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MAINLY DRY WEATHER and seasonable temperatures will occur over much of interior Northwest California through the weekend, while marine stratus impacts much of the coast. Warmer conditions are then expected during mid to late next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): At the expense of sounding repetitive, a foggy 53F on the coast this Friday morning. The NWS has taken fog out of the morning forecast starting Sunday, we'll see.
PAUL BUNYAN DAYS/BELLE OF THE REDWOODS
Fort Bragg, CA (July 2023) – The Paul Bunyan Days Association is looking for 2023 Belle of the Redwood Contestants!
The Belle of the Redwoods competition is nearly as old as Paul Bunyan Days itself and has become a favorite tradition of the residents of Fort Bragg! It is not a beauty contest. Contestants compete by dressing in “old fashioned” or theme appropriate dress and selling raffle tickets starting in July until Labor Day Weekend.
Each Belle contestant earns 10% of her ticket sales, and the top 3 Belle contestants also win cash bonuses! The contestant with the highest sales will be crowned Belle of the Redwoods during the Paul Bunyan Days Festivities.
You must be 14 years of age or older to participate.
For more information or for a copy of the Belle Contestant Entry Form please email Mindy Slaughter at email@example.com or the Paul Bunyan Days Association at PaulBunyanDays@mcn.org
ENTRY FORM (simplified):
Year Of Birth
High School Attending (Or Attended)
Year Of Graduation
Where Would Locals Recognize You From?
Why Do You Like Living On The Coast?
What Is Your Favorite Part Of Paul Bunyan Weekend And Why?
What Do You See For The Future Of The Mendocino Coast?
* * *
1) Belle contestants must be 14 or older and female.
2) Contestants compete by selling raffle tickets; the contestant with the highest sales will be crowned Belle of the Redwoods.
3) Crowning will be during the Logging Show on Sunday. Each Belle contestant will need to be escorted at the crowning by a family member or friend of their choosing.
4) All contestants receive 10% of their ticket sales. Cash bonuses are awarded to the top 3 contestants. The winner receives an additional $300, second place receives $150, and third $50.
5) Contestants MUST wear appropriate attire while representing the Paul Bunyan Association. Each contestant may choose to wear a borrowed “old fashioned” dress or theme appropriate outfit.
6) Contestants MUST behave in a manner befitting a Belle. Any illegal or inappropriate behavior will result in disqualification from the competition. For example, you may not enter bars to sell tickets if you are under 21.
7) Contestants will be held responsible for any tickets they are assigned; if the tickets are lost or misplaced, contestant will be responsible for paying the value of lost tickets.
8) Contestants must be residents of the Mendocino Coast and be available for special events from July through the Labor Day Weekend. Events will be determined on an as needed basis and contestants will be advised of them well in advance.
* * *
Media Release: I agree that the Paul Bunyan Days Association or its agents have the right to take photographs, videotape, or digital recordings of me as a Belle contestant for use in any and all media for the purpose of publicizing Belle of the Redwoods or the Paul Bunyan Days celebration.
(Parent or Guardian if contestant is under 18 years old)
CLAUDIA CLOW: Today when I visited the cemetery there is a limb down over my great grandparents’ grave. Another’s headstone was knocked over. It appears recent. Is there a caretaker that can remove it?
JIMMY SHORT: There is a dead tree hanging over my father's grave too that I wish someone would take down. And speaking of monuments, plaques, etc... Someone has taken the WW2 foot stone of my father's and turned it around plus moved it to outside his grave site parameter. Ugh.
MATT SAYS THANKS
During our 4th of July weekend across Mendocino County we were extremely busy. Here we are on July 6th and my deputies are just now coming up for air and completing their reports.
Our communities hosted celebrations, parades, and gatherings. From the Willits Rodeo to the Salmon Barbeque, we had some good times. I wanted to thank all our community members and volunteers who served their communities with hard work in the planning and organizing these events. Seeing the community spirit displayed in our parades made me very proud to be an American.
Holidays such as the 4th of July often take a toll on public safety agencies. First responders don’t get the holidays off, to the contrary we have to ramp up patrols and put people on overtime to cover many of the festivities.
As we have seen in many locations across the nation large gatherings can bring calls to first responders including violence, missing children, vehicle accidents and the types of things we see when an influx of people come to an area. Therefore, we assign extra personnel to cover calls at these events. While these events are occurring, we are also handling the standard calls for service within the communities including thefts, burglaries, assaults etc.
During our celebrations many community members helped us carry the load and helped keep our communities safe. From volunteers in civic groups to our partners in Tribal Government, everyone came together to make our weekend as safe as possible for our residents and visitors.
I think we should be very proud of these folks and the spirit of community they brought to the table. We did have some tragedies this weekend and clearly, we have some hills left to climb.
We often place emphasis on the folks who aren’t serving their communities. Press releases and news stories are filled with crime and sadness. Sometimes I think we completely forget about the good things that occur and the good people who serve their communities every day. Let’s face it, being good residents, raising good families and serving communities doesn’t put people on the front page of the paper. These are the people who are supporting all of us, let take a minute to thank and celebrate them.
As always thank you for supporting the men and women serving at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and thank you for supporting your friends and neighbors here in Mendocino County.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
AV UNIFIED NEWS
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
The Advanced Placement scores were received yesterday for the Spanish AP exam. It is with great delight that I announce that 14 of our students received a passing score of three or above on the exam. There were numerous perfect five scores within the data reflecting an overall 93 percent passage rate.
This is a significant achievement for our small school district, and I celebrate the students and Miss Cook’s efforts. Our scores were well above the state average. The State’ mean score was 3.66. Our students achieved a mean score of 4.13. a tribute to the students and staff that worked together to make this achievement a reality. This is the stuff of movies folks! We still have one more score pending as well!
Many of the students participated in the capstone Puerto Rico travel event. We are deeply grateful to the foundations and individuals that contributed to this trip and propelled experiential learning and achievement forward!
Congratulations to the following students that have received passing scores as of this date:
Tricia Anguiano Rubio
Gibelli Guerrero Jimenez
Diego Perez Marin
So proud of you all!
Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District
Norman de Vall: Toad Hall is no more. Patricia Brown still owns the parcel.
LAYTONVILLE MAN ARRESTED for the Attempted Murder of a Sacramento Women and Awaits Extradition
by Matt LaFever
27-year-old Laytonville man Jeremy David Marchi has been identified by the Sacramento Police Department as the suspect of attempted murder. Investigators believe that Marchi shot a woman in late June. On Monday, June 3, 2023, he was apprehended by the Ukiah Police Department and now sits behind bars at the Mendocino County Jail awaiting extradition for the crime.
The Sacramento Police Public Information team told us that their officers responded to the 2000 block of Marconi Avenue just after three o’clock in the morning on June 25.
When officers arrived on the scene, they located “an adult female with at least one non-life-threatening gunshot wound” who was taken to the hospital for her injuries.
In the days that followed, Sacramento Police said “Our detectives have been tirelessly conducting follow-up to identify and locate the suspect involved in this incident.”
The Mendocino County Superior Court Information Portal has a record of a warrant for Marchi issued on June 28, 2023, for allegedly violating his state parole. The designated “case type” is state parole revocation.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Log indicates Marchi was taken into custody on July 3, 2023, for violation of parole with the specification he “remain under legal custody to return to prison.”
The booking log also includes two more charges dated July 5, 2023: one for attempted murder and the other for petty theft by a felon.
The Sacramento Police information team told us it was on July 5 that, “Detectives from the Sacramento Police Department authored a warrant for the arrest of 27-year-old, Jeremy Marchi of Laytonville.”
This timeline suggests law enforcement presented evidence to a magistrate indicating Marchi had run afoul of his state parole (possibly his alleged role in an attempted murder) authorizing his arrest. It was after the extended Fourth of July weekend that a Sacramento judge could sign the warrant for attempted murder and burglary.
Marchi was one of three arrested in February 2022 for a rash of mail thefts in and around the Sacramento area. A press release from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office says they were caught after a concerned resident witnessed the crew casing mailboxes. The trio proceeded to race away but in the process crashed into a nearby field. After law enforcement arrived on the scene, they discovered “a significant amount of stolen mail” leading to the suspects arrest for identity theft, conspiracy, and concealing evidence.
A woman by the name of Jennell Bartholomew was one of the two partners in crime that day but a tattoo visible in Marchi’s mugshot suggests their connection might be deeper. On his right cheek, the name “Jennell” is written in bold, cursive lettering and the same distinctive spelling.
At this point, Sac Police’s Information Team said, “Marchi will be extradited to the Sacramento County Main Jail where he will be booked on attempted murder charges.” Investigators are still investigating the alleged attempted murder and told us “We do not have any further information to release at this time.”
SONOMA COUNTY ACCUSED OF NEGLIGENCE in Ukiah woman’s death during January storms
The husband of a Ukiah woman killed in January when her car was swept away by floodwaters following one of the region’s atmospheric rivers is suing Sonoma County.
In his wrongful death lawsuit, filed June 26 in Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa, Marcellino Fontino alleges the county is to blame for his wife’s death and he cites the dangerous condition of the roadway, as well as negligence on the part of the county.…
JACKSON DEMONSTRATION STATE FOREST (JDSF) RECREATION TASK FORCE - MEETING AND AGENDA
The Field Tour portion of the meeting will be accessed from the CAL FIRE Woodlands Fire Station via Little Lake Road, accessible by all vehicles. Description of location will be discussed at meeting location. Please see the ADA Notice below if you need assistance.
Please note that times for agenda items are approximate. Items may take more or less time or be taken in a different order. Meeting may end early if all agenda items are completed before scheduled. This meeting may utilize more formal public comment periods, focused on agenda items.
The public may submit comments in advance via email pertaining to the meeting’s agenda. Please submit public comments to the following email address: JDSF@fire.ca.gov (subject line must contain “RTF Meeting Comment”).
These comments must be submitted by 12:00 pm, July 13th to be considered by the RTF at the meeting.
The Mission of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest Recreation Task Force (RTF) is to provide advice/recommendations to CAL FIRE regarding issues relevant to the recreation program on JDSF, including issues outlined in the JDSF Management required under Board policy; ongoing implementation issues; and policy matters relevant to JDSF. The 2016 JDSF Forest Management Plan is available at: https://tinyurl.com/JDSF-Forest-Management-Plan
Date: July 15, 2023 CAL FIRE Woodlands Station
Start Time: 9:30 am 41722 Little Lake Rd, Mendocino
End Time: 2:00 pm See Map and Driving Directions
9:30 am Introductions
9:45 Review/Approve Previous Meeting Minutes
10:00 JDSF Land Use Allocation & Approach to Recreation Discussion
11:00 Public Trails – Land Management Decisions & Opportunities
• New Trail Development, Adoption & Abandonment
11:45 Depart to Boom Rd, off Little Lake Rd – Trail Abandonment Site
• Resource Considerations
12:30 pm Lunch
1:00 Depart to Little Lake (408)/Caspar-Little Lake Rd (409) - Trails Considered for Adoption
• Previous Recreation Task Force Site Visit (February 2022)
1:45 Discussion & Public Comment
Driving Direction to CAL FIRE Woodlands Fire Station, 41722 Little Lake Road, Mendocino.
From Highway 1 in Mendocino, drive east on Little Lake Road for approximately 3 miles.
Make a left at the entrance to the CAL FIRE Woodlands Fire Station. Stay left and proceed past the engine bay.
ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE COUNTY
25 Years of Transient HR Leadership and a Hobbled HR Department
Grand Jury Report, June 21, 2023
The Human Resources Department (HR) of Mendocino County has faced significant challenges in maintaining stable leadership and achieving long-term goals. Compared to similar counties in California, Mendocino has among the highest percentage of staffing vacancies, among the highest turnover in employees and HR leadership, and among the longest time from job posting to hire. Over the past 25 years, the County has had a staggering total of 19 people leading the HR Department, with an average tenure of only 1.2 years. This constant turnover has decreased the department's effectiveness and caused attrition among experienced staff.
Currently, the County lacks a permanent HR Director, and the position is not being actively recruited for. Instead, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer has been assigned to oversee HR. However, their responsibilities extend across four departments in addition to the CEO’s office. The absence of a full-time Director has resulted in the division of day-to-day HR duties among four HR managers, who do not have the necessary time, resources, or authority to fulfill the full scope of a typical HR Director's responsibilities. Without an HR Director responsible for engaging in strategic long-term planning and making necessary organizational improvements, the department's effectiveness, employee morale, and retention rates have dropped. Additionally, the lack of an HR Director has had a broader impact on other County departments, further emphasizing the need for stable leadership.
The 2022-2023 Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury (GJ) has identified several areas of improvement for HR, including enhancing performance management processes, addressing workplace culture issues systematically, and resolving staffing shortages across various County departments. These improvements are crucial for maintaining qualified employees, providing training opportunities, improving retention rates, and fostering a healthy organizational culture.
Unfortunately, these challenges are not new, as a GJ report from 2013 highlighted similar issues with HR. The fact that these shortfalls continue to exist 10 years later is directly attributable to the lack of consistent and qualified leadership for HR, which in turn is due to the lack of support for HR by County leadership. Over the past decade, County leadership has been unsuccessful in resolving these ongoing problems, and employee efforts to address them have not received adequate support. The HR department's role is critical in ensuring the smooth operation of all County departments, and addressing the identified areas of improvement, in addition to hiring a qualified HR Director, will benefit the entire organization.
A county is nothing without its people, and the County government is nothing without its employees. Employees are the County’s most important resource, and that is what a quality HR Director and HR Department are all about. The Grand Jury’s hope is that through this report, the HR Department will get the support it needs so that they in turn can support the entire County workforce.
* * *
Human Resources Director
Mendocino County has had 19 people leading the HR Department in the last 25 years. Only two of the past HR Directors stayed in the role for more than two years. The average length of service for a permanent HR Director since 1998 has been 1.9 years. If we include interim directors, the HR Department has seen new leadership every 1.2 years (See Appendix B for a list of HR Directors and dates). The 2013 GJ report on HR (Appendix A) called out the lack of stability in HR leadership, and not much has changed. The County has not hired an HR Director from outside the County government since before the last CEO took office. Since then, all HR Directors have been internal appointees (County employees from other departments selected by the previous CEO to lead HR), and only one had formal HR training or background working in HR.
At present, the County has no permanent HR Director, and will not for the foreseeable future. The County has assigned a Deputy CEO to oversee the department, and the permanent HR Director position has been defunded and is not being actively recruited for. The Deputy CEO overseeing HR also works in a supporting role for four other departments, in addition to performing many duties within the CEO’s office and managing the County’s health plan.
In the absence of a full-time Director to lead the department, the four HR managers have split up the day-to-day responsibilities of running HR. One manages classification and compensation; one manages training, wellness, and leadership; one manages employee/labor relations and performance/discipline; and one manages hiring and retention. The GJ was very impressed with the HR staff’s knowledge of, commitment to, and skills at performing their jobs. At the same time, the GJ recognizes that neither they nor the Interim Director have the time, resources, or authority to execute the full responsibilities of a typical HR Director in addition to their other daily responsibilities.
* * *
When the GJ requested HR policies, procedures, training, or guidelines regarding performance management, the GJ was informed that the department had no relevant written policies. Instead, the typical performance management process was described to the GJ verbally.
* * *
To ensure that this wasn’t the norm for counties similar to Mendocino, we did research on 6 counties that are comparable to Mendocino based on factors such as location, population density, government size and budget, etc. The Mendocino HR Department uses the same list of counties for comparison to ensure they are offering market rate salaries and benefits. The full list of counties and data collected is in Appendix J. We found that Mendocino is ranked with the highest vacancy rate and turnover rate among the comparable counties that responded.
* * *
A review of the Recruitment and Retention team's 2017 meeting notes revealed that many of the same issues and potential solutions identified by the GJ in this report had already been recognized by the team. However, it was perplexing to discover that no significant changes have been implemented in the five years since.
Full Report: mendocinocounty.org/home/showpublisheddocument/59317
Jon Kennedy: Let me get this straight. McGourty considers endorsing for one of the highest ranking elected official positions in local government, responsible for some of the most important essential services available to our citizens, and only cares about: “dark secrets – Illegitimate children, scorned women, drunken brawls with local police, etc.” Is the “etc” supposed to be actual qualifications?
Mark Scaramella: McGourty’s casual note to Mockel was probably another of McGourty’s failed attempts at humor. McGourty, like his colleagues, apparently assumed that he (and they) would be endorsing Mockel because it might give him (and the Board) some brownie points with State Senator Mike McGuire. (We doubt that, of course.) In McGourty’s mind, as long as Mockel hadn’t committed any felonies or had “dark secrets,” the endorsement was wired. McGourty didn’t care about actual experience or qualifications (nor did the other four Supervisors). Then Mockel compounded the failed attempt at humor by answering the question as if it was a legitimate (unfunny) one. Suffice to say, none of the Supervisors look very good in this “debacle.” It’s startlingly unprecedented and very untoward. We know of no other case when a sitting Board (all of its members unanimously at the same time) endorsed a Supervisor candidate (a supposedly non-partisan position). I mean, they didn’t even wait until the filing deadline has passed to see if anybody else with a better McGuire connection was running.
It’s not the same, of course, but it reminded me of the time back in 2002 when Hal Wagenet was elected to replace John Pinches as Third District Supervisor. Wagenet bragged in his first meeting that “a number” of department heads had called or emailed him to welcome him to the job of Supervisor. They were obviously very relieved to know that Supervisor Pinches who frequently questioned and complained about department operations and spending was replaced by a palsy walsy friend who would rubber-stamp their agenda items. Anybody with a reputation for questioning what the County’s “liberal” voting bloc and/or their supervisor(s) wants is at an obvious disadvantage when running for this non-partisan office — even though questioning and complaining about department operations and spending should be a supervisor’s main job.
Adam Gaska: Most of the cost of the insurance premiums, at least the rise in them, should be attributed to County Counsel as they are the primary reason the County gets sued.
Mark Scaramella: The reasons the County gets sued vary, from ordinary property damage from operations to alleged wrongful terminations, boundary line disputes and contractual disputes, etc. I wouldn’t blame County Counsel with the “reasons” for the lawsuits. The suits you are probably referring to are claims of wrongful terminations which were mainly initiated by then-CEO Carmel Angelo. The County has a “risk management” office which I believe is in the County Counsel’s office which is supposed to be trying to keep a lid on insurance costs. It’s an obscure financial situation which needs more scrutiny than it gets because of the high dollar amounts involved and the fact that it comes out of the General Fund. When was the last time the County reviewed its assets to see if their insurance is based on a proper inventory? Is workers comp (which is very expensive) based on the right number and category of employees? But these kinds of insurance costs could be rightly assigned to the departments if property calculated. Etc. We think all outside counsel costs should be attributed to the County Counsel’s office. We’re not sure about the general liability costs, but we don’t think it should be assigned to departments. It should be its own budget line item and the Supervisors and the “risk manager” should review it not less than quarterly.
Adam Gaska: All true but he is the County’s lawyer. He should be giving the BOS better counsel. Carmel has been gone just over a year.
He doesn’t represent the County in almost any of the litigation. He doesn’t even weigh in and advise that we should settle like in the Grewal case.
It was County Counsel that did suggest charging for PRA requests.
The BOS is getting bad counsel. There needs to be a mechanism to penalize someone doing a bad job.
Mark Scaramella: After County Counsel and the Board botched his first attempt at a pay raise as we noted in a Brown Act complaint at the time, Curtis arranged for the County to pay a costly outside attorney to re-agendize the item and ended up giving Curtis an even bigger raise than they first proposed.
As we documented at the time:
- County Counsel Pay Raise: The Plot Thickens
- County Caves On County Counsel Brown Act Complaint
- Giant Pay Raise For County Counsel Christian Curtis Re-Proposed by Supervisor Williams
As we reported back in March of 2022:
According to the attached proposed salary agreement [to the new/revised pay raise agenda item] Curtis’s base salary would increase to $193,266 per year. The last time the raise was proposed back in December for $192,136, County Counsel Curtis mistakenly put it on the consent calendar and then the Board mistakenly tried to correct it later in the meeting resulting in our Brown Act violation notice which, after the County conceded was valid, postposed Curtis’s raise. When the Brown Act violation was acknowledged, the County hired a $375 per hour San Francisco attorney named Amy Ackerman, to first handle the Brown Act complaint and response, then to prepare this new raise proposal.
To Summarize: the County’s top (non-law enforcement) lawyer who is responsible for giving Brown Act training to other County officials violated the Brown Act in agendizing his own exorbitant raise, then when the violation was noted, the County hired an expensive Brown Act attorney to re-propose the raise because the person they propose to give the raise to was not trusted to properly re-agendize his own raise. Note also that the County Counsel’s office, which is running substantially over-budget for this point in the fiscal year, was ordered to pay for outside counsel for the Sheriff regarding a conflict of interest which prevented him from advising the Sheriff in regards to an illegal attempt to combine the Sheriff’s computer with the County’s computer, has incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside legal fees to defend the County in wrongful termination cases, and has produced only two published opinions for the Supervisors in his two years as County Counsel. (He may have produced more, but the County Counsel’s office says they are not at liberty to say if others have been written due to attorney-client privilege.) The only reason offered for the raise the last time it came up was that Mr. Curtis’s salary wasn’t sufficiently high enough above his Assistant County Counsel’s salary. Apparently because they’ve obtained that $375 per hour outside attorney, last December’s proposed dubious provision to connect the County Counsel’s salary to 15% above his own subordinate’s salary in perpetuity is not in this current proposal. The “department fiscal review” of this particular agenda item is signed by one Christian Curtis, County Counsel. The cost of the raise is of course unbudgeted, but Supervisor Williams’s agenda item — the same supervisor who frequently questions certain expenditures by asking what has to be reduced elsewhere to cover them — only says, “Department will work with EO Budget Team if a budget adjustment is needed.” Although Sheriff Kendall was threatened with personal liability for overrunning his budget, no one has ever mentioned applying that same standard to the substantial overrun being incurred by the County Counsel’s office, an overrun which will be increased by the approval of this obviously unwarranted raise.
A COAST READER WRITES: An interesting article might be an expose of the recent spate of international corporations buying up Mendocino area B&Bs and hotels. I’ve heard that the Albion River Inn, three inns in Little River, the Mendocino Hotel on Main Street in Mendocino, the Gray Whale Inn in Fort Bragg, Three “victorian” B&Bs on Main Street in Fort Bragg and who knows what else have all been scooped up. The demographics on the coast are changing; ownership of these propertie is from outside the area. We are circling the drain as a society, and as a community. But you already know that.
PS. I just read great book, ‘Sixpence House: Lost in a town of Books’ by Paul Collins. Every word was good. He writes in the style of Bill Bryson. Have you heard of it or read it? If not, I will be glad to mail it to you.
Mark Scaramella Notes: The next question would be: have their property assessments been upgraded according to the Prop 13 rules. The County is very far behind in transaction assessments and these new owners may be getting a de facto tax holiday until Mendo gets around to increasing their assessments, if ever.
‘Interview’ in Mendocino County Weekly : Some Say Paper Finally Went Too Far
By Katherine M. Griffin
LA Times Staff Writer
March 2, 1988
Boonville, Calif. — The journalism students at nearby Ukiah High School raked newspaper publisher Bruce Anderson over the coals the other day, and they aren’t the only people in Mendocino County who are mad at him.
“What makes you think you have the right to judge other people?” one student demanded. “How would you feel if somebody wrote something about you that wasn’t true?”
“I use this paper as a weapon against money and power,” replied Anderson, 48, a bearlike man with a penchant for making outrageous statements in and out of print--but with a surprisingly affable manner. “I have the right, as a newspaper publisher, to say what I want about everybody, anytime.”
The publisher and his weekly paper, the 2,500-circulation Anderson Valley Advertiser, are no strangers to controversy. Anderson (whose name has nothing to do with the valley’s) sees himself as a lonely crusader against corruption in what he calls “the Honduras of Northern California.”
Many Targets of Pen
Nearly every politician in the county has felt the lash of his pen. But Anderson’s latest escapade has left some county residents saying that the paper they love to hate has gone too far.
Last month, the Advertiser ran a front-page “interview” with Rep. Doug Bosco (D-Occidental) under the byline of “David Yesson, Staff Writer, The Des Moines Register.”
The story quoted Bosco as calling his constituents who oppose offshore oil drilling “a bunch of . . . know-nothing malcontents who couldn’t care less about anything other than . . . where their next joint is coming from.”
Much of the article focused on Bosco’s absence at recent hearings on oil drilling in his district. Bosco, who supports limited oil exploration, was in Iowa at the time campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri.
Both Bosco and David Yepson, political reporter for the Des Moines Register, immediately protested, saying the interview had never taken place.
For a week after the article came out, Anderson maintained that it was authentic. He said that someone had sent it to him on a computer disc the day before his paper went to press and that he did not have time to check its veracity before printing it.
Finally, in the following week’s edition of the Advertiser, Anderson admitted that the interview was a hoax. He now says the article was always intended as satire. “It seemed like it was working so well that I thought I’d string it along for a few days,” he said.
Many of the paper’s readers initially believed the interview was authentic. Bosco said his office received dozens of calls from constituents who took the article seriously and demanded an explanation.
Ben H. Bagdikian, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, said that if the article was intended to be satirical, Anderson should have made its tongue-in-cheek nature more apparent. “At best, it is incompetent and misleading satire,” he said. “At worst, it violates every principle of decent journalism.”
In the wake of the phony article, the Ukiah Daily Journal, which has printed the Advertiser for several years, informed Anderson that it will no longer do so as of March 10. Bosco said he may sue Anderson for libel. But Anderson remains unrepentant. The Bosco article, he maintains, was an effective way to attack the congressman’s position on offshore oil drilling.
As for why he attributed the interview to “Yesson” of the Des Moines Register, Anderson said he had seen David Yepson once on a Sunday press show. “This guy seemed very pompous and sort of arrogant, so I figured we’ll just tag his name on it,” he said.
Will Still Publish
Anderson said he intends to continue publishing the Advertiser, and hopes to have it printed in Healdsburg, about an hour south of his home in Boonville.
While county residents say they will continue to read the paper for its “indispensable” mix of local news, opinion, sports, poetry and cartoons, many say they cannot take Anderson seriously.
“We all love freedom of speech, and he’s gone beyond it,” said Ross Murray, 69, of Boonville. “Many of us regard him as just a wayward child.”
* * *
YES, YES. The art of “going too far.” Back in the day it seemed I got tagged with “going too far” with every issue. Again rummaging through my Bummer Box, the above going too far was one of many national denunciations of the Boonville weekly in the wake of an obvious bit of satire, obvious to me anyway.
BUT REALLY. Anybody familiar with the personality type who gets elected to national or state office knows that a professional pol insulting his constituents is unthinkable, although they're clearly contemptuous of us as their every public utterance makes clear. Waterboarded, toenails pulled out, testicles wired to a battery, it wouldn't even occur to the career office holder to insult his constituents, let alone to a media person.
BOSCO, elected as a “liberal,” upon taking office was an automatic Yes vote for evil, everything from nerve gas to armed interventions in other countries. The interview was the beginning of the end for Duggles.
THE PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTY'S finest hour ever was dumping Bosco from office when our candidate, Darlene Commingore, pulled enough votes from Democrats unhappy with Bosco to yank his hustling self from office. I ran in that same election against a Bosco-like state assemblyman named Dan Hauser, a guy even phonier than Bosco, pulling a large alienato vote but not large enough to unseat him. There were still several thousand Northcoast voters who knew in their bones that Democrats are half the problem.
THE LATE ROSS MURRAY, a guy who read the New York Times like it was the Old Testament, was of course a KZYX pundit, thundering statements of the obvious every week to an audience of one, himself. He seemed to lie in wait for me at the Boonville Post Office, rushing out to smother me in platitudes from the Times. “Did you read David Brooks today?” Ross would shout in my face. “Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.” I'd explain that when you've read Brooks once you've read him for all time, but Murray, for a time the most tiresome person in the entire Anderson Valley, if not all of Mendocino County, was a one-way conversationalist, his way. I'm sure he was thoroughly adrenalized when the reporter called him up. The AVA literally drove him nuts.
BAGDIKIAN used to be first up in the national media rollodex whenever some hack needed an insta-opinion. Ho bleeping hum. Of course he hadn't read the evidence or the weekly newspaper containing the traumatizing satire, yet here he was claiming it was one of the all-time journalo-sins. “The dean of American journalism.” Or was that David Brooks? Or David Broder? Or, or or? Or who could possibly care?
PLANNING? Darn Right We Have Planning. Look At Ukiah And Tell If It Isn't Planned Right Down To The Last Franchise
Dear Interested Parties,
The Staff Report(s) and Agenda for the July 20, 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,
James Feenan, Commission Services Supervisor, County of Mendocino Department of Planning & Building Services
Sondra Sula’s solo show entitled ‘Every Which Way’ will be at the Artists Collective in Elk during the month of July, 2023. Her “Little Souls” are small, framed found-object assemblages.
The Elk Collective Gallery is open daily from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. 707-877-1128. A gallery opening will take place on “Second Saturday,” July 8th from noon to 3 pm.
An eclectic show of new work, “Every Which Way” explores individual themes of loss, rebirth, memory and time. Working with diverse items from holiday lights to bones, Sondra calls on her intuitive, spiritual side to choose and arrange the final artwork. Favorite objects also include fossils, minerals and repurposed refuse.
Sula has been represented by galleries in Chicago, Santa Fe, Michigan and here on the northern California coast from Gualala to Fort Bragg.
DOING THE LORD’S WORK for over 155 Years
by Katharine Nelson
This week, the Mendocino Presbyterian Church celebrates the 155th anniversary of its sanctuary on Main Street. Officially dedicated on July 5, 1868, it is the oldest Presbyterian Church in continuous use in the State of California (and it enjoys the status of California Historic Landmark No. 714).
The origins of this church can be traced back to the very beginnings of Mendocino and its earliest settlers. In 1854, two years after the founding of Mendocino as a logging community, Protestant church services, conducted by two Methodist ministers, were held for the first time in the cookhouse of the lumber mill. Roughly a dozen people from the community, which at the time numbered around 100 in total, attended. As the population of Mendocino grew in the following years, the need became apparent for a building dedicated solely for worship. William Kelley, one of Mendocino’s founders, was put in charge of building the town’s first church. The nondenominational Protestant church opened in 1858, on the northeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets, across from the Masonic Temple.
Though the church’s early ministers were Methodist, many of the congregants were Presbyterian, including church trustees and Mendocino founders Jerome B. Ford and Captain David F. Lansing. Another of the church’s trustees was Peter Kelley, who had followed his son William to Mendocino. Peter was a devout Presbyterian who acted as a church elder and led services in the absence of an ordained minister. Ford soon began corresponding with the Presbytery of San Francisco in the hopes of obtaining a full-time Presbyterian pastor for Mendocino. In the fall of 1859, a petition formally requested a Presbyterian church for Mendocino. It was signed by eight members: Peter Kelley and his wife, Elizabeth; Jerome B. Ford and his wife, Martha Hayes Ford; Susan Hayes, sister of Martha Ford; Eliza Lee Kelley, wife of William Kelley; Charlotte Lansing, wife of Capt. David F. Lansing; and Margaret Baldwin. In November 1859, their request was approved.
It took several years to secure a full-time Presbyterian pastor, but the congregation continued to grow. By 1867, it became clear that the original church building was no longer large enough. Reverend Samuel Whiting, the church’s pastor, began planning and raising funds to build a new sanctuary. Land along Main Street was donated for the location of the new church by Jerome Ford and Captain Lansing. Ford, by then a church elder, also donated $5,000 toward the construction of the church, which eventually cost $10,000. In May of 1867, the prominent San Francisco architectural firm S.C. Bugbee & Son was engaged to design the new sanctuary, and Albert Maxwell won the contract to build it. Maxwell had already constructed several houses for prominent residents of Mendocino.
Construction on the new church commenced in October, and it was completed the following May. The church was built with native redwood lumber milled in Mendocino. An English Gothic-inspired design was chosen for the sanctuary, a style popular in North America at the time for both homes and churches. Inside the sanctuary, the ceiling was designed to echo the inverted hull of a ship, alluding to the importance of shipping to the town’s fortunes. The main entrance was situated to look out over the headlands and Old Coast Road, which was then the primary route into Mendocino from the south. According to Daisy MacCallum, granddaughter of Peter Kelley, the sanctuary was “dignified and stately,” with “a beauty that makes it an outstanding landmark.” Though over a century has passed since she recorded those words, no one who has seen the Mendocino Presbyterian Church can argue with her sentiments.
The Kelley House Museum is open from 11am to 3pm Thurdsay through Monday. Questions or appointments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Walking Tours of the historic district depart regularly. For tour schedule go to: wwwkelleyhousemuseum.org/visit-walking-tours/
TELEPHONES IN ANDERSON VALLEY
An Informal History (Part 2)
by Jacqueline Potter Voll
As we continue with the history of phone service in Anderson Valley, the reader will notice that it becomes the history, a sort of character sketch, of one man: lifelong Valley resident, John Hulbert, an amiable and admirable fellow. Anderson Valley has long been home for a host of Hulberts. John’s father was born in Cloverdale and is now 86. John’s mother was born in Philo and is now 84. The senior Mr. Hulbert’s family settled in and around Cloverdale and Yorkville right after the Civil War, between 1865-70; they came from the east coast of Canada. The first Hulbert to land in the New World was also named John; he came over to the colonies as a Captain in the English army to protect the settlers. John’s uncle Austin’s mother, Lola, often worked with famed horticulturalist, Luther Burbank on the Hulbert’s 5,000 acres in Yorkville. They experimented with different plants and trees to see how they would live in different climates. Austin, who still lives in Yorkville, has carried on the tradition in many ways, not the least of which is his propagation of new varieties of magnificently colored alstromeria. John’s dad’s cousin’s wife, Ruby Hulbert, was widely known for her floral arrangements and berry pies. I could go on and on about Hulberts, but I digress. Back to the life of a lineman, told mostly in John’s own words to myself, my brother Scott, also a Pac Bell retiree like John, and my Mom, over breakfast at Janie’s Cafe on a recent cold winter morning.
“Been some big changes! I worked out of Ukiah in ’56 when I first stated out. There were two main crews; we travelled to Lake County, Ukiah and Fort Bragg. I was a lineman then so we went wherever something needed to be built or rebuilt. It was all open wire then, very little cable except for paper-wrapped lead cable which had no color coding. You had to tow it from the office out into the field to tell which pair was which to re-tie. You’d go along with a chair cable or a ladder and it had little rings about 18 inches apart, you had to string a wire through them. You’d get from point A to point B with the wire through the rings and they’d drive a chain through with a wood slat and the chair would rattle and make those rings all line up; then they’d pull the cable through. It was always all torn up or scratched in the process.”
Scott and John would often lapse into telephonese, very technical conversation that would cause my eyes to glaze over and start me stirring my coffee, though I never use cream and sugar.
John remembers, “A few years ago there were less than a thousand lines in Boonville; that would be 1979 or ’80. Now there are over 2,000.”
Scott interjected, “Now it’s all carrier systems; they have electronics down the road, right?”
John continued, “Yeah! Today it would require three circuits in 96 different wires to do the job. Thank goodness for electronics or you’d have cables running through here THAT big around just for service. Now in a single dwelling, you’ve got a telephone or two, plus a Fax line, a commuter circuit; then, if you’ve got a teenager or two, they’ll probably want a private line too, for those who can afford it.
“Office as it exists now in Boonville has been there since about ’58 or ’59. It used to be fed by open lines, a switching office, with cable that came all the way from Mountain House. Now we’ve got that microwave system that shoots out of Ukiah, hits on top of the hills by the beacon, then hits the reflector on Bald Mountain, then comes down to the receiver antenna at the office. Which is why that big dish is there.”
Scott asked, “So Boonville is not high-wired at all between Cloverdale or Ukiah?”
“No,” John replied. “But I guess the more equipment you stack at each office, the more circuits you can get through that microwave. I think they could stack it up to 33,000 circuits simultaneously if they add to all that equipment on each end, 3,000 miles.”
John continues, “Then there’s fiber optics. We don’t have any here. It runs from Point Arena to Sacramento. It’s amazing. About ten years ago PG&E laid the main line cable from Point Arena, down Fish Rock Road, down towards Mountain House and over Squaw Rock; right over that mountain clear into Woodland, which was the hub. It’s tough stuff. Up on Middletown, when fiber optics were first coming in for local stuff, PG&E was digging a hole with an auger. They were maybe a hundred feet from the phone office. They caught that fiber optic cable and wound it round and around the augur. It pulled that flat right out of the office,but didn’t sever it. They saw what they had and immediately called us and we went up and pulled it back in and it didn’t do a bit of harm — Amazing!
“Toll to coax to microwave to satellites to fiber optics — not much copper (toll) left to replace what’s still out there. The only thing they are putting up now are replacements for local exchanges.”
I asked John, “Are you saying that someday someone will pull down all the phone poles and wires?”
“That’s it!” John replied… “I can remember when they launched John Glenn into orbit (the first time). My God. They shut the phone company completely down! Told us, ‘Don’t touch anything!’ We were working over on Pt. Arena. Boss came out and said, ‘Well, you’ve got a day off, gentlemen.’ We all went out and cleaned our trucks and polished all our tools and oiled things up. He wasn’t up for very long, was he? Just out into space and back down. At that time the communications systems were all under federal control. They needed that much space. They depended on every little bit of information they could get to track him, particularly if something had gone wrong. And, they didn’t tell us why. But I knew it was because of that launch. By the time we went to the moon, the systems were different. No more land lines; it was all satellite by then.
“Then they had a line system between Sacramento out through Fairfield to Travis Air Force Base that’s outdated now. It was called “Bell and Lights.” It was two circuits that were reserved for warning of an incoming atomic attack, the light flashes, the bell rings at the Base. Those circuits were supposed to be kept clean and untouched at all times. Once, we were out of Ukiah working on the toll lines up in the trees to get the brush out of there. We batted those two circuits together… Here comes the Sheriff’s Department. He was going to arrest the foreman for disturbing those wires. Our supervisor came out and talked him out of it. Serious — very serious stuff!”
I asked John if there were any crazy or funny stories of things that happened while he was at work that he could talk about.
“Yes; right — but most of them you can’t talk about!” But he continued, “One time we were up — they were laying toll cables from San Rafael to Eureka — we were up above Laytonville near Bell Springs. I think it was 1962, year of bad rains. Mud was pushing on our cable up on a mountain side. Four or five guys in one big truck is now we got where we were going. We would go up there and shovel the mud over the top of the cable to relieve the pressure on the cable. We got up in there and the roads washed out behind us. There we were — out in the middle of nowhere — didn’t know what to do! Hadn’t seen anybody around for miles. Well. The foreman walked over to a pig farm and asked the farmer if he could feed the crew. He said, Sure — bring ’em over. So two guys would shovel the mud and two guys would go eat. The farm was about half a mile from where we were working. Here’s this guy in bib overalls, not too clean looking! He had a big black cast iron woodstove — had a big fire on in there and a wooden table. Just a plain old board table — he took his arm and swept the chickens and whatever else was on the table off. He had a big bag of “Hungry Jim” flapjack mix. He stirred up a great big bucket of that stuff. Then he took the bucket and just ran it across the stove in a big stream — right on the flame — it dripped down into the fire. Then he sliced it with the spatula up into pieces and turned it over. Then he set them on old tin plates. The pancakes looked like little mountains. Puffed in the middle, they were not fully cooked. You’d stick your fork in the center and that stuff would just come oozing out of there. We must have eaten 20 pounds of those things — we were so hungry! He’d go to the refrigerator, where he kept the homemade butter and he’d just put the whole block of butter right into the middle of the wooden table without a plate under it — he didn’t have plates to spare — he was just an old bachelor. The butter went right on the wood, chicken manure and feathers flying! Every once in a while he’d turn around and kick the dog to get him out of there. The animals were living in the house because it was raining so bad — that was a real bad storm. Everything but the pigs, there was no pigs in the house. That was a real fun time — three days before they got us out. That was at Bell Springs. We didn’t even have a four-wheel drive truck to get us in there or out. We had built a big fire where we were working just to keep dry. One guy would constantly gather and dry the wet wood from around the woods. The truck had a hood to cover equipment, like an army truck; so we’d slide the hood back and throw the wood in and let it dry out a little bit. We slept under the truck, on a big piece of cardboard that came encasing some equipment — cut it up, shoved it under the truck and slept right there for two or three hours until it was somebody else’s turn to take a nap.
“The old boy fed us for three days. It added up; he was rewarded quite well for it, too. He was tickled. For years after that when we’d patrol that area, we’d stop and bring him newspapers and books, stuff that he just didn’t have access to there.”
I asked John, “What was the longest you worked with one crew?” Scott interjected, “Three days under a truck?” John laughed and said, “Probably, that’s it!”
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, July 6, 2023
JAMES AUSILIO, Redwood Valley. Grand theft.
RODOLFO CEJA, Talmage. DUI-alcohol&drugs, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.
JOSE COLLI-BLANCO, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
WENDY DUERNER, Willits. Grand theft.
SYLVESTER JOAQUIN, Covelo. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
SIERRA KOCHER, Fort Bragg. Suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.
ALDEN LARVIE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
DIANEYSY MACIAS-SILVA, Ukiah. Resisting.
JESUS VELASCODE, Ukiah. DUI, domestic battery, contributing, false ID, restraining order violation by purchase of firearm, failure to appear.
A NOTE TO ALL OF KATE COLEMAN'S FRIENDS & ACQUAINTANCES
Kate is no longer seeing her FB page nor using her telephone as she has moved to an assisted living/memory care facility in Oakland. Our friend Kate is in the late stages of dementia. The decision to move her was a tough one for all involved, but she has reached the point where she needs more assistance, care, and attention.
What Kate enjoys most these days is visits with friends. If you would like to go see her, she is at The Point at Rockridge at 4500 Gilbert St. in Oakland, near the intersection of Broadway and Pleasant Valley Road.
We hope you will decide to go, as it will make her very happy. She may not recognize you, but she will probably greet you with a big smile and you will help make an unfortunate situation more tolerable for her. Kate has also lost 80% of her hearing, and her hearing aids are often misplaced. Please speak loudly and be patient. Thank you for helping us bring a bit of light into her life.
Linda Schacht, email@example.com
Carol Pogash, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Venable, email@example.com
TIK TOK GOES CRAIG'S TICKER
Guru Purnima is the time reserved for honoring spiritual teachers, usually held in early July. Here is an explanation: indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/guru-purnima-2023-wishes-images-whatsapp-messages-quotes-status-photos-8634941/
Warmest spiritual greetings,
Just left the cardiovascular department at Adventist Health-Ukiah, with the Medtronic Pacemaker checked, and also had a telephone exchange with the Adventist Health-St. Helena cardiology group, who advise me that I am all set for the Monday July 10th upgrade to an ICD. The procedure takes place at 5:30 in the morning. Will remain there overnight for a Tuesday morning checkup, and then will be picked up and returned to the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in Ukiah. As always, I am available on the planet earth for all enlightened activity. Feel free to make contact, send money to Paypal.me/craiglouisstehr, move me outta the shelter in order to be enhoused somewhere more suitable for radical environmental direct action, and otherwise assist me in changing the absurd, pointless situation of the past 14 months in sunny Mendocino County USA. Nota Bene: I feel weird thanking anybody for anything in postmodern America. How about I just not formally close this with some appropriate whatever, and we say, you know, f*ck it! Cool?
Craig Louis Stehr
JONAH RASKIN: Joe Blum, photographer par excellence, has an exhibit of his work that depicts San Francisco workers and that honors honest labor. The exhibit is at Charlie's Cafe at 3202 Folsom in The City. Here's one of his black-and-white-photos that shows sand blasting of anchor chains and that made me think of Marx's comment about workers having nothing to lose but their chains.
by Marilyn Davin
I was peacefully sipping my second cup of coffee and cycling through the morning’s newspapers back in the day when my 16-year-old daughter strode into the kitchen and plopped herself down across from me at the kitchen table.
Daughter: “I’ve decided to get a tattoo.”
Me: (putting down the paper and looking at her full on) “No you aren’t.”
Daughter: (defiantly crossing her arms) “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it.”
Me: “If you are so determined to get tatted up, you can do so when you’re 18, not one day before.”
Daughter: (raging and shooting me death rays) “All my friends are getting tattoos.”
Me: “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off, too?” (Thanks for that one, Dad!)
Daughter: “You can’t stop me, I can get a tattoo if I want to!”
Me: (futilely attempting to inject reason into the emotional headwind) “Actually, you can’t. You’re 16 and can’t buy beer or cigarettes, either. The law fortunately recognizes that minors are too immature to be trusted with such impactful decisions.” (As of this writing 38 states allow tattoos for minors – but only with parental consent.) “Furthermore, if you do get one,” I continued, “I will find out where you got it and I will not rest until the shop is sanctioned for illegally tattooing minors.”
Daughter: Flounced off, though unfortunately she still got a tattoo on her 18th birthday. Her early 30s then featured several expensive sessions to get untatted. Tattoos, like credit cards and bad marriages, are easy to get into and hard to get out of.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for teenagers. Their hormone-infused passions and free-ranging opinions are, after all, the natural minefields we all must navigate along the bumpy road to adulthood. I recall several cringe-worthy teen declarations of my own, like telling my parents in the late ‘60s that the nuclear family was dead and we’d all soon be living communally, preferably out in bucolic Mother Nature somewhere.
Finding our place in the world is one of our most important journeys as humans. Our sexual identities are a natural part of that equation, of course, and today’s mediascape—no stranger to capitalizing on social trends—drones on and on about it. This has created a sort of sex smorgasbord: who’s doing what with whom and with what equipment, and should this basic physiological drive be satisfied by man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, black/white, or other/other couplings?
We know instinctively to whom we are sexually attracted, mostly at young ages. Over the years, gay friends have shared with me their personal tales of reckoning. One told me that, picking up his high school date one evening, he realized suddenly and irrevocably that he was way more attracted to his date’s handsome brother, who was reclining fetchingly and shirtless on the living room couch. Since my friend lived in rural Georgia and could have been killed for being gay back then, he and a gay friend devised a clandestine double-dating scheme where they picked up their proper southern belles and chastely returned them to their equally proper homes before beginning their real dates - with each other. My friend knew he was gay and remained out of the closet for his entire working life in San Francisco.
This early recognition of sexual preference has unsurprisingly created a movement to allow minors (aged 13 to 17) to take the necessary physical steps to actually change their genders, up to and through surgery. This notion of changing one’s god-given gender has prompted more than 20 god-fearing states (so far) to quickly ban these procedures. Sanctions vary, but the most draconian could pull the medical licenses of doctors prescribing gender-changing meds or even cite individuals who knowingly help minors receive this care. Other states are actively considering some form of ban on these procedures.
The American obsession with all things sexual, amplified through unfettered social media, has given gender reassignment an outsized place in today’s media firmament, clearing space for pundits of all stripes, both religious and civil. UCLA’s Williams Institute School of Law recently estimated that some 300,000 American youths aged 13-17 identify as transgender, or about .09% of the total current population of nearly 337,000,000 (as reported by the 2021 U.S. Census). Compare that with the 24,000,000 American children living in poverty, who collectively make up more than 7% of the total U.S. population. Yet reporting on poverty is complicated, difficult, and typically reduced to dry, one-graph summaries of scheduled government reports. Coverage of gender reassignment issues, on the other hand, with all its provocative high emotion and drama, frequently makes the front page.
All individual rights matter, including this one, but imagine for a moment what the country could be like if those 20 state legislatures that worked so feverishly to ban gender reassignment surgery had instead directed all this energy to ending youth poverty? What would it take to arouse the same passion? That’s a question for all of us.
“GERTRUDE (Stein) thought Ernest very handsome and ‘rather foreign-looking.’ The expression in his eyes indicated that he was ‘passionately interested' in what she was saying. Presently she and Alice went to call on the Hemingways in the rue du Cardinal Lemoine. Gertrude hoisted herself up the steep and narrow stairs and took up her station on the gilded mahogany bed. Ernest brought out some poems and the fragment of his novel. She rather liked the poems, which were ‘direct and Kiplingesque' but she did not care for the novel. ‘There is a great deal of description in this', she said, ‘and not particularly good description. Begin over again and concentrate.’
Ernest picked up his ears. This was exactly the position he had independently arrived at during his repeated attempts to write one true sentence in his private office atop the old hotel.”
— Carlos Baker, ‘Ernest Hemingway, A Biography’
A LOT OF ACTORS are better at pretending to be other people than they are at being themselves. When things get tense, when I start taking my work a bit too seriously, I remind myself that I’m only pretending to be a human being.
— Alan Arkin
FOR GOOD OR BAD, THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE WARRIORS’ DYNASTY HAS BEGUN
by Ann Killion
The Warriors will once more be led by Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry. Is there another title left in these aging veterans?
This will be the weekend we remember in the future.
The one that shapes the coming years for the Golden State Warriors, the dynasty’s final chapter, the waning moments of Stephen Curry’s career.
Either because it determined that all would go right and lead to another title run or two with a beloved core of legendary players.
Or, if all doesn’t go right, this weekend will be remembered as the moment that cemented the Warriors in the past. That dipped them in amber, frozen in time.
Giving forward Draymond Green a four-year contract was inevitable. Necessary. The Warriors had no other choice but to lock into a player who drives them on the court (and drives them crazy, at times). The way his new contract is structured gives the team some financial flexibility. That, along with getting rid of Jordan Poole’s contract, could help the team keep Klay Thompson, who is entering the final year of his contract.
But it comes with big risks. Green’s contract might not age well. He has an injury history and has spent 11 seasons battling against bigger players, which takes a physical toll. The decision to ride for several more years with a core of players in their mid-30s may look ridiculous in hindsight.
When one of those players is Curry, now 35 with three years left on his contract, you do what you must. You win the way you know how. And this is how the Warriors win. With Curry and Green and Thompson.
The two-timeline concept has been dead for a while, crumbling when the Warriors blew past it to win a fourth championship ahead of schedule. What clearly frustrates some fans moving forward is the Warriors’ inability to benefit from that brief youth movement.
A No. 2 overall pick, in James Wiseman, was jettisoned to Detroit for almost nothing: some salary cap relief and an injured player they had let walk away six months early. Of course, Gary Payton II will help the Warriors next season when healthy, but No. 2 overall picks are rare and this one was wasted by the organization.
Poole was the one young player the Warriors developed into a key piece, believed to be a brilliant draft find at No. 28. Until he wasn’t. He, too, was offloaded for not much more than salary cap relief.
Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga remain. They need to get better. And they have seen up close how dramatically the world, the expectations, the path forward, can change.
Mike Dunleavy, Jr. quickly charted his course in his first few weeks as general manager. He made Green’s signing his top priority. He sent Poole off with quick decisiveness. He seems to be in a hurry to get the Warriors back on track.
What the dramatic past few years of Warriors history has retaught us is that you can’t control your destiny in sports. No matter how much success you have, how much you’re willing to spend, how many light years ahead you may be.
In 2019, who would have expected the Warriors to quickly plummet to the bottom of the league and get a No. 2 pick? Who would have expected the brilliant Warriors’ front office to botch that pick — drafting a player they couldn’t properly develop and sending him away for little return?
In 2022, who would have guessed that the joyous Poole Parties would dry up, that Poole would be sent packing a year later?
Who would have predicted that one angry moment in training camp could throw an entire season off balance and dictate the Warriors’ future?
Unpredictability, for good or for bad, is the essential beauty of sports, something to remember in these days of analytics, when folks think they can punch numbers into a computer and come up with a formula for winning. When front offices act as though players are Play-Doh and can be squeezed through a mold into the shape of a star if so desired by the people in charge.
These are human beings, full of emotion and doubt and pride and frailty. Poole could never recover his game, his direction, after he was punched in the face by Green with all his teammates — and eventually the world — watching. We will see if he can in Washington. The Warriors could never rebuild their trust, their chemistry, their connectivity.
In October, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called the punch “the biggest crisis that we’ve ever had.” He was right. Seven months later he said, “Look, if Draymond is not back, we’re not a championship contender.” He was right about that, as well. The two truths were not mutually exclusive. Someone had to go, and it wasn’t going to be Green.
Kerr was once a member of a team that had a last dance. A team that was torn apart a little too early, torn up deliberately by the front office. Kerr always said that the past season was not going to be the Warriors' last dance.
This weekend’s decision assured the dance will continue. History will judge if that was the right move.
“I GOT THIS FAR in my life and career not because I was the most gifted athlete, but primarily through stubbornness and tenacity. That's what separated me from other fighters - that refusal to give up. This may sound barbaric, but I would rather die in that ring than quit. I will give every ounce of energy I have in there, fighting until there is absolutely nothing left.
Your body can do so much more than you think it can; people are just afraid to go to that dark, scary place where you don't know what will happen, or how much it will hurt. I've been there a few times, so I know. And I've never given up, never surrendered. For me, the physical anguish is nothing compared to what I would feel the next day, looking at myself in the mirror, knowing I had given less than complete effort. That to me, would be unbearable.”
— Micky Ward
by John Arteaga
The US, Russia and China seem to all be taking part in a contest to see whose particular version an almost sci-fi dystopia will prevail on earth. Each approach the common nightmarish end in completely different ways, but the results seems to be fairly similar; a crushing diminution of the rights and privileges of all but the very most fortunate in each society.
Here in the US, the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer, richer and richer hands has reached mindnumbing proportions; apparently the three richest Americans now possess as much wealth as the bottom half of the whole population! This must be an unprecedented level of wealth disparity, comparable to the galling gulf in wealth and opportunity that led to the Russian Revolution and Chairman Mao's Chinese communist insurgency.
It is interesting to recall this country's roaring 20s, where the stock market kept soaring to new heights, and the Gilded Age of ostentatious opulence was all the rage among the moneyed classes. But at least then the captains of industry, the oligarchs of the rail, steel and oil monopolies, were somewhat constrained by the gnawing awareness that the hard-working millions who made their wealth possible might just rise up and take it back at some point, prompting their enormous philanthropy, the thousands of donated libraries and musea etc.
By contrast, look at today’s oligarchs; with the slow and steady erosion of the very concept of noblesse oblige that had, for so long, been enshrined in our tax system, these arrogant fools, many of them (such as the former president) lulled into this delusional reality where their obscene level of inherited wealth, was not just dumb luck, but in fact, due to their unique brilliance and virtue. LOL!
While Trump has to be the poster boy for this particular mental illness, there are certainly runners up in terms of stupid, arrogant entitlement. Take the case of Elon Musk, who, despite the fact that his world record level wealth was actually earned by his business acumen (in contrast to inheritance leaches like Trump), is, like most of his oligarchic cohort, an absolute tax deadbeat. One can hardly fault him for not paying any more taxes than the law requires (don’t we all?), But the fact that the right wing capitalist gradual takeover of the entire judicial branch of our country has enabled such a grotesque diminution of what, in any other first world democracy, would be considered a fair level of taxation, which should be contributing to the welfare of the entire country, but in this increasingly pathetic and undemocratic oligopoly ends up leaving enormous amounts of capital in the hands of wingnuts like Musk who squander it on ridiculous projects like the gigantic, air polluting rockets, with which he dreams about humans one day foraging on Mars.
No! I’m sorry, but no one in their right mind believes that there could ever be a sustainable human society except here on our planet Earth home. Like other space racing billionaire’s rockets projects, the supreme phallic symbol for those who have more money than imagination, such things are strictly the province of the playthings of the idle rich.
How did we get to this sorry state of social collapse, the richest country in human history, where the relatively lavish social safety net enjoyed by moderate income citizens of other first world democracies are beyond the imagination of Americans? A great deal of the blame must be laid at the feet of the Supreme Court, an institution with neither the power of the sword nor the purse, but whose influence is solely dependent on its credibility to and respect from all of us.
Unfortunately, this once great institution, which in my youth guided us all forward socially with decisions like Brown v Board of Education, going so far as to have national guardsmen escorting young black students into formerly all-white schools, as well as innumerable decisions expanding personal freedom and liberty. By contrast, today’s degraded mockery of the Supreme Court seems to be in the business of taking away rights and freedoms that had largely been regarded as long-settled law. All three of Trump’s Federalist Society appointments perjured themselves about upholding stare decisis, the belief that legal precedents should be upheld, in their appointment hearings.
The original sin of the absolute basement of the court was the Citizens United decision where the court promulgated the absurd notion that since corporations are legally ‘people’, that they had a First Amendment right to free speech that could not be infringed upon in any way. Never mind the fact that their wealth and resources far outstripped those of actual living human beings, thus enabling them to convince a frightening number of our fellows to vote for policies that further enrich the already too rich at the expense of the rest of us.
Some nutcase billionaire just bequeathed his entire $1.6 billion estate to Leonard Leo and his Federalist Society to further tilt the pinball table towards the interests of the fabulously wealthy. Notably, the ethical blindman, Clarence Thomas, and his John Bircher wife Ginny have been enjoying the exceptionally lavish vacation accommodations provided to them by billionaire inheritance prince Harlan Crow. Without ever declaring them on their required tax filings!
Hopefully yesterday’s news about the Supreme Court striking down the shockingly obvious racial gerrymandering plan in Alabama will establish a high water mark on the Federalist Society’s influence on the court; the Trump appointed right-wing majority may be pampered pets of the deranged right, but, as has happened numerous times in the history of the court, the fact of lifetime appointment may free them from their attachment–at-the-hip to the hard right dogma of ‘give everything to the rich and hope for trickle-down’ and might just retrofit some vestige of a spinal column in some of the them. Let us hope.
For this and other columns, https://inarationalworld2.blogspot.com/2023/06/dueling-dystopias-us-russia-and-china.html
DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN
On the moral courage of Daniel Ellsberg
by Erik Baker
Steven Spielberg’s film The Post begins with Daniel Ellsberg in Vietnam. The year is 1966. The official story from the Pentagon, at that time largely unquestioned in U.S. media, is that the war is going well. That is a lie—the first of the many deceptions that will unravel spectacularly in the years to come. As Spielberg tells it, that thread begins to fray here, in the Vietnamese jungle, with an unassuming bureaucrat sent to survey the progress of the campaign against the Viet Cong. Ellsberg, played by a dashing Matthew Rhys, insists on accompanying a patrol on their nighttime exercises. The RAND wonk looks surprisingly comfortable in body armor, toting an automatic rifle. Then it all comes undone: a VC ambush, blood in the muck, muzzle flare from invisible enemies in the misty shadows. Our hero is shaken. On the plane home, he tells his boss’s boss, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, that the war is not going well at all, actually. McNamara agrees. But when the plane lands he disembarks and greets the press with a grin, continuing to lie through his teeth. A shaken Ellsberg returns to his office at RAND, opens his safe, and contemplates a thick stack of papers. Next, the Xerox machine.
It’s a compelling story, and it’s almost true. Ellsberg really was a high-ranking war planner before he copied and leaked the Pentagon Papers; he really did go to Vietnam and witness the quagmire firsthand; he delivered the bad news personally to McNamara on the flight back, who really did lie to the press on the tarmac. But that was not the moment that Ellsberg decided to become a whistleblower. I believe it is impossible to fully appreciate the profundity of Ellsberg’s subsequent heroism—and the magnitude of our collective loss, with his death on Friday at the age of ninety-two—without understanding the period of hesitation that preceded it. Ellsberg, always his own harshest critic, would call it moral weakness. Whatever you want to call it, the truth is this: After he returned from Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg went back to work. He didn’t photocopy anything. The most drastic action he took, in fact, was to call off his engagement with his future wife, Patricia, an anti-war journalist who refused to stop holding his feet to the fire.
“I’m trying to do the best I can to moderate the killing,” she recalls him telling her. Ellsberg had a better case than most. A PhD economist, Ellsberg was one of the world’s leading experts on decision-making under uncertainty; his research led him to an absolutist opposition to the atomic bomb that was not shared universally in the Pentagon—even before Richard Nixon, infamously cavalier about the prospect of a nuclear exchange, entered office. After learning more about the United States’ nuclear weapons protocols early in his career in the defense bureaucracy, Ellsberg became—and remained for the rest of his life—terrified that the risk of nuclear war was higher than almost anyone understood. And he told himself, quite persuasively, that the need to prosecute his nuclear safety campaign within official channels outweighed whatever moral compromises inhered in his continued cooperation with the machine waging immoral and unwinnable war in Vietnam.
Ellsberg’s great moral achievement was not turning against the Vietnam War. That was the bare minimum we could expect of a thinking, feeling person in those years. Rather, it was overcoming the seductive power of this story, the exculpation he initially furnished to himself and to his dovish friends: I can do more good from here, on the inside. There is a miraculous harmony between my career interests and the cause of harm reduction. What’s the alternative?
Ellsberg didn’t decide to exile himself from the elite circles in which he swam until he acquired an answer to this all-too-familiar rhetorical question. It came at a conference of the War Resisters League at Haverford College in August 1969, over two years after his return from South Vietnam and a year after the conclusion of the damning Pentagon study he would later release to the world. At the conference, Ellsberg heard firsthand from the draft resister Randy Kehler, who expressed his excitement that he would soon join his comrades in prison. Kehler’s testimony reconfigured Ellsberg’s mental universe. Here was living proof that there was an alternative after all: prison. The only honorable way to deal with an unjust government was to welcome its retribution. A more moderate slaughter wasn’t good enough, not if you were still responsible for pulling the trigger—behind the sandbags at Khe Sanh, or from your office in Arlington or Santa Monica.
Ellsberg left Kehler’s speech and shut himself in an empty campus restroom, where he wept on the floor for an hour. Then, and only then, did he open the safe that contained the Pentagon Papers.
Spielberg’s presentation is comforting because it allows viewers to imagine that we would have acted as Ellsberg did were we in his situation—because we, too, would have figured out that the war was bad, and that was all it took. But evidence to the contrary is all around, not merely ubiquitous but woven into the very fabric of life-making in our damnable society. We are all looking away from something. We eat our slave-labor chocolate; we pay our taxes to a state built on genocide that will without a doubt use some of those dollars to perpetuate atrocities we may never know about in far-flung corners of its empire. “You don’t want on this jury men of middle age,” advised a psychologist retained by the team that defended Ellsberg and his collaborator Tony Russo for leaking the Papers. “These are people who in the course of their lives might possibly have sacrificed principle for the sake of career, for the sake of family, and they lived with that compromise, and they will have a lot of disdain, even contempt for two men who did it for the sake of principle and took the risk.”
Ellsberg’s example is an enduring challenge not only to the resentful complacency of the Silent Majority but to a left that has come increasingly to tolerate middle-class careerist compromise in the half-century since Ellsberg’s prosecution. It’s not our fault, exactly. The unions were eviscerated; the Black revolutionaries were killed; the war resisters were jailed; academics and nonprofit executives filled the vacuum. That’s not to say that one can’t be useful to the cause with a PhD: as evidence, witness the life of one Dr. Daniel Ellsberg. But it requires an uncommon ethos of self-suspicion, as Ellsberg understood well. “I’ve come to realize the fear of being cut out from the group of people you respect and whose respect you want and normally expect keeps people participating in anything, no matter how terrible,” he reflected to a documentarian in 2009. Few of us are immune to that fear, and the rationalizations it brews in the professional mind. I teach at a university that accepted millions of dollars from Jeffrey Epstein, celebrates its relationship with Henry Kissinger, and has a pattern of insulating star faculty from accountability for sexual abuse. It’s a good job. I tell myself I can make things better.
We shouldn’t begrudge most people for wanting to find a way to sleep at night, though surely some could stand a bit more tossing and turning. It is more problematic when those rationalizations begin to infect our collective reflection on matters of political principle and strategy. Perhaps it really is the case, as many on the left have come to believe since 2016, that the best way to advance the cause of socialism is to work to elect unusually noble Democratic politicians to Congress and the White House. But it is also awfully convenient, at least for those of us who could imagine ourselves staffing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s West Wing. Ellsberg’s fundamental insight was not that it is impossible in theory to use the machinery of the American state to effect positive change, but that people—smart, well-intentioned people especially—underestimate the moral confusion that festers in the corridors of power. D.C. bureaus are overflowing with backslappers happy to extol the bravery of the most craven political decision-making. The cafeterias all serve lotus flowers for lunch: soon you forget even that there is something you have forgotten.
Ellsberg had a particularly acute grasp of what the historian Garry Wills has called “Bomb Power,” the way that the very existence of the United States’ nuclear arsenal fundamentally constrains the possibility of exercising democratic oversight of the nation’s military. The power to annihilate all human civilization cannot sanely be disposed of by popular vote. The bomb is a weapon suited only to a benevolent dictator, and that is how the United States came to envision the presidency in the nuclear age—culturally, politically, and even legally. Autocracy, of course, was easier to produce than benevolence. The bomb demands secrecy; secrecy demands lying; and lying demands lawlessness. “The public is lied to every day by the president, by his spokespeople, by his officers,” Ellsberg once asserted. “If you can’t handle the thought that the president lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn’t stay in the government at that level.” He left the contrapositive unstated: anyone who remains in government after obtaining a reasonably high-security clearance is ipso facto comfortable with the systematic mendacity built into the institution of the modern presidency. Even the ostensible good guys.
And yet nuclear disarmament has more or less disappeared from the agenda of the contemporary American left. Four years spent shuddering at the thought of Donald Trump with his finger on the button did essentially nothing to make the issue an organizing priority for any of the nation’s major left-wing organizations. This disinterest tracks the broader marginalization of anti-war and anti-imperialist commitments on the left; even the Democratic Socialists of America is too often willing to tolerate elected officials who dutifully vote to fund the American war machine as long as they espouse the proper progressive positions on health care and tax policy. At its worst, some members of the “populist” left today sneer at past generations’ anti-war politics as an extravagance that alienated the left from the concerns of ordinary working people (a category whose membership seems so often to stop at the U.S. border). For those who experienced the crushing disappointment of Barack Obama’s reign, which entrenched the power of an imperial presidency he had sworn to dismantle, it is easy to become fatalistic—to treat the perpetuation of American war crimes as an inevitability, against which one can only hope to adduce some positive accomplishments on the domestic front. This way of thinking increasingly distorts even the way we narrate history: hey, Johnson and Nixon killed a lot of Vietnamese people and told a lot of lies about the war, but they gave us Medicare and the EPA, so that has to count for something.
Daniel Ellsberg never let anyone off the hook that easily, including himself. He never forgot the lesson he learned in the summer of 1969: there is always an alternative. To conclude that there is no choice but to cooperate with evil is always to overlook something, some false assumption, some value inaccurately taken to be paramount. “If we have the will and determination,” Ellsberg told protesters on the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, we have “the power to change ourselves and history.” Most of us in the United States have been disempowered in a thousand ways large and small: as workers, as consumers, as citizens. But being disempowered does not mean that we are powerless, only that exercising our power will not be frictionless. It will hurt.
When it all seems too much to ask, we will always have the memory of Daniel Ellsberg. It’s a bright June day in Boston, 1971. The press swarms around Ellsberg outside of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where Ellsberg has come to turn himself in and face the wrath of the state for leaking the Pentagon Papers. One of the journalists asks him if he’s afraid to go to prison. Ellsberg smiles, as if he is grateful to the reporter for posing the question, the same question that set him to weeping in the bathroom at Haverford two years earlier at the start of it all. And he responds: “Wouldn’t you go to prison to help end this war?”
Erik Baker teaches the history of science and capitalism at Harvard University. He is an associate editor of The Drift.
In June’s high light she stood at the sink
With a glass of wine,
And listened for the bobolink,
And crushed garlic in late sunshine.
I watched her cooking, from my chair.
She pressed her lips
Together, reached for kitchenware,
And tasted sauce from her fingertips.
“It’s ready now. Come on,” she said.
“You light the candle.”
We ate, and talked, and went to bed,
And slept. It was a miracle.
— Donald Hall