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Mendocino County Today: June 14, 2013

EdinburghSO THIS IS CIVILIZATION. Spent a day in Edinburgh, concluding that if Americans were still teachable we could learn how to manage cities from the Scots. For example, the center of San Francisco — and let's call the center of our fairest large town the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market — is a medieval spectacle of drunks, drug addicts, cruising criminals, and the unsequestered insane. At Edinburgh's civic center a nexus of bus, cab, train, restaurants, and coffee shops in the shadow of the magnificent castle, I counted exactly four bums in as many blocks, three of whom presented neatly printed messages asking for money. With a merry hands-across-the-waters, “Here ya go, pal,” I dropped some coins onto one man's handkerchief-sized cloth, realizing too late I'd gifted him to the tune of about five bucks because I haven't mastered the money here. “I'll be fooked,” the bum exclaimed through a toothless grin. “A fookin' Yank!” There were no visible lurks of the ubiquitous type menacing the public areas of every city and town of any size in America, and a national health service that treats crazy people rather than freeing them to die on the streets. Of course a national health care system is “socialism,” and we can't have that, can we?

AS A MENDO-FRISCO GUY where an antiquity is a sagging wooden structure from 1850, Edinburgh, as all the towns I've seen, is aulde, as the splendid Princes' gardens in the town center bear constant reminder. “Christian worship continuously on this site for 13 centuries,” and at regular intervals statues of Western Civ's pivotal contributors. I paused before the monument to Sir James Young Simpson, inventor of anesthesia, sending up a prayer of gratitude before moving on to Thomas de Quincey, pioneer stoner. This is a very large garden, planted heavily in rhododendrons that made me think of my old friend Vern Piver of Fort Bragg who grew prize-winning rhodos. How Vern would have loved this place where I also marveled at its ecumenism at a plinth commemorating “Friends of the International Brigade Association to honor the memory of those who went from the Lothians and Fife to serve in the war in Spain — 1936-1939.” Denounced and hounded in the US as radicals and communists — “premature anti-fascists” — the International Brigades have been written out of American history. Here, they get a place of eternal honor.

SpanishCivWarMmlTHIS POEM was engraved on the plinth honoring the Scots who fought in Spain:

Not to the fanfare of trumpets

Nor even the shirl of the pipes

Not for the offer of a shilling

Nor to see their names up in lights

Their call was a cry of anguish

From the hearts of people of Spain

Some paid with their lives it is true

Their sacrifice was not in vain

CITIES AND TOWNS END ABRUPTLY in miles of green, sheep-studded open country. Similar landscapes in Liberty Land would be festooned with No Trespassing signs and electric fencing. Here, the population is trusted to walk where they might, the national assumption being that people can be trusted not to violate unimpeded access, including fishing access which is carefully parceled out in between public and private lengths of stream. You pay to fish the private, the public are public.


NATURE WATCH, MIKE KALANTARIAN WRITES: Wednesday morning, rolling along Highway 128 just east of Navarro, I was startled by the vision of a large white deer descending off the roadway. I pulled over to get a better look. (I'd seen the fabled White Deer of Bell Valley, but compared to this apparition you'd want to rename them off-white or kinda grey.) The doe was vivid albino white and leisurely heading south, through the brush, with two little fawns in tow. The spotted fawns had all their regular brownish stripes and light spots, and weightlessly sprang away when they heard me approaching. Their mom, glowing in the morning light, calmly looked up from her grazing, and I marveled at her ability to, thus far, elude all predators.


FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WE AGREE WITH JARED CARTER. (Of course if Charles Hurwitz wanted to do it…)

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To the Editor: I’ve been following, with sympathy for the parties involved, the issues presented by Dan Hamburg’s decision to bury his wife, Carrie, on their rural property without required governmental approval. Dan’s and Tom Allman’s positions are the easiest to understand. Dan loved his wife; she wanted to be buried there. Tom doesn’t want to precipitate a problem over an issue that will be around for awhile; in the short term nothing turns on the answers, so he wants to sit back an see if and how it works out. Barry Vogel is the guy I’m sorry for. His best pal of many years has done some thing blatantly illegal that is now being publicized, and Barry is expected to come up with a solution. But once the wave of sympathy passes, I’m left with the belief there are a couple of issues pre- sented by these events that are too important to push under the rug. The first is that a modern society, even a small rural society like ours in Mendocino County, won’t work well if either(i) just a few self-selected people like Dan Hamburg, or the rich client Doug Bosco wrote about a few days ago in the Press Democrat, can decide what rules will apply to the use of scarce resources like real estate, or (ii) every property owner can decide for themselves what rules will apply to the use of real estate. The second issue implicates Barry Vogel’s argument that the State constitutional right of privacy allows a surviving husband to bury his wife on a piece of property without regard to State and Local laws governing burials and land use. Probably, or at least possibly, Dan and Barry believe the County Counsel and Board of Supervisors, along with the Sheriff, will want to avoid appearing heavy handed with Dan and will reach a compromise that will allow this grave site to remain where it is and resolve the lawsuit in a manner that even provides Barry with a legal fee, paid by the County, for reaching a successful resolution to a novel and difficult constitutional law question. I think either result would be a serious mistake. It is, and always has been, a basic tenant of State and Federal law that property – real and personal – should be used and usable over time consistently with the rules governing its use. Even an “owner” can’t create a nuisance, pollute, or waste property, thereby taking it out of the economy, because later on its proper use will be important to the viability of the area of its location. Allowing a current owner to devote a parcel of real estate to use as a cemetery is contrary to these concepts, at least without clear rules governing parcel size, additional or future grave sites, maintenance, closure, etc. Obviously, no one would argue that every owner of a city lot can decide by themself to create a permanent grave site on the lot; so, the question arises: how large does the parcel have to be, and what other characteristics must it have, before its owner can unilaterally turn it into a cemetery; does the owner have to accept for burial anyone who applies, or can he/she control access? These questions are too important to let Dan decide by himself. When he became a supervisor he swore to uphold the laws and constitution of the State. He should back off his current stand and do so. But, that’s not the end of the matter. Barry’s constitutional argument should also be expressly rejected, not just left unanswered. The “right of privacy” protects living individuals – that is not Carrie, only Dan – from certain governmental, or governmentally supported, intrusions. It does not provide an individual with authority to overturn or ignore existing, well established rules in order to carry out private desires that can be attained only by violating existing law. The County Counsel and the Sheriff need to make that clear, not back away from the issue. — Jared G. Carter Ukiah



A READER, looking at a recent Sheriff’s Press Release, notes:

Manscratcher of the week: Nuchols, arrested for scratching her beau. By the way, investigative traffic stops are unconstitutional, unless there's an actual traffic violation.

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ChristinaNucholsOn June 7, 2013, at about 6:57pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the 700 block of Port Road in Point Arena for a reported domestic related dispute. Deputies also received information that the involved parties were associated with a newer black Ford Mustang. While responding to the location, Deputies observed a vehicle leaving the area that matched the provided description. Deputies initiated an investigative traffic stop on the vehicle and made contact with the two occupants. Both occupants readily admitted to being cohabitating partners and the involved parties of the reported dispute. Deputies observed that the adult male had a visible injury to his arm and observed that the female, Christina Nuchols, 36, of Glenhaven, California, was intoxicated. Deputies were able to determine, by speaking to both parties, that Nuchols scratched the male during the alcohol related argument and caused the observed injuries to the male. Nuchols was subsequently arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where she was booked on the open charge of Domestic Violence Battery and held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail. Nuchols was also booked on two active arrest warrants issued out of Colusa County. Nuchols had a $25,000 bail felony warrant for possession of a controlled substance and a $10,000 bail misdemeanor warrant for being under the influence of a controlled substance.


THE WILLITS POLICE have determined that the razor-in-the-burger was indeed in the burger but had fallen there accidentally. 2 inch blades are used to clean the grill, and substitute blades are stored above it. The razor-burger's purchaser was not injured. Mendocino County's hard-hitting Health Department has advised the franchise to store the blades away from the grill.

TO MANY HUMBOLDTIANS, Willits is predominantly a place where a brief, internal “taco or burger” debate is waged as part of a trip down the 101 to catch a more dependable flight. Well, perhaps you should watch the following impressively thorough news report courtesy of Nick Monacelli of Sacramento’s ABC News 10 — a rising star if ever there was one. It may influence your future decisions. It seems, sometimes, Willits’ fast food restaurants let razor blades slip into their hamburgers. Specifically, between the cheese and the meat. Read this story by by Nick Monacelli of KXTV out of Sacramento about 46-year-old Yolanda Orozco’s chilling tale and then ask yourself this question: If we don’t build that Willits Bypass, am I next? (Hank Sims — Courtesy,

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Willits, California — A local woman bit into her Burger King hamburger and found a razor blade.

YolandaOrozcoOn June 2, relatives of 46-year-old Yolanda Orozco went to the Burger King in Willits and ordered a few hamburgers.

"I bit off of it, I checked for onions and then I saw a razor blade in there," said Orozco.

Fortunately, she didn't take a big bite.

"I was in shock. I was just looking at it. Somebody at Burger King was careless," she said.

Officer Mark McNelley with the Willits Police Department took the call.

"To be honest with you, I thought it was going to be a hoax," he said.

The razor blade was the kind that can be bought at almost any hardware store. It had a single edge and "009-RD" etched into the side.

Orozco said the blade was hidden between the burger meat and the cheese.

McNelley and his partner spent six hours investigating, trying to determine who was malicious enough to intentionally place the razor on the burger.

However, they soon discovered there was no criminal wrongdoing, that no one intentionally did this. Rather, the officers determined it was an accident that could have easily been prevented.

That night, Burger King employees took the officers on a tour of the restaurant.

"And that's when we saw the disconcerting sign of three other razor blades in close proximity to food," McNelley said.

In such close proximity, one blade apparently fell onto Orozco's burger.

According to the police report, employees told officers they use the razor blades for cleaning purposes. McNelley found them above the condiment area, on the counter in front of and even above the burger warming trays.

"I was definitely surprised. I didn't expect to see that," McNelley said.

Because no one broke any laws, the Willits Police Department has closed its investigation, but the Mendocino County Department of Environmental Health has stepped in.

Inspectors are mandating better training and a better system to track and store the blades.

Orozco said management from the restaurant has contacted her.

"They've called me and offered to see what I need. But right now, I'm just really paranoid," Orozco said.

The Burger King Corporation issued a statement, reading:

Food safety is a top priority for BURGER KING® restaurants globally. Burger King Corp. has strict food handling and guest policies and procedures in place that all crew members are required to follow. Franchisees are responsible for implementing these policies and emphasize the proper food safety procedures to all crew members. The franchisee, who independently owns and operates this restaurant, is fully cooperating with the Willits Police Department.

Burger King's media relations department did not respond when asked if using razor blades to clean was an accepted practice at its restaurants.


CONTINUING the drive to rebuild the state’s infrastructure, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) today allocated $1 billion in funding for 153 transportation projects that will strengthen the state’s economy by sustaining and creating jobs while providing congestion relief for motorists statewide.

“We’re building transportation improvements that will benefit the state for decades to come and boost job growth in every region of California,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

The allocations include nearly $541 million from Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. In total, more than $15.5 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been put to work statewide.

Highlights of the funding allocations include:

Humboldt County - About $2 million to seismic retrofit three bridges along Route 101 near Trinidad.

Mendocino County - Almost $560 thousand to improve the intersection of Routes 1 and 20 near Fort Bragg to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. (Caltrans Press Release)

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