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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Apr 25, 2015

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Friday: Showers. Low around 45. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts up to a quarter of an inch are possible.

Saturday: A 30% chance of showers, mainly before 11am. Then partly sunny, with a high near 60. Light west/northwest wind increasing to 9 to 14 mph in the morning.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 41. Northwest wind 8 to 14 mph.

(Clear with highs in the 70s for the rest of the week.)

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March 5, 2015

To: Fort Bragg City Council, City of Fort Bragg

416 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Re: Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center's (MCHC) Acquisition of 101 North Franklin

I write to offer support for the relocation for the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center Wellness Center.

The community development block grant has been awarded and MCHC has an option to purchase property located at 101 North Franklin Street. This property is ideal for the expansion of services provided by the MCHC.

The grant funds are associated with relocating MCHC's office, homeless and mental health case management, and the wellness and homeless resource center. The grant funds will enable the significant and essential expansion of transitional housing as well as provide an accessible and central location to co-locate the Coast's integrated care management system (CMS) center.

Co-locating services in a non-stigmatizing environment like this is healthy for the clients and the community. It will help to destigmatize mental illness by providing a place that provides services and a safe environment in one place. The non-stigmatizing and normalizing location of the Old Coast Hotel is one which is ideal for mental health services and indeed many of our seriously ill clients are looking forward to receiving care and support there.

Because of misconceptions and harmful stereotypes about mental illness, our friends, neighbors and loved ones suffer discrimination and shame. Stigma happens when we see people in a negative way because of fears or biases we have about them. Unfortunately, people with mental health problems are often the target of discrimination because of this negative attitude. One in four people struggle with a mental illness.

You probably know someone with a mental illness and don't even realize it. Whether it's genetic or a result of things happening in people's lives, mental health problems can affect anyone at any time.

People with mental illness can and do recover. Thanks to new drugs and therapies, the success rate for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression is now as high as 75% for bipolar disorder and panic disorder, as high as 90%. By comparison, the success rate for treating heart disease is only 45-50%.

People with mental illness make important contributions to our families and our communities. In fact, some of history's most brilliant and talented people had some form of mental illness. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are two examples.

There are many simple things you can do to stand against stigma in our community:

Educate yourself. Recognize myths and misinformation about mental illness and learn the facts.

Think beyond labels. Realize that people with mental health problems are all unique individuals with unique strengths. Their health problems are just one part of who they are.

Share your story. If you have a mental illness or know someone who does, talk about it. You'll show people that having a mental health problem is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Watch your language. Never use hurtful words like "crazy," "nuts," "psycho" or "lunatic."

Speak up. When you hear people using hurtful words or spreading false information about mental illness, correct them politely.

Show your support. Help out organizations that support mental health treatment and education.

About 25% of people in the United States have a mental health problem in any given year and almost half of them don't seek treatment. Many of them avoid getting help because they don't want to be labeled a judge.

It leads to fear and mistrust. People with mental illness are often portrayed in the media as violent or dangerous, which makes others afraid of them. However, study results show that the mentally ill are more often victims of violence than the aggressors.

It results in prejudice and discrimination. Many people with mental health problems have a hard time finding a job or a place to live because of discrimination.

In closing, support of this project will benefit the entire community.

Respectfully, Tom Pinizzotto, MSW, Assistant Director-Health Services, Behavior Health and Recovery Services, Mendocino County, Ukiah

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March 23, 2015

The mayor and council members, City of Fort Bragg

The Ortner Management Group offers strong support for the relocation of the hospitality wellness center services to the location at 101 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg.

Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) provides a wide range of essential services related to homelessness and mental health in our community. As the adult mental health services manager for Mendocino County, we believe the well-being and safety of the coastal community as a whole are enhanced by the services of MCHC.

Hospitality Center services are a key part of HUD's continuum of care for the homeless as provided in our county. Hospitality Center care management services and Wellness Center provide essential support to people with serious mental illness. The Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center has proven itself as an able and efficient community partner. MCHC has an excellent track record of upkeep and rehabilitation of its local properties. MCHC is committed to a high standard of maintenance and the adaptive reuse of the Old Coast Hotel. This will bring this closed building back to a useful life. Located very close to much of the private rental housing for people with low incomes, residential neighbors and the whole community will be able to avail themselves of the center services.

MCHC is a strong community partner with a commitment to helping those most in need. These new facilities will accommodate MCHC's case management services for people who are homeless or have metal [sic] illness. The MCHC Wellness Center will also be located on the site offering a wide range of programming, groups and activities to help those with mental illness, including vocational support. The second floor will include transitional housing, enabling people to live independently before moving to their own permanent housing. The site has a courtyard with a high fence which will provide the privacy ideal for people waiting for appointments.

It is in the coastal community's interest for a long-term location to be found for MCHC's essential social services and I strongly support Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center in acquiring 101 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg. Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully, Thomas L. Ortner, Chief Executive Officer,

Ortner Management Group

1525 Lewis Court, Suite C, Yuba City, CA 95991

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FACT: So far, Ortner has provided few "services" for the $7-8 annual million in privatized mental health assistance the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has given him. It can't be pointed out often enough that Pinnizzotto is Ortner's former right hand man at Ortner's Yuba City-based, for-profit mental health business. Pinizzotto now functions as one of Mendocino County's highly paid mental health bureaucrats. He reports to the Supervisors on the swell job his old boss is now doing for Mendocino County's mentally ill. How convenient.

OF COURSE Pinizzotto's shilling for his former employer doesn't stop with merely running interference for Ortner before the Supervisors, he and Ortner have now cast their covetous eyes on Fort Bragg's Old Coast Hotel. (For the Ortner complex Mendocino County is a virtual motherlode of free money with no accountability.) The Fort Bragg City Council is about to buy Old Coast for Ortner via a “forgivable loan” of public money approaching a million dollars. One wonders when the loan is “forgiven,” whose name will be on the deed. And wouldn't you like to get yourself a “forgivable” loan which, of course, means you're under no obligation to pay it back. Prediction, when the Ortner Gang has taken possession of Old Coast they'll wait a couple of years then, as memories fade, they'll stop paying the money back, pleading that they can't afford to because they need to do more for their clients.

THESE TWO CHARACTERS, Pinizzotto and Ortner, cherry pick reimbursable mental health patients from among Mendocino County's large population of troubled people. They ignore the difficult cases. Those cases, pre- and post-Ortner, are housed at the County Jail where many of them arrive on a rotating basis. There is no help for most of them, certainly not from the mercenary Ortner who is involved in mental health because it has made him rich and, thanks to Mendocino County, a lot richer.

THE LOOMING CONVERSION of the Old Coast Hotel is a perfect example of Cash and Carry Compassion. Very few of the players here would otherwise be involved. Fort Bragg is being hustled big time. The vague services Ortner-Hospitality have thus far described could just as well be housed in more modest circumstances, as they are in most communities.

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Dear Friends,

We are all paying the "Fire Prevention Fee" to the State Board around now - I encourage everyone to do what we did, and enclose a note with your check to them along the lines of "Make MRC stop using their dangerous ‘hack and squirt’ tree removal! It is dangerous in several ways: 1. It puts poison (more than 6,000 gallons during 2012-2014) into our environment; 2. It has created more than 30,000 acres of dead trees, over 5 million trees killed, just waiting there, a huge fire hazard. 3. When they burn, they release toxins into the air, putting firefighters at even greater risk!

Nancy MacLeod, Philo

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Hoaglen, Wilburn
Hoaglen, Wilburn

ON APRIL 22, 2015 at about 8:00 AM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, working in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol, Mendocino County Probation Department, the Fort Bragg Police Department and Willits Police Department conducted probation contacts and arrest warrant contacts in Covelo, California. Contacted during the operation were multiple probationers, sex registrants and wanted persons. Deputies contacted Anthony Wilburn, 29, of Covelo at his residence who was found to be in possession of dangerous weapons and hypodermic syringes. Also at the location was Tammy Hale who was found to be in possession of hypodermic syringes and to be under the influence of methamphetamine. While conducting a probation contact at a separate residence, Deputies located John Carl Hoaglen, 29, of Covelo who was asleep in the back of the residence. Hoaglen had a felony arrest warrant for failure to appear and probation violation. Wilburn and Hoaglen were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of violation of probation and were to be held without bail. Hale was arrested and ultimately released with a citation to appear in court for being under the influence of methamphetamine and possession of hypodermic syringes.

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Goat Fest is tomorrow at the Fairgrounds in Boonville, 10-4, rain or shine.  It is supposed to rain tonight and be ending by 10 am Saturday. Try to be there by 10:00 so you don't miss anything.  Our dairy workshops (cheese, yogurt and kefir making) will begin at 10 and the ice cream makers will start up late morning.  There will also be a birria (goat stew) cook off, goat milking, a best dressed goat parade and information on goats and their care.  We will have kids activities and food & drink for all.  The AV Foodshed is asking for a donation for entrance to help us pay for the Fairgrounds.

THE WILDFLOWER SHOW will be happening in June Hall during the day and the Wildflower Dance, with Dean Titus and the Bootjack Five, begins at 7:00 in the Apple Hall.  Instruction on the Texas 10-step will be 6:00-7:00.

THE FINAL final Boonville Winter Market will be at Goat Fest.  Here's what our vendors say they will have:

BrambleFamilyFarms will be there with olive oil until about 2PM.

Petit Teton will be at the Goat Fest market with eggs, some greens, their large selection of canned goods, some plant starts, and meats: pork (chops, bacon, shoulder and leg cuts), beef (stew meat, steaks, liver, hamburger).

Judy Nelson - I'll be there with my jewelry.

Pennyroyal will be at the Goat Fest winter market with a variety of goat cheese.

Yerba Santa/Bodega will be there with cheese.

Joel (Albion Natural Soap) will be at Goat Fest / Boonville Winter Market with hand crafted natural soap including some made with locally-sourced goat milk --  a wide variety of sizes and scents to choose from.  Also, natural shampoo, foaming-pump liquid hand soap, and beeswax & shea butter natural lip balm.

Joel will also be bringing lots of tomato plants.  Many different heirlooms and cherry and plum tomatoes, plus some early and disease-resistant hybrids.  These are robust plants in one quart grow bags, ready to transplant now but if you need to wait, you can grow them another 2 to 4 weeks in their grow bag, depending on the size of the plants.

JD Streeter will be there with pickled products.

Shawn "Blackwolf" will be selling carved goat skulls.

Joanne Horn will have natural skin care products, including goat milk soap.

Lee Zabin will sell her abalone jewelry.

We also hope to have GunterHaven with their herb and veggie starts, maybe some lion's mane mushrooms from Natural Products of Boonville, plus more.

NEXT SATURDAY, May 2, will be the Boonville Farmers' Market Plant Sale.  This will be the BFM opening market for this year, 10-12:30, at the Boonville Hotel.

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MENDO AG COMMISSIONER, Chuck Morse, says three Light Brown Apple Moths have been discovered in Fort Bragg. Morse said a quarantine is being established to confine the insect to Fort Bragg.

NATIVE TO Australia, the moth is found throughout California and has been present in Mendocino County since last July when moths were found in Hopland and Fort Bragg. The ensuing quarantine apparently kept them from doing any damage to the County's vast grape plantings.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 24, 2015

Aguado, Bettencourt, Neeley
Aguado, Bettencourt, Neeley

ABEL AGUADO, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

CURTIS BETTENCOURT, Fort Bragg. False ID. (Frequent flyer)

SHERRI NEELEY, Ukiah. Petty theft.

Pollick, Reeves, Sanchez
Pollick, Reeves, Sanchez

ALAN POLLICK JR., Ukiah. Drunk in public, failure to register, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer)

ALVA REEVES III, Ukiah. Dirk-dagger, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer)

ELIAS SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

Scott, Vassar, Ward
Scott, Vassar, Ward

BRYAN SCOTT, Fort Bragg. Resisting arrest.

RUSTI VASSAR, Willits. Possesion of controlled substance and paraphernalia.

ERIC WARD, Laytonville. Fugitive from justice.

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I'm going to rent myself a house

In the shade of the freeway

I'm going to pack my lunch in the morning

And go to work each day

And when the evening rolls around

I'll go on home and lay my body down

And when the morning light comes streaming in

I'll get up and do it again

Amen, say it again, Amen


I want to know what became of the changes

We waited for love to bring

Were they only the fitful dreams

Of some greater awakening

I've been aware of the time going by

They say in the end it's the wink of an eye

And when the morning light comes streaming in

You'll get up and do it again



Caught between the longing for love

And the struggle for the legal tender

Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring

And the junk man pounds his fender

Where the veterans dream of the fight

Fast asleep at the traffic light

And the children solemnly wait

For the ice cream vendor

Out into the cool of the evening

Strolls the Pretender

He knows that all his hopes and dreams

Begin and end there


Ah the laughter of the lovers

As they run through the night

Leaving nothing for the others

But to choose off and fight

And tear at the world with all their might

While the ships bearing their dreams

Sail out of sight


I'm going to find myself a girl

Who can show me what laughter means

And we'll fill in the missing colors

In each other's paint-by-number dreams

And then we'll put out dark glasses on

And we'll make love until our strength is gone

And when the morning light comes streaming in

We'll get up and do it again

Get it up again


I'm going to be a happy idiot

And struggle for the legal tender

Where the ads take aim and lay their claim

To the heart and the soul of the spender

And believe in whatever may lie

In those things that money can buy

Thought true love could have been a contender

Are you there?

Say a prayer for the Pretender

Who started out so young and strong

Only to surrender

— Jackson Browne

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While the appeals court overturned Bonds’ conviction, ruling that his evasive answer as to whether Greg Anderson and BALCO gave him performance-enhancing drugs was not perjury, Bonds still did not answer the question with a yes or no. Bonds was tested positive for steroids and it defies belief that he did not knowingly take steroids. Before the San Francisco Giants even considering bringing Bonds back in any capacity, I would expect the Giants to require Bonds to confess to knowingly using steroids.

Remember, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez confessed to using steroids. But does it matter? In this age of wide-scale cheating and lying by public officials, researchers, school officials, students, etc., Bonds’ use of steroids appears irrelevant to a lot of people. After all, baseball is just entertainment and everyone was doing it. Yes, it does matter because steroid use is up among high school students and even eighth-graders. Celebrating a cheater like Bonds sends the wrong message to our young people.

Ralph Stone, San Francisco

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by Linh Dinh

Decades ago, I’d show up weekly to clean the Philadelphia apartment of a California transplant. Daughter of a Hollywood executive, Jacqueline confessed she had to escape California because “California women are too beautiful.” To save her self esteem, she had to flee to Philadelphia.

Ah, California as the perfect state with the most beautiful people! In spite of mud slides, wild fires and many blasé places like Bakersfield and Fresno, California still captures the imagination of not just Americans, but foreigners. With its elaborate landscaping, it imitates Hawaii, even as Hawaii mimics California by laying on strip malls and freeways. Much of California, though, is no tropical paradise but a desert that’s running out of water, and its fresh water crisis has become so severe, it has made salient a hushed up concept, namely the fact that there are limits to growth, and that all resources can become scarce if not run out completely. 

Newly condemned and mocked for their swimming pools and golf courses, Californians are lashing back by charging, rightly, that other Americans are no less profligate. Though less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans burn up 26% of its oil and 27% of its natural gas. Our houses are larger than anyone’s and still expanding. We have more cumbersome cars than fat drivers. So what, I can hear some of you saying. If we can afford it, then it’s no one’s business, but the problem is we haven’t been able to afford any of this for a while now. We are the world’s biggest debtor nation, lest you forget.

Coming into the Bay Area this month, I saw mostly prosperity, however. From San Francisco down into San Jose, there is one affluent city after another, while on the East Bay, there are a few pockets of destitution and squalor, but nothing compared to the hundreds of miles of decay that mark the Rust Belt, for example. Even Oakland is rapidly gentrifying, and becoming very expensive, with the average rent for a one bedroom going for an astounding $3,078! That’s more than three times what I must cough up, with much anxiety and bile, in Philadelphia, and I get two rooms. In this sinking economy, how does the Bay Area become ever more spiffy?

Two years ago, I talked to Hung, a Vietnam-born Chinese living in Milpitas, and he dismissed my grim assessment of the US economy as nonsense, “The Chinese and Indians are coming over. They have money and skills. They will keep this economy going.”

“What about the locals?” I asked. “Won’t an influx of rich foreigners hurt the poor here?”

“No, these Chinese and Indians will create jobs.”

“But they will also jack up real estate prices!”

“Which is good!”

“Not for a renter, though. It’s already too expensive to live here. I mean, look at all the homeless in the Tenderloin.”

“You will always have bums. In every society, there are winners and losers. Those bums should be put in work camps and made to be productive.”

We were standing in a two-story extension Hung was adding to his home. In the main house, Hung’s aging parents sat mostly in silence on matching recliners. The Mexican construction crew was out to lunch.

It is estimated that nearly 20% of the homes being sold in the Bay Area are being snatched up by foreign buyers, paying cash, with about half of them Chinese. In Palo Alto, one of the toniest Bay Area cities, Chinese alone are responsible for more than a quarter of real estate sales. In adjacent Los Altos, the most expensive housing market in the entire country, Chinese buyers don’t shy away from mansions that cost several million dollars, and instead of haggling down, they often pay more than the list price, sometimes six-figure more, just to get what they want. Sometimes a Chinese buyer would buy without having seen the property in person, and he might leave his new home empty for months after purchase. In China, the land under each house cannot be owned outright but only leased from the government for 70 years, with terms for renewal uncertain, and it wasn’t so long ago that private property was seen as the ultimate evil. To protect their wealth, then, the richest Chinese are buying in California. Ken DeLeon advertises in China, then guides visiting Chinese on a tour to inspect palatial homes. To move them around, he has bought not just a Mercedes van but a plane, on which two number 8’s in Chinese have been affixed for luck. To appeal to Chinese buyers, realtors have also asked municipalities to remove the number four from certain addresses.

In Chinese, four sounds like death. 

When the Chinese first came to California in the mid 19th century, they weren’t so feted. Though welcomed by white bosses for their cheap labor, they were despised by the white working class for taking away jobs. Groups such as the Anti-Coolie Association and the Supreme Order of the Caucasians sprung up to oppose the Chinese presence. Organized labor was their sworn enemy. In 1887, Denis Kearney of the California’s Workingmen’s Party gave this address:

“Our moneyed men have ruled us for the past thirty years. Under the flag of the slaveholder they hoped to destroy our liberty. Failing in that, they have rallied under the banner of the millionaire, the banker and the land monopolist, the railroad king and the false politician, to effect their purpose.

[…] They have seized upon the government by bribery and corruption. They have made speculation and public robbery a science. The have loaded the nation, the state, the county, and the city with debt. They have stolen the public lands. They have grasped all to themselves, and by their unprincipled greed brought a crisis of unparalleled distress […]

[…] Land monopoly has seized upon all the best soil in this fair land. A few men own from ten thousand to two hundred thousand acres each. The poor Laborer can find no resting place, save on the barren mountain, or in the trackless desert. Money monopoly has reached its grandest proportions. Here, in San Francisco, the palace of the millionaire looms up above the hovel of the starving poor with as wide a contrast as anywhere on earth.”

Sounds like, well, today, so the playbook hasn’t changed, but whereas the American working man now rails against illegal immigrants from Latin America and cheap “slave labor” in Asia, poor white Americans back then felt threatened by the Chinese that were employed all over the West in every sector, mining, railroad, construction, agricultural and domestic help. Kearney: 

“To add to our misery and despair, a bloated aristocracy has sent to China—the greatest and oldest despotism in the world—for a cheap working slave. It rakes the slums of Asia to find the meanest slave on earth—the Chinese coolie—and imports him here to meet the free American in the Labor market, and still further widen the breach between the rich and the poor, still further to degrade white Labor.

These cheap slaves fill every place. Their dress is scant and cheap. Their food is rice from China. They hedge twenty in a room, ten by ten. They are whipped curs, abject in docility, mean, contemptible and obedient in all things. They have no wives, children or dependents.

They are imported by companies, controlled as serfs, worked like slaves, and at last go back to China with all their earnings. They are in every place, they seem to have no sex. Boys work, girls work; it is all alike to them.

The father of a family is met by them at every turn. Would he get work for himself? Ah! A stout Chinaman does it cheaper. Will he get a place for his oldest boy? He can not. His girl? Why, the Chinaman is in her place too! Every door is closed […] We are men, and propose to live like men in this free land, without the contamination of slave labor, or die like men, if need be, in asserting the rights of our race, our country, and our families.

California must be all American or all Chinese. We are resolved that it shall be American, and are prepared to make it so. May we not rely upon your sympathy and assistance?”

Fueled by such sentiments, a host of laws were passed against the Chinese that forbade them to become citizens, testify against whites, bring their wives over, marry white women, carry goods using a shoulder pole, live in a crowded room or even dig up the bones of their dead to send back to China. Chinatowns were burnt down and Chinese killed. In 1877, the Chico Enterprise, a newspaper still publishing, warned that eaters of produce picked by Chinese might contract leprosy or diphtheria since these fruit and vegetables had been fertilized by Chinese excrement. 

The Grass Valley Union, also still extant, warned against hiring Chinese domestic helps, “After establishing himself, the China boy goes to making up his wages. He steals a little every day, and packs his plunder off to his bosses or his cousins. The sugar does not last as it used to, and the tea disappears rapidly. Pies and chops and pieces of steaks have the same course; yet that young heathen looks so innocent and is so saving when he is watched that he is never suspected.” How unfair that white girls had been bumped out by these devious aliens! “He underbids the girls, ruins their reputations as workers, robs his employers to make up his wages and is a cheat and a fraud from top to bottom.”

One of the Chinatowns that were burnt down by white arsonists was in Pacific Grove, just over an hour from San Jose. In 1978, I saw a spectacle there that was so strange, I’d keep doubting myself with each remembrance. As the entire town of 15,000 people, nearly all of them white, sat on a beach after dusk, half a dozen white girls dressed as Chinese fairies danced on a barge. All around them, Chinese lanterns bobbled on the darkened sea.

Dance over, there was a fireworks show. Writing this Postcard, I researched and found out, finally, that it’s called the Feast of the Lanterns, and this festival was started at exactly the same time Pacific Grove chased out, very violently, all of its Chinese more than a century ago. Whites got rid of the Chinese so some of them could become somewhat Chinese once a year.

In the Bay Area, many whites are becoming Chinese in earnest. In San Francisco, there are no less than five Chinese immersion pre-kindergartens, with most of their pupils non-Chinese speakers at home. At Presidio Knolls, for example, only 25% of the students are Chinese-Americans. Paying a dizzying $23,150 annually, students start as young as 2.4 years old, and for those enrolled in kindergarten to second grade, it’s $23,500.

At the Chinese American International School, tuition is $25,800 for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. There, half the school day is taught in Mandarin, the other half in English. Nineteen percent of its students are Caucasians, with 41% more multiethnic. Hispanics and Blacks make up 1% each. At the Chinese Immersion School at De Avila, the aim is to have its students become fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. To compete in the Pacific Century, it’s best to speak two Chinese languages, ni ting dong ma? If you can only tweet in withered English, ur fckt.

California’s orientation towards the East has its basis in trades. If China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are counted as one unit, then greater China is California’s biggest customer, to be followed by Mexico, Canada, Japan and South Korea. Each year, the Chinese increase their purchase of California computers, electronics and agricultural products, but it’s not all good thanks to the crippling drought that may only get worse. You see, it takes a gallon of water to produce a single California almond, and 25 gallons to make a bottle of Napa Valley wine. The Chinese are in love with both.

CNN quotes Linsey Gallagher of the Wine Institute, “Even in remote parts of China, people know about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Baywatch, the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s always a positive association.” 

The Chinese aren’t just guzzling California wines, they’re buying California wineries. Yao Ming leads the way. From his company’s website, “In November 2011, Yao Ming, global humanitarian and recently retired NBA star, announced the establishment of his new Napa Valley wine company: Yao Family Wines.”

Forced to take brief showers, leave their cars unwashed or even swapping their beloved lawns for cacti, tumbleweeds, snakes and scorpions, many locals are grumbling about depleting the state’s precious water so Chinese can munch on roasted almonds and sip an aromatically oaky cabernet sauvignon from the golden state.

In a recent article, the Anderson Valley Advertiser points out that 70,000 acres in Sonoma County are allotted to wine grapes, with only 12,000 for all other food crops. Such a mono culture is a disaster, it warns, “If California’s drought continues, famine may follow.”

For some, California’s water crisis would be instantly solved if the state curbed or even banned such water intensive crops as almonds, alfalfa or tomatoes, etc. All over the Central Valley, millions of acres already lay fallow, however, with thousands of workers idle. Unless heavens’ floodgates were to swing wide open really soon, then, a mass exodus will certainly commence.

Will Californians be the first American climate change refugees? Anticipating an influx into the Pacific Northwest, a University of Washington professor of atmospheric science, Cliff Mass, jokingly suggests that a fence be built around Oregon and Washington. This will also keep out other Americans fleeing intensified hurricanes, hellish heat waves and sea water flooding into their living room. Speaking of fences, commentator Fred Reed has also predicted that as Hispanics become ever more dominant in California politics, its southern border will be patrolled even more laxly, resulting in a de facto merger with Mexico.

On my recent California trip, I had neither the time nor money to stray beyond the Bay Area, and so I encountered mostly happy, confident people. A friend in Fremont even insisted that this whole drought business is but a scare tactic to jack up his water bills.

“See those hills,” Giang pointed to Pleasanton Ridge. “Are they green?”


“Did anyone water them?”


Giang laughed with deep satisfaction. The fact that it rained hard during two of my five-day stay further proved, in his mind, that this drought brouhaha is nothing but a Jerry Brown con game.

“I should have taken a photo of you all dripping wet from walking in the rain!” Giang added, still laughing.

In his defense, I can only speculate that my friend’s not all there thanks to a recent, drawn out divorce, loss of home, suicide attempt and a three year spell of unemployment that, mercifully, has just ended.

It is all too easy to be upbeat in the Bay Area, however, especially if you’re in the Silicon Valley. Trekking through Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont and San Jose, I saw mostly neat, beautiful homes with well-kept landscaping. Cheery Cupertino High School contrasted so sharply with the grate windowed, prison-like complexes common to Philly, I had to stop and stare.

With an average SAT score of 1832, it’s not even the best public high school in town. By comparison, the average score for South Philadelphia High, the one closest to me, is 1045. Cupertino is 63.3% Asian, and the star of Cupertino High’s basketball team is 6’4” junior Ajaypal Singh. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

At the East West Bookshop in Mountain View, there are notices for lectures with names like “I’m Not Dead, I’m Different” and “My View From Heaven: Life After Death.” Like California itself, some Californians are smirking at physical limits. We’re not dying of thirst, we’re different. With its posh restaurants and cafes, downtown Mountain View exudes wealth. At Scratch, which advertises “comfort food,” a “Midwestern meatloaf” goes for a mere $19.

Outside Xanh, an upscale Vietnamese joint, I spotted a notice in Spanish offering a kitchen job. 

Help wanted signs are all over the South Bay, in fact, especially at fast food outlets.

At Ike’s Love and Sandwiches in Santa Clara, the large “NOW HIRING” poster features a vaguely Asiatic Uncle Sam, with “WE WORK FOR TIPS, AND PHONE NUMBERS!” Plus “Medical/Dental Benefits.”

The California minimum wage is $9 an hour, and since most of these jobs only start out at that or a tad more, they have a hard time attracting workers. With competition for diners so fierce, however, bosses can’t offer better. Immigrants tend to open restaurants, and the South Bay is carpeted with reasonably priced Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and Mexican eateries. 

Coming from a city that’s 44% black, I also noticed the scarcity of blacks in the Silicon Valley.

The largest ethnic group in Santa Clara County is Asian, at 34.1%, to be followed by white at 33.9% and Hispanic at 26.8%. Blacks make up only 2.9%. As in every other place across this entire country, Hispanics claim the more physical jobs that once went to blacks, just as Chinese used to bump out the lowlier whites. As for the tech jobs, they are dominated by Asians and whites, which makes perfect sense, since these are also the best engineering students anywhere.

At super competitive Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in suburban Washington, 70% of the class of 2019 are Asians. In a mixed-race society, the vocational aptitudes of each ethnic group become sharply contested, then delineated against each other. Of course, individuals should always be judged singly, and these larger patterns are not etched in stone. In San Francisco, Tibetans and Central Americans are said to make the best nannies.

Americans remember well that nightmarish time when just about every American company outsourced its customer service to India, which gave rise to the term “cyber coolies.” If one had to ask one’s bank or cable company a question, one would be routed to a “Stephanie” or a “Beth” who was actually a Nisha or a Jyotsna in Bangalore.

Though Jyotsna was trying her best to sound Midwestern, the conversation would quickly turn awkward, if not aggravating for both sides. “Excuse me, but can you repeat that?” Less conspicuous was the hiring of Indian engineers, and that too ran into problems. The challenge of having Americans and Indians working together in different time zones proved too much of a hassle, thus many outfits tried to send American managers overseas, but since few were willing to go, it was decided that Indians IT workers would be brought here.

Ultimately, the reason why so many Indians are thriving in the Silicon Valley is because of their unmatched computer prowess. The CEO of Adobe and co-founder of Hotmail are Indians, as is the Google executive overseeing Android, Chrome and Google Apps. Outside California, the top man at Microsoft is also Indian. One morning I went to Fischer Park in Fremont and saw that nearly all of the tennis, basketball and volleyball players were Indians. At the jungle gym, all the kids were Indians. Mostly draped in saris, their grandmoms and moms stood nearby. A couple blocks away, there’s Bombay Pizza House, “Home Of The Curry Pizza.”

With no college degree, no science, no math, no coordination, no rah-rah team spirit, no charm, no looks, no nothing, I wouldn’t last half a second in the Silicon Valley, and hiking all over, I also spotted quite a few souls who had been spat out by this sunny, mild yet merciless environment. The Jungle, a massive tent city in San Jose, has been cleared, but each night, there are around 5,000 San Joseans sleeping outside, though they are scattered at roughly 200 spots and less visible. California itself has more homeless people than any other state, and 4.3% of its school children, incredibly, don’t have stable or adequate housing. These kids must sleep in a shelter, a single room with their parents and siblings, a garage, a car or a tent.

Fully ten percent of school kids in Sunnyvale, in the heart of Silicon Valley, fall into this miserable category. Needless to say, they aren’t likely to be immersed in any subject, much less Chinese.

Meanwhile, luxury condos and homes keep springing up, for besides the infusion of Chinese money, our inflated stock market is benefiting, especially, the many high profile, sexy companies that dot the Bay Area such as Apple, Adobe, Google, Yahoo!, FaceBook, PayPal, Yelp, Netflix and Twitter, etc.

Outside of Manhattan, no other region has gained so much from the banksters’ quantitative easing. When this stock mania crashes and burns, the Bay Area will also be charred. 

Meanwhile, everything seems to be improving, and Twitter has even moved its headquarters into the Tenderloin, San Francisco’s most wretched neighborhood. Located right downtown, in the shadow of City Hall, it’s inevitable that this pocket of transient hotels, urine reeking sidewalks, thousands of homeless, bodegas and cheap Vietnamese eateries would be gentrified. One night, I found myself in The Basement, a hip, happening new bar at Taylor and Turk. It’s co-owned by Lieu, someone from my same high school in East San Jose, although we didn’t know each other then. Though roughly my age, 51, Lieu looks so young, he’s probably carded at every bar not his own, and with my white hair, I’m like his granddad.

The Basement used to be occupied by Club 222, with the legendary Black Hawk right next door. (It's now a parking lot.) Musicians from Miles to Dizzy used Club 222 as a green room before they exited it through the back to enter the jazz club. At The Basement, all the beers are microbrews, with nothing under $5. Lieu doesn’t want the Tenderloin's riffraff to wander in to order a can of Bud or Miller. “This neighborhood is moving up,” he said.

“Ah, man, won’t you miss people defecating on the sidewalks?”

“Get that shit out of here!”

This night, there was a comedy open mike. I asked Lieu if the poetry slam crowd had approached him.

“Yes, but I turned them down.”


“Poets don’t drink enough.”

That’s a sure sign of a collapsing society! The two bartenders were young, pretty women, with one white, one Chinese. The Basement also has a hunky Swedish guy to attract the ladies. Leaving The Basement, I reentered the Tenderloin proper and promptly saw a young yet haggard white woman, in tight jeans and no shoes, just socks, flashing for a black man leaning against a frail, half dead tree. Seeing me, she smiled most crookedly, ran up, turned around, pulled down and leaned over to display her cheeks. Trying to panhandle from me, an older black woman screamed at this exhibitionist to shoo her away. With yuppies and hipsters invading the Tenderloin, it’s hoped that scenes like this will gradually disappear from San Francisco, but if the economy collapses, and it will soon enough, you will see this spread all over.

Ah, California, you will turn bone dry and shirk off your weeping children by the millions! Announcing the state’s first ever mandatory restrictions on water usage, Governor Brown reminded us, “For over ten thousand years, some people say twenty thousand years, people lived in California, but the number of those people were never more than 300,000 or 400,000, as far as we know, and they lived much simpler, and they were able to move when a drought occurred, or fires occurred. They could cope.

Now, we’re embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried, ever, in the history of mankind, and that’s 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at a level of comfort that we all strive to attain.” Weaned from abundant resources, we will have to strive to attain less.

In a country where political speeches, elections and even terrorist attacks are but elaborate theatrical productions, California is the longest show running, designed to convince everyone everywhere, and even Californians themselves, that here is the epitome of the American Dream, and that it’s surfing along just fine. Just outside the spotlight, however, are all sorts of frightful omens.

The next act will be a scream.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

At an Earth Day press conference at the State Capitol, Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) announced the introduction of legislation, Senate Bill 788, to forever protect the coast of California from new offshore oil development in state waters.

McGuire appeared with other legislators and representatives of a broad coalition of fishing and environmental groups that are supporting the measure. Three Indian Tribes   - the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Sherwood Band of Pomo Indians and the Smith River Rancheria - are backing the legislation. Two representatives of the United Native Americans organization also stood with a banner at the event in support of the legislation.

He said this bill "will protect our pristine beaches and benefit our coastal and state economy from what be the devastating impacts of an offshore oil bill."

Surrounding McGuire and other speakers were dramatic photos of the birds harmed by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969. The oil spill directly spurred the creation of Earth Day in 1970, first in the United States and then in countries throughout the world.

“We have to close the loophole in state law that could allow for new offshore oil development,” Senator McGuire said. “After all of the work that we have done to protect our coast and our environment, it’s unconscionable to think that there is a loophole that could lead to additional drilling in state water. It poses too great a risk.”

Senator McGuire introduced SB 788 – The Coastal Protection Act – to close that loophole and "forever protect California’s coast."

“A year after the terrible oil spill in Santa Barbara, locals got together and held the first-ever Earth Day," McGuire told the crowd at the Capitol. "Every year since then, for 45 years now, we have celebrated these efforts to protect our environment from the devastating impacts a sizeable oil spill off our coast would have on our natural resources, our ocean and our coastal dependent economies."

California has the world’s eighth largest economy and coastal communities contribute $40 billion annually to the state’s economy, and provide nearly half a million important jobs.

Commercial fisheries in the state are valued at more than $7 billion annually, while recreational fishing is valued at over $2 billion annually along California’s coast, according to Tim Sloane, the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and others who spoke at the event. Ocean dependent tourism is valued at over $10 billion annually.

The California Coastal Sanctuary Act, passed in 1994, contains a loophole from the offshore extraction prohibition, Public Resources Code 6244, by allowing new oil leases if the “State Lands Commission determines that oil and gas deposits contained in tidelands are being drained by means of wells upon adjacent federal lands and leasing of the tidelands for oil or gas production is in the best interest of the State.”

SB 788 would eliminate this loophole by repealing PRC 6244 to ensure that the Coastal Sanctuary Act and Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) are able to provide their intended protections for our coastal resources and prevent additional offshore oil extraction.

For over a decade, fishing groups, Indian Tribes and grassroots environmentalists  criticized the implementation phase of the Marine Life Protection Act, the MLPA Initiative, for failing to protect the ocean from offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing gathering.

Edward Moreno, Policy Advocate with Sierra Club California, recalled the tremendous damage to California fish and wildlife caused by the 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara.

"More than 45 years ago, California witnessed just how dangerous and damaging offshore oil drilling can be," said Moreno. "A massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara shocked the nation and launched the modern environmental movement. It spurred the passage of some of the most important federal and state laws designed to protect our air and water quality, wildlife, and natural heritage."

However, over the years, oil industry interests have managed to carve out an exception in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act of 1994, Moreno noted.

"SB 788 will undo the effects of the oil industry's lobbying," said Moreno. "It will help make sure that no part of California's coastline is open to new oil drilling."

Rachel Binah, Environmental Caucus Chair, Emerita (California Democratic Party), said how the slogan for the campaign to ban offshore oil drilling off California was "Save the Kansas coast."

"Our coast belongs to all Americans, not just Californians," she explained.

She concluded, "This has been a long struggle. Elected officials all over the state of California know that protection for our coast and ocean is supported by all Californians, no matter their political party. Now, thanks to Senator McGuire, the next step is being taken."

SB 788 has broad support from legislators, fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental groups. The principal coauthors are Senators Jackson and Leno and Assemblymember Levine. Coauthors are Senators Allen, Hancock, and Wolk and Assemblymembers Dodd, Wood, Mark Stone, and Williams.

Organizations backing SB 788 include: the California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, California Sea Urchin Commission, California Sport Fishing League, California Trout, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Coast Seafoods Company, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment California, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Environmental Defense Fund, Fishing Vessel Corregidor, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Heal the Bay, Hog Island Oyster Company, Humboldt Baykeeper, Kayak Zak’s, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Mad River Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Outfall Group, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center, Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Sierra Club California, Smith River Rancheria, Surfrider Foundation, The Northcoast Environmental Center, The Wildlands Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Native Americans and West Marin Environmental Action Committee.

You can expect the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the oil companies to fiercely oppose SB 788, just as they did a previous bill addressing the oil industry loophole last year.

Tupper Hull, a spokesman for WSPA, told the Daily Breeze the bill "is a poor solution" to protect the state’s coast and combat oil operations.(

“I’ve heard this proposal in at least two other legislative sessions,” said Hull. “There seems to be an abundance of organizations with very strong opinions about energy production in California. What they never seem willing to confront is the fact that we are the third largest gas and diesel consumer in the world. The only political jurisdictions that use more oil and gas are China and the U.S. as a whole. We’re an enormous market for the products."

In an egregious conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the lead lobbyist for fracking and offshore drilling in California, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Southern California coast. She also served on the panels to create "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

The WSPA is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California. The WSPA set a new spending record, $8.9 million, lobbying state officials in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013. (

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.” (


  1. Lazarus April 25, 2015

    Good luck with forever banning anything anywhere Mike…maybe he should partner up with Jim Wood who wants prescription pain pills that don’t dissolve…?

  2. james marmon April 25, 2015

    The Board of Supervisors will never admit that they made a mistake with the privatization of mental health services, and none of us will ever know just how bad things are until the State steps in. Medi-Cal reimbursement for services is going to be interesting, billing is highly scrutinized by the State and counties are often punished for over billing. Over the years Mendocino County has already been disciplined for over billing and has been forced to pay back millions of dollars.

    Ortner and Redwood both bill Medi-Cal by the minute and the more creative they can be, the more money in their pockets. Furthermore, Ortner and Redwood will not be held responsible for any overbilling, that responsibility will lie with the County because the County has to rubber stamp all billing before it goes to the State.

    The Board of Supervisors have put a lot of faith in Pinizzotto and the two “for profit” agencies to provide services to the mentally ill in Mendocino County and save General Fund dollars. It’s going to be a “wait and see” how the State reacts to the current billing practices of these agencies because audits can take a couple of years or more before they’re concluded.

  3. Harvey Reading April 25, 2015

    Hadn’t seen anything from Linh Dinh recently. Apparently Counterpunch, which has changed a lot since Cockburn died, dropped him?

  4. Judy Valadao April 25, 2015

    Out of town/county letters written in favor of the Old Coast Hotel…Even the “fill in” Police Chief wrote one in favor of the location. Odd for someone who will be leaving in a week or two. Why does the Fort Bragg City Council listen to those who live out of the area but not to those who live within the community? The place is a money maker for Ortner, a trophy for Anna Shaw and a statement by the Council. They have made it perfectly clear they will not listen. I believe this was a done deal before the public was even made aware of it.

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