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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Aug 29, 2015

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A READER WRITES: The AVA covers the issues regarding the Coast Hospital frequently, not so much coverage of the Adventist Hospital in Ukiah. [Ed note: Coast Hospital is a public hospital with an elected board, subject to the Brown Act and the Public Records Act; Adventist and all the other private hospital chains are not…] Recently the AVA prominently featured the single physician whose contract was not renewed at the Coast Hospital. I don't know who wrote that article. But that reporter may be interested in knowing that the same thing is going to be happening in Ukiah, but on a bigger scale, probably involving 20 physicians. Basically this has been an issue all across the country, with the disappearance of small private and group practices, as hospitals turn up the pressure forcing doctors into employee/employer relationships. Suffice it to say the contracts generally favor hospital interests to the detriment of the physicians. Because Mendocino has been a small area this has not happened so much here, for example, there are probably more solo and small group practices in Mendocino County than there are in San Francisco. In San Francisco there is no shortage of physicians. If an individual doesn't want to work for Sutter or Kaiser or another big group, he can always be replaced by someone coming out of residency who wants to live in San Francisco. But, despite its beauty, it is very hard to recruit young doctors to this area. If things go as badly as I think they will, Ukiah will lose 8–10 adult primary providers, a similar number of pediatric providers, as well as general surgeons and ophthalmologists. The Adventist Health system is far from being an open organization, all top tier executives must be of the Adventist faith, and control of the two local hospitals (Ukiah and Willits) resides largely with their corporate offices in Roseville. There has been an uneasy relationship here: on the one hand Adventist is the largest employer in Ukiah, on the other hand it is far from being a community oriented hospital. I foresee a train wreck, with the loss to our community of many doctors who have been here for decades. This would largely affect primary care for the underserved, namely adult Medi-Cal patients & pediatric patients. So maybe your colleague would like to look out for this — I anticipate this playing out in the spring of next year.

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LAST WEEK, Anderson Valley School Superintendent Michelle Hutchins, in her first official public statement as Superintendent, told Anderson Valley that one of her top priorities was healthy food:

“During my two-year tenure as the High School Principal, one of the most consistent requests for review and change from parents is what we feed our children through our Cafeteria service and to offer more choices. We spent many hours reviewing the food options offered, the nutritional value of our food, the vendors providing our food, and what it costs. Our long-term vision is to offer healthier, locally grown food provided by local farmers. This will be a multi-phased approach to getting there and we are happy to announce that we have put the first phase of this vision in place. Beginning this week, we changed the menus to provide healthier choices.

Breakfast: The children are being offered healthy cereal options with creative packaging. The cereals are whole grain, low sugar, individually packaged with familiar names such as Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs. They are also being offered Greek yogurt, granola and fresh fruit each morning.

Lunch: In addition to a hot lunch option previously provided, we now have vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Students are also offered yogurt and fresh fruit with their lunch. Again, it’s about having more healthy options.

Super Snack: At the end of each school day, all children will be offered a super snack that contains a protein, whole grain, fruit and vegetable.

We are very excited about these healthier menu changes. As for the next phase of this project, we are beginning conversations with local farmers and putting the processes in place to continue marching toward our vision for locally grown food in our Cafeteria service and will update the parents and community as we implement the next phase. Stay tuned.”

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MOST PEOPLE were with Ms. Hutchins up to where she described “Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Cocoa Puffs” as “whole grain, low sugar.” Fruit Loops as school food won’t go over well with a lot of Anderson Valley parents no matter how they’re described. Then came reports from several parents this week who said that they were unhappy that their kids were offered “Pop-Tarts” (or something like that) also. In an area like Anderson Valley where lots of people are heavy into the local healthy food movement, these corporate, packaged “options” are not options at all. At least two callers have told us that Ms. Hutchins and the school district are paying a food consultant from the Central Valley some pretty big bucks for these “healthier menu changes.” “How about oatmeal, toast made of good bread and an apple?” asked one annoyed parent. “Is that so hard?” So, predictably, complaints have arisen, meetings are being held with and without Ms. Hutchins.

In defense of Ms. Hutchins, some others have said that the changes may have more to do with maximizing federal food reimbursements, food storage problems at the cafeteria and inconsistent quality in last year’s school food.

The subject is expected to be on next Thursday evening’s school board meeting agenda.

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NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE weekend weather outlook for Mendocino coast & interior:

A cold front will move through the region tonight [Friday] bringing periods of rain late tonight through Saturday morning. Rainfall will range from a trace in far southern Mendocino County to around a tenth to two tenths in northern Mendocino County. Gusty south winds will develop ahead of the front with gusts of 20-30 mph on mountain ridge tops early Saturday morning. Long period swells will build into the coastal waters on Sunday potentially resulting in a moderate risk of sneaker waves for coastal beaches through Sunday evening. Beach goers are reminded to never turn their back on the ocean.

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A storm system offshore will bring a brief shot of rain to Northwestern California late tonight into early tomorrow morning. The possibility of light spotty rain showers will start on today, however, the highest rain amounts will most likely hold off until late tonight into early tomorrow morning when a weakening front approaches the coast. Cooler weather conditions with a chance of showers will persist on Sunday. Be ready for brief wet weather this weekend.

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GUALALA WATER. So what does it mean to not be able to meet river bypass flows when diverting water for a public, municipal water system? In the case of The Sea Ranch, when bypass flows are below legal limits, it means the water company must resort to off-stream, stored water, and if there is no water in the reservoir during those times, the Water Company must file for a Temporary Urgency Condition with State Water Resources Control Board. Thus it is incumbent on The Sea Ranch Water Company to manage the resource wisely and when it rains and adequate river bypass flows can be met, to fill the reservoir, enforce conservation, monitor use, and attempt to crystal ball the weather. Even with such a large landmass in the watershed, it can be done.

DOESN'T WORK this way in Gualala, just a few miles north of Sea Ranch on Highway 1. There is no, has been no, and so far has not been any effectively planned off stream storage facility as deemed a requirement in the North Gualala Water Company permit. The permit does allow for alternate source supply (wells that are not influenced by river flows). What are the implications?

BACK IN 2008 or so, North Gualala Water Company violated the terms of their permit by drafting from the wells at Elk Prairie (the location of the subterranean supply wells) when bypass flows dropped below permitted levels. The Water Board imposed $500/day fines, yet the California Department of Public Health stood behind the water company (by default) in that the water company was a purveyor of a vital resource, and that for the protection of health and safety through the provision of a vital resource the health and safety of customers in Gualala, were insured. A hold was imposed on the fines (the costs of which would be passed to the customers).

IT SHOULD be mentioned that the river bypass flows are somewhat severe for the North watershed, in that they are low in the summer, yet in October they rise tenfold, which puts the water company at risk of violation since winter rains to support the required flows have not been enough to raise the river to the required amounts to legally divert water.

SOUTH COAST HISTORIANS say that when (the year) the bypass flows were initiated, winter began in October, and the river began flowing. Be all this as it may, we're talking family when we talk Gualala Water. Handing the water company ownership down from father to son has its problems as has been demonstrated from John Sr. to John Jr. and now to David, the son of John Jr. … The recipient always receives the benefit or the non-beneficial attributes of ownership.

SOMEWHERE along the line, the North Gualala Water Company purchased the Anchor Bay water system, and the system again evolved into a much larger enterprise than when first built, thus increasing demand for product, i.e., water, out of the Gualala River. It should be mentioned that North Gualala Water Company does contain water in two rain filled basins just east of Highway One in Gualala, and they do supply makeup water during the summer until the creek supply runs out in summer. But they are not a viable source of supply during the dry years, and when the water flows anyway the rates rise from the expense of the required filtration (a cost-added affair with surface water).

AFTER THE STANDOFF of 2007-08 between the Water Board and the Health Department a solution was required. On the one hand, river flows were not as mandated, on the other hand a health crisis might ensue should the water supply be shut off. Then enters the Public Utilities Commission (another agency overseer of our water systems) to help hammer out a resolution.

A DEAL was made between North Gualala Water Company, SWRCB, SWRCB Division of Drinking Water (formerly California Department of Public Health). It allowed the water company to remain in non-compliance, and instituted CPUC rule 14.1, which allows for mandatory water rationing and all of its implications during low river bypass flows — even and odd street numbering for watering outdoors, water cops of sorts, reporting waste, water company monitoring of wasteful practices, possible raised rates to make up for lost revenues, etc.

ANOTHER ASPECT of this fuzzy puzzle is that the Bower family maintains land holdings in the area surrounding Gualala in acreage only rivaled by Gualala Redwoods Timber (formerly Gualala Redwoods, Inc.). The Bower family has approval from the Gualala Municipal Advisory Committee, and Mendo County to develop a good portion of the lands within the sphere of Gualala. But because of the low river flows, a development moratorium has been instituted, and the Water Company is limited to approximately 1048 water connections. That said, to apply for one of the 40 existing and remaining services is impossible as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has limited the hookups until the water company achieves non violation status through off stream storage or alternate supply — to paraphrase CDFW: “The endangered fish are at risk as a result of illegal diversions.”

JOHN BOWER JR. wants to develop the land into housing, but can’t because he does not have the water or permission from regulatory agencies to do water distribution correctly. But the Bowers tend to do what they want. When the California Coastal Commission instructed Junior not to allow fireworks in the town of Gualala back in 2007, he went ahead and did it anyway. The Coastal Commission subsequently made it clear that Bower wouldn't have an easy time of it with the Coastal Development Permit within the Coastal Zone if he desires to build out his undeveloped acres.

IF JOHN BOWER JR. decides not to build the required reservoir because right across the river there's a reservoir on The Sea Ranch… Well the South Coast might see a kind of rural repeat of "It's Chinatown, Jake."


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'Today is my 51st birthday, another year around the sun. Alone again but at least I am not surrounded by pros in the ICU concerned about my reaching next week let alone next year so no complaints. My wife can wish me a happy birthday out loud, even if she might not know what that means entirely. The Perseived shit storms have rained down, passed for now (I hope), and today was ok. That is all I hope for these days, being ok now. The days have gotten better, or I have gotten better at keeping myself busy. The long dark, forces the mind to look in for ten hours as there is nothing to see out there till the sun returns. And when there is nothing to see and we get accustomed to the walls and the furniture and the rooms, quiet save for the cat and dog who really could care less and never reply when I talk, the mind starts chewing. I stave it off with beer and movies. Action/adventure is best as there is no ambiguity, the good guy (always a guy) always wins and the bad guy is always pure evil. Ambiguity is poison to a mind seeking definitive answers. It eats at what is there and also digests what is not. Chowing down on “What if this is as good as she gets?” “What if she never learns to walk?”, “You are not ready for this are you?”, “We are fucked!”

All this in spite of being amazed and ever more hopeful every time I see her. She is getting better. Her brain is sharp, she is getting stronger. I think she knows me in spite of not remembering our wedding. It is as if her entire life was the building of a house and all her memories and all her skills and all that made up what we know as Loretta is the house from the foundation to the dry wall to the paint to the shingles, the pictures on the walls, the structure of the rooms, the appliances, the pots; everything in the house is a life constructed. The stove, the kitchen aide, the pans, wooden spoons, thermometer, the zester? Those are the blue ribbon pecan pies and the tart/tangy applesauce and the crispy fried chicken and the brownies and the citrus crack she called lemon bars. Her sharp knowledge of wine and chocolate.The sweet and savory she brought to every event because “We can not show up empty handed!” The groaning shelves of books? Her sharp wit and love of adventure and mystery and horror, her understanding and deep sympathy for people, her skepticism of nonsense and bullshit. There was rot that was used in the early building when others were hammering away and she had no say. But she had shored that rotten crap up with healthy timbers and not allowed her house to stand on the fucked up work of others.

And now this house has been shaken to its’ core. A magnitude 11 earthquake has tossed walls and floors and doors and tables full of pictures and mementos. The flour and the frozen blackberries from last year and shots of us swapping vows atop the ferry Spokane on its way to Bainbridge from Seattle and cracked jars of blackberry jam and the secret ingredient for a flakey pie crust that is not too dry or soggy and the time we saw Alice Cooper in the airport at 4 in the morning when I was on my way to a boat in the Aleutians after a night of skid row debauchery to get away from my first marriage and you wrote me every day for four months and the perfect potato salad and betting slips for Seattle teams are everywhere as are lotto tickets and so so much more; all strewn across the floor in a deep jumble. Wiring and plumbing and… well everything has been tossed. She is in the midst of this mess and seems to know where some things go. The floor is not stable but she is beginning to pick up a picture here and a pot there and is starting to reassemble the jigsaw puzzle. It is a completely fucked up mess but she is starting to rebuild. My urge is to tell her what goes where. “We have been married 20 years, why don’t you remember?! It was one of so many “happiest” days of our lives!?!” but I can’t. I can only hand her broken pieces and try to help her glue them back together.

In some ways it was easier when she was in a “Minimally Conscious State.” I could still see her as Sleeping Beauty, laying there in blissful slumber waiting for the right medical kiss to bring her fully awake. But Sleeping Beauty never has to deal with the atrophy of brain and body, she is suddenly awake after years asleep and Happily Ever After starts right up without any of the messy therapy. Obviously the seven dwarves were nurses, doctors, certified nursing assistants, dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists.

So Lo is now constructing a new house out of the left over parts from the old one. There will be many familiar things in the new construction. Last week when the nurses were talking to each other about cleaning the patient up I turned to Lo and said “They are going to clean you up.” To which she immediately replied “Really? Ya think?!” Smart assed bitch intact?; check. But, a bit later when I asked where we were when she asked me to marry her she drew a blank. When I prompted her with the Smith Tower and asked her where the building was she said “It is just outside the window.” Kentfield is a long way from Seattle. Slow but sure we are finding out who the new Loretta is and what parts of the old are included. There are always unforeseen problems with construction, and especially so when no one has a blue print. Hopefully we can help her fill in the blank spots, help her pick up the pieces.

One of Loretta and my favorite poems is Frost’s The Road Not Taken, I have it committed to memory. It is a complicated verse that on the surface speaks of seizing the day without worrying about the well traveled paths of career and such. A deeper look shows a mewling traveler whining about the possibilities missed. Lo and I are on a third path, one not chosen nor sought but the one we are on and as such it is the one we have to deal with. I have no clue as to where we will be “ages and ages hence” but right now we are under construction and that is enough.'

W.Dan Houck


(Thank you all for your continued love and support. Don't forget to check into the community page and send some good vibes. Loretta has a long road ahead and could really use all your good cheer. – Shelly Englert)

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MOST SENTIENT AMERICANS know that we've reached a sub-basement of decadence. Lots of Americans draw the wrong conclusions from the evidence of their senses, but we're not here to talk politics. The reality we share is… Well, not that tattoos are necessarily are devolution indicators, but put in the same package as contempt for women, gratuitous violence, celebration of criminal conduct, and aberrant behavior generally, with the whole pathological package set to music, or a semblance of music… We have this old white man paying $7 to see Straight Outta Compton at the air conditioned Fairfax Theater.


Me, and a much younger pair of white women I took to be mother and daughter. Three of us for the 4 o'clock showing. After the show, we smiled at each other, an insider's smile like, “Golly, that was interesting.” Considered as entertainment, at least in the narrow sense in that the movie draws you in because the story line is plausible, you like the characters and they're skillfully acted, and it's certainly energetic; it was a pretty good movie, not that much of it didn't zip past my rheumy powers of understanding. Straight Outta is about a group of dope crooks with a gift for doggerel, a doggerel that expresses the reality of their lives, and when they put it in a kind of dance performance with rhythmic, repeat recommendations to “fuck the police, shoot the muthafuckas dead,” etc., the show definitely holds your interest as you wait to see how the muthafucking police are going to react, post-coitus, so to speak. Not well — and I must say the cops got no break in this one. They'd show up for no reason, muscle black kids around for no reason other than to out-macho them, insult everyone and drive off. Which was true enough of LA back in the day, but this portrayal is a little too black and white, sic. There's a lot of in-movie mention about which rapper did what to the other rapper, and there's an implication of anti-Semitism, which, with other subjects that are mentioned but never explained, makes the story frustrating to people like me, assuming I'm not the only old white guy to pay his way in. I wanted to know what the accusation of anti-Semitism was about; I wanted to know at least cursorily why the rappers thought they were getting ripped off by their managers. All-in-all, though, Straight Outta seems to be an accurate reflection of the serious alienation that we know is characteristic of black ghetto areas. And rap music has come to resonate with millions of young people of all races, a sign that the times have a'changed, and probably not for the better.

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Petty, Lawson
Petty, Lawson

ON SUNDAY, July 26, 2015 Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a reported residential burglary in the 25000 block of Fairbanks Lane in Covelo. Deputies learned the homeowners had returned to their residence and discovered the home had been burglarized with several items having been stolen. A Deputy received several leads during the subsequent investigation, which included the possible location of some of the stolen items. Using those leads, the Deputy was able to establish probable cause to identify the suspects as Sherrie Petty, 28, and Steven Lawson, 24, both from Calpella. On August 26, 2015 Deputies responded to a residence in the 4000 block of North State Street in Calpella where Petty and Lawson were found hiding inside the residence. Both were subsequently arrested for having committed the residential burglary on Fairbanks Lane. Petty and Lawson were booked into the Mendocino County Jail where bail was not set for either due to local arrest warrants and probation violations from other cases. More suspects are currently being sought in connection to this specific burglary case and other burglary cases having recently occurred in Covelo. On August 27, 2015 Deputies recovered some of the stolen items from several of those burglary cases and have returned the items to the victims.

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ON THURSDAY, August 27, 2015 Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies responded to a residence in the 78000 block of Frazier Lane in Covelo for a welfare check on an adult female at the request of a family member. Deputies contacted Lance Halverson, 52, of Covelo at the residence during the call for service. A records check on Halverson discovered an active felony arrest warrant out of the State of Wyoming for possession of methamphetamine. Inside the residence Deputies discovered multiple scales, packaging equipment, drug paraphernalia and approximately 5 grams of suspected methamphetamine. Halverson was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail for possession of methamphetamine for sale. Halverson was also to be held on a no-bail status pursuant to the Wyoming warrant.

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JURY TRIAL RESULT: AUGUST 28 — A mistrial was declared yesterday afternoon after a jury of four women and eight men returned from its deliberations and announced they were was unable to reach agreement on the three counts they had been tasked to decide. Gibron Colt Robert Sloane, age 26, of Willits, is charged with two separate counts of inflicting a traumatic injury on a cohabitant, each a felony, and a third count of false imprisonment, also a felony.


Admittedly a difficult case due to the victim having previously recanted her accusations, the woman testified during this week's trial that her original accusations were true and that her prior recantations were false — that the recantations had been demanded of her by her assailant. The defense argued that the victim was pregnant at the time of the alleged attacks, the recantations were true, and that the original accusations were false, manifestations of hormonal changes brought on by the woman's pregnancy. This matter will be undergo the standard post-trial review by senior prosecutors next week to decide if a new trial with a new jury should be scheduled. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence at this week's trial was Deputy District Attorney Beth Norman. The investigating law enforcement agency was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

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Dear AVA,

I just thought I should let you know, I just received my July 8, 2015 AVA today, August 28, 2015! Assuming you put it in the mail 7/8, that means it was in transit somewhere for 51 days! Is that a record for you? Just thought you'd like to know!

Briana Burns

Black Earth, Wisconsin

ED NOTE: The record is 11 months from Boonville to an address in San Mateo. 51 days is getting up there, though.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 28, 2015

Adams, Blanton, Cafagno, Fields
Adams, Blanton, Cafagno, Fields

KELLI ADAMS, Fort Bragg. DUI, probation revocation.

JESSE BLANTON, Fort Bragg. Community Supervision violation.

MATTHEW CAFAGNO, Covelo. Suspended license, failure to appear.

ANTHONY FIELDS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Flores, Garcia-Ruiz, Halvorson, Holden
Flores, Garcia-Ruiz, Halvorson, Holden

STEVEN FLORES, Ukiah. Shoplifting, probation revocation.

JESUS GARCIA-RUIZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

LANCE HALVORSON, Covelo. Possession of meth for sale, fugitive from justice.

JOHN HOLDEN, Sacramento/Ukiah. Reckless driving, resisting.

JIminez, King, Lenhart
JIminez, King, Lenhart

MICHAEL JIMINEZ, Brisbane/Redwood Valley. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale, sale, transport, furnish.

CURTIS KING, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

ASHLEY LENHART, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

McCorkendale, Pearson, Ruiz
McCorkendale, Pearson, Ruiz

JULIAN MCCORKENDALE, Kansas City/Laytonville. Pot cultivation, processing, honey oil extraction.

ADAM PEARSON, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

BARAQUEL RUIZ, Ukiah. Escape, possession of meth for sale, possession of controlled substance, false ID.

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by Elbert Big Man Howard

With respect to the passing on of George Houser, on August 19, 2015, I would like to say some words of remembrance.

George Houser, first of all, was a man for whom I held an enormous amount of respect.

Big Man Howard, George Houser
Big Man Howard, George Houser

I met George, together with his wife Jean, in 2010, at a time late in both our lives, through a friend, at his home at Friends House in Santa Rosa, California. We had what seemed to be an instant connection - he was so very vibrant then still, with his twinkling eyes and enthusiastic, intelligent questions, trying to find out more about me! I was just so happy to meet him and wanted to hear him recount, from his excellent memory, as many of the wonderful tales as possible of his life in the struggle for human rights and peace! He was a terrific story-teller!

I believe we had an affinity for each other, a comradeship and a bond, because of our common interests and experiences in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the world. We both had travels and comrades in common. I am one of the six original founding members of the Black Panther Party, and was in the Party for eight years. During that time, I served in many roles, including that of National and International Spokesperson for the BPP. My work started in 1966 and George’s, of course, dated back to decades prior to that.

Being a principled man of Peace, George suffered prison confinement rather than be drafted to serve in the war and kill. Indeed, he had made a life-long commitment to the peace movement and the struggle for human rights and freedom.

George journeyed to the deep south of America, where he fought racism through his work in CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality), and he was involved in organizing and participating in the first Freedom Ride in 1947.

Pursuing his quest in search of racial equality, freedom, and justice for all, George joined the struggle for liberation in colonized African countries. There he worked with international activists in the anti-colonialism movement and the struggle for independence in those countries.

George Houser touched the lives of countless people world-wide because of his self-sacrifice and his unparalleled dedication and commitment to the causes of peace coupled with revolutionary change.

Because of his increasing age and infirmity (mine as well!), we did not spend a great deal of time together, but that in no way diminished the joy I experienced in George’s presence, listening to him, sharing stories, talking about the friends we had in common, both in America and Africa and discussing the struggles of the past and present.

I will always treasure our few little luncheons, shared also with Jean and my wife Carole, at both our homes. I won’t forget the time when George arranged for me to speak at Friends House and the honor I felt when he introduced me so warmly.

To George’s wife Jean, his family, and many friends, I will say that I know you must miss him deeply. I believe that it comforts you some to know how unique a human being he was and how exceptionally admired and loved he was by so many, many people, and how much he will be missed by all, myself included.

I do have this strong belief that certain people like George (and also myself) are put here for specific purposes - to do the work in the struggles for human rights and set the example for others to follow.

George Houser has left, as his legacy, some extraordinary examples for us to follow. George’s work is now done and I say, so very well done.

Time to Rest - Rest in Peace, George.

(Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County. Photo by Carole Hyams-Howard. Palestine solidarity rally in Sonoma County, June 2010.)

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I am supposing that the statement “worse than Hitler” is within the context that Trump is considered to be a buffoon, or clown, by more people and with more severity than the nascent Hitler was by the Germans. Otherwise, that throw-away comment is completely absurd. I’ll be so presumptuous to say that it probably goes without saying… But alas, we have people here seriously arguing that Trump is worse than the totally realized Hitler. Have people lost their minds?

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I read with interest the report from the August 20th Fort Bragg Advocate News regarding teachers in FBUSD protesting the raises given to administrators in the district. I would like to point out a discrepancy in the mathematics as presented. Superintendent Bush argued that the raises given to teachers and administrators were equivalent because both received roughly a 5% increase. However, percentages are not dollars. For example, if you take 5% of the high school principal’s salary at $98,051 per year you get $4,903, while 5% of a teacher’s salary in the middle of the salary schedule at $56,785 will yield $2,839. Clearly, these raises are not equal when it comes to pocket money. Perhaps, of greater significance is the fact that these differences get compounded over the years with the end result being a large inequity between the pay of a teacher and the pay of an administrator. With teachers marching down Howard Street the question arises of whether superintendent Bush is worth the $136,802 he was paid last year? This is nearly the cost of three beginning teachers and even more classified staff.

Because school boards work almost exclusively with the superintendent and his staff they develop misconceptions about the importance of the superintendent and leadership from the top down. During my 26 years of teaching I worked for some good superintendents and some bad superintendents. Whether they were good or bad had no impact on what I was doing in the classroom. That was my space and the focus there was on what was happening between my students and me. One reason I wanted to serve on the county school board was to be in a position to point out that education does not happen in the superintendent’s, or principal’s, office. It happens in the classroom, at home, on the playing field, in the cafeteria, on the bus, or any other place where adults and young people interact on a regular basis. A good administrator supports and promotes these educational exchanges in a positive way. Good administrators in education practice “site-based management” involving all staff in the decision making process.

Don Cruser, MCOE Board Member

Little River

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by Justin Moyer

The music died because Buddy Holly merely wanted what every touring musician wants: to do laundry.

Shoved into unheated buses on a “Winter Dance Party” tour in 1959, Holly — tired of rattling through the Midwest with dirty clothes — chartered a plane on Feb. 3 to fly from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Fargo, North Dakota, where he hoped he could make an appointment with a washing machine. Joining him on the plane were Ritchie Valens and, after future country star Waylon Jennings gave up his seat, J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. “the Big Bopper.” Taking off in bad weather with a pilot not certified to do so, the plane crashed, killing everyone aboard. The toll was incalculable: The singers of “Peggy Sue” and “Come On Let’s Go” and “Donna” and “La Bamba” were dead. Holly was just 22; incredibly, Valens was just 17. Rock and roll would never be the same.

Thirteen years later, Don McLean wrote a song about this tragedy: “American Pie,” an 8½-minute epic with an iconic lyric about “the day the music died.” Now, the original 16-page working manuscript of the lyrics has been sold at auction for $1.2 million.

“I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game,” McLean said in a Christie’s catalogue ahead of the sale. “It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music.”

That photograph was always a little bit blurry. At more than 800 words, the meaning of “American Pie” proved elusive even for a generation used to parsing inscrutable Bob Dylan and Beatles lyrics. McLean has said the song was inspired by the 1959 plane crash, but has been cagey about other details.

“People ask me if I left the lyrics open to ambiguity,” McLean said in an early interview, as the Guardian reported. “Of course I did. I wanted to make a whole series of complex statements. The lyrics had to do with the state of society at the time.”

But what state was that? It seemed like the song’s cast of characters — which include a jester, a king, a queen, good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye as well as “Miss American Pie” herself — were meant to represent real people. The song includes references to Karl Marx; Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (or, more likely, John Lennon); the Fab Four; the Byrds; James Dean; Charles Manson; the Rolling Stones; the “widowed bride,” Jackie Kennedy; and the Vietnam War.

What does it all mean? Just what a song about the day the music died seems like it might be about: the end of the American Dream.

“Basically in ‘American Pie,’ things are heading in the wrong direction,” he told Christie’s, as the Newcastle Herald reported. “It is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.”

As ideals of the 1960s turned into the cynicism of the 1970s, this feeling was widespread enough to send the song to No. 1 in 1972.

“American Pie is the accessible farewell to the Fifties and Sixties,” Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis wrote in the catalogue. “Bob Dylan talked to the counterculture in dense, cryptic, apocalyptic terms. But Don McLean says similar ominous things in a pop language that a mainstream listener could understand. The chorus is so good that it lets you wallow in the confusion and wistfulness of that moment, and be comforted at the same time. It’s bubblegum Dylan, really.” (Perhaps of note: Dylan’s manuscript of “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for $2 million in June, besting McLean’s measly $1.2 million.)

Forty-four years after “American Pie’s” release, McLean, 69, wasn’t much more positive about the state of the world than he was a generation ago.

“I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015,” McLean said, as People Magazine reported. “There is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of ‘American Pie’.”

Nor was there romance in McLean’s decision to sell the manuscript. He did it for the dough.

“I’m going to be 70 this year,” he told Rolling Stone. “I have two children and a wife, and none of them seem to have the mercantile instinct. I want to get the best deal that I can for them. It’s time.”

Ahead of the Christie’s auction, McLean did offer some advice to all the budding Don McLeans out here.

“I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song,” he said.

Here are the words of “American Pie” as transcribed by, the savior of cover bands everywhere. (Note: AZ creatively transcribes what many hear as “whiskey and rye” as “whiskey in Rye.”)

* * *

American Pie

A long, long time ago

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile

And I knew if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance

And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver

With every paper I’d deliver

Bad news on the doorstep

I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

[Verse 1]
Did you write the book of love

And do you have faith in God above

If the Bible tells you so?

Now do you believe in rock and roll?

Can music save your mortal soul?

And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him

‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym

You both kicked off your shoes

Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck

But I knew I was out of luck

The day the music died

I started singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

[Verse 2]
Now for 10 years we’ve been on our own

And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone

But that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen

In a coat he borrowed from James Dean

And a voice that came from you and me

Oh, and while the king was looking down

The jester stole his thorny crown

The courtroom was adjourned

No verdict was returned

And while Lenin read a book on Marx

The quartet practiced in the park

And we sang dirges in the dark

The day the music died

We were singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

[Verse 3]
Helter skelter in a summer swelter

The birds flew off with a fallout shelter

Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass

The players tried for a forward pass

With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume

While the sergeants played a marching tune

We all got up to dance

Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field

The marching band refused to yield

Do you recall what was revealed

The day the music died?

We started singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

[Verse 4]
Oh, and there we were all in one place

A generation lost in space

With no time left to start again

So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

Jack Flash sat on a candlestick

‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage

My hands were clenched in fists of rage

No angel born in Hell

Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night

To light the sacrificial rite

I saw Satan laughing with delight

The day the music died

He was singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

[Verse 4]
Oh, and there we were all in one place

A generation lost in space

With no time left to start again

So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

Jack Flash sat on a candlestick

‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage

My hands were clenched in fists of rage

No angel born in Hell

Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night

To light the sacrificial rite

I saw Satan laughing with delight

The day the music died

He was singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die”

They were singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey in Rye

And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die”

* * *


* * *



Armstrong Louis   do you know
his voice   do you
know what it means
to miss

and Mr. Fats   walking home
someday   walking to

or will there be new owners
that was just a song   we
play it here a lot

this is to be a tidy century
exclusive   perhaps without
too much of you

or me   or

do I know what it means
tell me   sing it
I'll try to sing it too

—Gordon Black

* * *

MichaelChristoffersonMICHAEL LEE CHRISTOFFERSON, 64, died Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at his home in Boonville, Ca with his family by his side. Michael was born February 3, 1951 in Ukiah, Ca to Lee and Betty Christofferson, who later divorced. Michael graduated from Potter Valley High School in 1969. Michael loved animals, especially his cows and sheep. In the 1980's Michael lived in Kansas and owned sheep feed lots. Michael was comforted by his faith and enjoyed attending Sunday church services. Michael was survived by his parents Jess and Betty Scott, his brothers Dale and Tim Scott along with their spouses Lori and Mike, his daughters Julie and Kati along with their spouses Cary and Jeremiah, his grandchildren Courtney, Casey, Russell and Annalise and his nephew Shilo. Michael will join his late brother, Keith and daughter, Lisa in heaven. A funeral will be held on Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 3:00 PM at the Potter Valley Bible Church followed by a graveside service at the Potter Valley Cemetery. There will be a potluck at the Potter Valley Rodeo Grounds following the services. Please join Michael's family and friends there to tell stories and to celebrate his life. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the American Cancer Society.

* * *


by David Bacon

A burned-out concrete blockhouse - the former police station - squats on one side of the only divided street in Vicente Guerrero, half a mile from Baja California's transpeninsular highway. Just across the street lies the barrio of Nuevo (New) San Juan Copala, one of the first settlements of migrant farm workers here in the San Quintin Valley, named after their hometown in Oaxaca.

Behind the charred stationhouse another road leads into the desert, to a newer barrio, Lomas de San Ramon. Here, on May 9, the cops descended in force, allegedly because a group of strikers were blocking a gate at a local farm. A brutal branch of the Mexican police did more than lift the blockade, though. Shooting rubber bullets at people fleeing down the dirt streets, they stormed into homes and beat residents.

By then a farm labor strike here was already two months old. Some leaders say provocateurs threw rocks and egged on a confrontation, but the beatings undeniably set off smoldering rage in the Lomas and Copala barrios. In addition, a government official who'd agreed to negotiate had failed to show up to talk with strike leaders.

By the end of the day, the police headquarters was a burned-out shell. One of the armored pickup trucks (called "tiburones," or sharks) driven by police at breakneck speed down the dusty alleyways had been torched as well. It would be hard to imagine a more dramatic demonstration of workers' fury over four decades of hunger wages.

And while the most dramatic protest this year has taken place in Baja California, the same anger is building among indigenous farm workers all along the Pacific coast, from San Quintin in Mexico to Burlington, an hour south of the U.S. border with Canada. Two years ago Triqui and Mixtec workers struck strawberry fields in Skagit County in Washington State. Two years before that, Triqui workers picking peas in the Salinas Valley rebelled against an inhuman work quota, and immigration raids in the town of Greenfield.

The strawberries, blackberries and blueberries sold everyday in U.S. supermarkets are largely picked by these indigenous families. Their communities are very closely connected, all along the agricultural valleys that line the Pacific Coast. These migrants come from the same region of southern Mexico, often from the same towns. They speak the same languages - ones that were thousands of years old when Europeans first landed on this continent. Increasingly they talk back and forth across the border, sharing tactics and developing a common strategy.

Indigenous farm workers labor for a small number of large growers and distributors who dominate the market. One of the largest distributors is Driscoll's. Miles Reiter, retired CEO and grandson of its founder, says its intention is "to become the world's berry company." Driscoll's contracts with growers in five countries, and even exports berries from Mexico to China.

Driscoll's and its Baja partners BerryMex and MoraMex have a large share of Mexico's berry harvest, worth $550 million annually. Last year Mexico shipped 25 million flats of strawberries to the U.S. Mexican shipments of 16 million flats of raspberries and 22 million flats of blackberries were larger than U.S. domestic production. The company, with headquarters in Watsonville, California, is a partner with growers all along the U.S. Pacific Coast as well.

Global distributors and growers wield enormous economic and political power. But farm workers are beginning to challenge them, organizing independent and militant movements on both sides of the border.

One of the San Quintin strikers, Claudia Reyes (her name has been changed to protect her identity), walked out when the movement started. She works in the huge tomato greenhouses of Rancho Los Pinos, owned by the Rodriguez family, one of the most politically powerful in Baja California. The gulf between her living conditions and the wealth of the grower she works for is typical of indigenous farm worker families in the valley.

Reyes' home in Santa Maria de Los Pinos is a cinderblock house with a concrete floor, an amenity many neighbors lack. Several years after building it she still can't come up with the money to buy frames and glass panes for windows. She's also strung electrical conduit and plugs up the concrete walls, but the government provides no electrical service. "We buy candles for light at night, and I worry that some crazy person might break in and hurt me or the kids, because there are no streetlights either," she says.

During the six-month work season her family doesn't go hungry, but they only eat meat twice a week because a kilo costs 140 pesos (about $8). Eggs cost 60 pesos ($4) a carton, she says, "so it takes half a day's work just to buy one." She's paid by the hour, making 900 pesos a week, or 150/day ($9), for the normal 6-day week.

All along her dirt street neighbors have strung up long pieces of thin cloth to keep out the omnipresent dust. There's no sewer service, and although there is a water line, the water is almost unusable. Since the mid-1970s big growers and their U.S. partners have pumped so much water from the desert aquifer that salt has infiltrated the groundwater. The largest growers are now building desalination plants and installing drip-irrigation systems in huge greenhouse complexes.

In the barrios, however, families live with salty water. "It makes the children sick," Reyes says, "and gives them a rash if they wash with it." At the entrance to her yard sit two 55-gallon drums. Every few days a big tank truck fills them with drinking water - for a price.

It was water that led to the creation of the organization that mounted this spring's strike. Two years ago community committees in the valley towns formed the Alianza - the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice - to fight for better water. They won promises from the government of extended service hours and improved quality.

According to Bonifacio Martinez, an Alianza leader, "For years we've been hoping for some kind of change but it never happened." Before starting the strike on March 16, activists went from one colonia to another, meeting with families after work. "We asked them, 'Are you willing to continue living like this?'" he remembers. "What's behind this movement is hunger and need. To the powerful people here we're just machines to do the work. They have to see us as full human beings, and respect our rights and indigenous culture."

Women charge that supervisors harass them. According to Reyes, "They don't say anything. They just go with the foreman, but they do it against their will, out of fear." She named several supervisors at large companies she says have hit on women. All the companies say they have policies forbidding sexual harassment, but firings for violations are virtually unheard-of.

Fidel Sanchez, an Alianza spokesperson, charges that the most basic disrespect is economic. "The companies are paying 10 pesos (60¢) a box on the piece rate, and an hourly wage of 100 to 120 pesos ($6-7) a day," he said in an interview at the height of the strike. "How we can survive on these wages? "

BerryMex, the largest employer of strawberry pickers in the San Quintin Valley, says it pays much more. A posting on the company website during the strike claimed workers earned $5-9 per hour - a top wage equal to California's minimum wage of $9.

Pickers are usually paid a piecerate, however, both in Mexico and the U.S. Earnings vary greatly depending on the time of year, the condition of the field, and how fast they work. In an interview, BerryMex CEO Garland Reiter mentioned one worker who made 2800 pesos a week ($185), but acknowledged the average was probably less. "But we also pay the employee's contribution [for government-required social benefits]," he said. "When the employee gets 180 pesos a day we're actually paying 220." BerryMex' piecerate is 14 pesos a box (the Alianza wanted 20).

Reiter said lower wages in Mexico wasn't the main reason for developing its San Quintin operation. "We wanted to compete with Chile, using trucks to get to the U.S. market in the winter instead of air freight," he said. The company invested in erecting cloth tunnels over its berry rows, a desalination facility, a clinic, and measures that doubled worker productivity.

In a final negotiation session between the Alianza and the government on June 4, authorities announced a new minimum wage in San Quintin of 150, 165 or 180 pesos a day, depending on the size of the employer. They also warned they would enforce the collection of employer contributions for social security, housing and other benefits.

But the price of a gallon of milk in a Baja grocery store is the same as in San Diego. At a minimum hourly wage in a California field, that takes about 25 minutes to earn. A Baja piece rate worker in a good field might make it in an hour or two. At the top daily wage of 180 pesos, it takes almost 3 hours. At Reyes' wage, it takes even more time.

The picking season is only six months long, so workers have to survive during the months when there's no work. San Quintin's Mixtec and Triqui laborers originally came as yearly migrants, returning to Oaxaca after picking ended. Today, however, most live in the valley permanently. BerryMex's labor camp houses 550 temporary migrants, but the rest of its 4-5000 pickers live in the towns along the highway. The Mexican government subsidizes some living costs in the off-season, through an income-based subsidy called IMSS-Oportunidades (recently renamed IMSS-Prospera). But most families have to get what work they can or borrow from friends.

Families also survive through money sent home by relatives who work in the U.S. A recent study estimates that over 12% of San Quintin's farm worker families now have at least one member living there.

Large corporations increasingly organize that migration. Sierra Cascade, which grows rootstock for strawberry plants in Tulelake, California, has a recruitment office in San Quintin. The company was sued by California Rural Legal Assistance in 2006 for cheating guest workers hired under the H2A visa program. In 2007 Sierra Cascade recruited 340 guest workers from San Quintin, 550 in 2010, and more every year since. According to Laura Velasco, Christian Zlolniski and Marie-Laure Coubes, authors of From Laborers to Settlers, "the San Quintin Valley has become a center for the recruitment of temporary migrant workers for the U.S."

In economic terms, the strike was fought to a draw. Workers originally demanded 300 pesos a day, and then lowered it to 200 pesos. The government gave even less. Nevertheless, wages and benefits will rise for some. But after negotiations ended, Alianza leaders announced a decision that will a have greater long-range impact, and will bring them into much closer alliance with indigenous strawberry workers across the border.

"We will establish an independent national union for all workers in the fields," Sanchez explained in an interview, "and sign contracts with the different companies. What is being agreed today is just a stage on the road to organizing this new union."

To do this, however, the Alianza will have to break the agreements, called protection contracts, that growers have with politically-connected and company-friendly unions. These agreements are signed without input from workers, who often have no idea they even belong to such a union. When the strike started, these unions quickly signed new agreements for 15% wage increases (less than what the government eventually agreed to), and then told strikers to go back to work. Reyes charges the union in her workplace even paid a bounty of 50 pesos for the names of strikers, which it then turned in to management. Workers, she says, are told that if they don't join it they'll be fired.

An independent union in Baja California, however, contesting for a contract with Driscoll growers, will find allies among workers in Burlington, Washington. Two years ago several hundred Mixtec and Triqui strawberry pickers went on strike at one of the state's largest berry growers, Sakuma Farms. They then organized an independent union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice).

Alianza leader Bonifacio Martinez is a friend of Felimon Pieda, the vice-president of FUJ. "We've talked a lot with Felimon," he says. "They've been fighting for almost three years, and they've formed a union. We're trying to set up the same thing - a union that will defend our rights. We're the same workers, and we're talking about the same kind of union." They also work indirectly for the same company. Sakuma Farms sells its blueberries to Driscoll's, which also markets the berries from BerryMex and MoraMex.

Martinez and Piñeda have talked half a dozen times this year. After the strike started in San Quintin, Pieda called Martinez with a proposal. "We are willing to boycott Driscoll's to help them and to help ourselves too," Pieda explained. "If we get our contract first, we won't stop until they get what they're fighting for. If they win what they're demanding, they will continue to boycott until we get our contract. That way they get a contract there and we get one here. That's what we're thinking of doing."

The workers in Washington State have been organizing pressure on Sakuma Farms and Driscoll's since they went on strike originally in 2013. That season several hundred workers left the fields repeatedly in disputes over wages, the conditions in the company's labor camp and the firing of a worker leader. FUJ demanded $14 per hour, and a piece rate set so that workers would make at least that minimum.

Managers at first agreed to a process for setting the piece rate. But when it would have set higher wages the company would not implement it. That year Sakuma applied for 160 workers under the H2A visa program, and eventually brought in about 70. Ryan Sakuma said in an interview at the time, "Everyone at the company will get the H-2A wage for this work." That was about $12 an hour - a wage mandated by regulations governing the program. According to Rosalinda Guillen, director of Community to Community, an organizing project that's been the workers' key source of support, "The H-2A rate limited what was possible. The workers had to accept $12 because that's what the H-2A workers got." Some workers said they were earning less - Washington State's minimum wage of $9.19/hour.

FUJ President Ramon Torres met some guest workers in a local church, away from the labor camp. "They were very afraid. They said that they'd been told that if they talked with us they'd be sent back to Mexico," he charged.

Relations deteriorated and the company fired Torres over an allegation - later proven false - of domestic abuse. The next spring Sakuma sent strikers form letters saying they'd all been fired. The company applied for certification from the U.S. Department of Labor to bring in 438 H2A guest workers, enough to replace its previous workforce, saying it couldn't find local workers. Strikers all signed letters to the DoL saying they were willing to work, and Sakuma eventually had to withdraw its application. According to FUJ, however, most strikers were not rehired in the 2014 season.

The union launched a boycott of Driscoll's, saying the company was obligated to ensure that growers producing its berries respected labor rights, including the right of FUJ members to their jobs, and to negotiate a labor agreement. FUJ members and supporters began picketing Washington State supermarkets selling Sakuma berries under its own label, and also under Driscoll's label.

This spring the Fair World Project, based in Oregon, collected over 10,000 signatures on a petition to Driscoll's, asking it to terminate purchases from Sakuma "until they in good faith negotiate a legally binding contract." Driscoll's vice-president Soren Bjorn told the freshfruitportal website the company had audited Sakuma Brothers Farms. "There were some legitimate claims a while back and those have all been properly addressed," he said, adding, "We stand behind them as long as they continue to meet our standards."

FUJ also criticized Driscoll's because it supports the H2A program. Bjorn says it fills an alleged shortage of farm workers. "Your only mechanism is to bring in H-2A labor," he told freshfruitportal. "It's the only way today that growers can really expand their labor pool." Guillen responded bitterly, "Labor in the fields has got to be as cheap as you can get it and be as easily controllable as it can be, and the guest worker program provides a way for them to do that."

Driscoll's is just one of many agricultural employers making a new push for the expansion of the H2A program and relaxation of its minimal requirements. One Arlington, WA, grower, Biringer Farms, claimed it could not find local workers despite posting a notice on Craigslist and in a church bathroom. Others claim they're being forced to raise wages, and need guest workers to be more competitive. Last year growers imported 116,689 people, about 50,000 more than in 2011. Joe Pezzini, CEO of California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Corp. with 1000 employees, told the Wall Street Journal "now the highest-priority issue is the availability of labor."

Nevertheless, Sakuma Farms, whose application for H2A workers was defeated in 2014, did not make one for the 2015 season. Many FUJ members went to work, and when picking started so did protests. The company implemented a pay system requiring workers to pick 35 pounds of strawberries per hour to earn a $10 minimum wage ($2 below what they'd paid guest workers in 2013). At first workers negotiated a cut in the quota with owner Ryan Sakuma. When blueberry picking started at the beginning of July, however, the quota was raised.

On its website, Sakuma says it pays a production bonus and a $10/hour guarantee. The website claims that pickers can earn up to $40 per hour. Workers say the quota changes every day. One recent pay scale puts the minimum at 40 pounds to earn $10/hour. To make $40 a worker has to pick 100 pounds each hour.

In two short strikes workers got some concessions, but not on the quota. On July 2 FUJ vice-president Felimon Piñeda led strikers back into the field and delivered a demand for a union contract. The company called deputy sheriffs. "The police said they were going to arrest me," Piñeda laughed. "The people asked, 'Are you going to arrest us all?' So we all left the field and went to the Costco in Burlington to boycott."

Sakuma pickers walked out a third time on July 24. Then on August 8 a strike broke out at another company, Valley Pride Sales. Thirty-five workers left the fields and joined FUJ, asking for a 50¢ increase per box of blackberries. They complained there were often no bathrooms or drinking water in the field, and according to Ramon Torres, they were told to use the restroom at a nearby gas station. After refusing to pick for at the company's piecerate, strikers were told to leave its labor camp.

Over the last several years, Mixtec and Triqui workers in California have also organized work stoppages. One strike by Mixtecos paralyzed Santa Maria strawberry growers in 1999. Four years ago a strike by Triquis hit the Salinas Valley pea harvest, after workers were fired for not meeting high production demands. "Their hands were swollen," remembers Andres Cruz, a Triqui community organizer in the small town of Greenfield. "You use your nail to cut the pod from the stem, and the nail can't handle it sometimes pulls off. We organized that strike in one day." Fired workers won reinstatement and a cut in the quota, but leaders were blacklisted the following season.

As the Triqui and Mixtec population of Greenfield grew, immigration raids began. "The police began to hound anyone indigenous," recalled Eulogio Solanoa, a Mixtec farm worker later hired by the United Farm Workers. When the police chief stopped the harassment and began meeting with the indigenous community, the city council fired him. "That was racism towards the indigenous community. Farm workers marched in his defense, but Greenfield's longtime residents won. It was an injustice."

That anger is building again. Rosalia Martinez, a Triqui picker in Greenfield, explained in an interview, "They want you to pick 130 pounds in ten hours, and we make very little. The hourly wage is supposed to be $9.50, but on the piece rate it's less - $100 in a day sometimes, but other times $80 or $70."

The piecerate is physically destructive, she added. "You have to work on your knees, and it hurts. Sometimes your knees break down. That's happened to a lot of people. Their knees go out permanently and they can't work anymore."

When the strike started this spring in San Quintin, Martinez began following the news on Facebook. "I worked there for a number of years," she said. "We agree with what they did. We come from the same towns. We are the same community. We are indigenous people, and we have to do whatever we can to keep our children eating, no matter what they pay. But if we don't work and harvest the crops, there's nothing for the growers either. We are thinking of doing something here like they did there."

While the absolute wage level differs substantially between Burlington and San Quintin, many demands made by workers are similar, and reflect similar conditions. Piñeda said that when he arrived at the Sakuma labor camp in 2013 he was given mattresses so dilapidated that he had to wrap them in plastic, and had to cover the concrete floor in carpet samples. Another Sakuma striker, Rosario Ventura, said her cabin roof leaked. "They just stuffed bags in the holes and the water still came in. All my children's clothes were wet," she remembers.

The pressure to produce on the piece rate is just as intense on the U.S. side of the border. "You have to make 'weight,' they say," recalled Ventura. "If you don't they give you some days off, and if you still can't make it, they fire you." The pressure of no income in the off-season is the same. A large percentage of Sakuma workers live in Madera and Santa Maria, California. Their work in Washington State has to pay the cost of travel, and then tide families over during the winter. In San Quintin some workers at least qualify for IMSS-Oportunidades. But in California the situation of Mixtec and Triqui workers is even more precarious because they are largely undocumented, disqualifying them from social benefits.

Mixtec and Triqui farm workers in the U.S. and Mexico also share a common history of labor organizing. Many are veterans of three decades of strikes and land struggles in Baja California. Indigenous leaders in both countries recall the first rebellions in San Quintin, led by the Independent Central of Farm Workers and Farmers (CIOAC). In the mid-1980s CIOAC sent organizers to northern Mexico to mount strikes. These were not always peaceful struggles. In one San Quintin strike a local packinghouse went up in flames. Later, as workers began trying to leave the valley's labor camps and build permanent homes, CIOAC organized movements to take over land and force the government to provide water, electricity and basic services. Two leaders, Beatriz Chavez and Julio Sandoval, were sent to federal prison for leading land invasions. One, Maclovio Rojas, was killed.

"Our movement did not arise spontaneously in 2015," Fidel Sanchez emphasized. "We have roots in CIOAC and many of us came out of these earlier struggles." Sanchez also worked for some years in the U.S., where he participated in Florida's Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Other Alianza leaders belonged to the UFW as migrants. "We're trying to unearth knowledge of previous struggles, and incorporate them into the Alianza," Sanchez explained.

Another group with these roots is the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), organized by activists who led farm worker strikes in Baja California and northern Mexico in the 1980s. Its first members were migrants in California, but later it organized chapters in Oaxaca and Baja California. Today FIOB has members in almost every town along the highway in the San Quintin Valley. They were active in the strike, and one, Faustino Hernandez, was shot by police in Camalu during the events of May 9. This spring local chapters began holding workshops teaching the basics of organizing. FIOB chapters in California raised thousands of dollars for the strikers, and a caravan of activists from Los Angeles brought down three tons of food.

"The violation of the human and labor rights in San Quintin has been going on for years, " explains Rogelio Mendez, FIOB's Baja California coordinator. "People have the right to better wages, and they've been fighting for 30 years to get them. But the authorities have abandoned any effort to protect labor rights. Workers are going to have to do this for themselves."

FIOB met with BerryMex and Driscoll's management, after organizing a picketline with other community groups at company offices in Oxnard. Garland Reiter said their accusations against BerryMex were untrue, and then hosted a delegation of outside observers to inspect conditions in its San Quintin fields and labor camp. Two observers later issued a report generally praising them.

FIOB supported the Mixtec and Triqui workers in Burlington as well. When the strike started in 2013, FIOB's binational coordinator, Bernardo Ramirez, flew up from Oaxaca to help. "Foremen have insulted them, shouted at them and called them 'burros [donkeys],'" he declared. "When you compare people to animals, this is racism. Low wages are a form of racism too, because they minimize the work of indigenous migrants."

The Alianza, FUJ and FIOB all charge that migration and low wages impose instability on workers. FIOB calls for the right to not migrate, or the right to stay home - for jobs, education and economic development in home communities that would make migration a voluntary choice, rather than a necessity for survival.

Fidel Sanchez agrees: "We have had to abandon our lands and transform ourselves into farm workers, not just here in the San Quintin Valley but in the United States too. People should not be forced to migrate in search of a better life."

But since Mixtecos, Triquis and other indigenous people have had to leave home, and are now trying to settle in communities up the Pacific coast, they also want rights as migrants and a better economic status. As they fight to get them, they are linked both by common indigenous roots and by their work for common employers. "If companies like Driscoll's are international now, we the workers must also become international," Bonifacio Martinez insists. "I want to say to our brothers in the U.S. - we are crying out for you on our side of the border too. Just like in the United States, here in San Quintin we've decided to come out of the shadows into the light of the world."

(A version of this story with photos is at:

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BOOKS GALORE! Friends of Coast Community Library annual extravaganza book, CD, DVD, audio book and more sale. Look for our special deals. Monday special - $5.00 for a bag full

Saturday - 9/5, Sunday - 9/6 and Monday - 9/7

Sat & Sun - 10 - 3, Mon - 10 - 1

Coast Community Library, Main St., Point Arena

For additional information, contact Donna at 882-2529

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Wines & Spines Book Club

Last Wednesdays of the Month – 6:30 pm

Enoteca Wine Bar, 106 W. Church St.

Adults 21 & over are invited to join our monthly book club Wines & Spines. We meet at Enoteca wine bar on the last Wednesday of each month.

Studies show reading for pleasure reduces anxiety & increases our capacity for compassion. Join us in September for AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: September 30th at 6:30 pm. For a list of our titles & more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or

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Snak, Yak & Write Back

Weekly on Fridays 3:30-4:30 pm

Teens are invited to drop in to the Ukiah Library for book chats every Friday. Come talk with other teens about any books you want. We also share suggestions for what to read next, & sometimes experiment with various writing exercises like creating erasures or blackout poems. Our next meeting is Friday, September 4th.

Snacks will be provided by the Friends of the Ukiah Valley Library. You can also follow District Teens on Facebook or Snapchat to stay informed about hot new books as well as teen events at the library. Listed below are the links to the Facebook page and Snapchat.

Snapchat: districtteens.

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Teen Leadership Council

District Teens space

Saturday, Oct. 10th 3-4 pm

Teens are invited to an informational meeting about the library’s Teen Leadership Council (TLC). Teen leaders can volunteer & apply for credit toward community service hours while building their résumés.

District Teens Leaders will gain valued skills & experience:

Collaborating to design our new teen space

Planning & organizing events

Recommending books & other materials for library purchase

Developing leadership & conflict-resolution skills

Contributing to the Ukiah community by expanding teen resources

Come and find out if this is the group for you!

Snacks will be provided.

For more information – please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or

Melissa Eleftherion Carr
Teen & Adult Services Librarian
Ukiah Library
105 N. Main Street, Ukiah CA 95482
(707) 467-6434

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ON WEDNESDAY, August 19, ten members of Move to Amend from Mendocino, Sonoma and Humboldt Counties paid a visit to the Sacramento offices of State Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood. Both McGuire and Wood made pre-election pledges to support amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that corporations and other artificial entities do not have Constitutional rights and that money is not speech and political spending can be limited. The delegation travelled to Sacramento to show the broad support for Move to Amend in the 2nd Assembly and State Senate districts and to remind our newly elected representatives of their pledge. “We also wanted to establish a dialog with our elected representatives about how to advance the amendment effort on the state level and how we can support their leadership in this effort,” said Margaret Koster of Move to Amend, Mendocino County. “Both legislators were tied up in meetings. We met with their staff. And had a quick meeting with Senator Mike McGuire in the hall outside the committee meeting. We will be following up with them when they visit the district next month,” according to Carrie Durkee, also of Move to Amend, Mendocino County.

Move to Amend, Mendocino County, collected enough signatures to get Measure F on the ballot in November 2012 showing county voters’ support for amending the Constitution and the measure passed with a 75% yes vote.


Left to Right, Back Row: Walt Paniak, Meg Courtney, Doug Hammerstrom, Senator Mike McGuire, Milly Harmon, Kevin Ablett. Front Row: Judy Morgan, Diane Ryerson, Carrie Durkee, Margaret Koster, Robin Sunbeam.


  1. debrakeipp August 29, 2015

    Good writing, Dan Houck!

  2. BB Grace August 29, 2015

    Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA, Ranked

    by Patrick Iber ·August 24, 2015 THE AWL

    In May of 1967, a former CIA officer named Tom Braden published a confession in the Saturday Evening Post under the headline, “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral.’” Braden confirmed what journalists had begun to uncover over the previous year or so: The CIA had been responsible for secretly financing a large number of “civil society” groups, such as the National Student Association and many socialist European unions, in order to counter the efforts of parallel pro-Soviet organizations. “[I]n much of Europe in the 1950’s,” wrote Braden, “socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’—the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.”

  3. Harvey Reading August 29, 2015

    ” Have people lost their minds?”


    • Rick Weddle August 30, 2015

      Well…yeah, kinda. There’s the parcel of the population who’ve taken leave of what’s left of their senses. There’s another category who’ve made a pharmaceutical break with reality on purpose, as a diversion from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…and yes, I count us winos in that bunch. Then there’s the bigger pile of ‘walking wackos,’ who’ve hocked their sensibilities outright. They’ve apparently traded their last cognizance for cheap gas/diesel, a job in ‘defense,’ or banking, or media (or some other corpirate shill slot). These are highly rewarded, well adjusted, contributing members of this ‘culture,’ you see them in their millions every day, on the street, driving along the freeway texting away, in line at the grocery checkout… They know damned well ‘politician’ means ‘crook’ but will fight among themselves over which one is the more ‘believable,’ put the fuckers in office over and over again, give ’em a blank checkbook and keys to the armory, then wonder what the hell went wrong when the Ship hits the Sand (like 911)…like they’re enjoying some sort of implausible deniability. The ‘debate’ over the Donald’s suitability for elected office is too close to the old story about Hitler…the buffoon little gasbag corporal rode quite high on it…and could easily have similar consequences, however immaculate Trump’s or his ‘electorate’s’ intentions.

      It’s not the prospective candidates we need to be interrogating, it’s us, the body of people in this country. We need to stand up on our collective back feet, and take real, decisive steps to correct ALL the buffoon little gasbags, those running for office, and those already enjoying public office while working for other, unlawful forces. Can it happen? Yes. Will it?…

  4. Jim Updegraff August 29, 2015

    Ms. Hutchins seems to have a strange idea of what is healthy food. first, I would ask what percentage of the children are overweight/obese? These children obviously have parents who do not have any concept of what is a healthy diet. It is not surprising they will not eat fruit, greens or other sugar free food and drinks. Also, I would ask how may of the cafeteria staff and teachers are overweight/obese These folks are hardly the role models for children who do not eat a healthy diet.

  5. Jim Updegraff August 29, 2015

    As a follow up to Harvey’s comments. We need to remember people we live in a violent, racist, gun crazy society who find Mr. Trump resonates with their views.

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