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NOTICEABLY COOLER WEATHER will spread across the area behind a cold front today. Periods of beneficial showers are expected through Saturday, with isolated thunderstorms possible. Drier weather is expected starting Sunday, with warmer temperatures returning next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 55F with light fog (I think?) this Thursday morning on the coast. Smokey haze ruled yesterday & the moon sure did not look blue to me last night. Our wind will lay down some as a system heads our way. Increasing clouds thru the day then a 20% chance of rain later tomorrow. A 50% chance of rain on Saturday. Then clearing into next week.
SAFFRON BLUE FRASER:
All right y'all.
Here it is.
I'm trying to keep friends, family and folks about as informed as I can. I'm pretty sure you all know Scott caught the cancer. Esophageal cancer. Stage 3. He completed 6 weeks of chemo and radiation. With some difficulty, no surprise, mostly with his nutrition via a feeding tube. He had stomach problems and infection. And poor gut health so has been in the hospital for the last 4 weeks.
He is home now!
Sleeping on a borrowed neck pillow (thank the heavens for well traveled sisters).
A visit to his primary doctor made some adjustments to medication. He slept a whole lot today.
He will see the oncologist on Friday, so hopefully his ongoing treatment plan will be clear.
We had the head nod acknowledgement that this is far from over.
He's going to keep on keeping on, and I am going to keep on caring.
We have had amazingly comforting calls and correspondence. Tons of support. Oodles of love. And I thank you all! Each and every one.
Just this evening a dear friend called out of the blue. We havent't seen each other in a bit, it was a very welcome surprise. Made my heart warm. She said she wasn't sure she should. But she did. And it was really welcome. And very sweet. People ask, what can we do? Dudes, I have no fucking idea. We have never done this before! I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO! We feel your love and intention. Keep on loving' and living.
Don't hesitate to reach out. If I'm overwhelmed, I'll call you later. But really, please know, we're not avoiding you. Just walking in unknown.
ED NOTE: I don't know Scott beyond saying hello to him when I occasionally see him. But I know Saffron and she's a fighter, and I'm betting on her and Scott to win this one.
So swimming is done for the year at our swimming hole. Too much algae, bad or otherwise. We live on the Navarro river and have an awesome swimming hole that we enjoyed into October of last year. This year we had massive amounts of filimentous algae in June. The swimming hole recovered and we got to swim again. After the recent heat wave and humid weather, the algae exploded. I have submitted photos to the water board and have been told there are toxic blooms. No More Swimming.
We had big storms last winter, kind of like we used to have around these parts. Maybe a little more wild with the snow and all. I cannot help but wonder if the hundreds of thousands of grape vines on the valley floor, and the fertilizers used have anything to do with the local river exploding with algae. A little research shows algae thrives in nutrient rich waters. Run off fertilizers and top soil have been named as huge culprits for toxic algae. Is the wine industry following all regulations? Do regulations need to be stricter? I personally don't want my beautiful river that we all enjoy to be ruined for the sake of wine. Last time I checked wine was not a life sustaining necessity. I don't think this “agricultural industry” needs any protection. I would be willing to bet, in fact, that wine has ruined plenty of lives and is now working on our serenity.
REPORT FROM THE MEAN STREETS OF UKIAH
Ukiah, California @ 1:08 AM Pacific Time, and the surrounding neighborhood of the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center is peaceful. Nobody is camped out either in front of the building nor directly across the street. The residents of Thomas Street have made it clear that they do not want campers along the shelter fence line due to both litter and noise considerations. The Nepalis who run the Express gas station on South State Street at Observatory Avenue have stopped selling alcoholic beverages to those who have previously caused a disturbance in their market. This is the present status of the shakeout which occurred at the shelter due to extreme antisocial behavior which resulted in part from the consumption of illegal narcotics and alcoholic beverages, after many warnings. To everyone who is concerned about the fate of those who have been exited, instead of making vague statements about mental health, homelessness, and civil rights, feel free to offer housing to those who have been appropriately exited by the exhausted administrators and staffpersons. The shelter is located at 1045 South State Street near Talmage Road in Ukiah, CA and is accepting donations of food and some clothing. Telephone messages may be left at (707) 234-3270 when there are no technical difficulties with phone service. Peace.
Craig Louis Stehr
MENDO’S INCOMPETENCY CRISIS
by Mark Scaramella
SEIU Local 1021 President Julie Beardsley’s statement to the Board during Tuesday’s Public Expression to the Supervisors included a version of what we’ve been proposing for a several months:
“We understand that there are about $28 million in reserves. This is twice or three times more than most other counties have. I am asking you to pull down some of those reserves to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for our members. Then go out and do the assessments, collect the taxes that you need to do to bring in the money so that we can hire people. What you are offering us now is basically a wage cut, and it is not okay. And I would like to state publicly that if we do go on strike and people are told that they can tele-work, they are crossing the picket lines. And that is not okay. We are going into negotiations tomorrow. Please tell your negotiating committee to give us an offer, something we can work with. These people who work the front lines and save people’s lives deserve a fair cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with inflation.”
The Board chamber full of county employees with union t-shirts gave Ms. Beardsley a loud round of applause:
Supervisor Dan Gjerde was the only Supervisor to respond:
“I invite everyone in the room to look at the county budget. We have general county expenses of $357 million. We have general fund reserves of just under $10 million. That is less than 3% of our operating reserves. Last year we spent $7 million of one-time revenues to pay for ongoing expenses such as salaries and benefits. That's the first time in 11 years that this county has been required to use one-time revenues for ongoing expenses. So we have a structural deficit of $7 million. Everyone in this room needs to know that. We have another $3 million in added pension contribution costs next year. So that's a $10 million structural deficit that the county is looking at going into next year unless we find cuts. We all want to increase revenues. But let's be realistic about the revenues. The assessor's office is understaffed. We have pushed harder than anybody to raise the salaries of the assessors so they can be more fully staffed. But how many buildings would have to come on the tax rolls to bring in, let's say, $3 million next year? Remember, the county only keeps 30% of the property taxes. So you would have to have $1 billion in assessed valuations, buildings, added to the tax rolls to generate $3 million in additional county revenues. What does that look like? That's about 3,000 houses at 1400 square feet each that would have to be added to the tax rolls that are not currently on the tax rolls. That might be possible to do. But does anyone in this room think that that will occur in the next 12 months? In the next 24 months? The next 36 months? The Assessor's office has added staffing to begin the process of adding buildings to the tax rolls that were built without building permits. It could take three or four years, if those houses exist, to add those 3,000 houses to the tax rolls. But even if they accomplished that mission, that's only $3 million in a structural deficit that is already $10 million next year. Where is the money going to come from? Be realistic. Where will it come from? They will have to come from a combination of cuts and new revenue. But the new revenue will come in two or three years down the road. The cuts will have to come in first in order for the county to have the money to even contemplate some increases.”
Union Rep Patrick Hickey was peeved:
“I disagree with everything supervisor Gjerde just said. The County has provided no background information for any of that. The Executive Director of the Retirement Association would disagree with the $3 million in terms of pension costs. I spoke with her last week. She said that is not true. The $7 million? Now I think Supervisor Williams says it’s $11 million? Every week the number changes. You do not provide the most basic financial information. So then you just make stuff up and say, We are in a crisis. The only crisis is the incompetence that we see on this Board. I would like to clear up a few things as well. Some of the Board has made claims that if you include benefits, Mendocino County is at market rate with other rural government jurisdictions which the county and the union have identified as comparable counties. This is false. … So start by getting your facts straight before you make comments and tell the employees that you can't afford to pay what they need to live here. … Next I would like to address the amorphous and ever-changing structural deficit that the administration has been trying to use as a bogeyman to scare residents about the state of the County's finances. The County has provided no basis for these claims. In fact, we mostly hear that they don't know how much we have. If they have some secret information, they should share it with the public. In negotiations we have asked for months for the most basic financial information and the County continues to say that they can't get it. And yet they now claim that there is information that there is an $11 million shortfall that they need to make up. This is, in our view, a fiction. Just as the budget is a ballpark idea of what will happen. Given the county's history, they have always overestimated costs and underestimated revenues. This will certainly happen again this fiscal year. One component of this mythical structural deficit is a potential increase in pension costs for the County next year. Yet when I spoke with the Retirement Association Executive Director last week she said there is no guarantee that the county's costs will go up. In fact, this year they went down. This board needs to get creative and look at the funding that's available. If the board provides County employees with a reasonable offer, we can move forward. If they stick to their guns with what they are currently offering, the County will continue to suffer and County residents will suffer as well.”
* * *
First, Ms. Beardsley is correct in citing the $28 million General Fund reserve. This chart was in the May 2023 budget presentation. There has been no reported change in the numbers since then, although they apparently have allocated $500k of it to the Assessor’s office.
Second, Gjerde’s reference to “general county expenses of $357 million” is mostly NON-General Fund money that is paid for or reimbursed by state and federal money as it’s spent. Therefore it is irrelevant to the cost of living increase question.
Where are Gjerde and Williams getting their “structural deficit” numbers? Hickey is right that neither they nor the County have provided a clear breakdown of the alleged deficit. Their numbers vary depending on who’s talking and when and what’s included or excluded.
As Gjerde suggested, we went back the June budget presentation and found this in the CEO’s budget summary (Notice the precision of these numers):
“Total proposed Budget Unit 1000 (Non-departmental Revenue [aka General Fund]) available as of May 24, 2023, is $94,921,521 with special fund allocations of: $2,457,863 to Debt Service, $3,997,422 to Transportation, $1,464,282 to Library, $166,648 to IT Reserve, $4,880,000 to Fire Agencies, $400,000 to Disaster Recovery, and $145,443 to Water Agency, leaving $81,403,863 for allocation to General Fund Departments for their Net County Cost (NCC) assignment. As stated in Attachment A, the total proposed Net County Cost for General Fund Departments is $82,229,705. To balance the budget, it is recommended that $500,000 be appropriated from the General Reserve, $325,844 be appropriated from the TEETER reserve, and the appropriation of $4,474,333 one-time funds.”
In June, the Board approved the 2023-2024 budget based on that summary. So one might say that there’s a $4.5 to $5.3 million gap in the basic general fund. If there’s a bigger gap than that, then the Board or CEO have to lay it out and explain why it’s necessary. If there’s an additional pension gap, the Board and CEO and the Retirement Association need to lay that out too. If there’s a health plan deficit (which there probably is) the Board needs to lay it out and propose financing and health plan options. If there are capital projects that are in the general fund budget, the Board and the CEO need to lay them out so that they can be prioritized and scheduled and determine if there are grants available to cover any of them. (The Jail expansion overrun of at least $10 million comes to mind.) If there are projected under or over-runs in the departments, the Board and the CEO need to lay them out. If Gjerde or Williams have a basis for their projections they need to cite them.
Gjerde may be right in his abstract but ultimately irrelevant math about theoretically adding 3,000 new houses to the tax rolls. But again, that’s not the point. The tax collection gap that Ms. Beardsley referred to has little to do with adding houses to the tax rolls. The gap is derived from taxes not billed, taxes not paid, taxes not collected, un- and under-assessed building improvements, transaction tax re-assessments, and the Teeter Plan which should not be in deficit. This is a core function of County government and requires active, regular management and attention from the Board. Gjerde’s “3,000 houses” is clearly “just made up.”
But we see no such Board attention nor a sense of urgency about it. Therefore, Hickey’s “incompetency crisis” charge and his charge that the Board/County is “just making stuff up” have merit.
In the June budget presentation we found this assessment of the Teeter Plan:
“The Teeter Fund runs most of the year with a deficit cash balance and, therefore, incurs an interest ‘expense’ instead of interest ‘revenue.’ The County’s goal for the Teeter Plan is to always first cover any current year interest expense and any current year property tax delinquency, with the redemption revenues collected throughout the current year. After that, any excess revenues can be added to the General Fund as fund balance available. The Auditor-Controller’s 2023-24 projection for the Teeter Fund is to impact the general fund at approximately $500,000.”
The Teeter Plan may run a cash balance deficit during the year because some tax payments may be slow in arriving as payments to schools and special districts continue per schedule. But it should not require money from the General Fund overall. It is supposed to make money for the County as the County keeps the penalty and interest on late payments and the auction value on tax defaulted properties. It is also supposed to be an incentive for the County to collect taxes owed. Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison told the Board Tuesday that the state had waived some tax penalties and interest during Covid which made a dent in the Teeter Revenue. Ok. But 1) the County should have demanded reimbursement from the state for the hit they took, and 2) the Teeter Plan now needs persistent management to make sure it is put back on a sustainably profitable basis. They should start by making sure there is no General Fund expense for the Teeter Plan.
To get a clue about how much attention the County pays to tax collection one need only look at the budgets for the relevant departments. (The colums show the amount the departments asked for and the amount allocated by the CEO’s office.)
Note that while the Executive Office and the Supervisors cost taxpayers a whopping $2 million a year for whatever they do or don’t do, they have only budgeted around $400k for the tax collector function in the ill-combined Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector office. Note also that while the Board claims to have designated $500k extra for the Assessor’s office to hire additional appraisers and catch up on assessments, it is still below the amount the Assessor asked for.
Also in that June budget summary we found this summary of the Assessor’s Office’s workload:
“The Assessor’s Office was able to process and send out over 4,000 supplemental and 2,000 escape assessment letters in calendar year 2023, the revenues generated from these supplementals letters are projected to be over $500,000. Staff remains diligent in working with the County’s Information Services department and the Aumentum Team to further the build out of the Property System. They were successful in importing and building out all soils [sic - ?] for the Williamson Act in the last Fiscal Year. As the division completes their backlog of change of ownership, the next phase will be to focus on the continuous correction of supplementals and escapes. Once the next phase is completed, staff will begin canvassing unpermitted structures that are not currently on the tax roll. Money has also been identified and allocated to the Assessor’s Office in the amount of $40,000 to offset the annual cost to run and implement Aumentum.”
At least this addresses the range of revenue generation beyond “3,000 houses.” But here again, we find another management gap. Two months ago the Board directed that the Assessor provide a monthly report on this activity. So far they have not received any written reports but only an incomplete hurry-up oral report from Assessor Katrina Bartolomie in July. And nothing in August. Despite Gjerde bringing up the subject on Tuesday, nobody asked about the “monthly report” they directed nor expressed any interest in the progress.
First District Supervisor Candidate Carrie Shattuck took to the podium on Tuesday as well. Among other things she made the point that the Board does not get decent or regular info from the departments.
“The way that the department heads and elected officials communicate with the board and the public is not good,” said Shattuck. “You do not have a section on the agenda for regular updates. Instead public officials have to speak during public comment. It is very unprofessional. How are we supposed to get information or stay up to date on any of these departments — their projects, their budgets, their personnel — if they never have a standing agenda item with the board for updates? Even if it's only every month, not every meeting. It's very unprofessional for Chamise [Cubbison, Auditor/Tax Collector] to have to come up here during public comment, or Katrina [Bartolomie, Assessor], and get an update on their budgets or what's happening in their departments. That should change. That should be a top priority for this board, that they put something on the agenda to deal with that. … And this board has not mentioned taking one penny of a cut to their salaries. This union has been in here for months and not one of you has offered to take one dime, or a percentage or anything off of your salaries. I think it's really shameful.”
Board Chair Glenn McGourty went into condescension mode: “We have a CEO report where department heads are asked to give updates. Is that correct? CEO Antle? Can you comment on how that works so Carrie can understand better?”
(“Carrie” understand all too well.)
Antle: “Typically on a monthly basis we ask in the CEO report that the departments report their statistics of what they're working on and what they are doing. Does every department follow through every month? No. But the majority of them do on a regular basis every month or every other month.”
Shattuck didn’t buy it: “No offense, but that CEO report is very lacking. It gives no figures, no totals. Mostly what I see it is things like animal control and basic stuff, not the huge items that affect our budget or the functioning of our county.”
Which is demonstrably true. The CEO report is a random collection of generic, selective departmental self-hype and mission statements. There no is substantive information in the CEO report about departmental budgets, staffing, projects, pending grants, or status.
McGourty: “As I understand it, are you saying the department heads are not required to report to your CEO report?”
Antle: “We ask that and we put that in your evaluations of department heads that we just did on the department heads.”
McGourty: “Carrie, are you saying if you win you are going to give your salary to help the workers?”
Shattuck: “I have already offered a 50% reduction if I am elected in my salary to immediately help the county's budget. Absolutely.”
McGourty: “Just for the record, I don't take any benefits with my salary. So the county is not covering the 70% that goes for benefits for most of our workers.”
Shattuck: “Okay, but you are still getting retirement and…”
McGourty, in high dudgeon: “No I am not. That's what I just said! I give up all my benefits that I do not take because I'm already retired from another system. So the County saves 70% overhead on my position.”
County Counsel Christian Curtis cut off the exchange: “Mr. Chair, if I may suggest reserving public comment. It may be better to steer away from campaign statements and give a little more interest to what's on the board's agenda at this time.”
McGourty may have “given up” some of his County benefits. But as he admitted, he’s not giving up his retirement or taking any kind of cut since he’s a retired employee from his days as official grape expert for the UC Extension office (a free subsidy to the wine industry). So he’s hardly sacrificing anything like what he’s expecting County line workers to do.
Not wanting to look even worse, none of McGourty’s colleagues dared venture into this shameful discussion. Good for Ms. Shattuck for boldly pointing out the hypocrisy of the Board and their flat out stonewalling of the employees and their union reps while not even considering token cuts for themselves like some Supervisors who understood how bad it looks took back in the 2009 Great Recession.
To close public expression, Chair McGourty got the Insincerity of the Day Award by claiming: “Thank you for your input. We really do appreciate it even when you don’t agree with us.”
AV UNIFIED NEWS: CAREER TECH ED & SITE COUNCIL
Join us on Thursday, September 7 for the Site Council/CTE Meeting at 4:30 in the High School Library. Here is the agenda:
- Site Council
- What is going well…
- Construction Update
- Additional Dual Enrollment Update
- More teachers offering dual enrollment.
- Block Schedule Change
- Curriculum Pilot Feedback
- Junior High Math pilot is on-going.
- Honor Roll and Student of the Week
- ELAC Meetings Scheduled
- College and Career Fair, February TBD
- Sports Team Requirements-No-F policy is driving higher accountability.
- Community Grant, Mr. Moran
- After School Grant Funded Mr. Lane scheduling.
- Additional funding for the high school will grow academic support, music, and other enrichment programs.
- Library is now an academic intervention drop in space. Ask for help!
- Mendo College Opportunities offering robust enrollment on early release day.
- Welding in Mr. Ballantine’s Shop–Steve Rhoades is credentialed to create a welding program.
- Ruby Suarez will be offering Dual Enrollment credit for Geometry.
- Expansion of Art program–Mr. Bublitz will be teaching a variety of art programs within the CTE pathway.
Louise Simson, Superintendent, AV Unified School District
AVHS is now offering a boxing club for the high school kids!
The first class is this Friday at 5pm. I’ll be there at 4:30 for prep and early birds. Find Mr. Lane or Robbie on the AVHS campus and have your kiddos sign up with him. Training Equipment and protective gear will be provided (gloves, wraps, mouth pieces, head pieces). No experience necessary! Even beginner and intermediate levels are strongly encouraged to attend. Shoot me a message if you have any questions or concerns, or ask Robbie! For more info call the high school at 895-3774.
THE NEXT BIG BOONVILLE General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn is on next Thursday, September 7th. Hope to see you there.
Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster
AN OFFICE love affair has tongues wagging in one of the Ukiah-based bureaucracies theoretically committed to helping professionalism where the boss lady is carrying on with a married male underling whose wife is very unhappy about the relationship, so unhappy she's threatening to go public. Seems like everyone in County employment is aware of the situation, enjoying it, of course.
LOTTA TALK among Maga hysterics, who love Putin, about the Chinese as all-purpose global menace, but the richest man in China, Jack Ma, employs a whole lotta Mendo Maga rustics in Laytonville where he owns the 8,000-acre Shamrock Ranch that stretches darn near to Covelo.
Ma seems to spend a lot of time at his north country estate, entertaining an international array of One Percenters who arrive by helicopter. Ma has a pending Planning and Building permit application for a shooting range.
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
The driver of the vehicle pictured above has been arrested in some excellent track-down work by the cops. He's a Bay Area guy. The woman with the gun is his sig-other. Seems they regularly go out hunting in the urban jungles.
THE MAN pictured above was beaten to death in his San Francisco store by the young man pictured in the red shorts. The shopkeeper tried to stop the punk from robbing him, but… I bring it up because I read about it, picture and all, in the New York tabloid, The New York Post. A version of the same story in the SF Chron appeared without photos because the Chron, as a matter of unstated policy, never pictures alleged perps, or even booked perps, and seldom does follow-ups on in-City violence.
NEW YORK POST: “Far-left presidential hopeful Cornel West slammed the Democratic Party on Tuesday as being ‘beyond redemption’ due to its inability to meet the ‘needs of poor people and working people’.”
FAR LEFT of what? Who? Bernie, the alleged socialist, has endorsed Biden for re-election, and Bernie's routinely described as “far left” in mainstream media. Bernie said Biden is the only candidate who can “preserve American democracy” vs. Trump or another Republican.
WEST has my vote, a vote pristine in not having been cast for a Democrat since George McGovern. West is running under the auspices of the Green Party candidate. Re Bernie, West said, “I think that Brother Bernie’s being consistent. You know, he said that all along and I can understand the argument. I think it’s a plausible argument. I just don’t think it’s a persuasive one. I think that the argument he’s making means that there’s never any possibility for breaking the corporate duopoly, that there’s never any possibility of trying to speak to the needs of the poor working people.”
THE TRAGEDY OF THE ORR CREEK COMMONS II
I am a tenant at the newly built Orr Creek Commons II, Redwood Community Housing Development Corporation property in Ukiah. In the year this property has been operated, we have experienced a whole lot of issues. Most common are drug overdoses multiple times a week, drug manufacturing in some of these apartments, lack of management even though she lives on site, retaliation and verbal assault by program directors, and lack of services that are in our lease yet have not been provided and an utter lack of responsibility by RCHDC (Rural Community Housing Development Corporation).
There are several types of sponsored housing services that tenants work with but the moment many moved in those services were dropped allowing human trafficking, drug dealing and manufacturing, and a wide variety of criminal activity.
Mendocino County recently received a lot of funding to provide much-needed housing, mental health services, and drug reduction services, and nothing is being done to provide these services.
We would like to get this lack of support brought to a more public level and some accountability happening. In the name of the Harm Reduction Policy that this county has taken it puts more harm on the shoulders of our community members as a whole. Their No Harm allows extremely harmful substances and activities everywhere you look. Mental health and drug abuse are at an all-time high in this county.
Would MendoFever be willing to write a story about our tenant concerns that go unhealthy with? Would the paper be willing to be part of a solution rather than part of the situation?
Beth Planer, Tenant
WHAT’S THE LITMUS TEST OF A SUPERVISOR?
Dear AVA Editor,
I was sending texts via phone to district supervisors, vice chair, etc. On the third try the litmus test emerged. A true test has (Lore) historical records, references and an interest in monetary improvements. (The gambler’s life.) I had mentioned the local Skunk train bla bla then our Mendocino county past of so so famous Black Bart’s stolen gold, then a tiny bulb when off. “Hey aren’t they interested in that 7,000 acre ranch? However, I did mention any loot found the state or government gets its lion’s share first. We will see if they go public asking for of course volunteers. Ha lol.
Ukiah CA can become part of the world by joining ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, thus having more resources available in dealing with the Climate Crisis and crafting an awesome policy-oriented Resilience Plan & Climate Action Plan.
Become a Member of ICLEI and enjoy exclusive Member benefits and participate in the governance of the leading network of cities committed to building a sustainable urban future. https://iclei.org/our_network/
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, is the world's leading network of local and regional governments committed to sustainable development. IMHO.
AN INTERVIEW WITH KEITH FAULDER: NOT AN ORDINARY SITTING JUDGE
By Jonah Raskin
I had wanted to interview Judge Faulder for many years. The occasion never presented itself, though I had observed him in the courtroom, spoken with him in his chambers and had lunch with him twice in Ukiah when he talked off the record. Then, recently, my long-held desire finally came true at the end of August 2023. Since Faulder lives in Ukiah and I live in San Francisco, we decided to conduct the interview on the phone, for convenience sake as much as for any other reason. I have conducted dozens of phone interviews and they have almost always turned out alright. I think that’s true of this one. You can read and see for yourself. There’s a lot more that Faulder might have said. This is a start.
Raskin: Judge, what should we know about you in terms of facts?
Faulder: I was born in 1958 in Modesto and raised in Palo Alto in the 1960s, which I remember as a much freer time than today. The things we did that didn’t lead to an arrest would probably lead to arrests today. Kids can’t do in the 21st Century what kids could do in the Sixties and not raise an eyebrow.
Raskin: I understand that as a judge you are under some constraints. Is that true, accurate?
Faulder: Yes. As a judge I’m not supposed to express opinions about an issue or a person that might come before the court.
Raskin: Do you feel handcuffed?
Faulder: No, I don’t feel that way, though when I retire from the bench, which will probably be in 2028, I will not be under the constraints I’m now under. I was voted into office twice. When my second term ends five years from now I’ll be 70.
Raskin: You have a life outside the courtroom don’t you?
Faulder: I do. I’m a big bicycle rider. I’ve traveled by bike along the Empire State Trail that runs for more than 300 miles on an old railroad line from Staten Island, one of New York’s five boroughs, to Albany, the state capitol. I have seen a lot of New York State up-close. I have also been on a bike in Portugal. There’s also the Camino de Santiago which traverses Spain and that’s popular with cyclists and walkers. There are hostels along the way, plus commercial enterprises for travelers.
Raskin: Cycling must clear your head; a clear head seems to be essential for a judge.
Faulder: It has cleared my head, especially when I’ve cycled in Portugal along the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve noticed that when I’m traveling on a bike I get into a rhythm. Bicycling is fast enough to feel you’re actually getting some place; making forward progress. And it’s slow enough so you see, hear, smell and feel a place that’s imprinted in your head. In Portugal there’s spectacular food. Cycling is a great way to see a country, including the US. There are great places to ride here.
Raskin: How else does cycling help you?
Faulder: It keeps me physically as well as mentally fit.
You’ve been in my courtroom so you know that I don’t sit.
Raskin: You’re not a “sitting judge,” though you are a presiding judge.
Faulder: No, I am not a sitting judge. If I sit I feel like my blood goes to my butt and I don’t like that feeling. Cycling helps me stand for long periods of time. I can stand for hours and move about and feel good.
Raskin: There must be other activities outside the courtroom that are helpful inside the courtroom.
Faulder: I feel that the more life experiences I have the better I’m able to function well in the courtroom. Life experiences enable me to feel empathy and to have an understanding of the lives of people who are on trial.
Raskin: You are married aren’t you? Your wife’s first name is Jonah?
Faulder: It’s spelled Jona. We have been together for 32 years. She is cycling now in Nova Scotia. She’s a retired lawyer. We did not meet in a bar, as some like to think, but rather when we were both working as lawyers in San Diego. We got together to discuss the cases we were handling, especially the sentencing phase. We talked about strategies for the courtroom.
Raskin: Tell me about the cases you talked about with the woman who is now your wife.
Faulder: Jona’s client was accused of murdering seven women. He stabbed them repeatedly with a knife. My client was accused of murdering five women. He duped them, killed them, dumped them and set their bodies on fire. Both men, who were serial killers, are now on death row. Both of them are Black, which is rare in the annals of crime and punishment. Statistically speaking, there are very few Black serial killers. Most serial killers are white.
During the trial of the man who killed seven women, my wife’s father asked her, “How can you defend a man who killed seven women?” I guess everyone deserves his or her day in court and is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Raskin: My younger brother is a private investigator who works for criminal defense lawyers. He’s been a PI for 40 years. Mostly, he maintains confidentiality, though sometimes a case hits him so hard that he has to talk about it. That happened with a murder case in LA. Two gang members killed two members of a rival gang and a DEA agent, a woman, who had infiltrated the gang. This took place during the “Rodney King riots.” At first, the cops assumed it was random violence, but one detective didn’t buy that story. He investigated and arrested a man who admitted he was at the scene of the crime, but insisted he didn’t pull the trigger. He named his partner in crime. That man was tried for murder, found guilty and sentenced to prison. My brother thinks that the man who pulled the trigger was innocent of murder.
Faulder: In the world of crime there’s a whole lot of snitching. When co-defendants are charged, someone usually names names and helps the prosecution. On the topic of snitching, I’m amazed these days at how loyal most of the Trump people are to the former president.
Raskin: You’re following the many indictments against Trump?
Faulder: I am. I get news from The New York Times, BBC America and the PBS NewsHour. I find it fascinating. You don’t have to be politically astute to understand what’s happening, but rather psychologically astute. It surprises me that Trump’s Republican base is so intensely loyal to him, though he does and says almost everything that’s anathema to traditional Republicans.
Raskin: Do you see the same or similar patterns of behavior in Mendocino?
Faulder: I once had my finger on the pulse of Mendocino, but I no longer do. I used to have many contacts outside the courtroom, served on boards and attended functions. I don’t do that any longer. I don’t have the kinds of conversations I used to have because as a judge I’m supposed to be fair and impartial. I’m supposed to uphold the law, and not bring any shadow into the courtroom.
Raskin: In that regard you are probably unique. Judges, including the nine judges on the US Supreme Court, seem to make rulings based on ideology as much as on the facts of the case and the law.
Faulder: When I first put on the black robes I felt a sense of responsibility. It was a physical sensation. I have carried that sense of responsibility to this very day.
Years ago, I followed with intense curiosity, the OJ Simpson trial and also the Timothy McVeigh trial, which happened at about the same time. To this day, many people can name the judge in the OJ trial, plus the names of the prosecuting attorneys and the lawyers for defense. That’s not true for the McVeigh trial, though I would argue that the McVeigh trial was and still is more interesting and more important than the OJ trial. The McVeigh story, the story of a domestic terrorist, took America by surprise. It’s much more complex than the OJ story.
Raskin: The media built up the OJ story. OJ lent himself to a kind of soap opera: Black man and a super athlete murders his white wife and goes on the run before he’s apprehended. That’s Hollywood.
Faulder: Yes. The public was more interested in OJ than in McVeigh.
Raskin: I’m now reading an excellent non-fiction book titled The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It's about the real life murders by white people of two dozen Indians who belonged to the Osage and who were wealthy because oil was discovered on their land. A very young J. Edgar Hoover tried to lead the investigation from Washington D.C. White people, including a judge, a banker, lawyers and other pillars of the community, conspired to kill the Indians with poison and also to gun them down and cover up their crimes. The story has been made into a movie and will be released in October. Martin Scorsese directed. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone.
Faulder: Why haven’t I known about this fascinating part of American history? There is so much of our past that is buried, ignored and unknown. It’s a shame. I wish we could change that pattern.
Raskin: Thanks for talking to me in this interview for the AVA.
Faulder: You're welcome.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, August 30, 2023
LESLIE BIRLESON, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
JOSEPH LOPEZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
MIRANDA OLIDE, Potter Valley. DUI, child endangerment.
JESUS RIOS-ESCOBAR, Ukiah. DUI with blood-alcohol over .15%, leaving scene of accident with property damage, evasion, resisting, false ID, suspended license.
MORE TREACHERY FROM MIKE & JIM
I am so disappointed in our state legislators, state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assembly members Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters. At the last minute of last year’s session, they and many others rammed through Assembly Bill 205, a utility tax, with no public hearings or discussions.
It’s a terrible bill. It will raise everyone’s electric bill. Indeed, it will result in the highest utility tax in the country, most likely between $400 and $1,500 per year, depending on household income. We should all worry about the rate since the California Public Utilities Commission gets to set it. They are all for the utilities, not the ratepayers. And our reps voted aye.
AB 205 will raise rates on working- and middle-class people. It will raise rates on people who have put hard-earned money into conservation, efficiency and rooftop solar. And our reps voted aye.
AB 205 looks as yet another way for the utilities to treat ratepayers like a cash machine. And our reps voted aye.
I’m really disappointed. You should be as well.
SLOW TRAIN TO NOWHERE
I must disagree with Cate Steane and her appraisal of SMART’s commuter trains. There are so many empty seats because most commuters do not have time to take a slow train to nowhere. If SMART had any vision all those years ago, it would have catered to San Francisco commuters as opposed to Marin and Sonoma County commuters (of which there are far less). Had the engineers at SMART figured out how to get their trains to San Francisco in less time than it takes to drive or take Golden Gate Transit, those empty seats Steane complains about would never be empty. Instead, what we have is a glorified wine train, touted as “high-speed” commuter rail.
This is a press release to warn cat owners they have just 9 months to get their microchipped, or face breaking the law and be slapped with a hefty fine. From June 10, 2024, it will become illegal for cat owners to not microchip their pets. Recent reports suggest that 25% of cats are currently not microchipped, which is almost three million cats. Once the new law comes into force, owners found without their cat microchipped will have just 21 days to have one implanted. After the 21 days, owners may then face a fine of up to £500.
The process of microchipping involves the quick, simply and painless insertion of a chip, generally around the size of a grain of rice, under the skin. The microchip has a unique serial number that the keeper needs to register on a database. When a cat is found, the microchip can be read with a scanner and the registered keeper identified on a database so the pet can quickly be reunited with them.
Microchipping is part of responsible pet parenting and we, not only support the financial burden for those unwilling to follow the new rules, we actively pushed for strict measures when working on this legislation in both it's Bill form and as stakeholders throughout its consultation phases. The Government call for evidence and consultation on the issue received 99% approval rate from respondents expressed support for the measure, so we are assured we are not alone.
When a cat is not microchipped, they can be picked up as a stray and end up clogging the rescue system, which is already on it's knees due to the current cost of living crisis, some shelters with waiting lists full of cats to enter care into the hundreds. Microchipping ensures that people are notified should an accident happen, and we are fully aware how important it is for people to be notified of incidents concerning their cats, and how vital it is to have that closure should the worst happen. Even cats that are house cats or have catios and enclosed gardens can still escape through windows, doors, or of course carriers on the way to the vets.
We are so pleased the Government have brought in this law after years of campaigning, but we remain concerned about the scanning system that compliments it. We have remained clear to DEFRA that, for microchipping to work in practice, chips must be scanned. We continue to push the Government on introducing effective scanning measures so as many cats as possible can go home to their families where they belong.
Our efforts have always been, and will always continue to be, focused on the welfare of cats firstly, followed by the rights and needs of their owners. We urge all cat owners who have not yet microchipped their cat to make an appointment at their local vets or with their nearest registered implanter. It's vital people book through a trained and registered implanter (found here: Animal Tracker | Find a Microchip Implanter <https://www.animaltracker.co.uk/find-an-implanter/> ) to prevent injury or potential complications to their beloved cat. We simply want cats to have the assurance of a voice when they are beyond their owners four walls, and we want cat owners to be given the very best chance of being reunited should they become separated from their cat for whatever reason. We urge people to act now to prevent a hefty fine. Microchips may be low cost or even free as rescues offer incentives to beat the deadline, and some will offer year round discounts to those on low incomes, so do check with your local rescue centre.
ED NOTE: How do we off-load the feral cats proliferating in central Boonville?
GOUGING THE TRAILER PEOPLE
Rent control for mobile home parks has been in the news a lot. I believe one major cause of rent increases has been new owners having to raise rents to service the debt they use to buy parks. I’ve seen no discussion of this. Without addressing this underlying cause, rent control will always meet owner resistance.
Perhaps a solution is to use county (or state) money to buy land for new parks. Help establish homeowners associations to run the parks and eventually buy the land from the county, and let reasonable space rents pay the county back (at least partially) for the land purchase.
Most mobile home owners want to own the parks where they live. Use money being thrown at homelessness for this. This would be a good use of new bond money if no other sources exist.
I’m a pilot. Usta own an airplane, a Piper Tri-Pacer 160, a single-engine, high-wing, four-place airplane, with a 160 horsepower Lycoming engine. It was as big inside as a Volkswagen Beetle. Mine was blue and white, cruised at 110+ miles and hour (depending on how much you cared about the gas consumption) and could go, they claimed, 580 miles between refills. Aviation gas is more expensive than car gas. Since I finished spending my patrimony in my mid-twenties, my choice has always been do it on the cheap or fugeddabatit. I’ve done it on the cheap, and I’ve done a lot of stuff.
One Christmas when I was a single father with three little kids, I decided to do the accomplished-pilot thing and fly my kids and the Dill the Dog to Kansas City (whichever KC is nicer) to visit my sister Sandra and bro-in-law Walt.
Came the day and the weather was iffy. Coupla winter storms looked like they might join up to the west, where I had to go to get from Baltimore to Kansas City. A peculiar trait of people with Attention Deficit Disorder is acceptance and willingness in taking chances. Have I admitted to Facebook that I have ADD? I am an ADDer. It’s real and it sucks. ADD should be a spoiler for people who want a pilot’s license. I was an ADDled and careless rookie pilot and could’ve killed some people who deserved better, but I had the luck of drunks and fools, and I didn’t. By the time of this account, I figured I was an experienced pilot. Hell with it.
So I hustled us into the plane, me, three kids, Christmas presents and Dill, and off we flew, later, as ever with ADD, than I’d hoped. ADD doesn’t necessarily mean suicidal. I’d called the Federal Aviation Agency’s weather numbers. They’d said it was a fair maybe if I hauled ass, but caution must be taken.
As we headed west, the short winter day went from gray to blue and clouds began to fill in the spaces around the dark, steep, endless-seeming hills they call the Allegheny Mountains, which are a stretch of the Appalachians, once upon a different age the tallest mountain range on Planet Earth. Now, there’s no peak reaches a mile in height. As long as these black hill-mountains were visible I was okay. Even in the dark you can tell a mountain from a fogbank. But the fog was overtopping the Appalachian Mountains, hiding them and deepening toward my wings. Kids, dog, Mitchell; nearly full tanks. This airplane is heavy, so not as nimble and sprightly as if it were less loaded. Put ’er down.
It was deep blue down there, now. I called the FAA on the radio. “This is Tri-Pacer two, eight, six, one Zulu.” I feared they might require a maneuver outa me, and they did: it was getting darker and scarier and more nowhere, but he had me fly a Z-shape to make a positive radar I.D. “We have you, Six-One Zulu. What’s your intention?”
My intention is to land at the nearest airfield.
You don’t show fear. It’s in the international pilots’ handbook, as if on their uniforms, like the casual dress of the young: “NO FEAR.” I explained my situation to the ever-helpful FAA people.
“There’s an open airport at Blah-de-Blah. You can probably see it on the horizon.”
And so I could, bright, colorful, warm, welcoming—and right at the far edge of my view, half sunk, like a carnival midway, in fog. Twenty miles, at least. Don’t want to grope around where I can’t see what’s in front of me in the dark.
“There’s small field almost directly under you. It’s closed for the winter. Probably has snow on the runway. Are you sure you don’t want to proceed to Blah-de-Blah? It’s only a few minutes more.”
I was sure. I turned on my landing lights. Tipped my wings so I could look down. Aha!
When you land, you control the nose wheel with the rudder pedals. At touchdown, while the plane is rolling out fast, the rudder, that vertical tail section that wags like flaps, exerts more directional control than the nose wheel until the plane slows and the full weight transfers from wings to wheels. The plane zigged and zagged down the snow-covered runway, fishtailing wildly on the thin blanket of snow. There are gas pumps close to the runway. They zip by as we skid down the runway. I’m applying the handbrake with panicky restraint. If a wing should sheer off a gas pump, my fabric-covered airplane would make a bright, cheery fire, an instant pyre. Because the mind is such a wondrous thing, events happening at unseemly speed can seem to slow absurdly down. I celebrated each aviation-gas pump as it slid by, pumping the brake lever just so. Then we stopped and I switched off the engine. Exhaled. I sent out an all-points bulletin to my senses: plane, kids, dog, me, AOK!
That’s the beginning of an ordeal so godawful it’s another story. We found shelter from the storm, left the plane tied down at the inactive airport, found our way to a B & O train station and jammed onto an overcrowded, under-ventilated passenger coach. Molly’s clean diapers and infant formula were somewhere else on a baggage car. No, I would not be permitted to get them.
Two Eight Six One Zulu remained on an obscure runway in the mountains where Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio scrunch together. The Cloggs fumbled their way back to D.C., then changed trains for Baltimore. This is where the part I wanted to tell about begins.
The mostly unseen wonders and terrors of great forests and mountains continue. My little airplane was alone and unprotected, and I, the crestfallen owner-pilot, worried. I asked Sheldon, twelve years my senior and never known to decline an adventure, for help. Shel had been an Army Air Force trainee when crumby old World War Two ended, and his pilot career was abandoned with the hostilities.
We set off at night. I don’t remember why we went at night. My life was complicated, bachelor and father, both. Bachelor, father, ad man, newspaper reporter—complicated.
Dark. No one around. The plane’s battery was dead. Shel climbed out. “I’ll spin the prop.” Spin the prop?! That was from the barn-burner era, like hand cranks on cars. “It’ll be fine. Push the choke in and give it half throttle. Hold onto that brake lever!”
Sure enough! He put both hands on the propeller and gave a heave. Picture it: You shove the prop down, pushing against the engine’s natural compression. The motion makes you lower your upper body, as if you were lowering your head to a chopping block. You better damn well recover from that posture fast, because when the engine starts, that prop is instantly a blur, and if your head’s still in the way...well… too bad.
The engine caught. Shel gave the spinning prop wide berth and climbed back into the shotgun seat. The runway still had snow on it. I taxied down the far end, brightly lit by my landing light. Ran up the engine to check things—carburetor heat, choke knob, fuel on—there’s a check list posted near the windshield. There’s a ruby-colored light (ruby colored so it won’t dazzle you and mess up your night vision). It’s mounted above and behind your head, a little directional light that shines on your instrument panel and makes the greenish shapes and numbers glow—all of this in the coolest airplane-y way. You turn that on and reach over your head to adjust the trim tab. Never mind what that’s all about. It’s like the hand crank on a car window. You want it a certain way for takeoff, so I did that. (What have I forgotten?) Double-check the list. Two notches of flaps. Ojesus, here we go!
Wheels up. The tires are a hair’s breadth over the snowy blacktop, but you’re flying no less than if you were three miles high. In the bloody dark. The chart (aeronautical map) said there are no obstacles, no exceptionally high hilltops, no radio or radar towers, “no nuthin” in the way, but your asshole puckers anyway. You are flying an airplane into perfect blackness.
Oh! I forgot! Alcohol is my friend, but I have a one-drink limit when I’m about to fly. Factor that in, if you think I’m such a daredevil. I’m not (intentionally) suicidal.
But it’s a long drive from Baltimore to the western-Maryland mountaintop, so I got a little stoned on Shel’s pot; still was when we took off. Pot smokers know how the Bringer of Rapture, Hillarity and Exceptional Sex can turn on you and bring terror. However I might describe my mental state on takeoff that wee hour, “high” would not be my word of choice. I feared an instant of Something’s-Not-Right and then o-freakin-blivion for the rest of eternity.
But no. We climbed out and up. I remembered to breathe. Shel and I did not speak, we were so taken by the moment. We just stared at the nothingness pressing on the windshield, and here’s what we saw:
There are virtually no people on that chunk of earth—“virtually”. Where there’s a farmhouse, we could see the nightlight the farm family leaves on. They were identical to the stars. The whole prospect ceased to be a contrast between earth and sky. It looked like it was all sky, all star-studded, like we were inside a celestial sphere, bejewelled. The ground was invisible, black as the sky, just tiny, scattered white lights where a whole world used to be, everything calm and unworldly, rapture restored.
My dread was gone. Next stop was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had a girlfriend there I was eager to see, and Shel had some business or other. He said he’d get home on his own. Shel was a man of daunting competence. I didn’t ask what he had planned.
The weather was still unsettled when it was time to go home. I do not have an instrument rating. If the visibility is under three miles, I can’t fly.
But there’s a loophole. I am confined to VFR—visual flight rules—but the FAA will let you fly what they call “VFR over.” If there’s some clear sky at both ends of your flight, and you can climb over the weather, you are permitted to do that. In Pittsburgh that winter afternoon there were enough holes in the overcast that I could fly VFR over. (Remember now, I’m no longer a rookie pilot.)
I took off, heading for a certain hole I hoped would stay open. It did, and I was overtop the winter storms of the Appalachian Mountains. With a high-wing plane, you look out your window at the bottoms of the wings. The tinted sunset light pinked the wings. Directly below, grim gray clouds jostled each other, but I was far above them, winging along with a nice tailwind, headin’ home. I felt like a pro, a truly lofty feeling. I turned on the AM radio and listened to music. It was cold at that elevation, eighty-five hundred feet, and airplane’s heater was as aggressive as early VW heaters were, so it was a little chilly up there, but it was too much fun to mind, and as I slid down the altimeter because Baltimore was getting closer, the dense clouds below got thinner and thinner, until the megacity that is our east coast grew distinct and bright.
No matter how much I enjoyed flying and how cheery and uneventful the flight, it always felt like Big Mama’s embrace when I taxied off the active runway and rolled toward the hangar or parking place—survived another one! I’ve had a lifelong heavy accelerator foot, I drive fast (or used to. The only exception is after flying. That satisfies any and all need for speed, and I drive calmly and sedately, enjoying the tranquility of it.
This whole long recounting was mainly for that experience, that illusion of flying among the stars in empty space. Veteran pilots don’t talk much about the extremes of piloting, but there are some, and they’re more good than bad, even when they include scary moments. I considered it my job to make my friends and family as relaxed as possible, bored even, but those exceptional moments are vivid and thrilling. I wish I still had an airplane.
CALIFORNIA WALKS BACK DECISION TO MUZZLE EDU-RESEARCHERS
by Dan Walters
As noted in this space recently, there’s been a recent trend in California’s state government toward secrecy — restricting the flow of information to media and the public about what officialdom is doing.
A prime example of that trend was a harsh warning from the Department of Education to education researchers that they could be punished if they testified in any lawsuit against the department.
A clause in research contracts banned such testimony, even if the researcher was not using data obtained from the department.
The warning, which officials partly walked back, was issued because the state was being sued by students whose schooling was interrupted and damaged by shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs sought expert testimony from academic researchers about the effects of the shutdown and the evidently haphazard efforts to instruct students online, known colloquially as “zoom school.”
Several studies have demonstrated that not only did academic achievement among California’s nearly 6 million public school students suffered mightily, but that the already yawning achievement gap between poorer and English-learner students and their more privileged contemporaries became even wider.
For example, the Public Policy Institute of California found that, before the pandemic, 51 percent of students met standards in English language arts, or ELA, and it had dropped to 47 percent. In mathematics, proficiency declined from 40 percent to 33 percent.
“Only 35 percent of low-income students met state standards in ELA and 21 percent were proficient in math,” PPIC reported, “compared to 65 percent of higher-income students in ELA and 51 percent in math.”
California tended to keep its schools closed longer than those in other states, largely due to reluctance of powerful teacher unions to reopen. So the loss of learning found by PPIC and others is — or should be — embarrassing to officialdom, from Gov. Gavin Newsom down.
That’s why, one suspects, the Department of Education initially wanted to shut down researchers who would testify about negative impacts.
When the efforts to muzzle researchers became known, thanks to dogged reporting by EdSource, there was widespread condemnation from the media and free speech advocates.
Last week, the criticism, and the possibility of an adverse judicial ruling, paid off — more or less. The education agency sent letters to researchers saying they could testify about the effects of school closures, but only if they did not use data obtained through contract work with the state.
“These limitations still preclude recipients’ testimony in legal proceedings to the extent it relies on or uses proprietary CDE Data, including Derivatives, as defined in the standard research agreement,” the letters to researchers said.
“We’re glad wisdom has prevailed, and the state recognized that the provisions (in data partnership agreements) are highly problematic,” Michael Jacobs, a San Francisco-based lawyer, told EdSource.
“We regret that it took all this legal process to protect the rights of researchers to participate in the public sphere.”
It’s a semi-victory for free speech, but the ban on using certain data continues, for reasons that defy rationality.
If the lawsuit’s purpose is to clarify how pandemic shutdowns affected the educations of millions of young Californians — with potential effects on the rest of their lives — then any information that bears on that purpose should be included.
The state seems to be attempting to bolster its assertion that its handling of the pandemic did not have the adverse effects it obviously had.
That attitude is a continuation of the state’s long-held position that local school officials have the sole responsibility for academic outcomes, even though state law governs how schools are financed, how money is to be spent and the curricula that schools must follow.
(Dan Walters has been a journalist for more than 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. Calmatters.org)
JANE K. COLLINS describes Vahl's after a memorable evening:
"Vahl's is a Frank Sinatra song without the swagger. It is an homage to the 50's, a salute to a time that lives only in American mythology. Vahl's is an unpretentious appetizer plate consisting of Ritz crackers, olives, and a radish. If your grandmother didn't make it...Vahl's doesn't serve it. Not a speck of arrugula or sun-dried tomatoes in sight. At Vahls, the waitresses are maternal and stern. If you don't finish your meal, you're not getting dessert."
"For an edgier version of the 50's, visit the Cocktail Lounge/Peacock Room. Creamy red Naugahyde booths and neon lights cast a menacing glow on the faces of patrons, who move in slow motion to songs like "Where or When." It's perfectly suited to the remote desolation and ruined beauty of Alviso by the bay."
Hey! It's Frank Sinatra in Dos Rios singing just for us, Mendo. Take it away, Frank:
Blue moon you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue moon you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper "Please adore me"
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper "please adore me"
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold!
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.
MIKE MURPHY’S LIFETIME OF GIANTS STORIES
by John Shea
By far, clubhouse icon Mike Murphy was the longest-standing San Francisco Giants employee, starting when they moved west in 1958 and retiring after the 2022 season.
On Sunday, the Giants are honoring Murphy by including him on their Wall of Fame outside Oracle Park, and more than 40 former players are expected to be on hand to pay tribute to the man affectionately known as Murph, who took care of them during his 65 years with the team.
Murphy, 81, started as a 16-year-old batboy while attending Balboa High School, moved to visiting clubhouse manager to home clubhouse manager and ultimately to clubhouse manager emeritus in 2015, the year the Giants named their clubhouse in his honor.
Initially hired by longtime clubhouse manager Eddie Logan — who accompanied the Giants from New York — Murphy had a career that encompassed six World Series, three World Series championships, 17 managers and thousands of players.
For many years, Murphy’s office was the spot for former Giants to hang out, a who’s who of franchise history. On any given day, visitors might include Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bobby Bonds, Jim Davenport, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou, alongside more recent players.
In advance of Sunday’s ceremony, the Chronicle caught up with Murphy, who shared stories from a legendary career.
Favorite player: “Oh, Willie Mays. The way he treated me. I was just the batboy. He said, ‘I’m Willie Mays.’ ‘I’m Mike Murphy.’ He said, ‘Come on, want to throw?’ He played catch with us kids, got us together to play pepper. The guy who caught everything, he gave $10. That was three meals in a day for me. Willie was the best. He’s still the best today.”
Favorite players other than Mays: “Juan Marichal. Gaylord Perry. Gaylord was my buddy. When we flew home from trips, he’d give me $20 to get his bag to the front of the line because he said he needed to go somewhere. We were going commercial. I told the guy at the airport, ‘This bag has to come off first.’ This was going on for almost a year. Unbeknownst to me, Gaylord was betting other guys that his bag would come off first. He made a little bit of money. I could keep going. Will Clark, Robby Thompson, the Caveman Don Robinson, Willie McGee. I could name everybody, but we’d be here all day.”
Favorite opposing players: “Stan Musial, Joe Morgan, Joe Torre, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bob Uecker. The two Boyers, Ken and Clete. They all treated me well. They liked me for some reason. They were all my friends.”
Wildest character: “I would have to say Brian Wilson. And Pat Burrell. Those two guys were different, so naturally they roomed together. Tim Lincecum was a little different, too. And Sergio Romo. Every club had those guys. Keeps everybody loose.”
Best day on the job: “The day they put me in the visitors’ clubhouse in 1961. I worked as a batboy from ’58 with the Giants and for the Seals before that. George Natriano, who came here from New York with Logan and worked the visitors’ side, had passed. Eddie didn’t have anyone to take over. I didn’t know anything about running a clubhouse, but I learned quickly and made a lot of friends.”
Worst day on the job: “When Willie Mays got traded to the Mets. Mr. (Horace) Stoneham came down and told the guys Willie got traded. I cried. ‘Why’s Willie leaving?’ Mr. Stoneham needed the money. Everybody was so sad. We got Charlie Williams for Willie Mays.”
Coolest office memento: the World Series trophy. “We won the 2010 World Series in Texas. Mr. (Bill) Neukom called me over and said, ‘You deserve this, take it to the boys.’ I gave it to Matt Cain, and he took it from there. Mr. Neukom said I could keep it a couple of days, and it sat on my desk in my office. It was safe.”
Coolest message from a player: “In the 2010 celebration, Buster Posey came up and said, ‘We did it for you, Murph.’ ”
Best memory from the early years: “The ’62 season. We won our first pennant in San Francisco. The Yankees came in, and I got to know them pretty good. Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, who later came in with the Cardinals, and we became good friends. Ralph Houk, the manager. Joe DiMaggio would come in and see the guys. It rained for days, and it was too wet at Candlestick to get on the field so we went over to an East Bay gymnasium to work out. It didn’t end well, Bobby Richardson catching Willie McCovey’s line drive for the final out.”
Biggest differences between the early years and now: “It was the manager and three or four coaches. One trainer, Doc Bowman. Guys ate at home or the hotel. We’d put out coffee and donuts and soup. The players didn’t come early like they do now. Just the clubhouse guy and trainer came early. We had the laundry sent out every day to a place in the East Bay, which would pick it up and bring it back. When I got to the visiting side, I did the unpacking, and the batboy helped. He did the shoes, I did the rest. Teams flew commercial and would come in at all hours of the night, and I’d sleep in the clubhouse waiting for them. Players had duffel bags, the trainer had small trunks. The bat bag was full of bats, and we had a bag with extra uniforms and underwear and jocks. That was it. Not like it is today.”
Favorite clubhouse music: “Frank Sinatra. All the classics. Early on, there were no CDs or cassette tapes. It was reel-to-reel. I always played Sinatra when the Cubs came to town so that Leo Durocher could hear it walking in. He was a big Frank guy. He didn’t want me to call him Mr. Durocher. It was Mr. Leo. He’d walk in and say, ‘Hey, Murph, who’s the best player you ever saw?’ I’d say ‘Willie Mays.’ He’d say, ‘I managed him, I managed him.’ ”
Best memory of meeting someone: “We’re in Palm Springs during spring training, playing the Angels, and I’m working in the clubhouse. Willie says, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ ‘I don’t know, after I get these clothes cleaned, I’ll go to the hotel and get something to eat.’ He said, ‘Meet me at 6:30, we’ll go out to dinner.’ We took a pretty long taxi ride to a beautiful area near a golf course, and I said, ‘Who lives here?’ ‘Oh, just a friend of mine.’ We drove up to a big house, and there was Frank Sinatra waiting for us. Mr. Leo was there. And Jilly Rizzo, a good friend of Frank’s whose restaurant was Frank’s hangout. The stories and laughs were nonstop. At one point, Willie said, ‘Let’s go. I’ve got to play in the morning.’ So we left. It was the greatest dinner I ever had.”
Biggest dilemma: “Willie hit his 600th home run in 1969 on a day he wasn’t supposed to play. It was San Diego, and the Rawlings rep had a trophy to present once Willie got to 600. We were traveling all over with the trophy. I asked Clyde King if Willie was playing that day, and he said, ‘No, I’m sitting him down.’ We kept the trophy in the box. Willie gets called to pinch hit, so we had to rush to get the trophy. I was really nervous. I couldn’t find the key at first and ripped the box open. Willie hits a home run, his 600th, and we got onto the field just in time to present it to him after he crossed the plate. Don McMahon was there to take a Polaroid.”
Best story about your playing career: “I was a first baseman and played semi-pro at Big Rec in the city. Jim Fregosi, Joe Morgan, Willie Stargell, Rich Morales, all those guys played, but the difference is, they all ended up in the big leagues. I could hit but couldn’t run. I asked the scout Eddie Montague, the umpire’s father, if I had a chance in this game. He told me to stay in the clubhouse.”
Best memory of hiring a batboy: “A kid was waiting outside the clubhouse for his brother, who was a batboy at the time. It was pretty messy in the clubhouse, so I went outside and gave the kid a broom and $5 and asked him to start sweeping. That’s how Mario Alioto got started. It was 1973, and he’s still with the club today as vice president of business operations. Mario had a great career with the team in many roles and is retiring after this season.”
Toughest uniform adjustment: “We fired Bill Rigney during the 1960 season and hired Tom Sheehan. We couldn’t find pants big enough for Sheehan. He was a huge guy, 50-something waist, so we had to put in a special order. While we waited for the order, he managed in street clothes. Very old school.”
Best advice: “Keep the guys happy. That’s what I told (current clubhouse manager) Brad Grems. They want to take home a uniform, don’t try to keep it from them. Give it to them. Keep them happy. When Logan hired me, he had three rules. Don’t steal from the players, don’t ask anything from the players, and be on time. I told the same to the batboys I hired. If you need a glove, I’ll buy you one. I never forgot what Logan told me. He was a great person. Tough to work for but nice guy. Another thing: Keep your mouth shut. Even when I took over the home side, I tried to keep my mouth shut. I never bothered nobody.”
Final thoughts: “I loved every one of the players. Never a bad thing to say. From the first day I started until these kids nowadays, I tried to treat them well, and they treated me well. I guess I did good.”
META (FACEBOOK) REMOVES THOUSANDS OF CHINA-BASED ACCOUNTS OVER ALLEGED DISINFORMATION.
(Betsy Cawn: Yay! A new coinage in the world of linguists competing for “control”?)
US tech giant Meta says it removed more than 7,700 of its social network accounts linked to China-based groups trying to manipulate public opinion.
The Facebook parent company revealed the news in a report issued on its website on Tuesday.
The report says Meta deleted 7,704 Facebook accounts as well as pages and groups. It also deleted 15 Instagram accounts.
The company said the China-based network was engaged in a pro-Beijing influence operation in languages including English and Chinese.
It said some posts claimed that COVID-19 originated in the United States.
The company noted that the network targeted the United States, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere around the world, and that some pages were in Japanese.
Meta said it estimates the latest disinformation activity the company calls “Spamouflage” is the “largest known cross-platform covert influence operation to date.”
Meta has been stepping up efforts to monitor content and remove fake accounts since it was criticized for its handling of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election through Facebook.
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 30TH AUGUST
Six Ukrainian servicemen die as two helicopters destroyed
Four transport planes damaged at airfield in Pskov (Russia)
Two killed in air strikes on Kyiv
Aug 30 (Reuters) - Russian officials said on Wednesday that they had thwarted new Ukrainian attacks a day after Ukrainian drones struck targets in at least six regions deep within Russia in one of the broadest volleys yet of Kyiv's campaign to turn the tables on Moscow.
One of the drone strikes, targeting an airfield far from Ukraine's borders, destroyed military transport planes.
Ukraine's military said six of its servicemen died on Tuesday involving the crash of two helicopters near Bakhmut in the east of the country - the main theatre of Russia's 18-month-old invasion of its neighbour. It gave no details of what happened, but said all the men were officers.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Do you remember George Carlin’s joke about the prison bureaucrat executioner who would swab the prisoner’s arm with alcohol so that he wouldn’t get an infection just before administering the lethal injection?
This is exactly what the US is like now.
People are so obtuse that they’ll just line up for it, or we’ll just waltz into nuclear war?