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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Dec 1, 2014

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HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK for Northwest California...

A storm system will bring widespread rainfall beginning Monday night and continue into Tuesday night. Rain will have the potential to be heavy at times...especially in Mendocino County. Localized lowland flooding and rockslides will be possible.

—National Weather Service, Eureka, CA (4 am, Sun, Nov 30, 2014)

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THE NAVARRO RIVER finally breached its sandbar sometime around midnight, Friday, to rejoin the sea. A couple days later Mike and Annie Kalantarian took these photos.


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MOST MENDO OFFICIALS are too timid, too unwilling to risk making anyone angry to run meetings. Very few people in my, ahem, vast experience with Mendo meetings keep things moving along, too reluctant to interrupt a droning, repetitive monologue, too slow to gavel down an outpatient. The niceness of the chairperson is routinely taken advantage of by Mendo chronophages to hamstring public affairs. This naturally devolves into no one paying much attention to the meetings, fewer and fewer people attending the meetings, fewer and fewer people wanting to participate, and the meetings become nothing more than aimless gab sessions. The bureaucracy theoretically overseen by a board of directors is set adrift, but inevitably sails into the hands of an “executive director” who has realized that he/she can pretty much do whatever they want for good or ill. Whatever public business the organization may be responsible for takes a backseat to the priorities of the small group of insiders that grows out of aimless processes. As one former manager of one of these organizations once explained to us after being ousted and moving to Sonoma County: “Most of these organizations are just incestuous little groups.”

Keeping a meeting on task isn’t hard, it just requires a constantly firm hand that makes it clear to everyone that there’s only so much time and if one boor is allowed to hog the metaphorical microphone everybody else will suffer, as will, probably, the agency in question because only the self-interested will remain involved.

The only person we’ve seen run a good meeting in all our years of attending public processes was local physician Ron Gester back in the 90s at a joint meeting of the Ambulance Service and Community Services District boards to discuss joint emergency protocols. Although the meeting constantly threatened to devolve into long, detailed anecdotes and personal opinions, Gester made it clear that the meeting would not go beyond a certain time. He politely asked people to be brief, and summarize, and when they were not, he politely asked them to, “OK. Thank you.” And, “Please wrap it up. We have to get to these other items on the agenda.”

Other techniques to keep meetings from droning on too long include setting a time limit for people who are not addressing items on the agenda, asking people to ask their personal questions after the meeting, and suggesting that they put it in writing and send it in later. While it may seem nice to let one person go on and on, it’s extremely NOT nice to everyone else. (Mark Scaramella)

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I WAS ABOUT 12 when I tagged along with my father to buy one of his many $200 junkers. The old man, with his unerring instinct for a bad buy, picked out a battered Studebaker and said something like, “Well, I live on a hill so I can always push start it.” The salesman got on an inter-office phone to summon a mechanic, a black guy who instantly got the thing running. The salesman, with the conspiratorial bonhomie of the all-white 1950s, said to my father, “There goes the best mechanic in San Francisco. If he wasn't a nigger he could write his own ticket.”

DOES IT EVEN NEED saying, and please excuse the pontificating, that at this point in our country's irreconcilable history, that black people continue to suffer disproportionate mass injury and insult? It always does need saying, especially to the NPR sectors, that we live in a thoroughly oligarched-political system presiding over a deeply fractured, color-coded society more violently estranged by the day. White guys who played high school football are hired by the system to keep order in neighborhoods foreign to them, and the gap between the enforcers and the enforced grows wider and wider.

THE SHOOTING of Michael Brown by a white cop named Wilson in a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis touched off an orgy of national hypocrisy force fed by a fact-free national media. The kid was shot in the back. He had his hands up when he was shot. Eyewitnesses swore to it, swore it was a cold-blooded murder of an unarmed kid. Versions of that false trope are still circulating.

LARGELY UNMENTIONED, except by the all-white rightwing who bring it up for the wrong reasons, is the video of the “kid,” a very large kid, grabbing a handful of cigars then shoving around what looks like diminutive Pakistani shopkeeper. The kid follows up his petty strong arm theft by walking down the middle of the street with another criminally inclined young man when the white cop rolls up and says whatever he said. The kid reaches into the police wagon to slug the cop at least twice and reaches for his gun. The cop later testifies that he hadn't been carrying a taser because it's too bulky and awkward to lug around all day. Apparently, the almost all white Ferguson police command prefers guns to non-lethal options.

IF THE COP had been required to carry a taser as his first self-defense option, Brown would probably be alive and none of us would have heard another word from Ferguson, a place none of us had ever heard of in the first place. I'd say, at the usual risk of being called a racist dog-pig by white people of the MendoLib-ListServe types, that anybody of whatever ethnicity who runs up on a cop, punches him and reaches for his gun is unlikely to survive the encounter.

AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED, but now we have a young thug being memorialized in the same martyred context as Martin Luther King! Only in America!

MEANWHILE, just this weekend, a Mendo tweaker, running wild in Point Arena, had to be tazed by the cops who couldn't otherwise corral him, and we immediately see how Ferguson-ized the already demagogic media have become. The headline in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat read, “Fort Bragg Man dies after officers use Tasers.” The Chron headline also implied that the death was the cops' fault. “Man dies after being shot with stun guns.”

THE AUTOPSY is likely to sustain what was evident in the run-up to the man's death, a man with a long criminal history, not so incidentally. That is, that the guy was tweaked to the max, his heart already running at max as he raged up and down Point Arena's main street. The tasers exploded his cardio-carrying capacity, propelling the guy into eternal submission. But the dead man was responsible for his death, not the police. What were the cops supposed to do, fight him into submission? Let him do whatever until he un-cranked?

BUT SURE ENOUGH, here comes MendoLib on ListServe:

“There is another way to subdue a man or woman who has lost or is deliberately out of control. Officers are suppose to carry a heavy blanket in their vehicles for that purpose. Why don't they use it? Sounds like there were enough officers there in Point Arena to try. — Beth Bosk

“WE citizens must stop this fear driven murder - it’s already spiraled out of control. De-militarize all the police departments from national to teeny cities/towns. And do not allow returning veterans to become LEO directly but must go thru de-compression from killing being the first response. Candidates need to be re-socialized. WE also need to demand higher regular pay and a 4 year college/university degree for even applying. Standards are too low and bring in a low bar of employees over-all unfortunately. Time to stop war against US citizens by LEO’s — Officers of the Peace my ass!! WE now fear them compellingly.” — Jessie VanSant

“I would never hold my breath waiting for ‘facts’ from the DA about a case of cops killing anyone. They will always, ALWAYS justify it and find it reasonable. Three cops ought to be able to subdue one guy without resorting to shooting or electrocuting. Giving cops a license to kill anyone they say they are afraid of is what leads to situations like the one in Ferguson MO, and to the police-state which this country is becoming.” — Nick Wilson

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THERE WE ARE: Blankets, cops with college degrees and Nick Wilson sitting at his computer in Little River suggesting that the cops wrestle the guy into submission. (VanSant has a truly touching faith in the humanity of college grads, Beth Bosk in blankets, Wilson in limo lib second guessing.)

I THINK we need a Mendo List Serve Tac Squad that could be deputized and activated via phone trees to act as first responders to violent situations, one Blanket Team for each community. If the blankets and college grads are unequal to the task, well, call the cops.

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Some poor lost young man this morning thought it a good idea to rob at gunpoint our store. Details are not in but after our cashier gave out two screams it was when young Colton, Jason Hendricks' son, sprang into action with only a dude in a green Honda, as a clue. Soon Colton saw a green Honda in Mendo and a chase up Comptche Ukiah Road ended when a nearby cop was alerted and the knucklehead taken to the slammer. Colton told me this afternoon that he didn't like thieves and especially ones messing with Grandpa Doug's store.

Good work Colton,

Gary Moraga, Albion

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There has been no "official" press release from the Mendocino Sheriff on the robbery today at the Albion Store - but as usual, MSP has the "inside scoop" and although not "official," we can paint a picture of what occurred from "reliable sources." First, the suspect in the robbery at the Albion Store, if our information is correct, just turned 18 years old (this month) and is from Redwood Valley. He may have been involved in the robbery of a bakery in the Ukiah Valley as well as be connected to an alleged robbery at the Arena Theater yesterday. He may have even stayed in Albion overnight Saturday and "hit" the store on the way out of town.

The suspect entered the store and confronted the female emloyee demanding cash. He was described as "approx 5'5" male, thin build, white, in oversized dark clothes with sun glasses, hood, and cloth-masked face." He demanded "only 20's" from the clerk then fled in what was described as a "green Honda." An employee (who was out back working at the store) immediately came running when he heard the other employee scream twice. After asking for a description of the vehicle, he got in his own car and went up roads looking for the car - roads like Little River Airport Road. When he got to the "Y," he saw a woman walking and asked if she'd seen a green Honda. The answer was "no."

A trip to Little River, then into Mendocino found several "green Hondas" at various businesses but not the right ones. When leaving Mendocino, however, at the lights - there it was. A green Honda with the driver glancing nervously around (two people were in the vehicle), revving the engine, slipping the clutch like he was anxious to get out of traffic. And when the employee got behind the vehicle (whose plate ended in "696"), it took off south on Highway 1 then up Comptche-Ukiah Road. When it hit "the straights" it sped up to 90 mph in an effort to get away but had to back it down on the curves entering Comptche. The road conditions were wet & slippery. Luckily, the employee saw a Mendocino County Sheriff unit. The situation was explained, the plate number given and shortly thereafter an arrest made near the Comptche Store. Law enforcement had been looking for a "dark" green Honda, this was a "faded green" 1996-97 Honda Civic.

So that's it in a nutshell - let's see how close this is to the "official" release tomorrow. And someone deserves a HUGE RAISE at the Albion Store...

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On 11-29-14 at 2:15 PM, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were summoned to the Little Baker's Market, located at 6951 East Road in Redwood Valley for an armed robbery that had just occurred.

Upon arrival, deputies spoke with the store cashier and witnesses who indicated that a male adult entered the store, brandished a knife and demanded money. The cashier provided money from the cash register and the suspect fled the store, getting into the passenger seat of an early 1990's model Honda sedan, and fled southbound on East Road.

The suspect was described as a male adult of unknown nationality, with olive colored skin, and he was wearing a lime green jumpsuit or coveralls, a black beanie style cap, black sunglasses, black cloth over his mouth and lower face, and black cotton gloves. The suspect was approximately 5'5" tall and thin build. The driver of the car was a female with no further description.

Fortunately no persons were injured and the amount of money taken is, as of now, undetermined.

If anybody has any information regarding the robbery or possibly identity of the suspects, please contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.


On 11/30/2014 a similar incident happened at the Albion Store in Albion. Two suspects were apprehended in that incident with evidence, linking them to this robbery, was obtained from their vehicle.

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On 11-30-2014 at approximately 10:57 AM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a robbery at the Albion Store.

A young male subject reportedly walked into the store wearing dark clothing, a black beanie, black face mask, black gloves and sunglasses. A second male sat outside behind the wheel of a green Honda sedan. As the subject spoke to the female clerk, his hand was concealed in a bag alongside his hip in a position that suggested he was holding a firearm. The clerk thought she might have seen a handgun but could not be sure. He demanded money and directed the clerk to give him only the $20.00 bills. Fearing for her life, the clerk handed the suspect a stack of $20 bills she estimated to be worth about $500.00.

The suspect then ran out of the store and got into a green Honda sedan driven by an accomplice. A witness from the store was able to provide the suspect vehicle description and direction of travel. The witness said the vehicle left and headed east bound on Albion Little River Road, towards Comptche.

Deputies from the Ukiah area joined deputies from the Coast to converge on the Comptche area from several directions. They were assisted from State Park Rangers who were on duty in the area. At one point the suspect vehicle was spotted by a deputy sheriff, travelling at a high rate of speed, east bound on Comptche-Ukiah Road, approximately 4 miles west of Comptche. The deputy called out the suspect vehicle location and then turned around to attempt catch up with the vehicle. As the deputy arrived in Comptche, citizens provided information the suspect vehicle continued east on Comptche-Ukiah Road. There were other MCSO Deputies in this area but they did not meet the vehicle. A short time later the vehicle was spotted leaving a private driveway and was stopped on the Comptche-Ukiah Road near the intersection of Flynn Creek Road. It was later determined the vehicle entered the private driveway and attempted to flee on foot when the landowner confronted them. They got back into the vehicle and drove back out the driveway where deputies apprehended them.


Deputies identified the robbery suspect as eighteen year-old Tristan Mendez of Redwood Valley and the driver as a 17 year old juvenile, also of Redwood Valley. Evidence located on the suspects and in the suspects' vehicle included approximately $500 in $20 bills, a knife, a black facemask, black gloves and a black beanie. Evidence located also linked the suspects to a similar robbery, which occurred the day before, at the Little Baker's Market in Redwood Valley. Mendez and his seventeen-year-old accomplice were arrested for robbery and conspiracy.

The juvenile suspect was lodged into Juvenile Hall. Mendez was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he is held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Nov 30, 2014

Anderson, Bowers, Cabral, Deeter
Anderson, Bowers, Cabral, Deeter

TODD ANDERSON, Laytonville. Probation revocation.

DAVID BOWERS, Fort Bragg. Possession of marijuana for sale, possession of controlled substance without prescription, probation revocation.

VANESSA CABRAL, Springfield, Oregon. Driving without valid license.

BRIAN DEETER, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, court order violation, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

Genet, Heinz, Histo, Mejia
Genet, Heinz, Histo, Mejia

BRANDON GENET, Ukiah. Harboring a wanted felon.

JEFFREY HEINZ JR., Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

ANGEL HISTO, Ukiah. Violation of court order, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

JOSE MEJIA, Covelo. Ex-felon with firearm, possession of drugs while armed, prohibited person with ammuntion, possession of controlled substance.

Mendez, Moddrelle, Owings
Mendez, Moddrelle, Owings

TRISTAN MENDEZ, Redwood Valley. Robbery, conspiracy.

STACEY MODDRELLE, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

JANICE OWINGS, Fort Bragg. Public nuisance, refusing to leave private property when asked.

Pacheco-Vasquez, Ray, Sparkes, Stephens
Pacheco-Vasquez, Ray, Sparkes, Stephens

RUBEN PACHECO-VASQUEZ, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation, illegal entry.

CALVIN RAY, Willits. Battery.

JASON SPARKES, Ukiah. Domestic battery, kidnapping/detaining.

JENNY STEPHENS, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

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On October 15th the County’s Retirement/Pension Board lowered the assumed rate of return from 7.75% to 7.25% which will increase the County contribution from $14,527,000 (i.e., well over $14 million) in FY 2014/15 to a projected $18,649,000 (i.e., upward of $19 million) in FY 2015/16 (i.e., July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016). As you can see, even a small reduction in the assumed rate of return increases the annual contribution that must be paid. Each .25% reduction results in an approximate $2 million annual increase for the County and an additional contribution from the employees of about 50% of that amount.

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HERE'S TO THE FOUR HINGES of friendship: swearing, lying, stealing and drinking. When you swear, swear by your country; when you lie, lie for a pretty woman; when you steal, steal away from bad company; and when you drink, drink with me.

— Gus Melbourne

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by Emily Hobelmann

The other day, my friend Jonah Raskin told me that his friend told him: “2014 is the year of marijuana.” I believe it. Raskin got invited to the High Times 40th birthday party in NYC back in October, so he knows people who would know.

Yes, it’s 2014 and multitudes of people are trying to establish viable careers/businesses/personages in the burgeoning weed industry. And in this year of the weed, a direct path to establishing oneself as a top California outdoor grower is to win the 2014 Emerald Cup organic cannabis competition.

The deadline to enter is December 1st!

The Emerald Cup is not just an Emerald Triangle thing. Entries are accepted from all over the state — drop-off locations include dispensaries in Studio City, Arcata and South Lake Tahoe. The main event takes place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa on Dec. 13-14. The cup winner will be announced that Sunday.

Actually, the EC is comprised of four different competitions — flowers, “solvent-less” concentrates, edibles and topicals. The EC team has been accumulating entries for its various contests throughout November. Last weekend I attended a flowers judges’ meeting at Area 101 north of Laytonville. At that point (Nov. 23), the flowers judges already had almost 150 entries to evaluate.

In 2013, the EC received 260 total entries for its flowers contest. A grower from Monterey took 1st place; Sonoma County Collective took 2nd place; and a crew from Mendo took 3rd. In a Nov. 25th press release, EC organizers say they expect even more entries this year — like 300+.

Munchies for thought: It takes three ounces of weed to enter the Emerald Cup flowers contest. If the Emerald Cup receives 300 entries at three ounces apiece… That’s over 55 mixed pounds, a significant amount of weed.

Anyway, the vibe at the Nov. 23 flowers judges’ meeting was intense, electric … this in spite of the extreme stoniness of all in attendance. Samples of the 148 already received entries were set out in quart-size mason jars solely labeled with entry numbers.

Flowers are judged on looks, smell, taste and effects, and the judges were gathered ‘round, eyeing, sniffing and squeezing the herbs. They dry hit joints (What are the flavors?), then lit ‘em up and smoked ‘em down (How’s the high?).


Each joint had an entry number written at its base, and numbers were voiced as the joints made their rounds:

“I have number 77. Anyone want to try 77…?”

No takers for the joint rolled with entry number 77. Ouch.

“You gotta try this one, number 26…”

Could this be the big winner?

“Number 9. Number 9…”

Dude, stop trying to pass me joint number 9!

“Where’s 46? I can’t find number 46. Do you see 46?”

So many jars of weed…


Judges furiously scribbled notes. Bowls of vegetarian curry infiltrated the group. Cannabis leaf-adorned prayer flags circled the perimeter. Ganga smoke dominated the Area 101 atmosphere. Talk ranged from trim machines and trichomes to judges’ qualifications (egos much?) to main event strategic planning. It was big personalities doing big things.

The flowers judges took samples home with them to evaluate. They will meet again shortly after the Dec. 1 deadline to evaluate and get samples of the latest entries; then again in the days before the main event to establish the top 20.

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Here’s something new and exciting about the 2014 EC: The entries in the various Emerald Cup contests are catalogued at this CannCast website. Each entry is listed along with information including strain name, genetics, region and the name/alias of the competitor. And there is (will be?) a photo accompanying each entry. (Whoever is loading content is not caught up on adding photos, yet.)

The site enables people to scope out the competition and to vote for faves. So you can join in on judging the entries, at least in a virtual way. Right now, I see there are 219 entries in the flowers competition including “Oscar Grant Kush,” “Queen Jesus,” “Fire for Ferguson,” “Salmon Creek Big Bud,” “Ojai Thai” and “Face Plant.” And I see that cultivators/crews in the contest include “Fired Up Ranch/Bells Springs Coalition,” “DMT Caregivers,” “Mean Gene/Freeborn Selections” and “Happy Day Farms.” (Presumably, the official judges are not looking at this site.)

According to its “About” page, CannCast is “an online marketplace for dispensary buyers and cannabis providers.” The word is, CannCast is setting up to middle man for Emerald Cup entrants. From the Nov. 25th EC press release:

“As an added bonus, all the providers who enter the 2014 Emerald Cup will be given a free CannCast profile. Dispensaries will be able to connect with ultra-high grade flowers, concentrates, edibles and topicals. All of the best providers in the State will be available in one easy to access place.”

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The Emerald Cup main event is on Dec. 13-14 in Santa Rosa. Tickets for a single day are $45; weekend passes are $80. There will be a mother lode of vendors. Scheduled performers include Slightly Stoopid, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Ozomatli, Tribal Seeds and John Trudell and Medz Hawk.

Seminar and panel topics include Advanced Organic Farming Methodology and Cutting Edge Practices, Families and Cannabis, The Future of Targeted Cannabinoid Therapy and Cannabis Legalization. Confirmed speakers and panelists include Jorge Cervantes, Doug Fine, Ed Rosenthal and Jennie Stormes.

Can’t make it? KMUD Radio will be live streaming audio from the event. Look to LoCO for Emerald Cup coverage too.

A READER COMMENTS: It's ridiculous it's the “Emerald cup" — Emerald Triangle… but yet they open it to all of California. Sad to see a local event that started with good morals, become a money sucking sad competition that you, as a regular mom and pop grower can't win, because seed companies and collectives win. Having light dep in a full sun competition is unfair as well. Just sad to see the event become so commercialized. It's gotten away from the beginning point.

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The huge doll of my body 
refuses to rise.

I am the toy of women.

My mother

 would prop me up for her friends.

"Talk, talk," she would beg.

I moved my mouth 
but words did not come.

My wife took me down from the shelf.

I lay in her arms.

"We suffer 
the sickness of self," she would whisper.

And I lay there dumb.

Now my daughter 
gives me a plastic nurser
 filled with water.

"You are my real baby," she says.

Poor child!

I look into the brown 
mirrors of her eyes

and see myself

 diminishing, sinking down

to a depth she does not know is there.

Out of breath, 
I will not rise again.

MarkStrandI grow into my death.

My life is small
 and getting smaller.

The world is green.

Nothing is all.

--Mark Strand, 1934-2014

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In “We don’t see empty desks at the U. of Compensation” (SF Chronicle, Nov. 23), Debra J. Saunders says “Don’t give in to greedy academics.”

I do happen to know a few academics whom I would describe as “greedy,” but most academics are avaricious about nothing but knowledge and scholarship. The greedy crowd sucking the lifeblood out of UC these days is cadres of new administrative hires, the proliferating six-figure executive assistant vice associate titles. You can spot them all over campus.

Their uniform is a dark suit, fancy shoes, a pale blue shirt, and a tie with a blue-and-gold color scheme. They park in campus lots that many academics can’t afford to use. They are useless make-work business-school graduates and retired investment bankers. And the regents? There is not an “academic” on the whole board.

If academics really ran UC, it might look messy from a vulture capitalist’s perspective, but it would work, as it worked for years without the benefit of global capitalist university entrepreneurial partnerships. UC was No. 1 for a long time before Richard Blum and his cabal took over the board. Now it looks all downhill.

Kathryn Klar, Richmond

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To: The Residents of the Albion Little River Fire Protection District

From: The Board of Directors of the Albion Little River Fire Protection District

The Board of Directors of the Albion Little Fire Protection District would like to thank everyone in our District for their overwhelming support of Measure M. We are very proud that this Measure, which raises assessments from $40 to $75 per unit and assesses range and timber land for the first time, passed with 82.6% of voters saying "Yes!"

These are very exciting times for our District. A series of Community Forums which started in November 2013 were very well-received and brought awareness to our constituents of the many challenges that we are facing. Our recent Barbecues have been successful and our occasional Taco Stands and recycling efforts have raised our profile and given people a fun way to contribute. The number of volunteers in both our Firefighters and our Auxiliary are very high and the cohesion and spirit of the men and women who respond to emergency calls is excellent. Of course, they have been buoyed greatly by the level of support that Measure M has received. We are very proud of the job that Fire Chief Ted Williams and our volunteer Fire Fighters have been doing and believe that the Measure M vote is a show of confidence and appreciation from our District residents.

We would particularly like to thank the many citizen's who made up the Citizen's For Yes On Measure M Committee. Their dedication and commitment to this issue was very inspiring. Each person brought a variety of skills to the effort that, when put together, made for a strong and cohesive campaign.

While passage of Measure M will give us a solid base of financial support, many challenges remain. The District will not see the increased revenue until March 2016 and many tough decisions will have to be made until the increase arrives. Even after that, we face many challenges. We need major upgrades of our equipment and our facilities and our dollars will only go so far. Providing protection for 3 ridges (Little River, Albion, and Navarro) presents us with some unique issues. We are very excited about the partnerships that have formed between the District and the residents that stem from the campaign and the many other community activities we have engaged in. We will be seeking your input in our decisions as we move forward.

One measure of the strength of community lies in our ability to take care of each other in times of crisis. We look forward to being able to provide a higher level of public safety and ask that the residents of our District stay engaged with us as we move forward.


The Albion Little River Fire Protection District Board of Directors: Richard Riley, Scott Roat, Sam Levine, Chris Skyhawk, Bob Canclini

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By: Project Coyote

MENDOCINO, CA, Nov. 25, 2014 — A coalition of animal protection and conservation groups and a local Mendocino resident filed a lawsuit against Mendocino County today in the Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino, for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit challenges the county’s failure to conduct the legally-required environmental review of its $142,356 taxpayer-funded contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Wildlife Services. The contract authorizes Wildlife Services, a highly-controversial federal program, to kill hundreds of animals in the county every year, including coyotes, bears, and foxes, without assessing the ecological impact or considering alternatives.

In July 2014, the coalition — including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Project Coyote, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Animal Welfare Institute — urged the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to terminate its contract with Wildlife Services and conduct the appropriate environmental review. Last year, in response to a letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew its contract with Wildlife Services. Nearly 15 years ago, Marin County replaced its Wildlife Services contract with a nonlethal predator control program that brought a 62 percent decrease in predation at one-third of the cost.

Each year, Wildlife Services indiscriminately traps and kills millions of animals — approximately 80,000 in California — on behalf of commercial agriculture. In 2013 alone, Wildlife Services killed 4 million wild animals. Since 2000, Wildlife Services has spent approximately 1 billion taxpayer dollars to kill 1 million coyotes and other predators nationwide — despite peer-reviewed research that shows that reckless slaughter of native predators causes broad ecological destruction. Indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have also killed more than 50,000 “non-target” animals, including family pets, endangered condors, bald eagles, and millions of other birds. Studies show such mass killing negatively impacts the biodiversity of ecosystems. Though these numbers are staggering, former employees allege that Wildlife Services routinely underreports the number of animals killed and does not include indirect deaths, such as poisoning from the carcasses of animals that die from lethal sodium cyanide.

Wildlife Services has been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. Russell Files, formerly of Arizona Wildlife Services, was charged with animal cruelty for intentionally maiming his neighbor’s dog with multiple steel-jaw leghold traps, and Jamie P. Olson, formerly of Wyoming Wildlife Services, posted pictures on social media of his hunting dogs mauling coyotes caught in steel-jaw leghold traps. More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Olson’s termination and an investigation into reports of animal cruelty by Wildlife Services employees. The program’s predator control activities are currently under investigation by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General.


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by Gregory Clark

A combination of cheap transportation and enormous disparities in income across countries has inspired unprecedented numbers of people to uproot: there are now 230 million people around the world living outside the country of their birth, 46 million of them in the United States. Not surprisingly, immigration tends to flow from poor places to rich ones: in the world’s 18 richest countries, immigrants constitute 16 percent of the population. If one includes those who are descendants of recent immigrants, that percentage is significantly larger and is certain to grow, since immigrants generally have more children than domestic populations. Consider that, in 2010, 13 percent of the US population was born outside the country, yet 24 percent of those younger than 18 had foreign-born parents.

Policymakers in rich countries have tended to treat immigration as a challenge, but a surmountable one. Previous eras of mass migration produced good outcomes, for immigrants and settlement countries alike. The vast pool of immigrants that arrived in the United States prior to 1914 — a group that included Christian Arabs, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Japanese, Jews from the Russian Empire, and Scandinavians — assimilated rapidly and contributed to an economic boom. Similarly, since World War II, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have successfully absorbed large numbers of immigrants from varied countries and backgrounds.

But it would be a mistake to assume that those experiences will be repeated for all immigrants. There is reason to believe that many recent migrants to both the United States and Europe will have a much more difficult time than their predecessors. Meanwhile, the countries in which they settle are less likely to see the benefits of immigration as they experience heightened social tensions and widening social inequality. Policymakers would be wise to take those risks into account. Rather than focus on policies for integrating new immigrants, they should concentrate on avoiding selection policies that threaten to create near–permanent ethnic or religious underclasses.

How Assimilation Works

The successful assimilation of earlier immigrants is often misunderstood. It’s true that they managed to achieve equality in income, education, and wealth with native populations within one or two generations. On the basis of that experience, many have assumed that social mobility rates — the speed with which the children of families of low or high incomes, wealth, and education approach the average — are inherently rapid in modern societies, and that, as a result, any immigrant group was likely to assimilate quickly.

But recent evidence suggests that, in reality, social mobility rates are extremely low. Seven to ten generations are required before the descendants of high and low status families achieve average status. Thus in modern Sweden the descendants of the eighteenth-century nobility are still heavily overrepresented — 300 years later — among higher social status groups: doctors, attorneys, the wealthy, members of the Swedish Royal Academies. In the United Kingdom, the descendants of families who sent a son to Oxford or Cambridge around 1800 are still four times as likely to attend these universities as the average person. Social mobility rates have also been relatively impervious to government policy. They are no higher in societies like Sweden, with generous interventions in favor of the children of disadvantaged families, than in the more laissez-faire United States. For that matter, they are no higher in modern Sweden than in eighteenth-century Sweden, or medieval England.

Immigrants who quickly assimilated to their new society in countries such as the United States were often positively selected from the sending populations. The Scandinavians who settled the upper Midwest were not desperate, huddled masses but a representative selection from a literate, if poor, society. The Jews of the Russian Empire were certainly poor, but they were an educated elite within their home societies.

Immigrant groups with a low social status at the time of their arrival historically had a more difficult time integrating. Consider the experience of immigrants to the United States who had French backgrounds (as judged by French surnames). The first wave arrived in the United States during the colonial era. Their descendants are mostly concentrated near Louisiana, which was were incorporated into the United States after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and in the northeastern United States. Another group came from French Canada in the 1920s and settled in the northeastern United States. And yet, despite having lived in the United States for multiple generations, those with French backgrounds still have lower than average status in the United States. One measure of group status is the number of medical doctors per 1,000 people: according to this measure, there are still only 1.6 doctors per 1,000 people of French origin in the United States, compared to the U.S. average of 3.5.

The problems that people of French origin have experienced in the United States have nothing to do with U.S. social policy. Their co-religionists, the Irish Catholics and the Italians, experienced more overt discrimination, but assimilated fully — there are the expected 3.5 doctors per 1,000 of the population with Irish surnames. The problem instead was that the French who arrived in the United States were overwhelmingly drawn from the lower classes of Acadia and Quebec, as a result of demographic patterns and selective migration. The effects of this lower social status have persisted across generations, even amid extensive intermarriage between French populations and the descendants of other immigrant groups, including Irish, Italians, and Poles.

Static Social Status

The evidence shows that immigrant groups tend to retain the social status that they arrive with. The same goes with more recent immigrants to the United States. Due to visa restrictions, certain immigrant groups were permitted entry to the United States only if they could prove they had skills that were needed in the U.S. labor market. For example, the Africans, Chinese, Christian Arabs, Filipinos, Indians, Iranians, and Koreans who did gain entry into the United States were from the upper echelons of their home societies. And, in the United States, they enjoy significantly higher than average social status (as measured, again, by the number of doctors per 1,000 members of the group). Groups who, for various reasons, did not face the same restrictions — including the Hmong, Latinos, and Maya — entered the United States with low social status and have struggled to achieve upward mobility since. Immigration to the United States, in other words, rarely changes one’s social status.

The same pattern is echoed in Europe. In the 1960s and 1970s, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland created guest worker programs to recruit unskilled workers for basic factory jobs, often from Turkey’s poor, rural areas. Today, the children of those Turkish immigrants all perform worse on language and mathematics tests than domestic populations, which is a reliable indicator of lower social status. The lower status of their parents was thus reproduced in their new home countries.

By the same token, countries that selected elite immigrants to begin with now have high-performing immigrant classes. For example, the United Kingdom selects immigrants based more on education and skills. As a result, African, Chinese, and Indian immigrants outperform their British counterparts; although children of white British parents born between 1963 and 1975 attained on average 12.6 years of education, children of African migrants stayed in school for 15.2 years, those of Indian migrants for 14.2 years, and those of Chinese migrants for 15.1 years.

An Unprecedented Underclass

Given current patterns of immigration to the United States, Washington faces an enormous policy challenge. Two in five of all immigrants to the United States are from Mexico and Central America. Latinos now constitute 22 percent of all children in the United States; by 2050, they are expected to be 39 percent. But the social status of Latinos, even those born in the United States, is persistently low.

This perhaps shouldn't be a surprise, given that migrants from Mexico and Central America tend to be negatively selected from their home populations: they are often the people who found themselves in such desperate economic circumstances at home that they preferred to live as illegal immigrants in the United States. (Latinos constitute nearly half of the foreign born in the United States, but four in five of illegal migrants.) The effects have been dire: there can be no doubt that immigration is widening social inequality in the United States.

Consider the table below, which shows educational attainment of 25–34-year-olds in the United States in 2009. Descendants of Latino immigrants are dropping out of high school at rates far in excess of the domestic population and the descendants of other immigrant groups; similarly, the Latino population is much less likely than those other groups to complete higher education. Educational attainment in all societies is a strong predictor of future social status, and the prediction here for the Latino population is not good.


This pattern shows up even more starkly in California, where recent immigrants are more numerous than in the United States as a whole, and more diverse in terms of social status. Yet Californian policymakers have not reckoned with the consequences. There is an optimistic assumption that tinkering with social policies — such as making it easier, financially and academically, for Latinos to enter public colleges — will allow Latino education and income levels to quickly catch up with the rest of the state. But as was noted above for countries such as Sweden there is no evidence that social mobility rates can be raised by more intensive public support of disadvantaged families. Despite such support in Sweden, the children of immigrants currently perform significantly less well in educational achievement tests than the domestic population. The United States is likely to soon have the unprecedented situation of fostering a semi-permanent underclass.

If Washington hopes to solve these looming problems, it will have to take a different approach. To avoid having a substantially poorer and less educated Latino underclass for many future generations, it should be considering policies to increase the number of highly educated Latino immigrants. Latino migrants are actually a very diverse group, with many of the most highly educated people emigrating to the United States from countries in South America that lie geographically farther from the United States, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. A program to boost the number of such educated immigrants could bolster the overall social status of the Latino population in future generations, and their representation in higher-status positions in the society.

The United States seems to cherish an image of itself as a country of opportunity for all, a country that invites in the world’s tired, its poor, and its huddled masses. But the United States is not exceptional in its rates of social mobility. It can perform no special alchemy on the disadvantaged populations of any society in order to transform their life opportunities. The truth is that the American Dream was always an illusion. Blindly pursuing that dream now will only lead to a future with dire social challenges.

(Gregory Clark is a professor at UC Davis. Courtesy, Foreign Affairs magazine.)


  1. Bill Pilgrim December 1, 2014

    It wasn’t proved that Michael Brown intentionally approached Wilson’s cruiser then reached in to slug him. That’s Wilson’s line. Yes, there was a struggle, but Brown’s friend (who was right there with him) swore that Wilson had hold of Brown’s shirt and was pulling him toward the door. The struggle, he claimed, was Brown trying to free himself from Wilson’s grip. It escalated to a tragic end.
    Further, Brown’s friend testified that after being shot the first time Brown sank to his knees on the pavement, completely contradicting Wilson’s claim that Brown charged at him like a wild beast (after being shot twice by a Glock 40?)
    Your comments indicate complete acceptance of Wilson’s story (without the benefit of cross-examination.)
    The whole incident started because that cop got pissed-off at a couple of uppity black kids for not immediately respecting his “authority.”

  2. John Sakowicz December 1, 2014

    I love Mark Strand. Thank you for publishing one of his poems today. Mark Strand died yesterday at his daughter’s home from liposarcoma.

    For a brief time — all too brief — I studied with Strand at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Writing Seminars.

    Strand was a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate.

    Elaborating on his numerous honors, Strand received the Pulitzer in 1999 for “Blizzard of One”, a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Book Award nomination this fall for “Collected Poems”. He was appointed U.S. poet laureate for 1990-91, although he did not count his time in Washington among his great achievements.

    Strand lived to work. He lived to love his family and friends.

    What else mattered to Strand?

    He worshiped at the altar of culture.

    He had total command of the poetry of humor and despair — often in the same poem.

    He wrote with grace. He was an elegant man and his poetry was similarly elegant.

    Little else matter to stranded. Not prizes. Not money. Just relationships and poetry.

    On my Facebook page, in my profile, I quote one of my favorite lines from Strand. The line is where the Facebook profile asks me to say a little something about myself. I didn’t know what to write, so I quoted my old teacher, Mark Strand.

    “Wherever I am, I am what is missing.”

    It says it all.

  3. John Sakowicz December 1, 2014

    Absence, negation and death were abiding themes for Mark Strand. In a sense, he wrote his epitaph many times over, most poignantly perhaps in “The Remains,” from his 1970 collection “Darker.”


    “I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.

    I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.

    At night I turn back the clocks;

    I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

    What good does it do? The hours have done their job.

    I say my own name. I say goodbye.

    The words follow each other downwind.

    I love my wife but send her away.

    My parents rise out of their thrones

    into the milky rooms of clouds.

    How can I sing? Time tells me what I am.

    I change and I am the same.

    I empty myself of my life and my life remains.”

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