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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Oct 17, 2014

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SHELLEY HULBERT ACTON OF BOONVILLE is justly proud that it was her nephew, Steven Alvarez (Harold Hulbert’s grandson) was carrying the Army flag during the Color Guard Ceremony prior to tonight’s game. Alvarez joined the Army after graduating from Anderson Valley High School and has served in the Middle East.

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WHILE WE BASK in the inevitable prospect that Mendocino County will officially ban fracking although the likelihood of fracking here is purt near nil, we might also wonder if the people who went to such great lengths to put the fracking ban on the ballot, might also consider ballot-banning much more prevalent industrial practices such as sleep-destroying vineyard fans or drones spraying pesticides and other life-destroying substances on vineyards.

UC DAVIS, the same academic outfit that brought us the shallow-rooted vines that demand more water and pesticide applications through drip irrigation, is now seriously exploring the application of pesticides by drone. Perhaps as early as next year. “We feel the timing is right to investigate the US market,” said Steve Markofski, business planner for Yamaha who sells a commercial sized drone-helicopter called the RMAX. “We have been doing it the last couple years. We have been focusing on high-value crops, specifically grapes here in Napa.” Markovski added, “We’re quite a bit faster compared to the current method [of tractor spraying].”

UC Davis ag professor Ken Giles said that UC Davis continues to crunch data from the Napa County test flights to monitor the drones’ efficiency, productivity and spray drift. But so far there have been no red flags, especially in its safety, adding, “It’s a vehicle with potential where we know there are things we can do with it that we couldn’t do in the past — spot treatments, quick treatments, delivery of a very localized payload.” Writing in Western Farm Press, Richard Cornett of the Western Plant Health Association was positively giddy: “Imagine some day in the not too distant future utilizing 200-pound motorcycle-sized pilotless helicopters and fixed-winged aircraft to apply products to fields.”

Cornett continues, “The RMAX is equipped with one 8-liter tank on either side of the fuselage, giving it the capacity to carry slightly more than 4 gallons of liquid before having to be refilled. At full spray it can operate for about 10 to 15 minutes and cover about four to 12 acres per hour, which makes it obviously faster than a tractor. … Specific protocol for operation of unmanned aircraft could be adopted by the FAA as early as September 2015, experts estimate. If and when this happens, you can expect pest control applicators to go into the business, buy the proper equipment and then provide the service to growers. Seems like a win-win situation all around.”

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PAUL McCARTHY of the essential blog, Mendocinosportsplus, has predictably been stiffed by the Mendocino school apparatus for wanting to know the whos and the whys of the positively bizarre cancellation of Mendocino High School's homecoming football game for Yom Kippur. A school board meeting in Albion late this afternoon (Thursday, Oct 16) ignored McCarthy's request to get the homecoming cancellation on the meeting's agenda:

“As MSP predicted, we failed to get the arbitrary Mendocino High School ‘homecoming cancellation’ onto tonight's MUSD Trustee meeting agenda.

“We emailed MUSD Superintendent Jason Morse after the homecoming cancellation ‘PRIMARILY’ due to the Jewish Holiday of ‘Yom Kippur’ and objected at the time that PUBLIC school events were being cancelled (they called it postponed) because of RELIGIOUS observances and asked to make it an agenda item at the meeting.

“Fort Bragg & Potter Valley had their homecoming that weekend — and the ‘One World Festival’ which celebrates diversity was also held during the Jewish ‘high holidays.’

Nine days ago Superintendent Morse emailed back: ‘The postponement of the MHS homecoming was a site based decision that was made after taking several factors into consideration. This was not a Board decision and nor should it be. This item will not be placed on the October meeting agenda. However, as you know, you are welcome to comment on any item not on the Board agenda each meeting at 6:00 pm under the public comment section.’

“Of course, we emailed back (and never heard back): ‘If you Google “Yom Kippur” school cancellations you'll find it was a school board decision in the rest of the instances. Shouldn't there be a process in place to address event cancellations? I have a few questions I'd like you to answer (at your leisure): 1) In the MUSD one person can cancel/postpone a school event? 2.) The Catholic holiday of “Good Friday” is April 3 next year. I believe Mendocino Schools are in session. Will any school events be cancelled that day in observance of THAT religious holiday? 3) And what of the MUSD Trustee meeting scheduled on the same day as the start of Ramadan (the holiest season in the Islamic year) next June 18? Cancelled or not? It's similar & just as “holy” (for Muslims) as the Jewish Yom Kippur. 4) Could I have a list of the religious holidays that the MUSD will schedule events around? In other school districts, if it appears more than 20% of the school/teachers will be absent due to an ‘observance,’ school/events can be cancelled/rescheduled per (school board) “adopted guide lines.” The ACLU, you'll find, has weighed in on this matter. “Thanks for your time, McCarthy’

“We know they don't want to talk about this faux pas. That's while we'll bring it up in our allotted THREE minutes tonight at the meeting.

“Here is tonight's agenda: 1. 4:00 PM OPEN MEETING, CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL 1.1. Call to order and roll call; 1.2. The president will verbally identify the agenda items to be discussed during closed session as listed below; 1.3. Closed session open hearing.

“Members of the public may take this opportunity to comment on closed session agenda items per Board Policy 9322. Under the requirements of the Brown Act and open meeting laws, members of the community wishing to address an item on the closed session agenda may do so at this time. Items not on the agenda cannot be addressed at this time. A three-minute limit is set for each speaker on all items. The total time for public input on each item is limited to 20 minutes. (Government Code 54954.3)…”

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A BELATED ANNOUNCEMENT out of Sonoma County informs us that back in August “Detectives seized about $1.4 million in cash along with a trove of gold and silver pieces at a Sebastopol house where marijuana was being grown.” The discovery occurred during an August fire on Blank Road near Highway 116. Along with the cash 1,421 gold and silver pieces were confiscated and, of course, lots of devil weed whose alchemic properties converted its smoke to all that money.

THE HOME INVADERS will certainly be inspired by this one, as will layers of law enforcement who get to keep the money, assuming the raided party can't account for it.

READING the treasure story, I imagined a cranky old hippie, a ground floor pot guy from the late sixties, a self-taught biology wizard whose dope was, well, dope. Over the years the Sebastopol botanist developed a sought-after product and developed a solid customer base. He also may have become a kind of survivalist crank as indicated by the gold and silver stash as supplement to his $1.4 mil in cash. All that work…

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VINCENT A. BENEDETTI (1941 - 2014)

Vincent Amadeo ‘Vince’ Benedetti passed at the age of 73 on Oct. 8, 2014. Vincent was born in Oakland, on Sept. 11, 1941, to Amadeo and Thelma Benedetti. His soulmate (wife), Connie (France) Benedetti, preceded him in death on Jan. 26, 1999.

He is survived by his son, Anthony A. Benedetti, who resides in Minnesota, and daughter, Jennifer F. St.Onge, who lives in Michigan with her husband and three children; as well as his two sisters, Barbara Taylor of Lincoln, California, and Patricia Deselms of Pleasanton, California.

Vincent grew up in Oakland but raised his family in Dublin and Pleasanton where he enjoyed a successful career as an electrician, owning his own company called Vi-Con Electric Co. He returned to Fort Bragg in 1983 with hopes of rejuvenating the city of Fort Bragg. He served one term as a City Council member from 1998 to 2002, helping the city move from financial hardship to better prosperity.

He spent time helping his wife, Connie, with her business, Marcella's, while mastering the guitar. He could be found walking from his home along the Noyo River into town where he would read the paper while enjoying a morning cup of coffee, a donut and stimulating conversation at the Headlands. He lived with integrity.

A graveside service will be held at 11am on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 at Rose Memorial Park.

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MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: Vince Benedetti really did “live with integrity.” He lived in a modest rental cabin in view of the Coast Hospital in south Fort Bragg where, in the late 1990s, he watched the town’s bigwigs and officials closely and concluded that he should join Dan Gjerde and Michelle White to run on a reform slate of applying common sense to the small coastal town to end the culture of corruption that had set in after the town had been famously tricked into letting Dominic Affinito build his infamous “one-story-too-tall” motel on the bluffs above the mouth of the Noyo (among other things). It worked. Benedetti’s heart condition forced him to step down in 2002 after one term. Fort Bragg had enjoyed a short period of intelligent management with the Gjerde-White-Benedetti City Council before self-serving Coast-Liberals wormed their way into Fort Bragg’s power positions. But at least they had inherited a city government that was no longer dominated by Coastal development interests.

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HERE’S A SHORT EXCERPT from a series of interviews of the five candidate for the Fort Bragg City Council by the Fort Bragg Advocate-News. This particular reply was provided by candidate and former Point Arena School Superintendent Mark Iacuaniello. (Unfortunately, the Advocate-News did not publish the questions they had posed with the answers, so the entire series leaves the reader unclear about what the candidates were answering.)

Mark Iacuaniello: “As a school district superintendent, I have extensive training and experience in human resources, public policies, procedures and budgets, legal responsibilities of public agencies, goal setting and accountability reporting. In addition, in my 40 years in education, I have garnered an appreciation of and respect for diversity as well an empathy and compassion for those who are struggling. I have honed my skills at finding common ground and bringing divergent points of view to focus on central goals. I am an effective listener, an innate problem solver, and I am willing to ask and seek out solutions for difficult or uncomfortable questions.”

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This is not the same Mark Iacuaniello who testified under oath back in 2010 during the Matt Murray “fraudulent inducement” case. At that time Iacuaniello was asked: “Do you have a role in solving the problems the teachers had raised?” After a lengthy pause Iacuaniello replied, “It depends on the situation and the nature of the concerns.” After another pause, Iacuaniello added, “Maybe my job is just to be there to listen and to be available to the teachers. … I don't feel my role is to solve problems.”

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Iacuaniello’s entire series of answers to whatever the Advocate-News questions were contained the same blather and internal contradictions. As we’ve said before: This man should not be on the Fort Bragg City Council.

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To the Editor:

This letter was presented to the Ukiah City Council meeting Wednesday October 15th. After trying to shut me down because I wanted to talk about the economic and financial impacts rather than merely the environmental impacts, they graciously allowed me to continue for three solid minutes! Hear no evil still prevails at the City Council.

Dear Council-members: Re: DEIR for Talmage Road Interchange Modification

During the five-year history of the Costco Project, no local government entity has seriously considered and reported upon the economic impact of the project nor upon its financial viability. The City's purchase of 15.3 acres of land for $2.34 million under the Redevelopment Program assumed further build-out of the Redwood Industrial Park made good sense although no examination of the expected new tax revenues, nor of the prospect of significant taxes lost as a result from shuttered enterprises was ever reported to the citizens. As originally planned, the $2.34 million land acquisition would be paid back to the City by Costco and used for the Talmage Interchange project. Any addition funds for traffic improvements and the like could be obtained under the same Redevelopment Account.

The majority of taxpayers are unaware that this Redevelopment Program was merely a slush fund – a tricky way to spend 20 years of future tax revenues right now and pay them back 30 years from now at hefty interest rates. This assumed that the Town would just grow and grow at over 2% per year for the unlimited futures. Well, now things have changed: The State Legislature totally shut down this slush fund in the middle of 2013, and the City was forbidden from using the $2.34 million from the land sale to Costco for traffic improvements to funnel customers to Costco. No new sources of money have been found to finance the approximately $6.4 million needed to handle traffic problems. As if this is not enough, the City is looking at having to pay back the bonds it took out way back in 2011 for the Redevelopment Program with interest rates building towards 6%. Economic hard times are upon us and a big spurt in tax revenues is unlikely any time soon.

Will Costco bring in sufficient taxes to the City to make all of this OK? We have never, never, never seen any projections of tax revenues from Costco nor from Walmart either that would justify the City Council's extravagance. What will be the impact of stores closing due to competition from Costco? Walmart has said they expect a 20% reduction in sales. Where are all these new customers expected to flock to the new Costco to come – Lake County?

No one in City Government has been forth-coming with us. Many of us have asked for a little straight-forward accounting over the years but we have gotten no response. The City Council passes these annoying questions on to staff and staff has seldom responded in a manner that us common people can decipher. People have grown tired of this old issue but it will not go away. We will have 3 out of 5 new Council Members at year end. How about a fresh look?

James Houle, Redwood Valley

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Ardenyi, Clare, Fabyunkey, Gonzalez-Ramirez
Ardenyi, Clare, Fabyunkey, Gonzalez-Ramirez

JASON ARDENYI, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ROBERT CLARE, Santa Rosa. DUI, concealed firearm, dirk-dagger.

JESSICA FABYUNKEY, Probation revocation.

JULIAN GONZALEZ-RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Pot sales, transportation, furnishing; driving without a license, under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

Gunby, Housley, Isgro, Knight
Gunby, Housley, Isgro, Knight

TREVOR GUNBY, Ukiah. Misdemeanor defacement, resisting arrest.

WILLIAM HOUSLEY, Boonville. DUI, resisting arrest.

MATTHEW ISGRO, Tahoe City/Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, sale.

DELILAH KNIGHT, Ukiah. Burglary, receiving stolen property, possession of meth, conspiracy, probation revocation.

Kuhn, Martinez, Olmstead, Ramey, Rickel
Kuhn, Martinez, Olmstead, Ramey, Rickel

MATTHEW KUHN, Philo. Pot cultivation, processing, sale.

JUAN MARTINEZ, Ukiah. DUI causing injury.

DANIEL OLMSTEAD, Ukiah. Pot possession, sale, transport, furnish.

DONALD RAMEY, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance, failure to appear.

JON RICKEL, Ukiah. Possession of assault weapon, ex-felon with firearm, prohibited person with firearm, probation revocation.

Slaughter, Swithenbank, Wisniewski
Slaughter, Swithenbank, Wisniewski

KEVIN SLAUGHTER, Willits. Failure to appear.

ELIJAH SWITHENBANK, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth for sale, under influence of controlled substance, armed with firearm.

TODD WISNIEWSKI, Willits. Possession of assault weapon.

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SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE on his Facebook page Thursday: “We all know the ‘Willits Road’ (aka, Highway 20) is a magnet for slow-moving RVs. So a while ago the city council wrote to CalTRANS and asked, ‘Would you consider paving some additional pullouts?’ Today I met with CalTRANS staff in Eureka, and guess what? They are preparing to construct S-E-V-E-N additional paved pullouts between Willits and Fort Bragg. If the project is approved, the seven pullouts will be paved in Spring of 2016 or 2017. Thanks, CalTRANS. File this one under: It doesn't hurt to ask.”

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Please note, due to a scheduling conflict there has been a change in time and venue for the performance on Saturday, October 18th. The last performance will now be held at the Ukiah Library rather than the Coast Community Library and the time has changed from 7:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Mendocino County Library is proud to present Primal Mates, a contemporary chamber jazz duo, who will be performing “Poetry in Music, Music in Poetry” at several of the Library branches. Performances are scheduled as follows:

  • Willits Library on Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 PM
  • Round Valley Library on Friday, October 17 at 7:00 PM
  • Ukiah Library on Saturday, October 18 at 4:00 PM

Over the years, as part of their regular concert programs, the duo of Chris Lee and Colleen O'Brien have included poems that have been set to music, music that has been set to poems, and music by some well-known writers who were also accomplished composers. This concert will be devoted entirely to this genre. They will also talk about each piece and about the process of setting poetry to music.

Some of the poets included in their repertoire are Li Po, William Shakespeare, Robert Creely, Gary Snyder and e.e. cummings.

These performances are free to the public. Seating is limited.

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The Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10am-Noon at the Henny Penny Restaurant, 697 S. Orchard Ave (corner of Gobbi), Ukiah 95482. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.

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One for the History Books

by Clancy Sigal

The obits of David Greenglass, the brother in law from hell, omit the undercurrents of antisemitism and legal malfeasance in the federal trial for atomic spying of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1950s.

The dramatic cast includes: Julius and Ethel, New York Jewish communists and parents of two small boys. David Greenglass is Ethel’s brother and a loudmouth Communist. He and his wife Ruth have children. Judge Irving Kaufman, prosecutor Irving Saypol, and Roy Cohn U.S. attorney on the case: all Jewish.

J. Edgar Hoover lurks in the background supplying the prosecutors with raw files on the Rosenbergs.

The mood in the Foley Square courtroom and in the country at large is a near-panic that the Russian bear will soon attack first by deceit, all those dupes, moles and sleepers, to soften us up for Stalin’s H-bomb armageddon. American nerves are raw not least because we’re fighting a physical war with the invading Communists of North Korea and their Red Chinese “volunteers.”

Some very influential Americans, like the half mad emperor of defeated Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, whose troops face defeat on the Korean peninsula, think it a fine idea to risk a World War Three by dropping up to 50 atomic bombs on the Chinese. (Pres Truman and the Joint Chiefs don’t think so and Mac is fired.)

In this twitchy atmosphere Julius and Ethel, ineffectively represented by a Communist lawyer, face the treasonous charge that they’ve “given the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviets” and thus doom us all in the coming nuclear apocalypse.

The main witness against them is Ethel’s brother David Greenglass, a low level machinist who had stolen classified material from the Los Alamos, New Mexico A-bomb lab and given it to Julius a Soviet spy. Decades later, Greenglass recants part of his testimony that sent his sister and Julius to the electric chair, and said he’d lied or misremembered to save his own wife Ruth.

All sorts of legal crimes are committed on the way to killing the Rosenbergs.

Shrewdly, the government has chosen Jews to punish Jews in order to dodge accusations of anti-Semitism which lies just beneath the surface of the 1950s fishing expeditions. The all-Jewish cast of presiding Judge Kaufman, prosecutor Saypol and Roy Cohn in some measure may feel compelled to show that the Hebraic “enemy within” can be all-out patriotic in dangerous times. We’ll show those goyim!

Regardless of the actual facts – Julius guilty, Ethel hardly – the Foley Square trial squares neatly with the FBI and House UnAmerican committee’s Cold War death hunt for radicals, many of whom were Jews.

The trial is an absurdity. The hysterical summing up by Kaufman, who got his judgeship as a favor from Roy Cohn, knocks the defense flat. By giving the “secret” to the Soviets, Kaufman thunders, the Rosenbergs have caused the deaths of “50,000” GIs in Korea, and so on. The fix is in.

Illegally, Judge Kaufman and Roy Cohn collude to kill off the Rosenbergs in Sing Sing’s electric chair. Cohn privately and stealthily leans on Kaufman, an old family friend, for a death penalty even the FBI opposes. (Kaufman secretly negotiates with Cohn outside the courtroom on a public telephone.)

(Parenthetically, theoretical physicist Klaus Fuchs, a far more important spy, is caught by the English, confesses and serves only nine years.)

J. Edgar Hoover, tickled by Cohn’s dark skills, talent spots him to Sen. Joe MCarthy where Cohn guides McCarthy’s campaign against the US army (for harboring a leftwing dentist) and names secy of state Gen. George Marshall as a “conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”

The Rosenberg drama unfolds in a frightened America. Tally ho! The chase is on for reds, pinkos, suspect immigrants and liberals but also homosexuals and just about anyone else for the hell of it. Judge Kaufman, who claims that while in synagogue God (not Roy) told him to execute the Rosenbergs, later passes on to heaven wearing the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan. Irving Saypol, who built a career prosecuting Communists, is later indicted for bribery and perjury, charges dismissed. Roy Cohn, who crusades against gays with such venom, is – of course! – a closeted gay who died of AIDS.

Post Script: In southern California, where I live, a tiny group of us form an impromptu Rosenberg Committee independent of the Communists because we believe the Party prefers martyrs to a stout legal defense. Amazingly, at the last moment, one of our little band, a lawyer agitator named Irwin Edelman, argues for a stay of execution because the government had convicted under the wrong federal statute, a point never raised by the Rosenberg lawyers. Impressed, supreme court Justice Douglas grants a temporary stay but is outvoted by the other judges.

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.

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Join us for a family-friendly Halloween Day of Fun. This will include a mini steampunk hat-making station at 3 p.m., a Mad Hatter Tea Party at 4 p.m., Flamingo Croquet after the Tea Party and safe to children trick-or-treating from 3-7 p.m. Contact the Ukiah Library to sign-up.

This event will take place on October 31st from 3-7 p.m. at the Ukiah Library, 105 North Main Street, Ukiah.

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In a turn of the century “Only in Mendocino” tale, Dr. Joseph S. Tenn of Sonoma State University, will talk about Frank Schlesinger, (1871-1943) a noted American astronomer, who went on to become Director of the Yale University Observatory.

On Thursday October 23, 2014, at 7:30 the City of Ukiah Community Services will conclude its fall “Tours of Earth and Sky” lecture series in the Council Chamber at the 300 Seminary Drive in Ukiah.

Frank Schlesinger, (1871-1943) was a respected and well liked leader in his field. He served as president of both the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union.

Yet his first job after completing his education was in Ukiah, where he was the founding Director of the Ukiah Latitude Observatory. He supervised its construction in 1899 and served as its lone astronomer for four years. While living in Ukiah, he married Eva Hirsch and they had their only a son, Wagner.

Joseph S. Tenn taught in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State University from 1970 to 2009, where he founded the popular lecture series, “What Physicists Do.” He is an engaging speaker and has written a number of popular and historical articles about astronomy and astronomers. He currently serves as secretary-treasurer of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society and as an associate editor of the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

The talk is free to the public, sponsored by City of Ukiah Community Services and Friends of Observatory Park. For further information, contact Martin Bradley, 707-489-4607 or

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October 25th

Mendocino County locals who are interested in residential solar energy are invited to attend a Solar Open House Party in Philo on Saturday, October 25th from 3-5pm. The party will be held at the home of a customer of Mendocino Solar Service. The home is close to Highway 128 near Philo. Come meet your neighbors and see what solar has to offer! This is a casual & friendly gathering: enjoy food & beverages, take a Solar Tour & join in Q & A with Mendocino Solar Service co-owners Bruce Erickson & Maggie Watson. You may also enter a free drawing to win raffle prizes. For directions and to RSVP call John Huxsol at 937-1701 or


  1. Lazarus October 17, 2014

    Imagine that…Giants in 5. KC not so much…

  2. Martin Bradley October 24, 2020

    Greetings from the future! I hope everyone is enjoying Fall 2014. I clicked on a link in Google this evening (Saturday October 24, 2020) to look up Ukiah City Council Candidates in next week’s election and here am in October 2014! So if you are reading this, let me pass along a few things. In two years, a guy named Donald Trump is going to run for President and WIN! DANGER! Don’t believe the polls. Write up to election night, Hillary Clinton was the expected winner. Second, it’s a ways off, but in January of 2020. Buy stock in ZOOM. Trust me on this. You’ll never hear of this company until 2019. Study up on the 1918 Spanish Flu. Search Amazon for any book about “the coming pandemic”. Buy as many N95 masks and keep them. Oh, and toilet paper. There will be a run on toilet paper the first quarter of 2020. Don’t panic. It will pass. Finally, schools as we know them will begin to close in late Spring of 2020. Shut down. The end of classroom learning! Hard one to get your head around, I know. Okay, it’s been fun. Back to the future!

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