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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

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A READER WRITES: Drove to the coast Tuesday (Nov 25, 2014) and pulled over at a Highway 1 turnout to observe the mouth of the Navarro from high above. The river remains landlocked, but there is now only a thin ribbon of sand separating it from the Pacific. The tide was high while we were there and the waves lapping up around Pinnacle Rock were falling just short of reaching the river. We stayed and watched awhile, hoping to see it breach, but as the tide began to recede, just after noon, it looked like a lost cause for the day.

After last week's rains, the river is extremely high. The little road to Navarro Beach is closed, the section near the old inn deeply underwater. The entire northern half of the beach is submerged. Even half the campground is underwater. The saddest sight of all was the campground's half-submerged PortaPotty. (That can't be good.) I'm guessing this weekend's storm will finally break the sandbar down, and the Navarro will once again flow into the ocean, for awhile. I'd sure like to be there to see it happen. It could be quite a show. There is a lot of water just sitting there, ready to go.

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Scott Harris says he has now counted, measured and marked 300 Chinook salmon passing upstream at the Van Arsdale Fish Station on the upper Eel. This is expected with the increase in flows, the duration of the run there will be telling. Two years ago a record number of 3500 Chinook passed VAFS.


Patrick Higgins, Volunteer Coordinator
Eel River Recovery Project
791 Eighth Street, Suite A
Arcata, CA 95521
W 707 822-9428
C 707 223-7200

PS. The Eel River Recovery Project has completed its lower Eel River salmon dives and runs seem to be holding despite the previous years of drought. If historic records are any indication, half the Eel River Chinook come before December 1 and half after. That may be tough to discern this year because December is supposed to stay wet. Good for the fish, harder for fish watchers.

Please call if you have questions. See for more, including lots of fun videos, including hundreds of Chinook at Dos Rios on 11/9 -

PPS. Eel River Recovery Project Press Release (11/26/14)

Eel River 2014 Fall Chinook Run Starts Strong — Fish Spawning in Headwaters

The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) 2014 Eel River fall Chinook salmon monitoring dives of the lower river are complete, and this year’s run started strong. Thousands of Chinook salmon entered the Eel River in late September and October, migrated upstream on rains around Halloween, and are now spawning throughout the Eel River watershed. There is another wave of Chinook salmon coming out of the ocean with rains as we approach Thanksgiving, and ERRP will shift its efforts to an inland network of volunteers who watch salmon.

As in previous years, ERRP focused the most dive effort in pools in Fortuna at and below the River Lodge. After rains in late September lured fish from the ocean, ERRP volunteers estimated that 2467 Chinook salmon were present in three lower Eel River pools on October 11. Interestingly, smaller male or jack Chinook salmon comprised about 25% of the fish counted. These fish spend less than a year in the ocean and are an indicator that survival from the spawn of 2013-2014 was very good, despite extremely low flows during the spawning season.

As rains came and high tide cycles coincided, ERRP volunteer Dave Wagner sighted a large school of Chinook under Fernbridge on October 19, indicating another major influx. On October 20 the Van Duzen River opened and fish were reported above Carlotta then next morning. At daylight on October 21, there was a mass migration out of Fortuna’s 12th Street Pool, and dozens of individual fish could be seen rolling and moving up all day long. Rains continued until the Eel River at Scotia crested at just over 3,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) on October 26. A conservative estimate would be that 5000-10000 early run Chinook salmon disbursed upstream by that point.

This first wave of fish traveled without stopping to areas far upstream, passing spawning areas by that were heavily utilized in 2013. ERRP fish watchers in lower reaches of the main Eel, South Fork and Van Duzen rivers got a misimpression that there were few fish so far in 2014. In fact thousands of fish had moved past them and none had chosen to stop. By the first few days of November, Chinook salmon began to spawn in small numbers, with hundreds more fish holding in pools waiting for the next rains. The run was concentrated between Highway 1 at Leggett and the mouth off Ten Mile Creek on the South Fork, in the Van Duzen from Grizzly Creek to above Bridgeville, in the Middle Fork to below the Black Butte River, and in the main Eel River from Dos Rios to upstream of Outlet Creek. However, the main Eel River immediately below the Potter Valley Project had few fish all the way to Hearst, and none had jumped the ladder at Van Arsdale Dam, as of the third week of November.

ERRP Volunteer Coordinator Pat Higgins documented over 800 Chinook salmon on November 9 holding in just three pools between Outlet Creek and Dos Rios. A few dozen fish were actively spawning in this reach, but it was a small fraction of the number holding and waiting for rain.

Two weeks of dry weather then allowed the lower Eel River to clear enough for two additional organized dives. On November 12, a small ERRP dive team of six estimated that at least 500 Chinook salmon were holding in the 12th Street Pool in Fortuna along with seven green sturgeon to six feet in length. The Humboldt Redwood Company lead a dive upstream of Scotia on November 19 and the team documented just under 1000 Chinook in the four pools surveyed and another green sturgeon.

Rain from November 21-23 pushed Eel River flows to their highest since spring, and tributaries in the southern extent of the watershed also swelled. Chinook salmon migration began in Outlet and Ten Mile creeks in Mendocino County and fish are now spawning all the way to the headwaters, where cascades and waterfalls block migrations. Dives and surveys in Mendocino County are paid for in part by a grant from the Salmon Restoration Association, which sponsors the annual World’s Largest Salmon BBQ in Ft Bragg on July 4 weekend.

See for more information and call 223-7200, if you want to report on Chinook salmon migration or spawning.

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Meeting at Rose Room of History Museum, nice addition, room for about 30, plus a couple of working tables, built by AV Historical Society, used presently to facilitate Museum educational programs with Elementary School, per Bob Nimmons of the Society who let us in and locked up after us. Bob encouraged all to visit the Museum and learn about their programs.

Board present: Ric Bonner, Kathy Cox, Eric Labowitz, Maxence Weyrich, Walter Hopkins, Claudia Jiminez, Board absent: Guerrero, H.R. Collins, Staff present: Apfel, Perez, McInich, and about ten members of the public.

Report on Board governance - Cox. Move to appoint two new members to Board -- Heidi Knott and Emilio Torralies (Board was currently short of the required number--nine minimum) -- had considered several applicants, looking for people to satisfy need for diversity, community balance, expertise required -- age, ethnicity, Hoping to get pool of qualified and interested people to apply, and to also work with advisory committees (more later). Motion passed. Knott took seat at the Board table; Emilio Torrales not able to attend due to prior and regular Tuesday night conflict, but AVHC meetings will be changed to last Wednesday in month (except for Dec. which will be on the 17th to accommodate holiday schedules) so that he can participate. Thanks to Weyrich the web site now shows the dates of board members' terms. Knott appointed to a seat expiring in 2014. Eligible for reappointment in Jan. Torrales appointed to a seat expiring in 2015, eligible for reappointment then. JR Collins seat expires in 2014. Unknown if intending to continue beyond that time. Per Cox, looking for two more appointees (does this mean intent to expand number of board?) and considering Debbie Covey, Linda McClure and Clay Eubanks. Looking also for additional representative of: people with young families; members of old time families; wine industry. (I suggested they need someone with financial management expertise... Bonner said he thought he had that covered. I respectfully disagreed.)

Appointed officers: Vice Chair - Kathy Cox. Secretary - Heidi Knott.

Fred Martin presented a summary of the Concerned Citizens' Committee requests, attached. He requested it be included in the minutes. Bonner and Cox noted that several of the recommendations would be addressed at this meeting, later (regular channel for contact with Board from concerned patients; position description of new-hire executive director; development of personnel policy; review of electronic records systems. Cox said she wanted monthly report from one representative of CCC rather than many at meeting voicing separate concerns.)

The electronic record systems discussion evolved into a morass (for me) of present system for tracking patient visits/billing/records/work flow, whether compatible with other agencies; cost; whether upgrades would cost much more; training; whether assured in initial contract; whether now satisfactory; whether should wait for big new training effort vs. doing now in expectation of staff being more capable to adjust to coming new vendor-supplied system changes. Pointed to obvious need for a board member with information systems expertise, at least sufficient to recognize BS when being presented as factual report from staff or vendor. Need likely to go unsatisfied, judging from board response.

Bill Sterling reported his search committee for a new executive director had met several times during November, he is pleased with the expertise and commitment of the group; Gaile Wakeman resigned, replaced by Claudia Jiminez. The position description is now almost finished, they are working on a candidate profile, hope to have it posted soon listing responsibilities, duties, salary range, application instructions. To be posted by December 12th at various job sites. Labowitz requested they include a cut-off date for applications, pointing out that the feds expect action sooner rather than later, as we are currently out of compliance without a director. Upshot--45 days open application period, email applications acceptable.

Americorps Volunteer Brooke (last name not supplied) reviewed Phase II of the Community Assessment Survey project. Questionnaire which somewhat resembled Phase I (former director Sandy Parker's, distributed through the clinic, and by mail, and to some community groups) but was distributed to different clients at different community venues. Phases I and II and possible Phase III (ag. workers distribution) will be evaluated by Board and management to inform discussion of program needs.

Operating Officer Favi Cornejo's report: Requests were made from audience that in future acronyms and full names of individuals be included. A couple of items: apparently the complete transfer of financial authorization from former management team personnel to AVHC personnel did not occur until mid- or late Oct. but our accountant and new Financial Manager, Judy Waterman, now has full access to our accounts, including grant money, and we have finally received current payments for our major grants. And the AVHC is recruiting for a RN, there was some mention of possible contact with Stephanie Long to see if she would entertain prospect of re-employment. Remember that we are currently down one RN, and when Michelle Ambrois goes on maternity leave we will be down two.

Medical Officer Mark Apfel's report is attached. There was a long discussion of Quality Assurance, Performance Improvement, one a staff committee and one a Board committee, their interactions and roles especially in achieving the desired Patient Centered Medical Care model designation, and meeting the federal "deeming" requirements for tort claim act protection. There will be a meeting of QA and PI committees on Dec. 9.

The financial committee met to review October reports and had four areas of questions which they referred to Financial Officer Judy Waterman, but not to us. She also will review the now-completed FY 2013/14 financial audit report regarding problems. The auditor had identified to areas which need attention, one concerning the HIPPA procedures, and another concerning test for sliding scale eligibility. The Board is moving toward a format for publishing the budget for FY 14/15 (which is approved, and is operational at present, but not available for public review) and for some sort of budget vs. actual monthly report.

Walter Hopkins continues his battle with the plumbing and lighting of the clinic. He met with Steve Wood, and Jan Pallazolla to discuss some interior systems, finding happily that the heating system contract provides regular inspection and replacement of filters, and all were OK. He has scheduled a discussion with Doctor Phan Tath regarding management and repair of the dental suction and compressor devices.

Board Steps Forward

They talked several times to the HRSA project officer. (Bureau of Primary Care, Maryland, name is Charles something, no one ever identifies him by name--despite being one very important guy to us.) He is worried about our lack of an executive director and wanted details on what we are doing to rectify that, position description, recruiting, immediate efforts for interim director, plans for retention. He wants an organization chart. He wants names and addresses of all directors and their fingerprints. His tone was described as concerned at lack of compliance (no exec. dir.) but offering help and assistance. I hope that someone on the board points out to him that his insistence on our adopting a shared management model, and the resulting failure of management is what has brought us to the present situation.

More forward

They presented a draft proposal for AVHC Board Advisory Panels to engage community members with specific skills and interests to provide input in focus area for continued improvement. To meet with 1-2 directors every 2-4 months, recommendations to Board at next meeting. Focus areas: Hispanic Community, Claudia Jiminez and Mayte Guerrero; Senior Community, Eric Labowitz; Patient experience, Kathy Cox; PR and Communications, Heidi Knott and Maxence Weyrich.

Board Steps Backward

The board moved into closed session to approve several sets of minutes for meetings in October and November. So much for public records.

In general, however, it was hopeful.

— Gene Herr

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GENE HERR'S friendly take on the Health Center Board meeting is not entirely mine. (Although I certainly agree with her about the status of the clinic software and most of the other routine areas of discussion are fine and useful.)

To me, the Health Center Board meeting seemed tedious (even by Mendo standards), lame, meandering, confusing and detached from actual Clinic operations. I don’t see how they’ll be able to retain the new board members if it continues like this. (I left after about an hour and a half and they were only in the middle of the “agenda.” The actual survey/needs assessment results were of the “Duh” variety — Mexican people want a Spanish speaking doctor (which they now have), medical services are more important than non-medical services, wait times for seeing a doctor or nurse can be long… A simple printed report was all that was needed, yet they spent a confusing half-hour trying to figure out the meaning of the results. Bill Sterling, who at least is articulate, diplomatically said very little and didn’t have much to report. Then he left. His executive recruitment effort is not likely to produce results (as the board basically admitted because they immediately started talking about what they'd do if nobody responds). No one really knows how to use the clinic's fancy clinic management software — “training is needed” — and it's going to cost a lot (nobody knows exactly how much) to upgrade it (apparently different vendors have offered substantially different cost estimates) and it will have to be upgraded soon (but they don't know exactly when) and then they'll all have to be re-re-trained on the new upgraded software (including the complex-on-its-own billing module) which is much more complex than the present one. During the discussion of the need for policies and procedures Dr. Mark Apfel said that they indeed already have policies and procedures (that the Board members didn’t seem to be aware of) but they don't really follow them. There was a long, positive discussion of a “dissident channel” where employees could go to someone outside the management structure with their gripes about what's not working — which no self-respecting new manager should need, much less want. (I certainly wouldn't want to manage an operation which needed a “dissident channel.” If you can't come to the manager with your complaints about things not working, you've got the wrong manager, right off.) Nobody talked about finance or budget numbers. (As Mr. Herr notes, they need “some sort of budget vs. actual monthly report”). Nobody asked about how many patients are being seen and for what and what the near term patient load prospects are. Nobody asked how Dr. McGhan or Nurse Arbanovella are doing now that Ms. Spiller is gone. (E.g., Are they overloaded?) The board ought to just get out of the way and let the Clinic run itself, and tell Mystery Man “Charles,” the far away fed, “We're working on it.” That excuse is good for years of delay. PS. Don't go weak in the knees just because some DC bureaucrat asks a question. (—Mark Scaramella)

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TWO COMPTCHE AUTHORS will be signing their books at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino on Dec. 13 from 5 to 8pm. As part of “Shop Local” Saturday these authors suggest books make great gifts and you get to meet the authors too! Daniel Parker wrote “Cooking by Flashlights” about being a “back-to-the-land” homesteader in Comptche 40 years ago. Nature, his family, and unpredictable livestock make funny stories. Katy Tahja has written five books of local history including one this year on the 50th anniversary of the Comptche Volunteer Fire Dept. Her earlier books usually deal with railroads. Stop by and say Hi!

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Nov. 26, 2014

Anderson, Lawrence, Negus, Sakane
Anderson, Lawrence, Negus, Sakane

KEITH ANDERSON, Ukiah. Violation of County parole.

DEBORAH LAWRENCE, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

CRANSTON NEGUS, Laytonville. Probation revocation.

YUTA SAKANE, Ukiah. Vandalism, resisting arrest, failure to appear.

Schmidt, Shaw, Smith, Tikhonov
Schmidt, Shaw, Smith, Tikhonov

DEVIN SCHMIDT, Redwood Valley. DUI.

JOSHUA SHAW, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JACQUELINE SMITH, Fort Bragg. Under influence of controlled substance, possession of meth for sale.

STANSLAV TIKHONOV, San Diego. Destroying jail property.

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The Apple Farm in Philo grew a bunch of sugar sorghum for a seed crop this season but a bunch of it won't mature. We borrowed a sorghum press from Redwood Valley and it's all set up and working. I boiled off the first batch yesterday and it's delicious. But, our whole crew left for Mexico yesterday and there is still a whole field of cane. It takes about four people to press it off. If anyone is interested in coming and harvesting cane and pressing it off this week — they are more than welcome to. We have a propane evaporator pan as well and could work out a community boil. I hate to see this crop go to waste — which will happen as soon as we get a hard frost! Contact me, Sophia, if you can get a group together — 684-0028 or 894-8520.

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TWO SMALL PIGS, about 30 pounds each. We will donate them for the Holiday Dinner. Can someone keep them in their freezer? Also need someone to cook them? They're all cleaned and gutted. Would be great on a spit. — Barbara Lamb, 894-9459 —

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THANKSGIVING IS HERE and those of us lucky enough to live in Mendocino County know we have much for which to be thankful.

After last year's dry spell, we are grateful to be enjoying a "real" Autumn: Rainfall totals are inching up to normal levels, and, while water conservation is always a good idea, drought worries are starting to ease.

While some of us will bundle up for an occasional visit to the snow, living the Mendocino County dream means that's the closest we'll come to being snowed in. And we're good with that.

With this month's E-news we give thanks for the dreams we are building in our little piece of paradise.

So please read on, and be sure to check out the links we've included for you: click on any words in green text for a weblink to more info.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bruce Erickson & Maggie Watson, Co-Owners, Mendocino Solar Service

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Mendocino Solar Service Keeps Up With PACE

We're excited to report that Property Assessed Clean Energy financing is coming to all of Mendocino County in 2015 through a County partnership with Ygrene Energy.

PACE makes it possible for homeowners and business owners to more easily finance clean energy and water conservation upgrades without using a home equity loan or other traditional forms of financing.

The Fort Bragg City Council voted on October 14, 2014 to opt in to the Ygrene program, becoming the fifth and final incorporated city to opt in, and extending Ygrene PACE program eligibility to homeowners and business owners in all of Mendocino County.

Residents of the City of Fort Bragg will be able to participate in this County-wide Ygrene program when it begins, now expected in mid-2015.

But Fort Bragg residents also have another option, which is available now. Fort Bragg homeowners and business owners are now eligible to participate in the California First program for Property Assessed Clean Energy financing.

Mendocino Solar Service has been a big supporter of making PACE available to area homeowners and businesses; our staff attended the October 14 meeting and spoke in support of the program.

Now, we've taken the next step: Mendocino Solar Service has completed the required training and we're now an Enrolled Contractor with the California First PACE Program.

Mendocino Solar Service staff are now trained and ready to work with homeowners who want to access California First financing. Just call or email us today--707.937.1701 or

Financing Your Solar Dreams

Solar has finally come in to its own.

With solar panel prices at historic lows and solar energy production at historic highs, it's easy to see that solar energy has officially gone Mainstream.

Connecting with good information about solar financing is crucial for homeowners who are considering making the switch.

We're here to help: Mendocino Solar Service has prepared an up-to-date list of Solar Financing Resources, which is now available online as a PDF.

Did you know that homeowners who install a new home solar system can receive a 30% Federal Tax Credit, under a law set to expire in 2016?! There is no upper limit on the credit (the more you invest in your system, the bigger the credit). Tax credits are also available for businesses. For more information on tax credits visit the Energy Star website.

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When the bare feet of the baby beat across the grass

The little white feet nod like white flowers in the wind,

They poise and run like ripples lapping across the water;

And the sight of their white play among the grass

Is like a little robin's song, winsome,

Or as two white butterflies settle in the cup of one flower

For a moment, then away with a flutter of wings.

I long for the baby to wander hither to me

Like a wind-shadow wandering over the water,

So that she can stand on my knee

With her little bare feet in my hands,

Cool like syringa buds,

Firm and silken like pink young peony flowers.

D. H. Lawrence

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1) I honor, respect and admire those participating in the Ferguson uprising. All of them: not just those engaging in what the bien pensant have designated as acceptably “non-violent” forms of protest.

2) As I have written about here, Ferguson is unusual in having an overwhelmingly majority white city council and police force presiding over a majority black population. This imbalance is likely to be corrected sooner or later with the result that African American local officials and police will be in charge.

3) As a consequence of 2), one of the protestors’ main demands will be met, namely there will be an end to “racist” police murder. What will replace it will be black on black police murder – by definition, not “racist.” On this basis, the black misleadership class, the community and the left will be mollified.

4) We know this because of recent history in which the devastation of African American communities was almost total - the wars on drugs and crime continuing to take their toll and now compounded by their having suffered the largest loss in their aggregate wealth in their history due to the banking and foreclosure crisis. As this was presided over by an African American president and attorney general, there was almost no protest, as there will be when “black faces in high places” in Ferguson institute similarly repressive policies locally.

5) This provides the grounds for why I don’t think it’s correct to view Ferguson as within the same trajectory as OWS, as Francis Piven has remarked. While the uprising is entirely righteous, 2) suggests that it is ultimately about unfinished business of the civil rights movement, necessary but which should have been completed years ago. In contrast, OWS was, as Piven notes, “something new” and different in that it put on the agenda precisely that which was taboo during the 60s: the 1% vs. the 99%. In a word capitalism, or in two words, class struggle.

6) The behavior and expressed attitudes of the white population around Ferguson make inevitable the view expressed by a facebook commenter: “The problem is that the majority of whites are racist and class unconscious — they are essentially counter-revolutionary at the core of their existential being.”

While there is plenty of reason to assume that this is the case, a movement which takes the vast majority of the population as “essentially counter-revolutionary” and unreformable is one which is by definition incapable of uniting the majority against elite power and privilege. The new movement which OWS presaged will need to move far beyond Ferguson. In short, what Ferguson has to teach us will need to be learned and forgotten for our real work to begin.

— John Halle

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California Cannabis Voice Humboldt has blown into Eureka to sell a bill of goods. In my opinion they have never had an intention of crafting an ordinance that serves our county, but instead an intention of scooping up chips for the statewide game. Their style and their intentions are less than ethical, in my view. 

In Mendocino County a parallel effort is under way that began well before CCVH came along. It is an authentic grass roots effort and is likely to produce a genuine product. That product is very unlikely to be passed by the Mendocino Board of Supervisors but will probably be passed by the voters. CCVH officials cannot be bothered to use such a genuine process; they have bad-mouthed it and have insulted some of the principal persons involved behind their backs, according to multiple informants. 

I work with a group known as HuMMAP, the Humboldt-Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project, a group that has been active above ground for five years and that has written a draft marijuana ordinance for Humboldt County which went through a grass-roots drafting process, featuring many intense arguments and compromises that resulted in a consensus product. CCVH stepped right over our effort and I have to guess it is because they have a conflicting and hidden agenda. I for one (among others) predicted their plan would be to cut out the small grower while promoting much bigger grows. This is exactly what is happening. Is CCVH broadly inclusive? I hardly think so.

 CCVH has sold many folks a huge bill of goods. With razzle-dazzle and lots of money and some ego-hungry people they convinced many that they are here because the time is now and they will provide the answers — some other time. The drafting process is intended to get buy-in from anyone who will also let them have what they want. Most disturbing to me, they brought in Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, the person doing the most to block marijuana in Humboldt County. By getting his buy-in they hope to finesse it through our Board of Supervisors. Sundberg wants no growing in residential areas. CCVH provides for this by not dealing with anything under five acres, which allows Sundberg’s bad small-grow ordinance to stand.

 Growing in residential areas? Take the many trailer parks for example. Who lives in them? People who live in small places like trailer parks are usually folks who cannot afford better, often due to disabilities. Many are on welfare of some kind, which in our culture is pathetically little. These include the people who are least able to afford dispensary prices and yet most needful of access to quality medical marijuana. A person named Steffani told our Planning Commission that at the trailer park she owns all residents are elderly, poor, and each grows a small amount of marijuana, and they cannot afford to grow indoors. They need to grow their own marijuana for strictly personal use, and there’s a whole lot of people in this situation, we’ve seen it first-hand. Sundberg blocked them. CCVH is endorsing this ripoff of the purest intentions of Proposition 215.

 Humboldt is world-famous for its marijuana and that was due to the hippies. Hippies daringly smuggled in the best seeds from around the world and intentionally bred the best strains. For example, our hippies first developed the high cbd strains that are now being wildly sought after because of their therapeutic effects on pediatric seizures. Hippies are people with high integrity. If you are going to ripoff our marijuana you better also ripoff our values. We protect our poor. CCVH does not.

—Robert Sutherland, aka “The Man Who Walks in the Woods”

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I would appreciate it very much if people would not speak of “gov employees” with one big smear. Cops and others make six-figure base salaries for a reason, and even a Social Democrat like me sees that. Cops and others also get a necessary amount of overtime. Others, like MDs and other professionals, who also make upper-middle class salaries in the private sector, make comparable salaries in the public sector. Many of these people defer vacation leave because they simply do not have time. Then, when they retire or get laid off they are paid out all that unused time. But these are a small percentage of “gov employees.”

I worked in the public sector and understaffing is the norm I faced for 22 years. For this and other reasons it was very stressful. I am not a health care professional, but I worked in clinical trial research and never made a six-figure income. My employer, UC, admitted our salaries were below market, and the benefits, especially the pension, were compensation for that.

So I receive a monthly pension that is about 30% of my peak salary. Not the sort of thing demagogues who demonize and scapegoat public sector workers would like you to know.

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The Biggest, Most Censored Environmental Story

by Dan Bacher

You will rarely see the biggest, most explosive story in California environmental politics covered in either the mainstream media or most so-called "alternative" media.

This giant environmental scandal is the dramatically increasing power of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the oil industry in California - and how corporate "environmentalists" and state officials helped facilitate the oil industry's domination of California's politics by greenwashing the key leadership role that the WSPA president played in the creation of fake "marine protected areas" from 2004 through 2012.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a new report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, led the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. San Ramon-based Chevron finished second with a total of $15,542,565 spent on lobbying.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

The oil industry spending total from July through Sept 2014 amounts to an amazing $2.4 million/month, $78,000/day, $3,200/hour, $54/minute and $1/second!

And this doesn’t include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect “their” candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

The report documented record money spent on lobbying by the oil industry through the first 9 months of 2014. Big Oil has spent $13.6 million lobbying elected officials so far this year:
• This surpassed the prior record ($13.5 million) seen in all of 2013.
• The industry spent $1.5 million per month lobbying in 2014.
• Oil interests represented 17 percent of all lobbying in California last quarter.

The report also revealed huge increases in July-September 2014 compared to previous quarters. Big Oil made significant increases in spending in 2014 as the legislative session came to a close and as the industry intensified its anti-AB 32 campaign, as well as successfully lobbying to defeat a bill that would protect a "marine protected area" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative from offshore oil drilling.

The Western States Petroleum Association spent a record $4 million in the last three months alone, more than twice historical levels. WSPA has spent more than $7 million so far in 2014, leading all statewide lobbying by a wide margin. The group paid nearly $2.5 million to KP Public Affairs, the state’s highest paid lobbying firm, in 2013-2014.

The report also revealed that:
• Eight oil interests spent their most ever lobbying in California
• Four broke annual spending records in just 9 months.
• Phillips66 (4), Chevron (6) and Valero (9) are also all among the top ten lobbying spenders from July-Sept 2014.
• Phillips66 spent $880,000, 4 times over its recent average
• Valero spent $542,000 in 3 months - more than the prior 42 months combined.

To read the complete report, go to:

Of course, oil industry representatives don't exert their enormous influence over California politics only by spending millions on lobbying and political campaigns, but also by sitting on state and federal regulatory panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and leader of the campaign to expand offshore oil drilling and fracking in California, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" on the South Coast. She also "served" on the task forces to create the alleged "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The MLPA Initiative, funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, created so-called "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and Tribal gathering. These "marine protected areas" are good for Big Oil, polluters and corporate interests - and bad for sustainable fishermen, tribal gatherers and the public trust.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.” In addition to her "service" on the MLPA Initiative panels, Reheis- Boyd also sits on the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Federal Advisory Committee. While grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders, fishermen and advocates of democracy and transparency in government strongly opposed Reheis-Boyd's strange role as a "marine guardian," state officials, corporate "environmental" NGO representatives and MLPA advocates continually praised the process that Reheis-Boyd oversaw as "open, transparent and inclusive" when it was anything but.

Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, unlike state officials and corporate "environmentalists," said allowing a big oil industry lobbyist to serve on state and federal “marine protected area” panels is “outright WRONG.”

“How can this continue to be overlooked and allowed? Where is the public on these things? When will the public refuse to accept this outright WRONG? The Mega Corporations have loop holes to provide funding and personnel to government to run their billion dollar destructive projects through. It is so sad the public has no recourse because they are held hostage and want the two bit jobs!”

In addition to serving on state and federal regulatory panels, the oil industry has set up a network of Astroturf groups in California, Oregon and Washington to eviscerate environmental laws and fight campaigns to stop fracking, acidizing and other extreme oil extraction methods. ( )

According to Austin Jenkins of Nation Public Radio (NPR), a leaked Power Point slide shows the campaigns and coalitions that the Western States Petroleum Association has "activated" to combat what it calls "aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the West."

"A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon and California," said Jenkins. "At the center of the effort is the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento. An internal PowerPoint slide shows WSPA has 'activated' -- its word -- several “campaigns and coalitions” to respond to “aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the west.” Whether it's through spending millions on lobbying and political campaigns, serving on state and federal regulatory and advisory panels or setting up Astroturf groups, the oil industry is embarked on an unprecedented campaign to weaken environmental laws and expand fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in the West. And those who empowered the oil industry by greenwashing the role that a big oil lobbyist played in the creation of so-called "marine protected areas" in California need to be exposed for the collaborators that they are.


  1. Rick Weddle November 27, 2014

    re: John Halle on Ferguson…
    I agree 99.9%, and thank you, Mr. Halle. The current and prospective holders of High Office have gone further into War Criminal Land at home and abroad than any yet. The ‘Change to Believe In’ crowd has betrayed its Human constituency repeatedly, in spades, if you’ll pardon the expression. This judas-goat performance in abject servitude to the Fake Power Moguls, the War Merchants, the Bank Looters, and the extremely filthy rich, traditional among ‘our’ public servants, looks even worse on any Show-African-American Officers, disgusting by any fully Human measure. More than sad.
    The placards seen so frequently in Ferguson, and elsewhere across the Globe, reading, ‘No Justice No Peace’ is a clear, succinct description of the Problem and a free prescription for the Solution. So, where is the Justice? I suggest we needn’t (and shouldn’t) seek to FIND it, but move to MAKE it. It’s our Right. And if we’re inclined toward surviving all this, it’s our barest Duty.
    Let’s add to the ‘No Justice No Peace’:
    No Struggle
    No Class

  2. Bill Pilgrim November 27, 2014

    Unless people move…they cannot feel their chains.

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