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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Sep 21, 2015

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NOW THAT THE BIG FIRES have been mostly surrounded and will soon be extinguished, we tend to assume that's the end of it for this fire season. But standing in Sunday's 2pm heat in downtown Boonville as the afternoon winds came up, Mendocino County is and will remain a tinder box until the first real rain, assuming that rain occurs some time before Thanksgiving.

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FIREFIGHTERS GAIN SIGNIFICANTLY ON VALLEY FIRE, size stable at about 76,000 acres. But “structures destroyed” count goes up to 1,050. CalFire, Sunday night: “On Sunday firefighters continued to construct control lines and have begun to repair alterations to the landscape that resulted from earlier suppression operations. The Mandatory Evacuation Order denying access to the communities of North Loch Lomond, Seigler Springs, and Bonanza Springs will be lifted on Monday, September 21 at 5:00 pm. The cancellation of additional evacuation orders continues to be evaluated based on a variety of factors including potential fire behavior and re-establishment of critical infrastructure. Damage Inspection Teams continue to gather damage data in the affected areas. As additional information becomes available, the numbers of damaged or destroyed structures may change.”

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by Lee Romney

Some were pulled from the fire zone by relatives or neighbors, with or without their wheelchairs. At least a handful made the bumpy ride out in the back of a pickup through heavy smoke and fire-blackened debris — thanks to a former paramedic who breached the blockades.

They arrived at area shelters with oxygen tanks, without their medications, anxious and in some cases disoriented. Then there were the ones who stayed behind —intentionally or not.

Of the three deaths reported so far in Lake County's devastating Valley fire, all were senior citizens, among them 72-year-old Barbara McWilliams, who suffered from advanced multiple sclerosis. Two other men who are believed to have died were in their late 60s.

The aging are woven into the fabric of Lake County, where 18% of residents have passed their 65th birthdays, versus 11% for the entire state. Some have flocked here to retire, drawn to the independent streak that favors community over government; others have aged in place, their grown children gone in search of better job opportunities.

And though it was unclear in the disaster's aftermath how many were living in the evacuation zone, officials said about 2,300 county residents rely on state-funded in-home care or delivered meals.

In the Rocky and Jerusalem fires, which burned to the north and northeast of the Valley fire in August and July, staff of the county Office of Adult Services were able to contact those living in "advisory evacuation zones" and offer transportation to shelters, program manager Todd Metcalf said.

But the Sept. 12 blaze "moved too quickly for us to perform outreach as we normally do," Metcalf said.

Lori Tourville, executive director of the Middletown Senior Center, a daytime hub for meals and social activities that survived the blaze, was evacuated from her Hidden Valley Lake home, then scrambled on social media and through word of mouth from a Ukiah motel to track down clients who may have stayed behind.

"I'm worried about my homebound seniors," she said. "They all have land lines and so they can't be checked on."

Similar concerns were playing out in Calaveras County, which tops the state for the percentage of elderly and where authorities confirmed this week that the two people killed by the Butte fire were senior citizens.

In Lake County, Sheriff Brian Martin said the fire spread "too violently and too quickly" for officials to get to everybody — or even warn them all.

Gail Barrett, 68, who is disabled with debilitating nerve pain, said she received an "advisory call" about evacuation through the reverse 911 system. But before any mandatory evacuation order came through, the power cut out.

A siren that used to sound at a volunteer fire station down the road no longer does. A neighbor helped her pack and, after he helped his own wife, who uses a wheelchair, into their car, Barrett followed them in white-knuckled terror as they turned first toward the fire and then reversed course, finally making it to Kelseyville.

"I was scared to death," she said. "I hadn't driven at night in 13 years."

Deputies went door to door in some areas and called out orders on a mobile public address system, but not everywhere.

A transcript of the early 911 calls tells the tale: An elderly subject with dementia needing evacuation; an elderly female with 18-month-old child needing evacuation; two elderly subjects needing evacuation; an elderly bed-ridden female needing evacuation.

As flames hit Middletown after dark, firefighters threatened to carry out Winnie Pugh, 85, against her will.

"I said, 'Like hell!'" she recalled Thursday, wearing donated pajama pants decorated with reindeer and Santas at the Red Cross shelter in Calistoga and hunched in a borrowed wheelchair that felt like "sitting on wood." (Her electric chair, along with a new electric scooter, melted in the flames.)

Pugh finally agreed to go with her sons when the first board on the house her parents had bought — where her oldest child was born and one of the others died — fell to the ground. She spent four days without medications, which she takes for — “you name it, I got it ... for arthritis, a blood problem, something to sleep, something to wake up” — and has not yet gotten over the shock “of seeing what’s left of my house” in a media photo.

Some chose to stick it out.

Doug Troyer, 68, a retired businessman from San Mateo, wanted to guard his vintage cars — two Pontiac GTOs, a Corvette, and a 1965 Shelby Cobra, each emblazoned with a license plate reading COBBMTN, 1-4.

The blaze raged around his Fox Drive neighborhood but did not touch his block. On Thursday, he was washing his underwear in a bucket with a stick — "1800s-style." Tucked in a front pants pocket was a .44 magnum with a cobra painted on its custom grip.

“I wasn’t supposed to be here, but as long as I was on my property they couldn’t make me leave,” said Troyer, who is well-stocked in the event of global economic collapse and wanted to protect his five cats: Blackie, Mommy, Bandit, Little Bit and Bergmeister.

But others were stuck and as the fire made its crazy dash, law enforcement and firefighting resources were stretched so thin that those seeking help for trapped loved ones were told by dispatchers they would have to wait.

Kristy Ornellas, 28, a former paramedic with relatives all over Cobb Mountain, picked up the slack. In her pickup truck, she edged past roadblocks at 9 a.m. Sunday on back roads and headed into the chaos, hooking up with other former volunteer medics.

In multiple trips, she evacuated a man in his 70s in a hospital bed on oxygen; two women on walkers in their 70s without vehicles, and a woman and man in their 60s, each in wheelchairs.

Her sixth attempted rescue was of McWilliams, but debris blocked the driveway to the secluded home. McWilliams, a retired special education teacher, may have already died. Her caretaker, Jennifer Hittson, left her alone at 3 p.m.

On Saturday, puffs of smoke seemed so sparse that Hittson believed they were coming from the Butte fire dozens of miles to the east. Hittson says her desperate calls later in the evening and the following morning to sheriff's and fire officials on McWilliams' behalf were not heeded, though the Sheriff's Department said in a statement that deputies tried to access the area shortly after 7:30 p.m. but were blocked by flames.

"The smoke was unbearable. I didn't see one fire crew," said Ornellas, who believes more volunteers should be harnessed for rescue work. “Especially in the rural counties, we are elderly here ... there has to be more access.”

On Thursday, Martin told a gathering at the massive evacuation shelter at the Napa County Fairgrounds that he anticipates more bodies will be found. The department has been focusing on those who have reported loved ones missing.

That number stood at five Friday afternoon. But Undersheriff Chris Macedo said he hopes to collaborate with the local Area Agency on Aging and Adult Services to identify others who may be vulnerable.

The agency is mandated under federal law and state law to assist the people it serves as well as emergency responders during disasters, and is housed at the county social services department.

"We are concerned that there may be people out there without family, friends or co-workers," he said.

Betsy Cawn, 71, a Lake County advocate for senior support services, says the lists of the homebound and other vulnerable clients should have been in the hands of the Sheriff's Department immediately. She said she has been pressing health and social services officials to better coordinate with the department "for years."

“They have neglected these people to a fare-thee-well,” Cawn said.

In an email, Lake County Social Services Director Carol Huchingson said her department meets all requirements.

As she scrambled to get shelters running and plan for a drawn out recovery effort, she added: "During my 20-plus years here, Lake County has not experienced a disaster of this magnitude."

(Courtesy, the LA Times)

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BREAKING NEWS On A Slow News Day In Ukiah

by Bruce McEwen

Just returned from lunch, coleslaw and ribs at Romi’s BBQ. Had no more than walked through the door when the waitress exclaimed, "Bruce!" and I have to assume she was pleased to see me. I’m pretty much a fixture in this establishment so I wasn’t surprised at her greeting — until she directed my attention to the back door, the one that opens onto the patio. The glass was gone.

“Cleanest I’ve ever seen it,” I quipped.

“It’s serious, Bruce. We were robbed last night.”

“Was anyone here?”

“No. I came in this morning to open up and found the glass splattered all over the floor, the cash register missing and…”

“Well,” I interrupted in my pedantic way, “it wasn’t a robbery at all then — it was a burglary.”

“Whatever,” she conceded. “But they knew right where to go, the drop box in the back.”

“A Saturday night… must’ve been pretty good haul, eh?”

“Yes, but also breakfast and lunch.”

“So what are we talking, $800?”

"More than that, but hush.”

Just then the new busboy came in from the patio with a tray of plates. The guys at the bar had perked up their ears. One was a pilot, the other an out-of-county sheriff’s deputy. They paid up and left, without hearing the rest of the story.

I stayed on for a beer, and in walked my Boonville friends, Robert and Suzanne. Suzanne in a cast, caused me to make a tasteless joke, the kind I’m famous for: “So, you broke your foot kicking in the glass door last night?”

Nobody laughed.

After another beer, first the waitress, then the busboy, left. The rush was over. A gal who does the evening shift came on duty. Her mother works as a medico at the jail and she [the mom] had been alarmed to find this certain kid working at the place her daughter was working. Mom, of course, cannot make any accusations, but she has a right to warn her daughter that the guy has a serious bi-polar disorder, and when he goes off his meds he can turn rather nasty.

A video shows three men huddled at a table on the patio with their backs to the surveillance cameras for three hours before the pre-dawn break in. I was asked not to report this as it would alert the culprits. However, Eddie had already heard the first waitress’s comments to me, and as soon as I went to the men’s room, he threw my drink out. I came back and ordered another which he filled rather haphazardly and sloshed it on the bar. He started dropping things on the floor, made a communication on his iPhone and said he had to go. He ordered some french-fries and put a full bottle of ketchup on them, then left.

When he was gone, the cooks and waitresses – who I know well – all came out and filled me in. At this point, I cannot say any more as it would hamper the investigation.

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Robert "Bob" Bruce Whitney, passed away on July 15, 2015 after a brave, brief battle with liver cancer. In his 73 years, Bob celebrated life every day through his commitment to family and his tireless work for the environment.

Bob started his lifelong work on behalf of the environment in Santa Barbara, including being a founding member of the Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center in 1977.

In 1983, Bob and family moved to Willits where Bob taught economics and the first computer programming classes offered at Willits High School, all the while becoming involved in the local environmental community. After teaching, Bob turned his long-standing environmental activism volunteer work into a career as an environmental planner. Bob's 30 years of environmental work and volunteer efforts in Northern California, spans from the ocean to mountains and thousands of acres in between. Some of the highlights of Bob's extensive work and dedication to the environment are:

Working with the California Department of Forestry to implement sustainable forest practices on large areas of timberland in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

Driving force behind establishing the Golden State Land Conservancy, a land trust based in Willits that holds conservation easements on over 34,000 acres in California.

Served as a volunteer and in leadership positions on a wide variety of citizen groups promoting sound environmental practices.

He will be deeply missed by many. Bob is survived by his wife Joan, his sons Blair, Adam, Jason and Jeremy, daughter Alison, and five grandchildren.

Friends, neighbors, and those who knew Bob and were touched by his life and friendship, are welcome to celebrate a life well lived.

A celebration will be at Ridgewood Ranch 16200 N. Highway 101, Willits, CA on Saturday, September 19 starting at 1:00pm. Entrée & drinks will be provided. Please bring potluck salad, side dish, dessert or appetizers.

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RAMPED: NICK WILSON WRITING ON MCN REPORTS: “On Saturday a temporary wooden ramp and sidewalk was installed at Kasten and Main, replacing one parking space on Kasten. A plywood platform and ramp with handrails connect smoothly to the curb on Kasten St. under the flying staircase, with the ramp sloping back toward Main St. parallel to the curb. Signs and yellow caution tape guide pedestrians back to the east end of the crosswalk at Main St. The slope of the ramp is gentle, and it seems well designed and built. It's possibly as near to compliance with ADA as possible for a quick one-day solution. A meeting has been set for next Friday at 3 PM at St. Anthony's Hall to work out a permanent solution. When I watched and made a time-lapse video from across Main St. late this afternoon, it looked like most people were following the marked route. This is certainly an improvement over the situation from Monday through Friday, when people were crossing Kasten in mid-block, creating a dangerous situation. I posted to YouTube a 50 sec. time-lapse video that shows 25 min. of real time about 4 pm Saturday, 9/19/2015.

Here's the link YouTube:

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Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors:

I am writing to you regarding the May 19, 2015, Grand Jury report concerning Family and Children Services (FCS), “Family and Children's Services: Children at Risk,”, and the subsequent responses to this report by Stacey Cryer of Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and Carmel Angelo, County CEO. I write because these issues matter to me as a concerned citizen, and as a former Mendocino County FCS employee. I served for over 18 years in the FCS Fort Bragg office, until I retired in January 2014. For 15 of those years I was the supervisor (master's degree level) in this unit.

I was one of a number of present and former FCS staff members who testified before the Grand Jury during its investigation of FCS problems in 2014-2015. This investigation was triggered by citizens' complaints about FCS practices and function. I testified in the hope that Grand Jury feedback to HHSA and the community might bring positive changes and needed reform to FCS. I found the Grand Jury report to be a credible and accurate document. The report underscored the fundamental problems in FCS that many FCS staff have been concerned about for the past several years. The problems identified by the Grand Jury had all been openly and repeatedly discussed among FCS staff for a long time. It was all common knowledge for those who worked on the FCS front lines.

The County's responses to the Grand Jury report are generally non-responsive, cursory and lacking in substance. Many responses are mere assertions, some of them very brief. The County mostly provided no evidence for their assertions, and provided no information of further investigation of disputed facts by either HHSA or the CEO. Serious findings by the Grand Jury are at times just denied in the County responses, with little or no discussion. The County's responses stand in stark contrast to the lengthy Grand Jury report, which was the result of a months'-long, serious, and substantive investigation of FCS problems. Though FCS administrators asked FCS staff for their feedback regarding the Grand Jury report, there is no mention of such feedback in the HHSA or CEO report responses. The two responses are actually quite similar in their rhetoric; no independent, critical thinking appears to have been engaged in. The County's responses seem to imply that the Grand Jury's investigation was of little worth and required no real thought or attention — and no real changes — by the County.

The Grand Jury report highlights the lack of sufficient FCS staffing. Apparently no one disagrees with this central report finding; the County's responses have admitted this is a problem. In fact, this reality is not arguable; it was an easy call for the County to agree. However, several related issues that the County's responses disputed are also highlighted in the Grand Jury report. These issues concern the ongoing poor treatment of FCS staff, and the command and control style of FCS leadership, as well as the consequent problem of poor morale and the exodus of key FCS staff over the last several years. These problems are closely related to the openly acknowledged problem of insufficient social worker staff. These important issues are largely ignored and/or denied in both the HHSA and the CEO responses.

But, I am certain, many FCS staff would assert this belief: If FCS administration does not address and remediate these problems, staff hiring/retention issues will never be resolved. If social workers and other staff are not treated with respect, honesty and some degree of kindness by management, and if they are not allowed to participate in decisions that affect their work, FCS will never be able to retain sufficient staff. It won't matter how many new social workers and support staff are hired. If they are not treated well, if the agency is not a decent place to work, many will leave. It's just that simple. Social workers generally have an aversion to a command and control form of leadership. It's a leadership style ill-suited to a social service agency, and more suited to the military services, or perhaps law enforcement agencies. (I invite Supervisors to re-read the pertinent parts of pages 8-12 of the Grand Jury report. Though the report is an investigative summary --the confidential interviews in full would detail many more facts about these issues--these portions speak clearly to an FCS leadership often marked by a quality of mean-spiritedness.)

Here is one specific example of the FCS problems noted by the Grand Jury -- the recent exodus of experienced staff -- that the County's responses tersely deny. By contrast, here is factual information about this issue:

Following is a list of staff members who left FCS service over the last several years (from fall 2013). It is a partial list, as other staff members, including some with master's degrees, also left FCS service during this time. However, this list includes a number of key FCS personnel, most of whom had master's level degrees (several with licensed clinical status—MFT/LCSW) and substantial child welfare experience. Most of these staff members had served in FCS positions for a number of years; it is not overstating the matter to say that as a group they formed a core part of the agency. Five of these staff members were FCS unit supervisors, a central and critical position in the agency.... One... was a program specialist, the acknowledged FCS expert in an important agency function, Family Strengths services. All were committed, dedicated staff who had earned the respect and admiration of FCS front-line staff.

(Names of staff redacted from this section of letter.)

While individual staff left FCS for various reasons, I have personal knowledge (with one exception... who I did not work with) that all of these staff were frustrated and troubled by the FCS leadership failings made clear in the Grand Jury report. For most of them, I know that a primary reason for leaving FCS had to do with agency leadership. The combined loss of these staff members, and of others not named here, was a serious blow to FCS continuity of services. and the agency's depth of child welfare expertise, as the Grand Jury report details.

Here is another very specific example of the past and current exodus of FCS staff and of the consequences of these losses. This example is of special interest and worry to me, as it concerns the unit I worked in and cared about for many years: The Fort Bragg FCS unit, a small satellite office, currently operates in a crippled status. Since the fall of 2013, this unit has lost 5 social worker and supervisory staff. Most of these employees were master's level staff; two had licensed clinical status also. Their combined experience in child protection work was more than 85 years. This unit currently has no permanent, coast-based supervisor. Two more social workers (one a master's level social worker) are currently in the process of leaving the unit. With that staff loss, the unit will be able to offer only limited services to coast families and children. I know and respect all of these staff, as I had worked closely with all of them before I retired. I also know that, while their individual reasons for leaving FCS work varied, there was a common and important thread, expressed often by all of them. This thread involved the lack of support by management, the lack of open communication and joint problem-solving by management, and the over-riding command and control leadership style.

It saddens me to write about these issues and to know they have not yet been acknowledged and effectively dealt with. The real cost to FCS of these continuing problems is great. If they were effectively addressed, FCS would be a better place to work. Social workers and support staff would be much more likely to commit to years of service with Mendocino County FCS. The upside of this problem is that its solution is not related to funding. It just takes management staff willing to treat staff decently and with kindness. It would be a wonderful thing if FCS became a great agency to work for, with staff being treated with respect, and kindness, and clear and honest communication.

The Grand Jury report was an important public service, exposing serious problems in FCS to the light of day. The report offered County administrators a chance to correct the problems and re-make FCS into a higher functioning agency. I still have some hope that might occur, so I offer these thoughts to you. I hope the Board of Supervisors will take action and motivate FCS to effectively address its problems. Thank you for considering my feedback.


Chuck Dunbar, M.A.

Fort Bragg

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by Mordechai Zoltan

Hunters Point, home to the last peninsula based losers in the lottery of class warfare, is a world away from the rolling hills and rampant overconsumption of Napa and its environs. The folks who call this area home would never dream of spending upwards of $40 a bottle for wine, an amount that could go a long way to supporting their families. Might even have some left over for a cheap bottle of whiskey, or something to numb the pain of their existence. Their lives are a seemingly endless struggle to not fly farther behind, not to not fall through the cracks. The lucky ones retain meaningless jobs paying meaningless wages. The not so lucky are consumed by drug addiction, their days filled with the hell of chasing the next hit. Maybe not though. Maybe they have love, faith and family to elevate their spirit while enjoying their version of the American dream. I never asked.

If you drive down Evans Avenue a mile or so before the old Naval Base the road widens out and takes a long lazy left turn. On the right is a Baptist Church, on the left is a liquor store. It kind of looks as if it was carved out of a derelict garage. Seated in front of this ghetto version of a tasting room is a very large man, black as night, a thick gold chain around his massive neck, gold amulets dangling from each link. On his head is a black, straight-brimmed hat, pulled down low, hiding his eyes. Every day, all day, he presides over a perpetual dice game, players and onlookers jostling to get in closer. A hundred feet in either direction are shirtless men leaning up against rusted out vehicles drinking liquor from bottles in brown paper bags.

Further down Evans is the old Albion Brewery, a castle-like structure built in the late 1800s. On the hill above the Brewery are the old Navy barracks, converted into low income housing. Modest even by Soviet standards, they are in bad repair. Paint and concrete peeling off the wall, windows replaced with plywood, garbage sliding down the hill, toppling the overgrown weeds in its advanced towards the street.

Across the street from the barracks there is a row of three-story commercial buildings planted right on the edge of the Bay. Nondescript brick facades, large garage doors at street level. In the middle of the row was a building with a thick black wrought iron barred door. Behind it was a red door. This is where I worked.

As always I parked across the street below the barracks. Also as usual I texted Greg to let him know I had arrived. After waiting a few minutes I got out of the car, walked across the street and timed my arrival at the door to the sound of the locks being released inside. The door cracked open. I ducked in and my day began.

"How's it going, bro?" says Greg.

"Everything is Good, what needs to be done today?"

"Shit man, everything is blowing up, I told Shep I was the master at this shit. I'm telling you no one is better than me at growing weed. So you need to water the whole building today man," said Greg.

Greg was a 30-ish guy who looked like a pretty blonde version of Brad Pitt. In spite of his looks he was a complete bleeping asshole, one of those narcissistic, egomaniac control freaks who dominate the cannabis business. Always boasting, never working, and more than likely planning his exit with the crop, his eyes on the horizon for the next guy to scam.

Watering the whole building meant watering both levels, roughly four hours worth of work. Upstairs were a thousand plants in the flowering stage, downstairs were a thousand plants in the vegetative stage. The idea being rotating the veg upstairs to replace the harvested flower thereby having a continuous operation.

"No problem Greg. I got it handled," I said.

Finished with my work, I climbed the stairs to the apartment on the third floor. Greg was watching old Soul Train videos, dancing around slapping his air bass. "Man, these guys are good but none of them can play the bass like I can."

"Greg, so when am I going to get paid?" I said.

"Fuck man, people pay me to work for me dude. In Colorado we had them lined up with cash just to get in. You are in man, and after this we have the ranch up in Mendo where the big money is. So cut this bullshit about getting paid," Greg said.

"Right on man, that's all good and everything, but you told me I was getting paid," I said.

"Don't worry man, it's all good," he said.

Greg let me out through the front door, the sound of the multiple locks and alarms audible in the thick moist air of the evening. It was raining and the wind made it hard to light my cigarette. In the distance the sound of the approaching bus tires on the wet pavement sounded like cicadas singing in the trees up near my one-time temporary home of Yorkville. The bus was lit up bright, illuminating the people inside, looking lonely in spite of, or because of, their forced closeness. Otis Redding suddenly in my head, "This loneliness just won't leave me alone."

The reflection of the Navy barracks danced in the wet pavement like an angry scar sticking out from old tired flesh. The air brakes hissed and the bus pulled up to the stop, opening its doors to the last riders of the night. Rain streaked down the windows, distorting the downturned faces of those inside as if they were in anguish, their silent screams echoing into the storm drain alongside the detritus of another day in the ghetto. I put my cigarette out on my shoe, threw it into the flower pot doing double duty as a trashcan, walked across the street, and headed somewhere to sleep for the night.

The fire happened early the next morning. I drove down Evans, past the Baptist church, past the dice game, at the Albion Brewery, past the Navy barracks and parked across from the black wrought iron gate with the red door inside it. Greg was outside gesticulating madly while yelling into his cellphone. Smoke was wafting out of the red door behind the black wrought-iron gate. A casual observer would deduce that perhaps a hundred thousand watts of power exceeded the recommended capacity of the power grid at the old grow operation, and as a result things got hot and, well, basically blew up. "Fuck PG&E, those bastards, I told them to get out last week and fix this. Fucking idiots. All the lights are off man, this is not good," said Greg.

I looked at him, looked at the puddles of water and foam from the extinguisher and said, "So Greg, am I going to get paid or not?"

And there it is. I turned on my heel, walked across the street, got in my van, and headed for the 101 North. Leaving it all in the rearview mirror, Greg on the phone, the dice game, the shirtless men with liquor in brown paper bags — all of it appearing larger than real life in my rearview mirror. But behind me nonetheless. Off I went, trying to get above from the Down Below.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 20, 2015

Barlick, Brickey, Butler
Barlick, Brickey, Butler

MICHAEL BARLICK, Piercy/Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale, armed with firearm.

TRINITY BRICKEY, Willow Creek/Ukiah. Pot sale, transport, furnish.

SHERRIE BUTLER, Ukiah. Petty theft, probation revocation.

Caradine, DeVries, Long
Caradine, DeVries, Long

DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

KYLE DEVRIES, Boonville. DUI with priors.

LADONNA LONG, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

Lorquet, Mitchell, Norris
Lorquet, Mitchell, Norris

JAMES LORQUET, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

BRYCE MITCHELL, Laytonville. Domestic battery.

JUBAL NORRIS, Laytonville. DUI.

B. White, N. White

BRIAN WHITE, Potter Valley. Battery with serious injury, conspiracy.

NORMAN WHITE, Potter Valley. Battery with serious injury, conspiracy.

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by Amanda Marcotte

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis' attempt to turn Rowan County into a no-gay-marriage zone has failed, but conservative enthusiasm for pointless posturing about the supposed evils of homosexuality marches on. The latest target? Snack food.

Specifically, homophobic bigots are freaking out about Doritos this week, upon the news that the popular cheesy chip-maker is releasing a special rainbow-colored bag in partnership with the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit established by sex advice columnist Dan Savage to combat mental illness and suicide in LGBT youth. Conservative media is not interested in your talk of preventing youth suicide, it seems. That bag looks queer, dammit, and they will not have it.


Here are some of the more over-the-top responses.

Cheese dust will turn your kids gay

"Doritos are a product marketed to children, so they make the perfect gateway snack to introduce children to the joys of homosexuality," writes Ed Straker of the ironically named American Thinker website. "What business does PepsiCo have pushing homosexuality on our kids?"

Conservative Heads Explode Over Kentucky's Bigoted Clerk

While Straker classifies the different colored Doritos – "green are homosexual, the pink are lesbian" – he fails to tell readers how many chips you have to eat in order to turn gay.

As a reminder, the It Gets Better Project is about saving young people from depression and suicide by giving them resources to survive living in homophobic families and communities.

Not getting the joke

John Nolte of Breitbart News wrote an explosive column yesterday, calling Savage an "infamous anti-Christian bully and bigot" because of Savage's reputation for irreverent mockery of homophobic politicians.

"Savage has demanded Republican presidential contender Ben Carson... 'suck his dick,'" Nolte fumed. "He's demanded the same from Republicans Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee. Savage went on a smear campaign against Rick Santorum to destroy Santorum's reputation in Google searches."

What Nolte fails to note is that Savage's remarks were in response to actual bigotry aimed at gay people. When politicians say sexual orientation is a choice, Savage invites them to suck his dick to prove it. The pranking of Santorum by associating his name with a byproduct of anal sex was Savage's response to Santorum comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality. Perhaps the new tagline for Breitbart News should be: "Able to dish it out, unable to take it."


Unable to muster an intelligent argument for why Doritos shouldn't fundraise to stop youth suicide, many conservative pundits just tried grossing you out instead. "It gets ickier: Doritos teams up with door-licking nutball Dan Savage," Michelle Malkin primly tweeted, referencing a comedy article that Savage wrote 15 years ago in which he joked about how he wished he could give anti-gay Gary Bauer the flu. (Needless to say, the common theme in anti-Savage diatribes is a complete lack of humor on the part of conservatives.)

"Here's something that you don't want to think about while snacking on your chips," Bethany Blankley of Charisma News writes. "Left out in nearly all discussions about homosexuality is the reality that sex often infects people with E. coli bacterial infections, spreads sexually transmitted diseases and can cause anal cavity bleeding and rupturing." (In reality, gay sex – which Blankley seems to believe is only anal sex – is not inherently any more dangerous than hetero sex.)

It seems homophobes have learned well from their compatriots who fight reproductive rights: If you can't win an argument with facts and logic, try turning their stomachs instead.


Conservatives have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #BoycottDoritos, so everyone can pretend for a day they're actually doing something before moving onto the next shiny outrage fodder. But for now, it's certainly a cavalcade of charming people. "What's next, rainbow Cheerios? Maybe the Doritos fag bags come with a toy dildo?" writes one thoughtful gentleman.

"I'm sick of the liberal left shoving godlessness and immorality down our throats," tweets another.

As a word of warning, you really shouldn't be shoving Doritos down your throat. Those things are sharp and can really tear up your esophagus. When eating Doritos, whether they come in the godless immorality flavor or are the just plain cheese variety, chew thoroughly, then swallow.

(Courtesy, Rolling Stone Magazine)

* * *


Connecticut used to be filled with old abandoned barns in fallow fields (since torn down for development), one afternoon me and my friend tunneled into one in our neighborhood looking for stuff we could use, all kinds of farming implements were inside, it was pretty dark, we found this interesting wooden box with German markings, took it outside and pried the crate open. It contained 4 potato masher hand grenades from WW1, in good shape. We contemplated what to do with them — should we try them out? — and decided to bring them to his father, a WW2 vet. He called the Resident State Trooper, who came over and picked them up. We found out later they were live grenades, and a search of the barn by police later on found more WW1 ordinance.

It was no big deal. The bomb squad didn’t show up, or SWAT, or TV crews. Life went on as usual.

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* * *

ON JULY 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon. In the months leading up to their expedition, the Apollo 11 astronauts trained in a remote moon-like desert in the western United States. The area is home to several Native American communities, and there is a story -- or a legend -- describing an encounter between the astronauts and one of the locals.

One day as they were training, the astronauts came across an old Native American. The man asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they were a part of a research expedition that would shortly travel to explore the moon. When the old man heard that, he fell silent for a few moments, and then asked the astronauts if they would do him a favor.

"What do you want?" they asked. "Well," said the old man, "the people of my tribe believe that holy spirits live on the moon. I was wondering if you could pass an important message to them from my people." "What's the message?" asked the astronauts. The man uttered something in his tribal language, and then asked the astronauts to repeat it again and again until they had memorized it correctly.

"What does it mean?" asked the astronauts.

"Oh, I cannot tell you. It's a secret that only our tribe and the moon spirits are allowed to know."

When they returned to their base, the astronauts searched and searched until they found someone who could speak the tribal language, and asked him to translate the secret message. When they repeated what they had memorized, the translator started to laugh uproariously. When he calmed down, the astronauts asked him what it meant. The man explained that the sentence they had memorized so carefully said, "Do not believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your lands."

— Yuval N. Harari, 2015; from "Sapiens, A Brief History of Mankind"

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"If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" was the schoolyard taunt, the implication being that rich people are smart. Otherwise, they would be poor like the rest of us, right?

The smartest thing Trump did was inherit $40 million from his father.

If the rise of Donald Trump has demonstrated anything, it shows that rich people can be just as dumb as everyone else. Even dumber in Trump's case, since as a rich political candidate he can hire people to do some of his thinking for him, like he does in his business deals when he hires lawyers and accountants.

Paying for a relatively thin briefing book on policy issues before he declared his candidacy would have made him a more plausible candidate, though his shallow understanding of everything would have soon been exposed in those pesky one-on-one TV interviews and during press conferences.

Trump demonstrated his stupidity years ago when he became a "birther," challenging the verifiable fact that Barack Obama was born in the United States. It must be a remarkably long-range conspiracy that made Obama president, since it involved planting phony birth notices (like below) in Honolulu newspapers in 1961!


Of course Obama is nominally a Christian, not a Muslim, though I've never seen anything that shows he has any real interest in religion in general, which I think is a good thing.

The so-called Moslem threat voiced by his supporter in the video above would have given a well-briefed Trump a chance to make some important points. No, of course there aren't any "training camps" for Islamic terrorists in the US, unless, as part of the conspiracy, the authorities are keeping that information from the public.

Except for some "lone-wolf" fanatics inside the country -- and they can do a lot of damage if they aren't stopped before they go on violent jihad against us infidels -- the most significant Moslem threat to us and our allies is from abroad, like the 9/11 attack itself, and that threat will be with us for a long, long time.

But individual jihadists inside the US can do a lot of damage, like the Fort Hood killer, the thwarted underwear bomber, the Boston Marathon bombers, etc.

Trump could have also said that people -- like Hillary Clinton and President Obama -- should, at the very least, stop saying that Islam is a "religion of peace." It isn't, since it has a lot of ugly language in its holy books and a history of violence and aggression going back to Mohammed himself.

— Rob Anderson (Courtesy, District5Diary)


  1. Betsy Cawn September 21, 2015

    Islam may not be, as Rob Anderson states, a “religion of peace,” but is it any worse than Christianity?

    • BB Grace September 21, 2015

      Is it?

    • LouisBedrock September 21, 2015

      It’s no worse than Christianity or Judaism.
      Both Judaism and Islam still perform genital mutilation on new, involuntary

      I wonder how many male Jewish children have contracted venereal diseases from some bearded pervert who calls himself a “mohel”,

  2. Jim Updegraff September 21, 2015

    There is no “religion of peace”either in the past or today. The fanatics of all religions at some some time will wage war.

  3. Harvey Reading September 21, 2015

    “green are homosexual, the pink are lesbian”

    Huh? Last I heard lesbians were homosexuals, too. Down with Christofascism.

  4. Lazarus September 21, 2015

    I sorted stuff for the refugees at Lake Mendo the last few days. Why don’t all these pseudo intellectual types try that instead of opining about religion and the sexual identity coloring book…?

    • BB Grace September 22, 2015

      Maybe “we” each take our turns and it’s your turn? I hope it doesn’t feel thankless. I would think there are plenty of volunteers and community service would step up? I wonder why State Parks on the coast don’t step up, because I went to Safeway the other day day, and the vibe was different in there were shoppers that appeared as if they must have post tramatic stress syndrom, and I thought, “they came from the Valley Fire”.

      It’s got to be surreal volunteering at ground zero and I hope you share what you find remarkable, because I care.

      I’d rather be a volunteer than on the other side of the table. Too bad it’s not an election year. It’s awesome what you are doing for a devistating tragedy. Thank you for taking your turn.

      • LouisBedrock September 22, 2015

        The only thing worse than “post tramatic stress syndrom” is a “devistating tragedy”.

    • LouisBedrock September 22, 2015

      Some of us do in fact perform volunteer work but are more reticent about throwing it in other people’s faces.

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