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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016

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by Linda Williams

As we focus on the lessons revealed from the Kemper Report on the status of the county’s mental health program, one should not lose sight of one observation about the Board of Supervisors. The report criticizes the supervisors for failing to require a better written contract in the beginning.

While this has had tragic results in the mental health program, the supervisors’ failure to hold the executive office accountable is evident in nearly every other aspect of county government.

Since the county switched to the executive model of government in 2005, the supervisors have evolved into rubber stamps and ceded their leadership role to the chief executive office. The Board of Supervisors meetings have become a parody of governing. They are presented with one choice and told if they don’t choose the CEO’s recommendation there will be dire consequences.

The supervisors now seem to believe they are no longer responsible for the state of anything within the county. For budget matters they point at the auditor, for the state of mental health they point at the Health and Human Services director, for contract negotiations they point to the CEO, et cetera.

This process leaves them free to go to various public events, shake hands and nod wisely, all the while leaving the tough decisions in the hands of the CEO. This has allowed them to “have their cake and eat it too.”

Unfortunately the public did not elect the CEO, so she is not accountable to anyone except the board.

The shift from the County Administrator form of government to the County Executive has been a difficult one for the Boards of Supervisors. The county was forced to buy out the contracts of the two CEOs recruited from out of county to fill the position. These expensive squabbles have apparently left the board with no appetite for doing their job.

The board needs to require the executive office to bring them key issues and solicit their input into them — before the decision is made, and not as an afterthought. They need to require the executive office to bring them facts and problems, not whitewashed power point presentations.

This county has serious problems which will continue to worsen unless they are addressed head on. We are not saying the board can fix all problems, but they certainly cannot unless the board at least acknowledges the issues.

It is clear from the Kemper Report the HHSA organization failed to do its job and failed to provide full disclosure.

Many of these issues were brought to light first by whistleblowers within the agency and subsequently by several Grand Juries but the CEO’s office — who prepared the boards’ responses, failed to acknowledge their validity.

The new board Chairman Dan Gjerde seems to be headed in the right direction. We hope the other supervisors support his efforts to bring issues forward early, to discuss and debate them when there is still time to actually make a difference.

It is time for our supervisors to demonstrate leadership as a board, step up to the plate and do their job.

Linda Williams, Editor, The Willits News

(Courtesy, The Willits News)

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, at their December 10, 2013 meeting, issued the usual insincere proclamation honoring the late Al Beltrami for his “years of dedicated service to the county and his community.” You'd think the guy was a volunteer all those years, 1965 to 1989, not the well-paid bureaucrat that he was. Then he was back again as interim CEO at big pay. Not to be too harsh about it, but Mendocino County has never been a Swiss watch of civic functioning. Beltrami's only lasting accomplishment was staying in the job as long as he did.

IN 2005, THE COUNTY went to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) arrangement on the theory that a CEO would be able to hold the appointed Department Heads accountable in a way that the Board of Supes could not. Exhibit A for the utter lack of accountability under the old CAO system was Ray Hall, who served 30 undistinguished years letting his in-box pile up as Director of Planning and Building Services. Except under Hall there was no planning. None. Which explains a lot about the way Mendocino County is today. (The entire Anderson Valley portion of the new County general plan completely disappeared into Hall's in-box. He shuffled off into an undoubtedly disoriented retirement to a chorus of Way to go, Ray! from the supervisors, Mendo's very own, Good Job, Brownie.)

JOHN BALL WAS HIRED as the first CEO under the new system and quickly demonstrated that he took the power to hire and fire department heads seriously. For doing his job, the Supervisors fired him. Ball had a habit of firing people without first making sure he had the support of a majority of the Supes. But his fatal mistake was crossing the famously self-interested (and crooked) Fourth and Fifth District Supervisors, Kendall Smith and David Colfax who later distinguished themselves as being the only Supes to adamantly refuse to take even a one percent pay cut when they were eagerly imposing a ten percent pay cut on the rest of the County workforce. (For pure, grasping hypocrisy, Mendocino County's “liberals” are in a class by themselves; Colfax and Smith, any other place, would have been looking at jail time for stealing public money via their relentless chiseling on their travel reimbursements. Colfax got clean away with his thefts, and it took a serious threat from newly elected DA Eyster to convince Smith she'd better cough up at least a partial re-pay.)

SUPERVISOR SMITH, ALWAYS LOOKING TO AUGMENT her taxpayer funded travel budget, ordered CEO Ball to add another $100,000 to the Supes budget, half of it earmarked exclusively for additional travel. When Ball refused she immediately turned to Supervisor Colfax, urging him to use his power as Chair of the Board to straighten Ball out. Within the hour Colfax was on the phone to Ball, invoking his authority as Board chair to order Ball to “do what Kendall says.” Ball replied that he would be happy to as soon as he was directed by three votes of the Board in open session to do so. But Smith and Colfax wanted Ball to take the fall for doing their dirty work. When he refused, the writing was on the wall. But Ball had the foresight to write into his contract that as long as he survived one year in Mendocino County, he would be entitled to one year's severance pay. Because he had served just over a year before being canned, the County was forced to fork over another $130,000, courtesy of Smith and Colfax, clearly two of the most self-aggrandizing and dishonorable individuals ever to serve in public office in this county.

AFTER SACKING JOHN BALL, the only honest and truly capable ceo we've had here, the Supes, led by Smith and Colfax, immediately changed the CEO ordinance to require that the CEO first had to check in with the Board before hiring or firing department heads. Which meant the CEO no longer had the power of a CEO. And which explains why Ray Hall, widely rumored to have been next on John Ball's hit list, was able to finish out his long tenure of unrelieved incompetence. After a few months wasting consultant level money on an temporary “interim” CEO, the Board then exhumed Al Beltrami to serve as the long-term interim CEO (CEO in name only), thereby assuring that the County would instantly return to its familiar, rudderless mediocrity.

TUESDAY’S BELTRAMI PROCLAMATION makes the inflated assertion that “Al [sic] served as a stabilizing presence, demonstrating leadership, accountability, and teamwork in restoring a sense of unity throughout an evolving organization as it endeavored to chart a new course.” Leadership? Accountability? Please. In 2006 and 2007, when Beltrami served as a caretaker CEO, the County was still in the pre-financial crash mindset of business as usual. The pension fund, hopelessly upside down, was being steadily milked for its imaginary “excess earnings”; the overdrawn Teeter Plan was tottering; the preposterous Slavin Study, pushed by supervisors Colfax and Smith, found that top-tier local management like — surprise! — Colfax and Smith, needed their pay doubled, although the raises were undermining the fiscal solvency of the County; and incompetent department heads were insulated from any and all accountability as the County stumbled towards the looming fiscal cliff.

THE COUNTY THEN REHIRED AL BELTRAMI in 2006 as an interim CEO after John Ball was fired. "We brought Al back to calm things down and to bring some gentleness and levelheadedness back to the county," Wattenburger said, a major bumbler and apparent nut case in his own right. (He carried a concealed weapon to Supe's meetings because "the hippies" were stalking him.) "He did a typical Al Beltrami outstanding job."

NEXT CAME TOM ‘I’M LOOKING INTO IT’ MITCHELL who was hired as CEO from Calaveras County. Mitchell quickly promoted Carmel Angelo from her position as HHSA director to be his assistant and Stacey Cryer became Director of HHSA in 2009. Mendo government has always turned to Mommy figures in times of crisis, the wrong mommies as things have turned out.

When the crash hit about the same time Mitchell was forced to resign for multiple failures to do anything at all, that left the Supervisors with a serious need to downsize. And there was Carmel Angelo who put up her hand up when someone asked, “Who do we have that has the necessary moxie to fire a bunch of people so we can balance our seriously deficit-ridden budget?”

Mommy? Mommy, is that you?

Enter Angelo. Having established her “I’ll do what’s necessary to keep the finances looking good” bonafides, Ms. Angelo got a big “thank you” raise and a brand new multi-year contract — as she knocked off roughly 500 employees in about a year.

But meanwhile the Mental Health Department had been privatized into the current mess and lots of other operations in the HHSA department that Angelo had left behind (cf, children’s services, the animal shelter nowadays, etc.), went unmanaged and in a failing state.

But the Board of Supervisors, having relinquished their executive authority years ago, were stuck with one CEO after the next who won’t even provide the Board with ordinary management reports for each department. Hence, flare up after flare up — and more to come, bet on it.

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Toby & Ray Smith
Toby & Ray Smith

TOBY SMITH has died. She was 85. Well-known as a writer on regional affairs and history, Mrs. Smith and her husband, Ray Smith, a retired reporter for the Press Democrat, made their permanent home in Santa Rosa, but much enjoyed their second home on Indian Creek in Philo. Ray Smith died in 2011 at age 83. Mrs. Smith is survived by her sons Scott and Andy, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. No services are planned.

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Instead Of 'Glorious Offices' At Old Coast Hotel

(Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County’s $2 million idea to turn a motel on a run-down strip of Santa Rosa Avenue into permanent housing for homeless people is now a reality.

(Courtesy, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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71-YEAR-OLD Luther Jones Jr., of Lake County, got 27 years for a crime he didn't commit, and what else is new in the country with the highest incarceration rates in the world. But Mr. Jones makes you wonder at the pure incompetence (or worse) of his defense, since he's done twenty years already on the testimony of a child whose mother made her lie that Jones had molested her. Turns out Mom wanted to get Jones for whatever reason and put her daughter up to lying about the guy while the daughter was being actively molested by lovely Mom's new boy friend. Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson has filed a writ of habeas corpus to get Jones out of prison, pronto, and Jones, assuming he doesn't hire the same lawyer who got him put away for twenty while allegedly defending him, is due for a very large pay day from Lake County. Mommy Dearest ought to be in line for a few years behind bars herself, but she's probably buried in boy friends and would be too hard to find.

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STREET LIGHTS, for those who think they're essential to rural life, now have a website to report to when they go dark and reveal the glorious night sky in all its coruscating brilliance and endless mystery. Street light trouble? A reader advises, "Write down all numbers on the pole and put a location (not just an address). I saw the one on the west end of the Fairgrounds parking lot was completely out and I reported the next two, heading east, as intermittently being out.

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ON-LINE COMMENT of the day: Drive hundreds of miles into a barren wasteland, and when your truck runs out of gas just find some pieces of paper and start drawing on them to make them look like money, problem solved? Illusions only work briefly, they are not a long term strategy. People living on a finite planet can print money all day long, but in the end, it’s the actual available resources that matter.

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WE'RE REASSURED to learn that Mendocino County hospitals are so clean you are unlikely to leave sicker than you went in. The state's Department of Public Health says Mendo's healing centers reported zero staph and blood infections for all of 2014. Stand up and take a bow, Ukiah Valley Medical Center, Frank R. Howard Memorial (Willits) and the Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg.

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COASTAL COMMISSION PURGE … Those commissioners voting to remove Lester insist that their action was motivated by concerns over the Executive Director’s management style, rather than any pro-development sentiments on their part. Many observers — including California newspaper editorial boards — are not buying that explanation, and fear that Lester’s firing signals a philosophical shift making the Coastal Commission more amenable to coastal development interests.

We won’t have to wait long to get at least an inkling of the Commission’s future policy course: at its March meeting, the Commission is scheduled to consider a massive new coastal development project proposed for the Orange County coast.

How the Commission votes on that high profile, controversial project should provide interested observers with some sense of whether Executive Director Lester’s ouster does indeed signal a more pro-development stance by the Commission... (emphasis added)

— Richard Frank on Legal Planet

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ALEXANDER VALLEY RESORT is the conceptually ghastly multi-million dollar resort and housing development proposed for the wilderness southeast of perennially water-short Cloverdale. That shortage may have persuaded the developers to drop the 18-hole golf course they wanted to promise the kind of well-heeled but un-evolved sports who think life within sight and sound of the 18th hole is the zenith of classy living. If you can't quite afford life on the putting green there's always Cloverdale's "senior" housing tract where life is very, very quiet. The resort comes with an estimated price tag between $2 and $300 mil.

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On 2/13/2016 around 11:30 PM Deputies with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a missing 35-year old adult male in the 41000 Block of Wilderness Lodge Road in Branscomb. Upon their arrival they learned a 35 year old male, who'd lived in the area most of his life, had gone for a hike in the late afternoon/evening but failed to return. The man's mother reported that he takes a similar hike almost every afternoon and is rarely out more than a couple of hours. She became worried when he failed to return and filed a missing persons report. Deputies responded to the area but due to the steep terrain and darkness they were unable to locate the man. Mendocino County Sheriff's Volunteer Search and Rescue members were deployed in the early hours of 2/14/16. At approximately 10:15 AM the missing person was found walking along a small dirt road leading back towards his home. He'd been out all night in the damp air and was cold, a little disoriented, but otherwise appeared in decedent [sic] health. The man declined medical treatment. He indicated that he became disoriented in the darkness and lost his way.

(Sheriff’s Office Press Release)

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by Malcolm Macdonald

Walking upriver a piece, beyond the forks where the sun bakes the gravel bar and pepperwoods shadow the Indian trail, eventually Ed Sniece's place comes into view. If the valley fog has lifted its cloak.

The casual observer might spot Ed on his redwood roofed porch and think he was whittling. But he's not whittling, he's splitting kindling so fine it resembles foot long toothpicks. Ed speaks without glancing up from his short hatchet chops. “The woman's 'round back planting garden.”

The front yard blooms daffodil yellow and higher up, plum pink and white. Something akin to a grunt emanates from the apple orchard to the west.

Hatchet still, Ed looks up, twists on his three-legged stool, seemingly examining the wire fence that separates the Sniece yard from the orchard that runs eight Gravensteins and Rhode Island Greenings deep by four rows wide to a point where the ground rises steeply into the wooded hillside.

“Damn pigs rooting 'round. Haven't seen 'em in these parts in a coons age. I'll be damned if...”

Ed rises, strides to the front door, and on inside. A matter of seconds short of a minute he's outside again, Winchester cradled on one arm while he slides a couple of rounds from a box into the rifle.

Jamming the box of shells in a back pocket of his jeans, Ed's already at the deer fence, sidestepping for a line of sight. It's not deer season and it's not venison he's after.

A wild hog snorts into view, snuffing at the trunk of a Greening. The report of a shot and the feint hint of gun smoke precedes the squeals echoing downriver. However, the hog Ed aimed at lies dead in the orchard, without even a twitch of last life.

“You can't hit me from there,” a woman's voice calls from behind the house.

“Wild pigs,” Ed responds.

The distant squealing turns southward. “Reckon you broke the other one's heart,” the woman says.

“Ah, she's just outta breath, running uphill.”

Ed empties the bullets from the .30-.30 while he walks to the porch, where he rests the weapon against a side of the wood box. Back at the stool he picks up a chunk of redwood in his left hand and the hatchet with his right. “Anyone who thinks animals don't have emotions... ain't noticed much.”

He nods toward the border collie curled in next to the east end of the wood box. The gray muzzled dog had barely cocked an eye, let alone raised his head at the sound of the gun shot.

“Old Butch's mother had a litter of pups – might have been his time 'cause she only had two litters. Well, she had so many she didn't take note she'd sat on one while the others were suckling. When she finally got up that one pup was suffocated... That's about when I come along. She snuffed at it awhile then the woman and I wrapped it in an old newspaper and buried it.

“That bitch followed us out to the little grave and, you know, it must have been an hour later, but I was down on one knee tamping the dirt and rocking the place down to keep it from varmints. I glanced over and that dog...”

Ed nearly lifted off his stool to holler, “What was the name of Butch's mother?”

“For crying out loud,” the woman replied, “you know, well as I, Bee. Called her Aunt Bee...”

Ed finished the thought, “Cause a bee stung her when she was a pup.”

The voice from the back dropped silent. Ed went on, “Well, like I said, I was down on my knees placing rocks when I looked over and saw Bee with tears rolling out the corners of both her eyes.”

Ed brought the hatchet down, a 3 x 2 inch slab of redwood split clean away. In another few seconds he cleaved that into several kindling sticks then gazed out to the orchard once more. “Damn wild hog, usually tough as bark. Probably won't even smoke up to nothing more than tolerably edible.”

He tossed the kindling into an apple crate, then bent to stroke the old border collie, from the back of his head down to his back. “Hey, Butch, wanna see a dead hog?”

Butch lifted his head, rheumy eyes opening, but he didn't stand.

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by James Kunstler

It ought to be a foregone conclusion that Mr. Obama’s replacement starting January 20, 2017 will preside over conditions of disorder in everyday life and economy never seen before. For the supposedly thinking class in America, the end of reality-optional politics will come as the surprise of their lives.

Where has that hypothetical thinking class been, by the way, the past eight years? Don’t look for it in what used to be called “the newspapers.” The New York Times has become so reality-averse that the editors traded in their blue pencils for Federal Reserve cheerleader pompoms after the Lehman incident of 2008. Every information-dispensing organ has followed their lede: The Recovery Continues! It’s a sturdy plank for promoting the impaired asset known as Hillary.

Don’t look for the thinking class in the universities. They’ve surrendered their traditional duties to a new hybrid persecution campaign that is equal parts Mao Zedong, the Witches of Loudon, and the Asylum at Charenton. For instance the President of Princeton, Mr. Eisgruber, was confronted with a list of demands that included 1) erasure of arch-segregationist Woodrow Wilson’s name from everything on campus, and 2) creation of a new all-black (i.e. segregated) student center. He didn’t blink. Note: nobody in the media asked him about this apparent contradiction. That’s how we roll these days.

Don’t look for the thinking class in business. The C-suites are jammed with people still busy buying back stock in their own companies at outlandish prices with borrowed money. Why? To artificially boost share price and thus their salaries and bonuses. Does it do anything for the fitness of enterprise? No, in fact it makes future failure more likely. Why is there no governance of their insane behavior? Because they’ve also bought and paid for boards of directors composed of a rotating cast of praetorian shills, with fresh recruits entering the scene weekly through the fabled “revolving door” between business and government regulators.

Oh, and then there’s government. Anyone viewing the boasting-and-defamation contests that the cable TV networks call “debates” knows that these spectacles are based on the opposite of thinking. They are not only reality-optional, they’re thought-optional. Hence, it appears for now that America is fixing to elect either a primal screamer or a road-tested grifter to preside over the epochal collapse of our hobbled, exhausted, way of life.

The recent carnage in the stock markets will probably see a retracement after the President’s Day hiatus. They’re bouncing up in other parts of the world today, the triumph of hope over all the available evidence that something fatal has happened out there in Tom Friedman’s supposedly permanent global economy. Some observers suspect that it has something to do with the price of oil, because the oil futures market and the stock indexes seem to go up and down in tandem. But they don’t really get it.

How hard is it to understand that A) that something adverse happens to oil companies when it costs them $70-a-barrel to hoist the product out of the ground and then sell it for $30-a-barrel? And B) that all of the infrastructure of techno-industrial civilization was designed to run on oil under $30-a-barrel and founders when the price goes higher? That’s how it is. That’s your basic reality.

We’ve been trying to work around this vexing problem — the non-linear manifestation of the supposedly bygone predicament called “peak oil” — since the early part of this century. Mainly, we worked around it by borrowing money that wasn’t there. Having created this matrix of borrowed money, we’ve also created an expectation in market obligations that it must be paid back. In fact, the process of paying back money owed is the only thing that supports confidence in a system based on that essential trust — even if that expectation was unreal to begin with. When it is violated, terrible things happen in markets and economies.

Those terrible things are underway. We’re going to be a much-distressed and poorer so-called republic when this year is done with us. The markets will crack and the trade relations that comprise globalism will fall apart as nations and regions of nations struggle to survive. We’ll move inexorably to a very possibly disastrous election. We’ll face the basic choices, as distressed societies always do, of freaking-and-acting-out (usually in the form of war), or opting for a reunion with reality and its mandates. So far, it’s not looking good for the better option.

If you are a thinking person, the months ahead might be your last chance to protect whatever wealth you have and to move to some part of the country where, at least, you can grow some of your own food and become a useful part of a social and economic network that might be called a community.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page!)

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“You fight ISIS first. Right now you have Russia, you have Iran, you have them with Assad and you have them with Syria. You have to knock out ISIS. … You can’t fight two wars at one time.” [But of course, to some of the U.S. establishment, two wars is slacking, they want more than two wars.] Trump continued: “We shoulda never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. … The World Trade Center came down (BOOING) during the reign. He [G. W. Bush] kept us safe?”

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by Ralph Nader

Bernie Sanders is far too easy on Hillary Clinton in their debates. Clinton flaunts her record and experience in ways that Sanders could use to expose her serious vulnerabilities and disqualifications for becoming president. Sanders responds to Clinton’s points, but without the precision that could demolish her arrogance.

For example, she repeatedly says that Sanders has not levelled with people about the cost of full Medicare for all, or single-payer. Really? In other countries, single-payer is far simpler and more efficient than our present profiteering, wasteful, corporatized healthcare industry. Canada covers all of its citizens, with free choice of doctors and hospitals, for about $4,500 per capita, compared to the over $9,000 per capita cost in the U.S. system that still leaves tens of millions of people uninsured or underinsured.

Detailed studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show big savings from a single-payer system in our country.

It is Hillary Clinton who is not levelling with the people about the costs of maintaining the spiraling U.S. costs of drugs, hospital stays and insurance premiums that are the highest in the world. The costs include: 1) the waste of well over $1 trillion a year; 2) daily denials of coverage by the Aetnas of the corporate world; 3) about forty thousand Americans dying each year, according to a peer-reviewed Harvard Medical School study, because they cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time; and 4) daily agonizing negotiations over insurance company denials, exclusions and bureaucratic paperwork that drive physicians up the wall.

Clinton hasn’t explained why she was once for single-payer until she defined her “being practical” as refusing to take on big pharma, commercial hospital chains and the giant insurance companies. She is very “practical” about taking political contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street and the health care industry.

As one 18 year-old student told the New York Times recently about Clinton, “sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone.”

This protector of the status quo and the gross imbalance of power between the few and the many expresses perfectly why Wall Street financiers like her so much and prove it with their large continuing monetary contributions.

Hillary Clinton is not “levelling with the American people,” when she keeps the transcripts (which she requested at the time) of her secret speeches (at $5,000 a minute!) before large Wall Street and trade association conventions. Her speaking contracts mandated secrecy. Clinton still hasn’t told voters what she was telling big bankers and many other industries from automotive to drugs to real estate developers behind closed doors.

She has the gall to accuse Bernie Sanders of not being transparent. Sanders is a presidential candidate who doesn’t take big-fee speeches or big donations from fat cat influence-peddlers, and his record is as clean as the Clintons’ political entanglements are sordid. (See Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer.)

But it is in the area of foreign and military affairs that “Hillary the hawk” is most vulnerable. As Secretary of State her aggressiveness and poor judgement led her to the White House where, sweeping aside the strong objections of Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, she persuaded President Obama to bomb Libya and topple its dictatorial regime.

Gates had warned about the aftermath. He was right. Libya has descended into a ghastly state of chaotic violence that has spilled into neighboring African nations, such as Mali, and that opened the way for ISIS to establish an expanding base in central Libya. Her fellow hawks in Washington are now calling for U.S. special forces to go to Libya.

Whether as Senator on the Armed Services Committee or as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton has never met a war or raid she didn’t like, or a redundant, wasteful weapons system she was willing to aggressively challenge. As president, Hillary Clinton would mean more wars, more raids, more blowbacks, more military spending and more profits for the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower so prophetically warned about in his farewell address.

So when Bernie Sanders properly chided her for having as an advisor, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, she bridled and tried to escape by asking Sanders to name his foreign policy advisors.

In fact, Kissinger and Clinton do have much in common about projecting the American Empire to brutal levels. Kissinger was the “butcher of Cambodia,” launching an illegal assault that destabilized that peaceful country into the Pol Pot slaughter of millions of innocents. She was the illegal “butcher of Libya,” an ongoing, unfolding tragedy whose blowbacks of “unintended consequences” are building by the week.

In a devastating recounting of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous war-making, Professor of Sustainable Economies at Columbia University, Jeffrey D. Sachs concludes that Clinton “is the candidate of the War Machine.” In a widely noted article on Huffington Post Professor Sachs, an advisor the United Nations on millennium development goals, called her record a “disaster,” adding that “Perhaps more than any other person, Hillary can lay claim to having stoked the violence that stretches from West Africa to Central Asia and that threatens U.S. security.”

The transformation of Hillary Clinton from a progressive young lawyer to a committed corporatist and militarist brings shame on the recent endorsement of her candidacy by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

But then, considering all the years of Clintonite double talk and corporate contributions going to the Black Caucus PAC (according to FEC reports January through December, 2015), and the Black Caucus conventions, why should anybody be surprised that Black Lives Matter and a growing surge of young African Americans are looking for someone in the White House who is not known for the Clintons’ sweet-talking betrayals?

See Michelle Alexander’s recent article in The Nation, “Hillary Clinton Does Not Deserve Black People’s Votes” for more information on this subject.

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

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STEPHEN KING on the Kennedy Assassination:

We watched, my mother, my brother, and I. I got out of school and lived in a little town south of Waterville, Maine, and this guy who drove a bunch of us kids back and forth, he never played the radio, and that afternoon the radio was on. He said, “Some son of a bitch just killed the president.” And we were just stunned to silence. We saw everything that happened after that. My mother was a rock-ribbed Republican but she cried her eyes out; she kept talking about the little kids that he had. We were watching Sunday with our dinner in our laps to see Oswald transferred from the lockup in Dallas to the bigger jail, and we saw him assassinated on live TV. Our jaws just dropped. We couldn’t believe it.

Why do you feel that this tragedy has birthed more conspiracy theories than any other moment in American history?

Because Jack Ruby shut Oswald’s mouth before he could talk about what he had done. Oswald was taken into custody and said the things anyone would say initially — “I didn’t do it,” “I was a patsy” — and that’s where the conversation ended. The reason there’s been all the conspiracy talk is because Oswald never broke down and said, “I did this,” but also what it says at the front of 11/22/63, the Norman Mailer quote: We find it difficult to believe that one lone wingnut with a gun could kill the most powerful man in the world. But we’ve seen it time and time and time again. We saw it with John Lennon — that was no conspiracy, it was just a crazy lone gunman who killed him. Bridget Carpenter, the showrunner, came to disagree with me, but I think Oswald was acting alone.

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by Dan Bacher

The good news is the recreational Dungeness crab fishing season on the California Coast south of Point Reyes in Marin County is now open.

The bad news is that the commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed statewide, although it could potentially open next week.

The commercial and recreational rock crab fishery will also remain closed north of Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Luis Obispo County and in state waters around Santa Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.

As commercial crab and salmon fishermen were testifying before legislators in Sacramento about the economic hardship that the crab season season closure has caused to them, their families and their communities, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), notified the director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission that Dungeness crab caught on the mainland coast south of 38° 00’ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County) “no longer poses a significant human health risk from high levels of domoic acid.”

The officials recommended the opening of the Dungeness crab fishery in these areas “in a manner consistent with the emergency regulations. “

“This determination was based on extensive sampling conducted by CDPH in close coordination with CDFW and fisheries representatives,” according to a news release from the CDFW.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

Areas open to crab fishing include:

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of 38° 00’ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County)

Commercial and recreational rock crab fishery along the mainland coast South of 35° 40’ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)

Areas still closed to crab fishing include:

Commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of 38° 00’ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County)

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries north of 35° 40’ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.

“Pursuant to emergency regulations enacted by CDFW regarding the commercial Dungeness crab closure, no less than seven days’ notice to commercial crab fishermen and women is required prior to opening the season,” according to the CDFW. “CDFW remains engaged in discussion with the Dungeness Crab Task Force Executive Committee about the potential opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, which could happen next week.”

However, state officials recommended taking some extra precautions when cooking and eating the crab.

“Despite several weeks of samples below alert levels, as a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs,” the Department stated. “CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews.”

The Department explained that the viscera “usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.”

“CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state,” the CDFW concluded.

Unfortunately, some of the most lucrative times for commercial crab fishers — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — have already passed.

* * *



While the news blathers about Scalia's replacement and the dust-up around it, it's not blathering about the death-scene ranch, which is owned by convicted (and convictions overturned) arch-spook John Poindexter, he of Iran-Contra, the national security jungle & the flaming glory days of Ollie North & co. Now, I'm not saying Nino didn't pass in his sleep, maybe even peacefully, not for me to know, but that he was pronounced dead by telephone, by someone who'd not seen the body, much less the condition of it, that his non-present family said before the remains were cool there would be no post-mortem exam, no autopsy, that it took a day to get him removed to a mortuary, that officials first notified of the death were not told the name of the dead guy, etc. etc. etc.

I did not get out my tinfoil hat. Ah'm jes' sayin'. We'll probably not know in my lifetime, but, personally, I'd guess that it's less than half likely the distinguished justice died by natural causes.

The same old election-year haze that occludes the Scalia thing also occludes the cool-headed business of who will replace him. B.O. is reportedly considering a high-stakes slimeball, a fabulous corporate-criminal advocate, somebody likely to shut the senate's mouth and win Republican approval. Just what we need on our low-sunk high court.

Mitch Clogg


* * *

A NOW-FAMOUS TEAM of astrophysicists shocked the world Thursday after recording the gravitational waves of two black holes slamming into each other 1.3 billion light-years away. This detection supports Einstein’s general theory of relativity in a way that revolutionizes scientific understanding of how space and time behave in extreme environments, and astrophysics will never be the same. That includes mankind’s pursuit of time travel.

Kip Thorne of the acclaimed Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) researchers deflected such assertions about his team’s finding at the press release by saying, “I don’t think [our detection of gravitational waves] is going to bring us any closer to being able to do time travel.”

But two things are certain: Humility is essential in the path to a Nobel Prize, and other renowned astrophysicists are giving the LIGO team more credit than they give themselves.

David Spergel is a theoretical physicist and chair of Princeton University’s astronomy and astrophysics department and he’s one such admirer. Spergel concedes there is a long way to go before man comprehends the true plausibility of time travel, but he believes general relativity will be essential to that discovery, if the stars align for it.

“There are still a lot of ifs there, starting with the existence of negative mass particles and wormholes being stable,” Professor Spergel tells The Daily Beast. “But general relativity’s equations — which gave us black holes, and we see very strong evidence for them with LIGO — are telling us that that would permit time travel.”

— Michael Howard

* * *


The kids nowadays who wear dreads and filthy designer jeans with those strategically placed and oh-so-stylish holes in the ass are comic character knock-off wannabe's from the real deal I knew in the late 60's and early 70's of my childhood. They're a joke — and a bad one. I just wish they'd all go the fuck away, back to whatever middle class lifestyle that whelped them. But, as my Gramma used to say: Wish in one hand, shit in the other and see which one gets filled faster.

* * *


Wildlife Film Festival opens with two spectacular films

The first of five Friday evenings of live music and notable international wildlife films begins Friday, February 19, at the Civic Center in Ukiah. Festivities will start at 6:15 p.m. with Bob Laughton’s lively Celtic folk music. Opening night films start at 7 p.m. and feature state-of-the-art cinematography that will take viewers to two unique island ecosystems.

"Wild Hawaii: Land of Fire" (48 min.) shows the other side of Hawaii — the wild side. From red-hot lava to icy peaks and massive waves, the film takes a look at the way sea turtles, cliff-climbing fish, hawks and other animals have adapted to thrive in this incredible place.

Also screening is "Life Force II: Borneo" (42 min.). This film takes us to Borneo, one of the great biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Here, rainforests have thrived for over a hundred million years, harboring extraordinary creatures including over 30 species of gliding animals. The lush tropical jungle also shelters the strangest giant ape on Earth, the oddest-looking monkey, and pygmy versions of the rhino, elephant and bear. "Life Force II: Borneo" received the Visual Effects & Cinematography Award 2015 at the Science Film Festival.

Proceeds from the film festival are an important funding source for the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP), a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education program to over 2,000 students a year.

The Wildlife Film Festival takes place at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. A series ticket for all five evenings is $45. Films are appropriate for older children, but parental discretion is recommended.

For a full program of the film series and more information about the RVOEP visit its website, For further inquiries, contact Maureen Taylor, RVOEP Education Coordinator, at 489-0227.

* * *


On Sunday, February 21, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., two artist couples — Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel, Michael Wilson and Susan Spencer — will lead a tour of their work included in Grace Hudson Museum’s current exhibit, “In the Construction Zone: Mendocino County Assemblage Art.” Curator Karen Holmes will provide an introduction. The event is free with Museum admission: $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; and always free to members.The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main Street in Ukiah. For more information please go to or call 467-2836.

Roberta Werdinger
Writer, Publicist, Editor

* * *


Rhododendrons are blooming at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. If you have the day off the weather is magnificent there is a riot of color throughout the Gardens. If not, join us THIS SATURDAY for a workshop and walk of the Rhododendron Collection with American Rhododendron Society’s Noyo Chapter President, Dennis McKiver. The class fee includes Gardens admission for the day!

Rhododendron Basic Care and Identification THIS SATURDAY, February 20 (Alternate date: Sat, March 19) Learn to identify and care for Rhododendrons growing in your yard. Our cool coastal climate, acidic soils, and mild winters allow many beautiful cultivars and species to thrive. Dennis McKiver — president of the American Rhododendron Society’s local chapter — will teach proper planting and plant medium, fertilizing, pruning, as well as disease and pest control. Expand your collection by learning to choose the right hybrids and species for your area while touring the Rhododendron Collection at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Dennis McKiver has been growing and collecting Rhododendrons since 2001. His collection has over 1,000 hybrid and species Rhododendrons.

Advanced sign-up necessary. Meets in the Gardens Meeting Room from 10:00am to 12:00pm. $10 for members and Master Gardeners $20 for non-members. Includes Gardens admission for the day!

Class sizes are limited; sign up by phoning in your payment at 707-964-4352 ext. 16, or reserve your spot in person at The Garden Store — 18220 N Hwy 1, Fort Bragg.

* * *


Now in North Beach...

Please know that I have moved into a travel hostel in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood until February 25th. Aside from my dental cleaning appointment tomorrow morning, I have no obligations nor any other appointments worldwide at all, either now, or in the forseeable future.  If you should wish for me to participate with you in upcoming radical environmental activities, do not hesitate to contact me. I will possibly be at Ocean Beach, the fluctuating mind suitably immersed in the non-duality of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, but unless I dematerialize, the permanent state of Mahasamadhi will be for later. Thus, you need not hesitate to email me with your creative suggestions.  But remember, the point of no return for global climate destabilization is the next full solar eclipse, on August 21, 2017. Rads know that it is gettin' gnarly, liberals believe that we have lots of time (and that technology will save the world), and conservatives insist that there is no problem whatsoever. As always, our actions will define the finer points of our philosophy.


Craig Louis Stehr


* * *


(Dedicated to certain of your favorite local politicians; you know who they are)


I could while away the hours,

conferrin' with the flowers

Consultin' with the rain.

And my head I'd be scratchin' while

my thoughts were busy hatchin'

If I only had a brain.

I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le,

In trouble or in pain.

With the thoughts I'd be thinkin'

I could be another Lincoln

If I only had a brain.

Oh, I could tell you why

The ocean's near the shore.

I could think of things I never thunk before.

And then I'd sit, and think some more.

I would not be just a nuffin' my head all full of stuffin'

My heart all full of pain.

I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,

If I only had a brain.


When a man's an empty kettle he should be on his mettle,

And yet I'm torn apart.

Just because I'm presumin' that I could be kind-a-human,

If I only had heart.

I'd be tender — I'd be gentle and awful sentimental

Regarding Love and Art.

I'd be friends with the sparrows ...
and the boys who shoots the arrows

If I only had a heart.

Picture me — a balcony. Above a voice sings low.

Wherefore art thou, Romeo? I hear a beat....

How sweet.

Just to register emotion, jealousy — devotion,

And really feel the part.

I could stay young and chipper

and I'd lock it with a zipper,

If I only had a heart.

The Nerve

Life is sad, believe me, Missy,

When you're born to be a sissy

Without the vim and verve.

But I could change my habits, never more be scared of rabbits

If I only had the nerve.

I'm afraid there's no denyin' I'm just a dandelion,

A fate I don't deserve.

But I could show my prowess, be a lion not a mowess

If I only had the nerve

Oh I'd be in my stride, a king down to the core

I would roar the way I've never roared before

And then I'd rrrwoof!

and roar some more

I would show the dinosaurus who's king around the forres'

A king they better serve

Why with my regal beezer I could be another Caesar

If I only had the nerve.


  1. John Sakowicz February 15, 2016

    First-rate history of the County CEO in the AVA’s “Mendocino County Today” (02/16/2016).

    Thank you.

  2. Betsy Cawn February 16, 2016

    Lake County’s governing body of elected supervisors “direct staff” who receive guidance from our non-elected Chief Administrative Officer, and therefore are performance-evaluated by the Supervisors in closed session come time for their annual reviews. No one is allowed to speak about the performance of any department head, ever, or the administration.

    The CAO runs the magic budget, which is jiggered to accommodate the preferences of elected officials (who of course never make backdoor deals with each other — they convey their wishes to the CAO, who then confers with the departments heads, except when they do direct staff, illegally, behind closed doors.

    Department heads and their staff present extremely limited choices to the elected body for “deliberation,” carefully narrowed to the predetermined outcomes known to be the desired results — by the CAO.

    Lake County’s new CAO, Big Mommy herself, has decades of managing the Department of Social Services behind her, and ascended to the throne via master-minding of the 2015 Valley Fire “Recovery Task Force.” Having declared the disaster “over,” however, the task force is winding down and handing off the responsibility to the various charitable organizations and federally-funded service providers already overloaded with Lake County’s “unmet needs.”

    What happened to our suddenly out-the-door CAO? No telling, but the remarkable absence of emergency management services (September 12, 2015) may have influenced his early “retirement.” Sadly, the one Supervisor with most responsibility for those failures has risen in popularity as the visibly pro-active recovery leader — whose neglect of duty will be duly under-scrutinized by the regnant supreme.

    Kudos to those whose long-focused attention has captured the truth about these petty potentates whose faux “leadership” bankrupts civic comity while laughing all the way to the bank. Long live the AVA!

  3. Lazarus February 16, 2016

    The TWN message to the BOS may fall on deaf ears. One, perhaps two may take a stand against Ortner, but the majority will likely cave into the manipulation of Ms. CEO and her subordinate.
    It will perhaps take the Sheriff with his power, popularity and plan to begin the process of rebuilding Mental Health in the Mendo.
    Thanks to Ms.Linda Williams and TWN for telling the truth, as disturbing as it is.
    As always,

  4. Jim Updegraff February 16, 2016

    Will be interesting to see who President Obama nominates for the Supreme Court. If he wants to put the GOP on the spot he should nominate the African-American woman who is on an appeal court.

    Must say Trump made the right call with his call about the stupidity of George Bush. jeb acts like a chip off the old block.

    This business between Russia and Turkey is very serious particularly if Saudi Arabia sends in troops.

    Meanwhile in Mendo county the Board of Stupidvisors continues to flounder away.

  5. Craig Stehr February 16, 2016

    “To see True-nature and become Buddha is to know one’s Self-nature and sever the root of sentient existence. Then there is no birth and death or delusive passions. This is provisionally termed ‘becoming Buddha’. Buddha is enlightenment, the realization that one has been deluded.”
    Lan-ch’i Tao-lung (1213-1278)

  6. Jim Updegraff February 16, 2016

    The big issue as spring training starts did the Giants make a BIG mistake signing Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. They gave Samardzija a 5 year 90 million dollar contract and Cueto a 6 year 130 million contract Both had a mediocre season last year. Hate to tell you Bruce but I doubt if eithe rwill live up to the expectations of the Giants.

    • Bruce Anderson February 16, 2016

      Way too much for 35-year-old ballplayers. Cain is coming back, though, and maybe even Tim!

  7. Jim Armstrong February 16, 2016

    The Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter is a different dude than the Iran-Contra one.
    There are some interesting uncertainties in Scalia’s death scenario, but I am sure Texas law enforcement is up to figuring them out.

  8. Mike February 16, 2016

    Can a dog be trained to detect lying? Perhaps, if they can sense the changes in the factors that are monitored via lie detecting machines and voice analysis. Therefore, Hillary Clinton’s channeled message from Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin yesterday in Reno, might be something to follow up on!! Send these special K-9 units out to watch the stump speeches.

    We’ve heard her bark now……Have we heard her sing? Anyone?

    • Mike February 16, 2016

      I must take this risk (which is, having videos permanently banned at The AVA and becoming the object of many voodoo rituals in Mendocino county and elsewhere); here she is, singing…….and click only if you are strong and hardy and not ailing in any way:

    • Bruce McEwen February 16, 2016

      Most dogs have a vocabulary of about a score of our words (whereas we comprehend none of theirs). Dogs are therefore not fluent enough to comprehend a complete sentence, even though they generally have the i.q. of a human eight-year-old. This puts them out of the range of things like irony, sophistry & guile in spoken language, but they can decipher phenomenon in the natural world — sounds and smells, for instance — we are smugly ignorant of. Dogs up in Manhattan penthouses have been filmed running to the door in anticipation moments before their masters arrive home on unexpected errands. To say that they could be trained to detect a liar misses the point that lying is species specific, as the biologists say. Lying exists as an abstract within the contest of language, whereas dishonesty emanates from an animal’s pores, like thoughts.

      • Mike February 17, 2016

        “Lying exists as an abstract within the contest of language, whereas dishonesty emanates from an animal’s pores, like thoughts.”

        Brilliant observation imo. Our languaging behavior puts us in a different league.

  9. Mike February 16, 2016

    Hey, Craig……check out Father Tiso’s book about the Dzogchen Rainbow Body……just out now. (Just google Father Tiso and Rainbow Body).

    He investigates one case from 1998 and then gets really deep in the weeds with early Dzogchen history and its later developments and ties in also the movements along the Silk Road (Central Asia to Syria and eastern Iran)…..particularly traditions focused on the yogic body of light.

    • Craig Stehr February 16, 2016

      Thanks Mike…VERY interesting. We are all in for a future which nobody could have possibly imagined. Fasten your seat belt! ;-)

  10. Jim Updegraff February 16, 2016

    Re: Scalia’s health. Turns out he couldn’t undergo a shoulde roperation because of his fragile health – high blood pressure and heart problems – no surprise – as I previously commented – at age 79 and morbid obese bound to have health problem. Thomas is also morbid obese – wonder what health problems he has.

  11. BB Grace February 16, 2016

    Instead Of ‘Glorious Offices’ At Old Coast Hotel

    Would there had been public outcry if North Cliff Hotel was given to the homeless?

    Not by me who would vote to include the Affinito service building.

  12. LouisBedrock February 16, 2016

    “Soul” and “spirit” are words that superstitious, religiously indoctrinated, ignorant, uneducated people use for the mind.

    And “minds are what brains do” as Marvin Minsky of M.IT. has observed.

    If you doubt this, do volunteer work in a mental institution where disease and accident have damaged human brains. Or observe what happens to your grandparents when they descend into senescence. I’ve seen it happen with my parents. When the brain is damaged, the mind is damaged.

    When I taught science to fourth and fifth graders, It was tedious trying to overcome the nonsense inculcated in them by charlatans. It’s even more depressing trying to overcome the superstitious nonsense that some grown-ups believe.

    Buddhism is as deranged as any other religion despite its pretext of not being a religion

    • Betsy Cawn February 17, 2016

      Ace Debunker Bedrock accurately deconstructs the “Mind over Matter” Mumbo Jumbo — what you see is what you get, and vice versa. Regards from the West Mess.

      • Mike February 17, 2016

        “Mind over Matter” is dualistic and quite deluded. Realization of the non dual nature of Reality entails no longer being entranced by, and buying, our languaging behavior.

        Mind is simply spontaneously arising thoughts and imagery and memories. As experienced lucidly, thoughts (and imagery and memories) arise from nothing and nowhere and disappear into nothing and nowhere. This can be directly and easily “found out”.

        • LouisBedrock February 17, 2016

          It’s not mind over matter; rather, it’s matter over mind.

          As Francis Harry Compton Crick observed,

          —You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

          Fond greetings to Ms. Cawn.

  13. Bruce McEwen February 16, 2016

    Now I understand why the Buddhists bought the old state mental hospital in Ukiah, but there’s really no one in this region who needs to be advised to “sever the root of sentient existence.” The local demographic is entirely afloat,completely off the graph, like balloons filled with laughing gas. And my dog could spot a liar at first sight. Like Chief Petty Officer Hepworth (my former guru) always said, “If you your dog growls at somebody you consider a friend, cover your butt, ’cause that sodomite is trying to screw you.’

    • Mike February 17, 2016

      And, those balloons float right over Cow Mountain into the county of the Great Clear Light of the Void Lake.

  14. james marmon February 16, 2016

    RE: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting.

    So, OMG gets a do over and RQMC gets a big thumbs up even with the absence of a fiscal audit being conducted first. Mental-cino never fails to amaze me. The “can” has officially been kicked down the road again.

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