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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, July 27, 2023

Seasonable | Riverside Sign | Body Found | Miles Oswald(s) | Earthian | Preschool Openings | Improve Procedure | Suba Spotting | AVCSD Minutes | Suzi's Tower | Conservation Ethic | Branscomb Store | County Notes | Thanks Jack | Cut Offs | Ed Notes | Raising Animals | Willits Art | Mockel Pledge | Thistle Pods | Roofing Permit | Yesterday's Catch | Drug Problems | Wealth Exodus | Hunter Plea | Invisible Man | Barbie Faludi | No Escape | Dem Downfall | Money Influence | Sinéad O’Connor | Ukraine | Why Hot | Boiling Point | Rewilding

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MILD WEATHER CONDITIONS continue across Northwestern California for the next several days. Interior temperatures will be near late July normals. Coastal areas will continue to experience periods of low clouds and patchy fog with a bit of early morning drizzle. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 51F with clear skies this Thursday morning on the coast. We can only hope today is a repeat of yesterday, which I do expect. Our forecast is for more of the same thru the weekend.

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Along the Navarro River (Jeff Goll)

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On Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at 8:54 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) Deputies and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) were dispatched to the area of North State Street at the North Highway 101 on-ramp in Ukiah for a Coroner's Investigation.

An unidentified adult male subject (Decedent) was located in a field, approximately one hundred (100) yards east of the North State Street on-ramp to North Highway 101. The decedent's body was decomposing and the decedent was pronounced deceased at 9:10 P.M. MCSO Deputies continued their investigation and it was determined the decedent was living a transient-type lifestyle based on items found in the area of the decedent.

Due to the decomposition of the decedent's body, MCSO Deputies could not positively identify the decedent and the investigation is on-going to determine the decedent's cause of death, identity, and notification to the decedent's Next-of-Kin.

This case is still under investigation by the MCSO and further information will be released as it becomes available.

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Miles Standish Jr & Sr

Both Miles Standish Oswald, Sr. and Miles Standish Oswald, Jr. passed away this year. 

Miles Sr. (AKA “Super Pa”), left us on the morning of July 16th, 2023 from Ukiah, CA. Miles Jr. (AKA “Milesito”, “Mozzy”) left us on April 18th from Lawndale, CA. 

Miles Sr. was born in Palo Alto, CA to H.A. and Beatrice Oswald in 1953. He spent his early years in Palo Alto before his family moved to Ukiah to pursue farming endeavors. He completed grade school at St. Mary of the Angels and spent his time playing sports, exploring the outdoors and learning the trade from his father, Grand Oz.

He completed high school at Bellarmine College Preparatory, where he mastered his pool, cards and ping-pong abilities. He would routinely school his 4 boys in ping-pong in the garage when they were growing up. He then graduated with Bachelors Degree in Spanish from Fresno State University. During his time at FSU, he spent a year abroad in Madrid Spain, where he perfected his Spanish and gained his love for travel and adventure.

He met his wife, Tracey, over 42 years ago. They had 4 boys: Miles Jr., Quincy, Max and Shane, in order of age. He was a devoted father, who committed time and resources to give his sons an upbringing ripe with opportunity. He taught them how to play sports and coached countless youth teams. He passed on a passion for fishing and instilled a love for camping and the great outdoors. He showed them what hard work, sacrifice and dedication looked like in practice. He loved his immediate family more than anything in this world and he demonstrated that love every day.

Miles Sr. was a farmer at heart; he owned and managed the Oswald Pear Ranch for over 30 years. He provided employment for hundreds of people and helped many around Ukiah achieve their personal goals through his caring management style. Additionally, he spent many years working various roles, from salesman to President, at the family winery, Husch Vineyards. He also owned and ran a tavern on the Oregon coast in his younger years and started a wine label with his older brother, Ken, in the mid 2000s called Standish Wine Co.

There was nothing he loved more than watching his sons play sports, whether it was Miles or Shane playing water polo, Quincy playing basketball or Max wrestling, he enjoyed them all equally. Miles Sr. was generous, charismatic and full of excitable energy.

He made every occasion better with his lively conversation, unique commentary and jovial personality. We'll miss you, Super Pa.

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Miles Jr. was born in Ukiah CA on September 29th, 1990. His schooling included the COOP nursery, Hopland Elementary, St. Mary of the Angels, Ukiah High and California State University Northridge. Miles was a rambunctious boy, who was known to hide from his teachers at preschool, only to cause panic in the frantic search for him which sometimes took multiple hours. When Miles was eventually found, he’d have a big grin on his face.

He grew up playing sports and computer games, which earned him the title of computer wizard amongst his family. He was a great swimmer, and played water polo for the inaugural Ukiah High School boys water polo team. After high school, Miles went on to graduate from CSU Northridge with a Bachelor's degree in accounting. He held an internship at a top-8 national accounting firm which turned into a full time role. Over a ten year career, Miles earned the designation of Senior Manager, held a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license, mentored and trained countless associates and completed thousands of client projects.

He loved sports, music and spending time with people. His free time typically included going to new restaurants, concerts and spending his Sundays watching the 49ers. He was friendly and outgoing - he made connections wherever he went and people always remembered their time with him, even if it was a 5 minute interaction. Miles was incredibly generous, both with his time and resources. It was impossible to pay for dinner with Miles and he'd often drop what he was doing to be there to support you. Miles was fun-loving and made the most out of life - he sought out new experiences and lived in the present every single day. We'll miss you, Milesito.

Miles Sr. and Miles Jr. leave behind a family of 4: Tracey (mother and wife), Quincy, Max and Shane Oswald (sons and brothers). Although their line has been broken, their name will live on. Their spirits and memories remain cherished by their close family and friends. In lieu of charitable donations or flowers, the Oswald family asks that you go fishing, plant a tree and be happy.

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ANDREW LUTSKY: Give to the EHSME Fund? A patron uses a pump and promotes an idea at the Ukiah Bicycle Kitchen, Alex Thomas Plaza, 7/22/23.

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Dear Anderson Valley Community,

If you know a three or four year old child in the valley, who needs a quality preschool experience, please refer them to Anita Mendoza at for enrollment and qualifying information for Peachland Preschool located on the elementary campus. Anita is always happy to meet with prospective families and explain the sliding scale payment and entry requirements. Reach out as soon as possible, as spaces fill quickly!

Sincerely yours,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

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Dear Editor,

While I am watching the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday AM, I have deep concerns that the new meeting format creates rushed or cut-off communication between not only Board members and a forced quick roll call vote, direction of not allowing back and forth debate and respectful exchange, rapid speech directing the meeting and direction to email the board or work with the CEO when full concerns cannot be expressed is harmful to the working climate the board has worked so hard for to be transparent. Maybe 3 min is not enough. Dr. Andy Coren was cut off abruptly, Board member Haschak was not allowed to discuss or debate his concerns. Now, the public and employees will need to go to private conversations to continue resolving situations or speak about county challenges or ideas for improvement. I understand each chairperson has their own style of running the meeting, however, I am very concerned.

I follow your coverage of county issues, I am asking you to assess if this really is a problem and my reaction is overreacting to a change, change is hard, or if there is anything that is needed to assure transparency in conversations, allowance for true discussions here where members of the public have historically been able to see Board of Directors and CEO Antle, as well as other public leaders and community members, truly have made headway in becoming a transparent, working team. I know there are knots and areas that need improvement, that is the way of government.

Sheri Brown


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On Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 1:46 P.M., a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was standing outside the Mendocino County Superior Court at 100 North State Street in Ukiah.

The Sheriff's Deputy saw 44-year-old, Kristoff E. Suba walking eastbound on West Standley Street and the Sheriff's Deputy knew Suba from prior law enforcement contacts. The Sheriff's Deputy knew Suba had two active warrants for his arrest out of Mendocino County.

Kristoff Suba

A warrants check confirmed there was an active Mendocino County felony and misdemeanor warrant for Suba's arrest.

Suba was arrested for the felony and misdemeanor warrants and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $35,000 bail.

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FROM THE MINUTES of the Anderson Valley Community Services District Board meeting last week:

FIRE CHIEF’S REPORT: After two months of being out of service, Rescue 7431 is back in service at Boonville Station. This is the only apparatus that can carry all the technical rescue inventory for the district. Some of the rescue equipment was put into our utility pickup 7441 so that it would be taken to scene automatically. The rest of the rescue cache was stored in Philo and would have required a special trip to pick up the equipment if an incident had occurred and the need identified. This would result in significant time delays for operations. Rescue’s incidents are “High Risk, Low Frequency” emergencies which we were luckily able to be avoided this time. Nonetheless, this experience demonstrated our response vulnerability due to having only one apparatus designed to carry rescue equipment. To fix this issue, I have found a way to move forward with acquiring a redundant rescue apparatus while maintaining our current apparatus replacement and response plan. I had intended to bring a rescue unit proposal to the Board in July but I need more time to ensure the district financials can adequately cover the cost. Cora [District Manager Cora Richard] and I need to rerun the financials before bringing the proposal to all applicable AVCSD committees during August.

STRIKE TEAM ASSIGNMENTS: AV Fire Department is not anticipating a large amount of strike team assignments this year. This is primarily due to the number of volunteers not available to commit to these assignments. We only have a handful of personnel who qualify as Engine Boss, Engineer and firefighter who also have the availability to deploy for multiple weeks at a time. It would be most likely to send an engine out on a CalFire station coverage instead since the crew rotation is easier when they are local. 

CLEAN WATER: Dave [consulting engineer David Coleman] reported that there were preliminary positive results about the level of the ground water. As ground water flows into the valley floor for quite some time after rains, late May/early June were the dates to get the highest readings of “seasonal high ground water.” The site data showed ground water levels ranged from 11-19’ which indicated there was sufficient room for our leach areas. Dave was still waiting on the permeability results but felt that the site would be acceptable. The finalized results (Ground water and permeability) should be available in a couple of weeks. The State will accept the technical results from the hydrologist, Steve Klick. We already had two Notice of Preparation meetings for Wastewater (Oct 12, 2017 and Nov 1, 2018) for the CEQA process; there are no more public meetings needed for this. Dave will also add Mendocino Building and Planning department as a “Responsible Agency” on the CEQA documents in case they need to issue a permit. Julia Krog (head of Planning and Building) was not sure they would be involved as it is a State project, but she recommended being on the CEQA document just in case so there are no delays. Dave says he will be able to do the Rate Study for Wastewater by the end of August which is the date that we have on our agreement for planning grant funding. Once we have the Rate Study we can start going through the LAFCo process as well.

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DRINKING WATER: Brent [Williams, the District’s attorney] reported that the negotiations with the Museum and the Health Clinic were being finalized and accepted. Meadow Estates is still waiting on the attorney. 

VETERANS’ BUILDING OWNERSHIP TRANSFER: Hanelt [Board Chair Valerie Hanelt] shared an update from Kirk Wilder: “American Legion Post 385 is currently negotiating with the County of Mendocino concerning the transfer of a currently county owned parcel containing the Boonville Veterans Building from county ownership to Post 385 ownership. The County has stated Post 385 qualifies for this transfer at little or no cost. The concern the Post has is if the Post will qualify for property tax exemption. It appears that the Post will be granted exemption, however it is an involved process to obtain a definitive answer. The Post is in the process of filing a claim for an organizational clearance certificate-veterans’ organization exemption. In order to file this, claim the Post must provide formative documents showing the Post is a non-profit and tax-exempt organization. These documents have been requested from the CA Sec of State’s office and have yet been delivered. Once received, the Post will then file the claim for an organizational clearance certificate with the CA Board of Equalization. If the Certificate is granted then the Post must file an application with the Mendocino County Assessor’s office. They are the entity who will make the final determination regarding the property tax exemption requested by the Post. If granted, the Post has every intention of continuing negotiations with the County to obtain the said property. If not granted, the Post will decline to proceed and request the County initiate negotiations with the AVCSD. That is where we are at this moment. I am hopeful the Post will hear something soon from the Sec. of State. However, I am departing Monday morning on a three-week vacation, so I do not expect anything to happen until I return. I have informed the County of my vacation plans and the above outline process I have initiated, and they understand.”

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IDEA for Funding Maintenance for Future Public Improvements in Anderson Valley: (CSD Board Chair Valerie) Hanelt shared that she had met with Patrick Miller (of the AV Land Trust) and that they discussed a foundation to support Anderson Valley projects. Miller will come in August to further discuss the One Percent Program. There was talk about a 501c3. (Board member Francois) Christen suggested reaching out to Megan Allende from The Community Foundation. This is preliminary and may not even happen for three or four years down the road.

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Suzi's Tower by Debra Beck Lennox

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With the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) assuming authority for Mendocino City Community Services District’s (MCCSD) $5 million, publicly funded water supply and storage project, a project initiated by MCCSD in 2021 to meet Mendocino’s emergency water needs during drought, alternatives are desperately needed to reduce the community’s reliance on this, yet another imported supply, and to develop potable supply and storage with longer carryover potential - this time, which remains firmly in the hands of the one-square mile the community services district is authorized to serve.

Most water experts agree that the only way to become sustainable is to lower demand until it matches supply. Some fear that this will hurt the economy, when the reality is that resources are finite and in control. It’s clear the unconfined, highly-rainfall dependent aquifer that lies under Mendocino is not only stressed, but that the place has developed beyond its capacities: the town simply lacks the groundwater resources it requires to sustain current needs. Continued reliance on neighboring water systems and watersheds is not living within ones means. Driven by necessity and experience, the challenge then becomes how best to provide safe, clean, and affordable water while maintaining the integrity of healthy ecosystems and critical habitat: in essence, balancing the needs of society with those of the environment.

Living in Mendocino has historically instilled a strong water conservation ethic in those who have lived there. For the last 52 years, residential groundwater allotments have been controlled, water use managed, and indulgences like fountains, pools, and irrigated lawns - if not considered downright taboo, then inexcusable. But even with these measures, new concepts in water and wastewater infrastructure require consideration. They have to. We’ve little choice in coastal northern California, where ongoing climatic shifts will continue to affect the reliability of local water supplies. It is projected that over the next twenty years, California could lose 10% of its water supplies as the climate changes, resulting in longer droughts, heavier precipitation events, less average snowfall, and increased evapotranspiration consumption of water by vegetation, soil, and the atmosphere. One of the largest global institutions, the World Bank, reports that some regions could expect their growth rates to decline by as much as 6% by 2050 as a result of water-related losses in agriculture, income, and prosperity. 

Opportunity lies in the direct potable reuse of recycled wastewater, or “DPR.” Groundwater extraction and desalination, once thought of as silver bullets, saviors that could insure unlimited water security, are not without serious constraints. The cumulative impacts of escalating levels of groundwater pumping is now showing to have had global consequences. In a recent study of the journal of Geophysical Research Letters, climate model estimates indicate that groundwater depletion has been significant enough to cause the Earth’s axis of rotation to drift approximately 2.6 feet between 1993 and 2010. And given desalination’s costs to ratepayers, its high energy use, GHG emissions, and impacts to marine and estuarine life, it is considered by many authorities to be an option of last resort, an investment to be made only after water conservation and efficiency targets are met. DPR, on the other hand, provides multiple benefits to increase climate resiliency and local water security; it is projected to dominate over desalination for several critical reasons. 

First, the technology to produce high-quality, purified water from reclaimed wastewater is here. It is mature technology, it’s effective, and it’s on the fast track to become a core component of California’s future water systems. Just last year, research engineers from Stanford University showed that recycled wastewater is not only as safe to drink as potable water, but that it may even be less toxic than many sources of water since more extensive treatment is conducted. Years earlier, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded that the health risks from drinking water produced by the advanced treatment of wastewater did not appear to be any higher and may possibly be lower than any risk of conventionally treated water. Currently, 2.6 million acre-feet annually of wastewater goes unrecycled in the state with 1.7 million acre-feet of it is discharged to the ocean. AB 574 (2017) will establish uniform water recycling criteria protective of public health and create new regulations which are expected late this year. The state is reportedly on target and has gone even further with the regulations; in fact, a first draft of the regulations was released just last week by the State Water Resources Control Board. The Ocean Protection Council has also set goals for recycling wastewater and the state’s Ocean Strategic Plan has ambitious intentions to recycle 100% of it. 

Not only is DPR a drought-proof water source, it is two to three times less costly than desalination, it can reduce aquifer contamination caused by over-pumping, and can decrease or eliminate the discharge of wastewater into rivers and seas. The more wastewater that can be recycled and reused, the less that must be extracted from natural and politically-contentious river and groundwater systems such as Hare Creek, Jack Peters Creek, Slaughterhouse Gulch, the Noyo, Big, and Navarro rivers, their headwaters, tributaries, seeps, springs, or alluvium – all of which are protected under public trust law - and the more people, services, and food that can be supported. With environmental stressors mounting, we can’t continue to take from our natural water resources and wonder where the fish went. Livelihoods, as well as species, depend upon our success. 

Few towns are better poised to engage DPR than Mendocino. If the development of a public water system, which was announced by MCCSD at a SAFER meeting last November is indeed “the goal”, the time to develop DPR infrastructure is now, while state and federal funding remains available. Just two weeks ago, NOAA announced 575 million dollars available in grant funding to benefit resiliency projects specific to coastal communities. In Mendocino’s case, a hybrid solution may even be possible, whereby the thirsty transient population (tourism and hospitality) and landscape irrigation, which consume the lion’s share of water in Mendocino, is provided with DPR supplies and the resident population elects to maintain private, tested wells for domestic purposes, thereby lessening impacts on local surface and groundwater resources while insuring every Californian’s right to the safe, clean, affordable and accessible water guaranteed to them under AB 685 (2012), the Human Right to Water. It could also revise and relieve the financial burdens on the town’s wastewater treatment plant, where expensive infrastructure improvements are needed such as the replacement of an ocean outfall and construction of a secondary new treatment unit. Best of all, DPR has the potential to cut the plant’s ocean discharge well in advance of the state target dates - when it will become necessary to do so.

If coastal communities are serious about expanding their capacity to treat wastewater in anticipation of a drier future ahead, there’s plenty of work to be done outside of pursuing grant funding. Water supply targets based upon reasonable, equitable water consumption levels and appropriately sustainable levels of carefully-managed growth needs to be established. Cost-benefit analyses need to be developed and political and regulatory factors investigated. Honest, transparent public dialogue is needed to outline needs and consider impacts on ratepayers to avoid economic shock, especially in disadvantaged communities. Gaps in hydrologic data need to be daylighted and an open-sourced water data platform developed which is verified, trusted, and fully accessible to the public in the spirit of AB 1755 (2016), the Open and Transparent Water Data Act, with the hopes of minimizing conjecture and maximizing evidence-based, data-driven decision-making. 

Crippling, multiple-year drought forces the awareness that water is not only precious, it is finite and exhaustible. It’s not free and with the development of a public water system, it will become very expensive. Societal habits of using water once and discarding it are the past. Climatic variabilities will result in multiple impacts that will require new thinking, new habits, and a fundamental shift in how water is understood, valued, and managed. Wastewater must be seen as no longer a liability, but a way forward to a more sustainable and equitable future, and an asset whose true value is security.

Christina Aranguren


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Branscomb Gerneral Store (Jeff Goll)

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by Mark Scaramella

County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Katrina Bartolomie told the Board on Tuesday that she was unable to provide a written report of assessment activity as directed by the Board because her staff was unable to run any reports themselves. 

“IT [Information Technology] is feverishly working on getting us reports that we can run ourselves to improve our reporting capability,” said Bartolomie. “In June we pushed everything we possibly could through to close the tax roll on time.”

Remember, the County paid millions of dollars for this fancy new property tax system, “Aumentum,” and it still can’t provide basic reports. Somebody back in the CEO Carmel Angelo days was obviously asleep at the switch when this conversion was made. For decades the County limped along with its antiquated property tax system. But when it came time to install the new one, nobody bothered to make sure the new one worked properly before they abandoned the old system. Now they’re reduced to begging the already-paid software vendor to do even their most basic reports.

“We currently have six real property appraisers and two personal or business auditor appraisers,” continued Bartolomie. “We have interviews set up within the next ten days for two real property appraisers and an auditor-appraiser/Senior auditor-appraiser as well as our second real property assessor tech. We are excited about that.”

Which is very good, but has nothing to do with assessment reporting. 

Then she moved in the direction of a report.

“We have over 61,000 parcels in Mendocino County with 4500 of those in the Williamson Act (agricultural tax exemption).”

OK, but what about the assessments?

“We assigned three appraisers to get their reports last week but most of them failed. So we had to go to the vendor to get these figures. We have noted before that with a lot of these reports, if we run them in the morning, and then run them an hour later they vary. So this is the best I could do right now without having the appraisers do a manual report.”

Nobody semed interested in why a report would change if no info was added or changed.

“One change of ownership can affect one parcel or multi parcels,” Bartolomie said. “In June alone we processed 536 parcels. That was worth $65 million. That was for our supplemental roll.”

That works out to about $121k per parcel. If those are residential parcels, that sounds suspiciously low. Although since they’re “supplemental,” they could be for added structures on existing parcels. But no one asked.

“For our corrections and escapes, which are refunds and escapes — escapes are where it escapes the roll. It doesn't mean anybody did anything wrong, it just escaped that actual fiscal year roll.”

Ok, good; nobody did anything wrong. So why did they “escape”? Staffing? Nobody asked.

“We processed 500 parcel numbers with $52 million for the tax roll.”

In addition to the 536?

“We have also been processing refunds which we've been trying to process…”

Refunds? How much are those worth? When do they have to be paid?

Board Vice Chair Maureen Mulheren abruptly cut Ms. Bartolomie off at this point claiming she had used up her three minutes. Mulheren said she hoped that the Assessor could provide a report in the CEO Report next month.

Bartolomie tried to continue anyway: “We plan on doing another supplemental roll and escape correction by the end of the month. Our next report will be data that is not included in our report…”

Mulheren cut her off again and did not allow for any board discussion or clarification of these seemingly random, uncontextualized numbers, limited as they are.

Despite Ms. Bartolomie's well-meaning attempt, her belated “report” was obviously incomplete, haphazard, not in writing and unclear. You might expect that since these assessments are the foundation of both the County's General Fund revenue as well as local schools and special districts that the Board would have taken some time to at least make sure the reports are clear and provide useful information. Instead, all we were told was that they “processed” 536 parcels worth $65 million. Or was it 500 parcels at $50 million? What does that translate to in terms of taxes? And when might they come in? How many of those were sent to the Tax Collector for collection? How many are past due? What does Ms. Bartolomie mean by “Our next report will be data that is not included in our report…”?

As usual, the Board complains about not having enough financial information, but they make no effort to get it. They even rudely cut off the person who was trying to give them a report.

Will next month be any better?

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‘Will Strike If Provoked…’

Julie Bearsley, President of SEIU Local 1021: "Last year we came to you in good faith hoping that you had budgeted a reasonable cost of living adjustment into your budget planning. You kept us in negotiations for eight months before offering a 2% cost-of-living adjustment [which was paid for out of covid money] and you did not make it retroactive to cover those eight months. Is this going to be your tactic again this year? We asked to settle this contract before it expired on June 30. Here we are almost to August and the only thing you have brought to the table is a salary reduction. We now learn that the board is going on vacation for the entire month of August while your employees have no contract. This speaks volumes to me about how much you care about your dedicated staff who work at often stressful and dangerous jobs. You say the county has no money and that you are in a financial hole. This is a situation that you created. There are funds out there that need to be collected. There are revenues that need to be picked up. We ask you to come up with some creative solutions. For example, when Lake County had financial difficulties they offered a paid week off for Christmas and New Year's. There are solutions out there. We can come together and come to an agreement about this contract. We would prefer not to go on strike. But that option is definitely on the table if you can't come up with some kind of reasonable proposal. We would like you to use some of the reserve funds that were set aside to stabilize and support county staff. We would like you to address the chronic lack of staffing. In public health, the state has provided millions of dollars to help public health staff. Where is that money? We must have public health staff hired! We have a public health crisis in his county! We do not want to go on strike. We would like to come to some agreement. Please work with us.”

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COINCIDENTALLY, the Supervisors issued the following presser the next day…

Board of Supervisors August Recess

The Board of Supervisors typically meet for 2 Regular Meetings, 1 Regular Closed Session Meeting, and 1-2 Standing Committee Meetings each month. To meet public noticing requirements and adequately prepare for these Meetings (in addition to Assessment Appeals Board Meetings and City Selection Committee Meetings), Clerk of the Board staff are typically working on two upcoming meetings at any given time. The August Recess was implemented in 2022, to provide time for Clerk of the Board staff to complete behind-the-scenes work such as records filing, annually required tasks, and preparation for the upcoming year. While there are no Regular Board Meetings from August 1, 2023, to August 27, 2023, the Members of the Board of Supervisors continue to hold/attend their other regularly scheduled committee and public meetings during the August Recess.

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UNION REP Patrick Hickey: “Mendocino County is facing a crisis in leadership. This time calls for bold action, not handwringing and equivocation. It's time to unite the ranks and have a laser focus on the most important duties of county government. Instead we see finger-pointing and shoulder shrugging. The path out of this morass is to stand behind your staff and move the county forward. Let's create a culture that supports excellence, retains experience, and lives its values. The administration has started a new scheme called the Golden Gate Bridge Initiative. it is based on a concept that it's safe and sound to keep the Golden Gate Bridge painted. The idea is to engage in a constant improvement process and evaluation. But it seems apparent that the board is missing the point with its own staff. Instead of constant improvement and evaluation the board wants to put the paint buckets down and close their eyes to what is needed to maintain the health and efficiency of the county. The Golden Gate Bridge workers continually paint the bridge because they know if they didn't it would rust and become unsafe. Not paying a living wage is not painting the bridge. Doing nothing will make things worse. Not paying a living wage will drive stat away. The question always comes back to, Where is the money to pay for it? The county has money set aside for a rainy day. Reserves have accrued because of the tightened wage rates over the years. Those reserves have grown from $2 million to over $20 million in recent years primarily due to wages being cut. Now is the time to use that money. If tapping reserves will put another deputy on the street, retain an experienced emergency response child and family services social worker, or fill positions that help us collect the taxes owed to the county, the board needs to do it. Your most important job as supervisors is planning and projecting funds for the budget. No board in the state knows with certainty what the future will bring, but they put plans and systems in place to meet the needs and the capacity of their county. We have heard board members say they need to bring salaries to market and right size staff to pay living wages. But the administration has made no proposals in this regard. Propose that if you support it. You are not just people in the peanut gallery throwing out random, idle suggestions. You are in charge of running the county government and supporting the staff that do the day-to-day work. We ask you to move decisively to move the county forward rather than cower and crouch in complacency. We ask you to work with your staff instead of against it. Time is running short.”

MEANWHILE, as the Supervisors offer nothing but pay cuts, the County Library is proposing a program that at least might offer some brief respite for County Workers — if they can find the time for it in the middle of their busy work days:

“De-Stress with a Therapy Dog (for Adults). Every other Tuesday from 1-2 pm. The Ukiah Branch Library welcomes adults to read to or simply de-stress with Emma, a certified & trained therapy dog who enjoys visiting with adult humans. Studies show that petting & interacting with a therapy dog can alleviate symptoms of anxiety & boost your mood. Drop into the Ukiah branch to say hi to Emma! This event will take place every other Tuesday from 1-2 pm beginning on February 14th. Please contact the Ukiah Branch Library at 707-463-4490 for more information.”

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This Board is not transparent, they are corrupt. You are right, the three minute rule was used to cut people off. This is by design. They want to limit employees from speaking during these contract issues. Remember BOS was given a raise because they tied themselves into receiving raises with department heads. Not one of them refused the raise during this difficult time of employees with no contract, instead they accepted their raise and sent the employees a pay cut.

Several times Haschak was cut off by Photo-Op Mo when he wanted to discuss “The Scam”, Item 4B The Contingency Plan for a Director of Finance Position. And they do not want the public chiming in on this issue. This is a plan to blame Chamise Cubbison for all budget issues orchestrated by ex CEO DeAngelo, Bowtie Ted, Basement Dan and Glenn” Forrest Gump” McGourty. They consolidated two offices with no plan after being warned this move would destroy County finances. It has, they don’t want to take the blame and McGourty along Gjerde show their true colors and will not run, COWARDS!!!!!!!!!

I have watched County politics for over 40 years, it is very apparent this Board is manipulating, corrupt and will lie at the drop of a hat to get what they want. Bowtie continues to say, “I have never seen budget reports or balance sheets since I took office.” Well Bowtie does this mean you have passed three budgets with no reports? This act alone would be considered stupid or is a lie. I don’t think you’re that stupid, but I could be wrong.

This next vote is huge, with the two Cowards not running, this forces change in two districts. We need to take control of District 2, which is currently Photo-Op Mo, she is not qualified and only cares about getting her picture taken for her Facebook page. Hasschak needs help, he is a man on an island, he seems to be the only Supervisor there for the right reasons.

* * *


KATHY WYLIE: Re: Real Estate Broker Pamela Hudson: The public should refer to the appeal filed by attorney Brian Momsen which showed that the entire judgement was improper and no wrongdoing was ever committed. Court of Appeal Case No: A161811. Superior Court No: SCUK CVPB 2016-26644


Prominent Coast Realtor, Pam Hudson, lost big recently in the superior courtroom of Judge Nadel. Not a complicated case but confirmed in the usual mound of legal paperwork confirming that Ms. Hudson looted the family trust in both senses as its trustee, signing over mom's house to herself and also routing a big slug of mom's assets to herself. “Respondent (Pam Hudson) intentionally and in bad faith breached her fiduciary duties as trustee of the trust…” etc. and so on to the tune of a little over a cool mil, which she has now been ordered to pay her two ripped-off siblings.

A CALLER ASKED, “What’s that black flag underneath the American flag at the Boonville Post Office?” Remember Frank Riggs? Of course you don't. Nothing memorable about our one-term congressman, but while he was briefly in office some years ago, he teamed up with his fellow Republicans to pass a law that post offices throughout the country would fly a flag representing men and women missing in action, despite Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia having been thoroughly searched for people still being held. But remains of missing soldiers were turned up and identified so the effort was worth doing. Today? As an issue, missing combat people seems to have gone away, but the black flag flies, “POW/MIA You are not forgotten” against a silhouetted figure of a dejected prisoner beneath a guard tower.

RECOMMENDED READING. MAYBE: ‘Notorious B.I.G.’ by Jake Brown. If you ever wonder why so many black kids are shooting each other these days, this bio of the late rapper, Biggie Smalls, is a learning experience for mystified white people. As a perfectly contra-indicated role model, Smalls' brief life — he was shot to death in '97 at the age of 24 — is instructive. He was indeed a kind of creative genius as a composer of the rhythmic doggerel that reflects ghetto street life, but it’s a life of romanticized drugs and violence that's not overtly recommended in this man’s rap but, to millions of young people, it's seductive, I guess, because the doomed life it describes seems more exciting than the old 9-5. 

A FRIEND sends along a story on Orr Hot Springs from the travel section of a Seattle paper. How many times over the years have the corporate media dispatched one of their voyeurs to write up the nude hot tubbers at Orr? Annually, it seems. A reader put the experience this way: “The no-clothes part doesn’t come easily for me, either, but if that’s what it takes to sit in a tub of greasy, luke-warm water with a nude grandmother, I’ll waddle pink-butted and shrunk-balled through five miles of snow drifts before I do it!” 

* * *


Fair exhibitor celebrates last year at the fair before entering culinary school 

Kylee De Lapo, 18 is working hard and savoring her last year as an exhibitor at the Redwood Empire Fair. A Potter Valley native and Potter Valley High graduate, she has raised swine since she was eight years old. 

“Everyone in my family raised animals. My mom raised pigs. My uncle raised pigs and lambs. My aunt raised steer and was Grand Champion four times.” 

Kylee has been a member of 4H and FFA. “At first, I didn’t want to raise animals, but I fell in love with pigs, with 4H, with the people and with Fair. I was really scared showing during my first year. I didn’t do the best, but I got very, very lucky and received $28 per pound for my pig, so I was very thankful,” she smiles. She has been saving all her money to attend the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, located in Saint Helena, where she will begin classes in January. 

This year, Kylee will be showing Petunia, a Hampshire/Yorkshire cross. She describes the process of checking in on the first day of the fair. 

“The morning you bring your animals in, they go immediately on the scale. Pigs have to weigh in above 220 pounds and below 280 pounds. If your pig is freaking out and pooping, you have to keep them calm and feed them a little extra. Then they have to pass a drug test, along with being dewormed monthly.” FFA members submit a record book documenting all the activities related to raising their animals, including how they were cared for and how exhibitors spent their money. “Then we take a three-hour ethics training course. Even though I’ve done it for the past 11 years, it’s still required. It helps us make sure we’re properly taking care of our animals.” 

She is still surprised that many fair visitors don’t realize how challenging it is to raise an animal and show it at the Fair. 

“People can just go buy an animal and give it some feed. But being in 4H and FFA shows us how to really care for your animals. I realize raising animals may not be for everyone. Some people just don’t like animals, and they do smell,” she laughs. “You get used to it. I have learned so much from raising animals. You’re learning leadership skills, time management, hard work and even public speaking. If I wouldn’t have gone through this, I wouldn’t have the drive to go to culinary school.” 

Fair exhibitors have a different life than many of their teen peers. 

“Every morning and night I’m feeding Petunia. I work in catering, so my mom is a big help if I can’t be home to feed the pigs. In terms of free time and hanging out with friends, I definitely don’t do that as much as others.” Even attending the Fair is a different experience. “We have a 10:00 PM curfew. I ride maybe one ride and eat maybe one corn dog. You’re at Fair for your animal.” 

“To go to the Fair and show animals is unique. Even people from Ukiah will say, ‘You raise animals? Where’s Potter Valley?’ It’s really cool to bring new experiences to people,” she continues. 

Following culinary school, Kylee hopes to move to Italy to complete her internship. She has already visited the country and loves it. “My favorite place was Sicily. We stayed in cute little cottages at a working olive farm about 20 miles down a dirt road. There was thunder, lightning, rain and hole in the roof- but it was the best place we stayed. There were people from all over Europe working there. We made our own wine and sat down at a big dinner table, all together. It was such a cool experience.” 

For anyone thinking about raising an animal, Kylee says, “Go for it. No question. I was so shy before I did FFA. Now I speak my mind. My teachers have taught me so much. They’re more than teachers- they’re my friends. They are welcoming of everybody and everyone. Plus, you’re making a little extra cash,” she smiles. “I don’t think people realize how much money the community spends at the Fair just to help out our youth,” Kylee concludes. 

The Market and Breeding Swine Show takes place Thursday, August 3rd at 8:00 AM, with Swine Showmanship on Friday, August 4th at 8:00 AM. 

Jennifer Seward, CEO of Redwood Empire Fair notes that the Livestock Auction provides a great opportunity to purchase custom cuts of meat for oneself, family or friends. The meat can also be donated to a non-profit organization for a tax write-off. The 2022 buyers are welcome to attend a “Thank-You Breakfast” prior to the Saturday’s auction at 8:00 AM at the Willow Tree Stage. 

“There are 261 lots in the Auction this year- everything from rabbits to steers-with a significant increase from last year’s entries,” says Seward. “We invite everyone to attend and bid at the Livestock Auction on Saturday, August 5th beginning at 10:30 AM at the Racine Pavilion,” Seward concludes. 

The Fair runs from August 3rd to August 6th. It opens at 3:00 on Thursday and Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday. For more information phone (707) 462-3884, visit the Redwood Empire Fair’s Facebook page or 

* * *

"THIS IS WILLITS" at the Willits Center for the Arts is a great showcase of local talent. The show will be all about your town, Willits. 

With 20 artists exhibiting their photographs from the Willits Photography Club, and paintings by 14 painters. There will be a diverse range of artwork to appreciate. Artists from Willits were invited to show their talent. 

Natalie Campbell's "Oh Say Can You See" (Image provided by the Willits Center for the Arts)

Opening on Saturday, August 5th at 5:30, in conjunction with the Willits Art Walk, it provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the art scene and support the artists and your Art Center. The month-long exhibition, running from August 5th to August 30th, allows plenty of time to visit the location at 71 E. Commercial St. in Willits. Enjoy the show!

* * *


To the Editor:

If Board Vice Chair Supervisor Mulheren can begin a Board meeting by inviting 1st District Supervisor Candidate Trevor Mockel — unanimously, prematurely and suspiciously endorsed by all five Supervisors for no reason at all — to the podium to lead the Board in the Pledge of Allegiance, as Mulheren did yesterday, Tuesday, July 25, then fair play should dictate that the Board should also invite all other 1st District candidates to the podium to similarly lead the Board in the Pledge of Allegiance.

I wrote to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) this morning complaining that Mulheren's action represented an implied political endorsement during a Board meeting.

The other three 1st District candidates should also be submitting their own complaints to the FPPC.

Below, please find the link to the FPPC's electronic complaint form:

At the very least, the FPPC should sanction Mulheren, and, as a corrective action, the FPPC should order the three other 1st District candidates be invited to lead the Board in the Pledge of Allegiance in three other future meetings at their convenience.

Carrie Shattuck are you listening?

Adam Gaska are you listening?

Madeline Cline are you listening?


John Sakowicz 


ms NOTES: Mr. Sakowicz omitted the fifth apparent candidate for the First District seat, David Goodman. (Granted, he’s kept a pretty low profile so far.)

PS. Mr. Sakowicz sent his complaint to Supervisor Mulheren who replied: “Hi John, When I was on the City Council we regularly invited members of the public to recite the pledge. I will continue to do that at any meeting I Chair. I will rotate the request to members in the audience. That would include the other candidates for 1st District if they are in attendance. As you know though I was only filling in and my Chair seat doesn’t start until next year. Enjoy your vacation.”

SAKOWICZ REPLIED: “Thank you for your response.

I hate to be a stickler for the rules, but in having one candidate lead the Pledge of Allegiance, you are obligated to invite the three other candidates. Appearances are as important as the letter of the law, and what you did was an implied endorsement, especially in the light of the fact that you have already publicly endorsed Trevor Mockel along with the other members of the Board.

That's why I asked the FPPC for corrective action.

I'm copying Glenn on this email. As Board Chair, I hope he extends those invitations to the other candidates. I'll also copy County Counsel, since we are in the middle of campaign season and his opinion on this matter would be useful.

I remember when I was running for 1st District Supervisor, Katrina Bartolomie, acting as Commissioner of Elections, didn't even allow me to speak during public comment at Board meetings. Once, she stormed into a Board meeting and took the microphone away. She said that I was “campaigning on county property.”

You can ask Katrina. She is a stickler. Again, appearances are everything.

Thank you.”

* * *

Thistles going to seed, Lake Mendocino (Jeff Goll)

* * *


Did you know…

…that the city of San Francisco requires a building permit to remove or relocate a sign? And it may require, as Twitter is finding out, a building permit to change the lettering of their building signs from “Twitter” to “X.” Of course, you will pay $1,000 or more for the privilege.

Closer to home, Mendocino County requires a building permit to re-roof your home. This is absurd on the surface especially since an inspection is required regardless. But it also costs money and delays the project for however long it takes to get a permit --- months? 

Here's an idea. Have a special portal at the County's website for licensed roofers. The roofer fills out a simple form including their license number, an attestation that there are no complaints or pending lawsuits against them, the address, a declaration that they will properly dispose of the old roof, and a timeline. Or something like this that assumes the roofer is trustworthy.

The County would then have three working days to approve or not approve after which it would be deemed approved.

It's a start, right?

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Bolivar, Cornejo, Diaz

RAIZIMAR BOLIVAR, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.

BRANDON CORNEJO, Ukiah. Protective order violation.

KOLTEN DIAZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

Furey, Gillespie, Guarino, Lavenduskey


KYLE GILLESPIE, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.

DAVID GUARINO, Ukiah. Felon-addict with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person.

RITA LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Under influence. (Frequent Flyer)

Pecheron, Stone, Sumpter

ZAHIR PECHERON, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.

SCOTT STONE, Conway, South Carolina/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JENNIFER SUMPTER, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, registration tampering, ammo possession by prohibited person, suspended license for refusing chemical test, failure to appear.

Vanarsdale, Warner, Willett

MANDY VANARSDALE, Redwood Valley. Attempted murder.

JERNI WARNER, Clearlake/Willits. DUI-drugs&alcohol, suspended license for DUI, no license, leaving scene of accident with property damage, probation violation.

DONALD WILLETT JR., Willits. Concealed dirk-dagger, false ID, failure to appear, probation revocation.

* * *


In drug use and addiction running away from life number one it’s easy.

You don’t have to be educated to be a drug dealer. Street savvy is golden so there’s no need for education to make money. You don’t care about your customers if they’re dying off all you care about is making money.

If your a low educated drug dealer you have no idea of health, business logic or humanity. $ is $. Anyone have the pleasure of connection with these lovey souls ya know ya know whadda I mean. Ya know???

Next…no accountability all the $ pouring treatment and services that are wel…NOT TRULY TREATMENT OR SERVICES. When busted the first time for such deadly blind behaviors MAJOR jail time. OD right to Rehab no questions asked.

Rehab no accountability or sustainable outcomes with…30 days no. 90 days no. 120 bottom line maybe 1 year best. Would save a ton on OD deaths hospitalizations and community based fees this way.

More vocational education for future life earlier. Community mentoring.

Media standards for advertising pharma.


Quit using Fentanyl in any manner. Black box drug. Quit manufacturing Fentanyl immediately. Fentanyl compounds for black market production treated like meth components and heavly regulated access/PENALTIES.

Normalizing addiction has destroyed Nor Cal.

The US.

40+ million families have members struggling with addiction WTF????

There are no winners in living like this.

Want to know why everything else is collapsing?

Spending our road and education funds on addiction.

Loosing entire gennerations to opioid addiction so there are NO workers.

Booking log photo in Mendo few days back… Almost at bottom. That guy Twisted all up. Wasn’t his first rodeo. How does winding up like this become okay to societies let alone anyone?

We gotta do better.

* * *

* * *

STUNNED ONLOOKERS GASP as Hunter Biden’s ‘sweetheart’ plea deal crumbles in court: ‘Tear this up!’

by Reuven Fenton and Steven Nelson

WILMINGTON, Del. — Spectators at the federal courthouse here were left stunned Wednesday as first son Hunter Biden’s “sweetheart” plea deal began to collapse — setting off a chain of events that ended in President Biden’s 53-year-old son entering a plea of not guilty to tax and gun charges.

At one point, Hunter’s lawyer Chris Clark threatened to “tear this up right now” if prosecutors didn’t meet his conditions — apparently a bid for blanket immunity for his client.

US District Judge Maryellen Noreika, who set a follow-up court date for Aug. 25, had been expected to quickly sign off on the Biden Justice Department’s deal with Hunter, but instead, the proceedings began to break down about 90 minutes into the three-hour hearing.

A gasp emerged from reporters and interested attorneys sitting in the gallery after Noreika asked assistant US attorney Leo Wise if there was an “ongoing” criminal investigation involving Hunter — as Delaware US Attorney David Weiss has consistently said.

Wise replied “Yes” and added that if the first son’s defense team thought otherwise, “then there’s no deal.”

Clark responded, “As far as I’m concerned, the plea agreement is null and void” — leaving attendees stunned and causing some journalists to rush out of the courtroom to brief their colleagues.

An attempt to resurrect the deal following a 20-minute break failed when Noreika said she needed time to analyze the terms of the revised bargain.

Hunter was stone-faced throughout the proceedings and passed the time doodling during one exchange between Wise and the judge. 

The initial deal crumbled over two sticking points: Whether Hunter could face additional future charges, such as for allegedly working as an unregistered foreign agent; and whether the two misdemeanor counts of failure to pay taxes could be decoupled from the felony charge of possessing a weapon while addicted to a controlled substance — in the first son’s case, crack cocaine.

Under the terms of the unusual agreement, Hunter would only receive two years of probation on the gun charge rather than prison time.

Noreika repeatedly expressed skepticism of the first deal, asking at one point: “Have you ever seen a diversion agreement that is so broad that it encompasses crimes in another case?”

When the judge queried Wise about whether he knew of any precedent for such a deal, the prosecutor replied, “No, your honor.”

“If I were to reject the plea, what happens?” Noreika also asked, to which Wise replied that the case would go to trial, with the possibility of additional charges.

“I’m not aware of additional charges,” Clark rejoined. “The US attorney met for five years, going through my client’s taxes on a line-by-line basis. They pursued it with unbelievable diligence and doggedness. I don’t think there are any additional charges to be brought.” 

Ultimately, both sides agreed that the general parameters of the original deal would remain and that it would be specified that Hunter would face no further legal exposure over his failure to pay taxes from 2014 to 2019, his drug use, or illegal gun possession — leaving open the possibility of future criminal counts over purported foreign lobbying, bribery or other charges related to his dealings in countries such as China and Ukraine.

When asked by the judge why he failed to pay taxes even in years when he was not abusing drugs, Hunter claimed: “In getting my life back together, there was a flood of an enormous amount of problems” that, in the first son’s telling, resulting in his failure to pay what IRS agents say was about $2.2 million on $8.3 million in foreign income.

Hunter also claimed to Noreika that he most recently was treated for alcohol and drug addiction with inpatient rehab in late 2018. 

He initially said that his last time using drugs was in June 2019.

The first son later claimed he actually stopped using after getting married on May 17, 2019. 

However, he admitted that he did have “a drink or two” after that and stated June 1, 2019, was his actual sobriety date.

As the hearing reached its conclusion, Noreika pressed lawyers on both sides several times about whether she was merely there to “rubber-stamp” the agreement.

“We’re not asking the court to rubber-stamp anything,” Wise said. 

“Well, it certainly seems that way,” the judge shot back. 

Noreika ultimately decided neither she nor the parties were in a position to move forward, giving the lawyers 30 days to resubmit the deal with clearer language. 

“These agreements are not straightforward, and they contain some atypical provisions,” she noted before telling the attorneys: “I think having you guys talk more makes sense.”

Then, to Hunter: “Without me saying I’ll agree to the plea agreement, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, your honor,” the first son responded.

A few minutes later, Hunter exited the courthouse flanked by Secret Service, got into a black SUV, and took off with a six-car motorcade.


* * *

* * *


by Jessica Barnett

Susan Faludi suggested we show up to the “Barbie” movie in a pink Corvette, but unfortunately, the only car available was a pickup truck. So that was how one of the world’s leading feminists and I showed up to her local mall: in a 2002 black Toyota Tacoma, with tickets to Auditorium 2 for “Barbie.”

I’d asked Ms. Faludi, the Pulitzer-winning journalist and author — whose 1991 book, “Backlash,” became an instant classic — to see this summer’s most joyful and lucrative blockbuster with me because I was hoping she might help me make sense of its morass of hot pink contradictions.

There are few toys quite so confounding as Barbie. Even her origin story: She was based on a sex doll for men, but somehow marketed to mothers for their daughters. Barbie has been a protest slogan (“I am not your Barbie”), a bimbo (remember “Math class is tough” Barbie?), an eating disorder accelerant. In one particularly clever protest against the doll, she had her voice box swapped with G.I. Joe’s, so suddenly she said, “Vengeance is mine!” and he said, “The beach is the place for summer.” But Barbie has also been a lawyer, a pilot, an astronaut and the president. She has never married, lives alone and does not have children.

The movie seemed as full of contradictions as the doll. It was promoted through a marketing campaign that had more licensing deals than Barbie has outfits: There were Barbie clothes and Barbie makeup and ice cream and vacation packages and a takeover of the Google home page, which is currently filling my screen with pink explosions every time I try to fact-check this essay. But it also had a director — Greta Gerwig — with indie street cred, and early reviews focused on the film’s subversiveness. Ms. Gerwig, it seemed, had managed to make Barbie satisfyingly self-aware, likable and mockable; she called out the hypocrisy of the manufacturer — Mattel — while getting its blessing on the project. And then, somehow, she — and the company — marketed it all back to us.

“This sounds like a kick!” Ms. Faludi said, when I first suggested we might watch the movie together. She didn’t want to be a feminist wet blanket on the whole thing, but she was prepared to deliver a sober report, should it be required. We settled into our seats. “You know, asking a feminist to comment on a Barbie movie is like asking the Wicked Witch of the West to critique Oz,” she said with a laugh.

I was interested in Ms. Faludi’s perspective because her interests seemed to track with the complexity at the heart of the “Barbie” movie. Last year, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, she wrote an essay bemoaning how feminists had made a Faustian bargain with popular culture. While we’d been wearing “Smash the patriarchy” T-shirts and leaning in at work while singing “Who run the world? (Girls),” Donald Trump had been packing the Supreme Court and gutting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Feminism had become cool, fun — and in the process had taken its eyes off the ball.

This seemed to make her an ideal viewing companion for a film that seemed the perfect distillation of these tensions: Could a movie currently fueling Barbiecore across America actually be a vehicle for a meaningful political message?

Of course, Ms. Faludi also understands the power of entertainment. In “Backlash,” she traced not only how politics and the media had tried to undermine the gains of feminism but also how film and television did, too, through films like “Fatal Attraction” and “Misery,” which turned women into man-eating she-devils or sad sacks fretting about their biological clocks.

I’ll stop with her bona fides in a minute — but after “Backlash,” she went on to publish “Stiffed,” about the breakdown of traditional masculinity and the crisis of the American male. Two and a half decades later, echoes of that book are everywhere — from Richard Reeves to Andrew Tate — and they show up in Ms. Gerwig’s Ken, who struggles to find an identity apart from Barbie. (As the slogan goes: “She’s Barbie. He’s just Ken.”) Ken turns Barbieland into a sweaty man cave after the real world teaches him about the notion of the patriarchy, a term that was used at least eight times in the movie.

“I mean, you couldn’t write the script without 30 years of women’s studies,” Ms. Faludi said as the lights came up, and we emerged from the theater into a swirl of Barbie pink. She was dressed in all black, though she insisted her velvet top was actually more of a deep purple, selected because of its proximity to pink.

“It seems to me that a big theme underlying the movie is shock and horror over what happened to us — what happened to women — from 2016 on, with the double whammy of Trump and then Dobbs. And in particular, I thought abortion was the subtext to a lot.”

Hold up.

She thought “Barbie” the movie — with a series of choreographed dances, a ballad performed by Ryan Gosling and so much pink that there was a national paint shortage — was actually not just subversive but … about abortion?

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Ms. Faludi explained her position. “I mean, it begins with little girls playing with dolls learning the origin story of Barbie — and the rejection of the idea that women can just be mothers. It ends with her going to the gynecologist.”

Indeed, Barbie begins with a homage to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” with little girls playing with baby dolls — which, as the narrator explains, were the only dolls available to girls back then. So when Barbie — an adult doll — comes along, it’s an epiphany: There’s more to life than motherhood! The girls smash the baby dolls.

It ends with Barbie in the real world, in pink Birkenstocks and a blazer, heading to what appears to be a job interview, except, we learn, it’s actually the gynecologist. (Ostensibly, now that Barbie is a human, she has a vagina instead of her infamous nongenitals.)

Ms. Faludi went on to outline a series of other allusions to our present moment:

In an early montage introducing viewers to Barbieland, lawyer Barbie speaks before the Supreme Court about the idea of personhood — “which immediately made me think of attempts to create the unborn as ‘persons,’” Ms. Faludi said.

Later, the Kens attempt to change the Constitution, amid Barbie lamenting how hard they had worked to create Barbieland, and “You can’t just undo it in a day.” (To which Ken responds, “Literally — and figuratively — watch me.”) Ms. Faludi’s take? “I mean, that’s what happened on Election Day of 2016.”

We see the Kens band together in a kind of hunky beach army, trying to occupy Barbieland (when not performing choreographed ballads), with Ken adopting a mink fur cape that did not not resemble the one worn by the QAnon shaman during the Jan. 6 uprising.

And then there’s Midge, the doll once marketed as Barbie’s best friend, and the one pregnant doll in the Barbie universe, before she was discontinued. (You could remove Midge’s belly and baby intact from her body and then magnetically reattach it. It was weird.) Midge and her bump are in the film, too, repeatedly — a ghost that the fictional Mattel executives, and everyone else, just wish would go away. She’s there for laughs, but squint hard enough, Ms. Faludi suggested, and you could also see her as “the specter of Dobbs.”

We are back at her house now, drinking Aperol and soda — “It’s sort of pink, right?” she said — in honor of “Barbie,” prepared by Ms. Faludi’s husband, who has also cooked us dinner.

“Are you guys going to storyboard this?” he wanted to know.

Ms. Faludi was aware that parsing “Barbie” for answers about the state of feminism is slightly absurd. Or maybe it’s not. At the center of the movie is a story about a daughter and a mother, played by America Ferrera. It is Ms. Ferrera’s long monologue about the endlessly contradictory expectations of being a woman that deprograms the Barbies, who’ve been brainwashed into servitude by the Kens. On the opening day of “Barbie,” the news was filled with the story of another mother and daughter, whose Facebook messages about administering the abortion pill had been seized by the authorities, resulting in a jail sentence for the girl and an upcoming sentencing for the mother.

“Barbie” offered not only some escape from that reality but also genuine catharsis. “Perhaps what’s going on,” Ms. Faludi wrote me in an email a few days after the screening, “is that women are finding a way to explore their anger about recent history without feeling like they have to drown themselves in the bathtub (in real water).”

What is it that they say — disempower the patriarchy by laughing at it?

“Only Barbie could say, ‘By giving voice to the cognitive dissonance required to be a woman under the patriarchy, you robbed it of its power!’ and turn it into a laugh line,” Ms. Faludi emailed.

Of course, she wasn’t about to go out and buy her daughter a Barbie or anything. (She, like Barbie, doesn’t have children.)

“When they come up with Radical Feminist Barbie, let me know. Valerie Solanas Barbie, anyone?”

* * *

* * *


by Ralph Nader

In nature, monocultures are not so resilient to predators or other ravages that exploit their inherent vulnerabilities. Farmers have known this characteristic of monocultures forever. (Agribusiness doesn’t care as much, given its short-term profit outlook.)

Democratic voters are at risk from the increasing political monocultures that are weakening resistance to the GOP and Big Business demands.

There are four such groups that are exhibiting similar monoculture symptoms of deteriorating power.

1. The Democratic Party itself is led by pathetic sinecurists controlling its formal national, state, and local Party structures. At the top is the PAC-greased Democratic National Committee (DNC) whose chief strategists, over decades, have steadily written off half of the nation (the Red States), and abandoned their Parties there down the line. When, for example, the Party gave up on five mountain states in the West that used to send Democrats to Congress, it started out with a deficit of ten in the Senate. It is hard to recover from such an abdication. The Party will spend far more on a Pennsylvania Senate race than on Senate races in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and the Dakotas combined. There are no local Democratic Committees in 30 of 32 counties in Wyoming.

Today, the Party raises record amounts of money and finds ways to set records in blowing it. Senator Chuck Schumer directed the spending of over $200 million in two big-time losing Senate races against Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina). The loser in South Carolina was promoted to head the DNC where he has declared himself to be part of the Democratic Party machine – a mere functionary instead of a galvanizer.

The Democratic Party doesn’t have the energy possessed by the GOP and right-wing groups that fight each other, but have managed to win many national and statewide elections that they should have lost badly. This is due to lassitude and blunders by the Dems in the gerrymandering struggle and indenturing itself to corporate campaign money that has blocked its former New Deal agenda of standing, in all the states, for working families while the GOP banded with Wall Street.

After avoidable election losses, the Dems don’t force the responsible officials out and clean house with more vigorous people. Recall the historic blunder in New York State in 2022 – dominated by the Democratic Party – that gave away four winnable Congressional seats, and failed to defeat the media-exposed charlatan George Santos (R-NY). Despite this dismal performance, the Democratic Party retained its State Chairperson.

A monoculture is resistant to outside criticism and advice, no matter how credible and pragmatic (See: Its officials on Capitol Hill and within the party apparatus rarely return calls if they don’t involve campaign donors. Ruled at the top nationally by half a dozen control freaks, it demands sycophancy from its leading organized allies, thus turning them into monocultures.

2. The AFL-CIO and national labor unions unconditionally endorse Democratic candidates long before election day. They make no action demands, such as card checks, championing a $15 national minimum wage (from the present $7.25 per hour), breaking statutory chains on organizing unions, or getting serious about workplace health, safety and one-sided limitations on contractual workers’ rights.

The main headquarters of the AFL-CIO looks out at the White House, and the AFL-CIO leadership gives Democratic presidents a blank check. A GOP president has little to fear from organized labor that is hamstrung by suffocating labor laws and global corporate extortionists. It has been decades since vigorous and feisty labor leaders were national figures.

3. The trial lawyers – an automatic honeypot for Democrats – who have lost for years in their efforts to preserve the law of wrongful injuries due to “tort law deform” – can’t even muster the will to repeal any of the handcuffs that block injured people from full access to the courts. They give the Dems a blank check and it responds by not even making the insurance industry’s atrocity a major campaign issue. The result is our constitutional right to have our day in court and trial by jury continues to be undermined and obstructed.

The long-time head of the national trial lawyer association works hard not to make news and declines to give visibility to the American Museum of Tort Law (AMTL), which we founded, to educate people about the legitimate use of tort law for the vast majority of wrongfully injured people left by the wayside. ATML’s exhibits help mobilize citizens and educate lawmakers about the importance of tort law, a pillar of our democracy. (See,

4. Then there are some national citizen groups that used to challenge in court sweetheart settlements by plaintiffs’ attorneys, used to take Democratic politicians to task publicly, and used to expose some labor union corruption, which resulted in reforms. No more. Many national groups are willing to accommodate the corporate-infested Democratic Party and few are willing to challenge the smug, scapegoating of progressive Third Parties that historically were first to champion fundamental reforms in our country.

The Democratic Party should be landsliding the most corrupt, vicious, bigoted, chronically lying, voter suppressing, anti-labor, anti-consumer and anti-environment GOP since its creation in 1854. The GOP’s off-the-wall positions against children’s well-being, women’s rights, and the willful aiding of massive tax evasions by the corporate super-rich and by starving the IRS’s enforcement budget should make it easy for the Dems to defeat the out-of-touch Republicans. But not when the Party is dialing for the same corporate campaign cash as the GOP.

Unfortunately, mutually reinforcing monocultures produce an inability to expand serious action agendas to wage peace over military Empire, to support communities over avaricious corporations, and climate protection over Chevron, ExxonMobil, et al. Further, the Democratic Party stubbornly refuses to look itself in the mirror to renew and reinvent itself in the light of the visible onrushing omnicides confronting the nation and the world.

Instead, in 2022, it celebrated its big losses to the mad dog Republicans because those losses were less than some polls predicted.

It is not enough that the Democratic Party tells its duopoly-encircled critics to shut up and get in line saying, “Don’t you realize how terrible the Republicans are?” Now Democratic Party leaders want no primary debates by Democratic presidential candidates. They want to leave the stage in the exclusive possession of President Joe Biden. The contentious GOP must be laughing about the ways the Dems suppress their own vote by spearheading a dull, scripted coronation.

Loyal critics of your immolating Democratic Party, emerge from your lairs and speak up. You have nothing to lose but more election defeats on the horizon in 2024.

* * *

* * *


Sinéad O’Connor, an Irish singer-songwriter who sold millions of records in the 1990s with her ethereal ballads and rebellious anthems, all while defying expectations of how a female pop star should behave — shaving her head, speaking out about her mental health struggles, protesting the Catholic Church during a performance on live television — has died at 56. 

Her family announced the death in a statement Wednesday, released to Irish media and viewed by The Washington Post. Additional details were not immediately available. 

Declaring that she was “proud to be a troublemaker,” Ms. O’Connor made music that channeled and reflected her tumultuous personal life, with lyrics about sexism, religion, child abuse, famine and police brutality set against reggae beats, traditional Irish melodies and throbbing pop hooks. Beaten by her mother as a young girl, she was later diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, and acknowledged having suicidal thoughts in recent years. 

When her teenage son Shane died by suicide in January 2022, she publicly threatened to take her life and was hospitalized. Earlier this month, Ms. O’Connor tweeted that Shane “was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul,” adding that she was “lost… without him.” 

* * *


Ukraine has committed more forces to its counteroffensive in the southeast after nearly two months of slow progress, according to two US officials — a sign that they have identified potential weaknesses in Russian defensive lines. 

President Joe Biden is allowing the US to cooperate with the International Criminal Court's investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, two US officials and a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The US and its allies are working with Kyiv on alternative land routes to deliver critical grain to the world after Russia pulled out of the grain deal, the White House said Wednesday. 

The Ukrainian Air Force said it intercepted 40 Russian missiles that were fired toward targets in the west of the country.

* * *

* * *


The Political Economy of Extinction — Versus a New Enlightenment

by Umair Haque

Call it boiling point. The hottest days in over 100,000 years. Scientists increasingly concerned we’re hitting tipping points. Vast swathes of the globe on fire, overheating, burning. So why is the planet boiling?

Have you heard Beethoven’s Fifth? Da da da DUMMM. You know the one. Think of that theme for a moment. It’s a lesson in…how simplicity…is the most complex thing of all. It’s just two notes — da, and dum. They’re right next to each other on the scale, no less. It’s just four strikes. And yet, it’s immortal. What does Beethoven do next, after the historic two-note four-strike opening? He develops the theme — but again, just barely altering it. Da da da dumm da da da dumm da da dummm. Da da da dumm da da da dumm da da da dumm. The whole symphony is just the — what we call the musical motif — repeated, more or less, in different ways. Think of how astonishing that is.

From simplicity comes complexity.

I raise that example because answering this question — why is the planet boiling — is the same kind of thing. Simple. Two notes, four strikes. Four words. Carbon emissions aren’t falling. But within that hides a deceptive level of complexity.

By now, even a child should be able to understand the four word, Beethoven’s Fifth opening level answer to why is the planet boiling — and indeed, many do, better than adults, which we’ll return to. Carbon emissions aren’t falling.

But that only raises the question: why not? And the answer to that leads us into a jungle, my friends, of conflict, power, folly, greed. It paints a portrait of how civilizations collapse.

Why aren’t carbon emissions falling? The answer to that question goes like this: as a civilization we have made no serious attempt, economically, socially, or politically, to make them fall. And so they go right on rising. Let me explain what I mean, and I don’t mean to disparage at all the hard work that many brave people have put in trying to make it happen. I’m just observing, like an economist, what is happening in the real world: emissions aren’t falling.

They are going right on rising. Only now? The stakes couldn’t be higher. We appear to have suddenly crossed a threshold, into a new phase of warming. Tipping points appear to be hit, or destabilizing effects appear to be shattering models and predictions and forecasts, which is why scientists are ripping their hair out, trying to get anyone to listen.

So. Let me tell you what the economist in me sees. What would be the simplest way to begin limiting emissions? A carbon tax. We barely have a single country on earth that has a carbon tax — and we’re at the threshold of catastrophic levels of warming, LOL. The UK announced one, and it backed out. America, LOL, has never gotten close. The EU has perhaps the closest thing to one, in a rich country — a “cap and trade scheme,” which means that carbon permits can be bought and sold, but that’s not really the same thing as a hard tax, because of course there are many ways to game that system, like buying carbon credits in poor countries, by planting trees, for example, which never really get planted, or nobody monitors it, and so forth.

When I say carbon tax, it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean on people, consumers. It means things like windfall taxes on fossil fuel producers and industries that emit large amounts of carbon. It means taxes, too, on extreme amounts of wealth — you’re not taking a private jet anywhere. Designing such a tax isn’t the point — just understanding it is.

The EU’s just decided, finally, to put in place a carbon border tax, and that’s a little closer — that means it’ll tax imports according to how much carbon’s been emitted by producing them. Good idea? Great idea, and more to the point, a necessary idea.

And yet, to give you some example of how backwards we are as a civilization, this is the upper limit of where we are in terms of progress, and it’s not even in place yet. There’s barely a single example of a nation with a functioning carbon tax — just Canada, really, and a smattering of poorer countries, whose aspirations are in the right place, but let’s face it, won’t have the resources or power to really monitor institutions as vast and rich as multinational corporations, fossil fuel producers, banks, and hedge funds.

(A smattering of countries have “carbon taxes,” but…LOL…most of them cover less than half of what those countries actually emit. In some cases, that number’s as low single digits — Spain’s carbon tax covers just 2% of its emissions. Hence me saying “we don’t really tax carbon,” at least not in a serious way yet, and certainly not at civilizational scale.)

So that’s fact one, and I really want you to reflect on it for a moment. We don’t have anything close to a civilizational level carbon tax. We barely have carbon taxes at the national level. And yet think about, again, the, LOL, planet boiling. Pretty easy to see why, now, isn’t it?

Let’s discuss “cap and trade schemes” again for a moment. There’s fatal problem with them, and it’s easily visible in the world today. Not my opinion, just a fact. They don’t really work. They get us a step closer, sure, and they might begin to make it harder to emit carbon — but they don’t really stop carbon emissions.

Let’s take Europe as an example — it’s the only region of the world so far which has managed to reduce emissions. But is that due to its cap-and-trade scheme? Sure it is. And yet at a civilizational level, emissions don’t fall — and it’s easy to see why. Rich Europeans buy clothes and household goods and electronics made in Asia and Africa, which still emit vast amounts of carbon to make them. Cap-and-trade schemes are local solutions to a global problem — they just shift emissions elsewhere, really, and maybe reduce their growth a bit, but in that sense, don’t put a hard stop on them, the way we might have once imagined.

As a civilization, why aren’t we able to limit fossil fuel emissions by putting in place even the most elementary forms of guardrails against them, like taxes?

Before I answer that, I want you to understand the scale of the problem much, much better. Think of how many other things are taxed. Want to buy cigarettes? Alcohol? Junk food? Want to just…own a property? LOL — all of it’s taxed, right down to food and clothing. But emitting carbon is still mostly free. Taxes are the most basic thing we can do to reduce a harmful activity — since the beginning of civilization really, and yet here we are, facing seemingly perhaps the end of it, and we’re not taxing the agent that’s boiling the planet alive.

But it’s even worse than that. I know, I know, maybe you wonder, baffled, how could it be? The truth isn’t just that we don’t tax carbon — it’s that we subsidize it. Last year, carbon subsidies skyrocketed. LOL. Think about that for a second — here we are, needing to cut emissions, now, hard, fast — and instead, for some reason, we’re subsidizing them. It’s a truism in economics that you get more of what you subsidize, so of course, carbon emissions are hardly likely to fall when we’re not taxing carbon, we’re still subsidizing it.

So why did carbon subsidies jump off the charts last year? There was a cost-of-living crisis — inflation skyrocketed, and that itself was half greedflation, half climate change making inputs actually more expensive. How did politicians try to solve all that? They began to subsidize energy. Take Biden — and I’m not anti-Biden, again, I’m just observing, which is the job of any decent social scientist or commentator. The Democrats created the illusion that inflation “fell.” In fact, inflation for food and housing and things like clothing is still super high. But the average rate fell — why? Because Biden released reserves from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and voila, the price of gas fell. Smart thing to do politically, but in real terms? A carbon subsidy. That was repeated across the rich world, more or less, and so carbon subsidies exploded.

So now think of the big picture again. Da da da DUMMM. Why is the planet boiling? Because emissions aren’t falling. Why aren’t emissions falling? Why would they be? We haven’t put in place carbon taxes anywhere, almost, certainly not a civilizational scale, to reduce demand, and meanwhile, carbon subsidies are higher than ever. Put all that together, and you begin to see the complexity in the simplicity, maybe — or just the answer to the question.

Let’s go a level deeper now. If we were serious about limiting emissions, what would be doing? Not just carbon taxes, on the one hand, and limiting, ending, subsidies, on the other — much more than that: we’d have a plan to phase out fossil fuels. We need one desperately. And that brings me back to what I said earlier: as a civilization, we aren’t doing anything remotely serious, at an economic, judicial, or political level to really stop carbon emissions, translation, using fossil fuels. At least not nearly fast enough or hard enough.

We should be taking the money raised by a carbon tax and using it to fund this plan to phase out fossil fuels — investing in what we need, which is everything, all the basics, food, water, air, clothing, energy. That’s not complicated — even a child can understand the principle. But as a world, as a civilization, we’re nowhere close to doing it — and yet the planet’s at boiling point.

Now. Let me explain that at this deeper level by way of an objection. The first thing that a certain kind of person will say — shout, really, and it’s often an American man of a certain kind, goes like this: you want people to suffer?! You want to impose some kind of New World Order form of austerity on the planet? Freedom!!! LOL. Calm down, Ron. That’s not what I’m saying at all.

Let’s consider this problem realistically, but first, let’s deal with the objection. People like this suddenly worry that along will come “government agents,” in cyber-helmets, and make them…turn off their air-conditioning. Nobody’s saying that, or at least certainly I’m not.

But people who lodge this objection — you want the world to suffer? Because that’s what’ll happen if we use less fossil fuel!! Are you a maniac? — aren’t to be taken seriously. They don’t care about the world. The American libertarian shouting at me is hardly, LOL, concerned with the fate of poor people, in say, Pakistan. That nation was left almost half underwater by a mega-monsoon, and it’s still recovering, and will be for a decade or so. Millions of people lost their homes. Just like that. That was caused by climate change. So what’s bigger suffering? Events like that? And is the American libertarian really concerned that these people — to whom he’ll never support a politics that gives a penny, resources, power, equality, personhood — prosper? LOL, don’t kid yourself — this objection carries with it the sweet stench of foul hypocrisy.

Now. It’s true that if we were to impose some kind of hard authoritarianism, and send in cyber-troops to make you turn off your AC, people’s living standards would fall. LOL, again, nobody’s saying that. A plan to…phase out…fossil fuels…means just that. Phase out. That phrase, to us economists, has a meaning. It means: substitutes arrive, and they mean people’s standards of living don’t fall. That means things like in the IPCC paragraph I often quote, a nice summary of technologies we’ll need for the future:

There are feasible adaptation options that support infrastructure resilience, reliable power systems and efficient water use for existing and new energy generation systems (very high confidence). Energy generation diversification (e.g., via wind, solar, small scale hydropower) and demand side management (e.g., storage and energy efficiency improvements) can increase energy reliability and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change (high confidence). Climate responsive energy markets, updated design standards on energy assets according to current and projected climate change, smart-grid technologies, robust transmission systems and improved capacity to respond to supply deficits have high feasibility in the medium- to long-term, with mitigation co-benefits (very high confidence).

Quite obviously, if we don’t do any of that, living standards are going to fall precipitously, hard, and inevitably. If you think you can just survive…wet bulb temperatures…by turning on your AC…LOL…you’re sadly mistaken. At that point, if the power grid fails, which chances are it will, at least now and then — you? You die. That’s umm, the ultimate fall in a standard of living, as in, you don’t have one anymore.

An extreme example — but here are many more mundane ones. Crops fail, rivers run dry, water systems don’t work, megafires make air unbreathable, pandemics continue every half decade or so, and all that alone means the basics of life — water, air, food, clothing — become more unattainable, bit but bit, pricier. See how inflation’s wrecked your wallet over the last few years? That’s a falling standard of living. It’s driven by climate change — food getting more expensive, duh, on a dying planet. If that continues, of course living standards plummet, harder, ever faster, and we don’t want to find out where that road ends.

So. If we were serious, we’d have a plan to phase out fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean: a plan to send in agents to cart you off to jail for having an air conditioner, please, the paranoid Rand Paul fantasies of weak minds are tedious at this point. It just means what it says. As a civilization, we’d say something like: by 2040, we agree that renewables are our main source of electricity. By 2045, we’ll have invented bioplastics at scale, at they’ll have replaced fossil plastics. By 2037, we’ll have made green steel the main form of it. By 2045, green cement and glass will be the primary building materials we use. And by 2040, we will only employ closed loop manufacturing — we agree that linear forms, use it, dump it, deplete it, pollute it, are over with. We agree to phase all the old stuff out, and phase the new stuff in.

Such a plan exists precisely so that living standards don’t plummet. It is not the cause of living standards plummeting. So they don’t plummet as a result of everything from wet-bulb events to heat domes to dried up water systems to megafires sending giant plumes of smoke from Chicago to Palermo. Phasing out fossil fuels is how we stop living standards falling further.

How do I know that? How can anyone prove it with a second’s thought? Right now? They’ve flatland, gone into regress — after centuries of progress, an empirical fact. Yet that’s not because, LOL, we’re using less fossil fuels — we’re using more than ever. So using more fossil fuels can’t be the answer to perpetually rising living standards, either. See the simple logic at work there?

Now. Living standards are falling in ways you’ve experienced. Your real income is smaller — much smaller — than it was five years, ago, thanks to inflation, which we’ve discussed is half greedflation, and half climate change. Your health and longevity have fallen thanks to a pandemic, and what happens as habitable zones shrink? That’s right, more of those. Catastrophes and cataclysms are hardly, LOL good for living standards — and what about when insurers won’t sign a contract to cover your home? Doctors won’t live in your town? When it's just incinerated wreckage, or flooded ruins?

Phasing out fossil fuels is how we stop living standards falling further, and they’ve already begun to fall, which is the end of an era — fossil driven progress and growth. That age is now over, whether we like it or not, because the costs have begun to outweigh the benefits, and they will never balance to make fossil driven growth actually lift living standards again. Ever. To understand that, you only need to think about what kind of “living standards” there are on a boiled planet.

It’s important everyone understands this distinction, because, well…the hard right is putting out propaganda, fiercely, right about now, to disseminate the opposite message: phasing out fossil fuels will cause too much suffering! LOL — seriously? These guys, like I said, could care less about poor villagers in some forlorn nation losing everything because of a megafire, flood, monsoon, if they did, you know what, they’d be on the ground helping those poor souls, or at least sending some resources or pennies their way, but that never happens — so they say for political reasons, to stop fossil fuels being phased out.

I talked a lot about that, so that people understand it. Da da da DUMMM. The dum? In our case? Either it’s Extinction on a boiling planet, and our living standards crater, in ways we’ve never really seen, in all 300,000 years since humankind stepped out of a rift in a valley. Turn on the tap, no more water. Go outside, can’t breathe air. AC goes out, sorry, you’re dead. That region, city, state? It’s gone, a Fire Belt, Flood Belt, The Drowned, now — and it’s taken a huge chunk of what used to be “an economy” with it, and now those poor desperate people have no place to live, and they’re straining the rest of what little public services or social contract is left, and rage and fear and hatred are…boiling over.

Boiling point.

Or the dummm in our case is the other vision. What happens at the end of a plan to phase out fossil fuels. We’ve maintained our living standards, by and large, though there’ve been bumps here and there, and they shrank at the margins. But we still have the basics, and now we have them for a millennium, and more, and bonus, now they’re ultra cheap, too because we know how to make all that stuff in a clean, pure, renewable way. Now we have clean electricity — and it’s practically free. Now we can build stuff to last a thousand years — and over that timespan, again, it’s practically free. Now we have clothes, medicine, plastics, all the basic material components of modern life, and because they’re not costly, they’re not expensive, either.

This is why the forces of fossil growth are against the New Enlightenment. Because if we do all that? Their profits cease to exist. The fossil fuel producers spreading propaganda today aren’t just doing it for no reason — it’s because in a renewable future, sure, they might even exist, if they’re smart, but their profits have been obliterated. All of those gains have become “consumer surplus,” an economist would say, or in plain English, if we get all that right, the average person gets free electricity, more or less, forever.

And capitalism? Nothing’s more dangerous to it than that. A world of abundance. Because that’s also a world of vanished profits — and vastly diminished power.

That’s what they’re really afraid of. Maybe that should tell you something. Da da da dummmm. The future’s up to us, my friends. But right now? We have to begin understanding the stakes, the realities of power, and the economics of scarcity and abundance, much much better, to make the wise, necessary, brave, and noble choice — not the hateful, stupid, violent, and ignorant one, which is still sweeping the world, harder every day.


* * *

Rewilding (2021) by Victor Solís


  1. Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

    RE: Wastewater treatment

    Great news, and a big congrats to Anderson Valley for making the steps to move in the right direction! Having experience as a wastewater treatment plant operator in Santa Cruz county, I am excited to see this state of the art facility up and running someday in the near future. Bravo! Thanks to all that are doing the right thing.

    “The State will accept the technical results from the hydrologist, Steve Klick. We already had two Notice of Preparation meetings for Wastewater (Oct 12, 2017 and Nov 1, 2018) for the CEQA process”

  2. Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

    RE: Another good reason for Universal Healthcare

    “Spending our road and education funds on addiction.” I think they meant spending our tax dollars bailing out Banksters and sending it to Israel, so their citizens can have universal healthcare, because I don’t see much of our Taxes going to pay for roads or Teachers…

    When are we going to stop treating drug addiction as a criminal problem and finally see it as a health issue? Mental health to be specific.

    Drugs won the war on drugs, if no one noticed. Let’s stop pretending that everyone can just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, as opioids created by Wealthy Pharmaceutical are an extremely addictive and dangerous drug, that created this epidemic. Why are they off the hook? Why aren’t their excessive profits taxed to pay to clean up their problem?

    Too busy blaming the victims of this ongoing tragedy.

    • peter boudoures July 27, 2023

      Bills such at H.R.5546 protect these companies from being sued. Most people experience their first opioids prescribed by their personal doctor. It’s a nasty cycle which doesn’t get fixed by throwing money its way or San Francisco would have this problem solved.
      The county could spend their health budget on low income housing to get these people off the street as a start to recovery. 30 million spent annually by Mendo county.
      Take 25 million for two years and build low income housing at $150 per square foot.
      500 units at 700 square foot each
      We will need a 20 acre site with utilities near by to lower building costs.
      Each unit will have a parking spot single level. Retired police officer at the gate entrance at a cost of 75k per year times 3 shifts.
      $ 750 per month which county employees will help cover with section 8 enrollment help.

      375,000×12= 4.5million

      This will help cover costs to maintain the building while still giving the county 2 million profit per year. After two years the budget will be back to normal and able
      To mismanage the 25 million that was gone for the two years.

      This would be phase one. Phase 2 will be housing for county employees

      • Lazarus July 27, 2023

        A buck and a half per food for any housing in California or elsewhere is folly.
        Tract homes are 250 to 300. 500 and up is realistic for many builders like I was…
        Be well,

        • peter boudoures July 27, 2023

          There are ways to cut costs. On-site laundry, tiny homes, prefab homes but bottom line is you can get a large outfit to build for a reasonable price.

          • Lazarus July 27, 2023

            I repeat, not for $150.00 per foot. I was in that business for 55 years…And with government types involved, the “Suits” will double the cost or more, just because they can…
            Be well,

      • Karen O July 27, 2023

        $150 per square foot???
        I’d accept a bid right now for that price to building affordable senior housing in Boonville. We’ve got the land & the $, let’s go !

        • peter boudoures July 27, 2023

          Large projects cost less.

          • Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

            What was the cost on the new apartments on Brush street? I really wish Caltrans had built an offramp there instead of a Texas border fence for the homeless.

  3. Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

    What’s up with all the heat?

    I found a really good video that explains climate change, and why rapid climate change is bad. It apparently caused the demise of my Neanderthal ancestors. I also found this video fascinating because it shows (on multiple occasions) how soil science is directly linked to Climate observations over time. The key part of this video, and why it relates to what is happening now, has to do with the Gulf Stream, and the heat pump cooling system of the planet also known as ThermoHaline circulation. So cool! I mean Hot…

  4. Rye N Flint July 27, 2023


    “In nature, monocultures are not so resilient to predators or other ravages that exploit their inherent vulnerabilities. Farmers have known this characteristic of monocultures forever. (Agribusiness doesn’t care as much, given its short-term profit outlook.)”

    And Ralph Nader continues to be one of my favorite outspoken Heroes! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to vote for him so many times.

  5. Jennifer Smallwood July 27, 2023

    Re: Where’s the conservation ethic? Letter to the editor – I looked on the NOAA website and couldn’t find the information on the grant the author referenced. Would you please post the information that will connect us to that grant opportunity? Thank you.

  6. Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

    RE: Hit the nail right on the head with this one.

    Think about why PG&Evil is having us pay for their mistakes, and why the US invades other countries shortly after they Nationalize their Energy production infrastructure, as you read this statement below.

    “This is why the forces of fossil growth are against the New Enlightenment. Because if we do all that? Their profits cease to exist. The fossil fuel producers spreading propaganda today aren’t just doing it for no reason — it’s because in a renewable future, sure, they might even exist, if they’re smart, but their profits have been obliterated. All of those gains have become “consumer surplus,” an economist would say, or in plain English, if we get all that right, the average person gets free electricity, more or less, forever.

    And capitalism? Nothing’s more dangerous to it than that. A world of abundance. Because that’s also a world of vanished profits — and vastly diminished power.”

  7. Harvey Reading July 27, 2023


    The “black flag of lies”. My anger rises every time I see that damned rag. Conservatives are even bigger liars than neolibs.

    • Harvey Reading July 27, 2023

      You do surely take the cake for spouting utter nonsense. Where’s your answer to my question of why SETI is silent?

    • Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

      The aliens are going to be really confused when all the people agree that our leaders need to be overthrown and we want to help. ;)

      • Mike J July 27, 2023

        One consistent messaging by a variety of reported entity types concerns environmental and biodiversity degradation due to our misuse of technology.

        There is good info re who is here, and their activities, from vetted cases of close encounters of the third and fourth kind.

        Yesterday Bruce reminded me of the Anderson Valley group presentation on ET years ago. I remember him writing on that. If I remember correctly, it was a group associated with an UK man named Benjamin Creme who promoted some guy as a Messiah??
        As Obama noted a few years back, some people will create new religions out of this exposed reality, others will demand increased defense spending.
        The beings who are here seem to have creative projects related to our biological resources. That sort of thing seems very evident in encounter cases.

      • Harvey Reading July 27, 2023

        Best way to avoid disinformation and tall tales is to not read your posts. Once again, where’s your answer to my SETI question?

        • John Shultz July 27, 2023

          Apparently when it comes to tough,direct questions, the alien believer fanatics are short on honest answers,this is a defense ploy to avoid looking bereft of real scientifically peer reviewed proof ,all these alien persuader types have are claims, anecdotes and conspiracy theories,not a speck of real empirical evidence yet,but Still they go on pontificating pointlessly…

  8. Ted Williams July 27, 2023

    “Now they’re reduced to begging the already-paid software vendor to do even their most basic reports.”

    I’m unconvinced it’s a problem with the software. It looks like elected department data migration and training. Other counties are using the exact same software. If I’m wrong, someone with knowledge of software failure should screen capture the specific failures.

  9. Ted Williams July 27, 2023

    “As usual, the Board complains about not having enough financial information, but they make no effort to get it. They even rudely cut off the person who was trying to give them a report.

    Will next month be any better?”

    It’ll be an iterative process. My goal in advocating for this direction was to build visibility. If we’re assessing at 1/3 the necessary pace, what is throttling the effort and what additional resources are necessary? It’s not about shaming the Assessor’s office, but rather, identifying resource needs.

    June 20, 2023
    Board Directive: GENERAL CONSENSUS OF THE BOARD to direct staff to publish a progress indicator on how many parcels have been assessed, total dollar amount assessed, and staffing levels of appraisers in each Edition of the CEO Report, with a goal of closing the gap and reaching 85 percent (currently at or around 70 percent) over the next 24 months.

  10. Norm Thurston July 27, 2023

    Regarding the BOS: Reports and updates from department heads and other departmental personnel should be placed on the meeting agenda, rather than presented as “public expression”. To require these people to relay their information to the Board and the public in 3 minutes or less seems dysfunctional.

    • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

      Direction was for the reports to be published as part of the CEO report. Information was requested (including by me), but was not available until the day of the meeting. Hopefully submission is in time for publication next round. It was a start.

      • Norm Thurston July 27, 2023

        Thanks for the clarification. Was this part of the discussion during agenda item 4(f)? If so, why was the Assessor cut-off after 3 minutes?

        • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

          Assessor spoke during public expression, because she wasn’t able to supply the data in time for publication in the CEO report. She’ll try to supply it sooner for next round. I’d say the board has a good working relationship with Katrina. I appreciate her coming through with an initial report. The goal is to track progress so we can adjust resources as necessary and a start, even a rough start, is progress.

          Why was she cut off? Chair has discretion and Mulheren didn’t violate any policies by enforcing a hard three minutes per speaker. Not a swipe, as chair I never cut off any elected official nor would I. We all have our styles. For me, the goal wasn’t to get through the meeting as fast as possible, but rather, ensure necessary information was on the table to make informed decisions. Meet more often if that’s what it takes …

  11. Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

    I watched the first portion of Tuesday’s BOS meeting and was astounded at the contempt shown to employees, elected and appointed county officials, the public, the voters and the spirit of the Brown Act. All blamed on the very long agenda.

    If the BOS met four times a month, as it traditionally did, such long agendas would not be necessary.

    The stated purpose of the Brown Act is to enable the public to see and hear its officials conduct public business.

    Gov. Sec. 54950. In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
    The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

    N.B. “Deliberations* Cutting off officials, including a Supervisor, from participating in a policy discussion and then assigning to ad hoc committees, which aren’t open to the public, is a blatant violation of that purpose. Emailing the BOS the remainder of their comments is not an adequate substitution, particularly, as Ted Williams admits, the contents will not be available to the public for a month.

    What happened to the practice of having staff, even if they are elected, sit at the table when BOS actions affecting their department are on the agenda?

    Clearly, the goal of some supervisors is control. They don’t trust the voters to choose department heads. Have they forgotten they are elected by those voters. The BOS past performance does not inspire my confidence that this would result in improved service to the public.

    I repeat my request that items on the Consent Calendar be written in plain and simple English, thereby enabling the public to easily determine if the issue is one they would like to discuss with their elected officials.

    • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

      “They don’t trust the voters to choose department heads.”

      My issue is the lack of competent financial record keeping. If money were missing, the records are in such poor shape that nobody would be able to identify it. Insufficient staffing, new software, none of that excuses it in the long term. My advice would be to say, “hey, I took this job, the place is a mess, I plan to clean it up and here’s what I need…” but instead I hear justification for maintaining status quo.

      • Rye N Flint July 27, 2023

        You have been asked to provide more transparency about the budget for years now. The excuse is always, the CEO won’t cooperate and it’s her fault. Well I think the point has already been made many times, that the selected official CEO is under the conrol of the BOS and can be replaced with someone who is competent enough to provide that information. But… that hasn’t happened has it? We want transparency too, and have been demanding it for some time now. When is the BOS going to do it’s appointed duty and get the requested budget transparency being asked for?

        We already know about the wasted millions of dollars on the genius idea of having a separate cannabis track and trace system shoved down by you know who.
        I think that everyone is most curious about the general fund wrangling and mishandling that occurred under the authority of Carmel Angelo, because it’s still a huge black hole of mistrust lingering in time-space.

        • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

          “ The excuse is always, the CEO won’t cooperate and it’s her fault. ”

          On what date has that been the excuse? I’ve never witnessed it.

          Financial records are under the elected Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax-Collector.

      • Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

        What is the role of the CEO in providing budgetary information? How many fiscal analysts does she have on staff? What is the role of department heads providing budgetary information? It seems to me we need a collaborative, not combative, approach?

        • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

          The budget is a plan for the year ahead, approved by the board. That’s not at issue. What is at issue is the report on what actually happened.

          The CEO and her team cannot issue payments. Only the elected Auditor-Controller is able to issue payments. The CEO does not have access to the historic transaction log (who, how much, when, category). The CEO can ask for reports just as I have, but cannot produce directly because she does not have access to the data. You could replace the CEO and it would be the same answer. It’s not the CEO, her performance or willingness, it’s structural.

          The Auditor-Controller might tell you that the current financial model does not allow for report generation. That’s weird, nobody ever envisioned needing to produce a profit and loss or balance sheet?

          Nobody will show me the process, flow, formulas, files, etcetera, but from what I’ve been able to ascertain, it’s a rather manual process.

          How much money does the county have today or any date in prior 365 days?

          How would you reconcile our reports to accounts?

          Why can’t an automated report be produced? What manual steps must be performed? Are these written down or only in someone’s head? If written down, what is the document titled and where is it?

    • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

      “I repeat my request that items on the Consent Calendar be written in plain and simple English”

      I don’t necessarily disagree, but would you provide an example? Which from July 25, 2023 could you not parse?

      • Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

        I could “parse” them all, but, for example, 3u did not indicate to me that the item related to county assuming oversight of mental health programs. Had it done so, I could have used the information in the proposed motion, agenda attachments and county archives to better understand the issues and then determine whether I wished to take further action, e.g., asking my District Supervisor to pull the item from consent calendar for full board consideration.

        By the by, you might want to alert Mo that the “back and forth” she told Haschak she “didn’t want to get involved in” is, in fact, deliberation that the public is entitled to hear.

        • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

          Linda, would you be willing to modify the 3u text below to create an example of what should be conveyed? (I’m supportive and the example of expectations could help.)

          Approval of Second Amendment to BOS Agreement No. 22-063 with Redwood Community Services, Inc., in the Amount of $142,410, for a New Total of $2,116,068, to Provide Residential Treatment Facility Operations and Crisis Residential Services on a Transitional Basis to Mendocino County Adults, Ages 18 or Older, Who Are Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis, Effective March 16, 2022 through June 30, 2024

          • Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

            That would require research noted above. what modification would you suggest?

              • Marmon July 27, 2023

                Nice gaslighting Ted. I’m becoming a big Ted fan. The dude is good, might make it all the way to Washington.


                • Stephen Rosenthal July 27, 2023

                  “I’m becoming a big Ted fan.”

                  All the more reason not to trust him.

              • Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

                It’s not further detail–just explanation (no superfluous capitalization) that a member of the general public could understand the basic issue, without delving into contractual language. What was original contract for, how does amendment change it and why?

        • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

          Deliberations can be contentious, but I can think of plenty of instances where the group discussion has steered my vote.

          • Linda Bailey July 27, 2023

            collaboration not competition was intended to apply to all bodies involved in financial matters, not the BOS. Extend the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the other counties were not trying to merge an antiquated system. Can’t IT help?

            • Ted Williams July 27, 2023

              software strikes me as red herring.

    • chuck dunbar July 27, 2023

      Excellent post and thoughts by Linda Bailey on these important issues. Thank you.

  12. Craig Stehr July 27, 2023

    Awoke at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in sunny Ukiah, California to partake in “deep cleaning day”, today being the last Thursday of the month. Walked south on State Street, arriving in time for the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center free public meal, and afterwards boarded an air conditioned MTA bus, deboarding at the Ukiah Public Library. Presently seated in front of computer #5 tap, tap tapping away. I am available on the planet earth for radical environmental direct action, general peace and justice activism, and anything else which is reflective of the enlightened spiritual condition. Please assist me in moving on from the homeless shelter to perform my next highest good, and at the appropriate time, let us all go back to Godhead. Thank you very much. OM OM OM OM OM
    Craig Louis Stehr
    1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
    Telephone Messages (707) 234-3270
    Send Money Here:
    July 27th @ 1:22PM Pacific Time

    • Harvey Reading July 27, 2023

      LOL. What about SETI, Mr. Con Artist, in my opinion a more accurate moniker? You remind of a snake writhing and wiggling…except that I expect snakes have a better grasp of the reality surrounding them, since their lives depend on such knowledge.

      • Harvey Reading July 27, 2023

        Screw your lying pols and answer my SETI question! Or is that above your level of competence?

  13. Russell Jewett July 28, 2023

    Recent finding FYI

    From: philip zwerling
    To:Philip Zwerling
    Wed, Jul 19 at 7:44 PM

    Please join us as Change Our Name Fort Bragg presents the first in a planned series of Teach-ins on Sunday, July 30 at 3 p.m. in the Community Room of the Fort Bragg Library on at 499 East Laurel Street.
    A local grass roots non-profit, Change Our Name Fort Bragg is dedicated to an educational process that leads to changing the name of Fort Bragg so that it no longer honors a military Fort that dispossessed Indigenous people or Braxton Bragg, a Confederate General who waged war against our country.
    Envisioned as a program to educate attendees about the issues involved in the name change and to hear neighbors’ ideas, the teach-in will last about one hour and will feature three speakers and a question and answer/discussion period.
    Speakers will be:
    Mikael Blaisdell, a Fort Bragg resident who is a consultant and the executive director of a professional association. He is also the administrator of the Change Our Name Facebook discussion group.
    Raven Deerwater, a resident on the Mendocino Coast since 1995. He holds a PhD in Education from the University of Chicago, and he has lived in the Fort Bragg Unified School District for the last 18 years.
    LimaSierra Wooten, an artist & activist from the southern state of Florida relocated to Fort Bragg in 2016, contributing to representing less than 1 percent of individuals identifying as Black or African Americans living on the Mendocino Coast.
    Discussing a controversial topic requires civility and respect for the opinions of others. This program is free and open to all.
    Philip Zwerling, Ph.D.
    Change Our Name Fort Bragg

  14. Betsy Cawn July 28, 2023

    Among the 57 governance policies established by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors are several pertinent to the issues raised in recent exchanges found in the online edition (content and comments), including — as one example — No. 48, Debt Management. Overseen by a multi-disciplinary team, with the auditor-controller and treasurer-tax collector as members, financing of necessary public health and safety systems is a key component of the overall fiscal operation in which every related part must function properly in order to prevent the kind of bewilderment that seems to overwhelm the Board of Supervisors. []

    The apparent fragility of Mendocino County’s fiscal operations and fractious interactions between the Board, department staff, employees, and citizens might be improved by using the services of organizational capacity building (available from Cal State Sacramento and others). It seems obvious that the decision to combine the functions of the auditor-controller and the tax collector/treasurer have not produced the imagined benefits that motivated that decision. Previous incumbents of both offices and senior staff (those remaining and those who left their positions) might be able to pull together a dispassionate explanation of processes that are fundamental to the health of the institution — based on primary state statutory requirements.

    Recognizing that the situation is crisis driven, and emotions color every interaction regarding this difficulty, is the first step to breaking away from the status quo to make use of proven best practices for governance. One lone Supervisor or another attempting to fortify this Rube Goldberg machine with baling wire and chewing gum will not accomplish the necessary reintegration of the component functions. Maybe the officials should consider the “mental health” practices currently in favor for treating the “whole person” with “wrap-around” assistance, and step back from the bickering battlefield to work together and include those responsible for making that contraption lurch along.

    You might also take a page from the disaster recovery mavens and write this off as a consequence of the COVID pandemic’s cabin fever. At this point, some of the symptoms of managerial madness more closely echo the storied hysteria believed to have culminated in cannibalism on Donner Pass.

    [I must add that as infuriating as some of Lake County’s officials can be, and as objectionable as some of their choices are, we seem to have a functioning departmental system and credible administration on this side of the Cow. That didn’t happen over night, but in response to the Valley Fire and locally-driven willful ignorance (of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, predominantly) the Supervisors and operational managers at least appear to be working together to keep the lights on. Neither of our counties has abandoned the wishful thinking that blinded the entire country before the “crashes” and catastrophes disrupted our lives so profoundly — my guys and gals are re-creating pre-crash “strategies” for “re-imagining” the county and, as one supervisor keeps saying, “telling our stories.” It ain’t the Naked City, people — “Everybody Knows.”]

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