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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015

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THE FEDS are finally wrapping up the great Mendo-Kansas Pot Ring. Linda Williams of the Willits News, whose dogged reporting on the story over the past two years has persistently updated Mendocino County on the case, brings it all up to date in Wednesday's paper. Ms. Williams tells us that sentencing is underway for seven prominent Mendocino Coast people who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy in their roles in the Kansas-based drug distribution network. Of the 44 defendants from Kansas and California charged in the case, only three chose to face a jury trial.

ONLY 12 DEFENDANTS have been sentenced as of Dec. 30. One of these is Jeffrey Wall, 44, of Mendocino. He was sentenced on Dec. 11 to time served (about 10 days) and five years of supervised release for his part in the intra-state business wherein quality dope from Mendocino County was exported to Kansas for distribution in the Jayhawker state.

WALL was arrested in December of 2012 and has been out on bail for most of the time since his original arrest. He pleaded guilty on May 6, 2013 to one felony count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and marijuana and faced a possible sentence of 10-years-to-life. Wall is a former fire marshal with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department and runs a construction firm. The terms of the plea were in exchange for his complete cooperation and testimony.

WALL testified at the trial in 2014 for the final three defendants, Los Rovell Dahda, 32, and Roosevelt Rico Dahda, 32, of Lawrence, Kansas and Justin Cherif Pickel, 34, of San Lorenzo.

THE JURY TRIAL began in April but did not conclude until July 2014 when the jury returned guilty verdicts for Los Dahda on 16 counts, Roosevelt Dahda on 10 counts and Pickel on two counts. The Dahda brothers were considered the ringleaders of the drug distribution scheme. Those three men remain in prison awaiting sentencing.

DURING THE RUN-UP to Wall’s sentencing, his attorney and the US Attorney appeared to disagree over Wall’s recommended sentence. Most of the information associated with the sentencing is sealed from the public. The US Attorney alleged that Wall had violated his plea deal and was attempting to minimize his role in the conspiracy.

TO COUNTER this allegation, the US Attorney offered testimony by Chad Bauman, Wall’s main connection to the Kansas end of the conspiracy, that Bauman paid Wall about $300,000 for marijuana. The US Attorney also advised that Wall’s indoor marijuana grow would have “far surpassed what would have been considered necessary to medicate Wall's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, thus the only conclusion would be that he was distributing the remainder of this marijuana.”

IN WALL'S presentencing memorandum, Wall countered by saying he had only been the middleman handling 250 pounds of marijuana and that his personal grow was for medical purposes only. He stated he had only been a middleman, “contacting growers he knew and aided in the exchange of marijuana for currency.” For this Wall claims he “probably profited $3,000 to $4,000 total.” Wall also admitted he had sold “one pound to co-defendant Rick Smith in May 2011” but Wall did not recall whether it was from his personal grow or not.

WALL'S ATTORNEY presented a number of letters from Mendocino County residents urging leniency for Wall.

FIVE OF THE REMAINING Mendocino County defendants, James and Elizabeth Soderling, Erin Keller, John McMillan and Henry McCusker, have sentencing hearings this month. Richard Smith has his sentencing currently scheduled for April.

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Best Things of the Week — February 16, 2015

Best Thing I Saw All Week: The Other Barrio. A surrealist take on classic noir, this reminded me of Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973) where Philip Marlowe in the person of Eliot Gould awakens from a twenty-year nap and tries out his forties patter on the perpetually-smashed LA of the seventies with decidedly mixed consequences. Here the old-fashioned wise-cracking serves a plot of hand-me-down identities — a San Francisco building inspector who becomes a detective and then (perhaps) a poet; a poet who has already gone the same route, played by Alejandro Murghia, an actual poet who has already been that route and appears as ‘himself’ and wrote the original story to boot — Garcia Marquez-ian bus rides, hackers right out of Beckett, corruption, madness, betrayal, a malevolent developer named Callahan (Harry?) and perhaps the beginning of a new revolt of the cockroach people. Strong cinematography makes The City look alternately gleaming and crummy and beautiful either way; you want to say, “No wonder everyone wants to live here.” A dark, Chinatown-style political thriller where gentrification stands in for the water wars, the film premiered to two sold-out, cheering crowds at the Brava Theater on 24th Street on February 8.

Best Thing I Read All Week: Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography) by Errol Morris (2011). The forty-buck price tag originally put me off, even after reading an excerpt from the first essay in the New York Times Magazine, but I recently found this remaindered at Dog-Eared for just over a quarter of that price and snapped it up. Mostly known as a documentary filmmaker, in these essays Morris weighs in as a photographic Philip Marlowe, sleuthing out the truth about Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and the FSA; Roger Fenton and the Crimean War; the mysteries of identity at Abu Ghraib and the American Civil War. Morris is happily obsessive, so much so that he travels all the way to Crimea just to have a look for himself at the scene of the photographic ‘crime’ and ends up shooting his guide’s shoes — with a camera, of course. The book is heavily illustrated, as you might imagine, with all kinds of playfully confounding images. Like all good mysteries, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Morris throws in another twist. He’s my kind of guy: “On our first date” he says of his wife, “I took her out in a rowboat on Lake Mendota and I asked her if she had ever seen A Place in the Sun. She looked at me and said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Thankfully, she stuck around trying to find an answer to that question.”

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Doctor Susan Smith is interim director, and I understand is working Thursdays and Fridays; the next meeting of the Board of Directors is on Saturday, February 28th, 5:30 PM at the AVCSD Boonville fire station training/conference room.

I understand that the FY 2013-2014 audit has been checked by the Board finance committee and the Financial Officer (Judy Waterman of PriceWaterman, a Ukiah firm which currently handles AVHC bookkeeping and accounting) and is available for your review in the waiting room of the Health Center, along with the minutes and financial statements, and bylaws.

The financial statements on line are still the insulting colored balloons and give no dollar or line item information, or really any information at all.

HOWEVER, Heidi Knott did confer with Joy Andrews and now has the CSD budget reports, and was going to take them to tomorrow's meeting of the AVHC finance committee to discuss with Waterman to see what kind of similar information the health center may provide.

There was a large write-off of bad bills in December emphasizing the need to improve the billing procedure and collection policies. The new computers are supposed to make the record of services more accurate and improve billing to insurance companies. Staff was trained this month in accurate use, including properly recording new billing codes. However, they seem to think they need a billing consultant to oversee or direct this, despite the number of bodies now involved in billing.

Expiration of a Wellness Grant resulted in a reduction of anticipated revenue of about $100,000 for next FY? Or for next half of this FY? Not discussed.

Supposedly the committee reports and staff reports, and agenda are to be to posted on the web-site a week before the next meeting. Wouldn't that be a major improvement!?

I think anyone interested should check out the audit report and see what questions you want answered. I have not had time to review it yet.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 17, 2015

Cordona, DeWolf, Forbess
Cordona, DeWolf, Forbess

LUIS CORDONA, Willits. Failure to appear.

HEATHER DEWOLF, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, possession of deadly weapon by confined person, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

JAMES FORBESS, Ukiah. Domestic battery, criminal threats of death or great bodily harm, court order violation.

Gibney, Gouber, Lombera
Gibney, Gouber, Lombera

SAMUEL GIBNEY, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

JACK GOUBER, Willits. Trespassing.

JORGE LOMBERA, Ukiah. Battery of peace officer, resisting arrest.

Peters, Poindexter, Quinones, Reeves
Peters, Poindexter, Quinones, Reeves

JESSE PETERS, Little River. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.


PETER QUINONES, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

WILLIAM REEVES, Covelo. Probation revocation.

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The problem is all inside your head

She said to me

The answer is easy if you

Take it logically

I'd like to help you in your struggle

To be free

There must be fifty ways

To leave your lover


She said it's really not my habit

To intrude

Furthermore, I hope my meaning

Won't be lost or misconstrued

But I'll repeat myself

At the risk of being crude

There must be fifty ways

To leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover



You Just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

You don't need to be coy, Roy

Just get yourself free

Hop on the bus, Gus

You don't need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free


She said it grieves me so

To see you in such pain

I wish there was something I could do

To make you smile again

I said I appreciate that

And would you please explain

About the fifty ways


She said why don't we both

Just sleep on it tonight

And I believe in the morning

You'll begin to see the light

And then she kissed me

And I realized she probably was right

There must be fifty ways

To leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover

— Paul Simon

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The USA is best characterized as a decomposing corpse of a nation lorded over by a tiny clique of oligarchs who control the herd by wielding Orwellian methods of mind control. So far gone is the populace that most of them think that things are just peachy -- there is an economic recovery, don't you know -- but a few of them do realize that they all have lots of personal issues with things like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and gluttony. But don't call them a nation of violent, drug-abusing gluttons, because that would be insulting. In any case, you can't call them anything, because they aren't listening, for they are too busy fiddling with their electronic life support units to which they have become addicted. Thanks to Facebook and the like they are now so far inside Plato's cave that even the shadows they see aren't real: they are computer simulations of shadows of other computer simulations.

Dimitri Orlov

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Brian Williams, Bob Simon and the Difference Between a News Star and a Reporter

by Clancy Sigal

(This column is written in honor of Gary Webb formerly of the San Jose Mercury News who exposed the CIA connection in smuggling drugs into LA’s African-American community. For some reporting errors he was hung out to dry by his publisher and most of the Establishment media like the LA Times, Washington Post and NY Times. He committed suicide.)

After cowboys, my heroes have always been reporters, in real life and in the movies. Good, accurate reporters are the Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spades of our time – detectives tracking a crime in all but name. A century ago Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens were insulted with the compliment of “muckraker” for exposing the crimes and cruelty of the Gilded Age. Today’s muckraking by “detectives” like Matt Taibbi, Patrick Cockburn, Sy Hersh and James Risen is almost always a product of dull print not glamorous broadcast. Bob Simon’s over 200 reports on CBS’s 60 Minutes, from places like Gaza, Vietnam and Bosnia, are shining exceptions for their straightforward, sympathetic writing and letting a story speak for itself not the journalist.

The dirty little secret of most network TV is that its finest stories – that is, those exposés that make the Establishment’s skin crawl – often start as “boring” research-based slogging by unglam reporters, for local newspapers like the Hartford Courant, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and San Jose Mercury News, armed only with a computer, telephone and public records index.

I was lucky to be born in Chicago a fabulous newspaper town, full of crime, dirty cops and dirtier judges, covered by my favorite tabloids including the Chicago Times where I served an apprenticeship as a copy boy. Scandal and muckraking were the meat and drink for us.

Chicago readers are in a one-party Democratic-dictatorship town.

Heaven knows there was enough muck to rake. It was, and today often is, a rare judge or alderman who doesn’t end up in the clink. Of the 100 or so people to serve as a Chicago alderman in the last four decades, 31 of them have been convicted of corruption. And let’s not even speak of the past governor Blagojevich who became the fourth of the past seven Illinois governors to be convicted of a felony.

Thus, I grew up in a headline hunting, scandalmongering, “irresponsible” tabloidish journalistic culture.

I first became a working journalist in London’s Fleet Street which in many ways resembled Old Timey Chicago’s graft, alcoholism and pursuit of trivial sleaze.

Given this history, I’m hardly one to sit in judgment on journalistic “ethical lapses.” But there really is a world of difference between a sleek superstar like Brian Williams and a stone-cold reporter like Bob Simon.

On TV’s 60 Minutes Simon reported without performing. (His last story, on Ebola, appeared last Sunday.) Brian Williams is cut from a different cloth. (See actor William Hurt in Broadcast News.) Williams adored, and got addicted to, the ego-Botox of celebrity. NBC pushed him absurdly hard as their Peacock Network brand, and paid him $10 million a year to shine on viewers with whatever is the opposite of real news. With his jut jaw, easy delivery and delight in telling fish stories to David Letterman on late nite TV shows, he is almost as much a victim of an anti-news system as its exploiter.

As an “embedded” war reporter in Iraq he broke an honest reporter’s first moral rule to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He praised the invasion as “the cleanest war in all of military history” in tune with elite journalism’s prevailing lies at the time.

Celebrity journalism usually stinks on TV. You can be 99% certain that when ABC’s David Muir, CBS’s Scott Pelley and whoever NBC digs up as its next Rock Center star announces a “scoop” the crucial drudge work begins with a woman or man with a pencil and a sharp nose for news beavering away probably in some distant “regional” paper.

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.

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by Debra Keipp

The Mayor is never an elected position in the City of Point Arena, where Mayors are made by appointment only. Point Arena has undergone a series of Mayoral changes since Leslie Dahlhoff completed her three terms in office around 2010. Lauren Sinnott was appointed Mayor, then eventually was elected with the fewest votes of any candidate, only to be recalled by Lloyd L. Cross.

Lloyd Cross was then appointed the next Mayor-for-a-Minute until his predictable resignation only a few months later when he moved out of town. Doug Burkey then became the next appointed Mayor. However, while Vice-Mayor Phil Burfoot expected to become Mayor after Burkey, Burkey and two other Councilpersons had made other plans. Three Councilpersons decided to leapfrog the position of Mayor, nominating instead, Jim Koogle, as the newly appointed Mayor.

What's wrong with that picture?

How many times did you read the word “appointed”? And we're only into the year 2015. That's one mayor a year since the new decade. Point Arena politicians oughta form their own rugby team, they pass off so much.

Prior to that our Mayors at least stuck it out: Raven Earlygrow for eight years and Leslie Dahlhoff for twelve. After that, the position of Mayor  of Point Arena has shuffled about as often as a deck of cards in a crooked card room.

The craziest of all was the recall election of Mayor Lauren Sinnott. One night when Ms. Sinnott, was still Mayor of the City of Point Arena, I stopped in to catch up with a City Councilman who happened to also be the bartender at the Whale Bar in Point Arena. Another City Councilman, Lloyd L. Cross, sat drunk on the other end of the bar by the TV, blacked out, head down. We were only one Councilperson short, drunk or sober, of a Brown Act violation.

In a small town like Point Arena, folks have their usual “seats” if they frequent the Whale Bar. I usually sat nearest the TV but Lloyd was in my usual seat. So I sat at the opposite end of the long bar. The bartender changed the TV Channel for me after pouring me a drink and left for a minute to go to the restroom. As I sat there with my eyes straining to see the Charlie Chaplin movie on TV, I noticed Lloyd move at the end of the bar. He raised his head up and yelled in badly slurred speech a repetitive complaint about a lost romance.

In Point Arena, if you've heard that lament once, you've heard it a million times in the Whale Bar.

I emitted an involuntary nervous laugh in embarrassment for Lloyd. Looking around, no one else was in the room, and the bartender wasn't back from his break yet. The Councilman was listing badly and flailing each time he “came to.” When he tried to sit up, his elbow slipped off the bar and he began falling. I grabbed him and sat him back up in his chair. He's a little guy; smaller than me, who fashions himself after former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The bartender returned. Lloyd kept up his lament, but everyone in and out of the bar seemed privy to why he'd drunk himself into a stupor, which is the way it goes in a small town. He'd just been married a few months before, but it was clear he wasn't lamenting having had sex with his wife.

Finally, after he persisted in trying to tell me his troubles, I distractedly asked, “Shouldn't have fucked whom, Lloyd?” as I once again turned my eye to the Chaplin movie.

He raised up his head and surprised me with a name. And, down went his head, plopped on the bar. He's always been a black-out drunk as long as I've known him. No surprise there.

Lloyd was only a few months into his marriage with somebody else. “Can't hold down a job or a new marriage”, I mumbled and walked back to my chair. Curious thing about Lloyd. If you look at his resume, you'd see that he has had a series of jobs in which he must view himself, as a “consultant” when actually, he doesn't stay employed for much longer than a few weeks or months before he quits. He usually leaves after employers have invested training time in him, as when he was elected City Treasurer. Then, as Mayor, he served as a convenient recall pawn, and moved out of town a few short months later, removing himself from the position of Mayor, too. The day I was in City Hall meeting Phil Vince to ask for what turned out to be missing documents from City Hall, Vince received a call from Sacramento City Hall who inquired as to hiring Lloyd Cross as a consultant.

The rest of the story about the recall petition was the best I'd heard yet, though. You can't make up this stuff. Again, Twain's old adage is still my favorite as it describes Point Arena exactly as I've experienced it: “Life is stranger than fiction, because fiction would have to make sense.”

I got on the MTA bus to Boonville about a year ago, and the driver was a neighbor of Lloyd and his wife. He said Patti Schwindt, Lloyd's wife, had showed up like a woman with her hair afire on the bus driver's doorstep, livid, and frantically waving a petition in his face, saying, “Sign this! I'll explain later!”.

She also sells Amway, so Rick was reluctant.

He stepped out of her line of fire, and told her he didn't sign anything when ordered to do so, and asked her to leave his porch and go cool off. She left, in a huff.

Schwindt continued to storm up the street with no sidewalk – it was 8pm; dark out – half a block to the Whale Bar on Highway One, where locals – regulars — were liquored up and crowded at the bar; every seat full. Just her luck. She went in the Whale Bar and slid the petition for recall down the bar. In response, a roar went up with all the (by then drunk) drinkers in the bar, as the petition slid down the bar for each signature. People who never signed anything political in their lives signed the petition. Not one drinker refused to sign the recall petition. And, as the locals usually seated themselves in the bar – that's the order in which the names on the recall petition are signed... in that Whale Bar sorta seating order.

If candidates can get elected with only 88 votes in Point Arena after falsifying their election papers, it takes very few signatures to make legal a recall election. Caitlin Riehl, who currently chefs the extremely edible cuisine at Pacific Plate Restaurant inside the Whale Bar, was the original petition organizer for the recall election, and collected a sheet of names with signatures of voters from outside the Bar as well.

This year voter registrations reached an all-time low. The office of voter registrars tells me that Point Arena only needs 30% of their 247 active voters as petitioners: That's 75 votes. There is already a special election scheduled this year which would provide Point Arena with the avenue for another recall election without paying the big bucks for their own lonesome special election.


Good question, because the previous Council members didn't do much with that first recall election in the way of affordability and effectiveness. It turned out to be just an awful overthrow of candidates with the same bad ethics. Two of the current council persons are not even in legal living situations within the City limits, so they should have already resigned automatically when found out before voters have to ask them to resign. In fact, the last five years are a mockery of government, even in tiny Point Arena, where life and art co-exist more confusingly as one than most places in California. (I'd love to see Tarantino do a movie of Point Arena: A sukiyaki Western w/“Ebi” (shrimp) in title. “Shrimp City” would be a good name... in Japanese. It's the one fish we don't get over Arena Cove Pier!)

Current Council did, however, pay $3,000 for a “retreat” for themselves, so maybe they'll be all better now. One former City employee pointed out to me that $3,000 would cover a $1.00/hour raise for one year for three City employees. Council, however, votes down raises in the spirit of former Mayor Leslie Dahlhoff who froze them all.

Before and after the recall election, customers down on the deck at Cove Coffee witnessed spontaneous City Council meetings happen between Lloyd Cross, Doug Burkey and Jim Koogle who were obviously plotting their overthrow of Lauren Sinnott. The breakfast hangout of fishermen and sea salts alike, the owner of Cove Coffee often shook his head mumbling about Brown Act violations happening on his front porch. Finally, I called Mr. Tyson, the temp administrative guy at City Hall before the City hired Phil Vince as new City Manager. Tyson's  response to the conflict of interest meetings at Cove Coffee between three council persons, and maybe even a planner thrown in for good measure, was an exasperated and exaggerated, “Are they still doing that!?!”.

No surprise there.

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Arctostaphylos manzanita flowers are blooming now at the Coast Botanical Gardens. Plants that flower in winter and early spring are an important source of nectar for beneficial bees and resident hummingbirds. Bumblebees buzzed eagerly around the manzanita plant. Bumblebees help pollinate cool season crops and some ornamental shrubs in the garden. Keeping them healthy through winter ensures they will be around for later spring pollinating duties. They are particularly good for pollinating strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes, among other plants.

If you have a wonderful summer hummingbird garden, but don't provide anything for these tiny jewels during colder seasons, hummingbirds often migrate away due to lack of adequate plant nourishment or feeders. Planting winter-blooming natives will help ensure your hummingbirds stay year-round.

Grevillea The Gardens' Nursery on the Plaza offers several native plant species that will help keep these beneficial creatures healthy in winter and early spring, including varieties of Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, and Berberis.

In addition, the nursery offers other winter-blooming species, such as Grevillea, native to Australia, that will also help nourish your hummingbirds and bees, while offering vibrant winter color in your garden.

Upcoming Workshops:

Classes are $10 Members and Master Gardeners, $20 Non-Members (includes Gardens admission for the day). If there is a variation in the price, please make note in the description. Please reserve space for your preferred date by phoning 707 964-4352 ext. 16 or stopping by The Garden Store at MCBG, 18220 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg, CA 95437.

‘Interacting with Insects Commonly Found in Coastal Gardens’

with Jan O. Washburn, Ph.D. Saturday, February 21 10:00am to 12:00noon Gardens Meeting Room

Ever wondered about that green ladybug inhabiting your edibles, or which spider built that beautiful large web in your garden? Entomologist Jan O. Washburn, Ph.D., presents a colorful slideshow and informative talk about the insects commonly found in coastal gardens. More information:


‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of a Dream Come True — Creating a Stone Bridge and Waterfalls’

with Judy & Bob Mathey Saturday, March 7, 2015 10:00am to 11:00am. Gardens Meeting Room. FREE. Please reserve your spot.

More information


Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

18220 N. Highway 1, Ft Bragg, Ca 95437

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ACTION ALERT: Calling Everybody who Cares about the Bay-Delta Estuary & Public Trust

Restore the Delta has issued an urgent action alert calling everybody who cares about the Bay-Delta Estuary and the public trust to show up at the State Water Resources Control Board meeting at the Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, on Wednesday, February 18, as close to 8 am as possible to oppose the efforts by corporate agribusiness to override protections for California fisheries and to pump more Delta water for export.

We understand that the Westlands Water District is organizing busloads of farmers and farmworkers to attend the State Water Resources Control Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 to demand that the State Water Resources Control Board abandons the few protections left in place to stop over pumping of the Delta during the drought.

What’s at stake? We are on the verge of losing Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, steelhead, and other Delta and coastal species. In addition, if any more pumping takes place beyond current minimal protection levels in the drought, water quality will deteriorate even more, which is bad news for Delta municipalities and farming communities.

It is important that the State Water Resources Control Board understand that the commercial salmon, Delta farming, and Bay-Delta recreational economies worth many billions of dollars annually are at stake if the estuary collapses.

We must tell them while the current standards (which are called D1641) have never been fully adequate for the health of the estuary, but setting them aside so that three of California’s 58 counties can have any and all water during this prolonged drought is wrong.

The Delta is always doing without, and now Westlands is demanding what little water is left, even though their water rights are junior. King, Fresno and Kern Counties are not the only counties suffering in the drought. The estuary is in peril!

Here is where we need you to be:

Joe Serna Jr. – Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento

As close to 8 a.m. as possible. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.

We do not yet know when public comment will take place:early or late in the day.  And we do not know how much time individuals will be allotted to speak; 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

Restore the Delta will have shirt stickers available for our supporters.

Be ready to remind the board of the Delta’s right to water that meets water quality standards that are set by law!

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