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Mendocino County Today: Friday, July 24. 2015

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BOWE BERGDAHL, the once-missing US soldier in Afghanistan released in a prisoner exchange and later accused of desertion, was an unexpected visitor in Mendocino County this week. He was visiting old friends when the local dope team arrived on a marijuana raid. Bergdahl, who is awaiting military court martial, had an Army pass allowing him to be in Mendocino County. He apparently had no connection to the dope grow. Still, military authorities were notified, and after calls "all the way up to the Pentagon," he was turned over to a military escort who came to Ukiah to fetch him.

BBergdahl, in/out of Army
BBergdahl, in/out of Army

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN CONFIRMED Thursday morning that Sgt. Bergdahl was indeed in Mendocino County on Tuesday morning when the County's drug task force raided a property on Tomki Road, Redwood Valley. Bergdahl, who is on active duty while he awaits his court martial, "was not involved" in the marijuana operation, the Sheriff said, adding that Bergdahl was "above politeness" as several people from the home where Bergdahl was visiting were taken into custody. The Sheriff said Bergdahl had "readily produced his military ID." Instantly aware that the Sgt. was a high profile person, the Sheriff's Department quickly confirmed that Bergdahl was on an authorized leave to visit friends in Northern California and uninvolved with marijuana production.

BERGDAHL had arrived last Friday at the remote property 7 miles northeast of central Redwood Valley, and was scheduled to return to the East Coast on Wednesday. He was not arrested. At the Pentagon's request, the combat veteran was transported by the Sheriff's Department to Santa Rosa where he was met by an Army major who was to accompany Bergdahl to his duty station near Washington.

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EXCELLENT REPORT by Jennifer Poole of the Willits Weekly on the ongoing problems with the Willits Bypass.

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Caltrans, Contractors Cited For Bypass Collapse

by Jennifer Poole, The Willits Weekly

A state investigation has determined the falsework that collapsed on the Willits bypass on January 22 “was not properly designed, was not erected as per the design plans, was missing components, [and] deficiencies were not identified when inspected and signed off by the project engineer for the company erecting it.”

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited all three employers at the worksite — Caltrans, Flatiron West, Inc., and “DeSilva Gates-Flatiron West: A Joint Venture” — for four “serious” violations. Those July 16, 2015, citations were for: failure to properly inspect the falsework; failure to make a thorough survey of the conditions of the site to determine “predictable hazards” to employees; failure to ensure vertical supports were erected on a “properly compacted and reasonably level” base; and failure to ensure the falsework was designed and erected to “assure its ability to withstand all intended loads.”

In addition to the “findings” quoted above, Cal/OSHA’s “Conclusion” says: “Multiple problems with missing and improperly installed components and the loss of support at a double-sill arrangement that did not have a double-cap restraint system installed was the root cause of the collapse. Unstable ground is still being investigated. The potential initiators of the double-sill failure were identified as improper cable tensions due to settlements and excessive joint take-up and an eccentric load induced into the falsework.”

Phil Frisbie, spokesman for Caltrans District 1, forwarded this formal statement from Caltrans Wednesday afternoon: “Safety remains Caltrans’ top priority and we will continue to work with Cal/OSHA and our contractors to ensure the safest workplace possible while we move forward on this critical project. The Willits bypass will ease congestion and improve air quality in the region for years to come.”
 Caltrans has been fined $5,400 for each violation, a total of $21,600. De Silva Gates-Flatiron West: A Joint Venture has been fined a total of $49,500. Flatiron West, Inc. has been fined a total of $93,900.

Willits Weekly asked Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton about the phrase: “Unstable ground is still being investigated.”

Was it Cal/OSHA who was still investigating this issue? Melton said it was not: “Our investigation is finished,” he said. Melton did not know which agency or company was being referred to as “still” investigating.

Frisbie was not able to answer questions about the “Unstable ground is still being investigated” sentence, but when asked if the current work on drainage improvements that has closed Valley Street was abatement for the citation about failure to thoroughly survey or failure to ensure the base was “properly compacted,” he said the drainage work was “part of the bypass project.”

“Since the fill of the bypass south of the viaduct might alter drainage patterns, we are adding culverts next to the existing bridge to improve high water flows,” Frisbie said.

He also said “any future ground settlement” of the flood plain area where the bypass viaduct crosses Haehl Creek “will have no effect on the viaduct because of the deep steel piles which support the columns.”

The three workers “seriously injured” in the January 22 bypass falsework collapse were: Phillip Lappe, 31, who was treated at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for a crushed pelvis, and Fermin Jaramillo, 52, and Jullian Lamas, 57, who were both treated at Howard Hospital in Willits for multiple fractures. “All will be off work for several months,” the undated investigation summary states. Several other workers were treated and released.

“The project had more than 150 feet of falsework collapse during a concrete pour,” the investigation summary states. “The falsework failed at less than 50 percent of its design capacity and fell more than 25 feet with multiple [employees] working on the top of the structure and one [employee] … an environmental engineer working under the structure.

Coding on the investigation summary document indicates that “insufficient or lack of engineering controls” was a “human factor” contributing to the accident.

The accident occurred on January 22 of this year at 2:18 pm, the narrative’s “Introduction” says, “and was reported to the Sacramento District Office on the same day by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the employer.”

The only other section of the narrative is an “Accident Description” paragraph: “On arrival to site the following morning there was just a huge pile of steel, lumber and concrete all collapsed on the ground. With Cal/OSHA oversight, Caltrans assembled a team of bridge structure engineers to separate materials and perform a failure analysis.”

Frisbie said Wednesday the “failure analysis” report was still not ready to be released to the public, but said it would be released “as soon as it is done.”

Frisbie also said the costs of rebuilding the falsework “has been directly paid by the contractor’s insurance. There have been minimal costs to the state due to inspections that were performed twice.”

Flatiron West, Inc. has additionally been cited by Cal/OSHA for a “general” failure to “establish, implement and maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program.”

(Courtesy, Willits Weekly;

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March 3, 1926 — July 15, 2015

Boonville, CA

Bob Spears
Bob Spears

Bob Spears passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Bob was born in Stratton, NE to Sherman and Flossie Spears on March 3, 1926. After attending Stratton High School, he moved to California and joined the US Navy, serving until 1954. After serving his country, Bob had many jobs and businesses throughout his working life — building and renting houses, managing a motel in South Lake Tahoe, working for the Southern Pacific Railroad, building State roads and dams with an earth-moving equipment business, to name a few.

Bob is preceded in death by his daughter, Shar Rice. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Joan Spears, son-in-law Jim Rice, step-children Jan Anderson (Bill), and Tom Kerns (Cathy), eight grandchildren, Joshua, Jonathan, Jacob, Jimmy, Scott, Shannon, J.T. and Zak, fourteen great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins in the Spears family.

A memorial service will be held in Boonville on August 1st. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Legion Post, Boonville or the Anderson Valley Senior Center, Boonville.

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by Sarah Kreienhop

Why have a dress code? That is what the majority of the students at Anderson Valley High School have been asking lately. Many students feel strongly about it. That it isn’t right or it’s downright unjust. But for the most part we understand the reasons a dress code is necessary, but we still prefer being able to wear what we want when we want.

The current dress code basically states: no saggy pants, no tank tops with sleeves less than an inch and a half, No gang related clothing, no shorts shorter than mid thigh. (“Fingertips” is what they use which is not consistent with “mid-thigh” — everyone has different length arms.) Skirts and dresses must be longer than mid-thigh.

Of course, the student handbook goes into more depth about the dress code.

Education Code Section 35181-35186 states “The adoption of a school wide uniform policy is a reasonable way to provide some protection for students. A required uniform may protect students from being associated with any particular gang. Moreover, by requiring schoolwide uniforms teachers and administrators may not need to occupy as much of their time learning the subtleties of gang regalia.”

As well as, “Many educators believe that school dress significantly influences pupil behavior.”

For those who do not know, this is the law for the state of Education in education. Dress code mostly refers to the safety of the students’ well-being and gang-related safety according to the code.

So why do we have a dress code?

Mrs. Hutchins, the Anderson Valley High school principal, says that “our dress code is more about safety. When a girl wears a short skirt and sits down it is physically her underwear touching the seat.” Mrs. Hutchins believes that it isn’t a matter of distraction in the classroom or self control for boys. It is about safety.

I understand why she would rather avoid talking about teen male lust, but hygiene seems like a stretch.

I interviewed a few kids on the subject. “Do you feel like the dress code is unjust? Do you believe the school should make a change? Is the dress code more unjust for boys or girls?” I was surprised by many of the answers, but mostly the answers were thoughtful.

The boys felt that the dress code didn’t apply to them, really, and not because the school is being sexist in maintaining one.

Will Lemons, a junior at the high school, answered, “I acknowledge the fact that it is harder for girls to follow the dress code, and they are more often in trouble. However, I have never seen a guy at school wear a skirt or shorts higher than mid-thigh.”

For the most part students, mostly girls, believe that the dress code is the way it is because boys are not able to control themselves when they see a girl’s leg or bra strap showing.

Girls of course think this is ridiculous.

“I feel that the dress code is unfair. I believe that the dress code promotes all sorts of prejudices against female students particularly. When a student is pulled out of class to go change, that student is getting pulled out of their education temporarily,” states Lexi Johnson, “The reason that schools claim to have a dress code is to promote a business environment and prepare students for careers. That is not just. Students can be taught respect in other aspects aside from how they dress. Dress codes also sexualize young girls. By saying that boys get distracted with girls wearing revealing clothes, is promoting sexual behavior among men.”

As you can see students feel very strongly about the dress code.

Tiernan Kobler, another junior, believes that the dress code is the way it is because “the school board thinks that people are going to get too distracted by someone wearing a tank top less than 1 inch or someone showing their legs.”

Is it the school’s job to teach self control to both females and males? Is it right for the school to feed into the distraction argument by telling a girl what to wear or not to wear?

As young adults preparing for college life and the work force, we should be aware of respectful and modest clothing that would be appropriate for our lives out of high school.

Students argue that they are mostly okay with the dress code, but some aspects of the dress code are unacceptable because of discrimination as to body type.

I see a girl wearing a short dress but it reaches her mid thigh. The same dress on myself would never pass. I have long legs, she has short legs.

We are both skinny, but because of the length of our legs, I would get in trouble with my long legs and she wouldn’t with her short legs.

The school's dress rules make girls self-conscious.

Alex Farber remarked, “As I am 5’10, shopping for dress code-appropriate clothing is a challenge. My legs are much longer than my torso, which often results in my dresses being ‘too-short’.”

Another student anonymously told me that because of the size of her breasts she can’t wear the same shirt as another girl with smaller breasts. Because everyone has a different body type what might seem appropriate for some students isn’t appropriate for others. This is unfair.

I did ask the question about having uniforms. I was surprised when some students told me that having uniforms would be okay. Lexi Johnson stated that having uniforms would prevent discrimination against body type. Everyone would be wearing the same thing so it would take away from competition in fashion, it would apply to everyone the same way, and it would help with costs.

Mrs. Hutchins agrees. Having school uniforms would actually benefit the school.

Obviously not everyone agrees with school uniforms. It takes away from students’ right to be unique and express themselves as they want to, but then again, school is for learning, not a fashion show.

Dress code shouldn’t be a big deal in a school. Students go to school to learn, not to show off their clothes or their bodies, even though school can seem like a fashion show at times. Having a dress code is understandable, but schools must make it fair for every student and have every teacher follow it.

This is another problem. Some teachers punish students for breaking the dress code while others don’t. One day, I wore a sweatshirt that was emblazoned with the Anderson Valley Brewery logo on it. I wore it to all three of my Tuesday classes. I did not get in trouble for wearing a beer ad. I wore it again on Wednesday to my other four classes.

By second period I got called on it. I had gone through four periods and never got in trouble. Mrs. Hutchins told me “I do believe that all staff should be consistent with enforcing our policies.”

Selective enforcement can also create resentment between the teachers and students who do not honor the dress code. The dress code will always be an issue at Anderson Valley High school. The students want a voice and it is important for them to get that opportunity.

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FROM THE UKIAH POLICE 911 DISPATCH LOG for Sunday, July 20, 2015:

Call Number:150702493.

Date/Time: 07/20/2015 14:16:16

SUSPICIOUS PERSON, 1349 S. DORA ST, UKIAH. [Ukiah Convalescent/Nursing Home]


Response By UPD Officer Isabel Madrigal:


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THE SAN RAFAEL PACIFICS, an unclassified pro baseball team based in Marin, has announced that they're going to try out a computerized video system to call balls and strikes, meaning one more looming change to a game that's fine as it is, and has already undergone too many “improvements.” I'm surprised that at least some ballplayers are for it. I agree with former major league umpire, Eddie Montague: “Who are they going to kick dirt on? Who are the fans going to yell at? The machine? You might as well stay home and play a video game.”

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THOMAS SANDERS is one of Mendocino County's frequent fliers. This one guy eats up hours of police time, as our Superior Court, with a judicial ho hum, and even less regard for Sanders' and community welfare, rubber stamp his release. Sanders first appeared in Mendo’s booking log in January of 2014 when he was drunk and alleged to be throwing trash and banging on buildings, and his appearances have steadily increased since then. Over the past 30 days, Sanders has been hauled off to the County Jail to sober up, appeared in court, and sent out to the streets to drink himself into full nuisance mode:

  • July 22
  • July 20 (Drunk and combative. Arrested for fighting.)
  • July 11
  • July 10
  • July 8
  • June 29
  • June 25

TOM WAS BORN on July 30, 1962. At age 53, without assuming a bionic liver, this guy probably has another decade of drop-fall public drinking and free lunches at Plowshares when he's sober enough to eat.

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Dear Susan Keegan:

If only we could hear your birthday wishes. You should be celebrating another turn of the dial today, a decade leap into the once unimaginable age of 60. Knowing you, you would have marked the transition with gratitude, astonishment, optimism, and an adventurous travel plan.

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

Instead, your life was stolen — homicide, according to the official death certificate. In the years since you were murdered, you have missed so many rich moments. Events extraordinary and quotidian would have filled your days. There have been births that would have set you to rejoicing and deaths you would have mourned deeply. Family members would have come to you with their triumphs and disappointments, friends would have sought your counsel.

But you no longer walk among us, and we cannot share our lives. The stories you would have written are blank on the page. The stage is empty, absent the theatre you would have performed. Your song is left unsung.

During these same years, the man widely thought to have taken your life has remained unshackled. Perhaps he is an awkward presence in his own small town. Surely, it cannot be pleasant to know that he is law enforcement’s sole suspect in his wife’s death, and to wonder when the hammer of justice will finally rein down. Nonetheless, he is free. Free to dance, free to celebrate the birth of a grandchild, free to appear in bed with a paramour on a Facebook post.

Such is the insouciant way of the world. We have, all of us, somehow moved on without you, Susan. That is what the living do, as we must. That is what you, beloved sister, daughter, mother, cousin, and friend, would want. We laugh again, we love anew, we forge fresh ties, we reconstruct the framework of our lives without your daily presence. What choice is there?

But we do not forget what happened and we do not keep quiet. Why not? Why ask again when an arrest will be made? Why keep telling your story? Everyone knows that law enforcement sometimes fails its citizens. Why not recognize that our own small tragedy may just be one of those failures?

No, we hear you howl. Hold on to the warmth of hope, you insist, despite the weight of cold experience. We listen to that message, because your words comport with what we somehow still believe — that right trumps wrong. We hear you, because we were reared on the belief — some might say the myth — that justice prevails. We persist, because the weight of evidence convinces us that this case should be decided in court, by a jury, not in an office, away from public scrutiny. We knock again on closed doors, hoping someone with courage and smarts will finally step out and prosecute the crime.

District Attorney David Eyster by all accounts still wants charges brought in this case. And by all accounts, he is an honorable man. Surely he would not be discouraged by narrow political concerns. Surely his reluctance to call attention to the incompetence of the Sheriff’s Department the night you died, and during the investigation that followed, would not be a barricade to action. But it is hard to know what else might motivate the delay, since Eyster has refused for more than four years to make a public statement about the unsolved homicide that is Ukiah’s shame. Until he does, we will continue to pester. It has been left to us to give you back the voice that was silenced, and your voice was always bold.

Happy Birthday, Susan. We miss you.


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Tammy Rigly’s Lost Australian Shepard Kolo their loved family dog has been found. Kolo is one year old and is red Merle in color with checkered pattern on her head. She came untied and fell out of truck between Manchester and Navarro about two weeks ago. KOLO was found Thursday morning. "Probably has a broken leg but is alive," a relieved Ms. Rigly says.

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ON THURSDAY July 16, 2015 at about 1153 PM, Ukiah Police responded to 566 Stella Dr. due to the residents being awoken after hearing banging on the side of the home and then on the roof.

The resident went outside to investigate and observed a male subject on the roof yelling and refusing to come down. Upon officers arrival they observed 44 year old Ukiah resident Corey Heine on the roof of the home.

Heine was ordered off of the roof and arrested for prowling without incident.

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ON SUNDAY July 19, 2015 at about 647 PM, Ukiah Police responded the 1200 block of W. Standley St regarding a male walking in the area nude. Upon officers arrival they contacted 67 year old Ukiah transient John Driggs. Driggs was not wearing any clothing. Officers asked Driggs why he was walking in public nude. Driggs explained that he was attempting to locate a spot in the nearby creek to take a bath and was unaware that he was in a residential neighborhood. Officers checked Driggs for warrants and probation and learned that Driggs was currently on parole for indecent exposure. Officers contacted the reporting party who did not desire prosecution. Officers contacted Driggs parole officer and a parole hold was placed on Driggs for violating his parole terms. Driggs was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County jail.

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ON MONDAY July 20, 2015 at about 520 PM, Ukiah Police responded to 1208 S. State St, Motel 6, room 111 for a report of a possible burglary. Upon officer’s arrival, they spoke with the male victim who was attempting to cover himself with a small towel. The victim explained to officers that he had come to the Motel with two female subjects after arranging to have sexual intercourse in exchange for money. Once in the room the victim was asked by the two women to take a shower. While taking a shower the victim heard the two women leave the room. Upon exiting from the shower the victim discovered that the two women had taken all of his clothing, his shoes, cellphone, his wallet and all of the towels except the small towel he was attempting to cover himself with. Officers searched the area for the two women with negative results. During this search officers spoke with a witness who had observed two women running from the area.


The witness said he followed the female subjects for a little while but eventually lost sight of them, although he did locate a pair of blue jeans and brought them back to the scene. This matter is still under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the Ukiah Police Department.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 23, 2015

Beers, Ducharme, Elliott
Beers, Ducharme, Elliott

MICHAEL BEERS, Ukiah. Indecent exposure.

JUDITH DUCHARME, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ALICIA ELLIOTT, Covelo. Building a fire on someone else’s property without permission, possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation.

Fermin, Gonzalez, Hoaglin, Loraine
Fermin, Gonzalez, Hoaglin, Loraine

MARCOS FERMIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

FRANCISCO GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Community supervision violation.

JOSEPH HOAGLIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

GEORGE LAFORCE, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

Loraine, Masker, McOsker, Nicholson
Loraine, Masker, McOsker, Nicholson

JOSEPH LORAINE, Greeneville, Tennessee/Fort Bragg. Unspecified misdemeanor.

AUTUMN MASKER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

REMO MCOSKER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL NICHOLSON, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

Penn, Reed, Urbina
Penn, Reed, Urbina

DOUGLASS PENN, Richmond/Ukiah. Burglary.

ASHLYN REED, Chattanooga, Tennessee/Willits. Outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

MILLICEN URBINA, Ukiah. Domestic assault, Probation revocation.

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The Elites don’t tell me what they’re up to, so I have to guess. I’m guessing your equation doesn’t account for the insatiable greed and short-term thinking so common among all humans, the Elites included. But mostly, I think the Elites understand that our current system of finance capitalism has created so much debt that it can’t all be repaid. We used to allow the system to crash every generation or so to wipe out all that debt, but since 1913 debt has been far more valuable than actual money, so the system has been redirected to produce debt first, and actual wealth later if at all.

A system based on debt at interest requires infinite growth, and that requires unlimited money, energy, raw materials, and markets. It has to expand, or why would I take out a loan for $1000 today, promising to pay $1,050 this day next year? Only if I had no choice and was taking a risk (which would be a bad investment for my lender), or if I believed I would have $1,050 above my bare minimum requirements in a year’s time.

As our finite planet has placed limits on energy, raw materials and markets, the only thing that can expand without limits is money. In our system, debt has to occur before money can be created. Obviously, this will create debt some of which can’t be repaid. The longer this debt sits there accruing interest, the less likely it can ever be paid. The last time we let the system collapse and re-set was in the 1930s. At that time, the Elites put in safeguards, as they didn’t want to have to give up their accumulated advantages every generation or so. The safeguards did what they were supposed to do, preventing crashes, but they put constraints on the amount of wealth the Elites could accrue, by limiting the amount of new and entirely notional debt that could be created.

The Elites chafed at those restrictions and by 1999, managed to get them all eliminated. So we have the guarantees that government will divert public resources to backstop all speculative debt by the Elites, but none of the safeguards to prevent the Elites from creating so much debt the whole thing has to collapse. This exacerbates the mathematical problems of finance capitalism.

So I’m thinking the Elites know this. They’re far better-educated than I am, for one thing. And they’re used to managing huge piles of money. So they know this system has to collapse, and they intend to solidify their advantage and run this game as far as they possibly can before it all crashes down. To do this, it helps to have all the lower orders in fear, at each others’ throats, and blaming culturally unpopular scapegoats. It also helps to have a culture in which wealth is seen as a sign of virtue and poverty, or insecurity, seen as the result of moral deficiency.

If you consider the possibility that the Elites are working on a timeline that zeroes out in about 20 years, the longer they can stall and keep the balls in the air, and the lower-middle class believing, if less and less, that their loyalty to the Elites will somehow be rewarded, that’s more time for the Elites to stuff their pockets before the math eventually catches up and causes mass default on debt.

At that point, when the inevitable civil unrest and chaos (I’d say “chaos” rather than “anarchy”) breaks out, the Elites plan to make themselves scarce, and hire private mercenary armies. As they do in Latin America, among other places.

That’s just, like, my opinion, man.

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DROUGHT TALK: Central Valley bridges sinking due to groundwater overpumping

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The sugared girl!

The embroidery on the drum!

You deviant: go! go!

It takes more than my daughter,

to be able to trifle with me.

What is that piece of paper there?

You must know how to cheat.

Your unnecessary grimaces;

stop there, do not touch me!

My daughter did not hope

That I could be quick to spot deceit.

Please, my pretty, confess;

I am willing to forgive.

You do not speak? You refuse?

I know very well what I have to do.

Miss, another time

you will try to leave when Bartolo leaves,

delivering to the servants

far away, you know.

Ah, you do not need the grimaces,

your face looks like a dead cat.

Before me! through that door

even air can enter.

And Rosina innocent angel

hopeless, desperate,

in her bedroom locked away

In here I will want you to stay.

— Rossini, “The Barber of Seville”

* * *


Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, best known to several generations of readers as E.L. Doctorow, died on Tuesday from complications of lung cancer. He was 84.

ELDoctorowAs the author of such seminal novels as “The Book of Daniel,” “Billy Bathgate” and “Ragtime,” Mr. Doctorow was, in the words of fellow scribe Don DeLillo, this nation’s greatest chronicler of “American possibility in which plain lives take on the cadences of history.”

Mr. Doctorow was known for taking important moments in American history and infusing them with fictional characters weighty enough to interact with historical personages in memorable stories that ranged from the Civil War to the McCarthy era to post-9/ 11 New York City.

In his 2005 novel “The March,” Mr. Doctorow used Gen. William T. Sherman’s march from smoldering Atlanta across a large swath of the South as an opportunity to meditate on the strangeness and opportunism of the American character. “The March” was filled with characters representing every demographic in the country, including former slaves, the idle rich, disillusioned soldiers and scoundrels of all races.

As he demonstrated in 12 novels, a stage play and several books of essays, E.L. Doctorow excelled in giving us portraits of ourselves that made sense of our complicated national history.

His decades as an editor at major publishing houses served him well. Working with literary giants like Norman Mailer and James Baldwin prepared him for his own trek to the circle of elite novelists when he published his first book in 1960.

Having won most of the major American literary awards multiple times, E.L. Doctorow could’ve rested on his laurels decades ago. He didn’t. Instead, he continued to take chances with offbeat characters and narrative voices in his search for yet another story that would explain America to Americans.

(Courtesy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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As I ride my motor scooter around the Financial District and SoMa each day, I can easily look into the cars around me, and I see many, many what I call “app” drivers. The streets seem to be filled with them, and they drive very aggressively and sometimes rudely to pick up customers.

While I appreciate that these Uber and other drivers can make good money and they serve a purpose, they are also clogging the streets and probably luring people off public transportation. Not to mention they are unfair competition to highly regulated taxis also trying to make a living. Frankly, I am of two minds about this situation, but perhaps there needs to be some limits and regulations on these companies. They have built sizable companies so quickly, they can now afford lots of lawyers, but might does not make right.

Bill Schwartz, San Francisco

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The public Appeal Hearing for Grist Creek Aggregates Permit NO 1416-5 -01-15-26 scheduled for Friday, July 24, 2015 has been continued until August 28, 2015 by order of the Chair of the Hearing Board. We have just been informed by the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District that MCAQMD Hearing Board meeting that was to have taken place tomorrow, July 24th at 10AM, has been rescheduled for August 28th, same time (10AM) and same location (Ukiah City Council Chambers). The public hearing scheduled for Friday, July 24, 2015 has been continued until August 28, 2015 by order of the Chair of the Hearing Board. If you have any questions please call the District office. Donna Roberts Nash Clerk of the Hearing Board 463-4354. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, Best Regards, Glen Colwell 707-836-6595

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JOIN SANCTUARY FOREST on Thursday, July 30th at 7 p.m. for their quarterly radio hour on KMUD. Sanctuary Forest board member Eric Shafer will be joined by staff members Marisa Formosa and Katrina Nystrom for a discussion that will include the Bridge Creek Tributary Water Stewardship Project, current river conditions in the Mattole watershed, and ongoing efforts by individuals and groups in the Mattole and Eel River watersheds to work together and conserve water.

The Bridge Creek Project is about education, collaboration, and communication. The goal is to create greater trust and cooperation among neighbors and within communities. Sanctuary Forest hopes that this will be one step in an evolution of consciousness that brings people into closer relation, respect and understanding of the earth and all living beings. The project, funded by the Grace Us Foundation, includes tributary meetings, streamflow monitoring and the development of best management practices. It also aims to promote the concept of tributary stewardship associations, wherein watershed residents join together to work for the health of their particular tributary.

Sanctuary Forest will also give a Mattole River streamflow report, which the organization has been monitoring for over a decade. Towards the end of the show the lines will open for calls to discuss the Bridge Creek Project and/or other local efforts to spread awareness and conserve water.

Sanctuary Forest is a land trust whose mission is to conserve the Mattole River watershed and surrounding areas for wildlife habitat and aesthetic, spiritual and intrinsic values, in cooperation with our diverse community.

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by Dan Bacher

For years, I have been encouraging the state and federal governments and environmental groups to conduct an analysis of how much it would cost, in terms of both money and water, to retire toxic land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley versus keeping the land in agricultural production.

Since much of the political cheerleading for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the Delta tunnels is based on the assumption that this drainage-impaired land will continue to be irrigated, this is a key question that should have been answered before any plans for new conveyance or controversial Congressional “drought” legislation were developed.

Unfortunately, the political and economic power of the Westlands Water District and the State Water Contractors have enabled them to capture the regulatory apparatus, so the state and federal agency officials wouldn't dare commission a study that would show that the costs of keeping the land in production are less than those of retiring the drainage impaired land.

While the state and federal governments have failed to do this long-needed report, three groups - the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Food and Water Watch and Restore the Delta (RTD) - have stepped up to take this challenge on.

The groups recently funded a new report by EcoNorthwest, an independent economic analysis firm, that estimates that 300,000 acres of toxic land in the Westlands Water District and three adjacent water districts could be retired at a cost of $580 million to $1 billion. The report's authors are Austin Rempel and Ed MacMullan of ECONorthwest.

The report, released on July 14, reveals that spending $1 billion to take selenium-laced, unsustainable lands out of production and cutting the water contracts that accompany them actually saves Californians money, along with saving water and the environment. Land retirement makes a lot more economic sense than spending $67 billion to build Governor Brown’s Delta tunnels, which are largely designed to keep supplying subsidized water to corporate mega-farms on the west side of the San Joaquin.

“Retiring this land and curbing the water rights associated with it would result in a savings to California of up to 455,000 acre-feet of water — for reference, the City of Los Angeles uses 587,000 acre-feet in a typical year,” according to a news release from three groups. “This course of action also is significantly less expensive than Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build a massive tunnel system to divert water from the Sacramento River for the benefit of corporate agribusiness.”

The report sums up the problems of irrigating drainage impaired land: “Farmers produce more than 250 different crops in the Central Valley with an estimated value of $21 billion per year. Despite the region's overall productivity, large swaths of land, primarily in the San Joaquin Valley, are unsuitable for irrigated agriculture. The soils in these naturally dry areas have high levels of salts, selenium and boron, trace elements that - when combined with irrigation water - can poison crops if allowed to remain on lands without proper drainage. Related problems include contaminated waterways, increased toxic runoff into the Delta, and deformities in birds and fish.”

Food & Water Watch, the California Water Impact Network and Restore the Delta (RTD) are calling on the Obama administration to retire up to 300,000 acres of selenium-tainted land and reduce the annual supply of water in the San Luis Unit, which includes parts of Westlands, San Luis, Panoche and Pacheco water districts, by 455,000 acre-feet. This water is typically pumped from the Delta via the federal Central Valley Project (CVP).

The groups say the Delta is suffering from poor water quality because of the removal of fresh water to irrigate water-intensive crops such as almonds and pistachios in the Westlands Water District, located on the hot and dry western side of the San Joaquin Valley.

“California needs to balance water demands with the realities of its supply, which means retiring inappropriate farmland,” said Adam Scow, California Director at Food & Water Watch. “Retiring toxic farmland in Westlands is a commonsense step toward protecting our overstretched and dwindling water supply.”

This study was issued as California growers continue to expand their water-thirsty almond acreage in the state during the drought while the Brown administration mandates that urban families slash their water usage by 25 percent. (

California’s 2014 almond acreage was estimated at 1,020,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from the 2013 acreage of 970,000, according to a recent survey (PDF) conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). During the current drought, the total almond acreage has expanded by a total of 150,000 acres. Much of this new almond acreage went into production on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The report also comes as the Obama administration and Westlands engage in secret negotiations over the fate of this toxic land.

“Central to the discussions is millions of dollars in debt owed by Westlands to U.S. taxpayers for the faulty and incomplete construction of the Central Valley Project, which supplies water to the district,” according to Scow.

The groups said the disastrous consequences of industrial-scale cultivation of seleniferous lands became obvious in 1983, when thousands of migratory waterfowl were deformed or killed outright at Kesterson Wildlife Refuge due to deliveries of toxic drain water from Westlands Water District agribusiness operations.

A recent draft settlement revealed that the Obama administration has proposed guaranteeing Westlands nearly 900,000 acre-feet of water per year for fifty years, while letting the district off the hook for $365 million of its debt. The groups said the proposed deal would provide for the continued irrigation of more than 250,000 acres of selenium-tainted lands, allowing toxic runoff to continue plaguing the San Joaquin River and the Bay-Delta/Estuary. A final settlement proposal is expected soon.

The Environmental Working Group estimated that annual subsidies to Westlands range from $24 million to $110 million a year.

“Discharge into the San Joaquin River harms Bay-Delta drinking water supplies, family farms, fish and wildlife,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “Everyone knows land retirement will need to happen eventually because there will come a point where the drainage-impaired lands will become unfarmable.”

The three groups noted that the retirement of these poisoned lands and the “paper water” that goes with them would greatly reduce the toxic drainage currently poisoning the San Joaquin River and the San Francisco Bay/Delta Estuary.

In addition to calling for land retirement, the groups are urging Governor Brown and the State Water Board to stop the “paper water” claims that run with the land — the disparity that exists between water rights claims and water that actually exists.

Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board has allocated water rights claims that exceed available water from the Delta watershed by a factor of five, the groups said.

“The retirement must be accompanied by a proportional reduction in water contract amounts,” said Tom Stokely, Water Policy Coordinator of C-WIN. “UC Davis has demonstrated that California water demands are vastly out of balance with the realities of our supply: it’s no more than ‘paper water.’ To guarantee Westlands a fifty-year water supply, as the current settlement does, would be an unfair and irresponsible giveaway to heavily-subsidized, corporate farms in Westlands.”

In a previous land retirement deal, Westlands’ water supply allocation was not reduced. A concern shared by the three groups is that under the deal, “corporate farms might sell their taxpayer-subsidized water for private profit at the expense of the environment,” said Stokely.

“We cannot permit Westlands to transform itself from heavily subsidized corporate farms into a water broker at the expense of taxpayers and the San Francisco Bay/Delta Estuary,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.

In addition, given the likelihood that land retirement would eliminate farm jobs tied to that land, the three groups recommend that those farmworkers “be compensated fairly for their losses and that public funds be made available for that purpose.”

The groups also emphasized the cost savings to Californians represented by retiring these toxic lands.

“Spending one billion dollars to take these selenium-laced, unsustainable lands out of production and cutting the water rights that go with them saves Californians water money,” said Scow of Food & Water Watch. “Retiring these west side lands makes a lot more sense than spending $67 billion to build Governor Brown’s outdated tunnels to support corporate agribusiness.”

Read the EcoNorthwest Report:

For more information about the Westlands Water District, read Lloyd Carter's excellent Golden Gate Law Review article, “REAPING RICHES IN A WRETCHED REGION: SUBSIDIZED INDUSTRIAL FARMING AND ITS LINK TO PERPETUAL POVERTY,” at:

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GLORIANA PRESENTS: COMPANY, Stephen Sondheim Musical

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Fort Bragg at Night (Photo by Susie de Castro)
Fort Bragg at Night
(Photo by Susie de Castro)

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California to receive FEMA funding to battle Wragg Fire Near Lake Berryessa in Napa, Yolo, and Solano Counties

OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California combat the Wragg fire burning in Napa, Yolo and Solano Counties.

On July 23, 2015, the State of California submitted a request for a fire management assistance declaration for the Wragg Fire and FEMA approved the state’s request on July 23, 2015. The authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse up to 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire.

At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 230 homes in and around the communities of Golden Bear Estates, Quail Canyon, and Pleasants Valley, population 1,200. This fire is experiencing a rapid rate of growth and is currently burning in and among structures in the Quail Valley area. The fire started on July 23, 2015, and, at this time, has burned in excess of 6,000 acres and is five percent contained.

State and local officials have ordered mandatory residential evacuations throughout the impacted area. Three hikers have been rescued from Cold Canyon; hikers in the Cold Canyon area have been evacuated and Canyon Creek and Lake Solano campgrounds have been evacuated.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Winters Community Center at 201 Railroad Ave in Winters, CA.

The Disaster Relief Fund provides funding for Federal Fire Management Grants (FMAGs) through FEMA to assist in fighting fires which threaten to cause major disasters. Eligible costs covered by FMAGs can include expenses for field camps; equipment use; repair and replacement; tools; materials; supplies and mobilization and demobilization activities.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Mary Simms <>

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Wine, Food & Fun!

hosted by: Ukiah Women in Business and North County Women in Business Networks

Thursday, July 23, 2015, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

at Barra of Mendocino, 7051 North State St, Redwood Valley

$10 for non-members, no charge for members

Catered by: Scoops Catering from Scoops Frozen Yogurt & Deli located at: 110 North Main, Willits Ca

(707) 272-9646 (Call for your catering needs)

PLEASE RSVP by July 20 to: Holly Madrigal 707-841-0612

or email:

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  1. Lazarus July 24, 2015

    Willits Weaky South…?

    • Bruce Anderson July 24, 2015

      Jennifer Poole has always been an excellent reporter, Laz, and Willits has always needed excellence.

      • Lazarus July 24, 2015

        Can’t you take a joke, she use to work for you…

  2. Rick Weddle July 24, 2015

    r.i.p., E.L. Doctorow, and thanks. This guy could spin a yarn with teeth in it, and did so repeatedly. Way too bad to lose one of such treasures when the place is in such desperate need for ’em.

  3. Rick Weddle July 24, 2015

    Bergdahl visit…
    Aloha, Sgt Bergdahl! As a U.S. veteran, I recommend you for a special decoration. A designated version of the Medal of Honor with, say, Cannibis Clusters, denoting your heroic effort and sacrifice combating wrongdoing in high places, the ranks of ‘our’ own most powerful officials. For valor exceeding the call of duty, and further, for courage in the teeth of official persecution and constant defamation in the corpirate media. We owe you a great debt, Sgt Bergdahl, and we work toward fully appreciating and rewarding your most exemplary service, in ways both real and symbolic. (and Snowden, Ellsberg, Sterling, Manning, etc., etc., etc.)

  4. LouisBedrock July 24, 2015

    Rossini piece sung in the original Italian:

    A un dottor della mia sorte – Claudio Desderi – Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    “Excellent performance by Maria Ewing (Rosina)and Claudio Desderi (Dr. Bartolo)in this 1981 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The most animated and lively Rosina ever; watch the determination and sarcasm in her eyes throughout the performance with her guardian.”

  5. Diane Campbell July 24, 2015

    The online comment of the day is particularly mesmerizing. May I quote, acknowledged of course?

    I especially liked its placement as an intro to the sinking bridge(s).

    • Bruce Anderson July 24, 2015

      Please do.

  6. David Lilker July 26, 2015

    As a regular reader of the Willits Weekly, I will second the opinion that Jennifer Poole is a fine reporter. As for the Editor’s wholly uneccesary comment about the need for excellence in Willits, what community in Mendocino County has consistently achieved excellence?

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