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Graffiti, Ukiah’s Growth Industry

One of the biggest mistakes Ukiah makes, and has been making for decades, is allowing graffiti to deface streets and buildings. 

It’s as if our leaders appreciate graffiti, admire the stuff, encourage young vandals to make the city uglier, and offer monthly cash prizes for the worst examples. 

Graffiti is contagious. The more gang-inspired rubbish permitted, the more produced. The city ought not stand aside idle and helpless as the scourge spreads. 

Spray tagging is hostile taunting, not Egyptian hieroglyphics. Punks that deface local businesses and civic areas should be made to clean up their vandalizations, with their own tongues if necessary. 

One successful law enforcement strategy is to target “minor” crimes. Pluck the low-hanging fruit because it often contains rot, worms and maggots. 

Similarly, cops should not allow minor offenses to go uninvestigated. A smalltime criminal is a criminal nonetheless. A guy committing a minor offense is also a guy with outstanding warrants carrying drugs in one pocket, a knife in another, with a pistol tucked in waistband. Put him out of business. 

Nor can Ukiah allow abandoned buildings to sit empty and do nothing but deteriorate and accumulate nothing but broken windows and graffiti. The message becomes clear: No one cares about this neighborhood. Soon enough it gets a reputation, and drugs and vandals are next. 

Allow decay to flourish and the assumption is that punks and gangs are in control of that part of town; in Ukiah —that part of town— is rapidly spreading. What to do? 

Have the punks clean their messes up, and make it stick by having it ordered by the courts and supervised by the Probation Department. Next, have teens interested in a career in law enforcement spend two school mornings a week cleaning things up in return for class credits. 

Don’t let graffiti and other quality of life crimes flourish; we already have the Burning Bridges Homeless Headquarters on South State Street leading the way in destroying Ukiah.

Vroom Vroom! 

My favorite weekend summer sounds are the roars, tire screeches and throttled-down turns that come Friday and Saturday nights from the Fairgrounds. I sit on my back deck and smile at their robust power half a mile away. 

It’s so retro I can hardly stand it. When I think of local heroes who once gunned their engines and spent the next few miles making left-hand turns around the Ukiah Speedway I think about their history. 

If we can make a museum exhibit out of a handful of hippies who washed up here in the 1970s, why no tribute to the old gas-hounds who have been thrilling Ukiah crowds since the 1930s? 

Go ahead, call Sandy MacNab and Bob Neilson and get some tips, pointers, photos and assistance in assembling fitting displays to the notorious legends, some still alive, and put on a Grace Hudson Museum show. 

For a soundtrack, record 15 minutes of tire-screeching action from any Friday race.

Swimmers At Risk?

Ukiah schools are getting walled off, fenced in, and given the illusion something is being done about the non-issue of mass shootings at schools. 

The shooting hysteria is mostly a product of dishonest media cooking the statistics and calling the resulting numbers “an epidemic.” 

In the past decade an average of 10 students have been killed per year nationwide out of more than 50 million students. During the same stretch hundreds of kids have drowned in swimming pools. (In Ukiah, a youngster drowned at the Todd Grove Park pool a few years ago despite being surrounded by teachers and assistants; I best remember a young DJ as a promising Pony League lefthand hitter and first baseman.) There have been zero shootings. 

We need flotation devices and lifeguards more than we need fencing and security guards.

Backyard Butterflies

The pair of Swallowtail butterflies flitting about our backyard reappeared a month or more ago, much to our delight. 

It started 20-plus years ago when we kept noticing two Swallowtails twirling and dancing about our semi-neglected property that includes a tree called a butterfly bush. It has longish branches, purplish flowers and a pair of butterflies who dip, dive and hover around it all day long. 

Every year I wonder if, 20 years on, it’s the same two. Not likely, but then how probable is it that whenever one pair vacates the yard two more show up right on time to take over the assignment? 

Equally unlikely, but I’d love to hear a better explanation.


  1. Scott Ward August 12, 2023

    When I worked for the city of Healdsburg as building official, I was also in charge of code enforcement. During my fifteen year tenure I was fortunate to have had a supportive and proactive city council, whose members included State Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood. The city council adopted a very effective graffiti ordinance. I recommend that Ukiah, Fort Bragg and the county, plagiarize the Healdsburg’s graffiti ordinance and adopt it.

  2. michael turner August 13, 2023

    The “non-issue of mass shootings in schools”?

    The AVA is kind of the last stop for impared writers like Kramer and Kunstler.

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