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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Mar 30, 2015

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TODAY, AT THE FORT BRAGG POLICE STATION MEETING ROOM, 3:00 p.m. the Fort Bragg leadership meets to go deep.

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FRANKLIN GRAHAM, as you can see from tonight's post (below), has been covering the MRC-Dead Standing Timber. He reports that the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the issue (effectively raised by the Albion Little River Fire Department) on April 21, 2015. “It has been reported that MRC intends to meet individually with each supervisor before the supervisors take up the issue in open forum,” adding, “it would be proper, perhaps even legal procedure (?), to insist that what is said by MRC behind closed doors to county elected officials should be made public before the April 21 Board of Supervisors meeting. It would be against public interest to withhold any information pertaining to this issue.”

WHY WOULD MRC want to meet individually with each supervisor prior to the meeting? Why would the Supervisors even agree to it? After all, if MRC simply wants to tout itself as the big improvement over Louisiana-Pacific that they insist they are, if they want to brag about all the wonderful things they’re doing for their forests, why not say it in public so that we all can hear it?

THE ONLY REASON MRC would want to meet privately is that MRC wants the Supervisors to know that there are things they could do or not do that might be negatively affected by how the Board reacts to the obvious fire hazard MRC is creating by hack and squirt chemical procedures. If we had Supervisors with functioning cojones, they’d make it clear — on the record themselves — that MRC is free to make any statements they want either in writing (and on the record) before the meeting, or during the meeting — just like anyone else.

BUT THEN MRC ISN’T “just anyone else,” are they?

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THURSDAY'S HEARING on the Old Coast Hotel conversion to a half-way house had been set for Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg. Judge Brennan recused himself for no stated reason that we've been able to find, but we would suppose it's because he'd rather not hear something this controversial. Mendo judges often avoid hot cases for political reasons, claiming conflicts so removed from anything having to do with their honors that it's invisible to the rest of us. It's odd that they duck the cases likely to make large numbers of people unhappy since most of them run unopposed or are opposed by someone who can't afford to campaign county-wide or is only known in his or her home town. Mendocino County's nine (9) judges enjoy lifetime jobs, not that that lush assurance makes them any less timid and, in our opinion, any more accountable to the public they allegedly serve.

SO, THE MATTER of the conversion of the Old Coast Hotel went over the hill to Ukiah to be heard last Thursday, and please note here how a judge from Ukiah could just as well driven over the hill to Fort Bragg if the County's Superior Court operated with the convenience of citizens as its first priority. (That grand day is unlikely to arrive in our lifetimes.) No, Fort Bragg had to go to the judge and Fort Bragg's $200-an-hour attorney, meaning for the convenience of two people the many residents of Fort Bragg interested in the case, and their Mendocino-based attorney, Rod Jones, had to make the five hour round trip to Ukiah for a matter that should have been heard by Judge Stoner Dude in FB.


(FORT BRAGG'S $200-an-hour San Francisco attorney, Samantha Zutler, gets to make the easier drive up 101 from SF to Ukiah rather than via Willits then over 20 to FB, although if she'd driven all the way out to the coast she could have racked up a night or two in a nice ocean-view room for a total one-hour court appearance payday of at least a cool thou. Ukiah is not the kind of town a yuppo Frisco lawyer wants to linger in no matter how much padding she or he can sew on to her bill. And no matter how extortionately large his or her billings are, the Fort Bragg City Council will fork right over. What the hell, Mayor Turner and his city manager say to themselves, it's not coming out of our pocket.)

THE ENTIRE COAST HOTEL matter ought to cause Fog Belters to get out their pitchforks and head for city hall. Boiled down, here's what this deal is: The Fort Bragg City Council is poised to sign off on a bloc grant  worth a $1.2 million in public money to pay most of that public money to a private individual, Mr. Carine, whose property will then be given free of charge for the benefit of another private individual, Mr. Ortner of Yuba City, and a Fort Bragg non-profit called Hospitality House. This transaction is being sold as in the public interest because its beneficiaries claim it will enable their ace therapists (all publicly-funded and who include a tai chi instructor) to make a half-dozen or so mental cases more or less functional again. There is no follow-up or anything even resembling transparency that might enable the public to see what kind of success the public is getting for all this lavishly compensated "compassion."

MENDOCINO COUNTY is spending over $15 million a year on mental health services, half that amount going to Mr. Ortner over in Yuba City and, as we can all see, no more drunks are committing slo-mo suicide on the streets of Mendocino County, the public crazies have all been enfolded in the loving embrace of Mr. Ortner and Mendocino County's helping professionals, and all the tweakers and terminal drug people are at last getting help getting off dope. The homeless, versions of all the above, have been housed.

ANYBODY who opposes this conversion of Coast Hotel in the center of Fort Bragg to a six-bed rehab center, anybody who holds out for REAL mental health programs, is denounced as heartless and a comprehensively bad person.

AFTER THE OLD COAST hearing in Ukiah last Thursday morning in Judge Henderson's courtroom, a battle of the press releases commenced. Opponents of the City's cockamamie plans to plop down a half way house in the center of town went to court to get a restraining order carefully explained that the judge had simply ruled that their request was premature given that the city council had not quite approved funding.

CONCERNED CITIZENS of Fort Bragg, via attorney Rod Jones, wanted a court order restraining the City of Fort Bragg from going ahead with the Old Coast deal for a lot of obvious reasons that amount to protection of the true public interest which, boiled down, is not represented by plunking a nebulous rehab program down in an historic and beautiful old structure in the middle of Fort Bragg.

EXCERPTED from Jones' comprehensive brief: … "Nowhere has the City sought to explain why this site was selected over the approximate twenty-plus other sites that MCHC claimed to have reviewed. Nowhere does the City analyze the cost-effectiveness of spending $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars that will only produce 5 additional rooms for emergency/transitional shelter when it has indicated the deficiency is as many as 20 needed rooms. Why a facility that offers the necessary number of rooms cannot be acquired for over a million dollars is not explained anywhere…"

THE UPSHOT of the hearing was that Henderson did not issue a restraining order because Fort Bragg had not yet completed the process for the $1.2 in federal grant money, “and it would be premature to try restraining the City presently.”

MAYOR TURNER managed to spin the ruling as a big win for him and the sagacity of the City's $200-an-hour lawyer. Turner did not attend Thursday's hearing. Whatever he knows about the judge's ruling he got from the attorney.

THE MAYOR was not only incorrect in his interpretation of what happened, having simply passed along the attorney's self-serving and misleading version of events, the pious Turner makes this patronizing statement at the conclusion of the City's incorrect press release: “Although I am pleased to have prevailed in court, I am saddened that a group calling themselves 'Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg' would waste our taxpayers money and Court time on a frivolous action that the Court pointed out several times was premature.”

THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG has since paid their SF attorney to seek sanctions against Jones and his clients for daring to oppose the City’s attempt to ramrod the Coast Hotel project through. That attorney, Samantha Zutler, filed a motion on behalf of Mayor Turner and his 3-2 City Council majority which conveniently ignores the extensive explanation Jones provided in his declaration about why he filed for the TRO. Legally, this is a legitimate matter for the court to decide and if anyone was outtaline it was Ms. Zutler who tried to threaten Jones into not filing. As Jones notes, the City effectively committed to the Coast Hotel when they approved the “forgivable loan” (i.e. grant/gift) for it so they could meet some kind of Community Block Grant deadline for this year or next. If they couldn’t find a way to spend the Grant this year, they’d lose it and the only building that was willing to come in for less than the grant amount was the Coast Hotel, which magically dropped their price just in time for the deal to be made in January. Now the City wants to pretend that they have not “acted” on the proposal? Preposterous.

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It seems obvious that a new method of determining water flows out of Lake Mendocino is needed and needed now.

The Sonoma County Water Agency, which regulates the flow from the Lake most of the time (except in flood stage which hasn’t been a problem since the drought kicked in hard) acknowledges that too much water is probably being drained from Lake Mendocino right now because of an almost 30-year-old rule, known as Decision 1610, that defines the weather conditions based on the water levels in Lake Pillsbury.

The relationship between Lake Pillsbury water and Lake Mendocino water no longer computes since there is far less water coming in to Lake Mendocino from Lake Pillsbury through the Potter Valley project (due to other government rules too long to get into).

The bottom line is that because of the old way of doing things, officially the water condition for Lake Mendocino right now is defined as “normal” even though the entire state of California has been in a drought emergency for several years.

Sonoma County Water Agency understands this and is working on submitting an exception to the rule to the state water board so that it can keep more water in Lake Mendocino this year.

We think that’s fine, but it seems to us that a permanent fix is needed. Our county, Sonoma County and our state reps — who are no doubt well aware of this problem — should push hard on the state’s water board to either give Sonoma County Water Agency more flexibility to decide what’s an emergency, or dump the old Rule 1610 for something that makes sense during a drought.

(From Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal)

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AT THE LAST AV TEEN CENTER BOARD MEETING, Coordinator Dan Angulo provided more details about the upcoming SoCal Tour-Trip-Adventure. Angulo now has a more detailed itinerary along a handout containing contact info, items to bring, recommendations for food and spending money and the rules: no tobacco, drugs or alcohol, and consequences if they’re violated: i.e., fly home at parents’ expense. Everything is paid for in advance except the Universal Studio tour and the charter bus. Almost all students have paid their individual fees. Chaperones are lined up: Ana Alvarez, Gabi Franco, Rodolfo Ibarra, Marcela Mendoza y Daniel. Meals will be prepared in the Hostel. They will leave on April 4 at 3pm from the High School, layover in Sacramento, take the Greyhound to LA, then return by similar reverse route on April 8.

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Can Common Sense Prevail?

by Franklin Graham

Ted R. Williams has written an inspired letter to the Board of Supervisors concerning the danger posed by dead tanoaks on Mendocino Redwood Company's timberlands in the county.

As a result, it is reported that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has set aside 90 minutes to discuss, as an agenda item, the concerns Mr. Williams has raised.

The meeting is scheduled for April 21, 2015. It has been reported that MRC intends to meet individually with each supervisor before the supervisors take up the issue in open forum. It would be proper, perhaps even legal procedure (?), to insist that what is said by MRC behind closed doors to county elected officials should be made public before the April 21 Board of Supervisors meeting. It would be against public interest to withhold any information pertaining to this issue.

That Mr. Williams, as Fire Chief for the Albion Fire District, has succeeded in getting the Supervisors to respond is in itself inspired.

Earlier this year, on January 29, 2015, Chief Williams and the Albion Community did reach an agreement with MRC regarding the planned Timber Harvest Plan for Railroad Gulch (THP#1-14-080-MEN). That is, MRC has agreed not to use herbicides for seven years from the THP approval date, has agreed to a two-year harvest period, has agreed to conduct all road work within the specified area in the first year, and had agreed to supply Albion's Firefighters with maps and tours of the area. The letter of agreement was signed by John Anderson, MRC’s Director Forest Operations.

Of course, finding common ground regarding one harvest plan does not address the much larger issue of existing dead tanoak stands. That is the most important immediate fire and safety issue to be resolved.

While the fire dangers Mr. Williams raises are the immediate focus of concern, it is his touching on the matter of rights and limitations regarding property that also go to the core of the matter. It is just such linkage, that of the dangers fire poses to property and persons that may at last open a path towards an understanding that the community-at-large does indeed have a stake in how Mendocino County timberlands are managed.

The entire community is at risk when timber operations cause thousands of acres of timberlands to become a threat to lives and property beyond their defined holdings. The threat of thousands of acres of dead standing tanoaks is real, not imagined. Some few may argue that nature itself is a threat, or global warming, or careless individuals.

No such threats, however, directly relate to the willful decision to "reform" cut-over timber acreage by killing thousands of acres of standing trees and waiting for nature to bring them down or for a dry lightning storm to set MRC timberland and nearby communities on fire.

Mendocino Redwood Company is quite adept at making its case that it is a better "steward" than former owners. MRC claims to set aside selected "old growth" trees, increase the total volume of timber on its holdings, undertake habitat restoration projects, repair roads, retire some old logging roads, reduce sediment in streams, and promote increases in carbon sequestration overall. All that is to the good.

But, none of these proclaimed good practices directly addresses the policy of killing tens of thousands of acres of tanoaks, leaving them standing as a fire hazard, and waiting for the danger to pass.

It is the danger that dead standing trees pose that is at the heart of Chief Williams’ letter to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Williams notes that half his district's 44 square miles is zoned as forest lands. As Fire Chief, he is in the best position to know what dangers are posed by large tracts of dead standing trees (tanoaks).

Last fall (11/14/2014) Mr. Williams wrote to CalFire expressing his concerns. He again raised his concerns on February 5, 2015, asking, Does CalFire evaluate fire risk in examining THPs (Timber Harvest Plans). No reply was forthcoming. If not CalFire, then what agency does consider the risks?

When Mr. Williams stated that intense harvests increase the amount of "unwanted species" on timberlands, thus posing a severe fire risk, CalFire's response, if I understand Mr. Williams correctly, is “dead trees burn the same as live trees.” On the face of it, no one at CalFire should believe that is true, let alone suggest such a blatantly false premise.

The next time CalFire shows up on any private person's property to inspect their "defensible space" that must be cleared, ask CalFire: "Do the same rules that apply to my property also apply to company timberlands? Does California Public Resource Code 4291 apply to all forested properties?"

If any reply is forthcoming, will it be anything other than evasive "double speak"? Let's not be polemic about it, but the subject cannot help but engender more than a modicum of skepticism.

In support of his concerns, Mr. Williams cites an excerpt by J. Morgan Varner, a fire ecology expert, quoted in "Humboldt Scientists Pinpoint Acute Forest Fire Threat (Humboldt State Now, May 6, 2010). The energy released is so great you can't combat (crown fires) with standard firefighting practices. You have to move back, and let them die down." And, "Once a tree turns brown, we know it has really low foliage moisture content and it is likely to be ignited." It is in a phrase, an "unnatural fuel arrangement(s)."

Mr. Williams characterizes such a danger as a public nuisance. He believes property rights exist on both sides of the line. And so the issue is joined. It matters little whether the 90,000 or so acres to date of timberlands with dead tanoaks is a result of SOD (sudden oak death) or the use of an herbicide (Imazapyr), the result is the same, an out of control fire storm could be just waiting to happen. And, if it does happen, where will the blame be attributed? Is it due to global warming? Dry lighting? Plant disease? Herbicide Use? Human carelessness?

Whatever the cause of the next fire, one thing is certain: Prudent actions taken now, rather than later, will lessen the risks due to human interference with the natural cycle of regeneration of forest lands. To permit short-sighted, short-term profit motives to trump longer-term wise practices is in no one's interests, not individuals or corporations.

One recent fire incident will serve to put the risks into clear focus. According to a California Department of Forestry New Relief by Ernie Roht, September 22, 2003, a lightning storm ignited 59 fires in the King Range, Humboldt County. Before it was over, Shelter Cove was threatened and some of the fires burned for a month. The Canoe Fire alone scorched 11,200 acres. The Honeydew Fire scorched 13,778 another acres. The cost of fire suppression for this complex of fires cost at least $34,000,000. CalFire determined that this incident was the largest in Humboldt County since 1950. As troubling as the damage this fire complex caused is the conclusion that the frequency of lightning fires is rising. Similarities with what happened in the summer of 2008 in Mendocino County are clear.

A second example that serves to bring the issue of dead tanoaks into focus is to be found in the National Science Foundation report of August 21, 2013, Fire and Infectious Disease. The first thing that caused concern was the spread of sudden oak death (SOD) in California coastal forests. Plant pathologist David Rizzo (University of California-Davis) and his colleagues monitored 80,000 hectares of forest near Big Sur (tanoak, bay laurel, coast redwoods). In 2008, almost half of the test plots were burned, the fires lasting more than a month. They had expected the study area to be "fireproof": "Usually resistant to the effects of wildfires, California coastal redwoods are now burning as fast as other trees."

Why is this the case? The study found that a) redwood mortality risk is four times greater in SOD plots studied, b) dead tanoaks created more fuel for wildfires from fallen branches and leaf matter, c) the loss of shade dried out the forest, d) the pathogen involved in SOD, Phytopthora ramorum, has infected at least 45 genera of plants.

This report makes no bones about the risks to redwoods, calling the situation, extending for 435 miles of coastline, a "tinderbox." Indeed, the Basin Complex Fire alone, caused by lightning, burned 95,000 hectares. The Chalk Fire another 16,000.

At the end of my last article on the fire dangers the community faces (AVA-3/18/2015) a simple question was asked: "Will MRC engage the community-at-large in seeking solutions that all sides can accept and live with?"

No one can say that MRC avoids contact with members of the community. The agreement reached on January 29, 2015, with Albion Watershed is an example of engagement, albeit a small one. It is true that every change MRC makes to satisfy community concerns will come at some cost to it. The cost to MRC could cut into short-term profits.

There it is, then, every change in current timber management practices is likely to come at some cost to the for profit company. But, and it is a big qualifier, there are also long term savings, and greater profit, to be had by accepting changes that improve forest health and the safety of the communities embedded in the forests of Mendocino County. One fire, just one, that is ignited by lightning and fed by dead standing tanoaks could wipe out any profits to MRC for years to come.

Along with its lost profits, in all likelihood, private properties, community infrastructures, firefighters and residents’ lives, years of restoration efforts, streams, fish and wildlife habitat, tourist visits could all be put in jeopardy. Are such potential losses worth the risks?

Permit the writer a final observation. The challenge that the community must face head-on is the concept of property. We all live in a world built on the bedrock foundation of property. All other values have been secondary to the concept of property and the rights to it for thousands of years. History tells us that property has been understood to be more valuable than people because it can be acquired, owned, used, disposed of at will.

Aldo Leopold, as far back as 1948, made this point poignantly clear in his monumental book, A Sand County Almanac: "When Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his household whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence. This hanging involved no question of impropriety. The girls were, in a word, property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong." (p.201, Oxford University Press edition)

What we have come to recognize as the Abrahamic concept of property extends to land. In Aldo's terms "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man…" (p.128)

As I re-read Aldo Leopold's book, I sit looking out on the battered vestiges of over 3,000 years of deforestation of the island of Sicily. Odysseus, returning from the Trojan War landed here and walked into the great Oak forests that once graced the island. Like so many others who came and went, he was in search of gain and had no intention of becoming a "citizen" of the island. He went away no wiser or better for having been there. He had no land ethic. All the would-be empires of the Mediterranean invaded Sicily. They came, they saw the great forests, cut them down for profit and for building navies with which to invade other nations. Again, none of the invaders possessed a land ethic.

In place of the great forests, the substance and texture of the Sicilian land was forever altered. Such transformation was not for the benefit of the native inhabitants or the land from which they drew their sustenance and sense of place (their land ethic). The powerful who exploited the land saw their destinies elsewhere. If timberland interests (not MRC alone) are to remain part of the fabric of Mendocino life, it is in their best interests (as well as long-term profit and sustainable practices) to seek agreement with the community-at-large as to what the future holds for the forests of Mendocino County. The unifying principle upon which timber interests and the community can unite must, in a word, be land based, a land ethic that benefits and sustains the people, the land, and "propertied" interests.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 29, 2015

Ammerman, Cabrera-Rodriguez, Crawford, Disomma
Ammerman, Cabrera-Rodriguez, Crawford, Disomma

MORGAN AMMERMAN, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

PEDRO CABRERA-RODRIGUEZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Sale, transport, furnish pot.

CHARLIE CRAWFORD, Reno/Covelo. Suspended license, probation revocation.

TRISTEN DISOMMA, Ukiah. Petty theft.

Frease, Hoaglin, Lords, Maynard
Frease, Hoaglin, Lords, Maynard

MANUEL FREASE, Covelo. Probation revocation.

KEISHA HOAGLIN, Covelo. Possession of smoking/inhaling device.

JOSHUA LORDS, Post Falls, Idaho/Elk. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, no license, fake ID.

ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Neagle, Pelkey, Redfern
Neagle, Pelkey, Redfern

RICHARD NEAGLE, Willits. Drunk in public.

MICHAEL PELKEY, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

PHOEBE REDFERN, Willits. Pot cultivation with prior strike.

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by Dick Meister

I hope we can all pause and reflect on the extraordinary life of a true American hero on Tuesday (March 31). It's Cesar Chavez Day, proclaimed by President Obama and observed throughout the country on the 88th birth date of the late founder of the United Farm Workers union. It's an official state holiday in California, Texas and Colorado.

As President Obama has noted, Chavez was a leader in launching "one of our nation's most inspiring movements." He taught us, Obama added, "that social justice takes action, selflessness and commitment. As we face the challenges of the day, let us do so with the hope and determination of Cesar Chavez."

Like another American hero, Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez inspired and energized millions of people worldwide to seek and win basic human rights that had long been denied them, and inspired millions of others to join the struggle.

Certainly there are few people in any field more deserving of special attention, certainly no one I've met in more than a half-century of labor reporting.

CesarChavezI first met Cesar Chavez when I was covering labor for the San Francisco Chronicle. It was on a hot summer night in 1965 in the little San Joaquin Valley town of Delano, California. Chavez, shining black hair trailing across his forehead, wearing a green plaid shirt that had become almost a uniform, sat behind a makeshift desk topped with bright red Formica.

"Si se puede," he said repeatedly to me, a highly skeptical reporter, as we talked deep into the early morning hours there in the cluttered shack that served as headquarters for him and the others who were trying to create an effective farm workers union.

"Si se puede! — it can be done!"

But I would not be swayed. Too many others, over too many years, had tried and failed to win for farm workers the union rights they absolutely had to have if they were to escape the severe economic and social deprivation inflicted on them by their grower employers.

The Industrial Workers of the World who stormed across western fields early in the 20th century, the Communists who followed, the socialists, the AFL and CIO organizers — all their efforts had collapsed under the relentless pressure of growers and their powerful political allies.

I was certain this effort would be no different. I was wrong. I had not accounted for the tactical brilliance, creativity, courage and just plain stubbornness of Cesar Chavez, a sad-eyed, disarmingly soft-spoken man who talked of militancy in calm, measured tones, a gentle and incredibly patient man who hid great strategic talent behind shy smiles and an attitude of utter candor.

Chavez grasped the essential fact that farm workers had to organize themselves. Outside organizers, however well intentioned, could not do it. Chavez, a farm worker himself, carefully put together a grass-roots organization that enabled the workers to form their own union, which then sought out — and won — widespread support from influential outsiders.

The key weapon of the organization, newly proclaimed the United Farm Workers, or UFW, was the boycott. It was so effective between 1968 and 1975 that 12 percent of the country's adult population — that's 17 million people — quit buying table grapes.

The UFW's grape boycott and others against wineries and lettuce growers won the first farm union contracts in history in 1970. That led to enactment five years later of the California law — also a first — that requires growers to bargain collectively with workers who vote for unionization. And that led to substantial improvements in the pay, benefits, working conditions and general status of the state's farm workers. Similar laws, with similar results, have now been enacted elsewhere.

The struggle that finally led to victory was extremely difficult for the impoverished workers, and Chavez risked his health — if not his life — to provide them extreme examples of the sacrifices necessary for victory. Most notably, he engaged in lengthy, highly publicized fasts that helped rally the public to the farm workers' cause and that may very well have contributed to his untimely death in 1993 at age 66.

Fasts, boycotts. It's no coincidence that those were the principal tools of Mohandas Gandhi, for Chavez drew much of his inspiration from the Hindu leader. Like Gandhi and another of his models, Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez fervently believed in the tactics of non-violence. Like them, he showed the world how profoundly effective they can be in seeking justice from even the most powerful opponents.

"We have our bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons," Chavez explained.

His iconic position has been questioned by some outsiders who clqim that acted as a dictator in his last years as head of the UFW. But what the UFW accomplished under his leadership, and how the union accomplished it, will never be forgotten — not by the millions of social activists who have been inspired and energized by the farm workers' struggle, nor by the workers themselves.

Chavez deservedly remains, and undoubtedly will always remain, an American icon who led the way to winning important legal rights for farm workers. But more than union contracts, and more than laws, farm workers now have what Cesar Chavez insisted was needed above all else. That, as he told me so many years ago, "is to have the workers truly believe and understand and know that they are free, that they are free men and women, that they are free to stand up and fight for their rights."

Freedom. No leader has ever left a greater legacy. But the struggle continues. Despite the UFW victories, farm workers are in great need of fully exercising the rights won under Chavez' leadership. They need to reverse what has been a decline in the UFW's fortunes in recent years, caused in part by lax enforcement of the laws that granted farm workers union rights.

Many farm workers are still mired in poverty, their pay and working and living conditions a national disgrace. They average less than $10,000 a year and have few — if any — fringe benefits. They suffer seasonal unemployment.

Job security is rare, as many of the workers are desperately poor immigrants from Mexico or Central America who must take whatever is offered or be replaced by other desperately poor workers from the endless stream of immigrants. Child labor is rampant.

Most hiring and firing is done at the whim of employers, many of them wealthy corporate growers or labor contractors who unilaterally set pay and working conditions and otherwise act arbitrarily.

Workers are often exposed to dangerous pesticides and other serious health and safety hazards that make farm work one of the country's most dangerous occupations. They often even lack such on-the-job amenities as fresh drinking water and field toilets, and almost invariably are forced to live in overcrowded, seriously substandard housing.

Cesar Chavez Day should remind us of the continuing need to take forceful legal steps and other action in behalf of farm workers — to help them overcome their wretched conditions and finally provide a decent life for all those who do the hard, dirty and dangerous work that puts fruit and vegetables on our tables.

We need, in short, to carry on what Cesar Chavez began. We could pay no greater homage to his memory.

Copyright © 2015 Dick Meister, a long time labor journalist who co-authored "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers" (Macmillan). He can be reached at or

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by Juan José Millás


Look. This is what remains of a city after it is bombed: like an ossuary exposed by an earthquake.  It’s difficult to think that behind the walls that are still standing there were once sofas, dining room tables, kitchen utensils, televisions, chairs, radios, perhaps books and school notebooks with sums, remainders, octahedrons, isosceles triangles, or other things.

One wonders whether in what remains of  the passageways and rooms one can still recognize the smells of normal existence, the scents of vegetable soup, roast chicken, the soaps and detergents that were used when life palpitated in those spaces.  Also whether some aspect of the old syntax survived the attacks, whether one could still walk through the interiors of these shells and recognize the bedrooms or the bathroom, whether among the rubble still flutter photographs from family albums, snapshots of weddings, celebrations, faces of the newly born.

The Kurdish militiaman in the foreground of the image, who observes the panorama from a terraced roof — does he wonder whether the civilian population that in another time lived normal lives there below him found refuge somewhere?  Whether there is such a thing as “normal lives”?  Did they leave the Syrian city of Kobane, as it was called, with their mattresses and frying pans on their backs?  What happened to the old people, the babies, the pregnant women, their young people?

The gaze of the militiaman is returned by hundreds or thousands of black holes that recall empty eye sockets scooped out heartlessly by knives.

(Courtesy, El Pais Semanal. Translated by Louis Bedrock.)

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THE THING that makes a boycott of Indiana so easy because of this awful bill [Governor] Pence signed is that no one really wants to go there anyway. And everyone I know who lives there is trying to get out. Indiana is a place you have to go through or fly over to get somewhere desirable (i.e., Not Indiana). It’s part of that drive from hell from Columbus to Indiana where you don’t have to turn the steering wheel for hours and find yourself singing to yourself, holding your eyes open ala A Clockwork Orange, and just basically doing anything to stay the hell awake so you can get out of the god damned state. The icing on the cake of the trip is Indiana’s parting gift, Gary, the sweaty, dirty armpit of middle America, a drive through which is like running into a truck-sized pothole full of industrial smog, baked bean farts and indiscriminate gun fire.

(Balloon Juice)

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There must be some way out of here

Said the joker to the thief

There’s too much confusion

I can’t get no relief


Businessmen, they drink my wine

Plowmen dig my earth

None of them along the line

Know what any of it is worth


No reason to get excited

The thief, he kindly spoke

There are many here among us

Who feel that life is but a joke


But you and I, we’ve been through that

And this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now

The hour is getting late


All along the watchtower

Princes kept the view

While all the women came and went

Barefoot servants too


Outside in the distance

A wildcat did growl

Two riders were approaching

The wind began to howl

— Bob Dylan

* * *


* * *

ON MONDAY, March 30, from 1-2 p.m., Pacific Time, KMEC Radio will host two 30--minute shows.

Our first show will air from 1:00-1::30 p.m., Pacific Time, and is called,  "Afghanistan: The Fiction of Sovereign Government and the U.S. Funding of an Endless War of Attrition”.

Our guest is Sonali Kolhatkar.


Two weeks ago, the New York Times reported: “President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan is expected to urge President Obama in a White House meeting on Tuesday not to pull American military forces out of his country as quickly as planned, requesting an extension of assistance in combating a tenacious Taliban insurgency.”

Now the New York Times reports," President Obama’s on Tuesday announced he has decided to maintain troop levels in Afghanistan through 2015. The plan is partly designed to bolster American counterterrorism efforts in that country, including the Central Intelligence Agency’s ability to conduct secret drone strikes and other paramilitary operations from United States military bases.

"Specifically, Obama will leave 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan until at least the end of the year. The announcement came after a daylong White House meeting with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan. Obama and Ghani said the decision was a necessary response to the expected springtime resurgence of Taliban aggression and the need to give more training to the struggling Afghan security forces.

"But American officials are saying that a significant part of the deliberations on the pace of the withdrawal had been focused on the need for the C.I.A. and military special operations forces to operate out of two large military bases: Kandahar Air Base in southern Afghanistan and a base in Jalalabad, the biggest city in the country’s east. Reducing the military force by half from its current level, as planned, would have meant closing the bases and relocating many of the C.I.A.’s personnel and its contractors."


Kolhatkar is co-author of "Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence"and is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a US-based non-profit solidarity organization that funds the social, political, and humanitarian projects of the Revoluutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. (RAWA).


See alsoo:

Sonali Kolhatkar is also the host and producer of KPFK Pacifica’s popular morning drive time program. "Uprising", based in Los Angeles, California.


Our second show will air from 1:30-2:00 p.m.. Pacific Time.

We're calling the show, "Conservatives and Progressives Team Up for Surveillance State Repeal Act". Our guest is Shahid Buttar.


The Daily Caller reports in “House Revives Bill To Completely Repeal The Patriot Act, Dismantle NSA Spying,” that: “Some of the strongest reforms to the U.S. national security apparatus ever introduced in Congress were revived Tuesday by a pair of congressmen in the House of Representatives.

“Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan and Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie announced in a press release their intention to reintroduce the Surveillance State Repeal Act — a bill first introduced following the Snowden leaks in 2013 that would completely repeal the Patriot Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, as well as introduce reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

“The bill would legally dismantle the National Security Agency’s most aggressive surveillance programs, including the bulk collection and retention of virtually all Americans’ landline phone records justified under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The repeal of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act would also prevent the agency from tapping the physical infrastructure of the Internet, such as undersea fiber cables, to intercept ‘upstream’ data in bulk, which critics including the ACLU claim the NSA uses to collect data on Americans.”


Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) , Buttar spoke at a briefing last week at the Capitol on this subject. He said: “The Surveillance State Repeal Act, HR 1466, represents a profound challenge by members of Congress from across the political spectrum fed up with the national security establishment and its continuing assault on our Constitution.

Buttar continued, “Most policymakers forget the 9/11 commission’s most crucial finding: the intelligence community’s failures that enabled the 9/11 attacks were not failures of limited data collection, but rather failures of data sharing and analysis. Over the last 15 years, Congress has allowed the agencies to expand their collection capacities, solving an imaginary problem while creating a host of real threats to U.S. national security far worse than any act of rogue violence: the specter of state omniscience, immune from oversight and accountability, and thus vulnerable to politicization.

“This was among the fears of which President Eisenhower warned us in his farewell address.”

Shahid Buttar is a constitutional lawyer, grassroots organizer, electronic musician, and executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He leads BORDC's efforts to restore civil liberties, constitutional rights, and rule of law principles undermined by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Shahid graduated from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and a teaching assistant for Constitutional Law. Since then, his comments have been featured by news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, The Intercept, CNN, al-Jazeera, FOX News, and Agence-France Presse.


KMEC Radio airs at  105.1 FM in Ukiah, California. We broadcast from the Mendocino Environmental Center.

We also stream live from the web at:

KMEC Radio archives its shows. Many shows are also available at Youtube or as podcasts.

We are an all-volunteer station and Mendocino County's community radio.

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