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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Apr 11, 2015

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JUDGE RICHARD HENDERSON opened Friday morning’s frost fan hearing with the usual attempt at a fair-minded introduction: “I know that many of you in the courtroom this morning are here because you’re lives have been disrupted by the noise of these vineyard fans…” At that point in the hearing the majority of three dozen or so attendees in the courtroom were obvious members of the County’s vast wine industry, including Potter Valley grape grower and Second District Supervisor Carre Brown. Before Judge Henderson even reached the other side of his introduction, the wine people replied in unison, “NOOOOOOoooo.” Plaintiff Mark Scaramella later commented, “It was dramatic, to be sure, but not that loud — I don’t think they violated the County’s noise ordinance.” (After the big “NOOOOooooo,” Judge Henderson continued, “And I know there are many of you here who think your livelihoods are at stake.” Which was an exaggeration, of course, but at least didn’t engender a big “YESSSSSSSsssssss” from the growers.)

Judge Henderson
Judge Henderson

JUDGE HENDERSON then said he’d read the filings and written a “tentative opinion” and asked the parties to comment on his tentative opinion. Everybody looked at everybody else. “What tentative opinion? Is there a tentative opinion?” Apparently the judge’s distribution network had hit a snag. A recess was called while his court staff quickly copied off the opinion.

In a nutshell, the opinion says that Scaramella’s request for a temporary (short-term) injunction is denied because there is no documentation on the record demonstrating that the decibel levels cited in the County’s noise ordinance have been exceeded.

Henderson, also ruled (tentatively, and narrowly) that since Scaramella had (effectively) claimed a zoning ordinance violation then the County’s so-called “Right to Farm” ordinance didn’t apply either way.

Henderson essentially allowed that Scaramella could proceed in a future request for injunction or amended complaint if he (Scaramella) could demonstrate that the decibel levels in the noise ordinance had been exceeded by his neighbor’s fans.

After the hearing Scaramella issued the following formal statement about the case:

“Contrary to what some in the wine industry and County officials continue to say, we are NOT and have never been opposed to vineyard frost protection. We understand the need and we are quite aware of the drought conditions that lead to the recent upswing in fan installations and we are happy with the reduced water consumption that fan-based frost protection generates.

“We simply think that the fans, when near residences, should be quieter so that neighbors can sleep. These large, permanent fans are much louder than other common farm noises and growers have an obligation to take steps to reduce the noise in those cases. There are a number of steps available to do just that -- such as quieter fan blades, lower operating speeds, different positions, sound barriers, and alternative commercially available forst protection methods (such as the patented and less expensive Cold Air Drains already in effective use in a number of Anderson Valley vineyards) which could be considered to reduce the helicopter level of noise suffered by neighbors of vineyards with permanent fan installations.

“As regards the judge's view that decibel levels should be determined, we agree. Although we note that at no time in the opposition filings by the County or the neighbors did they dispute our position that the fans are way too loud. In fact, we have no doubt that reliable decibel measurements will support our case.

“But that responsibility and capability lies with the County. If the County wants to designate me to make arrangements for legally admissible decibel testing for them, I'm willing to discuss it. It would obviously require more than just a private citizen wondering around wherever, whenever with a decibel meter, and would require the cooperation of my neighboring grape growers/fan users.

“Although the judge denied our request for the temporary injunction (which was filed early specifically to try to deal with the problem before the 2015 frost season began or was over), he clearly ruled that we can proceed with the suit and that the so-called "right to farm" question is not under consideration given the nature of our request to deal with the problem via the permit process.

“In other words, it's not what we wanted, but it's more than we expected.

“Also, although Judge Henderson wasn't inclined to take judicial note of it, please note that the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association essentially agrees with our position that the issue should be dealt with via permit conditions:

“Specifically (middle of page 1), "Mendocino County is the only county in California to require a permit for the installation of wind machines. They take into account placement, noise and need when considering the application."

“Unfortunately, as County Counsel Doug Losak told the judge this morning, the County at present only evaluates the pad and the wiring on wind fan permit applications. (Although there are some separate but unverified indications that they do more than that.)

“But we agree with the AV Winegrowers that taking noise into account in processing individual wind fan permits is, conceptually, the same thing we are seeking in court. It's unfortunate that we have to go through all this legal rigamarole for something we seem to agree on, simply because the County of Mendocino, and specifically our District Supervisor Mr. Dan Hamburg, refuses to deal with this serious, widespread problem.

“Thanks, Mark Scaramella, Boonville”

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DOUGLAS STEWART, "Secretary of the Anderson Valley Wine Growers Association and a winegrower for Lichen Estates" (formerly Breggo, formerly the Rawles Ranch), a vineyard and winery in Anderson Valley, told KMUD's Christina Aanestad on Thursday that Mark Scaramella's attempt to quiet the vineyard fans “is a bunch of hooey. It's much like the sound of a tractor in the middle of the night. People spray in the middle of the night with their tractors. Tractors are loud. People who are in rural areas — they chose to live next to a farm and farms have some things that are great about them. They are beautiful to look at and they produce wonderful things but they also sometimes have noise. And yes, noise can be a nuisance but it's something that is part and parcel of being next to a farm in my view. If we have frost and we don't protect against it we do not have crops and so there are only a couple of ways to protect against frost. One of them is water. And we have been getting hammered as an industry for using too much water or for using water at all and this is an alternative to water and we are getting hammered for this. And in my view it's one thing or the other or we cease to exist as an industry and we cease to provide jobs. We cease to have families. We go to school here and pay taxes here so in my mind, this is — it's critical."

THE WINE BRIGADE'S position, as expressed by this particular hysteric: "We do what we do. Complaints threaten our existence."

"THE SOUND OF A TRACTOR in the middle of the night is comparable to frost fans." Not even close. Frost fans are much louder, much much louder. Vineyard neighbors, including AVA staffers, have snoozed right on through the minor racket of the occasional late night-early morning tractor emits for a fairly short amount of time, just as we were able to ignore the nutty pest-fighting strategy of simulated gun fire, the latter a day time noise.

WE "CHOSE to live next to a farm." Wrong. Everyone who has lived in the Anderson Valley for more than two years was here before the frost fans were installed. The wine industry is not farming. It's a highly industrial process.

"WATER and fans are the only ways to protect grapes from frost." Wrong again. There are quieter fans and related frost protection technology that would not disturb vineyard neighbors. In the Anderson Valley this year, vineyard ponds are full to overflowing, thanks to the late rains.

"WE PAY TAXES HERE." Everyone pays taxes. This guy seems to think because his industry is dominant in Mendocino County that it's exempt from ordinary standards of civility.

AT THIS MORNING'S hearing, one of the industry's attorneys again suggested that the plaintiff, Scaramella, check into a motel on frost nights. Scaramella's attorney, Rod Jones, wondered if the industry was prepared to buy overnight accommodations for all the people disturbed by frost fan noise.

A BUNCH of Anderson Valley vineyards have not installed frost fans. Lots of Anderson Valley people grumble privately about frost fan noise but are reluctant to complain publicly. Non-wine industry property owners in the Anderson Valley don't seem to have yet realized that the value of their property has been reduced.

IN AN AVA EXCLUSIVE, plaintiff Scaramella told the Boonville media late Friday afternoon that inviting him to abandon his home and his cats for x-number of nights in distant Ukiah was unreasonable on its face. He did say, however, he would agree to "a remodel of my home along the lines of Marcel Proust's cork-lined bedroom. Marcel never lost a night's sleep to noise."

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ED NOTE: Ms. Anderson's statement that frost fans have been idle for years is untrue. The fans were not in place until last year. They are newly introduced. The judge, of course, buys whole the assertion by the industry that it's either destroy the nighttime peace of a thousand of so residents or "millions of dollars in losses." Some Anderson Valley vineyards have not installed frost fans. As one of the non-frost fan growers put it, "We can lose some grapes to frost, but it would be wicked, consecutive frost mornings that would wipe out the whole year's yield. That hasn't happened here."

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California’s Drought & Water Competition

by Shepherd Bliss

Sonoma County, Northern California — “California Puts Mandatory Curbs on Water Use” reports the April 2 New York Times long article at the top of the front-page. “Steps to Confront Record-Setting Drought,” the sub-headline reads. The article describes Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order—California’s first time restricting water use.

A 25% reduction of water use over the next year is required of residents, golf courses, cemeteries, and many businesses. But wait. “Owners of large farms…will not fall under the 25% guideline.”

Agricultural enterprises can continue to dig deep wells into our common water table and extract as much of our limited water supply as they want, for free. This includes vineyards. It takes around 30 gallons of water to make one glass of wine. That results in extensive water use by an industry that has an agricultural component but is mainly an industrial, commercial bottling operation, often in a rural area zoned for other things. This sounds like a double standard.

“California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?” a recent Los Angeles Times article asks. Many residents have been rationing. We’re still waiting for answers to this question from large wineries.

The Sierra Nevada’s 400-mile mountain range reveals the seriousness of the problem. California’s largest reservoir holds an average of 15 million acre-feet of water, providing 30% of the water for farms and cities. It’s been four years since the snowpack was normal. The current estimate for 2015 is 8% of capacity, the only time it has been a single digit.

Why should residents conserve water when the large wineries here in Sonoma County and neighboring Napa County are able to extract as much water as they want, without paying for it or having to conserve it? Different rules apply to different folks.

“Experts say ag exception may defeat program,” reads an Associated Press headline. “Some water experts and economists are dubious the crackdown will succeed. Brown’s order exempts agriculture, which consumes 80% of all the water that Californians use,” the AP article notes.

In A Time Of Scarcity

“In times of scarcity, human nature is to do one’s share if you think others are making similar sacrifices,” the AP story quotes Jonas Minton, a former senior state water official. Big Wine does not do its fair share of making sacrifices.

“When it appears others are taking more than their share, it can be reduced to every person for themselves,” said Minton. Many think that large wineries take far more than their fair share of the commons, especially water and land. They also pollute the air with their truck-in grapes/truck-out wine industrial operations. As climate change heats up, its warming contributes to less snowpack and hence less water.

“$1 billion drought aid plan unveiled,” headlines a Los Angeles Times article. The plan calls for “personal responsibility.” What about corporate responsibility?

“There is something fundamentally unjust where one segment of the population is given unrestrained access to a vital natural and shared resource while another segment is constrained,” said Geoff Ellsworth of Napa County’s Vision 2050, a coalition of a dozen groups challenging winery over-development in rural areas. He raises ethical questions about the economics that drive the wine industry to horde precious, limited resources, such as water.

“Without proper protections a temptation is created to take more than one's share of a common shared resource. If water is allowed to be further commodified and controlled by private enterprise then citizens risk becoming collateral damage in a business war,” Ellsworth added. He was raised in a Napa wine family.

Investors from outside California and even beyond the U.S. own many of the large wineries. For example, a Chinese firm recently paid $41 million for land in Sonoma County permitted for a winery and resort. A wine rush into California’s wine industry appears to be happening. It’s a collision course.

"Wineries have been issued permits for 100,000-500,000 case production facilities without adequate investigation or mapping of water resources,” writes Linda Kay Hale from the Valley of the Moon Alliance (VOTMA).  “Wineries are allowed to drill 1000 foot wells near creeks because they are on agricultural land. We are exporting our water in the form of wine." VOTMA has been mapping development and growth in Sonoma Valley for 10 years to protect the Scenic Corridor and to address critical open space buffers, water, and safety issues.

California is the nation’s most productive agricultural state and its wine industry provides much of the U.S.’s wine, for both national and international consumption. To address our growing water scarcity problem, Gov. Brown should focus on Big Wine and Big Ag and not continue their free ride.

After four years of drought and not much relief likely, the water scarcity situation is serious. Gov. Brown’s solution does not solve the problem, because it does not address Big Wine and Big Ag.

Locals Fight Back

Water wars are not new to California. The current oil wars in the Middle East are bad enough. Wait until we get to more intense water wars. Humans can survive without oil, and have for centuries, but not without water.

Here in the historic, natural Redwood Empire--which the wine industry re-branded as the commercial “Wine Country”--a backlash against the larger, corporate wineries grows.

Wineries must obtain permits for a new winery or increased production; they are routinely approved. This year Sonoma’s Board of Zoning Appeals finally turned down one — celebrity chef’s Guy Fieri’s proposal. 150 residents showed up to oppose it.

On April 2 over 100 residents, mainly neighbors, lobbied against Hop Kiln Winery’s application to increase their production, buildings, and events. Though the proposal was eventually approved, residents appreciated that it was down-sized.

“One thing that stuck me at the Napa March 10th Board of Supervisors meeting is that multiple constituencies are beginning to understand the consequences of approving highly impactful projects or projects on sub-optimal parcels - and impacts from non-compliance,” wrote Judith Olney from the Westside neighborhood group, which has been challenging Hop Kiln.

“The Napa grower groups understand that they need to be part of the compliance discussion. Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Winegrowers, and Vintners wrote, ‘We believe that unrealistic winery applications, shored up by the excessive use of variances, should be denied.’” Olney added, “We are all in agreement that vineyard development of steep, timbered watershed lands, where water is scarce, should be denied.”

The Sebastopol City Council on Feb. 3 voted 5-0 to recommend to Sonoma County that they reject the application by Napa County’s Wagner wine family for the huge Dairyman Winery and Distillery. They want to locate on the fast-moving, two-lane Highway 12 between small town Sebastopol and Sonoma County’s capital, Santa Rosa. The final decision is in the hands of the County. Eighteen people testified against the application and only the applicant favored it.

As of press time, over 250 letters during two months opposed the Dairyman application. They came from many neighbors, individuals, and groups such as Sonoma County Conservation Action, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Preserve Rural Sonoma County, Sebastopol Water Information Group, Western Sonoma County Rural Alliance, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, Sonoma County Water Coalition, and Apple Roots.

"The proposed Dairyman Winery/Event Center would use over one billion gallons of water annually in their production of 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of brandy,” said Preserve Rural Sonoma County’s Padi Selwyn, a new group organized to fight winery developments in inappropriate rural areas.

“Because the 25% reduction in water use doesn't apply to farms at this time, residents will be saving water so that a winery operator and visitors can use it for profit and recreation. People are angry. It is not justifiable to expect residents to let their lawns go brown and curtail water usage while allowing wineries to expand and new ones built. Even a significant drop in residential water use won't help as much as a small reduction in water usage by farmers in California, who use 80% of the state's water resources,” Selwyn added.

Dry Farming—Part Of The Solution

Conventionally-grown grapes are water-intensive, but they do not need to be. Most grape-growers in the U.S., until the 1970s, and currently many in Europe, practice dry farming. The wine tastes better, though there may not be as much production.

“Now is the time to look to dry-farming again,” writes John Haggard in his monthly “Wine Banter” column in the April Sonoma County Gazette. He owns Sophie’s Cellars. Many grape-growers and wine-makers benefit the region and are concerned with playing their part to respond to the drought in a socially responsible way. “With the drought that we’re currently in, perhaps (dry farming) is the direction we might move,” Haggard continues.

“Vineyards were never watered before l970 in our county,” writes Janus Matthes, of the Sonoma County Water Coalition and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. Matthes suggests labeling dry farmed wines in order “to support true water sustainability.”

“We [in Napa] are drawing 1.2 billion gallons of water and putting it on vines that don’t really need it,” Frog’s Leap Winery owner John Williams is quoted as saying in the local daily Press Democrat (PD). “The entire valley was dry-farmed for 100 years until 1976, when the first drip irrigation systems were installed,” Williams said.

Dry farming would help develop sustainable practices, as would being organic. However, it would not be enough to deal with the serious water shortage and other problems. For example, too many natural forests are ripped out to be replaced by artificial vineyards and the quality of life in many rural areas is damaged by these industrial bottling factories. Animals, plants, and nature itself suffer from the practices of many vineyards and wineries.

Our Limited Water Future

The wine industry used to be seen as a darling in Sonoma County, but from reading letters to the PD editor, that has changed. Guy Erdman of Forestville suggests an examination “of the blind infatuation we have had for the wine industry,” which he describes as “water-guzzling” with “unregulated water consumption.”

Erdman mentions specific wineries that continue the dry farming tradition, such as Benzinger in Glen Ellen, Bernier in Dry Creek, and Battaglini in the Russian River Valley. “Will it be humans or grapes?” Erdman asks. In Napa County, wineries that dry farm include Dominus and Napanook.

In another letter to the PD, Ed Peoples criticizes “the spread of so many vineyards around the county sucking up all the water from the river and the aquifers.” He suggests “that the county require the removal of two-thirds of the vineyards.” That will not happen, since the wine industry rules the re-branded “Wine Country.” However, the call for a moratorium on new wineries has been increasing.

“We've gone from an agriculture that benefitted all, to a mono-culture that benefits a few,” said Sebastopol grape-grower Bill Shortridge. “We have 70,000 (and growing) Sonoma County acres planted with wine grapes, and only 12,000 acres of food crops.” So much for the diversity that nature relies upon.

Big Wine and Big Ag. tend to farm against nature, rather than with it. Its practices are catching up with Big Wine and Big Ag. California ag’s 2014 drought-induced losses were $1.5 billion, according to University of California at Davis scientists. It is headed for at least a $1 billion dollar loss this year and again next year.

If California’s drought continues, famine may follow.

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For more information:

Values of an American Watershed.”

(Shepherd Bliss {} teaches college, farms, and has contributed to 24 books.)

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A PROSECUTOR IN UTAH GOT A CONVICTION AGAINST A PHYSICIAN WHO MURDERED HIS WIFE under eerily similar circumstances. There are lessons here for the Mendocino DA in the Susan Keegan murder case.

Building the Evidence Against Doctors Who Murder Their Wives: What the Mendocino DA Can Learn from a Utah Conviction

The story of a Utah physician convicted of murdering his ex-wife last month has remarkable parallels to the unsolved homicide of Susan Keegan. The eerie similarities give us hope that we will also see a conviction in the Keegan case.

Uta von Schwedler’s death in 2011 was initially treated as a suicide; four years later, Salt Lake City pediatrician John Brickman Wall was found guilty of killing her. High doses of the antidepressant Xanax were found in Uta’s body, pills were spilled on the floor of her home, and there were deep cuts to her wrist and leg. The medical examiner was unable to certify that a murder had taken place, and during Wall’s trial, the defense claimed that Uta had taken her own life. The doctor’s attorney described a woman who had stumbled around intoxicated, slashed herself and climbed into the bathtub where she drowned. Dr. Wall attributed a scratch under his own eye to a playful family dog.

The jury was persuaded that the truth was different – that Dr. Wall had used a knife in a struggle with Uta, injected her with drugs, and then moved her unconscious body to the bathroom, intent on making her murder look like something else. Wall’s scratches were no canine mischief, jurors concluded, but rather the result of Uta’s attempt to defend herself. They returned a guilty verdict.

Like Uta, intoxicants were found in Susan’s bloodstream -- including high levels of alcohol, highly suspicious in a woman not known to drink much. A glass of whiskey and a bottle of pills were neatly arrayed as stage props near Susan’s bed. On her body, as on Uta’s, there were unexplained bruises and indications that she had died in one room and been moved to another.

Uta and her husband had gone through a bitter divorce and Dr. Wall “just couldn’t stop talking about how much he hated” his former wife, according to the prosecutor. Dr. Keegan, too, was filled with rage toward Susan. His sense of entitlement to the family assets had led him to jump up and down shouting, “it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine” as the couple argued about money.

There are emotional parallels in the cases as well. "I am deeply thankful for the example of my mom's life,” Uta’s son said after his father was convicted. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and try and emulate her generosity, optimism and vigor for life. She may not be here any more, but her light is not gone. It lives on inside of me, inside of all of us who knew her."

So many of us would say exactly the same thing about Susan.

Similar, too, are the forces propelling the quest for justice – family and friends search for truth, not retribution. "Revenge was certainly not what drove us in those dark days, and dark and desperate days we had many of," said Uta’s sister. Her family wanted what we want – that her community know how she died and that the person who killed her face the consequences.

Because they understand death so well, physicians have a unique ability to manipulate forensics evidence. As a result, there was no smoking gun to easily explain Uta’s death, nor Susan’s. The case against Dr. Wall proceeded instead on a body of circumstantial evidence that prosecutors called “overwhelming.” In the state’s summation, the prosecutor declared, “the evidence of motive, of means, of opportunity [leads to] one compelling conclusion… Uta was murdered and the defendant Johnny Brickman Wall murdered her.”

The circumstantial evidence in the Keegan case is equally persuasive, perhaps even more so. There are witnesses prepared to speak about Dr. Keegan’s growing aversion to Susan and his verbal abuse towards her. They can describe his anger about the proposed 50:50 divorce settlement, and repeat Susan’s description of an unsettling scene at the divorce mediator’s office the day before she died, when Dr. Keegan reportedly “went ballistic.”

Dr. & Mrs. Keegan
Dr. & Mrs. Keegan

Friends can also talk about Dr. Keegan’s startling late-night visits to their homes in the weeks before his wife’s death, where he rambled on in a manic monologue about her alleged descent into drug use. As it happens, we know almost every detail of Susan’s final day, which was filled with artistic pursuits, get-togethers with supportive friends, and planning for the future. She had much the same activities on tap for the following day. None of that fits the profile of a woman with disabling substance use problems.

Several people can confirm that Dr. Keegan boasted repeatedly over the years about being able to make an intentional death look like an accident. Witnesses can describe the questionable medical practices and impaired judgement he displayed at the Covelo clinic where he worked. There are allegations that he abused drugs. There are the bizarre emails he wrote after Susan’s death, which are now in the hands of the Mendocino DA; some complained about how his wife had cheated him, others celebrated the new life he was finally able to lead. There are also countless Ukiah residents who can describe the happy man they saw dancing and partying around town just days after his wife of 32 years was gone.

There is forensics evidence as well, even if some of it was lost in the first botched police investigation. The cops called to the scene took photos showing bruises on both the front and back of Susan’s head that were inconsistent with a fall. There were also bruises on her arms, which Dr. Keegan casually ascribed to a medical condition no one had ever mentioned before. He blamed gardening for the bruises on his own arms. A world-class medical examiner is prepared to testify that Susan was murdered, as her death certificate states. Dr. Keegan was the only other person in the house the night she died.

In short, there is a wealth of evidence that a prosecutor can credibly present to a jury. That’s how we determine innocence or guilt in this society.

Three factors ultimately led to the successful prosecution of John Brickman Wall in Salt Lake City. First, the physician had, in fact, murdered his wife, and truth tends to emerge despite shrewd efforts to shroud it. Second, Uta’s family and friends kept pressing for action from the legal system, and persistence can bend the arc of justice. And third, the prosecution team was astute enough to build a credible criminal case on the basis of mostly circumstantial evidence.

On the last point, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office has yet to prove itself, but we remain hopeful that it will.


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IN CUSTODY DEATH OF A WOMAN at Mendocino County Jail

ON APRIL 10, 2015 at about 1:27 AM, correctional staff discovered an unresponsive inmate in her cell during a routine walk through. The 59-year old female was the sole occupant of the cell within a 19-person housing unit. The victim had last been seen sleeping about 40 minutes prior during an earlier cell check. Responding correctional and medical staff determined that she was not breathing and had no pulse, and immediately began performing life-saving measures. Upon their arrival, emergency medical services took over care. The victim was pronounced dead at 2am. Nothing was discovered at the scene to suggest foul play. The victim had been in custody since April 4, 2015 for possession of a controlled substance for sale charge. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin. A thorough death investigation is being conducted by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday, April 10, 2015.

(Sheriff’s Office Press Release)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 10, 2015

Bettencourt, Cranford, Edwards, Harris
Bettencourt, Cranford, Edwards, Harris

CURTIS BETTENCOURT, Fort Bragg. Indecent exposure, drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

RYAN CRANFORD, Willits. Petty theft, under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

SUNNY EDWARDS, Sacramento/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

DEVIN HARRIS, Petaluma/Ukiah. Suspended license.

Makaya, McAndrews, Ryan
Makaya, McAndrews, Ryan


MORGAN MCANDREWS, Redwood Valley. DUI with priors, suspended license, possession of controlled substance.

DIANE RYAN, Ukiah. Child endangerment.

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Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way


Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain

You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today

And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun


So you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death


Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say


Home, home again

I like to be here when I can

When I come home cold and tired

It's good to warm my bones beside the fire


Far away, across the field

The tolling of the iron bell

Calls the faithful to their knees

To hear the softly spoken magic spell

— Roger Waters

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by Dan Bacher

The mainstream media and state officials have for years tried to portray California as the "green" leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state's politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state's environmental policies.

California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch. This is largely due to the gross mismanagement of California's reservoirs, rivers and groundwater supplies, during a record drought, to serve the 1 percent.

California Governor Jerry "Big Oil" Brown's recent water restrictions on cities and counties are woefully inadequate. Big agribusiness, oil interests and bottled water companies continue to deplete and pollute California's precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.

It's clear that the severity of this drought calls for much more than just individual action like cutting back on showers.

Sooner or later we have to stop subsidizing corporate agribusiness, growing almonds and other export crops on toxic land, soil that should have never been irrigated, with cheap water and other subsidies. The idea of big corporate growers "suffering" during the drought is a classic example of the "Big Lie" that has been spread by agribusiness, the Brown administration and Big Ag Astroturf groups.

At  a press conference in Sacramento on April 8 after meeting with water agency and agribusiness leaders, Governor Brown said that the "key is to get the water and not point fingers" during the drought.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, responded, "We have already sent a tweet asking him get the water for whom? Westlands? Paramount Farms?"

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird claims that "everybody is a soldier in the fight" to address the drought. Yes, everybody except those planting almonds in the drought!

According to the "On the Public Record blog (, almond acreage in California has expanded by 70,000 acres, a total of 280,000 acre feet per year of new water demand:

"I have marked the almond acreage at the beginning and end of the 2006-2009 drought (700,000 acres at the beginning, 810,000 acres at the end). At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres. In 2013, after two years of drought, it was up to 940,000 acres. It looks like the 2014 California Almond Acreage Report comes out at the end of April (here’s 2013). I will be excited to see a new total acreage.  

Let’s make this all explicit. Since this drought began, almonds have expanded by 70,000 acres. That’s 280,000 acft/year of new water demand for a snack that will be exported. That water will come from groundwater or from other farmers. At the same time, the California EPA is literally telling urban users to take five minute cold showers. If there is a lot of new acreage in 2014 and 2015, it is going to be difficult for the Brown administration to stay friends with them."     

You can take action NOW to stop corporate agribusiness, big oil companies and Nestle and other bottled water companies from depleting California's precious water supplies during a record drought by going to:

On March 20, environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m., effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day. To read the complete story, go to:

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City of Point Arena Subcommittee Meeting April 15 2015

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Saturday is the season opener for the 2015 Race Season at Ukiah Speedway.

In addition to racing action, there will be a special fund-raiser for injured Ukiah teen, Brandy Peterson.   Peterson is currently in Santa Rosa recovering from her injuries and her parents have taken time away from work to care for her.

She has months of recovery ahead of her.   Race fans can donate any amount to the Brandy Peterson fund at the souvenir booth and be entered into a drawing to win a season pass for Ukiah Speedway.

This pass is good for any general event at Ukiah Speedway throughout the entire racing season. The pass is valued at over $130. Lakeport Speedway & Ukiah Speedway has donated $500 through the “Kyle Tellstrom Fund” to this young lady’s family. This fund was put together with donations by racers and fans after Kyle himself was sidelined after an accident in the pits at Lakeport Speedway.   Attend the races this Saturday night for racing action and to help Ukiah Speedway support a local family in need.   Press Release: Marketing Director, Mary Ellen Chadwick (707) 272-6514 Event Questions or Interviews:

Contact: David Furia

(707) 799-3044 Mary Chadwick Marketing. Public Relations Ukiah. Lakeport Speedways


  1. debrakeipp April 11, 2015

    city of pa subcommittee meeting doesn’t reveal anything. Blank screen. Big surprise!

  2. debrakeipp April 11, 2015

    ahhhhh, there it is…. CHRIST!!! Still dickin’ with the stupid skate park and that’s about it!

  3. Harvey Reading April 11, 2015

    Well, the fan issue is simply one more that illustrates that money talks, money alone, here in the land ‘o exceptionals. The expression on the face of the (I presume) grape farmer that was (is?) on the front page says it all. He could be a model for an ad touting a return to the feudalism that so many on the right worship.

    • Bruce Anderson April 11, 2015

      Hey, Harv! That was me, the plaintiff! A man of the people not some indignant kulak. (for Mark Scaramella)

      • Harvey Reading April 12, 2015

        Woops. His expression looks just like that of a lot of welfare farmers and ranchers I’ve met in my lifetime … usually when they were trying to tell me to get off public land, conveniently forgetting that their ag permits do not allow them to keep the rest of us off public lands — though they are doing their best now to get “congress” to turn over those lands to the states, whose legislatures they own. Shoulda read the article.

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