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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015

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FORT BRAGG has hired Fabian Lizarrago as the town's new police chief. Lizarrago has 37 years in as a police officer, much of it with the Los Angeles Police Department.

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IF ALL THE NORTHCOAST'S deaths "by misadventure," were to suddenly rise up and walk out onto Highway 101, the populations of Mendocino and Humboldt counties would double:

On Monday, March 9, 2015 at about 12:00 PM the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office received a report of a found human skull on the river bar near Ferndale. A Deputy Coroner responded to the location and met with the citizen who found the remains. The Deputy Coroner confirmed that it was a human skull and searched the area for additional remains/bones. No other human remains were located during the search. The skull appeared to have been exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. How the skull ended up where it was located and who it belongs to is unknown.

—HumCo Sheriff’s Press Release

On March 15, 2015 at about 11:25 AM the Coroner’s Office was notified of an accidental drowning that had just occurred in the area of Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove.

A family on vacation from Gardiner, Montana was at the beach when a 13-year old family member slipped on a rock and fell into the ocean. The boy’s father went into the water and was able to push his son out of the water and back onto the beach. Before the father could exit the water, a large wave came in and forced him under water and out of sight. A short while later the body was seen face down in the water but too far out for any of the witnesses to attempt a rescue.

The Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene and was able to recover the body out of the water. Resuscitation attempts were made but the subject was eventually declared deceased at the scene.

The deceased subject has been identified as Steven Arthur Bierle, age 44, from Gardiner, Montana.

--Humboldt County Coroner’s Office press release

HOW TERRIBLY SAD, but how many times do people have to be told never to turn their backs on the ocean? I slogged down that beach once, scurrying around boulders on an incoming tide, aware the entire time that what I was doing was asking for an early exit. Every time I see a family walking heedlessly along the water's edge, I feel like screaming out a warning at them. Most places, Ocean Beach in San Francisco for instance, you could be standing out there screaming all day. On warm days there are hundreds of oblivious people, including toddlers, directly on the cusp of eternal oblivion.

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PAUL CAYLER, subject of a story in last Thursday’s Press Democrat pitting Cayler against a popular Cloverdale cop, went to work as Cloverdale's city manager after tours working with the Willits and Mendocino County admins. Good guy, in our limited experience of him. Reading between the lines about the flap he seems to have touched off in Cloverdale, it seems Cayler wasn't all the way prone at the feet of the sacrosanct cop, and that cop is demagoguing the beef big time.

BACK IN 1972, a similar hassle roiled Cloverdale. That one was written up in The New Yorker by none other than the wonderfully versatile Calvin Trillin when Trillin was traveling around the country writing about what he found under the rubric, “U.S. Journal.” His Cloverdale piece was called “Buck and Baratta.” It described a newly elected city council's highly unpopular firing of long-time chief of police, Buck Boehm, and the hiring of a bright-eyed, big city "professional" cop with the made for tv name of Baratta. The ensuing controversy was long and bitter. It pitted Cloverdale old timers against the new people who were beginning to settle in Cloverdale and, worse in the eyes of the old timers, get themselves elected to the city council. Buck had handled a lot of police stuff informally. He'd drive local drunks home rather than arrest them, and he wasn't big on paperwork. Buck was an old-fashioned small town cop, and perfect for the small town of Cloverdale that he and a small group of younger men policed. The new guy wasn't unreasonable but he was pretty much a by-the-book type. And the times were a changin', what with dope taking hold and lots of the aforementioned new people moving in to the new housing tracts expanding Cloverdale from a place where everybody knew everybody else to a place where you might know every third person. Trillin writes: "…So many angry citizens turned out for the next Council meeting that it had to be moved from City Hall to the grounds of the Citrus Fair — a widely known annual event that was started some years ago to draw attention to the fact that Cloverdale, despite being in the northern part of the state, has a climate mild enough to permit the raising of citrus fruit, although not mild enough, as it turns out, for anybody to risk doing so commercially.”

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FOR SOME DARN REASON, the County's garbage czar, Mike Sweeney, refuses to communicate with the Boonville newspaper, meaning the guy simply can't maintain professional emotional distance from his personal antipathies to let us all know that Haz Mat will be at the Boonville Fairgrounds parking lot on March 27th and 28th, from 9 AM to 1 PM. Mikey O'Greenie reminds us, "Send your old paint, varnish, pesticides, ex-wives, and old prescriptions over the Hill to be properly disposed of."

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SOUTH COASTIES will enjoy the irony in the new name of Point Arena's legendarily out-of-control Sea Shell Inn, long time home of fog belt tweakers and even a couple of commercially available ladies. The Sea Shell is now called Wildflower, which seems kinda like a linguistic lateral move, but who's to nitpick the energetic new owners from Utah who've invested large amounts of money and time in a radical upgrade?

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DEBRIS from a honey oil operation has been found on Elkhorn Road, Yorkville. A hazmat team will have to clean it up. Honey oil is a marijuana concentrate produced via a chemical conversion involving butane, among other hazardous substances. It's not known yet if the honey oil was being cooked in the wilds of Elkhorn or if its chefs simply off-loaded their leftover toxics out there.

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THIS STATEMENT from the federal prosecutor who put Laytonville's Matt Graves away for five years: “Defendant did not cultivate marijuana to make medicine; he cultivated it to make money." At the conclusion of her presentence investigation, the Probation Officer reached this same conclusion: ‘The defendant has voiced his opinions as to the benefits of marijuana, especially for sufferers of cancer; however, the probation officer has received no information to suggest that the defendant’s large-scale and longstanding marijuana operation had anything to do with assisting medical marijuana patients. Rather, the defendant’s operation appears to have had the sole purpose of making a profit." The great idealists of medical marijuana have no interest in filthy profit? Please.

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MARSHALL NEWMAN alerts us to this article from Yahoo Travel that details going through Anderson Valley without mentioning Anderson Valley and then “comments on the Mendocino coast ‘Cyprus.’ Yes, should be cypress. Sad example of ‘journalism’ which I — at least — spelled correctly.” I enjoyed a reference to “hipster-laden Healdsburg,” which seems just about as far off from the reality of that staid little town as one travel writer could possible get.

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STATE WATER RESOURCES may, pending a hearing, order Nancy K. Donovan and Stephen J. Peters to put an end to their appropriation from an unnamed tributary of Maple Creek that feeds two ponds near Maple Creek not far from the intersection of Fish Rock Road and 128, Yorkville. The Hearing is scheduled for July 1st.

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"TELEVISION is the first truly democratic culture. It's the first culture available to everybody, and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is, what people do want.”

— Clive Barnes.

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OH, CLIVE, you snoot. Put good stuff on tv, as the tube's history proves, and people will watch it. Of course some people will watch anything, good or bad, but as a general proposition people aren't as hopelessly stupid as you seem to think they are.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 16, 2015

Bastion, Cardenas, Clark, Ewing
Bastion, Cardenas, Clark, Ewing

PAUL BASTION, Ukiah. Domestic battery.


WILLIAM CLARK, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance.

JESSICA EWING, Ukiah. Possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

Henderson, Hoffman, Knight
Henderson, Hoffman, Knight

LEANNA HENDERSON, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, child endangerment.

JAMES HOFFMAN, Ukiah. Interfering with business, possession of controlled substance, smuggling controlled substance or liquor into jail, violation of county parole, probation revocation.

DELILAH KNIGHT, Ukiah. Shoplifting, petty theft, conspiracy, probation revocation.

Medvin, Skinner, Smith
Medvin, Skinner, Smith

GREGORY MEDVIN, Ukiah. Threats of death or great bodily harm.

JENNIFER SKINNER, Willits. Domestic assault.

DOLORES SMITH, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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mauna kea

Mauna Kea, March 14, 2015 (Photo by Rick Weddle)

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Feds OK extra storage at rising Lake Mendocino

Pertinent to the letter from Ava Peterson, found on the "Letters (Mar 11, 2015)" page, regarding overpumping of unauthorized water diversions from Lake Mendocino:

Surely this warrants a query of the Sonoma County Water Agency's response, and Rep. Jared Huffman's proposed "FORECAST Act" which, according to the PD story, "would update the Army Corps' 60-year-old operations manual for Lake Mendocino."

While more "scientific" information (remote sensing by NOAA satellites) may be helpful to "prevent 'the untimely and wasteful release of water,'" obvious conflicts in policies and priorities for water uses in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties -- heavily dependent on the grape industries and willing to ignore patchwork-quilt operational agreements among authorized agencies -- need to be addressed for protection of natural resources, healthy human and wildlife habitats, and adaptation to well-understood climate changes we all face.

Love from Lake County, the "county of origin" where the Eel River begins.*

Betsy Cawn The Essential Public Information Center Upper Lake, CA 707-275-9376

P.S. -- We'd like to see the Army Corps' "operations manual" for Clear Lake, which in Corps parlance is deemed a "reservoir," but for California Department of Fish & Wildlife purposes is deemed a "natural lake," relieving the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District of any responsibility for preventing infestation of the water body by ineradicable Quagga and Zebra Mussels (under CDF&W Code Section 2300:

This endless pissing contest over which agency is responsible for everyone's long-term "water security" leaves all of our highly touted recreational water bodies -- prized more greatly for their elicitation of tourist dollars than as "critical water supplies" -- threatens every water user in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Napa, Solano, and Yolo Counties, even the very largest water supplier in California, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

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by Steve Heilig

I was at the beach, waiting for Santa Claus. Well, not quite, I was at the beach because I love the beach and even more important, my dog loves the beach. But it truly was Christmas Eve, and we'd been on the sand and in the water for hours, and the sun was now setting and we sat on the seawall to watch. I unwrapped my burrito, now cold - I had feared that most places would close early so got it on the way down at midday - and piled some dog kibble next to me to distract the pup from begging and drooling at me. I popped a beer too, which had kept fairly cool in my little cooler bag.

The sunset was of medium beauty. The pup grew restless as darkness came down fast. "OK', I said, and he, knowing as much English as many San Franciscans, hopped down off the wall onto the walkway while I got down a bit slower. Looking south, I could see that there was not another car for the entire half-mile or so of beachfront parking. The big restaurants just above me and down the beach were dark. Other than the hum of the surf a few hundred feet away, it was a scene of great quiet.

We got in my car, and I put my long pants and socks on, and a sweatshirt, and gave pup a bowl of water. What now, I wondered. Home would be extra dark and depressing tonight. But not as bad as the few bars or other such spots that might remain open. I turned on the cd player and selected a Keith Jarrett piano concert, figuring I'd hang out for at least awhile. His intensely meditative ramblings drew me in and I shut my eyes and just sat back, with a brief worry that I might wear out the car battery if I passed out - but what the heck, I had an AAA card, and the tow trucks couldn't be too busy on this night, right?

I awoke to a light in my eyes, reflecting off the rear-view mirror. The music had stopped, and I heard the rumble of a car engine and saw lights behind me. A cop car. From long habit, I went on full alert. Shaking my head, I reached for the empty beer bottle and shoved it under my seat. There was a roll of breath mints in the dash and I popped one of those. Then I relaxed, sorta, not being able to think of anything else illegal about me at that point. I rolled down my window and put my arm out, with a little wave, and put my right hand on the steering wheel, having been told this reassured cops. And then I just sat, waiting.

The patrol car's door opened, someone got out, and walked up to my window, flashlight in hand. Pup got up from his own slumber and looked groggily out the window at the intruder. "Good evening" came the voice. A woman. "Hello," I replied. "How are you doing here tonight?" she asked. "Oh OK, just watched the sunset and now taking a nap, I guess," I explained. There was a pause and she said, "Would you mind stepping out of the car, with your license and registration, please?" "No problem, I said, and did so, hoping any beer on my breath had dissipated or at least been cut by the beans and salsa.

She was short, Asian, youngish, fully garbed in that thick black leather cop jacket, the cap, all the tools and weaponry. I got my wallet out and handed her my license and insurance card, and stood. She put the light on them for a moment and handed them back, looking up at me appraisingly. "Do you want the registration now too?" I asked. "I didn't want to be rooting around in there until you said it was OK." She smiled a little, and said "No, that's OK now, but thank you, and I did notice your showing your hands when I pulled up, so thanks for that too."

We stood there for a moment, silent. She looked into the car, and shone the light on pup's big face. "Wow, nice-looking dog," she said.

"Yes, he's a good mutt," I replied, "He'll stare at you until you give him whatever he wants tho." She chuckled.

"So...I have to ask, what are you doing out here tonite, and where are you going from here?"

'Well," I began, thinking about what to say. "Like I say, I ran the dog on the beach, watched the sunset, put on some music and took a nap, I guess. I have no other plans at this point, but will likely just head home."

"OK. And what happens then, will anybody be there?"

"There will be hungry cats, is all." I paused, and she said nothing, so I ventured, "So, can I ask, are you on suicide watch or like that? The bridge is a couple miles away."

She gave another quiet laugh, and looked me in the eyes. "No, not really but yes, well, in a way. Yours is the only car out here. It's Christmas Eve. Strange things happen, you might say. I felt I had to check you out here."

"And I checked out OK, right?" I said, nodding towards her car.

"Yes. But of course most things are not in our computers."

"Of course." We both stood there for another moment.

"So," she said, "How was the sunset?"

I laughed, and replied "Eh, it was OK, I'd say I'd give it a b-minus. Say, would it be OK if I let the dog out? He's friendly, and might have to do some business..."

"Sure, fine" she said, and stepped back. I opened the back side door and he tumbled out, looking at her warily but tail wagging. No traffic around, I didn't put his leash on and let him go over to the sand and bushes by himself. It was getting chillier out. We walked out to the seawall and looked out at the whispering dark. Her radio crackled lightly from her car behind us. I was quiet, keeping my face away from her to keep the beer odor to myself.

"So... again, why are you out here tonite, by yourself?" she asked after a minute.

"I'm not - the dog is right there."

"Don't smartass a cop. You know what I mean."

"Sorry, yes, officer," I said, but while smiling, and she did too. I gathered the pup back up and led him back into the backseat of my car, and shut the door. She was still standing there silently. I took the few steps over to stand next to her, and said, "OK, sorry, yeah. I... well I like it here, and there's no place else I have to be, I guess."

She seemed to think about that, then said, "Listen, you were right, we are supposed to be on the lookout for loners and possible suicide risks tonite. You swear you're not one of those?"

"Well, not for suicide, no, I swear. But loner, yes, although not by choice."

She took that in for another pause. "You... don't have to tell me anything, of course. But how does that happen? You seem all right to me."

I laughed a little. "It's a long story, but thanks."

"I've got time. It's a slow night."

I thought for a second. "OK, here's a deal for you. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours - why are you on this nasty shift tonight?"

This time she laughed. "OK, deal. But you first."

I took a deep breath. "Hmm, OK.... I used to have a great, normal kind of life. Charmed, even. Grew up at the beach, great schools, blah blah blah. Lots of friends, girlfriends, busy all the time with mostly good stuff. Good job and no money worries too. Then.... well, hell, I don't want to go into details, there was suddenly lots of death and people leaving town and an affair and I wound up here, basically. I can tell you, if you arrested me tonight I would have nobody to call, no one. I guess that says a lot. Most of the time I can tell myself to just appreciate what I do still have, and sometimes that works. But holidays and such, yep, can be hard.... that's it I guess."

I stopped; we were silent. "OK, ugh, I said too much, sorry, but you asked", I said, suddenly embarrassed, clearing my throat, wishing I could take that last sip of beer, "Your turn now."

She looked at me with what had to be pity and seemed to sigh. "Ummm... hmm. Well. I.. well, I was born down south too, my family broke up early, I have two brothers. They turned into young thugs, and I didn't want to be like the skanky girls they hung out with. I finished high school, tried some college but didn't like it much, and a friend had become a cop and told me I should try it, good pay, tuition help, if I wanted to go back to school, and lots of guys to meet too." We both laughed. "So I got into the LAPD academy, did OK, got through, but really wanted to get out of LA, and it was OK to transfer up here if you had a connection, which I did. There were more women cops here which was cool but most of the men were real dicks, yunno? Irish thugs, sorta, still all about their high school and sports only. I enrolled in classes at State and even graduated. Then I transferred up to Mendocino County for a bit but nobody there would take a woman copy seriously, especially a brown one, and I got endless crap from both the rednecks and my so-called colleagues. So I came back to SF, and things went pretty OK for a couple years. But then a smart captain, he'd gone to Berkeley even, and I hit it off and started seeing each other. Turned out he was married, of course. I stuck it out for a bit - I was lonely too, I guess - but then broke it off, just had to, and then he got really nasty - stalking, threats, the whole thing. He started making it hard for me to work, to get decent shifts, and all that. And with the old boy's network and all, there has not been much I can do but try to avoid him. So here I am, years on the job and still working Christmas Eve. Not that I really have anywhere better to be too, but still, yunno...."

She stopped. Sighed again. It got quiet again and we just stood side by side, looking out into the dark.

"I'm sorry", was all I could think of to say.

" too." She shrugged, then reached up and took off her stiff cop's cap, and shook her head, and a big pile of black hair tumbled out. I looked at her in the dark and was taken aback - it was like one of those Bogart flicks where the Plain Jane secretary lets her hair down and takes her glasses off and presto, bombshell. She was stunning. She reminded me of one I could not forget and I turned my head away before that impression took over. But then I felt a light touch on my jaw, and before I could react she was turning my face back towards her, and her lips were on mine and we were, well, making out. It had been so long that I was shocked at the feeling, then not, and I took her head in my hands and kissed her back, hard. She met me, then pulled back, took a deep breath, and giggled.

"What kind of beer?" she asked, smiling.

I laughed too. "Uh, Anchor Steam, the local stuff. But only one bottle, I swear." She chuckled. Then I said, "I don't think I've ever kissed a cop. At least... not in uniform." She smiled, leaned back in and we kissed more, and I felt her tongue and her hands on my neck, and I reached into her big stiff jacket and yanked her shirt up out of her pants and felt the smooth skin of her torso, and she fell into me and leaned her head back and I kissed her neck, just under her ear, and she smelled so good there and kind of moaned and wiggled and pressed into me, my god, it had been so...

She yanked back. "What?" I yelped, then said, "Oh, right, I'm sorry - this is ridicu- "

"Shut Up!" she barked, and spun back and looked behind us. A car was coming down the hill towards us, fast, and by the time I was down too, and she had tucked her shirt back in and I had settled myself a little, a sedan had pulled up behind her car in a screech of braking.

"You get in your car right now and lock it," she barked at me without looking, very serious monotone, and I did just that. She walked back past my car towards hers. I heard voices, a male's, then hers, then louder, and what sounded like somebody hitting a car hood with their fist. I laid down over to my right, across into the passenger's seat. The emergency brake bit into my side and I put it down, holding my breath, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now. Her car had me blocked in with the curb in front, and I couldn't edge out of there without like a 10-point turnaround, if at all. Pup was in the back, alert. I was thinking I'd look up and -

BAM! Came an explosion. A goddamn gunshot. Holy crap. Pup yelped - he hates loud sounds - and I burrowed down again, freaked. It was silent for a minute, other than the murmur of a car idling away. It came to me that my car license had been checked into their computer already; it was known I'd been down here. After what seemed like a long time but was probably ten seconds came a tap on my window. I looked up, wondering if I was about to die, and it was her, with a big black pistol in hand. She motioned it, or rather me, up. I sat up, swallowed hard, still kinda wondering, and started to open my door.

"Don't get out of the car," she ordered, steely, staring. "Here's what you are gonna do. Pull out of here, head home, take side streets as much as you can. In about five minutes every squad car in the the city is gonna be bearing down here, spoiling for blood. You were here, I checked you out, you left. That's all. Go."

She walked back to her car, got in, pulled it forward enough for me to back straight out. I started mine, and did just that. The cop car was idling there, lights half on. What looked like a body was sprawled next to it, and as I turned my car away, my lights caught a cop uniform, and a puddle of dark liquid next to it. She was already in her car, head down.

I drove up and away from the beach, as she had instructed. My hands were shaking on their own but I could grip the wheel, very tight. I still tasted her on my lips. I felt around for what might be left of that beer. I didn't even know her name. Santa Claus didn't show that night.

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Stop wasting my time

You know what I want

You know what I need

Or maybe you don't


Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?

Gimme some money, gimme some money


I'm nobody's fool

I'm nobody's clown

I'm treating you cool

I'm putting you down


But baby, I don't intend to leave empty handed

Gimme some money, gimme some money


Don't get me wrong

Try getting me right

Your face is okay

But your purse is too tight


I'm looking for pound notes, loose change, bad checks, anything

Gimme some money, gimme some money

— The Thamesmen

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DO YOU WANT TO SEE a community center in our largely agricultural communities of Redwood Valley, Ukiah and Potter Valley? Learn about an organization founded in the 1860's to help farmers and foster community? The Redwood Valley Grange is joining several other granges in the county in renewing itself and we want to hear your interests and welcome your involvement. Come to a potluck (6:30 PM) and meeting (7 PM) on Thursday March 19 to have your voice heard and to learn what the Grange is up to. Whether advocating for small producers at the state level or bringing community breakfasts, films, a winter farmers' market, and your ideas to fruition, the Redwood Valley Grange is on the move, and the March 19 gathering is your opportunity to get in on the reimagining. The Grange is on the left (west) side of East Road, just a short way north of the Redwood Valley market and fire station, across from Road D. We hope to see you there! Questions? Bill Taylor or Jaye 272-1688, (Bill), (Jaye)

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FENCE - a 25 minute postmodern dance piece inspired by the Georgia-Pacific fence in Fort Bragg - will be performed on Saturday, March 21st on the new Fort Bragg Coastal Trail. We'll begin a procession at noon in the parking lot near Glass Beach. The performance will begin around 12:20PM at the end of the trail near Fort Bragg Landing.

Kochland DANCE-A-THON - in solidarity with NY events coordinated by the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change, EDC will be dancing the length of the Georgia-Pacific fence, tying any & every color ribbon around posts and planks as we go. We invite anyone and everyone who wants to see the fence come down and the land restored to join us.

Bring your ear-buds/phones and dance to music that moves YOU with like minded people who want to celebrate our beautiful bluffs.

We will be silent during the entire "happening".

DAY: Sunday, March 22nd

TIME: Noon

LOCATION: gather at the south end of the GP property/fence - across from the North Cliff Hotel 1005 S Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

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Due to popular demand, Willits library will be increasing the drop-in knitting circle from one Saturday per month to every Saturday. This event will now be held every Saturday from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM at the Willits Branch Library. Bring your projects to share and show off! We will have expert knitters on board who can solve any problems and teach everyone to knit! Bring your own projects – we’ll supply the coffee! Sign-ups are not necessary – everyone is welcome to drop in.

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WILDLIFE FILM FEST March 20 in Ukiah: River Shannon featured

Ireland's Shannon River featured in Wildlife Film Fest

Uganda's vanishing glaciers profiled in short

On Friday, March 20th , the award-winning "On a River in Ireland" will be featured at the International Wildlife Film Festival, playing at the Ukiah Civic Center at 101 Seminary Avenue. The evening starts at 6:15 pm with mellow bluesy rock by Kim Monroe. Films begin at 7 pm. Winner of the Best Cinematography Award at the IWFF in Missoula, Montana and the grand prize at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, "On a River in Ireland" (60 min.) follows Colin Stafford Johnson on a journey along the River Shannon, Ireland's greatest geographical landmark and the longest river in Ireland and Britain. For 340 kilometers, the river carves its way through the heart of the country, almost splitting it in two. On its journey, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes, where little-known backwater wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else in Ireland. The film follows the river from dawn to dusk over four seasons, capturing its ever-changing moors and exploring the countless waterways, islands, and lakes that make up the entire river system. Also playing: "Snows of the Nile" (20 min.). Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains rise 5000 meters from the heart of Africa. At their summits are some of Earth's only equatorial glaciers. But these "Mountains of the Moon," whose existence caused a sensation in Europe when they were first climbed in 1906, are changing fast. "Snows of the Nile" follows two scientist/photographers on an ambitious expedition to recapture historical glacier imagery taken by Vittorio Sella on the legendary 1906 expedition led by the Duke of Abruzzi in order to visualize the impacts of a century of climate change. The Wildlife Film Festival will play on consecutive Fridays through March 27. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. 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.

Roberta Werdinger

Writer, Publicist, Editor

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Less than two weeks after investor Mark Cuban warned us all that the Silicon Valley sky is getting ready to fall, another VC is making similar predictions: that the Bay Area is in a "risk bubble" and, when it pops, tech companies, companies that do business with those tech joints, and area real estate are all going to suffer.

This time the doomsayer is investor Bill Gurley, who has money in Uber, DropBox, SnapChat and co-working real-estate play WeWork, among others. Gurley, who's described with superlatives like "tech's most prominent investor" by various tech pubs, was speaking at SXSW when he made his predictions, and they aren't all that rosy. Some quotes:

“I don’t know that we are in a valuation bubble,” Gurley said. “We are taking on, in these startups, especially these so-called unicorns, a level of risk that we haven’t seen since 1999.” [Siliconhills]

There is no fear in Silicon Valley right now,” he said. “A complete absence of fear.” He added that more people are employed by money-losing companies in Silicon Valley than ever before. [Fortune]

Silicon Valley's optimism could lead to the death of so-called "unicorn" companies — startups that reach a $1 billion valuation before their IPO. Those companies could face a turn in the market in the near future. "I do think you'll see some dead unicorns this year," Gurley said. [Business Insider]

By some accounts, there are more than 50 of these billion-plus companies in the Valley at the moment, with more added seemingly every other week. [New York Times]

The number of tech unicorns is thought to have doubled in the past 12 months, with data from Digi-Capital showing that there are now more than ever before. In 2014 there were 68 unicorns in mobile internet companies alone, with a total value of around $261 billion. [Business Insider]

Burn rates, the amount of cash companies are losing every month to operate, are higher than they have ever been, Gurley said. [Siliconhills]

If the free flowing capital, which is driven by low interest rates, ever dries up, it will affect more than just money-losing startups... it will affect a number of companies whose revenue is increasingly reliant on spending by venture-backed startups. Take Facebook, for example. A significant portion of their income now comes from venture-backed apps that are spending heavily to promote app downloads within Facebook, Gurley said. “As you get more of these dependancies, it increases the likelihood that if anything slows we’ll have [problems],” Gurley said. [Fortune]

If there is indeed a collapse, Mr. Gurley says, it will not just be the tech industry that feels the pain. Real estate, for example, could take a hit. Home prices in the San Francisco Bay area have appreciated by 97 percent since January 2000, according to a study published by the Paragon Real Estate group. If the influx of tech industry wealth begins to dry up, Bay-area property owners will have to deal with the potential drop in prices. [New York Times]

This isn't the first time Gurley's pulled the bubble alarm: in a January Fortune report entitled "The Age of Unicorns," he said that "many" of these so-called unicorns were going to flame out this year, warning that “I think you’re going to see a lot of failure in 2015."

Some of these unicorns (I wish we could find a better term that "unicorn," any ideas?) will collapse under "their own overvalued weight," Gurley predicts, and others will die after the failure of one leads to a trickle-down financial pullback. Those of you who were around in 2000 might recall that era's collapsing companies and the resulting pullback panic, as VCs got scared and stopped handing out money to any fool who asked for it.

So is this a situation of those who don't recall history being doomed to repeat it? According to Gurley, yeah. Per Siliconhills, Gurley said that, "A number of entrepreneurs today don’t even remember the Dot Com bust of 2000."

"They were in 9th grade when that happened and the further they get away from that event, the more risk they are willing to take on."


* * *


by Dan Bacher

On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration.

The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah." The Pit River, Wintun, Karuk, Shasta and Modoc Nations hold the Medicine Lake Highlands sacred, and have used the region for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.

The Tribe and their supporters appeared at the hearing with their attorney, Deborah A. Sivas, Director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, in the case of the Pit River Tribe vs. US Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, & Calpine Corporation, Defendants-Appellees. The Tribe's supporters included the Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Save Medicine Lake Coalition, and Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment.

“The struggle to protect the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands has been a long one, but over the years, we have only learned more and more about the importance of the landscape to Native Americans and California more generally,” said Deborah Sivas, who represents the Tribe and environmental organizations in the lawsuit. “I was happy to see that the court understood our arguments that the Tribe has a deep, abiding connection to the area.”

"The judges asked really good questions and we are optimistic about the outcome,” said Morning Star Gali, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pit River Tribe. “At one point Calpine said that nobody had the authority except for themselves to challenge the leases. This showed total disregard for the Tribe's utilization of the sacred lake and highlands for over 10,000 years."

Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill said, "Medicine Lake is a sacred place and it needs to be protected at all costs. We’re trying to preserve our culture and Medicine Lake is part of the beginning of our people. If we allow these corporations to come in and frack, we could lose that chance to bring back that part of our culture. So we’re asking the Calpine Corporation to step back and leave the Medicine Lake Highlands alone.”

The event began at 7 am with a sunrise prayer vigil and ceremonial gathering at Yerba Buena Gardens near the courthouse. Gorrina Gould, Ohlone leader, started the vigil with a prayer to welcome people in Yalamu territory. That was followed by a prayer and song by Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and Radley and Louise Davis of the Pit River Tribe, according to Gali.

At around 8 am they began a "Protect Water and Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights March" from Yerba Buena Park to the James R. Browning US Courthouse and then held a rally with speakers and a song by Radley Davis outside the courthouse. The court hearing lasted from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM and was followed by a press conference on the steps of the courthouse immediately after the hearing.

Representatives of Native Nations and environmentalist supporters went before the U.S. Court of Appeals to argue their case that the energy leases were renewed illegally by federal agencies in 1998 for industrial development on national forest lands in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a near-pristine area about 30 miles northeast of Mount Shasta that has been designated a “Native American Traditional Cultural District.”

The Native American and environmental plaintiffs assert that industrial energy development would "desecrate and pollute" the beautiful area and pose unacceptable risks to California’s largest fresh water aquifer. They said that contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws, the federal agencies never evaluated the threshold question of whether industrial geothermal development is even appropriate for this landscape.

“What was never considered is whether development is even appropriate for the Medicine Lake Highlands in the first place, given the area’s high benefit in holding California’s largest pure underground aquifer," said Michelle Berditschevsky, senior conservation consultant for the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center.

Berditschevsky said the panel of three Ninth Circuit judges will take the case under advisement, and a decision can be expected within three to nine months, or perhaps even longer depending on the backlog of cases. To read her legal commentary, go to:

Medicine Lake is a small high mountain lake, located at an elevation of 6,680 feet, that lies within the Medicine Lake caldera, a depression near the summit of the Medicine Lake volcano. Medicine Lake offers boating, camping, fishing, hiking and swimming and other recreation. It is known for its abundant brook and rainbow trout that anglers pursue with an array of angling methods.

Five new geothermal power plant projects proposed by the Houston-based Calpine Corporation threaten to poison the waters of Medicine Lake, according to the Tribe and their supporters. A report by Dr. Robert Curry, a registered hydro-geologist and professor emeritus at the University of California-Santa Cruz, assessing the potential impacts of geothermal development suggests, “the processes that Calpine were trying to use, required chemicals to try and reach hot rock, as opposed to hot mud...were fairly experimental, probably inefficient, and would without doubt lead to contamination of the water supply.”

The Highlands are home to many unique plant and wildlife species that depend on clean water to survive. "Every day during the summer, bald eagles and osprey can be seen diving into Medicine Lake for fish. Deer pass through the campgrounds and occasionally an elk or black bear can be seen crossing one of the roads leading to the lake," said Gali.

“Geothermal development in the surrounding national forest would increase traffic, noise, water and air pollution and would fragment wildlife habitat, turning the remote landscape into an industrial wasteland and threatening a reliable source of pure water,” said Janie Painter, executive director of the Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment, consisting of Medicine Lake cabin owners and recreationalists.

Jason George, a certified Law student in the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, noted, "It was great to see such a big turnout by tribe members at the hearing. We were gratified to represent the tribe and fight for the future of the Medicine Lake Highlands in the 9th Circuit."

As California enters its fourth year of a record drought, the Medicine Lake Highlands hold tremendous and critical value as a water supply to California's fish, wildlife and people from the summit of the caldera to the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary.

Gali pointed out how the water from the aquifer travels from Medicine Lake and the Highlands to the Fall River, Pit River, Sacramento River and then finally to the imperiled San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary. "If Calpine is given the green light, this will definitely be a big detriment to the fish and the entire fragile ecosystem,” said Gali.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, commented, “The tribal attorneys did a fine job today. The questions the judge asked Calpine Energy forced their hand, and were quite direct. You know, these courts really weren’t built for us, for native peoples, yet we rely on them when development and economics override Mother Earth."

“If the Pit River Nation prevails, it will be a win for everyone in California. Somewhere there must be someone who can stand up for Mother Earth. As I took photos today of the children who traveled here with parents, I was praying that this fight would not continue in their lifetime,” added Chief Sisk.

A phone call to a Calpine spokesman regarding their stance on the Tribe's legal battle to protect Medicine Lake has not been returned.

The case proceeds through the courts as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the Peripheral Tunnels, considered by many to be the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history. The $67 billion plan will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, while imperiling the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.


  1. Rick Weddle March 17, 2015

    re: Army Corps of Engineers…

    Before you consider letting The Corps anywhere near your water resources, you might like to read “Dams and Other Disasters; A Century of the Corps of Engineers in Public Works,” by Arthur E. Morgan, first head of the TVA. A close-companion piece is “The Control of Nature,” by John McPhee (the section on Old River Control in particular)…and take yer vitamins, you’re gonna need ’em.

  2. Harvey Reading March 17, 2015

    “… people aren’t as hopelessly stupid as you seem to think they are.”

    Oh, but they are. The TV offerings, including the nooze, were never much to brag about.

  3. Jim Updegraff March 17, 2015

    About the time Jerry’s tunnels are finished we will be in our 40th year of a drought. The water at the end of the tunnel will be drip, drip and drip.

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