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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Aug 23, 2015

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ANOTHER WILDFIRE IN LAKE COUNTY, this time one that started Saturday afternoon near Kelseyville on the southwestern side of Clearlake. At about 8pm Saturday night, Calfire announced, “Firefighters are responding to a vegetation fire on Peterson Lane near the intersection of Adobe Creek, in the Kelseyville area of Lake County. The fire is currently 400 acres with a dangerous rate of spread spotting one-quarter mile ahead of the fire. Air resources and ground crews are on scene with additional resources enroute.” No cause was given as yet. 210 firefighters were reported to be on scene with 11 engines, 7 crews, 7 airtankers, 3 helicopters, 6 dozers and 1 water tender. The fire has been dubbed the “Peterson Fire.”

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE (7:15 am): 200 acres, 17% contained - "Firefighters made good progress through the night increasing containment and control lines. Additional resources arrived through the night. The terrain is heavy brush, rocky, with steep, difficult access. The fire size decreased due to aerial mapping and is currently mapped at 200 acres. Structures are threatened."

peterson-fire
Peterson Fire

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WE WAITED ANXIOUSLY FOR TWO WEEKS before the Board of Supervisors meeting video for August 4 was finally posted Saturday morning because we wanted to see if our initial impression about August 4 discussion of the Stepping Up initiative was correct.

UNFORTUNATELY, we were correct: All the County can think of to do to reduce the number of mentally ill held in the County Jail is more (unspecified) training for cops. Implicit in this pathetic stance is the cops will be doing mental health's heavy lifting for the forseeable future. (How much more training and for whom exactly isn't even estimated — just give us the money and we’ll figure something out.)

ALTHOUGH the rambling August 4 Stepping Up discussion touched on the importance of “diversion” before a crazy, drug-addled or homeless person who has committed a crime sets foot in the jail, all the County's staff could muster as possible ways to spend the $150k the board has tentatively allocated was for more training for cops, and that idea was entirely unquantified with even Sheriff Allman getting on board the buzzword train with Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer and her staff and Public Defender Linda Thompson riding shotgun. (On her best days, Thompson is barely coherent while Cryer talks like a wind-up doll programmed to recite cliches. Allman has to live with these people, hence his apparent acquiescence in the fantasy that Stepping Up is a Step Forward.)

THE BEST WAY to spend the $150k -- as we've said many times over the years -- would be for the County to at least set up a non-jail county farm pilot program and a 24-hour crisis van that would roll on calls involving crazy people, most of whom are well known to cops before they even get in their patrol cars. Both of these would at least divert a percentage of the frequent flying and most difficult mental health population from the jail for a while, and perhaps save some money on the other end.

BUT MENDO COUNTY'S LEADERSHIP is unable to come up with anything more than $150k to talk about the obvious fact that the population of seriously disturbed people on the street is increasing.

THERE WERE, however, two interesting stats that came out of the discussion (although we have no way of knowing if the one about Mental Health Court is even close to correct).

PUBLIC DEFENDER THOMPSON told Supervisor Gjerde that a paltry 85 people have entered the Mental Health court in the four years since it started and of those 85, ten have “exited.” (Which Ms. Thompson implied means “graduated,” but who knows? These are wacky people talking about crazy people.) Ms. Thompson wasn’t sure how many of "exits" were Coastal residents and how many were inland. But it’s safe to assume that these are the “clients” who are at least sane enough to participate in the program and the full range of basic requirements: appointments, travel, discourse with authorities, etc. The hard cases are not likely to be among the 85.

THE OTHER interesting stat came from Supervisor Dan Gjerde who noted that if Ortner Management Group charged the same “administrative services” percentage as Redwood Children’s Services does for essentially the same kind of work, “that would liberate $870,000.”

NO ONE in the room even acknowledged Gjerde’s observation, much less agreed to look into it.

IN THE END, the Board simply took no action on the non-proposal. Only Supervisor Hamburg, always ready to rubberstamp staff if they couch their requests for cash with a full load of nice-personese.

IRONICALLY, Sheriff Allman was back before the Board of Supervisors later in the August 4 meeting to propose a jail expansion which would, in part, house more mentally ill inmates. The Board supported Allman’s $20 million grant application. If approved the County would have to hire upwards of $1.5 million worth of additional jail staff and pay about $1 million in County matching funds.

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AGENDA ITEM 3A, FORT BRAGG PLANNING COMMISSION, AUGUST 26, 2015.

Receive Report, Conduct Public Hearing, and Consider Approval of Use Permit 3-15 (USP 3-15) to Allow for Accessory Retail and Service Uses in Association with Approval of a Permitted New Brewery at 190 E. Elm Street

Proposal For [and from] Overtime Brewing Inc., 190 East Elm St., Fort Bragg, California. Parcel Number 008-935-13. June 21, 2015.

The Overtime Brewing Corporation is to be a brewery serving our craft beer and retail outlet for Overtime Brewing merchandise. In addition an outdoor event area will be available for music and group gatherings. Our initial brewing system will be 10 barrels with an ultimate brewing capacity of 1500 barrels per year. Of this capacity approximately 50% will be on-site sales and 50% wholesale distribution. Overtime Brewing has three owners: Greg Ziemer an RN at Mendocino Coast District Hospital, Stephen Duerr, owner of Piaci Restaurant and Dave Simons, an employee of Wells Dental.

The parcel at 190 East Elm is currently zoned heavy industrial. We realize that while a brewery is appropriate for the parcel, food, beer and retail sales are not at this time. We have thoroughly searched the city for an appropriate site for our business, and this building is nearly ideal for our needs. We are asking the city for a special use permit for the sale of beer, merchandise and food on-site. The reason for this request: by only selling beer wholesale, we will not be profitable in our early stages of business development. We need to sell pints of beer as well as a growlers [64-ounce jugs] on the site, in order to increase our profit margin to be successful. In addition we feel that the sale of delicious, high quality food is also needed to complement our beer. The kitchen will be used for preparing adjuncts or different beer recipes as well as for pairing food with our beers. In addition food will be available to go for individuals or for catering purposes. We have secured the site by signing a one-year lease with three three-year options for renewal.

We have visited with some of our immediate neighbors: Flobeds warehouse, Cavalry Baptist Church and Nello's Market. All three have stated that they have no problem with a brewery going in at this location. The Baptist Church has requested that they can continue to use our parking lot on Sunday mornings for their services to which we have agreed.

We feel that the City of Fort Bragg needs a second brewery and associated event area and has the population and tourist traffic to support it. Our beers will be different in style to North Coast Brewing. We will have 4-6 mainstay beers, however we will be constantly experimenting with new beers and will have several new beers each month for our patrons to sample.

By putting another brewery in Fort Bragg beer lovers will have an additional reason to visit our town. Overtime Brewing Inc., along with North Coast Brewing will make Fort Bragg more of a destination. There is a growing group of tourists who travel just to visit breweries especially in beautiful environments like we enjoy here on the coast.

It is our hope that we can give the City of Fort Bragg another attractive venue where locals and tourists alike will come to enjoy great original craft beers complemented by quality food in a lively atmosphere. We are excited at the possibility of creating something we are all passionate about and becoming successful business owners. We look forward to working with you on our project.

Respectfully yours,

Greg Ziemer, Dave Simons & Stephen Duerr

Fort Bragg

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Dear Planning Commissioners,

I'm writing to ask that you SUPPORT the approval of Overtime Brewing's application for a use permit to have a kitchen and serve food at the old Lost Coast Culture Machine location. I think it's the perfect place for a brewpub with possible outdoor seating. Denny's and Jenny's Giant Burger are already in that area, so it's not a stretch for that location to also serve food. That their name is not Lenny's or Benny's is also a bonus, and, personally, I'm hoping that they will fill that important niche of non-mega-corporate eateries that have burgers WITH BACON, since that, too, does not exist in that immediate area. Being a micro-brewery in a town that currently has none ensures that it will be a destination business, meaning that it doesn't need to be in the Central Business District in order to be successful. By opening up a walk-in customer business in that area, it will also add life to an area that is very industrial in its current feel. And while I support our North Coast Brewery and all it does, I do feel a little competition is healthy, and I believe that Overtime will be serving a demographic that I perceive these days is not so much served by North Coast Brewery's restaurant and taproom: locals. To sum, I'm super excited about this, and I hope you are too, and that you will support them in their efforts to further expand and diversify our local, independent restaurant base.

Thank you for your consideration,

Scott Menzies, Fort Bragg, CA

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A FORT BRAGG RESIDENT OBSERVES: Two problems with this — one is water usage. Breweries are water guzzlers. I think we will be facing water shortages to infinity and beyond, and it will be the residents, not biz, who will suffer. This should go outside of town on land with a great well and water storage capacity. Secondly, dispensaries for LEGAL medical MJ are prohibited in the city limits. Why the inconsistency here? It’s ok to get high on beer, but not ok to get high on legal smoke? The city seems to be setting the stage to become a beer town, famous for artisanal beers. Is this because their plans for crap development, like the proposed mall, taco bell, etc., etc., will turn off high end tourists, leaving only beer guzzlers? I have nothing against beer, it's the first alcoholic beverage I tasted, at 4, and my family guzzles it happily. But there are other ways to go that might offer more options in the future.

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AGEE v. ORTNER

In a news item by Independent Coast Observer reporter Carolyn Young last week, Redwood Coast Medical Services CEO — and former (temporary) AV Clinic Director noted for her bluntness and directness while here — made a few more blunt remarks about problems with mental health services on the Coast, particularly Ortner Management Group (adult services) and Redwood Quality Management (children’s, i.e., under 25, services). Speaking about an upcoming August 27 “Quality Improvement Meeting” at the South Coast Health Center/clinic, Ms. Agee said she “hopes to provide input on the shortfalls she sees in mental health services in the Gualala and Point Arena areas. ‘I have been pleading and begging for help,’ said Agee. ‘It’s interesting that they do a meeting in the RCMS building but don’t invite me to attend.’ Agee said Redwood Quality Management and Ortner Management Group are not providing adequate services for the South Coast. ‘We’ve had horrible experiences with adults and children,’ Agee commented, explaining under the current county system adults needing care get sent to Ortner facilities in Yolo County; children get sent to Redwood Quality Management facilities in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. Agee expressed objection over patients being released as soon as the next day and added that inquires about patients are often ignored. Agee said she was disturbed over a case in which a 15 year old suicidal young woman was not treated appropriately. ‘Their (the County’s) response was to call the sheriff,’ Agee said. ‘She ended up in handcuffs. Will she tell anyone next time she feels suicidal?’ Agee welcomes the upcoming public discussion. ‘We need more of a public dialogue,’ she said. ‘I definitely plan to attend the meeting’.”

THE MEETING is technically supposed to only “gather public input” and “inform the public.” But the presence of the formidable Agee could turn the meeting into something much more interesting.

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WARNINGS OF TOXIC ALGAE ON RUSSIAN RIVER IN SONOMA COUNTY

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Warnings-of-toxic-algae-on-Russian-River-in-6459738.php

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ALBION SAILS ON

AlbionHippies2

Albion Council of Elders

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JOEL WALDMAN OF ELK died at home Wednesday. He'd been ill with cancer. Joel was a frequent voice on KZYX and known to many people in the Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Coast.

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THE GOOD NEWS

The world's wealthiest 400 people lost $76 billion on Friday, which marked the New York stock exchange's biggest loss of the year as the Dow industrial average plunged more than 500 points.

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SEVENTY ANTI-ABORTION ‘ACTIVISTS’ PROTEST at Santa Rosa Planned Parenthood Clinic — The demonstration at the Sonoma Avenue clinic is part of protests occurring this weekend at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4376041-181/70-protest-at-planned-parenthood

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WINE & WATER WATCH (WWW) CHALLENGES NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S INVASIVE WINE EMPIRE

by Shepherd Bliss

Sonoma County, California — Activists objecting to the over-growth of the wine/hospitality industry in rural areas of four Northern California counties have met monthly for half a year. At their August 15 meeting in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, one of the wine industry’s epicenters, they agreed to name themselves Wine and Water Watch (WWW).

They ratified the following mission statement: “We challenge the over-development of the wine tourism industry and promote ethical land and water use. We advocate agricultural practices that are ecologically regenerative.”

The new WWW name replaces the temporary name of Four County Network, which was agreed upon at the third meeting. The group met previously in Middletown, Lake County, Jenner on the Sonoma County coast, twice in Calistoga, Napa County, and in unincorporated Graton, Sonoma County. Attendance has varied from around two-dozen to over 50 activists, by invitation only.

The group has studied the wine industry and criticized its over-expansion, especially in rural areas. Participants have published some of their research widely, attended meetings of Sonoma County’s Wine Advisory Group, which is dominated by the wine industry, been interviewed by newspapers, on the radio and TV, and held protest signs in Napa County. They have sent many letters to editors and government officials. A mass movement seems to be emerging.

Among those participating in WWW have been activists from various groups, including Preserve Rural Sonoma County, Napa Vision 2050, Hidden Valley Lake Watershed, Valley of the Moon Alliance, Westside Association to Save Agriculture, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers. They speak at the meetings as individuals, rather than as representatives of groups.

Participants include organic farmers, grape-growers, wine-makers, lawyers, artists, writers, parents, community activists, and others concerned about the future of the counties, towns, and mainly rural areas where they live.

About thirty people attended the Aug. 15 monthly meeting. Community advocate and grape-grower Judith Olney, who chairs the Westside Community Association Advisory group and works with the Sonoma County Water Coalition, welcomed about 30 people to the Healdsburg meeting. She distributed a list of 30 groups in Sonoma County working on related issues.

“I have a strong interest in pesticide contamination,” revealed Lake County’s Elizabeth Montgomery. “The Wild Diamond vineyard proposed would be on top of a vulnerable aquifer and close to my home. I do not appreciate being driven out of my home by pesticides.”

“Don’t let the well go dry,” author Jonah Raskin remembered his father teaching him. In fact, wells have been going dry throughout California in this fourth straight drought year, especially when a new vineyard moves in next door or expands.

Raskin reported on a book he is writing for the University of California Press on water. “Water is complicated. I’ve seen some wineries making important changes, due to the pressure.”

“Wineries, Wineries, Wineries”

“I’m concerned with all these wineries, wineries, wineries,” declared David Garden of Napa County. “The single crop for Napa is now grapes.” During his childhood “in l940 there were five wineries, whereas there are now 500. We had almonds and all kinds of food crops.”

“The degradation of the quality of life and small town character is what concerns me,” Denise Hunt of Healdsburg said. “We need to learn how to work with people on all sides. Healdsburg has been ranked as one of the top ten small towns.” This generates excessive tourism and drives up prices on essentials, such as housing and food.

Terry and Carolyn Harrison of Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) also commented on the importance of working with both agricultural and environmental groups.

“Entertainment, hospitality, and tourism is what is killing the rural areas,” commented one person. “Wineries as event centers displace local food production.”

“Bad legislation is worse then no legislation,” claimed attorney Jerry Bernhaut. “It can be used to do damage.”

“Our Facebook Page has reached over 12,000 people,” reported Preserve Rural Sonoma County (PRSC) co-funder Padi Selwyn.

“We’re facing large developments,” reported Linda Hale of Valley of the Moon Alliance (VOTMA). “Chinese businessmen are already here with two huge wineries/event centers planned in Sonoma Valley."

Sonoma State University’s (SSU) Business School sends professors to China and elsewhere in Asia to recruit investments. The rising Chinese middle class has a taste for California wine.

SSU recently received a $500,000 donation from a Napa winery, which it uses to transform a building that used to be called The Commons. Students and faculty would eat, meet, and hold meetings and even classes there, where this reporter taught writing. Ironically, SSU’s Commons has been taken over by the wine industry, which hoards water, land, and other essentials to human, animal, and plant life.

“The Syar Quarry in Napa County wants to expand,” reported Kathy Felch. “It proposes to double its operations. It has a history of environmental violations and has been sued five times.”

Olney reported observing meetings of the Wine Advisory Group, which was created to advise Sonoma County’s Planning and Resources Management Department. “The group is 2/3’s wine industry and 1/3 community. We have learned that the county is out of compliance with its own General Plan. Outlaw wineries break the rules and get off scot free.”

“We need to get serious about fundraising and reach out to urban people in Los Angeles and San Francisco. We could do some crowd-funding,” commented Geoff Ellsworth of St. Helena, Napa.

Organizational Development (OD) Opinions

Reflecting on the different types of groups emerging to challenge Northern California’s growing Big Wine, there seems to be three compatible models: business, government, and grass roots collaborative community groups.

Business models tend to have clear leadership, which is often top-down, and can be somewhat secretive. They tend to be more efficient. The government types understand and focus on administrative remedies, which often requires attending many meetings.

WWW is a grass roots group, with participation from individuals of the other two models. It has taken six months to decide upon a name and mission statement. Other groups have made these decisions earlier in their organizational development (OD). Each type of group has merits.

Direct, deep democracy with one-person-one-vote can be slow, cumbersome, sometimes messy, and even frustrating. On the other hand, it can build community and buy-in by participants, which is important for long-term struggles, which will be necessary with the powerful Big Wine.

The OD model of “forming, storming, norming, and performing” can be helpful. WWW is still in the first stage of forming. According to this theory, some storming is likely to happen. Then an issue is how it is resolved. WWW has no steering committee yet. The only committee so far has been the mission statement committee.

Some WWW members feel that it is important to first try all official channels possible, but the struggle against Big Wine can only be won “on the ground.” Through picketing, groups such as Watertrough Children’s Alliance and Apple Roots Group were able to get a “Stop Work” order on a Paul Hobbs’ vineyard, at least temporarily, and caused him to shut down a wine tasting that was being peacefully picketed.

The Grape Rush in Sonoma and Napa counties has made grapes an invasive species that threatens to consume water and land. Sonoma County has over 60,000 acres in grapes and only about 12,000 in food crops.

One cannot live on wine alone. Life is impossible without either food or water. The once diverse agriculture of Sonoma and Napa Counties now has to import more of our food, as the Grape Empire colonizes more land and water, Nearby Lake and Mendocino counties are at risk.

What might be described as a “mass movement,” or even a “rural rebellion,” seems to be growing here in Northern California.

For more information: www.WineWaterWatch.org (in process)

Shepherd Bliss {3sb@comcast.net} is a co-founder of Wine and Water Watch, farms, has retired from college teaching, and has contributed to 24 books.)

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Suffering

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SF WEEKLY STORY ABOUT BAD DATA ON MARIJUANA INDUSTRY USES BAD DATA ON MARIJUANA INDUSTRY

by Ryan Burns

A story that appeared last week on sfweekly.com complains about a bullshit water-usage estimate for marijuana plants. That estimate — which holds that each marijuana plant consumes five to 10 gallons of water per day — is bullshit, as the very same reporter, Chris Roberts, did a good job of explaining back in April.

Roberts notes in his more recent story, “The problem is that that figure has since been published in a string of scientific articles, including this month’s issue of Bioscience.” Lamentable indeed, and we applaud Roberts for calling it out.

Trouble is, he undercuts his case by using a variety of equally bogus figures, several of which aspire to describe our own esteemed region. Check it out — here’s Roberts’ lede:

“This summer has been busy for law enforcement in California’s Emerald Triangle, the sparsely populated rural counties where as much as 70 percent of the cannabis smoked in America is grown.”

Seventy percent?! We at LoCO would be surprised if the Emerald Triangle produces 70 percent of California’s weed, let alone the entire nation’s. Roberts doesn’t provide a citation for the figure. With a quick Google search, the only place we could see this figure cited (repeatedly) was a WordPress blog based in Mendocino County.

Burns1

Roberts also posts the above photograph , which was provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office after the Island Mountain mega-raid in June. He calls the (admittedly massive) bladder “football field-sized.” Now, let’s think about that. Imagine the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office somehow managed to gather enough deputies to field two entire football teams and said, “Hey, let’s throw down!” Those officers would have a pretty cramped pick-up game with the ol’ pigskin:

Burns2

We’ll excuse that analogy as well-intentioned hyperbole. But Roberts goes on to say that this is the kind of image that fuels outrage, whether the water “was pulled from a now-dry creek or a spring,” as if those are the only two options. Industry insiders have posited that the big bag was used as part of a rainwater catchment system, and water storage is exactly what the North Coast Regional Water Board is advocating for marijuana cultivation. Which is not to say it’s commendable to use this much water for weed irrigation during a historic drought, but the source does make a difference.

Returning to the estimate in question (five to 10 gallons per pot plant per day), Roberts says, “That’s a wide range, based on a back-of-the-envelope estimate which has become fact.”

OK, some people might be treating it as fact, which they ought not to do. But how exactly did it become fact?

Another quibble: Roberts makes reference to, “Humboldt County’s brief (and abandoned) effort to regulate outdoor growing… .”

Not abandoned.

And then, taking in the big picture, Roberts reports that “Wholsesale [sic], marijuana is a $16.7 billion cash crop, almost double the California’s wine industry.”

Again, he doesn’t cite a source. So, again, we took to the Google in an attempt to track it down. It appears he’s quoting that figure from the very same Bioscience report that he criticizes for using bad data. And how did the Bioscience authors arrive at that figure? It’s based on a number of hypotheticals (see p. 4), one of which is a U.S. Department of Justice estimate that California (the entire state) produces 60 percent of the marijuana consumed in the United States, which would hardly allow the Emerald Triangle to produce 70 percent of the same total, as Roberts claims.

So, while Roberts rejects the estimated water usage figure cited in the report, and while he ignores the report’s figure on marijuana market share, he seems perfectly willing to adopt its estimate of the cash crop’s value.

Roberts wraps up his report thusly:

“What shouldn’t be lost in all this is the premise of the Bioscience article: that cannabis production has an environmental toll. Nobody knows what the precise toll is, but that hasn’t stopped people from guessing — or having those guesses accepted as gospel.”

We agree that the environmental toll warrants serious attention. And guessing can be problematic.

Cherry-picking those guesses is kind of a bummer, too.

(Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

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A READER COMMENTS

No matter what there are still massive ugly bladders on graded land holding water for a plant nobody needs to survive being grown for greed to satisfy human weakness at the expense of nature. In other words, the opposite of Humboldt County culture. I wonder if we'll ever get over this fundamental contradiction in the way we live around here.

Proving the negative of a negative is not a positive. If anything, this should be a call for more intensive study and good data. Instead it will be used by growers and their apologists to convince themselves they're really not so bad. We're already seeing that in the comments below.

The question is NOT a single plant's water use, but the total use of water by all plants in an irresponsible manner by the total industry during an historic drought from sources that cannot support it. Reducing the question of hydrological impact to a single plant's water use, or bladder dimensions, as if that's what matters, is bad conscience, period. But such reductionism sure does make a lot of people feel alright about their greed, as does sniping at other industries.

Humboldt County should be the leader in responsible growing, for food, wine, weed, whatever. We should not be pointing the finger at others' errors to deflect attention from our own. Do it right or don't do it. Better yet, grow your own so you're not a tool of the Man, whether that's the Vegetable Man or the Weed Man. That's what this county is about.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 22, 2015

Blackwell, Clark, Fitch
Blackwell, Clark, Fitch

ERIN BLACKWELL, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JASPAR CLARK, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

MIKE FITCH, Ukiah. County parole violation.

SEAN FLINTON, Ukiah. Prowling/loitering, drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

WILLIAM KING, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

Mallo, Manuel, Miller
Mallo, Manuel, Miller

TARA MALLO, Ukiah. Petty theft.

LAMAR MANUEL, Ukiah. Battery with serious injury, parole violation.

RANDY MILLER, Willits. Parole violation.

Neeley, Olson, Ornelas
Neeley, Olson, Ornelas

SHERRI NEELEY, Ukiah. Elder fraud-embezzlement, receiving stolen property.

JEFFREY OLSON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

TASHA ORNELAS, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

Simpson, Vanwormer, Wright
Simpson, Vanwormer, Wright

TY SIMPSON, Ukiah. Unauthorized entry into dwelling, violation of protective order.

ELEA VANWORMER, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, resisting.

KIT WRIGHT, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, resisting arrest.

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DONALD TRUMP JUST STOPPED BEING FUNNY

Win or lose, Trump's campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid

by Matt Taibbi

So two yahoos from Southie in my hometown of Boston severely beat up an Hispanic homeless guy earlier this week. While being arrested, one of the brothers reportedly told police that "Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported."

When reporters confronted Trump, he hadn't yet heard about the incident. At first, he said, "That would be a shame." But right after, he went on: "I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that."

This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.

The thing is, even as Donald Trump said and did horrible things during this year's incredible run at the White House, most sane people took solace in the fact that he could never win. (Although new polls are showing that Hillary's recent spiral puts this reassuring thought into jeopardy.)

In fact, most veteran political observers figured that the concrete impact of Trump's candidacy would be limited in the worst case to destroying the Republican Party as a mainstream political force.

That made Trump's run funny, campy even, like a naughty piece of pornographic performance art. After all, what's more obscene than pissing on the presidency? It seemed even more like camp because the whole shtick was fronted by a veteran reality TV star who might even be in on the joke, although of course the concept was funnier if he wasn't.

Trump had the whole country rubbernecking as this preposterous Spaulding Smails caricature of a spoiled rich kid drove the family Rolls (our illustrious electoral process in this metaphor) off the road into a ditch.

It was brilliant theater for a while, but the ugliness factor has gotten out of control.

Trump is probably too dumb to realize it, or maybe he isn't, but he doesn't need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.

Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone — the government, immigrants, political correctness, "incompetents," "dummies," Megyn Kelly, whoever — for their problems.

Karl Rove and his acolytes mined a lot of the same resentments to get Republicans elected over the years, but the difference is that Trump's political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote. The key to his success is a titillating message that those musty old rules about being polite and "saying the right thing" are for losers who lack the heart, courage and Trumpitude to just be who they are.

His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox's Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.

"I've been challenged by so many people," Trump answered. "I frankly don't have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn't have time either…. We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico… We lose to everybody."

On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump's most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.

But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media's most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.

The Clintons' 1992 joint interview on 60 Minutes was a classic example, as was Anthony Weiner's prostration before Andrew Breitbart and Chris Christie's 107-minute marathon apologia after Bridgegate. The subtext is always the same: If you want power in this country, you must accept the primacy of the press.

It's like paying the cover at the door of the world's most exclusive club. Trump wouldn't pay the tab. Not only was he not wrong for saying those things, he explained, but holding in thoughts like that is bad for America.

That's why we don't win anymore, why we lose to China and to Mexico. (How are we losing to Mexico again?). He was saying that hiding forbidden thoughts about women or immigrants or whoever isn't just annoying, but bad for America.

It's not exactly telling people to get out there and beat people with metal rods. But when your response to news that a couple of jackasses just invoked your name when they beat the crap out of a homeless guy is to salute your "passionate" followers who "love this country," you've gone next-level.

The political right in America has been flirting with dangerous ideas for a while now, particularly on issues involving immigrants and minorities. But in the last few years the rhetoric has gotten particularly crazy.

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert proposed using troops and ships of war to stop an invasion of immigrant children, whom he described as a 28 Days Later-style menace. "We don't even know all of the diseases, and how extensive the diseases are," he said.

"A lot of head lice, a lot of scabies," concurred another Texas congressman, Blake Farenthold. "I'll do anything short of shooting them," promised Mo Brooks, a congressman from the enlightened state of Alabama.

Then there's Iowa's Steve King, who is unusually stupid even for a congressman. He not only believes a recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage allows people to marry inanimate objects, but also believes the EPA may have intentionally spilled three million gallons of toxic waste into Colorado's Animas river in order to get Superfund money.

Late last year, King asked people to "surround the president's residence" in response to Barack Obama's immigration policies. He talked about putting "boots on the ground" and said "everything is on the table" in the fight against immigrants.

So all of this was in the ether even before Donald Trump exploded into the headlines with his "They're rapists" line, and before his lunatic, Game of Thrones idea to build a giant wall along the southern border. But when Trump surged in the polls on the back of this stuff, it caused virtually all of the candidates to escalate their anti-immigrant rhetoric.

For example, we just had Ben Carson — who seems on TV like a gentle, convivial doctor who's just woken up from a nice nap — come out and suggest that he's open to using drone strikes on US soil against undocumented immigrants. Bobby Jindal recently came out and said mayors in the so-called "sanctuary cities" should be arrested when undocumented immigrants commit crimes. Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have both had to change their positions favoring paths to citizenship as a result of the new dynamic.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, polling at a brisk zero percent, joined Jindal and Lindsey Graham in jumping aboard with Trump's insane plan to toss the 14th Amendment out the window and revoke the concept of birthright citizenship, thereby extending the war on immigrants not just to children, but babies.

All of this bleeds out into the population. When a politician says dumb thing X, it normally takes ’Murica about two days to start flirting publicly with X + way worse.

We saw that earlier this week, when Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson blew up Twitter by calling for undocumented immigrants to become "property of the state" and put into "compelled labor." When a caller challenged the idea, Mickelson answered, "What's wrong with slavery?"

Why there's suddenly this surge of hatred for immigrants is sort of a mystery. Why Donald Trump, who's probably never even interacted with an undocumented immigrant in a non-commercial capacity, in particular should care so much about this issue is even more obscure. (Did he trip over an immigrant on his way to the Cincinnati housing development his father gave him as a young man?)

Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump's performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings.

Trump isn't really a politician, of course. He's a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it.

People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum.

They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get "crazy," as Thomas Friedman would put it.

Trump's campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It's hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. Fuck everything, fuck everyone. Fuck immigrants and fuck their filthy lice-ridden kids. And fuck you if you don't like me saying so.

Those of us who think polls and primaries and debates are any match for that are pretty naive. America has been trending stupid for a long time. Now the stupid wants out of its cage, and Trump is urging it on. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong, no matter who wins in 2016.

(Courtesy, Rolling Stone)

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

I don’t know what you smell but it smells like bullshit to me.

Even assuming Trump’s on the level, that Trump really IS all for Strong Borders, the question is, so what?

Let’s say he gets into the Big House and he wants to enact Strong Borders legislation. Both the Senate and House are fully bought and paid for and Oligarch-controlled. If he’s not on board with Oligarch priorities, especially and including illegal immigration, Trump won’t be able to pass gas let alone laws that clamp down on illegals.

Nothing warms the cockles of an Oligarch’s heart more than many millions of docile and marginalized and impoverished people that work for next to nothing. That’s the aim and that’s why, for all the posturing and rhetoric, nothing will get done on the issue. The many millions that crossed the border will stay and they will stay as illegals.

More likely in my mind is that he’s outdoing Obama in cynicism. Trump is trumpeting all kinds of stuff and when he gets into power none of it will see the light of day. Including and especially Strong Borders.

If he’s pushed on the issue President Trump will shrug and say, geez, I tried but you know how awkward Congress is.

* * *

LISTEN UP, AMERICA!

Message to Postmodern America

Warmest spiritual greetings, I just extended my stay at Hostelling International-Baltimore for another week, in order to remain in the Washington D.C. area. I am doing this in order to be able to act in a radical environmental capacity in the bioregion. Aside from the Washington D.C. beltway ritual that I was a part of on the occasion of the August new moon, I have been sending out networking messages, because I want to continue being active hereabout. I don't care if the "dog days of summer" are upon us; I do not wish to be idle because of the weather. If nobody wants to do anything critical in the Washington D.C. bioregion now, then I'd like to explicitly be informed of this, and I will go elsewhere. I've got another week at the traveler's hostel in B-More, and then I don't know what I am going to do. This is something which I have been experiencing in the United States for decades...this incomprehensible dead time which occurs now and again. I am NOT interested in living in dead time at all. I don't need it. And just so I do not again have to listen to some zen-yoga genius informing me that everything is perfect and the problem is that I lack patience, I am going to do absolutely nothing whatsoever in this upcoming week of summer humidity, and simply wait. Fair enough? Feel free to contact me with creative opportunities. Respectfully,

Craig Louis Stehr

Baltimore, Maryland

Email: CraigStehr@inbox.com

* * *

NIBBLED TO DEATH BY DUCKS.

The recording of last night's (2015-08-21) KNYO Memo of the Air:

Good Night Radio show is ready to download and keep or just play with one click at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

Stuart Cohen dropped by and played a few of his new songs on guitar for about half an hour, and if you just only want to hear that part, there's a separate link to it in higher sound quality than the recording of the full show. I saved it out before uploading the main file in its usual talking-adequate quality.

Also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find thousands and thousands of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless interesting things to see and do and learn about, such as:

Physics Girl. This is the way a teacher should be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXDKCm2dfMs

A beautiful Rube Goldberg machine, from 3M.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEzcO3nfjZk

The bigamist who painted --and named-- the tesseract.

http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/views-of-the-tesseract-1904/

And a kind of matrioshka doll made of ever-tinier accordions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GeA-frN6jI

— Marco McClean

6 Comments

  1. BB Grace August 23, 2015

    “Stepping Up Initiative”, Re: “All the County can think of to do to reduce the number of mentally ill held in the County Jail is more (unspecified) training for cops.”

    “Sheriff Allman was back before the Board of Supervisors later in the August 4 meeting to propose a jail expansion which would, in part, house more mentally ill inmates. The Board supported Allman’s $20 million grant application. If approved the County would have to hire upwards of $1.5 million worth of additional jail staff and pay about $1 million in County matching funds.”

    Ironic indeed.

  2. Judy Valadao August 23, 2015

    Glad you pointed that out BB Grace. Seems that something is wrong when Law Enforcement is needing more training to reduce the number of mentally ill held in County Jail but a bigger facility is needed to house them? If you are reducing the number why would you need a bigger facility? Would I be wrong in saying Law Enforcement will now be doing OMG’s job that the County all ready pays millions each year for? Law Enforcement people all ready have their hands full. Let OMG step up to the plate and do the job they are paid to do. If the County wants to help take a look at property where there can be room for clients to live (until they are better) and work. A farm with gardens and animals to care for? A place where the buildings could be fixed up by the clients? Perhaps feeling useful could be the best medicine for some of the mentally ill.

  3. Rick Weddle August 23, 2015

    re: Trump being ‘funny’ as a candidate for US Presidency…and what’s more obscene than pissing on the Presidency…

    A lot of this country thought Reagan was ‘funny’ also, before his ‘election.’ And the US Presidency was so stained ALREADY in 2000, nobody even seemed to notice or give a fraction of a damn that that contest was rigged and stolen (STOLEN) by the Bush/Rove ticket, sending us roaring down the Unlawful War Trail. Listening to any of these dildo ‘candidates’ is pointless…where’s the one listening to US?

  4. Sonya Nesch August 23, 2015

    Our Supervisors and their staff seem to be in a race to de-medicalize psychiatric illnesses and to criminalize patients. The severe lack of Mental Health leadership has us going backwards from our already 20 years behind the times Mental Health non-system. No one at the County seem capable of even following an exemplary model such as Nevada County’s Mental Health system. I doubt any other County would stoop so low as to mix Mental Health patients with violent criminals and with the homeless population.

    • BB Grace August 24, 2015

      Nevada County is the only county that implemented Laura’s Law, which is very popular with NAMI in Mendocino, though for all the expense to Nevada County to implement Laura’s Law, under 10 people have been processed.

      Laura’s Law, though not mentioned, and if it was would have been mentioned as Kendra’s Law because Judge Steve Leifman is working drug courts in Dade (Miami) FL, and he is the “mastermind”, in that he did his homework, as a judge he established a network for county governments (by county governments), courts (by Justice departments), and psychologists (by psycholigists) that enables a county to identify and employ their resources in establishing a machine that takes mental health out of the jails. Stepping Up Iniative is a game changer because it changes the justice ststem of processing “drug courts”, where Mental Illness gets help instead of a jail cell, fines, punishment that buries them, disables them from recovery because the burden is too big, and mentally ill can not process. It’s part of the problem to give “weak minded” BIG legal loads, when they are destitute.

      Last Month NAMI came on board Stepping Up Iniative and are now “granting” communities to establish Stepping Up. So why is Mendocino NAMI stuck on Laura’s Law AKA “FAIL!”?

      The fact that the Mental health Board is NAMI appointment heavy is also a problem that was revealed in the “Cultural Competence Plan”, due July, Pinizzotto handed out at the last Mental Health Board meeting in August. (What a mess!)

      The Cultural Compentence Plan issued by the state, as part of their way to hold counties accountable for MHSA money has little boxes wanting to know about things like vet and gang culture. Mendocino has NO vet or gang culture, nor is there a marijuana culture as the box is completely empty. Reading the cultural complience one could say that Mendocino has no clue what marijuana is, and no one in Mendocino has ever thought about marijuana. We hire bilingual (16) as a priority, we spend $81,500.00 on Latino and Native American cultures. Mental health Board contributes $32,00.00 of that, for 30% of the population, that actually penetrates 9,962. Total MediCAL metal health population 24,963.

      Criterions 5, 6, 7, 8 are incomplete, the last 17 pages are addenums that are not listed in the plan contents, and really don’t make sense, like the references are from 1998 with the bulk from last decade.

      If these plans were a map, Mendocino Mental Health is being criminalized, however, IMO this is not because of the stakeholders or privatized providers. They’re very good, and I’m sure they would prefer a medical model, but leadership in HHSA needs to change, and NAMI needs to forget Laura’s Law and get with Stepping Up Iniative.

      Alos the vet, gang and marijuana cultures of MMendocino need to be prioritized and served, not locked up and tossed under bridges.

      Be well (((((Sonya)))))

  5. Bill Pilgrim August 23, 2015

    RE: Trump. This country is full of rage, at every level. And like the dynamics of a dysfunctional, traumatized family, those with no power to affect the ones who are most responsible for creating the reasons for rage…lash out at those who have even less power than they.

    I’m thinking that only a complete and utter collapse of the current economic system will provide a possibility for rebuilding into a more just society.
    If not: BOOM!

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