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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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LARGE TURNOUT for baseball coach Trevor Sanders at the Point Arena school board meeting last week. Sanders had been celebrating a baseball victory over Mendocino three weeks ago that meant his Point Arena team would proceed to the small school championships the next weekend in Eureka. (PA lost that game 10-0 to St. Bernard's.) But he got drunk and hit a couple of parked cars as he attempted to drive the one block from the downtown PA bar to his home. He has been charged with several misdemeanors. No decision yet on whether or not the popular Sanders, 45, will lose his job. Sanders is the married father of three children and a foster father to a fourth. He also sits on the Point Arena City Council, which is also discussing his fate.

UPDATE: SANDERS, 45, has entered not guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges that he drunkenly and deliberately drove his Chevrolet Suburban into several vehicles in downtown Point Arena on Saturday, May 24th. He is represented by ace criminal defense attorney Keith Faulder, and is scheduled for trial in Ten Mile Court on September 24th.

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THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS approved the recommended budget for fiscal year 2014/15 last week on a 3-2 vote with Supervisors Pinches and McCowen dissenting. Which is in contrast to recent years when the CEO recommendations were approved without serious discussion or disagreement. McCowen voted “no” because the budget included $900,000 in one-time revenue from the future sale of the Willits Justice Center and logging at the Little River airport. Which led to a Talmudic discussion about the difference between “one-time revenue” and “unanticipated revenue.” County budget staffers agreed the revenue was one time, but said it was not “unanticipated” because staff “anticipated” that the ugliest public building in Mendocino County would sell and the logging plan would go forward.

THE WILLITS MONSTROSITY is jointly owned by the County and the State Administrative Office of the Courts, but has sat mostly vacant for years. Before it can be sold, ownership of the building has to be sorted out between the County and the State Courts. And because it was built on land owned by the City of Willits, Willits would seem to be on the very short list of potential buyers. But Willits is dealing with a water emergency, which means acquisition of the so-called Justice Center is probably a back burner issue at best. Which also means getting any money for it in the coming fiscal year, anticipated or not, is hardly a slamdunk. And how about the “anticipated” revenue from the Little River Airport logging plan? The County has been ineptly pursuing a timber harvest plan at the airport for what seems like a decade or more. The revenue may be anticipated, but the odds of receiving it (or some portion of “it”) in any particular year seem questionable.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES VOTED “NO” because the Supes did not go along with a couple of his ideas for managing the “Road Fund” and for paying down more of the unfunded pension debt. Pinches said he had been following the Road Fund, which is part of the Mendocino County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Budget, for many years and the balance was always between $5 and $8 million. Pinches wanted to take an extra $1 million and use it for paving more roads. He used the Pavement Condition Index, a measurement of the County's rapidly deteriorating roads, to argue that more money needed to be spent on roads or we needed to decide which roads would be abandoned. MCDOT Director Howard Dashiell countered that all the funds in the Road Fund were obligated and that he could be thrown in jail if he overspent his budget. Pinches pointed again to the millions in ongoing fund balance and said the road fund is continually replenished as state and federal funds are received, and that it was therefore unlikely to be overspent.

FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE broke the road logjam by making a motion that $2 million of the annual general fund transfer of $3 million that goes to the road fund be dedicated to paving. Gjerde had earlier brought out that Dashiell only planned on spending about $250,000 on paving in the next fiscal year but $8 million was needed just to maintain the County road system in its current crumbling condition. Dashiell argued that if he was forced to spend another $2 million on paving he would have to close some of the outlying road yards and lay off staff. The motion passed 3-2 with Supervisors Hamburg and Brown opposed.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES also argued in favor of using the “Teeter Fund” amortization payment to help pay down the unfunded pension debt. The Teeter Fund (which allows the County to make upfront payments for the share of property tax due to cities, schools and special districts, and in return receive the penalties and interest for late payments) was supposed to be a source of revenue but has instead turned into a slush fund for previous County administrators and supervisors. Instead of using Teeter Fund revenue to pay off the Teeter debt, the money was used to pay for County programs and positions that the County really couldn't afford. Which more than doubled the original Teeter Plan debt. But it made the Supes look great as they passed out “extra money” (aka “found money”) at budget time, money that the county really didn't have. Putative libs like Kendall Smith and J. David Colfax, and putative conservatives like Mike Delbar, all benefited from the sham largesse.

THE CURRENT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS directed that Teeter Fund revenue be tracked in a separate account, be used exclusively to pay off the Teeter debt, and an additional $700,000+ of general fund money be used to further pay down the Teeter debt. As a result of these policies, over the last five years, the Teeter debt has been paid down from about $11 million to about $4 million. Pinches claimed that the Teeter plan receivable (the money owed to the County for penalties and interest on delinquent properties) was $15 million and that the Teeter debt, even without the extra $700,000 annual payment from the general fund, would be paid off in two years. No one disputed his figures.

THE TEETER DEBT is owed to the County Treasury, which invests spare cash in secure short-term investments that pay only a fraction of 1% interest. In contrast, the County pays 7.75% interest on the $131 million unfunded pension debt. Pinches, in what seems like an obvious no-brainer, said it was time to shift the $700,000+ general fund Teeter payment to the unfunded liability. Staff didn't disagree with Pinches' logic but still argued in favor of maintaining the status quo for another year.

ANOTHER HOT ISSUE centered around staff's recommendation to spend $200,000 to fund advanced life support services in ambulances in Covelo, Laytonville, Elk and Anderson Valley. Outback Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have always depended on skimpy local funding and a network of dedicated volunteers. The County Fire Chiefs Association has long advocated for a stable source of funding to sustain the system. They were thinking of proposing a ballot initiative to raise the local sales tax when the State imposed the State Responsibility Area fire tax on most rural properties. The Fire Chiefs decided local voters would be unlikely to give themselves a double whammy by also voting for a sales tax increase, so the idea was dropped.

SUPERVISOR MCCOWEN QUESTIONED the County setting a precedent for providing EMS funding, especially with a budget built on the aforementioned $900,000 in one-time money. Staff said paying for outback EMS services was a one-time fix to bridge the gap until the controversial Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) contracts could be awarded. McCowen also doubted that $200,000 would be enough to upgrade current services in the targeted areas from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advanced Life Support (ALS), aka paramedics on board. Staff said if the money was included in the budget they would come back with a plan, which means they currently have no idea how the money can best be spent. Pinches and Hamburg supported extra funding for EMS services in their districts. When Gjerde agreed with McCowen, Supervisor Brown broke the tie by saying she also favored the extra funding for EMS.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES also wanted to know why Animal Control Services wanted $45,000 to build a dog grooming facility. Staff responded that it was intended to provide vocational training to female inmates at the County Jail. Right now the jail is a revolving door that quickly leads too many miscreants right back to a life of crime as soon as they are released. Sheriff Allman, who previously started a bread baking program that has led to jobs for several former inmates (and saved some money in the jail’s food budget), spoke in support of the program, but Pinches was unconvinced. Pinches wanted to know: “If I call 911 is the dispatcher going to tell me they can't send an ambulance but I can get my dog groomed?”

SEIU WAS A BUDGET HEARING “NO SHOW.” Again. Their no shows have become habitual. In the not so distant past SEIU hired “local reps” who lived in the community. The local reps were present at nearly every Board of Supes meeting. Now the “local reps” drive up from Santa Rosa for seemingly random cameo appearances. SEIU, which mis-represents about 700 county employees, shows no interest in understanding the County budget or in advocating for its members. SEIU has set a pattern of making occasional and mostly irrelevant or inaccurate comments during Public Expression, then leaving the building. Typically, no one from SEIU is present when budget decisions are being made and last week was a perfect example of this.

SEIU PRESIDENT HELEN MICHAEL, a smart local person who works and lives in Mendocino County, who probably ought to be representing her fellow workers full time, showed up for Public Expression to read a “Fact Sheet” on unfunded public pension liability put out by Californians for Retirement Security, which is funded by SEIU, the California Teacher's Association and other public employee unions and advocacy groups and, therefore, unreliable by definition. Natch, the fact sheet says public employee pensions are modest, they contribute to the economy and there is no problem with the unfunded liability. The right wing groups attacking public pensions have an equally reasonable sounding set of “facts” claiming that public employee pensions are out of control and the unfunded pension liability is driving public employers to the brink of bankruptcy. The unfunded pension debt is a big part of the County's budget picture, but it is only one part. By staying away from the budget session, SEIU guaranteed that its voice, and that of its members would go unheard.

IF SEIU HAD BOTHERED TO SHOW UP for the recommended budget they could have asked why over $3 million in general fund money is transferred to the road fund every year when that money, or at least part of it, could be used to restore salaries. Ditto for the $700,000+ transferred every year from the general fund to pay down the Teeter debt, especially now that Teeter is in a position to pay itself off. Or they could have asked why the County was proposing to spend $200,000 for outback EMS. Or $45,000 for dog grooming training.

BACK ON MAY 20, at the third quarter budget report, Supervisor McCowen told his colleagues “we need to start having a formal discussion of what portion of [future] revenues...are we going to dedicate towards restoring compensation levels.” McCowen cited the $131 million unfunded pension debt as cause for worry, but called for “a balanced approach to how we apply those future revenues.” The only prob being that any future revenues are sure to be rapidly consumed by future increased costs. But no matter, SEIU wasn't present on May 20 to voice support for McCowen's modest proposal nor were they in the room to follow up at the budget hearing on June 3.

THE AVA HAS CONFIRMED that Sandy Madrigal, previously hired by the SEIU shot callers in Oakland to provide local window dressing, has been fired. But still no word from the secretive organization explaining why she was canned. During Public Expression on May 20 Madrigal criticized the Board of Supes for past decisions, including shutting down the County Family Planning program. The County said the move would save money and that all the same services, including services for minors and indigents, would still be available through other local providers. Madrigal threw out statistics “proving” that teen pregnancies had shot up dramatically since the closure. The County’s Health and Human Services Agency followed up with a press release stating that just the opposite was true, that teen pregnancies had declined since the closure of County family planning services. The SEIU staffer who claimed the County was hiding $12 million still has a job, so it may only be a coincidence that Madrigal was fired just after blurting out false information at the Supes meeting.

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Suspect: Blake Shupe
Age: 26
Incident: 459 PC [Burglary], 243(D) PC-[Battery w/serious], 11357(A) HS[Possession of Hashish/Marijuana

On 5-28-2014 at 8:30 PM, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call stating a white male adult had kicked in a back door to a residence in the 9100 block of Redwood Valley, California.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol responded to assist and were first on scene.  Upon arrive the CHP officers could hear the suspect inside the residence.

Sheriff's Deputies arrived and a perimeter was set up to prevent the suspect from escaping from the area.  After several announcements of law enforcement presence with negative response by the suspect, Deputies called for the assistance of a K-9 unit from the Ukiah Police Department.

The K-9 unit arrived and announced their presence and again no answer from the suspect.


A search of the residence was conducted by the law enforcement personnel on scene resulting in the suspect being found hiding inside the residence.

The suspect, Blake Shupe, was arrested for burglary, one active felony arrest warrant and one active misdemeanor arrest warrant.

Shupe was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the above charges to be held in lieu of $60,000.00 bail.

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by Valerie Adair

Last Saturday was our well attended kick-off for Rural Life Skill Presentations at the Boonville Farmers’ Market. Inspired by the collective knowledge of our friends and neighbors we’ve created a space for everyone to come and share their skills and talents with our community and visitors. The intention is to offer two half hour presentations each Saturday (10:30 to 11AM and 11:30 to Noon) either one person at both time slots, or two separate presenters. Rural Life & Homesteading Skills include: garden/farm, food preparation, natural health/self healing, stewardship, draught/water conservation, sustainable practices, animal husbandry, art & craft, up-cycling & creative reuse.

Our infinite source of talent and skills here in Anderson Valley presented weekly by our locals will infuse our Farmers’ Market, offer visitors a taste of Anderson Valley life, and inspire locals together in community.

Thank you to Alice Woelfle-Erskine: Local Livestock Manager who gave a clean-cut Sheep Sheering demonstration using the traditional hand sheering method. Alice’s demo was well attended by visitors who were excited to experience rural life on their way through town. If any locals need livestock management consultation services or would like to purchase sheep products from Alice you can contact her on her cell @ 310.490.7524

Jesse Rathbun of Boonville Bike Works had his Mobile Bicycle Repair set up at the Market offering $5 bike exams with a line up of local bikers eager for summer cycling. Every one of us intends to fix our own bike, give it the seasonal tune-up or trick out some special feature. But, why not just bring it down to the Farmer’s Market and let Jesse do it right. He’s there almost every Saturday. Jesse gave one on one presentations with curious bikers covering basic bike maintenance and the best bike trails in Northern California. You can contact Jesse @ 707.499.1960

Erwin Ludwig joined us from Ukiah with his hand crafted magnetic knife blocks, hand made knifes and Tiny House Portfolio. Juliet was sharpening knives for locals in the shade and Erwin introduced Tiny House living to several of our visitors. His magnetic knife blocks are made of local and exotic woods, functional art for countertop and wall knife displays. Check out Erwin’s studio online at and 707.373.3192

Judy Nelson of Wildflower Beads joined the market with her beautiful hand crafted glass beads and one of a kind jewelry. Her pricing is enticing and Judy says she’s got the perfect “life frills” to go with our “life skills”. It is true, her organic pieces capture our favorite garden images, colors and textures. Contact her for all of your gifting needs @ 707.489.4112. Thank you Judy, join us anytime!

Our botanical Renaissance man Andy Sands had his informational “Garden Talk” table set up mingling with the crowd introducing people to sustainable ideas throughout the day.

Thank you to our heart and core vendors Ron Rice of Yorkville Olive Ranch offering samples of his finest olive oils. Bill & Bebing McEwen who are featuring a variety of berries and fresh produce this month. Anderson Valley Community Farm always has a variety of choice meats, eggs and fresh produce and Amanda Bontecou of who’ll share her inspirational story of stewarding her own one woman small farm operation on an acre plot on the Lula Cellars Vineyard.

We are hoping for a Vermiculture / Vermicomposting presentation By Jim Devine on Saturday June 14th. His family is in the middle of a move but he intends to be there with his worm bins and plenty of beneficial worm expertise. Please consider giving a presentation at the next farmers market. Our local farmers market vendors would appreciate your support by signing up to share your own Rural Life or Homesteading Skill presentation. Contact Valerie Adair to get on the list of presenters at or 707.367.2143. We need you to infuse our Farmers‘ Market! Thank you Everyone! By Valerie Adair

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MY FAVORITE THING about the Internet is that you get to go into the private worlds of real creeps without having to smell them.

— Penn Jilette

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I have some news for John Sackowicz, Ukiah's self-anointed "people's tribune" and windbag-about-town, as well as for the misguided former members of Sgt. Bowe Berghdahl's unit should they happen across the AVA. Bergdahl was not responsible for the deaths of ANY American soldiers in Afghanistan. George W Bush and the neocons of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) were the culprits who orchestrated that war as well as the one on Iraq (while taking not a single casualty) followed by Barack Obama. They are responsible for all of the more than 2000 US soldiers who died fighting a war in a country that had never attacked the United States nor threatened to do so. All of these criminals are still at large. Yet Sackowicz demands that Bergdahl be the one court-martialed.

Sackowicz, (in the June 4 AVA), is not only channeling serial war criminal, Sen. John McCain and his buddy Lindsey Graham but seems to be auditioning for a job with Fox News which has been leading the media attacks against Bergdahl. He apparently is unaware or doesn't care that the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with the events of 9-11 and it was considered, until the US overthrew it, the recognized government of Afghanistan. The five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo and traded for Berghdahl were apparently part of that government or closely linked to it.

The Taliban, it should be recalled, offered to turn Osama Bin Laden over to the US if Washington could provide it with evidence that he was involved in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The White House ignored the Taliban offer since Bush's PNAC buddies, with Dick Cheney in tow, had the "Pearl Harbor event" they were looking for and nothing was about to put the brakes on their launching the war for "Enduring Freedom."

The five Taliban officials were, in fact, not captured by US troops, but by Afghan warlords who turned them over to the US occupation forces. Those warlords had a reason to eliminate the Taliban which had nothing remotely to do with establishing a democratic Afghanistan or liberating its women. Their opium growing enterprises, prior to 2001, had been effectively shut down by the Taliban for a payment of a meager $40 million by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Today, thanks to US intervention in that country, opium production has reached record levels and the Afghan Taliban, ironically, has been one of the beneficiaries.

Bergdahl, from what we know, saw through the crap that Washington was slinging and what the US army was, in fact, doing in Afghanistan. Sackowicz, on the other hand, is still wallowing in it.

Jeff Blankfort, Ukiah

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Dear Friends,

Here I am, madly trying to get a couple of new paintings done. I want to be here painting, but I also want to be out in the garden, the weather is so beautiful! I was sick so much last winter, when I would have been painting, I was lying in bed unable to do anything. Some bloody flu that kept on coming back. I've got a show I've put together with 17 artists, plus me, up at the Odd Fellows in Mendocino.

I paint to please myself. I'm sure plenty of people say in disgust, “Oh, what's up with the ‘Bunny Pot’ thing? Bunny Pot visits the Oasis? Bunny Pot welcomes the Space Visitors?” But I love Bunny Pot, and the form of the dishes, and silverware, and flowers and colors… I still remember, 40 years ago right after finishing CCAC, a review by Thomas Albright in the Chronicle, of a show in San Francisco featuring four of my friends whose artwork I truly loved, especially Robs: (Robert McKenna, M. Louise Stanley, Steven Andreson and Rick Allen). The reviewer remarked that though these four artists had all been to art school, they did their best to hide the fact.

I suppose you could still say the same thing of me and my work. Anyway, it's a beautiful show, and even if you're not that fond of my work, there are plenty of other artists' work -- sculpture, drawings, jewelry, photography, furniture, ceramics, and of course, paintings!

Up June 5th - 30th, 10:30am - 5pm (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) Artist's reception 2nd Saturday, June 14th, 5 - 7pm with beautiful live music and food to boot!

Odd Fellows gallery, corner of Kasten and Ukiah Streets in Mendocino. We'd love to see you there!

Nancy MacLeod, Philo

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Warmest spiritual greetings,

In response to the needs of a critical environmental campaign established by "Friends of Penobscot Bay" in Maine, I am contacting others with whom I have an established deep connectivity. Simply put, how would you like to be part of a spiritually very conscious affinity group in Maine this summer, to address the problem detailed here: The director of the local group ( is looking into getting me to Maine via bus; as I am still in New Orleans as an in-house assistant to the physically disabled anarchist Bork. Imagine spending this summer in Maine being amazing with a really tight crew of Earth First!ers, Occupiers, seasoned organizer-activist-media savvy creative geniuses just like yourself, plus all of us are established spiritually, well anchored and centered beyond any doubt. Think about it. Love, Craig

Craig Louis Stehr

Telephone messages: (504) 302-9951
Snail mail: 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114

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Kahl, King, Krisik, Mitchell, Rainville
Kahl, King, Krisik, Mitchell, Rainville

CHELSEA KAHL, Hopland. Felony embezzlement.

JUSTIN KING, Ukiah. Meth, resisting arrest.

CLAYTON KRISIK, Willits. Domestic violence.

JACOB MITCHELL, Fort Bragg. Felony cultivation.

JOAN RAINVILLE, Ukiah. Vehicular assault. DUI with priors, DUI.

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Watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn,

reading Ezra Pound,

and wishing that Juan Marichal

would hit a hole right through the

Anglo-Saxon tradition in the first Canto

and demolish the barbarian invaders.

When the San Francisco Giants take the field

and everybody stands up for the National Anthem,

with some Irish tenor's voice piped over the loudspeakers,

with all the players struck dead in their places

and the white umpires like Irish cops

in their black suits and little

black caps pressed over their hearts,

Standing straight and still

like at some funeral of a blarney bartender,

and all facing east,

as if expecting some Great White Hope

or the Founding Fathers to

appear on the horizon like 1066 or 1776.

But Willie Mays appears instead,

in the bottom of the first,

and a roar goes up as he clouts the first one into the sun and takes

off, like a footrunner from Thebes.

The ball is lost in the sun and maidens wail after him

as he keeps running through the Anglo-Saxon epic.

And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter

in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.

And the rightfield bleechers go mad with Chicanos and blacks

and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,

“Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!”

And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket

and smacks one that don't come back at all,

and flees around the bases

like he's escaping from the United Fruit Company.

As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.

And sweet Tito beats it out like he's beating out usury,

not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.

And Juan Marichal comes up,

and the Chicano bleechers go loco again,

as Juan belts the first ball out of sight,

and rounds first and keeps going

and rounds second and rounds third,

and keeps going and hits paydirt

to the roars of the grungy populace.

As some nut presses the backstage panic button

for the tape-recorded National Anthem again,

to save the situation.

But it don't stop nobody this time,

in their revolution round the loaded white bases,

in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics,

in the territorio libre of Baseball.

— Lawrence Ferlinghett

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by James Kunstler

I was in Buffalo, New York, over the weekend at the annual conclave of New Urbanists — a movement started in the 1990s to rescue American towns and cities. The scale of desolation of that city is not as spectacular or vast as Detroit’s, but the visible symptoms of the illness are the same. One of the events was a bicycle tour of Buffalo’s neglected East Side, where maybe 80 percent of the houses are gone and the few that remain stand amid spring wildflower meadows and the human density per acre appears too low even for successful drug-selling.

The old economy is gone and is replaced now by a “social services economy,” meaning government checks, SNAP cards, and purposelessness. There were zero signs of commerce there block after block, not even a place to buy potato chips. So, as it works out, the few remaining denizens of this place must spend half their waking hours journeying to a food store. How they make that journey is hard to tell. There were almost no cars anywhere nor buses to be seen. Before long surely the people will all be gone, too, ending a chapter in American urban history.

At one edge of the East Side neighborhood stood the hulking, gigantic remnants of the Larkin soap company, a haunted brick behemoth plangent with silence, ailanthus trees sprouting from the parapets and birds nesting in the gigantic, rusted ventilation fans. The administration building of this deeply paternalistic company was famously designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, completed in 1906, and demolished in 1950 — a blink of an eye. It is considered the architect’s lost masterpiece. The site became a parking lot and now is just an empty asphalt pad with mulleins and sumacs spiking up in the pavement.

At its height of success a hundred years ago, the Larkin Company provided a stupendous bounty of social support services for its 4,500 employees: a dental office at nominal prices, dedicated rooms at local hospitals, an on-premises branch of the city library, subsidized night school classes, gyms, lounges, sports clubs, a credit union, insurance plans, and more. The people could ride streetcars all over the “Electric City,” as Buffalo styled itself because of its fortunate proximity to the bonanza of hydro power from Niagara Falls.

A hundred years ago, Buffalo was widely regarded as the city of the future. The boon of electrification made it the Silicon Valley of its day. It was among the top ten US cities in population and wealth. It’s steel industry was second to Pittsburgh and for a while it was second to Detroit in cars. Now, nobody seems to know what Buffalo might become, if anything. It will be especially interesting when the suburban matrix around it enters its own inevitable cycle of abandonment.

I’m convinced that the Great Lakes region will be at the center of an internally-focused North American economy when the hallucination of oil-powered globalism dissolves. Places like Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit will have a new life, but not at the scale of the twentieth century. On this bike tour the other day, I rode awhile beside a woman who spends all her spare time photographing industrial ruins. She was serenely adamant that the world will never see anything like that era and its artifacts again. I tend to agree. We cannot grok the stupendous specialness of the past century, and certainly not the fact that it is bygone for good.

When people use the term “post-industrial” these days, they don’t really mean it, and, more mysteriously, they don’t know that they don’t mean it. They expect complex, organized, high-powered industry to still be here, only in a new form. They almost always seem to imply (or so I infer) that we can remain “modern” by moving beyond the old smoke and clanking machinery into a nirvana of computer-printed reality. I doubt that we can maintain the complex supply chains of our dwindling material resources and run all those computer operations — even if we can still manage to get some electricity from Niagara Falls.

In my forthcoming novel A History of the Future (third installment of the World Made By Hand series), two of my characters journey to Buffalo a couple of decades from now. They find a town with its back turned to abandoned monuments of the industrial age. All the action is on the Lake Erie waterfront where trade is conducted by sailing ships at the scale of Sixteenth century, but with an identifiable American gloss. I’d be surprised if one in a thousand educated people in this country (including the New Urbanists) can take that vision seriously. But do you suppose that the executives of an enterprise like the Larkin Company in 1915 would have ever imagined the desolation of Buffalo a mere 99 years later?

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by Kevin Stiles

I would like to tell you about a profession you cannot learn from a book and which no school offers courses in. In this line of work one must teach one’s own self by trial and error. The only qualifications that are required are the total lack of feelings for others, along with yourself. This makes it clear that only a few are cut out for this type of work. But these few seem to be growing in numbers each day. Many of us who choose this field do so at a young age, some even before they reach their teens.

This profession, which is fast becoming very popular, is “The Career Criminal.” This line of work is chosen for all the wrong reasons. The young are influenced by those of us who seem to be succeeding. This only fuels their goals to do the same. This list of reasons could go on forever. Each of us knows why we do what we do. It could be the need to support a drug habit or your family. This is what caused myself to turn to crime: I thought I was helping my family. The only thing wrong was I did more harm than good. During the course of trying to help my family my drug and alcohol use took a big leap. I was trying to fit in with my peers. I was also trying to hide from myself. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but it was like I could not stop myself. From where I stand I would have to say that the two main reasons are drug addiction and peer pressure. Whatever the reasons, they’re all wrong. We hate having others tell us so, and never listen until it’s too late anyway.

Once you’re into this type of work be prepared for failure. This just goes along with the job. There is no such thing as the perfect crime, nor is there a perfect criminal. Sooner or later we all get caught. If you’re lucky enough to get caught sooner rather than later, your chances of getting out of this profession are good. Now I must give you fair warning: if you make it into the State prison system, your chances are next to nothing. Once inside prison, you will be around others who have failed also. This will give you he opportunity to speak with others about your mistakes, compare ideas, and form new plans. This point in your life may be your last chance to choose between right and wrong. It’s not out of the question to turn your lifestyle around, but it does take a lot of hard work and a strong desire to do so. Many try, and many fail, finding it much easier to handle life as a criminal.

The reasons behind these failures are the lack of desire to change your lifestyle or a prison record. Having a prison record means you are labeled by society as worthless and no good. These attitudes are not helped any by what is said by the media. There are many ex-convicts who are really trying to turn their lives around but are stopped dead in their tracks because of those like “Richard Allen Davis.” The label put on us by society really begins to stand out.

Here we are fresh out of prison, full of desire to change and not many places to go. What are we to use for employment or housing references? People are nice to your face but really are scared on the inside. Who can blame them? Prison does let out some who wear their label as if it is something to be proud of. This spoils the chances for those of us really trying. Because of what some do the rest of us must suffer. One can only take having the door shut in their face for so long. Pretty soon we start losing the urge to fight, depression begins to set in this soon turns to anger towards ourselves and others. We tried, we failed! But not without putting up a fight. How can we fight something that is much stronger and wants us to lose? I remember the first time I was released from prison. I was having trouble finding work so I went to my parole officer for help. His reply was, “I am not here to help, only to put you back in prison.” At that point I knew I was fighting a system that wanted me to fail. It becomes clear to us that we are not wanted by society so the only thing to do is go right back to the life we know the best, crime. Since we did fail in our last crime maybe we should try another.

The career criminal is not limited to just one type of crime. There is a long list to choose from. Let’s say you were not so good at burglary, then you may want to try your luck at sales or maybe get into manufacturing. On this list of crimes are a few that the normal criminal never commits: rape, crimes against children, or the elderly. It’s my opinion that those who do commit these types of crimes should be kept away from society. I think almost every criminal, and even some non-criminal types would agree when I say it would give me great personal satisfaction to put a bullet into the head of anyone who commits such crimes.

There are many types of career criminals, from the ever popular thug lurking in the dark alley to the president of the local savings and loan. Both are waiting for their next victim. The white collar criminal tends to be more successful than his/her counterpart, the thug. The white collar crimes are committed on paper and computers. Even though far less dangerous than blue collar cries, some of these white collar crimes can have much more of an emotional and physical impact. It’s much easier to replace a few household items lost in a burglary compared to a life savings, your home, or both. Lost in some real estate scheme. There are many of us who would rather commit these types of crimes. Far less chance of someone shooting at you! But those of us who lack such academic skills tend to favor the good old stick-up.

Whether it’s blue or white collar crimes being committed, each criminal takes some kind of pride in their work. It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling one may get from committing what they think may be the perfect crime. From start to finish, one plans every detail, going over it in their minds again and again trying to find any flaws. Can’t have any slip ups, to fail could cost you your life! There are also the spur of the moment crimes. You see an opportunity, you quickly weigh the risks and move. Sometimes these can be the most profitable. The adrenaline is flowing, it becomes hard to breath, you break out in sweat, you’re scared, you’re confident. These feelings can be described, I have heard, and experienced, as a cross between a narcotic high to a sexual release. There are those of us who commit crimes just to experience these feelings. I really think it’s a form of addiction. To walk into a store pointing a gun; this means you’re in control. You hold life or death in your hands, people listen, people obey!

It’s my opinion that most criminals are lonely. You don’t have a wide circle of friends, most are either in prison or dead. Others may have been lucky enough to have gotten the opportunity to quit their criminal careers. Some people don’t want you around because they don’t trust you or you don’t trust them. This is why we tend to do most of our work alone.

There is no glamour or praise in this profession. Maybe your picture is in the post office, and if your name comes up, it’s most likely when a judge is issuing an arrest warrant or someone is giving your eulogy.

I really want to quit this line of work. I have gone from owning a small company to pointing guns at people. I am tired and scared. I have tried turning my life around many times. I can’t put my finger on what I am doing wrong, but I do have a few ideas. The only problem is once you’re labeled it’s hard to come back.

Each day when I step out of my cell to start a new day, I look around at all the other lost souls like myself. Do they feel the same as I? Have they tried and failed also? There are some really gifted people in prison, and I hate to think that their talents might be wasted because of a label. I know I am not alone in the fight to change. I refuse to be a part of those who give up all together, or think it’s hopeless to even try.

I want my family and freedom back so badly I often find myself crying to sleep. Once my next release date comes, I’ll go out and try to fit in with society. If I fail, and before I cause any more pain to my family and others, or cause any one in my family to shed one more tear in shame, I would rather die or spend my life behind bars. This is not giving up. I just don’t have any more fight left in me. I guess the system won. So if my family does shed any more tears they won’t come from shame but to say goodbye to someone who only wanted to quit his job.


  1. John Sakowicz June 10, 2014

    Let’s stayed reality-based for a moment, Jeff Blankford. Put aside your hysteria. Put aside your self-hating, anti-Semitic rhetoric.

    The facts.

    Bergdahl walked away from his post in a war zone and deserted.

    Deserted. Then, the U.S. Army lied about the desertion.

    Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states: “Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

    But wait: We are not in time of a real war, a declared war. This so-called “war on terror” has its own quirky rules.

    After the lies about Bergdahl’s desertion, six U.S. Army soldiers died while looking for Bergdahl and trying to rescue him.

    The Army lied about those six KIAs, too. They lied to the families of those six soldiers about how and why those men died, just as they lied to Pat Tillman’s family.

    Then, five, senior Taliban commanders, who are sworn to kill Americans, were exchanged for the deserter, Bergdahl, and, in so doing, President Obama violated the cardinal law of counterterrorism — never negotiate with terrorists.

    Also, President Obama kept the exchange secret from Congress, in violation of the law.

    Everything — every single thing — about Bergdahl reeks of scandal, reeks of betrayal, reeks of secrets and lies.

    The cherry on top of this national scandal is Bergdahl’s father, Bob Bergdahl. He praises Allah. He makes Islamic declarations. He calls for the immediate release of all Gitmo terrorists.

    I’m wondering: Did Bergdahl’s father convert to Islam?

    In the White House press conference with Obama, Bob Bergdahl said from the White House, “bismillah al-rahman al-rahim,” Arabic for, “in the name of allah the most gracious, the most merciful.” (This is not Pashtu, as FOX News Jennifer Griffin inaccurately reported. It’s Arabic. And it’s Islamic.

    Bob Bergdahl has the gall to invoke Islam and an Islamic saying that is specifically meant to declare that “Allah — the Islamic God– is the Supreme God” after so many thousands of Americans have been killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after so many tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians have been murdered by the Taliban?

    I’m also wondering: Did Bowe Bergdahl convert to Islam before he deserted?

  2. Bruce Anderson June 10, 2014

    I agree entirely with Blankfort, and am sorry to see anti-Semitism invoked in an entirely irrelevant context. We don’t know much at all about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s alleged defection and won’t know until he’s in a condition to tell us. As for his parents, especially his father, they were simply doing what any parents would do — devoting themselves to getting their son back, hence the father’s mastering the language. I’d love to see how the long distance warriors of Fox News would do as 5-year captives of the Taliban.

  3. Bill Pilgrim June 10, 2014

    Yeah… Here we go. Our adversaries are the “terrorists,” while our troops are soldiers defending our freedoms (and fossils fuel infrastructure) by invading and occupying other nations. The Taliban dudes were P.O.W.s. They became “terrorists” by defending themselves against foreign invaders.

  4. John Sakowicz June 10, 2014

    I still can’t wrap my mind around the exchange of five, senior Taliban commanders, who have already made statements about their commitment to kill Americans since their release, for one U.S. Army deserter.

    Israel keeps it simple: Never negotiate with terrorists under any circumstances.

    The argument against negotiating with terrorists is equally simple: Democracies must never give in to violence, and terrorists must never be rewarded for using it.

    Negotiations give legitimacy to terrorists and their methods and undermine actors who have pursued political change through peaceful means. Talks can destabilize the negotiating governments’ political systems, undercut international efforts to outlaw terrorism, and set a dangerous precedent.

    The takeaway: Negotiations set a dangerous precedent. Prisoner exchanges set a dangerous precedent.

    Sorry, Jeff. Sorry, Bruce. I’m with Israel on this one.

    • Bill Pilgrim June 10, 2014

      Better check your facts, Bro. Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners (terrorists in Israeli eyes) last December as part of a larger deal to release more if and when the sham “peace talks” get up and running again.
      Me’thinks you doth protest too much. Who’s the hysteric?

    • chewsome June 10, 2014

      Elsewhere online, Sako promised to lay off constructive criticism of KZYX FM radio for two weeks. So he looked around for fresh meat to go after, and at first glance this was it but looks like a misfire.

  5. Bruce Anderson June 10, 2014

    Our foreign policy couldn’t be better designed to create terrorists. And if Bergdahl were a “deserter” in any traditional sense of the term, he wouldn’t have deserted in a combat zone, and there’s no sign that he went over to the Taliban who kept him locked away for 5 years. I think he had some kind of nervous breakdown, walked off, got captured, tortured and held under tough conditions. I think he deserves sympathy, not condemnation. Besides which, we don’t know what happened until he’s in shape to tell us. After than we can accurately assess his behavior.

  6. Rick Weddle June 10, 2014

    It’s ok with me if a father invokes the name of god (in any language available) for his children. This Sack person keeps referring to Sgt. Bergdahl as a ‘deserter,’ when the real deserters here are the American public; we’ve long let our ‘leaders’ engage in war crimes around the world while we’ve looked the other way and made lame excuses, making us guilty as a group and as individuals, for dereliction, misfeasance, malfeasance, indifference, and stark stupidity. Making undeclared war (war crimes; terrorism) is bound to offend human sensibilities and make us enemies. For Sgt. Bergdahl to recognize that FACT in the dust of Afghanistan and then to walk away from it makes him a hero in my book. If you keep thinking of these conflicts as ‘wars,’ you will keep calling those who shoot back ‘terrorists,’ much like Geronimo was labeled ‘hostile’ for his version of Homeland Security. It would follow that dissent and objection would there be termed desertion, or treason, when without a formal Declaration of War, they simply ain’t.
    Making this highly profitable way of doing business seem somehow legal is what our own ‘public servants’ have actually served us…yummy…seconds, anybody?
    And please stop with making these conflicts appear as if sparked by religious or cultural or racial tensions; IT’S MONEY, VIRGINIA, the Famous and Foremost Equal Opportunity Destroyer! Lebensraum doesn’t look any better on the state of Israel-screwing-Palestine than it did on the 3d reich.
    Quite sincerely, rw

    • C.Swan June 10, 2014

      RW: I totally agree.
      It makes me wonder
      if Obama did this exchange
      in order to bring the issue
      into the public circus
      —before it’s too late
      for the public to put a stop
      to holding people captive
      at Gitmo for YEARS
      without ever charging them of a crime
      that they could defend themselves against.
      (i.e. would their defense have exposed
      the real reasons Bush sent troops?)

      The fact that the young man
      had a crisis of conscience
      and took a walk . . .

      Sack: Do you mean to say that
      if you discovered
      that you had been put
      in the line of fire . . .
      to “make the world safe for democracy”
      as you had been told . . .

      But, rather,
      to PRESERVE
      oil, mineral & opium interests
      for said “democracy”= U.S. Corporate Profits
      that you would have
      to kill, maim and injure
      In their own beds?
      On the taxpayers’ dime?


      I do not recall
      voting to empower
      the takeover
      of (any) other
      country’s resources
      —no matter who
      they choose to honor
      as their Creator.

      Wasn’t our “democracy” founded
      on the principle of
      “Freedom of Religion”?

      How do you explain
      to those of other traditions
      that “Freedom”
      is only for Your religion. . .
      one that (somehow?)
      grants (only you) authority
      to run roughshod over all others
      for whatever spurious reason
      you can concoct?

      And that’s Democracy?

      Talk about spin!

  7. Harvey Reading June 10, 2014

    We should be less worried about Bergdahl and the Taliban prisoners than about why (USan, not the likes of Carilles) war criminals walk as free persons in our society, indeed are honored. People like Bill and Hillary, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, both Bushes, Obama, their political appointees, all living members or former members of the cesspool called congress who funded their criminal activities, and all the rest should be brought to justice, in an international court. Their crimes are the real issue. Bergdahl is just another propaganda diversion to keep us confused.

  8. Jim Updegraff June 10, 2014

    In regard to Kevan Stiles about career criminals. The small fry including the white collar criminals will get caught. Where Mr. Stiles made his mistake was not getting a MBA from Harvard or similar elite university then going to work in an Wall Street investment bank. Lots of opportunity since the federal Government will seldom, if ever, brings criminal charges against the miscreants of Wall Street.

  9. John Sakowicz June 10, 2014

    Bruce, you are perhaps right in arguing about what we don’t know regarding what the United States may have gotten or may not have gotten out of the deal that swapped five top level terrorist leaders for one American soldier who was, at best, absent from his post in a war zone.

    Is Bowe Bergdahl a deserter? Soldiers who served in the same platoon with him call him a deserter, and that’s good enough for me. But you’re right. We don’t know a lot.

    Hopefully, we’ll know more in a court martial proceeding. Of course, a court-martial proceeding is simply a legal proceeding. It’s not the same as saying Bergdahl will be found guilty and sentenced, or, to use the colloquial expression, we don’t know if Bergdahl will be “court-martialed”. Bergdahl is innocent until proven guilty.

    A “court-martial” is simply a military court.

    But there’s yet another thing besides Obama making the grave error of negotiating with terrorists — previously noted in my earlier post — that has really burned my ass raw.

    It is this.

    The key to this prisoner exchange deal is less likely to be what the United States got out of the deal than it is about what Barack Obama got out of the deal.

    Yes, you read right. The key to this deal is less likely to be what the United States got out of the deal than it is about what Barack Obama got out of the deal.

    If nothing else, the deal instantly got the veterans’ hospitals scandals off the front pages of newspapers and pushed these scandals aside on television news programs.

    The veterans’ hospitals scandals were a source of national shame. But getting it forgotten was a clear winner for Barack Obama. And that may be all that matters to Barack Obama.

    Obama is a political animal, first and foremost. Obama is a spinmeister, first and foremost. Obama is attended by handler that put Henry Kissinger to shame.

    Case in point: Benghazi.

    A serious-minded National Security Council (NSC), in the tumultuous aftermath of Benghazi, would have responded with a sober assessment for its president of the real and continued terror threat, and of the failings that resulted in four dead Americans.

    Instead we find a deputy director at the NSC, Ben Rhodes, cleverly crafting an internal email advising his colleagues at the NSC to spin, spin pivot, and and blame the entire Benzahi tragedy on an Internet video, of all things. Mr. Rhodes had no interest in advising the president on hard realities. His only interest was ensuring his boss got re-elected.

    Who is Ben Rhodes? Does he have national security credentials?

    Not a chance.

    Ben Rhodes is a speechwriter.

    A speechwriter — Rhodes is the Obama campaign speechwriter, who, in 2009, was elevated to deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, because Obama’s missteps in foreign policy — including missteps by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Robert Gates and David Petraeus — posed a real threat to Obama getting re-elected in 2010.

    It is suggested in Rhodes’s own Wikipedia page that, “Mr. Rhodes lacks any meaningful foreign policy experience and background to warrant the influential position he currently holds, as a key advisor to the President.”

    The New York Times, for example, noted that, “In many ways, Mr. Rhodes is an improbable choice for a job at the heart of the national security apparatus.”

    Meanwhile, Russ Baken writing in his column on, noted that “It’s mostly just in movies where someone lacking experience or credentials is plucked from obscurity and invited to help decide the important issues of our time.”

    Back to Rhodes’s Wikipedia page: “Mr. Rhodes was described as highly under-qualified for the job and the source of some of the more amateurish thinking inside of the administration.”

    But Rhodes is good at spin. It’s the only thing he’s good at.

    And that, my friend, is what’s wrong about the prisoner exchange deal. It’s all about spin.

  10. Lazarus June 10, 2014

    One could have predicted this whole flap the moment Obama marched the parents out to the press.
    Why in the world did not the Obama people tell that guy to cut his hair, shave is beard and keep his mouth shut…..? Fox and Friends waited with baited breath as Dad spoke in Arabic. My God… were Obama’s people not aware, or just rubbing this in the faces of the fuming righties?
    With this mess, the kid is screwed, the parents are screwed, and we the people have another reason to revile one another. Poorly, arrogantly, and recklessly handled by the Administration… straight up.

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