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BREEZY NORTHERLY WINDS and cooler temperatures inland are today as an upper trough moves through. Warmer temperatures and continued breezy conditions are expected Wednesday. Temperatures will be near or below normal through late week. Thereafter, a cold, upper low will dive down from the north, bringing showers and light rainfall and a cooling trend for daytime highs for the interior. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 52F with clear skies this Tuesday morning on the coast. Clear & breezy into Friday where we have a 20% chance of rain, although it looks like most of the rain will be north & east of us currently.
JUST BEFORE NOON on Monday, local firefighters were dispatched to a reported forklift fire on Highway 253 not far up from the corners, the junction of Highway 128 and 253. Dubbed the “soda fire,” the fire was extinguished by responding crews before it had spread much into nearby grass and before it reached a nearby fuel tank.
MAC DISSOLVEMENT UPDATE
by Jim Shields
Since last Thursday I’ve been working in front of and behind the curtain trying to get this MAC “dissolvement” snafu un-snafued. Others have been working with me along the same lines.
As I’ve said a couple times in other updates, I think the issue will be resolved but we won’t know for sure until Tuesday’s meeting when the vote occurs. And it may not even happen then as it could always be continued for one reason or another.
I’m sure most of you have figured out that once again County officials have created a problem where there was none with this red herring of citizen committee “dissolvement.” This is just a thinly veiled, all-out assault on public participation in the local government process. It goes to the heart and soul of participatory democracy.
For the past 18 months we’ve heard from county seat officials that the County is broke but they don’t quite know how that happened.
But what they are certain of is that by “dissolving” upwards of 29 citizen committees, including all six of the existing Municipal Advisory Councils (“MACs”) located in Gualala, Hopland, Laytonville, Redwood Valley, Round Valley, and Westport, is absolutely necessary to address a “structural deficit that is projected to grow to more than ten million dollars ($10,000,000) in fiscal year 24/25, at which would deplete most of the remaining reserves. As such, the Board has undertaken a larger effort to reduce expenses related to nonessential operations. As part of that process, the Executive Office and County Counsel have worked with departments to identify existing boards, committees, commissions, and advisory bodies (collectively “Committees”) that are not required by statute, citizen’s initiative, or other law … Per the included fiscal analysis, the Executive Office has calculated the annual costs of operating the identified committees at $921,020.66. True costs are likely much higher, but significantly more difficult to calculate.”
It should be noted the annual budget for all six MACs is a combined total of $17,500. For some unknown reason, the Gualala MAC is allocated $5,000, while the remaining five MACs are budgeted at $2,500, each. I can tell you that the Laytonville MAC, on which I serve as chairman, has not spent a dime of our annual $2,500 allocation in the past four years. And going all the way back to 1997, when I founded the Laytonville MAC, and it was legally created by statutory resolution of the BOS, we’ve only submitted expense reimbursement for several hundreds of dollars.
And here’s the kicker. For many of the 26 years of our existence, we weren’t even funded by the County, we operated on our own, just like we always have. The same was true for the Gualala MAC, as for many years we were the only two MACs in the county.
Back in the mid-1990s, the first two Municipal Advisory Councils (MAC), Laytonville and Gualala, were approved in Mendocino County by the Board of Supervisors. I organized the greater Laytonville area and founded the Laytonville MAC. I also worked with and was supported by the folks in Gualala who founded their MAC while Laytonville was processing our application before the BOS.
Here’s the history on MAC funding. According to a February 28, 1997 report in the Mendocino County Observer regarding the BOS approving the resolution creating the Laytonville MAC, “Regarding council elections, the Board cited fiscal constraints as the MAC has no authority to raise revenues through taxation, so it would have to rely on the County’s general fund to pay for elections. County officials estimated that anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 would be expended on council elections. Supervisor Charles Peterson, whose 5th District is home to the Gualala MAC, pointed out that the Gualala Council would almost certainly request council elections (members are currently appointed by the Supes) if it were granted to Laytonville. Likewise, the Board was not willing to commit the County to funding the operations of the MAC given the precariousness of the County’s budget. First District Supe Mike Delbar fretted that a County-funded Laytonville area MAC could prompt the formation of as many as five councils in his district, all clamoring for County money.”
So the bottom line is the County is planning to terminate all six MACs to save $17,500, which is probably not being expended by the MACs in the first place. But in any event, here’s the deal for County officials. Since they’re convinced the County will topple off the fiscal cliff unless the $17,500 is eliminated, go ahead and defund the MACs. We don’t need the money to operate anyway. We’ll get by, believe me.
This offer will smoke the County out because some of us believe this whole issue concerning the MACs has absolutely nothing to do with fiscal matters but everything to do with politics and governing matters. They do not want citizens of this county having an official, legally established channel to voice their concerns, recommendations, and general input on local governing and political affairs. Which is the whole purpose of the MAC statute, California Government Code Section 31010.
Originally enacted in 1971, the MAC statute is unique in several respects.
In its brevity, a mere 287 words, it is believed to be one of the shortest laws ever enacted in California history.
As I’ve said and written may times before, clearly, the MAC statute creates a special relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the MAC. It creates an even closer relationship between the MAC and the supervisor in whose district the MAC is located. The relationship between a MAC and its district supervisor and the BOS is fundamental to its effectiveness.
In an organizational construct and jurisdictional sense, the MAC is aligned under the BOS because it is a legal entity of the Board of Supervisors established by the enabling resolution.
There are many advantages resulting from MAC process inuring to the BOS, the individual supervisor, and the community represented by the MAC. For example,
• A MAC gives a community an officially recognized voice with public officials and agencies.
• A MAC can address controversial issues in the community and arrive at an accepted position, which it reports to its district supervisor, who in turn reports it to BOS colleagues. Without an intermediary, the supervisor must effect compromises or decide between opposing positions when an unincorporated community is divided about county policy.
• A MAC can do the local public relations work that earns support for county proposals; or, in the alternative, demonstrate to the BOS that the proposals have no or little support in the community.
• A MAC can save paid county staff time by stimulating volunteer service and by providing information to the supervisor, county departments and administrators.
• A MAC gives a community an opportunity to address public policy concerns and to develop coordinated planning.
• A MAC can train community leaders in local governance and build familiarity with how county government operates.
There’s a lot more I could say but I’ll conclude with this.
What’s really happening here is that County officials are planning to terminate MACs, and then tell us we can replace them with non-profits, which of course, have no legal standing in the local government process.
That’s exactly why state legislators in 1971 crafted the MAC statute. It codified public participation in the governing process.
Now we have some County officials who are substituting their judgment in place of the 1971 lawmakers who created the MAC statute.
Whose judgment do you trust?
Yes, the executive office and county counsel are bringing forward an agenda item recommending dissolution of all the MAC’s along with a few committee’s claiming they will save money. County counsel also believes the committee’s expose the county to liability by the possibility of the members violating the Brown Act.
First off, the staff report shows the direct costs of committees that will be kept and cut. One committee’s tasks, the Historical Review Board, will be handed over to the Planning Commission. So the Planning Commission will now have either longer meetings or more meetings. It doesn’t seem like this will save money.
Second, there is a page of the report showing the staff time attributed to committee’s but it isn’t broken down by cost of each committee, it’s for all committee’s. Planning and Building has the most staff time, likely attributed to the Planning Commission and other committee’s not on the chopping block. So there won’t be much savings in reduced staff time.
Adding up the Fish and Game Commission, the Archaeological Commission, Climate Action Committee, and all the MACs, the savings would be $139,748.67. This assumes that all the MAC’s spend every penny available to them which they don’t. The Hopland and Laytonville MAC’s take $0 from the county so $5,000 can be deducted from that total.
As for Brown Act compliance, the MAC members have to fill out 700’s to file with the county. We are required to take Brown Act trainings every other year. We don’t directly affect policy any more than a member of the community does talking to their supervisor. What we do is offer a monthly scheduled townhall in our communities where people can come to get updates from their supervisor, sheriff, fire department, water issues, etc. It’s a good, convenient way to do a “pulse check” on our communities. MAC’s were created as “an experiment in community participation” in the 1960’s. Why would anyone want to limit community participation in the unincorporated areas of our county? We deserve to have our voices heard.
If the BOS is serious about saving money, they should consider reducing salary’s of the entire unrepresented bargaining unit that they are in. This includes every department head, elected official, and deputy directors. In total, these salaries equate to roughly $10 million. a 10% salary cut across the entire bargaining until would save the County $1 million. This should be done at least temporarily to share the pain and stand in solidarity with SEIU 1021 until they can offer a reasonable COLA.
‘MORE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION, NOT LESS’: One Resident Denounces Mendocino County’s Proposal to Eliminate Municipal Advisory Committees
As a long-time member and founding Chair of the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), I wish to state my opposition to staff’s proposed dissolution of these Councils. First, I was quite surprised that no one, apparently, contacted any MAC members to discuss this proposal. That level of discourtesy is, unfortunately, in line with some recent actions taken by this Board and County staff, and it doesn’t enhance your reputations.
The proposal cites budget savings as the primary reason for this unexpected recommendation. I can’t speak to the various other entities’ activities besides the 6 MACs, but it is notable that the MACs represent at most less than .02% (two hundreths) of the budget savings cited by the County in this proposal (and that is just the years when ALL 6 MACs spend all their allocated budgets, which does not occur). All MAC members volunteer our TIME and RESOURCES.
Staff’s report mentioned not a word of the VALUE of the MACs, both as stated in State law (Ca. Govt. Code 31010, 1971) and in the practices of the MACs in Mendocino County. As required by State statute, we serve in liaison roles for county and other local government agencies. We provide a local, recognized forum for community input, as well as an efficient opportunity for the County, Sheriff, CalTrans, CalFire, Fire and Water Districts, the Community Foundation, and other public interest groups to get their own messages out to our community, and to hear back from our community. We have been grateful for the active participation of our Supervisors (Carre Brown and Glenn McGourty), Sheriffs and their deputies, and so many other agencies who keep us informed, answer constituent questions and help explain the whys and wherefores of many local government activities that would otherwise not be clear to their, and YOUR, constituents. In this, we save you much time and effort.
After the 2017 catastrophic fires which killed 9 of our residents in Redwood Valley, Darcie Antle and other County staff used the MAC’s liaison role to share vital information about disaster recovery, and we helped put local and state staff in touch with other resources like the Redwood Valley Grange and local community members. Our members helped put representatives from non-governmental organizations in touch with resources and individuals who needed or provided assistance. We helped identify valuable uses for State and Federal reimbursement for the disaster, ensuring that a modicum of the over $16,000,000 in funding would actually be directed to Redwood Valley. The County staff may not have viewed this as beneficial, as the bulk of the funding went to County-wide uses, but the new fire apparatus, support for the water district, and the backbone for a new emergency siren warning system came from these vital funds. These items in particular seem even more important now, after recent events in Hawaii.
The MAC has been instrumental in connecting people in Redwood Valley, in augmenting a sense of community and cooperation. I’m sure this is true for the other MACs as well. An informed citizenry is vital for a healthy society. Nothing is more important, in this difficult age of divisiveness than bringing people together under a common purpose, and in ensuring that diversity is supported. This is a benefit unmeasured by County Staff, but it goes a long way toward ensuring that response to future challenges and emergencies will be better anticipated and coordinated. You can’t buy that.
Furthermore, as the County looks to balance its books, as many and such as they are, it strikes me that the most simplistic approach is to propose spending cuts. But the budget is more than spending. How about spending more time enhancing REVENUE? We may be in a singularly opportune time to go after pots of State and Federal funds. Even one-time expenditures from grants could perhaps fund temporary expertise to address upgrading online systems; aerial reconnaissance to identify buildings not on the tax rolls; pursuing more accurate data for the Supplemental Tax roll and tracking payments of back taxes; temporary CPA assistance to untangle the books; and one-time upgrades to infrastructure systems like roads, wells, and water storage. Have such opportunities been exhausted, or are current staff too overwhelmed with excess work?
This is precisely the moment that calls for MORE citizen participation, not less. The very people you’re proposing to cut from volunteer boards and committees are often the ones who, like myself, volunteer for multiple organizations working for free for the public good. We’re overwhelmingly the ones with time and opportunity to give back to our communities. And when you’re looking at revenue, how about considering that we are also the ones fortunate enough to pay our property taxes on time, shop locally, and thus support your salaries and the workings of this County government. This little county boasts some of the most creative, well-educated and experienced folks I’ve ever had the privilege to live among. Bring OUR RESIDENTS in to help solve your problems. The best democracies, like Switzerland or even America when we’re not busy arguing with each other, are noisy, messy, and sometimes take longer to solve a problem. But in the end, we CAN find consensus. We don’t have to shoot down airplanes like they do in non-democratic countries to silence people of differing views. So let’s work together.
— Chris Boyd, Redwood Valley MAC Board Member
GREAT DAY IN ELK 2023
by Anne Fashauer
The Great Day in Elk was this past Saturday. My granddaughter and her parents came up for the event, her first Great Day. It was a really fun day and I think she enjoyed herself immensely. I missed the first post-Covid event last year due to a conflict with another event but this year we all got to go.
We made it to Elk in time to find good parking and then walk down to see the parade. The parade was longer than the 5 minutes it has sometimes been; partly this was because of a VERY slow walking “Captain Cat” with the CalFire crew - not only did he stop for lots of photos, he just walked super slowly. But overall, there were more entries and therefore more things to see. Besides the requisite fire trucks, there was the Grand Marshall Judy Bonney, a group of kids on bicycles and one on a unicycle, a boat full of pirates, the Beach Barbies, groups from the Greenwood School and the Mendocino Cardinals, plus representatives from the Mendocino Film Festival, Marine Mammal Rescue, the Matson Mercantile, all followed up by the Greenwood Civic Club’s caboose.
The grounds of the Community Center were packed, both with attendees and with things to do. There was the lunch of tamales, the sweet shack with scrumptious goodies, the t-shirt and other swag sales, the soup and foccacia stand, the hot dogs, the silent auction, the beer/wine and margarita sales, plus a huge area for the kids, including crafts and games. Finally, the stage with live entertainment and later in the afternoon, the cake auction.
We got ourselves some of the delicious tamales and then headed to the kid area where our granddaughter immersed herself in everything from having a unicorn painted on her face to making clay sculptures and paper crowns. We perused the silent auction and placed a few bids (but didn’t end up “winning” anything) and then joined a group from Boonville for the cake auction.
The cake auction turned out to be the highlight of the day. Two cakes apparently set records, one made by Ellen Saxe Karish and the other by Yarrow Rubin, both selling for over $1,000. The first cake, Ellen’s, was fought over by the Boonville group vs. the Elk contingent, with Elk ultimately winning. The second cake, Yarrow’s, saw another round of hot competition, with the Boonville group ultimately victorious.
Once the cake auction was over the crowd thinned considerably, and by 4:30 PM we were on our way home, happy but tired from another Great Day in Elk.
(Lots more pics at: www.mendocountry.org.)
R.D. BEACON REPORTS on The Great Day In Elk:
As I reflect on yesterday's event, the great day in elk, and the parade that I attended in the command vehicle and fire truck, as always this organization prevailed for the parade. The grand Marshall led the whole operation, which was Judy Gates sitting in the back of a pickup truck, the far tail of the parade saw that the organizers were having a hard time trying to figure out what to stick in the road next, in other words just like prior years a large gap between entries, in a parade that gave nothing in return of the depreciation of an audience, I have said for many years, they need to give up participation ribbon or at least some acknowledgment, the people who come so far to get nothing in return, as we move forward into Sunday and rest from the big event, I was drifting through information of the World Wide Web, found the town of elk has a website, it looks nice, but the comments are right there with most, hardly any troops about the community dimension in a few words, but Bridgeport landing, as being a part of the original town not true, Bridgeport landing is South about 5 miles of the town of what we used to call Greenwood, it's called elk out in major league history, dissertation that the town had about 2500 people in the old days 1890 another bad statement by somebody who obviously doesn't know anything about the history of the village, how come people come to the town the neighborhood, and writes its bad stuff about town is the timber industry's history, and the people who come here to take over community give really nothing to begin with, most of them are running away from the cities large populated areas to find someplace, quiet with a can get away with breaking the law and nobody will notice, up and down the coast over the years before the marijuana was legal just about every canyon, and every water source and then moved around, for the desires of the newcomers can make up fat living, off the backs of the old-timers and their properties, in the little community of elk, did a great day they'll was basically started out five people that were a little bit bored, waiting for the oasis open up one of the local bars in the neighborhood, although today they don't even remember why the great Gandalf really exists, but it's part of the travesty that the locals who created the new locals not the old ones that failed to notice that all of the old-timers are the ones that were responsible for building and paying for community center firehouse newcomers, named after people just blew into town, hanging names on the inside the building, the people who really work here to raise the money to build the property up to what it is today, even when the sawmill was running across the street from the store, there was only 197 people, with the town elevation of 140 feet, for anybody it would be a stretch to say there's 200 people who actually live in the town, but nowhere do they mention the founding fathers or why the town was named Greenwood, or who replace the wood and water lines in favor of a bit newer distribution system, the people of moved into the community are against the loggers, and the timber people in general, their anti-subdivision, what new homes built here, they don't want any new industry, and what a whore that all of themselves, 50 original citizens to the curb, and the new folks when they first came here to raise their marijuana, that are still here even though now California there is some legality wrapped around it, even though today the federal code since it still against the law, these are the nice environmental people that would be caught, into the environment which killed off all the fish, as it rolled into the streams, these newcomers are the ones that actually decimated and destroyed the living environment in the neighborhood, and following them were the cartel, groups continuing to grow the weed and kicking landowners the curb, if not shooting at them to get in the way, the marijuana books plant, is responsible in part or in whole for corrupting, many of our young people encouraging them to go to harder drugs, spiraling their lives down the toilet, the bulk of the new people who moved here, to live off the welfare system squirting out more kids so we the taxpayers, it paid for it contributed little or nothing to the community will accept bad press, and bad manners, there's many people that would object greatly to my comments, but trouble with me the truth will set you free, what cost to the coast have to pay for new people moving to it, it wouldn't be bad if they held down real jobs, contributed greatly to the counties expansion and growth and stay out of local politics, I guess in my opinion the government were to do away with the welfare system, we would see a great exodus of individuals leaving our County for no more free ride, maybe that's what needs to happen.
MENDOCINO COUNTY WORKERS WILL BE RALLYING at the Board of Supervisors meeting this morning to defend County services.
For the past five months, the County Administration has refused to bargain in good faith with its employees — all while staffing levels continue to hemorrhage. Fighting for the community's access to road crews, public health nurses, children's social workers, and other vital County services, County workers feel that the situation has become untenable. Last month, County workers voted to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike, should a strike become necessary. The strike authorization vote passed overwhelmingly, with 92.4% voting yes.
What: County workers rally, give speeches
When: Tuesday, August 29th, starting at 8:45 AM
Where: 501 Low Gap Rd, Ukiah, CA 95482
Visuals: County workers wearing purple union shirts, chanting
Despite a staffing crisis that is threatening the safety of Mendocino's families — and amidst rumblings of a potential strike — the County has continued to bargain in bad faith. The County has proposed a wage freeze and dramatic increases in monthly employee health insurance premiums — increases in monthly employee premiums upward of 65% in some cases. The County's proposals would continue to exacerbate the exodus of County employees leaving for jobs in surrounding counties and industries, while making the County's recruitment even harder.
Ultimately, the County's proposals would result in even higher vacancy rates, reduced services, slower response times, and more of the County's children and elderly becoming at risk.
The Board of Supervisors and the CEO's office have struggled for months to get a clear handle on the County's finances, pleading ignorance about the County's actual financial position. At the same time, the County has made the specious claim that they have a structural deficit of $11 million. In reality, total revenue for Mendocino County has increased 44.8% since 2019-2020. Since 2015, Mendocino County has regularly and significantly under-projected its tax revenue, missing the mark by anywhere between $1.3 to $10.3 Million dollars.
“County employees need to see that the Board and the Administration have their backs,” said SEIU 1021 Mendocino County Chapter President Julie Beardsley, a senior public health analyst for the county. “We love the work we do, but it is becoming harder and harder to make ends meet. When we see other counties moving ahead and Mendocino County remains mired in dysfunction, it can be disheartening.”
Mendocino County has a county-wide vacancy rate of 29%. Among the critical staffing shortages jeopardizing the health, safety, and well-being of county residents, including the most vulnerable, are:
A nearly 40% vacancy rate in Family & Children’s Services — putting at-risk kids in danger;
A 44% vacancy rate in Department of Transportation road crews, meaning our roads don’t get paved or repaired in a timely manner;
A 47% vacancy rate for public health nurses, putting our low-income and elderly populations at risk; and
A 70% vacancy rate for mental health clinicians.
(SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.)
PANTHER SOCCER TEAM CONDUCT
WE ARE HAVING SOME really poor conduct from our soccer team. John and I will meet tomorrow with players for one final warning and a written agreement. If you notice any misconduct, please let me know asap. I don't know what happened, whether it was Covid or what, but the disrespect and inappropriateness on this team is profound and is not found on our other teams. It won't be tolerated. If we end the season, we end the season. Louise Simson, Superintendent. AV Unified School District.
THE SUPERINTENDENT convened a meeting Monday with the soccer team and separately with Coach Torales. “All of the students, but one who was absent, signed the contract and are completely aware of the expected conduct. Hopefully, they got the message. If not, we will make some changes.”
THREE ON-LINE COMMENTS.
 I helped coach K8 (middle school) soccer in Mendocino the past few seasons. We had some pretty ugly interactions with the AV middle school team two years ago. Basically a lot of taunting and nastiness from them when they beat us soundly.
This past season we turned the tables on them. We had one player score six goals in 10 minutes against AV. And their attitude changed dramatically. They were humble and even complimentary.
 I know nothing about the issues but when this happens on a sports team it’s also happening at school and all areas of their life. Taking away sports from misguided young kids will unfortunately make matters worse. Hope they get things under control and I’m sure John will set things straight. A coaching change may be necessary.
 I get that taking sports away is not the answer. I also get that moral character begins at home. If kids had more guidance from their parents, the Superintendent would not have to get involved.
It all starts and stops at home. Having raised two sons who grew to become good men, I know it is possible.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: The restaurant owner whose battle with a Kansas newspaper led to a viral raid has broken her silence to reveal the hate mail she's received blaming her for the death of the publication's 98-year-old owner. Kari Newell, 46, cried as she recalled how her intervention at a Marion City Council meeting on August 7 led to the raid that some have blamed for the death of Marion County Record co-owner Joan Meyer.
Speaking to The Kansas City Star, Ms. Newell shared her belief that Phyllis Zorn, a reporter for the paper, had illegally accessed information about her DUI charge from 2018 that showed she had been driving without a valid driver's license for 15 years. Which is a matter of public record. Marion City's 5-man police force raided the newspaper and home of the elderly co-owner of the paper, probably hastening her death.
PROSTITUTION was once secure in the affections of Mendocino County’s male population who passed many happy hours in palaces of joy wherever there were enough customers for a madam and her consignment of relief workers to light a red lamp in the window. There’s even a fond plaque on a Ukiah street memorializing a maison de societe presided over by a famous woman known as “Madge.” In Boontling, Anderson Valley’s clever little lingo devised in the early part of this century by isolated rustics to both amuse themselves and talk in code about outsiders, a “madge house” is a brothel. A lonely man heading off on horseback for Ukiah from Boonville on a Saturday was assumed to be “madgin’ to uke” — going to Ukiah to spend an evening at Madge’s. In the days of true common sense, America understood that brothels served a crucial social function in preserving otherwise frigid marriages and in eliminating most sex crime because there were quasi-legal pleasure palaces where the great beast of male sexuality could be slaked. No more.
BUT THE FORCES of law and order tell me that commercial sex is readily available via cyber-advertising, and out-of-the-area pimps regularly check in to Ukiah motels with their drug dependent captives for sordid assignations with locals.
ARRESTS for hetero prostitution are rare in Mendocino County these days, but occasionally the soliciting statutes are brought down on a hapless male same-sexer, as happened at Lake Mendocino where a gay trysting site has thrived for years.
JUST IN FROM ANN MARIE BORGES:
Excellent News! Both our cases are scheduled for review on September 28, 2023! These cases are entwined and hearing one without the other would have been unfortunate We await the hearing and are so grateful that this conversation is being held at the Federal level!
* * *
The Back Story
Marijuana Mendo — A Cautionary Tale
by Mark Scaramella (August, 2020)
Chris Gurr and Ann Marie Borges don't fit the cliched marijuana profile. They look like what they are, a respectable professional couple who got into the love drug business when cannabis became legal, or quasi-legal. It's the quasi that brought them a world of woe, that patented Mendo woe of incompetence basted in farce.
Gurr and Borges aren't laughing. They have sued, in federal court.
When the couple bought a perfect grow property on the Ukiah end of the Boonville Road they began the local licensing process, a process very much a work in progress with the rules seeming to change every time the county's supervisors met.
As if the rules weren't difficult enough to abide by, the neighbors were hostile. It was as if Gurr and Borges were an armed cartel grow or a gang of transient hippies whose heedless presence was annoying in the multitudinous ways only hippies can manage.
One neighbor was Sue Anzilotti, an non-uniformed employee of the Sheriff's Department.
In March of 2018 Acting Ag Commissioner Diane Curry and pot permit program administrator, since purged, told the Board of Supervisors that as far as she knew “only three” of the 734 pot cultivation applicants had suffered Fish & Wildlife raids — “which is not terrible,” she added.
And right there was one of many traps in the Mendo pot licensing program. Even if the grower did everything possible to comply with the rules, a Fish and Wildlife posse could ride in, pull up your plants and even arrest you.
Ms. Curry's “not terrible” wasn't terrible unless the legal Mendo permit a grower thought he possessed had not been denied but was stashed somewhere in Mendo limbo but suspiciously available to Fish and Wildlife, a famously unaccountable, weaponized state agency whose oversized teams of wardens seem to get big kicks out of raiding pot farmers known to be in the costly, time-consuming licensing process.
Chris Gurr got the full Fish and Wildlife treatment on a hot day in August of 2017 when a Fish & Wildlife contingent appeared on his property. Placing the 61-year-old Gurr in handcuffs and leaving him to spend the next few hours in the full sun the great defenders of Mendocino County's disappeared fish and scarce wildlife cut down all his mature plants and ripped out dozens of other plants in the Gurr-Burgess hoop house. Gurr had shown his authorizing paperwork to the invaders, which they also promptly confiscated.
Mr. Gurr is a former computer business and franchise owner from Atlanta. Ms. Borges is a realtor from Willits but went to school in Altanta where she first met Mr. Gurr.
A Fish and Wildlife spokesman later said the Gurr-Borges 11-acre property was raided because they suspected a well was diverting water from a nearby creek, a common practice by grape growers, but a raidable offense for pot growers.
Fish & Wildlife Department Lt. Chris Stoots said the agency’s Watershed Enforcement Program — tasked to investigate, enforce and remediate environmental damage from cannabis cultivation on private land — had launched the investigation. Stoots said they had to act quickly and in force “when misdemeanors or felonies are committed in the presence of an officer. … The legal status of it or the political opinion of it has nothing to do with the burden people have to (protect) the environment and the fact that they’re obligated to follow environmental laws.”
At that time back in August of 2017, Mendo Ag Commissioner Curry said Gurr and Borges were working with County staff to address the potential water source issue and several other issues, such as greenhouse design. (Improper greenhouse design is not yet a felony as far as we know.) The owners seemed to “want to do whatever needs to be done to be in compliance,” Curry said, adding, “We had done our site inspection and things looked good,” noting the county had also issued a May 4 2017 document stating the status of the Gurr-Borges license. Curry had notified Fish and Wildlife several weeks earlier about the water source question as standard practice and was surprised the agency had raided Mr. Gurr without contacting her department first.
“I’m really concerned,” Curry said. “We want to get people doing the right thing, and if we don’t have support from all these agencies we’re just helping to keep people in the black market and creating all the things people don’t want like health and safety issues and environmental crimes.”
At the October 3, 2017 Board meeting, almost two months after the raid, Curry said she spoke to Fish & Wildlife's boss who told her that “he understood we had denied the application, but that’s not true.”
In fact, Curry and staff were still trying to finish all the unnecessarily complicated permitting paperwork that was required.
No denial had been issued.
The raid was conducted based on an allegation of illegal water diversion, Curry said, and “staff was out there and working with them. It was another surprise as to why that applicant was targeted.”
Ms. Curry, later abruptly ousted as Interim Ag Commissioner in charge of (among other duties) the County’s pot cultivation permit program, was surprised at the raid because in May she had issued Gurr & Borges an “application receipt” which said, in part, that “The garden at this site is considered to be in compliance, or working toward compliance, until such time as a permit is issued or denied.”
But the permit wasn’t given final approval because there were several minor snags in the process that were still unresolved.
On June 19, 2017, Gurr & Borges met with Commissioner Curry to complete an “extinguish and transfer” worksheet related to proving prior cultivation by Ann Marie Borges at a coastal location in the County.
At a June 28, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting, several of Gurr-Borges’s neighbors complained about their grow site, saying that they didn’t like the traffic and associated activities and that there had been no history of pot growing in that area. They also didn’t think prior cultivation on the coast qualified as prior cultivation for Gurr-Borges' inland grow site.
On or about July 26, 2017 Gurr/Borges had hired a hydrologist, Donald G. McEdwards of Willits, to take samples from both the well and the creek in order to perform an extensive hydrology study. The samples were provided to Alpha Labs in Ukiah. Gurr & Borges were told the results would be available on or about August 10, 2017 — the very day of the Fish & Wildlife raid.
From the lawsuit: “On August 10, 2017 at approximately 10:30 a.m. a convoy of CDFW vehicles arrived at Plaintiffs’ property and agents with guns pointed immediately placed the Plaintiffs in handcuffs. Plaintiffs informed Steve White, the CDFW team leader, they had an application receipt from the County and were in full compliance with all County regulations. They also informed him that they were awaiting a report from Alpha Labs for tests of the creek water and the well water. The CDFW team claimed they believed the water was being diverted from the creek and proceeded to cut down and eradicate the plants, i.e., 100 plants growing indoors under a hoop and 171 plants growing outdoors in an approved location of 10,000 square feet. The garden was within County guidelines and took up approximately one quarter acre on the 11-acre farm.”
Rather than verify that the testing results were available that very day, and brandishing their weapons, Fish and Wildlife commenced destruction of the garden.
Gurr and Borges, after having the claim against the County unceremoniously denied, have now sued in federal court.
According to the Gurr-Borges suit, the County’s lead pot permit program architect, Supervisor John McCowen, wanted to modify the ordinance to disqualify Gurr-Borges as applicants by saying prior coastal cultivation didn’t count as prior cultivation.
Gurr-Borges subsequently modified their application, after the raid, to claim prior cultivation in Willits.
But, according to a letter Gurr-Borges got from Harindar Grewal, the Ag Commissioner who replaced Curry, and who was also abruptly fired without explanation and has an unlawful termination suit pending against Mendocino County, that prior Willits grow was in 1986-87.
Commissioner Grewal, using legalistic langauge which Gurr-Borges say was provided to him by County Counsel Matthew Keidrowski, denied the Gurr-Borges application on July 9, 2018, almost a year after the August 2017 raid when Gurr-Borges had been in full compliance with Mendo rules. Grewal/Kiedrowsky said the permit was denied because proof of prior cultivation had to be at the site where the applicant proposed to grow pot — an interpretation which has changed over time and is still in dispute.
From the Gurr-Borges lawsuit: “Because of a recent change to the Ordinance that impacted cultivation of cannabis at coastal zones of the County, on or about August 14, 2017 Plaintiff Ann Marie Borges met with Commissioner Curry and provided proof or prior cultivation from the town of Willits in the County, an area not included in the coastal zone.”
But that was four days after the Fish & Wildlife raid which removed their pot plants.
At the October 2017 meeting of the Supervisors, a month after the raid on Gurr-Borges had become public, several Supervisors and a number of pot growers complained about the raid and wondered why Fish & Wildlife wouldn’t at least check with Mendo to verify the permit application status before a raid.
The Supervisors had assumed, they said, that F&W had promised to check with Mendo before any further raids.
Mendo’s Code enforcement chief Trent Taylor, told the Board that as far as he knew Fish & Wildlife raids are based on calls to the state’s anonymous Cal-Tip line, so that growers with annoyed neighbors, whatever their permit status, are more likely to be raided than totally illegal outback growers who are far from any neighbors. And heavily armed and presenting a far more dangerous raid target for F&W's wannabe commandos than a law-abiding 60-year-old couple not far the pavement of the Boonville Road.
But the lawsuit claims that the “tip” was far from anonymous.
Gurr-Borges say that “false or improper claims and statements made by Mendocino County Sheriff's Department employee Sue Anzillotti, her associates, and other currently unknown Mendocino County officers and employees led to execution of the [Fish & Wildlife] search warrant” issued by a Mendocino County Superior Court judge. “This search resulted in a raid and seizure operations carried out by California Fish and Wildlife agents and employees on August 10, 2017.” (Mendo judges famously issue warrants no questions asked.)
The lawsuit claims that Ms. Anzilotti used her insider law enforcement system access to garner semi-private info about Gurr and Borges, and then conspired with or influenced Deputy County Counsel Matthew Kiedrowski and Supervisor McCowen to manipulate the rules to deny or delay the Gurr-Borges permit.
And, although not stated directly in the suit, the Fish and Wildlife raid may have resulted from the permit’s limbo status.
But Fish and Wildlife never mentioned the Gurr-Borges permit status in their public statements justifying their raid. Instead, they claimed that the raid was conducted because they had that “tip” that Gurr-Borges were illegally taking water from their creek.
The professional hydrologist analyzed the water being used on Gurr-Borges’s pot plants and concluded that they were using well water, not creek water.
* * *
If you’re confused about all of this legalistic posturing, the moving goalposts, and the timing, welcome to the convoluted world of pot permits in Mendocino County.
The Gurr-Borges lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in San Francisco on July 8, of 2020.
They allege that 1) their permit was irrationally and arbitrarily denied because of ill will and malice on the part of Mendocino County, 2) that Mendocino County officials McCowen and Kiedrowski conspired with neighbor Sue Anzilotti (and possibly others) to delay and deny their permit, and 3) because of the actions of Ms. Anzilotti, McCowen and Kiedrowski they were denied due process.
But the lawsuit does not mention Fish and Wildlife, the agency which seems most culpable, nor does it question the basis of the search warrant that Fish and Wildlife applied for and got from a Mendocino County judge.
The lawsuit includes considerable evidence that Gurr-Borges made extensive good faith attempts to obtain a pot permit and that the County should have at least been consulted by Fish and Wildlife before the raid.
But it doesn’t provide much beyond the County’s admittedly suspicious maneuvers to tweak the definition of “prior cultivation” to prove that there was a malicious conspiracy between Anzilotti, Kiedrowski and McCowen which led to the raid.
It’s hard to tell where all this will go, although it's obvious that Gurr-Borges were arbitrarily victimized in police state fashion.
It’s been a long time since Official Mendo has been sued in federal court for a conspiracy to deprive a resident of their civil rights. The last time we recall is when a gay man, Marc Tosca of Ukiah, successfully sued the Sheriff’s department for their laughably bogus raid on his Eagle Springs Ranch property west of Ukiah in late 1998. That one wasn’t settled until four years later in 2002 when the Sheriff’s department was forced to issue a public apology and the County agreed to grade Tosca’s seven-mile ranch access road.
Tosca got his apology, but his road was never graded.
NEW FOOD & DRINK MAGAZINE LAUNCHING IN MENDOCINO & LAKE COUNTIES
Ukiah, CA - August 28, 2023 - Edible Mendocino — Lake Counties, a new food and drink magazine about the people, products, issues, events and businesses that comprise the food and beverage community in both Mendocino and Lake counties, will publish its inaugural issue in early September 2023.
The magazine will include personal stories of local artisans and growers, features about issues that are relevant to the food and beverage industry, recipes that incorporate local ingredients, shopping and dining guides, and occasional special sections related to topics such as weddings, holiday gifts, wellness, travel, and more. Contributors are writers, photographers, designers, cooks and authors who either live locally or are otherwise connected to current issues of interest to residents of and visitors to the area.
Edible Mendocino — Lake Counties is part of the award-winning Edible network of 75+ magazines published around the U.S. and Canada that collectively engage more than 1.4 million readers. The magazine is the 15th Edible title in California, and the eighth in Northern California: its sister publications include Edible Marin — Wine Country, Edible Sacramento, Edible East Bay, Edible San Francisco, Edible Shasta-Butte, Edible Monterey Bay, and Edible Reno-Tahoe.
The publisher and managing editor of Edible Mendocino — Lake Counties, Karen Elowitt, is based in Ukiah and brings 15 years of experience to the role as a food and travel writer, communications professional, and public relations manager.
“I had admired the Edible brand for years, so when I learned a license was available for Mendocino and Lake counties, I jumped at the opportunity,” Elowitt said. “The two counties both have rich traditions of local food and drink, and there is great synergy between them. Of course they each have distinct personalities, but they both share a commitment to — and pride in — the FLOSS concept (fresh, local, organic, sustainable, seasonal). My team and I look forward to exploring all corners of both counties and sharing their stories and culinary treasures with readers.”
Edible Mendocino — Lake Counties will be published in print quarterly — in fall, winter, spring and summer — and online at ediblemendocino.com. It will be distributed for free at over 70 locations throughout both counties, or by subscription for $25 per year.
(For more information contact: Karen Elowitt, Publisher and Managing Editor 707-391-1601 firstname.lastname@example.org)
ADVENTIST HEALTH Mendocino Coast Takes Active Steps to Increase Access to MRI Services Amid National Staffing Shortage
August 28, 2023 (Fort Bragg, CA) — Adventist Health Mendocino Coast is expanding its commitment to radiology services close to home. The local hospital offers a wide range of radiology services including mammography, ultrasound, CT scans, X-rays, and MRI to meet patients’ diagnostic needs.
The ongoing national radiology staffing shortage has significantly impacted healthcare organizations of all shapes and sizes throughout our county and beyond. This nation-wide staffing shortage results from several factors, including increased demand for healthcare services, retirements, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic alone caused 4.4 million healthcare workers to leave their profession last year. While this challenge is not unique to the coastal region, Adventist Health Mendocino Coast faces additional hurdles due to the rural setting and lack of affordable housing.
Despite these challenges, the hospital recently added several new members to its radiology team. “Due to increased staffing, our MRI, ultrasound, and mammography services are now available five days a week and CT and X-ray services are accessible seven days a week with a physician referral. While it may still take time to be seen due to the high demand for these services, our scheduling team is working diligently to accommodate all patients as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding when trying to secure an appointment,” says Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Administrator Judy Leach. Keeping quality care local remains our focus.
Adventist Health is committed to attracting and retaining talented healthcare professionals to ensure high-quality care for the community. It has implemented various strategies to address the staffing shortages, including competitive compensation packages, sign-on bonuses, and professional development opportunities. Creating a supportive work environment and culture is also essential.
Along with recruiting additional staff, the hospital is exploring partnerships with other healthcare organizations. “In cases where we cannot accommodate screenings at our local facility, we will establish referral options throughout the county to ensure patients can still receive the necessary care,” says Hoda Assadian, Adventist Health Operations Executive.
Adventist Health Mendocino Coast also understands the importance of community involvement and support in addressing these challenges. Administrator Judy Leach is thankful for a strong, supportive community. “We appreciate the ongoing efforts of our community to help us attract qualified healthcare professionals and are grateful for the community's understanding and patience as we work diligently to provide the best possible care. We remain passionately committed to the health and well-being of our community.”
Mindy Slaughter,Marketing and Communications Manager
Adventist Health Mendocino Coast
700 River Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
C: 707-272-2624 | AdventistHealthMendocinoCoast.org
GASP GRANTS for Artists & Schools Available for the 2023-24 School Year
The Arts Council of Mendocino County is pleased to announce the Get Arts in the Schools Program (GASP) grant opportunity. GASP is a public/private arts education partnership that funds professional artist workshops and live performances in Mendocino County schools during the school year. The goal of the program is to infuse the arts in the core curriculum and to deliver quality, educational, curriculum-based artistic enrichment in K-12 classrooms throughout Mendocino County. Core program funding is made possible by the Mendocino County Office of Education.
Artists: To be eligible to receive a GASP grant, an artist must: be a professional in their art field, have prior experience presenting an art program or project in a classroom setting, reside in Mendocino County, and be a current member of Arts Council of Mendocino County. Artists who meet all four of the qualifying criteria should submit an application packet to the Arts Council of Mendocino County by the application deadline of November 1, 2023. Grant guidelines and application materials are available at www.ArtsMendocino.org <http://www.artsmendocino.org/>. New Artists are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposed projects with Arts Council staff prior to applying. A limited amount of funding is available to support mentorships for artists who lack experience teaching in the schools and yet meet all other eligibility requirements.
Schools: In order to be eligible for a GASP grant, a school or after-school program must be serviced by MCOE (private schools are currently ineligible.
Artists and schools will be notified of their awards by late November.
Further information about the program can be found on the Arts Council’s website at artsmendocino.org/programs/get-arts-in-the-schools-program-gasp/
Alyssum Wier, Executive Director
Arts Council of Mendocino County
309 East Perkins Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, August 28, 2023
ALBERTO ALDACO, Fort Bragg. DUI, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER ASHURST, Ukiah. Narcotics for sale, under influence, no license.
ERNEST ELLIOTT SR., Hopland. Attempted murder, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, serious felony with prior, use of weapon.
HEATHER HAND, Redwood Valley. Narcotics for sale, paraphernalia.
ANTHONY KOCHIE JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, disorderly conduct-under influence.
JEREMIAH RAY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ANDRES REY, Ukiah. Suspended license.
NICHOLAS SCARBERRY, Laytonville. Destroying or concealing documentary evidence, bring controlled substance into prison, possession, under influence.
THOMAS WELBORN, Guerneville/Ukiah. DUI.
Las Vegas visit, San Fran home…
A family member long-based there had us out for a couple of days in Las Vegas. Despite his driving us thru a Hurricane heading into Barstow - ostensibly to save 1.5 hours off our drive the following morning - we had a good time. It was nice to quit this tiny, isolated, fog frozen peninsula jutting into the ocean where intimating that you have conservative opinions gets you ripped apart, called “Trump” or worse...
Even for a couple of days. Even to Las Vegas w/ the revamping heat and the toxic cigarette smoke that assails you in many public places. We don’t gamble and Made it to no shows. Upon returning home I message a friend of Mine - one of the few remaining/surviving of ANY kind. He’s also the same age as me and has lived in SF the same duration (26 years.) I ask him half - facetiously “…What’d I miss...?” and after a sentence about his job he responds- “Trump got indicted... again.”
Like they don’t have internet in Las Vegas. Or smart phones? Oh, he said it to provoke me, smugly, smarmily even, keep that in mind. Nothing about the possibly 1,000 dead in Maui, where Flappy-Head Joe had to be cajoled to go, promptly fell asleep and spun some tales about his own life and could not BE more condescending. All the better to show how we the people are beneath contempt. I go to visit a different friend of mine at their shop. I haven’t known this one quite as long or as well. He’s gay, a baby boomer, Jewish, owns properties and land in various locales and a well-known retail establishment in one of SFs primary tourist zones. He was working there the other day when a car pulled up... several people got out, grabbed the merchandise in his storefront window and hopped back in the vehicle. My friend ran after them and banged on the hood. A customer in the store @ the time tried to block the car from leaving and was promptly run over. He was still waiting for the police to come the next day. And the thing is, his tone and emphasis would almost indicate that the Cops THEMSELVES were the criminals here.
All the European-American Baby Boomers here, gay or straight, detest the Police. Blame Dan White? Is there anything more ghastly - and ominous - than a 60 or 70-something that looks in the Mirror and sees a “Left Wing”?
DEFINITION OF WISECRACK: A Clever Or Sarcastic Remark.
We belatedly note the birth date of American poet, writer, critic, and satirist Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967), best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.
From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in publications such as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table.
Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist.
Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker.” Nevertheless, both her literary output and reputation for sharp wit have endured.
When Harold Ross founded The New Yorker in 1925, Parker was part of a “board of editors” and became famous for her short, viciously humorous poems, many about the perceived ludicrousness of her many (largely unsuccessful) romantic affairs and others wistfully considering the appeal of suicide.
The next 15 years were Parker's greatest period of productivity and success. In the 1920s alone she published some 300 poems and free verses in Vanity Fair, Vogue, “The Conning Tower” and The New Yorker as well as Life, McCall's and The New Republic.
Her best-known short story, “Big Blonde,” published in The Bookman magazine, was awarded the O. Henry Award as the best short story of 1929. Her short stories, though often witty, were also spare and incisive, and more bittersweet than comic; her style is often described as sardonic.
Parker and Alexander Woollcott collaborated to produce an anthology of her work. With an introduction by Somerset Maugham, the volume compiled over two dozen of Parker's short stories along with selected poems from her previous publications. It was released in the United States in 1944 under the title The Portable Dorothy Parker. Only three Portable series—Parker's, William Shakespeare's, and The Bible—have remained in continuous print.
Parker died on June 7, 1967, of a heart attack at the age of 73. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to Martin Luther King Jr. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O'Dwyer's filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years.
Her ashes were ultimately buried in Woodlawn Cemetery on August 22, 2020. Attached to her urn was a brass plaque that read:
Dorothy R. Parker
“Excuse My Dust”’
ONCE there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
— Cormac McCarthy, ‘The Road’
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Election season is starting, and the Democrats need to get their players in a better place. This is how I think they do it. Dianne Feinstein resigns. She is replaced by Kamala Harris (that gets her out of the way). Gavin Newsom is named VP. Joe Biden resigns, Newsom becomes President. The Democrats have a much stronger, younger candidate. The Biden scandals become old news.
SUGAR RAY ROBINSON knocked out Jose Basora in less than a minute to defend successfully his middleweight championship at Scranton Stadium, Pennsylvania #OnThisDay in 1950.
Referee Johnny Kelly counted out the Puerto Rican in 52 seconds. One of the fastest knockouts in championship history.
The seconds had barely gotten down the steps before Basora hit the canvas courtesy from a Robinson left hook. He was down four times in the fast and furious fight.
Sugar Ray attends to his beaten opponent in the brilliant photo.
TRUMP FANS ARE READY FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Why are the backers of endless war so shocked?
Many Republicans believe violence may be necessary. After decades of overseas war, why should we be surprised?
by Norman Solomon
Ever since Donald Trump became a former president, news outlets and commentators have cited polls showing that many Republicans believe violence might be needed to save the country. As Trump's legal woes worsen, so do mainstream media warnings about the specter of violent response. But we've heard virtually nothing about the connections between two decades of nonstop U.S. warfare overseas and attitudes favoring political violence at home.
For more than 20 years, a bipartisan approach in Congress and the Oval Office has made sure that the United States uses enormous and lethal violence abroad. Stripped of the usual noble rhetoric, that approach amounts to “might makes right,” an easy conceit when the U.S. military is by far the most powerful in the world. Reinforced in the name of a “war on terror,” this self-righteous posturing has made perpetual war seem normal.
When Trump loyalists attacked the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, a disproportionate number of those who led and participated in the assault were military veterans. By then, two decades of ongoing U.S. warfare had fueled the presumption that using deadly force is justified when all else fails.
War is all about inflicting sufficient violence to achieve goals. That was the basic method of the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol in a desperate attempt to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.
Those who laid siege to the Capitol two and half years ago were responding to what they understood as an order from Trump, their commander in chief. Many of the assault's leaders drew on their military training and knowhow to pull off the successful breach of security on Capitol Hill.
“It was like a war zone,” some House and Senate members have recalled, using identical words to describe and deplore what they saw that day. But Congress actually likes — and lavishly subsidizes — real war zones. Hefty majorities of Democrats and Republicans keep approving huge appropriations to create faraway war zones or make them more deadly.
As a result — along with several million deaths inside attacked countries as well as terrible injuries to bodies and minds — the still-continuing “war on terror” has meant large numbers of violence-traumatized veterans. “Between 1.9 and 3 million service members have served in post-9/11 war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and over half of them have deployed more than once,” the Costs of War project at Brown University reports. “Many times that number of Americans have borne the costs of war as spouses, parents, children, and friends cope with their loved ones' absence, mourn their deaths, or greet the changed person who often returns.”
All along the way, the U.S. media and political establishment has glorified the ostensibly heroic exploits of the Pentagon's forces as they've implemented vast violence. War-making is routinely equated with ultimate patriotism.
The war machine does not have an automatic “off” switch when soldiers return home. Military drills can morph into political maneuvers. And some key takeaways from the rigidly authoritarian structure of the military are well-suited for MAGA forces.
“With thresholds of acceptability declining in domestic political life, the Trump frenzy came more and more to resemble the mentalities of warfare,” I write in my new book “War Made Invisible.” And “the insurrectionists, exhibiting loyalty to the man at the top of the command structure, escalated to violence when all else had failed. ... Trump was drawing on a deeply militaristic cultural mentality, fueled by nearly 20 years of nonstop war at that point; the 'training' of his militant and dangerous supporters was most importantly about mindsets.”
The classic military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote two centuries ago that “war is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” Now some of Trump's true believers are eager to adapt the violent precepts of perpetual war to American politics.
ALL ABOARD THE IMPEACHMENT EXPRESS
by James Kunstler
“While [AG Merrick] Garland seems incapable of imagining any crime involving the president, he has made a conclusive — if unintended — case for an impeachment inquiry.” —Jonathan Turley
Beach boy “Joe Biden” will be well-rested when the plan for his impeachment rolls out after Labor Day. Just because you’re not hearing any news about it now, with the county fairs on all over the USA, and the pols busy scarfing corn-dogs and kissing heifers, doesn’t mean that the key players aren’t confabbing among themselves. Hey, have you noticed, you’re hardly hearing about anything else these dwindling days of summer, either? Got any idea what’s up with that war in Ukraine? Of course you don’t.
A preview for you then: Rep James Comer’s House Oversight Committee has already assembled a bundle of evidence tracking the exact ways and means of how the Biden family’s global bribery operation worked. That includes the bank records, the emails and deal memos, the chronology of meetings, the FBI documents, the phone recordings, the photos of “JB” schmoozing with Hunter’s “clients,” and the famous video of “Joe Biden” bragging onstage at the Council on Foreign Relations about how he strong-armed Ukraine President Poroshenko into firing General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
Next, Speaker McCarthy has to form an actual impeachment inquiry committee. (If he tries to demur, there could be a new Speaker of the House in short order.) That committee will entertain witnesses, including figures in Justice Department who have been reluctant to discuss these matters previously. This might entail a Part B of the inquiry: the blatant obstructions of justice by DOJ officials in the long-running case on various charges against Hunter Biden, as supervised by federal attorney in Delaware, now Special Counsel, David Weiss. Mr. Weiss dawdled so strenuously for five years that he let the statute of limitations run out on the major tax evasion charges, while he ignored all the allegations of Hunter’s FARA violations in seeking money from officials of many foreign governments.
There’s reason to believe that botching that case was well-coordinated with help from the Biden family DOJ “mole,” one Alexander S. Mackler, who had served as Senator Joe Biden’s press secretary in 2007-08, was campaign manager in 2010 for the Senator’s son, Beau Biden (deceased 2015), when he ran for Delaware Attorney General, and from 2014-16 was Deputy Counsel to Veep Joe Biden. Mr. Mackler was later inserted into the Delaware US attorney’s office as a prosecutor under David Weiss, from August 2016 to May 2019, while Hunter B’s case was under investigation. Did he function as the Bidens’ consigliere? Mr. Mackler was logged-in as a White House visitor five times after “Joe Biden” came to occupy it in 2021. Mr. Mackler is alleged to be currently serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General of Delaware (since 2019), but his name has been scrubbed by the agency’s website. See for yourself: https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov
Perhaps all this will be reserved for the separate impeachments of Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Wray. Bribery, racketeering, and treason may be enough for a presidential impeachment. Would the gravity of an impeachment proceeding override witnesses’ refusal to testify on the grounds of “an ongoing investigation?” How could it not, if those investigations are themselves a subject of the inquiry? Would the mainstream news media ignore the spectacle to suppress it? They can try, and then maybe we’ll get a test of how irrelevant they’ve become. The House will surely televise the proceedings. There are too many other alt.channels that will broadcast impeachment hearings, probably led by X (formerly Twitter).
All of which raises the question: will “Joe Biden” really endure this ordeal? Or will the next thirty days be his window for exiting the scene? He is, after all, a mere prop in a show directed by others. Those others would include Barack Obama, who could easily be dragged into an inquiry about the Biden family’s criminal adventures in global money-grubbbing when Joe was Veep. How is it possible that President Obama didn’t know what the Bidens were up to? (The Intel Community can’t be that incompetent.) You see how ugly this thing could get?
So far, the cabal running the “Joe Biden” show has avoided nuclear war as a distraction from what is hands-down the worst scandal in American history, way worse than Watergate. The four absurd Trump prosecutions are all ginned-up now, but may have peaked for distraction power — months of dull procedural wrangling lie ahead. An awful lot of rumors are pinging around lately about a new Covid-19 operation to be sprung on the public any day, with the usual kit of masks, lockdowns, and mandatory vaccinations. Do you really think Americans will comply with another round of this malicious nonsense? Fuggeddabowdit.
EAT AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT TONIGHT
Get the cream sauce. Have a cold pint at 4 o’clock in a mostly empty bar. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Listen to someone you think may have nothing in common with you. Order the steak rare. Eat an oyster. Have a negroni. Have two. Be open to a world where you may not understand or agree with the person next to you, but have a drink with them anyways. Eat slowly. Tip your server. Check in on your friends. Check in on yourself. Enjoy the ride.
— Anthony Bourdain
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 28 AUGUST
Ukraine's deputy defense minister claimed Monday that Kyiv's forces have made further gains on the southern front, while heavy fighting is raging in the east.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said it deployed two fighter jets to intercept US drones near the Crimean peninsula. The Pentagon told CNN the US will continue to “fly routine missions over the Black Sea as permitted by international law to ensure freedom of navigation and maneuver in the region.”
Russian strikes killed at least two people in the central Poltava region and another person in Kherson, officials said Monday. Meanwhile, Russian air defenses destroyed drones near Moscow and over the Bryansk border region overnight, officials said.
Ukrainian authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation of children from two districts of the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region that are under persistent Russian shelling.