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DRY WEATHER and near normal temperatures are expected through Saturday. Warmer temperatures are forecast for Sunday into early next week, particularly across the interior. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): On the coast this Thursday morning I have a foggy 52F. It was well into the afternoon before we saw sun yesterday, I expect to see it sooner today. More of the same the rest of the week.
AV UNIFIED: GAMES and ASP
Hello Anderson Valley Community,
Hope you are doing well.
Just a reminder our game gate is FREE. Come on down and watch a game. If your child is in Junior High or elementary, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or sign in to our ASP program. Just a reminder, there are no in and out privileges for the games. Once in, stay in!
Also, for safety reasons, students must leave on the early bus unless they are on a sports team or are in ASP. Students may not leave campus at dismissal and go off campus and return to ride the late bus. No exceptions. They will not be allowed on the bus.
Join us for a game and show your Panther Pride! Yummy pizza too in the Snack Shack!
Louise Simson, Superintendent
AV Unified School District
AFTER MANY YEARS And Many, Many Barn Sales, St. Elizabeth Seton's New Catholic Church For The Anderson Valley Begins Life.
DEAR FOLKS WHO LOVE THEIR PETS,
Re: Proposed State Senate Bill 1399 to Help Save Lives
I’m writing to you asking that you please consider sending a brief letter to Senator Mike McGuire at email@example.com, calling him @ 916-651-4002, or faxing him, Fax: 916-651-4902 asking him to support Assembly Bill 1399. This bill would allow licensed veterinarians in the state of California to offer both video and phone visits to pet owners.
Most of us have met with our own doctors via video and phone appointment and these visits have enabled our doctors to assess our health needs and get us the hands on medical assistance we might need.
With the shortage of veterinarians locally and throughout our state, AB1399 would help so many of us and our beloved pets, especially in emergency situations. Video and phone appointments would be both time saving and life saving. If video and phone appointments are good enough for us they surely are good enough for our pets.
Thank you for your consideration!
Carol R. Lillis, S.O.S. President
CLOSED SESSION AGENDA ITEM 3b for Wednesday, September 13 Board of Supervisors meeting: “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1) - Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing Litigation: One Case - Your Town Online, Inc. v. County of Mendocino - Court Case No. 23CV00626.
The Court docs for Case #23CV00626 are so far pretty skimpy. However, the company has posted some background information about their complaints on their own website. We are not sure if the current lawsuit is about the subject matter in this letter, but it’s likely that it is:
Letter sent to supervisor Ted Williams, 11//21/21, from Your Town On Line Inc, a Willits Internet Service Provider:
“Hello, Thank you again for taking the time.
The executive summary is, we are trying to get a simple electrical feed - on par with a toaster, vacuum, or coffee maker - to power a critically needed new broadband tower location out in the wilderness area - and are being obstructed by your staff for petty indefensible reasons that serve no legitimate public purpose at all. We have invested over $200,000 in this project, and have over 3gbps of new capacity to bring online to further bolster and enhance our services, and after more than a year of obstruction, we are now in the final phase of our project and the power feed is now required to finish. The required power is less than $75/mo and unfortunately there are individuals who appear to simply be on a personal jihad to personalize this so that my company specifically cannot have power access, while at the very same time this access is given to others without restriction. We have worked with county staff including Greg Glavitch and Walter Colon who both were on the ground and confirmed our request is easily doable and poses no risk at all. But the management - Doug Anderson, Janelle Rau - is bending to pressure from your county IT person Cody Snyder, to resist/hinder/obstruct/delay at every possible turn, and this is absolutely unacceptable. We need to act now before the main weather systems hit and the mountain is again inaccessible, forcing our customers (the voters and tax payers) to continue to wait for no purpose, for what otherwise is going to be a huge benefit to all.
Your Town Online is a provider of Broadband here in Mendocino County and is the parent of Pacific Internet, and WillitsOnline. We have been here for 19 years and provide wireless, dsl, and fiber based broadband solutions to residential, commercial , and government users of all kinds, and operate a hybrid fiber/wireless network in the county to deliver our services to various areas of the county including Willits, Laytonville, Covelo, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Ukiah and Boonville.
For various reasons including the need for greater capacity, and to address some reliability and maintenance challenges due to leasing locations from others, we designed and built a new broadband tower location on Big Signal peak, on one of the highest points in Mendocino county, to serve as a new data interchange point to replace our former location. This new tower development was approved by the US Forrest Service and development commenced in mid 2020. Late in development of the site, it was discovered that electrical utility power to this remote wilderness location was not purely PG&E, but was in fact PG&E carried over a few miles of power lines owned by the County of Mendocino. We researched this and for historical reasons, the county owns and operates these few miles of lines and is the only electric utility service in the area. It further is used to feed a building at Big Signal Peak, currently used by the county for some emergency communications equipment, and also, it feeds a commercial cell tower location just a few hundred yards away that is owned by Fisher Wireless Inc.
We approached the county CEO in August 2020 to announce our plan for this new location and asked simply for a power feed explaining what we had found. In response, they went into panic mode and embarked on quite an inappropriate campaign of phone calls, letter writing and other communications fielding every kind of objection to our lease imaginable, taking pot shot after pot shot in an none-too-subtle effort to derail our development and attempt at securing a rejection of our lease application with the Forest service. These efforts ultimately went nowhere, and the county staff continued insisting on review upon review, and was given numerous opportunities to state its case, and each 'concern' was resoundingly debunked by the Forest Service (for example, county claimed that we couldn't put our tower there because it needed to be able to fly in helicopters for 'emergency service' to that exact spot, which actually is not permitted. They neatly lied about this supposed need and also failed to mention the shiny new taxpayer funded ATV that county purchased for exactly this purpose, among other whoppers). It became evident that County staff was actually working with another company, Cox Communications, and had a plan in mind already and had committed already to provide power to a new proposed 196' tower on this location and that obstructing us was simply to favor this other company that would then help the county with its own needs. However, the Forest Service stated we were the priority user because we applied first, and with all other concerns addressed, our lease/permit was issued. However, resistance to our project continued and we received very little in the way of responsive communication from County to our numerous requests to provide that simple electrical feed.
In continuation of this obstruction, County provided us with a copy of a letter from PG&E which seemed to drop into their laps and discusses 'private power lines' and construed the content of the letter to imply that NO additional electrical service may be plugged into any service receptacle anywhere, and used this trumped up misrepresentation to then claim we would just have to wait for next year or the year after when the lines would revert to PG&E ownership. They had this letter for 3 months before providing it to us, and then when we called the representative who wrote it, we were able to quickly confirm that the letter references new power drops off of this private line that involve new transformers and 'utility loads', NOT simple household type electrical devices connecting to electrical sockets at a location. We wrote back to county staff again to provide the clarification to disprove this misinterpretation and then were given some dates to 'discuss' the matter further, and then.... nothing. And now, here is is the end of November 2021, your staff has made it clear that they don't WANT to provide this petty electrical connection - even tho they provide it to others - and have expended significant efforts to obstruct us and make the most wild incorrect and downright bizarre claims in order to support this position.
As I said, we are now $200,000 into this project and we are unable to continue to delay here. It is simply unfortunate that this one thing is under the control of county, because County is not nor has ever been a good partner and has only ever used its position to obstruct business and development here in Mendocino county. I have engaged every process I know of, and all backchannels I have access to, without success, and unfortunately I now am up against some very real constraints that may force my hand here. Your staff is completely out of line and there needs to be review.”
(According to on-line information, Your Town On-Line Inc., is owned by Mr. Michael Ireton and is based in Willits.)
IN ANDERSON VALLEY, Lauren’s at the Buckhorn offers something different. According to Mendocino Voice reader Jo, instead of offering customers plastic or wax-lined to-go boxes – which are also not compostable or recyclable – takeout customers at Lauren’s put a $5 deposit down on a reusable eco-friendly green box for their to-go food. Customers return the box on their next takeout pick-up, receiving a clean green box for their new takeout order, and the cycle continues.
AV STUDENTS ON KZYX TODAY RE: AV SKATEPARK PROJECT
Check out the local news on KZYX today! AV students Kellie Crisman, Aster Arbanovella, Ananda Mayne, Mariana Zavala and Onawa Kellner were interviewed by reporter Sarah Reith, who put together a story about the AV Skatepark Project. You can listen to it on air at 6pm, or via the attached recording (or by searching kzyx jukebox for the local news that aired on Tuesday, Sept 6 -- it already aired Wednesday am). It will also be posted on the KZYX homepage starting tonight.
TREVOR MOCKEL: Had an amazing time talking with many of our local and state elected officials and members of the Democratic Central Committee. This Labor Day, we celebrated all the contributions our labor unions have made to making our working lives better. The fight continues, so tune in, get involved, and stay informed!
SLEEPLESS AT BUILDING BRIDGES
Warmest spiritual greetings, Did not wake up early at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center, because I did not get significant sleep in the first place. An individual, who in addition to his regular medicine, is reported to have indulged in methamphetamine and possibly other illegal narcotics, which caused him to spend the entire night making bizarre sounds and acting spasmodically, before destroying the door of his cabinet leaving the contents all over the place, kept the entire dorm awake. Complaints throughout the night brought in the staff, who walked him out of the dorm area. The he would return. Finally got up at 10AM and drank a Red Bull just to be able to make it to Plowshares for the free brunch at 11:30AM. Took an MTA bus ride to the Ukiah Public Library, and am on public computer #3 tap, tap tapping away. There is one last ECHO test at Adventist Health on the 11th, followed by one last evaluation with the cardiologist on the 14th. I believe that I have finally understood the meaning of “existentialism.” I sincerely pity those who are stuck in it!
Craig Louis Stehr
ARSONIST SENT TO STATE PRISON WITH A VERY LARGE FUTURE BILL TO BE PAID.
Criminal defendant Amy Joallen Holland, age 35, of Willits, was sentenced Tuesday afternoon in the Mendocino County Superior Court to serve four years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), said defendant having been convicted by plea of the willful and malicious arson of uninhabited structures and grass lands.
As a part of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, the Court heard testimony and received other evidence from one of the victims relating to the Bart Fire, an arson-initiated fire that burned approximately ten acres on July 29, 2021 near the Walker Lake subdivision off Black Bart Road south of Willits.
In regards to the one victim who appeared Tuesday to testify as to her losses, the fire consumed two small outbuildings and their contents, which included inventory and supplies for that victim’s home-based pottery business.
The defendant was ordered at the conclusion of the restitution hearing to pay the testifying victim and her insurance company $248,890.06, at the legal rate of interest – ten percent per annum uncompounded – on any unpaid balance.
Additional restitution was reserved as to two additional victims who were not present, as well as Cal Fire for the state’s expenses associated with the fire suppression efforts, which are expected to be significant.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated this crime were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department and Cal Fire.
The prosecutor who obtained the arson conviction and represented the People at Tuesday’s sentencing and restitution hearings was Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.
The judicial officer who presided over this case was Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder.
HEROES AND PATRIOTS RADIO
On KMUD, Thursday, September 7, at 9 am, Pacific, we bring you an important show.
In the first half of the show, we interview two former Boy Scouts, Richard Windmann and John Sakowicz. They are two of nine Scouts featured in the Netflix documentary, Scout's Honor: The Secret History of the Boy Scouts of America which was released today, September 6.
Richard Windmann is a computer scientist from Fort Worth, Texas, where he lives with his wife and children. As a child from the ages of 7 to 17, Richard was repeatedly raped. He was at the center of a network of pedophiles that included Scout leaders, a child sex crimes detective, a Jesuit priest, and a host of hundreds of other men from all over the world. He founded a Nonprofit organization called "Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse (SCSA), http://www.scsaorg.org, that advocates for and supports adult survivors of childhood sex abuse and has over 37,000 members.
John Sakowicz, one of KMUD's own radio show hosts, was raped as a 12-year-old Scout. His best friend at that time, another Scout, was similarly abused and went on to drink himself to death by the time he was 18. He died of liver failure. John's account has been featured at NPR and other media. In the historic mass tort claim against the Boy Scouts of America, which includes over 82,000 claimants, also known as "survivors", John has been a tireless advocate for the victims who did not survive -- those boys lost to suicide, drugs and alcohol, and other self-harm.
In the second half of our show, we interview Judith Ehrlich, film director, writer, and producer. Her work includes co-directing the 2009 documentary about Daniel Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards, won the Special Jury Award at the IDFA, won a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit In Nonfiction Filmmaking.
(Our show, "Heroes and Patriots Radio", airs live on KMUD, on the first and fifth Thursdays of every month, at 9 AM, Pacific Time.)
CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING AND CHEESE-MAKING:
‘Women on the Land’ film documents 40 years of farming on Mendocino Coast
On Saturday, September 9, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will screen the award-winning documentary, "Women on the Land: Creating Conscious Community." Created by Carmen Goodyear and Laurie York, the film follows the feminist back-to-the-land movement from its birth in the 1970s to the women farming today on the Mendocino Coast. The screening will be followed by a pre-recorded video interview with the filmmakers conducted by Museum director David Burton. The event is included with Museum admission.
Since its release in 2012, "Women On The Land" has received the "Spirit of Activism" award from the Colorado Environmental Film Festival; has been included in course curricula at universities; and has inspired and encouraged audiences wherever it has been screened. "Country Women" magazine, and the women's land movement it fostered, has helped shape our world's growing awareness of the need to take care of the environment, to source and eat local and organic food, and to listen to women's voices.
Visitors can also view the Museum's current exhibit, "Something's Happening Here: Artistic Reflections on the Back to the Land Movement," artworks in diverse mediums by over 30 artists who migrated to Mendocino County from the late 60s through the early 80s to explore alternative lifestyles. The exhibit includes six paintings by Carmen Goodyear.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. General admission is $5; $12 per family; $4 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members, Native Americans, and standing military personnel. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
POT BANDIT PLEADS OUT
With his jury trial just around the corner, the third and final defendant who jointly planned with others and was personally involved in the 2020 Covelo Road armed robberies and kidnappings of two cannabis money runners, as well as the armed robbery of a separate motorist, tapped out Wednesday afternoon in the Mendocino County Superior Court.
Defendant Jesus Estevan Vargas, Jr., age 44, of Moreno Valley, chose to forego a trial by jury and, instead, accepted the District Attorney’s last and final plea/sentence "bargain" mandating that the defendant serve 19 years in state prison.
To that end, defendant Jesus Vargas entered a no contest plea Wednesday afternoon to his participation, along with two co-conspirators, in the kidnapping of the cannabis money courier and his driver, said crime occurring on September 27, 2020.
Having surreptitiously placed an electronic tracker in Southern California on the courier’s vehicle, the three crooks -- dressed to look like law enforcement agents, masked, armed for what appeared to be a war, and driving a vehicle outfitted to look like a law enforcement vehicle – tracked their target as it traveled from the Los Angeles area towards Covelo, initiating what would have appeared to any driver on the road that day to be a law enforcement pull-over of the courier vehicle and second vehicle on Covelo Road.
The financial target of the crooks was the almost $700,000 secreted away in a hidden compartment in the courier vehicle, a stash of money and a hidden compartment known to defendant Jesus Vargas from when he used to be the illegal cannabis money runner until he was fired and replaced.
Defendant Jesus Vargas also pleaded no contest Wednesday afternoon to having committed a separate armed robbery of an uninvolved motorist who also had pulled over when he saw the flashing lights on the faux police vehicle.
Finally, defendant Jesus Vargas admitted a special sentencing enhancement charged by the District Attorney that during the robbery and kidnappings he was armed with a firearm.
Because kidnapping and robbery have been characterized as violent felonies by the California Legislature, defendant Jesus Vargas now stands convicted of two Strikes, within the meaning of California’s current version of Three Strikes.
Again, because kidnapping and robbery are characterized by law to be violent felonies, the early release credits defendant Jesus Vargas may attempt to earn in state prison is should be capped by prison authorities at no more than fifteen percent.
Because he had procrastinated in resolving his case, defendant Jesus Vargas was also required by the prosecutor to waive a full year of actual jail custody time credits in order to be able to resolve the matter, making the defendant's overall sentence equal to a state prison commitment of just over 20 years.
The defendant’s case was referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department, as required by law, so Adult Probation may gather background information on the defendant that will be used by the CDCR in their intake, classification, and prison facility assignment responsibilities.
The law enforcement agencies that gathered the evidence supporting the defendant’s convictions were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire, the Las Vegas Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, various law enforcement agencies in Southern California, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
Special note is made of Cal Fire's involvement in this case. As the crooks were preparing their getaway after having pulled over the two vehicles, hooded the money runners at gunpoint, restrained them with zip ties in the back seat of the fake law enforcement vehicle, zip-tied the uninvolved driver on the ground and stole his keys and cell phone, and inserted defendant Jesus Vargas as driver of the money vehicle, Cal Fire fire crew vehicles traveling from Covelo came upon and witnessed what they considered to be a very suspicious situation happening at the turn-out not far from Highway 101.
The trailing Cal Fire vehicle stopped and freed the uninvolved motorist, received a quick summary of what that victim said had happened, and called in the crimes to the Sheriff's Office, which allowed Sheriff deputies to eventually locate the two vehicles on Highway 20 as the crooks were trying to go out through Lake County.
Mendocino County DA David Eyster has been directing the prosecution of defendant Jesus Vargas, as well as the defendant’s brother, Nathan John Vargas, and their crime associate, Roy Ha.
Defendant Ha was sentenced on June 7, 2023 to 30 years in state prison. Defendant Nathan Vargas was sentenced on June 23, 2023 to 25 years in state prison.
Mendocino County Superior Court Victoria Shanahan accepted defendant Jesus Vargas’ no contest pleas and firearm enhancement admission Wednesday afternoon. The defendant will return to court in late September to be formally sentenced to the stipulated prison sentence.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED to help with the Sept. 16 Skate Park fundraiser that is being held at the AV Brew Company:
- 12:00-2:30 (set up)
- 2:30-5:00 (various activities during event)
- 3:30-7:00 (cashiers)
- 4:30-7:00 (various activities during event)
- 7:00-8:30 (break down and transfer to indoors)
For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
HERE A SINUS, THERE A SINUS, EVERYWHERE A SINUS
Today at a restaurant I sat alone to have a nice Mexican lunch (salad) rather large salad. Anyway you know humans tend to look up between bites and to wash the throat clear with a drink. One elderly gentleman needed to clear his sinuses, which I thought, Could you take that outside? Then, another man came in who still had his medical emergency bracelet on from Howard hospital, I’d guess, and that man also had to clear his sinuses so it prompted me to send a notice: Would the health and safety codes be amended to (a) clear your sinuses outside, (b) besides making sure you’re fit for public contact (c) please remove your bracelets. It reminds me of how often people ignore others health and safety thanks again
YOGA starting again in September! I'm trying 3 time options--vote with your feet! Times that get folks showing up will keep happenings!
Mondays at 7pm: Sept 11, 18, 25, Oct 2
Tuesdays 11am: Sept 12, 19, 26 and Oct 3
Thursdays 9am: Sept 7, 14, 21, 28
$15/class or $50 for any 4 classes.
Studio SoBo: 707 895-3979
SOMEHOW I BLINKED.
It's September, and a LOT more chiles are bright red in the field than I was expecting. My mind has been elsewhere as last week we set up our new bean thresher and harvested Tiger's Eye and Southwest Gold beans (good bean content here!). But before we start harvesting chiles, we want to celebrate summer flavors by releasing our 2023 batch of Strawberry & Chile Preserve!
Boonville Barn Collective Po Box 7 Boonville, CA 9541
MENDOCINO COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH CARE OPTIONS DISCUSSED
by Tiffany Revelle (Ukiah Daily Journal, August 23, 2018)
The idea of having a civil court program just for Mendocino County”s mental health clients and its homeless, along with bolstering the county”s existing mental health services, was favored over enacting Laura”s Law at the Tuesday meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
The board heard a presentation July 10 on Laura”s Law and several alternatives county officials proposed. The law is a statewide initiative that allows for involuntary, court-ordered, outpatient treatment for certain mental health clients.
“We definitely need to do better,” said 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg of the county”s current mental health system as he introduced the item to the board Tuesday. “Laura”s Law, maybe, but if not Laura”s Law, something.”
Several speakers urged the board to adopt Laura”s Law, which is a voluntary program, but one of the main sticking points was funding for the long list of programs the county would have to develop in order to comply with the law, one of several factors critics noted.
Voluntary mental health programs for children or adults can”t be cut in order to implement the law, and state Mental Health Services Act money can”t be used for administration costs, according to Stacey Cryer, director of the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency.
“We need to provide more effective services more effectively,” said board chairman 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen. “The question is how do we provide those services with a shrinking pool of revenue that has not turned around.”
Public Defender Linda Thompson, whose office would be tasked with defending mental health clients brought to court, said the criteria for a client to qualify are “very substantial,” listing nine requirements a person would have to meet to qualify for court-ordered treatment. She estimated her office would be in court for those cases about every other month.
Laura”s Law applies to adult mental health clients (at least 18 years old) who have a diagnosed, serious mental illness, who cannot survive safely in the community without supervision and who have a history of not complying with treatment, evidenced by two or more hospitalizations or jailings within the past 36 months due to mental illness, and violent behavior toward him/herself or others in the past 48 months.
A family member or professional can file a petition for the court to order a person to have outpatient treatment under Laura”s Law, but for the court to grant the petition, the court would have to find — among other things — that the person in question was offered voluntary treatment and had refused. The court would also have to find that the client”s condition is deteriorating, that assisted outpatient treatment (called AOT) is the least restrictive treatment possible, that AOT is needed to prevent relapse or further deterioration and that the client will benefit from AOT.
The component of the law that requires that a person be offered voluntary treatment includes a long list of treatment programs and services that the county doesn”t currently offer, according to Cryer.
One of the advantages of adopting the law, according to Hamburg, is having a judge become involved in a person”s case, which he said “wakes people up” and causes them to get serious about their treatment.
Nevada County (with a population of about 100,000), one of the only California counties to enact Laura”s Law, reported that out of 37 people referred under the law in two-and-a-half years, 22 reached a settlement with the court to get voluntary treatment.
Thompson outlined the idea of bringing back a civil court program just for mental health clients and the county”s homeless population. McCowen said that program might also bring into play the “black-robe syndrome” motivation for a person to voluntarily be treated.
The three-year mental health court program, for which funding from the “Mental Illness Offenders Crime Reduction Grant” was cut in 2006-07, used an “assertive community treatment” model of “whatever it takes,” according to HHSA Assistant Director Tom Pinizzotto.
Thompson said the program involved a team that included a judge, law enforcement, county Mental Health staff, Alcohol and Other Drugs treatment staff and probation, which met about every other week to route clients to treatment resources to keep them out of jail and the hospital.
“We would get them up on time,” she said. “Our probation officer would knock on their door.”
She said that kind of “assertive, aggressive monitoring” is an advantage of a mental health/homeless court program, “because I”m willing to do that on my own time.”
James Bassler, father of Aaron Bassler, the mentally ill, double-murder suspect sought for a month in the forest east of Fort Bragg last summer before he was shot and killed by a Sacramento County SWAT team, spoke in favor of Laura”s Law and against the county”s proposed alternative of a mental health court.
“A person has to commit a crime (to get into the mental health court system),” he said. “What are you going to do, cross your fingers and hope it”s not a serious crime?”
Implementing Laura”s Law locally would cost $792,270 annually, according to a cost analysis the county prepared. Bassler argued that the cost would be the same for the proposed court program alternative.
“I can”t imagine the Aaron Bassler investigation didn”t cost more than that,” said Fort Bragg City Councilwoman Meg Courtney, speaking for herself, who gave an example from her own life about why Laura”s Law is needed. She read a list of over 30 law enforcement agencies that combed the forest for Bassler — an experienced woodsman — in the monthlong search.
She and other speakers made the point that a person who is mentally ill can also sound very lucid and intelligent, and stay out of the system as it exists.
“Please do something, anything,” she said.
“I don”t believe Mr. Bassler would have been in the Laura”s Law system,” Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said, echoing debate that ignited after Bassler”s death regarding whether Laura”s Law could have prevented his and his victims” deaths.
Sonya Nesch, who facilitates a group on the coast, said she knows of several people who cost the county $1 million or $2 million annually who might otherwise qualify for treatment under Laura”s Law.
Camille Schraeder, executive director of Redwood Children”s Services — which provides children”s mental health services under a contract with the county — said she has “grave concerns about our current access program.”
Echoing her comment, Hamburg said when he sought help for his son, it was difficult to find an access point, and that the way to get him help was for him to be arrested.
The board directed county staff to pursue the alternative ideas using existing funding, and will hear an update in September.
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
* * *
Mark Scaramella Notes: Mazie Malone’s recent recap of the Bassler case reminded us of this story by former UDJ star report Tiffany Revelle who did her usual good job of summing up the bumbling pointlessness of Mendo-style discussion of mental health services at the Supervisors Board Chambers. The name dropping alone should tell you why nothing has happened. Hamburg, Pinizzotto, Thompson, Eyster, Schraeder, McCowen… And whoever was County Counsel at the time. As far as we know, this was the last we heard of this subject at the Board Level. And this only occurred because of the Bassler story where three people were killed in a tragic high-profile mental health case.
The County said that if the local voters passed their pot tax initiatives, Measures AG and AH, 25% of the proceeds of the pot tax were supposed to go to Mental Health Services. Guess how much of the more than $20 million over the years has actually gone Mental Health Services. Guess how much tracking of the revenue expenditure for mental health (or “increased emergency services,” or “roads,”) was even done.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, September 6, 2023
MATTHEW BURTON, Laytonville. DUI.
CURTIS EVANS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.
DILAN GREGORY, Ukiah. Resisting, failure to appear.
NATHANIEL SAYLOR, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
— Mother Goose
* * *
It’s good that the internet gives ways for people to connect socially and friendlily. There’s too little of that, but I’d choose to skip the birthday-greeting portions of Facebook. I turn 85 tomorrow. I’m glad I’m still breathing in and out and still have most or all of my marbles, but there’s much I do not celebrate. I’m in good condition from my waist up, bad from waist down. (These complaints are all addressable if I have sufficient luck and grit and so forth.)
As to the “waist down” part, genetic endowment—and mine has been generous despite my wide feet, missing hair and even ADD—has included, starting in this ninth decade, atherosclerosis, blockage of my legs' arteries by plaque and a host of associated complaints. I can barely walk. My physical capacity, compared to this time last year, is puny. I had four—FOUR!—surgeries to fix this. All were botched and left me way worse off than before I had them.
In general, a big part of my life is now occupied with matters that require pills, capsules, consultations, peculiar medical devices, constant frustration and baloney galore—a boring goddamn way to spend your time.
Personally, I will not celebrate my birthday. Except to write and post this, I’d prefer to not acknowledge it. Ellie has done something at my FB page to keep it from displaying b’day messages. Thank you, Ellie! I respectfully, gratefully and affectionately ask anybody who is inclined to send me birthday greetings to spare themselves. Eighty-five is not a number to celebrate. You might as well say it’s a number to mourn.
I’m happy to be alive—always was—and I’m grateful to have so many friends. Who’da thunk? But my age is not the principal factor in this.
IF YOU LOVE YOUR MOM...
The other day I picked up a DVD in my local library that might be the most important subject matter of our time. Several years ago, it was shown in theaters as a “must see,” but I don’t think many heeded that urgent call. The name of the video is “An Inconvenient Truth,” and as stated, it is both true, as well as for many, inconvenient.
Despite the passage of time since my first viewing, it is no less impactful. Instead, it’s more fearful to contemplate, since we are seeing daily the results of our lonely planet warming to precipitous heights. It is presented by former Vice President Al Gore and is a wake-up call to each of us to take this threat seriously to save our planet. There is no Plan B. This is our one chance to make the changes that will make a difference. It may already be too late in many areas of our lives, but we must try. I implore you, if you love our home, watch this video.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Best burning man ever. The degenerates finally got their due. The Paiute people of pyramid lake finally got their wish. Kudos to their elders. Stay off the Playa, it’s sacred.
BURNING MAN IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE, but Burners Like Me Know This Time Is Different
by Cory Doctorow
Every time I go to Burning Man, there comes a moment when I ask myself, “Why did I choose this blazing, grueling workation when I could be back home, or on the beach?” By the end of the event, the answer is always clear — because there is nothing like it, anywhere on Earth.
The past two years, I’ve asked myself that question more times than in all the years before. I can see Burning Man — a gathering of more than 70,000 people in a sere and beautiful northwestern Nevada desert full of art and music and foolishness and delight — headed for the climate emergency’s cliff edge. It may not move, it may not end, but it will change.
Then again, so will everything else.
This year started off as one for the history books. My wife and I arrived Aug. 25, two days before the official opening, to perfect weather: hardly a gust of wind, good temperatures and a “playa” — the dry lake bed of fine, alkaline dust where Burning Man takes place — that was hard-packed and the air free from the usual choking particulates. I know that the conditions were thanks to rare storms that hit the week before we started work on our public art and theme camps to welcome the rest of the participants.
Obviously, the weather at the ending was also one for the history books — for very different reasons. Not only did we get more heavy rains, compounding rarity upon rarity, but they arrived at the worst possible time, near the end of the event, when everyone’s supplies of food, water and fuel were low.
The storm turned the playa’s microscopic dust into a bedeviling clay that mired everything in clinging mud. Just walking was a challenge: The mud stuck to your shoes and turned your feet into tragicomic irregular spheres that grew heavier with each step. Worse, all this movement churned up the playa, marring the surface and creating pockmarks that retained water, slowing the drying out and stranding attendees for longer.
Though such rainstorms are all but unheard-of, harsh weather at Burning Man is absolutely normal. I’ve been caught in at least one white-out dust storm every year. This is how the playa teaches patience. Whatever pleasurable thing you find yourself doing is every bit as fun as the thing you were planning to do, so enjoy it.
This is how the playa teaches solidarity. The ultrafine dust infiltrates every bearing of every machine. The gusting winds blow over shelters and tear reinforced grommets. Your goggles break and the blowing, burning dust gets into your eyes. You help your neighbors. Your neighbors help you. The “radical self-reliance” of Burning Man isn’t the final word — it is counterpart to the event’s “radical inclusion.”
And Burning Man attracts some of the most resourceful, competent, imaginative people you’re likely to meet. Our small camp had no fewer than four MacGyvers: people who can do carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, as well as generator and small-engine maintenance and repair, network administration and first aid. (We also had two M.D.s.)
So when the rains hit, everyone started figuring out contingencies and then contingencies for those contingencies. We duct-taped gallon Ziploc bags around our stocking feet (wet playa mud doesn’t stick to the slick plastic) or just went about in socks (ditto, though protracted contact with the alkaline mud causes painful skin reactions). We checked in with our neighbors, improvised ways to deal with water pooling on our flat shade-structure roofs and heated up our most perishable leftovers (14-hour slow-cooked pulled pork).
All the things we’d expected to do were canceled. Time to find something to enjoy that would be every bit as great as our canceled plans and enjoy it. A camp like mine, where a few dozen friends have gathered for a quarter-century, was the best place imaginable to get stuck in the mud.
In keeping with this year’s “Animalia” theme, some of my campmates had devised an “interspecies wedding” service, where participants filled in a Mad Libs-style questionnaire in whiteboard marker, creating wedding vows. We provided veils and headbands festooned with animal ears and stood couples under our beautiful light-up metal gate and performed a silly service, with the pair performing animal courting rituals to specification. (For example, if you chose “mouse,” we asked you to improvise the distinctive, high-pitched song that mice use to attract a mate.)
We performed many weddings during the week, and the tempo actually picked up after the rains started. Couples stopped in, enjoyed a muddy wedding and moved on.
But the rains continued. It was cold. Our shelters leaked and water came up through the floors. We fought back with more inclusivity and resourcefulness: We hung stuff up to dry, got tarps under our beds, lifted things into vehicles or under shelters. We checked in on our neighbors. We used some of our fuel to play dance music out of the LED Zeppelin art-car’s excellent speakers. We danced. So did the bag-footed people on their way to the rapidly filling port-a-potties. When we turned off the music, our across-the-street neighbors switched on their sound. The dancing continued.
But making the best of a bad situation doesn’t make it good. I left the playa late on Saturday. Two of my campmates were quite sick, and one of them had a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Medics told us we should go if we could to keep beds available for sicker people. I offered to help with the driving. My wife stayed behind to get our car home and to help with the all-hands, intensive leave-no-trace sweep of the site for even the smallest bit of MOOP (“Matter Out of Place”) that is the last thing we do before leaving every year. The roads and the gate have reopened, and my wife was heading out Tuesday, joining the “exodus” queue that is long even by Burning Man standards, with the usual three days’ worth of departures crammed into one.
Two consecutive years of brutal weather — one ferociously hot, one miserably wet — has many burners (including me) rethinking our attendance. It’s hard enough to prepare for all the contingencies of a hot, dry desert. Throw in water and mud and the contingencies multiply into towering, demoralizing heaps.
Burning Man started off as a small midsummer gathering on a San Francisco beach — but it spoke to something, and the crowds grew and grew, until the informal event turned into this 70,000-person annual desert camp-out. The Black Rock Desert is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and the contrast between the harsh environment and the art, food, dancing and fun made it an unforgettable, uniquely wonderful experience. After last year’s brutal conditions, that texture grew too rough for many of us, and there was lots of talk about whether the event would move again — whether the Black Rock Desert had tipped from “nearly totally unsuitable for human habitation” to “unsurvivable.” It won’t be the last place we lose.
The world is getting more and more unpredictable. Nothing is going according to plan. When the heavy weather hits, you’ve got to hunker down, share your snacks and pass around your flask, take care of one another, and find a way to enjoy the thing you must do, because the thing you wanted to do was just canceled. Again.
We’re all going to have to learn some MacGyver skills. We’re all going to have to cultivate patience and solidarity. And the organizers? They’re going to have to figure out how to keep the port-a-potties clear, because radical self-reliance and radical inclusion go only so far.
(Cory Doctorow is the author of the newsletter Pluralistic.net and of “The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation.”)
NICK BOSA’S SIGNING leads to 49ers bedlam, bro hugs and a timely boost
by Michael Silver
Brock Purdy was slicing into a piece of chicken Wednesday afternoon in Santa Clara when he learned Nick Bosa had just gotten a massive hunk of bread.
“Deebo (Samuel) was over my shoulder,” Purdy said, “and I looked back and said, ‘What’s up?’ He said, ‘Nick signed his deal.’ He told everybody. We were like, ‘Oh dang — that’s sick!’”
So much for a quiet lunch before practice. Within seconds, the cafeteria at the San Francisco 49ers’ training facility resembled the Faber College food-fighting scene in “Animal House”. There was bedlam all over the building as news broke that Bosa, after a long and regrettable staredown, had agreed to a five-year, $170-million extension that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.
The news provoked “bro hugs” in Kyle Shanahan’s second-floor office, a direct quote from the suddenly de-stressed head coach. Shortly before his scheduled news conference, Shanahan got a visit from three beaming men — general manager John Lynch, executive vice president Paraag Marathe and VP of football administration Brian Hampton. Shanahan was pretty sure he knew what those smiles meant; otherwise, their visit would have been brief and bitter.
“It wouldn’t have been very long,” Shanahan conceded. “They probably wouldn’t have come down (in the first place).”
Farewell, Salty Shanahan — at least for now. Four days before the 49ers open their 2023 season against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, there was an unbearable lightness of being that permeated through the head coach’s news conference, the open locker room period and the start of the week’s most important practice.
Bosa wasn’t on the field for that, but he’ll soon be back in the building, with the expectation that he’ll play a non-insignificant role in Sunday’s opener. That could be anywhere from a package that puts the edge rusher on the field on obvious passing downs (perhaps 20-30 snaps) to — well, he could play a lot.
“How many snaps are in a game?” Shanahan asked in my response to my question about Bosa’s realistic workload, adding that he was joking.
Easing Bosa back in would be wise, given the increased risk that going from zero to 60 in such a short burst could cause a soft-tissue injury such as a muscle pull. As veteran safety Tashaun Gipson put it to me Wednesday, “You can’t duplicate football. It’s a long, long season. You don’t need to show off your new toy like this.”
Then again, Bosa is a freakishly athletic human with a Formula One-caliber motor, and he’s very likely in tip-top condition, if not football shape. Remember that two years ago, Steelers star edge rusher T.J. Watt — who’d reported to training camp but staged a “hold in” (participating only in individual drills) while negotiating with the team — agreed to a massive deal three days before Pittsburgh’s opener. He played 69 snaps in that game against the Bills, recording three sacks.
“I’ll bet (Bosa) plays the whole f—ing game,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said of his newly minted teammate. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
There’s another reason Shanahan may be less inclined to slow-play Bosa’s return, one which has popped up in the coach’s talks to the team over the past several weeks. After consecutive seasons in which the 49ers staggered out of the gate and muddled around the middle of the pack through the first half of the season — only to turn it on and make a furious run that finished one game shy of a Super Bowl appearance — the head coach would strongly prefer to see his team get after it from the get-go.
“It’s very important that we don’t start off that way for a third consecutive year,” wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said. “We’ll try to start on fire.”
Remember, the Niners were volcanic in 2019, winning the first eight games, securing the NFC’s No. 1 seed and ultimately reaching the Super Bowl.
“That feeling that we had in 2019, being 8-0 at the time, I think it boosted our confidence and let us know what we had at stake,” recalled linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who was a rookie that season. “So I think if we can continue that same path and hopefully get us back to the same destination — and this time getting it finished — that would be the plan.”
Specifically, Shanahan has reminded his players about their dreary opening-day performance in Chicago last season. For those who have forgotten (perhaps intentionally): The Niners blew a 10-0, third-quarter lead to the Bears, who would go on to have the NFL’s worst record; Chicago launched its comeback thanks to a 51-yard touchdown catch by Dante Pettis, a former 49ers receiver quite familiar with Shanahan’s doghouse; and a sudden monsoon helped douse any hope that then-starting quarterback Trey Lance could pull out the game in crunch time.
Other than that, it was a glorious day at Soldier Field for the visitors.
“We’ve talked about it,” Purdy said. “Once you get to the playoffs it’s like, ‘Man, we want the No. 1 seed,’ and (last year) it came down to a couple of games — and you look back to the first game of the year against Chicago. Coach has been emphasizing how important it is to get out to a hot start from the jump, cause every game adds up in the end.”
Said Gipson: “There’s no reason for us to start slow and make our life harder than it has to be. Kyle has reminded us about that Chicago game. Starting fast could be the difference between playing in Philly in January, or playing in Santa Clara.”
Once Bosa arrives in Santa Clara to sign his deal, meet with trainers and assess his conditioning, presumably well in advance of Thursday’s practice, there will be an added bounce in the step of everyone he encounters.
As there should be: Just days before the start of a very, very important season, the 49ers have their groove — and their best player — back.
Our long, regional nightmare is over. The Niners are all in for 2023, and now they’re whole, and the only thing left to do is take the field and start trying to live up to the massive expectations they’ve set for themselves.
At long last, they gave Nick Bosa the bag. Now they’re counting on him to help them seize that sixth Lombardi.
STATE LAW TREATS SOME VIOLENT CRIMES AS NONVIOLENT
by Dan Walters
I’m doing something here that I’ve never done before while writing more than 10,000 columns about California politics: give over some space to a fellow pundit.
Emily Hoeven, a former CalMatters staffer who now opines for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written frequently about misguided California legislators who refuse to classify domestic violence and other horrendous crimes as violent.
Hoeven’s most recent missive points out that a former policeman who allegedly opened fire in an Orange County bar last week, killing three people and wounding six others, was apparently targeting his estranged wife.
“Although details are still emerging, the horrific incident appears to be the latest to underscore the undeniable connection between domestic violence and mass shootings,” she wrote. “Research has found that in more than 68 percent of U.S. mass shootings from 2014 through 2019, the shooter either had a history of domestic violence or killed at least one partner or family member.
“The gunman who killed 11 and injured nine in a January mass shooting at a Monterey Park (Los Angeles County) dance hall may have been hunting his ex-wife,” Hoeven continued. “Last year, a man shot and killed his three daughters and their adult chaperone at a supervised family visit at a Sacramento church. And the three men charged with murder in Sacramento’s deadliest shooting last year, which left six dead and 12 injured, all had histories of domestic violence.
“And that means lawmakers should take the long-overdue step of changing California’s penal code to classify domestic violence as a ‘violent’ crime.
“Despite its name, California considers domestic violence to be a ‘nonviolent’ offense. This means convicted abusers can more quickly shave time off their sentences and seek expedited release from prison. It also limits prosecutors’ ability to pursue steeper sentences for repeat offenders.
“This needs to change.”
Hoeven noted that earlier this year, the Assembly’s (perhaps misnamed) Public Safety Committee rejected a Republican bill to classify domestic violence as a violent crime, thereby making it easier to keep offenders behind bars.
This outrageous situation results from a 2016 ballot measure, sponsored principally by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and passed by voters, that purported to give those who commit nonviolent crimes chances to earn their way out of prison.
However, it was deceptive. Proposition 57’s indirect definition of a nonviolent crime was that it did not appear on a specific Penal Code list of 23 violent crimes.
That list only referred to particularly heinous crimes and omitted many offenses that ordinary folks would consider violent, including some forms of rape and domestic violence. The result is that those who commit some unspeakable crimes, including battering one’s spouse, are given kid gloves treatment in the penal system.
Brown insisted that state prison officials would continue to keep sex offenders behind bars, even though their crimes were officially deemed nonviolent. However, the state Supreme Court later declared that sex offenders were legally entitled to early releases because their crimes weren’t on the violent crime list.
Efforts in the Legislature and in ballot measures to expand California’s list of violent crimes have failed. The Legislature’s dominant Democrats are so committed to what they call “criminal justice reform” that they will not entertain expansion. They even killed a bill classifying child trafficking as a serious felony until being forced by a public outcry to keep the measure alive.
Last year, for while running for a full term as attorney general, Rob Bonta declared that the state’s list of violent crimes should be expanded. Having been safely elected, however, he has not lifted a finger to make it happen.
(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.)
SHE WAS A BASEBALL STAR. At bat, a good hitter. On the basepaths, a fast and fearless runner.
Born in 1922 in Los Angeles, CA, Thelma ‘Tiby’ Eisen became interested in sports when she was around twelve or thirteen years old. By fourteen, she was playing in a semi-pro softball league. At eighteen, she was a fullback in what would be a short-lived professional football league for women. And in 1944, Tiby joined the American Girls Professional Baseball League, where she would play in 966 games, stealing 674 bases. After her professional baseball career ended, she played in a local Los Angeles softball league.
Years later, while helping establish the women's exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, she said, "We're trying to record this so we have our place in history. It's important to keep our baseball league in the limelight. It gets pushed into the background ... [just as] women have been pushed into the background forever. If they knew more about our league, perhaps in the future some women will say, 'Hey, maybe we can do it again.'"
BIDEN’S MASKLESS DISRESPECT TO A WAR HERO PROVES HE’S UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT
by Piers Morgan
Tuesday was a typical day in the life of President Biden.
First, he did something incomprehensibly stupid by presenting an elderly Vietnam War veteran hero with the Medal of Honor without wearing a protective face mask — despite his wife, first lady Jill Biden, currently being infected with COVID.
Incredibly, he did this just minutes after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had told reporters that the president would be “wearing a mask indoors and while around people in alignment with CDC guidance.”
And Biden did it despite knowing that the Medal of Honor recipient, retired Army Capt. Larry Taylor, is 81, and therefore at a very vulnerable, at-risk age should he get the deadly virus.
That was bad enough.
But then he also did something incomprehensibly insensitive by leaving the ceremony before it finished, without waiting to hear the moving benediction read by Chaplain Brig. Gen. William Green Jr.
Other military veterans were understandably upset by what they saw as a shockingly disrespectful act.
“Pardon my French … But what a f—ing idiot,” raged former Navy SEAL and podcast host Shawn Ryan. “The continuous lack of respect Biden has for anyone is appalling. Hawaii, service members, active shooter victims, the list goes on.”
“At least he didn’t check his watch this time,” tweeted Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-Texas), an Army veteran, referencing when Biden glanced at his watch during a ceremony for 13 US troops killed in the August 2021 terror attack near Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
Both things Biden did yesterday were kind of jaw-dropping coming from America’s most powerful person.
Or they should have been.
Instead, I suspect most people just reacted like me and slowly shook their heads in weary bemusement that this guy is still running the world’s No. 1 superpower when he looks barely fit, either physically or cognitively, to run a bath.
I honestly look at Biden now and genuinely wonder if he knows what day it is, let alone what he’s supposed to be doing.
To say his behavior is alarmingly erratic is the understatement of the millennium.
It was no surprise to learn from a new book by The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer that Biden’s own aides treat him like a “toddler” because he makes so many gaffes that have to be swiftly walked back, like suggesting Vladimir Putin should be removed from power, and he admits to feeling tired from, Foer says, “physical decline and time’s dulling of mental faculties” and has very few public events before 10 a.m.
Let’s be honest, it’s no surprise to anyone, is it?
Even the vast majority of Democrats (69%, according to the latest polls) think he’s too old to be president, and the idea he might attempt to serve another four-year term in office is as mind-boggling as it is terrifying.
It’s not just the way he regularly stumbles down the steps of Air Force One, tumbles off bikes, falls flat on his face on stage — or just wanders around in an apparent daze much of the time that is most concerning.
No, it’s the way his brain just doesn’t seem to be functioning the way it used to, and how it desperately needs to for someone occupying the Oval Office and making endless life-or-death decisions.
As I wrote in June, I was particularly shocked when he recently ended a speech about gun control with the words: “God save the Queen, man.”
Why would he be saying that when my queen, Elizabeth II, died a year ago this Friday?
He was even at her funeral in London!
Biden’s shocking memory loss was as disconcerting as the time he asked during another speech, “Jackie, are you here?” as he searched the room for Jackie Walorski, an Indiana congresswoman who’d been killed in a car accident the month before, and whose death he’d acknowledged with a heartfelt public statement of condolence.
This isn’t normal behavior.
People don’t usually forget the deaths of those to whom they’ve recently paid personal tributes.
To do it once can be put down to a careless slip of the tongue, but to keep doing it is surely a sign of serious cognitive problems.
The sad, unnerving reality is that every time President Biden appears in public now, everyone — including his own White House staff — holds their breath to see what verbal mistake he’ll make, what vital US policy he might suddenly and dangerously rewrite, what indecipherable word salad he’ll spew, or just whether he can manage to stay on his own two feet.
As my Post colleague Michael Goodwin wrote Wednesday, it’s increasingly, painfully obvious that the Democrats should dump Biden as their 2024 nominee because even most Democrats don’t want him to run again, not least because they know the corruption scandals surrounding his son Hunter are moving ever closer to engulfing the president too.
But I fear Joe Biden, like his probable Republican opponent Donald Trump, is way too stubborn, self-absorbed and power-hungry to just voluntarily walk away from what they both see as the best job on the planet.
He would have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the race like the toddler his employees think he is.
So Americans have no option but to look on, with increasing despair, as the president of the United States further diminishes and degrades the greatest office of the land with every day that passes, every move he makes, and every utterance that comes out of his mouth.
What happened in the East Room of the White House yesterday wasn’t some anomaly.
It’s the new normal for President Biden, and things are only going to get worse as he ages and declines even more.
America deserves better than this unedifying, embarrassing farce.
THERE ARE 10 KINDS of people in this world; Those who understand binary and those who don't.
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 6 SEPTEMBER
At least 17 people were killed and dozens injured after a Russian missile hit a market in Kostiantynivka, a town in the eastern Donetsk region, according to officials. The attack is one of the deadliest in months.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $1 billion in new US support for Ukraine, including military, humanitarian and budgetary assistance during a visit to Kyiv.
Rustem Umerov is Ukraine's new defense minister following a parliamentary vote. He replaces Oleksii Reznikov, who resigned earlier this week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was time for "new approaches."
Russian forces "tactically left" the southeastern village of Robotyne after losing control of it to Ukrainian troops, a Moscow-backed official has said. Meanwhile, the situation on the eastern front “remains difficult,” says a top Ukrainian commander.
MIND THE GAP
by Isaac Castella McDonald
Wooden pallets are everywhere. Stacked in skips, left on verges and pavements, at the sides of roads where lorries hurtle past them, filled with yet more pallets loaded with goods. There are billions of the things, carrying 80 per cent of the global economy’s pandemonium of commodities across seas, along motorways and to local shops.
The first US patent for a wooden pallet was filed in the 1930s and their use took off during the Second World War. The pallet, like the shipping container, has been an astounding technological success. By creating a gap between a commodity and the ground, it allows a forklift or pallet jack to get under it and shunt a whole cube of stuff on its way. This all-important vacancy means more stuff can be moved more quickly. In 2016, 43% of hardwood lumber produced in the US was used to make half a billion pallets, according to researchers at Virginia Tech.
The once living raw material is used not to manufacture commodities, but to accelerate their exchange. The point of the pallet is not the pallet itself but the gap, the space, the emptiness it creates under the commodity. The commodities themselves, meanwhile, are often designed to interlock – an art known as ‘cube optimization’ – so as not to waste valuable space on top of the pallet.
The fact that it is worth using all that wood just to make other stuff cheaper to move around shows us something about the power of efficiency in shaping our world. Pallets are the embodiment of this will-to-efficiency, the icon of an economy that extracts, molds, transports and discards material around the globe.
The decreasing cost of transporting things, which pallets and shipping containers have enabled, is the main reason, as David Hummels has argued, for the dizzying acceleration of global trade since the 1950s. In John Lanchester’s words, “shipping is, in practice, free.” Today’s seas are churned by the passage of billions of tons of goods, a quantity that has doubled since 2000, grown six-fold since 1970 and is thousands of times what it was at the height of the British Empire. This increase has not been matched by growth in other metrics, such as output. Pears are grown in Argentina, packed in Thailand and sold in California, while the ratio of trade to output has tripled since 1970.
It may be tempting to see pallets as a scourge similar to single-use plastics, but (according to industry figures) as many as 95% of pallets are reused or recycled. And, although hundreds of millions are made each year, the industry producing them is a carbon sink.
The other day I opened the door to my flat and saw a pallet leaning against a lamppost, fresh off the boat and at ease on the strip. It was a strangely charming sight. The sheer quantity of pallets means they’re often freely available from builder’s yards and garden centers. They may be deeply implicated in trade and exchange, but they also slip easily out of it. Those that aren’t recycled into wood-chips or mulch can be refashioned and repurposed – into benches, tables, bookshelves, even sheds – the free and raw material of makeshift everythings.
(London Review of Books)
75 YEARS OF ‘GOODNIGHT MOON’
by Jess deCourcy
This fall, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, turns 75. I celebrated the occasion by reading Amy Gary’s fantastic biography, In the Great Green Room, written after Gary discovered hundreds of unpublished manuscripts by Brown in her sister’s attic.
This book led me to Julia Fine’s boldly feminist novel, The Upstairs House, the story of a depressed new mother who is haunted by Brown and her female lover, avant-garde performer Michael Strange. As a queer writer, mom and youth librarian, I was delighted by this novel and the fact that more writers are penning great “parenthood lit”—and that this one also illuminates an unsung queer literary heroine! I also viewed a video of NASA astronaut Dr. Thomas Marshburn reading the bedtime classic from space, drifting through the air like the red balloon in the story.
These experiences sharpened my hunger to revisit a childhood favorite. I began asking other writers how they feel about the book, reaching out to literary luminaries like Jacqueline Woodson, a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, who has published books for children, adolescents and adults, and has won top awards for young people’s literature. Her YA memoir in verse, Brown Girl, Dreaming, novel for adults, Another Brooklyn, and picture book Each Kindness, are deeply beloved to me; I also teach them to my library science graduate students, and have hosted Woodson at the high school library direct.
When I interviewed Woodson over email, she shared that she was a longtime fan of Goodnight Moon, with the slight caveat that the book has limitations. As she wrote:
“The ‘goodnight nobody’ always caught me by surprise and made me think, and I love picture books that make me think… I thought in including that ‘Goodnight nobody’ spread, Hurd and Brown were telling a quiet truth about emptiness and the world even as they cloaked it inside a young being’s fighting sleep.”
When I asked if Brown’s book shaped Woodson as a writer, she shared that the bedtime classic encouraged her own risk-taking when writing for children. However, Woodson believes that the book has endured because it’s considered “safe,” or unthreatening. “If parents don’t want to talk about deeper issues with their children, it doesn’t ask them to do so. Anthropomorphism, of course, means not having to deal with gender or race, so there’s that too.”
Indeed, the rabbits are stand-ins for a human child and “old lady whispering hush,” whose identity is never disclosed. There is something static and emotionless about the bunnies, which allows readers to superimpose their own realities onto them. The red, green and yellow room often seems more alive than the characters that inhabit it.
Thacher Hurd, son of illustrator Clement Hurd, wrote in the 75th-anniversary edition of the book that it was a sleeper hit, nearly going out of print a few years after publication in the 1950s. By 1981, when the book was going strong again, a parent wrote to say that his son had pressed his foot into the pages, trying to enter the great green room, which was real to him. The room was based on Brown’s neighbor’s living room—not a child’s nursery at all. In fact, the room and the entire book, came to Brown in a dream.
After jotting down every detail from the dream—from the odd tiger-skin rug to the black telephone—Brown called her editor, Ursula Nordstrom, and read the story aloud to her. Brown’s first version ended with a cucumber and a fly (“Goodnight cucumber!”) until her editor nixed it, according to Danielle Higley’s engrossing Story Behind the Story: The Remarkable True Tales Behind Your Favorite Children’s Books. Later, Brown redecorated her own bedroom so that it matched every detail from the book, and when her goddaughter slept over, she got to sleep in the mythic green room.
Why rabbits? Clement Hurd, an experimental artist without a background in children’s illustration, was terrible at drawing people. Also, Brown was fond of bunnies, and kept them as pets. But she was also a hunter—known affectionately to friends as “the lady butcher”—and skinned pets for their fur when they died of natural causes.
Next, I reached out to novelist Helen Phillips, curious if the unnerving aspects of Brown’s writing (and biography) resonated with her. Phillips’ most recent novel, The Need (2019) focuses on a mother who is terrorized by a mysterious intruder. I was interested to learn that Goodnight Moon was “a foundational book” for Phillips, and that the red, green and yellow color scheme from Brown’s dream influenced her own home décor. Even more, I was fascinated to follow Phillips path through the book, a journey from “…the known to the unknown.” As she writes:
The book begins by listing and thus solidifying known and familiar objects, cataloguing the mouse and all. But then the void begins to make itself known, as the pages slowly darken, as we arrive at Goodnight nobody—both funny and eerie. By the end, this cozy space proves to exist at the edge of an abyss, beneath darkness, under a sweep of stars—Goodnight stars, Goodnight air, Goodnight noises everywhere—its coziness in stark contrast to the universe beyond. The safety of the room provides a child a space from which to contemplate the vastness of the cosmos.
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Sophie Labelle also found the book soothing. The author and artist well-known for the “Assigned Male” comic, she has also published many groundbreaking picture books and the middle grade novel, Ciel. As she recalled, the bedroom in Goodnight Moon was calming for her as “…a neurodivergent trans child who was haunted by so many thoughts the second I went to bed.” The objects in the room “were displayed like an exhibit for me to survey,” and the “process of naming them… acted as an exorcism.”
I got a different perspective on anxiety from Jen Malia, the author of a picture book and forthcoming children’s novel series about autistic children. Malia described herself as “…an undiagnosed autistic girl who imagined that all the stuffed animals in my bedroom—especially my life size Raggedy Ann doll—came alive at night.” She doesn’t remember reading Goodnight Moon as a kid, but believes it would have rattled her.
Fantasy writer Stephanie Feldman revised her first novel during a time when she felt like she was reading Brown’s book on repeat, in an endless loop. Her newest book out this month, Saturnalia, described by reviewers as an “twisted, ethereal dispatch from a climate change point of no return.” Feldman wonders if Goodnight Moon gave her an appreciation of all the question marks that can appear in narratives. “Who is the old lady?” she wondered during these repeated nursery read-alouds. “What’s going on in that dollhouse, lit from within? I love that Goodnight Moon is at home in that weird, liminal space of bedtime, which is inescapably spooky for kids (and sometimes grownups).”
Poet K.C. Trommer, however, was more troubled the by presence of the old lady whispering hush. “Was she a comfort or a threat?” Trommer wondered. “Why does she leave the bunny alone in a room with an open fire?” Amy Cherrix, a former children’s book buyer for Malaprop Books in North Carolina and the author of the numerous books for children, including Goodnight Little Bookstore, was the only author who viewed the old lady in a positive light.
Cherrix overlaid her own happy childhood memories onto the unsmiling old lady figure, who was likely based on one of Brown’s babysitters. Growing up, there were several “grandmotherly” people who taught her to read and kept her stomach full. The bowl of mush on the table, although it strikes some readers as disgusting (especially next to the comb and brush!), reminded Cherrix of comfort food, and falling asleep after a big meal.
One of the children’s picture book writers I’m most excited about, and highly recommend to the new librarians I train, is Maryann Jacob Macias, who recently published the charming Téo’s Tutu, illustrated in vibrant, Batik-like washes of brown, teal and purple by Alea Marley. Like Trommer, Macias also felt discomfort with the old lady, especially when reading it with her two children. For her kids, the old lady represented a critic who smashed apart the dreamy, magical world that Brown previously had built.
In contrast, the presence of adults is heartwarming in Téo’s Tutu. As Téo takes tentative steps towards wearing a pink tutu to ballet class—expressing what Macias calls “gender creativity”—his parents shelter him with a gentle, accepting love. When Téo doubts himself, his eyes widen beneath his Afro and his stomach goes “topsy-turvy.” But his parents hold his hands and gaze at him with a palpable sweetness that brings tears to my eyes.
During an invigorating Zoom chat with Macias, she mused that while Goodnight Moon was inspiring in many ways, she’s grateful to be writing in today’s publishing world. Growing up, she barely read kid lit at all because didn’t see herself in Judy Blume or other children’s books starring white characters. Thankfully, her big-hearted story of a Colombian and Indian family dancing together isn’t an anomaly today.
When I read Téo to my kids, 10 and 3, their eyes light up every time. Their responses to Goodnight Moon are less predictable. The toddler slammed the book closed one time. When I shared this with Pat Cummings, the Coretta Scott King Award-winning author and illustrator, she responded, “Your daughter has good taste!”
Although the author, whose most recent picture book is Where’s Mommy? finds the book “instructive” for her students at the Pratt Institute and Parsons, the classic ultimately lacks “emotionally resonant” characters or plot. Cummings appreciates that the book helps soothe children’s “visceral fear” of falling asleep. Still, she doesn’t think the book would be published today.
When I asked her why she taught the book if it wasn’t a favorite, Cummings explained that she believed it was too ubiquitous to be ignored, like Disney. In other words, it was an inescapable touchstone.
Indeed, Cherrix’s connection to the classic was so “deeply forged” that she didn’t even recognize Brown’s influence on her own goodnight book. Despite the fact that she had an MA in Children’s Literature, and had sold thousands of copies of the “original mindfulness book,” Cherrix was thunderstruck by the realization that her Goodnight Little Bookstore might be a progeny of Goodnight Moon. She hadn’t considered this connection until her book was accepted for publication (which might have been a good thing!)
The 75th anniversary invites people of all ages to rediscover the 131-word masterpiece. Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond said that she’d never encountered Goodnight Moon as a child, but it had been recommended constantly since she had her children’s writing debut, Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea And As Wide as the Sky. “Prompted by your email, I finally bought it,” she wrote me.
So far, 855 readers have commented on Elisabeth Egan’s lovely New York Times tribute this month. One of them was Julie of Baltimore, who reflects that Egan’s article helped her rediscover the book as a “road map” to dying of colon cancer. Now she knows how to say, “Goodnight moon, goodnight my cats, goodnight my children, goodnight my photographs, goodnight…”
Goodnight Moon can give us profound and simple gifts at both ends of our lifetimes. With ripe moons in our windows, dollhouses blazing, mittens drying in front of fireplaces, and kittens coexisting with mice, maybe we can all glide more easily into moments of uncertainty and darkness.