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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017

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San Francisco — Mayor Ed Lee, who oversaw a technology-driven economic boom in the city that brought with it sky-high housing prices, died suddenly early Tuesday at age 65. A statement from the Lee's office said the city's first Asian-American mayor died at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. (AP)

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NOAA's Hazard Mapping System fire and smoke analysis from the past two days:

Sunday, December 10


Monday, December 11


From yesterday's SFGate:

Smoky haze from Southern California fires expected again over Bay Area

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Here is another story of saving houses from the Redwood Valley fires. My artist friend Judy Geer-Linney and her husband Dennis Linney and 22 year old daughter Kaitlyn “Dell” Linney decided to fight the fire. Dennis is a newly retired firefighter, having just finished working with Silver Tips, a private helicopter fire fighting unit. It was 1am in the morning. Dell looked out her bedroom window to see the branches of the big eucalyptus trees whipping in the wind. Everything was glowing red, the moon, the sky, and even the trees were red. Dell and Judy rushed to wake the neighbors, while Dennis laid out garden hoses and started a generator, flood lighting the yard.

All three, Dennis, Judy and Dell decided to stay and fight the fire.

Under Dennis’s instructions Judy and Dell dressed in wildland fire protective jackets, hats, gloves and masks. Using their slow flowing but continuous water from Redwood Valley Water, Judy and Dell protected their home from starter fires on all sides while Dennis repeatedly hauled five gallon buckets of water to fires starting at neighbors’ homes. As the next door neighbors’ RV parked on the other side of the wooden fence adjoining their house burst into flame, all they could do was keep the fire from spreading to trees and the house. The RV burned to a crisp. Judy and Dell were surrounded by fires on all sides.

By the time they had secured their home, they had saved the two houses closest to their home as well as two garages. One house had already begun to burn. Dennis, finding a shovel, ripped off the siding to prevent the fire from spreading from the eves to the attic. By the time the fire had swept through, the three of them had saved their own home, their renter’s house and all their animals.

Perhaps others, with preparations, could have saved their own homes as well — assuming they had water. Unfortunately, houses with well water lose their ability to use it to fight fire when the electricity fails. Maybe we will need fire fighting classes for the future, even certifications or emergency deputy status.

It sure is comforting to sleep in your own bed.


Dorotheya Dorman & Judy Geer

Redwood Valley

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KARL WITT, a pot bigwig as the Executive Director of Eden Farms, is in the Low Gap Jail and, we hear, with the unique local stipulation that his bail must come from a legitimate—read: non-criminal source.


The prevalent notion out there, especially among non-industry people, that marijuana is legal seems belied by Mr. Witt's arrest.

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JUST AS her husband was preparing to preside over last weekend’s 60th annual Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament, Cecilia Pinoli suffered a stroke at her Philo home, which might well have been fatal if Cecilia hadn’t instantly recognized exactly what had befallen her and called for help. Robert Pinoli and Anderson Valley’s emergency services people were soon at Cecilia’s side and she’s going to fully recover. In the absence of tourney director Pinoli, school super Michelle Hutchins, after some frantic moments spent searching for power switches and other last minute must-haves, and aided by some long-time hoops fans, managed to get the basketball games underway right on schedule.

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SATURDAY, December 16th, which is this Saturday, it’s Christmas caroling with our very own community pianist, Lynn Archambault, at Lauren's Restaurant in downtown Boonville. Lauren herself is among the many talented local songbirds, and everyone is welcome. Complimentary mulled wine will be on offer, song books provided. You won’t spend a more enjoyable evening all year. Singing starts at 8.30pm.

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MSP TELLS US the Navarro is poised to flood 128 again as the eerily rain-free weather continues with frigid nights and Miami-like afternoons.

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(Click to enlarge)

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ABSOLUTELY the best Christmas window in all Mendocino County has got to be the one at Rossi Hardware, Boonville. Locals always look forward to the Rossi holiday display, and you transients zipping through town would also be glad you paused for a look.

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THE ODD CASE of Point Arena’s Doug Burkey and Sheryl Lyn Smith began in the fall of 2016 in the Sonoma County courts where it remains. We've just learned that Burkey and Smith have again been arrested and jailed in Sonoma County on charges of forgery, attempted and/or actual grand theft, and conspiracy.

Burkey, Smith (2016)

ARRESTED in August of 2016, on a Sonoma County warrant, Ms. Smith claims she jointly owned Timber Cove property with her late husband. He conveniently died two months after the couple’s break-up. Ms. Smith’s "new friend and neighbor," Doug Burkey, "offered himself as a buffer” in her negotiations over the property with her late companion’s family. Sonoma County think’s the death of Ms. Smith’s ex is suspicious and the transfer of his property to Ms. Smith even more suspicious. The paper trail on the fraud is absolutely damning. See:

(Click to enlarge)

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RETIRED JUDGE DAVID NELSON has always been an ardent advocate for the unnecessary new County Courthouse. He’s also been the only advocate, ardent or not so ardent. At a Board of Supervisors meeting back in November of 2015, Nelson accurately described the many problems the new Courthouse will cause when it is built at the old Ukiah Train Depot site, especially on the District Attorney’s office because the new Courthouse will be some four blocks away from the present, perfectly serviceable Courthouse. After that 2015 assessment, Nelson suggested that the solution to the problem would be for the County to acquire a parcel next door to the Depot site and build facilities to house all the offices that will have to scurry back and forth from the present Courthouse to the new Courthouse that will house no one except the monarchical 9 judges. The Supervisors, as always prone before higher authority, could only reply “Thank you” to what is obviously a looming disaster for County functioning. And there has been no elaboration from Judge Nelson or anyone else about what to do about the District Attorney, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender and other public services. We’re not surprised that the Public Defender and Probation departments have been silent on the subject; they’ve never paid much attention to county business unless it directly effects them.

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JIM GIBBONS will appear at the Willits library on Saturday, December 16th at 2 pm. to talk about and read from his essential book “Flashbacks: A Memoir.”

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THEN there’s the young dad doing a year in the Mendocino County Jail for violation of the restraining order keeping him away from his ex-wife. But she calls him up to tell him the kids are crying for him and please come over just this one time to see them. Which he does. She calls the cops, he’s arrested for violating the Stay Away order, the judge makes sure he doesn’t see his kids for a year.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I'm thinking we might need a 'safe space' here, you know, like the ones the candy ass college kids set up to keep out anybody or anything that might upset them? That damn cat is definitely a species-ist, making cutting remarks about dogs whenever he sees me. From now on, my safe space starts at the gate!”

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by Jim Shields

Before turning to the subject at hand, I’d like to briefly comment on a recent letter-to-the-editor in the Journal. The writer is a customer of a Ukiah Valley water district who told of being billed for water usage caused by burst water lines when her house burned down during the catastrophic October fires. She stated she was advised by the water district to file a reimbursement claim with her insurance carrier, but she would have to pay her bill on time or be charged with a late fee.

All water districts have policies and rules dealing with such incidents, and presumably there are sound reasons for each and every one of them. For example, I manage the Laytonville County Water District and our policy is if the cause of a leak is beyond the control of the customer, then they are not charged for the resulting loss of water. Each situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but that’s our general rule.

These so-called “acts of God” include fires, damage caused by fallen trees across meter boxes or service lines in homes, vehicle accidents that damage backflow devices, etc.

I just wanted to clarify that in a state with over 4,000 local government water districts, we all have our own policies regarding such matters and that there’s no general regulation or specific law that mandates how these types of incidents are handled.

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On the topic of public utilities, while investigations continue to determine whether PG&E equipment played a role in igniting early October Northcoast wildfires, the state’s largest electrical monopoly is in full-mode red alert following a long-awaited decision by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Late last week, the PUC ruled that San Diego Gas & Electric’s request to pass on to raepayers $379 million in damage claims stemming from massive wildfires in 2007, had no merit and was rejected.

A Cal Fire investigation concluded the fires were caused in part by SDG&E by problems with power lines, transformers and other equipment. Two people were killed and 1,300 homes were destroyed by the wildfires.

PUC’s director of its Ratepayer Advocate’s Office, Elizabeth Echols explained after the ruling was made, “It reinforces that if a utility did not reasonably operate its facilities prior to the fire, it can’t charge ratepayers.”

Notwithstanding the PUC’s San Diego pro-consumer decision, for years it has been criticized as being too cozy with the state’s three largest electric utilities (PG&E, SDG&E, and Southern California Edison). For example, in a recent Bay Area News Group story it reported:

For the better part of a decade, California’s utilities have helped to stall the state’s effort to map where their power lines present the highest risk for wildfires, an initiative that critics say could have forced PG&E to strengthen power poles and bolster maintenance efforts before this month’s deadly North Bay fires.

State officials began working to tighten regulations on utilities and create the detailed maps after wind-toppled electrical lines in 2007 ignited catastrophic fires in the San Diego area. But nearly 10 years later, the state Public Utilities Commission — which initiated the process — still hasn’t finished the maps, let alone adopted strict new regulations.

A review of the mapping project by the Bay Area News Group shows that utilities have repeatedly asked to slow down the effort and argued as recently as July that, as PG&E put it, certain proposed regulations would “add unnecessary costs to construction and maintenance projects in rural areas.”

On Oct. 6, two days before the start of the deadliest outbreak of wildfires in California history, two administrative law judges assigned to oversee the project granted yet another delay at the request of PG&E and other utilities.

The timing of that 74-day deadline extension and the decade of seemingly endless debate about the maps has outraged lawmakers who have been pushing regulators for years to speed up a project designed to prevent catastrophic fires like the ones in Wine Country that killed at least 42 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses.

“The sad part is the future didn’t arrive before these fires,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-Redwood City, a longtime critic of PG&E and the PUC. “It’s an outrageous example of negligence by a regulatory agency.”

There’s little doubt the San Diego ruling couldn’t have come at a worse time for PG&E.

  • On Wednesday, Dec. 6, the state Insurance Department estimated that insurance claims from the Northcoast fires now stand at $9.4 billion and tha total may reach $12 billion according to insurance industry estimates. Already the so-called “Wine County” fires that devastated parts of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counies, are the deadliest and costliest in California history.
  • In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, PG&E reported that its liability insurance coverage is only $800 million for any losses from the fires. In a press release commenting on the PUC’s San Diego ruling, PG&E CEO Geisha Williams said she was “disappointed” by the decision.

Most likely revealing part of PG&E’s legal defense if found responsible for causing or partly causing the fires, Williams said, “If these wildfires become endemic and part of the effects of climate change day in and day out, I don’t believe it is sustainable for utilities to absorb that on a long-term basis. I don’t think it is fair to put the burden on energy companies.”

That’s an astonishing statement. According to its CEO, PG&E is blaming “climate change” as the real culprit in the state’s most deadly and costly firestorm in history?

“PG&E and the other utilities are very vigorously lobbying to see that the costs of disasters be covered by ratepayers, even when they are found negligent,” said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group. “The shareholders benefit when the company does well,” he said. “They have to pay when the company doesn’t do well.”

  • Things look even bleaker on the legislative front for PG&E attempting to shift the burden of its potential liability to ratepayers.

As discussed here several weeks ago, a group of state lawmakers have announced that they will introduce legislation in January to prevent electric utilities found culpable in wildfires from passing the costs for claims not covered by insurance as well as fines or penalties onto customers.

Obviously, the legislation is prompted by exactly what PG&E is attempting to do right now: To recover costs in wildfires not covered by insurance by passing them along to ratepayers, even when they are culpable due to negligence in properly maintaining their equipment and infrastructure.

The problem is these utilities too long have operated as if their primary obligation is to their shareholders, not to their customers and ratepayers.

Only one thought comes to mind. It’s time that PG&E and the other electrical monopolies are taught there are consequences when they fail to meet their responsiblilites. Afterall, we’re talking about loss of life and people’s homes and lives that are forever impacted by catastrophic fires. They’ve paid enough already, don’t you think?

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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Dear Editor,

Justice — My name is Joshua Hanover and I'm currently housed in the protective custody part of the Mendocino County Jail. I would like to start off by apologizing to the community of our small county of Mendocino for the robbery/kidnapping on the Covelo Road on July 16, 2017, part of the "Jackson Five" crew.

I feel like I was a big influence on the other two codefendants, Daniel ‘Chino’ Sanchez and Matthew Sturgis who are also here with me because of the statements that I not only made toward them but also the statement I made towards Trevor Michael Jackson who subsequently received 25 years at 85% in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. And because of my statements to law enforcement, which by the way were not totally accurate, he will not see his little girl, Taylin Grace Jackson for at least 20 years.

The most important reason for writing to you is that I was promised a "no state prison sentence" deal through district attorney David Eyster for my testimony against my codefendants. So because of my participation in the crime and my testimony against my codefendants I have received 12 years at 85% in prison.

How is that justice?


Joshua Clayton Hanover


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On 12-07-2017 at approximately 7:50 P.M., a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office conducted a traffic enforcement stop on a vehicle in the 21300 block of Meadowbrook Drive in Willits. The Deputy contacted the driver of the vehicle who was identified as Daniel Garcia, 40, of Redwood Valley.


Garcia was found to be on formal probation in Mendocino County with terms to include obey all laws. When speaking with Garcia, the Deputy noticed that Garcia was exhibiting symptoms of being under the influence of a controlled substance. The Deputy conducted multiple tests with Garcia to determine if he had recently used a controlled substance. Based on the results of the tests conducted with Garcia, the Deputy placed Garcia under arrest for Recent Use of a Controlled Substance and Violation of Probation. Garcia was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status due to the probation violation charge.

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On 12-07-2017 at approximately 12:55 P.M., a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to assist a Round Valley Tribal Police Officer in the area of Mina Road and Agency Road in Covelo. The Deputy responded and met with the Round Valley Tribal Police Officer who had detained Luis Oliver, 31, of Covelo for a no-cite felony warrant issued in Mendocino County.


The felony no-bail warrant was issued for Oliver's arrest on 10-20-2017 for 3453 PC [Violation of Post Release Community Supervision - PRCS]. The Deputy confirmed the felony warrant through the Sheriff's Office dispatch center and took custody of Oliver at the scene. Oliver was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status pursuant to the terms of the felony warrant.

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On 12-08-2017 at approximately 9:30 P.M., a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was patrolling the parking lot at the Sherwood Valley Casino in Willits. While patrolling the area, the Deputy contacted a subject he saw drive into the casino parking lot and park his vehicle. The subject was identified as Glenn Jenkins, 43, of Klamath Falls, Oregon, who was found to be on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) in Mendocino County with terms that prohibited him from possessing any weapons.


During a search of Jenkins and his vehicle, the Deputy located 3 folding knives, controlled substances, and drug paraphernalia. Jenkins was also found to have a suspended license and was displaying false registration tabs on his vehicle. The Deputy contacted Jenkins' probation officer, who requested that Jenkins be arrested for violating the terms of his PRCS and issued a PRCS hold. Jenkins was placed under arrest for Violation of Post Release Community Supervision, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, False Registration on Vehicle, and Driving on Suspended License. Jenkins was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status due to the PRCS hold issued by his probation officer.

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TO: Supervisors McCowen and Hamburg, et al,

I would like to make two comments regarding the revisions to the Class K ordinance. The fire sprinkler requirement will add a considerable expense to the owner's budget. These systems do add to the safety of the occupants from fires originating inside the home, but do not help with the increasingly likely problem with wildfires. This seems to be a call best made by the owners themselves as it greatly impacts the concept of "affordable". I assume that if the owner submitted engineering for a code compliant alternative to a perimeter foundation, it would be acceptable. Perhaps some clarification on this matter would be good. Getting large quantities of concrete into more remote areas can be quite an undertaking and systems like treated pole can be engineered very effectively.

Respectfully, Jonathan Webb

Certified Building Designer, ret.

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Mark Scaramella notes: The first time this came up last month a CalFire Fire Marshall from Sacramento told the McCowen/Hamburg Committee that there was a lower-cost off-the-shelf pressurized pump and plumbing option that would be somewhat less costly than the conventional sprinkler systems, but others said that that option wouldn’t work in all rural situations. And cheap sprinkler systems can fail and cause water damage to entire homes, so they’re not risk-free safety upgrades themselves. But there aren’t that many Class K residences being proposed these days anyway, so the impact of the state rules would be limited to only those few that were being considered for Class K in the first place. The subject only came up because some busybody bureaucrat said it was time to “update” Class K which has been out of sync with state building codes for years without anyone noticing. But even without sprinklers, Class K homes are still too expensive for most young people and ordinary workers. The problem is much bigger than sprinklers and parcel sizes. If the Board can’t even bring themselves to do something about $600 to $800 space rents in mobile home parks then the prospects for “affordable” housing in Mendocino County will remain dim, Class K or no Class K.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 11, 2017

Alvarez, Anaya, Arias, Furline

JAVIER ALVAREZ, Boonville. DUI while on court probation, suspended license.

CHRISTIAN ANAYA, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, vandalism, possession of stolen vehicle.

ALFREDO ARIAS, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.

CODY FURLINE, Fort Bragg. Brandishing.

Graham, Johnson, Lopez, Silvey

BENJE GRAHAM, Willits. DUI-drugs.

CODY JOHNSON, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment.

ALBERTO LOPEZ, Talmage. Under influence, probation revocation.

PENNY PETITT, Hopland. Charges not specified, photo not available.

DALE SILVEY, Crescent City/Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia.

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CARETAKERS of the Golden Gate Bridge are rolling out plans for a five-year, $660 million earthquake retrofit that includes installing more than three dozen custom-made shock absorbers and replacing 8.5 million pounds of steel bracing.

“It’s not that the bridge is in danger of falling down, but without the retrofit it could be significantly damaged in a significant earthquake and not be usable for a long, long time,” said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

The goal is for work to start in 2019 and be completed in 2024 — if the district can find the cash.

One problem: The district has only about one-third of the money lined up. Mulligan wouldn’t rule out increasing tolls to help with the bill.

Officials say the retrofit isn’t optional. As a state-designated “lifeline” bridge, the span has to be able to survive the Big One with only minor to moderate damage and be open within a few days at the most, if only to emergency vehicles.

“The good news is that the bridge is anchored into rock,” said district engineer Ewa Bauer. “The bad news is that it’s also between the San Andreas and Hayward faults.”

The bridge came through its last big test unscathed, when it rode out the Loma Prieta quake of 1989. But Bauer noted that the epicenter then was 75 miles to the south. A quake on the San Andreas could strike as close as 7 miles west of the span.

The district still has to find at least $430 million for the job. “We’re talking with our state and federal partners,” Mulligan said.

Even then, as with all big projects, the final cost is uncertain. The retrofit price tag has already risen by $100 million since the district last priced it two years ago....

— Matier and Ross, SF Chron

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THIS TRUMP THING, or as it had been known previously for nearly 250 years up until now, The US Presidency. Judge Roy Moore is still running for Senate in Alabama, even after nine women accused him of sexual misconduct, many of whom said they were underage at the time of his actions. One said she was 14 when a 32-year-old Moore lured her to his house and tried to get her to touch his genitals. We've also learned Moore was banned from the local mall, and that cops were told to keep him away from cheerleaders at high school football games.

None of this has slowed his march towards the nation's highest legislative chamber much, nor has it stopped his most shameless supporters from publicly backing him. Like, say, the president who is backing this accused child predator in his run for the Senate. Moore defender Jane Porter invited us to consider all the women the good Judge hasn't assaulted. How ridiculous. Nine women have accused him, but the ‘Fake News Media’ keeps ignoring the millions of American women who haven't. As The Tonight Show’s Stephen Colbert pointed out with this ludicrous statement in mind, ”Everyone was so quick to call Jeffrey Dahmer a serial killer and a cannibal but we forget about all the people he didn't eat.” Funny. Not funny is the fact that the continuing Moore candidacy is surely a new low in this country’s politics.

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…From our 3-Dot regular, The Old Buzzard, comes another “Signs that the Apocalypse is Approaching.”

“America’s Senator Al Franken (Democrat), Representative Trent Franks (Republican) and former congressman Harry Ford junior, until recently a banker at Morgan Stanley, became the latest men to resign following accusations of sexual harassment—some of which they deny. Mr Franken noted bitterly that “a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office’. Good point, and shockingly true. Almost as worrying is that the recent exposing and clear guilt of so many male celebrities, politicians, and other men in powerful positions sees a significant number of men mutter under their breath that it is exaggerated and uncalled for given that some of the claims of abuse are many years ago. That has to be wrong. The actions of these men are simply unacceptable, period. They cannot get away with it and, even though in many cases they have had careers that may have benefitted others or provided entertainment for the masses, their actions cannot be put aside. Certainly those in the entertainment industry seem to have been guilty of perpetuating a pattern of behavior that has lasted for decades. If any good can be culled from this whole, ugly thing, it’s that the Hollywood meat market has been graphically exposed as a glaring sign that the Apocalypse has actually been approaching for a long time and has finally arrived.”

— Steve Sparks, aka Turkey Vulture

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(Click to enlarge)

I call this one “Wyoming,” late December 2016.

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

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One day, maybe one day soon, people will stop believing the bullshit the same way that people in the Soviet system stopped believing theirs.

Pravda trumpeted economic triumph but empty store shelves told the real story. Pravda-ists in Washington and Manhattan can lie all they want but reality is right under everyone’s nose.

So, one day, maybe one day soon, that Fed Chairman’s chair will be empty and stay empty.

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Thank goodness we finally have an Administration that speaks for those of us who don’t care what happens to the planet in a hundred years because we’ll be dead.”

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This Russia stuff is a coup d’état to get rid of Trump disguised by a sloppy veneer of due process. The Great and Powerful cannot abide Trump, they don’t trust him and never will no matter how many enrich-the-rich tax bills he signs. Trump could deliver the moon, and it wouldn’t be enough. There are certain people that the Ruling Class and its Deep State appendage will not accept as one of their own. For a long time Bill Clinton wasn’t accepted as his travails while in office showed. It didn’t matter that Bill de-regulated Wall Street banks, that he shepherded NAFTA, neither did it matter that he brought China into the WTO. But Bill eventually got his membership card by gorging on corporate money after his presidency. Bill’s feeding at the trough (and Hillary too) showed that the Clintons could be trusted. And membership paid off for the Clintons with Hillary getting away with the most astounding offenses. The Kennedys are now widely seen as America’s glamorous royal family. But it wasn’t always such and it had lethal consequences for them. A few generations ago, the contempt of the Ruling Class for these presumptuous Irish Catholics was matched in wide segments of the public. When the first one was gunned down, a public school teacher led her class in a rousing chorus of “Dixie” in celebration. Why did the Ruling Class get away with such heinous crimes and laughable “investigations”? It was because public support for this political decapitation was wide and deep. But Trump will never be a card-carrying club member. No matter what, unlike with Bill, unlike with the Kennedys, this is a problem that isn’t fixable. Time won’t fix it, nothing will.

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Note how many of Bill Clinton’s detractors turned out to be kinksters:

BUT THAT’S NOT THE ITEM! When I first tried to type the word “kinksters,” the Algorithm changed it to “ministers.”


— Fred Gardner

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by James Kunstler

And so, as they say in the horror movies, it begins…! The unwinding of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Such an esoteric concept! Is there one in ten thousand of the millions of people who sit at desks all day long from sea to shining sea who have a clue how this works? Or what its relationship is to the real world?

I confess, my understanding of it is incomplete and schematic at best — in the way that my understanding of a Las Vegas magic act might be. All the flash and dazzle conceals the magician’s misdirection. The magician is either a scary supernatural being or a magnificent fraud. Anyway, the audience ‘out there’ for the Federal Reserve’s magic act — x-million people preoccupied by their futures slipping away, their cars falling apart, their kid’s $53,000 college loan burden, or the $6,000 bill they just received for going to the emergency room with a cut finger — wouldn’t give a good goddamn even if they knew the Fed’s magic show was going on.

So, the Fed has this thing called a balance sheet, which is actually a computer file, filled with entries that denote securities that it holds. These securities, mostly US government bonds of various categories and bundles of mortgages wrangled together by the mysterious government-sponsored entity called Freddie Mac, represent about $4.5 trillion in debt. They’re IOUs that supposedly pay interest for a set number of years. When that term of years expires, the Fed gets back the money it loaned, which is called the principal. Ahhhh, here’s the cute part!

You see, the money that the Fed loaned to the US government (in exchange for a bond) was never there in the first place. The Fed prestidigitated it out of an alternate universe. They gave this money to a “primary dealer” bank in exchange for the bond, which the bank abracadabraed up for the US Treasury. Well, not really. In fact, the Fed just made a notation on the bank’s “reserve” account that the money from the alternate universe appeared there. Somehow that money was sent via a virtual pneumatic tube to the US Treasury, where it was used to pay for drones to blow up Yemeni wedding parties, and for the Secret Service to visit pole dancing bars when the president traveled to foreign lands.

Here’s the fun part. The Fed announces that it is going to shed this nasty debt, at about $10 billion worth a month starting this past October. Their stated goal is to reach an ultimate wind-down velocity of $50 billion a month (cue laugh track). If they ever get there (cue laugh track) it would take 20 years to complete the wind-down. The chance of that happening is about the same as the chance that Janet Yellen will come down your chimney on December 24 with a sack-full of chocolate Bitcoins. But never mind the long view for the moment.

One way they plan to accomplish this feat is to “roll off” the bonds. That is, when the bonds mature — i.e. come to the end of their term — they will cease to exist. Poof! Wait a minute! When a bond matures, the issuer has to send the principal back to the lender. After all, the Fed lent the US Treasury X-billion dollars, the US Treasury paid interest on the loan for X-years, and now it has to fork over the full value of the loan (hopefully in dollars that have magically inflated over the years and are now worth less than when they were borrowed — another magic trick!). But that doesn’t happen.

Instead, when the theoretical principal is returned to the Fed, the Fed disappears the money, like the girl in a bikini onstage who enters the magician’s sacred box and vanishes. Now you see her, now you don’t. The explanation, of course, might be that the money was never really there in the first place, so it makes sense to fire it back to the alternative universe it came from. Well, uh, I guess….

The catch is: for a while it was here on earth and folks were doing stuff with it, such as the aforementioned drone strikes and pole dancers. Not only that, but the “primary dealer” banks were allowed to loan out ten times the reserve minimum denoted on their Fed accounts for participating in the scheme. Who did they lend all that money to? Apparently, a lot of it went to corporations who borrowed it at ultra-low interest rates in order to buy back their own stock, which paid dividends way higher than the interest rate they borrowed at to buy the stuff, and which also pumped up the share value of the stocks, which also happened to make the executives of the corporations way richer in terms of their stock options and bonuses (awarded for boosting the share value of the stock!).

And so, shazzam: I give you the one-percent! And a bankrupt United States of America.

And don’t even ask about all those bundles of janky Freddie Mac mortgages fobbed off on the Fed. The reason they did that in the first place was because those mortgages weren’t being paid off, and the banks and insurance companies that held them were choking to death on them. So they parked them in a crawl space under the Fed’s Eccles Building in Washington, hoping they would just turn to compost. And guess what: they’re no more valuable now then they were then. File that one under Necrophilia.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page:

PS. Patreon has apparently decided to take a slightly bigger cut of your contributions and some of you are dropping out in protest. This only hurts your blogger, who works diligently to bring you this column twice a week. Your recurring contribution keeps the lights on here. In turn, I need to pay the web manager and the website-hosting server. Please give the equivalent of a cup of coffee each month to keep Clusterfuck Nation going!

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Activist Reflects On Protesting Jerry Brown's Climate Speech In Bonn

By Dan Bacher

On the evening of November 29, over a dozen climate justice activists protested Governor Jerry Brown’s speaking appearance at the New York Times ClimateTECH summit at the Metreon in San Francisco.

They called out the hypocrisy of Brown claiming to be a “climate leader” while he promotes fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in the state.

One of the organizers of the San Francisco protest was twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Gustavo Ilario of Castro Valley, who was in Bonn as a part of an indigenous delegation and was one of the protestors who interrupted his speech. Ilario, who is of Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Brasilian heritage, is a member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, an indigenous-women-led climate justice organization.

“Governor Brown is no climate hero,” Ilario said before the protest. “He takes millions from the oil industry and then allows fossil fuel lobbyists to write legislation. We do not have time for half measures and false solutions like California’s cap-and- trade program.”

“We stand in solidarity today because it is our responsibility to provide a livable future for generations to come. Instead of allowing the oil and gas industry to create policy that kicks the can down the road, we need brave leaders and legislation that implement a just transition from a destructive, extractive economy to a regenerative one that respects the sacred system of life,” said Ilario.

Other groups represented at the protest include Rootskeeper, Californians Against Fracking, Oil Money Out, Food and Water Watch.

This is the second time that Brown has faced protests for what activists call his “climate hypocrisy” over the past month. While in Bonn, Germany for the international climate talks, COP 23, indigenous and climate justice advocates disrupted Brown’s talk, yelling “Keep It In the Ground” and other chants.

They were referring to the governor’s strong support of fracking, both offshore and on land in California, and cap-and-trade policies that could prove catastrophic to the Huni Kui People of Acre, Brazil and other indigenous communities around the globe.

Ilario was leading chants in the first group, carrying a banner when they marched into the room. He was on a delegation with “It Takes Roots,” a national multiracial alliance of alliances, led by women gender oppressed people of color and Indigenous Peoples on the frontlines of racial, housing & climate justice across the US and Canada.

The chant went:

“Governor Brown. Still in for what?

Northern California refineries expand pollution. 

Carbon trading, a false solution. 

Keep it in the ground. 

We are here to shut it down."

Obviously surprised as Ilario and others disrupted his speech, Brown stated, "I wish we could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles.”

"In the ground, I agree with you,” Brown said. “In the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.”

“This is very California. Thanks for bringing the diversity of dissent here,” the visibly disturbed Brown continued.

Reflecting on his experience in Bonn, Ilario said he went to Bonn for the second week of the conference. A total of 30 people in four different groups, carrying banners and chanting, marched around the room, to the surprise of Brown and others.

“The four groups focused on four separate topics: (1) California refineries; (2) carbon trading and protecting the rainforest and South America; 3) fracking and (4) natural gas and oil carbon trading,” said Ilario.

When Brown responded to the protesters, Ilario said, “I was initially completely shocked – his response was unbelievable. Afterwards his inability to apologize for his comment speaks to the integrity of Brown and other politicians that they’re are willing to sacrifice our health and safety for corporate profits. Everybody else I was with was also extremely surprised and upset that he said what he did. A lot of people told me they were upset that Brown, in interviews with reporters, said his statement it was a joke – but what we’re going through is NOT a joke.”

Ilario’s delegation was also part of a major action against Trump administration representatives when youth in the Sustain Us Delegation stood up and sang as they challenged Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies. Other notable events during the conference included the release of a carbon pricing guide by a coalition of climate justice groups.

This is first time that Ilario has been to either Germany or COP23, but there were several takeaways he received from going to the conference:

“First, the nation states are really longing to discuss how to profit off the situation of carbon pricing. And their real concern is not the future. Their real concern is allowing the extractive industries to pollute and profit.

Second, we’re building a global resistance and especially indigenous people are coming together to protect Mother Earth.

Third, It is time for everyone to stand up against the fossil fuel industry. The future is at stake and we don’t have time for half measures and false solutions like carbon trading and carbon pricing. It’s an accounting trick where polluters are given permission to expand pollution at the source while pretending their protecting a forest that will offset their carbon. 

Fourth, I think it is important grass roots front line communities are involved in the UN meetings even though nation states don’t work in our best interests. We need to be there and exert our power.”

Ilario said that he become involved in climate justice issues when he joined the Bay Area resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline after hearing Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More San Francisco Bay speak at a No Dakota Access Pipeline meeting last year. In addition to attending the local Idle No More refinery walks and other events, he also supported the Winnemem Wintu’s Run4Salmon, attending its opening ceremony at Sogorea Te, a sacred site in Vallejo.

“I think the campaign to restore salmon is an essential movement because salmon used to live here and deserve a home just as much as us,” he noted.

What does Ilario think of Governor Brown? “I don’t have anything against him as a person, but in fact he is no climate hero. I’m thankful that activists in Bonn sacrificed their time and energy to secure a livable future for generations to come,” he stated.

“’Saving forests’ sounds great, but at the end of the day we get more pollution at home while indigenous people lose their land in the Amazon and abroad with carbon trading and carbon pricing,” he concluded.

While Jerry Brown receives largely fawning coverage in the mainstream and “alternative” media touting his supposedly “green” credentials, he is an enthusiastic promoter of many environmentally destructive policies, including fracking by Big Oil and Big Gas, oil industry-backed carbon trading, pollution of groundwater supplies with oil wastewater and the construction of the salmon-killing Delta Tunnels.

On February 6 of this year, twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, unveiled a comprehensive "report card" on Jerry Brown Administration’s environmental record showing he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including oil drilling, fossil fuel generated electricity, toxic emissions, the California Environmental Quality Act, coastal protection and water.

The report calls for a moratorium on the building of natural gas powered electricity plants, given what they described as “the glut of electric capacity,” and calls for an outside audit of the state’s energy needs. The groups showed how California can improve its environmental protections to meet standards set in other states. The document also urged Brown to abandon his Delta Tunnels project and to make water conservation a priority.

Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at:

* * *

FRIDAY was one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.

* * *



Man is in pain

ten bright balls bat the air

falling through the window

on which his double leans a net the air made

to catch the ten bright balls

Man is a room

where the malefic hand turns a knob

on the unseen unknown double's door

Man is in pain

with his navel hook caught on a stone quarry

where ten bright balls chose to

land AND where the malefic hand carves

on gelatinous air THE WINDOW

to slam shut on his shadow's tail

ten bright balls bounce into the unseen

unknown double's net

Man is a false window

through which his

double walks to the truth

that falls as ten bright balls

the malefic hand tossed into the air

Man is in pain

ten bright spikes nailed to the door


–Philip Lamantia


  1. james marmon December 12, 2017

    The answer to the question as to what we can do to solve this problem? Open up the forests to logging, screw Cananda. Sale of the Timber will pay for fire suppression/prevention cost. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

    Record 129 million dead trees in California; U.S Forest Service, working to address forest health

    “To increase the pace and scale of this important work, we need to fix how fire suppression is funded. Last year fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the Forest Service’s national budget. As fire suppression costs continue to grow as a percentage of the Forest Service’s budget, funding is shrinking for non-fire programs that protect watersheds and restore forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and drought.”

    • Harvey Reading December 12, 2017

      You betcha, plus it’ll open up more clear-cut areas for pot growing. A real win-win situation for any Trump lover. God bless and keep loyal, dominionist folks like you, as “he” always, inexplicably, seems to do, part of why I’m a nonbeliever.

      • james marmon December 12, 2017

        The pot business will moving down to the flatlands, big business, the State Water Board, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will make sure of that.

    • George Hollister December 12, 2017

      Better to let it burn at a high cost. All profits from nature are a sin, because profits disrupt humans ability to live in harmony with nature.

      • Harvey Reading December 12, 2017

        The word, profits, is key here.

        • George Hollister December 12, 2017

          Absolutely. And so is sin.

          • Harvey Reading December 12, 2017


  2. Harvey Reading December 12, 2017

    Thank you, Susie.

    • Harvey Reading December 12, 2017

      My favorite quote from the article:

      “It is almost as if Trump-era Republicans have gone out of their way to embrace the absurd position that former Rep. Barney Frank once attributed to them: ‘[T]he right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.’”

      My second favorite quote from the article, attributed to a fellow named Jess Dweck:

      “For the GOP, childhood begins at conception and ends when a popular Republican molests you.”

  3. Jim Updegraff December 12, 2017

    If Sessions has his way there will be no pot industry. There goes the main source of income in Mendo County

    • George Hollister December 12, 2017

      If we could be so lucky. It is prohibition that created the Mendo pot industry, and it’s huge profits. It is legalization and decriminalization that is killing it.

      • Harvey Reading December 12, 2017

        More likely it was demand, George, as in supply and.

  4. Randy Burke December 12, 2017

    PG&E (Pretty Good and Easy)
    In today’s technological world, it is entirely possible to GIS the above ground lines. It could be effectively scheduled using linemen or trouble personnel to do by entering data during their regular daily activities-nothing fancy, and I have seen one PG&E trouble man do it here on the Coast.
    An additional solution to the problem would be for PG&E to up it’s insurance from $800 Million to somewhere around $10 Billion dollars….Of course the ratepayers may be at risk to pick up the tab for insurance increases, but that may yet need to be vetted, if they consider such a logical choice.

  5. R Smith December 21, 2017

    Re Artcle ‘Odd Couple’
    Sheryl Smith, in a ‘Black Widow’ move, acting in collusion with her apparent love accomplice, ex mayor Douglas Burkey, were found guilty of Grand Theft property fraud against Smith’s ex-companion, Aron Laventer, and arrested and remanded to jail for 1 year, 3 years probation, and obligated to pay $93,000 in restitution to the victims. Some 5 years ago, after first learning of the fraud, and then being reported missing at the Thanksgiving holiday period, Search & Rescue teams found Mr Laventer deceased in a creek bed ravine in a remote part of his property. The Sherriffs office never determined a cause of death. It was found later that Smith and Burkey had filed a fraudulent lien against Mr Laventer’s property, under which they proceeded to callously demand money from Mr Laventer’s children immediately following his death. They then attempted to rush the property into fraudulent foreclosure in a sherriffs sale, to take place at the sheriffs office with little notice to speak of. The family was able to procur legal defense at great cost and stop the sherriffs sale within 12 hours of its being held. During sentencing the judge referred to the case as a well planned, deviously contrived, and callous crime. Sadly Mr Laventer’s suspicious cause of death was never determined at the time, and the family willl never know if the fraud to steal Mr Laventer’s property in Timber Cove, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was somehow linked to his untimely death. Also, sadly, Mr Laventer’s family had to sell the property in order to pay legal fees to stop the foreclosure sale and to prove the fraud under a civil action, after which the Sonoma County Detectives and DA’s office thankfully picked up the case for criminal prosecution. This was a heinous crime, no doubt.

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