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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, June 7, 2014

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JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN, the dependably excellent reporter for the Ukiah Daily Journal, begins her story on the latest chapter in the endless book of the Palace Hotel, “After another long discussion that Vice-Mayor Mary Anne Landis said felt like the same she'd been having for the past two years, the Ukiah City Council voted again Wednesday to give Palace Hotel owner Eladia Laines more time to prove she is making progress on the building's rehabilitation.”

Palace Hotel
Palace Hotel

MS. LANDIS was right. It's the same discussion in the context of no options other than receivership for the ghostly four-story brick structure, once the center of Ukiah's social life but long abandoned. Receivership would cost Ukiah money it doesn't have and anyway probably wouldn't end in a spiffily rehabbed hotel at the end of a long, expensive and failed process. It would still be a white elephant but one tethered forever to the City of Ukiah. It will probably be an albino pachyderm with Eladia Laines too, and maybe a decaying relic for all our days, but it's better than a publicly-owned parking lot.

MS. LAINES of Marin remains the present owner of the building, the latest in a long series of owners, a couple of them large-scale criminals; their names appeared briefly on the title to the property then disappeared, the promises to return the Palace to some semblance of its old glory gone up their nostrils in a cloud of cocaine.

WHAT'S TOUCHING about Ms. Laines, is her determination to keep plodding in what seems like a forward direction, at least rhetorically, although it's clear she's way short of the money to fulfill her dream. She's also faced with the usual bureaucratic hurdles she seems inevitably tardy in leaping.

“I SEE this receivership as the best opportunity to get movement in a project that's been holding our community hostage,” outgoing councilperson Landis is quoted in the Journal as saying at Wednesday's meeting of the City Council. “Is this the best thing to do? I think it's the best thing to do.”

SHE AND COUNCILMAN Benj ‘Little Benj’ Thomas, always quick to spend other people's money, proceeded to vote for receivership, but were out-voted 3-2 by cooler heads.

LANDIS is also wrong about which building is holding central Ukiah hostage. It's not the faded pile of bricks not even a block from the County Courthouse, it's the new County Courthouse the nine County judges want to build down near the 101 freeway on West Perkins. If that spectacularly selfish scheme is accomplished, Ukiah would have two large architectural wrecks in one block, and a devastating blow dealt to the small businesses dependent on the courts that now, at least during daylight hours, make Ukiah appear as if it isn't on economic life support.

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A superintendent more concerned about his own pay and that of his circle of managers, low morale and treatment of employees bordering on abusive are some of the conclusions of the Mendocino County grand jury after a look into the Mendocino County Office of Education.

The grand jury also points to a county board of education that appears to be ill-informed about problems perceived by staff.

The grand jury report specifically notes that county schools Superintendent Paul Tichinin got his own salary raised three years running and raised the salaries of his circle of managers, while programs and services to students were cut, and salaries of teachers and aides went largely unchanged.

The grand jury also points to MCOE Human Resources Director Richard Lamken as "insensitive" and "unprofessional" in his dealings with employees. (Lamken, who lives in the Bay Area, was observed three weeks ago removing one of insurgent superintendent candidate, Warren Galletti.)

"While on sick leave, an employee received a letter of release of employment, personally delivered by the HR Director on the evening before a scheduled major surgery," the grand jury wrote. "Some employees believed they were targeted for speaking out about issues of concern. Some employees who disagreed with HR's position(s) feared retribution and felt intimidated. After a summer training for which employees were to receive compensation at a negotiated rate of pay, documentation shows the HR Director manually changed a Supplementary Time Card to direct a stipend only' payout, which was less than the negotiated rate of pay of the employee. The business office later reversed the action."

Other findings include:

Based on numerous interviews, videos of board meetings, and employee comments on a union survey, the grand jury found that employee morale has gone down. The number of grievances filed by contract employees has increased.

Employees stated that they could not speak out for fear of disciplinary action, dismissal or other retaliation. The certificated and classified union contracts allow for "self-evaluation" to be used as part of the employees' evaluation. Interviewees stated that some supervisors used the self-evaluation process in a punitive manner.

Board President Stephanie Hoy - who has been on the board for 20 years - does not have a working knowledge of MCOE functions, is not aware of staff morale and voted to approve cuts to programs and services, but did not fully understand the ramifications of the cuts.

MCOE administrators' dismissive behavior toward employees and their concerns contributes to the employee low morale.

Cuts in funding at River School have resulted in a number of classified employee layoffs. Due to budgetary cuts, some services and programs have become unavailable to the River School students. The absence of woodshop classes is a loss to students, who could reap great benefits from them. Reductions in services in the Young Parents Program have resulted in a waiting list of young parents who would like to enroll in the program.

Tichinin has announced he is retiring this year. Tuesday's primary election included a slate of candidates to replace him. The two candidates who will face off in November are Warren Galletti, who is endorsed by MCOE teachers, and Paul Joens-Poulton, who is endorsed by Tichinin.

A Ukiah Daily Journal source close to the investigation into MCOE said this grand jury report was held up so that it would not become public until after the primary election. A grand jury spokesman said he could not comment on the timing of the report but said the grand jury is legally charged with avoiding taking actions which would affect the outcomes of elections.

(Courtesy, Ukiah Daily Journal)

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A READER WRITES: "One of our local vineyard workers was a top finalist in the recent 2014 Mendocino County Pruning Contest. He was down at Lemons’ Market Thursday evening eagerly awaiting his weekly paycheck and hoping for a big one. His expression dropped when he opened the envelope and took a peek, expressing that he had hoped for more. My son looked over his shoulder and seeing the $600 figure said ‘Wow’ that’s more than I make.’ The pruning wizard said, ‘Yeah? Look at this,’ and pointed to the 68 hours he had worked that week. He explained that they work almost 12 hours a day, six days a week. His hourly wage after nine years working for the same vineyard management company is $11 an hour with apparently straight pay for overtime. That's a crime. The people of Anderson Valley tolerate insults on many levels from the greedy wine baron bastards. As the tenuous American social order continues its spiraling decline it won't be long until the revolutions predicted way back in the 60s are upon us. It won't be pretty.”

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AT THE MOVIES. A guy whose judgment I trust saw a new release at the Ukiah Theater called, A Million Ways to Die in the West. He said it was so stupidly vulgar, so thoroughly unfunny he considered walking out, but it was a hot afternoon, the theater is air conditioned, he'd already paid to get in. Mick LaSalle, the Chron's slo-mo movie reviewer, begins his rigid thumbs-up assessment of A Million Ways, “Seth MacFarlane gives you 10 jokes where other comedians give you one, so if five of them don't appeal to you, you're still ahead… The movie is a strident rebuke of old Western values in favor of modern times and ways.”

NO IDEA who Seth MacFarlane is, but LaSalle seems to think everyone else does. Maybe the guy is funny, maybe my friend is just being prudish, but I know if El Friendo says the movie is moronic, I'll go with his opinion over LaSalle's, who seems to me consistently wrong about lots of the movies I do see.

THE MERE MENTION of film reviewers and reviews make me nostalgic for Pauline Kael and Dwight Macdonald, who not only brought real brains to movie reviewing, they were also good writers.

BUT NOW, in addition to lowbrow newspaper reviewers, we have these adnoidal college professors and magazine writers running their nasal audio movie giveaways at us on the public radio stations. These characters give us the whole plot then their opinions, which are tritely breathless, but not quite as boring as the interviews with non-verbal musicians and show biz celebs that inevitably follow. And they always do it outside of any kind of social-political judgment in play that we always got from Kael and Mcdonald. Who was that rapper who said he thought the real problem with America was “dumbass-ifcation”? Amen, bro.

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ON JUNE 5, 2014 at approximately 7:20pm, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call regarding an aircraft accident in the 16000 block of Branscomb Road, in Laytonville. MCSO Deputies, along with California Highway Patrol and fire personnel from the Laytonville Fire Department were dispatched to the aircraft accident. Upon arrival of fire personnel, the aircraft was located upsidedown in a dry creekbed. The pilot of the aircraft, and sole occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene. Upon arrival of MCSO Deputies, a witness advised that he had heard a low flying aircraft approaching his runway from the south and fly over his house. As he walked outside he could see an aircraft swing around, from the north, heading back towards his runway. According to the witness, he recognized the aircraft to be owned by Kenneth Gillespie, 63, of Laytonville. As the aircraft approached the runway he noted that the aircraft had safely dropped below the tree line that was located at the north end of the runway. As the aircraft approached the south end of the runway the witness saw the right wing of the aircraft strike a large tree. The aircraft then yawed to the right and hit a second tree. This tree strike caused the right wing of the aircraft to be seared off of the aircraft. The aircraft then continued down the runway into a heavily forested area. The witness ran to where he saw the aircraft go into the treeline. He then located the aircraft, upsidedown in a creekbed. According to the witness, the pilot, who he recognized as the Kenneth Gillespie, was obviously deceased. This case has been referred to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for further investigation. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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Dear Editor,

At 10:30 am every Saturday morning during the summer and into the fall, community members who volunteer for Hendy Woods Community, Inc., will lead interpretive walks. The walks begin at the Picnic Area. The walks are for visitors to Hendy Woods, for campers, and for residents of Anderson Valley and their family and friends. The walk leaders include Peggy Dart, Nancy Ippolito, Linda MacElwee, and Bill Sterling. We invite and encourage local folks to join us for an appreciative stroll in our amazingly diverse local Park.

Bill is currently preparing a first Junior Ranger program for Hendy Woods and hopes to develop a couple more. The State Department of Parks and Recreation sponsors the Junior Ranger program at many State parks. But there are no Junior Ranger programs at Hendy Woods currently. Would anyone else out there like to devise a program for the youngsters who come to the Park? If yes, please let Bill know at

Last year the Visitor Center depended on community volunteers to open and operate the Visitor Center. The same is true this year, but a paucity of volunteers has meant that the Visitor Center is open on a somewhat irregular basis if open at all. The Visitor Center needs volunteers most of all!

For Hendy Woods to thrive for campers, for visitors, for the staff, and for the Anderson Valley community, more community volunteers are needed who can provide time consistently and therefore more and more knowledgeably. Anyone who can devote a few hours or more a week should contact Shelly Englert, the volunteer coordinator for Hendy Woods Community, Inc., at

Sincerely yours, Bill Sterling, Philo

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I lay down in the empty street and parked

My feet against the gutter's curb while from

The building above a bunch of gawkers perched

Along its ledges urged me don't, don't jump.

— Bill Knott

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GEORGE HICKS REPORTS From The Deck Of USS Ancon (D-Day Radio Broadcast, June 6th, 1944) — YouTube

The 'New York World Telegram' called it "the greatest recording yet to come out of the war." This was the amazing recording made by George Hicks, London Bureau Chief for the Blue Network (soon to become ABC) of the beginning of the D-Day Normandy Invasion.
 Added to the Library of Congress Audio Archive.

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A 219-189 CONGRESSIONAL VOTE LAST WEEK approved a measure that would call off the DEA in states where medical marijuana is legal. The roll call tally represented a one-vote majority for the proposal. It would cut off funding for Justice Department enforcement actions that interfere with medical marijuana laws in 22 states and with laws in another 10 states that allow medical use of hemp oils. 49 Republicans voted for it. "States with medical marijuana laws are no longer the outliers; they are the majority," said the bill's author, Sam Farr, a conservative Democrat from Monterey. "This vote showed that Congress is ready to rethink how we treat medical marijuana patients in this country."

NOMINAL DEMOCRAT DIANE FEINSTEIN, however, is opposed, as are probably, a majority of her colleagues in the U.S. Senate, average age 73. "Federal law enforcement officials must have the ability to shut down marijuana dispensaries that fail to operate under strict medical marijuana guidelines," Feinstein said, tacit recognition of her opinion that most of America's self-medicators are not sick.

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Dear Sen. Diane Feinstein:

Now that President Obama has stiffed you by failing to notify Congress before the prisoner swap, as required by law, perhaps you can now feel the pain and outrage of the 1 million Californians who had their health insurance plans canceled despite over two dozen assurances from Obama that we could keep our plans — period.

Breaking the law, breaking promises — whatever description you use, it amounts to various forms of the same thing. He is totally untrustworthy.

Ethan Jones, San Bruno

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IN A CULTURE that interprets puberty as a tragedy of lost innocence rather than as a triumphal entry into adulthood, the possibility of someone actually giving vent to sexual feelings remains deliciously scandalous…[so] in the viperous new generation arising in America's schools, no greater sport could be had or imagined than making all repositories of respectability cringe and groan over the unprovable. Somebody, somewhere, came up with the idea of dirty "Louie Louie" lyrics not only as a way of putting on other kids, and panicking authority, but as a way of creating something rock 'n' roll needed: a secret as rich and ridiculous as the sounds themselves.

— David Marsh, 1992; from "Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n' Roll Song, Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of The Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions, and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics

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Dogs Rule at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens “Dog Days of Summer” Event

Fort Bragg, California – May 30, 2014 – Dogs rule at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and we’re setting aside a special day to appreciate and celebrate our canine friends. Come out to the Gardens on Sunday, June 22 from 11:00am to 3:00pm for a barking good time on our Event Lawn. Contests include Best-dressed Dog, Best Trick, Most Enthusiastic Dog, and Dog/Owner Look-alike. There will be a demonstration of disc dogs and contest, an agility course, and other fun activities. Four-legged attendees will receive “doggy bags” and free vanilla ice cream and lunch options will be available for the two-legged companions. This event is free with regular Gardens’ admission.

Joe Seta of KOZT “The Coast” FM will be Master of Ceremonies. An animal communicator will be available for consultation, you can have your portrait taken with your dog, and a Parade of Champions will celebrate all canines attending. Bug a Bull K9 Education Program will be providing dog smart and safe information to help our young people earn to be safe around dogs and prevent dog bites. Bug a Bull will be selling coloring books, with art by the Melinda Dalke. Echo, the Disc dog, will be onsite with his human Crissy Tadlock, and Bella, the Best Dressed Dog from Paul Bunyan Days 2013, will be here with her human companion, Dee Dee, to run the costume contest. Highway 20 Feed is providing prizes for the contests, and The Jewelry and Gift Co. is donating a bag of dog food for a raffle! Also, for a $5 donation, Bug a Bull will make an imprint of your dog's footprint that will last forever. Rhody’s Garden Café will have lunch specials available.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a dog-walker’s paradise, with 3.5 miles of trails through manicured and natural gardens to the ocean’s edge. Our Dog Rules ask that dogs be on a six-foot leash (no retractable leashes, please), that owners clean up after their dogs, and that owners be mindful that some people are fearful of dogs and to maintain control of their canines at all times.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is located at 18220 N. Highway 1, two miles south of downtown Fort Bragg and seven miles north of Mendocino. For more information, see

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CATCH OF THE DAY, June 6, 2014

Alban, Anderson, Benci, Cady, Eldridge
Alban, Anderson, Benci, Cady, Eldridge

STEPHANIE ALBAN, Ukiah. Driving on a suspended license.

JAMES ANDERSON, Willits, Drunk in public (Frequent flier)

COREY BENCI, Redwood Valley, DUI

WILLIAM CADY, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public (Frequent flier)

MICHAEL ELDRIDGE, Ukiah, Drunk in public

Ferris, Gibney, Gilroy, Haynes, Lopes
Ferris, Gibney, Gilroy, Haynes, Lopes

TIFFANI FERRIS, Pot growing/processing, possession for sale.

SAMUEL GIBNEY, Fort Bragg, Drunk in public


IAN HAYNES, Laytonville. Mr. Haynes racked up a bunch of charges, including possession of meth, marijuana, presiding over a dope house, guns, resisting arrest.

ANTHONY LOPES, Willits, Drunk in public

McGuire, Pestoni, Rodriguez, Salazar, Sandiego
McGuire, Pestoni, Rodriguez, Salazar, Sandiego

JUSTIN McGUIRE, Willits. Drunk, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer and interference with an EMT.

JOHN PESTONI, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

IAN RODRIGUEZ, Idaho Falls. Arrested in Willits for driving under the influence of drugs.

JULIAN SALAZAR, Sacramento. Revoke probation.

DAVID SANDIEGO, JR. Ukiah. DUI, possession of a controlled substance, unclear vehicle registration.

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Drank, pissed, and kicked


A Ukiah man being arrested for urinating in public allegedly kicked the officer, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, an officer was watching a group gathered near the Ukiah Civic Center around 7:20 p.m. Tuesday and saw one of them get up and urinate in plain view.

When the officer approached the man, identified as Alan J. Pollick, 34, he was determined to be intoxicated. After being placed under arrest for being drunk in public, Pollick reportedly kicked the officer in the leg.

Pollick was also charged with assaulting an officer and booked into Mendocino County Jail.

Woman reportedly squatting in hotel room


A Ukiah woman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly breaking into a hotel room she did not pay for, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, an officer responded to the Super 8 motel on South Orchard Avenue at 11:15 a.m. June 4 when it was reported that a woman was inside a room that should not have been occupied.

It was determined that the woman, identified as Jessica J. Hewitt, 33, of Ukiah, had forcefully broken into the room, and she was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Accused shoplifter allegedly admits to stealing car as well


A Ukiah man stopped for alleged shoplifting Saturday reportedly admitted to officers he had recently stolen a car, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, officers responded to Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard at 10 a.m. May 31 when it was reported that a man had left the store with $150 worth of unpaid items.

When officers contacted the man, identified as Robert M. Hanover, 22, of Ukiah, he reportedly told them that two women at a hotel had given him a list of items they wanted and promised him sexual favors if he stole them.

While Hanover was being placed under arrest on suspicion of burglary, he reportedly described how he had stolen a vehicle several nights prior and had eluded officers during an ensuing high-speed pursuit. He was also charged with stealing a vehicle and booked into Mendocino County Jail.

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A SIGNATURE DRIVE is beginning to put an initiative on the November ballot in Mendocino County that will preserve our county's clean drinking water by banning fracking while giving residents more local control to protect the county's essential resources. Janie Rezner's guests on Women's Voices, KZYX, June 16, 7 pm PT, will be Geri Morisky who with many others in our county are gathering signatures for this Community Rights Initiative, and who attended the recent Democracy School led by Paul Cienfugeos, Community Rights educator and organizer. We will also be joined by Liz Rog of Decorah, Iowa, Winneshiek County, the location of that region's first ever Community Rights ordinance, to attempt to stop frac sand mining. If successful we will be the first county in California to use the initiative process to ban fracking and assert rights to clean air, water, and soil. The show will air 7 PM PT, at 90.7 FM Philo, 88.1 FM Fort Bragg, and 91.5 FM Willits and can also be heard streaming live at There will be time for call-ins. It will be archived at along with past shows. You can also Google Janie Rezner radio.

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Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund; Distribution of Grant Funds

Mendocino County is pleased to announce that a total of $140,772.33 has been awarded by the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, which was funded by contributions made by the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. Each year, funds are awarded to local government agencies impacted by tribal casinos. Awarded applicants from this year’s funding cycle include the District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office, Hopland Public Utility District, and the Hopland, Little Lake, Redwood Valley/Calpella, and Long Valley Fire Districts.

Awarded funds will support law enforcement, casino crime mitigation, water infrastructure improvements for tribal lands, fire protection, and fire communications equipment.

The State Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund was established to help mitigate the impacts of tribal casinos funded by gaming fees. The Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee was created to distribute these funds within Mendocino County. The Committee includes the following members: Shawn Padi and Pamela Espinoza of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Council, Dan Hamburg and John McCowen of the County Board of Supervisors, Ron Orenstein and Larry Stranske of the Willits City Council, and Deborah Heatherstone of the Point Arena City Council.

Mendocino County would like to thank the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians for its contributions to the Fund and cooperation throughout the award process, and to congratulate this year’s awardees.

For more information, please contact the Executive Office at 463-4441.

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50. Act naturally. 49. Found missing. 48. Resident alien. 47. Advanced BASIC. 46. Genuine imitation. 45. Airline Food. 44. Good grief. 43. Same difference. 42. Almost exactly. 41. Government organization. 40. Sanitary landfill. 39. Alone together. 38. Legally drunk. 37. Silent scream. 36. British fashion. 35. Living dead. 34. Small crowd. 33. Business ethics. 32. Soft rock. 31. Butt Head. 30. Military Intelligence. 29. Software documentation. 28. New York culture. 27. New classic. 26. Sweet sorrow. 25. Childproof. 24. "Now, then…". 23. Synthetic natural gas. 22. Christian Scientists. 21. Passive aggression. 20. Taped live. 19. Clearly misunderstood. 18. Peace force. 17. Extinct Life. 16. Temporary tax increase. 15. Computer jock. 14. Plastic glasses. 13. Terribly pleased. 12. Computer security. 11. Political science. 10. Tight slacks. 9. Definite maybe. 8. Pretty ugly. 7. Twelve-ounce pound cake. 6. Diet ice cream. 5. Rap music. 4. Working vacation. 3. Exact estimate. 2. Religious tolerance. 1. Microsoft Works.

AND THE MAJOR’S PERSONAL FAVORITE: “I’ll never forget ol’ what’shername.”

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HISTORIC PRESENTATION by Humboldt Author-Activist Greg King: “The Ghost Forest — Radicals and Real Estate in the California Redwoods — A Personal History of the Ancient Redwood Ecosystem and the Struggles to Protect It"

Gualala Arts Center, Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7pm. $5 Admission. Sponsored by the Friends of the Gualala River (

Greg King in Maxxam-held All Species Grove, 1987

Greg King is an award-winning and nationally published Humboldt County writer and photographer who is credited with discovering and naming Headwaters Forest, in 1987, when he was a leader of Humboldt Earth First!. In this June 12 presentation, “The Ghost Forest,” at 7pm in the Coleman Auditorium at Gualala Arts Center, King examines this intense era of ancient redwood liquidation by Maxxam Corp., the equally fervent efforts to save the last of this unparalleled ecosystem, and the current state of the forest. King played a critical role in protecting Headwaters Forest. His talk explores the natural history of the redwood ecosystem, illustrated by his own beautiful and widely-published photos. His presentation also chronicles the redwood’s wider collision with Western humanity and discusses key elements of state, federal and corporate timber policy. King moved to Humboldt County from Sonoma County in 1987 specifically to fight Maxxam’s liquidation of the last significant ancient redwood groves outside of parks. During the 19th century King’s family owned one of Sonoma County’s largest redwood mills, the King-Starrett Mill in Monte Rio. The King Ranch in Sonoma County and the King Range Mountains in Humboldt County are named for his ancestors. In 1999, King founded the non-profit Smith River Project, dedicated to protecting California’s wildest river, and in 2004 he founded Siskiyou Land Conservancy, a land trust. He is currently writing a book, The Ghost Forest, a history of the redwood ecosystem and redwood logging and protection efforts. His latest book, Rumors of Glory, the co-written memoir of Canadian rock star Bruce Cockburn, will be published by HarperOne in November 2014 “Over and over, Greg King told himself that this butchery had to be stopped. Not just controlled, not just regulated, but stopped — altogether, in its tracks, and once and for all.” — David Harris, The Last Stand.

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'Democracy' is Not Enough

by Alexander Cockburn

June 12th, 1989 — Transfixed by a million people in Tiananmen Square, the press seems unfazed by the fact that though some students plainly want capitalist democracy, others sing “The Internationale.” Workers carry pictures of Mao. But then, these journalists don’t seem to notice very much. How come, if Deng Xiaoping has been the most hated man in China, we had to wait for a million people to tell us the news?

Speaking as one who has stood in a crowd of a million people -- the demonstration in favor of a nuclear freeze, held on June 12, 1982, in New York’s Central Park -- I don’t recall the press here getting quite as excited at the turnout. Some millions are more millionish than others.

I hope Deng goes down and his whole crowd with him. They promoted market relations within an authoritarian state, which is fascism. At least Gorbachev is going at it the other way round.

The past decade has spelled long-term misfortune most Chinese peasants and workers. Thatcherization in the countryside has led, as William Hinton observed in the Monthly Review for March, to a dispersal of social assets so great that “it is doubtful if, in the history of the world, any privileged group acquired more for less.” The privileged in this case are those-mostly party functionaries urged to the pillage by the leadership-best positioned to loot the public economy.

So far as urban workers are concerned, Jim Petras points out in a fine article in the May/June issue of Against the Current (7012 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48210) that they are losing the social benefits of communism and getting little in return, beyond “market discipline,” linkage of wages to profits a contract system hailing back to feudal times.

If 1905 in St. Petersburg, or 1968 in Paris, or 1986 in Manila taught us anything, it is that real political change takes more fuel than mass good will. Undesirable classes do not liquidate themselves voluntarily; vested power is not overwhelmed by yellow roses. “People power” can change the nature of the government but not the nature of the state, because although a mass of citizens can stop an army, as the second entry of the Little Red Book says, “To make a revolution, you need a revolutionary party.” And there is no revolutionary party for those Chinese students to turn to.

The word “democracy” always needs footnotes. There was recently a “democratic” mayoral election in Angeles. About 20 percent of the eligible voters turned out, and the winner was a man, Tom Bradley, who in the recent portion of his long stay in City Hall has mostly represented the causes of real estate (local, Canadian, Japanese), in whose interest tens of thousands of the city’s poorest people are about to be flung from their homes.

As Petras concluded, “The class lines are being drawn in the East [i.e., China] between the managerial supporters of the market and working-class defenders of democratic collectivism. It is time for those on the left in the West to also define themselves, because historical experience is demonstrating that one cannot be for both the market and ~ socialism.”

Maybe you can have some market mechanisms within socialism that would make it work better, but that’s not what the Chinese “reforms” have been all about. They’re about restoring capitalism. I buy Petras’s point.

(Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from

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If You See Something, Say Something

by Norman Solomon

Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.

I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage.

Whistleblowers don’t sign up to be whistleblowers. Almost always, they begin their work as true believers in the system that conscience later compels them to challenge.

“It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience,” Matthew Hoh recalled this week. “It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy.”

Hoh describes his record this way: “After over 11 continuous years of service with the U.S. military and U.S. government, nearly six of those years overseas, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as positions within the Secretary of the Navy’s Office as a White House Liaison, and as a consultant for the State Department’s Iraq Desk, I resigned from my position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of war in 2009.”

Another former Department of State official, the ex-diplomat and retired Army colonel Ann Wright, who resigned in protest of the Iraq invasion in March 2003, is crossing paths with Hoh on Friday as they do the honors at a ribbon-cutting -- half a block from the State Department headquarters in Washington -- for a billboard with a picture of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Big-lettered words begin by referring to the years he waited before releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

”Don’t do what I did,” Ellsberg says on the billboard. ”Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.”

The billboard -- sponsored by the ExposeFacts organization, which launched this week -- will spread to other prominent locations in Washington and beyond. As an organizer for ExposeFacts, I’m glad to report that outreach to potential whistleblowers is just getting started. (For details, visit We’re propelled by the kind of hopeful determination that Hoh expressed the day before the billboard ribbon-cutting when he said: “I trust ExposeFacts and its efforts will encourage others to follow their conscience and do what is right.”

The journalist Kevin Gosztola, who has astutely covered a range of whistleblower issues for years, pointed this week to the imperative of opening up news media. “There is an important role for ExposeFacts to play in not only forcing more transparency, but also inspiring more media organizations to engage in adversarial journalism,” he wrote, “Such journalism is called for in the face of wars, environmental destruction, escalating poverty, egregious abuses in the justice system, corporate control of government, and national security state secrecy. Perhaps a truly successful organization could inspire U.S. media organizations to play much more of a watchdog role than a lapdog role when covering powerful institutions in government.”

Overall, we desperately need to nurture and propagate a steadfast culture of outspoken whistleblowing. A central motto of the AIDS activist movement dating back to the 1980s -- *Silence = Death* -- remains urgently relevant in a vast array of realms. Whether the problems involve perpetual war, corporate malfeasance, climate change, institutionalized racism, patterns of sexual assault, toxic pollution or countless other ills, none can be alleviated without bringing grim realities into the light.

“All governments lie,” Ellsberg says in a video statement released for the launch of ExposeFacts, “and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned, in terms of their own decision-making, their planning -- and to be able to allege, falsely, unanimity in addressing their problems, as if no one who had knowledge of the full facts inside could disagree with the policy the president or the leader of the state is announcing.”

Ellsberg adds: “A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy.”

Right now, our potential for democracy owes a lot to people like NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Kirk Wiebe, and EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. When they spoke at the June 4 news conference in Washington that launched ExposeFacts, their brave clarity was inspiring.

Antidotes to the poisons of cynicism and passive despair can emerge from organizing to help create a better world. The process requires applying a single standard to the real actions of institutions and individuals, no matter how big their budgets or grand their power. What cannot withstand the light of day should not be suffered in silence.

If you see something, say something.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder of and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, which launched in early June. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”)

One Comment

  1. John Sakowicz June 7, 2014

    Good riddance, Paul Tichinin. Go! Go now!

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