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Mendocino County Today: Friday 2/23/24

Dry Days | Woods | Edie Ceccarelli | Budget Deficit Plan | Fresh Eggs | Election Fraud | Kitten Season | Seed Exchange | Ed Notes | Variety Show | Yee Appearance | Carmel Retirement | Dave Nelson | Yesterday's Catch | Happy Chickens | Cooks | AT&T Outage | Analog Device | First Smartphone | Wine Shorts | Bukowski Joy | Klamath Land | Flower Women | California Deficit | Arts & Crafts | America Weak | Almost Done | Ironing Wrinkles | Bethlehem Scar

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DRY WEATHER is forecast to prevail through this weekend. Patchy fog and low clouds are forecast each night in the interior valleys. On Monday, a colder weather system will bring a chance of light rain and snow. Periodic weather systems will bring rain and snow for the remainder of next week. There is the potential for heavy, low elevation snow late in the week. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A chilly 42F under clear skies on the coast this Friday morning. Dry skies & warm temps for the weekend then a big cool down next week. Rainfall returns later in the week but nothing like we have had recently.

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(photo by Falcon)

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Edie Ceccarelli, born before World War I, and a proud resident of her small hometown in Mendocino County, was the oldest living person in America and the second oldest on Earth. She was celebrated two weeks ago with a town parade.

by Chris Smith

Edith Ceccarelli, of Willits, the oldest living American who celebrated her 116th birthday earlier this month as the second oldest person in the world, has died.

Ceccarelli, who went by Edie, and whose Feb. 5 birthday was marked in grand fashion by her hometown in Mendocino County less than three weeks ago, died Thursday afternoon at the care home where she lived the past nine years.

Her cousin by marriage, Evelyn Persico, also of Willits, said Edie ate lightly earlier in the day and she dozed. One of the women who cares for her checked in on her in midafternoon. Edie’s heart had stopped.

She was beloved in Willits, not only because her longevity was so very far off the charts. Born Feb. 5, 1908, as Edith Recagno, she was adored for her kindness, her impeccable style, her lifelong passion for dancing and her love of children.

She savored a life that lasted almost incomprehensibly longer than that of nearly every other human being. She was vital and independent until well past age 100.

On Thursday, she was 116 years and 17 days old. There was one person on Earth older than she: Maria Branyas Morera of Spain, who on Thursday was 116 years and 355 days old. Maria’s 117th birthday is March 4.

Of the 8 billion people on Earth, the two women are the only to have reached 116 years. Only 29 people are known to have reached that age ever.

Ceccarelli was the oldest living American and lived longer than any other Californian on record.

On Feb. 4, a cold and wet day in the region, her caregivers at Willits’ Holy Spirit Residential Care helped her get dressed up and bundled up. She sat at a table in the home’s garage as a long parade of fire trucks, police cruisers and decorated pickups and cars drove slowly by.

Grownups and kids inside the vehicles called out “Happy birthday!” and “We love you, Edie.” The focus of all that community affection and pride did not comprehend what was happening, but she took in each moment of the unmistakably joyful celebration.

And when, inside the Holy Spirit home, Edie was presented a gorgeously decorated carrot cake emblazoned with “116,” she traced two fingers through the icing and she took a taste. Then she did it again.


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by Mark Scaramella

ITEM 4c on next Tuesday’s Agenda is:

“Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Presentation of a Budget Deficit Plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 23/24 and 24/25 Focusing on Revenue Management, Expense Management, and Leadership Accountability; and Direction to Staff as Needed.”

WHAT WAS supposed to sound like a major step forward in reducing the budget deficit was undermined right off the bat by the clumsy wording of the agenda item. Instead of saying “budget deficit reduction plan,” they call it a “budget deficit plan,” as if they were planning for a budget deficit.

In the attached “plan” there’s a series of steps under the important heading of “Property Taxes”:

• “Address findings from the 2017 Board of Equalization (BOE) audit: Address and rectify any issues identified in the 2017 BOE audit to enhance compliance and efficiency.”

Comment: Oh, that’s a great start! 2017? That was seven years ago

• “Enhance property tax management: Conduct a thorough review of property tax assessment methods, ensuring accuracy and identifying opportunities for improvement.”

Comment: In the attached schedule this item (#12 on the schedule) is supposed to be done by June 30 and is said to have been underway for the last two weeks or so. There is no reference to the specific tax collection problems that have been identified previously such as unassessed property improvements, unassessed structures, non-payment of taxes due… Therefore, there does not appear to be any real intent to get to the bottom of the tax collection deficit. Remember this deficit reduction item follows on the heel of last June’s Board Directive that the CEO report include a monthly report of assessment improvement statistics toward a very limited goal of putting half of the unassessed properties and structures onto the tax rolls. There hasn’t been a single report in the CEO Report, nor has there even been a significant oral report from the Assessor’s office other than they’ve hired more appraisers and they’ve issued some supplemental assessments.

• “Implement measures for auctions, liens, and delinquent accounts: Strengthen efforts to recover overdue property taxes through auctions, liens, and effective follow-up procedures.”

Comment: Here they at least identify the basic steps involved in collecting delinquent taxes, albeit after the fact, when all that’s left to do is impose liens on tax defaulted property. But listing the steps and taking the steps are two different things.

• “Optimize Aumentum for improved property tax administration: Leverage Aumentum, a comprehensive property tax management system, to streamline processes and enhance overall administration.”

Comment: The relatively new Aumentum property tax system — purchased by former CEO Carmel Angelo and implemented without a crossover period before it was accepted and approved — has been plagued with well known problems for years. Are we supposed to believe that those problems have been solved and the system can now be “enhanced”? As recently as last month Assessor Clerk Record Katrina Bartolomie was still saying that they were working with the vendor and IT and they were still working through the problems.

• “Establish performance tracking metrics and accountability measures: Develop key performance indicators to monitor the effectiveness of property tax initiatives and ensure accountability. 

Comment: “Performance tracking metrics”? “Accountability”? In Mendo? Har de har. 

The rest of the list of Budget Deficit (reduction) Plan items are simply titles without much substance. The text accompanying the “plan” is chock full the usual vague and highly UNaccountable language which is supposed to sound like action is being taken when it’s obviously not. There’s a heavy reliance on verbs like: Improve, investigate, optimize audit, evaluate, ensure, increase, prioritize, explore, leverage, enhance, emphasize, strengthen, etc. All words we’ve learned over the years which mean basically nothing.

We’ll have more about some of the specifics in the deficit plan list in the next few days. (Interestingly, the relocation of the Veterans Service Office is listed as a budget deficit plan item, for example.) But given the lack of specifics for most of the items, the “plan” reads more like a jargonized wish list, an attempt to flood the gullible with lots of empty verbiage about the budget deficit, when the particulars and the history demonstrate nothing of the sort.

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Meanwhile, the Spending As Usual Plan continues with items like Agenda Item 4d:

“Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Sideletter of Agreement Establishing a One-Time Hiring Bonus for the Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures or for an Assistant Agricultural Commissioner due to the Critical Need to Hire for the Position, in the Amount of Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000) Divided Over Three Years for Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures or Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000) Divided Over Three Years for an Assistant Agricultural Commissioner.”

What makes them think that throwing money at this position will produce results? Need we repeat the real problems with filling this position? (Yes. A Human Resources Department that the Grand Jury says is ill-managed; a very limited pool of candidates; a year of a part-time loaner Ag Commissioner from Sonoma County who was supposed to provide the County with time to hire a permanent replacement but did not, even though the year should have been plenty; an already very high base salary of at least $125k… plus very generous perks… Now they’re going to add hiring bonus? 

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The two mysterious closed session items from a couple of weeks ago about “Significant Exposure to Litigation Arising from Complaints Against a County Official” are still listed, worded exactly the same as before, apparently unresolved, and without any attempt to quantify the “exposure.”

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And then there’s an embarrassing new “exposure”: Closed Session Item 6f: “Anticipated Litigation: Significant Exposure to Litigation Arising from Mailing of Incorrect Ballots for March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election.” 

In other words, not only do the recent ballot snafus undermine the integrity of the upcoming election just a few days off (after hundreds if not thousands of people have already voted), but the County expects to be sued over it.

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So let’s see, multiple ballot snafus, paying the Interim County Counsel’s personal San Francisco law firm to advise (conflict of interest, misappropriation of county funds), and not a peep from any of the Supervisors or the DA. It took Adam Gaska to discover it – at his own expense! The question of election fraud must be raised and Bartolomie should be suspended immediately without pay. Just like the scenario of the manufactured charges against Cubbison. 

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Kitten season is about to begin! Please donate to Felines of Philo if you can. Jenifer Bird trapped, spayed, neutered and released 107 feral cats last year. It's not free and she depends on your donations. You can send a check to P.O .Box 610 Philo, Ca 95466 or use PayPal.

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This Saturday, February 24, 10 to 3, Anderson Valley Grange, Rain or shine!

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San Francisco here I come, right back where I started from…

Literally true for me. I landed as a two-year-old on the run from Pearl Harbor in 1941, first stop the Hawaiian evacuation center at the Fairmont Hotel, of all places, then to a pre-earthquake mansion on McAllister revamped as a series of murky apartments. 

I returned to San Francisco 82 years later for the first of two surgeries aimed at halting the spread of a cancer presently confined to a tumor pressing my wind tubes and voice box, the same nexus of conditions that killed Babe Ruth before he was fifty. 

Rather than load on the superlatives about the truly great hospital we all know the University of California (UCSF) at Mission Bay to be, I can confirm that everything you've heard about its medical singularity is true. 

Generations of Mendo People have headed south for the hope and help they can get at UCSF. The last days of my mother, my brother, my old friend Vern Piver, Postmaster Woody of Philo… all were patients at the crowded and hectic Parnassus hospital where for pure thrills the elevators were a memorable experience by themselves. 

The new Mission Bay “campus” is capacious, calm, uncrowded. “Campus” isn't far off. For a site that exists to remediate human misery, the hospital's large open spaces and broad hallways are indeed reminiscent of a contemporary college campus. And I thought of hospitals in Gaza, one of them bombed to rubble, was the size of Mission Bay. 

The brilliant doctor Ryan carved a hole in my throat this week so I can breathe but at the cost of my voice, which neither I nor my loved ones have missed. I anticipated considerable post-op pain. There was none. The pain I subsequently experienced, and it was excruciating, I brought on myself because I had managed not to notice that my urinary tract was blocked. Three attempts to slide emptying catheters failed until an hallucinatory appearance at 7am (!) by a tall, elegant, figure who might have been the Empress of China or had just stepped out of an opera box. She was my rescuing urologist. 

Undeterred at the foreboding sight of my battered pud, in less than five minutes she'd gotten 'er done. It was like your plumber showing up in a tuxedo to unclog your kitchen sink. My implausible urologist had my kitchen sink unclogged in five minutes, then with a merry “Have a nice day,” the apparition was gone, and I was alive again, two liters lighter.

At 84, my privacy, my modesty was lost the first day. There it was for the medical world to see, my battered scrotum, my defeated buttocks, all of it exposed to an unflinching array of female doctors and nurses. A word here: Men of my generation were raised in the John Wayne context. You never complained about pain, or much of anything, and that your nether regions might be exposed to female eyes was simply unthinkable. We were stoic, and gentlemanly. In theory.

I lingered in the ICU for a day where I met the first of the attending angels tasked with monitoring my grisly wounds. I was wired to machines in both arms, a moisturizing spigot blew damp arctic winds towards the hole in my throat. 

The nurses pre and post ICU were an unfailingly cheerful and efficient cadre who moved at what seemed to me to be an exhausting pace, which they kept up for an entire eight-hour shift. I asked Nurse Chu, a tiny dynamo who seemed to fairly sprint around the room, how many miles she walked in a day. She laughed, “Many, but I've never measured them.” And they all laughed when I kept rolling over on my emergency clicker, requiring a quick visit from a busy nurse to see what the incompetent in room 25 had screwed up this time.

Whatever nurses are paid, it's not enough for the skills they have to have. My mother was an RN at the old Ross Hospital in Kentfield, among other Marin hospitals. At Ross, visitors were offered wine and the paintings in the hallways were changed every day. And where nurses did most of the real work for starvation wages. When nurses unionized, my mother's pay went from $300 a month to $600. I don't know how prevalent her low opinion of doctors was in 1950, but she emphatically dismissed them all as “drunks and drug addicts.” (Hospital drug cabinets were un-monitored at the time) John Wayne himself was one of her patients while he made one of his cornball sagas at China Camp east of the Marin County Courthouse. “A real man, that one,” Nurse Anderson concluded. 

My Mission Bay nurses would check me then stare at overhead screens where my vital stats were registered. “A big part of our job,” a nurse told me, “is satisfying these machines.”

At every step in the six-day process, a doctor explained what was happening and why.

And now I'm at home where our bedroom is set up as a mini-medical center, and my wife — the dictionary definition of “long-suffering” — has become my nurse. 

My next battle with the Reaper is March 21st, after which I will know, approximately, how long I've got. Will I stumble on for a few more years as a medical burden to my family? Or will I at last join the majority?

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Betty Yee Will Be The Guest Speaker At The 40th Annual Women’s History Gala on March 3, 2024 at the SPACE Theater, 508 W. Perkins St. Ukiah. The doors will open at noon and the program will begin at 1 pm. Betty Yee served as California State Controller from 2015 to 2023 following 2 terms in the California Board of Equalization. She won her 2018 re-election to Controller with more votes than any candidate nationwide that year. Betty was the 10 women elected to statewide office in California’s history. As Controller she managed an $800 billion portfolio. She holds a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters in Public Administration. She serves on Boards of Directors for Golden Gate University, the College Futures Foundation, and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.Betty was a Fall 2023 Fellow with the University of Southern California Dornsife Center where she led a discussion and study group on governance and democracy. She serves as Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party and she will be a candidate for Governor in 2026.

Troyle Tognoli, Xochilt Morales de Martinez, Loreto Rojas and Diana Coryatt will be honored as women who lived the theme of Advocating for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Dance by SPACE’s Hip Hop Group, Music by Ukiah High School Ensemble and Poetry by Blake More and Michele Regelbruggs will round out the program. For the past 40 years, the Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition has sponsored this event with current co-sponsors including the Ukiah chapter of the American Association of University Women and the Cloud Forest Institute. 

Val Muchowski, Chair, Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition

(707) 234-9000

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HI, IT'S ME CARMEL ANGELO, enjoying the huge pension you Mendo saps laid on me for screwing up your county for good. 

Me, DA Dave, the pathetic wusses on the board of supervisors, we got 'er done! 

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David Taxis, a former Ukiah Daily Journal sports reporter and feature writer, captured Dave and his athletic background in a 2020 interview. Taxis, himself a Stanford graduate, died in 2021.

Here’s from the program when Dave Nelson was inducted into the Rochester Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

“I was a running quarterback and managed the field as well. It was a Wing-Tee, with the QB behind the center; 2 backs and a slot back. My identity was ‘athlete,’ as I practiced all the time, but I also had good grades and was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities (student council president and stuff).” JM had 1600 students in Rochester, located 1.5 hours SE of Twin Cities, Minn.

Dave continues: “My dad was the principal of the elementary school I went to. He was Danish and mom had German roots. I was recruited out of college for football but didn’t want to go to a Big 10 school, because they were too much like football factories. I had a built in prejudice against the east (Harvard and Yale), so a friend told me about Stanford. He ended up at UC Berkeley. I went to Stanford as a football player. I think my stats in track impressed them (21’9” in the long jump, second in the state in the 180 hurdles).”

“It was sleeting and snowing in Minnesota when I left for college. I arrived in San Francisco, where Assistant Coach Mike White picked me up and I awoke the next morning on the Stanford campus. It was a beautiful day, with women in short skirts. The first year, I started at QB for the Stanford Freshmen.

“John Ralston was head coach (Utah St, Stanford, Denver Broncos), that assembled an amazing group of coaches. He was (somewhat of a buffoon who treated people like slogans); later unpopular with that style coaching in the pros).”

“Tough guy, high energy, macho, Mike White (later Cal, Illinois, Raiders head coach) was the assistant.”

“Coach Bill Walsh (legendary Stanford; then 49er coach) came my sophomore year. Walsh coached the defensive backs, and we ran a simple 3 man zone; I was the safety. Walsh was sort of detached, (not in the trenches like Mike White), but he knew how to get the most out of us.”

“As a sophomore for the varsity, Coach Dick Vermeil (later head coach with the NFL Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, KC Chiefs) said, ‘Not Quarterback;’ We’ll try you at safety.’”

“Each year ‘The Big Game’ with Cal was the highlight.

In my junior year, I intercepted a pass, and recovered a fumble, so I was the star of that big game. I intercepted 5 passes and was All-Conference Honorable Mention in the Pacific Coast Conference (now, Pac 12) in the fall, 1967. So, my trajectory was on the rise, but, in the first quarter of the first game the next year, I broke my collar bone against the Oregon State Beavers up there in the rain. 

I suffered through rehab for weeks, until the big game against Cal. Then this guy named Wayne Stewart, 6’7” tight end for Cal (later the NY Jets) caught a pass over me; I was the opposite of the star. Rehabbing my injury allowed me to participate in college life more fully. I was a sponsor in the dorm and found it liberating not to be a football star.”

“Stanford football was just getting Black guys. John Guillory played next to me in the defensive backfield, and also Bill Ruben, who I competed with for safety. He was a speedster who transferred down from Cal, and also Al Wilburn. I didn’t realize it, but Stanford was up against some racial barriers when we went down to play Tulane in Louisiana. Apparently. the hotel we stayed at in the mid-60’s in New Orleans didn’t allow Blacks, but the staff negotiated some. “

“As the number of Blacks increased on the field, a distinguished professor brought some guys from the Stanford Black Alliance together, including Gene Washington, who was a moderate person by nature with a bunch of white guys. She was like an encounter group expert. It just didn’t work out.”

“Washington was the QB and Mark Marquess, who I was competing with at safety was moved to cornerback and wideout. Marquess was also a first baseman; then became the Stanford Cardinal head baseball coach from 1977-2017. (40 years). Jim Plunkett, the NFL QB (16 years, two Super Bowl wins with the Raiders) red-shirted when I was a senior, so he had 3 years remaining to team up with Gene Washington in an amazing pitch and catch combination. They really built a classy outfit.”

“It’s a sensitive subject to recruit jocks at Stanford. It isn’t as big a deal at University of Minnesota or University of Illinois. But there are definitely looser standards among the football players. It wasn’t so competitive to get into Stanford in the 1960’s, but they are trying to create a diverse community there by using some discretion in recruitment. I support ethnic diversity, but wealth diversity is more difficult to support.”

“I graduated from Stanford in 1968, the year both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were shot. 

Nevertheless, I began law school at Yale the next fall, having given up my bias against the East Coast. As the assistant coach of the Yale football freshman team (defensive backs), I enjoyed year one in the Ivy League. Brian Dowling, “BD” in Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” comic strip, was the QB at Yale during that era, (later playing with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers) and Calvin Hill (rb for Yale, Dallas Cowboys) and others were enshrined in ‘Doonesbury.’ “

“There was a growing movement to seek racial justice in those days, with athletes like John Carlos and Herman Edwards providing leadership. Yale’s home, New Haven, was right in the middle of rioting in the 1968-1971 era that I spent in the East. In law school, I was involved in police discrimination cases locally. Now, the University has provided housing to do their part to improve town-gown relations.”

“My mother would have wanted me to return to the Midwest after law school, but the West Coast was where I wanted to be. Jobs were scarce then, but I hooked up with the public defender in Contra Costa County (you’ve got your Richmond and your Walnut Creek there). After a few years, I noticed many of my friends were going to Humboldt County, and I was ready to get out of the Bay Area, as part of the back-to-the-land movement.”

“My friends, Dave Riemenschnider and Dan Hamburg (from Stanford) started Mariposa School in the western Hills of Ukiah at this time. Stanford alums Billy Jameson and Gina Campbell joined me to buy some land to build on. Riemenschnider was involved in curriculum and instruction but began studying the stars/moon/astronomy before he drifted off to law school, found his wife and talked her into coming up to Ukiah. I was interested in him coming back as he interned one summer in my office, before starting his own practice. Dave was loosely affiliated with the same fraternity I was at Stanford.”

“I was a “back to lander” so I built a house the first year in 1974. It was pretty simple, and to code and we had it closed up by winter. I would drift into town, holding to a three day a week practice in criminal law trying to charge lower rates, but it evolved more into a professional practice. I got involved in some pretty big cases, and then the entire marijuana thing came crashing down on our heads. It was lucrative and fun for criminal defense lawyers. We had a really good team around town: Susan Jordan, Richard Petersen, me. After six years in the woods without electricity and other amenities, we bought a house in town. ‘Simple living’ didn’t turn out that way.”

“We went down to an alumni-varsity game back in 1970, complete with pads and full contact. I was foolish to participate as the players were already getting bigger and faster. Some of the alumni were young pros, so we were competitive. There were weaknesses though. I go to at least one game a year at Stanford. They do a pretty good job networking for alumni where all of us get an on-field pass. There is no other way to really “get” the size of today’s huge players except by being on the field with them.”

“We started playing slow pitch softball in the late 70’s when there was basically one league in town. Our team was King Kong and it was inspired by j Holden. We won the league in our second season over Bar X. Sheridan Malone came along and taught us the mechanics of hitting and we became Bulldog Brothers. We evolved with the league and won a title at some point with Bill Brunnemyer as pitcher (the girls’ softball coach at the high school). The best aspect of softball was the parties such as an annual gathering at Guiness McFadden’s (Guinness was catcher for many years and a scrappy one…)”

“I also organized a basketball team. One year we were undefeated as Palace Bar and Grill. We had such luminaries as Mark Walker, Bob Sagehorn, David Post, John Behnke and Greg Sager.”

“I was going to retire and just relax; that’s my focus. But things get you sucked up, and I’ve been trying to resist stuff. I’m doing something every day: reading, hiking up on my land. There is a tendency to want to be involved. I stay somewhat politically active. I’ve enjoyed helping with the mobile headquarters for the Democrats. We’ve been delivering signs to all parts of the county, like Gualala and Leggett. I was originally appointed judge by Gray Davis, after he got recalled (but before he left office) in 1993, and I just retired a couple of years ago. Most judges keep some hand in it; I’m secretary of the “friends of drug court;” where Judge Nadel does the adult court and Judge Mayfield does family drug court, where parents are trying to ‘get their kids back.’ And the Board of Supervisors has been discussing the possibility of establishing a racial citizen’s advisory group, of which I’m interested.”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, February 22, 2024

Alvarez, Jason Ardenyi, Jennylynn Ardenyi


JASON ARDENYI, Ukiah. Harboring wanted felon. 


Carpenter, Coleman, Foster, French

JACOB CARPENTER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, concealed dirk-dagger, resisting.

JEFFREY COLEMAN, Covelo. Unspecified offense.

DERON FOSTER, Willits. Failure to obey lawful order of peace officer.

JADE FRENCH, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Heth, Lindgren, Maciel

MICHAEL HETH, Ukiah. Criminal threats, purchase and possession of a firearm in violation of a restraining order.

MILYNN LINDGREN, Hopland. Vandalism.

RAMON MACIEL, Ukiah. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)

Nielsen, Parker, Parks


MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Brandishing, shopping cart, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)

JOSEPH PARKS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.

Sanchez, Schleper, Travis

ESPERANZA SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Grand theft, disobeying court order.

AMAHNI SCHLEPER, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

JALAHN TRAVIS, Ukiah. Petty theft with priors, probation revocation.

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A tale of the yokes.

Compare the yokes a good egg will have to a yoke that is almost orange.

Most farm raised yokes never see the sun, chickens have pale yellow yolks.

Chickens need to run around and scratch in the dirt, chase bugs, eat greens and be chickens.

As others have said, get a couple of hens and a rooster to keep them happy and safe.

There is nothing more relaxing than listening to happy chickens go about their day — unless you have a rooster that starts crowing at 3 am.

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Dear Editoria,

I was going to write to you earlier and ask for the source of the unattributed statement about nationwide AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile outage problems, but instead went to Google to look for more information. Choosing CNN (no political preference, as far as I can tell), this is what turns up — I copied the text so that all the ads are removed.

Betsy Cawn, Upper Lake

CNN — AT&T’s network went down for many of its customers across the United States Thursday morning, leaving customers unable to place calls, text or access the internet. By late morning, the company said most of its network had been restored.

Although Verizon and T-Mobile customers reported some network outages, too, they appeared far less widespread. T-Mobile and Verizon said their networks were unaffected by AT&T’s service outage and customers reporting outages may have been unable to reach customers who use AT&T.

What can you do if you have no service?

If you’re an AT&T customer without access to phone, text or the internet, you can turn on Wi-Fi calling. If you have access to Wi-Fi, you should be able to call and send texts.

Thursday morning, more than 74,000 AT&T customers reported outages on digital-service tracking site DownDetector, with service disruptions beginning around 4 am ET. That’s not a comprehensive number: It tracks only self-reported outages. Reports had been rising steadily throughout the morning but leveled off in the 9 am ET hour. By 12:30 pm ET, the DownDetector data showed some 25,000 AT&T customers still reporting outages.

AT&T acknowledged that it has a widespread outage but did not provide a reason for the system failure.

“Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them,” AT&T said in a statement. “We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

To set up Wi-Fi calling, users can go to their Settings app on their phone. iPhone users should tap “Cellular” and Android users should click “Connection” and then users will be prompted to turn on the Wi-Fi calling feature. AT&T says on its website that there is no extra cost for this feature. Once set up, Wi-Fi calling works automatically when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi that you choose.

By late morning, AT&T said most of its network was back online.

“Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored,” the company said. “We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers.”

The company did not have a timeframe for when its system would be fully restored. AT&T has been responding to customer complaints online, asking them to send direct messages to customer service.

AT&T’s stock fell more than 2% Thursday, a an outlier on a day when the market was rocketing higher.

Why AT&T went down AT&T has encountered sporadic outages over the past few days, including a temporary 911 outage in some parts of the southeastern United States. Although outages happen from time to time, nationwide, prolonged outages are exceedingly rare.

Although AT&T provided no official reason for the outage, the issue appears to be related to how cellular services hand off calls from one network to the next, a process known as peering, according to an industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

There’s no indication that Thursday’s outage was the result of a cyberattack or other malicious activity, the industry source said.

However, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is “working closely with AT&T to understand the cause of the outage and its impacts, and stand[s] ready to offer any assistance needed,” Eric Goldstein, the agency’s executive assistant director for cybersecurity, said in a statement to CNN.

Verizon believes the nationwide outage involving AT&T customers “is close to being resolved,” according to Richard Young, a Verizon spokesman.

Carriers are notoriously mum about why their networks go down. In the past, there have been construction accidents that have cut fiberoptic cables, incidents of sabotage or network updates filled with bugs that became difficult to roll back.

Outages often happen for mundane reasons, several telecom experts told CNN.

Common causes include construction-related digging that punctures fiber optic cables and software misconfigurations that can lead to interruptions, said TJ Kennedy, a public safety communications expert.

“I can’t think of every incident in the last few years, but I can think of things related to routers, things related to backhaul, things related to software,” Kennedy said. “This has happened across all major carriers, multiple times in the past few years alone.”

Thursday’s outage could have been caused by human errors in AT&T’s cloud-based networking system, said Lee McKnight, an associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

“The dirty secret of telecom networks these days is they are just a bunch of wires and towers connected to the cloud,” McKnight said. “Someone making a mistake, and others on their team — and their automated tools — not catching it, is quite common in cloud computing.”

Local governments report outages Several local governments said AT&T’s outage was disrupting its services.

San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management said in a statement on X Thursday morning that its 911 center remained operational, but many AT&T customers were unable to reach the emergency line because of the outage. It suggested people call from a landline or find someone with a rival’s service to dial 911.

“We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911),” the department said in its post. “We are actively engaged and monitoring this.”

The Fire Department in Upper Arlington, Ohio, said the AT&T outage was affecting its fire alarms. St. Joseph County, Michigan, advised residents to use Wi-Fi to place 911 calls if they can’t reach 911 on AT&T’s network. Cobb County, Georgia, said its 911 operations remained unaffected by the outage but noted customers may want to find alternate methods of reaching emergency services. Cabel County, West Virginia, said customers that couldn’t reach 911 could text to 911 as a last resort.

New York Police Department officials told CNN that they were not able to make calls or utilize emails on AT&T phones Thursday morning unless they were connected to Wi-Fi.

The Massachusetts State Police warned people not to test their phone service by placing 911 calls.

“Many 911 centers in the state are getting flooded w/ calls from people trying to see if 911 works from their cell phone. Please do not do this,” the state police said in a post on X. “If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number via your cell service then your 911 service will also work.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, meanwhile, said the city is “actively gathering information to determine how the City of Atlanta can assist in resolving this issue,” in a statement posted on X. Dickens said Atlanta’s “e-911 is able to receive inbound and make outbound calls” and encouraged AT&T customers to direct inquiries to restore service to the company.

An AT&T spokesman said the company’s FirstNet network has remained operational. FirstNet provides coverage for first responders and is advertised as a more robust network than the AT&T commercial network. It uses a mix of its own infrastructure plus AT&T’s broader network. Its customers include police and fire departments, as well as first responders during natural disasters.

Verizon and T-Mobile say they’re unaffected There also have been about 1,000 outages reported by both Verizon and T-Mobile customers Thursday morning, the DownDetector website indicates.

“We did not experience an outage,” T-Mobile said in a statement. “Our network is operating normally.”

Verizon had a similar comment, saying it was unaffected by AT&T’s outage.

“Verizon’s network is operating normally,” Verizon told CNN in a statement. “Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

User reports on Downdetector about a T-Mobile outage, the company added, are “likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks.”

Downdetector offers “real-time status information for over 12,000 services across 47 websites representing 47 countries,” the website says.

The FCC will probably investigate The Federal Communications Commission will almost certainly investigate this week’s incident, multiple experts said. The FCC requires carriers to report information linked to network disruptions.

“The carriers are required to report their outage numbers over time, and the commission can track the number of consumers and cell sites down and things like that,” said a former FCC official.

Fines may be possible in connection with 911 outages, although they aren’t a certainty, said Blair Levin, a telecom policy analyst and another former FCC official.

“The FCC cares a lot more about the inability to connect with 911 [than other types of calls],” said Levin. “It’s a more serious problem from the FCC’s perspective.”

Telecom carriers have every reason to fix any outages quickly, said the first former FCC official, “because it creates black eyes for the brand.”

“Everybody’s incentives are aligned,” the former official said. “The FCC is going to want to know what caused it so that lessons can be learned. And if they find malfeasance or bad actions or, just poor quality of oversight of the network, they have the latitude to act.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN’s Caroll Alvarado, Sean Lyngaas and John Miller contributed to this report.

* * *

* * *

THE EVIDENCE THAT SMARTPHONES damage children’s mental health has continued to grow in recent years.

Feelings of loneliness and sadness began rising more than a decade ago, around the same time that smartphones and then social media became ubiquitous. The amount of time that teenagers spend socializing in person has declined on the same timeline. So has the number of hours they sleep.

Academic research points in a similar direction. Many studies have found a correlation between the amount of time that teens — especially girls — spend on smartphones and the likelihood that they will be depressed or have low self-esteem. One study last year found a striking relationship between the age at which somebody first owned a smartphone and that person’s mental health as a young adult:

(New York Times)

* * *


What I'm Reading…

Here’s what’s come across my desk recently: 

This week’s conversation starter: Eric Asimov on “the twilight of the American sommelier,” in the New York Times. Asimov argues that fewer restaurants are employing sommeliers since the pandemic. It’s a provocative piece with a brief history of the profession.

The saga of Trump’s alleged election fraud in Georgia just got a Napa Valley wine connection. Fani Willis, the district attorney who was investigating Trump and is now being investigated herself for an alleged conflict of interest, apparently visited the Acumen Wines tasting room in Napa with the special prosecutor she’s accused of having an affair with. That’s according to what Acumen employee Stan Brody told CNN — and, Brody added, Willis appeared to be carrying $400 in cash.

On the subject of sommeliers: Bruno Almeida, a somm at Tocqueville restaurant in Manhattan, died last week on New York City subway tracks. In Breaking News Network, Olalekan Adigun has an obituary.

The Cherry Bounce is a beloved whiskey cocktail at San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon, writes Al Culliton in Punch, but originally the term “cherry bounce” referred to homemade cherry liqueur, popularized by George and Martha Washington. 

* * *

“ is curious that the people who rail against my work seem to overlook the sections of it which entail joy and love and hope, and there are such sections. My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the 'light' and never mentioned the other, then as an artist I would be a liar.”

— Charles Bukowski

* * *


by Kurtis Alexander

The nation’s largest dam-removal project, the dismantling of four hydroelectric dams near the remote California-Oregon border this year, may be the end of one story.

But it’s the beginning of another.

The native Shasta people, who were exiled from the banks of the Klamath River more than a century ago, in part because of dam construction, are expected to acquire a stretch of ancestral land that is emerging along the river as the dams come out and the reservoirs behind them dry up.

Tribal members envision a revival of their age-old community on the property, which the state is looking to hand over as acknowledgement of their enduring hardship. The displaced Shasta people never found a place to regroup after the forced diaspora. Many of their descendants, now scattered across California and beyond, hope to come live, work and worship on the riverfront they still call home.

“We really need to be back,” said Connie Collins, a Southern California resident and council secretary for the roughly 300-member Shasta Indian Nation, the tribe that traces its lineage to the rugged hills and valleys where the dams were built. “My family is from there. We’ve longed for the return to our homelands for such a long time, and now we finally have hope.”

The removal of the dams on the Klamath River is the product of a decades-long push by Native Americans, environmentalists and fishing groups to restore the natural flow of the 250-mile waterway, which runs from southern Oregon’s lofty Cascades to the thick forests of California’s North Coast.

The first of the dams, about a six-hour drive from San Francisco, was torn down last year. The three others were breached In January, to drain the water behind them, in anticipation of razing them by fall.

Supporters of the project want a free-flowing river, most fundamentally, to rejuvenate salmon. The river’s salmon population was once the third-largest on the West Coast but collapsed partly because the dams blocked fish habitat. For Indigenous groups in the Klamath Basin, including the Shasta people, salmon were not only food but a spiritual and cultural staple.

Another major benefit of the project, for Native Americans, is the transfer of land.

As part of the deal for dam removal, the states of California and Oregon, which helped negotiate the deconstruction, will receive about 8,000 acres that the utility, PacifiCorp, unloaded alongside the aging power facilities. The company got rid of its assets because of the maintenance expense. It’s now covering the roughly $500 million cost of taking out the dams, aided by some California bond money.

The lands submerged by the reservoirs, as they resurface with the project, are already being tended to by contracted planting crews in hopes of returning them to grasslands and forest. More than 17 billion seeds are slated for planting, representing 97 species of grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees. In many areas, the restoration work will continue for years.

California officials told the Chronicle this month they’re in talks with Native American groups to “co-develop a plan for the ownership and stewardship” of project lands. Officials declined to provide details, wanting discussions to be private. However, planning documents indicate the state is looking to transfer property in Siskiyou County to the Shasta Indian Nation, and perhaps other tribes, as a small measure of compensation for disturbances caused by the dams and their removal.

The transfers come amid growing interest by the state and other land managers in seeing Indigenous groups administer — and protect — California’s wildlands. Last year, the Newsom administration counted more than 12,000 acres that the state and various conservation groups helped return to Native Americans. The lands alongside the Klamath River would be a significant addition.

Mark Bransom, CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corp., the nonprofit established to carry out the dam removal, doesn’t make the decision about transfers, but he has knowledge of the process and said, “The tribe has a very compelling case.”

* * *

A Forced Exodus

The discovery of gold in California’s far north marked the beginning of the Shasta people’s forced exodus from their land.

After inhabiting villages in the Klamath Basin for at least 8,000 years, subsisting chiefly on fish, deer and acorns, according to archeological records, the Indigenous residents were viewed by newly arriving Europeans as an obstacle to mining.

In the mid-1800s, settlers shot and killed many of those living along the river, burning their wooden plank houses, sweat lodges and assembly buildings, historical documents show. Other tribal members were relocated to reservations.

Those who stayed homesteaded, with some able to purchase newly privatized lots. A Shasta chief named Bogus Tom Smith was one of the foremost figures in the drive to hold onto ancestral land, using a variety of methods. He promoted the Ghost Dance, a ritual believed to invoke spirits to fight off colonizers, and called on Indigenous women to intermarry with the white residents to preserve property rights.

“There was a sacrifice to try to keep their land base,” said Brian Daniels, an archeologist and director of research and programs at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center. He has long worked with the Shasta Indian Nation and documented its history. “It’s a really tragic story.”

With the development of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project in the early 1900s, the Shasta people’s attempts to remain in the area stalled. Most of what they owned or controlled was seized for power generation.

Over the next 60 years, five dams went up on the main stem of the river, three in California and two in Oregon, putting both new and old pieces of the Indian community under water. One of the dams in Oregon as well as the federally run Link River Dam on Oregon’s Upper Klamath Lake are not part of the demolition. Both are equipped with fish ladders that allow salmon to pass. None of the project dams and reservoirs were designed for flood control or to store irrigation or drinking water.

Larry R. Leonard, a member of the Shasta Indian Nation, looks at what remains of Copco Lake in Siskiyou County as it continues to drain. Some of the land that is emerging with the Klamath River dam-removal project is expected to be transferred to his tribe.

“They forced my family to leave their ranch,” said Larry R. Leonard, a member of the Shasta Indian Nation.

Leonard lives in Sacramento but has regularly visited the power project over the years to see his homeland, if only from the window of a car or nearby park. He is a direct descendent of Kitty Ward, one of the last Shasta people to leave the land and a legend in the tribal community for her resistance. She’s said to have snubbed orders to vacate, only to be tricked into leaving her cabin briefly for the nearby town of Hornbrook, where she died.

Leonard’s affinity for the Klamath Basin was shaped by his grandfather, who took him fishing in the creeks and walking in the hills, long after his ancestors were gone. 

“My grandfather knew the place. He would say that’s my great-great-aunt’s friend’s house over there,” Leonard recalled. “But really it’s just a field.”

While the loss of the tribal community is old history, many in the Shasta Indian Nation worry that dam removal could bring a new round of upheaval to their ancestral home. They fear that the drawdown of reservoirs and a free-flowing river will wash away remnants of Shasta settlement and further erode their connection to the area.

“We don’t want our cultural resources disturbed,” said Sami Jo Difuntorum, culture preservation officer for the tribe. “But we’ve come to reconcile that disruption is inevitable — again.”

The Shasta Indian Nation is somewhat an outlier among Native American groups because of its mixed feelings about dam removal instead of wholehearted support.

In light of the tribe’s continuing concerns, Difuntorum expects the Klamath River Renewal Corporation to protect “cultural resources” as the dams and reservoirs disappear, and she hopes ultimately the area will be returned to her people to safeguard.

* * *

Restoring the Community

On a recent afternoon, Difuntorum watched the newly freed Klamath River splash downstream from what was once one of the biggest reservoirs in the hydroelectric project, Copco Lake.

The river’s flow was swift and muddy, cascading from a hole that had been blasted in the cement Copco 1 Dam to forever empty the lake water behind it. A smaller diversion dam a short distance downstream was removed last year, allowing the river to pour through a canyon that hadn’t seen much water since the dam was completed in the 1920s.

“It’s powerful. The river is powerful. The sound is powerful,” Difuntorum said. “It’s almost like you can hear and sense that the rocks are welcoming the water back again.”

A double rainbow appears along the banks of the Klamath River on Monday as the waterway cuts through a century of accumulated sediment in what was recently Copco Lake in Siskiyou County. The lake is being drained as part of the dam-removal project on the river.

This segment of river, named Ward’s Canyon in memory of Kitty Ward, is among the acreage that the Shasta Indian Nation is hoping to acquire — a little less than a third of the total 8,000 acres that the two states will receive. The broader area is known as Kíkacéki to the Shasta people and considered sacred, holding the center of their spiritual world. It was historically the site of one of the largest Shasta villages as well as smaller villages, fishing hubs and ceremony sites.

While much of this land was under water before Copco Lake began to drain, not all of it was. Some of the property is where PacifiCorp ran its operations, with roads and buildings, including a small schoolhouse, storage complex, old powerhouse and handful of homes. Other parts are wilderness.

Tribal members say they hope to rebuild their lost community on the property by repurposing existing structures as well as adding more homes and other essentials such as a fish processing station and smokehouse.

Public access would be granted on much of the land. A visitor-friendly reassembled traditional village and trails are being discussed, tribal members say. The existing powerhouse could be turned into an interpretive center, some have suggested.

Although the property transfer is probably years off, coming after the dams are down and the restoration of the land is firmly underway, the Shasta people’s return is already being warmly received.

One unexpected welcoming came from the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. The board, which has long opposed the dam removal, said the tribal members would make “good neighbors” in a recent letter to the state endorsing the property transfer.

For Daniels, the archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, transferring land to the tribe would be a fitting end to the project.

“There’s a big victory that’s being celebrated in so many ways about the dams being removed, but what happens next?” he said. “For me, that’s really the interesting part of the story.”

Collins, the tribal secretary for the Shasta Indian Nation, describes the transfer as almost essential for her people.

“We’re tied to that land,” she said. “It’s inseparable from us, from our tribe. It’s one of the things you feel when you’re there and drawn to when you’re not. That connection is hard to describe, but if you know, you know.”

* * *

* * *


by Sameea Kamal

The biggest challenge facing lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom is the state budget deficit — and it just got bigger.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office this week projected the shortfall as $15 billion higher, or $73 billion. 

The analyst’s office had pegged the 2024-25 deficit at $58 billion in January, using Newsom’s revenue estimates when he presented his initial budget proposal. 

Late last week, Newsom’s Department of Finance reported that preliminary General Fund cash receipts in January were $5 billion below (or nearly 20%) the governor’s budget forecast. Unless state tax revenues pick up significantly, the bigger number will make it more difficult to balance the state budget just through dipping into reserves and targeted spending cuts. 

But exactly how the state can dig its way out — at least in the Assembly — remains to be seen. Speaker Robert Rivas told reporters today that the budget has been at the forefront of conversations among Assembly Democrats and that he is very concerned with the growing deficit. 

He praised the governor’s commitment to preserving classroom funding, and said he didn’t see a way to avoid dipping into the state’s reserves, as the governor’s January budget plan proposed — though the speaker urged a prudent approach to using rainy day savings in case the budget picture worsens in future years. 

“We are very concerned about short-term fixes for long-term problems,” said Rivas, who took over as speaker last summer, just days after the Legislature and Newsom reached a deal on the 2023-24 budget that covered a $30 billion deficit after two years of record surpluses. 

“Clearly, we need to prioritize oversight and curb spending and our investments,” Rivas added. 

In the coming weeks, Rivas’ plan calls for an oversight budget subcommittee he formed in December to review the state’s spending on housing, he said. 

But, as legislative leaders and the governor have noted, the budget deficit won’t be addressed just through oversight and cuts. It’ll also mean tougher paths for bills lawmakers introduce this year — including the return of the single-payer healthcare effort by Democratic Assemblymember Ash Kalra. 

“It’s a good idea, but it’s a tough, tough sell, especially in the budget climate that we are experiencing now,” he said. 

And while the governor has shot down any attempt to raise taxes or create new ones to increase state revenues, Rivas did not take a position. 

“We look at all of the strategies when it comes to ensuring that we have a balanced budget — there are many of those tools that are available,” he said. “Which ones are appropriate, I’m not going to comment on that yet. That’s what we’re trying to figure out now.” 

But Rivas may have to make some decisions soon: A spokesperson for Newsom’s Department of Finance issued a statement later today calling on the Legislature to take early action on $8 billion in savings to address the looming deficit. Newsom will propose an updated budget in May before negotiations with legislative leaders and a final spending blueprint in June. 

Today’s updated deficit projection also prompted concern and criticism of Democrats from the Republican caucus. Sen. Roger Niello, vice-chairperson of the Senate budget committee, echoed the sentiment on oversight, in a statement; “It’s time for a course correction and a renewed commitment to responsible budgeting that puts the needs of our residents first.”


* * *

* * *

PUTIN-FANBOY TUCKER CARLSON'S GONE MAD - weirdly cackling over Navalny's murder. Trump and Biden are both too decrepit to stop Russia kidnapping US citizens. 

Has America ever been so weak in the face of its oldest enemy?

by Maureen Callahan

Alexei Navalny's death is a test of American will and resolve.

So far, we are failing miserably.

Look no further than Tucker Carlson. Fresh from his disgraceful “interview” with Vladimir Putin — a visibly cowed Carlson serving as lapdog rather than seasoned journalist — the former Fox News darling went on Glenn Beck's show, laughing about Navalny and, yet again, defending the monster that is Putin.

“People who say Putin killed [Navalny] are idiots,” Carlson said.

So world leaders of democracies, from Germany to Israel, to Great Britain and the United States — to name a few — are all idiots, per one Tucker Carlson.

He also framed justifiable outrage over Navalny's death as purely a concern of the left, then guffawed at the notion that he, as a very important person thousands of miles from home, should have known or cared what happened to Russia's most famous political prisoner.

You can't claim to be a star commentator, analyst and interviewer — the best of the best — while also making excuses for not knowing or caring about one of the biggest, most consequential stories developing.

But Carlson is trying — despite exclusively giving a contradictory statement the very day Navalny died.

“It's horrifying what happened to Navalny,” he said on Friday. “The whole thing is barbaric and awful. No decent person would defend it.”

Yet in a display of spectacular indecency, Carlson did just that on Beck's show — these two former network news stars and self-proclaimed champions of free speech reduced to basement-dwelling conspiracy theorists, defending and minimizing Putin's murderous regime.

“The one thing [the left] is really good at is occupying the moral high ground in an unjustified way,” Carlson told Beck.

Moral high ground? I'm sorry: Isn't indignation at the death of Navalny apolitical? Whether you're left, right or center, what befell Navalny is not simply an affront to democracy everywhere — it's a warning shot.

But here were Carlson and Beck laughing it up and making the absurd equivalence of Navalny's martyrdom to — wait for it — what's happening to Donald Trump.

Beck to Carlson: “While the left has a problem with [the death of] Navalny… they don't see the connection on what we're doing here [in the US], what we're doing with Donald Trump.”

Trump thinks so too.

Aside from praising Putin in the past as “savvy” and “genius” — and this was in response to his invasion of Ukraine — Trump finally addressed Navalny's death at a Fox News town hall Tuesday night.

Grotesquely, he made a comparison with the recent $355 million ruling against him in New York.

“It is a form of Navalny,” Trump said. “It is a form of communism or fascism.”

Tell that to Navalny's widow, who still doesn't have his remains — if she ever will.

President Biden is no better. If ever there was a hinge moment for the GOP and Democrats to dump their respective nominees, this is it.

Just days after Navalny's death, the arrest and brutal detainment of a 32-year-old dual Russian-American ballerina, announced on Tuesday, is Putin's latest provocation.

Ksenia Karelina, whose social media is full of American pride — pirouetting on the Brooklyn Bridge, beaming at Rockefeller Center, proudly holding her citizenship papers in front of two American flags — was initially taken on charges of swearing outside a movie theatre in the southern city of Yekaterinburg.

For this offense, Karelina was blindfolded and filmed being cuffed, marched down flights of stairs into what passes for a Russian court of law.

This young woman, married to an American citizen, now faces 20 years to life in jail. For swearing in public. An additional charge of donating $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity has been added.

Putin is laughing at us. He is stealing American lives with sadistic ruthlessness, secure in the belief that America will do nothing.

After all, when President Biden met with Putin in Geneva nearly three years ago, he warned of “devastating consequences” should Navalny die in prison.

As to those consequences? The world is still waiting.

And as for Karelina?

The media quickly learned more than the Biden White House.

Karelina's friend and boss Isabella Koretz told the Mail that she has been jailed for seven weeks, was arrested as soon as she deplaned on January 2 — on a trip to visit her parents and little sister — and was then interrogated “for thirteen hours” before being thrown in a freezing cell with two other women.

Koretz said that she and Karelina's supporters have been in contact with the US Embassy, which has been of zero help.

“They said off the books that they are aware of the case, but they told us that they don't have anybody to trade her with,” Koretz said.

“We're trying” was the message from the White House on Tuesday morning — only after the press pushed on kidnapped Karelina's status.

Try harder. Biden has yet to make any public statement.

And so it is – yet another alarming example of his administration being asleep at the wheel.

The inevitable death of Navalny. The snatching of US citizens. Retaliation for these gravest of offenses should have been on Biden's desk ready to go.

Alas, our slumbering president's slow-motion responses echo then-President Obama's warning of a “red line” should Syria's Bashar al-Assad use chemical weapons on his own people.

In 2013, Assad went ahead, and Obama did nothing.

One year later, Obama warned Putin “there will be costs” if he made any move to invade Ukraine.

“You could hear the laughter emanating from the Kremlin,” wrote Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter to George W. Bush. “"Costs?" Vladmir Putin must have thought. Just like the "costs" Obama imposed on the Assad regime in Syria?”

Now Putin is dealing with Obama's former VP, one whose senility is so pronounced that even prominent Dems and the New York Times are sounding the alarm.

It is not speculation, but fact, to say that Putin looks to our President and fears nothing.

Returning to that other stain on our national reputation – the Kremlin's useful idiot Tucker Carlon – Karelina was arrested on the very same day that Putin gave Carlson his interview.

And, it's worth adding, in the very same city from which Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, now 32, was taken.

Yet in Moscow, Carlson filmed himself in a supermarketand marveled at prices, proclaiming the experience superior to American markets — you know, our Whole Foods and spacious suburban grocery stores and our economic safety nets for the poor.

It was so awe-inspiring, in fact, that Carlson said it had turned him against US leadership.

“Coming to a Russian grocery store – the heart of evil – and seeing what things cost and how people live, it will radicalize you against our leaders,” Carlson said. “That's how I feel, anyway – radicalized.”

This was after Carlson's mortifying two-hour sit-down with Putin – during which Carlson looked totally lost and, frankly, afraid at points.

Even Putin was underwhelmed.

“To be honest, I thought that he would behave aggressively and ask so-called ‘sharp’ questions,” Putin told state-run TV. “Frankly, I did not get full satisfaction from this interview.”

Not since Jimmy Carter has America looked so weak on the world stage, so feeble, so cowed by authoritarian regimes.

And not since Joe Kennedy Sr., as ambassador to the UK, expressed sympathies toward Adolf Hitler have we seen such treasonous cozying-up to homicidal strongmen.

Biden is beyond ineffective – and our enemies know it.

Trump is just as bad.

Yet, as we all too painfully know, he seems a lock for the Republican nomination.

This despite not just a cognitive decline almost as noteworthy Biden's but – more consequentially — his dangerous isolationism.

It’s been said before that America deserves better than this terrible twosome. 

We deserve better than the insane rantings of Carlson and his ilk, defaming Navalny's ultimate sacrifice while defending his murderer. 

But Putin’s actions have made it clear that we now need better – before things get irrevocably worse. 

Navalny himself knew it. In a letter just two months before his death, he decried the sad state of US politics.

“Please name one current politician you admire,” he wrote, warning of a Trump-Biden rematch.

A second Trump presidential term, he said, would be “really scary” and Biden, at such an advanced age, was putting America at risk by running again.

“Trump will become president” if Biden’s health declines, he wrote. “Doesn’t this obvious thing concern the Democrats?”

Neither Trump nor Biden should be nominated.

The only question is: Will either party have the guts to finally admit it?

(Daily Mail)

* * *

* * *


by Matt Taibbi

Not long ago, in the wake of the release of special counsel Robert Hur’s devastating report describing our president as an “elderly man with a poor memory,” an angry Joe Biden went on TV in an effort to show fitness and forgot a series of things, among them calling Abdel Fattah El-Sisi the president of Mexico.

The forgetting in itself was painful, but it happens. Donald Trump and other politicians also frequently reach for names and come up empty, though most cover up better than Biden. The issue was that Biden brought up El-Sisi in the context of the southern border of Israel and Gaza, and his brain was clearly calculating Below Southern Border + Crisis = Mexico. Logical, but you’d prefer the chief executive to distinguish between crises.

There’s a lot of scary stuff in Matt Orfalea’s “Biden Repeatedly Confuses Ukraine, Russia, and Iraq” above — the word Biden substituted for inflation sounds like an ear parasite — but the most unnerving is the frequent substitution of Iraq for Ukraine. 

* * *

Big Brother: War is Good

The war in Ukraine is making history, not just on the battlefield, but in the annals of propaganda. It is the first global news event in which audiences have been told outright that narrative must be preserved as a strategic imperative — in this case, “Ukraine Will Win” — no matter what contrasting truths pop up. This process is documented above in Racket video wizard Matt Orfalea’s brutal “Ukraine Will Win” compilation, which shows how audiences have been told, ordered almost, to accept ideas they learned over time to be untrue.

A prime example is Andrea Kendall-Taylor, former senior intelligence official (and co-author of the Trump-Russia Intelligence Community Assessment written about here last week, drawing on a 2020 RealClearInvestigations story by Paul Sperry.

Kendall-Taylor told PBS recently that although it’s true battle lines haven’t “meaningfully changed” in Ukraine in months, the “narrative of a stalemate is wrong and unproductive.” True but wrong, or true but unhelpful, is the definition of malinformation, previously confined to things like social media posts about vaccine injuries. With Ukraine, the entire direction of a war, including the public’s attitude toward supporting it, is being suppressed in favor of a political mantra.

In a country where public opinion mattered, it would be counterintuitive for White House and Pentagon officials to go out of their way to advertise plans to increase the likelihood of wider war before aid is passed, but this is what’s been happening lately. Like wrinkles in a dress shirt, intrusions of reality can and have been ironed out of public view. Orfalea shows how the White House/Pentagon dictates continually reassert themselves each time reality tries to inch its way into the mainstream.

Just the broad-strokes chronology is incredible.

* * *

Scar of Bethlehem, Banksy


  1. Mazie Malone February 23, 2024

    Dear Editor, …….Glad you are being well cared for. More importantly your humor is intact, thank God!! Thanks for the update I am getting a thyroid biopsy next month at Mission Bay, will be my first time there. Get well… ❤️

    Arrests………. MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Brandishing, shopping cart, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)!!! All I can say is really? .. lol.. .. is deescalation not universal in police work ? ….. JT arrested again….. how many times is that now ? What did he steal ? …,food? A blanket? Some shoes ? ……..

    mm 💕

    • Bruce Anderson February 23, 2024

      UCSF is a marvel of a hospital. You’re in good hands, Mazie.

      • Mazie Malone February 23, 2024

        Thank you sir, not my first go around on the biopsy. Unfortunately is my 4th one, 2nd time doing it through UCSF., so far no CA .. just a big nodule that needs a graceful exit!!! ….

        mm 💕

      • Jim Armstrong February 23, 2024

        The clinic I drove down there for for 5 years was more of a fraud than a marvel. Glad you found differently.

        • Bruce McEwen February 23, 2024

          I went to the VA clinic Tuesday—Monday being a holiday—to have a sliver of glass taken out of my heel (I stepped on it two weeks ago and thought I got it all out with my wife’s help but there was still a eight mm shard in there all infected after working on it for two weeks harnessed to Lord Bezos Amazon shipping cart, and those nurses went in and got it out whilst I squealed like a stuck pig— and I apologized profusely for my cowardly manners but those nurses they’ve seen it all since Covid-19 and nothing much fazes em more than now we want them to take pay cuts so we can buy gold tennyrunners for Trump’s campaign!!

  2. Lazarus February 23, 2024

    Edith Ceccarelli, of Willits, the oldest living American has died.

    This brings to mind, “Nobody gets out alive.”
    Rest in Peace Sweet Girl…

  3. Chuck Dunbar February 23, 2024


    This quote made me smile–or grimace, really– at its grim truth:

    “When did having a habit of keeping up with the news switch from ‘being well-informed’ to a self-destructive behaviour? Probably the early 2010s, when it became ‘like pressing a button that caused one to get punched in the face over and over again by a cartoon glove marked ‘DREAD’.”
    Casey Pletts

  4. Call It As I See It February 23, 2024

    Sounds like we are just around the corner from the CEO’s office from taking over the Clerk/Recorder/ Assessor’s office. And one thing that is inevitable, one or more of the current candidates will challenge the election for Supervisor. As they should. Have you noticed how quiet Bowtie Ted has been on this fiasco? Why? Well Bowtie has gone on record saying this is the most efficiently run office in the County. In reality it’s been failing since they combined it nearly twenty years ago. Bowtie had to tell this lie to set up the “Cubbison Plan”, while Ms. Bartolomei kissed his derrière it was easy to put the plan in effect and ignore real issues with this office. Basically in Ted’s world, as long as you follow my plan you will get praised, no matter the result for the County. Has anyone heard of the spectrum? Well, this guy is on the top.

    Prediction, Bartolomei will retire after this blunder, and the CEO’s office will move in chomping at the bit. And the beauty, this band of screw ups will control all elected offices. We will have no voice. Carmel must be proud of her protege, Antle, who has seemed to master her ultimate plan of total control.

    • Bruce Anderson February 23, 2024

      A few words in defense of Bartolomei: The huge, complicated systems that rule us all can suddenly become unreliable, even hostile. Ms. B had never before had any prob with the corp that handles Mendo ballots. She has also been a rock of reliability over the long years, working under the wholly destructive CEO Mommie Dearest and a howlingly incompetent board of supervisors, plus enduring a steadily heavier work load. I think she has done an excellent job under onerous circumstances.

      • Raven February 23, 2024

        Bartolomei stormed out of the last BOS meeting after a reporter made comments about her concerns regarding first ballot mistake.. Then the next day we find out about the second set of mistakes. Bartolomei turned and stormed out on camera, minimally it was unprofessional.

      • Call It As I See It February 23, 2024

        There should be no mistakes when it comes elections. That’s all this office cares about. Starting with Marsha Wharf/Young, Sue Ranochak and now Katrina Bartlomei, it is their main focus while ignoring the Assessor side. This is where this office is failing. Katrina has kept this policy alive. She hoped it would remain under wraps by keeping Bowtie happy. 2 years behind on reassessing properties, kind of important when you facing budget issues.

        • Adam Gaska February 23, 2024

          It’s much more than 2 years in some cases.

  5. Julie Beardsley February 23, 2024

    In response to Martha Moreno-Sanchez’s letter of February 22, 2024:

    I’m glad you raise some of these issues.

    SEIU 1021 represents the largest bargaining unit of Mendocino County employees. I was union Vice-President in 2020, while Troyle Trognoli was President. I took over as President in 2022 and served until October 2024 when I retired from the County. A’Kesh Eidi is the current President.

    For years the union has challenged Mendocino County Human Resources and the Executive Office to curb what we see as actions that circumvent the Civil Service rules. For example, the practice of putting people into “acting” positions rather than following the Civil Service rules of posting positions, interviewing candidates and hiring qualified permanent employees. Or the practice of hiring contractors rather than permanent employees. We fought to keep the support staff at the jail (all Hispanic women) in place rather than have those positions contracted out. I personally fought for two contract periods to limit the probationary period to 6 months, because the previous year-long period resulted in people being on probation literally for years if they were promoted or transferred. And more importantly, it had a chilling effect on employees speaking up about problems or mistreatment because an employee on probation could be let go at any time for no reason. I agree with you that there are some egregious examples of Hispanic employees being treated badly. The union brought these to HR, and the union has and will always come to bat for its members, but the power of the union is in its numbers. If you think things will get better by not joining and standing together, then you will really be voiceless and powerless and at the mercy of whatever management wants to do. As Patrick Hickey, SEIU union representative will attest, he spends many hours bringing complaints to management and trying to sort them out, but unless management understands that the employees can and will strike if their demands are not met, all he can do is file complaints and hope to work out a solution. I would urge you and all employees to join the union and stand together to improve working conditions. And yes, union activities are voluntary, (and a lot of extra work and there was no monetary compensation for my work as union President), but they are vitally important in ensuring a fair working environment. And yes, SEIU 1021 works closely with local unions throughout the state.

    And finally, this isn’t so much about the age of a candidate for Supervisor as it is about experience and qualifications. If someone is very young, one has to question how much experience and qualifications they can possibly have. Especially for a job as important as Supervisor, at a time when the county is in crisis.

    Julie Beardsley

    • Martha Moreno-Sanchez February 23, 2024

      I’d like to first address that the majority of the Hispanic population does not appreciate being addressed as “Latinx”. Our language is one where feminine and masculine nouns are part of our language, culture, and heritage. The majority of us who have been raised in a traditional Hispanic home do not appreciate being called Latinx, as we are not all from what is considered Latin America.

      I appreciate you bringing up the subject of Madeline not translating her campaign into Spanish due to the cost.
      Again if you were part of the Hispanic community you would understand that the majority of the first generation households are bilingual, we translate for our parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and relatives, as well as for other community members who might need to have it directly translated. I reiterate if you had grown up in this area and were Hispanic you would know that we are a close community, and the community knows that if they are in a non-bilingual household, they have translation available from neighbors, friends, or other relatives. Regardless of what amount Madeline has raised in her campaign, if it is necessary there are those who support Ms. Cline, who would gladly translation any documents for her. Not all of us who support Ms. Cline are “heavy-hitters” as you describe, just so you know.

      I would like to bring up something that I think needs to be addressed, Julie Beardsley continuously brings up, Ms. Cline’s age. I may not be as young as Ms. Cline, however I can tell you that just because something is on paper does not mean it’s true. I have, as many others of us from this area have, worked from a young age. Not all of our work is documented on paper or the web. Regardless of age or race, for many of us our afternoon, weekends, summers, and holidays were spent working in agriculture. Just because it is not directly behind a desk pushing paper does not mean that we do not know politics or have experience in multiple areas.
      When I started in Public Health, I was told by several county vested employees that my experience in management was not the right kind. Well Ms. Beardley, I can tell you a leader is a leader regardless of where they go or where they acquired their experience. I can personally attest to many instances where in Public Health, when I initially was hired, I was left by multiple experienced managers to lead projects I had zero experience in with no training or help. Those individuals’ mind set was it was “not their job.”

      As a Mendocino County employee my job is to be of service to the public. I have many times been the lead of many projects with no training or support as those with “historical knowledge” and “experience” refused to share it with those of us who were new to Public Health. I, as many of us. are here to work and provide a service to the community. I grew up here, my children are growing up here, I work everyday to make the county safer for our current and future generations. Most of us who were new to Public Health learned if we didn’t know something we had to learn it on our own and did. I do hear your point, but there are wonderful people who are still part of Public Health and have experience and knowledge who have not only shared it with many of us, but have cheered us on in our advancements.

      I understand you were the SEIU Union president for many years, therefore you maybe the one to answer this question for me. As union president, why were certain Hispanic women that held programs together and hold essential historical knowledge never once encouraged or supported to pursue promotions or pay increase? Why had no one prior to me, ask them and question the leadership at the time why these people were being dumped on by racist managers and held down to the cap of their step? As Union president would this not be something you would have like to have supported while you were here? I also understand that when questioned why the union representatives do not accurately represent our primarily Hispanic workforce in Public Health, I was told the union reps are volunteer based, however it is my understanding that as Union President your work did not go uncompensated, so why would others go uncompensated? I have been offered to be a representative for the union, however when it comes to personal matters that should be supported by the Union, as my Hispanic colleagues and I also pay biweekly Union dues? Or is the systemic racism ingrained more in the Union than in other places? My colleagues and I feel unsupported, used, demoralized, and unsafe due to the Union supporting only a specific race clearly and when questioned in writing the Union leadership offers only telephone conversations, nothing in writing, no answers. The Union has tied our leaderships hands. The a Union is protecting only their friends and not thinking of the true safety and mental well-being of everyone regardless of age, gender, or race. The lack of support from the Union has resulted in many of us who have started the process to leave the Union. As the former Union President, I would urge you to reach out and maybe reach out to other chapters for guidance on how to resolve one union manager handling cases that are clearly a conflict of interest.

      I understand that change is not easy for everyone, I continuously read how this county is messed up in so many ways, Ms.Beardsley you were here long before I was, you were witness to the lack of structure and management, how could you not welcome innovation and change? Yes, there are many who as I mentioned have historical knowledge, however they are not always willing to learn and adapt to change, the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic has forever changed society how are we as an agency expected to hold on to old ways when clearly the pandemic brough to light the social determinates of health plaguing our community. Our current leadership has been nothing, but supportive throughout this difficult transition, they see the issues our community faces and the distrust of county workers through out the community. Our current leadership is being bullied and questioned because they are holding people accountable for work, isn’t that their job? I have nothing but upmost respect for the leadership we have now as they have not abandoned Public Health during this transition as others have. They keep an open door policy and have address all of my concerns, are brilliant individuals who encourage and guide staff to learn and continue to support staff growth into leadership positions regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. 

      I urge you to encourage community members to trust the younger generations with our county, we care for it because are a part of it. 

      Best Regards,
      Martha Moreno-Sanchez

      • Lurker Lou February 23, 2024

        Is this a copy/paste of the Feb 22 comment Julie Beardsley was replying to?

  6. k h February 23, 2024


    Useless they may be, but I’m thinking of you and sending good thoughts.

    Also, I attended the CPUC meeting yesterday in Ukiah if you need a first hand report.

    • Bruce Anderson February 23, 2024

      Absolutely! Thank you

      • Chuck Dunbar February 23, 2024

        I was wondering if anyone had feedback on this meeting–that would be great, k h.

  7. Ted Williams February 23, 2024

    Mendocino Board of Supervisors
    Feb 27, 2024 – item 4e

    Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Strategies to Bring All County Wages and In Home Supportive Services to a Minimum of Twenty Dollars Per Hour
    (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

    Summary of Request:
    When governments pay low wages, it creates a cascade of problems that affect the government itself, society, and individuals. For the government, recruitment and retention suffer. Training costs increase with resulting turnover. Poor morale and productivity reduce efficiency and the return on money spent. Inequality and poverty are escalated for society with increased dependence on government assistance. For the individual worker, the financial stress develops from their inability to meet basic needs such as housing, healthcare, and education for themselves and their families. Lower wages in the public sector may discourage individuals from pursuing careers in these areas, limiting their professional growth and development opportunities.

    In Home Supportive Service caregivers are employees of the care receiver, with the state passing funds through the county. The county has the option to augment the poverty-level hourly rate paid by the state, but the county does not have a funding source. In the past, Supervisors have indicated a desire to pay living wages to all, including caregivers, but have been unable to say “yes” out of financial constraints.
    Supervisor Williams believes it is time to strategize a timely path to addressing the inequity.

    Meeting Location(s): 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1070, Ukiah, CA. 95482 (Board Chambers)

    Zoom Link:

    Zoom Phone Number (if joining via telephone): 1 669 900 9128 ; Zoom Webinar ID: 857 6076 1450

    • Betsy Cawn February 24, 2024

      The California In-Home Supportive Service Consumer Alliance ( is a statewide consortium of IHSS “consumers” and advocates that is very concerned about the State’s intention to take over “negotiations” with the unions representing IHSS workers, which will eliminate the ability of county-centric consumers and workers to participate in challenging the diminished financing of critical agencies like our medical service providers (including primary front-line emergency responders) and the obvious ignorance of elected and appointed officials, be they feigned or genuine, consequential to our existential survival.

      Worth noting is the firm position taken by the California State Association of Counties in what is called the “Maintenance of Effort” for IHSS programs:

      Historically, the severance of US “General Revenue Sharing” distribution of federal funds to poor rural counties resulted in those counties bearing the costs of “social services” that led to the current levels of service for which our County officials are loathe to “share” the bounty of general fund revenues — although it appears that no one can alter the direction of Mendocino County decision-makers racing headlong into fiscal disaster and collapse of government services for which you are forced to pay (thinking here of the awful situation regarding the Veterans Services facility, for example).

      See the 1990 US General Accounting Office report: “DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES – Public Services Declined in California as Budget Pressures Mounted”:

      “In California, poorer counties have been more adversely affected by state- and voter-imposed revenue limitations and the increased costs of state-mandated programs than other local governments. Poorer counties have a greater need for public services. At the same time, weaker local economies limited the resources that these counties had to finance public services.

      “In these circumstances, GRS was important to poorer counties. Unlike most intergovernmental aid, it could be used to finance a wide variety of local public services. The GRSprogram distributed more aid per capita to poorer California counties than to wealthier ones. As fiscal pressures mounted in the 198Os, Yolo and Tehama counties — two counties GAO visited — used their revenue sharing funds to finance basic public services, such as fire and police protection. When GRS terminated in 1986, California did not replace federal funds or take other measures to offset these losses. Thus, although the program’s expiration did not cause Yolo and Tehama’s current fiscal problems, it contributed to them.”

  8. Malcolm Macdonald February 23, 2024

    Though I sometimes disagree with our editor-publisher, I agree completely with his take on Katrina Bartolomei’s abilities.

  9. Craig Stehr February 23, 2024

    Biggest Cultural Moment in Postmodern America RIGHT NOW!!!

  10. k h February 23, 2024

    An overflow crowd turned out for the first of two meetings held by the California Public Utility Commission at the Mendocino County government complex on Low Gap Road in Ukiah on Thursday, February 22, 2024. The Supervisors Chamber buzzed with activity as speakers waited their turn to make comments on two applications from AT&T – one to withdraw their Carrier of Last Resort designation, the first step in effectively ending landline phone service in the state, and one to end AT&T’s participation as a company that receives financial assistance from the Federal Universal Service Fund.

    Dozens of Mendocino county citizens, as well as residents from Humboldt, Marin, Lake and Sonoma counties, were relegated to the courtyard outside the main building, watching the hearing via a large screen. Mendo Supervisor Maureen Mulheren placed chairs in the courtyard so people would have seating.

    The only speaker in favor of AT&T’s two proposals was AT&T’s Vice President of External Affairs for California, Tedi Vriheas. Every other commenter urged the commission to reject AT&T’s petitions.

    A noticeable number of AT&T representatives, wearing similar pinstriped shirts, attended the meeting. Some of them manned a booth with handouts in the hallway outside the chamber. A phalanx of other AT&T workers stood in one corner of the courtyard. They looked stoic in the face of some of the moving testimony.

    The meeting started with opening comments from AT&T VP Vriheas, who said “I want to assure you that no one is going to be left without service.” She said that copper was impractical and requiring AT&T to maintain two systems was too much of a burden. She told the crowd that 20 other states had already released AT&T from its landline obligations.

    Her opening statement was directly refuted by the second witness, a representative from the Public Advocate’s office at the California Public Utility, who flatly requested that the commission dismiss AT&T’s application for a number of reasons, including failure to maintain their current COLR obligations as well as numerous major service failures. The question of whether AT&T would be required to maintain Lifeline was of special concern.

    Representatives from State Senator Mike McGuire’s office, as well as Assemblyman Jim Wood’s office, protested AT&T’s effort as well.

    “For many people losing their landline isn’t just an inconvenience,” said Ellen Velasquez, from Assemblymember Jim Wood’s office. She noted ironically that just that day, AT&T had made headlines because of a national outage which affected tens of thousands of people.

    A representative from Mike McGuire’s office told the commission, “AT&T is out of touch with their customer base. On a good day cell service is limited in rural areas.” She said that AT&T’s carrier of last resort is imperative for the 600,000 peple who rely on it.

    A Sonoma county resident buttressed these remarks. He said he did not think he would have survived the Kinkaid fire if he had been reliant on cell service, because the cell towers burned down and thus no cellular phones were working.

    Some witnesses came from as far as Nevada to speak.

    Vriheas’s opening comments were directly refuted by a witness who said he was an AT&T technician in Nevada, a state that had released AT&T from their former landline obligation. “Don’t let happen to California what happened to Nevada,” said the technician, who identified himself as Marc Elias. He said he frequently goes on service calls to areas where landline issues arise, and typically after a few visits, there is nothing more he can do, and people lose their connection to the outside world.

    Speakers included two Humboldt County Supervisors, Michelle Bushnell and Rex Bohn, as well as two Mendocino County Supervisors, John Haschak and Glenn McGourty. The supervisors argued that in rural areas, landlines are imperative for public safety.

    Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn got the only laugh of the day, when he quipped, “You’re not hearing a lot of people say, ‘Hey this is a great idea.’ The only people who are probably happy with AT&T right now is PG&E.” When the crowd stopped chuckling, he continued. “AT&T needs to bring back a better proposal. The product we are being given now does not serve the public,” Bohn said, referencing Vriheas’s opening statement that this is just the first step in what AT&T expects to be a prolonged effort to get their COLR designation removed.

    Mendo County Supe McGourty said “I consider landlines critical in my district. We have 90,000 people in this county.” McGourty said Mendo is considered an economically disadvantaged community, with a lot of tribal lands, and income under the median for the state.

    Many speakers said they relied on landlines because they are sensitive to radiofrequency and radiation from cell phones. Others stated that they believed VOIP was not a good alternative because of the danger of cyberattacks and the poor resiliency of internet in rural areas. Many residents spoke of their own experiences with landline service failures, some currently ongoing, such as one man from Ft Bragg who said he hadn’t been able to make a call in three weeks because of static on the line. Another resident who drove from Ft Bragg to comment told the commissioners that after he called AT&T to report his landline was not working, he was visited by local police who were worried because he apparently had an open circuit to 911. He assured the police he hadn’t had a working telephone in weeks. The resident said AT&T “resolved” the problem by turning his service off.

    Residents expressed concern about how AT&T would serve rural areas without cell coverage, and whether AT&T would be required to remove cables and equipment that may contain toxins from public and private lands. AT&T reps on hand, called by the commission to address some specific concerns, could not offer reassurances, punting the matter by stating that it was their understanding that these issues would be settled in the future by a CPUC administrative judge. The crowd responded to that answer with loud booing.

    A chorus of people testified to what they saw as AT&T’s failure to maintain their current copper network. One woman said she hasn’t seen AT&T show up to repair or replace anything near her home in more than 20 years. An electrical engineer directly refuted AT&T VP Vriheas’s opening statement that copper lines were less reliable than cellular signals. “Copper is the MOST reliable system,” he said. “Do not allow this happen. It is going to be a catastrophe if it does.”

    A retired AT&T operator spoke, and offered thanks to the commission “for the opportunity to object to this application.”

    Michelle Basel, from Humboldt’s Wiyot tribe, said the tribe feels very threatened by this action because almost every one of their members relies on landline phones.

    A resident of Elk stated that when an ATT tech arrived to make a repair to his landline, the tech was startled to find he could not get a cell signal. He had to use a Starlink connection to reach the outside world, because the only way to get a working cell signal was to go over a ridge and up a hill. “That says it all right there,” the witness stated, regarding cellular service availability on the coast and in the more rural parts of the county.

    The general consensus was summed up by one woman who stated that “AT&T has shown a total lack of concern for our population.” Others took the PUC to task, as well, stating that “CPUC decisions do not fulfill the social contract.”

    A retired pediatrician from the coast said that some of his patients were only alive because families had access to functioning 911 service via landlines, as landlines always have a physical address associated with them.

    One moving bit of public expression came when a woman who lives on Comptche-Ukiah Road spoke about the difficulty of caring for elderly relatives in rural areas, and how dependent those residents are on landlines. She stated that the one thing her elderly mother, struggling with Alzheimers, remembers how to do is call her from her landline every day at 4 o’clock.

    The vast majority of residents shared similar concerns – What happens when the power goes out? What about when there’s a major emergency? Why hasn’t AT&T been forced to maintain their current network? Uniformly, the crowd expressed the belief that if AT&T is allowed to withdraw their status as the carrier of last resort for California, people will die.

    • k h February 23, 2024

      Sorry for any misspellings or phrasing errors, don’t have access to the meeting records to check spellings etc, this is just from my dashed off notes.

      • Chuck Dunbar February 23, 2024

        Great thanks to you, k h, for this long summary–good job and important information.

        • k h February 23, 2024

          Overlong! But thanks Chuck.

    • Carrie Shattuck February 24, 2024

      I was seated next to a couple of gentlemen and at each statement AT&T gave in their presentation they would reply “that’s a lie”, “that’s a lie”. I looked at them quizically and they said “we work for them”.

      • k h February 24, 2024

        There was a noticeable attitude difference between the guys wearing union shirts and the PR and management people. The billions in profits, the hundreds of millions they’ve paid a few executives and the 60,000 people they’ve laid off in just the past 5-10 years wasn’t really discussed much.

        • Carrie Shattuck February 24, 2024

          The gentlemen I’m referencing were plain clothed.

  11. John Sakowicz February 28, 2024

    Looks like Carmel Angelo had a gastric bypass operation.


    I’ll always wonder: Why was the only person to speak critically — and truthfully — about Carmel Angelo during public comment at her last BOS meeting? Why was that meeting such an orgy of self-congratulations by all the local pols?

    The private party for Carmel Angelo under the “Boujee Tent” at Rivino Winery that followed the BOS meeting was even worse.

    Why must retirements of local pols be circle jerks?

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