- Demagoguing Homelessness
- OCH Controversy
- FB Duped
- Judge Race
- Hospital Tax
- Allocating 172
- Yesterday's Catch
- Just-us System
- Swing Band
- Free Passes
- Fleet Monique
- Assemblyman Tour
- Congressman Meeting
- Palace 1915
- County Librarian
- Warrant Wednesday
- Mexican Migrations
- War Biz
- Nino Forecast
- Privatized Internet
- Refugee Question
- Banning Bitumen
- No Contentment
- Stadium Terror
- Hatchery Report
- Library Events
ANNA SHAW of Hospitality House is very good at demagoguing the homeless issue. Most secular helping pros have gotten good at it, and not to be too unfairly suspicious of Ms. Shaw and her colleagues as they empire build with an expanded Hospitality House at the Old Coast Hotel, she and her little helpers would be a lot more credible if they didn't invariably take a swipe at their critics as compassion-deficient. Anna Shaw is not working free for an order of nuns. She's well-paid. The issue remains: Is it wise to place a homeless center in the middle of your tourist town? No.
THE HOMELESS of Mendocino County are not people who got thrown out onto the streets because of merciless market forces. They are people who drank and drugged themselves into a state of permanent inhospitality, you might say. If a few of them can be helped, wonderful, but simply giving them meals and a shower, in most cases, keeps the homeless houseless. Factor in Mendocino County's expensive but laughably ineffective (or non-existent) privatized mental health "services," and what you have is a small group of Anna Shaws picking the bones of the damned for their last bits of monetized flesh.
TINY FORT BRAGG BITTERLY DIVIDED OVER DOWNTOWN HOMELESS CENTER
Kevin Scanlon walks out of the main coffee shop in downtown Fort Bragg. One block to the left is the ocean, and miles of trails along the Mendocino coastline. Scanlon turns right, toward the four-block stretch of small shops selling socks, books and tchotchkes.
“We’re a tourist town now. Logging’s done. Fishing’s done,” says Scanlon, a general contractor who has worked on many of the local buildings. “So we’ve got to keep the integrity of downtown.”
It’s not only tourists who have taken a liking to Fort Bragg. So have the homeless. And this worries Scanlon.
“If you have a lot of transitional people coming, it just turns tourists off,” he says.
Scanlon stops outside the historic Old Coast Hotel. It was vacant for years, until the city approved a grant to the nonprofit Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center to buy it. The agency moved in this summer and began providing case management and mental health services to the homeless. It will eventually use the hotel rooms as transitional housing.
The plans threw the town into an uproar. Scanlon, and more than 1,000 other local residents and business owners, signed a petition to keep the homeless out of the hotel.
“We didn’t say we’re against it. We said we’re against it here,” Scanlon says. “And that’s not being prejudiced, just pragmatic.”
The hotel sits at the gateway to the burgeoning downtown commercial district. Scanlon and other opponents say the building should go to a thriving business. Like a hotel, or a restaurant.
“You could get bed tax. You could get the food tax,” Scanlon says. “That could be a financial gain for the city, as opposed to a financial drain.”
Debbie Gibney, 58, is a client and staff member at the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center. She says she has bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. (April Dembosky/KQED)
Opponents feel so strongly about the hotel that they filed a lawsuit to block the sale. It failed. They threatened to recall the mayor for supporting the project. That didn’t work. Now they’ve put a measure on next June’s ballot that would ban all social services from downtown.
But leaders of the hospitality center say there’s been community pushback at every location they considered.
“Part of it is simply that ‘not in my backyard,’ ” says Executive Director Anna Shaw.
But when they landed at the Old Coast Hotel, it really hit a nerve. Shaw says people have nostalgia for watching sports at the polished wood bar, and seeing their teams win. One man proposed to his wife here 20 years ago.
“I think some people have a feeling that it’s kind of too good for the homeless and the mentally ill,” Shaw says.
The building is more than 100 years old and is considered an architectural gem. The hallway walls are pressed tin. The hotel rooms upstairs still have Victorian details — layered window dressings, wainscoting, marble fireplaces.
Shaw says that when homeless people have a nice place to stay like this, they do better.
“Because people’s self-esteem is higher. It’s much harder to throw trash on the floor when the room looks beautiful like this,” Shaw says. “If it’s really squalid, there’s no incentive to behave.”
She says being downtown is also important. It’s easier for people to get to appointments, and it helps reduce stigma when people are integrated into the community.
“Lots of homeless people and people impaired with mental illness feel marginalized,” she says. “It’s important that folk get to come to a place where the value we place on them is expressed through the building.”
But Anne Marie Cesario, a retired social worker, says that’s not the way to combat stigma.
“That’s like using people as guinea pigs in order to further some liberal’s idea about consciousness raising,” she says. “It’s inappropriate.”
Cesario is one of several mental health professionals opposed to the downtown location. She says it’s not private enough, especially for people who suffer from paranoia.
“They don’t want to be seen when they go to the doctor. They don’t want to be seen when they go to the therapist,” she says. “That building is on one of the busiest corners in town, and it’s a four-way stop.”
She, and other members of the Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg, believe a more appropriate location would be the former social services building on the outskirts of town, near the hospital and police station. Or an old motel on Highway 1. Or a building 3 miles north of Fort Bragg.
Signs in the window of a downtown Fort Bragg business urge residents to sign a petition for a ballot measure that would prohibit social service agencies in the downtown area. (April Dembosky/KQED)
The Hospitality Center declined all those properties. And now the Concerned Citizens group is hoping voters will pass their ballot measure prohibiting social services in the downtown commercial district, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.
But even if the measure does pass, it’s unclear what impact it will have on the Old Coast Hotel. An analysis from the city attorney’s office says that, under legal precedents, the Hospitality Center would most likely be allowed to continue operating at the hotel. It would be grandfathered in under any new zoning rules as a “non-conforming use.”
“This will result in nothing but lawsuits,” says Scott Menzies, who runs a tai chi studio in town, and helped organize another group of small business owners, called Go Fort Bragg, who are against the ballot measure.
“The measure is so broad-reaching, it will cause far more collateral damage,” he says. “They’re using a cannon that targets every other social services organization in the business district.”
All the tension and fighting is frustrating for Debbie Gibney, a client of the Hospitality Center.
“I’m bipolar and I have post-traumatic stress syndrome, from being an abused wife,” she says. “I take medication and I see a therapist regularly.”
Gibney is 58. A few years ago, she was forced to retire early from her job. Then she lost her home. She got help at the Hospitality Center, and now she’s back on her feet, helping other homeless people at the Old Coast Hotel.
“I’m proud to walk in here,” she says. “Because of the beauty of the building, and the reception that we get here, and the way the staff accepts us and loves us unconditionally.”
At the agency’s previous location, in a strip mall near the DMV, clients had to wait in an alleyway for appointments. But since moving to the Old Coast Hotel, Gibney notices the clients are more relaxed and more respectful.
“We feel like we’re part of the city now,” she says.
(Courtesy, KQED-San Francisco)
JUDY VALADAO WRITES:
The Advocate News reached out to Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) Executive Director Anna Shaw this morning to get more information as to why MCHC has sent out notices for the last several days that the Extreme Weather Shelter (EWS) will be closed for the night. “She explained that there is an operational plan that was agreed upon with the county and all the participating agencies eight years ago, when the EWS was started. The operational plan states that the criteria for opening the shelter will include temperature, precipitation and wind chill factor as reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The specific temperature that is required for the EWS to be open is 36 degrees or below and/or wet. “It hasn't been cold enough or wet enough, per NOAA forecast, to open over the last few nights,” said Shaw. Historically, the EWS has been open for about 55 percent of nights between mid-November and mid-April, always triggered by qualifying NOAA forecasts. “The EWS costs around $250 per night to open, so there's no way to afford opening over and above agreed protocols, as much as we might like to do so,” she said. Current forecasts project a low of 36 degrees and showers for next Wednesday.”
I guess this means the homeless can look forward to sleeping indoors next Wednesday. Until then, they will just have to be cold and wet. The Old Coast Hotel is supposed to serve these very people so my suggestion is, open the door and let them in. They have sleeping bags and I’m sure would be more than happy to sleep on the beautiful hardwood floors. Anything to get them out of the cold for even one night would be better than nothing.
Fort Bragg has been duped in the biggest way possible on this entire deal and it’s going to take someone with a large set of gonads to admit it. I don’t see it happening. So what happens when a homeless person comes in because of mental health issues? They are counseled? By what qualified person? Then what, turned back out onto the street to sleep in the cold? That sure helps with treating mental illness. What a shame! I do hope the City of Fort Bragg reconsiders any idea or thoughts of pumping more money into this organization until it is made clear that everyone needing help is getting it.
Another quote by Ms. Shaw is “Part of it is simply that ‘not in my backyard,’ ” says Executive Director Anna Shaw. I think the more popular word used is “NIMBY”. Does Anna Shaw's not allowing the homeless to use restrooms after a certain hour or not having a portable potty on site for night use make her a NIMBY also? I would say she qualifies. I for one am sick of the name calling when all this group has to do is look in the mirror to see the true definition of the names they are calling others.
It’s all about money, it’s not about helping or the help would be there. Serving a hand full of people from a 1.2 million dollar building is beyond ridiculous. One homeless woman said she would be happy living in a storage container; after all it’s better than the nothing they are getting. So you get to do art, watch movies, play in the garden and learn Spanish. Then what? Decide if you will be sleeping on the beach or Johnson Park? Or perhaps Bainbridge Park? If all else fails there is always under the Noyo Bridge.
Yes, I am angry and I’m not alone. How can a Council be so blind not to see what happened here? Perhaps the money pocketed by the City makes up for the wrong done to the homeless? Mayor Turner apologized and said there should have been more meetings before the decision was made. I’m wondering if he meant more public meetings or more meetings with Anna Shaw and the Board. If he meant public meetings then I would suggest that he and the others make this situation right and not hand over more grants (we all know that is the plan).
Go ahead and call names if you must but also add that a lot of people in the Community of Fort Bragg are also ashamed of what has happened (or not happened) here. These grants are a short term financial fix for the City. Why not focus on a long term fix. Tourism perhaps would be a good place to start. Another Franklin Street business is moving out at this moment. At this rate how long will it be before nothing is left?
I for one would have respect for a Council who admits to their mistakes and admits they should have paid closer attention to such an important issue.
Let's not forget 1600 people asked them to listen.
Now $1.2 million is gone and more money will be asked for and still the homeless sleep in the cold and live on the streets. Shame on you Fort Bragg.
PATRICK PEKIN is a Fort Bragg attorney, fairly new to Mendocino County, who is running for a life sinecure as one of Mendocino County's 9 Superior Court judges — 9 judges for a population of 90,000 people, as we never tire of pointing out. Pekin has been quick out of blocks. He's already got a large roster of supporters, most of them charter members of Coast Lib: Lee Edmundson, Rachel Binah, Kendall Smith, the inevitable Jim Mastin who's working inland Mendo for the candidate, Steve Antler, even former Judge James Luther, who lists himself as "retired." (These guys never retire. They pad their lush pensions by "working" as visiting judges. Ol' Nelson out of Hopland is pushing 90 and he's still out there hustling as a visiting judge. Luther's about 80, if he's a day.)
PEKIN will be opposed by Ukiah defense attorney Keith Faulder who, so far, has been slow to get going, and when he gets going he better spend a lot of time out in Fort Bragg and on down to Gualala if he hopes to beat back MendoLib, and they're as formidable a pack of political hyenas as any anywhere. They keep close tabs on all the elected offices, public bureaucracies and non-profits, aggressively and relentlessly working to install themselves and their friends into the high pay-low effort, marginal skill positions.
COAST HOSPITAL BOARD PLANS PARCEL TAX TO BALANCE FUTURE BUDGETS
Something in the range of $125-$195 per parcel being considered
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF FIRE DISTRICTS is moving forward to pressure the Board of Supervisors to allocate a large chunk of the Prop 172 “public safety” sales tax revenue to the County’s 22 Fire Departments. This following is the current and supposedly nearly final draft of an initiative they plan to present to the Board of Supervisors and possibly the voters if the Board doesn’t enact it themselves.
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An Ordinance Requiring Allocation to Local Fire Agencies of Funds Transferred to the County from the Local Public Safety Fund
The Board of Supervisors of the County of Mendocino ordains as follows:
(a) The County receives disbursements from the State of California from the Local Public Safety Fund for public safety services in the County pursuant to the Local Public Safety Protection and Improvement Act of 1993, also commonly and popularly referred to as “Proposition 172.”
(b) The local agencies providing first responder fire protection services throughout the County of Mendocino (“Fire First Responder Agencies”) are essential public safety providers which are currently underfunded.
(c) Effective Fiscal Year 2016-2017, and each year thereafter, the Board of Supervisors shall allocate to Local Fire First Responder Agencies in the County a minimum of THIRTY (30%) PERCENT of the funds received from the State of California Local Public Safety Fund to fund public safety services. The foregoing described funds shall be distributed to the local first responder agencies as follows: (1) each agency shall receive a minimum distribution equal to two percent (2%) of the total funds allocated to the Local Fire First Responder Public Agencies; (2) the remaining funds shall be distributed to each Local Fire First Responder Public Agency pursuant to the ratio of population in each such Local Fire First Responder Agency’s service area divided by the total population of the unincorporated area of the County of Mendocino. Population shall be determined by reference to the most recent State of California census data.
(d) The allocation required herein shall be supplemental to any additional appropriation of discretionary funds made by the Board of Supervisors for fire protection, which additional appropriations shall be identified each year in a separate budget line item to promote transparency.
(e) This ordinance shall be deemed to be severable and would have been passed irrespective of whether the operation of any part is held by any court of competent jurisdiction to violate any statute or constitutional provision.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 19, 2015
JUSTIN BLAKE, Ukiah. Robbery, conspiracy.
JOY DAVIDSON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, resisting, probation revocation.
JEREMY JEFFERS, Talmage. Probation revocation.
LEUA KHAMVAN, El Dorado/Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale, sale-transport-furnish.
VERNON KNAPP SR., Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
MICHAEL LYONS, Ukiah. Unlawful possession or use of food stamps, perjury.
DEVYN MILLER, Redwood Valley. Rape of person under 18, lewd-lascivious with child under 14, domestic assault, false imprisonment, criminal threats.
DANIEL NOORDA, Ukiah. Pot sale-furnish-transport, offenses while on bail.
CARL SWANSON, Gualala. Probation revocation.
PHILIP VALLEY, Ukiah. Under influence.
KELLYMAY WATTS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
A READER WRITES: "I doubt anyone gets arrested for failure to pay a fine. The string of miscreants are the raw material that feeds the "just us" system which only benefits the highly paid judges and lawyers. Probation revocation usually means the perp, a meth addict for instance, got re-arrested for the same thing they were already on probation for. It is easier to prove a violation of probation than a new offense. But no matter how guilty, they are almost always back on the street within days. The jail functions more like a respite center that allows the chronic drunks and addicts a day or two to re-charge their batteries before they take another run at the windmill of life."
THE SWINGIN' BOONVILLE BIG BAND (Part of the Adult Ed. program in Anderson Valley) will be appearing at Lauren's Cafe in downtown Boonville, Sat. night, Dec. 5th. Show starts at 9 Pm. Come and celebrate the holidays with a night of great swing band entertainment.
DON’T SHOP BLACK FRIDAY; TAKE A (FREE) HIKE
Save the Redwoods and State Parks are offering free passes to 49 parks from Monterey to the Oregon border.
RUN, MONIQUE, RUN!
On November 13, 2015 at approximately 8:47 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office conducted a traffic stop on a 2007 Honda Accord for lighting and registration violations in the 76000 block of Henderson Road in Covelo, California. The Deputies contacted the driver, Monique Peters, 28, of Covelo, who initially provided them with a false name. When it became clear the name provided was not her real name she was asked to step outside the vehicle. Peters sped away from the Deputies resulting in a vehicular pursuit. The vehicle pursuit took a route from Henderson Road onto Mina Road, at one point reaching speeds of approximately 90 miles per hour. Peters continued to flee until she reached her residence in Hull’s Valley. Peters fled on foot into her house with Deputies following. Peters ran through the house and out the back door, tossing away a backpack as she ran. Peters was subsequently apprehended behind the house. The backpack was searched and found to contain approximately 1.6 pounds of bud marijuana, two hypodermic syringes loaded with suspected methamphetamine, a glass narcotics smoking pipe and a digital scale. After being captured, Peters was positively identified by Deputies and determined to have an active Mendocino County misdemeanor arrest warrant for possession of a controlled substance. Peters was arrested for evading in a vehicle, possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana for sale, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and false identification to a peace officer. Peters was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held on a no bail status.
HEADLINE in today's Ukiah Daily Journal that had me fast asleep by the end of 'tours.' Assemblyman Jim Wood tours Ukiah High School
CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN was in Willits to discuss pie in the sky, er, broadband in Mendocino County. Our link to the great outside is, to say the least, precarious — four outages over the past 18 months, leaving large swathes of the County without 911, cellphones or internet. The Mendo Coast was de-coupled for 44-hours in August 2014 after a truck hit a line on the Comptche-Ukiah Road. Nothing came of the meeting, and decent broadband in areas not already hooked up remains a dream.
UKIAH'S PALACE HOTEL BEFORE AMERICA LOST ITS WAY
A Ukiah history photo: This early postcard shows the Palace Hotel as it looked about 1915, with a balcony running across the State Street front of the hotel and along part of the Smith Street side. The brick, three-story hotel was built in 1891; by the time this photo was taken, the first addition to the Palace Hotel had already been constructed. (Photo courtesy of the Mendocino County Historical Society-from the Robert J. Lee Collection)
WALLY we hardly knew ye. Wally Clark, the sixth County librarian in 13 years, announced last week that he's taken an out-of-state job. County CEO Angelo says someone will be appointed as interim chief while Mendocino County launches it's usual "national search for excellence," a search that inevitably circles the globe before landing where it began — Ukiah, a hotbed of excellence.
Here's the Sheriff's Weekly 'Warrant Wednesday' subject
Anyone see Mark Ray ?
Mark William Ray is wanted on two felony warrants totaling $30,000 for battery of a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Height: 5' 9" Age: 36 years old . Hair: Black . Eyes: Brown . Weight: 200 lbs
If you have any information regarding his location, please call MCSO Dispatch at (707) 463-4086
ACCORDING TO A NEW SURVEY from the Pew Research Center, more Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since 2009. The study shows the overall flow of Mexican immigration into the U.S. is at its lowest since the 1990s. Additionally, Pew found the Mexican-born population in the U.S. declined to 11.7 million in 2014, down from 12.8 million in 2007. A majority of those who’ve left the U.S. since 2009 left on their own accord, and 61 percent of those who’ve returned to Mexico cited family reunification as their main reason. Only 14 percent said their departure was due to deportation. Many who left cited the recession and lack of jobs as a reason.
EL NINO TO THE RESCUE?
WHERE THE CLOUD RISES FROM THE SEA
The cable that connects the U.S. to the global Internet runs right next to a small coastal town in California. Why do so few of its residents have broadband?
by Ingrid Burrington
Imagine you're the kind of person who drives out to see submarine-cable landing sites for fun. This should not require too much imagination. We're talking about places in the world where the Internet rises out of the ocean. Of course you're the kind of person who wants to see that.
Now imagine you're in San Francisco. You have two options for landing sites to visit for a day trip. You can drive south to San Luis Obispo, where there are a few cable landings in close proximity to each other; or north, to Manchester, where there's only one landing for the Japan-U.S. Cable Network. Fate sends you to Manchester. “Fate” in this instance may mean a preference for really scenic drives.
I first learned about the Manchester cable in an excerpt from the cable station's internal company newsletter in a hacker magazine from 1995 found in the Prelinger Library in San Francisco. It made the station sound like a pretty cool place to work. I was particularly intrigued by the part about Floyd the technician, who “lives in his deluxe RV at the KOA during his work week.” Sadly, I didn't see a deluxe RV in the KOA when I drove up, or during any subsequent visits.
Here is what happens when you go to see this submarine-cable landing site: very little. The actual station is, like much critical network infrastructure, designed to be ignored. The fences and buildings obscured by shrubbery don't really scream “please call the intercom at the gate.” When you call the intercom at the gate, he will tell you, in an annoyed voice, that they don’t give tours. He will not tell you his name. It will be as thrilling as it sounds.
When AT&T first built the the Manchester Cable Station in 1956, it was referred to as the Point Arena Cable Station. Point Arena is the next town over from Manchester, and it’s where the continental U.S. is geographically closest to the Hawaiian Islands. This proximity was one of the primary motivations for placing the cable landing out here.
Point Arena has a population of less than 600 people and a Main Street that is, in fact, the main street in town. It is a town with a mix of people who moved to the area in the 1960s and 1970s to get “back to the land” and their now-jaded children, people who come from generations of local fishers, loggers, and farmers, and people who are likely to pack the bar on Main Street on Poetry Night. And, like many of the other towns around it, it's a town that has historically had pretty limited Internet connectivity, and very few options for even getting online.
Strands of unused, inaccessible fiber-optic cable are a painfully literal rendering of the digital divide.
The fiber-optic cable that emerges from the Manchester Cable Station — and the many other cables that converge in the area because of the submarine cable — mostly bypass residents in its immediate vicinity. According to the best estimates of the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County, roughly half of the 34,000 households in the county have only marginal or no broadband access.
The story of the Manchester cable and the struggle to bring connectivity to the Mendocino coast is in many ways a familiar story of digital divides in rural America, although it’s perhaps more rife with irony in its literal disconnect. Here, strands of unused, inaccessible fiber-optic cable running along the Pacific Coast Highway are a painfully literal rendering of the digital divide, and the political machinations that keep that divide in place.
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Historically, Point Arena's economy has primarily relied on fishing, logging, and agriculture. In the last 30 years, that economy has waned, and the area has been increasingly dependent on tourism (buoyed by the creation of the California Coastal National Monument in 2000). Between 1951 and 1998, Point Arena's economy was also supported by a small Air Force Station up on Eureka Hill Road. The Point Arena AFS was one of many bases rapidly built out in response to the Korean War, and maintained as a node in defense systems of the Cold War. Starting in 1960 it served as a radar station for the Air Force's Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), a computerized defense network that laid a lot of groundwork for the research and development that went into ARPANET.
The Point Arena Air Force Station has been closed since 1998. While it seems likely that the cable station was beneficial to the military outpost, I haven't found evidence that the two were explicitly connected. The presence of a SAGE radar station less than 20 miles from a submarine-cable landing station that was built within the same year SAGE became operational is more likely convenient coincidence than spooky conspiracy.
But it does lend some weird historical resonance to the cable station's most recent appearance in the news. In a joint investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times, the cable station was a key piece of evidence of AT&T's extensive cooperation with NSA surveillance of network communications — with the implication that the central tap on the Japan - U.S. cable was within this particular cable station.
* * *
While AT&T was apparently more than ready to accommodate the needs of Fort Meade's finest, it has generally had less enthusiasm for accommodating its neighbors living near the submarine cable. This also isn't particularly surprising — rural areas with sparse populations like Point Arena and Manchester tend to have a pretty low return on investment.
Back when submarine-cable networks were upgrading from coaxial to fiber, the idea of creating the infrastructure for fiber to the home wasn't exactly a top concern of either cable companies or consumers. In 1992, when AT&T trenched some new cables through the area, the biggest concern wasn't increasing network connectivity but the fact their method of directional drilling had discharged bentonite (a non-toxic but still environmentally harmful clay used as a drilling lubricant) into Point Arena Creek. AT&T ultimately settled over the drilling incident out of court.
The year 2000 offered an opportunity to connect the glut of buried fiber to the region when AT&T and Wiltel Communications (later absorbed into Level 3 Communications) tore up local roads to install more new cables. At the time, AT&T representatives dismissed the possibility of connecting the community for vaguely defined “technological reasons” and cost, estimating that to get Point Arena access to the transpacific cable it would cost $1 million just to build a switching facility and support facilities (there is a switching station in Manchester, owned by Level 3, but until recently almost no local providers could access it).
At the heart of the struggle over rural broadband is a question of whether the Internet is understood as a utility or as a product.
While the cost of building out Internet infrastructure is very high, it’s possible to get government support for it — but it’s not used that often. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) maintains the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to help bring broadband to underserved areas. Large incumbent telecoms don't really use it since they know they'll never really see full ROI. While smaller ISPs would like to use it, but according to the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County, they often don't — it’s a difficult application process that only covers capital costs. It also can only be used in underserved areas, but what constitutes a “served” area sometimes just means there’s fiber in the area, not that the fiber’s available to the public. If judged simply by the volume fiber in the ground, Point Arena is extremely well served, but most of that fiber remains dark or disconnected from residents.
Advocates hoped that the school system could be a conduit through which communities have been able to increase connectivity. Last year, as part of an FCC-run initiative, AT&T agreed to provide the Point Arena school district with broadband. While they did install a fiber line to the school, they gave the district merely a two-pair line — the bare minimum required for AT&T to fulfill the agreement, and barely enough capacity to serve both academic and administrative needs. These initiatives are well-intentioned, but as Trish Steel, the chair of the Broadband Alliance, pointed out to me, they often create “broadband silos” that give students Internet access at school, but leave their surrounding community disconnected and no way for students to do their homework once they go home.
At the heart of the struggle over rural broadband and digital divides in America is a question of whether the Internet is understood as a utility or as a product. Technically, because the Telecommunications Act of 1996 classified broadband as an “information service,” the CPUC doesn't actually have legal authority to regulate access to it or create consumer protections.
If we measure infrastructure in terms of ROI, of course it doesn't make sense to build out fiber to the home in Point Arena. By that measure, it also doesn't really make sense to build bridges. Or roads. Or aqueducts. Public goods tend to have pretty rotten ROI. And today in the United States, the Internet increasingly acts as a stand-in or scaffolding upon which social and civic institutions are expected to operate, placing public services on the backbone of privately held platforms.
Without an equivalent to the Rural Electrification Act for broadband, it's not clear how that scaffolding won't collapse in on itself.
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It's important to be clear that Point Arena isn't completely disconnected from the Internet — there are organizations and smaller ISPs that are doing their best to fill in the gaps.
The Point Arena Tech Center is one such organization. Housed within the Point Arena school district, it offers free Internet, tech support, and classes to the community during after-school hours.
Blake More, one of the founders of the Tech Center, was among the residents who wanted to see AT&T give residents access to the fiber network in 2000. She was a very early Internet adopter and advocate before moving to Gualala in 1997 — as a freelance writer, a dial-up connection meant freedom to work from anywhere. While she and fellow artists who had moved to the area from San Francisco advocated for access — advocacy that included driving up to the construction sites in a yellow-and-blue station wagon to ask workers questions, writing letters to AT&T, and producing a “Cyber Western” play about the cable. At the time, More recalls that “No one really gave a damn around here. We were just the crazy artists.”
When the tech center first opened in 2003, it was met with similar disinterest and skepticism — as More put it, they were “[providing] something that people didn't even know they wanted yet.” Gradually, as the Internet became an increasingly inescapable facet of commerce and communications, interest in the tech center’s services grew (More noted that the rise of Facebook tracks pretty closely to that rise in interest.) Today, it’s a beloved community resource.
Smaller ISPs continue to operate despite the difficult regional conditions. Steven McLaughlin, the editor in chief of the local paper The Independent Coast Observer, noted that the ICO still uses local cable provider Central Valley Cable. But many ISPs have come and gone, usually running into the same problems that keep larger telecoms away.
Wireless ISPs (WISPs) often seem like a promising workaround in rural areas — microwave can propagate signal really well (one reason they’re increasingly the preferred networks of high-frequency traders) and it’s relatively cheaper than trenching fiber. But wireless networks are only as solid as their fiber backhaul and expansion is limited by topography and line-of-sight.
Submarine cables are the ridiculous, naive, beautiful promise of a network in which we're all in this together, even across oceans.
Further Reach is a newer WISP currently serving the southern Mendocino coast. While they face the same challenges as past providers, they do have the advantage of having scored a fiber uplink in Level 3’s switching station in Manchester, guaranteeing a reliable and superfast backhaul. The company is the brainchild of Yahel Ben-David, an Israeli technologist and entrepreneur. Prior to Further Reach, he worked on broadband services in the Indian Himalayas, primarily serving the Tibetan exile community. He’s currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, and Further Reach extends a lot of work he’s done there on software - defines networks and rural connectivity.
Zean Moore, Further Reach's lead technician and a Mendocino County native, describes Point Arena as a town where “everybody knows everybody,” and he's probably the person most likely to know everybody in town who has any interest in or questions about computers. Growing up in Point Arena, Moore was “the computer kid.” “Anyone had a problem, even the teachers, I was the person to call — they wouldn't call the IT person or the network administrator from the school, they'd call me over.” Moore left Point Arena in 2009 to study computer science at UC Berkeley and worked for media and technology companies before returning to Point Arena and taking the job with Further Reach last year.
Moore's description of the company's first year is a reminder of how much physical labor goes into creating and maintaining digital networks, and why so many small ISPs in the region have struggled. Further Reach's fiber connection runs from the Level 3 switching station to Manchester Elementary — a distance of only about 1600 feet, but one that for various reasons had to be trenched largely by hand.
Today, Moore's day-to-day is dedicated to the various puzzles that come with installing and connecting residents. When he installs equipment at the homes of new subscribers, he often gives them his personal number in case they have any questions. “A lot of people here aren't accustomed to or comfortable with corporate customer-support systems,” he explains.
To Moore, improving connectivity is in some ways a matter of the community's survival. The older economic drivers of the area are changing, with some disappearing entirely. He sees a lot of good in the transformations a networked world has already brought to the area: Purchases that would otherwise require a four-hour round-trip drive are now next-day deliveries from Amazon, classes and training that might have required relocating are now online coursework, local artists and craftspeople who might have been limited to a smaller audience for their work can now expand their small businesses by selling wares online.
Some residents have resisted these changes, seeking to hold onto the area’s agricultural past, or having deliberately moved to the county to get away from technology. While Moore concedes that’s a valid perspective, it’s also one that “benefits the few.” In an increasingly connected world, logging off requires a tremendous degree of resources.
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Along the beach by the Manchester cable station, there's a piece of an old coaxial cable sticking out of a cliff wall. I'm not sure if it's the original HAW-1 connection from 1957 or some other abandoned cable. It looks like a pretty clean cut, as though the cable was severed intentionally, a message in a bottle (or, well, a cable) cut short. It is wrapped in now-rusted protective sheathing that makes it look similar to the seaweed that washes onto the beach.
Submarine cables are probably the piece of network infrastructure most easily subsumed by a kind of romantic idealism. To some extent this is just an inheritance of being Of The Sea, which has little to do with the mechanisms of the cable's ownership or politics. While the submarine cable's history and geographytends to follow empire and conquest (as do most telecommunications technologies), the sheer ridiculous gesture of it brings me a misplaced kind of hope. There is a comfort in the fiction that once, human beings so deeply believed in the value of being able to reach one another from far away that they proffered this vision of strands of copper and later, glass running across the ocean floor. As metaphor, submarine cables are the ridiculous, naive, beautiful promise of a network in which we're all in this together, even across oceans.
As reality, they're highly contested, political, and vulnerable spaces. In part, this is what is so compelling to me about Point Arena, about Mendocino county's digital divide and the Manchester submarine cable: It is a reminder that universal, inevitable connectivity is a promise that the largely privatized Internet created by the 1996 Telecommunications Act could never keep.
I don’t really know what it looks like to really fulfill that promise, whether it’s even realistic to believe it can be fulfilled, but if it can be it seems more likely to come from smaller-scale networks supporting regional need, rather than expecting AT&T to show up.
When I asked Zean about the impact he saw Further Reach making, he pointed out that Mendocino County’s story is not unique: “We're not the only ones in this situation. Our impact is more global in the sense that we're developing something that people can learn from and take what we've done and adapt it for their community.” It may lack the grandeur of a submarine cable, but it is a vision for the kind of Internet I’d much rather have than the systems that exist today.
(Courtesy, the Atlantic)
PUBLIC OPINION IN 1939
The new Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has taken action to ban hundreds of tankers carrying diluted bitumen extracted from oil sands in Alberta which would be sent by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship terminal. The terminal would be located on the north coast of British Columbia and referred to as the Northern Gateway project. The project is strongly supported by the British Columbia government and was also supported by former Prime Minister Harper.
I would offer some comments from my letter of May 29th to the AVA on some of the background. The plan was for the LNG terminal to be on the land of the Lax-kw'alaams First Nation located near Prince Rupert. This community is centered around salmon which they fish for every year and they are fearful of environmental damage to the salmon. They never have signed any treaties and therefore have to be consulted and accommodated when projects cross their land. So far they have refused the offers submitted to them.
The ban was a moratorium to block the project from continuing and makes official a non-binding motion the House of Commons passed in 2010.
It should be noted former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau over 40 years ago worked to pass an original ban involving the coastal waters north of Vancouver Island. The project was approved in 2014 upon review by the National Energy Board, contingent upon 209 conditions. This approval is being contested in the courts by First Nations and environmental groups. It is very difficult to forecast if the moratorium can be sustained, but it appeara as long as Justin Trudeau continues as Prime Minister the environment will be the winner.
In peace and love,
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“Read 'Milestones' by Sayyid Qutub. Not you, but anyone who really wants to know what they believe.”
I have read him and also found it fascinating that he was a college student in 1948 Greeley Colorado in the aftermath of WW2. One observation that I found interesting was the following:
”This small city of Greeley, in which I am staying, is so beautiful that one may easily imagine that he is in paradise. Each house appears as a flowering plant and the streets are like garden pathways. As one observes, the owners of these houses spend their leisure time in toil, watering their private yards and trimming their gardens. This is all they appear to do…”
”I stayed there six months and never did I see a person or a family actually enjoying themselves, even on summer nights when breezes waft over the city as if in a dream. The most important thing for these people is the tending of their gardens, much in the same way a merchant spends time organizing his store or a factory owner his factory. There is nothing behind this activity in the way of beauty or artistic taste. It is the machinery of organization and arrangement, devoid of spirituality and aesthetic enjoyment.”
”Everywhere there are smiles and everywhere there is a fun and on every corner hugs and kisses. But never does one see contentment on a person’s face. There is no indication of satisfaction in anyone’s heart.”
”Life is comprised of constant worry, constant work, constant yearning, the constant quenching of thirst and the effort to be on time.”
WHEN STADIUMS BECOME POTENTIAL KILLING FIELDS
by Dave Zirin
The terrorist attempt to enter the French National Stadium and kill thousands of innocent people was barbaric, contemptible, and absent of any humanity. But it wasn’t original. The shocking cruelty of attacking the crowded space where a multicultural, multiracial French national team won the 1998 World Cup doesn’t make it any less derivative. Sports arenas have long been attractive targets for terrorists to wage the kind of psychological war that carries an impact beyond a body count.
Stadiums swirl with connectivity, magic, and memories. At their worst, these memories are soaked in self-made smoothies of vomit and cheap beer and the only connections are between your wallet and the nearest cash register. “Magic” means getting out of the parking lot in less than an hour. It’s overpriced and gross, but usually with time and the right friends, a memory to be enjoyed all the same. But at their best, a stadium thrums with spectral vibrations containing every goal, basket, high five, and hug between strangers. You can feel a buzz, and when entering a new stadium absent of that history, you notice it.
To stain a sports arena with blood is to attack the idea that there could be a communal space defined by frivolous fun. In dictator Augusto Pinochet’s Chile, the stadium was chosen very consciously as a place to gather dissidents to interrogate, torture and kill them. It was where the Chilean military mutilated the hands, in full view of a captive crowd, of legendary folksinger Victor Jara. The message from the US-backed dictator was that there was no such thing as a safe space. I once studied in Chile, and I interviewed people who made it out of the stadium alive, if not intact. They speak about their own country’s stadium with hollowed eyes. Free World Cup tickets wouldn’t draw them back. Pinochet holds no patent in converting a stadium into a concentration camp. The list of dictators who saw its dual use is as long as the 20th century. From the fascist leaders in the Europe of the 1930s to Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya in recent years, stadiums became synonymous with death.
Then there are stadiums as targets of war. Palestine Stadium in Gaza City was bombed by the Israeli military on April 1, 2006, putting a crater at the heart of the 10,000 seat arena. FIFA attempted to rebuild the stadium after its investigation found that it was done “without any reason.” In November 2012, after six years of putting the stadium back together, it was bombed again by Israeli Defense Forces. This time the IDF claimed it was the site of missile launching. To attack and destroy this space, as I’ve argued before, is to attack hope.
Today the psychological fear that fans are the new “soft targets” has inexorably altered the experience of going to a game. It is no longer something centered around kids and we grownups trying to forget our headaches and act like kids for a few hours. Now getting into a sports arenas is an experience only slightly less invasive than a colonoscopy. It means you and your children are getting patted down, having your bags checked, being wanded while bomb-sniffing dogs make their way up and down the lines. At one game, my kid tried to pet the dog and we almost ended up kicked out to the curb. This wasn’t a petting zoo, we were told. This was for his protection. But it wasn’t for him.
And yet still we attend, with no stopping in sight. The $9 beers, the drunk fans, the knowledge that our tax dollars are paying for the enterprise have not stopped us. The trudging security lines that resemble a “First World Problem” version of a Soviet-era breadline won’t stop us either. The inconveniences for now are being are shunted aside as we hope against hope for a memory that will get us through the rest of the week. Yet finding those memories becomes more difficult as the real world encroaches on the sports world from all sides. The attackers and the protectors across the world have left these spaces disfigured, mangled, and scarred beyond what they were, with no evidence time will ever go backward. At some point we will need to decide whether to mourn their end or continue to try to breathe life into the ailing idea that there can ever again be a collective space to feel a collective joy.
SALMON MOVE INTO NIMBUS HATCHERY AS FOLSOM LAKE REACHES RECORD LOW LEVEL
by Dan Bacher
(Rancho Cordova) Nimbus Fish Hatchery workers have counted a total of 2,765 fall-run Chinook salmon, including 789 jacks and jills (two-year- old fish), at the facility since the salmon ladder opened Monday, Nov. 2
Considering the low flows of 500 cfs, this return is surprisingly good. Last year at this time the hatchery staff had counted approximately 2950 salmon, including 350 jacks and jills.
The other good news is that the water temperature on the river has cooled down 5 to 7 degrees over one week.
“The water temperature has gone down to 55 to 57 degrees, depending on which gauge you go by,” said Gary Novak, hatchery manager. “That’s phenomenal; last year the water temperature didn’t cool down to this temperature until the middle of November.”
The hatchery has spawned salmon three times to date. Novak noted that many of the fish at the facility are still “green,” not ready for spawning yet.
The 300,000 juvenile steelhead that will be released into the river system next February have also returned to the hatchery, after spending the summer at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, due to high water temperatures at Nimbus.
A record low number of Central Valley steelhead, listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, returned to the American River in January, February and March of 2015 and December of 2014. Only 143 adult steelhead returned to Nimbus Fish Hatchery during this time. In good years, the hatchery has trapped between 2000 and 4000 adult steelhead.
Folsom Lake is currently at a record low level of 139,982 acre feet of water, only 14 percent of capacity and 29 percent of average. The water level is 350.16 feet above sea level, 115.84 feet from maximum pool.
Over the last three years of drought, the Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources systematically drained Folsom Lake on the American River, Lake Oroville on the Feather River, Lake Shasta on the Sacramento River and Trinity River on the Trinity River to export water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in Kern County.
Because of mismanagement of the Central Valley and Trinity River reservoirs and the Delta during the drought, Sacramento winter-run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species are getting closer and closer to the dark abyss of extinction. If preliminary figures released by the National Marine Fisheries Service in late October are confirmed, this would be the second year in a row that nearly all of the juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon perished in lethally warm water conditions on the Sacramento River, due to the over-appropriation of water to agribusiness.(http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article41684160.html )
Other fish species have also declined dramatically, due to massive water exports from the Delta and mismanagement of the reservoirs. The fall midwater trawls surveys conducted annually by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, American shad and Sacramento splittail have declined 97.80%, 99.70%, 99.98%, 97.80%, 91.90%, and 98.50%, respectively, between 1967 and 2014, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).
Tea Around The World
On Saturday December 5, at 1:30 p.m. the Mendocino County Library, Fort Bragg Branch is hosting Tea Around the World.
Join us for a trip around the around the world with tastings of nine different teas and learn a little about tea traditions and culture all around the world. There will even be a drawing for a special tea related prize. For more information, contact Elizabeth at the Fort Bragg Branch Library.
First Friday Art.
The Fort Bragg Branch Library will once again have a fun art event in conjunction with First Friday Art in Fort Bragg. The first Friday in December at 5pm we will be making Holiday Cork Wreaths. Everyone who attends the event on Friday December 4th will make their own fabulous wreath to take home. These wonderful wreaths are all made out of wine corks and decorate with holiday berries, holly and ribbon. This is a fun filled event and a chance for adults to get together make a craft and then enjoy the rest of the evening experience Fort Bragg’s First Friday Art Walk. Stop by the Fort Bragg Branch Library on Friday December 4th at 5pm and make a Holiday Cork Wreath.
Dance Around the World with Nikola Clay
On Saturday, December 5th, at 1 p.m., we will sing, laugh, and dance and experience the joy and magic of the season! We’ll sing and dance to songs like Jingle Bells, learn Sevivon, the spinning dreidel dance, and find a partner for some happy feet dancing to the Penguin Dance, and more!
Fun for the whole family!
Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.
Two Days of Star Wars.
On Friday, December 11th from 2-5 pm and Saturday, December 12th starting at 2 pm, the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch is hosting Two Days of Star Wars.
On Friday, December 11th from 2-5 pm the Ukiah Library will be crafting Star Wars T-Shirts. There is limited space, sign-ups required in advance. On Saturday, December 12th the Ukiah Library will be hosting a Star Wars crafting hour followed by costume, Chewbacca noise contests, and a viewing of one of the original Star Wars movies to prepare for the upcoming Star Wars movie release.
Questions, call 707-463-4490.