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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Dec 21, 2015

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ABOUT HALF AN INCH plus/minus of rain around Mendocino County Sunday. More than three more inches expected on Monday. Cold as Christmas approaches.

Overnight Sunday: Cloudy. Chance of rain showers. Lows 38 to 48. East wind around 5 mph.

Monday: Rain. Rain may be heavy at times in the afternoon. Highs 48 to 58. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph.

Monday Night: Rain. Rain may be heavy at times. Lows 45 to 55. West wind 10 to 20 mph.

Tuesday: Rain showers. Highs 51 to 61. West wind 5 to 15 mph.

Tuesday Night And Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain showers. Lows 37 to 47. Highs 48 to 58. Northwest wind 5 to 15 mph.

Wednesday Night And Thursday: Rain. Lows 33 to 43. Highs 43 to 53.

Thursday Night & Christmas : Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain showers. Lows 31 to 41. Highs 43 to 53.

Friday Night And Satur: Partly cloudy. Lows 28 to 38. Highs 45 to 55.

Saturday Night And Sunday: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of rain. Lows 31 to 41. Highs 47 to 57.

— National Weather Service

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WE ALL have our favorite local wild places, but mine is the back country of the Rancheria River from the bridge on Mountain View Road to wherever one wants to emerge behind (west of) Philo. The last time I hiked it, it was so wild there weren't even signs of pot gardens, and pot gardeners are our most intrepid back country explorers. Almost every year, a canoeist or two is briefly presumed lost because he has put in at the bridge at Mountain View on the assumption the river is a straight shot to Hendy Woods where his friends are waiting for him. The river is serpentine back there, and in some stretches the banks on both sides are canyon-like and you have no choice but to stay on the water. The wild sections of the Rancheria would be bad places for mishaps. There's no easy way in or out.

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YOU'RE A REAL old timer if you remember that July in 1963 when Hendy Woods was permanently set aside as Hendy Woods State Park. And you've got a heckuva memory if you recall that Jack Clow of Jack's Valley Store made the announcement.

* * *

COUPLA VALLEY sparkling wines got rave reviews in Sunday's Chron. Roederer Estate and a newby, Lichen Estate. And did I read right that my old friend Michel Salgues is Lichen's winemaker?

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THE NEWS that another newspaper somewhere has gone broke and closed is so frequent any more that one hardly has time to properly lament the loss of even the weakest publication. "Total Trib Media is closing two of its western Pennsylvania newspapers after failing to sell them, leaving 87 employees out of work…"

LOCALLY, the buzzards have been circling Mendocino County's chain-owned publications for years now. Media News Group (or whatever they call themselves now) has even sold the premises of the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Willits News. Everyone employed by the Beacon-Advocate, the Journal, the News is waiting for their death certs. The newspaper paradigm has done shifted. People under the age of 55 seem to get all their information from television and their hand-held gizmos. They don't read newspapers. A Boonville kid told me just the other day he didn't even know there was a newspaper in Boonville! I asked him, "Where do you go to school?" Right here in Boonville, he says. "There's a high school in Boonville?" I asked. The lad was puzzled. Just funnin' ya, pal, but you oughta look around your hometown a little. You'd be surprised what's here. We got it all!

THIS NEWSPAPER? How does it stay in business? And it is a business with people to pay and an overhead that's got to be kept overhead. Our many critics whisper that the AVA is kept afloat by a big fortune that funnels money our way. If that were so we'd have a full-time writer, among other amenities, to get at the stories that take time to develop. We can't afford such a person, assuming that they exist. If we had the dough for a full-time writer we'd look for one in the creative lit vaults, someone who still reads books and has intellectual interests. There aren't many out there. And most creative lit these days is beyond awful.)

WELL dear reader, we have a healthy circulation both in print an on-line because, I think, we report in depth on local matters. And we try to keep it lively. Our on-line paper is doing better than we expected. Larger papers, even the New York Times, can't make on-line pay, probably because the Gizmo Brigades get their info in blips and bleeps set to music. Unadorned paragraphs take too long to decode.

OUR BASIC PROB at this point is mortality. We're old, and we don't see anybody coming along to replace us when we totter into full senility. Reading and writing in newspaper form is almost over. And so are we.

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Subject: 27.2% Profit is Reason Enough to End Mental Health Privatization

The for-profit managed care corporations operating Mental Health Services for 2-1/2 years take 27.2% profit --

18.6% to Ortner Management Group

8.6% to Redwood Quality Management Company

That means at least $2M less in supportive Mental Health Services for patients in all eight of our communities, who desperately need them. This also accounts for the great increase in the number of people decompensating and needing hospitalization. Hospitalizations have increased from 145 people in 2013 to 319 in 2014 to 417 plus in 2015.

The Supervisors need to be held accountable for choosing to hire five unqualified and unlicensed MH Directors since 2000. There were seven Directors and Kristy Kelly and Noel O'Neil were the only people qualified. The hiring of five unqualified Mental Health Directors over 15 years means the Supervisors are responsible for the diminished Mental Health Services in our eight communities. The Supervisors are also responsible for Mental Health being the number one Public Safety Issue in our County.

Sheriff Tony Craver shares some of the responsibility for the closing of the PHF in 2000 because he started sending psychotic and suicidal inmates there in orange jumpsuits with armed guards. That frightened the other patients and the staff. Five staff members went out on disability leave which meant the PHF couldn’t be properly staffed and would be violating State law if they stayed open. The County was only offering RNs $23,000/year when they could make at least $10,000 more working elsewhere. On top of that, there was a suicide in the PHF and a Grand Jury reported that a psychotic man was placed in four-point restraints at the PHF and badly beaten with multiple bruises and broken ribs and the two staff members never recorded his condition every 15 minutes as is required by law.

Sonya Nesch, Author Advocating for Someone with a Mental Illness


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I was told that Fort Bragg’s Taco Bell opened yesterday with a long line of customers waiting to order while enjoying the sun.

There’s must be a name besides “Grand Opening” to explain why a mob of people go to any restaurant’s first day of business. I wonder if the first day of business is the most business a restaurant ever does, if nothing goes wrong, and it’s bound to have wrongs when you’ve got all new customers some bearing left handed monkeywrenches, “That’s not what I ordered,” “How much paper will clog the toilet?” Party games to be expected. Isn’t that why after days of rain Fort Braggers will stand in line to go to Taco Bell? It’s not like anyone hasn’t been to Taco Bell before, eh? I hear the owner hired well liked locals known to be hard workers and worth more than the $15 he’s paying, so there appears to be a team that not only survived the grand opening, but are cooking up the ultimate CA Gringo Mex in Fort Bragg. If I was a betting person, I’d wager that South Main Street is going to become just another fast food pit stop, and that maybe a sign of the times as independent places shut after years of annual street improvement during tourist season, and this year no water for them, but enough water to build a Taco Bell. Is that irony? To me that’s fraud. You tell little local restaurants that they have to serve on paper plates (congrats Mendocino Waste), and then you approve plans for a new franchise that’s going to put more mom and pop restaurants out of business. I’m all for competition, but the water used to build that Taco Bell could have helped some Fort Bragg mom and pops survive. This is what a lack of vision does to a place. Little tourist spots turn into fast food strips that kill all the charm, replace the sweet garden and salty ocean smells with hot oil for food and fuel. I’m telling you, Dolly Parton could manage Fort Bragg better. 3,000 jobs, little independent businesses doing their Arts and Craftsmanships. Culinary Arts is not Taco Bell.

— B.B. Grace, Fort Bragg

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IN THE NATION of eternal childhood, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" had the biggest opening box office weekend of all time grossing $238 million in North America alone. The previous record-holder for the biggest domestic opening in the United States was 2015's "Jurassic World" which made an enormous $208.8 million. Worldwide, "The Force Awakens" raked in $517 million, which is the second biggest global opening behind “Jurassic World.”

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— Scott Peterson

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 20, 2015

Barajas, Bolton, Brown, Castellanos
Barajas, Bolton, Brown, Castellanos

JOSE BARAJAS, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Drunk in public, vandalism. (Frequent flyer.)

JAMES BROWN, Redwood Valley. Trespassing. (Frequent flyer.)

JULIO CASTELLANOS, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Parole violation, resisting.

Chaney, Cisneros, Clapper, Cram
Chaney, Cisneros, Clapper, Cram

LILIAN CHANEY, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance.

HENRY CISNEROS, Willits. Probation revocation.

WILLIAM CLAPPER, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

JENNIFER CRAM, Laytonville/Ukiah. Disturbing the peace.

Day, Donahe, Mitchell
Day, Donahe, Mitchell

SEAN DAY, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

SARAH MITCHELL, Laytonville. Failure to appear.

Ryan, Swanston, Tobie
Ryan, Swanston, Tobie

DANIEL RYAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

RONALD SWASTON, Salinas/Willits. DUI.

FLORENTINO ‘TURK’ TOBIE, San Francisco/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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Reading “Carpool cheaters on the rise” in a recent Chronicle on the diamond lanes and the percentage of single-passenger vehicles in same found me proud of these fellow citizens. Americans tend to ignore stupid laws. Those of us senior enough to remember the amazingly stupid 55 mph freeway speed limit in the 1970s also remember the public largely ignoring the law. Truckers and their CB radios would be spotting “bears,” and many drivers installing citizens band radios as well would track them, too, until sanity prevailed again and speed limits were returned to normal.

The diamond lane law is another idiotic law. The monetary savings from carpooling are certainly sufficient to appeal to all who can reasonably form a car pool. This law will eventually be rescinded. All it would take is a study/survey to identify that the law has generated precious few new carpools. The letters to the editor confirm the obvious: the law doesn’t work. Taking 20 percent, 25 percent, or 33 percent of available highway lanes “out of service” during rush hour hurts almost all commuters. Some of them don’t take this lying down. Kudos to those who engage in civil disobedience against this idiotic law — they are true Americans.

James Neale, San Francisco

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This letter was sent to the Lions Bay School Principal's office in West Vancouver after the school had sponsored a luncheon for seniors. An elderly lady received a new radio at the lunch as a door raffle prize and was writing to say thank you. This heartwarming story is a credit to all humankind.

“Dear Lions Bay School, God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent Senior Citizens luncheon. I am 87 years old and live at the West Vancouver Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away so I am all alone. I want to thank you for the kindness you have shown to a forgotten old lady. My roommate is 95 and has always had her own radio; but, she would never let me listen to it. She said it belonged to her long dead husband, and understandably, wanted to keep it safe. The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a dozen pieces. It was awful and she was in tears. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I was overjoyed that I could tell her to fuck off. Thank you for that wonderful opportunity. God bless you all. Sincerely, Edna.”

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by Steve Heilig

Down at the beach, waiting for Santa Claus. Well, not quite; I was at the beach because I love the beach and even more important, my dog loves the beach. But it truly was Christmas Eve, an unseasonably warm one although those were becoming more common, and we'd been on the sand and in the water for hours, and the sun was now setting and we sat on the seawall to watch. I unwrapped my burrito, now cold - I had feared that most eateries would close early and so got it on the way down at midday - and piled some dog kibble on the wall next to me to distract the pup from begging and drooling. I popped a beer too, which had kept nicely in my little cooler bag.

The sunset was of medium beauty. The pup wolfed his dinner and then grew restless as darkness came down fast. "OK', I said, and he, knowing as much English as many San Franciscans, hopped down off the wall onto the walkway while I got down a bit slower. Looking south, I could see that there was not another car for the entire half-mile or so of beachfront parking. The big restaurant just above me and down the beach were dark. Other than the hum of the surf a few hundred feet away, it was a scene of great quiet. The one streetlight popped on of its own accord.

We got in my car, and I put my long pants and socks on, and a sweatshirt, and gave pup a bowl of water from the big jar I always kept filled for him. What now, I wondered. Home could be extra dark and depressing tonight. But not as bad as the few bars or other such spots that might remain open for other losers. I turned on the CD player and selected a Keith Jarrett piano concert, figuring I'd hang out for at least awhile. His intensely meditative ramblings drew me in and I shut my eyes and just sat back, with a brief worry that I might wear out the car battery if I passed out - but what the heck, I had an AAA card, and the tow trucks couldn't be too busy on this night, right? Right...

I awoke to a light in my eyes, reflecting off the rear-view mirror. The music had ended, and I heard the rumble of a car engine and saw lights behind me. A cop car. Shaking my head, I reached for the empty beer bottle and shoved it under my seat. Then I relaxed, sorta, not being able to think of anything else illegal about me at that point. I rolled down my window and put my arm out, with a little wave, and put my right hand on the steering wheel, having been told this reassured cops. And then I just sat, waiting.

The patrol car's door opened, someone got out, and walked up to my window, flashlight in hand. The police radio crackled. Pup got up from his own slumber and looked groggily out the window at the intruder. "Good evening" came the voice. A woman. "Hello," I replied.

"How are you doing here tonight?" she asked.

"Oh OK...just watched the sunset and now taking a nap, I guess," I explained. There was a pause and she said, "Would you mind stepping out of the car, with your license and registration, please?" Very officious. "No problem, I said, and did so, hoping any beer on my breath had dissipated or at least been cut by the beans and salsa.

She was shortish, Asian, fully garbed in that thick black leather cop jacket, the cap, all the tools and radios and weaponry. Her hand rested on a big billyclub at her waist. I got my wallet out and handed her my license and insurance card, and stood. She put the light on them for a moment and handed them back, looking up at me appraisingly. "Do you want the registration now too?" I asked. "I didn't want to be rooting around in there until you said it was OK." She smiled a little, and said "No, that's OK now, but thank you, and I did notice your showing your hands when I pulled up, so thanks for that too."

We stood there for a moment, silent. She looked into the car, and shone the light on pup's big face. "Wow, nice-looking dog," she said. "Yes, he's a good mutt," I replied, "He'll stare at you until you give him whatever he wants, tho." She chuckled.

"So...I have to ask, what are you doing out here tonite, and where are you going from here?"

"Well," I began, thinking about what to say. "I ran the dog on the beach, took a quick swim myself and caught one wave close in, watched the sunset, ate dinner, put on some music and took a nap, I guess. I have no other plans at this point, but will likely just head home."

"OK. And what happens then, will anybody be there?"

Strange question, seemed to me, but what the hell. "There will be hungry cats, is all." I paused, and she said nothing, so I ventured, "So, can I ask, are you on suicide watch or like that? The bridge is a couple miles away."

She gave another quiet laugh, and looked me in the eyes. "No, not really but yes, well, in a way. Yours is the only car out here. It's Christmas Eve. Strange things happen, you might say. I felt I had to check you out here. It's what we do."

"I checked out OK, right?" I said, nodding towards her car.

"Yes. Nothing. But of course most things are not in our computers."

"Of course." We both stood there for another moment.

"So," she said, "How was the sunset?"

I laughed, and replied "It was OK, I'd say I'd give it a b-minus. Say, would it be OK if I let the dog out? He's friendly, and might have to do some business..."

"Sure, fine" she said, and stepped back. I opened the back side door and he tumbled out, looking at her warily but tail wagging. No traffic around, I didn't put his leash on and let him go over to the sand and bushes by himself. It was getting chillier out. We walked over to the seawall and looked out at the whispering dark sand and water. Her radio crackled lightly from her car behind us. I was quiet, keeping my face away from her to keep the beer odor to myself.

"So... again, I have to ask, but you don't have to answer - why are you out here tonite, by yourself?" she asked after a minute.

"You mean I can take the Fifth now?" She grinned. "I'm not - the dog is right there."

"Don't smartass a cop. You know what I mean."

"Yes, officer," I said, but while smiling, and she did too. 'OK, but excuse me a sec while I put this guy in the car - he makes me nervous in the dark, with seagulls around and such." I gathered the pup back up and led him back into the backseat of my car, and shut the door. She was still standing there silently. I took the few steps over to stand next to her, and said, "OK, sorry, yeah. I... well I like it here, and there's no place else I have to be, I guess."

She seemed to think about that, then said, "Listen, you were right, we are supposed to be on the lookout for loners and possible suicide risks tonite You swear you're not one of those?"

"Well, not for suicide, no, I swear. But loner, yes... although not really by choice."

She took that in for another pause. "You... don't have to tell me anything, of course. But how does that happen? You seem all right to me."
I laughed a little. "Well, thanks. It's a long story, but thanks."

"I've got time. It's a slow night."

I thought for a second. "OK, here's a deal for you. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours - why are you on this nasty shift tonight?"

This time she laughed. After a pause, she said "OK, deal. But you first."

I took a deep breath. "Hmm, let's see. I used to have a great, normal kind of life. Charmed, even. Grew up at the beach, great schools, blah blah blah. Lots of friends, girlfriends too, busy all the time with mostly good stuff. I never wanted kids and didn't have any, and never got married either. I got this dog. Lots of friends died or moved away, just too expensive here, like that. Before I knew it, there was basically nobody left I used to hang out with.

“I've been solitary for years now; I'm pathologically shy among those I don't know, and don't seem to have it in me to try to change that much, and besides, now I'm too old and nobody comes my way anymore. I'm invisible. My parents have died and my siblings live far away and we aren't close anyway, so.... here I am. All my weekends and holidays and nights are like this, me and the dog, and the cats at home, and I eat alone and out of cans with them, most of the time. Haven't been out to eat with anybody in years. Used to go to concerts constantly but that feels silly on my own. I do sometimes go to movies by myself though, as that's just sitting in the dark, right? Anyway, I don't really recognize my own life anymore. Most of the time I can tell myself to just appreciate what I do have, as I’m not poor – I’m well-off, actually - and sometimes that works. But holidays and such, yep, can be hard....” I paused, cleared my throat. “So, that's it, I guess. Sorry if it's kinda dull."

I stopped; we were silent. A bird or bat or something flitted around the streetlight. I glanced at her and she was just staring out into the darkness over the sand and ocean. "OK, ugh, I said too much, sorry, but you asked", I said, suddenly embarrassed, again clearing my throat, wishing I could take that last sip of beer, "Your turn now."

She looked at me and seemed to sigh. "Ummm... hmm. Well. I.. Well, I was born down south too, my family broke up early, I have two brothers. They turned into young thugs, and I didn't want to be like the skanky girls they hung out with. I finished high school, tried some college but didn't like it much, and a friend had become a cop and told me I should try it, good pay, tuition help if I wanted to go back to school, and lots of guys to meet too." We both laughed. "So I got into the LAPD academy, did OK, but really wanted to get out of LA, and it was OK to transfer up here if you had a connection, which I did. There were more women cops here which was cool but most of the men were real dicks, yunno? Thugs, sorta, all about their high school and sports only. Some real racists, too. No thanks. I enrolled in classes at State and even graduated. On my way to promotions and such. But then a longtime captain, smart guy he seemed, he'd gone to Berkeley even, and I hit it off and started seeing each other. Turned out he was married, of course. I stuck it out for a bit - I was lonely too, I guess - but then broke it off, and then he got really nasty - stalking, threats, the whole thing. It got scary. He started making it hard for me to work, to get decent shifts, and all that. And with the Old Boys' network and all, there has not been much I can do but try to avoid him. So here I am, almost ten years on the job and still working Christmas Eve. Not that I really have anywhere better to be too, but still...."

She stopped. Sighed again. It got quiet. All I could hear was the rumble of the waves out there,

"I'm sorry", was all I could think of to say, and it sounded stupid.

" too. But really, it's fine." She shrugged, then reached up and took off her stiff cop's cap, and shook her head, and a big pile of black hair tumbled out. I looked at her in the slight light of the streetlamp and was taken aback - it was like one of those Bogart flicks where the Plain Jane secretary takes her hair down and her glasses off and presto, bombshell. She was stunning. She reminded me of someone I could not forget and I turned my head away before that impression took over. But then I felt a light touch on my jaw, and before I could react she was turning my face back towards her, and her lips were on mine and we were, well, smooching. It had been so long that I was shocked at the feeling, then not, and I took her head in my hands and kissed her back, hard. She met me, then pulled back, took a deep breath, and giggled. I just cleared my throat.

"What kind of beer?" she asked, smiling.

I laughed too. "Oops, busted...uh, Anchor Steam, the local stuff. But only one bottle, I swear." She chuckled. Then I said, "I don't think I've ever kissed a cop. At least... not in uniform." She smiled, leaned back in and we kissed more, and I felt her hands on my neck, and without even thinking about it I reached inside her big jacket and yanked her shirt up out of her pants and felt the smooth skin of her torso, under where the gun handle came up from her holster, and she sighed loudly and fell into me and leaned her head back and I kissed her neck, just under her ear, and she smelled so good there and kind of moaned and wiggled and pressed into me, my god, it had been so...

Abruptly, she yanked back. "What?" I almost yelped, pulling my hands off, then said, "Oh, I'm sorry, too much - this is redicu- "

"Shut UP!" she barked, and spun back and looked behind us. A car was coming down the hill towards us, fast, and by the time I was down too, and she had tucked her shirt back in and I had settled myself a little, a dark SUV had pulled up behind her car in a screech of braking.

"Get in your car right now and lock it" she barked at me, in a very serious low monotone, and I did just that. She walked back past my car towards hers. I heard voices, a male's, then hers, then louder, and what sounded like somebody hitting a car with their fist. I laid down over to my right, across into the passenger's seat. The emergency brake handle bit into my side and I put it down, holding my breath, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now. Her car had me blocked in with the curb in front, and I couldn't edge out of there without like a 10-point turnaround, if at all. Pup was in the back, alert. Maybe I should let him out and make a run for it, out onto the dark sand. I was thinking I'd look up and -

BAM! - came an explosion. A goddamn gunshot. Holy shit. Pup jerked and started shaking - he hates loud sounds - and I burrowed down again, freaked too. It was silent for a minute, other than the murmur of a cars idling. I felt the clear thinking of near-panic. It came to me that my car license had been checked into their computer already; it was known I'd been down here. After what seemed like a long time but was probably ten seconds came a tap on my window. I looked up, wondering if I was about to die. It was her, with her big pistol in hand. I just stared. Expressionless, she motioned me up. I sat up slowly, swallowed hard, and started to open my door.

"Don't get out of the car," she ordered, steely, staring over my head, up at the road, as she holstered her gun. "Here's what you are gonna do. Pull out of here, head home, take side streets as much as you can. Park in your garage if you have one. In about five minutes every squad car in the city is gonna be bearing down here, spoiling for blood. Anybody asks, yes, you were here, I checked you out, you left. That's all. Go."

She walked back to her car, got in, pulled it forward enough for me to back straight out. I started mine, and slowly did that. The SUV was idling there, lights half on. What looked like a body was sprawled next to it, and as I turned my car away, my lights caught a cop uniform, and a puddle of dark liquid next to it, glinting in the yellowish streetlamp. I glanced at her car. She was already in there, head down.

I drove up and away from the beach, as she had instructed. My hands were shaking but I could grip the wheel, very tight. I still tasted her on my lips. I didn't even know her name. And Santa Claus didn't show that night.

* * *


What's the matter with me,

I don't have much to say,

Daylight sneakin' through the window

And I'm still in this all-night cafe.

Walkin' to and fro beneath the moon

Out to where the trucks are rollin' slow,

To sit down on this bank of sand

And watch the river flow.


Wish I was back in the city

Instead of this old bank of sand,

With the sun beating down over the chimney tops

And the one I love so close at hand.

If I had wings and I could fly,

I know where I would go.

But right now I'll just sit here so contentedly

And watch the river flow.


People disagreeing on all just about everything, yeah,

Makes you stop and all wonder why.

Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street

Who just couldn't help but cry.

Oh, this ol' river keeps on rollin', though,

No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow,

And as long as it does I'll just sit here

And watch the river flow.


People disagreeing everywhere you look,

Makes you want to stop and read a book.

Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street

That was really shook.

But this ol' river keeps on rollin', though,

No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow,

And as long as it does I'll just sit here

And watch the river flow.


Watch the river flow,

Watchin' the river flow,

Watchin' the river flow,

But I'll sit down on this bank of sand

And watch the river flow.

— Bob Dylan

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* * *


by Dan Bacher

In the latest scandal to plague the administration of Governor Jerry Brown, the Public Accountability Initiative on December 17 revealed that Brown's sister, Kathleen, was paid $188,380 to sit on the board of Sempra Energy. That's the company responsible for the devastating Porter Ranch Gas leak - the worst in the state’s history.

“The leak, called the worst in California’s history by Time, began October 23rd and is currently releasing 36,000 kilograms of methane per hour. It has forced nearly 2,000 families to leave the area, caused the federal government to implement a no-fly zone, and led Los Angeles County to declare a state of emergency. It has also resulted in a lawsuit by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer alleging public nuisance,” the report revealed.

The group noted that in its first month, the well leaked 800,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to a quarter of the entire state’s emissions in that period.

The report also revealed  that Brown’s sister’s stake in the company was worth $1,071,898 at the market’s close on December 15, 2015.  Siempra Energy gave Governor Brown $26,000 in campaign donations in 2014, Californians Against Fracking pointed out.

In addition, Kathleen Brown is a partner in the law firm, Manatt Phelps, used by the state’s biggest fracking lobby, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).

"Manatt Phelps added the state’s largest oil and gas industry lobby, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), as a client in 2013, the year Kathleen Brown joined the firm. It earned $461,008 from the contract that year, according to the group’s most recent tax return. However, there is no evidence that Brown worked on that account, and the nature of the contract is not specified beyond the description (“legal-consulting”) given in WSPA’s tax return," the report noted.

The report said Brown’s record on oil and gas is “surprising for a leader who has staked so much on his climate and environmental legacy,” although not at all surprising to this journalist, an independent investigative reporter who has exposed Jerry Brown’s anti-environmental record and ties to Big Oil, Big Ag and other corporate interests in article after article.

“Brown’s relationships with the oil and gas industry likely play a role in influencing his stances on these issues,” the group stated. “This report, to be released in sections in the coming weeks, will detail Brown’s many ties to the industry: through his campaigns and political causes, which have benefited from significant industry funding; through close associates, who play advocacy and leadership roles in the industry; and through appointments to key regulatory roles.”

I look forward to seeing and reporting on the other sections of this long-needed report as they are released.

To read the full report, go to:

The latest example of the oil and gas industry's influence peddling helps to shed the light on the much bigger scandal of the capture of the regulatory apparatus by Big Oil in the state in recent years. Below is a transcript of the speech that I gave on the West Steps of the State Capitol on December 10 at a rally  co-sponsored by 350 Sacramento and the The event’s theme was “How the Grinches Stole Climate Justice.”


  1. BB Grace December 21, 2015


    I think a Newspaper like the AVA is an art. Papers like the FBA sold out, lost their soul. They are papers that don’t unfold to share news, but rather they resemble rolled papers to swat flies and line the papers of caged birds. We need more newspapers, so it’s always a jab to read about the “old AVA”.

    If I was an artist, I’d propose a bigger than life size statue of Bruce Anderson sitting at his desk with a big marque arrow pointing to the AVA building. I can think of a number of inscriptions, and wouldn’t it be great to have an area where passers by can write their news, share some views. Who needs Paul Bunyan when they’ve got a Bruce Anderson? Long live the AVA!

    • james marmon December 21, 2015

      Ass kisser!

      • BB Grace December 21, 2015

        You’re just jealous that I have a good artistic idea. We could build it out of garbage.

        Old tires, wine and beer bottles should be easy to get. I bet Mendocino Waste would love to contribute raw material but would settle on contributing whatever we need. It’s not like no one has a bulldozer in Anerson Valley to dig a foundation.

        We could make the desk out of a shipping container, make it into a vault, bury all kinds of skeletons in it.

        Sometimes Mr. Marmon you make me think Social workers are just no fun.

  2. james marmon December 21, 2015

    The Board of Supervisors completely ignored this.

    “Studies of mental health privatization in other states have found care quality declining when it has moved from the public to private sector. One reason for this is that big managed care corporations often bid on RFP’s then provide extremely minimal services, studies show. These managed care firms are expert at finding ways to do the minimum and have no experience in the community, yet often win out over those who provide local services, audits and studies have found. These managed care companies often had not done business in the areas until RFP’s came out, studies show. In the end, larger efforts to let market forces run mental health departments costs more than the old fashioned way of doing it, several Southern states have learned the hard way, according to official audits in those areas.”

    What do we know now? Have we learned the hard way too.

    • james marmon December 21, 2015

      Susan Era,(MendoFutures)really screwed us over, she was so invested in turning over children’s mental health to her foster family agency friends, that she didn’t look at her crystal ball close enough.

      I think our future for the next few years is pretty much going to be digging our way out of this hole.

  3. Bill Pilgrim December 21, 2015

    re: Star Wars: The Farce Awakens. Box office revenues are irrelevant. At anywhere from $10 to $18 a ticket (compared to $5 not that very long ago) of course the total is going to be higher. If they were to count heads rather than dollars there might be something to crow about.

    re: Car Pool lanes. Studies and experience have consistently shown that as soon as another lane (or more) is added it/they will be just as packed shortly after opening. Stop whining. Take some responsibility for not getting engaged in lobbying for and demanding fast, efficient, readily available mass transit.

  4. Sonya Nesch December 21, 2015

    Susan Era, unlicensed and unqualified Mental Health Director. She retired and then lead the charge in MendoFutures to bring Ortner Management Group (and Real Estate Development Corporation) to Mendocino County to do what they had no experience ever doing — providing supportive mental health services that would prevent involuntary hospitalizations and incarcerations.

    We have a deep hole to dig out of and ending privatization is the first step.

  5. John Kriege December 21, 2015

    Small point in response to Sonya Nesch. If I read her right, Ortner made an 18.6% profit, and OMG an 8.6% profit.
    Then the combined profit would be somewhere between those two amounts.
    You can’t add them together and get 27.2% profit. You need to combine both their revenues and expenses, and then calculate a combined profit.

  6. Sonya Nesch December 21, 2015

    What I know for sure is that this fiscal year, Ortner with 18.6% profit makes $1.4 million. In addition to that, they make millions housing conserved people, and people who are involuntarily hospitalized at their four Yuba City facilities and their other four facilities. In addition, to that, Redwood Quality Management Services makes their own profit. See if you can find it in the Carmel and Stacy Mental Health budget.

    • james marmon December 21, 2015

      Redwood Quality Management Group didn’t dare take as much for administration, that’s because they are already getting paid for administration from other funding sources, primarily from the foster care system.

      They’re making big time profits serving those kids, whether they need it not(medical necessity).

      Under the new “continuum of care” (foster care reform)being implemented by DHSS in 2017, County CPS agencies will be allowed to create and run their own foster family agencies.

      The state believes that a lot of tax payer dollars will be saved by county run foster care. I think its interesting that the State wants to get away from the use of private non-profit foster family agencies. They’re too expensive.

      RMQG, may not be dinging the County too bad, but they’re taking advantage of all the Federal and State dollars they can get their greedy little hands on.

      My biggest fear is that we, the County is going to have to pay some of that money back.

      For RQMG to be successful, there will need to be much more oversight and scrutiny of all the State, Federal, and County dollars that are being funneled to them.

      James Marmon, MSW

  7. Harvey Reading December 21, 2015

    Ahhh, a new Star Wars movie … with many of the same old cast it seems. Total diversion and escape. Just what the rulers want for us.

  8. james marmon December 21, 2015

    RE: Yesterday’s Catch.

    Well, the Agency finally got their chance to take Baby Emerald’s little brother, Dean, from their mother Jennifer Cram. She got in an argument with her neighbor and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

    Ms. Cram has mental health issues and is slightly developmentally delayed. The Agency will use the history of having anger issues against her. That is why they took Emerald. CPS thought Baby Emerald would be better off in the hands of a murdering drug addict, rather than someone who yells out loud when she is angry.

    According to my sources, her neighbors have been bullying her the past few weeks and she finally went off on them.

    As we have been talking about here on the AVA for the past few days, CPS discriminates against parents who have mental health/developmentally delayed issues.

    Even though she did not neglect or abuse Dean, the County will keep him from her just because of “RISK.”

    Jennifer is a loving and caring mother and is loved by all the children who come to know her. Other parents trust her so much that they use her as a babysitter. She is absolutely wonderful with children and has been providing appropriately for Dean every since he was born.

    Ms. Cram is devastated without Dean, I think we should use CPS’s history against them. Try convincing Jennifer that Dean is safer with them.

    James Marmon MSW.

    P.S. I will be sending a email to Robert Powell, esq. He handed Baby Emerald’s wrongful death lawsuit against the County a couple years ago. Hopefully he can help.

  9. BB Grace December 21, 2015

    CalWatchdog just posted: “Controller Betty Yee publishes salary data for cities, counties”

    There’s your proof, not all government jobs are equal pay. It’s not who you are, or what you do or don’t; It’s where you live. If you’re a government employee in NorCal you’re worth less than half of folks with the same title in yonder parts of this once great state.

  10. LouisBedrock December 21, 2015

    Mr. Heilig:

    Best Christmas story I’ve ever read.
    I want to how much of it is true, but I write myself occasionally and never answer that question.

  11. Jim Updegraff December 21, 2015

    The AVA and Bruce stand alone among newspapers – our local fish wrapper (Sacramento Bee) national and international news comes from New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other national outlets. To their credit they do a good job of investigative reporting. always a lot of scandals when you are in the state capitol.

    – – – – The Brown’s connection with big oil actually started with the old man – Pat Brown. Jerry is just carrying on for the family-.

    – – – In regard to the Mental Health issue if every body spent as much energy working as the do bitching there might not be a problem.

  12. james marmon December 22, 2015

    Mendocino County is going through a metamorphosis right now Mr. Updegraff. We’re just shedding our skin. We’re evolving and that’s important to me. We have a lot of things to talk about here and we’re finally doing it. Shit, even my opinion counts now, can you believe that?



    •a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means:

    • james marmon December 22, 2015

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