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Mendocino County Today: Thursday 2/29/24

Showers/Wind | Cuppa | County Notes | Firearm Confiscated | Guilty Manslaughter | Remembering Edie | Haight 67 | Not Attacked | Brain Puzzle | Vote Myers | With Dog | Essay Contest | Zap Crew | Ed Notes | Regime Change | Grand Jury | Yesterday's Catch | Red Map | Measure A | Orgy Growth | Official Sneakiness | Cafe Heaven | Labor Interview | Post Crawford | Thanks Brandon | Snow Anselmo | Dunsmuir Babe | AI Libel | Silberne Hochzeit | Military Spending | Modern Titanic | Sloth Standup | Unbearable Horrors | Snow Heights

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A STRONG WINTER STORM will impact the area today with moderate to heavy rain showers along the north coast and strong wind this morning. Heavy snow will begin to fall along high mountain passes early this morning, and snow levels will continue to drop in elevation through Saturday morning. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A warm 51F with light rain, breezy & .16" in the rain gauge this Leap Day morning on the coast. Lighter rain & breezy today then things pick up on Friday with bigger rains & stronger winds. Rain is in the forecast every for the next 10 days, although smaller amounts in general.

2023: Oct 1.82” - Nov 3.24” - Dec 7.73”

2024: Jan 10.22” - Feb 14.40” - YTD 37.41”

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Wayne Thiebaud (1920 – 2021) - Cup of Coffee, 1961

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by Mark Scaramella

SUPERVISOR GLENN McGOURTY revealed his true allegiance again on Tuesday, showing once more that he has a glaring conflict of interest since he grows grapes using Russian River water that, as a Supervisors and Water Agency official, he has influence over. This time McGourty was commenting irrelevantly on plans to fix a roof problem at the County Ag building. “What we have to remember,” blurted McGourty, “is the Ag Community is the largest tax base in the County, so we [our emphasis] pay a lot of taxes so it’s nice to get something in return for our [our emphasis] money and not have to be paying for everything all the time. And I know that is a feeling of a lot of my fellow agricultural people.” [our emphasis]

Our money.” Right. McGourty is first and foremost a grape grower, and only a County official as an afterthought. Here he refers to himself and his poor suffering fellow grape growers who make hundreds of millions of dollars selling expensive bottles of wine using minimum wage seasonal Mexican workers to do most of the work with nearly free water for irrigation and frost protection and no pesticide regulation to speak of… But ask them to pay for something that they personally benefit from? Oh boy, the put-upon “ag community,” including the well-paid McGourty who double dips as a grape grower and a top dollar county employee, puts on their hair shirts and whines that they don’t get much in return for their taxes besides their millions and millions of dollars in government subsidized profits.

IN MORE IRRELEVANT COUNTY NEWS, CEO Antle read a weather report to her Board near the end of Tuesday’s meeting. 

PS. To yesterday’s report on the Board’s abrupt decision to put the Veterans Service Office back where it was on Observatory Avenue.

Laura Quatrochi of Philo returned to the podium after the Board’s reversal of the Office relocation to ask for some “calendar” information.

CEO Darcy Antle replied: “My estimate would be at least a couple of months and I will report on progress in the CEO report.” Antle who, like her predecessor Carmel Angelo, never commits to any dates for fear that someone — the horror! the horror! — might ask why a target date was missed. Antle told Quatrochi she would “hate to commit to a timeline” because they have to find a new place for the Air Quality Department. 

Quatrochi persisted asking at least for a target date.

Board Chair Maureen Mulheren jumped in saying “We need to have the CEO and staff work on it,” adding, “Maybe at the March 12 meeting we do an update.”

THE VETS better prepare for a very long delay. Whenever the CEO or the Board uses phrases like “at least a couple of months,” or “maybe,” you know they’re in no hurry. Now, having finally backed away from the obviously dumb VSO move, they hope the vets will go away just on the Board’s claim that they already went so far out of their way to give the vets back what they wanted so the vets should leave them alone for a while, a long while. The next thing you know the County Counsel’s office will need to be consulted on the Air Quality re-move, or the phone system will need to be retooled, or gosh while we’re at it, let’s paint the building, or… and dates will get pushed back further and further. The vets should hold their applause and their expressions of gratitude until they are back in the Observatory house and open for business — and not before then.

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On the evening of February 27, 2024, off duty officers received anonymous information that a juvenile may have been in possession and brandished a firearm during an altercation at or near the Fort Bragg High School. During the course of their investigation, officers identified the suspect juvenile, determined he lived within the city limits of Fort Bragg, and was on active juvenile probation with terms allowing for search. 

On February 28, 2024 at approximately 07:30 a.m., prior to the beginning of school, officers responded to the juvenile’s residence located in the 500 block of Kempee Way. During their search, officers located the juvenile, an improvised 9-millimeter firearm, and a loaded high capacity 9-milimeter magazine. 

The juvenile was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail for violation of probation, minor in possession of handgun, possession of a high capacity magazine, brandishing a firearm, manufacture of an improvised firearm, and possession of firearm in violation of probation. 

Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact Sgt McLaughlin of the Fort Bragg Police Department at (707)961-2800 ext 210. 

This information is being released by Chief Neil Cervenka. All media inquiries should contact him at 

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A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its Tuesday afternoon deliberations to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.

Defendant Jane Laycock Barisione, age 71, of Laytonville, was found guilty of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, said crime occurring late in the afternoon on March 22, 2023 on the Ridgewood Grade just south of Howard Station.

Testimony received at trial was that defendant Barisione was driving an unregistered vehicle southbound in the fast lane at an unsafe speed for the conditions during a heavy rainstorm.

The rear tires of the defendant's vehicle were "significantly under-maintained" (“bald”), according to the vehicle expert, and thus prone to hydroplaning, allowing the vehicle to spin out of control due to water on the roadway.

The defendant’s vehicle crossed over into the northbound lanes and hit head-on a northbound vehicle traveling in the slow lane, killing the driver of the northbound vehicle and badly injuring the northbound vehicle’s passenger.

The law enforcement agency that investigated the crash and provided trial testimony during this week’s trial was the California Highway Patrol.

A special note of appreciation is extended to the two Good Samaritans who witnessed the crash, tried to provide assistance to the victims, and came to court this week to testify as to what they saw happen that fateful day.

The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury was District Attorney David Eyster.

Visiting Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau, retired from the Sonoma County Superior Court bench, presided over the two-day trial.

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REMEMBERING EDIE - Services being planned for Willits woman who died as America’s oldest person

by Justine Frederiksen

Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli in 1924.

Feb. 5, 1908 — Feb. 22, 2024

For 116 years, Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli called Willits home, and Willits called her their own.

“Edie is truly a beloved person of our community and an inspiration to all,” 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak said when the town celebrated her 115th birthday in February of 2023. 

“She was dancing and living on her own until not too many years ago. She is a living testimony to the quality of life and clean air and water in Willits and Mendocino County.” 

Within the past two years, Ceccarelli became not only the oldest living person in California, but the oldest living person in the United States — the only other living person older than her was another woman born in Northern California: Maria Branyas Morera, who now lives in Spain, and will turn 117 on March 4. 

However, last Thursday, Ceccarelli died at the Holy Spirit Residential Care Home just two weeks after her 116th birthday. 

“I miss her already,” said family member Evelyn Persico on Monday, describing Ceccarelli as having “loved her birthday party” held on Sunday, Feb. 4. 

When asked if she thought it was possible that Ceccarelli was hanging on so she could enjoy another birthday, which Willits has been celebrating with parades by her home the past several years, Persico said it was “very possible, and I did wonder that myself.” 

When Edie turned 115, officials at Adventist Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits described her in a Facebook post as a “supercentenarian — someone who has reached the age of 110 and over. Born in Willits on Feb 5, 1908, on Flower Street (which now serves as Highway 20) and just a mere 20 years old when our hospital opened in 1928, (she went on to) become a local celebrity to all those who know and love her. When asked what the secret to a long life is, she stated a few things over the years, such as being content with what you have, being blessed to live a life of happiness and notably the most entertaining— to mind your own business.” 

The post also explains that “some say to live this long you either need to have good genes or a healthy lifestyle, but in this case, Gerontology experts say you really have to have both.” 

As for local services for Ceccarelli, Persico said they are still being planned and that she will provide more details once they are confirmed.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Haight-Ashbury poster, 1967

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On February 20th in the AVA I stated facts and asked a question of Ms. Cline. What I stated was:

Madeline Cline has stated she was asked to run for Supervisor.

Her campaign manager works in the Executive Office, under the CEO. She is a registered lobbyist and career politician. Where has she been for the last several years to stand up to PG&E? Also she has the same donors that McGourty had for his election in 2020.

I was told by someone that she'd commented on the Potter Valley Facebook page, about the Potter Valley Project, that she was attacked by one of her opponents for stating she's going to stand up to PG&E. I'm assuming her comment was made about the facts and question I had posted here in the AVA recently.

Attacked? Stating facts and asking a question is not attacking, in my opinion. Why didn't Ms. Cline respond to the "attack" here on the AVA where it was posted instead of another platform?

If Ms. Cline feels attacked about facts and a question asked of her, how will she function as a Supervisor?

Supervisors need to be professional and able to handle all kinds of comments, questions, interactions and criticisms with the public, on a daily basis. This “attacked” comment being made elsewhere and not addressed to the commenter shows Ms. Cline's lack of maturity and inexperience with the public.

For years numerous organizations and representatives of water agencies, even a newly formed JPA (Joint Powers Authority) ERPA (Eel Russian Power Authority) have been standing up to PG&E without acceptance of any proposals or cooperation to keep the dams or assume the license of the diversion.

PG&E is a private Corporation that does not prioritize the public's interests. They are not required to work with anyone. This has been shown recently with the increase in electrical rates that were addimately contested yet approved by the PUC (Public Utility Commission)anyway. PG&E's priorities are profits, shareholder dividends and minimal liability exposure.

It will take millions and possibly billions of dollars to stand up to PG&E and buy these facilities from them. Our Counties (Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma) do not have this kind of money to do this. We've all been standing up to PG&E and where has it gotten us? If we had millions of dollars, I'm sure PG&E would be at the bargaining table with us right now. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is a hard reality to grasp that the change in water flows will affect everything down river from the Powerhouse in Potter Valley to Marin County, especially Potter Valley. I wish this was not the case. 

The water situation is dire. There is going to be less water and it will be more expensive with the diversion continuing, eventually, which is still being negotiated. Regardless of who is elected to the 1st District Supervisor seat the Potter Valley Project will continue to be a priority to secure water rights for future generations.

Carrie Shattuck

1st District Supervisor Candidate


MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: Looks like Ms. Cline is taking a page out of Supervisor Mulheren’s playbook. Mulheren occasionally refers to my criticism of her performance as a Supervisor on her facebook page, but without identifying the actual criticism or the critic, paraphrasing the criticism to suit herself, and then saying something like, “You can’t always believe what you read.” Ms. Shattuck better get used to it. Mendo in general doesn’t handle criticism very well. But, as my late Uncle and former long-time Fifth District Supervisor used to say, “Without criticism, nothing can improve.” So, especially in Mendo, nothing improves.

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As a social justice advocate, mom and resident of the rural coast, I urge my neighbors to support Frankie Myers for state Assembly. I’ve experienced the distressing lack of resources, equity and accountability for rural young working families, as well as the ways the climate crisis is making rural life more difficult with wildfires, atmospheric rivers and power outages.

A prime example is how Mendocino County and its contractors continue to ignore community efforts to restore Bower Park in Gualala. When Assemblymember Jim Wood secured a $2.2 million grant to fix Bower Park after 20 years, local volunteers mobilized with a consensus priority-setting process and a big cleanup event.

But if it’s already this difficult to get accountability for public resources and investments, I don’t think we can trust big-money candidates like Rusty Hicks who have mostly lived in big cities like Los Angeles. Small and unincorporated communities need environmental justice and health equity; with public parks, bathrooms and transportation, fiber-optic internet, subsidized local health care and child care and clean energy microgrids with battery storage.

Frankie Myers was the only candidate at a recent forum in Sea Ranch to say the word “equity.” We need his voice in the Assembly.

Rachele Hayward


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Change Our Name Second Annual Essay Contest

Local Students Vie for $3000 in prizes

In a project designed to get Fort Bragg High School students thinking and writing about their school name, the grassroots community group Change Our Name announces their second annual essay contest asking students to write on the subject “The Name of Fort Bragg High School Should be Changed” or “The Name of Fort Bragg High School Should Not be Changed.”

Explained Change Our Name: “Of course, the 900 folks who are part of our group are clearly in favor of a name change given Braxton Bragg’s role as a General in the Confederate Army and as a slaveholder and the Fort’s historical role in dispossessing the original Indigenous inhabitants of our land. But we realize that many people and many students don’t know this history. So the contest will impel them to research and make up their own minds about the issue. The essays will be judged not on whether the students agree with us but on the breadth of their research and the force of their arguments for or against the name change.”

Contest prizes are doubled from last year and will be $2,000 First Prize, $1000 Second Prize. The judging will be independent of Change Our Name and judges are four community leaders who are either writers or educators themselves. Entrees will be accepted from March 1, 2024 to April 19, 2024 and should be sent as attachments to

More information and all contest rules can be found at

Change Our Name is a grassroots organization and 501(c)(3) educational non-profit incorporated in the state of California dedicated to towards educating citizens on American History and racial justice to change the name of Fort Bragg. This essay contest is solely a project of Change Our Name Fort Bragg and is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with the Fort Bragg Unified School District nor with Fort Bragg High School.

Philip Zwerling, Ph.D. 

Change Our Name Fort Bragg

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Zap Comix, 1968: S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Robert Crumb

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IF FORT BRAGG held a contest for its most annoying citizen, Phil Zwerling, proprietor of the eternal Name Change Fort Bragg, would win in a landslide. The guy seems terribly attention-needy. Even negative attention will do, which he will get again, and then some, with a $3000 bribe to the Fort Bragg High School student who can write a Name Change essay that accords with Zwerling's skewed reading of Northcoast history.

AGAIN, and to simplify, as Zwerling insists, America was built on mass murder of the native peoples and 400 years of slavery and insult for black people, but on that sanguinary foundation, we've tried mightily, as government policy, to make amends, and today race relations have never been better. I said better, not perfect. Humans are tribal by nature, right?

CHANGING the name of Fort Bragg, or any other American place, erases history, and in this country of frazzled amnesiacs, erasing history also ceases to remind us of all the bad things that got US from bloody then to cell phone now. Changing Fort Bragg to, say, Zwerlingville, also defeats what seems to be Professor Zwerling's life work — deploying the worst of history to illustrate his own righteousness.

I'VE BEEN ENJOYING the recent reminiscences of back-to-the-landers. I don't think Peter Lit was a back-to-the-lander, but he built an historically significant institution with his iteration of the Caspar Inn, which he turned into a thriving, entirely implausible night spot complete with big time music acts. His story should be told.

CONGRATULATIONS to Gregory GP Price, AVHS class of '83, on the birth of his first grandchild, Lupita

YEARS AGO, I GOT AN INTERESTING call from Jerry Philbrick, one that coincided with a curiosity I've had myself for a long time. The late, legendary Comptche logger got right to the point. He always does.

LIKE MANY OF US, Philbrick was annoyed by the layers of government bureaucracy allegedly saving us from ourselves with all kinds of rules about how to conduct ourselves among trees and on the water. “But they're not seeing what's really happening,” he said, introducing his take on sea lions. Philbrick said the sea lions were presently eating fish at the mouths of county rivers at such a rate it was no surprise that some rivers, like the Navarro, are now virtually fish-free. “Sea lions are an endangered species,” Philbrick indignantly declared, “but they're everywhere. Fishermen used to keep 'em under control, but right now they're completely out of control. You go down to Gualala or Jenner, you can't even see the beach there's so many of them.”

HE'S RIGHT. Sea lions are the thriving-est endangered species around and, as Philbrick pointed out, “They eat their weight in fish every day, and they finish off ten times that amount just for the heck of it. They'll bite the bellies out of female salmon for their eggs, and bite the belly out of a male because they can't tell the gender. The things weigh 1,000-1,500 pounds. Do the math.” 

I DID the math as best I could, calculating that fifty sea lions at the mouth of a smallish river like the Navarro could just about finish off the entire run.

WITH the mouths of the rivers opening and closing until the first big rains blast them open for the rest of the winter, and the big rains are often late, “The salmon are waiting out there to get up stream," Philbrick said, confirming information provided by several fishermen I talked to. "The fish come in with high tides a little ways up stream with the sea lions right behind them, but they can't get any farther up stream because there isn't enough water yet. The sea lions chase them up and down stream all day, killing them by the hundreds. I'll bet we don't get one salmon in some of our streams this year.”

WHAT PARTICULARLY outraged Philbrick, and where the arguments are as plentiful as the sea lions, is where the blame is being placed for the lack of Coho salmon. “We're getting blamed — landowners, ag people, loggers — anybody who works on land with a river or stream running through it. But the sea lions are the biggest problem the salmon have.”

WITH the “endangered species” feasting on the unspawned fish that can't get upstream because it's illegal for ordinary citizens to manually open the river mouths, and the regulatory agency reps sitting placidly in their offices down in Yountville and Santa Rosa, and the environmentalists as always pointing accusatory fingers in only one direction, well, it doesn't look good for the fish. “We used to be able to go out with a little backhoe, a small tractor of some sort, and open up the river mouths for the salmon," Philbrick recalled. "Not now. The fish are dumping their eggs out in the ocean — they can only hold them so long — and the sea lions are killing them by the thousands.”

“OH YEAH, I called Fish and Game,” the disgusted Philbrick reported. “The guy says, ‘We're really happy to hear about this, Mr. Philbrick. We'll be checking it out.’ They haven't got a clue,” he snorts.

PHILBRICK said he was taking videos of the sea lion rampages through the trapped salmon. “Maybe if a bunch of us got enough pictures of what's going on someone would listen.” He didn't sound optimistic.

LOTS OF LOCALS have seen sea lions as far up the Navarro as Cape Horn, which is half-way between Dimmick State Park and the Greenwood Bridge. Some locals claim they've seen sea lions at the Greenwood Bridge. No question the beasts are out of control, and there's no question that the beasts have to be brought back under control if the salmon are going to have any chance of coming back.

HOSPITAL NOTES: Surprised that the medicos are still wed to those embarrassing open-back gowns. I guess there's a reason for them, but when I asked nurses they didn't know. Surgery socks, I did learn, are designed to prevent falls, in that they come with a sandpapery sole to grip the floor. Mine were way too small, and I felt like I was suffering frostbite when they wheeled me out of surgery, but a kindly nurse fished out a pair of thick socks I'd brought and slipped them over the ballet-like slippers the hospital provided. Patient rooms at Mission Bay come with huge TV screens — sports bar size — via which the gamut of negative information booms into the room and via which one orders one's meals. Many of the nurses seemed perplexed that I preferred the book I'd brought in anticipation of long hours awake to the jumbo-tron. Confined to my bed for a week, I got to re-read Clancy Sigal's great road novel of the late 1950s, ‘Going Away.’ I've found a huge old age bonus in books I read as a kid but could now re-read with that original delight the first time around. With every meal, which were sparse because I had no post-op appetite, I got a bottle of chocolate Ensure. I've become addicted. And the hospital provides free daily Chronicles for all the paper-paper reading geezers like me, an amenity I certainly appreciated. Voiceless, the only way I could communicate was by handwriting, which was frustrating because my script is indecipherable. It belatedly occurred to me to print in big letters to see if I could find out a little about all the people attending me. “Who are you? Can you tell me a little about yourself?” Of necessity, and perhaps fearing post-hospital stalkers or sex pest nuisances, everyone I asked did give me their basic cv's.

GREGORY SIMS WRITES: I would like to get an update in print about the Editor’s condition. How is he? Will he be around? Can we visit, talk to him, call him, etc.?

ED REPLY: Can't have visitors, big operation to come, hole in my throat, no speech beyond a whisper, catheter… But no pain and feeling good enough to bat out a few annoying opinions every day.

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APPLY NOW for the 2024/2025 Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury! A perfect opportunity to be officially ignored by the Supervisors, rather than casually ignored at the Speakers podium!

“All qualified citizens interested in serving on the 2024/2025 Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury are invited to submit their applications to the Superior Court for consideration,” announced the Honorable Ann Moorman, Presiding Judge of the Civil Grand Jury. The deadline for application submission is Friday, May 31, 2024. The 2024/2025 Grand Jury will be sworn in at the end of June 2024. 

Service on the Civil Grand Jury is an excellent opportunity to learn about the inner workings of government while providing a valuable service to the community. The 19 members of the Civil Grand Jury serve for one year and are empowered to investigate the operations of county, city, and district governments; provide civil oversight of local government departments and agencies; and respond to citizen complaints. The Civil Grand Jury sets its own agenda and meeting schedule. Much of the work is performed in small committees allowing for considerable flexibility in the work schedule and meeting locations. 

To attract more residents from the geographically distant regions of Mendocino County, the Civil Grand Jury is making it possible for interested members of the public to participate in a safe environment. The Civil Grand Jury has implemented remote meeting protocols to maximize participation while reducing the demand for travel. 

Grand Jurors are compensated $25 per full panel meeting, $10 per committee meeting and committee attendance at public meetings. Mileage is reimbursed at the current County of Mendocino rate. There is free onsite parking. Prior to being nominated, each qualifying applicant is interviewed by a Superior Court judge. Training for Grand Jurors will be provided in early July 2024 either remotely or in the County offices. 

To serve as a Civil Grand Juror, the following requirements must be met: 

• At least 18 years of age 

• United States citizen 

• Resident of Mendocino County for at least one year 

• Sufficiently fluent in written and spoken English. 

• Not currently serving on any other governmental board or commission during the term

• Not presently holding a public office 

• Not personally active in any campaign of a candidate for elective office 

• Computer skills highly desirable 

Applications and related information are available on the Internet at: Grand Jury ( The application may also be obtained in person at the Superior Court, 100 North State Street, Rm. 303, Ukiah or by calling the Grand Jury at (707) 463-4320. 

For more information contact: 

Chelsea Leher, Administrative Technician 

Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino 

100 N. State Street, Room 303 

Ukiah, CA 954825 

(707) 468-3498

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Bettencourt, Dixon, Johnson, Mathews

CURTIS BETTENCOURT, Fort Bragg. Under influence.

CECIL DIXON JR., Fort Bragg. Controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia.

PAUL JOHNSON, Redding/Ukiah. Paraphernalia.

DALTON MATHEWS, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

Munoz, Riley, Sanchez

RACHELLE MUNOZ, Covelo. Suspended license for DUI, child endangerment.

DYAN RILEY, Mendocino. Contempt of court.

DANIEL SANCHEZ, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, concealed dirk-dagger, county parole violation.

Sanchez-Gil, Wagner, Wiley

LUIS SANCHEZ-GIL, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury-multiple victims, hit&run resulting in death or injury, suspended license for DUI.

JOSHUA WAGNER, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Failure to appear. 

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The fight between farmers and neighbors that boiled over on to the ballot spotlights ongoing tensions across the state over cannabis regulations as the industry has failed to find its footing.

by Andrew Graham & Marisa Endicott

When his dad died in 2019, Indy Riggs had his “come to Jesus moment.”

He sold his stakes in cannabis farms across Humboldt County to focus on the small pot grow he started with his father and brother more than two decades before at his family home on the south bank of the Eel River.

Riggs had long been running around the county, juggling businesses, spending time away from home and his kids.

His father’s death put things into focus, he said, sitting in the quirky yellow house with tangerine and purple accents his family erected on a bare plot of land bought in 1991.

“When we were kids here in Stafford, we built this place from the ground up. This is really where our roots are. This is where we’ve really taken hold, so I didn't want to let this go.”

His neighbors are the parents of childhood friends. Riggs exchanges honey from his beehives for meat from the pigs raised next door. “It's a good little thing we got going on,” he said.

But, Riggs worries a controversial county voter initiative on the March 5 ballot could jeopardize his family’s legacy, and future. The Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative, or Measure A, is spearheaded by a small group of local residents. It purports to protect small farmers by blocking large-scale industrial farming and also bring stronger environmental restrictions to the cannabis industry at large. Opponents, though, including small longtime cultivators like Riggs, say it could have the opposite effect and potentially wipe them out.

Though the measure would only affect Humboldt County, the tensions behind it mirror those between regulators, cannabis farmers and their neighbors in Sonoma County and around the state.

Riggs’ dad moved his kids to the cannabis heartland of Humboldt County pursuing a long-term fascination with the long-forbidden plant. Indy Riggs’ full name, in fact, is Indicus.

Riggs and his brother eventually ended up pursuing cultivation professionally, inspiring their father to start the process of permitting their 3,000-square-foot family plot when cannabis was legalized in California in 2016. He didn’t make it through the tangle of state and local regulations before he died, and Riggs wanted to finish what he’d started.

By the time that moment came in 2022, the once-burgeoning marijuana market had bottomed out.

Riggs has managed to keep the tiny farm afloat. But it’s not enough to sustain his family. His wife’s teacher salary now accounts for the majority of their income. He hopes to change that with modest expansions to his farm. But if passed, he said, Measure A would effectively prevent that and other necessary efforts by growers like him to survive.

Like other marijuana growers tucked into similarly verdant corners of Humboldt County’s redwood forests, hills and drainages, Riggs considers Measure A just the latest existential threat to a way of life that has sustained people and families in the economically-depressed region for decades.

The longest standing farmers, in many cases second generation, outlasted prohibition and the war on drugs, when helicopters and federal agents hunted for their crops.

Like others, Riggs joined the legal cannabis markets when California voters opened them up. That shift brought other challenges — most notably a massive influx of outside investment and new growers that inundated the supply side while a Byzantine regulatory system choked off access to customers. That led to a crash in marijuana’s price per pound, which drove many out of business.

Many of those who survived the rapid market collapse after legalization say they are Humboldt County’s original growers — the same ones who survived the perils of the black market.

“What remains is a lot of people with a connection to the cultural economy, a heritage of people associated with the plant,” said Dominic Corva, a Cal Poly Humboldt sociologist who researches cannabis policy. “Whether you think it’s kooky or not, their identities are wrapped up in the idea that they are stewards of a plant with a global heritage.”

Measure A is another kick, growers say, when they’re already down. And it is one made all the more painful because it originated within Humboldt County, not in Sacramento or Washington D.C.

Around the North Coast, tensions with neighbors and community groups have risen in the years since marijuana came out of the shadows. Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, the San Francisco-based firm hired by initiative proponents, have represented several such groups, including in Sonoma County, as they seek to tighten regulations or limit operations in their communities. Such friction drove Sonoma County officials to redraw the county’s cannabis ordinance, an ongoing process closely scrutinized by concerned neighborhood coalitions and struggling farmers.

In that environment, Humboldt County’s Measure A represents a particularly tense flashpoint, and one in the heart of the Emerald Triangle — an area within Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino county considered the state’s historic cradle for growing bud.

California’s low bar for ballot initiatives — Measure A required just 7,000 signatures to qualify — makes the tool attractive to people worried about cannabis farming and convinced, as Measure A’s proponents are, that local government is too friendly to the industry.

“It's direct democracy,” said Kevin Bundy, a lawyer for the firm that wrote Measure A. “It happens at the ballot box instead of in front of the planning commission and the board of supervisors.”

For examples, Measure A’s proponents say, look no further than 1996, when California voters legalized medical marijuana use through a ballot measure, or 2016, when they legalized the recreational industry.

Critics, conversely, see the approach as an end run around a more public and collaborative process. Unlike the broad outside input involved when the county developed its cannabis regulations, opponents say, stakeholders and experts weren’t able to weigh in on the actual language in Measure A, which would add 38 pages of amendments to the County’s general and coastal plans and code.

The campaigns for and against Measure A have drawn sharp lines. Opponents accuse the measure’s architects of electoral trickery and NIMBYism, even racism. They sued — unsuccessfully — to block its inclusion on the ballot, saying signature gatherers had misrepresented its purpose. Proponents, meanwhile, say they’ve been harassed and intimidated as county elected officials, local governments, business associations and even environmental organizations line up against them.

Suspicion and distrust boiled to the point where rumors floated in both camps that the other side has hidden support from big tobacco or other corporate interests. Campaign finance filings to date don’t support that contention.

A wind-swept ridge where tensions spilled over

If voters elect on March 5 to restrict Humboldt County’s cannabis industry, the decision will be traced back to Kneeland, a rural unincorporated community about 12 miles east and more than 2,000 feet above Eureka. That’s where a civil engineer and Chicago transplant named Steve Luu bought 40 acres of wind-swept ridgetop. On clear days, the view from the flat spot where he hopes to build stretches to Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Luu, who moved to Humboldt County in 2016 and works as a regulatory consultant to cannabis growers, plans to build a home and farm that will sustain his future family. He plots his homesteading dream on a decadal scale.

“I look forward to putting 20-30 years of time and energy into making this something I would want my family to inherit,” he said.

Anchoring his operation would be cannabis. Luu submitted an application to develop a one-acre grow — larger than many small Humboldt County operations but small compared to sprawling farms in other counties.

Concerned neighbors called his proposal a “mega pot grow.”

When Luu learned about the opposition, he chose to scale his farm back to 10,000 square feet, which avoided a public hearing. He describes an attempt to compromise. Neighbors however deemed it exploiting a loophole and worried he might expand by stacking permits one smaller plot at a time, bringing a growing number of water tanks and other structures.

“It just got overblown,” Luu said, “I don’t think what I’m proposing to do is a huge impact.” At least one of his future Kneeland neighbors came around once he met them and explained he intended to raise a family, not just cannabis crop, on the property, he said.

Others did not, and, according to Luu and other farmers, their opposition spiraled into the ballot measure. Two of its principal funders and drivers of the ballot measure campaign live in Kneeland, within miles of Luu’s property.

“It’s not anything about this grow in particular or Steven Luu in particular,” said one of them — retired sociology professor Betsy Watson. “It’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

From there, Watson, and her neighbor, Mark Thurmond, a retired veterinarian, connected with Bundy, who drafted their ballot measure.

But in some respects, Measure A’s origins can be traced back further than Luu’s proposal.

Corva, the CalPoly Humboldt sociologist who opposes Measure A, points to the “green rush” of the 2010s. During that period, when medical cannabis was legal but recreational use remained unlawful but likely, there was a massive influx of outside investment into unregulated, if not downright illegal, cannabis farming. Like with many sudden, natural-resource driven industrial booms, there were plenty of downsides.

“There were not good things going on,” Corva said, “in more remote areas, pretty bad environmental practices. In less remote areas, a springing up of industry in neighborhoods that were not really prepared for it.”

The people who would go on to spend considerable amounts of their personal wealth and time to push Measure A onto the ballot say they were strongly affected by the green rush. They recall how it brought traffic, crime and environmental damage — often using passionate language that has fed their opponents’ claims of an anti-cannabis stigma.

“They were hostile, aggressive drivers,” Thurmond said of new faces he saw. “They pass you, they flip you off, they force you off the road.”

Humboldt County never reckoned with its own failure to control the green rush, Corva said. But he also said any lingering prejudice toward cannabis growers is now misguided. The growers who have survived are small-scale, regulated and generally tied to the areas in which they live and work.

John Casali, who runs the picturesque 5,000-square-foot Huckleberry Hills Farm in southern Humboldt County, grew up learning from his parents how to grow covertly in patches spread out through the rugged hillsides during prohibition. He acknowledges the damage that growing undercover sometimes caused, especially as operations intensified — he recalls burying generators near creeks to hide the noise, risking diesel spills.

“We were all just make-shifting, trying to hide what we were creating in the woods. And so, as things failed because we weren't professionals at it, the thing that really took it in the shorts was the environment,” Casali said. When outsiders flooded in with larger scale operations during the green rush, the impacts were magnified. From the outside, Casali said, it was hard to tell the growers apart.

Casali went to prison for eight years after federal agents tied him to a grow operation near his family home. Today, California Fish & Wildlife and the Department of Cannabis Control bring tours to his marijuana farm to show what a sustainable operation can look like. Casali estimates he put around $250,000 into permitting and upgrading his operations when he became a legal operator. “As much as I didn't want to do all those things, it was helping the environment, and I learned a lot,” Casali said.

Corva, the sociologist, called Measure A “a holy crusade against the green rush.” But, he said, “that was 10 years ago, and these people do not know or refuse to acknowledge, let me say, because they have seen these faces, they have heard these voices, they know these stories, and yet it's still not enough for them.”

The skepticism of Measure A’s opponents can be traced back ever further still, to conflicts between environmentalists and the industry that dominated the Redwood Empire well before cannabis — timber.

When Press Democrat reporters met with Watson, Thurmond and three other proponents of Measure A at a Eureka pizza joint, most of them said environmental activism in the face of logging’s onslaught had shaped their lives in the region, and in some cases was the reason they’d moved there.

As a sociology professor at what was then Humboldt State University, Watson helped mediate disputes between environmentalists and timber companieskeeping her own environmental ideology to herself until she retired. Even Bundy, their lawyer, spent years advocating to protect old growth forests and watershed headwaters in the area.

Up against an industry that dominated the regional economy, environmentalists saw local government as co-opted and not on their side. Today, it’s cannabis that has outsized sway in Humboldt, said Ken Miller, a McKinleyville resident and Measure A proponent.

“There's a similar sort of cabal going on here,” he said. “The growers, they feel like they own the county.”

It may not be clear cutting or harvesting old-growth redwood trees, but Measure A’s backers say they’ve seen the serious environmental impacts from the proliferation of cannabis grows. They worry particularly about water, saying cannabis farms draw off watersheds while their water catchment systems reduce runoff that would otherwise replenish streams. As in the past, the county, they say, is not enforcing its rules.

Common sense protections or a nail in the coffin

The means, rather than the ends, most sharply divide the two opposing sides.

“The stated intent of the (Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative) is to support small cannabis farms while discouraging environmentally destructive cannabis operations. These principles are also our core values,” the Humboldt County Growers Association wrote in an early open letter to the initiative proponents. “Over many years of engagement in cannabis policy, however, we have found that well-intentioned policy can often produce counterproductive and even destructive results if these intentions are not informed by robust public input and close attention to detail.”

Proponents came up with what they see as common-sense provisions that would cap cultivation permits and farmable acres per watershed, block new or expanded growing permits over 10,000 square feet, put limits on water and energy use, mandate more stringent inspections and require the county investigate any complaint regarding an operation’s compliance.

“It's built on (the county) ordinance,” Watson said. “It’s just giving it teeth.”

But many cultivators argue the initiative would be a disaster that would hit farms of all sizes with restrictions out of step with reality and could encourage a return to illicit cultivation and the damage that comes with it.

They consider the permit and size caps draconian, noting 10,000 square-foot limits fall far short of qualifying as large-scale operations, which aren’t a dominant feature of Humboldt’s landscape given the regulations already in place.

Initiative details that on their face may seem straightforward, critics say, could trap growers in an impossible situation. Adding any new structures — to adapt in a changing market or even make environmental improvements — could be blocked or come with hurdles growers say are unreasonable. For instance, the addition of a new drying shed, nursery or water storage could trigger an often insurmountable condition that the farms be served by a “category 4” road, which can come with upgrades of up to $250,000 per mile. Under the ordinance for legacy farmers designed to bring unregulated operators into the legal system, there was no such requirement. Many smaller operations are tucked down winding, backwoods roads that are far from category 4 status.

Sitting under a clock permanently set to 4:20 in the office of her cannabis distribution business in Arcata, Sequoyah Hudson, who also operates a small farm in the Dinsmore area, lays out what she sees as the measure’s flaws. She’d been hoping to combine her two side-by-side 10,000-square-foot parcels under one license to stay solvent. But that attempt to save money and stay nimble could be interpreted as a prohibited expansion, she said, “even though there's nothing different with the operation other than consolidating some costs in a bigger picture.” She worries, too, that the initiative could compromise two grants she secured to install rainwater storage and solar installation.

A March 2023 Humboldt Planning and Building Department analysis said as much, warning the initiative could prevent “permit modifications needed to keep pace with an evolving statewide cannabis industry and possibly preclude installment of new improvements for environmental sustainability.”

But, Watson and other proponents say the initiative’s defined purpose — protecting the environment — should require the county to interpret situations that pop up through that lens. If not, “probably one or two (law)suits will take care of it, and the county will back off from their extreme analysis,” Watson said.

Bundy said the response from growers and county government are typical of any industry’s response to increased regulation. “They'll paint it as being extreme, they'll say this is going to shut the industry down,” he said.

Growers involved in the “No on Measure A” campaign, though, feel the threat is real enough that they’ve poured their limited resources into tanking it. The solidarity has been heartening, Hudson said, but it's meant sacrificing other priorities, like a fledgling communal campaign to promote Humboldt cannabis.

In August 2023, the Humboldt County Growers Association met over the need to rally against Measure A. The meeting turned emotional when growers said what they’d have to give up, the group’s policy director, Ross Gordon, said. With the permitting process finally almost complete for those who lined up in 2016, people were turning toward projects to build brand and get better prices “so that we can actually make some money.”

“To then be like, ‘We have to take a step back. You're actually still fighting for your permits, and you're still fighting for basic land use, it’s just a huge bummer.” It felt symbolic, then, that the meeting took place inside the shuttered Cecil’s New Orleans Bistro, a popular Garberville restaurant that closed along with many other businesses as money in southern Humboldt dried up.

The months leading up to the vote have seen a flurry of action. Proponents and opponents have shown up at city council meetings all over the county to make their case. The opposition kicked into high gear. “No on Measure A” signs dot windy verdant rural roadsides and hang in Arcata coffee shop windows. On a recent gloomy Friday afternoon, a dozen picketers rallied on a downtown Eureka street corner.

In the face of such vocal opposition, proponents have mixed outlooks on their chances at the ballot box. Thurmond, however, sees a pathway to victory through a potential silent majority.

Either way, Watson takes solace in the fact that the endeavor has brought attention to holes in the county’s current regulations and enforcement. “The pressure, the scrutiny,” she said. “I think we’ve already won a bit.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the initiative feel hopeful given the unusually diverse range of supporters they’ve collected — from environmental groups and farmers to the local Republican Party and sheriff. But growers, too, wondered if there could be a silent majority of voters, preparing to come out against them.

“If I can’t make it here, and I’m forced to leave this property, there's a really good chance that the next person that buys this place won't take care of it as well as I do,” Casali said. Those with concerns “are better off working with people that plan to live here the rest of their life than newcomers that don't know what it's like to live in these mountains.”

If Humboldt County’s small-scale growers, and the culture they represent, can’t survive, chances are dim for success across California, Corva said.

“It will be a light getting snuffed out in the county that's carrying it the brightest,” he said. “If it can't happen here, it's not going to happen anywhere.”


* * *

* * *


by Dan Walters

Sacramento is California’s capital, but that distinction is quickly being overshadowed by the city’s penchant for official sneakiness.

City officials’ hide-the-pea tendencies first became obvious in December when the city council, after adjourning its regular meeting, reconvened for a special meeting to ratify new contracts with two employee unions. 

Then, without any advance notice, it voted to give City Manager Howard Chan, already the state’s highest paid city administrator, and several other top officials hefty salary raises. 

Doing so was a blatant double violation of California’s Brown Act, which requires local governments to do their business openly. 

One section of the law requires 24-hour public notice of special meetings and another bars local governments from considering salary increases for their executives in special meetings. 

Moreover, the council voted for those raises even though Chan and other city officials knew that Sacramento had a $50 million hole in its budget, although that was not publicly announced until a month later. 

The Sacramento Bee blew the whistle on the illegal meeting and the city quickly retrenched. “The city agrees that an item regarding the salaries of its charter officers should be voted on at a regular meeting of the council,” city spokesman Tim Swanson told the Bee. 

“The city will bring this item back at the next regular meeting of the City Council on Jan. 9.” 

When the $50 million deficit was finally revealed in January, Chan said it resulted from union contracts and other spending that outstripped revenues. 

“What you all approved we can’t afford,” Chan told the council. “It’s not sustainable.” He ordered city departments to freeze hiring, travel and purchases to save money. 

The obvious implication is that Chan and other officials wanted to lock down their salary increases before revealing the big gap in city finances. 

However, it was not the only example of municipal sneakiness. 

This month, after materials for the March 5 election were distributed to voters, Sacramento’s small businesses and professional service providers were surprised to learn that a city-sponsored ballot measure, if passed, would increase their city business license fees by 70 percent. 

Why, one might wonder, were those affected by the fee increase so surprised? 

In turns out that the city council, with little discussion, had voted to place Measure C on the ballot way back in November, but city officials failed to honor a provision of the city charter requiring that a notice of the action be published in the city’s official newspaper within 10 days. 

In fact, it didn’t publish it until Feb. 7, much too late for opponents to submit ballot arguments against it, and “only after The Bee Editorial Board had repeatedly requested a copy,” the newspaper reported. 

There are late-blooming efforts by business groups to mount a campaign against Measure C, the Bee has editorialized that it should be rejected due to the sneaky process and if it passes, its validity will certainly be challenged in court. 

City officials continue to insist that the delay in publication was an innocent mistake that should not invalidate the measure because the city published it on its own website. 

During a city council meeting this month, Mayor Darrell Steinberg acknowledged the error but insisted “it was not a mistake … that in any way was attempting to mislead, and I think the best evidence of that, again, is the fact that the ordinance and the deadlines for filing the arguments were published online the very same night.” 

The message to Sacramentans from these two incidents is that sneakiness is now official policy and they cannot rely on its officials to reveal what they are doing. 


* * *

Cafe Heaven by Frank Gregory

* * *

THE STRATEGIC CROSS-BORDER ALLIANCE, Interview with Benedicto Martinez and Robin Alexander

This interview forms part of a series of interviews with prominent Mexican labor leaders conducted by photojournalist, author, political activist and union organizer David Bacon.

* * *


by Dieter Kurtenbach

Longtime Giants fixture Brandon Crawford agreed to a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.

Some Giants fans are angry.

Some are downright livid.

A player who hit .194 last season was not re-signed, and apparently, this is treasonous behavior from Giants director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

Brandon Crawford as five year old Giants fan in 1992.

Look, Brandon Crawford is a Giants legend. He’s arguably the best shortstop in franchise history. No one else will ever wear No. 35 for San Francisco again — that’s the number for the brilliant fielder who is going to have the plaques and statues outside of Oracle Park.

But Crawford agreed to a deal with the Cardinals on Monday. The Giants signed former Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed to a minor league deal on Monday, too.

It has gone over poorly.

I know sports-talk radio callers and social media posters shouldn’t be considered representative of the masses, but it’s hard to ignore them when there are so many.

There’s strength in numbers, after all, and these folks feel strongly that the Giants made a mistake in not re-signing Crawford.

We can all agree this de-facto swap wasn’t great timing by Zaidi. He invited the question: “Why didn’t the Giants just keep Crawford?”

But the answer to that question is simple:

Brandon Crawford could not, under any circumstances, be a backup shortstop for the 2024 San Francisco Giants.

And for the incredible, laudable play he gave the city, region, and team, that’s all Crawford could be for this upcoming edition of the black and orange.

The reason Crawford cannot be a backup was proved — somewhat ironically — by the outpouring of disgust and anger that started Monday and rolled into Tuesday.

There’s a lot of deserved love for Crawford. But that loyalty from the fanbase is also creating some blind spots.

Let’s be crystal clear about this: Crawford stunk last year. He couldn’t hit a lick — his bat speed was in the tank — and his defense, once the standout part of his game, took a step back. He was defensively as good as third baseman J.D. Davis in Outs Above Average last year, which is a fancy way of saying he was “fine.”

A player who is fine in the field and brutal at the plate should not be starting at shortstop for any team in baseball.

Sorry, the reality is harsh. Crawford’s decline doesn’t take away from all the great memories he made for the Giants.

But Zaidi and Bob Melvin have to win this season. And they believe that Marco Luciano, the team’s top position player prospect, is ready to take on the shortstop role full-time.

Luciano played 14 games last year and hardly took the game by storm. He posted a .641 OPS in 45 plate appearances, with three extra-base hits. He was unremarkable in the field.

Small sample size? You bet.

But it’s fair to suggest that Luciano, 22, might need some time to establish himself as a big leaguer. The Giants believe in his talent and want to give him every opportunity to do that. If it takes a few months for him to find his footing, so be it — the Giants will make that trade for what they imagine will be a decade of excellence.

You can agree or disagree with the Giants’ assessment of Luciano. I, for one, have my doubts about him at short. The team is steadfast.

What you cannot debate is that having Crawford serving as a backup to a kid — and, again, there was no other role for the veteran on this team — would be terrible for Luciano’s development.

If Crawford were on the roster and Luciano struggled out of the gate this season, do you think Giants fans would have patience?

Of course not. They’d be clamoring like crazy for Crawford.

Even if all things were equal, at least they know No. 35.

There’s no way that energy wouldn’t seep into the clubhouse and front office. No one is on solid ground in those two areas right now — Zaidi and Melvin would be able to hold off the horde for only so long.

Meanwhile, no one will be calling up KNBR asking to play for Nick Ahmed, Tyler Fitzgerald, or Otto Lopez if Luciano has a couple oh-fers in a row and sails a throw to first.

Crawford is a legend, and it will be unsettling to see him wearing a Cardinals jersey — there’s no doubt about that.

But it should also be noted that he will be a potential backup for St. Louis’ young shortstop, Masyn Winn.

If Winn struggles out of the gate, Cardinals fans — who are even more vocal and crazed than Giants fans — won’t be rallying for Crawford to replace him every day. They don’t have a relationship with Crawford, they’ll see the shortstop for what he is: a player whose days as an everyday player are behind him.

That was never going to be the case with the Giants. Not after a decade of brilliance, not after a career’s worth of memories.

Ready or not, it’s time for the kid now.

And that meant Crawford had to go.

(East Bay Times)

* * *

* * *


Snow in San Anselmo
The deer cross by the lights
The mission down in old San Rafael
A madman looking for a fight
A madman looking for a fight

The massage parlor's open
The clientele come and they go
The classic music station
Plays in the background soft and low
Plays in the background soft and low

The silence round the cascades
The ice crisp and clear
The beginning of the opera
Seem to suddenly appear
Seem to suddenly appear

The pancake house is always crowded
Open twenty four hours of every day
And if you suffer from insomnia
You can speed your time away
You can speed your time away

Snow in San Anselmo
My waitress my waitress my waitress
Said it was coming down
Said it hadn't happened in over thirty years
But it was laying on the ground
But it was laying on the ground

— Van Morrison

* * *

IN 1924 BABE RUTH was barnstorming on the west coast, playing exhibition games and doing some hunting and fishing. 

Here he is in Dunsmuir taking a photo with players from Mt. Shasta and Dunsmuir at the Dunsmuir ball park. The Babe is in the back row in the middle.

Babe enjoyed his stay and wrote the following letter after his appearance:

“To everybody (and that means everybody) in Dunsmuir, Calif.

“We don’t know yet how to tell you what a wonderful time we had in Dunsmuir. When it comes to beautiful girls, wonderfully fine fellows, and the real two-fisted spirit of California — little Dunsmuir gave us more laughs, more hospitality, more thrills, and more things to remember than any place between Broadway & Shasta.”

Quote courtesy of Reva Coon.

Excerpted from the Dunsmuir Centennial Book

* * *

I WROTE WHAT? Google's AI-Powered Libel Machine

by Matt Taibbi

Last night, after seeing chatter about Google/Alphabet’s much-ballyhooed new AI tool, Gemini, I checked for myself. Any product rollout disastrous enough to cause a one-day share drop of 4.4% for a firm with a $1.73 trillion market capitalization must be quite a spectacle, I thought. Matt Walsh’s recap was worth it just for the look on his face.

Chuckling to start, by the end of the night I wasn’t laughing, unprepared as I was for certain horrifying if lesser-publicized quirks of the Gemini era.…

* * *


Silberne Hochzeit (Silver Wedding) Plate, folio 91 from the illustrated book Ecce Homo, 1923, Original executed in 1922

* * *


by Bernie Sanders

America’s national priorities are badly misplaced. Our country spends, with almost no debate, nearly $1 trillion a year on the military while at the same time ignoring massive problems at home.

We apparently have unlimited amounts of money for nuclear weapons, fighter planes, bombs, and tanks. But somehow we can’t summon the resources to provide health care for all, child care, affordable housing, and other basic needs.

The United States remains the world’s dominant military power. Alone, we account for roughly 40 percent of global military spending; the U.S. spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, most of whom are allies. Last year, we spent more than three times what China spent on its military.…

* * *


The Millennium Tower in San Francisco is leaning severely, wobbly, and ready to tumble over. Even a rumor of Seismic Activity will topple it. When that baby goes down I’ll see it as a sign, a harbinger of disaster, like the Titanic sinking two years before the start of WW1.

* * *

* * *



On TV yesterday, I saw President Biden holding an ice cream cone. He looked chipper. Said he “hopes” the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire deal will be done Monday. 

Switch to dying Palestinian children.

Next, I saw Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu being “interviewed” by Margaret Brennen. He oiled through his falsehoods little hindered Ms. Brennen's occasional shrill question. 

Click to Gaza's ruins and wrapped corpses waiting burial.

Then, I saw Secretary Blinkin on the podium in Argentina. He looks like the ghosts of the tens of thousands of people he has helped kill visit him every night. He had the grace to stutter and choke as he denied the Palestinian genocide.

Jump to the International Court of Justice’s decision regarding the Palestinian genocide. They'll decide in SIX months. How many Palestinians will be alive then? 

View images of food trucks not allowed into Gaza.

I understand Aaron Bushnell's choice. The horror of the slaughters in our world, some engineered by our country, is unbearable. Take action from Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice.

Protest USA Funded Wars! 

Joan Vivaldo

San Francisco

* * *

Snow at Shiga Heights (1949) by Okumura Koichi


  1. George Hollister February 29, 2024

    Jerry Philbrick’s comments on Sea Lions, and Salmon are supported by long time observation. While they are not scientific, they should be the basis for scientific research, which to my knowledge, there is none. What drives everything scientific with salmon is the faith based philosophical assumption that drops in Salmon populations are the result of human enterprise. It can’t be anything else. This assumes loggers, farmers, and fisherman are to blame.

    • MAGA Marmon February 29, 2024

      NOAA Fisheries Authorizes States and Tribes to Remove Sea Lions Preying on Protected Fish

      “States and tribes can remove California and Steller sea lions from a management zone on the Columbia River and its tributaries where they prey on at-risk salmon, steelhead, lamprey, sturgeon, and eulachon, under a new authorization by NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region.”

      Removals Part of Larger Strategy to Protect Salmon

      Sea lions prey on adult salmon and steelhead migrating upriver from the ocean to Bonneville Dam, Willamette Falls, and other tributaries to the Columbia River. That is a crucial point in the salmon life cycle, after the salmon have survived the ocean but just before they return to their home rivers to spawn.

      Studies indicate that sea lions may remove large proportions of migrating salmon and steelhead. Their total consumption has been estimated at more than 10,000 salmon and steelhead in some years.,NOAA%20Fisheries%27%20West%20Coast%20Region.

      MAGA Marmon

      • Harvey Reading February 29, 2024

        If what you stated had any significance, salmon would have become extinct long before dams and diversions were constructed….funny thing though: they didn’t! And it’s humans, with their dams and diversions and poor land management that will be the death of them

    • Harvey Reading February 29, 2024

      George, what you state is pure, logger-friendly, farmer-friendly propaganda.

    • Gary Smith March 1, 2024

      NOAA and the state agencies have always agreed that the sea lions are a huge problem and have been harming salmon populations and the salmon industry. They have always turned a blind eye to fishermen killing sea lions and were even issuing special permits for a few years, but the impediment to controlling them on a larger scale has always been public sentiment. It’s going to be nearly impossible to conduct an eradication program in the public eye.

  2. Harvey Reading February 29, 2024

    Red-Blue Maps

    But all those white areas still get the representation of two senators in congress, and, since the electoral college mirrors congressional representation in congress, it gives an unfair advantage to losers like trump, who lost the actual election by about 10 million votes. Democracy, or proportional representation, that high school coaches foist on kids in Civics and US History, my ass! The “founders” be damned!

  3. peter boudoures February 29, 2024

    Just after sunrise i picked up Monte Hulbert near the old cherry ranch on 253, i guess he bought a bottle of whiskey from lemons market the evening before which lead to a free ride over the hill. Ive been wanting to talk to him
    Since thanksgiving when i rode my bike up Indian creek on my way to clow ridge. I figured the well kept cabins and trails were his hard work. Monte grew up 9 miles out low gap from the Ukiah side before moving to yorkville. He’s now been up Indian creek for 23 years.

    • Bruce Anderson February 29, 2024

      Monte. I remember the day he crashed his little motor bike on AV Way just below my place near the cemetery. He was about 12, I think, and sustained a severe head injury. He’s always been very resourceful, AV’s very own mountain man living wild up Indian Creek. Way back in front of the old Pic ‘N Pay he was under the influence and shouting abuse at passersby. A couple of tough guys were about to thump him but appeals to their humanity that Monte’s disability accounted for his random insults got them to back off. He could give lessons on how to live comfortably in the wilds of Anderson Valley,

  4. Call It As I See It February 29, 2024

    To Mark in response to Photo Op-Mo:
    Her game is simple, her favorite form of public comment is Facebook.?In this forum she controls the speech, and all her little followers believe her lies. Keep her feet to the fire in this forum. You see she cannot control the conversation. When she tries to defend herself in public forums she does not control is when she shows her true colors.

    Sako is right, she is unemployable. Her track record is failure. She has never run a successful business. She succeeds in politics because deception is the game. She has spent the last seven years as a politician, City Council and BOS. What she has left in her wake, failure. She thinks if she cheerleads, film herself picking up trash, show up to events, talk to homeless, etc. the public thinks she is awesome. She will not roll up her sleeves and take on the important issues facing the County. As a matter of fact, when she is forced to vote on these issues she has exhibited poor judgment or just votes with Bowtie Ted.

    Let’s look at some of her latest decisions:
    When asked about the Cubbison Plan by Sarah Reith on a radio show, she said “I did not prepare an answer to that question.” What? Are you kidding?

    She wants to meet with Veterans on the side, but they already moved the office without it being put on the agenda.

    Mark Scarmella exposed one of her emails I believe through a records request. She is discussing the combining of offices with a constituent. She first denies the BOS combined the offices and then admits they combined them in the same response.

    She says the homelessness is getting better using an outdated statistic. In reality, it’s far worse. You can see it with your own eyes by just driving down Perkins St.
    At this moment the railroad has sent armed agents to her biggest accomplishment, The Railroad Trail, to do a sweep of homeless because of complaints received. A normal person endangers their safety by taking a stroll down this path.

    I could go on and on about our fearless cheerleader but writing this makes me want to get therapy.

    • mark donegan February 29, 2024

      All I know is what I told you. She comes and finds me when serious work needs to be done. Especially around the homeless, we have worked several cases together. Those taken to the director were rectified immediately. I’m not going to comment on the other points you made because I believe they are as flawed as the one I just renumerated. Respect and reasonability goes both ways. There have been very few items I have not made my opinion clear to all three without any problems. I suggest you try with a new attitude and not just stay back in the bleachers throwing cheap uneducated shots at people trying to make the county and World a better place to live. Otherwise, I wasting my time trying to serve the public by making sure those people they can’t deal with are dealt with by someone. But that’s not your job nor concern until it touches you personally. Let government work at the best pace possible or get in and do it better.
      Have a good day.

      • Call It As I See It February 29, 2024

        So you’re responsible along with Photo-Op when it comes to Ukiah being the Homeless Capitol. There is nothing being done except providing services. I work with them daily. Many tell me that Healdsburg, Windsor and Santa Rosa provide them a bus ticket to Ukiah. So your bleacher talk is pure B.S. Let government work, are you a moron? Pull your head out, this county is spiraling down under the current leadership.
        Just exactly what are doing with the people that need to be dealt with, the homeless tell me everyday that you’re not dealing with them as they urinate in public and vandalize. Great job by letting a homeless sex offender cruise the streets of Ukiah and then chase 3 teenagers into a business. You and Mo probably think he was just trying to ask them for spare change. If you are educated, you seem pretty stupid. Now, you have a good day!

        • Julie Beardsley, MPH February 29, 2024

          Not to mention the families with children who are being put up in motels that aren’t cleaned, have roaches and rats, black mold, and are disgusting. The County is paying for this.

          (When motels install a small fridge, they can call it a rental, and they are not responsible for cleaning every day like in a regular motel)

      • Mazie Malone February 29, 2024

        Mark are you still on the Behavioral HealthBoard?
        Curious as to what you are talking about several cases? And taken to what director and rectified how? … hmmmm


        mm 💕

    • Mazie Malone February 29, 2024

      I walk among the homeless, mentally ill and addicted quite often, it is not scary or dangerous just important to be aware.

      mm 💕

  5. Stephen Rosenthal February 29, 2024

    I’ve bailed on the Giants since the Zaidi regime of analytics über alles (and baseball in general since the woeful Rob Manfred became Commissioner), but they made the right move by eschewing nostalgia and not re-signing Crawford. I always liked Crawford, but the dude is washed up and was 15-20 pounds out of shape last year. I was hoping he’d be an athlete who’d recognize he was past his prime and retire gracefully as a forever Giant, but, alas, it is not to be.

    • Bruce Anderson February 29, 2024

      Ditto. I loved Crawford in his prime. I thought he was right up there with Ozzie Smith. I also enjoyed watch ing Omar Vizquel at short for the Giants. Now, I watch simply because it’s big league baseball, mostly, while I wonder how many of these guys would be in the bigs if there were still 16 teams. I loved watching from the very top of AT&T, from where fans can look out at the vast Bay and East hills between pitches. I count my blessings.

  6. Julie Beardsley, MPH February 29, 2024

    Dear Editor,
    In 2009 when the 2010 Federal Census was approaching, I worked for the County of Los Angeles in the Executive Office. I was honored to be asked to be the Chair of the Los Angeles County Homeless and Hard-to-Count Committee for the 2010 Federal Census. I learned an extraordinary amount about the complexities of a census and worked closely with our Federal and State partners, and the mayors and city councils of the 88 cities within Los Angeles County.

    In 2014, I retired and moved home to Mendocino County. I began working for Mendocino Public Health in 2015 as the only person supplying statistical analysis and epidemiological data. In late 2018 when the 2020 Census was coming up, I began to sound the alarm and asked what we were doing to prepare. The County was overwhelmed with rolling out the Cannabis program, so I volunteered to be the lead and was appointed to be the county’s lead by the CEO’s office.

    One of the many problems I identified was the refusal by the Feds to send census forms to Post Office boxes. I believe this contributed to a significant undercount in many rural counties. Re-districting that relies on census counts in rural areas may be widely off the true count because of this. We all do the best we can with the available information at hand, but if the info isn’t there, you can’t make good decisions.

    The Executive Office has wasted a lot of money rearranging County departments in the past few years, but has not providing critical people like Leif Farr with enough staff to handle the workload of mapping (GIS). They did not follow up on making sure the legacy data in the Assessor’s Office was being properly entered into the new computer system. This is why the tax rolls are so far behind and we’re in a budget deficit. I’ve often said Mendo County’s motto should be “We’re penny-wise and pound foolish!”.

    This is why we need seasoned leaders who won’t just move agenda items into the future, nod their heads in agreement with the CEO, but will do the actual work to address problems. Having a certificate in policy and governance doesn’t prepare one for reorganizing a county that lacks basic procedures and processes to carry out policy. It doesn’t prepare you to manage people. Just because you have a learners permit to drive doesn’t qualify you to handle an 18-wheeler. (I’m looking at you Madeline Cline). If you so chose, you’ll have a future in politics, but right now you’re still a little green. Mike McGuire sat on the Healdsburg City Counsel for 6 years before he ran for Supervisor. I suggest you put in the time and get some real experience working in government.

    MY experience working in government tells me that there are three qualified candidates who will turn the county around: Adam Gaske for 1st district; Jacob Brown for 2nd district; and Bernie Norvell for 4th district. I hope they have your vote because we need mature, intelligent seasoned leaders.
    Julie Beardsley, MPH

    • peter boudoures February 29, 2024

      How much did Madeline cline spend campaigning? Adam says he spent 9800.00? What’s your guess for cline 20k?
      It doesn’t take a sponsorship from the wine industry to raise 20k and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to help make decisions as a Mendocino county board of supervisor. A high school diploma could get us into this mess just fine.

      “The Board supervises the activities of the Chief Executive Officer and all County departments, determines County and special district policies, and sets salaries of County personnel. The Supervisors also nominate people to serve on various County commissions.”

      • kaottoboni February 29, 2024

        Cline has raised well over $60k for a primary race
        4yrs ago Glen McGourty spent $53 k total for both primary & general races

        • Julie Beardsley, MPH February 29, 2024

          I keep asking myself why these deep pockets in the wine industry would back such an unseasoned candidate? It’s not because she has so much (like any) experience, and it’s not because she’s run businesses or managed employees. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? There is an old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. If Cline wins, it will always appear that she’s beholding to these donors, and could set the stage for potential conflicts of interests.

          • The Shadow February 29, 2024

            Her inexperience is the exact reason these people are supporting her! Much easier to manipulate for their bidding.

      • Adam Gaska February 29, 2024

        I have raised just shy of $8000 to date and most has been spent. Signs, flyers for door knocking, 1 mailer is where it went. I built my own website, designed all my own material including sign/logo. I am a frugal budget, make do kind of guy. My largest donor is a life long friend, donated $1000.

        I got my high school graduate equivalency at 16. Left home, attended Mendo Community College and worked to live at 17. Started my business at 20. Formal education has its place as does real life experience. I have more of the latter.

        • Lurker Lou February 29, 2024

          Now I’m even more impressed with your smarts and sense, Mr. Gaska.

  7. Jim Armstrong February 29, 2024

    It would be nice if posters who link to The Atlantic, NYT, etc. provide usernames and passwords so that the great unwashed can read them.

      • Mike Kalantarian February 29, 2024

        The Atlantic article, by Bernie Sanders, has an option to listen to the article using AI narration. I got curious and fired it up. Wasn’t bad for a computer voice, it had some decent inflection, but it would have been a lot more fun if they had instructed AI to do it in Bernie’s voice.

    • Bruce McEwen February 29, 2024

      Aye, Jim but they’re afraid to give name rank and serial number lest they be busted down to private and parachuted into Gaza…like those desperate heroes in Leon Uris’s Mila 18, nobody dares fight back.

  8. MAGA Marmon February 29, 2024

    Well there’s gonna be a freaker’s ball (ha ha)
    Tonight at the Freaker’s Hall
    And you know you’re invited one and all
    Uh oh
    Come on baby’s grease your lips
    Grab your hats and swing your hips
    And don’t forget to bring your whips
    We’re going to the freaker’s ball (yes)
    Blow your whistle, and bang your gong
    Roll up something to take along
    It feels so good, it must be wrong
    We’re freakin’ at the freaker’s ball
    Well all the fags and the dykes they’re boogie-in’ together
    The leather freaks are dressed in all kinds of leather
    The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too
    Screaming please hit me and I’ll hit you
    The FBI is dancin’ with the junkies
    All the straights, swingin’ with the funkies
    Across the floor and up the wall
    We’re freakin’ at the freaker’s ball, y’all
    We’re freakin’ at the freaker’s ball
    Everybody’s kissing each other
    Brother with sister, son with mother
    Smear my body up with butter
    And take me to the freaker’s ball
    Pass that roach please, and pour the wine
    I’ll kiss yours if you’ll kiss mine
    I’m gonna boogie ’til I’m cold blind
    Freakin’ at the freaker’s ball
    White ones, black ones, yellow ones, red ones
    Necrophiliacs looking for dead ones
    The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too
    Screaming please hit me and I’ll hit you
    Everybody ballin’ in batches
    Pyromaniacs strikin’ matches
    I’m gonna itch me where it scratches
    Freakin’ at the freaker’s ball, y’all
    We’re freakin’ at the freaker’s ball
    We’re at a ball
    We’re freakin’ at the freaker’s ball
    1973 Tro-Essex Music Ltd.
    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Shel Silverstein
    Freakin’ At the Freakers’ Ball lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

    Dr. Hook – Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball Lyrics

    Genius › Dr-hook-freakin-at-the-freakers-ba…
    Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball Lyrics: Well there’s gonna be a freaker’s ball (ha ha) / Tonight at the Freaker’s Hall / And you know you’re invited one and …

  9. Sarah Kennedy Owen February 29, 2024

    The photo of Edie Ceccarelli (sp?) is pretty amazing. What style especially as it was taken in the 1920’s! Goes to show that style may be an important part of survival, in that it makes you feel good, reflects aesthetic values, and is indicative of a certain free spirit (at least true style is, not just being a “dedicated follower of fashion”, which it is easy to see she was not). Bob Dylan wrote a song “ Dignity” which (I think) talks about humanity’s search for dignity as a vital aspect of our existence. I believe that dignity is exemplified in the photo of Edie.
    However, I have to take issue with Supervisor Haschak when he says she lived so long due to the great water and air in Willits and Mendocino County. Doesn’t he remember the debacle in Willits when the water was poisoned by a company upstream from a school and other residences and people got cancer and one boy died? As for the air quality, he has clearly forgotten Masonite and the horrid stench of formaldehyde that choked Ukiah for years before they were miraculously called on it. People had to move away to save themselves or their kids from asthma and lung disease. Geese!
    Not to belabor the point but the Supervisor imay be a fine human being, but his rose colored glasses need cleaning and are a big reveal on why we are having such problems in Mendocino County. Clear vision means looking at things the way they are.

    • George Hollister February 29, 2024

      When Edie Ceccarelli was born in 1908 the air was choked with smoke during the dry months, and in town during the cold months. There was a lot of burning going on then. No propane, or electric heat in those days. No city sewer system, either. At best, all went into to Outlet Creek, and down the Eel. Just make sure the city inlet is above the outlet. In 1908, there were still horses, and mules pulling carts, and plows. They did their share of pooping in the street, too. And then there were the flies. In 1908, there were no antibiotics to treat the occasional case of typhoid, and the common cases of tuberculosis. Edie escaped both, and likely as well, dypyheria, and maybe the Spanish Flu.

      Some are just destined to survive longer. Luck plays a role, as do genes, and healthy habits. We are all designed to die, Edie just took longer. It is a blessing to have the long livers among us.

      • Sarah Kennedy Owen March 1, 2024

        I agree there was pollution back then, too, and “consumption” was prevalent, maybe partially at least because of the air pollution. Most towns had industry of some kind going on and that took steam power and/or wood. My great great grandmother died , probably of consumption, in 1871 at the age of 28. She came from a small Massachusetts town full of industrious Yankees, all with some form of craft or business to make a living. Probably much pollution there! Then she came to California (SF), married and moved to San Diego County probably for her health. It was too late.
        But Mendocino County had its own problems in the late 1900’s, the Willits debacle among them. That was a tragedy that, in my view, was never entirely made right.

  10. Craig Stehr February 29, 2024

    Swami Samarpanananda: Parabrahman (Formless) and Aparabrahman (with Form)

    This is an extremely important talk by a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order in India, [] explaining the difference between the Absolute without form and the Absolute with form. Take this to heart, know the truth, and be free.

    Craig Louis Stehr
    c/o Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center
    1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
    Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
    February 29th, 2024 Anno Domini

  11. Anonymous February 29, 2024

    Clarification needed…

    Is Bruce Anderson waiting for upcoming surgery in the hospital?

    • Bruce Anderson February 29, 2024

      Yes, March 21st. Had one surgery earlier in February, one to go. Thank you for asking.

      • Carrie Shattuck February 29, 2024

        Get well soon!

      • Dobie Dolphin March 3, 2024

        Animo, Bruce. Keep up your good spirits! Hope you have lots of good books to read.
        Dobie Dolphin

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