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Mendocino County Today: January 28, 2014

A STORM blowing over the Pacific Ocean is expected to hit Northern California late Wednesday, bringing about a quarter inch of rain to the Northcoast over two days, according to the National Weather Service. "It's only going to be enough to get the ground wet," said forecaster Diana Henderson. "To get any substantial amounts of rain, I think you have to go to Oregon."


A SPY ROCK cabin overlooking the Eel River, meaning it was deep Spy Rock, burned to the ground late Monday night, most likely due to a faulty wood stove speculated Laytonville Volunteer Fire Chief Jim Little. A man staying at the cabin ran to a neighbor's home to use a phone and call for help. Laytonville volunteers and Cal Fire firefighters were alerted at about 11 p.m. but by the time the volunteers could arrive the cabin, ten miles up Spy Rock Road from Highway 101, was gone.


AT THE MENDO SUPES meeting of January 21, Supervisor Dan Gjerde told his colleagues: “I want to bring up something that's been going on on the Mendocino Coast for some time. For several years now the College of the Redwoods which the Mendocino Coast is a part of, has been scaling back the classes they have offered and maybe you have already heard this, but as of Wednesday night the three remaining full-time faculty members at the campus on the coast were told that their jobs were up next semester, and they are being shifted to Eureka and Crescent City. So there will only be part-time faculty at the College of the Redwoods. There will be no administrator on the campus. There will be no counseling services. That is presumably the reason for eliminating all full-time faculty because apparently under state law if you don't have full-time faculty you don't have to provide the students with counseling or with other certain things like the library which they have shut down for over a year now. So there is a group of us on the coast — I have attended two meetings already — who are saying that enough is enough. The decision back in 1970s or thereabouts to join the College of the Redwoods was probably a mistake. It's three hours for faculty to attend me a meeting in Eureka. It would only be an hour and a half for faculty to attend a meeting if they were part of Mendocino College. I'm just putting this out there. If you have good connections with Mendocino College, then there are people on the coast who would like to set up a meeting with Mendocino College to talk about how they could go about joining. Logistically, it could be as simple as the College of the Redwoods Board of Directors could vote to say, Fine, you can leave the district and the Mendocino College Board could say, Fine, we want you here in the District. It is not actually required by state law to have a vote unless one of the two districts objects. So there are people on the coast who would like to set up a meeting with the trustees or a group of the trustees to meet with the Mendocino College board. If any of you have suggestions about making an approach I would appreciate that and I will pass it along to the people on the coast.


SUPERVISOR HAMBURG reported on the status of a Sheriff's substation for the village of Mendocino: “Last Friday Sheriff Allman called a group of people together from the Planning Department, from State Parks, and from the Mendocino Area Parks Association to talk about the establishment of a new sheriff's substation in the town of Mendocino. That is moving forward. It will be in a very dilapidated carriage house behind the Kelly House and that building is going to be restored. It's a very simple building and the restoration can be pretty simple. The Sheriff intends to do a lot of the work with inmate labor and donated materials. We are going to go before the Mendocino Historical Review Board and make sure that we do it in a way that is okay with them. But we are not going to tear it down. We are going to basically refurbish this building and make it into a usable space. It will be very important to show the flag over there with a sign over there that says ‘Sheriff's Substation.’ It will be right there on the headlands. And we have a lot of issues coming up there. The business community in the town of Mendocino of course is very supportive of this. They want to see it. Obviously, this is not going to be something that is staffed all day long but it will be there as a resource to the Sheriff's Department, a resource to the community. I'm very excited about that. I'm glad to have the cooperation of State Parks because of course it is on State Parks property.”


ECONOMIC STATEMENT OF THE DAY: If and when uncertainty spreads to the dollar, the real crisis will arrive, likely followed by high inflation, exchange controls, pension confiscations, and resurrected illegality of owning gold and silver. Capitalist greed aided and abetted by economists and policymakers will have destroyed America.

The financial media has been helping the Federal Reserve and the banks to cover up festering problems with rosy hype, but realization that there are serious unresolved problems might be spreading. Last week interest rates on 30-day T-bills turned negative. That means people were paying more for a bond than it would return at maturity. Dave Kranzler sees this as a sign of rising uncertainty about banks. Reminiscent of the Cyprus banks’ limits on withdrawals, last Friday (January 24) the BBC reported that the large UK bank HSBC is preventing customers from withdrawing cash from their accounts in excess of several thousand pounds. (— Paul Craig Roberts)


A STORY in a recent New York Times tells us that lots of rural-based county jails, mostly in the South, are selling e-cigarettes to inmates to moderate their behavior. “When these guys get in here they're wound up anyway, and then you tell them they've not getting cigarettes, and it's on,” says Jason Armstrong who runs the inmate commissary at the Greene County, Tennessee, Detention Center.

E-CIGS contain nicotine but not the harmful tars found in regular smokes. They're sold to prisoners for $8 to $38 (!) each. Some jails earn profits of more than 400% for each e-cig, the money going to the county's general fund or into the jail budget. Where the e-cigs have been tried, the authorities say most of their jail populations come into custody as smokers, and without access to cigarettes they're much more prone to violence and other forms of obstreperous behavior. Maybe Mendo should consider a pilot e-cig project at its County Jail.


CORRECTION! In a recent item about the new County courthouse proposed for Ukiah we somehow inflated the project cost to $300 million from an estimated $120 million, the true projected cost for eight new courtrooms. The rest of our Mendo and neighboring county math, however, was correctly pegged to the $120 million figure. It is as follows:


Sonoma County has a new courthouse in the unstoppable pipeline that is estimated to cost $174 million. And Lake County has one in the works estimated at $55 million. The numbers are low estimates of the likely costs by completion, of course. But the proportions are interesting. In rough terms:

SoCo's Population is about 500,000

Mendo's population is about 90,000

Lake County's population is about 64,000.


Sonoma County's courthouse costs about $350 per person.

Lake County's costs $860 per person.

And Mendo's costs $1350 per person.

There are probably some economies of scale in the SoCo number. But both of our neighboring counties are getting much less new courthouse per capita than Mendo is. More evidence that we've got too many judges for our relatively sparse population. And now we'll have too much courthouse for that population to go with our too many judges.


MR. BOSTROM of Willits asks, “What did the ‘Occupy movement’ accomplish? What has happened to Nicholas von Hoffman?”

I THINK OCCUPY helped millions of Americans know that they aren't alone in their suspicions that this economy is organized in way that benefits the tiny the minority of people who own most of it. As I'm sure you know, Mr. B, from your own experience as a citizen, we all swim in a daily deluge of pure propaganda (the One Percenters own the media after all) that unregulated capitalism will, apart from a few glitches now and then, provide us with everything we need. Except it doesn't, as Occupy continues to help people understand. The next step, of course, is to take the knowledge thus gained and beat the bastards over the head with it until we at last enjoy a system that puts the needs of its citizens first.

THE MOST EXCELLENT journalist, Nicholas von Hoffman, is now quite elderly and has ceased publication. He is certainly missed.



by Jeff Costello

A young friend posted this on facebook about the food stamp experience: "Food stamps are embarrassing. Someone behind me and my girlfriend buying less than us is watching as I pack all our organic food into a box, then we whip out our 'Oregon Trail' card. I make myself say to the cashier, 'I am going to pay with my Oregon Trail card,' just to make it more embarrassing." Without delving into the subject of self-esteem, let's just say my friend has an ironic sense of humor. And I read from another source - the horse's mouth - that a lot of younger people have defaulted to irony as a method of dealing with the mess we call living in the USA today. Those, that is, that understand the concept.

My friend is not proud about using food stamps. Let's not forget that pride is the first of the "seven deadly sins." All these "proud" Americans who call themselves Christians are living huge contradictions. ... As to food stamp recipients, people buying expensive good quality food with them are the minority. In the early 70's I found it especially satisfying to get things like caviar and T-bone steaks and bust out my play money food stamps to pay for them. That used to rattle well-off Marinites at the Big G market and I got great pleasure from refusing to "stay in my place." It would be okay to buy cheap soda pop, wonder bread, marshmallows, doritos, Skippy peanut butter and hot dogs, though, because that's what poor people are supposed or assumed to eat. I'm a supermarket anthropologist, always interested to see what's in the carts and who's pushing them. It's better than a Rorschach test.

(A word about doritos: in the parking of the 7-11 in Santa Venetia, I saw a father and son walking across the lot, the kid eating from a huge bag of doritos. The child's face was as though hypnotized, his eyes in a blank stare as he shoved the orange chips into his mouth as fast as he could. The father had a look of despair, helpless. Need I say the kid, only nine or ten years old, was already grossly overweight. It was like he was taking a drug. Frito-Lay has made untold millions selling salt, grease and mysterious chemicals for human consumption. This is not junk food, it's not even food).

In the early 60's, I had a friend whose father was the president of the Connecticut chapter of Natural Food Associates. He had no white sugar in the house and wouldn't let his kids eat cereal like corn flakes, saying "You might as well eat the box." This guy was way ahead of his time, but regarded as eccentric or a raving nut case depending on who was talking.

Say what you will about Whole Foods- high prices, GMOs - there are far fewer obese people there than in any Safeway. Same goes for local independent health food stores and co-ops. They all take food stamps. Problem is, a lot of people, unaware of anything that doesn't appear on TV, just don't know how to eat. One of the millionaire congressmen who purportedly ate on a food stamp budget said the food he got for $4.50 a day was "quite filling." Not a peep about nutrition. These are people for whom food is something someone else prepares and puts in front of them, most often in restaurants but often by servants. There will be no help from that quarter. Apparently helping people get enough to eat is depleting the military budget. No need to ask about priorities here.


A READER makes this correction: "The January 25th Mendo Today posting has a couple of errors, highlighted in red below. The store comes with a 16-pump gas station with pre-approval to go to 20. Linda Sanders, not Judy Pruden, cast the no vote. You could say, "Linda Sanders, the last person in Ukiah who seems to care about impacts to the environment, was the lone No vote on the Ukiah Planning Commission."





On January 20th at about 4:30 PM Ukiah Police responded to a report of a “domestic disturbance” at the parking lot at Anton Stadium, 506 Park Boulevard. Callers reported seeing a man and a woman arguing, and saw the male suspect get into a white Ford pick-up and drive the vehicle in circles in the parking lot so rapidly that the truck's tires were smoking. The male then left in the vehicle and a description of the vehicle and suspect was provided to Ukiah Police. A responding officer spotted the suspect vehicle and attempted to stop the vehicle in the 800 block of North State Street. The driver refused to stop, and proceeded northbound refusing to yield to the officer’s lights and siren. The vehicle ran the red light at the intersection with Low Gap Road, causing cross traffic to swerve to avoid a collision, and proceded westbound on Low Gap Road. The vehicle reached speeds of 50 miles per hour then turned southbound onto North Bush Street, running the stop sign. The pursuit continued through several intersections to Walnut Avenue where the suspect turned westbound, failing to stop for all posted stop signs, and continued at about 30 miles per hour until reaching the area of Todd Grove Park. The suspect then circled the park five times at about 20 miles per hour, with officers pursuing. The driver was seen talking on a cellular telephone and looking back at the pursuing officers. Additional Ukiah Police Officers and Deputies with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office had responded to assist with the pursuit, and the driver swerved around one of the police vehicles before circling the park another time then proceeded to the Anton Stadium parking lot. The driver stopped the vehicle and was taken into custody without further incident. The driver was identified as 49 year old Victor Branko Rodin, of Clearlake. Rodin is on parole in Lake County for threats, and has been contacted several times recently by Ukiah Police and is apparently residing in the Ukiah area. Rodin was arrested for felony vehicular evasion, reckless driving, and violating parole, and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. (Ukiah Police Report)



TO: The FCC, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th St., S.W. Washington, D.C. 20554

FROM: John Sakowicz, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, Board Director and Treasurer, and Program Host and Producer of "All About Money", KZYX and KZYZ

SUBJECT: Informal Objection, or Petition to Suspend/Deny, Contingent Upon a Change in Management, for the Renewal of Licenses for KZYX and KZYZ

DATE: JANUARY 27, 2014

I am writing to file an Informal Objection for the renewal of the licenses for KZYX and KZYZ, (88.1, 90.7, 91.5 FM) Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. If the deadline has not passed, I would like my complaint to be regarded as a Petition to Suspend/Deny contingent upon a change of management.

The station’s call sign: KZYX and KZYZ

The station’s facility ID number: 41157

The license renewal application file number: BRED20130724AAG

I have “standing” in the matter of the FCC license renewal. First, I am a publicly elected member of the Board of Directors at Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. In 2013, I was elected to the Board by a 10:1 margin. Furthermore, I am also Board Treasurer. I am also the host and producer of a popular show on business and finance on KZYX&Z, "All About Money". I've been on-the-air for the last six years. My guests have included members of Congress, C-level executives, Pulitzer Prize recipients, retired senior military and intelligence officers, professor, authors, leading progressives and activists, and leading think tank researchers and advocates in economics, social policy, political strategy, law, military, technology, and culture.

I even had former FCC Commissioner, Nicholas Johnson, as a guest on my radio show.

The link to the current Board of Directors is found at:

The link to my last show is found at:

By any criteria, I have standing in objecting to the renewal of KZYX&Z’s FCC licenses.

I am filing this complaint for the reasons stated below:

THE PUBLIC FILE: The station’s current General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate, does not share key information, i.e. FCC license renewal updates, reasons why Board meetings have been canceled, reasons why job openings at the station are not posted, and draw-downs on the station’s line of credit and other bank borrowings. As Board Treasurer, I have made repeated requests for financials. Concerning bank borrowings, the immediate-past General Manager, Belinda Rawlings, almost bankrupted the station six years ago when she maxed-out the station’s line of credit at the Savings Bank of Mendocino County without fully disclosing her actions to the Board. When the bank refused to lend Ms. Rawlings any more money, she quit her job and moved to Boston. Again, I have to reiterate I am Board Treasurer at Mendocino County Public Radio. I also want to emphasize that I know the duties and responsibilities of Board member and Treasurer. I am currently serving my second term as trustee of Mendocino County's $400 million public pension system. I was unanimously appointed by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to the pension system's board, and I have been trained as a trustee at Stanford Law School. I have received further training at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, Executive Education Center. I am also a bonded fiduciary at our county's pension system. I further worked on Wall Street for many years, sit on other boards and commissions, and I have an MA and BA from the Johns Hopkins University. I know my job. By not disclosing important information about the station's finances, the station’s current General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate, has, I believe, violated the FCC's requirements for The Public File. The audits posted to the Public File are audits for the last fiscal year. No current quarterly financials are posted to the Public File, nor have they been provided to me, Board Treasurer, at my request. Again, please keep in mind that the station can max out its line of credit at the bank in any given three-month period. In other words, the station can be bankrupted in any three-month period of time, hence the need for quarterly financials, if not monthly financials. Also, station management refuses to disclose their salaries, despite numerous requests by the public.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: There are many issues of poor corporate governance at Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. The integrity of Board elections greatly concerns me. In the past, General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate, interfered with the elections process by recruiting some people to run for the Board — with his endorsement — while strongly discouraging other people from running for the Board. In other words, Mr. Coate handpicks his own Board. I was told twice by Mr. Coate not to run for the Board, before finally running in 2013. Mr Coate handpicks his Board of Directors, however, the Board is charged with oversight over Mr. Coate. Also, in 2013, the Board voted to change its meeting schedule from meeting on a monthly basis to meeting on a quarterly basis. Yet, our scheduled meeting for January, 2014 was arbitrarily canceled. Our last meeting was on October 7, 2013. Amendments and deletions of the Board's By-Laws are another concern. Former Board Director, Doug McKenty, who I believe will also be joining me in writing the FCC, has complained about the Board's By-Laws which have been changed or discarded without public notice or approval. This is unacceptable. It further consolidates power in Mr. Coate. Another By-Law, 6.07 (2) flies in the face of the concept of a publicly-elected Board. It states: "A Director may be removed from the Board by vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Directors then in office." In other words, taking my own election as an example, although I was elected to the Board by a 10:1 margin by the station's 2,300 members who voted, it would take only six Directors to remove me from the Board, and they could remove me for no cause or without even stating a cause. This is outright contempt for the will of the public. Finally, it should be noted that Mr. Coate unilaterally added both the title of Executive Director and its powers, to his former title and powers of General Manager. This expansion of Mr. Coate's powers means that he does not have to consult the Board on most decisions regarding the operations of the station. Taken in its totality, the FCC can see how Mr. Coate has changed the station from being a truly public/noncommerical radio station to being a private clubhouse for him and his friends. It would not be an overstatement to say that Mr. Coate has commandeered the station.

PUBLIC INTEREST OBLIGATIONS/LOCALISM: My members of the public have been deeply troubled by the arbitrary cancellations of a formerly very popular show on KZYX, “Open Lines,” which was the public’s only opportunity for unrestricted public comment. Canceling “Open Lines” is an important First Amendment issue at KZYX&Z. Members of the public could formerly comment on any subject for three minutes. Despite what Mr. Coate says, the real reason I believe the show was canceled is because callers were becoming increasingly critical of station management. The show’s equally popular host, Doug McKenty, a former Board Director, was also suspended by Coate, apparently for not silencing disaffected listeners. Finally, many programming decisions are made without public input. Worse, some decisions have been punitive. (I fully expected reprisals by station management for exercising my First Amendment rights by writing this complaint and speaking out to the FCC.) Concerning bad programming decisions made without any public input, I’ll cite a few examples. The Ukiah Daily Journal’s editor, KC Meadows, once had a show on KZYX.&Z It was a popular show. Ms. Meadows knows more about Mendocino County than just about anyone. She loves our county and its people. But she was summarily dismissed by management at KZYX&Z for reasons that are still not clear. Another popular host, Ells Cooperrider, was also fired. Ms. Cooperrider has a national reputation in the fight against GMOs. Again, it is not clear why she was fired. It took years for Ms. Cooperrider’s appeal to be resolved. She finally returned to the air, but only after a long fight. Shows by other popular hosts, notably Beth Bosk, editor of the New Settler Interviews, were also yanked. Meanwhile, folks who should have been given the opportunity to host shows — like national, raw cannabis juicing expert, William Courtney, MD — were never given shows. Dr. Courtney had to go to neighboring Humboldt County’s KMUD to host his show, even though he lives in Mendocino County. Perhaps worst of all, popular KZYX&Z reporter, Christina Aanestad, was fired without cause. Ms. Aanestad had been groomed by the long-time KZYX&Z news director, Annie Esposito, to be Ms. Esposito’s successor when she retired. Ms. Aanestad’s California-wide reputation as an outstanding independent investigative journalist is well-deserved. Her work has aired on KQED’s “The California Report,” Free Speech Radio News, Public Radio Exchange, and other media outlets. Ms. Aanestad is a regular reporter and substitute news anchor at KMUD. Her “Stories from Ecuador” about the degradation of sacred lands from oil drilling, gold mining, and hydroelectric dams have put Ms. Aanestad in the league of first-rate independent investigative reporters. Ms. Aanestad’s firing by General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate is still a disgrace. Another thing that troubles me is that for a public station, KZYX&Z does a pitiful job in covering local news. Over the years, “Community News” which airs Monday – Friday, on KZYX&Z, was cut from 60 minutes, to 30 minutes, and finally to 5 minutes. The station claimed they didn't have the money for a news department, yet staff received raises following Ms. Aanestad's demise. Salaries were increased to the levels stipulated by California labor law so that all employees of KZYX&Z could be reclassified as "exempt". Also, General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate,m was given a 10 per cent raise in 2013. After much public outcry, “Community News” was recently expanded to 10 minutes, and a fledgling Community Advisory Board was formed. The Community Advisory Board, it should be noted, has no authority or powers.

EEO COMPLIANCE AND DIVERSITY: In December, 2013, Mr. Coate hired his friend Michael Kisslinger , and Sheri Quinn, the friend of Board member, Holly Madrigal. These jobs were neither posted nor advertised by KZYX&Z. In 2011, Mr. Coate hired news reporter, Paul Lambert, without posting nor advertising the position. Another employee, David Brooksher, was hired without posting or advertising the job. (Mr. Brooksher, for whom I can vouch, may have also been fired without cause.) These are clear examples of EEO violations. The FCC is committed to EEO compliance and diversity. The FCC’s EEO program for broadcasters has three prongs. The first requires that the broadcaster adopt an outreach program to notify all significant groups within its community of job openings at the station. The FCC is looking for an outreach program that reaches beyond the “old boy’s network,” to recruit new people from diverse segments of the community to work at broadcast stations. In the past, many of the EEO fines that were issued focused on this first prong of the program – fining stations that either did not reach out to community groups about openings for most of its jobs, or where the outreach was insufficiently broad. The FCC issues fines to stations that rely solely on in-house recruiting or online sources which, alone were deemed insufficient. Prong 2 of the FCC's EEO program – the obligation to notify groups about job openings when those groups ask that they be notified -- is equally important. Prong 2 of the EEO program requires that broadcasters let their communities know about their EEO outreach programs through occasional on-air announcements or other means. As part of that notification, the broadcaster must let the public know that groups within its service area can ask that they be included on notifications of job openings. Once they ask to be included on the list of groups to get notices of job openings, the groups need to be notified of the job openings at the station – for as long as they want to continue to receive these notices. In these cases, the broadcasters had received requests that certain groups be notified about job openings, apparently told the FCC in prior filings that these groups had requested notification, then dropped the ball in the time period in which EEO audits of the station groups were conducted and failed to continue to provide that notice. These decisions should serve as a warning to all broadcasters that they must provide notice of the existence of their EEO programs to their communities, and remember to notify the groups that actually request notification of the openings that arise at their stations. Prong 3 requires that broadcasters conduct “non-vacancy specific outreach” – essentially supplemental efforts to educate their communities about the duties of various broadcast jobs and the qualifications that applicants should develop to qualify for those jobs. In addition, these supplemental efforts educate the public about how people can find out about job openings when they arise. These efforts are to be conducted even when an employment unit has no openings – just to educate the community about broadcast job opportunities. KZYX&Z has failed in all these respects.

TOWER AND OTHER EQUIPMENT ISSUES: The integrity and reliability of towers and other equipment at KZYX&Z is an on-going issue. Just last week, the signal for 91.5 FM was down for more than 24 hours due to problems with the transmitter on Laughlin Peak here in Mendocino County. Quoting from Mr. Coate's own blog: "Sometime early Saturday morning KZYZ, 91.5, suddenly went off the air. The problem was large: one of the critical components of the transmitter itself, the "exciter," failed and took the signal down with it." This is but one example of failing infrastructure at KZYX&Z. I could cite another few dozen incidents that contributed to the signal being down during the last six years I have been associated with KZYX&Z. This failure of the broadcast signal is unacceptable. As a footnote, I also wonder if the station's EAS equipment is operational at all times.

MAIN STUDIO RULES -- NO STAFF AT MAIN STUDIO: I broadcast my show" All About Money" bi-weekly, on Fridays, at 9:00 a.m. Typically, there is no staff member present at the studio at KZYX&Z when I arrive at the station at 8:30 a.m. The door to the station is open. The studio is open. There is no staff present when I go on-air at 9 a.m. Typically, there is not even staff present in the main studio at the end of my show at 10:00 a.m. During these times, any member of the public can walk into the station and broadcast hate speech, racial epithets, profanity, or lunatic rants. My show's engineer, Leo K. Dikinis, can confirm the fact the station is often left unattended during business hours.

I file this letter only after careful consideration and with great regret and sadness. It is my hope that the FCC help KZYX and KZYZ become a well-managed public radio station again, and not the private, poorly-managed station it is currently.

I am also enclosing a recent article, "Mendocino County's KZYX has FCC License Challenged" about my FCC filing in the Press Democrat. The AP wire picked up on the story, and you may find it in many other newspapers throughout California. You will even find the article reprinted in an FCC law blog.

Finally, many, if not all, of my complaints listed above may been confirmed by past Board Directors, including Doug McKenty, King Collins, and Els Cooperrider. A current candidate for the Board of Directors, Patricia Kovner, MD, can also confirm many details in these complaints. There is also a Facebook page, "KZYX Members for Change". It has 93 members.

Respectfully submitted,

John Sakowicz, Ukiah


THE CHALLENGE to KZYX's FCC license spearheaded by KZYX Board member/programmer John Sakowicz has been picked up as an AP wire story and appears in a recent San Jose Mercury News:

SAKO went off on a odd tangent in the Press Democrat last week about the FCC case pending re Mendocino County Public Radio. The combative liberal talk show host said one of his objections to station management was the recent hiring of a KZYX newsperson who lists the Voice of America and, possibly, the CIA, on her resume, a double whammy among the more excitable libs. But seeing as how both agencies draw smart, all be them believer types, mostly from elite schools, one young woman at the station's ramshackle Philo headquaters with those credentials would instantly triple the station's IQ. So far, from all accounts, the new news lady is doing a good job. Of course I wouldn't be surprised if the poor thing already goes home every night and screams into her pillow. Any person coming in from the outside to any kind of Mendocino County public employment has got to feel like he or she has just walked Through the Looking Glass. Your eyes adjust to the new reality unlike any you've known and suddenly you realize you're in a very strange place. “Alice! Get me outtahere!”


UP FLIGHT AFTER FLIGHT of broken stairway you go, stumbling across the unlighted landings, with an occasional gap in the splendid balustrade yawning straight down on to the abyss below. And there in the very top room of all they introduced me to an old man in his shirt for lack of pyjamas. I think I describe him badly, for with all the dirt and all the dreadful poverty and ignorance I am not at all certain that 'man' is the term well chosen. In some extraordinary way inconceivable at home, he was a gentleman. With a courtesy that in that awful place seemed somehow almost a nightmare, he ushered me into his frightful room, and there, on the introduction of the man who had brought me, he began to talk to the stranger. In its way the visit was quite a little social event. An Englishman then, and he was delighted indeed to meet one of my countrymen. A Fenian he had been himself back in the old days, and some time in the late 'sixties (it must have been) he had gone out and shot at an Englishman. One could sense that he felt it a sort of bond between us. It all sounds so ridiculous, of course, and it would take a cleverer writer than myself even to begin to make it clear to you. If I could draw, now, it would be different. Only I should not draw the old gentleman as a sort of figure of fun with an unshaven chin and a 'begorra' trembling on his lips, the typical Irishman of the English comic papers, but as a grave and patriarchal figure: such a one as in his youth might have drawn a sword to serve his Lord of Hosts according to his conscience. The fires were dead now and the bitterness departed, and it might have been a Bismarck of extremest age amiably chatting over the strategies of a Franco-Prussian War. That at least was the impression that I got. And all on the top floor of a Dublin slum. I belong, of course, to the race that he shot at --I do wish I knew whether he hit his man or not-- but I could not help a mental raising of my hat to him.

— John Gibbons, 1931; from ‘Tramping Through Ireland’



by James Kunstler

The past two months I’ve taken in all but the final few episodes of Breaking Bad, America’s loathe letter to itself. What a metaphor for a nation’s transition from an ethos of earnest effort to a mood of criminal buffoonery. For you who haven’t tuned in to this cultural artifact, Breaking Bad is a cable TV series about a bland high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who, facing an expensive battle with lung cancer, decides to get into the lucrative business of cooking methamphetamine, the most atrocious recreational drug there is. The series follows his misadventures in the trade.

The really remarkable thing about the series is that the most interesting theme in the long-running story remains completely undeveloped — at least so far to within a few installments of the end. That is, Walter’s existential predicament as a hostage to America’s medical racketeering matrix. For many families like Walter White’s, a cancer diagnosis is tantamount to a parallel judgment of financial ruin.

Like everybody else in America these days, poor Walter just submits to his fleecing. In fact, the blandest moments in the long-running melodrama are the scenes when Walter forks over his massive payments to a grandmotherly-type lady at the hospital billing desk. She’s as sweet as pie, though she also seems rather sweetly surprised that he is actually able to pay his bill. He pays for his treatments, of course, with the income derived from his meth cooking venture. His doctors are portrayed as demigods. There is zero discussion by them of A) the cost of his cancer treatments, and B) the legitimacy of the costs. That’s not their department. He just has to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Which he does, simply by discarding his persona as an earnest schoolteacher and entering the ranks of illicit drugdom. Of course, the series is mostly concerned with the twists, turns, and torments of that transition, and the metaphors in that are also rich as to what America has lately become. For instance, Walter’s success as a criminal stems from his technological skills. He is the meth cooker supremo because his formula is the best, his lab practices are the most exacting, his standards are the highest! Walter White is the Steve Jobs of meth. He puts out the best product and won’t settle for less than perfection.

This jibes nicely with America’s current mood of techno-rhapsodic psychosis, in particular our tendency to ignore all the diminishing returns and blowback from our techno-grandiose endeavors — which range from the magic of shale-oil fracking to the romance of “green” skyscrapers, to high-frequency front-running in the stock markets, to the recruitment of every teenager in America into an obsessive-compulsive cell-phone culture. It’s all good. Walter White’s “ace-in-the-hole” is his science training.

Another winning metaphor is the supernatural amount of cash-money on display in almost every episode once Walter gets rolling in the meth trade, duffle-bags full of exquisite, freshly packed-and-stacked banknotes, so much that tossing a quarter-million here, a quarter million there loses its meaning. The stuff is tossed around like junk mail. This is not inadvertent, of course. It depicts nicely the disintegration of America’s value system: money is everything and nothing. Walter quickly joins the “one percent” earnings-wise. It hardly makes him a better person. His money-making operations are as disgusting as the “innovation” of new swindles among the Too-Big-To-Jail bankers. By mid-way through the series, Walter even has enough petty cash on hand to pay for his brother-in-law’s hospital and rehab bills, after the BOL is shot up by Mexican drug gangsters. The fantastic cost of all that is also ignored.

An additional metaphor is found in Walter’s “employer,” the super-polite neatnik Gustavo Fring, who rules the Albuquerque-based drug empire via a false-front fast-food chain of chicken eateries. Fring is the fantasy of every businessman’s ideal self-image: meticulous, careful, fair — until Walter White’s buffoonery shoves him over the edge and Gus, too, breaks bad, so to speak, in his own fussy way. And business itself is depicted as the highest-and-best expression of human culture, just as it has been since the reign of Ronald Reagan.

Finally, there is the matter of what the fruits of Walter White’s techno-savvy work does to the “consumer” public who buy his product. It turns them into zombies. It’s also almost too obvious to state that the popularity of zombies in American culture has exactly paralleled the financialization of the American economy. That half the action of Breaking Bad takes place in and around automobiles — in the parking-lot wasteland of Albuquerque — is just the cherry on the metaphorical cake. This is who we are. ¥¥


THE SECOND HALF OF THE TIES TO THE LAND WORKSHOP for succession planning for timberland owners will take place on Thursday, January 30th at the Career Center at the High School starting at 7:00. (Please note the change in location.) Greg Giusti and Rick Standiford from the UC Extension will guide the this session featuring an estate planning attorney or CPA. If you did not attend Part I, it is possible to participate in Part II by arriving ten minutes early and purchasing the workbook ($25). This is the fourth workshop in the Legacy of Working Lands--Preserving Anderson Valley's Heritage project. For more information please go to (—Barbara Goodell)



ON JANUARY 25, 2014 t 2pm deputies conducting a criminal investigation into numerous commercial burglaries in the Redwood Valley and Ukiah areas over the past several months received information that a suspect who was in possession of stolen property from these cases would be in the area of Airport Park Blvd in Ukiah. Deputies received information that suspect David Andrews was in possession of stolen property and was planning to deliver the property to a third party. Deputies staged in this area and observed Andrews arriving in the parking lot of Friedman's Home Improvement Store. A Deputy approached the suspect and his vehicle and observed what appeared to be property matching several speakers that were stolen in an earlier burglary. As the deputy contacted the suspect he got back into his vehicle and started it. The deputy demanded the suspect stop and exit the vehicle. Andrews fled in his vehicle at a high rate of speed, jumping the curb and grass median, separating the parking lot from Airport Park Blvd, and turning north. A citizen had to take evasive action to keep from being hit by the suspect's vehicle. The suspect reached speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour before turning in to the shopping center on the opposite side of Airport Park Blvd, which had heavy pedestrian traffic this time of the day. Andrews abandoned his vehicle in this shopping center and fled on foot towards Applebee's Restaurant. Numerous deputies and an Officer with the California Highway Patrol pursued the suspect and with the aid of numerous citizens pointing them in the direction of where the suspect ran, found the suspect fled into the Applebee's Restaurant. The employees of the restaurant fully cooperated with officers and a search of the business was conducted. The suspect was found hiding in a locked storage room inside the business and was arrested without further incident. Upon search of the suspect's vehicle, deputies located numerous items of stolen property that was identified as being stolen. Deputies also located approximately 7 grams of crystal methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, burglary tools, and a disguise used in several of the burglaries. Deputies identified stolen property belonging to Highway 101 Bar & Grill in Redwood Valley, burglarized on 1/19/14 and El Azteca Restaurant in Ukiah, burglarized on 1/23/14. Follow up investigation revealed that Andrews was a suspect in the burglary of Pizza Etc. in Redwood Valley on 10/23/13. Deputies recovered items that were later identified as stolen by Officers from the Ukiah Police Department in numerous burglaries they were investigating. Andrews also had two outstanding felony no-bail warrants out of Mendocino County related to drug and violation of probation charges. Andrews was booked into the County Jail under a no-bail status. (Sheriff’s Press Release)


  1. izzy January 28, 2014

    E-cigs in the county jail? At exorbitant prices? C’mon, we’re in the Emerald Triangle. How about giving m-cigs a try. That’ll mellow out the hot heads. Let’s not forget that after all, the stuff is medicine, and society is sick. Go local!

  2. John Sakowicz January 28, 2014

    Regarding your comment in today’s blog about KZYXX&Z’s newly hired part-time news reporter, Sheri Quinn, her work history with the VOA is immaterial I don’t know why it was even mentioned in the Press Democrat article.

    What is material is the fact that KZYX&Z station manager, John Coate, routinely — and blithely — violates EEOC regs by neither posting nor advertising job openings at the station.

    This is the basis for one of my complaints to the FCC. It contributes to making the case, I hope, that KZYX&Z is not truly public radio, but it is, more accurately, a private clubhouse.

  3. Paul McCarthy March 3, 2014

    It isn’t the Kelley House – the building being considered is at the FORD House on Main St. Mendocino

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