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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Nov 6, 2015

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by Jane Futcher

The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District has served Grist Creek Aggregates in Longvale with a Notice of Violation for: operating without a permit; fugitive emissions, and a diesel airborne toxic control measure violation. The county fined the company $21,953.

The most serious violation, operating without a permit, refers to the fact that the Grist Creek/Mercer-Fraser was manufacturing rubberized asphalt with a Crumb Rubber Heating and Blending Unit that was not permitted.

Neighbors say the smell of burning rubber fills the Longvale Valley with noxious fumes every day the plant makes asphalt.

County Air Quality Management District Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Scaglione was out of the office this week and was not available for comment on the Grist Creek Aggregates violations.

Brian Hurt, owner of Grist Creek Aggregates, said he had no comment on the complaints against his company.

Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse, who in March urged the board to fast track the plant without requiring a full environmental review, said the county would shut the plant down if the owners cannot “make their product and keep the environment clean.”

Woodhouse believes the system is working.

“I think our air quality and Bob in particular have done a very good job of being responsive to the community and their complaints. And that’s what we had hoped,” Woodhouse said. “When you approve any project like this, it is subject to people obeying all the county and state laws that are applicable.”

One neighbor, Lyn Talkovsky, a member of Friends of Outlet Creek, a neighborhood group that opposed the asphalt plant from the start, said she isn’t sure the system is working. She is skeptical about the county’s commitment to residents, many of whose lives have been profoundly impacted by the plant’s fumes since Grist Creek/Mercer-Fraser begin making rubberized asphalt in September.

She thinks Caltrans should be held accountable for contracting with a company that is in violation of its permit.

“For six weeks Grist Creek has been producing rubberized asphalt, and now the project for Caltrans is done. Is it okay with Caltrans that the company that got the contract with them has been in violation the whole time? Is that the way Caltrans does business? I’m very, very skeptical.”

Talkovsky said Friends of Outlet Creek will continue to fight the plant in court but that the pressure placed on residents near the plant is enormous.

“The system isn’t working,” Talkovsky said. “The level of pollution that people are experiencing is unbelievable. There still hasn’t been a visit by the county air district or a supervisor to a neighbor’s home. We have pictures and videos of dense clouds of emissions in the valley, and it’s all been given to the county and the state and the supervisors. What does it take?”

Kirk Lumpkin is also active in the fight to stop the plant and questioned the value to the neighbors of the $21,953 fine.

“Where does the money go?” Lumpkin said. “It is not going to compensate the neighbors or test the water in the creek or further enhance the environment. It will go to the county which allowed this in the first place.”

Friends of Outlet Creek member and neighboring property owner to the asphalt plant, Glen Colwell, who recently retired from the Bay Area Air Quality District in San Francisco, noted that it is sometimes possible for industry attorneys to negotiate with regulators and request that penalties such as this one be decreased.

“In my opinion, if the county attorneys allow any negotiations to lower penalty costs for Grist Creek Aggregates, which may have willfully violated their permit conditions, it would be inexcusable and add additional insult to the injury already perpetrated on the asphalt plant’s neighbors.” Colwell said.

Another neighbor, Douglas Kerseg, said an attorney advised him that using equipment that is not permitted is fraud.

“We were disturbed that when they were given a notice of violation that they continued to operate,” Kerseg said, referring to the fact that the violation was issued Oct. 21 and the plant continued making rubberized asphalt until Oct. 31. “I tried to get Mr. Scaglione to say why, and he told me they were powerless to stop him. It’s amazing to me that they can have a process that uses equipment that’s not on their permit and they can continue to do so.”

Kerseg said neighbors will continue to fight on despite the high legal fees Friends of Outlet Creek is paying.

“One of our very significant problems is that we have raised and spent huge amounts of money which has gone to legal work, and we have significant liabilities to continue that effort. The toughest part of the equation is not just to spread the word but to be able to continue our legal battle to stop these people from operation.”

Friends of Outlet Creek will hold a community meeting on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m., to get to know neighbors and discuss what can be done to stop the negative impacts of the asphalt plant. Location is the large pullout off Highway 162 just east of Highway 101.

(Jane Futcher lives in Longvale and is a member of Friends of Outlet Creek.)

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by Kate Maxwell (TWN: The Willits News)

Those traveling north of Willits on Highway 101 in the last several weeks may have experienced delays or noticed piles of road materials due to Caltrans’ repaving activities in the north county. The special blend of Caltrans-specific rubberized asphalt produced for this project is being manufactured at the Grist Creek Aggregates plant on Highway 162 (Covelo Road), which began commercial operations at the end of September.

The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District (MCAQMD) has issued a Notice of Violation to plant owner Brian Hurt following inspections on October 20; the plant was required to either pay the $22,000 fine or to submit a response by October 30.

Neighbors of the plant been filing complaints with various local, state and federal agencies since asphalt production began at the end of September, raising ongoing concerns about emissions, particulates, noise, dust, noxious odors, round the clock activity, and health impacts resulting from plant operations. Speaking with The Willits News, many neighbors say such impacts have been severe enough to cause some to seek medical treatment or stay away from their properties. More than 50 complaints were received by the regional district alone within the first several weeks of plant operations.

Investigations Of Operating Conditions

To investigate these impacts, inspectors from the MCAQMD, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Fish & Wildlife, and the California EPA have been conducting inspections at the site. County planner John Speka said Mendocino County planning inspectors have been investigating noise complaints, and the sheriff’s department has been called to the site to investigate late night activity, as neighbors say plant operation hours were not posted.

To receive permitting approval for full commercial operations, the plantis required to conduct a third-party source test in coordination with MCAQMD within 30 days of completing installation to transition from an “authority to construct” permit, which has largely the same terms but allows more flexibility to allow operators to bring things up to code.

According to MCAQMD Director Bob Scaglione, the initial particulate and basic operations tests were conducted beginning on October 20, the last day for testing, but Aeros testing company will be returning to conduct more extensive tests for volatiles this week, and it could take up to 30 days to receive the final results.

Scaglione was unavailable to comment further at press time as he is out of the office until November 9, but has previously said that district inspectors are frequently on-site in response to ongoing complaints from the plant’s neighbors. Currently, the district does not have inspectors certified to conduct visual opacity emissions tests necessary to evaluate potential emissions.

Scalgione also said inspectors have conducted observations from neighboring parcels, although neighbors have expressed frustration in getting a timely visit or response to their complaints. On October 25, he said the district was looking for a flat surface on which to place a mobile testing station close to the plant, which would be able to test for particulates only by taking air samples. However, Scaglione said the agency needed to “meet a lot of parameters” to make sure the data was usable, and was having a hard time located a site that wouldn’t cause dust interference with the tests as cars drove by on a dusty road.

MCAQMD inspected the plant the same day as third-party testing began, October 20, and sent a Notice of Violation sent to plant owner Brian Hurt on October 21.

During a site visit on October 14, Hurt told TWN an independent CARB inspection had occurred the week prior, which he said largely concerned the dust and particulates in the highway from asphalt trucks entering and exiting the site. “The only problem we had was some ‘track-out,’” said Hurt, requiring additional hosing down of the highway, and also mentioned some “puffs” of smoke occurring during a “cold start,” which neighbors say they have observed almost daily. However, Hurt said he discussed with inspectors how to address such violations, elaborating, “the only secret to this operation is hard work.”

Notice Of Violation

The October 21 MCAQMD Notice of Violation references a list of different violations, including lack of compliance with local and state laws as well as permit conditions. The description of violations states “operating without a permit, fugitive emissions, and diesel ATCM requirements,” which carries a total of $21,953.70 in penalties. According to the letter sent to Hurt, additional penalties in the thousands of dollars can accrue daily if violations are not addressed immediately, and each day emissions violations occur can be considered a separate offence subject to continued penalities.

The list of violations includes an on-site “Crumb Rubber Heating and Blending Unit” batch plant operating at the site without a permit. This was used to produce rubberized asphalt base, and is in violation of local and permit conditions. During the site visit, Hurt told TWN this unit was a requirement of the rubberized asphalt necessary for Caltrans road contracts, and was being managed by a contracted company FNF from Arizona, and deferred any explanation of operations to FNF’s employee Javier Rios, who was operating the equipment. In response to the notice of violation, a permit for this unit was filed on October 23 by Grist Creek Aggregates, which MCAQMD staff said was currently under review. In addition, “the District Inspector observed fugitive emissions from several aggregate transfer points,” heavy-duty diesel trucks idling for greater than five minutes, and a lack of required speed signage. The Notice specifically charges penalties for two counts of “Class 3” violations, which are considered “intentional/inexcusable emission exceedances,” described as “excessive dust loading hoppers,” and “no posted speed limit 10 mph.” The speed limits are needed to reduce dust.

Other violations involve the way materials are handled, transported, managed or stored to prevent “unnecessary amounts of particulate matter to become airborne,” multiple violations of truck idling emissions, and requirements under “Fugitive Dust Mitigation Measures.” The letter lists three violations of regulations and five violations of the plant’s “permit to operate.”

Photographs included with the Notice of Violation include notations about a “smoky cold start, smoky silo,” and includes documentation of uncontrolled emissions from the rubber storage/heating tank and the rubber reaction tank and other aspects of the unpermitted batch blending unit on-site.

MCAQMD staff could not provide additional information due to Scaglione’s absence from the office, but explained that an administrative conference to discuss the violations would be the next step in the process, but since the Director was not available they were still “working on making that happen.” The letter states a response to the Notice of Violation was required by October 30. Hurt declined to comment on the notice of violation on advice of counsel.

Scaglione said last week he was reviewing a draft document of the independent investigation conducted by CARB officials, who also visited neighboring parcels in response to complaints. The final report of the state document is expected in the next week or two, but he would not comment further due to “ongoing litigation.”

Site Visits

TWN visited both neighboring parcels of the asphalt plant and the plant itself on October 14 in order to observe operations, a week before the district notices of violation were recorded. State regulations require that any particulate emissions or odors produced during industrial operations can not be visible or noticeable from outside the property where the activity is located, amongst a thicket of other regulations.

Speaking with neighbors on three different parcels, TWN observed what appeared to be opaque emissions spreading throughout the river canyon, beyond the property of the plant. Odors were also noticeable on that day, with several neighbors experiencing headaches or wearing particulate masks to reduce impacts. However, Hurt said a cherry-based additive had been added to reduce noxious smells. Neighbor Lyn Talkovsky said the impacts were significantly worse in the mornings and have created an “ongoing pattern of pollution” that surrounding parcels were documenting daily.

At the plant that afternoon, Hurt gave TWN a walk-through of plant operations. Hurt said as part of the permit requirements, all equipment was raised up and 30,000 of diesel fuel were removed from the 100 year flood plain of the streambed directly adjacent to the site. He said equipment previously running on diesel had been replaced by propane machinery as diesel fuels were only being used for loaders.

Hurt explained asphalt production begins with selecting the appropriate grade of gravel, taken from an extraction site at the Eel’s middle fork, to add to the specific required mix requested by Caltrans. The gravel is pulled out, transferred through a screening system to sort by size, and sent through a jaws crusher to reduce it to the appropriate size. Hurt said the majority of the process used recycled materials, referring primarily to the gravel and the crumb rubber used in the mix.

Next, Hurt said the hot batch plant from Arizona takes crumb rubber and oil mixed with a binder to create the right viscosity of asphalt for Caltrans’ needs. Rubber is added to the hopper then heated to high temperatures within a mixer, which is then transferred to a reaction vessel where binder is added to reach the right viscosity. Next, the mixture is pumped into a drum, where aggregate is added in exact ratios to perfect the mix.

Hurt said a Caltrans employee is located on-site to perform second round test samples all day, and a Caltrans supervisor also visits daily. “When working for the state, quality control is everything,” Hurt said. Caltrans prefers to receive hot asphalt batches within 30 minutes of production, which means production and testing must occur as efficiently as possible to maintain a steady flow of trucks heading to the paving site.

Hurt also explained modifications had been made to the feeders which add aggregate to the drums: they are now covered so particulates and dust - which used to go into bags - is now fed back into the mix. Hurt called this “a big improvement” towards reducing particulates from the plant.

The mixture is kept in a hopper which runs continuously to keep the material hot before it is mixed in the drum, then pumped up into a silo which delivers deposits of fresh asphalt into the loaders. Hurt estimated the plant is producing between 30 - 80 loads daily, and that operations continue as long as possible according to Caltrans’ needs and permit conditions, and managers explained they “don’t take lunch breaks” in order to maintain long production schedules. During the tour 120 tons of asphalt were being made an hour, which was explained as around an average amount, although it can vary widely.

During this visit, TWN observed several trucks idling for longer than five minutes, which then left the site uncovered, which Hurt and contacting managers did not provide clear answers as to whether trucks are required to be covered while carrying asphalt to paving sites. TWN also observed dust and particulates from operations and some emissions from other equipment.

Hurt explained the company had added additional noise protection and rearranged the site so the office and shop were placed between loud operating equipment and the canyon, that chutes were modified and loaders equipped with “clappers” instead of “beepers” to reduce noise. However, during the walk through some of the noises were so loud that discussions were difficult.

Water Quality And Rain Concerns

Hurt said the most expensive improvements performed were on the settlement ponds located on the river banks next to industrial operations, a major concern for neighbors and local environmentalist who fear contanimation of the watershed due to industrial impacts or flooding during heavy rain events, particularly those expected this winter.

Hurt said the ponds were raised out of the 100 year flood plain, and designed to be flooded. He explained the settlement ponds were unlined to allow water to percolate through into the aquifer, but that “it would have to rain ten feet” to reach levels beyond the designated flood plain.

Hurt said that although rainy weather can temporarily halt paving operations, the plant plans to complete the Caltrans paving contract in the next several weeks. He expected there to be less production over the winter, but he had several contracts lined up for local private roads after the Caltrans contract, although these will not require the same type of rubberized asphalt production.

Legal Developments

Friends of Outlet Creek (FOC) have filed several lawsuits requesting a comprehensive review of the plants’ environmental impacts and a review of the county’s permitting process for the plant, since the plant sits adjacent to the 100 year flood plain of sensitive Eel River watershed, an important habitat for sensitive salmonid species and other wildlife.

The Board of Supervisors, in a motion brought by third district Supervisor Tom Woodhouse, approved the plant’s permit in the spring based on permit conditions from the 2002 industrial operations taking place at that site, although long-time neighbors say no comparable industrial activity or asphalt production has taken place during the last several decades. Although the supervisors then rescinded the motion, the permit approval remained without conditions for environmental review.

Another lawsuit by Friends of Outlet Creek has been filed in Mendocino County Superior Court on September 30, alleging violations of state environmental review requirements under CEQA when the plant was permitted, since such a review did not occur prior to asphalt being produced on the site. The suit was filed after a early suit against the MCAQMD was dismissed in September.

Jason Flanders, attorney for FOC, said of the plant’s approval: “there are environment affects, and they should be considered all at once with a comprehensive environmental review… if it was rescinded, operations need to stop” until the environmental review is conducted.

Another suit against the county, heard before Judge Henderson on October 2, was filed for dismissal on October 23, but lawyers only received final notification last week as the county misplaced the filing paperwork. FOC is currently deciding what legal steps to move forward with to address ongoing concerns about plant operations and permitting.

(Courtesy, The Willits News)

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JUST IN FROM the Ukiah Police Department

After noticing a “surge in gang activity” that included a homicide in the Ukiah Valley in recent weeks, the Ukiah Police Department partnered with several other agencies to contact people identified as gang members a couple of days before Halloween, arresting several of them.

According to the UPD, officers from its department as well as the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, the Fort Bragg Police Department, Mendocino County Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Multi-Agency Gang Suppression Unit.

During the enforcement operation, which was conducted Oct. 29, officers arrested seven people on suspicion of violating their probations, possessing illegal weapons and possessing illegal substances.

The UPD reported that all of the arrests but one were made “at the locations targeted,” with the one exception being an arrest made near the Alex Rorabaugh Center of a suspect with an illegal weapon.

The arrested suspects were not identified by the UPD.

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THE EUROPEAN UNION has said it is expecting a small but positive economic impact from the 3 million migrants expected to arrive in the bloc nations by 2017. “There will be an impact on growth that is weak but positive for the EU as a whole, and that will increase GDP by 0.2 to 0.3 percent by 2017,” the economic commissioner said. According to the predictions, 1.5 million migrants will arrive in the EU next year, exceeding this year’s total.

I THINK MENDOCINO COUNTY should arrange for at least a thousand of these intrepid emigrants. Covelo could use a hundred new families, Willits 500, the rest to be distributed to all neighborhoods of Ukiah. Imagine, a thousand new families from ancient Mesopotamia, all of them fully committed to education and free enterprise! Mendo would be instantly transformed for the better!

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Former President George H.W. Bush takes some unexpected swipes at Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, key members of his son's administration, over their reaction to the September 11 attacks, in a new biography of the 41st president, Fox News reported on Wednesday. In Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush, author Jon Meacham quotes Bush as saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld were too hawkish and that their harsh stance damaged the reputation of the United States, the cable news network said. Speaking of Cheney, who was vice president under President George W. Bush, the senior Bush said: “I don't know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” according to the report.

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TINY HOUSE PROJECT seeks grant funding

Supervisor McCowen pledges his support

by Justine Frederiksen

A plan to provide housing for some homeless members of the community is one of the projects being considered to receive grant funding by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors today.

According to the agenda for the Nov. 3 meeting, a public hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. concerns $1.5 million of Community Development Block Grant funding the board can allocate, as well as a prioritized list of projects that could receive the money that includes a proposal to install Tiny Houses -- each less than 200 square feet -- on a parcel near the former Buddy Eller Center.

Second District Supervisor John McCowen, speaking with the group waiting for Rep. Jared Huffman (D - San Rafael) last week at the Alex Rorabaugh Center, said that Redwood Children’s Services (RCS) is requesting $604,000 to buy the parcel, and $400,000 to purchase the “Tiny House village,” for a total of about $1 million. The village would be buildings and structures needed besides the houses themselves. The houses RCS intends to fund through community donations.

McCowen said the program hopes to provide shelter for the “chronically homeless,” and he said he has already started reaching out to some of those people, many of whom he interacts with on a regular basis, and gotten positive reactions.

He said many of the details, such as how the residents would be approved and supervised, and whether they will be allowed to have animals or consume both drugs and alcohol, will be worked out later.

“The priority now is getting the land and the houses first,” he said. “I’ll vote for anything that helps the marginalized, and I hope my colleagues will be willing to vote for the Tiny House project as well.”

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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A PAIR OF ENTERPRISING women, both veterans of the deceased Hometown Shopper, and whose names I do not know, have begun, Cost-Cutter, “The area’s only locally owned and operated FREE advertiser paper” Yes, another front has opened in the fight against corporate, monopoly media…. Ta-dah! Distributed by mail in Lake and Mendocino counties, circulation is in the neighborhood of 27,000 copies each week. The first edition arrived in mailboxes this week. I haven’t seen it yet, but I understand there's not a whiff of editorial content, no classifieds; just display ads.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 5, 2015

Blackwell, Bruce, Dattilo
Blackwell, Bruce, Dattilo

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

JESSICA BRUCE, Willits. Parole violation, failure to pay.

ANTONIO DATTILO, San Diego/Calpella. Pot possession for sale, sale-transport-furnish, maintaining a place for selling, giving or using drugs, possession of switchblade, conspiracy.

Holt, Kalepo, Larvie, McMullen
Holt, Kalepo, Larvie, McMullen

SEAN HOLT, Ukiah. Conspiracy, probation revocation.

JORDAN KALEPO, Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.

GRARD LARVIE, Fort Bragg. Criminal threats.

RODNEY MCMULLEN, Willits. Petty theft.

Morales-Carrillo, Murguia, Perry, Schulze
Morales-Carrillo, Murguia, Perry, Schulze

CARLOS MORALES-CARRILLO, Ukiah. Criminal threats, resisting, probation revocation.

ARTHUR MURGUIA, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, battery.

BENJAMIN PERRY, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

LOGAN SCHULZE, Willits. Under influence, probation revocation.

Scott, White, Williams
Scott, White, Williams

SHANNON SCOTT, Willits. Failure to appear.

XAVIER WHITE, Walnut Creek/Ukiah. Possession of more than an ounce of pot, probation revocation.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, Healdsburg/Calpella. Conspiracy, probation revocation.

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NOTICE! Hendy Woods State Park is closed to day use and camping until February 29th 2016 due to construction. We are so sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. For any questions regarding the closure, please call Mendocino district office at (707) 937-5804. They will also be able to give a list of other parks to camp at in the area.

THERE WAS A HUGE water spill at Hendy, too, which may be the reason the park is closed.

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CDFW press release:

The California Fish and Game Commission today voted 3-0 in favor of an emergency rulemaking to prohibit recreational take and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line. Closure of the fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and no longer recommends the fisheries be closed.

The Commission also directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to maintain a list of closed ocean waters of the state and update that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It shall be the responsibility of any person prior to taking Dungeness crab to call the department’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit the department’s website at to obtain the current status of any ocean water.

The recreational Dungeness crab season was scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans is significant. CDPH issued a health advisory on Tuesday. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for delays and closures.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, epilepsy, and can in some cases be fatal.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. Biologists tested crab from eight ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and determined that domoic acid levels are exceeding the State’s action level.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures due to the El Niño event California is experiencing are likely the cause of the size and persistence of this bloom.

Commercial fisheries are also affected by domoic acid levels. CDFW has authority to delay or otherwise restrict commercial fisheries and is developing an emergency rulemaking under that authority. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to open Nov. 15.

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by Ellen Knickmeyer

Gov. Jerry Brown last year directed state oil and gas regulators to research, map and report back on any mining and oil drilling potential and history at the Brown family's private land in Northern California.

After a phone call from the governor and follow-up requests from his aides, senior staffers in the state's oil and gas regulatory agency over at least two days produced a 51-page historical report and geological assessment, plus a personalized satellite-imaged geological and oil and gas drilling map for the area around Brown's family ranchland near the town of Williams.

Ultimately, the regulators told the governor, prospects were "very low" for any commercial drilling or mining at the 2,700-acre property, which has been in Brown's family for more than a century.

Through the state's open records law, The Associated Press obtained the research that state regulators carried out for Brown, and the emails among senior oil and gas regulators scrambling to fulfill the governor's request.

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup declined to discuss the work for the governor, referring the AP to California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. That agency said the work was a legal and proper use of public resources — and no more than the general public would get. But oil industry experts said they could not recall a similar example of anyone getting that kind of state work done for private property.

Brown's request to state regulators amounted to the governor using state workers as "his own private oil prospecting team," said Hollin Kretzmann, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The work on the Brown family ranch "is especially outrageous given his administration's failure to prevent oil companies from polluting California's underground water," Kretzmann said, referring to the oil agency's acknowledgments to federal environmental regulators that it regularly fell short in enforcing federal law on oilfield pollution.

Brown's request to oil regulators points to the complex way that the governor, an internationally known advocate of renewable energy, approaches oil and gas issues in his own state. While spearheading ambitious programs to curb the use of climate-changing fossil fuels, Brown also has sought to spur oil production in California, the country's No. 3 oil-producing state.

Nine days after Brown appointed Steve Bohlen to lead the state oil and gas regulatory division, the governor called him with his research request.

Brown wanted to find out about the "geology, past oil and gas activity, potential for future oil and gas activity in the vicinity of his long-time family ranch," Bohlen related in an email to senior agency staffers that same day, June 11, 2014. Bohlen set noon the next day as a target for getting the research done for delivery to Brown.

After Brown's initial call, his aides called back within hours to ask regulators to look at what minerals might lie under the Brown ranch and also emailed to make sure the regulators were doing a map for the governor.

In an email to the AP, an attorney for the oil and gas agency, Graham St. Michel, said Brown had been compiling documents that "shed light on the fauna, flora, rock formations and geology of the area where his great-grandparents ... first homesteaded in the 1870s."

California law bars elected officials from using public employees or other public resources for personal purposes, with limited exceptions for things like occasional personal calls from work phones.

Regulators say the personal work they did for Brown was legal and appropriate.

"We field similar requests for public, historical information ... and responding is one of the division's public service responsibilities," said Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the oil and gas agency.

Drysdale said the satellite-imaged geological and drilling map prepared by the state for Brown's land took a "few hours."

Regulators and Brown's office declined to provide examples of any similar geological assessments and maps that oil gas regulators had done for anyone else who was curious about any oil and gas potential of their private land. The AP has filed a public records request for them.

Petroleum-industry professionals contacted by the AP said they never heard of regulators carrying out and compiling that kind of research, analysis and mapping for private individuals. The AP told the oil-industry professionals only that state regulators did the work for a state official.

Assessing a private property's oil and gas and mineral potential is not something that state regulators typically do, one oil industry executive said. "There's no evaluation. That's not a service they provide at all," said Rick Peace, president of a Bakersfield, California, company that helps manage oil exploration and production.

Roland Bain, a petroleum geologist based in Northern California, said he was struck by the report's "beautiful map." It was labeled "Oil and Gas Potential In West Colusa County," and the PDF said "JB_Ranch."

"Anyone calling in for help is not going to get that," Bain said. "The division of oil and gas has never been in a position to give you detailed geological mapping."

Historical oilfield records that made up much of the documents are available to the public, and ordinary people can get them by searching on the agency's website, or by visiting one of the agency's offices, which charge for photocopies, Peace noted.

But, as for regulators preparing and compiling assessments, reports and maps for someone's private purposes, "I've never heard of that," said Jean Pledger, a Bakersfield oil and gas attorney.

Typically, landowners find out their land has unrealized oil and gas potential only if oil industry agents scout out the property and approach the owners, said Sacramento-based oil and gas attorney James Day.

Alternatively, individuals can hire an independent petroleum geologist at $200 to $400 an hour, Day said.

Drysdale of the oil and gas division said state law allows state officials to access public records on the same basis as any member of the public.

Jessica Levinson, a governance expert and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that if state regulators had done that kind of work before for private landowners, they should be able to provide examples.

Of Brown's request, Levinson said, "if no other private individual is able to avail himself of this opportunity, and it's clearly just for personal gain instead of public benefit, then it's clearly problematic."

Brown told the Sacramento Bee in 2013 that he and his family owned a controlling interest in the acreage near Williams and that he planned to put a house on the property. The state research done on the ranch was first disclosed in a lawsuit by attorney Patricia Oliver on behalf of a group of Kern County farmers who allege the Brown administration worked with the oil industry to circumvent laws meant to protect groundwater from contamination.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has faulted state oil and gas regulators for failing to enforce federal laws meant to prevent oilfield pollution of the state's reserves of water for drinking and irrigation. Last month, Bohlen blamed his "dramatically understaffed" labor force for the state's failures to enforce those federal codes.

(Courtesy, the Associated Press)

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SHERIFF’S OFFICE TO BE HONORED at Annual Heroes in Healthcare Event

When Sheriff Tom Allman's brother took his own life 10 years ago, he made a promise to his 84-year old mother that he would do everything in his power to help the mentally ill. And every day he says, his mother calls to remind him of this promise, and he tells her every time, "It's not perfect, but we're making progress."

And for the great progress they've been making to improve the lives of the mentally ill in the county jail, Sheriff Allman and his team at the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) will be honored at the annual Heroes in Healthcare event sponsored by Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) and Brutocao Family Vineyards on November 12, 2015. Every year, heroes are selected by community members to recognize local professionals who have made a significant difference through their work, and through their caring connections within the local community.

Sheriff Allman says it's an honor for his team to be recognized. But he sees this more as an opportunity to bring awareness to this issue. "Mental health affects everyone, not just the person suffering from it. It affects their families and the community."

"Twenty percent of our inmates here have some sort of mental health issue. We have those who are truly criminals who have some degree of mental illness and then we have those who commit crimes because of their mental illness. Treating them the same as other inmates can have catastrophic consequences, such as violence, making their mental illness worse or self-harm. We cannot allow that," he explains.

To address the issue, the Sheriff's office has put in place an identification program designed to help mental health providers at the jail to assess those with potential mental health problems early on so that they get the right treatment. The medical staff has also implemented a socialization program for mentally-ill inmates where they are given the opportunity to talk about social events, do crafts and other activities. And Sheriff Allman says the program has proven to be beneficial. "It's a zero-cost program that has helped our inmates tremendously. It's amazing how giving them an outlet or some semblance of socialization helps them work through their mental illness."

Another strategy called the "Bridge Program" also helps those inmates that are ready to be released by getting them connected to resources to ensure that the transition from incarceration to mainstream society will be seamless. "Theresa, one of our mental health nurses, will sometimes stay late at night trying to make sure they have everything they need. The goal is to make sure that they don't end up coming back here."

Sheriff Allman explains, that his office is often viewed as a "mental health hospital" in Mendocino County. "Due to the fact that there is no hospital in the county. But we do, because these people commit crimes due to their mental illness. There's not enough help for them. The law says they have to be in jail because they committed a crime. But I think we, as a society have a much bigger responsibility than just putting them in jail," he explains.

Sheriff Allman says his staff works closely with the hospital to address the issue, since some of the mentally ill either end up in the Emergency Room or the county jail. "We cannot just treat them as a normal inmate or patient. We have to continue to find ways to address their issues and hopefully improve their quality of life so that the cycle stops somewhere."

As part of this effort, the Sheriff's office has applied for a grant to build a new facility with more appropriate cells for the mentally ill and will allow them to have a day program that will improve the way they deliver services to mentally ill inmates. Sheriff Allman explains the idea came from another hero that has played a big role in improving the welfare of the mentally ill in the community.

"Dr. Doug Rossoff's legacy is not his untimely death, several years ago. His legacy is his great service and bringing much-needed compassion and understanding towards the mentally ill. We didn't realize how much he was doing, until he was gone. We have not come close to filling the hole that he left. But we want to honor him by continuing his great work by improving the quality of life for the mentally ill."

Sheriff Allman says there is much work to be done. But ultimately his dream is for the mentally-ill in the community to have treatment that gives them the dignity they deserve. "Someday I hope that we can treat mental illness like a broken arm. To be able to identify it, fix it and hopefully they can return to a better quality of life."

Joining the Sheriff's office in the list of heroes this year are, Candice Gorbenko, RN; hospitalist and philanthropist Marvin Trotter, MD; cancer specialist Russell Hardy, MD and the Mendocino College Nursing Program.

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Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune

Something to make us all happy

Do anything, take us out of this gloom

Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy

You are the one who can make us all laugh

But doing that you break out in tears

Please don't be sad if it was a straight mind you had

We wouldn't have known you all these years

— Jim Capaldi

* * *

A FAMILIES & ADDICTION SUPPORT GROUP meets in Ukiah from noon to 1 pm on Thursdays at 810 N. State St. (at Gibson). Park in the lot or on Gibson and we’re in the 4th door down from State Street.

We are reading from the book, Families and Addiction: How to Stop the Chaos and Restore Family Balance by Patrick and Margaret Brown, and Robert Brown. This book is full of practical information and advice, and is transformative. Books are available at the meeting for purchase at $10 or on loan for the meeting.

We talk about focusing on what you can control (your environment and how to manage it in the face of addiction) and away from what you can’t directly control (the actions and outcomes for the addict). This helps families “regardless of whether the addicted person ever gets help, gets help and relapses, gets help and relapses many times, or gets help and stays clean and sober.”

For more information, call Sonya Nesch at 937-3339. The Willits Support Group meets every other Monday (next is November 16) at the Methodist Church from noon to 1 pm with Carol O at 972-6333. The Fort Bragg Support Group meets Monday’s from noon to 1 pm at the MCSL Gathering Place in the Company Store with Tanya Wyldflower at 964-1458.

* * *


by Bruce Anderson

Feliz Creek today, where it passes beneath highway 101 at Hopland is, in the summer, a parched expanse of dry streambed that is barely discernible as a watercourse. Only when it comes alive in the winter as it runs off from its headwaters in the west hills into the Russian River can you get some idea of how crucial it once was to the pre-mission Indians traveling from Clearlake to the Pacific. They walked west up the seam of the Feliz into the hills separating Hopland from the Anderson Valley, pausing at the Feliz headwaters at the western tip of what is now the McNab Ranch before they walked over the ridge and into the Anderson Valley near Yorkville, and from Yorkville along what is now Fish Rock Road over the last hurdle of the Coast Range mountains to the Pacific. Indians made that annual trek for thousands of years.

There's a spirit rock at the Feliz Creek headwaters, a huge boulder covered with laboriously encrypted symbols carved into it over the millennia, thousands of years of directions, fertility prayers, perhaps statements of gratitude for the easy abundance enjoyed at the Edenic meadow the spirit rock sits in.

The Feliz Creek spirit rock stopped functioning as a pre-historic message board about the time of the Gold Rush when the Indians were suddenly ripped out of their ancient homes and began to die in large numbers. But on still nights, a mere five miles from interminable 101, it's easy to imagine this paradise as the Indians found it — thick with Feliz Creek's annual migrations of steelhead and salmon, and an unending amplitude of nourishing flora and fauna. These days, far below the spirit rock, at Hopland, a tourist interlude on Highway 101, there's an enterprise called Real Goods that sells unresourceful rich people the expensive technology they think they need to live like the Indians of the Spirit Rock.

In two hundred years California has gone from Junipero Serra to California Cuisine and the computer. The ad-sals, as Mendocino County Indians called the white invaders, started slow but were soon everywhere, the first of them arriving in Mendocino County to stay in 1848.

The Indians predicted in their ghost dance prayers of the 1880's and 1920's that the ad sals would eventually be swallowed up in great cataclysms and they, the true people, the Indians, would resume living the old way they’d lived for millennia before the destructive invaders had descended on them.

The Spanish missions were established in California late in the 18th century. They were the work of father Serra who'd walked a martyred bare foot from Mexico to Monterey. A garrulous fanatic, Serra committed himself to "slipping the gentle yoke of Christ” over the heads of "neophytes," as unyoked Indians were called by the Franciscans, all of whom had been born in Spain. The Indians resisted the yoke, and many died. They killed the babies born of rapes by the Spanish soldiers who accompanied the missionaries up and down Spanish California from San Diego to San Rafael and Sonoma.

The saving of Indian souls and the training of their bodies in the organized labor that would make the missions prosper was the goal of the missionary effort. Dangling an irresistible amalgam of regular meals and eternal life, with Spanish soldiers standing by to make sure the Indians stayed with the padres when hospitality hour was over, the Franciscans had their first free labor. The religion the Indians already had, complete with one god and an after life whose rewards were based on one's earthly behavior, was very similar to the one imposed on them by the padres and their body guards.

Men separated from women, men and women separated from their tribes, many of the Indians of California south of what became the Sonoma-Mendocino county line were soon highly trained serfs whose skilled labor made the missions rich. The missionized Indians spoke Spanish, and had quickly become the fabled vaqueros essential to the success of the cattle-dependent land grant rancheros that had been established in the vastnesses surrounding the missions. Indian women were just as essential to the patrician comforts of the land grant estanzas as skilled household workers.

Heavy handed imperialists that they were, Spain, the monks, and the Mexicans who came after Spain and the monks, at least regarded Indians as human beings with souls worth saving; the Yankees saw the Indians as so many sub-human pests, and would wipe them out in the two murderous decades beginning with the Gold Rush.

The first Americanos to arrive in California in force, the gold seekers of '49, considered Indians as vermin, Mexicans as greasers, blacks as slaves, Chinese as yellow peril, and each other as snakes, but only Indians were killed recreationally. As a government report put the casual extermination of California's native peoples, “Never before in history has a people been swept away with such terrible swiftness.”

The missions absorbed Indians, Christianized them, Spanish soldiers and Mexican settlers married them, trained them as ranch hands and domestics, and preferred not to murder them so long as they remained docile and productive. Which they didn't. Early California history is replete with large-scale Indian uprisings and attacks on the missions and the Mexican rancheros and then the Yankee settlers.

Early on, European, Mexican and Yankee visitors would make the inevitable naked savage observation and then, in the same paragraph, marvel at how well the Indians seemed to do in all sorts of weather, how finely made and attractive Indian basketry was, how beautifully functional their cold weather clothing was. But the civilized men never took the next logical step in recognizing the genius of a people so perfectly at home in the abundance of the world as they found it.

One of the more thoughtful European observers did, however, came close to perceiving the root of Indian resistance. “You often hear of civilized men going native and never wanting to return to their former lives, but the desire among primitive people for civilization is non-existent.”

Once the Indians south of Mendocino County were thoroughly missionized — or dead — and the padres were confident that these “neophytes” believed that the mission life was superior to life back home with the tribe, the Christianized Indians would be sent out into the outback to bring in their wild brothers and sisters as replacement labor for the Indian labor lost to white man disease. By the time Mexico realized that the mission formula — armed proselytization — had created a string of highly prosperous outposts from San Diego to San Rafael and Sonoma, Mexico was inspired to declare independence and the missions privatized.

That was it for the missions, a mere fifty years. California would belong to independent Mexico until the Gold Rush, less than thirty years after the last mission was privatized.

History was picking up speed.

The first mission at San Diego was established in 1769.

Spain and the Franciscan monks ruled California from their headquarters in Mexico City until Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821.

Mexico loosely presided over California from 1821 until 1850.

In 1834, some eight million more acres of California had become the vast ranches of roughly 800 grantees, reaching as far north as Hopland. A typical land grant was ten square miles. These economically independent, self-sustaining ranchos were empires unto themselves. They grazed thousands of cattle, sheep and horses, and employed hundreds of missionized, Spanish-speaking Indians who made them as prosperous as fairy tale kingdoms.

The Gold Rush began in 1848, and California was a state by 1850 with uncharted Mendocino among its founding counties.

By the time of the Gold Rush, with Mexico exerting what government it could over a Yankee-dominated, restive California, Mexican land grants had been established everywhere in the state as far north as what is now the Mendocino County line. There were two undeveloped land grants in the Ukiah Valley, but only the one based in Hopland was a working ranchero. Two Mexican grandees were given land in the Ukiah valley but they never established ranches on it. Hopland was as close as the outside world got to Mendocino County before 1850, apart from slave taking expeditions into the Ukiah and Anderson valleys by Spaniards, then Mexicans, then Yankees.

The Gold Rush finished the Indians. The world rushed in so fast that the Indians of Northern California were engulfed, the Mendocino County Indians with them. By 1850, a 150-ton steamer, the Jack Hays, was hauling gold prospectors from San Francisco up the Sacramento River to Red Bluff, and Red Bluff was just over the Mayacama Mountains from what was inland Mendocino County in the new state of California.

While all the Spanish missionizing and Mexican land granting had gone on in the greater Bay Area, Mendocino County slept on, ancient ways unmodified by the missions, and only occasionally affected by missionized Indians. The only reason Spaniards and then Mexicans came north to Mendocino was to capture Indians for slave labor either on the missions or the rancheros spread around the great San Francisco Bay. But when Redick McKee made his long, post-Gold Rush slog from Sonoma to Humboldt Bay in 1851 — nine days from Laytonville to Fortuna alone — to convince the inland Indians to assemble themselves in area reservations, the Indians listened to “the little white father's” pitch then rejected it. As McKee himself put it, “They had seen a few white men from time to time, and the encounters had impressed them with a strong desire to see no more, except with the advantage of manifest superiority on their own part.”

McKee was the first Indian agent appointed for Northwestern California. (In an irony of local history it was a man named McKee who played a huge role in the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and 70s. The latter-day McKee sold thousands of acres of logged-over Mendocino and Humboldt county land to “hippies” on very easy terms.)

The first McKee’s instructions were to protect Indians by establishing reservations for them from Lake County north to the Klamath and Trinity rivers because Indians, wherever white miners and homesteaders had appeared, were being murdered in very large numbers. McKee's mission failed, and the Indians were finished as coherent tribal entities in another decade.

Little White Father McKee, incidentally, on his endless slog north from Clearlake, stopped by the cabin of the Ukiah Valley's first settler, George Parker Armstrong. A member of the McKee expedition, George Gibbs, would write, “We found a small building of logs, or rather poles filled in with clay, and thatched with tule. Its furniture was somewhat incongruous; for upon the earthen floor and beside a bull's hide partition, stood huge china jars, camphor trunks, and lacquered ware in abundance, the relics of some vessel that had been wrecked on the coast during last spring.”

George Parker Armstrong! Mendoland's first aesthete!

North of the Feliz land grant estate based at Sanel, as Hopland was then known, the Indians lived as they had for ages, mostly untouched but fully aware, and already wary, of the white civilization mestastazing south of them. The Northcoast Indians weren't “living naked in a state of innocence and ignorance,” as an early visitor to Northern California put it; they were merely unaware of the murderous imperialism about to overwhelm them, a people without guile, defenseless against people who were all guile.

No one among the early ad-sals admired the Indians as they found them — perfectly, ingeniously adapted to their world. The newcomers simply wanted what they saw as virgin land for their cattle, horses, hogs, and homesteads; the Indians were in the way. Literally. With their traditional food sources immediately disrupted by the settlers' cattle and horses, the Indians tried to live as best they could, begging or stealing from the homesteaders. But there was barely enough food for the settlers let alone whole colonies of disoriented brown people, and the homesteaders, struggling for survival themselves, murdered their desperate neighbors as simply one more obstacle to their success in the new land.

The Yorkville Indians tattooed their young women's chins because the Indians said the tattoos repulsed Catholic slave traders. Descendants of pioneer Anderson Valley families nevertheless wrote that the Spaniards were benign explorers who only wanted to extend European civilization into southern Mendocino, hence dewy-eyed statements like this one: “The visits of these Bueno Hombres with their religion, not greatly unlike that of the Indians, had a lasting impression on the Ma-cum-maks as they lived side by side with their kindly Spanish settlers.”

Also in the first quarter of the 19th century, parties of trappers, Russians with their Aleut-Pomo body guards, along with French, English and American trappers and mountain men, passed through even the remotest areas of inland Mendocino, some of them with their Indian wives and children in contingents of a hundred or so, the children suspended from horses and mules in the woven willow traveling cages that were the car seats of the time. And long before these ghostly parties passed through Sonoma and Mendocino counties, Sir Francis Drake had put in at Marin County where he marveled that a single Indian could easily carry burdens it took two or three of his sailors to lift, let alone move.

By 1840 the Russians had exhausted the sea otters that their outpost at Fort Ross depended on for cash flow and had sold Fort Ross and much of Bodega to John Sutter, the freebooting Swiss who, you might say, was California's first credit card entrepreneur, parlaying his mere signature with Honolulu merchants into an astounding 48,000-acre agricultural community just north of today's Sacramento that Sutter called New Helvetia. Sutter also bought and sold Indians, as did most of the early, pre-Gold Rush settlers the Mexican government gave land and citizenship to.

When the Russians sold out to Sutter and sailed out of Fort Ross just before the Gold Rush, Sutter dismantled the settlement, hauling everything he could use over to his Sacramento estates, first by sea down the coast to San Francisco Bay then up the Sacramento River to New Helvetia and Sutter's experimental farm and retreat, at his Hock Farm on the Feather River not far from the Sutter Buttes you see to the east off 1-5. General Vallejo gave Sutter permission to drive the Russians’ surplus cattle and sheep through Sonoma east on into the Sacramento Valley. Sutter outfitted his small army of the biggest Indians he could find in the uniforms of Czarist Russia. They must have been an impressive sight galloping through the Sacramento Valley; as a fighting force, Sutter's Indian army greatly intimidated the under-manned Mexican garrisons of the Bay Area.

Sutter had fully absorbed the successful formulas for prosperous colonization he'd seen at frontier forts east of the Rockies, which also ran on Indian serfs, and he'd seen the Russians’ thriving militarized outposts at Sitka, Bodega and Fort Ross, all of which were also dependent on Indian labor recompensed by free room and board, chits for purchases at the company store, and the coarse cotton Mexican manta shirts the Indians prized. Some Indians liked these arrangements, most didn't.

There were constant Indian rebellions throughout the mission and Mexican occupations, all of them foiled by the genius of General Vallejo who'd made the 6'7” Solano, chief of all the tribes of the North Bay, his enforcer. The giant, and giantly gifted, Solano learned to speak a perfect Spanish and an English superior to that of many English-speakers. Vallejo and Solano negotiated with dissident tribes when they could, ruthlessly suppressed those tribes with whom there was no negotiating.

By the time of the Gold Rush, enormous and enormously prosperous land grant cattle and sheep ranches checkered the state all the way north to Rancho Feliz at Hopland. The politically nimble General Vallejo served as regional administrator of the vast missionized land grant areas between San Francisco and Mendocino and Lake counties. He called his domain the Northern Frontier.

Indian women married into Spanish and Mexican families, and missionized Indian-Mexican men married unmissionized Indian women, and the new European-American ways of living thus radiated outward into southern Mendocino, mostly from the land grant Rancho Feliz in the present-day Hopland valley.

Rancho Feliz Indians had, since the founding of the vast rancho at Hopland, been related to Mendocino County Indian families in the coastal areas of the county. Ad-sal surnames like Azbill and Lincoln became prevalent in eastern Mendocino County while Indians descended from the Spanish, then the Mexican periods of California, were named Cruz and Feliz and Lopez and Oropeza and Ortiz; those families still thrive in contemporary Mendocino County.

Steve Knight was one of the founders of the California Indian Brotherhood whose first meeting was convened in Ukiah in the winter of 1926. Knight is certainly among the most talented sons of Mendocino County. He steadfastly represented and defended the interests of the Indians of Mendocino County to white authority at all levels of government, up to the federal government. His was among the most articulate voices in summarizing the transition from Mexican to American rule as it affected Mendocino County Indians:

"Mexican people built no missions up here, so the Indians were allowed to live pretty much as they had been before and after the Mexicans came, and the Indians were given certain areas of land to use to grow things for themselves. They built brush fences around them, had their homes there, planted gardens, had corn and everything they needed to eat on these places. When the Americans superseded the Mexicans the Indians were aware of the change — they seem to have known there was a change — they didn't resent the Americans coming in where there was just a few came in, but finally then the miners came in by the hundreds and by the thousands, then trouble arose between the Indians and the whites. Then the American government sent agents among the Indians to make treaties with them in order to get the Indians on reservations where they might be protected, but mostly to forestall Indian uprisings. These agents came out, made treaties with the Indians, promising them certain reservations. The Indians signed these treaties in good faith. They thought these treaties were final when they signed their name to them — they did not know it had to have the approval of the Senate of the United States, so the Indians were expecting to be moved onto the new reservations, but these new promised reservations were being filled up by white settlers. Then those Indians realized that they had been fooled. But the old people up to very recent times (the 1920s) believed that the government would make some other settlement with them. These treaties were pigeon-holed in the archives of the United States Senate for 50 years. No one ever saw them until after the 50 year term had expired. Someone then dug them up and made a few copies of some of the treaties. When these old Indians were told about the treaties having been recovered from the archives they became very much interested and told the younger Indians about how these treaties were made, by whom signed.”

In January of 1848, before his Indian, Hawaiian and Mormon workers deserted him for the gold fields, and before the mobs of gold seekers overran Sutter's thriving estates, California was estimated to be home to 7,500 Spanish Californians; 6,500 foreigners; 3-4,000 former mission Indians living near towns or on ranchos. "Wild" Indians were not counted in this rough census; no one had any idea how many of them there were in the great unknown between Sonoma and the Oregon territory.

By 1850, the criminal drifters who had not struck it rich in the gold fields began wandering through Mendocino County's untouched magnitudes, much of it perfect country for the raising of sheep and cattle. Mendocino County's empty solitude surprised these first ad-sals; the rest of the state was already mostly claimed. The Mendocino County ad-sals couldn't believe their good fortune, and they weren't about to share it with the people who'd lived harmoniously in it for 12,000 years.

The first permanent white residents of the remote mountains and canyons of the Northcoast were killers and outlaws, many of them on the run from the settled areas of the country. The law was a late arrival to Northern California and, I would say from my experience, never has fully prevailed.

As the relentless sons of Missouri staked out Mendocino County's myriad, well-watered little valleys, they shot Indian men where they found them, helped themselves to Indian women, sold Indian children into slavery, rez-ed the Indians they hadn't managed to kill, indentured them, and segregated them for the next one hundred years.

Ukiah's schools were only integrated in 1924. Aggressively opposed by a majority of white residents; the Ukiah schools were finally pried open by court order in 1923, with Steve Knight leading the charge. The rest of the town remained segregated up through the 1950s with a nastiness as mean and low-down as the segregated American South. Indian women could not get their hair done in the town's beauty parlors, Indians were not allowed to try on clothes, let alone purchase them, in the shops of the county seat, Indians could eat only in one Chinese-owned restaurant, and Indians were allowed in one Indian-only section of the Ukiah Theater. Two decorated Indian veterans of World War Two were denied breakfast at the Blue Bird Cafe when they got off a northbound Greyhound. Ukiah wouldn’t get all the way color blind until deep into the 1960s.

* * *




  1. LouisBedrock November 6, 2015

    Great drawing by Cobb.

    A Thanksgiving Prayer by William Buroughs

    For John Dillinger
    In hope he is still alive
    “Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986”

    In hope he is still alive
    Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts
    thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison
    thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger
    thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot
    thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes
    thanks for the American Dream to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through
    thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces
    thanks for Kill a Queer for Christ stickers
    thanks for laboratory AIDS
    thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs
    thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business
    thanks for a nation of finks—yes,
    thanks for all the memories all right, lets see your arms you always were a headache and you always were a bore
    thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

    • Harvey Reading November 6, 2015


  2. BB Grace November 6, 2015


    “The Patrons of Husbandry On the Pacific Coast”, Ezra S. Carr, University Berkeley, 1873

    Wiki links the book in references on the bottom.

    An amazing find in Carr’s book is A.O. Carpenter was the secretary of the Ukiah Grange, meaning the State, or National Grange, has the records of the Ukiah Grange all penned by hand by Carpenter(unless the records were destroyed by accident).

    Carr makes a claim that San Francisco’s Mission Delores was very active in Mendocino with millions of head of cattle, sheep, goats, logging cedar, redwood (for galleon repairs) oaks, barrel making, wines, wool making, crops.

    Also since the Catholic Church keeps records of births/ baptisms/ marriages/ deaths, there is a Catholic population in Mendocino whose families date back before CA became a state of the Union, so they are now American, but the Church is their rock and has been for hundreds of years, thus they are Catholic above all. They trust the Church, not any government because “governments come and go”.

    I’d like to suggest digging into Fraternal organization’s local histories because Mendocino’s fraternities were so strong they survive today and continue to play a HUGE role.

    Also, I believe it’s very important to include Pacific Islanders in Mendocino’s history because they were a big part going back before Sutter.


  3. LouisBedrock November 6, 2015

    With apologies to Robert Service:

    There are strange things done in the Mendo sun
    By the men who moil for attention;
    The Fort Bragg trails have their secret tales
    That would scare even übermenschen.
    The marijuna sites have their addled knights,
    Who mumble and drool down their face.
    But my most memorable delight came on the night
    That I cremated BB Grace.

    Now babbling BB was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
    Why he left his home and his condo to roam ’round Mendo,
    God, if she exists, only knows.
    He would constantly scribble incoherent drivel; his typos could fill Chez Ravine.
    Though he’d often say in his homely way that he needed to speak his mind.

    I clearly remember that day in November
    When I decided I couldn’t take anymore.
    With my partner, my spouse, we broke into his house
    And nailed blathering BB to the floor.
    We set the house on fire–BB’s funeral byre,
    And vamosed through the back door.

    And all said “Hooray” when the following day
    There were no new missives from BB shown.
    Farewell to typos, misspellings, and gripe-os;
    Demented minutia all gone.
    All readers embrace: it’s a new state of Grace:
    AVA’s now a BB free zone..

    There are strange things done in the Mendo sun
    By the men who moil for attention;
    The Fort Bragg trails have their secret tales
    That would scare even übermenschen.
    The marijuna sites have their addled knights,
    Who mumble and drool down their own face.
    But my most memorable delight came on the night
    That I cremated BB Grace.

  4. Randy Burke November 6, 2015

    Bruce, I guess you hit a nerve with that one.

  5. james marmon November 6, 2015

    I’ve driven through Orick at least a couple hundred times in my life. No other place like it in the World.

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