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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Jun 1, 2015

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ON MAY 30, 2015 at about 10:30pm, a 1999 Chevy Cavalier driven by a sole occupant was traveling eastbound on Highway 128 near Indian Creek Road [near the Madrones mini-development] in Philo when for reasons still under investigation the Chevy [crossed the yellow line and] collided head-on with a 1998 Subara Forester driving by another sole occupant traveling westbound at that location. Both parties required extrication from their vehicles by the Jaws of Life operated by local emergency personnel. The [as yet unidentified) 36-year old male Ukiah resident driving the Chevy Cavalier was flown via Calstar helicopter to Enlow Hospital in Chico with major injuries including a broken femur. The as-yet unidentified [and unresponsive] 26-year old male driver of the Subaru, a resident of Corvallis, Oregon, was transported via ground ambulance to Ukiah Valley Medical Center with major injuries, also including a broken femur. Alcohol appears to have been a factor in the collision [possibly on the part of both drivers]. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision which is still under investigation. (CHP Press Release — [notes inserted by AVA based on scanner traffic])

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by Mark Scaramella

The late Alexander Cockburn famously compared the 19th century Irish starved off their land during the potato famine while the British exported food from Irish farms to the murderous onslaught against the Indians of Northern California. “As here, economics and land acquisition were driving forces. The Irish were portrayed as hairy savages in the British press and pushed onto tiny plots of land. During the potato famine grain was shipped right past dying Irish people because to feed dying people would be to ‘interfere with the laws of the marketplace’.”

Cockburn noted that wherever there was genocide there were anthropologists, some of whom were "out and out spies like Evans Pritchard who remitted detailed information about Indians and their encampments to the Cavalry for cash after having done their kinship structures and verification interviews.” Cockburn also quoted anthropologist Alfred Kroeber's mystification at the demoralized Indians of Northern California. “There is now (1910)," Kroeber wrote, "one Indian for every eight who was here in 1850. The causes of this decline are obscure.” Cockburn said people on the receiving end of murder have two choices: “We can crawl around like guinea pigs — or stand up like a Bear.”

Cockburn added, “The Yurok were, Kroeber wrote on one occasion, an ‘inwardly fearful people — the men often seemed to me withdrawn.’ Kroeber mused that ‘for some reason, the culture had simply gone hypochondriac.’ Kroeber never got around to mentioning that between 1848, the start of the gold rush, and 1910, the Yurok population in the region was reduced from about two and a half thousand individuals to about 610. Disease, starvation and murder had wiped out about 75% of the group. It is as though an anthropologist studying the inward fears of Polish Jews never mentioned Auschwitz.”

No one would mistake the Board of Supervisors and their well-paid staff of self-described helpers of Mendo’s unhoused street tribes as anthropologists, but amateur anthropological opinions seem to be the only thing Mendo has to offer.

* * *

Back in December when the 2015 “Point In Time Count” of Mendo’s homeless population was first discussed, the minutes of the Count Committee meeting stated: “Point-in-Time/Survey Committee: Hand warmers, rain ponchos and snacks [aka “incentive packs” or “little incentive bags” — It seems the homeless didn't spend the measly five bucks “appropriately”] will be given out in place of the $5 incentive [“gift”] card for responding to the survey. Homeless persons completing surveys will still be paid $5 in cash for every two surveys they complete. [Two years ago it was $5 per survey.] Surveys are going out for printing as well as flyers and they still need help. If anyone is interested in volunteering, they should include their name, contact information, and location they want to participate at. The Youth Activities under the We Count! Grant(s) are being planned and they need additional volunteers to conduct them in addition to sites such as the Family Resource Centers to hold the activities at. The activities will be happening throughout the day of the count at these locations. The courts are also in support and have set it up to where Drug Court Participants can participate in the Count and have it count as community service hours.”

Anna Shaw
Anna Shaw

Anna Shaw, Director of the Coast Hospitality Center (the group that’s expecting to move into Fort Bragg's Old Coast Hotel), sounded excited when she announced the upcoming Count in December of 2014:

“It's the time of year when we who work in homeless services do our annual Point In Time Count (PIC). [PITC?] This is when local volunteers, agency representatives and homeless volunteers themselves join together to count all [sic] the homeless in Mendocino County. The biannual ‘Point in Time’ count of the homeless takes place very soon. This count is required by HUD, and the better job we do of it, the more we can directly improve our services and those of other agencies like other agencies. Data from the count in 2011 was used for pending grant projects that will positively impact local homeless. If you are interested in volunteering for the project, please join us for a training session at one of the orientations listed below. It is an excellent way to give back to your community and build connections with community members from all walks of life in the process. Mileage is paid for drivers. It is and will be a fun and safe adventure. Every group is part of a team of three, which includes one homeless person, a staff member and a community volunteer. There are safety guidelines and we adventure with flashlights and a snack pack. We hope for a beautiful dawn.”

Translation: The more of these people we count, the more money the government will give us to help them.

Neither Ms. Shaw nor any other members of the County’s “Homeless Services Planning Continuum of Care,” formerly the “Homeless Services Planning Group” have identified any “projects” which “positively impact local homeless.”

But they certainly have positively impacted the coffers of the Homeless Services Planning Continuum of Care.

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Last Tuesday’s presentation of the 2015 Homeless Survey to the Board of Supervisors began when Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer introduced Sandi Canaday, “Program Administrator for Health and Human Services (HHS) Adult Services and the Chair of the Homeless Services Planning Continuum of Care.”

Ms. Canaday told the Supervisors that the Count is required by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to continue to receive Continuum of Care funding. In fact, she said, HUD provided a total of about $2.1 million in total grants to the Continuum of Care recipients in Mendocino County in 2015.

According to Ms. Canaday, the money went to the Mendocino Community Development Commission (CDC), the Ford Street Project, and HHS, from where some of it trickled down to the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (an Ortner subcontractor) in Fort Bragg, and the Ford Street Project in Ukiah. The latter two organizations provide very limited “transitional housing” and “supportive services.” None of the other participating organizations got any of the $2.1 million, nor, of course, did the homeless.

The Count, Ms. Canaday explained, involves tallying people in shelters and transitional housing, plus people staying in places “not meant for human habitation” (streets, cars, bridges, tents, porches, driveways, “outdoors,” etc.). The Count does not include “couch surfers” or temporary visitors and family members who come for a visit and never leave.

Ms. Canaday then introduced Paul Davis who works for Hospitality House and is Chair of Point in Time Count committee.

Davis explained that the survey form had 40 intrusive questions addressing “service utilization, medical coverage, education history, income, runaway history, pregnancy status, and criminal history.”

Mr. Davis described the difficulty he and his staff had in getting the lengthy HUD survey forms down to one legal size sheet of paper “to save on printing costs.”

Not every homeless person encountered was individually surveyed. In cases where they came across groups of people who didn’t want to participate, they took “observational data” — counts, ethnicity, age range, and, if known, why the people in groups weren’t surveyed.

A few homeless people helped with the surveys. They got $10 an hour plus $5 for every two completed surveys. Davis giggled a bit when he noted that the “incentive pack” included a rain poncho: “But there hasn’t been much rain.”

Davis’s Count Committee held many meetings to plan for the Count (using up a nice chunk of the $2 mil, no doubt), reviewing past Counts, looking at changes to the survey that HUD may have made since the last Count, and “we brainstormed for new ideas.”

In November the enumerators held a four-hour training and planning session attended by over 20 people who broke up into “action elements” for Count preparation: groups included General Planning, PR and marketing, training, survey development, and budgeting. They made schedules and plans and came up with several “good ideas.” One “good idea” was putting out flyers and buying radio spots to “let homeless people know what we were doing” so they’d “participate and be available for surveying.”

The committee also identified homeless camps they already knew about from prior surveys or other contacts.

On the Coast, the area Mr. Davis manages, Davis sadly noted that, “Our community volunteer trainings were not very well attended.” Plus on the day of the Count ten homeless volunteers who had attended the trainings, didn’t show up for the Count.

That bad start only got worse. “In spite of our efforts, when survey groups arrived at known homeless encampments the homeless people were not there in many cases. We were able to conduct only a relative handful of surveys on the day of the count. And our observation of homeless individuals who could not be surveyed did not come close to adding up to the amount of people that our organization has on its roster. There was evidence of recent activity in many of those locations, but not many people to be found. In the days following Count Day we attempted to identify as many street homeless as possible with the help of homeless survey workers, staff from our organization including some of our board members and several community volunteers. Many of the homeless individuals, especially young people ages 18-24 refused to take the survey and many were agitated and had a lot of skepticism about the idea of being surveyed. In spite of that we were able to deliver approximately 150 surveys. But that's only about 50 more than the number of people we typically serve.”

Wait a minute. $2.1 million per year to “serve” 100 people on the coast? The Counters say 40% of the homeless are on the Coast, so that’s per $8400 per “client” per year — the equivalent of $700 a month rent.

Lessons Learned: In the future Davis said he and the Counters will consider random samples from selected locations and extrapolate the number of homeless from their observations. "I'm personally in favor of that," Davis said. "It might be better suited to us and more cost-effective” (i.e., less work for the surveyors). “And it would give us more accurate and usable data. [sic] Our committee will be discussing that for the next Count.”

"Funding is limited in most of our communities for street outreach,” continued Davis, “but I think we could benefit from doing more of that [“outreach”] so that the people we count are more educated on the value of this data collection."

Veronica Irwin is Project Manager for Homeless Services at Ford Street Project in Ukiah.

“57 workers and volunteers participated in the inland count,” said Irwin. “About 175 surveys were completed. We had similar problems, volunteers not showing up for training, then not showing up for the count. We had a number of homeless people signed up to help with surveys, but only three showed up that morning. So a lot of our specific knowledge about the encampments was lost because we did not have those people to go out with us.

"One team went out to known encampments that are extremely remote. But unfortunately they didn't find anyone, even in places that had long established and known encampments. We ran across places where there was obviously an encampment as there were sleeping bags, camp stoves and lots of other camping equipment there, but no one was present.”

When the team went out the night before Count Day to a known encampment in the "Perkins area" (outside Ukiah city limits) “they found a huge encampment and were told they were not welcome there. And they were told to leave immediately. They did their best to get an idea of the number of people that were there but in the best interests of their own safety and out of respect for the people that were there the team quickly left."

"We experienced a lot more aggression this year directed at volunteers than we have in the past as well as low participation by homeless persons despite the financial incentive [sic — $10 an hour for less than a day, plus $2.50 per survey]. I actually feel that because we used to do $5 for every survey, this year it was $5 for every two surveys and previously the respondents received a $5 gift card that they could spend. But this time it was a gift package and I just feel it wasn't quite as good a response because those things had changed. We believe there may have been a collaborative effort on the part of the homeless this year to avoid being surveyed."

Supervisor Tom Woodhouse: “I've witnessed that too, that it is getting more aggressive out there for people at times. It's a sad big change."

Irwin: “We are focusing more in our surveys to work with the chronically homeless who had been on the streets longer and trying to make an impact there."

The total Count of homeless for 2015 was 1032. Two years ago it was 1344.

“Very few youth showed up for any of the outreach events,” lamented Ms. Irwin. “And overall many of the young people simply refused to be surveyed and expressed agitation and skepticism about the surveys."

About $3800 was spent in direct costs for the count. Most of that was spent on "supplies," the rest on mileage and "labor."

Mendo’s Point in Time Committee was made up of ten paid staff representatives from the Coast Hospitality Center, County Adult Services, Willits Community Services, Love In Action (a Ukiah non-profit), Redwood Community Services (another Ortner subcontractor), and the Ford Street Project. Oversight was provided by Ms. Canaday’s Continuum of Care Committee.

Supervisor Woodhouse asked, “Why is the number of chronically homeless down so dramatically?”

Canaday: "We have not changed anything. The questions are provided by HUD specifically for the chronically homeless. It's self reporting. We just ask the questions. I would say probably a big percentage of that reduction is that we overall captured a lot less this year." (I.e., the reason it’s down is because we didn’t count as many.)

Supervisor John McCowen: "The count is way down. We're dealing with a very transient population that shifts around frequently. Plus some of the other issues described. I think it's appropriate to look at alternative methodologies but in the meantime what is the potential impact of the reduced count on our ability to receive funding? Will this hurt our chances in securing funding because the count is down? A superficial glance at that could say, Oh, they don't have much of a need any longer because of these reduced numbers? Or is there a way to overcome that?"

Canaday: “I wouldn't know exactly what the response would be for that, but I would say that HUD's goal is to end homelessness. So I think contributing constantly to what we have—”

Veronica Irwin (of the Ford Street Project) jumped in: “I would just like to share that we have had a lot of fluctuations in the Point in Time Count in the past. HUD has told us over and over and over again in all of the — everything they give us, they understand that this is a snapshot, a look at one night within our population, they understand that our methodologies do not include a lot of people, that we try to capture those who we know where they are and are more visible. But they made an effort to not be visible this year and it was really hard to count them. So I do not see anything within the HUD guidelines or in any of the literature they provide that the amount provided to us and what we’re eligible for has anything to do with the results of this. It has to do with the numbers that we serve as long as we meet our targets in our programs, which we have consistently done, as well as continuing to demonstrate the need within our community."

Lizzie Guthrie of MCAVN (Mendocino County AIDS Volunteer Network): "It was our group that went out the night before. We went to 17 places right here in the Ukiah Valley where there are normally homeless people. I agree with everyone who has spoken. For whatever reason this year it was almost like, Let's all vacate. So we really do have a count that does not include many homeless people that many of our agencies are familiar with. When we would ask them a day or two later why they weren’t there, I won't even say some of the expletives that came back at us about, you know, it's no good, it's not going to help, they just want information — there is a lot of mentally ill people and people who have extreme mental health disorders that were actually the hardest to reach in this endeavor.”

In other words, you have to be crazy or drug-addled or drunk to be skeptical of this entire unhelpful charade?

“Those of us who served those populations feel pretty badly that not even us were able to get some information that would have been very very helpful,” continued Ms. Guthrie. “So that overall count, it's my belief that it's not true and that there are many many more, particularly those who are the most vulnerable who were the least likely to be surveyed."

Board Chair Carre Brown: “According to the Coast Survey it says that they went to many locations but not many people were found. So maybe they have their own communications network." (Laughs)

Stacy Cryer: “We try to not to— we try to destigmatize.”

“Destigmatize.” This is one of the latest PC buzzwords introduced locally by former Ortner Honcho now County Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto. If you’re onboard with the Helping Professionals you “destigmatize.” If not, you’re a negative “stigmatizer” — akin to a racist, homophobe or anti-Semite. If you oppose turning the Old Coast Hotel in downtown Fort Bragg to a mental health facility, you’re a “stigmatizer.”

Cryer continued: “If we think about our own personal reactions to a census count and how many of us hide off the grid during a census count that's done by the federal government, it shouldn't surprise us that homeless people react the same way. None of us want to be counted by ‘the Man’ — the government.”

Yeah — that’s right. There must be a lot of Fox News watchers among the local homeless.

“Part of it might just be that,” continued Cryer. “Lack of trust, mistrust in governmental organizations that we see across the country. I’m just trying to put everything in perspective. We know we don't have enough housing. We are working on it in every way we know how [sic] across the spectrum with many of our partners and we definitely need more housing. Housing First is a great model. We have applied for that funding but we didn't get it. We will apply again and hopefully we will have better luck in trying to position ourselves along the way to be in line for that.”

Supervisor Dan Hamburg, as usual, went Irrelevant Bigthink: “I'm glad I didn't speak before because the last dozen speakers have been amazing and inspiring and I really respect what you're doing and I don't envy you the work that you're doing. Stacey, as you often do, you kind of hit it on the head. The fact that a lot of homeless people don't trust the people who come to help them makes them like most people in this country — I'm from the government and I'm here to help you [smiles]. You don't have to be homeless or mentally ill to look askance at that kind of comment. It really does get back to the fact that there really isn't a lot of trust of the government and that is pretty well founded. Somebody sent me a report today with an email by Senator Elizabeth Warren who has become kind of a champion of the vanishing middle class and the fact that so much of the economic benefit that has been derived in this country has been over the last two decades to the top 1%. This is the fallout from that to some measure. I'm not saying that's all of it. But what Senator Warren is talking about is how this two decades of hollowing out the middle class and creating more poverty is coming home to roost. I wish she would run for president instead of some of the people who are [Hamburg couldn’t bring himself to utter the word “Hillary”] because I think she really gets it but I don't want to go into a long speech but I do want to really thank the people here for what you're doing and your courage and your steadfastness and your willingness to do some really unglamorous work on behalf of the County. Thank you.”

Woodhouse: “I don't always agree with Supervisor Hamburg. But thank you very much. I wasn’t surprised at the aggressive behavior because there were some people who are on drugs and fighting and everybody gets crazy when they are inebriated.” (Another vote for only-drunks and crazy people would avoid Mendo’s wonderful helpers.)

“But I wanted to comment,” continued Woodhouse, “I think it's a little off subject, but I think it's — in Willits, Our Daily Bread serves at St. Anthony's and they have been under pressure for a long time and now they're closing at the end of the month, so I see the pressure on a lot of homeless people and maybe there's less marijuana money, the businesses are feeling it, and the homeless are probably getting less income. I think it's genuine frustration and fear out there."

Board Chair Brown had difficulty figuring out how to end the entirely useless rambling hour-long discussion: “Do we have a motion? Do we need a motion? To receive, um, the information? Then— uh, the Chair says we have the receipt [of the report] and [laughs uncomfortably] we will go forward with no motion. I want to thank staff and everyone who has come today to present. It's very useful information sent for us. I know you'll continue to work and try to analyze the data that was collected as we go forward but I want to thank you for all your hard work and the organizations that work with you. Okay. Thank you so much.”

Not one word about spending some of the $2 million — per year — on actual housing or work farms. Instead, Mendocino County “will go forward with no motion.”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 31, 2015

Caradine, Cunningham, Gonzales
Caradine, Cunningham, Gonzales

DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Possession of controlled substance / without prescription, possession of hash oil, probation revocation.

NICOLE CUNNINGHAM, Redwood Valley. False ID, battery on peace officer, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

DARREN GONZALES, Manchester. Drunk in public.

Hawkins, Hodges, Jordan-Figura
Hawkins, Hodges, Jordan-Figura

JARED HAWKINS, Fort Bragg. Vandalism.

JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Petty theft, probation revocation.

ISAIAH JORDAN-FIGURA, Antelope/Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

Lenhart, Ocobock, Wall
Lenhart, Ocobock, Wall

ASHLEY LENHART, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

CHERRAL OCOBOCK, Hopland. Possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

JENNIFER WALL, Eureka/Ukiah. Vehicle theft, shoplifting, petty theft, receipt of stolen property, possession of controlled substance.

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From Reporter to Courtier

by Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair

This week many liberals gasped when Bob Woodward showed up on Fox News to defend George Bush and Dick Cheney’s prosecution of the Iraq War. Woodward told Chris Wallace that neither Bush nor Cheney lied about Iraq’s WMDs, that the intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons wasn’t seriously flawed and that the disastrous war against Saddam Hussein was probably justified. In the condescending tone that Woodward has mastered, he told Wallace that:

Iraq is a symbol. You can make a persuasive argument there was a mistake. But there is a kinda line going on that Bush and the other people lied about this. I spent 18 months looking at how Bush decided to invade Iraq. Lots of mistakes, but it was Bush telling George Tenet the CIA director, don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD. He was the one who was skeptical. If you try to summarize why we went into Iraq, it was momentum. The war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end, people were saying, ‘Hey, look, it will only take a week or two.’ Early on it looked like it was going to take a year or 18 months, so Bush pulled the trigger. A mistake certainly can be argued, and there is an abundance of evidence. But there was no lie in this that I could find.

Of course, for those who have been paying attention, this kind of courtly palaver is nothing new for Woodward. For the past 40 years, he has functioned as more of a courtier of the power elite, a stenographer for the imperial front office, than the investigative reporter who helped bring down the Nixon White House. (Recall that Carl Bernstein was the red-diaper baby, Bob Woodward came out of Naval intelligence, and probably never left.) Woodward was a favored scribe in both Bush White Houses, privileged with inside access granted to no other reporters, and his three books on the Bush family’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be charitable beyond measure.

Over the years, Woodward had cultivated a particularly intimate relationship with Dick Cheney, who the reporter, perhaps alone in the world, came to view as something akin to the new von Clausewitz. On several occasions, Woodward went out of his way to use his position at the Washington Post to attack critics of the Bush administration, even when those critics were his own colleagues at the paper. In mid-November of 2007, Alexander Cockburn and I wrote this story about one of Woodward’s nastier escapades, his creepy role in the attempt by Cheney’s office to smear Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame. Woodward not only minimized the crimes of the Cheney crowd, but his testimony before Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald also exposed his colleague Walter Pincus to potential legal sanctions. There’s a reason that Woodward, despite filing one dubious story after another, retains his position as an éminence grise of DC reporters and Seymour Hersh is treated a meddlesome outcast.

– Jeffrey St. Clair

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It’s been a devastating fall for what are conventionally regarded as the nation’s two premier newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Times’s travails and the downfall of its erstwhile star reporter, Judy Miller, have been newsprint’s prime soap opera since late spring and now, just when we were taking a breather before the Scooter Libby trial, the Washington Post is writhing with embarrassment over the multiple conflicts of interest of its most famous staffer, Bob Woodward, best known to the world as Nixon’s nemesis in the Watergate scandal.

In mid-November 2007, Woodward quietly made his way to the law office of Howard Shapiro, of the firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Doar, and gave a two-hour deposition to Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, a man he had denounced on tv the night before Scooter Libby’s indictment as “a junkyard dog of a prosecutor”.

Woodward’s deposition had been occasioned by a call to Fitzgerald from a White House official on November 3, a week after Libby had been indicted. The official told Fitzgerald that the prosecutor had been mistaken in claiming in his press conference that Libby had been the first to disclose the fact that Joseph Wilson’s wife [i.e., Valerie Plame] was in the CIA. The official informed Fitzgerald that he himself had divulged Plame’s job to Bob Woodward in a mid-June interview, about a week before Libby told Miller the same thing.

Seeing his laboriously constructed chronology collapse in ruins, weakening his perjury and obstruction case against Libby, Fitzgerald summoned Woodward that same day, November 3. Woodward, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor, no doubt found the call an unwelcome one, he had omitted to tell any of his colleegues at the Post that he’d been the first journalist to be on the receiving end of a leak from the White House about Plame. He’d kept his mouth shut while two of his colleagues, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler had been hauled before Fitzgerald. He only told Post editor Len Downie a few days before Libby was indicted.

Shortly after the call from Fitzgerald, Woodward informed Downie that he would have to testify. Afterwards, the Post carried a somewhat acrid news story along with Woodward’s account of his testimony. Later in the day, Howard Kurtz posted a commentary on the Post’s website. It’s clear from the news story and Kurtz’s piece that his colleagues find Woodward’s secretive conduct unbecoming (Downie tamely said it was a “mistake”) and somewhat embarassing, given all the huff-and-puff about Judy “Miss Run Amok” Miller’s high-handed ways with her editors.

And just as Miller and her editors differed strongly on whether the reporter had told them what she was up to, so too did Woodward’s account elicit a strenuous challenge from the Post’s long-time national security correspondent, Walter Pincus.

In Woodward’s account of his testimony (which he took care to have vetted and later publicly approved by the Post’s former editor Ben Bradlee), he wrote that he told Prosecutor Fitzgerald that he had shared this information — Plame’s employment with the CIA — with Pincus. But Pincus is adamant that Woodward did no such thing. When the Post’s reporters preparing their story quizzed him about Woodward’s version Pincus answered, “Are you kidding? I certainly would have remembered that.”

Pincus told Joe Stroup of Editor & Publisher later that he had long suspected that Woodward was somehow entangled in the Plame affair. After Fitzgerald was appointed special prosecutor in the fall of 2003 Woodward had gone to Pincus and asked his colleague, in Pincus’s words, “to keep him out of the reporting, and I agreed to do that.”

Like many others, the Washington Post’s staff had vivid memories of Woodward’s unending belittling of the whole Plame affair as something of little consequence,”laughable”, “quite minimal”. Woodward said it on the Larry King Show the night before the indictments, almost as if he was trying to send Fitzgerald a coded message.

For months Woodward has been working on a book about Bush’s second term. The White House, ecstatic at Woodward’s highly flattering treatment of Bush in Plan of Attack and Bush at War (Washington’s retort to the Harry Potter series), has been giving Woodward extraordinary access, confident that he will put a kindly construction on their disastrous handling of the nation’s affairs.

Judy Miller was savaged for accepting what she claimed to be special credentials from the Pentagon in return for confidentiality. So what are we to say about Woodward, who is given special access and then repays the favor by belittling the Plame scandal, while simultaneously concealing his own personal knowledge of the White House’s schedule on the outing of Valerie Plame?

Woodward did not disclose his potential conflict of interest while he was pontificating on the airwaves about the Plame affair, but he also apparently succeeded in stifling an investigation into his own role by his colleague Pincus. He may have also placed Pincus in legal jeopardy with his testimony to Fitzgerald that he had informed Pincus in June of 2003 about Plame. Pincus had testified under oath to Fitzgerald in September of 2004 that his first knowledge of Plame’s employer had come in a conversation with a White House source at a later date.

So who was Woodward’s source and what was his motive in calling Patrick Fitzgerald the week after Libby’s indictment to disclose that he had talked to Woodward before Libby began his own speed-dial leaking? Woodward says it wasn’t White House chief of staff Andrew Card. Rove’s lawyer says it wasn’t his client. Woodward also says he interviewed his source with 18 pages of questions, whose topics included yellowcake from Niger and the infamous October 2003 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s alleged WMD.

After this initial interview with a White House official in mid-June 2003, Woodward learned enough that when he saw two other White House staffers shortly thereafter he had the phrase “Joe Wilson’s wife” among his questions. So the first official did the leaking. That man could well have been vice president Dick Cheney, since Woodward’s interview took place exactly at the time that Cheney’s office was buzzing with alarm after a call from Pincus telling them he was working on a story about Joe Wilson.

That afternoon Cheney informed Libby that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Libby spent the next week gathering a dossier on Plame. On June 23 Libby and Woodward talked on the phone. Woodward had his 18 pages of questions (meant for Cheney, according to Todd Purdum at the New York Times), and began to work his way through them. He says he can’t recall Libby bringing up Plame’s name.

It’s our guess that Libby, eager to broach Plame’s role to the Post’s renowned investigative reporter, finally wearied of the endless questions, cut Woodward off and hastened off to lunch with Judy Miller. Woodward claims he kept no notes, and so did Miller until her famous notebook with “Flame” in it turned up at the New York Times. All in all it was a bad leak day for Scooter, since Woodward wasn’t working as a reporter but as historian-courtier, and Miller had been taken off the story by her editors.

If Woodward’s first source was Cheney, why would the latter have called Fitzgerald on November 3? The admission by Cheney that he had spoken to Woodward could have been an attempt to derail Libby’s prosecution and also undercut possible charges of a breach of the Espionage Act, by playing into the line Woodward took on the Larry King Show and elsewhere, that this was no dreadful affront to national security, but indeed merely “gossip” and “chatter”.

So much for the fortune’s wheel. From Nixon’s nemesis to Cheney’s savior.

(Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: Courtesy,

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As the former owner of a successful business in Mendocino County, I never received so much as a thin dime of public subsidy from the County. Indeed, I had to pay many County fees just to open my doors. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, this is the way it should be in a free market economy.

Yet, there is one industry in our County that seems to think that it is entitled to a public subsidy, and that is the ranching industry. Currently Mendocino County has a contract with the USDA Wildlife Service for $142,356.00 to kill wild animals that are just trying to earn a living in their natural habitats which have been overrun by ranchers and their livestock. In 2012 alone, 459 wild animals were killed including 126 coyotes, 25 bears, 6 bobcats and 5 mountain lions. In essence, for the benefit of a few private ranchers, the public is being fleeced to pay for the slaughter of wild animals that belong to the public trust.

This is wrong on both economic and ecologic grounds. There are much more effective and less costly – non-lethal – predator control methods that ranchers could use to protect their livestock, so in effect, most of these wild animals are being killed needlessly. The County's contract with Wildlife Services is coming up for renewal, and the ranchers – those icons of rugged individualism – are whining loudly, demanding the continuation of their public subsidy. I urge everyone who cares about wildlife to contact your County Supervisor and ask that they terminate the Wildlife Services contract (

Just say NO to killing our wildlife for welfare ranchers.


Jon Spitz


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The last time I was In Los Angeles I saw a restaurant called, "Mendocino Farms Sandwiches and Marketplace (registered)" . I asked Angelenos, "What's up with Mendocino Farms?" I was told, "Really great sandwiches", "Awesome place; you have to try it!" No one said anything bad about Mendocino Farms, and while I wish I had time to go inside, I didn't. Months later, still wondering about Mendocino Farms, I wrote to Mendocino County Counsel, Douglas L. Losak, asking if there was any connection to Mendocino County with Mendocino Farms besides a "tribute" by the sandwich company?

It's my understanding that when it comes to food and beverages, names are brands, and brands can be based on location, for example, Champagne, from wikipedia: "Champagne (French: [ʃɑ̃.paɲ]; English /ˌʃæmˈpeɪn/) is a is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. Some use the term Champagne as a generic term for sparkling wine, but the majority of countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced under the rules of the appellation."

It's beyond my ability to understand why Mendocino County would not have an issue with a sandwich and marketplace registering the name, "Mendocino Farms", to a forprofit company's benifit and not the County's. Losak never responded to me. Maybe the County doesn't think it's a big deal, but the majority of countries reserve the name Champagne for sparkling wines from Champagne region of France. Aren't Mendocino's farms worth being reserved and protected for food from Mendocino's farms?

B.B. Grace, Fort Bragg

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CRAIG DOES D.C. — Following an early morning walk through the gauntlet of hookers at 12th & M Streets, I took a 7 A.M. bus trip to Georgetown, and since nobody was yet awake there, I went to DuPont Circle instead for breakfast, at Kramer Books & Cafe...and then enjoyed the DuPont Circle market, discussing the beneficial properties of fungi with North Cove Mushrooms. Am presently back at Hostelling International checking emails...and beyond this it's off to the Smithsonian Mall to hang out with the spiritually related artwork, such as the Indian sculptures at the Freer and Sackler galleries. Meanwhile, I am advocating that everybody now-the-wiser empty their minds of clutter, and allow themselves to be an unobstructing conduit for the flow of Divine energy, and then we may collectively enact critically necessary rituals, during this current, darkest phase of Kali yuga. N.B. Please appreciate the fact that I am interested in co-forming a spiritual group for the purpose of enacting effective spiritual rituals, as our further philosophical definition. Please contact me. Have empty mind, will travel!!

Craig Louis Stehr



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Hedrick Smith, perhaps America's leading journalist, joins John and Sid at KMEC Radio on Monday, June 1, at 1 p.m.. Pacific Time, to talk about "Reclaiming the American Dream".

KMEC Radio, your community radio, can be heard at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, California. We stream live from the web at

Our shows are archived at KMEC Radio and are posted to Youtube.

Hedrick Smith -- Pulitzer Prizes And Emmy Awards


Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself over the past 50 years of his career as one of America’s most distinguished journalists.

In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent, Smith was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. In 1974, Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Smith's Frontline shows, "The Wall Street Fix" and "Can You Afford to Retire?", won Emmies and two other awards, and his Frontline shows, "Critical Condition" and "Tax Me If You Can", were nominated. He has won or shared the Columbia-Dupont Gold Baton for the year’s best public affairs program on U.S. television twice. He has also won the George Polk, George Peabody and Hillman awards for his excellence in reporting along with two national public service awards

Smith's book "The Russians", based on his years as New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief from 1971-74, was a No. 1 American best-seller. It has been translated into 16 languages and has been widely used in university and college courses. His next book, "The Power Game: How Washington Works", was also a major best-seller. It became a bible for newly elected members of Congress and their staffs and was bedside reading for President Clinton. His newest book, "Who Stole the American Dream?", published by Random House in September 2012 , has been hailed by critics for brilliant analysis of political and economic trends and changes in the U.S. over the past 30-40 years.

Reclaiming The American Dream


Our political system is broken. Our economy isn’t fair. We keep telling Washington to fix things, but Washington has been corrupted by MegaMoney and captured by crony capitalism. We can’t wait any longer. It’s time for us to take action.

We get it, but we’re not sure where to begin. People worry that reform is impossible. Not true. It’s already happening in many places. Average Americans are making change happen at the grass roots. Their stories are inspiring. We can learn from them. Working together in our home states and communities, We the People can reclaim the American Dream.

That’s what this website is for – for sharing progress, restoring democracy, making our economy fairer. Our mission is to help you make change. We are non-partisan. We don’t have one pet solution we’re pushing. We’ve profiled several issues. We’ll do more. You decide. The main point is for you to get engaged, get active.

Our goal is to help you get started. Newcomers need an entry point to various pathways of reform. So we’re your gateway. We’re here to explain the issues. To show you where things are happening. To tell you success stories. To help you connect with organizations already at work on reform. So let’s get started.

— John Sakowicz



  1. Rick Weddle June 1, 2015

    re: reclaiming the ‘American Dream,’…

    Caution, please. A good deal of the definition of the Dream has been supplied to us for the vast benefit of a very few, at the vast expense of the rest of us. Watch out which parts of the nightmare your trying to save.

  2. Bill Pilgrim June 1, 2015

    re: Wildlife Services contract: seems fair to establish some kind of county fund that livestock ranchers to pay into for this service.
    Heck, many of us are having to pay that yearly CalFire fee (tax) even though we’re covered by local fire districts.

  3. John Sakowicz June 1, 2015

    I’ll ask exactly your question, Rick Weddle.

  4. Betsy Cawn June 1, 2015

    We were told that the Lake County Point-in-Time Count was held on a very cold day in January, when folks had just received whatever government stipend they get (SSI?) and were most likely tucked in somewhere warm and happy. In my home town (Upper Lake) we have a semi-permanent population of obviously “homeless” people who seem to be able to fend for themselves (at least, those with vehicles) and make no trouble for the townfolk. But the agencies that need to justify their own salaries are all out there looking for one more “helpless” person to suck in to their “data base” — the same as the Mental Health services agency (we don’t have Ortner, but I’m not sure we have any better), which can “only” afford to treat those who are suffering from psychotic breaks: in other words, those whose cases can be handled by the mandatory “5150” designation, requiring them to be temporarily incarcerated somewhere out of the County. We don’t have so much as a “wet room” in either of our hospitals, to allow a psychotic, diabetic, alcoholic, amphetamine-crazed poor son of a bitch to come down safely before they toss him in jail. I say, use the office buildings that all these bureaucrats occupy, turn them into mini-apartments, let them have all the drugs and alcohol they want, and leave them alone. Let the administrators figure out how to survive on $706 a month.

  5. Harvey Reading June 1, 2015

    ” … to give back to your community…” Chamber of Commerce-ese and nothing but. People who peddle that tripe are not people I want to be around.

    Can’t think of a damned thing my “community” has “given” me. Seems like I pay for whatever I get. Typical yuppie nonsense. The phrase should have placed in Cockburn’s tubril to the guillotine long ago.

  6. Randy Burke June 1, 2015

    If a homeless count was made under the bridge that spans the Gualala River, would there be a discussion of how many were residing as homeless on the Sonoma County side and how many were residing on the Mendocino side of the River? I suspect so.

  7. Randy Burke June 1, 2015

    Easy to count as the river runs dry

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