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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015

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IT LONG AGO began to seem that the County of Mendocino exists to provide a comfortable retirement for its employees, especially its top employees who retire at their highest rate of pay and nice health benefits, and we won't even get into cops taking early outs on phony stress claims. But. But pension demands keep on demanding as the Supes again will discuss dipping into the County's rainy day surplus of roughly $8 million to accommodate pension requirements.

THAT SURPLUS was achieved by paring the County's workforce as the remaining workers took a ten percent pay reduction. Meanwhile, department heads fly off to Europe on fact-finding jaunts, hire more people like themselves, enjoy County-supplied cars, award themselves raises and otherwise provide bad examples of the austerity they preach for line workers.

THE DECREASE in the assumed rate of return from pension fund investments from 7.75% to 7.25% means that the County will see a $4 million increase in County contributions to the pension fund (along with a separate $2 million increase in employee contributions).

THE COUNTY'S 2014-2015 budget has an estimated $8 million reserve which, as partially mentioned, was created mostly by keeping a lid on salaries and denying service to uninsured people. If, as the County’s number crunchers repeatedly insist, the County’s revenues are “flat” (i.e., property and sales tax revenues are stagnant), the only way to build reserves back up to the $10 million target (6.35% of general fund) would be to maintain the employees’ 10% pay cut from a few years ago, continue denying services to the uninsured and reduce the amount of general fund money allocated to road repairs.

IN OTHER WORDS, whatever budget flexibility the Supes may have hoped to have by building up reserves disappears into the pension black hole. The change also means that employee take home pay will suffer another hit when the employee contributions to health and pensions go up. The employee contribution will rise an average of $2,000 per year (more for higher paid, less for lower paid). So employees who were already getting 10% less than they were in 2010 will now take something like an additional 4% cut to cover their own pensions.

THE CHANGE in the assumed rate of return is no surprise because nobody realistically expected the pension fund to generate a 7.75% annual increase from investments. Even 7.25% seems unrealistic. In a sane retirement system, pensions would be capped at around $50k so that $150k per year retired officials and cops don’t game the system and retire with $80k per year or more in annual pensions. (And even more for cops who routinely get even higher pensions by claiming “stress”-related “disability.”) Few would begrudge a $40k per year county worker their $25k per year retirement pension (and those pensions are not the ones creating the current pension deficit). But we certainly do begrudge those big “spiked” pensions that top officials have managed to wangle out of the system. However, because of long-standing laws and regulations such pension sanity (modeled after Social Security which does not permit spikes and rip-offs) is off the table.

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MERC, HERC and we're probably ferked, but the Mendocino Redwood Company's hotly disputed timber harvest plans for the Comptche-Albion areas are heating up some more. CalFire's comment line, assuming you can negotiate CalFire's nearly impenetrable website, contains, as of Monday morning, some forty objections to THP 1-14-080-Mendo, the most thorough and thoroughly damning of which is Tom Lippe's. There are so many criticisms of the plan that Mendocino Redwoods seems to have speeded up the approval process. The window on this one, Railroad Gulch, slams shut in two weeks. Get your beef in now. There hasn't been this much upset at a proposed logging project in the County since the Redwood Summer period of 1990. BTW, Chris Rowney, formerly of LP, is Mendo’s CalFire boss. This all has a major back-to-the-future feel to it.

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AS A GUY who remembers the kid down the street in an iron lung just before Dr. Salk's vaccine wiped out polio in the United States, I think parents who refuse, as a matter of uninformed principle, to immunize their children should not only not be tolerated, they should lose custody of their children. Immunization had, we all assumed, pretty much eliminated communicable disease in this country, but here come measles and who knows what else again.

AWARE that Mendocino County is teeming with radically dumbed down young people unable to effectively decode scientific fact from pure quackery, I was still surprised to learn from Michelle Hutchins, superintendent-principal of the Anderson Valley Unified School District, that there are about a dozen unvaccinated children presently enrolled at AV Elementary.

THE ED CODE, Ms. Hutchins explained, “requires that parents see a doctor who explains the risks.” Then the doctor and the irresponsible parents affix their signatures to a form that attests that the parents and the doctor have together reviewed those risks, and the child is allowed to enroll. Children must either present proof of vaccination or proof that they are willing to play disease roulette with their child, and that's the entry requirement from kindergarten to the 7th grade.

A LOT OF THINGS have gone terribly wrong in this country, but public health, until now, hasn't been one of them. It also means that people at the state level, probably to keep daily attendance revenues rolling in, have decided against the public welfare.

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PERTINENT COMMENT re proposed corporate pot grow on the Pinoleville rez: "I understand that everyone is profiting from the industry. But what gives a company in Colorado the right to come to California and grow on tribal lands and then sell that pot for profit to medical non profit dispensaries? Most of the money will end up back in Colorado. I don't even care about the grow, it's the fact that they are going to sell to clubs for profit when the rest of California technically can't. This is basically the first recreational marijuana project in California and it's being funded by companies from other states."

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 2, 2015

Amae, Brandt, Church, Costa
Amae, Brandt, Church, Costa

JONAH AMAE, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.

MARK BRANDT, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, possession, purchase or use of stun gun by person convicted of felony, transport/sell/furnish pot, mandatory supervision violation.

EUGENE CHURCH, Ukiah. Unspecified misdemeanor.

KEONI COSTA, Ukiah. Pot cultivation.

Kelsey, Knight, Marteeny
Kelsey, Knight, Marteeny

ARION KELSEY, Fort Bragg. Receipt of stolen property.

JANET KNIGHT, Redwood Valley. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, misdemeanor hit&run, battery, driving without a license, vandalism.

ELLE MARTEENY, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Maynard, Rose, Shaffer
Maynard, Rose, Shaffer

ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

JOEY ROSE, Manchester. Domestic assault.

JEFFREY SHAFFER, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

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EVER WONDER at the low bail set for apparently very bad crimes? A former cop named Matt Sheldon explains: “The arresting officer can request a bail increase by calling a judge from the jail. There is an on-call list of judges who can be contacted at any time by law enforcement. The Officer has to be able to articulate to the judge why the bail should be increased and there is a simple form to fill out that can be faxed to the judge. Most Officers don't do this. I did it quite often.”

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AS A POLITICAL PSYCHOANALYST I find the Super-bowl halftime show the best concise index of how psychotic American culture is becoming from year to year, and the 2015 version signaled a complete break from reality, a nightmare of twerking robots in a hall of mirrors, as if America had utterly surrendered its tattered soul to some rogue motherboard pulsing deep within Dr. Evil’s subterranean palace of sin. Hence it is the perfect analog for understanding otherwise incomprehensible happenings such as the USA’s role in fomenting further chaos and mayhem in Ukraine.

— James Kunstler

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by Steve Heilig

Upfront confession: I don't give a rat's ass about football.

And it was a mostly lovely Sunday outdoors, so out we went, but that "big game" was on late enough for it to become dark and colder and by the time halftime came around it was almost dark anyway, so I joined the gang and watched.

According to some headlines, I should now want to beat somebody up ("Watching Football Tied to Increased Domestic Violence", etc - old headlines, and though the research didn't quite indicate that, the popular impression persists).

But in any event, even though I am extremely passionately nonviolent unless necessary - I do! I do! I want to hurt somebody responsible for that debacle.

Here's who I'd now like to do violence upon, at least in my mind:

- Katy Perry, and her entourage and analogs and ancestors Madonna, Beyonce, etc etc etc:  For turning the most popular of musics into cheerleading, a spectacle with no redeeming musical value whether they are actually singing live or just lip-synching along to their already technologically-tweaked recordings. It all sounds like halftime cheerleader music. As for Lenny Kravitz! Sir, attempting to be Prince  without acknowledging that still doesn't play too well. And never will; it's like going to Vegas and seeing an Elvis imitator who only uses his own name. And who doesn't sound much like Elvis, either.

- The American advertising industry, for conning greedy and wealthy corporations and upstart companies, and even well-intentioned advocacy organizations, into believing that if they throw enough cash at buying a Super Bowl commercial slot, the Mad Men experts will pander to the absolute lowest standards of image, behavior, consumerist tendencies, environmentally-destroying automobile preferences, fat/diabetes-producing gluttony, tasteless (literally) all-American watered-down mass-produced beer, soft-core fantasies of women not even the 1% are likely to ever encounter in person, and an overall cumulative impression of a sinking cultural and economic ship which makes the Titanic look like a dinghy.  We're doomed.

- The NFL organization, for being so obviously attached to cash-and-only-cash that it will do anything, anything, to keep the money flowing while fans sit through horrid protracted marketing in the guise of "entertainment,", while young men claw and fight their way to the top in order to make a team where they can permanently damage their bodies and brains for a few years of glory and high pay, never to be sustained or replicated again, and for being so willfully blind to cheating and drugs and payola and likely many other scandals we have not even heard about yet that one can only watch the games with a big intentional blind spot of denial.

- The referees, for standing by helplessly and impotently while outright violence erupts, because, well, yes those young players are way too big and mean to get between, but as there are now video records of everything on the grid, the player identified who throws the first punch should automatically be disqualified for life from the game - that would stop it, but of course, fights are good for viewership so let's just slap a wrist with a single ejection and chalk it up to "passion" while hordes of young kids watch in the stadium and on TV and think, "Cool, man."

- That Richard Sherman guy, no matter how dang good he is as a player, for being such an obvious ego/megalomaniac and sporting non-Rastafarian "fashion dreads" to boot.

- Myself, for watching it, and feeling like I needed a shower even though I had only sat and shoveled chips and beer into my gullet. Like everybody else. Baseball is for brains; football is for fools.  Fooled again.  Damn good game though.

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Mendo 44th in health metrics . . .

Just found this. Add in Nevada County, comparable in population to Mendocino Co. and you still get to see the state averages on the same page. Nevada Co. is 8th of 57 counties and we are 44th on 34 different health-related metrics as well as a variety of socioeconomic and demographic information. There are 57 counties ranked for the state of California. Sources (along with links) and definitions can be found here. The Rankings are provided by the collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

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by Elaine Kalantarian

By early February, here on the north coast of California, there are signs that winter — mild as it is — is losing its grip. In the vineyards that cover much of our rural valley, rows of winter cover crops show the first haze of bloom. They form careless bands of incongruous, shaggy growth between the neat, ordered lines of hard-pruned vines. Where the vineyards end in open pasture, newborn lambs walk on tentative legs. They hang close by their mothers who munch grass a shade of impossible green, luminous in the warm afternoon sun.

At this time each year, our little corner of the world transforms into an emerald earth, a vivid reminder of how miraculous plants really are. Soaking up the increasing sunlight and nourished by winter rain, their green pigment waxes with the sun and functions as a natural solar panel that absorbs energy for alchemy: the transformation of sunlight into sugar. In the process, plants perform another feat: "inhaling" carbon dioxide and "exhaling" precious oxygen. The ewes both breathe and eat the products of their green meadows, and in turn perform their own alchemy, converting green grass into milk for their young.

Imbolc — Spring in the Belly of Winter

Imbolc (pronounced i-molk or i-molg) is the name given to a Celtic festival long celebrated at this transitional time of year. Associated with the fire goddess Brigit, it marks the awakening — or quickening — of the Earth in late winter. Quickening, which means "to spring to life," is an archaic term for making a fire burn brighter, it also refers to the stage of pregnancy when a woman first feels the stirrings of life deep within. I remember those stirrings during my own pregnancy, no more than tiny butterfly flutterings — and like the first signs of spring, easy to miss. The Irish term Imbolc derives from the older imbolg which means "in the belly," a reference to the pregnancy of the ewes and lambing season which occurs at this time of year. A similar name for this day is Oimelc, Old Irish for "ewe's milk." Imbolc is also the beautiful, earthy way in which the Irish metaphorically referred to this time of year: that "spring was in the belly of winter."

Of the seasonal turnings in the wheel of the year, Imbolc is a "cross-quarter" day: the midpoint between the previous winter solstice and the coming vernal equinox. Winter-weary, ready for change, we search, at this time of year, for signs of spring. It makes sense then that so much of the lore associated with Imbolc has to do with weather forecasting. Will spring arrive sooner or later? — a special concern for our agrarian ancestors who were watching their winter food stores disappear, while outside a thick blanket of snow still covered much of the ground. Carefully watching for signs of spring was not just a nature lover's amusement, but serious business. Timing the first plowing of the soil and spring plantings were decided according to these seasonal observations that revealed the pace at which Mother Earth was emerging from her long winter's slumber.

Groundhog Day, celebrated on February 2nd here in America, is an example of the kind of weather divination lore common at this time of year. If it is sunny on this day, the groundhog will see its shadow and be frightened back into its burrow. Winter, then, will continue on for six more weeks. A groundhog, by the way, is a woodchuck, and in the American South, it is also called by the descriptive name "whistle pig" due to its habit of whistling warnings to its burrow mates when danger approaches. Groundhog Day is a cultural "echo" of older European weather lore, in which a badger, snake, or bear functioned as the "prognosticator" rather than a groundhog. An old Scottish-Gaelic proverb explains the custom:

Thig an nathair as an toll
The serpent will come from the hole

Lá donn Brìde
On the brown Day of Bride [Brigit]

Ged robh trà troighean dhen t-sneachd
Though there should be three feet of snow

Air leac an làir.
On the flat surface of the ground.

One of my favorite stories associated with Imbolc weather lore — which explains, like the groundhog's shadow, the paradox of good weather on Imbolc being a harbinger of MORE winter — is the dark goddess Cailleach. An old-woman crone figure in Celtic folklore whose familiars were the raven and the owl, the Cailleach represents winter, its terrible stormy weather, but also the wisdom that comes with age and trying experience. Cailleach derives from the Old Irish, caillech, which means "the veiled one." According to lore, if the Cailleach is in a foul mood and intends to make the winter last a lot longer, she makes sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny so she can gather plenty of firewood. However, if Imbolc brings foul weather instead, that means the Cailleach is fast asleep in her cottage, not gathering firewood, and — happy days — winter will soon be over. On the Isle of Man, where she is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh (Gloomy Old Woman), she is considered a winter and storm spirit. According to legend, she appears on Imbolc in the form of a gigantic black raven carrying sticks in her beak.

Rising in the heavens at this time of year is another harbinger of spring, this one celestial. Close to the "Plow in the Sky" (The Big Dipper), is one of the brightest stars in the night sky, Arcturus. Known as the "Bear Keeper," Arcturus first rises over the eastern horizon in January and has signaled for thousands of years that spring is on its way. Arcturus is also associated with the Celtic Goddess Brigit who was called the "Daughter of the Bear." Imbolc, her end-of-winter festival, followed the rising of this bright, yellow-red star. As mentioned, a bear was sometimes the animal chosen as the weather prognosticator in old Europe, a choice which may reflect Arcturus's close proximity to Ursa Major. Arcturus is from the Greek Arktouros: arktos bear + ouros guard or keeper, a reference to the star's position, following the Great Bear, Ursa Major. In Greek mythology, Zeus placed Arcturus in the heavens to protect the nearby constellations. The brightest star in the constellation Boötes (the Herdsman), Arcturus is a red giant, fourth brightest star in our entire sky, many times larger than our Sun, and 37 light years away from the earth.

Brigit: Celtic Goddess, Irish Saint, Fiery Muse of Bards and Poets

Imbolc is closely associated with the Celtic-Irish fire Goddess Brigit, who was, according to Irish mythology, one of the Tuatha Dé Danann — a race of supernatural beings. Cheryl Straffon, in her book on Celtic spirituality The Earth Goddess: Celtic and Pagan Legacy of the Landscape, writes of Brigit:

"The production of food, the fertility of the land and the fecundity of Mother Nature were all key functions of Bridget, and they underlie the traditions associated with her day. The country people always regarded the advent of Feile Bride (Bride's Feast Day) as marking the end of nature's sleep during winter and her reawakening to the fresh activity of life."

As a fire goddess, Brigit's associated qualities are similar to the three astrological fire signs: Aries (self-determination, directness and the martial arts), Leo (self-expression and creativity) and Sagittarius (philosophy, high culture), for Brigit is credited as being the Goddess of activities and states of mind that are highly creative as well as psychologically lofty: wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, frank directness, and poetic eloquence. She is also considered a Goddess of craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), of healing ability and warfare.

Among Brigit's brothers were Aengus (Oengus mac ind-Og), Irish God of Love and Youth, and Bodb Derg, king of the Tuatha Dé Danann. After they were defeated in battle, the Tuatha Dé Danann were given sovereignty over subterranean Ireland. The mischievous fairy folk, the sídhe, are understood to be the diminutive form of these old Gods and Goddesses still sore about the loss of their dominion over Ireland.

According to Irish mythology, Brigit is credited as having "invented" night whistling to alert her companions, and keening while mourning for her son Ruadàn, after he was slain in battle. The act of mourning for a lost child, the fire symbolism, and the ties to the emergence of spring, all strongly connect Brigit with the Roman goddess Ceres. It was a Roman custom at the beginning of February to form processions with lighted candles in honor of Ceres, who brought perpetual winter to the world while searching for her lost daughter Persephone.

Saint Brighid of Kildare

The Goddess Brigit is revered as Saint Brighid of Kildare, the Catholic church having brought her "into the fold" through canonization as saint. Her feast day, Lá Fhéile Bríde, falls on February 1st, and is also celebrated as the first day of spring. On this day Saint Brighid is said to awaken the land, to return the light of the Sun, and marks the start of new growing season. Like her pagan goddess antecedent, Saint Brighid is associated with an eternal, sacred flame, such as the one maintained at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland. She is also associated with holy wells and springs. At Kildare and other sites throughout Celtic lands, sacred wells and springs were dedicated to her. The custom of dressing the well — tying "clooties" (a strip or piece of cloth) to an adjacent tree — is an old custom in honor of Brigit that is still in practice to this day.

Candlemas, or The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin falls on the same day as Imbolc, February 2, and marks the end of the Epiphany season, 40 days following the birth of Christ. According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth. The concept of purity and purification has long associations with the month of February. Februa, after which the month was named, was a Roman festival of ritual purification, an early version of spring cleaning. According to Ovid, the Latin, Februare, means purification through washing or rinsing with water and stems from an earlier Etruscan word that means purging. Interestingly, the Latin word for fever, febris, stems from the same root and also associated with purification and purging, due to the sweating commonly seen with fevers.

Special woven crosses are associated with Saint Brighid and are traditionally made on February 1st, the day of her liturgical celebration. Many folk rituals are associated with the making of the crosses, among which is the belief that the crosses protect one's home from fire and evil. They are hung in the kitchen, by the door, and from rafters for this purpose. Made by weaving rushes or straw, they contain a characteristic square center from which four radial arms extend out. The cross is a symbolic cousin to the older pagan Sun Wheels that represent the seasonal turnings of the solar year. The crosses also represent the weaving of fate, and evoke the Greek Moirae, weavers of destiny who controlled the "thread" of life.

In my own garden here at Imbolc, new swellings on the branches of the plum tree mark where clusters of white blossoms will soon open, and the green tips of the daffodils are pushing up out of the ground among what remains of last year's yarrow. Each year they remind me of that autumn day, years ago now, when my daughter, a happy little three year old, and I planted those bulbs together. We have a special relationship with these flowers: planted on my birthday in late autumn, they bloom every year for her birthday in early spring.

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SANDRA MENDELSOHN RUBIN our Guggenheim-certified, Boonville-based landscape painter will be featured, 18 February – 28 March, at LA's Louver Gallery (Venice). "Painting from life, particularly landscape painting, has been central to Rubin’s practice since the 1980s. In this new series of paintings created over the past three years…

Following the River” (2013-14) portrays the Navarro River from above – its sinuous path carefully follows each bend of the landscape, while a nearby road cuts through without discretion.


Also seen from above, “Irrigation Pond” (2013) features segmented sections of farmland with two ponds glistening like inlaid jewels amongst the fields. A slender panorama brings the viewer down to ground level in “Aqueduct at Quail Lake” (2015). In this scene, a small figure is silhouetted against a vast accumulation of water amidst dry, arid terrain.” And so on, but you can see for yourself how good she is by simply googling her name.

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THE YOUNG MAN had been at work during the day

clearing land about their home:

it was a small, one-story log house

reached by a bypath from the road,

among some small jack pine and scrub oak brush

The house was lighted by two small windows:

one on the north and one to the east.


His wife — a young woman of sixteen

who had been engaged to be married to a neighbor,

a man of sixty,

before she married Peter —

lighted the lamp

and spread a light meal on the table —

bread and milk. The meal over,

Peter took his accordion from the shelf


and sitting right opposite the window to the east

played 'Home, Sweet Home'.

He had just finished playing it

when a shot was fired from the outside.

Several buckshot pierced his head

and death was so sudden

he still sat upright in his chair

with the accordion in his hands.

—Charles Reznikoff

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In Sister Magdalena’s fourth grade classroom, the subject of the day was the meaning of Easter. The nun-teacher decided to quiz her students.

“Peter, what is the meaning of Easter?”

“Sister, on Easter Eve Santa comes and leaves presents under the Easter tree.”

“No, no, no! Peter is confusing Easter with Christmas.”

“Mary, can you tell us the meaning of Easter?”

“Yes, Sister. On Easter we dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for sweets.”

“Goodness gracious! Mary is confusing Easter with Halloween. Mark, can you please, please tell us the meaning of Easter?”

“Yes, Sister. According to 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, Jesus died in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

“Excellent, Mark, excellent. Your answer is perfect. I’m proud of you."

“Thank you, Sister. Then Jesus saw his own shadow, ran back into the tomb, and they had two more months of winter.”

— Louis Bedrock

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NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) will accept comments on the proposed approval of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (North Coast Water Board’s) amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region that would establish a Policy for region-wide implementation of the water quality objectives for temperature and establish action plans to address temperature impairments in the Mattole, Navarro, and Eel River watersheds. The Basin Plan amendment was adopted by the North Coast Water Board on March 13, 2014, and can be reviewed at:

A copy of the Basin Plan amendment can also be received by mail by contacting Bryan McFadin at (707) 576-2751 or

REQUEST NOTICE OF STATE BOARD MEETINGS. The State Water Board will separately publish an agenda for the meeting at which it will consider adopting a resolution approving the Basin Plan amendment. Oral comments at the State Water Board meeting generally will be limited to a summary of the written comments submitted during the written comment period. Persons interested (including those who submit oral or written comments to the North Coast Water Board and State Water Board) in receiving notice of the meeting at which the State Water Board will consider approving the Basin Plan amendment must subscribe to:

and select “Temperature Issues.” The State Water Board encourages use of its electronic mailing list. Persons who require notice by regular mail must submit such request to the North Coast Water Board contact identified below.

SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS. Persons interested in the Basin Plan amendment are encouraged to submit comments electronically. Comment letters must be received by 12:00 noon on March 2, 2015. Comment letters received after that deadline will not be accepted unless the State Water Board determines otherwise. Send comments to

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the State Water Board, by email at (must be no more than 15 megabytes); fax at

(916) 341-5620; or mail or hand delivery at: PO Box 100. Sacramento, CA 95812-0100. (


  1. Randy Burke February 3, 2015

    As for the Steve Helig article and Football:
    American Football is the culmination of an oil economy, entrenched in leading us to oblivion while we are at our “peak”

  2. Lazarus February 3, 2015

    In the words of Russ Francis, a memorable (for me) tight end with the 49ers.
    “Football is attempting the impossible in an atmosphere of insanity”…
    Go Niners!

  3. Jim Updegraff February 3, 2015

    Parents who do not have their children vaccinated for measles and other diseases like whooping cough are guilty of child abuse and should be punished and their chidlren turned over to CPS

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