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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Sep 28, 2015

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THE RUMOR that a federal investigation of the Ortner Management Group's privatized contract to provide mental health services to Mendocino County is currently underway is not true. Unfortunately. Ortner is paid lots and lots of public money to provide services that are mostly invisible. The Supes, however, on their very own, are taking a hard look at the deal, and we can expect radical changes for the better down the line. (Three of the Supes, that is: McCowen, Gjerde and Woodhouse are conscientiously going about their duty to guard the public interest. Brown remains obliviously aboard the SS Ortner while Hamburg has gotten special favors from Ortner and seems, much of the time, preoccupied with his service dog which he carries with him everywhere. Not to be too harsh about it, but if an elected official is unable to leave home without his living mental health totem, should he just stay home?)

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VALLEY FIRE NOW 97% CONTAINED. But almost a thousand firefighters remain on scene. CalFire: “Firefighters continue to improve existing lines and mopping up hot spots across the fire area. Rehabilitation is underway to restore the natural landscape that may have been altered during initial firefighting efforts. Damage Inspection Teams have completed primary and secondary assessments of the structures destroyed by the Valley Fire. A total of 1958 structures have been destroyed including; 1280 homes, 27 multi-family structures, 66 commercial properties, and 585 other minor structures such as outbuildings and sheds. 93 structures have been damaged including; 41 homes, 7 commercial properties, and 45 other minor structures. All traffic restrictions denying access into the community of Cobb and the surrounding areas will be have been lifted. Some utility services have not been restored. For information regarding utility services, please contact (888) 565-2787.”

VALLEY FIRE ECONOMIC IMPACT: DEEP & LINGERING

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/4525994-181/economic-impact-of-valley-fire

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SCANNER EXCITEMENT YESTERDAY, as reported by Mendocinosportsplus

Searchers Find Alleged Gunshot Victim

First Responders Now Near Mountain House Road

Law enforcement and medical first responders are still (9:06 am) trying to locate a 25-year-old man who reported he was shot multiple times at a marijuana grow. He did not know his location other than he was in a field near a dried up creek.

They have been trying to find him since the call came in @ 7:20 am this morning.

The victim reported CalStar 4 has been over his location and he has heard the sirens from responding units but has yet to be located by first responders.

He reported his assailant has left the area.

Air ambulance Reach 18 landed at Boonville airport to stage when they find the victim. The subject may be near the "Cooper Ranch."

A look at Google Earth shows there is a "McDonald Creek" paralleling Mountain House Road and the sheriff's office is checking the area. Units are also staged at mile marker 50.71 on CA-128.

Law enforcement is in contact with the victim via cell phone but there is a language barrier. They know his name and he is being asked if he is "in a grassy field or a vineyard" (8:55 am).

The victim said (8:56 am) there is no grass or vineyard, just trees..."

Update: 9:34 AM

First responders are getting closer. The victim says he can hear voices "above" him @ 9:36 am. He said he was "near a large wooden water tank." A first responder is walking down a drainage trying to find the location (off Cooper Road).

The victim said to tell the searcher (9:37 am) "go to your left." He can hear searcher clearly.

At 9:41 am air ambulance REACH 18 was leaving Boonville Airport to circle the scene where searchers are looking for the victim.

At 9:47 am, from scanner reports, it sounds like they've found the victim near a "pink-like concrete water tank." The location was off the first dirt road (to the right) off CA-128 near the Mendocino/Sonoma County line. There are conflicting reports, but one said victim does NOT have gunshot wounds but is bloodied.

Reach 18 is overhead at the scene @ 9:52 am.

At 10:08 am, a Mendocino County Sheriff said, "it looks like the victim is located a couple miles into Sonoma County."

They are trying to land the REACH 18 helicopter, but they have to "pack the guy up to bring him out of the draw up onto the ridge."

The sheriff department will be bringing ATV's to the scene for further investigation of the crime scene.

Bottom line, they have the victim, he's alive and he'll be air ambulanced out.

Reach 18 "was on the ground" near the scene @ 10:14 am.

10:22 am--Reach 18 is being asked to relocate to the "Round House" landing zone near CA-128 & Mountain House Road. The GPS coordinates given were: 38.52.50 & -123.06.43.

At 10:35 am, a first responder said over the scanner" "We have the victim in our vehicle and we're headed to REACH 1 at Mountain House Road and 128."

Patient is being airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital @ 10:57 am.

Sheriffs wanted to know if there was a "blood trail" they could follow at the crime scene. First responders didn't know, they were too busy getting patient out.

More information as this develops.

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SUNDAY NIGHT'S rare super-moon eclipse prompted such a fear of an apocalypse among the primitive sectors of our population that the Mormon church issued a statement cautioning the faithful not to get too het up about any coincidental calamity. Sunday's “blood moon” and the usual array of mass murders and natural disasters have caused a noticeable blip in emergency supply sales.

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Moon2A 'super blood moon’ appeared in the skies across the world last night for the first time in 30 years. The eerie light created from the lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth delighted astronomers while filling others with dread. Some religious groups and believers in astrology were convinced the spectacle is a sign that the End of Days was approaching.  When the moon is at perigee, its shortest distance from the Earth, it is 226,000 miles away. This makes it appear 14 per cent larger and and 30 per cent brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.  The last time this coincided with a lunar eclipse, when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, was in 1982 - and it will not be repeated until 2033.  During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a deep rusty red, due to sunlight being scattered by the Earth's atmosphere.  The shade will depend on the atmospheric conditions, and there may be a bluish tinge at the moon's edge. The supermoon eclipse lasted for 1 hour and 11 minutes, and was be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific. Through the ages, so-called ‘blood moons’ have been viewed as ill omens by superstitious people. Anyone who stayed up to see the red moon was in for a ‘quite an unusual sight’, according to Society for Popular Astronomy vice president Robin Scagell. His tips were to arm yourself with binoculars and look out for the deep redness in the sky when the moon was fully in shadow.  Unlike with a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is completely safe to observe through binoculars or a small telescope. Many believe this eclipse is significant as it marks the completion of an unusual line-up of four total eclipses at six-monthly intervals known as a ‘tetrad’. Texan pastor John Hagee says this has only happened three times in the last 500 years and claims it is likely to herald a ‘hugely significant’ world event. Since 1900 there have only been five 'supermoon' lunar eclipses – in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982.  Standard lunar eclipses are more common and it's thought that one can be seen from some point on the Earth every two-and-a-half years.

Moon1

(Courtesy, the Daily Mail on-line)

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FAMILY FROM LAKE COUNTY IN FORT BRAGG

LakeCoFamily

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PERV GETS AWAY WITH IT (GRAVITRON CASE)

Background: https://www.theava.com/archives/47847

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Mr. Carmona pled to a trespassing charge last week in exchange for having all weenie wagging charges dropped. This resulted from a hung jury and a humane decision by the DA not to make a 9-year-old girl testify to the sordid details again. I missed the plea, being employed across the hall in another case, and got the news from Carlos Benneman, who was brought in to interpret. I asked Carlos, "What did trespassing have to do with anything?" Carlos answered succinctly, "Who gives a fuck?" Then (and this comment was drenched in sarcasm), "Justice was served." The lawyers were perhaps salivating to get to get the kid back on the stand for more drawings of penises and teach her some more verbal obscenities, but DA Eyster had ordered Deputy DA Dan Madow to settle with Defense Atty. Justin Petersen. Where they got the trespassing charge is anyone's guess, but Carmona was advised to stay out of Mendocino County.

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SHERIFF DID THE RIGHT THING

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman sent his deputies this week, with a warrant, to the Pinoleville Rancheria to put a stop to the marijuana growing operation that few believe was any kind of legitimate medical operation. Our understanding is that United Cannabis, the Colorado corporation that was partnering to help with the tribe’s claimed medicinal operation pulled out some time ago.

Sheriff Allman had warned the tribe on day one of their operation that if they went beyond the limits of California law he would be forced to stop them. And so he did. Finding a honey oil lab as well as apparent evidence of a for-profit business operation made the Sheriff’s action inevitable.

The tribe of course says the growing, the processing, the honey oil lab, are all perfectly legal, presumably because they believe as tribal members they are immune to prosecution.

We hope that’s not the case. We do not believe that any tribe should have the ability to break the law at will.

And we are disappointed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office played hide and seek on this case when they should have been out front standing behind their avowed belief that tribes do not have blanket authority to grow marijuana, medical or otherwise.

We assume the tribe will either sue the county, which will mean a federal court case, or that the DA will figure out who should be prosecuted and that case will end up on appeal in federal court.

Where tribes are concerned, a federal judge can put the issue to rest one way or another.

Sheriff Allman, mandated by PL-280 to enforce all laws, including federal laws, on tribal lands, did the only thing he could do – his job.

— K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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BUDDIES AT THE FAIR

MarinBuddies

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TOM: THE DEFENSE

To the Editor:

Recently the Ukiah Daily Journal published an unsigned editorial that apparently represents the opinion of the paper, in which it denounced Supervisor Tom Woodhouse for talking with County workers about their jobs and conditions. The editorial referenced Supervisor Carrie Brown’s reprimand of Supervisor Woodhouse.

First let me say that my experience is that Supervisor Woodhouse is a kind, intelligent and honorable person. He has often been seen, and more often not been seen, as he quietly helped improve the grounds of local schools with his own labor or by supervising work crews of offenders in cleaning and repairing public facilities.

I have often seen him early in the morning before most people are out and about, weeding and cleaning public sidewalks, parking areas and parks. He never does it for recognition, in fact does not seem to want any recognition for his good deeds.

Tom has worked for many years behind the scenes to improve and fundraise for local schools and the library. Once again, never wanting public recognition for his contribution. He’s simply a very decent person who tries to understand what’s needed then contributes to make this community a better place for all of us. If everyone followed his example our children and communities would be much better off.

I found the Ukiah Daily Journal’s editorial offensive, insulting and in the worst possible taste. There were unsavory personal attacks made that had nothing to do with Supervisor Brown’s concerns. I must add here that Supervisor Brown’s critique should have been handled with more discretion. Certainly, personal attacks are not appropriate.

I believe Tom was honestly and with the best of intentions, trying to understand some of the well-known morale and performance problems that plague County workers, and have yet to be effectively addressed. That situation is legitimately his and the other Supervisors concern in their role of oversight to determine if the CEO is being effective in that area. As a taxpayer and citizen I too want to know the causes of on-going morale and performance issues with County workers so we can see improvement. If you don’t ask, you can’t know.

If Tom’s methods were inappropriate that should be pointed out privately. Hopefully, as a society we have moved past public shaming and character assassination as attempts to improve job performance. Any public employee with less than a year on the job would have been given more respect and discretion. Obviously, everyone here has more to learn to do a better job.

Self-improvement is a never ending process for each of us. Hopefully it can unfold in an atmosphere of due respect.

Bill Barksdale, Willits

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Warntjes
Warntjes

UKIAH, Wednesday, Sept. 23. -- Jury Trial Result: A partial mistrial was declared today after a jury returned from its deliberations and announced it was unable to reach agreement on one of the two counts it had been asked to decide. The jury did agree, however, that Brenda Rae Warntjes, 48, of Branscomb, was not guilty of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol greater than .08 (VC 23152(b)). The jury could not agree whether Warntjes was alternatively driving the automobile under the influence of alcohol (VC 23152(a)). While there was also a sentencing enhancement alleging that Warntjes has previously been convicted in 2008 of DUI, the prosecution was ordered not to disclose this information to the jury. Bifurcated by court order, this special allegation is to be decided at a court trial only if a guilty plea is returned by a new jury on the remaining count. This matter will undergo the standard post-trial review by senior prosecutors this 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 Brian Morimune. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol.

(District Attorney Press Release)

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Gularte
Gularte

UKIAH, Thursday, Sept. 24. -- Jury Trial Result: A Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations this afternoon with a guilty verdict against Michael Ray Gularte, age 26, of Willits. The jury found the defendant guilty of battery involving a domestic relationship, a misdemeanor. While the victim was less than cooperative in this matter, the battery occurred in a local department store where three employees witnessed the attack. These employees did their civic duty by coming to court and testifying as to what they each saw the defendant do to the victim in June. The defendant will be formally sentenced on October 5, 2015 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department A. The investigating law enforcement agency was the Ukiah Police Department. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Maria Gershenovich. The judge who presided over the three-day trial was the Hon. Ann Moorman.

(District Attorney Press Release)

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AMBULANCE VOLUNTEERS STEP UP

Letter to the editor:

Last weekend was the Mendocino County Fair; it was fairly busy in terms of local emergency response calls. There were roughly 3-4 emergencies each day of the event, almost all were related to the fair. This is compared to a more usual dispatch frequency of maybe 1-2 per week. I'd like to put out a big "Thank You" to all EMS involved, including Anderson Valley Fire Dept, CalFire, Medstar, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Dept., but especially the Anderson Valley Ambulance Volunteers.

The Anderson Valley Ambulance volunteers take on the responsibility of maintaining a local basic life support ambulance, 24/7 service, all of it unpaid. They commit to a significant amount of prerequisite and ongoing training, and cover regular shifts in 12 hour blocks. Most take a shift per week, but many commit to more than this to help fill staffing shortfalls. Running 2 calls per shift on Fair weekend was a definite test of their resolve to trade both festivity and sleep to assist their neighbors.

When you see an AV Ambulance volunteer, make sure to say 'Thank You!' for their excellent and ongoing service to the community.

Additionally, we always need more people ready and willing to step in and help maintain this essential local service in our valley. If this may be you or somebody you know, please consider this an invitation to contact us with your interest and/or questions.

Now is a great time to sign up; we will be facilitating an EMT class in Boonville beginning January 2016 and ending in May 2016. For more information on the EMT class please contact Martha Hyde at 895-3795. Our manager, Clay Eubank, may also be reached at 895-3123.

Sincerely,

Aaron Martin, Assistant Manager

Anderson Valley Ambulance

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

“Meanwhile, what remains on the other head of this two-headed economy besides driving to-and-from the Walmart? Pornography? The tattoo industry? Meth and narcotics? Prostitution? Professional sports on the flat screen? Kim and Kanye? Grand theft auto? Do you really think Donald Trump can fix this?”

A little vignette. My Daughter-in-law is cross trained in Insurance and Real Estate, having brokerages in both (Pre-2008). Last year, in a major Pacific NW city, she was working as a consultant for one of the largest Insurance Companies in the US. She was sent to failing brokerages (insurance offices) around the city…her job was to repair/rebuild the particular agency, and train their brokers how to maintain their numbers, increase efficiency, etc. She would spend, sometimes, several months at a site, increasing the sales, organizing the offices for efficiency, evaluating and replacing personnel, as needed. She was paid $22.00 per hour, as a consultant. As her reputation as a “fixer” became known within the company, she was approached by several successful brokers, and offered the job of office manager for their agencies….average offer was $12.00 per hour. A successful broker in this company can easily make low-to-mid 6 figures. Does this represent the value of labor today?

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BICYCLES: THE NUMBERS

BikeInjuries

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OUR THING

by Jeff Costello

"I'm starting to become more of a true gangster and racketeer, getting into business. Even if they're not legitimate businesses, they're real on a business level." — Sammy the Bull Gravano

"I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business." — Hyman Roth on the murder of his friend Moe Green in The Godfather

"Now who's being naive, Kay?" — Michael Corleone to his wife when she said "... But senators and presidents don't kill people."

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Bronxville, Westchester County, New York, is a stone's throw from the core of the Big Apple. It is the place of my birth. In those times, most everyone in the boroughs of New York city - except for the black and Puerto Rican populations of Harlem - was Irish, Jewish or Italian*. As a kid I spent a lot of time with my (Irish) uncle and his (Jewish) wife in Manhattan. Times Square was better than any amusement park or carnival as entertainment for a kid. I haven't been there since 1973, before Bloomberg "cleaned it up" - which is a shame as far as I'm concerned.

On nearly every street corner in Times Square were vendors selling pizza by the slice, or Italian sausage with peppers, hot off the grill. There is still nothing like a greasy slice of NY pizza from a pushcart. For all I know, Bloomberg might have cleaned that up, too. At home, everyone ate spaghetti, usually with meatballs. And there is still nothing quite like an Italian family dinner with the soup, salad, pasta main dish and crusty bread. Am I prejudiced here? Okay, sure, but I know what's good.

After I'd engineered my escape from the tedium, conformity and cosmic smallness of the place I'd been since age 9, by means of putting a musical group together with a few other malcontents with some talent - we worked hard to become good at what we did, it was no hippie or "garage" band - the group was "on the road" for four years or so with steady work in nightclubs, bars, college shows and such around New England and upstate New York. My first contact with, let us say, an urban Italian business community, was in Salisbury Beach Massachusetts, 1966. We were booked into the not-too-originally named Peppermint Lounge...although come to think of it, the original Peppermint Lounge in NYC may have been run by the same family. Salisbury was a low-grade sort of summer play area with a couple of carnival rides and a lot of bars with live bands.

The Peppermint lounge was packed every night and how much our group had to do with that I may never know, but the owner liked what he saw. At the end of the summer season we were hired to play another of his clubs, The Blue Moon Peppermint Lounge in Lowell. The Blue Moon was a bigger operation than the beach club, with a big stage and traveling bands from all over the east coast. We would be the house band and alternate sets with those groups. It was there that I met and befriended the owner, Mac. But Mac was not his real name.

Our agent had turned the task of collecting the weekly pay over to me. On Sunday nights I would go to Mac's office where he wrote the check, cashed it himself and handed the money to me. The signature on the check was Mario Lucchese. He was pretty easy going compared to other club owners I'd known. Once I asked if he wanted a receipt. He replied, "Have I ever asked for a receipt before?" I liked this guy. He had a brother, Nello, who "managed" the place, or should I say patrolled it. Mac had given me access to the kitchen, where I was free to make myself sandwiches. Nello would come through on his rounds and give me a curt "hello," but that was it from him.

Now, were these guys part of one of the notorious "five families" of the northeast? I may never know, but I do know that Mac was the most honest, straightforward, dare I say human, businessman I'd ever dealt with. One easily got the idea that he expected you to be straight with him, because he was straight with you. As an example of what can happen when even a musician can be dealt with harshly if necessary by a club operator, there was a singer in Boston called Roger Pace, who developed a bad heroin habit. If he was too fucked up to go on stage, the story went that his face would be bashed into a barrel of ice cubes until he was ready to play. That's what one hears about some "connected" club owners. My experience was very different.

A few years later, in California, I was introduced to the Sausalito waterfront by a woman I'd met in Maine, who told me about her brother, a musician who had a houseboat there. We met at the boat and she had her husband along. The husband was a professional "hit man" with a very Italian name. My reaction to this guy was as with Mac back at the Blue Moon. You couldn't meet an easier-going soft-spoken guy. It ain't like in the movies.

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*My name has often been mistaken for Italian, because it ends with a vowel. And also because two famous characters of the time and place, comedian Lou Cristillo and gangster Frank Castigli, changed their names to Costello. Ironically, back then it was still known to be Irish although their fame turned it into a presumed Italian name. (Which tells you something about the power of mass media). This remained so until a singer from Ireland named Declan McManus decided to call himself Elvis and use his mother's maiden name: Costello. But maybe it's more confusing than ever now.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 27, 2015

Ambrosio-Ramirez, Campbell, Flores-Morales
Ambrosio-Ramirez, Campbell, Flores-Morales

PEDRO AMBROSIO-RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

WAYNE CAMPBELL, Redwood Valley. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

ERNESTO FLORES-MORALES, Ukiah. DUI.

Hewitt, Johnston, Lincoln
Hewitt, Johnston, Lincoln

CLARK HEWITT II, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

ROBERT JOHNSTON, Fort Bragg. Burglary, vandalism.

LUCY LINCOLN, Covelo. Harboring wanted felon suspect, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Ramirez-Martinez, Reynoso, Sandiego
Ramirez-Martinez, Reynoso, Sandiego

JAIME RAMIREZ-MARTINEZ, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license.

NOE REYNOSO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

MANUEL RODRIGUEZ, Covelo. Failure to appear.

Sandiego, Scott, Taylor
Sandiego, Scott, Taylor

DAVID SANDIEGO JR., Redwood Valley. Possession of meth for sale, possession of controlled substance, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

WILLIAM SCOTT III, Laytonville. Failure to appear.

PATRICK TAYLOR, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

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JIM TARBELL at the College of the Redwoods — At the Grass Roots/Celebrate the Commons class of Mendocino College Fort Bragg Campus, last Thursday. Are we lucky, or what?

Tarbell1

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IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!

Bundle of marijuana worth $10,000 falls from the sky and crushes dog house

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/27/10000-dollars-marijuana-falls-from-sky-arizona-dog-house?CMP=share_btn_link

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"Look at Me’s real theme is pursued, though not exclusively, through the character of a disgraced academic, Moose. Following in the American line of solitary prophets – both real, like the Unabomber, and those invented by DeLillo – Moose ponders ‘appearances disjoined from anything real, afloat upon nothing, in the service of nothing, cut off from every source of blood and life.’ Languishing in his post-industrial Midwestern town, he mourns the world of ‘things’, of actual ‘objects existing in time and space,’ which ‘had lost their allure generations ago, shunted off to countries where people would make them for less’: they had been replaced by information, which was ‘the inversion of a thing; without shape or location or component parts’."

(“Modernity’s Undoing” by Pankaj Mishra)

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THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THINGS

Greetings,

The attached article I just finished translating about Spanish bars may not hold a lot of interest for the readers of the AVA or for you. But there is a paragraph in the article -- the fourth -- that moved me deeply.

The writer Cristina Fernández Cubas has a lovely book of memories entitled Things That No Longer Exist. How appropriate a phrase: it’s true that to age is among other things, to witness the progressive disappearance of the world. Streets, fountains, movie theaters, bars, gardens begin to vanish -- even entire villages, swallowed by a swamp or an earthquake. And people are lost, which is the worst of all. Reality starts to blur and transform itself. You can begin to make the new places your places, and even enjoy them intensely. But the lost places begin to accumulate in your memory like old furniture: A complete parallel geography, covered with the fine dust of memory.

I biked up to the center of an upscale neighboring city called Westfield the other day. There’s a small street called Quimby Street on which there used to be two very good shoe stores: an outlet for Mephisto, where I bought my sandals, and a place called Scott’s shoes, which was where I went to get my work shoes — sturdy Italian made shoes that were comfortable even if you wore them for fifteen straight hours, and which lasted ten years.

Both stores are gone. In the buildings they once occupied are now a Subway franchise, another Asian fusion restaurant — only about the eighth in Westfield, and a sneaker place — one of a chain. Damn.

http://www.nj.com/suburbannews/index.ssf/2015/01/scotts_shoes_in_westfield_clos.html

Rosa Montero was a prodigy. She was writing for El País when she was a snot-nosed twenty-one year old. She’s calmed down now, but in her youth, she was outspoken and impetuous and never worried about making enemies. My friend José who works as an editor for the University of Salamanca used to live near her mother and has met Rosa on several occasions. But I digress. Am rapidly developing BB Grace syndrome.

Be well.

Louis Bedrock

Roselle, New Jersey

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A Passionate Tribute to Bars

Rosa Montero El País Semanal of August 31 2015

Two weeks ago, overnight, they closed down the Café Comercial of Madrid without warning, one of the most emblematic locations of the city. Opened in 1887, it has been a meeting place and a refuge for several generations of Spaniards. How is it possible for them to close such a jewel? Why is it not protected and supported by the community? By the city? I was a loyal customer of the Comercial for a long time, since the last years of the Franco regime.

In those tumultuous days prior to the Transition, the café became fashionable among young people who were relatively long-haired and hippie-types; as a result, in that bar, a collection of quite old people clustered around marble topped tables like gargoyles, and people in their twenties with long hair and tangled beards, in bell-bottomed pants and flowery skirts, would come together without any problems, served with the same imperturbable professionalism by a legion of formidable waiters.

This extreme and peaceful hodgepodge was one of the trademarks of the Comercial: it was always a place of coexistence and exchange. A couple of months ago I returned there and everything was exactly the same: the same tables, the same mild sunlight passing through the windows and stagnating on the floor. I am sure that there is still at least one photon of the light from 1887 stuck to the marble. Two months ago, the only change that I could detect in the place was that I had begun to “gargoylize”.

The writer Cristina Fernández Cubas has a lovely book of memories entitled Things That No Longer Exist. How appropriate a phrase: it’s true that to age is among other things, to witness the progressive disappearance of the world. Streets, fountains, movie theaters, bars, gardens begin to vanish -- even entire villages, swallowed by a swamp or an earthquake. And people are lost, which is the worst of all. Reality starts to blur and transform itself. You can begin to make the new places your places, and even enjoy them intensely. But the lost places begin to accumulate in your memory like old furniture: A complete parallel geography, covered with the fine dust of memory.

Thus the disappearance of the Comercial is an enormous loss that will be mourned by many people. And it’s because bars are the essence of Spanish culture. Our most notable trademark aren’t the sevillanas or the Flamenco dances; nor the processions of Holy Week nor the sun nor the siesta; absolutely not the bulls which are supported by a mere 35% of the population. No, ladies and gentlemen, our national identity is expressed essentially by our love of our bars. There are 350,000 inns, cafés, and bars in Spain, which translates to one for every 132 inhabitants.

That’s double the percentage in the United Kingdom. For a long time, we were the country with the most bars and cafés per capita in the European Union; then Cypress entered and we were displaced. Unfortunately, here as well as elsewhere the crisis has had its effect and in recent years 50,000 establishments have closed their doors; and sales have gone down 22%. Even so, Spaniards invest more than twice the amount in restorations than the United Kingdom: 15% of consumer spending compared to 7%. And the truth is I don’t believe that makes us spendthrifts or irresponsible...Or no more than half of humanity.

What this data truly indicates is the crucial importance of the bar in our lives. It is totally an “Institution” -- the center around which pivot our social lives. Almost two years ago, Coca Cola did a study of this topic in Spain and obtained some stunning results. For example, more than two thirds of Spaniards know the name of the waiter of their favorite bar. But there’s even more: around thirty percent would leave their house keys with these waiters as a sign of their confidence in them.

And bars and cafés are used for so many types of errands and assignments: Keys, packages, letters, and warnings are left and picked up. They are like a post office, a message center, a neighborhood supervisor’s office. It’s very difficult to explain to foreigners, especially Anglo-Saxon foreigners who are so Puritanical about alcohol, that the Spanish bar has nothing to do with those dens of perdition that they imagine; that, in contrast, the Spanish bar is a place where families go with their children, the roof under which neighbors meet, a modest type of secular community church (according to Coca Cola, 36% of Spaniards go to bars regularly -- meaning several times per week, while only 13% attend mass every Sunday). Given this enthusiastic, deep-rooted love of bars, how could we not mourn the loss of the Comercial?

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CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING was somewhat overshadowed by the Pope's visit to Washington. John and Sid at KMEC Radio puts it all in perspective with noted Chinese scholar, Henry Rosemont, Jr. KMEC broadcasts at 105.1 FM, in Ukiah California. Our studios are located in the offices of the Mendocino Environmental Center and the Cloud Forest Institute. We stream live to a worldwide audience at www.kmecradio.org Our shows are posted to Youtube with video and text. Additionally, our shows are archived at the station's website and available as podcasts. We may also post shows to the Public Radio Exchange and Radio4All for wide distribution. Please support KMEC Radio and the Mendocino Environmental Center by becoming a member at: http://kmecradio.org/donate/

— John Sakowicz

3 Comments

  1. Mike September 28, 2015

    Re: K.C. Meadows editorial.

    With the Obama Justice Dept. instructions to federal attorneys last December, essentially allowing Indians to grow on their turf if they follow eight guidelines, this case here in our county appears to be the one that might clarify the abundant questions one has after reading the news articles reporting on this Obama gift: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-marijuana-indians-20141211-story.html

    I’m probably even more confused than K.C. Meadows is on this, insofar as the legal issues and how they will be resolved.

    If we get precise and real here, we can’t say that this is an unfair and unequal raid because they’ve been raiding so many grows this season, those not following the rules. We can’t say that this is also some sort of fishy operation designed to protect long standing growers and their market share. Absolutely no sings of the Putin stye M.O. here, not even close. (The top Sheriff leadership and the DA are straight arrows, alas.) The latter point is often casually presented as an explanation, though. As a “suspicion”.

    Also, I haven’t been able to find any followup on 2014 legislation to outlaw concentrates. Honey Oil, hashish, etc. appear to still be legal for medical marijuana. That stuff you can buy in the dispensaries!! Can that be clarified somehow?

    If you read that LA Times article I linked above, it’s clear that many reservations have deep reservations about growing and selling pot. They see the impact of alcohol on their lives and communities and are weary. Of course, once they find out that pure sativa, or sativa dominant products, provide better mental energy than coffee, and more stable energy, and clarity, and calmness without sedation, they may come to realize that many variations of this plant may become a pleasant addition to their lives!!

    Just keep it out of the hands of the young. Very harmful for them until cannaboid s become developed in the brain.

    Obama is doing something good here. Expanding freedom and options is a good thing. And, this plant is not really a public health or public safety problem, unlike all the other things out there getting people high.

  2. james marmon September 28, 2015

    RE: Ortner Investigation

    Good news about the Federal investigation into Ortner, but it shouldn’t stop there. Redwood Quality Management Group (aka Redwood Children Services) really needs to be investigated as well. What’s going on with Ortner is mild compared to the bull going on with RQMG and RCS.

    Because of numerous federal funding sources available for children there is double and triple dipping taking place.

    “Medical Necessity” determination of RQMG clients in regards to Medi-Cal billing are going unquestioned by HHSA and any future audit exceptions will leave HHSA to pay the bill if RQMG billing practices prove to be less than acceptable.

    To add to things, RQMG also determines medical necessity for children in foster care which enables their sister company (RCS) to be paid increased rates from the feds and state for specialized and intensive care.

    I know that it is not politically correct to accuse this wonderful agency of wrong doing with all good they appear to be providing to our community, but it has to be said, “the Emperor has no clothes.” An investigation will show that they’re charging for too many services.

    RQMG/RCS has become a monopoly and needs to be looked at very closely. The only fair thing to do is for the County to take back mental health services in regards to determining medical necessity, not only at the administrative level, but at the assessment level as well. It just might save the County millions and millions of dollars down the road.

    I have no doubt in my mind that the RQMG and RCS connection will be determined to be a conflict of interest if investigated thoroughly.

    In a statement by Schraeder made in the AVA several months ago, RQMG believes that just because HHSA assigns an unqualified and under educated FCS social worker “as the middle man or woman” that there is no conflict of interest, I beg to differ. It is the “culture” of FCS for these social workers to “rubberstamp” all recommendations and requests made by either RQMG or RCS. A quick audit would prove my point, I guarantee you that they won’t find one instance where a social worker didn’t approve higher rates for a RCS placement after receiving a RQMG’s assessment and recommendation.

    Again, the nexus of the conflict of interest is the FCS social workers practice of rubberstamping. In the real world, the social worker assigned to case is supposed to be the gatekeeper. Unfortunately in Mendocino County there isn’t one social worker, no matter how experienced or educated he or she may be, who wants Camille Schraeder calling Bryan Lowery complaining that they disapproved a specialized care rate.

    So far these practices have brought a lot of money into the County both in the public and private sectors. I just hope that they don’t end up having to pay a lot it back.

  3. james marmon September 28, 2015

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