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Mendocino County Today: Friday 3/1/24

Breezy Showers | Stroll | Rainfall Totals | Anniversary Hike | Monte Sighting | Rusty Trick | Paying Attorneys | Rainbow | Ed Notes | Price Grandchild | Not Transparent | Resilient Navarro | Frankie Overlooked | Old Tracks | Tribe Gathering | Cat | Strong Town | Laurel Street | Bottled Bitters | Bypass Waterfall | Fort Bragg | Yesterday's Catch | San Francisco | Migration 67 | Good Cooking | Terrible Poison | Best People | No Leaders | Studio View | Dear John | 3 Guesses | Biden Checkup | First Liberals | Navalny Mourning | Trashing Eden | Evangelical Christianity | Broken Kosovo | The Sentinel

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RAINFALL (past 24 hours): Leggett 2.44" - Willits 1.42" - Laytonville 1.39" - Covelo 1.10" - Yorkville 0.80" - Boonville 0.73" - Hopland 0.57" - Ukiah 0.51"

A STRONG WINTER STORM will continue to impact Northwest California with snow in the mountains and small hail along the coast. Snow levels will fall through the day into tonight with snow down to some interior valley floors Saturday and Sunday mornings. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 47F, breezy & .91" of new rainfall this Friday morning on the coast. The weather party is forecast to really get going today with rain, thunder, wind & falling temps. Sunday morning is looking to be the coldest right now. You can expect rain daily thru Tuesday with maybe a break later next week.

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(photo by Falcon)

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MONTHLY RAINFALL TOTALS for the 2023-24 rain season (Oct-Sep):

Boonville (35.97" total)

0.76" Oct
3.28" Nov
10.02" Dec

10.50" Jan
11.41" Feb

Yorkville (44.76" total)

1.32" Oct
4.84" Nov
12.48" Dec

13.32" Jan
12.80" Feb

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PETER BOUDOURES: 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. I’ve 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 nine miles out Low Gap from the Ukiah side before moving to Yorkville. He’s now been living up Indian Creek for 23 years.

ED NOTE: 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.

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Mendocino County has endured a significant setback in our electoral process, marked by misprinted ballots and an oversight in redistricting adherence. Such incidents undermine the very foundation of our democracy. Despite these challenges, the media and county officials have worked to guide the electorate toward effectively casting votes.

However, it's disheartening to report the circulation of a document misleadingly titled "2024 Presidential Election Ballot Statement Addendum," which, in reality, serves as a covert piece of campaign propaganda from candidate Rusty Hicks. This document exploits the current voter confusion for political gain, veiling itself as an official election communication. It is strongly advised that the public disregard this deceptive material.

It's more crucial than ever to exercise your right to vote.

— Ted Williams

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THE AMBULANCE JPA: Just Pay Attorneys

by Mark Scaramella

The following $250k agenda item was approved along with dozens of other alleged “routine” items on Tuesday’s Supervisors consent calendar without any discussion:

“3o) Approval of Legal Services Agreement with Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, P.C. in the Amount of $250,000 for Legal Services Regarding Regulatory Issues Related to Negotiation of the Potential Formation of a Joint Powers Authority with Fire Districts to Expand Ambulance Coverage in Remote Areas Effective Upon Full Execution through June 30, 2024.”

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman is a top flight, very expensive national law firm specializing in “health law from every angle” with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Denver and Washington DC.

This dubious “Joint Powers Authority” idea has been drifting around County offices for years. In theory it could (emphasis on “could,” nobody really knows) improve billing and revenues for ambulance services and thus, even more unlikely, “expand ambulance coverage.” Nobody has provided any evidence that it will ever do either of those things. Now all of a sudden they are throw $250,000 at a fancy law firm for open-ended “legal services” associated with this cockamamie idea. 

We looked deeper into the item to see where the $250k is coming from, and found this: “Source of funding: 4016-862189.” 

No further information was provided in the consent calendar item; just this cryptic account number. So we looked at the County’s current budget book and found that Budget Unit 4016 is “Emergency Medical Services (EMS)” which is budgeted at about $1.4 million. 

“Funding for support of fire agencies is budgeted in separate locations,” the budget book opens unhelpfully. “The direct fire agency support payments from [the] Proposition 172 fund are budgeted in BU 1940 - Miscellaneous, while the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) dispatch contract is budgeted in BU 4016- Emergency Medical Services. The costs of this [emergency dispatch] contract [with CalFire in Willits] are covered with EMS provider payments and General Fund dollars (including a specific allocation of property tax that comes from the former County Service Area, CSA #3). Both the previous Proposition 172 budgeting practice and revised process due to the fire agencies support shift [whatever that is – ms], is further described through the chart and tables on the following page.” 

But of course that “following page” does not mention how the $1.4 million was arrived at, where it comes from, nor the potential JPA. 

On its face, given the grotesque enormity of this off-hand disbursement to outside lawyers with no clear objective, this looks like an blatant, ill-considered waste of $250k. At least it should have been discussed and approved separately by the Board with an eye toward where the money is coming from and what is going to be reduced elsewhere to pay for these “legal services.”

Budget Line Item 862189 is listed as a generic “Professional & Spec Services” sub-account but there’s no separate budget line for “Professional & Spec Services,” within the EMS budget as implied by the “source of funding.”

On page 58 of the budget book there’s a passing reference to the use of the (already over-allocated) PG&E settlement funds for several things including “JPA assessment & implementation.” However, there’s no budgetary estimate of the cost of the “assessment & implementation.”

We can think of several better ways to spend $250k on Mendo’s cash strapped local ambulance services besides vague legal services for yet another dubious Joint Powers Authority. For example, the County could just hand over the $250k to the three ambulance services operating in the unincorporated area of the County (Covelo, Laytonville and Anderson Valley), aka the County Service Area #3. $250k may not be much in the eyes of Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, P.C., but just a third of it, about $83k each, would cover the total operating expenses for our small, rural, mostly volunteer ambulance providers for a year.

This is only the beginning, the so-called “assessment and implementation” of the “potential” formation of the JPA, the camel’s nose in the tent. Once the County takes this first giant step into the JPA quicksand it will be hard to stop throwing more money at it once it gets going, taking years and years of pointless analysis and meetings. 

We remember the County’s previous attempt to consolidate inland ambulance service billing which former CEO Carmel Angelo dubbed the “Exclusive Operating Area,” or EOA. We knew that exercise was a waste of time from the git-go. The County and the City of Ukiah spent years and lots of money exploring it before finally realizing it was unworkable. It was mercifully removed from life (i.e., cash) support and declared DOA back in 2019.

(‘The EOA is DOA,’ August 19, 2019:

But the Mendocino County Supervisors, proclaiming time and again how broke they are, scrounging around for every penny of extra revenue and expense reduction, blithely approved this giant waste of money without the slightest hesitation, consideration or discussion.

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Rainbow South on Rt 101 towards Ukiah (Jeff Goll)

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MAYBE BLOB-ISM is everywhere, but in blob-heavy Mendocino County many of the people at the power levers are intellectually unable to function at an adult level, adult defined here as the basic ability to write and speak clearly and able and willing to engage with the general public in a plausible manner. 

THE PRESENT County apparatus is dominated by persons unequipped to perform their tasks in anything resembling an adult manner. (Ditto for the public school hierarchies.) Worse, the present blob, where it doesn't actually fear the public, considers argument bad form, or “negativity,” an infantile world view pegged to positives — warm, fuzzy puppies — and negatives — cold, dead puppies. 

AND HERE WE ARE with a local government run by children, dim children at that. (Lots of smart, capable people at the lower echelons, of course, but government at all levels places the mediocrities astride the blobs. They're safer.) The playpen has engulfed us, as the SS Mendo, festooned with huggy bears, steams irreversibly towards the rocks.

HERE WE HAVE candidates for public office with a lot of money behind them, who wouldn't dare, for instance, appear in the ava, or even acknowledge the existence of Mendocino County's most widely read newspaper. I know, I know. Madeline Cline and Trevor Mockel are young, but what kind of young person, especially a political young person, wouldn't be willing, eager even, to slug it out in public? 

THE SO-CALLED DEBATES that various Mendo nambo-pambo groups sponsor are beyond tiresome, featuring dumb questions that demand cliched responses. Candidate Jacob Brown, running for the vacuous Maureen Mulheren's 2nd district supervisor's seat, won me immediately when he shot right back when I criticized his lapse into wuss-prose (cf Mike McGuire, Jim Wood, Jared Huffman) when Brown announced for the office. Cline, natch, would have been warned off the ava by the wine mob funding her, with her hometown Potter Valley cowpokes also kicking in a few bucks confident she'll hustle on behalf of “agriculture.” This seriously troubled county will not dig itself out of the morass the blob has created for by electing cringing candidates.

WHEN I WAS A KID, an opening phrase guaranteed to clear most rooms but, as your host, and since you're here, please hear me politely out for some following sports banalities. So, when I was a kid in the serene days before the great unraveling began, kids watched the big kids for lessons in how to play the various sports. Girls mostly didn't play sports, and when they did they were restricted to girl's rules, two dribbles and pass in basketball, for instance, on the theory that games were too strenuous for young women, not to say un-lady like. One of the major advances in our otherwise crumbling society has been the universal adoption of women's sports. 

I WAS TOTALLY into sports as a child, but got zero coaching until I got to high school, and there the coaching was iffy, although football was up to the times, which were primitive by today's standards. So here come my grandchildren, a male and a female, 11 and 10, who have been playing organized baseball and basketball since they were six, with excellent coaching the whole way, and now, still not in junior high, they play both sports at a fundamentally sound skill level. Thousands of kids, of all ages, are involved in youth sports all over the Bay Area, which may do wonders in helping them elude the minefields of adolescence. Watching the grandkids’ games, I'm continually surprised at how advanced their teams are, hence Marin County's traditional strength in both sports. Football, at a couple of high schools, Marin Catholic for instance, amazes this old timer who remembers the sport most vividly from 1957. These kids would be way too much for us old timers, but we could hold our own in baseball, which hasn't changed all that much, although so many kids are bigger, faster, stronger than ever.

WOT THE HELL? Gazing inattentively at KTVU news this morning, I was startled to see among the news heds scrolled at the bottom of the screen, “Visit Mendocino County. Magic is real.” When it isn't surreal, I suppose.

THE STORY of Mendocino County seems to range from vague to false to self-serving to non-existent, but every once in a while a reference to the very old days pops up to remind us how little we know about the people who came before us. 

From the Mendocino Beacon's Old Time Notes: 

“November 3, 1900. Capitola, known to everyone in the country round about as ‘Old Captain,’ the oldest Indian at the rancheria near Manchester, died on Thursday of last week and was buried on Saturday at the Indian burying ground. Death was caused by extreme old age. The Deceased was well known to everyone in and about Point Arena, as he has been there as long as the oldest settler can remember. It is said he was 110 years of age at the time of his death, he himself stating that he had papers to show that he was baptized at the old Catholic Indian mission near San Jose 80 years ago, and was at that time 30 years of age.”

THE MOST ACCESSIBLE mini-history of Capitola's time I've read is Blaise Cendrars recreated life of John Sutter of Sutter's Mill and the Gold Rush called, “Gold: Being the Marvelous History of General John Augustus Sutter.” The book is sadly (and unaccountably) out of print, but I've seen it in used book stores for less than $10, and worth a hundred times that because it's enthralling front to back with the truth ringing out from every page, not to get too carried away here by a riveting little history.

HOW ACCURATE as history it is, is hard to say, but fiction is often more true to the facts than the facts are with the wrong hand on the pen. I also recommend Oakley Hall's wonderful novel, “Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades,” which is set in the San Francisco of the last part of the 19th century and the first part of this one. Hall's novel convincingly evokes both the town and the times, and contains some memorable true-to-life portraits of the Robber Barons and their robberies, too.

WHILE we're talking books, I've also recently enjoyed “The Nature of Generosity” by William Kittredge, a philosophical travelogue. I suppose it could be characterized without unfairly diminishing what is a unique attempt (in my admittedly limited experience) to tie the meaning of Kittredge's experience as an American to the ongoing assault on our topography. Lots of other people have tried to do what Kittredge does here, but this is the best try I've read. 

KITTREDGE is a very good writer, and this is a very good book, which hopefully won't get lost in the annual tonnage of pure prose dreck. Susan Solnit's and Susan Schwartzenberg's “Hollow City” tracks in Solnit's strong text and Schwartzenberg's vivid photographs the evisceration of San Francisco by people with lots more money than affection for what has been until recently an affordable urban refuge for this country's talented oddballs. “I wasn't born in SF but I got here as fast as I could,” is a t-shirt inscription which nicely sums up the prevailing sentiment among lots of Frisco refugees. 

HAVING ARRIVED in The City from Honolulu in 1941 as a pint-sized oddball, I've seen it change wholesale now three times, and until now, always for the better. Solnit intelligently laments what she and every other sentient person who thinks of The City as home or as a second home the destruction of the last great place in the country, but she does it systematically without a lot of romantic whining. There it goes, folks, as we meet here today, sailing out to sea beyond the Golden Gate and above the fog, the disproportionate personalities who were once snug in a proportionate city now halfway disappeared from an increasingly soul-free City playground as sterile and as stupid as the mindless monied classes who are destroying it. I also liked Ms. Solnit's book called “Wanderlust: A History of Walking,” although I thought it got a little too unreadably highbrow in parts.

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

GP and his late wife Ethel Price

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by Carrie Shattuck

Mendocino County tries to portray itself as transparent. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. As someone who has continually researched and tried, for several years, to obtain detailed records from our County, this is not the case. 

In the County’s Strategic Plan, created in May of 2022, under “An Effective County Government Organization,” it states “Increase transparency in government operations to build trust with employees, communities, and partners.”

The County’s budget book for the 2023-2024 budget year is 687 pages. Any line item in the budget book that you want to see the detail of, such as the number of positions and salaries in the Executive Office, requires a formal Public Records Request through the County’s Nextrequest system to see the detail of that line item. The law states that these requests must be completed within 10 days and no more than 14 days. (Or an explanation if it will take longer.)

The County spends a large amount of money yearly for outside Counsel, although it has a fully staffed County Counsel office with an Assistant County Counsel and seven Deputy County Counsels, for wrongful terminations/employee litigation. I was curious how much all of these contracts amounted to.

On June 14, 2023, I did a request (#23-435) to please provide financial information or contracts pertaining to outside attorneys contracted with the County. June 22nd the County Counsel’s office called me to set up a phone call with them for July 3rd to discuss my request. On July 3rd I spoke with County Counsel Christian Curtis and Assistant County Counsel Charlotte Scott. They said that they were going to email me some information to see if it would be sufficient in answering my request and a follow-up call was scheduled for July 21st. On July 11th I had not received any emails from them. I called again, leaving a message. On July 19th I left another message.

I did not receive any information before our call on the 21st, which I was informed would now be a zoom meeting with County Counsel Curtis, Assistant County Counsel Scott and Risk Manager Heather Correll Rose.

During this meeting I learned that the County uses its General Liability policy that has a $150,000 deductible per occurrence for these claims. The cost for this policy for 2023-24 is $3,169,900 a significant increase from previous years. 2022-23 was $2,521,700, 2021-22 was $1,899,758. 2020-21 was $1,448,682. These totals are the policy premium/cost itself and do not include deductibles. The cost of this policy is spread out among all departments, whether they have a claim or not. There were five claims open. The fact that it took 37 days and a zoom meeting with Counsel to get this information is excessive and costly.

On November 9th 2023, I submitted a request (#23-852) for the 2022-23 positions and salaries of the Executive Office. I received 15 pages of a partial year payroll report which gave no position titles or totals for salaries, just names of employees. This was undecipherable as to the actual amount that each position was making. After a phone call about the inadequate information, I received a one page report (attached) with the information I had requested. This request was completed within 11 days.

Please take note on the 2022-23 Salary report, employee #3576, there is a HealthBFit amount of $25,410.72 that seems excessive on a salary of $71,946.42. I called the Executive Office to get more information and was told they would get back to me. On February 8th I called again and inquired and was told they would get back to me. On February 13th I made a request for some other items and added this old request to it. On February 22nd I was notified that the entire request was extended to the 14-day time limit by the County Counsel’s office. I’m still waiting for the information.

On December 8, 2023 I made a request (#23-929), for the 2023-24 positions and salaries of the Executive Office, as I had done for 2022-23.

On December 14th 2023, I received a response to my request that states:

“The report that had been used to create that list, for prior years, cannot be used to create that list for the current year. Once fiscal year 2022-23 completes the closing process in our ERP system, Munis, we can run that report to get you the current information.”

I called the Executive Office on January 9th to question how their department could not run their own report and was told that they would have to run a custom report and the County Counsel does not like them to do those because it takes extra time and requires some redacting of information. I responded that it seemed absurd that this public information can continue to be withheld for over two months because of a little extra work and some redacting.

On February 22, 2024 I called our interim County Counsel James Ross. He was unavailable so I had to leave a voicemail about my concerns regarding my unfulfilled request. Since he was unavailable I called Deputy County Counsel, Mr. Matthew Kiedrowski, who has assisted me with my delayed requests in the past. He stated he would get back to me. I have not heard back from him as of this writing. 

It has been two and a half months and I still do not have this information. Getting information, especially about the budget, from this County is deplorable as you can see from the excessive time and follow through it takes to get these requests. 

Considering the recent events with the District Attorney, Mr. Eyster and the Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector, Ms. Cubbison, about reimbursements being denied and mis-use of public funds allegations, I thought it would be prudent to do a request to see if others had been denied their reimbursement requests. 

On January 8th I did a request (#24-14) that states:

“Please provide documentation of all unapproved reimbursement requests submitted by all members of the Board of Supervisors and CEO/Executive Office to the Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector’s (and previous Auditor/Controller’s) office between January 1, 2019-present. Also, please provide ANY documentation (memos, letters, e-mails, etc.) or correspondence (memos, letters, e-mails, etc.) Including internal and outside consultation including any Attorney/Counsel related to denial of reimbursement.”

I have learned over the years that this excessive explanation is needed in a request to acquire the information you are looking for. Otherwise the response will not contain detailed information or documents.

January 18, 2024 I received this message.

“The County has received your request for documents, dated January 8, 2024. Pursuant to Government Code section 7922.535(c)(1) and (2), the County is extending the time limit established in section 7922.535(a) for fourteen (14) days. Therefore, the County shall respond to your request no later than February 1, 2024. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.”

The same day I received this message as well:

“The County has begun its search for records responsive to your request. However, we would like to clarify what you are requesting.

“We are interpreting your request as a request for reimbursement requests that were denied. If this is not accurate, please let us know.

“Additionally, with regard to the portion of your request seeking records related to members of the CEO/Executive Office, given that the executive office has a number of clerical and support staff, can we limit your request to records related to the CEO and Deputy CEOs?”

I responded the same day:

“Hi, In response to the clarification of CEO/Executive Office staff. Yes, please include Deputy CEO's as well as Executive Office Department Heads, such as emergency services, IT, etc.”

On February 1st, I received this message:

“We have located some records that may be responsive. We will review and produce the nonexempt information within any such responsive records. To the extent there exists any ‘consultation including any Attorney/Counsel’ within any responsive records, such information and records are protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege and are exempt pursuant to Government Code section 7927.705.

“In addition, as you may be aware, there are 2 former Supervisors who served within the time frame of your request, from January 2019-December 2020, I am trying to determine if I can locate any responsive records through an email search, but that will take more time and coordination with IT. Additionally, I am working with EO to determine which, if any department heads were within the Executive Office in the time frame you requested and conducting that follow up as well. I anticipate providing you with a further update on this PRA on or before February 9, 2024.”

On February 9th 2024, I received several files with claims. One file contained 18 pages of documents, 15 relating to a hotel reimbursement claim Supervisor McGourty had filed related to an emergency meeting on the coast and the other 3 pages were for Supervisor Mulheren for the same reason/event. The second file contained 3 pages of a denied request from former CEO, Ms. Carmel Angelo, for a $1,109.44 laptop. 

On February 19th I received these messages and a file:

“I am writing to follow up and conclude your PRA 24-14. The County has located 3 additional reimbursement requests specific to the Executive Office for the time period requested (2019-present). Please see the records released this morning reflecting 2 requests that were rejected for being shortly after the fiscal year end and one request that was rejected for not having the attachments reflecting personal payment account information I have made redactions to address the right of privacy in personal contact information, financial/credit card information and insurance policy related information. I am informed that there are no other responsive records to your PRA request. This concludes and fulfills the County’s response to your PRA.”

I received a file containing 11 pages, from 2020-21, 5 pages regarding a denial to the CEO, Ms. Antle, in the amount of $862.99 for an Electric Commuter Bicycle. The other 5 pages were for a denial to Ms. Pierce in the amount of $1,000 for Premium Reimbursement/Insurance Policy. 

This request revealed that our current CEO, Ms. Antle, who had a salary for Fiscal Year 2022-23 of $184,615.51 submitted a claim for an Electric Commuter Bike in the amount of $862.99 (attached). Considering her salary, which is well above our County average, it’s concerning that she would submit such a claim. I’m glad as a taxpayer that this claim was denied as it appears that it would have been a mis-use of public funds. 

This request only took 41 days, from January 8th-February 19th. I have had a request, in the past, that took 4 months.

While a request is “open” and the County is gathering the information the public cannot see what the requester is requesting. Once the documents and information have been provided it is then “closed” and it may be available for the public to see. I state “may” be able to see as some requests are “published” and some are “unpublished.” Some remain unpublished if there is sensitive or confidential information in the request, such as an arrest record or juvenile information, etc.

I discovered last year that all of my requests were being unpublished even though none of the information was sensitive or confidential. I asked the CEO, Ms. Antle, why they were not being published and was told that it is up to the individual departments to publish or unpublish. That seemed odd to me so I inquired if there was a County policy in determining that. She said she would get back to me. She never did. But since then my requests are now published and available for the public to see. 

Several weeks ago I visited the Tax Collector’s office to get the Default Property tax list. I have been calling, trying to get this list since last year. This list is supposed to be printed in the local newspaper yearly before the Default Property Tax Auction. It has not been printed in the newspaper and an auction has not taken place since 2019. This list currently does not exist. Due to the computer transition, for the last several years, they cannot print this list. Our County is in a financial crisis and needs every penny it can collect. The Tax Collector’s office also related that they have not seen a Supervisor in their office in 4 years to see how the office was running, their needs, etc., even with the recent suspension/ejection of the elected department head, Ms. Cubbison. They did, however, relate that a Supervisor had been into the office recently inquiring about a private citizen’s property tax information.

These are only a few examples of the requests I have made to get more detailed information. As you can see, it’s extremely burdensome, frustrating and lacks transparency. Anyone reading this is probably less inclined to seek out information considering the back and forth and the amount of time it takes. This is public information that is being sought and should not be this difficult to acquire. One cannot help but feel that information is withheld on purpose and when we do actually get the information, is it accurate. 

When you are being a watchdog of the public’s money and questioning the functioning of our County, these are the “hoops” that you have to jump through. I can’t help but wonder if other citizens’ requests are as delayed as mine. 

The County needs to be more timely and forthcoming with their records to help increase transparency. The Board of Supervisors and Departments, especially the Executive Office, need to foster better communication to ensure efficient county operations and budget goals.

The County website needs a major overhaul. It is difficult to find meeting schedules, contact information for departments and when doing a search, very old information (2018) is displayed first.

The ( website is a resource for the public to access budget information about their County. Our County currently displays the County’s 2021-22 budget. I have asked about this and was told it is a software problem. This is unacceptable and should have been addressed years ago. 

How can we give input and feedback to our elected officials if there is not adequate and timely information to make a recommendation or suggestion with? Our County needs all the help it can get, on many levels, and will require everyone working together to make it happen.

If anyone would like to or has done a request for information and needs help navigating the Nextrequest system, I would be happy to help. 

Carrie Shattuck

Concerned Citizen

1st District Supervisor Candidate


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FRANKIE MYERS, THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN CANDIDATE to run for a North Coast Assembly seat, worries bias has blunted his bid

As the District 2 Assembly race turned to a fierce competition for backing from political, environmental and labor groups, Frankie Myers said he feels he has been overlooked.

by Alana Minkler & Andrew Graham

When Jim Wood announced he would not run for reelection to his North Coast Assembly seat, Frankie Myers, Vice Chairman of the Yurok Tribe, decided to make history and jump into the race for Assembly District 2.

He is the first Native American candidate to run to represent the district.

Campaigning on both his and the Yurok Tribe’s track record of ambitious environmental work, which includes the largest dam removal in American history and the reintroduction of the California condor, Myers felt his background and accomplishments gave him a fair shot, even in a crowded field.

But as the race turned to a fierce competition for backing from political, environmental and labor groups, Myers said he felt as though the people awarding those endorsements overlooked him. Myers did win endorsements from two Humboldt County supervisors and a number of business owners and prominent individuals, but the only organizations that have endorsed him were tribal groups, while three of his opponents mopped up the nods of labor unions and political organizations.

His concern deepened with a rejection email from the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter.

“We feel that your message is extremely valuable and greatly deserving of the wider audience this campaign is providing,” the chapter’s political chair Victoria Brandon wrote to Myers on Jan. 20, “but your remote location, comparatively poor fundraising and lack of name recognition in the population centers of AD002 make the possibility of success too slight to justify an endorsement.”

The group chose to back Santa Rosa City Council member Chris Rogers instead.

At the time, Myers was only around $30,000 behind Rogers in fundraising. But Myers said that message echoed the reasons other political organizations gave for passing him over. He considers it the application of a set of standards that excluded not just him, but anyone from a reservation — which were historically, and deliberately, placed in remote areas — from trying to run for statewide office.

“It just makes me question this whole system and the assumptions we make,” Myers told The Press Democrat. “Just what are we saying to other tribal leaders? That we should never think about running for office if you're born in the wrong location? Too bad, and if you don't have money, then don't even try it.”

Brandon, the author of the Sierra Club email, says it was not her intention to discount his experience; she said their endorsement committee was weighing the tough realities of a short race and the high need for funding, name recognition and accessibility.

“The endorsement was based not only on assessment of the candidates as individuals, but also on our assessment of their chances getting elected,” Brandon said. “It's hard being a candidate from a remote rural area. It's hard raising money that you need, especially if it's a very well-funded primary race. We've got two candidates in there who were spending like crazy.”

Brandon was referring to California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks and Healdsburg councilwoman Ariel Kelley. Both candidates have turned the race into a multimillion dollar spending affair, largely through statewide policy organizations and donors outside the district, in Hicks’ case, and through family wealth and well-funded individual supporters, in Kelley’s case.

Rogers also has staunch environmental credentials. He’s worked in environmental and clean energy advocacy both outside elected office and as council member and former mayor. He’s also served on the SMART train board and as chair of the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority.

For a year before his campaign, he also served on the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter board. Brandon said fellow board members put aside that fact when they made their endorsement choice.

Myers, she said, did impress: “We were all really knocked away by his record of accomplishment and by his evidently heartfelt commitment to environmental values.”

As an activist and later as an elected leader, Myers has been a key advocate for the removal of four dams along the Klamath River that have blocked salmon migration and degraded the Yurok and other tribes’ historic food source. Those removals are now underway. Three of the dams were breached in January, generating headlines and exciting environmentalists nationwide.

The Yurok tribal government he helps lead has around 600 employees. In 2022, in another environmental milestone, they successfully reintroduced giant California Condors to the North Coast, 100 years after they disappeared.

Brandon said that the Sierra Club’s chances of endorsing a candidate from a remote area, such as a reservation, would increase with a showing of higher fundraising abilities.

“Getting more money would certainly help a lot — I'm saying that kind of sadly, because I wish our system didn't operate that way, but it does,” she said. To date, Myers has raised a little more than $147,000. Rogers has raised a little more than $328,000.

Endorsements and fundraising can often go hand in hand. On Jan. 20, the date of the Sierra Club’s email, The Press Democrat reported that Rogers had disclosed $125,000 in donations and Myers had disclosed $95,500. Myers’ fundraising has slowed, in comparison to other candidates, as the race has progressed and political observers label Rogers, Kelley or Hicks the likely “favorites” in the race.

“Endorsements don't necessarily equate directly to how many votes you're going to get, but they definitely, definitely correlate directly to the money,” a politician can raise, Myers said. “And then that does correlate to voters, right? Because if you want to get your message out to voters, that costs money.” That’s particularly true, he said, in a short race in a geographically sprawling district.

To Myers, and other Native American politicians and advocates in California interviewed by The Press Democrat, the candidate has run smack into the challenges Native leaders face running for office in California.

Such structural barriers are part of the reason California — a state with 109 federally recognized tribes and more Native Americans within its borders than any other state — has only had one tribal state legislator in its entire history, and he only won office within the last seven years.

Knowing he would be the first Native American to run for the North Coast Assembly seat, Myers reached out to that member, James C. Ramos, who represents California’s 45th Assembly district, south of Los Angeles. Ramos has endorsed him and contributed to Myers’ campaign.

Ramos, a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Indian Reservation and member of the Serrano and Cahuilla tribes, became the first California Native American state lawmaker in 2018 when he defeated Republican San Bernardino City Councilman Henry Gomez Nickel.

It wasn’t his first race, and he has faced ignorance and stereotypes throughout his political career, Ramos said.

“When I ran for the County Board of Supervisors in San Bernardino County, the person that I ran against, put out mail and said that I was from a foreign nation,” Ramos said. “And I had to work harder to explain to the constituents that I represent the state of California, that I could represent them, and the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924 granted that right for (Native) people to run and hold office.”

Native American politicians trying to shift from tribal government to winning races for county or state governments face the burden of an electorate whose views of how tribal governments work are shaped by stereotypes.

“We've definitely heard the idea that your experience in tribal government doesn’t always equate to the experience of running (nontribal) government,” said Calvin Hedrick, a community organizer with California Native Vote Project.

“We have to start looking at that experience as being on par with any other elected official,” he said.

The California Native Vote Project does not back specific candidates, but they push for increased Native American turnout in California elections and building political power in tribal communities.

Electing Indigenous candidates is critical, Hedrick said, for confronting long-standing injustices such as the lack of attention paid to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and improving state education so history lessons don’t shy away from topics like genocide and tribal disenfranchisement.

“My grandmother used to always teach me that, you know, ‘this is not our game. This politics business is not our game, but we have no choice but to learn the game,’” Hedrick said. “She was talking about the language of lawyers, professors, politicians. That's how we get away from this place where we are not a part of this system, away from that disenfranchisement.”

Upon reaching the Legislature, Ramos made better education on tribal issues a policy goal.

“Representation truly does matter,” he said. “I deal with retail theft, I deal with suicide prevention. But I also deal with tribal issues (confronting) the educational system in the state of California … And I think if that would have been done a long time ago, we wouldn't be at a point where there’s a Native American running and people are questioning whether they have the expertise to move forward.”

Tribal leaders are liaisons between state and federal powers and participate in momentous policymaking, Ramos said. His own work as a tribal councilman included policy work with several state governors and former President Barack Obama.

“There's some that still paint you into a picture of ‘you’re from an Indian reservation.’ This is basically all you know … when it's far more than that,” he said.

Myers’ background, his involvement in infrastructure building, collaboration with state leaders and the Klamath dam removal project all make him a good representative for the district, Ramos argues. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Hicks, but he visited Humboldt County in late January, meeting with Myers and other tribal leaders about salmon restoration.

But Myers told The Press Democrat that in endorsement interviews he was most routinely asked about gambling and casinos — while the Yurok Tribe does have a small casino that celebrates years when they break even, it has sought economic stability through other pathways.

Myers worries he could come off as complaining in saying that he was overlooked during the endorsement process, he said. He is proud of his campaign and believes his message has resonated with a lot of voters. In late January, he hinted at his frustration in an editorial board meeting with The Press Democrat.

“When this is all said and done, I'll probably make comments about the institutional racism that we've seen throughout the endorsement process, but I'll leave that to later date,” he said then, but didn’t elaborate.

In a February interview, after Press Democrat reporters obtained the Sierra Club’s email, Myers said he had decided to begin speaking out about his concerns.

"It's not good enough for me to just run as a candidate,“ he said, ”but I also have to address these inequities and the institutional racism that comes up, because if I don't do it, then I leave it to the next person.”


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by Cat Spydell

A year ago on Valentine’s Day, my work-exchange tenant Dee moved back to Los Angeles to stay with an ailing friend, and my experience of living off-grid in the redwood forest in Philo changed.

When I moved here from the suburbs of Los Angeles to this remote Philo property we call Dragonwood in 2019, I brought a menagerie of animals and people. My good friend Morris and his wife, the aforementioned Dee, were my property managers and helped me with the small animal rescue called Pixie Dust Ranch that I run from my backyard. I brought a large pony, goats, felines and canines, and a random traveling peacock with me when I moved in. Since then Morris has passed away, Dee stayed on in their RV, and we have had a few property managers take a crack at it, so most days, there have been others here. Until February 14, 2023, when I found myself suddenly living alone in the woods.

Thoreau was not far off when he famously wrote in Walden: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach …” Of course he said more than that, but I found myself mirroring the experience of learning what I hadn’t had to learn before, when “back up” people lived here and could help me out when needed.

Living alone in the woods proved challenging mostly because of having to feed the animals twice a day without said “back up.” In the winter, that sunset at 4:45 p.m. made every trip to town feel like an emergency as I hurried home trying to beat the darkness, since Rad the Peacock won’t eat dinner after sunset. (More about Rad the Peacock can be discovered in the September 2021 AVA: )

Also, coming through the main gate after dark is no fun either. You know nighttime is when the big cats and bears come out, right? Getting out of the vehicle to open and close the gate in the pitch darkness always has me imagining every killer-in-the-woods horror movie I have ever watched. But once I get past the gate and back in my car and drive the dirt road home to Dragonwood, I always feel safe (especially with my 120-pound-plus guardian dogs protecting us all from such night-time beasts).

Over my year spent alone, I enjoyed the solitude, and I did grow used to the quiet, and could appreciate hearing only the familiar sounds of the ravens and blue jays, the chortling creek, the wind in the trees, and even, the sound of silence.

I had time to write, and to deeply think. I took on a few extra work projects. I communed with the trees, sun, sky, moon, and stars, and all of the local wildlife, and of course the rescue animals on the property. We all shared a sweet, peaceful existence together that I soon grew very used to. But with everything on the entire property becoming only my responsibility, I realized that this phase of my life had to be temporary. Even leaving the property for more than an overnight trip was a challenge. I enjoyed the serenity, but was no longer as free to come and go as I was when others resided here as well.

In late spring 2023, my boss Ken, who was also my friend and mentor, passed away, and I lost my main job. Things looked bleak. Ken’s life partner is my long-time business partner Gin, and both of us found ourselves under-employed and struggling with such a huge loss. I found myself in a type of “walkabout” almost losing Ken made me realize that I also hadn’t fully mourned a flurry of other losses. I found Amanda, an excellent and supportive grief counselor through the Anderson Valley Health Center, and finally was able to dig into the emotions I hadn’t released about losing my mother in 2018, which spurred my move in 2019 to Philo. Since then, I also lost most of our very elderly resident animals one-by-one over the past half decade: the potbelly pig, three goats, my favorite best dog in the whole world, and the big red pony.

While attending grief counseling sessions, I also started to see an acupuncturist for the first time ever at the same Boonville medical center. I was a tad bit skeptical at first, mostly because I was concerned about the idea of needles being inserted in my skin, and I didn’t know much about that ancient art. From the first session, I was impressed that while the therapy was subtle, my temporomandibular disorder (TMJ) from an old jaw bone injury was softened and less painful. Subsequent acupuncture appointments twice a month soon proved completely beneficial to my entire being, and missing a session once due to a fallen tree in my driveway showed me how steadily my healing was going via acupuncture, by how I felt when I didn’t have it done. I’m a huge acupuncture fan now, and so grateful for Melanie’s professional and insightful ongoing care.

Meanwhile, I found that being here alone in the deep woods was incredibly healing in other ways too. I had time to reflect without interruption. I watched self-help seminars and learned more about positive thinking and affirmations, and learned a lot about self-care, including yoga, breathing, restful sleep, and even “slugging” (a moisturizing regime). I became a bit of a recluse, writing my novels surrounded only by trees, nature, and the ranch animals. I didn’t have a lot of visitors because I was mostly staying in my private studio cabin and not utilizing the Aframe “community house,” which meant I wasn’t building fires or cooking big meals, but just keeping to myself for the first time in my adult life.

In January 2024, I heard from Dee that her friend she was caring for had passed away and she was coming back home in February. She moved back in mid-February, a year and a day after leaving in 2023. By that time, I was feeling emotionally healthy again and my counselor and I mutually decided to end the grief therapy sessions right before Dee returned. At the same time, another impending tenant, Terese, who has been setting up an RV at Dragonwood for a few months, worked out her living situation here and also moved in. Meanwhile, another old friend I’d met in Mendocino in the mid-90s, who we called Mendo Jen, was facing a housing crisis of her own. Though she isn’t “country tough” (yet!), I extended an offer for her to move onto our schoolbus guest RV, with many warnings and caveats about country living culture shock (the bus is the same “Flaming Green Pickle Bus” mentioned in AVA in December 2019: .

So Mendo Jen and her elderly cat she’d gotten years ago through Pixie Dust Ranch also moved to Dragonwood after a 25-plus year absence from Mendocino County, the same weekend Dee and Terese moved in. I went from being alone for a year to having three badass female work-exchange tenants join me at Dragonwood within 72 hours. It was downright magical.

Everyone is still getting settled. I call myself the Drill Seargent, not because I bark out orders and get people to do pushups, but I am “training” everyone all the “ins and outs” of living on this unique deep-woods property. Our last few days have been hopping; Dee getting settled into the Aframe while she gets her RV ready to move back in. Jen and her elderly cat getting situated as she gets used to “bus life,” and Terese like the perfect guardian angel helping everyone and making sure all have power, generators, lighting, firewood, etc.

The animals are loving this new transition. The Aframe stripey cat Cleopawtra is ecstatic; she’s mostly lived alone the past couple of years in that big hard-to-heat 60 foot tall house, but now has someone to sleep next to, and four women who all want to pet her. The guardian dogs have “Dee the Treat Lady” back, and couldn’t be happier as well. Rad the Peacock has always loved Dee and is excited she has returned. Rad is content watching all the activity from his perch in his “winter apartment” built in an old wood storage structure. Dee talks to him and gives him bites of her PB&J sandwiches too. What more could a peacock want?

It really hit me how different things are at Dragonwood the other day as I walked into the Aframe from my studio: It was warm from a fire I didn’t build, and there was food cooking to nourish us all that I didn’t prepare; the women were all chatting, and I was even offered a much-appreciated alcoholic beverage made with booze I didn’t buy. The next morning when I went in to get the Aframe coffee pot going, I noticed the daytime kitchen light I remembered turning off the night before was on. Puzzled, and upon further investigation, I discovered there was a freshly-made pot of hot coffee ready to go. I could hear the Hallelujah chorus in my mind. Coffee! Coffee that I didn’t have to make myself! A feeling of contentment has washed over this whole place. There is a new sense of “gathering.” Dragonwood is a community once again.

There is a definite vibe here now I jokingly call *Green Acres Meets Golden Girls*, but in reality, that’s not too far off: though some of us started off as “city slickers,” I also lived in the country in Comptche before electricity was brought to the south end of Flynn Creek Road in the early-90s, and have experienced my share of off-grid, outhouse-journeying, getting-water-at-the-trough-on-Comptche-Ukiah-Road type of living. But like Eva Gabor’s character, I also have enjoyed living the city life in LA , including being a part of the underground music scene, and spending weekends dressing up and going out to clubs, (which is probably why I now dress up just to go to Safeway). Like in a twisted combination of those two old TV shows, we are a conglomeration of women living together, and making it work.

Dragonwood feels like a warm and welcoming home once again. With everyone pitching in, I still have time to write and work remotely, and I can worry less about the property details since I have help again. When I returned home past sunset from Fort Bragg earlier this week, the animals were fed and in bed, thanks to Dee. Jen is acclimating with wise Terese’s counsel, and we are all making plans together in the “real world,” starting with Jen and Terese getting a local hair cutting appointment together, with Dee driving them there.

We are all distinct individuals with differing personalities. But for now we are experiencing a comfortable end-of-winter together, and like those vibrant spring flowers about to pop all over Mendocino County after these challenging rains, we too will likely bloom in a beautiful way as we figure out our individual places here. As we unfurl, I believe we will continue to respect this unique environment, thrive and especially, heal, as we all move forth, just a tribe of women creating a new life surrounded by a forest of trees.

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(photo by KC Meadows)

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(Mike Geniella notes: I’m hearing Tommy Wayne Kramer and Jitu Ishwar have paired up to lead this civic campaign.)

Good afternoon,

We have some very exciting news to share—Ukiah has just been named one of the 16 “Strongest Towns” in the Nation and the only nominee in California! The press release, attached and below, explains the nomination and the contest that could lead to our community being voted number one.

This “March Madness”-style competition will require participation from as many people as possible and weekly voting, so please share this information with your networks!


Shannon Riley

Deputy City Manager


300 Seminary Ave

Ukiah, CA 95482

Office 707-467-5793

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Ukiah Named One Of The 16 “Strongest Towns” In The Nation; Will “Compete” To Become Number One

Ukiah, CA. February 29, 2024 - Ukiah has been named one of the 16 “Strongest Towns” in the nation and the only nominee in California! To become #1, Ukiah will go head to head with 15 other North American cities in the 9th Annual Strongest Town Contest, and voting begins Monday, March 4. In this bracket-style voting tournament, Ukiah will compete for the “Strongest Town” title by shining a national spotlight on its progress toward safety, financial resiliency, housing and transportation. Help support this small, Northern California city that’s doing big things!

Cast your vote for Ukiah, starting Monday, March 4, at

Competitors will advance over five rounds in a March Madness-style competition, based on weekly voting periods. One champion will be honored at the Strong Towns National Gathering, with two representatives flown in and presented with an award. Strong Towns will also create a short documentary film about the winning city.

Here’s how voting works. In the first round, Ukiah will compete with three other cities in a special category, “Building Better Budgets.” Then, all cities will advance to Round 2, where they will compete head to head and advance weekly based on votes collected during that period:

R1: Meet Your Contestants (March 4–8).

R2: Sweet Sixteen (March 11–15)

R3: Elite Eight (March 18–22). 

R4: Final Four (April 1–5). 

R5: Championship (April 8–12). 

Monday through Thursday of each round is a new voting period, so it’s important that people cast a new vote for Ukiah each week.

The Champion will be announced on Monday, April 15. Previous contest winners have adapted their roads to be safer and pedestrian friendly, created public centers where local commerce thrives, and provided access to community services through a strong network of community partnerships. What do all these Strongest Towns have in common? They put people first.

Strong Towns is a 501c(3) nonprofit and media advocacy organization that shifts conversations around the North American development pattern. Through articles, podcasts, videos, live events, and city partnerships, they provide knowledge and tools to help cities transform their streets and communities. This is their 9th annual Strongest Town Contest.

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Noyo Harbor Inn Releases Craft Line of Bottled Bitters for Guests And Drink Enthusiasts

FORT BRAGG, CA – Travel and cocktail enthusiasts can rejoice as the Mendocino Coast’s Noyo Harbor Inn has launched a new line of craft bottled bitters.

“We infuse whole-grain alcohol with dried and cured flowers, fruit, herbs and spices – many of which are grown locally – in order to enhance the flavor profiles of our cocktails,” said Laura Spradlin, resident mixologist at the inn’s on-site HarborView Bistro & Bar, where she specializes in bitters and other handcrafted ingredients.

And now, anyone interested in creating their own uniquely flavorful cocktails at home can acquire four-ounce bottles of these all-organic “Noyo Harbor Bitters,” which are available for $20 in the Noyo Harbor Inn gift shop, or may be ordered via mail for a shipping fee of $8.95. Contact: / (707) 961-8000.

As the inn’s bar manager, Spradlin is known as the “Mendocino Coast’s cocktail maven” with more than 30 years of experience in creating signature craft cocktails and inventive homemade bitters. “I like to create intriguing flavor profiles that provide a memorable experience for our guests,” Spradlin said. “Now they can bring these flavors back home.”

Upgrade Your Cocktails

The new retail line-up includes Candy Cap Mushroom; Black Currant Charred Cedar; Spicy Habañero and Lime; Burnt Orange; Coffee and Pecan; Lime; Lemon; and Lilac bitters, all sourced and created by Spradlin.

Want to see what these bitters taste like before you buy? Visitors to the inn’s 1920s-style bar known for its nightly happy hour deals will find them in a real range of cocktails including the Candy Cap Mushroom Old-Fashioned made with homemade candy cap bitters; the Spicy Bloody Mary made with habanero and lime bitters; the Blood Orange Moscow Mule and its burnt orange bitters; the Black Magic Blackberry Mojito with its black currant charred cedar bitters; the Pomegranate Thyme Margarita made with burnt orange bitters; and the Lilac Martini with lilac bitters. 

Open year-round, including holidays, the Noyo Harbor Inn’s on-site, full service HarborView Bistro & Bar is beloved for its fresh California coastal cuisine. It has been honored as a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner for a second consecutive year. The kitchen relies on herbs and edible flowers from its on-site organic garden as well as produce from farmer’s markets, local purveyors, and seafood sourced at the nearby Noyo Harbor. 

Visitors lodging at the 15-room historic Noyo Harbor Inn will experience a cozy, quiet setting during the winter months; lower room rates; and much of the coast to themselves. Luxurious rooms are the fruits of an extensive six-and-a-half-year renovation that was completed in 2017.

Noyo Harbor Inn’s multi-level decks, terraces and garden paths are a world all their own. Relax in the charming gazebo before passing through the garden gate to the heart of the harbor community. Here, working fishing boats, a fish market, kayak rentals and other businesses compose a bustling scene. 

Meanwhile, Fort Bragg’s downtown is an easy five-minute drive away, along with coastal hiking trails, Glass Beach, museums and the famed Skunk Train through the redwoods.

Built in the 1860s as the home of lumber baron Alexander Wentworth MacPherson, the Noyo Harbor Inn has seen many incarnations through the decades as a family residence, boarding house, bed and breakfast, restaurant and bar. In 2011, the property was purchased by Joseph Marino, who launched an extensive six-year renovation using local artisans and the finest indigenous materials. Reopened on Christmas Day in 2017, the Noyo Harbor Inn offers modern comforts while retaining the charm of its original Craftsman design. Today guests enjoy the property’s manicured gardens; Prohibition-era style bar and libations; full-service restaurant; spa services; and 15 spacious rooms and suites, many with harbor views, fireplaces, soaking tubs, private decks and more. See

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Rt 101 Willits By Pass Waterfall (Jeff Goll)

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by Michael Koepf


A lot more than we thought. Take Fort Bragg. Driven by the pique of social-justice activists, Fort Bragg’s in trouble, because of its name. Philip Zwerling, BA, MFA, PHD—born in New York, here via academia, who retired to Fort Bragg in 2018, appears to be one of the leading spokespersons for a facelift of the Fort Bragg name. Currently he has come up with a contest for Fort Bragg students to change the name of their town. Additionally, In past letters to the editor, Zwerling has stated: “…it seems to me absurd that our town (Fort Bragg) honors a slaver and traitor by bearing his name.” Our town honors? Hold on PHD-in-theater Zwerling, are all the people of Fort Bragg racist because of the name of their town? Do confederate flags fly from city hall?


Braxton Bragg, (who never set foot in Fort Bragg), was a confederate general. He and his wife owned slaves before the Civil War. After the war, bereft of slaves, he sold life insurance, and was an engineer who ran the water works in New Orleans, until during reconstruction, a former slave was given his job. Ole Braxton got what he deserved: old time, affirmative action. On the other hand, General Braxton Bragg was labeled “the most hated man in the confederacy.” Why? For shooting his own men and losing nearly every battle he led. No Bonaparte, Braxton Bragg. 

Did Braxton Bragg contribute to the defeat of the south, which led to the end of slavery? History’s a crafty prostitute that works both sides of the streets. Nonetheless, for a petulant few, especially PHD Zwerling, merely pronouncing the name of Fort Bragg requires washing your mouth out with soap.

In the 70s, there was a coffee shop in Fort Bragg named “Braxton’s. The cappuccinos were great. The general’s picture was up on the wall as some kind of kitschy joke. That was the first time I saw Braxton Bragg’s image and full name, as well as learning about his rebel past, and I’d been around Fort Bragg since I was 5 years old, when Fort Bragg was a working-class town with a roaring lumber mill and significant fishing port. I jigged herring down on the docks. At 7 years of age my father, a commercial fisherman, took my brother and me to sea for the first time to fish for salmon out by the buoy. 

As a teenager, I enjoyed movies at the State Theater on Main, and slurped milkshakes around the corner at the Green Parrot on Laurel Street, where scenes from Racing with Moon were shot. (Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage) My son was born in Fort Bragg, and when I was a commercial fisherman my home port was Fort Bragg. 

At one point in my nautical life, I had to run the Noyo bar in monstrous, breaking seas to arrive safely back in port. I was never so happy in my life to be back in Fort Bragg. 

Fort Bragg has a piece of my heart. I’m not alone in this, but most people born and raised in Fort Bragg, or arrived at some point in their lives, or rest peacefully in Rose Memorial Park, never heard of confederate General Bragg. Fort Bragg was just Fort Bragg, a little town along the coast; not some scandalous appellation paying homage to slavery. That is, until Mr. Zwerling and his pious, PC pals appeared demanding that Fort Bragg signs be chain-sawed from the earth.

Over the years, most residents of Fort Bragg had no knowledge of Braxton Bragg and didn’t care if they did. Amigos: quién es Braxton Bragg? Braxton Bragg was lost to history’s dust until the name-avengers dusted him off. Changing the name of Fort Bragg is an acrimonious pursuit and it’s not fair to the enduring people of Fort Bragg to taint them with a racist brush. Like every small town in America, it’s the people not the name.

If Fort Bragg changed its name to Wokeland, should other names be changed? Towns and cities, or even our own names? The nuisance of political correctness shadows every name. What about the town of Mendocino, or even the county’s name, named for Antoni de Mendoza, the first Spanish Viceroy in the new world? Mendoza was famous, or infamous, for consolidating the conquests of the conquistadors. Dirty work that—enslaving and torturing Indians, stealing their gold and silver, and forcing them into slavery. Braxton Bragg couldn’t hold a candle to them. 

How about Ukiah, our county seat? In the Pomo language, Ukiah means “deep valley.” Did the first settlers ask the Indians if they could use that name? Does the word Ukiah have sacred connotations for the valley’s original inhabitants? Is there a hallowed burial ground where the county court house presently stands? Did anybody check? Did the settlers even care? Cultural appropriation. Mr. Zwerling and his civic vigilantes have certainly heard of that—the inappropriate adoption of the customs, language and ideas of one people by members of a more dominant people. Does Ukiah have to go? Call it Costco if you will. Willits? Willets is a name derived from an old English family surname. The Willet’s motto was: “Dieu et mon devoir!” God and my work! “Work” meant killing in this case. It’s on the Willet’s family crest. “Dieu et mon devoir” was a war cry—the last thing someone heard before they were sliced in two by a broad-sword or clubbed to death with a mace.

Gualala? Pomo for “qh awallali,” meaning “where the water goes down.” Righteous language rustlers, isn’t that cultural appropriation too? Santa Rosa? San Francisco? San Mateo? All named for Catholic saints. Is that fair to Protestants, Hindus, Muslims and Jews? And, what about Boonville in Anderson Valley, obviously named for Daniel Boone? Does Mr. Zwerling and his lexicology vigilantes know that Daniel Boone owned slaves, and—by his own confession—killed 4 Indians? Boonville has to go. Wait: Anderson Valley? Anderson was a sinister, Viking name…poison-mushroom-eating, foaming-at-the-mouth berserkers, who murdered, looted, raped and enslaved people throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Goodbye Anderson Valley. Wino Valley, in honor of the tasting rooms?

Come to think of it, what about my name: Koepf? In German “Köpf” means head, as in: “Er ist ein heller Köpf.” He’s a bright fellow. I’ll take that. However, “dummköpf” in German means stupid. Yep, time to cancel myself.

Astonishingly, I’ve come across a name that, ostensibly, may be more troubling than mine. Worse than Mendocino; even worse than the name of Fort Bragg. It’s a name that allegedly denigrates an entire sub-section of our populous. Ironically, that name is Zwerling! Zwerling comes from an altered form of German, and in German der Zwerg means— “midget!” The Orwellian Institute of Lexicon Control currently forbids the use of the word “midget.” It’s the M-word now. The M-word is identity-first language. Identity-first language puts a person’s disability before that which a person actually is as a human being. Worse, the suffix, ling, attached to Zwerg implies a diminutive and, often, pejorative form of the preceding word. Zwer-ling, smaller midget? Dwarf? Have we arrived in Lilliputian land? I’m certain that Phillip Zwerling, recently arrived in Fort Bragg, has never, nor would he ever, use any word or words deemed derogatory to m-word little people, or, for that matter, any another group in our population. Nonetheless, nouns and surnames anchor us to the world, whether we seek their origins or not. What’s in a name? Is it best we take a look at ourselves, before we point fingers at the name of somebody’s town?

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, February 29, 2024

Esamilla, Gower, Jones

DANIEL ESCAMILLA JR., Ukiah. Domestic abuse, failure to appear.

JASON GOWER, Willits. Probation revocation.

KYLE JONES, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Burglary, controlled substance, switchblade.

Kidd, McDonald, Zazueta

JARED KIDD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)

MONICA MCDONALD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

GUSTAVO ZAZUETA, Redwood Valley. DUI, suspended license for DUI no license, probation revocation.

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I’m saddened when I read all of the negative stories about the decline of San Francisco. I dwell on the beautiful areas that I remember from when I lived and worked in The City for 30 years.

I worked on the waterfront repairing ships. The smell of the Bay and the piers and the wildlife and the fog is impregnated in my soul. It was beautiful and magical.

There was a vibe and feel in my old neighborhood that defined San Francisco, and it will always be there. I miss the shopkeepers, the bartenders, the fabulous restaurants and the nationalities of the people walking the streets.

The bottom line is I miss San Francisco, and I know it’s still there and it will never go away. I hope I can go back and take a walk back in time, to breathe in the City, to soothe my soul.

Matt Bergamini

Carson City, Nevada

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CUISINE: “Good cooking” is when things taste like what they are.

— Maurice Sailland, Curnonsky, 1930

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ANTI-ALCOHOLICS are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that, out of all substances, it has been chosen for washing and scouring — and but a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddies it.

— Alfred Jarry

* * *

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.

— Ernest Hemingway 

* * *


When it happens, as it did in France, the political class will be the ones swinging from lampposts.

The reason America’s revolution was successful was because they had wealthy statesmen leading them.

We don’t have that. There are no leaders in America right now. There are no statesmen. Nobody trusts anyone or anything. A revolution in this Country scares the holy shintoo out of me. It will be France only hundreds of times more violent.

* * *

Black and white by Peter Siddell

* * *


From: Congressman Jared Huffman
Dear John,

Thank you for contacting me about the Israel-Hamas conflict. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this terrible, complex, and evolving situation, and I want you to know where I stand.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, which killed more than 1,400 innocent Israelis, I acknowledged and supported Israel’s right to respond militarily against Hamas and to defend itself against ongoing attacks and terrorist threats. I also warned that because of Hamas’ cynical strategy of embedding its fighters and weapons in civilian settings, essentially using innocent Palestinians as human shields, there was a high risk of civilian casualties. Accordingly, on October 13, 2023, I joined several colleagues in a letter urging the Biden administration to ensure that Israel’s efforts to rescue hostages and carry out military operations in Gaza comply with international humanitarian laws and take all due measures to protect innocent civilian lives. Our letter calls on Israel to “take into account the millions of innocent civilians in Gaza who themselves are victims of Hamas and are suffering the consequences of their terror campaign.” We also called for an urgent surge of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including deliveries of food, water, fuel, electricity, and other life-saving necessities, among other actions to alleviate the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza.  

In November of 2023, I began calling for a humanitarian pause in hostilities to allow innocent civilians to relocate to safer places in Gaza, to enable deliveries of food, water, medicine, and other humanitarian aid, and to facilitate release of some hostages by Hamas. I also called for a “responsible, durable and permanent ceasefire” that includes release of the remaining hostages and disarming by Hamas.  

Throughout this terrible conflict, I have criticized settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and reaffirmed my commitment to recognizing and supporting an independent, demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. I continue to cosponsor a bicameral two-state solution resolution reaffirming the right of Palestinians to have sovereignty and self-determination, while condemning all actions that reject or undermine the path to a Palestinian state. I also signed a letter urging the Biden Administration to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution that prioritizes both the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israeli security. Most recently, I issued a statement on February 9, 2024, supporting President Joe Biden’s national security memorandum placing restrictions on the use of U.S. military aid. In that statement, I joined the President in criticizing aspects of Israel’s military operation in Gaza as too indiscriminate and “over the top.” I explained that my preference would be to codify standards and safeguards in a supplemental military funding bill as Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other Senate Democrats had proposed. Toward that end, I have also cosponsored H.R. 1801, the SAFEGUARD Act, which ensures that the U.S. does not support human rights abuses through arms sales. Because our divided Congress will probably prevent a vote on such restrictions, I wanted to strongly affirm my support for the President’s policy directive to ensure greater transparency, accountability, and compliance with humanitarian standards in our military support to allies including Israel.

In all my various statements and votes on these matters, I have endeavored to reflect my commitment to several important principles and values. I support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself against terrorist attacks. I am heartbroken by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and I want the suffering of innocent Palestinians to end. I recently signed onto a letter calling for the Committee on Appropriations to continue to appropriate U.S. funds to UNRWA for their life-saving humanitarian efforts in Gaza. The United States must use all diplomatic tools to pressure the parties to accept a permanent ceasefire that includes release of the hostages, disarming of Hamas, withdrawal of Israeli forces, rebuilding of Gaza, and ultimately leads to establishment of an independent, demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. 

I will always stand against hatred and violence. Unfortunately, we have seen a surge of both antisemitism and Islamophobia since the October 7th attacks, including hateful threats, hate crimes, and other incidents that are causing fear and harm in both Jewish and Muslim communities. I’ve met with young Muslim-Americans who have experienced the shameful increase in Islamophobic threats and attacks. I have met with Jewish teenagers and young adults who have been threatened and harassed to the point that their parents fear for their safety on school campuses and elsewhere, as well. Whether it is physical assaults, vandalism, intimidation, or incitement, I have always condemned such vile hatefulness and I will continue to do so. 

On February 5, 2024, I issued a joint statement with leaders of my local Muslim community condemning Islamophobia and stating: “The path to peace and reconciliation starts with focusing on our common humanity and resisting the temptation to engage in “othering” or dehumanizing people we disagree with. Let’s lead by example with zero tolerance for Islamophobia here in our community and stop the seeds of hate and conflict from spreading. As our hearts break, we continue to reject hate in all forms. It’s a step in the direction of the kind of civility, empathy, and tolerance that is necessary to end the crisis and suffering we are seeing around the world.”  

Thank you again for sharing your views on this issue. The people of California’s 2nd District are the most important voices I listen to while serving in Congress. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you in the future. 


Jared Huffman
Member of Congress

* * *

* * *

* * *

* * *

PICTURES FROM MOSCOW TODAY showed the opposition leader's coffin being carried past huge crowds of mourners, some holding red flowers, who bravely gathered outside the church on the city's outskirts - despite fears police were preparing for mass arrests. A long queue could be seen forming near the church in the southeast of the capital under a heavy police presence, with reports saying thousands were in attendance. One said: 'I feel this is a funeral for the Russia that might have been.' Video showed loud chants of 'Navalny' rang out as the coffin was carried out of a black hearse on arrival at the church. His parents followed into the church. Moscow police launched a massive security clampdown this morning outside the church and the cemetery where he will be buried - two weeks after the opposition leader died in an Arctic prison on February 16. Navalny's team accuse Putin of murdering his top critic, and of obstructing their efforts to give the dissident a dignified send off. What's more, it has also been warned that male mourners could be rounded up at the funeral and sent to fight on the front lines of Ukraine , where Putin is waging a brutal war that last week entered its second year. The Kremlin, which has denied involvement in Navalny's death, warned against 'unauthorised' protests around the funeral, and the authorities this morning appeared to be treating the funeral and burial as a major military operation.

— Daily Mail

* * *

“THE EDEN that Europeans described when they reached North America was not a wilderness, but a well-managed resource, a complex combination of nature and culture, ecology and economy, a system so subtle and balanced and effective that it eluded the settlers who saw only natural wealth free for the taking. The result of this land grab in North America is that only 2% of the land is now wild, its major rivers are polluted, its lakes have caught fire, and its forests are dying from the top down. The tragedy of this commons was that it never really was a commons after colonization, but was surrendered to plunder, privatization, and exploitation in the name of Manifest Destiny and progress.” 

— Joline Blais

* * *

* * *


by Kit Klarenberg

In an extraordinary testament to the sheer pace and scale of the US Empire’s collapse, on February 15th Politico published a remarkable investigation, How the US broke Kosovo and what that means for Ukraine. In unprecedentedly forensic, candid detail, it documents how NATO violently “wrenched” the province from Yugoslavia’s grasp, then forged a politically and economically dysfunctional, unsustainable “American protectorate” in Belgrade’s place, while US officials and corporations corruptly profited every step of the way.

The relevance of Kosovo’s fate to what will inevitably befall whatever territory comprises Ukraine once Russia has completed its Special Military Operation couldn’t be starker. Whenever that day comes, Kiev will be wholly reliant on US support to keep its literal lights on, reconstruct whatever isn’t irrecoverable, and pay salaries of state employees and government officials. Washington already pumps tens of billions into the country for the latter purpose alone.

While there is a growing sense among Ukrainians within and without the country they have been abandoned and betrayed by their American “friends”, officials in Kiev continue to talk up their alliance with Washington, while routinely pleading publicly for short- and long-term financial assistance from the Empire. Yet, as Politico observes:

“For Ukraine, the task of fixing its shattered infrastructure will represent a daunting, generational challenge. For corporate America, it will be just another business opportunity. And if Kosovo is any guide, the Ukrainians should be careful what they wish for.”

‘Serious Reservations’

The “liberation” of Kosovo Albanians, and creation of an “independent” state in the province - long-considered “the cradle of Serb civilisation” and “Serbia’s Jerusalem” - began as a deeply personal pet project of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and longtime deep state operatives and notorious warmongers like Madeleine Albright. Their crusade was then adopted by subsequent US administrations. Accordingly, Kosovo today is laden with monuments, avenues and squares dedicated to these individuals, including Wesley Clark, who as US Supreme Allied Commander Europe oversaw NATO’s criminal bombing of Yugoslavia.

Such is the affinity of Kosovo Albanians for the States, star spangled banners and garish posters proclaiming, “Thank You USA!” can be found in profusion throughout Pristina. As Politico notes too, “at one point, local authorities seriously contemplated naming a lake after Donald Trump” - and “the affection is mutual.” Entire generations of US officials “carry Kosovo around with pride,” a Washington diplomatic source boasted to the outlet. “But should they?” Politico bluntly enquires.

The answer, unambiguously, is absolutely not. Once Pristina unilaterally declared independence in 2008 - a highly controversial move unrecognised by much of the international community, and Serbia, its constitution still categorising the province as Belgrade’s sovereign territory - “American fortune hunters” started moving in en masse, employing “prominent former officials from the Clinton administration who’d had a hand in helping Kosovo liberate itself” to “grease the skids.” In other words, secure lucrative contracts via dubious if not outright criminal means, for personal enrichment.

An early entrant in this imperial feeding frenzy was US government-tied construction giant Bechtel, “a major player in the reconstruction of Iraq’s energy sector” following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. Its mission in Kosovo - building two highways - was much more modest. Nonetheless, US officials first had to convince authorities in Kosovo, “which had a poverty rate of about 60 percent at the time,” the roads were a vital necessity.

In order to bolster its sales pitch, Bechtel recruited Mark Tavlarides, a member of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council during the Kosovo War, and then-US Ambassador to Priistina Christopher Dell, to assist. Despite “serious reservations about the project’s economic viability on the part of both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” authorities greenlit the proposal in 2010, while refusing to publish the full contract, “despite pressure from civil society groups.” It was nonetheless revealed the effort’s final cost wasn’t capped.

Initially, the highways were to span just over 100 kilometres, and cost €400 million. By the time of their completion two years later, they had been shrunk to just 77 kilometres, at a cost of €1 billion. Undeterred, in 2014 Pristina handed Bechtel another major highway contract. Completed five years later at a cost of €600 million, multiple Kosovo officials involved in the deal were recently jailed for secretly overpaying the company to the tune of €53 million.

‘Kosovo’s Saviors’

Politico’s investigation highlights a spectacularly egregious aspect of US “nation building” in Kosovo, largely unacknowledged or outright ignored in the mainstream over the past two-and-a-half decades. Namely, the very same officials intimately involved in Yugoslavia’s destruction profited - or, at least, sought to profit - from their actions subsequently. The same is true of every other target of imperial intervention since.

Politico dubs Madeleine Albright “one of the icons of Kosovo’s fight for freedom.” As US Secretary of State 1997 - 2001, she aggressively  tubthumped for NATO “intervention” in Yugoslavia, and resultant privatisation of the country’s industry and resources, which at the time of the bombing was overwhelmingly worker-owned. The 78-day-long aerial onslaught destroyed just 14 Yugoslav tanks, while decimating 372 industrial facilities, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless. The military alliance took direction from US corporations on what sites to target.

Subsequently, Albright - via her personal investment firm Albright Capital Management - sought to make a mint from the wreckage. She gradually began buying up Kosovo’s newly-privatised telecommunications sector, and in 2013 was on the verge of seizing a 75% stake in the formerly state-owned PTK, the province’s postal and telecommunications authority. Major controversy over the deal at home and abroad eventually forced her to back out. Local celebrity not dimmed, six years later a statue of Albright was unveiled in a Pristina square named after her.

Politico records how Albright’s “family and colleagues remain active” in Kosovo, including her daughter Alice, who as chief executive of US government aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, “issues development grants” to Pristina, which then get handed back to US corporations via government contracts. Meanwhile, Wesley Clark has been attempting to profiteer in the would-be country for over a decade. He is reportedly “unapologetic about his efforts to reap financial benefit from his reputation as one of Kosovo’s saviors.”

Despite that “reputation”, Clark has been unsuccessful. In 2012, as chair of Canada-based Envidity Energy, he began vying for rights to Kosovo’s copious lignite coal reserves, the fifth largest in the world, promising an investment of $8 billion. The next year, Pristina conveniently tore up laws “designed to prevent foreign investors from exploiting the country’s mineral wealth in a way that didn’t serve Kosovo’s interests,” granting Envidity a licence to dig for coal throughout the province, without public tender.

A scathing 2016 UN Development Program report put an end to Clark’s “Kosovo dream”. It expressed concern Envidity’s project would’ve been completely illegal were it not for the scrapped legislation, there was a high risk of bribery and corruption if it went ahead, and Kosovo “would be stripped of its resources with the profits going into the pockets of foreign investors.” Negative comparisons were also drawn with Bechtel’s grossly exorbitant highway construction. Subsequently, Kosovo’s parliament withdrew Envidity’s licence. However, Clark was undiscouraged:

“The former general is now concentrating on renewable energy projects. He has met with Prime Minister Kurti and other top Kosovo officials to discuss his plan to reimagine the country’s energy infrastructure.”

‘Forgotten Battalion’

Politico observes that the “failure of US nation-building” in Kosovo is particularly conspicuous, given the province is “tiny, roughly one-third the size of Belgium, with a population of 1.8 million,” with a GDP of just $10 billion - “less than one-quarter the size of Vermont’s, the smallest US state in terms of economic activity.” As such, “making a difference there would not require the US to invest the trillions poured into Afghanistan and Iraq.” Furthermore, “the population loves the US.”

The outlet acknowledges the Empire “threw plenty of money” at Pristina post-1999, but “Washington’s priorities were informed more by short-term American business interests than providing the country what it really needed to develop.” Kosovo may have “been a good bet”  for “the American businesses active” in the province, but not the local population. This more widely reflects how “political will in Washington to remain engaged in foreign countries typically fades once big business has squeezed what it can out of America’s presence.” 

While these revelations are apparently surprising to Politico, and may well be news to many of its Western readers, it is a major, long-apparent structural flaw in the Empire’s foundations, which will be Washington’s ultimate undoing in many parts of the world. This is particularly the case throughout the former Yugoslavia. Today, the entire Balkans cries out for new infrastructure, and much else besides. 

Yet, Western investment to rebuild what was destroyed - in several cases by NATO bombing - and renew roads and other logistics structures and facilities has been almost entirely unforthcoming in the decades since. A chronic lack of employment opportunities and derisory incomes has moreover precipitated a grave, region-wide population collapse. In “American protectorate” Kosovo, these issues are particularly pronounced, with the highest unemployment and poverty rate in Europe by some margin.

The wars also created, or exacerbated, a host of social and political problems with no simple resolution, which Western powers still struggle to comprehend, let alone settle. In closing, Politico notes that on top of a failure to invest in Kosovo for the benefit of its population, “Washington and Brussels have utterly failed” to end the conflict between Belgrade and Pristina on the future of Kosovo’s remaining Serb population. The outlet expresses disbelief that: 

“Despite a quarter century of trying, the US, the most powerful country in the world, has been incapable of resolving what amounts to a border dispute involving a population the size of a small American town.”

Of course, the US is no longer the world’s most powerful country. The military, diplomatic, and economic clout it exerted during Yugoslavia’s destruction has been lost, and will not be returning. This decline is writ large in Kosovo, which is home to Camp Bondsteel, the largest and most expensive foreign military base built by the US in Europe since the Vietnam War. Covering almost 1,000 acres, it was meant to house 7,000 troops, although typically just 1,000 are stationed there.

Bondsteel, Politico reports, has been nicknamed the “Forgotten Battalion” in Washington as a result. Despite its manpower shortages, “the troops there are nearly the only thing standing between Kosovo and Serbia.” The long-term viability of the base, and the corrupt, collapsing protectorate posing as a state it supports, is an open question.


* * *

The Sentinel (2023) oil on linen by Bruce Lawes


  1. Chuck Dunbar March 1, 2024


    In a world seemingly gone mad, and with our editor suffering from a serious illness, comes a bit of respite and light: The Coast Cinema features on March 6th a one-night showing of Martin Scorcese’s musical documentary, ‘The Last Waltz,” celebrating the retirement of The Band in 1976, nearly 50 years ago. Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko—fine musicians all, with a sound that seemed taken from old-time America. And now, with Robertson’s recent passing, only Garth Hudson remains.

    A few highlights from lots of fine live music:

    Ronnie Hawkins, who toured with these musicians as they began their musical trek, has great fun with the old song, “Who Do You Love,” as The Band blazes along with him.

    Muddy Waters—the old Master—does “Mannish Boy” proud. He’s a marvel.

    And then there’s Van Morrison singing “Caravan”and stealing the show. One reviewer calls it a “firebolt” of a song. Another noted: “He just jumps right into the song—‘Boom’— Full-Throttle!” I’ve watched this one many times on DVD, always laughing out loud at the sheer force of it. By odd coincidence, yesterday I heard on the radio the original “Caravan,” from the “Moondance” album long ago. It’s an almost languid version, far different from the raucous soul of this live one.

    The Last Waltz will be great fun to see on the big screen—all of us together, old hippies in the main, I bet. Come join us if you can.

    • Norm Thurston March 1, 2024

      One of my favorite concert films. I also own a copy.

  2. peter boudoures March 1, 2024

    RE ed notes:
    Hey Bruce. I was speaking with gene Wagner after 5am basketball this morning at pomalita [yes he still
    Plays] and he was telling me a story about Charlie Davis. I guess Charlie lived with you as a teen and had an interesting story growing to be around 7’ by end of high school and went on the play college ball. Sounds like he came right before the redwood classic champions where Gary bates, Charlie hiatt, Dave Pronsalino, won the whole Thing in the 80s. I didn’t know you were very involved with the youth at that time.

    • Bruce Anderson March 1, 2024

      Charlie and Gene’s great AVHS team of the late sixties beat everyone around. Charles Davis came a few years later. He was 6’11 by the time he graduated from AVHS, a physical Adonis, hated sports. I had to force him to play basketball. “I don’t wanna play. It hurts.” I told him with that body God made him for the game. During timeouts he’d be chatting with girls in the stands. Paid zero attention to the game. Drove his coaches nuts. Dan Dubiago of Mendo HS was the dominant big guy in the area at the time, circa ’73-75. I remember my first men’s league game against Gene and Charlie, Rick Cupples Tony Summit, LeRoy Perry et al. We had a pretty good team affiliated with my group home, but these guys were a lot better. First game, Gene comes out and glasses a 35-footer, which our side assumed was a fluke as we wondered what he was doing firing away from a Steph Curry distance. He proceeded to rip up us for forty or so. But all those guys could shoot. The Ukiah match-ups between Gene and the great Kelvin Chapman were something to see. These guys would no embarrass themselves in an NBA game. Sad that men’s leagues for softball and basketball are gone in Boonville, but all of us who enjoyed them then will always have great memories of that time.

  3. Cathleen Boyd March 1, 2024

    Cat Spydell: Love your story!

  4. George Hollister March 1, 2024

    Michael Koepf is a good writer. Maybe one of Mendocino County’s homegrown best.

  5. Me March 1, 2024

    “But the Mendocino County Supervisors, proclaiming time and again how broke they are, scrounging around for every penny of extra revenue and expense reduction, blithely approved this giant waste of money without the slightest hesitation, consideration or discussion.”

    That’s because they raised the limit of contracts that can go on consent, that way more items can just slide by under consent. Use to be anything over $50,000 had to be heard, considered, discussed by the Board. What is the limit now? Much higher.

  6. Me March 1, 2024

    ” I inquired if there was a County policy in determining that ”
    They don’t write any specific policies because if you do they would have to abide by them. CEO county policies change at the whim of every situation and person answering the question. They never write specifics down.

    • MAGA Marmon March 1, 2024

      When I was hired at Family and Children’s Services (aka CPS), one of the first things I asked for was the Policy Manual. They told me there was none. I soon discovered why didn’t use one and that’s because they didn’t want to be held responsible to any rules. One such example was why did we removed kids from growers and would turn around a place kids with growers? I was told that those decisions would be made on a case by case basis. In all my years of working for various agencies, Mendo was the only agency that didn’t hand me a policy manual on day one.

      P.S. A few years later I was looking through an old dusty book case and found a CPS policy manual written in 2001. Apparently, sometime between 2002 and 2007, they scraped that manual and decided make things up as they go.

      MAGA Marmon

    • Carrie Shattuck March 1, 2024

      Exactly. No one can be accountable. That needs to change.

  7. Lee Edmundson March 1, 2024

    Kudos to Michael Koepf for his “What’s in a Name”.
    Others have written, and I agree, when you try and erase history, you destroy it.
    My given name is Lee. In my genealogical research, there was never any one of my ancestors so-named Lee. Until after the Civil War. Turns out my great-grandfather Atkins Tabor Edmundson served in the Georgia Militia which fought in General Robert E. Lee’s army and was with Lee’s army at Appomattox in 1865. According to his daughter-in-law, he was wounded in the fighting there –“I have seen the scar” — and after the surrender in Virginia he walked home to Georgia.
    Atkins Tabor named one of his sons Lee. I am named for that son.
    Because of this (highly indirect) connection to General Lee, should I change my name?
    Would so doing make me a different person A better person? No. For I am not named in honor of General Lee, but in honor of my great-uncle, who was named in honor of General Lee.
    Similarly, Fort Bragg was not named for Braxton Bragg the incompetent Confederate General of the Civil War. Fort Bragg was so named in honor of the artillery lieutenant (Lt) who fought in the Mexican-American war (to accolades, particularly for his action in the battle of Buena Vista). Lt. Gibson, who named Fort Bragg, did so honoring Lt. Bragg his artillery commander a full decade before the advent of the Civil War.
    Deeply delving into our history can enrich our lives. Trying to erase it fosters ignorance.
    I wasn’t named for General Lee. I was named for my great uncle Deronda Lee Edmundson, one of my family’s patriarchs. And proud to be so named.
    So should Fort Bragg.
    And kudos again to Michael Koepf for calling out Dr. Zwerling’s vainglorious quest.
    Fort Bragg Forever.

    • Harvey Reading March 1, 2024

      Don’t you know a scare piece when you read it? What drove Working Class me out was putrid “development”. They love it here, too, and plunder the landscape every chance they get. Now it’s effen windmills and mining of elements for lithium batteries. Won’t be long before the landscape that drew people here is gone, or raped beyond repair…and probably within my lifetime. Humans are the dumbest bunch of monkeys ever to evolve, and goofy looking to boot.

      We oughta be encouraging abortions, vasectomies, and tubal ligations. But acourse that goes against the will of the imaginary gods of the biblical faith crowds. They’d rather fund the Zionist savages of Israhell.

  8. Call It As I See It March 1, 2024

    A few observations,
    If Carrie Shattuck isn’t proving to District 1 voters that she is the candidate to represent them, they must be blind. She is willing to get after the issues and make a difference. No other candidates have her passion in District 1.

    Ukiah one of the 16 Strongest Town’s! Wow, whoever put us on the list, I don’t think ever visited this town.
    If they have it makes me wonder what kind of shape other California cities are in.
    Just take a stroll through our town, you’ll first notice the vacant buildings that homeless try and squat on everyday of the week. Why are they vacant? City of Ukiah’s planning codes that are inconsistent and confusing. Planning Department that is difficult to work with. Leadership is denial.
    Then you will notice the Downtown Streetscape, I give them credit for trying, but where was planning on this? The corners cause you to almost crash if another car is making a left turn, notice the black curbs caused by cars cutting their right turn short and hitting the curb.

    No new housing in 20 years , basically no growth.
    Well good luck Ukiah, you know, you can only put so much make up on a pig!

  9. Cotdbigun March 1, 2024

    What an absolute beautiful way to highlight the hypocritical absurdity of the namechangers faux outrage. Thank you Michael Koepf.

  10. Stephen Rosenthal March 1, 2024

    Bravo Carrie Shattuck, a job well done.

    About a month ago, after Adam Gaska wrote a detailed report on water and the impacts of past, current and future policies upon Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin Counties, the users tapping the same spigot. I challenged the other three (the fourth, who I termed the Invisible Man, has apparently dropped out) District 1 supervisor candidates to do the same on any topic of their choosing pertinent to Mendocino County. Well, Carrie accepted the challenge and the results revealed in her report are staggering and troubling, but, to be honest, not surprising. County Supervisors and Administrators have long treated the public to disdainful displays of obfuscation and deceit. Blaming “the new software” has long been their go-to excuse for shameful ineptitude and covering up questionable activity. In her report Carrie has exposed how dysfunctional, dishonest and wasteful County government is. We should commend her for taking the time and making the effort to do so.

    A final thought. I have been critical of Carrie for some of her activities during the year of Covid. I stand by my criticism because I think her intentions and participation were misplaced and disruptive during a period of unprecedented stress. Others may disagree. But whether she is elected or not, I hope she has taken the opportunity to reflect on and learn from those actions.

    • Carrie Shattuck March 1, 2024

      Thank you Stephen. I am dedicated to working hard for the people of Mendocino County.

  11. Harvey Reading March 1, 2024


    What a putrid bunch we are.

  12. Stephen Rosenthal March 1, 2024

    Terrific photograph by Bruce Laws.

    And spot-on, hysterical evisceration of Zwerling the Interloper by Michael Definitely Not Dumb Koepf.

    • AVA News Service Post author | March 1, 2024

      I misspelled his last name (it’s Lawes), and it’s a terrific oil painting.

      • Stephen Rosenthal March 1, 2024

        Yep, my bad. I see that now. I should have read it more carefully. Remarkable oil painting that looks like a photograph.

  13. Steve Heilig March 1, 2024

    I still think the Ft. Bragg name “change” should just be done to honor these fine healthy folks, thus satisfying all (?) and costing nothing in terms of new signs, stationary, etc etc…

  14. MAGA Marmon March 1, 2024

    It appears that Trump has already concluded that he will face our favorite governor in the November 2024 election. Yesterday in a speech he gave in Texas Trump nicknamed him “Newscum”.

    MAGA Marmon

    • Bruce Anderson March 1, 2024

      Newscum. Orange Man is such a wit.

      • Chuck Dunbar March 1, 2024

        And a gracious man he is.

    • MAGA Marmon March 1, 2024

      Can’t wait to see how Kendall and the AVA spin this.

      MAGA Marmon

      • Bruce Anderson March 1, 2024

        Spin it? How, why? I know you like to cheap shot Kendall, but this kind of thing happens in jails everywhere.

    • Lazarus March 1, 2024

      Wow! Good catch Ms. Malone.
      Drugs in a jail, I’m shocked…
      Be well,

      • Mazie Malone March 1, 2024

        right shocking… lol …

        whomever brought in the Fentanyl…. not looking to good for them…

        I heard yesterday they are adding animal tranquilizers to drugs. Making things more deadly.

        Does anyone ever consider the idea of how fentanyl a controlled, very controlled substance rolls out into society…

        Mexican Drug Cartels?? …. pfffttt ….. 🤔

        Do rich people die from Fentanyl?

        mm 💕

        • Lazarus March 1, 2024

          I watched a report that one pill of that stuff can sell for 50 cents to 5 bucks on the street in Seattle.
          It’s almost as if someone or something is hoping to kill as many problem people as possible.
          Be careful,

          “Over a quarter of a million Americans have died from a fentanyl overdose since 2018. Home / Health / Articles / Are fentanyl overdose deaths rising in the US? In 2022, 73,654 people died from a fentanyl overdose in the US, more than double the amount of deaths from three years prior in 2019.”

          • Mazie Malone March 1, 2024

            thats just incredibly frightening…
            thank you…. ❤️

            mm 💕

        • Bob A. March 1, 2024

          Many good people have been lost to fentanyl. Prince and Tom Petty to name two. It’s hit close to home, too.

          • Mazie Malone March 1, 2024


            Really??? ….. I had no clue either of them passed due to Fentanyl….

            I was very sad by Tom Pettys passing, a very significant loss to the world…

            mm 💕

            • Bruce McEwen March 1, 2024

              What about Sean McPugue and Wade Bickel, both dead at 66, same as Tom? Loggers who stir their coffee with their thumb, lumberjacks like James Marmon Jerry Philbrick—you did set chokers once didn’t you, James?—they don’t even put on gloves or masks to handle a little fentanyl, Ms Mazie!

  15. Mazie Malone March 1, 2024

    The only person I know in that line up is James!! .. lol.
    The experience I have with Fentanyl is the lovely 72 hour pain patch, some people I have taken care of have had them for pain control, gloves are indeed necessary!

    mm 💕

  16. Sarah Kennedy Owen March 1, 2024

    Totally agree re Tom Petty, Mazie. He had more than just fentanyl in his system, though. He was on all kinds of painkillers for some kind of osteoarthritis in his leg or hip.
    All probably prescription, but maybe he took more than the prescribed amount. I am sure that happens often. Yes these drugs are dangerous.

    • Mazie Malone March 1, 2024

      very dangerous sad for sure, tragic..
      I hope we hear more on this jail incident, they did send out a Press Release and explained more of the OD incident and that NARCAN was administered!

      mm 💕

  17. Nathan Duffy March 2, 2024

    Its Rebecca Solnit not Susan Solnit who I believe you are speaking of and although she can be a bit sentimental at time I read her books on feminism such as “Men Explain Things To Me” and I tell you what I don’t read books on feminism and probably will not read another but Rebecca is such a strong author that she drew me in somehow.

    • Bruce McEwen March 2, 2024

      That’s a great title. Is that where the term “mansplain” was coined? Kinda like that song by the Dixie Chicks where she mimicked how men explain mechanical things to women as she explains something emotional to men and mimicked the ubiquitous phrase, “there’s your problem.”
      I’ll have get some Solnit on my Kindle, thanks!

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