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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Feb 16, 2015

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HOW TO ROYALLY SCREW UP A TIMBER HARVEST PLAN — and stick the taxpayers with the bill.

Agenda Title (Board of Supervisors Agenda, Feb. 16, 2015): Approval of Amendment No. 3 to County of Mendocino Standard Services Agreement, General Services Agency No. 13-7, Purchasing Agent Agreement No. 14-09A and Purchasing Agent Agreement No. 14-53A to Increase the Contract Amount with Roger Sternberg for a Total Revised Contract Price of $53,192.77 for the work in Relation to the Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) at the County Owned Little River Airport in Mendocino County

Previous Board/Board Committee Actions: The General Services Agency (GSA) issued a contract to Roger Sternberg, RPF, on July 11, 2013, to provide forester services in conjunction with the County’s attempt to harvest the timber near the Little River Airport. Due to poor timber yield and economic pricing, the harvest was delayed. In April, 2013 a contract was issued to Roger Sternberg, RPF, to provide forester services in conjunction with the County’s further attempt to harvest the timber near the Little River Airport. In August and September 2014, the Board of Supervisors discussed aspects associated with the harvest of timber at Little River Airport and appointed an Ad Hoc Committee of Supervisors Hamburg and McCowen and continued the item until March 1, 2015, to allow for interested conservation groups and other parties to work toward a resolution that provides for alternate management of this property.

Summary Of Request: In July of 2014, the original contract with Roger Sternberg was amended to increase the compensation payable from a maximum of $20,000 to a maximum not to exceed $50,000. The contract was further amended extending the termination date of the original Agreement to December 31, 2014. As of September 14, 2014, GSA has received and paid invoices from Roger Sternberg totaling $49,313.07. Due to the continued pursuit of amending the timber harvest plan with Cal-Fire, Roger Sternberg submitted an additional invoice in the amount of $3,879.70 that reflects the work performed to date. This invoice exceeds the $50,000 contract amount in Purchasing Agent Agreement 14-09A by $3,192.77, and therefore, requires an amendment to the original contract.

Recommended Action/Motion: Approve Amendment No. 3 to County of Mendocino Standard Services Agreement, General Services Agency No. 13-7, Purchasing Agent Agreement No. 14-09A and Purchasing Agent Agreement No. 14-53A to Increase the Contract Amount with Roger Sternberg for a Total Revised Contract Price of $53,192.77 for the work in Relation to the Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) at the County Owned Little River Airport in Mendocino County and authorize Chair to sign same.

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The writer of this labrynthian agenda item implies that this fiasco began in April of 2013. In fact, the County has been working on the Little River Airport THP since 2007 and Mr. Sternberg since 2012; Sternberg's original contract was for $20,000.

Back in August of 2013 we transcribed this little tidbit from the Board discussion of the THP prep work so far:

Supervisor John Pinches: “You expect the contract with the forester not to exceed $20,000. But does that include the biological surveys?”

GSA Director Kristin McMenomey: “That's everything.”

Pinches: “That's everything?”

McMenomey: “That's everything. That's all the hooting, that's everything. He hires the sub-consultants under his limit with the county.”

Supervisor John McCowen: “Is it correct that there was a competing proposal to perform the same work not to exceed $10,000?”

McMenomey: “There was a proposal of not to exceed $10,000 [from Registered Professional Forester Tom Kisliuk of Fort Bragg, much closer to the Little River Airport —Ed] to complete the work. However, the plan of action to do so, you could not do that in accordance with our NTMP because we have surveys that have to be conducted and it was CalFire's call. And you can't possibly know CalFire's call until you meet with them. And they made the call. You have to redo your studies.”

McCowen: “Was everyone bidding on the same project?”

With this, Ms. McMenomey hedged.

McMenomey: “Everybody was bidding on the same project. It wasn't a bid. It was a request for qualifications.”

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YEAH. RIGHT. Sternberg got the job for "not to exceed" $20k and he’s now milked it for over $50k!

Mr. Sternberg is not a working forester. His expertise is in conservation easements, not actual logging.

The County has now abandoned its earlier plans to harvest the small patch of timber near the Little River airport because the value of the timber won’t cover Mr. Sternberg’s cost (and some Coast enviros think what's left of the stand is worth saving). So they’re looking (they’ve been looking for a year now) for someone or something like a coastal land trust to buy the timber stand and not log it. But will the conservationists be able to come up with enough money to cover Mr. Sternberg’s ever greater fees. And will the Land Trust (or the County) then hire Mr. Sternberg — AGAIN — to prepare the conservation easement paperwork?

If history is any guide…

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FROM PAUL McCARTHY'S invaluable MendocinoSportsPlus:

Sunday's 'Theater of the Absurd’: ‘Dramatic rescue’ of couple ‘stranded’ at the mouth of the Navarro.

In one of the most ridiculous calls for service, a kayaking couple thought they were "stranded" on the north bank of the sand bar at the mouth of the Navarro River Sunday morning — despite the fact they had a kayak — or could literally walk across the mouth to reach the southern side.


The Albion/Little Rive Fire Department, good sports that they are, turned the absurd call into a training mission, sent two swimmers across to "secure" the kayak with a line and pulled the hapless/clueless kayaking couple, their child & dog to the "safety" of the southern bank. The Elk Fire Department ambulance was also summoned, as was CalStar 4. Both of which were cancelled. The "captain" of this kayak should be BILLED for this idiotic call for service.

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The hard work and dedication of the Mendocino Coast first responders was on show, no matter how ridiculous the call.
 The family in a kayak thought they couldn't "battle" the slight current near the mouth of the Navarro River and took "refuge" on the northern bank of the sand bar near Pinnacle Rock. 
The river level was 5.83' (and dropping) and the discharge a lazy 654 cubic feet of water per second at the time of the incident according to the USGS river gauge. 
This came over the scanner at 10am as a "water rescue" and the Albion/Little River Fire Department responded, as did the Fort Bragg ambulance, the CalStar air ambulance and the Elk Fire Department. They were all later cancelled as the true facts of the matter became absurdly obvious. 
In reality all these people had to do was kayak up river along the northern bank then paddle over.
 Hats off to the responding departments for their efforts, and if there was any justice, this family should have their kayak taken away and be billed for the response.
 Completely unnecessary plea for help — and they should pay.

At least the nearby seals had a good laugh at the witless kayakers who though they were stranded from the "raging" current at the mouth of the Navarro. They were rolling in laughter while applauding the efforts of the Albion-Little River water rescue team. The river was emptying due to the "minus" tide coming up at 2:25pm.

(Courtesy, Mendocino Sports Plus)

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CALTRANS’s engineering brain trust has resumed work on the Willits Bypass even though they have no idea why it collapsed or if it will again. (Can you spell “r-e-c-k-l-e-s-s”?)

A READER COMMENTS: "I'm not sure why so much reporting is so sloppy these days, but precisely NONE of the viaduct collapsed, contrary to the headline and the first sentence of this article. The viaduct would be the bridge itself, after the concrete has fully cured. What failed was the falsework, or essentially, the concrete forms, during the pour. Since the falsework was inspected prior to and during the pour, the most likely common sense conclusion is that one of the supporting structural members failed. This happens from time to time because wood is not a completely homogeneous, predictable material. Engineers base their designs on bearing capacities and strengths determined by laboratory testing of representative samples of materials, and then add a factor of safety. Once in awhile, this method goes awry, but of course I've yet to read a single word about this collapse that reports that nearly three-quarters of a mile of the viaduct has been completed without mishap, using precisely the same falsework design. What's to prevent it from happening again? In one sense, nothing, but in another, statistical confidence. You know, the same thing that allows to drive your car every day without expecting an axle to break."


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SPOTTED at the Portland Airport, a fat guy wearing a t-shirt inscribed, "PETA — People Eating Tasty Animals." Which is kinda provocative these days, what with the millions of anthromorphs wandering around, especially in Portland. If he'd added, "And I eat 'em with gluten," he wouldn't make it out of the state alive.

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SLOW LEARNERS should always include the city that knows how, aka, San Francisco. The Portland airport is so much better organized, so much more user-friendly that it was mildly surprising to fly from the organizational genius of Portland's air terminal to the chaos of SFO, a recurring bummer for me over the years that seems more of a bummer every time I have to go any place far away. I seldom fly anywhere because the experience is so, so, so unpleasant that I avoid it where possible, but this was a family funeral so I had to go airborne.

AT PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL, or whatever it's called, we enjoyed an inexpensive breakfast at a restaurant called The Beach. "Can I get a window table so I can watch the surfers?" The hostess laughed and said, "Sure." The "meat eater's" omelet cost me $7 even because there's no sales tax in Oregon. We gassed up the rental car near the airport where our driver, my sister, was half out of the car before she remembered that in Oregon you're not allowed to pump your own gas, another progressive Oregon state policy which, if adopted in California and the rest of the nation, would employ millions of people full and part-time.

SIS may also have set an unofficial record for the most times one family got lost in Portland over two days. I counted 11 re-routes and I took the bus to and from for most of one day. "On the off-chance I get to the airport this morning," I said to our hostess as I lugged twice as much stuff as we'd arrived with to the car, "I'll call you. If I don't get to the airport start your search in Seattle."

AT SFO I'd had to argue with my wife about baggage check. "I really don't like to wrestle an over-size suitcase into the under-size overhead bin just to save $25. I always hit someone in the head and it's a hassle getting off the g.d. plane because all the other morons are also wrestling their over-size bags out of the overheads. Gimme a break. I hardly ever go anywhere so let's pay the $25." We compromised. I got to check her accumulated bargain buys on the return flight.

AT SFO, it's at least a half-mile from the plane to the luggage pick-up, then back up the stairs for another half-mile trudge to the long-term parking van and the ride back to your car. (In Portland it's bingo-bango and out the door.) Traffic in the know-how city was so bad Sunday afternoon it took us two hours to get to Marin. The globally warmed sunshine seemed to get half the population of the Bay Area on the road to heat things up that much more. My modest trip alone represented a kind of global stomp in terms of energy expenditures and cosmic damage, and I take this opportunity to apologize to The Great Mother.

AN AIR JOURNEY of just over 500 miles took up the whole day, but coming and going we flew over an entirely visible Mount Shasta and the way down the coast we flew so close to the Pacific we could see the breakers, vistas so magnificent the journey's sad purpose was partially redeemed.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 15, 2015

Alvarez, Anaya, Bean, Corona
Alvarez, Anaya, Bean, Corona

KELISHA ALVAREZ, Clearlake/Ukiah. Court order violation. (Frequent flyer.)

CHRISTIAN ANAYA, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

LELAND BEAN JR., Willits. Probation revocation.

MIGUEL CORONA, Ukiah. DUI, driving with DUI-suspended license.

Deharo, Gentry, Harbour, Hensley
Deharo, Gentry, Harbour, Hensley

STEPHANIE DEHARO, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

TERRI GENTRY, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, indecent exposure.

JAKE HARBOUR, Willits. Drunk in public.

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public, resisting arrest, probation violation. (Frequent flyer.)

Lanzit, Lewis, Lowery, Martinez, McCooey
Lanzit, Lewis, Lowery, Martinez, McCooey

NICHOLAS LANZIT, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

SCOTT LEWIS, Willits. Possession of meth.

JOSEPH LOWERY, Palatine, Illinois/Willits. Drunk in public, vandalism, resisting arrest.

JOSE MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

ROBERT McCOOEY, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Nieto, Owings, Pena, Rebottaro
Nieto, Owings, Pena, Rebottaro

RAMON NIETO, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JANICE OWINGS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

MARTIN PENA, Ukiah. DUI, driving on suspended license. (Slogan on shirt: “It’s ok to be jealous.”)

MACHELLE REBOTTARO, Ukiah. Possession of more than an ounce of pot.

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I learned the truth at seventeen

That love was meant for beauty queens

And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles

Who married young and then retired

The valentines I never knew

The Friday night charades of youth

Were spent on one more beautiful

At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces

Lacking in the social graces

Desperately remained at home

Inventing lovers on the phone

Who called to say, "Come dance with me"

And murmured vague obscenities

It isn't all it seems at seventeen

A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs

Whose name I never could pronounce

Said, "Pity, please, the ones who serve

'Cause they only get what they deserve"

And the rich relationed hometown queen

Marries into what she needs

With a guarantee of company

And haven for the elderly

So remember those who win the game

Lose the love they sought to gain

In debentures of quality and dubious integrity

Their small town eyes will gape at you

In dull surprise when payment due

Exceeds accounts received at seventeen

To those of us who knew the pain

Of valentines that never came

And those whose names were never called

When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

When dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling girls like me

We all play the game and when we dare

To cheat ourselves at solitaire

Inventing lovers on the phone

Repenting other lives unknown

They call and say, "Come dance with me"

And murmur vague obscenities

At ugly girls like me at seventeen

— Janis Ian

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I was listening to NPR a few months ago and there was a salient point made by a fellow they were speaking to about how American adults desperately need a positive vision for the future. Dystopianism has become so prevalent in US society, that parents are unknowingly passing on to their children a view that their future will be terrible. I tend to agree. However, it may not be the 24/7 cornucopia that the US has been enjoying for many decades now. Simpler folkways and lives will force the American people into realizing what is actually real, and not a part of the hallucinatory humdrum of the constant backdrop of the “entertainment class”: decadent millionaire family dramas, WWE, nascar, and online pornography. So, I see that as a very potential “good.” The falling away of the bloated bread & circuses, for a population that is forced to live once again according to the natural cycles and seasons, and to rediscover what an actual “community” consists of — and I’m not talking about your Call of Duty buddies — but real human beings you have to struggle and sacrifice for in a common experience to survive.

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PhilipLevinePhilip Levine was one of the leading poetic voices of his generation, “a large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland,” according to Edward Hirsch. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Levine was born and raised in industrial Detroit, where he began working in the auto factories at the age of 14. As a young boy in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, he was fascinated by the events of the Spanish Civil War. His heroes were not only those individuals who struggled against fascism but also ordinary folks who worked at hopeless jobs simply to stave off poverty. Noted for his interest in the grim reality of blue-collar work and workers, Levine resolved “to find a voice for the voiceless” while working in the auto plants of Detroit during the 1950s. “I saw that the people that I was working with … were voiceless in a way,” he explained in Detroit Magazine. “In terms of the literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. And sure enough I’ve gone and done it. Or I’ve tried anyway.”

Levine earned his BA from Wayne State University in 1950 and began attending writing workshops at the University of Iowa, as an unregistered student, in 1953. He took classes with Robert Lowell and John Berryman, and would later pay tribute to Berryman's teaching influence on his development as a poet.

Levine officially earned an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1957, and later that year won a Jones Fellowship at Stanford University. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching at the University of California, Irvine, where he would remain until 1992. Levine also taught at Columbia, Princeton, NYU, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, and Tufts.

Though Levine did not return to live in Detroit, its people and economy would remain central concerns of his poetry. Critic Herbert Leibowitz, commenting on Levine’s 1980 National Book award and National Books Critics Circle award-winning collection Ashes: Poems New and Old, wrote: “Levine has returned again and again in his poems to the lives of factory workers trapped by poverty and the drudgery of the assembly line, which breaks the body and scars the spirit.” However, the speaker in Levine’s poems “is never a blue-collar caricature,” argued Richard Tillinghast in his New York Times Book Review piece, “but someone with brains, feelings and a free-wheeling imagination that constantly fights to free him from his prosaic environment.”

In addition to concentrating on the working class in his work, Levine paid tribute to the Spanish anarchist movement of the 1930s, especially in The Names of the Lost (1976). In his book, The Fierce Embrace: A Study of Contemporary American Poetry, Charles Molesworth explained that Levine connected the Spanish revolutionaries with Detroit’s laboring class during a brooding stay in Barcelona: “Both cities are built on the backs of sullen, exploited workers, and the faded revolution in one smolders like the blunting, racist fear in the other.” As Leibowitz summed up, “The poet’s ‘Spanish self,’ as he calls it, is kin to his Detroit self. Both bear witness to the visionary ideal destroyed.” 

Critics have described Levine’s work as dark and unflinching. Time contributor Paul Gray called Levine’s speakers “guerrillas, trapped in an endless battle long after the war is lost.” This sense of defeat is particularly strong when the poet recalls scenes from his Detroit childhood, where unemployment and violence colored his life.

But despite its painful material, Levine’s verse can also display a certain joyfulness, suggested Marie Borroff. Writing in the Yale Review, she described the title poem of They Feed They Lion (1972) as “a litany celebrating, in rhythms and images of unflagging, piston-like force, the majestic strength of the oppressed, rising equally out of the substances of the poisoned industrial landscape and the intangibles of humiliation.” Richard Hugo commented in the American Poetry Review: “Levine’s poems are important because in them we hear and we care.”

Though Levine’s poems are full of loss, regret and inadequacy, Hugo felt that they also embody the triumphant potential of language and song. Levine has kept alive in himself “the impulse to sing,” Hugo concluded, adding that Levine “is destined to become one of the most celebrated poets of the time.” 

Levine’s poetry for and about the common man is distinguished by simple diction and a rhythmic narrative style—by what Robert Pinsky once called “the strength of a living syntax.”

In an American Poetry Review appraisal of Ashes (1979) and 7 Years from Somewhere (1979), contributor Dave Smith noted that in Levine’s poems “the language, the figures of speech, the narrative progressions are never so obscure, so truncated as to forbid less sophisticated readers. Though he takes on the largest subjects of death, love, courage, manhood, loyalty … he brings the mysteries of existence down into the ordinarily inarticulate events and objects of daily life.”

Because Levine values reality above all in his poetry, his language is often earthy and direct, his syntax colloquial and his rhythms relaxed. Molesworth argued that Levine’s work reflects a mistrust of language; rather than compressing multiple meanings into individual words and phrases as in traditionally conceived poetry, Levine’s simple narratives work to reflect the concrete and matter-of-fact speech patterns of working people. Levine’s work was typically more concerned with the known, visible world than with his own perception of those phenomena, and this made it somewhat unique in the world of contemporary poetry. Levine himself, in an interview with Calvin Bedient for Parnassus, defined his ideal poem as one in which “no words are noticed. You look through them into a vision of … the people, the place.”

Several critics faulted Levine for his reliance on narrative descriptions of realistic situations. However, Thomas Hackett, in his review of A Walk with Tom Jefferson (1988), argued that, rather than being a weakness, Levine’s “strength is the declarative, practically journalistic sentence. He is most visual and precise when he roots his voice in hard, earthy nouns.” 

Levine’s ability to craft deeply affecting poems has long been his hallmark. “His poems are personal, love poems, poems of horror, poems about the experiencing of America,” Stephen Spender wrote in the New York Review of Books. Joyce Carol Oates commented of Levine in the American Poetry Review: “He is one of those poets whose work is so emotionally intense, and yet so controlled, so concentrated, that the accumulative effect of reading a number of his related poems can be shattering.” Oates dubbed Levine “a visionary of our dense, troubled mysterious time.” David Baker, writing about What Work Is (1991), said Levine has “one of our most resonant voices of social conviction and witness, and he speaks with a powerful clarity … What Work Is may be one of the most important books of poetry of our time. Poem after poem confronts the terribly damaged conditions of American labor, whose circumstance has perhaps never been more wrecked.” The book won the National Book Award in 1991.

His next book, The Simple Truth (1994), was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. 

Levine explored the forces that shaped his life and poetry in The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography (1994), a collection of nine essays in which he addresses his experiences as a factory worker, his family and friends, the writers who served as his mentors and his fascination with the Spanish Civil War and Spanish poets. Levine’s portrayal of his mentors, John Berryman and Yvor Winters, garnered critical applause. Richard Eder, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, considered the essays on Berryman, Winters, and the Spanish poet Antonio Machado to be the strongest in the book. Through it all, added Tod Marshall in the Georgia Review, “the book’s main focus—much to the benefit and delight of anyone interested in the formative years of one of our best contemporary poets—is Levine’s relationship with poetry.”

Levine’s later books include The Mercy (1999), Breath (2004), and News of the World (2009). Breath was hailed by a Terrence Rafferty in the New York Times as a “graceful new collection” that showcases Levine’s unique brand of elegy, one that operates in long, thoughtful lines that summon the un-glorious past and its hard-working inhabitants. “What gives Levine’s work its urgency,” Rafferty went on “is that impulse to commemorate, the need to restore to life people who were never, despite their deadening work, dead things themselves, and who deserve to be rescued from the longer death of being forgotten.” 

Levine won several other awards, including the Ruth Lilly Prize in Poetry and the Wallace Stevens Award. In 2006 he was elected a a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and in 2011 was appointed poet laureate of the United States

His poetry “will be remembered for his giving voice to the complicated lives of men and women and for making something closer to simple song than ordinary speech,” wrote the poet Carol Frost“The territory of this poetry keeps coming back to a center—praise for the common person, an American, probably with immigrant parents, who having gotten ‘off the bus/at the bare junction of nothing/with nothing’ manages to find a way home.”

Levine retired from teaching at the University of California, Irvine in 1992. He split his time between Fresno and Brooklyn in his later years. He died in Fresno on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at the age of 87 of pancreatic and liver cancer.


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The Simple Truth

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,

took them home, boiled them in their jackets

and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.

Then I walked through the dried fields

on the edge of town. In middle June the light

hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,

and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds

were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers

squawking back and forth, the finches still darting

into the dusty light. The woman who sold me

the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone

out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses

praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables

at the road-side stand and urging me to taste

even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,

she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said,

"Even if you don't I'll say you did."

Some things

you know all your life. They are so simple and true

they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,

they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,

the glass of water, the absence of light gathering

in the shadows of picture frames, they must be

naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.

My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965

before I went away, before he began to kill himself,

and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste

what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch

of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,

it stays in the back of your throat like a truth

you never uttered because the time was always wrong,

it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,

made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,

in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.

— Philip Levine

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The woman wore a wig and faked an accent to dupe an Oregon man out of millions of dollars

January 9, 2015. Portland, Oregon — A woman who wore a blond wig and faked a British accent as part of an elaborate con that duped an Oregon man of millions of dollars pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Porsha Lee, 25, is expected to get about three years in prison at her April 15 sentencing. She declined comment after Wednesday’s hearing before a federal judge in Portland.

Rachel & Porsha Lee
Rachel & Porsha Lee

Her mother, Rachel Lee, pleaded guilty in the same case last fall and will be sentenced next month. As the mastermind, she is expected to spend seven to nine years in prison.

According to prosecutors, the scheme began a decade ago when Ralph Raines Jr., the heir to a timber fortune, met Rachel Lee at her psychic shop in Bend.

Raines, now 67, was living with his father on a 1,200-acre tree farm west of Portland while the father was in declining health due to a stroke.

Lee eventually moved in to become his caregiver. Her then-teenage daughter, Porsha Lee, joined them.

Rachel Lee eventually gained control of the family’s financial and business affairs, and started siphoning money before the elder Raines died in February 2011.

In 2007, Raines Jr. met a British woman named Mary Marks at Portland International Airport. The two hit it off and Marks, supposedly a traveling bookkeeper, could help Raines with money matters.

Raines Jr. eventually told people he married Marks so she could stay in this country legally.

Marks, however, turned out to be Porsha Lee in disguise. She not only fooled him into thinking there was a marriage, but she convinced him they had a son named Giorgio. Another daughter of Rachel Lee allowed her child to play the role of Giorgio.

Acting as Raines’ wife, Porsha Lee negotiated the sale of properties totaling millions of dollars, with the money going into bank accounts controlled by her mother.

Assistant US Attorney Donna Maddux said in court Wednesday that Porsha Lee used her portion of the ill-gotten gains to buy expensive clothes in Beverly Hills, stay at luxury hotels in Las Vegas and lease vehicles from a Mercedes dealership in Fresno. During her arrest, authorities found $36,000 in her underwear drawer.

Beyond the financial loss, the “personal and emotional toll” on Raines has been tremendous, Maddux said.

The prosecutor noted that even today, with the guilty pleas, Raines believes he has a wife named Mary Marks and a son.

A lawyer representing Raines attended the hearing, but did not make a statement. He declined comment outside the courtroom.

Porsha Lee has three children between the ages of 2 months and five years. The terms of her plea agreement state that she will spend no less than two years in prison and no more than three. US District Judge Robert Jones said three years is more likely than two.

There’s also the matter of restitution, a process Jones predicted would be “elaborate, expensive and time consuming.”

(Courtesy, the Associated Press)

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‘TOUCHING THE WILD’ opens International Wildlife Film Festival

Six Fridays renew appreciation of natural world

The 9th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival Tour premieres its first film, "Touching the Wild," on Friday, February 20 at 7 pm at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue. Touching the Wild" takes us on an intimate and unique research project with writer, artist, and naturalist Joe Hutto.


As portrayed in the Emmy Award-winning film "My Life as a Turkey," featured in last year's film series, Hutto seeks to observe behavior from the animal's perspective. In this year's film, Hutto narrates his story of bonding with a wild herd of mule deer and the impact this had on him. Hutto dedicated seven years of his life to living among, and eventually being accepted by, a wild mule deer family in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. There are many poignant segments in this Nature documentary, including a moment when Hutto is introduced to newborn twins by a doe he calls Rag Tag. The captivating joy he feels for his new family is nothing short of infectious, but this human predator also learns to see the world from the point of view of prey. Sharing their world so personally finally takes a toll that sends him back to his own kind.

"Touching the Wild" won the top award for best editing at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.Parental discretion is recommended.

Also playing: "Bluebird Man" (27 min.) tells the story of 91-year-old Al Larson, a self-taught conservationist who has committed the last 35 years of his life to saving North America's bluebirds. Breathtaking scenery, intimate conversations and stunning footage of all three species of bluebird create a powerful film with the goal of inspiring our next generation of citizen scientists.

The Wildlife Film Festival will play for six consecutive Fridays, through March 27. Live music begins at 6:15 pm with Chanterelle, featuring trio Madge Strong, Diane Smalley, and Helen Falandes sharing original songs and folk music from near and far. The films begin at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. A series ticket for all six evenings is $50. Films are appropriate for older children, but parental discretion is recommended.

Proceeds from the film festival are an important funding source for the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP), a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education program to over 2,000 students a year. For a full program of the film series and more information about the RVOEP visit its website, To find out more about RVOEP, contact Maureen Taylor, Education Coordinator, at 489-0227.

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"ALL ABOUT MONEY" returns to KMEC Radio on Monday, February 16, at 1:00 PM, Pacific Time, with host, John Sakowicz, and guest, Matthew Hoh. Hoh is presently a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. We'll discuss President Obama's request for authorization for war with the Islamic State.

KMEC Radio, your community radio, is heard at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA. We also stream live from the web at

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Matthew Hoh is a former USMC officer who served with distinction in Afghanistan and later served in U.S. State Department reconstruction effort in Afghanistan before resigning and becoming the Department's top whistleblower on billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and corruption in Afghanistan. He is now opposed to the U.S. being involved militarily in the civil wars in Iraq and Syria. He predicts the same results as previous U.S. interventions: escalation of the wars, mass suffering of the Iraqi and Syrian people, and a waste of American lives and treasury.

Matthew Hoh further argues that despite the Administration's claims, Obama's authorization is not limited; it simply pushes the decision for the US to remain at war in Iraq and Syria to the next president, and it allows for ground troops -- not just enduring ground troops, an incredibly subjective description. The war powers authorization offers no path to peace and reconciliation in Iraq and Syria, just the promise of Americans killing and dying in the middle of two civil wars.

Hoh states that in its coda the authorization does repeal the 2002 authorization for President Bush to invade Iraq, which is the genesis of these wars and of the Islamic State, but rather than serving as a cautionary historical blunder to protect our leaders from repeating a tragedy, it simply is written as a preceding and outdated legal necessity.

For reference, below please find a few of Matthew Hoh's writings from the last year, as well as two television interviews detailing his opposition to US war in Iraq and Syria. Also below, please find Hoh's biography.

Full Show: America's New War in the Middle East | Moyers & Company |

"This is Crazy": Ex-State Dept. Official Matthew Hoh Blasts Obama's Doubling of U.S. Troops in Iraq


Matthew Hoh is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, a network of foreign and public policy experts and professionals advocating for a change in US strategy in Afghanistan. A former State Department official, Matthew resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over US strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in September 2009.

Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew served in Iraq; first in 2004-5 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006-7 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander.

When not deployed, Matthew worked on Afghanistan and Iraq policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department from 2002-8.

Hoh's writings have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Politico, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Council on Foreign Relations has cited Matthew's resignation letter from his post in Afghanistan as an Essential Document.

In 2010, Matthew Hoh was named the Ridenhour Prize Recipient for Truth Telling. Matthew is a member of the Board of Directors for Council for a Livable World, is an Advisory Board Member for Expose Facts ( and is an International Advisory Board Member for Veterans for Peace. He writes on issues of war, peace and post-traumatic stress disorder recovery at

One Comment

  1. John Sakowicz February 15, 2015

    God, I loved Philip Levine.

    Once a year for the period of time in the 1990s that my daughters were students at in Woodland Park High School, in Woodland Park, CO, I was invited by their English teacher, Chip Bissell, to teach a poetry workshop.

    With one of my four daughters in the class during that decade, I would always start off by reading Philip Levine’s poem, “Starlight”. The poem is about a young boy sitting on his father’s shoulders looking up at the stars. I felt it was something the kids could relate to.

    It’s an achingly beautiful poem. Once, I actually teared up a little while reading the poem to the class. My voice choked. Became thick. Just like the narrator’s voice in the poem. I thought I had embarrassed myself, but then to my surprise my daughter finished the recitation of the poem for me. She had memorized it.

    It was one of the peak experiences of my life. Really. I never had felt so loved, so known, by my daughter.

    That same year, I nominated the poem, “Starlight” to The America’s Favorite Poem Project. It was accepted.

    Later, I wrote to Levine. He answered me.

    Writing this now in the AVA’s “Mendocino County Today” late at night, I feel such loss.

    About the poem, “Starlight”, it’s is a confessional poem, describing an experience from the poet’s past. The narrator recounts a brief discussion from his childhood between himself and his father about happiness.

    Though the meaning of the word “happiness” was not clear to the narrator as a child, it is as an adult. The speaker obviously has grown emotionally and now has perspective on his past. He empathizes with his father, which makes sense when we understand that although Levine writes the poem from the viewpoint of an adult remembering himself as a child, the real change in the poem happens to the father — the father becomes child-like, innocent again, awed by the beauty of the world.

    It is worth noting that Levine’s father died young. I don’t think Levine ever got over his father’s death.

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