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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Oct 19, 2015

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In James Kunstler's article "Bang, You're Dead" (Oct. 14), he mentions that "the physical setting of American life composed of a failing suburban sprawl pattern for daily life — the perfect set-up for making community impossible — obliterates the secondary layer of socialization beyond the family."

This reminded me of the neighborhood where I grew up in the conservative affluent East Bay suburb of Orinda. Our house was on a cul-de-sac comprised of five widely spaced single family detached homes (the suburban ideal).

By the third grade I realized there were no boys in my larger neighborhood I liked enough to play with, so I had to entertain myself, i.e., basically play ball games by myself outside the house or on the cul-de-sac. Maybe the saddest lonely "play" activity I resorted to as a kid was when I was a high school freshman (too young to escape the neighborhood by car, no driver’s license yet) and I played frisbee golf by myself around my house and neighborhood. I'm almost totally averse to playing any sort of games, indoor or outdoor, as an adult because I consider them frivolous distractions from more important pursuits.

Escaping the neighborhood by bicycle was not an option because we were at the top of a steep hill and a ride downhill would have been dangerous and uphill a grueling ride. It was a car suburb (what else?) and there was only so much chaffeuring my mother was willing to do.

People in affluent suburbs usually leave their neighborhoods by car to find community. One almost never sees activity outside houses in an affluent neighborhood.

Anyway, my unhealthy habit of social isolation as an adult had its foundation in growing up in forced isolation in the "privileged" setting of Orinda.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Friend — 

I love a good birthday party because it’s an excuse to get the people you care about together.

 I’d be thrilled to see you at my party this year. 

There’s a few hours left to get on the guest list. All you have to do is enter, and you and a guest might be chosen to fly to NYC and dance with me to live performances from John Legend and Demi Lovato!



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Didn’t it say in Ecclesiastes that there’s nothing new under the sun? Ok, iPhones are new, after all, the only hand-held device for the author of Ecclesiastes was a quill.

But look at more recent literature. As they say, the road to hell is through unintended consequences. More than 150 years ago Trollope wrote a fictional account (The Warden) of a crusading do-gooder that did more harm than good, and of a fictional financier in The Way We Live Now that bears more than a passing resemblance to various modern day vampire squid.

The point is we keep seeing performances with variation in dialogue and setting, but the same basic story.

So what do we have now? Essentially this plot-line involves a predatory American elite that robs everything in sight, with no limit to their rapacity, aided by self-interested bureaucratic and academic encrustations. And where have we seen this before?

There’s always reasons. This time we have societal “progress”. You’re in favor of “progress” aren’t you? Sure you are. So prevailing politically correct ideology points the finger at men and particularly young men, their wants and aspirations derided as outdated and unacceptable.

And this is what progress entails. It means new ways of thinking and doing things, and this time, young men are expected to over-ride three million years of evolutionary wiring. Unable to do so, they’re sidelined to a life of degradation and porn, that is, if they can afford internet charges.

But this isn’t the main game. This is just a distraction. Making self-doubt the only acceptable mode of existence for young men buys time. Because the economic elite are very, very busy and the more young men are paralyzed by self-loathing the better. The oligarchs ought to be grateful to useful-idiot-social-activists clearing the way.

The oligarch-elite have their own self justification, a generally accepted ideology of profit maximization and market efficiency that dictates that every other consideration and consequence be damned. And they own and control academic institutions and media outlets to do the shilling.

In past periods it was Divine Right. Pick your place, pick your time and there will be a justification, but the result is always the same, more for the elite, less for everyone else.

This is the way it has to be and if you’re not on board with this, well, there’s intelligence agencies galore … there always have been secret police and snitches.

Can anyone see some un-intended consequences looming? Because those are part of the recurring plot-line too.

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Dear colleagues, friends and neighbors in Mendocino County,

In recent months a public conversation was begun by a group of local residents regarding the practice of treating tan oak in the forest. The treatment of tan oak occurs throughout Mendocino County to restore the redwood and Douglas fir trees across public and private land. Our company, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) has been treating tan oak in the forest since we acquired the forestlands in 1998.

Earlier this year this group of residents came before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to request the county consider imposing a voluntary moratorium on the treatment of tan oaks. The request and reasons for the moratorium were discussed vigorously and publicly. County supervisors voted against the moratorium idea and instead supported with specific funding a community driven effort to explore the issue in the form of a working group.

More recently a petition has been created for an initiative restricting the treatment of tan oak. The stated reason for the initiative is to reduce fire danger. As you will read in this series of letters, current tan oak treatment is crucial to restoring the extraordinary public and private forests in our county.

We are treating tan oak — it is working and it is safe.

Harvest practices over many decades predating the formation of Mendocino Redwood Company in 1998 left the forest with an imbalance of tree species. Tens of thousands of acres of once healthy redwood and Douglas fir trees were left untreated after harvest, allowing the landscape to become dominated by tan oak.

Beginning in 1998 when MRC was established we spent several years on a variety of methods to treat tan oaks (including an ill-fated and expensive effort to make tan oak flooring). After much effort we concluded the most effective way to bring back a healthy conifer forest in our lifetime was to treat tan oak selectively, carefully, in the woods, literally tree by tree.

Over 16 years we have surveyed for dominant tan oak stands on 65,000 acres, treating tan oak trees when necessary, carefully, by hand, one tree at a time.

We have probably treated more than a million tan oaks individually by hand tree by tree. Sounds like a lot, and it is. We have done this to promote a healthy growth of more than 14 million redwood and Douglas fir trees.

Our inventory of redwood and Douglas fir trees has increased over 1 billion board feet (after deducting for harvests) since we began operations. For more information on the activities on the forest please see this link to our website:

If left untreated tan oak will continue to overwhelm the forest to the detriment of restoring the redwood and Douglas fir forest in a timeframe that matters to those of us alive today.

We want all citizens to be heard.

To ensure public concerns around this issue are heard we joined and participate in the Mendocino County Fire Safety Working Group. This working group was established and funded by County Board of Supervisors to review and update countywide fire safety plans including the questions around treating tan oak. The process is now underway, the working group is open to anyone wishing to participate. We encourage every interested citizen, student, retiree, employee and public officials to participate in this process. Rather then signing a petition, the better way is participating in the open and transparent process recently established and funded by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.

The working group will improve forest health.

With broad community participation the working group can develop real and useful answers to fire safety questions rather than passing new rules, regulations and restrictions. There is a better way to grow a healthy forest than more regulations, laws and restrictions.

MRC is making a major and permanent commitment to this process on a variety of fronts:

All voices should be heard. That's why we join and participate in the Mendocino County Fire Safety Working Group. You should too. The County wants the working group to be successful in addressing questions of fire safety and has allocated $25,000 to the effort. MRC and others have offered staff time and resources as well.

MRC is regulated by seven state and federal agencies. Additionally, MRC subjects itself to third-party review and verification of forest practices under the Forest Stewardship Council guidelines and has done so consistently since 2000. MRC has internal policies to encourage fire safety. These include things we have done for over a decade such as: partnering with communities to place dedicated firewater tanks, improve egress for remote neighbors and contribute to the equipment purchases of local volunteer fire districts; working in Sacramento to encourage investment in Mendocino County infrastructure; donations of time, equipment and money to volunteer fire departments including a $5000 donation to the Albion Fire Department toward a new engine recently).

Calfire, a Lead Agency on forest regulations, independently reviews and verifies all timber harvest plans (THPs). THPs are considered a California Environmental Quality Act equivalent environmental review document. Among many things, Calfire reviews THPs for fire safety and insists on mitigations where appropriate.

MRC has strengthened practices to improve coordinating with local fire districts, fire experts, climate experts and Calfire on pilot projects for fuels hazard reduction and additional road access in the remote parts of the county.

Our commitment and our approach to treating tan oak have been careful, focused and successful.

Our next letter to the community will talk about the programs and projects MRC has undertaken to manage other important aspects of forest restoration.

We work to be transparent and publish enormous amounts of information including details of our forest practices on our website. We have a publicly stated long-standing policy of taking anyone anywhere on the property to see our practices firsthand. For some who may find visiting our forest challenging we will provide assistance. We also post video of activities and forest science work at: And you can follow our activities on facebook (Mendocino Redwood Forestry), and twitter (@MendoForestry)

We welcome the opportunity to discuss how we manage our lands in Mendocino County. If you have any questions about this letter or the company please call me personally at the number below. If you would like a tour of the property, please call 707-463-5113.


Bob Mertz, Chief Executive, Mendocino Redwoods Company


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Dear AVA,

I understand that the legislature has tied our hands with regard to not being able to regulate herbicides and pesticides.

However, instead of just being limited to declaring standing dead trees a public nuisance, I believe that counties could declare them a severe fire hazard given the drought and recent events in Lake County. There is also in my humble opinion the option of declaring the runoff polluting to drinking water or a health hazard. Finally, as you mentioned there is additionally the flooding which they should be held accountable for.

Perhaps we could enlist the help of the National Resource Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund bringing legal action against MRC and HRC on behalf of the citizens. They should have time as the Shell Gas Corp. gave up plans to exercise their search and destroy mission in the Arctic after they filed suit against them.

The danger from fire is greater than ever with all those standing dead trees, throughout the county our forests look like giant matchsticks ready to ignite a massive catastrophe.

I also believe that the planned ballot initiative needs stronger wording because "public nuisance" really doesn't convey the magnitude of the destruction that these actions will cause.

Thank you for your fine newspaper.

Best Wishes,

Hillary Beckington

Little River

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Microsoft Word - NormandeVall2_23Oct2015.docxFriday October 23rd, 6 pm

Fort Bragg Town Hall

Featuring Norman de Vall

Former 5th District Supervisor

Active with CASA, teens in trouble, student loan relief, single payer health care, and a variety of environmental concerns, Former Fifth District Supervisor Norman de Vall will speak on local and national issues at 6 p.m., Friday, October 23rd, Town Hall, corner of Laurel and Main in Fort Bragg.

Don’t miss it. Admission is free.

(John Fremont)

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Please read the SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING letter in the link below. I am speechless.

Tom in Santa Rosa

PS. I'm not speechless, I could rail and rant for an hour.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, October 18, 2015

Barnhouse, Crowell, Felix-Noriega, Gaona
Barnhouse, Crowell, Felix-Noriega, Gaona

FRANK BARNHOUSE, Gualala. Under influence.

ANTHONY CROWELL, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

FRANCISCO FELIX-NORIEGA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.


Konopasek, McOsker, Mihalovich, Morrison
Konopasek, McOsker, Mihalovich, Morrison

CLIFFORD KONOPASEK, Willits. Domestic assault, threatening a witness, unlawful sexual intercourse with minor not more than three years younger.

JEREMIAH MCOSKER, Ukiah. Possession of meth and paraphernalia, county parole violation.

RONALD MIHALOVICH, Ukiah. DUI, no license.

MATTHEW MORRISON, Laytonville. Drunk in public.

Richards, Sperry, Taylor
Richards, Sperry, Taylor

BONNIE RICHARDS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JONDIE SPERRY, Ukiah. Pot sale, transport, furnish, possession of controlled substance and hypo needles.

DANIEL TAYLOR, Ukiah. County parole violation.

Vaness, Walker, Zamora-Garcia
Vaness, Walker, Zamora-Garcia

ROBERT VANESS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.



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by Dan Bacher

California state documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity in October 2014 revealed that the oil industry had illegally dumped almost three billion gallons of wastewater from fracking (hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas) into central California aquifers. According to the Center for Biological Diversity report, the leaking occurred through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of contaminated waste.

The affected aquifers supply water for human consumption and for irrigation of crops for human consumption. The documents also revealed that water supply wells located close to wastewater injection sites were tested and found to have high levels of arsenic, thallium, and nitrates, all toxic chemicals linked to the oil industry’s wastewater.

According to the documents obtained by the Center, the California State Water Resources Control Board admitted that an additional nineteen wells could have been leaking wastewater into protected aquifers. One state agency official claimed that errors in the permitting process for wastewater injection could have occurred in multiple places. Adding to the magnitude of the danger, toxic chemicals such as benzene can migrate into water sources over a period of years, making accurate risk assessment difficult.

previous study by the Center for Biological Diversity showed that “54 percent of California’s 1,553 active and new wastewater injection wells are within 10 miles of a recently active fault (active in the past 200 years).” The findings “raise significant concerns,” this report’s authors wrote, “because the distance from a wastewater injection well to a fault is a key risk factor influencing whether a well may induce an earthquake.” Microseismic activity as a result of underground injection wells has been well documented in other states such as Oklahoma and Texas.

The Center for Biological Diversity report’s revelations about water contamination came amidst legislative deliberation to regulate fracking in California. As both Donny Shaw of MapLight and Dan Bacher for IndyBay reported in May 2014, over the past five years, the oil industry has lobbied powerfully in the California state legislature, spending over sixty-three million dollars in efforts to persuade state policymakers to permit the continuation and expansion of fracking. In May 2014, state senators rejected a fracking moratorium bill, SB 1132. The senators who voted against the moratorium received fourteen times more money in campaign contributions from the oil industry than those who voted for it. Shaw quoted MapLight figures: senators voting “No” on the moratorium bill received, on average, $24,981 from the oil and gas industry, while those who voted “Yes” received just $1,772 on average. “If the five active senators who abstained from voting—all Democrats—voted in favor, the moratorium would have passed.” The Democrats who abstained received, on average, 4.5 times as much money as those who voted “Yes.”

Although corporate media have covered debate over fracking regulations, the Center for Biological Diversity study regarding the dumping of wastewater into California’s aquifers went all but ignored at first. There appears to have been a lag of more than three months between the initial independent news coverage of the Center for Biological Diversity revelations and corporate coverage. In May 2015, the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page feature on Central Valley crops irrigated with treated oil field water; however, the Los Angeles Times report made no mention of the Center for Biological Diversity’s findings regarding fracking wastewater contamination.

In June 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its study of the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies. Although the EPA’s assessment identified “important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources,” it concluded that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” In response, Food & Water Watch issued a press release by Executive Director Wenonah Hunter, who wrote: “Sadly, the EPA study released today falls far short of the level of scrutiny and government oversight needed to protect the health and safety of the millions of American people affected by drilling and fracking for oil and gas.” Noting that the oil and gas industry refused to cooperate with the EPA on a single “prospective case study” of fracking’s impacts, Hunter concluded, “This reveals the undue influence the industry has over the government and shows that the industry is afraid to allow careful monitoring of their operations.”

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CHART OF THE DAY: The deficit under Obama


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NOW THAT FORT BRAGG is routinely mentioned as the site of a double Chinese gang hit attributed to the infamous Shrimp Boy Chow of San Francisco, lots of us are hoping the details will be revealed during Shrimp Boy's forthcoming trial. Why were the two Fort Bragg vics found with a big load of dope in their van? Cover for the real killer to make it look like the Chinese couple was up here to buy dope? Chinese gangsters move a lot of dope, but I doubt they drive up here to do deals. Although the male vic was a gang guy, his girlfriend was not known to have gang ties. She owned property all over The City. They were both well off. It's unlikely that they drove to Fort Bragg to buy marijuana, but who knows? But then they may not have been killed here. There was a man mentioned as a “person of interest,” a white tweeker from a nearby trailer park. No more has been heard of him, but then law enforcement, as always, has kept whatever they think they know to themselves. The entire case against Shrimp Boy is built on what other Asian gangsters, no doubt bargaining for deals for themselves, have said about Shrimp Boy's involvement. Prediction: Shrimp Boy walks.

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SO I'M WATCHING the Niner's game Sunday afternoon when, out of the corner of my good eye, a guy who looks like Bob Dylan is doing an advertisement for IBM. Can't be, I muttered. Can't be the troubadour of the left. Can't be the guy who sang us into the streets in 1962. Can't be Dylan. He must be a billionaire. He doesn't need the money. Why would he being doing ads for IBM of all entities? Refugee relief maybe, but not Swine Inc. I thought he was some kind of isolate, the creative guy in a cabin way off in the woods. The Times Done Changed, didn't they?

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MY SISTERS went to lunch in Fort Bragg yesterday, which would be Saturday, and the waitress, apologetic, told them the only drinking water available was the bottled type, and it would cost them a buck a bottle. My sisters, long accustomed to cooperation in times of deprivation, had no prob paying for the water. But FB, now a tourist town, is in serious water trouble, as is the Yorkville Market, which had to close Sunday for lack of.


  1. Rick Weddle October 19, 2015

    re: Orinda…

    In the late ’40’s, early ’50’s, Orinda was the ‘country’ refuge of the wealthiest of Bay Area residents. It had the highest per capita income of the region, and…highest rates of housewife alcoholism and over-the-counter drug abuse.

    You know…the American Dream

  2. Harvey Reading October 19, 2015


    Interesting that a resident of affluent San Anselmo can bad-mouth affluent Orinda … typical Marin mentality. Lotsa hills in Marin County, too, last time I checked, which was in the early 90s.

    • Bruce Anderson October 19, 2015

      I’m now a part-time resident of San Anselmo due to circumstances beyond my control. I can also say it’s got to be the most boring town in the world, but maybe that’s just me. Going to SA for a few days every week is like shoving oneself into one of those wall beds in Japanese airports. But just down the road, in Fairfax, there’s a lot of regular people, and a lot of nuts, and a lot of Section 8 housing. Marin is tricky, though. Yeah, there are a lot of rich people in the hills living in vulgar, over-large houses filled with a lot of tasteless crap inferior to garage sales, but there are even more people a pay check away from the streets, as there are everywhere in our doomed land. San Anselmo is home to lots of young people with children. The schools are supposed to be good. Maybe they are, but standards are so low who can tell? On closer inspection, the young people I’ve gotten to know are often living in modest houses they inherited from their parents or grandparents, and those parents and grandparents were from a time when all of Marin, except for Ross and Belvedere Island, was home to ordinary working people with ordinary incomes. In 1950 you could buy a house almost any place in Marin for twenty grand. Or less. San Anselmo, though, is hot and quiet, like a back ward somewhere. Walking its silent streets you get the feeling everyone is just behind their window curtains trying not to scream. Boonville is much more interesting, and Mendocino County is positively thrilling.

    • Keith Bramstedt October 19, 2015

      I live in San Anselmo but I’m not affluent. And my point of affluence promoting isolation goes for Marin too, although it’s not as extreme in some parts of Marin compared to Orinda. For example, it is possible in parts of Marin to rely on regular bus service, but I don’t think that’s the case in Orinda.

      • Harvey Reading October 20, 2015

        Define “not affluent”, please.

  3. Stephen Rosenthal October 19, 2015

    Re: Dylan.

    Not surprising – if I recall correctly, he was shilling for Chrysler during the last Super Bowl. The wealthy never have enough money. Of course, if he self-produced his last few albums, he may need some.

  4. Jim Updegraff October 19, 2015

    I was born in 1930 and lived through the depression in a family of very modest income as were our neighbors. Very little money but my mother insisted on us eating well and always had fresh fruit to eat. We grew up in the east part of Alameda and lived next to a large part where we played all types of sports. No mommies to take us to school and come out to out butt into our games. Out of our crowd we had kids that went out to play in the major baseball leagues, professional football and professional basketball. There were kids who came from well to do families who lived in the Gold Coast section of Alameda but they walked to school like the rest of us us and mo mommy to supervise them after school. What we have now is a bunch of pansies that can’t go anyplace without mommy holding their hands.

    • Keith Bramstedt October 19, 2015

      In Marin there’s no yellow school busses (I assume it’s this way most everywhere in the Bay Area) and so many school kids get rides to school from their parents, which makes traffic much worse. I do see some Golden Gate Transit busses in the afternoon carrying middle school kids.
      I don’t know what the reason is for not having school busses operated by the school districts, it obviously has to do with money. But it seems it would be healthier for the K-8 kids to ride to school on school busses rather than having their parents take them, and it would be much better for traffic.

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