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TEMPERATURES will remain near normal through Friday, followed by above normal temperatures over the weekend and into the middle of next week. Isolated, mostly dry thunderstorms are possible across portions of the interior this weekend and into early next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): Clear skies (surprisingly?) & 51F at 5am this Thursday morning on the coast. The fog is obviously all around us, I will know better the conditions when the sun rises. Our forecast remains daily morning fog then clearing for the near future.
REDWOOD VALLEY HOMICIDE
On 08-09-2023 at around 7:50 PM, The Mendocino County Sheriff's Dispatch Center received a 911 call from a person in the 2900 block of Richards Road in Redwood Valley, CA. The caller identified himself as 46-year-old Clinton Maxwell, who told the Dispatcher that he had shot his neighbor who he found trespassing on his property.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the location and requested that EMS stage in the area until the scene was deemed safe for them to enter. Upon arrival, Deputies encountered Maxwell who was detained without incident. Deputies located Timothy J Abshire, 46 of Redwood Valley, in a remote area of the property on a dirt road. Deputies and EMS performed life saving measures including CPR however Abshire succumbed from the gunshot wounds and was pronounced deceased.
During the course of this investigation, Maxwell was subsequently arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Corrections Facility for homicide, a violation of section 187 of the California Penal Code. Maxwell will be held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The circumstances leading up to and during this incident are still under investigation. Any persons who might have knowledge of this incident or any information leading up to the shooting are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
PACIFIC OCEAN WARMS: A marine heat wave that has spiked sea surface temperatures off the Oregon and Washington coast is moving into California waters. If it continues south, there is a chance it could raise temperatures along the chilly Bay Area coast within weeks, according to federal oceanographers.
The intense heat wave, which had lingered offshore since May, hit the Oregon and Washington coast recently, raising temperatures 7 to 9 degrees above normal, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday. Since then, it has moved into Northern California about as far south as Eureka in Humboldt County and is getting closer to Mendocino County.
IPHONE SUPPORT PRESENTATION
AV Village Basic iPhone Support Presentation, Thursday, August 10th, 1 to 2 PM, Anderson Valley Senior Center
After a wonderful lunch, join AV Village volunteer Jesse Espinoza for a presentation on the basics of using your iPhone. Please let us know what things you would like him to cover in advance, so he can better prepare his presentation. Bring your iPhones and questions.
ROBBIE LANE: Looking for a local martial arts instructor who would be interested in teaching a weekly club at the high school. We have a budget that will allow for us to compensate financially. The club would meet during the After School Program, between 3:00 and 5:30 pm. Exact schedule would be up to you.
WESTPORT FIRE DEPARTMENT FUNDRAISING EVENT
The Westport Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its annual fundraising event from noon to dusk on Saturday August 19. Enjoy an afternoon of fun and live music on the spectacular Westport Headlands. Admission is free.
Several great bands will be performing. Food trucks will have meals for sale. Local craft beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee and desserts can also be purchased. Craft merchants will have their wares for sale, and there will also be a silent auction of some very special items.
There will be plenty of fun activities for the whole family, including the chance to watch a Cornhole competition sponsored by Epic Graphics. This will be a great way to spend a summer afternoon while helping support the Westport Volunteer Fire Department which provides initial 911 emergency response service 24/7, year-round, throughout a response area covering 120 square miles on the northern Mendocino coast. Sorry, no dogs.
John Allison, Board Secretary, EMT and Firefighter, Westport Volunteer Fire Department firstname.lastname@example.org 707.357.3732
MENDOCINO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Work is ongoing at the historic Held-Poage Home, in preparation for repainting. We are working hard to get the house repaired and repainted before the upcoming winter weather. The repair and restoration work on the porch is being carried out by Richard Malarich. Once the porch is completed and ready for paint, we will be focused on siding, fascia boards, and gutters.
It will then be time to caulk, sand and prime for paint. It's an exciting time for the Historical Society of Mendocino County because the Held-Poage Home has been needing some attention for quite a while, and all of this work will get the house into fine trip for re-opening as a historic home museum next year.
The "front porch" facing east towards South Dora Street, is getting new finishing trim in front of the floor boards that were replaced. The wood will also be sealed.
The porch facing north toward West Perkins Street, is getting new wood after "chasing" the rot back to a solid juncture. During the repairs, it was revealed the bottoms of the porch posts need extra work, and the railing was removed as the rot requires extensive repairs to the rails and balusters.
If you would like to help us defray some of these expenses, let us know and we'll be forever grateful!
Tim Buckner, Executive Director, Historical Society of Mendocino County
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: Project on Cameron & Philo Greenwood roads is being done in with several operational phases at $150-170k/mile, last of which is a double chip seal. None of the road has been double chip sealed yet, so nobody has reviewed the finished product. Insufficient revenue for new asphalt.
MEASURE B COMMITTEE LIVES
The Mendocino County Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee (Measure B) regular monthly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 23, 2023, from 1:00 PM– 3:00 PM. The meeting will be held at Preston Hall, 44831 Main St, Mendocino, CA 95460.
This meeting is intended for members of the public who are interested in the Mendocino County Ordinance 4387 fund. Community members are encouraged to attend the meeting to ask questions, obtain information, and to provide feedback.
Measure B meeting agendas are published at: Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee | Mendocino County, CA
For more information about Measure B meetings, please contact Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Administration at (707) 472-2355 or e-mail: email@example.com.
HAZARDOUS HAZZAR GOES TO PRISON
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from efficient deliberations Tuesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.
Defendant Hazzar Arafad Navarro Torres, age 37, of Willits, was found guilty of inflicting corporal injury on his spouse, said offense occurring in March of this year.
The law enforcement agency that responded and investigated the circumstances surrounding the victim’s 9-1-1 call for help was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The prosecutor who prepared the case for trial and presented the People’s evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Nathan Mamo.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan presided over a basically one-day trial spread over two days.
After the jury was excused, the Court sentenced the defendant to thirty-six months of supervised probation, the statutory minimum required for crimes involving domestic violence.
As terms of that probation, the defendant was ordered to serve fifteen days in the Low Gap jail, complete twenty-five hours of community service, and enroll in and complete a 52-week Domestic Violence Batter’s Intervention Program.
He was also ordered to abstain from the use of both cannabis and alcohol. Most importantly, he was ordered to stay away from and have no contact with the victim.
Any defendant convicted of a domestic violence crime is prohibited by both Federal and State law from possessing any firearm and/or ammunition for at least ten years.
8-MAN FOOTBALL BOOK
John Toohey, athletic director, has created a remarkable accomplishment and I hope you will celebrate his success.
Anderson Valley native, John Toohey, current Athletic Director and PE teacher for Anderson Valley has written a remarkable book on 8-man football teams celebrating the legacy of small, rural school districts and the competitive spirit they embody.
A dedicated resident that gives back to his students in a passionate belief that all students deserve a high expectation learning experience, Mr. Toohey's book shares not only practical advice of coaching a small-school rural team, but the blood, sweat and tears and more importantly PRIDE OF AN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITY holding it's own.
Take the time to read. It's good. Legacy matters...
Louise Simson, Superintendent
BOONVILLE QUIZ NEXT WEEK
Not this week. Disappointing news indeed, but we present the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays. So hopefully you will be at Lauren's at The Buckhorn next week on August 17th starting at 7pm. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I don’t think $90,000 is a crazy salary for a supervisor. Looking at the median wage of other counties and what those counties supervisors make, it looks like county supervisors make 2.5-4.2 times as much as median workers. Mendocino is in the middle at 3.4.
The job of supervisor isn’t an ordinary job. You are on a board that runs an organization with roughly 20 departments, 4 elected offices and approximately 1200 employees. There is some merit to the argument that to get good talent, competitive wages need to be offered.
I agree that those that serve as supervisors, or aspire to serve , should do so with the interests of the public at heart and in mind. There is a mechanism to evaluate supervisors, it is called the ballot. There is a mechanism to fire under performers, it’s called a recall. Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t exercise its duty and power to hold elected officials accountable often enough. The voting public is the hiring committee. If we want better, we need to do a better job not just at voting, but in encouraging those among us who we think would do a good job to run. When they are in office, we need to continue to respect and support them. Being a public official is a hard job, constantly being the target of criticism which too often turns into personal attacks on those holding office. This prevents many qualified people from seeking office.
All that being said, I do think that considering the current financial situation, the current BOS should take a pay cut along with other the other non represented department heads. It looks as though there are 50 something positions that are lumped together with the supervisors. They should cut all those salaries 5-10% until the County is in a position to give the bargaining units currently in contract negotiations the COLA’s they deserve. It looks as though a 10% wage cut across the board would free up roughly a million, enough to give those bargaining units a meager 1% COLA. Supervisors would still have a base salary of $82k along with a more than generous benefits package.
— Adam Gaska
THE BIG STALL
by Mark Scaramella
A couple weeks ago Supervisor Ted Williams, more or less out of the blue, posted a link to some Auditor-Controller reports.
“In case you haven’t already found, Auditor-Controller financial reports are published here: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/auditor-controller/financial-reports"
But that link just goes to a list of other links to other financial reports and we’re not sure which ones the Supervisor was referring to or why.
Then Williams, in a contorted attempt to explain whatever he may have been referring to, added:
“There is a caveat to this account string for some departments. Some departments have salaries mixed in this account string. Due to our internal processes, when we allocate salaries out of a department into a different department, the department with the expense being allocated into will have the expense hit this account instead of the 1000 series. The offset in the department the expense is coming out of is shown in either other revenue or the 3000 series.”
We read that several times and we still don’t know what it says or why he said it. It does, however, show that Williams is unable to explain something that he presumably has examined. It also shows that he has at least attempted to examine the Auditor-Controller reports.
THEN, a few days later Williams asked Jim Shields:
“What’s your proposed solution to Chamise Cubbison’s inability or unwillingness to perform the statutory duties of her elected position?”
Jim Shields replied:
As I’ve suggested, as well as Haschak and I believe Gjerde also, the Board should call in former officials responsible for fiscal matters (Treasurer-Tax Collector, Auditor-Controller, Assessor, CEO) and interview/question and, hopefully, learn from them how they did their jobs. This is critical information the BOS admits it is lacking. This process would include but is not limited to such things as assessments of their responsibilities and how they performed their duties, how they exercised fiscal oversight and the identification of internal financial controls, systems that were utilized (manual vs. electronic/software, etc.), staffing levels (classifications and job descriptions) narrative descriptions of interdepartmental and third-party (ex.: outside, independent audit) working relationships detailing scope of work and information disclosed and received.
Since no one has explanations or answers to what caused the ongoing, untenable fiscal mess the county is in, you need to conduct an inquiry and start finding answers to all of the current unknowns prior to launching a substantially, momentous alteration to your organizational structure with this idea of a Department of Finance.
As you are aware, at a recent BOS meeting you asked County Counsel Curtis, “Can you assure us we have accurate (financial) information now, that we can trust this data we have now?”
Curtis succinctly responded, “No, that’s something the Board will have to take up.”
Well, it appears that one of the things the “Board will have to take up” is finding out how you got from where the County once was to where it is now.
By the way, when the suggestion was made at that meeting to open an inquiry by calling in former county financial officials to provide this much-needed information, it was cut off by Supervisor Mulheren, who complained, “We shouldn’t take another elected official to task, that’s something for the Grand Jury.”
By the way, if the Board does decide to hold an inquiry, it won’t be necessary for former officials to attend in-person. That’s the beauty of zoom meetings.
Bruce Anderson added: “Ms. Cubbison obviously has the ability to do her job, and she has explained, on the record, the reasons for delays. Why would you even suggest she might be unwilling to perform her duties? You have been unfair to her from the beginning of all this.”
Jim Shields added:
“I agree with Bruce A. on the Cubbison issue, there’s no evidence of her inability or unwillingness to perform the statutory duties of her office. There is evidence, however, that the shotgun marriage arranged when the BOS consolidated the Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller offices, was anything but a smooth transition. All the more reason for a public inquiry of former financial officials and the CEO about how they conducted the public’s business in previous years, as it’s unlikely this mess started last night. Let the chips fall where they may.”
Right. Although I doubt the Board will ever call Shari Schapmire (who has been very vocal in her criticism of the Board’s consolidation decision since retiring in protest two years ago), or Lloyd Weer (who has been invisible since retiring), or especially Carmel Angelo (who they blame for leaving them in the mess they’re in) for any kind in inquiry.
The Board’s constant whining about Ms. Cubbison’s alleged “unwillingness or inability” to do her statutory duties is very unfair and uninformed and could be taken seriously if Williams and McGourty (the primary gripers) would specify what duties are not being done and what reports they want.
At the July 25 Board meeting Ms. Cubbison tried to tell the Board, “I have requested that the board members who are asking for financial information in a different way, provide examples of those financial reports from their colleagues in other counties. To date I have never seen examples of such reports.”
Cubbison also reminded the Board that “County staff and fiscal offices and departments provide extensive quarterly information on their projections for year-end amounts.”
Obviously, if you want to know the true budget versus actual status in a department you’d ask the department, not the auditor. This dense Board seems unable to grasp that basic fact.
Later in the meeting, Supervisor Haschak followed up, asking, “The budget ad hoc committee was supposed to be looking at the financial reports and getting that information to the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector. They were supposed to be working on that to make sure that we were getting the reports. What is the status of that progress?”
What they should have been doing was getting departmental reports. But Haschak didn’t ask about that.
Nevertheless McGourty conceded: “We were focusing more on closing the books and were busy putting the budget together so we have not made any progress on that.”
The Board never “put the budget together.” What a crock. All they did was rubberstamp what the CEO’s office put in front of them and they only spent half a day of the two days that were scheduled going over it.
Yet, here’s Williams who, with McGourty (the “budget ad hoc”), has “not made any progress” on identifying what they want from Cubbison but still whining about not getting some amorphous “reports.” In essence Williams is saying, “We don’t know what we want nor have we even tried to figure it out, but it’s the Auditor’s fault for not giving it to us.”
We suspect that this Board-made reporting stalemate is part of a larger Board and CEO effort to delay the negotiations with the employee unions as long as possible by blaming others and claiming that they need more info before making any substantive offers to the employees. Since, as Ms. Cubbison notes, the basic budget info is available from the departments on request, the Board’s failure to ask for it is a very effective way to stall the negotiations, whether that’s their intent or not. It’s also a good way to create chaos, frustration, demoralization and disintegration among the employees in the affected departments.
POT PERMIT HELL
This is the state of our Cannabis Department. This is ONE grower, on ONE parcel, headed to Planning and Building, to deal with their permits. No wonder it takes 200 hours to approve a license and years to get it done. There are no other Ag producers with this much red tape from the County. I was frankly shocked at the amount of paperwork, hence the photos. I don't think the public knows the hoops (pun intended) these growers are having to jump through, for years. Also, if you are in the process of getting your license, you are not paying an annual fee. This again points out how un-business friendly our County is. The Board of Supervisors wonders why it can't balance its budget when the supposed “savior” that was Cannabis has its hands tied by the very County it was suppose to help support.
Shaking my head,
POTTER VALLEY PROJECT - NEW PLAN SUBMITTED TO PG&E - WOULD CONSERVE EEL RIVER DIVERSIONS
by Justine Frederiksen
In a continuing effort by Mendocino and Sonoma county officials to keep water flowing through the Potter Valley Project once the Pacific Gas & Electric Company completely relinquishes control of the hydroelectric plant and the dams it depends upon, a scaled-down version of the now-defunct Two-Basin Partnership has submitted a new plan for diverting water from the Eel River to the Russian River that it describes as benefiting both fish and humans.
According to a press release emailed Monday, three of the entities involved in the previous iteration of the Two-Basin Partnership — the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the Sonoma County Water Agency — “submitted a proposal to advance a regional solution for preserving flows in the Russian River and improving Eel River fisheries.
“The new Eel-Russian Facility proposal submitted to PG&E would provide for the creation of a regional entity that has the legal and financial capacity to own, construct and operate a new water diversion facility near PG&E’s Cape Horn Dam on the Eel River,” the release continues. “The yet-to-be designed facility would allow for ongoing water diversions through the Potter Valley Project’s tunnel between the Eel River and Russian River, while allowing for upstream and downstream fish migration to support larger efforts aimed at achieving naturally reproducing, self-sustaining and harvestable native anadromous fish populations.”
After previously making clear that it did not intend to keep operating the old and mostly superfluous hydroelectric plant tucked away in a remote corner of inland Mendocino County, PG&E announced last year that its decommissioning plan for the Potter Valley Project included removing both Scott Dam and Cape Horn Dam — facilities that created Lake Pillsbury while diverting a portion of the Eel River to the power plant — as well as the water-diverting tunnel itself unless a viable alternative was submitted before August of 2023.
“This was a big step because we made the deadline, but it’s only the first step, and there’s a lot of work still to be done,” said Janet Pauli, chair of the MCIWPC, explaining that the first crucial hurdle was PG&E’s acceptance of the group’s initial proposal.
According to the group, the agency’s official response was: “PG&E has received the proposal from Sonoma Water, MCIWPC and RVIT about the Potter Valley Project and is reviewing it. PG&E has previously shared we would consider proposals for a third party to retain certain project features. We will have an initial draft Surrender Application and Decommissioning Plan available for review in late November.”
When asked if the group’s proposal included any plans for continued operations of the facilities that make up Scott Dam, Pauli said it did not, and the future use of those facilities at this point was “completely at the discretion of PG&E.”
“This is all about achieving a solution that honors the needs of all the ecosystems and communities within the region,” Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma Water Director James Gore is quoted as saying in the press release announcing the new group’s proposal for modifying the Potter Valley Project’s water diversions. “Our proposal endeavors to improve the health of the Eel while preserving critical water diversions, at the appropriate times and levels, to the Russian River watershed.”
“Our goals are to restore the Eel River watershed from its degraded condition and to restore our salmon fishery to sustainable and harvestable populations,” Bill Whipple, president of the Round Valley Indian Tribes Tribal Council is quoted as saying in the press release. “We join this proposal because it is one pathway to achieving these goals. We look forward to working with our partners in both the Eel River watershed and Russian River watershed, and the environmental community to ensure that the decommissioning plan fully protects our Eel River fish and respects our federal fishing rights and water rights.”
The group also notes that: “The regional solution proposal was submitted to PG&E in response to its decision to surrender its license for operating the Potter Valley Project, and its requirement to receive a proposal by July 2023 from any entity interested in owning part the project’s facilities. PG&E’s schedule for filing a license surrender application and decommissioning plan calls for the utility company to complete an initial draft surrender application by November 2023, and a final draft surrender application by May 2024. The final application is required for submittal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by Jan. 31, 2025.”
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
FROM THE WAYBACK MACHINE: Patrick Cant on the second-to-last Reggae On The River: “The two most often-heard announcements from the stage were: ‘Please remember to drink a lot of water,’ and ‘Alcohol, Ecstasy and sunlight do not mix.’ The latter was in reference to a drug that was apparently popular with the fans. They were dropping like flies in the heat from lack of water. The music was fantastic, and the message contained in that music is one of peace and love and sharing and unity. Therein lies the problem: There seems to be a philosophical Grand Canyon between the ideas preached in reggae music and their application at the concert site itself. Water was free, but everything else was horrifically inflated in cost. A cheeseburger was $5, a 12-ounce beer was $3.50, and the T-shirts started at $22. Not that different from any other rock concert, really, or even a baseball game. The ground was also littered with cigarette butts, despite the proliferation of ash cans everywhere. I guess peace and love doesn’t extend itself to the actual concert site itself, which is a shame, because the music was so good.”
“BOSCO-ING,” as in dumping a seemingly entrenched officeholder, made it into the Northcoast’s political lexicon in ’98 when estranged Democrats, and Northcoast members of the Peace and Freedom Party, combined to get the incumbent Democrat, Doug Bosco, out of office. The term derives from the Peace and Freedom Party’s Darlene Commingore, or “Commie-gore,” as she was known among the Democrats whose apple carts she’d upset by aggressively participating in an election process they seemed to have thought, and still think, belonged to them upset the Democrat’s apple cart big time. Commie-Gore grabbed about 18% of the Democratic Party vote, enough to un-elect Bosco from Congress and send Gingrichian hack Frank Riggs to DC in his place. Dan Hamburg, running for governor as a Green, was in a position, according to Dan Walters of the Press Democrat and Sacramento Bee, to “Bosco” Gray Davis. The Democrats have looked over their expensively clad shoulders ever since.
THE AGE OLD SLAM from big shot Democrats that Democrats who vote third party are voting for the Republican have already begun for the 2024 election. Vote for Cornel West you’re voting for Trump. A vote for dissident Democrat RFK Jr. is a vote for Trump. As a registered Democrat, I’ll be voting for West because he’s more than less in line with what I consider my principles, which are more than less the principles of George McGovern, the last Democrat I voted for for president. And McGovern’s principles were in line with the long-gone Democrat principles that defended working people, not plutocrats. RFK Jr. is more than less an old fashioned Democrat worth supporting if it weren’t for his obsessions with unsupported science. The big shot Democrats are going after Kennedy big time and, of course, ignoring West. Will I be “objectively” supporting Trump? No, I’ll be voting for what Democrats used to stand for.
MATT TAIBBI nicely sums up where we're at politically: “American politics has long been a careful truce, in which natural economic tensions were obscured by an elegantly phony two-party structure that kept urban and rural poor separate, nurtured a politically unadventurous middle class, and tended to needs of the mega-rich no matter who won. That system is in collapse. Voters are abandoning traditional blue-red political identities and realigning according to more explosive divisions based on education and income. As the middle class vanishes the replacement endgame emerges. A small pocket of very wealthy and very educated, for whom elections have until now mostly been ceremonial and to whom more fraught realities of the current situation are an annoyance, will move to one side. That’s your “15% strongly approve” group, the Marie Antoinettes who’ll go to the razor pledging loyalty to the regent, even if he’s a loon in a periwig, or Joe Biden. The inevitable other constituency is just everyone else, which should be a larger demographic. The only reason polls are at 43-43 (or perhaps slightly in Biden’s disfavor) is because the other actor is Donald Trump. If Democrats should be panicking because they’re not trouncing an opponent whose biggest campaign events have been arraignments, it’s just as bad for Trump that he polls even with a man who’s a threat to walk into a propeller or carry a child into a forest every time he walks outside. Still, the abject horror Trump inspires among the Georgetown set may be his greatest political asset, and a reason the realignment seems to be proceeding even with him around."
NEW YORK TIMES CALIFORNIA TRAVEL REPORT
Today’s tip comes from Tessa Auberjonois, who lives in Los Angeles. Tessa recommends a trip to Anderson Valley in Mendocino County:
“The drive on two-lane Highway 128 to the Mendocino Coast through Anderson Valley just north of Healdsburg takes about two hours. Favorite spots along the way — Boonville, a charming small town that has a little something for everyone on a summer Sunday afternoon. The Anderson Valley Brewery often has live music, as well as an extensive Frisbee Golf course and great craft beer; Paysanne, an old-fashioned ice cream shop where all the ice cream and sorbet is handcrafted by the chef at the Boonville Hotel across the street. On Sunday evenings, the hotel serves fresh local oysters or a large fresh paella and small, farm-to-table plates along with excellent local wines in its stunning gardens. Further up the valley are a number of boutique wineries including Navarro and Husch. The Navarro River winds through the valley — the first hour or so is rolling golden hills and vineyards spotted with California live oak on the northeast side and evergreen woods on the southwest side. A stop at the beautiful Hendy Woods State Park can afford a gentle walk through the redwood grove, or a wade through the Navarro River. My partner and I parked outside the entrance to the park at a local swimming hole, rode our bikes among the redwoods, and had a very private picnic on the river bank. Further up past the town of Navarro, Highway 128 is lined with stunning old growth redwoods until you reach the wild Mendocino Coast just south of Mendocino. From there, there are too many adventures to mention!”
FOOD DESERT? A reader wonders:
Finding food on the coast between 2 and 5 is a real challenge. We just don't bother anymore because everything is closed. There's no need for customers to be rude about it but the phenomenon of closing the restaurants every afternoon is pretty unique to the area and I get that it's upsetting for hungry people to be turned away especially as there is clearly a need to be serving during those hours.
This is our country store in Boonville. It is in the Farrer Building which, with it's café, “Mosswood Café” is the center of town in some respects.
Visitors and their husbands love to browse here. We are not Healdsburg, but you will have to admit that their inventory is special.
ROBERT SPIES AT CLOUD NINE
Robert Spies, Sculptor Extraordinaire
Cloud Nine Art Gallery, 320 N. Franklin St., Fort Bragg
First Friday, September 1, 5 - 8pm
Robert Spies is a self-taught sculptor, print maker and painter. His interest in art started with zoological illustrations during graduate school. After graduating from the University of Southern California in marine biology he worked in Australia, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and California doing original research, publishing, editing and advising governments. Dr. Spies has actively pursued sculpture since the 1970s starting with sculptures fashioned from native walnut tree trunks salvaged in the San Francisco Bay Area. After moving to Mendocino in 2002 he expanded into cast aluminum and bronze sculptures while continuing wood sculpture from coastal tree species, many salvaged from local beaches. He has also made prints, collages and paintings for the last 20 years, and shown work in Northern California, Los Angeles and Oregon.
Robert Spies will give a brief talk with a Q&A at 6pm on First Friday. Enjoy a little bubbly, light refreshments and Jazz Piano by Christopher Johnso
Cloud Nine Art Gallery is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12 - 5.
A Reader Writes: Looks like Dederick is living in Santa Rosa. He has no relatives or associates listed. All things considered; his email address is disgusting.
MENDOCINO COUNTY HISTORY (Caoimhín Kevin Bunker)
The 1890s, when Fort Bragg had a race track and horse racing was keenly attended. The track was outside the original city limits and east of the old Coast Road, near the present location of Safeway. Both sulkie (cart) trotting races and all-out jockey saddle races were held in summer months, local coastal men bringing in their own horses and sometimes doubling as jockeys.
Fort Bragg Advocate May 9th 1894, page 3:
"THE RACES. — The races at the track were largely attended last Sunday and everything passed off quietly and nicely. This was the first of the races given under the auspices of the Fort Bragg Trotting Race Track Association, and the carrying on of the affair was a decided success and reflects great credit on the officers and members.
"The day was all that one could wish for and the track was in splendid condition.
"The first race came off at 2 o'clock and was a half-mile dash and repeat for a purse of $50; entrance fee, $30, was added. The horses entered were Rambler, Ace Full and Bessie K. Rambler won the first heat, Bessie K second and Ace Full shut out. Rambler also won second heat and the race.
"The second race was a quarter-mile dash and repeat for a purse of $50 and entrance fee, $10, added. Horses entered were Bird and Daisy Kimball; Bird won both heats.
"The last race was a single half-mile dash for saddle horses for the entrance fee, $15. Horses entered were Sodawater, Sausage Grinder and Macaroni. Sausage Grinder won the race.
"The gate receipts amounted to $75."
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, August 9, 2023
CHRISTOPHER BRAUN-RYAN, Merced/Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
MATTHEW HILL, Ukiah. Petty theft, controlled substance, paraphernalia, resisting, probation revocation.
ALEXANDER JACKSON, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JAKE LEWISKOOY, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation.
ANJEL OROPEZA, Las Vegas/Ukiah. DUI.
ROBERT RAY, Klamath/Willits. Domestic abuse, disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, brandishing, resisting, probation revocation.
TRAVIS SQUIRES, Willits. Battery with serious bodily injury, cruelty to child-infliction of injury.
A WOMAN WAS ATTACKED BY A SNAKE THAT FELL FROM THE SKY. THEN A HAWK DIVED IN.
An encounter with two creatures on her six-acre property in Texas left Peggy Jones with bruises and gashes.
by Chang Che
One should never get in the way of a hawk and its prey.
Peggy Jones learned that lesson in a most unwitting way on July 25 as she and her husband were finishing a day of yard work on a six-acre property that they own in Silsbee, Texas, about 100 miles northeast of Houston.
First, in an improbable occurrence, a snake fell from the clear blue sky, wrapping itself tightly around Ms. Jones’s right forearm.
“I immediately screamed and started swinging my arm to shake the snake off,” Ms. Jones, 64, said in an interview. “I was screaming, ‘Jesus, help me, please, Jesus, help me!’”
The snake wrapped itself around her arm more tightly. It hissed and lunged at her face, at times striking her glasses. But then, Ms. Jones realized, the snake, too, was an unwitting victim.
A brown-and-white hawk flying overhead had fumbled and dropped the four-and-a-half-foot-long scaly creature. The hawk quickly joined the fracas, swooping down to wrench its serpentine dinner from Ms. Jones’ arm.
The hawk snatched, scratched and jabbed at her arm “three to four times,” to reclaim its meal, Ms. Jones recalled. Each time, its powerful talons slashed her forearm. At one point, the bird dragged Ms. Jones’s arm up into the air. On the fourth try, it successfully uncoiled the snake and flew away. The “horrific” ordeal, Ms. Jones said, lasted about 15 to 20 seconds, and left her arm scratched, bruised and punctured.
“I looked down at my arm and it was totally covered in blood,” Ms. Jones said.
Wendell Jones, her husband, eventually noticed that his wife was screaming, running in a zigzag pattern and flailing her arms. He promptly helped her into their truck and drove to the hospital. On the way there, he recalled, Ms. Jones was tongue-tied.
“By the time I got to her, she was pretty hysterical,” Mr. Jones, 66, said in an interview. “It took me probably three minutes to actually understand what had happened.”
Mr. Jones said he did not see the attack, but a local news station that came to film the property on Monday captured a video of a hawk he believes to be the same one that attacked his wife.
“He still flies around out there,” Mr. Jones said. “He must live right there.”
At the hospital, Ms. Jones was bandaged and given antibiotics. She discovered that her glasses had chipped and her lenses had a liquid substance that she thought could have been venom from the snake. Doctors said her wounds were not caused by a snake bite, but rather by the hawk’s talons.
Still, after Ms. Jones was released from the hospital that evening, she stayed up all night to make sure that her arm didn’t swell or blacken, symptoms of snake poison. (It didn’t.)
Two weeks later, Ms. Jones still has open wounds and bruises on her forearm. She has received an outpouring of support from strangers around the world on social media, who are praying for her speedy recovery.
Ms. Jones believes that she will physically recover, though she said that she has had recurring nightmares about the episode. She has had trouble eating and sleeping, she said, and at times will scream and yell out for help in her sleep.
Her nightmares vary. Some are a rehash of the encounter, Ms. Jones said, while others are stranger.
“Sometimes I’m in a room and there’s snakes on the wall and snakes on the ceiling and snakes all over the floor,” she said.
Mr. Jones said the nightmares were likely the result of the snake and hawk encounter, combined with an earlier misfortune: Two years ago, his wife was bitten by a venomous snake while working on another property in Silsbee. “She’s snake-wary now,” he said. “I’m pretty sure she’ll be frightened of anything that looks or moves like a snake.”
Still, Ms. Jones believes she is fortunate despite what many of her newfound supporters tell her.
“I consider myself to be the luckiest person alive,” she said. “I was attacked by a snake and a hawk and I lived to tell about it.”
JOHNNY MANZIEL NEVER WATCHED FILM, had someone pee for him, and there was even a fake heart attack scheme
by James Dator
The new Johnny Manziel documentary UNTOLD: Johnny Football released on Netflix this week, and it’s wilder than you could possibly imagine. It’s a fascinating look at how Manziel’s career (and life) went off the rails, and we’re learning some astonishing things.
Easily the biggest moment that’s catching people’s attention right now is when his agent, Erik Burkhardt, revealed that Manziel never watched tape ... ever. Not a game, not a play, not a second ... nothing.
Of course this was after Manziel made it to the NFL. Before he stepped foot on a field it was even more wild, because once again Manziel’s agent outlines how he had to devise a detailed rollout plan for the NFL Combine because he knew Manziel wouldn’t pass a drug test.
The plan went a little something like this:
- Manziel would fly into Indianapolis, showing the league he wasn’t afraid of the process
- Before interviews and drug tests his dad would fake a heart attack, causing Manziel to fly home and be a family man
- He’d get clean and reschedule private interviews with the teams
This would create positive hype around Manziel, rather than risking him blowing up his career before it began. Also, note that Manziel’s agent casually notes that that his client had a fourth-string QB pee for him to pass college drug tests — a charge that Texas A&M hasn’t responded to at this time.
When it finally came time to give teams a private workout there wasn’t a receiver for Manziel to throw to, so his agent stepped in and it was a mess. You can read all about that here, because the details are too incredible.
LAWSUITS ACCUSE 49ERS CEO JED YORK OF INSIDER TRADING, SECURITIES VIOLATIONS
by Lance Williams & Ron Kroichick
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York has been sued for alleged insider trading and violations of federal securities laws in connection with his service on the board of a Santa Clara-based online educational company.
In two shareholders’ lawsuits, York and other directors of Chegg Inc. stand accused of concealing the company’s role in helping college students cheat on online exams. The company’s revenue soared during the pandemic, as students learned they could use a Chegg account to get real-time answers to questions on college exams administered online, the lawsuits claim.
Chegg’s revenues plunged and the stock price collapsed at the pandemic’s end, as colleges resumed in-person testing and students no longer could use the company’s products to cheat, according to the suits.
The civil suits accuse the Chegg board of “gross mismanagement,” “unjust enrichment” and making false and misleading statements in SEC filings in connection with Chegg’s “schemes” to profit from the cheating scandal.
The lawsuits also accuse York, along with Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig and several other company executives, of illegal insider trading for allegedly unloading Chegg stock at the top of the market without informing investors about the extent of the cheating scandal. York made $1.4 million in profit on the sale of 20,000 shares “at artificially inflated prices,” the lawsuits claim.
“York engaged in insider sales before the fraud was exposed,” one of the lawsuits asserts. “As a trusted member of the board, he conducted little, if any, oversight of Chegg’s engagement in … the cheating misconduct.”
Chegg also is the target of a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of securities fraud, based on many of the same allegations in the shareholders’ complaints. The company has denied wrongdoing and has moved to have the class-action suit dismissed. York was not named as a defendant in that lawsuit.
In a statement, 49ers spokesperson Brian Brokaw said Wednesday, “The 49ers are proud of the work we accomplished with Chegg to provide scholarships for first-generation students.” Brokaw didn’t address the Chronicle’s questions about the lawsuits against York.
“The recent securities-related lawsuits against Chegg, and in certain cases (its) board of directors, are without merit and Chegg is vigorously defending itself,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email. “Chegg takes academic integrity very seriously and has invested significant resources to protect it. Chegg has been helping millions of students learn and thrive for many years, including during the pandemic, creating a transformative digital learning platform to improve outcomes.”
In 10 years on the Chegg board, York has been paid cash and stock worth about $2 million for his part-time work, and he has turned a profit of $4.9 million on sales of company stock, records show.
The suits, consolidated in February and pending in U.S. District Court in Northern California, ask a judge to overhaul Chegg’s board and force it to comply with securities laws. Directors themselves should be forced to pay restitution and damages in an unspecified amount out of their own pockets, the suits say.
York studied finance at Notre Dame and worked on Wall Street before the 49ers, owned by his parents, hired him as vice president in 2005. The team does not disclose his pay as CEO. York has many other business interests in addition to his job as the team’s top executive, according to records reviewed by the Chronicle.
He is general manager of a venture capital firm called Aurum Partners and is manager of a dozen limited liability corporations involved in investment services, sports consulting and property development, according to state filings. York also is CEO of Forty Niners Suite Co., a company that markets luxury boxes at Levi’s Stadium.
In addition, he’s a director of six nonprofits, including the 49ers Foundation, and serves on the boards of Chegg and Elevate Sports Ventures, a marketing firm run by 49ers President Al Guido. York serves on boards “to carry on his family’s commitment to community,” according to his biography on the team’s website.
Chegg was founded in 2005 by two Iowa State students as an affordable textbook rental company. Seven years later, Chegg had moved to California and gone digital, launching an eReader that allowed students to “easily read, search, navigate, highlight and bookmark eTextbooks anytime on any connected device,” according to the company’s website.
In 2013, not long after York was promoted to 49ers CEO, he was invited to join Chegg’s board. Months later, Chegg went public with an IPO of 15 million shares of common stock at $12.50 per share.
Since then, York has served as chair of the company’s compensation committee (which sets executive pay) and on its governance committee. His pay package of cash and stock is valued at more than $250,000 per year.
Chegg benefits from York’s “extensive leadership experience and strong corporate development background,” according to his biography on the company’s website.
In 2019, the 49ers partnered with Chegg to fund up to $100,000 in scholarships for first-generation college students from the Bay Area. The agreement made Chegg the “presenting sponsor” for all 49ers first downs in their home games during the 2019 season, with Chegg contributing $500 for each first down to the scholarship fund.
At season’s end, the team and company would select five first-generation college students and distribute scholarships capped at $20,000 each. The 49ers totaled 174 first downs in their eight regular-season home games in 2019, which equates to $87,000 (or more than $17,000 per student).
In a news release at the time, Brent Schoeb, the 49ers’ chief revenue officer, said, “In Chegg, we have a partner whose principles and priorities align perfectly with those of our own, and we are proud to formalize this partnership to raise awareness and funds for their Students First initiative.”
He also noted the 49ers Foundation’s mission “to educate and empower Bay Area youth aligns directly with Chegg’s mission to address the issues facing the modern student.”
On Sept. 24, 2019, two days after the 49ers beat Pittsburgh in their home opener, York retweeted a Chegg tweet touting the scholarship fund and encouraging students to apply. York added the message, “Love how @Chegg is changing the game in education!”
Records show Chegg has struggled to turn a profit. But during the pandemic, revenue from its $19.95-per-month online learning accounts skyrocketed, driving the stock price up.
Rosensweig, the CEO, told prospective investors that college students were turning to Chegg because they realized they needed more academic help than colleges could provide, according to the lawsuits. In SEC filings, the company also attributed revenue growth to a sharp increase in international student enrollments and the company’s success in blocking students from “stealing and reselling” account logins.
The lawsuits allege that the real reason for the company’s growth was a surge in academic cheating, facilitated during the pandemic by Chegg.
Colleges have no easy way to monitor students when exams are given online, as was necessary during the pandemic. According to the lawsuits, students realized they could log into Chegg while taking a test and search the company’s database of academic exams — or even query an online Chegg tutor — for answers to test questions. Students then cut and pasted answers into their finals.
On many campuses during the pandemic, the term “chegging” became a synonym for cheating on tests, as Forbes magazine reported.
Professors soon began to complain, records show. UCLA officials said Chegg-related cheating was “rampant.” Cal State Fullerton said it had uncovered “a very professional cheating operation” involving Chegg. At the U.S. Air Force Academy, which has a strict honor code, more than 200 students admitted using Chegg to cheat on math and engineering tests.
As the scandal unfolded, officials and faculty from Duke, Texas A&M, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston University and Nebraska directly contacted Chegg “about the extensive cheating,” class-action plaintiffs told the court earlier this year.
Chegg denied widespread cheating, saying special software prevented it. The company allegedly slow-walked complaints from colleges and refused to identify students implicated in cheating, citing privacy concerns.
The lawsuits claim the company knew cheating was driving student demand for Chegg accounts — and when the pandemic ended and students returned to classrooms, the demand was likely to decline.
But the company told potential investors that revenue growth would continue after students returned to the classroom. The company made other misleading statements to investors to prop up the stock price, per the lawsuits.
Some company officials profited by selling Chegg stock in 2020 and 2021 while the price was high and “before the fraud was exposed,” the lawsuits claim. Rosensweig, the Chegg CEO, sold more than 500,000 shares at a $48 million profit. On two occasions in 2020, according to the lawsuits, York sold 10,000 shares of Chegg he had acquired through directors’ options, making a combined $1.4 million in profit.
“His insider sales demonstrate his motive in facilitating and participating in the scheme,” one lawsuit says.
Chegg’s growth stalled as the pandemic subsided, the company revealed in a November 2021 filing. Rosensweig blamed the downturn on a slowdown in the education industry; on the news, the share price dropped from $62.76 to $32.12.
Shareholders Rak Joon Choi and Joseph Robinson sued after that. Robert Moest, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, declined comment to the Chronicle. The cases have been combined and delayed pending the outcome of the class-action fraud case and another suit brought by a textbook publisher accusing Chegg of copyright infringement.
The company’s stock price hasn’t rebounded. At its peak in February 2021, Chegg stock traded at $113.51. It’s now under $11.
FORGET HYPOCRITICAL ‘PATRIOTS’, MEGAN RAPINOE IS A SOURCE OF PRIDE FOR U.S.
by Ann Killion
Megan Rapinoe was already in the pantheon of game-changing athletes long before her errant penalty kick in the U.S. women’s loss to Sweden, which ended her international soccer career.
The blue-haired player from Redding has joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Billie Jean King and Colin Kaepernick. All athletes who have pushed for rights and equality, who have stood for what they believed in, who have changed culture and helped change the world through sports.
And all of whom have been vilified for their stances, have been called anti-American, have faced vitriol and hatred.
So, it was fully predictable that Rapinoe’s failed kick unleashed a spew of hateful celebration from so-called “patriots” who have been waiting years to see the wildly popular American women’s team falter.
From a sports standpoint, Rapinoe’s ending wasn’t surprising. Athletes rarely go out on their own terms and at 38, it had become increasingly clear that Rapinoe, who announced before the World Cup that she would be retiring from international competition, was no longer the player she once was. The player the team needed her to be.
But she was selected to the youth-filled roster for her leadership and the hope that she could channel her former self. Her specialty was the penalty kick and when she sent her final kick on the big stage high over the net, she laughed in self-deprecation — another Rapinoe specialty — and later called the plot twist “like a sick joke.”
In reality, the sick joke came in the aftermath of the loss as “America First” hypocrites delighted in the demise of the American team, in an orgasm of misogyny and homophobia. It is not worth giving much oxygen to the snowflakes who have felt so fragile and threatened in a summer dominated by Barbie’s take on patriarchy, Taylor Swift’s takeover of the world and the wild success of the Women’s World Cup.
Proving that the 5-foot-6 California lesbian still can get under his skin, former President Donald Trump sent an unhinged post on the platform he and his followers use:
“The ‘shocking and totally unexpected’ loss by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team to Sweden is fully emblematic of what is happening to the our (sic) once great Nation under Crooked Joe Biden. Many of our players were openly hostile to America — No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close. WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA.”
Rapinoe is sure to get a laugh out of that, as she has found this years-long fight with Trump — that began when she said before the 2019 World Cup that she wouldn’t be going to “the f—ing White House” — surreal and amusing. (“I always felt Trump loved me,” she joked to Time magazine, and she might be right as her mere presence on earth galvanizes the MAGA army).
Though Fox Sports was thrilled with the ratings the U.S. team was generating — even in the middle of the night — Fox News was counting who sang the words to the unsingable Star Spangled Banner and who had their hand over their heart as proof the women wearing the crest hate America (if this is patriotic proof, then I can tell you, as someone who has spent a career watching teams while their anthem plays, most athletes clearly hate their countries).
Fox News bled into Fox Sports coverage as blowhard Alexi Lalas scolded the U.S. team. The man who launched a career on a red goatee and poor guitar playing chastised the American women for doing more than playing soccer and finally concluded on social media that they were “unlikeable” to a chunk of the country.
If “woke equals failure” how did the U.S. team — during an equal-pay lawsuit against its federation — steamroll the opposition in 2019 while Trump was president? How are all the other “woke” teams who are engaged in equal-pay fights and with plenty of prideful lesbians on their rosters succeeding at the World Cup?
And for every MAGA hypocrite who hates the U.S. team, trust that there are legions of people around the world who have followed it devoutly, who are inspired by the players, who cheer them both on the field and off. Who have applauded and emulated their fight to be treated equally, to be accepted for who they are, to celebrate their differences.
Let’s heed the words of the Swedes who were so good against the Americans.
“Don’t talk s— about the U.S. team,” said their captain, Kosovare Asllani. “You should be proud of your team.”
And America should be proud of Rapinoe who invariably has been unapologetically herself. She fights for her rights as a gay woman and fights for the rights of others. She knelt in solidarity with Kaepernick, braver than all the powerful white players in the NFL, and was almost banished because of it. She bounced back to win the 2019 World Cup and the three highest awards given in soccer. She fought for equal pay. She fights for LGBTQ rights. She stands in support of trans athletes and abhors the weaponization of women’s sports against trans people.
She has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has won an Olympic gold medal and two World Cups for her country. For our country.
We don’t know what the funny, smart, entertaining player from Redding will do next. But we know that her legacy as an American game-changer is cemented forever.
DON'T DIG IN AGAINST BOB GIBSON; he'll knock you down. He'd knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don't stare at him, don't smile at him, don't talk to him. He doesn't like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don't run too slow, don't run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don't charge the mound, because he's a Gold Glove boxer.
— Hank Aaron, giving advice to Dusty Baker
BUT SALVATORE did not tell me only this tale. In broken words, obliging me to recall what little I knew of Provencal and of Italian dialects, he told me the story of his flight from his native village and his roaming about the world. And in this story I recognized many men I had already known or encountered along the road, and I now recognize many more that I have met since, so that after all this time I may even attribute to him adventures and crimes that belonged to others, before him and after him, and which now, in my tired mind, flatten out to form a single image. This, in fact, is the power of the imagination, which, combining the memory of gold with that of the mountain, can compose the idea of a golden mountain.
— Umberto Eco, 1980; from ‘The Name of the Rose’
CAMPAIGN 2024: Not Left Versus Right, But Affluent Versus Everyone Else
The realignment of major parties away from blue against red and toward rich versus poor dynamic is America's most undercovered political story
by Matt Taibbi
Two sets of figures, collected four years apart by the research firm SSRS, for CNN:
Donald Trump, September, 2019: Strongly Disapprove, 48%. Strongly Approve, 28%
Joe Biden, August, 2023: Strongly Disapprove, 42%. Strongly Approve, 15%
Plunging numbers for Trump prompted stories like, “Tldr: Trump’s in 2020 Trouble.” Biden headlines this week try to speak an upbeat narrative into reality, the most humorous probably being “Biden Heads West For a Policy Victory Lap” and “Biden Goes West to Tout The Economy.” According to a slew of reports the president’s “touting” trip celebrates “growth in manufacturing,” and opportunities afforded by the Inflation Reduction and Chips and Science Acts. “You can expect us to highlight more groundbreakings of projects, more ribbon-cuttings,” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillan told the Washington Post.
Ribbon cuttings are a great idea. What could go wrong with Joe Biden and giant ceremonial scissors?
The White House plan is commendable in its boldness, declaring economic victory and sending Biden to battleground states to take a bow. This is in the context of still-bolder reports that explain poor numbers for Biden by claiming they’re the fault of the latest indictment of opponent Trump, which has “eclipsed” White House efforts to highlight Biden accomplishments. Not all is lost, however, according to Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, quoted by the AP. Although the Trump indictment “sucks the oxygen out of everything else,” she said, it’s also hampered the Republicans’ ability to talk about other issues, like — the economy.
“People like to say nothing matters anymore,” Greenberg said. “But the conversation that you’re not having actually does matter.” Try saying that one three times fast.
A lot of coverage of Campaign 2024 is going to be like this, in which aides, pundits, and pollsters speak like fridge-magnet haikus or Alan Greenspan pressers. There are now so many taboo subjects in American politics that even data journalists, whose job is to give us the cold hard facts, are forced to communicate in allusions and metaphors, because what’s happening can’t be discussed.
American politics has long been a careful truce, in which natural economic tensions were obscured by an elegantly phony two-party structure that kept urban and rural poor separate, nurtured a politically unadventurous middle class, and tended to needs of the mega-rich no matter who won. That system is in collapse. Voters are abandoning traditional blue-red political identities and realigning according to more explosive divisions based on education and income. As the middle class vanishes the replacement endgame emerges. A small pocket of very wealthy and very educated, for whom elections have until now mostly been ceremonial and to whom more fraught realities of the current situation are an annoyance, will move to one side. That’s your “15% strongly approve” group, the Marie Antoinettes who’ll go to the razor pledging loyalty to the regent, even if he’s a loon in a periwig, or Joe Biden.
The inevitable other constituency is just everyone else, which should be a larger demographic. The only reason polls are at 43-43 (or perhaps slightly in Biden’s disfavor) is because the other actor is Donald Trump. If Democrats should be panicking because they’re not trouncing an opponent whose biggest campaign events have been arraignments, it’s just as bad for Trump that he polls even with a man who’s a threat to walk into a propeller or carry a child into a forest every time he walks outside. Still, the abject horror Trump inspires among the Georgetown set may be his greatest political asset, and a reason the realignment seems to be proceeding even with him around.
The first evidence of such realignment would be one party becoming dominant among affluent voters. This is definitely happening. Democratic affiliation, not long ago far less likely in richer congressional districts, is now as mandatory a social accessory in wealthy suburbs as neck tucks or $14,000 kids’ birthday parties. Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur, one of the last old-school liberals left in congress, launched a tirade about this in March to Business Insider, producing charts to visually demonstrate the phenomenon. Page 1 on the left, heavily blue, shows the richest seats. On the right are the poorest. “How is it possible that Republicans are representing the majority of people who struggle?” she said.
Once-extreme racial splits are also eroding. We started to see this in 2020, when Trump lost the White House due to slippage among white men and somehow gained among women, black men, and Hispanic voters. This was dismissed as an anomaly then, but three years later the phenomenon appears to be widening. The Democrats’ loss of Hispanic voters shows up repeatedly in surveys, and stories over and over now show Trump making gains beyond statistical error with black men in particular, as much as 18% according to a recent Reuters/IPSOS poll. It’s becoming a harder issue to hide, with people like Ice Cube talking about finding “another dancing partner”:
The data journalism reaction to all alarming polls has mostly been to dismiss them as meaningless, because “at this point voters haven’t given much thought yet” to things. Also, poll-watchers are comforted by the fact that 8 in 10 black voters still insist they won’t vote for Trump. This discounts that apathy still may result in minority voters sitting out elections or pulling a lever for Green Party candidate Cornel West, either of which would exacerbate the same isolation problem for the Toff Party. In classic fashion, Democrats have dealt with the West issue in the most insulting and counter-productive manner possible, with Congressional Black Caucus chairman Gregory Meeks for instance scoffing that voters won’t be “hoodwinked by a sideshow.”
More important than the fact of these changes are the reasons. In March the American Enterprise Institute surveyed 6,000 respondents. As noted by political scientist Ruy Teixeira, moderate-to-conservative minorities by wide majorities opposed reallocating police funding, described racism as a problem of individuals as opposed to institutions, and said (by a 70-26 margin) transgender athletes should “only be allowed to play on sports teams that match their birth gender.” The numbers were opposite for college grads, especially white college grads, who for instance agreed racism is “built into our society” by a staggering 82-18 margin. These numbers reveal wildly different worldviews between educational demographics.
Historically aristoricats lose it when their weird affectations outweigh their educational advantages, when they start buggering rare animals or amassing giant hose collections or falling into crackpot cults they then impose on the populace. The American variants already sound like aristocrats (who uses words like deplorable without irony?), and have a habit of believing things ordinary people instinctively find ridiclous. They’re also enamored with the same mystical nonsense that captivated historical predecessors, with rich white co-eds gobbling up Ibram Kendi texts the way guilt-ridden Russian nobles lined up for the purifying touch of Rasputin. Their “experts” even gather in places like Davos to concoct Swiftian parodies of upper-class condescension, like the WEF’s amazing “Let them eat bugs!” plan. On top of everything, they deny a class angle to their problems.
After 2008, when the finance sector bailed itself out and paid for it with the last equity the middle class had saved in their homes, I thought it was only a matter of time before parties broke down and voters re-aligned in the 99%-vs-1% direction the Occupy movement described. We’re here. The phenomenon is obscured by Trumpmania, and the press will try to keep it obscured, but the subtext of Campaign 2024 is already the obvious drift of rich and poor voters in opposite directions, which can’t end well. Isn’t this the “conversation we’re not having” that really matters?
Why aren't we giving Ukraine enough military aid it must have to win its war with Putin's Russia? It was made clear in public, via MSNBC yesterday, by a retired US CIA officer and a representative of a think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, that Ukraine is paying a needlessly high price in terms of dead and wounded soldiers in order to carry on its current counteroffensive. In addition Russia's bloodthirsty Kremlin and tyrant, V. Putin, on Monday carried out another attack on civilians in the city of Pokrovsk, a small city about 30 miles from the eastern battlegrounds. Five men, women and a child were known dead while at least 31 also were wounded.
Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly asked for-but not gotten-aircraft, longer range ground-to-ground missiles, more heavy artillery, ammunition and tanks. Why not? It was repeated yesterday by these two military experts, “The US would not allow its military to fight the war Ukraine is having to fight!”
Frank H. Baumgardner, III
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 9TH AUGUST
Kyiv said it struck a Russian command post on Wednesday in the southern city of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson. The city is located on the Moscow-occupied east bank of the Dnipro River, where Russian state media and military bloggers claimed Ukrainian forces carried out a raid on Tuesday.
Ukraine also shelled Russia's western Belgorod region, leaving one person dead and several wounded, the regional governor said Wednesday.
And two "combat drones" were shot down in Moscow suburbs, the city's mayor said, the latest in a string of Ukrainian drone attack attempts on Russian cities.
At least two people were killed in Russian shelling of the city of Zaporizhzhia in southeast Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said.
RIGHT NOW if you’re a respectable writer and you want to write in the main journals, you talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you have to call it "the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine." It’s a very interesting phrase; it was never used before. You look back, you look at Iraq, which was totally unprovoked, nobody ever called it "the unprovoked invasion of Iraq." In fact I don’t know if the term was ever used — if it was it was very marginal. Now you look it up on Google, and hundreds of thousands of hits. Every article that comes out has to talk about the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Why? Because they know perfectly well it was provoked. That doesn’t justify it, but it was massively provoked.
— Noam Chomsky
MY MUSLIM MAMA’S ENGAGEMENT, 1948
by Marilyn Davin
Selma sat in a corner of the big couch in her parents’ living room, hands folded neatly in her lap. Her father stood in front of her, stern and larger than life.
“If you marry him you can never come back,” he said.
“Yes, Baba,” she said, the earlier triumph of choosing her own husband leaking away. “I understand.” She looked around the large and comfortable room, a testament to her father’s great ambition and wealth. Its colorful pillows, covered in fine silk. The polished copper trays on their carved wooden stands, glowing in the late morning light. Through the open windows she saw the pomegranate and fig trees, ringed with flowers, and instinctively breathed in their scent from the shady courtyard. Her mouth suddenly watered as the smell of lunch - grilled lamb with mint and fat green peppers stuffed with pine nuts and rice - drifted in from the kitchen where the servants were cooking. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, not really, had never even been anywhere else except for a few weeks each summer in her family’s summer house in the mountains. The cool mountain air was always a relief from the stifling summertime city. Would she really never see any of this again? She fought down sudden panic.
“It’s not too late to change your mind, Selma he said, studying her closely, catching the scent of her fear. Your cousin Ahmet wants to marry you. His family is rich. You’ll want for nothing and you’ll always be here in Izmir, close to home.”
Selma frowned at the thought of Ahmet’s flat, empty face. Surely she was destined for something more. She deserved more adventure than the lifetime company of a bland cousin she had shared her childhood toys with. He was more like a brother than a cousin. Certainly nothing like Abe, the handsome military officer she had wanted to marry from the first moment she saw him in this very room. On that day he sat a little awkwardly on the couch where she was sitting today, his pressed uniform and shiny medals reflecting his handsome face. He smiled eagerly, hoping to convince her rich and powerful father that he, a soldier, was worthy of claiming the rest of his daughter’s life. Her father was polite and attentive, the perfect host, an Ottoman gentleman to his core. But she knew what he really thought - that Abe was reaching beyond his grasp by asking his beautiful 19-year-old daughter trade her upper-class comfort for the nomadic austerity of a soldier’s life.
“Where will you live?” her father had asked that night, his famous ice-blue eyes watching Abe over the gold rim of his tea glass. “How will you support Selma?”
“We will live first in Erzurum,” Abe replied, leaning into her father’s space, more of a supplicant than she wanted to see. He could just as easily have said the moon as the name of that remote eastern outpost, little more than a poor backwater pushing hard up against the Iran border. “But of course that will be temporary. As I’m promoted we’ll move to a larger area, maybe even back here to Izmir.”
Now, weeks later, having granted Abe permission to take ownership of his daughter’s life, her father was delivering the last advice he would ever give her. After tomorrow’s wedding, she would belong to another man.
“You’re absolutely sure?” he pressed. “Remember there’s no coming back.”
“I’m sure,” Selma said, sounding more confident than she felt. She reminded herself that she was leaving for the free, modern life of a married woman. She would never become her mother, an Ottoman ghost of a woman who sat endlessly praying in her worn muslin head scarves and downcast eyes. No, never like her mother. Selma would wear what she wanted, walk wherever she pleased, her face open for all the world to see, on the arm of her husband. This was the new Turkish Republic and she was part of it, its proud first generation.
But for today, for this last day, she was still in the old world before her father, who would not forbid her to marry Abe but was still urging her, one last time, to change her mind. He didn’t want her to marry Abe, he thought she was making a mistake. It was bad enough that he was a soldier, little more than a poor bureaucrat in her father’s eyes, but he wasn’t even Turkish. He was Muslim, of course, but his parents had arrived in Turkey on foot from the Caucasus as penniless refugees in the first decade of the last century. Abe and his family had fled a few steps ahead of the revolutionaries, sacrificing gold and gems from their jewelry business piece by irreplaceable piece, bribing their way into Turkey—a backward, almost medieval place in their Russian eyes. Today his parents were penniless, dependent upon Abe and his brother for everything. Selma’s father understood very well that these realities promised a hard, difficult life for his oldest daughter.
Resigned, her father appeared to reach a decision. He considered himself modern enough to allow his daughter to choose her own husband, but he wanted to make sure she understood that she alone would bear its consequences.
“Just so you understand,” he said finally. “After your wedding you may only return to this house as your husband’s wife.”
He put down his tea glass and looked at her searchingly for a moment longer before turning and walking away, leaving her sitting small and alone in a corner of the couch.
* * *
Selma spent most of that long night staring at the ceiling, willing the time to pass. The weight of the old house with its sleeping generations of her family pressed down on her. Close to dawn, she finally slept.
Selma’s mother, her Anne, came to wake her as the house’s first morning sounds came from the kitchen. Selma marveled for the thousandth time at how tiny her mother was, how little space she took up as she perched, light as a bird, on the side of her bed. This morning she looked down at her oldest daughter with great kindness, her wrinkled gray eyes full of love beneath the perfectly tied white head scarf that covered every inch of her long gray hair. She reached under the blanket and took Selma’s hand.
“Today is a very important day for you, Selma,” she said. “By this time tomorrow you will be a married woman and begin a family of your own.”
“I know, Anne,” Selma said, sitting up and putting her arms around her mother. “I’m excited, but I’m scared, too.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Anne said automatically, smoothing her daughter’s dark, tangled hair. “Allah has written this day as your fate. Remember to pray, go to mosque, teach your children and obey your husband. He will be the head of your house now.”
Selma felt a surge of love for her mother, along with a stab of guilt for the many times she had silently judged her for her old-fashioned beliefs, her endless prayers, her veils, and the old-fashioned clothes that looked more like rice sacks than real dresses. And didn’t Atatürk himself, founder of the new Turkish Republic, hero to everyone, say that women were now free to walk anywhere they wanted, without a male relative, their faces uncovered?
“But what if my husband does something wrong?” Selma asked, thinking of the rumors of the mistress her father kept in faraway Istanbul. She had never breathed a word of it to her Anne, of course. The maid who whispered it to her more than a year ago had sworn her to secrecy. But surely such a thing was a sin, wasn’t it?
“Only Allah can judge another’s sins,” Anne replied softly. “Your job now is to obey your husband and follow the holy rules of the Koran.”
Looking suddenly uncomfortable, Anne continued. “It is also my duty as your mother to tell you to never refuse your husband when he wants something from you in bed. Refusing your husband is a sin.”
Selma looked at Anne with surprise. What could her husband possibly want from her in bed? “What do you mean, Anne?” she asked. “What will he want from me?
“He will show you,” her mother said, pulling at her scarf as she rose to go. “Just remember it is a sin to refuse him. Now come have your breakfast so you can get ready for your wedding.”
* * *
Selma sipped her sweet breakfast tea and nibbled at her bread and beyaz peynir in the kitchen. Additional helpers had been added to the regular household staff to prepare for her wedding. A lamb was roasting in the courtyard outside the kitchen door. Two women stood at the stove, one frying rounds of striped eggplant and one adding mint and onion to the simmering pot of pilaf that would fill the peppers, eggplants, cabbage, and zucchini that were being cleaned and seeded at the far end of the long wooden kitchen table. Another woman mashed chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked to softness before dawn, into a paste with garlic, sesame, and lemon in the kitchen’s largest stone mortar and pestle; Selma’s mother’s hummus was famous in the family. Rounds of elastic dough, shiny with olive oil, were topped with the chopped lamb, peppers, and onions that would transform it into lahmajun in the baker’s wood-fired oven down the street. A line of bakers and delivery boys wound around the corner of the house outside the kitchen door, dropping off the few wedding dishes that were not cooked at home: crisp, buttery baklava and kadayif; trays of pita bread, still warm from the oven; cheeses cool in their brined water; bottles of raki to toast the bride and groom. The familiar kitchen had become a kind of bustling mini-city as the hour approached for the afternoon wedding.
“Come, Selma,” her mother said, pulling her gently from the kitchen. “It’s time for you to get ready.” They walked hand in hand to her mother’s room, where Selma’s favorite maid Ayshe was waiting for her.
“Come, child,” Ayshe said, her kind, familiar eyes crinkling at the corners like they always did when she smiled. “Today you will be a beautiful bride, the most beautiful woman in the room.” She gently pulled Selma’s gown over her head and wrapped her in a thick white cotton towel before leading her over to the bath, already drawn and waiting for her. It smelled like roses, Selma’s favorite scent, and she deeply inhaled its sweet, steamy fragrance. She sank gratefully into the hot water, stretching her legs out nearly to the end of the huge enameled iron tub. Ayshe washed her carefully from ears to toes. “You must be soft and fragrant for your husband tonight,” Ayshe said as she scrubbed her warm, pink skin with a rough cloth. “And remember not to scream when you’re in bed with him.”
“Why would I scream, what’s he going to do to me?” Selma asked, suddenly afraid. “Why would he want to hurt me?”
“Ah, child, he doesn’t want to hurt you, he only wants to please himself, just as all men do. You will get used to it, but the first time always hurts. It’s a woman’s fate. Your husband will show you what to do.”
Climbing out of the bath, Selma tried to push this puzzling advice out of her mind. Ayshe began to work on her long, chestnut hair, pulling out the tangles with a wide wooden comb. When all the tangles were gone she gathered her hair into two wide rolls and twisted them together into an elaborate knot at the back of her head. Then she pulled over a tray covered with powders, tubes, and brushes. It would be the first time that make-up touched Selma’s smooth olive skin.
“Ayshe, the powder stings my eyes,” Selma complained. “Why do I have to wear it?”
“Hush, Selma,” she said. “After today you will be a married woman. You will no longer be able to complain about uncomfortable things like a child.” Selma sank lower into the chair with a resigned air as Ayshe carefully lined her lips with the scarlet lipstick that was all the rage since the end of the war. Looking in the mirror, she was startled by the grown-up-looking stranger staring back at her.
Next came the dress, creamy white silk with puffed sleeves and tiny pearls sewn into the collar and bodice. Then finally the matching shoes, simple soft leather with low heels.
“Ah, you look like an angel,” Ayshe said. Let me get your Anne. She stepped quickly into the hall, returning moments later with Selma’s mother, now dressed in a new, perfectly pressed and folded headscarf and loose, long-sleeved shirt over pantaloons and delicate, embroidered slippers with pointed toes. Anne caught her breath when she saw her daughter, now looking every inch the married woman she would soon become.
“You look like a princess,” she said, slowly turning Selma around in a circle to admire her from every angle. “May Allah bless your new home and grant you healthy children. Now come, it’s time for you to serve tea to your new family, your husband’s family.”
Selma followed her diminutive mother down the dark hallway to the house’s main salon, taking small, careful steps in her new shoes. As she entered the bright afternoon light of the salon, she saw Abe’s mother, father, and brother pressed together on the low couch reserved for honored guests. They looked very foreign beside Selma’s devout, modestly dressed Turkish family: Abe’s mother wore nylon stockings and high heels, and her face was pasty with thick make-up. Though the women in Selma’s family were no longer veiled, they still looked old-fashioned alongside such modern, immodest female fashion; Selma’s traditional family was still in its cultural transition from the Ottoman Empire to the newly created modern republic.
Selma’s many siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins sat on brightly colored couches and soft, stuffed chairs around the rest of the large, sunny room. Selma tried to imagine what life would be like in a family as tiny as her new husband’s: just three people, soon to be four with her. Her own extended family filled every room in her father’s big, rambling house, and on holidays it seemed to scarcely contain them all.
Selma’s first official duty was to serve tea and sweets to her husband’s family. She walked across the thick carpets, carefully stepping over the tasseled edges she had tripped over so many times as a child. She gripped the sides of the polished copper tray and kept it as level as possible to make sure the tea didn’t slosh out of the delicate etched tea glasses. She served Abe’s mother first before serving his father, his brother, and, finally Abe himself, whose approving eyes reflected a strangely intense yearning. Each took a tea glass with its saucer and Selma used tiny silver tongs to grasp sugar cubes for them from a gold-rimmed glass bowl. She gave each a spotless embroidered napkin and dessert plate before, balancing the wide copper tray on her left hand. She put several pastries on each: buttery baklava, sticky in its rose-water syrup, brightly colored lokum under its powdered sugar dusting, cookies decorated with almonds and pine nuts, and cubes of sweet semolina, cut into perfect diamonds. She served her own parents and grandparents last. When her new family and her own parents had all been served, Selma quietly sat down with her parents as the women in her family rose to serve the other visitors in the room.
The next hour seemed interminable as her parents made small talk with Abe and her future in-laws. Selma saw suddenly that they had nothing in common. Abe’s parents were poor refugees from the Russian Revolution. They had lost their home, their jewelry business, everything they owned, barely escaping with their lives before finally crossing, on foot, penniless and exhausted, the border into Turkey. Abe supported his parents and brother on his meager military pay. His mother, father and brother would continue to live with him when his new bride, his Selma, joined them after the wedding. Selma’s family was rich, supported by her ambitious father’s rice and grain distribution business, housed in vast warehouses throughout the city. They had a summer house in the mountains, servants, and even fame through her father’s heroic military service in the south of Turkey during the First World War. As Selma watched her family, sitting side-by-side in the opulent house of her childhood, a tiny seed of how different her life would become germinated and took root in her heart.