- Grist Violations
- Water Issues
- Courtney Exit
- LakeCo Tribulations
- Downtown Ukiah
- Cognitive Magnification
- Doda Memory
- Indigenous Vets
- NFL Advertising
- Undercover Security
- Robert Willeford
- Leslie Feliz
- Museum Doll
- Open Enrollment
- Woodstock Video
- Niner Vacancies
- Cloverdale Arts
- Behavioral Health
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cannabis Hour
- PD Does FB
- PA Agenda
- Italy Bound
- Wet Poem
- Pharoah Brown
ASPHALT PLANT FINED $151,272 FOR AIR-QUALITY VIOLATIONS
Longvale neighbors fear property values plummeting
by Jane Futcher
The Grist Creek/Mercer-Fraser asphalt plant in Longvale has violated 11 Mendocino County Air Quality Management District rules and been slapped with fines totaling $151,272. That’s in addition to $21,953 in fines levied by Air Quality in October.
The violations are related to public nuisance, permitting, project modifications, operating requirements and air pollution control. They are listed in an Oct. 30 letter from county Air Pollution Control Officer Robert A. Scaglione to Brian Hurt of Grist Creek Aggregates, LLC, which owns the plant site at 37342 Covelo Road.
Since September, when the plant went on line, neighbors have complained of toxic rubber and asphalt fumes, smoke, dust and very loud noises that sometimes go all night. Several neighbors evacuate their homes when the plant starts operating each morning. At least three have visited the hospital because of difficulty breathing and pollution-related other health problems.
Robert A Scaglione, the Mendocino County Air Pollution Control Office who notified Grist Creek of the violations, was not available for comment yesterday.
Caltrans, which has a contract with Mercer-Fraser for the asphalt being used on Highway 101 between Willits and Laytonville, said Caltrans would not break its contract with Mercer-Fraser because of the recent violations.
“We are not there to judge air quality,” said Phil Frisbie, Caltrans Public Information Officer for District 1. “That is why this is needs to be in the hands of Air Quality and other regulatory agencies. If this plant gets shut down Mercer-Fraser will need to go to other sources for asphalt and that will cost taxpayers more money.”
Asked if Caltrans is concerned about the environmental crisis in Longvale, Frisbie said that “If it is truly a crisis, then the Air Quality Board will shut them down. It is their responsibility.”
Glen Colwell is a neighbor of the plant and a member of Friends of Outlook Creek, a group that is suing the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District and the Board of Supervisors for approving the plant. Cowell said he is relieved that Mendocino County Air Quality has taken action, but he would like the county would close plant down immediately. Instead, the operation is expected to go back on line Thursday, Nov. 12.
Colwell said the trouble started in March, when the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors fast-tracked the plant without requiring any environmental reviews.
“We were told that there was nothing to worry about, that the permits needed by the asphalt plant would mean that regulatory agencies would protect public health and the environment,” Colwell said.
“Unfortunately what has really happened is that neighbors’ homes, properties, and livestock were inundated with smoke, loud noises that sound like freight trains and jet engines that start early in the morning and sometimes go on until 2 a.m., and the odors of burning rubber. This started in September continued until the end of October.“
Colwell, who recently retired as manager of the Ambient Air Monitoring Program at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said the local and state agencies that permitted the facility only took action when the public outcry could no longer be ignored.
It took two months of neighbors experiencing “nightmarish stress” for the “protection” to kick in that the supervisors had assured neighbors they could count on, according to Colwell.
“We're still waiting to find out if state and county regulators will allow this plant to continue operation after documenting violations of their permit conditions such as excessive fugitive dust emissions and operating the rubberized asphalt unit without a permit. The fines now total over $173,000 for these violations.”
Colwell said that while he recognizes the need for asphalt and good roads, permitting an asphalt plant on the floodplain of Outlet Creek, known to overflow its banks every winter, is “an environmental disaster waiting to happen.”
“As winter rains ramp up,” Colwell said, “sediment and industrial effluent from the site will be washed into the watersheds of Outlet Creek and the Eel River, both of which are already classified as sediment-impaired. The tragedy here is that agencies like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board can't or won't do much until there's an incident or blatant violation that perhaps kills fish or destroys spawning habitat.”
If environmental reviews had been conducted before permits were issued, Cowell said more could have been done by regulatory agencies to prevent impacts.
“Since the project was fast-tracked, there was no review and no review documents for other agencies to respond to and provide input on.”
On Saturday, Nov. 7, more than two dozen neighbors and Covelo residents worried about the pollution and noise from the plant, met on the banks of Outlet Creek near Highway 101 to share their feelings and plot strategies for bringing pressure on Grist Creek/Mercer-Fraser to shut down.
Several residents voiced fear that the air and noise pollution from the plant have already greatly reduced their property values.
Willits real estate agent Bill Barksdale of Coldwell Banker/Mendo Realty agreed.
“I think there would be very few buyers at conventional market value for a piece of property that is affected by asphalt odors and loud noises,” Barksdale said. “If we are going to be driving cars, we need asphalt. But the siting of this plan is inappropriate. I don’t feel that it’s safe.”
Barksdale could not say exactly home values in the area had plummeted because it’s a very subjective matter.
“Many people move to Mendocino County because of clean air,” Barksdale said. “If you can’t offer clean air, you are cutting out one of the main reasons they would want to be in this area. I would not personally buy a property that was affected by that. To me it would have a value of zero.”
(Jane Futcher lives near Grist Creek Aggregates and is active in Friends of Outlet Creek.)
A FORT BRAGG RESIDENT thinks the town's city management has screwed up everything lately, including water policy and planning. "They kept developing and permitting water guzzling projects knowing the true situation that there wasn't and isn't water to support them. The Stage 3 crisis was discussed months ahead but not announced to the public to give them time to prepare as the new brewery was given permits by the city’s planning commission. I can't believe they could have granted those if the coming water emergency had been known. At Monday's City Council meeting, they threw Public Works boss Varga under the water wagon, because, they claimed, he paid no attention to the levels, but they all knew things would be bad come summer… The Grand Jury and Fish and Game, plus two other water agencies, had warned the city for many years of their serious violations and need for a comprehensive plan. Fort Bragg’s Community Development Director Marie Jones lied like crazy with her Mitigated Negative Declaration for the mall, and in her snarky retort to Fish and Game… (She said the mall would use 200,000 gallons a year with their catchment installations, but they get only 100,000 gallons. The City's destructive ways with the Noyo River certainly helped cause the demise of the fishing industry here. Residents complied with restrictions, then rates go up."
IN HALF-HEARTED defense of City water policies, no one in the County, except maybe former supervisor Johnny Pinches, could have foreseen just how drought-parched Mendocino County would be this year. Pinches argued for sensible water policies his entire tenure. Did anybody listen? Nooooooo.
BRUCE McEWEN REPORTS from the County Courthouse:
Came out in court today that Dr. William Courtney, long-established fixture of the local pot pharm community — the veritable high priest of that virtual religious cult — has quit his practice, sold his house and bought tickets for himself and his family out of the country. Dr. Courtney is moving to an undisclosed Carribean Island (natch). There is some unsubstantiated rumor that one of attorney E.D. Lerman's clients — probably Philo's Kelly Boss — will kick down the fees and airline tickets for one final show for Courtney as a witness in the Mendocino pot courts, but other than that it looks like the good pot doc has seen the writing on the wall and decamped — for good.
LAKE COUNTY: FIRST THE FIRE, then the cold — then the evictions.
ALARMING HEADLINE on today's Ukiah Daily Journal: "Downtown Planning on Agenda."
BUT ON the "Strategic Planning" agenda, Ukiah's leadership will discuss maintaining the downtown historic section as a regional center of civic and economic activity, planning valley-wide based on sound planning principles, and for the council to work with staff to create a more responsive and effective workplace. The city manager says he wants the council to agree on a strategy for the discussions before they get into it tonight. That was from the last planning session a few weeks ago. A list of topics has been honed in on including affecting positive change with the Palace Hotel and having anchor businesses that attract new business.
ODD that Ukiah's brain trust never so much as mentions the new County Courthouse working its clandestine way to establishment outside the Ukiah Valley's planning procedures. It will destroy any hope for a viable downtown because it will be four long blocks east of the present Courthouse. Ukiah's existing downtown businesses will be greatly harmed because the Courthouse generates much daytime business.
AT LAST, a coherent counterattack against Candy Ass-ism. Here's some required reading for the neener-neener prigs in your political circles: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in a recent Atlantic Monthly. It begins, "Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma." And so on.
MY FAVE TERM from the piece is "cognitive magnification," meaning the kind of person, always some variety of liberal, who goes all to pieces at a term or opinion he or she doesn't approve of. We deal with magnified cognitions almost on a weekly basis here at America's last newspaper but, fortunately for us, the candy-assed sectors of the Mendo population confine their media input to KPFA and KZYX where they are unlikely to ever hear a disturbing word.
THERE'S LOTS of interesting on-line comment on the passing of the legendary topless pioneer, Carol Doda. I like this one: "I remember as a kid coming to SF from the San Joaquin valley where my dad was stationed at Castle AFB. We'd stay at the Marine's Memorial and walk around from there. Once while walking around Chinatown, we ended up in North Beach and passed a barker outside a club. My little brother (about 2nd grade at the time) was mesmerized by the posters outside of Carol Doda, so the barker asked him, "Would you like to see that, little boy?" My brother replied very seriously, "Oh, yes!" I remember my parents cracking up and moving us along back to the hotel. That memory was treasured, even though we never saw Carol Doda in person. RIP Carol.
(According to Ms. Doda’s obituary in the New York Times: Ms. Doda started a topless revolution as a 26-year-old go-go dancer in 1964. Her breasts were injected with enough silicone to expand her bra size to 44DD. The procedure has since been banned, but Ms. Doda, who began every day with a bowl of Wheaties, said she suffered no health complications. Her bust was said to have been insured for $1.5 million.)
TATE LAIWA WRITES: “Grateful for all Indigenous vets — past, present, future!”
FROM JON CARROLL IN TODAY'S CHRON:
“…Turns out the Pentagon has been paying NFL teams to create an appropriate patriotism-athon for the pregame festivities. All the solidarity with the troops was greased by money. The Pentagon believes that great spectacles of military sentimentality increase numbers. The military has a little image problem. It needs to deflect the conversation away from Abu Ghraib and the bombed hospital in Afghanistan. Be a soldier! Everyone will love you. Look at the cheerleader, kicking high — she'll love you. I mean, really love you.”
WAIVING SHRIMP BOY'S RIGHTS: I am furious to learn that federal prosecutors in the Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow case have refused to share with his defense lawyers "the names of the undercover agents who will testify at his trial," on the grounds that "identifying them could affect national security." This brazenly violates his constitutional right to confront his accusers.
I never heard of Chow before this case, but if I were a member of his jury, I would vote to acquit him on this ground alone, regardless of whatever other evidence the prosecutors present. It is high time we sent a signal to Washington: Stop using these kinds of Gestapo tactics against citizens.
— John Davidson, San Francisco
ROBERT KEITH WILLEFORD joined his Loving Savior October 22, 2015 Robert Keith Willeford was born to James Henry and Ellen Ida Willeford on April 10, 1933 in Santa Ana, California. As the last of eight children, following Velcia Sheffield, Raymond, Vivian Rice, Lowell, Dale (who joined our Lord in infancy), Betty Patterson and Kenneth, Bobby was forever a lover of family. Bob never met a stranger, and his love for sports and horses were two of his favorite ways to enjoy people. A standout four sport athlete at Santa Ana High School, Bob won the affection of Helen June Metcalf and they were married on June 6, 1952 at the General Baptist Church of Garden Grove, to the delight of both families. Helen preceded Bob in uniting with their Lord in death on June 30, 2013 after 62 years of loving marriage. Bob and Helen are survived by the children they affectionately raised, Penney Mahaffey (husband Bob of Ukiah), Robin Thompson (husband Bob of Petaluma), Rusty Willeford (wife Eileen of Glide, Oregon) and Dennis Willeford of Aruba, Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Born and raised in Santa Ana, Bob moved his family to Norco, California, to have acreage for his passion of breeding Palomino Quarter horses. Bob was a people person who saw everyone he met as a person of worth and a potential friend. His love for sports kept him active, playing semi-pro baseball and coaching football, baseball and basketball in youth leagues and high school, and eventually junior college. Unlike many who leave the game when they are unable to compete, Bob moved seamlessly from the field to the stands becoming the number one fan of all the local athletes in virtually every sport. He kept his eye on the ball, but his heart and mind were always on the people, every player and every fan receiving his warm smile and encouragement. Bob loved horses as well as sports, so with his appreciation for color and conformation he enjoyed owning many exceptional Quarter Horse and Arabian stallions. A thrill for Bob was to ride a favorite horse in a local parade and include as many family members as he could persuade to come along.
Bob and Helen moved to Mendocino County in 1971 where after managing a ranch and boys home for a few years they purchased property on the McNab Ranch where they could be closer to Valley Equipment Company which Bob owned and operated from 1974 to 1994. In addition to their business, Bob and Helen continued to serve the community through foster parenting for over 25 years. More than forty young men remember fondly the sacrificial love and positive counsel that Bob invested to redirect their lives. Bob and Helen were long term members of the New Life Community Church of Ukiah, joining in membership when it was the Evangelical Free Church. Bob actively loved his Lord through teaching Sunday School, serving on leadership boards and committees and being available to meet people's needs at every opportunity. His love for family, including his ten grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren, did not prevent him from being a mentor to many other young people that crossed his path. His support for the local sports programs, especially the Mendocino Community College Eagles, led him to be inducted into the MCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Bob will be fondly remembered and truly missed by a great number of people in Mendocino County and elsewhere, who considered him a treasured friend because he valued them first and found his joy in their company. A special service honoring both Bob and Helen and the Lord they trusted for salvation will be held at the New Life Community Church at 750 Yosemite Dr., Ukiah, CA at 9:30 AM Saturday November 14, 2015. Later that day at 1:00 PM the Mendocino Community College Eagles will have an informal tribute to Bob at their last home football game of the season.
LESLIE FELIZ entered into rest November 5, 2015, in Hopland, CA. He was born in Hopland, CA, June 14, 1938, to Necho Feliz Sr. and Mandy Knight Feliz, the ninth of what would be ten children. Leslie graduated from Hopland High School; he served his country in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1961. He worked for 35 years as a bookkeeper for a CPA firm in San Francisco. Leslie was also a country singer. He returned to Hopland in 1985. He is survived by his brothers and sisters, George Feliz of Hopland, Esther Lockhart, Necho Feliz Jr., Robert Feliz, Carol Feliz Vedolla of Ukiah, and Elizabeth Feliz of Oregon; aunt, Juanita Antone of Hopland; numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins He was preceded into rest by his mother, Mandy Knight Feliz, and his father, Necho Feliz Sr., and his sisters, Catherine Feliz SanDiego, Ruby Feliz Polland and Theresa Margaret Feliz. Recitation of the Rosary will be 6 p.m. Monday, November 9, 2015, at Eversole Mortuary. Graveside Service will be on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at 2 p.m. at the Hopland Rancheria Cemetery. Visitation will be Monday, November 9, 2015, beginning at 5 - 8 p.m. at the mortuary. Eversole Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
THE GUEST MUSEUM, Fort Bragg. BB Grace docent, Susie de Castro, visitor
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY
We are smack in the middle of a season of the year that actually makes me ill…it’s called the “Open Enrollment Period.”
I detest having to think through my personal medical insurance coverage situation EVERY friggin year. Can’t things ever remain the same?
This period runs 54 days, from Oct 15th through Dec 7th. After reading all the reminders that arrive by snail and e-mail for a few weeks I finally bite the bullet, pick up the phone and dial the number.
Last week I got a very knowledgeable guy to come to my home and review my current situation and possible changes. At present I am covered by Medicare and that is backed up by a Medigap (Supplemental) insurance called Plan N which costs $133.08/mo. I also have a drug plan which costs (I forget the exact number) around $50/mo. If I kept the same coverage these premiums would each go up by more than 10%.
My medical situation will be different in 2016 than it was in 2015 so I am able to switch to a “Medicare Advantage” plan that covers everything under one monthly premium of (currently) $46.10/mo. Incredibly, there are certain counties in NJ where that same coverage carries a ZERO premium.
Without getting into details, if nothing extraordinary happens to me in 2016 I will save $1,500 – $2,000. The in-house insurance guy was expert in looking up all the drug and premium costs which I would have found mind-boggling. He also filled out all the new paperwork/forms.
If you haven’t faced up to this open enrollment nightmare yet I recommend you do so tomorrow morning and try to arrange an in-house visit before time runs out.
* * *
To which comes the reply,
At my own peril, perhaps, I just say,
“fuck it. Let ‘er ride.
Just tell me what I owe when I owe
and I’ll pray that I can pay
and that I don’t die.”
WOODSTOCK 69: THE LOST PERFORMANCES
49ERS LOSING FANS BY THE WEEK:
ENCORE ARTISTS' RECEPTION ON NOVEMBER 21
Cloverdale Arts Alliance
November 20, 2015 - January 14, 2016
Hours: Friday - Sunday, 11-5pm
Saturday, November 21, 2015 — 5-7:30 pm
204 N. Cloverdale Blvd.
GREETINGS TO ALL from the Mendocino County Mental Health Board. We now have a new name reflecting the trend throughout the State to combine Mental Health Services oversight with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring disorders. We are now the Mendocino County "Behavioral Health Advisory Board.” Our next meeting is coming up this November 18th at the Mendocino Presbyterian church's Preston Hall at 10 AM. If you have questions for the board on mental health care issues including topical concerns about the delivery of mental health services to the Coast this would be a good time to meet our traveling board and broach your issues. We grapple with topics such as board membership; cultural diversity; co-occurring disorders; financial and contract performance; the county jail mental health services; Laura's Law implementation; housing and mental health crises care issues. There will be ample time at the beginning of the meeting for public comments and also after each agenda item. One ofour State mandates is to receive public comments and be a sounding board for our Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. All are welcome to attend and are cordially invited. See you there.
— John Wetzler, Mental Health Board Chair
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 12, 2015
ALFONZO AYALA, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, suspended license, bad registration.
MASON BIAGGI, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CORY BRANDELL, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JOSHUA HAYWARD, Point Arena. Battery, failure to appear, probation revocation.
LEVI LEON, Willits. Reckless driving, possession of controlled substance, probation revocation.
TASHA ORNELAS, Ukiah. Drunk in public, failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
GEOFFREY RITTER, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
JOSE SALGADO, Marysville/Ukiah. DUI.
GERALD SIMPSON, Willits. Court order violation, probation revocation.
KEVIN TURPIN, Fort Bragg. Vehicle registration forgery, vehicle ID alteration, receiving stolen property, failure to appear.
WILLIAM VANTREESE, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
XOCHE WRIGHT, Ukiah. Failure to pay.
TIM BLAKE ON THE CANNABIS HOUR, KZYX, NOV. 19, 9 A.M
Tim Blake, founder of the Emerald Cup, Area 101 and Healing Harvest Farms in Laytonville, will be my guest on The Cannabis Hour, Thursday, Nov. 19, at 9 a.m. We’ll talk about how the Emerald Cup, coming up December 12 and 13 in Santa Rosa, has shaped the cannabis industry. We’ll also discuss emerging regulation issues as the state puts its new medical cannabis regulations into action and considers legalizing adult recreational use.
PRESS DEMOCRAT DOES FORT BRAGG OLD COAST HOTEL DISPUTE
The ban was triggered by the conversion of a 123-year-old hotel into social services offices and transitional housing units.
CRIME OF THE WEEK
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:
On Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at about 6:30 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies conducted a traffic enforcement stop on a U-Haul truck near the 900 block of Redwood Dr. in Garberville. The U-Haul truck was observed traveling southbound in the northbound traffic lane and did not have headlights on.
Deputies along with Officer’s from the California Highway Patrol, contacted three subjects. When deputies approached the truck they could smell a strong odor of marijuana emanating from it. The marijuana odor was stronger near the rear cargo door of the truck. Deputies contacted the driver of the vehicle, Jason Micah Hartman, age 44, and Hartman stated he thought there was furniture in the cargo area and he did not have a key to it because he did not load the truck.
Deputies were then alerted by an anonymous citizen who stated that a passenger of the U-Haul had fled while the Deputy made his initial approach on the traffic stop. The Deputy’s view was obstructed and did not see the passenger flee. The citizen advised the Deputy that he recognized the passenger who fled as one of the fugitives listed on the Southern Humboldt’s Most Wanted Poster. Deputies were able to locate the passenger who fled, Jason Eugene Rice, age 44, who was seen walking away from a nearby business. Rice was subsequently arrested for felony warrants. Rice was found him to be in possession of marijuana and approximately 43.3 grams of suspected heroin. The second passenger had a cite and release warrant. He was cited and released from the scene.
Deputies cut the lock from the truck and upon inspection of the cargo area, deputies located hanging marijuana plants, dried marijuana buds, hash, mushrooms, materials for a hash lab, and miscellaneous manufacturing equipment. Due to the size of marijuana seized, two Deputies with the HCSO Drug Enforcement Unit responded to assist with evidence collection.
Jason Hartman was arrested for HS 11359 – Possession of Marijuana for Sale; HS11360(a) – Transportation/Sale of Marijuana; VC24252(a) – Maintenance of Lamps and Device; VC21460(a) – Improper turns over Double Line. His bail has been set at $25,000. Jason Rice was arrested for HS11357(c) – Possess Marijuana over 28.5 grams; HS11350(a) – Possess Narcotic Controlled Substance; HS11379(a) – Manufacture/Etc Controlled Substance; HS11360(a) – Transportation/Sale of Marijuana; HS11377(a) – Possession of a controlled substance; and his outstanding warrants. His bail has been set at $500,000.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank community members who report suspicious behavior. This is a classic example of how assistance from the public can lead to positive changes. Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
AGENDA FOR NOVEMBER 17, 2015 CITY COUNCIL MEETING IN POINT ARENA, including Housing Element Draft
NINE REASONS I AM MOVING TO ITALY
by Val Papadin
- As a hypochondriac, I meditate all day long, about my last moments. In Italy, I would die surrounded by loving family, a rusty, screeching sound of a rooster from the open window, and the aroma of apples dented in a fall.
Here, faceless like hockey goalies, nurses will kidnap me and medicate until my liver shuts and equity in the house drains to two big zeros, like on a score board before the game has begun.
- Not far from Rome, in a godforsaken village, I’ll find a calm, down-to-earth wife, who enjoys my embrace and cooking for the two of us, instead of campaigning to protect oyster farms and the spotted owl population.
Drained of energy from aerobic class, Californian girls hardly move in bed, though they still smell of sweat in the same way lumberjacks do, and eventually get a crew-cut; a hint on many unbiblical liberties. My latest girlfriend, freed of feelings and feminine pheromones, acquired such an icy glare, that I checked her left underarm where S.S. ranks had tattooed their ID.
- America: the best country to start your own business or fight wars oceans away where you are not invited. However, the U.S. was not always anxious to jump into action; World War II, including. When the entirety of Europe was flattened into submission by the German Panthers, when Britain’s defeat was delayed by clever spy games and tenacious RAF hunks, when Russia was losing army after army between Kiev and Moscow, indecisive Roosevelt was still waiting for a wake up call, which eventually came from Admiral Yamamoto at dawn.
That call had a historical significance, but bad reception: too much background noise from the nose-diving Zeros.
Since then, the country’s industrial complex relied on armory and changed not - why should it? For the true macho, tanks and tits are never enough.
- The bucolic town of Sonoma, California, became mortally dangerous for me after I brought from a trip to Italy a habit of gesturing while talking; a habit that local police interpret as an attempt to reach for a concealed weapon. A few times, they nearly drew their own guns in defense, unbeknownst to me. I still remember those moments of haunting uncertainty: should I drop to the ground or run? Can they hit a moving target?
Now, I have re-trained myself into the poster boy of law obedience: when questioned by an officer, I stand at attention, lining up my spine with a plaza’s flag post, no excessive smiling — legal form of bribery — arms glued to the sides of my body, as if trapped in a strait jacket of the conservative Irish dance.
With a return of the paranoid acoustic of the Cold War, police typically react to my Russian accent as they would to a burglar alarm in a jewelry store, which is unfortunate because I like the guys, and I appreciate their courage. This fact would make us allies, as a bullet in my head would be death by friendly fire, the most absurd kind of death: no glory to you, no cushy pension to your widow. Tale a walk across the military cemetery, you will never find a gold-leafed confession on a single gravestone: ‘Accidently wacked by the platoon mates.’ Sensitive matter.
- An old proverb, “Tell me who you befriended and I will tell you who you are,” makes my relocation to Italy justified, because, by upholding Capital Punishment, the U.S. joined the untrustworthy company of Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China, Iran, and Yemen.
America’s history is that of gold digging, oil drilling, and the search for the “picture perfect” executions. We look down at the Iranians because they simplified juridical procedures and, interrupting building projects, hang people on cranes. ‘Listen, Mahmud, you lied that your condo has unobstructed views of the valley! - I did not! Wait a bit when that drug pusher stops wiggling in the air.’
In July 4, 1884, exited by the birth of a new democracy and the rising challenge to the anal Brits, France shipped to New York two formidable ladies as gifts: the infamous Statue of Liberty and Madam Guillotine, a nickname for a crude wooden structure with a falling blade. They oxidized like a water can. The Statue of Liberty became a national symbol, while Guillotine never assembled, though it did inspire the invention of a cigar clipper.
Things looked more promising on death row after Benjamin Franklin tamed the lightning in the sky, and an ordinary armchair became the electric chair. But zapping inmates fell out of favor, though charcoaled by high voltage, like a led in the middle of a pencil, some of them managed to regain consciousness and ask for water. Human nature: unless beheaded, we talk and talk. Conclusion? The motto of our generation should be, Bring Back the Guillotine! Not everything the French introduces corrupts our morals!
I know who would have agreed with me wholeheartedly if he was still around: Afro-American writer, Stanley Tookie Williams III, was sentenced to death on circumstantial evidence. He spent such a long time on this journey toward death: first, the intravenous needle wasn’t inserted correctly, then the drug cocktail didn’t work, so, to get additional ingredients, the San Quinton doctor drove to a specialized pharmacy, across the Golden Gate bridge. ‘Back in an hour, gone shopping.’
Botched executions, a euphemism for extended torture, suddenly became inhumane, and who else to blame but the Europeans? The hypocrites refused to sell us very potent poison their forefathers used for centuries to make elections predictable and cheating husbands extinct.
Only recently, we came up with a competing deadly mix, but life is full of surprises, as is death. It took Arizona inmate, Josef Wood, 17 lethal injections to stop breathing. During the two hours and 10 minutes he spent semiconscious, he was making snorkeling sounds. Such an amazing resistance to the poisoned potent, enough to produce, theoretically, 17 corpses, cannot be explained unless you recollect the gospel of Mark, 16:18: ‘…they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
So, here comes another motto: Ban preachers from the death row! They are putting God’s promise on a collision course with the tenacious, inbred pit bull of bureaucracy. To circulate in a human body, Holy Ghost, as any anti-venom, requires a blood stream, but, after 17 injections, no blood was left in Josef’s veins and arteries, only curdled liquid. American justice virtually manufactures zombies.
Nothing is wrong with the prison ministry. Kudos to the volunteers, but don’t let them cross the border – a doorstep of a death row cell. If they don’t believe Mark 16:18, they are imposters, and if they do believe and understand the scripture, the consequences of the conversion, are of the most devious sadists on the face of the Earth.
Put a lid on the religious fever until the laws change, and don’t say the death penalty is Biblical. After Cain killed his brother, Abel, God declared to Cain, "Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth" (Genesis 4:11-12). In response, Cain lamented, "My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me" (Genesis 4:13-14). God responded, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him"
Am I among the few who bought the Bible with no pages missing?
- The human brain is a melting pot of chemicals, consuming for decades, genetically altered corn, bestseller of the industrious Mormon Church, and Diet Coke, we became vulnerable to flesh-eating bacteria, Birds flu, and state propaganda. The gullible share the same ‘I could care less‘ smile. That’s why George Bush organized a search for the non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq toppled Sadam, Gaddaffi, and Mubarac, and installed a listening device in the rectum of every European politician.
- I am being heckled by the regulars at my favorite café in Sonoma. ‘Your Putin is a thug.’ First of all, he is not mine. I left the Soviet Union, the regime I hated most in 1980, as a poet and dissident (inseparable synonyms). Names blacklisted by KGB reappear in an obituary, so I was happy, by emigrating, to distance myself from such a powerful enemy. But the pessimistic king Solomon was wrong. Things change, the streets in Moscow got cleaner, and KGB more civilized, rotating the Rubik’s Cube of it’s abbreviation the fourth time, becoming FSB. Eventually, I grew to like Putin. He and his Prime Minister, Medvedev, are probably the only loners not corrupt in a traditionally corrupt Russia. I also have a high regard for the ex-CIA boss, George Bush, Sr. My observation: the Secret Services of every country produce the best candidates for presidency. Smart, dedicated, brave: that’s what the CIA, FSB, Mossad, and MI-5 are all about. I even applied for a job in each of these sectors, but was turned down with the same comment: ‘We don’t hire clowns. ‘
- I can’t believe my ears when the café regulars accuse Putin for ‘annexing’ Crimea. You can’t annex something that is yours. In the 19th century, the mighty navy of France and Britain bombarded Sebastopol day and night in a hope to slice off the Crimean peninsula from Russia’s territory. Now rethinking a failed strategy, the same countries instigated a topographic invasion by encouraging a self-proclaimed leader of Ukraine Poroshenko to print the maps, where the name Crimea is not spelled anymore in Cyrillic.
Crimea was a vacation spot of choice for the Romanoff’s dynasty, the then high ranking Bolsheviks, modern Kremlin’s bankers, and not yet arrested oligarchs. For centuries, Russians fished in the Black sea.
Talking fish. My question for the rusty ghost of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher: with all due respect, lady, did you ever fish from the piers in Falkland’s islands to send a battleship across the globe, eight thousand miles away? No? Thank you for the honest answer.
- With brilliant Chomsky aging, Jon Stewart quitting, and Bill Maher no longer biting the hand that feeds him, life has became boring. Still, I am an American patriot. Should I kick the bucket tomorrow, wrap my body in Stars and Stripes, wrap my soul with the line, ‘amazing grace, how sweet the sound’, then ship me to Livorno, a seaport in the south of Italy.
WET POEMS FOR A DRY PLANET, VI
takes me through
the cat-tailed marsh
on the edge of the
alive with nesting
red-winged black birds
singing a song
born of the wild weather.
— Jonah Raskin
PHARAOH BROWN SHOULD BUILD A PYRAMID OR SPHINX RATHER THAN TUNNELS
by Dan Bacher
Jerry Meral, the former Brown administration's Bay Delta Conservation Plan point man who retired from state "service" in 2013, unwittingly exposed the absurdity of the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels as a "legacy" project for Governor Jerry Brown when he recently compared opponents of the tunnels to people who didn’t like the pyramids being built.
“The people who filed the comments who haven’t wanted this project for 10 years or so and are still upset, so that’s not surprising,” Meral, who now works for the faux “environmental group” called the Natural Heritage Institute, told the Sacramento Bee on November 8. “I’m sure there were people who didn’t like the pyramids, but in the end they got built because, frankly, the people who had the power to build them built them.” (http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/delta/article43691418.html#storylink=cpy)
Actually, Jerry, if the Governor’s "legacy" is all about him being a modern-day Pharaoh with the overwhelming obsession of building a monument to his "legacy," a pyramid would be a much more environmentally friendly project than the salmon-killing Delta Tunnels. And I know of at least one Delta Tunnels opponent, Robert Ramsdell, who would wholeheartedly support the construction of a pyramid rather than Jerry Brown's Delta Death Tunnels.
In 2013 Robert Ramsdell came up with a creative solution to how Governor Jerry Brown can build a gigantic monument to his "legacy" without building the enormously costly and environmentally destructive tunnels:
"The period when a long time pol enters the terminal phase of his career is fraught with danger for the public (and in this case the environment, too). The nearly spent executive is obsessed with his 'legacy' and in the case of Jerry Brown, following in the foot steps of his father, these manias are exacerbated and can be especially hazardous to the common good.
For instance: Having already smitten the poor and the elderly with savage budget cuts he has fixed his ambitions for managerial immortality on a grandiose scheme for a cross delta tunnel project, or in popular parlance: The Twin Tunnels of Ecological Doom.
I have a few less destructive options for him to entertain instead of his legacy enhancing dreams for two giant tunnels under the California Delta, which will probably put the final nail in the coffin of the largest fresh/saltwater estuary on the West Coast and so to a priceless ecological and recreational resource.
- Here is one tried and true legacy booster: a pyramid!
Is there anything more mysterious and awe inspiring than a gigantic triangular pile of rocks pointing at the sky? And the effect can be enhanced further by rooms and tunnels cunningly designed into the structure. Maybe even a likeness of Linda Ronstadt (circa 1976) could be painted on the walls of some of the tunnels or a statue of her included in one of the torch lit rooms.
- A stone likeness or monument (com'mon Jerry, at least think about it!)
- A cathedral! Right religion for the Governor and it could only improve the sky line of Sacramento."
Robert has some superb ideas on how Brown can build a giant monument to his "legacy" while at the same time not endangering the Delta, Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, Tribes, family farmers and the common good like his Delta Tunnels project will do.
My personal favorite is a Pharaoh-like pyramid, especially one with a likeness of Linda Ronstadt, circa 1976, painted on the walls. I would add likenesses and statues of Brown’s biggest campaign contributors, including Stewart and Linda Resnick, owners of Paramount Farms in Kern County.
Since Brown is an avid supporter of the oil industry and its lobby, the Western States Petroleum Association, the wealthiest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the logos of the association, Chevron, Exxon and other oil companies should be prominently engraved on its walls.
The stone likeness or monument of Jerry Brown or a cathedral would also serve as great alternatives to the Delta tunnels.
The Jerry Brown pyramid, monument or cathedral would be much more welcome additions to the landscape than a massive tunnel project that would take many years to complete. Not only would they be less costly and have a much lighter environmental footprint than the tunnels, but these works of art would help enhance the City of Sacramento skyline.
Any of these three projects would provide a boost to the construction industry, providing lots of temporary jobs while the "legacy" project is being built.
Now the only problem is convincing Brown to embrace one of these three alternatives to his legacy rather than building the Delta Tunnels that he is so obsessed with constructing.
Delta Tunnels Background
Delta residents, fishermen, Indian Tribes, environmentalists and a growing number of elected officials oppose the $67 billion tunnels plan, renamed the "California Water Fix" this year, because it would hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species. The public comment period for the widely-opposed plan's Environmental Impact Report closed on October 30.
The tunnels also threaten the Klamath River system, since much of the water destined for the tunnels would come from the Trinity River, the Klamath's largest tributary. The Trinity is the only out of basin water supply for the federal Central Valley Project.