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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan 22, 2016

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JUST IN from the County's Animal Shelter: Long-time Shelter boss Sage Mountainfire has been placed on administrative leave. The Shelter has always had a healthy share of critics who lately seem to have reached critical mass. A Sonoma County animal group wants to assume responsibility for the Shelter. If that happens, the Shelter would be the second County function to be raffled off to an outside entity, Mental Health being the first.

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THE RECENT BIG RAINS, with another Thursday night & Friday, have almost filled our reservoirs. As of 1/19/15, Lake Sonoma is at 86% and Lake Mendocino is at 89.5% of target water supply levels.

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by Sarah Reith

Two or three million dollars won’t get you very far these days. Not if you’re looking to own a piece of what Tony Ford, at NorCal Vineyards, calls “the wine country dream” in Napa or Sonoma County.

Since the end of 2011, according to Ford, buyers from as far away as Chicago have been investing in vineyards in Lake and Mendocino counties.

Dave Brown, a property appraiser who handles vineyards for the Mendocino County Assessor’s Office, estimated that vineyard properties in Mendocino cost about $22,000 to $28,000 an acre, depending on a number of factors, especially the availability of water.

His data, he cautioned, is often several months behind. “I do notice there has been a lot of outside interest” in local vineyard properties, he commented.

Ford reported that vineyard property in Anderson Valley has reached the benchmark of $100,000 an acre, compared to the $130,000 per acre that an investor can expect to spend on a Pinot vineyard in Sonoma County.

Mike Pitkin, an agricultural appraiser at American AgCredit in Ukiah, described vineyard properties in Napa and Sonoma counties as “ungodly expensive.” His bank, he said, finances a fair number of vineyard sales, and his estimate of the price per acre ranged from $25,000 to $45,000, in the inland regions of the county.

“Anderson Valley is a different story,” he remarked, “because of the quality of Pinot Noir.”

He said that six or seven of the loans his bank made for vineyard properties, or “close to half” last year, involved out-of-town buyers. He believes the price of these properties, which he said is “probably up 25 percent plus” since 2012, is connected to the price of grapes.

According to Zac Robinson, treasurer of Mendocino Winegrowers Inc., those prices started going up in 2011. MWI’s data shows that the average Mendocino County grape price increased from $1,122 per ton in 2010 to $1,492 in 2014.

The grapes were grown on 17,339 acres of vineyard, with Chardonnay acreage, at 4,795, far outstripping any other variety. Data from the 2012 Crush Report shows that 58 percent of that fruit is sold out of the county, because the 91 wineries in Mendocino County are not enough to process all the fruit.

Still, Robinson said, “it’s not correct to say we don’t have many wineries. If we compared ourselves to anyone besides Napa and Sonoma, we’d have a lot. It’s like being the tall guy in the room, until the basketball players show up.”

As tall as they are, basketball players are always trying to reach new heights. And “wineries are looking for places to expand,” according to Carolyn Silvestri, of The Personnel Perspective, a Santa Rosa-based firm that recruits employees for wineries.

The industry “seems to be going gangbusters in Oregon,” she observed; “the way Sonoma and Napa used to be.”

In the last few years, Jackson Family and Foley Family Wines, both of Sonoma County, have bought hundreds of acres of vineyards in Oregon, which has a climate especially well-suited to Pinot Noir grapes. Just this month, Jackson purchased land and a facility in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, with a view toward developing a winery there.

But Silvestri referred to Gallo’s 2012 purchase of Snows Lake Vineyard in Lower Lake when she pointed out that larger employers pay their employees “the same or similar to what they paid in Napa or Sonoma. It’s hard for smaller wineries to match the wages,” she said.

A Wines and Vines report at the time of Gallo’s Lake County purchase stated that the price was $42 million for the 2,000-acre Snows Lake property, although, since only 800 of those acres were planted with vines, the adjusted value was “$52,500 per planted acre, which would be a record in Lake County,” according to the report.

While Silvestri said she doesn’t do a lot of recruiting in Lake and Mendocino counties, she mentioned that the clients she works with in the area prefer to hire locally.

Robinson, of Mendocino Winegrowers, did not see much of a connection between winery wages and property prices. He said that “as a trend, wages are going up;” but in vineyards, not wineries. “You make more working in the vineyards than you do at McDonald’s,” he remarked.

Like Pitkin, he believes the more significant connection is between the price of grapes and that of land. Mendocino County, he remembered, experienced an exponential growth in vineyard properties in the ’90s.

While many of those vines were taken out around five years ago, leaving fallow land, he suspects that “we won’t see it double again, like we did in the ’90s.”

Still, one of the factors he thinks may be driving up the price of grapes in the county is that “Sonoma and Napa are probably planted out.”

Planting vines is a long-term investment, as Maria Martinson, of the family-owned Testa Vineyards is ready to explain.

“You don’t get income from vines for five years,” she said, adding that her great-grandfather planted most of the vines on her Calpella property more than 100 years ago. “It’s not very common that that gets to happen,” she remarked.

Asked what she thought about out-of-town buyers investing in local properties, she said, “it depends on the investor. If people come in and do a good job farming, they’re welcome here.”

(courtesy of Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Donna Carol Vasquez is wanted on a $50,000 warrant for Failure To Appear on charges of DUI causing injury.

Height: 5' 4"

Age: 56 years old

Hair: Black.

Eyes: Brown

Weight: 167 lbs.

If you have any information regarding this individual's location, please call MCSO Dispatch at (707) 463-4086.

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FROM this morning's Chron sports page re the hiring of the new 49er's coach: "Kelly has a dog, a golden retriever named Henry. The 49ers' previous head coach was a cat guy. Sorry cat people, but that should have been a red flag."

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QUEENIES, the terrific Elk restaurant, "is looking for a wait person to work on Sundays when we reopen. Maybe you need a extra day of work. Great tips, fun people email me. Reopens Feb.13."

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A MENDOCINO READER COMPLAINS: "The anvils are quiet at the Mendocino Art Center. Where the sound of tink-tink-tink of hammers hitting metal could be heard faintly in the town on Sundays and Tuesday nights the blacksmithing open studio has been closed. These men and women showed up with cash in their hands to support an art center facility every week and they have been told to go away. Why would you turn paying customers away? I’m sure the MAC has a litany of excuses on why it needed to happen but the ironmongers are artists too."

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PD HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “Five Songs Sure To Make You Happy.”

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On 01-16-2016 at about 2:11 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital emergency room to contact a victim of a domestic violence incident which reportedly occurred in the 29000 block of Highway 20 in Fort Bragg, California. Upon arrival, Deputies learned a 49 year-old female adult had been cohabitating and involved in a prior dating relationship with James Stroud, 56, of Fort Bragg. Deputies learned Stroud had punched and kicked the female adult several times in the face and back over several days causing injuries to both sides of her face and her back. Deputies observed visible marks and bruising to the right side of the adult female's face, left eye and back. Deputies subsequently contacted Stroud in the 29000 block of Highway 20 and arrested him on a charge of felony domestic violence battery. Stroud was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Infliction of injury to a spouse or cohabitant and was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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To the Editor:

I am writing as a very concerned citizen and great supporter of the Mendocino Animal Care Services shelter. I am deeply distraught by the current smear campaign and attempted take over that is being waged by a small group of uninformed, malicious, entitled individuals. I don’t understand their motives, only that they are spreading fact-less rumors that are impacting the ability of the shelter staff to do their jobs and, therefore, the well being of the shelter animals. A true advocate of animals would never jeopardize their care to serve themselves. A true advocate of animals would put their energy and money to good use. They might start a rescue! Start an organization that works with shelters to save more animals. Start an education program, fund spay and neuter clinics. They might do something positive and proactive rather than hateful.

I have worked at shelters across this country. Shelters where animals have two days to live before being euthanized. Shelters where animals die of cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Shelters where, the hand that forces them into a cage is the last human touch an animal feels. The Ukiah shelter is the most outstanding, compassionate government run shelter in this country. Aside from being taken into a rescue, it is the best place a stray animal can end up. Dedicated volunteers walk dogs every day. Dogs are welcomed into the office to lounge on the couch even if it means work gets done 10 percent slower. Dogs have been there, taken care of, for months because staff believes they are worth saving and have the potential to be a pet and best friend and family member. Sage has devoted the last decade of her life to improving this shelter, to involving community, to establishing foster homes. And she has done so despite the mass and muck that is red tape. Yes, sometimes an animal is too sick to survive in a shelter environment. But no life is taken without great thought, great compassion and great grief. The Ukiah shelter is run by people creating miracles.

I implore all of us to stand up against this small-minded, negative campaign. Let’s pour our energies into supporting and maintaining the current Ukiah shelter staff, and all of their incredible efforts and accomplishments.

Sharia Pierce, Healdsburg

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Dear Mendocino County Air Quality Management District Hearing Board. Here is my letter, attached and below, opposing the Grist Creek Aggregates asphalt plant. Thank you! — Jane Futcher


Photo taken Jan. 20, 2016, of high waters of Outlet Creek rising at the Grist Creek Aggregates asphalt plant site in Longvale (Photo: Paula Crews)

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Hearing Board
Mendocino County Air Quality Management District
306 E. Gobbi Street, Ukiah, CA 95482

Dear Air Quality Hearing Board,

Six months ago, on July 13, 2015, I stood before you, as did many others did, and begged you to rescind the Mendocino Air Quality Control District’s permit allowing Grist Creek Aggregates to build and operate a rubberized asphalt plant on the banks of Outlet Creek in Longvale.

All the neighbors who spoke that day expressed fears that fumes from the plant, as well as noise, light and water pollution, could endanger their own health and that of plants and animals in and near Outlet Creek, an important Eel River tributary.

You rejected our appeal, thereby allowing Grist Creek Aggregates and its partners, Mercer-Fraser and FNF, to move forward.

As a consequence, beginning in September, when the plant went on line, neighbors’ worst fears were realized. Fumes from the operation have negatively impacted the health of many of us. Obnoxious noises and lights have kept some residents awake at night because the plant is permitted to operate around the clock. Air from the plant burns eyes; some of us can’t breathe and therefore can’t leave our homes or open our windows when the plant is operating.

We still don’t know what effect the recent heavy rains will have on the water quality of Outlet Creek. I do know that Supervisor Woodhouse assured me in October that the huge piles of gravel by the creek would be gone by the rainy season. That has not happened. The gravel remains there, and sediment from those enormous piles is doubtless seeping into the creek.

As a resident of Cherry Creek Ranches, across Outlet Creek from the plant, I have seen with my own eyes, smelled with my own nose, and heard with my own ears the obnoxious environmental impacts of the rubberized asphalt operation.

What does it take to get your attention, Hearing Board?

Do the nearly $200,000 in fines and penalties that local and state Air Quality Boards have levied on Grist Creek Aggregates and Mercer-Fraser give you second thoughts about your July decision?

Did you listen when top-selling veteran Coldwell Banker/Mendo Realty real estate agent Bill Barksdale of Willits told a local newspaper in November that the asphalt plant was no doubt having major negative impacts on property values in that area? Although he could not give an exact dollar amount, Barksdale said: “I would personally not buy a property that was affected by that [plant]. To me it would have a value of zero.”

Do you care that the Board of Supervisors assured us, at the infamous meeting last March — when the board fast tracked the plant without requiring a full EIR — that county agencies such as Air Quality, charged with the mission of protecting our air, would keep us safe if the plant had any negative impacts on the air we breathe?

As recently as November, Supervisor Woodhouse told me the county would shut the plant down if Grist Creek Aggregates cannot “make their product and keep the environment clean.”

Why hasn’t that happened? We are scared. We need your help!

Perhaps when hearing board denied our appeal last July it did not, in good faith, anticipate the numerous permit and air quality violations the asphalt operation would generate.

Well, now you know. We hope you have seen enough tests, reviewed enough documents, and heard enough complaints from the community to take action.

Please, rescind Grist Creek Aggregates’ air quality operating permits for rubberized asphalt production until the company can conduct a full environmental impact report on the operation.

Use your authority, indeed your mandate, to review and void any Air Quality Management District permit that violates the district’s stated mission – “to protect and manage the air quality of this county.”

Thank you.

Jane Futcher


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To the Beast: Having had responses I made on the confusingly-named "Friends of the Ukiah Shelter" Facebook page pulled, I retreated from the fact-free environment of social media. But I do look at the page every now and then, to canvass the current brouhaha over the future of the Mendocino County Animal Care Services shelter — known simply as the Ukiah Shelter.

Currently attempting to sway the Facebook public's opinion about the care and competency of the shelter and its staff, the "administrators" of the page have bombarded the social media outpost with photos of sad-looking kitties and dogs behind bars, overlaid by very large texts replete with their favorite mottos: NO KILL — NO KILL — NO KILL.

What's really irksome, though, is reading post after post of changes and achievements to come if the shelter is handed over to an out of county "non-profit" organization — with no substantial information on how these changes will happen (is there a Secret Santa willing to help the animals but only if Petaluma Animal Services is in charge?)

More annoying still, is the misrepresentation of facts — to wit, this latest piece of time-line-bending: "DUE TO THE COMMUNITYS CONCERNS THE COUNTY ISSUED AN RFP." (request for proposal)

In fact, the community's concern at that time, late 2014 and early 2015, was to keep the shelter's status quo, i.e., under the management of Health and Human Services, instead of moving it to the Sheriff's Office. To that end, a petition was introduced on-line (by the same group now working to undermine current management and staff), gathering thousands of names, along with hundreds of GLOWING, positive, responses about the great work and fine care of the shelter and its operations.

At the same time, someone involved in helping keep the shelter under HHSA management decided that outsourcing could be a better option, and they found and introduced Petaluma Animal Services to the Board. PAS wrote an "unsolicited" letter to the county to start contract negotiations. The "community" was not involved — they had done their part signing the petition.

It was only after the Board of Supes made the decision to keep the shelter with HHSA, while also keeping open the possibility of outsourcing, that the RFP process was begun. It took some time, but the requests were eventually sent out (on August 4, 1015.)

Trivial nit-picking? No. Because manipulating the timeline of events is simply another way to confuse and obfuscate the public.

Kathy Shearn, Ukiah

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On Wednesday morning, January 20 at approximately 6:30 AM, an Ukiah High School Student was grabbed from behind and assaulted while she was waiting for the bus to school, near the intersection of S. Orchard Ave. and Cindee Drive. The female student fought back, escaped and ran from the scene. The student described the suspect as a male adult, wearing dark clothing. The Ukiah Police Department is currently investigating the incident and working with the Ukiah Unified School District.

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On Wednesday, January 20 at about 8 am, it was reported to UPD’s School Resource Officer Vince Morse that on January 19th at about 4:45 pm, a 10 year old Accelerated Achievement Academy student was grabbed a hold of by an unidentified male subject. The assault occurred in the area of Scott and North State Street. The student was able to kick the assailant in the groin and run to her residence, where she notified her mother. The victim was unharmed and described the suspect as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’2”, weighing 120 pounds, with short black hair and no facial hair. The victim thought that the suspect was approximately 18 years old. The victim was unable to provide a clothing description, but thinks the suspect was wearing green or black tennis shoes.

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Parents should remind students traveling to and from school of these safety tips:

  1. Don’t talk to strangers.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings (e.g., don’t focus your attention on your cell phone while walking home from school).
  3. Stick together. There’s safety in numbers.
  4. Practice basic self-defense. A swift kick to shins or private parts along with a loud scream will help get the attention of people in the area.
  5. If you’re at home alone – lock your doors.

Parents can get additional information to help protect their children at:

The Ukiah Police Department is currently investigating the incident and working with the Ukiah Unified School District. If anyone has any information regarding the above incident, please contact the Ukiah Police Department at 463-6262.

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ANY WITNESSES? A young man was walking on Highway near Mendocino's Surfwood subdivision about noon Monday when a passing car seems to have deliberately swerved to hit him. The pedestrian says he was walking on the dirt beyond the paved edge of the highway when he was struck. He said the driver of the car did pull off a hundred yards or so up the road to check his vehicle for damage before driving off. His victim was not hospitalized but is in some pain. There were many drivers in both lanes at that time who witnessed the accident, but apparently nobody turned in a report to CHP. Please call the CHP or your local police station if you have any information.

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MEGA-CREEP: On January 15th at about 10:39 am, the Ukiah Police Department’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Vince Morse responded to Pomolita Middle School, to deal with an assault that had occurred days prior. At the school SRO Morse spoke with students regarding the assault. During the investigation the SRO discovered that on January 9th at about 5:30 pm, present and former Pomolita students were hanging out at the New Life Community Church, located at 750 Yosemite Drive. A subject known as Freddie Shaw age 51 from Ukiah approached the group on foot, accompanied by a former juvenile Pomolita student. Shaw removed a $100 bill from his pocket and tossed it on the ground. Shaw then looked at the group of juveniles and told them he would pay $100 to the first person to break the jaw of one of the juveniles in the group, he was upset with. Shaw was upset with one of the juveniles who had previously been involved in an altercation with his step son the day prior. The juvenile that had accompanied Shaw punched the juvenile victim in the face and attempted to verbally incite the victim to fight with him. The victim would not fight and Shaw picked up the money and both he and the assaulting juvenile walked off. Shaw was located and arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and conspiring to commit a crime. Shaw was booked into county jail for the violations.

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ON JANUARY 16TH at about 6:43 pm, UPD officers were dispatched to the MTA bus stop located against the east wall of Ross on E. Perkins Street, for a report of subjects causing a disturbance. Upon arrival Charles Hensley age 52, William Vantreese age 50 and Rebecca Stiles age 59 were contacted.

Hensley, Vantreese, Stiles
Hensley, Vantreese, Stiles

All were found to be extremely intoxicated and a records check revealed that Vantreese was on probation. All were placed under arrest for being drunk in public and Vantreese was additionally charged with violation of his probation. All were booked into county jail.

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ON JANUARY 17TH at approximately 8:09 hours, UPD officers were dispatched to Safeway on South State Street, regarding a shoplifter that had left the store. A UPD officer contacted a subject matching the description given by UPD dispatch, in the 200 block of East Gobbi Street. The subject was identified as Kendall Travis age 46 from Ukiah. During the investigation officers learned that Travis had placed numerous store items in a bag and exited the store without paying for the items. These items were recovered from Travis and he was placed under arrest for shoplifting. Travis was booked and cited with a court appearance date.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 21, 2016

Ackerman, Ayala, Bolton, Bucio
Ackerman, Ayala, Bolton, Bucio

LEAH ACKERMAN, Willits. Failure to appear.

DERRICK AYALA, Covelo. DUI Alcohol/drugs, probation revocation.

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

DANIEL BUCIO, Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.

Ceja-Amerzcua, Frease, Gayski
Ceja-Amerzcua, Frease, Gayski

JOSE CEJA-AMEZCUA, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

ANGELA FREASE, Covelo. Ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.

BENJAMIN GAYSKI, Foirt Bragg. DUI-4th offense in ten years, county parole violation.

Hackney, Phillips, Reyes
Hackney, Phillips, Reyes

JENNIFER HACKNEY, Humboldt/Redwood Valley. Under influence.

RICKEY PHILLIPS, Willits. Second degree robbery, domestic battery, probation revocation.

RUBEN REYES, Covelo. Ex-felon with firearm, prohibited person with ammo.

Scott, Smith, Stahl, Williams
Scott, Smith, Stahl, Williams

JAMES SCOTT, Clearlake/Ukiah. Unspecified misdemeanor.

MICHAEL SMITH, Ukiah. Honey oil extraction, pot & hashish possession for sale.

JOHN STAHL, Leggett. Parole violation. (

LINDSAY WILLIAMS, Lakeport/Ukiah. Vandalism, failure to appear.

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Two quotes by Gore Vidal:

“It makes no difference whom you vote for — the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people.”

“Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”

(ONE) He was obviously high on his four percent but that was then and this is now. He was also wrong about the percentage reading newspapers because less than half now read a newspaper or anything else. Perhaps a third could even find one if asked.

(TWO) The precedent for Trump was Ronald Reagan and since the planet maintained its orbit the first time America made a fool of itself it will maintain orbit a second time as well.

(THREE) Reading a newspaper made you a fairly informed person long ago. Now it just makes you misinformed and confused, while draining away any energy you might have had to effect change.

(FOUR) Amen to that but mostly it leaves you uninformed about things other than who won the game, and which celebrity comes closest to showing her erectile parts at the latest gala.

(FIVE) Your remark about Gore’s newspaper reading comment is fatuous. If more than half don’t read it then say half don’t read it isn’t false. It’s boneheaded to take the arithmetic he used literally in the first place.
 Agree with you about Reagan however. If ever there was a more dunderheaded person as president I can’t think of who it would be. However you don’t seem to be much into considering the long view. The mess things are in today can probably be traced back to the influence, the changes that set things in motion during his occupation of the White House.
 Carter had solar panels installed, Reagan had them ripped out.

(SIX) I think Reagan was the one who decided if you made more than ten bucks in interest on your savings account, you owed taxes.

(SEVEN) Well obviously Democracy is a scam – one created by the Elite who can move the mob at will. Can we repeal the voting right act and stop dumb Whites from voting too? Only informed and responsible people should be allowed anywhere near the sacred booth.

(EIGHT) Why should people get their news, their information on current events, from a newspaper? What is a newspaper? Do you mean print on paper? Do you mean a paper of record? What if most people get their “news” online? Why would people be silly enough to get the news from mainstream media? How do you know that half or the adult American public, or voting age public, don’t read anything at all on current events?

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As someone who loathes the bourgeoisie but cannot stand cheap wine or standard diner coffee (I guess I’m at least petit-“bougie” when it comes to food and drink)...... At the same time, I think there’s something else worse to be than “bougie”: bourgeois. And what makes one bourgeois is one’s material and social class position and one’s mental and ideological framework, things that go beyond one’s fondness (or lack thereof) for fine goods and service and one’s quest (or lack thereof) for station. Among other things, a bourgeois world view denies the central importance of class oppression and the need for working class unity and struggle across racial and other lines. (— Paul Street)

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Acting teacher Dan Kozloff will conduct an audition workshop this Saturday, January 23, 2016 from 1pm to 4pm at the Mendocino Theatre Company. Participants should bring a memorized monologue (and, if they wish, an alternate piece). Dan will present some tips about auditioning and will coach the actors to improve their confidence and their effectiveness, so that they can make the best impression possible when demonstrating their “castability” to the directors of the 2016 season. All actors 12 years and older are welcome. Suggested donation is $10. Please sign up by calling the theatre office, 707-937-2718. Space is limited.

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Friend — 

I’m so excited to tell you to about the contest we’re running, today only: One supporter will fly out and join me and my family in Iowa on the biggest day yet of this campaign. Will you enter for the chance to fly out and meet Bill, Chelsea, and me on Caucus Day? 

While I have the chance, I'd like to tell you how grateful I am that you’ve had my back all these months. We don't only have to talk politics — I'd like to hear about what you've been up to and what you have planned. And of course, you're welcome to bring a guest!

 Add your name right now to meet me in Iowa:

Thank you,


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After over 20 years of mostly unsuccessful treatment for depression from both psychiatrists and psychotherapists, I have seen a bias in treatment toward internal causes of depression like brain chemistry, thoughts/cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and very little attention paid to external causes of depression like trauma, child abuse, conflict, and social and economic injustice. As a depression patient I feel I've been led to see my suffering as essentially "all my fault". This cultural bias is probably a major reason why the majority of depression sufferers avoid treatment altogether or don't stick with it if they do try it. In essence, the "cure" can feel worse than the illness.

Bruce Levine, PhD in his 2007 book "Surviving America's Depression Epidemic— How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy" asserts that the consumer culture that dominates American society is a source of a depression epidemic, and that conventional treatments for people who feel alienated from such a culture can actually increase their alienation and contribute to their despair. Levine points out that the rate of depression in America is now between ten and twenty times as much as it was fifty years ago and that depression has increasingly become a young person's problem in which the average age of the first onset of depression in now fourteen or fifteen years old.

Like Dr. Peter Breggin, a well-known New York psychiatrist critical of the proliferation of psychiatric drugs in the last twenty five years, Bruce Levine asserts that "there is no scientific evidence that depression is a consequence of any chemical imbalance we can measure," and further, that "rather than correcting a specific chemical imbalance, there is much more evidence that psychotropic drugs work by dampening one's emotional experiences."

For years I felt a certain smugness around using psychiatric drugs in that I was using "medicine" and not "getting wasted" with alcohol or illegal drugs. But after reading Peter Breggin and now Bruce Levine it's clear my use of psychiatric medication was most likely accomplishing the same task of alcohol and illegal drugs in anesthetizing myself.

In an article from on his website (, Bruce Levine talks of how in 2012 NPR reporter Alex Spiegel was surprised to discover that "the psychiatric establishment now claims it has always known that the biochemical imbalance theory of depression was not true." In 2011, Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief of the "Psychiatric Times" stated, "In truth, the 'chemical imbalance' notion was always a kind of urban legend — never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists." In 2007 Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the highest U.S. governmental mental health official, told Newsweek that "depression is not caused by low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin." Levine states that "psychiatry made no serious attempt to publicize the fact that the research had rejected this chemical imbalance theory, a theory effectively used in commercials to sell antidepressants as correcting this chemical imbalance — an imbalance psychiatry knew did not exist."

Levine states in "Surviving America's Depression Epidemic" that the "pharmaceutical companies ... have been so effective at marketing the neurotransmitter deficiency theory of depression that even though the NIMH has now retreated from this view, the general public and many doctors continue to believe it." Depression is profitable for Big Pharma and the mental health treatment industry, and when anything, including mental illness, becomes extremely profitable, we are likely to see more of it. Consequently, the rates of depression and mental illness in the U.S. have steadily increased.

Levine asserts that there is a certain phenomenon contributing to the increased rates of depression. In a culture pushing productivity and efficiency unrelentingly on its members, a strategy some Americans use to withdraw and be contemplative without regard for productivity and efficiency is to become ill. Illness has become "one of our few socially acceptable routes to meet our needs for contemplative withdrawal."

Levine argues that one possible reason for the increasing rate of depression among Americans is that this culture *demands* happiness. Since the ascent of advertising in the early 1900's and especially the consumer boom following World War II the U.S. has become a nation primarily of consumers rather than citizens and an "unhappiness taboo" has dominated here. In a consumer culture "people are forever trying to buy happiness and sellers are expected to appear happy so as to inspire confidence in what they are offering." Most businesses are in some sense selling happiness or relief from unhappiness, and thus there is enormous pressure to maintain the appearance of happiness.

Levine also asserts that over the last several decades there has been a transformation in the United States in which "corporations and other bureaucracies have increasingly taken over American society and required a more conformist personality." Americans have acquiesced to something Levine calls "institutionalization: the domination by gigantic, impersonal, bureaucratic, standardized entities" that have attempted to have everyone fit into increasingly standardized environments. This has contributed to increasing numbers of Americans feeling alienated, inadequate, and depressed.

I earlier mentioned my experience of psychiatric medication numbing me from pain, and Levine argues that this is a sign of the consumer culture which urges us to numb and divert us from emotional pain. He says that "increasingly the US economy is based on diversions and anesthetizations." He makes the somewhat radical (for this culture) assertion that "nature does not want us to permanently anesthetize emotional pain."

In "Surviving America's Depression Epidemic," Bruce Levine focuses on several potential solutions to the depression epidemic including the topics of morale, healing, wholeness, self-acceptance, life beyond self, but for brevity's sake I will highlight the area he covers that I feel is most significant in relieving the depression epidemic, and that is "Public Passion and Reclaiming Community."

Levine begins his chapter on reclaiming community by highlighting a popular book by sociologist Robert Putnam called "Bowling Alone" (2000) which states that "while American society has been an unparalleled success in producing financial and material capital, Putnam makes it painfully clear that it has ravaged *social capital*, his term for social connectedness." Putnam links low levels of social support to depression and states that half a century of research indicates that "happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one's social connections." Putnam details a social collapse in the U.S. on every level: work, informal social connections, family, and progressive religious institutions.

Levine writes of a "It's-nobody's-fault" attitude toward depression which asserts that it's neither the individual's nor his parent's fault for being depressed, a seductive exoneration of responsibility "blaming brain chemistry rather than confronting society and human relationships." Levine argues that the "It's-nobody's-fault" belief is used as a marketing tactic that benefits mental health professionals by making parents feel less threatened about taking their children to treatment as well as benefitting Big Pharma by leading to drugs and profits. If our society had an abundance of healthy families and communities that encouraged human relationships, the mental health profession would probably be out of business.

Levine asserts that "our extreme industrial society values other things more than human connectedness," specifically efficiency, production, and consumption. In an "extremist industrial-consumer society" that worships production and consumption above all else, healthy families, intimacy, and friendships are a threat: "Maintaining families and groups requires attention and energy, and time spent on human relationships is time taken away from production and consumption." Levine states that time and mindfulness are required for human relationships which cannot be done without a rebellion against the worship of industrialization and consumerism.

Levine references the work of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl ("Man's Search for Meaning," 1959), who believed that "emotional pain can have meaning, and meaning can provide direction and energy" and that "the striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man."

Bruce Levine "wrote this book for people whose gut tells them that depression is neither a character defect nor a biochemical defect but rather a normal, albeit painful, human reaction." A depression sufferer is facing an oppressive force in a consumer culture adhering to an "unhappiness taboo" and an economy which merely encourages us to divert and anesthetize ourselves with consumer products and services including those sold by the pharmaceutical and mental health treatment industries. Levine asserts that there are healthier, more satisfying and dignified options than having one's "normal, albeit painful" depression be pathologized and exploited for profit by an industrial-consumer culture that is a large source of the pain to begin with.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Volunteer Need for Market Match Program at Fort Bragg Farmers Market

The Fort Bragg Farmers Market has the great opportunity to receive matching dollars from the federal government to provide extra money to EBT users (formerly called food stamps) for purchase of fruits and vegetables. EBT users will receive $10 extra per market day visit to buy extra fruits and vegetables. We are looking for volunteers who would like to help with EBT/Market Match Tokens, Market Match promotion, and/or chef demo/taste test to promote fruits and vegetables. Every volunteer hour will be matched by $20 from the federal government for the EBT Market Match program. If you are interested, please contact Petra Schulte at 937-4704 or email her at This is also a great opportunity to boost sales at the farmers market, further sustain our local economy and help people on foods stamps afford healthy food. If you don't have the time but would like to support this great program, you can make a donation that will be matched 1:1 by federal dollars. Contact Petra at 937-4704 or email her at

Donald Cruser, Mendocino

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Assemblage artists mesh form and content

by Roberta Werdinger

On Saturday, January 30, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., a reception will be held at the Grace Hudson Museum for In the Construction Zone: Mendocino County Assemblage Art, a new exhibit featuring diverse and surprising works by County residents Spencer Brewer, Larry Fuente, Joan Giannecchini, Esther Siegel, Susan Spencer, Denver Tuttle and Michael Wilson. The artists and Curator Karen Holmes will be present at the reception, and all are warmly invited.

If you have ever felt that your life was a work in process, you are not alone. Early in the twentieth century, artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp began to create work that was as much process as product. Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) showed the tracks of a body in motion at a time when the moving picture was just making inroads into culture. Duchamp also famously scrawled on a urinal and claimed it as art, igniting a controversy but also encouraging artists to look to the detritus of everyday life for inspiration. Assemblage Art, named such by Jean Dubuffet in the 1950s, came to be seen as an art form of its own, a hybrid of painting and sculpture. Soon, respected artists such as Joseph Cornell and Louise Nevelson made Assemblage Art their main form of expression, and subcultures from punk rockers of the 80s to the present-day steampunk movement were joining together objects in ever more fantastic forms.

Assemblage artists commonly use found objects, combined together in improbable ways that suggest new structures and create new stories. Materials employed in Assemblage Art are endless and include fabric, metal, buttons, cardboard, photographs, feathers and other animal parts, beads, dolls, ritual and religious objects and car parts—a list only limited by an artist's ability to wrestle an unlikely object into counterpoint, however unwieldy, with another.

The seven artists in this show make use of the Assemblage medium in as many far-ranging and varied ways as Mendocino County itself, with some artists mainly using found objects and others assembling or adorning new forms. In her series "The Celestials," Joan Giannecchini creates presence where there was absence by recreating the history of hitherto ignored Chinese immigrants in Nevada, layering black and white photos with brightly colored desert landscapes to evoke a theater of the imagination. Esther Siegel crafts assemblages where toys and books merge, adorns tea kettles with doll parts, and turns utilitarian objects into unexpected new forms. Improbable worlds—whimsical, yet also ironic—are created. Michael Wilson's assemblages have a more reverent tone, bringing photographs and other objects from the past into gravely beautiful circles and boxes that evince their own poetic logic. Susan Spencer combines old objects weighted with meaning—wheels, pyramids, wings—into Cornell-like boxes and statues that somehow are both mystical and humorous. Since these objects have been detached from the context that imbued them with authority, it is now up to the viewer to endow them with meaning.

The way in which meaning is construed somewhere between the artist's work and the viewer's eye is a central concern of artist Denver Tuttle. Using silicone, reflective Duralar, and other non-transparent materials, Tuttle creates trompe l'oeil objects that resemble mirrors, gems and other reflective and see-through items. Musical entrepreneur Spencer Brewer will display his Tesla Man, a humanoid figure embedded with electrical implants that glow when plugged in, built with Dick Billups. (Visitors can enjoy a fully electrified Tesla Man on Sunday, Feb. 21, when Brewer gives a gallery tour along with other artists.) Finally, Larry Fuente, whose work is on display at the Smithsonian, lets loose his imagination on everything from animal display models to human mannequins, using beads, shells and jewelry that transform everyday objects into carnivalesque celebrations, with wildly proliferating colors and designs.

Tesla Man, Blue Moon
Tesla Man, Blue Moon

Curator Karen Holmes and Museum Director Sherrie Smith-Ferri felt that, since the Museum itself was in the middle of a multistage construction project, this was the perfect time to invite in artists whose work reflects that same sense of being in process. In addition to interior renovation, the exterior grounds of the Museum are being expanded and reconfigured into a series of native plant gardens with outdoor educational exhibits that highlight Pomo Indian land use, a rainwater harvesting system and many other exciting elements. As the Museum continues its project of preserving Grace Hudson's legacy along with that of Pomo Indian peoples, Holmes hopes that this exhibit of contemporary artwork will expand the Museum's circle of visitors and draw in more young people, as well as fans of Modern art.

In the Construction Zone: Mendocino County Assemblage Art will be on display from January 30 to April 17, 2016. Special events will include an artists' gallery tour on Sunday, Feb. 21 with Spencer Brewer, Esther Siegel, Susan Spencer and Michael Wilson (Joan Giannecchini, Denver Tuttle and Larry Fuente will give a tour on April 9); a First Friday Art Walk on March 4 and April 1, when the Museum is open for free in the evening; and a Family Fun at the Museum event on March 12.

The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. For more information please call 467-2836 or go to

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by Dan Bacher

In his State of the State Address at the State Capitol in Sacramento today, Governor Jerry Brown promoted building “reliable conveyance” — the controversial Delta Tunnels Plan proposed under the California Water Fix and California Water Action Plan — and building “storage” to supposedly achieve the goal of providing a reliable water supply for the state's residents.

“One of the bright spots in our contentious politics is the joining together of both parties and the people themselves to secure passage of Proposition 1, the Water Bond,” said Brown. “That, together with our California Water Action Plan, establishes a solid program to deal with the drought and the longer-term challenge of using our water wisely.”

“Our goal must be to preserve California’s natural beauty and ensure a vibrant economy – on our farms, in our cities and for all the people who live here. There is no magic bullet but a series of actions must be taken. We have to recharge our aquifers, manage the groundwater, recycle, capture stormwater, build storage and reliable conveyance, improve efficiency everywhere, invest in new technologies – including desalination – and all the while recognize that there are some limits,” he stated.

He also uttered some of the “achieving balance between conflicting parties” rhetoric that he has become known for, all while he continues to serve the interests of the corporate agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Timber and other corporate interests through his anti-environmental water policies that have brought Central Valley steelhead and salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other fish species to the brink of extinction under his administration.

“Achieving balance between all the conflicting interests is not easy but I pledge to you that I will listen and work patiently to achieve results that will stand the test of time," Brown claimed. “Water goes to the heart of what California is and what it has been over centuries. Pitting fish against farmer misses the point and grossly distorts reality. Every one of us and every creature that dwells here form a complex system which must be understood and respected.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, immediately responded to the State of theState by saying, “We are thrilled to hear Governor Brown’s commitment to protecting ecological systems. And we are glad he has committed to solving today's problems without making them worse.”

However, she then blasted Brown for moving ahead with the Delta Tunnels project, considered by many to be potentially the most environmentally destructive project in California history.

“Unfortunately, Governor Brown insists on moving forward with the Delta tunnels project despite serious environmental concerns raised by numerous organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency which found the plan ‘incomplete’ with required analysis ‘not yet done,’” Barrigan-Parrilla said.

“The tunnels will destroy the sole source of drinking water for one million Delta residents, the physical environment and the state's most magnificent fisheries and breathtaking habitat for birds on the Pacific flyway, not to mention the agricultural and related economies for an additional three million Delta area residents,” she stated.

“The Delta tunnels will cost $17 billion before cost overruns and interest, and will not make any new water for California. Perhaps the Governor should take his own advice and drop his bad Delta Tunnels plan,” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

She also described a new video promoting the tunnels released by the Governor’s Office today as “mockworthy.” The “California WaterFix Video” is hyperlinked to the words "reliable conveyance" in the on line transcript of Brown’s speech:

Californians for Water Security, a group describing itself as a “coalition supporting the plan to fix California’s aging water infrastructure, including business leaders, labor, family farmers, local governments, water experts and others,” also responded to the address in a statement. The group applauded Governor Brown’s comments in the State of the State address “discussing the importance of fixing our state’s water infrastructure.”

“There is a strong political will to get this done now,” said Michael Quigley, Executive Director of the Alliance for Jobs. “We desperately need to replenish groundwater basins, fill up reservoirs, and recharge our existing water supplies – but without a reliable conveyance we cannot get water where it’s needed and too much water will be wasted out to sea that should be captured.”

Delta Tunnels are one of Brown’s many anti-environmental policies.

While Brown has posed as a “climate leader” and “green governor” at conferences and photo opportunities around the globe, he has overseen water policies that have brought Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and a host of other species to the edge of extinction, in addition to promoting the Delta Tunnels Plan, a project that will only cause further ecological and economic damage.

His administration in 2011 presided over record water exports out the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — and the killing of millions of Sacramento splittail, an imperiled native minnow, and other species at the Delta pumps. (

More recently, fish species ranging from endangered Delta Smelt to Striped Bass plummeted to record low population levels in 2015, according to the annual fall survey report released on December 18 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). (

Only 6 Delta Smelt, an endangered species that once numbered in the millions and was the most abundant fish in the Delta, were collected at the index stations in the estuary this fall. The 2015 index (7), a relative number of abundance, “is the lowest in history,” said Sara Finstad, an environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region.

Meanwhile, Brown promotes the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil drilling techniques in California and backs potentially genocidal carbon trading policies and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), according to indigenous leaders. (

In addition, Brown oversaw the “completion” of “marine protected areas,” created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, that don’t protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

And it was only after months of intense pressure from environmentalists, public health advocates and Porter Ranch residents that Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak disaster that began on October 23. Meanwhile, Brown’s sister, Kathleen, plays a significant role at Sempra Energy, the corporation that owns SoCalGas, the company responsible for the gas blowout. She earned $188,380 in her position as a board member in 2014 and $267,865 in 2013. (

Conflicts of interest like this one abound in a state where the regulatory apparatus has been captured by the regulated, including Big Oil, corporate agribusiness, the timber industry and other corporate interests.


  1. james marmon January 22, 2016

    • james marmon January 22, 2016

      When criminals in this world appear,
      And break the laws that they should fear,
      And frighten all who see or hear,
      The cry goes up both far and near for

      Speed of lightning, roar of thunder,
      Fighting all who rob or plunder
      Underdog, Underdog, Underdog.

      When in this world the headlines read
      Of those who’s hearts are filled with greed
      And rob and steal from those in need.
      To right this wrong with blinding speed goes

      Speed of lightning, roar of thunder,
      Fighting all who rob or plunder
      Underdog, Underdog, Underdog.

  2. Mike January 22, 2016

    Just checked my email and the Point Arena city council agenda for Jan. 26th meeting is there. With a major “urgency” ordinance being proposed.

    It appears that soon there will be zoned areas inside Point Arena’s city limits allowing the full range of commercial operations related to medical marijuana: from growing, to processing, packaging, distributing, selling, etc.

    And, there does also seem to be some encouragement for the skateboard project that Brian Riehl (Hoolis) and others have earnestly promoted.

  3. Harvey Reading January 22, 2016

    Re: “The student was able to kick the assailant in the groin and run to her residence, where she notified her mother.”

    Good. A girl who knows exactly what to do. Hope the bastard still feels it, or worse.

    • BB Grace January 22, 2016

      I support Margie Handley, Old Howard Hospital is centrally located and ready to be occupied, the County is broke.

      I wish Mendocino County Health and Human Services was as capable as Allman because Allman’s proposal would appear to be simply enlarging the jail if we had a Mental HEALTH hospital/wing, preventing many from having to go to jail to get help.

      • Mike January 22, 2016

        Looks like, from reading the last paragraphs and the middle ones too, that this would be separate from the jail extension project, thankfully.

        I was thinking, when reading through this BB, that they would still need that $22 million over the next five years to fix up the Old Howard Hospital. Now, with Ukiah the chief population center, that means a lot of 5150s will have to be transported 20 miles up north. BUT, otoh, Willits being the location makes access easier for patients coming from the number two population center. So, I agree….makes sense to use the infrastructure money raised by a half cent tax not on building something new when it can be used to retrofit that old hospital in Willits.

        • BB Grace January 22, 2016

          Recently I’ve been reading about Psycopathy recently Mike, and find it interesting that doctors can determine types of psychopathy with brain scans. Psychopathy can not be treated with medication. These studies are changing mental health radically, and I would hope that Mendocino County would look to the future of HEALTH, find grants and work to expand medical facilities and reduce correctional solutions to the mental health problem.

      • james marmon January 22, 2016

        BB Grace, the problem with Ms. Margie Handley’s proposal is that she wants to have Ortner run it. She wants to make it another Ortner facility like the Old Coast Motel. More, more, more, Ortner.

        As for your belief that it will be nothing more than an extension of the County jail, you are truly mistaken. The Sheriff has made it clear that he expects members of the Community to oversee and run the facility, not law enforcement.

        I really like what he is doing, and pledge my support.

        • BB Grace January 22, 2016

          I don’t buy that Margie Handley wants Ortner. She wants to find a use for the Old Howard Hospital that will serve Mendocino County and doesn’t care if it’s Ortner or County Union, or whoever Health and Human Services, CEO and BOS contrats with.

          Margie Handley’s albatross is the petty side of the County who never congratulates or shows Margie Handley appreciation for the wonderful things she does for Mendocino County, rather they continue to hold grudges and vent greivances over a situation she had no control whatsoever.

          Fort Bragg City does the same thing with Affinito, who to this day has done more for Fort Bragg than the entire Council, Gjerde, and RUFFING combined.

          My favorite elected is Allman and I sleep better at night knowing we have a great sheriff. I admire his coming up with a solution, but don’t believe mental HEALTH is his job. So NO I will not support expanding Sheriff facilities, but I’ll vote for Allman, who is the only candidate in Mendocino worth voting for anymore.

        • BB Grace January 22, 2016

          The First Green Hospital that last year was one of eight hospitalis in all California to receive five stars.

          Way to go Margie!!! Kudos! My hat’s off to yah! I wish there were more Margie Handleys.

  4. james marmon January 22, 2016

    Well, just as I suspected, the Board of Supervisors have no plans to replace OMG or RMQC. It is “full speed ahead.”

    “There’s also always the option of bringing it back in-house, but I don’t think there are anywhere near three votes to bring it in-house. Management staff is very resistant to talking about bringing it back in-house (because of cost and more the risk of cost over-runs from year to year, is their biggest”


    Wait until he gets a load of the over-runs by RQMC and their providers, that’s coming soon.

    • james marmon January 22, 2016

      A message from me to Dan Djerde, “your Management staff are fucking idiots.”

  5. james marmon January 22, 2016

    Please add “concern” after “biggest”.

  6. Matt B January 22, 2016

    Animal Care Administrative Woes:

    I’m actively involved in the dog rescue community in Mendocino County. I don’t have a horse in the race with regards to the current shelter management vs. the Sonoma nonprofit because I don’t interact with the shelter during the course of my volunteer work. I’ve heard both sides of the story with countless variations.

    I’m trying to be objective because pet rescue work, by it’s very nature is filled with emotionally-driven people, so I look at it this way…If only 10% of the stories I’ve heard about pets being withheld from owners to ‘teach them a lesson’, special-needs pets denied medicine or proper warmth relative to their size and coat density, or dogs being put down for minor behavioral infractions that can be easily addressed…if only 10% of those are true, I’d say we have a serious problem at our county shelter.

  7. Bruce McEwen January 22, 2016

    Hey, Mike. Remember the night your drove me to Wiilits w/ a change of sox, skivvies and a sweater I’d bought at the charity shop, the second-hand store run by the local hospice, the care for the dad.

    • Mike January 23, 2016

      You wanted to spend the night in a tree but a young lady beat you to it, LOL.

      I largely remember that night because as we were approaching Willits I started to look for the freeway exit!! How lame was that. Should Mr. Magoo’s like that even have a driver’s license?? After all, we were headed up there to put you in a tree (to relieve W. Parrish) in order to protest the building of a BYPASS (when there would then be freeway exits.

  8. Bruce McEwen January 22, 2016

    Will Parish is my personal Hero, dude!

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