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MILD AND DRY conditions will persist across interior portions of Northwest California today, though an increase in midlevel moisture will yield an abundance of high level cloudiness. Elsewhere, marine fog and stratus will impact the coast, with widespread drizzle developing later tonight across portions of Mendocino County. Cooler weather is then expected this weekend, with light rain spreading across the region on Sunday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 55F with some high clouds this Friday morning on the coast. The fog looks to have moved well offshore but? We have a chance of rain Saturday night - Sunday morning. Rain is in the forecast for next weekend but forecast models are struggling with anything past 4 days currently.
STATE BEACH OCEAN WATER ADVISORY FOR CASPAR BEACH
The Environmental Health Division of Mendocino County Public Health received bacteriological ocean water quality sampling results for the week of October 17, 2023, that indicate that the ocean water quality at Caspar Beach does not meet State standards. The enterococcus bacteria levels in the sample taken on 10-17-2023 has exceeded acceptable levels.
Warning signs have been posted at Caspar Beach warning the public to avoid contact with ocean water due to an increased risk to human health. Contact with ocean water should be avoided for 50 yards on either side of the drainage entering the ocean. Caspar Beach is located just south of Jughandle and north of the lighthouse via Point Cabrillo Drive directly off of Hwy 1.
Caspar Beach will remain posted with the warning signs until water quality meets minimum standards specified by the State of California regulations. Environmental Health Division staff determine this safety standard based on bacteriological findings in their weekly water sampling.
CONTACT: Marlayna Duley PHONE: (707) 234-6625
REMEMBERING TOM CAHILL
Tom Cahill lived here on the Mendocino Coast for nearly 30 years. He was our official historian and compiled 3 large albums chronicling life on the ranch during his tenure. He was also the Commodore of the Ten Mile Fleet, caring for the canoes, kayaks and miscellaneous water craft based on the river, especially the “Solar Queen” an 18 foot aluminum boat he outfitted with an electric motor, canopy and non-functioning princess phone on which we’d pretend to order pizza. We were all members of his navy of the Grand Duchy of Fenwick.
Tom was a great friend and firm teacher. When he and I were arrested while protesting at Headwaters, they pepper sprayed him just because he was known to be who he was: a tireless peaceful warrior for all life. He taught us the Ho’oponopono prayer, “I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” We have been better people since.
We will be remembering Tom and spreading his ashes in the river this Saturday October 21 at 2PM at the “Horse Barn” where he used to live. From there we will go to the river beach and launch kayaks to spread his ashes.
Bring memories and stories about our beloved friend.
Park in front of the Big House and walk east to the horse barn and meet by the picnic table.
HUMAN REMAINS FOUND in the Mendocino National Forest Near Vehicle of Missing Oregon Man
On October 5, 2023, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an unoccupied Chevy pickup truck in a remote area off of Road 20N59 in the Mendocino National Forest located by a Caleb Unruh. The vehicle was unlocked and property belonging to Donald Stockwell Jr. was found inside. The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office conducted a records check which identified that Donald Stockwell Jr. had been reported as an at-risk missing person with dementia on January 31, 2022, from Josephine County, Oregon. Mr. Stockwell Jr. was reported as last seen on camera at the Chevron Gas Station in Willows, California, on February 2, 2022, at 9:19 p.m. Mr. Stockwell Jr. was seen on camera fueling the Chevy pickup and then driving away northbound on Humboldt Avenue in Willows, California.
On October 7, 2023, Detectives with the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office and Glenn County Search and Rescue responded to the reported vehicle to conduct an investigation and a search of the area for Stockwell. Detectives confirmed there was no evidence supporting foul play. During the search, Glenn County Search and Rescue located human remains within a quarter of a mile of Stockwell's vehicle. The remains were collected and are pending identification. The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office has worked closely with Mr. Stockwell Jr.’s family throughout this investigation.
For more information, contact the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office at 934-6441, visit our website: www.countyofglenn.net/sheriff or access us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/glenncountysheriff
ANNA TAYLOR MEMORIAL THIS SUNDAY
Anna Taylor Memorial, Sunday, October 22, 2023
by Deep End News
A memorial service for Anna Taylor (1945-2023) will be held this Sunday, October 22 at 2:30 at the Philo Methodist Church.
Anna was born in New York City on June 11, 1945, and peacefully passed away early in the morning of September 15 in Burlingame. Her daughter Jordan and son-in-law Nathan were at her side. Anna was 78 years old.
Among many, many other achievements, she founded the Deep End News in the early 1970s. Based in Navarro, the news service provided Mendocino County news to the Mendocino Grapevine and various other print and radio outlets. Articles were typed and hand delivered or called in from a phone tethered to a wall. Anna’s articles were always factual and witty, fun to read, and accurate.
We still miss her sardonic remarks and smile.
THINGS JUST GOT WORSE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
by Jim Shields
Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse in Mendocino County given its fiscal mess and talk of a bankruptcy-style reorganization plan, things get worse.
At this week’s BOS meeting (Oct. 17), the situation was propelled even further into chaos when the Supes unanimously suspended, without pay or benefits, Chemise Cubbison, the elected Treasurer-Tax Collector/Auditor-Controller. Both Cubbison, and Paula June Kennedy, the county’s former payroll manager, are facing charges they allegedly misappropriated $68,106 in public funds beginning in 2019. In fact, on the same day of the BOS meeting, Cubbison and Kennedy were in court awaiting their arraignment. However, the arraignment was postponed until Oct. 31 to provide Ms Kennedy the opportunity to arrange representation by the Public Defender’s Office.
The Supes needed less than 9 minutes — surely a record of some sort — in making history by the disposal through suspension of Ms Cubbison from elected office.
Here’s how they did it.
As is the case far too often, the County didn’t utilize their nine-attorney County Counsel Office for an opinion on how to proceed with the proposed Cubbison suspension. Instead, they relied on a San Francisco-based firm, Liebert, Cassidy Whitmore, to guide them through the process, at taxpayer expense, of course.
Morin Jacob, of the SF firm, told the Supes, “that under Government Code Section 27120, this Board has the authority to suspend [Cubbison] during the pendency of the criminal case against her, which at this point in time, as of this afternoon, is still ongoing. So you have the authority to take that action this afternoon. And then the same statute similarly gives you the authority to appoint someone in an acting position during the pendency of the criminal action against [Cubbison].”
District 3 Supe John Haschak inquired, “So if we suspended the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer and put in an acting [person], then the person would be acting until this issue were resolved.”
“Correct,” replied Jacob. “They would be in an acting role unless removed by the County Board of Supervisors for some reason, or at the time at which the criminal charges currently pending are resolved.”
Haschak: “And this could go on for months or …”
Jacob: “Correct. It just depends on what happens in the criminal case, which is run by the DA’s Office.”
Williams then asked, “Chair (McGourty), are you ready for a motion?
McGourty: “I am.”
Williams: “I move we suspend the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer and appoint Sara Pierce as Acting Auditor-Controller/Treasurer.”
After Dan Gjerde provided the second, Haschak asked, “Well, if we appoint Sara Pierce, I guess in this situation, is she going to independent? I’m just looking at process and policy. You know we need to put in place a good process not based on personalities or anything. So is this going to be a person acting independent of the CEO’s Office?”
Williams: “That was the understanding of the maker [Williams] of the motion.”
Haschak: “OK. So we’d appoint her to be ‘independent’ Acting Auditor-Controller/Treasurer?”
Williams: “I think she’d be as independent as that office always is, irrespective of who is seated.”
McGourty: “She’s a Department head. She’s running a Department and we’re hoping, of course, for collaboration but she will be making decisions on how to execute her duties for the job.”
You may want to bookmark the foregoing dialogue, as we may be discussing and parsing such words and phrases as “independent” and “collaboration” and “making decisions on how to execute her duties for the job” and so on.
Anyway, at this juncture, the Board voted unanimously to suspend Cubbison and appoint Sara Pierce, an analyst in the CEO’s Office, to temporarily fill the vacancy in the Treasurer-Tax Collector/Auditor-Controller Office(s).
I was tied up Tuesday afternoon when all this occurred so I couldn’t caution the Board not to do what they did. I would have advised them to postpone any action pending the preliminary hearing. That way they would have had the opportunity to review what kind of evidence the DA was relying on, and whether the judge found it sufficient to proceed to trial.
Someone who did speak during public comment was Carrie Shattuck, who said, “I think the board is really jumping the gun. Ms. Cubbison has not even been arraigned yet. Generally, a felony charge can be dropped to a misdemeanor or whatnot at your first court hearing. It's very obvious now that we know why there was a contingency plan for a Department of Finance.”
I’ll save this for another time but the County is on shaky legal ground surrounding this entire, unseemly affair, including the justification provided by the outside attorney.
Additionally, Ms Cubbison has both substantive and procedural rights that were denied her by the BOS. At minimum, she was entitled to the opportunity to appear before the Board and respond to the proposed action prior to the vote being consummated by the Supes. I don’t believe she was ever put on proper notice that the Board was planning to take action by suspending her from office. In fact, that very action item was only placed on the agenda subsequent to the Board opening the meeting on Tuesday morning. The Board had an affirmative obligation to notify Cubbison that her tenure in an elected position was in imminent peril.
Let’s take a quick look at the financial department consolidation issue before getting back to Tuesday’s meeting.
With the exception of Haschak, the rest of the Board voted in December of 2021 to consolidate the formerly independent, elected offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller into a single office, thus eliminating vital internal controls over finances. Without a doubt, the numero uno principle of fiscal matters, whether your books are kept in either the private or public sector, is you never, ever eliminate internal financial controls. The more eyes you have on the numbers, the better off you are.
At the time of this consolidation incident, I said the impetus for it was a 2021 petty bureaucratic squabble instigated by DA David Eyster over his office’s travel reimbursements being (correctly) rejected by then Acting Auditor-Controller Chemise Cubbison because he refused to follow county reimbursement guidelines. It should be noted that Eyster has tangled with other Auditors, namely Meredith Ford and Lloyd Weer, over his refusal to comply with established reimbursement policies and asset forfeiture claims. Note likewise that Eyster was a vociferous supporter of the financial consolidation plan, and also vehemently opposed the appointment of Cubbison to fill out the unfinished term of Weer’s office when he retired early.
At Tuesday’s BOS meeting, Eyster, leading off public comment, read a statement explaining the genesis of and his involvement in filing a felony criminal charges of misappropriation of public funds against Cubbison and Kennedy.
Eyster countered accusations that “he was out to get” Cubbison: “Neither my staff nor I have used or will use our positions to seek retribution or purported vendettas against any defendant, public sector or otherwise, here in Mendocino County.”
He urged “law-abiding citizens” to: “Not be influenced by the misinformation. Not to engage in non-factual speculation. Let the local courts do their job and resolve their matters.”
Bottom line, Eyster wanted everyone to know he was not responsible for the investigation of the two women. Rather, it was Sheriff’s Office investigators who put the entire case together and forwarded it to him for his review and consideration of formal charges. Eyster stated a number of times that, contrary to numerous reports and public comments, he had nothing to do with the Sheriff’s Office investigation of Cubbison. The investigation “was not initiated by me or anyone else in the DA’s Office. It was initiated and conducted by the professionals in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
He also said the Sheriff’s Office received “information” of the alleged crime from “outside the criminal justice system” alerting them to the alleged wrongdoing.
Shortly after Tuesday’s Supes meeting adjourned, the Board issued a 348-word, self-serving press release, most likely co- written by the County Counsel’s Office and District 5 Supervisor Ted Williams. The statement “clarifies” the DA’s claim about the source of the alleged crime coming from “outside the criminal justice system.”
According to the BOS statement, “The District Attorney’s investigation was prompted after the CEO’s office found evidence of misappropriation of funds in September 2022.”
However, Mike Geniella has reported that “Cubbison is believed to have relied on an agreement reached by retiring Auditor Lloyd Weer and her co-defendant before she took over as head of the office for not contesting the payments to Kennedy … Kennedy was placed on administrative leave by Cubbison after the pay dispute unfolded, and she eventually was terminated a year later. Kennedy’s pay pact for extra work was originally reached with retiring (Auditor) Weer during the Covid pandemic. Attorney Chris Andrian [who represents Cubbison] said the facts will show that Kennedy performed the work she was paid for no matter the method.”
So the record actually reflects that the CEO’s Office, most likely with an assist from Supe Williams, were involved in the Cubbison affair from the very beginning. For months, Williams has taken to social media disparaging Cubbison and renewing his demand for abolishing all elected financial offices, which would be supplanted by a single Department of Finance, with reporting lines to either the BOS or CEO.
This sordid affair is a long ways from being over, after all, this is Mendocino County.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
WHEN DA EYSTER and his gofer on the Board of Supervisors, Ted Williams, say that the criminal referral vs. illegally removed Chamise Cubbison from her elected Auditor-Controller position “came from the CEO's office,” as if that office is above and beyond possibility of partisan taint, the horse laughs can be heard clear over the hill in Boonville. As if anything as daring as a criminal complaint could possibly arise independently from this CEO's office is highly unlikely unto impossible. (With Angelo as CEO anything the DA wanted, the DA got.) Note the vague attribution as “the CEO's office.” Who in the CEO's office? Names! We won't get a name because that phony attribution was purely the work of Eyster-Williams.
EYSTER-WILLIAMS wanted Cubbison out, and he and Williams got her out, taking down Ms. Kennedy with Cubbison, as if the dynamic duo of Eyster and Williams hadn't made it clear for the past two years they wanted Cubbison out, Eyster because Cubbison had the temerity to challenge Eyster's reimbursements, doing her job in other words. Williams? A natural born serf, anxious to serve the next rung up on the power ladder.
ALSO BOGUS, in my opinion, is the double investigation of Cubbison and Kennedy. The “CEO's office” requested that the Sheriff investigate some allegedly fishy accounting between Cubbison and Kennedy. That first investigation apparently wasn't sufficiently damning enough for DA Eyster because, in my opinion, it probably found no evidence of fiscal wrongdoing. Well, harrumphed Mendocino County's top law enforcement officer, we can't have a finding of innocence here, goddammit, so I'll get my DA's investigators on this Get Cubbison job, and I'll betcha they'll ferret out the evidence I'm looking for. And whaddya know. The Boss Man's investigators found The Gotcha. The DA says.
CUBBISON'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY, the formidable Chris Andrian, says he's seen “the evidence” and it's laughable. (My word). Andrian is, however, confident, and all of us are looking forward to the preliminary hearing where, if there's any justice left in the halls of Mendo justice this transparent use of legal authority to remove and ruin an elected official for guarding the public purse will be thrown out.
EYSTER'S the king of the County Courthouse. The entire apparatus fears him, from judges on down to the daily coffle of hapless defendants, living confirmation of our class system. When I heard Cubbison's co-defendant, Ms. Kennedy, ask Judge Shanahan for a public defender Tuesday afternoon, I felt like screaming.
MENDO'S Public Defenders are no match for DA Eyster. This poor woman, jobless and beleaguered in her retirement years, not to mention publicly insulted by the conjured charges against her, needs a stout defense, which she is not going to get from the Public Defender. Cubbison's attorney, Andrian, has said he may defend Kennedy, too. Why not? The charges against both women are inextricably linked.
THIS FOUL MATTER is beginning to get outside attention. The Press Democrat had a couple of young reporters present for Tuesday's arraignment whose report was pretty good, so far as it went. (Mike Geniella's account was Geniella at his finest, an old-line journalo-master pulling together a complicated event in about three hours.) The more outside attention, the better. Official Mendo has never liked the outside media riding in to have a look at our outback machinations.
FORMER COUNTY OFFICIALS QUESTIONING CUBBISON CHARGES
by Mike Geniella
The integrity of suspended Auditor Chamise Cubbison, facing a felony criminal charge of misappropriation of public funds, is being unfairly questioned, according to two former county officials.
Duncan James, a former county District Attorney and head of a leading local law firm, said he is reviewing the state provision used by the Board of Supervisors to immediately suspend Cubbison without pay earlier this week even though she has not yet been able to enter an expected not guilty plea. James after a preliminary review of the government code the Board of Supervisors used said he wonders if it is applicable given the actions cited in the criminal complaint were in her role as Auditor and not Treasurer, which is the role the code specifically addresses.
“I seriously doubt being charged with a criminal offense makes it possible for the Board of Supervisors to suspend an elected official,” said James.
Chris Andrian, a Santa Rosa attorney representing Cubbison in the criminal case Eyster is pursing against the auditor, is too questioning the government code provision the Board of Supervisors used to take the extraordinary step of suspending an elected official without pay before the accused individual has a case adjudicated. Andrian is having an attorney who is considered a top labor law expert to review Cubbison’s case.
“In addition to defending her in the criminal matter, there may be a civil lawsuit here,” said Andrian.
James once ran for state Attorney General as a Republican and is widely respected statewide as a skilled trial attorney in civil and criminal cases.
James’ law firm has successfully represented Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall, who has had his own struggles with the current board. The James law firm also has successfully challenged the roles of other public agencies who have become embroiled in disputes with each other.
James’ questions are significant because his firm gave current District Attorney David Eyster his start in private practice locally. Eyster after having been fired in 1996 by former DA Susan Massini after a celebrated dust up entered private practice in Sacramento, and then returned to Ukiah to make a run in 2009 for DA here.
James said the irony is that the government code used against Cubbison, unless challenged, could be used against Eyster and any other elected official. “Be prepared the board could come for you,” said James.
James said he personally respects the opinion of former county Treasurer Shari Schapmire and others who have testified to the integrity and work ethic of Cubbison. The suspended Auditor found herself in the cross hairs of DA Eyster and board members following a forced consolidation of county financial offices two years ago.
Schapmire on Wednesday said, “In my experience directly interacting with Chamise Cubbison, I found her to be competent, meticulous, and dedicated to her duties.”
“That being said, others often found her to be abrupt, direct, and often times difficult,” said Schapmire.
“Shari is herself a person of integrity. I listen to what she has to say,” said James.
Schapmire, a 40-year county employee, stepped down early because of the board’s insistence, with Eyster’s backing, to consolidate the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector offices into one.
In a scathing letter of resignation written in December 2021, Schapmire told the Board of supervisors that their actions leading up to the forced consolidation would likely create chaos driven by politics.
“The actions of the Board over the last several months have been to force Chamise Cubbison to fail, to drive her from her role, and to leave the Treasurer-Tax Collector to pick up the scattered pieces,” wrote Schapmire.
Schapmire called the board’s consolidation plan “severely flawed.”
“You have managed to destabilize the entire financial engine of the county,” warned Schapmire.
ROADS AND COUNTY GOVERNANCE, AN EXCHANGE
I can’t imagine how all this drama at Mendo County Gubmint headquarters is going to help an already dire situation for County finances.
Making the shitshow shittier doesn’t help.
Take a drive up Albion Ridge road and you’ll feel the pain of an underfunded department as you bounce around in your vehicle.
And I don’t think hiring more staff will solve these problems. On the contrary, in my humble opinion
You’re definitely right about the shittier shit show making things more complicated. And also correct in your observation of a shitty county road. But, it’s my understanding that county road maintenance is under the control of a different department head. The BOS doles the dollars but, the poor decision making about how the road $ is used is up to another un-elected position. Correct me if I’m wrong please!
I drive the same route daily and my observation is that our road $$ are misappropriated. The current state of Comptche-Ukiah RD is, frankly, dangerous. All the wasted materials that we paid to have swept up and removed (then donated, free to “community piles”) (hundreds of cubic yards! mind you) from a botched job by a paid out of county contractor. There was enough wasted material to resurface most of the Albion ridge rd.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the work was and is fabulous and appreciated! Flynn Creek Road is awesome as well as the majority of Orr Springs rd. And Albion/LR cutoff is superb.
But for the 8 miles east of Tunzi grade to the coast on C-U Road it was a complete fail. I expect a lot of accidents this wet season. Be careful! It’s slicker than I’ve ever experienced in my 30yr driving tenure.
* * *
Forgive me, I have been storing up my Comptche Ukiah RD chip-seal fail rant for a year now… definitely off topic here! lol. And I’ll request an edit to my last… it’s the 8 miles from Tunzi – WEST to the coast. Oops!
RACHEL OLIVERI (Covelo):
I built some 50 cairns along a 25 mile stretch of dirt/gravel road in the outbacks of Northern California while delivering a USPS rural route. My customers loved them.
I have one of the longest USPS contract routes in the US - 150 miles - 2 counties - 3 zip codes - about 180 customers - super rural - 50 miles of gravel switchback roads with two summits 3000-3500 feet. The background is near the top of the first summit - Summit Valley - Cairn building started really small and then grew into something unintended as most things I tackle do. This is a collection of Cairns (free standing - self-supporting rock markers) just off a large collection of mailboxes for rural customers. It was built, literally, one or two rocks at a time over the course of Spring-Summer. I have a whole series of different sites that I will post if some find it interesting.
CHANGE OUR NAME FORT BRAGG TEACH-IN
Change Our Name Fort Bragg will hold a Teach-in, free and open to the public, at which reasons for and implications of a Fort Bragg name change will be discussed.
The three presenters will be John Fremont, publisher and former Civil Rights Freedom Rider, Lawyer Paula Goodwin, and psychologist Dr. Richard Louis Miller.
The program will be held on Tuesday October 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Library Community room. This program is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with the Mendocino County Library/Museum.
Philip Zwerling, Ph.D., http://www.philipzwerling.com
Change Our Name Fort Bragg, www.changeournamefortbragg.com
KALI YUGA ASCENDENT
Awoke early at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in sunny Ukiah, California. The spiritual reality which exists “prior to consciousness” controls the body and the mental factory. Sitting in the common room on the public computer tap, tap tapping away. Checked out the international news, to find that the abominable Kali yuga is in full bloom, as it segues into the Satya yuga, or age of truth and light. This world, (which is itself only a reflection of the source of all physical and mental manifestations), is environmentally imploding! Global climate destabilization is the primary existential dilemma of these times. As always, one needs to play one’s social role and play it well. Consider the role of the avatar. There are openings in the theater of life. What would you do in this world if you knew that you could not fail?
Craig Louis Stehr (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TREVOR MOCKEL: This was an amazing week! I had the incredible opportunity to tour METALFX with John Haschak and Henry Moss. METALFX’s operation is truly world-class, and we are incredibly lucky to have them right here in Mendocino County.
I was also fortunate enough to participate in the Mendocino Women's Political Coalition's candidate forum. It was an engaging discussion where we addressed many of the crucial issues facing our county. It is so inspiring to see so much passion and dedication Last but certainly not least, I had a blast attending both days of Pumpkin Fest. It was heartwarming to see so many people from our community come together and enjoy the exciting activities that Pumpkin Fest brought to downtown.
COLEMAN FOUND GUILTY OF ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, STRIKE.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations early Tuesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.
Defendant Jacob William Coleman, age 25, of Lakeport, was found guilty of a single count of felony assault with a deadly weapon.
After the jury was excused, a court trial was conducted in which the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had previously suffered a prior Strike conviction, to wit, felony Assault With a Firearm in the Lake County Superior Court in January 2022.
The prosecutor also proved-up six separate circumstances in aggravation, sentencing factors that may ultimately influence the state prison base term that the defendant may receive at his sentencing hearing.
When all the courtroom work was completed, the defendant’s case was referred to the Adult Probation Department for a background investigation and sentencing recommendation.
The defendant was ordered to be returned to court on November 14, 2023 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A of the Ukiah Courthouse for formal sentencing.
The law enforcement agency that interviewed the victim, witnesses, and gathered the evidence used at trial was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence at trial and argued for the verdict that was eventually returned was Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott McMenomey.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder presided over the two-day trial. Judge Faulder will also preside over the November sentencing hearing.
BUILDING CLIMATE RESILIENCY IN THE NAVARRO WATERSHED COMMUNITY MEETING
November 11th at the Anderson Valley Grange 8:30-12:30
THE POPULAR ANDERSON VALLEY HOLIDAY BAZAAR IS BACK!
Calling all crafters and holiday elves! The Anderson Valley Unity Club is now accepting vendors to sell their wares at the Holiday Bazaar on December 9th, 2023 from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville.
Rent a booth for only $35 to sell your crafty creations and unique gifts to eager shoppers who are looking to buy local goods.
Space is limited, so reserve your space soon. First come, first served.
Reserve with Elizabeth Wyant at 707-272-3192, email@example.com
FROM THE GROUND UP
The following excerpts originally appeared in the Mendocino Beacon on April 17 and May 1, 1975. The authors are unknown.
April 17, 1975
The Kelley House began its new life as Mendocino Historical Research, Inc. (MHRI) headquarters on April 5, 1975. That was the day Robert O. Peterson presented the deed to the board of directors.
[MHRI was founded by Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins and incorporated on November 27th, 1973. Peterson was the founder of the Jack-in-the-Box fast food chain and the then owner of the Mendocino Hotel.]
Almost immediately three workers, experienced gardeners, donned heavy gloves and long sleeves and started clearing the grounds. Under the thick tangle of blackberry vines and long overgrown shrubs, they found old walkways, camellia bushes as tall as trees, little wire fences marking off garden areas, old-fashioned rose bushes with branches 10 feet long, and an old tool shed.
By the end of April or sooner, if possible, the directors hope to welcome visitors to the room downstairs, the northeast room, which is to become the office and library. In the meantime, one may read about the history of the Kelley House in the Mendocino Historical Review. The spring issue is a special edition devoted to the Kelley family, the house, and plans for it.
[A copy of the issue, no longer in print, is available to peruse in the 50th Anniversary Exhibit, Kelley House Museum: Building a Home.]
May 1, 1975
Day by day, as the blackberry vines give way to the clippers and mattock, a picture emerges of the garden that was. It is now known where the “kitchen garden” was planted: Dorr Bothwell [an artist who came here in 1961] remembers the rows of cabbages.
The pink Duchess rose by the kitchen door is almost as old as the house. To the west of the house on Albion Street is a small shed and near it are two rose bushes, one very dark pink called American Pillar, one of the very first roses (information from the Kelley family). The gardeners were not able to find the “Grosmutter” white rose planted by Eliza Kelley many years ago.
Plans for the restoration of the house will, as far as possible, include the grounds.
Engineering plans for restoration of the house are completed. Applications for permits have been made to the Historical Review Board and the Coastal Commission and MHRI finds no difficulty in complying with their requirements. Bids are coming in for painting and replacement of broken or lost ornaments. Francis Jackson is general contractor for the restoration and is assessing the first order of work which will be the foundation. Progress will depend upon availability of funds.
And did you notice? Monday, John Zunino mowed the grass. As a donation.
(Some tasks are perpetual; the care and upkeep of our beautiful grounds is one of them. If you can volunteer as a gardener or contribute to our gardening funds, please contact the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org)
HERE'S ONE OF THOSE tangential occurrences of history involving the sister counties of Mendocino and Sonoma, the town of Willits and onetime notable Fort Bragg and Willits commercial photographer H. H. Wonacott. The latter's grand-niece got her own share of childhood fame, thanks to a Hollywood producer and one Alfred Hitchcock back in 1942.
Fort Bragg Advocate & News December 9, 1942, page 2:
Little Miss Wonacott A Hit In The Movies— The young lady referred to in the following article is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. Wonacott of Santa Rosa, former residents of Willits, and the grandniece of H. H. Wonacott of Fort Bragg:
Louella O. Parsons says, “Never thought I would live to hear about a 10-year old youngster who'd rather go to school than be an actress—but Edna Mae Wonnacott [sic], who plays Theresa Wright's kid sister in 'Shadow of a Doubt,' is it. Edna Mae is the little girl Alfred Hitchcock discovered in Santa Rosa, and while she had no previous acting experience she was so sensational, Universal put her under contract. At first Edna Mae was thrilled with being a movie star. Then homesickness set in. “I've seen everything,” she told the startled bosses. “I've got Charles Boyer's autograph and I've eaten at the Brown Derby. Now I want to go back to school.”
Edna Mae might have been granted her wish if the studio had not sneak-previewed the movie the other night, and it turns out the kid is a riot. She's so good her option was not only immediately taken up by her parents, but Jack Skirball wants to send her back to Broadway for a featured role in the Franz Werfel play, “Jacobowsky and the Colonel,” which he just bought. Now everybody is happy, but junior Miss Wonnacott [sic], who is crying her eyes out. “It's a dirty shame,” is the reluctant star's only comment.
Closing note: Edna May Wonacott (spelling of her screen name, per imdb.com) was born in Willits February 6th, 1932 and received three credited film roles and five uncredited roles between her appearance in the 1943 release of Shadow of a Doubt and her final and only role in the 1952 TV series production, episode one, “Biff Baker U. S. A.” Among her uncredited roles came in 1945 was an appearance as the character 'Delphine Ford' in 1945 release of “The Bells of St. Mary's”. While producer Jack H. Skirball may have wanted her in the 1943 live New York stage production of 'Jacobowsky and the Colonel' that role of “a young girl” went to another actress, and Edna Wonacott stayed on with Universal Studios until 1952.
When interviewed back in 2020, she clearly remembered how she got her break-out role with Hitchcock, simply by being curious about what he and Skirball were doing, standing on a downtown Santa Rosa street corner. She simply went over and asked them.
Before the day was out she was cast as little Ann in the film and that night off to Los Angeles by train with her mother for a screen test at Universal Studios. She found it easy to act while having never had any interest in acting, and said she just took directions from Hitchcock and the other adult actors. In between she got her schooling on and off-set, and over time developed some friendships with Joseph Cotton, the Hitchcock family, and Ingmar Bergman.
And lastly, some arcane film trivia: when the second remake of "Shadow of a Doubt" was filmed in the 1990s, Santa Rosa was again used for key scenes and the train, borrowed from California State Railroad Museum at Old Sacramento, was brought up over the Northwestern Pacific Railroad to Willits and turned around before returning south for other filming sequences before returning to the museum.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, October 19, 2023
ROBERTO BALANDRAN, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, conspiracy, probation violation.
ERIC GARCIA, Redwood Valley. Under influence.
CHAD HAKE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-under influence, burglary tools, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JENNYFER HALLMARK-DUMAN, Ukiah. Organic drug sales.
JOSEPH HART, Laytonville. Parole violation.
JUSTICE MENEAR, Ukiah. Shoplifting.
ROSAMOND OWSTON, Point Arena. Controlled substance for sale.
ROBIN ROHRER, Fort Bragg. DUI with prior felony conviction while on court probation, resisting, probation revocation.
PEDRO SALDANA, Boonville. Controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, conspiracy, probation violation.
SCOTT STANTON, Willits. Failure to appear.
JOSHUA TVEIT-LODGE, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
ALEC WHYBURN, Ukiah. Mandatory supervision violation.
LYDELL WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
HYPER REGULATION COMING SOON TO MENDO
When I was younger I watched a movie by Monty Python I think? In one scene Mosses is holding up three stone tablets and yelling about the 15 commandments, but he dropped one tablet and it shattered on the ground. So Moses barely misses a beat and starts yelling about the 10 commandments.
Sonoma County has a whole bunch of their own commandments. I will share. Around April or May of this year the neighborhood that I live in was buzzing with rumors that the Sonoma County fire agencies were going to inspect every property in the county. The goal of course was to prevent, slow and stop fires in the county. Sure enough fire personnel started showing up unannounced for inspections. Since then they have been very busy. Apparently they have already inspected almost all the private properties in the County of Sonoma.
So, here's the rub. The fire inspectors have many demands that are life altering in some cases. Propane tanks must be 20 feet or more from any structures, setbacks, trees, brush, tallgrass, limbs, nothing under porches, fences to be removed. No firewood within 30 feet of any structure. The list goes on and on. Keeping people safe is great, but…
So the fire inspector told us to call when we were ready for our inspection. So we got to work, and put in hours and hours of work. Less than two weeks later they showed up unannounced again. They were very happy with our progress but made even more demands.
Almost fifty acres is a lot of land to harden against wildfires. Blackberry bushes must be knocked down to four inches and then removed and don’t disturb the soil or the EPA will come with penalties in hand. One inspector says fifty foot setbacks (four inches high max) from any forested area. The next inspector says it has to be a hundred foot setback.
To create a fifty foot setback around ten acres of blackberries will take a crew of four with all the proper equipment about a month. A hundred foot setback around the same ten acres will be multiplied by about 5x the cost and work. Including a lot of tree removal. Some of the equipment would include woodchipper, dumptruck, chainsaws, weed whacker, heavy boots, and clothing suitable for poison oak and blackberries. This is going to financially ruin a bunch of seniors and people that have already tightened their belts as much as they can. If you can’t do it yourself then you have to hire someone. Hey, all it takes is money. We are getting into six figures in some cases. Get it done or else!
Three days ago, the Sonoma County Code Enforcement shows up unannounced and commanded that we remove any unregistered motor vehicles from the property. Even if the vehicle is on a current NON OP status. Bruce, I have to either register the car that you were nice enough to give me, or get rid of it. This car does not leave the property and I use it every day to exercise my two 150 lb dogs so as I don’t mess up my wife’s Camry. I have to register a vehicle that will never drive on the highway! (WTF?!) We have thirty days or else! One of the tenants has at least 15 collector cars that he is trying to sell. Get it done or else. This guy was trying to make a little money and enjoy fooling around with a hobby! Thirty days, got it?
Usually right round this time of year (before the rain) the EPA goes around the county and barks its own commands. At this point some people are being triple teamed by these overzealous government agencies! People are already feeling beat down by all the calamities that have befallen us over the last years!
In the Press Democrap, not a work, nothing, nada, zilch! They have a regularly published section dedicated to the all powerful wine industry. Wine and Feast, shows the winos how to drink the right booze with their cheese or whatever. Wine people are totally uninteresting until they are into their third glass. How about a section dedicated to tracking how many accidents involving drunk yuppie scum in their bullet proof $100,000 SUV’s. And maybe how many assault cases involving drunks. In a nutshell Oaky Joe says to the Press Democrap “Get a fucking spine and do some real reporting about these real issues.”
In my humble opinion, this is yet another money grab by our hyper regulatory regime run by their high paid pencil pushing terrorists. And we are paying them to do this to us through taxes, fines, and liens. Shame on the government! We have not seen our government at its best yet! Do what you are told and don’t piss off anyone in government or suffer the consequences.
We need a couple of wealthy people with a good lawyer or two, to take on these out of line regulators. If they don’t regulate they have to get another job! They can’t sue PG&E effectively so it only makes sense that they target the people they can mostly beat up. It is better for the County of Sonoma to make the landowners second property owners that live most of the time elsewhere! Less wear and tear on the local infrastructure, reduce water use, and still collecting taxes at the same time (what could be better). This shit is coming to Mendocino County sooner than later probably.
I have to try to find the solutions and not just complain. So how about the firemen with all their equipment find the landowners that really need them and help them satisfy the commands laid on them. Build community and get some exercise besides lifting weights at the firehouse.
Oaky Joe Munson
PS. Did you know it is a scientific fact that scum rises to the top?
THE DAO OF PHYSICS
An Hypothesis: Ideas of, from, and about The Daodejing In Nature: All major physical systems are cyclic.
The universe is endowed with a fixed, finite amount of matter-energy, which is constant throughout its lifetime. Space is not nothing — it has structure. There is no time apart from it. Space-time is flexible, warpable. There is no universe-wide single instant except possibly at the very start of the Big Bang. The phenomenon of “nothingness” is nowhere to be found. The Big Bang had to come out of something. It seems that just about everyone has given up on where it came from, except to say, “Well then, God did it — Hallelujah!”
It has been discovered that the physical universe we live and move in is only 20% of the whole thing, so there is 80% of it whereof we know not. It is undetectable except to determine its mass. (There is indeed a there there.) We call it Dark Matter. So what is it and where? We don’t know what it is, but in fact it is right here. It permeates and pervades all. There is no place where it is absent. It is here, there, within, without — it is oceanic in its presence. It is now, it is then, it is what will be.
It is co-existent with our everyday knowable physical world. It is the much-suspected “next door” dimension, and a far greater reality than the one we know. It is eternal — no beginning or end. This is the Dark Matter which we know of, but little or nothing more. We need a word for it.
The sages of ancient China have given us the word for it. The word is Dao. (By God, Eureka! Have we found it?) It is the Dao, out of which the great creation — explosion has erupted! Of which the sages say is the mother of all things! Behold it has birthed a universe! Out of the Eternal is born the Temporal! The creation-explosion burst out in all directions and dimensions possible. Then the new universe began developing: vortexually and fractally, from larger to smaller spirals — all with right or left spins.
And so it will unfold through the ages and eons and kalpas and crores of time — toward its great-grand finality of returning to whence it came. This will be accomplished by mighty vortexes of the ubiquitous black holes of the now-old universe. Their gravity is relentless and will prevail — drawing everything and then themselves back into the Dao. The manifest and the unmanifest are the same Dao.
At the heart of the DAO, from everlasting to everlasting, there dwells the most secret mystery of all that is.
The sages say that the truest way to speak of the Dao is to be silent. A silence more eloquent than words. A pregnant silence.
OMEGA … OM
UTILITY BILLS ABOUT TO SKYROCKET IN CALIFORNIA
A plan devised behind closed doors at the state PUC would impose stiff monthly fixed charges on customers — even if they use less energy.
by Alexis Woodtke
Californians have some of the highest energy bills in the nation. For millions of us, those bills are about to skyrocket further. And I’m guessing you haven’t even heard about it.
I certainly hadn’t until recently, and I’m a retired regulatory attorney with decades of experience practicing public utility law who used to track these things for a living.
The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates our state’s investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Co. — has been quietly working on new electricity rates that would increase bills for most customers across the state. The commission is creating a new rate structure based on customers’ income that will force most people to pay high fixed fees that don’t take into account how much energy they use. And it is doing it all behind closed doors. The commission has denied requests to hold public hearings on the proposal.
That’s not how this is supposed to work — especially with how significant these changes will be for so many Californians.
Here’s what’s on the table: The utilities and some aligned organizations are proposing a new fixed charge of from $30 to $70 per month for most ratepayers. A single parent with an annual income of $40,000 living in an apartment in the Bay Area would see their bill go up by around $20 per month. Same for a family of four living in a condo making $76,000, as well as teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and other working people. These fixed fees being proposed by California’s investor-owned utilities would be by far the highest in the country. And those hikes aren’t following standard practice for how things are done.
The entire utility tax mess began in July 2022, when the state Legislature hastily pushed through a vote on AB205, a 21,000-word piece of legislation that contained just a few short paragraphs that eliminated the $10 cap on fixed charges that have been in place since 2013. There were no public hearings, no debates and the fixed charge was introduced just 96 hours before it was voted on and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. This is highly unusual, especially for something so consequential. I’m guessing that many legislators didn’t even know what they were voting on and have heard as much from town hall meetings with several legislators. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work.
Here’s what should be happening: Each year one of California’s investor-owned utilities, such as PG&E, submits a proposal to the state Public Utilities Commission to change their electricity and gas rates — almost always asking for them to increase. When they do this, they are required to provide notice to the customers in their service territory — who will pay these new rates. At this point, regular people are allowed to weigh in and provide input and feedback to the utilities and to the commission about these proposals. There are hearings, and more often than not, the commission lets the utility raise rates on consumers, though not as high as the utility would like.
This is the normal process. It’s transparent, and the public can participate and suggest changes to proposals that are harmful. Other states set rates the same way.
But that’s not what’s happening in this fixed fee proceeding. Instead, investor-owned utilities have found an end around that would essentially tax California ratepayers each month before they’ve even turned on a light switch. This is an extraordinary change in the way new rates are developed — no other state in the country does what California is considering. This is not something that should be negotiated secretly, away from the public.
There are procedural norms that should be followed for any utility changes. These norms allow for public input and feedback to be considered. Otherwise, millions of Californians will see their bills go up and won’t know why. And they won’t be able to do anything about it.
How can we expect the public to know, let alone react, to these proposals when the process has been so under wraps?
On top of procedural flaws, there are other flaws. A climate advocacy group, the Clean Coalition, conducted an analysis that found these plans would punish those living in energy-efficient apartments and smaller dwellings by forcing them to pay a disproportionately large share of utility costs. Those who have installed energy-saving appliances, insulation and other measures to conserve electricity will similarly see those efforts stymied by the new rate structure. Most notably, because of the high-fixed fee, people will be more likely to keep gas-fired appliances like water heaters, and heating and air conditioning systems, than switch to all-electric ones. Why pay for clean and efficient systems if your energy rates are going to skyrocket regardless?
This, of course, threatens to slow our state’s fight against climate change. And it is contrary to what the utilities have been saying.
So where does this leave us?
What’s happening is disheartening, but not grounds for giving up. Regular people need to make themselves heard. Add your name to those posting complaints on the California Public Utilities Commission website, the only venue where it is allowing people to raise their voices. Message your state legislator or Gov. Newsom, who signed off on this proposal. Urge them to open the process up to the public so that people can have a say in what these investor-owned utilities are trying to do.
(Alexis Wodtke is a regulatory attorney with decades of experience practicing before public utilities commissions. She lives in Oakland.)
'I don't think anybody could ever question my honesty or integrity in boxing. Of course I received offers to throw fights, and not only against Graziano or LaMotta. Other fights, too, but the mobsters soon got to know that I wouldn't play ball. I could have been a much richer man had I listened to these people and had believed in fortune over fame.'
- Sugar Ray Robinson
THE NEW YORK TIMES TAKES ANOTHER L
While officials demand more social media crackdowns over the Israeli crisis, politicians and the corporate press are making the most damaging mistakes
by Matt Taibbi
America’s paper of record had a rough week. In a flub that ensnared numerous “authoritative” news sources, the New York Times jumped the gun on the Ahli Arab Hospital disaster in Gaza City, going early with the headline:
Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say
When reports surfaced that the explosion that reportedly killed 500 was a misfire of a Palestinian rocket, the paper made quick changes. The next headline read, “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” removing the “Israeli” part of the mistake. The one after that read “At Least 500 Dead in Blast at Gaza Hospital,” removing the second, “strike” portion of the error.
The paper then printed a classic Timesian think piece, “After Hospital Blast, Headlines Shift With Changing Claims,” which rolled out J-school profs and other authorities to explain the “difficulty” of reporting in fraught environments. As podcast partner Walter Kirn pointed out, the money quote read:
A Times spokesman said, “We report what we know as we learn it.”
The Times obviously never “knew” Israel bombed the hospital, because that never happened. This is similar to the pronouncements of officials like Anthony Fauci about Covid-19 during the pandemic. Fauci explained early misstatements by saying things like, “When you talk to the public… you will have to change as new data and new evidence come out.” But that isn’t what happened, in most cases. Often, Fauci and others simply got things wrong even when they had correct facts available in the moment, but pliant media let them get away later with blaming “new evidence.”
The first two weeks of the Israel-Gaza crisis saw a succession of similar official misinformation episodes. Joe Biden in an address said “I never thought that I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” only to have a “national security official” come out shortly after and tell NPR the president was referring to “media reports.” The “40 babies on gurneys” story went through a similar journey in Israel, while the Gaza hospital fiasco continued to be told the wrong way even after high-profile corrections, including in an outdoor speech by congresswoman Rashida Tliab.
All of this made it even more astounding (as Walter and I will discuss tomorrow) that officials in both Europe and the United States this week demanded Internet platforms clamp down on ordinary posters in response to the crisis, as if the overwhelming majority of the misplaced panic so far hadn’t come from bureaucrats and elected officials playing hot-take telephone with a tragedy.
The events of the last weeks are perfect examples of why we can’t let official truth squads become reality. In times of great anxiety, too few public figures know how to admit, “I don’t know,” and make compounding errors instead. Better to be late and sure, than fast and this week’s New York Times.
* * *
A brief clarification
After the just-published New York Times story, several commenters have pointed out that despite subsequent reports to the contrary, it’s not known absolutely for certain what happened at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. There are still claims out there that it was indeed an Israeli attack, or could have been. This is why you’re seeing officials like Ilhan Omar call for a “fully independent investigation” into what happened.
Ultimately, that’s irrelevant. If the Times wasn’t planning on sticking by its sources, its only option was to print a blame-neutral headline. They didn’t, and now they’re in worst-case scenario land, issuing a high profile OOPS in a maelstrom of criticism. Whether they got it wrong the first time or succumbed to pressure later, they made a mess that could have been avoided by playing it safe.
Newspapers in recent years have moved away from the “He said, she said” rhetorical method critics now tell them is out of date in the moral clarity era. In situations where you really aren’t sure of facts, however, it’s the only way to go, and outlets are paying the price for moving away from the format.
I’M GOING TO TELL YOU A STORY that is hard to believe. I am now in Crete continuing my search to explore the story of my mother's great grandmother Maria Marinakis, who was born in about 1810 in Asfendou, Sfakiá, Crete. As we always do, we ask anyone we meet if they are familiar with the names of people I am looking for. We asked a friendly worker at a bakery if she knew anyone named Marinakis in the area. She said no, but that she would call the mayor. He said to send us to his office and he would try to help us. He told us there was one man named Marinakis, but they did not have his cell phone number or any way to contact him. As we were talking his secretary came in to say there was a very big coincidence and Mr. Marinakis is here to pay his water bill. In comes Vaggelis Marinakis from Asfendou - the very name and village we were looking for! Vaggelis tells us to get our car and follow him back up the mountain to show us the Marinakis property. We spend an hour touring the homes and he shows us the one that he thinks would most likely have been Maria’s. We made arrangements to return with kids and grandkids who were arriving in a couple of days. Here are the grandkids looking at the loft area where the girls would have slept. I gave Vaggelis copies of all the documents and research I had done and he will write down all the names he knows of the Marinakis from Asfendou. Now we have a connection and a network of people working to understand what happened to the family members who managed to escape the Turks in 1821 when the rebellion failed here on Crete.
— Valerie Hanelt
BIDEN DECLARES ISRAEL AND UKRAINE SUPPORT IS VITAL FOR US SECURITY, WILL ASK CONGRESS FOR BILLIONS
by Chris Megerian and Seung Min Kim
WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring that U.S. leadership "holds the world together,” President Joe Biden told Americans on Thursday night the country must deepen its support of Ukraine and Israel in the middle of two vastly different, unpredictable and bloody wars.
Acknowledging that “these conflicts can seem far away,” Biden insisted in a rare Oval Office address that they remain “vital for America’s national security" as he prepared to ask Congress for billions of dollars in military assistance for both countries.
“History has taught us when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction,” Biden said. “They keep going. And the cost and the threat to America and the world keep rising.”
Biden’s speech reflected an expansive view of U.S. obligations overseas at a time when he faces political resistance at home to additional funding. He's expected to ask for $105 billion on Friday, including $60 billion for Ukraine, much of which would replenish U.S. weapons stockpiles provided earlier.
There’s also $14 billion for Israel, $10 billion for unspecified humanitarian efforts, $14 billion for managing the U.S.-Mexico border and fighting fentanyl trafficking and $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, which includes Taiwan. The proposal was described by three people familiar with the details who insisted on anonymity before the official announcement.
“It’s a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,” Biden said.
He hopes that combining all of these issues into one piece of legislation will create the necessary coalition for congressional approval. His speech came the day after his high-stakes trip to Israel, where he showed solidarity with the country after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and pushed for more humanitarian assistance to Palestinians.
With Israel continuing to bombard the Gaza Strip and preparing a ground invasion, Biden placed an increased emphasis on the deadly toll that the conflict has had on civilians there, saying he's “heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life."
“Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace,” Biden said. He also warned about a rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the U.S., noting the killing of Wadea Alfayoumi, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy.
“To all you hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong," Biden said. "And I want to say this to you. You're all Americans.”
The White House said that after his speech, the president and first lady Jill Biden spoke over the phone with Wadea’s father and uncle to express their “deepest condolences" and share their prayers for the recovery of the boy's mother, who was also stabbed.
Biden included in his remarks a warning to Iran's leaders, who have supported Hamas in Gaza and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and said the U.S. “will continue to hold them accountable.”
As Biden seeks a second term in a campaign that will likely hinge on voters' feeling about the economy, he was careful to emphasize that the spending will create jobs for U.S. workers, referencing the construction of missiles in Arizona and artillery shells in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.
And he worked in a nod to one of his political heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by saying that “just as in World War II,” the country is “building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.”
Biden faces an array of steep challenges as he tries to secure the money. The House remains in chaos because the Republican majority has been unable to select a speaker to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted more than two weeks ago.
In addition, conservative Republicans oppose money for sending more weapons to Ukraine as its battle against the Russian invasion approaches the two-year mark. Biden's previous request for funding, which included $24 billion to help with the next few months of fighting, was stripped out of budget legislation last month despite a personal plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
There will be resistance from some on the other side of the political spectrum when it comes to military assistance for Israel, which has been bombarding the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
Critics have accused Israel of indiscriminately killing civilians and committing war crimes by cutting off essential supplies including food, water and fuel.
Bipartisan support for Israel has already eroded in recent years as progressive Democrats have become more outspoken in their opposition to the country's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory, which is widely viewed as illegal by the international community.
There are rumbles of disagreement within Biden's administration as well. Josh Paul, a State Department official who oversaw the congressional liaison office dealing with foreign arms sales, resigned over U.S. policy on weapons transfers to Israel.
“I cannot work in support of a set of major policy decisions, including rushing more arms to one side of the conflict, that I believe to be short-sighted, destructive, unjust and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse,” he wrote in a statement posted to his LinkedIn account.
A speech from the Oval Office is one of the most prestigious platforms that a president can command, an opportunity to try to seize the country’s attention at a moment of crisis. The major television networks broke into regular programming to carry the address live.
Biden has delivered only one other such speech during his presidency, after Congress passed bipartisan budget legislation to avert a default on the country’s debt.
The White House and other senior administration officials, including Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, have quietly briefed key lawmakers in recent days about the contours of the planned supplemental funding request.
The Democratic Senate plans to move quickly on Biden’s proposal, hoping that it creates pressure on the Republican-controlled House to resolve its leadership drama and return to legislating.
However, there are disagreements within the Senate, too, on how to move forward. Eight Republicans, led by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, said they did not want to combine assistance for Ukraine and Israel in the same legislation.
“These are two separate and unrelated conflicts and it would be wrong to leverage support of aid to Israel in an attempt to get additional aid for Ukraine across the finish line,” they wrote in a letter.
North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said he was fine with the proposal as long as there was also a fresh effort to address border issues. But he said "it’s got to be designed to secure the border, not to facilitate travel through the border.”
Although there was a lull in migrant arrivals to the U.S. after the start of new asylum restrictions in May, illegal crossings topped a daily average of more than 8,000 last month.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who leads a Senate panel that oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security, was wary of any effort to overhaul border policy during a debate over spending.
"How are we going to settle our differences over immigration in the next two weeks?” Murphy said. “This is a supplemental funding bill. The minute you start loading it up with policies, that sounds like a plan to fail.”
Biden's decision to include funding for the Indo-Pacific in his proposal is a nod toward the potential for another international conflict. China wants to reunify the self-governing island of Taiwan with its mainland, a goal that could be carried out through force.
Although wars in Europe and the Middle East have been the most immediate concerns for U.S. foreign policy, Biden views Asia as the key arena in the struggle for global influence.
The administration's national security strategy, released last year, describes China as “America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge.”
MORE WEAPONS WON'T HELP
The immediate reaction by the U.S. and the Biden administration to send more arms to Israel will do nothing to alleviate the inequity that is Israel the occupier of the Palestinian territories. The recent attack by Hamas represents not what we have been trained to label as terrorists, but a reaction of the Palestinian population in Gaza, as well as the West Bank, who have by and large suffered under military control, murder, settler attacks and home demolitions. Sending war ships, increasing an already bloated supply of the latest tech weaponry and sustaining the same apartheid that has made their lives a mere existence will only embolden a population seeking freedom.
Warren R. Smith
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As what many have referred to as a “quiet Jew” - more spiritual than religious, I have been appalled by the actions on both side of this horrific situation. I believe there will never be peace in the Middle East until the rights of the Palestinian people as well the Israeli people are recognized and respected. I don’t believe that this is a fight for or against Jews and Israel - it is a fight for humanity. The United States should be taking a lead role in calling for a ceasefire and bringing the world community together in a call for peace.
CHOOSE YOUR POINT OF VIEW
by Ahmed Moor
The experience of being a Palestinian American in the US is bewildering. After days of devastating bombardment, Israeli troops are massing on the border with Gaza. My state of mind has become uncoupled from the material reality of my life in Philadelphia. Everyday activities – greeting neighbors, dropping my kids off at school – feel unreal. At the same time, I observe the ‘good guys’ – Biden, Blinken, Starmer – express a deadly condescension to Palestinians and a disregard for Palestinian lives: the lives of children who look like mine.
I was born in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. As a boy, my only interactions with Israelis were at checkpoints or looking down the barrel of a gun. When I read the Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant’s words describing us as ‘human animals’, I understood his point of view perfectly. Dehumanizing the other is easy. It’s easy to think the other side doesn’t really comprise people, that the Zionists are fundamentally different from us, interested only in domination, control and apartheid.
I’m part of a generation that was recruited to the Seeds of Peace summer camps and cultural exchanges organized by elderly white liberals with good intentions. I mostly regarded their efforts with suspicion, as if the superficial embrace of what we were supposed to have in common would override the structural basis of our differences. Or to paraphrase Aaron David Miller on why Oslo failed: the power imbalance between occupied and occupier precludes the possibility of any real exchange among people. The US, in Miller’s opinion, acted as ‘Israel’s lawyer’. He isn’t the only one to have said so.
Many of us at the time, weighing the lofty pronouncements from Washington against the reality of life in the Occupied Territories – the daily encroachment of settlements, backed by the Israeli army – could see that Oslo was a naked ploy. I was fourteen at the time, but could see that the ‘peace process’ was an elaborate effort to consolidate ill-gotten gains, to move past the Nakba – and launder the proceeds of ethnic cleansing – without any kind of moral reckoning or acknowledgment. I was living it, and twenty-five years later I take no satisfaction in having been right.
My view of Israelis, peaceniks and Likudniks alike, didn’t change until I was at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. The Second Intifada was raging and a former Israeli pilot, Yonatan Shapira, was in the news for refusing to serve. Shapira’s position was sincere and uncomplicated: he was no longer willing to take part in war crimes. His courage was my first introduction to what true solidarity – a fight for justice in Palestine/Israel – could mean.
Since then I’ve met and worked alongside many Jewish people and Israelis who belong to the anti-Zionist movement for justice, including Jewish Voice for Peace. And I’ve had ample opportunity to reflect on the birthright lottery that casts us into one camp or the other. I’ve learned that you don’t choose your tribe; you choose your point of view.
For us, solidarity is not predicated on sporting events, or shared affinities for certain kinds of food, but on a non-negotiable commitment to human rights. International humanitarian law is the blueprint for the set of standards we seek to hold one another to. I don’t like Yoav Gallant and I don’t like what he represents, but I recognize his inalienable rights as a human being. For those of us who’ve worked for justice in Palestine/Israel on that basis, the current moment is a calamity. But it’s also an opportunity for moral clarity.
As I write this I think about what my family is experiencing in Gaza. I think about my cousin, his wife and their children who were killed in Khan Younis yesterday. I think about their young son, who survived, but has no future. I think about the 22 people sheltering in the darkness in my aunt’s battered apartment, with barely any water to go around between them. And I call on people of conscience to press their leaders for an immediate ceasefire. I call for the human rights of the Palestinians.
DISAGREEMENTS DELAY EFFORTS TO OPEN GAZA AID CORRIDOR
Diplomats said Egypt and Israel remained at odds over the details of getting humanitarian relief through the Rafah crossing. Among the disputes are whether to allow in fuel and how to screen convoys for arms.
by Patrick Kingsley and Nadav Gavrielov
With the humanitarian situation growing more desperate in Gaza, the Rafah crossing between the blockaded territory and Egypt still hasn’t opened to aid, a day after a United Nations-led deal appeared to have had laid the groundwork to allow trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to enter.
Diplomats familiar with back-channel talks were pessimistic about it opening at all on Friday, amid ongoing disagreements between Egypt and Israel on issues including how to institute a regular schedule of aid convoys, whether to allow in fuel and how to screen the convoys for arms.
The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, visited the Rafah crossing on Friday and said talks were underway “with all the parties” to clarify any conditions on the movement of aid.
Gaza had already been living under a 16-year blockade by Israel and Egypt when Israel responded to the Hamas attack that killed 1,400 people this month with airstrikes and a “complete siege” of the enclave. Now, nearly half of the more than two million people living in Gaza have been displaced, according to the United Nations, and essential supplies like food and fuel are running out ahead of a widely anticipated Israeli ground invasion.
Previous agreements to provide aid have fallen through, but President Biden has said that Israel and Egypt had agreed to let through trucks full of food, water and medicine that are waiting in Egypt.
Here are other developments:
- In an Oval Office address on Thursday night, Mr. Biden linked Israel and Ukraine as he made his case for providing aid to both countries, saying that they face threats of annihilation by tyrants and terrorists. Mr. Biden is expected to request $14 billion in military and security aid to Israel for its war against Hamas and $60 billion for Ukraine to fight Russia, according to people familiar with the administration’s plans.
- American intelligence agencies have assessed that an explosion at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday killed 100 to 300 people — a more conservative estimate than that given by the health ministry run by Hamas — and that the hospital was lightly damaged, according to an unclassified report drafted by U.S. intelligence agencies on Wednesday.
- Israel’s military said it had been in contact with the families of 203 people taken hostage, raising the number of people believed to be held in Gaza. A leader of Hamas says that not all of the Israeli hostages who were taken to Gaza are being held by the group, a claim that will most likely complicate negotiations for their release.
- The U.S. State Department issued a rare worldwide travel advisory on Thursday, urging Americans to “exercise increased caution” because of heightened global tensions and the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations and violence “against U.S. citizens and interests.”
- A U.S. Navy warship in the northern Red Sea on Thursday shot down three cruise missiles and several drones launched from Yemen that might have been headed toward Israel, the Pentagon said. The incidents underscored the risks that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could spiral into a wider war.
UKRAINE, THURSDAY, 19 OCTOBER
Relations between Russia and North Korea have reached a “new, strategic level,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the beginning of his trip to Pyongyang Thursday, Russian state media reported.
Western officials have expressed alarm in recent months over deepening ties, accusing North Korea of supplying weaponry to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine. Russia and North Korea deny the allegations.
The trip to North Korea by Russia’s top diplomat comes hot on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to China this week, where Putin said Washington’s decision to supply long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine was “a mistake.”
During Putin’s visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the ties between Beijing and Moscow as the pair looked to strengthen their “no limits” partnership.
In other news, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country’s defense ministry is working to improve communication with troops and to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy.