- Ortner Denounced
- Press Same-o-crat
- Raise Discussion
- Timber Claims
- Cellphone Mugging
- Roach Clip
- Assessing JHK
- Christmas Singalong
- Yesterday's Catch
- American Tolerance
- Gardens Giving
- Culinary Class
- American Politicians
- Climate Deal
- Klamath Agreements
- Drought Bill
PLEASE NOTE the below letter from dozens of professional medical staff at the County's three hospitals confirming what everyone here has been saying since a good part of the County's mental health services were privatized. It's not working. Where it used to take County mental health workers hours to evaluate 5150s at the various emergency rooms, thus making the cops wait around until the workers showed up, Ortner's workers — Ortner's the guy the County gave our mental health system to, gifting him about $8 mil a year — show up fast to simply say, “This guy's ok. Soon as you get him down off the ceiling, he's good to go.” Or, more likely, they say, “Take him to jail. We don't want him.” Ortner, natch, as a businessman, keeps services to a minimum to make as much money as he can off defenseless people. If the Supervisors were capable of shame, they might be. Shamed, that is.
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LOCAL DOCTORS DENOUNCE ORTNER
(Submitted and presented to the Board of Supervisors by Dr. Ace Barash of Willits Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.)
I speak on behalf of Mendocino County physicians and health professionals in addressing the current system of providing mental health care. The overall feeling is one of frustration and disappointment having to do with availability of services and lack of integration by the current provider, Ortner Management Group. The areas of insufficiency concern outpatient services, hospital relations, and the types of services currently emphasized.
When asked regarding the overall quality of mental health care, a frequent response is that it is “a little bit better” than it used to be before the engagement of the current provider about two and a half years ago. I think that this is true, when it comes to promptness of mental health facility treatment for those determined to be a danger to self or others. In fact, this was one of the initial objectives in engaging Ortner Management Group at the outset and this they do reasonably well due to their owning and maintaining facilities in other counties in which patients may be treated.
The problems stem from their overall concentration on this class of patients and the fact that, with our progressively increasing lack of infrastructure, we have negligible means of stabilizing patients before they arrive at such an intensity.
The availability of local mental health services for the patients of our county has deteriorated markedly, outpatient and day treatment, respite care, and necessary local programs. This is definitely not better than previously (examples: people with licenses available, programs available). Studies have shown that patients treated earlier may be prevented from arriving at the level of dangerous intensity, i.e., 5150 by 97%, that is, only three percent of those dealt with early progress to “danger to self and others.” This has been widely recognized in recommended provision of best practices (what is government article that asks why CRT isn’t being done more widely?)
Further, our mental health services are being provided by an outside contractor, who cannot be expected to have the same degree of concern about our local patients and personnel as those who have lived for many years locally. There has been friction and disagreements between the managing group and our own facilities that seems to highlight their status as “outsider.” This has escalated to a level of a lack of trust and confidence in the provision of services. This is a very serious aspect in deterioration of our local mental health services, the lack of collegiality and collaboration between OMG and our own providers.
Availability of talent and heart abounds in local residents who might potentially be providing Mendocino County mental health care; we have a lot of available resources. These are, unfortunately, beginning to atrophy, due to the palpable lack of inspiration which currently predominates the mood of services.
The problems that we have had in years past, in fact are currently surmountable with adequate planning and wider participation. Certainly, it would be necessary to build adequate oversight into such a system, through a contract that provides for checks and balances. Possibly this would be accomplished by allowing the mental health board more power and actual participation in administering the provision of services. Alternatively, a committee could be formed composed of county doctors and a fiscal officer that would report to the board every quarter. They should be aware of all of the details regarding budget activities and given the power to approve or disapprove from an informed standpoint. Any provider of services must be bound by a contract that holds them accountable and an agency that oversees their activity.
We health care providers of Mendocino County feel that it is still within our reach to develop a mental health care system of which we can be proud that would also be within reach of our budget. However if we continue on the current trajectory, we don’t believe this can ever be achieved.
SIGNED by over 50 front-line doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practioners and a few other professionals at Mendocino County’s three hospitals in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg.
Signed: Dawn Magdelin-Betts, MD ; Jeremiah Dawson, MD; Judy Lemke, FNP; Anne Robinson, ACNP; Irene Forrest, NP-BC; Valerie Takes, ACNP-BC; William Bowen, MD; D. Mills Matheson, MD; Angus Matheson, MD; Elizabeth Whipkey-Olson, DO; Candice Dolbier, DO; Carla Longchamp, MD; Alejandro Casillas, MD; Monte Lieberfarb, MD; Michael Medvin, MD; Bruce Andich, MD; Samuel Martissius, MD; Lynn Meadows, PA; Mary Newkirk, MD; Leslee Devies, DO; Gary DeCrona, MD; Lynn Coen, MD; Mimi Doohan, MD; Jorge Allende, MD; Walter Bortz, MD; Charles Evans, MD; Marvin Trotter, MD; Terrence Tisman; Kari Paoli; Keilah Miller; Andrea McCullough, MD; Tambra Baker; Peggy O’Reilly, MD; Steven Dagenais; Brendon Smith; Tedd Dawson, MD; Brendan Begley, DO; Betty Lacy, MD; Rebecca Timme, DO; David Ploss, MD; John Glyer, MD; Kim Faucher, MD; Rick Bockmann; Mark Luoto, MD; Gary Fausone, MD; Charles Hott, MD; Anne Retallic, FNP; Robert Pollard, MD; Ace Barash, MD; Harry Matossian, MD; Cotti Morrison, FNP; Suzanne Hiramatsu, MD; Eli Weaver; Megan Collison; Robin Serrahn, MD; Tamaki Kimbro, MD; Aaron Stauffer; Helen Remey, RN; Tammie Bain
THAT BIG HOORAH a couple of weeks ago from the Press Democrat about how they were going to do a big revamp with more local stories? The paper looks exactly the same and reads just as sparse and dumb.
COMMENTS FROM last Tuesday’s discussion of proposed big pay raises for the Sheriff and DA.
Supervisor Tom Woodhouse, explaining why he supported and sponsored a big raise for the Sheriff and District Attorney: “We are the ones elected by the people who make the tough decisions, and everything isn’t fair and everybody doesn’t get paid the same amount and we can’t just go by a percentage thing that — and I’m not trying to be offensive, but when you give everybody the same thing like communism it doesn’t work, in capitalism people are paid different amounts and life isn’t equal for all of us. You hopefully have opportunity to earn more money. Thank you for watching this process and I hope we can come to something.”
(Supervisor Woodhouse must be unaware that all five Supervisors get the same pay regardless of how much time they put in, how sensible or non-sensible they are, or how responsive they are to their constituents.)
Supervisor Carre Brown: “I have no problem with 5%. While I highly respect the Sheriff and the District Attorney I can not ethically do for them [Woodhouse’s large pay increase proposal] what this board has not been able to do financially, and that’s restoring wages for all other County employees and I do understand what Mendocino County pays. I see it across the organization. All employees are earning less than most counties throughout this state and that includes Supervisors, across all the positions. We’re still in financial trouble, we look at our burden that we owe, this county owes, with pensions and I don’t know where I’m going to fall on this. I want to listen to my colleagues. I do feel that I can’t support this and I feel badly.”
Supervisor Dan Gjerde explained that the Board has tried to be consistent among bargaining groups, and that “pension debt does hang over the county,” adding that other bargaining units want salary restoration and parity too. But, “for every dollar in salary, the County is paying another 70 cents in benefits. With some employees the ratio is even higher, but that’s an average of all county employees. If you look at the private market here, the most generous private employers in Mendocino County tell me — the ones who have healthcare, who have 401k plans — they spend about 35 cents for every dollar. Other employers are spending less than that for every dollar in salary. Mendocino County on average is spending 70 cents and it’s growing because the pension obligation costs continue to grow. That’s weighing in on us. That’s the reason those wages have not gone up more. If we could swap some of the benefit costs in exchange for higher salaries we would do it. … There are people who can work for Mendocino County for 30 or 40 years and retire and receive more take home pay in retirement than in their last year of payment. Why? Because once you hit 30 years of public employment in Mendocino County you stop contributing towards the pension plan and keep in mind the employee is paying about $1 for every $4 the county pays for the pension plan. But they stop paying after 30 years of public service here in Mendocino County. You work for the state of California and you pay every year until you retire. Not here in Mendocino County. In addition, when you retire you get social security. So when you retire in Mendocino County you get both the pension and Social Security. Your take home pay after 30 or 35 years of service is higher than your last day of service. Tell me any other person in the regular world who that’s the case for? So that is why salaries are suppressed. It’s no secret.” Gjerde added that if they do approve the raise it should only be 5% cost-of-living raise each for the Sheriff and DA and any additional increase should only be through the current term which would make it consistent with a few other specialized employees in other bargaining units.
Supervisor John McCowen: “We heard very clearly today from the Sheriff that he intends to run again. I believe that if we adjust the compensation, that the District Attorney would stay and would run for another term… He’s not nodding his head, however. He’s sitting there poker-faced. So I guess we’ll do whatever we’ll do and so will he. I wish he hadn’t been quite so coy earlier. When I was talking with him it seemed clear that if we did not approve a significant raise, to approximately $153,750, that did seem to be the bottom line… Frankly many of our employees have special training, degrees, qualifications, decades of experience, so that’s true for probably hundreds of our employees to one degree or another. The District Attorney is a key position in law enforcement, a key position in County government, and I don’t want to be in the market for a new district attorney.” … “I do think if we increase the compensation he will run for another term.”
Supervisor Dan Hamburg: “I’m not really comfortable with establishing a salary for an individual. I think what we do is we establish salaries for positions. I think it’s unprecedented that we establish salaries for a particular individual, and as long as this individual is in this job we’ll pay this much, but as soon as he leaves we’re going to put it at something else.”
McCowen: “We lose however we go on this. We take the heat for granting an extraordinary increase or we take the heat for having to be in the market for a new DA. That’s what I really don’t want to do. The repercussions if Mr. Eyster were to pursue other opportunities that were available to him and there is a number of them: He could run for judge, he could go into private practice, he could actually take a job as an assistant in another county and make considerably more money for a 40 hour week. … I won’t be the Supervisor who watches this District Attorney walk out the door for $15,000 or $20,000. … I’m just very concerned that we lose an exceptional district attorney for a few thousand dollars. I would support 5% permanent increases for the Sheriff and DA and an additional 11% for the DA and that would give us a somewhat improved chance that we would retain the DA.”
* * *
Brown: “Just as we were taking a break to get the sound back there was a procedural question so I’d like to go to County Counsel.
County Counsel Kit Elliott: “At this point we’ve had an amended motion and there’s been a second and so the question is, does that have to go out for public comment. Since we had a specific resolution on the agenda summary which we are now voting on something that’s different than that original resolution, it probably would be safer to put that back out there for public comment. But I think that’s up to the Board. Again, the item has been noticed in terms of it being a salary discussion.”
McCowen: “I disagree emphatically that there’s any need to take additional public comment because the action that is before the Board now is within the scope of what was noticed to the public and it actually provides for a lesser increase than what was noticed to the public so there’s absolutely no requirement that we open it back up again for public comment.”
Elliott: “For clarification, I was saying… It’s not… I don’t… I… You… I am in agreement with that. I don’t think it’s required. I’m just giving you have the option. So…”
* * *
THE BOARD voted unanimously to approve 5% raises for the Sheriff and the DA plus an 11% supplemental increase for DA Eyster which will sunset at the end of the DA’s current term of office.
PS. THE BOARD could save a lot of time discussing procedural questions if they left County Counsel out of the discussion and simply followed historical precedent: 1. Ask John McCowen. 2. If there’s a question about what the Board can do, the answer is: They can do it. 3. If there’s a question about what anybody else can do: They can not do it.
CORRECT ME if I'm wrong and the odds are… You look at these timber prospectuses that claim the land they're selling can yield something like 21,200 board feet per acre, but isn't that seemingly large figure derived by including all those big trees in areas that can't be logged? Spotted owl set asides? Stream zones? Seed trees? Lots of Mendo timberland yields far less than the rosy board feet figures in the sales pitches because our forests were absolutely hammered by L-P and G-P as they did a quick cash-in and ran off with the money and jobs that once sustained the County. Do the latter-day buyers of our timberlands do basic due diligence? If you own timberland that's really making you 7-10 percent return, as you claim in the sales brochures, are you going to sell it?
LADIES, PLEASE! IT'S THE HOLIDAY SEASON.
On December 1, 2015 at approximately 2:00 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a possible physical assault in the 1800 block of North State Street in Ukiah. When Deputies arrived they contacted an adult female who stated she had been assaulted by two females and that they had stolen her cellphone after the assault. The two suspects were identified as being Maria Gonzalez, 21, of Ukiah, and Alison Marie Sanchez, 42, of Willits. Deputies learned that the adult female was walking along the sidewalk area in the 1800 block of North State Street when the two suspects drove up in a black vehicle, exited and confronted her about a previous encounter they all had. The adult female was then attacked by Gonzalez and was taken to the ground where Sanchez then physically took possession of the adult female’s cell phone. An arrest BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for both Gonzalez and Sanchez for robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime.
On December 2, 2015 at approximately 7:00 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received information from an anonymous person that both Gonzalez and Sanchez were in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah. Deputies subsequently located and arrested Sanchez and Gonzalez without incident for criminal conspiracy. Both were booked into the Mendocino County Jail where Gonzalez was to be held in lieu of $155,000 bail and where Sanchez was to be held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
THE INTELLIGENCIA AS BATTERING RAM
To the Editor & Tom Quinn,
Hello Tom, you seem to specialize in tangents; I never said a word about one having to get face to face with Kunstler to be able to criticize him in print. Clearly a ridiculous idea. Within the context of our discussion my mention of a face to face was obviously in reference to JHK offering to discuss his supposed sins in public with the offended cowards who as of my writing had refused to even respond. It's a good idea to keep all the letters in front of you to keep it all straight.
You speak of me having to "muster courage" to take you to task for daring to criticize JHK. My oh my, what a warrior I am, or a fool. Don't flatter yourself. Courage has nothing to do with informed opinion or reliance on one’s own grasp of reality.
You completely missed the point of my "side track" about Zappa and Chomsky. The Middle East was not the point at all. They were brought up as examples of sanctimonious attempts at censorship by the frightened mainstream.
Would a reactionary racist really spend a good part of his life trying to improve urban life, which after all is highly populated by not white people? Would a blatant bigot want to defend his views publicly in a hostile forum?
One of us is way off base in our assessment of JHK. I hope it's not me, but will stand corrected if I learn otherwise. I hope you're willing to do the same. If I had to guess I'd say that you are prejudiced against JHK for some of his long standing and very vocal critiques of our sick society. And especially his not forgivable stance on the gasoline powered madness called personal mobility that has clearly made an ugly disaster out of our cities, towns, and landscapes.
CHRISTMAS CAROL SING ALONG with Lynn Archambault. Saturday, Dec. 19 — 8:30 pm. at Lauren's Restaurant. It's Free
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 15, 2015
JAMES BROWN, Redwood Valley. Trespassing.
LEONARDO CASTRO, Winsdor. DUI.
SILVIANO GONZALES, Talmage. Lewd/lascivious on child under 14, sexual penetration on child under 14 by force or fear, unlawful sexual intercourse with minor under 16 and with person under 14 with age difference of more than ten years.
SPENCER HARVEY, Garberville/Ukiah. Reckless drivingm failure to appear.
JUSTIN HILL, Willits. Controlled substance.
WILLIAM HOLT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL KNIGHT, Ukiah. Petty theft.
FERNANDO LOPEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ERIC OLECIK, Ukiah. Under influence.
TERRIE RICKMAN, Philo. Under influence, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
FROM DEEP SOUTH
But there are obstacles to travel in the United States, or at least obstacles to penetrating the country. We are a naturally welcoming people, but with too strenuous a response from the stranger, the welcome wears off, it shreds, it cools, it vanishes and becomes wary and reluctant. We are full of opinions, but we are temperamentally inhospitable to opposition or to searching questions — and the best traveler has nothing but questions. Americans will talk all day, but they are terrible listeners and have an aversion to probing or any persistent inquisitiveness by a stranger.
Americans share with the simple furrow-browed villagers in the folk societies of the world a deep suspicion of personal questions. We say we tolerate dissent, but the expression of a strongly held contrary view and render you undesirable, or even an enemy. A difference of opinion is often construed as defiance. You would not know that from our obsessive self-congratulation and our boasts of liberty and freedom. New Americans, refugees, people fleeing the horrors and tyrannies of their homelands, who have come to the United States for its freedoms, are often the most narrow-minded and censorious. We tolerate difference only when we don’t have to look at it or listen to it, as long as it doesn’t impact our lives.
Our great gift as a country is its size and its relative emptiness, its elbow room. That space allows for difference and is often mistaken for tolerance. The person who dares to violate that space is the real traveler.
— Paul Theroux
LAKE COUNTY GIVING PROJECT IN FULL SWING at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Are you looking for the perfect way to fill your home with cheer and spread a little joy and beauty this holiday season? Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is asking visitors, members of the Gardens, and local community to help support Lake County as they rebuild from the 2015 summer fires. The Gardens will aid in replanting the 76,067 acres and approximately 7 million trees consumed by the Valley Fire with native plants and seeds donated by participants in the Lake County Giving Project.
Consider a potted conifer, other native tree, or foundation landscape plant to enjoy in your home now; then donate your purchase back to help revegetate wildfire-affected areas of Lake County. Nursery on the Plaza’s selection of conifers and California native trees and shrubs offer superb winter interest for holiday decoration. You will be giving yourself a gift to enjoy now, and passing that gift for others to enjoy in perpetuity. After the holidays, drop your live, potted plant off at Nursery on the Plaza at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens for donation to the Gifting a Tree Project (https://www.facebook.com/Valleyfiregiftingatree). Cobb Mountain resident Kathy Blair created this program in an effort to “bring some greenery and life back for those who are rebuilding.” Just deliver your live, potted plant to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens by January 10, 2016 to participate in the project. Your plant will be transported to residents of Lake County.
The Garden Store at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens offers another unique way to give back. The Store is taking donations of one dollar, or more, toward Wild Jules Crafted Seed Balls (http://www.wildjules.com). The money raised will purchase Crafted Seed Balls to be used by the U.S Forest Service for habitat restoration in fire-ravaged areas. “It’ll take many years but every bit counts,” said Julie Kelly, founder of Wild Jules. Seed Balls provide one of the easiest methods for spreading native foundation landscape plants, grasses, and wildflower varieties. Individual varieties of seed are proportionately mixed with red clay and compost making planting simple. They truly are the perfect vehicle for revegetation efforts in Lake County.
The Gardens, Nursery on the Plaza, and The Garden Store are located at 18220 North Highway 1, two miles south of Fort Bragg and seven miles north of Mendocino. The Gardens are open daily during the winter (Nov–Feb; excluding Christmas Day) from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. There is never an admission fee to shop at the Nursery or Garden Store. For more information on Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens or the Lake County Giving Project, visit www.gardenbythesea.org or call 707-964-4352 ext. 16.
COLLEGE CULINARY ARTS COURSE
Here's an amazingly fun way to support your local community college. Take Beginning Culinary Arts from Amy Valla next semester. It's Wed and Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:50 pm, beginning around the end of January. My husband and I took this course from Amy last year and had a great time. It's serious, academic preparation for working in any kitchen, but Amy has a great way of meeting the needs of the "for fun" students and the "serious" academic ones. It was a fun experience and what a joy it was being in class with students just starting out and seriously pursuing a career. Highly recommended. Catch this opportunity while you can. FREE TUITION FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS!! Barbara Rice
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
You are right, American politics is akin to a patient checking into a hospital for an angioplasty and settling for an Incan tattoo and a pierced nostril! American politics has mutated into a state of retardation that defies reason. It has become similar to an opening for a structural engineer having candidates tested for their tap dancing abilities and choosing the winner on this performance alone. Elected American representatives are in charge of a huge and powerful military, yet the majority of them have NO military experience or expertise. They are charged with building and maintaining America’s infrastructure yet they could not even build their own shed. They are tasked with regulating America’s banking and financial industries, yet the only thing they know about money is how to take it without earning it. The “pool” of possible representatives is actually a cesspool of talentless schmucks, sellout, liars and cowards. What value could they possibly have when there was work to be done? This nation is doomed because it is controlled and lead by scum, plain and simple.
PARIS CLIMATE DEAL: FOLLOW THE MONEY
by Mark Hertsgaard
Climate change has always been about money, but the Paris agreement has a chance to change where money will flow, how quickly, and in what quantities.
Not sure what really happened at the Paris climate summit over the weekend? Did we save civilization? Or screw it?
As you sort through the post-summit spin, here’s a central fact to keep in mind. When it comes to climate change, the United States is both an outlier and the ultimate insider.
It’s an outlier because it is the only major country where denial of climate science is still taken seriously by powerful forces in politics, government, and the media. This reality, which leaves the rest of the world alternately shaking its head and gnashing its teeth, sharply constrained the ambition of any agreement the Obama administration could commit to in Paris.
At the same time, the United States is the ultimate climate insider because it’s the No. 1 global warming polluter on Earth. Yes, yes, China emits more heat-trapping greenhouse gases on an annual basis, but the atmosphere cares about emissions over time, and here the US remains well ahead. The US has ranked among the world’s leading producers of oil and gas for decades; its 20th-century rise to superpower status was powered largely by its access to cheap, abundant fossil fuels. Like any petro-state, the US is a climate insider because it accounts for so much of the problem.
That climate outlier-insider nature has everything to do with what the Paris summit did and did not accomplish, as illustrated by an impassioned speech I watched Secretary of State John Kerry deliver last Tuesday to a standing room-only press conference.
After some opening pleasantries and scene setting, Kerry plunged into substance and began discussing—what? The policy specifics of the US position in Paris? The intended news peg of the speech, Kerry’s announcement of $800 million in aid to developing countries to help them cope with sea level rise, worsening droughts, and other climate impacts that can no longer be avoided?
No, Kerry focused on climate change deniers. He began by trying to make a joke: “My friends, these people are so out of touch with science, they believe that rising sea levels don’t matter, because in their view, the extra water is just going to spill out over the sides of a flat Earth.”
Nobody laughed, but I don’t think the problem was simply Kerry’s earnest delivery. It was also that many of the journalists in the room were from other countries, and most other countries stopped heeding climate deniers not just years but decades ago. Nevertheless, Kerry soldiered on, addressing his next seven paragraphs to “those who may still question the 97 percent of peer-reviewed studies on climate change.”
Though bizarre from an international perspective, this rhetorical approach made a certain sense in the US context, and a secretary of state can hardly be blamed for caring about the US context. Climate deniers dominate the Republican Party; the Republican Party holds majorities in both houses of Congress; the Senate in particular could block any Paris agreement that could be legally classified as a treaty.
Thus the Paris agreement ended up a confounding hybrid.
On one hand, it contains soaring, even unprecedented, pledges to fix the problem. It commits the world’s governments to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue even the 1.5 degrees goal that poor and especially vulnerable countries demanded. (After all, low-lying island states are already disappearing under rising sea levels after “only” 1 degree Celsius of temperature rise, while vast swaths of Africa and Central Asia have been enduring record droughts and floods.)
These audacious goals will be achieved by de-carbonizing the global economy “as soon as possible” and in any case by the second half of this century. That pledge in turn means that oil, gas, and coal—which collectively provide more than 80 percent of humanity’s energy today—must be abandoned, a stunning departure from business as usual. These and other aspects of the Paris agreement are why boosters have a point in calling it a “historic” breakthrough.
On the other hand, these pledges are not binding, and the Paris agreement lacks a convincing road map for delivering on its lofty goals. The emissions reductions pledged by individual countries, even if fully implemented, would result in temperatures rising by roughly 3 degrees Celsius, a suicidal amount. And the only means of enforcing these voluntary pledges will be public shaming by civil society and the rest of the international community.
What’s more, most of the reductions are not scheduled to begin until 2020, even though scientists have warned that global emissions should peak by 2020 if we want to have a good chance of preserving the cryosphere—the snow- and ice-covered regions of the earth, which are melting at terrifying speed. (Lose the Greenland ice sheet and we ensure roughly 20 feet of eventual sea level rise; lose the West Antarctic ice sheet and it’s 80 feet.)
Nor does the Paris agreement provide anywhere near enough financial aid so that developing nations can do what’s necessary: reject coal and other dirty energy options in favor of solar, wind, and climate-friendly alternatives even as they prepare for the climate impacts certain to increasingly punish them in the years ahead by erecting sea defenses, improving weather forecasting capacities, and strengthening water supply and health systems. The agreement simply reiterates a commitment wealthy countries made at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate aid by 2020; it promises to begin increasing such aid in 2025, though by an unspecified amount.
Compared to the scale of the problem facing poor and vulnerable countries, even $100 billion a year “is peanuts,” as UN climate chief Christiana Figueres conceded in Paris. And since wealthy countries to date have not mobilized even that $100 billion, governments and civil society groups in poor countries are understandably unsatisfied with these elements of the Paris accord.
The terrible irony is that the final Paris agreement is at once a disastrous disappointment and probably the best that could have been achieved, given the effective veto power that climate deniers in the US exercised over the process. The agreement almost certainly would have been more ambitious had the Obama administration not had to craft it to avoid a certain veto by Senate Republicans.
Kerry admitted as much in Paris, albeit usually behind closed doors. “He said he wished that we could include specific dates and figures for emissions cuts and financial aid [to developing countries], but he explained this could trigger a review by the U.S. Senate that could scuttle the entire agreement,” a delegate from a Mediterranean country told me, requesting anonymity because his government is a US ally.
Last Friday, as the negotiations approached their final 24 hours, the Chinese vice foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, told a press conference, “The US secretary of state said that his government would face domestic difficulties if [specific emissions targets and timetables] are included in the Paris agreement.” Liu added, “We must have the United States on board for a successful Paris agreement. We need to find a solution that is acceptable to all.”
My request for comment from the US delegation’s press office received no response.
Bottom line? The Paris agreement is an amazing achievement that could herald the end of the fossil fuel era, but only if civil society in all its forms pushes governments and corporations the world over to act with unprecedented speed and ambition to go beyond its voluntary and insufficiently bold provisions.
Climate activists are already promising to invoke the 1.5 degrees target to block every new oil pipeline, fracking operation, and other type of fossil fuel infrastructure that gets proposed. Business and finance arguably will play the most decisive role. Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin, led a group of CEOs who pledged in Paris to make their own companies carbon neutral by 2050, a trajectory they said was consistent with 1.5 degrees. “It’s actually just not that big a deal,” said Branson, but he emphasized that investors and entrepreneurs “need clear long-term goals set by governments this week.” Time will tell whether the Paris agreement sends that market signal strongly enough.
Of course, while the end of the fossil fuel era would be good news from the perspective of preserving a livable planet for our children and their children, it amounts to a death sentence for the fossil fuel industry as constituted. Climate deniers in Congress may have been the immediate reason why the U.S. delegation didn’t support a stronger agreement in Paris, but it is the ExxonMobils and Koch brothers of the world who command the allegiance of those climate deniers.
“Rather than blame Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, who I think understand the climate crisis and want to do what they can to reach a just agreement in Paris, we should blame Charles and David Koch, because it is their funding of climate deniers in Congress that has made it impossible for the US to be more ambitious at this summit,” said Victor Menotti, director of the International Forum on Globalization, a nongovernmental organization in San Francisco.
It’s the oldest rule in politics: Follow the money. Climate change has always been about money, but the Paris agreement has a chance to change where money will flow, how quickly, and in what quantities. If civil society and political leadership can make large enough sums shift away from fossil fuels and toward climate-friendly alternatives quickly enough, Paris could be remembered with immense gratitude by any future descendants we may have. If not…
(Courtesy, the Daily Beast)
STOP THE KLAMATH AGREEMENTS, SAVE OUR WILD SALMON
by Kayla Godowa-Tufti
Will Senator Greg Walden Attempt To Slam Through Fraudulent Legislation For The Smoke And Mirror Klamath Agreement?
December 15th 2015 (Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon)
The infamous Klamath water Agreements appear to be on their final days. Rumor has it that Tuesday December 15th Senator Greg Walden will attempt to slam through fraudulent legislation for the smoke and mirror Klamath agreement. But there’s a catch. The bill as it stands today will no longer include the language for dam removal, which has been a primary bargained for benefit to signatory tribes to improve historic Klamath River wild salmon runs that have been irreversibly damaged by settler occupancy.
Ratepayers have been charged a fee on their monthly bills from PacifiCorp for a number of years for dam removal. But if legislators have no intention of removing the dams, where did all of the fees ratepayers have been charged go? California’s Hoopa Valley Tribe was part of initial Klamath Agreement talks but refused to support the accord on the grounds that it didn’t guarantee sufficient flows for struggling Coho and Chinook salmon populations.
The Klamath River flows directly through the Hoopa Valley Reservation in Northern California and the Trinity River is a major tributary to the Klamath River. Trinity water flows secured by the Hoopa Valley Tribe have contributed significantly to saving wild salmon populations in the Klamath River when Klamath water levels were not secured by enforcement of Klamath Tribes senior water right. As of September2015, The Yurok Tribe of California has been rumored to have withdrawn from the agreements. If that is true, then the only two remaining signatory tribes are the Karuk Tribe of California and the Klamath Tribes of Oregon. According to an article published December 11th 2015 by Western Livestock Journal, Andrew Malcolm, Communication Director for Senator Greg Walden states, “The way the agreements work is that the tribes that have senior water rights would lock in river flows, and the tribes would allow water to flow to agriculture in the project. … The way the process works is, in the first few years, it’s a temporary exchange in terms of the tribes allow for these flows to happen, but then as certain benchmarks are met throughout the agreement, then that water becomes permanent.” Malcolm agreed that the issue is largely a semantic one; while the Klamath Tribes are not waiving their senior water rights, they’re waiving a portion of the water their senior water rights grant them, assuming the agreements hold. “The fact is we felt the need to remind people that we’re trying to protect the taxpayers here and that for the tribes to get land, they are giving up some of their senior water. [Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes] doesn’t like the word ‘waive,’ but in reality, once the agreements become permanent, that’s what they’re doing.” In an article published by Dylan Darling in the Herald and News October 15th 2003,the at time Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman in a message to members of the Tribes on Sept. 27 2003, stated “The Klamath Tribes are not interested in surrendering their claim for senior water rights in exchange for regaining portions of their former reservation, tribal officials said Tuesday. A press release issued by the tribes said media reports indicating they were considering a trade of water rights for land now held by the U.S. Forest Service were incorrect. Carl "Bud" Ullman, attorney for the Tribes, said the Indians have two objectives: gaining water rights in order to restore fish populations, and regaining about 690,000 acres of former reservation land now in public ownership. Though both objectives are being discussed with federal officials, the Tribes aren't planning on turning over their senior water rights,” Ullman said.
Two paragraphs later Ullman states, the Tribes are considering foregoing some of their water rights in exchange for a restored sucker fishery, which has been closed since 1986. Under such an arrangement, the Tribes would hold their water rights but not seek enforcement of them if the federal government works to restore sucker populations. According to Ullman, there had been progress in the last year and that an agreement could be reached by the end of that year, though it could then take another year to get approval from Congress. That was 12 years ago. The current Klamath Tribes chairman Don Gentry and past chairman Allen Foreman have been operating on the same manipulative, double talk agenda.
And as it now stands only 4 days remain until the Klamath Agreements sunset in Congress. The "Historic dam Removal” campaign is set up to generate Republican push back against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dam removal re-licensing process. Signatory tribes and front groups have used those scare tactics to garner support and protect wealthy PacifiCorp shareholders from paying for dam removal. The Klamath water Agreement issue is not about dam removal. The dams are out of compliance and will come down regardless. The Klamath Agreement issue is who’s paying for dam removal?
An article published September 21st 2015 by Adam Spencer in The Triplicate states, “The Hoopa Valley Tribe plans to file a brief by Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging that the federal dam regulatory agency has violated the Clean Water Act in its approach to the relicensing — or lack of it — of the Klamath River dams. The hydropower license needed for PacifiCorp to operate its hydroelectric dams on the Klamath expired in 2006,but the Warren Buffett-owned power company has delayed the relicensing of the dams since then using a legal-gray-area strategy outlined in one of the Klamath Agreements. All in hopes that Congress would pass legislation implementing the Klamath Agreements. But that hasn’t happened after three years of sitting in Congress with little traction.” The Hoopa Valley Tribe’s tactic of forcing the hand of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get PacifiCorp to proceed with relicensing of the dams seems to have better odds of removing the deteriorating dams that have decimated wild salmon runs in the Klamath Basin than the glorified Klamath water Agreements. To relicense the dams in compliance with the Clean Water Act, PacifiCorp needs to apply for Water Quality Certification from regulatory agencies in both California and Oregon, where the dams are located. “Plainly the operation of the hydro project violates the water quality rules,” Hoopa Valley Tribe attorney Tom Schlosser said, adding the dams’ previous 1956 license pre-dates environmental law. According to Spencer of the Triplicate, “even if water quality certifications were completed and a new license issued, it would require PacifiCorp to install ladders to provide for passage of migratory fish through the dams, an action already mandated by National Marine Fisheries Service. Fish ladders would exceed the cost of dam removal and the dams would produce less energy and be less profitable, making dam removal the most economical option for shareholders and ratepayers.” Both California and Oregon’s public utilities commissions have determined that dam removal is the best option for ratepayers. The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), the agreement focused specifically on dam removal, states “PacifiCorp shall withdraw and re-file its applications for Section 401 (water quality) certifications as necessary to avoid the certifications being deemed waived under the (Clean Water Act) during the Interim Period.” According to the Clean Water Act, if a state fails or refuses to act on a water quality certification “within a reasonable period of time (which shall not exceed one year)” than the certification is considered “waived.” Case law cited in Hoopa Valley Tribe court documents states, the purpose of the waiver provision is “to prevent a State from indefinitely delaying a federal licensing proceeding by failing to issue a timely water quality certification.” A waiver would lead to the relicensing process outside of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), the less desirable option for Buffet’s grossly rich PacifiCorp. Spencer of the Triplicate reported, “PacifiCorp has withdrawn and re-filed its water quality certification application in both California and Oregon eight times to keep the application active without having certification considered waived by the state agencies. Withdrawing and re-filing the application is done with a single email.” “Their theory is that the letter gives the water board another full year to do nothing,” Schlosser said. “We kept saying ‘no, this is a violation of the Clean Water Act and you can't get around it by this letter writing campaign.’” FERC denied the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s request for a hearing on the issue in October 2014. Though the agency released a statement that they do agree that PacifiCorp and state regulators are “clearly violating the spirit of the Clean Water Act” and possibly acting “contrary to the public interest by delaying the issuance of new licenses that better meet current-day conditions than those issued many decades ago.” In the end, the FERC’s discussion concluded that while PacifiCorp may violate the spirit of the law “we do not conclude that they have violated the letter of that statute.” “They are essentially saying that this little routine that PacifiCorp is using violates the spirit of the Clean Water Act but they are going to go ahead and approve it,” Schlosser said. “They are deciding to do nothing for a settlement agreement they never approved or reviewed. I’m optimistic that court of appeals will say FERC has fallen down on the job and they ought to dismiss the application for licensing.”
Without these corporate Klamath deals the Interior Secretary can make a finding on dam removal, to ultimately dismantle the dams. It’s past time to revise the Klamath agreements and address problems in a sequential cost-effective fashion, that won’t drive wild salmon stocks to extinction. The KHSA minimizes PacifiCorp’s required operational changes until at least 2021, strips Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of jurisdiction while the agreement remains in place, and also protects the utility from compliance with any other measures to improve water quality. (Sec. 6.1.1 and 6.3.4.A.) The KHSA halts State water quality certification proceedings, which now are the only remaining step before FERC would force dam removal. (Sec. 6.5.)
Dam removal cannot be forced with the Klamath water Agreements in place. The Klamath Agreements will cost taxpayers $750 million over a 15-year period. The federal Indian policy questions raised by Senate bill (S.133) prompted more than 50 federally recognized Indian tribes to object when the Klamath Agreements were considered by Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Committee in the 113th Congress. Among their criticisms was that the legislation would reverse longstanding federal Indian affairs policies of tribal self-determination, self-governance, and respect for property rights held in trust for Indian tribes. The objecting tribes stated specifically that section 5(f) of the bill would authorize approval of settlement terms that would require the United States to abandon its trust relationship and subordinate tribal fishing and water rights to others unilaterally, without tribal consent. They also maintained that the settlement terms required by the bill are associated with discredited tribal trust termination policies that were in effect in the 1950s. Chairman Murkowski, on November 14, 2014 spoke about the Klamath settlement in the 113th Congress stating that: “There is another issue, and that is the estimated $500 million in needed funds over the next ten years called for under the agreement would come from. I can tell you from my perspective as an appropriator; we don’t exactly have an extra $50 million per year lying around under the seat cushions in my office.” Many groups reached the same conclusion about the unavailability of funding and walked away from the Klamath Agreements. The Hoopa Valley Tribe received over 50 letters of support from federally recognized Indigenous tribes from all across the United States in their efforts to oppose the Klamath water Agreements. Warren Buffet is the richest man in the world because he has a manipulative mind for business. People like him don’t get disgustingly wealthy by playing nice. He has found tenacious individuals to lobby for PacifiCorp dam removal, tribes and front groups alike. All for California and Oregon tax payers to foot the bill, leaving Buffet’s corporation exempt of financial responsibility. Members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Klamath Tribes refuse to endorse the fatally flawed Klamath agreements because they unilaterally terminate tribal water rights. Rights that are intended to be enforced to protect the environment. “The ancestors pray for our fish. And our fish always pray with us because we take care of them and they take care of us.” Says Oni Rose Orcutt, 7 year old Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk descendant. “We are asking you to not support Walden’s bill. Because this bill is killing our salmon and terminating our water rights. Ts’ediyah. Thank You,” stated 10 year old Presley Orcutt (sister to Oni Rose), also a Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk descendant. Please help support our friends in the Hoopa Valley community and relatives of the Klamath Tribes in efforts to protect their salmon babies by not endorsing the following-- Senate Bill 133: Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2015, The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), Klamath Basin Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA) Please help support an effort that will truly “Undam the Klamath and bring the salmon home.” Happy belated birthday to Oni Rose and Presley, the girls of Hoopa Valley whose hearts are forever with our salmon and waters. This is dedicated to you and all our future generations to come. May all your hopes and dreams come true. In collaboration with and in honor of our friends at the Hoopa Valley Tribe and our Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin relatives at Honor the Treaty of 1864. Naat ciiwapkdiceew'a “We help each other; We will live good.”
(Kayla Godowa-Tufti is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon and a descendant of the Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin peoples of the Upper Klamath Basin. An Indigenous rights/water advocate and freelance journalist residing in Kalapuya Territory, Oregon.)
DROUGHT BILL UPDATE:
You Can't Save The Delta By Pumping More Water
by Dan Bacher
As Governor Jerry Brown resumes his campaign to build the salmon-killing Delta Tunnels after spending a week green washing his image in Paris at the Climate Summit, Congress is doing its best in Washington D.C. to eviscerate protections for Central Valley and Trinity/Klamath River salmon and steelhead.
HR 2898, an agribusiness-backed “drought relief” bill that would strip environmental protections for Central Valley salmon and steelhead and Delta smelt, is back for the third time, like a pesky zombie or vampire that just won’t die no matter what you do.
Valadao’s original bill would have repealed San Joaquin River restoration, replacing it with a smaller program. It would add hatchery raised salmon or Delta smelt to be included in counts of Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fish populations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Finally, it directed the sale of the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River to local water districts.
The good news is that Senator Dianne Feinstein appears to be “holding the line on Endangered Species Protections for Delta” in the drought bill negotiations, according to an update from Restore the Delta (RTD).
The bad news is that she is “looking to allow more water pumping during periods of more rain, even though we are in the fifth year of drought and the estuary is dying from 30 years of over pumping,” the group said.
“We cannot save the SF Bay-Delta estuary by delivering more water during drought to Westlands Water District. If Feinstein's new bill allow exporters to turn up the pumps, the Delta will die in the 5th drought year,” RTD stated.
I agree. I urge you to call Senator Feinstein’s office (202) 224-3841, and tell her staff: “I appreciate that Senator Feinstein is holding the line on the Endangered Species protections for the Delta, but I expect better. If the new drought bill allows more pumping, the Delta will die in the 5th year of drought. We need more flows to the SF Bay-Delta or our estuary will collapse from the drought and 30 years of over pumping.” Tweet this message!
“Solomon cannot split the baby on this one," RTD said. “Will Senator Feinstein be remembered as the Senator who saved the SF Bay-Delta estuary, or the Senator who pushed it to collapse during extreme drought for almond exports to China?”
For more information about HR 2898, go to: www.dailykos.com/...