAN LEWIS, Covelo. Protective order violation.

JAVIER RENDON-GARCIA, Ukiah. Lewd/lascivious acts on child under 14 years of age.

GUNNAR SMITH, Santa Rosa/Piercy. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen vehicle.

* * *

MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show all night tonight!

Dang it, I have a cold. I'm weary, my eyeballs and teeth and finger joints hurt. I periodically get a little warning and then break down in sneezing and coughing. Mild fever of 100(F). I used to get sick like twice a year or so, then covid came and I washed my hands a little bit more than usual and avoided touching my nose or rubbing my eyes, and wore a paper mask everywhere in public. So three-plus years went by and I didn't get sick. Now nobody's wearing a mask anywhere anymore, including the sad checkout guy in the grocery store coughing on his hands and handling everyone's food. I forgot to put on my mask a few times. I got allergies and rubbed my eyes. Who knows where it came from, but now I have to start counting all over again for the next health streak. It has been zero days since my last cold.

I don't know what kind of a job I'll be able to do on my show tonight, but I'll do the best I can, and just sign off early if it gets too hard. Or I could start a really long set of music going, set an alarm and take a nap. Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage? or Thing Fish? We'll see.

Fuzzy deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is circa 6pm. If you can't make that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week. There's no pressure on you.

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am PST on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as via Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other arguably even more terrific shows.

Furthermore, any day or night you can go to and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put up the recording of tonight's show. And besides all that, there you'll find buttons to push and fidgety things to fidget with until showtime, or any time, such as:

Chinese bicycle graveyards. Unwanted bicycles on a huge scale, often sorted by color. (via b3ta)

Meanwhile: “Okay, let's roll up our sleeves and make some money with A.I.-generated Asian girls.” “It's simple: this is like when people are making pasta, and they keep feeding the dough through the pasta thing until it looks more and more like pasta.”

And liminal spaces of Looney Tunes. Are these landscapes dreamlike because seeing them informed our dreams? Or because they're universal and the artists drew from their dreams? Or both. Both, maybe.

Marco McClean,,

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Merry Pranksters & the Furthur Bus (1965)

* * *


Address at Free Speech Event in London, with Russell Brand and Michael Shellenberger

by Matt Taibbi

A funny thing happened last night, at a remarkable event in London in celebration of free speech with Russell Brand and Michael Shellenberger. Before the proceedings Michael suggested we give prepared remarks. I wrote a speech, tinkering with it at night on the plane over, then all day after landing. At the event Michael stood before the large crowd and extemporaneously delivered a rousing address. I slid what I wrote under a chair.

Though I did end up mumbling a few things from memory, this is the whole speech, as written:

* * *

It’s heartening to see so many faces here in London, to talk about the crisis of free speech around the globe, or to protest censorship, or whatever it is we’re doing exactly. Before we begin, I think it’s important to make a distinction. Unlike Russell and the rest of our hosts, Michael and I, and a few of us in the crowd, are Americans. For us, belief in unfettered free speech is a core part of our character. It’s a big reason that we Americans enjoy the wonderful reputation we do all around the world, especially here in Europe, where (I’m sorry to tell you) we hear you whispering to the restaurant hostess that you’d like to be seated at the table as far away from us as possible.

That was meant to be a laugh line, but in some ways, that’s what the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution comes down to: the right to be an asshole. We have a prettier way of saying it — a right to petition for a redress of grievances — but it’s the same basic idea.

Isn’t that a beautiful phrase, a redress of grievances? Great, memorable language. Like a lot of Americans, I know the First Amendment by heart. I’ve recited it to myself enough to know it doesn’t say the government gives me the right to speech, assembly, a free press. It says I have those things, already. As a person, as a citizen.

This is a very American thing, the idea that rights aren’t conferred, but a part of us, like our livers, and you can’t take them away without destroying who we are. That’s why in other contexts you’ll hear some of us say things like, “I’ll give you this gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”

Some people roll their eyes and think that sounds crazy, but we know that guy actually means it, and to a lot of us it makes sense. We’re touchy about rights, especially about the first ones: speech, assembly, religion, the free press.

But we’re not here tonight to debate the virtues of American speech law versus the European tradition. Instead, Michael and I are here to tell a horror story that concerns people from all countries. Last year, he and I were offered a unique opportunity to look at the internal documentation of Twitter.

I entered that story lugging old-fashioned, legalistic, American views about rights, hoping to answer maybe one or two questions. Had the FBI, for instance, ever told the company what to do in a key speech episode? If so, that would be a First Amendment violation. Big stuff!

But after looking at thousands of emails and Slack chats, I first started to get a headache, then became confused. I realized the old-school Enlightenment-era protections I grew up revering were designed to counter authoritarianism as people understood the concepts hundreds of years ago, back in the days of tri-cornered hats and streets lined with horse manure.

What Michael and I were looking at was something new, an Internet-age approach to political control that uses brute digital force to alter reality itself. We certainly saw plenty of examples of censorship and de-platforming and government collaboration in those efforts. However, it’s clear that the idea behind the sweeping system of digital surveillance combined with thousands or even millions of subtle rewards and punishments built into the online experience, is to condition people to censor themselves.

In fact, after enough time online, users will lose both the knowledge and the vocabulary they would need to even have politically dangerous thoughts. What Michael calls the Censorship-Industrial Complex is really just the institutionalization of orthodoxy, a vast, organized effort to narrow our intellectual horizons. 

It’s appropriate that we’re here in London speaking about this, because this is the territory of George Orwell, who predicted a lot of what we saw in the Twitter Files with depressing accuracy.

One example stands out.

One of the big themes of 1984 was the reduction of everything to simple binaries. He described a world where “all ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged,” where it wasn’t really necessary to have words for both “warm” and “cold,” since as he put it, “every word in the language – could be negatived by adding the affix un-.”

Let’s not bother with cold, let’s just have unwarm.

A political movement has long been afoot in America and other places to reduce every political question to simple binaries. As Russell knows, current political thought doesn’t like the idea that there can be left-neoliberalism over here, and right-Trumpism over here, and then also all sorts of people who are neither – in between, on the peripheries, wherever.

They prefer to look at it as, “Over here are people who are conscientious and believe in science and fairness and democracy and puppies, and then everyone else is a right-winger.” This is how you get people with straight faces calling Russell Brand a right-winger.

But it goes deeper. Michael and I found correspondence in Twitter about something called the Virality Project, which was a cross-platform, information-sharing program led by Stanford University through which companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook shared information about Covid-19.

They compared notes on how to censor or deamplify certain content. The ostensible mission made sense, at least on the surface: it was to combat “misinformation” about the pandemic, and to encourage people to get vaccinated. When we read the communications to and from Stanford, we found shocking passages.

One suggested to Twitter that it should consider as “standard misinformation on your platform… stories of true vaccine side effects… true posts which could fuel hesitancy” as well as “worrisome jokes” or posts about things like “natural immunity” or “vaccinated individuals contracting Covid-19 anyway.”

This is straight out of Orwell. Instead of having “ambiguities” and “shades of meaning” on Covid-19, they reduced everything to a binary: vax and anti-vax.

They eliminated ambiguities by looking into the minds of users. In the Virality Project if a person told a true story about someone developing myocarditis after getting vaccinated, even if that person was just telling a story – even if they weren't saying, “The shot caused the myocarditis” – the Virality Project just saw a post that may “promote hesitancy.”

So, this content was true, but politically categorized as anti-vax, and therefore misinformation – untrue.

A person who talks about being against vaccine passports may express support for the vaccine elsewhere, but the Virality Project believed “concerns” about vaccine passports were driving “a larger anti-vaccination narrative,” so in this way, a pro-vaccine person may be anti-vax. They also wrote that such “concerns” inspired broader discussions “about the loss of rights and freedoms,” also problematic.

Other agencies talked about posts that shared results of Freedom of Information searches on “authoritative health sources” like Dr. Anthony Fauci, or used puns like “Fauxi.” The VP frowned on this.

“This continual process of seeding doubt and uncertainty in authoritative voices,” wrote Graphika, in a report sent to Twitter, “leads to a society that finds it too challenging to identify what’s true or false.”

It was the same with someone who shared true research about the efficacy of natural immunity or suggested that the virus came from a lab. It all might be factual, but it was politically inconvenient, something they called “malinformation.” In the end, out of all of these possible beliefs, they derived a 1984 binary: good and ungood.

They also applied the binary to people.

This was new. Old-school speech law punished speech, not the speaker. As a reporter I was trained that if I commit libel, if I wrote something defamatory that caused provable injury to someone, I would have to retract the error, admit it, apologize, and pay remuneration. All fair! But the court case wouldn’t target me as a person. It wouldn’t assume that because I was wrong about X, I would also be wrong about Y, and Z.

We saw NGOs and agencies like the FBI or the State Department increasingly targeting speakers, not speech. The Virality Project brought up the cases of people like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The posts of such “repeat offenders,” they said, are “almost always reportable.” They encouraged content moderators to make assumptions about people, and not to look on a case-by-case basis. In other words, they saw good and ungood people, and the ungood were “almost always reportable.”

Over and over we saw algorithms trying to electronically score a person’s good-or-ungoodness. We found a Twitter report that put both Wikileaks and Green Party candidate Jill Stein in a Twitter “denylist” – that’s a blacklist that makes it harder for people to see or search for your posts. They were put on a denylist called is_Russian because an algorithm determined she had too many beliefs that coincided with banned people, especially Russian banned people.

We saw the same thing in reports from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. They would identify certain accounts they claimed were Russian operatives, and then identify others as “highly connective” or “Russia-linked,” part of Russia’s “information ecosystem.” This is just a fancy way of saying “guilt by association.” The technique roped in everyone from a Canadian website called Global Research to former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and former Italian Democratic Party Secretary Nicola Zingaretti.

If you apply these techniques fifty million, a hundred million, a billion times, or a billion billion times, people will soon learn to feel how certain accounts are deamplified, and others are not. They will self-sort and self-homogenize.

Even when Twitter doesn’t remove an account if the FBI recommends it, or passes along a request from Ukrainian intelligence to remove someone like Grayzone journalist Aaron Mate, users start to be able to guess where that line between good and ungood is.

One last note. As Michael and I found out recently with regard to the viral origin story, things deemed politically good often turn out to be untrue, and things deemed ungood turn out to be true.

I can recite a list if need be, but many news stories authorities were absolutely sure about yesterday later proved totally incorrect. This is another characteristic Orwell predicted: doublethink.

He defined doublethink as “the act of holding, simultaneously, two opposite, individually exclusive ideas or opinions and believing in both simultaneously and absolutely.”

Not long ago we were told in no uncertain terms the Russians blew up their own Nord Stream pipeline, that they were the only suspect. Today the U.S. government is telling us it has known since last June that Ukrainian forces planned it, with the approval of the highest military officials. But we’re not expected to say anything. We’re expected to forget.

What happens to a society that doesn’t square its mental books when it comes to facts, truth, errors, propaganda and so on? There are only a few options. Some people will do what some of us in this room have done: grow frustrated and angry, mostly in private. Others have tried to protest by frantically cataloging the past.

Most however do what’s easiest for mental survival. They learn to forget. This means living in the present only. Whatever we’re freaking out about today, let’s all do it together. Then when things change tomorrow, let’s not pause to think about the change, let’s just freak out about that new thing. The facts are dead! Long live the new facts!

We’re building a global mass culture that sees everything in black and white, fears difference, and abhors memory. It’s why people can’t read books anymore and why, when they see people like Russell who don’t fit into obvious categories, they don’t know what to do except point and shriek, like extras in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

We have been complaining about censorship, and it’s important to do that. But they are taking aim at people in a way that will make censorship unnecessary, by building communities of human beings with no memory and monochrome perception. This is more than a speech crisis. It’s a humanity crisis. I hope we’re not too late to fix it.

* * *

ON JUNE 18, 2021, a new street in Franklin was dedicated to a beloved local trailblazer, A.N.C. Williams. 

Allen Nevils Crutcher Williams was born into slavery in Spring Hill, Tenessee in 1844. When he was six, he was sold to D.R. Crutcher and moved to Franklin. As a child, he taught himself to read and write by tracing scraps of paper, though this was prohibited by law. His last owner, Capt. Andrew Jackson Williams (CSA), taught him to read and write formally. This enabled him to study the Bible and even to teach school in the 1870s.

In 1863, Williams opened a shoe repair business in downtown Franklin. This shop was severely damaged during the Battle of Franklin in 1864. He then purchased prime real estate on Main Street, constructed a building, and opened a general merchandise store which he operated for sixty-four years, selling to both black and white patrons, despite Jim Crow laws. That building still stands today. Williams contributed to the settlement and development of the Natchez Street neighborhood, making it possible for fellow African Americans to acquire property. This area formed a nucleus of the African American community in Franklin. He helped establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a school for African American children. He also served as a founding member and pastor of the Cummins Street Church of Christ. This church still stands on land purchased and donated by Williams.

When A.N.C. Williams died in 1930, his obituary was printed on the Franklin Review-Appeal’s front page, an uncommon tribute in the Depression-era South. His funeral was held in the predominantly white Fourth Avenue Church because Cummins Street Christian Church could not accommodate the great volume of mourners, black and white. A.N.C. Williams was laid to rest in Toussaint L’Overture Cemetery, less than a block from the street which today bears his name.

* * *


by James Kunstler

“In the wake of the Hunter Biden sweetheart plea deal, calling D.C. a swamp is an insult to swamps and frankly to all wetlands in general. We need to redefine the Clean Water Act to include all Biden adjacent areas.” — Margot Cleveland, Lawyer and legal analyst

I hope you agree this has been an instructive week for our republic, sinking to the bottom as fast as the Titan submersible on its way to consort with its grandmama, the RMS Titanic. Here’s what I learned, for instance, from Special Counsel John Durham’s visit to the House Judiciary Committee: When asked why he did not seek grand jury testimony from the primary culprits in the Russia Collusion hoax — Comey, McCabe, and Strzok — he told the room it would have been “unproductive” because they habitually claimed to “not recall” anything when testifying in Congress.

That’s an interesting legal theory. If it is so, we must suppose that any witness in a criminal inquiry may decline testifying on the grounds of claiming a defective memory. I’m not a lawyer, of course, but is it not the case that witnesses can be prompted to recall events when presented with evidence? E.g., “…here is your smartphone text of July 29 saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll stop him [Trump].’ What means did you have in mind to accomplish that, Mr. Strzok?”

In the four-year lead-up to his personal appearance in the House, many of us were fooled into thinking Mr. Durham was a serious dude. (I sure was.) Turns out the ferocious facial hair masked a rather timorous persona. Mr. Durham apparently did not dare test the boundaries of the narrow lane laid out in the scoping directives set forth by then Attorney General Barr. Mr. D. did find a line of criminal conduct between Lawfare artist Michal Sussmann, the Fusion GPS disinfo company, the DC law firm Perkins Coie, and candidate Hillary MyTurn in the creation and marketing of the Steele Dossier — yet he never called Hillary to do any ‘splainin about it (or anything else she did in 2016). Weird, a little bit.

While his omissions and missteps were spotlighted by the Republican members, Mr. Durham was mugged, kicked to the curb, stomped, and peed-on by the committee Democrats, who still labor to prop-up the dead-letter Russia Collusion fraud against all evidence and reason. As usual, the lead attack dog on that was Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). He was rewarded the next day with a censure vote for seven years of shameless lying about said fraud, and stripped of his seat on the House Intel Committee, which he used, as then-chairman, to launch Trump Impeachment #1 in 2019 with fake “whistleblower” (and CIA goblin) Eric Ciaramella, whom Mr. Schiff naturally lied about never meeting prior to the proceeding.

We are treated in these twilight months of the “Joe Biden” regime to a cavalcade of revelations laying out the degeneracy of a federal justice system at war with the American people and its shady machinations in service to the Biden family global bribery operation. Late Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), released the affidavit of IRS supervisory special agent Gary Shapley from testimony given in closed session May 26. It disclosed a concerted program by the DOJ to impede, obstruct, delay, divert, and bury a massive tax evasion and fraud case against Hunter Biden, involving millions of dollars garnered from foreign persons and entities for no discernible services performed in return.

I am alleging, with evidence…” Mr. Shapley testified under oath, “…whatever the motivations, at every stage decisions were made that had the effect of benefiting the subject of the investigation. These decisions included slow-walking investigative steps, not allowing enforcement actions to be executed, limiting investigators’ line of questioning for witnesses, misleading investigators on charging authority, delaying any and all actions months before [the 2020] elections to ensure the investigation did not go overt well before policy memorandum mandated the pause.”

Hunter Biden was code-named “Sportsman” as the case opened in 2018. Red flags in bank transfer records of Hunter B and associates involving millions of dollars triggered the IRS inquiry. It wasn’t until a year later that Hunter’s laptop turned up, crammed with deal memos of bribes paid along with vivid documentary evidence of sex and drug crimes. The FBI verified its authenticity in November of 2019 by matching the device number against Hunter Biden’s Apple iCloud ID.

By the way, note that this was the exact same time that the House Intel Committee under chairman Adam Schiff commenced its impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. AG William Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray therefore knew then that Hunter’s laptop existed and that it contained evidence of suspicious money transactions with Russia, China, and most particularly Ukraine — since Mr. Trump’s impeachment case was based on a telephone query he made to Ukrainian President, Zelensky, regarding the Biden family’s operations there. Neither Mr. Barr nor Mr. Wray alerted Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the evidence contained in the laptop — which would have provided exculpatory proof of a reasonable motive for Mr. Trump’s phone call. How was that not an obstruction of justice?

Mr. Shapley’s testimony is just one thread in the much larger tapestry of Biden family corruption now achieving clarity. Rep. James Comer’s Oversight Committee continues on its deep dive into the Biden family bank transfer records — with its evidence of money laundering through Biden shell company cut-outs — and the direct voice recording evidence of “Joe Biden” discussing his family’s financial arrangements with Petro Poroshenko, then-president of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, plus other damning evidence connected to a “trusted” (and well-paid) FBI human confidential source in the much fought over FD-1023 document recently surrended to the Oversight Committee.

In short, the tide is going out even as the sun sets on “Joe Biden” as President. He and his handlers may believe they enjoy the protection of a compliant news media, but even that has its limits. Impeachment is coming, even if not as fast as Rep. Lauren Boebert wants it to, and if and when it does, there will be no ignoring the stark presentation of hard evidence — no matter how much MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid snorts and cackles.

Meanwhile, please understand that “Joe Biden” is only pretending to run for reelection and his party is pretending along with him just for the present desperate moment. Before long, their whole reeking, creaking edifice of lies and bad faith will come crashing down. Joe Biden will have to resign or the nation will be treated to the spectacle, this time, of a trial in the senate for real cause, bribery and treason, not just fake animus. And then, not even Gavin Newsom will be able to save the Democratic Party in its present alignment and foul habits. If it survives at all, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will have to rebuild it from the ground up and expel the demons infesting it.

* * *

German stowaway photographed at Ellis Island by Augusts F. Sherman, 1911

* * *


The outspoken head of the Russian private military group Wagner accused Moscow's military leadership of killing a "huge amount" of its mercenaries in a strike on a camp and vowed to retaliate. Russia's defense ministry denied the allegation.

Ukraine claimed it "firmly repulsed" Russian forces who targeted positions in the east of the country. Meanwhile, government officials stressed Kyiv's counteroffensive will take time as Western officials told CNN that it was “not meeting expectations.”

Damage to the Chonhar bridge that crosses into Crimea – which Russian officials said was hit by four missiles Thursday – was severe and it's currently not fit for use, according to a Russian-appointed official in the region.

At least three people were killed in Russian attacks in southern Ukraine on Friday, local officials said, including in the city of Kherson. The strikes came as Ukraine claimed "partial success" in parts of the southern front.


Wagner forces head to Moscow after making sinister threat to Putin - as tanks are spotted on highways and oil depot goes up in flames with warlord Prigozhin mocking Russian leader's call for 'traitors' to give themselves up. (Daily Mail)

* * *


  1. Bruce Anderson June 24, 2023

    Britain’s defence ministry said on Saturday that the Russian state was facing its greatest security challenge of recent times, following what it said appeared to be a move by Wagner Group forces towards Moscow.

    “Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how this crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” Britain’s defence ministry said in a regular intelligence update. (Reuters)

    • Lazarus June 24, 2023

      The current Russian rebellion, in some circles, is being called the beginning of the end of the war in Ukraine, among other things.
      This morning on CNNs Smerconish, it was reported a well-armed caravan of military vehicles and men, known as the Wagner Group, is moving toward Moscow with the intent of regime change.
      Like all dictators, Putin promises all the traitors will suffer severe punishment, aka, shot on the spot.

      • George Hollister June 24, 2023

        The Wagner Group has been the only effective Russian fighting force in Ukraine.

    • Steve Heilig June 24, 2023

      Hiring heavily-armed professional maniacal mercenaries to slaughter innocent “subjects,” what could go wrong?

  2. George Hollister June 24, 2023


    The problem can be simply put, but is difficult to resolve. As an outsider looking in, it appears Mendocino County has a toxic work environment, in general, not just in the library. I have seen enough overt evidence of that, and had some private confirmation as well. First, the work environment is determined by who is in charge. That’s the simple part. But the county is in a pretty deep hole. That is the difficult part.

    There are successful city managers who, if hired, could turn things around. But even then, this will take time. There is a bad reputation to overcome, and a toxic work environment creates its own systemic problems. Good people know Mendocino County government under the Board of Supervisors is a place to stay away from. I believe this issue is the single biggest problem the Board is facing. The continuum of dysfunction will only get worse until the work environment is fixed. I don’t know if the current Board appreciates this or not, but they are where substantive change has to start. Right now I don’t see even a hint of that. And something else, more money won’t fix this problem, it never does.

    • Chuck Dunbar June 24, 2023

      George, you are exactly right on this issue, the main part of it the toxic residue left by the former CEO Angelo, autocrat and person of mean spirit that she was. She was an intimidating, untrustworthy presence who functioned on ego and power and control.The work environment was indeed “determined by who (was) in charge.” The toxicity was common knowledge throughout the work place, but most staff members were afraid to speak up, and just put their heads down and tried toget their work done. Their fear was a reasonable reaction, as we’ve seen from those who dared differ with Angelo and were trashed, with lawsuits resulting in some cases.

      I saw this degradation occur in the years before I retired. It was an education in how a bad leader can fuck-up an already imperfect work environment, even in the Social Services division where I worked. County Counsel and Human Resources to name two departments, at least at the top levels. were clearly affected, taking-on at least some of Angelo’s worst features. I could go on and on with examples of this damage, but will stop here

      Your last paragraph, George, is perfectly said, all true. Thank You, George, for your utter clarity.

    • Norm Thurston June 24, 2023

      Over many years, I saw competent professionals from other local governments hired by the County. Quite often the tenure of those people was fairly short. The institutional culture within the ranks has existed for a long time, and is not necessarily the fault of the current Board. To some extent, the Board itself is on the outside, looking in.

      • George Hollister June 24, 2023

        Norm, thanks for your valuable input. I agree, this is not the fault of the current Board, and they certainly appear to be on the outside looking in. I have to think what has happened to our county government is a result of our local tribal politics. Just look at what we have had for the last 40 years. The dominant black market economy is to blame as well. There is a big disconnection between voters, and what happens with county government. And the voters, essentially, don’t care. Instead we get Measure V, and the like.

        There are bright spots. We have a good elected Sheriff, and the last one was good as well. We have a good elected DA, the best in that position since I have been paying attention. We have a good mayor of Fort Bragg. We have a good CalFire unit chief, too. We also have some good candidates running for supervisor in the 1st District. We have good, capable people in Mendocino County in general, we just need to see some more of them step up.

      • Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

        I think it’s the Board and Executive branch’s inability to hire qualified workers and pay them well enough to stick around. Combine that with a lack of continuity from long time legacy workers to pass on their experience because they are pushed out, doesn’t help the situation either. No senior staff or Directors? What are they thinking?

        They seem to be thinking, from my opinion, “Just hire one good manager that can create a good management system”. Do they need any knowledge of that department? NOPE Do they need any background into the problems? NOPE Just more fresh fish to fry with fun ideas about how 1 person with a 6 figure salary can fix all the lack of good workers issue.

    • Marmon June 24, 2023

      “There are successful city managers who, if hired, could turn things around.”

      Alan “the kid” Flora?


    • Lazarus June 24, 2023

      When employing hindsight, Carmel Angelo may not have been all wrong. Sure, she ran the place with an iron hand and bent almost every rule or regulation to meet her means.
      But the machine ran for years under and during her regime.
      I remember hearing about her during a Measure B meeting. A person complained aloud about the then Sheriff’s agenda concerning the old Howard Hospital in Willits.
      Ms. Angelo quipped everyone in this room has an agenda, Dear. Get over it.
      Say what you wish, but she appeared to keep the place under control, whichever way you want to look at it.
      And now, with her having left the building, it appears no undisputed person or persons are in charge.
      When the Fu Manchu decorated County Council took Ms. Angelo’s chair at the table, it signaled trouble.
      The Chamise Cubbison. Auditor-Controller / Treasurer-Tax Collector mess, the cannabis ordinance debacle, the Nervous Nelly County Council spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on the so-called outside council experts for things he and his staff should handle in-house but apparently can not.
      And now this troublesome Director deal.
      Supervisor William may be on to something. Start taking out the garbage and get the house in order.
      Be well,

      • Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

        The Machine was not running well under Carmel’s dictatorship. People felt the same way as he Librarians feel about their micromanager damager of a boss, except people were too afraid to speak out. The management is still too afraid to show the employees feelings in the light of truth and transparency. Why do they keep us in the dark if they believe what they are doing is good? Because they know it’s wrong so they try to hide it from the public.

        I have a question for any legal experts out there… Is it legal for the county to use a public records request for “all county employees with the word “cannabis” in their emails”, use staff resources to single out “persons of special concern” based on that records request, and then approach those persons’ supervisors about it?

        asking for a friend ;)

        • Lazarus June 24, 2023

          Nobody said it ran well, but it did run…
          The point is, by doing nothing, instead of something this current batch may be worse than Ms. Angelo was.
          Be Well,

          • Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

            It’s not any worse, just a different type of bad.

            • Lazarus June 24, 2023

              Good, I’ve made my point.
              Thank you,

            • Chuck Dunbar June 24, 2023

              After all this discussion, I’ll come back to the main issue in Mark Scaramella’s piece today.

              A majority of Mendocino County’s library staff signed the petition of complaint regarding the new Director, Ms. Fader-Samson:

              “But since the arrival of the new Cultural Services Agency Director, staff has seen a dramatic change in the atmosphere and climate in the workplace. This has led to a dramatic drop in staff morale and has led some employees to leave. Here are some of the concerns that we have:”

              The clearly stated list of seriously problematic actions by this leader, and of the ensuing consequences to library functioning, then follows.

              This is the kind of calling for accountability and change that does not happen often in Mendocino County. It is a straight-forward, brave, even bold call for action by County management. We shall see if they can deal with it effectively and responsibly. The problem is now out in the open, maybe that will help force positive action.

              Gratitude to those staff—quiet, bookish librarians, who would have expected their courage?—for raising the issues and presenting their petition to management and the BOS. Good for you folks for standing-up for yourselves and for library services. Also thanks to the person who sent this document to the AVA for the good of the public, thanks for the intervention of SEIU and Patrick Hickey in support of staff, and thanks to Mark Scaramella for his piece.

              • Marmon June 24, 2023

                The Board will double down against the employees in this situation. This shit can’t be tolerated. “Kill it before it grows”. One of the allegations I was found guilty of at my State Personnel Board hearing was because I kept sending emails to the Board of Supervisors after I was ordered to stop. After I was so successful at the hearing, 50,000.00 for violation of the 14th amendment Carmel moved to the Civil Service Commission and away from the State rules, now they want to go back?

                Marmon (Former SEIU 1021 President)

                • Chuck Dunbar June 24, 2023

                  Three protective elements here: that SEIU is involved from the start, a that the petition is now in the public arena–that’s a big deal, and that there are numerous library staff–not just a couple–who signed the petition. Whatever the BOS tries to do will hopefully become public knowledge. I hope the BOS and management staff do the right thing here–listen to staff and remediate the problem. And I hope the BOS is not as mean as Angelo was…

                  • Stephen Rosenthal June 24, 2023

                    Don’t know about mean, but they’re corrupt and incompetent = a lethal (for the employees and taxpayers) outcome to be sure.

  3. Eric Sunswheat June 24, 2023

    RE: MENDOCINO COUNTY is an interesting place, but the tourism people aren’t paid to tell you about what sets the county apart. All you hear from them is winery winery winery. Seen one, seen ’em all. — ED NOTES

    —>. Back in dead of winter this year, I had the rare happenstance to view a SF Bay Area major TV station online for their internet news broadcast. Lo and behold there was a seemingly 30 second video ad, this one for Mendocino County tourism.

    I went to the website link, and found most of the website graphics and text dysfunctional, though not now remembering the specifics, except surprised that evidently expensive advertising would lead to this.

    There was a pop up box on the website when I chose to leave, to submit email address for a chance to win overnight accommodations on the coast.

    Later, over the span of a few weeks last month I had received 2 or 3 email inquiries as to how I liked the website and my probability to travel to Mendo, or something like that, possibly as I later realized being a gear up for the website promoters to glean more billable hours and County transit occupancy tax funding.

    Life is too short for tangential issues, and I have only so many fish to fry.

    • Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

      Yeah, what ever happened to all that Money the county was going to rake in from Coastal tourism taxes? I remember that workers couldn’t afford to live on the coast anymore, but the AIr BnBs were all full all the time. Weren’t the rich landlords supposed to compensate somehow? The rich can always pay lawyers to weasel out of paying their fare share. That’s the same reason toxic dumps and industry are built in poor neighborhoods.

      Pretty disgusting behaviors, but unfortunately predictable when you tell people Capitalism is great, and community is bad. Self interest and personal gain trump community goals. What ever happened to Public works of good by the rich? Carnegie libraries (now a Public TV station in WIllits), Rockafeller centers Murals, etc… Now it’s just personal phallis rockets to outerspace. “So long and thanks for all the shoes.” -NOFX

  4. Sarah Kennedy Owen June 24, 2023

    Thank you for mentioning the vegan restaurant in Talmage as a Ukiah attraction. The restaurant at the “Buddhist Center” (actually called City of 10,000 Buddhas or just CTTB) is called Jyun K’ang and is only open for lunch. It is also extremely popular, so if you arrive at peak hour (about 12:00 to 1:30) you may have to wait a while, especially on weekends. As for driving around the property to check out the Tudor-style buildings and park-like grounds, please be aware that it is a monastery, university, and elementary and high school, i.e, there are pedestrians and caution should be taken to stay at or below 15 – 25 mph. Also drinking and smoking are not allowed on the premises. If you plan on looking around, you will be encouraged to check in at the administration building. There is a very minimal dress code, no sleeveless shirts or shorts or short skirts. It is not severely pursued, but is recommended. People do visit from all over the Bay Area, so CTTB is used to seeing new faces, and welcomes visitors as long as they are respectful of the rules. I think many people who dine at the restaurant then walk around the grounds, as many of the roads that lead to residential areas are limited to residents.

  5. Mike J June 24, 2023

    The Senate Select Cmt on Intelligence has overwhelmingly approved UAP-related language for next year’s National Defense Authorization Act:
    For special access programs to be funded, Congress has to be aware of the SAP; a deadline of 6 months has been made for recovered exotic, advanced tech from apparent non human intelligences to be revealed to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office under DOD and DNI direction.
    Whistleblowers from programs, some of whom already interviewed by David Grusch, the insider confirming reality of ET-related SAPs, are expected to come forward.

  6. Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

    RE: “and there’s the Germain-Robin distillery, which used to be in the hills west of town but somewhere in Ukiah the world’s finest brandy is produced. I think they have a tasting and sales room in the post-industrial tin cluster of random enterprises near the Redwood Health Center. When they were producing their first batches of premium booze, they sent promotional bottles to the ava in gratitude for our praises, but now that they’re big time, no more freebies.”

    It used to be on Low Gap road, but moved to Redwood Valley by Graziano. Then in 2017, without selling it locally or any mention of the sale in local news (Zero fanfare) the great Germain-Robin was sold to EJ Brandy aka Gallo wine in Modesto. I was working for Low Gap Whiskey owned by Germain-Robin’s apprentice, Crispin Cain, that took over the majority of the facility. I watched single barrel brandies sucked out of their old french oak casks and mixed into a giant tanker truck and driven to Modesto. Why? Because the old germain robin workers were like drunk redneck clowns compared to Gallo employees. They weren’t going to keep production in Mendo, no matter how old those old Cognac stills were… Mendo is officially a po-dunk backwater where people leave for real opportunities. Cool stuff like GR brandy doesn’t get supported by locals. They just want their cool freebies and wonder what happened one day when it all goes away. Completely clueless to the real goings ons of the powerful people and their calculated business deals.

    • Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

      The tasting room still exists as “Craft distillers” on Clay street a block from State street.
      Open during the Saturday Farmer’s market. Low Gap Whiskey has rebranded to Mendocino Spirits and continues the fine craft traditions of Germain-Robin, but uses the old Cognac stills to make Whiskey and Gin primarily. Beautiful new bottle art from the Color Mill too. Best booze in the country still being produced in the Heart of Mendocino county.

  7. Stephen Rosenthal June 24, 2023

    I’ve always been fascinated by the written word and, as a result, pride myself as having a large vocabulary. It’s not often I come across a word I don’t know, but when I do I immediately look up it’s meaning. As it appears in today’s Ed Notes, “shoals” is such a word. Perfectly descriptive in its use. Not the first time I’ve had to get the dictionary out while reading the AVA. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary!

  8. Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

    Rumor has it… Nothing like a good rumor to stir the flames of dissent..

    I heard from the Well Drillers up in Laytonville that Mr. Britton also drills wells without a permit in Covelo as his side job. I don’t know if you need a permit to drill on Tribal land, and I don’t know if this guy has time for that side hustle anymore!

    “President of the Round Valley Indian Tribe Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Britton faces two misdemeanors associated with driving under the influence of alcohol indicating that law enforcement found him too impaired to drive and found his blood alcohol content .08% or higher.”

    • Lazarus June 24, 2023

      The Wagner Chief has ordered troops to turn around, halting the march on Moscow.
      The Prez of Belarus brokered a deal. CNN, FOX, and MSNBC say.
      But there are some who say, the whole thing was staged…by Putin. It’s known as reflective control, look it up.

      • Bruce McEwen June 24, 2023

        Sure, a feint. But staged by whom? And to what, if any, advantage? Curious how this development comes on the heels of a deeply engrossing human interest story, just when CNN’s offensive had bogged down…

  9. Rye N Flint June 24, 2023

    Is this how the Rich threw the baby out with the bath water?

  10. Marmon June 24, 2023

    RE: My State Personnel Board hearing, Carmel had to spend 4 days in Sacramento. She and Doug Losak were not happy campers. That’s why she went civil services against Merit.


  11. Bruce McEwen June 24, 2023

    Richard Wagner: The Valkyrie – Ride of the Valkyries

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