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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

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BIG CHANGES at Anderson Valley Unified. Michelle Hutchins has been appointed Superintendent/principal, JR Collins is retiring, Elementary School Principal Donna Pierson-Pugh is also retiring. Ms. Hutchins, who came to Anderson Valley from Hayfork, has done an impressive job as high school principal and will now function as both high school principal and district superintendent. The two jobs were inexplicably made into two some years ago. (Explicable, really, but we'll take the high road here.) Collins has been working as part-time superintendent. Pierson-Pugh is the long-time principal at the Anderson Valley Elementary School.

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WEATHER OUTLOOK for Northwest California:

Rain and gusty winds can be expected along the coast later today and tonight. South and southeast winds will range from 15 to 25 mph...with locally stronger gusts to 35 mph across coastal headlands and exposed areas such as Trinidad Head and Crescent City.

--National Weather Service (4am Tue, Dec 16, 2014)

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THE ANNOTATED Board Of Supervisors announcement that the County has hired a new library chief:

“After conducting a national recruitment and review of 11 potential candidates — Mendocino County's inevitable national search for excellence — on December 9, 2014, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors announced that we found an excellent guy right here in the Ukiah library stacks. Ladies and Germs, Walter ‘Wally’ Clark is your brand new Mendocino County Library Director! Supervisor John Pinches, representing the 3rd District and current Board Chair, commented on the Board’s action, stating, “'In a national recruitment process, Wally Clark, a local candidate, rose to the top. As part of our Leadership Initiative and succession planning, we are happy to promote a current employee to the Library Director position.”

ISN'T IT AMAZING how many national quests for excellence wind up just down the goddam street? What a coincidence! And how fortunate we are to have so many excellencies in office who know a fellow excellent when they spot one!

THE PRESS RELEASE bubbled on, and we're sure Wally can handle the job which, lately, mostly consists of running the bums out of the Willits and Ukiah libraries and keeping the pervs off the computers.

BUT THESE "national searches for excellence" are very unfair to the many outside people who pony up their bona fides and even drive up to Ukiah from wherever thinking they are viable candidates for the job when the job is insider-wired and the outside applicants are simply being used to fake an open-hire process.

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On 12-14-2014, at approximately 7am a local citizen was walking his dog on the Noyo Beach in Fort Bragg when he came upon the remains of a deceased person lying on the beach near the surf.  Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff/Coroner's responded and initiated an investigation.  The decedent was found to be a male adult, estimated to be 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and 130 to 160 pounds who appeared to have been in the water for sometime and was in an advanced state of decomposition.  The decedent was wearing blue “Alfred Dunner” brand sweat pants, gray socks, and brown “Outdoor Gear” hiking boots. The decedent also has a tattoo of what appears to be the letter “S” on the back of his left hand between the thumb and index finger and also a tattoo on his right shoulder of a “heart” and a name, which is unreadable.  No identification was located and the identity of the decedent is unknown at this time.  Any persons with information which may assist in identifying the decedent are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office tip-line at (707) 234-2100.

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TRISTAN MENDEZ is the Redwood Valley kid a month past his 18th birthday who last month robbed a store in Redwood Valley at knifepoint then drove to Albion where he and his 17-year-old companion robbed the Albion Store, also at knifepoint. Mendez is the grandson of two ground floor Mendo counter-culture figures, Marilyn 'Mother Bear' Scott, and Troll Brandon. The 17-year-old is being held in Juvenile Hall, Ukiah. Tristan was initially placed in the County Jail in the Tough Guy Unit where, at barely 18 years of age and at 5'5" and 135 pounds he was easily robbed of his commissary and otherwise harshly treated. He's since been moved to what may still be called "County side," the lightweight unit where locals serve out drunk driving sentences and other mostly misdemeanors. If the lad has any brains at all he must be lamenting his abbreviated career as a thug. Unless he has a long prior as a juvenile delinquent, we hope DA Eyster will give the kid a break.

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ACCORDING TO THE STATS published by the State Department of Health Care Services, Mendocino County is, by far, the most derelict County in California in reporting the status of client mental health services, months behind in their submissions.

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ACCORDING to the indispensible Mendocinosportsplus, Animal Control was trying to corral an emu just north of Fort Bragg today. Must be quite a job because those things are fast and they're ornery.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 15, 2014

Alto, Alvarez, Arms
Alto, Alvarez, Arms

ROBERT ALTO, Ukiah. DUI, hit & run, battery on peace officer, resisting arrest.

KALISHA ALVAREZ, Ukiah, Violation of court order. (Frequent flyer.)

ROBERT ARMS, Willits. Probation revocation.

Balmain, Caradine, Foster
Balmain, Caradine, Foster

VICKI BALMAIN, Willits. Probation revocation.

DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL FOSTER, Vandalism, resisting arrest.

Murphy, Spring, Williams
Murphy, Spring, Williams

JUSTIN MURPHY, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, probation revocation.

ERIC SPRING, Ukiah. Under the influence of controlled substance, failure to appear.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

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How to explain why or how this nation’s and the world’s economies are still lurching along in defiance of all the laws of “reality” that say they shouldn’t? My vote goes for supernatural intervention by God. I know that prospect makes devout non-believers squeal louder than Cheney/Bush, Kerry/Lieberman, Obama/Biden, or even McCain/Palin ever could, but how else to explain the inexplicable? The Almighty is not extending the time that He is keeping all of us twisting in the wind out of any sense of mercy or compassion, but rather because He is on a time table which still has however long(?) to run before His wrath comes down upon all those running the rackets and their eager dupes (the rest of us!) before He brings all of this to a grand screeching halt. Sneer, mock, and guffaw if you will, but what other explanation can explain all of these strange goings on that defy all sense of “reality”...

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WE'RE KINDA LIKE A SIGNPOST, and we're also pointing to danger, to difficulty. We're pointing to bummers.

— Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, 1989

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Normal as all this sounds, there are cases of hoarding that don’t fall within the boundaries of the normal, and these are the subject of “The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture” (University of Chicago), by Scott Herring, a professor of English at Indiana University. Probably the most famous American case — Herring leads with it — is that of Homer and Langley Collyer, two brothers lived in an imposing four-story brownstone at Fifth Avenue and 128th Street, in Manhattan, in the first half of the twentieth century. The Collyers were the sons of a distinguished family. Their great-grandfather built one of the largest shipyards on the East River. Their father was a respected obstetrician. Both boys went to Columbia University, Homer receiving a degree in law, Langley in engineering. But the family had a long vein of eccentricity. The father, on days when his work called him to City Hospital, on Roosevelt Island, is said to have paddled there in his canoe and, at night, paddled back to Manhattan and carried the canoe home.

The brothers worked for a while, but gradually they stopped, and allowed their phone, gas, electricity, and water services to lapse. In time, they began ignoring their tax and mortgage bills as well. Homer eventually went blind, and developed a near-paralytic rheumatism. After that, he did not leave the house. Langley took care of him. He, too, then rarely went out except late at night, usually to find food. But what most surprised the neighbors was the amount of debris that the Collyers seemed to be accumulating. Rumors circulated that the men were rich, and had stashed a lot of money in the house. Hence there were numerous break-ins. The would-be burglars apparently found no cash but, instead, fabulous mounds of junk.

In 1947, a caller alerted the police that someone in the Collyer mansion may have died. After a day’s search, the police found the body of Homer, sitting bent over, with his head on his knees. But where was Langley? It took workers eighteen days to find him. The house contained what, in the end, was said to have been more than a hundred and seventy tons of debris. There were toys, bicycles, guns, chandeliers, tapestries, thousands of books, fourteen grand pianos, an organ, the chassis of a Model T Ford, and Dr. Collyer’s canoe. There were also passbooks for bank accounts containing more than thirty thousand dollars, in today’s money.

As Herring describes it, the rooms were packed almost to the ceilings, but the mass, like a Swiss cheese, was pierced by tunnels, which Langley had equipped with booby traps to foil burglars. It was in one of those tunnels that his corpse, partly eaten by rats, was finally discovered, only a few feet away from where Homer’s body had been found. He was apparently bringing Homer some food when he accidentally set off one of his traps and entombed himself. The medical examiner estimated that Langley had been dead for about a month. Homer seems to have died of starvation, waiting for his dinner.

— by Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

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Water used to make wine becomes issue during drought

If you have one of those “Save Water Drink Wine” bumper stickers on your car, you might want to rip it off.

And not only because the wit is so lame.

The advice is erroneous. In this time of drought, a bumper sticker urging fellow motorists to “Save Water Drink Water” makes more sense.

After all, 29 gallons of water were used to produce that glass of cabernet sauvignon you look forward to drinking with tonight’s dinner.

That, at least, is the calculation of the Water Footprint Network, a nonprofit foundation in the Netherlands that advocates for more sustainable, efficient and fair ways to use water.

Mesfin Mekonnen, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and a Water Footprint associate involved in compiling data, said via email that the 29-gallon figure was based on such factors as rainfall, irrigation and water used in cellars during winemaking.

In California vineyards and cellars, is 29 gallons of water to produce a single glass of wine a realistic estimate?

No, says Larry Williams, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis who long has studied the water needs of vineyards. For one, the Dutch calculations, says Williams, don’t consider the much higher yields of California vines compared with vines of other grape-growing regions. His research indicates that California vineyards produce two to four times as much fruit as vineyards in Europe.

“The mean yield of wine grapes in Europe ... is around 1.8 tons per acre using data I’ve gleaned from research papers,” Williams says. “The mean chardonnay yields across California are 7.4 tons per acre.”

While higher yields in California may provide more wine for the water buck, no one knows just how much water is tapped to grow grapes and make wine here, though Williams, among others, can run calculations to estimate how much water a vine will use.

Any calculation of the wine trade’s use of water involves a look at two separate but related areas of exploitation – the vineyard is one, the winery another.

Getting a handle on water use in vineyards is laborious and highly technical, notes Williams. Among other things, it requires that evapotranspiration be measured (water that passes through the vine via transpiration plus water lost from the soil via evaporation) as well as how the plot is irrigated, if it is at all. (Williams estimates that about 90 percent of California’s vineyards are irrigated, though the amount can vary greatly.)

For eight years, Williams studied the water profile and water use of a chardonnay vineyard in the Carneros district of Napa Valley. One area of the vineyard was dry-farmed; that is, no water was applied. Another area was irrigated. The dry-farmed area used 213 gallons of water per vine per season, all from the soil, while the irrigated area used 295 gallons per vine (169 gallons from the soil, 126 gallons from irrigation).

Vines of the dry-farmed portion yielded 4.9 tons per acre, while vines on the irrigated portion produced 6.3 tons per acre. The upshot was that 14.2 gallons of water was needed in the dry-farmed block to produce a typical 4-ounce pour of wine, while 15.3 gallons of water was needed in the irrigated parcel to produce a 4-ounce pour of wine, totals far lower than the figure calculated by the Water Footprint Network.

Furthermore, notes Williams, “if one considers only the applied water amount for the irrigated treatment (in the above figures), then it took ... 6.5 gallons of irrigation water in the vineyard to produce a 4-ounce pour.”

His studies in other appellations with other grape varieties have come up with similar results. In Paso Robles, the amount of water applied to a vineyard of cabernet sauvignon ranged from 105 to 376 gallons per gallon of must, the unfermented juice of freshly squeezed grapes, not quite wine but close; that works out to a range of 3.3 to 11.8 gallons of water per 4-ounce glass of wine. In the San Joaquin Valley, the amount of water applied to a merlot vineyard ranged from 185 to 455 gallons per gallon of must, or roughly between 5.8 and 14.2 gallons of water per glass.

Several factors complicate the evaluation of water use by vineyard. In addition to whether and how a vineyard is irrigated, they include the spacing of rows, the nature of the rootstock, the type of trellising, the water-retention capability of the soil, whether water is needed for frost protection, and the temperatures, sunlight and even wind speed of the area in which the vineyard is cultivated.

In El Dorado County, Fair Play grape grower John Smith, a scientist before he founded the twin wineries Oakstone and Obscurity, which he subsequently sold, has been tracking how much applied water is used by his vines and how much wine they have been yielding. He’s found that each of his cabernet sauvignon vines uses about 289 gallons of irrigated water and yields about 1.3 gallons of wine. “This translates to 58 gallons of water per 750-milliliter bottle, or 9.6 gallons per 4-ounce pour,” Smith says.

He also farms a 5-acre stand of zinfandel that is completely dry-farmed. It produces between 2 1/2 and 3 tons of grapes to the acre, compared with 4 tons for his plot of cabernet sauvignon. “It all depends on how you farm, the variety, the trellising, the rootstock, the soil, the elevation, the insolation (solar radiation), the slope … and probably some other factors,” says Smith to illustrate the challenge farmers face in calculating their water use.

He predicts that if the drought persists and competition for water intensifies, more grape growers could switch to dry farming. “If there’s no water, there’s no option,” Smith says.

As to water that vintners use in their wineries, that total is comparably small, though it also can range widely. Vintners and people who study the trade agree that 2 to 6 gallons of water customarily is used in wineries alone for every gallon of wine that is made, though that total can be as low as half a gallon and as high as 20 per gallon of wine. Much of that water is for cleaning hoses, oak barrels, fermentation tanks and the like, with the variation due to such factors as the kind and number of vessels and the frequency with which wine is moved from one tank to another.

Smith figures that he and the new owners of Oakstone Winery, Steve and Liz Ryan, use no more than half a gallon of water in the cellar to produce a gallon of wine, or 2 ounces of water per 4-ounce glass of wine. In a typical year, he adds, 2,000 gallons of water would be reclaimed from chores in the winery and then distributed in the vineyard, a not-uncommon practice in California.

Some of Smith’s winemaking neighbors also keep a close eye on their water use. At Miraflores Winery of Pleasant Valley just north of Fair Play, winemaker Marco Cappelli says that between irrigation in the vineyard and sanitation practices in the winery, he uses nearly 9,000 gallons of water for every ton of grapes grown and processed, which works out to 12.5 gallons of water per 750-milliliter bottle of wine, or about 2.5 gallons of water per glass of wine.

Overall, California vintners, mindful of intensifying demands for water generally and the rising cost to secure adequate supplies, are looking for ways to cut their use and to capture and recirculate what they use.

A focal point in that effort is the new teaching and research winery at UC Davis, where the ultimate goal is to equalize the use of water with the output of wine; in other words, 1 gallon of the former per 1 gallon of the latter. “It’s been critical to us to build a winery that uses water over and over again. That’s the way to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Roger Boulton, the UC Davis professor of winemaking who played a pivotal role in the design and construction of the campus winery.

While the winery hasn’t yet achieved the 1:1 ratio of water to wine it seeks, it is making strides, says Charles “Chik” Brenneman, the campus winemaker. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, he notes, the winery reduced its use of water from 8 liters per liter of wine to 6 1/2 liters per liter of wine.

How did they do it? Mostly by relying on a dozen water meters installed throughout the facility instead of the customary one. This single measure helped faculty, students and staff gauge just how water was being used and to take steps to trim their consumption. “It’s education,” Brenneman says. “We read the meters daily and become more conscious and more careful in our use of water.”

Some California winemakers say they are beating or close to meeting the UC Davis standard. At its Paso Robles facility, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines has cut its use of water to 1.2 gallons for each gallon of wine it makes. This savings is being accomplished via such steps as installing low-flow, high-pressure hoses for cleaning equipment, according to “Down to Earth,” a newly published Wine Institute book that surveys the sustainability programs of 15 of California’s grape growers and winemakers. (See story at left.)

So, while the claim that 29 gallons of water is needed to make a single glass of wine may apply to Europe, it doesn’t look to fit California. At the most, around 15 gallons of water per glass of wine may be realistic, and as little as 2 or 3 gallons of water per glass of wine has been obtained by some vintners.

More comforting, but you still may want to remove that silly bumper sticker.

— Mike Dunne (Courtesy, the Sacramento Bee)


  1. burnunit December 16, 2014

    A question for the writer of the Tristan Mendez blurb.

    Why should that kid be considered for “special treatment” by the DA?

    He used a knife! A knife makes a pretty good killing weapon.

    • Harvey Reading December 16, 2014

      A knife. Oh, my. Obama uses drones, Clinton and the Bushes used starvation, destruction of sanitary facilities, cruise missiles, bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorus, among other deadly weapons. Yet, they are free, and have no fear of prosecution. Give the kid a break. Why should he be scorned while the others, criminals of a much higher order, are not?

      • burnunit December 16, 2014

        Those criminals have got much better lawyers.

        • Harvey Reading December 16, 2014

          So, we should take it out on a kid, who probably cannot afford a good lawyer (and the real criminals don’t need good lawyers, because no one even considers taking action against them)? Sounds suggestive of the crowds of commoners in a monarchy, back in the “good ol’ days (desired by wingnuts of today), who would cheer when someone guilty of violating the monarch’s often arbitrary laws was executed or would throw trash at the “guilty” if pilloried.

          • burnunit December 16, 2014

            Well Harv, if you want to get into name calling, we can but I don’t think Bruce would appreciate it.
            But I don’t see anything arbitraty about pulling a knife on another citizen. And as far as the “big” criminals, you’re just tilting at windmills.
            As my old Dad used to say, “You’re as full of X$#^ as a Christmas goose”.

          • Harvey Reading December 17, 2014

            Well, rationalize it any way you choose. The fact is, your statements suggest you accept letting the big criminals off while bringing the full force of the state against an 18-year-old kid. As for your assertion of name calling, it’s unfounded. Grow up.

  2. Bruce Anderson December 16, 2014

    Youth, lack of priors, mercy.

    • Harvey Reading December 16, 2014


  3. Harvey Reading December 16, 2014

    “Sneer, mock, and guffaw if you will, but what other explanation can explain all of these strange goings on that defy all sense of “reality”…”

    Well, maybe you should sit down with someone trustworthy, who actually understands how financial matters work. A person like that might give you a reality-based, rational explanation of what is going on, as well as a pretty good estimate of how much longer those “goings on” can be expected to continue. You believers always peddle the “unknowable” influence of your imaginary magic being, which is a total cop-out. And, as an aside, believers, in my experience, are among the first to step up and swear that anti-war protestors spit on returning Vietnam war military members, even though they have not a shred of evidence for their accusations, which accusations did not start up until years after the events supposedly happened.

  4. Whyte Owen December 16, 2014

    E.L Doctorow wrote a fine novel on Homer and Langley, by that title.

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